Jared wakes up on his eighteenth birthday swaddled in 800 thread count sheets with a hedgehog on his face, and Jensen jumping up and down on his cozy mattress. He opens his eyes just in time for Rigby to nearly take one out with his quills. He blearily yet carefully pushes Rigby off of his face and onto the pillow, and then looks up at Jensen.
“Happy birthday!” He’s got one foot on either side of Jared’s hips and he drops like his strings have been cut, landing on Jared’s lap in some magical way that doesn’t cause any pain. But then he slaps his hands down onto Jared’s bare belly, and that smarts a little.
“Let me guess,” Jared mumbles tiredly. “You had your coffee.”
“Two and a half cups of it!” Jensen says excitedly, pointing at Jared’s nightstand. “I brought you half a cup.”
Jared chuckles and sits up, reaching up to grab Jensen’s face in both hands and give him a kiss. He reaches over for the cup and brings it to his mouth for a sip while he watches Jensen over the rim of it. He looks so happy, tanned and well-rested. He smells vaguely of salt and sunshine, a sweet tang that Jared can never get enough of.
“Happy birthday,” Jensen says again, softer this time. He gives Jared another kiss and this one lingers, clinging and soft before pulling back with a smile. “Mom said I should let you sleep, but I didn’t want to.”
Jared doesn’t think he knows it, but Jensen always looks slightly awed whenever he says the words ‘mom’ or ‘dad’, like he can’t quite believe it. They roll off his tongue easier now, but his eyes still light up whenever he uses them.
Jared looks around his room and then out at the sea through his filmy curtains. It looks like a nice day, maybe even a bit breezy. Jared’s bedroom, on the same floor but opposite sides of the house from Jensen’s, is sparsely decorated. He hasn’t done much with it since he moved into it, because it never felt quite real. He resisted taking the room at all but Jensen and his parents heard none of it. So he lives here now, an as-for-now permanent fixture in the Ackles estate.
He agreed that he would move in on the condition that he would be given work to do, and mostly he works outside on the grounds. He loves helping to take care of this beautiful house, of Jensen’s home on the shore. Jensen likes to help, but he ends up wandering off to sink into the ocean more often than not.
Jensen’s room, on the other hand, is well lived in. He loves the street artists on the pier, and he’ll sit and watch them create works for hours. He buys the ones that catch his eye (of which there are many) and puts as many on his walls as he can fit at one time, constantly rotating them out. Jared once made a joke that he should start an art gallery, and both Jensen and his mother got sort of a weird gleam in their eye. So, who knows what will happen with that.
It’s been four long, whirlwind months since everything happened, and Jensen is still adjusting. They both are. Alan wasn’t kidding about that media circus. America was taken by Jensen’s disappearance and was just as enthralled with his return. He’s been in the spotlight and Jared has been right there with him, suddenly so exposed after years of staying hidden, but he makes due.
Jeff’s trial is still pending and Jensen doesn’t really like to talk about it. He sees a therapist once a week and he seems to like her, so that makes them all feel better. Jared had spent weeks tiptoeing around the estate until Donna had cuffed him upside the head and told him to knock it off, that he was family and that it was his house too.
Jared may have cried a little later, so touched by it all, but that can’t be proven.
Two days later, they broke a very expensive looking crystal vase while having a footrace through the halls, and Jared sprained his wrist when he tried to slide down the ornate railing of the main stairs and ended up falling off of it. Jensen could heal his wrist, but not the vase. Donna didn’t seem to mind.
Jensen’s magic is a secret between himself, Jared, his parents, and a few trusted members of the live-in staff, but his parents encourage him to explore it. He uses it freely when they’re at home or on the beach, exploring all he can do, and Jared never tires of watching him.
It’s a good life, if a bit crazy. They see Misha all the time. Jensen’s parents are amused by him and there’s a guest room down the hall from Jared’s room that’s practically his now, for all that he’s in it. Rigby’s living the high life, even though it’s technically illegal for them to have him in this state. But they haven’t come across anyone man enough (or stupid enough) to try to take away Jensen’s beloved pet, even though Rigby goes everywhere with them.
It’s a good life, if not vastly different than the one he expected and kind of mind-blowing and overwhelming at times, but he wouldn’t trade it for the world.
“Get out of bed!” Jensen says, startling Jared from his thoughts. He chuckles and finishes the last dregs of his coffee before setting the cup on his nightstand. “I want to show you your present.”
“I told you not to get me anything,” Jared says immediately, and Jensen just presses a finger to Jared’s lip and rolls his eyes.
“Shush.” Jensen taps Jared’s mouth and then scoops Rigby up as he rolls out of Jared’s bed. Jensen’s always so perky in the mornings but there’s a moment or two, right after he wakes up, that he spends scowling at the world. Jared’s only been able to see it a few times. Donna and Alan insisted on separate bedrooms when Jared moved in, and he was in no place to argue.
He rolls out of bed and pulls on a black v-neck tee shirt over his flannel sleep pants, barely getting out a yawn before Jensen is grabbing his hand. Jared stumbles along and fixes his gaze on Rigby, who is riding on Jensen’s shoulder as per usual. The hedgehog is staring at Jared with his beady little eyes and if he didn’t know any better, he’d swear Rigs was smirking at him.
Hell, Jared doesn’t know any better.
“Your pet is smirking at me,” Jared accuses as he’s dragged down the stairs. Jensen lets out a huff and jumps down two steps to the floor, jostling the hedgehog.
“Stop it, Rigby! You’ll give away the surprise,” Jensen scolds, and Rigby lets out a soft chuffing sound that sounds a whole hell of a lot like laughter.
Jared just rolls his eyes and smiles. This is his life now.
Jensen drags Jared excitedly through the kitchen and out the back door, not bothering to stop and put on shoes. Jared becomes immovable for the seven seconds it takes him to slip into his flip-flops, and Jensen spends the entire time tugging on his arm.
“My present is outside?” Jared asks, following dutifully behind Jensen as he heads across the grass. “Boy, I hope it’s an alpaca.”
Jensen chuckles and leads Jared down the sloping yard towards the beach, and Jared furrows his brow as they approach the second guesthouse. (Yes, there’s two.) This smaller guesthouse is Jensen’s favorite place on the estate because it’s the closest structure to the ocean and while it’s been rebuilt dozens of times by now, it’s the same place where Jensen’s ancestors built their first home all those generations ago. It’s a place blessed by the magic of the sea.
Jensen had confessed to Jared that sometimes the sprawling mansion felt too damn big sometimes, and that he was scared he would get lost and never find his way out. He likes the smaller guesthouse because it’s cozy and comfortable and it lets him be even closer to the waves. Jared loves it because Jensen likes it, and also because it’s usually where they sneak off to fool around, which is why Jared blushes a bit when they approach the small house to find Jensen’s parents waiting by the front door.
Jensen finally lets go of his wrist once they’re in front of Donna and Alan, and Jensen bounces around beaming while Donna pulls Jared into a hug.
“Good morning, sleepyhead,” she says fondly. “Happy birthday.”
“Happy birthday, kid.” Alan grips his shoulder firmly and jostles him a bit.
“Thank you.” Jared scrunches his nose when Donna kisses his cheek and wipes the lip gloss she left behind with the pad of her thumb. She’s so gorgeous, so warm and kind. She doesn’t fill the deep, gaping hole that’s been there since Jared’s own mother passed, but she certainly lessens the blow. Jared clears his throat and looks around before turning his gaze back to an exuberant looking Jensen.
“You said there was a present out here.” Jensen jumps up and down and then spreads his arms, dipping to a lunge as he gestures at the house.
“Happy birthday!” He shouts, and Jared is officially confused. He looks from Jensen, who is still doing jazz hands at the front door, to Donna. She’s holding a small brass key out to him and Jared blinks.
“You want me to move into the guesthouse?” He’s standing there, more confused than he’d care to admit, when Jensen snatches the key from his mother and jumps into Jared’s arms.
“Yes,” he says, and Jared turns to look at him as he clutches the back of his shirt. “With me. We’re moving into the guest house. Together, idiot.”
“Wait, what?” He swallows hard and looks over at Donna and Alan even while pulling Jensen closer. “Really?”
“Yes, Jared,” Alan says with a chuckle. Donna smiles warmly at him. “We know Jensen likes it out here, and now that you’re eighteen we don’t see any reason why the two of you couldn’t move in together.”
“You’ll still have your rooms in the house and you can come and go as you please,” Donna adds, and her eyes are a bit wet. “And you’ll both be expected to join us every night for dinner. But we wanted you to have a place that was yours.”
Jared doesn’t cry, but his eyes aren’t exactly dry either. He rushes forward and envelops Donna in a long, tight hug before giving Alan one as well. Jensen kisses Donna’s cheek and then goes about unlocking the door. Rigby squeaks excitedly from Jensen’s shoulder as the door opens and he disappears inside.
“We’re going to dinner tonight at six, boys,” Donna reminds them. “Be sure you’re ready to go. But until then, enjoy your new home.”
Jensen takes Jared’s hand and grins happily at his parents. Donna has tears in her eyes but she looks happy, and Alan nods at them as he shuts the door. Jensen turns to Jared expectantly and a full minute goes by before Jared stops being too shocked to speak.
“Oh my god!” He shouts, and Jensen laughs delightedly. He sets Rigby down into a corner of the living room that seems to be custom made for him, filled with lots of tubes to play in and trail mix and water dispensers fixed low to the ground. The walls are, predictably, covered in the art Jensen has collected, but every single piece is one Jared recognizes as being one he took a particular interest in. “This is ours?”
“All of it,” Jensen says, leaning in to press a soft kiss to Jared’s slack mouth. “You and me.”
He takes Jared’s hand and leads him through to the bedroom. It’s decorated in soft tans and ocean blues with a queen sized bed perched in the middle. The most prominent feature is the French doors that take up most of one wall. Jensen pushes aside the gauzy curtains and flings them open, taking a deep breath of sea air. They’re yards from the ocean and the waves roar, slapping the shore right in Jared’s backyard.
Jared looks around the room and can feel the history here, even though the place has been restored and rebuilt so many times over the years. This is where the magic started, right here in this room, and now Jared is tangled up in it. Enchanted.
Jensen is standing at the back door, fingertips glowing blue as he flicks his hands forward. Grains of sand roll hurriedly across the hardwood floor and fling themselves outside. Jared steps up to him and wraps an arm around his waist, practically lifting him up off of the floor.
“I love you,” Jared says, because the words come easy now. They’re true like nothing in his life has even been before. Jensen smiles and puts his hands on Jared’s cheeks, still blue and shimmery. Jared feels invigorated, wild and powerful like he’s part of the sea itself.
“I love you too,” Jensen says, leaning in to give him a kiss. Grains of sand dance around them and they can hear Rigby chirping in the other room.
This is Jared’s life now. Their life.
It’s a pretty good one.