Jensen sits in his car for five minutes before he chickens out. But he really does need to go to the room, if only because he’s out of clothes and most of his textbooks are there. Well, that and he apparently no longer has a place to stay.
He pulls his phone out of his pocket and dials a familiar number.
“Hey Chad,” Jensen sighs, reaching up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He sucks so fucking hard right now. Josh is right – he is a coward.
“Oh. Hey dude. Uh, how you holdin’ up?” Chad asks in a sympathetic tone that sounds sort of odd coming from him. He hasn’t seen Chad much since the break up, since he apparently took Team Padalecki when Sophia joined the Ackles camp.
“I’ve been better,” Jensen says, laughing humorously. “Listen, I – uh, need to get some stuff from the room. I was wondering if you could do me a favor and get him out of there for a few. Like, go to the student union and get some food or something.” He sounds so pathetic, even to his own ears.
“Dude, this is getting fucking ridiculous. You have to talk to him eventually,” Chad replies.
“I know, I just – “
“Jared is in a sad state, man. I went over there last night and he was just fucking lying in the dark listening to Death Cab. I am not even shitting you. Death Cab for Cutie, Jensen. He probably wishes it had been raining so he could have been staring out the fucking window. It’s pathetic, is what it is.”
“I’m just so sick of all the pain.”
“Alright! Shit. I’ll go up there and see if I can get him to go,” Chad says. “It’s taco night, anyway. I’ll text you when we we’re gone, you weeping little girl.”
“I don’t even know why I’m friends with you,” Jensen sighs. He can practically see Chad grinning smarmily on the other end.
“Because I’m fucking awesome. Later!”
Jensen hears a click in his ear and he rolls his eyes as he tosses the phone on the passenger seat. He flicks on the stereo and leans back, reaching up to rub at his temples.
It’s about fifteen minutes later when his phone buzzes. all clear dickburn, reads the text from Chad. Jensen grits his teeth and reminds himself that Chad is an excellent friend.
He’s lucky enough not to really pass anyone in the hall, and when he reaches their door he takes a deep breath. He bows his head as he pushes the door open, shuffling his feet as he heads inside.
He starts a little when he hears a slight gasp and looks up to see Jared staring at him, mouth agape from his place on the bed. Jensen leans back against the door, fingers in a death grip around the handle as his heart beats rapidly against his ribcage.
“Jen,” Jared gasps, the one syllable holding relief, regret, pain – and various other emotions Jensen isn’t prepared to deal with. He doesn’t want to see Jared’s wide, dark eyes or flushed cheeks.
“Have you talked to Chad?” Jensen asks, and Jared furrows his brow as he pulls himself into a sitting position.
“Not since this morning,” Jared replies slowly, obviously confused as to why they’re talking about Chad when Jensen has suddenly shown up after steadfastly refusing to speak to him for the better part of a week. “Why?”
Jensen sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose as he extracts his phone from the pocket of his pajama pants. He creates a text and his skin feels too tight under Jared’s stare. You’re an asshole, he sends to Chad.
Jared and Jensen engage in some sort of hideously awkward staring contest until Jensen’s phone vibrates in his hand.
it had 2 b done dude. TALK 2 HIM.
Jensen swallows hard and slips his phone in his pocket, looking back up at Jared. He looks so hopeful, eyeing Jensen like he’s the answer to all his problems – like Jensen isn’t some insecure, fucked up loser that isn’t good enough for him.
“How’s your eye?” Jensen asks awkwardly, and he feels his cheeks heat up. The swelling is gone, the cut is nearly healed, and the bruises have faded to a mixture of purple and yellow hues. Jared always was a fast healer.
“It’s fine, I guess,” Jared says, face breaking out into an unexpected grin. He looks so happy to see Jensen, like he’s already forgiven Jensen for all the pain he’s caused. He’s so beautiful, all flushed skin and hopeful, bright eyes. Jensen doesn’t know how he lasted so long without seeing him. He wants to bury his fingers in Jared’s hair, kiss him and never come up for air.
He realizes then, as his eyes involuntarily trace the curve of Jared’s smile, that he isn’t leaving tonight. No matter how scared and confused he is, no matter how unsure of himself he may be – the thought of letting Jared out of his sight again is too much to bear.
He takes a deep breath, lets go of the door handle, and takes a step forward.
Jared gets up off of the bed and Jensen lets out a nervous laugh that bubbles up out of his throat before he can help it. His vision blurs slightly and he blinks a few times. Jensen is moving before he can stop himself, walking up to Jared and throwing his arms around Jared’s neck.
He hears Jared’s sharp intake of breath, hands settling on Jensen’s hips for just a moment before wrapping around his waist. Jensen fits his forehead into the curve of Jared’s neck and inhales deeply. It’s like every piece of the puzzle has just fallen into place – he’s all put back together, whole in Jared’s arms.
He sucks in a shaky breath, squeezes Jared tighter and tries to convey I love you and I miss you and please don’t ever let me let you go without any words. Jared reaches up to cup the back of Jensen’s head, kissing his forehead soft and timid, and it sounds a lot like I promise and I need you so much, don’t ever leave.
Countless seconds tick by as they just stand there, embracing like they’re making up for lost time. Jared is so warm, so strong wrapped all around him. He can feel his eyelashes clumping with unshed tears and he pulls away, chuckling softly and running his fingers through his hair.
“James just brought me half a pizza,” Jared says after a few seconds of fidgeting awkwardly. “You can have half. I mean, half of my half. It’s uh, pepperoni and sausage. And Ghostbusters is about to come on. I was gonna watch it. And maybe you could watch it, too. With me – I mean.”
“Okay,” Jensen says, smiling a little. Jared nods and gestures towards his bed. He grabs the pizza box and crawls onto it, sitting up near the headboard. Their television is positioned kitty-corner from Jared’s bed, so Jensen can sit near the end of the bed and still see okay.
Jared doesn’t seem to mind the seating arrangement. He just sets the box down between them and flips it open, revealing half of a greasy pizza. Jared takes a slice and shoves half of it into his mouth, grabbing the remote with his free hand.
They eat in silence for the first half hour of the movie, and tension crackles between them in a way it never has before. Jensen wipes his greasy fingers on his pajama pants and chews nervously on his bottom lip.
“Okay, shit,” Jared says, breaking the silence. “I wasn’t gonna say anything because I’m so glad you’re here, but nothing happened that night. I swear.”
Jensen blinks, looks over at Jared’s earnest and honest expression. There is no trace of a lie in his expressive eyes, and Jensen feels like an ass.
“I know,” Jensen says, clearing his throat and knitting his brows together. “I realized pretty quick that you wouldn’t do that to me.”
“Then I don’t get it,” Jared says, obviously hurt and a little confused. “Why did you stay away for so long?”
“Because I’m a selfish idiot with years worth of unfounded emotional baggage?” Jensen says, laughing nervously and fiddling with the tie on his sweatpants. “But mainly because – well, because I got scared. It’s only been six months and you mean absolutely everything to me. I sort of realized that you pretty much hold my happiness in your hands, and I just couldn’t imagine how much it would hurt to lose you even further down the line.”
He can’t even look at Jared as his cheeks heat up. He’s ashamed of himself for treating Jared like this, for causing him so much pain just because of his own shortcomings. His breath hitches and he lets out a shaky breath, bringing up a hand to cover his eyes. He feels stretched thin and so vulnerable, like he’s seconds away from falling.
“Jen,” Jared sighs, and Jensen risks a glance over at him. His brows are furrowed and he looks sort of frustrated. Jensen swallows hard and steels himself. He really wouldn’t be surprised if Jared told him it was over. “I’m not sure what I have to do to convince you that what we have is pretty epic. It’s not going anywhere. Unless you let it,” he adds softly.
“I know,” Jensen says, swallowing thickly. Jared sets the pizza box on the floor and scoots a little closer, reaching out to take Jensen’s hand in his own, interlocking their fingers. It’s like electricity shooting up Jensen’s arm, and he squeezes.
“So what made you decide to come back?” Jared asks softly, stroking the back of Jensen’s hand with his thumb. Jensen looks down at their joined hands and bites his lip, deciding not to tell Jared that he didn’t really make the decision to walk back into their room. It’s unimportant, anyway. As soon as he saw Jared, he knew he couldn’t last another day without him.
“Honestly?” Jensen asks, looking up at him. “I’m still scared. But whatever happens will happen. I just know I need to be with you.”
“Do you have any idea how much my life would suck without you?” Jared asks. “If there’s anything this past week has taught me, it’s that you are never fucking getting rid of me.” Jensen looks up at Jared through his lashes, relaxing at just the sight of his smile.
“You promise?” He asks softly, his voice barely above a whisper. Jared smiles indulgently, leaning in to cup Jensen’s cheek, thumb stroking across his cheekbone.
“Hell yes,” he says, leaning in closer. His eyes flick from Jensen’s mouth to his eyes and back. He can feel Jared’s breath warm on his lips and Jensen licks his own instinctively. His heart beats a little faster, like this is their first kiss all over again. “But only if you kiss me.”
Jensen brings his hands up to put them on Jared’s cheeks, closing the last few centimeters between them to press his lips to Jared’s. The feeling is overwhelming – a whirling rush of emotions that hit him all at once.
He’s laughing suddenly, a bubbly sound that tumbles out against Jared’s smile. He’s just so relieved, suddenly happy after a week of feeling like he’d never smile again. Jared presses their foreheads together, his arms circling Jensen’s waist and pulling him closer. He wraps his arms around Jared’s neck, pressing his lips to the mole next to his nose before kissing him again.
Jared’s tongue traces Jensen’s bottom lip softly and Jensen parts his lips, allowing Jared to sweep his tongue into Jensen’s mouth, tangle them together. They kiss until they are out of breath and then some, mouths only parting to sneak much needed oxygen.
Eventually Jared pulls them down onto the bed so that they’re laying side by side, limbs all tangled together. It never goes any further than kissing, and when they finally pull apart Jensen is panting, lips swollen and tingling as he smiles. Jared grins, lips skimming Jensen’s temple before he lets his head drop onto the pillow.
Jensen rests his head on Jared’s shoulder, lying almost completely on top of him. He just closes his eyes and breathes in deep.
He knows this isn’t an easy fix. Their problems aren’t going to go away overnight. Jensen is still irrationally afraid of what the future might bring, but it’s hard to care when he’s completely wrapped up in Jared.
“This feels good,” Jensen mumbles, eyes slipping shut as Jared rubs his back in slow circles. He feels Jared’s lips press against the top of his head and his own lips curve up into a smile.
“I am a fan of the cuddling,” Jared says a few moments later, fingertips stroking up Jensen’s arm. “But can we maybe cuddle with my dick in you? I mean, it’s been awhile.”
Jensen’s eyes snap open as he rolls onto his side and props himself up on one arm, staring at Jared incredulously. Jared grins wide and happy, pink tongue peeking out from between his slightly uneven teeth. Jensen rolls his eyes, grinning involuntarily.
“You asshole,” he says, but the grin doesn’t slip from his face. He is slightly relieved, because sex is the furthest thing from his mind. He isn’t sure why – he knows that make up sex should come standard right about now, but he really just wants to lay here with Jared, to slow down and think about things.
“It’s called a joke, Jen!” Jared laughs, hand reaching up to curve around Jensen’s hip like he can’t bear not to touch. “Just breaking the tension.”
Jensen laughs, reaching down to pinch Jared’s hip hard enough to bruise. Jared yelps, his body jerking up into Jensen’s and knocking him off balance. Jensen feels himself slipping, eyes widening as he grabs onto Jared. He falls and drags Jared down with him, fingers digging into his forearms.
They hit the floor with a thump, eyes watering from laughing so hard. Jared rolls on top of him, reaching up to place his hands on Jensen’s neck, thumbs skimming across either side of his jaw. The laughter dies down and they stare into each other’s eyes for a moment, silly grins turning into soft, private smiles.
“Welcome home,” Jared whispers, and leans down to press their lips together again.
Jared wakes up slowly, easing into consciousness. The first thing he realizes is that the bed is empty. The sheets are cold. He doesn’t dare open his eyes.
Dread forms in the pit of his stomach, leftover from the week of pessimism. When he finally lets his eyes slip open, he nearly laughs at his own foolishness. There is a note propped up on the nightstand, simply reading smoking. Jensen thinks it’s stupid to sign a note when it’s obvious who it’s from.
Jared rolls out of bed and stretches, back popping pleasantly. He’s a little antsy not being near Jensen, so he steps into his flip-flops and scratches his belly as he makes his way downstairs. He thought maybe Jensen would slow down on the smoking once he had to go up and down two flights of stairs just to have a smoke, and he has cut back a little. He still smokes like a chimney when he’s nervous. Or scared.
The air is crisp and cool, Thanksgiving right around the corner, and Jared shivers slightly. Jensen is sitting on the bottom step, his back to Jared as he brings a cigarette up to his lips. Usually, this would be where Jared pounces on him, wraps his arms around Jensen’s neck and risks a cigarette burn as he flops all of his weight down onto him.
But the tense line of Jensen’s back reminds Jared that he doesn’t know where exactly they stand, not really. So instead he just sits on the step next to him, close enough to feel the heat radiating from his body but not close enough to touch. Jensen exhales wispy smoke and then looks over at Jared. He looks gorgeous and sleepy, lips puffy and hair sticking up at all angles.
“I was just about to come back up,” Jensen says, but there is a slightly guilty edge to his tone, like he considered not doing so. He scratches the back of his head with the hand holding the cigarette, and the proximity of fire to hair makes Jared incredibly nervous. “What are you doing down here?”
“Well,” Jared starts, knocking their shoulders together playfully. “I was hoping if I played my cards right, I could get a kiss that tastes like an ashtray. And maybe a little lung cancer.” Jensen rolls his eyes, but he’s smirking as he stubs out the cigarette. “You know I wish you’d quit.”
“I know,” Jensen says, sticking his lighter back into the half-empty cigarette pack. “And I’ll try. But now is not the time to cut off my nicotine supply.”
“Okay,” Jared says lamely, picking at the hem of his tee shirt. His skin feels too tight and he feels awkward in a way he hasn’t since his first growth spurt. But even then, he wasn’t awkward around Jensen. This is a very new and very uncomfortable feeling.
“You really wanna kiss me even though I taste like an ashtray?” Jensen says, sounding sort of skeptical. Jared doesn’t look up from his lap, shrugging his shoulders slightly and hating the tension crackling between them.
“I always want to kiss you,” Jared mumbles. “No matter what.”
Silence hangs between them for a few moments, and then Jensen’s hand comes up to rest on the back of Jared’s neck, squeezing gently. Jensen leans in, pressing soft lips against Jared’s temple. Jared turns his head and Jensen kisses him, dry and chaste. Jared brings his hand up to clutch at the back of Jensen’s shirt, nearly crying out in relief when Jensen’s tongue parts his lips and dips inside. He does taste like an ashtray, stale and acidic, but Jared can’t get enough.
They kiss for a long time, ignoring the cold seeping into their bones in favor of the warm heat connecting their mouths. Just when Jared thinks he’s going to pass out from lack of oxygen, a loud shriek breaks them apart.
“So, it’s true!” Sandy squeals, and throws herself onto their laps. Jared coughs and splutters as she slings her arms around them both. “Josh called me and told me you were here. I’m so happy for you guys!”
She kisses them both on the cheek and Jensen shifts her onto Jared’s lap, reaching out to swipe his thumb across Jared’s lips before standing up.
“I need to get ready for work,” he says, and then heads inside the main doors of the dorm, banging the bottom of his cigarette pack against the palm of his hand – a nervous tick he acquired shortly after picking up smoking that he doesn’t think Jared knows about.
Sandy watches his retreating form and then looks over at Jared, confusion evident in her dark chocolate eyes. “It looked like you had made up. Are you guys okay?”
Jared closes his eyes for a moment, concentrates on the flare of pain at the base of his neck, knotted muscle thanks to the tension keeping his body coiled tightly. He swallows hard, and then looks at Sandy helplessly.
“I’m not really sure,” he admits, and Sandy presses a soft kiss to his forehead.
They don’t really see each other again until that evening when Jared gets back from his last class. Jared nearly trips over the air mattress hogging the floor. Jensen is perched on his bed, hugging a pillow to his chest.
“Hey,” Jared says as he hangs his bag up in the closet. He kicks off his shoes and steps gingerly onto the bed, carefully walking across it to stand in front of Jensen. He tilts his head up and Jared hesitates for a moment before cupping his cheek. He leans down to give him a soft kiss, and even without parting their lips Jared can still taste the smoke, unsuccessfully disguised with peppermint gum.
“I was productive today,” Jensen says, sounding almost proud. “I went and got all my stuff from Josh and Jeff’s, and I did laundry.”
“And you shaved,” Jared adds, dragging his fingertips across smooth skin void of reddish blond stubble. Jensen flushes, and reaches up to gently prod at Jared’s eye. It doesn’t hurt, not really. By now the bruise is just an ugly yellow and brown smudge, nearly invisible. Jensen stands up and presses his lips to it in a silent apology. Jared smiles, lets Jensen feel the curve of it against his jaw.
“I got some movies,” Jensen says, resting his hands on Jared’s hips. “I just want to stay in with you.”
“Sounds good,” Jared says, hiding a yawn against the top of Jensen’s head. He smells like lavender shampoo and Jared inhales deeply.
Jared changes into a pair of sweats and a wifebeater and gets settled under the covers while Jensen puts in a movie. He grabs the remote and curls up next to Jared, pressing play. It’s some sort of mindless comedy that neither one of them really pay attention to.
Jensen rolls onto his side, back pressed firmly against Jared’s chest. Jared tucks his knees against the back of Jensen’s, sliding a hand up his belly to rest it over Jensen’s heart. They fall asleep almost immediately, soft and relaxed in each other’s embrace.
They both use the weekend to catch up – mainly on sleep. Although both of them spent nearly an entire week wallowing in bed, they didn’t really get much rest. They catch up on some homework and go do their respective shifts at work, but most of the weekend is spent with them passed out on top of each other on the air mattress.
And that’s about it.
It doesn’t take an idiot to realize that Jensen isn’t acting like himself. He’s closed off and withdrawn, barely speaking and hardly smiling. It sort of breaks Jared’s heart. Things between them are obviously not okay.
They fall asleep together every night – they kiss and touch and cuddle up together in bed. They haven’t gotten any further than first base since they called their truce. It’s not even just about the sex. Jared misses the intimacy between them, the bone deep connection he feels when they’re pressed together skin to skin. He misses Jensen’s playfulness – the way he would wake Jared with sweet kisses and teasing little touches. He misses Jensen’s sharp wit and booming laugh.
He misses the way things used to be, and he’s absolutely terrified things will never be the same.
All of this doesn’t change the fact that he’s an eighteen-year-old boy in his sexual prime who hasn’t gotten off in over a week. He promised himself he would wait and let Jensen make the first move, but he’s going slightly crazy.
It’s Tuesday afternoon and Jensen is working a shift at the bookstore. Jared shifts restlessly on his bed, flashes of Jensen rushing unbidden behind his eyelids. He slides his hand down to cup himself through his jeans, hissing as he squeezes.
He bucks up into his hand, squeezing his eyes shut and picturing Jensen. He lets out an exasperated sigh and lets his hands drop to his sides. He feels guilty thinking about his own fucking boyfriend when he jerks off. Fantastic. He just takes a deep breath and wills his erection away, telling himself that Jensen will come around eventually.
There’s a knock on the door and James comes barging in, and Jared is suddenly glad he didn’t get around to jerking off.
“Hey Jared,” James says brightly. “What’s up?”
Jared just scoffs and rolls off of the bed, clenching his fists and shifting his hips a little. James raises an eyebrow and bites down on his lip.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone was sexually frustrated,” James says, and Jared pins him with a glare.
“Then you obviously don’t know shit,” Jared grumbles, flopping down into his desk chair and crossing his arms. James’s eyes widen in surprise.
“Wait,” he starts, “you mean to tell me you and Jensen haven’t consummated your joyous reunion? You two fuck like it’s going out of style. We hang out in my room and take bets on who’s gonna come first.”
“Wait – you what?” Jared asks incredulously. “How the hell do you know who wins?”
“You each have a very distinctive, and loud, finish,” James states plainly, and Jared stares at him.
“I am so fucking disturbed right now,” Jared says, shaking his head. “If Jensen ever puts out again, I’m so soundproofing this room.”
“So what’s going on?” James asks. “Why the lack of sex?”
“I don’t know,” Jared says bitterly, getting up and kicking a shoe against the wall. “Jensen is on his fucking period?”
“Dude,” James says, getting up and grabbing Jared by the shoulders. “Clean the fucking pipes before you start sounding more like a douchebag, alright?”
“I can’t!” Jared snaps, shrugging out of James’s grasp. “I feel like I should fucking wait for him or something. It’s fucking ridiculous. I am horny.”
“I have so many possible responses to that,” James replies, “but I’m pretty sure all of them will get me punched in the face.”
“Probably,” Jared grumbles, flopping back onto his bed. James crashes down on top of him, and all the air rushes from Jared’s lungs. They wiggle and squirm until they are lying on their backs, side by side.
“Sexual tension is a bitch,” James says, and Jared lets out a snort. “Look at me and Misha.”
“Misha is never going to fuck you,” Jared says, cutting him a look. James just rolls his eyes and puts his arms behind his head, knocking his elbow against Jared’s ear.
“It’ll happen,” James replies, “And when it does? It’ll be fucking explosive. Best sex ever.”
“Please don’t make me think about you and Misha fucking,” Jared pleads. He lays there, eyes widening after a moment. He groans and slaps his hands over his face. “Oh god.”
“Sure paints a pretty picture, doesn’t it?” James says, pursing his lips and nodding. Jared shakes his head back and forth rapidly, hands still covering his eyes. “You’re welcome.”
“Please get out,” Jared pleads, peeking at James through splayed fingers. James smirks over at him and raises an eyebrow.
“Oh now you suddenly want to be alone,” he says teasingly. Jared blinks and then grimaces, pointing towards the door.
“Leave,” Jared says. James rolls onto his side and looks down at Jared, his expression suddenly serious. Jared lowers his hands and blinks up at him.
“Don’t worry about it too much, okay?” James says, pressing a chaste kiss to Jared’s forehead. “It’ll happen when it’s right. And it’ll be worth the wait.”
“There you go being a good friend again,” Jared says fondly, and James flicks the sharp end of his nose. “Or not.”
“I am what I am,” James says with a shrug, rolling off of Jared’s bed. Jared sits up as the door opens and Jensen shuffles inside. There are dark circles under his eyes and his freckles stand out starkly on his pale skin like caramel on cream. He still looks so tired, like he hasn’t let himself relax at all. Jared’s heart clenches in his chest.
“Hey kid,” James says, scampering over to Jensen and flicking the lobe of Jensen’s ear. “Take a nap.”
Jensen just rolls his eyes as James leaves and drops his bag on the floor, heaving out a sigh. He stands in the middle of the room, glancing from Jared to his bed to the air mattress and back again, seeming conflicted.
“Come here,” Jared requests, and Jensen obliges. Jared grabs him by the belt loops and pulls Jensen onto the bed with him, maneuvering them both until they’re lying side by side. Jensen’s face is inches from his, eyelids drooping sleepily, lips turned downwards in a slight frown. Jared puts his hand on Jensen’s cheek gently, the tip of his thumb across the purple smudge under Jensen’s eye.
“I miss you,” Jared whispers, and Jensen blinks his eyes open. They’re so green, shocking Jared over and over again with their intensity.
“I’m right here,” Jensen says, reaching up to touch Jared’s hand. Jared wants to argue. This isn’t him. Jensen laughs and gets crinkles in the corners of his eyes. Jensen smiles and mocks and ridicules. He bitches and moans and knows how to drive Jared absolutely insane with one brush of his fingers. Jensen is lively, full of color and energy.
Jensen doesn’t get lost in himself, doesn’t let his bright eyes cloud over with a vacant expression, like he’s doubting everything and fearing the worst. Jensen doesn’t constantly act like he’s bracing himself for the end of the world.
“No,” Jared starts. “That’s not what – “ He’s cut off by the shrill ringing of Jensen’s cell phone. Jensen pitches forward, forehead pressed up against Jared’s collarbone as he retrieves it from his pocket.
“Hello?” He answers, voice muffled against Jared’s shirt. “Hey Sandy. Yeah, we’re here. Come up.” Jensen lets the phone drop to the bed and puts his hand on Jared’s chest, sliding his shirt up slightly to reveal his tattoo. His fingers trail over it and Jared shudders, eyes feverish when they meet Jensen’s.
They kiss, but it doesn’t feel natural. It feels like Jensen is trying too hard. Jared pulls back with a sigh, cupping the back of Jensen’s skull and bringing their foreheads together.
“I want you to be happy,” Jared confesses, fingers carding through Jensen’s soft hair. “Why aren’t you happy?”
“I am,” Jensen says, blinking a few times. “I am.”
“Who’re you trying to convince?” Jared asks brokenly, and Jensen bows his head. Jared rolls onto his back, staring up at the ceiling and blinking away the sting in his eyes.
“I love you,” Jensen says resolutely, palm splayed over Jared’s tattoo. It’s not a lie – that much Jared knows. Jensen loves him more than anything.
“I’m sorry it makes you miserable,” he says plainly, and Jensen swallows hard.
“Jared,” Jensen replies, scooting closer to him. “Don’t ever – “
Sandy comes in then, greeting them brightly. Jensen huffs and lets his head fall forward, face pressed against Jared’s neck for a moment before pulling away and sitting up.
“Hi,” Jensen says, and Jared blinks rapidly a few times before sitting up and pasting on a smile. Sandy sits in the desk chair and cocks her head at them, brows knitted. “What’s up?”
“Uh,” Sandy says eloquently, twisting her hair around her finger and biting her lip. Jared and Jensen share a brief look and then turn back to Sandy. “I have a date tonight?”
“That’s great,” Jensen says genuinely, and leans back against Jared’s chest. He’s still tense, but Jared appreciates the gesture. He wraps his arm loosely around Jensen’s waist. “With who?”
“Josh,” Sandy says quickly, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. Jensen just tilts his head to the side slightly.
“Josh who?” He asks, and Jared buries his laugh in Jensen’s shoulder. Sandy looks over at him, a confused expression gracing her pretty features.
“Josh Ackles,” she says slowly, and Jared bites his lip to keep from cracking up. Jensen is quiet for a moment, lips pursed. Jared leans in and presses his smile against the curve of Jensen’s jaw. Jared’s own unease ebbs away at the sight of Sandy’s obvious discomfort and Jensen being so completely oblivious. It seems to hit Jensen then, bright eyes widening comically.
“Wait,” Jensen says, holding up one hand. “My brother, Josh?”
“Yes!” Sandy shrieks, finally looking excited rather than nervous. “We bonded over you being an emo pain in the ass, and he asked me out!”
“That’s great,” Jared laughs. Sandy bounces in her chair and Jensen just stares at her.
“Hold on,” he says. “You, Sandy, are going out with my brother, Josh?”
“Yes,” Sandy and Jared say in unison.
“But why?” Jensen demands, looking helplessly at Jared like this is horrible news. Jared just shrugs and pulls Jensen tighter against his body. He comes willingly and looks back at Sandy.
“I dunno,” Sandy says, but she’s grinning. “He’s adorable. Funny. And so sweet.”
“You have met Josh, right?” Jared asks, and Jensen just nods in agreement. Sandy gives them a mock glare.
“You’re okay with this, right?” Sandy asks uncertainly, and Jensen shrugs.
“I guess. I mean, yeah,” Jensen replies, and he tangles his fingers with Jared’s. “I just don’t like to think of my brother fucking anyone, let alone one of my best friends.”
“Whoa, hey!” Sandy shouts, waving her hands around in the air. “There will be no fucking tonight. We’re just having dinner.”
“Does Josh know that?” Jensen asks. “Because that’s not how his dates usually go.”
“Stop making your brother sound like a douchebag,” Jared says, nipping at Jensen’s earlobe.
“But my brother is a douchebag,” Jensen retorts, and Sandy reaches out to slap his thigh.
“Look,” she says, leveling Jensen with a hardened gaze. “Neither one of us have had the best track record, alright? But I think we’ll be good for each other.”
“I think you’ll be cute together,” Jared says, and Jensen sighs.
“Don’t let my brother touch you,” Jensen finally says. “Not tonight, at least. Make him work for it. You’re worth it.”
“Okay,” Sandy says, grinning again. She looks absolutely thrilled, glowing with excitement. Jared is happy for her.
“And order something really expensive,” he adds, and Sandy gets up to kiss both their foreheads. Jensen rolls his eyes but he’s smiling. Finally.
“Deal!” She agrees. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
“I want you home and in bed by eleven, young lady!” Jensen shouts. Sandy just blows him a kiss and he flips her off. It’s so much like the old Jensen that Jared’s heart clenches a little.
She leaves, and silence settles between them. Jared rests his chin on Jensen’s shoulder and lets out a little hum.
“Josh and Sandy, sittin’ in a tree,” he singsongs, and Jensen flicks his nose.
“This is so fucking weird,” Jensen says, shaking his head and slumping back against Jared, boneless and sleepy.
“We’ll have our own date night,” Jared says, tugging playfully at Jensen’s hair. “Greasy take-out, shitty movie, or passing out in a lazy pile?”
“All of the above,” Jensen says, smiling softly. Jared leans down and presses a chaste kiss to Jensen’s mouth.
This time, it doesn’t feel forced. Not at all.
There is a second, rarely used bathroom on their floor. It’s not as central as the big one near the lounge, not as shiny and new.
Jared and Jensen prefer this older, smaller, lesser used bathroom. They use it all the time, sneaking off to it in the middle of the night to shower together, pressed together slick and wet in the tiny shower stalls.
Someone walked in on them once, and they had stayed behind the shower curtain, palms slapped over their giggling mouths as they tried to stay silent, faces tipped up into the spray as the other person showered next to them.
Jared had placed his hand over Jensen’s mouth, multi-colored eyes mischievous as his other hand slipped down between Jensen’s legs to curl around his cock. He’d jerked Jensen off, tight and slow, and Jensen fought to stay silent as the person in the next stall over sang an off key rendition of Build Me Up, Buttercup.
It was one of the most erotic moments of Jensen’s life.
He came silently, slicking up his belly as Jared pressed their mouths together. The other person finished up soon after that, and the sound of flip-flops slapping against wet tile was all they heard as they left.
Jared and Jensen had stared at each other, eyes wide until they finally started laughing. Jared was still hard, and Jensen had winked as he spun around to face the tiles. Jared fucked him, using slippery conditioner as lube and their cries echoed off of the porcelain.
A few days later James had given them an out of order sign he’d quote-unquote procured from the janitor. They’ve put it to good use ever since.
It’s sort of a tradition – when it’s late and they can’t sleep they go use that bathroom to clean up, shave, get off, and relax. It’s quiet and peaceful, and it’s something Jensen looks forward to.
So when Jared rolls off of his bed at one in the morning and grabs his towel, Jensen doesn’t even think before getting up to join him. He’s already gathered his towel, toiletries, and do not disturb sign when he looks up to find Jared staring at him with a raised eyebrow. His stomach tightens.
He’d almost forgotten things were different, that there was this tension between them stretched tight like a rubber band. He knows it’s his fault, that he’s the one holding back, and he bites down on his lip and looks up at Jared through his lashes.
Jared shifts his towel and toiletry bag to his other arm and takes Jensen’s hand. His palm is warm and smooth, fingers sure when they slot with Jensen’s. He lets out a deep breath and follows Jared out of the room.
Their feet are nearly silent against the carpeted floor as they make their way down the hall. The lights are dimmed and it’s oddly quiet, everyone asleep in their rooms. They make their way towards the bathroom and Jensen looks around, blushing as he sticks the sign on the outside of the door.
Jared opens it and waves him in with a flourish. They flick on the lights and one of the bulbs is blown out, bathing the white tiles with soft orange light. There are three tiny shower stalls taking up one wall and Jensen thinks of all the times they’ve squeezed into them, slick with soap and fitting together like puzzle pieces under the spray.
Jensen doesn’t say anything as he undresses, feeling Jared’s eyes, hot and hungry on his skin the entire time. He swallows hard and ducks into the middle stall, pulling the curtain shut. He thinks he hears Jared make a tiny noise of disappointment, but he could be imagining things.
But then he hears the thunk of Jared’s things hitting the counter, the quick whoosh of clothes as they hit the floor, and the angry clink of the shower curtain rings as he enters the stall next to him, and he thinks he was probably right.
They shower in silence, and Jensen swears he can hear the water hitting Jared’s skin, can picture it sluicing down his perfect body. He’s so close, just inches of tile separating them. Jensen could close the distance between them if he wanted, and god, he does. But he just can’t. Not yet.
He spends so much time thinking about Jared that he nearly forgets to wash himself, and Jared’s shower cuts off when he still has shampoo in his hair. He hurries to rinse and then spins the creaky old knobs until the water cuts off and he shivers against the sudden cold.
Jensen grabs his towel off of the rack and quickly dries off in the stall before he wraps it around his waist and steps out. Jared is at the mirror in nothing but a pair of blue flannel pajama pants, towel dried hair sticking up at crazy angles. He’s setting his things on the counter – a razor, shaving cream, and his towel.
Jensen pulls on his own pajama pants and drops his own towel on the floor, biting down nervously on his lip.
“Let me,” Jensen says, and it’s only then he realizes how long they’ve gone without speaking. Jared catches his gaze in the mirror, one eyebrow rising delicately. He turns around and leans against the counter, looking down at his straight razor and picking it up. He twirls it in his fingers once before handing it over.
Jensen takes it with steady fingers, meeting Jared’s eyes and wondering over the trust the other boy has in him – something he seems to have taken for granted. Jensen picks up Jared’s towel and fills the sink with warm water, patting the counter with his other hand. Jared hops up onto it and Jensen works his way between Jared’s knees.
He looks up to meet Jared’s gaze – always taller, always stronger – and he swallows hard. Jared’s eyes are wide and bright, full of emotion. Longing, patience, love. Jensen reaches up to cup Jared’s cheek, swipes his thumb over the sharp rasp of stubble and slowly leans in to press his mouth under Jared’s jaw. Jared shivers just from that one little touch, and it makes Jensen feel almost powerful. He drags his lips across the line of Jared’s jaw to his chin, feeling stubble burn sensitive skin.
He presses his thumb into the tiny dent of Jared’s chin, pulls down until Jared’s lips are slightly parted and he presses his mouth to them, first the top and then the bottom. He wraps an arm around Jared’s neck, forgetting his original task as he loses himself in the feeling. Jared’s hands are strong on his hips, and he kisses Jensen with a lazy, slow burn and build up that makes Jensen want to weep.
He pulls away when he’s breathless, pressing his forehead against Jared’s temple as he reaches for the shaving cream. He lathers it up in his hands, cupping Jared’s cheeks and spreading the cream across his face. He rinses his hands in the sink and picks up the razor again, dipping it in the water and reaching up to gently cup Jared’s chin.
“Hold still,” he whispers, and Jared’s eyes flash bright and then go dark. He’s immobile as stone, and Jensen tilts his head to the side as he presses the razor to his cheek and drags it down to reveal baby smooth skin. He repeats the process on his cheeks and chin, leaning in to kiss bits of skin as they’re exposed, drops of shaving cream clinging to his lips. He tilts Jared’s head up and back, carefully dragging the razor down the contours of Jared’s neck, over his jugular and down.
When the shaving cream is all gone Jensen leans in, presses his mouth to Jared’s pulse point and feels the rapid beat against his lips as he sets the razor down. He kisses and sucks at the spot, hands finding Jared’s hips as he leans in. Jared is so hard, that much he can feel against his hips, and god, he wants to give him that. He’s just not ready yet – some invisible, infuriating wall holding him back.
Instead he pulls away, picks up the towel and cleans off Jared’s face. He hops off of the counter and looks unsure of himself, stark white teeth digging into his bottom lip. Jensen clears his throat and picks up his own bag, digs out his razor and holds it out as he hops up onto the space Jared just vacated.
“Me next?” Jensen asks softly, and Jared looks at him like he just gave him the world.
“Sure, Jen,” Jared replies, and their fingers brush as he takes the razor. He takes the time to kiss Jensen first, soft and open mouthed, tongues tangling briefly before he pulls away. His mouth finds Jensen’s ear, teeth scraping softly across the lobe. “I love you.”
“Love you,” Jensen repeats immediately, and he means it more than anything he’s ever said. Jared lathers up his face and Jensen doesn’t even close his eyes as Jared drags the razor sharp blade across his skin.
He knows Jared would never hurt him.
The day before Thanksgiving break starts, Jared decides he’s put off his homework long enough. He has packing to do, but that can wait. He gathers everything he’ll need and starts penning a note for Jensen. Of course, that’s when he decides to walk in the door.
“Oh hey,” Jared says, setting down the pen halfway through a crooked heart. “What are you doing here?”
“My class was cancelled. Professor got a head start on break, apparently,” Jensen says, setting his bag down on his bed and looking over at Jared, noting the camera bag slung over his shoulder. “Going somewhere?”
“Well, it’s gorgeous outside,” Jared says, glancing towards the window. “I need to do some work on my photo project and I wanted to get to the field before sunset.”
“The field by our houses?” Jensen inquires, glancing at the clock. “With the wildflowers?”
“That’s the one,” Jared replies, snapping his fingers. “I need like, vivid colors in nature.” Jared wrinkles his nose. “My theme is gay, apparently.” Jensen chuckles, and Jared smiles.
“Want some company?” Jensen asks, looking up at Jared through gold tipped lashes. Jared grins, fiddling with the strap on his bag. He walks over and slings his arm over Jensen’s shoulders, leaning in to kiss his temple.
“Sure,” Jared replies, sliding his hand down Jensen’s arm to tangle their fingers together.
The ride is mostly silent saved for idle chitchat, but it’s not uncomfortable. It takes about an hour for them to get to the field, and Jared blushes slightly when he parks his truck. Last time they were here, it was sweltering hot and they fucked in the back of it, getting sweaty and sunburned.
“You’re probably going to be bored,” Jared warns him. The sun is still high in the sky, and Jared squints up into it to gauge the light. Jensen hops out of the truck, rubbing a hand through his hair and sticking a cigarette behind his ear.
“I’ll manage,” Jensen says, plopping down in the middle of some tall grass. “Go take pictures of pretty flowers and butterflies,” he adds, smirking. Jared flips him off and starts unloading his camera bag. He hears the soft click of Jensen’s lighter and he looks around, trying to decide where to start.
An hour or so passes in which Jared trudges around the field taking macro shots of various wildflowers. He gets one of a blood red ladybug on the vivid yellow petal of a wild sunflower, and he thinks it may be his favorite.
He turns around to see Jensen, still sitting in the middle of the tall grass, staring off into the distance. His blue shirt contrasts with the bright green of the grass. His hair is windblown and light stubble graces his strong jaw. He doesn’t seem to notice Jared staring, lips a little slack as he zones out.
Jared crouches forward, dropping to one knee and bringing his camera to his face. He zooms in on Jensen, lips curving up into a grin as he snaps a few shots. He gets a few feet closer before Jensen notices him, eyes widening for a moment before he smiles knowingly.
“I’m not part of your project,” Jensen says softly, and Jared snaps another shot.
“You could be,” Jared says, swallowing hard and not daring to lower his camera. “It’s all about colors, and all the grass in the world can’t beat your eyes, Jen.”
Jensen looks up, and their eyes meet. He’s about ten feet away, but Jared can see his pink cheeks. Jared walks closer to him, getting on his knees when there is only a yard or so separating them.
“Can I take your picture?” Jared asks softly, and Jensen twists a flower stem between his fingers.
“You’ve never asked before,” Jensen replies, picking off the petals. They flutter to the ground in a pile of pink on green.
“I’ve never wanted to so badly before,” he responds, and Jensen looks up at him. He gives a barely perceptible nod. Jared licks his lips and hefts his camera back up to his face, messing with the focus before snapping a few more shots. “Lie on your back.”
Jensen does so, stretching out onto the flattened grass. He turns his head to the side and rests one hand on his stomach, eyelids slipping shut. Jared fills his camera, getting so close he is nearly straddling Jensen. He’s taking close-up shots now – Jensen’s pink lips, caramel freckles, sooty eyelashes. Pictures no one else but him will ever see.
“Open your eyes,” Jared commands gently. Jensen does, pupils dilating slightly from the sunlight. The irises are a familiar shade of jade flecked with gold, and he doesn’t blink as the camera clicks. He’s staring up at Jared, chest heaving slightly. Jared sits up a little, reaching down to trace Jensen’s full bottom lip.
Jensen reaches up to clutch Jared’s wrist in his fingers, sucking in a shuddering breath. The tip of Jensen’s tongue touches the pad of Jared’s finger, and a shiver runs through them both. Jared lifts his camera, snaps a picture of Jensen’s lips puckered around the tip of his finger. Jensen’s eyes go liquid, and Jared sets his camera down in the grass.
They stare at each other for what seems like hours, Jensen’s fingers digging into the soft skin under Jared’s wrist. Tension is a rubber band between them, stretched tight and shaking for a silent moment before it snaps.
Jared surges down, crashes his lips against Jensen’s and straddles his waist, pinning Jensen’s wrists against drying grass. Jensen bucks up under him, slotting their hips together and biting down on Jared’s bottom lip.
Jared moans desperately, letting go of Jensen’s wrists to grab his hips. He grinds down against him, and Jensen lets his head fall back against soft packed earth as he wraps his legs around Jared’s waist.
Jared bites at Jensen’s chin and jaw and starts rutting against him, pinning his hips to the ground with giant hands. Jensen lets out breathy little noises, gripping Jared’s shoulders as he rolls his hips up to meet Jared’s thrusts.
He can feel Jensen’s dick, hot like a brand against his thigh. He wants to wrap his hand around it, get it in his mouth, but the sense of urgency is too great. All he can do his thrust down against him, create just enough friction to take him past the point of pleasure.
They move together like dancing, passionate and familiar. They fit together seamlessly, Jared’s thumbs fitting perfectly in the groove of Jensen’s hips. He sucks and bites at Jensen’s neck, breaking blood vessels with his mouth and licking across bruised flesh as blood rises to the surface.
Jensen cries out, shoving one hand into Jared’s messy hair and tugging. Jared lets out a low grunt, licking across Jensen’s slack lips before plunging his tongue into Jensen’s willing mouth.
His muscles tense, pleasure crackling up his spine and it’s been so long since he’s had this. He thumbs Jensen’s nipple through his thin shirt, scraping his nail across the tight nub. He shifts his hips and rocks down harder, pressing his free hand to Jensen’s cheek.
Jensen arches up, fingernails digging into the strip of skin above Jared’s jeans. He shouts Jared’s name, voice scraped raw. His hips jerk as he comes, and Jared has enough brainpower left to watch Jensen’s face. His eyes are open, pupils blown wide and circled with a thin ring of mossy green.
The sight alone triggers Jared’s climax, and he digs his fingers into Jensen’s hips, gritting out his name. They collapse in a dusty heap, breathing heavily into each other’s necks.
After a few long moments, Jensen starts laughing.
Jared is so relieved to hear the sound that it takes a few moments to realize that he should probably be offended. He lifts his head and raises an inquisitive eyebrow. Jensen laughs harder, slapping one hand over his mouth and waving the other in the air.
“Did we just dry hump in a field?” He finally gets out, chest rumbling with his laughter. Jared grins, shaking the bangs from his eyes.
“It appears so,” Jared chuckles, sitting up and grabbing his camera. “Let me take a picture of your ‘I just got humped in a field’ expression.”
“Take it and die,” Jensen says, glaring at him. Jared puts his eye to the viewfinder.
“At least let me get a shot of your sticky jeans,” he jokes, pointing the camera at Jensen’s crotch. Jensen puts his foot on Jared’s chest and pushes him backwards, taking the chance to get up off of the ground. He shakes one leg experimentally.
“I can’t believe we have to drive an hour home with jizz in our pants,” Jensen whines, and Jared chuckles as he starts to pack up his camera.
Things are fine until they start driving back. The sun is slipping under the horizon, painting the sky with streaks of indigo, crimson, and gold. It’s gorgeous, and soft, warm light fills the cab of his truck and lights up Jensen’s skin.
But it’s too quiet. It gives Jensen time to think.
Jensen has been getting lost in his own head lately, shutting himself off from the world – from Jared. It’s like he’s been told something horrible is going to happen, and he’s just preparing himself. Like he has no chance and it’s only a matter of time before it all ends.
Jared risks a glance out of the corner of his eye only to see Jensen staring straight ahead listlessly. His eyes are clouded over with fear and uncertainty. He’s still too worried about the future to let himself go, to just be happy. He seems convinced Jared is going to break his heart someday, and there is only so much of the insecurity and distrust Jared can take.
Jared has the patience of a saint when it comes to Jensen, always has. It just feels like the only thing holding them together right now is eighteen years of friendship. Jared literally has no idea how to live without Jensen. He’s never had even a single day where it seemed like a possibility, let alone a likely scenario. He doesn’t know how to be without him.
If they don’t patch up the growing chasm between them, he’ll have to find out. That terrifies him more than anything.
It hurts to know that Jensen is building solid brick walls around his heart, and Jared has no idea how to get past them. At this rate, he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to get back inside.
He turns up the radio, presses down harder on the gas, and keeps driving.
Onto Part 7.