Actions

Work Header

When Lines Are Blurred

Chapter Text

Jared sat in the front of the room and stared at the chalkboard with glazed over eyes. Mr. Edlund was droning on about something but god knows which class Jared was even in. Edlund’s monotonous voice was putting Jared into a trance. It was the only class that “teacher’s pet” Jared Padalecki couldn’t stay awake in. He was jerked to alertness by a sharp rebuke by Edlund directed to the back of the classroom. “Ackles!”

Jared stifled a groan. Of course. Jensen Ackles. Blowing off his studies with his arm probably thrown around Danneel. Typical high school couple. Football quarterback and head cheerleader. The entire thing was taken right out of a bad movie and jammed into Jared’s life.

“Do you think you and Miss Harris could possibly tear your eyes off each other long enough to figure out what’s going on in the class?” Mr. Edlund continued.

“Doubt it, Eddie. We’re in our own little bubble right now.”

“Ackles, call me Eddie one more time and I’ll have you thrown in detention for the rest of the year.”

Jensen snorted. “Sure, the few precious weeks that are left. Then I’m out of here.”

“If you graduate,” Edlund shot back. Jared bit his lip. Was Jensen really not going to graduate? “You know what,” Edlund pressed on, “I have a better idea. Talk to me after class. You too, Mr. Padalecki.”

Jared’s head shot up. “Me? What did I do?”

Jensen and Danneel tittered in the back of the room, along with a few of their croonies. Edlund sighed. He was just as eager to be rid of the students as they were to be rid of him. “Nothing, Padalecki, just wait after class.” Their grouchy teacher faced the board again. “Now, as you can see from the diagram here…” Jared slipped back into his comatose state.

When the bell rang signaling the end of class there was a flurry of movement to get up and dart out of the classroom as quickly as possible. Edlund assigned some homework assignment that half the people in the class probably wouldn’t end up doing—including Ackles. Which reminded Jared, “Fuck, I have to stay after class.” Jared threw his books aggressively into his bag and slouched against the front of his desk. Jensen fucking sauntered to the front of the room and kissed Danneel goodbye in front of Edlund.
“See you after class, baby.”

“Bye,” Danneel giggled. She didn’t even glance at Jared as she bumped into him on the way out the door. Bitch.

When the last stragglers had exited the classroom and it was just the 3 of them, Mr. Edlund began to speak. “So, Ackles, your academic career is quite disappointing. Hopefully it’s just my class you’re failing, though I have a feeling it’s not.”

“Straight D’s,” Jensen said proudly. “At least I’m consistent.”

“You’ll be consistently coming to school here until you die unless you get your grades up.”

Ackles only shrugged. “Just more time to see your bright, smiling face.”

Edlund looked like he was trying not to jump across his desk and strangle Ackles. He took a deep breath and said, “Well, I’m getting sick of your face. So I’m hiring a tutor for you.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. Jared’s stomach plummeted. He was a straight A student, Jensen was failing. Jensen needed a tutor. Fuck. “A tutor?” Jensen and Jared said in unison. Jensen’s voice was a low drawl and Jared’s was borderline shriek. Ackles shot him a look.

Edlund sneered at Jensen. “Yes, Ackles, a tutor. Mr. Padalecki has straight A’s. I’m sure he’ll be able to help you. Of course, you’re damn near a lost cause.”

Jared cleared his throat. “Um, I’m sort of swamped with other things at the moment so…”

“Yeah, your social life keeps you really busy,” Ackles snorted. “All the friends you have.”

Jared felt a blush rising in his cheeks. “Academic stuff. College apps.”

“Something you haven’t even considered, Mr. Ackles,” Edlund scolded Jensen. Jensen only rolled his eyes.

Jared so didn’t want to do this. There were so many reasons why he didn’t want to do this. “I’m busy.”

Edlund sighed. “I’ll give you extra credit, Padalecki, if you can whip this mediocre student into a college applicant.”

Jared really didn’t need extra credit, and no amount could possibly persuade Jared into helping a pathetic case like Ackles. “Mr. Edlund…”

“Yeah, come on, neither of us want to do this. Let’s just leave it alone,” Jensen agreed.

“This is not up to either of you! You’re tutoring Ackles, Mr. Padalecki, and Ackles you are going to cooperate. Your graduation is on the line, Ackles, I hope you realize that.”

“Yeah, yeah, because that’s top on my priority list right now. I’ve got a football championship to look forward to.”

“Well guess what? A few colleges might offer you football scholarships if you can possibly pass a single class.”

Jensen groaned. “Fine. Fine. I’ll go to the damn tutoring sessions.”

Jared wanted to strangle Edlund. “Fine. I’ll tutor him.”

“Awesome. Meet you in the parking lot after school, Padalecki,” Jensen smirked. “I hope you’re prepared to deal with me.”

Jared groaned.

 

Jared didn’t feel like eating during lunch. He sat down with Mike Rosenbaum, his best friend and put his head in his hands. Mike looked at him with concern. “History didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, did it?”

“I’ve been coerced into tutoring someone.”

“Who?”

Jared lifted his head. “Jensen Ackles.”

Mike raised an eyebrow. “Football quarterback, dating Danneel Harris, dream boy Jensen Ackles?”

Jared ducked his head again. “Unfortunately.”

“How’d that happen?”

“Edlund dragged us into it. Trust me, Jensen’s just as enthusiastic about it as I am.”

“How will you survive his nasty little attitude problem?”

Jared shook his head. “Just kill me. It’ll be easier than putting up with that asshole for the rest of the school year.”

Mike gave him a sympathetic look. “Sorry, buddy, as your best friend I’m obligated to keep you alive throughout high school.”

“Fuck high school.”

“Never thought I’d hear Jared Padalecki say that.”

“Shut up, Mike.”

Mike laughed and bit into his sandwich. “Well,” He said with a mouthful of peanut butter, “at least you’ll be able to see Genevieve more often. You’ve been lusting after her, right?”

Jared shrugged. “I guess,” he lied. In truth, he’d been more interested in Genevieve’s boyfriend than Gen, but he hadn’t had the guts to tell anybody. Even his best friend.

Mike patted his shoulder. “I’ve gotta go catch up on calc homework. Enjoy tutoring Jensen Ackles.”

Jared’s head fell back into his hands.

************************************************************

Jensen tapped his pencil on his desk to the rhythm of a country song he heard on the radio. Kripke was the one teacher that he could actually stand. His English teacher was the most laidback teacher that probably existed. “We’re going to explore the hidden depths of the jungle today.”

“The jungle of English class?” Chris scoffed. Jensen grinned at his best friend.

“No, Mr. Kane. The Jungle. It’s a novel by Upton Sinclair. We will explore the meatpacking industry in depth and the horrors that surround it.”

Chris raised an eyebrow. “There’s like, a month left in school. How are we supposed to read a book?”

“Be prepared to spend less time on the football field and more time in the library, Mr. Kane.”

Jensen and Chris simultaneously rolled their eyes. it was highly unlikely either of them would go to the library at any point during the remainder of the school year. Not with the championship approaching so rapidly. Kripke seemed to read their minds because he said, “You too, Mr. Ackles. Just because there’s only a little bit left to push through doesn’t mean you can slack off.”

Jensen sighed. “Yes sir.”

Kripke gave a laidback smile. “Well then, let us dive in to the world of The Jungle.” His soft, possibly stoner voice lulled Jensen into a boredom induced sleep.

 

Jensen was possibly the most annoyed person at the end of the school day. He didn’t want to go to the damn tutoring session with one of the most obnoxious students and teacher’s pet. Jared Padalecki was stuck up, Harvard bound, overachieving, and obnoxious. Spending any more than 5 minutes with that inflated-head Padalecki would probably drive Jensen insane.

He sank down against the wall outside English. He only looked up when a soft hand touched his shoulder. “Hey, Danni.”

Danneel sat beside him. “Hey baby. What’s up? You barely touched your lunch.”

Jensen placed his elbows on his bent knees. “Edlund signed me up for tutoring.”

Danneel raised a perfect eyebrow. God she was gorgeous. “Tutoring?”

“Apparently he’s suddenly taken an interest in my education. College and shit like that.”

Danni ran her fingers through his hair soothingly. “Who’s going to be your tutor?”

“Jared Padalecki.”

“Who?”

“He sits in the front of the classroom in our history class. Messy hair, tall as a tree, always has slouched shoulders?”

Danneel nodded. “You’re being tutored by the teacher’s pet?”

“Unfortunately.” Jensen sighed. “He’s supposed to be waiting in the parking lot. We’re gonna go study and I’m supposed to concentrate and stuff.”

Danni snorted. “That sounds horrible.”

“It’s going to be horrible. Danni, I need you.”

Danneel kissed his temple lightly. “I’m always going to be here for you, baby. Cheering you on, every step of your life. College or not, you’re my boy and I’m your girl. Forever.”

Jensen leaned over to kiss her. “Forever.”

************************************************************ 

Jared tapped his foot impatiently on the ground by his car. “He’s late. Of course he’s late.”

“Relax, relax, I’m here.” Jensen leaned against Jared’s truck. “Just a little late.”

Jared rolled his eyes. Just get in the truck. We’ll go to your house and-,”

“No!” Jensen said suddenly. “Not my house. Yours.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Um, okay, it’s sort of a mess.”

“I don’t care, we just can’t go to my house.”

Jared opened his door. “Okay. Then get in, Ackles.”

“Okay, okay, okay.” Jensen hopped in the passenger seat. “Let’s go study, Padalecki.”

 

Jared pulled up to his house, praying his parents weren’t home. It was the most awkward car ride that Jared had ever been in. Neither of them had made any effort to talk to each other and Jensen had spend the time drumming on the dashboard. If Jensen was trying to make a beat or something, Jared couldn’t tell.

Jensen hummed as he hopped out of the car and kicked the door shut. “Careful,” Jared snapped. “It’s not exactly a new car. Not like your fucking BMW or whatever you drive.”

“You can hate on the BMW all you want,” Jensen replied easily, “she’s a beautiful car.”

“Yeah, if you’re a douchebag,” Jared muttered.
“I heard that.”

“You were supposed to.”

Jared’s small house probably didn’t even compare to Jensen’s gigantic—from what Jared’s heard—mansion. There were dishes in the sink and papers and books littered every surface available. Jared led the way upstairs into his room, waiting for Jensen to make a comment about his house. It never came.

Jared’s little sister was blasting trashy pop music from her room and Jared banged on the door as he passed it. “Megan! Turn it down!”
“What?”

“Turn the music down!”

“What?” Jared heard Megan stifling a laugh and knew she could hear him. He pushed the door open.

“Turn the music down, you little brat!” Jared snapped. Jensen popped his head over Jared’s shoulder.

“Hey,” He chirped. “You Jared’s sister?”

Megan opened and closed her mouth like a fish. “Megan,” She squeaked.

“Cute. I’ve got a little sister, too. Mackenzie.”

“Mackenzie Ackles? I know her!”

“Well I’m Jensen Ackles, and your brother’s gonna help me pass my classes.” Jensen clapped Jared on the shoulder and he shrugged it off. “So if you could keep the music down a little, that’d be awesome.” He shot her a blinding smile. Megan blushed.

“Sure thing.”

Jensen winked at her. “Lead the way, Padalecki.”

Jared turned with a groan and led Jensen down to his bedroom. He opened the door and slammed it as soon as Jensen was inside. Jensen raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything about it. “Let’s get started.” Jensen tossed his backpack on Jared’s bed.

“Fine. What subject do you want to start with?” Jared asked.

“None. I want to go hang out with Danni.”

“Jensen,” Jared groaned. “Please. Meet me halfway.”

Jensen sighed but pulled out his calc textbook. “Hardest one first, right?”

Jared found calculus fairly easy but didn’t mention that. “Okay. Whatever you want.”

Jensen flipped it open. “Um, so I’ve got a bunch of problems to do. So, um. Yeah.” Jensen didn’t look confident, which was a first. Jared wanted to gloat.

“Go ahead. Just ask for help if you need it.”

“Yeah right,” Ackles snorted. Stuck up asshole.

About halfway through Jared looked up and saw Jensen’s eyes furrowed. His pencil hadn’t moved and there was nothing written on his paper. Jared ignored it and continued to work on his own problems but then Ackles cleared his throat and said, “Um, I might, maybe, need some help. I can’t… I don’t know how to…” Jensen sounded embarrassed.

Jared really wanted to take advantage of the situation but he looked into Jensen’s eyes and saw honest weakness. Even Jensen didn’t deserve to be mocked right now. “What don’t you get?”

“Um… any of it?”

This is why you pay attention in class. “That’s okay,” Jared found himself saying. “That’s what I’m here for.” Jared moved over and sat by Jensen. “So, which problem are you on?”

“One.” Jensen was blushing. “I just—I’m not smart.”

Jared pitied Jensen in his vulnerable state. “It just takes practice. Here, this problem is just a basic volume problem. Except, with a lot more numbers and letters.”

“I don’t get the letters. Why do they have to involve letters?” Jensen groaned.

Jared bit back a laugh. “If I show you the first one, do you promise to try and do the rest?”

“Can I still ask you for help?” Ackles asked. He turned up to Jared and Jared felt his breath catch when he saw how startling green Jensen’s eyes were.

“Of course,” Jared mumbled. “That’s what a tutor is for.”

Jensen smiled shyly and Jared found himself thinking that this tutoring thing might not be so bad after all.

************************************************************ 

Jensen was sitting on Padalecki’s bed suffering through his calc homework. Jared had showed him how to do the first problem and it made the rest of the homework easier, shockingly. He’d had to ask Jared for help a couple more times but managed to do the majority of the 50 problems alone. When he was done, he threw his pencil down with a loud, “Ha!”

Jared looked up at him. “What’s up?”

“I’m done!” Jensen exclaimed proudly. “I’ve done all of them!”

Jared smirked. “Finally done what you’re supposed to do.”

Jensen pumped his fist. “Hell yeah I did. I guess thanks to you. So, are you done too?”

“Yeah. Finished calc. And history, and physics.”

“Ugh, fuck you and your smartness.” Jared looked taken aback and Jensen said quickly, “It’s how my friends and I talk to each other. We don’t really hate each other or anything. It’s sort of like, fuck you in a good way.”

“That’s a thing?” Jared asked. His eyebrows were crinkled in an adorably confused way.

“Yeah, Jared,” Jensen said. “That’s a thing.”

“We could do history next,” Jared offered.

“Fucking Edlund. He thinks I’m so stupid.” Jensen kicked the bed in frustration. “Maybe he’s right. Fuck him.”

“I don’t think you’re using it in a good way this time,” Jared replied. It took Jensen a moment but he realized Jared was actually making a joke. He bit back a smile.

“No, this time it’s in the bad way.”

“Figured. So, do you wanna work on history, or English, or science?”

“I don’t need help in English,” Jensen admitted. “I have an A.”

Jared’s eyebrows disappeared into his long bangs. “An A?”

“Yeah, people are always surprised,” Jensen said. It made him pretty sad, actually, that everyone always assumed he was failing everything.

“I thought you had straight D’s?”

“No,” Jensen said. “A in English and C’s in everything else. Except history. I have a D in history. Edlund hates me. I can’t work in a class where a teacher hates me.”

“Well, you sit in the back and gossip with Danneel all the time, that could contribute to the problem.”

Jensen scoffed. “I do not gossip. Girls gossip. I am a man.”

Jared chuckled. “Okay, sorry. Either way, she’s a distraction.”

Jensen shrugged. “She’s my girlfriend. I’ve gotta stick with her. Forever.”

“Forever’s a long time, Jensen.”

“I know,” Jensen groaned. He fell back on the bed. “I know. I just…” I don’t know how to do anything else. “It’s just what I do.”

Jared looked at him. Jensen saw pity in his eyes and it made him angry. Jensen hated when people pitied him. “Look,” Jared said. “Edlund’s wrong. You’re not stupid. You’ve got an A in English. You’ve got C’s, that’s a passing grade. We can bump all these grades up. I guarantee it.”

“Why are you being so nice?” Jensen asked.

“Why are you being so nice?”

Jensen didn’t respond. Jared smirked. Thought he knew everything, did the smartass? Fine. Let him think that. Jensen didn’t care.

“How do you have an A in English?” Jared suddenly.

Jensen cleared his throat. Somehow it didn’t sound like an insult when Jared asked that question. “Um, I like Kripke.”

“I feel like that’s not the only reason.”

Jensen didn’t like how Jared was prodding him. “Okay, so maybe I’m good at English. I put effort into that class. And I am sort of a good writer.”

Jared grinned. “You can write? And here I thought you were a man.”

“Shut up. There are male authors.”

“Yeah, but you’re not writing books, are you?” Jared asked all too knowingly.

“Essays and stuff.” There was no way Jensen was telling Jared about what he wrote.

Jared dropped the subject for now. “I’m being nice because I’m getting extra credit to give you a fighting chance to get into college.”

Jensen bit his lip. “We both know I’m not getting into college. At this point it’ll be a miracle if I even graduate.”

“You will,” Jared said. The conviction in his voice surprised Jensen. “I know you will.”

Now all Jensen had to do was convince himself.

 ************************************************************

Jared barely tasted his dinner. His mom had made spaghetti and meatballs, which was a favorite of Jared’s. But Jared could barely choke down a noodle. “Jared,” His dad finally said. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Jared lied. In truth, his heart still hadn’t stopped beating a mile a minute from sitting a foot away from the hottest guy in school.

“Are you sure?” His mother asked. Her voice was kind and gentle. Jared couldn’t lie to his mom.

“I’m tutoring Jensen Ackles.”

Alan raised his eyebrow. “You’ve complained about him all 3 ½ years of high school and suddenly you’re tutoring him? What brought this about?”

“You can blame Mr. Edlund,” Jared said tonelessly. “I’m getting extra credit for this.”

“You don’t need it,” Sherri said. “You have a 4.0.”

“I know, mom, but he might not graduate without my help.”

“Isn’t he a jerk?” Sherri asked. “You’ve said all he thinks about his football and himself.”

“Yeah, I know I said that. I still think that. But I could be wrong. It’s possible for people to make mistakes.”

“Not you,” Megan piped up. “You haven’t made a mistake since kindergarten.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything, Megan,” Jared snapped.

“Maybe he’s just playing you,” Megan replied, snarkily twirling noodles around her fork. “Maybe he’s just using you to get a good grade.”

God, how Jared wished that was false. Though he couldn’t deny, the thought had crossed his mind. “He’s not,” Jared said stubbornly. “I know he’s not.”

“So, after one tutoring session you’re best friends with the guy? Trust me, when you see him in school he’ll pass right by you.”

“Megan!” Sherri reprimanded sharply. “Don’t say things like that.”

Megan shrugged, not looking the least bit apologetic. “Just saying it like it is.”

Jared picked at his food and found his slight appetite vanish completely. Alan noticed. “Megan’s just saying things. Eat, Jared.”

Jared nodded and lifted the fork to his lips. It was tasteless and made Jared nauseous. Though, the sick feeling could easily be from Megan’s words. Jared hoped and hoped that she was wrong.

But how often do wishes come true?

 

Jared opened his locker the next morning planning to grab his textbooks. At first he thought it was the wrong locker since everything seemed to have a purple cover on it. Jared looked closer and realized that his textbooks, his books, and pretty much everything that was in his locker covered in a purple pudding-like substance. Jared gaped at the mess before hearing a burst of laughter behind him.

Jared turned sharply to see Steve Carlson leaning on Chris’s shoulder. They were both cracking up. Jared downcast his eyes before they could see the pain in them. “Morning, Padalecki!” Chris said in a sing-song voice. “Something wrong?”

Jared learned early on that responding was a mistake. He kept his head down and took to trying to wipe as much of the purple goop off as possible. It stuck to his hand and repulsed Jared. God how he hated Chris and Steve. Two of the highest members on the hierchy of popularity, and two of Jensen’s football teammates. Jensen. He couldn’t possibly have been in on this.

“What’s going on?” Someone said. “What did you two assholes do?”

Jared recognized the voice. Ackles was here. Maybe… maybe he’d help. Jared turned to look at the three friends. A crowd had started to gather. “Just having a little fun with the teacher’s pet,” Chris drawled. “Not like he’s gonna fight back.”

Steve eyed his body. “You’d be a perfect football player. If you weren’t so bad on your feet.”

As if to emphasize Steve’s point, Jared slipped on a bit of the goop that had fallen onto the floor. He winced as his ankle twisted in a wrong direction. Chris and Steve erupted into a fresh bout of laughter. Jensen wasn’t laughing, but he wasn’t making any move to help Jared, either. Jared looked up at him with helpless eyes and Jensen bit his lip. He moved slightly forward as if to help but stopped mid step. Jared sighed. Megan was right. Jared stood up and continued to clean his books off as much as possible.

“Come on, you assholes, get out of here,” Jared heard Jensen say. “You’re gonna be late for class.”

“Since when do you care about class?”

“Go, Chris,” Jensen commanded. “You too, Steve.”

“Yo, Ackles, see you at the party tomorrow?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Jared kept his head buried in his locker until he felt a movement next to him. He pulled his head out too quickly and bumped it on the top of the metal. Jensen was leaning casually against the row of lockers. “You alright?”

Jared glared. “Fine. Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“Shouldn’t you?”

“I would be, but your asshole friends covered my books with…” Jared threw his hands up. “Hell, I don’t even know what this is!”

“Vanilla pudding with purple food coloring.” Jensen swiped his finger in it and licked it. “See?”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Well, edible or not it’s covering my books.”

“Do you want help?”

“No. Get the hell to class.”

“We’re still on for tutoring, right?”

Jared looked into Jensen’s earnest green eyes. “Of course. Parking lot at 3.”

“I’ll try not to be late this time.” Jensen flashed a smile. “Bye, Padalecki.”

“Bye,” Jared muttered. Jensen was already gone.

 ************************************************************

Jensen felt bad about Chris and Steve’s prank. He’d known they were going to pull something on someone. Thursday morning they always got riled up. It was the day before their football games and they needed to burn off some nervous energy. It didn’t stop Jensen from feeling guilty, especially when he saw the pain in Jared’s kind eyes.

A day ago Jensen would have been laughing alongside his friends. Hell, he might have even helped them. Today, all he could think about was Jared talking him through his calculus homework and being patient when Jensen got frustrated. Jared was kind and funny and yeah, he was smart, but that didn’t make him a bad person.

Jensen was a bad person for standing there and watching as a kind soul was humiliated for no good reason.

He doodled on his physics notes. There were a few things written down but it’s not like he understood them anyway, so what was the point? Jensen wasn’t going to graduate. He wasn’t going to college. He was a failure. Mr. Edlund was right. Ever insult, every critic, every remark that Edlund had ever made about him was true; Jensen was going nowhere. He pressed down too hard with his pencil and it snapped. Fuck.

One more thing to fix.

 

Jensen slumped out of the classroom. After about 30 minutes he’d given up on taking notes and figured he’d just copy Padalecki’s at tutoring today. This way he wouldn’t have to really think. Maybe Jared would even help him with the problems like he’d done with Jensen’s calc homework.

Jensen felt a sudden weight on his back and a girl squeal, “Hi, Jenny!”

Jensen laughed. “Hey, Danni.”

Danneel placed a kiss on his neck. “How was tutoring?” She whispered.

Jensen groaned. “Awful, Danni. I don’t know anything. He’s so fucking smart. It’s just another reminder that I’m going nowhere.”

Danneel slid off and turned Jensen to face her. “Jensen. You’re one hell of a guy. Fuck Edlund, fuck everyone if they don’t see what I do. I don’t care about college. I want to be with you. You’re smart and clever and charming and always a team player, on and off the field. I’ve never met another guy that makes me feel the way I do.” 

Jensen smiled at his beautiful girlfriend. “How’d I get so lucky with you, Danni?”

Danneel smirked. “You’re a lucky guy, Ackles.”

“Well hopefully some of that luck carries to the game tomorrow. Only a few more games until the championship.”

“You’ll win,” Danneel said confidently. “I’m sure of it.”

Jensen wondered where everyone was getting their confidence in him from. Jensen certainly didn’t see the guy everyone else did. Jensen didn’t see anything. 

Chapter Text

Jared dreaded the impending doom that was surely awaiting him in 3rd period. Listening to Edlund drone on about history…Jared just didn’t want to deal with that shit anymore. He’d liked history. All year he liked history. All Jared’s life he’d liked history. But some dumbass quarterback screwed that up for him after one tutoring session. One hour alone with the douche and Jared didn’t know which way was up.

Jared took a deep breath before entering the classroom. Danneel was draped across the desk with her arm over an empty chair—saving it for Jensen. Gen was twisted around to talk to Danneel. Her slim body and shiny piles of hair didn’t make Jared’s heart skip a beat like it used to. Jared almost missed how simple it was; lusting after the pretty, popular girls like everyone else.

Instead, he was lusting after the pretty, popular girls’ boyfriends.

Jared dropped into his usual seat in the front of the classroom. No one sat next to him, unless it was test day and someone was looking to cheat. Jensen strolled in casually just before the bell rang and slid in beside Danneel. They shared a quick kiss before Mr. Edlund could yell at them. Stupid happy couple.

And to think, Jared actually thought Jensen had the potential to be a good guy.

Jared started to daydream as Edlund began to talk. His voice maintained the usual monotone quality that could put even the most caffeinated person to sleep. About 15 minutes in, Jared dared a glance back at Jensen.

Jensen was talking to Danneel. Their heads were bent together and they had dorky smiles on their faces. Suddenly, Jensen glanced up and met Jared’s gaze. Jared’s head snapped around quickly and he felt his neck kink up. Dammit, that hurt. He massaged his neck and tried to block out the electric feeling of Jensen’s emerald eyes seeing straight into his soul.

Jared wanted to turn around and see if Jensen was still looking at him. Jared wanted him to be. Jared wanted Jensen to feel the same skip in his heartbeat that Jared felt when he looked at Jensen. Jared peeked behind him with the corner of his eye and saw that Jensen was back in conversation with Danneel, all thoughts of Jared gone.

Figures.

Jared turned back to the board. Edlund was showing the class a map of the world and pointing out little red dots. Maybe they were significant battles in some significant war in some significant time period. Jared started to nod off. Edlund’s class? Not significant, and the only war ever fought was the battle to stay awake.

Jared heard a loud bout of laughter and turned to see Danneel and her croonies sniggering over something Ackles had said. Edlund’s face turned bright red. “Miss Harris! Please, keep it down! I’m trying to teach, not that you or your pretty-boy boyfriend really care.”

“We care,” Danneel crooned. “Sooo much.” Her voice was tinged with sarcasm that only tuned, teenage ears could ear. Mr. Edlund sniffed and turned back to his stupid map.

Ackles grinned at his girlfriend and leaned down to murmur, “Great work, sweetheart.”

Jared could help but wish it was his ear Jensen was murmuring in. Fat chance it ever would be. Besides, Ackles was a jerk. Jared silently reprimanded himself for the slight jealousy he felt for Danneel and her stupid red hair and stupid manicured nails. He hated the perfect cheerleader.

And most of all he hated, her stupid, arrogant, self-centered, football-loving, green-eyed boyfriend.

 

Jared had calc next. It was an easy class, at least for someone as smart as Jared, and the class was blissfully Jensen-free. However, Danneel and Chris were both in the class. Queen bitch and Jensen’s right hand man. Jared knew Chris would still be riding on the euphoria of humiliating Jared this morning, and Danneel—well, she was always just bitchy. Jared felt perfectly justified in hating both of them.

Their teacher, Mr. Hagan, began to speak. “So, class, the end of the school year is nearing upon us. Along with the football championship-,” Chris let out a whoop-, “But by no means should our concentration be broken. Finals also arrive at the end of the year, students, and I expect high scores from all of you. With hard work and dedication, it’s possible.” Jared didn’t miss the way his eyes flicked to Danneel and Chris and he wondered if they were failing.

“Now, pull out your textbooks. Phones away. Page 508 is where we will begin. I said phones away, Miss Harris. You too, Mr. Kane. One more violation and I’ll take them for the summer!”

Danneel looked horrified and threw hers immediately into her bag. Chris nonchalantly slipped his into his pocket and Jared doubted it would stay there for the duration of the class period. No one stayed focus all the way through calculus. Even Mr. H yawned halfway through. “Now, students,” Hagan yawned again. “You know what, let’s just start on the homework. Lesson concluded.”

A few students cheered and Jared saw Chris’ hand slip into the pocket where his phone was hidden. Jared cocked his head to the side to eavesdrop on Danneel and Chris while he scribbled out answers to the homework problems. “So, how’s tutoring going?” Chris asked Danneel quietly.

“For Jensen? Awful.”

“Really?”
“Yeah, he said Padalecki was smart and stuck-up. Couldn’t stand sitting in his company and doing the homework.”

“Yeah, well Padalecki’s an ass,” Chris agreed. “I swear, if he gives Jensen any crap at all for not passing, I’ll beat the shit out of him, I don’t care how tall he is.”

Danneel smiled and touched Chris’s arm. “I know you will, honey, but Jensen can take care of himself. He’s a big boy. The quarterback,” Danneel finished smugly.

“I can’t even think about football without thinking about the championship. It’s weeks away, Danni. We’ve worked all year for this. Jensen’s so looking forward to it… if we lose, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

“Well, you’ll have the cheerleaders on the sidelines cheering you on,” Danneel comforted. “I have faith in you.”

“Mr. Kane! Miss Harris! Work!” Mr. Hagan said from the front.

Danneel rolled her eyes and the two ducked their heads to speak quieter. “We’re fucked if Jensen gets distracted by this tutoring thing. We need his head on straight, focused 110%. He’s our captain, our leader. Can you make sure he stays on the football track rather than falling down the broken academic railroad?”

Danneel popped a piece of gum into her mouth. “Trust me, that bridge was burned a long time ago. Jensen’s all in with football. Tutoring means nothing to him, and neither does that boy. Padalecki.”

Chris chuckled. “Wait till I tell you what Steve and I did this morning…”

Jared tuned out their conversation. Tutoring means nothing to him, and neither does that boy. Danneel’s words ran through Jared’s head over and over again. She knew Jensen better than anyone else in the school; she was Jensen’s closest confidant. Danneel—as much as Jared hated to admit it—was probably telling the truth. Jensen didn’t care. Not about the tutoring, and not about Jared.

When the bell ran, Jared’s paper was still blank.

 

 

Jensen chomped a piece of Danneel’s gum nervously through lunch. “Jen, baby, eat something,” Danneel coaxed. “You’ve got a game tomorrow night.”

“Who cares, it’s not the championship.” Jensen bit his lip. It was becoming raw and cracked. Jensen felt like his back was going to break underneath the anxiety that was piled on top of him. He had to be tutored after school, sprint to football practice, hear about the championship all the time, and if Jensen didn’t ace every single one of these activities, he was a failure. It was fucking exhausting.

“Still a game,” Steve replied. “And we’ve still gotta win. We can’t appear weak.”

“Or maybe if we seem weak, the Hawks will underestimate us and come finals they won’t be prepared,” Jensen suggested. It was a lame suggestion and they all knew it.

Chris picked at his soggy pasta. “I’m not quite sure what this is supposed to be. It’s green.”

“It’s pesto,” Jensen said. “Though, probably not very good pesto.”

Chris crinkled his nose. “How do you know what pesto is?”
“Guys are allowed to know basic pasta styles,” Jensen snapped. “How many green sauces do you know of?”

“Lots, and they probably all taste better than the school’s pesto.”

Jensen chewed harder on his gum. “If I didn’t play tomorrow, what would coach say?”

Chris and Steve exchanged incredulous glances. “Of course you have to play tomorrow!” Steve exclaimed. “It’s our last few games here together! Coach would kick your ass if you bailed.”

“Yeah, Jensen, you love football. What’s brought this about?” Chris asked hesitantly. He glanced at Danneel.

“Nothing,” Jensen mumbled. “Just nervous, I guess.”

“Well buck up, Jenny boy, because you’re the one that’s gonna lead us to victory!” Steve exclaimed.

“Why does it always have to be me?” Jensen exclaimed. He stood up loudly and muttered, “I’ll see you later,” before storming out of the cafeteria.

Sure, that was a little over the top dramatic. But even football players needed a little drama when they had to make a point. And Jensen definitely needed to make a point.

What exactly was his point? That he was wimping out right when his team needed him most? That he was a coward that backed away from challenges? Those things don’t earn you a starting spot on the varsity football team. Those things don’t make you captain. Those things make you weak. You have to handle the pressure, that’s what his coach always said. You have to balance it out and shove it into the opponents face when they came charging at you. Yoga for men.

Jensen’s head thunked back against the metal lockers. The bits that jutted out dug into his skull and made him wince. He shut his eyes and tried to ignore the chatter coming from the cafeteria and the faint smell of what the school was trying to pass off as pesto.

Steve and Chris were right. He was the leader. He had a game tomorrow, and he was going to win.

 

Kripke’s soothing voice had once again dragged Jensen into a light sleep. If Kripke knew that Jensen slept during his class, he didn’t care. Why would he? Jensen was passing the class with flying colors. If he wanted to doze a little bit before dragging his ass to tutoring, he should be allowed to.

Turns out The Jungle wasn’t actually a horrible book. They weren’t very far into it yet, but it was 100 times better than Hamlet. Brief summary—everyone dies. Not something you would read for fun. Unless you were a crazy high school English teacher like Kripke. If you look for him at lunch or during break you’ll find him sitting cross-legged on his desk with his nose buried in Shakespeare or Hawking or someone famous and complicated.

But The Jungle was a good book. Honest, real, and it held your attention. Jensen might not eat at McDonalds ever again, but at least he wasn’t falling asleep while he did the reading. He just fell asleep during class. In his dreams, he saw the football games and cheering fans, flashing cameras burning behind his eyelids.

 

Jensen walked tiredly to Jared’s beat up car. Jared was sitting in the driver’s seat and looked impatient. It was only 3:01. “Hey, Padalecki.”

Jared turned to face him with a look that said finally. “Get in.”

“Why don’t we take the BMW? She misses me.”

“Who’s driving it right now?” Jared asked. He sounded unsympathetic to Jensen’s car’s needs.

“Danni’s taking it home for me.”

“You trust Danneel with your car?”

“Of course I do. She’s my girlfriend. We trust each other. You’d know if you ever fucking dated.”

Jared glared and faced forward. “Just get in the fucking car.”

Jensen felt a little guilty about his comment, he knew it was mean. But not guilty enough to apologize. “So, we’re going to make this tutoring session short, right?”

“Edlund wants you to get all your homework done at these sessions. We cut off at an hour yesterday but I think we should extend it.”

Jensen shook his head. “We can’t. I have football, and well, with the championship coming up-,”

Jared rolled his eyes. “I know all about the fucking championship. It’s all your stupid team and all your croonies can talk about. It’s three weeks away, I think you can be spared for 30 minutes.”

Jensen ignored his sarcasm. “My croonies? What do I look like, an evil villain?”

“Act like it,” Jared muttered under his breath. Jensen pretended he didn’t hear him. If Jared was going to be an asshole, that was fine.

“Have you even gone to any football games, Jared?” Jensen asked, sliding inside the beat up truck.

Jared shrugged. “Haven’t had the time.”

“Jesus, what do you do for fun?” Jensen asked. “Do you have fun? Or is it all books, all studying, all the time?”

“Now it includes tutoring your sorry ass, so let’s go,” Jared said. Jensen slammed the truck door.

“Lead the way, Padalecki.”

“My mom might be home, can’t we go to your house?”

Jensen froze. No way Jensen was letting Jared come over to his house. “I’m sure your mom is fine. Or we can go to the library. Or anywhere. Just not my house, Padalecki.”

“Dude, I’m sure whatever you’re hiding-,”

“I’m not hiding anything,” Jensen snapped. “Now drive.”

Jared shrugged again and they tore out of the parking lot.

 

 

Jared was dying of curiosity. He wanted to know why Jensen was so adamant about not going to his house.  There was nothing at Jensen’s house that could be worse than Jared’s. If it was a house as gorgeous as everyone claimed, then there would be no shame in seeing it. So it couldn’t be the exterior. It was the interior. Did they have medieval decorations? Ugly family pictures of Jensen? Jared’s head was going to burst with curiosity. 

“Jared, dude, you look like your head is about to explode,” Jensen joked. “We don’t have to go to your house if you really don’t want to.”

Jared sighed. “It’s fine. Really, I don’t mind. Just… don’t get too weirded out by my mom, okay?”

Jensen’s eyebrows jumped up. “Okay, Jared, I won’t get too weirded out by your mom.”

Jared nodded his thanks and pulled into his driveway. The dusty Subaru told Jared that yes, his mom was home, and he started praying right there that she wouldn’t be too embarrassing and Jensen wouldn’t be an asshole.

Jared wanted to sprint upstairs and lock the door behind them before Sherri could spot them. But Sherri was bustling around in the kitchen and spotted them as soon as they entered the door. “Boys!” She chirped. “How are you?”

Jared grunted but Jensen replied cheerfully, “Awesome, Mrs. Padalecki. Thanks.”

Sherri grinned brightly. “Do you want some snacks or something?” Jensen opened his mouth to respond but Jared grabbed his wrist and dragged him upstairs.

“Sorry mom, we’ve got lots of homework, gotta get right down to it!” Jared called down. He roughly shoved Jensen into his room and shut the door.

“Wow, Padalecki, so eager to get me alone,” Jensen mocked. His eyes had that damn sparkle in them the way a predator did when it knew it’s pray was cornered.

“Shut up,” Jared snapped. “I thought you had football practice. Let’s get started.”

Ackles dropped the subject and jumped on Jared’s bed. “So, Padalecki, where do you want to start today? Since you’re the tutor who supposedly is going to help me graduate in a month.”

“If you take this seriously, which you really don’t seem to be doing. All you care about is your stupid football team and your stupid friends. These tutoring sessions seem so far down on your list of priorities you barely glance at them.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Jensen retorted. “What’s gotten into you, anyway? Is this about Chris and Steve’s prank? Because I had nothing to do with that.”

Jared threw up his hands. “Yeah, but you were right there with them! And—that’s not the point. The point is that winning some championship title is more important to you than graduating, Jensen! Does it not actually occur to you that if you don’t pass Edlund’s class you might not graduate?”

“Another year of high school football, makes no difference to me,” Jensen drawled.

“Fine!” Jared cried. “Then leave and tutor yourself, jackass, because I don’t want to waste my time on someone who doesn’t give a fuck!” Jensen glared at him, and Jared glared right back. This asshole could act like he didn’t care all he wanted. Jared knew that deep down, Jensen didn’t want to face the humiliation of having to repeat his senior year. Jared took a deep breath and said in a calmer voice, “Look, winning is important to you, right? What’s the difference between winning a football game and graduating high school. It’s just another opponent you beat, Jensen.”

Ackles seemed less than convinced, but he sat back down on the bed. “And you really think you can help me?”
“Of course. Your family and I-,”

“My family doesn’t care,” Jensen said abruptly. “They don’t even know I’m being tutored. They don’t care.”

“That’s not tr-,”

“It is true, Jared, now can we just start studying?” Jensen pulled out his calculus book. “I got one problem done in class today, so I think I can probably work out some of the others before I come crying to you for help.”

“Well, if you need it…” Jared’s sentence died on his tongue. Jensen was staring at the book but his eyes stayed focused on one spot and Jared could tell he wasn’t reading the homework at all. “Jensen.” Jensen didn’t look up. “Come on, Jensen.”

Jensen turned to him with anger filled eyes. “What, Padalecki?”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with you? I told you, if it’s Chris and Steve, those guys are assholes, but that’s not who I am, Jared!” Jensen’s sentence spilled out so quickly Jared could barely distinguish the words from each other.

“I heard Danneel say you don’t care about tutoring,” Jared admitted. That you don’t care about me.

Jensen bit his lip. “I lied to her. I told her it was awful and that… that it was a waste of my time.”

“Do you really feel that way?” Jared asked. He held his breath waiting for Jensen’s answer.

The anger ebbed out of Jensen’s green eyes. The hard emerald turned into a grassy green. “Of course not, Jared. No one can make me do anything I don’t want to. If I’m here, it’s because I want to learn, I want to graduate, and I don’t want people to look at me and see a pretty boy who doesn’t have enough brains to fill a teacup.”

“I don’t see that,” Jared mumbled. He blushed as soon as he said it. And refused to look up at Jensen.

“Well, at least someone has a little faith in me,” Jensen said. Jared heard a smile in his voice and gathered enough courage to look up at the handsome boy. “No one else has ever said anything that nice to me before. Like, ever.”

“Danneel?”

Jensen snorted. “Danneel loves her quarterback. If I wasn’t handsome or the captain of the football player, Danni wouldn’t look twice at me.”

“And you’re still with her why?”

Jensen’s eyes were sad. “Because she makes me feel like I’m worth something.” He laughed humorlessly. “Imagine that. I need to have someone who doesn’t give two fucks about me to feel like I matter to the world.”

Jared was surprised by his vulnerability. “Well, I think you’re an okay guy.”

“Will you still think that when I walk by you with Chris and don’t acknowledge you? Or when Danneel purposely slams into you and I do nothing? Did you think that this morning, when I stood by my friends while they pulled a prank on you for no good reason?” Jensen’s eyes were incredibly intense. “Will you still think I’m an ‘okay guy’ when I act exactly how I have every other day of the year, except this time I’ll be going over to your house so you can help me even though you’re getting nothing out of it? Because I sure as hell wouldn’t think that, Jared. I’d think I was a terrible guy.” Jensen slammed his mouth shut at the end of his monologue and seemed shocked at the amount of information he poured out.

Jared sat on the bed next to Jensen’s calculus book. “It’s just how things have to be. I get that.”

Jensen grabbed fistfuls of his hair with his hands. “I don’t want things to be like that. It’s not fair.”

“Not fair to who?”

“I dunno, everyone. People should be who they want to be.”

Jared sighed. “It’s not that easy.”

Jensen plopped down beside Jared. “Before this turns into a bad episode of Dr. Phil, why don’t we do our homework?”

“Calc first?”

“Of course.”

 

 

Jensen jogged to the football field still fiddling with his helmet. “Ackles!” His coach thundered. “You’re late!”

“Yes, I’m sorry coach, I just got caught up with homework and I lost track of time,” Jensen stammered.

“Ackles was doing homework?” A voice, muffled by his helmet, spoke the things they were all thinking. “I thought you weren’t going to graduate!”

Jensen glowered in the general direction of the voice. “You thought wrong. I’m going to graduate, asshole. And yeah, I was doing homework. Laugh if you want, I’m gonna pass my classes.” At least, Jensen hoped he would.

Coach Kosterman just shook his head. “Get on the field, boys. We’ve got a game to win tomorrow, and a championship to win in a few weeks! Get your asses on the line, it’s time to start warm up!”

Practice was long and exhausting and by the end Jensen felt like passing out. “Christ, I never get used to Kosterman’s fitness regimen.”

Chris nodded next to him. His gear was heaving with Chris’ labored breathing. “But…just…think… how good shape… we’re all in.”

“Sound like a fucking girl, Kane,” Steve sighed. “Gonna talk us through your carb-free diet next?”

“Fuck off, I’m allowed to enjoy the fact that I have a nice body.”

“Grade A douchebag.” Steve looked at Jensen. “So, Jen, I hear the tutoring sucks.”

“It’s only been two sessions. There’s really not much to tell. Jared’s nice enough and I’m getting shit done for the first time in my life.” Jensen wiped his sweaty hair back from his head. “It’s weird to think that I might actually pass all my classes.”

“You’ve only… got… a month,” Chris panted. “Better…work…hard.”

“Are you sure you’re in shape, Kane, you’re panting like a dog?” Jensen taunted. He tried to steer the conversation away from his tutoring and his ever confusing feelings towards Padalecki by poking Chris in the side. “Lying on the ground and gasping for breath doesn’t scream ‘in-shape’.”

“Fuck you, Ackles, I’m perfectly healthy. Don’t be jealous because Danneel’s thinking of me when she’s fucking you.”

Jensen froze, but only because there was a very good chance of that being true. Danneel spoke of forever, but Jensen knew there was very detailed fine print in Danneel’s promise. She wanted a football championship and prom queen and king before Jensen was given anything remotely close to forever.

There were always things hidden in the fine print.

Jensen ran his fingers through his hair and tried to calm his breath. “Yo, Jen, you good?” Steve asked. “You know Chris, he was just fucking around. Danneel’s mad for you.”

“It’s not Danni, Steve,” Jensen said. “It’s just…”

“Nervous for the game tomorrow?” Chris offered from the ground. Jensen nodded.

“Yeah. I just want to do well, ya know?” Jensen lied. His two friends swallowed the lie easily and Steve helped Chris up off the ground.

“Well, there’s the party tomorrow after the game to wind down. Maybe that’ll help take some of the pressure off. Get a little drunk, Danni a little topless…” Chris waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Jensen forced a smile but didn’t feel a thing but pathetic regret.

Why did Jensen feel he had to lie to his best friends and pour his whole fucking soul to some geek-boy Jensen hadn’t talked to for more than two hours? 

Chapter Text

Every Friday was the same at their high school, at least in football season. The football players ran around banging on lockers and telling everyone about the game. The cheerleaders wore their skimpy uniforms and shook their pompoms. Enthusiastic students decked out in school colors. Teachers attempted to control the crazy student body during class and failed. And perhaps most disgustingly of all, when Jensen walked down the hall people looked at him like he was fucking God.

It annoyed the hell out of Jared. He never saw the appeal of sweaty men slamming into each other for an object that looked more like a giant egg than an actual ball. There were more rules than seemed necessary for a game that really only involved tackling and swearing.

But in first period, the majority of the students were wearing excessive amounts of blue and white. Scarves and sweatshirts and necklaces and a few people even had their faces painted. Jared felt out of place in his blue tee shirt, but as usual, no one paid him a passing glance.

Except for Steve.

Steve marched up to his desk and slammed his hands down on it. The teacher shot him a look but Steve ignored it. “Your tutoring is fucking with my quarterback’s head,” Steve hissed. “I’m gonna need you to knock it off.”

Steve was Chris’ clone, with all the sarcasm and wit and football obsession. They both played wide receiver and bragged about their supposed musical talent. But where Chris was loud, Steve was quiet. It shocked Jared to hear Steve talking to him. “W-what?”

“You heard me, asshole. Stop the tutoring. I need my quarterback for the championship.”

“I-I-I can’t. It’s n-not up to me. Edlund wanted this.”

Steve snorted. “Fuck Edlund. Jensen’s been tripping over his own feet since you started tutoring him, and it’s only been two days. I’ll say it again—knock off the tutoring.”

“Or what?” Jared’s voice was braver than he felt.

Steve’s lips curled into a snarl. “You don’t want to find out, Padalecki.”

Steve’s hands slid off his desk and he retreated to the back of the classroom. Jared tried to control his breathing and slumped down in his chair. School hadn’t even started and Jared could already tell the day was going to be chaotic.

 

There were some times where Jared really wished he could be wrong. Steve stared daggers at him all throughout first period and Jared stumbled over some basic questions. The cocky football player’s laughter echoed in the classroom, too loud to be real. In second period Tom Welling tripped Jared on the way into the room and a couple other football jocks discretely tossed paper at him. Their girlfriends bumped him roughly in the hall. Jared had wished for almost all of high school the “popular” people would pay attention to him, and as soon as they did Jared regretted hoping for that for so many years.

Jared should have run as soon as Edlund mentioned tutoring. How could Jared even think that this would turn out well? When Jared stumbled into third period, picking out paper from his clothing and wincing at the bruises the metal lockers gave him, he was startled to see a pair of green eyes watching him from the back. “Jensen,” Jared muttered before his brain could stop him.

Jensen either didn’t hear him or chose to ignore it. His green eyes just stared deep into Jared’s while Danneel chatted with Gen. Jared swallowed heavily and moved to sit down. His leg bumped the edge of the desk and he bit his lip with the flare of pain. Next Friday, Jared wasn’t going to school. He turned to look at Jensen once more and was shocked to see the boy mouth hi.

Jared smiled, fucking smiled, in Edlund’s class! Jared didn’t think that was even possible. But when he faced the board, which was covered in messy cursive and an outdated map, he managed to tolerate the entire lesson. Jared didn’t even come close to nodding off. Jensen’s lips forming hi was enough to keep Jared awake for the rest of his life. Jared didn’t even want to ignore the way butterflies filled his stomach. It felt nice.

“So, we can go all the way back to the years that were dated in b.c…” Edlund’s voice drifted in and out of Jared’s ears. Something about Rome? Democracy? Wait, now they were talking about China. Or was it Canada? No, definitely China. The age of Mao. Jared felt safe daydreaming during this particular topic.

Oh shit. It was Friday. Football players had double practices on game days. Jensen wouldn’t be available right after school; he’d have to go straight to the field. Many parents believed that 6+ straight hours of football was unhealthy. Jared didn’t disagree. But their record couldn’t be argued, the team was undefeated this season. Jensen would definitely get MVP.

Jensen. Jared hadn’t spoken to the guy until two days ago, but he certainly wasn’t what Jared had expected. The brief moments of vulnerability, the small acts of kindness, the tiny things that exposed Jensen—those were the things that made Jared feel like there wasn’t enough oxygen in the room when Jensen was around.

That, and his stunningly green eyes.

Jared wasn’t entirely sure what was going on in history his mind had wandered so far. Jared didn’t care. He was perfectly happy ignoring the most obnoxious teacher in school. A piece of paper hit him in the back and Jared jolted up with a start. It had landed at his feet and had Jared written in familiar messy scrawl. Jared turned to look at Jensen but his eyes were firmly locked on the board. Jared picked up the ball of notebook paper and unfolded it carefully.

Jared, can’t do tutoring today. Football. You doing anything tomorrow?

Jared’s eyes bugged out at the note. Was he doing anything on Saturday? Of course not. Jared had no social life to speak of. He scribbled a quick no on the paper and tossed it back to Jensen. When the paper came back to him, Jensen had written awesome. Here’s my number. Text me when you’re free.

Jensen had written his number below. Jensen Ackles, the boy that girls wanted to date and boys wanted to be, had given his number to Jared, the boy that had insulted him and mocked him for the majority of their time together as students. Jared swallowed heavily and folded the note neatly into his pocket.

Maybe Edlund wasn’t such a bad teacher after all.

 

******** 

Jensen wasn’t quite sure what was going through his head when he gave his number to Padalecki. He’d sort of acted on impulse. The tutoring sessions had been fun, both of them. And no matter how rude Jensen and his friends had been to Jared at school, the taller boy’s patience never seemed to run thin.

It made Jensen sick to think anyone could be cruel to someone like Jared.

Danneel had been cruel to Jared.

God, why was he with her? She was bitter and mean and didn’t really care about Jensen. Jensen rolled his eyes. Deep thoughts at lunchtime.

He put his tray down at his usual table and Chris nodded casually at him. “Hey, Jenny.”

“Hey Chris.”

“Excited for the game tonight?” Chris sounded concerned, like Jensen wasn’t going to show or something.

“Psyched.” Jensen raised an eyebrow at Chris. “You know I’m going to give 100%, right?”

“Yeah, yeah of course.” Chris’ face remained unconvinced. Jensen dropped the subject for now. It wasn’t worth arguing, especially when Jensen wasn’t even sure if he was going to give 100%.

Danneel slid in beside him. Red hair covered Jensen’s arm as she leaned across him to steal a French fry. “Hey baby,” She cooed with a mouthful of potato.

Jensen forced a smile. “Hey Danni. How was English?”
“A bore, as usual. We’re discussing Hamlet and let me tell you, Shakespeare must have had serious issues. That book? Depressing and impossible to read. Like, put it in English, am I right?”

A few people around them giggled. Jensen would have been one of them, except he’d gone over Hamlet in his mind and found that there were deeper messages than death and “to be or not to be”. Not that he would ever say that to Danni. Gen looked at him. “Jen, you’re awfully quiet.”

“Thinking about the game,” Jensen lied. “I really want to win the last few ones before the championship.”

“And you will,” Danneel crooned. “With a leader like you, the team can’t possibly fail.”

Jensen picked at his food. “That’s a lot of pressure.”

Danneel stroked his arm. “Don’t worry.  Your team could never be disappointed in you. Right, Chris?” Jensen didn’t have to look up to know she was giving Chris a death glare.

“Yeah, of course. You’re the best, Jen, the reason we even made it into the championship. Win or lose tonight—it doesn’t matter,” Chris rushed. “You’re our captain and we trust you. We’re a team.”

“A team,” Jensen murmured. “A team that’s been harassing the guy helping me pass my classes.”

Danneel looked confused, and then understanding mingled with frustration crossed her face. She covered it with a smile and said, “Jenny, he’s no one important. Replaceable. Fuck him, baby. I mean, don’t actually fuck him. Just, you know, don’t care if his stuff gets covered in purple pudding.”

Jensen bit his lip. “He’s only trying to help.”

“When do you care about that kind of shit, Jen? You’ve been the frontrunner for the pranks on those losers. And suddenly you want to defend them?”

“They have feelings, Chris.”

Chris snorted. “Play Dr. Phil another time. This is high school. There’s a certain way things work around here. We,” Chris gestured to the football team scattered around the table, “own this motherfucking school. They-,” Chris pointed to where Jared was sitting in the back, “hope to god that one day, one of us will notice them. They sit in the corner quietly. That’s the status quo. High School Musical, Jenny. Stick to it.”

Jensen exhaled loudly. “Do you ever wish things were different?”

Chris spread his arms wide. “I’m on top of the world. Why would I want to change things?”

Because you’re a giant douche, Jensen wanted to say. Instead he shrugged and nibbled on a French fry. Danneel patted his hand. “Relax, baby. We’re happy here.”

“You’re happy,” Jensen said before he could stop himself. “I’m not.”

Danneel and Chris exchanged looks. They didn’t get to press the matter further because Steve and Tom dropped down at their table with loud catcalls. “Who’s ready for the game tonight?”

“Hell yeah, mother fuckers!” Chris replied. “I can’t wait to see their faces when we dominate them. No one—and I mean no one—is gonna beat our team. Not with Jensen leading us.”

Jensen knew what Chris was doing, He was trying to distract him, shower him with flattery so Jensen would be all football and no tutoring. It wasn’t going to work. “You guys sure have a lot of faith in me.”

“You lead us to an undefeated season!” Steve exclaimed. “Why wouldn’t we have faith in you?”

Jensen smirked at his friends. “It was a team effort.” His phone buzzed telling Jensen he had a text. Jensen was grateful for the distraction. An unfamiliar number flashed on the screen. Jensen opened the message and read, Hey, Jensen, it’s Jared. I just wanted to make sure you had my number. Jensen looked over to Jared’s table. He was chewing on his lip and Jensen could only imagine the courage Jared must have had to muster to send the text. Jared constantly looked at him like he was going to mock him and gossip about the weird kid to his friends. Jensen typed a quick reply. You going to the game tonight?

Jensen watched Jared’s face. It lit up like Christmas had come early when he glanced down at his phone and Jensen felt bubbly. It was nice to know he’d made someone happy. He let himself drift out of his friends’ conversation and waited for his phone to vibrate again. Jensen pounced on it the second it did. No. I can’t.

Jensen’s eyebrows furrowed. Why not? Everyone’s going!

There was a long pause before Jared responded. When he did, Jensen’s heart just about broke. I don’t have anyone to sit with. Even across the cafeteria Jensen could see Jared’s blush.  

Then sit alone, Jensen responded. Fuck people. Go to the game for you.

Jared had resumed his activity of gnawing on his lip. Maybe, Jared shot back. It was good enough for Jensen. Once again, he was overwhelmed with the strange desire to make Jared feel comfortable in the high school, quickly followed by a wave of confusion.

Life was simpler when Jensen was an asshole. 

 ********

Jared was bouncing up and down in his seat and lunch. He kept reading Jensen’s texts over and over again. The fact that the most popular and most gorgeous guy in school had responded to a text sent by the dorkiest and least popular guy in school astounded Jared. Mike looked at him funny. “Dude, you look like you just chugged Red Bull. What’s gotten in to you?”

“Are you going to the game tonight?” Jared blurted.

Mike nodded. “Of course. I’m in the band, I have to play at halftime and shit.”

“So, will you be in the bleachers?”

“I’ll be in the band section.” Mike looked at him again. “You’re not actually considering going, are you?”

Jared shrugged. “I might.”

“You haven’t gone to a game in the four years that we’ve been here. And now, with a few weeks left in the season, you decide to start going?” Mike shook his head. “You’ve lost your mind.”

“Better late than never, right?” Jared’s eyes flicked to Jensen’s table.

Mike didn’t miss it. “Ahhhh. So this is about Ackles?”

Jared shook his head furiously. “No. Of course not. He’s an asshole, the same we’ve said all year.”

“All four years we’ve said that. But you get him alone for a little bit and what? You suddenly discover that there’s a sensitive soul underneath there? A human being? Come on, Jared, you’re kidding yourself. Jensen Ackles is as shallow as a puddle.”

Jared wanted to defend Jensen but couldn’t find the words. “He could be, you know, nice.”

Mike snorted. “He’s playing you like a chess piece if you think  he gives a damn about you. Just look at him. Chris talking to him and Danneel draped across him like a rug. He doesn’t give two fucks about people like us.”

Jared thought back to Jensen’s words yesterday, the vulnerable way he told Jared about Danneel and his friends. It hurt to think that might be a trick. “You’re right,” Jared told Mike. “You’re right. Jensen’s just a guy. All I have to do is help him study and then I’ll be rid of him.”

Mike smiled smugly. “That’s the attitude, Jay. Way to be rational.”  

It fucking hurt to be rational.

 

The day passed in a blur. There wasn’t much the teachers had to say when all the students were interested in was the football game. More than one of his teachers had given up on the students after yelling that it was just a stupid game and not even the championship, so what were the students so hyped up about? Any classes Jared had with football players or their girlfriends he received dirty looks in. Chris knocked his books off his desk more than once.

By the end of the day Jared was grateful to bolt out of the school. Everyone else was gossiping about the big game. It’s not a big game, Jared wanted to yell. It’s the same as every other stupid football game with the same stupid football players! Jared reached his truck and gratefully blocked out the noise of the spirited high school students. The normal high school students. He reached to put the key in the ignition when he saw something on his dashboard. Jared plucked the piece of paper and saw a ticket to the game with a note attached. It was hard to decipher the letters, but eventually Jared could tell the note read, in case you change your mind.

Jared tried to ignore the  way his heartbeat went a little faster as he read the note over and over again. He pocketed the ticket next to the note Jensen had tossed at him during history.

Jared drove home lost in thought. He wouldn’t have to speak to Jensen during the game, or any of his annoying friends. He could just stop by at the end to see the final score. It wouldn’t be a big deal. He hadn’t gone to a game all of high school and that was definitely abnormal. He should probably go to one, right?

The game started at 7:00. Jared sat on his bed and stared at the clock beside his bed. The red numbers blinked at him and numbers turned into hours. Before he knew it, it was 6:30. Jared jumped at a knock on his door and turned to see Megan leaning against the door. “You going to the game tonight?” She asked.

Jared felt the ticket in his pocket. “I don’t know.”

Megan sat beside him on the bed. “Well you should. Because you haven’t gone to a game in your whole high school career, which is weird, and because I saw the way  you were looking at Jensen.”

Jared blushed. Megan was the only one in his family that knew he liked boys. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes you do. He’s pretty, Jared. And he seems like a cool guy. You’ve only got a few weeks left of being a kid. Don’t you think you should take advantage of them?”

“When did you become smart?”

“When I had to start looking after your stupid ass.”

Jared smiled at his little sister.  “How do you feel about going to a football game with your big brother?”

 

Of all the things Jared imagined doing on Friday night, siting in the stands next to his baby sister didn’t make the list. The embarrassment had faded quickly as soon as Jared realized no one was looking at him. Megan had forced a white and blue plaid scarf around his neck but that was the extend of his school spirit. Jared sat in the back and hid behind some of his classmates, which was difficult since Jared was so tall. Megan stood and bounced excitedly behind him, occasionally pulling on Jared’s hair in an attempt to get him to stand up.

“Come on, Jay, at least pretend like you want to be here!” Megan whined.

Jared scanned the field in an effort to find number 5. The white number stood out against the blue jersey when Jared’s eyes found Jensen on the field. The jersey hugged his muscles and he exuded confidence. Jared couldn’t see his face but he could almost hear his voice, commanding his players and yelling encouragement. Jared tried to figure out what Megan had meant when she said she knew how Jared looked at Jensen.

The team switched to defense and Jensen jogged off the field. He slid his helmet off and ran his fingers through his messy blonde hair and Jared bit his lip. Okay, maybe he had some idea of what Megan was talking about.

But that was irrelevant, because the next thing Jensen did was wink at Danneel in her little cheer uniform, dancing on the sidelines. She blew him a kiss and turned back to the crowd, shaking her pompoms and her adorable little ass. Jared felt his blood boil and he turned away from the redhead.

“What you’re feeling,” Megan whispered, “is called jealousy.”

“No. ‘M not jealous,” Jared snapped. “I just don’t think she’s good enough for Jensen. He’s a good guy. He deserves better.”

“You’re jealous, Jared Padalecki.”

Jared turned away from his little sister. “Am not.”

“It’s okay. We all have a crush on someone eventually. If it’s Jensen Ackles for you, man, I don’t blame you, he’s hot.”

“He’s straight,” Jared replied glumly. “Even if I did have a crush on him, which I don’t, it would amount to nothing. He wouldn’t look twice at me.”

Megan ruffled his hair, which was a stretch since he was so much taller than her. “You’re fucking adorable, Jay. If anyone can turn Jensen gay, it’s my kind-hearted older brother.”

Jared sighed. “I’m not interested, Megan. He’s just some guy I’m tutoring.”

“Kay, well enjoy lying to yourself all you want. Let’s watch the game now.”

Their high school was up 24-7. The Hawks looked dejected about now, and a few players looked angry. Jared worried for the Knights’ safety. He knew that football could go downhill very quickly if the opposing team was losing. And right now, the Hawks looked close to murderous. Jared felt a flash of relief that Jensen was off the field.

As he thought that, Jensen turned up to look at the stands. The Knights fans cheered in the stands and waved their blue and white colors in the air. Jensen grinned at the support but his eyes were scanning the crowd, as if he was looking for someone. Jared couldn’t help but hope Jensen was looking for him.

 

 Shit. Jared knew he was ignoring what his sister had been saying before, but Jensen's eyes that looked so green even from the stands made Jared want to stop lying to himself.

Jared was falling in love with Jensen Ackles.

 ********

Jensen looked amongst the fans clad in blue and white for Jared. There was an entirely possible chance that the ticket Jensen had bought for Jared ended up in the trash. It was even more possible that Jared had rolled his eyes and dismissed the whole thing as a joke because really, that’s what Jensen would have done. Jared trusted Jensen about as far as he could throw him. Which, as Jensen thought about the muscles lining Jared’s arms, might actually be kinda far.

Not the point.

Was he just thinking about Jared’s arms?

Jensen shook his head and jammed his helmet back over his head. It was sweaty and heavy and a little bit suffocating. Jensen flipped the facemask up so he could see the game better. Their defense was strong. Time after time the Hawks charged at them and each time they were stopped. He spotted Tom celebrating a tackle and hoped that he wouldn’t pay for that with a broken ankle. “Humility, Tom,” Jensen muttered under his breath.

“What?” Chris asked. His best friend sat next to him and playfully knocked his mask down.

“Just hoping no one hurts Tom for bragging.”

“Tom’s a big boy,” Chris replied. “He won’t go down without a fight.”

“I just want my teammates safe.” Jensen paused. “My friends to be safe.”

“Aw, Jenny cares about us,” Chris teased. Jensen punched him in the shoulder. “Speaking of friends,” Chris continued, “is your boyfriend here tonight?”

Jensen looked at him. “Who?”

“Oh you know. Padalecki.”

Jensen snorted. “Not my boyfriend. And I don’t know. He’s not exactly the football type.”

“Yeah, I figured. Probably watching a Star Trek marathon or something.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with Star Trek,” Steve protested, sitting down on Jensen’s other side. “Spock is the bomb, dude.”

“I can’t believe we’re friends.”

“I’m still dragging you to Comic Con, Kane.”

“No way in hell.”

Jensen laughed at his friend and then looked at the field. “Shit, we’re on.”

“Man, their offense sucks,” Chris muttered.

“Or our defense just fucking kicks ass,” Jensen shot back. He grinned at Tom as he sauntered off the field. “Nice work, Welling!”

“Go kick ass, Ackles!” Tom shot back. Jensen grinned and took his place. Steve and Chris were on his left and right. They’d gone over this play a million times but holy shit their linebacker was big. Was he even a teenager? Jensen shook out his fears and took a deep breath. He could do this. He wasn’t scared of some giant ass linebacker. Jensen barely heard the shout and then suddenly the ball was in his hands. He saw Chris out wide and threw it at the exact same time the possibly-not-even-a-teenager slammed into him. Jensen went down and found he couldn’t take a breath in. Fuck, the wind’s been knocked out of me.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a yellow flag thrown and angry yells from the opposing team’s coach. Chris knelt beside him and was screaming his name. “Chris,” Jensen gasped. “Shut the fuck up.”

Chris grabbed Jensen and hugged him and Jensen winced at the pressure on his chest. Steve pushed Chris off him and said, “The wind’s been knocked out of him, asshole, give him some room.”

Jensen took several gasping breaths and then sat up. “Ow,” He got out. Chris and Steve laughed, relief flooding their faces.

“Thank god, thought you were unconscious,” Chris said. He gently punched Jensen’s shoulder. “Don’t scare me.”

“Aw, Chris cares about me,” Jensen mocked. Chris laughed and pulled Jensen to his feet. Steve waved the medical team off.

“He’s okay, he’s okay.” Steve turned to Jensen. “You are okay, right?”

Jensen nodded. “Just don’t let anyone hit me for a while, kay?”

Chris and Steve nodded adamantly. “We’ll protect you. For sure.”

Jensen grinned at his friends. “You two are such girls.”

“Says the guy that just got the wind knocked out of him,” Chris teased back. Jensen shoved his helmet back on.

“Come on. We’ve got a game to win.”   

Chapter Text

Jared drove Megan home with a smile on his face. The football game was more fun than Jared had anticipated and was grateful his little sister had persuaded him to go. Not that he would ever admit it. Nor would he admit that he chewed his lip until he was almost bleeding when Jensen was tackled, or the sigh of relief that Jared let out when they announced Jensen was okay. The Knights had won by a landslide, 45-7. Apparently getting their quarterback illegally tackled inspired enormous drive in the team.

Megan had been watching Jared more than the game. He never called his sister on it, but out of the corner of his eyes he could see Megan sneaking glances at him every time Jensen’s name was announced or Jensen Ackles made a play. So what if Jared like Jensen? Tons of people had a crush on him. It wasn’t unusual. Except he was straight. The thought went through Jared’s head over and over again.

And each time it felt like someone was punching him in the gut.

Jared forced himself to ignore it. He kept his gaze forward and stared at the road. But even the depressing thought of Jensen’s sexuality couldn’t wipe the smile of Jared’s face.

“You’re grinning like an idiot,” Megan told him. “You have been all night.”

Jared blushed. “I have not.”

“Oh, you’re right. When Jensen got hurt you looked like you were going to have a panic attack.”

“Do we have to talk about this now?”

Megan shrugged. “We’re gonna talk about it eventually, seeing as I’m the only person in the world that knows you’re gay.”

Jared exhaled loudly. “I don’t even know how you figured it out.”

“Little sister intuition. You should tell our parents. You know they’ll still love you and shit like that.”

“I’ll tell them when I’m ready, Megan,” Jared said.

“Okay.” Megan paused. “What about Jeff?”

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t ask that,” Jared replied.

“He’s our brother.”

“He left for college and hasn’t spoken to us since.”

“He’s spoken to our parents.”

Jared sighed. “Megan, when was the last time you spoke to Jeff.” Megan was silent and Jared said, “Exactly.”

Megan rested her feet on the dashboard when Jared pulled up to a red light. “Well he could help you out. Big brother wisdom and shit like that.”

“Don’t swear.”

“I’m 15, I’ll fucking swear if I want to!”

Jared rolled his eyes. His free spirited sister really would do whatever she wanted to. As long as she was safe, Jared admired her for it. He just wished he could be as independent as her. “Okay, Meg, you do whatever you want.”

“I will, thank you very much. And you need to tell someone other than your baby sister that you’re gay.”

“I didn’t tell you, either. You just figured it out.”

“And you denied it when I did figure it out.” Megan tucked her legs underneath her. “Hey, you got a text.”

Jared glanced down at his phone. The screen was lit up. “I’m not answering any texts when I’m driving my baby sister.”

“How sweet.” Megan picked up his phone. “Even if the text is from Jensen Ackles?”

Jared’s stomach lurched like he was riding a rollarcoaster. “Jensen?”
“Yes, dumbass. The object of your affection.” Megan slid open the text. “He wants to know if you’re going to the party tonight.”

“No, of course not. I wasn’t invited.”

Megan’s fingers flew across the keyboard. Jared’s phone buzzed a minute later and Megan read Jensen’s response aloud. “Everyone’s invited. It’s at Chris’ house. The giant, douchy looking one a few blocks from the high school.”

Jared ran his fingers over the steering wheel as they pulled into the driveway. He snatched his phone back and quickly responded, I’ve gotta watch my baby sister.

The phone didn’t vibrate so Jared slid out of the car with Megan. “I’m gonna go to bed,” Jared told her.

“It’s only 10:00.”

“I know, but I’m tired.”

Megan shrugged. “Whatever, Jay. Say hi to Jensen for me.”

Unlikely. Jared trudged up to his room. He threw off the scarf Megan had tied around his neck and fell onto his bed. He really was about to fall asleep when he felt his phone vibrate in his palm. Jared’s eyes shot open and he opened the text as quickly as he could.

Bummer. Text me when you can tutor me tomorrow. If that’s cool and shit.

Jared felt a grin forming on his face. Okay. Have fun tonight.

I’ll try. Bye, Jared.

Bye.

Jared turned his phone off and set it beside his bed. There was no chance in hell Jared would be able to fall asleep now, not with the way his heart was pounding like horses were stampeding through it. He shut his eyes and let his mind daydream about Jensen. Jensen in his uniform, scoring a winning touchdown and grinning at Jared, Jensen sitting by him in class and ditching Danneel, Jensen being next to Jared all the time.

It wasn’t long before Jared drifted off to sleep with those fantasies dancing in his head.

 

 

The party was pretty much what Jensen had anticipated. Someone’s older sibling had gotten booze from somewhere and the smell of pot filled the air. Chris and Steve were standing above the crowd and strumming lightly on their guitars. Jensen knew they were both incredibly musically talented and ordinarily would be up there with them. But tonight, Jensen wanted to curl up and ditch the party all together.

“Jensen!” Danneel squealed. Before he could react his arms were full of his gleeful girlfriend. “Hey baby. You were so good tonight.”

“You too, baby,” Jensen said. “Loved your routine tonight.”

“Thanks. I put it together myself,” Danni replied smugly.

“You’re so talented, Danni. I’m so lucky to have you.” Jensen bent his head and kissed his girlfriend. “So lucky.” The words sounded sour in Jensen’s mouth.

“Well, I’m lucky to be dating the star quarterback!” Danneel chirped.

“You mean Jensen’s cheating on me?” Tom threw and arm around Jensen’s shoulders. “I thought what we had was special, man!”

Jensen laughed. “She’s prettier than you, Tommy.”

“She does have an amazing ass. Hope Jensen treats you well, babygirl, because there is no shortage of guys who would gladly get with her.” Tom winked.

“If you’re hitting on my girlfriend, I’m throwing you out,” Jensen drawled.

“Not your house.”

“I’m over here enough.”

“It’s true,” Chris said into his microphone. “Also, Tom, you and Jensen talk really loud. Tone it down, we’re trying to create music. And don’t hit on your friends’ girlfriends.”

Tom and Jensen laughed. “Can I get you guys a drink?” Tom offered. Jensen shook his head. “Driving.”

Danneel linked her arm through Jensen’s. “I’ll take one, Tommy.”

“Coming right up, gorgeous.” Tom slinked away to find Danni alcohol.

“He reminds me of a fox,” Danneel commented.

Jensen eyed his friend. “Or something like that.”

Danneel grinned. “Come on. Let’s dance.” She pulled Jensen’s hand out into the group of people that were really more grinding on each other than dancing. Danneel pressed against him and her hips grinding against his ordinarily would have turned Jensen on. To Danni’s obvious displeasure, all Jensen felt at the moment was boredom. He thought about concealing the way he felt but Jensen realized it wasn’t worth the effort. Chris’s house isn’t where he wanted to be right now. He pressed himself tighter against Danni and wrapped his arms around her waist. She pressed her head into his chest. The feeling of having a warm body against him relaxed Jensen somewhat. “Jen,” Danni said. “Are you okay?”

Jensen buried his head in her soft hair. “I don’t know.”

Danneel tilted her chin up and placed a gentle kiss against Jensen’s mouth. “Want me to help you relax?”

Jensen nodded into her and she smiled. She took Jensen’s hand and led him upstairs to the many bedrooms Chris had in his house. The last of the party Jensen saw was a confused Tom with two cups in his hands.

 

On Saturday morning Jensen was greeted with a wicked hangover. He’d crashed at Chris’s house because he’d given into Tom and had more than a couple drinks, way too many to drive home. Danneel was sleeping on top of him, with her head nestled in Jensen’s shoulder. Red hair covered his bare chest and the night came back to him in flashes. Jensen was pretty sure he and Danneel had sex. Of course, that wasn’t unusual.

What was unusual was that for a split second before Jensen came, a different face flashed through his mind.

Jared’s hazel eyes were gone as quickly as they’d come and Jensen came screaming Danneel’s name. But it didn’t change the fact that for a second, Jensen had been lusting after a boy. Not just any boy, either. The boy that Jensen and his friends had made fun of for all of high school. It had been less than a second, but it was enough to send Jensen whirling into confusion.

Danneel shifted in sleep and slung an arm around Jensen’s chest. She’s your girlfriend, she’s the one you love, she’s the one that you promised forever. Jensen let the words run over and over again in his head, but the truth in them was fading fast. It’s not like he didn’t care for Danneel. He’d known her since second grade. People just sort of assumed they’d end up together. It was fate.

It was the way the status quo worked.

Jensen threw an arm over his face. His mouth tasted like ash and it felt like someone bashed his skull with a sledgehammer. Fucking alcohol. He was gonna kill Tom for persuading him into drinking. Though, he couldn’t pin all the blame on his friend. Part of Jensen just drank to wipe out the confusion that was swallowing his body. Now that he was sober it came rushing back.

Danneel yawned and her eyes blinked open. “Morning, baby.”

“Morning.” Jensen kissed Danneel. “How do you feel?”

“Like someone drilled a jackhammer into my head.” Danni rolled onto her back. “No matter how many times I get drunk, the hangover still hurts the same.”

Jensen chuckled. “I doubt I’m getting anything done today.”

“Not even tutoring?”

Jensen groaned. “Aw, fuck. I forgot about that.”

Danneel ran her fingers through Jensen’s hair. “S’okay baby. More time to lie in bed together.”

“In Chris’s house. Real romantic,” Jensen teased. She batted his arm lightly.

“You’re a pest, Jensen Ackles.”

Jensen tickled her gently. “A pest, am I?”

Danneel laughed and grabbed his hands. “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Jensen automatically replied. For a second, he almost believed it.  

 

 

Jared had picked up his phone several times to text Jensen. He’d put it down each time, never hitting send, never finding the words to invite Jensen over. From various Facebook photos and his chaotic twitter feed, Jared could tell the party had been wild. This morning there had been mostly complaints of hangovers. Jared curled up in his bed and finally sent a message to Jensen.

 

 

Jensen heard his phone buzz beside his bed. Motherfucker. Who was texting him so early in the morning? He reached and grabbed the phone off the desk and blinked at the bright light. The display screen read Jared. Jensen opened the text and read, how are you feeling?

Jensen’s head was pounding. Shitty, he texted back. I never want to move again.

Want to cancel tutoring today?

Jensen frowned. Did he? Not really. The tutoring sessions were a nice distraction from all the chaos around him. No. What time?

There was a long pause between texts. Danneel had fallen back asleep and a bit of hair fluttered around her face every time she exhaled. She truly was the most beautiful girl Jensen had ever seen in his life. His phone vibrated quietly. Jared had texted him, what about 3:00?

How’d you come up with that time?

You wanna do it some other time?

Jensen smiled to himself. I’ll see you at 3, Padalecki.

See you. Nice game last night, by the way.

Jensen’s grin took up his whole face. Jared went to the game. He shot back a quick thanks before curling up next to Danneel and falling back asleep.  

 

Jensen woke again by Chris pounding on the door and yelling, “Yo, get your ass out of my house. As much as I love having you here, my parents will be home soon. So get. Scram.”

Jensen grinned into Danneel’s hair and gently roused her. “Come on, baby, wake up. Chris is kicking us out.”

“Fuck Chris,” Danni mumbled into the pillow.

“Please don’t fuck Chris.”

Danni giggled and raised her head to look at Jensen. “Drive me home?”

“Of course, baby.” Jensen slid out of bed and groped around the room to find his clothes. “Fuck I’m exhausted.”

Danneel stretched and yawned. “I don’t think I’m ever going to drink again.”

“Never ever,” Jensen agreed. “Although I think we both know we’re going to break that pact.”

Danneel grabbed onto Jensen’s arm for support as she slid her clothes on. “We should just stop coming to parties. We’ll have date night instead.”

“What, and miss out on Tom hitting on you? I’d hate to miss these parties,” Jensen replied sarcastically.

Danni rolled her eyes. “You know I’d never leave you for Tom, right?”

Jensen nodded. “I’ve just been a little off lately.” A gross understatement in regard to how Jensen actually felt. But Danneel was not one to pour your soul out to unless you wanted the whole school to know about it come Monday.

“It’s okay, baby, no worries.” Danni ran her fingers through Jensen’s hair. “I’m here if you need to talk.”

Okay. “Let’s go. I think my legs are going to fall off unless I get home and crash.”

“Love you,” Danneel said hesitantly.

“Yeah,” Jensen replied. “Love you too.”

 

 

Jared liked texting Jensen. He liked the smiley faces Jensen would throw in and the way Jared could hear is sarcasm even through the phone. Jared liked that even though everyone else called Jensen a stuck up asshole that was only interested in himself and football, Jared knew it was a lie. He liked all these things about Jensen Ackles.

He liked that Jensen had agreed to come over even though he was tired and hungover and probably had better things to do on a Saturday.

Jared busied himself by cleaning the house. He picked up as many scrap pieces of paper as he could to recycle them and organized the others. Old food wrappers found their way into the trash. Jared didn’t even notice his mother until he’d pulled out the vacuum and she was giving him a strange look. “What?” Jared asked.

“You’re cleaning voluntarily, something I couldn’t get you to do for 18 years. What’s brought this miraculous change upon us?” Sherri replied.

“Jensen Ackles!” Megan hollered from upstairs.

“Megan!” Jared shrieked. He turned back to his mom. “I don’t know what she’s talking about.”

“Sure you don’t, Jay.” Sherri patted her son on the shoulder. “Didn’t peg you for oblivious.”

“You were wrong!” Megan called. “He’s a dumbass!”

“It’s just tutoring!” Jared snapped. Sherri’s laugh followed her into the kitchen. “Besides,” Jared added bitterly. “He has a girlfriend.” Jared was only speaking to himself, but the words still hurt enough.

Jared hadn’t used the vacuum in years and it took a couple tries to get it figured out. He bumped into furniture and missed several areas out of clumsiness but it didn’t really matter to Jared. Jensen was coming over, and Jared was going to impress him. Not like he’d tried to impress him any other day of tutoring, but every other day of tutoring the pair had been trying not to strangle each other. Jared hadn’t cared about impressing him.

He cared now. He cared so much it felt like it was filling up his entire body. When Jared was done with his attempt at cleaning he was sweaty and exhausting. “Not so easy, is it?” A voice said.

“Megan, what do you want?” Jared didn’t have the energy to snap at her.

“Just thought I should tell you it’s adorable that you’re making such an effort to woo Jensen. Gonna bake him cookies next?”

“I’m not trying to woo anyone.”

“Whatever,” Megan smirked. “Take a shower. You might as well look good, even if you supposedly aren’t trying to impress him.”

Jared glared at Megan. “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” He muttered as he stormed up the stairs. “No fucking idea.”

 

Jared sat on his bed at 2:50 and tried to calm his rapidly beating heartbeat. It’s not like he was this nervous any other time Jensen had come over. Well, the two other times Jensen had come over. But Jared supposed finally admitting to yourself that you were falling in love with a guy had the potential to make you nervous.

Or absolutely petrified.

It was times like this that Jared wished his big brother was home from college. He wished he had Jeff to tell him that whatever was going to happen it would be okay, just like he’d done when Jared was a little kid and scared of the dark. Jared fell back onto his bed and took a deep breath. Jared was 18. He could handle a little crush. Or a big crush. Whatever. He could take care of himself.

Jared heard the doorbell ring. The clock’s little red numbers told him it was 2:55. He was early. Oh god. Oh god. Jared jumped up and took the stairs slowly down to open the door.

Except his baby sister got their first. “Jensen! Hi, it’s nice to see you again,” Megan cooed.

“You too. Megan, right?”

“Yeah.” Megan’s following statement came out much less confident and Jared knew he was looking at her with his piercing green eyes. Those things could turn anyone into a stuttering, nervous wreck.

Jared jogged down the last few steps and saw Jensen leaning against the doorframe. “Hey,” Jared said breathlessly.

“Hey. I know I’m a little early, I just came from Danni’s.”

Jared nodded like it was no big deal. “So… you wanna go upstairs?”

“If you weren’t my tutor, that would sound so dirty.”

“If you weren’t immature, it wouldn’t,” Jared replied.

Jensen laughed. “Fair point. Maybe my constant innuendos are the reason for my poor grades.”

“Aw, they’re not that bad.”

“So sweet.” Jensen winked at Megan. “You’ve got a hell of a brother, Megan.”  

Jared wasn’t sure whose heartbeat was going faster, his or Megan’s. “Um… so, studying?”

Jensen nodded. “Lead the way, Padalecki.”

Megan stared at them, open mouthed, as Jared led Jensen up the stairs to his bedroom. He’d done it twice before but it never failed to astound Jared how willingly Jensen followed him. Or how casually Jensen flopped on the bed. He had a comfortable smile and Jared wasn’t entirely sure if he was sober. “Um… are you… okay?”

“You mean because I’m happy to be here, as opposed to the first day where I bitched about it endlessly?” Jensen hit the nail on the head.

Jared nodded. “I guess, yeah.”

“You guess? Speak with conviction, Padalecki.” Jensen had a smile on his face when he said it.

“Um-,” Jensen shot him a look, “I mean, yes. That’s what I was wondering.”

Jensen shrugged. “I guess I’m just happy to be somewhere where I don’t have drugs and alcohol shoved in my face. It’s not great for a football player to put that stuff in his body.” Jensen snorted. “Although it’s never stopped Chris. He’s had 3 concussions though, that could contribute to his problem. And yes, I’m sober, don’t pretend like you weren’t wondering.”

Jared tried to hide his smile by ducking his head. Jensen noticed. “Jared, it’s okay to laugh at my friends, and me. They’re idiots. You don’t have to hide, I won’t make fun of you.”

Jared looked up into Jensen’s perfect eyes and his knees went weak. He sat down at his desk before he toppled over. Jensen watched him. “You wanna start?”

Jared nodded, not trusting his voice. “I’ll get my books.”

Jensen smiled and pulled out calc homework from his backpack. “I got a lot since it’s the weekend,” Jensen said sadly. “And it’s all fucking confusing.”

“I’ll help you,” Jared replied. “Whatever you need.”

“I actually thought I was getting it for a moment,” Jensen said glumly.

“You are,” Jared insisted. “You are. We all get confused sometimes. Even me.”

Jensen looked at him with a face that said he didn’t believe Jared at all. “You get confused? I thought you were a second Einstein or something.”

“I don’t always have all the answers.” Jared flipped open his calc book. “There’s some things I don’t know anything about.”

“Like what?” Jensen prodded.

Jared wanted to change the subject as fast as possible. “We should start the calc homework.”

Jensen groaned. “Jared.”

“The sooner we start, the sooner it’ll be over with.”

“You talk about it like you’re fucking tortured to tutor me,” Jensen teased. His tone was light but Jared could hear underlying concern, like Jared might actually hate tutoring him.

“It’s absolute torture, and I hate every minute,” Jared taunted back. “Now start your calc homework.”

Jensen flipped open the book with a smile on his face. It was a small, secret smile and Jared pretended that he didn’t notice it as he started to write down math problems. He wished that everything in the world could be solved with a formula, that it could be worked out on a calculator. But for so many issues in the world it took thought and creativity and sometimes no one even knew how to solve them because you couldn’t just put numbers together and find a solution.

Jared found that his pencil had stopped moving. It felt like his brain had stopped working all together and Jared shut his eyes tightly. He heard the scratch of Jensen’s pencil on the paper and tried to find concentration of some sort.

“Alright,” Jensen finally said. “You’re acting like a fucking zombie. I’m the one that’s hungover and I’m getting work done. What’s up, Padalecki?” Jared didn’t know how to answer the question. Jared tried to ignore the concern in Jensen’s voice, but he felt a hand touch his shoulder. “Jared? Is this about the party?”

“Why would the party be a problem?” Jared asked. “Unless something happened…”

“No, it was the usual drunken idiocy.” Jensen grimaced. “And the usual regret when I woke up with a hangover.”

“What’s it feel like?”

“A hangover? Like my head is being smashed in with a hammer and someone shoved sand in my mouth. Each time I know it’s going to suck but I get totally wasted anyway, Jared,” Jensen muttered. “Each time I act like an idiot. I just wish for once I wouldn’t lose my inhibitions on the euphoria of winning a stupid football game.”

Jared forced a smile. “You were great. Really. Um, how do you feel?”

“How do I feel?” Jensen looked confused, and then realization clicked. “Oh. The dude slamming into me?”

“It looked like it hurt. A lot.”

“It did.” Jensen pulled up his shirt revealing bruises covering his well-defined and incredibly sexy abs. Jared tried to hide his blush. “But I’ve had worse. I’m gonna recover just fine. His pride is wounded, and I got a way with a few bruises.” Jensen dropped his shirt and Jared almost whined in disappointment.  “So what’s really the matter? I’m gonna keep pressing you until you fess up. I need my tutor.”

Jared almost melted under Jensen’s emerald eyes. “I don’t… I don’t know what to do,” Jared said hopelessly. “I don’t want to do it anymore.”

“The tutoring?”

“No,” Jared groaned. “The tutoring I like. The pressure, and the lack of any social life, and the way everyone looks at me like I’m a bug they want to squish, and just having to be good at everything even though people laugh at me for it—I don’t like it.”

Jensen just stared at him for a while and Jared realized who he’d told all of this to. Shit. Backtrack. Say something to make it better. Jared opened his mouth but no words came out. Instead, Jensen initiated the conversation.

“I write songs,” Jensen said. “When you knew there was something I wrote other than essays. It’s songs. I sing, and I play the guitar. I play with Steve and Chris sometimes, but mostly it’s just about football, you know?”

“High school musical,” Jared replied. Jensen grinned bitterly.

“Chris made the same reference. Unfortunately, our high school lacks the improve dance numbers and mediocre choreography.”

“Hey! That dancing’s not bad!” Jared protested.

Jensen faked a grimace. “Ugh, man, I don’t know if we can be friends if you like that movie.”

“Deep down, I’m sure you like it.”

Jensen sighed dramatically. “I can’t deny, Vanessa Hudgens is incredibly attractive. And Ryan Evans’ fashion sense? Impeccable.”

Jared giggled and Jensen’s whole face lit up with a smile. “See?” Jensen mocked. “It’s okay to laugh at my stupidity. Chris too. I’ll make sure that asshole leaves you alone.”

Jared kicked the carpeted floor. “Doesn’t change the fact that I have less of a social life than a worm.”

Jensen’s face twisted in concentration. “Okay. I meant what I said to Megan, dude. You’re a hell of a guy. And if others can’t see that, screw them.” He clapped Jared on the shoulder. “Before we break out into song, can we start our homework? I’m seriously lost on calc.”

“Sure. But only if you promise to sing on top of a table during lunch on Monday.”

Jensen laughed and the sound filled the room. “I’ll have mediocre dance movies planned.” Jared took a seat next to Jensen on the bed and explained the problems too him. Maybe not everything could be solved with an equation. But there were some things that Jared didn’t want to solve. 

Chapter Text

Jensen had decided to ignore the fact that his chest ached when Jared sat close to him to teach him about calculus. He chalked it up to bruising from the game last night and moved on. The buzzing in his ears and the pit in his stomach were all from the hangover. That’s why he couldn’t focus. That’s why Jared’s explanation went in one ear and out the other. Yeah.

Jared was looking at him. Shit, he’d asked Jensen a question. “What?” Jensen said.

“I said, are you feeling okay? You’re kinda pale.”

“Hangover,” Jensen said. There was a sudden lurch in his stomach. “Shit, I’m not feeling okay at all, actually.”

Jared put a hand on Jensen’s back. “Like, are you going to throw up?”

Jensen took a deep breath. “I think I’m-,” Jensen couldn’t get another word out before he doubled over Jared’s trashcan and dry heaved. “Yeah, maybe.”

Jared led him into the bathroom and Jensen knelt on the cool tile floor. “It’s okay, Jensen, it’s alright.”

Jensen heaved over the toilet and some mucus mingled with whatever he ate for dinner last night poured out of his mouth. Ugh. It tasted like acid. “Well, so much for tutoring,” Jensen tried to joke.

It dragged a smile out of Jared. “What would you rather be doing, this or calc homework?”

Jensen threw up again. “At this point, calc. But maybe-,” Jensen hiccupped over the toilet, “-not Edlund’s.”

“Aw, Edlund’s not that bad.” Jensen raised an eyebrow at Jared. “Okay,” Jared admitted. “He’s bad. But he could be worse. Obviously he cares, I mean he got you a tutor and stuff.”

Jensen pressed his face against the tile. “He just wants me out of his class.”

“Can’t imagine why anyone would want to be rid of you,” Jared said. Jensen’s eyes widened. There wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in his voice.

“Danneel’s going to Yale,” Jensen said suddenly. He wasn’t sure what made him say it. “She’s a lot smarter than people think the head cheerleader would be. Smarter than me.” Jensen took a deep breath and tried to calm his stomach. “Sometimes I think she would leave me because I’m not smart enough, but she never has. Never even considered it.”

“Why are you telling me this?” Jared asked. Jensen thought his voice sounded pained for a second.

“I dunno,” Jensen said honestly. “I guess I don’t like people thinking she’s an airhead or a bitch. Yeah, she can be shallow and mean but she’s good. She’s sweet and people think just because she cares about being popular she can’t be a good person.” Jensen let his words out in a rush. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I said all that.”

Jared just stared at him. “It’s okay. She’s your-your girlfriend. You should want to talk  about her like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like…” Jared paused. “Like you love her.”

Jensen felt like he was going to throw up again, and it wasn’t the hangover.  “I do love her,” Jensen croaked. I just don’t know how I love her. Oh fuck. Jensen doubled over the toilet and the emptied contents of his stomach—along with what could possibly be his kidney—with a loud retching sound. Jensen sat there for minutes while his body expelled the toxins. It could have been hours from the acidic pain in his throat and the ache thudding through his head. Jensen moaned when he was done and let his head fall back against the seat.

He was vaguely aware of someone rubbing his back and soothingly repeating, “It’s alright, it’s alright.” The voice was so kind. Jensen melted into the touch and the feverish feeling in his forehead subdued as the urge to vomit vanished. Jensen looked up and was met with concerned hazel eyes. “Are you okay?”

Jensen whimpered. “I hate hangovers.”

Jared came closer and hesitantly draped an arm around Jensen’s shoulders. Despite the fact that Jensen felt the room was about 100 degrees too warm he huddled under the arm and wrapped it around his body. It was comfort, and when Jensen was in this much pain, it didn’t really matter who it came from.

Though Jensen certainly wouldn’t complain it was coming from Jared.

 

 

Jensen was tucked under his arm. His arm was around Jensen. The guy he was steadily—okay, not so steadily—falling in love with. And Jensen had initiated it. Well, partially. It was more than any fantasy.

Sometimes reality was better than fantasies.

And just having Jensen nestled there, his breathing slowly evening out, was better than anything Jared could ever dream of in a million years. Jared tried to control his breathing.

“I’m sorry,” Jensen eventually said. “I can’t imagine you wanted to spend your Saturday on the bathroom floor, comforting someone who just puked his guts out.”

“It’s not exactly like I had anything else to do,” Jared replied. “And you’re not bad company, even if you are puking your guts out.”

“Flattered,” Jensen said. “And I’m hot even when I’m puking, don’t deny it.”

God, he so was. “Yeah, it’s a nice look on you,” Jared teased.

“Go to hell.” Jensen poked him in the side and Jared squeaked. Jensen smirked at him. “Ticklish?”

Jared blushed. “Don’t even think about it, Ackles.”

“Relax, I’m too exhausted to do anything.” Jensen gripped the toilet seat and looked like he was going to throw up again before just collapsing.

“Jensen!” Jared exclaimed. God, this guy was always getting hurt.

“I’m okay, I’m okay.” Jensen sat up. “Your concern is adorable, by the way.”

“You think I’m adorable?”

Jensen seemed momentarily startled before saying, “I think I’m adorable.”

“You’re a pain in the ass.”

“Fuck you,” Jensen replied easily. Jared jumped and Jensen chuckled, “I mean it in the good way, Jared. Remember? It’s how friends treat each other.”

“I wouldn’t know.” Oh come on. Really? That’s what you choose to say? Jared blushed and turned away from Jensen.

Jensen moved closer to Jared. “Well, you should by now, considering we’re friends.” Jensen’s tone was soft and comforting. “Do I smell like puke?” Jensen asked in a lighter tone.

Jared couldn’t help but laugh and pushed Jensen away. “Get off me, asshole.” He grinned at Jensen. “I mean it in the good way.”

Jensen laughed too and the smile on his face stretched all the way to his perfect green eyes. “Good, because I’d kick your ass if you didn’t.”

“Oh please. I think my baby sister could take you in the state you’re in.”

“I hate you. Go away.”

Jared lay on the tile floor and Jensen joined him. “Feel better?” Jared asked.

“Much.” Jensen pressed his cheeks to the cool surface. “Feels good.”

“You’re hot?”

“Damn right I am, Padalecki.” Jared rolled his eyes and Jensen chuckled. “Kidding. I’m a little warm, but better.” Jensen lay there quietly before saying, “You know, you have an annoying habit of making me laugh when I want to be in a bad mood.”

Jared smirked. “That’s a friend’s job, isn’t it? Make you smile when you don’t want to?”

Jensen smiled back. “Friends eat your food, invade your personal space, insult you, and annoy the hell out of you. But yes, Jare, their job is to make you smile. And you do a damn good job of it, too.”

“I’m just that awesome.”

“You are awesome, Jared. I wish the others could see you the way I do.”

“The way you do?”

“You know,” Jensen said. He looked suddenly shy. “Nice. Funny. Clever. They just see this big nerd, which don’t get me wrong, you totally are.” It earned a laugh and a shove from Jared. “Hey, don’t hurt the hungover guy. All I’m saying is that they don’t know that you’re more than a bookworm. I do. And I like the guy that I know.” Jensen blushed after saying so much and turned his head away from Jared.

Jared lay in shock. He was trying to process the words that had definitely come out of Jensen’s mouth, but they were so kind and honest it was hard to even breath, much less respond. “Jared,” Jensen pleaded. “Say something.”

Jared stared at the ceiling. “I wish everyone could see you the way I see you, too. Smart and kind and…” Jared didn’t know how to convey the way he felt about Jensen into words. “And I don’t like when people say you’re nothing more than a jock, especially because I know it’s not true.”

Jensen didn’t reply. He didn’t do anything except exhale slowly. “Let’s just lie here for a bit. Tutoring can wait.”

If Jared wasn’t in love before, he definitely was now.

 

They stayed on the floor until Megan banged on the door demanding they get out so she could take a shower. Jared made sure that Jensen wasn’t going to throw up any more and then helped him up, letting Jensen rinse out his mouth. “You gonna be good?” Jared asked for the hundredth time as they entered Jared’s bedroom.

“Yes, Jared, I promise I won’t throw up all over your precious textbooks.”

“Ass. Come on, we’ve wasted enough time as it is.”

“It was time well spent. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night,” Jensen said. “As you can probably imagine. Chris doesn’t shut down his parties until at least 2 am. Wanted to punch the guy.”

“You probably good get away with it. Half the people worship you like a God in this school.”

“Didn’t I tell you? I’m the son of Zeus.”

“You know who Zeus is?” Jared asked, feigning shock.

“Screw you, I watched Hercules.”

“The Disney version?”

“I’ve got a little sister, fuck off,” Jensen snapped. “Besides, you like high school musical.”

Jared flicked a piece of paper at him. “I will go to my grave defending that movie.”

“Loser,” Jensen teased. “I thought we were going to do homework, not discuss mediocre movies for preteen girls.”

“Well, the second option seems more fun,” Jared reasoned.

“Yes, but I’d like to maintain some masculinity after being slammed into the ground like a rag doll yesterday,” Jensen countered.

“You’re very masculine, Jensen. Very manly.”

“Thanks, Jay.”

The nickname rolled off Jensen’s tongue like it was no big deal. Of course Jared, being the person he was, over analyzed it and became more and more confused. Jensen gave him a skeptical look. “Jared, you’re doing that thing where you think too hard. Just relax.”

Jared onto his back and felt his history textbook dig into his back. Ow. “I can’t relax. I’ve gotta arrange for college and stuff,” Jared explained. “And now I have to do your homework as well as mine.” Jared laughed when a pillow hit him in the face. “Kidding.”

“Where you going for college?”

“Stanford,” Jared said. “Don’t know what to major in.”

“Major in art history.”

“Art history?”

“Yeah. Or philosophy. One of those majors that people say will never get you anywhere.”

“I feel like you’re trying to sabotage me, Ackles.”

Jensen grinned. “Even if I went to Harvard and majored in physics and you went to Stanford and majored in philosophy you’d become more successful than me. Just because you’re you.”

“I’m me?”

“Oh you know,” Jensen said lamely. “You have a good work ethic and you’re kind of kickass when it comes to school. I’ll probably just get drunk every day and never take advantage of the fact that I have a college education. If I even get in to college.”

“Don’t say things like that,” Jared scolded. “I’m gonna make sure it happens.”

“Your faith in me is astounding, Padalecki.” Jensen sighed and then slammed his calc book shut. “So, we’re never gonna get any work done today. You wanna go get pizza?”

“Pizza?”

“We can get ice cream if you’d rather.” Jensen tapped his chin. “Or both.”

“You don’t eat like I imagined a football player would.”

“What, did you think it was salad and protein shakes? Nah man, that’s the cheerleaders.”

Jared swallowed a laugh. “Alright. But if we go out, we have to come back and get at least one class’ worth of homework done. And not English, because you could do that in your sleep.”

Jensen tossed another pillow at him. “Screw you. I’m a dedicated student, you say it all the time.”

“I’m starting to regret it,” Jared replied, “if it makes you feel like you can blow off homework for pizza.”

“Damn, there’s no more pillows to throw at you. Can we just go, please? I promise I’ll be an amazing student with the work ethic of an ant if we go get pizza.”

“An ant?” Jared replied skeptically.

“Have you seen those fuckers? They carry things that are like, 200 times their size. Ants have amazing work ethic.”

Jared shook his head. “You better have the work ethic of an ant when we get back or you’re doing your calc homework on your own.”

“Ha! Yes! I win. No one can say no to me.”

“I’m sure your family loves you for it,” Jared teased.

Jensen’s smile dropped off his face. “Come on, I know a pizza place close to here.” He grabbed his jacket and scurried out the door. Jared heard his footsteps running down the stairs.

Jared tread carefully out into the hallway to see Megan staring at him with a raised eyebrow. “What’d you say to him?”

“What? I mean, I don’t know.”

“You have awful people skills.”

“Shut up Megan,” Jared snapped. “I just said something wrong.”

“To the guy you’re in love with,” Megan pointed out.

“Shh!” Jared hissed. “I don’t want him to hear you!”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t keep lover boy waiting any longer.”

Megan sauntered into her room while Jared hopped down the stairs sulkily. Jensen stood at the base, all signs of a bad mood gone. “What took you so long?”

“My baby sister.”

“Ah, sisters,” Jensen empathized. “I’ve got one.”

“Megan told me. Mackenzie, right?”

“Yeah, Mac’s great. When she’s not holed up in her room or glaring at anything that moves.”

Jared almost laughed but the expression on Jensen’s face was forlorn. “You said you knew a good pizza place?”

Jensen grinned. “Follow me.”

 

 

Jensen resisted grabbing Jared’s hand and pulling him out the door. It wasn’t like he was a touchy-feely person, but he usually went to the pizza parlor with Danni or Chris. Danni’s hand was always in his, and Chris never hesitated to throw his arm around Jensen. More than once they’d been mistaken for a gay couple and Chris had always responding jokingly that he’d be with someone much better looking than Jensen.

Of course, Jared was just a tutor. Not a best friend and not a girlfriend, so Jensen restrained his arms. Before they left however, Jared asked, “Do you want to bring your books or something? So if you see someone you know…”

Jared didn’t finish his sentence and Jensen saw him trying to hide a blush. Jensen knew what he meant. In case Jensen saw one of this friends that had been making fun of Jared for years, Jensen could use the books as an excuse. It was a fear that Jensen had briefly, that his friends would mock him and Jared in public. Jared’s face was full of compassion and understanding, like it wouldn’t bother him if Jensen was ashamed to be seen with him. Jensen’s heart whined in sorrow. Jared truly believed that Jensen still, even after all this time— three tutoring sessions, so maybe it wasn’t that long—would be embarrassed of Jared. “Of course not, Jared,” Jensen said. He wasn’t going to let such a kind person feel bad, especially after his friends had been such assholes all of high school. “I don’t care if the whole world sees us eating pizza. Now come on, slowpoke, let’s go before the place gets crowded.”

Jared’s answering smile was enough to melt away any fears Jensen might have had melted away. “Yeah, okay,” Jared mumbled. God, he was cute when he was shy. Shit, did Jensen just think he was cute? Overthinking. Just go get pizza.

Moving like a robot, Jensen guided Jared to the pizza place. “This place is great. It’s called Pizza Wheel—dorky, I know, but the woman who runs it is named Samantha Ferris. So, like Ferris Wheel, except with Pizza. I know, weird thought process.”

Jared smiled shyly. “No, I like it. Does she run the place herself?”

“Sort of. Her husband passed away a while back, so she runs it with her niece, Alona. She’s our age, but she goes to a private school.” Jensen smiled. “I go in there a lot, so Alona gives me free pizza sometimes. I think Samantha knows but she’s never given either of us any crap about it so we still do it.”

Jared grinned. “Do you mooch off everyone? Homework off me, pizza from Alona…”

“Shut up, Padalecki. I do not mooch homework off you. I work. Sometimes.”

“Well, you work in football. You practically carried the team to the championship,” Jared said. Jensen didn’t miss the hint of admiration in his voice.

“I didn’t,” Jensen replied modestly. “It’s a team sport. I can throw a long ways and I’m fast, but I’d be nothing without the rest of the guys.”

“They all really look up to you,” Jared said. He was biting his lip nervously. “I can see why.”

Jensen didn’t push for more information. He’d gathered that Jared was shy, especially so around Jensen. He supposed it was because Jared thought he was going to make fun of him at any given time. Jensen never wanted to pressure Jared into running off, not when Jensen was finally feeling like he was smart. And besides all the tutoring, Jensen genuinely liked Jared. Whether or not it fit in the status quo.

Alona was wiping down tables when they entered. Her long blond hair was falling down her back and a few male customers were eyeing her. Jensen was always protective of sweet Alona and more than once had punched a guy for being rude to her. “Hey, Al!” Jensen chirped.

Alona looked up and her hair swung over her shoulder. “Jen! Hey honey.” Her eyes flicked to Jared. “Where’s Danni?”

“Sleeping off a hangover. This is Jared. He’s my tutor. According to Edlund, I’m not going to graduate, so I got stuck with this guy to help me.” Jensen winked at Jared to let him know he was kidding. “I’m still a little uneasy from Chris’ party so I dragged Jared out to pizza. Don’t really want to study today.”

“Slacker.” Alona smiled radiantly at Jared. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Jared. Glad you’re actually making Jensen put effort into school. Something no one else has been able to do for years.

“Alona, you break my heart.” Jensen sighed. “Women. So cruel.”

“And Danneel?” Alona questioned.

Jensen avoided her eyes. “Let’s sit.”

Alona smiled in understanding and led them to a quiet table in the back. “Go ahead and look over the menu. I’ll be back in a few.”

Jensen stared intensely at the menu, too intensely considering he’d been here a thousand times and had the damn thing memorized. But if he looked up into Jared’s hazel eyes he was scared at what might come tumbling out of his mouth. He dared a glance up and saw Jared was staring at his menu too, with the corners of his lips quirked up like he knew what Jensen was doing. Jensen tore off a bit of his napkin and flicked it at Jared, ducking down behind his menu to hide his smile. A bit paper hit him back and Jensen looked up to see Jared whistling innocently. Jensen threw it back and full on laughed at Jared’s frustrated look.

“I hate you,” Jared said and threw his napkin at Jensen.

“I hate you, too,” Jensen replied. “Except I know you’re lying. I’m too pretty to hate.”

“And your arrogance is an appealing quality.’

Jensen grinned. “You love it.”

Jared blushed. “I tolerate it.”

“I tolerate you.”

“That’s the best comeback you could come up with?”

“Just read your damn menu.”

Jared laughed and his eyes scanned the many pizzas. “I’ve never been here before.”

“It’s awesome,” Jensen said fervently. “Especially the sausage and pepperoni.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” Jared snapped. He laughed as Jensen’s eyes widened. “Joking. Just wanted to see what you would do.”

Jensen glared at him.. “You suck.”

“You wanna share a pizza?” Jared asked. He turned red right after, like he regretting asking. Jensen immediately wanted to reassure his friend.

“Only if we get the sausage one,” Jensen said. “And we better get a large, because I could eat any other size all by myself if Samantha let me.”

“She keeps you in line?”

“As far as pizza goes. I’d weigh twice the amount I do if it weren’t for her.”  

“I find that hard to believe. You’re in great shape.” Jared blushed again. “Sorry.”

“Dunno what you’re apologizing for. I’m arrogant. I love compliments.” Jensen gave Jared his brightest smile. “Come on, Jared, there’s nothing you could say that will make me mad. I promise. So quit apologizing.”

Jared smiled shyly. “Sor—I mean, okay.”

Jensen laughed. “Good.”

Alona sashayed back to them. “You ready to order?”

“Sure thing darling. Large of the usual. And I’ll have a coke,” Jensen said.

“Uh, coke for me, too,” Jared agreed.

Alona smiled. “I love people that order quickly. Come around more, Jared. You’re good company.” She turned and walked back to the kitchen.

“That girl moves like she’s skating. So fucking graceful,” Jensen commented.

Jared nodded. “She’s pretty.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “You interested? Because she’s hard to charm, let me tell you.”

Jared shook his head. “There’s no one I’m really interested in. I focus more on school. Guess I really fit the description of loser.”

Jensen kicked up under the table. “Stop saying that. You’re not a loser. Gen’s turned down every single guy that’s ever hit on her, and I’d never classify her as a loser. Being focused on school just means you’re going places.”

Jared looked up at him through his eyelashes. Wow, he had pretty eyes. “You think?”

“Course I do. I’m not the brightest guy in the world, but I don’t lie.” Jensen lifted his head to glance at the front, admiring the sunshine through the glass door. Suddenly, Jensen’s heart dropped. “Fuck.”

 

 

Jared spun around quickly. Jensen had been annoyed with something that had come in the door. Jared realized it was Chris, Steve, and Tom, strutting in like they owned the place. “Oh,” Jared said lamely.

“It’s okay,” Jensen assured. “I promise, I won’t let them do anything to you.”

Jared felt humiliated that he had to be protected, but when Chris’ eyes lit up with the familiar glint, Jared also felt grateful. “Thanks,” he muttered to Jensen. Jensen only nodded, keeping his eyes trained on Chris.

“Jenny!” Chris called. “Hey, dude, how you doing? Coming here without me? I’m offended.”

“Though, I could be offended you came here without me, considering you never called.”

“Check your phone, dumbass,” Steve said. Jensen pulled out his phone and glanced at the screen.

“Texting is not the same as calling,” Jensen shot back.

“You’re right,” Steve said. “Because no one fucking calls anymore.”

“Except the school, telling your parents you got yet another detention,” Tom taunted. “Fucker can’t stay in line for five minutes.”

Steve waved him off. “I’m entertaining.”

“Entertainingly stupid,” Jensen retorted. Chris and Tom laughed.

“Who are you with?” Chris asked. Jared felt like ducking in hiding, but there was no way he could hide his 6’5 frame in the booth. “Oh, is that Jared? Hey, Jare. Nice to see you.” Chris’ voice was dripping with sarcasm. Jensen frowned.

“I dragged him here. It was this or calc,” Jensen explained. “So either fuck off or sit with us and shut up.”

Chris raised an eyebrow, but shoved Jensen over in the booth. “Move your ass, Ackles.”

Steve sat next to Jared with a smirk and Tom pulled a chair up at the end. “What’d you order?” Tom asked.

“Usual, of course,” Jensen said. “I had to introduce Jared to the best pizza around.”

Jared felt like his appetite had flown out the door as the three football players came in, however, and didn’t know if he’d be able to swallow a bite. Chris turned to Jared with a predatory look. “It is the best pizza. How’d Jenny convince you to come here instead of calc?”

Jared wanted to hide under the table. He managed to find his voice and say, “We’re going to do calc after.”

“Ah. So Jen didn’t get out of tutoring after all. Guess even he’s not that charming,” Tom said. Jared didn’t like the way they talked to Jensen, like they were better than him. He knew Jensen could hold his own though, and so Jared spoke as little as possible.

At least, until Chris turned his attention to him. Jared’s eyes flew to Jensen in panic and he gave Jared a reassuring smile. It eased a bit of the stress, knowing Jensen was on his side. But the smirk Chris was giving him brought it right back. “So, Jared,” Chris started. “Tell us about yourself. I’d like to know a little more about the guy that’s been spending so much time with Jensen.”

Jared didn’t know what to say. “Um, like what?”

Tom jumped in. “What college are you going to?”

“Stanford,” Jared answered automatically.

“Not Harvard?” Chris feigned shock.

“I wanted to go to California.”

Steve nodded. “Good school. What’s your major going to be?”

“I don’t know,” Jared admitted. “I want to get settled first.”

“I thought you were that guy that had it all figured out,” Tom said. “Guess I was wrong.”

Jared knew he was blushing and tears stung the back of his eyes. He wasn’t going to cry in front of them. He’d never hear the end of it, and it would be more than humiliating. Jared looked to Jensen for help. The green-eyed boy was frowning. “Chris, I don’t know if you ever apologized to Jared for covering his books with pudding,” Jensen said. His tone was cheerful but his eyes were as dark as storm clouds.

Chris stared at his friend and Jensen stared right back. Eventually Chris turned to Jared. “You’re absolutely right, Jensen,” Chris almost snarled. The smile on his face didn’t match his tone. “I’m so sorry, Jared. I hope you can forgive Steve and me.”

Jared nodded. “Of course I do,” He said quietly.

Chris smirked at Jensen. “Satisfied?”

Jensen opened his mouth to retort, but Alona placed the pizza in front of them. “Enjoy, guys!” She smiled brightly and turned away.

Chris and Tom only had eyes for the pizza after that, thankfully. Steve looked at him once last time before digging in as well. But unlike Chris, there was no sarcasm or loathing in his eyes. Just honest curiosity. Jared managed to eat a slice of pizza and even caught a smile from Jensen.

 

 

When the pizza was gone Chris threw a twenty on the table. “Let us get this one, Jensen. Enjoy the rest of your date.” The three of them exited with whispering voices and occasional sniggers. Jensen watched them go with a frown. He didn’t remember ever being this angry with his friends.

“I’m sorry,” Jared blurted. Jensen turned his attention to him.

“What did I tell you about apologizing?”

“I know, I know, but I ruined it and your friends were mean to you and-,” Jared stopped his sentence short. “I’m sorry, he whispered.” He folded his hands in his lap and looked down.

Jensen thought his anger couldn’t grow towards his friends anymore than it did, but Jared’s sad face made him go from upset to furious. “Jared, it’s not your fucking fault. It’s never, ever, going to be your fault. I like spending time with you, and I wish they’d never come. So shut up and let’s go work on calculus.”

Jensen stormed out of the restaurant much louder than he should have and Jared jogged to keep up with him. He stopped outside and ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry,” Jensen said. “I shouldn’t have snapped. They’re the assholes, not you.”

“You never have to apologize to me,” Jared murmured.

Jensen looked into his hazel eyes and couldn’t think of a damn reason why Jared shouldn’t be his friend.

Chapter Text

Jared swung the door open to his house still feeling slightly shaky. He’d never feel comfortable around Chris, even if Jensen was there with his teeth bared like an attack dog. The football players—Jensen’s friends—were unnervingly rude. Did they always talk to Jensen like that? Jared shook his head. The whole school saw Jensen as a god, but the people he called his friends treated him like he was replaceable. If only they could see the same Jensen he saw.

Jensen didn’t say much on the walk home, and even when they were safely alone in Jared’s bedroom he didn’t speak. He’d opened his mouth a few times like they were things he wanted to say but he’d snapped it shut immediately after. Jensen sat on the ground and promptly began to work on his calc homework. Jared just stood in the doorway and watched him. Eventually the deafening silence became too much and Jared cleared his throat. “Thanks,” He said. Jensen didn’t respond and he said louder, “Thank you.”

“I heard you the first time,” Jensen muttered. He didn’t look up from his homework.

“Okay then.” Jared crossed his legs on the floor beside Jensen. “Calculus?”

“Just like I promised.”

“You good?”

“You mean, am I capable of doing anything without crying to you for help? Yeah, Jared, I’m good,” Jensen replied bitterly.

Jared bit back a comment. Shouldn’t he be the angry one? After all, Jensen’s friends had harassed Jared, not Jensen. So why did Jared feel like he had to reassure Jensen? Why was Jensen sulking on the ground like a kicked puppy? Jared pulled down his own calc homework and found that all the numbers blurred into one long equation. After a while it was like the numbers turned into letters and the letters spelled out Jensen. Jared threw his pencil down in frustration and still Jensen didn’t look up. Jared said, “I’m going to get a soda. You want anything?”

Jensen’s head flicked up to Jared, his emerald eyes betraying no emotion. Jensen’s eyes were always expressive, it was one thing Jared had noticed. They varied from an open and calm grass to angry hard emerald, but they were never blank. Jensen shook his head without reply. Jared gave a curt nod in response and went downstairs. His throat was dry and it didn’t help to chug half a can of diet coke. Jared swallowed heavily and paced around the tile floor for a bit. He wondered if Jensen could hear his angry stomping from upstairs.

He wondered why he cared.

Jared drank his entire can of soda and his thirst still wasn’t quenched. He didn’t trust himself not to say something stupid in front of Jensen. Maybe if he found another coke he could drown himself. Jared glared at the vacant kitchen in front of him. It was his fucking house, Jensen Ackles shouldn’t make him scared! Jared slammed the can down on the counter and stormed up the stairs to his room. Jared flung the door open and startled green eyes jumped to his. “Jared?”

Jared didn’t know what to say. The previous walls that were up had fallen and given way to calm waves of emerald. “Jensen,” Jared gasped.

Jensen smiled. “Take a breath, okay?”

Jared nodded and felt the weak-knee-punch-in-the-gut feeling surge through him. Jared sat on the ground beside the quarterback. “You’re freaking me out,” Jared blurted. Jensen raised an eyebrow and Jared continued, “I mean, you won’t say a word to me and you act like you hate tutoring sometimes and others—others you’re talking and taking me out for pizza and smiling and it’s fucking confusing!”

Jensen didn’t look angry. If anything, the bastard looked amused. Amused. “Okay, so I’m not the most straightforward guy in the world.”

“That’s an understatement.”

“Alright,” Jensen held his hands up in surrender. “Alright. I get confused, I screw around. It’s how I deal with shit. Sometimes I close off, sometimes I let people in. Don’t expect me to walk in and reenact Dr. Phil just because we’re becoming friends.”

“So, you’re going to close yourself off to the world except when you feel like making some dumbass sarcastic remark?” Jared said. He didn’t care about the harshness of it.

Jensen glared up at him. “If you have a problem with my coping strategy, I’ll leave.”

“Coping with what?” Jared cried exasperatedly. “You have an ideal life!”

Jensen slammed his textbook shut. “Is that what you think? That because I’m the quarterback and dating the head cheerleader that my life is fucking perfect?”

“Yes!”

Jared glared at him and Jensen glared right back. “Because just this morning,” Jensen said, “you were talking about how I was more than a jock. And now you’re spitting the same crap in my face you’ve been saying behind my back for all of high school.”

Jensen had a point. Jared wouldn’t ever admit it. “You should leave,” Jared finally said.

Jensen’s eyes flashed heartbreak before he stood up. “I’ll see you later. And fuck you very much.” Before he stormed out the door he glanced back at Jared. “Not in the good way.”

 *******

Jared lay on his bed for the rest of Saturday, ignoring his mother and his sister knocking on the door. His heart ached for Jensen. He wanted to call him and tell him he was sorry. He wanted to tell him that he didn’t fucking care if Jensen told him everything or nothing. He just wanted to sit with him and talk about whatever. Jared stared at the ceiling and remembered when Jensen was sitting on the bed next to him, complaining about Edlund and whining that he couldn’t figure out calc.

God, this feeling sucked. Having someone you care about hate you just because you said the absolute wrong thing. Okay, so it was entirely Jared’s fault. But Jensen could be less sensitive or something. He was worshiped and dating a beautiful girl. He had friends. Had a mansion and a pretty car. What the hell could possibly be wrong in his life? Jared closed his eyes. Maybe if Jared shut up long enough to listen to someone else, he might not be sitting alone right now and pining for someone that was really never his in the first place. But how much more damage could really be done at this point?

So Jared picked up his phone and took a chance.

 

 ******** 

Jensen was staring at his history homework without really seeing it. It was almost like he could hear Jared’s voice talking to him, telling him to try it, to think about it. But Jensen couldn’t even do his English homework without seeing Jared’s smile or him ducking his head shyly.

Beside his bed his phone buzzed. Jensen ignored it. But it vibrated again and again and wouldn’t fucking shut up. Eventually Jensen grabbed it with the intention of chucking it across the room. He could just buy another fucking phone.

But Jared’s name blinked at him on the screen and without thinking Jensen opened the messages.

Jensen, I’m sorry

Text me back, please

If you’re mad, I get that, but I mean, at least let me apologize.

I shouldn’t have said what I did, you’re right. You’re not just a jock.

Please text me back, Jensen.

At least text me to tell you want me to stop texting you.

Please.

It was message after message from Jared. Jensen read them over and over again. He wasn’t mad at Jared. It wasn’t Jared’s fault. Jensen shouldn’t have been so sensitive, all Jared said was the truth. Well, a big majority of the truth. There were some aspects that Jared had glossed over. He wouldn’t get it.

I’m not mad, Jensen typed. I just need to think.

Can I think with you? Jared responded immediately.

Yes. No. Please. Jensen sighed. Not today.

Okay. Jensen could almost hear the sadness in Jared’s voice.

Tomorrow, Jensen promised. I still need help on my calc homework. Besides, I promised I’d do it after we got pizza, didn’t I?

Yeah, and there’s no way I’m letting you wiggle out of that one.

This time Jensen heard his smile.

 

Around 9:00 Jensen got too hungry to sit and mope anymore, so he found his way to the kitchen to make a sandwich. His mother was sitting at the table and thumbing through a magazine. She didn’t throw him a glance, and Jensen didn’t try to interact with her. He made the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in peace, smearing more peanut butter than jelly on the bread because the peanut butter was the best part.

A few cookbooks were lined up on the counter. Jensen knew they were just for show. The last time anyone had cooked a proper meal in the house Jensen was about seven. After that either Josh fixed him a sandwich half-heartedly or Jensen dug around in the fridge until he found something he could eat without preparing it. When Jensen was 10 and could make his own dinner, Josh went back to ignoring him. And Jensen started making dinner for sweet little Mack. Soon she became old enough to make her own dinner and ignored the family completely. Once his little sister became independent they were less like a family and more like a group of people that shared the last name and lived together.

Then Josh left. He went to college as far away as he could and Jensen hadn’t seen him since. The phone calls on his birthday came for a few years but then they dwindled until they stopped completely. Jensen snorted to himself. Here he was, making a sandwich in self-pity all because of a few cookbooks.

Jensen took the sandwich up to his room and picked up his phone again. What’re you doing tonight?

His phone dinged a few seconds later. Watching a movie, maybe going out. What’s up?

Can I come over?

Of course, Jen

Thanks.

Jensen jogged down the stairs and thought about telling his mom he was going out. Jensen decided against it. She wouldn’t care anyways. He snagged his keys off the rack in the garage and hopped into the BWM. “Hey, sweetheart,” Jensen said. She purred underneath him. “I know, I haven’t driven you in a few days. But we’re going out tonight.”

Jensen arrived at the soft green house in record time, pushing the speed limit. When he rang the doorbell, kind brown eyes greeted him. “Hey, Jen.”

Jensen wrapped his arms around his girlfriend’s neck and buried his head in soft red hair. “Danni.”

Danneel’s arms went around him immediately. “I called Gen for backup. You sounded like you needed a little bit of comfort.”

Jensen laughed into her shoulder. “Did I tell you I love you?”

“I love you too, Jen. Now come on, baby, we’ve got a night of ice cream and movies ahead of us.”

Genevieve was lying across the couch and curled up inside a blanket, eating Ben and Jerry’s out of the carton. “Hey, Jenny,” Gen greeted.

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” Jensen told her. She smiled with teeth full of chocolate and Jensen laughed.

Gen straightened up and moved over on the couch. Jensen sat in the middle with Danneel on the other side of him with her head in his lap. It was his typical moping position. Gen rested her head on his shoulder and said, “You wanna tell us what’s wrong before we start the movie?”

Jensen shook his head and ran his fingers through Danni’s hair. “Just want to be distracted.” He took the carton of ice cream out of Gen’s hands and she picked up the popcorn. “Pig,” He teased. She tossed a couple kernels at him and Danneel made an indignant noise.

“You’ll get it my hair,” Danneel said. “Throw it at Jensen.”

Jensen tugged lightly on her hair. “Some girlfriend.”

Danneel laughed and snuggled tighter into him. “You love us.”

Jensen wrapped his arms around both girls. “You have no idea.”  

Around midnight Jensen looked around and noticed both girls had fallen asleep. He contemplated waking them up, but the desire to fall asleep with their soft hair comforting them and the blanket wrapped around them was too strong. Jensen snuggled into the couch and let his head droop into sleep.

 

 ********

Sunlight filtered into Jared’s room around 10:00. He usually liked the natural alarm clock the sun provided him with but it had yanked him out of a dream with Jensen. It was a nice dream, too. No fighting, no anger, no desperate text messages. Jensen said they would hang out—or tutor—later today. Hopefully there wouldn’t be tension and Jared would be able to control his tongue. Just breathe, think before you speak, remember that Jensen is a human, not some pretty boy quarterback.

Green eyes and a witty smile kept flitting behind his eyelids and Jared couldn’t focus. It was downright impossible. It seemed like he’d been lying there for hours imagining Jensen’s perfect features in front of him but a glance at the clock told him it’d only been 10 minutes. 10 minutes not spent with Jensen. Which was cool. Because they were just tutoring partners.

It was pathetic how much Jared denied his love.

Jared stretched and tried to work out the kinks in his back. “Fucking exhausted,” He said to himself. He let his gawky legs guide him out of bed and down the stairs to where hopefully someone had made breakfast. His nose rewarded him with the scent of waffles.

“Mom, have I ever told you how much I love you?” Jared sighed. He grabbed a waffle and took a bite out of it.

“Have I ever told you that you eat like a heathen? Get a plate and silverware like a regular human being.”

Jared laughed and grabbed a plate and snatched a fork from his little sister. “Thanks, Meg.”

“Fuck off.”

“Language, Meg,” Sherri scolded half-heartedly. Megan glared at Jared and settled for sticking her tongue out at him.

Jared broke off pieces of his waffle and cut them so tiny a mouse could eat them. “Alright,” His mom finally said. “What’s up?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Jared mumbled.

“Well, you drowned your waffles in syrup and now they’re cut up so miniscule you’ll need a microscope to find them.”

“It’s Jensen Ackles,” Megan piped up. Jared blushed.

“Shut up, Megan!”

“Whatever,” Megan muttered. “It’s true.” She hopped off the stool haughtily and sauntered up the stairs.

Jared stuffed a forkful of waffle into his mouth and ignored his mother’s gaze. Sherri continued to stare at him until he forced himself to meet her eyes. “Wha?” He said with a mouthful of waffle.

Sherri hit him on the head with her spatula. “Learn some manners. Now. What about this boy has you so nervous?”

Well, I’m in love with him. “It’s not him, it’s college and graduation and all that. Jensen’s just sort of a figure in my life.”

“A pretty significant figure.”

“Megan doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Jared said hastily.

“Well, you’re as red as a tomato. So, you must really like this boy.”

Jared’s head shot up. “What?” A bit of waffle fell onto his chin.

Sherri rolled her eyes. “Please, you really didn’t think your father and I noticed you liked boys? We’ve known you your whole life.”

“Well you could have told me you knew!” Jared exclaimed. “I spent all this time worrying that you would freak out or something when it was all just—Ugh! I can’t believe this.” Jared’s head fell with a thunk onto the table.

Sherri patted his back. “It’s okay, love. We’re clearly okay with it. So no more panicking, okay?”

“Does Jeff know?” Jared asked.

Sherri shook her head. “I thought it would be best if you told him.”

Jared snorted. “He lost interest in me about the time I learned to walk.”

His mother frowned. “He’s your brother and he loves you. Now, if it were me, I’d admit to myself that I was in love with a boy before admitting it to my brother I haven’t spoken to in years. But. That’s only my opinion.” Sherri turned away to cook more waffles.

Jared glared at her back. “I’m not in love with him.”

“Denial. Such a teenager,” Sherri sighed. “Now go wash your hands. They’re covered in syrup.”

 

 ******

Jensen woke up alone on the couch. Empty ice cream containers and scatter popcorn kernels indicated that the night hadn’t actually been a figment of his imagination. Which meant the fight and the dejected text message was also a reality. “Danni!” Jensen groaned. “Baby?”

Danneel’s bubbly laughter greeted him from the kitchen. “Morning, sweetheart.”

Gen’s voice filtered into the room as well. “Finally decide to drag your lazy ass up?”

“My ass is comfortable on the couch.” Jensen smelled Danneel’s chocolate chip pancakes. “Though I might be able to get up.”

Danneel giggled. “Knew the pancakes would have you up in no time.”

Jensen entered the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Danneel’s waist. “You know me too well.”

Gen turned away in mock disgust. “Ew, PDA!”

Danni laughed and turned to press a kiss to Jensen’s lips. “Morning, baby.”

“Morning,” Jensen hummed. He went to grab a pancake but Genevieve slapped his hand.

“No pancakes until you tell us why you were so mopey last night,” Gen teased.

Jensen turned his pleading eyes to his girlfriend. “Danni…”

Danneel kissed his cheek. “Sorry, baby, but I’m curious.”

“Fucking coercion,” Jensen muttered. He plopped into a barstool beside Gen and glared at her. She smiled smugly at him and Jensen let out a resigned sigh. “Do I have to?”

“Sweetie, we just care about you,” Danneel cooed. “And I’m serious. If there’s something—anything—we can do, we will.” Her brown eyes were big and comforting.

Jensen wanted to pour his entire soul out to them. How confused he was about Jared, how he didn’t want to be popular and it feels like it was thrust upon him and all he wanted to do was give it up, the horrible feeling of being stupid and not good enough—Jensen wanted to tell them all of it. He bit his lip and looked helplessly at the two girls. “I don’t know what to say,” Jensen mumbled. “I don’t know how to say it.”

Gen put a comforting hand on Jensen’s shoulder. “It’s okay, hon. You don’t have to know. Just give us an idea.”

Jensen played with a fork on the counter. “I don’t want… I mean, I can’t…” He took a deep breath. “Do you ever wish you could just say ‘fuck it’ and do whatever you wanted? Without worrying about gossip and what people would say about you?”

Danneel and Gen exchanged looks. “Baby,” Danni finally said. “We’re girls. It’s all we think about.”

Jensen looked between them. “So why aren’t you all mopey and sad all the time like me?”

“You’re not mopey and sad all the time, Jen,” Danni said. “You laugh and smile.”

“Don’t feel like laughing and smiling now,” Jensen replied glumly. “I feel like hurling something through a wall.”

Gen looked sympathetically at him. “If you want to know how we deal… I mean, it’s sort of that we don’t deal.” Jensen looked confused and Genevieve continued. “Look. We’re popular. It sounds cocky and pretentious, but let’s not kid ourselves. Cheerleaders and quarterback? Come on. So as sucky as it sounds, we sort of alter our choices to what is socially acceptable.”

Jensen groaned. “I was hoping that you would say something like ‘it gets better’.”

Danneel handed him a pancake. “It does, baby. After a while, it’s sort of just like going through the motions.”

And as much as Jensen loved Danneel’s pancakes, they tasted like ash.

 

Jensen lay in the grass with Danneel and Gen for a few hours later. Eventually Danneel broke the comfortable silence by asking, “Does this sudden new attitude have to do with that tutor of yours?”

“Jared,” Jensen corrected. “His name’s Jared.”

“You’re avoiding my question.”

Jensen plucked a blade of grass. “I just don’t see why I have to dislike the guy because he’s not on the fucking football team.”

Gen rolled over to face him. “No one said you had to dislike him.”

“Chris is an ass to him. Every time. I want to punch him, which is weird, because Chris is my friend. I just feel really defensive of Jared.”

Danni found Jensen’s hand and squeezed it. “It makes sense, you know. He’s helping you graduate. You don’t want that kind of help to run off just because you friends are dicks, right?”

It’s more that that. “Yeah, you’re totally right.” Jensen felt disappointed in himself for even spitting out the lie. “I mean, it’s the first time I’ve felt like graduation was possible.” At least one part wasn’t a lie.

Danneel beamed at him. “Good boy.” The phone rang from inside and Danni rolled her eyes. “Probably my parents. Be right back, guys.”

Jensen’s hand felt empty without hers in it. He rotated his head to look at Gen and was met with disappointment and skepticism. “What?”

“Don’t ‘what’ me, Jensen Ackles. Lying to Danni is one thing. Lying to yourself? That’s a whole other level of shit.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow like he had no idea what she was talking about. “Gen, I think you’re on a sugar crash,” He tried to joke. Even he heard how pathetic it was.

Gen glared at him. “You fucking care about Jared because he’s your friend, and you’re too much of a coward to tell people. Man up, Ackles.”

Jensen wanted to glare at her but it was hard to be angry with someone who was absolutely right. “Fucking… I don’t know.”

“No, asshole, you do know. It’s about the fucking ‘status quo’ or whatever and you’re scared of breaking it and your so-called friends laugh at you. Well guess what? This isn’t high school musical. There are no dance numbers. There are jerks and people that will think you’re an idiot for wanting to be friends with Jared. But there’s only a few weeks left in high school and if you think that caring what others thing is more important than being happy, then I wish you good luck in the rest of your life. Because you’re going to be fucking miserable.”

With her last words Gen got up to join Danni in the kitchen. Jensen didn’t know if he’d ever really heard the sweet girl snap before, certainly not at him. And dammit, she was so right. So right that it shook Jensen to the core and bite his lip so hard he could taste blood.

Fucking miserable.

 

 ********

Jared stared at his phone waiting for it to buzz. Jensen promised they would hang out today. Okay, maybe promised is an exaggeration. Jensen had said in a hungover state after Jared had yelled at him that they could hang out. So it was conceivable that they actually wouldn’t hang out—or tutor—because it made perfect sense that it wasn’t going to happen.

And oh how that made Jared’s heart ache.

Jared heard his dogs barking downstairs and the door swing open. Megan greeted someone with enthusiasm. Not another one of her friends. They played music too loud and gossiped about the lame boys in their grade and movie stars and makeup. Girls were confusing. Thank god he was gay. It made things easier since he could vaguely understand guys.

Jared heard Megan calling his name. He was not going to run downstairs to be harassed by Megan’s friends and hear them telling him how they’d love to braid his hair or put kohl or something on his eyes. Jared may be gay, but he was not a girl.

Eventually Megan came up and started banging on the door. “Open up, jackass!” She said.

“No,” Jared yelled back. “I’m moping. Leave me alone!”

“Open this door, or I’m gonna fucking knock it down!”

“Like you have the strength,” Jared muttered, but he rolled off the bed and yanked his door open anyway. “What’s so important tha—Jensen?”

Jensen stood beside Megan and rubbed his neck nervously. “Um, sorry I didn’t text. I sort of came here on an impulse decision, and you’re not supposed to text while driving so…” Jensen cleared his throat and glanced around Jared’s room like there would be something to distract him.

“Oh, no, that’s okay. Didn’t have anything else to do on Sunday,” Jared said. Wow he sounded flustered. “Megan, go away,” Jared ordered. Megan stuck her tongue out at him but strutted away.

Jensen watched her go with an amused smile. “You’ve got a pistol for a sister, Jay.”

“What? Oh, yeah. She’s a pain in the ass most of the time. But my family’s pretty close so we get on each other’s nerves as much as we love each other.”

Jared could have sworn he saw Jensen’s green eyes flash, but it was gone just as quickly. “Yeah. That’s cool though.” For the first time, Jensen seemed uncomfortable in Jared’s room. Jensen seemed uncomfortable in his own skin, which was ridiculous considering how gorgeous he was. Then Jared remembered his promise to be more considerate of Jensen’s feelings.

“So, you can come in,” Jared mumbled when he realized Jensen was still standing in the doorway. Jensen nodded and entered Jared’s bedroom, gently shutting the door.

“You, uh, wanna work on calc?”

Jensen nodded. “I started it with Danni this morning, but that girl blows right by me.” He smiled fondly. “I swear, she could take on the whole football team and knock us all flat.”

“She sounds awesome,” Jared said flatly.

Jensen’s eyes jumped to his. “Oh, shit. I forgot—um, well, I know you don’t get along with her. I promise, she’ll be better about that. They all will.”

“Thanks,” Jared said. “I know she’s your girlfriend, I should be better about what I say.”

Jensen ran his fingers through his perfect hair. “This is the first time things have felt awkward between us. Not sure I like it.”

Jared sat on the bed. “Well, we could start working on our homework. Maybe it’ll ease the tension.”

Jensen nodded and pulled out history. “So, thought I’d change it up a bit. Start with history.”

Jared smiled. “You lead an exciting life if your idea of change is history homework first rather than calc.”

Jensen threw his pencil at him. “Breaking a routine is very exciting, Padalecki.”

Jared laughed and felt the last of stress dissolve from the room. It was almost like things were normal again, but Jensen’s smile still seemed strained. Jared decided not to mention it.

Jared had learned patience was the key to get Jensen to open up. So as sucky as it was, Jared was going to be patient. He was going to wait it out, even if it took the rest of the school year. How he hoped it didn’t take the rest of the school year. Jared thumbed through his history book and glanced up to see Jensen watching him. “What?”

“What?” Jensen replied.

“You’re watching me.”

“You watch me sometimes,” Jensen countered.

“You’re too pretty not to watch,” Jared replied. It took a second to process what he said, but as soon as it clicked Jared turned bright red and buried himself in his history book. Shit.

Jensen only laughed. “Well you’re not so bad looking yourself. Maybe that’s why I like looking at you.”

And if Jared thought he couldn’t blush anymore, he was clearly wrong. “Thanks,” He mumbled.

“What?”

“Thanks,” Jared said louder.

“Speak like that all the time,” Jensen said. Jared realized Jensen could hear him the first time and was just mocking him. “Speak with conviction, like you’re fucking amazing and the whole world knows it,” Jensen continued. “And spend less time looking at the ground. You have such pretty eyes; the world deserves to see them. You’ll have girls tripping over themselves to get to you.”

“I’m gay,” Jared blurted. Just when he thought he couldn’t humiliate himself any more than he already had.

Jensen didn’t miss a beat. “Boys then. Boys will trip over themselves to be with you.” Jared didn’t meet his eyes. “Hey,” Jensen said in a kind voice. “I don’t care if you’re gay. Really, I don’t. You’re you, and whether you like boys or girls won’t get in the way of our friendship.”

“Promise?” Jared asked shyly.

“Promise,” Jensen said firmly. “And speak with conviction, Jay. You own the world.”

You own my heart. “I’ll try.”

Jensen gave him a smug smile. “Good. Now, let’s work on history, okay?”

Jared thought that this might be the one time Jensen accomplished more than he did.  

Chapter Text

Jensen couldn’t explain the way his hand shook as he wrote out the answers to the redundant and stupid history questions, or the way his heart sped up when Jared looked at him with trusting eyes. He couldn’t figure out why Gen’s words kept flitting through his head, or the reason that Danneel’s kisses seemed more like an obligation than a pleasure.

Jensen sat on the floor rather than Jared’s comfortable bed, another thing Jensen couldn’t explain because it was not pleasant. But Jared was sitting on the bed and unlike every other time Jensen had sat beside the taller boy with no complaints, Jensen stuck to his uncomfortable position on the floor because something told him being uncomfortable would be easier than being stuck in an awkward situation.

Before they’d started the homework they’d joked around and messed with each other and smiled like everything was okay. Jensen knew things weren’t okay. He knew things were different between them and it kind of sucked.

Jensen finished history without much trouble, and science even though he took shitty notes. It was fucking calc that he could never, ever figure out unless Jared helped him. “Jared,” Jensen mumbled.

“Calc?” Jared replied. Fucker knew everything.

“It’s hard.” Jensen turned to Jared and could have sworn he saw amusement in his eyes. Asshole.

“Alright. Come here,” Jared said. “We’ll look at it together.”

“Um, can’t you come down here?” Jensen suggested. He wasn’t sure why being on a bed with Jared made him nervous, and besides, wasn’t Jared the nervous one?

Jared rolled his eyes. “Anything for you, princess.”

Jensen ignored in the jab in favor of scooting over so Jared could sit across from him. “Alright. Which ones are you doing?”

Jensen pointed out the problems. “It’s got more Greek symbols than numbers, man! That’s not right.”

The corners of Jared’s mouth turned up. “It’s calculus. It’s not supposed to be easy.”

“Yeah, but I at least hoped there would be numbers in it. You know, like math should have?”

Jared took Jensen’s pencil and began to sketch out some formulas on the paper, explaining the process and making it sound so easy as usual. But for some reason, all Jensen could think about were the muscles in Jared’s arm that flexed when he changed the angle of the pencil.

Jensen almost choked on his own saliva. What the hell was he doing? He was straight. Sure, Jared wasn’t bad looking, but that didn’t mean he was going to go lusting after him. And he had a girlfriend! Oh god, what would Danni say? What would Gen say? What would Chris say? So fucked. So fucked.

“Jensen?” Jared said.

“Huh?” Jensen replied. “What?”

“I said, are you listening?”

Jensen shook his head, then nodded. “I mean, I was. But I got distracted. Sorry.”

“Am I not being clear enough? I can go through it again.”

“No!” Jensen exclaimed. “No, I mean, you’re being really clear. My mind just isn’t right today.”

“Maybe we should take a break,” Jared offered. “So you can clear your head.”

Jensen nodded. “I’m… I’m gonna go outside for a second.”

Jared flashed him a smile and Jensen noticed he had dimples. Big, adorable, dimples. Oh shit, he was doing it again. Jensen tripped over his own feet in desperation to get out of the room and tumbled down the stairs. When he reached the bottom and jumped out the front door he sat on the porch steps. “I’m so fucked.”

Jensen tried to calm his breathing. Okay. He was relatively smart, he could think through this. He opened the photos on his phone and found the ones of him and Danneel together. She was beautiful, no doubting, but his heart didn’t race and the fond smile that usually spread on his face when he saw pictures of her were absent. Jensen knew he would regret it later, but he called Gen. She always knew what to say.

It only rang once before Gen answered. “Genevieve Cortese, emergency hotline for Jensen Ackles.”

“Haha. Listen, I’m in desperate need of advice.”

“Well, honey, that’s what I’m here for.”

Yeah, Jensen was definitely regretting this. “I don’t know what to say now.”

“Well, it’s a good thing I’m smart enough for the both of us or who knows where you’d be,” Gen teased. 

“Gen, this is serious.”

“Okay, handsome, I’ll be serious.” Gen’s tone evened out. “So, you’re at Jared’s house and you’re panicking.”

“How’d you know I was at—okay, not the important part. Yeah, I’m panicking. I literally spent minutes staring at his arms. And then I thought his dimples were adorable. And now I’m freaking the fuck out, because I’m both straight and have a girlfriend.”

Gen tsked. “Attraction isn’t always based on their sex, Jenny. Sometimes we meet a pretty person who’s nice to us and who actually cares about us, and we care about them too. Sometimes, believe or not, there’s more to a person than just what’s between their legs.”

“This is the last time I’m calling you for help.”

Jensen practically heard Gen rolling her eyes. “Fine, hot stuff, but when you get back in there and start drooling over Jared, at least you’ll know why. And besides. You could do worse. I mean, it could have been Chris.”

“Ah, fuck, I’m hanging up now.”

“Bye Jen!”

“Bye, Gen.”

Jensen hung up the phone and tucked it back into his pocket. He wasn’t feeling any more confident If anything he felt more anxious. Maybe they should just call it a day and Jensen could copy Danneel’s calc on Monday. It’d be a hundred times easier than going back into Jared’s room and dealing with possibly lusting after another guy. And Jared Padalecki, no less, who Jensen had laughed at for pretty much all of high school right alongside Chris and Steve. But he was not going to chicken out. He was the fucking quarterback, the playmaker, and he was not going to be intimidated.

So he opened the door and saw Megan leaning against the counter with a knowing expression on her face. God, what was it with girls and there ability to figure everything out?

“Hi, Jensen,” Megan cooed.

Please let her be flirting with me, please let her be flirting with me. If Megan could see through him, it was all going to hell. “Hi, Megan,” Jensen replied. “Um, I’ve gotta go study. Calc is a bitch and your brother’s being cool and helping me and shit.”

“Yeah, my brother’s cool like that. I mean, he’s a complete geek other than that, but he’ll always help out people.” Megan smirked at Jensen. “It’s a nice quality, wouldn’t you agree?”

“Well I spend half my time around douchebags so yeah, I guess it’s a nice change.”

Megan shrugged. “Great. Well, enjoy tutoring. See you round.” With her last confusing comment, Megan turned and left the room.

Little sisters. Jensen would never be able to figure them out. His head wasn’t any clearer but he reentered Jared’s room and picked up his pencil again. Jared was on the bed and looking at him concernedly. “Better?”

Not at all. “Much. Just needed some air.”

Jared smiled but looked like he didn’t really believe Jensen. “So, you wanna work  on math?”

“More like fucking Greek symbols they’re trying to pass off as math, but whatever.”

“Haha, Ackles.”

“I’ll be here all week, Padalecki.”

Jared shook his head like he was disappointed and looked down at his homework, but Jensen didn’t miss the smile on his face.

Jensen managed to struggle through the calc homework on his own, using the formulas and Jared’s example on the top of his paper—so maybe it wasn’t completely alone—and made a victorious noise when he was done. Jared didn’t look up from his book and Jensen realized he’d been done with his homework for a while. “You’ve been done all this time, haven’t you?”

Jared glanced up at him like a child that’d be caught stealing cookies. “Not all this time. Just a great majority of it.”

Jensen felt ashamed. “Thought I was doing really well, and it turns out I’m moving at a snail’s pace compared to you.”

“If it makes you feel better, everyone moves at a snail’s pace compared to me.”

“Surprisingly,” Jensen retorted, “it doesn’t. It means I’ve been sitting on your floor bugging you while you attempt to read. I’ve been wasting your time.” Jensen tossed his papers into his bag. “I’ll go.”

“Only if you’re done,” Jared said turning back to his book. “Edlund’s orders.”

“Man, I wish I had wish I had Ms. Gamble for history. She’s supposed to be super chill.”

“No you don’t,” Jared replied. “Ms. Gamble never would have forced you into tutoring, and then you’d be stuck where you were a week ago—never doing homework and possibly not graduating. So even if you hate the guy, you should be grateful for Edlund.”

Jensen snorted. “The guy’s a prick.”

Jared finally looked up from his book. “Well, I thought the same thing about you a few days ago. And now I don’t think that, because I gave you a chance to prove me wrong. And you did.” 

Jensen wasn’t sure to be offended or not. He wanted to come up with something witty but instead he said, “You thought I was a prick?”

Jared blushed. “All I knew was the guy that laughed when his friends tripped me in the hallway. I didn’t know you.”

It was shocking how bad Jared could make him feel simply by telling the truth. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Jared said calmly. “Your friends are themselves, and you are yourself. Different people, different personalities, and I feel differently about you guys.” Jared ducked his head. “Now sit down and finish your homework.”

“Bossy,” Jensen teased. But he resumed his seat on Jared’s floor. “You really don’t mind having me here?”
“Nah,” Jared said. “It’s nice not being alone.”

 

*******

 

 Jared’s emotions were competing for attention when Jensen finally left. Confusion was the front-runner, followed by happiness and a little bit of humiliation. He’d basically told Jensen he was an outcast outright, admitting that most of the time he was alone and had nothing better to do than study and feel sorry for himself. And he’d come dangerously close to admitting that he was madly in love with Jensen, which would have broke off the dangerously thin line of trust they’d managed to form.

Jared stood in the doorway long after Jensen’s car had left his driveway. “Close the door,” His little sister said behind him. “You’ll let cold air in.”

Jared swung the door shut and turned around to face Megan. “I’m an idiot.”

“You’re not an idiot,” Megan said comfortingly. “You’re a hormonal, gay, teenage boy that spends all his time with one of the most attractive men on this planet. You really can’t be blamed for your feelings.”

“Whether or not that’s true,” Jared said, “I can be blamed for the fact that I let words come out of my mouth without thinking them through and then thoroughly regret them later. I don’t fucking have a filter around him, Megan!”

“Deep breaths, Jare. It’ll be okay.”

Jared looked helplessly at his little sister. “You like boys, tell me what to do!”

Megan stared at him in an almost apologetic way. Jared didn’t understand it until she said, “I think this is something a big brother needs to help you with.” She pushed a phone number into his palm. “Don’t chicken out, Jare.”

Jared’s eyes were drawn to the 10 digits on the scrap of paper. Jeff’s number was right in front of him. All he had to do was pick up the phone and call his big brother, who he hadn’t talked to in years and had no idea he was even gay, and ask for help. On liking a boy. Well, hell, it was just as illogical as Jared imagined it would be. Then again, “What do I have to lose?” Jared mumbled to himself.

He dug out his cellphone that was still open to the text messages Jensen had sent him. Jared read them constantly, loving the feeling off someone so wonderful talking to him. Jared punched in Jeff’s number and stared at the phone for a long time. He could man up, like Megan suggested, and call his brother. Or he could chicken out and hide in his room and read and pretend like nothing was wrong.

Except Jared really did want to talk to his brother again. It had been a long time and Jared missed him. Not that he’d ever admit that to anyone. Besides, there was such a slim chance that Jeff would even want to talk to him. He’d probably just hang up the phone as soon as he realized it was Jared. Okay. So it would be over quick. “Just get it over with.” He pressed call and hoped for the best.

 

********

 

Jensen drove away from Jared’s house confused and not exactly sure where the steering wheel was taking him. Eventually he wound up in front of Chris’ house, which really was the last place he wanted to be, ever. But it might be a good distraction, who knows. Jensen jumped out of the car and knocked on his best friend’s door.

Chris swung it open looking like he just got up. “What’s up, Jenny?”

Jensen didn’t correct him on the nickname. “I need a distraction.”

“Like, alcohol distraction or go out and fuck around distraction?”

“Option B. I need to be sober Monday morning.”

“You’d be sober,” Chris pointed out. “Just really hungover.”

“Which is probably worse.”

Chris grinned at him. “Come on it, Ackles. One distraction, coming up.”

Jensen groaned.

 

Turns out Chris’ idea of a distraction was to invite Steve over and blast music so loud Jensen’s ears hurt. Steve realized it wasn’t helping pretty soon in and turned it down. Chris frowned at him. “What the hell, Stevie? Jensen wanted a distraction?”

“I think he’d also like his hearing,” Steve snapped. “And so would I.”

“Fine,” Chris replied. “But we’re not playing Dr. Phil or something like that to figure out what’s going on in Jenny’s head.”

Steve glanced at Jensen. He’d tried to sink as far down as he could in Chris’ couch and ignore his friends, even responsible and caring Steve. “Come on, Jensen,” Steve tried. “What’s up?”

“I’m fucking exhausted,” Jensen said. It wasn’t far from the truth. “I don’t even remember the last time I was home. Though I’m sure I’m not missed.”

Even Chris looked sympathetic at that. Steve, Chris, Gen, and Danni were the four people in the world that knew about Jensen’s home situation. Jensen trusted them enough not to spread rumors or laugh and run away from Jensen the minute they realized he was essentially a loner. Steve dropped beside him. “Buck up, Jen. Your family loves you. We love you.”

“Speak for yourself,” Chris shot at Steve. There was a playful glint in his eye and he winked at Jensen. “I’m gonna go order a pizza.”

Steve rolled his eyes at Chris’ retreating back. “He means well. I think.”

“I can never tell with him,” Jensen agreed. “But I think deep down he loves us.”

Steve chuckled. “Feeling distracted?”

“Feeling confused,” Jensen told him. “But at least I don’t feel like I’m going to collapse and die.”

“That’s always a good thing,” Steve said. “I’d be pretty disappointed if you collapsed and died. No one would be there to score the winning touchdown at the championship.”

Jensen was about to snap at him, but he knew Steve was only teasing. “And no one would be able to tell you and Chris were being complete assholes.”

“Yeah, but we’re complete assholes all the time.”

Jensen laughed. “The many people that you’ve put purple pudding in their lockers in can attest to that.” Jensen’s smile disappeared as soon as he said that. He knew how intuitive Chris was, he was basically a male version of Gen.

“This is about Jared,” Steve said instantly. “Isn’t it?”

“No,” Jensen lied.

Steve snorted. “I’ve known you since you were 10. I can see right through your fucking lies.”

Jensen bit his lip. “Okay,” He admitted. “So maybe it is a little bit about him. I just hate that everyone assumes we can’t be friends because I’m the fucking quarterback and he likes school.”

“Who says you can’t be friends?” Steve asked.

“Okay,” Jensen said bitterly, “So Jared can sit with us tomorrow, and no one will say a word? I can say hi to him in the hall and people won’t look at me like I’ve lost my fucking mind? Because I swear, if you say any of those things are true, any of them, I’ll punch you in the face for lying to me.”

Steve looked at him sadly. “I’m sorry.”

It was all he could get out before Chris sauntered back into the room and announced he’d ordered a large meat pizza and chicken wings. He never noticed the melancholy attitude his two friends had taken on.  

 

 

The phone rang three times while Jared sat at the kitchen table feel nauseous. He considered hanging up and not letting Jeff have the chance to answer at all, but then a familiar sleepy, gruff voice answered. “Hello?” His brother grunted.

“Jeff?” Jared exhaled.

“Who’s this?”

“Jared,” Jared responded. He regretted this more and more by the minute.

“Little brother Jared?” Jeff sounded surprised. “How’d you get my number?”

Luckily it sounded more curious that angry. “Megan. She told me I needed to call you.”

“Whadda need, little bro?”

I need you to come home. Jared almost felt like driving to Jeff and dragging him home. Just hearing his brother’s voice brought up a wave of sadness. “Help,” Jared choked.

“Jared?” Jeff’s tone was suddenly concerned. “Are you okay, little brother?”

Jared’s eyes stung. Fuck, was he going to cry on the phone? “I’m fine. No. I mean, yes, I’m not injured or anything. I just… I need advice. And I need it from my big brother.”

Jeff let out a deep breath. “Thank god. I thought you were hurt, or you’d knocked some girl up.”

“Jeff…” Jared didn’t know what to say. “Have you ever like someone?”

“Duh. I don’t live in a cave, like you.”

“I’m being serious, you dick.”

“Okay, okay.” Jeff cleared his throat. “Who’s the lucky girl?”

“Well,” Jared said. This was the big moment. Shit. “It’s actually a guy.”

There was a long, quiet pause and Jared’s hands felt clammy. Shouldn’t have called. Shouldn’t have called. Eventually, Jeff said, “Oh, thank god.”

“What?” Jared shrieked. “What—what does ‘thank god’ mean?”

“It means I thought I was imagining the way you always looked at boys more than girls. Guess I was wrong.” Jared could hear Jeff’s smile. “It’s okay, little brother. I’m not a bigot. I was just waiting for you to come out to me. Took less time than I imagined, considering I left you and Megs alone with our parents.” Jeff actually sounded guilty at the end.

“S’okay,” Jared said quietly. “We’re good.”

“Then why are you calling me for advice?”

“I need it,” Jared said. “And I wanted to talk to you.”

“Aw, little brother still cares about me,” Jeff teased.

“I hate you.”

Jeff laughed. “Okay. So back on the subject. You like a guy? Which I actually don’t know much about, cuz I’m straight. So I’ll do the best I can.”

Jared tried to breath and calm himself down. “Thanks.”

“So, tell me about this guy. Name, age, occupation, social status, is he crazy, etc.”

“His name’s Jensen Ackles,” Jared stared with the easy stuff. “He’s the quarterback and he’s not crazy. He’s really nice.”

“Jensen Ackles like Josh Ackles’ little brother?”

“I don’t know,” Jared admitted. “I don’t know anything about his family, except he’s got a little sister named Mackenzie.”

Jeff let out a whoop of laughter. “Dude, Josh is my age! We were in high school together. Valedictorian, quarterback, humanitarian, all around superstar. Every girl in the world was in love with him.”

“Do you know him?” Jared asked.

“No,” Jeff said. “Just saw him in the hall of our high school. Four years we were in school together and I never said hi to him.” He exhaled sadly. “Everyone worshiped him like he was a god. And he was practically perfect, smart and talented and funny and everyone liked him. But no, little bro, I never met the guy.”

Jared frowned. It might be easier to get to know Jensen if he had some connection with someone else in his family. “Do you know anything about his family?” Jared asked hopefully.

“Honestly?” Jeff replied. “Not a thing. Josh was pretty outgoing but he was always closed off when it came to his family. The only thing I did know was that he was fiercely protective of his little siblings. So when he went to college as far away from home as he could get…” Jeff’s sentence trailed off. “I dunno. Must have crushed his siblings.”

Jared thought of Jensen’s sad eyes every time Megan teased Jared or how he shut down when families of any sort were brought up. It only made Jared more curious about the handsome quarterback. “Oh.”

“What?” Jeff asked. “Is Jensen okay?”

“No, he’s fine. But he’s pretty closed off about his family too. Won’t even let me go over to his house. I want to know him, I want to help him, but I just… I can’t,” Jared said wistfully. “There’s nothing I can do.”

Jeff sighed. “Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You like this guy, right?”

Jared nodded, then remembered Jeff couldn’t see him. “Right.”

“Okay. So don’t go poking into his business. Just ease yourself into his life, and when he trusts you enough he’ll let you in.”

“Jeff, we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum. He’s the quarterback, I’m the nerd. I’ve hated him for all of high school and vice versa.”

“S’okay, little brother,” Jeff soothed. “Time will tell.”

“There’s not that much time left in school,” Jared said hopelessly.

“Then you better make the most of it,” Jeff replied. “Don’t fuck around with the time you have with him. Make it count.”

“He’s straight.”  

“Inside all men is a fabulous gay guy bursting to get out,” Jeff said. “So don’t lose hope. And you’re an okay guy.” Jeff paused. “How’d you get to know him anyway?”

“I’m his tutor. So he comes over after school and we sit for hours and work on homework he hates while he misses his girlfriend.”

“He has a girlfriend? Tough break, man,” Jeff said.

“Thanks,” Jared snapped. “As if I didn’t know that.”

“Sorry,” Jeff mumbled. “Just trying to sympathize.”

“I know!” Jared exclaimed. “I know. I’m just really bitter about it because I really like him and I’m just his fucking tutor that as soon as he graduates he’ll forget all about. And it sucks.”

There was a beat of silence. “Aw, kiddo…”

The old nickname was all it took. Jared sniffed and felt a couple tears slip out of his eyes. “I’m so pathetic,” He choked. “I miss you and I miss Jensen and I’m so, so pathetic.”

Jeff let him sob into the phone and made soothing noises until Jared had let the last tear fall. “I miss you too, Jay,” Jeff said softly. “You and Megs and mom and dad.”

Jared squeezed the phone so tightly it made an indent in his hand. “Will you come home?”

“Course, little brother. Soon. Now that I can see the whole thing falls apart without me,” Jeff teased.

Jared gave a hiccupping laugh. “Thanks, Jeff.”

“Sure thing, Jay. Don’t be afraid to call me for anything, okay? And tell Megan the same.”

“Okay,” Jared  sniffed. “Miss you.”

“Miss you too. Now hang up before I cry too.”

Jared laughed but pressed end. He wasn’t entirely sure what the advice he’d gotten from his big brother was, but he felt better and confident and knew he could sleep well that night.

“Told you it was a good idea,” Megan said softly from the edge of the room. Jared jumped. He didn’t even realize she was there.

“How long had you been there?”

“Long enough to see my big brother have an emotional breakdown,” Megan responded. She took a seat next to him and placed her hand on his. “Do you feel any better?”
“Yeah,” Jared said honestly. “Maybe crying on the phone to my big brother was cathartic.”

“Hey, whatever works,” Megan pointed out. “Now, I need help with geometry. Think you could take a break from being Jensen’s tutor to help me out?”

Jared shoved her playfully. “Anything for my annoying little sister.”

“I’m awesome,” Megan snapped playfully.

“Yeah,” Jared threw an arm around her. “You’re pretty fucking awesome.”

 

*******

 

Jensen stayed over at Chris’ house. They’d turned on movies and more food than their stomachs could handle. Making fun of bad horror movies and stuffing his face with pizza seemed to help in some way, especially when Chris announced they were going to have a pizza-eating contest and promptly threw up after declaring himself the winner. Steve actually started crying he was laughing so hard.

It may not have been the pour-out-your-soul session he had with Gen, but it certainly was a distraction. He managed to laugh and smile and not mope about his confusing feelings about a certain hazel-eyed tutor. Chris had suggested they get drunk at one point, which was quickly shut down by Steve when he pointed out his parents would get suspicious of the lack of liquor in their house.

Not that Chris was ever bothered about that before.

Sometime during the night the three of them had fallen asleep with the flickering lights of a black and white horror movie illuminating their faces. 

Chapter Text

Monday morning’s a bitch. Monday morning’s always a bitch, but this one especially so. Somewhere around 3 am Jensen had an epiphany and the epiphany was that even if he did graduate, he’s not going to college. And the epiphany kept him awake for the rest of the night and his eyes stung from holding back tears and staring at the same patch of ceiling for four hours.

So on Monday morning, his absolute least favorite part of the week, Jensen is tired and cranky and so confused and angry he feels like he’s going to punch the first guy that looks at him funny. Even Danneel’s avoiding him. The one person that won’t leave him alone is tiny, big-spirited Gen. Jensen’s lost count of the times he’d told her to fuck off. She simply shoved coffee in his hand and stuck to his side like glue as they walked through the hallway.

“What’s up, Jen?” Gen finally asked.

“I had a fucking epiphany last night and got a total of 1 hour of sleep.”

“You stay over at Chris’?”

“Where else do I not get a sufficient amount of sleep?” Jensen snapped. “And I’m tired and cranky and so I will not apologize for bickering.”

“Didn’t expect you too,” Gen said calmly. “But I would appreciate it if you told me your epiphany, since it kept you up all night.”

“I’m not going to college,” Jensen told her. It sounded pretty lame and depressing outright but Jensen didn’t care.

Apparently Gen agreed with him. “I thought Jared was helping you get in?”

“He’s helping me graduate,” Jensen clarified. “Even if I graduate with a 4.0, college app deadline has long passed. I’m not going.”

Jensen’s favorite—and least favorite—thing about Genevieve is that she’ll never sugar coat anything. When you need the whole fucking truth and nothing but the truth, Gen will give it to you. “Next year, Jen,” Genevieve says softly. “The deadline’s past for this year. Not forever.”

Jensen can’t do anything but sling an arm around her shoulders and let her guide him to class. He may be the quarterback and a good foot taller, but she’s always the tougher one. The one taking care of him. It doesn’t fucking matter age or height or strength when it comes to Gen. She’s everything Jensen needs in a crisis—level headed and honest.

Jensen takes deep breaths on the way to class. What did he have first? Was it French? All he knew was that Gen was in his class. Jared wasn’t. Danni wasn’t. Chris was. And chances were, Jensen was failing it.

But Gen was right. It wasn’t going to be forever.

 

*******

 

Jared was close to dozing off in Spanish. His conversation with Jeff had eased his mind considerably and relieved a lot of the tension. But it didn’t mean there weren’t still hurdles to leap over. Like the certain red-haired girl glaring at him from the back of the classroom. Jensen was in French right now, which meant Danneel and her friends could shoot daggers at Jared with their eyes and not have any interference from Jensen. It made Jared incredibly insecure, to not have the safety blanket and fierce protectiveness of Jensen Ackles.

It made him even more insecure that he’d come to depend on Jensen so much.

It drove Jared fucking insane, the dependency, the obsession, the need to have Jensen close to him all the time. He wanted the feeling of his heart beating faster and his palms sweat because of the closeness to Jensen. He wanted Jensen to drive him insane, to pin him against his bedroom wall and fuck him into the next century.

Danneel’s glare was burning a whole in Jared’s head and his fantasy was dulled by anxiety. There was nothing Danneel could do to him here. Even passive aggressive movements were impossible seeing as Danneel was as far away from Jared as she could possibly place herself. It may not be visible to anyone else, but after hearing Jensen talk about her for days he knew it was Danneel saying that she was disgusted and annoyed with him. The way she twisted the necklace Jensen gave her around her fingers said that Jensen was hers. And the drumming of the nails screamed game on.

Jared fully intended to bring his A-game. But he worried that wasn’t enough the longer he thought about Danneel. The longer he thought back to previous victims of Danneel’s sneaky tricks. She never got caught, always got away with clean hands. Only her friends knew what Danneel had done. God, Jared loathed the girl.

Jared wasn’t going to explode here. Not here. Danneel Harris was Jensen’s girlfriend, whether Jared liked it or not. And if Jared was going to be Jensen’s friend then he had to tolerate, or at least pretend to tolerate, his girlfriend. And Jared would like to believe that Danneel loved Jensen. If she didn’t she was a bigger idiot than Jared thought. No one could be that close with Jensen and not completely love every single thing about him.

God, Jared was so far gone it was ridiculous.

“Jared!” His teacher rebuked. “Shouldn’t you be paying attention?”

Shouldn’t you have said that in Spanish? “Si, profesora. Lo siento.”

She waved him off. Jared was one of her best students anyway. What did it matter if he daydreamed occasionally?

She turned back to the board to continue teaching, or make an attempt at teaching. Jared could only imagine how hard it would be to teach seniors who were counting the days until graduation. No one in the room was paying attention. She seemed to notice because English slipped into her Spanish as she droned on about the correct uses of various tenses. Jared heard a snort from the back of the classroom accompanied with, “Who cares? English is a hell of a lot easier, and it’s what I’ll be using forever.”

Jensen didn’t recognize the snotty tone, but he knew it was from Danneel’s corner of the classroom. Danneel’s hushed snicker followed the comment and Jared rolled his eyes. Some of the girls really would go out of the way to impress the fucking queen bee of the school.

Then again, wasn’t he going out of his way to impress Jensen? He actually cleaned the house in anticipation for Jensen coming over. It’s different, Jared told himself. I’m not a mindless robot clamoring for popularity. I just want to be friends. Or maybe more. Either way, it’s different.

Ever since Jared had started to tutor Jensen, he lived for history class. He could even suffer through Edlund’s monotone lectures on things that otherwise could be interesting as long as he knew Jensen was back there, staring at him, a few rows away but invisible to Jared’s eyesight. It was like ecstasy, the feeling of Jensen being in the same room as him. And it took pretty much all of Jared’s self-control not to turn around and scream his honest feelings the him.

Of course, using up all the restraint on not telling Jensen exactly how Jared felt about him meant that he was severely distracted during class. Second period went agonizingly slow. Jared glanced at the clock every two seconds, hoping more than a single fucking minute had gone by.

It never had.

Jared felt like banging his head against the table. Tom fucking Welling was glaring at him from across the classroom and though Jensen said he’d asked his friends to ease up on Jared didn’t mean they would necessarily listen. Or they would find some way around the clause that worked in their favor. Sneaky bastards, the lot of them. Every so often Jared would toss a glance in Welling’s direction and find the glare slip into an easy smirk.

Third period couldn’t come soon enough. When the bell at the end of second period did finally come, Jared leapt out of his seat like it was on fire. He was almost out the door when a strong hand that could only belong to a football player grabbed him. “Not so fast, Padalecki,” Tom hissed. “Why don’t we walk to class together?”

It was certainly the end of Jared’s life. He already knew the basis of what he was going to say, to back off from Jensen because the football team needed him for their damn championship. It was almost like Welling read his mind because he said, “You think you know what I’m going to say. You think I’m going to say ‘stay the fuck away from my quarterback’ like everyone else who’s confronted you has.” Jared nodded and Tom snickered. “Well,” Tom continued, guiding Jared towards his history class with too strong of a grip. “I figured enough people have said that to you. And since you still haven’t gotten the fucking picture, I’m going to tell you a different story, how’s that?” Jared nodded and Tom rolled his eyes. “Are you a fucking mute? Say something.”

“Y-y-yes,” Jared stammered. “A different story.”

“Good,” Tom looked smug. “Now. Here’s the abridged version of the story. Jensen is one of my best friends. When he’s not adopting social outcasts and befriending them, we’re together. Danneel. Gen. Chris. Steve. Me. We’re his friends. We’ve always been his friends, we’ve always been there for him. Jensen is loyal and fierce and kind.” Tom’s tone became softer when speaking of Jensen. “I’ve known him forever. And a life without Jensen is unthinkable to me. To all of us. So if you’re spreading rumors about us,” Tom’s grip tightened. “You’re not going to like what happens.”

With one final smirk Tom disappeared and Jared entered history on shaky legs. Jensen was sitting in his usual back of the classroom spot with his arm slung around Danneel. So despite all the things Jensen had said about their relationship, it was just as strong. Jared could live with that. But when he leaned over to whisper in her ear and kiss her cheek—that was something Jared couldn’t deal with. He turned quickly away from Jensen and sat in the front with his eyes trained on the board. Nothing changed just because he and Jensen spent one weekend bitching about their problems together.

Jared felt his phone buzz in his pocket. He glanced down to the display and saw Jensen’s name on the screen. At first Jared wanted to pocket his phone again, but temptation was too strong. He opened the text and saw that it read, turn around.

No fucking way. There was no way Jared was going to turn around and see Danneel and Jensen in their whole happy universe together. Jared acted like he hadn’t read the text message. A new text from Jensen popped up. Please.

Why? Jared typed back.

He didn’t get a response. The fucker. Fine, that was okay with him. Jensen couldn’t give him a reason enough to turn around, that was just fine. Jared kept his eyes on the board while Edlund kept himself entertained with the map and Western Culture. A new text came. Come on, Jay. Turn and look at me.

God, the fucking nickname and the tone and the fact that Jared remembered he was trying to be Jensen’s friend made Jared turn in his seat. Jensen held up a piece of paper and Jared became confused. It was just a piece of fucking paper. No, it was a quiz. And it had a B+ scribbled at the top of it. Jensen was beamed at him like Jared handed him the world.

His phone buzzed again. It’s calc!

Jared wondered if Jensen had gotten above a C ever, ever on a calc test. But he was holding proof in his hands that he’d learned and could pass things and it filled Jared with an unexplainable source of joy.

Jared received another message. Thank you. Never could have done it without you, Jay.

Jared closed his eyes and imagined that there was more in his message that just friendship. It didn’t work.

 

********** 

 

Jensen was utterly and completely confused. It’s not like he expected Jared to jump up in the middle of class and high five him, but he was expecting more than a tight-lipped smile and then his attention focused back on the board. It was fucking weird, and more disappointing than Jensen wanted to admit.

Danneel had been thrilled, or at least acted thrilled. Even Gen had smiled at him and told him she knew it could do it. Neither of them brought up Jared, and Jensen felt guilty for not mentioning that he really couldn’t have accomplished it without the guy. He felt like a total douchebag, actually, and Jensen wondered if that’s why Jared didn’t look to happy. He knew that Jensen hadn’t acknowledged Jared’s influence on Jensen’s success.

Jensen leaned over to whisper in his girlfriend’s ear. “You know I couldn’t have done it without Jared, right?”

Danneel turned and gave him a soft smile. “Of course you could have, baby. You had it in you all the time. Jared was just sort of a… catalyst.”

Danneel said the word catalyst like it tasted bitter in her mouth. Jensen knew the reason; it was because Jared had managed to inspire Jensen in school and Danneel never had. She believed Jensen liked Jared more than her. Jensen wrapped his hand around hers under the desk. “I never would have made it without you, Danni. Without your support.”

Danneel looked smug and tossed him another smile. Jensen knew his relationship was safe, for now.

 

Lunch had become more and more strained with his friends. Everyone recognized that things were tense between people that used to be so open with each other. Conversation was forced, if anyone spoke at all. Most of the time they just sat there in silence and picked at their food. Chris played it off to nervousness about the upcoming championship. To the public eye it would be believable. To anyone who knew better, it was a lame cover up to the real problem.

Jensen felt guilt fill up his body and coil into a pit in his stomach. He knew it was his fault that things were so tense. His friends didn’t trust him, his girlfriend didn’t trust him, and Jensen didn’t even trust himself. He wanted to scream. He knew anyone who knew him well enough could see the anxiety in his eyes, the paranoia and the misery. It’s why his friends were avoiding eye contact with him. If they didn’t know it was happening, then it wasn’t happening, and nothing had to be done about it.

Some friends.

Jensen closed his eyes and tried to ignore the feeling of complete and under loss. He was playing in the championship in a few weeks, and he couldn’t even focus on lunch. He was going to screw the whole team over and that was that. And then he’d graduate and move to the countryside and ignore the outside world forever. He’d never get married and die alone and sad.

His head fell onto the table and barely missed what the school cafeteria was trying to pass off as food. He felt a gentle hand on his back and rub circles gently. Jensen had to admit, it felt really nice. He could probably just lie there for the rest of the day. “Jen,” Danni’s soft voice said. “We should probably talk.”

“Probably,” Jensen mumbled into the table. “Now?”

“Now or never,” Danneel replied. “Before I lose my nerve.”

Jensen gathered up his “food” to toss it in the trash. The last thing he saw before exiting the cafeteria was Jared’s eyes. If Jensen didn’t know better, he could have sworn they looked almost sad.

 

Danneel stopped him when they were down in the art hallway, far out of earshot of anyone else. “Jensen,” Danneel started.

Fuck, she used his whole name. He was really in for it. “Danni, baby-,”

Danneel touched his wrist gently. “Just let me talk.” Jensen nodded and his girlfriend continued. “Jen, are you okay?”

Was he okay? No. Definitely not for so many reasons. “I…”

“Don’t lie to me, Jen. Not me.” Danneel’s eyes were so genuine that for a moment Jensen wanted to spill everything to her.

“I’m not going to college,” was what fell out of his mouth. “All the deadlines have passed. And you’re going to fucking Yale and I’m just going to be at home, waiting for another year at my shot to attempt at getting into college.”

Danneel stepped closer to him and wrapped her arm around his bicep. “You think… you think I think I’m too smart for you?”

“No,” Jensen said quickly. “I think you’re too smart for me. Too… too amazing. And for the life of me I can’t figure out why you haven’t left me. You’re going places. I’m not.”

Danneel let out a sigh of relief that left Jensen confused. Danneel smiled at his expression. “Jen, I’m not going to leave you. I promise. I love you. And I don’t think I’m too good for you, and you shouldn’t either.” She paused. “Sometimes I feel like you can’t see how amazing you are.”

“I’m not-,”

“You are,” Danneel said fiercely. “You are fucking amazing, Jensen Ackles. And I admire you. I admire you for your kindness and your thoughtfulness and your tendency to give people a chance. You see the best in people, every time. I look at them and see popular or not. And you know what? You put up with my bitchiness because that’s just the kind of guy you are. You’re the guy that I think about when I feel sad, the smile I see when I fall asleep. Don’t sell yourself short, Jen. You’re so much more than a quarterback.”

And right then and there, Jensen fell in love with her all over again. But right as he was about to kiss her, hazel eyes flashed in his vision.

 

*******

 

Jensen and Danneel left lunch early. Jensen and Danneel left lunch early. Jensen and Danneel left lunch early. It was all Jared could think about for the rest of lunch, his appetite decreasing completely. He knew they were going to go off somewhere secluded and… Jared didn’t want to think about it. Jared wasn’t talking to Mike, which suited Mike just fine. He spent his time talking to other people, less pessimistic people.

Jared felt so alone.

It was a depressing thought, but he supposed heartbreak would do that to a person. When the bell rang for lunch to be over Jared didn’t want to go to any more classes. Especially when Jensen and Danneel sauntered back in with flushed faces and dopey smiles. The kind of smile Jared wanted to put on Jensen’s face.

Jared had physics. The relation of movement of one object to another. The way Jared’s heart picked up when Jensen was near. The way it fell when Jensen smiled at Danni. Physics. Movement of one thing in relation to another.

Jensen had physics the period after Jared. He was in English now, not that Jared had memorized his schedule or anything. The only friend of Jensen’s Jared recognized in this class was Genevieve Cortese. She was a cheerleader and Danneel’s best friend. Jensen described her as bullheaded and fierce. Jared had to agree with him when Genevieve shoved Jared’s books off one half of the lab desk and took a seat next to him. She didn’t even glance at him, just pulled out her notebook and poised to take notes. Jared gaped at her in shock.

She sensed his gaze on him and turned to look at him with raised eyebrows. “What?”

“N-n-nothing,” Jared said. “Nothing.”

Genevieve turned away. “Then close your mouth. You’ll swallow flies.”

Jared stared at her, astounded, for a moment more. Then he took her advice and turned to stare at the board where the teacher’s hand was scribbling notes so quickly Jared didn’t have a prayer of deciphering the messy notes. Genevieve did, however, and her perfect handwriting was sketching out exactly what he was writing.

Genevieve looked at him again. “What are you staring at?”

Jared blushed. “How can you read what he’s writing?”

Genevieve grinned at him. “My mom’s a physics teacher at the local community college. If I can read one word on the board, I can usual figure out the rest.”

Jared squinted but still couldn’t make anything out. Genevieve pushed her notebook between them. “We can share,” She offered.

“Why?”

“Well you can’t fucking read it, so if you want the notes, just copy mine,” She snapped. There wasn’t venom in her voice, and even a spark of amusement in her voice.

“No I mean, why-,”

“Why am I not treating you like shit?” Genevieve finished. Jared nodded. “Jensen likes you. I trust his judgment. Therefore, I like you,” Genevieve explained.

“Thanks, Genevieve,” Jared said gratefully.

“Call me Gen,” She said. “All my friends do. Now copy the damn notes.”  

Jared smiled to himself and decided that bullheaded was an understatement.

When physics was over, Jared decided it was the first time he’d actually enjoyed sitting in an uncomfortable metal chair and listening to repetitive explanations of how the world worked. Genevieve, no, Gen, caught his arm before he managed to scramble out of class. “Jared,” She said. “We need to talk.”

Jared groaned. “I’ve heard that a lot lately.”

Gen let out a tinkling laugh and Jared decided it was one of the prettiest sounds ever. “I’ll bet. No. I just wanted to say that you’re an okay guy. And I’m totally cool with you and Jensen hanging out.” She gave his arm a comforting squeeze. “The words Chris and Steve can do is put purple pudding in your locker. And if they do again, I’ll kick their asses.”

“A girl a foot shorter than me is gonna defend me?” Jared couldn’t help it.

Gen laughed again. “I’m tougher than I look, hot shot. Now go win over Jensen’s big, sweet heart.”

“Wha—no, it’s not—I mean, we’re not-,”

“Okay, darling, whatever you say.” Gen stuffed a gum wrapper into his hand and Jared opened it to see a series of numbers scrawled on it. “Call me sometime.”

“I’m-,”

“Gay, I know.” Gen rolled her eyes. “Hon, I could see you’re gay from a mile away. So call me, I’ve always wanted to be a fag hag. And come hang out with us sometime.”

“You and Jensen and…”

“And Danneel and whoever wants to show up.”

“Why?”

“You’re full of ‘whys’ aren’t you?” Gen teased. “But if you need to know, it’s because Jensen smiles when he’s around you. Doesn’t smile so much around us.”

Gen released his arm with that comment and walked down the hall. She carried herself like a fucking queen, graceful and beautiful in a way Jared could never be. He stood there staring for a while until a girl bumped into his back. “Oh, sorry,” Jared said and spun into a beautiful cheerleader. What was her name? Sophia something?

Sophia-something smiled warmly at him, which was completely unexpected. “It’s okay. You’re Jared Pada…Pada…”

“Padalecki,” Jared said.

Sophia smiled. “Thanks. Yeah, I’ve heard of you.”

“You’ve—what?”

Sophia’s smile never wavered. “You’re Jensen’s friend. He said you were sweet. Didn’t say you were fucking gorgeous though.” She snickered. “Suppose Danneel would have kicked his ass if he did.”

“Um, thanks,” Jared mumbled.

“You’re welcome.” She stuck out her hand. “Sophia Bush.”

“Jared Padalecki,” He shook her hand. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?” He remembered with a blush.

Sophia giggled. “I like you.” She continued her walk down the hall with a wave. “See you round, Jare!”

What the hell?

 

******* 

 

Jensen spent English class imagining what Jared was doing in physics. Not like Kripke wasn’t interesting or anything, he just sort of wanted to curl up and take a nap. Kripke’s voice combined with a too-warm classroom was ideal nap condition. Several other students were already deep in the REM cycle. Jensen had the feeling that Kripke was one of the teachers that had stopped caring.

Jensen allowed himself to drift in and out of his daydreams, finding they mostly consisted of Jared and the way his hazel eyes sparkled when he laughed. Ordinarily Jensen would be deeply disturbed by the sudden development of more-than-friendly feelings for the guy. But like Kripke, Jensen had stopped caring.

Of course he adored Danneel. But midway through English his second epiphany hit him—he loved her with all his heart. But just as a friend. And this was a pretty lame epiphany and something Jensen should have realized months ago but hey, better late than never.

Oh shit. Does that mean Jensen had to break up with her?

That would end badly. So, so badly. Danneel does not get broken up with. But god, Jensen wanted to feel like he was in control of his own life! And right now, he felt as he had as much control over his life as he did the way his stomach dropped at the top of a rollarcoaster. So breaking up with Danneel would be a good place to start. Or a bad place, considering she very might well kill him.

Ugh and they were still going to prom together.  

Jensen’s eyes flicked around the room until they landed on Chris. He silently willed his friend to look over at him, shocked that Chris wasn’t asleep. When Chris did look at him, Jensen mouthed, Prom?

Chris smirked and looked away. Jensen’s phone vibrated. You asking, Ackles?

Haha. You gotta a plan for the night?

Thought you were taking Danni?

I am, Jensen replied. Just don’t want to be surrounded by chicks all night.

Dude, that is my perfect night.

Jensen rolled his eyes. Well, I’m not single anymore. So you better me there, Kane.

Chris turned and smirked at him. Wouldn’t miss it. Your boyfriend going?

Chris.

Sorry. Is JARED going?

Jensen honestly didn’t know. Not sure. Probably not.

Bummer. Guess you’ll have to give his dance to me then.

Jensen snickered. I planned to ask Steve, actually.

Fucking traitor. I’m taking a nap. Wake me up when school’s over.

Jensen rolled his eyes. Out of all the underachievers in the world,  Chris really took the cake. And that was coming from Jensen, who’d until recently decided that getting wasted on Friday night was more important than his future.

Until fucking Edlund made Jared tutor him, and now Jensen was passing tests. It wasn’t good if Jensen wanted to keep up his slacker-mysterious-nonchalant reputation.

Jensen glanced at Chris, who’d easily drifted off to sleep in a patch of sunshine. Right now, Jensen didn’t really know what his reputation was. 

Chapter Text

Jared opted for sitting inside the truck while he waited for Jensen that afternoon. His head rested against the steering wheel as he tried to figure out when Chris had stopped tripping him and resorted to glaring, when cheerleaders had become nice, and when Danneel’s best friend had shoved a number into his palm asking him to call her.

The obvious answer was that Jensen had told them to back off. Jared just didn’t believe they would listen. They seemed to enjoy humiliating Jared too much to stop, and it made Jared wonder exactly what Jensen had said to his friends to get them to back off.

Jared was so exhausted that he started to drift off asleep with his head pressing into the steering wheel. A car door jerking open jolted him awake and Jared saw Jensen jump in beside him. He slouched down in his seat and didn’t bother looking up at Jared. Jensen opted for staring out the window morosely and Jared sighed. “Hi, Jensen.”

Jensen gave a grunt in response and started to dig through his backpack. Jared just rolled his eyes. They weren’t going to get anywhere in this conversation unless Jensen wanted it to. Jensen groaned and let his head hit the back of the seat. “Fuck.”

Jared glanced over at him. “Jensen?”

“Can we go to my house for a quick second? I forgot something.”

Jared nodded. Jensen hadn’t even discussed his house before, so it must be something really relevant. “Just tell me how to get there.”

The rest of the car ride was in silence, except for Jensen’s occasional instruction. When they finally reached a driveway, Jared thought they must be at the wrong house.

“Mansion” was an understatement compared to what Jensen’s house really was. It was huge and wide and when Jared stepped out of the car he spent a good amount of time just staring at the sheer size of the house. Jensen seemed to notice because he stopped by the front door and said, “You coming?”

Jared nodded without really thinking. Jensen grinned for the first time since Jared had seen him, even if it was a little bitter. “Bigger than you expected, huh?” Jensen said.

“It’s just-,” Jared paused. “Big.”

Jensen jogged down the steps leading to the door until he was next to Jared. He touched his shoulder gently and said in a gentler tone, “I promise, it’s not a big deal. Just a house.”

“Or a small fucking hotel!”

A dark look flashed over Jensen’s face but it was gone so quickly Jared thought he imagined it. “Yeah, it’s big. But it’s not all that glamorous once you’re inside.”

Jared highly doubted that but he let Jensen lead him inside regardless. “Don’t be scared of just a house.”

“I’m not scared,” Jared protested. “Just… intimidated.”

His comment managed to pull a laugh out of Jensen. “There you go again, making me laugh when I don’t want to. Fuck you, Padalecki. In the good way,” He added before Jared could ask.

Jared smiled too, glad he could ease whatever stress had been clouding Jensen’s mind. The smile faded into pure astonishment as Jensen opened the front door—which looked like it belonged in an art museum—and finally saw what was on the inside of the house. It was not less glamorous on the inside; if anything, it was more glamorous. Artwork dotted the walls and the furniture was modern and elegant. Jared was afraid to touch anything it was in such pristine condition.

But Jensen just strolled through the house like it was no big deal. He didn’t even bother to take off his shoes and so Jared followed his lead, cautiously treading behind his friend. Jared kept his eyes focused carefully on Jensen’s back as he led them past the kitchen—holy shit that was a huge kitchen—and the dining room with glossy photos and a huge table. Jensen seemed to notice Jared’s anxiety because he swiveled around abruptly and Jared almost slammed into him. “I told you, Jay, don’t worry about this damn house. Just think of it like your house, except bigger.”

“My mom would kill me if we wore shoes in the house,” Jared told him. He felt a blush rising in his cheeks as he spoke.

Jensen smiled tightly. “My mom doesn’t care.”

“She sounds cool.”

Jensen turned away and continued walking. “She’s something,” Jensen muttered. Jared decided to drop the subject of family.

“So, how’s football going?” Jared asked.

Jensen brightened slightly. “We’re preparing for the championship. It’s super nerve racking, I mean we have to win. It’s the most important game of the season and our last one and I want to be remembered for something other than the guy that didn’t graduate. I want to be remembered as the guy that led his team to win the championship.” Jensen bit his lip. “That sounds really conceited. What I meant was that I want to matter. Rather than just be some dumb kid that teachers can’t wait to see the back of.”

“You matter to me,” Jared said. Oh fuck. The words just came out. Jared really had to learn how to control his tongue.

“Well,” Jensen replied. “At least one person cares about me.” He took the stairs two at a time.

Jared jogged to keep up with Jensen’s long strides. “That’s not true. Tons of people care about you.”

“Tons of people care that I throw the winning touchdown.”

“Jensen,” Jared said. When Jensen didn’t turn around Jared grabbed his arm. “Jensen!” Jensen didn’t turn, but he didn’t yank his arm away from Jared and he took that as indication to continue. “I’m not going to throw you a pity-party,” Jared snapped. It came out harsher than he meant. “People care about you. More than just me. So… just…”

“Stop whining?” Jensen suggested.

“Stop selling yourself short,” Jared corrected. “And stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

Jensen finally faced him, but there wasn’t anger in his eyes. Just resignation. “Sorry.”

“You never have to apologize to me.”

Jensen’s emerald eyes flickered with amusement and he dragged Jared up the rest of the stairs. They passed a barely open door where loud music poured out of. “Hi, Mack!” Jensen called into the room. There was no response, but Jensen shrugged like it was usual.

“Are your parents at work?” Jared asked hesitantly. It was a big house but still, it seemed like there should be some movement.

“Dunno,” Jensen replied. “They could be anywhere. With my family, it’s don’t know, don’t care.”

Jared couldn’t imagine not sitting down and having dinner with his family every night. Apparently it wasn’t unusual for Jensen to be alone, which confused and saddened Jared. “That was your sister? Mackenzie?”

“Yeah,” Jensen said. “She’s 13 and acts like she’s 20. Can’t wait to get out of here, not that I blame her. Josh took off few years back and that was that. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Even Jeff contacted his parents. Hell, Megan had his number. But out of sight, out of mind… maybe Jeff was right. They weren’t the family Jared imagined them to be. “My brother left for college a few years back. Jeff wanted to be a doctor and he got a scholarship to Harvard. He’s doing med school there, too. Hasn’t been home for a while, but I’ve talked to him on the phone.”

“Cool.” Jensen sounded far away. He pushed open a door. “So… this is my room.”

Jared knew his mouth had probably fallen open again and he tried to conceal the shock. He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised, given that the rest of Jensen’s house was just as large. But his room was almost twice as big as Jared’s, and had various gaming systems shoved up against the wall by, holy fuck, his plasma screen. There was a laptop on the desk and a few books stacked in a bookshelf. It was clean and orderly. Way to clean and orderly for a teenage boy and Jared almost asked if they had a maid. Jared became less in shock and more confused as he scanned the room. It didn’t look like a teenage boy even lived here. There weren’t any posters on the wall or photographs of family. It was impersonal and neat, just like a hotel room.

Jensen dug around in his stuff and swore when he stubbed his toe on his desk. “Not here. Come on, it’s probably upstairs.”

Jensen grabbed his hand and Jared stumbled out of the room, still focused on the intense beauty of it and completely impersonal vibe. He barely even noticed how snugly Jensen was holding his hand until he let go.

 ******* 

Jensen didn’t quite know why he was leading Jared up to his loft. At least, that’s what he’d decided to name it. It was more like an attic that Jensen had converted into his personal living space because his bedroom was too depressing. To any other teenage boy it was ideal, including Jared based on his wide eyes. To Jensen it was a reminder that his parents thought that love was synonymous with expensive gifts.

So Jensen spent a large amount of his time in his loft. He pulled down the lever that opened the door on the ceiling and the ladder fell down. Jensen climbed up and noticed Jared’s hesitation. “I promise, it won’t fall down on you. Don’t be such a chicken.”

Jared glared at him but followed Jensen up the ladder. When they were both situated inside, Jensen pulled the door shut and walked around to try and find the damn book.

“What’re you looking for?” Jared asked quietly.

Jensen hesitated. Jared already knew he wrote songs, so what the hell. “My songbook. It’s sort of a diary, and I like having it on me at all times. So I know that no one else has it. And if an idea hits me I’ll have somewhere to write it down.” Jensen glanced around the room and saw that it was a mess. Papers were scattered everywhere, along with clothes and blankets from when Jensen had decided to sleep here rather in his room. “Sorry it’s such a mess. I suck at cleaning.”

“S’okay,” Jared replied. “Me too.” His eyes widened as he saw something in the corner and Jensen’s head snapped to follow his eyes. Had he left porn out or something?

Jensen sighed in relief when he saw Jared was just fixated on the guitar. “You like it?” Jensen asked.

Jared’s eyes slid back to him. “What? Oh. Yeah. It’s beautiful.”

Jensen abandoned the search for his notebook and picked up his guitar. It was his most prized possession. “Yeah, she’s beautiful. Love this thing.” Jensen stroked it lovingly.

“You play?”

Jensen nodded. “You didn’t think I just wrote songs for fun, did you?”

“I didn’t know,” Jared mumbled. His eyes left the guitar and landed on the ground.

Jensen stifled a sigh. “You don’t have to be shy around me, Jay,” Jensen told him in what he hoped was a comforting voice. “Seriously, if there’s anything you want to say, just say it. There’s nothing I’d judge you for.”

“There could be,” Jared protested.

Jensen laughed. “Are you forgetting who I hang out with?”

“Yeah, but still.”

“Do you want to offend me?”

“No!” Jared exclaimed. “Of course not.”

“Then relax. You walk on eggshells around me.” Jensen scanned his face. “And I feel like there’s something you want to ask me. Or several somethings.”

Jared glanced at him with shock in his beautiful hazel eyes. There were so many colors in those eyes Jensen felt like he could get lost in the maze of brown, green, and gold. Jared gestured limply at the guitar. “Could you…”

Jensen grinned. “You want me to play you something?”

Jared blushed and nodded and Jensen’s only grew. “I’d love to, Jay. But you’ve gotta help me find my songbook.”

“What’s it look like?”

“It’s black. And it looks like leather but it’s not. And it’s super worn down, like someone’s thrown it through the washing machine and carried it around in their backpack for years.”

Jared bit his lip to conceal a smile and turned to scan the room for the book. Jensen turns away from him with a small smile on his face. Maybe it wasn’t a horrible idea to show Jared his loft.

 ******

Jared looked around Jensen’s room, which reminded Jared of an attic but looked more like what a teenager’s room should look like, in search of his book. Jared thought Jensen wouldn’t even consider playing Jared something on his guitar, but Jensen had said yes immediately. He seemed amused by Jared’s request, which was embarrassing and strangely gratifying at the same time.

Eventually Jensen gave a little shout with joy. “Found it! Now I can play you a song!”

Jared blushed. He knew Jensen was playing his guitar because Jared had asked, but he hoped that someday maybe Jensen would play one just because he liked Jared. Maybe even write one for him.

Jared spun to face Jensen and hoped that he wasn’t blushing. “You’re sure you’re okay with this?”

Jensen waved him off. “What’s the difference between singing along and singing in front of a friend? Chris and Steve and I play together all the time.”

“Chris can sing?”

Jensen laughed at his shocked expression. “He’s not a complete douchebag. Just 80%.”

Jared laughed too. “You stalling, Ackles?”

“Shut up, Padalecki.” Jensen plucked a few strings and flicked through the songbook. “Let’s find one that isn’t mournful and pathetic.”

“Your music is mournful and pathetic?”

“A great majority of it,” Jensen admitted without looking up. “But at least I haven’t dyed my hair black and pierced things that shouldn’t be pierced.”

“You’re so stalling.”

Jensen laughed and finally let his finger settle on a page. “Here we go. It’s kinda lame because I wrote it for Mackenzie. But she’s my little sister, she’s pretty much the one thing that’s consistent in my life.” Jensen glanced at him. “You tell anyone about this and I’ll kill you.”

Jared crossed his fingers over his heart. “Cross my heart.”

“What are you, twelve?”

“You’re the one with a diary!”

“It’s a manly diary,” Jensen protested. “And chicks dig a guy that can play guitar.”

Jared forced a smile at his comment. Jensen plucked a few more strings and tuned the guitar before picking up his pick. “I’m serious, you judge me and I’ll kill you.”

Jared smiled. “I promise. I won’t judge you. Crossed my heart, remember?”

Jensen matched his smile and started to strum the guitar softly. Jared was pretty sure he’d discovered the prettiest sound in the world, at least until Jensen started so sing. His voice was like honey. It was sweet and soft and perfect and Jared practically turned into a puddle at the sound of it. “You sleep beside me, younger in your dreams,” Jensen sung. Jared remembered it was about his little sister. “I miss your smile and the twinkle in your eyes. I want to fix your broken heart, I want to sew up the seams…”

Jared sat and listened to Jensen sing about how he missed the little sister that followed him around blindly, that loved him and acted like a kid rather than a college student. It was sad and sweet at the same time and when Jensen was done, he looked to Jared for approval.

Jared didn’t really know what to say. How do you tell someone that they are the most talented person in the world without letting on that you’re completely in love with them? “It was…” Jared let out a breath. “Wow. Amazing. You’re really talented.”

Jensen’s eyes lit up. “You think?”

“Yeah,” Jared said emphatically. “It was awesome.”

Jensen grinned. “Thanks.”

Jared’s eyes examined the rest of the loft. A few posters hung on the wall, mostly band posters. They was one picture of Jensen and what must be his family. Jensen was smiling and Jared noticed one of his front teeth was missing. He smiled as he looked at it more carefully. The little girl had to be Mackenzie. She was grinning and holding onto Jensen’s hand. The taller boy must be Josh. He was trying to look bored but there was a sparkle of happiness in his eyes. The woman—Jensen’s mom—had her arms around Mackenzie and their dad rested a hand on Jensen’s shoulder. They looked like they were out hiking.

Jensen followed his eyes. “Yeah. I was eight then. Naïve enough that I could still be happy around my family.”

Jared’s eyes shot to him. “What?” Jensen looked uneasy. It wasn’t an emotion he showed often and Jared immediately thought he’d over stepped his boundaries. “Oh, sorry,” Jared said quickly. “I didn’t mean to—sorry.”

Jensen smiled sadly at him. “It’s alright.” Jensen flopped down on the couch. “You want me to tell you my sob story?”

Of course Jared did. He was dying of curiosity. On the other hand, Jared didn’t want to do anything that would make Jensen uncomfortable. He ended up stammering out some combination of yes and no. Jensen patted the couch beside him. “Sit.”

Jared sat on the opposite end of the couch. He was sure if he sat any closer his heartbeat would be loud enough Jensen could hear it. Jensen shrugged at his decision and started, “Already told you about Josh. He met this girl named Catherine his junior year of high school. They fell in love and he spent more time with her than us. Not that he spent that much time with us anyway. Then they went to the same college when they graduated. Last time I saw my brother I was 14. I used to miss him a lot more. He looked out for me for a while. Mack too. But then one day… he was just gone. And now it’s almost like he was never here.” Jensen held up his pick. “He bought me this pick. Haven’t used a different one since. Josh always supported my decision to play guitar rather than football. When he was gone though, I didn’t have anyone to support me and I became the quarterback. ‘Josh’s brother’ was going to make an impression.”

Jensen rubbed a hand over his face. “I tried to hard to just be Jensen. But it didn’t work. So I started to slack off in school. I still watched over Mack, but then she became too cool for family. My mom… well, she’s always gossiping with the neighbors or reading tabloids. My dad’s a lawyer or a businessman or something. Doesn’t matter, but I know he’s sleeping with his receptionist. I think my mom knows too.” Jensen laughed bitterly. “Our family is so fucked up that we don’t even care about adultery.”

He folded his hands in his lap and looked down. “So that’s that. It’s why I don’t spend a lot of time here. I don’t bring friends over. It’s too depressing to have to make excuses for them.”

Jared didn’t know what to say. It’d be impossible to come up with words to describe the way Jared felt about Jensen. He felt pity and sorrow and sympathy and all he wanted to do was wrap Jensen up in his arms and hold him until Jared had taken the pain away. Instead, Jared said, “That’s why you don’t like people thinking you have an idea life.”

Jared expected Jensen to snap at him, but he only raised his head to look at him with blank green eyes. “Yeah, pretty much. Chris knows so I spend a lot of time with him and his family. They’re sort of like an adopted family.”

“That’s nice,” Jared mumbled. That’s nice? Jared wanted to hit himself on the head with Jensen’s guitar.

Jensen’s expression softened. “Yeah. So, I know Chris can be a dick but… he’s more than I have here.”

Jared’s heart just about exploded with sadness. “Jensen…”

“Whatever,” Jensen interrupted. “Can we just go do homework at your place?”

Jared nodded and grabbed his backpack off the floor where he’d dumped it. Jensen followed suit and guided Jared back out of the house. Jared took one look back before he shut the door, the emptiness echoing around him. Silence screamed in his ears and Jared thought, if only I could make Jensen happy.

 *******

Jensen wasn’t quite sure why he had the urge to spill his life story to Jared. He just felt so comfortable with him. Jensen told him more than he’d ever told Chris or Danni. And Jared hadn’t judged him at all. Just listened with concerned ears and gentle eyes. It was nice to be able to rant about all the issues in his family. Keeping it all bottled up inside hadn’t done his sanity any favors. It felt like an incredible weight had been lifted from his shoulders. “I didn’t depress you for the rest of the day, did I?” Jensen asked Jared.

“No, of course not,” Jared said quickly. “It’s just a lot to take in.”

“I shouldn’t have told you all that,” Jensen mumbled from the passenger seat. “I shouldn’t have dumped all my problems on you.”

Jared looked hurt. “I can handle it.”

Jensen realized his mistake. “It’s not about you handling it. It’s about my life being fucked up and choosing to make you…” He didn’t know what to say.

“You didn’t make me do anything. I’m 18, I can think for myself.”

Jensen rested his head against the window. “None of this is coming out right.” Jensen felt a hand on his knee and glanced down to see one of Jared’s hands comfortingly resting there.

“It’s okay, Jensen.”

Jensen caught his hand before Jared pulled it away and held onto it. “Is this okay?” Jensen asked, indicating to their hands.

Jared smiled. “Yeah, this is okay.”

 ******

Jared and Jensen spent tutoring in mostly silence. Occasionally Jensen would ask for help and Jared would get up to point out how Jensen could finish the problem. Mostly Jared sat on the floor and watched Jensen, his green eyes squinting if he was thinking hard, or drooping when he was bored.

Jared liked the little things he learned about Jensen. The way he doodled music notes on the side of his notebook when he got distracted, the pursed lips when he was concentrating, the way he’d drum his pencil and hum along to a song he’d heard. The things were so Jensen. It was kind of comforting, knowing that Jensen was a normal teenager rather than the stuck up asshole people made him out to be.

When Jensen’s phone went off they both jumped at the sudden noise. Jensen answered it quickly. “Chris, hey.”

Jared heard a muffled response and tried to focus on history as Jensen spoke to his friend. “No—Chris—I’m at tutoring right now. No I can’t bail. I don’t know…” Jensen paused while Chris talked. “Okay, fine, I’ll ask him.” Jensen turned to Jared. “Chris is having a party at his house. Well, sort of a small gathering of friends. He’s got a pool so he was just gonna have some people over and hang. I’m not gonna skip tutoring, but he asked if you wanted to come too. We’d just go for an hour or so and then we’d come back.”

“Chris invited me?” Jared asked in astonishment.

Jensen grinned. “He wants me over there, Jay. Plus, they want to get to know you.” Jared raised an eyebrow and Jensen rolled his eyes guiltily. “Fine. But I promise they’ll be cool. Better than the pizza parlor.”

Jared was still skeptical. Nothing could come of this but suffering. “I dunno.”

Jensen slid off Jared’s bed and nudged his shoulder. “You’ll get to see girls in bikinis.”

“Gay, remember?”
“Oh. Um. Well you’ll see Chris in a swimsuit, and he’s not built badly.” Jared crinkled his nose and Jensen laughed. “Okay, not Chris. Just come. It’s a nice pool and it’ll be fine. You can relax for once.” Jensen punched his arm playfully. “I won’t leave your side.”

Jared sighed. “Lemme grab my suit.”

Jensen leapt up in satisfaction. “This is gonna be so much fun, I know it!”

Jared only gulped in anticipation.

 

When Jared pulled up to Chris’ house Jensen jumped out immediately. Jared hung out in the car for a little while longer and tried to brace himself for the ambush of cheerleaders and football players that was waiting on the other side of the door.

Jensen rapped on his window and Jared jumped. “Come on,” Jensen said. His voice was slightly dulled by the glass between them. “I promise, it’ll be fine.”

“Promise?”

Jensen grinned. “Cross my heart.”

Jared laughed and shoved the door open. Jensen stumbled backwards and glared at Jared. Jared only laughed harder until a smile formed on Jensen’s face that he desperately tried to suppress.

Jensen didn’t bother knocking on the door, he just walked right in. “Kane! We’re here!”

A voice from outside shouted, “Padalecki with you?”

“Course he is! Didn’t want him to miss out on you spectacularly failing at diving!”

“Fuck you, Ackles! Come around back!”

Jensen tugged Jared around to the back of the house where Steve, Danneel, surprisingly Sophia, and thankfully Gen were all lounging. Tom and Chris were already in the pool. “Suit’s right there,” Steve said gesturing to a chair.

“I just leave my suit at Chris’ because I never use it at home,” Jensen explained to Jared.

Jared nodded. His throat was dry but Gen smiled at him. “Come sit, Jare,” She pointed to the seat next to him. “I want you to tell me all about Jensen’s whining during tutoring.”

“Fuck you, Gen, I can work when I want to,” Jensen snapped.

Jared was about to respond when Jensen pulled his shirt off to change. Fuck, Jared knew Jensen was muscled because he was a football player but he was not prepared for that. Freckles dotted his muscled back and when Jensen turned to say hi to Danneel, Jared’s voice vanished completely at the sight of Jensen’s abs. Gen grabbed his arm and pulled Jared down beside her. “Act like you’re not drooling over him,” Gen hissed.

“Oh my god he’s-,” Jared gaped. “Okay. I need to get a grip.”

Gen grinned. “I know. See? There are perks to hanging out with Chris.”

Jared forced his head to look away when Jensen stripped off his pants. Gen crawled into his lap and Jared asked hoarsely, “He’s going to change? In front of everyone?”

Gen shrugged. “We’ve all seen it.”

Jared’s head fell back against the lounge chair. “He’s gonna be the death of me, Gen.”

Gen settled herself comfortably in Jared’s lap and stroked his hair. “I got you, sweetheart.”

“I’m gay, Gen.”

Gen shrugged. “You’re still hot as fuck.” She wound her fingers in the base of Jared’s tee shirt. “Bet you’re even hotter when you take this off.” Jared grabbed her hands and Gen’s eyebrow raised delicately. “You want Jensen to notice you or not?”

Jared nodded at her and let Genevieve slide his shirt up and off. Her eyes widened when she examined his torso. “God I wish you weren’t gay,” She breathed. Her fingers explored his muscled stomach and Jared twitched under his touch. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just tickled.”

Gen smirked but moved her hands away to squeeze his biceps. “You’re so fucking gorgeous.”

Sophia seemed to be of the same mind. She dropped into Gen’s old seat and gaped at his body. “Jesus, Jare, why didn’t you tell us you were built like Adonis?”

Jared blushed. “I didn’t know.”

Sophia rolled her eyes. “You’re the hottest guy here.”

Chris heard her comment and his head raised. “Sophia, come on.”

“You haven’t seen this guy’s abs.” Sophia stroked his arm. “Or, holy fuck, his arms.”

“He’s got a lapful of Genevieve Cortese.”

Gen slid off and let the rest of the group see Jared’s body. Jared’s blushed deepened at the attention.

Steve rested his sunglasses on the top of his head. “Remind me why you’re not playing football?”

Jared shrugged. “Not my sport.”

Tom glared. “Whatever.” He turned away and swum to the end of the pool.

Gen patted Jared’s arm. “He’s just jealous, baby.”

“When did you two become so close?” A falsely sweet voice asked.

Jared glanced up at saw Danneel and his blood ran cold. Gen answered for them. “Since we became lab partners. Jared’s a cool guy.” She ruffled his hair.

“A lot of people seem to think that,” Danneel replied with a side glance at Jensen. “Maybe I’ve been judging you too harshly.” Her eyes raked his torso. “You certainly don’t look the part of nerd.”

“Um, thanks,” Jared replied. Danneel smiled sweetly. Dangerously sweetly.

“Baby,” She called to Jensen. “Come check Jared out.”

“Good word choice,” Jensen retorted. But he took once look at Jared and his mouth dropped. “Man, Jay, you’ve got no reason to be self-conscious with a body like that.”

Gen’s smirk grew and she crawled back into Jared’s lap. “He’s mine, get your own.”

Jensen pulled her hair. “Enjoy, Gen.” He winked at Jared. “I’ll leave you to fight off all these women.”

Sophia stuck her tongue out at Jensen. Jared frowned slightly. What happened to sticking to his side the whole time? Danneel pulled Jensen off to the side and kissed him in front of everyone. “Come on, baby, let’s swim.” She was running her hands all over Jensen.

Gen frowned. “Get a room!” She yelled. Danneel grinned at her friend and jumped into the pool. Jensen followed.

Sophia stood up. “I’m gonna join them. Chlorine gives me highlights. You two coming?”

“In a sec,” Gen promised. Sophia nodded and dived gracefully into the pool. Gen faced Jared. “I’m sorry, hon.”

Jared didn’t ask what she was apologizing for. His eyes just flicked to Jensen, who was laughing with Danneel. “Seems like abs aren’t enough to get the attention of the quarterback.”

Gen settled beside him and patted his arm. “It’ll all be okay. And I’m here for you.”

“Still can’t figure that one out,” Jared teased.

Gen laughed. “It’s cuz you’re so hot. I’m hoping you’ll turn straight for me.”

Jared laughed with her and let Gen pull him closer to the pool. “Gen…”

“Come on, hot stuff, let’s go swimming.” Gen winked playfully. “See how long you can keep your shorts on.”

Jared pushed her and she grabbed his arm and dragged him down with her. They came up gasping for air and choking out water. Gen beamed at him and Jared decided that she was right. There were perks to hanging out with Chris. 

Chapter Text

Jensen couldn’t explain the heat the pooled in his stomach when he saw Jared lying with his shirt off, or the strange possessive feeling that filled him up with Gen crawled all over him. He did abandon Jared when he promised to keep him company so it was good that Gen was getting along with Jared. But dammit, Jensen felt like he was the only one that had the right to make Jared laugh like that. If Danneel noticed that his eyes flicked to Jared more often than they did to her body in a bikini, she didn’t comment on it.

Jensen was grateful for that. He chalked up the twitch his dick gave to seeing Danni in barely any clothing, but it wasn’t her he was looking at when his heart stuttered. What the actual fuck was happening in his head? Jared was a guy. So what if he was gay? Jensen wasn’t and he had the hottest girl in school as his girlfriend. Maybe they had their differences and Jensen had considered breaking up with her for a second. No big deal.

Didn’t mean he was lusting after Jared.

Of course not.

Because he wasn’t.

Jared was just really fucking hot. Anyone would stare at that body. Fucking miles of tan muscle, his definite hipbones that Jensen couldn’t get out of his mind, and that humble smile with fucking dimples.

Danni wrapped her arms around him in the pool and he carried her without much effort. He loved out weightless everything was in the pool. Danneel could wrap her legs around his waist and they could lean against the side of the pool and exchange languid kisses.

So they did.

Jensen didn’t even think he opened his eyes. His body was consumed with desire as Danni ran her fingers all over his body and winding in his hair. Jensen heard Gen’s grunt of disapproval and Chris’ whoop, but he ignored them. He had to get the fantasies that it was Jared pinning him against the wall and shoving his tongue down Jensen’s throat the way Danneel was now. Jensen let out a low moan and Danni smirked into the kiss. It’s fine. Let her think that the moan was because of her gorgeous body. Anything to get Jared out of his mind.

And as soon as Danni broke the kiss, the first thing Jensen had to do was look over at Jared. God, it should be illegal to be so gorgeous. Water dripped off his body and it was shining in the sunlight and the way he pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and that smile… Jensen felt a momentary flash of jealousy when Gen jumped on him. Jared was gay. So Gen’s flirting really wouldn’t mean a damn thing.

Right?

 

 

Jared, with Gen’s help, had managed to keep his eyes off Jensen and his overly obsessive girlfriend for the time being. Jared snuck a few glances in and his gut clenched at the sight of his perfectly toned body. Of course it got old pretty quickly, watching Danneel stroke and kiss Jensen like he was a doll.

Gen managed to entertain him for the time being, quizzing him on which male celebrities they found hottest and making Jared laugh in funny ways. Gen was quirky and different than what Jared had expected. She did what she wanted and was different than Danneel in so many ways. There was still a question burning in Jared’s mind though and he eventually asked, “Why are you friends with Danneel?”

The dazzling smile that had graced Gen’s features dropped. “What do you mean?”

Jared regretted asking the question almost as soon as it had fallen from his mouth. “I just mean… you guys seem so different. I always thought best friends were identical twins.”

“You think Chris and Jensen are identical twins?” Gen asked. There was a hint of amusement in her eyes.

“Well, no, I guess not. But they grew up together.”

Gen smiled gently. “Danni and I grew up together too. We all did. Well, Sophia we met in 7th grade but everyone else-,” Gen gestured at the group, “We’ve known each other since elementary school. We sort of grouped together, like it was totally okay that girls and boys could be best friends.”

Jared leaned against the edge of the pool and watched the rest of Gen’s friends swim around and laugh with each other. “You guys seem so normal outside of school.”

“Sorry to disappoint,” Gen teased. “What did you think we’d be like?”

Jared glanced at her. “You know… like you are in school.”

Gen didn’t look offended. “Do you act the same way you do at school as you do at home?”

“I guess not,” Jared grudgingly admitted. “It’s just unexpected.”

Gen patted his arm. “Because we’re all such assholes in school.”

“That’s not-I mean, I wasn’t saying that.”

Gen grinned at him. “Of course you were. You were asking why if at school we act like we own the fucking world why we act like 3 year olds when we’re alone. Weren’t you?” Jared nodded and Gen continued. “Well, my hypothesis is because here when we’re alone…” Gen smiled at her friends. “We don’t have to impress anyone. No one is watching us and cross-examining us for mistakes or flaws. We try so hard to be perfect in school, this is the one place where we can be totally imperfect and it doesn’t matter.”

“That’s a good hypothesis.”

“Thanks, Jare.” She waved a hand at the people swimming in the pool. “What about you? How did Jensen convince you to come to the house of the guy you hate most in the world?”

“I do not hate Chris,” Jared insisted. “We just don’t get along.”

“Because you hate him.”

“No, not because I hate him. And even if I did hate him, he hates me too.”

Gen snorted. “He hates you because Jensen trusts you more than him.”

Jared blushed. “That’s not true. He said Chris’ family was like an adopted family.”

“And they are. But think about it this way. Jensen puts up years and years worth of walls because he’s only been taught that people you love leave you. Chris hacks down at these walls one by one and it takes him forever. You’ve been friends with him for what, a week? And you’ve not only knocked them down, you’ve bulldozed them into piles of rubble. Chris is jealous, asshole.”

“Of me?”

“Yes, dumbass. Of you. Jensen’s his best friend in the whole world. You think he wants to lose his closest confidant? The one guy Chris has entrusted his secrets to since kindergarten? Chris is scared that Jensen’s gonna start thinking like you. That one day Jensen is going to decide that Chris is an asshole and leave his best friend for you,” Gen explained. “And Chris is scared.”

“Jensen wouldn’t,” Jared protested. “I know he wouldn’t.”

Gen looked at him with sad eyes. “Exactly, hon. You know. Chris was uncertain about him for years. And you know. It’s not the kinda thing that inspires confidence in a lot of people.”     

Jared felt a rush of guilt flood his body. He looked over at Chris who was watching Jensen and Danneel swallow each other’s tongues with a half-approving, half-skeptical face. Genevieve followed his eyes. “He just wants his best friend back,” Gen said softly.

“Are you saying I should stop being Jensen’s friend? Because I can’t do that. Not when I feel the way I do!” Jared whisper-exclaimed.

Gen rolled her eyes. “I’m trying to get you to understand where he’s coming from. The bullying, the glaring, the pranks—he’s trying to scare you off! He’s marking his claim like a fucking animal! Don’t fall for the bait.”

“Oh, great,” Jared said sarcastically. “I’ll just ignore the fact that I’m getting beat around like a ping pong ball and all that shit.”

“Don’t be sassy with me, Jared Padalecki. I’m just helping you out.”

Gen was right. “Sorry,” Jared muttered.

“Don’t be sorry. I like that you speak your mind. It’s refreshing from all the lies and hidden feelings that I’m used to.”

Subconsciously, Jared draped an arm around Gen. She reminded him of Megan, all fiery energy and free-spirited, loyal and kind. Gen fit herself underneath his arm and smiled. “Any more straight yet?”

Jared couldn’t help but laugh. “Sorry. Still crushing on the quarterback.”

Gen sighed exaggeratedly. “Well, I guess I’ll have to try harder then. Don’t know how I’m supposed to compete with Jensen Ackles, the dreamiest boy in school-,”

Jared laughed harder and shoved her away, Gen giggling as well. Jared’s head turned toward Jensen’s instinctively, but instead of watching Danneel press her boyfriend up against the wall, a pair of green eyes stared back at him. Oh shit. Could he tell that Jared was daydreaming about being where Danneel is now?

Jared’s head whips away from Jensen and is met with Gen’s knowing glance. “Oh, fuck you,” Jared muttered. Gen let out a peal of laughter and Jared took the opportunity to glance back at Jensen. His eyes were back on Danneel.

Jared felt his stomach tie in knots and dragged himself out of the pool. Gen followed suit, her smirk fading into concern. She threw him a towel and sat down in the chair beside him rather than curling up between his legs. “What’s up, Padalecki?”

“You know what’s up.”

Gen frowned sympathetically. “I’m sorry, hon. I know there’s not much I can do to make it better. If it’s any conciliation, you look incredibly hot right now.”

Jared managed to laugh at her comment before wiping off excess water. “It would be if it was coming from Jensen.”

“You don’t love me at all, do you?”

Jared playfully pushes Gen, much more teasing then he ever thought he’d be with a cheerleader. “You’re too short.”

Gen growls and tackles him and they end up on the hard concrete, laughing and in pain. “I think I got cut everywhere on my body,” Jared groans.

“Your fault.”

“I’m sorry, who tackled who?”

“Thought you’d be strong enough to hold your own,” Gen taunted.

Jared pushed her off him. “Well, I don’t think Danneel hates me anymore since you’ve sufficiently convinced everyone we’re into each other.”

“Oh wait, you’re not into me?” Gen cried indignantly. Jared shot her a look and she giggled. “Kidding. I’ll be your beard if you want. Just keep your shirt off.”

“And here I thought you liked me for my personality,” Jared replies, mock-hurt. Gen laughs again.

“I like you because you’re the first guy I’ve met that’s not afraid to me you,” Gen elaborates. “You’re fucking smart and classy and you’re nice. Being really fucking hot is kind of a bonus.” She smiled kindly. “The guy that wins your heart is a lucky man.”

Jared glanced at Jensen again. He was talking with Chris, water coating his body in a light sheen and Jared can’t help but imagine licking the water off him. “I guess.”

“Oh don’t go all mopey on me,” Gen scolded. “We’re at a pool party, at Chris Kane’s, and Tom hasn’t tried to hit on me once.”

“Think again, sweetheart,” A smarmy voice said. “I don’t give up that easily.” Tom appeared behind Gen and offered her a beer. “Drink?”

“No thanks, Tom,” Gen said between clenched teeth. “Go jump in the pool with your friends.”

“Aw, Gen,” Tom slung an arm around her. “We’re friends, aren’t we?” Tom was talking to Gen but smirking at Jared. He barely resisted the urge to roll his eyes; Tom thought Jared wanted to hook up with Genevieve, of course.

“I consider you more as an acquaintance, or a slimy creature we took pity on.”

Jared managed to turn a laugh into a cough and Tom glared at him. “Whatever, gorgeous. You’ll give in to me eventually. And my offer still stands, you know. You’ve got a waiting prom date, right here.”

Gen glared at him and shoved his arm off. “I’m going alone, Tommy. Still waiting for you to wrap the idea around your head that not every girl is interested in you.”

“Sorry, I haven’t quite grasped the concept yet.”

Unlike Jared, Gen didn’t hold back an exaggerated eye-roll. “Go fuck yourself, Tom.”

“Rather fuck you,” Tom crooned.

“She’s not a slut,” Jared snapped. He didn’t even realized he’s spoken. “I mean-you shouldn’t talk to her like that.”

Tom glowered at him. “You think you can tell me how to talk to girls, Padalecki? Fucking haven’t been laid your entire life. I’ll flirt with Gen however I want to.”

“She’s not an object,” Jared growled back.

Tom raised an eyebrow. “You want in her pants, Padalecki? Cuz I gotta tell you, she’d pick me over you any day of the week.”

Jared flushed and Gen was immediately by his side. “You’re so fucking wrong,” She said calmly. “I’d pick a gentleman over you in a heartbeat.”

Tom opened his mouth to respond but Jared felt the familiar warmth of Jensen beside him. “Something wrong, Tommy?”

Tom glared at Jensen and bit back a response. “Nothing,” He snapped. He tossed another hateful look at Jared and slid into the pool.

Jared was sure his face was white. This was not at all how the afternoon was supposed to go. He was supposed to be at home and complaining about homework to Jensen. Instead Jared had Genevieve Cortese’s arm around his waist and Jensen standing rigidly against his side at Chris Kane’s house. Not how it was supposed to go.

Jared wiggled out of Gen’s grip. “I gotta go,” He mumbled. Jared practically ran out of there, stumbling over the legs of a few chairs and ignoring Jensen calling his name. 

 

 

Jensen felt like punching Tom. Jared was so sweet and naïve and Tom was bitter and sharp-witted. His flirting with Gen—or more rude commenting on Gen’s body—was bound to set off someone as kind hearted as Jared. And Jensen should have told him about how fucking insane his friends were, how crude they could be. Jensen shouldn’t have brought him at all. It would have caused them both less pain.

Tom was retreating inside and Danni was at Gen’s side. “What happened?” She murmured.

“Jared stood up for me,” Gen said meekly. “He thought that Tom shouldn’t say—that he shouldn’t comment on my body the way he does. And so Tom called him… he said some nasty things to Jared.”

Danneel’s eyes snapped to Jensen. “Maybe you should go after him.”

Well that was unexpected. “What?”

Danni shrugged. “You want to scare off the first guy that’s actually been nice to my best friend? Go after him, dumbass. Jared’s… I mean, I guess he’s not horrible.” Danni crinkled her nose like the words left a bad taste in her mouth. 

Jensen didn’t care. He was already running after Jared and found him leaning against his car door with his fingers wrapped around the handle. “Jared!” Jensen called.

Jared’s head jerked up. “Jensen?”

“Yes, dumbass.” Jensen slammed the partially open door shut. “Come back inside.”

Jared shook his head frantically. “I’ve had enough excitement.”

“That’s a good word for it,” Jensen muttered. “Okay, fine. Lemme go grab my clothes and we can leave.” He looked cautiously at Jared. “You’ll be here when I get back, right?”

Jared paused a moment and then nodded. “Course I will.”

Jensen let out an unexpected sigh of relief and slid back into Chris’ backyard to grab his clothes. Tom was outside again, lying on a chair with sunglasses covering his eyes and a satisfied smirk on his face. Jensen resisted the urge to rip the glasses off. Tom was his friend.

Tom pushed the glasses on top of his head like he could sense Jensen’s rage. “Jen…”

Jensen didn’t know what to do. Half of his brain was telling him to punch Tom, the other to walk out without response. “What, Tom?”

“I’m sorry.”

Jensen’s eyes didn’t soften. “Not me you should be apologizing to.”

“Then who?” Tom asked in bewilderment.

“Figure it out.” Jensen shrugged. “Not my responsibility.”

Jensen walked away with a strong sense of satisfaction. Someone needed to knock Tom off his high horse once in a while. He smiled smugly when the realization that Jared had done it, Jared who blushed every time someone complimented him and barely spoke to anyone, Jared who was quiet and sweet, had not only knocked Tom off his high horse but shoved him off into the dirt. With that thought in mind, Jensen made his way back to the car.

Jared was still there.

 

Tutoring, or the remainder of it, was spent in comfortable silence. Jensen didn’t ask for help because surprisingly, he didn’t need it. It took him a little longer and more than once he threw down his pencil in frustration. But eventually Jensen figured out every single problem for every single class and it felt like a major victory. He’d actually managed to do his homework alone and successfully for what was probably the first time since first grade.

Jensen’s eyes turned up to Jared, who was looking at him amusedly. “I finished everything! Without whining, which you should mention to Gen because she thinks I can’t do anything without throwing a bitch fit.”

Jared chuckled. “Good work, Jensen.”

Jensen noticed he held a book in his hands. “You’ve been done for a while, haven’t you?”

“Bout an hour.”

Jensen glanced at the clock. “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize it was so late. You probably want to eat dinner. I should get going.”

Jared glimpsed at the blinking red numbers. “7:00 isn’t that late.”

“Well, it is a little bit. I’ve been here for like, four hours.”

“A little bit of that was spent at Chris’.”

Jensen shuddered. “I promise, we will not have a repeat performance of that.”

Jared grinned. “Well, you probably need to get home to eat dinner.”

“Trying to kick me out, Padalecki?” Jensen teased.

Jared threw his book at him. “Your presence is incredibly unwelcome. That’s why I invite you over every day for tutoring.”

Jensen threw the book back at him and it hit him square in the chest. “Don’t start a throwing war with a quarterback.” Jensen stood up and stretched out his muscles. “And I don’t really have a dinner time or something like that. Our family hasn’t sat down to eat dinner together in about 5 years.”

A look passed over Jared’s face. It was sad, and then thoughtful. “Do you want to stay for dinner?” Jared finally asked.

Jensen raised an eyebrow. Of course he did, it might be the first time he didn’t have peanut butter and jelly for dinner in years. But it could also be incredibly awkward, and Jensen didn’t do well with awkward. “I dunno…”

Jared looked at him eagerly. “Come on, it’ll be fun. My family’s not that crazy. Unless… would your parents mind?”

Jensen snorted. “My parents wouldn’t even notice. How many times do you think they’ve asked where I’ve been when I’ve stayed over at Chris’?” Jared frowned and Jensen regretted spilling out all his issues. Family shit was his problem, not Jared’s. “But I don’t want to impose. I’ll probably just go.”

Jensen patted Jared on the shoulder on the way out his bedroom door but Jared caught his hand. “C’mon, Jensen. Stay.”

Jensen raised his eyebrow and glanced at their hands. Jared immediately let go as if he was embarrassed and Jensen sighed. “Will your parents mind?”

Jared brightened considerably. “No! Come on, it’s probably ready.” Jared grabbed Jensen’s hand again and dragged him down the stairs, Jensen stumbling awkwardly behind the giant of a teenager. Jensen sighed again and wondered what the hell he’d gotten himself into.

 

 

Inviting Jensen to dinner had really just been an impulse decision on Jared’s part. He just didn’t like the picture of Jensen sitting alone, again, especially now that Jared knew the entire story. And it made Jared’s heart ache for the guy. Jensen always seemed so smiley and happy and maybe a little reserved, but never miserable. Jared swallowed when he realized Jensen wasn’t miserable. He’d become used to the distant family life.

And so Jared invited him to dinner.

It was obvious that Jensen was less than enthusiastic about the situation. Jared wondered if he was one of those people that didn’t like to be pitied, that didn’t want to be taken care of. But Jared convinced Jensen to stay, which is how he ended up sitting beside Jared at the table.

Megan was staring at him like he was the sun, all pretty and light and wonder. Jensen shifted uncomfortably and it reminded Jared that he probably hadn’t sat down at a table to eat in years. His hand found Jensen’s leg a touched it reassuringly. Jensen sighed and glanced at him gratefully.

Jared’s mom sat down at one of the table, his dad the other. “So Jensen,” Sherri started. “Tell us about yourself.”

Jensen froze and Jared squeezed his leg. Jensen let out a breath and said, “I’m the quarterback of the football team. I’ve been playing football for… for forever I guess. My parents used to say I’d rather be on the field than at home.” Jensen’s voice barely concealed bitterness at the end. Jared supposed as Jensen grew older the statement became more and more true.

“Any siblings?” Jared’s dad asked.

Jensen nodded. “Big brother, Josh, and a little sister named Mackenzie.”

Jared tried to convey to his parents silently that asking about Jensen’s family was about as pleasant as sticking a fork in his eye. “You guys don’t have to act like the Spanish Inquisition. Jensen’s a good guy.”

His parents seemed to get the hint, so the topic changed to school and football. Jensen’s face lit up with a smile when they got talking about football. Jared didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation but he was content with watching Jensen, seeing the smile that made his green eyes twinkle and occasionally hearing him laugh.

It was the happiest he’d ever seen Jensen.

When dinner finally came to a conclusion, Jensen offered to help clean up but Sherri waved him off. “Go relax, honey, Megan can help me.”

Megan squawked indignantly and Jared laughed. Jensen failed to hide his smile and Jared led him into the living room. “Wanna watch TV?”

Jensen glanced at the clock. “Dude, it’s eight. I really should get going.”

“Do you want to leave?” Jared asked.

Jensen paused and Jared feared the answer would be yes. But Jensen shook his head and sank into the couch. “Man, this is the most eventful Monday afternoon I’ve ever gone to.”

Something hit Jared then. “You didn’t go to football today!”

Jensen grinned. “Didn’t have it. A few parents complained we were being overworked so it was canceled for today. Lucky me.”

Jared couldn’t decipher the tone of voice Jensen said it in. “Well you got to go to Chris’,” Jared said lamely.

“Look how well that worked out.”

Jared yawned. “It was kind of fun.”

“Getting tired at 8:00, Padalecki?” Jensen teased.  

Jared shoved him and Jensen fell on his side on the couch, lying flat with his feet in Jared’s lap. Okay, no big deal. Jared managed not to freak out and say, “Not everyone lives as thrilling of a life as you, Ackles.”

Jensen kicked him gently. “Always sarcastic.”

Jared poked his foot and Jensen glared at him. “Least I’m interesting,” Jared taunted.

Jensen growled in mock-anger and tackled him. Jared was bigger, but Jensen kept him pinned. Jensen smirked as Jared’s struggles amounted to nothing. “Football player, remember? There’s no way you’re getting out of this.”

Jared stuck his tongue out at Jensen and the green-eyed boy laughed. “Mature, Jay. Real mature.”  

“Ugh, can’t you flirt somewhere else?” Megan drawled from the doorway. Jared didn’t even notice she’d come in.

Jensen stiffened and Jared wanted to run for it, but then Jensen said, “I can’t help it. Your brother’s just so attractive.” He draped himself on top of Jared and the two boys laughed. Megan shook her head at them and Jensen rolled off Jared in laughter. “I like your sister.”

“You can have her then. She’s a pain in the ass,” Jared replied.

Jensen shoved him lightly. “I should get going.”

“Why?” Jared whined.

“You’re such a fucking kid,” Jensen groaned. “I can’t stay here forever.”

“Another hour?”

“No, Jay.”

“Half an hour?”

Jensen rolled his eyes and picked himself off the floor. He offered Jared his hand and pulled him to his feet to, muscles flexing in a way that had Jared almost drooling. “Sorry. I’m gonna take off. But dinner was really fun. A lot more fun than I would have had.”

“Well you can stay anytime,” Jared encouraged. Desperation was leaking out of his words.

Jensen smiled softly. “Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

Jared nodded meekly and Jensen squeezed Jared’s shoulder in goodbye. Jared watched him walk out the door and wanted nothing else but to pull him back.

Jared spotted his mom watching him. “You really like that boy, don’t you?”

Jared bit his lip. “I… he’s straight.”

Sherri patted his shoulder. “All good things come to those who wait.”

Then it fucking sucked that Jared was impatient.

  

Chapter Text

Jensen slammed the door to his house shut hard enough to rattle a painting by the entryway. Not that anyone paid any attention to it. Slamming the door shut was a much-needed outlet for the anger he’d been bottling up since Jared invited him for dinner.

It was literally the nicest fucking thing anyone had done for him in a very long time. But he didn’t need Jared’s pity, he didn’t need him to look at Jensen like he was made of glass and if someone asked the wrong question Jensen was going to have an emotional breakdown. And it was more than that, Jensen knew, but he loved lying to himself. So he decided to ignore the fact that it wasn’t anger that he felt towards Jared’s amazing family, it was jealousy. He was jealous of their relationship with each other. Jealous of their happiness.

On the way up to Jensen’s room he paused by his little sister’s door. It was partially open, like always. Mack had never closed her door all the way and Jensen had always teased her about being lazy. It never bothered him; it was a way for Jensen to know she was alright.

Mack was on the phone with a friend. She was giggling and talking more adamantly to whoever was on the other line than she had to Jensen in a long time. Jensen closed his eyes and sat down on the floor, leaning against the wall and listening to Mackenzie’s voice. It occurred to Jensen that eavesdropping on your little sister’s phone conversations could be very creepy. But honestly, Jensen just wanted to her Mackenzie’s laugh. It was something he didn’t get to hear enough of. Hell, he didn’t even get to see Mackenzie enough.

Jensen’s eyes shut and he found himself falling asleep to the sound of his sister’s voice.

A sharp nudge jerked Jensen awake and he blinked sleep out of his eyes. “What?”

Mackenzie was glaring suspiciously at him. “Not that I care, but why are you sleeping outside my room? Too drunk to make it to yours?”

Jensen pushed himself to his feet. “Not drunk. Just wanted to talk to you.”

Mack rolled her eyes. “So talk.”

Well, this was going to be difficult. “How’s school?”

“How’s school? What are you, my mother?”

“Please,” Jensen drawled. “When was the last time our mom asked you that?”

Mackenzie was quiet and Jensen worried he’d pissed her off. But she swung open her bedroom door and left it open wide as an invitation for Jensen. He greedily took it and sat on her floor, gazing at his sister. “So how is school, Mack?”

She shrugged. “Nothing to report.”

Jensen took a second for the crashing realization to hit him—his baby sister was practically a stranger to him. He picked at a strand on her carpet instead of replying and Mackenzie seemed to sense there was something amiss. “Dude, what the hell? You’re acting all… not you.”

“If you could tell me what I should act like, that would be helpful, since I have no fucking idea!” Jensen snapped. “Sorry, that didn’t come out right. I’m just a little conflicted.”

“You sound a lot conflicted,” Mackenzie corrected. “Come on. Tell your wise little sister what’s going on in your crazy head.”

“When did you become wise?”

“When I stopped caring what other people thought of me,” Mackenzie said simply. “Which is more than I can say for you.”

Ouch. But she did have a point. “It’s different in high school.”

“Really?” Mackenzie scoffed. “Because you’ve sort of been this way forever. Always going out of your way to impress people. First it was Josh, and then when he bailed, it was your friends. When are you going to hang out with people that like you for you?”

“Way to drag out the clichés, Kenzie,” Jensen retorted. She just shrugged. “Look, I’ll get eaten alive if I don’t act how I’m supposed to.”

Mackenzie laughed darkly. “Oh really? So the people you call your friends will stop caring about you because you do what you want? Are they really your friends then?”

“Stop spitting out clichés, Mack. I could have just read a self-help book online for all the good you’re doing me.”

Mack glared at him. “Then go, Jen, and try having a conversation with your fucking laptop.”

“Too young to swear,” Jensen mumbled. He made no move to leave Mackenzie’s floor.

Mack smiled smugly at him. “So, you gonna bitch at me or what?”

“Why would I do that?”

Mackenzie slid off her bed and sat across from her big brother on the floor. “Because sometimes it helps to yell your problems at someone. Even if they can’t always help.”

Huh. Maybe Mackenzie was wiser than Jensen thought. “Fine. There’s a guy.” Jensen waited for Mackenzie to jump up in surprise, or make a comment on how he’s not gay. But she only sat in attentive silence and Jensen pressed on. “He’s tutoring me so I can graduate. His name’s Jared Padalecki. And we sort of… well, we’ve had our differences all throughout high school. He hated me and I essentially paid him no mind. Chris and Steve would pull pranks on him and stuff. So I guess by default, I got roped into his hatred.”

Jensen sighed. “But now… now he doesn’t hate me. At least I think he doesn’t. And I don’t hate him. I never did. I just sort of didn’t care about him. And now I care about him a lot. Like… like I cared about Danneel before we started going out. It’s a minor little feeling but nothing serious. Danneel and I have just been fighting lately, and Jared’s only ever sweet… I don’t want to be part of a lifestyle where I have to date Danneel because I’m the quarterback and she’s the head cheerleader.”

“Is that why you started dating her?” Mack asked.

Jensen frowned thoughtfully. “I don’t know. I love her… but I think I confused friend-love with girlfriend-love. And now I’m in way too deep.”

“And you have actual feelings for this Jared guy?”

Jensen rolled onto his back with a moan. “I don’t fucking know. I mean, I was practically drooling over him when he took his shirt off today. When I kissed Danneel… shit I was thinking of him. I just—I love Danni. Right?”

Mack pulled Jensen upright. “If you’re asking me, I’m totally gonna say that you love Danneel. But you love her like you love me. It’s sort of like friends with benefits.”

“We’ve been dating for over three years! That doesn’t go away in a week!”

Mackenzie looked at him sympathetically. “What if you were never into her in the first place?”

“But I mean we—oh, I can’t talk about this with my little sister.”

Mack snorted. “Man up, Jensen. I know you’ve had sex with her. And let’s be honest, she’s so gorgeous I’d have sex with her.” Jensen hid his face in his hands and Mack laughed. “You’re pathetic. Look, she turns you on because you thought you were straight and she’s hot. It was lust, never love. Jared makes you grin like an idiot.”

“You don’t know that!”

Mackenzie shook her head. “Dude, it’s not like I never see you. Besides, I heard you playing guitar to him. Good song choice, by the way.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You wrote that for me, didn’t you?”

Jensen avoided her eyes. “Maybe.”

“I think it’s sweet. You seem to be the only one in this family who actually cares about anyone other than themselves,” Mackenzie said. “And it’s the reason I’m sitting here wasting my time telling you things you already know. You and Danneel have absolutely no chemistry.”

“But I’m not gay!” Jensen protested.

Mack shrugged. “I’ve seen him. I watched you guys leave. He’s hot, dude. Anyone would want to be gay for him.”

“You watched us?”

“I missed you. Sometimes I get up early to watch you leave for school. And I always go to your football games so I can see you kick the other team’s ass.” Mackenzie smiled gently at him. “Give me some credit. Just because Josh gave up on us doesn’t mean I will.”

“I thought you were too cool for family,” Jensen teased.

Mackenzie punched him playfully. “You’re an asshole.”

Jensen grabbed her and pulled her close to him. “And you’re wise beyond your years, little sister.”

“Not really. I just watch a lot of movies.”

Jensen laughed. “Close enough. So you know about the championship?”

“It’s all my friends can talk about. They all want to hook up with you, by the way. Maybe if I tell them you’re having a gay crisis they’ll stop.”

Jensen’s eyes widened. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

Mack rolled her eyes. “Joking, Jen. Do people do that at the high school?”

“No. It’s a fucking prison.” Jensen was only half kidding. “Are you going to go the big game then?”

“I’ve been to all your other games, why would I stop now?”

“Do… do our parents go?” Jensen asked.

Mack didn’t look at him. “They’re always busy,” Mack sneered. “Dad’s quote unquote working, and Mom’s getting drunk with her friends.” She continues more apologetically. “They’re a lot more fun without them. You know how people judge us and shit because our parents aren’t in love or whatever.”

“Or whatever,” Jensen agrees sadly. “I still love you, little sister.”

“I still love you too.” She paused. “Do you think Josh is ever going to come back to us?”

Jensen was silent. He wanted to tell her, of course he was. But Jensen had no idea. “Mack… he still loves us. Maybe he and Catherine are just getting their life settled.”

“They’re engaged,” Mack said.

“How do you know?”

“Found him on Facebook. His relationship status is engaged, and there’s a picture with him and Catherine. She’s got a ring.”

“Huh.”

Mack snuggled up to her big brother. “Remember when you and Chris used to watch horror movies, and I’d get up to watch them with you guys because mom wouldn’t let me? And you guys knew I was there, hiding, but you never ratted me out. And afterward you’d let me sleep on the movie room floor with you guys because I’d get scared otherwise.”

Jensen nodded. “That seems like forever ago.”

Mack shrugged. “I miss that. At least I could pretend we were still a family then.”

“We are a family, Mack,” Jensen insisted. “Just a little different from other families.”

“A lot different. You stayed at Jared’s for dinner, didn’t you.” Jensen nodded. “Was it nice? Having dinner as an actual family?”

Jensen smiled into Mack’s hair. “Would have been better if my little sister was there.”

Mack yawned. “Your cheesy-ness is making me sleepy.”

“You’re a little kid. You should be in bed soon anyway.”

“Geez, thanks mom.”

Jensen scooped up Mack and put her on her bed. “Go to sleep, little girl.”

“Go get your man, Jenny.”

“Don’t call me that,” Jensen grumbled. When he looked back at his sister, she was already asleep.

******

Jared felt relatively ill. At school tomorrow, there were a hundred things that could go wrong. Jensen could be so freaked out by the situation Jared had put him in that Jensen would ignore Jared all together. Or he could not show up to tutoring. Or Jensen could tell Chris and Chris and all his friends could laugh at him. Jared was supposed to be the smart one!

Jared snorted. Everything he knew came out of a book. He wasn’t creative or street smart or intuitive. He could memorize facts easily but really, what good would that do in the real world? He wasn’t charming or a people person. Spitting out calculus formulas would get him nowhere once he graduated college. He already felt like the knowledge he’d built up, the facts he’d once been so proud of, were useless. All he wanted was Jensen. He wanted Jensen to kiss him like he kissed Danneel. He wanted to hold him and smile at him and love him. He wanted Jensen so badly it hurt.

God, there was no one in the fucking world that he felt comfortable telling this to. Except maybe… Jared picked up his phone and dialed a number. It rang twice before a familiar voice answered. “Hello?”

“Hi,” Jared said. “You said to call you sometime and I figured this was a good a time as any…”

Gen laughed. “It’s 9:00, Padalecki. Not exactly the greatest time to be asking a girl out on a date.”

“Gen,” Jared whined. “This is serious.”

“Okay, okay. What do you need, pretty boy?”

“Serious psychological help.”

Jared practically heard Gen rolling her eyes. “You’re too far gone. But I can come over and you can cry on my shoulder if that would help.”

“Oh god, would you? That’d be amazing. I’ll give you my address,” Jared offered.

Jared was confused heard Gen laugh. “Don’t need it, gorgeous. Jensen gave it to me.”

“Jensen gave it—what?”

“Guess your abs might have gotten the quarterback’s attention after all.” 

 

Gen shows up so quickly Jared doubted she obeyed the speed limit. She pranced in the doorway announcing she was here with a loud, “Hello, gorgeous, your savior is here!”

Jared was starting to regret it until he saw the soft, sympathetic look in her eyes. “Gen,” Jared said. “I don’t…”

He couldn’t finish his sentence and Gen enveloped him in a hug. “It’s okay, honey, I’m here.”

Jared grins. “Wanna go upstairs?”

Gen sighs. “If you weren’t gay I’d be so turned on right now.”

“It’s disappointing that you’re not already,” Jared teased weakly.

Gen throws back her head and laughs. “Keep making jokes and I might be, Padalecki. Now why’d you call me?”

“I’m having a crisis. And I needed to freak out.”

“You couldn’t freak out alone?”

“I couldn’t—you could leave, if you—I mean, I won’t make you stay,” Jared stammers. He stops when he realizes Gen is laughing.

“Relax, pretty boy,” Gen reassures. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ll stay all night if necessary.”

Jared lets out a sigh of relief. “You’re amazing, did you know that?”

Gen smiles smugly. “I am well aware of how awesome I am.”

“And humble, too.”

Gen punches him. “Come on, I thought you were having a crisis.”

“I don’t know how to handle these things. My life was fairly straightforward until stupid Jensen.”

Gen sympathetically purses her lips. “Well,” She says. “No boy crisis is complete without Ben and Jerry’s.” She holds up a bag. “Let’s go stuff our faces with ice cream and figure out how to handle the fact that you’re crushing on Jensen.”

Jared took a shaky breath. “Would you believe me if I said I was falling in love with him?”

Gen pulled back slightly. “Not for a second, Jare.” Jared’s brows furrowed and Gen went on. “I think you’re already in love, baby.”

*******

Jensen considered not going to school. He thought about calling Chris and taking a day for himself. But Mackenzie dragged him out of bed—literally—when she realized his intentions. “Come on, lazy ass. Man up and face the music.”

“Fuck the music,” Jensen moaned. “I’d rather sleep for like, a year. Maybe Danneel would break up with me on her own and I wouldn’t even have to attempt to wander towards dangerous territory.”

Mack yanked him onto the floor. Shit, when did she get strong? “You are a fucking coward. Danneel doesn’t deserve to be led on.”

“You just want her for yourself,” Jensen mumbled into his carpet. Mack laughed and nudged him with her foot.

“Face the music, Jenny.”

 

Jensen does go to school. It’s a little embarrassing his little sister was the one that convinced him, but Jensen doesn’t have to mention that to anyone. He also doesn’t have to mention that anytime Jensen sees Jared, or even someone that could possibly be Jared, he ducks down a different hallway. When Gen catches him hiding behind lockers, Jensen sighs and prepares for a lecture.

“Who’re you hiding from?”

“Would you believe me if I said my calc teacher?” Jensen tries.

“You’re both pathetic,” Gen muttered. “Go to class, Jen.”

 

History is bound to be hell. He’s gotta avoid staring at Jared, act normal about Danneel, and pretend to care about what Edlund’s saying.

He’s going to die.

Jensen walks into the room on shaky feet. Danneel catches his eye and raises an eyebrow. If he looks as nervous as he feels, there’s going to be some serious issues. He dares a look to Jared and finds that he’s staring intently at the desk, like there’s a hided message in the gray surface. This oddly irritates Jensen. Jensen shrugs it off and takes his usual seat beside his beautiful girlfriend. The girlfriend he doesn’t love. Fuck, he’s so screwed.

Danneel wraps an arm around him. It’s not sexual, it’s not meant to be seductive. It’s comforting and warm and everything Jensen needs. He leans against her and tries not to fall asleep.

It doesn’t work. Jensen jolts awake to Edlund yelling his name. “What?”

Edlund rolls his eyes. “Sorry the curriculum isn’t interesting enough for you, Mr. Ackles. But if you could manage to stay awake for a few weeks more, that would be great. Especially considering your grades.”

“You don’t have to say that in front of the entire class,” Danneel chastises gently.

Edlund’s eyes swing to Danneel. “Are you criticizing the way I teach my class, Miss Harris?”

“No,” Danneel responds. “I’m criticizing the way you treat my boyfriend. He’s a good guy. And he’s exhausted. Can’t you cut him some slack?”

“No,” Edlund replies simply. “And you both have detention after school.”

Jensen glances at Jared, expecting to see at least a sympathetic glance. There’s nothing. But his phone vibrates and when Jensen opens the text, he wishes he hadn’t.

Guess there’s no tutoring today.  

******

Jared wants to badly to see Jensen. But he’s got detention after school, and after Jared sent that text Jensen pointedly avoided his gaze. Well, shit. So Jared decides to avoid the cafeteria at lunch time. He was not going to wander in and see Jensen and all his friends and have them laugh at Jared for inviting Jensen to dinner like it was a damn date.

So he shuts himself in a stall like a loser and chews on his sandwich. It tastes like cardboard and eventually Jared throws it out. He can’t eat. Not when he knows Jensen is pissed at him. But why is Jensen pissed at him? He really doesn’t have a right to be. Jared stands in front of the mirror and tries to make himself look less like someone who got three hours of sleep and is hopelessly in love with a straight guy.

The door opens and obnoxious laughter fills the bathroom. It echoes across the walls. Fuck. Jared knows that laughter. How many times has it been at his expense? How many times has Jared lay there and heard the cruel laughter mocking him. Jared wants to dart into the stall but Chris has already rounded the corner. His laughing smile turns wicked and Jared backs against the opposite wall. He’s cornered like a helpless animal, Chris and Steve leaning against the stalls and smirking. Jared wants to run.

Chris sighs in satisfaction. “Oh, Jared Padalecki. How badly I’ve wanted to catch you alone. Without your boyfriend to protect you.” He exchanged a look with Steve. “Poor Jared. You’re taller than both of us but you’d never fight back. You’d lie there and let us hit you because you’re a coward.” Chris sneers at him and the last word hits him like a whip because Chris is absolutely right.

Jared shoots a desperate look to Steve. He’s less violent than Chris. Please, please, please.

Nothing. Steve’s eyes are impassive. While they’re not filled with venom like Chris’, Jared knows he’s not going to get any help from him. Chris moves closer to Jared and Jared feels more and more terrified. “You’ve taken my best friend from me,” Chris hisses.

Jared shook his head. “No, no I haven’t. He cares about you. He thinks you’re family. He’d never think of me like that.” Jared’s voice falters and Chris’ smirk grows.

“Aw, Jare. Too bad he doesn’t feel the way about me he feels about you. You’re jealous of me.” Jared’s eyes glance at the ground and Jared knows, he knows, that’s the exact moment the realization hits Chris. “Oh, no. You’re serious? Ha!” Chris’ tone is so evil Jared wants to cry. “You’re not jealous of me, are you? You’re jealous of Danni. You’re fucking in love with him!”

Jared’s shaking. Steve places an arm on Chris’ shoulder. “Chris, ease up.”

Chris shakes him off. “He’s straight, Jare. He’d never love you. Not in a hundred years.” Chris is close enough to punch him. “He’d never love a fag like you.” Chris places his forearm against Jared’s neck. There’s barely any pressure, but it’s a threat nonetheless.

Suddenly, Chris is gone. He’s on the floor, and Jensen is standing above him looking like he could murder him. “You fucking asshole,” Jensen snarls. “You don’t call him that. Don’t you dare.”

Chris actually looks scared for a moment. He schools his features quickly and smirks up at his best friend. “Standing up for your boyfriend, Jenny? The fucking geek, the loser? The fag?” That’s as far as Chris gets before Jensen punches him.

“Jensen!” Steve exclaims. He grabs his friend and pins him against the wall. There’s fury reflected in his green eyes and Chris is massaging his jaw. “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

Jensen isn’t making a move to struggle against Steve. Jared’s heartbeat is beating like he ran a marathon, and it’s the first time Jensen looks up at him. “Jay…”

“Jen, it’s alright,” Jared says. “I’m alright.”

The anger ebbs out of Jensen’s eyes and he sags into Steve. Chris stands up and eyes Jensen warily. “What the hell is up with you?” His voice is gentle, the opposite of what Jared expects from someone who just got punched by his best friend.

Steve releases Jensen and Chris catches him. “I don’t know.” His voice is heavy like he’s trying not to cry. “I don’t fucking know.”

Chris exhales slowly. “S’alright. It’s okay.”

“I’m sorry,” Jensen mumbles.

Chris nods. “It’s okay. I shouldn’t…” Chris ends his sentence and releases his friend. Jensen stables himself. “Come on, let’s take off for the rest of the day,” Chris suggests. “And don’t worry, we’ll get you back in time for your detention.” He grins at Jensen and Jensen punches him.

“You asshole. Meet you in the parking lot.”

Chris chuckles and he and Steve leave the bathroom. Jensen looks up and finally meets Jared’s eyes. “Are you okay?” Jared didn’t know. He’s shaking so hard he thinks his legs are going to give out from underneath him. Jensen comes closer hesitantly and places a hand on Jared’s shoulder. “I got you, Jay.”

Jared lets out a dry sob and collapses into Jensen. He holds on so tight that Jensen is probably suffocating. But Jensen holds on just as tightly. “It’s okay, Jared. It’s okay.” He rubs Jared’s back soothingly. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I never should have let them go out without me. I knew they’d do something like this. I’m so stupid.”

Jared’s breath evens out. “You’re not stupid,” he murmured. “You came and got me. How’d you know?”

Jensen pulls back and shrugs. “I watch a lot of movies.” Jensen smiles like he’s thinking of a fond memory. “And I know Chris. He sort of…” Jensen shakes his head. “Sometimes I look at him and think, what the hell am I doing be friends with him? And sometimes he’s just the best friend I could ask for. Just don’t listen to a thing they said to you in here. Promise?” Jared nodded and Jensen asked, “What did they say to you?” Jared couldn’t open his mouth. “Jared,” Jensen pleaded.

“Theysaidyoudon’tcareaboutafaglikeme,” Jared chokes out.

The anger is back in Jensen’s eyes. “Don’t call yourself that. And don’t listen to them. I care about you a lot. I trust you and like you and you matter to me.”

Jared doesn’t think about it. He just leans in and presses his lips against Jensen’s.

Jensen’s whole body freezes up. He’s like a statue and Jared is about to pull away when Jensen presses into him. Jared is kissing Jensen, and Jensen is kissing him back. They stay like that for a little bit, wrapped up in each other’s arms. Oh god. Oh god. This is happening. This is actually happening. I’m not dreaming. Jared gently places his hands on Jensen’s hips and Jensen presses closer to Jared, so Jared tightens his hands. Jensen gently nips Jared’s lower lip and he moans into the kiss. It’s absolutely perfect.

Until Jensen pulls back.

Chapter Text

Jensen stares wide-eyed at Jared. What the hell did he just do? Jared kissed him but… but I kissed back, Jensen thinks. I kissed back, and I liked it. Jared’s staring at him just as startled, and scared as well.

“Oh my god,” Jensen whispered. “What the hell?”

“Jen-,”

“What—oh my fucking god.”

Jared opens his mouth but Jensen does the only thing that seems sensible.

He bolts.

Jensen hears his feet on the tile floor of the school. The hallways are empty except for a few students milling outside the cafeteria. No one really pays him mind. Jensen almost skids into the lockers more than once, panic coursing through his body. Fear, panic, and was that—lust? Jensen shook his head to try and clear it. It didn’t work as well as it usually did. It didn’t work at all. The pain in Jared’s hazel eyes when Jensen leaped back like he was burned… Over and over again Jensen saw it. It replayed in his mind like a broken horror film, stuck on one gruesome scene. And the press of Jared’s lip. They were soft. Jared was a gentle kisser, careful with Jensen, like he wanted to take care of him.

Like Jared loved him.  

Jensen halts in the middle of the hall. Chris’ taunting. Chris’ jealousy. His cruel words. Danneel trying to push Jared away, clinging to Jensen whenever he came near. Gen’s comfort to Jared.

Oh my god.

Jensen starts running again, sprinting as fast as he could. He wanted to breath so hard he couldn’t think about anything except the pain in his lungs. But the dash away from the bathroom ends too quickly, and Jensen winds up in the parking lot to met Chris and Steve. Chris raised his eyebrow. “Dude, I know I insulted Jared, but you look like you’re going to pass out any second now.”

Jensen knew there was no way in hell he could tell Chris and Steve. So he just said, “I ran all the way here. Give me a break.”

“Can’t wait to get out, huh?”

“Just drive, Chris.” Jensen snapped. “We need to get out of here.”  

The attempts at conversation were weak. No one could string together more than a few sentences on each topic, and the tension was so palpable Jensen felt like he could reach out and grab onto it. They reached a park that they used to go to as kids. “Wow, I haven’t been here in forever,” Jensen commented. “It looks the same.”

“Maybe a little run down,” Steve said, “but really close.”

Jensen still can’t meet Chris’ eyes. He’s not mad, not really, but a long way from forgiving him. There’s no way Jensen can look at Chris in the same way, knowing how vicious his words were. Jensen thought back to Chris in the parking lot. I know I insulted Jared.

Except he didn’t insult Jared. He scared Jared, he terrified Jared. He hurt Jared and spit the words at him with so much venom Jensen was surprised Jared still stood upright. And Chris put his arm against Jared’s neck. It was that simple move, the simple gesture that snapped Jensen. Words are one thing. Actions are another.

Jensen didn’t even realize he was attacking Chris until he was on the bathroom floor, smirking like the bastard he was. Like he was proud of what he’d said to Jared. Jensen stared at the playground where they used to hang out as kids. Memories poured through his mind. He heard laughter and saw kids jumping off swings. He say Danneel’s vivid red hair, Steve’s missing tooth. Tom picking Gen off from where she’d fallen and cut her knee, Chris trading baseball cards with Jensen.

Jensen saw the joy that scattered across their faces and it felt foreign. The entire concept of laughing at Chris’ jokes or making fun of Steve was a memory that faded into Jared shaking against the bathroom wall. Jared kissing him.

He didn’t even realize how angry he’d become until Chris looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Dude, you okay?”

Jensen’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. “Am I okay?” Jensen said in a strangled voice. “Am I okay? I don’t know, Chris. You called my friend a fag, you pinned him against the wall, you mocked him and hurt him. Why don’t you ask that question again, asshole. Think about it, think about whether or not I’m okay.”

Steve’s eyes darted between them. “Guys, relax.”

Steve was always the peacekeeper. Jensen was sick of it. “No, Steve, I will not relax!” He turned to Chris. “You’re my best friend dude. I’ve known you since I could walk. Tell me what the fuck your issue is with Jared! Tell me, now!” Jensen demanded.

Chris was silent and Jensen glowered at him. “I knew it,” Jensen spat. “I knew you couldn’t. Because the real truth is that you’re not angry at Jared. You’re angry at me. But don’t take it out on him.”

“I’m not angry at you!” Chris exclaimed. “How could you think that?”

Jensen barked out a bitter laugh. “You barely look at me. We used to talk for hours without failing, and we can barely stand to mumble out a few words to each other now. You’re pissed to hell at me. But don’t hurt Jared because I’m being an asshole!”

It was Chris’ turn to glare. “Alright, asshole, let me tell you exactly what I think? Can I do that?” Chris didn’t wait for Jensen’s response. “You were my best friend. You trusted me. You never lied, you never questioned me. Not once. And it wasn’t just about football, it was never just about football. It was about having someone on my side all the time. it was about having a confidant. I don’t—I don’t even know who you are anymore! You turn up at school, moping because all of a sudden you have these crazy fantasies that we’re all going to hold hangs and sing Kumbaya. Well wake up, Jensen. It’s not like that. And it’s not about the social status of your boyfriend, or tutor, or friend or whatever the fuck he is. It’s that after a week of hanging out with him, you trust him more than you’ve ever trusted me.”

“Why do you think that is, Chris!” Jensen yelled. “Why do you think I trust him? Why do you think that I’m telling my secrets to one person, and not the other? Come on, Chris, you’re asking me questions you could very well answer yourself.” 

Chris looked blankly at him. “You don’t trust me.”

It’s not worth lying. “No, Chris,” Jensen admitted. “I don’t.”

Steve fell to his knees. “The world’s fucking falling apart. When best friends don’t trust each other. When the people you love, and that love you, aren’t trustworthy—that’s when you know something is dramatically wrong.”

“He loves you,” Chris said slowly. “He’s in love with you.”

“I know,” Jensen told him. “I know it all.”

“So, what, you’re just going to dump Danneel and hook up with him? You’re going to abandon us to act in a world where you’re actually smart? Because news flash, Jensen, that ship has sailed.”

Jensen’s blood was boiling. “You’re my best friend. If you don’t believe in me, who will?”

“You’re my best friend,” Chris retorted. “If you don’t trust me, what am I supposed to do?”

God, Jensen didn’t know. Jensen didn’t know a damn thing anymore. “You hurt Jared.”

“It always comes back to him, doesn’t it?” Chris snarled. “Tell you what? Why don’t I drive you back to school and you can fuck his ass in the bathr—,”

Jensen tackled him to the ground. He wasn’t sure what he was trying to do. He didn’t really want to hurt Chris, despite what he’d said. But shit, Chris was well adjusted to being tackled—and tackling others. They wrestled on the ground before two hands were yanking them off each other.

Steve’s voice was strangely mellow. “So here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to sit here until you two work out your issues. I don’t care if we stay here all night. We’re not budging until you hug it out and move on with your fucking lives.”

Chris glared at him. “S’ my car.”

Steve dangled the keys in his face. “Then keep better track of these, motherfucker.”

“I’ll walk,” Jensen said honestly.

“Then I’ll haul your ass back here.” Steve glared at Chris when he opened his mouth. “You too. Now talk.”

“We did,” Jensen pointed out.

“You yelled your issues at each other loud enough for the whole town to hear. Now we’re going to talk, quietly, and find solutions.”

“God, Steve, you suck,” Chris whined. “Oh, wait, I forgot, that’s Jared isn’t it?”

Jensen growled and tried to pull himself out of Chris’ grasp. “I’ll kick your ass, fucker.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Chris shot back.

Steve sighed. “We’re going to be here forever.”

Jensen and Chris glared at each other before Jensen sighed. “Fine. Let’s get this over with. Where do we start?”

Chris stopped fighting Steve. “Why don’t you trust me?”

Jensen played with the woodchips on the ground. “You laugh every time I get serious. You call me a bitch if I want to talk about something other than football or action movies. You tell the others what I’m thinking, what I’m dealing with. You think it’s easy for me to tell you? And then you go and make it into a joke-,” Jensen’s voice cracked. “It’s easier to pretend everything’s okay. To play make-believe and lie to everyone instead of having them laugh at me.”

Chris was quiet for a long time, just staring at Jensen. Finally he said, “I make you feel like that?”

Jensen shrugged. “It used to be all about action figures are baseball cards. Now it’s so complex. I feel like I’m choking on all the lies, and I know you feel it too.”

Chris crossed his legs. “I feel it. And I hate the way things are between us. I never take things seriously, you’re right. But how can I? It’s programmed in me to make jokes out of everything. It’s douchey, I  know, but it’s just me. You always acted like everything was okay. Why did you wait until the last few weeks of high school to tell me you were hurting?”

“Isn’t it a best friend’s job to just know?” Jensen pointed out. He didn’t mention that Jared always picked up on it; it would only make Chris angry. “I didn’t tell you. I was scared. And I’m telling you now, and the first thing we do is go at each other’s throats.”

Chris smiled weakly. “Guess we haven’t been very smart about it.”

Jensen couldn’t return his smile. “How could you say that to Jared?”

Chris’ smile dropped. “I shouldn’t have. God, Jensen, even as I said them I felt horrible. He didn’t even fight back. He didn’t come after me. He just stood there, shaking, and I felt like I was kicking a puppy. But I just couldn’t stop saying them.”

Jensen swallowed, trying to push down the feelings of regret and anger than filled his mouth. He knew the look on Jared’s face. He’d seen it when Chris had him pinned. He’d felt his shaking when Jared clung to him for dear life. “I know all these things, Chris. I was there.”

Chris nodded. “I wish I wasn’t. I wish I could forget it all. I wish I could apologize.”

“Why can’t you?” Jensen cried. “He’s so sweet, he’d forgive you! He shouldn’t, god knows he shouldn’t, but he’s so goddamn wonderful that he would.”

Chris and Steve exchanged a glance before looking at Jensen. “Jen…” Steve said. “Do you—do you have feelings for Jared?”

“No! Of course not!” Jensen protested. “He’s just a friend!”

“You said the same thing about Danneel for about a month before you asked her out. And you were blushing, just like you are now,” Chris countered. Jensen stared off into space and Chris continued in a soothing tone. “We’re not going to think less of you if you like guys.”

“But you would think less of me if I liked Jared,” Jensen snapped. “You spent a good ten minutes spitting insults at the guy. You just yelled at me about how much of an idiot I am just for wanting to hang out with him.”

Chris bit his lip. “I don’t suppose saying I’m sorry would really come close to helping.”

“No,” Jensen replied. “It wouldn’t.” His eyes flicked to Steve. “Steve, what you’re trying to do here is admirable. But we need time, not words. Just give us some space.”

Chris looked like he was going to protest, but Steve nodded in agreement. He tossed the keys to Chris. “Let’s go back to school, Kane.”

Chris jumped to his feet and didn’t meet Jensen’s eyes as they got back in the car. Jensen took one last look at the playground, wishing they still lived in the days where the thing that hurt the most was a scraped knee.

********** 

Jared, for the first time in his school career, skipped class. He didn’t feel like going to fifth period with blotchy eyes and wobbly knees, so he’d hidden in a stall and allowed himself to cry. His tears fell as silently as possible, but he knew as soon as he got home he’d sob so loud his neighbors would call in noise complaints.

He’d ruined everything. His one shot with Jensen was over. Jared had even become friends with him. They’d bonded or whatever, and after Jared kissed him Jensen fled the bathroom like it was burning. And the worst part was the little flare of hope that filled Jared’s body when Jensen kissed him back. Because no matter what anyone else said, Jared felt Jensen’s body press into his and his teeth nip his lip. He’d felt Jensen’s hands twist in his shirt.

Jensen had kissed him back, and then left Jared standing alone to wallow. He couldn’t explain himself to Jensen. Jared couldn’t even explain his actions to himself. But for one glorious minute, Jared had been kissing the guy he loved. And that guy most certainly knew how Jared felt about him now. If Jensen hadn’t figured it out, Chris had definitely told him.

It wasn’t the first moment in high school Jared felt like his life was over. But it was the first moment Jared felt like he wanted it to be over. Hot tears slid down his cheeks. Jared was angry and sad and pathetic. And by the end of the day the whole school would know. Jensen would tell Chris about the kiss and Chris would spread it everywhere. Everyone would know about Jared Padalecki’s infatuation with the quarterback and the stupid kiss in the bathroom that Jared thought meant something.    

Jared mustered up the energy to go to sixth period. He wanted to sit in the back and be ignored for all purposes, but that’s where they sat. Jensen’s friends. Though Steve was in this class and Jared scanned the whole classroom without sight of him. Guess Jensen and his friends really did just pick up and ditch school.

It was perpetually confusing. One minute Danneel and Jensen are completely in love. The next moment, they’re fighting. Jensen is punching Chris in the face one second, and then hanging off him like he’s the greatest guy in the world. Jared knew things were complicated with Jensen, but he just forgave and looked for love in everyone.

Jared immediately felt like a dick. Of course Jensen went looking for love in his friends and his girlfriend. It’s not like he was getting showered with family time at home like Jared was. Jensen just didn’t want to be alone every single fucking place he went.

But still. Did he have to forgive Chris so quickly? It’s not like Jensen doesn’t have other friends. Jensen has Jared, for one thing.

Or had Jared. Jared fantastically fucked that up when he kissed a taken, straight guy on the lips with absolute no warning or purpose.

Whatever. It was a really good kiss.

Jared tries really hard not to pull out his phone and text Jensen. But the stupid metal thing is burning a hole in his pocket, screaming at Jared to text Jensen and tell him that he’s sorry, that it was a gratitude-filled mistake and a one time thing. Unless Jensen wanted it to be more than a one time thing, in which case something could be arranged.

Though judging on how fast Jensen sprinted out of the bathroom Jared doubted he wanted it to happen again. Maybe he’d text Jensen like it never happened, or play it off as a joke. Or Jared would tell him that he tripped… at the perfect angle to press his mouth on Jensen’s, and his hands on Jensen’s hips.

God fucking dammit.

But Jared couldn’t just ignore Jensen forever, as much as Jensen might want to ignore him. So as discretely as possible for someone sitting two rows away from the teacher Jared pulls out his phone and tries to compose a quick text. Thank god for autocorrect.

Jen, we need to talk.

No response. That’s to be expected. Ugh, and the word choice of his text absolutely sucked. Can we tutor after detention?

Oh, wait, Jensen has football. Maybe not after detention, Jared corrects. What are you doing tonight?

Well, now it sounds like he’s asking Jensen out. Eventually Jared goes for desperate. Please text me back.

Not a single one of his texts receives a response. Eventually his phone vibrates and Jared jumps on it so quickly he doesn’t even feel the pain of the cut he received from the edge of the desk. It’s not from Jensen. It’s from Genevieve.

What the hell did you do?

*******

Jensen feels his phone buzz in his pocket all the way home. He didn’t have to look at the screen to know who they’re from. After the third text Jensen pulls out his phone and chucks it in his backpack without looking at it.

The ride back to school is worse than the ride to the park. At least on the way there they could pretend things were okay. Now it’s so blatantly obvious things are not okay that even trying to make conversation would lead to a fight. Chris’ eyes are focused on the road and Steve is slumped against the passenger side window, looking more dejected than a kid whose ice cream fell off the cone. Jensen doesn’t blame Steve. His two best friends are sentences away from committing homicide.

Jensen doesn’t know where to look. He settles for staring out the window, but even that causes problems because for whatever reason, each little thing they pass reminds Jensen of some childhood memory with his best friends.

When they were happy.

He almost wants to text Gen, but she’d go straight to Jared with any information. Tom… well, he was about as big of a fan as Jared as Chris was. So Jensen decides to text no one, and sulk in his misery alone.

The three of them arrive back at their high school in time for seventh period, but Jensen doesn’t have to ask to know that none of them are going. They don’t even stay together. Chris wanders toward the music room, Steve aimlessly walks down the math hall, and Jensen—well, Jensen goes to the courtyard.

He takes on his songbook. He’d jokingly told Jared it was like a diary to him. It wasn’t a lie, not really. When things became too hard, Jensen would write songs about the way he felt. Sometimes they didn’t make any sense and were unfinished and some of them were flat out bad. It didn’t matter to Jensen, it wasn’t like anyone actually read the songs. Even Jensen would leave the notebook abandoned for days. And it was days like this, when Jensen needed an outlet so bad it was like words were screaming and pushing at his skull to escape, that Jensen could actually write something worth singing.

Alone.

In his room.

But whatever, singing was singing. It wasn’t about the number of people that heard his music, it was about the way it made Jensen feel. And what was he feeling right now? Anger. Sadness. A strange tingling that could possibly be lust. Longing. God, Jensen missed Jared. When Jensen ran out of the bathroom it felt less like he was leaving him for the day and more like he was saying goodbye.

Jensen didn’t mean to say goodbye. He didn’t mean to fuck up their friendship. And he didn’t mean to start thinking in cheesy clichés, but somewhere along the way it became easier to think in clichés than with actual logic.

Probably along the time that Jensen started lusting after his male tutor. Because if anything was illogical, it was that.

Except it was the thing that Jensen found inspiration in. The black ink that stained the pages with words all flowed from thinking of Jared, of his sweet hazel eyes and his dimples and his smile and the way he touched Jensen gentler than he’d ever been touched.

Jensen didn’t even realize he’d reached the bottom of the page until the pen scratched his thigh. Jensen swore quietly and started to write on a fresh page, actually amazed that the lyrics were starting to make sense. It wasn’t a totally horrible song, and it was massaging the pressure right off Jensen’s shoulders.

There really was nothing more cathartic than songwriting for Jensen.

The courtyard was void of people. Jensen and Chris had often made fun of what the school wanted to pass off as a courtyard, since it was mostly a stone patio with wilting trees and some brown grass. There was the occasional green shrub surrounding a little pond too muddy to even look like water anymore. But it was serene, and not many people came out here because of the appearance.

When Jensen was alone he’d talk aloud to the courtyard. He’s pretty sure it made him crazy, but Jensen liked it. He told the birds that fluttered around and the flowers that struggled to bloom that they were beautiful, and that if others couldn’t appreciate it then it was their fault. Jensen loved it and always felt guilty about mocking it with his friends. So in the afternoons he’d make sure to apologize to the courtyard for making fun of it. It really was kind of pretty, but in a less obvious way. People just had to give it time, try and look past the brown grass and dead flowers on the outside and see the beauty of life and tranquility of the way the birds sung to each other. It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Wow, Jensen needed to get away from clichés.

****** 

Jared ignored Gen’s text and stumbles through seventh period blindly. He blinks rapidly and tries to get rid of the feeling of a too-bright light in his eyes and black spots clouding his vision. He feels nauseous. When the bell signaling the end of school finals screeches through the hallways, students are filing out the door in droves. They’d been watching the clock. They knew how close to freedom they were, and now they were going to enjoy their Tuesday afternoon.

Jared fumbles with his books and trips out of the classroom five minutes later than everyone else. He passes the history hall and takes one cautious glance down the hallway. A few students are stilling chatting and pulling things out of their lockers but a certain boy remains absent. A flash of red hair entering a classroom tells Jared at least Danneel will be present for detention. Jared waits a few moments longer and is about to turn and walk away when a boy with spiked, dark blonde hair and a slouched stance yanks hard on Edlund’s door. For a second Jensen’s eyes flick up and meet Jared’s. His hand freezes on the door handle and Jared can understand then and there what people mean when they say time stops. The people moving around them are blurs of color and might as well not even be there at all. Jared’s head is filled with green eyes, the color so vivid Jared can make it out from the other end of the hallway. He wishes he could read the emotion in them as well. The world slows down until it comes to a complete pause, and the only thing that’s going through Jared’s mind is Jensen, Jensen, Jensen and please, I want, I’m sorry.

They hold contact for a little bit, longer than Jared expected at least. Jensen’s eyes widen, then narrow, and then the door swings shut with Jensen firmly behind it. With Danneel.

And a cranky history teacher, but who’s counting him?

******

Jensen’s heart skipped a beat when he met Jared’s eyes. They’d actually held onto each other’s vision for a little bit, until Jensen darted into the classroom like the coward he was. Jensen wondered if Jared stood at the end of the hallway and watched the door closed. He wondered if Jared would wait by his car and tell Jensen to have fun at football like he always did at the end of tutoring. He wondered if Jared maybe ran off as quickly as Jensen did once they broke eye contact.

But Jensen wouldn’t ever know any of these things, because Jensen is a coward and shut the door on Jared before any real answers could be found.

Danneel is sitting uncomfortably in the next in the very front in the very center of the room. Jensen’s only thought is that Jared sits there normally. He doesn’t even notice how pretty Danni looks with the sun that’s streamed through cracks in the blinds running through her hair.  

Edlund gestures to the chair beside Danneel. “Have a seat, Mr. Ackles. The disdain in his voice is so vivid that Jensen wants to turn and run. But Jensen only sits obediently and doesn’t meet Danni’s questioning glance. Edlund claps his hands. “Good! Now you can be punished for your insolence and help me get through some schoolwork at the same time!”

Jensen wanted to punch the smirk off his stupid history teacher’s face. He wants to punch Edlund out the window when he drops a stack of papers that towers comically above them on their desk. “Sort, alphabetically. We’ll work from there.” Jensen and Danneel look at Edlund hopelessly and his smirk grows. “Get to it.”

“Fucking slave labor,” Jensen mutters under his breath. Danni nudges him in agreement.

“No talking,” Edlund snapped. He was doing something on his desk, not pausing to glance at his captive students.

Jensen wasn’t sure if he was grateful or irritated with the no talking rule. It put off sorting things out with Danneel, which has good and bad aspects. And horrible aspects, but Jensen ignores those. Instead he focused on alphabetically placing folders together, figuring out if P comes after O or before. His eyes glaze over and soon he’s robotically placing folders on top of each other and thinking about Jared.

He thinks about their kiss. It wasn’t the heated kind of passion that sends you reeling, but it was passionate. It felt like Jared meant the kiss to be something more than, hey, thanks for pulling your best friend off me and punching me in the face. Jensen had already figured out, thanks to his overactive imagination and Chris poking his nose into places where it didn’t belong, that Jared was in love with him. Now Jensen just had to figure out if Jensen was in love with Jared.

I could be, Jensen thought. I spend a lot of time around him. And I think about him a lot. And Mack thinks I am. Jensen snorted. Mack was fourteen, what could she possibly know about love?

Apparently a lot more than Jensen, since she’d hit the nail on the head with every comment she made last night.

Stupid little sisters and their intuition.

Jensen groaned in frustration and Edlund glared at him. Jensen retreated to his stack of papers and haphazardly stacked McCoy under Manners. C comes after A, right? Yeah, it does.

Jensen passed the time imagining it was Jared beside him. Jensen would roll his eyes and groan at Edlund’s request, and Jared would shoot him a be quiet look. But there would be amusement in his eyes, like Jared was trying not to smile at him. Whenever Jensen got close to nodding off or would drop a folder too aggressively, Jared would nudge him and smile encouragingly at him. And Jensen would continue to work because he loved seeing the bright smile on Jared’s face when Jensen accomplished something.

So Jensen might be a little bit in love with Jared.

Jensen glanced at the clock. Detention with Edlund was remarkably like history with Edlund; time moved slower and Jensen wanted to poke his eyes out with Danneel’s shiny earrings. Okay, too graphic. He wasn’t Oedipus. Jensen’s folders were messily stacked and probably not alphabetical, as opposed to Danneel’s perfectly straight and probably perfect ordered folders. Danneel was perfect. So why didn’t Jensen love her?

Eventually Edlund said, “Okay. You’re done. Get out of my classroom.”

Jensen tripped over his own feet in desperation to escape. Danneel caught his arm before he could run off to football practice. “We need to talk.”

Okay, no chickening out now. “Yeah,” Jensen agreed. “We do.”

“Can we go for a walk?”

Jensen nodded and the two of them wandered down the hall in an uncomfortable silence. They reached the doors of the school and Danni sighed. “You’re unhappy.”

“Unhappy? I’m not-,”

“Yes, you are,” Danneel insisted. “You never look at me, you hardly talk to me, and the only time I’ve seen you smile is when you’re with Jared. What is he giving you that I’m not?”

Good question. What is he giving me that Danni’s not? “I’m just confused.”

“Like, sexually confused? ‘I might be gay’ confused?” Danneel asked. “Or ‘trying to sort things out with my grades confused’?”

“Uh…” Jensen didn’t know what to say without making Danni want to punch him. “I think both. Like, I was confused about my grades and now I could possibly be having a gay crisis.”

Danneel nodded slowly. She raised her hand and Jensen winced, expecting her to slap him. But Danneel only touched his shoulder. “Do you… do you love him?”

Jensen froze. “I have no idea.”

“That’s why you’ve been acting weird around me,” Danneel said. “You don’t love me.”

“No-I do, I really do. Just… I mean, you’re my best friend. And I feel like we got pushed into this. We don’t really feel anything for each other.”

Danneel pondered it. “You’re breaking up with me, aren’t you.” It’s not a question.

Jensen bit his lip. “I’m so sorry, sweetheart.”

Danneel nods. Jensen makes to hug her but she backs away. “I need time,” Danneel explains. “It’s sort of… I mean, I thought we were—never mind. Bye, Jensen.”

She turned and left him standing in the entryway. His call of, “Bye!” was too late for Danneel to hear.

Jensen thought he’d be relieved when his relationship with Danneel was over. But it felt like he’d screwed everything up. Like the world collapsed on him and buried Jensen in a pile of rubble.

 

The walk to the locker room stretched on forever. The walk to the field felt even longer. There was no Jared to smile at him and tell him to have fun, and he hadn’t done any of his homework. And tonight he’d have to do it without Jared, which meant he probably meant he wouldn’t do it at all. And on top of all that, he was dealing with the fact that it was entirely possible that he was in love with Jared.

God fucking dammit.

Once he was on the field, Coach Kosterman got to yelling at him for getting detention and being late to practice. He was only five minutes late but according to Kosterman that was five minutes too many. “You’re the leader, Jensen! I need you here, on time. I need you here early. And I don’t need you getting detention!”

“I know,” Jensen replied. He suddenly felt very dizzy. “I was just tired, and stressed, and…”

That was the last thing Jensen remembered before his knees gave out and the world went black.

******

Jared sat at home staring at his textbooks without really seeing them. He stayed that way from 3:00-4:30, Jensen’s usual tutoring hours. Somehow doing his homework without Jensen’s snarky comments and his wicked sense of humor was just… wrong. It didn’t work. Jared couldn’t focus unless he knew Jensen was lying on the bed or curled up on the ground, complaining and grinning up at Jared whenever he finished an assignment.

The words became blurry and Jared realized that tears had filled his eyes. Dammit. He wasn’t supposed to cry. Don’t cry. Don’t you dare cry. It didn’t work. One tear fell from his eye, and then another, and then Jared was clinging to his pillow and trying to muffle sobs.

Apparently it didn’t work, because Megan stormed in. “Why are you making all the noise—oh, Jare.” Megan flopped on the bed beside him and curled around the other pillow. “You wanna talk?”

“D-don’t th-think I can,” Jared stuttered. “Just—ugh!” He buried his face in his pillow and more sobs came out.

Megan rubbed his back and Jared was reminded of Jensen’s strong hand. Oh god, that was the wrong thing to think of. The tears fell harder and Jared’s lungs were heaving with sobs so loud it felt like there was no air.

“Am I interrupting something?” A soft voice said from the doorway.

Jared turned to see Gen. He must have been a mess, with tear streaked cheeks and damp hair that had fallen into his face. But  Gen looked on with sympathy and sat on the bed beside him. “S’okay, honey,” Gen said soothingly. “We can work this out.” She put her arms around him and Jared sobbed into her shoulder. Gen didn’t even mind that he was soaking her shirt and neck. She just held him while he cried and whispered soothing things into his ears.

When the last sobs shook from his body, Jared lifted his head. He didn’t even notice Megan had left. “Gen,” Jared whimpered.

“I talked to Chris,” Gen said. “Well, I punched Chris and then made him tell me what happened. Said he called you a—well, he said some things he shouldn’t have. And then Jensen pulled him off you and punched him.” Gen pushed Jared’s hair out of his face. “Chris is a dick. Don’t listen to him.”

“I kissed him,” Jared choked out. “I kissed Jensen.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed. “Oh.”

“What’d he do?” Gen asked.

“He ran away. Well, he kissed back at first, and then he pulled away and ran out like the building was on fire.”

Gen glared, but Jared could tell her anger wasn’t directed at him. “I’m gonna kick his fucking ass.”

Jared shook his head. “I shouldn’t have kissed him.”

“And he shouldn’t have run out on you!” Gen cried. “That jackass, I’m going to punch him so hard he sees stars! And—oh my god, I can’t believe he did that to you! Here I was thinking… never mind.” Gen wrapped Jared in another hug, void of her usual sarcasm. “I’m here for you, baby. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay.”

Jared thought things were pretty damn far from okay, but he was still grateful for Gen’s help. “Yeah,” Jared lied. “It’ll all be okay.”

Gen’s phone went off and she looked confused at the caller ID. “Hello?” Someone said something and Gen’s face paled. “Oh my god. Is he okay?” There was a pause, and relief flooded her face. “Oh good. Okay. Thanks.” She hung up and turned to Jared. “Jensen fainted.”

******** 

Jensen woke up to Mack hovering above him nervously. When his eyes fluttered open Mack breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh good. I thought you were never going to wake up.”

Jensen tried to smile at his sister but his body didn’t want to cooperate with his brain. “Mack…”

“You fainted, Jen. At football practice.”

“Why?”

Mack shrugged. “All I know was that you passed out, and Chris drove you home. Your coach got into a shouting match with your history teacher about your health and whatever. Your team says to feel better, by the way.”

Jensen sighed in exhaustion. “Tired, Mack.”

Mackenzie sat on the bed beside him. “Yeah, I bet. Sometimes that happens after you faint. Your coach said you’d be a little disorientated afterwards.”  

“So, did I really break up with Danni or is that just a horrible nightmare?”

“You broke up with Danneel?” Mack exclaimed, jumping up. “I guess that’s why she’s not here.”

Jensen winced. “Guess it was real.”

Mack frowned sympathetically. “Sorry, Jen.”

Jensen shrugged. “It was bound to happen sometime, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t mean it feels good,” Mack countered. “Are you okay?”

Jensen was about to say yes, but the word fades on his tongue. “I don’t know. I mean no. No, I’m not okay.”

“Is there anything I can do?”

Jensen shook his head. “Unless you can go back in time and make it so I never get tutored by Jared Padalecki, I don’t think there’s anything anyone can do.”

“Well there is something someone could do…” Mackenzie said hesitantly. Jensen looked at her, puzzled, and Mackenzie elaborated. “Jared, dumbass. You could talk to him.”

“Are you joking? No way. Not after—no, Mack. The answer is no.”

“Why are you such a coward?” Mackenzie cried. “I look up to you! You’re my big brother! You were the one that I looked up to, never Josh. Because you never stopped believing in us like he did. But you know what? You’re a coward just like him. He ran away from his problems, and now you’re running away from yours.”

Jensen didn’t respond. She was right. But his silence seemed answer enough for Mackenzie, and she stormed out of his room.

Wow. He’d managed to piss off every single person that cared about him in a matter of hours. That took real talent.

Jensen sank into the bed and stared at the ceiling. Maybe the answer was hidden in the plain white paint. After about two minutes of this tedious activity Jensen realize that no, there were no answers hidden deep within the not-so-helpful paint.

A knock on his door startled Jensen and he sat up quickly. A wave of dizziness hit him and he fell back onto his bed. “What?” Jensen snapped.

“Uh, is this a bad time?” A familiar voice asked. It was shy and sweet and filled with something that Jensen could finally identify.

Love.

“Jared,” Jensen breathed. 

Chapter Text

It took one word. It took Jensen saying his name like it was the most amazing thing in the world that caused Jared to fall. He tumbled into his room and collapsed on Jensen’s beside. “Oh, god, Jensen, I thought you were hurt. You scared me.”

“Just fainted,” Jensen mumbled. “No big deal.” Jared didn’t have to look at him to see he was blushing.

“We should talk,” Jared said.

Apparently that was the wrong thing to say. Jensen’s soft tone turned cold. “Can we not, Jared? I’m exhausted. You came to see if I was okay, I’m okay.”

“Jensen, that’s not why I came.”

“Do you want to tutor me then?” Jensen replied harshly. “Want to see firsthand that I can’t fucking do anything without you?”

“No!”

Jensen rolled so he was facing the wall. “Then go.”

“Jensen-,”

“Leave!”

Jared actually stood up and thought seriously about walking away. But he looked back at Jensen. He was curled up on the bed like he was trying to make himself as small as possible, and clutching his pillow tightly to his chest. Gen said being in love Jensen would be an uphill battle. Fine. Jared was willing to fight. “I’m not leaving, Jen.”

“Then what do you want?”

“I want-,” Jared stopped. What did he want? Well obviously he wanted Jensen. He wanted Jensen to love him like he loved Jensen. But that might be a lot to dump on a guy who just passed out. So Jared opted for a slightly less dramatic request. “I want to be your friend. I want things to go back to normal.”

“Well, I want to sleep,” Jensen retorted.

Jared sighed. “Can I wait?” That sounded a lot better in Jared’s head.

“You want to watch me sleep? Not weird at all.” Jensen said sarcastically.

“I’ll do homework downstairs. Or work with Mackenzie on her homework. She’s really nice.”

“God, you’re fucking insistent on staying, aren’t you?” Jensen didn’t sound mad, just resigned.

“Pretty much, yeah.”

Jensen exhaled loudly and Jared tried to stifle the desire to jump up in happiness. “Fine,” Jensen conceded. “Stay. But work with Mack, I’m not letting you watch me sleep. S’ just creepy.”

Jared nodded, then remembered Jensen couldn’t see him. “Okay. Deal.”

He turned to leave but at Jensen’s soft call he turned around. “Jared?”

“Yeah, Jen?”

There was a long pause. “Thanks for coming.”

Jared grinned and was grateful Jensen couldn’t see how ridiculously happy he looked. “Thanks for letting me stay.”

“Whatever. Get the fuck out and let me sleep.”

Jared laughed quietly and shut the door gently. Mack was leaning against the wall and smirking knowingly at him. Jared raised an eyebrow. “Do you make a habit of eavesdropping on your brother?”

Mack shrugged. “Only when he’s got a hot guy over. I’ve gotten sick of Chris and Steve and whoever else he brings home.”

Jared toed the carpet. “Well, you know.”

“I think my brother is dumbing you down,” Mackenzie teased. Jared glared at her and she giggled. “Kidding, jerk.” She grabbed his hand. “Come on, I’ll show you my room.”

Jared followed Mack down the hallway and was surprised at the similarities between Mackenzie and her big brother. The confident stride, the cute smirk, the witty sense of humor.

Mack’s room was different than Jensen’s in about every way possible. It was messy and clothes were scattered everywhere. Pictures of Mack and her friends hung on the wall and papers cluttered her desk. But despite the mess, Jared loved it. His eyes were drawn to the window, where an easel stood and paints rested on the counter beside it. Mack followed his gaze and blushed. “Oh, that’s nothing.”

Jared couldn’t pull his eyes away. It was absolutely breath taking. She’d started to draw a tree and it looked so real it was like a photograph. “It’s amazing, Mack.”

“It’s just a tree. And it’s not even finished.”

Jared pulled his eyes away to look at Mackenzie. “Mack, you’ve got serious talent.” He grinned. “I feel like I walked into a family of artists. Jensen with his guitar, you with your painting.”

Mack returned his smile. “Josh is the odd one out. He was into math and science. Our parents liked it, especially our dad. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard ‘be more like Josh’.” She shrugged. “I’d rather be like Jensen. He’s cooler, and more fun. Except I might have said some things to him I didn’t mean.”

Jared guided Mack to her bed, gently moving a stack of books. “Jensen loves you. When he told me about you, it was like you were the center of his world. He’d do anything for you.”

Mack smiled. “I know. He’s pretty cool like that.”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed. “He’s pretty cool.”

“Are you in love with my brother?” Mack asked bluntly. She didn’t look particularly embarrassed about it either.

“Um,” Jared replied. “You really are upfront aren’t you?” Mack ignored him and waited for an answer. “Okay, fine. Yes. I am possibly a little bit in love with Jensen.”

“He broke up with Danneel,” Mack told him. Jared’s head shot up.

“He what?”

“Danneel and Jensen are over. From what I’ve heard, both from Chris and Jensen, she’s not incredibly pleased with him.” Mack swung her feet back and forth. “They’re still going to Prom together though.”

“Why?” Jared couldn’t help but ask.

Mack kicked the edge of her bed. “Because he’s crazy? Because she’s a manipulative bitch? Because they supposedly feel some amount of obligations to each other? I don’t know. But he’s going to have a miserable time unless they can reconcile and at least be friends.”

“Is that likely?”

Mack shrugged. “Dunno. They were friends once. They could probably be friends again.”

Jared immediately feels disappointed. It’s not a big leap from best friends to lovers, especially when they’ve been down that road before. Mackenzie notices his expression. “Aw, Jare, they’re not going to get back together.”

“How can you know?”

Mack smirked. “Because I know all. And because I know why Jensen broke up with Danneel in the first place.”

Jared’s curiosity peaked. “Why?”

Mackenzie’s smirk grew. “He dumped her for you, dumbass.”

 

 

Jensen can’t sleep. He’s not even really that tired.  He just wants to curl up and die, but an annoying voice in his head that sounds an awful lot like Mackenzie is telling him that death isn’t the solution. He should probably do his homework. He should probably call Jared down and ask him to help Jensen with his homework. Or they could make out or something.

Oh god, did I really just think that?

Jensen groans and clutches the pillow tighter. He wants Jared. Jared somehow has a talent of making Jensen feel better when he feels like shit, which could come in handy in a time like this. Eventually he caves, and hating himself for being so weak, he texts Jared.

Say something to make me feel better.

Um, you look pretty when you faint?

Asshole.

I’m right down the hall, why are you texting? And besides, I thought you were supposed to be sleeping.

Jensen ignores Jared’s chastising. I do what I want, bitch. I just fainted.

Milking it for all it’s got, huh, Ackles.

Fuck you, Jensen shoots back. A few seconds later he adds, in the good way.

Haha. Now go to sleep, princess.

Despite the insults, Jensen actually does feel better. He manages to wrap his blankets around him and feels slightly guilty about not doing his homework before drifting into blissful sleep.

 

When Jensen wakes up, the clock blinking at him tells him it’s 10:00. Fuck, it’s way too late to do his homework. It’s not like Jensen hasn’t stayed up later than 10, but by now Jensen’s motivation has completely evaporated. But the pile of books is staring at him from his desk and Jensen feels obligated to at least look at the stupid papers. Maybe there’s something he can do in a little bit of time.

He picks up a calc sheet and notices that the answers are filled in. And more than that, it looks like Jensen’s hand writing. Sure, it’s a little messier, but it could be mistaken for Jensen’s fairly easily. And it’s not just calc. English, History, Chem—it’s all done and lying on his desk. A sticky note lies next to it and Jensen reads in Jared’s messy scrawl, Feel better Jen. You look like you needed the rest, so I just kinda filled it out. See you at school. Jared. P.S. You look peaceful when you sleep.

Jensen felt like kind of a dick. Or a huge dick. God, Jared was only ever nice to him and Jensen just took him for granted. And now here was all of Jensen’s completed homework. Jensen didn’t want to think about how long it probably took Jared to copy the answers so they looked just like Jensen’s neat writing.

Jensen turned to go to sleep again, hoping his dreams weren’t plagued by guilt, when Mack appeared in the doorway. He jumped back and scraped his ankle on the desk. “Motherfucker,” Jensen muttered.

“Shouldn’t swear in front of your little sister,” Mack sing-songed.

“Do you need something, Mack?” Jensen glanced at the clock. “You should be in bed.”

Mack ignored him. “Jared’s in love with you.”

“I know that,” Jensen said exasperatedly.

“Then do you love him?”

Jensen paused. “No.”

“Are you lying?”

“No.”

Mack rolled her eyes. “Yesterday you came in having a gay crisis. Now you’re denying that you love him?”

“I don’t love him. Could I maybe possibly have feelings for him? Yes, that’s a conceivable idea. But I don’t love him.”

“You should ask him out,” Mack suggested.

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “I just broke up with Danni. Dating sounds as appealing as…” Stabbing my eyes out. No. “I just don’t want to date anyone right now.”

“Why are you going to Prom with Danneel if you guys are broken up?”

“You can go with someone who’s your friend,” Jensen replied. “Especially if you’ve been friends since you were kids.”

Mack glared at him. “You should go with Jared.”

“Dude, I’m not even out to my best friends, what makes you think I’m going to up and take him to Prom?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Mack cried. “I thought we’d gotten past the part where you are too scared of what your friends think of you to be happy!”

“Well, in a few weeks I’ll have graduated, maybe, and then we can discuss being happy.”

“You think Jared’s going to wait for you?”

“It’s a few weeks, Mack!” Jensen exclaimed. “Isn’t that what you do, wait for the person you love?”

“You also make sacrifices! You take risks! You think Jared’s going to wait for you because you’re a coward?”

“I don’t need to sacrifice or risk anything, because I don’t love him! I don’t know how I feel about him, and maybe I just need some time to think! Did that idea ever cross your mind?”

“No,” Mackenzie said firmly, “Because you know how you feel. Maybe it’s not love, Jenny, but you want to be with him. No one, especially your friends, should ever make you feel like you can’t go after what you want.” 

And I want Jared. “I’ve sort of been avoiding  going after what I want for the past four years. Why stop now?”

“Because,” Mack replied. “You’ve given up everything for everyone else. Don’t you think it’s time you were happy?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Well,” Mack said. “Figure it out.”

 

 

Jared felt the exhaustion of today hit him as soon as his head hit the pillow on his bed. Mack had offered to let him stay the night; she noticed how exhausted he was after doing his homework and Jensen’s. Mack teased him for doing his “future boyfriend’s” homework, but Jared wasn’t going to let Jensen break his record of doing his homework just because he’d fainted.

It was a one time thing, Jared promised himself. He wasn’t going to make a habit out of doing Jensen’s homework, whether or not he was in love with Jensen. If Jensen was in love with him as well… well, they’d cross that bridge when they got there.

 

Waking up was miserable. His dreams had been filled with Chris and Danneel laughing at him, telling him that Jensen could never want him. Which really wasn’t that much different than reality. But Jared clung to that tiny bit of hope that Jensen actually did feel something for him. After all, he’d broken up with Danneel, he’d punched Chris in the face, he liked texting Jared… there had to be something there.

Jared snagged piece of toast of Megan’s plate and for once, she didn’t complain. It could have been the bloodshot eyes or the hunched shoulders, Jared didn’t care. He was the picture of misery and if he got a free piece of toast out of it, then he could live with it.

He chewed on the piece of toast all the way to school. It was dry and flavorless and Jared wanted nothing more than to toss it out the window. If he ate another bite he’d probably through up anyways, and that wouldn’t make matters any better. The day would be weird enough without the added disaster of throwing up.

Jared parked and rested his head on the steering wheel. Maybe things would be better if he just hung out in his car all day. Wouldn’t really be an issue to skip one day. He had straight A’s and could probably just float by at this point in the year.

A knock on his door sent Jared’s head flying up and hitting the top of the car. Damn his height. Rubbing his head, he looked out the window and saw Steve looking at him appraisingly. Jared couldn’t help the wave of fear that rolled through him but Steve took a step back and waited for Jared to get out. Fucking hell.

Jared exited cautiously and said, “Um, hi.”

“Um, hi yourself,” Steve replied. “Heard you were in love with Jensen.”

Jared groaned. “Does everyone know? Shit, does Danneel know?”

Steve shrugged. “She probably suspects. I don’t think it’s going to be a very pretty day for you, Jared.”

Jared slumped against his car. “I think I’m going to call in sick.”

“And here I thought Jensen was the coward,” Steve said.

“What?”

“Oh, please. He’s wanted to break up with Danni for weeks. I think about the time you starting tutoring, in fact,” Steve told him. He clapped him on the shoulder when he spotted Chris waiting for him. “Doesn’t take an idiot to put two and two together, Jared. And… stay away from Chris today.” Steve gave him a small smile before jogging off to join his friend.

That was weird. Jared made his way to the front of the school cautiously, well aware of the whispers around him, and the parking lot somehow seemed more crowded that usual. He couldn’t quite make any of them out but the gist of them were most likely that he was the reason Danneel and Jensen broke up. The golden couple had split because of him. Some people were glaring, others were curious, and some were outright beaming at him.

Jared didn’t know what to think.

Inside the school was worse. People were staring shamelessly and the whispers were more loud conversations. Jared was sure some people wanted Jared to hear what they were saying about him. And not all of it was positive.

Somehow he’d gone from being invisible to the focus of attention in one day.

So Jared did what he did best and ducked his head down. He reached his locker without any trouble, but a girl with flaming red hair was leaning against the metal door with an angry smirk on her face. Jared stopped where he was standing and thought about sprinting away and never coming back.

Danneel had seen him though, and gestured for him to come closer with her finger. It was like a magnetic force dragged him to her and before he knew it, Jared was inches away from Jensen’s ex-girlfriend.

“Hi, Jared,” Danneel cooed.

“H-hi,” Jared stammered. “H-how a-are you?”

“How am I?” Danneel repeated in her sickly sweet tone. “Well, my boyfriend dumped me, I’m the laughing stock of the school right now, and some loser is suddenly moving in on Jensen. How do you think I am, Jared?”

It was amazing how much venom Danneel could put into her words even in a whisper. “I’m sorry,” Jared mumbled.

“You’re sorry?” Danneel said. “Okay, good. Well, since you’re sorry I guess things can go back to normal.” She wasn’t even faking sweetness this time.

“Danneel, I didn’t mean—I never would have-,”

“Save it,” Danneel snapped. “Because let me tell you something-,” Her eyes widened as she spotted something over Jared’s shoulder. “Jen?”

Jensen appeared at Jared’s side. God, he was like a fucking ghost. “Danni.”  

“You—Jared—I-,”

“It’s okay, Danni,” Jensen said soothingly. “It’s okay.”

“Are we…?” Danni asked quietly.

Jensen shook his head. “We should go to class.” Danneel swallowed and let him guide her away from Jared.

Jensen didn’t look back.

 

 

First period hadn’t even started yet and Danneel had cornered Jared. If Jensen could stand guard beside Jared all day he would. But it seemed like everywhere he turned there was another one of his friends, tugging him off to class and rambling about something or other. Jensen’s eyes kept looking for Jared and hoping he wasn’t pinned against another wall in the bathroom. The memory made him shiver.

Gen was the first one of his friends he let out a sigh of relief to see. Tom was pulling him towards second period but Jensen managed to whisper to her, “Watch out for Jared, please.” Jensen caught Gen’s nod and then was yanked into his classroom by Tom’s strong hand.

It was going to be a long day.

 

Jensen had decided to avoid eye contact with everyone all day. It became particularly difficult in history. Jensen could sense Jared’s eyes on him, hazel and beautiful and calculating Jensen’s every move. Jared was hurting, it didn’t take an idiot to see that. And Jensen was the cause of that.

I’m a fucking idiot.

Jensen hesitated at the front of the room when he met Danneel’s gaze briefly. Her eyes flicked to the seat beside her and Jensen swallowed. Moment of truth.

Jensen maintained his rule of not making eye contact, but he slid into the seat beside Jared. If their school was a TV show there would be audible gasps and dramatic music. As it was there were a good amount of whispers and someone—probably Danni—kicked a desk leg.  

Jensen couldn’t see Jared’s eyes since he was strictly focused on the board, but he knew they would be wide with astonishment and there would be a small smile on his face that was threatening to burst out across his face.

Jensen also knew Danneel was watching him. Luckily he couldn’t see her expression but Jensen could guess at what she looked like. He silently thanked the world that looks couldn’t kill, because Jensen really didn’t want to be reduced to a pile of ash in history.

Jensen could see out of the corner of his eye that Jared was sneaking glances at him. Hesitant, questioning glances, like Jared wanted permission to touch Jensen, to talk to him. It was painfully adorable. But it was also partly painful. Jared didn’t trust Jensen. Jared didn’t trust Jensen to keep him safe, and honestly Jensen didn’t know how far he could go without physically attaching himself to Jared.

Would Jensen attach himself to Jared if he could? How far was he willing to go protect Jared? Especially without revealing he was having a gay crisis to the whole school. Mack always made it seem like there were two choices—being with Jared and being happy, or being without Jared and being unhappy.

Jensen knew things were much more complex, and he wondered again if he was just creating fear in his head that meant nothing. Maybe his friends would be completely understanding that the quarterback was gay for the guy Chris and Tom had shoved into the lockers for four years.

Jared’s gaze lingered on him for more than a few seconds and Jensen tried not to stiffen. Stay calm. Stay calm. He’s not going to judge you. Even though you’re essentially a piece of shit for letting Danneel corner him. Jared doesn’t hate you. When Jared’s eyes flicked away Jensen dared a side glance at him. If Jared noticed, he didn’t let Jensen catch on. Wow, he was gorgeous. Jensen always thought his mind exaggerated how handsome Jared was. If anything, his imagination understated how beautiful Jared was. Sitting close to him only amplified how tall, how strong, how—Jensen couldn’t say it enough—beautiful. And Jensen knew that underneath all the muscle was a puppy dog unable to hurt a soul.

Jensen’s brain was getting carried away and although it pained him, Jensen’s eyes returned to Edlund. He wasn’t as pretty as Jared, and not even close to as interesting. Jared should be a teacher. He’d be really good at it, and all his students would fall in love with him.

An unexpected pang of jealousy stabbed through Jensen and he tried to focus harder on what Edlund was saying. But heat was radiating of Jared and Jensen realized a blush was creeping up on his cheeks. Jensen heard the little voice in his head again—damn it sounded like Mack. I guess Jared’s hypothetical future students aren’t the only ones in love with him.

 

 

The idea that Jensen was sitting next to him of his own free will had Jared’s hear beating a mile a minute. He couldn’t help sneaking glances at Jensen, checking that he was actually there and it wasn’t some incredibly vivid dream. Jared dreaded the moment that he would wake up and Jensen would be gone, and Jared would see him at school draped over Danneel just like always.

But no matter how many times Jared blinked or pinched himself Jensen stayed right beside him, the epitome of perfection. God, Jensen was so beautiful it was almost unreal. And he was sitting next to Jared. Voluntarily.

The idea was too much to swallow and Jared tried to listen to Edlund and steady his heartbeat. It wasn’t Jared’s fault that his hands were sweating and he was nervous as hell. It was Jensen’s fault for being so damn gorgeous. If Jensen was even a little bit less perfect Jared might have a chance of getting up without his legs shaking like crazy.

It was the first time Jared hadn’t wanted history to end.

 But of course the time flew by and Jared doubted that they’d actually been in class for 50 minutes. But students, including Jensen, were packing up their books and ignoring Edlund while he told them what their homework was. Jared suspected he knew the majority of his students would come in with the homework unfinished.

Jensen was halfway to the door when Jared found his voice. “Jen! Jensen.”

Jensen’s step faltered and Jared knew he heard him. But a falter wasn’t a stop, and Jensen continued out the door like Jared hadn’t said anything at all. It hurt more than any words ever could.

 

Fourth period was a blur. A blur of questions, a blur of notes, and a homework assignment Jared didn’t bother to write down. At that moment he didn’t care if he failed every test for the rest of the year. He just wanted Jensen. And when he sat down at lunch, across from Mike as usual, no words were exchanged between them. That was the beauty of Mike. The two of them may not have been friends-friends, but at least their companionship was there. And Mike knew when to respect Jared’s boundaries and not say “I told you so”.

Mike’s eyes widened and Jared noticed his glance wasn’t on Jared, but something behind him. A tap on Jared’s shoulder made Jared swivel around. He closed his eyes for a moment a prayed that it was Jensen. When he opened them and met Gen’s kind brown eyes instead of piercing green ones, he couldn’t help the disappointment that must have flashed across his face. Gen rolled her eyes. “Nice to see you too, Jay.”

“I am happy to see you. I was just hoping-,”

“Yeah, I know what you were hoping, lover boy. Which is why you’re going to come eat lunch with us today.” She glanced at Mike. “If that’s okay with you.”

Mike’s mouth was hanging open. Jared was pretty sure he’d been in love with Genevieve forever. “Yeah, no, that’s fine. I’ve got a project I have to finish up anyway.”

Gen smiled, satisfied, and tugged on Jared’s collar. “Woah,” Jared protested, “has anyone asked if  I’m okay with being dragged off to a table where the majority of the people there have a death wish on me?”

Gen shrugged. “I’d like you to have lunch with me. And you honestly think anyone at that table is gonna want to fuck with me?” Gen paused while Jared processed it. “I may be short, but I’m not innocent.”

“Yeah, I can hear your ‘I killed a man’ speech later. I really don’t want to go over there.” Jared dug his heels into the ground and refused to let Gen pull him any further.

Gen tried a different approach. “Jensen will be there.”

Jared cursed her for going after his weak spot. “All the more reason to stay here.”  

“They’re not going to hurt you. Chances are they’ll just ignore you.”

Jared sighed. “I’m not going to win this battle, am I?”

“Not a chance in hell, princess. Now let’s go.”

Jared allowed her to pull him the rest of the way to the table. The more it looked like he didn’t want to be there, the easier they would be on him. At least, that’s what Jared hoped.

Gen sat down and squeezed over so Jared could sit on the end. Okay, good. There was no one sitting next to him except for Gen. And across from him… of course. Jensen.

Jared’s heart was beating so fast he thought it might just jump out of his chest. Or up through his throat. He was absolutely terrified. The only small relief was that there didn’t seem to be a table-wide discussion. It seemed like two or three people were engaged in their own conversation, which meant Jared could ignore anyone that wasn’t Gen. Except Jared’s dick seemed to disconnect from Jared’s brain, because it gave a painful twitch every time Jared glanced up to look at Jensen. He wanted to meet his green eyes so badly it physically hurt.

He noticed that Gen was right; no one was paying Jared any mind at all. A little bit of relief seeped into his bones and some of the tension in his shoulders lifted. Jared’s second observation was that Jensen wasn’t talking to anyone. Or eating. He was picking at his food and keeping his head down. It made Jared want to wrap him up in a hug and tell Jensen that he was loved, that he was loved by Jared and his sister and Gen and all of his friends.

But Jared couldn’t do that. His own eyes stared at his try and found that he wasn’t that hungry anymore. Gen nudged Jared’s shoulder and nodded her head in Jensen’s direction. Jared paled and took a bite of what the school was trying to pass off as a grilled cheese. Gen rolled her eyes and kicked Jensen in the shin with her boot. Jensen yelped and his head flew up to glare at her. “Gen!” Jensen exclaimed. “What the hell?”

“Don’t look at me, it was Jared,” Gen defended innocently. She turned to Sophia and struck up a conversation.

Jared went from deathly white to bright red in a moment of seconds when Jensen’s green eyes met his. “I didn’t—it was Gen—I mean-,”

“Jared, relax, I know it was her,” Jensen said soothingly. Jared let out a sigh of relief and his face got redder when Jensen’s eyes lit up with amusement. “Why are you so nervous?”

Jared briefly thought Jensen was insane. “Are you joking? Half the people here would love to see me expelled! Or dead!” Jared hissed.

The amusement in Jensen’s eyes grew. “You have nothing to be worried about.”

Jared was thoroughly confused. Jensen went from ignoring him to defending him as if Jared was his best friend. Jared said as much and a smile crept onto Jensen’s face. “I told you,” Jensen said. “You have a habit of making me smile when I don’t want to. If I choose to sulk, I should do it without worrying you’ll creep up on me and make me happy.”

“I’m so confused.”

Jensen leaned across the table to pat Jared’s shoulder. “You think too much. If I’m being nice to you and Chris isn’t pinning you against the wall you should take advantage of the situation.”

Jared groaned. “I’m a straight A student and for the life of me I can’t figure you out.”

Jensen grinned and leaned back in his chair. “Maybe I don’t want you to figure me out. If you had me all sorted, there’d be no reason to stick around. You’d be too bored.”

“You don’t bore me!” Jared protested.

Jensen smirked. “It’s because you don’t have me figured out. And I promise,” Jensen said, “you never will.” He nibbled on a fry like they hadn’t just had the most confusing conversation of Jared’s life. “Are we still on for tutoring?”

Jared nodded dumbly and turned back to his food. Jensen Ackles sure was an enigma. But Jensen was wrong about one thing. Jared would figure him out and when he did, he’d never leave Jensen’s side. 

Chapter Text

In English, Jensen curled up in a ball in his seat. He didn’t speak to anyone and if Kripke noticed, he didn’t choose to comment on Jensen’s lack of participation. Jensen was drowning in his thoughts, his thoughts about Jared and Danneel and Chris and Tom. When had things become so complicated? It used to be going through motions, laughing at Chris’ crude jokes and kissing Danneel goodbye after school. Throwing the winning touchdown and listening to the crowd cheer for the quarterback.

Before Jared, things had been simpler. Not quite as happy, maybe, and not quite as purposeful, but things weren’t complicated. He didn’t have a gay crisis before Jared. And even if the sun shined a little brighter with Jared around, it wasn’t worth the confusion that came with the happiness Jared brought him.

But it was more happiness than anyone else had brought Jensen in a long, long time.

Jared was also the cause of the existential crisis that Jensen was being subjected to.

But if this is what having an existential crisis felt like, then Jensen didn’t mind it. It felt like for the first time ever, Jensen was thinking for himself. Like it was more than just going through the motions. It was actually kind of nice.

Kripke cleared his throat. “And so we look into the hidden messages of all literature. There are never just words, never just surface meanings of all that the authors tell us. There is an underlying message, there is a method to the madness.”

Someone snorted from the back. “It’s non fiction. There’s no hidden meaning.”

Kripke’s expression of utter calm and serenity didn’t change. “There is a hidden meaning in all things. For instance,” Kripke slid off the desk where he was sitting cross legged. “You’re wearing a Metallica shirt, are you not?”

The boy glanced at his shirt. “Yeah. What of it?”

“Well,” Kripke continued. “You don’t like Metallica.”

“Wha—you don’t—I could!” The boy spluttered indignantly.

“True. You could. But you don’t. That shirt has a tour date on it. And it’s not very recent, is it?”

The boy scoffed. “What of it?”

“Well. The fact that it’s an old tour, a not very worn shirt, and you’ve been zoning out all class, I’d like to think that the hidden message behind the shirt is that you stole it from your father for the sole purpose of impressing a girl. Now, could that possibly be the hidden message?”

The boy was blushing. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

Kripke waved him off. “And the hidden message behind your blush is that you are blatantly lying. But I didn’t come here to discuss your relationship status. This is English class, not Facebook. So kindly understand that yes, The Jungle is nonfiction, but the fact that you are wearing a Metallica shirt is also nonfiction and there is a hidden message to that. Now, can I continue with my lesson?”

The boy nodded, his complexion shifting between various shades of red. Kripke clapped his hands. “Awesome. Now let’s get a move on with hidden meanings and underlying messages. There is so much more in literature than words. It may be crazy English teacher talk, but hear me out…”

Jensen decided to tune Kripke out. His mind wandered elsewhere and though he was frequently chastised for his head being in the clouds, Jensen didn’t quite think it was a bad thing. He let his head drift into the clouds and he let his thoughts take him away. He was tired of focusing and being who people wanted him to be. He was going to be Jensen.

And at the end of the day, Jensen’s head was spinning in so many circles that he believed it would just fall off.

It took Jensen about two seconds to make his decision about tutoring. They were only halfway through the week and he was put through the wringer in every way imaginable. Jensen never thought he would say it, but he couldn’t wait for tutoring.

******* 

Today was not going to make one of Jared’s Top Ten Days of Jared’s life. Every corner he turned around there was one of Jensen’s friends. It didn’t matter if he’d left class to go to the bathroom or was walking around the corner to his next class. Tom was glaring at him against the lockers, Chris was snarling and leaning against the wall, Danneel glowering from the end of the hallway.

Yeah, it wouldn’t make the Top Ten.

Then history was awkward, and lunch was even more awkward, and Jared didn’t think he’d ever been this confused in his life. He always had the answer. Whether it was a formula or a fact, Jared had an answer.

But not to Jensen. Jared prided himself on his ability to solve puzzles but Jensen… Jensen was one puzzle Jared couldn’t even hope to solve. People were usually so basic. They were mean or nice or smart or caring or apathetic. Jensen was all of the above. Well, maybe not mean. He was shy and sweet and scared and hidden.

Jensen was right. He was a puzzle. And there wasn’t a Jensen Ackles formula that he could just plug in emotions for and figure out exactly what to do. Sometimes Jared compared Jensen to Megan. He was moody and confusing and Jared had no idea what to say when he was around him.

Jared just didn’t know what to do.

******  

Jensen beat Jared to his car and leaned against the side of the beat up truck, ignoring the odd gazes he got from passerby. If they wanted to think he and Jared were fucking, let them. It wasn’t like Jensen’s reputation was exactly golden. All he had was his status as quarterback.

Jared’s eyes were focused on the ground as he sulked over to the car. Jensen felt like screaming it at the top of his lungs , that he and Jared were friends and that Jensen could possibly have feelings for him. But it didn’t fucking matter, because nothing should matter, because happiness was more important that people’s opinions.

Jared didn’t look up until he was right next to the car and just about slammed into Jensen. “Hi Jen.”

“Hey, Jay. How are you?”

Jared looked up through sad hazel eyes. “Wasn’t my greatest day.”

Jensen tried to keep his features calm. He wasn’t going to blow up, he wasn’t going to get angry. The last thing Jared needed was more bitterness, even if it wasn’t directed at him. “Well it’s time for tutoring,” Jensen tried. “We’ll have a great time, me bugging you for answers and your never ending patience.”

Jared cracked a smile but Jensen could see the strain. “Sounds good.”

Jensen rubbed the back of his neck. “And… thank you. Thank you so much for doing my homework. I don’t deserve that, and I don’t deserve you. But thank you anyways.”

Jared’s smile was more genuine this time. “I wasn’t going to let you fuck up your perfect homework streak. I’ve gotta look out for you.”

Jensen shook his head with a breathy laugh. “I don’t deserve you,” He repeated.

Jared punched him. “Shut up. Let’s go.”

Jensen was about to get in the car when his phone lit up with a call from Mackenzie. “Hold on.” He answered his phone saying, “Mack? What’s up? Are you okay?”

Mack was talking so fast Jensen couldn’t understand a word. “Mack, slow down.”

Come home!” Mack shrieked. “Now!”

“Oh my god, Mack, are you okay? What’s wrong?”

Nothing! For once, nothing is wrong! Now come home!”

The line went dead and Jensen glanced at Jared. “Uh, Mack is demanding we go to my house. Is that okay?”

“Yeah, sure. I love your sister.”

Jensen snorted. “You can have her.”

Jared laughed and hopped in the car. “Let’s go, Ackles.”

Jensen didn’t know what to expect when he opened the door to his home. If anything, he didn’t expect Mackenzie to tackle him as soon as Jensen opened the door, squealing and throwing her arms around Jensen’s neck.

Jensen wobbled backwards. “Mack, what the hell? What is going on?”

Mackenzie thrust a heavy envelope into Jensen’s hands. “Looklooklooklook!”

“Mack, take a breath little sis.” Jensen took the envelope. It was practically a package and Jensen glanced at the address. “Oh my god.”

Jared leaned over his shoulder. “Who’s it from?”

Jensen turned the envelope over. “Is this a joke?”

“Who’s it from?” Jared exclaimed.

“The local university…” Jensen mumbled.

“Are you joking?”

“No.” Jensen handed Jared the envelope. “Mack, is a joke?”

Mackenzie was bouncing up and down on her feet. “No! It came today! I found it when we got home!”

“Okay, Mack, listen to me very closely,” Jensen said. “Can you do that?” Mack nodded and Jensen plowed on. “I didn’t even apply to college. Even if I did, why the hell would I apply to a university? I’d be lucky to get into community college!”

Jared and Mackenzie burst into conversation at the same time. Eventually Jensen held his hands up. “Shut up, both of you! I didn’t apply to college, I didn’t apply to a university, and I would never get in!”

Mack grabbed the envelope and Jensen grabbed it right back. “Mack, enough!”

Jared snatched it. “Open it, Jensen!”

“Okay, if you give it back to me I’ll open it.”

Jared reluctantly handed over the college letter. “Open.”

Jensen slowly tore the top of the letter. “Mr. Ackles, we are happy to inform you…” Jensen’s throat dried up. He read the rest of the letter in silence. When he was finished, he looked up at Jared with lost eyes. “Jay.”

Jared seemed to know what Jensen wanted to say without hearing the words. He scooped Jensen up in a hug and held him tightly. “I’m so proud of you.”

Jensen clutched at Jared just as tight. “I’m going to college.”

Jared laughed into his shoulder. “You’re going to a university!”

Jensen blushed and let go of Jared. “It’s just a local one and it’s not Ivy…”

“Jen, that’s awesome.”

Mackenzie jumped on him and Jensen doubled over with her weight. “Yay! My big brother’s going to college!”

Jared grabbed the envelope from Jensen and rifled through the rest of the contents. “And you got a football scholarship!”  

“I did?”

Jared pulled him into another hug. “This is awesome! It totally calls for celebration!”

Mack squealed in agreement. “I’m so happy for you! You should totally tell mom now!”

Jensen froze and the real smile became fake in about 3 words. “Tell mom? Now? Is she even home?”

Mack rolled her eyes. “Probably. Either than or she’s out getting dr-,” She glanced at Jared.

“S’okay, Mack,” Jensen said gently. “He knows.”

Mack nodded. “I think she’s home.”

“But she doesn’t care,” Jensen insisted. “I’ll tell her and it will go in one ear, out the other.”

“Five bucks she says congratulations,” Mack countered.

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “Ten bucks she doesn’t look up from her book.”

Mackenzie and Jensen glared at each other, and then at Jared. He raised his hands in defense. “I’m not taking anyone’s side.”

Jensen sighed. “If I give you five bucks will you drop the subject and leave me and Jared to do our homework?”

Mack shook her head. “First, Jared and me. Second, you can’t just hide this kind of information from our parents.”

“Pray tell, Mack, when was the last time you saw our dad?”

Mackenzie ignored him. “Tell her when you want, Jen, but if you plan on waiting until the day your bags are packed-,”

“They’ll care as much as they would if I told them today. Go do your homework, Mack, and let it go.” Jensen admonished.  

Mack shot him one last reproachful look before stalking off to her room. Jensen turned and was met with Jared’s raised eyebrows. “What?”

Jared sighed. “She’s right.”

“No, she’s not! My family’s not like yours, Jared. We don’t sit down and eat dinner together. We don’t talk. We hardly even see each other. A college acceptance letter, which I’m still not convinced isn’t a joke because I didn’t apply, means nothing to them. Get that through your head!” 

Jared waited for a minute and then asked calmly, “Are you done?” Jensen thought for a minute and nodded. Jared continued, “Good. Because you’re right. Your family is different than mine. That doesn’t make a college acceptance letter any less special. And Jensen… your family is more than just your parents and your little sister, you know.”

“Are you going all philosophical on me, Padalecki?”

Jared eased the letter out of Jensen’s clenched hand. “No, I’m trying to get you to stop acting like a teenage girl.”

Jensen let Jared take the letter away from him. “I’m not acting like a teenage girl.”

“Stubborn, arrogant, moody, and letting your emotions get in the way of rationality… sounds a lot like Megan.”

“Fuck off,” Jensen snapped.

“Yup, teenage girl.”

“Where are you getting all this confidence from?” Jensen asked. It was unlike Jared to criticize, him, to have the confidence to criticize anyone. To be honest, it was kind of hot.

Jared schooled his features. “Where are you getting this nasty attitude from?”

“Maybe from you!”

“Then maybe I’m getting the confidence from you.”

Jensen sighed resignedly. “Let’s just do our homework, okay?”

“Whatever you want. But Jensen…” Jensen looked up at Jared. “I think you should tell your parents.”

Jensen was about to engage in an all out shouting match when Jensen’s mom, regal and poised as usual, strutted into the room. “Hi mom,” Jensen said.

She looked at him. “Jensen, hi.”

“This is Jared,” Jensen introduced. “Jared Padalecki.”

“Hi, Mrs. Ackles.”

Donna looked at him appraisingly. “Sherri’s boy?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Donna nodded. “I didn’t know you two were friends.”

Jensen winced at her words. “Mom. Please.”

Donna’s eyes stared into her son’s. “Forgive me for not knowing every detail of my son’s life. It would be difficult, considering the amount of time he spends in his room ignoring his family.”

There it is. His mother’s famous sarcasm. “Mom, if I’m in the same room as you, you don’t look up.”

“Are you blaming me, Jensen Ross?”

Jensen felt like screaming but he felt a gentle hand brush against his. Jensen gripped Jared’s hand tightly. “Mom, you’ve gotta meet me halfway.”

Donna shook her head haughtily. “I’m the adult.”

“So shouldn’t you be making an effort?” It was only Jared’s hand held snugly in his own that kept Jensen from blowing up.

“I need you to focus on your schoolwork. Then maybe you can hope to get into college sometime in the future.”

Low blow. From the way Jared squeezed Jensen’s hand, he agreed with him. “I got into college,” Jensen blurted.

Donna raised an eyebrow. “You got into college?”

Jensen nodded and Jared handed Donna the letter. She snatched it out of his hand and read it briefly. Jensen watched her face, but her expression never faded from cool boredom. Eventually she handed it back to Jensen. “Good work.”

That was the last thing she said before leaving the room, dignity intact and the feeling of success wiped away from Jensen’s memories.

****** 

Jared released Jensen’s hand as soon as Jensen’s mother left the room. “Jen.”

“Jared, drop it.”

“Didn’t say anything.” Jared wanted to hug Jensen like he had when Jensen got his acceptance letter.

Jensen ignored him. “Let’s go do our homework.”

Jared wanted to press the subject, but he could take a hint. “Alright.”

Jensen grabbed the bundle of college information and dragged it up to his room. Jared wondered if Jensen thought the acceptance would just vanish if he let it out of his sight. It was almost sad. Even after all the work, Jensen truly didn’t believe he was good enough to belong in a university.

Jensen led Jared up the winding path to his loft. Jared tried to keep pace with him but it seemed as though Jensen wanted to avoid any kind of conversation opportunity. Jared groaned. “Come on, I’m not going to say anything. Just don’t act fucking jaded. Not around me.”

Jensen stopped walking and Jared crashed into his back. “What makes you special?” Jensen muttered.

“Gee, I don’t know, maybe the fact that you’ve fucking told me I’m different? That you act different around me, you made me believe you were more than just a quarterback! Don’t make me change my mind!” Jared snapped. Where was this anger coming from?

Jensen still didn’t turn to face Jared. It only added fuel to the fire. “Look at me!” Jared yelled. “Look at me, goddammit!”

Jensen did look at him, and contrary to what Jared expected, there was no anger in his emerald green eyes. Hurt, maybe, shock, definitely. But no anger. Jensen’s expressive eyes spoke volumes when Jared met them, saying soothing things like it’s okay, and please don’t be angry.

And Jared felt all the fury seep out of his body. It was impossible to stay angry at Jensen when he looked up at him with his big green doe eyes. Fucking asshole. “I just wish you would talk to me,” Jared finished weakly.

Jensen frowned. “I’m not good at that.”

“You are when you don’t try,” Jared suggested. “You say I think too much about things. Maybe… maybe you do too. Maybe if you just stopped thinking for five minutes. Stopped thinking about what the others would think and started to think about what you want. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so hard.”

Jensen smiled. “I knew you were the smart one.”

“I’m always here to give you advice and answers to your calc homework,” Jared replied. 

The loft was more peaceful that the rest of the house. The quiet wasn’t stifling, it was more serene and untroubled. Of course, Jensen running his fingers down the strings of his guitar with one hand while he finished his homework with the other occasionally broke the silence. It reminded Jared of the way Jensen sang so passionately, the ways his hands found the chords on the guitar like it was as easy as breathing. To Jensen, it probably was. Even the casual strum his fingers created when they dragged along the strings was better than any song Jared had ever heard before.

Wow, I’m pathetic.

Jared tried to focus on his homework but when the music flowed from the guitar Jared’s head snapped up. This time amused, green eyes stared back at him. “You’re doing that thing where you think too hard.”

Jared glared at him. “Am not. And you do it too, hypocrite.”

Jensen smirked and inched closer to Jared. “Then how about we make a deal? We both stop thinking,” Jensen said. Jared nodded and picked up his pencil to resume his homework, but Jensen caught his hand. “I said no thinking.”

Jared knew his eyes must be comically wide when they met Jensen’s. But Jared couldn’t tear himself away from the teasing look in Jensen’s bottle green eyes. “W-what did you have in mind to do instead?” Jared stammered.

Jensen pressed his forehead against Jared’s. “I thought about what I wanted.”

All the air left Jared’s lungs in one fell swoop. “And?”

Jensen grinned and moved so close his lips were millimeters away from Jared’s. “I came to a conclusion.”

“Jen, you’re fucking killing me.”

Jensen laughed quietly and Jared held his breath for the moment Jensen, the guy he was in love with, would finally kiss him.

And then Jared’s cellphone went off.

Jensen’s eyes closed in irritation and he leaned away from Jared. “You should get that.”

“No—Jen, it’s not—I didn’t-,”

Jensen was already sitting back by his homework. “S’okay. Another time.”

Jared was pretty fluent in Jensen by now and he knew that “another time” really meant “never again”.

Fucking cellphones. It’s almost on the last ring when Jared picks it up and sees that it’s Megan calling. “It better be really fucking important.”

“Hello to you as well, big brother.”

“Megan.”

“Okay, okay. It’s sort of important…” Megan’s sentence trails off.

“What do you mean ‘sort of’ important?” Jared asked.

“Like, important enough but not really important enough to call.”

“Megan, this is an awful time. So tell me what you need right now or I’m hanging up the phone.”

“Jeez, someone’s in a bad mood.”

Jared hung up the phone before Megan could say anymore. He was in a bad mood, because he was so close to kissing Jensen and now his green eyes were staring so intensely at his homework they could burn a hole in the paper. Megan calls back and Jared answers it just for the sake of having something to do.

“Megan.”

“I cockblocked you, didn’t I?”

“Ugh, Megan.”

She laughed. “Sorry. Just wanted to know how things with Jensen were.”

“Are you joking?”

“Yes. But my original question was if you could drive me shopping but it’s okay because I got a ride from someone else.”

Jared sat there in silence. A kiss from Jensen was ruined because Megan wanted to go shopping?

For the second time in five minutes, Jared hung up on his sister.

Jensen looked up at him. “Important?”

Jared shook his head. “Megs wanted to go shopping.”

Jensen smiled sadly at his homework. “Wish Mack would ask me that sometimes. I’d drive her anywhere she wanted if it meant we could spend more time together.”

“Things are getting better though, aren’t they?”

Jensen didn’t respond and Jared worried that he’d crossed an invisible line. But Jensen nodded and said, “I think it’s because of you.”

Jared couldn’t help the grin that spread on his face. “I thought you said no thinking?”

Jensen threw a crumpled up piece of notebook paper at him. “Asshole.”

“Dick.” And just like that, the awkwardness of an almost kiss was gone.

Jensen rolled onto his back. “How mad would you be if I decided to stop doing my homework?”

“Depends,” Jared replied. “What would you be doing instead?”

Jared secretly hoped Jensen’s answer would be you, but even he wasn’t that dumb. Jensen actually said, “Not thinking.”

“That seems to be a common theme for today.”

“Motif,” Jensen said. “A common theme in literature or any sort of work is called a motif.”

“I know.”

“Sure you do, Padalecki.” Jensen turned to smirk at him. Jared threw the piece of paper Jensen had thrown at him back in his face.

“I hate you.”

“I know. Now can we stop with the homework?”

Jared put down his pencil with a sigh. Jensen grinned victoriously and Jared held up his hand. “We get a break. And you still have to finish your homework for tomorrow.”

“I have football.”

“Then no break and you finish it now.”

Jensen glared at him but promised to finish his work. “You’re so bossy.”

“You can get rescinded from college, you know.”

Jensen looked confused. “What does that mean?”

“The college that originally accepted you can retract their offer.”

Jensen looked petrified and Jared regretted bringing it up. “Don’t worry,” Jared soothed, “I’m sure they won’t rescind you. But you have to do your homework, okay?”

“Thanks, mom.”

“You’re welcome.” Jared liked the banter that he and Jensen could strike up so easily. He would like to kiss Jensen more, but he’d make do for now. If Jensen wanted to kiss him once, then he’d probably find another opportunity.

At least, Jared hoped that was true.

 

Hoping for something to be true was very different from it actually being true. The first thing Jared saw when he entered the school doors Thursday morning was Jensen and Danneel, pressed together against the lockers. They were only talking, but Jared knew how quickly talking could turn into something more. Jensen’s eyes lifted and met with Jared’s. Before he could do something he might regret later, Jared turned and took the long way to first period.

Anything to avoid Jensen.

******

Danneel had been texting and calling him nonstop since their breakup. First it was Prom plans, then it was pleas to get back together, then it was casual comments about how they should go get a bite to eat together. Just casually, as friends.

Jensen snorted as he read the last part and kept his replies civil and friendly. He never agreed to going out with her and kept their conversations strictly about Prom planning. Eventually he cornered her in the morning and told her that he wasn’t interested in being more than friends. She’d taken it about as well as she’d taken the break up. No punches were thrown, but Danneel looked like she was wishing a painful death upon Jensen. And possibly Jared, considering that’s who everyone assumed Jensen left Danneel for.

Jensen could handle being insulted and gossiped about. It happened all the time. But the second Jared got dragged into it, Jensen lost his cool.  

Anytime he heard a rumor about Jared that was less than complimentary, Jensen snapped at whoever was spreading it. It didn’t help dispel the rumor the two were dating but at least it helped quiet down the negative comments. Jensen just hoped Jared hadn’t heard any of them yet. Gen was doing the same thing and Jensen even saw Steve growling at a pair of students that called Jared a fag. Chris and Tom mostly shot down rumors about Jensen that were being spread, but it didn’t stop Chris from giving the death glare to a boy that said Jared should drop out of school.

Maybe this Thursday would be better than others. But Jensen reached history and blanched.

Or maybe not

Chapter Text

Jensen stood frozen in the entry to his history classroom. Danneel was sitting next to Jared and running her perfectly manicured claws on Jared’s arm. Jared looked like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to bolt from where he was sitting. Edlund was shuffling papers on his desk and Jensen wanted to yell at him to split the two of them up, to put Danni as far away from Jared as possible. But it’s not like he would understand the animosity between Danneel and Jared anyway.

Jensen pushed himself out of the doorway and stood in front of the desk. “Danni,” Jensen growled.

Danneel looked up at him with a sickly sweet smile. “Hi, Jensen.”

Jared avoided his eyes and it made Jensen all the angrier. “Danni, move.”

Danneel smirked. “Just getting to know Jared. You know, the boy you ditched your long time girlfriend and best friends for? That Jared?”

“Yes, I’m well associated with ‘that Jared’. I’m also well associated with my best friends that shove people around for no reason and my girlfriend who cares about her social status way too much to be healthy.”

Jared open his mouth to interrupt but Danneel silenced him with a glare. “Jensen, you have no fucking clue what you’re talking about.” Her voice had dropped to the low, deadly tone it did when Danneel was trying to scare someone off.

Too bad Jensen had experience with it. “And neither do you. Jared is a good guy. An awesome guy, and he cares about people in a way you and I could never understand. Now take your hands off him.”

Jared managed to sneak in, “I am right here, you know.”

Danni glared. “Yes, thanks for pointing that out. Never could have figured it out without you.”

Jensen was about to respond when Edlund cleared his throat. “Take your seats, now.”

Jensen touched Jared’s shoulder. “I’m right behind you.”

Jared nodded briefly and Jensen slid into the desk behind the pair. Luckily the seat beside him was empty so he didn’t have to focus on anything but Jared and Danneel. Edlund started to ramble and Jensen took the opportunity to take out his phone.

Why didn’t you do anything?

The response came seconds later. That was the thing Jensen liked about Genevieve, she never hesitated in responding to texts. What was I supposed to do? Drag Danni away from Jared by her hair?

Yes, that would be great.

Jensen knew Gen was rolling her eyes. Sorry, but there’s a line between crazy and protective. Not sure I’m willing to cross that line.

Jensen glanced up at Edlund to check if he was watching the classroom. He wasn’t. Good. I thought you cared about Jared.

I do. Don’t accuse me of not caring because I didn’t jump in like a guard dog when Danneel sat next to him. I’m not you.

What does that mean?

Your stunt in the bathroom? With Chris?

Jensen sighed. That was necessary.

You punched your best friend! Gen texted back. Are you sure that was necessary?

You weren’t there.

True. Now keep an eye on them. There’s nothing I can do, and there’s nothing Danneel can do in a room full of students. Calm down, Hercules.

Jensen refused to answer Gen. She was Danneel’s best friend, there was definitely something she could have done. Unless Danneel was pissed at Gen too… god, this girl needed to cool off.

Danni was tapping her fingers on the desk. Her hand was moving slowly but surely closer to Jared and Jensen kicked the back of her chair. Danni’s hand stopped moving but the fingers kept drumming and Jensen barely restrained himself from reaching across and grabbing it.

Jensen’s phone buzzed. He didn’t need a lecture from Gen on the fact that he was overreacting. But the screen blinked Jared’s name and Jensen couldn’t open the phone fast enough.

Calm down. I’m okay.

Jensen wanted to tell Jared that Danneel was a vicious snake and would attack at the first sign of weakness But instead Jensen simply sent back, okay.

Well, that couldn’t have been a lamer response if Jensen tried.

Apparently Jared agreed because Jensen didn’t get a response. “Okay” didn’t deserve a response. Jensen resisted the temping idea to bang his head against the desk and opted for listening to Edlund.

An idea that simmered out after five minutes.

Jensen pulled out the college acceptance letter. He’d carried it with him since he received it and was still utterly baffled to as how he’d gotten in. His first suspicion was that Jared had sent the application in, but the deadline was before he and Jared developed their friendship. No family members had done it, and Jensen wasn’t sure if Chris had even filled out his own application, much less Jensen’s.

It had been all Jensen could think about for all of Wednesday and the duration of Thursday morning. He’d wait until lunch and ask Kripke or someone if there was a possibility a scout had seen him and decided to offer him a football scholarship based on his skills as a quarterback.

Jensen sighed. Even he couldn’t trick himself into thinking that was a possibility.

And Kripke, the most laidback and perplexing teacher at the school, would hardly give Jensen a straight answer. It would probably be something cryptic that would only make Jensen more confused.

So as painful as Jensen found the idea, he waited after class to talk to Edlund. When the last of the students filed out, Jensen approached Edlund’s desk. “Mr. Edlund?”

Edlund looked up at him. “I think that might be the first time all year you’ve called me that,” Edlund drawled.

Fuck. Jensen knew this was a bad idea. “I wanted to show you something.”

Edlund sighed and leaned back in his chair. “Go ahead.”

Jensen pulled out the letter. “I got into college. But I don’t know how. And it doesn’t make any sense because I pretty much failed everything and I never event sent in an application. So can you tell me how this is possible because I really have no idea how a failure like me could get into college.”

Edlund opened his mouth to respond when the door burst open and Kripke stumbled in. “Did he get in?”

Jensen looked between the two teachers. “What?”

The two teachers ignored him. “He just showed me his acceptance letter,” Edlund said. There was a faint tinge of pride in his voice that Jensen had never heard. Ever.

Kripke’s face lit up with a smile. “I heard the letters should be arriving yesterday and I just wanted to know as soon as possible!”

Jensen felt slightly irritated. “Will someone please tell me what’s going on?”

Kripke beamed at him. “You’re going to college!”

“Yeah, I got that part,” Jensen said, waving his letter at his teachers. “What I’m missing is how.”

Edlund looked at him with an actual smile on his face. What the hell was happening to the world when Edlund was smiling? “We sent your application in,” Edlund explained.

Okay. What? “What?”

Kripke shrugged and sat on Edlund’s desk. “We filled it out. Stamped it and sent it in. I even used one of your essays. The best one.”

“Isn’t that like… forgery or something? To fill out an application for someone else”

“We told them we were the ones to do it,” Edlund added and pushed Kripke off his desk. “Met with someone from the school and explained the situation.”

“What situation?”

Edlund sighed. “You were on the verge of not graduating, but you were a hardworking student with incredible talent on the football field. We came to a tentative agreement that if you got your grades up by the end of the year, you could go to college.”

“So… I’m still confused,” Jensen admitted. “You always said that I had focus issues or something like that.”

Edlund leaned forward. “But with C’s in your other classes and an A in English, I figured it was just my class. I tried all kinds of different ways to help you focus. But eventually I just decided that maybe you needed a different teacher.”

“So you got Jared to tutor me.”

Edlund smirked. “Yup.” He handed Jensen his latest test. “And you got a 94% on the test. The only one to score higher was Mr. Padalecki.” His smile was almost fond when Edlund turned to him again. “You are not a failure, Jensen. You’re a talented student.” He smiled sheepishly. “And you never were at risk for not graduating. There was a clause attached to the acceptance that you had to get your grades up to at least straight B’s to get in.”

“Wow, thanks. I mean it.” It was the first time Edlund hadn’t called him Ackles or Mr. Ackles and Jensen found he couldn’t find any more words.

He turned to Kripke and was met with his typical enigmatic smile. “You earned this,” Kripke said. “And we’re proud of you.”

Jensen felt a wide smile grow on his face. “I must be so late for fourth period.”

Edlund shrugged. “Skip it. God knows how many times you have already.”

“Who are you and what have you done with my history teacher?” Jensen exclaimed. “You’re acting like… like a cool teacher.”

Kripke laughed at that. “Maybe he just wanted you to succeed, Jensen, did you ever think of that?”

Jensen shook his head. “I thought-,” He glanced at Edlund. “You hated me!”

“Never hated you, Jensen.” Edlund neatly stacked papers. “You were irritating sometimes, but I will miss you next year. Your work ethic is surprisingly high. I guess all it took was a different teacher.”

“No—you’re a good teacher. I mean, how many teachers would have taken an interest in someone that purposely failed their class?” Jensen said. It was still a little astounding that this conversation was happening. Did he really just compliment Edlund?

Edlund sighed. “A teacher’s job is to help their students pass. I would be failing at my job if you failed my class.”

Jensen’s eyes darted between Kripke and Edlund’s bright smiles. After countless hours of staring at D’s and F’s on his paper, proud smiles were a nice change. “But…”

“Jensen. Take the letter and go celebrate,” Edlund said firmly.

Jensen grinned. “Yes, sir.”  

Wow, this day was weird.

 ****** 

Jared’s focus was completely off in fourth period. At this rate he was going to need tutoring. His attention was never on what the teacher was saying anymore. His thoughts always wandered between Jensen and Danneel and Chris and back to Jensen.

But today his thoughts were on Danneel. Her words still echoed in his head. “Jensen and I are getting back together. It’s cute that you think you have something with him but… you should probably just count yourself lucky that he’s talking to you. I have forever with him. You have until the end of the school year.”

She’d kept the same, sweet smile on her face the entire conversation. Jared had the sick feeling that she’d enjoyed telling Jared that the guy he loved had no interest in him. But Jared knew she was lying. There was no way Jensen could stop caring about him once the school year was over. There was no way he’d get back with Danneel.

There was no way.

Jared tried to steady his heartbeat. This too-fast heartbeat thing was happening too often. At this rate, Jared was going to have a heart attack before his 19th birthday. And that didn’t bode well with him. He was too young to have a heart attack.

Jared was also too young to believe that he’d found the love of his life, but that was all he saw when he looked at Jensen. And for about two seconds yesterday, Jared thought Jensen felt the same way. Jensen was going to kiss him. Jensen was going to kiss him.

And fucking ruined because Megan wanted a ride to the mall.

Jared wasn’t mad at his little sister. It’s not like she knew that was about to happen. But it still just on the brink of romance, and incredibly sexy, and goddammit it was ruined.

Maybe Danneel was right. Maybe after that failed incident Jensen wouldn’t want to kiss him again. How many times had Jensen looked at Danneel like she was the world? And how many times had she smiled at him like there was a secret only the two of them were in on?

Jensen didn’t look at Jared like that. He didn’t exactly look at Danneel like that either, not anymore, but Jared knew you didn’t get over your ex in a few days time.

Jared heard Jensen’s voice in his head telling him he was overthinking this whole mess. Jared just had to calm down. Just had to stop thinking so hard. Stop thinking about Danneel’s words, about her warnings, and stop thinking about the almost-kiss. Just focus on whatever class Jared had wandered into.

Easier said than done.

 

Jared wandered into the lunchroom and hoped that Gen wouldn’t insist on him sitting with her again. Last time was awkward enough. And he wasn’t looking for a repeat.

Well, Jared got half his wish. Gen didn’t insist that Jared sit with them again.

Chris did.

Jared held his lunch and went to sit at the table where Mike waited when a strong arm looped through his. When Jared glanced to the left and saw Chris, he almost dropped his lunch. Chris’ smile was nothing short of wicked and Tom matched it on the other side.

“Hi, Jared,” Chris crooned. “So, we’ve been less than hospitable to Jensen’s new…”

“Friend,” Tom finished. “So why don’t you sit with us today?”

“I-I-I promised my friend I’d sit with him,” Jared stammered. On the other side of the cafeteria.

Chris didn’t release his arm. “Come on. Five minutes is all we ask for. We’ll even let you sit next to Jensen.”

Tom snickered on the other side and Jared shuddered. But there was an empty seat beside Jensen and Jared all but ran for it when Chris released him. His relief was short lived when Chris took the seat next to him and Tom took the seat across. His only comfort was Jensen and maybe Steve, who sat on the other side of Chris.

Jensen nudged him gently. “They’ll behave,” Jensen whispered. Jared nodded and tried to relax.

No such luck. Chris and Tom pelted questions at him. It was like the pizza parlor, but there was more venom in Chris’ voice than before. Jared assumed it had to do with the fact that Jensen had punched him on Jared’s behalf.

“So Jared,” Tom said. “Straight A student, huh?” Jared nodded. “You ever find time to leave the house? Come to a football game? A party or two?”

Jensen’s hand wrapped around Jared’s, the same way Jared held his when Donna was lecturing Jensen. Jared took a breath and answered, “I’ve only been to one game. Um, the last one. A week ago.”

Tom nodded. “Well you should come to more. They’re really interesting. Jensen’s got quite an arm.”

Chris chuckled. “You can see him in action. He’s so commanding out on the field. A real strong leader.”

Jensen tensed. “He’ll come to games when he has the time.”

“What do you do in your free time?” Tom pressed on.

Jared squeezed Jensen’s hand tighter, tight enough to hurt, and was relieved when Jensen didn’t pull away. “Um, read. I love books.”

Chris grinned. “You read? What books should I look into? I’m not all that well read.”

“Start with Dr. Seuss,” Gen suggested. She plopped her tray down beside Tom. “That should be a good staring point for you, Kane. Tom, you should probably start with picture books.”

Jared hid his grin, but Jensen and Steve laughed outright. “Go easy on them, Gen,” Steve said. “They’re still licking their wounds from Chemistry.”

“Ooh, what happened?”

Chris blushed and Tom avoided Gen’s gaze. “There might have been a minor defect in our experiment.”

Steve cackled. “If you call blowing up the lab a ‘defect’ then yes, there was a defect.”

“We didn’t blow up the whole lab!” Chris protested. “Just our station. And a few test tubes.”

Gen rolled her eyes. “Did you read the procedure or decide it would be easier to just dump chemicals together and hope for the best?”

Tom glared. “First of all, we did not dump chemicals together. They were measured out perfectly. I think something must have gone wrong between point A and point B-,”

“It was Tom’s fault!” Chris said. “And of course something went wrong!”

“My fault? You did the measuring, jackass! Don’t blame me!”

Jared looked at Jensen and he beamed at him. “In case you were wondering, yes, they’re always like this,” Jensen murmured. “And sometimes it’s worse.”

Jared smiled. “So you have to put up with this all the time?”

Jensen shrugged. “They are my friends. Sometimes we have disagreements-,” Jensen glanced at Chris, “-but we try and work around them. I mean, we’ve been friends forever.”

“Does that mean you and Chris’ argument…” Jared wished he hadn’t said it when Jensen’s eyes darkened.

“I’m still angry,” Jensen admitted, “but I’m working up to forgiving him. You shouldn’t, though. You should hate him for what he did.”

“I’m not very good at hating people.”

Jensen grinned. “Well, that’s one more thing I like about you. Maybe you could teach me how to not hate people because apparently I get angry about little things that I shouldn’t be angry about.”

“Well, I think you’re allowed to be angry about things,” Jared said. “Even if they are little things. You just kinda have to, I dunno, move past it. Think about the good.”

“Is that what you do? Think about the good?”

Jared shrugged. “I guess. People mostly left me alone until-,” Jared cut his sentence off, but the damage was done.

“Until we started hanging out,” Jensen finished. Jared shook his head but Jensen rolled his eyes. “You know it’s the truth.”

“But I don’t care.”

“I do. I’m not letting you get shoved into lockers and insulted by Chris. Not because of me.”

Jensen’s words sent a rush of love through Jared. Jensen cared about him. “I can take care of myself.”

Jensen frowned. “Well, maybe I want to help.” He promptly blushed after and ducked his head.

Jared tried to bite back the giant grin that was covering his face, but when he saw Gen’s smirk he couldn’t help it. A bright smile dominated his face and didn’t go unnoticed by Chris. He opened his mouth but Steve grabbed his arm. Jared expected something to spill from Chris’ mouth anyway but instead he gave Jared a terse smile and looked away.

This was shaping up to be the weirdest day ever.

 *******

Kripke smiled brightly at Jensen when he walked into the English classroom. “Jensen.”

“Hi, Mr. Kripke.”

Kripke smiled sadly. “Man, a few more weeks and you won’t have to call me that anymore.”

“What would I call you?”

Kripke shrugged. “Eric, maybe.”

Jensen crinkled his nose. “Too weird. You’ll always be my English teacher.”

“I appreciate that. And you’ll always be my star student.”

Jensen blushed. “I’m not a star.”

“You are, Jensen,” Kripke said firmly. “Jared believes it, Edlund believes it, and I believe it. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when you believe it too.”

 

Jensen took seventh period off. He’d already skipped fourth but he didn’t really feel bad about taking another break. So much for incredible work ethic. Jensen sat in the courtyard and took out his notebook. He was in the midst of writing out possible lyrics when he heard a soft, “Hey.” 

Jensen saw Steve leaning against an empty table. “Hi, Steve.”

Steve sat across from Jensen cautiously. Jensen felt a pang of sadness. Weeks ago Steve wouldn’t have hesitated. There wouldn’t be any of this awkwardness in the air.

“Sucks, doesn’t it?” Steve commented. Jensen guessed Steve was echoing his thoughts.

“Yeah. It used to be so much easier.”

“Before Jared,” Steve said. Jensen glared and Steve raised his hands in defense. “Relax, I’m not blaming him. I like the guy. I like how he makes you smile. But he was the thing that made all this weirdness start.”

“Sounds like you’re blaming him,” Jensen retorted.

“Well, none of us are blameless. Chris could have reacted differently to the situation. Tom and Danneel too. Took me long enough to even admit that he was more of a benefit than a burden.”

Jensen smiled to himself. “Jared could never be a burden.” He swallowed nervously. “He got me into college.”

Steve’s smile returned full force. “You’re going to college! Awesome!” He hugged Jensen tightly. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Well, it’s not like I could have done it without Jared,” Jensen said modestly. “Which no one seems to fucking get. He could quite possibly be one of the best things to ever happen to me, and my friends can’t get off his back. I mean, not you. But I feel like screaming at them.”

Steve frowned sympathetically. “I’ll try and work on Chris. I just don’t know if it’ll ever change.”

“It’s not high school musical,” Jensen agreed. Steve rolled his eyes amusedly.

“That’s the attitude.”

Jensen rolled his eyes. “Well, you know it’s not. You know Chris is going to be a prick about me and Jared being friends. You know Danneel will be plotting his slow and painful demise. And you know Tom will be… well, Tom.”

Steve raised an eyebrow. “And that’s all you guys are?”

“What do you mean?”

“You and Jared,” Steve clarified. “You’re just friends? Nothing more?”

Jensen opened his mouth to spit out the default no, but it didn’t come out. “I don’t know.”

“Do you want to be more than friends?”

This time no answer came at all. It wasn’t like Jensen hadn’t considered it. And more often than not Jensen imagined going to prom with Jared and not Danneel. Sometimes it physically hurt how badly he wanted Jared. Other times he dismissed the idea so quickly it was almost like it never crossed his mind at all. “Um.”

Steve inched closer. “Dude, I’m not going to judge you. Even if you say you want to run away to Vegas and get married I’m not going to judge you. I just want to know the truth.”

Jensen knew Steve wasn’t lying. In all the years Jensen had known Steve, the one thing he’d never done was lie to Jensen. So Jensen decided that he owed at least one of his friends the truth.

“I don’t know how I feel about him. Sometimes I want to kiss him so bad I think I’m just going to do it in front of the whole class. I almost did it at tutoring yesterday. And sometimes I just think, ‘there’s no way this can work. There’s no way we can be together’ and I feel bad because I know it could. I know it’s my fault that we’re not together. All Jared has ever been is amazing and I’ve… I’m just so scared. Every time I look at him I’m scared because I’ve never, ever felt things for a guy and I’ve never felt things so strong either. Not even for Danneel.” Jensen’s words flowed out of him in a waterfall and once they started, they couldn’t stop.

“He makes me so happy, Steve,” Jensen choked. “He makes me so happy. And I feel like a complete asshole every time I hold back because of what others will think.”  

Steve sat and listened to Jensen vomit up everything he’d been feeling and when Steve was convinced Jensen was done, all he said was, “I’ll support you.”

Jensen didn’t know what to make of that. “What?”

Steve rolled his eyes. “I think you need life tutoring more than calc tutoring. Look, you’re my best friend. All I want is for you to be happy. I like Jared. Jared likes you, and you like Jared. He makes you happy. I’ll always be there fighting off people that make you want to say different. And Jensen…” Steve took a deep breath. “Even if it doesn’t seem like it, Chris will support you too.”  

Jensen nodded. “Does that mean I should tell him I could possibly have a crush on Jared?”

Steve hesitated. “Maybe you should wait until I soften him up a little.”

Jensen laughed. It was nice to have friends like Steve.

Chapter Text

Jensen was thinking about something. Jared could tell. All throughout tutoring he’d been distracted. Jensen had two types of thinking; the homework kind, where his eyebrows scrunched up and he bit his lip, and the life kind, where Jensen stared at one spot on his homework without really seeing or processing. Jared wasn’t sure how he felt about the life thinking kind yet. Especially since 9 times out of 10, Jared failed to guess on what life subject Jensen was oh so analytically thinking about.

Jared watched his features change from hesitant to bored, to thoughtful to curious. Eventually Jensen’s green eyes turned to meet his. “You’ve been watching me,” Jensen said. Jared panicked, but Jensen’s voice was colored with amusement. “It’s okay. I’m an interesting guy. But if you could tell me why you were watching me, it might help make this conversation less one-sided.”

“You were thinking,” Jared blurted. Oh great.

“Yeah, I do that from time to time.”

Jared groaned. “Ignore me.”

Jensen laughed. “Okay. You coming to my game tomorrow?”

“Your game?”

“My football game. You know, the one I have every Friday? I’m the quarterback? My teammates are douchebags?”

“Don’t be so hard on them,” Jared said. “They mean well.”
Jensen looked at him like he’d lost his mind. “You’re too nice. And you’re coming to the game, right?”

Jared shrugged. “I dunno.”

“Come on. It’ll be fun!” Jensen insisted. “You had fun last time, right?”

Jared sighed. “I went with my little sister and almost had a panic attack when you got hit so hard the wind got knocked out of you.”

“Okay, other than those two things, you had fun. Do I have to sneak a ticket into your car again?”

Jared smiled at the memory. “I don’t know.”

Jensen pouted. “Come on, Jay. At least come to the party afterwards.”

“What party?”

“After every game we have a celebratory party at Chris’ house. They’re a ton of fun and they always get out of hand. It’s awesome,” Jensen described.

“’Out of hand’ isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. I like to sit alone and read in my free time, are you forgetting that?”

“Jaaaayyy,” Jensen pleaded. “I hate going to those things. It’ll be a little better if you suffer with me.”

“I thought you just said they were awesome?” Jared said, amused.

“I only said that to try and persuade you. They suck. They’re loud and everyone gets drunk. I used to think they were the greatest thing ever. But after years of going to them, I’m all partied out.”

“What about Chris’ parents?” Jared asked.

“They always go out on Friday’s,” Jensen explained. “I think they know what’s happening when they’re gone, but they just ignore it.”

“That’s not very responsible,” Jared pointed out.

Jensen’s brows furrowed. “Yeah, I guess not. But we’ve been getting away with it for years.”

Jared groaned. “I really don’t think it’s a good idea. Chris doesn’t want me there. It could only end in disaster.”

Jensen grinned up at him. “I’ll take you. If you’re with me, Chris can’t kick you out. And I won’t leave your side. Nothing bad will happen.”

Just like you never left my side at the pool party? “You don’t want to stick next to me the entire time.”

“Gen will be there,” Jensen tried. “You’re friends with her. And Sophia. And Steve.”

“Steve?” Since when was Steve his ally?

“Yeah. He likes you. He’s even trying to work on Chris.” Jensen bit his lip. “Please, Jay?”

And fuck, Jared couldn’t say no to anything Jensen asked. “Jen…”

Jensen sat up straight, like he knew Jared’s walls of resistance were crumbling. “I’ll owe you forever. I mean, I already owe you forever for a lot of things. But I’ll owe you even more for this.”

Jared sighed. “Fine. But I’m only going for an hour.”

Jensen beamed and tackled Jared in a hug. “You’re the best.”

Jared’s back landed uncomfortably against his bedroom floor. “I know,” Jared replied. “Now can you get off?” Before you realize how much I like this?

Jensen shook his head and hugged Jared tighter. “I’m going to suffocate you with my love.”

Jensen and Jared both froze after Jensen’s statement and after a few seconds, Jensen scrambled off Jared so quickly it was like he was burned. “I mean—shit, I’m sorry,” Jensen mumbled. He started to gather up his stuff. “I should go.”

Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Jensen always freaked out after he showed any sign of affection towards Jared now that he knew Jared’s feelings were more than friendly. “Jensen, wait.”

Jensen shook his head. “I have football practice anyway. I’ll see you round, Jared.” He smiled tightly. “School tomorrow. And the game. I’ll, uh, text you or something.”

Jared didn’t get a chance to stop him before Jensen rushed out the door.

“Or something,” Jared mumbled to an empty room. “Fuck!” Why didn’t I try harder to stop him? I know he doesn’t love me like I love him. One second they were messing around and the next second it was turning into an awkward, hurried exit. How did that even happen?

Jared groaned and put his hands over his face. Just once, I wish Jensen would tell me what he wants.

 

 *******

As soon as Jensen pulled away from Jared he regretted it. He wanted to stay wrapped into Jared’s warm embrace for much longer than he did. He wanted to sta there forever, if he could. But he had to go and screw it up because he freaked out about using the word love.

Jensen had issues.

Sooner or later Jensen was going to have to man up and actually tell Jared what he was feeling when Jared’s sweet hazel eyes looked at him. The confusion and the desire and the thousand butterflies that flew around in his stomach. The way Jensen’s whole body filled with joy when he made Jared laugh, and the way Jensen wanted to walk into Chris’ party holding Jared’s hand.

Sooner or later, Jensen would tell him. But right now, Jensen had to chicken out. That’s what Jensen was best at. He ran away from his problems and ignored the elephant in the room. Because it was easier, and Jensen always took the easy way out.

Yup, Jensen was a coward.

A coward that couldn’t admit to himself, much less to Jared, that he had more than friendly feelings directed at him too. But it wasn’t love. It definitely wasn’t love, because Jensen wasn’t gay. It was just a little crush that would go away with time.

Jensen felt bad for thinking that as soon as the idea crossed his mind. Jared deserved so much better than Jensen. He deserved a guy that would love him with all his heart and could admit to the world that Jared was the only thing that mattered. That Jared was the first thing he thought of when he got up and the last thing he thought of before he fell asleep. And even when he was asleep images of Jared flashed through his brain.

Jared deserved a guy that could scream that from the rooftops instead of pushing the thoughts to the back of his head.

And fuck, Jensen was going to have to hang out with him for an entire party and pretend like the entire time he didn’t want to drag him to the same bedroom he and Danneel always snuck off to in order to relieve some tension. I am so screwed.

Jensen’s head was in the clouds all throughout football practice, and he certainly wasn’t the only one to acknowledge it. His coach pulled him off twice to ask him where his mind was, and his teammates shot him weird looks every time his throws were so obviously off. At the end Kosterman pulled him off to the side again and said, “Jensen, you know you’re my star quarterback. But unless you pull your head out of your ass, I can’t start you tomorrow.”

Jensen spluttered, “I’m fine, really, I am, I just have a test and then-,”

Kosterman shook his head. “I don’t care what it is. Just figure your shit out so we can win tomorrow.”

One game isn’t that big of a deal, Jensen thought. But regardless of his opinions he said, “You’re right. I’ll stop overthinking things and get my head in the game.” The line from high school musical sent thoughts spinning through his head that had nothing to do with football or cheesy Disney songs.

His coach seemed to notice his train of thought crashed into a brick wall. “Jensen, is there something wrong?”

Yes. “No, coach.”

Kosterman didn’t look like he believed him a bit. “You know you can tell me these things. I care about you kids. Now, is there something wrong?”

I’m falling in love with my tutor. Who is a guy. “Danneel and I broke up.”

“I know. Chris told me.”

Jensen shrugged. “That’s it, I guess.”

Coach Kosterman shook his head. “I know it’s not. But if you want to bottle up your feelings until you crack… I guess there’s nothing I can do to force it out of you.”

He waited around for a few seconds, presumably for Jensen to tell him exactly what was driving him mad. Jensen knew he wasn’t getting out of this one so he just spilled. “Have you ever had feelings for someone you shouldn’t have feelings for? Like, you know it’s wrong but for some reason you just can’t help it?”

Kosterman raised an eyebrow. “This is about your tutor of yours, isn’t it?”

Jensen blushed. “Is it obvious?”

“No,” Kosterman replied. “But I hear your teammates talking. They seem to be of an opinion that he’s not a good influence on you. That he’s too distracting.”

“Well they’re wrong,” Jensen said fiercly. The conviction in his voice surprised him.

Apparently is surprised his coach as well. “I’m not saying anything bad about the guy. What’s his name? Jared Padasomething?”

“Padalecki.”

“Well, if he puts a smile on your face, boy, then I don’t think there’s anything wrong about it.”  

“Even if I might be, you know, gay?”

Kosterman laughed. “You think I care about that? I just want you to be happy.”

“My friends might disagree,” Jensen grumbled.

“Then ignore them.”

“Everyone keeps saying that!” Jensen exclaimed. “It’s not that easy!”

Kosterman sighed. “Are all teenagers so concerned about their reputation? You’re 18, right? Legally an adult. And yet you cower away the minute your reputation is threatened. Does that sound very grown up to you?”

Jensen ignored his patronizing tone. “I’m still in high school. I don’t have to act like an adult yet.”

“The team looks up to you. You’re supposed to be a leader. But right now, you’re acting like a scared preteen girl with a crush.”

Funny, that’s how I feel. “I am not!’ Jensen protested. “I’m acting very mature about this whole situation.”

Kosterman snorted. “I’ll believe it when I see it. Now why don’t you take a second to reflect on something. Chris and all the others, they’ve been your best friends forever, right?” Jensen nodded. “So you think they’d want you to be happy, right?” Jensen nodded again. “So why are you so stressed? Sure, it might take some getting used to on their part, but there’s only a few weeks left in school. I doubt they’d want to spend those weeks fighting about something so stupid.”

Kosterman’s words were the same ones that other people had tried driving through his thick skull for as long as Jensen had been confused about this. But Jensen was too stubborn to believe them. “I’ll think about it.”

“I guess that’s the most I can ask for.”

“It’s more than I’ve promised anyone else,” Jensen retorted. Including Jared.

Kosterman shook his head. “I hope you know what you’re doing, kid.”

Yeah. Me too.

 

 *******

 Jared regretted promising Jensen to go to the game. He was regretting even more promising going to the party. It felt like all day Jensen’s friends were shooting him predatory looks. They couldn’t want to rip into him, to watch him fall into a complete mess in front of the most popular crowd at school.

Jared was just counting on Jensen to save him.

That is, if Jensen still wanted him around after their awkward parting in tutoring yesterday. All throughout first and second period Jared thought about it, and when he got to history he held his breath and hoped that things would be okay.

Danneel managed to get to the classroom before Jensen and when she saw the open seat beside Jared, her eyes flickered maliciously. Jared almost got up and bolted when a heavy book dropped on the seat next to him.

“Sorry,” Gen said without sounding apologetic at all. “But Jensen wanted me to save this seat for him.”  

“Oh did he?” Danneel asked scathingly. “And how do you know that?”

“He texted me,” Gen responded. She opened her phone and showed Danneel something. “Wanted to talk to Jared about the party tonight.”

“Chris’ party?” Danneel said. “He’s not going.”

Gen laughed dryly. “Jensen invited him. Are you going to tell Jensen to back the fuck off and uninvite his friend?”

Danneel scowled. “I don’t approve.”

“Too bad,” Gen said. “It’s not your party.”

“Since when are you on his side? You’re my best friend!”

“And you were Jensen’s. But I don’t think he appreciates you going behind his back to insult Jared. Friends don’t do things like that, Danni.”

Danneel looked between Gen and Jared and then stalked to the back of the classroom.

“Thanks,” Jared muttered.

“Yeah, well, Jensen wanted it,” Gen explained. “It sounded important.”

Jared bit his lip to stop a smile from forming. “Cool.”

Gen snickered. “Here he comes.”

Jensen stumbled in the doorway looking like he ran from second period. He saw the book in the seat beside Jared and smiled gratefully at Gen. “Thanks, I owe you.” He handed her the book and sat beside Jared. “So, do you want a ride to the party tonight?”

Jared stared open mouthed at him. “What?”

Jensen rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Also I—I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have run out there like that. I just, I’m sort of—sorry.”

Jared smiled. “Apology accepted. And about the party…”

Jensen glared at him. “You’re going.”

Jared traced circles on the desk. “What if-,”

“No ‘what if’s’,” Jensen said. “I promise, I won’t let a thing go wrong. I’ve been stupid enough with you already. I’m not going to do it again. I’m not going to screw up.”

For a second, Jared wasn’t sure if Jensen was talking to Jared or himself.  So Jared only nodded and tried to listen to what Edlund was rambling about. Unfortunately Jensen was being very distracting. Jensen tapped his pencil on his desk and hummed under his breath, reminding Jared of his sexy voice. He leaned back in his chair and when he stretched, a sliver of toned skin was revealed. God, Jared was practically drooling.

Jensen leaned over to whisper in Jared’s ear and shivers shot up Jared’s spine. “So, do you want to wait for me after the game so we can go to the party together?”

Oh god yes. “Um, sure. Sounds good.”

Jensen beamed at him. “It might take a little bit; I’ve got to take a shower and put my equipment away and stuff. But I’ll meet you at the top of the bleachers by the announcers box?”

Jared nodded. “Sounds good.”

“Cool,” Jensen replied with a grin. “It’s a date.”

Jensen resumed his task of drumming his pencil on the desk and humming to a song Jared couldn’t hear. He had to calm down right the fuck now or his jeans wouldn’t be able to hide how much he liked Jensen leaning over so his lips barely brushed against Jared’s ear.

Yeah, it wasn’t working. As long as Jensen didn’t look down, Jared could conceal his enjoyment of Jensen’s impossibly green eyes and his bright smile. So it was just his luck that the pencil Jensen was rhythmically tapping fell out of Jensen’s hand and onto the floor. Under the desk. Where Jared was trying to conceal his hard on.

Jared didn’t realize the situation until Jensen was actually under the desk to grab the pencil. Jensen didn’t seem to notice anything, he just grabbed his pencil and then grabbed onto Jared’s knee to help push him back into his chair.

But of course, Jensen’s hand had to slip.

Into Jared’s lap.

And Jared froze.

Jensen didn’t say anything, just moved his hand to Jared’s thigh and pushed himself up into his seat. But he noticed Jared’s frozen stance and smiled kindly at him. “Jay, relax.”

“Relax? I am relaxed,” Jared squeaked.

Jensen rolled his eyes. “Dude, are you forgetting I’m a guy too? It happens. I’m not going to freak out.”

“You’re not?” Jared’s voice was an octave too high.

Jensen shook his head. “No more doing stupid things, remember?”

“Oh, yeah. That.” Jared knew he was blushing.

Jensen chuckled. “You gonna calm down now? And believe that I’m not going to run away because of… that?” His eyes flicked to Jared’s lap.

And that didn’t help Jared’s blush at all. “Yeah, okay.”

Jensen’s hand slipped into Jared’s. “No more stupid things.”

Jared finally returned his smile. “Yeah. No more stupid things.” His voice came out shaky and unsure but the smile Jensen gave him was totally worth it.

 

 ****** 

Jensen had his mind made up. Tonight at the party he was going to tell Jared how he really felt about him. He would be in post-football game euphoria and maybe have a few beers in him. Then he would tell Jared exactly the way Jensen felt around him and hopefully get another kiss. Because even though Jensen reacted like a scared kitten the first time they kissed, it was amazing. Hot. And Jensen really wanted another.

It gave him a surprising amount of confidence. All throughout tutoring Jared had looked at him funny and at one point, asked him why he was bouncing up and down like he’d had too much caffeine. Jensen merely told him he was excited for the game and buried himself in calc homework.

And now Jensen was standing on the football field in anxious anticipation for the beginning of the football game. He scanned the crowds, looking for a too-tall boy with shaggy hair and a bright smile. Finally Jensen found Jared, who was sitting in the back of the crowd looking slightly uncomfortable. Jensen stared at him until Jared’s eyes flicked to the field and met Jensen’s. The tension seemed to rush out of Jared’s body and a smile danced across his face. Jensen beamed back at him and he heard a laugh from beside him.

Steve was shaking his head fondly at him. “You look like a lovesick puppy,” Steve teased.

Jensen shoved him. “Shut up. I do not.”

“You do, but we can pretend you look manly if it makes you feel better.”

“I hate you.”

“I know.”

Jensen’s eyes returned to Jared and felt a rush of confidence flow through him when Jared’s familiar smile brightened his features. Jensen could almost see his hazel eyes, which would probably be more blue than green or brown because they always were more blue at night.

Not that Jensen obsessed over Jared’s eyes or anything. Not at all.

He was slightly pathetic. Jensen shook himself out and focused his attention back on the field. The game would start soon and Jensen needed all his attention to be on winning. On making his school proud, and proving that a little gay freak-out wasn’t going to break his concentration. He was still the quarterback.

When the whistle blew signaling the beginning of the game, Jensen watched the football be kicked across the field and ran to meet it. Jensen caught it and looked up for Chris who was supposed to be running down the sidelines but—damn—he was guarded. This team was even bigger than last weeks team. There was no way they were in high school.

They game was aggressive, more aggressive than other games. Jensen knew their school had an infamous reputation. People called them stuck up because their football team was the best in the area and every time they played a game, the opponent was looking to take them down a peg.

It fucking sucked.

Jensen was secretly grateful when the opposing team gained control and defense was going to come on. Jensen hobbled off and fell, exhausted, onto the bench. The trainer handed him a water bottle and Jensen drank from it gratefully.

His eyes went to the stands again and found Jared. He wasn’t watching the game like Jensen expected, instead he was looking at Jensen. Jensen smiled when Jared blushed at being caught and smiled brightly at him. Jared returned the smile and gestured at the game like he was saying, getting rough out there.

Jensen shrugged. It was all part of football. If you weren’t prepared to get knocked around, it wasn’t the sport for you. Though Jensen still thought Jared could send the other team running scared just by the sheer size of the muscles in his arms.

Can’t think about that. This is not the time to get turned on.

Jensen watched their defense hold the team well away from their end zone. It was the third down and the other team hadn’t managed to go more than two yards. Tom took down a guy hard and Jensen winced at the way the player hit the ground. He was going to feel that tomorrow. But Tom had always been overly aggressive. A good player, but too aggressive in Jensen’s opinion.

Jensen glanced at the scoreboard. They were winning by quite a margin, and the other team was starting to get mad. Jensen bit his lip. He didn’t want a repeat of last week because getting the wind knocked out of him hurt.

When the game wound to a close, Jensen’s team won 42-6.

Jensen showered faster than he would have liked too and threw his uniform haphazardly in his locker. Once his regular clothes were on and his hair was partially dry Jensen jogged to the top of the bleachers where Jared was waiting. Gen was talking to him and Jensen just watched for a minute as Jared threw back his head and laughed. He laughed with his whole body and the butterflies Jensen had managed to conceal came fluttering back.

Dammit.

Jared turned to see Jensen and smiled that brilliant, bright smile that didn’t hide any emotion. It showed happiness and friendship and trust and it spurred Jensen into motion again. He ran the last few steps and into Gen’s waiting arms.

“Nice game, gorgeous,” Gen teased. “Didn’t get knocked around too much this time.”

Jensen grinned. “I’ve got a good group of guys to keep me safe. Oh and Gen… Tom wants to get you into bed tonight. Heads up.”

Gen grinned at Jared. “I’ll just have my knight in shining armor protect me.” Jared smiled down at her and Jensen felt an odd pang of jealousy. He knew Jared liked him. There was no reason to be jealous.

Jensen shook it off. “You ready to go, knight in shining armor?”

Jared chuckled. “Does that make you a princess?”

“Fuck off,” Jensen said without malice. “Let’s go. See you at the party, Gen.”

“Bye, boys!” Gen chirped.

Jensen led Jared to his car and suddenly felt self conscious. What if Jared thought his car was too fancy? God, he shouldn’t have taken the BMW, what was he thinking? But when Jared got to the car he said, “Dude, this is awesome!”

Jensen kicked the ground. “Is it too much?”

Jared ran his hand over the silver exterior. “No way. It’s awesome.”

“Buy a thesaurus, Einstein. You already said that.”

Jared smirked. “It’s magnificent. A carriage fit for a princess.”

Jensen shoved him playfully. “Get in.”

When they arrived at the party lights were already flashing inside and music was pulsing so loud Jensen could feel it in his bones. Jared looked slightly green and Jensen squeezed his shoulder. “Relax.”

Jared nodded. “Here goes nothing.”

 

 ******

Jared followed Jensen into the party like an obedient puppy dog. It’s not too late to run away, Jared thought. But Jensen smiled at him and Jared felt his feet wandering after Jensen despite his anxiety.

Jensen pushed open the door and Jared scolded his feet for being tricked by Jensen’s brilliant smile.

Furniture was pushed to the sides to create a makeshift dance floor. Everyone seemed to hold a red solo cup or a beer and people were unashamedly grinding against each other. Jensen acted like nothing was the matter but Jared stood frozen in the doorway.

Jensen tugged on his hand. “Jay, relax. I won’t leave your side. Unless you get sick of me and shove me out the door.” Jensen winked.

Jared gulped. “This isn’t exactly my crowd.”

Jensen moved closer and in a gentler tone he said, “Neither was I. But hey, look, we’re friends now. Give it a chance. For me? And we’ll leave whenever you want.”

“Can we leave now?”

Jensen rolled his eyes and pulled Jared into the group of horny teenagers. “And they say I’m the coward.”

Jared huffed and pushed in front of Jensen. “I’m not a coward.”

“Okay, Jare, you’re very manly. Very brave. Gen’s knight in armor, remember?”

“Shining armor, Jen,” Jared corrected. Jensen laughed.

Jensen was surrounded by people the minute they realized he was there. Jared watched as girls hugged him and flirted shamelessly and guys clapped him on the back and congratulated him on another great game. Chris ran over and said loudly, “Jensen Ackles is here! Oh, I’m swooning!”

Jensen laughed. “You’re drunk already, asshole.”

Chris threw an arm around his friend. “Not drunk. Just a little tipsy.” He finally noticed Jared. “And you brought a friend.”

Jensen grinned at Jared. “I’m trying to get him out of the house.”

Chris shrugged. “Well I’ve got enough alcohol in me that I don’t care. Can I get you guys a beer?”

Jensen shook his head. “Last time my hangover wrecked me. I’m staying sober tonight.” He looked at Jared. “Jay?”

Jared bit his lip. He could either look like an idiot in front of Jensen or an idiot in front of Chris. “Um, maybe one.”

Chris grinned and Jared swore he saw evil in his eyes. “Coming up, Padalecki.”

Jensen eyed him cautiously. “You don’t have to drink.”

“It’s just one beer.”

Jensen smiled in agreement but the caution didn’t leave his eyes. Jared felt a little miffed at Jensen’s belief he had to baby Jared and when he spotted Gen at the other end of the room, talking with Sophia, he said, “I’m going to go say hey to Gen, okay?”

Jensen nodded. “Want me to come with?”

“I think I can cross the room on my own,” Jared snapped. He didn’t mean for it to come out so nastily but Jensen simply raised an eyebrow and let Jared walk away.

Five minutes in and he’d already fucked up. He was sulking by the time he reached Gen. She noticed and punched his shoulder. “Brighten up, gorgeous.” She handed him a beer. “Chris seemed to believe I’d have better luck finding you than him. Which is code for ‘I want to sneak off with a girl’.”

Jared took a sip of the bitter amber liquid. “Hey, Sophia.”

Sophia smiled blindingly at him. “Hey, Jared,” She cooed.

Jared smiled hesitantly back. “Nice to see you again.”

Sophia put a hand on Jared’s arm. “I’ve been meaning to ask you to hang out.”

Jared blinked. Her tone was a little more than friendly. Jared met Gen’s eyes and she seemed to be holding back laughter. Oh right. Sophia doesn’t know I’m gay. Jared opened her mouth to say something but Sophia was already talking a mile a minute.

“So, I think next football game you should come hang out with the cheerleaders. You already know Gen and me and you could talk to us in the middle of our cheers. And maybe after practice sometime we could go out and get a bite to eat.”

“Like a date?” Jared asked.

She shrugged. “Whatever you want. If you want it to be a date, it can be a date.”

Jared didn’t know what to say. “Look, Sophia-,” How do you say I’m in love with a guy?

Sophia was already focusing her attention elsewhere, squealing and pointing at the corner of the room. Chris and Steve had their guitars out and Gen moaned. “Fuck. Chris is so drunk. This should be good.”

“I wish Jensen was singing with them,” Sophia said. “He’s got such a pretty voice. Like honey.”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed thoughtlessly. Gen shot him a look but didn’t comment on it.

“I’ll be right back,” Gen said quickly. Before Jared could ask where she was going, Gen was gone. Chris and Steve started singing and Jared grudgingly admitted that Chris had a nice voice. Not as nice as Jensen’s, but he was okay.

Not that Jared would ever tell him that. Chris’ ego didn’t need any more inflating.

Sophia had started talking to him again. Jared tried to listen and felt like a horrible person for not being able to focus on whatever Sophia was saying. So he nodded along to her cheerleading stories and was grateful Sophia didn’t need any comments from Jared thrown in.

A tap on the microphone caught Jared’s attention. Chris said, his voice slightly slurred from alcohol, “We’re going to welcome up my best friend. Got tricked—I mean persuaded—into this by the wonderful Gen-Genevieve Cortese.” Jared looked around for who it might be. His mouth fell open in startled delight when Jensen climbed up beside Chris, blushing and smiling shyly.

It was the cutest thing Jared had ever seen. 

Jensen took his place at his own microphone. “Just want all of you to know that I hate Chris. And Gen. And Steve, purely because he couldn’t talk the other two assholes out of this. So screw you guys.” Jensen smiled as he spoke. “So, here goes nothing.”

Jared watched Jensen fiddle with his guitar and then beamed at him when green eyes glanced up at him. Jensen looked calmer and began to play along with his two friends. Jared got completely lost in Jensen’s voice and couldn’t even pretend to pay attention to what Sophia was saying.

When Jensen finished the song, Jared’s bones felt like jelly. His eyes had stayed on Jared for almost the entire song and Jared liked the smile Jensen wore when he sang. It was more relaxed than his other smiles. Calmer. Jared pushed through the crowds to congratulate him but a girl with flaming red hair beat Jared to it.

Danneel’s arms slid around Jensen’s neck and Jared held his breath, praying for Jensen to push her away. But after a few soft words, Jensen smiled back and even laughed. His arms were around Danneel’s waist and he hugged her tight.

All the air rushed out of Jared’s lungs and he stumbled backwards, watching Danneel and Jensen laugh and hold each other.

Sophia was behind him and stabled him. “Woah, cowboy.”

“Sorry,” Jared mumbled. “Lost my footing.”

“Well, you’re so tall it doesn’t surprise me,” Sophia teased. “But hey, it’s a good look on you.”

Jared smiled briefly but couldn’t keep it on his face. She noticed and asked softly, “Are you okay?”

“I-maybe not,” Jared admitted.

Sophia frowned sympathetically. “You wanna talk?”

Jared’s eyes flicked at Jensen and Danneel. They were still wound around each other. “Not really.”

Sophia didn’t press it. “Want me to help you feel better?”
Jared looked confused. “How?”

Sophia’s arms went around Jared’s neck, which was a stretch for her. Jared put his hands tentatively on her hips. Sophia smiled slyly up at him. “Like this.” And her lips were on Jared’s and she was kissing him and Jared was kissing her back and what the hell was he doing?

Jared pulled back gently but Sophia didn’t look offended. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Sophia said with a blush.

Jared smiled. “S’okay. Actually…” Jared leaned forward. “It’s kind of nice.”

Sophia pushed his lips against his again, harder and she let her hands tangle in Jared’s hair. His arms went around her tiny waist and they kissed like that, wrapped entirely around each other and hell, Jared was gay, but kissing was kissing and Sophia wasn’t half bad.

Sophia pulls away this time. “You know, Chris has empty bedrooms upstairs…”

Every part of his brain was screaming for him to say no, to say that he loved Jensen and that this would be a horrifically bad idea. But what came out was, “Sounds great.”

Sophia beamed and Jared followed her to the staircase, swallowing the last of his beer. But Jared made the mistake of looking back at Jensen. Danneel was standing by his side looking—was it—angry? But it looked more like she was upset with Jared, holding Jensen protectively. And when Jared’s eyes met Jensen’s, he saw confusion and hurt and no sparkle.

Pained green eyes followed Jared into a bedroom, Sophia shutting the door behind them. 

Chapter Text

Jensen watched Sophia drag Jared upstairs. He saw them practically eat each other’s faces, the kiss more passionate and hungry than the one he and Jared shared in the bathroom. Jensen stays frozen to the spot and lets Danneel rub his back soothingly. Jensen can’t find words so he let’s Danneel murmur things like, “It’s okay” and “Deep breaths, honey” into his ear.

But Jensen can’t breath. Jensen can’t breath because he sang to Jared. He watched Jared and he saw his hazel eyes light up with a smile. Jensen’s next step was to walk over to Jared and the words, I like you too were on the tip of his tongue. But then Jared is sucking on Sophia’s face and Jensen’s entire world is falling on top of him and crushing him.

Jensen grabs blindly until he finds Danni’s wrist. “Danni.”

Danneel’s arms wrap around him. “Deep breaths. Breath, honey. Breath, sweetheart.”

Jensen buried his face in her soft hair. He missed her so much. He missed her friendship. When she came up to him and said she was willing to make an effort with Jensen’s feelings for Jared and wanted to be friends again—just friends, because she still loved Jensen like a brother despite their rough break up—Jensen felt like all the pieces were falling into place. He was friends with Danni, and he was going to tell Jared how he felt.

And then Jared was kissing Sophia and they were going into the bedrooms where only one thing ever happened.

Sex.

“Can we go home?” Jensen asked into Danni’s hair.

Danneel nodded. “Come on, baby. I’ll drive.”

Jensen handed her the keys to the car. Sophia could fucking drive Jared home, screw him. Screw him for leading him on and making him think there was something there. Anger crashed through his body and Jensen grabbed a cup of what was probably a combination of too many kinds of alcohol as the pair walked out the door.

Jensen tasted the cross combination of tequila and margarita mix and whiskey and almost coughed it back up. But he drowned the rest of the cup. “Screw sobriety,” Jensen muttered.

Danneel rubbed his arm and helped him into his car. “Let’s go home.”

“Will you stay the night?” Jensen asked.

Danneel bit her lip. “Jensen…”

“Just as friends,” Jensen said quickly. “I just don’t want to be alone.”

Danneel’s features softened and she nodded. “Whatever you need.”

Jensen hugs her before climbing into the car. “You’re the best.”

Danneel laughs. “I think we work better as friends. And Jensen, I really am sorry. For the way I treated you and Jared. Though I’m not itching to apologize to him right now. No one makes my best friend upset.”

Jensen let out a humorless laugh. “I’ll recover.”

“Yeah. Well let’s go to your house and watch horror movies and eat ourselves sick on ice cream.”

Jensen swallowed. “Sounds nice.”

That’s exactly what the end up doing. They stagger into the house and Jensen ignores Mack’s curious looks. Jensen just locks himself in the movie room with Danneel and tubs of chocolate and cookie dough ice cream.

“What movie do you want to watch?” Danneel asked.

“Something that will keep me up,” Jensen replied.

Danneel looked at him funnily. “What?”

“Don’t wanna sleep.”

“Why?”

Because when I do, I dream of Jared. “Just don’t want to.”

Danneel seemed to understand his reasoning despite Jensen’s refusing to admit it. She just ate another cold spoonful of cookie dough and relaxed into the couch.

Jensen curled into her side. “I like being friends.”

“Me too,” Danneel agreed. “We were so stupid in our relationship.”

“Do you think—do you think that maybe it could have worked?” Jensen asked.

Danneel was quite for a minute. “We tried so hard. Too hard. Relationships should be easy. You shouldn’t have to go out of your way to smile or strike up a conversation.”

“But relationships are worth fighting for,” Jensen pointed out. “Maybe I didn’t fight hard enough.”

Danneel stroked his hair. “Baby, you fought all you could. We just work better as friends. You belong with someone you love entirely. Someone that makes you smile and laugh as easy as breathing.”

Someone like Jared. Before he decided it would be more fun to make out with Sophia. “I thought he was gay.”

Danneel didn’t ask who he was talking about. She just knew. “Maybe he’s bi?” She suggested. “Or maybe…”

Jensen looked at her. “What?”

Danneel sighed. “Maybe he thought if he couldn’t have you, at least he’d have someone.”

“But he did have me!” Jensen cried indignantly.

“Did he know that?”

Jensen thought about it. He must have. But Jensen never told him and for someone with a GPA as perfect as Jared, he could be pretty thick sometimes. “I don’t know.”

Danneel sighed. “Boys can be really stupid sometimes.”

Jensen groaned. “Do you want to be my life tutor?”

“Your life tutor?”

“Steve said I needed a life tutor.”

Danneel laughed. “Sure, Jensen, I’ll be your life tutor.”

Jensen smiled weakly. “Awesome.” He sniffed. “Can you tell me how to stop feeling so crappy?”

“Time heals all wounds,” Danni said gently. “I can kick his ass if you want.”

Jensen shook his head. “Just wanna die. I feel like I’m dying.”

Danneel wrapped her arms around him. “Come on, baby, let’s watch the movie. See if you can relax a little.”

Jensen sniffed and tried to ignore the burning feeling of tears threatening to spill over. He was not going to cry over Jared Padalecki. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Danneel was right. Time heals all wounds. And Jensen was going to press that process along a little bit.

Jensen was done with Jared.

 **** 

Sophia dragged Jared up the stairs and shut the bedroom door behind them. Jared’s brain was sending off signal after signal of wrongwrongwrong, but Jared couldn’t pull himself away.

But every time Jared blinked he saw Jensen’s sorrowful green eyes, looking like Jared betrayed him. Jared felt frustrated. Jared didn’t do a damn thing to deserve Jensen looking at him like that. He cupped Sophia’s face and kissed her heavily to try and stifle the feelings of regret flooding his body.

It didn’t help, but the clash of teeth and the sting his lips tingled with helped distract him for a little bit.

Sophia grabbed him and pushed him onto the bed. “You’re fucking sexy, you know that?” Sophia purred.

Jared’s only response was a moan when Sophia’s hand cupped Jared’s dick through his jeans. Yeah, he was gay, but it still felt good.  Maybe if he closed his eyes he could imagine it was Jensen’s hand.

Jared let his eyelids flutter shut and imagined it was a deeper, honey sweet voice telling him how sexy he looked, how long he’d wanted to do this. And then Sophia’s hands were slipped Jared’s jeans off and then his boxers. Jared gave a sharp intake of breath but Sophia kissed him until he relaxed again. He kept his eyes shut and tried not to think that he was making a huge mistake.

When Sophia’s mouth went around him Jared couldn’t hide his shock. He gasped and jerked and Sophia pulled off with a pop. “First blowjob?”
Jared nodded shakily. “Uh, sorry.”

Sophia waved his apology off. “No worries.”

Sophia went back down on him and Jared closed his eyes, half in bliss, half in regret. Eventually guilt won over and he eased Sophia off. “Soph…”

Sophia looked at him through her dark hair. “What’s wrong?”

“I—it’s complicated.”

Sophia had a knowing look in her eye. “I’m not who you’d like to be with right now, am I?”

Jared blushed. “It’s not your fault. I’m gay.”

Sophia smiled. “I kinda guessed. Figured it was worth a try but apparently… not.” She cocked her head. “It’s Jensen, isn’t it? The guy you like?”

Jared blushed. “Is it obvious?”

Sophia shrugged. “Just the way you look at him. The way he smiles at you.” It was Sophia’s turn to blush. “I never should have tried to get in the middle of that.”

Jared decided it wasn’t smart to point out one of Sophia’s friends didn’t have a problem with it. “He doesn’t feel the same way.”

Sophia laughed. “You think so? Jared, when you’re in the room you’re the only thing Jensen looks at.”

“It can’t—there’s no way. I’m not that lucky.”

Sophia sat on the bed beside Jared. “A blind guy couldn’t miss the way Jensen feels about you.”

Jared swung his legs back and forth. He’d do anything to believe it. “Do you really think that?”

“Course I do.”

Jared was about to respond when the door burst open and Gen stood there, nostrils flaring. “Out, Soph,” Gen growled. Gen’s tone left no room for protest and Sophia darted out. Gen’s fiery eyes turned to him. “You’ve got some serious explaining to do.”

“Nothing happened!” Jared exclaimed. Gen eyed Jared’s abandoned pants on the floor. “Okay, something might have happened.”

“Put your pants on,” Gen said. “We’re leaving.”

“Jensen-,”

“Jensen’s gone,” Gen snapped. “Ran out of here as soon as he saw you attacking Sophia’s face.”

“What? Why?”

“Are you fucking kidding?” Gen said exasperatedly. “After all this time you still can’t piece together how he feels about you?”
“I mean, I suspected, but-,”

“But nothing. He thinks—oh, I don’t know what he thinks, but congrats, he’s gone. Thinks you’re sleeping with Sophia. And by the looks of it, you almost did.”

Jared slips his jeans back on. “Let’s just go.”

Gen didn’t meet his eyes again until they were in her car. She then turned to look at him and said, “What the hell were you thinking?”
“I was thinking Danneel was grinding against Jensen and I was pissed!” Jared exclaimed. “Sophia was right there and she was kissing me and… and I dunno. It just all happened.”

Gen snorted. “It just happened? Really? That’s the best you can come up with?”

“I don’t know what else to say!”

“Well first off,” Gen growled, “Danneel was talking to Jensen about being friends again. They were sorting things out so they could go back to the way they were before they started dating. Jensen’s crazy about you. Second of all, you weren’t even drunk. So tell me what was happening in your thick, thick skull, and not ‘it just happened’.”

Jared spilled everything, how he thought Jensen and Danneel were hooking up and he didn’t want to look at it, how he felt horrible about getting together with Sophia but he couldn’t help it. He just wanted an escape. How Sophia pulled off and fuck now Jared was stuck with an erection but at least he didn’t do something that he’d hate himself for in the morning. “…And I really just want Jensen, because I like him so much and he’s probably pissed or thinking that I like Sophia,” Jared finished.

Gen stared at him blankly. “You really fucked up.”

“That’s what you have to say?”

Gen shrugged. “You hurt Jensen. I might be an unbiased party in this lover’s spat, but it doesn’t mean I’m okay with seeing my friend in pain.”

Jared’s mouth fell open. “I hurt Jensen? Me?”

“Apparently watching the guy you like, who you thought was gay and liked you too, make out with a girl can hurt you pretty bad,” Gen said sarcastically. “Who knew?”

Jared felt worse than he already did. He thought Jensen was jealous, which was kind of hot. But hurt? Oh god, he saw the pain in Jensen’s eyes. There’s no mistaking that for jealousy. “I’m an asshole,” Jared groaned. His head hit the dashboard with a thunk.

Gen patted his back. “You are. But we’re going to fix things.”

“How? I royally fucked up.”

“Jensen’s my friend. And he’s nuts about you. You’ve hit a little bump in the road, that happens. We’ll just have to pave it over and keep going.”

“Let’s go to his house!” Jared suggested.

Gen shook her head. “Not tonight, gorgeous. He needs his space for now. Once he cools down you’ll have an easier time getting through to him.”

“What if he won’t speak to me?”

“You try again,” Gen said. “Because Jensen is worth fighting for. So unless you’d rather roll over and admit defeat, man up and work things out.”

Jared groaned. “Danneel looked like she wanted to kill me.”

“She might. So I should probably get her out of the way before you try and talk to him.”

“You know, this isn’t building up my confidence,” Jared told her.

“I’m an unbiased party and I’m simply laying out the facts.”

“Do I have a chance of actually getting Jensen to forgive me?” Jared asked.

Gen nodded. “He’s a big softie. He’ll probably avoid you because he knows the second he sees you he’ll forgive you.”

Jared felt slightly reassured by this, but the prospect of Jensen ignoring him wasn’t something he wanted to dwell on. “So what do I do?”

Gen rolled her eyes. “You’re not a baby and I’m not your parent. You dug this hole, you’ve gotta pull yourself out.”

“Alone?”

“You’re a big boy. You can do it.”

“You’ve known Jensen longer!” Jared protested. “It’ll be easier for you!”

“True, but I’m not the one that broke his heart,” Gen pointed out. Jared felt like crap just hearing her say it out loud.

“I didn’t know,” he whispered. “I was wrong.”

“You were. And now you’re going to make it right. See how this works?”

Jared nodded robotically. “Where are we going?”

“Home. Thought you might need some sleep after tonight’s excitement.”

Jared sank gratefully into the seat, exhaustion finally hitting him. “I think I need to sleep for a week.”

Gen sighed. “Tomorrow. Text Jensen. Straighten this yucky mess out.”

“He’ll have cooled off by tomorrow?”

“Sleep always calms him down,” Gen explained. “He’ll sleep for a while tonight and then his head will be on straight in the morning.”

Jared hoped Gen was right. Jared briefly entertained the idea of not having Jensen and it felt like a knife carved a hole in his chest. Jared stopped thinking about it after that.

Jared hugged Gen goodbye when they reached his house and she murmured a quick, “Good luck” into his ear. Jared waved Megan off when she asked how the party was and thankfully she didn’t push it.

Jared flopped on the bed with his back pointed towards the ceiling. His arms wrapped around a pillow and pretended that it was a tall quarterback with piercing green eyes. Jared sniffed and clung to the pillow tighter. “God, Jensen, I’m so sorry.” The fabric muffled his words. Even Jared could hear how pointless it was. Jensen wasn’t here to hear Jared’s apology and what good would a few words do?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

 *****

Jensen didn’t want to sleep. Danni fell asleep a little while back but Jensen kept his eyes pried open and focused on the screen. He watched the credits for every movie and felt his eyes slip shut a few times. He snapped them open and rubbed at them, feeling the sting of dry eyes.

Some point, it could have been around 2 am, Jensen felt the tears he’d been hiding finally fall from his eyes. He blamed it on the movie, which was some Disney flick Mack bought—they’d run out of horror movies—and Disney was always sad. But once the tears started they couldn’t stop. A few drops turned to sobs and soon his body was shaking. He didn’t want to wake Danni up but he couldn’t control how loud they were and soon he felt her arms wrap snugly around him. Her tired brown eyes looked up at him sadly and she snuggled into his body. He wiped his eyes and finally drifted into restless sleep.

 

Jensen bolted up around noon. A nightmare dragged him out of sleep. Jared was being taken by some weird monster in the horror movie they watched last night and no matter how hard Jensen kicked or screamed he couldn’t reach him. Jensen felt wetness on his cheeks and realized he was crying again. “Fucking hell.”

Danni opened the door to the dark room and Jensen realized she’d left. “Finally awake?”

Jensen scrubbed at his eyes. “I think so.”

“Well good morning. Or good afternoon, actually.” Danni handed him a plate filled with bacon and eggs. “I warmed up some breakfast for you. And Mack made coffee.” She handed him a warm mug.

Jensen smiled gratefully. “Thanks. Thank you both.”

Danneel sat beside him. “So, I was gonna suggest we talk about it, but I can pretty much sum up what happened myself.”

“Not much to say. I had a gay crisis, now I have a crush on Jared, and he made out with Sophia last night.” Jensen stabbed at his eggs. “And I feel like shit. Or worse. I feel like death.”

Danni rubbed his back. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

Jensen looked at her. “Did I hurt you? When we broke up, did I hurt you?” Danni was quiet for a moment and Jensen hugged her tight. “I can’t believe I was so stupid.”

“I knew it was coming,” Danneel murmured. “I wasn’t exactly girlfriend of the year.”

“But you are my best friend. And I hurt you. Maybe I deserve to feel like this for hurting you, and punching Chris, and being an asshole for so long,” Jensen said. “Maybe this is karma.”

Danneel punched him in the arm, not gently. “Jensen Ackles, fucking listen to me. You don’t deserve this. You’re the last person in the world to deserve this. I knew we weren’t a good couple and I still dragged you into the relationship. Chris was an asshole to the guy you liked. In case you haven’t noticed, your friends have been complete dicks and you still put up with us. You deserve happiness and once again the universe fucked you over.”

Jensen didn’t know if he felt better or worse at her words. “Where did it all go so wrong?” He whispered. “Where did things become so damn difficult?”

Danneel rubbed his arm where she punched him. “I think it just sort of… happened. If we—I wasn’t so wrapped up in myself, things could have been easier. You were the only one that saw how sucky things were. How selfish your friends were. God, we took you for granted. I didn’t deserve you. Even for a week I didn’t deserve you, and I got you for 3 ½ years.”

Jensen smiled weakly. “Let’s chalk it up to us being stupid and move past it.”

Danni kissed his cheek. “There you go again, being perfect.”

Jensen laughed, but the loud doorbell drowned it out. Danneel frowned. “I’ll get it. Wait here. And eat.”

Jensen nodded and finished his breakfast, no matter how sick to his stomach he felt. Each bite tasted like ash. He heard voices in the hallway and they sounded vaguely familiar. “Danni! Who is it?”

The door slid open and Chris and Steve stood next to Danni. “Hey,” Chris said. His voice was kinder than Jensen had ever heard it. “You ran out pretty quick so we came to see if you were okay.”

“You’re not hungover?” Jensen said, bewildered.

Chris chuckled. “No. I’ve got a wicked hangover. But the worst has passed and you’re more important than some stupid headache.”

Steve smiled. “Lies. I had to drag his stupid ass out of bed and bribe him with coffee.”

Chris punched him. “No one had to drag me. I jumped up willingly. It’s for Jennybean, so I got right on it.”

Steve and Chris began arguing and Jensen found himself laughing. “Thanks for coming,” Jensen said honestly. “I’m kind of a mess.”

“Do you need us to beat someone up?” Chris asked. Jensen heard the name that he didn’t say. His eyes misted over but there was no way in hell he was going to cry in front of Chris. Past history showed Chris wouldn’t mind, he’d even comfort Jensen, but he always got angry at the source. Jensen didn’t really want him storming off to threaten Jared.

Okay, maybe a little.

But Jensen just patted the couch beside him. “I’m thinking today is a movie marathon day.”

Steve, Chris, and Danni plopped down on the couch. “Good idea,” Steve said.

“I concur.”

“Wow, didn’t know you knew the meaning of that word, Chris,” Jensen teased. Chris tickled his sides in retaliation and Jensen squirmed away.

Steve jumped up and dug through Jensen’s movie collection. “What are you in the mood for? Horror? Thriller? A classic serial killer movie?”

Danneel groaned. “We watched horror all last night! Let’s watch Disney.”

Chris hit her with a pillow. “I love Jensen, but not enough to watch some lame Disney chick flick.”

Steve held up The Little Mermaid. “Come on, Chris, you know you have a thing for Ariel.”

Chris threw the pillow at Steve. “I hate you all.”

Jensen laughed. “Whatever. Cinderella is better.”

Steve glared. “Snow White, man!”

“Are all three of you gay or just Jensen?” Danneel scoffed.

Chris pounced on Jensen and smothered him with kisses. “I can’t help my love for Jensen. He’s just so attractive.”

Jensen shoved him off. “I’ve got much better taste. And when did we decide I was gay?”

“When you-,” Chris stopped. “Um, never mind. Let’s just watch the Little Mermaid.”

Jensen already felt his smile becoming forced and he gripped a pillow tighter than necessary. “Sounds good.” It’s not like he’d pay that much attention to the movie anyway. Jensen’s mind had already wandered to Jared.

Steve noticed it and he curled up on Jensen. “You’re a comfortable pillow, Jennybean.”

For once, Jensen didn’t push him away. If anything he held on tighter.

 ***** 

Gen stayed the night, which made him believe that she wasn’t actually unbiased. She was definitely rooting for Jared to get with Jensen no matter how many times she “accidentally” kicked Jared in sleep.

He woke up early and had been staring at his phone ever sense. His thumb hovered over Jensen’s contact and he’d even typed out messages several times. But he’d never been brave enough to hit send. Gen groaned around noon. “You’re thinking too loud. Just send the damn message.”

“How long have you been awake?” Jared asked.

“Long enough to know you’ve typed a hundred messages and sent a total of zero. I’m starting to think you’re as much of a coward as Jensen.”

“Jensen’s not a coward,” Jared defended automatically. “He’s just… shy.”

Gen rolled over so she was facing Jared. “I bet you 50 bucks he’s sitting at home and moping about how much he misses you. And of course Danneel will be there with him because since second grade she’s been the one person that can make Jensen feel better. Chris and Steve might be there but Chris will have a wicked hangover from the party. And he’ll complain about watching Disney movies but he secretly loves them because horror freaks him out.” Gen grinned when Jared stared in bewilderment at her. “We’ve been friends for a while.”

“Yeah, I can tell,” Jared muttered. “Wish I had someone like that.”

“You do. In case you’ve forgotten, you managed to get to know Jensen inside and out and the shortest amount of time ever. And then you went and fucked it up but you’re going to fix it.” She sighed. “And I guess I’m stuck helping your ass.”

“Hate to torture you like this,” Jared drawled. “Here I was under the impression you wanted me and Jensen to get together.”

“I don’t want to clean up messes for blind teenage boys for the rest of high school,” Gen clarified. “Which right now includes you and Jensen.”

“What if-,” Jared didn’t want to finish the sentence. “What if he doesn’t forgive me?”

“Then you go to college and forget he ever existed.” Gen rolled her eyes at Jared’s horrified expression. “I’m kidding. Of course he’ll forgive you. Just give it a little time. And, um, you might want to avoid Chris. He goes into mama bear mode when Jensen is upset.”

“Oh, great, because Chris didn’t hate me enough as it was,” Jared said sarcastically. “I just had to go and break his best friend’s heart.”

Gen frowned. “Stop whining. You’re not going to fix this sitting around.”

“How am I going to fix it?”

“Well for starters, sending a text isn’t going to do anything. Actions speak louder than words. Especially with Jensen, because he’s a closet romantic,” Gen instructed. “You’re going to have to be very bold and not worry about embarrassing yourself because this is about Jensen. And besides, what do you have to lose?”

“I don’t know if I should be offended or not,” Jared muttered. “Okay. Actions speak louder than words. Should I stand outside his window with a boombox and confess my love for him?”

Gen crinkled her nose. “I said actions, not cheesy scenes from old movies.”

Jared would laugh at her expression if he wasn’t so upset. “I’m trying here. I’ve never actually had to make up with a guy I liked before, if that wasn’t obvious before. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually liked a guy before. Not like him.”

“Aww,” Gen cooed. “Now get your ass in gear. We’re going to go fix this catastrophic mess you’ve gotten  yourself in.”

Gen’s idea of fixing things was driving to Jensen’s house, boldly ringing the doorbell, and then running away. Jared stood frozen to the doorstep and waited for someone to open it.

When the door did swing open, Chris stood on the other side. And when he eyed Jared, murder was reflected in his eyes. He didn’t invite Jared in and said, “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t beat you to a pulp.”

Jared swallowed. “I don’t have one. I hurt Jensen. I came to apologize.”

Chris snorted. “Saying I’m sorry isn’t going to fix anything, gorgeous.” Hearing Gen’s pet name used with so much venom freaked Jared out more than a little.

“I’m so sorry. But nothing happened between me and Sophia, nothing at all!”

Chris glared. “There’s only one reason people go into those rooms, and it’s not to gossip about the last clothing trends. You should go.”

Jared’s about ready to turn and run when Jensen’s voice floats through. “Chris? Who is it?”

The sound of his voice is enough to keep Jared standing. He remembers why he’s there. Jensen means the world to him and he’s not leaving until he talks to him. “I’m not going anywhere,” Jared said firmly.

Chris sneered at him. “Look who grew a pair. But it’s not gonna do you any good. Get the fuck out.”

“Chris, seriously, who is it?” Jensen steps in view and when he sees Jared in the doorway the color seeps from his face. “Oh.”

Jared tries to step forward but Chris blocks him. “Jensen, please, hear me out.”

Jensen bites his lip. Jared can tell he wants to say yes and so can Chris. “Jensen, don’t waste your time on him.”

Jared doesn’t take his eyes off Jensen, and Jensen stays focused on him. “Jensen, please,” Jared begged. “Five minutes.”

Jensen’s caving. Jared can see it in his green eyes. He can also see how bloodshot they are and Jared thinks, I made Jensen cry. The thought makes him sick. Jensen looks at Chris desperately. Chris glowers but steps aside and lets Jared in.

He’s never been happier his entire life.

“Five minutes,” Chris snarls. “And then I’m dragging your ass out of here.” Jared nods and Chris leaves him and Jensen alone.

Jensen’s eyes have gone blank and Jared can’t read how he might be feeling. So he just starts talking. “Um, so I owe you an apology. I actually owe you so much more than that but I’m going to start with an apology. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I swear, nothing happened. Nothing happened. I don’t want to be with her. I don’t want to be with anyone but you. No one makes me happier or—or anything. Megan says I look like a lovesick puppy when I think about you.”

“Steve said the same thing about me,” Jensen murmured. “At the football game. When I saw you in the stands.” The walls in his eyes were collapsing and Jared saw hurt and longing. “I was going to tell you at the party. I was going to tell you how I felt. Danni and I sorted things out and I was going to go over to you and-,” Jensen’s voice cracked. “You were kissing her.”

“I feel awful. Please, believe me. I feel horrible and I want you so badly. Every time I look at you I want you. I thought you and Danneel were getting back together and I just acted on impulse.”

Jensen’s eyes flashed with anger. “Even after everything I said, even after I tried to kiss you, you still thought I’d choose her? You can believe the worst about everything else, Jared, but I can’t believe you’d think that about me.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Jared cried frantically. “I know you’re a good person, you’re such a good person it’s what makes me… it’s what makes me love you so much.”

It’s the first time Jared has said it to Jensen, really admitted it, and Jensen stares at him in shock. “Oh,” Jensen said. “You mean it?”

“Of course I do, dummy!” Jared took a step forward. “How could I know you and not love you?”

“I don’t—it’s just last night—did it… did it mean anything? With Sophia?”

Jared laughed. “I’m gay. Truly. Every time I looked at her all I saw was you.”

That’s all Jared got out before he had an armful of Jensen, clinging to him like he was keeping Jensen alive. Jensen mumbled something into Jared’s chest but it was muffled and Jared asked, “What?”

Jensen looked up at him with teasing yet adoring eyes. “I think I might have a crush on you.”

Chapter Text

Jared probably stopped breathing. For a few minutes. “Really?” He squeaked.

Jensen laughed at his tone and tightened his grip on Jared. “Really.” He let his head fall in Jared’s collarbone. “I think it’s because you’re stupidly nice and awesome. And um, really hot.” Jensen’s blushing and Jared falls a little bit more in love. He squeezes Jensen tight and he laughs, green eyes sparkling.

“Never thought…” Jared rests his head on top of Jensen’s.

“Yeah,” Jensen agrees. “Me either. But I’m glad it happened.”

Jared heard the sound of someone clearing their throat and saw Chris leaning against the wall. “Five minutes is up.”

Jensen didn’t let Jared untangle himself from him. “He’s staying.”

“What? Jensen-,”

Jensen shook his head. “Relax. Nothing happened with him and Sophia. It was a mistake.” Jensen beamed up at Jared. “He loves me.”

Chris made a gagging noise. “Don’t go being all… sweet in public. I don’t need the romance shit.”

“Don’t be jealous, Chris,” Jensen cooed. “My heart still belongs to you.” He slid out of the hug and wrapped Chris in a hug.

Chris rolled his eyes. “Lover boy might get jealous.”

Jensen winked at Jared. “He’s too gorgeous. I’m not dumb enough to let him go.”

Jared blushed when Jensen’s arm snaked around Jared’s waist. Chris watched their affection and told Jared, “If you hurt I’m, I’ll cut your dick off in your sleep.”

Jensen chuckled. “Don’t listen to him. He’d never do a thing to harm you.”

“You never know. I might.”

Jensen waved Chris away. “Shoo. I’m trying to enjoy this moment.”

“I don’t know what’s worse; a Disney movie marathon or watching you two grope each other in the kitchen.”

“Leave, Chris!” Jensen exclaimed with a blush. Jared found it adorable. When Chris left the room, Jensen wrapped himself in Jared’s arms again. “He’s, um, kind of, Chris.”

“Trust me, I’ve got plenty of experience with Chris.” It came out more bitter than Jared meant.

Jensen stiffened but his body relaxed just as quickly. “He’s gonna have to get used to us. We’re together, and I overreacted about Sophia given nothing happened.”

Jared felt a pit of guilt in his stomach. He may have left out the part where they made out and Sophia gave him a partial blowjob. But Jensen didn’t have to know that.

Jensen led Jared into the room where his friends were waiting. Danneel gave him a bright smile. “Hi, Jared.”

Okay. What the hell. His surprise must have been evident because Danneel blushed and said, “Yeah, I haven’t exactly been a welcoming friend. But if you make Jensen happy…” She scooted over so Jared could sit down. “Just don’t hurt him again. He’s still my best friend.”

Jared nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

Danneel giggled. “I like him, Jennybean.”

“Jennybean?” Jared looked at Jensen with a raised eyebrow.

“Call me that and you die,” Jensen warned. “I haven’t been able to stop them, but that doesn’t give you an out.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jared replies. Jensen glares at him but it dissipates just as quickly when Jared lays his head on Jensen’s shoulder.

Chris groaned. “Are they going to be like this all the time now?”

Jared and Jensen just laugh.

 

Secrets always have a way of getting out.

Jensen and Jared spent the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday together. Everything was easy. It was like when they were friends and at tutoring, but there wasn’t any homework to moan over and they were more carefree than Jared could ever remember being.

So Jared should have known it was too good to last.

Monday morning Jensen texted him, morning, sleepy. see you in a few minutes

Jared told him not to text while driving and waited on the steps of the school for him.

Jensen’s face lights up when he sees Jared waiting for him and jogs the rest of the way to Jared. “Hey,” Jensen says breathlessly.

Jared still has a little trouble believing Jensen likes him too and can only make a strangled noise that is supposed to say “hello”.

Jensen laughs and puts his arms around Jared’s neck. “Happy to see you, too.”

Jared sees the looks they get. Some are puzzled, some are disgusted, and some—mostly girls—look like it’s the most adorable thing they’ve ever seen.

Jared hugs Jensen back and says, “I am happy to see you. Just can’t believe this is all real.”

Jensen laughs and pulls away. “Well I’m real. I’m here. And I’m not going anywhere. You’re it for me, Jay.”

It melts Jared’s heart into a puddle and he pulls Jensen back into another hug, smiling when Jensen laughs.

Jensen actually holds his hand when they walk into school and are immediately pounced on by Gen and Danneel. “It’s the new golden couple! Stop being so cute.” Danneel squeals. She hugs them both and Jared isn’t sure if he’ll ever get used to the new, sweet, affectionate Danneel who repeatedly says, “call me Danni, sweetheart, all my friends do.”

Jensen sticks his tongue out. “Jealous much?”

Danneel—no, Danni, crinkles her nose at Jensen. “You’re gorgeous and your boyfriend’s gorgeous. It’s not fair.”

Jensen slings an arm around Jared’s waist. “I’m just lucky enough to have him.”

“Ugh!” Danneel cries. “Stop. Being. So. Cute!”

Gen laughs at Danni. “I think she’s in love with you two.”

“I am,” Danneel says outright. “I think I’m going to go get certified to marry people and then perform a ceremony right here. It’s going to happen. I’m gonna go look into it.” Danneel walked toward the computer lab and Jared glanced at Jensen.

“Is she, uh, serious?”

“Probably not,” Jensen replies nonchalantly. “But who knows?”

Jared watched Danneel strut away. “I don’t know if I want to get married by Danneel.”

“Yeah. She might squeal and take photos of us the entire time.”

Jared frowns when he sees the time. “We should go to class.”

Jensen sighs. “Can’t we skip?” Jared shoots him a look and Jensen says, “Kidding, kidding.”

Jensen kissed Jared’s cheek and he felt a blush spreading. “Uh.”

“You’re adorable when you’re flustered,” Jensen says. “See you in history. Save me a seat.”

Jared knows he stands there smiling like an idiot while Jensen walks to class. Gen giggles. “You’re so in love it’s sickening.”

“Doesn’t stop you from staring at us,” Jared retorted.

“Touché. But in my defense, I can’t be held accountable for staring at the two hottest guys I know making out. It’s hot.”

Jared crinkled his nose. “I don’t know whether to be flattered or disturbed.”

“Flattered. Always go with flattered,” A familiar and not very friendly voice says.

Jared turns and sees Tom cockily leaning against the lockers. “Uh, hi,” Jared mumbled.

Gen glares at Tom. “Tom, I’m warning you.”

Tom held his hands up in defense. “Just wanted to formally introduce myself to my friend’s boyfriend.” He smiles evilly. “I’m Tom Welling.”

“Yeah I know,” Jared muttered. “Nice to meet you.”

“So, you’re fucking Jensen?”

Jared blushed. “We’re not fucking.”

“Aw, then it’s going to be like a real relationship? How romantic,” Tom sneers.

Jared is surprised by what happens next. Chris appears out of nowhere and claps Tom on the shoulder. “Tom! I was just talking to Steve. Thinking you should go over the chemistry test since you failed the last one.”

Tom glares at him. “Shut up.”

“Sorry, just thought you’d get sick of annoying Jared when clearly he has better things to do than put up with your sorry ass.” Chris pulls Tom away but not without glancing at Jared. “Nice to see you.”

Gen looks as surprised as Jared feels when Chris drags Tom away by his hair. “Interesting start to the day.”

Jared can only nod in agreement. “Think I’m going to go to class.”

Gen smiles. “See you in history.”

Things were falling into place. So yeah, Jared should have known it was too good to last.

 *****

Jensen’s having an actual amazing morning. He had an amazing weekend and an amazing start to the day. He has Jared. He can hug Jared and laugh with Jared and call Jared his boyfriend—though neither of them have dared to use the word yet—and no one is freaking out and exiled him from high school society.

But of course things had to go downhill. Maybe Danneel was onto something. Jensen found happiness and as soon as he was used to it, it had to be taken away. The universe was totally fucking him over. 

First period when fine. Perfect, even. It was a little embarrassing to hear girls cooing over him and boys rolling their eyes but Jensen couldn’t wipe the stupid smile off his face. Second period passed ultimately the same way. Jensen was on cloud nine and nothing could take him down.

God, how wrong he was.

And the five minute break between second and third period found Jensen bumping into Sophia outside his classroom. His eyes narrowed and hands clenched into fists. It was a default reaction in seeing the girl his boyfriend was making out with, even if it didn’t mean anything and they weren’t even together.

Sophia looked scared and nervous and Jensen’s expression certainly wasn’t helping. “Can we talk?” Sophia asked quietly.

No fucking way. “Maybe later,” Jensen said coldly.

Sophia looks desperate. “Please, just a little bit of time. I want to apologize.”

Jensen shrugged. “I already know it didn’t mean anything. I’m not mad at you, or Jared.” Just have to learn to not to want punch people that make out with my boyfriend. Especially girls.

Sophia lets out a sigh of relief. “Good, because I’ve decided to leave everything that happened in the bedroom behind me. He’s crazy about you.”

Jensen’s eyes went from narrowed to confused. “What happened in the bedroom?”

 ******

Jared almost ran to history. He was thrilled to finally sit with Jensen and share secret smiles that meant something. Jared threw his books on the seat next to him and waited for Jensen to waltz in and beam at Jared.

So it comes as a complete shock when Jensen takes one quick look at him and sits as far away from him as possible. Jared is about to get up and follow him when Edlund begins his lecture. No one can get up and change seats once Edlund’s begun his lesson.

Jared sticks with furtive looks to Jensen every now and then. Danneel is sitting next to him and murmuring things softly while Jensen looks anywhere but at Jared.

All Jared can think about was how they went from hugging each other within and inch of their lives in front of the whole school to not speaking and basically the same attitude they had towards each other from the minute they went to school with each other.

Except this time, it hurts more than anything Jared’s felt before. And he’s been pushed around by his 6’7 brother. A few bruises from falling and a sprained ankle from his lame attempt at soccer doesn’t come close to the way Jared feels now. And he’s confused. Two periods isn’t enough for anything to happen enough for them to fall out of love.

Jared just does what he’s done in the past when he wants to communicate with Jensen. He pulls out his phone and quickly texts, what’s going on?

Jensen doesn’t respond. He doesn’t look down to the pocket where Jared knows he keeps his phone every day. He stares at the board as if there was never a message sent in the first place.

Jared’s heart breaks a little further.

Jared knows it’s desperate but he sends more texts every minute Jensen doesn’t respond.

What happened?

Why aren’t you responding?

Answer me, please!

If I did something wrong, I’m sorry. Just text me back.

Eventually Jared puts his phone away and settles for controlling his emotions. Crying in Jensen’s comforting arms is one thing. Crying in front of an entire history class is another thing. When Jared’s phone vibrates he doesn’t look at it for a second. He’s not getting his hopes up and then seeing the message from Gen or the phone company with an ad for a phone upgrade.

After a few second of holding his breath Jared looks. It’s Jensen and Jared opens it so frantically the phone almost slips through his clammy hands.

No more tutoring. And no more us.

Jared reads the message a hundred times and still doesn’t believe what it says. The tears are going to spill over at any moment and Jared does the most irrational thing that could possibly be done.

He grabs his stuff and runs out of the room.

 *****

Jensen feels a little guilty at seeing Jared run out in front of the entire class. Edlund paused in his lesson and stares at the swinging door in disbelief. “Um.”

People in the class exchange looks. Gen’s staring at the door sadly. Jensen wants nothing more than to jump up and follow Jared, but the anger swallows him and Danneel’s hand stops him from moving.

She means well, but it hurts nonetheless. No hand can make the hole go away where Jared is supposed to be.

 ******

Jared hides in the bathroom and splashes cold water on his face. Tears don’t come, but neither does air. His lungs feel too small and he can’t take a breath. Before he knows it he’s on his knees and sucking down air unsuccessfully. Jared starts hyperventilating. Black spots cover his vision and he passes out to the sound of someone shouting, “Jared!”

Jared wakes up on a bed with scratchy sheets. A kind looking woman—the nurse, Jared realizes—is smiling down at him. “How do you feel?”

Awful. “Better,” Jared lies. “I can breath.”

“You scared me.” The voice isn’t the nurses. Jared turns and sees Steve sitting beside him. It’s not Jensen but it is a friend.

“Hi,” Jared croaks. His throat his so dry. Steve hands him a water bottle.

“Yo. What happened?”

Jared glances at the nurse and she gets the picture. “I’ll give you two a moment.”

Steve smiles his thanks and turns to Jared as soon as she’s gone. “What the fuck happened? You and Jensen were draped over each other all happiness and rainbows and now you go and pass out?”

Steve’s words bring bile to Jared’s throat and he takes big gulps of water. “Not anymore. H-h-he-,” Jared chokes. Saying it out loud would make it real and then Jared’s world might actually dissolve. “We’re over.”

Steve goes from confused to heartbroken. “Oh man.”

“I don’t know why,” Jared says miserably. “It was so normal. So happy. And then we get to third and he texts me saying that it’s over. The tutoring’s over and so is our relationship.” Jared coughs down a sob. “We had three days of absolute bliss. How did things go wrong so fast?”

Steve squeezes his shoulder. “I don’t know anything, Jare, but I can see what I can wring out of him. For now, just focus on breathing. Maybe just go home.”

Jared shook his head. “I’m not going to walk away. I walked away last time. I’m not going to do it again.”

Steve smiled bitterly. “I admire your dedication, but it’s going to take a lot more than pretty words to appease Jensen. For whatever stupid reason, he seems upset.”

“I’m sure it’s not that stupid.”

“Jensen has the emotional stability of a teenage girl. He overreacts to little things and believes for some stupid reason that everything he does will get screwed up.”

Jared tries to smile. “I just want to know what I did wrong,”

“Chances are, nothing,” Steve assures him. “Jensen’s just an idiot.”

“Why are you siding with me? A few weeks ago…”

Steve bit his lip. “A few weeks ago I thought the same way Jensen does. But then he changed and I guess I followed suit. We’re all suffering through teen angst. Might as well suffer together.”

Jared manages a smile. “Come on. I’ve got to go to class.”

“Nerd,” Steve teased. Jared smiled at the hint of affection in his voice.

Jared wasn’t going to give up. Jensen could be an idiot all he wanted, Jared loved him and he wasn’t going to run and make out with a girl that he didn’t like. Not again.

 ******

Jensen instinctively moves towards Jared’s car after school until he remembers he’s angry at him and forces his legs to turn away. But god if it’s the last thing Jensen wants to do.

Danneel is leaning against his stupid silver car across the parking lot and the flashy piece of metal has never looked so ugly before. It’s a neon sign of how different Jensen is. Instead of trucks and beat up SUV’s kids paid for with their hardworking money Jensen got handed a BMW as soon as he got his permit, no questions asked from his parents.

Jensen hates the thing.

He’s standing a few yards away from Jared’s truck and wallowing self-pity when he hears a tentative voice say, “Jensen?”

Jensen spins on his heel and sees Jared. “Hello,” Jensen says stiffly.

Jared’s face perks up a little. “I thought—are we going to tutoring?”

Jensen shakes his head. “Walked here on accident. I’ll see you.” Or not, because I’m a stubborn, jealous asshole.

Jared’s face falls as Jensen starts to walk away but before he can go very far a strong arm grabs his bicep. Jensen is strong but god if it isn’t hot having Jared hold him. Jensen feels his dick reacting and tries to use the anger he feels to calm his libido. “Let go of me.”

“No,” Jared says simply. “We’re going to talk. We don’t have to go to tutoring but you owe me an explanation.” His voice falters. “Please?”

“Like hell we are,” Jensen mutters. He yanks on his arm but it stays trapped and Jensen only succeeds in hurting his shoulder.

“Come on, Jen,” Jared pleads. Jensen can’t resist that soft, sweet tone of voice and if Jared realizes it and is using it against Jensen then he’s a dick. Jared’s a dick anyway because he’s making Jensen feel like a dick when it’s not his fault.

“It’s Jensen.” The things I come up with.

Jared’s eyes fill with sorrow. “Right. Jensen. Sorry.” Jared cleared his throat. “So, wanna tell me what happened?”

Jensen’s anger bubbles to the surface. “Why don’t you tell me what happened, Jared? In the bedroom with Sophia?”

Jared’s eyebrows crinkle. “Nothing happened!”

“Ha!” Jensen scoffs. “Because she apologized to me today. She said it was stupid of her to try and come between us. For her to try and have sex with you. For her to give you a blowjob. All the kissing. Funny, Jared, how you forgot to mention that Sophia got you off!”

Jared stares at him with his mouth open. Yeah. You didn’t know I knew you lied to me.

“We weren’t even together!” Jared exclaims. “You can’t get mad at me for Sophia no more than I can get mad at you for Danneel!”

“Danneel is my best friend and she was my girlfriend for over three years! And just for the record, I never told you I loved you when I was with her. I stayed completely loyal and I didn’t lead her on. I get out of the relationship thinking great, now I can be with who I really want to be with, and you’re—you’re with Sophia!” Jensen is breathing heavily. “Yeah, we weren’t together. But I feel sick and betrayed and cheated on and you didn’t even tell me. You lied. You said nothing happened. And that’s a lie.” If Jensen had a penny for every time he said lie.

Jared stares open mouthed. “We weren’t together,” He repeated.

“You let her suck you off. You made me think you loved me and you still let Sophia suck you off.”

“She never—she didn’t get me off. We got like, halfway. But then we realized we didn’t want it. Gen busted in and stopped us.”

“Oh, great. Glad it took Gen busting in and pulling her off you to stop. Real awesome,” Jensen said sarcastically. “So sorry you didn’t get to finish what you started.”

“Why are you so mad? I’m sorry! I regret it! I hate that I did it! I love you, Jensen-,”

Jensen glared. “You don’t get to say I love you and think that it makes it all better.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to do! I didn’t tell you because I knew you’d get all angry like this and I wanted our relationship to work.”

Jensen flushed with anger. “It’s not even that you let her blow you. I asked you, over and over, if anything happened. And you said over and over than nothing happened. It was kissing and then you two just decided to knock it the fuck off. You lied to me. I wouldn’t have been so angry if you told the truth. Upset, sure. But I wouldn’t be angry.”

Jared matched Jensen’s angry stare. “Don’t you think you’re overreacting?”

“No. Not really. I’m perfectly justified in breaking up with you and being upset.”

“Are you upset? Even a little? I thought you liked, you know, us.” Jared asked.

The answer was yes. Jensen was so upset. He did like them. He liked Jared. And he wanted to hold Jared and take the miserable look away from Jared’s face because he does love him. “I’ll get over it.”

And Jared’s face crumbles and Jensen hates himself for putting that look on his face. So Jensen walks away like the fucking coward he is. And it’s not the universe fucking him over. Jensen is doing it to himself.

 

Danneel is okay with his moping. It shocks Jensen. He half expected her to slap him and tell him to move the fuck on. But she sticks with him again and Jensen has lost count of the times she’s done this for him in just the past week.

Jensen, as it turns out, sucks at doing his homework alone. He didn’t exactly have the greatest work ethic, despite Edlund’s beliefs, and Jensen had become used to Jared motivating him. Not he had no motivation and no drive and a hole in his chest that only a handsome, bright smiled, tall, sweet boy could fill.

Because Jared was right. They weren’t together. Jared was hurt and maybe a little tipsy. Jensen just wanted to believe that Jared’s heart belonged to him. And the funny thing is that Jensen does know that.

“You’re overthinking this,” Danneel comments. “Either you love him and you want to be with him, or you’re pissed and you want to dump his ass.”

“I’m pissed but I still want to be with him. Is that an option?”

Danneel shrugged. “I’d sort of be shocked if your answer was anything different. Nothing was ever black or white with you. It was always grey areas and never straight answers.”

“Is that a pun?”

“What? A pun, a said grey areas and straight—oh, wow, Jensen.”

Jensen grinned sarcastically. “I’ve been told that I’m very witty.” By Jared.

Danneel took a bite out of one of her gross nutrition bars that she swears taste like chocolate but are extremely bland in reality. She mumbled something else but oats and chocolate substitute muffled the sentence. “What?” Jensen asked.

“I said-,” Danneel swallowed. “Stop thinking things through so carefully. And as cheesy as this is going to sound, Jensen, follow your heart. Your brain screws things up. You’re being an idiot over this thing.”

“He didn’t tell me,” Jensen grumbled.

“A speed bump.”

“We hit a speed bump three days into our relationship. How are things going to look in the long run?”

“Maybe it’s your only fight. You get things out of the way. Have a fight, realize you’re idiots, and move on with your lives. Together.”

Jensen shook his head. “I’m done talking about this.”

Danneel shrugged. “Your loss.”

Jensen lost Jared. “What more do I have to lose?”

 ******* 

Jared was torn between wanting to drive to Jensen’s and punch him in his stupid face or drive to Jensen’s and kiss his beautiful face. After begging for forgiveness. He’d probably beg for forgiveness in any situation because Jared was totally in love with him.

Jared wondered if Jensen was doing his homework. Maybe Jared had rubbed off on him and Jensen could concentrate for more than five minutes without Jared having to throw erasers and pencils at him to get him to focus.

Jared considered texting Jensen to remind him. Because he cared about Jensen. Or because he wanted an excuse to text Jensen. But what the hell. At least if Jensen ignores the text Jared can hide behind the screen.

Hope you’re doing your homework. Text me. If you get a chance. Jared waits a beat. I love you.

No response.

Maybe saying I love you was too much. Yeah, it was definitely too much. It’s the 21st century, shouldn’t people be able to unsend text messages? Because there are several instances where Jared would like to backtrack. Including sending his ex-boyfriend a desperate text and proclaiming his love via message.

Jensen still didn’t respond.

Chapter Text

Jensen threw his phone across the room so hard the screen shattered. The back was mangled and Jensen knew that it was too far gone for duct tape to fix. After Jensen read—but didn’t reply—to Jared’s text messages he’d become so furious that the only option was to break his phone.

Yeah. Because he couldn’t exercise his feelings in a healthier way.

Danneel’s patience ran out when the pieces of glass rained on the carpet. Jensen was surprised she lasted this long and waved goodbye without speaking. She may have slammed the door a little too hard but Jensen ignored the shudder the room gave. Jensen wondered if she’d call in reinforcements. Maybe Chris and Steve were going to be sent over so they could deal with his pathetic, mopey ass.

Jensen didn’t want to hear Chris say “I told you so” or Steve look at him like he was a lost puppy dog.

Jensen was fine.

Okay, maybe not fine. But he was okay. He was alive. And it would just take some time. Jensen was an idiot, and ignoring his issues, and stubborn as hell, and it really couldn’t be said enough that he was a coward. But breaking his phone so he wouldn’t have to answer text messages was a new low. He could blame it on a broken heart but it would only reaffirm Chris’s view that Jensen is a pathetically lovesick teenage girl.

The door to his bedroom swung open and Jensen said, “Chris, go away. I’m not in the mood for a lecture.”

“I thought I’d find you in your loft,” A sweet voice murmured.

“Oh. Um, hi Mack,” Jensen said. “Didn’t know it was you.”

“No, clearly not.” She sat on his bed. “Can we talk?”

“It’s not a good time.”

“What?”

Jensen pulled his eyes away from his homework to look at Mack. “I said, it’s not a good time.”

“Yeah, I heard you. What I don’t get is how you waltz in and play big brother one moment and the next you’re shutting the world out the way you always do. Don’t you get tired of bottling everything up? Don’t you get sick of letting everyone think you’re fine when it’s so obvious you’re not?”

“Trust me,” Jensen assured, “No one thinks I’m fine. Half the school thinks I’m out of my mind. Tom won’t even meet my eyes. Gen is straight up ignoring me. I promise, Mackenzie, no one thinks I’m fine.”

“So, to conquer these crazy emotions you’re feeling you go and make yourself fat on ice cream.”

“I’m not fat,” Jensen snapped, but he glanced down at his stomach to make sure. Yup. Still had abs.

Wow, I’m really conceited.

“What’s it going to take for you to believe I’m not just some dumb little kid?” Mack asked. “When are you going to trust me?”

“I do trust you,” Jensen said. “I just…”

“You don’t think I’ll get it,” Mack hissed. “You think that I won’t understand because you’re in high school and I’m just some stupid kid that’s going to say get over yourself. Well news flash, asshole, I’ve got issues too. And the top of my list is that my big brother is upset and he won’t tell me anything!”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not! You trust your stupid friends more than me! The same ones that make fun of you for liking Jared! You trust them and you like them more than me!” Mackenzie shouted.

Jensen sighed. “I talk to them about different things than you. And besides, I told you about Jared, didn’t I? And I followed your advice.”

Mack glared. “No, you didn’t. You followed Gen’s advice. Steve’s advice. I told you what you had to do before any of them. But you waited until you heard it from them. How do you think that makes me feel? How do you think I feel knowing that you don’t care about me?”

“Mack, how can you say that?” Jensen asked incredulously. “And when did this turn into a shouting match, anyway?”

“When you refused to listen to reason,” Mack snarled. “You can shut me out all you want. I’m still going to come back. Because that’s what good siblings do. Not that it would matter, because you take my opinion with a grain of salt.”

“Just go,” Jensen said wearily. “You’re young and bright. I’m not going to go dump all of my shit on you.”

“What, you think I can’t take it?”

“I think you’ll run out when you figure out how fucked up my life is!” Shit, shouldn’t have said that.

“I’m not Josh!” Mackenzie screamed.

Jensen stopped talking. Mackenzie was breathing heavily and her eyes were damp with unshed tears. “Mack.”

“I’m not going to leave you because I’m scared. I’m not going to run if things get hard. And I sure as hell didn’t pick this up from Josh.”

“You had to learn it all on your own,” Jensen murmured. He opened his arms and Mack fell into them. “You brave, sweet girl.”

Jensen ignored the dampening patch on his shirt and stroked Mack’s hair. “I’m not running, Mack. Neither are you. But let me take care of you for once, instead of you taking care of me. I’m the big brother, after all.”

Mack sniffed. “You’re not going to leave the second it’s over?”

“College is only an hour away. I’ll come back every weekend and call you every night.”

“And mom and dad?”

Jensen’s grip tightened. “They’ll do what they want. But don’t you ever shut me out.”

“Never,” Mack promised. She hesitated. “Can I tell you about my science class?”

Jensen smiled into the top of her head. “I’d like that.”

 

 

Jared wandered out into the streets. He’d abandoned texting Jensen. It amounted to nothing and Jensen hadn’t bothered to respond. He should have just called Jensen. Jared snorted. Who was he kidding? Jensen wouldn’t have picked up even if Jared called for hours. The stubborn bastard would rather suffer than admit he was wrong.

It filled Jared with a strange combination of fondness and misery when he thought about how well he knew Jensen. Jensen was like a clock. Except he was an analogue clock with no numbers and the gears all moved backwards. And you couldn’t see what was happening so you just prayed it was working even when you knew it wasn’t. The gears were spinning just fine. They just weren’t doing their job.

I really just compared Jensen to a clock.

Jared was a walking cliché.

His feet carried him down the sidewalk with his hands tucked in his pockets. Jared didn’t know where he was going until the door to Alona and Sam’s pizza parlor. Alona’s voice greeted him from behind the counter. “Welcome to Pizza Wheel, how can I—hi, Jared!”

Jared forced himself to smile at her. “Hey, Alona.”

“Where’s Jensen?”

“Um, not here.”

Alona seemed to sense there was more to the answer than Jared was willing to disclose, but she didn’t push. “I’ll show you to a table, kay sweetheart?”

Jared nodded. Alona took his hand and guided him to a booth in the back and hovered for a moment before talking. “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I know Jensen. I’ve watched him, laughed at him, wanted him… loved him.” Alona took a breath. “I hated Danneel because she didn’t deserve him. I’ve forgiven her but… anyway. My mom called it a schoolgirl crush and maybe it was. It explains why I was so jealous of Danneel.

“But you.” Alona smiled. “You came in and swept Jensen off his feet and everyone else. I adore you. Jensen loves you. The jealousy I felt towards Danneel—I don’t feel that towards you. I first thought it was because—oh god don’t hate me,” Alona blushed, “I thought it was because you didn’t have a chance. Because he wasn’t, um, gay. But then I saw how he made you smile and laugh and the way he defended you against Chris. Not once have I seen him defend anyone against Chris. But you, he did. And I knew there was no way I could ever love him like you love him. And he’s always seen me as a little sister.”

Alona sighed. “So I let him go. I watched him break up with Danneel. He came in here all the time. All he talked about was you. At first, it was how annoying you were. How smart. Then it was how funny, then Jensen would come in and say your name and get this faraway look in his eyes. He made a mistake, letting you go. But Jared… you’re making a mistake by letting him walk away.”

Alona blushed. “I didn’t mean to monologue there. Just want you to know that if you give up, I’ll poison your pizza.” She smiled. “I’ll go place your order.”

“I didn’t order,” Jared said, confused.

Alona giggled. “Jensen told me what you liked. Thin crust, lots of meat, little sauce and absolutely no vegetables.”

“How’d he know that?”

Alona swatted him with a menu. “Because he loves you, idiot. Also, he broke his phone.”

“What?”

“He called me from his home phone saying that he threw his phone against the wall and it all but cracked in too.”

“Why’d he do that?”

Alona shrugged. “Because he stupidly thinks avoiding you is the solution to his problems. I called Mack and told her to slap some sense into her brother.”

Jared grinned. If anyone could straighten Jensen out, it was his fiery little sister. “Thanks, Alona.”

She winked. “Flag me over if you need anything.”

Jared smiled his thanks and stared at the table as soon as she was gone. Jensen broke his phone. Jensen deliberately broke his phone to avoid Jared. A monster crawled through his stomach and settled in his throat, clogging his breath and making tears well up in his eyes.

“Easy, Jared,” A calm voice said. Jared looked up but whoever it was appeared blurry. “Want some company?” The voice asked.

Jared blinked away the moisture and saw Chris staring at him. Jared scrambled to escape the booth and Chris held up a hand. “I’m not here to mock you. Or threaten you, or yell at you. I just would really like to talk.”

Jared settled down. Chris had an oddly soothing voice. “Talk?”

“Yeah, some people do that when they want to communicate.” Jared glared and Chris blinked apologetically. “Sarcasm is my defense mechanism.”

“That’s lame,” Jared commented.

“You and every girl I’ve ever hit on seem to agree.”

Jared smiled. “So, you wanted to talk?”

Chris cleared his throat. “Yeah. I do.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “This is really awkward and I think we both agree we’d rather not be here. I mean, not here here, because I love the pizza, but in this situation.”

“Then why are you here?” Jared enjoyed that he was making Chris nervous. The roles had been reversed too many times.

“Steve,” Chris grunted. “He sent me.”

“Thought you would go to Jensen,” Jared drawled.

“Well, it’s where I suggested I go. But Jensen is a stubborn asshole and really depressing right now. You’re kind of depressing too. This is why falling in love sucks! Why didn’t he listen to me?”

“Jensen doesn’t love me,” Jared said. “Jensen doesn’t love anything.” Okay, the last part was unnecessary.

Chris seemed to agree with Jared’s thoughts, because his eyes narrowed. “For someone who knows Jensen so well I should think you’d know exactly how capable he is of loving someone. And in turn, how much it hurts him to have his heart broken. He loves people too much, Jared. Quite the opposite from what your characterizing him as.”

Jared blushed. “I didn’t mean to. I’m just angry.”

“Well, duh,” Chris deadpanned. “You’re pissed, Jensen’s pissed, Danneel’s pissed, Gen’s pissed, everybody’s angry, Jared, and no one is willing to do anything about it. So somehow I end up being the mediator. Which I don’t forgive you for.”

“Well, you’ve been less that cordial to me for the past few years of my life,” Jared countered. “Call it even?”

“Oh, right. That’s the other reason I came. To apologize. I’m sorry. So. I know I’m really crappy with apologies. But I’m sorry I was a dick and I’m sorry I didn’t support your relationship with Jensen. I wonder… I wonder if I’d been more supportive, he wouldn’t be sulking at home.”

“You said you would kill me if I ever hurt Jensen again,” Jared said slowly. “And here you are apologizing and talking to me?”

“Jensen did this to himself. I love the guy, but he can be an idiot.”

“Seems like that’s the number one noun to describe him.”

Chris shrugged. “He’s a dork. But he’s a dork in love.”

“Wouldn’t he say if he loved me?” Jared asked.

“No,” Chris replied immediately. “His jackass older brother drilled it into his head that saying you love someone equals vulnerability. Then the same jerk ran away and got married and never contacted Jensen again.”

“Jensen believed Josh?”

Chris looked at him as if he was asking, how do you know his name? “Jensen was a kid. He idolized his big brother. Since his parents weren’t around much, Jensen had to look to Josh for guidance. And his advice sucked.”

“And that’s where you come in.”

Chris nodded. “That’s where I come in.”

“So, you patched him up or something?”

“I just sort of contradicted what Josh said. Made Jensen do what he wanted, instead of what Josh believed he should. Jensen hung around me like a limb.” Chris picked at an invisible crack on the table. “Then you came in. And you became his whole world, his heart, his mind, his everything. And I was so fucking jealous. I had to fight for every little bit of friendship and love Jensen showed me. He adopted you into his life within hours. I was selfish. Jensen just wanted you. I mean, all of you. Your friendship and your compassion and then all of a sudden, I wasn’t good enough.”

“That’s not true,” Jared protested.

“Does it matter if it’s true or not? It’s how I felt. I acted like a dick because I thought if I could scare you off, Jensen would stop caring about you. Only you didn’t run away. And then I just thought, this guy is making Jensen so happy. Why am I acting like this is a bad thing? So I just gave up fighting it. And I was sulky and mopey and Jensen was sulky and mopey and Steve was exhausted of trying to smooth things over. I convinced myself you threw our relationship to hell but I honestly think you were the best thing to ever happen to him.” Chris’ next words were so soft Jared wasn’t even sure he heard right. “Better than me.”

“Um, thanks I think.” Jared knew the second part wasn’t true; no one could ever replace Chris.

Chris smiled at him. “Jensen always liked you, you know. He never knew you but he watched you sometimes in the cafeteria. I remember his questions, always asking ‘who is he’ and ‘maybe he should sit with us’. I pushed you off his radar but he was always, always drawn to you.”

“Jensen didn’t know I existed!” Jared exclaimed.

“Jensen knew you existed. He thought you were strange and too smart for your own good. I don’t even know if he knew your name but sometimes he’d watch you.”

Jared took a big gulp of water to try and calm his nerves. “He didn’t tell me.”

“Of course he didn’t. The only thing he knew about you was that you were the dorky kid that sat alone and was on track to be valedictorian. Jensen wouldn’t want you to know he’d been stalking you before he even knew your name.”

“Jensen liked me,” Jared murmured to himself. “He knew me.”

“Knew of you,” Chris corrected. He blushed and smiled. “But yeah. He liked you. He wanted to go sit with you every day but Danni always pulled him back.”

Jared couldn’t get over the fact that Jensen didn’t think he was some lame, dorky guy without a life. Or, he did think that but at least it didn’t send him running in the other direction. And Jensen wanted to sit with him? Jared was grinning like an idiot and he didn’t care.

Chris took a sip of Jared’s water. “So, are you still going to sit here or are you going to go fix things with your boyfriend?”

“Jensen doesn’t want them fixed.” Jared groaned. “Is our whole relationship going to be like this? Me having to chase down Jensen and pick up the pieces of what we had?”

“What you have,” Chris corrected. “And yup. Every day. You’re going to have to prove how much you care about him and that you’re not going to give up every single day.” Chris winked at him before standing up. “But hey. It’s worth it.”

Alona brought his pizza while watching Chris leave. “He didn’t harass you, did he?”

“Kind of the opposite. Hey, Al?”

“Hm?”

“Can you box this up? There’s somewhere I have to be right now.”

Alona smiled. “Of course, sweetheart.”

Jared paid for the pizza and grabbed the box Alona handed him before darting out the door. He pushed the speed limit a little bit and arrived at Jensen’s in record time. “Jensen!” He pounded on the door. “Jen, please!”

The door opened but Mack stood in the doorway glaring at him. It was just as fierce as Jensen’s and Jared felt a pang of longing. “Hi, Mack.”

“Go away.”

“No,” Jared said. “I want to talk to Jensen.”

“Jensen doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“It isn’t always about Jensen! He’s being stubborn and I want to talk to him.” Jared held up the box. “I brought pizza.”

Mack sighed. “Come in.”

Jared smirked. “Is it the pizza or my good looks?”

Mack glared at him, but her lips curved up. She was almost as fierce as her brother. “It’s Jensen. He’s moping and I’m sick of babying him.”

“You want some pizza?”

Mack nodded and took a slice. “He’s in his room.”

“Not the loft?”

“Jensen enjoys making himself miserable. So why not go where he’s unhappiest?”

“Masochist,” Jared murmured fondly. “Thanks, Mack.”

Jared jogged the steps to Jensen’s room and pushed the door open without being invited in. Jensen paled when he saw him. “Jared.”

It wasn’t a warm greeting, but it wasn’t “go the fuck away” either, so Jared figured he could manage. “Hey. I brought pizza.”

Jensen gestured for Jared to put it on the bed without making eye contact. “What’s up?”

It sounded more like “tell me what you want so you can leave”. Jared sighed. This wasn’t going to be easy. His mind flashed back to Chris’s parting words. It’s worth it. Jensen’s worth it. “I don’t want to break up.”

“I do.”

“We were together for a few days! Can’t we go a few more? Test the waters?”

“We did test them, and it ended with you lying to me.”

“Are you jealous?” Jared asked quietly. The idea didn’t occur to him until now.

“No,” Jensen snapped. “I don’t have anything to be jealous of.”

“She blew me,” Jared pointed out.

Jensen glared. “Fuck off, Jared.”

“Are you jealous? Dude, you totally are!” Jared smiled even though it was probably the wrong thing to do.

“I’m not jealous!” Jensen protested. “You like me, not her!” Jensen froze after his words and turned to the wall.

Jared grinned dorkily. “See? Nothing to be jealous of.” Jensen ignored him. Jared knew Jensen must be blushing. “You gonna look at me sometime today?”

“Probably not,” Jensen mumbled. Yeah, he was definitely blushing.

Jared climbed off the floor and slid on the bed behind Jensen, wrapping his arms around Jensen’s waist. “Please?”

“Get off me,” Jensen snapped with no real demand in his voice. It sounded like a plea for Jared to do the opposite. So Jared held him tighter.

“No, Jen.”

Jensen grabbed at Jared’s hands around his waist like he wanted to push them away but ended up just holding them snugly. “I’m still mad at you.”

Jared kissed his cheek. “I think you’re going to be mad at me for one reason or the other for the rest of our relationship.”

“And you’re going to stay?”

Jared chuckled into Jensen’s neck. “Yeah, Jen. I’m gonna stay.”

“I don’t want to fight with you.”

“I’m a lover, not a fighter. So I guess we’re good. Plus, you’re adorable when you try and be mad at me. What, was it 8 hours this time?”

Jensen slapped his arm. “You’re horrible.”

“And your boyfriend?” Jared asked tentatively.

Jensen rotated to face Jared. “And my boyfriend.”

A knock on the door pulled them out of their bubble. “Jensen! Put some clothes on and come downstairs. There’s someone here for us.”

Jensen grunted. “I’m wearing clothes.”

“Step one down. Now come downstairs.” Mack’s footsteps faded.

Jensen rolled his eyes and pulled Jared up with him. “Let’s go suffer through whoever dares interrupt our happiness.”

Jared smiled. Jensen was still a little upset; Jared could see it in his eyes. But Jared was going to spend some serious time making up for it. It’s worth it.

Jensen and Jared walked down the stairs giggling like school girls. When they reached the kitchen Mack was sitting at a barstool looking thoroughly put out. There was an older albeit handsome attempting to strike up conversation with her.

Jared knew that face. He’d seen it in photographs and judging by the lack of color in Jensen’s face, it was exactly who Jared assumed it was.

“Hi, Dad,” Jensen choked.

 

 

Out of all the people Jensen expected to see in the kitchen, his dad wasn’t one of them. But Mack’s angry tone and hard pounding on the door made sense when Jensen thought about it. Neither child had an extremely close relationship with their father.

“Hello, Jensen,” His dad said warmly.

Jensen swallowed and struggled to find Jared’s hand. Luckily his boyfriend met him halfway and wound his fingers through Jensen’s. It didn’t escape his dad’s notice. “Who’s this, Jensen?”

Jensen didn’t think the handholding through. “Um, this is Jared.” He wanted to leave it at that but he’d be a horrible person if he did. “My boyfriend.”

Alan narrowed his eyes. “Your boyfriend.”

“Yeah. We’re in, uh, a relationship.” Jensen hated how his dad could reduce him to a nervous mess without even really talking.

“What about Danneel?” His dad asked. His eyes ignored Jared and Jensen became irritated.

“We broke up,” Jensen said curtly. “Now I have Jared. Jared, this is my dad Alan Ackles.”

Jared smiled at Alan and extended a hand. Jensen’s dad returned the smile but his eyes remained disapproving and cautious. Right. Dad didn’t know about Jensen’s gay crisis because he was never fucking home. “Nice to meet you, Jared,” Alan said.

“Nice to meet you too, Mr. Ackles,” Jared replied.

The pair went through the whole “call me Alan” and the pleasantries that lacked any warmth. Jensen eventually intervened. “What are you doing here, dad?”

Alan glanced to Mack. “Mackenzie, can you excuse us for a moment?”

“No!”

“Mackenzie,” Alan said firmly. “A moment.”

Mack’s eyes went to Jensen. “S’okay, Mackie. Go listen to your music for a bit.”

“Can I play with your guitar?” Mack asked.

“Of course.”

Mack smiled at Jensen and Jared and hopped up the steps two at a time. Alan was watching him with a strange expression. “What?” Jensen asked.

“She listens to you,” Alan said.

Jensen frowned. “Yeah. I’m her big brother.”

“So is Josh, but she never listened to him.”

“Josh didn’t care about us,” Jensen replied coolly. “Not enough to stay. Not enough to call. I guess he gets that from you.”

Alan raised an eyebrow. Years of legal work had taught him to conceal his emotions and keep his temper. For once, Jensen wished he would just yell or scream or do something to prove he wasn’t a robot. “Watch your words.”

Jensen squeezed Jared’s hand tighter to stifle the urge to hurl a vase at Alan’s stupid head. He watched Jared’s fingers turn white from the pressure but never pull away. “Thanks,” Jensen murmured into Jared’s collarbone. Jensen felt the returning smile against his ear.

Alan watched them with intense scrutiny. “Why don’t you tell me about your… relationship.”

Jensen smiled at Jared. “He was my tutor. Now he’s my boyfriend.”

“Ah.” Alan turned to Jared. “Would you excuse us for a minute? I need to talk to my son. Alone.”

Jared tried to pull away but Jensen held his hand tightly. “He’s staying, Dad. Anything you say to me I’m going to repeat to Jared anyways. You’d just be saving me breath.”

Alan glared. “Fine.”

“Fine.”

“You’re not gay,” Alan started. “You loved Danneel. You can’t have a boyfriend.”

“I still love Danneel. But as a friend. I’m with Jared.”

“You’re not gay,” Alan repeated.

“I am. I mean, I am for Jared,” Jensen elaborated.

“Why?”

Why? There are a thousand reasons. “He makes me happy, Dad. I care about him and he cares about me.” How do you explain why you love someone? You just do.

“You’re not gay,” Alan says for the third time.

“Dad, if you say that again I’m walking away. It’s pretty obvious I am gay, or at least bi. I have a boyfriend. I like him. He likes me. Does it matter if I’m gay or not? You’re my dad. You’re supposed to support my choices.”

“And you choose Jared.”

“Of course.”

Alan turns his steady, businessman glare on Jared. “Your parents are actually okay with you being… well, homosexual?”

Jared shrugged. “Yeah. They already knew when I told them and they were totally cool with it.”  

“Jensen, I think you need to think this through more,” Alan suggests. His tone of voice is very clear that this is not up for debate.

“I do not,” Jensen retorted. So what if he sounded like a petulant child. “I’m sure about Jared. I’m sure about the way I feel. I make mistakes, all the time. I screw up. And Jared forgives me.”

“Why?” Alan asked. “What have you done to deserve it?”

Jensen inhaled sharply. “It” could be Jared’s love or forgiveness or happiness or anything. “I don’t know how I got so lucky,” Jensen murmured.

“And he’s still going to want to be with you? Even when he goes off to college and you’re still here? When he realizes that you could be holding him back? Will he still forgive you, Jensen?” Alan’s voice was still monotone but every word hit Jensen like a whip.

Jensen was standing close enough to Jared to feel the anger radiating off his boyfriend. “I won’t ever think that, sir,” Jared replied. Alan ignored him and Jensen pressed a hand to Jared’s shoulder to stop him, which Jared promptly brushed off. “I won’t ever get sick of him. I will always forgive him for his faults and I know he’ll do the same for me.”

Jensen, for a brief moment, was impressed with his dad. Remarkably throughout Jared’s entire monologue Alan had kept an impassive, almost bored, face and ignoring the devotion behind Jared’s words.

“You’re not gay,” Alan said. This time it was a command rather than a casual observation. His dad was telling him to break up with Jared.

“You’re really going to lecture me on love?” Jensen asked.

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means—it means—you’re sleeping with your receptionist!” Jensen cried. Oh shit.

It was the first time Jensen had seen actual emotion cross his father’s face. Jensen immediately missed the blank look that usually graced his dad’s face. Emotion wasn’t for everyone, apparently.

“You little—you don’t know what you’re talking about,” Alan hissed. “I’d never cheat on your mother.”

“Where do you go on your late night ‘business trips’? Why don’t you come home? Why did you leave? Why aren’t you here when I need you?” Jensen knew he was getting worked up about this. Too worked up. Jensen shuddered and grabbed onto Jared.

Alan opened his mouth to respond but Donna regally entered the room. “Alan. You’re home.”

Alan glared at Jensen before cooling his features. “Are you aware your son is… dating another boy?”

Donna looked appraisingly at the two boys, as if noticing them for the first time. “Hello Jensen, Jared.”

“Hi mom.

“Hi Mrs. Ackles.”

“Call me Donna, sweetheart.” She turned to Alan. “Are you upset that Jensen and Jared are dating?”

“Are you not?”

“Of course not,” Donna scoffed. “He’s my baby boy. If he wants to date Jared, who is very sweet by the way, I am okay with it.”

Jensen watched his mother. He had no idea she would be this casually accepting of their relationship. “You’re okay with-,” He gestured between him and Jared. “Us?”

Donna shrugged. “Are you happy?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Then I don’t see the problem.”

“It’s two men,” Alan hissed. “There is the problem right there.”

Donna waved him off. “I’m not having this discussion. You’re never home anyways, what does it matter to you what your son does?”

Jensen and Jared watched the conversation like a tennis match.  The two parents seemed to have forgotten they were there.

“Jensen is my son, my responsibility. I care how people see him.”

“You care how people see him? Or you care how people will see you once they find out your son is in a relationship with another boy? A boy who clearly adores him.”

Alan opens his mouth but clamps it shut at Donna’s glare. “I’m going out.”

“Not surprising,” Donna responded just as coolly. “Can you boys find dinner or do you want me to make something?”
Jensen’s mouth fell open. “Uh, football.” The corners of Jared’s mouth quirked up.

“No thank you, ma’am. I mean, Donna.”

Donna strutted away and left Jared and Jensen alone with Alan. He glared at his son. “Don’t think this is over. And even if you don’t end it…” Alan lowered his voice so only Jensen could hear him. “You’re an uneducated little fag. He’ll leave you.”

Jensen gasped and pulled his hand away from Jared. By the hurt expression on Jared’s face, the taller boy didn’t know why.

“I’m going to college,” Jensen whispered.

“I’m not paying.”

“Don’t need you to. I got a scholarship.”

Alan straightened up. “I’m leaving.”

“Again,” Jensen muttered.

No more goodbyes were exchanged before Alan left the house. Jensen’s shaky body collapsed onto Jared. “Oh my god.”

Jared held him and stroked his hair. “It’s okay.”

“Jared?”

“Yeah, Jen?”

“Thanks for coming back.”

Jared smiled down at him. “Always.”

Jensen snuggled closer. “Can we go eat pizza now?”

Jared’s loud laughter was Jensen’s only answer. 

Chapter Text

“So,” Jensen said.

“So,” Jared replied.

“That was awkward,” Jensen admitted. “Sorry you had to get roped into that. My dad—well, lets just hope we don’t have to do that again, okay?”

Jared was curled up with Jensen on Jensen’s bed. He was lying between Jared’s legs, Jensen’s back against Jared’s chest. “We have each other. I think we can go through that again.”

Jensen paused. “You’ll still stay with me, right? Even though I’m not as smart as you.”

Jared’s mouth fell open. “How could you think I wouldn’t?”

“No reason,” Jensen rushed.

“Did he say that to you?” Jensen blushed. His silence was answer enough. “He’s wrong,” Jared said adamantly. “I don’t care about that. And for the record, you’re incredibly intelligent. I admire you.”

Jensen blushed deeper and looked up at Jared. He took a moment and then leaned up to press his mouth against Jared’s. Jared sighed contentedly and kissed Jensen back. It was better than their first kiss in the bathroom because when Jared pulled away, Jensen smiled up at him and didn’t run.

“Wow, that was awesome,” tumbled out of Jared’s mouth.

Jensen laughed and kissed him again. “Awesome.”

They lay there and exchanged languid kisses after finishing the pizza. “I’m always here for you, baby.”

Jensen smiled dazzlingly up at him and Jared’s breath hitched the same way it always did when Jensen looked at him like that. “I know.” He pressed a kiss to Jared’s neck. “What did I do to deserve you?”

Jared combed his fingers through Jensen’s hair and Jensen purred under the touch. “Just got lucky, I guess,” Jared teased. Jensen rolled his eyes.

“High on yourself much?”

“You complimented me first,” Jared shot back.

“Yeah, but apparently not on your modesty.”

“I hate you.”

“I hate you too.”

Jared pulled Jensen closer to him, which was a struggle because there was virtually no space between them. “Do you have to go to football today?”

“Yeah, I do. I’m sorry.” Jared pressed his lips to Jensen’s head and he moaned. “Jay, I’m never going to be able to leave if you keep doing this.”

“Can’t you say you’re sick?” Jared begged. “I want to stay with you.” He pressed butterfly kisses to Jensen’s neck to prove his point.

“Oh god, Jay,” Jensen groaned. “You’re going to kill me.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” Jared murmured into Jensen’s neck before sucking the skin gently.

“Wherever this confidence is coming from, it’s the fucking sexiest thing ever,” Jensen told him. Jared smiled. God, if only Jensen knew how he made Jared feel.

“I think it’s probably from dating the hottest guy in school.”

“Hm, I know I am.”

“Who said I was talking about you?”

Jensen glared at him. “Don’t even joke about that. I’m not going to fucking-,” Jensen shook his head. “Just don’t joke.”

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “Okay, okay. You’re the hottest guy in school and my boyfriend and my favorite person. I really like you.”

“Like, a lot?”

Jared giggled. “Like, a lot.”

Jensen turned to look at Jared and place a small kiss on his lips. “I like you a lot, too. And I’m sorry.”

Jared stroked Jensen’s hair and Jensen let out the purr again. “Nothing to be sorry for, Jen. As long as you’re here.”

“Can’t get rid of me that easy, Padalecki.”

“Like a cockroach. Or a rat infestation.”

Jensen laughed when Jared tackled him and pretended to be angry. “Jackass.”

“I’m awesome.”

“There’s your shining streak of modesty,” Jared teased.

“Another reason to like me,” Jensen pointed out. “My self-confidence and dashing good looks.”

“There’s a thin line between self-confidence and arrogance.”

Jensen wrapped his arms around Jared. “So which one do you think I am?” Jensen purred in Jared’s ear.

Jared gasped at the tone of his voice and dug his nails into Jensen’s shoulders. “Don’t you have football?”

Jensen kissed a trail down Jared’s neck. “Hm. I’m starting to like this more.”

“You’re—ah, god Jensen—the captain,” Jared gasped. “You need to—oh my god, Jen!”

Jensen chuckles against Jared’s collarbone and the vibrations send electricity through Jared’s body. “What’s wrong, Jay?”

“Gonna—fucking—kill me,” Jared choked. “I hate you so much.”

Jensen’s arms pull Jared closer. “Shame. I was actually starting to like you.” He took Jared’s earlobe into his mouth and sucked lightly. Jared let out an embarrassing moan and Jensen swallowed the noise in a kiss. “Like, a lot.”

Jared’s hands struggled to find something to hold onto or his knees were going to give out from underneath him. “Jen…”

Jensen kissed him soundly and Jared lost himself in the feeling. Jensen was an amazing kisser. His tongue nudged Jared’s lips open and they danced around each other, Jensen tugged and sucking and Jared turning into a puddle of moans.

Jensen pulled back for air and his pupils were blown wide with lust. “There. That should hold you over until after dinner.”

“After dinner?”

Jensen smirked. “See you at eight. Your place.”

God, Jared was so gone. Like, a lot.

 

 

 

Jensen felt better than he had in a long time. The uncertainty of being with Jared was gone. His friends were okay with it. Things had smoothed over. Tom still walked on eggshells around him but Chris and Steve greeted him at football with catcalls.

“So is everything worked out?” Steve asked.

“Um, I think so.”

“You’re going to stop being an idiot?” Chris threw in.

Jensen sighs. “I’m always going to be an idiot. Thank god Jared is so smart. We complete each other.”

“Dude, that’s so cheesy,” Steve muttered. “You’re lucky we’re your friends.”

“And that we’re so awesome,” Chris adds.

Jensen laughed. “And awesome friends like you.”

Football practice went smoother than it had in a while. There were no petty arguments fueled by conflict off the field. Only smooth sailing and playful banter. Cliff seemed more relaxed than ever and extremely pleased by the returning chemistry between the players. Jensen didn’t have a doubt in his mind that their team would win the championship.

They were unstoppable.

Jensen felt more confident and he laughed more. When he caught his coach’s eye as Jensen was running a drill, Kosterman gave him a bright smile and a nod of approval. Jensen couldn’t stop the goofy grin that spread across his face, the same grin that he wore anytime he thought about Jared. About his boyfriend.

It occurred to Jensen that most of the team didn’t know about Jared. They knew of Jared, and they knew there was more than friendship between the two. Most of the school knew it; they weren’t blind. But actually coming out to his team would be a totally different matter. Standing in front of them and saying, “I’m gay or bisexual I’m not sure which, and I have a boyfriend and his name his Jared. Also I might love him.”

Okay, he’d leave the last part out.

Jensen had heard his teammates say “Man that’s gay” more times that Jensen could count. It was a casual insult. Not meant to put down gays, his team was relatively accepting. But what if some of them weren’t? What if some of them thought it was wrong to be gay.

Chris noticed Jensen’s stressed demeanor and at water break, he confronted Jensen. “Man, you change attitudes faster than Mack. What’s got you so stressed?”

“I want to come out,” Jensen said weakly.

“Dude, most of the school already knows you and Jared have something going on.”

“Yeah, but standing in front of people and saying ‘hey, I have a boyfriend’ is a totally different deal. Some people might not be cool with it.”

“Then screw them,” Chris said. “This is about you and Jared. Not some homophobic assholes who can’t see past their own noses.”3

“Who’s a homophobic asshole?” Jake, another player, jogged up to them. “Is someone saying shit about you, Jensen?”

“Why does everyone assume I’m gay?” Jensen snapped. Jake took a step back and Jensen felt bad. “I mean, yeah. I didn’t mean to snap. I’m still getting used to the whole fact that I have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend.”

“So you’re really with Jared Padalecki?” Jake asked.

“Yeah, is that an issue?” Chris hissed.

“No, of course not.”

“I want to come out to the team,” Jensen admitted. “But if it causes issues… we’ve got the championship coming up. I just—I want to brag about Jared, you know? He’s so awesome.” Why am I telling this all to Jake?

“Dude, our team sort of guessed this already,” Jake confessed. “We’ve been placing bets on when you’re going to hook up, when you’re going to come out, etc.”

Jensen’s jaw dropped. “You’ve been placing bets on my relationship with Jared?”

Jake shrugged. “We just thought it was cute.”

“Oh god,” Jensen moaned. “Were you in on this?” Jensen asked Chris.

“Um… no?”

Jensen punched his friend. “Here I thought you were on my side.”

“What? You two were always dancing around each other! If I could make some money out of it, well, awesome.”

Jensen looked between them. “Was the whole team in on it?”

Jake’s silence was the only answer Jensen needed. “I’m humiliated. I’m going to quit. Walk away so I never have to look anyone in the eyes again.”

“I’m sure Jared can make you feel better,” Chris teased. “Ow! Okay, I’m sorry!”

Jensen smirked when Chris winced at his punch. “Jared will make me feel better. I can tell you in great detail, too, Chris.”

Chris clapped his hands over his ears. “La la la la la la I can’t hear you!”

Jake laughed. “Come on, captain. It’s not that bad. At least you know we’re not homophobic assholes.”

“Yeah. Thanks for that,” Jensen said genuinely. “I shouldn’t have thought you guys wouldn’t be amazing.”

“Before we all grow boobs, can we stop this chick flick moment?” Chris scoffed. “Next thing you know I’ll be tearing up at The Notebook.”

“You watched Mean Girls last year,” Jensen pointed out. “I think you secretly like chick flicks.”

“You watched Mean Girls?” Jake exclaimed.

“Shut up! It’s a good movie!”

Jake and Jensen laughed when they rejoined the team.

Yeah. Things were finally perfect.

 

 

 

Jared was bouncing up and down during dinner. He’d been on edge since Jensen left and snuck glances at the clock every few minutes. It didn’t go unnoticed by his family and Sherri gave him a weird look. “You okay, Jared?”

“Yeah. Perfect. Awesome. Just have a big test.”

“What subject?” Megan asked with a smirk.

“Um, Calc.”

“Not history?” Megan asked innocently. “You could ask Jensen to come over and study with you.”

Jared blushed. “We already hung out.”

“Is it a big test, honey?” Sherri asked. “It’s not like you to get this nervous.”

 “Yeah, Jared, why are you so nervous?” Megan echoed. Damn her.

“Yeah, mom, it’s a big test,” Jared lied. It was a 10 point quiz.

“So how is Jensen?” Sherri asked.

Jared choked on the sip of water he was taking and Megan pounded him on the back. “Good. We’re good. He’s good,” Jared stammered. “He’s going to college.”

Sherri smiled knowingly. “You should have him over for dinner again. It’d be nice to have dinner with your boyfriend.”

“He’s only been my boyfriend for—wait, what?”

Sherri smirked. “Caught you.”

Apparently all the women in his family were devious. “Shut up,” Jared muttered.

“Oh come on, honey, you didn’t think I wouldn’t catch on. You two spend every waking minute texting or hanging out.”

Jared blushed. They hadn’t been that obvious, had they? But judging by the matching smirks on his mom and sister’s faces, they had been. “Oh. Well. I was going to tell you.”

“I figured you needed some time to figure out what was going on. So I just let you guys have your fun.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

“And Megan!” Megan piped up.

“Why? What’d you do?”

“Made you admit your feelings for him,” Megan said.

“Yeah. That was all you,” Jared said sarcastically. Megan stuck her tongue out at him.

“Children, I swear,” Sherri mumbled.

“We are children,” Jared pointed out.

“Five year old children,” Sherri clarified.

 

Jared waited in his bedroom for Jensen. It was 7:55 and the doorbell should ring anytime now. He tapped his feet and reorganized his bookshelves and checked his homework and double and triple checked that his room looked okay. It was ridiculous; Jensen had been in his room a dozen times. But this was the first time he’d be in Jared’s room as his boyfriend.

Jared just about fell off the bed when a knock came on his window. “Jensen!” Jared shrieked. He ran to push open the window. “What—how—are you _insane?”

“A little bit,” Jensen retorted and climbed into Jared’s room. “I was going to knock, but I saw the tree and I just had to.”

“You had to,” Jared repeated. “You could have fallen and broken your neck!”

“Well, luckily I didn’t.”

“You’re so stupid,” Jared mumbled. He pulled Jensen into a hug and felt him hum against his chest.

“Hi, Jay,” Jensen said.

“Hey, Jen.”

 Jensen nuzzled his neck. “How was dinner?”

“My mom knows about us. Megan too.”

“How’d they take it?”

Jared thought about their teasing grins. “Really well. I’m happy.”

Jensen wrapped his arms around Jared’s waist. “Me too.” He cleared his throat. “Apparently the football team was betting on our relationship.”

Jared laughed. “So I take it they’re okay with it.”

“Yeah.” Jensen grinned. “It went really well. So we no longer have to worry about the football team relationship. I mean maybe Tom… but he’s a prick. So we’ll be okay.”

Jared’s head fell on Jensen’s shoulder. “I screwed up your friendship with Tom,” He groaned.

“Aw, no you didn’t.” Jensen carded his fingers through Jared’s hair. “I’m not upset. And besides, he’ll come around. Once he realizes how amazing you are.”

“Amazing?”

“Amazing. The greatest guy ever.”

Jared smiled into Jensen’s neck. “Thanks.”

Jensen just keeps combing Jared’s hair and Jared can’t help the purring that comes out. It feels so nice; Jared won’t ever let Jensen stop. Before he knows what he’s saying, Jared murmurs, “Bed,” into Jensen’s ear.

Jensen’s hand stops in his hair. Jared tries to take it back but Jensen just nuzzles his ear and kisses him. “Okay.”

Jared’s knees turn to Jell-O and Jensen has to help him lie down. Jensen lies on top of him and presses gentle kisses to Jared’s lips. “What do you want to do?” Jensen asks softly. His lips kiss trails around Jared’s neck and collarbone.

Jared shivers under Jensen’s lips. “Um, I don’t—it’s not like, I just, I don’t have any-,” Ideas? Experience? Guts? “I’m not sure what I’m doing.” Jared’s too scared to meet Jensen’s eyes and he knows his face must be bright red. Jensen tips Jared’s head so green eyes meet his.

“Don’t worry, Jay. We don’t have to do anything.”

I want to do things. “We don’t?” Jared’s voice comes out as a squeak.

Jensen pulls away to smile gently at him. “Nothing we don’t want to.”

“I do, I just-,”

Jensen kisses the sentence off his lips. “What if we just lay here?”

“Can we kiss?” Jared asked timidly. And if he thought he couldn’t get any redder, he was wrong.

Jensen doesn’t even laugh like Jared expected. God, he loves this man. Jensen just lays his head on Jared’s shoulder. “All night, if you want to.”

“Well, I have a quiz, so I should probably study…” Jared trails off when he realizes how nerdy that sounds.

Jensen purrs into Jared’s neck. “I love that you’re so smart.”

It goes straight to Jared’s dick, which is painfully hard, and he moans against Jensen. “Jen,” Jared gasped. “Oh god.”

Jensen kisses him again and it’s like drowning in passion. Jensen’s teeth nip gently at his lip and then smoothed it over with his tongue. Jared doesn’t know how but his mouth opens and Jensen’s tongue snakes inside. Jared moans and his hands scurry to clutch at Jensen’s hips.

Jared loses himself in the kissing, gasping and moaning and tugging at Jensen’s hair. Jensen’s hands trail over Jared’s body like he’s mapping out each muscle, each spot that makes Jared squirm or gasp or moan.

He’s not so surprisingly successful.

Jensen finally pulls back and Jared whines. “Jay, we’ll have time for that later,” Jensen assures. “That was amazing.”

Jared hums. “So much better than Sophia.”

Jensen’s lips clamp around Jared’s neck and suck and bite until there’s definitely a bruise. “You’re mine, Jay. And when you show up at school, everyone’s going to see it. Including Sophia.”

Jensen’s possessive growl makes Jared so hot he feels like he could come right there. “Oh god, Jen.” It’s so hot Jared doesn’t know what to do.

“You’re mine,” Jensen growled again.

“Yeah,” Jared breathed.

“Say it.”

“Yours, I’m yours, Jen, all yours,” Jared moans. God, he never thought he’d be this desperate or needy in his life. Anything to get Jensen’s lips on that spot on Jared’s neck.

“Damn right.” As if Jensen heard Jared’s unspoken plea his lips place light kisses along Jared’s neck, nibbling and licking.

“Jen… gonna…oh god,” Jared pants. He’s going to come in his pants just from kissing and if that’s not embarrassing, Jared doesn’t know what is. Jensen keeps kissing him, and Jared’s keening and trying to find Jensen’s lips on his. Whatever physic thing Jensen has, Jared loves it because Jensen’s beautiful pink lips are pressing on his and the world around turns into JensenJensenJensen and ohgodohgodohgod.

Jared moans embarrassingly loudly and has a quick flash of fear that his parents or his sister heard it but it doesn’t matter anymore because Jared is coming harder than he’s ever come in his life. Jensen kisses him through it and Jared melts into a boneless mess on his bed.

“I just came from kissing,” Jared blurted.

Jensen chuckled. “I’m a fantastic kisser, who can blame you?”

“Modest,” Jared mumbled.

“So sarcastic,” Jensen replies. “It’s kinda sexy.” 

Jared smiles and notices Jensen’s still hard. “Jen-I can-,”

Jensen’s lips are on his and Jared doesn’t think he’ll ever get tired of Jensen shutting him up with kisses. “No worries, baby. Just go to sleep.”

Jared doesn’t have to be asked twice.

 

 

 

Jensen forgets where he is for a moment when his eyes flicker open. There’s sunlight streaming through the blinds and a strong arm looped around his waist. Jensen sighs and snuggles into the body behind him, breathing in the scent that is Jared. A soft kiss is placed on his ear. “You finally awake?”

Jensen hummed in response. “Too early.” After he jerked himself off last night, pretending his hand was Jared and replaying his moans in his head, Jensen didn’t have the energy to go home. So he collapsed on Jared and decided he’d just sleep over.

Jared rolled Jensen onto his back and straddled him and oh god to early for sex but he wants it, he wants Jared—

Jared’s kissing him. Wow, it’s even better when they aren’t half asleep. “Best way to wake up, ever,” Jensen sighs.

Jared laughs. “I picked up some tricks from my hot boyfriend last night.”

“Boyfriend, huh?” Jensen purred. “I like the way that sounds. My boyfriend.”

Jared giggles and falls onto Jensen. “I like you.”

“Like you too. Now get off me, you’re heavy.”

Jared pinches his side but rolls off the bed. “We’ve gotta take a shower.”

“Together?” Jensen asked hopefully.

“Dude. Parents and sister.”

“Fine. But be quick. I’m barely restraining myself as it is.”

Jared laughs and threw his shirt at him. Oh. That reminds him. “Can I borrow some clothes? Mine are all at my house, and I’m not there.” Eloquent.

“They might be too big for you,” Jared teased.

“I’ll find something. Go take your shower.” Oh, there’s an image Jensen needed. He’s drooling. Jared smiles brightly at him and Jensen melts. If someone told him a month ago he’d be dating Jared Padalecki, head over heels, he’d punch them. But now he wishes someone had told him so he wouldn’t be so damn shocked when it did.

 

One thing Jensen hadn’t quite thought about when he stayed the night was how Sheri and Megan might react. Gerry was already at work so Jensen didn’t have to face one Padalecki, but Megan could be a whirlwind and the last thing Jensen wanted to do was make a bad impression on Jared’s mom.

Jensen was going to point this out to Jared, but then his fucking boyfriend had to come out in nothing but a flimsy towel and all rational thoughts Jensen might have had fly out the window and Jensen’s mouth is attacking Jared’s before Jensen himself even knew what was happening. He flung himself at Jared and bit and sucked at his mouth. The moans Jared let out were worth the bruises Jared’s hands left on his hips.

Jared pulls away with a gasp. “Um, not that I’m complaining, but what was that?”

“Fucking walk around in a towel, what do you expect me to do?” Jensen growled. He pulled Jared down for another kiss.

Jared laughed into Jensen’s mouth. “We’re going to be late, Jen,” He murmured.

“Let’s just skip. It’ll be better than walking downstairs with a hickey on your neck.”

Jared’s hand flew to his neck. “You gave me a hickey?” Jared hissed. “Are you insane?”

“Weren’t complaining last night,” Jensen protested.

“Because it’s really fucking hot!” Jared defends. Jensen just smirks.

“I’m gonna take a shower.” He laughs at the squawk of protest Jared let out when Jensen yanked his towel on the way to bathroom.

God, he loved his boyfriend.

After Jensen showered and pulled on one of Jared’s shirts—which smelled like him, how the hell is Jensen supposed to focus on anything else—the pair cautiously made their way downstairs.

“You two are loud,” A voice says behind them.

Jared stopped walking and Jensen crashed into him. “Megan?” Jared whispered. “You—you didn’t, right?”

“Didn’t what? Hear you moaning? If I pretend like I didn’t, can we stop this awkward conversation?” Megan asks.

“Sounds good,” Jared agreed.

“Also you have a hickey,” Megan sings when she sauntered past them. “Good luck hiding that.”

Jared groaned and hid his face in Jensen’s neck. “My mother is going to disown me.”

Jensen chuckled. “No she won’t. Come on, Jay, things will be alright. Do you want me to sneak out the window again?”

Jared gripped his arm. “I’m not letting you fall out the window until we have sex.”

“But after we have sex it’s okay if I fall?”

“Shut up, Jensen.”

“Come on. We’re going to be late,” Jensen reminds him.

“We’re already late.”

“Here I thought I was the bad influence,” Jensen teased.

“Hm, you’re rubbing off on me,” Jared hummed. Jensen pulls him in for a kiss and they lose track of the world for a minute, kissing and letting their bodies tell each other how the feel. The love and the passion, and okay, the lust. How could Jensen not lust after his boyfriend? He was gorgeous.

The sound of a throat clearing jerked them apart. They jumped away and both blushed when Jared and Jensen saw Sherri standing at the end of the hallway. “Morning Jared. Morning Jensen,” Sherri said. “Sleep well?”

Jensen blushed deeper and let Jared take over. “We, uh, he came-,”

“Last night? Yeah I know. Now go downstairs. I made breakfast and then get to school. Both of you.”

“Thanks, mom,” Jared mumbled.

“Thank you, ma’am,” Jensen agreed.

“Call me Sherri, love.”

Jared rolled his eyes and pulled Jensen downstairs. “Bye, mom!”

“Bye boys!”

“And buy me earplugs if you stay the night again, Jensen!” Megan added.

Jensen laughed at Jared’s mortified expression. Yeah, he could get used to this boyfriend thing.

 

 

 

Jensen drove to Jared’s house last night and his car was parked on the street to go unnoticed. “Want me to drive you to school?” Jensen offered.

Jared’s mind was still drooling at the sight of Jensen’s car. “Um, definitely.”

Jensen noticed Jared’s attention. “Just a stupid car,” Jensen muttered.

Jared realized he’d upset Jensen. “It’s your car. I don’t think anything about you is stupid. I think it’s all incredible. Cuz it’s you.”

“Kiss ass,” Jensen muttered. But there was a small smile on his face and Jared sighed in relief.

Jared couldn’t help but run his fingers along the interior, stroke the leather seats, and play with the radio until Jensen swatted his hand. “You’re like a child.”

Jared beamed at him. “That makes you the grumpy parent.”

“Hate you.”

“You wish, Ackles.”  

Danneel and Gen were waiting for them with Chris and Steve next to Jensen’s spot. Tom was noticeably absent and Jared squeezed his hand tightly. Chris jumped on Jensen when he got out of the car. “Stupid asshole, I shouldn’t have had to track down your boyfriend to get him to go after you! You should have grown a pair and found him!”  

“Get off me.” Jensen shoved his friend away. “And I owe you. So, thanks.”

Chris grinned smugly. “Jensen Ackles is indebted to me. I’m going to keep this in mind.” He smirked at Jared.

“Why couldn’t you have just found me?” Jensen asked Jared.

“Why couldn’t you have just found me?”

Jensen glares at him the way he always does when he can’t think of a comeback. Jared thinks it’s intensely adorable and can’t resist kissing the glare off his face. Jensen makes a quick noise of protest before letting himself get wrapped up in the kiss.

“I hate you,” Jensen murmured when he pulled back. “Why won’t you let me be upset?”

“Cuz I like you better when you smile.”

“Duly noted.”

Jared blushed when he remembered all their friends were still there. “So… class?”
Gen and Danneel laughed. “I’d rather watch you make out some more,” Danneel said honestly.

“Fat chance,” Jensen shot back. “Go to Drama or whatever.”

“English, Jenny, English.”

Chris and Steve waved goodbye as well with Chris’ parting yell, “Nice hickey, Jared!” Jensen’s bright smile finally dimmed. “He doesn’t want anything to do with me.”

He wasn’t talking about Chris. Jared rubbed his arm. “Tom will come around.”

“What would I do without you?” Jensen asked.

Jared melted at the sincere adoration in Jensen’s eyes. “You’ll never have to find out,” Jared replies.  

“Girl,” Jensen muttered, pressing his lips to Jared’s.

“It’s why you love me,” Jared replies. He freezes when he realizes what he said. They’ve been dating for about three days and the idea of Jensen loving him was so out of reach and Jared wishes desperately he could rewind and not say that.

Jensen smiles against Jared’s lips. “Yeah. That’s why I love you.”

Okay, maybe it was cool that Jared said that. 

Chapter Text

Jensen was sort of on cloud nine. He and Jared weren’t fighting. If Jensen could help it they’d never fight again. Of course, as Chris frequently pointed out, Jensen had a tendency to screw things up for himself. Half the time Jensen didn’t even realize he was fucking himself over; he was just really bad at communicating and realizing a good thing when he had it.

There was no way he was going to let Jared slip away. Jensen knew Jared was a once in a lifetime opportunity and even Jensen was going to mess it up.

Besides, he could always get Chris to bail him out of Jared. Christian Kane was Jensen’s “get out of jail free” card. And Jensen definitely doesn’t take advantage of it. He just likes knowing that he has someone who will bail him out when Jensen does something stupid.

Jensen is eagerly awaiting history. He and Edlund are on civil terms, Danneel is no longer a threat to anyone, Jared will be sitting there as his boyfriend, and nothing can really go wrong.

Okay, maybe one thing,

Posters reminding to buy tickets for Prom litter the hallway. Jensen already bought two tickets… for him and Danneel. How was he supposed to know he and Jared would be together? And now Danneel is expecting him to be her prom date. Jensen doesn’t want to let down his friend but going with someone other than Jared is unthinkable.

Maybe Danneel would be okay with me ditching her at Prom. Jensen snorted. Danneel was his friend, not completely insane. No girl was okay with being ditched on prom night. Jared’s sweet. He’d understand.

Yeah right. It was a lose-lose situation. Could Jensen take two dates to prom? Yeah right. Best just to ignore the whole mess.

Jensen was still pondering the topic when he walked into history. Jared was sitting in his usual spot with his legs sprawled underneath the desk. His face was trying to conceal the excitement and it looked like a pained grimace took over his face. Jensen grinned. He’s adorable.

Wow. Jensen couldn’t believe he just thought that. Something was seriously wrong with him.

Jensen took his seat beside Jared and was rewarded with a dimpled smile so bright the sun looked dim. “Hi, Jay,” Jensen said.

Jared knocked his knee against Jensen’s. “Hey, Jen.”

Jared’s leg was bouncing under the desk. Jensen knew it meant Jared was nervous, so he steadied Jared’s leg with his hand. “Calm down, Jay.”

Jared tilted his head into Jensen’s shoulder and Jensen felt Jared’s warm breath against his collarbone when he spoke. “I have a lot of energy.”

“You’re a fucking puppy,” Jensen mumbled. “Don’t you ever stop moving?”

“No, not really.”

Jensen laughed. “Get off me. We’re in class.”

Jared moved his head of Jensen’s chest but slid his hand into Jensen’s under the desk. “Hm, when has class ever mattered to you before?” Jared murmured.

“Oh my god, you’re turning into me. And I’m turning into you,” Jensen whispered in mock-horror. Jared pushed their intertwined hands against Jensen’s crotch and he let out an involuntary gasp. “If you’re going to grope me in class, we should at least—oh god—sit in the back,” Jensen squeezed out between gritted teeth.

Jared smirked. “Not doing anything,” He replied and added a little more pressure.

“Oh my god, who are you and what have you done with Jared Padalecki?” Jensen hissed. “You are not the shy boy I fell for.”

“What? Upset I’m not a geek anymore, Jen?” Jared teased.

“I’m going to kill you. I’m actually going to kill you,” Jensen promised. Jared grinded their hands more firmly against Jensen’s steadily-growing-hard dick. Jensen aimed a kick at Jared’s shin and Jared released his hand to palm at Jensen’s dick in revenge. “Oh god, I hate you. Stop!”

Jared stopped. “M’kay.” The smirk on his face was hotter than Jensen was willing to admit. I can’t believe I ever thought he was adorable.

“You stopped,” Jensen whined.

“You asked me to.”

“And you actually listened?” Jensen asked. “You’re just going to leave me hanging?”

“It’s the middle of class, just like you said,” Jared taunted.

Jensen’s mouth fell open. Jared Padalecki is the devil. There weren’t words to describe Jensen’s feelings right now. Any coherent thoughts were replaced with wantwantwant. Confident Jared was as sexy as Shy Jared, if not more.

Needless to say, Jensen didn’t hear a word of what Edlund said to the class.

 

 *******

Jared knew Jensen was pissed, but he also knew Jensen was turned on. Jared had no idea what possessed him to grope Jensen in the middle of class, where any of the students or—oh god—Edlund could have seen them. And Jared liked it. Jensen was right; this confidence was coming out of nowhere.

As soon as he and Jensen exited the class Jensen had him pinned against the lockers and he slammed his lips against Jared’s. “Fucking asshole, left me hanging,” Jensen muttered before kissing Jared again. Students cast them weird looks as they passed but the only thing Jared cared about was Jensen’s lips and Jensen’s dick pressing against Jared.

“Want you,” Jared panted.

“I swear to god, you’re going to be the death of me,” Jensen snapped. “We’re skipping class.” He yanked Jared into the bathroom and slammed a stall door shut behind them. Jared couldn’t get a word out between forceful kisses. “So hot,” Jensen groaned. “My god.”

Jared mimicked his groan and pressed his crotch against Jensen’s. “Jen,” He managed to squeak out.

Jensen hummed against Jared’s lips. “Not so confident now, are you?” He pushed his hips sharply against Jared’s and Jared grabbed Jensen’s hair to try and distract himself from the insane pleasure Jensen’s hips sent through him.

Jared stopped moving and barely stifled a gasp when he heard the door open. The look of shock on Jensen’s face told Jared he heard the door too. Jared’s alarm turned to downright panic when he noticed the smirk on Jensen’s face.

Jensen’s hand cupped Jared through his jeans, the same way Jared had tortured Jensen in class. “Can’t make too much noise,” Jensen murmured.

Jensen’s hand was a mix between hell and heaven. His nails dragged against Jared’s balls and Jared wanted to moan and beg Jensen for something; Jared just wanted his hand or, oh god, his mouth.  

Jared wanted to throw his head back and groan and cry Jensen’s name. He bit his lip to try and muffle his desperate panting. The footsteps still padded around the bathroom and Jared was tempted to scream at the other guy to leave so Jared could let out the noises Jensen’s hand temped to pull out of him.

Jared dug his nails into his palm and hoped the pain could starve off the need to come. “Please,” Jared begged as quietly as he could.

“Please what?” Jensen purred. “Please stop? Please make you come? Please make you cry my name so loud the whole school hears it, and not just the guy gracing us with his presence?”

Jared couldn’t think straight. Jensen’s hand was big, not as big as Jared’s, but big enough that he could fondle Jared’s balls at the same time he squeezed his dick. Jensen pressed his lips against Jared’s and then kissed a trail down Jared’s neck, stopping at the pulse point to suck and lick. Jared bit his lip so hard he almost pierced the skin. “Jensen, gonna—gonna—Jen, please.”

“Shh, Jay, don’t want him to hear you.”

When Jared thought it couldn’t get any worse, another boy came in. The two seemed to know each other because they struck up a conversation. Jensen’s hand never left Jared’s dick. “They sound like freshman,” Jensen murmured. “Gonna let two little freshman hear you beg for me? Gonna let them hear you come? Such a slut, Jay, groping me in class and letting me get you off in the bathroom. No way you’re a virgin.”

Jared’s throat went dry. He never thought he’d like anyone talking him off, but Jensen’s honey-like voice was sexier than anything Jared had ever heard. “So hot, Jay. God, the things you do to me. I’m so hard it’s ridiculous.” Jensen kissed Jared. “I’m so crazy about you.” The last words weren’t spoken in the purr Jensen used before; they were laced with affection and kindness. Jared lost it at that. He couldn’t stop the moan that ripped from his throat. He came in his jeans and felt the sticky come drip down his legs.

Jensen smirked at him. The two boys outside the stalls had stopped talking and Jared knew they must have heard him. Hell, anyone within 100 feet probably heard him. It wasn’t long before two pairs of feet darted out of the bathroom. Jared glared at Jensen. “I can’t believe you did that.”

“You’re so hot when you come,” Jensen purred. “Couldn’t help it.”

Jared glanced at Jensen’s crotch, expecting to see a bulge, but instead he saw a faint dark spot. “You came?”

Jensen’s smirk was replaced with a blush. “Said you were hot.” 

Jared kissed Jensen sweetly. “I’m crazy about you, too.”

Jensen didn’t do anything but wrap his arms around Jared’s neck and pull him back into the kiss. “I could kiss you for hours,” Jensen admitted with a blush. “Don’t even want to do anything else. Just kiss you.”

Jared’s arms wound around Jensen’s waist. The same guy who’d talked Jared off in the bathroom was nuzzling his neck, kissing it gently. “Love kissing you,” Jensen repeated. “Love you.”

Jared’s dick twitched with interest and he couldn’t believe there was anything left that could turn him on. Apparently Jensen was proving Jared wrong in all kinds of ways. Jensen’s light kisses and nips sent blood straight to Jared’s dick. “Love you.”

Jensen smiled against Jared’s neck. “Hm, looks like you want to go another round,” Jensen whispered. Jared whimpered and pressed his dick against Jensen’s leg.

Jensen pulled away. “Sorry, gorgeous, I’ve got a paper to finish. Gotta run.”

“You’re just going to leave me?” Jared squeaked.

Jensen winked. “Payback’s a bitch, baby.” He kissed Jared one last time. “See you after school.”

Jensen left Jared with that, standing in the bathroom with a half-hard dick and sticky boxers.

 

Jared sat uncomfortably the rest of the day. It was hard to find a position to sit in with come squelching around. Jared sat by Jensen at lunch and he smirked at Jared every time their eyes met. “Don’t forget,” Jensen murmured when he walked Jared to class, “You might be hot as hell when you’re confident, but no one can tease better than me.” His eyes flicked to the growing bulge in Jared’s pants. “I win.”

I am so getting him back.  

 

 *****

Jensen leaned back against the heated metal of Jared’s truck and let his eyes fall shut. The truck warmed Jensen’s back and if it was possible to fall asleep standing up, Jensen would surely have done it by now. Maybe he’d curl up on the hood and fall asleep there.

Strong arms wrapping around his waist and a quick kiss to Jensen’s lips made his eyes spring open. “Hi, Jay.”

Jared smiled at him. “How was the rest of your day?”

“Better than yours,” Jensen replied with a smirk. He pressed his knee against Jared’s dick and he shuddered.

“Jerk.”

“Bitch,” Jensen retorted. “Wanna go home and blow off our homework?”

Jared rolled his eyes. “I’m not at the point in the school year where I’m at leisure to stop caring.”

“You’re a straight A student with a scholarship. Let go once and a while.”

“I do!” Jared protested. “Thanks to you.”

“You make it sound like a bad thing.”

“Well, no one’s ever gotten me off in the school bathroom before. And I don’t exactly make a habit of skipping class.”

“Aw, Jay, it’s so cute that you’re such a good student,” Jensen teased. “Though I’m not complaining when you go a little crazy. We might have to start sitting in the back during history.”

“Uh, okay. S-sounds, um, good,” Jared stammered.

Jensen smiled. “There’s my Jared.”

“Your Jared?”

“Yup. Shy and adorable and geeky.”

“I am not adorable.”

“You are,” Jensen teased. “You are so adorable. Like a puppy.”

Jared’s eyes glinted with mischief and he pinned Jensen to the car. “I’ll show you adorable.” His lips crashed against Jensen’s and Jensen moaned into his lips. Jared’s hands slid under Jensen’s shirt and stroked the soft, car-warmed skin. Jensen tilted his head back and let Jared bite and kiss at his neck. “How’s that?”

“Pretty damn awesome,” Jensen sighed. “I could get used to that Jared.”

“As long as I’m yours,” Jared replied.

“Always.”

 

Jensen carded his fingers through Jared’s hair while Jared did his calc homework and Jensen read whatever book necessary for English. He wasn’t exactly processing a word of the novel; his attention was focused on the way Jared’s soft hair slid through his fingers and the purrs of contentment Jared let out. “This is nice.”

Jensen kissed the top of his boyfriend’s head. “Yeah,” He agreed. “Really nice.”

Jared grinned up at Jensen. “We totally owe Edlund.”

“Oh god, never say that again,” Jensen groaned. “I owe him so much. It’s weird.”

“What else do you owe him for?” Jared asked.

“Well, you know how I got into college without applying?” Jared nodded. “Edlund and Kripke sent in my application. They even met with the board or whoever to make arrangements for a football scholarship and promised I’d get my grades up.”

“Edlund did? The teacher that hates you?”

Jensen smiled. “Apparently he doesn’t hate me.”

“Don’t understand how anyone could possibly hate you,” Jared said easily. “You’re amazing.” Jared said it like it was a plain fact that everyone should know.

Jensen blushed and tried to distract himself with the book. What was it about Jared that reduced him to a blushing mess? For god’s sake, he came in his pants without even having to touch himself. “What are you doing to me,” Jensen muttered to himself. Jared heard him, judging by the smile on his face, but didn’t say anything. He just rested his free hand on Jensen’s knee and squeezed it. Eventually Jensen couldn’t take it anymore. He put the book down and he pushed Jared’s calculus out of the way so they could face each other. “What’s up?” Jared asked.

Jensen doesn’t know. He just wants Jared’s undivided attention. “I dunno.”

Jared reached out a hand and cupped Jensen’s face. “Wanna tell me what you’re thinking about?”

“You,” Jensen said honestly. “All I can think about is you.” He let out a huff of air. “Sounds so stupid.”

Jared leaned forward and nuzzled at Jensen’s neck. “Nothing you say sounds stupid to me. I love when you say things like that.”

“I wanna sleep with you,” Jensen sighed. At Jared’s alarmed expression Jensen hurriedly explained, “Not sex, not sex. Just wanna lie with you. I like having your arms around me. It’s comfortable.” Jensen was fire engine red and he ducked his head shyly.

Jared tilted Jensen’s head back up. “You drive me crazy, Jensen Ackles.”

“Can I stay the night again?”

“Won’t your parents wonder where you are?” Jared asked.

Jensen picked at a loose string on Jared’s bed. “Mack figured it out. Mom said it was okay as long as we were safe. Um, I think she thinks we’re, you know.”

Jared laughed. “She didn’t buy the ‘we’re just sleeping’?”

“We’re teenage boys. Two of them. If you were a parent, would you believe it?”

Jared grinned. “Fair point.” He pulled Jensen close so he was straddling Jared’s lap. “Wanna make out?”

“Oh god yes,” Jensen panted. His mouth was on Jared’s before he could say another word. Jensen never kissed anyone as passionately or as long as he kissed Jared. With Danneel it was all about sex. Kissing was a background concept. With Jared, all Jensen wanted to do was kiss him. They were safe and warm kisses, like little promises that Jared pressed against Jensen. Kisses that said, love  and happiness and treasure. Jensen broke the kiss and wrapped his arms so tightly around Jared the other boy gave a gasp of surprise before returning the hug.

That’s another thing Jensen loves about Jared. His hugs were priceless. They were one of Jensen’s favorites, coming second only to kissing. Jensen felt safe in his arms and oh my god I’m a girl. Jensen buried his face in Jared’s neck at the thought but didn’t pull away.

“Jen, you okay?” Jared murmured.

I love you, Jensen wanted to say. So fucking much. It’s so stupid that I’m saying it so soon but I can’t think about anything but you and I can’t even be apart from you without going out of my mind. It’s so cheesy and dumb but if that’s not love I don’t know what is. Just want you to know.

Jared’s arms tighten around him. “Are you okay?” He asked again when Jensen didn’t respond.

“I think you broke me,” Jensen replied. Jared threw back his head and laughed.

“You broke me first.”

Jensen had to smile. “Hey, Jared, about Prom-,”

Megan took that time to bang on the door. “Jared! Mom wants to know if you and Jensen want pizza for dinner!”

Jared rolled his eyes. “How do you know Jensen is staying for dinner?”

“Are you saying he’s not?”

“Never said that,” Jared grumbled. “And pizza’s fine.” He turned to Jensen. “Pizza’s fine, right?”

Jensen nodded. The moment to talk about Prom and their feelings had passed and Jensen picked his book up again. “Pizza’s fine.”

Jared beamed at him and resumed his calc homework. Jensen felt a strange wistfulness, wishing that he was brave enough to tell Jared what he was thinking.

 

 ******

Something was off with Jensen. One moment he was snuggled up to Jared and even mentioned Prom, and the next moment he was reading his book with such an intensity in his eyes Jared knew he couldn’t possibly be thinking about the words. Not even Jensen was that into English.

Jared wanted to ask if Jensen was okay again, but he knew better than to push. He settled for letting his head drop into Jensen’s lap and snuggling into him when Jensen’s hand combed through Jared’s hair again. “Adorable,” Jensen murmured and tore his eyes away from the book to smile at Jared. “So adorable.”

Jared abandoned his homework and let his arms circle Jensen’s waist. “And yours.”

“And mine.” Those were the last words Jared heard before his eyes fluttered shut and he fell asleep in his boyfriend’s lap.

 

Jared woke to Jensen shaking his shoulder and smiling fondly at him. “Wake up. Pizza’s here.”

“Don’t want pizza. Want you.”

Jensen chuckled. “You’ve got me, Jay. But I’m hungry and I know you are too.” Jared’s stomach growled to emphasize Jensen’s point. “See?”

Jared sighed. “Did I—was it weird?”

“What? To have you asleep on me?” Jensen asked. “No. I really liked it. You’re—you look peaceful when you sleep.”

“Everyone does,” Jared pointed out.

“Not everyone. You look young and peaceful and it made me-,” Jensen cut off his sentence.

Made you what? Jared wanted to ask. What did I do? Jensen noticed his expression. “Nothing bad, Jay.” He laughed. “You have no idea what you do to me.”

Jared kissed his cheek. “Might have some idea. Now come on, I want pizza.”

“A few minutes ago you were fast asleep. Now you’re bright and awake and you want pizza.”

“Yup!” Jared said. “Now come on. Or do I have to carry you?”

“You’re the one that just fell asleep,” Jensen reminded him.

Jared didn’t say that he’d rather stay asleep in Jensen’s lap for the rest of his life. He just winked at Jensen and hauled him to his feet. “Come on. I’m starving.”

“You’re always starving,” Jensen teased. He looped his arms around Jared’s neck and kissed him gently. “It’s cute.”

Jared nuzzled his neck and decided not to contradict Jensen. If Jensen wanted to think he was cute, that was okay because it got Jared more of the chaste kisses that Jared drowned in. “Pizza,” Jared repeated. But the more Jensen kissed him, the further back pizza slid in his brain until he decided he’d go a week without food if he could keep making out with Jensen.  

“Losers, the pizza’s getting cold!” Megan yelled from outside the door. Dammit, Megan, why now?

“M’kay,” Jensen hummed. “Be down in a sec.” Jared grinned and ran his fingers down Jensen’s back to cup his ass. “Maybe more than a sec.”

“Ugh, gross,” Megan grumbled. Jared heard her feet padding away.

Jared giggled into Jensen’s neck. “Five minutes?”

“Good idea,” Jensen breathed. He pushed Jared against the bed. “Let’s see what we can work into five minutes.”

 ******

They jogged down the stairs in six minutes, faces flushed and hair mussed. They hadn’t done more than make out but Jared was surprised how hot that could be. It was a thousand times better than being with Sophia. Ten thousand times better. His mom and Megan gave them weird looks but Jared ignored them and focused on Jensen’s adorable blush. Jared wasn’t the only cute one.

Megan filled the silence by bombarding questions at Jensen. After an initial moment of awkwardness, Jensen gains his footing and becomes so charming Megan turns red and stumbles over her words. Jared bit his lip to prevent the laugh that was threatening to spill out. His boyfriend was so hot.

At the end of the meal, Sherri cleaned up and insisted Megan help her. Jared was grateful they were giving him and Jensen a bit of privacy. Jensen gave him a soft smile. “Hey,” He murmured.

Jared grinned. “Hey.” He kissed Jensen’s cheek. “How’re you? Megan’s been monopolizing your conversation.”

Jensen found Jared’s hand under the table. “I like your family.”

“Yeah, they’re pretty cool. When they’re not telling embarrassing stories about me.”

Jensen eyes lit up with mischief. “They know embarrassing stories about you?”

“Don’t even think about it, Ackles.”

“Come on. What kind of boyfriend would I be if I didn’t know embarrassing childhood stories about you?”

Jared growled and pounced on Jensen. “Pain in the ass boyfriend.”

Jensen’s lying on his back and laughing. “Right, because you’re a real catch.”

Jared drops his whole weight on Jensen and he gasps before dissolving into laughter again. “Fucking heavy, dude!”

Jared didn’t move and opted for kissing Jensen instead. “Not that heavy. Weakling.”

Jensen growled and flipped them. “Who’re you calling a weakling?”

“How’d you do that?”

Jensen smirked. “Football player, remember?”

“Fuck you.”

“I’d be up for that,” Jensen purred. That voice alone was going to kill Jared. Jared’s breathing became heavier and he slammed his lips on Jensen’s. Jared didn’t even know if you could call it a kiss; it was clashing of teeth and biting and sucking and Jared moaned into Jensen’s mouth.

“Wow,” Jensen murmured when he pulled away.

Jared blushed at being so forceful with his kiss. “Sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. That was hot.”

Jared buried his face in Jensen’s neck. “God, my sister could walk in at any moment.”

“So maybe it’s a good idea to get off. And you’re crushing my lungs.”

Jared rolls off Jensen and sits next to him. They’re lying on their backs and let their fingers gently brush against each others. “Are you happy?” Jared asked quietly.

Jensen was silent for a moment and Jared started to panic. Of course Jensen wasn’t happy. He probably just tolerated Jared. His body was shaking with fear and he wanted to jump up and say never mind and run away.

Jensen stroked Jared’s arm. “You panicking?”

“No,” Jared squeaked. Jensen still hadn’t given an answer to Jared’s question.

Jensen smiled. “Liar.” He leaned over and kissed Jared sweetly. “How could you ever think I’m not happy with you? You drive me crazy, you make me want to stay up all night and listen to you talk. My legs fucking fell asleep when your head was resting on them but all I could think about was how beautiful you are. I’m so happy with you sometimes it’s hard for me to breathe. And here I am, telling you all this like a girl, because you can’t seem to get that I love you.”  

Jared will remember that moment for the rest of his life. Jensen said “I love you” and he said that he was happy with Jared. Jensen Ackles, who could be with anyone in the world, was happy with Jared. “I love you,” Jared echoed. “So much.”

Jensen kissed Jared, his lips curling up in a smile. “Cool.”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed. “Cool.” 

Chapter Text

Jensen loved Jared Padalecki. There was no questioning that.

And Jared loved Jensen. Probably. Definitely. Yeah, he loved Jensen.

But despite the love between them, Jensen couldn’t find it in himself to ask Jared to Prom. Or tell him that he was technically already taking Danneel but he could probably cancel if needed. Prom was approaching rapidly and hung like a black cloud above Jensen’s head. Not only was it the day after the football championship, which meant Jensen would much rather relax and unwind than get all spiffed up for some stupid dance. Fucking cram himself into a tux or a suit or whatever, buy the corsage, and pretend to enjoy himself.

He probably could enjoy himself with Danneel. They were friends and Danni knew how gone he was over Jared. If all else failed, he could steal booze from Chris and get shit-faced drunk. At least he wouldn’t be able to mope about Jared.

Oh god, what if Jared stopped loving him because he went to Prom with Danni? Jensen’s life might actually end.

No, that wasn’t possible. It was just a stupid dance; Jensen would go, try to enjoy one song, maybe two. And then he would get lost because Jensen didn’t want to be at Prom if Jared wasn’t his date.

Jared noticed his sulky mood at tutoring, which wasn’t so much tutoring as it was rushing through homework and then lying on Jared’s bed and making out. It was very PG and very middle school—if middle schoolers made out, Jensen couldn’t remember—but it was sweet. Jensen liked the quiet moments he and Jared shared.

Jared knew him better than anyone, scarily well. So when Jensen hardly spoke during tutoring and blew through his homework without a single complaint, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Jared asked him what was wrong.

“Nothing,” Jensen grunted. “Just hate homework.”

Jared snorted. “So instead of whining like you have every other day, you clam up and act like a prepubescent teenager.”

“Yeah.”

“Bullshit.” In a softer voice Jared continued, “Jen, you can tell me what’s wrong. I won’t judge you.”

Jensen was acting very childish about this. But whatever. Jensen was immature. “Nothing’s up.”

Jared sighed exasperatedly. “We can play this game all night, Jensen. But I’m going to keep asking until you give in.”

“We can’t just make out?” Jensen asked hopefully. Jared shot him a look and the hope vanished. “Fine.”

“Fine what?”

“Fine, I’ll tell you why I’m all moody. But you can’t laugh.”

Jared’s eyes widened innocently. “Why would I laugh?” Jensen glared and Jared conceded. “Okay, okay, no laughing, got it.” 

“It’s about Prom,” Jensen mumbled.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Jensen sighed. “Prom. Are you at all bothered by the fact that I’m going with Danneel?”

“Do you want me to be bothered?”

“Of course not!” Jensen said emphatically. “You’re my boyfriend.”

“So you don’t want me to get ragingly jealous and steal you away?” Jared smirked when he asked the question but Jensen wondered if Jared would steal him away.

“You know, this isn’t the reaction I was expected,” Jensen grumbled.

“What were you expecting?”

“I dunno…” It would be nice if you acted like you care we’re not going to Prom together. “I guess I wasn’t expecting anything.”

Jared leans forward and kisses Jensen quickly. “I trust you.”

“Love you,” Jensen murmured against Jared’s lips. “And trust you.”

Jared pulled back. “Did you want me to get all jealous and protective? Make sure Danneel knows that even though you’re her date, you’re my boyfriend?”

Yes. “No. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.”

Jensen was grateful Jared didn’t call him on his bluff. “Okay then. And besides, who’s to say that I won’t come to the dance and steal you for a few dances?”

Jensen smiled. “I’d like that.”

“Good.” Jared pulled Jensen close to him so they were wrapped up so tightly it was impossible to tell which limbs belonged to who. “Because you’re still my boyfriend.”

“And it doesn’t disturb you at all that I’m going to the biggest dance of the year with my ex-girlfriend?”

“No. I trust you,” Jared repeated. “And Danni seems to support our relationship anyways. I don’t think she’d try anything.”

Jensen didn’t know why Jared’s relaxed attitude about this whole thing bothered him. It was nice to know Jared trusted him but Danneel was his ex-girlfriend and Jensen couldn’t deny that he’d always found jealousy kind of hot.

I guess I’ll just have to get used to a laidback attitude. Jensen could do that. “I think I’m gonna get going.”

Jared looked confused. “Why?”

“I have to go to football early,” Jensen lied. For god’s sake, why was he acting like a petulant child about this? Jared trusted him, and he was taking it as an insult. From the look on Jared’s face, he knew all of this too. Jensen started to gather up his things to avoid seeing the disappointment on his boyfriend’s face. I’m an asshole.

Jensen was halfway out Jared’s bedroom door when a hand caught his wrist. Jensen turned and saw Jared’s heartbroken face. “Why are you leaving?” Jared asked. He looked like a kicked puppy. “Did I say something wrong?”

Jensen felt like the biggest jerk in the world. “No, Jay, no, of course not.” Jensen pulled Jared’s arms around his waist. “I’m just having a long day.”

Jared kissed his temple. “Want me to kiss it better?”

Jensen sank into his embrace. “I’m sort of an asshole. Not great at relationships. I screwed it up with Danni and I guarantee I’m going to screw it up with you, too. I already have, several times.”

Jared laughed. “I get it. You need some time. S’okay. I’ll be here when you’re ready.”

“I don’t deserve you.”

“No,” Jared agreed jokingly, “You don’t. But I love you, so suck it up.”

Jensen hugged Jared tightly. “I’ll see you tonight.”

“You’re not going to sneak in via tree again, are you?”

Jensen smirked. “You love it.”

“I really don’t.”

“Liar,” Jensen teased. Jared grabbed him around his waist.

“You’re such a pain.”

“Let me go,” Jensen flicked his arm. “Don’t like you.”

Jared kissed his forehead again. “Get lost.” His lips pressed against Jensen’s gently. “And call me later.”

Jensen nodded and slid slowly away from his boyfriend. “Will do.”

 ******

In the beginning, Jared thought dating Jensen would be an uphill battle. He was so wrong. Dating Jensen was trying to scale a smooth, completely vertical hill with bare hands. He was confusing and mystifying and made impulsive decisions.

It’s worth it. It’s worth it. Jared kept repeating Chris’ words over and over again. It is worth it, but it’s not easy. It seemed like every day Jensen went from being happier than words could describe to second guessing the relationship entirely. Jared wanted to be Jensen’s boyfriend, he really did. But having every single thing questioned might get tiring after a while. It’s worth it, it’s worth it. Jensen’s worth it.

Jared didn’t ever know what Jensen wanted him to do. Jensen was happy. He was. He’d told Jared himself how happy he was. But it was hard to believe it when Jensen seemed to want to leave half the time they were together.

But they hadn’t been in a relationship for very long. It was bound to improve as they moved forward. Jared up a book that he’d discarded after reading a few chapters. The words blurred together, paragraphs becoming no more than black smudges.

Jensen, Jared thought, what are you doing to me?

 

Jared hardly ate any dinner. He couldn’t tell how things were left between him and Jensen. It didn’t seem like there was any animosity between them. But the situation only confused Jared. It wasn’t a big deal to Jared that Jensen’s date to Prom was Danneel. He knew they were just friends. Danneel seemed almost more excited about Jensen's relationship with Jared than Jared.

Okay, maybe not more excited. Equally excited.

If Jensen had concerns about going with Danneel, he’d say something.  Jared really did trust Jensen to be faithful. He wasn’t jealous. It seemed like Jensen had wanted him to get angry, to want to attack Danneel for even considering going with Jensen.

Megan noticed his appetite, or rather lack thereof, and commented on it. “Jare, you haven’t touched your food. Either you have a terminal illness or you’re full, and you’re never full.”

Jared poked at the meatloaf his mom made. “There’s a first time for everything.” 

“Did something happen between you and Jensen?” Gerry asked. Jared’s head shot up in surprise.

“Why would you think that?”

“Well, you’re not eating, which is a red flag in Jared-speak,” Megan pointed out. “And you’re all mopey.”

“I am not mopey,” Jared snapped. “And there’s nothing wrong with me and Jensen.”

“Jensen and me.”

“Shut up, Meg.”

“Be nice,” Sherri rebuked half-heartedly. The two teenagers mumbled apologies.

Megan stared at him until Jared swung his head to look at her. Megan didn’t say anything, but she mouthed, call Jeff.

Jared scoffed internally. Jeff may have given him good advice once upon a time, but Jared didn’t want his big brother knowing all the awkward details about his life. It was too embarrassing. What was Jared supposed to say to him, anyway? My boyfriend is acting weird and I’m not quite sure what’s wrong? Jensen said everything was okay.

 But when dinner ended Jared found himself shut in his room with his thumb hovering over Jeff’s contact. “Man up, Padalecki,” Jared mumbled to himself. He pressed call and listened to it ring.

Jeff picked up after four rings. “Yello?” It sounded like Jeff was at a party; there was a bass throbbing in the background and shouting and squealing of college girls.

“Hi Jeff,” Jared said. “Is this a bad time?”

“Not at all, little brother,” Jeff said. “Give me a sec.” Jared waited and listened to the music and screaming fading. “Hey. I had to go outside.”

“Where are you? Are you at a party?” Jared asked. “It’s Wednesday.”

“Dude, any day is party day at college,” Jeff said. “Though maybe it’ll be different for my nerdy little brother.”

"Thank goodness I have you as a role model."

"Ouch, little brother," Jeff teased.

“You’re a jerk.”

Jeff laughed. “What do you need?”

“How do you know I need something? Maybe I just want to talk to you!”

Jeff snorted. “Is that the truth?”

“No,” Jared grudgingly admitted. “I need advice.”

“That’s what I’m here for. I’m a fountain of wisdom.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “You’re not drunk, are you?”

“No. Just a little tipsy.”

“I can call back if this is a bad time,” Jared offered.

“You called me now, we’re talking now, little brother,” Jeff replied. “Now spill.”

“It’s about Jensen.”

“Oh yeah! How’s your quest to make him love you?”

Jared blushed. “Um, he does. We’re together.”

“Congrats, little bro! What’d you need advice on? How to break up with him?”

“No, not even close!” Jared said, horrified. “I definitely don’t want to do that.”

“So what do you want?”

“How can you know—I mean, how do you know if someone wants to break up with you?”

“Um, well sometimes it comes out of nowhere,” Jeff told him.

Jared blanched. “Oh. Great. Is there an ‘other times’ in there?”

“Yeah. Other times it’s pretty obvious. They avoid you or act weird or different or avoid talking about personal stuff. Sometimes they’re trying to goad you into breaking up with them so they can avoid the hard stuff.” Jeff paused. “Do you think Jensen’s breaking up with you? How long have you been together?”

“Um, a few days. Since Friday. But then-,” Jared stopped. He didn’t really want to mention that he and Jensen already hit a speed bump. “Then things got weird today. Like, really weird.”

“That’s not helping me understand the situation.”

“Well, he asked me if it bothered me that he was going to Prom with his ex-girlfriend.”

“And you said…”

“I said it didn’t bother me. That I trusted him.” Jeff went quiet. “Jeff?” Jared asked. “Where’d you go, man?”

“What happened after you said that?” Jeff asked.

“Um, he left. Said he had to go to football early but I think—I know that’s a lie. What was I supposed to do, lie? Say that he has to break off his plans with Danneel? I trust him!”

“Calm down, little brother,” Jeff soothed. “It’s alright. I think he just wanted some confirmation that you were seriously into him. Sort of possessive.”

“Possessive,” Jared repeated. “Why would I have to be possessive?”

Jeff sighed. “I don’t know. Girls like it when you defend them or act all protective. There’s a balance between overbearing and protective that you have to find.”

“You’re remembering Jensen is a boy, right? Not a girl?”

“If he gets touchy because you’re not glowing green with jealousy, he’s the girl in the relationship.”

“But he’s not going to break up with me, right?” Jared asked frantically. “He still loves me.”

“Of course. I mean, I’m pretty sure.”

Pretty sure?” Jared squeaked. “So it’s possible that he’s going to break up with me?”

“Jare. He’s not going to break up with you. Stop freaking out.”

Jared took a deep breath. “He’s not going to dump me.”

“No. Calm yourself.” A shout echoed in the background. “Gotta go now, Jared. Party’s really getting started now.”

It’s 7:00. What kind of party gets going at 7:00? Jared thought the parties were supposed to start getting active around midnight. What do I know? Jared thought. I’m not a college student.

Jeff didn’t think Jensen was going to break up with him. Okay. That’s cool. Jared trusted his older brother. He had more experience with relationships than Jared and although he didn’t think Jeff had ever been in a relationship with another guy, it couldn’t be that different than dating a girl.

Jensen’s going to be the death of me, Jared decided.

Fuck relationships. It just wasn’t worth the trouble. There was panic and uncertainty half the time and complete and udder devotion the other half. Or maybe a quarter of the time. And then the last remaining quarter was friendship. Why did panic take up more room than devotion in a relationship?

Jared felt a wave of anxiety. Maybe that’s just relationships with Jensen.

 *****

The funny thing is that Prom isn’t a big deal. But Jensen’s made it out to be a big deal because he had a minor freak out over something as stupid as Jared not going all he-man because Jensen is going to prom with his ex-girlfriend. Jensen should be grateful Jared trusts him so much.

Instead he’s pissed. Irrationally, pathetically angry. And he has no adequate reason to be so upset. It takes everything Jensen has not to call Jared and confess that he’s probably the dumbest guy alive. Because that would be the smart thing to do, and Jensen’s never claimed to be smart.

Jensen promised Jared he’d come back after practice. But when practice ended, he lingered to talk to Chris and then his coach and drove aimlessly in circles before arriving at home and taking the slowest shower of all time. He picked at the sandwich he made—because his family was closer, but not to the stage where they ate dinner together—before eating it one small bite at a time. If he arrived at Jared’s house and the door slammed in his face—well, Jensen couldn’t blame Jared.

Jensen decided he’d go in the window again. At least that way Jared couldn’t slam it in his face unless he wanted Jensen to fall and break several bones.

Now he was being an asshole so Jared couldn’t avoid him. He really had to work out some issues.

Jared hadn’t texted him. Jared always sent Jensen at least one text message when they weren’t close enough to talk to each other. Always. He’d become dependent on those text messages; they were little pieces of Jared that Jensen could be with even if he couldn’t be with actual Jared. But there were no text messages.

“Is this relationship going to work?” Jensen wondered aloud.

The little voice in his head that sounded like Mack hissed, yes, of course it will. How could you think otherwise?

“We fell too hard, too fast,” Jensen pointed out.

It’s romantic.

“It’s a rash decision. We should have started slow, dinner and a movie.”

Your relationship has been working perfectly at the pace it is, the little voice scoffed. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.

“Yeah, another friend told me that,” Jensen said, thinking of Danni. “And now I’m talking to myself.”

Forgive me for advising you, the little voice hissed. I’ll be going now.

Jensen sat on his bed and stared at the wall. “I’m losing my mind.” 

Yeah. Maybe a little.

 

Jensen stood at the base of the tree that grew beside Jared’s bedroom. The first time it had been so easy to scale the damn thing. All that had been going through Jensen’s mind was JaredJaredJard. Jensen was going to climb the tree because at the top was the guy he was crazy about.

Now the tree looked more complicated that a spider’s web.

Jensen couldn’t find a place to start on the tree.

Couldn’t find where to put his foot, where to grab on to lift himself up.

Jared was at the top, and Jensen wasn’t brave enough to climb up a tree.

He put his hand on one of the indents on the tree. All he’d have to do was pull up and his feet would find spaces and it would take a few cautious footsteps until he reached the thickly layered branches at the top. But Jensen kept holding himself in place, one foot on the ground and another on the tree.

Be brave.

It wasn’t Mackenzie’s voice scolding him now. It was a different voice, a voice Jensen hadn’t heard since he was 14 years old. Okay. If he was hearing Josh in his head, it either meant Jensen had actually lost his mind, or his phantom big brother was giving him advice.

Well, Jensen thought, I don’t really want to hang out with one foot on the tree for much longer.

Jensen began to climb up the tree, albeit slower than the last time, and when he reached the branches he hid himself for a little bit. Jensen could peer through the window from his hiding spot and see Jared. He was just sitting on the bed, reading a book. His eyes skimmed quickly over the pages and it reminded Jensen how fast of a reader Jared is.

Jensen hung out in the branches that surrounded him, but he wanted to get closer. He maneuvered through the layers of tree bark, careful to only step on the thicker branches. His eyes were so trained on Jared that he didn’t notice when he over stepped and missed the branch. He fell with a yelp and a loud, “Fuck!”

Jared’s book fell from his hands and he jumped to open the window. “Jensen?”

Jensen managed to grab onto a branch before he hit the ground and haul himself up to eye level with Jared. “Hey, Jay!” Jensen tried for cheerful.

“Did you fall?”

“Well, I slipped. But I caught myself. Perfectly okay.” Jensen grinned at him.

Jared didn’t return the smile. “You could have gotten seriously hurt! You idiot I told you not to use the tree!”

Jensen shrugged. “I don’t take direction well.”

Jared stared at him like he was insane. When he finally responded Jared said, “You fucking idiot. I should slam the window shut and make you walk to the front door.”

“But you won’t,” Jensen said. At least, he probably wouldn’t. “Because then you’d leave me hanging in the tree. I don’t know if I can get down.”

“You don’t know if you can—oh my god.” Jared turned away from the window. “Just get in.”

Jensen crawled gingerly out on a limb and pulled himself into Jared’s room. “Hey.”

Jared gave him that look again. It was disapproving and disbelieving at the same time. “Hi.”

Jensen awkwardly stood in the corner of the room with his arms crossed. “Why are you upset?”

“I’m not,” Jared replied. Jensen heard the lie in his voice. If he pushed it, Jared might get angrier. If Jensen let it be, he wouldn’t be able to fix whatever he did wrong.

The two solutions fought a battle in his head and Jensen couldn’t find words to speak. His silence apparently said something to Jared, because he raised an eyebrow and went back to reading his book even though Jensen was standing right in front of him. “Jared,” Jensen started. Jared looked up at him with the skeptical eyebrow raised and coherent thought vanished. “I’m—why are you—did I do something to make you upset?” Even Jensen heard the hurt and insecurity in his voice.

Jared evidently heard it too because his face softened. “I’m not mad. Really.”

Jensen crawled onto the bed and eased the book out of Jared’s hands. “Then what are you?”

Jared snatched the book back. “I’m Jared Padalecki.”

“You’re not going to make this easy on me, are you?” Jensen said glumly. Jared shook his head and Jensen saw a spark of amusement in Jared’s eyes. When Jensen looked again, it was gone and he wondered if it was ever there to begin with.

Jensen let go of the frustration he was feeling earlier and wriggled his way into Jared’s lap. “Didn’t peg you for a cuddler,” Jared said. There was definitely a hint of amusement in that sentence.

“Didn’t peg you for an angsty teenager,” Jensen replied. He hoped Jared could hear the teasing in his voice. Jared wound one of his big, wonderful hands in Jensen’s hair and stroked the nape of his neck, so Jensen figured he had.

Jared hummed. “You like me, right?”

“I love you,” Jensen said easily. “Is that what you’re worried about? That I don’t love you?”

“You’re not gay,” Jared told him.

“You sound like my dad.” Jensen tried to control the icy tone. “And I’ve proved you both wrong.”

Jared nuzzled the crook of his neck. “I love you too. Goddamn it, we’ve only been dating for days and I love you. It’s… terrifying, Jensen.”

Jensen practically purred under Jared’s touch. “I love you. You big, sweet, smart boy. Also you’re not allowed to stop massaging my head.” Jared chuckled at Jensen’s response.

“Like that?” He asked, stroking Jensen’s hair.

“Love it. Love you. And I’ll keep saying it until you believe me.”

Jared pulled Jensen closer and Jensen pressed light kisses against Jared’s collarbone. “Love you so much.”

Jared smiled at Jensen’s words. “Love you too.”

“Awesome. Now can we go to sleep?”

Jared laughed. “Isn’t it a little early?”

Jensen groaned. “Football was exhausted. I almost fell asleep on the drive over here.”

“I could have picked you up,” Jared told him, “If you were that tired.”

Jensen gently eased Jared back until he was flat on the bed. Jensen snuggled up to him and said, “You tell anyone we cuddled and I’ll kill you.”

Jared kissed him softly. “Not even Chris?”

Jensen buried his face in Jared’s neck. “I hate you.”

“Hate you too.” Jared ran his fingers through Jensen’s hair until he was fast asleep.

 *****

Jared would never get tired of waking up with Jensen curled in his arms. It had only been two nights—had it really only been two?—but Jensen was like a giant teddy bear that Jared never failed to find comfort in.

Jensen yawned and his eyes blinked open. “Morning, Jay.”

Jared leaned forward and kissed Jensen swiftly. “Morning.”

Jared made to untangle himself from his boyfriend but Jensen snuggled closer and held Jared tight. “Don’t go.”

“We have school, Jen.”

Jensen rolled Jared onto his back and straddled him. “How do you feel about skipping?”

“Not keen on the idea.”

Jensen leaned forward and kissed Jared again, but it was more forceful and Jared felt Jensen’s tongue trying to fight its way into Jared’s mouth. Jared opened his mouth willingly and felt Jensen tugging at his bottom lip. Jared couldn’t help the moan that escaped his mouth; anyone would moan from kissing someone as gorgeous as Jensen.

Jared reluctantly pushed Jensen off. “If we start, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to stop.”

Jensen hummed. “Okay with me.”

Jared really couldn’t be blamed for leaning in for another kiss.

 

Thursday morning brought anxious football players and a tense student body. Graduation was creeping up faster than Jared expected. It was still hard to imagine he only had one more week of high school.

One more week seeing Jensen every day.

No matter how many times Jensen had kissed him and said, “We still have summer,” Jared couldn’t calm down. He wasn’t willing to lose Jensen so quickly after finally having him. At lunch Jensen finally gave in and dragged Jensen to the lame courtyard no one ever used.

“Jen, why are we out here? This place is…” Jared’s sentence trailed off when he caught Jensen’s raised eyebrow. “Did I say something wrong?”

“I love this place,” Jensen replied. “It’s my safe haven.”

Jared glanced around. “I guess it’s alright.”

Jensen chuckled and stepped forward to wrap his arms around Jared’s waist. “Glad you agree with me. I don’t know if we could have stayed together if you didn’t.” Jared froze and Jensen noticed his stiff posture. “What’s up?”

Jared couldn’t tell him that the thing he feared most was that he would do something that would put Jensen off. And then they would break up. “Nothing,” Jared lied.

Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck. “I’m kidding. It’d take a lot more for me to stop loving you.”

“Just hypothetically, what would it take?”

Jensen placed a gentle kiss on Jared’s neck. “You to stop loving me. And even then I’d probably still love you.”

Jared wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. “Well I’m never going to stop loving you.”

Jensen tilted Jared’s head down so he could kiss him. “I’m so gone over you.”

“Me too,” Jared said honestly. “So gone.”

Chapter Text

 Friday morning Jensen woke up a complete mess. His heart was pounding way too fast at the same time his breathing stopped. He’d spent the night in his loft, without Jared, and he felt strangely alone.

Jensen glanced at the clock. 5:00 am. Over an hour earlier than when Jensen normally woke up. He pulled out his phone and sent a quick text before drifting back into restless sleep.

Jensen woke up the second time an half an hour later. A warm body had climbed in beside him and wrapped their arms around Jensen’s waist, head resting on his shoulder, long hair brushing against Jensen’s neck. Jensen snuggled into the body that curled around him and fell asleep without much trouble.

The third time Jensen roused it was to Jared gently shaking him and murmuring his name. “Jen, come out baby. Wake up, Jen.”

Jensen rolled so he was facing his boyfriend. “You’re here.”

“I’ve been here since 5:30. You snuggled up to me, remember?” Jensen blushed and Jared continued. “I get a text from my boyfriend at 5 am saying that he needs me, you think I’m going to ignore that?”

Jensen’s blush depended. “It was a moment of desperation.”

“And it was only 30 minutes before I’d usually get up,” Jared told him. “I got an extra hour of sleep with my absolutely gorgeous boyfriend.”

“I shouldn’t have woken you.”

Jared kissed him lovingly. “You’re nervous.”

Jensen nodded without meeting Jared’s eyes. “What if I mess up?”

“You won’t.”                                                                                                                          

“Okay, say this is a hypothetical situation and I screw up and we lose the championship tonight?”

Jared leaned down and kissed Jensen’s mouth and then the spot behind his ear that made him shiver, and a trail down his neck. “I’ll love you just as much. Your team will love you. The score at the end of the day is not a reflection on your character or your devotion to the team. If people believe it is, they’re not worth your time.”

“I don’t deserve you,” Jensen said. “And I’ll never say it enough.”

“And I’ll never tell you enough how lucky I am to have you. And how much I love you.”  Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “I think we should get up.”

“No thanks.”

Jared leaned in to kiss him but pulled away at the last moment. Jensen whined and looked at him with confused eyes. Jared smirked. “No more kissing until you get up.”

Jensen fell out of bed he got up so quickly.

 

None of the football players were better than Jensen. They kept their heads down in class and murmured to each other in the hallway. Many of them didn’t go to class and stayed in the cafeteria, staring blankly at the wall.

Jensen was incredibly disturbed by his friends’ behavior. At least he had Jared to lean on. And he took advantage of that fact frequently, letting Jared hold his hand when he walked Jensen to his class, quick kisses even when other people could see, and small, secret smiles that brought Jensen more comfort than anything else could.

The seniors were especially anxious. A more appropriate word would be terrified, but after four years of high school they managed to conceal their apprehension.

It was the last game the seniors would play with the high school. The last time they would ever be Knights. They last championship they would play in. A win meant everything.

Jensen knew many students rolled their eyes at the football players’ behavior. They muttered how they were taking the game much too seriously, why did this even matter? Why were they so upset about one stupid game?

Those people weren’t football fans.

Jensen was nervous, absolutely. But he thrived off the adrenaline that pumped through his veins in anticipation. Jensen saw his friends reacting the same way. At lunch Chris shoveled food down like he had a bottomless pit for a stomach, while Steve had nothing but protein shakes and a granola bar. Jared coaxed Jensen into eating a proper meal, which he was made fun of for, but at least Jensen’s stomach wasn’t empty.

Jared kissed Jensen’s temple. “Jen, everything’s gonna be okay. Alright? It’s all going to be okay.”

Jensen faced his boyfriend and only then did he realize he was squeezing Jared’s hand tight enough for Jared’s fingers to turn white. Jensen released his hand quickly. “I didn’t mean to.” 

Jared snatched Jensen’s hand back in his. “You asshole. Think I can’t handle you?”

“Fuck you.”

Jared leaned his forehead against Jensen’s. “Maybe later.”

Right then, Jensen learned how quickly Jared could make him hard.

 ***** 

Jared loved the habit he and Jensen had fallen into. Jared drove Jensen to school and back to whoever’s house they were tutoring at. Jensen made fun of Jared’s car and how old it was but Jared loved it all the same. He made fun of Jensen’s shiny car and Jensen stopped glaring at the BMW like it personally offended him.

Jared waited against the driver’s side for Jensen. He scanned the parking lot and the stairs leading down from the doors. He couldn’t find his green eyed, golden haired boyfriend anywhere.

Jared didn’t pine for Jensen; he could be patient and acknowledge that Jensen was probably doing something important. But Jensen almost always beat Jared to the car and if he didn’t, Jensen would show up seconds after Jared.

Jared wasn’t worried. He wasn’t going to be the boyfriend that smothered his partner and insisted Jensen tell him everything about his life. Jared just pulled out his phone and waited patiently.

Someone cleared their throat behind Jared. He could tell it was male, but he could also tell it wasn’t Jensen. Jared had a sinking suspicion of who it might be but he prayed it was Chris or Steve.

It wasn’t.

Tom smirked at him with an eyebrow raised. Oh god, Jensen, where are you?

“Wondering where your boyfriend is?” Tom sneered. “He got ‘caught up’ in Chemistry.”

“What’d you do to him?” Jared growled.

 *****

“Oh nothing. Promise. Your boyfriend is 100% safe. But you’re not.”

Jared’s face drained of color. “P-p-please, I didn’t-,”

Tom scoffed. “You think I’m going to hurt you? I value my life, and I doubt Jensen will show my any mercy if I fuck with you.”

“I didn’t do anything,” Jared protested.

“You lost me my best friend.”

“Funny, Chris thought the same thing. But he got over it because he’s not a-,”

Tom shoved him against the car and Jared’s head thrashed back against the hard metal. He couldn’t stop the yelp that came out.

Tom paid no mind to Jared’s pain. “But right now don’t worry about Jensen or me. Worry about you. And I guess maybe sort of worry about Jensen.”

“What are you talking about?”

“The team we’re playing tonight. They’re not exactly gay-friendly. Jensen’s gonna get thrown around and beat up if you come tonight. If they see you with Jensen there will be no end to his pain.” Tom’s ugly smirk reappeared. “So I think you should skip the game.”

“The game means everything to Jensen!” Jared exclaimed. “I’m not skipping it!”

Tom shrugged. “Then don’t say I didn’t warn you when your pretty boy boyfriend ends up in the hospital.”

“Tom?” Jared turned around at Jensen’s voice.

“Jen,” Jared said. He hoped the relief wasn’t evident in his voice.’

“You okay, Jay?” Jensen asked. He kept his eyes on Tom.

“Fine. Just think we should, um, leave.”

Jensen nodded. “I’ll see you tonight, Welling.”

“Have a nice day, Jenny.”

Tom stalked off and Jensen faced Jared. “What’d he say?”

“Nothing,” Jared lied.

“I can see right through the lie.”

Jared’s head fell onto Jensen’s shoulder and he felt a strong arm wrap around him. “Jen…”

“Whatever Tom said, disregard it. Pretend it’s opposite day or something,” Jensen said.

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “’Kay.”

Jensen pecked his lips. “That’s my boy. Can’t wait to hear you cheering me on in the game tonight.”

Jared’s blood ran cold and he prayed Tom just wanted him to skip the game and hurt Jensen. But he couldn’t say no to the hopeful look in Jensen’s eyes. “Of course. I’ll be so loud you’ll go deaf.”

Jensen hugged Jared tightly. “Love you.”

Yeah. Me too.”

If Jensen noticed something off in Jared’s voice, he chose not to mention it.

 

Jared planned a surprise for Jensen—or not really a surprise but a relaxing afternoon. He wanted to ease some of the tension Jensen carried. Jensen leaned against the window of the car looking like the weight of the world is on his shoulders and he’d rather do anything than go out.

“Jen, what do you want to do?” Jared finally asked. He’d planned to go to the pizza parlor and then the park but Jensen seems completely beat up. And great, now Jared’s thinking about what Tom said again.

“Jay?” Jensen started. “You seem a little out of it. Is everything alright?”

Jared nodded and forced a smile. “Just a little out of sorts.”

Jensen leaned over and kissed Jared’s cheek. “Why don’t we go back to my house and watch movies?”

Jared’s smile was closer to genuine. “That sounds awesome.”

They locked themselves in Jensen’s movie room with a quick “hello” to Mackenzie. Jared wasn’t quite sure what movie they stuck in because as soon as Jared sat down he was straddling Jared and kissing him fiercely. Jared meant to pull away and ask what the hell was going on but Jensen chased his mouth. Jared’s mouth fell apart on a question but turned to a moan and Jensen snuck his tongue inside Jared’s mouth. Jared wasn’t complaining; Jensen was the best kisser Jared knew. He could drag moans and begging out of Jared with kissing, whether it was gentle or hungry. Jensen nipped at his lip and then soothed it with his tongue.

Jared pulled apart and groaned, “Jen…”

“I got you, baby, I got you,” Jensen murmured. He pressed gentle kisses against Jared’s collarbone and he let out embarrassingly loud moans. “Feel good?” Jensen teased. Jared pressed his hips against Jensen’s cock in revenge and Jensen gasped.

“Yeah,” Jared replied just as teasingly. “Feels really good.”

Jensen giggled and nuzzled Jared’s neck. “I’m the one playing in a championship and you’re the one freaking out.”

“I’m not freaking out,” Jared huffed.

Jensen grinned. “You so are.” His gaze softened. “Baby, I want to help.”

“Don’t get hurt,” Jared blurted. He blushed and ducked his head.

Jensen cupped Jared’s chin and tilted his head back up. “What’s this about?”

“Championships get rough,” Jared said, “and if you get hurt I might actually go crazy.”

“Aw, my boyfriend cares about my well being,” Jensen cooed. Jared glared at him and shoved Jensen off his lap.

“I’m leaving,” Jared muttered. “See you at your fucking game.”

“Jared!” Jensen jumped to his feet and caught up to Jared. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t like that you fucking mock me when I care. I’m so crazy in love with you so of course I’m going to worry. Sorry you don’t fucking care about that.”

“Getting hurt won’t be that bad,” Jensen protested. “We have a medical team and I’ll feel better.”

“It’s not you—I mean, it is you—but what am I going to think if I see you get tackled? If you’re down like the last game and they have to carry you off? You might be fine, but I sure as hell won’t be.” Jared took a deep breath after his rant.

Jensen looked at him with an unreadable expression. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think about it like that.”

“How can you be so flippant about your safety?”

Jensen put his arms around Jared’s neck and kissed his nose. “I never had anyone care about me like you do. It’s gonna take some getting used to.”

“I guess it will for both of us,” Jared admitted. “Sorry I ranted all that.”

Jensen laid his head on Jared’s shoulder. “It’s actually kinda cute.” 

Jared shoved lightly at his shoulder. “I always wanted to be cute.”

Jensen poked Jared in the side and he squirmed away. “Glad I could fulfill your dreams,” Jensen teased. “Now can we go watch the movie?”

“Do you actually want to watch the movie?”

“Well, by watch the movie I meant make out with you more, so yeah, I really, really, really want to watch the movie.”

 Jared laughed and pulled Jensen back onto his lap. “Me too.”

Jensen hummed against Jared’s lips. “Knew you couldn’t ever stay mad at me.”

Jared nipped his lip in response.  

 *****

Jensen feels sick. He’s pretty sure he’s going to double over any given time and throw up or pass out. Possibly both. The rest of the team either is pale as ghosts or putting on an unconvincing brave face. Jensen just hopes the other team is just as nervous so they don’t have the advantage of confidence. The cheerleaders are on the sidelines, dressed in blue and white of the Knights. It doesn’t calm Jensen’s nerves.

The team they’re competing against is called the Eagles. The Eagles vs. the Knights.

They’re huge.

Jensen isn’t positive they’re all actually high schoolers. Their smallest player seems to be bulkier than any of their defense with pads on. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Jensen runs a hand down his face and feels a hand clap him on the shoulder. It’s Chris.

“I hope you have one hell of a pep talk lined up,” He said.

Sometimes Jensen really hates being the captain. People are always looking at him, expecting him to know every answer.

The Knights are undefeated. They are not going to break their winning streak for a team that uses size to make up for their lack of talent. Jensen rolls his shoulder and starts the warm up.

At a water break, Jensen glances at the stands. Danneel winks at him and gives him a thumbs up from where they’re cheering on the track. He turns his attention to the bleachers and sees Jared beaming at him.

Jensen doesn’t know he’s jogging over to Jared until he’s at the edge of the track and tilting his head up to see Jared.

“Shouldn’t you be with your team?” Jared teased.

“You’re more important.” Jensen leaned up to grab Jared’s hand.

“What kind of captain are you?”

Jensen mock glared at him. “I’m a damn good captain.”

“I know.” Jared kissed the top of Jensen’s hand. “You’re going to rock tonight, baby.”

“They’re so big.”

“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” Jared replied. “Now go kick some ass.”

“Love you,” Jensen whispered.

“Love you too.”  

Jared squeezed Jensen’s hand one last time and then let him jog back to his team. Jensen ran backwards so he could keep his eyes on Jared until he was on the field and crashed into Chris.

“You’re a lovesick fool.”

Jensen hugged Chris tightly. “Love you so much, Chris!”

Chris shoved Jensen off. “Jared’s gonna get jealous.”

“Oh please. He knows I’m head over heels for him.”

Chris chuckled. “You’re whipped.”

Jensen hit Chris on his head but couldn’t keep the dopey smile off his face.

 ****** 

Jared watched Jensen jog away with a fond smile. He giggled when Jensen crashed into Chris and then hugged him tightly. Chris couldn’t keep the smile off his face no matter how hard he tried to hide it. Jared let out a sigh of relief. Jensen still had his friends and they were about to crush the Eagles in the final.

Jared glanced quickly at the opposing team. He saw some of the players huddled and whispering. Their eyes kept flicking back to Jensen and Jared’s sure it’s just because Jensen’s the quarterback. When their glowers landed on Jared as well, his confidence dropped.

Jared clung to the hope that Tom was wrong, the Eagles weren’t homophobic.

He had to hope.

 ******

Jensen shook out his muscles and exchanged nervous looks with Chris. Jensen pulled the team into the huddle and tried to force out what probably is the worst pep talk ever. “Alright boys,” Jensen started, “This is it. For the seniors and anyone else that’s not playing next year… this is the last time we’ll step on the field. For all you that are returning, you want to step on the field in your first game next season knowing you were undefeated. I know we can do it. We’re more than just a team that can throw and catch a ball, players that can tackle, and a team that nails plays. We’re one fucking team that cares about each other, that’s got chemistry that rivals a professional team, and we’ve got heart. So go out there and fucking destroy the Eagles!”

Chris called out, “Go Knights!”

The rest of the team echoed Chris and Jensen grinned at him. They could win. And if they lost… well, they weren’t going down easy.

Jensen barely heard the whistle blow his heart was pounding so loud. All he knew was that one second Jensen didn’t have the ball and the next second he did. Good god the other team was big. Up close it looked like a team of grizzly bears was charging at him. Jensen did what he was best at.

He ran.

Jensen was faster than anyone on his team and more agile too. He snuck between the players that came at him and looked for Chris on the left side. One of the larger defensive Eagles was right on him and Jensen decided he might as well run with it.

He skidded around the other team and Steve managed to ditch the player that was on his back. Jensen threw it with all he had and watched Steve run easily into the endzone. 

It was a few minutes later that the Eagles gained possession. Jensen jogged off the field and grinned when Kosterman nodded at him. Jensen’s eyes went to the stands next and his whole body relaxed when Jared’s bright smile shined back at him. Jensen was going to win the game, if only to see Jared smile at him that brightly.

The ball switched possession several times and the score was tied at 21 the next time Jensen entered the game. He hissed instruction to his team and came face to face with one of the larger Eagle players.

“Don’t know why you’re playing football. It’s not the right sport for a fag like you.”

Jensen’s eyes widened and then narrowed in a glare. “I’d rather be gay that a meathead like you.” It wasn’t the best comeback but it was all Jensen could come up with.

“Your boyfriend in the stands? I saw him. He’s the tall one. One ugly motherfucker, but since he’s a fag makes sense, don’t it?”

Jensen glowered. He could take being insulted. But if someone came after Jared? Jensen could kill. “I feel sorry for a pathetic closet case like you. Don’t worry. Someone will eventually get past the fact that you’re a homophobic douchebag.”  

The player bared his teeth—actually bared them, like he was a dog—but didn’t respond. Jensen heard the tweet of the whistle and was off like a bullet once he got the ball. A few of his teammates were open but the meathead Eagle was right behind him. Jensen decided to show him that gay or not, he could kick his ass any day of the week.

Jensen pushed his legs faster than he’d ever run. The meathead picked up his pace too but he was nowhere near as agile as Jensen. He ran a few feet behind Jensen before he tripped over his own feet and slammed onto the turf. Jensen slowed down and took an easy jog into the endzone. Their kicker made the extra point and the Knights pulled ahead, 28-21.  

Jensen smirked at the asshole that had been on his back earlier. The other player glowered at him and turned back to his own team. Jensen could read his posture clearly.

It’s on.

Jensen smirked. “Bring it, bitch,” Jensen muttered to himself.

The Eagles gain possession and Jensen sulks off the field. Their offense is good; the Knights can barely hold them. They manage to score two touchdowns before the Knights’ offense is on the field again, and Jensen watches his defense growl and pout as they jog off the field.

Jensen is up against the stupid meathead again. He manages to catch his number—21. He doesn’t have a name yet, but at least he can be referenced as number 21 instead of the obnoxious meathead.

They aren’t making any ground. Somewhere between the last time Jensen was on the field and now the Eagles’ defense got its shit together. No one can get much further than a few yards.

21 hisses insults and threats at Jensen every time he’s within hearing distance. They’re usually repetitive; Jensen doubts the meathead can do anything but call him a fag in different tones of voice.

Jensen eventually just gets bored.

Until they’re resetting and number 21 gets close enough to growl, “How’s your boyfriend? Safe and sound in the stands?” Jensen grits his teeth and doesn’t respond. “Better hope he stays that way. I’d just hate to see him get hurt.”

Jensen growls. Logically he knows that Jared’s safe—half his friends are on the football team and he’s never without Jensen. But the threat still makes Jensen want to punch 21 so hard he sees stars.

Jensen doesn’t get the opportunity to beat the Neanderthal pretending to be a high school student to a pulp because the whistle’s blown. Jensen’s eyes are locked with 21 long enough to be surprised when the ball lands in his hands. Jensen takes off and sees 21 running at him from one side. Another equally ugly Eagle player ran towards him on the other side. Jensen chucked the ball in the general direction of Chris but 21 still slams into him. Jensen highly doubts it was because he had the ball.

The wind gets knocked out of him and as Jensen tries to steady his breathing the other Eagle crashed into him. Jensen’s sandwiched between the two meatheads for a moment before his knees buckled. His body feels broken in a hundred places and his head’s throbbing.

21 steps on Jensen’s wrist and he can feel it twist the wrong way. Jensen faintly hears 21 mutter, “Fucking faggot, you deserve this.”

Jensen blissfully loses consciousness and doesn’t hear his teammates panicked yelling.

 ****

The tackle happened in slow motion.

It was two freight trains slamming into a bicycle.

The ref blows the whistle and Jared watched the Knights yank the Eagles off and yell at something that’s fallen on the field.

A player’s collapsed on the field. Jared knows it’s a Knight. Thanks to the damn helmet and the matching uniforms, Jared can’t tell who it is, not at first. When vague details start flooding into Jared’s eyes he stops thinking. The only thing repeating is it can’t be. It can’t be. It’s not.

When the announcer declares the player down on the field is Jensen Ackles, Jared stops breathing.

No, no, no, can’t be. Can’t be him. They’re wrong. But even as Jared thinks it he can see Jensen’s familiar features—his messy blonde hair matted with sweat, strong jaw and Jared can almost see the freckles that cover his face.

He can also see Jensen’s closed eyes and still chest.

“I told him,” Jared whimpered to himself. “I told him.”

A gentle hand touches his arm and Jared jumps. Danneel is staring up at him with sympathetic eyes. “Hi sweetie.”

“I told him,” Jared repeated meekly. It means nothing to Danneel but she nods and guides Jared down the steps and into her arms.

“He’s so strong, Jared, he’s so strong. He’ll be okay.”

Jared nodded with his head in the crook of Danneel’s shoulder. She’s standing on her toes to wrap her arms around Jared and hold him tightly.

Jared sniffed and took a step back. Danneel keeps her hand in Jared’s and he appreciates the comfort. “Danni,” Jared whined. He wasn’t quite sure what he wanted her to do. She was just as miserable and scared as Jared; Danneel and Jensen had known each other since they were kids.

Small arms wrap around Jared’s waist and Genevieve smiles up at him. She and Danneel wear matching smiles and sad eyes. The cheerleaders aren’t cheering or flipping. The fans bite their nails and pray for their quarterback to get back on his feet.

Jared and the two girls are close to the bench that the football players are sitting on. He heard a few of the players talking and caught bits of conversation, “…hasn’t woken up yet… concussion…hospital…”

Jared feels sick. He slumps onto Gen and she’s not strong enough to hold him on her own. Danni shoulders some of Jared’s weight and he manages to stay somewhat upright and conscious.

Which is more than he can say for Jensen.

Dammit, dammit, don’t think like that. Jared tries to breath slowly, in and out. His eyes stay fixated on Jensen’s still form. Somebody puts him on a stretcher and Jensen’s carried off. His teammates send him worried looks and the second string quarterback enters the field. The fans cheer, but it’s not the same. It’s not Jensen.

People—a mediocre high school medical team—are looking Jensen over. They turn him and twist him and place ice packs on various parts of Jensen’s body. Jared stays frozen even when Danni and Gen try to shove him closer to Jensen. His limbs aren’t working.

“Jared, go,” Danni encourages. In the end it’s not Danni but Chris, who apparently came off the field with Jensen, that drags him away from the comfortable distance where Jared can’t see the broken look on Jensen’s face.

Chris grabs his arm and pulled him until Jared is right next to where Jensen is lying and Jared’s knees buckle. Jensen’s expression isn’t pained or hurt or sad. There’s nothing on his face. A flat line for a mouth and eyelids that cover jade green eyes.

Jared hears someone let out a choked sob that ends in, “Jensen.” It takes a calming hand on Jared’s back to realize the whimper came out of him. Jared didn’t know he was even capable of making that sound.

Jared wants to hold Jensen, he wants to curl up with him and take care of him and fix him. Eventually he gives in to his body’s craving and lays his head on Jensen’s chest. Jared hears the heartbeat steadily thumbing away and a small sigh of relief escapes.

Jensen starts to regain consciousness and Jared is pushed off him. He blinked owlishly at the trainer that’s holding Jensen’s head and pressing a damp cloth against his forehead. Jared wants to be the one fixing Jensen. He settles for clutching Jensen’s fingers and a few moments later, Jared feels Jensen squeeze him back. Jared bit back a sob. The last thing he needed to do was break down in tears in front of a group of football players, regardless of their support of his relationship with Jensen.

Jensen’s emerald eyes flutter open and Jared is shoved further away so water bottles and bandages can be shoved at Jensen. Jensen’s eyes become less clouded and confusion dances across his face. Jared aches for him and a low whine falls out, “Jensen.”

 ***** 

Jensen’s not quite sure what’s going on. Someone is shining a bright light in Jensen’s eye and he blinks and turns away from it. He becomes acutely aware of the pain that’s consuming his body. His ribs and his legs and oh god, his wrist. His throwing wrist. Jensen choked on a sob. He couldn’t throw. He wouldn’t be able to finish the game. He let his team down.

Jensen.

He hears his name spoken quietly. He knows it isn’t one of the guys in white shirts or his teammates. Jensen sees their lips move but no noise registers with Jensen. He can hardly read lips his eyes are so foggy.

But the same voice repeats, Jensen, like his life depends on it. Jensen’s neck snaps to see who the familiar, sweet voice is. A boy with long hair and hazel eyes filled with concern meet him. Jensen blinks a few times and recognition hits him. “Jared,” Jensen gasped. At least, that’s what Jensen intended to come out. If it’s more of a slur of consonants.

Jared reaches for him but he’s pushed away. Jensen lets out a distressed whine and Jared’s voice rings through his ears while he argues with one of the medical people. Jensen forces out, “Jay,” and stretches to grab Jared. The same white-shirted medical guy pushes Jared back until Chris yanks the guy off Jared. A dimpled smile lights up on Jared’s face and he scrambles to curl on the ground next to him. Jensen notices Jared’s hand is close to his and he grabs it firmly.

“How’re you, Jen?” Jared asked. His voice is rough and scratchy, like he’d been crying.

“Don’t cry,” Jensen murmured. “I’m okay.”

Jared rubs at his watery eyes and smiles weakly. “You look like hell.”

“Thanks.” Jensen is aware that other people are speaking and gesturing to him but Jensen focuses only on Jared. “Sleepy, Jay.”

Jared kissed his temple. “Let them take a look at you. Then we can go come and sleep.”

Jensen hummed and let the medical team tend to him, keeping his eyes locked with Jared the whole time.

Jensen quickly becomes more alert. From what the medical guys can tell him, Jensen has bruised and possibly broken ribs, a broken wrist, and bruises everywhere. Jensen rubbed his cheek. “Am I bruised on my face, too?”

Jared kissed his cheek. “I think it’s a good look.”

“You’ll give me more bruises later, right Jay?” Jensen muttered.

“Either you want hickeys or rough sex, and that’s a horrible way of asking for either.”

“Want both.”

“Not tonight, cowboy.” Jared maneuvered Jensen into a sitting position. “We gotta get you to the hospital.”

“Wanna watch the end of the game.”

Jared’s mouth dropped open. “How hard did you hit your head? We have to get you to a doctor!”

“Please, Jay?” Jensen looked hopefully at him.

Jared glanced hopelessly at the medical team. “Is he—can he stay?”

“How much is left in the game?”

Jensen pointed at the scoreboard. “30 minutes.”

“No,” the medical man said firmly. Jensen cursed him off in his head.

“Jay,” Jensen pleaded.

Jared ran his fingers through Jensen’s hair. “We have to do what they told us.”

Jensen glowered at the white-shirt-wannabe-doctors who wore irritated expressions. “Should we carry him on the stretcher up the stairs?” One of them asked Jared.

“I can speak for myself,” Jensen growled. The medical man glared at him and Jared cleared his throat.

“Jensen’s kind of a stubborn ass. You have to be more tactical.”

“I don’t need this from a bunch of teenagers,” White shirt growled.

“Then catch you later, because we don’t need this from a bunch of jerks,” Jared fired back.  Okay, in retrospect, Jared shouldn’t be mean to the people taking care of Jensen. He put on a hand on Jared’s arm to warn him.

“I’ll put ice on it and everything. And take Advil,” Jensen suggested.

“No Advil with your concussion.”

Jensen gaped at the medical man. “How am I supposed to feel better?”

“Go to the doctor,” the guy from the school’s medical team said through gritted teeth. Jensen decided he didn’t like medicine man.

Jared glanced down at Jensen and he tried to put as much desperation into his features as possible. Jared could make sure Jensen stayed. Jared could do anything.

Jensen closed his eyes and lay back to rest for a moment. He heard muted conversation between a few people before Jared pulled him back into a sitting position on the bench the other players sat on. Jensen felt bad. He wasn’t a player. But Jared stood behind him and combed his fingers through Jensen’s hair, just the way he liked. “You get to stay here for the duration of the game, but then you have to leave,” Jared told him. He sounded like he was mocking the way medicine man said it. Jensen smiled.

Jensen took one of Jared’s arms and looped it around his chest. “Wow, baby, you’ve got hurt ribs,” Jared cautioned.

Jensen sighed and moved the arm to his stomach. “Better?”

“Don’t be a smartass.”  

Jensen smirked. “You can’t do anything about it because I’m injured.”

“I can make sure Mac is the one that takes care of you.”

“You’d be seriously evil.”

Jared kissed the top of Jensen’s head and ignored the sarcastic coos Jensen’s teammates let out. “Well, who’d want that.”

Jensen sagged against Jared and watched his team, praying that they could catch up.

Chapter Text

The second string quarterback wasn’t as good as Jensen. Jared compared his throwing and sprinting and decision-making and decided that he had nothing on Jensen. Not that Jared would ever voice his opinion because apparently football teams were mini-families, and Jared didn’t want to get beat up by a family made of muscle and aggression.

The Eagles were still winning. They increased the margin to 31-21 and the Knights were getting desperate. Desperation led to sloppy play, which led to errant plays, which lead to the Eagles scoring. Again, and again, and again.

Jensen itched to get up and beg to play, Jared could see it in his posture and the way he bounced his leg. Jared placed a hand on Jensen’s shoulder to sooth him but it didn’t have a big effect. Jensen shot him a quick look and then went back to biting his lip and unblinkingly watching the game.

Jared wanted the Knights to win as much as the next student. But he couldn’t hold a candle to the football team. They wanted to win as badly as… well, they really wanted to win. It was a bench full of desperation, adrenaline, and excessive levels of testosterone.

The only reason Jared could even stand being around them was the fact that Jensen had a death grip on his hand. Even if Jared did want to leave his boyfriend, he would have no way of doing so.

Jensen turned and looked at him with sad eyes. “What’s up, baby?” Jared asked.

“I’m not going to be MVP,” Jensen said. “It sounds so superficial but, I dunno, I really wanted something. Something to say, hey, Jensen Ackles isn’t just an underachiever with no ambition. He’s MVP.”

Jared tilted Jensen’s head towards him so he could kiss him lightly. “You’re the most amazing player. You led this team to victory god knows how many times. MVP or not, people are going to remember you. The hottest guy in school, the best quarterback the school’s ever seen, and the guy that worked his butt off until he had straight B’s. I’m so proud of you.”

“You sound like a fucking parent.”

Jared grinned down at him. “I’m so proud of you, honey.”

Jensen slapped his arm. “Dick.”

“Love you, Jenny.”

“I’ll kill you if you ever call me that again.”

“What about Jennybean? Can I call you Jennybean?”

“Not if you value your life.”

Jared carded his fingers through Jensen’s hair and Jensen moaned. Jake Abel shot them a look. “Don’t need to hear your sex noises on the sidelines, Ackles,” He teased. Jensen moaned louder and Jake threw an extra football at him.

“You can’t throw things at me; I’m already injured!” Jensen protested.

“Padalecki, your boyfriend is a whiny bitch.”

“I know.”

Jensen glared at Jared. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”

“Sorry babe.”

“Guys are jerks. I should stick with women. They’re hotter anyways.”

Jared froze behind him and his hands pulled out of Jensen’s hair. “I’ll be right back.” He turned and darted towards the bleachers.

 *****

Jensen groaned when he realized what he said. “I’m an asshole.”

Jake raised an eyebrow. “And you’re just gonna sit here.”

“I’m not gonna miss the game! Plus, it’s not my fault he can’t take a joke.”

“Yeah, well then I sure as hell hope you don’t miss Jared when he dumps your ass.”

Jensen groaned again and Kosterman growled, “Shut up and sit down, Ackles.”

Jensen glanced at the bleachers but he couldn’t pick Jared out amongst the blue and white. “God, Jay, come back.” Jensen cursed number 21 again. He couldn’t run after his boyfriend, he could barely hobble. He texted Jared quickly and felt something vibrate by his foot.

Jared dropped his phone.

“Oh great,” Jensen grumbled.

“This is your fault,” Jake pointed out.

“Yes, thank you very much.” Jensen swiveled around to look at the track. “Danneel! Danni! Danneel Harris!”

Danni was in the middle of a cheer and she glared at Jensen quickly before plastering on a smile and turning back to the crowd.

“Danni, I need you!” Jensen yelled. “It’s about you-know-who.”

Danni sighed and mumbled something to Gen before strutting over to Jensen. “What’d you fuck up this time?”

“You ever stop and think I didn’t screw something up?”

“Well it wasn’t Jared, so tell me what you did wrong before I leave you.”

“Um, I may have said something kind of dumb.”

Danneel rolled her eyes. “You’re no good at relationships.”

“Gee, thanks,” Jensen snapped. “So anyway I need you to go get Jared and drag him back so I can apologize.”

“One condition.”

“Anything.”

“Tell me what you said.”

“Okay, anything but that,” Jensen replied.

“Wow, it must be really bad.”

“No, you just overreact. Everyone thinks Jared’s-,”

Danneel held up a hand. “Stop there before you say something equally as offensive. You do realize he’s your boyfriend, right? The person stupid enough to love you and care about you even though you have a tendency to screw things up? Yeah. That’s Jared.”

“Yes, Danneel, thank you for stating the obvious.”

A dark shadow appeared behind Danni.

“Did I miss something?”

Jensen saw Jared standing behind Danni and almost fell of the bench. “What are you doing here?”

“Should I leave?” Jared asked.

“No! I just—after what I said—I didn’t mean that by the way!” Jensen rushed.

“I know.” Jared timidly handed him cotton candy. “I got hungry.”

Jensen’s mouth fell open and Danni just stared at Jared. “You, Jared Padalecki, are one stupid bastard.” Danni pointed at Jensen. “And don’t think I’ve given up on figuring out what you said that scared Jared off.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “He was just whining about his head. So I got him cotton candy to cheer him up.”

Danni glared at Jensen. “That’s it? Really?”

“Uh, yeah,” Jensen stammered. “Wasn’t thinking straight. Concussion and all.”  

 Danneel shook her head. “You don’t deserve him, Jen.” She patted Jared’s chest. “The good ones are always gay.”

Jared blushed. “Thanks, I think.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” Jensen murmured when Danni walked away.

Jared shrugged. “I figured Danneel might go for your throat, and I’d rather have an alive boyfriend.”

Jensen sighed. “She’s right, you know?”

“That the good ones are always gay?”

Jensen pulled him down for a kiss. “I don’t deserve you. And when Danneel finds out you lied to her…”

“I’ll hide behind my big, strong boyfriend,” Jared teased.

“Your big, strong, injured boyfriend,” Jensen corrected.

“Sorry gimpy.”

“Go to hell.”

Jared grinned. “What, can’t take a joke?”

Jensen paled. “You heard that?”

“S’okay. It was fun messing with you.” Jared winked. “You didn’t really think I’d leave you because you said you should have stayed with girls, right?”

“Well—what? It made—what?”

“You’re hung up on me,” Jared said with a smirk. “Sorry, sweetheart.”

“That was mean.”

“Yeah, well so was saying girls are hotter than me.” Jared’s voice had less of a teasing tone and more of a ‘did you really mean you’d leave me?’

Jensen eased Jared down until he was curled up on the ground with his head in Jensen’s lap. “There’s not a girl in the world hotter than you.”

“What about a boy?”

“Well, Chris gives you a run for your money,” Jensen teased. Jared crinkled his nose at him.

Jared pushed his head into Jensen’s hand and Jensen started to comb out the knots in Jared’s hair. “Get this cut, man,” Jensen said.

“I like my hair!” Jared protested.

“It’s too long.”

 “Shut up.” Jared pinched his leg.

“Ow!” Jensen exclaimed. “Jerk.”

“Shut up and watch the game. And can you keep doing that thing with my hair? Feels good.”

Jensen chuckled but obeyed Jared’s request. “You’re such a girl.”

“Oh please, you purr when I do it.”

“I do not purr.”

“You so do!”

Jensen pushed Jared gently. “Asshole.”

Jared snuggled closer to Jensen. “Hm, you love me.”

“Do not.”

“Do to.”

Jensen ruffled Jared’s hair and it became even messier than it was before. “Get this cut.”

“Aw, Jennybean, you messed it up!”

“I hate you.”

“Keep in mind I’m a virgin,” Jared murmured.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

Jared smirked. “Don’t you want to be the one that I lose it to? The one I remember? Don’t you want me screaming your name when I come? And hatred’s not gonna get you that.”

“You fucking…” Jensen felt himself growing hard, which was a horrible situation in tight football pants. “Tease.”

Jared put his head back in Jensen’s lap to cover his growing erection. “Hm, wonder if they’d be able to see how big you are if I moved my head.”

“When did you turn into a cocktease?” Jensen hissed. Jared only laughed and pressed his head against Jensen’s dick. Jensen gasped. “I swear to god, Padalecki.”

Jared nudged Jensen so they were watching the game. “We just scored.

“28-31,” Jensen read the scoreboard. “Okay. We just have to score another touchdown and we win.”

“But if they score another touchdown…”

“They won’t,” Jensen said firmly. “If anyone can hold them off, it’s our defense.”

 *****

Jensen resumed his earlier task of biting his lip. Jared wanted to reach up and thumb away Jensen’s teeth. Jared was the only one allowed to nip at Jensen’s perfect lips. Jared could kiss them and suck on them and love his beautiful, pink lips. Jared got so distracted thinking about Jensen that he missed part of the game. “What’s happening?”

Jensen rambled off some football jargon and then realized Jared couldn’t understand the rules. “We’re close to getting a touchdown, but if they stop us here the play is over.”

“Can we score?” Jared scolded himself for the childish curiosity in his voice.

“Of course. We have a strong—a strong offense.”

Jared knew the hesitation in his voice came from the sadness he felt from not being on the field for the most important—and last—play of the game. Jared ran his fingers up and down Jensen’s back in hopes the touch would relax Jensen. Some of the tension seemed to seep out of Jensen’s shoulders and Jared mentally cheered in victory.

Jensen watched the game with so much intensity; Jared believed lasers were going to shoot out at any moment. The green eyes were more hard emerald than soft grass. It was intimidating at the same time it was hot.

It seemed like everything moved in slow motion. The freight train players on the other team had none of the agility of the Knights, but they weren’t afraid to throw their weight around. Chris finally got the ball from the quarterback and Jared saw the ball fly out of his hands toward Steve at the exact moment one of the Eagles crashed into him. Chris stumbled but managed to keep himself upright and watch. Most of the people stopped to watch. Steve had a player right on his back—Jared growled when he realized it was number 21—and they’re battling for dominance.

Steve’s faster. Jared can tell. But 21 is big. And Jared knows from watching Jensen get pushed around by him that number 21 will just lay everything on the line to win. Jensen’s clutching Jared’s hand and digging his nails into Jared’s palm. Jared holds him just as tight. He’s just starting to realize exactly how much this game means to them. And how heartbroken Jensen is that he’s not out there with them.

Jared watched Steve throw his shoulder into number 21. The guy stumbled—the first time he’d stumbled all game—and Steve managed to barely, barely squeeze by. The last few yards he slipped but held out his hand and the ball barely, barely pressed into the endzone.

Jared waited for the screaming to start but it seemed like every other person in the stands was just as shocked as Jared. Even Jensen froze to the bench like the whole thing was a daydream, a fantasy.

Steve stood up and raised an eyebrow at his teammates, asking where the cheering was. Steve’s amused and proud expression sent the fans into rabid cheering. Or the Knights fans, at least. The Eagles looked more than a little put out at the final score of the game. Jared was grinning from ear to ear but it dimmed a little when he noticed Jensen’s expression. Jensen’s smile seemed nothing short of forced and it almost looked like heartbreak reflected in his eyes. Jared touched Jensen’s arm and waited for Jensen to meet his eyes, to explain the way Jensen looked like he did.

“Last play of high school…” Jensen murmured. Jared heard the unsaid words. I didn’t get to be involved. Jared knew Jensen wanted to be out on the field hugging his teammates and running around, he wanted to be the one that threw the pass and the one that led the team to victory.

Instead he was benched.

Jared gently helped Jensen to his feet, ignoring the glare Jensen shot his way. “Going to sulk there forever?”

Jensen opened his mouth to deny it but at Jared’s raised eyebrow his excuse fell flat. “I’m allowed to sulk if I so choose,” Jensen replied instead.

Jared ignored his protests and pulled Jensen into his arms. “Not with me around. Remember? I have the habit of making you smile when you don’t want to.”

When Jared saw the smile forming on his chest he punched the air and said, “Yes!”

“God you’re annoying,” Jensen snapped with no real heat. Jared smirked.

A big shadow slammed into Jared and Jensen with his arms wrapped around them. “We won, fuckers!” Chris yelled in Jared’s ear.

“Ow. Keep your voice down!” Jared shouted back. Chris slapped his arm.

“Come on, Jenny, come celebrate!”

“Can’t walk,” Jensen grunted.

“Wait, why can he call you Jenny but I can’t?” Jared asked indignantly.

“He can’t,” Jensen groaned. “But you try stopping Chris Kane.”

Steve bounded over next and joined the hug. “We won!”

“I’ve heard,” Jensen deadpanned.

“Group hug!” Jake exclaimed. Jared was about to protest until a herd of football players were wrapping their arms around Jared and Jensen and Jensen was laughing with his head thrown back and his eyes crinkling at the corners. Jared smiled fondly at him and gave in to the group hug.

 *****

Jensen felt like he was walking on air. It was almost as good as kissing Jared for the first time. He was wrapped up in Jared’s arms and they were both wrapped up in the sweaty, tired bodies of his teammates. He couldn’t stop smiling or laughing and every time he looked at Jared and saw the goofy, loving smile on his face the butterflies started up all over again.

Jensen put his arms around Jared’s neck and whispered, “I love you,” into Jared’s ear.

Jared held Jensen tighter and kissed his neck. “I know.”

Jensen felt himself be lifted up and when he looked down Chris and Steve were holding him up while Jared laughed. “I hate you! Put me down!” Jensen demanded. His two teammates only laughed along with Jared. “I hate all of you!”

Jared was tall enough that even with Chris and Steve holding Jensen up Jared could reach up and kiss Jensen lightly. “Sure you do.”

“Man, the after party’s going to be killer!” Chris hollered.

Steve made an exasperated face. “There are other things to think about.”

“What could be more important?”

“How about the award?” Kosterman drawled sarcastically. Chris jumped in surprise, none of them had heard their coach approach, and almost dropped Jensen.

“Careful!” Jared and Steve exclaimed in unison. Chris rolled his eyes.

“I wouldn’t drop him!”

“You might,” Kosterman said. “Now put him down.”

“He can’t walk!” Chris protested. “We have to carry him.”

Their coach raised an eyebrow. “Can you really not walk?” He asked Jensen.

Chris pinched his leg out of view from Kosterman and Jensen said quickly, “Uh, no. Completely incapacitated. So I probably need them to carry me.”

Kosterman rolled his eyes. “Thank god you three are graduating. I don’t need the freshman thinking it’s okay to fuck around.”

“Watch your language!” Jensen scolded. “There are immature high school students here!”

Kosterman punched Jensen. “Don’t think I won’t kick you when you’re down.”

“Some coach you are.” Jensen reached a hand out for Jared. “Jared, you’ll protect me from these assholes, right?”

“Uh, I don’t know if I can take on an entire team.”

“You mean you don’t hulk out when Jensen’s in danger? I’m disappointed, Jare,” Chris teased. Jared blushed and Steve laughed.

“Jensen, he’s adorable.”

“Just know that I hate all of you with a passion. Never forget that,” Jensen retorted.

“I’ll never forget how adorable your boyfriend is.”

“Yeah, well you haven’t been with him in bed,” Jensen replied. “Because let me tell you-,”

“Ah! Enough!” Chris covered his ears. “I don’t need to hear about your gay sex adventures!”

“Adventures?”

“Shut up, Jared,” Steve snapped. “And I stand by what I said earlier.”

“That I’m adorable?”

“Yes.”

“It’s okay, Jare bear, I like you adorable,” Jensen said.

“I can’t even hurt you right now because you have a concussion,” Jared grumbled. Jensen smirked.  

Kosterman called for his team to come over and Jensen smiled sadly at Jared. “I’ll be right back.”

“You go celebrate your win. Go get your medal baby,” Jared said. Jensen kissed his cheek, leaning down from where Chris and Steve continued to hold him up.

“I’ll never have to walk again,” Jensen joked. “My little henchmen.”

“Shut up or we’ll ‘accidentally’ drop you, asshole,” Chris said, jostling Jensen a little. He laughed at Jared’s panicked expression. “Relax, Jare, I’d never drop him.”

“I know,” Jared replied. Jensen smiled at the lie.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Steve taunted. Jensen didn’t notice he’d been staring at Jared without blinking.

Jensen blushed. “Fuck you.”

“Fuck Jared, man, I don’t swing that way.”

Jared flushed and Jensen almost laughed. Instead he punched Steve for making Jared feel uncomfortable. “I promise, I’ll send you every detail when I do.”

“You mean you haven’t-,” Steve cut his sentence short when he saw the murderous look in Jensen’s eye. Jared ducked his head and even though Jensen couldn’t see his face, he knew Jared was blushing.

“Hey, I think I hear coach calling us! I’ll see you later, Jared!” Chris rushed. They half dragged, half carried Jensen away to where Kosterman was standing. Jensen twisted to smile at Jared and a little bit of the stress eased when Jared smiled back, dimples and all.

“Why’d you get all pissy when we—“ Chris shot Steve a look, “—okay, fine, when I asked why you haven’t had sex?”

“Because it’s not like with Danneel and me, okay? We had sex before we even made ‘us’ official. Jared’s not like that. If he thinks that it’s abnormal that we haven’t had sex, he might do something he might not want to do. Did you think of that, asshole?”

Steve had the decency to look apologetic. “No, I guess not. Sorry.”

“’M not mad,” Jensen muttered. “I just don’t want this fucked up between us. I really like the guy.”

“He’s over the moon for you, Jenny,” Chris said soothingly. “One misplaced question isn’t going to change that.”

“I know,” Jensen admitted. “I’m a little paranoid.”

“Aw, you big girl,” Chris teased. “You’re in looooovee!”

“Go to hell, Chris.”

 ***** 

Jared watched Jensen and his teammates. Chris refused to let go of Jensen even after Steve released him. Jared chuckled at Jensen squirming in Chris’ arms and yelling at Steve to help him down. He found himself wishing that he had friendships like Jensen did. A little voice in the back of his head said you do have friends like that. Pictures of Jensen smiling and Chris mocking him and Steve winking at him in the hallway, Danni’s playful flirting and Gen’s sharp wit.

Yeah. Jared supposed he did have friends like that.

Jared choked out a laugh. He made 5 friends in 2 weeks without even noticing. His realization brought a smile to his face.

“What’re you grinning about, Goofy?”

Gen appeared beside Jared with her usual snappy grin. Jared pushed her lightly. “You’re so short I barely saw you.”

“Oh shut it, you freak of nature. No one should be that tall.” 

Jared felt a weight jump onto his back. “Hi Jare bear!”

Jared laughed and put his arms under Danneel’s knees in a piggyback. “Hi Danni.”

“So, on a scale of one to ten how turned on were you by Jensen during the game? Because I was so hot when we dated. Pretty sure half the girls here only come for him. You broke a lot of hearts, you know. Girls walked around for weeks all sad because their fantasy crush was madly in love with you. But anyway. He’s hot, right? But god, you’re hot too. At the pool, when you took your shirt off? I wanted to jump you right there. Are you and Jensen up for a threeway?”

Jared’s mouth hung open. How did a girl say so much on one breath? “Um… I don’t know about the threeway… and I was really more worried about seeing him slammed into people to really get turned on. And then he got hurt, so…” Jared didn’t think he’d ever sounded less eloquent.

 Danneel and Gen had matching smirks on their faces. “You’re so adorably in love,” Danni teased. “You’ve got Jennybean whipped, sweetheart.”

“I do not!” Jared protested. He was pretty sure he was defending Jensen’s dignity in saying that. “Do I?”

Gen threw back her head and laughed. “Oh Danni, he’s precious.”

“I hate you guys,” Jared muttered.

“You can’t. We’re your hags.”

Jared’s eyebrows raised at Gen’s words. “My hags?”

“Fag hags,” Danni and Gen said in unison.

“Can I have two?”

Danni and Gen shrugged together. It was scary how in sync the two girls were. “Sure.”

“I should make you go through an application process or something,” Jared grumbled.

“Too late.”

“Stop doing that!” Jared exclaimed.

“Doing what?” Gen asked.

“The thing where you and Danni talk in unison. It’s creepy!”

“We’ll stop if you make out with Jensen some more.”

Jared glared at Danneel. “What exactly does being a fag hag entitle?” Jared asked honestly.

“We get to hear about the gay sex you have with Jensen and take you shopping. And other stuff.” Gen started braiding her hair. “Whatever our fag wants.”

“I—your—never mind.” Jared turned away to watch Kosterman place medals around his players’ necks. Jensen seemed to protest taking one for a minute and Jared felt like punching him. He deserved just as much as anyone else. Kosterman seemed to agree because he forcibly shoved the medal over Jensen’s head. One every player had a medal around their neck, a someone handed Kosterman a trophy. He held it above his head and the team cheered. Chris and Steve resumed their former task of holding Jensen on their shoulders, but this time they were joined by other members of the team. Jake snagged the trophy away from Kosterman and shoved it into Jensen’s hand.

Jared saw Kosterman calm down his team and hand something else to Jensen. Jensen examined the object while Kosterman announced, if Jared could read lips correctly, that Jensen was MVP.

“I knew it!” Danneel squealed. “They’d be crazy to make anyone else MVP.”

Jared grinned proudly. “I know.”

“Oh my god, Gen we have to videotape them they’re so cute! Hallmark would love this stuff.”

“Fuck off, Danni.”

“Love you, Jarebear.”

Jared watched his boyfriend smile and congratulate his team. Jensen’s eyes lit up when they made contact with Jared’s and his smile grew twice as big. He gestured for Jared to meet him at the top of the bleachers and winked.

Jared said a quick goodbye to the girls and dashed up the steps. He never noticed Tom watching him go. 

Chapter Text

Jared tried to walk backwards up the steps leading up the bleachers to keep his eyes on Jensen; after he tripped and almost hid his head on the concrete, Jared concluded facing forward was the better option.

At least, until he reached the top.

 ********

Jensen cradled the trophy like it was a child. He stroked the smooth letters engraved on the gold surface and the sleek stand that a model football rested upon. It probably cost 10 dollars for the football league to put together but at the moment, Jensen didn’t think he’d seen anything prettier.

Except maybe Jared.

Well, Jared wasn’t pretty so much as he was, well, Jared. He was gorgeous and sweet and amazing and loving and most important, he was Jensen’s. And Jensen was his. They were in pure domestic bliss and Jensen didn’t even care that Chris made fun of him for being whipped. Jensen was man enough to admit that he’d bend over backwards for Jared and not think twice. At least Jensen was in a relationship, a fact Jensen shot in Chris’ face every time he told Jensen Jared was turning him into a girl.

Jensen saw Jared hop up the steps in the bleachers two at a time. He bit his lip to conceal a laugh when Jared slipped a couple times before finally turning around and jogging facing forwards. Jensen was glad; he wanted Jared to be conscious and concussion-free when they were at the after party.

Oh fuck. Jensen ran his fingers through his hair and the flare of pain reminded Jensen of the many bruises and bumps on his body. He sighed. Looks like the after party’s out.

Chris and Steve appeared at his side. “Ready to take off?” Chris asked.

Jensen kicked the field glumly. “Can’t go to the party.”

Chris and Steve exchanged looks. “You really think we haven’t figured that out? We’re having our own after party in your basement. Gen, Danni, Jared, and the three of us.”

Jensen lit up. “You are? I mean, I shouldn’t keep you from the party.”

Chris snorted. “Because I totally need to see a bunch of underage football players drinking themselves into a stupor. Trust me, this will be more fun for all of us.”

“Where is Jared, anyway?” Steve wondered.

Jensen jerked his head toward the top of the bleachers. “Waiting.”

“Need us to carry you?” Steve asked mischievously.

“No fucking way.”

“You have five minutes alone with your Jared before Chris and I storm up there with a camera.”

“Have I ever told you I hate you two? Because I do. With a passion.”

“Save the passion for Jared, big boy.”

“I’m actually going to kill you both,” Jensen deadpanned. “And if you bring a camera it will be a slow death.”

Chris winked. “Love you, Jenny! And remember, we’re in public!”

Jensen shook his head fondly and passed the trophy on to a different team member. The euphoria of being crowned MVP even though he’d missed a chunk of the game kept Jensen floating all the way up the stairs. He took them slowly to avoid causing further stress on his already spent limbs. He let images of Jared flood his mind, the sound of Jared cheering him on during the game and the way Jared cradled him in his arms when Jensen got hurt. The feeling of Jared’s lips on his and the dimples that made Jensen feel like he was curled up in front of a fireplace.

Okay, Jensen was definitely whipped.

Jensen’s feet dragged up the steps slowly. His daydreams of Jared overtook his ability to walk. He barely noticed when his feet hit the top step and he tripped, not expecting the stop. Jensen beamed brightly expecting to see Jared. But the place Jared previously stood in was vacant. Jensen’s head swiveled all around to try and find his boyfriend.

“Jared?” Jensen called. “Jared! Where are you?” Jared didn’t respond and confusion flooded Jensen. “Jay? Jare, where are you?” He wasn’t scared per say, but the absence of his boyfriend when moments earlier he’d been staring eagerly at Jensen… well, it didn’t sit well with him. “Jay!”

“Uh, Jensen?”

Jensen jumped and saw Sophia watching him. “What’s up, Soph?”

“Are you looking for Jared?” Jensen nodded and Sophia continued. “I saw him go out to the parking lot. Some guy was with him.”

“Some guy?”

“Yeah. Jared didn’t look happy, though,” Sophia said. Jensen ran off to the parking lot before Sophia finished her sentence.

“Jared!” Jensen shouted. He probably looked panicked and desperate but if someone was harassing Jared, Jensen didn’t care what he looked like. “Jay!” Jensen skidded to a stop at what he saw waiting for him. “Oh god, Jared.” 

 ******* 

Jared wandered off to the parking lot to wait for Jensen. His team had hauled him on their shoulders and cheered for him while Jensen laughed, first with happiness and then at Jared for tripping on the stairs.

Jared’s car was parked at the far end of the lot. He and Jensen carpooled here and wherever Jensen decided to go after—it either was going to be the ER or home to rest, Jensen got to choose between the two. Jared wasn’t letting Jensen decide he was in perfect health and in shape to go party. Hopefully Chris will have talked him out of the idea by now.

Jared hums a tune he heard earlier and the corners of his mouth twitch up when the image of Jensen laughing spills into his mind. His head thrown back, green eyes crinkled, and his mouth held open in the prettiest smile Jared had ever seen.

The sound of someone clearing their throat jerked Jared back into the moment. He didn’t want to see who made the noise. Every bone in his body told him if he turned and saw whoever cleared their throat, things would end badly for Jared. But curiosity defeated wisdom and Jared turned to see who made the noise.

Tom leaned against the metal fencing and smirked at him. “Hey, Jared.”

Jared gulped audibly. “H-h-hi.”

“Where’s your boyfriend?” Tom hissed.

“With his team. I’m confused why you aren’t there, actually. The team not like having a homophobe around?” Jared retorted. Holy hell where is this confidence coming from? Idiot land, that’s where.

Idiot land? I’m brain dead.

Tom’s lips curled into an ugly sneer. “You think you’re so great, don’t you? 4.0, off to Harvard, fucking the quarterback, who I guess is a whore anyway if he’s giving it up to y-,”

Tom’s sentence was cut off by Jared’s arm thrown against Tom’s neck and pinning him against the fence. “He is not a whore, you piece of shit. And I’m dating Jensen, not fucking.” He glowered at Tom. “And it’s fucking Stanford, asshole, get your facts straight.”

Tom’s eyes flashed between fear, anger, hatred, confusion, and more anger. How one person could portray each of the emotions clearly in five seconds, Jared didn’t know.

“You’re messing with a football player, Padalecki, that’s not a smart move.”

“I’m not afraid of you,” Jared lied. “You’ve got no one behind you.”

“But there’s someone behind you,” A voice jeered. Jared swiveled around and saw that there was someone behind him. And not in the good way.

Jared recognized the player as the one that tackled Jensen, number 21. Jared felt his blood boil at the sight of the asshole. He’s bulkier and taller up close and flanked by two of his croonies. Jared knew attempting to punch the guy would end in something extremely painful.

Jared glanced back at Tom. The other boy didn’t look scared, in fact, he wore an expression of gloating. “You set this up,” Jared realized weakly. “You set me up.”

Tom shrugged. “I didn’t really set anything up. They wanted to release a little bit of anger after losing—no offense,” Tom added looking at the players. “And I might have let it slip that Jensen Ackles is dating a certain tall boy that stares at everyone with his big puppy dog eyes like a pathetic little whore, got your pretty boy quarterback and everyone else is under his spell but let me tell you, Jared Padalecki, you are no better than a filthy slut with a 4.0 and Jensen will grow to hate y-,”

“Quiet,” Someone hissed. “You shut your fucking mouth.”

Jared let out a relieved sigh when he recognized the voice. He’d never been so happy to hear his boyfriend. “Jensen,” Jared whimpered. He faced his boyfriend. Jared never thought he’d seen Jensen’s emerald eyes so cold an angry. It sent a shiver of fear down Jared’s spine despite the knowledge Jensen wouldn’t dare hurt him.

Jared was so busy watching Jensen he didn’t notice the hulking football player grab his arm and shove him to the ground. A foot pressed against

Number 21 sneered down at him. “For someone so tall, you’re sure as hell weak. Guess that’s why you’ve got the quarterback as your boyfriend, to protect you.”

“Leave him alone,” Jensen demanded. Jared heard a quiver of fear in his voice and prayed the football players couldn’t hear it too.

Number 21’s foot pressed hard against Jared and he winced involuntarily. Jensen stepped forward but number 21 held up a hand. “Come any closer and he’ll get a lot more than a bruise.” Jensen froze. “Good boy,” 21 crooned.

“Don’t patronize me,” Jensen hissed.

“Jensen Ackles, paralyzed because he’s scared of his boyfriend getting hurt. Pathetic fag.”

“Don’t talk about him like that!” Jared cried. He was rewarded with a kick to his side and Jensen’s yelp.

“Don’t hurt him, let him go,” Jensen begged. “He didn’t do anything!”

One of number 21’s croonies muttered, “Alex, don’t you think this is a bit much?”

Number 21—Alex—glowered at him. “We just lost the championship. All bets are off.” He accented his words by jerking Jared to his feet and putting an arm around his neck. “Let me tell you, Ackles, I’m not afraid to do anything. I’m going to hurt you. And he-,” Alex shook Jared, “-I think is the best way of going about it.”  

 ******

Jensen’s hands shook with anger and he balled them into fists. “Let him go.” Jensen wanted to run over and pry Alex’s hands off Jared. But he wasn’t going to let Jared get hurt anymore. Not because of him. “Please.”

“Look at this, Jensen Ackles begging. Funny how easy it is to hurt you. When I tackled you and heard you yelp, what was it, sounded like Jared’s name, didn’t it? And now I’m hurting Jared, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Jensen tried prevent the panic from showing on his face. Jared’s eyes were filled with fear and occasionally he tried to pull out of Alex’s grip, only to be tugged in by his throat. If Jared had bruises on his neck, Jensen might go insane.

Jensen reached absolute desperation. “Tom, please. If you’re mad at me, I get that. I mean, I don’t, because I didn’t do a fucking thing, but don’t take it out on Jared.”

Tom hesitated for a moment. Jensen crossed his fingers and finally let all his anguish show in his eyes. Anything, anything to get number 21 to let go of his boyfriend. Tom bit his lip and Alex laughed.

“Don’t tell me you’re giving in to Ackles.”

Tom’s gaze hardened. “I’m not.”

Jensen felt his last line of hope disappear. His eyes dropped to Jared. “I’m so sorry, Jay.”

“Not your fault,” Jared choked. “Don’t be sorry.”

Jensen swallowed back the screams and tears that threatened to attack him. Jensen didn’t know what else to do. “What do you want from me?”

“I want you to be in pain. I wanted this win, I needed this win, and you took it from me. So now,” Alex squeezed Jared’s neck. “I’m going to take this from you. You think Jared’s going to want to be with you when he sees how he can get hurt? How little you care about his well-being?”

“Don’t say that! Jared, you know that’s a lie!” Jensen exclaimed. “You know that’s not true!”

Jared nodded and tried to pry Alex’s hand off. “I-,”

“Let go of him, you’re choking him!”

Alex laughed but then his eyes widened as someone jumped on his back and pulled him off Jared.

“He said let go, you son of a bitch,” Chris growled. He punched Alex in the face. Jared fell onto the pavement in the parking lot and took deep, heaving breaths. Jensen immediately landed at his side and looked Jared over. “Where are you hurt?”

“I’m fine,” Jared assured.

“You’re not.” Jensen lifted his shirt and saw a shallow cut and spotty bruises. “Does this look ‘fine’ to you?”

“Guess we’re a sorry pair,” Jared mumbled, tapping Jensen’s head. “Guess we should both get checked out.”

Jensen wrapped Jared in a tight hug and he let out a little gasp of pain. Jensen immediately made to pull back but Jared pulled him in. “I’m here. I’m alive. I’m okay.”

Jensen nodded into Jared’s chest. “I know.”

Jared laughed weakly. “You liar.”

“Well, isn’t this cute?” Alex sneered above him. His voice was muffled as he pinched his nose. Some blood spotted his face and football uniform.

“You gave him a bloody nose?” Jared asked Chris. Chris laughed and winked.

“You fuckers,” Tom growled.

Chris turned to him next. He shoved Alex out of the way who wobbled and tripped to the ground. “What the hell is your problem, Tom? Seriously, what is wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with you? What is it about Jared that everyone finds so appealing? He turned Jensen into a fag, somehow has everyone wrapped around his little finger—don’t you care? This isn’t how it’s supposed to be!”

Jensen opened his mouth to say something but his words were blocked out by Chris. He jumped on Tom and punched him in the face. “Jensen-,” punch, “-is not-,” punch, “-a fag! And Jared is fucking awesome! So shut the fuck up and live your life alone, Tommy!”

Tom fell to his knees and looked at Chris like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. “We’ve been friends forever!”

“I’ve known Jensen longer. And if Jensen loves Jared, guy or not, I’m going to support him. Not some homophobe that turns on his friends the second things don’t go his way.”

“You’re alone,” Tom hissed.

“No he’s not,” Steve corrected. Jensen didn’t even notice that the team had joined them in the parking lot. “You are.”

Jensen struggled to his feet and pulled Jared with him. “Rethink this, Tom. Please. Rethink us,” Jensen said, indicating Jared and himself. “You’re my friend. Jared’s my boyfriend. I don’t want to choose.”

“And if you do choose?” Tom snarled.

Jensen looped his hand through Jared’s. “I’m sorry, Tom.”

“I’m not,” Chris and Steve said in unison. Jensen bit back a smile.

Tom rubbed at his face. “Then I guess this is goodbye.”

Jensen felt his heart splinter. “Yeah.” Jared wrapped an arm around Jensen and he sank into the touch.

Steve ‘accidentally’ tripped on Tom’s leg and Chris aimed a kick at Alex’s calf. “Can’t say I’m disappointed.”

Jensen rolled his eyes at his friends but his lips quirked up. Jared squeezed him. “Come on. We’ve got to get you fixed up.”  

Steve, Chris, Jensen, Jared, and the entire team turned their backs on Tom and walked away. Jensen took one last look at the broken expression on Tom’s face. He offered a small smile and a flicker of hope illuminated Jensen’s chest when Tom mimicked the smile.

“Are you happy?” Tom asked quietly.

Jensen glanced at Jared, who had Gen on his back and Chris laughing at his side. “So much more than I thought I could be.”

Tom winced as he shifted. Chris must have really hit him. “That’s good then. You deserve it.”

“You could stay with us,” Jensen offered. “I’ll forgive you. Just apologize to me and Jared.”

Tom shook his head. “You’re too nice. Chris, Steve, the others—they’d never forgive me. I don’t deserve it.”

Jensen felt a hand touch his elbow and smiled up at Jared. “It’s okay,” Jared murmured.

Jensen bit his lip when his eyes met Tom’s. “Please.”

“I just…” Tom shook his head. “I can’t do it.”

Jensen nodded. “Okay then.”

“Bye Jensen.”

“Bye,” Jensen replied softly. Jensen took a deep breath Jared guided him away from one of the best friends Jensen has.

Had.

 *******

Jared, Jensen, and their entourage opened the door to Jensen’s house as quietly as possible. Jensen and Jared had gone to the doctor and he’d declared Jensen did have a concussion as well as a minor sprain in his ankle, they would both live with some ice and rest.

Jensen developed a horrible headache somewhere on the drive home and Jared held him and let him moan and whimper in pain at any loud sounds. Jensen felt dizzy and sick and the first thing Jared did when the six of them reached Jensen’s house was lay Jensen down on the sofa. “I’ll get some ice,” Jared whispered. Jensen nodded and snuggled into the couch. Chris blocked his way out of the comfortable movie room.

“Nuh uh. You sit here with your boyfriend. Steve and I can get ice and Advil and food. Gen and Danni can pick out a movie. You two get to sit and mooch off us.”

“Poor, broken babies,” Gen cooed.

“I hate you, Gen,” Jensen groaned.

“Love you, Jen.”

“He’s mine, get your own,” Jared mumbled as he cuddled up to Jensen on the couch, careful not to jostle him.

Gen laughed loudly. “Don’t think I could take him from you if I tried, Jarebear.”

Jared adjusted Jensen slightly on the giant L-shaped couch so that Jared leaned against the corner and Jensen could nestle between Jared’s legs and put his head on Jared’s chest. Jensen’s arms went around Jared’s waist and he closed his eyes peacefully.

The flash of a camera startled Jared. Danni watched him with an embarrassed smile. “I couldn’t help it; you two are too cute.”

Jared snickered and carded his fingers through Jensen’s hair. Jensen moaned. “God, Jare, that feels so good.”

Jared kept massaging Jensen’s head and the boy began to purr. “You’re purring, Jen.”

“Am not,” Jensen protested sleepily. Jared snickered and decided to stop petting Jensen to see what he would do. Jensen looked up at him with sad doe-eyes, like Jared betrayed him. “Why’d you stop?”

Jared threw his head back and laughed. He pulled Jensen closer to him and kissed the nape of his neck lightly while his fingers combed through Jensen’s hair. “Hi baby.” Gen and Danneel turned and looked through DVD’s with intense concentration. Jared was grateful they gave them a little privacy.

Jensen hummed. “Jay…” Jensen trailed off and hugged Jared closer. “God, I’m so sorry.”

“What are you sorry for?” Jared had a sinking suspicion of what he was apologizing for and hoped he was wrong.

“I let them go after you. If we weren’t dating, if I wasn’t so careless and told you to go alone-,”

Jared pressed his lips against Jensen’s and sufficiently cut him off. “You don’t have to apologize. It’s not your fault. I’m the one that wandered into the parking lot. You couldn’t have done anything even if you were there. Jen, you can barely walk, let alone fight.”

Jensen chewed on his lip. “I just stood there begging. I’m pathetic.”

“You could have just as easily walked away,” Jared pointed out.

“I would never!” Jensen exclaimed indignantly.

“Then I’m not mad,” Jared concluded. “You stayed and you tried to get them to let go of me. So what if those assholes didn’t listen? You’re you, you’re perfect, I love you, and I’m not mad. So please stop apologizing.”

“Never,” Jensen mumbled. And just like that they’re back to teasing and playfulness.

Gen and Danni decide to watch Nightmare on Elm Street. Jensen groans that the special effects are lame and Jared tugs at his hair.

“I like this movie.”

“I guess you like Titanic, too.”

“Dude! You can’t group Nightmare and Titanic in the same group. It’s insulting!” Jared exclaimed. Jensen laughed at him.

Chris and Steve shove open the door to the movie room with popcorn and candy and more ice bags than one person should carry. Chris dumps the ice on Jensen’s lap and he yelps with the cold. “Dammit, Chris!”

“You’re welcome, Jenny.” Chris tossed a bottle of Advil at Jared. “Figured you might be sore after getting kicked around like a punching bag.”

Jared winced when he finally realized how sore is body really was. He grabbed a couple ice packs and helped Jensen set the bags on his ankles and against his head. Jensen complained about the cold.

Once both boys were covered in ice packs and chewed on Twizzlers, Danni hit play and Jared closed his eyes to enjoy the exclusive after party just for the six of them.  

 ******* 

The sound of the movie room door slamming open roused Jensen. Donna Ackles stood in the doorway with a hesitant yet gentle smile. “Hi, kids.”

“Hi, Donna,” Chris mumbled from somewhere on the floor. “What’s up?”

Donna raised an eyebrow at Chris. “Just wanted to congratulate you on the championship win. And check on my boy. Jensen, you took a nasty fall. Are you alright?”

Jensen didn’t know whether to be more surprised that Donna came to the game and actually watched it or the fact that she cared that Jensen was injured. “I’m okay, Mom. Jared took care of me.” Jensen held up the ice packs as proof. “We’re just having a little celebration party.”

“He has a minor sprain in his ankle and a concussion,” Jared piped up. “And some bruises but I think those will be okay in a few days.”

“Gee, thanks Jared,” Jensen muttered.

“A concussion?” Donna walked over to her son. “Are you in pain?”

“Nah. The ice helps.”

Donna smiled. “Well if you need something-,”

“Why’d you come to the game?” Jensen blurted.

“Mack insisted. She said the championship was really important to you and I just had to go,” Donna said with a chuckle. “I wish I’d gone to more of them now. They’re more fun than I originally believed.”

“Well, I’ll play at college,” Jensen said. “You can watch me then.”

“Mack and I will go to every game,” Donna promised. It didn’t escape Jensen’s notice that his dad was left out. He didn’t need to ask if Alan went to the game; Jensen already knew the answer.

“You wanna watch the rest of the movie with us, Donna?” Danni asked.

“You’re not gonna mind a mom hanging out with you?”

“You’re not like other moms, you’re a cool mom,” Chris said.

Gen pointed at him and yelled, “Ha! I knew you liked Mean Girls!”

“Shut up. It’s a good movie.”

Donna shook her head. “I think I’m just going to go to bed. Jensen, careful with your head. Don’t stay up too late and ice it.”

“Moooom,” Jensen whined. “You don’t have to baby me.”

“No,” Donna agreed with a teasing grin, “That’s what you have Jared for, right Jared?”

Jared beamed. “Absolutely, ma’am.”  

Jensen slapped his arm lightly. “I hate both of you.”

“Goodnight, Jensen,” Donna said warmly. “Love you.”

“Love you too, Mom,” Jensen replied. As she shut the door behind him, Jensen realized it was the first time they’d said that to each other and really meant it in a very long time.

Jensen snuggled into his boyfriend and signaled for Gen to restart the movie. He scanned the room and felt a goofy grin spreading across his face and a warm bubbly feeling in his stomach. His friends were here and joking around for the first time since they were kids. His mom and his sister were close to him. Maybe his dad was an asshole, but at least Jensen wasn’t scared of him anymore.

Jensen thought about that for a long while and didn’t even care it sounded like something out of a romance novel or bad chick flick. Jared came into his life and everything got better.

“Hey, Jared?” Jensen murmured.

“Yeah?” Jared tore his attention away from the screen to look at Jensen.  

“I dunno,” Jensen said. “Lost my train of thought.”

From the knowing twinkle in Jared’s brown-blue eyes, he knew what Jensen was trying to say. 

Chapter Text

Jared didn’t know where he was for a moment when he woke up. After blinking a few times he recognized the mostly-dark movie room at Jensen’s. Sometime in the night he and Jensen had curled up so Jensen’s back was against Jared’s chest. He couldn’t help but smile at the way their bodies fit together so well.

Danni and Gen were on the other side of the L and Chris and Steve were draped on top of each other. Jared wished he had a camera to take a picture of this moment. He really needed some blackmail.

Jared decided that at—oh wow—6 in the morning, sleep came before blackmail. Jared snuggled closer to Jensen and closed his eyes, waiting for sleep to overtake him again.

Just as he was drifting off, Jensen stirred and slid his hand into Jared’s. “Too early to be up, Jay.”

“I wasn’t up,” Jared lied.

“Can’t lie to me, Jay. You breath differently when you’re awake.”

“You know how I breath?” Jared teased. “Isn’t that a little creepy?”

“Fuck off. Everyone breathes slower in sleep and faster awake. You’re nothing special.”

“Aw, Jennybean, you break my heart.”

Don’t call me Jennybean,” Jensen hissed.

“Sure, whatever you want.” Jared lowered his head to whisper in Jensen’s ear. “But there’s really nothing you can do considering we can’t wake the others.”

“Trust me, I have no problem waking the others. I can blame it on the concussion and the sprained wrist.”

“Wow, you’re really milking the concussion thing. Does that mean I can milk getting beat up?” As soon as Jared said it he regretted it. Jensen’s whole body stiffened and he shut his eyes.

“Going back to sleep,” Jensen muttered.

“Fuck,” Jared said to himself. “Jen, I’m sorry. Come on. Jensen.”

“Don’t joke about that,” Jensen growled. “You scared the shit out of me. I was literally on my knees begging. And you fucking joke about it.”

Jared pulled Jensen closer to him and felt relieved when Jensen didn’t wiggle away. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He kissed Jensen’s neck. “I love you.”

“I love you too. So much it scares me.” Jensen yawned. “Now that I’ve managed to sound like a pathetic lovesick girl twice in 24 hours, can we go back to sleep before I embarrass myself further?”

Jared sucked on Jensen’s earlobe and Jensen stifled a moan. “You like that?” Jared murmured. Jensen hummed and Jared took that as a yes. “Let’s go back to sleep.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Jensen gripped Jared’s hand tight and Jared saw his eyes flutter shut. He was out in minutes and Jared remembered that Jensen was the furthest thing from a morning person as possible.  

Of course, even 6 am on a Saturday was too early for Jared, and soon he drifted off with his arms wrapped around his boyfriend.

 ***** 

Jensen woke up at the blissfully late hour of 11:30. He could probably sleep longer if he wanted, blaming it on the concussion or emotional trauma from watching some asshole football player hurt his boyfriend. Jared was a morning person and Jensen was well aware that he was awake. Jensen wondered how long Jared had been awake, if he even fell asleep after their conversation at the ass crack of dawn. He didn’t think Jared had ever slept past 8:00 in his life. It was a testament to how much he loved Jensen that he kept his arms wrapped around him so Jensen could sleep in the comfort of Jared’s furnace-like body. Jensen really liked cuddling with Jared, not that he would ever admit that to another soul.

It was embarrassing enough admitting it to himself, but Jensen doubted Jared would hold it against him. Jared probably already knew from the death grip Jensen kept on his hand in sleep and the way he tried to fit their bodies together.

But he’d never saw it out loud.

“Awake now, sleepyhead?” Jared murmured into his ear.

“What would I have to do to get you to stay here with me for the rest of the day?”

Jared rolled onto his back and pulled Jensen on top of him. “Can we at least have breakfast? Gen said something about chocolate chip pancakes.”

Jensen mock-pouted. “Food is more important than me?”

Jared leaned up and kissed Jensen. “What if you ate with me?”

“Rather eat off you,” Jensen replied. Jared chuckled and pushed Jensen off.

“Breakfast first, lame innuendos later.”

“They’re not lame!”

“Sure they’re not, Jen.” Jared stretched and his shirt rode up, exposing hipbones and lower, solid abs. Jensen couldn’t help the way his throat went dry at the sight. When he looked up, Jared was smirking at him.

“Fuck off,” Jensen muttered. He made his way to the kitchen but felt strong arms loop around his waist from behind.

“I like you looking at me,” Jared murmured. “Makes me feel good.” Makes me feel attractive. Jensen heard the unspoken words and he turned in Jared’s arms.

Jensen pulled Jared’s lips gently against his own. There was still passion in the kiss, but it was soft and gentle. Loving. “You’re so gorgeous. Can’t help myself,” Jensen murmured. Bubbles filled his stomach at the bright and slightly bashful smile Jared sent his way. He’d gladly tell Jared how amazing he was every second of the day to see that smile.

“Wow, you got Jenny up before noon, that’s impressive,” Chris said from the doorway. “And if you’re done making doe eyes at each other, breakfast is ready.”

“I hate you, Chris,” Jensen mumbled against Jared’s lips. Chris made a gagging sound.

“Whatever. More pancakes for me.” Chris turned back to the kitchen.

Jared’s stomach growled and Jensen giggled. “Guess we better get you some pancakes, huh?”

“Love you.”

“Hm, love you too,” Jensen hummed.

“Yo! Get your pancakes before they’re all gone! I didn’t slave over these for nothing, you know!” Gen yelled from the kitchen. Jared brightened and half dragged Jensen to the source of food.

Jared saw the enormous stack of pancakes and his eyes widened. Jensen smiled fondly at him before getting his own food and sitting beside Jared at the table. He put his feet in Jared’s lap and Jared massaged them with one hand while he ate his pancakes with the other. The moans Jared made while he ate were pornographic and Jensen worried for a moment he’d get hard in front of his friends. He focused on the cup of coffee Danni placed in front of him. “You remembered,” Jensen said.

Danneel rolled her eyes. “You think I’m going to forget that you turn into Godzilla if you don’t get your coffee? I actually like Jared, and when he dumps you for being an ass without caffeine, I’ll be very sad.”

Jensen pushed her away playfully and drank his coffee in peace. He saw Jared watching up and asked, “What?”

“You look like you’re in love with your coffee,” Jared teased.

“You’re in love with Gen’s pancakes!”

Everyone’s in love with Gen’s pancakes,” Steve pointed out.

“Yeah, but still,” Jensen mumbled.

“Convincing argument.”

Jensen ignored Steve and concentrated on the feel of Jared’s fingers massaging his feet. “Feels good,” Jensen said. Jared smiled happily.

“I’ll keep it up then.”

“God I love you.”

“We all love Jared,’ Gen cooed. She put her arms around Jared’s neck and Jensen glared. “Aw, he’s got a jealous streak.”

Jensen blushed. “Shut up please.”

“Aw, you’re cute,” Gen teased. Jensen dropped his head to the table.

Jared squeezed Jensen’s foot. “The jealous thing is kind of hot.”

“’M not jealous,” Jensen protested with his head still on the table.

“So, you totally wouldn’t mind if I were to kiss Jared right now?” Gen asked. “Because you’re not jealous. And he’s totally gay and he love with you, so it wouldn’t have any effect at all.”

Jensen stiffened but refused to rise to the bait. Jared’s gay. Jared loves me. Jensen kept repeating the same thing over and over again. He refused to let Gen had the satisfaction of Jensen’s jealousy. It was embarrassing, right up there with cuddling.

Jensen heard the sound of Gen’s lips on something, the soft press of lips against something else. Don’t look up, don’t look up. He heard what sounded like a smack and Jensen’s head flew up. Oh fuck.

Gen was laughing at him and Jensen flushed with embarrassment. Her lips were nowhere near Jared’s. They were pressed against Danni’s cheek. Even Chris and Steve snickered at his reaction. Jensen’s embarrassment became anger, especially when he saw Jared’s smug smile. He stifled a tantrum by stuffing a large bit of pancake into his mouth. He stared at the plate and chewed slowly without tasting anything. Gen’s pancakes, which were normally Jensen’s favorite breakfast food, made Jensen want to throw up.

Jensen was well aware he’s acting like a touchy little kid, but anyone would act so irritable if his friends were laughing at him because he didn’t like the idea of someone else kissing his boyfriend. Jensen didn’t know exactly what amused his friends about the situation.

Jensen barely managed to swallow the last bit of pancake. “I’m gonna take a shower,” He announced.

Jared watched him with concerned eyes. “Jen-,”

“It’s fine. I’m not mad,” Jensen said flatly. It was about as convincing as Jared’s “concealed” amusement.

Jensen slid into his room and the adjoining bathroom. He locked the door and turned on the faucet to the shower. It sounded like raindrops when it hit the curtain. God, the others are downstairs probably talking about how lame I am, Jensen thought. How pathetic I act because of Jared.

Jensen felt a wave of anger towards Jared. It’s misplaced anger, Jensen knows that. He knows Jared didn’t do anything. He knows Jared loves him. But petty teenage frustration leads to taking it out on the people you cared about.

And now I’m a walking mess.

Jensen stepped into the shower and let the water wash over him. It soaked through the bandages wrapped around his wrist and ribs; Jared was right, he probably should go to the doctor. Some of it hit on his face and it slipped down like teardrops. A knock at the door startled him. “Jen? It’s Jared. Can I come in?”

“Door’s locked,” Jensen called back.

“Then open it,” Jared retorted bitterly. Then he sighed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound so harsh.”

“You don’t sound harsh,” Jensen replied briskly. He wished he could turn up the volume of the shower.

“Then open the door,” Jared reasoned.

“I don’t need you to laugh at me!” Jensen snapped. Oh shit. Jared became silent and Jensen wondered if he could drown himself in the shower. It would be better than facing the humiliation.

Wow, Jensen was really shallow.

“Jen, I’m not going to laugh at you,” Jared said softly. Jensen decided not to respond. Everything he’s said is coming out embarrassingly sappy or embarrassingly whiney. Jensen wasn’t sure which one is worse.

Jared sighed again and Jensen heard a hint of irritation. The sound of footsteps padding away left Jensen with a pang of sadness even though it’s what Jensen claimed he wanted.

A few minutes later, Jensen was in the middle of wallowing in self-pity when the door handle rattled and then something clicked. Jensen heard the door open and Jared’s sweet voice say, “Jensen, I’m in here. The others left.”

Jensen’s breathing skipped and against his better judgment he shut off the shower and fumbled for a towel. Only when it was fastened around his waist did Jensen step out of the shower. “What’s up-,”

Jared’s lips were on Jensen’s before another word escaped his mouth. Jensen moaned and wrapped his hands in Jared’s long hair. “Love you,” Jared murmured between kisses. “Love you so much. I’m so sorry. That was mean.”

“What was mean?” Jensen asked. His brain had short circuited as soon as Jared kissed him and he didn’t particularly feel like talking or thinking. He pulled Jared down for another kiss but Jared turned his head so Jensen got his cheek. Jensen whined and tried to find Jared’s lips.

“Jensen—Jensen, stop, oh god, Jensen,” Jared grabbed Jensen and pulled him into a frantic kiss. “Can’t even have a conversation without getting hard,” Jared muttered.

“You’re hard from kissing?”

Jared blushed. “You’re a good kisser.”

“Fucking-,” Adorable was on the tip of Jensen’s tongue, but he remembered how it pissed him off when Jared called him adorable. Jared was more even tempered but Jensen wasn’t taking any chances. “Fucking amazing,” Jensen finished. “Love you.”

Jared tugged his lips off Jensen and wrapped him in a warm hug.

Jensen exhaled and put his arms around Jared’s waist. Jared kissed the top of his head. “Jen, it’s so hot that you get jealous.” He kissed the spot behind Jensen’s ear that made him shudder. “But I’d never, ever, ever, kiss anyone else. I can’t even look at anyone else and be remotely interested. They just don’t compare. Not to you.”

Jensen’s eyes dropped to the floor guiltily. “I overreacted and I’m sorry. I know all that.”

Jared rubbed a hand up and down Jensen’s back. “I love you so much.”

Jensen let out a shaky breath. “I love you too.”

“Good, or I’d have poured my soul out for nothing.”

“You poured your soul out because I’m a petty kid who can’t take a joke,” Jensen corrected.

“Well, I guess I’m into that kind of guy.” Jared started to let go but Jensen held onto his sleeve.

“Not yet,” Jensen murmured. He was positive Jared was smirking, but Jensen was too comfortable in Jared’s arms to care.

“You’re wet and naked, which on any other occasion I would have no complaints about, but you’re getting me all wet.”

“Sounds dirty,” Jensen said playfully.

“There isn’t an innuendo I everything,” Jared replied. “Now please let go.”

“No thanks.” Jensen snuggled into Jared. “I’m happy right here.”

“Jensen…” Jared tried to sound firm but he couldn’t conceal the laughter in his voice.

“Ugh. Fine. Spoilsport.” Jensen untangled himself from Jared. “Happy?”

Jared’s eyes skimmed over Jensen’s naked body and Jensen suddenly felt self-conscious “Very,” Jared purred. He ran his fingers down Jensen’s arm and he shivered under Jared’s touch.

“Why am I the only one naked?” Jensen asked. He meant for it to be as effortlessly sultry as Jared could sound but ended up seeming whiney.

Jared grabbed Jensen’s hands and reeled him in. “Let’s fix that, shall we?” Jensen went willingly but puzzled.

Jared slid his shirt off. Jensen wasn’t shallow enough that he only loved Jared because he was possibly the most gorgeous guy Jensen had ever laid eyes on. But it certainly didn’t hurt that Jared was built. From the way Jared smirked at him, he knew exactly what he was doing to Jensen.

Jared guided Jensen’s hands to his belt buckle. “Come on, Jen.”

Words failed Jensen. “God, Jared, so fucking…” Jensen scrambled to undo the buckle and the button on Jared’s jeans. “Are you sure about this?” They’d never been fully naked around each other.

Jared glared. “Hurry up and get them off, Ackles, or I swear to god-,”

Jensen grabbed Jared’s jeans and yanked them down. Jared’s boxer-briefs were all that separated them from totally nakedness. Jared lowered his mouth to Jensen’s ear. “Take them off, Jen.”

“You’re gonna fucking kill me, I swear Jared,” Jensen growled. He peeled Jared’s underwear off and he swallowed at the sight before him. Jared’s cock was huge and hard. Jensen had his hand around it before he realized what he was doing. Jared threw his head back and moaned.

“Christ, Jensen,” Jared gasped. He put his hands on Jensen’s waist and walked them backwards until they were in the shower. Jensen fumbled with the shower while keeping one hand stroking Jared’s cock. “Jen—oh god, so close Jen,” Jared panted. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Jensen finally got warm water to fall on their heads. It made Jensen’s hand glide easier on Jared’s dick and Jared cursed between pants.

“Jen, I’m gonna, oh my god, Jen, fuck,” Jared babbled incoherently.

Jensen twisted his hand up and down Jared’s cock, smoothing his finger over the head. Jared seemed to have lost the ability to do anything but moan and dig his nails into Jensen’s hips. Jensen nibbled on Jared’s ear. “Come, Jay.”

It seemed to be all the encouragement Jared needed. His body stilled and then Jared spilled over Jensen’s hand. He bit down on Jensen’s shoulder hard enough to leave a mark, but a muffled cry of “Jensen!” managed to escape Jared’s lips.

Jared licked the mark he left on Jensen’s shoulder. “God, that was amazing.”

Jensen chuckled. “Glad you liked it.”

Jared wrapped his own fist around Jensen’s dick. It took two, three strokes before Jensen came with a cry. “We should fight more often,” Jared said.

“We didn’t fight. You just threw a tantrum and I made you feel better.”

“I did not throw a tantrum!” Jensen protested. Jared laughed at him. 

The water shifted from lukewarm to cold, but the two stayed in the shower with exhausted limbs tangled together.

 *******

Jared lay exhausted on Jensen’s bed. “What are you doing tonight?” He asked.

“Nothing,” Jensen responded. His face froze after he said it. “Oh, shit.”

“What’s up?”

Jensen looked at him hopelessly. “Prom’s tonight. I totally forgot.”

Jared’s smile dimmed. “Oh, right.”

“You can still buy a ticket!” Jensen said, “I’m sure they have them at the door.”

Jared kissed Jensen’s forehead. “You go with Danni. You said you would. And I know how much Prom means to her.”

“I don’t want to go without you,” Jensen whined. “It won’t be fun.”

“Come on. All your best friends will be there. It will be fun.”

“But the one person I want to be there won’t be,” Jensen said. “My boyfriend.”

Jared leaned forward and kissed Jensen. “Love hearing you say that.”

Jensen smiled against Jared’s lips. “Jared Padalecki, my boyfriend.”

“Jensen Ackles, my boyfriend.”

Jared stroked Jensen’s hair. “Go to Prom. I’ll be home, waiting for you to climb through my window.”

Jensen held up his sprained wrist. “I’m not doing any climbing any time soon.”

Jared pulled Jensen into his arms. “Guess I’ll have to climb into your room.”

“Sure, scale the smooth side of the house. Or grab onto the invisible tree right outside my window.”

“Don’t be so sarcastic, asshole.”

“I hate you, Padalecki.”

“Come on, let’s get you suited up.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “Suited up?”

“You know. Make you look presentable. My boyfriend isn’t going to get the reputation as the guy who showed up looking like a slob at Prom.”

“Wow, you are so gay,” Jensen teased. “Come on, Jay. Make me look pretty.”

“Do you have your tux?” Jared asked.

“My what?”

Jared groaned. “Oh great.”

 

Jared dragged Jensen to Chris’ house. Steve was already over there and playing videogames in the basement. “Ow, ow, ow, ow, Jared-,” Jensen stumbled behind Jared pulling him towards Chris and Steve.

“Here’s the deal,” Jared said, “Danneel, Gen, and Sophia are going to be pissed to hell if their dates show up with an attitude that says ‘don’t want to be here’ and an outfit to match. So we’re going to get you guys ready so three girls don’t hate you for the rest of your lives. Sound good?”

Steve and Chris exchanged looks. “You really sound gay.”

“That’s what I said!” Jensen exclaimed.

Jared rolled his eyes. “Do you want my help or do you want homicidal cheerleaders?”

All three football players wore matching expressions. “Fine,” Chris agreed, “doll us up, Padalecki.”

Apparently the three suits had been delivered to Chris’ house and no one had ever noticed. Chris’s mom, thankfully someone was rational, had put them in Chris’ closet.

“Now we just have to pray they fit,” Jared muttered.

“You think they won’t?” Chris asked nervously.

“Not unless the tux’s as big as your ego?”

“What?”

“Nothing,” Jared said quickly. “Just go try on the tuxes.”

With much grumbling and huffing, Chris, Steve, and Jensen stalked up to Chris’ room to put on the tuxes. “It’s your Prom!” Jared yelled after them. “No one said I had to help.”

Jared dropped onto the couch. “Football players,” Jared mumbled to himself. “All the same.”

He looked around Chris’ house, noting the little details that made it Chris’. The football jersey lying on the ground, the little plastic trophies given to little kids at the end of their little league football season. Family photos with Chris in Holiday sweaters.

“Okay, tell me this monkey suit looks presentable.” Steve stood at the top of the stairs and fiddled with the bow tie.

“God this is uncomfortable.” Chris tried to stretch his limbs behind Steve. “So not worth the risk of homicidal cheerleaders.”

“Well, you don’t look half bad,” Jared said. “And we can make it less uncomfortable. Come here, both of you.”

Steve stomped down the stairs and Chris followed hot on his heels. Jared fixed the tight bow ties and adjusted the sleeves. “Any better?”

“No. I mean yes,” Steve said, “but don’t like I’m happy about this.”

“Well, at least Sophia won’t kill you,” Jared said.

“Maybe I’ll finally hook up with Gen,” Chris piped up.

“Yeah right. She’d sleep with me before she slept with you.” Jared glanced up at the top of the stairs to see Jensen smirking at Chris. “And I’m totally gay for Jared.”

Jared opened his mouth to tell Jensen he looked good. But his throat ran dry at the sight of his boyfriend. He meant to tell Jensen that he’d never seen him so handsome, but what came out was, “Danneel’s so lucky.”

Jensen threw back his head laughed. “Aw, baby, you know you own my heart.”

Jared blushed. “Doesn’t stop me from wishing-,” Jared stopped. “From wishing that I could be at Prom.”

Jensen half jogged down the steps. “I want that too.” Chris and Steve stammered out excuses and tripped over each other’s heels to get out of the room. Jensen snorted and laid his head on Jared’s shoulder. “So I look good?”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed. “Yeah, Jen, you look really good.”

“Jealous of Danni?”

“Jealous of everyone that gets to see you like this.” Jared combed his fingers through Jensen’s messy hair. “Wish it was just me.”

“I’ll be thinking of you the whole time,” Jensen assured him. “Thinking about how you’d look in a tux.”

“One day I’ll put one on for you,” Jared said.

“Promise?”

Jared leaned down and kissed Jensen fiercely. “Promise.”

Chris coughed from the corner. “Um, so are we ready?”

Jared glanced at them. “Not quite.”

“What more is there to do?” Jensen asked.

“Hair, makeup-,”

“I’m not wearing makeup!” Chris said fervently.

Jared laughed. “Relax, Chris. Joking. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt your masculinity.” Chris glared at him.

“Your boyfriend’s evil, Jenny.”

“Hm, I love him though,” Jensen said fondly. He wrapped an arm around Jared’s waist. “I love him so much that when I get back from Prom I’m gonna-,”

“Nope! Not listening! Can’t hear you!” Chris clamped his hands over his ears.

Jensen and Jared laughed. “You’re too easy, Chris.”

“I hate you guys.”

“You break my heart, Chris,” Jensen joked.

“Jared’ll mend it later.”

“Or you can get really drunk at Prom,” Steve suggested. “The whole thing will be an orgy passed off as dancing, anyways.”

Jared expected it would be as much, but it didn’t mean he had to like the idea of his boyfriend grinding against someone else. He trusted Danni and Gen and preferred if they and they alone touch Jensen tonight. Deep down he knew that was an unrealistic expectation.

Jensen glowered at Steve. The other boy tried to backtrack. “I mean, not like, bad or anything. Nothing’s gonna happen, only if you’re really stupid or horny or drunk.”

“Drunk? Like you suggested Jensen get drunk?”

“Uh, no. Jensen’s responsible.”

“Steve,” Jensen cut in, “do me a favor and shut the hell up.” He turned to Jared. “I swear, I’ll skip if you want.”

Jared shook his head. “Go. I trust you.”

Jensen frowned. “I’m not happy about this.”

“Well, I don’t want Danneel to kick my ass cuz I’m making her date miserable.”

Jensen laughed. “Keep your phone on. I’ll be texting.”

“Danneel’s gonna hate me.”

“Yeah, well, look at her with puppy dog eyes and she’ll be wrapped around your finger.”

“Is that why you’re so whipped, Jenny?” Chris asked.

“No, I just give great head,” Jared shot back.

Chris’s mouth fell open and Jensen watched Jared with wide eyes. “Who are you and what have you done with my boyfriend?”

“Just wanted to give you something to think about during Prom.”

“You leaving Chris speechless?”

“No,” Jared replied. “My lips around your cock.” He kissed Jensen’s cheek. “Now go pick up Danneel.”

Jensen glared up at him. “I’d be so pissed if my pants weren’t so loose.”

“Well, I’ll be at home alone and thinking about you. All. Alone.”

Jensen pressed his lips against Jared’s. It seemed like Jensen claiming him rather than kissing him. “I’ll be thinking about you, too.”

 *****

Jensen frowned the whole drive to pick up Danneel. Steve and Chris chatted animatedly beside him in the car, about how beautiful their dates would be, the fact that everyone got laid on Prom night. All Jensen thought about was Jared’s forced smile while he watched them from Chris’s doorway.

Danneel noticed his dejected mood while he pinned her corsage on. He wasn’t doing a great job of hiding his emotions. She put a hand on his arm. “If your hands shake any more, you’re going to stab me with the needle.”

“I’m sorry,” Jensen said. “I am.”

“Hey,” Danneel tilted his chin up. “I get it. I do.”

“Get what?”

“Oh, sweetie, it’s written all over your face. You miss him. It’s okay. You’re in love.” Danneel helped him pin the little white purple flower on. “Why did you come?”

“What do you mean?” Jensen asked.

“Well, it’s obvious you’d rather be with him.” Danneel didn’t sound mad, just stating a fact.

“I promised you I’d be here,” Jensen said.

Danni raised an eyebrow. “Jared told you not to bail, didn’t he?” Jensen lowered his eyes.

“I should know that on my own.”

“Look. We’ll go for an hour. Less, if you want. Then I’ll hang back with the others and you go to your man.”

“I can’t do that to you.”

Danni kissed his cheek. “And I suppose you’d rather let Jared sit at home and come up with horrible situations where you hook up with someone else?”

“He trusts me.”

“Doesn’t matter. He knows you wouldn’t, but there’s that little part of him that’s thinking ‘what if’. It happens in all relationships. If Jared went off with some other guy, you’d think ‘what if’ even though you trust him.”

Jensen sighed. “I’m going to make Prom good for you, Danni. You deserve that.”

“And you deserve to be miserable, right?” Danni shook her head. “Jensen Ackles, you are too nice for your own good.”

 

Prom was held in a ballroom of a fairly nice hotel. It’s beautifully decorated. There are stars and streamers and soft lighting. Danneel looks like an angel. She’s breathtaking, and all Jensen can think about is Jared.

Danneel grabbed his hands. “Come on, baby, we’re going to give you a great Prom.”

Chris is running his hands all over Gen, but she slaps his hands every time he wanders to close to her chest or her ass. Jensen smiled against Danni’s cheek. “He’s got no chance,” Jensen muttered.

“That’s what she’d like him to believe,” Danni replied. Jensen’s brown crinkled. “Oh come on, Chris isn’t bad looking. And he can be sweet. He’s funny and likeable. Of course he’s appealing.”

“Gen doesn’t date.”

“We’re almost graduates. Might as well have a little fun while we still can, right?”

“Gen doesn’t date,” Jensen repeated. Danneel laughed and twirled him.

“Come on, cowboy, let’s dance.”

Jensen wasn’t having a horrible time. Danneel was fun and her laughter was contagious. Chris and Steve kept him entertained every time his smile started to fade. Gen played with Chris’ head all night, and his perseverance had Danneel and Jensen in stiches. Steve seemed to be the only one getting anywhere with his date. Sophia was smiling up at him like he was the only guy in the room, and Steve had a small grin on his face. Jensen saw Alexis, Tom’s date, dancing with Gen and Sophia at one point.

“Give me a sec,” Jensen shouted to Danni over the loud music. Danni nodded and went to find Chris. Jensen slid over to Alexis. “Lexi?”

Alexis turned to him. “Hey, Jensen!” She glanced around. “Where’s your boyfriend?”

“At home,” Jensen said glumly.

“Why?”

“Because he thinks I should be here with Danneel. He guilted me into it. Where’s Tom?” Jensen asked.

Alexis rolled his eyes. “I said I thought you and Jared were the cutest couple ever. You can imagine how he reacted.”

“He broke it off with you because of that?” Jensen asked, shocked.

Alexis snorted. “Please. I broke it off with him. Rather go alone than with a homophobe.” She squeezed his shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry about what?”

“I know he was your friend,” Alexis said sadly. “And now you’ve lost him, and he’s lost everyone. I want to say he deserved it but… it’s hard to wish that on anyone.”

“Especially someone that you’ve known since you were a kid. I thought he’d support me through everything.” Jensen bit his lip. He really didn’t want to go through this at Prom. “But I have other people. I don’t need him.”

Lexi kissed his cheek. “You’re a strong guy, Jensen.”

“Yeah, well, At least half the credit goes to Jared.”

“He sounds amazing.”

“Yeah, he’s something.” He cleared his throat. “I ditched Danneel. Promised her I’d be right back.”

Alexis winked. “Have fun, Ackles. And say hi to Jared for me.”

“Sure thing.” Jensen found Danneel surrounded by guys. “Alright, boys, I’ve gotta steal my date back.” He walked back to the dance floor with Danneel in tow. “Can’t believe you almost left me for them,” Jensen teased.

“Why have one guy when you can have five?” Danneel joked back.

“Can’t believe I’m not good enough for you.”

Danneel laughed. “You gonna dance with me or not?”

Jensen wrapped his arms around Danni’s waist. “Show me what you got.”  

Chapter Text

Danneel and Jensen sat in the corner with Danni’s feet in Jensen’s lap. “Jen, I get it if you want to take off. Alexis and I will hang together.”

“I feel so horrible. I don’t wan to leave you on Prom night,” Jensen explained, “but I hate it even more to think of Jared at home while I’m here drinking-,” Jensen looked at the contents in his cup. “What am I drinking?”

“Some kind of punch.” Danneel sipped at hers.

Jensen crinkled his nose. “Tastes like watery cool-aid.”

Danni giggled. “I suppose it does.” She swished the red liquid around in her cup. “They didn’t exactly splurge on food, did they?”

“Probably used all the funds on this room,” Jensen supplied. “I’d rather have it in the school gym and have actual drinks rather than here in this stuffy ballroom.”

“It’s a beautiful ballroom!” Danni protested.

Jensen gave her an exasperated look. “We’ll spend three hours here, drinking watery cool-aid and trying to ignore the way our feet hurt from uncomfortable shoes.”

“Shut up. I’m in heels.”

“And least you can wear a dress. It’s all loose and flowey. I’m in a tux.”

“Loose and flowey?” Danni smiled amusedly. “Is flowey even a word?”

“It is now.” Jensen finished the punch. “That stuff is repulsive. Let us pray we never are subjected to drinking that horrible liquid again.”

“Are you sure you weren’t in drama? The melodramatics make me suspicious.”

“I am not melodramatic!” Jensen protested.

“Words, words, Jennybean.” She smirked. “Actions speak louder.”

“Fuck you and your cryptic crap.” Jensen sighed. “Is it bad that I’m actually having a decent time?”

“Do you want to be miserable?”

“No, but Jared can’t be happy. And I don’t want to be happy if he’s not.”

“Jensen, you self-sacrificing idiot.” Danneel pushed Jensen to his feet. “If you don’t get out of here right now, I’m going to kick your ass into next week!”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you are leaving this stupid dance to go be with your boyfriend. Now!”

“Danneel-,”

“You really want to argue with me about this?” Danneel asked. Jensen sighed and that seemed to be answer enough for Danneel. “See you Monday, lover boy!”

Jensen didn’t look back as he scrambled out of the gym.

 

 

Jared heard a knock at his door an d Megan’s voice say, “Stop sulking, Jare. There are better things you could be doing.”

“Like what?” Jared mumbled into his pillow. “I’m having a lot of fun right now.”

“Sitting on your bed with your head in the pillow, imagining situations with Jensen having more fun without you? With him and Danneel in a crowded gym while you sit at home?”

“Surprisingly, Megan, you’re not making me feel any better.”

Megan exhaled loudly. “You’re not having fun. And you’re acting like you don’t trust Jensen, but I know that you’ve got that boy so whipped he doesn’t even look at other girls. Or boys, for that matter.”

“Can you please go away, Megan?”

“Fine. Mope all on your own.” Megan’s footsteps receded but Jared still heard, “Man that boy’s pathetic.”

“I heard that!” Jared called after her.

“Don’t care!”

Jared heard the doorbell chime. “Megs, get the door!” He snuggled back into the bed and resumed his former task of brooding. Megan struck up a conversation with whoever was at the door. He heard her flirty laugh and Jared knew she was throwing her hair over her shoulder. “Teenage girls,” Jared muttered. “All the same.”

Someone knocked on his door again. “Megan! Go away! I told you, I’d rather pine alone!”

“Aw, you were pining?” The voice wasn’t Megan’s. Jared lifted his head from where it was buried in his pillow and green eyes smiled at him from the doorway. “Hey, Jay.” Jared practically fell of the bed in his eagerness to reach Jensen. Jensen laughed when Jared wrapped himself around Jensen. “Hey, missed you too.”

“How was Prom?” Jared asked into Jensen’s shoulder.

“Well, seeing as you weren’t there, it sucked.” Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck. “But Danni was the only person that I could probably stand going with. Chris and Steve were fun, you know. Danni mocked me for missing you. All in all, an experience I wouldn’t repeat.”

Jared refused to let go of Jensen. “I’m happy to see you.”

“I can tell,” Jensen teased. “Gonna let me go sometime, or am I going to be trapped in your arms for the rest of the night.”

“Rest of my life,” Jared corrected. He blushed deeply after he said it and buried his head in Jensen’s neck. “Kay, so we’re going to pretend I didn’t say that.”

“You’re fucking adorable, you know that?” Jensen placed light kisses up and down Jared’s neck. “And no way in hell am I forgetting you said that. Makes me feel special. Loved.”

“You are loved,” Jared assured. “A lot.”

“Nice to know.” Jensen dragged Jared back to his bed. “You know what they say about Prom night, Jared?”

“What?”

Jensen let his lips brush against Jared’s. “Everyone gets laid.”

Jared learned right there exactly how quickly Jensen could make him hard. “Um, uh, Jen, um…”

Jensen chuckled. “Relax, Jay. We don’t have to have sex, tonight or any other night.” Jensen let out a breath of laughter. “Honestly, when it comes to gay sex, I’m as much of a virgin as you are.”

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” Jared admitted.

Jensen kissed Jared slowly. “If you want, we can sleep together. Nothing else but sleep. I’ll hold you, or you can hold me, and we’ll fall asleep together. No sex. Nothing. I care about you too much to screw it up over something as dumb as sex.”

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “Sounds like you don’t want it.” Jared couldn’t keep his voice from shaking.

“Sounds like you’re nervous as hell,” Jensen shot back. “I told you. We can wait. It doesn’t bother me.”

“And if I want it?”

“Then we can…” Jensen ran a hand down his face. “Then we can sleep together.  And I mean, like-,”

“Sex,” Jared finished.

“So,” Jensen said, “What do you want, Jay?”

“I want you,” Jared replied simply. “You, completely.”

“Alright,” Jensen agreed. “Then I guess we’re gonna do this.”

Jared threw back his head and laughed. “You’re scared as hell. Sorry, but I can’t-,”

Jensen growled playfully and tackled Jared to the bed. “I can so have sex with you!” He dug his fingers into Jared’s sides and Jared squealed with laughter.

“Jensen! Jen, stop please! Jensen please!” Jared begged. Jensen snickered and kept the tickling up until Jared stretched up and pressed his lips against Jensen’s.

Jensen moaned and slid his hands under Jared’s shirt. “God, fucking-,” he pushed Jared’s shirt up, “-get this thing off.”

Jared wiggled out of his tee-shirt and helped Jensen shrug out of his jacket. “I really like this tux,” Jared murmured.

“Yeah, well, it’s a pain in the ass to wear. So we’re getting this off right now.”

Jared agreed and helped unbutton and yank off Jensen’s shirt. “Fuck.”

“Patience, Jay,” Jensen crooned. Jared lifted his hips so Jensen could slide down his sweatpants. Jensen’s eyes widened at the bulge in Jared’s pants and Jared blushed. “God, you’re huge,” Jensen muttered.

“You’ve seen it before,” Jared pointed out.

“Doesn’t mean I want it up my ass!”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Baby.” He rolled them over so he was on top of Jensen. Jensen shimmied out of his pants while keeping his eyes on Jared, both in only their boxer briefs now. “If it freaks you out this much, I can bottom.”

Jensen groaned and turned his head into the pillow. “I never thought I could actually be bad at sex.”

Jared kissed the spot behind Jensen’s ear that sent shivers down Jensen’s spine. “You’re nervous. It’s our first time. No big deal.”

“I suck.”

Jared swallowed nervously. “I can suck you, if you want.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “You sure?”

“Yeah,” Jared lied. “How hard can it be?”

“Very,” Jensen purred.

“Freak.” Jared hooked his fingers on Jensen’s underwear. “This okay?”

“Get those fucking things off,” Jensen growled. He pulled Jared’s underwear off with no finesse. He helped Jared pull Jensen’s boxer-briefs off until there was nothing separating them.

“Think you got hotter since the last time a saw you.”

“The last time being this morning, right?” Jensen teased.

“Don’t know what I see in you.”

“My amazing body,” Jensen said. “And my sense of humor.”

Jared giggled. “Very true.”

Jensen ran his fingers across Jared’s torso. Jared’s abs clenched when Jensen stroked them and Jared moaned when Jensen griped his hips. “God, Jared, what did I do to get you?”

Jared stopped his quest of kissing his way down Jensen’s chest. Jared looked at Jensen seriously and then wrapped his arms tightly around his boyfriend. “You idiot. Stop selling yourself short. That’s the only flaw I see in you.”

“You have no flaws.”

Jared kissed him. “Just wait. You’ll find out I’m very flawed.” He changed his tone to a more joking attitude. “You can make a list of my flaws, and we can work to fix them. Like for instance, I’m a total slob. You can teach me how to clean.”

“I’m a sarcastic asshole. Maybe you can teach me how to be sweet,” Jensen suggested.

“You’re stalling,” Jared pointed out.

Jensen groaned. “I’m really nervous. I thought it would be easy and now… now it’s not. It’s really hard and I have no idea what I’m doing. What if—what if I suck, and then you don’t want to be with me anymore?”

“Jen, even if it’s horrible, awful sex, I would never want to break up with you. And if it is bad, we have time to fix it. First times are bound to be a little awkward.”

Jensen took a deep breath. “Alright. Fine. We can do this.”  

Jared rolled onto his back. “You wanna top?”

“I will pay you money to never say those words again.” Jensen was bright red and Jared couldn’t help giggling. “I hate you. Laughing at me.”

Jared stroked a hand up Jensen’s cock. “I mean it, I will blow you. It’ll make you relax.”

Jensen took a deep breath. “You’re sure?”

“Yes.” Jared resumed the trail of kisses that he planted down Jensen’s chest. He continued until he reached Jensen’s thighs, kissing each one before touching his lips lightly to the head of his dick.

The gasp Jensen let out spurred Jared forward. He wrapped his lips around the head and tasted pre-cum. It was bitter, but it was undeniably Jensen, and Jared quickly adjusted to the taste. He took more down his throat of Jensen and relished in the moans and gasps of “Jared, god, Jay” that Jensen didn’t seem capable of controlling.

Jared flicked his tongue up and down and fondled his balls with one hand. That seemed to be the end of Jensen because he cried, “Jay, Jay I’m gonna-,” With one particularly loud moan he came down Jared’s throat. He managed to swallow all but a little bit and Jensen dragged him up to lick it off his chin. “I just fell in love with you all over again,” Jensen muttered. “Are you sure you’re a virgin?”

Jared laughed and kissed Jensen’s cheek. “You gonna fuck me or what?”

“Um… maybe you could fuck me?” Jensen asked timidly. “Yeah. No. That’s what I want. I want you to fuck me.”

“Jen, are you sure?”

“Jared, get your dick in my ass or I swear to god-,”

“Such a romantic,” Jared muttered. “Alright, cranky.” Jared leaned over to his nightstand and grabbed the box of condoms and lube.

“Prepared, huh, boy scout?”

“Fuck off. You wanna do this dry?”

“Hey, did I mention I love that you’re prepared?” Jensen exclaimed. Jared shook his head in amusement.

Jared slicked one finger up and pressed it against Jensen’s hole. He didn’t push it; Jensen was too tight. “Jen, you have to relax. I won’t even be able to get my finger unless you relax.”

Jensen took a deep breath. Jared was glad he blew Jensen before because it seemed to relax Jensen even a little bit. Jensen’s muscles began to unclench and Jared slid a finger in. “God, Jen, you’re so tight.”

Jensen groaned. “It hurts, Jay.”

“Bad? Do you need me to stop?” Jared looked over Jensen frantically. “I’ll stop.”

“No,” Jensen panted. “Keep going. I can do this.”

“You tell me to stop if it hurts. Promise you’ll tell me to stop.”

Jensen nodded. “Promise. I’m not a masochist, Jay.”

“Funny guy.” Jared slicked up a second finger a pressed two in. Jensen took deep breaths and he let the fingers in easier than the last one. He still felt tight, but Jared could push the fingers without Jensen’s face twisting in pain. Jared crooked his fingers to try and find the bundle of nerves that would reduce Jensen to a stammering mess.

Jensen gasped again, but his face sparkled with pleasure rather than pain and Jared knew he found it. “Jared, Jay, oh god, love you, oh god!”

Jared pressed a third finger in faster and found the spot quickly. Jensen squirmed on his fingers and Jared noticed he was hard again. “God, Jay, fuck me now, please.” Jared removed his fingers to put a condom on. He reached for the lube but Jensen caught his hand. “Let me.” He squirted some onto his hand and began to stroke up and down Jared’s cock.

“Jen, you gotta stop or I’m not gonna make it.” Jensen removed his hand and Jared lined himself up with Jensen’s hole. “Ready?” Jensen nodded shakily. “It’s gonna hurt,” Jared warned.

“I know.” Jensen’s voice sounded slightly hesitant. “But I can take it. It’s you. I’d do anything for you.” 

“Emotional after sex, Jen, or I’m gonna start crying.”

“Just fuck me, Jared.” Jensen bit his lip as soon as Jared started to press in. “Slowly, slowly Jared!”

“Oops, sorry.” Jared slowed his movement and inched forward instead of bottoming out quickly. When he was finally all the way inside, he looked at Jensen for permission to move.

“Give me a sec,” Jensen groaned. “Okay. Okay you can move.”

Jared nodded and pulled out quickly before pushing back in. Jensen glared at him. “Not a fucking girl. I’m not gonna break, Jay.”

Jared raised and eyebrow but on the next time Jared made sure to slam in to Jensen and he moaned loudly. “Jen, you feel amazing.”

Jensen writhed and groaned in pleasure. “Oh, oh god, Jared, oh-oh-god-fuck, fuck, fuck!”

Jared moved his cock to hit at a different angle and Jensen almost screamed. Jared knew he found Jensen’s prostate and hit the same place over and over again. “Feel so good, Jen, oh fuck.”

“Gonna—I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come!” Jensen gasped. Jared put a hand on Jensen’s dick and it only took a few strokes for Jensen to buck up and come, moaning and his face twisted up in pleasure.

The sight of Jensen coming was too much for Jared and he let out a loud, “Fuck!” before he came harder than he’d ever come in his life. He always thought people were exaggerated about seeing stars, but Jared knew exactly what they were talking about.

Jared pulled out of Jensen slowly and peeled the condom off. “Feel okay, Jen?” Jensen mumbled something unintelligible. Jared’s brow furrowed. “What?”

“It’s true,” Jensen sighed. “It’s better with someone you love.”

Jared snuggled up to Jensen. “I knew you would be amazing.”

“I just lay there. You did all the work, baby.” Jensen yawned. “Now we can sleep.”

Jensen nestled his head in the crook of Jared’s neck and burrowed into Jared. “Didn’t peg you for a cuddler,” Jared teased, nuzzling Jensen’s neck.

“Shut up.”

Jared chuckled and threw an arm around Jensen before drifting into blissful unconsciousness.

 

 

Jensen woke up with Jared wrapped snugly around him. So what if Jensen’s cuddling with Jared? He’s warm. And cuddle-able. Jensen sighed contentedly. Jensen felt completely safe and happy.

It must be fairly late because bright sunshine streamed into the room. He didn’t want to get up. Not yet. He did think he’d ever felt so wonderful in his life.

He shifted slightly and winced. Jensen didn’t anticipate he’d be so sore. But it was a good kind of sore, the kind of sore that screamed I had sex with my boyfriend last night. Jensen giggled to myself and nuzzled Jared’s neck.

Jared blinked tiredly into consciousness. “Jen?”

“Oops. Didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“S’okay. It’s late anyways.”

“Yeah, but it’s Sunday. It’s okay to sleep in on Sunday.”

Jared combed his fingers through Jensen’s hair and Jensen purred. Jared kept carding his fingers through Jensen’s hair while he place light kisses on Jensen’s collarbone. Jensen was in heaven.

Jared’s stomach growled and he blushed. “Sorry.”

Jensen chuckled. “I forgot we have to feed you.”

“Haha. Get your pretty ass out of bed so we can go eat.”

“Can we cuddle more later?” Jensen asked hopefully. Yes, he sounded like a girl. So what? Jared’s very snuggly.

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “We can cuddle for the rest of the day. I just want some food first.”

“Deal.”  

Jared and Jensen walked down the stairs with their arms around each other. Megan stood at the base of the stairs with a knowing look. “You had gay sex last night,” Megan said bluntly.

“Oh god, I never want to hear my baby sister say that again,” Jared groaned. Megan giggled. “Jensen, there’s someone here for you,” Megan sang.

“Who?”

Mackenzie waved a hand from the couch. “Did you actually sleep with Jared last night?”

Megan answered for them. “They were loud, Mack. Next time they do it at your house.”

“Fine, but then I’m coming over here.”

“Sounds good,” Megan agreed.

Jared pushed Jensen towards the kitchen. “Breakfast time!”

“Ooh, I want breakfast!” Megan chirped.

“Then make your own,” Jared retorted. “Unless you want breakfast Jensen and I made alone in the kitchen.” 

Mack shuddered. “I can cook later,” She told Megan. Jared and Jensen laughed.

When they were alone in the kitchen, Jared lifted Jensen into his arms and Jensen wrapped his legs around Jared’s waist. “Morning.” He dropped Jensen on the counter but kept his arms around Jensen.

“Morning.” Jensen’s hands explored Jared’s torso with gentle hands. “Last night…”

Jared’s eyes widened. “Do you regret it?”

Jensen kissed Jared lovingly. “Not for a second. It was perfect. Especially for a first time.”

“We’re not virgins anymore!” Jared cheered.

“So you did get laid!” A voice said from the edge of the kitchen. “Steve, you totally owe me five bucks.”

Jared and Jensen swiveled to see Steve and Chris leaning against the wall. “Please tell me you didn’t have sex. I don’t want to lose I bet to Chris,” Steve pleaded.

Jensen and Jared exchanged looks. “Sorry, Steve,” Jared finally said.

“You’re too easy,” Steve muttered. He threw five bucks at Chris. “And I hate you.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Chris pocketed the five dollars. “I’m still five bucks richer.”

Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck and hoped the PDA would make Chris and Steve leave. They simply covered their eyes and continued to insult the couple. “You two are so gross,” Chris said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again. Jenny. You. Are. So. Whipped.”

“Ugh, Chris, please shut up.”

Jensen’s phone went off and the screen blinked Danneel at him. “I should have become friends with people that understand privacy.” He answered the call. “Danni?”

“Did you get laid last night?” Danneel screeched.

“Hello to you, too.” Jensen rubbed his ear. “And thank you for successfully damaging my hearing.”

Jensen practically heard Danneel rolling her eyes. “Did you get laid or not, Jensen?”

A voice in the background chirped, “Did he and Jared fuck?”

“Oh, Gen’s there too, good.” Jensen eyed the kitchen like it was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. “And my sex life with Jared remains between me and Jared.”

“They slept together!” Chris yelled. “And I don’t mean just sleeping, I mean-,”

“Thank you, Chris, everyone knows what you mean,” Jensen snapped.

Gen and Danneel squealed in the background. “Yes!! I totally knew it!! You have to give me all the details,” Danneel gushed.

“You know, it disturbs me how interesting the four of you are in my relationship with Jared. If you really want, I can tell you exactly what Jared did to me last night.” Jensen watched Chris and Steve’s expressions morph into horror.

“Don’t! No one wants to know!” Steve said quickly. “Really, it’s like you said. Belongs between you and Jared.”

“Just because Chris and Steve are pussies doesn’t mean you can’t tell us!” Danni whined.

“Goodbye, Danni. Jared and I are going to eat breakfast now.”

“But-,”

Jensen ended the call before she could finish her sentence. “Well that was fun. Now all our friends know we fucked, and we can give Chris and Steve all the juicy details.”

“All the gory details,” Chris muttered. “Steve and I are out of here. We’re going on our own conquest to get laid.”

Jensen let out a breath of relief when they left. He turned to Jared, but the other boy focused intensely on the stove. “Jay? What’s up?”

“Nothing.”

Jensen slid his arms around Jared’s waist, chest pressed against Jared’s back. “Tell me, baby.”

“It’s just—you said we fucked.”

Jensen was confused. “We did.”

Jared turned in Jensen’s embrace. “Doesn’t that sound a little impersonal to you?”

Oh. He pulled Jared down for a kiss and just barely pulled away to murmur, “Baby, we made love. And we’ll do it many, many more times.”

“So it’s not just sex?”

Jensen grinned. “As amazing as you are in bed, there are other appealing things about you too.”

Jared sighed. “I need to stop freaking out.”

“S’okay. It’s cute.”

Jared smirked. “Almost as cute as your jealousy.”

“I am not cute!”

“So are.”

“I hate you. Asshole.”

“Fuck you.”

Jensen kissed his nose. “You already did.” Jensen bit back a laugh at Jared’s deep blush.

Jensen snuggled back into Jared’s arms. “You promised we could cuddle after breakfast.”

“We haven’t eaten breakfast yet,” Jared pointed out.

“Because you’re a lazy ass who’d rather laugh at my friends harassing me rather than make breakfast.”

“Oh, so I’m supposed to do all the work now?”

Jensen kissed him. “You make a beautiful housewife.”  

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “You’re the one that wants to cuddle.”

Jensen blushed. “Just with you,” Jensen mumbled.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

Jensen glared at Jared. “I only like cuddling with you.”

“That’s what I thought you said.” Jared sucked on Jensen’s soft earlobe and nuzzled the sensitive spot behind his ear. He kissed the skin and sighed. “It’s okay. I like cuddling with you, too.”

“If you ever call me little spoon, I’ll kick your ass.”  

Jared chuckled. “Alright. Now let’s make breakfast.”

Jensen wound himself tighter in Jared’s arms in response.

Chapter Text

Jensen and Jared squished together on Jensen’s bed. Mack decided to stay at the Padalecki’s house after making crude hand signals that indicated exactly what she assumed Jared and Jensen would be doing at Jensen’s house. Jensen wished he had a camera to catch Jared’s bright blush.

Jared drew figure eights on Jensen’s stomach, making goosebumps rise on his skin and his breath hitch. Jensen didn’t think he’d ever get tired of Jared’s fingers mapping out his body.

“On your stomach,” Jared murmured. Jensen glanced questioningly at him but rolled over. Jared straddled Jensen’s hips.

“What’re you doing? Jar—oh, wow,” Jensen sighed. His head dropped onto the pillow and let out an embarrassingly loud moan.

“Feel good?” Jared asked.

“Better than sex,” Jensen replied. The feeling of Jared’s hands kneading out the knots in his back was heaven. Muscles he didn’t know ached relaxed under Jared’s touch. Occasionally Jared massaged a exceptionally tense knot and Jensen groaned. “God, so much better than sex.”

Jared laughed and Jensen felt the vibrations. “Better practice on our sex more. Gotta improve, right Jen? Don’t want you thinking I’m not good.”

“Jay, you’re amazing in bed. But this—god, if I knew you could massage like this I’d have shoved you in my bed a long time ago.” He snuggled into the bed. “Either way, it’s your hands. It’s you. Drive me fucking crazy, man.” Jensen shivered when Jared’s lips kissed a trail down his spine.

“You have no idea what you do to me,” Jared murmured.

Jensen pressed up against Jared’s crotch and felt the hard line of Jared’s dick. “I know a little bit.”

Jared smacked Jensen’s ass. “Smartass.”

“You love me.”

“I do,” Jared replied easily. “I really, really do.”

“Sap,” Jensen snorted. Jared pinched his side, hard. “Ow!”

“Try and be romantic and you throw it in my face.”

“That’s me, Jensen Ackles, anti-romance and pro-sarcasm.”

“Also the guy that left Prom to be with me and that climbed the tree in an effort to impress me. Anti-romance my ass.”

Jensen tried to come up with a witty response but Jared’s hands massaging his shoulders prevented him from doing anything but moaning loudly. Jared, thankfully, didn’t mock him and focused on working out the kinks in Jensen’s shoulders and neck. “I love you,” Jensen said.

“Only cuz I’m good in bed,” Jared joked. Jensen heard the insecurity under the teasing tone and Jensen flipped onto his back. He opted out of speaking and kissed Jared soundly instead.

After all, actions speak louder than words.

 *****

 Jared watched Jensen with a raised eyebrow. His boyfriend insisted on making dinner since Jared had made them breakfast and so far Jensen had only really read the instructions while staring confusedly at pots and pans.

“Jen, it’s okay if we just order pizza or something,” Jared suggested.

“That’s the third time you’ve offered,” Jensen growled. “I can do this.”

“I know. I have complete confidence in you,” Jared lied.

“I can see right through you, Padalecki. What kind of boyfriend are you if you don’t support me unconditionally?”

“The kind that would rather not have his boyfriend’s house burnt down.” Jared sighed. “Really, Jen, I’m not gonna stop loving you because you didn’t make dinner.”

“This is a pride thing,” Jensen grunted. “I need to prove my manliness.”

“Because cooking is so manly,” Jared teased.

“A real man can cook and be proud of it,” Jensen shot back.

“Not what you said this morning,” Jared pointed out. “You called me a housewife.”

“Dude. You were wearing an apron. With cupcakes on it!”

“A real man can wear an apron and be proud of it,” Jared mimicking Jensen’s words.

“You’re an asshole,” Jensen said without any heat. He let out a long sigh. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Laughter bubbled out from Jared’s mouth and soon he was doubled up and tears of laughter streamed from his eyes. Jensen tried to glower at him, but Jared saw the way his lips twitched up in a smile. After a few seconds, Jensen caved and he joined Jared in cackling.

“What’s so funny?” Donna’s amused voice appeared from the edge of the huge kitchen.

“Jensen’s—trying—to cook,” Jared choked out through giggles.

“Shut…up…” Jensen panted. He wiped his eyes and presented the cookbook to his mother. “I don’t know what to do.”

Donna sighed. “Get out of the kitchen. Both of you.” She shooed them away and the two teenagers stumbled on their own feet in the efforts to leave the chrome furnished kitchen.

“Your mom’s awesome,” Jared told Jensen. Jensen smiled fondly at the kitchen.

“Yeah, she’s pretty cool.”

Jared’s heard flooded with love for the man in front of him. He developed a relationship with his mom and sister and stood up for what he loved to his dad. Jared felt himself getting choked up and wiped at his eyes.

Warm arms wrapped around Jared. “You okay?”

Jared snuggled into Jensen’s embrace. “I really am. Just sort of overwhelmed.”

Jensen kissed and sucked on Jared’s neck. “I can imagine. I can relate,” Jensen corrected. “It’s a lot.”

Jared tightened his arms around Jensen. “We’re graduating next week. What are we supposed to do when I’m at Stanford and you’re here? What happens then?”

Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck. “We figure it out. Are you looking to leave me?”

“What? No, of course n-,”

“Then shut up. Because I sure as hell am not losing you without a fight. Yeah, we’ll be apart. But that’s okay because I love you and you love me.”  

Jared let out a deep breath. It shocked Jared how much he relied on Jensen. And the butterflies that fluttered in his stomach reminded him that Jensen relied on Jared, too.

“We’re going to be okay,” Jared said. “We’ll be okay,” he repeated and smiled when he realized that he meant it.

“Yeah, Jay,” Jensen agreed. “We’ll be okay.”

 

After Jared had stifled the urge to break down in his boyfriend’s arms, Jensen led them towards the kitchen. “Momma, is there food?” Jensen asked.

Jared laughed at Donna’s exasperated expression. “If by food you mean did I cook for you because you’re obviously incapable of doing it yourself, then yes, there is food.”

“Yay!” Jensen jumped onto the counter.

“Off the counter,” Donna chided. “You’re not a child.”

“Heathen,” Jared teased.  

“Asshole.”

“Language, Jensen,” Donna scolded half-heartedly.

“Sorry, Momma.”

Donna heaped pasta onto both boys’ plates. “I haven’t forgotten all my cooking.”

Jared moaned around a bite of pasta. “It’s amazing, Mrs. Ackles.”

“Call me Donna.”

“Mom, this is awesome,” Jensen agreed. Donna glowed under the praise and Jared hid his smile around a large bite of pasta. Apparently he didn’t conceal it well enough because Jensen elbowed him and grinned.

There was a soft twinkle in Jensen’s eye and Jared remembered what he said about family dinners. This must be the first time in years Jensen sat down and ate dinner with his mom. Jared mentally noted to cuddle with Jensen later tonight, and then blushed at the thought. Some guys daydreamed about sex. Jared thought about cuddling.

Whatever, Jensen thought about it too. He wasn’t very subtle in his attempts to curl up next to Jared or find his way underneath his arm.  Jared played along with it; he worried if he made fun of Jensen he’d stop.

“Hey, where’s your brain gone?” Jensen asked softly.

Jensen’s voice jolted Jared out of his head. “Nowhere. Just thinking.”

“Don’t hurt yourself,” Jensen teased. Jared heard what he was saying. Stop worrying.

“Yeah, okay.”

Jensen shifted uncomfortably on the barstool and it was only then Jared realized Donna had exited the kitchen. “Jen?”

Jensen’s eyes met Jared’s gaze, then flicked to his lips and back. “Yeah?”

“Do you want to…”

“We can’t have sex with my mom in the house,” Jensen interrupted.

“Does your brain always go straight to sex?” Jared asked with an exasperated look.

“Doesn’t yours?”

Jared shoved him lightly. “No. Did you get hit on the head as a kid?”

“No, but I did in the football game on Friday,” Jensen pointed out.

“There’s only so long you can use the concussion thing to drag sympathy out of me.” Jared scraped the last bit of pasta into his mouth.

Jensen pouted. “How much longer do I have?”

“Approximately 12 hours,” Jared deadpanned. “Right around the time I have to drag your ass to school the timer stops for sympathy.”

“Why?” Jensen whined. “You’re my boyfriend. Endless sympathy is in the job description!”

“I didn’t read the fine print,” Jared drawled. “You’ve got twelve hours to bask in my endless sympathy.” Jared hauled Jensen to his feet and Jensen’s arms automatically went around Jared’s neck. “So, Jen. What are you going to do with my 12 hours of sympathy?”

Jensen grinned at Jared and yanked him down into a forceful kiss. “I’ll use my imagination.”

 *****

12 hours later found Jensen snuggled up tightly against Jared in Jensen’s small bed. It was hardly big enough for Jensen or Jared, much less Jensen and Jared. Jensen enjoyed the closeness of the situation and burrowed his head in Jared’s neck. He inhaled the scent of Jared, sweet and strong, like freshly cut grass and campfires and sunshine.

“Are you smelling me?” Jared murmured without opening his eyes.

“No,” Jensen lied. “Just resting with you.”

“Resting on me,” Jared clarified. He eyed the clock. “And it’s time we got up.”

“Fucking 6 am on a Monday, cut me some slack,” Jensen groaned.

“I told you 12 hours. Time’s up, baby. Get up for school.”

“No thanks.” Jensen snuggled back into the blankets.

“Jen.” Jared turned his puppy dog eyes on his boyfriend. Jensen caved every time and Jared knew it. Jensen hated him a little bit for it.

“Jay,” Jensen moaned. “Please don’t make me get up.”

Jared rolled out of bed and yanked the covers off. Jensen shivered. “God, that’s a dick move,” Jensen muttered. “Pulling off the covers.”

“Cry me a river,” Jared replied.

“Kiss me first.”

“You get your lazy ass out of bed and I’ll kiss you as much as you want, how’s that?” Jared countered.

Jensen glared at him but followed Jared out of bed. “Happy?”

Jared leaned in and kissed Jensen. “Now all that’s left is to get dressed. Unless you want to go to school like this,” Jared pulled on the waistband of Jensen’s boxers, “which I would have no problem with, by the way.”

“Aside from the fact that everyone could see me, not just you.”

“Nope,” Jared purred. “I want everyone to see exactly what I’m lucky enough to be with.”

Jensen rolled his eyes and pulled a pair of jeans on. “You wanna borrow a shirt?” Jensen asked him. “Considering all your clothes are at your house.”

“Yeah, sure.” Jared put on the shirt Jensen offered him and Jensen’s throat went dry. The shirt was too small and too tight, revealing the lines of Jared’s defined muscles.

“Think everyone will see you anyways,” Jensen finally said, and ran his hand down Jared’s chest.

“Well as long as you don’t let the green-eyed monster take over you, I think we’ll be okay,” Jared teased.

“I am not that jealous!” Jensen protested. “And you’re gay, so what use will girls be running their hands all over you be?”

“Well,” Jared put his hands on Jensen’s waist and tugged him closer. “They’ll get to touch what’s yours. Feel all the muscle that belongs to you; that won’t drive you insane with jealousy?”

Jensen glared at him. “I have the sinking suspicion you want me to get jealous.”

Jared shrugged. “It’s kind of hot. I’m not going to deny that.”

“Well fine,” Jensen sighed. “I will allow my jealous streak to get the best of me because you find it kind of hot.” He pressed his lips against Jared’s neck so he could feel Jensen’s mouth move. “As long as I get to take you home and rip the shirt off you.”

“Promise.”

Jensen kissed him and slid to his knees. “I think there’s one other place I want to get my mouth on.” He slid Jared’s jeans down. “Think I have time?”

“You’re gonna be the death of me, Ackles,” Jared moaned as Jensen took his dick into his mouth.

Jensen hummed around it and Jared closed his eyes and tried to keep silent while Jensen gave him the best blowjob of his life.

 

Jensen grinned against Jared’s neck and patted him on the chest after Jared came. He was flushed and panting for breath while Jensen looked calm and collected as always. “Let’s go get breakfast to calm that insatiable stomach of yours.”

“I’m a growing boy; I need my food.” Jared still tried to regain his breath.

“Yeah, yeah.”

They wandered downstairs slowly. “Last Monday of our high school career,” Jared pointed out.

“Makes us sound old,” Jensen said.

“We are.” Jared ran a hand down the banister. “We have college and future and-,”

“Please stop talking,” Jensen said, “I can’t even think about tomorrow, much less college and future and god knows what is going to happen.”

Jared wrapped an arm around Jensen’s shoulders and he melted into the warmth of Jared’s body. “Well I’ll be there. And I can do the thinking for the both of us.”

“Knew it was a smart idea to date a smart guy.”

“I knew you only loved me for my brain.”

“You’re smart and good-looking, what else could I ask for?”

Jared snickered. “Jerk.”

“Bitch.” Jensen grinned at his mother waiting in the kitchen. “Did you make breakfast?”

“It’s toast, nothing special,” Donna said humbly. Jensen beamed at his mother regardless.

“Well, it’s more than what we made,” Jared pointed out.

“I thought you needed some time alone,” Donna said. Her tone indicated exactly what she thought the two of them were doing.

“Mom! We were just getting dressed!” Jensen exclaimed.

“In the same room?” Donna said with a raised eyebrow.

Jensen and Jared blushed. “It’s not like we did anything,” Jared mumbled. Donna just smiled knowingly and left the room.

“Let’s eat quickly,” Jensen suggested. “I’d rather not be around my mom when she thinks we’re doing… stuff.”

“Stuff. What an eloquent way of putting what we’re dong.”

Jensen rolled his eyes. “Because you’d prefer I’d say we’re fucking? Or making love? Let my mom hear about the amazing blowjob I gave you? In front of my mother?”

“I can hear you!” Donna yelled from the other room.

Jensen turned fire engine red. “Let’s go to school. Like, now.” He pushed Jared toward the door. "I have to move out of the house."

“Let's just leave before things get even more awkward.”

The two boys jogged out of the house before Donna heard anything else.

 

“So, I sufficiently embarrassed myself in front of my mother today,” Jensen told Danni in history. Edlund had assigned them a project to do in class while he sat at his desk and finished grading papers. Jensen knew Edlund was aware that none of the students were actually doing the work.

“How’d you do that?” Danneel asked.

“She overheard my talking about my sex life with Jared. Loudly and uncensored.”

“Well, obviously you can’t go home,” Danni said.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look my mom in the eye again,” Jensen said glumly. “She heard me talking about blowing Jared!”

Danni cackled. “Really?”

“I’m glad my humiliation brings you amusement.” Jensen doodled music notes on a piece of notebook paper. “It’s my ultimate goal in life.”

“Oh, don’t be such a baby,” Danni retorted. “It’s not that bad.”

“Did you not hear me? She heard me talking about sucking Jared’s cock! Next up would have been how he fucked me so hard I could barely walk the next day.”

“Volume check, Jenny!” Steve called from across the classroom.

“Alright,” Jensen said and clapped his hands. “Time to move to another state.”

 ******** 

Jared bit back a laugh while he listened to Jensen describing the embarrassing conversation with Donna to Danneel. He decided not to mention most of the class, maybe even Edlund, could also hear. Steve finally told Jensen he was being too loud, and that seemed to be when Jensen became mortified. Jared giggled and the thud of Jensen’s head hitting the desk.

A piece of paper hit the back of his head and Jared read in Jensen’s familiar scratchy handwriting, thanks for telling me half the class could hear, jackass.

Jared laughed and hoped that was reply enough for Jensen.

 

Jensen glowered at Jared when he sat down for lunch beside him. Jared smirked. “Still mad?”

“The whole class, Jared. Everyone.”

“If it makes you feel better, they also heard it was my dick you sucked.”

“No, it doesn’t make me feel better. I should have told them you blew me first.”

“Such a considerate boyfriend,” Jared said sarcastically. “I much appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.”

Chris sat down across from them with a smug look on his face. “How was history, Jenny?”

“You heard?”

“Steve told me as soon as he saw me,” Chris explained. “And I couldn’t stop laughing all through fourth period. Did your mom really hear all that? And Edlund?”

“Chris, I hate you.” Jensen glanced at Steve. “How many people did you tell?”

“Anyone who would listen,” Steve replied. “And there were a lot of people that wanted to listen.”

“Forget moving to a different state. I’m moving to a different country.”

“Oh, you big baby,” Gen echoed Danni’s words from earlier. “If anything, people are going to be jealous of Jared. No one’s laughing at you.”

“Chris and Steve are!”

Gen rolled her eyes. “Chris and Steve laugh at everyone. Their brains stopped developing after age 13. After all these years, you still take them seriously.”

“Yeah, well Jensen’s brain stopped developing around 14. They’re all in the same boat, Gen,” Danni pointed out. “God knows how Jared puts up with his stupid ass.”

“Jared loves me,” Jensen said smugly.

“And here I was thinking he was smart,” Gen said with a wink.

“Ha, ha.” Jensen flicked a piece of lettuce at her.

“Very mature, Jensen, very mature.”

“I feel like a babysitter, not a boyfriend,” Jared told Gen.

“I need new friends. I just get ganged up on.”

“You’re going to have to put up with all his whining for the rest of your relationship,” Danni said to Jared. “Just remember that.”

Jared threw an arm around Jensen. “Wouldn’t trade him for anything.”

Jensen blushed and buried his head in Jared’s neck. Jared chuckled when the others cooed at him and Jensen flipped them off without removing his head. “You’re just jealous,” Jensen snapped. His voice was muffled by Jared’s shoulder.

“Jealous you got Jared before I could,” Gen replied.

“He’s gay; not like you had much of a change to begin with,” Steve pointed out. “He only has eyes for Jensen.”

“Well he’s very pretty, can you blame me?” Jared ran his fingers through Jensen’s hair.

“I’m not pretty. Or adorable,” Jensen added as an afterthought.

“You are a little adorable.”

“We’re so over.”

Jared’s laugh bubbled up and he felt Jensen smile against his neck. “Do I have to send you flowers to win you back?”

“No, because that would make me the girl,” Jensen answered. “And I’m definitely not the girl.”

“Well you did suck Jared’s cock…” Steve added.

Jensen stormed away from their raucous laughter.

 ******

Jensen and Chris passed notes in science. Mr. Manners had placed them across the room from each other in an effort to prevent the two boys from being a distraction to each other. Mr. Manners also spent most of class facing the board so he never noticed the pieces of paper flying across the room from Jensen to Chris.

Chris and Jensen perfected the art of note passing a few weeks into the school year. Being football players, their throwing was mostly dead on, and they always faced the board even as they threw it. Once and a while it would hit someone’s head but the other students quickly adjusted to Jensen and Chris’ method of communication.

Chris’ messages today were composed of various ways he believed Jensen and Jared behaved in the bedroom, while Jensen came up with different and creative ways he could kill Chris.

In retrospect, they weren’t the most mature messages in the world.

They were teenage boys, what else could they possibly talk about? Eventually Jensen mentioned that Chris had an odd interest in gay sex and the messages became milder.

Jensen tried to ignore the little nagging voice in his head that had been pestering him since this morning. One more week. It echoed over and over again in Jensen’s head. Jared would be going to Stanford and Jensen… he would be here. Waiting and hoping that Jared wouldn’t meet someone at Stanford. Someone better, smarter, kinder, more deserving of Jared’s endless love. Jared spoke about their future but Jensen didn’t know if he was in the cards for Jared. He prayed and prayed that Jared wouldn’t wake up one day and realize Jensen was a total mistake.

Jensen knew Jared had the same fears about Jensen. He tried to persuade Jared there was nothing in the world that could make him leave Jared. He wanted to beat his head against the wall. They were both terrified to be in this relationship, terrified that their hearts wouldn’t be able to take it if it ended.

Jensen let out a deep breath and told the little voice in his head to shut the hell up. Jared could think about the future all he wanted; Jensen wanted to focus where he was right now with Jared. Jared dreamt of an amazing future, and Jensen dreamt of Jared. 

Chapter Text

 

“Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god.”

“Will you relax? You stressing out is stressing me out!”

“Oh, sorry, I would really hate to make you nervous, baby.”

“Jensen, seriously, shut the hell up before I punch you in the face.”

“Danni!”

“She’s right, Jen.”

“And my own boyfriend is siding against me.” Jensen flopped down on the couch. “I guess I deserve it.”

“Sarcasm is a horrible defense method,” Danneel pointed out. “You’re going to drive everyone up the wall. You think it’s a coincidence Chris and Steve bailed?”

“Those bastards,” Jensen muttered.

Jared sat beside Jensen and wrapped an arm around him. “You know, it’s not that big of a deal.”

“Not that big of a deal?” Jensen squeaked. “It’s our graduation. And then it’s college and it’s all over.”

Danni’s eyebrows crinkled. “What exactly is ‘over’, Jensen?”

Jensen kicked the ground. “You know…”

“Jennybean, I don’t know,” Danni replied. Jared knew something was wrong when Jensen didn’t bother snapping at her for using the nickname.

“I know,” Jared realized. “Us. You think we’re going to end.”

“You’re not going to!” Danneel protested.

Jared shook his head. “Not just me and Jensen, Danni. He thinks that all of us, all of the friendships, it’s just going to vanish.”

Danneel’s eyes flicked back to Jensen. “Jennybean, you know that’s not true. We’ve been friends since we knew what the word meant. Chris, you, me, Steve, Gen, Jared—it’s all of us, forever.” She smirked. “Thought you realized that when we made friendship bracelets.”

“You made a friendship bracelet?” Jared repeated.

Jensen blushed. “We all did. All five of us.” Jensen pulled up his pant leg to reveal a faded but colorful rope bracelet. “We promised to keep them forever.”

“Because as long as we had the bracelets, we would be friends,” Danneel explained. She pushed up her sleeve to reveal her own bracelet.

“Does Tom have one?” Jared asked. He regretted it from the dark look that clouded Jensen’s face. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay.  And no,” he said stiffly. “We made the bracelets when we were young. Tom didn’t show up until we were teenagers.”

Danni tugged on her bracelet in such an absentmindedly way Jared wondered if she even knew she was doing it. “It’s a reminder.” She put her hand on Jensen’s knee. “And we’re not going to break up, Jennybean. You have to trust that. Trust us.”

“I do trust you,” Jensen exclaimed indignantly. “I just don’t trust… hell, I don’t know.”

“You worry about everything,” Jared said. “Just let go.”

“You think about the future more than me!”

“Well every time you think about the future you panic!”

“I do not panic,” Jensen grumbled.

“You remind me a little of a petulant child,” Danni said mildly, picking at her nails. “I should get a manicure before graduation,” She mused to herself.

“Well I wouldn’t know, now would I?” Jensen drawled.

“Mr. Sarcasm, I don’t need to be here, you know. I can just as easily spend time with Gen rather than you and your bitchy little self. Surprised Jared’s still here as it is.”

“Danni…” Jared said tiredly. “We’re all a little stressed right now. And it’s getting to us. We’re going to be short with each other. Doesn’t mean Jensen doesn’t love you and everyone else. He’s just pressured.”

Danni looked at Jensen with a fond expression. “Hell of a boyfriend you’ve got there, Ackles. I’d hold onto him if I was you.”

“Yeah,” Jensen agreed. “I think I’ll do that.”

Danni clapped. “So, I’m going to go to a less hormonal atmosphere. See you guys at school, okay?”

“Bye, Danni!”

Jensen just grunted and Jared slapped his arm. “Don’t hit me!” Jensen protested.

“Don’t be a prick then!”

“I am not a prick!” Jensen protested. “I’m just a little stressed.”

Jared pulled Jensen closer. “Sounds like you’re a lot stressed.”

Jensen exhaled loudly. Jared pressed his lips against Jensen’s and swallowed the breath. “I love you so much,” Jensen murmured. “I really like living in this little bubble.” He buried his face in Jared’s neck. “I don’t want you to go to Stanford. God, how much I don’t want that. I don’t want you to leave,” Jensen said in a small voice.

Jared thought for a moment he’d give up Stanford, college be damned, and stay here with Jensen. His through clogged up when he tried to find words. “Jen…”

“I know,” Jensen said sadly, “I know you can’t give that up. I’d never ask you to. I just don’t know how to live without you.” He laughed humorlessly. “You broke me.”

Jared frowned. “Sounds a big negative.”

Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck. “Didn’t mean it in a bad way. Maybe I was always broken, and now you fixed me, and if you leave me I’m going to break all over again.”

“Why would I want to break you?”

“I dunno, you’ll find someone better than me.”

Jared clutched his boyfriend tightly against his chest. “You keep saying things like that and I’m going to break down in the middle of your room.”

“Sorry,” Jensen mumbled. He brightened and removed his head from Jared’s neck. “What if I don’t go to college? And I go out to California and find a job or something?”

“I’d strangle you,” Jared snapped. “You worked your butt of these past weeks and you’re not throwing it away for me.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to get through this without you,” Jensen admitted. “I’m going to-,”

“Stop,” Jared scolded. “We have phones and Skype and email and all sorts of ways we can keep in contact. And I’ll come home from holidays, and maybe you can fly out to California one weekend. No more negative talk. It makes me think you don’t want things to work out between us.”

“Of course I do!” Jensen exclaimed.

“Then shut the hell up and kiss me before I punch you.”

“So romantic,” Jensen muttered before leaning up to kiss Jared soundly.

“Man, I really must be the most patient person ever to put up with you. Most sarcastic person I’ve ever met,” Jared teased. Jensen retaliated by tickling Jared. “Stop!” Jared giggled. “Jen!”

“Apologize,” Jensen demanded.

“Fine! I’m sorry!” Jared choked out.

“Say that you love me!” Jensen sing-songed.

“I love you!” Jared cried. Jensen stopped and sat back on his haunches.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it?”

“Don’t tickle me,” Jared snapped.

“Can I do this?” Jensen asked.

“Do wh—oh, god, yes you can do that,” Jared moaned. Jensen was sucking a hickey on his neck at the same time he slid his hand down Jared’s pants.

“No underwear, Jay?” Jensen noticed. Jared blushed but Jensen smirked. “You have no idea how hot that is.”

Jared felt like blushing, but Jensen’s hand wrapped around his dick and the only thoughts going through Jared’s head were good, nice, more, Jensen, god. It took a moment to realize Jared was stammering the words out loud.

Jensen did a twisting thing with his hand and Jared bucked up. “I’m gonna come, Jen, so close, god!”

Jensen removed his hand and Jared battled between crying and yelling at Jensen to keep going. “Why’d you stop?” Jared whined.

Jensen leaned down and fastened his lips against Jared’s at the same time he moved to slide Jared’s pants down. Jared took the hint and lifted his hips. His dick bounced up, relieved to be free, and before Jared knew what was happening Jensen’s lips were around the head. Jared groaned embarrassingly loud. Jensen winked up at him from the base of Jared’s cock and took him deeper. Jared felt like crying it was so good.

Jensen’s tongue flicked across the bottom and licked at any surface on Jared’s dick it could find. Jensen bobbed up and down and made sure his tongue always skimmed across the ultra sensitive head. “Jen—I’m gonna—gonna-,” Jared sobbed. Jensen slid down Jared’s dick in time to catch Jared’s release. He swallowed it all down and then licked Jared’s softening dick clean.

“Have I mentioned I love you?” Jared said sleepily, “Because I do. A lot.”

Jensen smirked. “Nice to hear.”

Jared blinked the exhaustion from his eyes and said, “I should…” He gestured to Jensen’s crotch.

It was Jensen’s turn to blush. “Um, I don’t…” He trailed off and Jared noticed the wet stain at the front of Jensen’s jeans. Jared smirked and Jensen snapped, “You’re really hot when you come, okay?”

“Getting me off gets you off?” Jared said. Jensen blushed and snuggled into Jared to hide his face.

“Shut up.”

Jared sighed and carded his fingers through Jensen’s hair. “Wanna take a nap?”

“So badly.” Jensen burrowed deeper into Jared. “We should really be on the bed. Couch isn’t big enough.”

“Uh hm,” Jared sighed. He put an arm around Jensen and drifted into blissful sleep.

 ***** 

When Jensen opened his eyes again, it was dark. Not dark to the point of the middle of the night, but the sky was a light blue and pink that only appeared when the sun was barely visible. He glanced at the clock and found that it was 9:00. “Wow.”

Jared shifted in his sleep and then his eyes opened. “Time’s it?”

“9. We slept for 5 hours, dude. Not much of a nap.”

 “It was awesome,” Jared slurred. “Best nap ever.”

Jensen patted Jared’s chest. “Well, you are the best pillow ever.”

“Can we sleep more, Jen?”

“You don’t want dinner? Or you know, go home?”

“Don’t want me here?” Jared asked. His tone was mournful at big puppy dog eyes looked up at him.

“I really can’t deny you anything,” Jensen muttered. He struggled to sit up and pulled Jared with him. “But we really should have dinner. Even if it is a really, really late dinner.”

Jared yawned and stretched, revealing a line of tan skin. Jensen ran his fingers across it lightly and Jared squirmed. “Don’t.”  

Jensen smirked. “Sorry.” He poked Jared’s stomach again and hopped to his feet. “I’ll go make some sandwiches. Peanut butter okay?”

Jared nodded and nestled back into the couch. “Sounds good.”

Jensen shook his head with a smile and made for the kitchen. Mack, surprisingly, was sitting at the table doing homework. “Shouldn’t you be in bed?”

“Shouldn’t you be in bed, fucking Jared?” Mack shot back.

“Oh my god, please never say that again. I really don’t want my baby sister thinking about my sex life.”

Mack shrugged. “Jared’s hot as hell. I may not be imagining you in bed with him-,”

“Mack. Please. I’m so disturbed right now it’s not even funny.”

Mack cackled and gathered up her homework. “I was just down here to bug you. Mission accomplished. I’m gonna go to bed.”

Jensen waved her off before shuffling through the cabinets to find sandwich-making supplies. It was strangely therapeutic to make the sandwiches, going through the motions to make the dinner he’d eaten so many times before. More peanut butter, less jelly, because that’s the only real way you should eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

He put the two sandwiches on plates and grabbed a bag of chips in case Jared was still hungry after the sandwich. It wouldn’t surprise Jensen; Jared was like a human vacuum cleaner when it came to food.

Jared’s sweet hazel eyes lit up when Jensen entered the room bearing food. “Dinner!”

“A really, really, late dinner,” Jensen corrected. He handed one of the sandwiches to Jared. “Hope you like it. If you don’t, shut up and pretend to like it.”

Jared grinned at him and through a mouthful of sandwich he mumbled, “’S good.”

“That’s what I thought,” Jensen said. He sat on the floor and leaned his head against Jared’s arm, seeing as Jared monopolized the couch.

“Jensen?”

“Hm?”

“We’re going to be okay, you know that. Even if we were continents apart, we would make it work.”

Jensen nodded automatically. “I know.”

“Sometimes I don’t think you do,” Jared replied.

Jensen was quiet until he heard Jared’s breathing level out. “I know you think I don’t. I know you think I’ve given up. But I haven’t, I promise.” Jensen kissed the forehead of his sleeping boyfriend. “I promise.”

 *****

Jared woke up to the sound of a loud clap. Jensen was sitting on the edge of the couch with a huge grin. “I have an idea.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Is it a good idea?”

Jensen snorted. “What ideas of mine aren’t good?” Jared raised an eyebrow and Jensen punched him. “Shut up.”

“You gonna tell me what this brilliant idea is or do I have to guess?”

Jensen bounced up and down excitedly. “We’re going on a date.”

“A date,” Jared repeated. “You want to go out on a date.”

“Yes!” Jensen insisted. “Come on, the sex and the sitting at home with movies is great, but we need to go out like a real couple. Dinner, a movie, the whole nine yards.”

“I dunno, I mean, it’s a school night and with graduation coming up-,”

Jensen cut him off. “None of the teachers are doing a damn thing in class anymore. It’s graduation. We hang out, pretend to do work, and then anxiously await the end of our lives.”

“You drama queen,” Jared said fondly.

“Is that a yes?”

“I dunno,” Jared teased. “You haven’t exactly asked me.”

Jensen smirked. “Jared Padalecki, the amazing guy I’m irrevocably in love with, would you go on a date with me?”

“Kiss ass,” Jared muttered and leaned in to kiss his boyfriend. “And yes.”

 

Jensen declared they were going out to lunch as their date. Jared pointed out they’d miss at least 5th period and Jensen waved him off like it was the most trivial detail. “Like I said, baby, no one is expecting anything from us anymore.”

“Just because you’re a slacker doesn’t mean I am.”

“You wound me,” Jensen said sarcastically. “And we’re going out for lunch.”

 

Jensen chose a little café as their date location. It was slightly full due to the fact that it was lunchtime, but Jensen snagged a table and waited for their server to take their order. Jared scanned his menu and decided to go with something simple. Jensen chattered away about how much better his wrist felt and he was so sure his concussion was fading away. Jared still didn’t understand how Jensen could be so flippant about his health.

“What do you think?” Jensen asked him.

“Huh?” Jared bit his lip. “Sorry, I wan’t listening.”

“I said we should go on vacation when school ends. You, me, Gen, Danni, Steve, Chris—It’d be so much fun!”

“Where would we go?” Jared asked. “We’re all adults, but I don’t know if we can afford tickets to Hawaii.”

Jensen frowned. “There’s gotta be something. I’ll think about it.”

“Not easily deterred, are you?”

Jensen smirked proudly. “Not at all.”

Their server took that time to approach the table. He flashed his smile and said, “Hi, I’m Katie and I’ll be your server today.” She glanced at Jensen and her smile became a leer. “Can I start you off with something to drink?” She spoke to both of them, but her eyes were on Jensen.

“Just a Coke,” Jensen replied. “Jay?”

“’M good with water,” Jared mumbled. Jensen raised an eyebrow but Jared shook his head. Relief crashed over him when Katie sauntered away. She clearly wanted Jensen’s eyes to follow her and satisfaction joined relief when Jensen’s eyes didn’t waver from Jared’s face.  

“So seriously. I want to spend as much time with you guys until everyone heads to different corners of the country.”

“Don’t be such a baby,” Jared said. “Chris’ school is only an hour drive from yours. And mine…”

“Yours is halfway across the country,” Jensen pointed out glumly. “The others I’ll miss—but you? You, I’ll go out of my mind not seeing.”

Katie arrived with their drinks. She plopped a glass of water next to Jared and the Coke next to Jensen, leaning over and giving Jensen a clear look at her cleavage. Jensen only smiled politely and Katie frowned slightly.

“Can I take your orders or do you need a moment?” Katie asked. This time her overly flirtatious voice was directed at Jensen. Her body was angled so Jared had to lean over to see Jensen.

Jensen smiled up at her and Jared wondered if he even recognized that she was flirting with him. “I’ll have a burger, thanks.”

She giggled. “Anything, sweetheart.” Her voice dulled when she asked Jared, “and you?”

“The same,” Jared replied just as coolly.

When she wandered off Jensen gave him a strange look. “What’s up with you?”

“What are you talking about?”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “The waitress never did anything to you,” Jensen said.

Except flirt with my boyfriend. “Whatever.”

Jensen frowned but dropped the subject. “So what’s going on in your life, baby?”

“You know everything, we’ve basically be together every day,” Jared snapped. He regretted his tone when Jensen’s brow furrowed.

Katie brought their food and Jensen spent more time smiling at her that he did at Jared. Jared supposed he deserved it. It didn’t stifle the rapid jealousy building up inside him every time Katie wrung a smile out of Jensen.

At the end of lunch Jensen paid quickly and Jared jogged at his heels. “Well,” Jared finally said, “I think we can agree that was a horrible first date.” Jared meant for it to sound teasing, but from the look on Jensen’s face it was far from joking.

“Yeah,” Jensen agreed. “Let’s not do it again.

He got in the car and slammed the door.

 *******

Jensen stayed the night again. They were doing their homework in silence and Jensen fell asleep on the floor around midnight. Jared watched him for a little bit, admiring how the soft desk lamp light made Jensen’s hair glow blonder. Jared snuggled up next to him and let his eyes slip shut.

 

Jensen wasn’t lying in the bed when Jared woke up. Jensen scanned the room and noticed the little yellow sticky note where Jensen’s head previously was.

Jay

Gone home to change and make sure my parents know I’m alive. Going to go in early, can’t give you a ride to school. See you in history.

Jensen

Jensen didn’t even wake him to say goodbye. He didn’t even end his note in ‘love’. Jared couldn’t believe Jensen had untangled himself from Jensen and left so quietly Jared had slept through it. Maybe he was mad at Jared. For whatever reason, Jared didn’t know. Had he said something that upset Jensen?

Well, there was the screwed up date. But that couldn’t be it. Jensen was over it.

Jared yawned and picked himself off the floor. He rubbed his back. In retrospect, sleeping on the floor wasn’t the best idea. But he wasn’t going to sleep on the bed; the thing was too far away from Jensen.

Jared threw on the closest clothes he saw and dialed Gen’s number with one hand, fastening the button on his jeans with the other.

“Jarebear, what can I do for you?”

“Danneel?”

“Sup, baby?”

“Why do you have Gen’s phone?”

“Gen’s in the shower,” Danneel explained. “You called so I answered. How’s Jensen?”

“Not sure. He went home before I woke up.”

“He went home? And he didn’t wake you? Why?”

“I have as much information as you do,” Jared said sullenly. “He left a note saying he went home to change and he didn’t need a ride to school. Is he mad at me?”

Danneel was quiet for a few moments and Jensen felt the pit in his stomach grow. “He’s mad at me, isn’t he,” Jensen said sadly. It wasn’t a question.

“Jared, you don’t know that. He could just need some time to think.”

“Think about what? How to break up with me?”

“Will you stop!” Danneel snapped with unexpected anger. “I swear, you two are in such a dysfunctional relationship you can’t tell how much in love you are! So you had a disagreement, big deal. You two are in love. That doesn’t stop with one little argument.”

“Danni…”

“Don’t Danni me, Padalecki. You stop sulking like a preteen girl, put on a smile, and remember than you and Jared are so sweetly in love I could get diabetes from looking at the two of you.”

Jared kept silent through her entire tirade. “Do you really think that?”

“Stop doubting this, Jared. Just be happy.” Danneel didn’t sound angry anymore, just tired. “And the next time you have issues with your relationship, talk to Jensen. That’s what people do.” Danneel hung up before Jensen could form a response.

“Huh,” Jared said to the dead line. “Maybe she has a point.”

******* 

Jensen tried to calm his nerves as he drove to school. Driving upset would do no one any good. Jensen knew about the accidents people got into because anger was clouding their judgment. Not that Jensen was angry, per say, but he couldn’t deny to being frustrated.

He pulled into the school parking lot and took a few deep breaths before getting out of the car.

Chris and Steve were at his side before Jensen took two steps. “Danni called us.”

“You guys getting tired of my mopey ass too? Come to stay I better put on a smile

and realize everything in my life is hunky-dory?”

“Jen, you know we don’t think that. We’d never say that.”

Jensen let out a deep breath, “I know. I’m sorry. I’m just tense.” He laughed dryly. “My mental state relies on a guy I’ve dated for a week.”  

“Not much you can do at this point, anyways,” Steve says. “Unless you break up with him and move on with your life.”

“That would make things a hundred times worse,” Jensen replied dully.

“Hi,” A small voice said behind Jensen. He nearly tripped over himself as he spun to meet Jared’s eyes.

“Hi.”

“You left,” Jared said lamely. Chris and Steve had vanished.

“Am I supposed to stay by your side? Be at your beck and call?” Jensen’s voice was teasing, but there was something different behind his green eyes.

“Just missed you, is all.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “O-kay.” He stretched out the “O” sound and Jared tried to conceal a frown. Jensen hurried off towards the school.

Jared nodded and followed after Jensen’s long stride. It was almost like Jensen wanted to escape from Jared. Eventually Jared slowed his pace and let Jensen jog ahead. If Jensen needed space, Jared would give him space. It was better than sticking to Jensen’s side while he didn’t even want to look at Jared.

“Don’t know what the fuck I did,” Jared muttered to himself. “Fucking hormonal boyfriend.”

 

Jared sat beside Gen in history. Jared pretended it didn’t hurt to see Jensen and Danneel laughing and forced to listen to Gen. She rambled on about the graduation party and Jared tried to distract himself by imagining celebrating with all his friends until they could barely see straight. He imagined Jensen being with him, Jensen congratulating him, Jensen holding him and kissing him.

It didn’t take much for Gen to realize Jared could hardly focus. He sent her an apologetic smile and Gen put an arm around him and let Jared sulk.

 

••••••

 

Jared did sit next to Jensen in lunch. He flung his arm around Jensen like he usually did and pulled Jensen close to him. Jensen buried into Jared’s warmth and matched his breathing with Jared’s. It wasn’t their usual standard of PDA, but it was a hell of a lot better than nothing.

 

Jensen offered Jared a ride home and he accepted after a few moments. When they reached Jared’s house Jensen started to get out of the car with Jared and Jared gave him a strange look.

“What are you doing?”

Jensen felt stunned for a moment. He didn’t know what to say, so he settled for, “Nothing.” He got back in the car and drove away without looking back.

 

 

Jared paced in his room. He turned Jensen away from his door. He shouldn’t have done that. He should have dragged Jensen into the house and held him and told him how much he loved him and even though Jared was having a horrible day it didn’t mean that Jared had to take it out on his boyfriend, especially when Jensen would do nothing but cheer Jared up. He felt like a class A douchebag.

But Jensen seemed okay. I mean, maybe he didn’t seem like the happiest guy alive, and he didn’t miss the shock of pain that flashed through Jensen’s eyes when Jared turned him away. Jared could lie and say he never saw the way Jensen looked like a kicked puppy, and he could deny knowing that he knew the exact thoughts that would be swirling through Jensen’s head. Jensen would be wondering what he did wrong, what could he have done to Jared to make him so angry? Jensen would blame himself, and Jared did nothing to make him think otherwise.

“Why are you not at Jensen’s?” Megan asked from the doorway.

Jared jumped. “What?”

“Why are you not at Jensen’s? Or,” Megan waved a hand, “why is he not here? Did you guys break up?”

“No,” Jared said quickly. “No, of course not.”

“So you and Jensen suddenly decide that you no longer want to be joined at the hip. Just like that.” She snapped her fingers.

“We can be apart from each other, you know,” Jared snapped.

“Ooh, something happened!” Megan sat on Jared’s desk chair. “Tell your wise little sister all, Jare.”

“I’m upset,” Jared said.

“Thank you, Captain Obvious. Tell me what happened.”

“I screwed up,” Jared admitted. “First I freaked out at our first date, then I asked him why he was coming home with me. Because it’s totally weird that my boyfriend would want to come home with me, right? And he was mad this morning and he was going to come home with me so everything was going to be okay, and I told him to go home.”

“Why? Why would you freak out at your date?”

“The waitress,” Jared explained. “It was a girl. She flirted with Jensen. He never flirted back, I know that, but I acted like an asshole the whole time anyways. But I just—when it was over, I told him it was the worst first date ever.”

Megan examined him with an unreadable expression. “That sucks,” Megan said finally. “But you can fix it, you know.”

“How?”

“Well, for one, you should stop sulking alone in your room like a loser.”

“I am a loser.”

“Jensen doesn’t seem to think so,” Megan huffed. “Just go explain what you were so upset about and all will be forgiven.”

“It’s sort of embarrassing,” Jared mumbled. “Saying you ruined for first date because you were jealous. Can’t imagine Jensen would think much of me.”

“You know he would, you whiny brat.” Megan patted Jared on the back. “There’s only so much advice I can give.”

“I need help.”

Megan glared. “Kay, here’s some advice. Get your head out of your ass and stop whining.”

Jared pushed Megan out of his room. “Stay out!” Jared snapped. Megan’s snickering was heard down the hall.

Jared looked out the window and the big tree Jensen always climbed in caught his eye. Since Jensen hurt his wrist, he’d ring the doorbell like a normal person. Jared stepped closer to the window and shoved it open. It was raining so when Jared put a hand on the branch it was damp and slightly slippery. “Here goes nothing.”

 

Because climbing a tree—well, down a tree, which wasn’t exactly what Jensen did—Jared also had to run to Jensen’s house in the rain to make his movie clichés complete. And he didn’t just stop at two; he also had to pick up a handful of rocks to throw at windows. Because ringing the doorbell was too lame.

Jared figured Jensen would be in his loft. He figured out his boyfriend preferred to be alone with his guitar instead of socializing. Jared felt pleased when he realized that he was the only other person Jensen allowed to join him in the loft.

He slipped into the backyard of Jensen’s house and scanned the windows. Jared decided they must be the two windows highest on the house and Jared grasped a rock tightly. “I can do this,” Jared murmured. He grunted and chucked the rock at the window. It fell shut and hit the wall right below the window. Jared threw rocks increasingly higher until one finally bounced on the window. Jensen didn’t open it so Jared continued to throw rocks as hard as he could against Jensen’s window.

He threw one last rock and saw it sail for the window just as it opened and Jensen stuck his head out. “Jensen!” Jared shrieked.

Jensen barely ducked. “Are you insane?” He asked. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Trying to get your attention,” Jared said meekly.

“Because this is an ‘80s movie and your phone isn’t working?” Jensen scoffed.

“I’m trying for romantic here, give me a break.”

“Why weren’t you trying at our first date?” Jensen shot back. He didn’t sound mad, just hurt. Somehow that was worse.

“I was,” Jared insisted. “I wanted to, at least.”

“What stopped you?”
Jared bit his lip. He could either sound like a total lame ass and actually be in this relationship, or he could stick with his dignity and Jensen could be angry at him for a little while longer. “The waitress was…”

“Flirting with me, I know, Jay,” Jensen interrupted. “And I never thought anything of it. Anything of her.”

“You liked talking with her,” Jared tried.

“Yeah, because my boyfriend refused to look at me!” Jensen shouted down. It was a bit of an exaggeration.

“I know, I’m an idiot, and before you say it yes, I do trust you. I just got jealous. You’re gorgeous and sometimes I forget other people can see it too.”

Even from several stories below, Jared could see Jensen’s features softening. He was quiet for a moment and then said, “Back door’s unlocked.” Jensen vanished from the window and shut the pane sharply.

Jared stars at the shaking glass for a few seconds. Then his legs catch up with his brain and he’s running to the back door and slamming it open. Jared takes the stairs two at a time to reach his boyfriend and when he finally stumbles into the loft he all but trips onto Jensen.

The two boys fall down and hit the carpet somewhat hard. “Oof! Jay, get off me!” Jensen cried. There was a smile in his voice even through the frustrated look he tried to keep on his face.

Jared smirked and straddled his boyfriend. “Make me.”

“Jay,” Jensen growled. Despite Jensen’s best efforts, the tips of his mouth was curling up. “Off.”

“Jen.” Jay leaned down and nuzzled Jensen’s neck.

Jensen giggled and pushed at Jared. “I’m still mad.”

“I know,” Jared hummed. He met Jensen’s green eyes. “Maybe I should amend that.”

“How do you plan to do to that?” Jensen asked with an equally mischievous smirk.

Jared pushed Jensen’s hands above his head. “Keep them there,” Jared demanded. Jensen’s pupils were blown wide. The thin ring of green sent shivers down Jared’s spine. He pushed Jensen’s tee shirt up and over Jensen’s arms. Jensen’s eyes progressively darkened and he allowed Jared to roll his tee shirt off. Jared moved to Jensen’s pants next. He’d changed after school and god no one has the right to make sweatpants look that good. The gray, ratty pants had several holes exposing Jensen’s smooth, toned skin. He rolled down Jensen’s pants and he lifted his hips to allow Jared to pull them all the way off. Jensen moved to lower his hand but Jared growled and he snapped it back above his head.

“Bossy,” Jensen purred. That goddamn voice, it was going to kill him.

Jared molded his hand to Jensen’s cock, which was growing harder by the second, and squeezed gently. Jensen threw back his head and moaned loudly. “Jen! Your mom—Mack-,”

“They can’t hear us up here,” Jensen groaned and pressed against Jared’s hand. “I made sure of that.”

“You imagined having loud, hot sex up here?” Jared teased. He squeezed Jensen’s dick again and he gasped loudly.

“No—ngh—my guitar—Jay, Jared, please!”

Jared pulled Jensen’s boxers off and his newly freed dick bobbed up, pre-come dripping against Jensen’s stomach. Jared leaned down and licked the spare drips off Jensen and his whole body shuddered.

“Jay,” Jensen moaned. “Please.”

“What do you want, baby?” Jared kissed down Jensen’s stomach until he was hovering over Jared’s dick.

“Anything,” Jensen panted. “Everything!”

“Tell me, baby,” Jared crooned. He spoke against Jensen’s dick and the vibrations made Jensen buck.

“Suck me, Jay, want your mouth, please!”

Jared smirked smugly. “Whatever you want, Jen.” He ducked his head and swallowed Jensen down. Jensen bucked and cried out loudly. His cries turned to moans that Jensen didn’t bother to contain. Jared loved that he could make his boyfriend feel like this,

 “Jay, god, please, Jay, fuck, fuck, fuck Jay!” Jensen moaned and tried not to shove further down Jared’s throat than he already was. “Please, need to come, Jay!”

Jared took Jensen as far as he could and let his tongue explore the new addition to Jared’s mouth. Jared loved the way Jensen tasted, the way he felt smooth and silky in Jared’s mouth. He hummed contentedly and Jensen almost sobbed with how good it felt. “Love you, love you, Jay, love you so much,” Jensen babbled.

Jared kept licking and bobbing on Jensen’s dick and Jensen moaned incoherently. He grabbed at Jared’s hair. “So close, Jay, so—nrrgh, so close!”

Jared moved faster, sucking harder and letting his tongue glide across the head of Jensen’s dick. Jensen moaned into a drawn out cry before shuddering violently. Jared sucked harder and swallowed eagerly as Jensen’s come filled his mouth. Jensen lay flat on the ground, panting, and watching Jared through lidded eyes.

“Good?” Jared asked.

“I love you,” Jensen breathed.

“Am I forgiven?”

Jensen tugged Jared so he was lying next to him. “Take your clothes off and all is forgiven.”

Jared scrambled to pull his shirt and underwear off—he’d taken to going commando since Jensen found it so hot. Jensen dragged a blanket off the couch along with a few pillows. “Time to sleep.”

“Got me naked just to fall asleep?” Jared asked. “Little pointless.”

“I get to look at this.” Jensen ran his hand down Jared’s chest and his muscles fluttered under the light touch. “And I would be so hard if I didn’t just come so hard I blacked out.”

Jared giggled and snuggled into Jensen. “G’night, baby.”

“Night Jay,” Jensen mumbled. “Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Jared pulled the blanket tighter around the two of them and wondered for the second night in a row, why are we sleeping on the floor?

Chapter Text

Sunlight leaked through the poorly hung curtains in Jensen’s loft. Jared kept his eyes shut for a while and tried to ignore the dim light pressing against his eyelids. He buried his head deeper into the pillow and shifted uncomfortably on the floor. Jensen’s warm body lay close to his and Jared snuggled into his boyfriend. Jensen’s warmth seeped into him and Jared used Jensen’s chest as a pillow, his heartbeat like a lullaby.

A strong hand carded through Jared’s hair and massaged his scalp. Jared moaned and nestled his head into the curve of Jensen’s neck. His hand went over Jensen’s heart and Jared felt the low rumble of a laugh.

“Wake up, Jay,” Jensen’s sleep-rough voice murmured. “Wake up, baby.”

“Hmph,” Jared replied. It meant to sound like a ‘no’ but Jared spectacularly failed.

Jensen snorted. “Come on, Jay, get up.” He pinched Jared’s side and Jared squeaked and squirmed away. “Up.”

Jared finally opened his eyes and glared at Jensen. The bastard was smiling at him with amused eyes and when did Jensen possess the ability to look coherent in the morning? “Wha…?”

Jensen kissed Jared’s bare shoulder. “Time for school. Well, time for breakfast, and then school. Come on, Sasquatch, I know you don’t want to miss breakfast.”

“I hate you,” Jared muttered as he pushed himself off the floor. “Too fucking early to even think about getting up.”

“Oh, boohoo. You are not allowed to sleep the day away, Padalecki.”

“I will if you will,” Jared suggested. “Let’s not go to school.” He surprised himself by being serious.

Jensen chuckled, and then realized Jared meant it. “You want to skip school? A whole day?”

“We could go for a drive, sleep in the back of my truck. Get breakfast somewhere and ignore the fact that we’re ditching.”

“Jared, have you ever skipped a class in your life?” Jensen asked.

Jared shrugged. “Not really.”

“Not really,” Jensen repeated. “And now you want to miss a whole day because you’re tired.”

“Jen,” Jared pleaded, “There’s not a lot of school left. Let’s just take a day off.”

Jensen looked skeptical. “Let’s go to school up until lunch. I promise we can take off after.” He shook his head. “Even I’ve never been stupid enough to do this.”

Jared ignored the jab and his face lit up with a smile. “Really? We can skip?”

“Yeah, Jared, sure.” He rubbed a hand down his face. “I’m going to be in so much trouble. It better be worth it.”

Jared leaned over and kissed Jensen. “Don’t worry, Jen, I’ll make it awesome.”  

Jensen sighed. “Jare-,”

“Come on. We’ll even tell the others. All of us, we can all skip. Danneel and Chris and Steve and Gen and maybe even Sophia. We’ll take off. Just take a personal day.” Jared snuck the puppy dog eyes onto his face and Jensen groaned.

“Fine, you evil bastard. We’ll skip.” Jensen ran a hand down his face. “Don’t know how I let you talk me into this things,” He muttered to himself.

“Yay!” Jared cheered. He yanked Jensen to his feet. “Come on, we’re going to be late for school.”

Jensen whacked him on the head.

 

Jared proposed his idea to the others before first period. Steve looked skeptical but the rest jumped on board as soon as they heard the idea. Jensen and Steve sulked together and ignored the bouncy energy radiating off the others. Jared wasn’t fooled. He knew the two were biting back smiles.

First and second periods came and went quickly. In history, Jensen tapped his pencil nervously. “Why are you nervous?” Jared whispered. “It’s not like this is the first class you’ve skipped.” Jensen blushed. “You’ve never skipped a class? How is that possible?”

“Shut up. I have skipped a class but… just one. And the unimportant ones, like English and Spanish,” Jensen admitting.

“So you do care about school,” Jared said smugly.

“Oh don’t look so smug, Padalecki. You’ve never skipped a class in your life, and now you’re all ‘let’s disappear for the rest of the day’. Because that’s totally what you act like.”

“I sort of hate you,” Jared replied.

“I sort of hate you too,” Jensen said easily. “And that’s why I’m going against my better judgment to skip half a day of school.”

Jared leaned over and put his head on Jensen’s shoulder. He didn’t care that Edlund, or any of the other students, could see them. Jensen was his, and if the whole world knew, Jared would be that much happier.

Jared closed his eyes and let the absolute feeling of Jensen overwhelm him. “Mr. Padalecki, don’t you think there’s a better him to do that?” Edlund snapped.

Jared blushed and pulled away from Jensen. “Sorry, Mr. Edlund.”

“Yeah, sorry, Eddie,” Jensen agreed.

“Ackles! What have I told you about that name?” Edlund said it without any real head.

“It’s original and funny?”

“I can’t wait until you’re out of here,” Edlund drawled. There was a twinkle in his eye and Jared knew even Edlund would wish Jensen could come back for another year.

Jared knew the feeling.

He gripped Jensen’s hand under their seat. Jensen squeezed it and smiled at Jared and with that one, sweet smile, Jared’s concerns vanished.

 

 

Jensen sat in the passenger seat of Jared’s truck. “Can’t believe I let you-,”

“Talk you into this, I know,” Jared finished. “You’ve been saying it all morning.”

“I’m still wallowing in disbelief. It’s so not you, and it’s so not a good idea, and yet here with are in your truck, with the others following us. Sitting in disbelief, Jared.”

“Why can’t you have the same spirit as Chris?”

“Why can’t you have the same logic as Danni?” Jensen shot back. As soon as the words slipped out of his mouth, Jensen regretted him.

“I dunno,” Jared said. He turned up the radio and kept his eyes focused on the road. Jensen felt like a grade A dick.  

How do I manage to screw things up all the time? “Jared, I love you. Your spirit and your logic and everything about you. No one else. There won’t ever been anyone else, Jay. Never.” It seemed like confessing this things in an overheated truck with no lack of knowledge of where they were going was the wrong time to spill all that. But Jared beamed at him like Jensen was the sun, and he decided that he couldn’t care less.

 

Jared pulled off to the side of the road. It seemed to be—

“Trees,” Chris said. “Lots of trees. Are you trying to get us lost or something?”

Jared’s grin didn’t dim. “It’s what’s inside the trees, Chris. Haven’t you ever heard it’s what’s on the inside that counts?”

“Fuck off,” Chris replied.

“Why don’t you show us what’s so magical about this trees?” Gen suggested. “I didn’t miss French to stare at bark, you know.”

Jared grabbed Jensen’s hand and pulled him into the cluster of branches and green leaves. The others followed. Jensen looked back and noticed he could hardly see the entrance any more.

“Um, Jared-,”

“Trust me, Jen.” He stopped and leaned back to kiss Jensen. “Trust me.” Jensen nodded and allowed Jared to continue his trek through the forest. Chris grumbled behind him and Danni punched his arm.

Finally a little clearing poked out through the trees. The tall rough trees became smooth and the sun reflected off—

“A lake!” Chris cheered. “And a waterfall!”

Jared smiled proudly at Jensen. Even if Jared had lead them to a dirty and scratchy branches and was the ugliest thing Jensen had ever set his eyes on his—which, thank goodness, this clearing wasn’t—Jensen would smile back. Jared looked like a little kid that had won a ribbon or accomplished some task. It didn’t matter what it was. The childish excitement would melt Jensen’s heart nonetheless.

Jensen pulled Jared down for a kiss. “I love you,” Jensen murmured. “And I love this place.” He glanced towards his friends. They were laughing and smiling and splashing in the water. “I love how you make my friends happy. I love how you’re selfless and kind. I love that you know about this places and share them with others instead of keeping them to yourself.”

Jared didn’t respond. He bent and nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “There aren’t words,” Jared whispered. “To describe how I feel about you.”

Jensen twisted his fingers in Jared’s hair and kissed him roughly. Jared stumbled backwards, but Jensen quickly caught on and walked forward. He made sure Jared didn’t trip as they slipped into the forest behind a few trees.

“I told you I’d make it worth your while,” Jared murmured. He slid his hand down Jensen’s jeans and Jensen gasped. “I don’t break my promises.” His hand stroked Jensen’s dick, stroking the head and fondling Jensen’s balls. “Gonna make you feel so good, Jensen.” He shoved Jensen’s jeans and boxers all the way down to his ankles so his dick bobbed above his stomach. He peeled off Jensen’s shirt and stroked the firm muscle.

“Oh god, oh god, oh god, Jared, Jay, fuck!” Jensen panted. Jared’s mouth sucked Jensen down with little kitten licks on the vein underneath. “Fuck, fuck, fuck when did you get so—ah, ungh—good?”

Jared pulled off. “Thought about it. Practice with my fingers.”

Jensen whimpered. “Gonna come just by your voice, just you talking like that.”

“Wanna hear how I sucked on my fingers and imagined they were yours? How I tried to make it feel like your dick but you’re so damn big, Jen.”

“God, fucking suck me!” Jensen cried. “Please!”

“Shh,” Jared crooned. “Don’t want the others to hear you.” He ran his hand up and down Jensen’s cock. “Wanna hear where else I put my fingers?”

“Jare, I’m gonna, ugh god—ah!”

“Put them in my ass. Imagined it was you fingering me open.” Jared put his mouth back on his dick and it was one, two times upside down until Jensen moaned. “Coming! Gonna—gonna-,” Jensen came down Jared’s throat and Jared made himself swallow it all. He put his hand down his own boxers and it only took a few strokes before Jared was coming in his pants, lips still around Jensen’s cock.

Jared pulled off and licked his lips where stray drops of come landed. “We should skip school more often,” Jensen panted. “If it gets me that.” He kissed Jared and licked his come out of Jared’s mouth. “That talking, Jay. You drove me crazy.”

Jared blushed and Jensen tiled his head up. “That blush, Jay, it’s so hot. When we’re having sex, I swear you could talk me off with the things you say. And when we’re together, when we’re alone?” Jensen slid to his knees so he was level with Jared. “It’s the shy smiles and that adorable blush that make me love you more than I thought was humanly possible.”

Jensen hugged Jared and nuzzled his cheek. “Say something,” Jensen whispered.

“I love you,” Jared said. “I love you.”

Jensen’s body sagged onto Jared, still limp from his orgasm. “We should go back to the others.” He bit his lip. “Do you think they heard us?”

“With the way you were begging? I have no doubts.”

“Wasn’t begging,” Jensen grumbled. He knew his argument had no weight.

“Sure you weren’t.” Jared tucked Jensen into his body. “Not at all.”

“Who wouldn’t beg with the things you were doing to me?” Jensen exclaimed. He grabbed his shirt and they made their way back.

Jared laughed and the two entered the clearing.

Chris crinkled his nose. “You couldn’t even bother to clean up?”

“That’s what the lake’s for,” Jensen said haughtily. Danni laughed.

“Who knew Jensen was so loud,” Gen teased. “Begging for Jared’s cock.”

“Told you you were begging,” Jared muttered.

“I wasn’t begging!”

Gen and Danni laughed. “Whatever, we weren’t complaining,” Danni said. “It was like free porn.”

Jensen knew he was bright red. It was one thing for Jared to hear him come. But his family and friends? Jensen could do without everyone knowing.  

“Aw, Jenny, you’re blushing,” Chris taunted. “It’s about the least sexy thing ever, but somehow Jared gets you to moan like a porn sta-,”

“I will kill you,” Jensen said impassively. “And I will not regret it.”

“Whatever, Jenny, your life would be so miserable without me.”

Jensen hated to admit he was right. He threw his shirt off to the side and sat on the edge of the lake and examined the crystal-like surface the sun’s reflection caused. A huge splash of water hit him and Jensen gasped. Jared was smirking at him from the water.

“You bastard!”

“You’re the only one out of the water, Jen,” Jared said. “You can come in willingly or I can drag you in, take your pick.”

“Like you could pick me up,” Jensen scoffed. Jared smirked. “Jay, don’t!”

Jared already pushed himself out of the water. Jensen ran from the lake but Jared grabbed him around his waist.

“Get off!” Jensen demanded. But he was laughing. It may be possible that Jensen loved it when Jared got playful.

Jared threw Jensen into the water and he definitely did not squeal. He swam to the surface coughing out water to meet Jared’s eyes.

“Can’t throw you in, huh?”

“Shut up, I let you do that.”

Jared swam to Jensen and nuzzled behind his ear. “I know how you love it when I’m playful.”

Jensen blushed. “Shut up.”

“Hm.” Jared ducked under the water.

“Jared!” Jensen exclaimed. “Jared what are you-AH!”

Jared pulled him by his ankle under the water. Jensen could practically hear Jared’s cackle. He finally gave in and swam deeper in the lake to follow Jared. Jensen knew the others were around them. He saw their treading feet. But in the moment, all he could really feel was Jared.

It was their day off, it was their day to have fun, and as much as Jensen hated to admit it, he was wrong. Taking a day off to have fun and be rebellious—Jensen wanted to remember this for a long, long time.

 

 

Jared felt proud when he remembered to pack towels. They were sun-warmed in the back of his truck parked outside the forest. The group dried off and Jared deemed it time for food. Jensen reminded Jared that for him it was always time for food.  

“So, that was fun, wasn’t it?” Jared asked eagerly. “Right?”

“Yeah, Jay, it was awesome,” Jensen agreed, “You’re a genius for thinking of it, etcetera, etcetera.”

Jared bent his head to drop a kiss on Jensen’s neck. “I have amazing ideas though, don’t I?”

“Yes, and I will here on and forever listen to all of your ingenious plans. Now can we go get food? I’m hungry.”

“That’s my line,” Jared teased. He kissed Jensen and intended it to be a chaste kiss but Jensen grabbed his hair and pulled him down and forced Jared’s mouth open with his tongue. Jared moaned and kissed him back just as hungrily.

“Again with the PDA!” Chris drawled loudly. “When are things going to cool down between you two?”

“Don’t be jealous, Chris,” Jensen muttered against Jared’s lips, “I’ll kiss you later.”

“Better not,” Jared said against Jensen’s neck. Jared’s kisses slowly traveled up until he was sucking on Jensen’s earlobe. Jensen dug his nails into Jared’s hips.

“You’re gonna kill me, I swear to fucking god, Jared,” Jensen growled.

Jared smirked. “Think the same thing every time I see your face.”

“You two are such girls,” Chris said exasperatedly. “I don’t know how anyone puts up with you guys.”

“It’s like free porn,” Danneel said, “Two hot guys making out? It’s not hard to watch.”

“So, if Steve and I were to make out…”

“Not even in your wet dreams, Kane,” Steve replied.

“No! Steve, fuck, no way!”

Steve shrugged. “You brought it up.”

Jared watched the exchange with a smile. he tucked Jensen underneath his arm. Jensen snuggled into him and Jared’s legs turned into jelly. He turned his head towards Jensen and found his boyfriend’s gaze meeting his.

“Aw, now they’re making lovesick puppy eyes at each other,” Danneel cooed.

Jared smirked when Jensen turned red. He kissed Jensen’s nose sloppily and giggled when Jensen wiped it off. “Don’t you love me, honey bon?”

“Not at all,” Jensen replied. “I really don’t.”

“Yeah, you wish.”

Jensen grinned up at him and Jared matched his smile. “Come on,” Jensen said. “Lunch time, babe.”

Jared squeezed Jensen’s arm and pecked his cheek. “Sounds good.”

The group waltzed into Pizza Wheel and was met with Sam’s raised eyebrows. “You don’t have school?”

“Um, no, of course not, Ms. Ferris,” Chris said hastily.

“Oh really. And I am at all rights to believe you of all people, right Mr. Kane?”

“Of course, Sam.”

Sam turned her eyes to Jensen. “Well? Do you have school?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jensen said without a hint of guilt. “I don’t know why you ask if you know.”

“You think very highly of yourself, don’t you, Mr. Ackles?”

“My Jay does,” Jensen continued. “Don’t really need anyone else’s opinion.”

Jared blushed and his stomach filled with bubbles at Jensen’s words. “Jen.”

“They’ve been acting like this all day,” Chris whined. “Save me, Sam!”

“Oh, go sit, you group of hooligans.”

“Hooligans, huh?” Gen said. “I can do hooligan.”

“Hooligan is hot,” Chris agreed with a side glance at Gen. She rolled her eyes and strutted towards the table in the back with Danneel.

Jensen chuckled. “She’s never gonna get with you, dude.”

“Just wait,” Chris assured, “One day. One day she’ll totally fall for me.”

“Yeah, buddy, of course she will.”

Jared grinned at the playful interaction. “What are you smirking about, Sasquatch?” Chris snapped.

“Smirking? I wasn’t smirking!” Jared knocked his shoulder into Chris’. “Laughing at your distress, maybe.”

“Jenny, your boyfriend is an asshole.”

“No more than you, Kane.”

“Are you boys going to bicker all day or will you sit down and shut up so I can bring you pizza?” Sam snapped.

“We’ll sit, ma’am,” Chris replied. “We get free pizza, right?”

Sam glared and Chris scurried off to secure a set next to Gen. “What a nutcase,” Sam muttered. Jared noticed the fondness in her voice. 

“We’re all a little crazy, Sam,” Jensen said. “S’what makes us so loveable.”

“I find it impossible for you to actually be loveable at all,” Sam said. “God knows how-,”

“Jared puts up with me. Nothing I haven’t heard before, Sammie,” Jensen finished.

“Call me Sammie again and I’ll make sure Jared’s got nothing to look at,” Sam snapped.

“Nothing to look-,” Jensen glanced down at his crotch. “Never calling you Sammy again, got it.”

Jared laughed and threw an arm around Jensen’s neck. “Don’t worry, baby, I’ll protect you.”

“Go away,” Jensen whined. Jared shook his head and then squeaked when Jensen tweaked his side.

“Don’t do that!”

Jensen grinned and pulled Jared to the table where their friends sat. Jared huffed at him and shoved Jensen into the booth where he fell into Chris with a laugh.

“You guys want the original?” Sam yelled from behind the counter.

“Yes, please, Sam!” Danneel called. “Thank you!”

 “Thanks Sammie!” Chris added. “I mean Sam. Mrs. Ferris. Ma’am.”

Sam shook her head at Chris and Jared watched her turn around to conceal the smile on her face. He supposed it was impossible not to love Chris, once you got to know him.

Jensen snuggled back under Jared’s arm. “Whatcha thinking about, Jay?”

Jared kissed Jensen’s forehead. “Dunno. Everything.” He squeezed Jensen’s shoulder. “I’ll miss this,” he admitted, gesturing towards the large group of people gathered around the table.

Jensen smiled sadly. “Me too. But we have all summer, you know. I’m glad we took this trip.”

“Trip?”

“Well, we went for a drive, are out for lunch, decidedly not giving a care in the world about the school we’re missing… I’d like to think of it as a vacation of sorts.” He nuzzled Jared’s neck.

Jared caught Chris watching them with a soft look in his eyes. A small smile danced on his face and Jared buried his face in Jensen’s hair so Chris wouldn’t catch him looking.

“Chris is a big softie,” Jensen said when Jared whispered his discovery. “All bark and no bite.”

“Yeah, he seems like a real teddy bear.”

Jensen giggled into Jared’s shoulder. “Fluffy and sweet.”

“Imagine if Chris heard us talking like this.”

“We’d never see the light of day again.”

Jared grinned at Jensen. Steve exclaimed, “Pizza!” and Jared wrenched his gaze away to see Sam bringing a large pizza to their table. “Sam, you’re the best,” Steve sighed with a large bite of pizza in his mouth.

“Chew with your mouth closed,” Danneel chided. Steve flashed her a cheese-filled smile.

“Love you, Danni,” Steve said. With all the pizza in his mouth it sounded more like, “Wuv oo anni!”

Danni snorted. “Imagine how unimpressed I am.”

Jared snickered and Steve glared at him. “Ha ha. Easy for you to laugh, you’ve got a pretty boyfriend hanging off your arm.”

“Aw, do you want a boyfriend too?” Jared teased back. Steve flipped him off and struck up a conversation with Chris.  

Jared snuck a glance at Jensen and was met with a bright, happy smile. “This was a good idea,” Jensen said again.

Jared leaned his forehead against Jensen’s. “Yeah,” Jared agreed. “A really good idea.” 

Chapter Text

The days between their little vacation and graduation flew by. There were really only three days but Jensen felt like it was three hours between curling up in the pizza parlor and standing by the stage at graduation rehearsal on Thursday. Jared stood a long ways away with the other P’s. Jensen swallowed. ‘Ackles’ was first alphabetically. And Jensen would be the first one standing on stage and accepting the diploma.

Gen was only a few people away and she smiled comfortingly at him, no hint of sarcasm. “I’m nervous, Gen,” Jensen admitted.

“It’s just rehearsal,” Genevieve teased. But her eyes said, you’ll be okay.

“Ha ha, Cortese.” I know.

“I’m hilarious, Ackles.” Good.

Jensen let out a deep breath and pushed his attention back to the chairs in front of the stage. They were empty except from a few teachers. Edlund caught his eye and smiled. Funny how reassuring that gesture was when only a few months ago, Jensen would have wanted to punch the guy.

“I can do this, I can do this,” Jensen repeated. “It’s just rehearsal.”

He listened to Principal Carver talk. It was an incredibly boring speech about nothing Jensen cared about. It was mostly for the parents, anyways. Jensen smiled. As valedictorian, Jared was set to make his own speech. Jensen’s boyfriend had been panicking about it for days and he spent most of his time reassuring Jared and telling him he would be amazing.

Jared hadn’t let Jensen hear his speech and Jared wasn’t giving it at rehearsal. The first time Jensen would hear the speech would be along with everyone else at the real graduation tomorrow night. Jensen huffed at the thought. He’d tried stealing and sneaking glances at Jared’s neatly written speech but had only received a whack on his head or arm.

“…And without further ado, let me introduce our graduates!” Principal Carver announced. The teachers applauded meekly. “Jensen Ackles,” Carver said deeply.

Just rehearsal. Just rehearsal. Jensen climbed the steps and worrid about how much harder it would be tomorrow in his gown. He forced a smile and shook Carver’s hand. There would be a long line of teachers to shake hands with tomorrow night and Jensen hoped he could keep a smile on his face the whole time.

Jensen took his place at the end of the stage. Edlund smiled at him again from the crowd. It was so un-Edlund that Jensen couldn’t keep from grinning back.

Carver called the rest of the names and Jensen’s fellow students lined up next to him. They wore mismatched clothing and their hair was unbrushed. He imagined they would look much more put together at the real graduation.

Jared caught his eye from a few rows down. His smile was so blindingly beautiful Jensen faltered for a moment before remembering to smile back. I love you, Jensen tried to convey. And you’re gonna look so hot in your gown. Jensen doubted he caught the last part, but as long as Jared knew Jensen loved him—well, that was the important part.

Carver started on his concluding speech about how proud he was of the class of 2014, how hard they’d worked for everything, yadda, yadda, yadda. It was the same speech Carver gave every year. Jensen suspected he only changed the name of the speakers and the graduation year before performing another monotone delivery of a boring speech.  Jensen tuned his principal out in favor of examining the faces of the students around him. Some were familiar faces, some not. Jensen regretted the fact that he’d never learned all his classmates’ names.

Jensen forced himself to listen to Carver. But oh god was the man dull. Kill me, seriously, Jensen thought. He glanced down at Jared and grinned when he saw his boyfriend trying to stifle a yawn. If even Jared was bored by the speech, there was a real issue.

Jensen constantly made fun of Jared for being a teacher’s pet. Initially he had tried to hurt Jared’s feelings, until Jensen fell hard and fast for Jared. Every time he called Jared teacher’s pet now, he kissed Jared’s nose and Jared grinned so big his dimples shone through.

Oh, right, Carver’s speech. Not daydreaming about Jared.

Aw, hell, how could Jensen not daydream about his boyfriend? He was standing a few yards away from Jared who currently wore a too-tight shirt stretched across his incredible muscles and his arms flexed when Jared brushed a strand of hair out of his face.

Gen leaned over to Jensen and pinched his arm. “Stop drooling!” She hissed.

“Look at him!” Jensen snapped. “Try keeping your eyes off him! Especially when I know I get to rip that fucking shirt off later!”
“Don’t pop a boner in the middle of the graduation ceremony tomorrow, we’ll be okay.”

“Ugh, Gen, please don’t ever say that again and I will still love you,” Jensen deadpanned. “But hearing you say boner is slightly disturbing.”

“Thanks, Jennybean.”

“Don’t call me that,” Jensen said. It was pointless correcting her at this point.

“Listen to the speech, Jenny.” She smirked. “Bet you’re excited for Jared’s speech tomorrow, considering what he wrote.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Genevieve seemed genuinely confused. “But he let you read it!”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Then why’d he let Danni and me read it?”

“He let you guys read it?” Jensen asked. “Why?”

“I don’t know! I thought for sure he would have let you approve it!”

“Gen, what does it say?”

Gen shook her head. “If Jared didn’t let you read it, it’s because he wants to surprise you.”

“Is it, um, a good surprise?”

Gen grinned. “It’s an awesome surprise. But like I said, you’re gonna have to control your libido when you hear that boy’s talk because I got turned on, and I’m not the one that’s gonna rip his clothes off the second they’re alone.”

“Ugh, seriously. I’m going to go crazy if I keep hearing you talk about this. It’s kinda creepy.”

“You’re the one that’s drooling over tall, dark, and nerdy.”

“He’s not dark.”

“I know. He’s like a sweet little puppy that radiates sunshine. Seriously, Jensen, if you don’t want to hear me talking about certain parts of your anatomy, you should refrain from talking about how cute and cuddly your boyfriend is.”  

“Shh!” Someone hissed at them. “Be respectful.”

Gen glared at the mysterious girl. “Mind your own business, sweetheart. Before you ‘accidentally’ trip during graduation.”

The girl swallowed and turned away. Jensen punched his friend’s shoulder. “Really? You sound like Danni.”

“Oh, shut it, you’re smiling.”

“Am not,” Jensen muttered and turned away to hide the growing smirk. “I’m a horrible person.”

“Well, we’ll only be around these people for a few more days. Then we can pretend we’re nice and they can pretend we never existed.”

Jensen bit down on a laugh. “Listen to the ceremony.” Gen stuck her tongue out but complied.

At the end of the stuffy graduation rehearsal, Jensen tackled Jared as they exited the decorative hall reserved for graduation. “Hey, boyfriend.” He jumped on Jared’s back and wrapped his knees around Jared’s waist.

Jared laughed and hooked his arms under Jensen. “A piggy back? Really? Aren’t you a bit old, Jen?”

“What’s the point of having a ridiculously strong boyfriend if he won’t give me piggy back rides?” Jensen teased. He kissed Jared’s neck. “Do you think I can give you a hickey up here?”

“If you do, I swear to go I’ll drop you.”

“Hm, forgot how turned on you get when I do this.” Jensen sucked lightly on Jared’s neck and the boy inhaled sharply.

“Jen,” He hissed.

“Sorry, gorgeous.” Jensen leaned forward and Jared tilted his head back so Jensen could kiss him. “I can’t wait until graduation.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Just a few hours ago you were panicking. Now you can’t wait?”

“I’ve got a kick ass graduation present planned,” Jensen told him. Jared opened his mouth to talk but Jensen sucked on his earlobe and he groaned instead.

“Jen, god, not here!”

Jensen wrapped his arms tighter around Jared’s neck and pressed his foot against Jared’s dick. “God, I barely have to do anything to make you hard.”

“I’m a teenage boy, shut up.” Jared let go of his boyfriend and Jensen landed daintily on the ground. 

Jensen giggled and pushed himself in Jared’s arms. “So cute.”

“You’re the one that’s all cuddly at the moment,” Jared pointed out. “What’s up?”

Jensen burrowed his head in the crook of Jared’s neck. “Just happy.”

“Jen…”

“Well, I better enjoy this while it lasts, right? I mean in a few months…” Jensen swallowed. “Forget it.”

“Oh, Jensen Ackles, you idiot.” Jared leaned down and kissed Jensen firmly. Jensen lost himself in the feeling and wound his hands in Jared’s hair. “I don’t care if I’m in Russia and you’re in Hawaii. I am never giving up on you.”

“What if you meet a better guy in California? Someone hotter and smarter and-,”

“Don’t you think I’ve worried the same things? That maybe you’ll realize being gay is just a phase and you’ll find a nice, sweet girl to settle down with? Someone that can give you a family?”

“I won’t!”
“Neither will I,” Jared said with conviction. “We both have our insecurities, our doubts. But I’m not breaking up with you anytime soon. And I’m betting you feel the same way. “So relax. We’ll get through this.”

Jensen did feel some of the tension easing away. “You’re good at that.”

“Good at what?”

“Making me feel better.”

“’S what a boyfriend’s for.”

Jensen kissed Jared slowly and lovingly. Someone’s loud call of “Gross! Steve! They’re kissing again!” disrupted their bubble of happiness.

“Chris, you fucker,” Jensen groaned. “Jealousy is not a pretty emotion for you.”

“Aw, don’t be bitter cuz you’ll never get a piece of this ass.”

“Chris, seriously, I’m going to kill you and chop you into bits and scatter them across Texas. No joke.”

“Empty threats, Jennybean.” Chris ruffled Jensen’s hair. “Which one of you is the bottom, anyways?”

“All across Texas,” Jensen said. “Little bits of Christian Kane.” Chris glared at him.

“Real mature, you two,” Jared said. “Grow up.”

“Look who’s talking, you big puppy!”

“Puppy? You hurt my pride, Ackles.”

Jensen stretched up to kiss Jared. “Forgiven?”

“I’ll consider it.”  

Jensen giggled and Jared pulled Jensen back into his arms. Chris scoffed and turned away.

“You guys are going to give me diabetes.”

******* 

Jared bounced up and down on the balls of his feet. “Jare, relax,” Megan urged. “You’re making me nervous, and I’m not the one walking onto a stage in front of more than a hundred people to make a speech!”

“Gee, thanks for the reminder,” Jared said sarcastically. “I’d almost forgotten.”

“Jensen will be with you. Just speak to him. Pretend like there’s no one else listening. It helps, I promise, because you know no matter what you say, Jensen’s still going to love you.”

“Wow, Megan, that was actually…”

“Intelligent? I know. I say stuff like that sometimes.”

“Ha, ha.” Jared pulled his sister into an embrace. “You’ll be there, right?”

“With a video camera waiting to see you trip on your robe.”

“Oh god, that might actually happen,” Jared moaned. “And everyone will laugh.”

Megan snorted. “Jensen would beat up anyone that laughed.”

“He would not,” Jared snapped.

“He so would! He’s all gaga for you,” Megan teased. “Aw, Jare, you’re totally blushing.”

“I am not!”

Megan didn’t respond because the doorbell chose that moment to ring. His mom opened it and Jared heard familiar voices talking in the hallway. He ran down the stairs and saw Jensen smiling and laughing with his mom. “Hey, Jen.”

Jensen turned his blinding grin on Jared. “Hey, babe. Ready to go?”

“Not in the slightest,” Jared admitted. “But I guess we’ve got to.”

“Your excitement is contagious,” Jensen teased.

“Whatever. I haven’t forgotten about the graduation present you owe me.”

Jensen winked. “All in good time, Jay. Now come on. We’re gonna be late.”

Jared nodded nervously and Jensen stepped past Sherri to take Jensen’s hand. “It’s gonna be perfect, Jay.” He kissed Jared’s cheek. “Just stop worrying.”

“Yeah, next time you have to give a giant ass speech in front of tons of people, I’ll tell you to ‘stop worrying’.”

“You’re gonna be awesome. I know it. Now really, we’re going to be late.” 

“Fucking worry about everything,” Jared muttered so his mom didn’t hear him.

“Look who’s talking, worrywart.”

Jared threw his arm around his boyfriend and tugged him close. “Are you excited?”

Jensen shrugged. “If we’re being perfectly honest, I’m more nervous than excited. I want to stand up there with a diploma, but the idea of leaving my friends makes me wish high school would last just a little longer.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” Jared said softly. “I hate that at the end of the summer, I’ll be months before we can spend time together again.”

Jensen pinched his side. “If you make me think about that shit, I’m gonna start crying. And that will not be a pretty sight.”

“Admit it, you just don’t want Chris to make fun of you for being a girl.”

“Guys can cry!”

Jared smirked. “Never said they couldn’t.”

Jensen shoved him playfully. “Come on, Padalecki. We’ve got a graduation to go to.”

*****

When they arrive at graduation, Jensen’s palms are sweating. Jared has to get up in front of everyone and deliver a speech, but he’s handling it a lot better than Jensen is handling walking across the stage.

Parents haven’t arrived yet. The official ceremony starts in 30 minutes and the time between is spent organizing students and making sure the diplomas are all in order. Principal Carver is trying to placate Vice Principal Singer, who’s running in a panic to make sure everything is perfect.

Jensen squeezed Jared’s hand before standing with the other A’s. “You’ll be amazing.”

“Try not to trip,” Jared teased back. Jensen wasn’t upset; if Jared was calm enough to joke, he was calm enough to give his speech.

“Shut up, Padalecki.” Jensen winked at him and allowed Edlund to push him into his place in the line.

“Try not to mess up graduation like you messed up my class,” Edlund said gruffly.

“Aw, Eddie, you know you love me.”

Edlund did something unexpected. He clasped Jensen’s shoulder and said, “Come back and visit. I’m gonna miss you, kid.” Edlund dropped his hand and walked away like it never happened.

“I knew I was your favorite!” Jensen yelled back. He didn’t know for sure, but Jensen was pretty sure he saw Edlund smile.

“Ready, Jensen?” Carver asked him. Jensen grinned at Gen, who was a few people behind him.

“Of course,” Jensen said smoothly. “Never been more ready for anything in my life.”

“You’re a little liar,” Gen called. “Don’t listen to him, principal Carver!”

“Go to hell, Gen!”

Principal Carver. “If it weren’t 10 minutes before you graduate…”

“Yeah, I know, you’d see us in detention bright and early, Saturday morning. I’ve sort of memorized that speech,” Jensen said with a smirk.

“Are you proud of that, Mr. Ackles?”

“Well, it’s something I learned at this school,” Jensen joked. “Don’t you have a speech to get started on?”

“Don’t trip on your way to get the diploma.”

“Why does everyone think I’m going to trip? I’m a football player; I’m perfectly agile. And I can stay on my feet just fine, thank you very much.”

“Sure you can,” Gen said.

“I hate all people.”

“Oh, your whining is grating, Jennybean,” Gen drawled.

Jensen decided not to dignify it with a response. He never came out on top when arguing with Gen. She yelled and insulted until you got sick of hearing her voice and would agree to pretty much anything for her to shut up.

Carver started to talk. The parents tittered in the crowd when Carver made a poorly executed joke.  

Finally, finally the principal announced it was time to announce the graduates. He made some little comment on how far the students had come in the last four years and how proud he was and how sad it felt to watch another group of students walk out the doors. Same speech, different students, every year.

Carver’s voice was gentle and commanding at the same time. When he recited the same words he had at rehearsal, Jensen wanted for his name to be called. But when Carver finally said, “Jensen Ackles,” Jensen felt his legs wobble and his brain abandon him.

It took a slight nudge from the person behind him to get Jensen moving. He smiled, shook Carver’s hand, accepted his diploma, and that was that. He graduated. Jensen expected to feel something as he held the diploma, pride, excitement, wonder, anything. But Jensen looked at the little, beige piece of paper with his name printed in black ink, and saw nothing more than that. A piece of paper couldn’t possibly capture what high school was like. His mom would frame it and hang it next to Josh’s in the living room, Mack would laugh and jokingly say that it was nothing important, and Jensen would forget about it all together.

He didn’t remove his eyes from the loopy scrawl of Jensen Ackles until the familiar sound of Jared’s throat clearing jolted his attention to the front of the room.

“Hi, everybody,” Jared started. “For those of you that opted out of reading the program, I’m Jared Padalecki and valedictorian for the class of 2014.” Quiet laughter murmured in the audience. “I thought valedictorian was about receiving the best grades in the school. I was trained since I’d started high school to be the best.” Jared paused. “It took a while and a very unexpected group of people to show me that the ‘best’ person isn’t the person that gets amazing grades. It’s not the person that throws the touchdown pass in the championship. It’s not the guy that could win a hot dog eating contest with his hands tied behind his back. I had the highest scores on my transcript. But I can tell you all, if I can fall over my own feet even without my shoes being untied. I know a girl who hates science, but can kick a guy’s ass any day of the week.

“I guess this isn’t the valedictorian speech you were expecting. You probably expected me to say, study hard, never play. It’s what I would have said a few weeks ago.” Jared took a deep breath. “And then I met this guy. And he made me laugh and smile. I realized that there’s more to school that just good grades. I wrote this speech to tell everyone—it’s important to do well in school. But don’t overwork yourself. Take a deep breath. Make friends. And I hope that everyone can meet a guy like Jensen Ackles.”

Jensen froze. Hadn’t expected that. Jared pressed on. “Jensen Ackles is amazing. He’s just made of sunshine and I’m sure he’ll hate me for talking about him like this. He’ll hate how I say I think he’s perfect, I think he’s the kindest, strongest, most dedicated, and hilarious guys ever. He’ll make fun of me for being a girl later, or a teacher’s pet, but I admire him. And I want him to know that. So, thanks to Carver for this title, and thanks to Jensen for giving me a life.”

The crowd applauded and Jensen heard Chris and Steve wolf-whistle. Jared thanked the parents over their loud cheering and joined Jensen on the side of the stage. “What’d you think?”

Jensen grabbed Jared’s face and pulled him down for a kiss. He attacked Jared’s mouth and tried to tell him exactly how much he loved Jared’s speech, how much he loved him, and all the things in between.

“I’m guessing you liked it.” Jared kissed Jensen’s nose. “Shall we greet our parents?”

Jensen waved his diploma. “Wouldn’t want them to miss out on this.”

Jared giggled and walked towards his parents. “I’ll meet you in 10?”

“Sure.” Jensen kissed him quickly. “Keep your phone on, I’ll text you.”

“See you soon, sweetie.”

“If you call me sweetie again and I’ll show you exactly how strong I can be,” Jensen said.

“Is that a threat?”

“No,” Jensen purred. He stepped closer and pulled Jared away out of the parents’ sight. “But let’s just say…” Jensen smirked and grinded his hips against Jared’s crotch. “I’ll be thinking of you. Thinking of you on your knees, your mouth on me. My mouth on you, god, the noise you make when you came is so hot Jay you can’t even imagine. Seeing you in that godamn robe, Jay, I want to rip it off you and lick your amazing muscles. I’ll play with your nipples, I know how that turns you on.”

“Jen,” Jared panted.

Jensen smirked when he felt Jared’s growing erection. “Have fun talking to your parents. Good thing the robe’s so baggy.” Jensen pecked his cheek. “See you in 10 minutes!”

“You’re just going to leave me like this?”

“Hey, if you’d rather talk to your parents in sticky boxers, I can arrange that.”

“Go talk to your family, you fucker. See if I put out tonight.”

“Aw, Jay.” Jensen stepped closer and wrapped his arms around Jared’s waist. “I’m just—your speech was, amazing. Really, really, breathtaking. So I sort of lost control.” He patted Jared’s chest. “You’re just so hot.”

Jared smiled and blushed. God, Jensen loved that blush. Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck. “I can’t wait for my mom to meet your parents. She’s gone on and on about the lovely parents that raised such a sweet boy.”

Jared blushed. “That’s nice.”

“Ugh, Jared, you keep blushing and I’m going to drag you to the bathroom and fuck you here.”

Jared smirked. “Didn’t know you had a blushing kink, Jen.”

“Go away.” Jensen walked backwards to his parents so his eyes could stay on Jared. “See you in a few?”

“Say hi to your mom for me, Jensen!”

“Okay, baby.”

Jensen turned and jogged to his mom. She was waiting with a proud smiling and Mackenzie bounced on her feet beside her. “Hey, guys,” Jensen said.

Donna’s arms went around him and she squeezed him tightly. “My boy. Graduated from high school.”

“Mom, you’re being embarrassing,” Jensen groaned. Mack tugged him down for a hug.

“Too cool to hug your baby sister, Jenny?”

Jensen hugged Mack closely. “Never too cool for you, Mackie.”

When Jensen pulled back, his mom was dabbing at her eyes. Jensen rolled his eyes with a smile. “Really, momma?”

“Your mom is watching her second child become an adult. Shut up and let me cry.”

Jensen laughed. “Okay, mom, I’ll let you cry.”

“So your sister and mom get hugs, but I don’t?”

Jensen turned and his mouth fell open. The boy in front of him was taller, and had lighter hair, but it was unmistakably his big brother. “Josh.”

“Hey, little brother.” Josh smiled nervously.

“Josh,” Mack said. Donna just stared.

“What are you doing here?” Jensen finally asked. “I wanted to come see my little brother graduate. Is that a crime?”

“How’d you know?” Mack asked.

Donna blushed. “He called.”

“Wow, that’s a first. Though you’d lost our number, big brother, considering all the times you’ve called us in the past years!”

“I deserved that,” Josh muttered. “I do regret it.”

“Coming to my graduation won’t fix things.”

“They won’t,” Josh admitted. “Not immediately. But I’m willing to work at this, Jensen. But I’m begging you, work with me too. I need you, and Mackie, and mom.”

“And dad?”

Josh’s face clouded. “I know what he did. I know what he said to you. What he did to our family. If I ever saw him again, I’d punch him in his fucking face.” Josh blushed. “Sorry, momma. So, Jensen, when do I get to meet this boyfriend of yours? According to mom, you haven’t shut up about him.”

“He and Jared have sex in the house! And we can all hear them!” Mack exclaimed. “It’s awful!”

Jensen blushed bright red and Josh burst out laughing. “Stuff a tee shirt in your mouth, bro. Less painful than biting your hand and still effective.”

“Josh!” Donna exclaimed. “You shouldn’t be telling your brother things like that.”

“You’d rather hear him screaming Jared’s name, mom?” Mack asked. Josh burst out laughing again and Jensen punched her shoulder.

“Have you told him about safe sex?” Josh asked seriously.

“Too late, by the sounds of it,” Donna said.

“This family is out to torture me.”

“Drama queen,” Josh teased.

“Princess.”

Josh pulled Jensen into a hug. “You’re gonna have a hard as hell time getting rid of me now.”

Jensen hugged Josh and the two brothers stayed like that, embracing each other and making up for lost memories.

****

 Jared’s mom was attacking him with hugs and tears before Jared even got out “hi”. Sherri was squeaking out praise for his speech, for him. Jared patted her back awkwardly; she had his arms pinned to his sides.

“Mom, you’re suffocating me,” Jared finally said, “and I’m sure mom and Megan want to say hi too.”

Sherri released him and Jared took a deep breath. He hugged Megan and his dad gentler but tears filled everyone’s eyes. “Why is this so emotional?” Megan asked. “I don’t even care!” She wiped her eyes. “Why am I crying?”

Sherri laughed, watery as it sounded. “It’s because we love Jared and we’re proud of him.”

Gerry pulled his son into a hug. “Your speech was wonderful,” He said. “You were very professional.”

“It was?” Jared asked. “I thought maybe it was too cheesy to talk about Jensen.”

“The boy’s mad for you,” Sherri assured. “I was watching him; Jensen didn’t take his eyes off you.”

“I thought he was going to cry,” Megan piped up.

Jared smiled bashfully. “Thanks.” His eyes went to Jensen and saw him swallowed in the embrace of a guy Jared had never seen before. Donna and Mack watched them fondly and by the way Jensen was clutching the guy, he meant a lot to Jensen.

“Come on, come meet Jensen’s parents,” Jared said. He led them over and Donna beamed at Jared.

“If it isn’t our newly graduated valedictorian,” Donna said fondly.  

“Hey, Donna.” Jared smiled and let the older woman pull him down for a hug.

“You must be Sherri,” Donna chimed, smiling at Jared’s mother. She released Jared and pulled Sherri an embrace.

“Hello,” Sherri said. “It’s wonderful to meet you.”

“And you,” Donna said. “You have such a marvelous son.”

“Thank you,” Sherri said. “This is my husband, Gerry.”

Donna turned her bright smile on him. “Nice to meet you, Gerry.”

“Wonderful family gathering,” Jensen said. “Can we save it for the family party tonight? Where all of our friends won’t be and they won’t see our dorky parents?”

“Aw, Jenny, you don’t love us?” The strange boy dragged Jensen into a headlock and Jensen playfully punched his stomach.

“Josh! Get off me!”

“Your brother?” Jared blurted. Jensen smiled.  

“The one and only.” Jensen pushed Josh off him. “Josh, this is my boyfriend, Jared.”

Jared worried for a second that Josh would be as homophobic as his dad, but Josh smiled brightly at Jared. He has the same smile as Jensen.

“Nice to meet you,” Josh said kindly. “I feel like I know you already.”

“Um, thanks?”

Josh laughed. “Jensen hasn’t shut up about you. I’ve learned all about you from Jensen’s miscellaneous ramblings.”

“Ramblings, huh?” Jared smirked and Jensen.

“Fuck off, Jared.”

“Language!” Two angry mothers exclaimed at the same time.

“Sorry,” Jensen mumbled. “But in my defense, Jared is being a jerk.”

“You’re so whiny,” Jared groaned.

“Pain in the ass.”

“Complainer.”

“Your insults suck.”

“Your face sucks.”

“You would know,” Jensen said smugly.

Josh smacked him on his head. “Look, I’m happy with your relationship, but I’d really like to avoid the details. Plus we’re in front of our parents and little sisters.”

“Go back to your little hermit home,” Jensen muttered.

“Go to hell.”

“Wow you two are really brothers,” Jared commented.

“Yeah, except he likes girls and I like guys with really big d-,”

“Jensen!” A group of voices cried Jensen’s name loudly and attracted attention of several families around them.

“Okay, no more crude comments,” Jensen muttered.  

“We have all night for that,” Jared threw out. All 7 people glared at him. “Jeez, I’m a teenage boy, I turn everything into an innuendo.”

“I raised an Neanderthal,” Sherri muttered.

“Join the club,” Donna told her.

“Mom!” Jensen and Jared said in unison. “Are we really that bad?”

Donna shrugged. “Ask no questions, hear no lies.”

“Bullied by my family.” Jensen sighed. “The sad life I lead.”  

Jared pulled Jensen into his arms. “You promised me a graduation present,” he whispered in Jensen’s ear, making sure to brush the spot behind Jensen’s ear that turned him into a puddle.

Jensen, expectedly, shivered and dug his nails into Jared’s arm. “The keys are in my pocket.”

Jared’s hand slithered inside Jensen’s pocket in the jacket underneath his robe. “Ready?”

Jensen dragged Jared by his hand out of the room, calling excuses and apologies to their parents. The second they were outside, Jensen slammed Jared against the metal of the car and Jared winced at the impact. The pain evaporated when Jensen’s lips started sucking on his neck. Jared let out embarrassingly loud moans and grabbed Jensen’s hair.

“You’ve…had me…fucking…hard for the past…hour,” Jared groaned. “Get in the car and drive to your house now, or I’ll punch your pretty little face.”

“Petty threats,” Jensen teased, but he got in the car and turned the key. “Gonna get in or what?”

Jared hopped happily into the car. “Do I get any hints?”

Jensen shook his head. “Your present is for me to know, and you to find out.” Jensen blushed. “I don’t know if it’ll measure up to your speech, though.”

Aw, he’s embarrassed. At a red light, Jared put his hand on Jensen’s knee and squeezed comfortingly. Jensen smiled softly at him in response. They didn’t talk on the rest of the way to Jensen’s house.

They didn’t need to. 

Chapter Text

The house is empty when Jensen’s key slides into the lock. It clicks softly and the two boys enter an unlit house. Jared flicks the lights on and turns to Jensen, awaiting further instruction.

Jensen chuckled. “Jay, you’ve been here enough to know that you can do whatever you want. Don’t be afraid to mess around a bit.” He pulled off his robe and threw it unceremoniously on the floor. The cap followed. Jared followed suit and wondered if the two caps were even theirs. After the whole class had thrown theirs in the air, everyone just sort of grabbed the first one they saw.

Jensen went into the kitchen flicking light switches on whenever he passed one. “You want something to eat?” Jensen yelled over his shoulder.

“Yeah, that’d be great.” Jared sat on the counter and watched Jensen dig around in the fridge. “Can I have my present now?”

“All good things to those who wait,” Jensen sang. He pulled out a carton of eggs. “We’re having breakfast for dinner,” He announced.

Jared rolled his eyes. “Really?”

“Get the toaster, sweetie.”

“Right on it, honeybunches.”

“God, that’s an awful nickname,” Jensen drawled. “I’d rather be called Jennybean that honey bunches. And no, that is not permission to call me Jennybean.”

“I can stick with princess.”

“You fucking suck,” Jensen muttered.

“You would know.”

“No, I’m cooking, no innuendos, please, or we’ll forgo dinner altogether.”

Jared kissed Jensen’s cheek. “I’d be okay with that.”

Jensen raised a suspicious eyebrow. “Do I have to remind you the time you stopped in the middle of a blowjob because you were hungry?”

“I don’t remember that,” Jared lied.

Jensen rolled his eyes. “You stubborn asshole. I’m feeding you, then we’re going to have lots of sex.”

“And graduation presents!”

“Present. Singular.”

“Well what if I have one for you?”

“Do you?”

Jared smiled shyly and kissed Jensen gently. “Of course. Can’t have you outdoing me, after all.”

“I’m the better boyfriend,” Jensen teased. “Now go put bread in the toaster.”

“Top cabinet?”

Jensen felt a rush of warmth from his boyfriend remembering where things were in the house. It seemed so natural. “Yeah.”

Jensen turned the radio and Jared hummed along while he debated whether to make white bread or wheat. Jensen watched his brow crinkle in concentration over such a menial task.

“Just make them both,” Jensen finally said. Jared blushed when Jensen caught him. 

“Make your damn eggs,” Jared muttered.

Our damn eggs.”

Jared smiled and ruffled Jensen’s hair. “Dork.”

“Do you want me to put out tonight? Because the insults are gaining you any points in that department.”

“Calling you a dork is hardly insulting. And even if it was, a doubt that you won’t put out. You love me.”

“You’re so annoying.”

“We’re so over,” Jared said, leaning over and kissing Jensen.

Jensen twisted a hand in Jared’s hair. “Yeah, baby, so over.” He tugged on Jared’s hair. “I’m gonna burn the eggs if you keep distracting me.”

“You’re easily distractible, that’s not my fault,” Jared said.

“Get out my house,” Jensen grumbled.

Jensen finished the eggs and the two sat in comfortable silence at the counter. The sound of forks scraping eggs and toast crunching was the only sound in the room. “Jen?”

“Yeah?”

Jared’s legs swung back and forth from his place on the counter. “Are you… do you…” He cleared his throat. “Bedroom?”

Jensen smiled. “Eager?”

“Fuck off,” Jared blushed deeply.

Jensen leaned forward and kissed Jared. “No matter how awkwardly you ask for sex,” Jensen murmured against Jared’s lips, “I will always say yes.”

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s neck. “Because I’m adorably awkward?”

“Because you’re adorably awkward,” Jensen confirmed. “And all mine.” He pulled Jared to his feet. “Now come on. I really want to show you how much I belong to you.”

Jared went eagerly and pushed his lips roughly against Jensen’s. They didn’t slow down when they reached the stairs, they just kissed messily as they stumbled up the staircase. They kept walking and kissing up through Jensen’s house until the door to Jensen’s loft was shut and locked behind them.

“I don’t want anyone ruining this,” Jensen murmured, “This is going to be special.”

“It’s not like it’s our first time,” Jared pointed out.

Jensen smiled softly at Jared. “I want every one of our times to be special.”

“You fucking sap.”

“You love it.” Jensen put on music and turned it up loud. “I think our parents have heard us enough for one lifetime.”

Jared nodded in agreement and resumed attacking Jensen’s mouth. Jensen was moaning into their kisses and Jared felt himself get harder and harder by the second.

“Jensen,” Jared panted, “Fuck me now or I’m going to lose it.”

Jensen pulled back. “Are you sure? I mean, you want me too…”

“Get. In. me. Now.”

Jensen swallowed nervously. “Okay, baby, okay.”

Jared knew that Jensen would take care of him. It might hurt, Jared wasn’t going to pretend it wouldn’t. But he trusted Jensen. Jared let out a deep breath. “Be careful?”

Jensen leaned down to kiss him gently. “Of course.” His hand went out to grab lube and a condom from somewhere above them. Jensen uncapped the lube and put a little on his fingers, warming it up before he pressed it into Jared. “Tell me if it’s too much, okay?”

Jared nodded and waited for Jensen’s finger. When the digit pressed in, Jared gasped and clenched tightly. “Shh, baby, relax, it’s okay, just me, I’m going to take care of you.” Jensen kept muttering “I love you’s” and sweet nothings into Jared’s ear and finally Jared’s muscles relaxed enough for Jensen to push his finger inside. Jared squirmed at the intrusion but settled easily enough. “Another?”

Jared nodded. “’M good.”

Jensen eased a second finger in alongside the first one. This time when Jensen crooked his fingers, they pressed against something and Jared gasped and bucked. “Oh, god, do that again.”

Jensen chuckled but obligated. “That’s your prostate.”

“Ughn, more, please!”

Jensen added a third finger and scissored Jared open, occasionally brushing across the bundle of nerves that sent Jared’s hips into the air. “Okay?”

“Jen, I’m ready, really, just fuck me.” Jensen reached for a condom but Jared grabbed his hand. “I’m clean, I am. And you…”

“Me too,” Jensen whispered. He glanced at the condom. “Are you sure you want to-,”

“Yes, Jensen, I’m so sure,” Jared promised. “I want to feel you. All of you.”

Jensen nodded. “Okay.” He tossed the condom into a corner. “Let’s… let’s do this.” He squirted more lube on his hand and stroked up and down his dick. Jared groaned just watching him. Jensen’s eyes were blissed out and moans escaped.

“Jen, before you lose it-,”

“Shut up, Jared,” Jensen growled. He pushed his fingers back in and stretched Jared out a little more before putting his dick gently against Jared’s hole. “I’m gonna be careful, but it might hurt.”

“I know,” Jared said. “But I trust you.”

Jensen started to push but stopped when Jared winced. “Jay?”

“Keep going. I’m fine,” Jared assured. Jensen kept pushing in and Jared breathed heavily trying to block out the pain. Jensen went slowly and Jared loved him for it, but he really wanted to get fucked. “Jen. In.”

Jensen eased himself all the way in and bottomed out, waiting for Jared to give him permission to move. Jared finally nodded. “Yeah, I’m good. Move.”

“Okay, baby.” Jensen leaned down to kiss Jared before experimentally rolling his hips. Jared moaned.

“Jen, move!”

Jensen groaned and pulled almost all the way out before slamming back in. Jared’s hips bucked up and he moaned loudly. Oh god, why hadn’t he done this before? “Jen, fuck, god, Jensen!”

“You feel amazing, fuck,” Jensen breathed. “So tight, so good.”

Jensen’s dick bumped against Jared’s prostate and he cried out. “Jensen!”

“Feel good, baby?”

“Yes, ungh, fuck, more, more!”

“God, you sound so slutty,” Jensen moaned. He slammed repeatedly against Jared’s prostate and he made little keening noises with how good it felt.

“I love you, I love you,” Jared babbled, “Oh Jen, fuck you’re amazing!”

“Love you,” Jensen panted, “Fuck, Jay, I’m gonna—ugh!”

Jared saw Jensen try to keep his orgasm at bay and it was possibly the hottest thing Jared’s ever seen.

Jensen put a hand on Jared’s dick and started stroking him in the rhythm of his thrusts and Jared screamed even louder than the music. “So close, Jen!”

Jensen hit his prostate with particular force and one last stroke up Jared’s dick and he was sobbing through his orgasm. Jensen stroked him through his aftershocks and Jared groaned when he got too sensitive.

Jensen’s hips stuttered inside Jared and then he felt Jensen coming inside him. If Jared hadn’t just orgasmed, he could have come just from the whimpers Jensen was making.

Jensen slowly pulled out of Jared and Jared felt Jensen’s come dripping on his thighs. “Oh my god,” Jared said. “Best graduation present ever.”

Jensen leaned down and nuzzled Jared’s check. “That wasn’t your gift, baby.”

Jared looked up at him in confusion. “So we weren’t going to have sex?”

Jensen laughed. “No, we were definitely going to have sex.” He leaned down and kissed the head of Jared’s softening dick. “And I had plans to blow you, but that’ll have to wait.”

Jared’s dick twitched with interest. “Please don’t make me get hard again, I don’t think I can handle it.”

Jensen lay on the floor beside Jared and put his head on his Jared’s chest. “Do you want your real present?”

Jared yawned and looked at him. “Can we take a nap first?”

“Sure.” Jensen snuggled into Jared and he pulled a blanket off the couch to wrap it around the two boys.

“Quick nap,” Jared murmured. He looked over at Jensen but his boyfriend was already asleep.

 *****

“Wake up! Mom says you have to come down and celebrate!”

“Fuck off, Mack,” Jensen whined. “’M not moving for the rest of the year.”

“I’m not even going to ask why you’re tired,” Mack said, “But mom is going to come up and drag you down in a few minutes, so either I can do this through the door or your mothers can see you naked and post-sex.”

“Mack!” Jensen exclaimed. “Shut it!”

“Whatever. Clean up and come down.”

“Already came,” Jensen snapped.

“Ew! Gross!”

Jensen listened for Mack’s retreating footsteps. “Way to traumatize your sister,” Jared said.

“Fuck off.” He shoved the blanket off them and grabbed a box of tissues. “I can’t believe we fell asleep covered in come.”

Jared gratefully took a tissue from the box and wiped himself off. “Gross.”

Jensen looked up at his boyfriend. Jared was wiping dried come off his chest and his hair was messy with sweat. Jensen stared at him and thought he was the most beautiful thing in the world. He felt a dopey smile form on his face. “I love you,” Jensen said tenderly.

Jared looked up at him in surprise. “Love you, too.”

Jensen didn’t know what made him step into Jared’s arms and hug him tightly, but Jared’s arms held him close and Jensen buried himself in the crook of Jared’s neck. “Jared.”

“Jensen,” Jared murmured. He kissed Jensen’s temple. Jensen sighed contentedly. “This is nice.”

Jensen snuggled into Jared’s embrace. “Yeah.”  

Another bang on the door startled them and this time it was Megan’s voice that said, “Seriously, guys, I’m sure our moms would like to avoid seeing your naked asses.”

Jared sighed and rested his forehead against Jensen’s. “Let’s get dressed and go suffer through our graduation party.”

“Our friends will be there. I think we can live through it.”

Jensen snorted. “You go down now. I’ll be there in a sec.”

Jared gave him a strange look but pulled his jeans on. Jensen mourned the lost of his perfect abs when he put a shirt on and he almost considered begging Jared to take it off again.

When Jared was out of the room, Jensen grabbed his guitar and a little package hidden from view. “Alright,” Jensen said. “I can do this.”

 

Jensen found Jared sitting at a picnic table next to Danneel. She was waving her hands and talking animatedly. Jared threw his head back and laughed and Jensen smiled proudly at the sight of the hickey on Jared’s neck. I did that.

Chris threw an arm around his neck. “I heard you two had sex.”

Jensen blushed. “No we didn’t.”

“You’re lying, but it’s okay. I don’t really want to hear about ass-fucking at this party.”

Jensen punched his shoulder and looked around in Jensen’s huge backyard. His and Jared’s parents gossiped in the corner with Danneel’s mom and Josh was deep in conversation with Chris’ dad.

Steve took his place on Jensen’s other side. “Dude, can you believe it? We’re like… adults.”

Jensen chuckled. “Yeah, just like adults.”

“Got your guitar?” Chris asked. Jensen nodded towards the corner of the yard where his and Chris’ guitars rested under the tree.

“I’m terrified,” Jensen admitted. “What if-,”

“No ‘what if’s’,” Steve scolded. “Chris and I are not going to get up there behind you and play backup if you’re unsure. Jared loves you, we love you, and you’re going to blow his mind.”

“Ugh, Steve, you really had to use the word ‘blow’?”

“Chris, you’re so immature,” Jensen snorted. “Is your mind always on sex?”

“Yeah pretty much.”

“Grow up,” Steve and Jensen said in unison. Jensen’s heart ached when he realized days like these were numbered. Soon there wouldn’t be any group barbeques or trips to the forests. There wouldn’t be impromptu guitar sessions or sitting at lunch with his friends.

“What am I gonna do?” Jensen asked his friends. “He’ll be in California and I’ll be here.”

“Well you’re not going to give up,” Chris said firmly.

Steve nodded in agreement. “And stop with the moping. It’s not becoming of you. We all know how you value your girlish good looks, Jenny.”

“Fuck you too, Carlson.”  

“Come on, buddy, now or never.” Chris bumped his hip against Jensen’s. “Really wow his pants off?”

Jensen sighed. “Now or never.”

Steve grabbed their guitars. “Go make the announcement, Jenny.”

The three of them stepped onto the wooden patio that was serving as a stage for the group of people. Donna polished the wood especially for the occasion. Jensen looked around at the group of friends and their parents. There were a lot of people. How did Jared make that speech?

Chris and Steve hung out behind them fiddling with their guitars and Jensen tried to draw confidence from them. His two friends were always so confident in front of people but Jensen… not so much. He tapped the microphone Mackenzie found at the thrift shop. It screeched and then echoed his tapping noise throughout the yard.

“Um, I have an announcement,” Jensen started. “Well, it’s sort of—I don’t know, maybe it counts as an announcement…” Jensen felt embarrassed at his stammering. I can’t do this.

Jared’s sweet hazel eyes met his and Jensen felt all the tension in his body evaporated. His dimples winked at Jensen and he newfound confidence filled Jensen. “My announcement is mainly for one person. I’m pretty you sure you guys can guess-,”

“Considering they haven’t taken their hands off each other for weeks,” Chris cut in. Jensen flipped him off without looking back.

“Well, Jared made a pretty awesome speech today, and I don’t think I can ever top someone that amazing-,” Please don’t let Chris make a sex joke. He heard Chris’ sniggering and was grateful he didn’t say it out loud. “-but Jay, this is for you. I, uh, love you.” Jensen blushed deeply and picked up his guitar. Alright. He could do this.

Jensen opened his mouth and sang.

 

 *****

Jared melted at the honey-sweet sound of his boyfriend’s voice. Jensen was singing for him. In front of a huge group of people! Jared flushed with happiness. I love you too, Jared thought. He barely heard the lyrics, just drank in the sound of his guitar and the rhythm he created.

Jensen looked up and met Jared’s eyes and his mouth smiled around the lyrics. Jared’s cheeks hurt with the huge smile he wore. Jared mouthed, I love you to Jensen.

And here I was, waiting for you, you made me smile, you loved me too,” Jensen sang. “And here’s this song, I wrote for you, cuz I promise, baby, my love is true.”  

Jared slumped on the tree he stood under. His knees were weak from love. And oh god, lust. This was not the time to pop a boner.

Oh hell. Who couldn’t get turned on with Jensen staring at him with those green eyes.

When he finally finished his song, Jared leapt onto the stage and unabashedly kissed Jensen in front of everyone. “I love you, too,” Jared murmured too low for the microphone to pick up.

Jensen nuzzled his neck like he’d forgotten they were in front of all their friends and family. “Did you like it?”

Jared nodded, his nose brushing Jensen’s ear. “It was awesome. Was that my gift?”

Jensen shifted nervously and grabbed a package from the edge of the stage. “Nah. This is.” Jared reached for it but Jensen pulled it out of reach. “Not in front of everyone. When we’re alone.”

Jared grabbed him and pulled Jensen into the house, shutting the door behind him. The low music and scent of barbequing meat filtered in behind them and the back door rattled at the firm close.

“We’re alone, now gimme!”

Jensen chuckled. “Okay, you dork.” He handed the little wrapped box to Jared and cleared his throat. “You can’t laugh.”

Jared hugged his boyfriend comfortingly. “If it’s half as amazing as your song, I’m going to have to tie myself to a chair to prevent myself from fucking you.”

Jensen blushed. “Okay. Open it.”

Jared tore the wrapping off until a wooden box fell out. Jared threw the cover off and found a stack of something inside. He inspected them closer and discovered they were photos. Photos of Jared, to be exactly. Jared and Jensen, Jared lying on the couch, Jared doing homework, Jared and Chris and Steve, Jared and Danneel, the 6 friends all together, and other scenarios. There were enough photos to make it seem like they were together for years, not weeks. “Jen, this is awesome,” Jared said quietly.

“There’s more,” Jensen told him. Jared poked around under the pictures and saw a leather bracelet and a CD case. “The CD is me singing, Chris helped me. And the bracelet… well, it’s just a bracelet.”

“It’s amazing, Jen,” Jared said honestly. Oh god, his eyes were tearing up. He sniffed and tried to blink away the tears. When Jensen’s strong arms fastened around his waist, Jared buried his head in Jensen’s neck. “What am I going to do without you?” He whispered. He sniffed again and the lump in his throat grew so big it hurt.

Jensen carded his fingers through Jared’s hair and soothingly said, “Shh, shh, baby, it’s okay. You’ll never be without me. Not ever.”

Jared squeezed him tighter. He didn’t ever want to let go of Jensen. “Help me but the bracelet on?” Jared asked. His voice sounded gravely from holding back tears.

“Sure.” Jensen pulled the bracelet across Jared’s wrist and tied it. The buttery leather fit perfectly and Jensen glowed. “It fits!”

“Yeah, Jen, it’s the best.” Jared pulled Jensen into another tight hug. “Man, here I thought my graduation gift was good. But you come out with this and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to compete.”

“I aim to be the best,” Jensen joked. He pressed his lips against Jared’s and he hummed happily. Jensen’s tongue eased Jared’s mouth open and he moaned and tugged at Jensen’s hair.

They lost themselves in the kiss and almost missed the sound of someone clearing their throat. Jensen pulled away from Jared, and Jared whined. Their friends wouldn’t interrupt him and Jensen unless it was important.

Except it wasn’t one of their friends. “Dad?” Jensen asked. He jumped back from Jared like he was burned and Jared tried to conceal the hurt on his face. Apparently he failed spectacularly because Jensen reeled him back in and snuggled under Jared’s arm. He weakly protested and Jensen shushed him.

“Hello, Jensen,” Alan said stiffly.

Jared tried to rub some of the tension out of Jensen’s arm. “Calm down, baby, everything’s okay.”

Jensen nodded. “It’s all okay,” He repeated.

“Mr. Padalecki, do you think you could give me and my son some privacy?”

“No,” Jensen and Jared said together. “And it’s Jared,” He added. “Not Mr. Padalecki.”

Jensen glared at his dad like he dared him to protest. Alan shook his head but dropped the subject.

“Jensen, we need to talk.”

“Fine,” Jensen snapped. “Talk. You could start with an apology.”

Alan glared right back. “You want me to apologize?”

“Yes,” Jensen said firmly. “And not just to me. To Jared, too.”

Jensen’s dad looked between the two of them. Jared tried to look intimidating and confident, but he was shaking where he stood. “Jensen…”

“No, Jared. He insulted you and me both. So he can apologize to us both, or he can leave.” Jensen stared his dad down.

Alan took a deep breath and swallowed his pride. “I’m sorry, Jensen. I-,” He sighed. “What am I apologizing for?”

“You’re a real asshole, Dad,” Jensen snarled. “I think you should go.”

“You have no respect-,”

“I’ll respect you when you earn it!” Jensen yelled. “You haven’t earned it! It’s been 18 years and you still haven’t earned it!”

Josh appeared behind Jensen. “Dad?”

“Josh, it’s good to see you again.” Alan looked like he was going to hug Josh, but at the last moment he extended a hand instead. Josh shook his hand cautiously.

“What’re you doing here?”

“Congratulating Jensen, of course. He just graduated.” He smiled proudly at his son.

Josh sighed. “Dad, we’re having a good time, please don’t ruin it.”

“Why would I ruin it?”

“I think…” Josh ran a hand down his face. “Dad, I think you need to apologize.”

Alan looked between his two sons and Jared tried to make himself look as small as possible. “I’m sorry,” Alan finally said. “I—Jensen, I’m so sorry,” Alan said. His walls were crashing down and Jared waited for the moment when he would break. “Jensen, I didn’t mean the things I said. I love you. You’re my son. Yes this whole… ‘boyfriend’ thing is a little different but I’m willing to overlook it.”

Jensen glared. “I don’t want you to overlook it. I want you to acknowledge it. I want you to be happy for me. I love him, Dad. It’s not just some ‘boyfriend thing’ that’s going to end in a week or a month. It’s something I’m hoping will last a long, long time and I need you to get that. I need you to accept that.”

Alan finally looked at Jared. “You two are in love?”

Jared nodded meekly. “Yeah,” He croaked. “We are.”

“I need to process it,” Alan finally said, “But… I’ll accept it.”

The fight in Jensen hadn’t completely simmered. It bubbled just beneath the surface and Jared knew he was waiting for that inevitable moment where he would snap. Jared boldly wrapped his arm snugly around Jensen. “Jen, you’re all riled up. And as hot as it is, it’s not beneficial to anyone right now.”

Jensen smiled and relaxed. “So, later, if I get riled up…”

“My libido and I will get right on it.”

Jensen giggled and the sound brought Jared’s dimples out. “Come on, forgive him,” Jared urged. “He’s begging you. Pathetically.”

“He hurt me.”

I hurt you. And you’ve hurt me. People you love hurt you.” Jared softened his voice. “Think about it this way—he was able to hurt you because you love him. He’s your dad. Don’t forget… but maybe you should forgive.”

“When did you get so wise?”

Jared kissed Jensen’s temple. “I met this guy. And he pretty much changed my life.”

“Yeah? Was he handsome?”

“Gorgeous,” Jared teased. “With a wicked sense of humor. And talented.”

“Hm, he sounds cool.”

“Yeah, Chris is pretty awesome,” Jared teased.

“You dick!” Jensen laughed. “I hate you!”  

Jared pulled Jensen into a headlock and ruffled his hair. “Love you, too!”

Jensen pulled himself out of Jared’s hold but Jared had accomplished making Jensen laugh. His eyes sparkled and the fiery anger ebbed away. Jared remembered there with others in the room. Josh was chuckling in the corner with a fond smile but Alan looked uneasy. He didn’t look angry or disgusted, merely confused.

“Dad?” Jensen asked hesitantly. “Are you-,”

“I’m fine,” Alan said. He repeated with a gentler voice, “I am, Jensen. You look happy. I can get over myself if it means having you as a son.”

Jensen bit his lip. “But your receptionist-,”

“Is gone,” Alan finished. “And no, I wasn’t sleeping with her. Never. I love your mother.”

“But you cheated,” Jensen said.

“This is a conversation the two of us have to have, not you, dear,” Donna said out of nowhere. “Go outside. Enjoy your graduation party, love.” Donna hugged Jensen. “And spend time with your friends and boyfriend.” Donna squeezed Jared’s shoulder as well. “Go on.”

Josh trailed after Jensen and Jared. “Well that was sufficiently awkward,” Josh announced.

“Yeah, I think we’ve had enough family bonding moments for the month,” Jensen agreed.

“For the year,” Josh corrected. “Or longer.”

Jensen peeked at Jared. “Hope that wasn’t too uncomfortable for you, Jay.”

“Uh, no, of course not,” Jared lied. Jensen chuckled and kissed Jared’s cheek.

Jensen punched his shoulder. “I owe you for suffering through that.” Jensen tapped his chin. “I could give you that blowjob I promised.”

“Ugh! I’m still here! You gross fucks!” Josh covered his ears and walked off in the opposite direction. Jensen burst into laughter at his brother’s outburst.

“I love family,” Jensen said fondly.

“I love you,” Jared replied.

“And I love you both, my big, fat, homos!” A weight landed on Jensen and Jared, knocking them to the ground.

“God, Chris, you fucker! I have grass stains now!” Jensen shoved Chris off him, but he was immediately replaced with Steve.

“My baby gays are growing up!” Steve wiped a tear away.

“Our gaybies,” Chris pretended to sob.

“Oh my god, gaybies?” Jared exclaimed. “What the hell!”

“I like it,” Danneel announced. She and Gen appeared by their side. “Gaybies.”

“I’m divorcing you guys,” Jensen deadpanned. We are no longer friends. Get out of my yard.”  

Danneel yawned and flicked at one of the lanterns that hung on strings around the yard. “Sun’s setting,” She said.

The sky was turning a soft peachy pink color with spirals of blue and purple. “Pretty,” Jensen commented.

“Not as pretty as you,” Jared teased. Jensen pushed him lightly.

“Here’s to clichés,” Gen announced. “Sitting in a yard with friends, graduated from high school-,”

“Fucking into the wee hours of the morning,” Chris inputted.

“-and waiting for our college lives,” Gen finished like he hadn’t even spoken.

“Here’s to going apart without growing apart,” Jared toasted. Jensen clinked an imaginary glass against Jared’s hand and the rest followed suit.

“Cheers,” Jensen murmured. He leaned in to kiss Jared.

Jared snuggled into Jensen’s arms. “Here’s to us.”

Jensen toasted him again. “Forever.” 

Chapter Text

Stanford College, California

 

“Chad,” Jared whined. “You used up the last of the milk again. And decided not to leave a fucking note!”

“Dude, I was about 30 minutes of fucking that bartender chick. The only milk on my mind was-,”

“Chad! Shut it!” Jared shook his head. “I’m so finding another dorm partner.”

“Yeah, you wish.” Chad stretched out on his bed. “Our dorm room is the best. And I’m the best.” He tossed a dirty sock at the picture of Jared and Jensen Jared always had on his desk.

“Watch it!” Jared growled. He caught the wobbling photo. “Unlike you, I’m in a committed relationship with someone I love. A lot.” He smiled at the photo of him and Jensen in the park.

“Your gay love is sickeningly adorable,” Chad drawled. “When was the last time you saw him?”

“Thanksgiving,” Jared said automatically. “But I’m flying back tomorrow and we’ll have three weeks to ourselves, and Christmas.”

“Aw, you big sap.”

“It’ll be awesome. All our friends are coming home. It’ll be the six of us. Chad, I miss him so much. I miss Jensen.”

Chad smiled at him, fondly instead of the usual smirk. “I expect an invite to the wedding.”

Jared blushed. “We’re not going to get married.”

“Jare bear,” Chad said seriously, “You two have been together for, what, a year? It’s halfway through your freshman year of college and if he hasn’t gotten tired of your ass by now, he never will. Pun intended.”

“We’ve only been together 6 months. Shut it.” Jared bit his lip. “Do you really think we could get married some day?”

Chad nodded. “I’ve seen the two of you together. Remember the weekend he flew out here for your birthday?” Jared nodded. “That boy barely looked at anything else. I think he might have glanced at me once in the two days he spent with us. He’s never, ever, ever, ever going to look at someone with the same amount of love that he looks at you with.” 

Jared ran his finger over the corkboard hung by his bed. He’d pinned every photo Jensen gave him to the board and he hadn’t taken the leather bracelet off since the day he got it. Chad made fun of him for listening to the CD’s Jensen made over and over again, but it guaranteed hearing Jensen’s voice.

Other than the multiple times they called each other every day. Chad mocked him every time a text or a call came in from Jensen and Jared pounced on the phone. More than once Jared knocked over furniture—and Chad—to answer the calls. “Pathetic,” Chad told him every time. “Fucking pathetic.”

Jared rearranged his suitcase. “Is it weird that I feel nervous?”

Chad bounced on his bed. “Nah. He’s the love of your life. And you guys are still in the honeymoon phase, there’s still butterflies.”

“Will—will the honeymoon phase end?” Jared asked sadly.

Chad grinned brightly. “Yeah, but that’s the good part. Because after the honeymoon phase—that comes the real relationship. The honest, true love.” He winked. “But the butterflies really never go away.”

“When did you become my gay guru?”

“When you turned into a fucking pussy,” Chad replied just as easily. “Someone’s gotta be the brains of this operation.”

“And you think that guy’s you?”

“Sure.”

“You’re delusional,” Jared told him. “And fuck, I am not even close to finishing packing.”

“Want some help?” Chad offered.

“Really? That’d be great!”

Chad sighed. “I thought you’d be too nice to accept that.”

“So, you offered purely because you thought I’d say no.”

Chad shrugged. “I’m not the most virtuous man on the planet.”

“No arguing here.”

“Dude, seriously, you’ve totally tricked everyone into thinking you’re nice.”

Jared snorted. “Look, I can barely think about anything other than the fact that I’m going to see Jensen tomorrow.”

“You sap.”

It wasn’t Chad’s voice that teased him. The voice was as familiar to Jared as his own was; Jared listened to it every night when he played his favorite CD over and over again. Jared jumped around and almost fainted at the sight of his boyfriend standing in the doorway. “Jensen!”

Jensen smiled, big and beautiful just like Jared remembered. “Hey, Jare.”

Jared crossed the room in two steps and wrapped his arms tight against Jensen. “Oh my god, you’re really here.”

Jensen laughed and hugged Jared back. “Yeah, baby, I’m really here.”

Chad cleared his throat and Jared stepped back. “Uh, you remember Chad.”

Jensen smiled at Chad. “Yeah, I’ve feel like I’ve gotten to know you pretty well through the shouting during our phone calls.”

Chad actually looked embarrassed. “Sorry. But if you saw the dopey smile Jared on his face when he talked to you—it’s pathetic.”

Jared blushed and Jensen combed his fingers through Jared’s hair. “Dopey smile, huh?”

Jared nuzzled Jensen’s cheek. “I can’t help it. I’m sort of in love with you.”

“Only sort of?”

Jared smiled against Jensen’s cheek. “Maybe a lot.”

“I love you a lot, too,” Jensen replied softly. “And I hear that you’re not done packing.”

“Well, I can see I’m only going to be cockblocking if I’m here any longer. So, I’m gonna go get drunk, and you two-,” Chad gestured between Jensen and Jared, “-no sex on my bed.”

“I could probably catch an STD just from sitting on it, I’m not having sex on it,” Jared told him.

“Fucker, I’m not that dirty.” Chad slammed the door behind him.

Jensen wound his arms around Jared’s waist. “Awesome,” Jensen purred. “Now. I haven’t seen my boyfriend in weeks, so I have a lot of pent up sexual frustration. And I really-,” Jensen stepped forward and pressed his hips against Jared’s, “-need someone to help me out with that.”

Jared moaned. “Jen, god, I wanna fuck you.”

“With pleasure,” Jensen whispered against Jared’s ear. He nibbled on the lobe and walked Jared backwards until he landed on his back on the bed. “Gotta make sure we get it all out here, because I’m not sure how many opportunities we’ll have at home.”

“Ungh,” Jared grunted. “Jen-,”

“Can you imagine? Being so close to each other for three weeks and not able to do anything? I think I might go insane.” Jensen kissed Jared hungrily and Jared moaned. He dug his nails into Jensen’s hips so hard that it would bruise the next day.

“Jen, you fucking tease!” Jared growled. He flipped them so Jensen was on his back. “I’m gonna fuck you, Jen, and we’ll see who the bigger tease is.” Jensen shuddered underneath him and Jared felt a swoop of satisfaction mix with intense lust. “I’ll bring you right to edge and force you back.”

Jensen tugged Jared’s shirt off from the awkward position he was lying on. He moaned and ran his fingers all over Jared’s torso. “God, I missed your muscles. I could come just from thinking about them.” Jensen licked a stripe up Jared’s chest. “I have come just thinking about them. My hand on my dick, just imagining you pressing me against the wall and fucking me so hard. God, I’ll have two fingers up my ass practically begging for you.”

Jared growled. “You jerk off to me manhandling you, Ackles?” Jared’s mouth sealed around Jensen’s nipple and sucked and bit it to hardness. Jensen writhed and babbled incoherent pleas. Jared pulled off his nipple and whispered, “You think about me shoving you against the wall, fucking you so hard you’ll feel me into the next week?”

Jensen keened and grabbed at Jared’s hair. “Do something, please!”

“What do you want, Jen?”

“Anything—everything—god, Jay, fuck me!”

Jared pulled his pants off and then rid Jensen of his clothing. “I’m not taking this slow. Been waiting too long.”

“Yes, god, hard and fast Jay,” Jensen panted.

Jared leaned over Jensen and grabbed the lube and a condom off his nightstand. “Thank god I hadn’t packed these yet.”

“You were bringing lube back home, Jare? Wanted to fuck me as soon as you got off the plane?”

Jared marveled at the fact Jensen could make breathy little pants sound sexier than porn. Jared slammed his mouth against Jensen’s. “You keep talking and I’m going to come before I’m even inside you.”

Jensen smirked. “We’ve got all night.”

 

 

 

Jared panted, satisfied and exhausted. “That was awesome,” He slurred.

Jensen giggled and rolled on top of Jared. “Did you know sex turns you adorable?”

Jared slapped feebly at him and Jensen snuggled into Jared. He pushed under Jared’s arm and waited for it to curl around him. Jensen sighed when the familiar hand stroked up and down his arm.

“I love you,” Jensen murmured.

“I love you too.” Jared pressed his forehead against Jensen. “Did you know sex turns you sweet?”

“Shut up,” Jensen yawned. “Do you think we could hold off on round two for a few hours?”

Jared nodded. “Let’s get some sleep.”

“Then I can suck you,” Jensen murmured sleepily. “Getting hard just thinking about it.”

“Go to sleep, Jen.”

 

Jensen woke up to light kisses pressed across his face. “Wake up, sleepy,” Jared whispered.

He rolled over and buried his face in Jared’s chest. “No, thanks.”

“We’ve gotta get home today,” Jared reminded him.

“Fuck home. Let’s stay here. California’s awesome.”

“You’ve been here twice, and both times we’ve barely left the bedroom.”

“Yeah,” Jensen repeated. “Awesome.”

Jared giggled and Jensen felt the familiar bubbly sensation that filled his stomach whenever Jared laughed.

“You do have a ticket home, right?” Jared asked.

“No, Jared, I flew up here without any plan at all.” Jared looked alarmed and Jensen rolled his eyes. “Come on. I live with women. My mom didn’t even let me pack until I had tickets booked—both ways.” He kissed Jared’s forehead. “Don’t worry your pretty little head.”

“Jerk.”

“Bitch. Now, you woke me up. I was having a nice dream, too. So if I have to get up-,” Jensen pushed Jared onto the floor. “You do too.”

“Uf! Jensen!”

Jensen rolled back on the bed, shaking with laughter. “You-your face-oh my god, Jay!”

“I hate you,” Jared grumbled. He pulled on Jensen’s arm and he fell onto the floor as well.

Jensen groaned at the sudden flare of pain. “Fuck.”

Jared’s big eyes filled with concern. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, baby, I’m fine.” Jensen smiled in reassurance. He knew how much Jared liked it when Jensen called him ‘baby’ and tried to work it into every conversation. Jared rolled himself on top of Jensen but made sure not to crush him.

“We really should get moving,” Jared murmured against Jensen’s lips.

“True,” Jensen agreed, “Considering you have tons of packing to do.”

Jared nodded and slumped into Jensen. “Not really motivated to do any work, though.”

Jensen rolled Jared onto his back and slipped his fingers into the waistband of his boxers. “If you finish packing in the next 15 minutes, I’ll blow you.”

Jared jumped onto his feet as soon as Jensen finished talked and haphazardly threw clothes and books into his suitcase. Jared frowned adorably when he realized everything wouldn’t fit.

“Jay, you know we’re only going home for a few weeks, right? You don’t have to pack up your entire room.”

“I know, but I feel like it’s all important and I can’t take anything out and hmph!” Jared’s rant was cut off but Jensen’s kiss.

“I have more room in my bag,” Jensen told him. “I really only brought a couple shirts. The rest is empty.”

Jared cocked his head. “Then why’d your bring it?”

“Because I knew you would insist on packing a ridiculous amount of stuff.” Jensen opened the suitcase to Jared. “And maybe I can teach you about responsible packing some day.”

“It almost sounds like you’re calling me irresponsible.”

“Gee, that’s just downright impossible.” Jensen patted Jared’s shoulder. “Pack, dumbass. A blowjob is on the line.”

Jared mock-saluted Jensen and continued to stuff miscellaneous things into the suitcases. Eventually Jensen sighed, “Jay, I promise, you really don’t need all this. Just stop packing or I’ll start throwing things back out.”

“That’ll be counter productive,” Jared told him but zipped up the bags. “Now you owe me.”

Jensen rolled his eyes and pretended to be exasperated. “I guess I do.” He pushed Jared onto the bed. “I suppose I could follow through.” He was already rolling Jared’s sweatpants down and groaned. “God, fucking commando? Not fair, man.”

Jared wiggled his eyebrows. “This making you hot, Ackles?”

“Shut the fuck up.” Jensen bent down and sucked the head of Jared’s dick. Jared let out a strangled noise of pleasure and Jensen smirked. He took more of Jared into his mouth and Jared grunted.

“Jen, fuck, fuck, fuck, ngh, so good, Jen—Jen your, oh god, your mouth!” Jared rolled his hips and Jensen choked slightly on his boyfriend’s dick. “Sorry!”

Jensen hummed an apology and Jared wailed. “So good, so good, Jen, Jen,” Jared babbled. Jensen doubted he even knew what he was rambling on about.

“Gonna-gonna come,” Jared warned. Jensen sucked harder and licked up and down the vein on the underside. Jared sobbed and come flooded Jensen’s mouth. He swallowed in willingly.

It was pure bliss until Jensen heard, “What the fuck! Oh my god! Give a guy some warning!” Followed by the slam of a door.

“Um, sorry Chad!” Jared called after him.

Jensen fell off Jared’s dick and dissolved into laughter. The last of Jared’s come dripped onto Jensen’s lips. “Oh my god! Chad—Chad saw me sucking your dick!”

“I don’t see how that’s funny,” Jared said, but the corners of his mouth were turning up. “I have to live with him!”

Between laughter Jensen said, “He’ll be away from you for three weeks. I think that’s more than enough recovery time.”

“What a send off,” Jared muttered and tucked his dick back into his jeans. “See you later, Chad, hope you forget you walked in on my boyfriend blowing me.”  

“He’ll be fine,” Jensen assured.

Jared looked at Jensen’s dick. “Um, should I…”

Jensen blushed. “Already took care of it.”

“When?”

Jensen didn’t meet Jared’s eyes. “You know how hot I think you are when you fall apart.”

“You came from sucking me,” Jared whispered. “That’s unbelievably hot.” His dick twitched in agreement.

Jensen yawned. “Come on, baby, we have a flight to catch.”

 

 

 

Jared linked his hand with Jensen’s after exiting the plane. Jared knew he’d whined and shifted restlessly for most of the plane ride and it was a testament to Jensen’s love for him that he only stroked Jared’s hair and whispered soothing words into his ear. Eventually, Jared’s tirade wore him out and he fell asleep with Jensen petting him.

“Who do you think will be at the airport to greet us?” Jared asked Jensen.

“Knowing our families, everyone that can. Our sisters for sure, but they won’t have come without our mothers. Maybe Josh and Jeff will be there.”

“Nah,” Jared said. “Josh and Jeff are too wrapped up in their own little world. From what Megan has told me, the two of them regress to teenagers when they’re around each other.”

“Well they can’t be more immature than you,” Jensen pointed out. Jared swatted his head.

“I’m very mature.”

“When you want to be.”

They reached baggage claim and examined the many conveyer belts to find their flight number. “God, there’s fucking hundreds of them.”

“Oh, you drama queen. There are only 28.”

Jensen turned around and saw Mack and Megan wearing matching smirks. “And we’ve already found it,” Megan added to Mack’s statement.

“Mackie!” Jensen exclaimed.

Mackenzie went into Jensen’s hug eagerly. “I miss you, Jensen.”

Jensen squeezed her back. “You too, little sister. How’s high school?”

“Awesome! There’s this boy-,”

“No boys,” Jared and Jensen said in unison. “For either of you,” Jared said, watching Megan.

Megan stuck her tongue out. “You’re no fun.”

“I’ll fly back from California to beat them up,” Jared said. “Show off my manly strength.”

Jensen giggled and pushed Jared’s arm around him. “You dork.”

“Jenny!” Jensen looked up to see Josh’s big smirk. Jeff watched them with interest behind Josh.

“Oh, god, they did come,” Jensen groaned. “Why?”

“Our moms are cooking, so being the amazing big brothers that we are, we graciously offered to pick you two losers up.”

Jensen and Jared exchanged a look. “Gee, thanks,” Jensen drawled sarcastically.

“You’re welcome!” Josh chirped brightly, ignoring the sarcasm.

The four siblings guided Jensen and Jared to the belt that had their suitcases. “You can find them, we’ll go grab the car,” Josh suggested, tugging on Jeff’s sleeve.

“I think they have their own gay romance going on,” Jared muttered.

“It would be true, except they’re both in serious relationships with girls.”

Jared shrugged. “So were you.”

Jensen threw back his head and laughed. “They have the ultimate bromance. But no one,” Jensen pecked Jared’s cheek. “Can be more in love than us.”

Mack watched them with longing. “You two are so lucky.”

“Disgustingly in love,” Mack grumbled. “I want a Jared.”

“I want a Jensen,” Megan piped up. “Or any guy, really.”

Jared’s arm tightened around Jensen’s shoulders. “He’s mine.”

Jensen slumped into Jared’s warm embrace. “Totally yours.”

“Kay, now it’s getting sickening.” Megan wedged her way in between Jared and Jensen.

“Thanks, Megs.” Jared kissed Jensen’s temple. “We should look for our bags.”

“Sounds good.” Jensen watched the hundred bags rotate around the belt. “So, we’re looking for two very generic black bags,” Jensen announced. “Which means it’s gonna be a bitch to find them.”

“Would it be so hard to label your bags?” Mack grumbled.

“They have tags!” Jared protested.

Black tags.”

“Shut up, Jensen.”

“Make me.”

Jared pressed his lips against Jensen’s. “No problem,” Jared murmured when he pulled away.

“We should look for ours bags,” Jensen mumbled with a bright red face.

“You’re fucking adorable.”

“I hate you.”

Jared laughed at Jensen’s adamancy. “You wish, Ackles.”

It took 15 minute before Jared and Jensen recognized their bags and pulled them off the carousel. “Homeward bound?”   

“Who says that?” Jensen asked. “I’m dating a weirdo.”

“I’m your weirdo.”

Jeff and Josh had the car right up in front of the door. “Finally!” Josh exclaimed as they climbed into the car. “Why did it take so long to find your bags?”

“Would have been quicker if you two assholes had helped us,” Jensen pointed out.

Jeff and Josh shrugged simultaneously. “We were pulling up the car.”

“You both had to do it? It didn’t take one person?” Jensen pushed.

“Like you and Jared do anything apart.”

“We’re dating,” Jared said. “Did you two sprout happy-go-lucky gay love?”

“Fuck off,” Josh muttered.

“Don’t be mean to my boyfriend,” Jensen scolded.

“He’s a big boy, he can take it.”

“Trust me,” Jensen retorted. “I know exactly how big Jared is.”

“Oh my god! You homo freaks! Shut up!” Jeff exclaimed.

“I can feel the love radiating off them,” Jared teased.

Jensen curled up against Jared’s side. “’M tired.”

Jared kissed his head. “Go to sleep. I’ll wake you when we’re home.”

“It’s only 7:00 and my baby brother is falling asleep,” Josh muttered exasperatedly. But he and Jeff both watched the two of them with fond expressions. Jared smiled at the picture before drooping onto Jensen’s head.

 

Megan shook the two of them awake when they reached Jensen’s house. “Everyone’s here. So prepare to be bombarded with questions. And avoid inuendos around our parents, it’s so weird.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll save them for Josh and Jeff.” Jensen winked at the brothers.

“I hate you two,” Jeff muttered. “And you’re gross. I don’t want to hear about your adventures in the bedroom.”

“Sounds like the title for a bad porn movie,” Jared said. Jeff groaned and pushed inside the house.

Jared and Jensen hadn’t taken two steps into the house before their mothers were hugging them and questioning them about everything. “I’ve missed you!” Sherri sobbed. “My baby boy’s all grown up.”

“Hey!” Jeff protested. “What about me!”

“Yeah, you too,” Sherri said.

“I become a fucking doctor and that means nothing,” Jeff muttered.

“Language!”

“Sorry, mom.”  

“Come on, we have food.” Donna ushered the two boys into the kitchen. “It’s about time you two eat something with real protein.”

“Jared will go anywhere for food,” Jensen teased.

“And Jensen’s ass,” Mack piped up.

“Mack, Megan! Go help your dad wrap presents.”

“But mom-,”

“Christmas is a week away-,”

“Go, girls,” Donna said firmly. They sent their mothers dirty looks and trudged up the stairs.

“It’s all the TV, Donna. They’re getting all these ideas about sex.” Sherri checked something in the oven.

“It’s not TV, mom. It’s the internet! And high school! I mean, as unfortunate as it is, they’re gonna learn about stuff like that.”

“Oh, Jare bear, it doesn’t mean a mother can’t worry.”

Jared and Jensen rolled their eyes. “Crazy overprotective women,” Jensen muttered into Jared’s ear. Jared chuckled and pressed his forehead against Jensen’s.

“It’s good to be home.”

 

 

 

Jensen slung an arm over Jared’s waist and buried his head in the crook of Jared’s neck. “I can’t believe our parents let us sleep together.”

“It’s resignation, not acceptance,” Jared explained. “You’d just climb into my window if they made me go home.”

Jensen shrugged as best he could snuggled up to Jared. “You’re the best blanket I have. You can’t blame me for enjoying sleeping on you.”

“I could deny you access,” Jared teased. “Charge you for all the times you used me as your heating blanket.”

“Yeah right,” Jensen replied. He traced a hand up and down Jared’s side and Jared squirmed.

“You know I’m ticklish,” Jared muttered. 

“Quiet,” Jensen shushed. He crawled on top of Jared. “I want to learn you.”

“Because you haven’t explored me enough already.”

Jensen kissed him. “You snarky little thing.”

“I’m your snarky little thing.”

“Mine,” Jensen purred in agreement.

Jared yawned. “I’d love to continue this right now, but baby I’m exhausted.”

Jensen stroked Jared’s cheek. “Okay.” He smirked. “But only if I can use you as a blanket.”

“Absolutely,” Jared agreed. “I love it when you use me as a blanket.”

“I love you.”

“And I love you,” Jared agreed.

With that, Jensen fell into a peaceful sleep.

 

Days flew by until Christmas Eve. Jensen spent plenty of time wrapping for presents he and Megan bought for their family. Mack refused to go out shopping, preferring to order things online. Jensen mocked her endlessly for it and decided he was going to adopt Megan as another little sister. Megan already called Jensen her brother-in-law.

On Christmas Eve, Jared insisted on watching as many Christmas movies as possible. He watched Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman and Santa Clause is Coming to Town. They were in the middle of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Jensen’s personal favorite. Mack and Megan went to their room to gossip and the parents had long since gone to bed at their respective houses. Jared’s house was silent except for the occasional creak and the hum of the TV. Donna suggested Jensen stay the night at his own house, but quickly gave up on the idea after Jensen refused to stop touching Jared for the whole night.

Jensen put himself between Jared’s legs and his head lying on his chest, arms wrapped around Jared. Jensen quoted lines alongside the movie and Jared smiled into Jensen’s hair. He massaged Jensen’s shoulders and curled into the warmth of his boyfriend. Jensen purred under Jared’s touch and thought, at that moment, there was nothing in the world he loved more than Jared.

“Merry Christmas, Jensen,” Jared said quietly.

“It’s Christmas Eve,” Jensen murmured.

“No. It’s midnight. Baby, it’s Christmas.”

Jensen’s sleepy grin lit up his face.  “Merry Christmas, Jared.”

Jared crawled over to Jensen and pushed him onto his back on the couch, straddling Jensen’s hips. “Well, I guess I better give you your present then.”

“In the living room? On the couch? At midnight?”

Jared leaned over to kiss his cheek. “Guess you’ll have to be pretty quiet, huh?”

Jensen groaned and pushed his hips against Jared. “Jay, this is so not the time to do this.”

Jared smirked and the next thing Jensen knew, his legs were around Jared’s waist and Jared was carrying him up to his bedroom. “Holy shit,” Jensen squeaked.

Jared grinded his hips against Jensen’s and he grunted. “No-Jay-fuck,” Jensen threw his head back.  

“That can be arranged.” Jared nipped at Jensen’s neck and he whimpered.

“Jay,” Jensen breathed.

Jared kept his hands under Jensen’s thighs until Jensen rested on the bed. Jared crawled on top of him and resumed kissing Jensen until their lips stung. “I want you.”

“Oh, Jay,” Jensen kissed and sucked at his neck. “Our baby sisters are in the house.”

Jared smiled mischievously and held up condom and lube. “I hope you can be quiet.”

Jensen shuddered and started ridding Jared of his clothing. He moaned at the sight of Jared’s miles of tan skin. “You’re so hot, Jared, it’s fucking ridiculous.”

Jared yanked Jensen’s jeans down. “Look who’s talking.”

When they were both naked, Jared aligned their cocks and the brush against each other sent Jensen’s hips bucking into the air.

“I swear to god-,”

“Calm down, babe, I’ll get you there,” Jared promised. He uncapped the lube and pressed a little out. “Dude, has this been in here since you left for college?” He pressed his finger against Jensen’s hole.

Jensen shook his head and tried to grind against Jared’s finger. “Bought it while I was out Christmas shopping. Look at the—ughn—look at the tube.”

Jared took a closer look at it. “Cotton Candy?”

“Thank Megan.”

“My little sister picked out our lube?”

“She dropped it in the shopping cart, I didn’t even notice until we were checking out.”

Jared shook his head. “God, teenage girls these days.”

“Yes, they’re all devious criminals, now fuck me for Christ’s sake!”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Pushy bottom.” Jared appraised his boyfriend’s body. “On your stomach.” Jensen complied and Jared ran his hands down Jensen’s back. “I’m gonna try something,” Jared told him.

Jensen nodded. “Go ahea—oh my god, Jay!” Jensen stuffed his head into his pillow to muffle the bit of moans of pleasure. 

Jared smirked against Jensen’s ass and poked his tongue around Jensen’s hole again. “Let’s see if this does taste like cotton candy,” Jared purred. He pressed another lube-covered finger inside Jensen and licked inside the hole. Jensen was practically sobbing with pleasure as Jared’s tongue flicked over Jensen’s ass again and again.

“I’m—Jared, please, please, please,” Jensen babbled. He grinded his dick against the bed to find any sort of friction.

Jared flipped Jensen onto his back. “Can I fuck you?”

“I thought we’d already established that was going to happen tonight.”

Jared rolled his eyes with a smile and wiggled two fingers inside Jensen. Jensen groaned and then stuffed his hand in his mouth.

Jared kept opening Jensen up until he was writing on the bed with need. “Now, Jay, now!”

Jared rolled the condom on and carefully pushed inside Jensen. Jensen’s head lolled back onto the pillow. “God, you have no idea how much I missed you,” Jensen panted.

Jared leaned down to kiss him. “I think I might.”

Jensen sighed happily. “Baby, you can move.”

With that, Jared pulled out almost all the way before slamming back in. Jensen shoved his hand back into his mouth and his teeth dug into the skin to try and stifle the moans that Jared always managed to drag out of him. Jared tried to keep his mouth shut so no one could hear the grunting and heavy breathing.

“Feel good, Jay, so good, so good,” Jensen gasped. “Harder, baby, harder, please!” Jared grunted and pushed further into Jensen. “Jen!”

“Oh, god, Jay! Fuck!”

Jensen clenched around Jared and he screamed. “Coming!”

Jensen let go the minute he felt Jared shake with the force of his orgasm. He groaned and dug his nails into Jared’s back while he shuddered through the orgasm.

“You know,” Jensen said to Jared when they were curled up in bed, cleaned off and snuggled up comfortably. “Our family probably heard you scream.”

Jared turned bright red. “Oh fuck.”

 

Jared woke up with something warm resting against his stomach. Jensen’s hair tickled his chest and his arms were curled tightly around Jared’s waist. “Merry Christmas, baby,” Jared whispered. Jensen smiled slightly in his sleep and snuggled closer to Jared. “You’re so fucking cute when you’re sleeping.”

Jared wanted to take a picture of him so when he was at Stanford, he could still wake up to Jensen’s peaceful face.

God, Jared wanted to wake up to that face every day for the rest of his life. The thought hit Jared like a freight train. He felt like he couldn’t breath for a minute. “Oh my god, I want to marry Jensen,” Jared breathed. He felt a panic attack coming on, which probably wasn’t the normal reaction to that thought.

Jensen took that moment to wake up. “Jay? Jay, what’s wrong?”

“I’m okay, I am.”

Jensen nuzzled Jared’s neck comfortingly. “You look scared.”

“Existential crisis. But I’m okay now.” Jared grinned to prove it.

“Well, it’s about time we woke up. It’s past 9.”

“What happened to my boyfriend? You hate getting up before noon!”

“It’s Christmas,” Jensen explained. “ The sooner we get up, the sooner we get presents!”

Jared giggled. “Which house are we going to?”

“Mine, I think.”

The Padalecki’s and the Ackles had become strangely close while Jared and Jensen were at college. Even to the point that they were having a joint Christmas. “Do you find it weird how close our families are?” Jared asked.

Jensen shrugged. “I like it.” He winked. “I have more excuses to see you.”

“Do you need excuses to see me? You snuck into my house on school nights, against your parents’ wishes. Jensen, even if our parents hated each other I’d wake up next to you.”

Jensen blushed and hid his face in Jared’s neck. “I wish I could wake up next to you forever,” Jensen said.

“Yeah,” Jared agreed. Jensen’s head went back to resting on Jared’s chest. Jared stroked his fingers through Jensen’s hair and he started purring. “Maybe we could sleep in a little longer. As a Christmas present for ourselves.”

Jensen chuckled. “I think I could get onboard with that.”

Jensen closed his eyes but Jared couldn’t stop staring at him. Jensen’s face was smooth and at ease. “Why are you watching me?” Jensen asked after a while.

“Oh, fuck, I thought you were asleep!”

Jensen laughed. “I was trying. But my boyfriend kept watching me and making me feel self-conscious.”

“You are probably the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. I can’t take my eyes off you.” Jared kissed his forehead.

“Jay,” Jensen said amusedly. “You sleep shirtless. It’s a miracle I can get any sleep. You know how hot you make me.” Jared blushed and Jensen raised his head. “You don’t know? Christ, Jared, I jump you at every opportunity. I fucking sleep on your abs. Think about the last time we were in the same room and I didn’t have my hands on you.”

“Shut up.”

“No, Jay.” Jensen straddled Jared’s thighs. “These?” Jensen trailed around Jared’s stomach and Jared giggled at the tickly feeling. “God, Jare, your abs drive me up the wall. And these-,” Jensen’s hands slid across Jared’s pecs and played with his nipples, making Jared groan. “So hot. But what really gets me, Jay, are your goddamn arms.” Jensen’s hands rubbed up and down Jared’s biceps. “I’m practically hard when I’m just looking at them, but when I get to put my hands on them, Jay,” Jensen growled. “I have to remember my baby sister is in the room to calm me down.” Jensen kissed Jared. “But now, we’re all alone. So I’d really like to show exactly how hot you make me.”

“You can do that,” Jared breathed. “Feel free.”

Jensen smirked. “I think our families are already at my house. So I’m gonna see how loud I can make you scream.”

Jensen’s hand cupped Jared’s erection through the cotton of his boxers. “Hard already?”

“Your fucking voice, don’t go on about me getting hard.” He pressed his hips into Jensen’s and felt his own bulge. “Hypocrite.”

Jensen smirked. “Like I said, baby, you make me hot.”

“God, I love when you get sexy.”

Jensen started to massage Jared through the cotton and Jared moaned. The friction drove Jared mad and he let out embarrassing little whimpers. It felt insanely good and Jared wanted to cry he was so hard. “Fuck, Jen, I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die!”

“Alright, baby,” Jensen soothed. “I promise, I’ll get you there. I will. Just be patient.”

“Feels good, so good, ugh.”

Jensen peeled the waistband down and Jared’s dick bounced up. It oozed pre-come and the blood made the tip almost purple. “Please, please, please, please, please,” Jared babbled.

Jensen licked a stripe up the vein and Jared cried out. “Fuck!”

 Jensen kissed and licked up and down Jared’s dick. “No teasing, don’t tease,” Jared begged.

Jensen took pity on him and swallowed Jared down. Jared’s hips bucked and Jensen didn’t force him back. Jensen let Jared squirm and buck into his mouth and sucked on the head.

It felt amazing, “Gonna come, now, Jen, gonna—gonna- fuck!”

Jared came in Jensen’s mouth and he swallowed it all. Some point in their relationship Jensen had become really, really good at giving head. Jensen pulled down his boxers and slid his hand up and down his dick a few times before he came on his hand and Jared’s stomach.

“Merry Christmas,” Jared panted.

“Merry Christmas.”

 

“Here they are, descending from their sex marathon!”

“A real marathon.” Jeff snorted.

“Bet they burned a bunch of calories,” Josh said. 

Jensen and Jared rolled their eyes in unison. “Aw, they’re coordinated,” Jeff taunted.

“Fuck off.” Jared squeezed Jensen’s hand. “And we were sleeping, thank you very much.”

“I heard you scream at midnight,” Megan chirped. “And I doubt it was a horror movie.”

“Shut up, Megan!”

“The whole house heard you,” Jeff said.

“Ha, ha, I wasn’t there!” Josh teased. “I was at my own house, safe and sound from the energizer bunnies.”

“I remember the days when I had sex all the time,” Jeff said with fake-nostalgia.  

“We do not have sex all the time!” Jensen protested. Josh snorted.

“Whatever helps you sleep at night, little brother.”

“Trust me, I’m not getting any sleep.” Jensen winked and patted Jared’s ass. “I’m gonna go say hi to momma.”

Jeff and Josh focused their attention of Jared, who turned red. “Um, me too,” Jared squeaked.

“Thanks for leaving me alone with them,” Jared muttered in Jensen’s ear.

“Your face was worth it.”

“Some boyfriend you are.”

Jensen slid his arm around Jared’s waist. “You love me.”

“I do.”

“Merry Christmas!” Donna exclaimed. “I was worried you two were never going to get up.”

“Oh momma, they were up, but they were fu-,”

“Josh Ackles. You watch your mouth!” Donna scolded. Josh scowled at Jensen and Jared like it was their fault.

“Can we open presents now?” Mack begged. “I want stuff!”

“Christmas has become completely commercial,” Jared joked. “It’s all about the presents.”

“You weren’t complaining about your present,” Jensen muttered in his ear.

Jared smirked. “I never said commercial was a bad thing. And besides, that wasn’t material.”

“I get so turned on when I make you scream,” Jensen said as calmly as discussing the weather. If only Jared’s dick could calm down too.

“Presents!” Mack whined again.

“Fine,” Sherri conceded. “Open your presents.”

Mack and Megan squealed with joy and busied themselves in digging under the Christmas tree, pulling out presents and yelling the name of the recipient before throwing them into a miscellaneous pile.

Jensen shook his head with amusement and sat next to Jared on the couch. “Waiting it out?”

“I’m not getting thrown into the hurricane of little sisters and Christmas,” Jared replied. “That’s a battle I’m not going to fight.”

“Even if I want to open the present you got me?” Jensen asked with what Jared called his ‘doe eyes’.

“That’s not fair,” Jared grumbled. But he got up and rifled through the presents until he found a box. “Here.”

Jensen examined the box. It was about as tall as a chair, but only half the width he shook it and couldn’t hear a rattle. “Why don’t you open it to find out what it is?” Jared teased.

Jensen glared at him and peeled the wrapping paper off carefully. He took the lid of the box and saw…

A giant teddy bear.

“Oh my god, I hate you,” Jensen muttered. Jared beamed at him. “Look what it’s holding.”

Jensen pulled the tiny box from the bear’s hands and opened it to see an array of things. His eyes went straight to the guitar pick in the corner. “Jay, this is amazing! I love it.” He looked at Jared. “How’d you know?”

“I saw you looking at it when we went to the mall. You decided you had too many picks already, but I figured I could spoil you.”

Jensen hugged him tightly. There was a little leather notebook beneath that. “For your songs,” Jared explained.

“Why the bear?” Jensen asked. “The box would have been fine.”

“Remember when we went to the movies together? It was way back in July. And we went to the mall for dinner after and we walked past the toy store and the big bear was in the window and you laughed and called it the cheesiest thing, but when we went inside I saw you hold it and check the price tag. So I went back and bought it.”

Jensen looked up at Jared with so much love filling him up he almost melted. “You did?”

“Yeah. I was scared it would be sold if I didn’t go get it the next day. I was saving it for Christmas.”

Jensen hugged Jared tightly and lovingly. “I love it.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” Jensen choked. “You’re gonna make me cry.”

Jared giggled and nuzzled Jared’s neck. And as Jensen looked around the big family room, with a tree so big it looked like it could crush Mack, and his dad joking with Gerry about sports, and the two mothers gossiping, and the brothers throwing wrapping paper at their laughing little sisters, Jensen stared into Jared’s warm hazel eyes. Aside from his brain speaking over and over again, “I love Jared,” another thought went through Jensen’s mind.

Thank god I failed history.