Characters: Jared/Jensen, Danneel
Length: 11,100ish words
Summary: AU. When Jensen is suddenly left to take care of his sister's kids for the summer, he desperately needs help. Enter a stranger named Jared and his ability to make kids love him and turn Jensen's life upside down in the process.
Author’s Note: Written for j2_everafter and loosely based on the movie Mary Poppins. Thanks to the awesome mods for their hard work running this challenge!
Part One | Part Two
It was all Jared, with legs as tall as Mason on their own, could do to keep up with the little guy when he spotted the sign leading toward the elephant habitat. He was a little blur, dark brown curls bouncing as he darted around the other zoo-goers. But Jared was keeping up, so Jensen strolled at a more dignified pace with Lulu.
“So..I’ve been meaning to ask you... why Lulu?” Jensen looked down at his niece, noticed she had freckles just like him and his sister’s blue eyes, wide and trusting.
“The name?” Lulu shrugged. “Just like it better. It's different.”
Jensen could tell that was one of her goals in general. To be different. From the pink feathers pinned into her long dirty blonde hair down to the Chucks she’d drawn all over with markers, she was different than the other nine year olds Jensen had seen at the park and now around them at the zoo. She reminded him of Mackenzie at that age, now that he actually gave it some thought. He remembering making fun of her, as any older brother would.
He nodded. “I wonder - did your Mom ever tell you where your name came from?”
"She said it was a family name."
“We had a great aunt, your grandma’s sister. When we were kids, she used to sit for us sometimes. She was very old, and couldn’t hear that well, and well, I admit, we weren’t the best behaved at her house. Because we got away with a lot, y’know?”
Lulu shrugged one shoulder. “Yeah, I guess.”
“When I got a little older, I would beg not to go over there. Said it was too boring and I wanted to play at a friend’s house, regular boy stuff. But Mack still went. Turned out Auntie was teaching Mack how to sew.”
Perking up, Lulu looked over at him. “Mom’s teaching me how to sew! We made pillows right before she left. She promised we'd try a skirt next.” The frown came back and Jensen felt the mix of sadness and a little anger. This was not the summer Lulu had in mind, clearly.
He took a chance and reached for her hand. She didn’t pull back, but didn’t really hold on either. “And when she gets back, you'll do that, I’m sure. So anyway, Auntie Lauren turned out to be a really cool lady. She’d sewn clothes for all her kids, for friends, for us. Taught Mack a lot before she passed away.”
Lulu stared at Jensen for a few seconds, and then looked away. Her hand went a little tighter in his and he swung their hands between them.
She cocked her head to the side. “I hear trumpeting, Uncle Jensen. I think it’s Mason.”
“And I think it’s Jared. Let’s find out.”
Turned out, it was both of them. It was a tough call between who was getting more looks: the elephants or the little boy and the overgrown child each flailing their arms in front of their faces and making dramatic elephant noises.
Jensen and Lulu stood very still, just watching. And then they laughed. They laughed so hard Jensen got a stitch in his side, and when Jared met his eyes with the biggest grin he’d ever seen, he broke up all over again.
It was a great day.
“The whole week!?” Mason stared at Jensen in the rear view mirror. His words were echoed by everyone else in the car a moment later.
“Yep, little dude. I’m taking off the whole week. You people are having way too much fun without me. Making me jealous and bitter. Nobody wants that, right?”
“Nooooo!” A chorus of voices rang out in the car, including Jared’s, and Jensen laughed
This was easy. It was actually easy. They were great kids and they liked him. Jensen couldn’t get over how easy it was. He said as much to Jared as they cleaned up after dinner later that night and the kids watched TV.
“If you don’t mind my saying it, man, you were just overthinking it before. Trying too hard to be in charge instead of letting those kids love you. They want to. They want to know you, you get that?” Jared was washing out a saucepan, soap and water up his forearms and once again, Jensen had this feeling towards Jared that was almost a compulsion.
If only it was so easy to make Jared fall in love with him. “You’re right. Apparently, in all things kid-related, you’re a genius, Jay. I mean Jared. Sorry...” He looked away, embarrassed.
“Hey, no. My friends call me Jay. You should.” Jared paused. “And thanks, but you’re doing this yourself, Jensen. You’re letting them in, and they know it. Just go with it.”
Jensen hid his genuinely pleased smile and nodded as he put glasses in the dishwasher.
When Jared had headed home to study, and it was time for bed, Jensen thought he might follow Jared's lead and try a bedtime story. When he didn't just leave the bedroom as soon as they got in bed, the kids looked at him, curiousity clearly present. He perched on the edge of the bed, inexplicably nervous.
"So." He cleared his throat. "Y'all had fun today, right?"
"Yes!" Mason was clearly still riding his elephant high, not nearly as sleepy as he usually got at this time of night. Lulu nodded too, and he might have imagined it, but he thought her eyes on him were softer in some way.
Jensen ruffled Mason's curls, grinned at him. He really could barely see the surly kid he'd had in his car five weeks ago. He wasn't a moron. He knew that was mostly Jared's doing, but he also knew that this summer was really hard on the little guy. Much harder than it was on Jensen, and he felt a sense of shame that nearly knocked him back. He was going to man the fuck up and make sure it got better for these two. They were the closest he’d probably have to kids of his own, and he was wasting his chance.
"Anybody up for a bedtime story?" They both nodded, glancing at each other. This was new, and Jensen felt a little pressure. "I was thinking I'd read something, but you know what stories you would both like even more, which I have tons of stored up here in my noggin?" He tapped his forehead, eyebrows raised.
"What?" Lulu sat up a little.
Jensen leaned in, looking both ways like someone could overhear. "Embarrassing stories about your Mom. Interested?"
Mason's little mouth popped open and he laughed, but it was Lulu who really lit up.
"Yeah, I thought so. So, did she ever tell you about how she decided she was a superhero and wore a cape for an entire summer when she was six?"
Both heads shook in unison.
"Well, this will be the story of a young girl named Mackenzie who preferred, for a brief and embarrassing time, to be called Princess Mack Attack - and of course of the awesome older brother who refused to be her sidekick..."
They were laughing already, and Jensen felt the words begin to flow like they usually only did while he was tapping away at his computer. It was kind of liberating to share it with someone. The story was a rousing success, and Jensen felt like one, too.
The week only got better from there. They went into D.C again, rented bikes and rode them down the Mall, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, and they were all sweaty and disgusting by the end of it, but still had enough energy to turn back and stop at the carousel and take a few spins. Ice cream running sticky over hands and faces finished the day before they jumped on the Metro and rode back out to Virginia.
Jared stayed later than usual that day, having dinner and chatting until the kids went to bed. He cut out then, but he seemed reluctant to even leave, teasing Jensen about his sunburn and laughing over stupid stories they both had from undergrad. Jensen hadn’t forgotten his crush, by any means, but he was pleased to realize that even though he was more and more taken with Jared by the day, he was also gaining an awesome friend from the deal.
He threw a quick wave as Jared got into his car and went back inside, still smiling.
“Uncle Jenseeeeen. Story time!” Lulu’s voice carried through the house and he grinned, taking the stairs two at a time. He’d been poking away at the Great American Novel in his free time for years. Maybe, maybe the story waiting to get out of him wasn’t for grown-ups after all. He grinned at the idea of it, of the happiness it lit in him.
Mini golf, hiking around at Great Falls, a drive to the midweek farmer’s market to pick out more fruit and vegetables than the four of them could possibly eat and by Thursday, Jensen wanted to be on vacation forever.
Friday morning, the phone rang when Jensen was barely awake. He cursed, thinking it could be his editor, but it was actually Jared.
“Mm, hey Jared.”
“Shit, I woke you up.”
“No, no. I’m awake. I swear.”
Jared’s laugh was the laugh of a morning person, and Jensen still liked this guy, damn it. “If you say so. But anyway. Uh, listen, you can say no...” Jared was more serious all of a sudden, and it woke Jensen right up. “But uh, they’re painting the halls and all in my building, new carpet, the works. Including the apartments.”
“Right, yeah. You mentioned that was coming up, didn’t you?”
“I did.” Jared cleared his throat. “What I failed to mention is that my friend Chad is about as reliable as well, something that’s not even remotely reliable. I was supposed to stay with him for a few days, but he’s taking off for Atlantic City for the weekend, and his roommate’s girlfriend is staying over and -”
“Jared. You can stay here. I’ve got the room over the garage with the sofabed, you know that. It’s yours. Long as you need it.” Jensen rolled onto his back in his bed, running one hand through his hair. Talking to Jared while lying in bed with morning wood was a special torture. Jared’s voice when he responded only made Jensen’s hand move to trail across his stomach and bare sleep-warm skin.
“I can’t thank you enough. I - thanks, Jensen.” Jared was happy and speaking so nice and soft, and Jensen loved him, he was afraid. How goddamn inconvenient.
“Thank me by making me breakfast when you get over here. I want pancakes.” He smirked at the phone.
“Yes, sir.” He could see Jared’s mock salute through the phone and chuckled softly.
“Less talk, more pancakes.” He pretended to be gruff, and it fooled exactly no one.
“I’ll grab my stuff and come. Try to get up and be decent by then?”
“I’m not still in bed!” Jensen was absolutely still in bed.
“Liar.” And Jared hung up, laughing.
Jensen dropped his phone on the bed and scrubbed his hands over his face. He was so fucked.
Jensen told the kids that Jared was staying for a few days over their pancakes, and that caused a sticky syrup explosion of sorts. There was also some chair dancing, and Jensen could plainly see how it made Jared duck his head, a pleased smile hidden in shadow. It made Jensen want to reach over and brush his hair off his face and kiss him silly. Having Jared in his house twenty four/seven was going to be a challenge to his self-control, but Jensen didn’t hit on straight guys. He reminded himself of that. Again.
“So, what does Danni think of you taking all this time off and not spending any of it with her?” The conversation had meandered into possible plans and Jared mentioned the dogs could use a bit of a jog before they went. And this led to Danni’s dogs and now to her. Jensen didn’t follow.
“She’s working, though. So...I mean, I hadn’t really thought of it?” The sentence turned into a question, because Jensen was still working on minimal coffee intake. A crappy thought occurred to him. The way Jared had gone all pink when he first met Danni, the look in his eyes. Was he trying to get Jensen to hook them up?
Because Jensen was a good guy, but that was too much for him. No way could he put his best friend with his unrequited crush and then witness the big, gooshy love story unfold. Maybe that made him a dick, but too bad.
Jared finished his mug of coffee and cut into another pancake. “Oh, I just figured you’d want to invite her. If we go to the park tomorrow, I’m sure Sadie and Harley would love to see little Icky and Oscar.”
“Yeah.” Jensen couldn’t keep his voice from going a little flat. “Yeah, sure. I’ll call her later.” He turned to Mason and Lulu, desperate to squelch this conversation. “So, what do you two want to do today?”
There was a clamor of responses, but when it came down to it, they both really wanted to go back to the zoo.
“The zoo? Again?”
Mason nodded so hard Jensen worried his head might come off. “Please, please!”
Lulu shrugged, looking at her brother. It was fond, this look, and Jensen realized he loved every person at this table. It was a little hard to think about in his addled state.
He looked at Jared, who glanced at Mason and back to Jensen. He gave a little half-shrug, nodded.
“Well, okay. The zoo it is!”
The sun was blazing all day and Jensen could just about feel the freckles popping up on his face, and his skin burning. He made them all go in the reptile house for awhile so he could get a breather. Bought Mason the biggest stuffed elephant they had at the gift shop and t-shirts for everyone, including Jared. As they walked along, sipping on huge cups of lemonade and headed for the big cats, Jensen suddenly felt Jared’s thumb, a little wet with condensation, press lightly against his cheek, and then lift off.
“Definitely getting burned, Jensen.” Jared was sweaty, hair clinging to his temples, t-shirt damp. And still, Jensen wanted him.
“Yeah, and ouch.” Jensen cringed at the heat in his skin, and missed that little touch from Jared. It was getting a little sad how much he craved it.
“I think it’s possible we’re about done here. Even Mason is starting to wilt a little.” It wasn’t that late, but Jensen thought Jared had a point. Mason was a little flushed, so Jensen made the call.
“Okay, kids. Let’s see the tigers and head out, what do you say?” He braced for the groans, but they didn’t come.
“Okay, Uncle J.” And Mason skipped off in front of the group as they reached the tiger habitat and Jensen, startled, looked at Jared.
“Did he just listen to me? He did, right?” Jensen blinked.
Jared put his arm around Jensen’s shoulders and gave him a little shake. “That he did.” He winked as he pulled away and snuck up on Mason, swinging him high in the air to the little guy’s delight.
Jensen felt a hand slide into his and looked down. Lulu smiled at him, sipping on her lemonade.
He didn’t see how it could get better.
Jensen didn’t see how this could get any worse. He was sitting there with Lulu on a bench and Jared and Danni were standing twenty feet away with their dogs, chatting away. He couldn’t even hear them, but the smiles on both their faces were enough to make something go heavy in his gut. Mason was running in a circle around them, and Icarus was chasing.
“Uncle Jensen, do you have a girlfriend?” Lulu’s voice yanked him out of his thoughts abruptly.
He hadn’t thought to wonder if Mackenzie had ever mentioned his orientation to the kids. These kids trusted him though, and he wasn’t about to lie, not about something this important.
“No, Lulu.” He could have left it at that, but it felt wrong to avoid the topic. Too much like his parents treated him. Turning to her, he half-smiled. “I don’t know if you know about this, but did you know that sometimes girls like girls, and boys like boys?”
“Oh, you’re gay? My English teacher Mr. Nelson is gay. His partner works in the library. He’s Mr. Bellingham.” Lulu kicked her feet in front of her while Jensen reeled.
“Um, yes. That’s right. I’m gay.”
“So, do you have a boyfriend?”
Blinking, Jensen shook his head. “No, not right now.”
“How about Jared? He’s really tall and awesome!” Lulu lit up and pointed at him, and Jensen gently lowered her hand.
“I...yes he is. But I don’t think he’s gay, sweetheart.”
She frowned. “That seems odd. I’ve seen Mr. Nelson eating lunch with Mr. Bellingham and they look at each other and smile, and that’s how Jared looks at you, and how you look at him. Are you sure?”
Jensen looked at Danni and Jared, and Danni was laughing, hand slapping at Jared’s shoulder. Jared looked over at Jensen right then, and the smile was contagious. Jared waved, the dork, and Jensen wanted to do it back. He nodded.
“See? Like that.” Lulu leaned over to tie her shoe. “Also, I was thinking. Maybe you could call me Lauren for awhile. I just want to, y’know try it. Okay? Cool. I’m going to throw the ball for Sadie!” And she was up, and Jensen was sitting there shell-shocked and by himself and wondering how a nine year old could have just left him speechless.
Her last bit caught up with him. Lauren. He felt warm and pleased, and had a feeling Mack might not mind the change one bit.
While he was still reeling, Danni flopped into the seat next to him. Jared was surrounded by four dogs and two kids, all equally rambunctious, and looked to be having the time of his life.
“Tell me why, oh why, you haven’t taken a big ol’ bite out of him yet. He’s goddamn delicious.” She shook her head, hand slapping down on Jensen’s thigh.
“What, you mean the guy you’ve been flirting with for the last half hour? Who’s been flirting back?” He was sure Lulu - Lauren - was mistaken. He and Jared were friends.
Danni didn’t answer and when he turned his head, she was staring at him. “You’re completely defective. He’s not into me. I’d be into him, but I don’t have what he’s looking for.”
Jensen snorted and looked over at her. Her long auburn hair was pulled up in a ponytail, and her yellow sundress showed off everything she had. He knew she was gorgeous. And funny, and smart. “And what’s that exactly?”
“A dick. You dick.”
“Why are you calling me a dick? And please. That’s not -” Jensen hesitated. “But he likes you?”
“He doesn’t.” Danni leaned back, throwing one arm across the top of the bench behind Jensen’s head, and flicking his opposite ear. “You two are made for each other, since he apparently thought you and I were a couple.”
Jensen sat straight up, brushing her hand off his ear. “What?”
“Yeah, well, he met us at the park together, and made an assumption. And so did you. And you know what happens when you assume?”
Sighing, Jensen answered. “I make an ass out of u and me.”
“No, you miss out on that fine ass right over there. I mean, damn, Jensen. Get it together.”
“Danni, just because he’s not into you doesn’t mean he’s gay.”
She looked at him.
“Okay, fine. But it doesn’t mean he’s into me.” He crossed his arms, tried to ignore the way his heart was slowly hammering its way up his throat.
She tsk’ed. “You have it bad for him, don’t you?”
He resisted it for a minute. Jensen had never admitted to anyone but himself how he felt. But yeah. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.” He rubbed his hands together and cut a quick glance at Jared. Who was now flat on the ground in the grass, covered in dogs and children.
“Real, real bad.”
The kids were in bed, exhausted after a long day and a couple quick baths. Jensen had to remind himself that Jared wasn’t leaving. He was staying over. It was nerve-wracking in a way it hadn’t been, even this morning. After the conversations with Danni and Lauren, he was afraid to even look at Jared, for fear of what he might see. Jared was unattainable before. Off limits. And now. Jensen had been safe from rejection, but not anymore. It made his palms sweat.
Hours of thinking about it had left him tense and edgy. He was sitting on the couch when Jared brought Harley and Sadie back in from the yard, staring blankly at the TV.
“You must be really into armadillos. Not sure you’ve blinked in a minute.” Jared was standing near the door to the back porch, looking at him as he took the leashes off the dogs and sent them to the kitchen for water.
Jensen jerked his eyes over to Jared and then back at the TV, which did in fact have armadillos on it. He wasn’t even sure what channel he was on. He laughed.
“They are most definitely my favorite reptile. Yep.”
Jared came closer, sat on the couch, and even the action of the cushions dipping under his weight made Jensen nervous. He’d never felt like this, not ever, not over anyone.
“Amazing, since they are actually mammals.”
“Know-it-all.” Jensen might have blushed at being caught in a big fib. He hadn’t watched a second of this show.
“Hey, zoology major over here. I can’t help my extensive knowledge of the animal kingdom.”
“Yeah, yeah. Hey, you want somethin’ to drink?”
“Uh, not just yet. I wanted to - “ Jared paused, and then coughed and continued. “Wanted to talk to you about something.” He reached for the remote and turned off the TV.
It was too dark in the room and they were too close, and Jensen felt like rabbiting. Avoid, avoid. That was his way. Family got weird, he moved away. Work was stressful, he worked from home. Kids freaked him out, he kept them at arm’s length. He was a fucking zen master of avoidance.
Apparently, Jared wasn’t going to indulge his need to dodge, because he just kept talking. “I thought you and Danneel were dating.”
“I thought you wanted to go out with her.” Jensen’s voice came out a lot steadier than he expected. He felt better because he wasn’t looking at Jared, just hearing his soft, deep voice.
“Never did. Never would.” Jared shimmied a few inches closer on the couch and Jensen could actually feel the heat of him.
“Looks like we were both confused. That’s - that’s - good to get that cleared up.” Jensen ran both hands down his thighs, a nervous gesture. He stood up, paced across the room. Avoid.
“I mean, it was easy to assume that. You were almost blushing when you first met her that day. Looked like a lovesick puppy.” He gestured at Jared, barely looking at him.
“Jensen.” Jared was on his feet.
“I mean, I’ve seen guys react to her before, so I knew - I thought I knew -” Jensen backed up toward the kitchen.
Jared stopped moving. He wasn’t very far away, hands on hips. “Jensen. You do realize the first time I saw her was also the first time I saw you, right?”
That got Jensen to lift his gaze. Jared was damn close to him.“Oh. Oh.”
“Yeah. Oh.” Jared was right there, smile fond. He lifted a hand, let his thumb brush the side of Jensen’s neck in a slow stroke. “You tend to miss the obvious sometimes. Overthink it.”
Despite the absolute shudder that went through him at the contact, Jensen backed up, stumbled when his back hit the wall. Indignant, Jensen opened his mouth to protest. “I do not - I was making a perfectly logical conclusion and -” He stopped. “Kind of digging my own hole here, aren’t I?” He felt sheepish and frustrated that he’d misunderstood and oh god, Jared’s hand was back, heavy on his waist.
“So, maybe you could stop thinking and just - " Jared’s mouth touched his, light and careful. Pulled back an inch.
Jensen wasn’t breathing, much less thinking. Almost six weeks of wanting, and he could have had this the whole time, maybe. He was an idiot. Who needed to stop thinking. He stared at Jared, eyes locked on that mouth. “No thinking. Check. I can do that.” He kissed Jared this time, and it was fairytale, fireworks, fucking perfection. He yanked him in close, and moaned under his breath when Jared pressed against him, hard and heavy. The sheer weight and heat of Jared had Jensen starting to harden in his jeans, to scrabble his hands into Jared’s mop of hair and hold on tight.
They turned the corner from exploration to making out to full-on frottage complete with grunting and biting in a matter of seconds. When the kisses broke, Jensen had to turn his head to get air, to keep from passing out. Jared’s mouth latched onto his neck, his hands traveling down to Jensen’s ass, and damn that felt good, and damn was this fast.
Damn. Thinking again. “Jared. Jared, is this - oh, shit.” Because Jared was lifting him now, hands under his butt, hoisting him off his feet and back into the wall, and the pressure was intense.
“Do you want this, Jensen?” The question was pressed into Jensen’s sweaty skin with soft lips. “Because I do.”
Jensen wrapped his legs around Jared’s waist, which was apparently the right answer by the actual growl that came from him. The fact that he was being manhandled against the wall of his living room by the kids’ babysitter and it was the hottest actual thing that had ever happened to Jensen in his life made whatever happened next a-fucking-okay in his book.
Jared spun away from the wall and Jensen nearly fell and then somehow they were on the couch and Jensen was on top and all was good in the world. He stared down at Jared, looked at the flush on his face, the way his hair was wild against the couch cushion, and rocked his hips down into him just to see his eyes roll back.
“We’re moving kinda fast, Jay.”
“Six goddamn weeks, Jensen.” Jared’s hands were on his jeans, button already popped. “If I’d only known - if you’d known -”
“Good point, and yes, we’re both morons. Agreed and agreed. Let’s go upstairs.” Jensen tried to pull away to stand up and Jared’s hands went tight on his hips, possessive. “Not escaping. Standing up, caveman.”
They got to the bottom of the stairs before they fell back into kissing, and Jared was the one who got his wits about him, shoving his hand between their mouths and nodding up the steps. “Kids are asleep up there, gotta be quiet. Can you do quiet?”
Jensen nodded, hand sliding down to cup Jared through his pants, eliciting a strangled sound from him. “Can you?”
Swallowing hard, Jared nodded and they went up the stairs as quiet as they could before escaping into Jensen’s room and closing the door carefully behind them.
They looked at each other, chests heaving with great shaky breaths, and Jensen shook his head. Smiled. “If I say something stupid right now, could you maybe write it off to the fact that my dick is using all the blood that should be in my brain at the moment?”
Jared’s eyes dropped to the dick in question and slid back up again to meet Jensen’s. “Yep.”
“If this is a one time thing for you, just a fuck-and-run, I’m not - it’s not happening. I’m a little more, uh, invested than that.” And he was. Even after six weeks of thinking he had no chance, of assuming he was simply torturing himself, Jensen had still managed to conclude that one time was never going to be enough. A taste was only gonna make him hungrier.
Jensen shoved his hand across the back of his neck and then looked up. Jared was on him in the next breath, had him laid out flat on his back on the bed in the one after that. Jensen laughed, felt the relief threaten to crack him down the middle.
“You’re so busy thinking, you can’t even see how fucking nuts I am over you. I love those kids, but I could make more money working at Target, man.”
“I could. But the manager is a fifty year old woman who was staring at my ass. I wanted you to be the one staring at it.”
The smile was dimpled and perfect and Jensen’s pants were getting yanked down to his knees. Jared had his dick out and in his mouth before Jensen had time to process the action and he bucked his hips, crying out. Jared was unrelenting, sucking him down like he was under some kind of time limit for making Jensen go stupid.
He set a landspeed record, with Jensen’s hands buried in his hair and a choked cry as he came, barely able to warn Jared with a whisper before he lost it.
“That was fast. Shit, sorry. I’ve been - “
“Yeah, me too. C’mon.” Jared kissed him, the taste musky and bitter and Jensen couldn’t get enough, licking deep in his mouth. He shoved his hand down the front of Jared’s jeans, felt the steel rod masquerading as his cock and stroked. Five good strokes and wet heat was shooting up his arm, and Jared was moaning in his ear, hot and heavy.
They collapsed on the bed, Jared rolled over on his back. Just breathing.
Finally, Jared rolled up onto his elbow and looked down at Jensen, eyes trailing over Jensen’s well-kissed mouth and down to his rumpled clothes. “Damn. Didn’t even get you naked.”
Jensen laughed, and he laughed and he actually had to cover his mouth to muffle the sound. It was a good, free feeling in his gut. He wouldn’t dare say it yet, but he had been right, sitting there at the breakfast table over pancakes. He was in love. All the bells and whistles, birds singing, full on embarrassing pet names, in love.
“Next time.” Jensen pulled him down, stole a kiss.
Mack flew in the next week to meet the kids and then fly all of them home to Portland, and Jensen had a hard time with it. The only person surprised by his reaction was Mackenzie, who hugged her brother tighter than he think she ever had. It hurt to see her go, to not have more time with her.
But the worst was saying goodbye to the kids. Kneeling down in the middle of the terminal before they went through security, he pulled them both into a tight hug, willing himself not to get teary. For their sakes, of course. But he was gonna miss them. Miss the things he hated at first, like their running around and making messes in the kitchen and splashing water all over the bathroom. Miss the way they hung on his every word during every bedtime story, breathless questions and laughter bubbling up. Miss the way they opened up to him as the time went on, and he found out they weren’t just his sister’s kids. They were parts of him and his grandparents and his Aunt Lauren and yes, even his parents. And it was good what he saw.
“Come visit us, Uncle Jensen. Okay?” Lauren whispered in his ear, and he felt one of the feathers in her hair tickle his face as she pulled back, eyes wet.
“Promise, Lauren. Cross my heart.” He did a little x over his heart right as Mason squeezed him and let go.
“Go see Ellie for me so she doesn’t get lonely.” Mason looked so serious, Jensen had to stop and think what he meant. A quick peek over his head showed Jared holding his arm up to his face, doing the elephant trunk bit.
Of course, the baby elephant. “Will do, little man.”
It turned out watching Jared say goodbye to the kids was actually a little harder. He talked to them each so quietly, Jensen couldn’t make it out, but the hugs they gave him were genuine and fierce. And boy did Mack have questions for him if the looks she was giving him over Jared’s head were any indication. Her smirk said she approved, especially when Jared then got the kids laughing within seconds, tears forgotten.
Another quick squeeze for Mack and a wave to the kids and he and Jared stood there watching them go through security until they waved from the other side. And they were gone.
Jensen had never thought his house seemed quiet until he got home to it that day. Then, in came Jared behind him, and the dogs were let in from the backyard with happy barks and tags jangling, and it was okay. Better than okay.
Once the dogs were satisfied they had been greeted properly, Jared turned and walked up to Jensen. “Hey.”
Jensen nodded. It hurt, but it was a good hurt. The kind that meant you had people you loved enough to miss when they weren’t there.
“You know, last week, I kept thinking how grateful I was to find you that day in the park, how much those kids needed someone like you. How much it sucked that you were maybe going to leave when they did.”
“Pretty sure you’re stuck with me now.” Jared wrapped his arms around Jensen, pulling him in, heat and warmth radiating from him, as always. He pressed a kiss against Jensen’s neck. “So.”
“So?” Jensen’s interest went up at the rough tone.
Jared bit his lip, eyes searching Jensen’s. “Already know you can be quiet.” He let his hands roam down Jensen’s back, the intention shifting just like that. “Been wanting to hear how loud you can be.”
“Oh, god.” Jensen trailed into a moan as Jared bit softly along his neck, trailing heat.
Jared lifted his head, eyes dancing. “It’s a start.”
Jensen nodded to himself.
It was definitely a start.