Jared paces the small, tidy living room because what the fuck is he even doing?
Jensen is up in his little loft bedroom packing his shit into Jared’s duffel bag because Jensen doesn’t even own any sort of bag. Their underwear and toothbrushes are going to be cohabitating and Jared is going to have to carry everything because he’s taking some weird, incredibly sheltered, gorgeous dude all the way out to California because he cried when he saw a crappy cell phone picture of the ocean and it broke Jared’s heart.
It’s pretty safe to say that Jared is in way over his head.
“I’ll be on the porch!” Jared calls out, because he’s freaking out but he doesn’t want Jensen to think that he took off or something, which freaks him out even more. Jesus.
He springs through the door and out into the grass, fumbling his phone out of his pocket. He can call Misha and that will calm him down, because Misha as a person is crazier than this entire situation ever could be.
The phone rings three times before Misha picks up and Jared winces at all the noise that bursts through the speaker.
“Misha’s phone, Chris Evans speaking!”
“Chris, goddamnit, give me that!” Misha’s voice is muffled and agitated and Jared smirks at the sound of a slight scuffle. “I knew that if I let you in here you’d never fucking leave, jesus, what?” It takes a moment for Jared to realize that Misha is speaking to him now, and he can’t even open his mouth before Misha steamrolls right over him. “If I wanted to listen to someone fuckin’ mouth breathe in my ear I’d answer my mother’s calls.”
“There’s my favorite ray of sunshine,” Jared says fondly, and Misha makes shushing noises at this Chris person, Jared presumes.
“He lives! I was starting to worry about your wandering ass. How’s the circus treating ya?”
“Uh, it’s not. I’ve decided life as a carnie is not for me,” Jared replies, and Misha scoffs.
“Who’d you fuck?”
“Nobody!” There’s a beat of silence and Jared sighs. “The ringmaster’s daughter.”
Misha laughs long and hard and Jared spends the time holding the phone away from his ear and wondering why he’s even friends with such an asshole.
“God kid, how do you not have your own reality show? I’d watch the shit out it and never ever delete it off my TiVo. I’d buy the box set on blu-ray, man.”
“Yeah, yeah. Love you too.” Jared smirks and feels calmer already. If he can put up with Misha, he can definitely handle this little adventure. “So listen, is that card you gave me still active? I’m thinking about traveling in style for awhile.”
“Should be. Hold on.” Jared hears the clicking of Misha’s ubiquitous laptop and looks down at his raggedy fingernails. “You’re good to go, Mr. Sam Winchester.”
Jared’s mouth twists at the alias. When Jared refused to settle down with Misha and declared that he was going back out into the big bad world, Misha insisted on setting him up with a fake credit card in case of emergencies. Misha may be the Robin Hood of the hacking world, but he still uses less than legal means to get by. Jared doesn’t judge him for it, but he doesn’t like taking things that he doesn’t earn.
Most of the time. Usually.
So the fraudulent card mostly stays tucked away in his wallet while he works odd jobs that provide room and board, if he can find them. He isn’t really ready to tell Jensen the whole poor, homeless little runaway story just quite yet. It’s a story that even Misha doesn’t really know all of, a story that Jared desperately hates to think about, let alone tell.
But he doesn’t want to spook Jensen. It’s important that he be safe and happy on this odd little journey and if Jared has to use less than legal means to accomplish that, so be it.
“Thanks,” Jared says, suddenly remembering that he’s on the phone. “So hey, are you still holed up in Santa Barbara?”
“Nope. Things got a little sticky. I’m set up in Las Vegas right now.” There’s a whoop in the background loud and obnoxious enough that Jared can almost pin down the blood alcohol content behind it. “Made some friends, but none quite as pretty as you, man.”
“Well, send me the details,” Jared tells him after a moment’s consideration. Jared sort of wants to see what Jensen’s face looks like when he sees all those lights. “I’m headed your way.”
“Awesome! Why don’t you just let me hook you up with a train ticket or something?”
“No can do,” Jared replies. He rubs the back of his neck and chuckles self-consciously. “I’m traveling with a guest and we’re planning on taking the scenic route.”
“Ooh, who is this mystery guest?” Misha sounds absolutely gleeful and Jared rolls his eyes. “Did you tempt the fair ringmaster’s daughter away from a life in the circus with promises of adventure and your giant dick?”
“No, it’s kinda complicated and – “ There’s a noise on the porch and Jared looks up to see Jensen standing in the open doorway. Jared’s bag (their bag, Jared’s brain helpfully reminds him) is at his feet and Rigby is sitting in his cupped hands. He looks incredibly nervous but Jared can see the excitement in his eyes. Jensen wants this more than words can say, and Jared feels confident in his plan.
He isn’t exactly sure what’s going on, why Jensen is cooped up like this or his father’s reasoning behind it, but it’s no way to live. Jared will remain true to his word to bring Jensen back in one week if that’s what he wants, but Jared’s hoping that he makes the decision to strike out on his own.
“Dude, where’d you go?”
“Just send me the address, man. I’ll see you in a few days.” Jared ends the call and slips the phone back in his pocket as he jogs over to the porch. “That was Misha,” Jared offers even though Jensen didn’t ask. “He’s in Vegas, so I was thinking we’d swing by and see him. It’s on the way.”
“Las Vegas?” Jensen asks, slightly dazed. He looks over his shoulder into the cabin and then back at Jared. “The place with all the gambling and lights?”
“Yeah, it’ll be fun. Are you ready to go?”
Jensen makes a soft, pained noise and looks back into the house again. Rigby squeaks and Jensen whips his head back around. His eyes are wide and so very green. “Are you sure that you can have me back in a week?”
“Jensen.” Jared reaches forward to give Jensen’s shoulder a comforting squeeze. “We can come back whenever you want. You’re safe with me, I promise.”
“Okay.” Jensen nods and lifts the hedgehog up to his shoulder before turning to close the door decisively. He takes a deep breath and meets Jared’s eyes. “I’m ready.”
“Good.” Jared eyes the hedgehog warily. “Rigby’s coming with us?”
“Of course Rigby’s coming with us,” Jensen replies emphatically, like the mere idea of Jared thinking otherwise is completely ridiculous. “I’m not going anywhere without him.”
“Nah, that’s cool.” Jared reaches out to gently scratch Rigby’s head with his fingertip, mindful of his quills. “I like the little guy.”
Rigby squeaks excitedly and noses at the soft-looking spot behind Jensen’s ear. Jared spends a baffling moment being vaguely jealous of a hedgehog, and then shakes it off. Jared wasn’t lying; Rigby is pretty cool. Jared’s always wanted a pet, but his life was never suited for one. He was thinking a dog, but maybe Jensen has the right idea with something small and easily concealed.
“Let’s go,” Jared says excitedly, swinging the bag over his shoulder. Jensen shuffles his feet a bit, looking over his shoulder again before finally following Jared off of the porch. They walk side by side slowly and quietly, and Jared’s a few steps into the heavily wooded area just past the clearing before he realizes that Jensen is no longer next to him. He turns to see Jensen biting at his lip and toeing at the ground with sneakers that look brand new, like they’ve barely ever been worn. “You okay, Jen?”
“I’m brave,” Jensen says suddenly. He looks back at his house and then back at Jared, looking torn. “I don’t want you to think that I’m not.”
Jared sighs, heart breaking just that little bit more as he closes the distance between them with two long strides. “Jensen,” he says softly, closing his hands around Jensen’s shoulders. “I knew you were brave the moment you threw that mean right hook.” He smiles to let Jensen know that he’s playing with him. “I’ve never thought otherwise.”
“It’s just – it’s hard.” Jensen swallows and Rigby whines a little. “I know this.” He gestures towards the woods and then looks back up at Jared. “But everything else; it’s all new. I don’t know it at all.”
“The whole point of an adventure is seeing new things,” Jared tells him and Jensen looks up at him like his every word is gospel. No one has ever looked at Jared like that and it makes his throat go a little dry. He touches Jensen’s jaw, thumbing at the sharp line of it before dropping his hand. “You deciding to come with me officially made you the bravest person I’ve ever met, Jen.”
“Really?” Jensen’s clouded expression clears a bit at that, and his smile is like a small ray of sunshine.
“Really.” Jared holds his hand out in offering, smiling timidly. “You ready?”
Jensen’s only response is grinning brightly and grabbing Jared’s hand, threading their fingers together as he leads them deeper into the woods. Jared squeezes Jensen’s hand in his own and can’t help the warm feeling that blossoms in his chest.
This is shaping up to be his most interesting adventure yet, and it’s only just begun.
Jensen follows along behind Jared, watching the shift of his shoulders under his thin shirt for all of five minutes before he feels guilty and has to confess.
“I don’t actually know how to get out of the woods,” he blurts, and Jared comes to a stop in front of him. Jensen stumbles into him and Rigby gets sent flying into Jared’s back. He hisses at the sudden stab of quills and Rigby climbs up onto Jared’s shoulder.
He’ll probably like it up there, Jensen thinks. Jared’s so tall. He’ll have a better view.
“I should have told you before.” Jensen bites his bottom lip, a little surprised but very pleased when Jared twists back to wrap an arm around Jensen’s shoulders. He pulls them close together, hip against hip, and Jensen instinctually tangles his fingers in the back of Jared’s shirt.
“Jen, you’re real pretty and all,” Jared says and Jensen’s stomach flutters happily, “but I know I can’t exactly count on you for directions.” He points to the ground and Jensen flicks his gaze downward. “There’s a footpath here, probably made by your dad.”
“Oh.” Jensen smiles sheepishly and Jared knocks their shoulders together before continuing on. Jensen grabs Jared’s hand again because he doesn’t seem to mind and it feels nice, and they make their way down the barely visible trail. Rigby chirps happily and tries valiantly to climb Jared’s head. “How’s the view from up there, Rigby?”
Jensen chuckles and Jared just smirks at him. He seems perfectly happy to let Jensen’s spiky, sharp-clawed pet crawl all over him, and that makes Jensen go all warm and gooey.
They spend another fifteen minutes or so walking hand in hand before Jared stumbles to a stop. There’s a small building just ahead, red paint peeling off of the old wood. Jensen cocks his head and Jared purses his lips.
“Looks like a garage,” Jared tells him, tugging on his hand as they approach. “Your dad has a car, I assume.”
“I guess.” Jensen shrugs awkwardly. “He’s never said. But he must, right?”
Jared lets go of his hand and walks up to the door on the side. He tries the knob but it’s locked. He pulls something from his pocket and squats down. “Come hold this light,” Jared says, pulling out his phone. A few quick touches and a bright light shines out of the back. Once again, Jensen is impressed.
“What are you doing?” Jensen asks as he holds the phone up where Jared indicated. Rigby has his claws dug into Jared’s shirt so he doesn’t get bucked off with all the twisting and fidgeting Jared’s doing.
“Just – come on, you bitch – picking the lock.” Jared twists his wrist and then sets his shoulder into the door, crowing happily when it pops open. “Ha!”
They enter the garage and Jared takes his phone back, holding it up high to illuminate the small, enclosed space. “Ah, yep. There’s usually a car in here.” Jared points to a small black streak on the concrete floor and Jensen just decides to take his word for it.
“Oh.” There’s a gnawing feeling in the pit of Jensen’s stomach and his eyes feel a little itchy as he looks around. There’s a desk in the corner with a safe on the floor next to it, and on top of that is some sort of plastic box with blinking lights. Jensen stares at it all despondently.
“Uh, hm.” Jared doesn’t elaborate and Jensen just lets out a questioning hum, eyes trained on what appears to be a phone hanging on the wall. “My phone is saying that there’s wi-fi in here, but I can’t connect because it’s locked.”
“I have no idea what any of that means,” Jensen mumbles. He feels childish and stupid, chest tight and eyes stinging.
“Well, um.” Jared pauses and Jensen knows that he’s going to hate whatever comes out of his mouth. “It means that there’s a wireless internet connection in here. Like, it can be accessed by a laptop, but I don’t see one. But this garage has internet and phone, so – well.”
He trails off uncomfortably and Jensen’s hands curl into fists at his sides.
“He lied to me.” Jensen rolls his lips into his mouth and laughs bitterly. “I mean, I’m not an idiot. I knew he lied to me about some things, but this – this is…”
It’s a big fat giant symbol of how much Jeff doesn’t trust Jensen to keep himself safe. He’d rather him be locked up like some pet than out there actually living. He doesn’t even want him knowing anything about the outside world. He’s sheltered and clueless with no idea how to live outside of a tiny hunting cabin in the forest. There’s a weight on Jensen’s shoulders, a crushing realization that there’s been an entire chunk of his life that’s been wasted.
“Jen, are you okay?” Jared slides his hand tentatively across Jensen’s back and he relaxes his muscles a little. He gets close enough that Rigby jumps onto his shoulder, claws digging in briefly before he’s nosing at Jensen’s ear. Jensen sniffs once and rolls his shoulders before turning to face Jared.
“I’m fine,” Jensen tells him, but they both know it’s a lie. “Well, I will be. This is good news, Jared. I don’t feel bad about leaving anymore. I just – now I really want to leave, more than ever.”
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Jared smiles reassuringly and grabs his hand, leading him out of the garage. They leave it how they found it, a locked little secret in the middle of the woods, and start to follow the tire tracks leading away from it.
“Jared, we have no way of knowing how far away from anything we are.” The sun is still high in the sky but it won’t stay that way, and Jensen really doesn’t want to spend his first night ever out of the house stumbling around in the woods.
“Sure we do!” Jared digs the hand not holding onto Jensen’s into his pocket and pulls out his omnipresent phone. He holds down a button until there’s a beep and then brings the phone up to his mouth. “Hey Siri?”
“Where are we?” Jared asks, and Jensen stares at the phone with wide eyes.
“Here’s your current location.”
Jared squints at the phone and Jensen watches as what appears to be a map pops up. He seems completely at ease with the stilted robot voice.
“What the hell is that?” Jensen asks, and Jared breaks his concentration to look over at him.
“What is – wait, Jensen. Did you just curse?” He looks absolutely gleeful. “I mean, hell is barely a curse but it’s a start! I’m a positive influence already!”
“Answer the question!” Jensen shouts. “Who’s that on your phone?”
“Oh! That’s Siri,” Jared informs him. “She’s not a person. She’s the little robot personal assistant that lives in my phone. Pretty cool, huh? Watch.” Jared holds the button down again. “Where’s the nearest bus station?”
“This bus line looks fairly close to you.”
“We’re only like two miles out of town,” Jared says excitedly. “We can get some lunch and hop on the bus, easy peasy. Thanks, Siri.”
“I aim to please, Jared.”
“Holy shit,” Jensen breathes, borrowing one of Jared’s preferred phrases. Jared squeezes his hand and jerks him around a little.
“There it is!”
Watching Jensen walk into a town for the first time, even a tiny little one-stoplight town in the middle of Kansas, is something Jared really wishes he could capture on video.
Well, technically he could, but he doesn’t want to ruin the moment by telling Jensen that the magic brick that he carries around in his pocket also serves as a video camera. He already has to break it to him that Rigby needs to go into hiding when they enter buildings, not to mention the little tidbit about how guys shouldn’t walk around holding hands in rural Kansas.
Jared casually lets go of Jensen’s hand and turns around to watch him. He’s looking around at the quaint little town square like he’s so impressed he could just die right there, and when he turns his gaze on Jared it’s fond enough to make him start squirming in his ratty old sneakers.
“Come on.” Jared spins around before Jensen can see the blush on his cheeks and sneaks a peek at the map on his phone telling him how to get to the bus station. Jensen just follows along blindly, looking around at everyone and everything. Jared keeps a casual hold on his forearm and briefly considers getting him one of those monkey leash backpacks before they get to Vegas.
Jensen’s eyes light up at the sight of the fountain in the town square, well within eyesight of the bus station, so Jared leaves him there while he jogs over to get the tickets. The closest Amtrak station is in Garden City, so he decides that’ll be their first stop and they can take the train from there.
He holds his breath as the cashier swipes his fake credit card, but she just hands it back to him and tiredly tells him to have a nice day. He nods and ducks into the gift shop, where he finds a sturdy black tote bag with a hard bottom. He buys that along with a hand towel, a few bottles of water and some snacks, and heads back to the fountain.
What he finds has him stumbling to a halt and laughing fondly. Jensen’s shoes are in an abandoned pile on the edge of the fountain and he’s standing in it with his jeans rolled up to his knees. One of the jets pop up and Rigby rides it up, squealing happily as he shoots into the air. The water falls away and Jensen catches the hedgehog in his hands, which has to hurt, but Jensen doesn’t seem to mind.
Jared approaches as Jensen bends over to place Rigby back into the water and he’s greeted with the spectacular view of Jensen’s ass in the fitted, well-worn denim. Jared is trying not to have dirty thoughts about Jensen, really he is, but he’s never seen a hotter guy in his entire life. It doesn’t help that Jensen reacts to every touch like a neglected housecat, arching up into it and shivering, practically purring under Jared’s hand.
So yeah, Jared’s trying to be good, but Jensen’s making it really hard. Pun only slightly intended.
“Having fun?” Jared spots Rigby floating on his back and Jensen spins around, flicking drops of water at him in the process. The grin on his face is one for the record books. It makes Jared’s breath catch, his heart speed up, every romantic comedy cliché there is, but damn, Jensen’s awesome.
“This is the best day ever!” Jensen splashes his way out of the fountain and throws his arms around Jared’s neck. The sudden full-body contact startles Jared for a moment – he isn’t used to people touching him casually – and then wraps his arms around Jensen’s waist. People are watching them curiously, probably wondering who the hell the beautiful weirdo in the fountain is, but Jared couldn’t care less. He pulls Jensen in tight and noses at the soft skin behind his ear. Jensen isn’t the only one starved for physical affection, not that Jared would ever admit that out loud.
“Our bus leaves in an hour,” Jared says as he pulls away. “There’s a diner over there. How’s about we get a cheeseburger?”
“I’ve never had a cheeseburger,” Jensen replies as he picks up his shoes, seemingly content to walk around barefoot. “Are they good?”
“Are they – “ Jared gapes. “Jesus, come on. Burger time.” Jensen grabs Rigby from the fountain, holding him in his cupped hand as Jared drags him along. “Lots of cheese, with bacon and mustard. And mushrooms!”
Rigby doesn’t seem entirely thrilled with having to hide in the tote bag Jared bought, but he tried to make it as homey as he could. There’s a soft towel folded at the bottom and an open bag of trail mix for him to nibble on. Jared’s stayed in motels less accommodating.
“C’mon, Rigby,” Jensen says, and after a few more put upon squeaks, the hedgehog snags a peanut and settles down. Jensen holds the bag carefully and walks into the diner behind Jared.
It’s loud and garish, all decked out with a 50’s theme, and the jukebox is playing The Temptations louder than necessary. Their waitress is a girl about high school age, eyeing them like she’s won the lottery before she even gets them to their table.
“Two cheeseburgers!” Jared shouts before she can even get a word out. “With everything, including lots of bacon. Two sides of fries, two cokes, and a chocolate shake to share.”
“Uh, yeah – sure.” She walks away mumbling to herself and scribbling on a pad, and Jared turns his attention back to Jensen. He’s bouncing a little on the red vinyl seat and taking everything in with wide eyes, Rigby’s makeshift carrier perched carefully in his lap.
“I normally wouldn’t be as presumptuous as to order for you before you even had a chance to look at the menu,” Jared tells him, and Jensen looks down at the laminated menu like he’s never seen one before. Which, right. He hasn’t. “But you need a cheeseburger and some damn french fries.”
“Oh, no. That’s okay.” Jensen leans forward to peer at the menu before looking up Jared with a happy smile. “I trust you.”
Jared blushes – and seriously, what the hell, he does not blush - and just sort of watches Jensen fondly as he takes in his surroundings. The food comes out surprisingly quick, and Jensen’s eyes widen as he looks down at his plate.
“Okay, Jensen, are you ready to have your mind blown?” Jared asks seriously, and Jensen’s eyes get even bigger. “Seriously, your taste buds are about to explode with delicious flavor. Come on, pick it up. Take a bite.”
Jared grabs his burger with both hands. It’s a nice size, good and hefty, and he shoves it into his face like he’s forgotten all his manners, which he probably has at this point. He moans at the taste and Jensen quirks up a brow before carefully picking up his own burger.
He sniffs it a bit before taking a dainty bite. His eyes go a little glassy and he lets out a whimper.
“Jared,” he says, practically moaning. He takes another bite, huge and proper like a growing boy should, and looks up at Jared while he chews. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted.”
“Told you!” Jared laughs as Jensen licks the mustard and grease from his thumb before taking another bite. He closes his eyes and tips his head back as he chews, completely missing when Rigby pops his head up out of the bag and snags Jensen’s lettuce between his tiny teeth. Jared laughs so hard he nearly chokes, fumbling for his soda as Rigby disappears back into the bag with his pilfered vegetable.
“Jensen, Jensen,” he gets out around fits of laughter. “Try the fries, man. The fries!”
Jensen tries to shove five of them in his mouth all at once and Rigby squeaks happily as one falls into his bag. Jared doesn’t think he’s ever had a better meal in his entire life.
After lunch they return to the fountain outside of the bus station to wait for their departure. Rigby seems just as full as Jensen, and he puts the hedgehog on his back in the still water before laying on the edge of the fountain. He signs happily as the warm concrete bleeds through his thin tee shirt, face tipped up into the midday sun.
Jared is sitting on the ground, endless legs crossed in front of him as he rests back against the fountain, head pillowed on Jensen’s thigh.
It’s a peaceful moment.
“So, the plan.” Jensen doesn’t even open his eyes at the sound of Jared’s voice, he’s so relaxed, though he does reach out to curl his hand around Jared’s bicep. The muscle bunches and flexes under Jensen’s fingers and he slips his thumb under the edge of Jared’s sleeve. “The bus is almost here, and it’s about an hour and a half ride to Garden City, where we’ll have to wait about an hour to catch the train out west.”
“Sounds good,” Jensen replies amiably, and Jared’s voice is a bit hesitant when he continues.
“I know the ocean is our destination, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the journey, right?” Jensen opens his eyes and looks down to see Jared’s face turned towards him, chin tucked into his shoulder and eyes hopeful. “I have some stops in mind, other things you should see. It’ll take a little longer to get to California, but it’ll be fun. Is that okay?”
Jensen smiles lazily and reaches out to touch Jared’s cheek with his fingertips. He’s got a bit of stubble and it rasps pleasantly against the pads of his fingers. He’s so full and it’s making him sleepy. He can feel his eyes drooping as he watches Jared.
“Jared, you haven’t steered me wrong yet,” Jensen tells him, giving into curiosity and sliding a strand of Jared’s hair between his fingers. It’s soft as silk and Jensen sort of wants to bury his nose in it to see if it still smells like his own shampoo. “At this point, I don’t think there’s anything you could suggest that I’d say no to.”
Jared’s expression goes unreadable at that, eyes dark and cheeks tinged pink. He must be spending too much time in the sun. Jared’s lips part and he looks like he’s about to say something and Jensen gently pinches his earlobe between his thumb and forefinger. There’s a small, dark hole in the center of it, like he once had his ear pierced. There’s so much about Jared that he doesn’t know.
There’s so much that he wants to learn.
Jared sways forward slightly, eyes bright, but whatever he was about to say is forgotten as a large bus pulls up. A blaring horn heralds its arrival and Jensen sits up excitedly.
“Back in the bag, Rigs.” He leans over the edge of the fountain to scoop his pet up. Rigby had been dead asleep and he gives an irritated squeak at the rude awakening. He turns his back on Jared and uses a quick burst of magic to pull the water from Rigby’s quills and flick it back into the fountain before placing him back in his bag. When he turns around Jared is standing, toeing at the brick with a scuffed sneaker.
“Here’s your ticket.” Jared pulls a slip of paper out of his back pocket and hangs it over. It reads Jensen Morgan, Destination: Garden City, KS and he sort of wants to frame it. “Your ticket is important. Do not lose your ticket.”
“How’d you know my last name?” Jensen clutches the ticket to his chest as if it’s made of gold, which it may as well be.
“It was written in the cover of your books,” Jared tells him. “I didn’t mean to snoop, but you had Good Omens. It’s one of my favorites.”
“Mine too!” They just kind of grin stupidly at each other until a sharp whistle makes Jensen jump. They look over to see a hefty man hanging out of the door to the bus, crooking his fingers at them impatiently.
“Boys, you gettin’ on this bus or what?” The man calls, and Jared gathers up the duffle bag while Jensen remains in charge of Rigby and their bag of snacks. “Time’s a-wastin’!”
Jared heads over and Jensen follows, looking up at the giant vehicle with slight trepidation. The driver rips the ends off of their tickets and ushers them onto the bus. Jared leads them to seats near the back and reaches up to stuff their bag in the overhead storage area. His shirt rides up to reveal the sharp lines of his hipbones. They’re very pretty, but he’s too skinny. He definitely needs more cheeseburgers.
“Window seat’s all yours, man,” Jared tells him, bowing graciously when Jensen bounces excitedly into the seat. Jared sits down next to him and Jensen carefully sets Rigby’s bag between them before pressing his face against the glass.
The bus pulls away from the station and Jensen can’t help the quiet, eager chuckle that spills out of him. He’s doing it. He’s really doing it! He’s leaving and he’s going to see America and the ocean and it’s all because of Jared.
Jensen turns in his seat and leans over to lay a quick, smacking kiss on Jared’s cheek. It lands on his sharp cheekbone, lips scratching against his sideburn, and then he turns back to the window to focus on everything rushing past the window.
He misses Jared turn beet red and smile dazedly before slumping down in his seat, but Jensen’s grin grows even wider when he feels Jared take his hand and thread their fingers together.
The ride flies by. Jensen gawks at all the cars on the freeway and asks Jared questions non-stop. He’d be worried about annoying Jared, but he answers every question in an amused tone and never lets go of his hand, so he must not be too much of a nuisance.
“There’s so many people,” Jensen says as they enter the train station. Jared gives him a funny look and chuckles, pulling Jensen in with an arm around his shoulders.
“I can’t wait to see your face when we get to Vegas if that’s what you say at an Amtrak station in nowhere, Kansas,” Jared replies, and Jensen just grins at him.
“I like people,” Jensen says happily, leaning against Jared as they walk. “But I like you best.”
“Ain’t you a sweetheart,” Jared replies. He gives Jensen a little squeeze before letting him go and stepping up to the counter. Jensen steps right up next to him, ever curious.
“Can we get two – “
“Hi!” Jensen interrupts, smiling cheerfully at the lady manning the ticket counter. She has bright red hair and even brighter lipstick. Her nametag says Deborah.
“Hello,” Deborah says warmly, giving Jensen a bright smile in return. “My, my. Aren’t you two handsome? What can I do for ya today, darlins?”
“Can we get two tickets to Williams Junction?” Jensen elbows him gently in the ribs. “Uh, please?” She nods and starts clacking on her keyboard. “Uh, do you have any sleeper cars left open? I’d like to get one of the little rooms with just the two beds, if you have any.”
“Sure thing. We’ve got a few left open.” She looks at them and smiles coyly. “I hope the two of y’all can survive the night in separate beds.” Jensen looks down to where he has his arm looped through Jared’s and brushes crimson. “Oh, hush now. The pair of ya are cute as anything. Don’t let anyone ever tell ya different.”
“Uh, thanks Debbie.” Jared slides a credit card across the counter at her, and Jensen stares at the side of Jared’s face. If Jensen understood correctly, Deborah mistook them for a couple. He’s not entirely put off by her assumption. Far from it, actually. The tips of his ears burn when Jared shakes his arm free of Jensen’s grasp and loops it around his back instead, rubbing absently between his shoulder blades.
“Here you are, Mr. Winchester,” she says, and Jared nods at her as he takes the receipt. Jared Winchester. That’s a nice name. “That’ll be four hundred sixty-eight on your card.”
Jared’s eyes widen a little at the total, but he signs the slip anyway and pushes it back to her before taking the tickets. She tells them to have a nice journey and Jensen barely hears her over his sudden despair. Jared leads them away from the ticket counter and Jensen stumbles along blindly.
“Jared, that was expensive,” Jensen says miserably, pulling them to a halt in the middle of the station. He may not have much experience with money, but he still knows that nearly five hundred dollars is a lot of it. “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” Jared tilts his head in a way that reminds Jensen of puppies he’s seen in movies, eyes big and soft. Jensen bites his lip guiltily.
“I don’t have any money,” Jensen says, feeling horrible about it. “You’ll have to pay for everything and I can’t help at all. You shouldn’t have to do that.”
To his surprise, Jared throws an arm around Jensen’s shoulders and laughs against his head. Jensen feels hot puffs of air against his scalp and Jared’s shoulders are shaking. Jensen isn’t sure what’s so funny.
“Jen, that’s the very last thing you need to worry about,” Jared tells him, pulling back so he can look him in the eye. “Seriously, look at me. I don’t want you worrying about the cost of anything. I’m not, so you shouldn’t either, okay?”
“But Jared – “
“No, Jensen. I’m serious. It’s no big deal.” Jared drops down onto a nearby bench and Jensen sits next to him, holding Rigby’s bag on his lap. The hedgehog seems to have lapsed into a trail mix coma, snoozing away completely dead to the world. “I’m just happy to show you around, Jen. Things can get kinda boring when you’re always by yourself, you know?”
“Did you forget who you’re talking to?” Jensen’s lips quirk up at Jared’s expression, and they both end up laughing. Jensen still feels bad that he can’t help pay for the cost of anything, but there’s not really anything that he can do about that. He’ll just have to make sure Jared knows how grateful he is for everything.
“So, you got your first bus ride out of the way,” Jared says, and Jensen looks up from where he’d been peering into Rigby’s bag. He’s never heard him snore before, but he’s clutching a dried cranberry in his paws and looks positively delighted, even in sleep. “Are you ready to spend the next,” he pauses to look at their tickets, “eighteen hours on a train?”
Jensen boggles. “Eighteen hours?”
“Country’s real big, Jen,” Jared says with a grin. “But it’ll be fun. We can play cards and raid the snack car. I have some movies on my phone that we can watch.”
“You have movies on that thing, too?” At Jared’s smug nod, Jensen just shakes his head. “You shouldn’t be messing around with dark magic, man.”
“You’re just jealous of my miracle brick.” They share a smile and soon there’s an announcement for their train coming in over the tinny loudspeaker. Jared gets up and grabs their bag, hooking it over his shoulder as he motions for Jensen to follow with a jerk of his chin. “You comin’?”
Jensen snorts delicately and gets up to follow.
He’d follow Jared anywhere.
Jared likes the train. It’s his primary form of long-distance travel. He’s not interested in flying, and especially not interested in trying to get through security with a fake ID. Besides, the train is relaxing and the view is usually awesome.
The conductor leads them to their sleeper car, a tiny little box of a room that’s barely as wide as Jared is tall. He rides Amtrak all the time but he’s only had the luxury of a sleeper car once, when he and Misha rode the rails from LA to Seattle and back just for the hell of it.
“This is where we’re sleeping?” Jensen asks as Jared tries valiantly to stuff their bag sideways into the laughably tiny closet.
“Yep. I call top bunk.” Jared hates the top bed. He always cracks his head on the ceiling, but he wants Jensen to have the window, so he’s willing to take the ache. Jensen looks at him skeptically. “The beds fold out.”
“More magic!” Jensen wiggles his fingers in Jared’s face. He’s laughing, and Jared’s happy to see that Jensen has decided to have a sense of humor about his former situation when he has every right to wallow. “Show me your ways, mysterious giant.”
Jared shows him how the seats fold down into a bed, and how another bed comes down from the wall above it. “This is me,” he says, waving at the top bunk with a flourish.
“Are you sure that’s going to hold you?” Jensen pats the thin bed skeptically. “You’re kind of enormous.”
“Nah, it’ll be fine. Besides, if it does collapse, I’ll have you to break my fall,” Jared says with mock sincerity. “So either way, I’ll be okay.”
“I know you’re joking,” Jensen replies, “but I’m still not entirely positive that I’m not going to be crushed to death in my sleep.”
The train chooses that moment to lurch into motion. Jared’s had his feet planted into the floor since they stepped into the car but Jensen, inexperienced with train travel, has not. He goes stumbling forward and Jared loops an arm around his waist to steady him. This is probably the worst thing Jared could have done because now their bodies are flush together and Jensen’s looking up at him with those wide green eyes.
Jared should have just let him fall on his stupidly attractive face, because now they’re having a moment, just like back at the bus station. Jensen’s clutching at his shirt and pouting those stupid pink lips of his up at Jared and he wants to kiss him, he really does. He almost leans it for it before the part of his brain still capable of rational thought kicks in.
Jared might want to kiss Jensen (he might want to do a lot of things to Jensen that he cannot mention in polite company), but he knows that it’s a bad idea. They’re trapped in a room roughly the size of a shoebox for the next eighteen hours, for one. And Jared might be many things, but he’s not the kind of guy that’s going to take advantage of someone that’s basically the walking textbook definition of ‘naïve’.
If Jensen wants to kiss him, well, that’s a whole other story. Jared is but a teenage man, after all. But until that time comes and god, he hopes it does, he’s perfectly happy to keep it all PG rated. Jared’s never just held hands with anyone before. He’s had sex, tons of it even, but he’s never done the whole hand-holding, cuddling, slow-burn courtship thing with anyone before.
It’s really nice. Not that he’d ever admit to anyone, especially Misha, because he’d either laugh at him or worse, look at him with those soft, sad eyes that he uses on Jared when he’s drunk and weirdly sage and wise.
“Nah, I’d never crush you,” Jared finally says, struggling to remember what it was they were talking about before he found himself with an armful of Jensen. “You’re way too cute.” He settles with giving him a peck on the forehead before pulling away. That’s safe, and totally worth it when Jensen’s cheeks go pink.
Jared pulls some brochures out of his back pocket and hands them over to Jensen while he puts the beds away. They’re pretty standard stuff, general train information and what they’ll see along their route, but Jensen throws himself into the nearest seat and starts reading them like he’ll be quizzed later.
Time moves smoothly, comfortably even. Jared pulls a ratty old deck of cards out of his bag and teaches Jensen all the card games that he doesn’t know which, unsurprisingly, is everything but solitaire. They play poker with gummy bears instead of chips, Rigby resting on the table between them, and Jared becomes very apt at pushing the hedgehog back with the side of his hand when he gets close and tries to steal their candy.
Jensen is awful at the game, thanks in no small part to his completely non-existent poker face. Jared can practically see the cards reflected in his wide, glassy eyes. No, Jensen’s game is Egyptian War. His reflexes are quicker than a fucking alley cat’s and Jared’s fingers are stinging by the end of the game.
They leave Rigby curled up in one of Jared’s sweatshirts when they head to the dining car for dinner. The meal that comes with their ticket is made up of overdone pot roast, freeze-dried mashed potatoes, and rubbery vegetables. Jared drags him to the snack counter and buys nearly one of everything they carry that qualifies as unhealthy. They return to their car with their arms laden with Doritos, sodas, and nearly every single type of candy that the snack car had.
They pull out Jensen’s bed and curl up together on it, Jared’s arm around Jensen’s shoulders and their backs pressed against the window, to watch Tron: Legacy on Jared’s phone. It’s one of his favorite movies. He and Misha got super baked and went to see it in the theater, but this is better. Even without all the high definition and the 3D, crammed onto Jared’s tiny screen with the epic soundtrack pumping out of weak, tinny speakers, it’s amazing just because of how much Jensen enjoys it.
Judging by the small collection of DVD’s back at Jensen’s cabin and the complete lack of both cable and internet, Jared assumed that Jensen hadn’t really seen anything made after 1987. Turns out that he was right, because Jensen watches Sam Flynn run around the Grid like it’s the coolest thing he’s ever seen, and Jared spends more time watching him than he does the movie.
When the credits roll, Jensen turns his head and yawns into Jared’s shoulder. It’s barely past nine, but it’s been a long day Jensen’s probably had a lot less experience running on no sleep than Jared has.
”C’mon,” Jared says quietly, carefully jostling Jensen until he sits up and blinks owlishly. Rigby runs up Jensen’s arm from his lap to his shoulder and Jared stretches. “Time for bed.”
Jensen nods sleepily and disentangles himself from Jared, who gets up and pulls down his own bed. They leave Rigby on Jensen’s pillow and gather what they need from Jared’s bag. Jared’s planning on brushing his teeth and just taking off his pants, but Jensen’s pulling out honest to god black and blue checkered pajamas. Jared stifles a laugh and leads them to the tiny bathrooms down the hall. They meet back in the room and Jared locks the door as Jensen climbs into bed with Rigby. Jared has no idea how he’s planning on spending a night in a glorified cot with a spiky hedgehog, but that’s his cross to bear. Jared scratches the top of Rigby’s head and ruffles Jensen’s hair before pulling himself up into his own bunk.
There’s nothing but the sounds of their sheets rustling for a few moments and Jared’s wrist twinges with pain when he shoves his hand under his flat pillow. It’s hard to believe that it was barely thirteen hours ago that he woke up tied to a chair in a stranger’s house. Jared snorts softly and pushes his hair away from his face. What a day.
Jared’s eyes are closed and he’s on the precipice of sleep when Jensen’s soft, hesitant voice saying his name brings him back to awareness.
“I just wanted to say thanks,” Jensen tells him, voice barely audible but full of honestly all the same. “This was the greatest day of my life.”
“It was definitely one for the record books,” Jared gets out. His heart’s up in his throat and he wants so badly to crawl into bed with Jensen, Rigby’s quills be damned. “Get some rest, man. Tomorrow will be even better.”
“I’m counting on it,” Jensen mumbles. Jared stares at the ceiling until he can hear Jensen’s soft, rhythmic breathing and then he lets the soft rocking of the train lull him to sleep.
He dreams of the ocean.