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THE SUN ROSE IN YOUR EYES

Chapter Text

Jeff followed the realtor out onto the patio. He noticed her smile as she saw a figure across the garden, raking leaves. It was a cold, cloudy day and the garden looked desolate, as all gardens do in winter.

"Oh there’s Jensen." She said, adding that he worked with his father and that they took care of most of the gardens in the area. "He’s a lovely boy, but he’s a little….slow." She sighed. "It’s such a waste."

Jensen had waved over when he saw them and when he finished the area he was working on, he approached them.

"Hey, Ms Harris." He said politely, and Jeff stared, amazed by the man’s beauty. He had large, vivid green eyes, full pink lips and short light brown hair. His face was slightly flushed from the cold air and he had a sprinkling of freckles across his nose and cheeks that was endearingly attractive. The layers of clothes he wore did not disguise his wide shoulders and narrow hips. "How are you today?"

"I’m fine, Jensen. This here is Mr Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He’s thinking of buying the house."

"Really?" Jensen grinned and held out his hand. "I'm very pleased to meet you."

"I'm pleased to meet you too, Jensen." Jeff couldn’t help but smile, the man’s broad grin was infectious. Jeff felt like he hadn’t smiled since Mark had left him, six long months ago.

"Are you gonna live here all by yourself, Mr Morgan?" Jensen asked and Jeff nodded. "Wow, it’s a big house for one man. The last people that lived here had four kids. Their daughter got married and moved to Denver. Their son left to go to college, and they’ve moved to San Antonio, California. I’ve always wanted to go to…" Jensen stopped abruptly, blushing. "I’m sorry I’m talking too much. My mamma says I talk too much when I’m nervous. You’ll have to excuse me Mr Morgan; I’m a few cents short of a dollar."

Jeff stared at Jensen in amazement. He was so handsome and charming, yet what he had said made Jeff’s heart ache. "You’re what?" Jeff retorted, almost angrily.

"I’m a few cents short of a dollar. My brain don’t work like everyone else’s." Jensen explained patiently. "I have learning difficulties, Mr Morgan."

"I understand Jensen, it’s okay." Jeff made himself smile. "Don’t apologise for talking too much. I don’t talk enough, my mamma says."

Jensen grinned but looked uncertain, then said "I hope you buy the house Mr Morgan, even if it is too big for you. You seem a real nice man."

He turned away, trudging back over to his rake and the leaves. Jeff stared after him.

"Well." Ms Harris sighed, staring after Jensen too wistfully. "Now you see what I mean. Beautiful but simple. Such a shame."

Jeff spun round to face her. "Don’t you dare belittle him! He’s a human being with the same rights as everyone else. He’s not simple and it’s not a shame he is like he is. He deserves respect."

"I’m sorry." She apologized, startled. "Um, I didn’t mean to offend you. Shall we carry on around the perimeter?"

Jeff sighed. "Look, my kid sister was born with Down’s Syndrome. She passed away last year. She was the sweetest, happiest person I ever knew."

"I’m sorry for your loss." She replied sincerely. "I hope you’ll keep Jensen and his dad on as your gardeners, if you decide to buy?" She added with a smile.

"I fully intend to." Jeff grinned, realising she had reeled him in. "Looks like I’m buying the place!"

Ms Harris called out "Hey Jensen, Mr Morgan’s gonna buy it!"

Jensen ran over and shook Jeff’s hand again, laughing and shouting, "Yippee! That’s great. You’ll like it here, it’s real nice."

"Thanks Jensen." Jeff laughed too. "I like it here already."

Chapter Text

Jeff moved in two weeks later and on the first night he walked around the rooms, wondering if he had made a mistake. The house was big. Five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a study, a dining room and a huge lounge. It felt empty and lonely and he could hear Jensen saying "Wow, it’s a big house for one man!" Then he smiled.

Jensen.

He had a feeling that seeing him once a week during the winter and twice a week in summer would ease the emptiness and loneliness.

Jeff looked at the largest bedroom, the one he had decided to make his studio. It had huge windows that gave a fantastic light and views over the lake. It needed a coat of paint; Jeff liked to work in a white-walled room. Jeff decided to go and buy some paint right now, as he needed to buy some groceries, too. As he left the house, he smiled when he saw Jensen working in the front garden of the opposite house. He was with his dad, who was trimming a hedge and Jensen was following behind, collecting up the leaves and twigs.

Jeff made a decision and within minutes he was standing talking to the two men.

"So you want Jensen to do some painting?" Mr Ackles eyed Jeff cautiously. "He’s not a decorator y’know. I can’t vouch for the quality of his work."

"Please Pops, please let me. I like painting with brushes and rollers and it would be warm inside." Jensen pleaded, shivering dramatically. "I’m getting so tired of being cold all the live-long day."

Mr Ackles and Jeff both smiled. "How can you say no?" Jeff chuckled.

"Well okay, then. We’re not too busy this time of year. He can start tomorrow if you like." Mr Ackles agreed begrudgingly. Jeff wasn’t sure what to make of him; he looked like a typical hard-working man, his face was weather-beaten and weary, and he was polite enough. However, his eyes never met Jeff’s for more than a second or two and as he looked at the man, Jeff’s gut instinct yelled ‘shifty son-of-a-bitch’.

"Thanks Pops! I’ll do a real good job. I’ll work hard." He hugged his father then turned to Jeff, repeating, "I’ll do a real good job. I’ll work hard." Jeff thought for one moment that Jensen was going to hug him too and was a little disappointed when he seemed to rein himself in and shook his hand instead. "Thank you Mr Morgan."

Jeff said goodbye after making the final arrangements and drove into town feeling much happier, and convinced that he had bought the right house.

 

Jeff felt a jolt of pure pleasure when he opened the door to a very eager Jensen the next morning. Jeff thought if Jensen was a dog he would be wagging his tail right now.

"Morning Mr Morgan!" He grinned and his eyes lit up in happiness. "I've been so excited about coming here I been up since daybreak! Don’t let my Pops know. He won’t let me have coffee if I don’t sleep good and I like coffee."

Jeff smiled back and ushered Jensen inside. "Your secret is safe with me! I only hope painting walls isn’t going to be disappointing, Jensen."

"Well, I’m real pleased to be painting your walls, Mr Morgan, but really I’m just happy to be working inside. An'…" Jensen paused and blushed a little. "An' I like you. You seem a nice man."

"I like you too, Jensen and I think this is going to be fun!" Jeff managed to keep his voice steady, despite the way that Jensen's smile made his heart beat faster and his knees shake. He took a deep breath and showed Jensen up to the studio.

Jensen worked hard and methodically, but he seemed to be unable to be anywhere near paint without getting it all over himself. On his hands, in his hair, even in his eyelashes. By lunchtime he looked as white as the paint and Jeff chuckled.

"Time for a break, Jensen. And to wash some of that paint off."

"I’m sorry Mr Morgan. I’m clumsy 'cos I’m a few cents short of a dollar, mamma says." Jensen looked sorrowful.

"You’re doing a fine job, Jensen. You’re not clumsy. You just seem to attract paint, like honey attracts bees!" Jeff said, keeping his tone light although he hated the way Jensen spoke about himself.

"I surely do." Jensen laughed. "I’m real hungry, too. I’ll wash up real quick." He paused at the doorway, looking uncertain. "Um, Mr Morgan?"

"Yes, Jensen?"

"Where should I eat? I mean, I usually eat in the van with my Pops, but he’s not here…"

"You can eat in the kitchen with me. And I know you brought some food with you, but if you want to share my soup you’re welcome."

Over lunch, during which Jensen ate the contents of his packed lunch, plus two bowls of soup and several slices of bread, they chatted easily and Jeff got to know the handsome young man better.

"My mamma works in the supermarket. She brings home damaged goods, tins with dents in, but it’s all perfectly safe to eat." Jensen told him, continuing to tell Jeff all about his parents and where he lived and how much he liked working with his Pops. They carried on working through the afternoon, Jensen either chatting away or singing along to the radio when it was a song he knew, and Jeff realised his new friend had a good voice.

The next day Jensen arrived on time, looking excited again. "I like working inside better’n outside in the cold. An' I like working with you Mr Morgan, you talk to me different to other folk." He informed Jeff as he shook his hand. "An' I like hearing you talk."

Jeff chuckled. "Well, I like working with you too, Jensen. And I like hearing you talk - and sing." Jensen smiled and Jeff's day became brighter.

The morning passed quickly; Jeff felt a pang of regret when he realised they would be finished by the end of the day. He sighed audibly and Jensen noticed.

"What’s wrong, Mr Morgan? Did I do something stupid?" Jensen asked anxiously.

"No, of course you haven't, Jensen." Jeff reassured him. "You've done an excellent job. I’m just sorry that we’re nearly done."

"Oh..." Jensen frowned. "Me too...could we…um....could we paint more rooms?" He added hopefully.

Jeff laughed. "We could, unfortunately it’s not necessary. But I’ll need help setting this room up and then…" Jeff looked at the handsome young man thoughtfully. He was up the small step ladder, paintbrush poised, his face covered in white speckles, his mouth slightly open and his green eyes wide - he was so beautiful. "I’d love to paint you." Jeff declared, surprising himself, and Jensen, too.

Jensen’s face under the speckles went pale. "But I don’t wanna be covered in paint, Mr Morgan!"

"No, I mean paint a picture of you." Jeff smothered his laughter, as Jensen had looked so worried.

"Oh!" Jensen’s face went from anxious to amused and he started to laugh. "I thought you meant…paint me…with paint." Jeff started to laugh too.

"It's my fault, I didn’t explain properly." Jeff smiled. "C’mon let’s have a lunch break."

Jensen went to clean himself up a little while Jeff made chicken and bacon sandwiches. Jensen had brought his own lunch again, but Jeff knew he could and would eat more.

"Jensen are you happy working with your dad? Is it what you want to do?" Jeff asked over lunch.

Jensen stopped chewing and looked thoughtful. "Ain't done nothin' else. I like it when it’s warm. Don’t like being cold. An' I like cutting the grass."

"That’s your favourite part?" Jeff asked.

"Yeah, it’s like driving a car. I can pretend it’s my car an' I feel kinda free." Jensen smiled.

"Do you drive?"

Jensen laughed like Jeff had said something silly. "Course not. I can’t drive a car. Not allowed."

"Why aren't you allowed?"

"It’d be dangerous letting someone like me out on the roads." Jensen replied solemnly, and Jeff could hear his parent’s words in Jensen’s mouth.

"There are a lot of people more dangerous than you out on the roads." Jeff said.

"I can’t be trusted with machines. I’m lucky Pops lets me use the sit-on mowers. I’m too clumsy." Jensen blushed, then frowned. "That’s why my Pops doesn’t let me use the chainsaw no more."

"I’m sure you’re not all that clumsy." Jeff's words died on his lips; he watched aghast as Jensen rolled up his sleeve, revealing an angry looking scar several inches long running across his left arm just above his elbow.

"Oh my God." Jeff gasped involuntarily.

"Chainsaw slipped. Damn near lost my arm." Jensen shrugged. "Mamma was real angry with Pops and when I got out the hospital I had to promise to never touch one again. Or an axe."

"That must have been very painful and frightening." Jeff said softly.

"It sure was." Jensen bit his lip, his eyes filling with tears. "I wish sometimes…."

" What do you wish, Jensen?" Jeff encouraged, gently.

"I wish I was the full dollar. That I wasn’t so...so stupid an'...an' clumsy." Jensen started to cry and Jeff moved around the table to sit next to Jensen, pulling him into a hug. Jensen stiffened and pulled away, looking frightened.

"I’m sorry, please don’t be scared." Jeff said, worried now as Jensen was rocking backwards and forwards in distress. "Jensen, I’d never harm you."

"I’m bad….make men touch me…it’s wrong…my fault…they hurt me…" Jensen sobbed and Jeff felt his skin crawl. "Not allowed…no touching..."

Jeff was at a loss to know what to do, but he had to do something. "Jensen, I’m going to put my hands on your shoulders, that’s all. You need to calm down. And I want you to listen to me." Jeff placed his hands on the young man’s trembling shoulders and he stopped rocking.

Jensen gasped for air and looked up at Jeff. "M’sorry."

"Don’t apologise. Listen to me." Jeff reined in his anger, as it wasn't Jensen he was angry with. "I don’t know what has happened to you and I don’t think you should tell me, not yet, as we’ve only just met. But if something bad happened to you and people hurt you, it was NOT your fault, Jensen. And the accident you had with the chainsaw, well, it could have happened to anyone. They are dangerous things." Jeff was aware of Jensen’s big teary eyes staring at him intently. "You’re not stupid or clumsy. You work hard and you're good at what you do. You’re a special person, Jensen."

"But my Mamma says I’m stupid and clumsy." Jensen whispered. "An' she says it’s not my fault, I was born like it. An' I’ll always be her special boy."

"Your Mamma loves you, Jensen, but she’s wrong. You’re not a boy, you’re a grown man. And she shouldn't say bad things about you, even if she means well."

"She says I’ll never be a man, 'cause I’m still a child up here." Jensen pointed to his head, his voice still quiet.

"Oh God." Jeff sighed, inwardly cursing Mrs Ackles for the damage she had done to Jensen. "I want to help you Jensen, I want you to learn to accept the man you are and build on it. I know you can be so much more, do more."

"I don’t really get what you mean, Mr Morgan," Jensen admitted, "but there’s something I really want to learn."

"To drive a car?" Jeff asked, smiling fondly.

Jensen shook his head. "No. I’d like to learn how to….to read a book."

Jeff felt once again like he had been punched. "Didn’t you go to school?"

Jensen blushed and nodded. "I did but I couldn’t do it, couldn’t see the words, couldn’t make them with a pencil. Teachers just let me play an' draw an' sing songs."

Jeff ran his hand through his hair, wanting so much to confront the teachers that had failed Jensen. There was no way he was ever going to let Jensen down. "I would love to help you, Jensen." He smiled, adding, "I’d also like you to draw and sing for me, when you're here."

Jensen’s whole face lit up with a huge grin and Jeff felt like he was bathing in pure sunshine.

Chapter Text

Over the next few weeks. Jensen worked for Jeff two days a week, helping Jeff get his new house how he wanted it, and also sitting for Jeff. Jensen had found it hard to settle and sit still at first, then Jeff hit upon a great idea. Jensen sang along to the CD player for Jeff, sitting relatively still while he did so. It was Jeff’s favourite time of the week, painting Jensen, listening to his warm, light voice singing everything from Led Zep’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to Michael Buble’s ‘Crazy Love’. Jeff had guessed that Jensen had a great memory and the way he sang the songs off by heart confirmed this.

Once the painting was almost finished and the house in order, Jeff continued to see Jensen twice a week. After he had tidied the garden, Jensen would spend an hour with Jeff, learning how to read and write. Jeff had done his research into the best ways to teach dyslexic people and it wasn’t long before Jensen could write the alphabet and his name, and read simple sentences. Jensen had been so delighted when he wrote his own name and read his first sentence. Jeff had been so proud of him, and surprised that Jensen didn’t want his father to know about his lessons. However, as he got to know them, he realised that Jensen was far happier and more confident when he was alone. Whenever his father was around, Jensen seemed to almost physically shrink, becoming smaller, more vulnerable and childlike.

Jeff felt so angry with Jensen’s parents for simply writing him off, not expecting him to learn or make anything of his life. It seemed to Jeff that this had suited Alan Ackles, keeping Jensen as free labour. Jensen had never mentioned about his ‘being bad, making men touch me’ again. Jeff had not liked to bring it up, aware that he needed to let Jensen get to know him and trust him.

Jeff had finished the portrait and had had it framed, a light pine that set off the paleness of Jensen’s skin and the green of his eyes. He had it on the easel, deciding where to hang it.

"Let me see." Jensen asked excitedly, startling Jeff from his thoughts. "Please Mr Morgan."

Jeff had kept the painting hidden from Jensen. It was one of his rituals - no one saw one of his works until it was completed. Jensen had begged and pleaded at first, then just accepted Jeff’s rule.

Jeff smiled. "Come on over." Jensen bounded across the studio to stand next to Jeff.

Jeff heard him gasp and felt his body tense up as he gazed at his own portrait. He gripped Jeff’s elbow tightly. "It’s…it’s me….like a mirror but…but you make it more real…" Jensen said breathlessly. "I look like I’m smiling, but I’m sad too." Jensen’s voice wobbled as he looked at Jeff, asking, "Am I...am I sad, Jeff?"

Jeff moved over to Jensen and wiped a tear from his beautiful face with his thumb. "I think you have deep sadness inside you, Jensen. Mostly you’re happy, but the bad things that have happened to you make you sad. I’m sorry it’s upset you, Jen. I just painted you how I saw you. Beautiful, brave and handsome."

"Sometimes I feel like I ache inside." Jensen clutched his fist to his chest. "Right here. An' sometimes I feel like my head’s spinning. When I do stupid things, when I make Pops mad with me. When men look at me like I’m a cheap whore."

Jeff felt sick at Jensen’s words. He couldn’t think of anything to say without crying himself, so he pulled Jensen into his arms. Jensen sobbed for a while, and Jeff started murmuring things to comfort him, telling him it would all be okay. Jeff hated himself for enjoying the feel of Jensen in his arms, but he so wanted to love him and protect him, to keep him safe and never let him go. He wanted….

Suddenly Jensen pulled away and looked at Jeff with fear in his eyes. Jeff realised with horror that he was hard, that Jensen must have felt it, that he had frightened him.

"No…no…I gotta go…I can’t…." Jensen stumbled backwards away from Jeff; in his distress he walked right into the easel, knocking his picture to the floor with a clatter.

Jensen seemed to crumble, like a puppet with its strings cut, joining his image on the floor, on his knees and his arms spread out in front of him. "I’m sorry, I’m so sorry..." he cried over and over.

Jeff knelt down beside him, careful not to touch him, and said gently "Jen, don’t worry, nothing’s damaged." Jeff felt his words turn to ash in his mouth. The painting was just fine, but the sobbing man was very damaged and Jeff didn’t know how to help him. "C’mon, let’s get you cleaned up, then we’ll have a drink before you leave. I’m going to help you up now."

Jeff gently pulled Jensen up onto his knees. Jensen wouldn't look at him, kept his eyes cast down. "I’m sorry I’ve ruined everything." He said, his voice flat and sad. "I can’t work for you no more."

"What do you mean?" Jeff stayed knelt beside Jensen. "Look, it's me who should apologise. I find you incredibly attractive, Jensen, and I couldn’t control how my body reacted to being so close to you."

"It’s my fault. I make men do bad things." Jensen lifted his head a little, looking at Jeff warily. "I’m a bad boy. Pops said this would happen, that I’d ruin this job too. I can’t be trusted. He's gonna be so mad, he's gonna beat me, 's'all my fault..."

"Whoa Jensen, that is all so wrong." Jeff sighed and touched Jensen’s cheek tenderly. "We need to talk this all through. I’m going to make us some coffee and break out the cookies while you go and wash your face, okay?"

Jensen nodded and smiled sadly, getting to his feet and pulling Jeff up. By the time they sat down at the kitchen table, Jensen looked better but seemed anxious. "Will Pops be here soon?" He asked.

"It’s okay, not for at least half an hour." Jeff said and Jensen relaxed a little. "Now I’m going to tell you some things that you need to know. I’m not saying that your parents have lied to you, just that their view of things isn’t necessarily the right one." Jensen nodded solemnly and bit into his choc chip cookie. "First of all, as I’ve told you many times now Jensen, you’re not stupid. You have a good memory, you’re picking up reading and writing so fast now; you just need a little extra help, that's all. Secondly, your Pops should never harm you, no matter what you do, and I’m going to speak to him about this behaviour. If you want me to."

Jensen stopped chewing and looked at Jeff with huge, worried eyes. "You’d do that?"

"Yes I will. It’s not right what he’s doing to you, Jensen." Jeff swallowed his anger and smiled at the young man to reassure him. "It’ll be okay, I promise. And Jensen, we need to talk about sex."

Jensen blushed and looked down at his half-eaten cookie. "I mustn’t, it’s bad."

"No it isn’t, Jen." Jeff sighed. "Sex is a natural part of life. You shouldn’t have to live without it. If men have touched you, done bad things to you, it’s their fault, not yours. You can’t help how you look. But you deserve to be with someone, to have love and a full life."

"I can’t, no one would want me. Not for more'n a quick fuck." Jensen said, his voice resigned.

"Oh God, Jen, why would you say that?" Jeff felt his heart break a little more for Jensen.

"It’s what my Pops told me." Jensen frowned, thinking about what Jeff had said. "But it’s not ‘cessarily right? Is that what you mean Jeff?"

"Yes." Jeff smiled broadly at Jensen. He wanted to kiss him; he was so pleased he was getting through to him. "Your Pop’s been trying to protect you from people who just want to use you. But he’s also stopping you from finding someone special, someone who will love you."

"Even though I’m a few cents…" Jensen stopped to correct himself, using the phrase Jeff had taught him carefully. "Even though I have in-te-lec-tual disability."

"Yes. That’s such a tiny part of who you are, Jen." Jeff couldn’t help but take Jensen’s free hand in his. "You have so much to give and you deserve to be loved."

Jensen bit his bottom lip, blushing a little. "Thanks. You don’t see me like my folks do. You make me feel like...like a grown up. An' like I can do stuff."

"You are a grown up, Jensen. And there’s a lot more stuff you can do." Jeff smiled at him.

 

Jeff considered speaking to Alan Ackles about his behaviour towards Jensen, but over the next few weeks Jensen was happy and settled, so it seemed easier not to upset the apple-cart. One unusually hot spring day, Jensen climbed off of the mower, looking hot and sweaty. The sprinkler was on watering the other side of the garden and Jeff watched with amusement as Jensen ran straight over and into the water. He yelped and giggled as the cold water hit him, diving in and out of the spray. He stood back, breathless and shook himself like a dog. He saw Jeff watching and grinned.

"Hey Mr Morgan, why don’t ya come over and cool off?" Jensen called across and Jeff shook his head, laughing.

"I’m cool enough over here Jensen, thanks." Jeff saw a look of hurt cross Jensen’s face, and he realised again that Jensen was almost as lonely as he was. Jensen’s shoulders slumped and he started to walk back towards the house. "Hold up." Jeff yelled as he stood up. "I’m coming over. Can’t let you have all the fun can I?"

Jensen’s face lit up with a huge smile. As Jeff approached, he could see that Jensen's hair was dripping wet and his face was soaked, making his eyelashes look even longer and his green eyes sparkle. He was so incredibly beautiful.

Jeff wanted to pull Jensen into his arms and kiss him, touch him, feel him. hold him and never let him go. Instead he gave a fake ‘whoop’ and forced a smile as he jumped into the spray. Jeff jumped straight out again cursing.

"Holy fuck, that’s freezing!" Jeff spluttered and Jensen laughed, grabbing his arm and pulling him back into the freezing water.

"Don’t be such a big girl." Jensen chuckled as Jeff tried to pull away.

Jeff hadn’t felt so free and joyful in a long time, as they wrestled and shrieked under the water. They were both soaked to the skin, Jeff in his jeans and a short sleeved shirt, Jensen in shorts and a t-shirt. Suddenly, as Jensen made a grab for Jeff, his foot slipped on the wet grass and they both landed in a heap, Jeff on his back and Jensen on top of him. They were momentarily stunned, then both burst out laughing. Jensen rolled off and lay on his back next to Jeff, still giggling.

"Wow. I haven’t had this much fun in years. Or laughed so hard!" Jeff chuckled.

"Your eyes crinkle up when you smile and laugh. It looks kinda nice." Jensen told him. "You should laugh more, Mr Morgan."

"You make me smile and laugh, Jensen. And I think you could now start calling me Jeff, now we’re friends."

"Really?" Jensen sat up, looking down at Jeff in pleased surprise. "We’re friends? That’s great Mr M…Jeff."

"I think once you’ve wrestled with someone in a sprinkler, you qualify as friends." Jeff joked, trying to look at the younger man’s face and not at the way his wet t-shirt clung to his chest.

"You make me happy, too." Jensen replied quietly "I feel like…" Jensen bit his lip as he tried to find the words. "I feel like I’m myself with you. I don’t need to keep 'pologising for bein' stupid."

"Jensen, you’re not stupid." Jeff assured him.

"You’re the only one who thinks that." Jensen sighed and laid back on the grass again.

Jeff rolled over so he could look down at Jensen. "I think you’re beautiful, Jensen. Funny. Charming. Honest. Kind." He stared into Jensen’s green eyes. "And your eyes crinkle up when you smile and laugh, too. It looks kinda nice."

Jensen raised his hand to stroke Jeff’s beard tentatively. "You’re beautiful, too."

Jeff was about to kiss Jensen, unable to resist the temptation, when he heard Alan Ackles yelling from behind the fence.

"Jensen? You still here, boy?" Jeff jumped up quickly, pulling Jensen up to his feet. "Couldn’t get no answer from the door."

"I’m here, Pops, I’ll meet you out front." Jensen called back, his eyes never leaving Jeff’s.

"Don’t hang around boy. We’re runnin' late for Miss Johnson." Ackles shouted out.

"Sorry Pops." Jensen looked torn, like he wanted to stay right there with Jeff.

"I’m sorry Jensen. I shouldn’t have done that." Jeff said quietly as they heard Ackles stomp away and slam his truck door.

"But I…I wanted you to." Jensen whispered back, blushing. He turned away and ran back to the house.

Jeff stood there stunned and confused. Now Jensen was gone, he felt uncomfortable in his wet, clinging clothes and groaned when he saw the grass stains on his favourite jeans. What the hell was he thinking of? He couldn’t take advantage of Jensen. It wasn’t right. Yet Jeff had been so critical of Jensen’s parents treating him like a child, wasn’t he doing the same now? Jensen was a man, with a man’s needs and desires. And he said he wished Jeff had kissed him. He had stroked Jeff’s face. Perhaps he wanted Jeff as much as Jeff wanted him. Jeff couldn't help but hope so.

Chapter Text

The next day Jensen was subdued when he arrived and Jeff was worried that he felt ashamed and confused about what had almost happened. He had said hello to Jeff, but barely looked up at him and when Jeff tried to make conversation he carried on walking, mumbling about ‘getting on with the job.’

Jeff let him go, sighing to himself and carried on with his book on the veranda, trying not to keep looking at the young man weeding the flowers, although Jeff’s eyes seemed to be magnetically drawn to those broad shoulders, that long back and that perfect bottom. Jeff got up after an hour and went inside to get some fresh orange juice. He called out to Jensen to join him and Jensen came across, his shoulders down, his usual carefree walk missing.

‘You okay Jensen?’ Jeff asked as he poured him a large glass of iced orange juice.

Jensen looked up and Jeff could clearly see that his bottom lip was split, like someone had hit him, and there was a bruise on his cheek. ‘Yeah. Just a bit hot. Thanks for the drink.’

‘Jensen, what happened to your face?’ Jeff asked, keeping his voice calm.

Jensen looked down at his hands holding the glass. ‘I walked into the door. I’m clumsy.’

‘Jensen look at me.’ Jeff said gently. ‘What really happened?’

‘I made us late for Miss Johnson. Pops hates being late for customers. He got real mad. It was my fault.’ Jensen’s voice was flat but he couldn’t hide the fear in it.

Jeff felt so angry he had to take a deep breath before he spoke again. ‘Does he get mad and beat you often?’ Jensen looked scared and so vulnerable Jeff just wanted to hold him and protect him. Instead he said ‘Jensen, it’s okay. You can tell me, you won’t be in trouble. I just want to know all about you, to help you and be your friend. Is that ok?’

Jensen nodded. ‘Yeah. I mean, yeah it’s okay and yeah, he has to hit me sometimes, because I’m slow and clumsy and upset him. He doesn’t like doing it, it’s harder for him than me.’ Jensen said, again repeating phrases his father had said. ‘But I don’t think his hand ever hurts as much as my ass or face does.’

Jeff wasn’t sure if he wanted to burst into angry tears or punch something. He swallowed his rage and patted the chair next to him. ‘Come, sit.’ He said and Jensen sat down, gazing at his almost empty glass. ‘You should know that what your father does is wrong, Jensen.’ He said gently, not wanting to distress him any further. ‘For example, if someone hit me, how would you feel?’

‘I’d be spitting feathers.’ Jensen said gruffly. ‘Why would anyone do that Mr Morgan?’ He looked up at Jeff now, his green eyes bright with tears.

‘No one would, Jensen, because it’s wrong. To harm another human being. It’s called physical assault and it is against the law.’

Jensen shook his head. ‘No, it’s different with people like me. I don’t know right from wrong and my Pops has to teach me.’

‘He doesn’t have to teach you with his fists!’ Jeff retorted, fighting to stay calm. ‘And you have the same rights as anyone else, Jensen. If your father came and assaulted me, split my lip and hurt my face, I would call the police and they would arrest him.’

‘No they wouldn’t. Not…not for me…’ Jensen shuddered. ‘I gotta…I should get on with….’ He stood up and stumbled away from Jeff.

‘Jensen, wait.’ Jeff stood up too and grabbed his sleeve. ‘Wait, please.’

‘Don’t touch me!’ Jensen said, panic in his voice and fear in his eyes. ‘Please!’

Jeff let go and watched Jensen half-walk and half-run back to the flower beds. He wasn’t sure whether to follow him and pursue the conversation or to leave him be. He decided to give Jensen some space and sat back down, glancing at his book but mainly watching Jensen work. He wanted to protect him and help him but was at a loss to know what to do. He decided that keeping Jensen working for him more would at least mean he could keep an eye out for him.

Jeff waited for half an hour then walked over to Jensen. ‘Hey, I was thinking of adding something to the corner of the garden some kind of feature.’ Jensen looked round and Jeff was pleased to see that although he still looked sad, he no longer looked scared. ‘Do you have any ideas?’

‘Um, I think a pond would look good. You could have a little patio area next to it ‘cause this corner gets the sun til the evening, and it would be a nice place to sit. You could have a little waterfall running down….’ Jensen blushed and bit his lip, looking uncertain now. ‘It’s just an idea.’

‘It’s a great idea. Perfect.’ Jeff smiled at him and Jensen smiled shyly back, the first smile Jeff had seen from him all day. ‘Tell me more.’

Jensen relaxed and became animated as he told Jeff his ideas and they discussed what they would need to get to put their plan to action. It was a warm day, spring finally seemed to be arriving, so Jeff set up their lunch on the back porch while Jensen washed his hands.

Jensen was quiet again and Jeff waited for him to break the silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable, Jeff never liked idle chatter anyway, but it was strange for Jensen to be so silent.

Jensen only ate one sandwich and a few potato chips. He stared down the garden and Jeff was about to speak when Jensen gave a sigh.

‘One of my teachers told the police. He saw my bruises. I told him I’d fallen, like pops told me to, but he didn’t believe me. He asked me straight out, like you did. And I told him.’ Jensen was still staring down the garden and Jeff presumed it was easier to talk without looking at him. ‘The police came to my house. Pops was real angry with me and slapped me across the face. The policemen…’ Jensen paused and took a breath. ‘They told him to stop, not to damage my pretty mouth ‘cause they had plans for it.’

‘Oh my God.’ Jeff whispered, horrified. Jensen didn’t seem to hear him, he was lost in his memories.

‘Pops came to an arrangement with them, they called once a week. I had to suck on their dicks like I did Pops and Jared’s. They wouldn’t arrest Pops if I did it. I didn’t want him to go to prison. I didn’t want my mamma to be upset.’ Jensen sighed. ‘The police never helped me and they told Mr Davies that I was a liar, that I couldn’t help it, it was ‘cause I was retarded and liked to make up stories.’

‘And the teacher believed that?’ Jeff asked, swallowing down the bile from his throat.

‘I guess so. He used to look at me funny, like he was real sorry for me, but he never asked me about any of my bruises or cuts after that.’

‘How…how old were you?’

‘I was 13, I think. Um, yep. I ‘member ‘cause Jared and Pops took me fishing on my birthday and told me I was a big boy now and that I had been teasing ‘em too long with my cock-sucking mouth. Pops had been making me touch his dick for a long time, just with my hands. I didn’t like having to put it in my mouth, I kept choking and I puked up. But they just kept on doing it anyways, training me, most days. So by the time the police joined in I was good at it. Pops said he knew I’d be good for something one of these days.’

Jeff felt cold and horrified. He shuddered involuntarily. ‘Jensen, I’m so sorry.’

Jensen glanced up at him, confused. ‘Why are you sorry? You ain’t never hurt me, Jeff.’

‘I’m sorry for what happened to you. You should have been protected by your family, not used by them.’ Jeff realised he was shaking from rage and shock.

‘You okay Jeff? You gone real pale.’ Jensen said, anxious now.

‘I’m real angry, Jensen, not with you.’ Jeff paused, an awful image coming to his mind. ‘Jensen, when did it stop? Or does your father still….’

Jensen’s face fell and he looked like he was going to throw up. ‘Mamma stopped them….stopped them letting other men….and Jared left…..but Pops….he….’

‘Shit.’ Jeff said as Jensen’s face went from pale to green and he helped Jensen upright. They made it across the room out into the hallway but before they got to the bathroom door, Jensen had thrown up, sinking to his knees and covering the hall rug in vomit. He was sobbing and moaning that he was so sorry between bouts of vomiting.

Jeff knelt beside him and rubbed his back, muttering soothing words to him. Once he had stopped, he managed to get Jensen upright and into the bathroom. He sat him down on the toilet and pulled off Jensen’s stained t-shirt.

‘Jensen, baby, look at me.’ Jeff said and Jensen raised red-rimmed eyes to him. ‘You have a shower, okay? I’ll get you some clean clothes and clean up the mess. Don’t worry about it. Okay?’

Jensen nodded and Jeff left him to roll up the rug and put it straight into a large black sack. It was beyond salvaging and easier just to dispose of than try to clean. He rinsed Jensen’s t-shirt and then chucked it into the washing machine. He leaned against the kitchen table, breathing heavily and feeling a mixture of anger and helplessness. Then he picked up his phone and dialled an old friend, Jim Beaver, a psychologist who worked with young people who had been abused.

Jeff explained Jensen’s problems briefly to Jim and that he wanted to know how to help him.

‘I’ll come and meet him if you want me to.’ Jim offered.

‘I’m not sure, Jim. He’s scared of his father, he’s been threatened and abused by him for a long time, I think. I’m not sure if he’ll speak to anyone.’

‘I’ve worked with kids like this before….’

‘He’s not a child!’ Jeff said, too defensively.

‘I know that!’ Jim said testily. ‘I usually work with teens, you know that. What I was going to say is that many of the young people’ Jim emphasised the words ‘I work with have the same problem. I know ways to help them.’

‘Thanks, sorry to bite your head off. I feel kinda protective. I hate the way his father uses him and belittles him. He has got some learning difficulties, sure, but he’s not stupid.’

‘You seem to have developed a real soft spot for him.’

‘Well, it’s close to home y’know, with my sister.’ Jeff knew that was only partially true. His older sister Joan had had Downs Syndrome and Jeff had been fiercely protective of her as they grew up. His parents had encouraged her to live as normal a life as possible. She could read and write by the age of 5 and was an excellent artist. She was active and enjoyed sports, not caring that she was always last in a race. She had died two years ago of heart failure aged just 42 and Jeff still felt the loss like a physical ache, like a part of him was missing.

‘I know, boy.’ Jim said kindly. Jeff smiled to himself. Jim was one of the few people that called him ‘boy’ and it made him feel young again and glad to have Jim’s support. Jeff had always looked older than his years and always been mature and it was nice sometimes to let someone else take charge and be the responsible one. ‘Listen, I’ll come over. Let’s see, tomorrow’s no good but I can do the day after, around lunch time?’

‘Really? That soon?’ Jeff was surprised. ‘Are you free?’

‘If he is being abused there’s no time to waste Jeff.’ Jim said grimly. ‘I’m not working tomorrow so it’s fine. And Jeff, don’t press him for more than he wants to tell you, or approach his father yet.’

‘Okay, thanks Jim.’ Jeff sighed. ‘I’ll fix up some lunch for us.’

‘You better had, boy! Least you can do after I’ve driven 90 miles.’ Jim chuckled.

They said goodbye and Jeff wandered back to the lounge just as Jensen appeared fresh from his shower, his hair still damp and his eyes red-rimmed. Jeff couldn’t take his eyes off of the graceful way Jensen moved and the way his t-shirt clung to his broad shoulders. Jensen looked at him shyly, biting his bottom lip. Jeff felt his dick harden

‘Stop it.’ He thought to himself. ‘You’re no better than his sicko father.’

‘Sorry again Jeff. I think I ruined your rug. D’you want me to clean anything up?’ Jensen asked.

‘No, no it’s all done. Let’s have a drink and then we’ll decide where to put that pond.’

 

Later, Jensen was back working in the garden when a flock of geese flew overhead and he craned his neck to follow them, moving around as he did so. His face was alight with wonder and the shadow of fear that had been evident earlier was wiped away.

Once the flock had gone out of his line of vision, Jensen saw Jeff watching him and waved his hand, giving Jeff a big smile.

‘Be great to fly wouldn’t it Mr Morgan?’ he called out.

‘Sure would Jensen.’ Jeff smiled back. ‘And don’t forget to call me Jeff.’ As soon as he said it he regretted the words. Jensen’s face fell and the shadow came back.

‘Um, okay.’ Jensen said. ‘I’d better get back to…’ His voice trailed off as he turned away and resumed his work. Jeff hated seeing him so dejected and hated himself for being so careless. Jeff phoned Alan Ackles and managed to keep his voice civil as he arranged for Jensen to work on the new pond and patio for the rest of the week. He had not been too pleased at first as he told Jeff it was getting to be their busy time of year, but Jeff offered to pay more for Jensen’s services and the odious man readily agreed.

 

The next morning Jensen spent digging a liver-shaped hole for the pond. Jeff walked over to inspect his work. ‘Nearly there, Jensen. Good job.’ He said gently, as Jensen still seemed depressed and anxious.

Jensen nodded. ‘We’re gonna need a liner Mr…Jeff.’

‘Yeah, I thought we’d drive out to the garden supplies store later. Is that okay? I need to get some plants for the pond too, could use your help.’

Jensen nodded again, but he looked like he wanted to run away or burst into tears. ‘I shouldn’t….be talking to you…be on my own with you….Pops don’t like it.’

Jeff sighed. ‘Look Jensen, I know your worried about what about your dad, but if you’re going to work with me we have to speak sometimes, don’t we?’

Jensen nodded, and then gave a sheepish smile. ‘Sure. Sorry Mr Morgan. I mean Jeff.’

‘Okay then. I reckon another hour will have this finished then you can clean up and we’ll hit the shop. And the diner if you like?’

Jensen’s face lit up. ‘That would be great.’ His face fell again and he bit his lip. Jeff was amazed at how expressive the younger man’s face was, he was like an open book and Jeff knew he was incapable of lying. ‘I’m supposed to eat the lunch my ma packed for me. On my own.’

‘No fraternising huh?’ Jeff grinned, trying to keep the conversation light.

‘I don’t know what that means.’ Jensen looked downcast. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘It just means being sociable.‘ Jeff said. ‘It’s not a common word, not many people would know it.’

Jensen stared at him for a moment. ‘Fratennising?’

‘Fraternising.’ Jeff corrected gently. ‘You can add it to your list.’

Jensen smiled and pulled out the small pad he kept in his pocket. ‘F.r.a.t.e.r.n.i.s.i.n.g.’ He spelt out slowly as he wrote it down and Jeff grinned.

‘That’s it, well done Jensen.’ Jeff felt foolishly proud.

‘Thanks Jeff. But I’d better stop all this frat-er-nising and finish this hole!’ He grinned and Jeff chuckled.

 

As Jeff walked back to the house, he wondered again how much of Jensen’s ‘disability’ was inherent and how much had been imposed by his upbringing. Jensen was smart and funny. Any learning difficulty he did have was very mild. They spent a few hours at the supplies store choosing the most suitable pond liner and plants, then headed for the diner. It was 1.30 by the time they got there and Jeff knew Jensen was ravenous.

As they sat down Jensen’s stomach gave a large growl and he blushed adorably.

‘Hungry?’ Jeff chuckled and Jensen laughed too. Jeff was so pleased to see him more relaxed and happy.

‘I could eat a dead horse with flies on.’ Jensen grinned.

‘Can’t promise that, but how’s about a bacon double cheeseburger?’

‘With onion rings?’ Jensen’s green eyes lit up with delight as Jeff nodded.

‘Sure.’ Jeff said. ‘Anything you want.’ Jeff wanted to add ‘honey’ or ‘darling’ to the sentence; he wanted to promise that he would look after Jensen and give him anything he wanted, forever. But he coughed to clear his throat instead and caught the waitress’s eye.

She came over, smiling brightly and gazing in open appreciation at Jensen, who was oblivious to her, still staring at the menu.

‘What can I get you gents?’ She asked, barely glancing at Jeff.

‘Two bacon double cheeseburgers, one with a side of onion rings. D’you want dessert Jensen?’

Jensen looked like a kid at Christmas. ‘Can I? Jeez thanks. Apple pie with ice cream. Please.’

Jeff saw the look of confusion on the waitress’s face. Jensen looked like a male model and sounded like an 8 year old boy. She giggled uncomfortably and Jeff scowled at her.

‘Oh, um, is that just one apple pie?’ She said, blushing.

‘Yes. Thank you.’ Jeff gave her a tight smile and she scurried away.

Jensen was still staring at the menu. ‘Jeff, what’s dis…discretionary mean?’

‘It means optional, that you don’t have to do something. Like I don’t have to tip the waitress.’

‘Oh.’ Jensen frowned. ‘Why wouldn’t you tip her? She seemed nice.’

Because she laughed at you, Jeff thought, as he said. ‘It was just an example.’

Jensen wrote ‘discretionary’ down in his notebook, then sat back with a smile.

‘I like eating in restaurants.’ Jensen declared. ‘It feels like my birthday.’

‘Do you usually go to restaurants on your birthday then?’

‘Yep. With my mamma. Every year. And I always have apple pie with ice cream.’ Jensen said.

‘I guess that’s your favourite?’ Jeff smiled.

Jensen nodded. ‘I like cherry pie too, Mrs Green, our neighbour, makes a real nice cherry pie. And I like pumpkin pie too and any kind of ice cream. If I’m a good boy in the summer I can go to Ben and Jerry’s and get anything I damned well please.’ Jensen stopped. ‘I’m talking too much ain’t I?’

Jeff realised he was staring. He loved listening to Jensen speak; it was an endearing mixture of childish enthusiasm and old-fashioned phrases picked up from his parents. ‘No, please, go on.’ But the moment was ruined and Jensen was blushing, looking nervous again.

‘Well I like ice cream too. Cherry Garcia is my all-time favourite.’ Jeff said and within moments they were discussing the merits of Phish Food versus Chunky Monkey.

Jensen ate his food with gusto and by the end of the meal all his earlier fear and reserve had gone.

‘Thanks so much Jeff. I’m full to bursting now.’ He sat back in his chair and rubbed his flat stomach, yawning. ‘I’m sorry, didn’t mean to yawn.’

‘That’s ok. You can sleep in the car on the way back if you like.’

They had barely left the diner when Jensen’s head slumped against the window and his breathing grew heavier. Jeff chuckled to himself. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to have a relationship with Jensen or to adopt him. He was so sweet, kind, funny and endearing. Jeff hummed happily along with the radio for several miles, but then Jensen started to whimper.

‘No…no…I’ll be a good boy, promise.’ Jensen mumbled and Jeff felt his anger growing inside.

‘Jensen, hey, buddy, wake up.’ Jeff said, shaking his arm gently.

‘No, don’t, I’m sorry.’ Jensen sobbed and Jeff could see tears beginning to run down his cheeks.

Jeff glanced up the road and there wasn’t much traffic, so he pulled over. ‘Jensen, it’s okay, it’s just a bad dream.’ Jeff shook him a little harder.

Jensen blinked open his eyes, looking startled, then burst into tears. ‘Hey, it’s alright.’ You just had a bad dream.’ Jeff said, patting Jensen’s arm.

‘No, not a dream.’ Jensen looked so sad and lost that Jeff pulled him into an awkward hug.

‘Oh Jensen I’m so sorry.’ Jeff held the trembling, sobbing man close and let him cry. He wanted to cry too, but tears of rage and frustration. How could anyone hurt this beautiful man, let alone his own father?

Jensen pulled away after a few minutes, wiping his face with his hands and blushing in shame. ‘Sorry, Mr Morgan. I shouldn’t have fallen asleep.’

‘You don’t need to apologise for anything Jensen.’ Jeff said, trying to keep his voice calm while shaking with rage still. ‘I told you to have a sleep, remember?’

‘Yeah, but I shouldn’t have….you know.’ Jensen gnawed at his lower lip. ‘M’sorry.’

Jeff sighed and started the engine. ‘Don’t mention it. Let’s get back and unload.’

Jensen was quiet all the way back and Jeff was lost in his own thoughts too. When they got back Jeff told Jensen to go in and clean up before unloading, as his face was still tacky with tears and snot. Jeff watched as Jensen walked dejectedly to the downstairs washroom, then he leant against the wall and took some deep breaths.

‘Whatever it takes I’m gonna get him away from that man.’ Jeff vowed to himself.

They worked together in a strained silence the rest of the afternoon as they unloaded the car and fitted the liner to the pond. Jensen only really came back to his usual joyful self when Jeff let him fill the pond with water and he accidentally splashed Jeff, making him squeal and they both laughed. All too soon it was time for Jensen to leave and Jeff felt as sorrowful as Jensen looked.

The truck horn sounded and Jensen’s whole body stiffened. ‘Jeff.’ He said with urgency in his voice. ‘You won’t tell my pa about me…’

‘No, of course not.’ Jeff reached out and squeezed Jensen’s shoulder. ‘Whatever happens when you’re here stays between us, okay?’

‘Okay.’ Jensen shot him a grateful smile. ‘Thanks. I’ll see you tomorrow.’

That evening Jeff looked at the design he had in mind for his garden and decided to add several features to it. A new pathway, a second patio, a bigger shed, anything at all to keep Jensen working there, where he was safe, where Jeff could look after him.

Chapter Text

When Jensen arrived the next day, Jeff told him that he had asked Jim to come and meet him and that Jim worked with young people who had been hurt by their families and needed help.

‘Hurt like my pops hurts me?’ Jensen asked.

‘Yes, I think he can help you Jensen.’ Jeff swallowed down the lump in his throat.

‘He’s not a damned social worker is he? Pops says they’re just do-gooders who like to stick their nose in other people’s business.’ Jensen said sullenly.

‘No, he’s a psychologist, not a social worker.’ Jeff hid his smile.

‘I shouldn't talk to him.’ Jensen bit his bottom lip. ‘Pops will be mad.’

‘Your father doesn’t need to know Jensen, not yet. Jim is coming here as my friend, and what you say to him will be confidential.’

‘Like…like a secret?’ Jensen asked, pulling out his notebook and pencil.

‘Yes, a secret between you and Jim.’ Jeff knew what Jensen wanted and spelled out the word confidential for him to add to his notebook.

‘Con-fi-den-ti-all. I like that word.’ Jensen smiled. ‘Okay, I’ll meet him.’

 

Jensen worked in the garden and Jeff did some paperwork until 11.30 when Jim’s car pulled up.

‘Jensen, Jim’s here. Do you want to go and wash up?’ Jeff called out. Jensen nodded and went to wash his hands while Jeff greeted Jim.

Jensen emerged as Jeff was showing Jim through to the lounge. ‘Hi Jensen, my name’s Jim Beaver, you can call me Jim.’ Jim held out his hand and Jensen shook it, looking at the man with wide, anxious eyes.

‘Pleased to meet you, Jim.’ Jensen said politely.

‘Don’t look so worried, Jensen. I’m only here to have a chat with you. Jeff has told you who I am, what I do?’ Jim glanced a Jeff, who nodded imperceptibly.

‘You work with kids who have been hurt.’ Jensen said, looking down at the floor. Jeff knew how uneasy Jensen was because instead of his usual nervous chatter, he was quiet and withdrawn.

‘That’s right. Shall we go and sit in the garden? I hear you’ve been transforming it.’ Jim said, obviously trying to make Jensen feel more relaxed. It didn’t work, as Jensen just nodded and followed them through to the back garden, head still bowed.

‘I’m fixing up a chicken Caesar salad for lunch.’ Jeff said as they got to the garden table and chairs. ‘I figured we’d eat in an hour or so. Can I get you a drink, Jim? Jensen?’

Jensen’s head shot up at his name and he looked scared. Jeff realised Jensen didn’t want to be left alone with Jim and Jeff added ‘Jensen you can come and chose a soda if you like.’

‘Soda will be fine for me too, Jeff.’ Jim sat down and looked at the garden. ‘This is lovely.’

‘Jensen really has green fingers and an eye for design.’ Jeff said proudly. ‘I’ll get him to give you a tour later.’ Jeff put his hand on Jensen’s arm and felt him trembling. ‘Come on let’s get our drinks.’

Once inside Jeff turned Jensen to face him, holding him gently by then elbows. ‘Jensen, what’s wrong?’ Jeff asked gently.

‘I don’t wanna talk to him!’ Jensen said angrily. ‘I’m not allowed! I shouldn't have told you….my pops will be so mad….he’ll make us leave.’

‘Jensen, we talked about this and you said you would speak with Jim. What’s changed?’ Jeff said gently, hating to see Jensen so upset.

‘He can’t help. No one can help.’ Jensen said flatly. ‘Any time they tried we upped sticks and moved. It’s a big country, plenty of trailer parks to set up a new base.'

‘It’s different this time. Jensen you’re an adult, if your father wants to make a run for it, you don’t have to go with him.’

‘But my mamma, she’s sick, she needs me to take care of her. An' she likes me to sing to her, it makes her happy.’

Jeff sighed. ‘Jensen, let’s talk all this through with Jim. He has experience in this sort of area. He may be able to find a way for you to stop your father from harming you and stay with your mother.’

‘And you.’ Jensen said shyly. ‘I wanna stay here, near you.’

Jeff couldn’t help the huge smile that seemed to come from deep inside, from his heart, warmed by Jensen wanting to be near him. ‘And I want you to be near me, too.’

Jensen smiled back. ‘You look so nice when you smile, Jeff. Your eyes go all warm and shiny.’

Jeff had to move away right now or he was going to grab Jensen and kiss him, hard and long, and it wasn’t the right time with Jim waiting for them.

‘Thank you.’ He said, turning away and walking over to the fridge. ‘Come and chose a drink.’

 

Jensen seemed happier when they went back outside and more relaxed. He showed Jim the hole for the pond and explained his plans for the patio area next to the pond and the water feature.

‘You came up with the idea for the patio Jensen?’ Jim asked, drawing the young man out.

‘Yeah, this bit of the garden gets sunshine in the evening, so it would be a nice place to sit and have a drink or a meal or just look up at the sky. Sometimes a flock of geese go over here and I love watching ‘em. I like watching the clouds too, making out shapes and faces and stuff.’

‘I’d love to see it when you finish it. You like gardening then?’ Jim prompted.

‘I like being outside as long as it’s not too cold or too hot. I like making things look nice and I like cutting the grass, sitting on the mower.’ Jensen grinned. ‘I pretend I’m driving.’

‘You’d like to drive?’

‘Sure, but I’m not allowed.’ Jensen said and Jeff saw the flicker of annoyance cross Jim’s face.

‘Why aren’t you allowed?’ Jim asked, keeping his voice casual.

‘Pops said people like me can’t drive, I’d be a downright menace on the road.’ Jensen explained, like it was a well-known fact.

‘I see.’ Jim regarded Jensen carefully. ‘You do know that some things your father has told you are not exactly true, don’t you Jensen?’

Jeff took a deep breath. Jim was going to tackle the elephant in the room right now. Jensen nodded.

‘I guess so.’ He said quietly. ‘Like I was too stupid to learn to read and write.’

‘Yes, Jeff has helped you to learn, hasn't he?’ Jim smiled at Jensen, who nodded again. ‘So there's no reason why you couldn't learn to drive. Or bake a cake. Or do a cartwheel. You can do anything you set your mind to.’

‘I can cartwheel!’ Jensen said, grinning and handed Jeff his can of soda before launching into a double cartwheel and then falling onto the grass, landing on his bottom, laughing. ‘See!’

‘Very good.’ Jim laughed too. ‘I certainly can’t do that!’

‘Me neither!’ Jeff agreed. Jim shot him a look and Jeff helped Jensen up, then said ‘I’m going to go and set up our meal. Is that okay Jensen?’

‘Sure. Jim’s nice.’ Jensen said, joining Jim who was sitting on a fallen log near the pond. ‘And he says I can learn to drive!’

 

Jeff left them talking about cars and hoped that Jensen would open up to Jim and that Jim could help him. He had wanted to stay, but Jim felt that Jensen may hold back from telling the whole story if he thought he might upset Jeff. He prepared the salad and got out the cutlery and plates. He looked out of the window and they were still sitting on the log, facing each other. He could tell that Jensen was upset by his posture and Jim was holding both of his hands, speaking earnestly to him. Jeff watched for a while, unsure what to do. Lunch was ready but he didn’t want to interrupt. He moved it all out onto the porch and sat down, picking up a newspaper but not reading it. After about twenty minutes, Jim left Jensen sitting on the log and joined Jeff.

‘He’s amazing Jeff.’ Jim said, sitting down with a weary sigh. ‘Ow, I’m too old to be crouching on fucking logs!’

‘I know he’s amazing. Can you help him?’ Jeff asked impatiently. ‘Is he okay? Why is he sitting there?’

Jim chuckled. ‘He told me to speak to you first, because you would be freaking out. His words.’

Jeff laughed too. ‘I guess the kid knows me well.’

‘He’s no kid, Jeff, as you so rightly informed me. He is a remarkable young man, but he has a lot of issues to deal with and he needs to get away from his ever-loving daddy.’ Jim said grimly.

‘What do you suggest?’ Jeff asked.

‘I want the police informed and that bastard arrested. I know Jensen is skittish about involving them, but if we do it via social services the right officers will be assigned. Did you know Jensen’s older brother went to prison for assault? He raped Jensen and broke his right arm and cracked two of his ribs. Jensen was 15 at the time.’

‘No.’ Jeff shuddered. ‘Oh shit. I thought, I hoped, it was just oral, just touching. God, that's bad enough. I didn’t want to believe it could be worse. Was it just his brother?’

‘Yeah. Daddy only ever used his boy’s mouth and hands, which I guess is some small mercy. And the other men – there were quite a few – were only allowed to use his mouth too. Daddy dearest charged or got out of trouble with the police by pimping his boy, and moved on if too many questions got asked.’

‘Fuck. I wanna kill that fucking piece of shit!’ Jeff yelled, making Jensen look up at him in surprise.

‘You and me both. But what we need to do now is work out a plan to help Jensen. First of all, go and get your boy, then let’s eat, I’m fucking starving!’ Jim grumbled.

Jeff walked over to Jensen, who looked at him apprehensively. Jeff smiled and Jensen gave a tight grin back. ‘You okay? Food’s ready.’

‘M’scared, Jeff.’ Jensen was on his feet and in Jeff’s arms before Jeff had time to register the movement. He wrapped his arms around Jeff’s waist and laid his head on Jeff’s shoulder. It seemed so natural for Jeff to hold Jensen close, his arms around his back.

‘I know you are, baby. But I’m here for you now, and Jim too. We’ll get through this together. Okay?’ Jeff rubbed small circles into Jensen’s broad back as he spoke.

Jensen sighed and seemed to melt into Jeff, pressed as close as he could be. ‘Okay.’ He murmured, then broke free of Jeff’s embrace and grinned. ‘I’m hungry enough to eat road kill on toast.’

‘Ew, I can’t promise that!’ Jeff grinned back and watched Jensen run up to the house and slide into a chair, grabbing a bread roll as he did so.

 

Over lunch they talked more of Jeff and Jensen’s plans for the garden and Jim made them laugh with tales of his new puppy, a Rottweiler, who liked to chew anything and everything, including Jim’s wallet and $50, the TV remote control, Jim’s cell phone and every cushion that had been on Jim’s sofa. Jensen laughed so hard when he saw the teeth marks on the cell phone that Jim and Jeff couldn’t help but join in.

Jeff went to make a pot of coffee and get a plate of cookies for dessert and when he returned, Jim was in an intense conversation with Jensen.

‘You are not to blame for any of it Jensen. You have to believe that.’ Jim was saying as Jeff sat down as quietly as possible.

‘But it’s my fault that Jared hurt me, he couldn’t help himself, he said I was a tease and a slut and I wanted it.’ Jensen said sadly.

‘And Pops said he had to look out for me, stop me from making men hurt me. I can’t help it. I guess it’s ‘cos I’m a few cents short of a dollar. I don’t mean to do it, Jim ’

‘You have never done anything to make men hurt you.’ Jim said softly. ‘You are a very handsome man, Jensen. People will find you attractive and some of them will want to touch you. But you have the same rights as any other person to choose who you want to be with, have sex with, spend time with. Your body is yours, no one else’s. You have the right to say no and to be respected. If anyone harms you, touches you in a way you don’t like, they are in the wrong, not you.’

‘So I never made my pops do….those things? Or Jared?’ Jensen’s eyes were bright with tears but Jeff saw him bite his lip and keep the tears at bay.

‘No. of course not!’ Jim said. ‘It was their selfish desires and needs that made them hurt and abuse you. They should have looked after you, not taken advantage of you.’

‘Jeff looks after me. He has never hurt me. He’s the only person apart from my mamma that I feel safe with.’ Jensen said, almost like he was thinking aloud. He frowned and turned to Jeff. ‘If I made men do those things, if they really couldn’t help it, then Jeff, you would have done them by now, I guess, and you haven’t.’

Jeff smiled sadly. ‘Jim’s right, Jensen. You are not to blame for anyone else’s actions.’ Jeff felt a twinge of guilt because he did want to do 'those things' to Jensen, to kiss him, to hold him, to make love to him. And right now it made him feel like a sick freak.

‘My head hurts.’ Jensen sighed. ‘I think I’m all talked out. Can I go finish the pond?’

‘You've done really well, Jensen. I know it’s difficult but we just need to decide what to do next.’ Jim said kindly. ‘Then you can finish the pond, I’ll help you.’

‘Okay.’ Jensen sighed again.

‘Jeff, I explained to Jensen that if we inform social services, he will need to give statements and talk to other people about this. It’s likely they will appoint one person to liaise with Jensen. His father will be arrested and he may need to go to court.’ Jim said. ‘Jensen, are you sure you want to go ahead?’

‘Of course he is!’ Jeff said.

‘Jeff, this has to be Jensen’s decision. It is his life. His family.’

‘Sorry. I just hate what that man has done.’ Jeff said, glancing at Jensen.

‘What will I do? For work? If Pops goes to jail?’ Jensen asked.

‘You can carry on doing what you are now. Or go to college.’ Jeff said. ‘Both, if you like, as you have a real eye for garden design. You could really build up the business.’

‘Really?’ Jensen asked, looking a little embarrassed but very pleased. ‘You think I could really do that?’

‘You can do anything. You are bright, creative and talented.’ Jim said sincerely.

Jensen blushed with pride. ‘Jeff tells me that, and I do believe him, but hearing you say it too makes me feel kinda warm inside. Here.’ Jensen held his hand against his heart. ‘I ‘preciate it.'

Jim smiled. ‘Before we all grow girlie parts, let’s get this pond filled up!’

'I thought you wanted to know Jensen's decision?' Jeff asked Jim.

'It can wait.' Jim winked at Jeff. 'I ain't in a rush.'

 

The three men spent the remainder of the afternoon filling the pond and setting the slabs around the edge of it. Jensen was quiet but hummed as he worked, which Jeff took as a good sign.

‘It looks great, Jensen.’ Jeff said, wiping his sweating forehead with a dirty hand. ‘I think we’ve done as much as we can today. And Jim here’s too ancient to do anymore manual work!’

‘Hey, I’m not so old I can’t take you on, Morgan!’ Jim snarled, with a twinkle in his eye. Jeff chuckled and glanced at Jensen, who was staring at them both but not even smiling.

‘When…..when do we do it?’ Jensen said, suddenly looking young and pale and scared. ‘I mean, I think I want to….I have to, but….’

‘Hey, it’s okay to feel scared. This will change your life, Jensen, but it will be for the better. Even if the next few days suck, things will improve for you.’ Jim placed his hand on Jensen’s shoulder and Jeff noticed the slight flinch but Jensen didn’t pull away.

‘Then I think we need to get it…..get it over with.’ Jensen said, taking a deep breath.

‘I tell you what. I’ll stay over, you’ve had a traumatic day already, we’ll contact social services tomorrow and I’ll come with you.’ Jim offered.

‘Really? Thanks Jim that will be a big help.’ Jensen surprised them all by hugging Jim, then Jeff.

‘I’m so proud of you, Jensen.’ Jeff said, as Jensen moved away from him.

‘I ain’t done nothing to be proud of Jeff.’ Jensen said with a frown. ‘I’m as dry as bone in the desert, can I get a drink?’

Jeff grinned and nodded. ‘Help yourself. We’ll join you.’

They watched Jensen walk up to the house and Jeff sighed. ‘Do you think he’s ready?’

‘No. There’s no way anyone ever is. But he’s got you to support him.’ Jim said. ‘And I’d rather we started the ball rolling, but I think Jensen has been through enough for one day.’

 

Jeff anxiously awaited for Jensen to arrive the next morning and when it got past the usual 8 am drop off time, he had to fight a rising feeling of dread and panic. By 9.30 he had left three messages on Alan Ackles phone and was digging through his paperwork to find the Ackles home address. Jim went with him to the trailer park on the outskirts of town but when they got to the Ackles home, there was no answer to Jeff’s frantic banging on the door, although their truck was parked outside.

‘Fuck, where the hell can they be?’ Jeff yelled, still banging the door fruitlessly.

‘There’s no one in. Jeff, come and see.’ Jim was peering through the lounge window and Jeff joined him. The room was a mess, a chair was over on its side, papers and ornaments were strewn across the floor, and it looked like blood stains on the carpet.

‘Fuck, if anything has happened to him…’ Jeff hissed.

‘You fellas looking for the Ackles?’ A woman’s voice from behind interrupted them.

Jeff spun round. ‘Yes, do you know where Jensen is?’

‘Hospital, most likely. Saw ambulance cart his mamma off late last night, him too.’ The woman was middle-aged and overweight, still wearing her dressing gown and slippers. 'I live next door.'

‘An ambulance? Was he alright?’ Jeff asked anxiously.

‘Bleeding from his head, couldn’t see more’n that. Ma Ackles looked like a goner though. Flat on her back, real pale.’

‘What about Mr Ackles?’ Jim asked.

‘Police took him, ‘bout time too. Things he did to that poor boy.’ She grimaced.

‘Fuck, oh shit.’ Jeff was already running to the car. ‘Jim we have to go. Jensen’s all alone.’

Chapter Text

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

Jeff couldn’t remember the journey to the hospital, or getting from the car to the side ward where they were told Jensen was. Jim did all the talking and when Jeff saw Jensen lying on the bed, asleep with a black eye, stitches in his forehead, a busted lip and his arm in a sling, he almost passed out.

‘Oh fuck, fuck….’ Jeff raced over to the bed and took Jensen’s limp hand in his. ‘I’m so sorry baby, I’m so sorry. I promised to keep you safe….’

‘Excuse me, are you family members?’ Jeff glanced around at the nurse who had spoken.

‘No, just family friends. How’s he doing?’ Jim asked and Jeff was pleased the older man was there with him. He didn’t think he could have coped alone.

‘Not well. We had to sedate him. His mother had a stroke and is seriously ill. He kept screaming for someone called Jeff.’ The nurse said and Jeff couldn’t hold back a sob, he felt so guilty and so sorry for Jensen having to cope with all of this alone.

‘This is Jeff.’ Jim said, patting Jeff’s shoulder.

‘Thank God. Can you stay until he wakes up?’ She asked Jeff earnestly. ‘We don’t want to keep sedating him, the poor soul.’

Jeff bristled at the tone of pity in her voice but he bit back a retort. ‘Jensen has mild intellectual disabilities.’ Jim told her, sensing Jeff’s anger.

‘Yes, his father informed the police. We have a social worker coming to see Jensen today.’

‘That’s good. So his father did this to him?’ Jim asked, and Jeff knew he was just getting confirmation.

‘Yes, and a lot more by the scars on his body. He has two broken ribs, his right forearm is fractured and his face is badly bruised. We haven’t told him about his mother yet. Poor soul.’ She said again, as she smiled sadly at Jensen, like he was an abandoned puppy or a helpless baby. Jeff couldn’t look at her, he felt an irrational anger towards her because Jensen shouldn't be lying in a hospital bed, wounded and afraid, the object of pity and sympathy. Jensen should be safe, Jeff should have protected him. Jeff sobbed as his guilt and anger welled up inside him. He knew it wasn’t the nurse he was angry with, it was himself. And that bastard Alan Ackles.

‘Um, I’ll leave you alone for a while.’ The nurse left them and Jim put his hand on Jeff’s shoulder, squeezing it, not speaking. Jeff found it very comforting, more so than a string of empty words would be. Jeff managed to stop crying after a few minutes and Jim went to get them both coffee.

‘I’m so sorry Jensen. I should never have let you go back home. I promised to protect you and I fucked up. I wish more than anything I had made you stay at my place. You must have been so frightened. You mamma is holding on, baby, she’s very ill but she’s in good hands.’ Jeff stroked Jensen’s hand as he spoke softly to him. Jensen stirred and muttered something that sounded like ‘don’t please don’t’ in his sleep and Jeff felt his tears fall again. Even heavy sedation wasn’t enough to give Jensen peace.

Jim returned with the coffee and Jeff wiped his eyes. ‘Thanks. Sorry for blubbering like a big fucking wuss.’ Jeff said sheepishly.

‘It’s okay. I always knew you were a big fucking wuss.’ Jim grinned, then looked serious. ‘This is going to complicate matters, Jeff.’

‘You’re not kidding. I don’t suppose they’ll just let Jensen come home with me?’ Jeff asked.

‘I don’t see why not, but it depends on the social worker’s assessment. And how capable they deem Jensen to be.’

‘You know how bright he is Jim, he’s perfectly capable of making his own decisions.’ Jeff said curtly.

‘Of course I know that Jeff, but I have no jurisdiction here.’ Jim sighed. ‘It’s not up to me.’

‘I’m sorry, I shouldn't get testy with you.’ Jeff ran his free hand over his sore eyes. ‘Damn it, Jim, I feel so useless and so fucking responsible! I should have called social services yesterday, Jensen should never have gone home after what he told you. I bet that bastard found out somehow. I really fucked it up and now Jensen’s beaten up and traumatised.’

‘No, it’s not on you. We both fucked up here. But the only person to blame for this whole fucking mess is his sorry fucking excuse for a father.’ Jim hissed, keeping his voice low. ‘It makes me so mad….I’m gonna go and see if I can find out what’s happening with him. I gotta do something.’

‘Thanks Jim. I’m real glad you’re with me. I appreciate your help, even if I’m a grumpy bastard.’

‘Don’t mention it. We just gotta get this sorted out, for Jensen.’ Jim left again and Jeff chatted to Jensen, telling him about his plans for the garden, his latest work project and his hopes for the future. Jensen fidgeted and muttered a few times but he never woke up. Jim returned with the news that Alan Ackles had been arrested for the assault of a vulnerable adult, plus assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest. He would be transferred to the local prison the next day and was unlikely to be bailed. Jeff breathed a sigh of relief. There was no way the filthy pervert was getting away with it this time.

‘It’s going to be okay, baby.’ Jeff stroked Jensen’s forehead. ‘Your Pops isn’t ever going to touch you again. Never.’

Jensen’s eyelids fluttered and his deep green eyes opened, a little glazed from the sedatives, but he smiled sleepily at Jeff. ‘Jeff! What’re you doin’ in m’bedroom?’

‘Hey, Jensen.’ Jeff grinned back. ‘You’re in the hospital, baby, but you’re safe. You’re going to be fine. Everything will be okay.’

‘M’head feels fuzzy. Rooms going round an’ round.’ Jensen giggled. ‘S’like a carousel.’

‘He’s not likely to be fully alert for some time.’ Jim whispered. ‘At least he’s happy!’

‘I like the helter-skelter too.’ Jensen smiled at Jeff. ‘An’ cotton candy. An’ chilli dogs.’

‘When you feel better we’ll go to the fun fair.’ Jeff promised, still stroking Jensen’s forehead tenderly. ‘And I’ll get you the biggest bag of cotton candy ever.’

‘I promise I won’t eat it too quick an’ chuck up on the roller-coaster.’ Jensen frowned. ‘Hey, Jeff, this ain’t my room.’

‘No, it’s a hospital room. Do you remember what happened?’ Jeff asked gently.

‘Pops got mad, real mad when I chucked up on the ‘coaster, he said I’d made him look stupid. Everyone was laughing at the retard. Made a hell of a mess. He never took me to a fair again.’ Jensen looked at Jeff. ‘Why’re you crying? Did you get sick on the coaster too?’

Jeff hadn't realised he was crying again, but Jensen's words were so devastatingly sad. He shook his head, but couldn’t speak.

‘Jeff’s okay, Jensen.’ Jim said and Jensen peered at him.

‘Oh, hey there Jim.’ Jensen grinned. ‘I didn’t see you there. I’m sorry I made a mess on the coaster. It’s my own damned fault for being greedy and being two cents short of a dollar.’

‘Don’t worry, Jensen lots of people get sick on rides. You shouldn’t feel bad,’ Jim told him, but now Jensen was staring into space. ‘Jensen? You okay?’

‘M’head feels weird. Wish the room would stop spinning. M'arm aches an' m’tired.’ Jensen’s eyelids fluttered closed.

‘Just go back to sleep, baby, you’ll feel better when you wake up.’ Jeff kissed the back of his hand and Jensen sighed.

‘Love you, Jeff.’ He whispered and Jeff sobbed again as he told Jensen he loved him too.

 

An hour later Jeff was alone with Jensen, who was sleeping peacefully. Jim had gone to make some calls to rearrange his appointments. A dark haired man in a rumpled suit knocked on the door.

‘Mr Ackles?’ He asked. He looked weary and harassed. His mop of dark brown hair was a mess and his piercing, bright blue eyes were red-rimmed. His face was pale and he had dark shadows beneath his eyes.

‘I’m Jeff Morgan, family friend.’ Jeff said. ‘Jensen’s sleeping.’

‘Damn it. I’m already late for my next appointment.’ The man walked in and held his hand out. ‘Sorry, I should’ve introduced myself properly. I’m Misha Collins, I’m a senior social worker assigned by the court to assess Mr Ackles.’

‘You were assigned by the court?’ Jeff asked.

‘Yeah, due to Mr Ackles intellectual disability the police asked for my services. It’s unlikely he can return home alone and we’ll need to find a placement for him. Once I've assessed his capabilities.’

‘Jensen is very capable and he can come home with me. I have a large house, more than enough room and Jensen knows me. I think he should be with a friend rather than strangers.’ Jeff said, keeping his voice polite and calm with some effort.

‘Okay, then while he’s asleep let me ask you a few questions.’ Misha sat down and pulled a notepad out of his pocket. He ran his free hand through his hair and stifled a yawn. ‘Sorry, I was on call last night and didn’t get any sleep.’

‘Coffee?’ Jeff offered him the last drink Jim had brought him a few minutes earlier. ‘I haven’t touched this one. I think I’ve had too much caffeine today anyway.’

‘Thanks.’ Misha sipped the bitter liquid and sighed. ‘That’s better. I don’t have much time, Mr Morgan, so I’ll have to cut to the chase. How long have you known the Ackles family and in what capacity?’

‘I’ve known Jensen and his father for about four months. I employed Jensen to do some gardening work and other odd jobs around the house and we became friends.’

‘You and the family? Or just you and Jensen?’ Misha looked at Jeff, his pen posed above the paper, then he looked at Jensen. Jeff felt uncomfortable, like he was being accused of something.

‘Just Jensen. I have been teaching him to read and write. He has been working for me redesigning my garden. I only moved into the house four months ago.’

‘I see.’ Misha scribbled onto his pad. ‘And did you know about the alleged abuse?’

‘Yes. Jensen turned up one day with a busted lip and told me that his father beat him, but that he only did so because he was slow and clumsy. Recently I found out that Jensen had been sexually abused by his father and other men. I was trying to help him realise what had happened to him was wrong, that none of it was his fault. Yesterday we had decided to call social services. Before all this….’

‘We? As in you and Jensen?’ Misha cut in, his eyebrow raised.

‘Yes, me, Jensen and my friend, Jim Beaver. He’s a psychologist who specialises in abuse cases.’

 

‘Why didn’t you inform Social Services as soon as you suspected abuse, Mr Morgan?’

‘I wanted to call the police, but Jensen was scared. He was afraid that no one would help him, because no one ever has, and he was afraid that his father would be angry with him. I didn’t want to pressurise him.’

‘Jeff?’ Jensen’s voice startled both of them. ‘Wha’s going on? Can you stop jabbering, m’head hurts.’

‘Hey, Jensen. Sorry we woke you. This is Misha, he’s a social worker. Do you know where you are?’

‘Hos-hospital. Mamma?’ Jensen asked anxiously.

‘You mamma’s very poorly but she’s going to be fine.’ Jeff lied, figuring there was no point in burdening Jensen with the truth at that moment.

‘She fell…she tried to stop him….he pushed her away. She fell and she wouldn’t get up. She wouldn’t wake up.’ Jensen was crying now and Jeff held his hand, wishing he could hug him.

‘She had a stroke Jensen. The doctors are looking after her now.’ Jeff said. He passed Jensen a cup of water and Jensen groaned as he tried to sit up. ‘You’re ribs are busted, don’t move, I’ll raise the head of the bed.’ Jeff did so and Jensen sipped the water.

‘Jensen, I’m sorry to bother you, but I just need to ask you a few questions.’ Misha said.

‘Are you kidding me?’ Jeff snarled at him. ‘Can’t you see he’s upset?’

‘I have to do the initial assessment. I am sorry. Jensen, can you tell me your name, age and address?’

‘Jensen……Jensen Ross Ackles. I’m 24, m’birthday is March 1st. I live with my Pops….’ Jensen started to shake. ‘Pops….he got mad at me.’

‘Why did he get mad with you, Jensen?’ Misha asked gently.

‘He found…..he found my note book,’ Jensen sobbed. ‘He said it wasn’t my writing, I was too stupid to learn, and when I said Jeff had been teaching me he got so mad. He said Jeff was just after getting his dick in my ass, he wasn’t my friend, that he had no business teaching a retard…..’

Jeff felt sick. ‘Jensen, oh God, I’m so sorry.’

‘He took my notebook Jeff and he threw it in the fire! All my words…my new words….’ Jensen cried bitterly and Jeff moved up to sit on the bed to carefully pull Jensen into an embrace. Jensen lent against Jeff’s chest and wrapped his good arm around him.

‘Jensen, why was the notebook so important to you?’ Misha inquired.

‘For fuck’s sake!’ Jeff growled. ‘Can’t you leave this til later?’

‘I’m sorry. I need to get a clear picture of what happened.’

‘Okay, Jensen has been writing down words he didn’t know into a small note book. He’s a very quick learner and loves discovering new words. Like discretionary, fraternising, confidential. I spell them out for him, he writes them down.’ Jeff explained patiently.

‘Hold on, you’re telling me that in four months he has learned to read and write enough to do that?’ Misha asked, impressed.

‘Yes, he’s very bright.’ Jeff couldn’t keep the pride from his voice. ‘Jensen, baby, it’s alright, we’ll get you a new book.’

‘Really, Jeff?’ Jensen sniffed, coming up for air. ‘But I’ve lost all my new words.’

‘We’ll write them all again, and new ones too.’ Jeff smiled at him and Jensen gave a shaky smile back. ‘Are you okay to answer some more questions?’

‘I think so.’ Jensen glanced shyly at Misha. ‘I’m sorry.’

‘Don’t apologise, Jensen. It’s a very difficult time for you. I think I’ve got all I need for today. I’ll see you tomorrow and we’ll discuss your placement.’
‘Placement?’ Jensen looked confused.

‘Where you’ll live. Until your mother is better.’ Misha said.

‘I wanna stay with Jeff.’ Jensen said petulantly.

‘I’m afraid that may not be possible, not at first.’ Misha said kindly. ‘But Jeff can visit you.’

‘I’m not going to no home for retards! ‘Jensen yelled angrily. ‘It’s not fair! It’s what he said would happen! It’s not fair, I wanna be with Jeff!’

‘Jensen, please, calm down.’ Jeff pleased with him. ‘I’m here right now. It's all going to be okay.’

‘But he said I’d end up in one of those places, I seen ‘em Jeff all walking along holding hands like little kids, wearing clothes that don’t fit proper, everyone staring and laughing……I ain’t going!’ Jensen was trying to get up off the bed, wincing in pain.

‘Jensen, don't be worried, the home I have in mind for you isn’t like that. It’s a small community based home, you would be encouraged to live independently…’ Misha started to say.

‘I wanna stay with Jeff! I wanna stay with Jeff!’ Jensen screamed and suddenly the room was full of people, a doctor, a nurse and a pair of orderlies surrounded the bed, making Jensen panic and wail in fear. ‘Jeff! Jeff, please I wanna stay with you!’

‘Move away please sir, we need to sedate him.’ The doctor addressed Jeff.

‘He doesn’t need sedating! He’s just scared, just leave him with me…’ Jeff struggled against the strong hands of the orderly that gripped his arm and pulled him away. The other one fought to prise Jensen’s hand from its tight grip of Jeff’s jacket.

Jim was suddenly there, moving Jeff away from the bed, as they laid a screaming, sobbing and struggling Jensen down and secured him with restraints to his wrists and ankles ‘for his own protection’. Then the doctor injected him and Jensen’s screams and cries became less frantic, turning into pathetic whimpers and sobs.

Jeff was vaguely aware of Misha, protesting that what they were doing was unnecessary and discriminatory. He told them he had the situation under control and Jensen had every right to express his feelings.

Jim pulled Jeff out into the hallway and sat him down. Jeff was just stunned, how had it all gone so horribly wrong? Why were they treating Jensen like he was some dangerous lunatic? How the hell was he going to get him away from this place?

‘Jeff! Jeff!’ Jim was shaking his shoulder. ‘Hey, earth to Morgan!’

‘Sorry.’ Jeff focused on the older man, grateful again for his presence. ‘Jim, I just can’t…..’

‘Jensen needs you to keep strong. Now once those fucking idgits have finished doping him up, you’ll go back in and sit with him. Talk to him. Once he’s resting we’ll go home and you can tell me what the fuck happened.’

‘It was my fault.’ Misha said, joining them. ‘I shouldn’t have mentioned the placement.’

‘Too fucking right.’ Jeff growled. ‘Good job there.’

‘I am really sorry.’ Misha looked suitably sheepish. ‘Look, I have to go, but I’ll be back tomorrow and I’ll try to get Jensen placed with you, Mr Morgan.’
‘You could do that?’ Jeff asked hopefully.

‘He is obviously attached to you and has no one else. His brother seems to have fallen off the grid, we’ve been unable to contact him.’

‘That's good, because he shouldn’t be anywhere near Jensen.’ Jim said. ‘Don’t you know what he did to him?’

‘Yes, but he is Jensen’s next of kin, should anything happen to Mrs Ackles We are not suggesting Jensen lives with him, but we need him in the loop.’ Misha sighed and ran his hands through his hair.

‘The only loop that man needs is one round his neck.’ Jeff muttered.

Misha stifled a smile. ‘Anyway, I really have to go. I am sorry, really.’

Jeff stood up and shook the smaller man’ hand. ‘You didn’t mean to upset him. And if you can get him living with me we’ll definitely forgive you!’

‘I’ll certainly try.’ Misha smiled and departed. The doctor came out and said they had only given Jensen a mild sedative to calm him, he was still awake but drowsy and they could go and see him for a few minutes until visiting hours ended.

Jeff wanted to complain to the doctor about Jensen’s treatment, but he felt too weary and needed to see Jensen. He went back in and resumed his seat by the bed and took Jensen’s hand in his, hating the fact it was cuffed to the bed.

‘Hey Jeff.’ Jensen smiled. ‘Your face is sad.’

‘Sorry, I’ll try to be more cheerful.’ Jeff smiled back. ‘Better?’

‘Your mouth is smiling but not your eyes.’ Jensen yawned. ‘M’tired.’

‘You can go to sleep, baby. I’ll stay with you.’ Jeff squeezed Jensen’s hand.

‘Wan’ you to stay wi’ me f’rever Jeff.’ Jensen slurred as his eyes started to flutter closed.

‘I’d like that. Now you go to sleep, baby.’ Jeff stroked Jensen’s forehead as his breathing evened out and his eyes closed. Jeff stood up and bent low to whisper into Jensen’s ear. ‘We’re going to be together Jensen, forever. I love you.’

Chapter Text

Jensen’s mother passed away the next day. Jeff and Jim were informed by an earnest young doctor when they arrived to visit Jensen.

‘Mrs Ackles regained consciousness for a brief time, enough time to tell Jensen she was so proud of him and that she was sorry. That was all she said before she died.’ He said, pushing his glasses back up his nose.

‘Jensen was with her?’ Jeff said anxiously. His head swam at the thought of Jensen seeing his mother die and being alone.
‘Yes, he was very brave. He held her hand and sang to her. You Are My Sunshine, I think. She passed peacefully and he’s now back I his room, sleeping.’ The doctor hesitated and looked concerned. ‘He didn’t cry or say anything, I think he’s in shock. It will do him good to see a friendly face,’

‘Oh God, poor Jensen.’ Jeff ran his hand over his eyes, wiping away hot tears.

‘When did this happen?’ Jim asked.

‘An hour ago.’ The doctor glanced at the clock. ‘I’m sorry but I have my rounds….’

‘Sure, thanks doc.’ Jim said and helped Jeff up. ‘Jeff, c’mon let’s go see him. You need to keep it together, boy.’

‘Sorry.’ Jeff wiped his eyes and took a deep breath. He was so sorry for Jensen, but it had also stirred up memories of his own mother, dying in a hospital bed, surrounded by tubes and wires and machines. Jeff was ten years old at the time and his sister Stella had been fourteen. It had been breast cancer that had taken their mother and Jeff’s dad had drank himself to death by the time Jeff was sixteen.

‘I know it’s hard, boy.’ Jim said gruffly and Jeff remembered that Jim’s wife had died of cancer just two years ago.

‘I’m sorry.’ Jeff said again and gave Jim a sad smile. ‘I really appreciate you being here, Jim.’

‘Yeah yeah, I know you do. Just don’t start weeping and wailing again though, it’s getting embarrassing.’ Jim grinned at Jeff, but Jeff could see the pain in the older man’s eyes.

‘I promise.’ Jeff said as he headed out of the doctors office. Jensen was sleeping when they arrived, he looked so peaceful that Jeff wondered if he had even realised that his mother had died. His lip was still swollen and his black eye was bruised, but nothing could detract from the beauty of his face.

‘Jensen, baby, I’m here.’ Jeff whispered as he sat down and took Jensen’s hand in his.

‘Jeff, I’m gonna go make some calls, give you some privacy for when he wakes. I’ll bring back coffees.’

‘Thanks Jim.’ Jeff said, his eyes not leaving Jensen’s face. Jeff wasn’t sure how long it was before Jensen’s eyes fluttered open, he was lost in thoughts of his own mother and thoughts of what he wanted to do with Jensen. He wanted to take him home, love him, make him happy, kiss every inch of his skin and chase every bad memory away.

‘Jensen?’ Jeff squeezed Jensen’s hand as he blinked open his eyes. As soon as Jeff saw the look of devastation in those expressive green eyes he could tell that Jensen knew about his mother. ‘I’m here, baby. I’m so sorry.’

Jensen sat up and launched himself towards Jeff, who held him awkwardly, Jensen’s long body almost hanging off the bed. He clung onto Jeff and sobbed until Jeff’s jacket was wet and probably ruined and Jeff’s back was sore from supporting Jensen’s weight. Jeff patted and rubbed his back, muttering soothing words that he knew Jensen wasn’t listening to. My God, Jeff thought, I remember so well the feeling of loss, terror and isolation, and I still had my dad and sister to look after me. Jensen has lost everything in the space of two days, his mother, his home, even his bastard father.

Jeff pushed Jensen back onto the bed gently when his sobbing subsided a little and handed him some tissues. Jensen blew his nose loudly and gulped down the glass of water Jeff handed him, all the while still crying, tears pouring down his face. Jeff sat up on the bed and held Jensen in his arms.

‘I’m so sorry, my darling.’ He kissed the top of Jensen’s head. ‘You know your momma is in heaven now, she wouldn’t want you to be sad.’

‘I didn’t cry, Jeff, when she was……I was brave, I didn’t want her to see me cry…..’ Jensen said, his voice hoarse from crying. ‘Then I was….numb….I just wanted you.’

To Jeff’s surprise Jensen moved round and kissed Jeff, it was sweet and tender. Jeff could taste the saltiness of Jensen’s tears on his lips.

‘Hi, Jensen, I’m….oh!’ Misha’s voice accompanied a slight tap on the door and he was already in the room looking shocked when Jeff pushed Jensen away, both of them trembling and open-mouthed.

‘Fuck.’ Jeff groaned. ‘This isn’t….he was upset….’

‘It’s okay, you don’t need t explain.’ Misha said, but Jeff could see disdain and disapproval on his face. He turned his attention to Jensen, his handsome face now showing his compassion. ‘Jensen, I was so very sorry to hear about your mother.’

‘Thank – thank you.’ Jensen rubbed his good eye with his hand. ‘She….she died….’

‘I know, and the doctors told me you stayed with her, that you sang to her and she went to sleep. She was very lucky you were there.’

Jensen frowned. ‘D’you really think so? You think I helped her?’ His voice was hopeful.

‘I know you did, Jensen.’ Misha said. ‘She was smiling, the doctor said, holding your hand while you sang her favourite song.’

Jeff couldn’t stand it anymore, he jumped up, tears clouding his vision. ‘I’m sorry….’ He mumbled as he made his way out of the room.

‘Jeff!’ Jensen called out, his voice frightened.

‘It’s alright, he’s not leaving, he’s just upset.’ Misha said calmly as Jeff headed out to the men’s room. He let himself cry for a few minutes, then washed his face and told his reflection to grow a pair and hold himself together for Jensen. He smiled at the memory of their sweet kiss, then sighed as he thought of what it must have looked like to Misha. But Jensen needed him and he didn’t give a flying fuck what anyone else thought.

‘Hey, Jensen.’ Jeff said as he put his head around the door. Misha was still there and Jensen had stopped crying and was drinking a cup of coffee. ‘I’m sorry I lost it.’

‘It’s okay, Jeff. Misha kept me company and Jim brought coffee and cookies. He’s gone to get one more, he didn’t know Misha was here too.’ Jensen held up the bag of cookies. ‘I’ve already had two, I missed breakfast and I was just about ready to eat a dead horse with flies on. Do you want a cookie? Misha had the pecan one, Jim said to save a cherry one for him, but there’s chocolate or oatmeal.’ Jensen stopped and blushed, biting his lip. He looked over at Jeff, who was still standing by the door, a little stunned by Jensen’s sudden verbosity. ‘Jeff, I’m sorry I made you cry.’

‘Don’t apologise, ba- Jensen.’ Jeff had to try to stop using pet-names when they weren’t alone. ‘I just feel sorry for you and your momma. And it made me remember my mother too.’

‘You never talked about her.’ Jensen said. ‘Did she die too?’

‘Yes, a very long time ago.’ Jeff hovered by the door awkwardly.

‘I’m sorry Jeff.’ Jensen said sincerely and Jeff just wanted to cross the room and take Jensen in his arms again.
‘Hey, I’m going to go, I’ve told Jensen I’ll come by tomorrow and see how he’s doing. You can have my seat.’ Misha stood up and let Jeff take his place. Jeff wasn’t sure if it was his guilty conscience or the look that Misha shot him that made him feel like he was being warned to stay on the chair, to keep his distance from Jensen.
Jim returned shortly after Misha had left and they finished off the cookies. Jeff took Jensen for a walk in the small courtyard garden and they sat on a bench in the warm sunshine, Jensen falling asleep with his head leaning against Jeff’s shoulder. Jeff dozed too until Jim roused him by gently patting his free shoulder.
‘Hey, Jeff. Sorry to wake you but it’s almost lunchtime, I’ve told the nurse we’ll take Jensen to the diner across the street. I had to swear on the Bible we weren’t about to abduct him and he needs to be back on the ward by 2.’

‘Oh, thanks Jim, Jensen will appreciate getting out for a while.’ Jeff yawned and gently shook Jensen.

‘Wakey, wakey, sunshine.’ Jeff said as Jensen sat up and stretched.

‘M’hungry.’ Jensen grumbled. ‘Where are….oh.’ He took in his surroundings and Jeff saw his shoulders droop as his reality hit him.

‘We’re going to the diner for lunch, Jensen. Is that okay?’ Jim said.

‘Yeah.’ Jensen sighed. ‘I guess this means I ain’t going home with you today. I gotta stay here.’

‘I’m afraid so, Jensen. The doctors just want to keep an eye on you, you’ve had a bad shock on top of all your injuries.’ Jeff said, feeling bad because he knew from Misha’s face that Jensen wouldn’t be going home with him at all. Not yet, anyway. But he couldn’t tell Jensen that, not today.

‘Hope they got pie.’ Jensen said, his voice lacking his usual enthusiasm for food.

‘The nurse recommends the Lemon Meringue.’ Jim informed them as they walked out of the hospital. ‘Do you like that?’

‘Momma says I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like.’ Jensen grinned, then his face fell and he stopped walking to lean against the wall, struggling to keep from crying. ‘Oh, God, Momma.’ He whispered.

‘Hey, Jensen, it’s okay. We’ll go back to your room if you prefer.’ Jeff said

‘No, I wanna get out….get outside.’ Jensen took a deep breath. ‘I can’t keep crying like a baby.’

‘You cry as much as you need to, boy, for God’s sake, you just lost your momma!’ Jim said gruffly.

‘Grown men don’t cry.’ Jensen said, his voice small and almost scared. ‘Babies and little girls cry.’

‘I guess your Pops told you that horseshit too.’ Jeff said looking at Jensen’s tear-filled eyes. ‘You saw me crying earlier Jensen and I’m not ashamed to cry. Everyone does.’

‘If I start right now Jeff I don’t think I can ever stop.’ Jensen wiped his eyes and pushed himself away from the wall with grim determination. ‘Right now I just wanna get outta here.’

Jeff stood in amazement as Jensen strode away, Jeff had no idea he was so strong, that he could be so in control of himself.

‘Sorry that was my fault.’ Jim said. ‘I didn’t want him to think he had to be brave on our account.’

‘Don’t worry, seems he’s braver than both of us.’ Jeff chuckled as he started to follow Jensen.

‘You two coming?’ Jensen stopped and turned, looking at them like they were naughty school kids.

Jeff revisited the urge to say yes sir, sorry sir and shared a wry smile with Jim.

Jensen was almost his usual happy self as they ordered their meals and talked about the merits of bacon with a burger and whether or not dill pickles were a tasty addition (Jim) or in fact Satan’s bogies (Jensen). Jensen asked Jim if he had a family and was delighted to know that Jim’s son was a baseball player and his daughter was studying to be a Vet. Jim skirted over the death of his wife, saying she had been a teacher and Jensen hadn’t picked up on Jim’s use of the past tense there.

It was when the pie arrived that Jensen started to unravel. He had eaten about half of it and proclaimed it to be almost as good as apple pie, which was always his favourite. ‘Momma always takes me out on my….’ His voice faltered. ‘Momma used to take me…’ Jeff saw his face crumple, his bottom lip quivering and his chin wobbling. Huge tears fell down his face but he made no sound and Jeff wished he would sob or scream or yell.

‘Jensen, hey, baby, it’s alright.’ Jeff patted his hand across the table. Jensen started to wail then, an eerie, almost inhuman sound and started to rock himself backwards and forwards. Several people were looking over at them and some teenagers were laughing, one pulled out a phone to record the sight of a grown man having a break down in a busy diner. Jim was quickly on his feet, blocking Jensen from the view of the rest of the diner.

‘Get him out, I’ll pay the bill.’ Jim said, helping Jeff to get Jensen to his feet. Jensen collapsed against Jeff and his wailing was muffled against Jeff’s shoulder. Jeff picked him up and carried him outside, staggering a little under the weight as although Jensen wasn’t heavy but he was tall. Jeff managed to sit down on a wall outside the diner, still holding Jensen.

Jensen’s wailing had turned to heart-breaking sobs and Jeff could hear Jensen saying less than an hour ago ‘if I start to cry I don’t think I’ll ever stop.’ All Jeff could do was hold him and comfort him. Jim joined them and helped Jeff get Jensen back over to the hospital. People were staring at them but no one stopped them. Distraught people were a common sight around hospitals, Jeff surmised.

Jeff almost growled at the orderlies who offered them a wheelchair for Jensen, and snapped at the doctor who said that Jensen should be sedated. ‘He’s mother has died today, he can fucking cry and scream and wail all he fucking likes! You’re not sedating him!’

Once back in his room, Jensen curled up on the bed and cried himself to sleep, holding onto Jeff’s hand so tightly that it was almost painful. Jeff stayed with Jensen all afternoon, only leaving him once to use the restroom. Jensen woke up a few times, but each time he just cried and clung to Jeff until he drifted off into an exhausted sleep.

‘Visiting time’s nearly up, Jeff.’ Jim said, handing Jeff a fresh coffee.

‘I’m not leaving him.’ Jeff said stubbornly.

‘You can’t stay, you know that. I know you don’t want them to keep drugging him, but he needs something to help him rest. If he wakes up and you’re not here he’ll freak out.’

‘I suppose it would help him.’ Jeff sipped his coffee. ‘Yeah. Okay. I’ll wake him up.’ Jeff chuckled mirthlessly. ‘Ain’t that ironic? Wake up for your sleeping pills!’

‘He’ll want to see you before you go anyway. You wake him up, I’ll find the nurse.’ Jim sighed.

‘Thanks Jim. For everything.’ Jeff said, then patted Jensen’s hand lightly. ‘Hey baby, it’s me. Can you wake up for me?’

‘Jeff? Wha’….wha’s happening?’ Jensen blinked owlishly, groggy and confused.

‘You missed supper, baby and you need to eat something and take your pain meds.’

‘I don’t…..we were at the diner…..lemon meringue….’ Jensen shook his head like he was trying to clear it. ‘I remember someone screaming. Oh God, was it….was it me?’

‘Don’t worry about it. You’re grieving and you’re in shock.’ Jeff sighed. ‘It was my fault, it was too much for you going to the diner.’

‘But that was lunch time….have I been sleeping all day?’ Jensen grimaced. ‘My head hurts and my eyes are so sore.’

‘The pain meds will help and we can ask a nurse to bathe your eyes.’

Jim returned with a nurse carrying a tray with a sandwich, a pot of yoghurt and a banana, plus a small container of pills.

 

‘Hi there Jensen. You’ve been through the mill today, ain’t you?’ She was a middle aged lady and had a kind face. ‘I ain’t met you before but my name’s Gloria and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Now you eat up and take your pills. I’ll come back in a little while and check on you. Okay sweetie?’
‘Yeah, thanks, Gloria.’ Jensen nodded. ‘Can you, um, can you do something to my eyes? They’re awful sore.’

‘Sure thing. Once you’ve eaten I’ll come back and bathe them, put some nice drops in them, make them all fresh and sparkling again. Oh, goodness, what a lovely colour they are! Well, the good one anyhow, I guess the other’s the same colour?’ She winked at Jensen.

Jensen actually laughed. ‘Yes, ma’am, they’re a matching pair.’ He said and Jeff felt a wave of relief. If Gloria was on duty overnight he would feel better about leaving Jensen.

By the time Jeff and Jim left an hour later, Jensen had eaten, had a shower, had his medication and eyes bathed and was sleeping soundly. Jeff was exhausted himself and was pleased that Jim offered to drive them home. Jeff dozed in the car and wanted nothing more than to collapse onto his bed when he got in, he didn’t even think he would bother to undress.

However, once they got inside Jim turned to him and said ‘We need to talk.’

‘Yeah, we can talk in the morning.’ Jeff yawned.

‘No, now.’ Jim headed to the kitchen and Jeff followed him with a sinking feeling. Jim opened the fridge and pulled out two beers and the remains of a pizza. He placed them on the table and sat down, Jeff following him. ‘I spoke to Misha earlier as he was leaving. Jensen is being moved to residential home tomorrow.’

‘No!’ Jeff hissed angrily. ‘He needs to be with me, he’ll hate it there surrounded by strangers!’

‘It’s only going to be temporary Jeff, and you need to be on board, to help him.’

‘But why can’t he just come here?’ Jeff knew he sounded like a whiny teenager.

‘Jensen has intellectual difficulties, he is a vulnerable adult and as such the state a duty of care towards him.’ Jim said patiently.

‘No one fucking cared about him before!’ Jeff yelled. ‘This is fucking stupid! He was abused for years, for fucking years, Jim!’

‘Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.’ Jim protested. ‘I understand how you feel and I’m only telling you the facts.’

‘Sorry, I’m not mad at you. Just this whole fucking mess. Damn it.’ Jeff sighed and swigged his beer. ‘Go on. I won’t yell at you again.’

‘Misha has to report back to the court on Jensen, to say if he’s capable of making his own choices. Now we know he is, and I think Misha does too. But you have to look at it from another perspective here.’ Jim hesitated and looked uncomfortable. ‘Jeff if I didn’t know you and I walked in to find you kissing a vulnerable young man who had just had a bereavement, I might think you were, well, taking advantage of him.’

‘Fuck.’ Jeff sat back wearily. ‘He…he kissed me, Jim, I didn’t…well, I have once or twice but it was mutual, I’d never…..’

‘I know that Jeff, of course I do. I can see that you love Jensen and God knows why but he loves you too. But you are going to have to be patient and wait this out. You are going to have to support Jensen and stop him from freaking out.’

‘Oh shit.’ Jeff’s head was pounding and he was shaking. ‘Misha thinks I’m just after Jensen for sex, doesn’t he? That I’ve befriended him for my own purposes, that I’ve been grooming him!’

‘I’m sorry Jeff.’ Jim said sadly, and Jeff knew that was exactly what Misha thought and he staggered to the toilet, collapsed on his knees and threw up.

Jim was sitting with a pot of coffee when Jeff returned. ‘You okay?’

‘Yeah, just all got to me.’ Jeff sat down wearily. ‘So what can I do? How can I help him?’

Jim and Jeff discussed how best to deal with Jensen tomorrow. They knew he was going to be upset that he couldn’t be with Jeff and that he had an awful hang-up about ‘those places’ from his father threatening to ‘send him away’ whenever he got angry with him. They decided to try to put a positive spin on it, to say that it was Jensen’s chance to prove himself and let Misha know how smart he was. Even as they talked it through, Jeff knew it was going to be very hard to make Jensen see it in a positive light and he dreaded the morning.

Chapter Text

Jeff dreamed of his mom that night, lying in the hospital bed, scared, hurting and angry. He held her hand and she tried to smile at him, but it was more like a grimace. Then Jensen was there, sitting next to Jeff, reaching out and stroking his mom’s hair with one hand and holding Jeff’s hand with the other. Jeff watched his mom’s expression change from fear and pain to peaceful, almost serene, as Jensen’s soft voice sang ‘You Are My Sunshine’ to her. She smiled at both of them and Jeff felt like he had his mom’s blessing. He woke up with his face wet with tears and glanced at the clock. It was only 2am, but he was awake now and decided to have some warm milk before attempting sleep again.

Jim was sitting at the kitchen table and smiled at Jeff ruefully. ‘You too, huh?’

Jeff nodded. ‘Did you get any sleep?’

‘An hour or so. Kept seeing Margaret every damned time I closed my eyes.’ Jim sighed.

‘I was dreaming of my mom. Shit, what a pair we are!’ Jeff poured some milk into a mug and placed it in the microwave. ‘Warm milk?’

Jim chuckled and waved the glass of whiskey he was holding. ‘Nah, I’m all good.’

‘I’m sorry I got you involved in all this, Jim.’ Jeff said, his back to the older man. ‘This can’t be easy for you.’

‘I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make things a darn sight worse. But I came here to help Jensen and help you too. You weren’t to know things were going to go pear-shaped.’

Jeff retrieved his milk and sat down, running his hand over his sore eyes. ‘How do you cope?’

‘Sometimes I just wanna shout and scream and holler. So sometimes I go outside and I shout and I scream and I holler at the sky. Lucky I ain’t got near neighbours.’ Jim chuckled. ‘Other times I wanna hit something, so I go down to my basement and I hit the punch bag until I can’t lift my arms up anymore. I guess I still have a lot of anger issues. But at least that helps me relate more to angry teens. Margaret would roll her eyes and tell me I was being a damn fool if she saw me shouting at the fucking sky!’ Jim chuckled again and Jeff wondered how much his friend had drunk.

‘I think anger’s a good emotion, a healthy one, because you can express it, just like you said. I hope Jensen can get angry and not depressed. I know when I lost mom then dad a few years later I just kinda closed down. That was one of the reasons Mark dumped me. He said I didn’t know how to be happy, that I was too insular and reserved. I guess he was right; I never knew how sad and lonely I had been most of my life until I met Jensen.’ Jeff smiled ruefully at Jim. ‘Hey, you don’t need to listen to this maudlin crap. I’m gonna go back to bed.’

‘Jeff, it will work out. Somehow. I can see how much you and Jensen love each other. And even if it takes some time, you know he’s worth waiting for.’ Jim was starting to slur his words. ‘Fuck it, I’m gonna start singing love songs next!’

Jeff chuckled. ‘No singing please, you sound like a warthog in a trap! Time to try and get some more shut-eye; you have a long drive tomorrow and I have to be there for Jensen.’ Jeff took the empty glass from Jim and stood up.

‘Sorry I can’t stay longer, boy.’ Jim said sincerely.

‘Don’t worry Jim, you’ve done so much already and I know you have to get back to work.’ Jeff clapped him on the shoulder.

Jeff couldn’t sleep once he got back in bed though. He kept thinking of how scared and upset Jensen was going to be tomorrow. He tried to read but he couldn’t concentrate on the words. He pulled out his sketch pad and drew some pictures of Jensen, but he looked so sad in each one that Jeff ended up throwing the pad across the room and crying himself back into a fitful sleep.

Jeff said a fond goodbye to Jim in the morning then set off to the hospital, his heart heavy. He had arranged to meet Misha there at 11am and arrived at 10.30. He asked if he could see Jensen and was pleased to find him sitting in the armchair, dressed and watching a programme about monster trucks on the television.

‘Hey, Jensen.’ Jeff said and Jensen turned to greet him. His eyes were glassy and Jeff knew he had been sedated again.

‘Hey, Jeff.’ He gave Jeff a warm smile. ‘These trucks are huge. I like the purple one.’

‘It’s very cool. How are you feeling?’

Jensen looked confused. ‘Um, my ribs and arm still hurt like a bitch. Head’s aching. But okay I guess.’

‘No, I meant about your Momma.’ Jeff said gently, sitting down on the bed so he was opposite Jensen. ‘Are you doing okay? Can I do anything to help you?’

‘I’m okay. Momma would want me to be brave. I just wanna go home, but I know I can’t.’ Jensen sighed. ‘I don’t suppose I’ll ever go home. It won’t feel the same now it’s all empty. I wanna be with you Jeff, you’re all I got now. You make me feel safe. I like the way your eyes go all crinkly when you smile. And the little white hairs peeking through your beard. And I like your paintings. And you make real good chicken salad sandwiches and you buy me pie.’ Jensen gave him a tired smile. ‘Am I talking too much?’

‘No, I could listen to you talk forever.’ Jeff grinned at him. ‘You make me so happy, baby.’

‘Every time I think of Momma, I don’t think I can be happy ever again. But then I think of you and I feel warm inside, and I wanna be happy with you and then I feel bad ‘cause Momma’s dead and I shouldn’t be thinking of my own self…. Jeez, I’m not making a lick of sense.’ Jensen’s eyes filled with tears.

‘Hey, you’re making perfect sense, because these are all normal feelings. You feel guilty and that’s completely natural when a loved one dies. But your Momma would want you to be happy, wouldn’t she? Jeff held Jensen’s hands and ran his thumbs over Jensen’s knuckles.

‘She always said 'smile for me, my special boy. Your smile is my sunshine'. And when I was scared and crying after my dad did bad things an…and when he let men do bad things, well, she would hug me and wipe my face and tell me to smile for her, to be her brave boy.’ Jensen sighed. ‘I miss her Jeff. I feel empty, just like our house.’

‘Of course you do.’ Jeff held back his own tears at Jensen's words, then he saw Misha arrive at the door. His reaction was to pull his hands away from Jensen’s but he thought that would look suspicious and Jensen was holding them tight. ‘Hey, here’s Misha.’

‘Hey Misha! Can I go home with Jeff now?’ Jensen asked hopefully. ‘I’m feeling much better.’

‘You can leave the hospital today, Jensen, but I’m afraid not with Jeff.’ Misha said gently. ‘We need to talk about what will happen.’

Jeff expected Jensen to react badly, to shout and scream again that he wanted to be with Jeff. But he just look resigned and Jeff wasn’t sure how much of that was due to the sedatives and how much was due to grief. He gripped Jeff’s hands harder and nodded. ‘Okay.’

‘Okay?’ Jeff repeated. ‘You’re okay about this?’

‘No, but I can’t do nothing to stop it. Pops always said I’d end up in one of those places. It’s all I’m fit for.’ Jensen said flatly.

‘That’s not true, Jensen. You have to understand that your dad just said mean things to you to hurt you and keep you in his control.’’ Jeff said, trying to keep calm. He hated Jensen’s father even more, not just for the physical and sexual abuse he had inflicted on Jensen, but for the emotional abuse too.

‘Jeff’s right.’ Misha said, pulling up a chair. ‘And you shouldn’t see it as something bad; it’s just a place to live Jensen, not some kind of prison. And it’s only a temporary measure until we decide the best option for you.’

‘Okay.’ Jensen sighed and looked from Misha back to Jeff. The pain and despair in those haunted eyes was almost like a physical blow to Jeff. He actually flinched.

‘It’s a nice place, Jensen. You’ll have your own room and share a kitchen and bathroom with three other residents. You can cook your own meals, live life as independently as possible.’ Misha was trying hard to put a positive spin on the situation for Jensen.

‘Can I still work for Jeff?’ Jensen asked and Jeff felt his heart ache again.

‘Not just yet.’ Misha said gently. ‘But I’ve told the staff that you’re a great gardener and there’s lots you can do there. They are staring to grow their own vegetables and they need some help rebuilding a shed. They would employ you to do the work, so you would be able to earn some money.’

‘Will I be able to see Jeff?’ Jensen’s voice was so sad that Jeff had to stop himself from pulling him into a hug and never letting go.

‘Sure. He can visit, we’ll work out a schedule.’ Misha gave Jensen a reassuring smile.

‘Well, that’s great, isn’t it Jensen?’ Jeff swallowed down his own sorrow and forced himself to sound happy. ‘You can show me what magic you’ve performed in the garden.’

‘Won’t be the same. Nothing’s the same. It’s all gone.’ Jensen pulled his hands free from Jeff and stood up. ‘Let’s go then.’ Jeff expected him to cry, but Jensen just seemed to be resigned and almost sullen.

‘Um, right, okay.’ Misha looked surprised at Jensen’s acquiescence. ‘Are you ready?’

Jensen nodded, not looking at Jeff or Misha. Jeff knew that Jensen was barely holding himself together and once again admired his strength.

‘Can I come with you?’ Jeff asked Misha. ‘I’d like to see where it is and what it’s like.’

‘I don’t see why not, as long as Jensen agrees.’ Misha picked up Jensen’s holdall. ‘Is that okay with you, Jensen?’

Jensen nodded and shot Jeff a small, sad smile.

‘Jensen can come with me, you can follow, and it’s only about ten minutes from here.’ Misha said as he left the room.

Jensen was suddenly pressed against Jeff’s chest, arms wrapped around him. Jeff slipped his arms around the trembling man and stroked his back. ‘Hey, it’s alright baby.’ Jeff whispered. ‘I’m coming with you. I’m not going to desert you.’

‘M’scared Jeff. I wish….’ Jensen gave a shudder.

‘What? What do you wish?’

‘I wish I was real dumb. I wish I was stupider than I am. ‘Cause then I wouldn’t know….wouldn’t care….what was happening to me.’ Jensen sobbed. ‘Wouldn’t know I’m losing you.’

‘Oh God, Jensen….’ Jeff wanted to cry too, Jensen’s words were like a knife twisting in his gut.

‘Hey, you coming?’ Misha’s voice called out from the hallway.

‘Give us a minute.’ Jeff called back. He pushed Jensen away from him, holding him by the shoulders to look into his tear-streaked face. ‘Never wish that Jensen. You are perfect. I love you exactly as you are. You aren’t going to lose me. I love you, do you understand?’

Jensen nodded and wiped his face with his hands. M’sorry, Jeff. I think I understand but I’m so messed up inside. And I-I love you too.’

Jeff pulled him back into his arms and kissed his cheek. ‘It’s going to be alright, baby.’

‘As long as I have you, Jeff.’ Jensen moved his head around and kissed Jeff, their lips meeting sweetly but too briefly.

‘Um, guys…’ Misha was at the door. ‘I’ll pretend I didn’t see that.’

‘Shit.’ Jeff pushed Jensen away. ‘Jensen was upset….’ Jeff was annoyed at Misha catching them kissing again and annoyed with himself for feeling so fucking guilty.

‘No, don’t. You don’t have to explain. Let’s get going.’ Misha glanced at Jensen. ‘You okay? Do you want to stay a while?’

‘No, I’m okay.’ Jensen sighed. ‘I’m ready.’

The group home was modern and from the outside looked like a regular house. A kind-looking middle aged lady opened the door. ‘Hey, you must be Jensen.’ She smiled warmly at Jensen and took his hands in hers. ‘My name is Samantha Ferris but you can call me Sam. I’m the home manager.’

‘Um, pleased to meet you, um, Sam.’ Jensen bit his bottom lip and blushed.

‘You don’t need to be worried, honey.’ She slipped her arm through his and led him into the main hallway. ‘You’ll be just fine here. And once you’re all healed up you can work your magic in our garden.’

‘That’s what Jeff said!’ Jensen said with a smile and glanced round at Jeff.

‘Well I heard from Misha that you are a gifted gardener, we’re lucky to have you stay.’ Sam patted his hand and guided them into a spacious office. ‘Please, sit down gents. Now I know Misha, for my sins, so this handsome devil must be Jeff.’

‘Jeffrey Dean Morgan, ma’am.’ Jeff shook her hand, already feeling better about the place. He sat on a long comfortable looking sofa next to Jensen and Misha perched on the arm.

‘My, my. I’ve never had three such fine-looking men in my office!’ She chuckled. ‘Yep, even you, blue eyes, although you’re too scrawny.’ She winked at Misha.

‘I should’ve warned you that Sam is a terrible flirt.’ Misha grinned at her.

‘Hey, I’m not a terrible flirt, I’m a very good flirt!’ Sam chuckled. ‘Anyways, I just wanted to welcome you, Jensen and give you the low-down on the place. There are two staff on duty from 7am until 10pm, over two shifts, and one person always sleeps over. You will be sharing with DJ, Terry and Rob, they are all at work…’

‘At work? They have jobs?’ Jensen asked, puzzled.

‘Of course! Rob and Terry both work at the local supermarket and DJ is a porter at the hospital.’ Sam smiled. ‘We encourage our residents to be as independent as possible and most have regular jobs. You are also expected to keep your room clean, take part in household chores like laundry and cooking. You seem a capable young man, I’m sure you’ll do fine.’

‘And Jeff can visit me?’ Jensen asked, reaching out to grip Jeff’s hand. ‘He’s my best friend, he’s all I got, I’m gonna live with him once Misha decides it’s the best op-shun for me. Jeff taught me to read and write and he teaches me new words like discretion’ry. Jeff has a big house, it’s real nice and I cut his grass and I’m making a pond and a patio where the sun goes in the evening and Jeff paints real pretty pictures, he painted me once but I looked sad in it….’ Jensen ground to a halt and blushed again. ‘Sorry, I talk too much. I guess you know I’m two cents….I mean, that I have intellectual disabilities.’

Sam smiled warmly at Jensen. ‘You speak very well Jensen, don’t apologise. Now, to your original question, yes Jeff can visit twice a week from 6.30-7.30pm. Visitors are not allowed in residents bedrooms but you can meet up in here or the lounge.’

‘Two hours in a whole week?’ Jensen looked horrified. ‘Only two?’

‘Yes, at first. Until you are settled and we have had a chance to get to know you and Jeff.’ Sam looked at Jeff then Jensen. Jeff knew exactly what she was inferring – until we establish that Jeff isn’t some pervert out to molest you.

‘Jensen, don’t worry. I’m sure you’ll be real busy settling in, getting to know your new roomies and doing chores.’ Jeff said as sincerely as he could.

‘But you’ll be alone, Jeff.’ Jensen’s chin trembled. ‘You ain’t got no one.’

Jeff’s eyes welled up and he bit his cheek to stop the tears. ‘Hey, don’t you worry about me. I’ll be busy too and I’d better keep the garden in order or you’ll be mad at me!”

Jensen smiled sadly. ‘I’d never be mad at you. Just remember to water the plants every day.’

‘Well, I’m sure you’d like to see your room and the rest of the place. Jeff can come too. Then you can meet some of the other staff and residents over lunch.’

‘Thank you Ms Ferris.’ Jensen said politely. ‘I’d ‘preciate that.’

Sam showed them around. The house opened up into a U shape and Sam took them outside first into the courtyard garden in the middle of the building and then through a gate into a larger garden, with a patch of lawn and flowerbeds, and a newly dug area for vegetables. Jensen was delighted with the garden and Jeff could see he was itching to get his hands dirty and ‘work his magic’ but the cast would be on another week and his ribs would need time to heal.

Back inside, they walked down a corridor through a door into a separate area. There was a small kitchen-diner and four bedrooms, a bathroom and a cosy lounge. Jensen’s room was bright and spacious, with the bed along one wall and a built in wardrobe, chest of drawers and desk along the other. There was a door leading out into the courtyard.

‘So, what do you think Jensen?’ Sam asked as they viewed his new bedroom.

‘It’s big. Bigger than my room at-at home.’ Jensen sat on the bed. ‘It’s nice. We lived in trailer and I always had the smallest room, barely enough room to swing a cat. Not that we ever had a cat to swing or a dog. I guess it would be cruel tom swing a cat anyways. I always wanted a dog but my Momma has lurgies. Makes her eyes and nose swell up something awful.’ Jensen’s face fell. ‘Oh.’ He said and Jeff knew he had momentarily forgotten about his mother’s death and that the realisation had hit him hard. Jensen seemed to deflate like a balloon, his shoulders sagged and he buried his face in his hands and started to cry.

Jeff wanted to sit down and comfort him, and would have done so despite the disapproving looks he would have surely received from Misha, but Sam was already there.

‘Oh honey, I know this is so hard.’ She sat down and patted Jensen’s knee. ‘I was so sorry to hear about your momma.’ She stroked his bowed head and gave Misha a telling look. ‘You cry all you need to, sweetie.’

Misha whispered to Jeff. ‘Let’s give them a moment.’

Jeff was reluctant to leave but Sam was stroking Jensen’s hair so tenderly and talking to him so gently that Jeff knew he was in good hands. He followed Misha back to the office.

‘You okay?’ Misha asked as they sat either end of the sofa. ‘You don’t look too good.’

‘Didn’t sleep much. And I’m worried for Jensen. How he’s going to cope with all the changes and the funeral.’ Jeff sighed. He was feeling too warm and his stomach ached, but it always did when he was stressed. ‘Sometimes I think he’ll cope better than me.’ He smiled wryly.

‘You could be right. He’s very strong. And you can see the kind of person Sam is, she’s the original mother-hen. He’ll be in good hands.’

‘She seems real nice. Makes me feel better about him staying here.’

‘Good. The rest of the staff are great too, Sam handpicks them of course! Honestly Jeff, I know this isn’t what you or Jensen wanted, but he will be alright here.’ Misha said earnestly.

‘As long as it's just temporary.’ Jeff said. ‘He doesn’t belong here long-term, Misha, and you know it.’

Misha sighed. ‘It’s not just my call Jeff. But I need you to know I just want what’s best for him.’

‘And so do I.’ Jeff gasped as a pain shot through his stomach. ‘Crap.’

‘You sure you’re okay?’ Misha asked, concerned. ‘You’ve gone pale and sweaty.’

‘I’m okay, just hungry I guess. Can you tell me where the bathroom is?’ Misha pointed him in the right direction and Jeff washed his face and sat on the toilet seat, waiting for the pain and the feeling of nausea that accompanied it to pass. Jeff had suffered from IBS in the past during stressful periods and made a mental note to stop by the pharmacy on the way home. Jeff returned to the office and Sam was there but not Jensen.

‘He fell asleep.’ Sam explained as soon as Jeff walked in. ‘Well, cried himself to sleep, poor soul.’

‘He's had a tough few days.’ Jeff sat back down. ‘Can I stay until he wakes up? I’d like to say goodbye to him.’

‘I’m afraid that’s not possible.’ Sam said looking sympathetic but determined. ‘Jensen could sleep for several hours and you look like you need to go home and rest.’

‘I don’t want him to wake up alone in a strange place, he’ll be frightened.’ Jeff said.

‘My staff will keep an eye on him. I’m going to stay until he wakes myself so he will have a friendly face around on his first day.’ Sam said firmly.

‘That sounds fine, doesn’t it Jeff?’ Misha said, standing up. ‘Thanks for showing us round, Sam.’

‘Any time, blue eyes.’ Sam grinned as she shook Misha’s hand, then Jeff’s, adding, ‘Jeff, he’s going to be fine.’

‘Thanks, I’m sorry I’m being over-protective.’ Jeff managed a polite smile. ‘Tell him I’ll ring him tomorrow?’

‘Sure. Please try not to worry.’ Sam said as she showed them out of the door.

Jeff drove home in a haze. His stomach still hurt but not as much as his heart, which was aching at having to leave Jensen when all he wanted to do was love him and make him happy. Jeff forgot to stop at the pharmacy but took some painkillers when he got home and lay on his sofa, clutching at his stomach until the pain subsided. Jensen was the last thing on his mind before sleep claimed him.

Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

 

Jeff laid back down on sofa with a moan of pain, wondering how something as small as an appendix cause so much fucking trouble. The pain he ignored had been appendicitis and his appendix, wanting more of his attention, then burst. He had been rushed into hospital where he had developed peritonitis and had almost died.

‘You stupid idiot, what were you thinking?’ His sister, Joan, had just arrived and she was really pissed with him and he couldn’t blame her. He knew he had been stupid and was lucky to be alive.

‘I thought it was my IBS.’ Jeff said, his voice still rough from the after-effects of the intubation tube.

‘So you just ignored the agonising pain? Real smart, little bro.’ She lifted his head slightly and placed a cushion behind it. ‘And then you decided to discharge yourself, when you can barely move? Thank God Jim called me.’

‘I rang for the ambulance when it got real bad.’ Jeff said defensively. Joan always could make him feel like a naughty school boy. ‘And I couldn’t stay in that place any longer. Two weeks, Joanie.’

‘Yes, two weeks that you were at death’s door and didn’t tell me, your only sister! Christ, Jeff, you’re all the family I have.’ She looked more hurt than angry now.

‘Apart from your husband and five kids, you mean.’ Jeff said, then regretted it instantly.

‘You know exactly what I mean, smart-ass. When mom and dad passed, it was just you and me. What would I have done if you’d died?’ Her eyes filled up and she rubbed them angrily. ‘You pull something like this again and I’ll kill you!’ She gave him a sad smile.

‘I am sorry, Joanie. You’re so busy with the shop and the kids, I didn’t want to burden you.’

‘Save it. I’m here and I’m staying until you are back on your feet. Dave’s mom has been itching to come and stay, so she’s holding the fort. No doubt she’ll rearrange all my kitchen cupboards and clean every inch of the house, I never did live up to her standards!’ Joan chuckled and her blue eyes lit up. She looked nothing like Jeff; he was dark haired and dark skinned like their dad, whereas she had their mom’s fair hair and fair skin. She ran a new age bookstore with her husband Dave that had grown into an alternative therapies centre, wholefood café and an internet business. She looked and dressed like Stevie Nicks and her home and children were loved and cherished, but not always spotlessly clean.

‘And do you give a rat’s ass?’ Jeff asked her, smiling.

‘Nope!’ She grinned. ‘But seriously, Jeff, you need to take better care of yourself. And I need to be a better sister and keep in touch more.’ She sat in the armchair next to him. ‘Are you up for a chat or do you need to rest?’

‘I've done nothing but rest.’ Jeff frowned. ‘This was such bad timing.’

‘Why? What’s wrong?’

Joan knew that Jensen had been working for Jeff and that Jeff had become attached to him, but she didn’t know the whole story. So Jeff told her about Jensen’s past and how strong he was to still be such a happy, hopeful person, how funny and bright he was, and how his smile lit up the room.

‘You’re in love with him!’ Joan interrupted at that point and Jeff blushed. She laughed and stood up. ‘Well, that calls for more coffee and some cookies! I can’t believe you’ve fallen in love! At last!’

‘What do you mean, at last? I loved Mark.’ Jeff grumbled.

‘No, you really didn’t. You liked him, you fancied him, you convinced yourself it was love but you never, ever, spoke about him the way you speak about Jensen. And your face, Jeff, it beams when you describe him, and your eyes go all crinkly!’

‘Stop it, witchy-poo. I’m too old to be teased.’ Jeff used her childhood nickname, earned from when she got a witches costume when she was small and refused to take it off for weeks.

‘Never too old, baby bro!’ She stuck out her tongue at him and left the room, giggling.

Jeff went on to tell her about Jensen’s father being arrested and his mother dying. He explained that he wanted to Jensen to move in with him, but it seemed that the social worker thought he was some pervert just after Jensen for sex. He told Joan how awful he had felt at missing the funeral and how he had let Jensen down. They were both crying by the time Jeff told her that Jensen had been ‘allowed’ to visit him in hospital with Misha, but he had freaked out when he saw Jeff laying in a bed just like his Momma had, convinced Jeff was going to die. He hadn’t been ‘allowed’ to visit Jeff again.

‘That’s why I had to come home, Joanie. I need to see him, and for him to see me at home, safe and getting well. He looked so frightened when I saw him last time. God, I hate to think what he’s been going through.’ Jeff shuddered, suddenly cold and very weary.

‘You said Misha’s a good guy, despite thinking the worst of you, and that he knows your condition and has kept Jensen updated, so don’t worry so much. You look exhausted, do you want to go to bed or doze here?’

‘Here’s fine. Thanks, Joanie.’ Jeff yawned, his eyes heavy, as she pulled the bedspread over him and kissed his forehead. ‘Thanks for being here.’

Jensen and Katie, one of the staff members from the home, visited the next day. Jeff had convinced Joan to wheel him outside and when Jensen saw him in the wheelchair he burst into tears and threw himself onto his knees beside Jeff.

‘No, no, Misha said you were better!’ He wailed, his head on Jeff’s knee.

‘Jensen, hey, I’m fine!’ Jeff lifted his head up and his breath caught as he looked into Jensen’s bright green eyes. ‘God, you’re so beautiful.’ He said before he remembered that they weren’t alone, but thankfully Joan had engaged Katie in conversation by the door. Joan had a gift for being able to talk to anyone, about anything; unlike Jeff she was a real people-person.

‘Why’re you in…in that? Can you walk?’ Jensen was kneeling now, looking up at Jeff in a mixture of concern and adoration. They were holding hands although Jeff couldn’t recall doing so.

‘I can walk fine, I’m just a little sore from the operation and weak from the infection. But I am really, truly, getting better Jensen. Please don’t look so worried. I’ve missed you so much and I’ve missed your smile.’ Jeff said, stroking Jensen’s hands.

Jensen smiled back briefly then buried his head against Jeff’s knees. ‘I thought you were gonna up and die like my Momma.’ Jeff heard him sob, muffled against his jeans. ‘I was so scared Jeff and I got into trouble and made Sam mad ‘cause I….I hit Terry!’

‘Hey, I’m fine, it’s all going to be okay. Once you calm down, I’d like to introduce you properly to my sister and then we’ll talk it all out, okay baby?’ Jeff said as calmly as he could. He hated seeing Jensen so upset, knowing he was partly responsible.

Jensen nodded against Jeff’s knees and took some deep breaths. Jeff stroked his hair and glanced up to see Joan and the other woman looking at them with compassion.

‘I’m going to make some coffee, Katie is going to help me.’ Joan informed him, obviously giving them a moment of privacy.

Jeff nodded. ‘That’s great, thanks Joanie.’

Jensen calmed down and moved to sit in a chair as close to Jeff as physically possible, gripping onto his hand with his own. ‘I’m sorry Jeff, for crying like a baby. I was so excited about seeing you and I was just shit-scared when you were in a wheelchair.’

‘Don’t be sorry, honey. I’m the one who should apologise, I wasn’t there for you when you needed me most.’ Jeff squeezed Jensen’s hand. ‘Why did you hit Terry?’ He asked gently.

Jensen bit his lip and looked guilty. ‘He found one of the pictures of me you drew in my bedroom. He’s not even s’posed to go in there! And he ruined it, he gave me glasses and a moustache and I guess it was kinda funny, but I just got real mad when he showed me. He was laughing and I punched him on the jaw. Sam was so cross with me, she said Terry couldn’t help it, he loves to draw and didn’t mean to upset me.’ Jensen gave a sigh. ‘Terry has something called Down’s and he don’t speak well, his tongue grew too big. I’ve been teaching him to read and he liked me but now he’s scared of me. I was real mean to him and now Rob and DJ are scared of me too.’

‘You’ve been through a real tough time, Jensen. Don’t feel so bad about it. You can make things better with your friends….’

‘I don’t want to!’ Jensen said angrily. ‘I get so frus-frustrated with them! They ain’t my friends, you’re my friend! I hate them Jeff and I don’t like it there!’

Joan and Katie chose that moment to appear and Jensen sat back, moving away from Jeff and hunching his shoulders defensively. Jeff felt a little stunned by his outburst, he had never seen Jensen so angry before.

‘Are you alright Jensen?’ Katie asked, scowling at Jeff like it was his fault.

‘Jensen was telling me about Terry.’ Jeff said when Jensen didn’t reply.

‘Oh, I see.’ Katie gave a weary sigh and sat next to Jensen. ‘Jensen we’ve been over this. No one blames you or thinks you’re a bad person.’

‘Pops was bad. An’ he used to hit me.’ Jensen whispered, not looking up.

‘You’re nothing like that bastard!’ Jeff yelled, shocking himself as much as Jensen, who looked up startled, with fear in his eyes.

‘Jeff! For God’s sake! That’s not helpful.’ Joan said, appalled by him.

‘Shit, I’m sorry.’ Jeff reached out for Jensen’s hand and he let Jeff take it, but he was shaking and rocking slightly. ‘Jensen, I’m sorry. I’m not angry with you, I shouldn’t have shouted.’

‘Jeff didn’t mean to scare you, Jensen, just like you didn’t mean to hurt Terry. Sometimes when people are upset they just don’t think straight.’ Katie said and Jeff gave a sigh of relief as Jensen’s shaking subsided. ‘Now, Joan has made some real nice oatmeal and raisin cookies, shall we try them out? It would be rude not to.’

‘I’m kinda hungry.’ Jensen gave a shy smile. ‘I like oatmeal and raisin, second to chocolate chip. But cookies aren’t as good as pie. Do you like pie?’ He asked Joan and she smiled and passed him the plate of cookies.

‘I adore pie, Jensen. Next time you come I’ll make you my famous apple and cinnamon pie, which just has to be eaten with whipped cream.’

The conversation flowed freely after that, they moved from talking about food to gardening and after they had finished their second cups of coffee Jensen took Joan and Katie for a tour around the garden. Jeff sat back and watched the love of his life explaining how he had built the pond and his other plans for the garden. He looked animated and confident as he spoke, so different to the frightened, angry young man that he had been less than an hour ago. Jeff sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. Jensen was happy here, because this was where he belonged. Jeff was worried now that the longer Jensen was forced to stay at the home, the angrier he would get and perhaps he would hit out again, perhaps they would move him to a secure unit for violent people…..

‘A penny for them?’ Katie had returned to the table and sat down quietly.

‘Sorry, I’m just worried for him.’ Jeff looked across at Jensen still chatting happily with Joan, laughing at something she had said.

‘She’s telling him some embarrassing stories about when you were kids.’

‘If she tells him the one about me shaving my eyebrow off I’ll kill her!’ Jeff grumbled. ‘She called me Mr Wonky for years afterwards.’

‘That’s sisters for you!’ Katie grinned, then sat down next to him. ‘Jeff, I may be speaking out of turn, but Jensen is doing amazingly well for someone who has lost so much in such a short time. You shouldn’t worry so much about him.’

‘I can’t help it. I’ve let him down, I’ve not been there for him.’

‘He understands Jeff. And you are the one thing he is holding onto. You are Han Solo and Prince Charming all rolled into one for him; you’re his hero.’ She smiled warmly at him. ‘Jensen talks about you all the time and from what he’s told me, he is lucky to have met you, you’ve changed his life.’

Jeff was about to tell Katie that Jensen had changed his life too, when he heard Jensen laughing as they walked back. It was so good to see him happy again. ‘You shaved your eyebrow! Joanie said you’re face looked all wrong an-and she called you Mr Wonky! ’ He giggled as he neared Jeff. ‘She’s going to show me the photo next time!’

‘Har de har, very amusing, thanks witchy-poo.’ Jeff said with a wry smile.

‘Witchy-poo!’ Jensen laughed harder and sat down heavily, wiping his eyes.

‘I’m gonna tell you some tales about my lovely sister next time.’ Jeff said, smiling happily for what felt like the first time in weeks. He had noticed that Jensen called his sister ‘Joanie’, and Jeff was the only person allowed to use that version. It meant that Joan really liked him if she was okay with that.

That evening Joan cuddled up next to Jeff on the sofa as they watched some cop drama on TV.

‘He’s amazing Jeff.’ Joan said, muting the sound. ‘He’s so bright and funny, so caring and beautiful. He’s like sunshine and I really think he will be good for your soul.’

Normally Jeff groaned inwardly at Joan’s ‘new-age speak’ but this time it hit home. He bit back a sob, but Joan had noticed.

‘Hey.’ She twisted round to look at him. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘Everything. He should be here. I’m scared Joanie that I’ll never have him here, in my arms, sharing my home, sharing my life, where he belongs.’ Jeff started to cry and his in-built discomfort at crying in front of his sister was overcome by his sorrow and guilt. Joan just hugged him and said all the right clichés until he stopped and pulled away, fully embarrassed now.

Joan didn’t make fun of him or start getting too deep and meaningful. She just said ‘It’s all going to be fine, little bro. I can feel it.’ She settled back next to him and they watched the end of the show.

 

The following week passed quickly and by the end of it Jeff was feeling much better and also over-prootected by his sister.

‘I can manage perfectly fine!’ He snapped at her as she tried to help him stand up from the sofa. ‘Stop fussing!’

‘You don’t need to be a jerk.’ Joan huffed and stomped out to the kitchen.

Jeff followed her. ‘I’m sorry Joanie. It’s just….’

‘It’s alright, I understand. I’ve outstayed my welcome.’

‘No, you’re always welcome, honestly. I’m so grateful for you coming.’

‘But it’s time to go.’ She grinned at him and Jeff gave a sigh of relief. ‘I miss my kids, Jeff. And Dave needs rescuing from his mom. If you think I fuss, you should spend some time with her!’

Jeff laughed. ‘No thanks. Seriously, sweetheart, I am grateful.’

‘Hey, it’s been no trouble and even kind of nice to spend so much time with my baby bro. And meeting Jensen was a plus too.’ Jeff’s smile faded. ‘Jeff, I told you, it’s all going to be fine. I’ve cosmically ordered a happy ending.’

‘Thanks, but can you tell the cosmos to get a move on with it?’ Jeff gave her a grin and she slapped him playfully on the arm for ‘disrespecting the cosmos.’

 

Joan’s departure was a relief at first but that night Jeff felt lonely. The house was too big, too quiet. After a lonely supper, he made his way carefully up the stairs to his studio and started work on a new portrait of Jensen: it made Jeff feel closer to him. Jeff was woken the next morning by the phone next to his bed. He glanced at the clock, it was 9.30 am and he had overslept after staying up late working on the portrait.

‘Yeah?’ He grunted.

‘Jeff? Sorry did I wake you?’ Sam’s voice asked.

‘No, it’s okay. What’s up?’ Jeff sat up, knowing it had to be bad news.

‘Well, Jensen got into some trouble last night at the local cinema.’

‘Trouble? Shit, what happened, is he okay?’ Jeff was already out of bed and getting changed.

‘Some teens started to make fun of Terry and Jensen lost it, he grabbed one of them and shoved him against the wall, slamming his head so hard it made the kids nose bleed. And he punched another boy when he tried to pull him off.’

‘Oh fuck.’ Jeff’s head swam. ‘Oh God, Jensen.’

‘Can you come to the home? He’s shut himself in his room and won’t come out.’

‘Sure, yeah, I’m on my way. Sam, were the police involved?’

‘The police were called but he wasn’t arrested as they know Julia and she explained what had happened. The boys or their parents may still press charges though.’

‘Shit, he must be so scared.’ Jeff said goodbye to Sam and hastily got ready and rushed to the home.

‘Jensen? Jeff’s here.’ Sam called through the door. ‘Will you open up?’

‘Go away!’ Jensen yelled.

‘Jensen, please open the door. It’s me.’ Jeff called out.

‘No!’ Jensen’s voice was hoarse and it hurt Jeff that Jensen had obviously been crying for some time.

‘Damn.’ Sam cursed. ‘I don’t even know how he’s shut himself in. There aren’t locks on the doors. Oh!’ Sam grinned. ‘The outside door! Of course! Come with me Jeff.’

Sam found a huge set of master keys and they knocked on the glass of the door before opening it. ‘Jensen, honey, I’m coming in.’ Sam said gently. ‘Jeff’s with me.’

Jensen was sitting on the bed, which he had pushed up against the other door. His eyes were red and puffy and he looked so frightened he reminded Jeff of a deer he had found caught in a trap when he was hiking once. Jensen scooted up the bed, as if to make himself smaller and get further away.

‘Jensen, you don’t need to be afraid, honey.’ Sam said gently, inching forward slowly.

‘I did a bad thing, don’t let the police take me!’ Jensen moaned and Jeff recalled Jensen’s previous experiences with law enforcement. No wonder he was so frightened.

‘’Hey, you’re not going anywhere.’ Sam glanced at Jeff.

‘Jensen, can I come closer?’ Jeff asked, not wanting to spook him. Jensen nodded and Jeff moved to kneel by the bed, so he was face to face with the frightened young man. ‘The police won’t take you anywhere. You just lost your temper. Those boys were mean jerks and you didn’t hurt them much.’

‘The po-police….’ Jensen trembled and sobbed. ‘They were gon-gonna take me, but-but Katie stopped ‘em.’

‘Hey, you’re safe, baby. No one’s taking you anywhere.’ Jeff gave Jensen what he hoped was a reassuring smile.

‘Jeff....’ Jensen blushed and bit his bottom lip. ‘I did something bad.’ It was then a familiar acrid smell hit Jeff’s nose and he saw the stain on the bed.

‘Oh God….’ Jeff was at a loss to know what to say or do and his heart ached for Jensen.

‘I’m sorry I was bad!’ Jensen sobbed. ‘Please don’t hurt me!’

‘Jensen, honey, don’t you fret.’ Sam saw Jeff’s distress and took charge. ‘It doesn’t matter, okay? It will all wash out. All that matters is that you’re okay.’

‘But-but Pops used to beat me something awful for-for making a mess.’ Jensen confided, his voice shaky. ‘I’m real sorry, I’ll clean it up.’

‘Your pops was a prize asshole and a fucking bully. It was just an accident and you’re not in trouble, okay?’ Sam said and Jeff stifled a smile at her colourful language.

Jensen nodded, looking confused, then he put his head in his hands and started to cry in earnest. Jeff moved up, avoiding the stain, and pulled Jensen into his arms. Sam gave him a sad smile and a slight nod, then quietly left the room.

‘Hey, baby, please don’t cry. No one is going to hurt you or punish you.’ Jeff murmured as he stroked Jensen’s back and rocked him gently.

‘The police….’ Jensen sobbed. ‘They were gonna take me!’

‘Shush, baby, it’s alright. The police can’t touch you and no one’s going to hurt you, ever again. You have people now that care for you and are looking out for you. Me, Sam, Misha and Julia too.’

Jensen stopped sobbing and trembling after a few minutes and Jeff sat holding him until Jensen moved to sit up. ‘Thanks.’ He whispered, smiling at Jeff. ‘I, um, think I need a shower now.’

Jeff chuckled. ‘I think you’re right. I’ll be here when you’re cleaned up, okay?’

Jensen nodded and Jeff helped him pull the bed away from the door. While Jensen showered Jeff sat outside on a garden bench and was joined by Sam.

‘So.’ Sam said as she sat down. ‘What the hell?’

‘Jensen was abused by police officers.’ Jeff said flatly. ‘He dad would let them use Jensen to get out of trouble. He’s terrified of them.’

‘Shit.’ Sam sighed. ‘I read that in his file, I just didn’t relate it to last night. I’m so fucking dumb sometimes.’

‘I wish I could kill his bastard father and every man who’s laid a finger on him.’ Jeff said grimly.

‘You and me both. I tell ya, Jeff, I’ve been in social care for twenty years and I’ve never come across anything like this. Some people have been bullied, even beaten. Some have been sexually abused. But the extent of Jensen’s abuse, the years it went on, the number of people involved, it’s the worst case I’ve ever known.’ Sam shook her head. ‘Fuck. There are some sick fuckers out there.’

‘What will happen now? I mean, it’s the second time Jensen’s hit out.’ Jeff asked.

‘Well, we have rules here, Jeff, and he’ll lose privileges because of his behaviour. And if he keeps on hitting out, we may have to review his placement here. But…’ she added quickly as Jeff was about to protest. ‘We appreciate all he’s been through, that he’s grieving and lost. Misha is going to be counselling him and we hope he can get through this.’

‘He needs to be with me.’ Jeff said, wishing it was that easy.

‘I know you think that would be best Jeff, but look at it from our point of view. Jensen has been abused by his father and other men for most of his life. Now he is free of it all, free to start afresh. And you seem like a real decent man but….’

‘I could just be the next in line to abuse him.’ Jeff said with a sigh. ‘I love him, Sam.’

‘Then you’ll want what’s best for him. And you’ll wait until he’s ready.’ Sam smiled. ‘Here he comes.’

Jensen joined them, his hair still damp and his face red from either shame or hot water, Jeff wasn’t sure which. ‘Hey.’ He said softly. ‘Thanks for waiting for me.’

‘You must be hungry Jensen. Why don’t you take Jeff through to the kitchen and fix up some breakfast? The others are all out and I think they left you some pancakes.’

Jensen’s face lit up. ‘Pancakes! Gee, my mouth’s watering now and I’m sure my stomach thinks my throats been cut! C’mon Jeff!’ Jensen pulled Jeff up and headed back inside. Jeff grinned at Sam and followed Jensen, amazed again at his mercurial mood swings. Jeff was also amazed again by the overwhelming love he felt for Jensen.

‘Okay, Cosmos, we need our happy ending soon. Please.’ Jeff prayed silently, then smiled to himself, as Joan would crack up if she knew.

Chapter Text

The following weekend Jeff had arranged to pick Jensen up and take him for a drive, along with Misha who had agreed to give up some of his weekend to act as escort. When Jeff arrived Saturday lunch time, Sam was waiting for him with a grim look on her face.

‘Hey Sam, something wrong?’ Jeff asked, a knot of worry in his stomach.

‘Come through to my office, Jeff, will you?’ She led the way and perched on the edge of her desk. ‘I just wanted to warn you that Jensen isn’t his usual self today. He’s very withdrawn and has hardly spoken a word to anyone, not even Katie.’

‘Is it the counselling?’ Jeff sat down on the sofa opposite Sam, feeling weary. Misha had warned him that Jensen would find the counselling sessions difficult. Misha had arranged for an experienced counselor to see Jensen twice a week. The way Misha had described Stephen Williams reminded Jeff so much of Jim - straight-talking, no nonsense, foul-mouthed but with a heart of gold. He knew Jensen would be in good hands with Stephen, but it was bound to be traumatic.

‘I think so. You know how these things are, it usually gets worse before it gets better.' She sighed. ‘It was his second session yesterday. And I shouldn’t really tell you this but I think you need to know how it is affecting him. He woke his flat mates up screaming last night and he….’ She hesitated and Jeff’s anxiety grew. ‘Well, we think he wet his bed. He had stripped it all off and put it all in the washer, but the mattress was still damp. He doesn’t know we know.’

‘Oh God.’ Jeff sighed. ‘Couldn’t the counselling wait until he’s settled in more? This is all too much for him.’

‘I agree in a way, but you know how angry and scared he is. He needs to express it, to talk it out.’

‘I guess.’ Jeff ran his hand over his face. ‘Shit. I just want to make him feel better, Sam. I hate this.’

‘I know, sugar. But seeing you will cheer him up. I hope.’ Sam smiled warmly at him. ‘Go on through, he’s in the main lounge.’

 

‘Hey Jensen.’ Jeff said as he approached the sofa Jensen was sitting on. ‘What are you watching?’

Jensen didn’t look up at him. His face was glum and his eyes were flat and lifeless. ‘Spongebob.’

‘Mind if I sit?’ Jeff asked, feeling awkward.

‘Do whatever you like.’ Jensen answered in a monotone.

‘How are you?’ Jeff said cautiously.

‘I’m watching TV.’ Jensen’s eyes were fixed on the screen, but Jeff could tell he wasn’t really watching the antics of the yellow sponge. ‘You know us retards like cartoons.’

‘You’re not a retard.’ Jeff sighed. ‘Where are the other….’ Jeff faltered. What were they? Residents? Inmates? He didn’t know. ‘Why are you alone?’

‘They’ve gone on a trip to the shopping mall. All eleven of them in the minibus.’

‘You didn’t want to go? I mean, you could’ve gone, I could’ve come later….’ Jeff felt out of his depth with this new, surly version of the man he loved.

Jensen finally turned to look at Jeff. His eyes wore a new expression, something Jeff hadn’t seen before. It looked like contempt. ‘No, I wasn’t allowed to go after the cinema incident and anyway I didn’t want to go on a group outing again just for people to make fun of the retards.’ Jeff was not sure if he felt hurt at Jensen’s tone or pleased that Jensen was intelligent enough to express this feeling.

‘I don’t blame you for being angry Jensen. You shouldn’t belong here.’ Jeff said. ‘But you know it’s only temporary right?’

Jensen huffed and huddled further down in the sofa, his eyes fixed on the screen.

‘Do you want to go out and get something to eat?’ Jeff asked hopefully.

‘I’ve had lunch.’

‘Just for a coffee then?’ Jeff tried to keep his voice casual, although his heart was breaking. He knew Jensen must really be hurting to turn down the offer of food.

‘I didn’t think I was allowed to be alone with you.’ Jensen’s tone was sullen.

‘Not alone, Misha’s with me.’

Jensen glared at Jeff. ‘No. I don’t want to go. It’ll just make it harder to come back here.’

Jeff sighed again and ran his fingers through his hair. ‘Give me a break, Jensen. I miss you. I want to see you, talk to you and spend time with you. Do you want me to go?’

‘Yes.’ Jensen whispered, his voice shaky.

‘You don’t mean that?’ Jeff’s voice was as wrecked as Jensen’s. ‘Please Jensen, look at me.’

Jensen hid his face in his hands and muttered ‘Just leave me alone. I hate you! Go away!’

‘Okay. I’m going.’ Jeff said sadly. As he moved to stand, Jensen caught his trouser leg with his hand.

‘No…please…I’m sorry.’ Jensen looked up at Jeff, his eyes filled with tears.

‘Come on.’ Jeff reached down and pulled Jensen upright. ‘Let’s get you out of here and get some fresh air. It’s a beautiful day.’

Jensen nodded, biting his lip and wiping his eyes. He caught Jeff’s hand and briefly squeezed it. ‘Thanks.’

‘Don’t mention it. Now let’s get outta here!’ Jeff grinned at Jensen and the younger man smiled back, but it was a polite response not a genuine smile. Jeff longed to see Jensen smile again.

Jensen’s mood improved once they got outside and he saw that Misha had driven there in his convertible.

‘Wow! Can we keep the top down?’ He asked, and then remembered his manners. ‘Um, sorry, hi Misha. How are you?’

‘I’m fine thanks.’ Misha shook hands with Jensen. ‘Where d’you want to go? And we’ll keep the top down of course!’

‘I don’t care.’ Jensen said, then grinned. ‘As long as we can stop for pie!’

Misha and Jeff laughed with him. ‘That’s two very easy requests.’ Misha climbed in.

Jensen hesitated by the car. ‘Can I make one more?’

‘Sure.’

‘Can I sit upfront?’

‘Yep, no worries.’ Jeff said. ‘Misha’s driving makes me nervous, so I’d rather hide in the back.’

Jeff and Misha bickered about who was the better driver as they set off and Jeff noticed that Jensen visibly relaxed as he felt the wind in his hair and the sunshine on his face.

 

They drove out of town, Misha and Jensen singing along to Bon Jovi’s Greatest Hits, despite Jeff grumbling about their choice of music. Jeff smiled to himself as Jensen did the ‘whoa-oh, halfway there, whoa-oh, livin’ on a prayer.’ Jensen was singing loud and happily, but suddenly the words hit home. Perhaps they were halfway there, perhaps they could ‘make it’ but there was still the small matter of social services thinking Jeff was a sexual predator and pervert. Jeff was filled with a familiar mix of hope and fear.

They arrived at a roadside diner that, according to Misha, did the very best apple pie in the county. Over their pie and coffee, Misha chatted to Jensen about his life, asking what he liked to do, what films, TV and music he liked. Jeff knew Misha was keeping things casual and getting to know Jensen more.

When they finished, Jensen looked at Jeff and bit his lip, blushing. ‘I’m sorry I was so rude to you, I mean earlier, when you came. I just wanna be with you and it hurts me here.’ Jensen clutched his fist to his chest. ‘But I wanted to see you and I don’t know why I was so mean to you!’

‘Hey, it’s okay Jensen.’ Jeff said gently, sensing Jensen’s distress. ‘You’re going through a hard time.’

‘I wanna be with you, Jeff, not stuck in that place.’ Jensen pouted and Jeff had to tear his eyes away from those plump, inviting lips.

‘And I want you with me, but we have to do it properly.’ Jeff reached out and stroked Jensen’s hand.4

‘I don’t get it!’ Jensen said, turning to Misha. ‘You….you say I’m an adult, that I got rights, yet you won’t let me live with Jeff.’

‘It’s not just up to me, I’m afraid, Jensen.’ Misha said sadly. ‘Because your mamma passed away and your father is in prison, the state has a duty of care towards you. It means the state has to decide what’s best for you.’

‘Jeff’s what’s best for me Misha, he’s the best thing that’s ever happened.’ Jensen said, his green eyes fixing on Jeff’s and Jeff felt his stomach somersault.

‘You’ll have a chance to tell the court what you want and how you feel, Jensen.’

‘I ain’t gotta talk in front of a whole bunch of people?’ Jensen looked scared and nervous.

‘Not if you don’t want to. You can be interviewed in private, just you and the judge.’

‘The judge will send me away! He’ll know I’m bad, I’ve made men do bad things…’ Jensen was getting agitated now and a few other customers were looking over at them.

‘Jensen, hey, it’s alright.’ Jeff said gently, taking Jensen’s hand in his own. ‘You haven’t done anything wrong, not ever.’

‘Jeff’s right Jensen.’ Misha said quietly. ‘What happened to you was not your fault. Now, this really isn’t a good place to discuss all this.’

‘M’sorry.’ Jensen sniffed, wiping his eyes. ‘I didn’t mean to make a scene. Steve said I should stop blaming myself, but he said it will be hard ‘cause I was damn-well brain-washed by my damned no-good Pops.’

‘Don’t apologise, Jensen. We do need to talk this through, though. Tell you what, on Tuesday we’ll come and meet up with you. Would that be okay?’ Misha stifled a smile and Jeff knew Jensen was using Stephen's colourful phrases.

‘I guess so.’ Jensen gave Jeff a small smile as he squeezed his hand. ‘You and Jeff?’

‘Yes, both of us.’ Jeff added, ‘And we’ll come back here afterwards for more pie, if you like.’

‘It’s a deal.’ Jensen grinned and Jeff was amazed again at how quickly Jensen’s mood could swing back to happy, despite how upset he had been minutes earlier. Jensen’s smile really is like sunshine, Jeff thought to himself. Jeff was reminded of the old song lyric ‘the sun rose in your eyes’ and he marveled that after all Jensen had been through he could still be so happy, so full of warmth, so full of life and love and laughter. Stop it, you big sap. Jeff smiled to himself.

 

By Tuesday morning Jeff was a nervous wreck. He felt hopeless and frustrated, because he knew that he could make things work with Jensen, he knew they loved each other, but their future was in the hands of some judge who didn’t know how special Jensen was, who would just see the label ‘intellectual difficulties’ and not see the man.

Misha had collected Jensen and Jeff met them at Misha’s workplace. They were in an interview room used usually used for children and victims of domestic abuse. It was homely with large comfortable sofas and chairs, a colourful rug on the floor and bright abstract paintings on the walls. It also had a hidden camera to record the meeting, and Misha had agonised over whether to tell Jensen but decided not to as he didn’t want him to be anxious or nervous.

‘Here’s Jeff.’ Misha said as Jeff entered the room.

‘Misha, Jensen.’ Jeff smiled at both of them but Jensen looked annoyed.

‘Hello.’ He said flatly.

‘You okay, Jensen?’ Jeff asked, not knowing whether to sit down or not.

Misha indicated a vacant chair and gave Jeff a brief smile. ‘Jensen was just telling me why he feels angry with you. Why he was mean to you on Saturday. He’s talked it through with Stephen.’

‘Oh, um, right.’ Jeff sat down, feeling uncomfortable to be the subject of discussion. ‘Um, okay, why is it?’

'You told me we'd be together. That you would look after me and protect me.' Jensen said almost angrily, his green eyes flashing as he looked at Jeff.

'I know, Jensen, I'm sorry...' Jeff started to say.

'Stop it.' Jensen sighed wearily. 'I know it's not your fault. And I know you can't protect me from bad things happening, 'cause that's life. And I...' Jensen hesitated, biting his lip, a sign that he was feeling shy or unsure.

'Go on Jensen.' Misha coaxed. Jeff was unable to speak, feeling a mixture of shame with himself and pride in Jensen that he knew would result in tears and he didn't want to distract the younger man.

'I'm a grown man. You told me that Jeff.' He looked from Jeff to Misha and his eyes fixed on Misha. 'He did Misha, he made me believe that. But y'all still treat me like a child. Jeff wants to protect me, look after me, and I want him to, I do. But I guess, I dunno, I think I want to look after him too.' He bit his lip again and turned his attention back to Jeff. 'I want to take care of you too Jeff. Damn it's so hard to say how I feel.' He ran his hands through his hair.

'It's okay Jensen, you're doing just fine.' Misha said. Jensen gave Misha a tight smile and a nod, then looked at Jeff for his response.

Jeff's voice was husky with emotion as he said, 'I get it, Jensen. You want us to be equals and that's all I ever wanted too. I'm sorry if I’ve not treated you like that.'

'Don't be sad Jeff. I'm not really mad at you.' Jensen reached out and clasped Jeff's hand. 'You've helped me more than anyone, ever. I just find it so....' He paused as he searched for the right word. 'So....frustrating. I know what I want now, not just what other people tell me what I want, and now I can't have it!'

'Jensen.' Misha said, smiling. 'If you can speak this eloquently I'm sure this can all be worked out.'

'Elo-eloquently?' Jensen repeated.

'It means to express yourself clearly.' Misha answered. 'Just tell me Jensen, who else treats you like a child?'

Jensen blushed. 'Well, you kinda do Misha. You always say the right things, like telling me I'm elokent...eloquent an’ all, but you wouldn't let me live with Jeff. Now I'm stuck in a home for retards, just like Pa said I would be.' Jensen said bitterly. 'And it's not just you, the staff there they're nice, ‘specially Sam and Katie, but sometimes they talk to me and the others like we're infants. Like my Pa did when he was being nice, and like my Ma always did. She said I was her special boy 'cause I'd never grow up, I'd always be her baby boy.' Jensen bit his lip again, not looking at either Jeff or Misha now, just keeping his eyes on the table. 'She always said I spoke too much when I got myself all up and agitated and I guess she was right about that too.'

'Jensen you're not speaking too much, we asked you to tell us how you feel.' Misha said gently. 'And I have to tell you that I wish I could go back in time and change my initial report. I made some assumptions about you both. I was wrong Jensen and I'm sorry.' Misha sighed and Jensen looked up at him in surprise. Jeff could see a glimmer of hope in those expressive green eyes. 'I thought you were moving from an abusive father who took advantage of you to another father-figure who wanted to do the same.'

Jensen laughed, incredulous. 'You mean Jeff? A father figure? He ain't nothing like my Pa! And I don't want another father, I had enough trouble from the one I already got!' Jensen shook his head, smiling and Jeff almost laughed at Jensen's words, but then Jensen's face fell and his went pale. 'Oh God, that's what y'all think, that Jeff's gonna hurt me like my Pa and-and Jared....'

'I don't think that Jensen, not anymore, not now that I've gotten to know you both.' Misha said.

'You gotta tell them Misha!' Jensen said desperately. 'Tell them Jeff's my friend, the best friend I ever had, and he'd never hurt me. And love him, I wanna be with him, really with him, like...like in a marriage.' Jensen bit his lip, then turned to Jeff. 'I know exactly what I want Jeff and I want to be with you. I want to carry on singing and painting and learning new things and most of all I want to be with you and I want to love you and look after you.'

'I want that too, Jensen.' Jeff smiled at him struggling to hold back his tears.

'Jensen, I don't need to tell anyone. You just have.' Misha grinned at them. 'And very eloquently too!'

Jensen looked confused and worried. 'How....what...'

'This is a special room for recording interviews. We didn't mean to lie to you Jensen or trick you in anyway, we just needed to hear the truth from you, without you feeling nervous or scared.'

'Are people watching?' Jensen asked, his eyes wide. 'Like in NCIS when they can see into the room?'

'No, no one's watching right now. It's being recorded for the judge to see and she may want to ask you some questions afterwards, but it will just be you and her.'

'That would be okay.' Jensen gave a little shudder. 'I didn't wanna stand up in front of a bunch of damned strangers.'

'That won't happen Jensen, it's not a court like that, and you’re not on trial.' Misha explained and Jensen visibly relaxed. He looked at Jeff again with concern. Jeff had almost zoned out. Jensen was doing so well, he had spoken so 'eloquently', he was so much more capable than Jeff had given him credit for. Jensen could soon be free, free to be with him. Jeff realised Jensen was speaking to him.

'Are you alright Jeff?' Jensen was asking. 'You seem a bit out of it.'

Jeff chuckled. 'I'm fine Jensen. I can just see the light at the end of the tunnel now, I hope.'

Jensen smiled at him. 'That's good, but you don't need to worry, Jeff. I'll look after you.'

Jeff felt his eyes smart with tears, but he managed to smile back. Misha caught his eye and nodded in understanding.

'Now, I think it's time for coffee and pie, are you ready?' Misha addressed Jensen.

'I sure am. I'm starving to death here.' He rubbed his stomach, which seemed to rumble on cue.

'Just going to the bathroom.' Jeff stood up, pleased to be able to escape for a few moments. He left Jensen and Misha discussing the best variety of pie and made his way to the restroom, blinded by tears. He let himself cry for a while once safely inside a cubicle. He was so proud of Jensen and he loved him, but the best thing had been Jensen saying he would look after him. It was all Jeff needed to hear; it meant they would be partners, they would be equals. Their relationship wouldn't be sordid or perverted. Perhaps there was an element of father and son, as Jeff was 15 years older and naturally wanted to look after Jensen. A lot of successful relationships began like that and many had much larger age gaps.

Jeff took a deep breath, they could do this; they could make this work. He washed his face and slipped on his sun glasses to cover his puffy eyes before going out to find Misha and Jensen already seated in the convertible.

'I called shotgun.' Jensen grinned. ‘You can sit up front next time.’

'Guessed you would.' Jeff tousled Jensen's hair as he climbed in behind him.

'Next time?' Misha said, laughing. 'So I'm your taxi service now am I?'

'No, but you're the only dude I know with a convertible!' Jensen grinned as Misha started the engine. Jeff and Misha both laughed. Jeff settled back and sighed, letting the wind blow over his face and hair, relaxing for the first time in days. It was going to work. Jeff and Jensen. Jensen and Jeff. He imagined evenings cooking dinner with Jensen, watching a movie, going for a run. Weekends driving to the coast, going for a hike.

Jeff woke up when the car stopped and Jensen banged the side of the door with his fist, calling out 'Wakey wakey Jeff! Time for pie!'

'Damn, I must've dozed off.' Jeff said groggily, rubbing his face with his hands.

'No worries Jeff. We were having a good chat, all about you.' Misha grinned and Jensen blushed.

'Oh were you? All good things I hope?' Jeff grinned back as they climbed out of the car.

'Sure. Jensen's told me all your wonderful qualities and a few of your not so wonderful ones.'

'What?' Jeff said indignantly. Jensen grinned.

'C'mon, let’s get inside and we can tease him some more.' He said to Misha, winking mischievously and heading into the diner.

Over burger and chips Jensen admitted that he had told Misha that Jeff couldn't sing. Not at all. He had never heard anyone make such an awful noise and not be in pain. And he couldn't cut the grass or trim the hedge properly. But he was a real good painter and he'd taught Jensen to read and write. And encouraged him to sing for him. The meal was over too quickly and they had to return to the home. Jensen looked resigned but happier when they took him back.

When they pulled up outside, he turned around to look at Jeff. 'Do you really think there's light at the end of the tunnel, Jeff?'

'I do.' Jeff said sincerely. 'Because I have faith in you. I'm so proud of you Jensen. You make me so happy.'

'You make me happy too.' Jensen climbed out of the car and bent forward like he was going to kiss Jeff, then remembered where he was and awkwardly patted him on the shoulder. 'You can sit up front now!' He grinned.

'Don't you want us to come in with you?' Jeff asked, feeling a little disappointed

'Nah, it's almost dinnertime.' Jensen grinned wider. 'It's apple pie for dessert!'

'You're joking! You can't possibly eat anymore!' Misha laughed.

'Yes he can!' Jeff smiled. He knew Jensen was putting on a brave face for his benefit and felt that surge of pride again. 'I'll see you real soon.'

'Yeah. Take care. Thanks for the ride, Misha.' Jensen turned away, straightened his shoulders and walked to the entrance. He buzzed for the door to open and waved at them as he disappeared inside.

'He's an amazing person, Jeff, and he's going to be fine.’ Misha said as he started up the car. ‘You're both going to be fine. The judge will love him.'

'Thanks, but this has all been so pointless.' Jeff sighed. 'You heard him Misha. He said he wants to look after me, and he will. He may have a few learning difficulties, but he's intelligent, caring, funny and completely capable of forming relationships and falling in love. Don't you agree?'

'Yep, I do, one hundred percent. I can see how much you love each other.' Misha said as he started the car.

Just then the door of the home flew open and Jensen ran towards the car, waving his arms and screaming Jeff's name. He was sobbing and so distraught Jeff almost fell out of the car in his haste to get to him.

'Jensen, oh God, what is it? What's wrong?' Jeff caught Jensen in his arms and Jensen just clung to him and sobbed.

Katie was right behind Jensen and she started to speak. 'I'm so sorry Jeff, it's Jensen's brother. He’s here and he said he's come to take Jensen home.'

Chapter Text

'Jared? Jared is here?' Jeff's voice was pure steel. 'How did he find out where Jensen was?'

 

Her reply was cut short as Jensen was wailing now. 'No, no, don't let him take me.’ He had spotted the tall well-muscled man striding over to join them.

 

'Shush, honey, it's okay.' Jeff whispered to Jensen. Jared was smiling, but it looked fake.

 

'Hi I'm Jared. You must be Jeff.’ He said smoothly, then reached out to pat Jensen's shoulder. 'Hey Jenny don't take on so.' His voice was deceptively kind.

 

'Don't touch him!' Jeff growled. 'I know all about you. There's no way you're taking Jensen anywhere.'

 

Jared stepped back. 'I don't think it's up to you.'

 

'Or you. Jensen's placement here is under the authority of the local court.' Misha said, scowling at the tall man.

 

'And you are?' Jared looked down at Misha coldly.

 

'I'm Misha Collins, court-appointed social worker.'

 

'Nice car for a social worker.' Jared smirked.

 

‘It’s my day off.’ Misha said curtly. ‘And you have no business being here. You’re upsetting your brother.’

‘I only told him that now ma’s gone and Pop’s in jail, he’s my responsibility. A friend told me about ma passing and I came as soon as I heard.’ Jared said, still wearing a smooth façade. ‘He can come to live with me and my wife in Colorado. I got two little girls now, Daisy’s 2 years old and Lily’s 8 months. You’re an uncle, Jenny. And I work on a ranch, you could work alongside me, they’d be plenty for you to do. You like horses, doncha Jenny?’

 

‘His name is Jensen and he’s not anyone’s responsibility, he’s an adult.’ Jeff said coldly.

 

‘He’s my brother and I know what’s best for him.’ Jared replied, glaring at Jeff.

 

‘Listen to me you sadistic thug, he’s not going anywhere with you. You should still be in prison for what you did to him!’ Jeff yelled, and Jared stepped forward as if to strike him.

 

‘No…no…no!’ Jensen was wailing and pulled away from Jeff, running heedlessly away from the argument. Misha was first to react and caught him by the arm as he was about to run into the busy road.

 

‘Be careful Jensen!’ Misha scolded the shaking man gently, keeping hold of his arm. Then he turned to Jeff and Jared. ‘Come on; let’s move this inside shall we?’ Misha said calmly, but with anger in his voice. ‘This is not helping Jensen and the other residents are watching.’ Sure enough there were several faces at the communal window and a couple of people lurking by the front door.

 

Katie had been standing watching in dismay; she liked Jensen and had never seen him so upset. She felt responsible, not realising how Jensen would react to his brother. ‘I’m sorry, Jensen, come on let’s go in, shall we?’ She said as she took his other elbow gently.

 

Jensen nodded. ‘I can stay here?’ He asked Katie and she smiled at him.

 

‘Of course you can. No one can force you to go with them.’ Katie reassured him.

 

Jensen sighed and looked over at Jeff. ‘I’m sorry for running off.’

 

‘No, I should be apologising.’ Jeff followed them into a large room he hadn’t been in before, it looked like a dining room or a meeting room. They sat around an oval table, Jensen still sandwiched between Misha and Katie on one side and Jeff was next to Jared on the other; the air was so hostile between them it was almost tangible. Jensen rubbed his face with his hands and shuffled nervously.

 

‘Right.’ Misha said, patting Jensen’s arm reassuringly. ‘This is all very impromptu but we need to clear the air. It’s not a formal meeting so nothing that is said will be recorded.’ His blue eyes gazed at Jeff and Jared in turn. ’And I hope we can remain civilised.’

 

‘It wasn’t me name-calling.’ Jared said sullenly, then seemed to realise how childish he sounded. He gave them all a dazzling smile and sat up straighter in his chair. ‘Sorry. I mean yes, of course, let’s discuss Jenny’s…Jensen’s future in a civilised way.’

 

‘I don’t know what there is to discuss.’ Jeff countered, keeping his voice level. ‘Jensen wants to live with me. Adult Social Care is processing the case and a judge will make a decision.’

 

Jared spat out a laugh. ‘Jensen can’t make that sort of decision! He doesn’t know what day of the week it is, let alone what’s best for him. You just want him because he’s so pretty.’

 

Jeff was about to response when Jensen thumped his fist on the table. ‘It’s Saturday 22nd June 2013. I’m not the idjit you think I am. I can read and write now, thanks to Jeff. I don’t wanna live with you Jared, you’re a bully and you’re sick in the head, like Pops was.’

 

Jeff almost wanted to laugh at the expression of shock on Jared’s handsome face.

 

Misha grinned. ‘Well said, Jensen.’

 

‘I ain’t finished.’ Jensen said shortly, then turned to Misha. ‘Sorry didn’t mean that to sound so rude, Misha.’

 

‘No worries, go ahead.’ Misha smiled.

 

‘Thank you.’ Jensen took a deep breath then looked at his brother almost calmly. ‘Jeff is my friend. He’s helped me become the man I am today. For so long I was controlled by Pops and by you, I was too scared to try to break free. It was easier to go along with being the retard, being the idjit. But I’m not playing that role anymore. And I love Jeff and he loves me and we’re gonna be together.’

 

Jared had got over his initial shock and sneered at Jensen. ‘Lovely speech bro. So who wrote it for you and got you to memorise it? Did you learn it like you used to learn songs?’

 

Jensen’s face crumpled and his bottom lip wobbled, but he kept his head up. ‘No one told me what to say. It’s my words. And – and it’s my life Jared.’

 

‘Okay, I think you know now how Jensen feels, Mr Ackles.’ Misha said.

 

‘It’s Padalecki.’ Jared informed him.

 

‘I’m sorry?’ Misha frowned.

 

‘I changed my name, when I….’ He cut himself off, adding. ‘It’s ma’s maiden name.’

 

‘That’s why the police couldn’t track you!’ Jeff exclaimed. He recalled Misha telling him that Jared had broken his parole and disappeared shortly after leaving prison. The police had never found him.

 

‘The police?’ Jared stood up, looking angry and scared too. ‘You reported me to the police?’ He yelled at Jeff, then turned his anger on Jensen. ‘You think you’re safe with these people? You’ll be sorry for this.’

 

‘Sit down!’ To everyone’s surprise, it was Katie who spoke up. ‘Sit yourself down right now Mr Padalecki and hold your tongue or I’ll call the police right now.’ Jared sat down looking a little shame-faced.

 

Jensen was crying now and Jeff just wanted to grab him and take him home. ‘Hey, Jensen, it’s okay, he can’t touch you. You alright?’

 

Jensen gave Jeff a sad smile and nodded, wiping his eyes. ‘I just want to be with you, Jeff.’

 

‘Oh how sweet.’ Jared sniggered.

 

Misha leaned forward a little and glared at the tall man. ‘Okay here’s what is going to happen, Mr Padalecki. You are going to go back home to your family in Colorado. We won’t inform the police as long as you stay away from Jensen. You have a wife and two young children who no doubt love you, God help them.’ Misha glanced at Jeff for corroboration. Jeff could see his plan and nodded. ‘Go home to your family and leave Jensen alone.’

 

‘You slimy little snake.’ Jared said quietly. ‘This isn’t over. You all think you’re so clever. Jenny is mine; he was mine first, before Pops had him, before y’all.’ He glared at Misha then Katie, before turning to face Jeff. ‘And as for you, I know exactly what you’re gonna be doing to my brother, you dirty old man.’

 

‘No, you’re wrong. Not everyone is a sick pervert like you.’ Jeff said, only maintaining his self-control because Jensen looked so upset. ‘I’m going to love and cherish Jensen because he’s a beautiful person and he deserves so much happiness.’

 

‘Oh yeah, real noble and if he looked like Quasimodo you’d feel the same?’ Jared sneered.

 

Jensen’s eyes flicked from his brother to Jeff and Jeff knew he wanted to hear this as much as anyone.

 

So Jeff looked back at Jensen as he answered. ‘I’m an ordinary human being and I’d be lying if I said that Jensen’s beauty was not a factor in what attracted me to him. I love his green eyes, his smile, his broad shoulders and his bandy legs. But that’s all superficial. As I got to know him, I began to love the person, not the incredibly lovely package. He’s so brave and charming, funny and honest. He’s been abused by the people he should have been able to trust for most of his life, yet he’s still kind and gentle and wants to be able to move on and to grow as a person.’

 

Katie wiped her eyes. ‘That’s so beautiful.’

 

‘Pass me a handkerchief; my eyes are welling up too.’ Jared said sarcastically. ‘Another great speech, no doubt the judge will buy it. I don’t believe a word, but d’you know what? I don’t need this. I don’t need him; he’s nothing but a retard, a big waste of space. He’s not worth arguing about.’ He looked with disdain at Jensen. ’And I’m outta here.’

 

‘Good. But remember what we discussed Mr Padalecki. You come back bothering Jeff and Jensen and the police will be informed.’ Misha said firmly.

 

‘Oooh, I’m so scared.’ Jared laughed bitterly. ‘Bye Jenny, hope Jeff treats you just as well as I did.’

 

He strode out of the room and they all gave a collective sigh of relief.

 

Jensen looked like he wanted to cry or throw up; he was so pale and shaky. Misha moved away from him, gesturing for Jeff to take his place. Jeff sat in the chair beside Jensen and pulled him into his arms and let him cry, as Misha and Katie tactfully left the room.

 

Three weeks passed by and the court date arrived. Jeff waited anxiously in the corridor as Jensen was interviewed by the Judge. She had asked to see him alone, without Misha, and Jeff had fretted over this decision. Misha had told him not to worry, Jensen would be fine. Judge Rhodes was a good person, she was firm but fair and underneath her sometimes frosty exterior she had a heart of gold.

 

All Jeff knew was that during his own interview with her, he had felt like a naughty school boy. She had asked about how he had met Jensen, when they had started having a relationship, what his hopes for the future were and how he felt about Jensen. Jeff had been completely honest and she had seemed impressed by the end.

 

‘Just one last thing Mr Morgan.’ She had said as he was about to go. ‘You could have manipulated Jensen into having a relationship with you from the day you met him. Yet he worked for you for months before you told him how you felt. Why was that?’

 

‘I didn’t want to manipulate him, ma’am, or use him. His father and brother had been doing that for years. I knew from the day I met him that I loved him, but I didn’t want to pressure Jensen into anything he wasn’t ready for.’ Jeff paused, but she could tell he had more to say.

 

‘Go on.’ She coaxed, smiling a little.

 

‘It’s been so hard. I knew his Pa beat him and bullied him, but I had no idea….and his brother too. He was abused by them for years, and all I want to do his love him, yet I’m the one who can’t be alone with him!’ Jeff said bitterly. ‘I’m sorry. I know you’re all just doing your job. And after what he’s been through I guess you’re being careful, but it’s not me who’s the problem here.’

 

‘I know, Mr Morgan. And I wish I could have taken Jensen away from his family when he was a child, saved him from all the hurt and pain, but somehow he slipped through the system.’ She sighed and looked sad. ‘So now, as you said, we have to be careful. Once I’ve spoken to Jensen I’ll make my decision. But I can see that you genuinely love him and want what’s best for him.’

 

Jeff nodded, a sudden lump in his throat rising as he sensed an implication in her words, because she may decide that what’s best for Jensen may not involve him. He couldn’t speak for a moment.

 

‘He’s going to be fine, Mr Morgan.’ She smiled more warmly at him. ‘I think you both are. Now I’ll need to speak to Jensen and I’m looking forward to meeting him.’

 

‘I think you’ll like him. Everyone does.’ Jeff said proudly. ‘Thanks for listening to me.’

Jensen was in there being grilled and Jeff was worried. He had been in there for 45 minutes. Misha had left in search of coffee and returned to sit next to Jeff, handing a cup to him.

 

‘Don’t look so anxious.’ Misha said. ‘I don’t know why you’re so worried. He’ll tell Judge Rhodes the truth and you’ll be together.’

 

Jeff sighed wearily. ‘I can’t be that sure. She may think that Jensen needs to be independent, that I’ll be controlling him. She may think he needs time away from me.’

 

‘That’s true, but you’re the person who has helped Jensen be independent, you’ve helped him to become a man and not an eternal child. She’s an astute woman; she’ll make the right call.’

 

They drank their coffee and Misha tried to keep Jeff’s hopes up. Jeff appreciated what he was doing but until the door opened and he knew the verdict, he couldn’t relax.

After an hour and 20 minutes the door opened and Judge Rhodes asked them to go in. Jensen looked tired and Jeff could tell he had been crying, but he smiled when he saw them.

 

‘Jeff!’ He grinned. ‘Sorry we took so long. Kim here wanted my entire life story.’

 

Judge Ferris grinned too and Jeff felt a surge of hope. ‘I sure did, and it was such a pleasure talking to you I lost track of the time.’

 

Jeff and Misha sat down and Jeff felt like his heart was going to burst through his chest with anxiety.

 

‘Okay, I won’t keep you waiting Mr Morgan, I can see how worried you are. Jensen is no longer a ward of the state, he is as free as any other adult. Which of course means that he is free to form a relationship with, as he put it to me, anyone he goddamn wants to.’ She smiled fondly at Jensen.

 

Jeff wanted to cry and laugh and hug Jensen, but he sat dumbstruck for a moment.

 

‘Jeff, I don’t want a relationship with anyone ‘cept you.’ Jensen said, sounding worried as he looked at Jeff. ‘That’s what this means. We can be together.’

 

‘I know…I’m sorry…I’m just so happy!’ Jeff burst into tears, unable to hold back, and Jensen was around to his chair in seconds to haul him to his feet and hug him and calling him a big idjit, as Misha and Judge Rhodes chuckled.

 

Jeff knew from that moment on that he had someone special, someone to look after him, someone who loved him unconditionally. It was so good to feel Jensen’s arms around him and hear Jensen telling him that everything was going to alright. Jensen was crying too now, and laughing, then he started to hiccup and they all laughed even more. Jeff doubted the side room of the court they were in had ever had such a lot of laughter in it.

 

It didn’t take Jensen long to pack up his clothes and the few possessions he had – some books Jeff had given him, a few CD’s and a framed photo of his mother. He thanked the staff for letting him stay and said goodbye to his flat mates politely. He hugged both Sam and Katie, promising to keep in touch with both of them. Then he almost ran out of the door, followed by Jeff.

Jeff had asked Jensen what he wanted to do to celebrate, whether he wanted to go out with Misha for a meal or head to a bar later but all Jensen wanted to do was to go home and knowing that made Jeff feel warm inside. Jensen had laughed at Jeff’s expression, saying that he knew when Jeff was really happy because his eyes became little pools of melted chocolate.

Once they were home, Jensen became quiet, almost subdued. Jeff could understand, because he felt the same. It was something they had both wanted for so long and now it was here and they weren't really sure how to feel.

‘Are you okay honey?’ Jeff asked as they sat outside on the patio drinking hot chocolate.

 

‘I’m fine Jeff, I’m so happy I could burst but I feel sad too and kinda scared.’

‘Scared?’ Jeff felt sick. How could Jensen feel scared of him?

 

‘Scared it’s all a dream, or that something bad’s gonna happen.’ Jensen whispered, like saying it loud would make it real. Jeff felt relief that it wasn’t him Jensen feared, but also angry that life had made Jensen this way, made him doubt that he could be happy.

 

‘Nothing bad’s going to happen, Jensen.’ Jeff put his mug down and patted his lap. ‘Come here.’

 

Jensen sat on Jeff’s lap tentatively at first, then seemed to mould his own body against Jeff’s. He sighed and snuggled against Jeff’s chest. ‘This feels nice.’ Jensen said. ‘I love you.’

 

‘I love you too.’ Jeff stroked Jensen’s hair. ‘What would you like to do for food this evening?’

 

‘Let’s make something Jeff, I like cooking with you.’ Jensen said, his voice muffled. ‘But can we just stay right here just like this for a while longer?’

 

‘Sure. I could stay here just like this with you for ever.’ Jeff answered, holding Jensen tightly in his arms.

 

After a few minutes Jensen felt heavier and his breathing deepened and Jeff realised with a smile that he had fallen asleep. Jeff moved himself around little so he could put his own feet up on Jensen’s now vacant chair and sat for almost an hour with the 6 foot man curled up asleep in his arms. He was grateful when Jensen finally woke up, as his legs were going numb and his back ached.

 

‘Gee, m’sorry Jeff.’ Jensen yawned and got up slowly to stretch his stiff limbs. ‘Didn’t mean to fall asleep on you.’

 

‘That’s alright honey; it was so nice having you in my arms I didn’t want to disturb you.’ Jeff groaned as he stood up.

 

‘And now you’re suffering for it!’ Jensen scolded gently. ‘I’m going to run you a bath, so you can soak your aching muscles.’

 

‘Thanks.’ Jeff smiled and pulled Jensen towards him for a kiss. He had wanted to do this since they got home, but it hadn’t felt right until now. Jensen sighed happily as their lips met and once again their bodies molded together, and it felt so right and so good.

‘Hey, why’re you crying?’ Jensen asked, pulling away to look at Jeff in concern.

‘I didn’t know I was.’ Jeff grinned sheepishly. ‘I just can’t believe this is real, that it’s all over. That you’re here, with me, at last.’

‘I’m here Jeff, really and truly.’ Jensen smiled then leaned back in to kiss Jeff again.

Chapter Text

Jeff couldn’t remember ever being this happy. He felt so complete and fulfilled, he could barely imagine life without Jensen and they had only been together a month. Of course it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Jensen was still having counselling and had nightmares almost every night, which meant that Jeff was reluctant to take their relationship further.

 

This also meant that Jeff had dreams every night too, but his involved rolling Jensen onto his back, licking, kissing and sucking his beautiful body from his lips down to his toes and then lifting his legs up, gently, moving his face down to lick Jensen’s….

 

‘Jeff! Jeff!’ Jensen’s voice disturbed that particularly intense dream. ‘You’re making those weird noises again.’ Jensen sounded exasperated but his arm was still draped over Jeff’s chest and he pulled himself up to look at Jeff.

 

‘Sorry, baby.’ Jeff grinned. ‘Did I wake you?’

 

‘Nah, I gotta be at Mrs Saunders by 8am. Her son wants to see my design.’ Jensen sighed. ‘He knew me from…..before, and I guess he don’t think I’m up to much.’

 

‘Well he’s going to be in for a real pleasant surprise then.’ Jeff reached up and cradled Jensen’s head, moving it down so he could kiss him.

 

‘You always say the right things, Jeff.’ Jensen grinned. ‘You’re like my mom but in a better way, cos you make me feel like I can do things. She was happy just keeping me as I was. Shoot, I gotta get ready.’ Jensen kissed Jeff back quickly and got up. His body was long and lean, but muscular and his shoulders were so wide Jeff just wanted to touch them, stroke them and lick them.

 

‘Fuck, these thoughts aren’t doing my raging hard-on any favours.’ Jeff thought to himself wryly.

 

‘Give me five minutes and I’ll drive you there.’ He managed to say.

 

‘It’s okay, Jeffers, I can walk there, it’s not far. I ain’t gotta carry nothing ‘cept the plans.’ Jensen said before he disappeared into the en-suite shower.

 

Jeff gave a sigh of relief. Once Jensen had gone he was going to have to deal with his now very hard erection in the shower. He laid back, smiling. He loved the nickname Jensen had given him, Jeffers, it was cute, original and affectionate, just like Jensen. He could hear Jensen singing in the shower and he recognised the song after a few seconds, Springsteen’s ‘Born In the USA’. Jensen’s voice was good and Jeff had almost got him up on stage at an open mic at their local bar a week ago, but Jensen had been too nervous.

Jeff hadn’t pushed him, as Jensen had already done so much since moving in with Jeff. They had visited the owner of the gardening company that his father had worked for and the guy had agreed to keep Jensen on. Jeff was annoyed that he was offering Jensen a fraction of the pay his father had received and only for a probationary period, but Jensen was happy enough with the offer and Jeff accepted his decision. Jeff agreed to drive Jensen to his jobs, he could easily fit that in with his own work schedule and it would only be until Jensen learned to drive.

However, a few clients gave Jensen a disdainful, pitying look when he had arrived for work and asked his boss to send someone who wasn’t ‘retarded’. Jensen had been upset by these ignorant few, but Jeff had said it was their loss. Jeff had also had to resist the urge to punch the pity right off of a couple of people’s faces, knowing that getting Jensen sacked or himself arrested would not be a smart move.

Jensen immediately started to show his talent at garden design and impressed several people, including his boss. Jeff remembered with pride one client telling him that now Jensen was out of his father’s shadow, he had blossomed and although he was the same cheerful, caring, friendly young man, he was like a different person in terms of confidence and attitude. It was true, Jensen was breaking away from the shackles of his past and it was wonderful to see. The only thing Jensen still wasn’t confident enough about was using the more dangerous tools such as hedge trimmer and chainsaws, so these jobs were either not allocated to him or his boss sent a more experienced man along too.

 

Jeff was brought back from his thoughts as Jensen emerged from the shower dressed and ready to go. His hair was still damp and his eyes seemed to shine from his slightly flushed face. ‘I’m gonna have a quick breakfast then I’m off. D’you want anything?’ He asked Jeff as he sat on the edge of the bed and put on his boots.

 

‘Nah, I’m fine, don’t worry about me.’ Jeff grinned. It still felt so good to have someone that did worry about him.

 

‘Don’t you go skipping breakfast, Jeff. Y’know it’s the most important meal of the day.’ Jensen informed him, like he did any morning that he didn’t actually see Jeff eat. ‘There’s fresh fruit salad in the fridge and waffles.’

 

‘Don’t you want the waffles?’ Jeff sat up and beckoned to Jensen.

 

Jensen leaned over and hugged him tight. ‘I’m just gonna have some oatmeal, I ain’t got much time.’

 

They kissed one last time and Jensen was soon on his way to Mrs Saunders house, shouting a cheery ‘I’ll be back for lunch, Jeffers!’ as he departed.

 

Jensen came bounding in looking like the cat that got the cream a few hours later. ‘Jeff! He liked it! He liked me!’ Jeff looked up from the salad he was preparing.

‘That’s great baby.’ He managed to say before Jensen continued, knowing he would be on full throttle.

 

‘He said he was very impressed, that he couldn’t believe someone like me could do such a design.’ Jensen wrinkled his nose. ‘Then he apologised and said he was being rude, would I please forgive him! And I said yeh, it’s okay, I didn’t know I could do it my own self until a few weeks ago and he laughed and said I had a natural talent. He wants me to do some work for him too, he’s got a house up in the hills the other side of town. There’s a pond that’s got all overgrown and he’s not sure whether to get rid of the damned thing or do somethin’ with it. And he said had I been to college, I said no but Jeff thought I should go but I was kinda shy ‘cause of my intellectual disabilities.’ Jensen chuckled. ‘The he said there were professors dumber than me at his college! He’s a professor Jeff, he teaches American history. His wife teaches too, um, phil-philosophy, I think he said. I don’t know what that is but I didn’t tell him that. What is it Jeff?’

 

Jeff had just about followed Jensen’s excited ramble, feeling immensely proud for him and grateful to this Mr Saunders. ‘Hold on, let me just say that’s all fantastic Jensen! I’m so pleased for you.’ Jeff hugged him and kissed his cheek. Jensen beamed at him, and took his note pad and pencil out of his jeans pocket. ‘Okay, philosophy.’ Jeff grinned as he spelled it out for Jensen. ‘It’s a way of thinking about the world, um I guess, thinking about the meanings of things. ‘

 

Jensen sat at the kitchen table and wrote down Jeff’s answer. ‘The meaning of things. Like how things work?’ He asked, his bright eyes on Jeff. Sometimes Jeff wished he was smarter so that he could give Jensen better answers. Jensen was like a sponge soaking up knowledge.

 

‘Not really, that’s more science, looking the way things work. Philosophy is more like why, like questioning the world, like is there a God? Why do bad things happen?’ Jeff saw Jensen’s frown.

 

‘But there is a God, Jeff. God, well God is God! Why would anyone ask that stupid question?’ Jensen reached out and helped himself to a bread roll. ‘Gee, I’m starving!’

 

‘Okay, Mr Philosophy, let me finish making lunch then we’ll discuss life, the universe and everything over our food.’

 

‘Sounds like that could take a hellish long time, Jeff and I got another job this afternoon.’ Jensen said and Jeff couldn’t stop himself from laughing. Jensen frowned again, always a little unhappy if he thought he was being laughed at.

‘I’m sorry, Jensen, it’s just an expression. Remember that film we watched the other night, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy?’ Jeff said as he managed to contain his laughter.

 

‘The one with the singing dolphins?’ Jensen grinned.

‘Yeah, the man that wrote those books was a genius, some would call him a philosopher. The meaning of life is 42.’ Jeff chuckled again. ‘Priceless!’

 

‘So he was joking, right, ‘cause really no one knows what the meaning of life is.’ Jensen said thoughtfully. ‘I think it should be to be happy and make other people happy too.’

 

‘There you go, baby, now you’re a philosopher too.’ Jeff kissed him on the forehead and finished up preparing lunch while Jensen wrote in his notepad.

 

Over lunch Jeff had to deal with the thorny subject of God’s existence. Jensen had been raised by his Baptist mother and had never even considered the possibility that God didn’t exist. Jeff loved how Jensen’s mind worked and the fact he took things so literally.

 

‘If God’s not real, then where do people come from? I mean, if Adam and Eve aren’t our great-great-great-a-million times grandparents, where did we come from?

 

Jeff then explained the theory of evolution. ‘That’s just stupid. If monkeys changed into men, why’re there still monkeys?’ Jeff was stumped on that one.

 

He decided to try to explain the big bang theory. ‘Now you’re making fun of me. You’re serious? The whole universe started from one small ball that exploded and you ‘spect me to believe that? Where did the exploding ball come from?’

 

Jeff was almost glad that Jensen had to leave for his next job. Jeff drove him there, it was a little further away and they were taking the sit-on mower.

 

Jensen was quiet in the truck and Jeff knew he was deep in thought. Jeff.’ He asked quietly after several minutes. ‘If there ain’t no God and no heaven, where’s my Momma?’

 

Jeff almost swerved the truck as he turned to look at Jensen. ‘Shit!’ He got the truck under control and took a deep breath. ‘Your Momma is in heaven Jensen. That’s what I believe and you do to, don’t you? It doesn’t matter if other people doubt it.’

 

‘Are you sure?’ Jensen wiped his eyes and Jeff knew he was hiding his tears.

 

‘As sure as my name is Jeffery Dean Morgan and that I love you.’ Jeff said sincerely.

 

Jensen giggled and Jeff gave an inward sigh. Meltdown averted. ‘Then you’re pretty damn sure, I guess. Hey, Jeff when we get married, will I be Jensen Dean Morgan?’

 

Jeff chuckled now. ‘What about both. Like Ackles-Morgan or Morgan-Ackles?’

 

‘No I think I like Jensen Dean Morgan.’ Jensen said wistfully. ‘Sounds real nice.’

 

‘But you would keep your own middle name, sweetheart. Ross.’ Jeff smiled at him.

 

‘Like yours better.’ Jensen smirked at him. ‘Like that actor, James Dean. Momma used to have his picture stuck inside her Bible along with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Butch and Sundance. And Gene Kelly. She liked musicals. Singin’ in the rain, just singin’ in the rain!’ Jensen launched into the song just as they arrived at their destination. ‘What a glorious feelin’, I’m haaaapy again!’ He finished with a big grin and a quick kiss for Jeff then jumped out of the truck.

 

Jeff helped Jensen unload the mower and arranged to pick him up at 6pm. He drove home with a brand new worry; Jensen had assumed they would get married, because in his world if you loved someone and lived with them, then you got married. Unfortunately same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal in their state and he wasn’t sure how to tell Jensen. Then he smiled and said out loud ‘The most beautiful man in the world wants to marry you! It doesn’t matter if it’s not legal, get a blessing or something and just fucking do it, ya idjit!’

 

Jeff spent the first part of the afternoon looking for a minister or an official that would give them a blessing rather than marry them. He was beginning to give up hope when the phone rang. It was Stephen, Jensen’s counsellor.

 

‘Hi Stephen, Jensen’s at work.’ Jeff said, distracted.

 

‘I guessed he would be. I wanted to speak with you, Jeff.’ Stephen said and Jeff’s heart sank. As much as he knew Jensen needed help, Jeff had never felt comfortable about counsellors. He was dreading the ‘I need to counsel you both’ conversation which he guessed was coming. ‘Is this a bad time?’

 

‘No, no. Sorry, I’m a little distracted. I was trying to….well, Jensen wants us to get married.’

 

‘Jensen does? What about you?’ Stephen asked probingly.

 

Jeff cursed himself inwardly, trust a counsellor to pick up on that. ‘I do, of course I do. It’s just that we can’t, not legally and I’m having trouble even finding a minister to give a blessing. I’d hate to disappoint Jensen.’

 

‘Lucky I rang you then, as I happen to know a minister who will bless gay marriages, or civil partnerships, or whatever the hell the latest name is for it.’

 

‘You do?’ Jeff was excited. ‘Is he local?’

 

‘Sure, he’s a few miles outta town, lives in a kind of religious commune. Called The Brethren of The Flesh, which makes them sound like freaking vampires or something, but he’s a good guy. His name’s Ty Olsson. I’ll give you his number.’

 

‘That would be great Stephen, thanks. But you wanted to talk to me?’

 

‘Yep, sure do. Jensen asked me to speak to you because he’s worried about your nightmares.’

 

Jeff blushed and stammered. ‘M-my nightmares? I don’t – don’t have…’

 

‘He said you groan out loud and you wriggle around in the bed like your body is full of snakes. His words.’ Now Stephen sounded amused and Jeff was pleased the man couldn’t see him blushing deeper.

 

‘Shit.’ Jeff groaned.

 

‘So I figure we should talk. About why you’ve had that man in your bed for a month and haven’t touched him yet.’ The man was nothing if not blunt. ‘Do you want to meet with Jensen or alone?’

 

‘Shit.’ Jeff repeated. ‘Um, alone. At first, I guess. Then perhaps with Jensen?’

 

‘Sure. I’m on my way over.’ Stephen said calmly.

 

‘Now??’ Jeff squeaked.

 

‘Yep, I have a free hour, a cancellation, so I’m just a few blocks away.’

 

‘Um, okay.’ Jeff put the phone down feeling like he had just been ambushed. He ran to the bathroom, washed his red face and then returned to the kitchen to put the coffee machine on. He felt like he needed a stiff drink but strong black Joe would have to do for now.

 

Stephen was grinning when Jeff opened the door. Jeff had only met the man a few times and only briefly as he collected Jensen from their sessions. He had instinctively liked the man, but right now he wanted to wipe that knowing grin off of his handsome face.

 

‘Afternoon, Jeff.’ He beamed and held out his hand.

 

Jeff shook his hand, unable to stop himself from smiling back at the man, despite his discomfort.

 

‘Come on through to the kitchen. I got a pot of coffee ready.’

 

‘Only coffee? I don’t suppose you got any Johnny Walker Blue?’

 

‘Nah, sorry, I’m a beer and wine man, not really into the hard stuff.’

 

Stephen raised an eyebrow and shook his head. ‘Jeff, you disappoint me. I had you down as a man of good taste. But just as well, as I’m driving.’ He sat down at the table and looked around the room. There were black and white prints of Jensen and Jeff pinned to the fridge and a huge vase of flowers on the table.

‘Are these from your garden?’ Stephen asked.

 

‘Yeah, Jensen cut them yesterday.’ Jeff said with a fond smile. ‘He puts them in every room. They brighten the place up, he says. Just like he does.’

 

‘They sure do. And the photos? Your work?’

 

‘Yeah, but Jensen has started taking shots too, he has a good eye. The ones of me are his.’ Jeff said proudly.

 

‘Hmmmm. He’s a gifted young man.’ Stephen turned his attention from the photos to Jeff as he sat down opposite and poured out the coffee. ‘But he’s not made of glass.’

 

‘You don’t waste time do you?’ Jeff smiled wryly.

 

‘Nope, not in my nature to chit-chat and talk about the weather. You know I can’t tell you what Jensen has said to me about your sex-life, or lack of it, but if you don’t address it you’ll have a problem.’ Stephen sipped his coffee and stared at Jeff, like he was weighing him up and finding him lacking.

 

‘I don’t want to pressurise him, or do anything that makes him uncomfortable or scared.’ Jeff said, running his left hand through his hair, his right hand wrapped around the coffee mug, the heat helping him to keep a clear head. He had never been open about talking about sex with anyone, yet another stick that Mark used to beat him with. ‘Talk to me, tell me what you like! I’m not a fucking mind-reader! And don’t just let me do stuff you clearly don’t fucking like! You’re such a fucking wimp, a fucking uptight, boring, dull, frigid…..’

 

‘Jeff?’ Stephen’s voice interrupted his thoughts. ‘Did you hear me?’

 

‘Sorry, I was thinking…..about how crap I am at talking about this kind of stuff.’

 

‘Most folks are.’ Stephen smiled kindly. ‘What I said was that it’s understandable that you’re concerned about Jensen because of the abuse he has endured, but avoiding sex isn’t helping him. And it’s certainly not helping you – and your night-time wriggling sessions.’

 

‘Please don’t.’ Jeff groaned and hid his face in his hands. ‘Fuck. Sorry. Shit! I’m a grown man with a successful career, a beautiful home and the most gorgeous boyfriend in the world, yet I feel like a horny teen. An inarticulate horny teen.’

 

Stephen laughed. ‘Most men are still horny teens underneath.’ Then regarded Jeff with his intelligent brown eyes. ‘Okay, let’s go back a bit. Just now, when you zoned out, what were you thinking of?’

 

‘Um, I thought we were going to talk about now? About Jensen?’

 

‘Sure, but your past sexual experiences are going to have some effect on now, don’t you agree?’

 

‘I suppose so.’ Jeff felt his blush grow. ‘I told you I find it difficult to talk about sex. My last boyfriend, well, we were together several years and he was……controlling. In every aspect of our lives. He would ask for my opinion and then either belittle me or ignore me. So I gave up expressing my views, which made him angry.’

 

‘And this happened in the bedroom too?’ Jeff nodded. ‘Have you had any counselling before? You seem to have a good handle on the main problems.’

‘I’ve never had counselling, but a good friend of mine is a psychologist. He helped me a lot especially after the break-up.’ Jeff sighed. ‘Jim, that’s my friend, said I’m too hard on myself; that I worry too much about pleasing other people, that I never think I’m good enough. And he said Mark had fed logs on the bonfire of my low self-esteem.’ Jeff laughed wryly. ‘And I’m supposed to be the strong one here! The so-called normal one!’

 

‘It’s all good.’ Stephen smiled. ‘You’re not supposed to be the strong one. You and Jensen are partners aren’t you? I think you can work this all out between yourselves. But you need to communicate, Jeff. And to trust each other.’

 

‘Thanks, I get that, I do. And I want us to be equal partners in everything, but I feel that I have to look after him Stephen, he’s had enough pain and sorrow.’

 

‘Are you afraid that if you unintentionally cause him any distress or pain when you have intercourse, he will hate you, be afraid of you and perhaps even leave you?’

 

‘Yeah, I guess so.’ Jeff admitted miserably. ‘But the main thing is, after only knowing pain and being used for sex, how can he ever enjoy it?’

 

‘Jeff, most people who were sexually abused as children and young adults go on to have fulfilling and rewarding sex lives. There will be issues and problems, but as long as you keep communicating and encourage Jensen to express his likes, dislikes and needs, you can move on from any difficulties.’

 

‘When I touch him – and we’ve only kissed and hugged – I wonder if he thinks of all the other men…’ Jeff suddenly found himself choking up. He wiped his eyes before the tears could start. ‘Sorry. I just don’t ever want to remind him of what was done to him, or make him feel bad.’

 

‘Jeff, I’m going to echo your pal Jim here. Stop beating yourself up, stop thinking you’re not good enough, that if Jensen has any issues with sex it will be your fault. Jensen is lucky to have you, Jeff, because you are kind, thoughtful and caring. But he also needs to know he is loved and that he’s attractive….’

 

‘Of course he is!’

 

‘Then prove it. Make love to him. Start small, with intimate touches. Encourage him to reciprocate, even try mirroring. Find out what he likes. Trust is crucial for both of you so let him know that it’s alright for him to say ‘no’ if he’s not comfortable, and the same applies to you because you are a partnership.’

 

‘That all sounds possible. I like the mirroring idea.’ Jeff tried to stop his stupid face from heating up again.

Stephen glanced at his wristwatch. ‘And if you need to talk to me, or you want to come along and join Jensen at a session, just let me know.’

 

‘Thanks for all the advice and listening to me rambling.’ Jeff said sincerely.

 

Stephen stood up. ‘I have to make tracks, but just one final thing.’ His face was very serious and Jeff felt a little concerned. ‘You should be wriggling and groaning in your bed with Jensen, not next to him!’ He barked out a laugh at Jeff’s stunned expression, then Jeff started to laugh too.

 

‘I know, goddamit, I know. Jim would call me a fecking idgit.’ Jeff chuckled.

 

‘I think I’d like your friend Jim.’

 

‘You two would get on like peas in a pod.’ Jeff saw Stephen to the door. ‘Thanks again.’

 

That night Jeff sat on the sofa with Jensen curled up next to him, his head on Jeff’s shoulder. They were watching NCIS, which was Jensen’s favourite show. As the credits began Jeff shifted and pushed Jensen away to look at him.

 

‘Jeff?’ Jensen yawned and rubbed his eyes. ‘You okay?’

 

‘I saw Stephen today.’ Jeff said cautiously.

 

‘Oh.’ Jensen’s green eyes grew wide and anxious. ‘I’m sorry Jeff, I meant to tell you I asked him to see you I was worried about you and I didn’t know what to do, I…..’

 

Jeff reached out and placed a finger on Jensen’s full lips. ‘Hey, you don’t need to be sorry. He told me you were worried about my nightmares.’ Jensen nodded as Jeff removed his finger from his lips and cupped Jensen’s cheek. ‘They’re not nightmares, baby. I’m dreaming of you.’

 

‘Of me?’ Jensen frowned. ‘But you groan and wriggle and……oh!’ Jensen’s mouth fell into a perfect ‘o’ of surprise and realisation.

 

‘I dream of making love to you, Jensen.’ Jeff said quietly. His heart was racing, it was an effort to keep his breathing under control and even more of an effort not to kiss that perfect mouth.

 

‘Oh!’ Jensen moved away from Jeff, looking confused and scared. ‘I’m sorry!’

 

‘What on earth are you sorry about?’ Jeff asked softly.

 

‘I’m making you have bad thoughts. It’s my fault. I make men…..’

 

‘Stop!’ Jeff said almost angrily. ‘Making love is not a bad thing Jensen, you know that. I dream about you because I love you so much and I want us to make love and to make you happy. For us to make each other happy.’

 

‘Pops said it was wrong to have sex dreams, that it proved I was bad, that I was only good for one thing.’ Jensen said sadly.

 

‘Everyone has sex dreams Jensen. No one can control their dreams.’ Jeff had to put aside the anger at Alan Ackles he felt and concentrate on Jensen. ‘And I’ve been dreaming about you baby. I want to touch you and explore your body, to find out what turns you on.’

 

Jensen gave a little moan and looked at Jeff with hooded eyes. ‘Wanna-wanna touch you too…..’

 

‘That’s good.’ Jeff smiled at him. ‘Let’s start by undressing each other and touching, is that okay?’

 

Jensen nodded. ‘I think – I think I’d like that.’

 

‘Here or in the bedroom?’ Jeff asked. ‘Where would you feel more comfortable?’

 

‘Um, here and….and Jeff can we keep the lights on?’ Jensen asked.

 

‘Of course we can baby. And at any point if you want me to stop for any reason, you just tell me, okay? I will never force you to do anything you don’t want to do okay?’ Jensen nodded again and Jeff saw a tear run down his face. ‘You okay?’

 

‘Yeah, I’ve been wanting to touch you and I was scared. Didn’t want you to think I was a cheap little whore.’ Jensen whispered.

 

‘I have never thought that not for a moment Jensen and I never will. I love you and do you know what?’ Jensen shook his head, bright green eyes fixed on Jeff’s. ‘I’m real glad you want to touch me and I think we are going to have such a wonderful time learning what we like, getting to know each other’s bodies.’

 

‘Jeff, I love you and you make me feel so happy but…..can we, can we please stop talking now? My hands are just itching to touch you!’ Jensen grinned at him and suddenly they didn’t need any more words.

 

They were undressing each other, Jensen unbuttoning Jeff’s shirt as Jeff unbuckled Jensen’s belt. Jeff pulled Jensen’s t-shirt over his head and looked at his broad chest, wide shoulders and narrow waist. Jensen pushed Jeff’s shirt off of his body and Jeff shook himself free. Then Jensen practically lunged at Jeff, knocking them back onto the sofa, Jensen laying on top of Jeff, kissing him, writhing against him, skin on skin. Jeff could feel Jensen’s nipples against his chest and he groaned. They kissed and Jeff ran his hands slowly over Jensen’s back and shoulders. Jensen held onto Jeff’s face, taking control of the kiss.

 

They parted gasping for air, Jensen sitting up and gazing at Jeff with a mixture of adoration and lust in his eyes. Jeff was pretty sure his eyes had the same expression. ‘Jeff….’ Jensen gasped. ‘W-want you…t-touch me, please, all over my-my body.’

 

‘Hell yes, baby. Do you want to touch me?’ Jensen nodded shyly. He reached out and ran his hand over Jeff’s chest. He hesitated by Jeff’s nipple and Jeff reached out to stroke Jensen’s nipple, to let him know it was okay to touch, and how good it felt.

 

‘Oh!’ Jensen’s face lit up with pleasure. ‘That feels…..tingly….oh!’ He cautiously stroked Jeff’s nipples too and Jeff groaned in appreciation. Jensen smiled at Jeff’s response.

 

‘That’s it baby. Feels good doesn’t it?’ Jeff whispered and Jensen nodded. He stopped touching Jeff and leaned back on his arms, exposing his body to Jeff. He trembled as Jeff moved his hands over his chest and stomach and each time Jeff run his fingertips over his nipples he have a little moan that went straight to Jeff’s hardening cock. ‘Jensen?’ Jeff asked, and Jensen opened his heavy eyes. ‘Can I use my mouth too?’

 

‘Oh…yes.’ Jensen sighed and Jeff leaned down and licked around Jensen’s right nipple then sucked the peak, loving the way Jensen’s body arched beneath him and the soft breathy noises that he was making. ‘Jeff….oh….God…’ Jensen moaned as Jeff moved across to the left nipple and repeated the process. Then Jeff licked and sucked his way down towards Jensen’s belly button, dipping in to make Jensen squirm, then he tugged Jensen’s jeans down, exposing his already hard cock and creamy thighs. Jensen tensed up and sobbed ‘No!’

 

Jeff felt like he had been slapped in the face. It had been going so well and he didn’t know what he had done wrong, he hadn’t even touched Jensen. ‘Oh baby I’m sorry, am I going too fast?’ He moved back to look at Jensen.

 

‘No…no…I shouldn’t be – it shouldn’t – it’s bad, it’s wrong, I’m bad, don’t want you to see….’ Jensen sobbed almost incoherently.

 

‘Hey, baby, come here.’ Jeff opened his arms and Jensen moved to lie against Jeff’s chest and let Jeff encircle him in his arms. ‘It’s not wrong or bad, it’s a completely natural reaction. In fact, if you weren’t reacting in that way I would be worried that you didn’t like what I was doing.’

 

‘But sometimes, when – when I didn’t want, didn’t like it, it-it happened anyways and Pops said….’

 

‘Your Pops is an evil man, Jensen. Don’t pay any heed to the lies he told you. Here, give me your hand, baby.’ Jeff took Jensen’s hand and guided it down to his own hard cock. Jensen’s hand moved over Jeff’s denim-encased hard-on and his eyes widened in understanding. ‘If it feels good, it makes you hard, like I am and you are now. But just being touched, being stimulated, even if you don’t enjoy it, can make you hard too, because it’s how your body responds. It doesn’t mean anything except that you are a normal, healthy man.’

 

‘Really?’ Jensen asked, his sobs subsiding. ‘It’s just a normal thing? A normal res-response?’

 

‘Really.’ Jeff smiled and kissed the top of Jensen’s bowed head. ‘So why don’t we carry on seeing just how healthy and normal you are?’

 

Jensen actually laughed and Jeff sighed in relief. Then Jensen looked at him in wonder. ‘Can I?’ He ran his fingertips down Jeff’s chest.

 

‘Hell yes.’ Jeff chuckled. Jensen spent a few minutes running his fingertips over Jeff’s chest, doing what Jeff had done, but also stroking his neck, his chin and his face, like he was memorising Jeff’s face and upper body through touch. ‘That’s it, baby.’ Jeff encouraged as Jensen stroked his nipples slowly. Jensen’s face was so focussed, he looked serene yet he was concentrating too. He stopped and moved his hands down to Jeff’s stomach, stroking it lightly. He frowned and licked his lips a little nervously. ‘You okay baby?’

 

‘I don’t think I can….I want to….but…..’ Jensen frowned again.

 

‘You don’t have to do anything baby. Don’t worry.’ Jeff wasn’t surprised that Jensen would have problems when it came to touching another man’s genitals after all the times he had been forced to do so.

 

Jensen sighed. ‘I love you Jeff. But I don’t think I can….do…anymore….right now.’

 

‘Hey, it’s alright.’ Jeff sat up. ‘You want to stop?’

 

Jensen shook his head. ‘I still want you – want you to touch me.’

 

Jeff smiled. ‘Lie down Jensen. Relax. Okay?’

 

Jensen lay down on the sofa and helped Jeff remove his jeans and boxers. Jensen was naked apart from his socks and Jeff wanted to stare at the pale, smooth, freckled skin forever. But then his eyes were drawn to the scars that criss-crossed Jensen’s body and thighs. He looked up at Jensen’s face, Jensen was watching him and biting his lip. Jeff thought Jensen had seen him looking at his scars and tensed, but Jensen moaned and wriggled his hips. Jeff was glad that it was arousal and not shame making Jensen blush and bite his lip.

 

Jeff ran his hands slowly over Jensen’s stomach, then down to his thighs, caressing his skin, rubbing small circles into his soft flesh. ‘Jeff…..please….’ Jensen moaned. Jeff ran his fingers along the smooth, hard length of Jensen’s cock and his body arched and bucked. ‘Please!’ He moaned.

 

Jeff stroked Jensen’s cock with one hand and lightly squeezed his heavy balls with the other. Jensen was sweating and shaking now, his body rigid and ready to explode. Jeff leaned down and kissed him, Jensen’s mouth open and panting.

 

‘I love you so much Jensen.’ He said as he nuzzled into Jensen’s neck and continued to stroke his cock and balls.

 

‘Love….you….’ Jensen managed to gasp. Then Jeff moved both hands to stroke and caress Jensen’s cock. Jensen was so close to the edge it didn’t take long before he came with a howl, pumping over his own stomach and Jeff’s hands.

 

Jeff hastily undid his own jeans and fisted his cock too as he watched Jensen’s body tremble and his chest rising and falling like he had run up a flight of stairs. Jensen’s eyes blinked open and he gave Jeff a happy, sated, fucked out smile that pushed Jeff over the edge and he came too, his come shooting out to join Jensen’s own. Jeff reached out and ran his fingers through the sticky mess on Jensen’s flat stomach and Jensen sighed.

 

‘Fucking hell baby, look at you.’ Jeff smiled down at him. Jensen grinned sleepily back.

 

‘Jeff, I can’t….I can’t tell you how good that felt.’ Jensen said softly.

 

‘You don’t need to.’ Jeff leaned down and manoeuvred Jensen so they were lying on the sofa face to face, wrapped in each other’s arms. ‘Because I feel the same.’

They laid for a short time just lazily kissing or staring at each other and smiling soppily. Jensen was drifting off to sleep so Jeff eased himself up. ‘You can stay there if you’re too tired to move, baby, but we need to clean you up. Or we can go up to bed?’

 

‘Bed.’ Jensen yawned. ‘Need the bathroom anyways.’

 

Jeff pulled him up and Jensen was so wiped out his legs almost gave way. They giggled and Jeff held Jensen upright in his strong arms. Once he was steady they made there was upstairs and as Jeff fell asleep a short while later, listening to Jensen snoring softly in his arms, he thanked God for bringing him into his life.

Chapter Text

Something was clearly worrying Jensen. He had been extremely quiet on the drive to work that morning and when Jeff picked him up he looked positively glum, which wasn’t like him at all. In the past few weeks their relationship had deepened both emotionally and physically. Although Jensen still had nightmares and Jeff was still anxious about how far to take things when it came to sex, they were happy and they were together, which was all that mattered. Jeff hated to see Jensen upset.

‘What’s wrong, sweetheart?’ Jeff asked as they pulled away from the house where Jensen had been working that day.

‘I dunno.’ Jensen shrugged and stared out of the window. ‘I just feel kinda sad.’

‘Has anyone said something that’s upset you?’ Jeff asked, knowing how sensitive Jensen could be.

‘Nope. The Henderson’s are real nice. They have a black Labrador puppy called Mischief. Their garden is nice.’ He sighed. ‘I guess, well, being there, made me think of my Pops. We laid the lawn there last year. He was real pleased with what I did for once. Said I’d done a real good job for a retard.’

‘Oh.’ Jeff swore inwardly about Ackles senior again. ‘So, do you feel angry?’

‘What?’ Jensen frowned at him. ‘Angry? No, I….well, I….’ He bit his bottom lip and blushed.

‘Go on Jensen, you know you can tell me anything.’ Jeff coaxed.

‘I miss him!’ Jensen said defensively. ‘An’ I know I should hate him an’ be angry about what he did…..but sometimes I just miss him!’

‘Hey, it’s alright.’ Jeff reached out his left hand and patted Jensen’s thigh. ‘Of course you do.’

‘You’re….you’re not mad?’ Jensen whispered.

‘No, I’m not mad.’ Jeff said, suddenly feeling guilty. ‘Jensen, you can talk about your father, I don’t expect you to just forget him.’

‘But….but you always get this look on your face when I say anything about him, like you’re real pissed and wanna hit someone.’ Jensen stroked Jeff’s hand. ‘I don’t wanna make you mad.’

‘Shit.’ Jeff sighed. ‘I’m sorry Jensen. Yes, I’m afraid I get very angry about your father and what he did to you, I can’t help it. But I shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t even mention him. I’m sorry.’

‘Do you think he’s okay? In prison I mean.’ Jensen asked and Jeff realised they had never talked about Alan Ackles imprisonment. Jeff had been so relieved that the man had pleaded guilty and saved Jensen the trauma of a trial that he hadn’t even thought about how Jensen felt.

‘I’m sure he’s okay.’ Jeff lied. The last he had heard was that a fellow inmate had found out that Ackles had abused his disabled son and beaten him to a pulp. Jeff had decided not to tell Jensen.

‘He’s gonna be there a long time.’ Jensen said quietly. ‘Do you….do you think he’ll die in there?’

‘I don’t know, baby. But what I do know is that he’s where deserves to be. And I understand that you still care about him.’

‘It must be real boring, being in prison.’ Jensen said, sounding a little happier. ‘I’d hate to be locked up, I remember Pops used to shut me in my room an’ lock the door sometimes when I was bad. He said it was better for me to be away from him, or he’d have to hurt me. But most times he’d already hurt me anyways, then shut me in my room. I guess it stopped him hurting me more. An’ he’d say don’t upset your momma boy, none of your crying and fussing, or I’ll keep you locked in there.’ Jensen was telling this story so casually it made Jeff’s heart ache and he was glad he was driving so Jensen couldn’t see his face, because right now he felt positively murderous. Jensen carried on. ‘An’ I’d hate not being outside, not being able to see the sky and smell the grass. I’d miss goin’ to the diner for pie and most of all I’d miss you, Jeffers.’

‘Well, it’s never gonna happen to you, Jensen.’ Jeff managed a smile. ‘We’re almost home. Shall we stop by the diner right now?’

‘Really?’ Jensen said eagerly. ‘Can we? ‘

‘Sure, let’s have a treat. And the minister is coming over this evening to discuss the ceremony so eating now make sense.’ Jeff glanced at his watch. It was 5.30pm and Ty Olsson was due at 7.30pm, so they had enough time.

‘That sounds like a plan!’ Jensen chuckled. ‘You make me so happy Jeff.’

‘You make me happy too, baby.’ Jeff said sincerely.

Ty Olsson was not what Jeff expected at all. The guy was tall, well-built with piercing blue eyes and a crew-cut, he looked more like a night-club bouncer than a minister. He gave a lazy smile as he shook Jeff’s hand.

‘Mr Morgan, pleased to meet you, sir.’ He said in a gentle Southern drawl.

‘Please call me Jeff. Thanks so much for coming, um, what should I call you? Reverend?’

Ty chuckled. ‘Nah, Ty is just fine.’

Jensen was hovering nervously by the kitchen door. ‘Ty it is then! Come and meet Jensen, we thought we’d sit out on the patio as it’s a warm evening.’

‘Hi there Jensen.’ Ty held out his hand and Jensen shook it, but he was blushing and nibbling at his bottom lip. Jeff knew he was nervous but now he looked terrified.

‘P-pleased to meet you.’ Jensen said, not looking up at Ty.

‘I hear you have green fingers, Jensen, I’d love to see the garden.’ Ty said and Jeff instantly liked the man, he was being sensitive and kind to Jensen.

‘Um, sure, come with me.’ Jensen shot a panicked look at Jeff.

‘It’s fine, I’ll bring out the coffee, you go ahead.’ Jeff encouraged.

Jeff followed them outside a few minutes later and was relieved to see Jensen chatting away and indicating points of the garden to Ty, who looked intrigued and bemused. Jeff walked over to join them by Jensen’s favourite spot - the pond and the patio seating area. He placed the tray of coffee cups down and sat, listening to Jensen with a fond smile.

‘And I told Jeff we should put a patio here ‘cause it has sun in the evening and it’s nice to sit here and watch the sun go down. Sometimes geese fly overhead, I love watching ‘em, I’d love to be able to fly, must feel so great…’ He came to a stop, blushing a little again. ‘Sorry reverend, I talk too much, ‘specially when I’m feeling nervous and I don’t know how to shut the hell up sometimes.’ Jensen looked stricken. ‘Damn, sorry, I didn’t mean to……’

‘You don’t need to apologise, Jensen. And you can call me Ty, everyone does.’ Ty said gently, smoothly cutting Jensen off before he made himself feel worse by saying another ‘bad’ word.

‘Thanks, Ty. That’s a strange name…’ Jensen sat down. ‘Where does it come from? Is it short for something?’

‘Jensen, I forgot the cookies, do you mind?’ Jeff asked, knowing that if he didn’t cut Jensen off he would ramble on for ages. Jeff found it endearing but they had important things to discuss.

‘Sure.’ Jensen grinned and got up. ‘Can’t have coffee without cookies!’

They watched him stride back to the house. ‘Wow.’ Ty chuckled. ‘He’s like bottled sunshine. He’s the sweetest person I’ve ever met.’

Jeff smiled. ‘You got that right. He does tend to talk too much though. I mean, I love that about him but he gets easily side-tracked.’

‘I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he’s really bright and charming.’ Ty smiled as he saw Jensen approaching.

Jensen walked back with a huge plate of cookies. ‘I wasn’t sure if you’d like double-chocolate or oatmeal and raisin so I brought all of ‘em.’ He said to Ty. ‘You can have one of each if you’re not sure, that’s what I do ‘cause I like both and Jeff rolls his eyes and says you can’t possibly eat any more!’

‘I do not roll my eyes!’ Jeff said hiding a smile. ‘And you can’t possibly be hungry after what you ate at the diner!’

‘That was hours ago Jeff! Well, about an hour ago.’ Jensen smiled widely and Jeff felt the familiar twinge in his heart at his boyfriend’s sheer beauty.

‘So tell me a bit about yourselves. How you met, what you like doing together. And if you have any ideas where you’d like the ceremony to be held.’

‘We met right here, in this garden. Jeff was looking at the house, it was for sale, and I really hoped he would buy it ‘cause he looked real nice and he had kind eyes. And then I started working for him and we painted the studio and he taught me to read and write and now I’m going to college and I’m learning to drive and it’s all ‘cause of Jeff and I love him and….’ Jensen paused and looked around the garden. ‘And I think we should get married right here, right in this garden!’

‘Jensen that’s a wonderful idea!’ Jeff grinned. ‘But, you remember we talked about this, we can’t get married due to state laws, so we are having a blessing.’

‘I think that would be perfect.’ Ty smiled at Jensen. ‘You can celebrate your love in the place where you met.’

‘I like that, rev….I mean, Ty. Celebrate our love in the place we met. That’s real nice.’ Jensen said wistfully. ‘An’ it’ll be as near dammit to a wedding.’

‘So we need to discuss the order of the ceremony, if you want to have music, if you want to read your own vows, that sort of thing.’ Ty said then looked at Jeff. ’But I didn’t get your side of the story.’

‘That’s my fault.’ Jensen said. ‘I can talk the hind legs off a donkey but I’ll eat a cookie and keep my mouth shut so Jeff can get a word in.’

Jeff laughed. ‘Any excuse to eat a cookie, eh? Well, Ty, I was a very lonely man until Jensen came into my life. I had been in a long-term relationship that had ended badly, and I’d moved here to start afresh and I wanted to be alone, I never expected to fall in love. But the moment I saw Jensen my heart just melted. And it’s not just because he is so handsome, it’s because he is beautiful inside as well as out. He makes me smile and he makes me feel special. He makes me feel like I’m really alive for the first time.’

Jeff looked at Jensen, who had stopped eating his oatmeal and raisin, his hand still holding the cookie poised halfway up to his mouth, and was gazing at Jeff with tears running down his face.

‘Hey, baby, don’t cry or you’ll start me off.’ Jeff moved his chair next to Jensen’s and pulled him into his arms.

‘M’sorry, you just….just say such…such pretty things.’ Jensen sobbed. ‘An’ I was so scared…’

‘Scared?’ Jeff asked, remembering how fearful Jensen had looked when he met Ty. ‘What were you scared about?’

‘I thought….I thought the reverend would….’ Jensen was trembling now.

‘Jensen, it’s alright, just tell us what’s bothering you.’ Ty said gently.

‘I thought…..he would know I was….was bad. That he would be able to…..to tell.’ Jensen had stopped crying but his voice was still shaky. ‘Pops said….he said I was made to….to sin. An’ when I went to church with my momma the reverend used to say a special prayer for me an’ I ain’t been to church since momma, well, since she passed and I’m bad an’ I need special prayers to be forgiven.’

‘Christ.’ Jeff sighed as he stroked Jensen’s hair. ‘Sorry, Ty.’ He glanced at the minister who looked both angry and upset at Jensen’s words. ‘Jensen’s father was a real piece of work.’

Ty ignored Jeff completely and moved to kneel in front of Jensen. ‘Jensen, look at me.’ Jensen raised his head slowly and forced himself to look at Ty. ‘You are not a bad person. You are just the same as me, as Jeff, as anyone else. We’ve all sinned and done things that need to be forgiven. You are no worse than anyone else and a lot better than most. God loves you and He knows everything that has happened to you. He will never stop loving you. You don’t need any special prayers, but I’d like to pray for you both right now, if that’s okay?’

Jensen nodded and they both sat up straighter, Jensen slipping his hand into Jeff’s. Jeff squeezed it tight. Jeff wasn’t a practising Christian and this was a little weird, but he knew Jensen needed it.

Ty closed his eyes and raised his hands in the air. ‘Dear Lord, we are gathered here in your presence to ask your blessing upon Jensen and Jeff. Please give them both your guidance and your peace. Let Jensen know that he has nothing to feel guilty about or ashamed about. Give them your joy and let them continue to find joy, life and love in each other. Amen.’

Jensen was crying again, but when Jeff looked at him he was smiling. ‘Thank you Ty.’ He whispered, wiping his wet face with his hands. ‘You and God have made me feel heaps better.’

‘That’s great.’ Ty grinned. ‘Now, shall we get down to business?’

 

They spent the next hour talking about songs, vows, guests, and by the time Ty left they had a list of things to do and happy smiles on their faces.

‘He’s real nice.’ Jensen said as they waved Ty off in his car. ‘Not like a reverend.’

‘He’s perfect for us.’ Jeff agreed. ‘I can’t wait to show the world how much you mean to me.’

They walked back inside the house and Jeff sat on the sofa, feeling weary. Jensen stood in front of him and he blushed and bit his bottom lip. ‘Jeff, I wanna show you how much you mean to me. I wanna, I want….’ He gracefully sank to his knees and ran his hands up Jeff’s splayed thighs.

‘Holy shit!’ Jeff gasped. ‘Jensen, baby….’

‘I want to…..to make you happy….to show you…’ Jensen moved up and kissed Jeff as his hands caressed Jeff’s dick through his jeans. Jeff ran his hands through Jensen’s short hair and held the back of his head as the kiss deepened.

Jensen started to unbuckle his belt and before Jeff could process what was happening Jensen had unzipped Jeff and was between his legs, licking the length of his hardening dick. Jeff was torn between letting Jensen carry on, because he had instigated this and stopping him as he wasn’t sure that Jensen was ready. Damn it, he wasn’t sure he was ready.

‘Jensen, baby, don’t….’ Jeff groaned. He wasn’t sure if he wanted Jensen to stop or carry on.

Jensen looked up at him and there was such love in his eyes Jeff gasped. He knew then that Jensen was ready and laid back, letting Jensen take control.

Jensen licked and nuzzled Jeff’s dick from base to tip, as he massaged his balls with one hand and held his dick with the other. The combination of Jensen’s mouth and hands had Jeff hard and leaking in no time. Jensen suddenly stopped and looked at Jeff.

‘Want you Jeff, please don’t be scared.’ He whispered, then he was back, taking Jeff inside his mouth and Jeff was crying, because Jensen was worried about him, because Jensen was giving him a precious gift, because Jensen was doing things to him he had never felt before, because Jensen loved him. Jeff couldn’t help his hips bucking and his dick thrusting into Jensen’s mouth, but Jensen took him deeper, gagging a little and pulling back for air a few times, then as he took Jeff down as far as he could, Jeff came with a shout as Jensen swallowed him down.

Jensen was crying too when he sat up, but he looked so happy Jeff knew this was a special moment for them both.

‘I-I did it…..Jeff….I wanted to for so long but I couldn’t and then when you said how much you loved me, I knew! I knew I had to, had to show you, had to and it was good Jeff it was so good…’ Jensen was sobbing and laughing as he spoke and then he was in Jeff’s arms, pushing him back onto the sofa, kissing him and hugging him tightly. Jensen stopped and laughed. ‘You’re crying too!’
‘Yeah, I just love you so fucking much baby, and I’m so proud of you.’ Jeff grinned at him. ‘I can’t remember ever feeling so happy.’

‘Me neither Jeffers.’ He snuggled into Jeff’s chest and Jeff wrapped his arms around him.

The next day Jeff took Jensen to collect his engagement present. They pulled up outside the well-kept suburban home and Jensen looked perplexed. ‘I thought we’d be going to a jewelry store or something, Jeff.’

‘I wanted to get you something special, something that will make our house even more of a home.’

They climbed out of the truck and Jensen followed Jeff round he back of the house.

‘Jeff! Hi there!’ A woman called out. She was sitting on a garden chair with three Labrador puppies playing at her feet, two yellow and one black.

‘Hey there Mrs Davies.’ Jeff greeted the woman.

‘Oh puppies!’ Jensen said, delighted. ‘The black one’s just like Mischief!’

‘Come on over and choose say hello.’ She smiled at Jensen.

Jensen almost ran to the puppies and threw himself onto his knees, letting the pups jump all over him, stroking their soft fur and laughing as the black one nibbled his fingers.

‘So which one do you want?’ Jeff asked as he joined them.

Jensen looked at him with a frown. ‘What?’ His face suddenly lit up with a huge smile. ‘Really?’

‘It’s my present for you.’ Jeff grinned back.

‘Can I….can I have the black one?’ Jensen asked, looking from the dog owner to Jeff.

‘Sure, he seems to like you!’ Mrs Davis chuckled as the black pup was climbing up Jensen’s t-shirt trying to lick his face.

‘What are you going to call him, Jensen?’ Jeff asked, chucking too as Jensen hoisted the puppy up and it licked his face happily.

‘Dean.’ Jensen said with a grin. ‘After us. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jensen Dean Morgan.’

‘That’s perfect.’ Jeff smiled.

‘Would you two like a drink before you go?’ Mrs Davis offered.

‘That would be great, thanks. We can sort out the paperwork then.’

‘Is he really mine?’ Jensen asked when they were alone. ‘I’ve always wanted a dog, but Mommy was ‘lurgic. He’s so cute! I can’t wait for him to meet Mischief and I’m gonna train him to sit and stay and roll over and I’ll look after him.’

‘He’s really yours, baby.’ Jeff joined Jensen on the grass and was immediately jumped on by the other two pups. He leaned over and kissed Jensen and Dean yelped in protest. ‘Hey, no need to get jealous!’ Jeff chuckled. ‘We can share him.’

Jeff had brought a travel cage for the pup, but Jensen insisted on holding Dean in his arms and the pup settled and fell asleep within minutes.

‘He is the best present I’ve ever had.’ Jensen sighed happily. ‘Thanks so much.’

‘You’re welcome baby.’ Jeff smiled and reached out to pat Jensen’s knee.

‘I have an idea for a present for you too.’ Jensen smiled enigmatically. ‘I need some help but I think you can have it next Friday night.’

‘That sounds intriguing!’ Jeff wondered what Jensen had planned.

 

Dean was a source of delight and also destruction in the house. He dug up plants in the garden, peed on the carpet and chewed Jeff’s boots. He got into the studio and managed to pee over a half-finished canvass and that prompted Jeff to buy a ‘baby gate’ to put at the door and stop the naughty pup from entering. Jensen fenced off a section of grass in the garden and Dean could have the run of that area, usually with Jensen throwing him a ball or playing tag with a rope.

Dean also managed to charm his way into their bedroom, despite Jeff’s misgivings. But neither he nor Jensen could stand listening to the mournful whimpers and howls from the kitchen where Dean’s bed was and he ended up in bed between them the first night and all that first week.

Jensen arranged for the Henderson’s teenage daughter to dog-sit on the Friday evening and was so excited as they drove to meet Misha and Vicky, Jeff couldn’t help but feel excited too.

‘I think you’ll like it, I hope you do, I didn’t know what to do, I mean Dean is just perfect I can’t get anything to match that and I know we’ll have rings at the ceremony and I thought of this and I asked Misha to help and hope you like it.’ Jensen said nervously as they followed Misha’s car to a bar on the outskirts of town and Jeff got butterflies when he saw the sign ‘Open Mic Night!’ He had now guessed what his present was and loved Jensen even more for organising this.

‘C’mon Jeffers, gee I’m so nervous I just wanna get inside!’ Jensen tugged Jeff’s hand and pulled him towards the bar. Jeff stopped him and kissed him.

‘If this is what I think it is, I’m so happy. I love you so much.’ Jeff said and Jensen beamed.

‘It is, I think, I mean, I know you like hearing me sing and wanted me to and I thought…’

‘Hey you two coming in?’ Misha called from the door way.

The bar was crowded and Jensen paled a little when he saw all the people milling around.

Jeff squeezed his hand. ‘You’ll be fine, baby. I believe in you.’

Jensen nodded and took a deep breath. ‘Misha reserved a table by the stage.’

They found their table and sat down, and to Jeff’s delight plates of his favourite bar food arrived with a pitcher of beer. There were chicken wings, jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheese, nachos, various dips, fries and King prawns in batter. Jeff grinned at Jensen. ‘Hey you got all my favourites!’

‘Yep, I want this night to be perfect.’ Jensen glanced at the door and fidgeted.

‘You okay?’ Jeff asked.

Jensen smiled and Jeff turned to see Jim striding towards them.

‘Hey!’ Jeff stood up and hugged his best friend. ‘This is a great surprise!’

‘Jensen told me his plan and I was excited to be a part of it.’ Jim said.

They ate, drank and chatted happily and then at 9pm the music was turned down and all eyes fell on the stage. ‘Welcome all to our Open Mic Night! To kick us off we have a very special performance by Jensen. This is a present for his boyfriend, Jeff.’

Jeff noticed a few people muttering at the announcement and hoped no one would cause trouble. He need not have worried. Jensen took to the stage looking like he was going to throw up, but he nodded to the band and grasped the mic. The song started and Jensen’s husky, low voice began singing ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’.

The noisy crowd grew silent and Jeff knew he wasn’t the only one completely spellbound by Jensen’s performance. Jeff had heard Jensen sing many times, but never with a band and with a mic. His voice was beautiful and he was a natural performer. The crowd erupted as he finished and shouted for more. Jensen blushed and waited for the noise to subside. ‘That was for Jeff, the man I love, the man who changed my life. This is your engagement present from me, Jeffers. I love you. Thank you all for listening.’ He went to walk away and shouts for more started again. ‘Um, okay. I can do Livin’ on a Prayer? Is that okay?’ He asked tentatively and the crowd cheered in approval.

Jeff had never imagined he could love Jensen any more than he already did, but seeing him up on stage, looking so happy and confident now his initial nerves had gone, made his heart burst with love, pride and joy.

Jim nudged his arm and handed him a napkin. ‘There ya go, ya big idgit.’ He chuckled and Jeff smiled sheepishly as he wiped the tears from his face.

The night passed all too quickly. Jensen had to do another song by popular demand and then surprised Jeff further by giving him a cake with a black and white photo Jeff had taken of the two of them copied in icing on the top. It had been a perfect evening and as they said their goodbyes and walked to their cars, no one noticed the tall figure that stood in the shadows watching them.

Chapter Text

Jeff stretched his arms as he got out of his car, it had been a long day meeting with his accountant and his agent. They had discussed a new exhibition that would showcase Jeff’s own work and also be an opportunity for local artists to exhibit their work. He opened the front door and shouted out hello to Jensen. He had hated leaving Jensen alone on a Saturday but Jensen had insisted he would be fine; he would be happy doing some gardening and playing on the Xbox. There was no reply, but Jeff wasn’t worried as he assumed Jensen was working in the garden. He opened the fridge and was surprised to see the left-over pizza and salad that Jensen was going to have for lunch still sitting there. He grabbed a couple of beers, opened them up and headed to the back garden. The back door was open and he called out Jensen’s name.

The garden looked completely empty and Jeff felt a chill run down his spine. It wasn’t like Jensen to go off without telling him. Even if he went for a run, he left a post-it stuck to the fridge door. Also, there was no sign of Dean and the puppy rarely left Jensen’s side. Jeff’s unease was growing by the second and he called out Jensen’s name a few more times, then he put the beers down and jogged around the garden, in case Jensen was kneeling down lost in his work somewhere. There was no sign of him and Jeff ran back to the house, trying to contain his panic.

He rang Jensen’s mobile number and felt the icy chill that had run up his spine now grip his heart as the cell phone rang from the hallway, where it was lying on the table.

‘Calm down. He’s probably gone for a run and forgot to leave a note.’ He told himself as he took the stairs two at a time and threw open the bedroom door. Jensen’s running shoes were in the closet and Jeff punched the closet door, cursing in fear and frustration. He grabbed the phone from the side of the bed and rang Jim, but got his answerphone.

Jeff ran his hands through his hair, pondering who to call. On impulse he rang Misha, who was shopping with his wife at a local mall nearby and insisted on coming straight over. He arrived within 10 minutes and introduced Jeff to his wife, Victoria, a pretty, petite woman with red streaks in her dark hair and a friendly manner.

‘Thanks for coming. I’m sorry to intrude on your weekend. I just don’t know what to do. Should I call the police?’ Jeff said, running his hand through his hair again.

‘I think so, but shall we just drive around the area for a while first, in case he’s gone for a walk or something?’ Misha suggested calmly.

‘He wouldn’t without taking his phone or leaving me a note. I’m so worried.’ Jeff realised he was trembling and took a deep breath to steady himself. ‘Okay. Let’s drive round the area before we call the police. Jensen would freak if the police turned up and he had just popped out for candy.’

‘I tell you what, you stay here in case he shows up, Vicky can drive and I’ll look for him.’ Jeff followed them out to the car and watched glumly as they climbed in, just wishing Jensen was there to call shotgun.

‘We’ll find him, Jeff. There’s bound to be a simple explanation.’ Misha said before they left and Jeff knew he was trying to sound positive. He thanked Misha and they drove off. Jeff stood on his driveway for several minutes, almost willing himself to see a tall, broad shouldered, bandy legged figure ambling along. He spent the next twenty minutes alternating between pacing the kitchen and the front of the house. He rang Misha twice but of course they hadn’t found him. Of course he would be first to know if they had.

 

When they arrived back, Jeff could barely contain his frustration. Victoria suggested asking the neighbours if they had seen Jensen, perhaps he may have even called in to see one of them. Jeff muttered about it being a waste of time, but he had to admit that Jensen was so friendly and talkative it was possible he had got chatting to someone. It was worth a shot. So they split up, Misha and Jeff taking a side each and Vicky staying out to man the phones and make a pot of coffee. Jeff drew a blank; no one was at home in the houses immediately to his right.

As he walked back towards home, he could see from Misha’s expression that something was very wrong. Misha was walking towards him, his face grim and he was speaking into his phone.

‘Hey Mark, it’s Misha. I’m afraid I may have an abduction to report. Can you come over?’ Jeff heard Misha say and he felt his knees go weak and sat on the front steps as Misha gave the details over the phone. Misha sat down next to him and laid a comforting hand on his knee.

‘Jeff, I’m so sorry, but I think someone’s taken him.’ Misha said, his blue eyes radiating his concern.

‘No.’ Jeff shook his head, unable to process the words. ‘No!’

‘Your neighbour saw Jensen sitting in a truck as she came home from taking her kids to football practise this morning. The driver almost hit her he was going so fast and she said….she said Jensen looked upset.’

‘That was early this morning then. He’s been gone hours.’ Jeff stood up, then sat back down again as his legs buckled. ‘I should have been here, I should have called him….’

‘Jeff you couldn’t have known, don’t blame yourself.’ Misha said gently. ‘I’ve contacted my friend Mark, he’s a detective down town. He’s on his way.’

‘Was it Jared?’ Jeff whispered. He could barely breathe his chest felt so tight.

‘She said the driver had long dark hair, he looked taller and broader than Jensen. She didn’t get a clear look but who else would it be?’ Misha shrugged.

Jeff stood up, anger outweighing his shock and despair. ‘We should’ve reported him, got him sent away, he’s psychotic. If he hurts Jensen I’ll kill him!’ Jeff strode up the stairs and went back inside, picking up Jensen’s cell to see if Jared had perhaps called him. He scrolled through number and messages but found nothing that could be from Jared. Misha joined Vicky in the kitchen to wait for Mark but Jeff had to do something, he couldn’t just wait around. He ran upstairs, chucked some clothes and toiletries in an overnight bag and headed back to the kitchen.

‘I’m going to Colorado.’ He told Misha and Vicky, knowing it was a stupid plan as he had no idea where Jared lived.

‘It’s a pretty big state, Jeff.’ Misha said reasonably. ‘He might not even take him there, and it might not have been Jared.’

‘I have to do something!’ Jeff yelled. ‘I can’t just wait here if Jensen’s in trouble.’ He felt his head swim as endless possibilities assaulted his mind, none of them good, on what Jared would do to Jensen. Jeff swayed and gripped the handrail of his veranda. ’Oh God, this is my fault.’

‘Mark will be here real soon, he’ll find Jared’s address, and send the local police there.’ Misha said calmly.

‘But if he’s not there, he could be anywhere. How will we find him?’ Jeff sat down, suddenly drained.

‘Here, Jeff, have a drink. I put a slug of whiskey in it. For the shock.’ Vicky said, handing him a mug of delicious smelling black coffee. He took it gratefully, pleased that he had them there for support.

Just then the doorbell rang and Misha went to answer, returning with two men in suits. One was late-40’s, short and stocky and the other was taller, fair haired and a few years younger. The shorter man nodded grimly at Jeff and walked over.

‘You must be Mr Morgan.’ The man held his hand out and Jeff took it. ‘I’m Detective Mark Sheppard and this is my partner, Detective Mark Pellegrino.’

Jeff nodded at the two men. ‘Thanks for coming so fast. Please take a seat.’

The four men sat around Jeff’s kitchen table and the detectives took all the details from Jeff and Misha. They had already located Jared Padalecki’s address in Colorado and the local police were on their way.

Sheppard’s cell rang just as they were wrapping up and he took the call in the hallway, coming back shortly. ‘Well I’m not sure if it’s good or bad news, but Jared Padalecki is at home with his wife and kids and has been for the last few days since he broke his foot. There’s no way he’s our guy.’

‘Damn.’ Jeff felt the room spin. He had been so sure Jared was responsible, which was bad enough, but now Jensen could be anywhere, with anyone and he would be so scared.

Misha handed him a glass of whiskey. ‘Jeff, buddy, drink this. You zoned out there.’

Jeff sipped the fiery liquid and managed to focus on Misha. ‘I’m okay.’ He lied.

The two detectives and Misha were talking, but he couldn’t take in anything they said. He wanted to go and find Jensen but he had no clue where to look and he had never felt so scared or hopeless in his life.

Pellegrino asked for Jensen’s cell and ran through the names listed. There weren’t many, just a few people Jensen had worked for, plus Misha, Samantha and Katie.

Misha suddenly stood up. ‘Christ, I think I know who it could be!’

‘Who?’ Pellegrino asked.

‘A guy called Tom Welling, he was a volunteer at the residential home but they made him leave due to his inappropriate behaviour. He was too touchy-feely with the residents. I think it was just after Jensen arrived there.’ Misha glanced at Jeff, who was reeling slightly from this latest news. ‘I don’t think he even met Jensen, but he kept hanging around the place, watching them all and in the end Sam got a restraining order to keep him away. He’s tall, longish dark hair, he fits the description.’

‘That’s great, thanks Misha.’ Pellegrino said. ‘You said a neighbour saw them leaving?’

Jeff nodded, still frowning from what Misha had said. Why would this Tom guy take Jensen? It made no sense. He couldn’t remember seeing anyone that fitted that description and Jensen had never mentioned anyone called Tom.

However, Pellegrino soon had a photo of Tom Welling on his tablet, sent over by a very concerned Sam from her personnel records. He left soon after to show the photo to Jeff’s neighbour and came back with a ‘maybe’. It was enough to put out an APB on Tom and Jeff breathed a sigh of relief. It turned out Tom Welling was not at home and his flat mates had no idea where he had gone, but he hadn’t been seen for several days and had not attended college where he was training to be a Physical Education teacher. He had recently been withdrawn and moody, but his flat mates had put this down to him breaking up with his girlfriend the week before.

 

Jeff spent an exhausting and frustrating evening sitting and pacing waiting for any more news. Vicky had to go home as her mom was babysitting for them, but Misha stayed with Jeff and listened to him moan and complain and berate himself for failing Jensen. Misha cooked an omelette and nagged Jeff until he ate some. Jeff fell asleep on the sofa, and woke up covered in a blanket at 2am. He knew he would get no more sleep that night and started researching Tom Welling on the internet, trying to see if he could find out anything that might help the police.

By 4 am he had found out that Tom was a well-liked and respected member of the local Baptist church, where he ran the church youth club and football team. Until his recent trouble at the home, there was absolutely nothing to suggest he was the type of person that would kidnap someone. Then Jeff found Tom’s Facebook page and the last entry freaked him. There had been no entries for several days then Tom had posted the lyrics of Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’. That could not be a good sign.

Jeff got up so fast he knocked the chair over and Misha came downstairs, looking tired and worried. He told Misha what he had found and Misha looked grim. He knew the police would probably have found the same info on Welling but he texted Sheppard anyway, not wanting to phone and disturb him. Jeff paced the living room and just wanted to punch something.

Misha persuaded him to join him for a run to use up his excess energy and they drove to the local park just as the sun came up and ran until Jeff called a halt and sank onto a bench, gasping.

‘I’m done.’ He panted. ‘Fuck I’m outta shape.’

‘You’re exhausted. You barely had any sleep.’

‘I can’t rest, Misha, I’m so fucking worried.’ Jeff’s fists clenched in anger. ‘After all he’s been through, this is just so unfair.’

‘I know, Jeff. C’mon let’s get back and I’ll ring the station for an update.’ Misha gripped Jeff’s shoulder and squeezed it sympathetically.

 

There was no news that day from the police. Or the next. Jeff had never run so many miles in his life, but he was like a man obsessed, he couldn’t sit still, he could barely sleep or eat. Running was the only thing that stopped him from either curling up into the foetal position and crying all day long or driving to Jared’s home and punching him, risking arrest himself. He was still so sure it was him, yet there was no evidence and he had an airtight alibi.

Days ran into a week. Jim came to stay with Jeff over the first weekend. He was a comforting, if slightly cantankerous, presence and Jeff was sorry to see him go on the Sunday evening. That night the house was too quiet, too big, and it felt oppressive without Jensen. Jeff went to his studio and looked down at the garden. He could see Jensen working hard, rubbing the sweat from his face with the bottom of his shirt, revealing a glimpse of his flat stomach; Jensen laughing and splashing about in the water from the sprinkler system, calling for Jeff to join him; Jensen looking up at the sky watching the birds fly overhead and wishing he could fly. And Jensen’s face as it lit up with the most beautiful smile Jeff had ever seen on the very first day they met, when he found out Jeff was going to buy the house.

He could hear Jensen so clearly too from that first day - ‘Yippee! That’s great. You’ll like it here, it’s real nice!’ Then another thing Jensen had said hit home ‘Are you gonna live here all by yourself Mr Morgan?’ Jensen had asked and Jeff had nodded. ‘Wow, it’s a big house for one man.’ It felt fucking huge right now, huge and as desolate as Jeff felt inside.

Jeff’s head was resting against the cold glass of the window and his face was wet with tears. ‘Where are you?’ He whispered. ‘Please, baby, please know I’m gonna get you back. I have to get you back. You know this house is too big for just one….’ Jeff sank to the floor and cried himself to sleep, waking up in the early hours of the morning stiff and cold.

 

Jeff was pleased to see Misha on his doorstep ready for a run at 8am and he was once again so grateful for Misha’s quiet, steadying presence. Each morning he arrived in his running gear and they set off, pounding the sidewalks. He would shower and change at Jeff’s before he left for work, then call in to check up on Jeff on his way home. On the Thursday of that week, Jeff’s cell rang as they were on the home stretch of their morning run and he stopped to answer it. It was Mark Pellegrino, he said they had some news and were on their way to Jeff’s to see him. He wouldn’t say anymore and Jeff ran back on legs that were heavy and trembling.

The detective’s car was already on the drive and they were climbing out. Both men looked grim as they approached them and Jeff felt like his knees were going to give way. ‘No…no…no.’ Jeff couldn’t stop the words coming out almost like a wail.

‘Calm down Jeff, it’s okay.’ Sheppard said. ‘It’s bad news, but not what you’re thinking.’

‘Then what? What’s happened?’ He yelled, desperate now.

‘Let’s go inside.’ Sheppard took his elbow gently but Jeff pulled away.

‘Tell me now, dammit!’

‘Okay.’ Pellegrino faced him. ‘We’ve found Tom Welling. I’m afraid he’s dead, we’re not sure if it was an accident or suicide but his body was found at the bottom of a ravine in a burnt out car. He had been dead for at least two weeks.’

‘Oh God.’ Jeff moaned, relieved and frustrated. ‘So we’re back to square one?’

‘I’m afraid so.’ Pellegrino frowned. ‘Shall we talk more inside?’

Jeff nodded and opened the front door. Misha went straight through to the kitchen to make coffee. They sat at the dining table and Jeff wanted to scream and shout and rage against the futility of it all. Instead he took a deep breath and looked at the two policemen.

‘So where do we go from here?’ He said wearily.

‘We’re going to get the local police to monitor Padalecki. It still fits that it would be him and although he has an alibi he could’ve paid someone else to abduct Jensen.’ Sheppard said. ‘Otherwise we have no leads. No one else would have the motive.’

‘Jeez.’ Jeff ran his hands through his hair. ‘If it’s not that bastard, he could be anywhere. With anyone.’

‘’We’re also going through CCTV footage to see if we can find the truck that the abductor used. If we can get the plates we may be able to track him down.’ Pellegrino added. ‘Don’t give up hope.’

Misha brought in the coffee and handed them each a mug.

‘I just keep picturing him trapped somewhere, held against his will, he’ll be so scared…’ Jeff’s voice broke and he wiped his eyes angrily. ‘Damn.’

‘Don’t worry, Jeff. Let it go, you’re angry and upset.’ Misha said gently.

‘I can’t…I can’t let go; I have to stay strong for Jensen.’ Jeff said. ‘He’ll need me when he gets home.’

‘Exactly. But you also need to take care of yourself.’ Misha pushed over a plate of cookies. ‘Like eating.’

‘Okay mom.’ Jeff managed a small smile. The coffee and the cookie actually made him feel a little better and he realised for the first time in days he actually felt hungry.

Sheppard asked Jeff to go over once again what Jensen had told him about his brother. Misha chipped in to describe how Jensen had reacted when Jared had turned up at the group home a few months ago. Jeff felt that it was a little pointless to cover the same ground again, yet he also knew there could be something, some little detail, that they had missed.

 

Another week of torment and frustration passed for Jeff, with no more news from the police. Jeff lost his temper and yelled at Sheppard on the phone, saying they had wasted time pursuing Welling and it had to be Jared. Sheppard said he was frustrated too, because the local police in Colorado didn’t seem to be taking it seriously and although they had searched the Padalecki home again, he doubted it had been as thorough as he would have liked.

That night he managed to fall asleep, exhausted from his long run and lack of sleep. He dreamed that Jensen was tied up in a dark room; he could see him clearly, he was crying and trying to get free. His green eyes were puffy and red from crying, there was a gag tied around his mouth and he looked dirty. Jeff shouted out to him ‘I’m gonna find you Jensen, don’t give up!’ and Jensen stopped sobbing for a moment and looked like he was listening to him. ‘Can you hear me?’ Jeff yelled, excited now. He kept talking to Jensen, telling him he loved him and he was going to save him, until Jensen stilled and his eyes closed in sleep.

Jeff woke up sweating, his heart racing. Was is possible? Could he have somehow communicated with Jensen? He had heard stories about people having such a strong bond that they could communicate telepathically. He sobbed as he thought about what he had seen and he hoped he had been able to comfort Jensen in some way. Jeff cried himself back into another restless sleep and got up at 3am. He showered and had coffee then started painting. He hadn’t picked up his brush since Jensen disappeared but now it was like he was possessed.

He painted Jensen as he had seen him, tied up and crying, laying on a dirty mattress on a cold concrete floor. It was a very dark, bleak, depressing image, but Jeff had to do it, had to get it out of his system. He was still working on it when his doorbell rang at 8am.

‘Jeff? How you doing today, buddy?’ It was Misha.

‘I’m okay, thanks, Mom.’ Jeff said, smiling. ‘I even managed to get a few hours of sleep.’

‘That’s great. I slept like a huge fat snoring baby. Vicky dug me in the ribs so many times I have bruises.’ Misha said. ‘Anyhow, I before we get going, we would like for you to come over for dinner later. Vicky’s trying out a new Moroccan recipe. Chicken tagine or something.’

‘Um…’ Jeff was almost about to say no when he thought of how kind and supportive Misha and his wife had been. ‘I’d love to. Thanks.’

Misha looked a little surprised, but smiled warmly. ‘That’s great. I’ll pick you up around 6.30?’

‘Sure.’ Jeff said. ‘And Misha, thanks. For everything.’

Jeff spent the whole day working on the painting, only stopping at 1pm for more coffee and some toast. At 5.30 he stopped and surveyed it. It looked so real and as he looked at the curve of Jensen’s shoulder, hunched over defensively, and the tears shining in his eyes and running down his beautiful face, Jeff crumpled to the floor and let himself cry again. ‘Oh Jensen, my darling, I wish I could see you, touch you. I miss you so much and I hate knowing that you’re suffering. I love you.’

Jeff forced himself upright and headed to the shower again. He dressed and checked himself in the mirror. His eyes looked heavy and red-rimmed and he sighed. Then he clearly saw Jensen standing behind him in the reflection, the gag around his mouth and his wrists bound, reaching out towards him, his green eyes huge and weeping.

‘Fuck!’ Jeff hissed as he spun around to an empty bathroom. ‘I’m going insane.’

 

Later that evening, after a few glasses of Californian Red, he confessed to Misha and Vicky about his dream and his vision. He expected them to laugh and tell him he was being stupid, but to his surprise they took him seriously.

‘When I was 7 months pregnant, I tripped over and broke my arm. I landed heavily on my stomach and an ambulance was called to take me to hospital to check the baby. Misha knew. Not the specifications, but you knew I was hurt, didn’t you honey?’ Vicky smiled fondly at her husband.

Misha nodded. ‘I was away at a conference and I suddenly had an image of Vicky’s face, twisted in pain, and I had to get out, I couldn’t concentrate. By the time I got outside to phone her, the hospital rang me.’

‘So you really think it’s possible? I’m not going crazy?’ Jeff said hopefully.

‘I think if you have a strong connection, you feel for each other. I think Jensen knows you’re hurting too and he’s trying to comfort you.’ Vicky said gently.

Jeff felt his eyes sting and he blinked his tears away. ‘I’m not hurting as much as he is. I just hope he can tell, that he knows…’ Jeff trailed off, unable to continue.

‘I’m sure he does.’ Misha refilled Jeff’s glass. ‘He knows how much you love him and that you’ll do anything to get him home.’

‘But that’s just it Misha, there’s nothing I can do! Except sit by the phone, hoping and praying and worrying!’ Jeff ran his hands through his hair in frustration. ‘I’m gonna go to Colorado. I’m gonna go to that son of a bitch and get him to tell me where he’s got him!’

Again, Jeff expected them to dissuade him and tell him he couldn’t go, but they nodded.

‘Okay. Then I’m coming with you.’ Misha said firmly.

‘No, I can’t ask you to do that.’ Jeff said.

‘You’re not asking. But you can’t go alone. You and Jared would end up killing each other and that won’t help Jensen.’ Misha insisted.

‘You still really think he’s got Jensen?’ Vicky asked Jeff.

‘I do. He wanted to take him and he said Jensen was his and always would be.’ Jeff sighed.

‘Mark would probably advise against it, but if I was in your shoes and Vicky had been snatched, I’d do the same.’ Misha said. ‘I need to clear it with my boss, but I’m owed leave so it won’t be a problem.’

‘Are you sure? What about you, Vicky?’ Jeff asked, feeling a twinge of something like hope at last.

‘It’s fine with me, Jeff. If it wasn’t for the baby I’d be coming too. You know we both care a lot about Jensen, and you.’ Vicky reached out and took Jeff’s hand in hers, squeezing it fondly.

‘I don’t know what I’d do without you two.’ Jeff smiled gratefully. ‘Thank you both.’

Vicky drove him home a little later and Jeff felt more positive now he had a plan. A risky, stupid, dangerous plan, but after so long feeling helpless and frustrated, it would be good to actually do something.

‘I’m coming Jensen, just hold on baby.’ Jeff vowed as he entered his empty house.

Chapter Text

The Padalecki’s house was on the edge of the ranch. It was large and looked well-kept. There was a child’s swing in the garden and bikes and toys littered the lawn. There was a pair of horses in the field next to the garden.

‘It all looks so normal.’ Jeff said quietly. ‘Perhaps I’m wrong.’

‘There’s nothing to lose by having a look around.’ Misha said. ‘And could be a lot to gain.’

Jeff nodded. His stomach was in a knot. They had watched the house for two days now, working out the best time to check it out. They had parked a couple of miles away and hiked to a small wooded area on the edge of the farm, watching through binoculars. Jeff had felt a surge of anger the first day when he saw Jared and his two little children playing with a black Labrador puppy that just had to be Dean in the front garden. The puppy was yelping in excitement and wagging his tail so hard it looked like it might snap off. The little girls squealed happily and Jared watched them, laughing. Jeff had been ready to run down there and confront Jared but Misha had grabbed him and calmed him down.

Jeff had then wanted to call the police, as he was sure that the fact Padalecki had Dean was proof he had Jensen too, but Misha had advised against doing so as they weren’t supposed to be here and the puppy could be coincidental. Jeff had to concede; if they got arrested they would be of no use to Jensen.

‘You realise we’ll be breaking and entering Mish? You could lose your job.’ Jeff told him but Misha just shrugged.

‘This place is miles from anywhere. Who will ever find out?’ Misha he had said with a smile.

Jeff had sighed. ‘It’s a big risk. But we have to do it. Let me go in first, then if anything goes wrong it will be on my head. I’ll phone you as soon as I’m in.’

They had argued the point for a while, then Misha had conceded. They worked out the best window to get in. Each morning Jared’s wife drove their daughters to nursery and Jared went with them, hobbling to the car on crutches with his left foot still in plaster. They were usually gone for an hour or so, and Mrs Padalecki returned without her husband so they guessed she dropped him off at work too. It would be long enough to get in and check the place over.

And so Jeff found himself breaking into the house 8am the next day, smashing a small pane in the kitchen window at the rear to open up the larger window and crawl through. The dog had gone with the Padalecki’s and there was no alarm. So far so good. He walked quickly around the downstairs rooms; all looked completely normal. Then he saw the door to the basement and it had a huge padlock on it.

‘Shit.’ He cursed and rang Misha. ‘All clear Mish, come round to the back door. I don’t suppose you got bolt cutters in your car? There’s a damned padlock on the basement door.’

‘No but I have a lever, we could jemmy the lock?’ Misha suggested.

Within moments of Misha joining him, Jeff had the padlock open and was tip-toeing down the stairs, followed by Misha.

It was a work shop; Jared seemed to be an amateur carpenter and a half-made doll’s crib was on the work bench. There was a gun cabinet on the wall.

‘That explains the padlock.’ Misha said grimly. Jeff grunted and scanned the area. Like the house, it was big. Apart from Jared’s workshop, there was a storage area with boxes and tins of paint. ‘It looks empty.’ Misha sighed. ‘No sign of life down here.’

‘Wait.’ Jeff said, scanning around again. ‘There should be more space…if it’s the same size as the house.’

‘True.’ Misha walked away from Jeff and peered at the far wall. ‘There’s a door here.’

Jeff’s heart seemed to have jumped up into the back of his throat. He felt sick and giddy and he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t breathe.

‘There’s a bolt here.’ Misha slid it back slowly. ‘Jeff, you okay? You’re awfully pale.’

Jeff nodded, taking a deep breath. Misha pushed the door open and they heard someone whimper in the darkness.

‘Jensen?’ Jeff’s voice was shaky. He couldn’t see into the long room. ‘Where’s the damned light?’

Misha fumbled around and the light flickered on. Jensen was laying on the floor, on the same dirty mattress Jeff had seen in his dream, with his hands and feet bound. He screwed his eyes up against the sudden brightness and started to beg.

‘Let me go please, Jared, please don’t touch me, don’t hurt me.’

Jeff strode across the room and knelt down. ‘Jensen, it’s me, it’s Jeff.’

Jensen blinked and looked at Jeff, his expression changed from fear to wonder. ‘I knew you’d come.’ He sobbed as Jeff pulled him into his arms. ‘I knew you’d find me.’

Misha sunk down onto his knees beside them. ‘We did it Jeff, we got him.’ His voice was shaky with emotion.

‘Let’s get you out of here.’ Jeff said gently, stroking Jensen’s dirty hair. He could barely believe he had Jensen back in his arms.

‘No! Don’t let me go!’ Jensen wailed and clung on even tighter.

‘Just give him a few minutes, Jeff. He’s in shock.’ Misha said. ‘And perhaps we should wait until the police get here.’

‘I guess you’re right. I can’t lift him and I doubt he’ll go to anyone else.’ Jeff sighed then whispered in Jensen’s ear. ‘It’s okay sweetheart, you’re safe now, I’ve got you.’

Misha rang the local police and then Mark Sheppard. Jeff was still cradling Jensen and whispering words of comfort to him. He clearly heard he words ‘fucking incompetent cretins’ and ‘I’m going to make the useless bastards sorry’ and Sheppard’s colourful language almost made him smile. Almost, but for Jensen’s sobs and trembling body. And then there was the awful smell; he doubted Jensen had washed since he was locked in the room. Sweat, blood, and other unpleasant odours filled Jeff’s nose and made him feel nauseous but he held on tightly to Jensen.

They were all startled by a woman’s voice calling out ‘Who’s there?’ Her voice grew shriller with fear. ‘Hey, I’ve got a gun!’

Misha headed cautiously up the stairs. ‘Hey, we’re down here. Don’t be alarmed. I’m a social worker.’ Again, in any other situation, Jeff would have found Misha’s statement amusing.

‘What?’ Jared’s wife said, confused. ‘What are you doing in my basement?’

Jeff could hear the voices at the top of the stairs and prayed that she didn’t really have a gun and if she did, she wouldn’t hurt Misha.

‘Look here are my credentials.’ Misha said calmly. ‘You can put the gun down. The police are on their way.’ Crap, Jeff thought, she does have a gun. Jensen whimpered as Jeff had momentarily stopped stroking him and whispering to him, but he calmed as Jeff stroked his back and murmured ‘It’s alright, baby.’

‘Why? You’re not after my kids are you?’ Jeff heard her ask anxiously.

‘No, no, it’s nothing to do with your children. But I need to ask you if you knew your husband has been holding his brother prisoner in your basement?’ Misha’s voice remained calm but Jeff guessed she still had the gun on him.

‘Don’t be stupid! There’s no one in the basement!’ She replied, incredulous. ‘And my husband doesn’t have a brother.’

‘Do you want come and sit down and let me explain?’ Misha asked kindly.

‘I want to see for myself.’ She said. ‘You go first. I’m keeping the gun in my hand, so no funny business.’

‘Okay. Just keep calm. I’m sure you don’t want anyone to get hurt.’ Misha said.

Jeff heard their footsteps and then saw Misha coming back into the room followed by a pretty, petite brunette. When she saw Jeff with Jensen still curled up on his lap, she gasped and shook her head.

‘No. No.’ she sobbed. ‘I don’t know who you are, what you’re doing here, but this…this isn’t…’

‘Mrs Padalecki, this here is Jensen, your brother-in-law. He’s been held here for 3 weeks by your husband. I’m sorry for the shock this must be for you.’ Jeff said, managing to keep his voice quiet and controlled, although he wanted to yell at her ‘How could you not know?’

‘Why? Why would he? He wouldn’t, he’s a good man, a good dad. He’s my husband!’ She was crying now, the gun hanging limply from her hand. ‘This has to be some mistake.’ She peered more closely at Jensen. ‘Is he okay?’

‘He’s been beaten and abused. He’s cold and probably hungry and dehydrated too.’ Misha said. ‘I’m afraid your husband will be in a lot of trouble over this.’

‘Oh God.’ She wiped her eyes. ‘I’m so sorry, I never knew, I had no idea. How could he?’

‘It’s not your fault. Come on; let’s go upstairs, I’ll make you a coffee.’ Misha took her by the elbow and guided her away. She turned back and looked at Jensen.

‘I’m so sorry, Jensen.’ She said sincerely. Jensen’s head lifted a little and Jeff guessed that he had looked up at her, but he was still in too much shock to respond. She gasped again on seeing Jensen’s swollen eyes and haunted face before following Misha back upstairs.

Jeff rocked Jensen and told him he loved him, that it would all be okay. He tried to prepare Jensen for when the police and paramedics arrived, but Jensen was terrified of being separated from Jeff.

‘I’ll be with you the whole time, Jensen, I promise. You need to go to the hospital and let the doctors check you over. I don’t want you to be ill.’ Jeff pulled back a little to look at Jensen. ‘So you have to do this for me, darling. Okay?’

Jensen nodded. ‘Just don’t leave me. Please Jeff.’

‘I promise I’ll be right by your side.’ Jeff kissed the top of his head. ‘Always and forever.’

Jensen actually smiled for the first time. ‘Always and forever. I like that.’

The brief period of calm came to an abrupt end as the paramedics and police descended the stairs and Jensen’s terror grew again. He cried and sobbed as he was gently removed from Jeff but he was too weak to fight and was soon being carried upstairs on a stretcher, Jeff holding his hand as soon as he was able to. Jeff left Misha to deal with the police and Jared’s wife while he went with Jensen in the ambulance to the local hospital.

Jensen looked like a scared little boy as he lay in the back of the ambulance, his green eyes wide and locked on to Jeff for reassurance. A blue blanket covered his long body but he was still trembling from either cold or shock or both.

‘Are you cold Jensen?’ Jeff asked in concern. Jensen nodded and the paramedic dug out another blanket.

‘We’ll soon be there Mr Ackles. We’ll get you all warm and comfortable once we’re there.’ He said kindly. ‘Can you answer a few questions?’ Jensen shook his head. ‘That’s okay. I’m sure Mr Morgan can fill in the gaps.’

So Jeff answered a series of questions about Jensen’s health and what had happened to him, as far as he knew. It was only a few minutes before they arrived at the ER and Jensen gripped Jeff’s hand tightly as they wheeled him through the busy area.

‘Don’t leave me.’ he begged.

‘I’m right here Jensen.’ Jeff promised.

‘I’m scared Jeff. They’ll send me away again.’ Jensen was shaking in fear and reacted badly to the doctors and nurses that soon started trying to examine him. ‘No! No! Jeff!’ He screamed and tried to get up from the bed.

‘For God’s sake, he’s terrified!’ Jeff yelled. ‘Can’t you see how scared he is?’

One of the doctors, a middle aged man with a kind, world-weary face nodded at Jeff. ‘Okay, everyone back up. Give him some space.’

‘Thank you!’ Jeff sighed gratefully and soothed Jensen who was now whimpering and sobbing, by stroking his sweaty hair and holding his hand.

‘I think we’ll give him a mild sedative. He’s been through the mill by the look of it and once he’s rested and less agitated we can examine him.’ The doctor moved closer to the bed. ‘Mr Ackles?’
Jensen closed his eyes and moaned quietly. ‘No….don’t….don’t touch me.’

‘It’s alright, no one will harm you.’ The doctor said gently. ‘I’m going to give you something to help you sleep, is that okay?’

Jensen’s eyes fluttered open and looked at Jeff. ‘Jeff?’

‘I’ll be right here, Jensen. Let the doctor help you. You need to rest, baby.’

‘Okay. M’real tired.’ Jensen’s eyes were already drooping and he barely flinched when the doctor injected him with a sedative.

Jeff was relieved when Jensen finally fell into a deep, drug-enhanced sleep. He took the opportunity to grab a coffee and a sandwich, leaving Misha to keep vigil by Jensen’s bed. Then he used the bathroom and washed his face, and when he looked at his reflection under the stark restroom light, he seemed to have aged 10 years in the last 3 weeks. He looked tired and haggard and there was more white hair sprinkled among the brown in his hair and his beard.

‘He’s alright. You got him.’ Jeff said out loud to his reflection. He wanted to scream and cry and shake his fist at God for letting this happen to Jensen, to let him suffer again, but he had to hold it together, he had to be strong. He added to his reflection, ‘You’re both gonna be fine. You’re both gonna get through this.’, then he gave himself a grim smile before turning to head out of the door.

Misha looked almost as exhausted as Jeff felt. ‘Hey. Still sleeping soundly. Just what he needs, poor soul.’ Misha said quietly, then he stifled a yawn.

‘Thanks Mish.’ Jeff said, patting his friends shoulder. ‘You can go now, get some rest. I’ll stay with him overnight.’

‘Are you sure? We could take shifts….’

‘No, I’m fine. I’ve had some food and I’ll nap here next to him. I need to be here when he wakes up. For my own sake as much as his Misha. God, I’ve missed him.’ Jeff whispered, as he stretched out his hand and stroked Jensen’s face tenderly.

‘You two are meant for each other.’ Misha said as he stood up. ‘Now, if you’re sure you’re okay, I’m gonna check into the motel down the road and phone Vicky, then sleep for several hours. Never faced down a gun-toting woman before, all the excitement has made me dog-tired!’

‘Oh God, Mish, I’d almost forgotten that? Are you sure you’re alright? I’ve been so wrapped up in Jen…’

‘Shush.’ Misha scolded softly. ‘I’m fine. I’m just glad we got him back Jeff. Genevieve’s a lovely person, she was just scared at finding complete strangers in her home.’

‘That’s her name?’ Jeff had only seen Jared’s wife for the few brief moments in the basement and then as they wheeled Jensen out to the ambulance. She had looked completely shocked, white-faced and crying, and Misha had been standing by her, holding her hand.

‘Yeah. Anyway, I’ll catch up with you later.’ Misha yawned again and stood up, stretching. ‘Try and get some rest.’

Jeff sat by Jensen’s side, holding his hand. Sleep overcame him and he leant back in the chair, grateful the nurse had found him a comfy armchair rather than the hard plastic visitor’s chairs. He dozed until the sound of voices and footsteps roused him. He blinked open his eyes and glanced around and was surprised to see Mark Sheppard at the doorway.

‘Jeff.’ He nodded. ‘How’s he doing?’

‘Not great, but he’ll be okay.’ Jeff released Jensen’s hand gently and joined the detective at the door. ‘You got news?’

‘Sure have.’ Sheppard glanced at Jensen. ‘Shall we go into the visitors lounge?’

‘No, I promised not to leave him.’ Jeff glanced back at Jensen. ‘We won’t disturb him if we keep our voices low.’

‘Okay, right. It appears that Mr Padalecki saw the police cars outside his home and tried to make a run for it.’ Sheppard explained. ‘But the police had already set up roadblocks and he was apprehended.’

‘Thank God.’ Jeff sighed, but something in the detective’s eyes made him worried. ‘What’s wrong?’

‘I’m afraid he’s dead, Jeff.’ Sheppard said grimly. ‘Might be hard for Jensen to take in. He was his brother after all, despite what he did to him.’

‘Damn. How?’ Jeff felt an odd mixture of relief that the sick son of a bitch was out of Jensen’s life for good and fear at what the news might do to Jensen. Then he thought of Genevieve and their daughters and guilt was added to the mix.

‘He had a gun, stupid fool. He was ranting about how Jensen was his, how he owned him.’ Sheppard looked grim. ‘You should know that he said he was training him to be obedient and once he’d broken him, he would have let him be part of the family.’

‘Broken him?’ Jeff whispered aghast.

‘He said you’d spoilt him, you’d made him think he was a regular person and that he had rights. I guess Padalecki wanted his obedient little brother back, so he could use him and abuse him.’ Sheppard grimaced in disgust.

‘God, he was fucking sick in the head.’ Jeff glanced at Jensen, checking he was still out of it.

‘Jeff, I’m telling you all this because you need to know what he did to Jensen.’ He said kindly. ‘He’s going to need your support to get through this.’

‘Jensen will have my support, whatever he needs. I’ve seen what that sick fuck did.’ Jeff sighed. ‘His back’s covered in open wounds from a whip or something and scars and bruises.’ The image made Jeff feel sick. ‘It’s my fault.’ He said dully.

‘No, don’t be stupid!’ Sheppard gripped his arm. ‘It’s no one’s fault except Padalecki’s.’

‘But if I’d never met Jensen, if I’d never….’ Jeff felt the room spin.

‘Come on, let’s take a seat.’ Sheppard guided him towards the visitor’s room.

‘No, I have to stay with him.’ Jeff pulled away and took a deep breath. ‘I’m okay. Come inside.’

‘I don’t want to disturb him.’ Sheppard whispered as he followed Jeff back into Jensen’s room.

‘It’ll be okay.’ Jeff sat down heavily in the armchair and indicated the plastic chair to the detective.

‘Right. I didn’t tell you this so that you could beat yourself up. It’s not your fault. But you need to know that Jensen resisted, he fought and tried to keep his dignity. You gave him that Jeff.’

‘Exactly. If he’d given in, his brother wouldn’t have hurt him so badly.’ Jeff blinked back angry, hot tears of guilt.

‘Bullshit.’ Sheppard hissed angrily. ‘He would have just found another reason to hurt Jensen. And Jensen would have become nothing more than his brothers plaything. You know that.’

‘I can’t…’ Jeff wiped his eyes, ashamed of the hot tears that threatened to spill. ‘I can’t stand the thought of him being abused and alone. I feel so guilty.’

‘Of course you do. And no doubt you’re playing the ‘if only’ game. If only you hadn’t left Jensen alone that day. If only you’d told the police about Padalecki’s threats. If only you had taken him with you.’ Sheppard shrugged. ‘We all do it.’

Jeff couldn’t help but give a small grin. ‘Yep. That’s about right.’

‘It’s perfectly normal Jeff but it’s not going to help you or Jensen. All you need to focus on now is getting him home and better.’

‘Oh God.’ Jeff sighed. ‘It’s not going to be easy.’

‘No, but he has you. And he’s young and strong. Give him time and lots of love.’ Sheppard stood up and patted Jeff’s shoulder.

‘Thanks.’ Jeff said sincerely. ‘For everything.’

Once the detective had left, Jeff stood up and stroked Jensen’s hair tenderly. He looked so young when he was sleeping, and so innocent. The bruises on his face stood out against the white hospital sheet and Jeff felt the tears he had kept in running down his face. ‘Oh Jensen, my darling, I’d give anything to swap places with you, to take your pain and suffering away.’ He whispered.

Jensen stirred a little in his sleep when Jeff moved his hand away, so he continued to stroke his hair and face. Jensen sighed peacefully and Jeff smiled, although he was still crying silently, the tears running into his beard and dripping onto the edge of the bed.

Jeff stood until his legs ached and then he resumed his position, sitting next to Jensen’s bed, dozing fitfully until morning came. The sound of the nurses changing shifts and starting their rounds woke him. He stretched his aching limbs and rubbed his face. It felt sore and dry from his tears.

‘Morning Mr Morgan.’ A young nurse appeared and checked the various machines Jensen was hooked up to. ‘Everything looks fine. But you look wrecked. Go and get some breakfast and have a wash, I’ll stay with Mr Ackles.’

‘No, I don’t want to leave him. I don’t want him to wake up alone.’ Jeff mumbled.

‘He’s not waking up anytime soon by the looks of it.’ She smiled reassuringly. ‘If he does wake up, I’ll let him know you’ll be back in ten minutes.’

Jeff looked at Jensen still lying in blissful slumber and sighed. ‘I could murder a coffee.’

‘Off you go then. You won’t be long.’ The nurse smiled again.

‘Thanks. I appreciate it. But if he wakes….’

‘I’ll let him know you’ll be right back.’

Jeff grinned and left the room, feeling guilty but also relived to be able to stretch his legs and use the restroom. He washed first then went to the small café to get himself a coffee and a croissant. He picked up a packet of gummi bears for Jensen, then put them down again. He’s a man not a child. Then he picked them up again. Don’t be stupid, lots of men like candy.

Jensen was still sleeping and Jeff thanked the nurse for staying. A few minutes after she had left and Jeff had started to eat his croissant, Jensen started to thrash around on the bed and mutter. ‘No…let me go…no…no!’ Jeff dropped the pastry and was at Jensen’s side instantly, holding his hand and telling him he was safe, it was over.

Jensen blinked open wide, red rimmed eyes and the look of fear was replaced by confusion. ‘Jeff?’

‘Yes, I’m here honey. You’re safe. You’re in hospital.’

‘Jeff.’ Jensen smiled sadly. ‘You stayed.’

‘I promised you I would.’ Jeff smiled back. ‘Do you want anything? A drink?’

Jensen nodded. ‘Thirsty.’ Jeff held up a cup of water and Jensen gulped it down. ‘Thanks.’

‘You’re welcome. How are you feeling?’

‘Like I’m floating.’ Jensen sighed. ‘Is this a dream Jeff? I’ve dreamed of you a lot and sometimes I thought you had come for me. It was so real.’

‘No it’s real, honey. You had some drugs to calm you down and help you sleep, so you’ll probably be feeling woozy for a while.’ He stroked Jensen’s hair. ‘I dreamed of you too, sweetheart.’

Jensen suddenly gripped Jeff’s arm, panic in his eyes. ‘Does…does he know? Where I am? Don’t let him find me Jeff!’

‘It’s alright Jensen. You’re safe. He’s never going to hurt you again. The police got him.’ Jeff said, hating the fear in Jensen’s eyes.

‘Good.’ Jensen sighed, relaxing again. He peered at Jeff. ‘You look dog-tired.’

‘I am.’ Jeff chuckled. ‘I haven’t been sleeping too well without my barnacle.’ Jeff recalled the first few nights they had slept together and the way Jensen wrapped himself around him, sticking to him like a barnacle. Jensen hadn’t known what that was and Jeff promised to take him to the coast one day to show him.

‘Missed you.’ Jensen yawned, stretching his long legs and arms. ‘Can we go home?’

‘As soon as the doctors have finished making you better, honey.’

‘You make me feel better Jeff.’ Jensen took his hand and squeezed it.

The nurse came back in and took Jensen’s blood pressure and temperature, then told them the doctor would be around in an hour. Despite her friendliness and care, Jensen had looked scared and anxious the whole time she was there and once she left he rolled over onto his side and started to cry.

‘Honey, what’s wrong?’ Jeff asked in concern.

‘I just want to go home with you!’ He sobbed. ‘They’ll keep me locked up. They’ll put me back in a home.’

‘No they won’t Jensen.’ Jeff said gently.

‘But I’m…I’m damaged goods now. You won’t want me.’ He whispered.

‘Oh boy, is that what he told you?’ Jeff said, heart ached at Jensen’s words and the implication behind them.

Jensen nodded. ‘The doc will know what he did, you’ll know and…and you won’t want me.’

‘Jensen, honey, I already know and it doesn’t matter.’ Jeff stroked his shaking shoulder. ‘I love you. You’re perfect and beautiful and nothing will ever change that.’

‘Not perfect. Damaged. Broken.’ Jensen sobbed.

‘Hey, come here.’ He sat on the bed and pulled Jensen into his arms, carefully to avoid damaging any of the lines and monitors hooked up to Jensen.

Jensen rested his head against Jeff’s shoulder and Jeff rocked him gently. ‘I know what he did, honey. I know he damaged you. I know he hit you and made you bleed. But you’re not broken. You stood up to him; you wouldn’t let him take you without a fight. You’re strong, honey, stronger than you realise, and we’ll get through this together.’

‘You really think so?’ Jensen’s voice was soft now and Jeff guessed he was sleepy again.

‘I know so.’ Jeff kissed the top of his head. Jensen sighed and then his deeper breathing let Jeff know he was sleeping. Jeff sat with him in his arms until the doctor appeared.

Jeff went to rouse Jensen and the doctor shook his head. ‘Leave him for a moment. I’ll need to examine him and it’s not going to be pleasant. Let him rest a while.’ The doctor sat in the chair. ‘I have a favour to ask you. Will you stay with him?’

‘Of course.’ Jeff hugged Jensen closer almost unconsciously. He wanted to protect him but he knew the doctor had to do his job. ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m here for him.’

‘I guessed so but I had to ask. Thanks.’ The doctor ran his hand over his hair. He was young and looked flustered. ‘I’m Matt Cohen, by the way. I wasn’t on duty when Mr Ackles came in.’

‘Pleased to meet you. I’m Jensen’s partner, Jeff Morgan.’

‘Right, let’s get this done. Then we can let Mr Ackles have a nice long shower and sleep.’

‘When do you think he can come home?’

‘Just as soon as his levels are up. He was severely dehydrated.’ Dr Cohen looked grim. ‘I hate these cases. Whether it’s a man or a woman. It’s all so unpleasant.’

‘Let’s get it over with, shall we?’ Jeff said kindly. ‘For all our sakes.’

‘Sure, sorry, didn’t mean to offload.’ Dr Cohen smiled wearily.

‘Jensen, honey, wake up. The doctor needs to examine you.’ Jeff shook him slightly.

Jensen opened his eyes slowly and clung onto Jeff. ‘No.’

‘It’s alright honey.’ Jeff crooned. ‘I’ll be right here.’

‘Mr Ackles, I know this is distressing but I have to examine you, just to make sure you don’t have any injuries that could cause long-term problems.’ Dr Cohen said gently.

‘I don’t….I can’t…’ Jensen shook his head.

‘Honey, it’s just me here and Dr Cohen. His name’s Matt. He’s real nice. No one else will see or know.’

Jensen sighed and nodded. Jeff helped him lie on the bed and removed the hospital gown he had worn since admission.

Jeff tried not to gasp in shock when he saw the livid marks on Jensen’s skin. Jared had hit him repeatedly, with a belt or a whip. There were also bruises from fists or feet around his stomach and ribs. His wrists and ankles were damaged from the ropes he had struggled against. He glanced at Dr Cohen and the young doctor looked almost as horrified and angry as he felt.

‘Mr Ackles does your stomach or chest hurt?’ The doctor asked.

‘When….when I touch it.’ Jensen whispered, blushing in embarrassment. ‘Doctor...Matt, please…please, call me Jensen.’

‘I think we’d best get an x-ray of your ribs. Just need to check there’s nothing broken.’ Dr Cohen ran his fingertips lightly over Jensen’s bruised stomach and noted when Jensen flinched. ‘Okay. We’ll give you some antibiotics in case of any infection. We’ve already taken blood. Now Jensen, do you think you can roll over onto your side and lift your knees?’

Jensen groaned and shook his head. ‘I can’t.’

‘I know it’s humiliating Jensen but believe me I’ve seen every inch of the human body thousands of times. It’s nothing to feel embarrassed about.’

Jensen closed his eyes. ‘Hurts.’ He mumbled.

‘Oh God.’ Jeff whispered, dreading what they would see. If Padalecki hadn’t been dead Jeff would have killed him. ‘I know it does honey but that’s why the doc needs to examine you. To make you better.’

Jensen rolled onto his side and moved his knees up so he was in a fetal position. Jeff didn’t know whether to look or not but he was behind Jensen anyway, stroking his back gently and had to know.

‘Jeez.’ Dr Cohen sighed. ‘You’ve been torn Mr Ackles, no wonder it hurts when you move.’

‘He…he used his fingers. I –I begged him not to.’ Jensen whispered. ‘And…and….sometimes a big plastic thing.’

‘Oh God.’ Jeff felt sick, but he swallowed his own feelings and glanced at Jensen’s exposed hole. It had obviously been bleeding for a while, dried blood was crusted over his cheeks and fresh blood oozed from where he had moved and stretched the fragile skin.

‘I’m going to clean it now, Jensen, and apply some ointment to heal it. The bad news is it will sting but the good news is that the wounds aren’t too deep and should heal up fine.’ The doctor said and pulled on examination gloves. ‘Okay, Jensen?’

Jensen nodded and Jeff reached over to take his hand, gripping it tightly. ‘I’m right here honey, it’s going to be okay. It will all be over soon.’

Jensen jerked and moaned as Dr Cohen cleaned his abused hole then smothered it with ointment. The young doctor looked pale but spoke calmly to Jensen. ‘Jensen, this is called a topical anaesthetic and it will numb the area and help ease the pain.’

Jeff murmured reassuring words to Jensen but wasn’t surprised to see tears running down his face and soaking the pillow.

The young doctor looked as nauseous as Jeff felt when he finished. He helped Jeff sit Jensen up and told them once Jensen felt up to it, he could have a shower.

Once he had left, Jeff held Jensen in his arms and continued to hold him long after Jensen had cried himself to sleep. Jensen woke up an hour later, looking confused and lost.

‘Jeff.’ He smiled when he saw Jeff. ‘You’re still here.’

‘Yep, I’m still here sweetheart. Not leaving you.’ Jeff smiled sadly back. ‘How are you feeling?’

‘Bit better….doesn’t hurt so bad now. But I’m real dirty Jeff.’ Jensen bit his bottom lip. ‘Will you….can you help me? Shower, I mean. I’m not sure if I can do it alone.’

‘Yes, of course.’ Jeff stroked Jensen’s hair. The nurses had cleaned him up as best they could but he was still a little grimy and no doubt would feel better physically and psychologically once he was clean.

Jeff wheeled Jensen into the shower cubicle and got undressed, then lifted Jensen up and helped him under the shower, holding him upright and letting the water soak both of their tired, grubby, aching bodies. Jensen shuddered as the water assaulted his tender flesh and Jeff stroked him soothingly.

‘Is it too hot honey?’ Jeff asked. ‘I can turn it down.’

Jensen shook his head. ‘No, feels good.’

Jeff took his time washing Jensen slowly, from his hair down to his feet. He avoided Jensen’s bottom, not wanting to wash away the ointment. Jensen was like a rag doll but he managed to keep upright with Jeff’s help. Jeff wrapped a large towel around Jensen and sat him back in the wheelchair while he quickly dried and dressed, then helped Jensen to do the same.

Jensen was exhausted by the time they got him back on the bed. ‘M’tired.’ He yawned. ‘Can you hold me Jeff? Stay with me?’

‘Sure honey.’ Jeff climbed into the bed. Now there were no wires or tubes it was easier to hold him. ‘I got you. Okay?’

‘‘S’good to feel clean.’ Jensen nodded. ‘S’good to be in your arms.’

They both fell asleep and were woken at supper time by the nurse. Jeff had chosen a light omelette for Jensen, knowing it would take time to build his appetite up and he was touched to see there was some for him too.

Jeff was pleased to see that Jensen looked a lot better after his shower and nap, and ate the omelette without complaint. He was subdued but he had more colour in his cheeks and the fear had left his eyes.

‘So, all being well you can come home tomorrow.’

‘Really?’ Jensen‘s expressive eyes grew larger and filled with tears. ‘I can go home with you?’

‘Sure honey. It’s your home too, you know that.’ Jeff smiled and sat back on the bed to take Jensen into his arms
.
‘I thought…’ Jensen rubbed his eyes. ‘I thought they’d send me away. Or that you wouldn’t…’

‘Shush.’ Jeff rocked him gently. ‘We’ve been through all this, Jensen. No one’s sending you anywhere you don’t want to go. And I sure hope you want to come home because I’ve missed you so much it hurts and I love you.’

‘I love you too Jeff.’ Jensen sobbed as he relaxed into Jeff’s arms.

Jeff held him until the younger man fell asleep, then gently moved away to make a few phone calls.

‘Jeff?’ A familiar voice whispered from the doorway. ‘Can I come in?’

Jeff turned to face his sister and promptly burst into very unmanly tears. ‘Joanie!’ He sobbed and she was there, holding him, hugging him and murmuring words of comfort to him, just as he had to Jensen. And he was so grateful that she was there, so pleased to have someone to hold him and comfort him. It had been the longest day of his life and he couldn’t believe it had only been that morning when he had found Jensen.

Once Jeff had stopped sobbing, he disentangled himself with an embarrassed smile. ‘Sorry.’

‘You owe me a new blouse, but otherwise don’t mention it.’ Joan grinned at him, then looked at Jensen with pity and concern. ‘Oh, Jeff.’ She said, her voice shaky now. ‘The poor thing. I can’t believe it.’

Just then Misha arrived. ‘Hey.’ He gave his usual shy smile from the doorway.

‘Did you call her?’ Jeff asked and Misha nodded. ‘Thank you so much.’

‘You’re welcome. Now let me sit with Jensen while you two catch up.’ Misha said. ‘You look awful, Jeff. Go and get some coffee.'

They thanked Misha again and got coffees from the canteen and sat outside the main hospital entrance. It was getting dark and the air was growing colder but Jeff needed to get some fresh air. He filled his sister in on all that had happened since they had found Jensen and she listened with growing horror. She was crying by the time Jeff finished and now it was his turn to hug her and tell her everything would be okay, although he knew it would be a long time before it was anywhere near okay.

‘I tell you something, Joanie.’ Jeff said once she had calmed down. ‘No one and nothing will ever take Jensen from me again.’

‘Amen to that, Jeff.’ She said as she reached out and squeezed his hand.

Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen

 

Jensen was allowed home the next day, with a course of antibiotics and instructions for Jeff to keep him well hydrated and to gradually increase how much Jensen ate, starting with plain, filling food.

Jensen was exhausted and fell asleep as soon as Jeff helped him settle down onto the sofa. He didn’t want to go to bed, as he wanted Jeff to be nearby. Jeff pulled an armchair up to the sofa and sat watching Jensen sleep for a while, overcome with relief and joy to have him back. Jeff’s eyes started to close and he was soon sleeping too, his arm stretched out and his hand resting on Jensen’s shoulder. The shrill ring of the telephone woke him and he cursed whoever was calling and himself for forgetting to turn the thing off.

Jensen sat up in shock, looking terrified and disorientated.

‘Jen, honey, it’s alright.’ Jeff moved swiftly over to join Jensen and take him in his arms.

‘No….no…’ Jensen shook his head and pulled away. ‘Don’t….don’t…’ His eyes were glassy and Jeff realised he wasn’t fully awake.

‘Jensen, hey, it’s me, you’re home.’ Jeff said gently.

‘M’dreaming….not home….want Jeff….’ Jensen had moved further away from Jeff and was almost hyperventilating in fear. ‘Jeff…want Jeff!’

In the background Jeff could hear his sister’s voice leaving an answerphone message, but his whole focus was on Jensen and trying to help him.
‘Jensen, honey, look at me.’ Jeff tried again and Jensen shook his head, eyes cast down, breathing too fast, and his body trembling. ‘You’re safe, you’re at home. I won’t let anyone hurt you. Jared isn’t here. It’s just me and you, sweetheart. I love you.’

Jensen raised his head and confused, frightened green eyes blinked nervously at him. ‘Jeff?’

‘Yes, it’s me. You’re at home. You’re safe with me.’ Jeff moved cautiously towards Jensen and this time when he pulled him into a hug, Jensen didn’t resist, but he was still obviously scared.

Jeff had a sudden idea. ‘Hey, baby, do you remember our song?’ Jensen nodded. ‘Want me to sing it for you? I know my voice isn’t wonderful….’ Jensen nodded again and Jeff took a deep breath. ‘The first time ever I saw your face….’ Jeff started to sing and Jensen sighed, burrowing himself into Jeff’s embrace. As Jeff sang Jensen relaxed and by the time Jeff finished he was sleeping peacefully again.

Jeff didn’t want to move, didn’t ever want to let go of Jensen, but he had to turn the phone volume down and listen to Joan’s message. Jensen whimpered as Jeff shifted and laid him down, but he didn’t wake up. Jeff turned the volume control on the house phone to zero and did the same with his cell. Then he listened to the message, Joan was just checking that they were both okay and if they needed anything. She was staying in a local motel as she understood that Jensen and Jeff needed to be alone. He rung her back and asked her to pick up some groceries and drop them over later that afternoon, then he went and put some cushions on the floor alongside the sofa and laid down, falling asleep on the floor holding Jensen’s hand in his.

Jeff was awoken by a hand on his shoulder and a quiet voice. ‘Jeff? Hey, Jeff.’

Jensen was smiling down at him and Jeff almost wept to see him smile. ‘Hey, sweetheart.’

‘I didn’t wanna disturb you but I need the bathroom. I’m sorry.’ Jensen said softly.

‘Don’t worry, I didn’t mean to sleep so long.’ Jeff stretched his aching muscles and glanced at his watch. ‘Jesus, it’s 4.30! You must be starving! And Joanie will be here soon she’ll tear me off a strip for not feeding you….’

Jensen giggled and it was music to Jeff’s ears. ‘Calm down, Jeffers. I am hungry enough to eat a dead horse with flies on, but you could hardly feed me while I was sleeping!’

Jeff helped Jensen up onto his feet. Jensen leaned into him for a moment with a sigh. ‘I love you.’

‘I love you too, Jensen. I’m so happy you’re home.’ Jeff kissed Jensen’s forehead tenderly, so pleased to have him back.

 

Jensen was demolishing his second bowl of chicken noodle soup and another chunk of bread when Joan arrived, her arms full of groceries and a huge bunch of flowers.

‘Joanie! It’s good to see you. I didn’t think I’d ever see you or Jeff again. Or anyone else. Or daylight. Are the flowers for me?’ Jensen picked them up and eyed them critically. ‘Almost as good as the one’s from our garden!’ He gave her a huge sunny smile and a bear hug, like he hadn't just been speaking about being locked up in a basement. They parted and Jeff could see tears in his sister’s eyes and he wasn’t sure if they were of joy or sorrow.

‘You’re looking better now you’re home.’ She told Jensen as he resumed his attack on the soup.

‘Feel better now I’m home too.’ Jensen said. ‘Want some soup?’

‘No thanks, I’ve eaten.’ Joanie smiled fondly at him. ‘I’m pleased to see Jeff is looking after you.’

Jensen chuckled. ‘He was asleep like a faithful dog on the floor right next to me when I woke up and….’ Jensen went pale and looked around the room. ‘Dean!’ He stood up and started calling for his dog, his face crumpling into tears when Dean didn’t appear.

‘Dean is okay, sweetheart. He’s being looked after. You can have him home real soon.’ Jeff said, holding him as Jensen sobbed.

‘Jar-Jared said….he said he would k-kill Dean if…if I didn’t go….go with him.’ Jensen sobbed and Jeff cursed Jared again.

‘The bastard!’ Joan gasped.

‘Dean is fine. Jared’s wife is looking after him. She’s really nice Jensen.’ Jeff explained gently.

‘I never….I didn’t meet her….oh!’ Jensen hesitated and pulled away from Jeff, frowning. ‘She was there, when you saved me, wasn’t she? She said she was sorry and when she cried her face went all red and black stuff ran down her face from her eyes.’ Jensen’s eyes widened. ‘She didn’t know!’

‘No, she didn’t know you were down there, Jensen.’ Jeff sighed. ‘It was quite a shock for her.’

‘Jared said he has kids, two little girls, I never saw them.’ Jensen hesitated for a moment. ‘Does...does that make me an uncle?’

‘Yes, it does. Perhaps when you feel up to it you could meet them?’ Jeff said, smiling at him.

But he knew it was the wrong thing to say, as Jensen started to cry again and shake his head. ‘No, not going back there, can’t….Jared will….he’ll find me….’

‘Jared can’t hurt you.’ Jeff soothed him, holding his hands tightly.

‘Is he in prison?’ Jensen asked, blinking away his tears.

‘Don’t worry about him. He can’t hurt you.’ Jeff tried to change the subject, moving away back to the table. ‘Come and finish your meal.’

‘No!’ Jensen grabbed Jeff’s arm and Jeff was shocked by his strength and the expression of anger on his face. ‘I need to know! Jeff, tell me where my brother is!’

Jeff opened his mouth like a goldfish, momentarily speechless, and Joan stepped in. ‘Jeff, he needs to know. You have to tell him.’

‘He doesn’t need to know yet, it’s too soon!’ Jeff answered her and Jensen gripped his arm tighter.

‘I’m right here Jeff and you need to tell me where Jared is!’ Jensen yelled, then looked taken aback by himself. ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to yell, just, please, just….’

‘Come and sit down.’ Jeff guided Jensen to the sofa. ‘Joanie will you get Jensen a glass of water?’ He kept his voice calm although his heart was racing. Shit, he had thought he had more time to work out what to say, to prepare Jensen, to let Jensen recover a little….

‘Jeff. Please tell me. He can’t just be in jail or you wouldn’t be freaking out.’ Jensen said and Jeff felt a jolt of pride that Jensen was so astute and knew him so well. ‘Can he….can he find me?’

‘No.’ Jeff sighed and took Jensen’s hands in his. ‘Jensen, sweetheart, I have something really bad to tell you.’ Jensen nodded and bit his bottom lip. Jensen’s hands were shaking but Jeff guessed his were too. ‘The police found Jared and tried to arrest him. He had a gun and wouldn’t surrender.’

Jensen’s eyes widened and grew bright with tears. ‘No….’

‘I’m so sorry, Jensen. The police had no choice, they had to stop him before he hurt anyone else. They, well, they shot him.’

Jensen’s bottom lip crumpled and he began to wail and rock himself. Jeff reached out for him but suddenly Jensen was on his feet running out of the room. Jeff was afraid he was heading out into the street but he went in the direction of the back door and Jeff found him at the far end of the garden kneeling on the grass, pulling up handfuls of it as he sobbed and shook.

Jeff had never seen such an outpouring of grief, even when his mom had passed Jensen hadn’t reacted like this. Jeff knelt down with him and tried to stop him but he shrugged him off and continued to pull at the grass. Joan was there, telling Jeff to let him be, he needed to do this. Jeff recalled seeing pictures of mourning women dressed in black, he couldn’t remember which country it was from, pulling at their hair and scratching at their faces in grief and Jeff was grateful that Jensen was only damaging the lawn and not himself.

Jeff knelt watching in despair as Jensen fell upon the grass and beat it with his fists, then curled into a ball and sobbed, distressed and hurting. Jeff instinctively knew this was the moment for him to intercede. He touched Jensen’s heaving shoulder gently and Jensen lurched up and into his arms, clinging onto him and sobbing until he was exhausted.

Jeff murmured platitudes but he knew all Jensen really needed was for him to be there. Joan watched, sobbing quietly herself, but Jeff couldn’t cry. He knew on some level Jensen had needed to do this, to scream and rage and let go. Jensen sniffled and pulled away after several minutes.

‘I-I loved him….hate him…..hated what he did.’ He whispered. ‘I can’t believe he’s…’

‘Shush, it’s okay sweetheart.’ Jeff stopped him before he started crying again. ‘Let’s go inside.’

‘Can we stay here?’ Jensen asked with a yawn. ‘M’so tired.’

Joan had already anticipated this and had gone back inside, returning with a blanket and pillows. She laid it on the ground and Jeff manoeuvred Jensen to lie down next to him, their arms entwined, Jensen’s head on his shoulder. Jeff whispered a thank you to his sister and she gave him a sad smile and returned to the house. Jeff lay looking up at the evening sky, watching clouds pass over head. It was still warm and bees buzzed around, making their last pollen collection of the day. Jensen snored softly and Jeff stroked his hair. He knew Jensen was strong, but wondered how much more pain and heartbreak he could stand. After an hour or so, Joan came out with another blanket to drape over them. It was almost dark now and getting cooler. Moths had replaced the bees.

‘Should we wake him, get him inside?’ Jeff whispered to his sister.

‘I would leave him be, let him rest, the poor soul. I’m sorry Jeff, I shouldn’t have forced you to tell him.’

Jeff chuckled quietly. ‘Jensen was pretty forceful himself! Don’t worry Joanie, as you both rightly said he needed to know. Hopefully the worse is over now.’

‘I hope so too, but he’s been badly hurt Jeff. Not just physically. I know you understand and he’s so lucky to have you.’ She sighed. ‘I just want you to give him time, give yourself time too, to get over the shock and the fear.’

‘I will. Thanks for being here Joanie. Don’t go back to the motel; please stay tonight?’

Joan agreed and popped back to the motel to collect her things. By the time she returned Jensen had woken long enough to move back to the house, have a glass of water and his antibiotics, and was sleeping soundly in their bed, his head in Jeff’s lap. Jeff was reluctant to leave Jensen so Joan made him a chicken and bacon sandwich and he it ate with Jensen softly snoring in his lap.

Joan stayed with Jensen while Jeff showered and changed for bed, then he kissed his big sister goodnight and slipped under the covers, drawing Jensen’s pliant body against his own. The smell of Jensen and the heat of his body made Jeff’s cock harden and Jeff sighed, wondering when (and if) Jensen would ever be ready to make love again.

Jeff slept soundly, exhaustion claiming him, and woke up with Jensen’s arms and legs wrapped around him, and he smiled with pure joy at having his barnacle home and in their bed, where he belonged. He stroked Jensen’s sweaty hair and Jensen murmured and snuggled closer into Jeff, his head heavy on Jeff’s shoulder. Jeff tried to dislodge Jensen and slide out of bed without waking him, but as he tried to untangle Jensen’s arms from around his chest and waist, Jensen gave a startled cry.

‘Hey, baby it’s okay.’ Jeff said softly.

‘Don’t…..don’t leave…’ Jensen whispered.

‘I’m just going to the bathroom, is that okay?’ Huge frightened green eyes blinked open and stared at him. Jensen swallowed and nodded, already moving away from Jeff. ‘Do you want a drink while I’m up? Coffee?’

Jensen bit his bottom lip and his eyes filled with tears. ‘Um, yeah, coffee…..please.’

‘You okay?’

‘Don’t wanna be alone.’ Jensen admitted, wiping his eyes and sighing. ‘Not for a god-damned minute. I’m sorry….’

‘You have nothing to apologise for, Jensen.’ Jeff had climbed out of bed but leaned down and kissed his forehead. ‘And you don’t have to be alone, not at all. Not until you get sick of the sight of me!’

‘That won’t ever happen, Jeff.’ Jensen said adamantly. ‘I never wanna leave you, never again, not for a second.’

Jeff knew this would not be a healthy option long-term, but also that Jensen needed reassurance and stability right now. ‘And you won’t have to. So I really gotta use the bathroom, you can come with me if you want….’ Jeff winked at Jensen and was relieved to see him smile.

‘No, I think I draw the line there. Just don’t be too long.’

Jensen was up and dressed in sweat pants and a baggy black t-shirt when Jeff returned. ‘Hey Jeff. I’m real hungry.’

‘Come on then, barnacle. Let’s make some breakfast, I think Joanie bought some pancakes….’

‘Pancakes!’ Jensen grinned and for a moment it was like the last few weeks had never happened. ‘And maple syrup? And crispy bacon….’

Jeff chuckled as they made their way to the kitchen and, as if she had read their thoughts, Joan was already there, just about to cook the bacon, the pancakes already on the table.

 

Jensen’s good mood continued through breakfast and Jeff hoped it would last, but knew Jensen was still in mourning for his brother and in shock at what had happened. The fall out came mid-morning when Jensen found one of Dean’s chew toys in the garden. He didn’t cry or make any sound, he just sat holding it for several minutes before Jeff noticed, then didn’t respond to Jeff’s voice.

‘Jensen?’ Jeff repeated. ‘Are you okay?’ Jensen just stared at the plastic frog he was gripping tightly, his hands in his lap. Jeff shook his shoulder gently and he glanced up at Jeff briefly. ‘Do you want me to arrange to get Dean back?’ Jeff waited but there was no response. ‘I’m sorry, Jensen, I should have made sure he was here when you got home. You must miss him.’

Jensen sighed and squeezed the frog tighter, making it squeak. Jensen startled and looked at Jeff in confusion. ‘S-sorry, did you say somethin’?’

‘I was only saying I’m sorry Dean wasn’t here when you came home.’ Jeff reached out and stroked Jensen’s hand. 'You miss him, don't you?'

Jensen’s chin wobbled and he nodded, his head bowed as he looked at the toy again. ‘But I….I don’t wan-want him.’ Jensen’s tears were running down his face and dripping off his chin. Jeff wanted to hug him, comfort him, but guessed he needed to talk.

‘Why don’t you want him, sweetheart?’ He prompted.

‘He was….he just….’ Jensen dropped the toy on the ground and rubbed his fade with his hands. ‘If I think about him, I….’ He took a deep breath. ‘This ain’t gonna make a lick of sense, but he….he makes me think of Jared. I think when I see him, I’ll always remember Jared grabbing him, squeezing his collar, makin’ him whimper. Sayin’ get in the truck Jenny or I’ll snap the mutt’s neck.’

‘Christ.’ Jeff muttered to himself. ‘I understand, Jensen. But you don’t have to make a decision yet. See how you feel in a few days.’ Jeff knelt down and put his forehead against Jensen’s. ‘I love you so much. I’m so sorry for all he did to you.’

Jensen sobbed and Jeff hugged him, then they sat side by side on the decking and watched the fluffy white clouds pass by overhead in a clear blue sky. Jensen sighed and reached out to grab Jeff’s hand.

‘I missed seeing the clouds. And the colour of the sky.’ Jensen said softly. ‘I missed pie, and the garden. I missed having a shower. I missed watching NCIS. But most of all I missed you, Jeffers, and it was just thinkin’ about you that kept me hoping. I knew you’d find me.’

‘I missed you too, so much.’ Jeff lifted his hand up and kissed it. Jensen smiled at him and although they were both misty eyed, they didn’t cry. Joan appeared with a tray of lemonade and cookies, and she stayed in the garden with Jensen while Jeff made some phone calls.

Jeff spoke to Misha, Stephen and Jim, giving them all an update on how Jensen was doing. Jeff thought he was doing pretty great considering all that had happened, and all three men seemed to agree. Misha was worried about Jared’s widow and his daughters; they would have to leave their home as it was tied to Jared’s job. Jeff still felt a little irrational anger towards Genevieve, unable to believe that she hadn’t known what her own husband was up to. Yet he was sorry for her too.

 

After lunch Jeff took Jensen out for a drive and decided to broach the subject of Genevieve. ‘Jensen, can I ask you something?’ He glanced over at Jensen who was gazing out of the window, humming along to the radio and looking pretty relaxed. ‘It’s about your sister-in-law and your nieces.’

Jensen sat up straighter and immediately looked tense. Jeff regretted opening his stupid mouth. But Jensen nodded. ‘Yeah….I kinda wanna ask you about them, too.’

‘Really?’ Jeff couldn’t help but smile. ‘That’s great. I was nervous about bringing them up. You want to go first?’

‘I guess. I was….I just wondered…..do you think I could meet my nieces? I ain’t got much family left…’ Jensen paused and bowed his head. ‘God-dammit!’

Jeff glanced over again and Jensen was crying. ‘Shit! I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have….’

‘No, s’okay.’ Jensen sniffed. ‘I can’t stop these stupid god-damned tears. I cried so much when-when I was there, I didn’t think I had any tears left.’

‘I’m gonna pull over. There’s a diner up ahead.’

‘No!’ Jensen’s voice was so loud, so panicked that Jeff almost lost control of the wheel in alarm.

‘Jensen….’ Jeff tried in vain to calm him down.

‘Can’t….see…people…..people will…..they’ll know…..’ Jensen sobbed.

Jeff pulled into the diner’s car park anyway, despite Jensen now wailing ‘Nooooo!’

Jeff parked up and pulled the shaking, weeping man into his arms. ‘Jensen, stop.’ He said firmly, afraid that Jensen was going to hyperventilate. ‘We are just parking. We are not going in. Okay?’

Jensen’s voice was muffled but Jeff heard the ‘Okay.’

Jeff sighed and stroked Jensen’s back. ‘Jensen, sweetheart, I’m never going to force you to do anything you’re not comfortable with. But people won’t know anything about you, sweetheart. Whatever he told you, whatever crap he spouted about you being dirty, broken, marked in some way, it’s all bullshit. All people will see when they look at you is a very handsome young man who needs to be fattened up a bit and get some sunshine on his skin.’

‘People won’t be able to tell? What-what I am? What I've done?’

Jeff pushed Jensen away slightly to look at him. ‘What you are? What do you mean?’

‘A whore, a cock-slut, a little bitch.’ Jensen whispered. ‘An’….and it’s true, ‘cause my dick got real hard an’ I came….I came Jeff, like a whore….I didn’t want….I wasn’t…..’

‘Fucking hell!’ Jeff punched the dashboard and Jensen flinched away. ‘No, honey, don’t, I’m not mad at you.’ Jeff pulled Jensen in close again. ‘You listen to me Jensen Dean Morgan. You are not a whore, or a cockslut, or a little bitch. Your body reacted in a natural way to being stimulated. You couldn’t help it. Don’t you remember Stephen told you all this before?’ Jensen nodded. ‘None of what happened was your fault Jensen. Do you understand?’ Jensen nodded again. ‘Jensen, tell me, do you understand?’

Jensen pushed himself upright to look at Jeff. His eyes were red from weeping and looked sorrowful, but Jeff saw hope in there too. ‘I understand Jeff. It wasn’t my fault. None of it was my fault.’

Jeff hugged Jensen tightly again and knew that it was going to be a long road to recovery for Jensen but that they could do it, together.

Chapter Text

‘So they never searched the house, never followed Jared?’ Jeff tried to keep his voice calm but he wanted to yell and punch something.

‘They accepted Mr Padalecki’s alibi.’ Mark Sheppard sighed. ‘I am so sorry. It seems he was a pillar of the community, church-goer, hard-working, beautiful wife, lovely kids. They just didn’t think he would do something so….’

‘Evil.’ Jeff said flatly.

‘Exactly.’ Mark looked over at Jensen, who was gripping Jeff’s hand tightly, taking in everything they had said but hadn’t yet spoken. ‘I am so sorry Jensen.’

‘It’s not your fault.’ Jensen whispered. ‘Only…only his.’

‘No!’ Jeff said too loudly, making Jensen flinch. ‘I’m sorry, honey, but I’m not sweeping this under the carpet. The local police were incompetent and if they’d done their job properly you would have been found a hell of a lot sooner!’

‘But you can’t change what happened, Jeff.’ Jensen looked exhausted, dark circles under his eyes and his eyes were bright with tears.

‘I know, I just…’ Jeff brought Jensen’s hand up to his lips and kissed his fingers. ‘I just think someone needs to pay for this.’

Jeff hadn’t wanted Jensen to attend the case conference that Misha had arranged but Jensen had insisted, telling Jeff to ‘quit treating me like I’m a retard’, which made Jeff equally proud and ashamed. So proud of Jensen’s progress and so ashamed that he still over-fussed Jensen. It was just two weeks since Jensen had been rescued and Jeff felt it was too soon. However the meeting was only with Misha and Mark Sheppard; Stephen had wanted to attend but had come down with stomach flu. Jensen was comfortable around Misha and Jeff knew Mark would handle things sensitively, so he reluctantly agreed to attend with Jensen.

Misha coughed and Jeff looked over at him; he had almost forgotten he was there, sitting almost as quietly as Jensen had been. ‘Can I ask something?’

Mark nodded. ‘Of course you can Misha. You called this meeting anyway!’

‘Thanks. We all need to learn from this so that what happened to Jensen never happens to anyone else.’ Misha said. ‘And I need to know if the local police checked Mr Padalecki’s medical records?’

‘Holy hell.’ Jeff whistled. ‘If they had they would’ve known his broken ankle was fake.’

‘You’re right to ask that Misha and I’m afraid they didn’t. They took him at his word.’ Mark said flatly.

‘As a pillar of their community.’ Misha said with a wry smile. ‘And I take it they neglected to take into account his previous assault on Jensen?’

‘They knew. Of course they did, because I told them. It’s why Padalecki was a suspect. I don’t know what to tell you. They fucked it up.’ Mark looked angry and guilty. ‘I should have checked….’

‘You did all you could.’ Jeff said. ‘It wasn’t in your jurisdiction, no one blames you. But I still don’t understand how his wife had no clue.’

‘His wife brought all his stories too. That he was going to hospital for a check-up when in fact he was abducting Jensen; that he was working on a new playhouse in the basement when…’ Mark hesitated, glancing at Jensen, who was staring down at the table. ‘Well, what I mean is he always had a reason to explain his absences and she’s a young mother with two small children, perhaps if she hadn’t been so busy and tired she would have been more aware.’

‘She hates herself.’ Misha said. Jeff felt Jensen’s hand tense in his and squeezed it. ‘She can’t believe it was happening under her own roof for so many weeks.’

‘Jeff….’ Jensen raised his head and he looked pale. ‘I need….I need some air.’

‘Sure, honey.’ Jeff stood and pulled Jensen to his feet, he swayed a little but took a deep breath.

‘M’sorry…I can’t…’ Jensen muttered as he headed to the door.

‘Don’t worry, Jensen, you’ve done really well.’ Misha told his retreating back.

‘Do you need us back here?’ Jeff asked Mark and he shook his head.

‘Go home, Jeff, Jensen looks done in. We’ll finish up.’ Mark said with a grim smile.

Jensen was leaning against the wall in the corridor as Jeff left the room to join him, breathing heavily. ‘Jeff…don’t…feel…’

Jeff caught him as his legs buckled and he called out for help. Misha and Mark were there in seconds, helping Jeff get Jensen outside and a chair was found for him to sit on. Jeff knelt down beside Jensen and encouraged him to keep taking deep breaths.

‘Should we get him to a hospital?’ Mark asked in concern.

‘No!’ Jensen wailed. ‘Wanna go home…’ Jeff glared at Mark, who mouthed ‘sorry!’ and looked sheepish.

‘It’s alright Jensen, we’ll get you in the car and home as soon as you can move.’ Misha said calmly.

‘Just keep breathing honey and you’ll be fine. It was a lot to take in, you did really well.’ Jeff added, holding Jensen’s hands.

Jensen regained some colour and his breathing evened out so Jeff knew he was feeling better. He helped him up and they said goodbye to Misha and Mark then drove home, Jensen falling asleep in the car almost as soon as the engine started.

 

They ordered Chinese takeaway that evening and watched NCIS, Jensen falling asleep again once he was full of Chicken Chow Mein and had watched almost two episodes, leaning against Jeff’s shoulder. Jeff woke him gently and they went up to bed. He thought Jensen would soon be snoring and was surprised when he spoke.

‘Jeff, I’ve been thinking…’ Jensen said, watching Jeff as he got undressed. ‘I’d like to meet Genevieve and the girls. And see Dean again, but not…not there.’ Jensen shuddered a little. ‘Is it okay if I invite them here? They could stay as it’s a long drive, we have enough space and it’s warm we could get a paddling pool for the garden and some toys and…’ He bit his lip as he ground to a halt.

‘That’s a fantastic idea and you don’t need to ask my permission, honey, this is your home too.’ Jeff smiled at him.

Jensen grinned and reached out his hands to Jeff, who took them in his and let Jensen pull him onto the bed. ‘You’re the best boyfriend ever. I love you, Jeffers.’ He leaned in to kiss Jeff and their lips met, soft and a little shy at first, then with more force, as Jensen laid back on the pillows and pulled Jeff with him, holding Jeff’s head in his hands.

Jensen’s lips parted and Jeff accepted the invitation to slip his tongue inside Jensen’s beautiful mouth, loving the little moan that Jensen made as he sucked on Jeff’s tongue. Jeff lowered his body down gently on top of Jensen’s not wanting to scare him, and was thrilled to feel the bulge of Jensen’s hard dick against his own. Over the past two weeks Jensen had needed a lot of physical contact, lots of hugs and cuddles, and would sit as close to Jeff as possible when they were at the dining table and on the sofa. They had kissed several times, but it was always brief and always led by Jeff. This was the first time that Jensen had instigated a kiss and the first time Jeff had known him to have a hard-on.

Jeff wanted to cry with happiness and relief, but he kept his focus on Jensen and followed his lead. Jensen’s hips rutted up against Jeff and Jeff circled his own, rubbing their dicks together. Jensen panted and moaned, Jeff pulled away from their kiss to let them both gasp in some air.

Jensen was crying silently, but smiling too and whispered ‘Want….want you to…touch me…’

‘I love you, sweetheart.’ Jeff slid off of Jensen and knelt by his side, wiping away his tears with his fingers and then kissing Jensen’s puffy lips gently. ‘I’m going to make you feel so good. Are you…?’

Before Jeff could add the word, Jensen said. ‘I’m sure, Jeff, I’m ready. I-I need this.’

‘Me too.’ Jeff chuckled and Jensen grinned at him, then ran his hand over the material trapping Jeff’s erect dick. Jeff groaned in pleasure and surprise.

‘I can see that.’ Jensen surprised him further by leaning over and kissing Jeff’s dick, then pulling his boxers down, releasing his dick which sprang to full attention. Jensen touched it gently, almost reverently, smiling up at Jeff.

‘Fuuuck!’ Jeff moaned. ‘Oh God!’ It had been so long since he’d had Jensen’s hands on him that he knew it wouldn’t take much more for him to come. ‘Jen, God, don’t…’ Jensen frowned and looked hurt. He moved his hand away and Jeff picked it up and kissed it. ‘Sorry….I just don’t wanna come yet…’ Jensen grinned again and wriggled his hips invitingly.

‘That’s good, ‘cause I do!’ Jensen giggled and Jeff huffed out a laugh.

‘Oh honey, you’re so fucking gorgeous.’ Jeff kissed a trail down Jensen’s body, both of them in too much of a hurry to draw it out. He stopped when he got to Jensen’s dick, which was almost poking out of his boxers. ‘Jensen?’ He just needed conformation that Jensen was still okay with this.

‘P-please!’ Jensen whined and he groaned as Jeff pushed his boxers down and ran his fingertips over Jensen’s beautiful pink dick. ‘Oh God!’ Jensen gasped as Jeff’s hand slid around his dick and stroked it gently. ‘More!’

Jeff caressed Jensen’s balls with his free hand then bent over and sucked Jensen’s right nipple. Jensen’s body went rigid and his hips jerked, he let out a moan that could have been ‘Oh God’ but he was almost beyond speech. Jeff released his nipple and smiled down at him. Jensen’s face was flushed red and his mouth was open, gaspng. Tears ran down his face but Jeff knew they were tears of joy, not sorrow. His eyes were closed but he blinked them open to look up at Jeff with a smile.

‘I love you so much, Jensen.’ Jeff said.

‘Love-love you too.’ Jensen panted then let out a squeal as Jeff licked the sensitive tip of his dick.

Jeff stroked Jensen’s dick and balls as he suckled on his dick and Jeff hadn’t even got Jensen very far inside his mouth when Jensen’s body arched and he cried out, spurting over Jeff’s lips and chin.

Jeff almost came too as Jensen’s come ran down into his beard and trickled down his neck. Jensen was panting and his body was trembling in the aftershocks. Jeff laid down and pulled Jensen into his arms. Jensen was sobbing now and Jeff rocked him, stroking his back.

‘It’s okay baby, it’s okay.’ Jeff smiled but was sobbing too; relief and joy combined. ‘We’re gonna be okay. We’re gonna be just fine.’

Jensen stayed in Jeff’s arms for a few minutes, then rolled off, winking at Jeff, ‘Your turn.’

Jeff groaned as Jensen’s nimble fingers ran over his dick and when Jensen started to stroke his balls too he came with a groan and watched in amazement as Jensen licked Jeff’s come from his own hands with a contented sigh.

‘Fuck, Jensen, you….you’re so beautiful.’ Jeff whispered as he watched him.

Jensen blushed as he seemed to realise what he was doing and that Jeff was gazing at him.

He giggled and laid down on Jeff’s chest, his head resting on Jeff’s shoulder. ‘So are you; you taste good too. Like chicken!’

‘I do not taste like chicken!’ Jeff chuckled, trying and failing to sound indignant.

‘I love chicken, it’s a compliment.’ Jensen said with a stifled yawn. ‘An’ I love you.’

‘I love you too, sweetheart.’ Jeff kissed his forehead and they lay for a while relaxing, until Jeff needed to use the bathroom. ‘Do you want to go first? Jensen?’ Jeff smiled when there was no response apart from a gentle snore. He climbed out of bed carefully and when he returned Jensen was curled into a ball hugging a pillow to his chest. Jeff spooned behind him and held Jensen in his arms and fell asleep with a happy smile.

 

The following Saturday found Jensen pacing nervously up and down the patio, every so often shooting off to pull up a weed or de-head a dead flower.

‘Jensen, relax, the garden looks perfect.’ Jeff said again. ‘They’ll love it.’ He reached out and grabbed Jensen’s writs and pulled him onto his lap. ‘And they’ll love you.’

‘I feel funny inside Jeff, like I got a hundred butterflies in my stomach.’

‘It’s because you’re nervous and excited. Why don’t we go and get the drinks and sandwiches ready, they’ll be here soon.’

Jensen jumped up, pleased to have something to do. ‘And the pie. Kids like pie.’

‘Not just kids, eh?’ Jeff grinned at him. ‘Bit we should leave the pie until later, or the ice cream will melt.’

‘As long as we don’t forget it.’

‘When have you ever forgotten pie?’ Jeff chuckled.

 

Misha and his family arrived first; Jeff had decided to ask Misha as he had spent more time with Genevieve than they had and had got to know her quite well, even taking Vicky up to visit her.

‘Mish! Vicky! I’m sure pleased you came!’ Jensen hugged them both. ‘I’m kinda nervous. We got sandwiches, chicken and mayo, ham and ‘slaw, tuna and sweetcorn and salad too and apple pie from the deli, with ice cream and….’ Jensen stopped and chuckled. ‘Sorry, I’ll let you get a word in sideways.’

‘Hey Jensen!’ Misha grinned at him. ‘You don’t need to be worried.’

‘Gen is lovely, Jensen, you’ll like her.’ Vicky added.

‘Where’s your little one?’ Jeff asked.

‘He has a runny nose and the grumps, I think he’s teething. My mom has him.’ Vicky explained.

Just then the doorbell rang and Jeff went to answer it. Genevieve looked more nervous than Jensen, if that was possible, and gave Jeff a tight smile as he shook her hand. A little dark-haired girl stood beside her, holding her hand and a fair haired baby girl slept peacefully in a car seat Gen had put down on the door step.

‘Hi, Mrs Padalecki.’ Jeff said as warmly as he could. ‘Thanks for coming.’

‘Hey, Mr Morgan. Pleased to meet you.’ Gen said, then blushed. ‘Again, I mean…’ Just then the little girl stepped forward.

‘Mommy I need pee-pee!’ She announced.

Gen blushed again but laughed. ‘Sorry, it’s been a long drive.’

Jeff smiled too, pleased that the awkward moment had been interrupted, and ushered them in. ‘Of course, come on in, the bathroom is second on the left. Once you’ve freshened up I’ll introduce you to Jensen.’

Jeff waited outside the bathroom, feeling a knot of anxiety himself now. How would Jensen cope with meeting his brother’s little family? How would Gen cope with seeing the man her husband had kidnapped and abused? Jeff was so grateful that Misha and Vicky had come along too, they would be a great support and Jeff was thankful for their friendship.

Jensen appeared, frowning. ‘Was it them?’ He asked. ‘The doorbell, I mean, where are they?’

‘They’re in the bathroom. It was a long drive and the little girl needed a pee pee!’ Jeff grinned. Jensen smiled back, but looked anxious still and glanced from Jeff to the door. ‘It’s going to be fine, honey. You go on back to the garden, I’ll bring then through once they’re ready.’ Jeff reached out and squeezed Jensen’s shoulder. ‘Okay?’

Jensen nodded and went back outside. Jeff sighed and took a deep breath. The bathroom door opened and Gen was holding the baby in her arms. She was wide awake now, smiling happily and her eyes were exactly the same colour as Jensen’s.

‘Hey, pretty green eyes.’ Jeff cooed and held out his finger. She grabbed it and held on tight, her pudgy fingers wrapped around his.

‘This is Lily.’ Gen said. ‘And this is her big sister, Daisy.’ The little girl stepped forward and stared up at Jeff.

‘You got a beard. Like my grandpa.’ She said, her hazel eyes looking at him, so much like Jared’s.

‘Yes, I do.’ Jeff chuckled. ‘And you have beautiful hair. Like your momma’s. Now, let’s take you to meet your Uncle Jensen and get some food, shall we?’ Jeff removed his hand from baby Lily’s and was surprised when Daisy grabbed his free hand.

‘Me likes cake.’ She said, swinging from his hand.

Gen grinned sheepishly. ‘Daisy is a big cake lover. But she knows she can only have cake after her meal. Right sweetpea?’

‘Yes, mommy.’ Daisy said with a little sigh.

Jensen stood up as soon as he saw them come through the doorway to the patio.

‘Oh my God.’ He whispered, his face going pale. He blinked away tears and Jeff could see him attempt to smile, his eyes fixed on Daisy. ‘Um, sorry. You…she….Jared…’

‘Jensen, these are your nieces, Daisy and Lily. And this is their mommy, Gen.’ Jeff said, giving Jensen a moment.

‘I’m pleased to meet y’all.’ Jensen had regained his composure and his innate good manners. ‘I hope you had a good drive and you’re not too tired. We have all kinds of sandwiches for you - chicken and mayo, ham and ‘slaw, tuna and sweetcorn and salad too and apple pie…’

‘Me likes apple pie.’ Daisy told him, letting go of Jeff to move closer to Jensen. ‘An’ ice cream.’

‘That’s great ‘cause we have ice cream too.’ Jensen smiled down at her. ‘Hello Daisy. I’m your Uncle Jensen. You have a real pretty name. I have flowers called daisies in the garden, do you want to see them?’

‘Yes pease.’ She held her hand up and Jensen looked confused for a moment then took her tiny hand in his large one and led her off to the flowerbeds.

‘So far so good.’ Jeff said with a sigh. ‘She’s a cute kid, Mrs Padalecki.’

‘Please call me Gen.’ She shifted Lily in her arms.

‘Please, sit down, Gen.’ Jeff pulled out a chair for her. ‘You already know Misha and Vicky, don’t you?’

They all said their hello’s then Gen left Lily with Vicky while she went to get Dean from the car. The puppy raced through the house and made a bee-line for Jensen, like he knew instinctively where his master would be. Jensen’s face broke into a huge smile when he saw Dean and within seconds he was on the grass, Dean licking his face and Daisy squealing in delight.

Jeff left his guests to chat while he went inside to get the food. He leaned against the kitchen table for a moment. Poor Jensen; Daisy was so much like her father it must have been a shock to him, yet he handled it well. She had the same multi-coloured eyes, the same slightly turned up nose and the same dimples when she smiled. The only difference was that her curly hair was much darker, the same colour as her mothers. Jeff was pleased Dean was there too to take Jensen’s mind off the fact that his little niece was so much like his brother, his tormentor.

Jeff carried out the tray of sandwiches and Vicky insisted on helping him bring out the salad and drinks. As they came back out, Jensen was showing Daisy around the garden, pointing out flowers and they both giggled as Dean chased a bird out from the bushes, startling them.

‘I think he’s a natural with kids.’ Vicky said as they stopped by the door, watching. ‘He’s going to be a great Uncle. You too.’

‘I hope it works out Vicky. These three are all he has left of his family.’ Jeff said as he watched Jensen with his niece. ‘And he doesn’t even know them.’

Just then Jensen lifted Daisy up in his arms and spun her around, both of them giggling, as dean ran around Jensen’s legs yelping and wagging his tail.

‘I have a feeling it’s going to work out just fine.’ Vicky smiled at him.

 

Over lunch Daisy and Jensen bonded further, as they both sneaked pieces of chicken to Dean, and then over their mutual love of apple pie. When they finished eating, Jensen held Lily on his lap, awkwardly holding her bottle while she had her milk, and he looked so proud when she fell asleep in his arms that Jeff had a lump in his throat.

‘It’s time for your nap too, Daisy.’ Gen said, ruffling her daughter’s curls.

‘You come with me mommy!’ Daisy whined.

‘You can use the sofas in the lounge.’ Jeff said, then had an idea. ‘Jensen, why don’t you take Lily through and show Gen the way.’ He had noticed that Jensen and Gen had barely exchanged a word and that there was an awkwardness between them.

‘Um, yeah, sure.’ Jensen stood up, holding Lily carefully and tenderly. ‘Um, this way, Gen. And you Daisy-ray.’

‘Daisy-ray?’ Gen asked with a smile.

‘Uncle Jenjen says me a ray of sunshine.’ Daisy informed her solemnly.

‘He’s right there. I like it.’ Gen said, smiling at Jensen, who blushed and smiled back.

 

When they emerged half an hour later without the children, they were chatting like old friends. Dean roused himself from his nap to nuzzle up against Jensen’s legs and sat on his master’s feet once Jensen was seated.

‘Daisy wanted me to tell her a story.’ Jensen said proudly. ‘The only one I could remember was Sleeping Beauty, my momma used to read me that at bedtime when I was real small.’

‘Daisy insisted that the Prince was called Jenjen.’ Gen said with a fond smile at him.

‘I think you’ve hit it off there.’ Misha said, grinning. ‘How’s it feel to be an Uncle?’

‘Amazing. Special. Makes me feel warm inside.’ Jensen said wistfully. ‘I just wish that my momma could see them.’

‘I think she can, Jensen.’ Gen said. ‘I’m sure she’s looking down on them from heaven.’

‘And….and Jared?’ Jensen bit his bottom lip. ‘I….I hope he’s with her. She’ll be lonely without him. And…I know….I know he did bad things…’ Jensen wiped his eyes.

Jeff went to stand up, to comfort him, but Misha grabbed his arm and shook his head.

‘He…he did bad things to…to me….but he should be in…in heaven, with momma.’ Jensen finished and to Jeff’s surprise Gen moved to kneel down in front of him and took his face in her delicate hands.

‘You’re amazing Jensen, not many people would be so forgiving. You are a beautiful person, and I am so proud that you are my babies Uncle.’ Gen said, tears coming to her eyes now. Jensen smiled at her and then leaned his head against hers and they held each other for a few minutes.

Vicky and Misha tactfully left them alone and walked over the seat by the pond that Jensen had made. Jeff wasn’t sure whether to stay or go when Jensen looked up.

‘Hey, Jeff.’ He smiled through his tears. ‘I ain’t got a brother no more but I think, well, I hope, I got a sister.’

‘I hope so too, sweetheart. What about you, Gen?’ Jeff grinned at them both.

‘Oh yes, I’ll be your sister, Jensen! I would be honoured. I was so worried you would hate me.’ Gen said as she got back up into a chair.

‘I could never hate you, Gen. You didn’t know. Wasn’t your fault.’ Jensen smiled at her and then turned back to Jeff. ‘I’ve been real worried too, haven’t I Jeff?’

Jeff nodded ‘You’ve been very concerned, but I told you it would be alright, didn’t I?’

Jensen looked again at Gen ‘Yeah, but I was worried that you wouldn’t like me. That you might blame me for Jared…for what happened to him.’

‘No, Jensen, I don’t blame you for anything.’ Gen said sincerely. ‘Jared brought it on himself.’

 

They brought out a small paddling pool and filled it up for when the children woke from their nap. Dean thought it was a great game to try to catch the water as it spurted out of the hose and eventually Jensen had to put him on his leash and sit down with him, as his sharp claws were in danger of puncturing the vinyl. He whined and fussed, but Jensen petted him and he went to sleep.

The girls both loved splashing around in the water, especially when Uncle Jenjen climbed in alongside them, still fully dressed.

‘You’s funny Uncle Jenjen!’ Daisy giggled as Lily climbed into Jensen’s lap. Dean cried so much that Misha let him off the leash and he joined them in the water, Jensen laughing as the puppy splashed them, his arm protectively shielding Lily from Dean’s wagging tail.

Jeff watched Jensen and knew he had never seen Jensen look happier. And Jeff knew he had never loved him more than he did at this moment.

Chapter Text

Jeff woke to the sound of Jensen clattering around in the kitchen and singing quietly. It was Sunday afternoon and Jeff had fallen asleep watching an old film on the television. It was raining and they had been out for lunch at a local diner. Jensen was in good spirits, as he had been in the two weeks since Genevieve and his nieces had visited. He was still having counselling with Stephen and Jeff was so proud of how well he was coping. Jensen was excited that the little family would be moving closer shortly after the wedding and Jensen could see his nieces more often and be their Uncle Jenjen.

‘Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer, not a trace of doubt in my mind….’ Jeff grinned as he listened to Jensen. ‘I’m a believer yeah, yeah, yeah…’ There was a loud crash followed by ‘dammit!’

Jensen walked through to the lounge looking sheepish. ‘Sorry did I wake you? Dropped a damned saucepan,’

‘Nah, I was enjoying your performance,’ Jeff sat up and smiled, holding out his hand to Jensen. ‘Come here, sweetheart,’

Jensen smiled back and walked almost shyly to the sofa, sitting himself gently onto Jeff’s lap and encircling his neck with his arms. ‘I had to sing to cover up your snoring,’ He said seriously, then his face lit up with a grin and he kissed Jeff.

Jeff pushed him off playfully. ‘I don’t snore!’

‘How would you know?’ Jensen shifted so that he was facing Jeff. ‘I mean, I don’t know if I do.’

‘You just make the cutest little snuffling noises,’ Jeff leaned forward and kissed Jensen’s neck. ‘And you sigh,’ another kiss. ‘And sometimes you kick your legs out,’ one more kiss and Jensen shuddered and moved his hips against Jeff. ‘And you look so beautiful, even when you drool,’

Jensen giggled and leaned in to peck Jeff on the lips. He gazed into Jeff’s eyes with a small frown

‘Jeff, I – I want more,’ Jensen blushed, still hesitant when it came to initiating sex. ‘But it’s the middle of the day,’

‘It doesn’t really matter what time it is, baby.’ Jeff smiled and ran his hand over Jensen’s hardening cock.

‘But-but it’s Sunday,’ Jensen gasped, his eyes closing. ‘S’wrong.’

‘It’s not wrong, we’re consenting adults. And I love you,’ Jeff continued to caress Jensen as he pulled him in for a long, lingering kiss.
They parted, both panting, Jensen’s eyes wide and bright, his face flushed and his lips red from the friction of Jeff’s beard. He was simply breath-taking.

‘Jeff, please, I need,’ Jensen ran his hands down Jeff’s chest and started to unbuckle his belt.

‘Sure, baby. I know, I do too,’ Jeff said, as they both fumbled and undressed each other.

‘W-want you, want to make you…’ Jensen gazed into his eyes and Jeff could see his lust, his desire and his determination. He pushed himself off of Jeff and knelt between his legs. He stroked Jeff’s dick slowly.

‘Jensen, sweetheart, are you sure?’ Jeff whispered, afraid to spook Jensen. Over the past few weeks Jensen had given him hand jobs and licked Jeff’s dick but never gone any further.

‘Yep.’ Jensen was staring at Jeff’s cock like it was a separate living thing. He leant forward and licked the tip as Jeff groaned. Jensen looked up at Jeff and smiled.

Jeff had never felt anything as wonderful as Jensen’s hands on his cock and balls, then his lips and tongue taking over, tentatively at first, and then with more confidence as Jeff urged him on with a litany of groans and garbled words. ‘That’s it, oh baby, yeah, more, there, yeah.’

Jensen took the head of Jeff’s dick inside his mouth, guiding it in with his hands, moving so that he could take Jeff in deeper. Jeff thrust gently into the warmth of Jensen’s mouth and when Jensen started to stoke his balls he knew it wouldn’t be long before he came. Jensen sucked and hummed and grabbed hold of Jeff’s hip with one hand as he fondled his balls with the other.

‘Jen…God…gonna…’ Jeff groaned and to his surprise Jensen didn’t move back, he carried on sucking and then swallowing as Jeff came.
Jensen was crying when he pulled away from Jeff and he wasn’t sure if it was lack of air or emotion.

‘You okay?’ Jeff managed to collect enough brain cells to ask.

Jensen nodded and collapsed against Jeff, sobbing and wrapping his arms around Jeff.Jeff let him cry; he felt like crying too but had to keep strong for Jensen. It was a huge step he had just made, a huge moment in their relationship. Jeff was so touched by the love and trust Jensen had just shown him that he couldn’t stop his tears.

Jeff was aware of a smell of burning, but thought it was a neighbour having a bonfire, when suddenly the smoke alarm started to screech.

‘Shit!’ Jeff muttered and pulled Jensen upright and through his tears Jensen started to laugh.

‘I forgot the cake!’ He chuckled and stood up, starting to head to the kitchen forgetting that his jeans were pooled around his knees. He did a couple of waddling steps before falling onto his knees.

‘Jensen!’ Jeff stood up and pulled his own jeans back up before helping Jensen to his feet. ‘Did you hurt yourself?’ He yelled over the insistent beeping of the alarm.

‘Nah, I’m good.’ Jensen made it to the kitchen and pulled out of the oven a very cremated fruit cake.

Jeff opened the window wider and turned off the smoke alarm.

‘Dammit.’ Jensen sighed. ‘Wanted to surprise you,’

‘You made my favourite!’ Jeff grinned, touched by the gesture. ‘How did you…’

‘Genevieve taught me,’ Jensen said proudly. ‘When she stayed here and you had to go to that meeting. I said you liked cake and I wished I could cook and she said it was real easy, just lots of stirring it all and that would be no problem, as I have strong arms an’ we made a cake but we said she made it ‘cause I wanted to surprise you, and now I’ve ruined it,’ Jensen looked in dismay at the blackened cake.

‘No, it’s a wonderful surprise,’ Jeff said sincerely. ‘Once it cools we’ll slice the top off, it should be okay underneath,’

‘Really?’ Jensen’s face brightened.

‘Sure.’ Jeff pulled him in to hug him. ‘Thank you, my darling. You are the sweetest, most thoughtful fiancé ever,’

‘Fiancé, hmm, I like that word,’ Jensen sighed happily, ‘but I like husband even more,’

‘Now long now.’ Jeff murmured into Jensen’s ear. ‘Until you become Mr Ackles-Morgan.’

 

It was early evening a week later and still warm. Jeff sat on the porch, the book he was reading cast aside as he watched Jensen playing with Dean, throwing the ball for him, laughing as Dean bounded around. Dean was almost fully grown now but still had a puppy’s playfulness and too-large paws.The wedding was just two weeks away. Everything was planned, the Rev Olsson was going to perform the ceremony, they had a marquee booked for the garden and a band. Their rings were ordered, the caterers chosen and the flowers hand selected by Jensen. Misha was going to be Jensen’s best man and Joan was going to be Jeff’s best woman. The guests were invited, the honeymoon sorted out.

Everything was running really smoothly, but Jeff had a knot of anxiety in his gut and it was Jensen who was the cause. His nightmares had got worse in the past few weeks, despite his sessions with Stephen and the prescription of mild sedatives they had grudgingly decided to try. Jeff knew Jensen was worrying about something but he wouldn’t tell Jeff what it was. If Jeff asked outright Jensen just said he was fine, just nervous about the wedding.

Jeff saw Jensen sit down and pull the dog into a hug; Jeff thought Jensen was laughing but something was off. Dean had laid his head in Jensen’s lap and Jensen’s shoulders shook as he held onto the dog’s shoulders.

Jeff ran over to him and knelt by his side. ‘Jensen! Oh God, baby what’s wrong?’

‘I’m…not…not,’ Jensen sobbed. ‘Not good,’

Jeff frowned, puzzled. ‘Are you ill?’

Jensen shook his head, ‘I'm a bad person,’

‘What the hell?’ Jeff had to reign in his anger, ‘sorry, baby, but what do you mean?’

‘I did b-bad things, m-made men do b-bad things. My fault J-Jared’s dead,’

Jeff sighed. He had thought Jensen had gotten over his feeling of guilt, and that months of counselling with Stephen, reinforcing the facts that Jensen was the victim and innocent, had helped. Jeff also told Jensen the same things whenever Jensen told him how he felt. The trouble was that superficially Jensen was doing so well, he looked healthy and happy, he was still a little skinny but he was eating well and had taken up running with Jeff. He had started doing some light gardening work and was developing some landscaping projects. He had a smile that lit up the room and an inner beauty that affected everyone he knew.

Yet often at night Jensen would scream and cry out in his sleep, usually of variations ‘stop’ ‘don’t’ ‘please’ and ‘no’. When he had a bad night he would be quiet the next day and usually this was when he would share a memory with Jeff. It hurt Jeff to hear about the man who paid his daddy to make Jensen suck him off and held onto his head so tight Jensen would gag and choke, almost passing out on one occasion. ‘Pops was real mad, said I should learn to breathe through my nose.’

It hurt Jeff to hear about Jared taking Jensen for a walk in the woods when he was fourteen and bent him over a tree trunk to fuck him for the first time. ‘Jared said it wouldn’t hurt, but it sure did. Felt like I was being torn up, and I got splinters from the damned tree trunk too.’

It hurt to hear that Jensen’s daddy would watch while the local sheriff and his deputy took turns with Jensen, one fucking his mouth, the other his ass. ‘They would take a helluva long time, but I never cried, not after the first time when Pops got real mad and beat me. An’ momma got real upset and I hated seeing her cry so I used to sing inside my head, hymns and such like, but I gave up praying ‘cause God never heard.’

Jeff would store up his anger and sorrow after each painful story, and cry it all out in the shower later that day, never letting Jensen see his tears. Jeff also had nightmares now, visions of faceless men violating Jensen with Jeff trapped behind an invisible wall, unable to help him. Jeff was thankful that Jensen was a heavy sleeper and never heard his own muffled shouts and cries.

However, this time Jeff had no clue what had upset Jensen, as he had slept soundly. Gently he stroked Jensen’s arm. ‘Hey, sweetheart, you know that’s not true. Jared was the one who did bad things to you, who wouldn’t put his gun down when the police warned him.’

Jensen looked up at him, his bottom lip trembling and tears running down his face. He was gripping Dean’s fur so hard that the dog whimpered. Jensen looked down in surprise. ‘S-sorry Deano.’ He whispered. He released his grip and Jeff expected the dog to make a hasty retreat, but he stayed where he was, his big brown eyes looking up at Jensen and Jeff could have sworn he saw sympathy there. Jensen stroked Dean and gazed at the dog.

‘You don’t understand,’ He said so softly Jeff could just about hear.

‘What is it?’ Jeff asked. ‘Tell me, sweetheart, help me to understand,’

Jensen wiped his face with his hand and took a deep breath. ‘When I was…when Jared had me locked up…well, sometimes I wished I’d fought him. That day,’ Jensen stroked Dean and kept looking at the dog as he spoke, ‘the day he took me, if I’d run away, if I’d hit him, he wouldn’t have done those-those things an’…an’ he wouldn’t be dead,’ Jensen gave a shudder and looked up at Jeff, his beautiful face pale.

‘He forced you, Jensen. He made you go with him, he threatened to kill Dean,’ Jeff had moved around so that he was sitting next to Jensen, resting his hand on Jensen’s knee.

‘I was just playing with him, an’ I remembered…’ Jensen leaned against Jeff, his head on his shoulder, like he was too weary to support it anymore. ‘Jared had been gone for hours. I was so cold an’ hungry an’ lonely. I wanted to see him, just to see someone. When he came he’d been drinkin’ an’ he didn’t have no food for me. I said I was real hungry an’ he laughed, said I’d been spoilt by you an’ it was time I learned a lesson,’

Jeff felt his blood grow cold in his veins, his heart hammered in his chest and he could barely breathe. He knew Jared had punished Jensen more severely because of his relationship with Jeff and he didn’t want to hear, didn’t want to know, but he put his arm around Jensen’s shoulder and held him close. ‘Go on, sweetheart,’

‘He chained me up against the wall,’ Jeff vividly recalled seeing hooks on the wall and imagined Jensen hanging from them and he struggled to focus on what Jensen was saying, his voice soft and low, ‘he w-whipped me for so long, I screamed real loud an’ he gagged me. I was sure all my skin was off my back, I could smell blood and I passed out, he chucked w-water over me an’ then he…he took the chains off an’ I fell down, on my knees an’ he got behind me an’ f-fucked me. His h-hands were on my h-hips, holding me tight, everything hurt so damned much an’ I wished…I wished I’d run,’ Jensen was sobbing again and his voice rose as he bawled out ‘I wished right then that I’d just let him kill Dean! How could I think that?’

‘Fuck!’ Jeff groaned, ‘don’t you feel guilty Jensen. Anyone would have felt the same,’

‘But – but then I kept thinkin’ it, Jeff! I still keep thinkin’…I should’ve run, should’ve grabbed Dean an’ run anywhere, away, just away, it’s my fault, I let him take me,’

‘Stop it!’ Jeff said more harshly than he intended and Jensen flinched away from him. ‘Hey, it’s okay, I won’t hurt you baby, I’d never hurt you,’ Jeff moved back and held Jensen’s face in his hands.

‘You’re mad at me,’ Jensen said, fear in his eyes, ‘you hate me, like Jared said you would,’

‘No!’ Jeff ran his thumbs over Jensen’s tear-stained cheeks, ‘I love you Jensen, so much. I could never, ever hate you, okay?’

Jensen nodded and bit his bottom lip. There was more to come, Jeff knew the sign and waited.

‘I-I know you love me, Jeff, but if you don’t want to go ahead with the wedding I understand,’

‘Why would you think that?’

‘Jared said I’m damaged goods, you wouldn’t want me after…after what h did. An’ I’m trouble, I’m not right in the head, I have issues, I can’t give you wh-what you want, I can’t make you happy…’

‘Oh sweetheart, please stop,’ Jeff pulled Jensen’s slim frame into his arms and held him tight. Jeff wanted to cry, wanted to scream and shout; but what he wanted most was to help Jensen. ‘Just listen to me. You are a beautiful person, inside and out, despite all the awful things that you have gone through. I wish I could take away every bad thing that happened to you, but those things have made you who you are, we can’t change that and I can’t imagine how you could be any more perfect; you are so strong, Jensen, so brave, so loving and so forgiving,’

‘But…’

‘Shush, let me finish,’ Jeff kissed the top of Jensen’s head as it rested against his chest. ‘I know you worry about not being able to do certain things in the bedroom,’ Jeff had always hated talking about sex and cursed himself now for being such a prude, ‘but if all I ever have of you is what I have now I will be completely happy and the luckiest man in the world, you are all I want, all I need, the man I love, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with,’

Jensen moved away from Jeff and Jeff was relieved to see that although he was still crying, he was smiling too. He brought his hands up and held Jeff’s face, just like Jeff had done to him a few moments ago. ‘I’m the lucky one, Jeffers. The day you moved into this house changed my life and I owe you so much, I love you so much,’ Jensen suddenly grinned and Jeff felt his heart lighten, ‘hey, I think I have my vows now! I gotta write that down…’

Jensen scrambled up onto his feet, dislodging Dean who barked and wagged his tail, sensing the change in Jensen’s emotions. Jeff watched in bemusement as Jensen ran into the house and returned with his notepad and a pen, and two bottles of beer. Jeff was still sitting on the grass and Jensen flopped down next to him, handing him a beer.

‘You okay?’ He asked Jeff, who felt like he had just stepped off an emotional roller-coaster. Jensen’s moods were often mercurial and this was no exception.

Jeff managed to nod and smile, ‘Sure, thanks for the beer,’

Jensen looked shyly at Jeff. ‘Sorry for…all that, sometimes I can’t stop the feelings inside me, can’t stop remembering, I’m sorry,’

‘You don’t have to apologise sweetheart, and you don’t have to keep those feelings inside you, you can always talk to me, or to Stephen,’

‘I know, thanks Jeffers. Now let me write these vows down while it’s in my mind…’ Jensen started writing, his tongue sticking out a little as he concentrated.

Jeff watched him with a mixture of pride, love and thankfulness. Jeff loved Jensen with all his heart. and he knew that the day he moved in to this house his life had changed too, for the better. So much better than he had ever dared hope for.

Chapter Text

Jeff woke up and rolled over, reaching out for Jensen and finding only an empty space. He fumbled for his watch to check the time and groaned; it was only 5.30am, practically the middle of the night. He wondered what had roused him then heard Jensen whispering to the dog and padding downstairs.

Jeff sighed and relaxed back onto his soft pillow. Dean was on edge, he had woken them up earlier than usual the past few mornings but never this early. Jeff was sure the dog could sense the tension in the air, the excitement and nervousness as their ‘wedding’ day approached. Jensen insisted on calling it their wedding, although it was only a blessing and not legal, he said it sounded better. Jensen was on edge too, alternating between deliriously happy and excited to quiet and anxious. His moods were mercurial, and happiness could be instantly replaced with sorrow with the wrong word from Jeff or a flashback to his past. Equally if he was down a hug from Jeff, a song on the radio or a lick from Dean would make him smile. It was like walking a tightrope for Jeff and he hoped that once the wedding was over Jensen’s moods would settle down.

They had even had their first serious row, over whether or not Dean should be around during the ceremony. Jensen was adamant that he wanted his dog there and that Dean would be a good boy and not misbehave, but Jeff knew that with so many people around, plus the band and the food, Dean would get over-excited. Jeff recalled the argument almost word for word....

....“He’s my dog, you said this is my home too and I want him here!’ Jensen had sounded like a petulant teenager. ‘He’s part of us, Jeff, part of our family. I can make him behave,”

“He’s a good dog and I know you’ve worked hard at training him…”

“Don’t patronize me!” Jensen yelled and Jeff regretted for a moment teaching him that particular word.

“I am not patronizing you, Jensen,” Jeff had said, keeping his tone level with some effort, “but no matter how well-trained he is, that many people will make him hyper, you know this,”

Jensen looked deflated and Jeff knew he was winning the argument. Jensen tried a more pleading tone, “I’ll keep him tied up, he won’t cause any trouble an’ the girls will wanna see him,”

Jeff sighed and moved over to stand beside Jensen. They watched Dean chasing a butterfly around the garden, yapping and leaping excitedly. He seemed to sense them watching and stopped, sitting down to scratch his ear then bounded over to them.

“Sit, Deano,” Jensen said, scratching the dog’s head when he obeyed, “good boy,”

Jensen glanced at Jeff as if to say, see I can control him, but Jeff now laid the winning card. “Jen, honey, it won’t be good for Dean, it will be stressful for him. He’ll be too excited at seeing all our friends and family and he may be frightened by the band, it’s better for him if he’s not here,”

Jensen knelt down and buried his face in Dean’s neck. The dog whined, sensing Jensen’s mood. Jeff found himself kneeling too and wasn’t surprised when Jensen released his grip on Dean and moved into Jeff’s embrace, crying quietly.

‘Jus’ wan-want it to be per-perfect,” Jensen sobbed, “you’re right, I’m s-sorry,”

Jeff had hugged him and told him it was all going to be perfect, they had kissed and ended up lying on the grass side by side, watching the clouds roll across the blue sky and holding hands, with Dean asleep next to Jensen, his head on Jensen’s stomach....

Jeff had talked Jensen’s mood swings and the row over with both Stephen and Jim. Stephen had reminded him that this was a huge step for Jensen, as he had lost his family and his previous life and this was a symbol of his new life, his new family with Jeff. It was Jensen’s chance to put his past behind him and move forward, so he was obviously going to be anxious, he just needed to know he had Jeff’s support.

Jim had told him to stop being a big idjit, every couple had rows and it was healthy. They were both going to be stressed out by the wedding plans and Jeff should “grow a pair and stop seeing fucking mountains where there’s just fucking molehills.”

While Jeff was lost in thought, Jensen had come back in from the garden and Jeff heard him quietly creep into their room His face broke out into a big grin when Jeff said good morning to him and he jumped on the bed, straddling Jeff’s waist and kissing him.

“Whoa!” Jeff chuckled when Jensen pulled away, “That was a lovely way to start the day!”

Jensen grinned down at him. “Tomorrow Jeffers! We’re getting married tomorrow!”

“Hell yeah!” Jeff smiled back, so full of love for this unpredictable, frustrating, beautiful, funny, charming man that he thought his heart might burst. He reached up and cupped Jensen’s head, pulling him back down for a longer, deeper kiss. Jensen’s body moulded against his and he could feel Jensen’s hard dick through the soft material of their pyjama bottoms and his own was already getting there too.

Jeff rolled them over and pushed himself up to gaze down at Jensen, who smiled at him and wriggled his hips invitingly. “Love you so much, baby,” Jeff whispered as he pushed Jensen’s t-shirt up and caressed his broad chest, rubbing tiny circles over his nipples with his thumbs.

“Ngh, Jeff, love you…” Jensen groaned and closed his eyes.

Jeff leaned down and licked Jensen’s neck, then nuzzled his way down to his right nipple. Jensen’s breathing grew heavier and he bucked and groaned as Jeff nibbled gently on the nub, then sucked it, stroking the other one and then swapping over. Jensen was moaning and thrusting his hips beneath Jeff and when Jeff sat back tom look at his boy, he could see that Jensen was so turned on his dick was leaking pre-come.

“Jeff, need…” Jensen managed to gasp.

“It’s okay, baby, I got you,” Jeff whispered then started to work on Jensen’s hard dick, stroking it and watching as Jensen lost control. He intended to take Jensen with his mouth, but Jensen was already so close. A gentle hand massaging his balls while the other slid over his dick and Jensen was undone, shooting his load over his stomach and Jeff’s hand.

“Fuck, Jen, oh God, you have no idea…” Jeff babbled, his own dick heavy and ready now.

Jensen blinked up at him with half-lidded eyes, smiling dozily. “S’good,”

Jeff laid down and Jensen nestled against him, still breathing heavily. Jeff needed to come right-the-fuck-now but he would never rush Jensen. After a few minutes that felt much longer, Jensen ran his hand over Jeff’s groin and grinned as Jeff’s dick twitched at his touch.

“Your turn,” he whispered, kissing Jeff’s cheek then moving himself between Jeff’s legs. He pulled Jeff’s pyjamas off and grinned as Jeff’s dick bounced free. Jeff was surprised when Jensen immediately started to lick the tip of his dick, holding it and running his hand up and down as he did so. Jensen licked underneath from root to base and Jeff knew it wouldn’t take long as his heart thumped and his head pounded in time with his throbbing dick.

Jensen moved back a little to change the angle, and still holding Jeff, he took his dick into his mouth, sucking and humming, swirling his tongue across the underside of Jeff’s dick and palming his balls as he did so. The sensation was overwhelming and as Jeff looked down, Jensen lifted his eyes and Jeff saw such love, trust and desire there that it sent him over the edge with a cry of release. Jensen swallowed him down, then pulled off and collapsed next to Jeff. Jeff pulled him close and hugged him.

“Was gonna get up, but I’m kinda tired out now,” Jensen yawned.

“Me too. It’s still real early, baby, let’s go back to sleep,” Jeff said as he stroked Jensen’s shoulder.

There was no response and Jeff smiled sleepily as Jensen started to snore softly, soon joining him in a peaceful, satisfied sleep.

 

The day passed in a blur of activity and a sea of faces. Genevieve and the girls arrived and they took them for lunch at a family-friendly diner. In the afternoon a huge bunch of flowers and a bottle of champagne were delivered, from the detectives, Mark Sheppard and Mark Pellegrino, with a card that sent their best wishes to the happy couple. Jeff took Dean to the dog-sitter’s house, trying not to look at Jensen as they left, but glancing up anyway to see him give a brave smile, with tears in his eyes. Luckily Jensen was busy entertaining his nieces and was soon distracted by Daisy demanding that he “play with me Uncle Jen-jen!”

When Jeff got back, he was immediately seized by Jim and given a bear-hug. “Congratulations, boy, you’re one lucky son-of-a-gun!”

Jeff laughed and nodded, “I sure am, thanks for coming, Jim,”

“Nothing would keep me away,” Jim looked sheepish and to Jeff’s amazement he appeared to be blushing, “um, about my plus-one…”

Jeff saw a pretty, petite brunette woman approaching shyly. He grinned at Jim and got a scowl in return, but Jim’s careworn face lit up as she joined them.

“This here is Kim, Kim Rhodes, she had the misfortune of joining my staff team a few months back and, well,” Jim blushed again and Jeff stifled the urge to laugh at his friend, “Kim, this is Jeff, the idjit I’m pleased to call my best friend,”

“Pleased to meet you, Jeff” Kim smiled and shook his hand, “I’ve heard a lot about you,”

“Pleased to meet you too, Kim, and let me just tell you you’re way above Jim’ league!”

Jensen appeared, attracted by the sound of laughter and Kim couldn’t help the admiring glance she gave him. Jeff didn’t mind at all, he was used to Jensen’s looks attracting attention and today he looked even more beautiful than before; Jeff wondered how that was even possible. He had a plain white shirt on, sleeves rolled up showing off his tanned arms, and light blue jeans that seemed to hug his narrow hips and muscular thighs. His hair was newly-trimmed, short and a little spiky, making his eyes look even bigger and greener. His smile was broad and infectious at Jim’s disgruntled response to Jeff’s teasing.

“I’m not the only one playing outta my league, boy!” Jim grumbled, then grinned at Jensen, “Hey there, Jensen, this is my…friend, Kim,” Jensen shook hands with Jim and then Kim.

“Jim and Kim, that’s funny!” Jensen giggled, then looked aghast, “sorry that was rude, I meant to say I’m real pleased to make your acquaintance, Kim,”

Kim smiled at Jensen, “You have wonderful manners, Jensen, and yes, Jim-Kim is kinda funny!”

“My momma taught me how to have good manners, she said good manners don’t cost nothin’ and the world would be a better place if more people remembered to use ‘em,” Jensen said proudly.

“Your momma was one wise lady,” Kim told him and soon they were off chatting like old friends.

“She’s real sweet, Jim,” Jeff said as he watched them walk away, Jensen showing her around their garden.

“Never thought I’d find anyone, never wanted anyone after Margaret, but she’s special. She made me realise how lonely I was, how I’d shut myself off…” Jim ran his hands over his short hair, “Hell, now I sound like I’ve grown some boobs! How are you doing? And Jensen?”

“It’s been a tense time, but you were right. I was making mountains outta molehills, I can’t expect sunshine all the time. I’m a lucky man to have Jensen in my life,” Jeff smiled at his old friend, “I’m glad you found Kim, Jim,” he laughed and Jim scowled, then grinned, “sorry, blame Jensen!”

Later that afternoon, when everyone had gone to check into the hotel, Jeff sat with Jensen on the porch, looking at their transformed garden. There was a marquee erected on the lawn, large enough to have a raised area for the band, seating for all their guests and an area for the ceremony to take place, if the weather was bad. It was late summer and the forecast was good, so hopefully most of the day would be spent outside, only moving into the marquee for the food and music later in the afternoon. Jensen had chosen the spot for the blessing, the patio area by the pond he had built and Jeff thought it was the perfect spot. There were plants and flowers growing around the pond and in large pots on the patio, but these would be complemented with a few tasteful flower arrangements.

“It’s really happening,” Jensen said, reaching out his hand to hold Jeff’s, “this time tomorrow I’ll be Mr Jensen Ross Morgan,”

“And I’ll be the happiest guy in the world,” Jeff said, not caring at how clichéd it sounded.

“Sometimes I can’t believe it,” Jensen said softly, gazing down the garden, “how much my life has changed, it’s like I look back and don’t recognise who I was, that scared kid who believed every lie I was told, that I was stupid and couldn’t do nothin’, that I was a few cents short of a dollar and my life weren’t important…” Jeff squeezed his hand reassuringly, “it’s okay Jeffers, I ain’t gonna start cryin’, I’ll be doing a lot of that tomorrow! I just can’t explain, but I need to tell you, I just owe you everythin’, I can’t imagine what my life would be without you…” Jensen rubbed his eyes with his free hand, “oh damn, I said I wasn’t gonna…”

Jeff chuckled and patted his lap, “Come her, baby,” Jensen moved gracefully from his chair to Jeff’s lap and wrapped his arms around Jeff’s neck, leaning his head against Jeff’s with a sigh. “Look at this place, how beautiful the garden is, how happy everyone was today and will be tomorrow. All because of you, you did it, Jensen, and you changed my life to. I can’t imagine life without you, sweetheart,” Jeff was almost crying too, but he took a deep breath and gave a shaky laugh, “and if I don’t shut up I’ll end up saying most of my vows right now,”

“It’s okay Jeff, I surely won’t mind hearing them twice!” Jensen chuckled and they sat for a while just enjoying each other’s presence until Jeff could barely feel his legs and had to move Jensen off.

“Sorry, Jen, I gotta move,” Jeff said, and Jensen stood up, “and we better get ready, almost time for our wedding supper!” Jeff said as he stretched his aching back and legs.

“Our wedding supper,” Jensen repeated, looking wistful, then he gave Jeff a huge mega-watt smile, “Hey, Jeff! We’re getting married tomorrow!” he yelled and grabbed Jeff, twirling him around, both of them laughing.

 

Jeff had booked all their guests into the same small hotel and they had their wedding supper in the hotel restaurant, As well as Genevieve and her girls, there was Misha and his family, Stephen and his wife, Joan and her family, Jim, Samantha and Katie. Jeff had wondered about inviting them as Jensen’s stay at the residential home had not been a good experience, but Jensen had wanted them there, he said they had both been real kind to him, even when he had acted like a damned spoiled brat. Jeff had chuckled at that and pulled Jensen in for a kiss.

The restaurant had set up a buffet that included cold meats, chicken wings, ribs, pizza, potato salad and coleslaw and there were bottles of wine on the table. There was also a dessert trolley covered in various cheesecakes and, of course, assorted pies.

Their guests were all there and applauded as they entered, making baby Lily burst into tears at the sudden noise. Jensen walked over to Genevieve and took Lily from her, the little girl immediately smiling at her uncle and grinning at him, tears still wet on her chubby cheeks.

“No tears today, Lily,” Jensen smiled at her, “we’re celebrating. Thanks for coming, everyone!” He said and Jeff joined them.

“Yes, thank you all for being here to share this special moment with us. Now the food looks great and we’ve got all evening to chat, so please get yourself a plate and some food before Jensen eats it all!”

“Hey!” Jensen grumbled, “I’d never eat all of that, I’d save me a little space for some pie!”

Everyone laughed and Jeff moved around the room greeting his friends and family. Joanie looked so proud when she saw him approaching that he was reminded of his mom and had to cover up the tears welling in his eyes by giving his sister a big hug.

Jeff and Jensen paired up to welcome Samantha, who had brought her husband with her and Katie with her sister. Stephen and his wife were next and by the time they had chatted and everyone was seated with their food, Jeff felt exhausted.

“You okay, Jeffers?” Jensen asked, concerned.

“What? Oh yeah, I’m fine,” Jeff grinned at Jensen, “just a little tired. I think my early morning treat is catching up with me!”

Jensen blushed and giggled adorably. “I did let you go back to sleep,”

“You let me go back to sleep? You were snoring before I was!”

“I was only pretending so you wouldn’t feel bad. I don’t need my beauty sleep as much as you do!”

“Hey, lovebirds, stop twittering! I don’t need to hear you’re early morning exploits!” Joan said from the other side of Jeff.

“You’re just jealous, Joanie,” Jeff chuckled, “when did you last have any early morning exploits?”

“Humph, I’m lucky to get late night ones!” Joanie chuckled back, “but at least I look more awake than you do!”

“Let’s get some air, Jeffers,” Jensen said, pulling him to his feet.

“Hey, where you two off to?” Misha called out with a grin.

“Can’t keep their hands off each other!” Jim chuckled and they exited the room to gentle banter and teasing of their friends.

Once in the evening twilight of the hotel garden, Jensen seemed shy. He bit his bottom lip and glanced anxiously at Jeff as they strolled along.

“What’s wrong, sweetheart?” Jeff said, catching Jensen’s arm to halt him.

“Nothin’, I’m just being stupid, as usual,” Jensen muttered.

“Okay, you know you’re not stupid but you are annoying at times. Tell me. We’re going to get married tomorrow, you can tell me anything,”
“Are you sure?” Jensen glanced up at him then dropped his gaze, “about me…getting hitched to someone like me…”

“Jensen…”

“If you’re having second thoughts it’s okay, honest, I get it I do, we can be friends, I’ll do okay…”

Jeff pulled Jensen close and kissed him, then smiled at him “Shut the fuck up,”

Jensen looked shocked then grinned. “Am I being annoyin’?”

“Yep. I have no second thoughts, no doubts; I swear you only do this to make me tell you each time how wonderful you are and how much I love you!”

Jensen giggled, “I hadn’t thought of that, Jeffers!”

“Oh crap, what have I done?” Jeff groaned but smiled at Jensen.

The evening finished early, as the children had to be put to bed and the grooms wanted an early night. They left their friends who didn’t have kids to settle in the bar and Jeff had a feeling that new friendships would be forming that night. He had watched Stephen and Jim already arguing with each other, Samantha and Joanie chatting away like old friends and his nephew was flirting with Katie’s sister; it all made Jeff feel happy and satisfied. Life was so good, all thanks to Jensen.

Chapter Text

If anyone asked Jeff after his wedding day what he remembered most, he would have to confess that the day was a blur really, but one thing stood out. Jensen’s smile. It was the first thing he saw when he woke up that morning and the last thing he saw before succumbing to exhaustion that night. All day Jensen had laughed and grinned and smiled at their friends and family. His smile was so beautiful, so much like sunshine that Jeff was sure he could see people glow when Jensen smiled at them. Yet when Jensen smiled at him it was different, it was special and intimate. It made Jensen’s pretty eyes shine and conveyed a look that said ‘I love you, you’re mine and I’m yours, forever’ and it took Jeff’s breath away. Every single time.

Jensen had woken him up by bouncing up and down on the bed yelling ‘We’re getting married today, Jeffers!” then ran to the window and pulled back the curtains, making Jeff groan at the flood of bright sunshine. ‘And it’s a beautiful day!”

“What time’s it?” Jeff mumbled, not awake enough yet to feel excited.

“It’s 7am, I’m gonna go cook us breakfast, we got so much to do. The florists will be here at 9, the caterers at 10 and Ty at 11. We gotta be changed and ready by midday. That’s five hours, just five and I can’t wait!” Jensen had jumped back on the bed and was still bouncing on his knees, making Jeff feel a little sea-sick.

Jeff reached out a hand and grabbed Jensen’s wrist, pulling him onto his chest. “I liked how you woke me up yesterday, sweetheart,” he whispered, knowing Jensen loved it when his voice was ‘all raspy’ and was rewarded by Jensen’s body relaxing against his and Jensen’s soft chuckle.

“We got a lot to do,” Jensen complained halfheartedly, “but we could fit in a kiss…”

 

An hour later they managed to leave the bed and showered together “to save time”, then Jensen warmed up some croissants, as his plans to cook Jeff a special breakfast changed by lack of time. Jeff brewed up some coffee and poured out some fresh orange juice. They sat on the porch eating and drinking in relative silence, only broken by the sound of bird song.

Jeff was lost in his thoughts, amazed that they had got this far, despite everything and that today, finally, he could tell the world how much he loved Jensen. Jeff could tell that Jensen’s earlier exuberance had changed into nervousness, as Jensen’s knees were bouncing up and down and he seemed unable to sit still.

Jensen ate only one croissant before pushing his plate away; normally he could demolish three.

“You’re quiet, sweetheart. Nervous?” Jeff smiled over at him.

“Yep,” Jensen grinned back at Jeff, “but a good nervous, like excited-nervous. Just want everything to be perfect.”

“Well it’s started off pretty damn perfectly!” Jeff winked at Jensen and was delighted to see the slight blush to his cheeks.

It was a glorious late summer day, the sun was shining, the sky was a clear, bright blue and there was a gentle breeze that would stop it getting too sticky. Jeff pushed his own half-eaten breakfast away and sipped his coffee.

“I feel like it’s all unreal, Jeffers, like it’s a real sweet dream,” Jensen sighed and tilted his head back, closing his eyes as he let the warm sunshine kiss his face, “if it’s a dream I never wanna wake up,”

Jeff looked at Jensen’s beautiful face, the way his long eyelashes fanned out against his cheeks, the way his perfect full lips were parted slightly, the slight blush that lingered on his skin and the pretty freckles that sprinkled his nose. Jeff stood up as quietly as possible and moved over to Jensen, leaning on the arms of the chair to bend down and kiss those gorgeous lips.

Jensen wrapped his hands around Jeff’s head and they kissed tenderly for a moment, then Jeff pulled back and whispered “It’s all real Jensen, you, me, all this.”

“I love you so much, Jeffrey Dean Morgan,” Jensen smiled up at him and was about to pull him back for another kiss when they heard the rumble of an engine announcing he arrival of the florists.

 

The morning flew by in a whirlwind of activity. They were both relieved to see Ty, his calm presence was welcome and soothing. He gave them both a big bear hug then ran through the ceremony again, checking that they were fine with it all.

“And you got your vows and your rings? Most important things. You’d be surprised how many folk misplace one or the other,” Ty had grinned.

“All locked away in the safe until we’re ready,” Jeff informed him and Jensen caught his hand, giving it a squeeze. He looked pale and anxious now.

“Don’t worry, Jensen, it’s all gonna be fine. Everyone you love’s gonna be here to see you two declare your love for each other and you got nothing to worry about,” Ty said kindly, picking up on Jensen’s mood.

“I know, I just don’t want to mess up and let everyone down,” Jensen confessed, biting his bottom lip.

“Sweetheart there’s nothing you could do that would spoil today or let people down. It’s all gonna be just fine, I promise,” Jeff gave him a reassuring smile, “now we’d better go and get ready, the guests will be arriving soon.”

Alone in their bedroom Jensen undressed quietly and Jeff grabbed him when he got down to his boxer and pulled him in for a hug.

“Jeez, honey you’re shaking,” Jeff could feel Jensen trembling in his arms.

“I can’t help it, I know it’s all gonna be fine, but I’m as nervous as a colt. Aren’t you?”

“Nope,” Jeff paused and tried to think how he felt, “I’m a little excited, a little numb I guess, but mostly I’m just so in love with you nothing else matters,”

“Wow,” Jensen sighed and relaxed against Jeff’s chest as Jeff stroked the skin on his back, trying not to think about the cause of all the faded scars that criss-crossed his skin. “You make me feel so good, Jeff, so safe. I just wish my Momma was here to all this,”

“She is sweetheart, she’s always with you in your heart and in your memories. And who knows, perhaps she’s watching over you,” Jeff kissed the top of his head.

“Yeah, I like to think that,” Jensen smiled at Jeff, “Thanks, I’ll be okay now,”

They parted with another tender kiss and finished getting dressed. Jeff had let Jensen choose their clothes and they both had crisp white shirts, no ties – damn things make me feel like I’m being strangled, Jeff – black velvet jackets and plain black trousers with a fine narrow velvet strip down the leg. It was more over-the-top than Jeff would usually wear but he was grateful they hadn’t gone for the three piece suit and top hat deal, and he had to admit Jensen looked gorgeous in his outfit.

The photographer had taken some initial shots a few days ago of them dressed in their wedding clothes in the garden and then with a variety of backdrops. They had decided to do this to get the ‘formal’ poses out of the way and the photographer would just take informal shots throughout the actual day. Jensen had loved one of them standing in front of what looked like a wall of fire. He had unbuttoned Jeff’s shirt a little and announced that he looked super-sexy in the shot.

‘Well, Jensen, my sweetheart, it’s almost time!” Jeff took both of Jensen’s hands in his own and was pleased that Jensen had stopped shaking.

“Let’s go and do it then!” Jensen grinned, his nerves overtaken now by joy and excitement that radiated from his eyes and his smile.

 

All their guests had arrived and were in the garden, drinking champagne and fresh orange juice. Jeff and Jensen were holed up with Ty and would walk down the ‘aisle’ between the chairs to the pond together, accompanied by their best man and best woman. Misha and Joan joined them just before 12.30 and took the boxed rings, hugged both Jeff and Jensen and then it was time.

Jeff now felt a knot of tension and anxiety, and he felt like he was floating, that the world was turning out of synch with him. He stopped on the way out into the garden and held onto the door frame as his legs had decided not to work.

“Jeff?” Jensen was there, his green eyes frowning in concern, “you alright?”

“Feel…wobbly…” Jeff’s legs gave way and he was maneuvered by Ty and Jensen into a chair that Misha had quickly grabbed.

“Jeff, can you hear me?” Jensen was kneeling in front of him, his hands resting on Jeff’s knees, holding his own. “Are you going to hurl?”

Jeff shook his head and chuckled, “No, not sick, just felt woozy, sorry,”

“You’re shaking,” Jensen smiled at him, “I guess now it’s your turn to have a freak-out!”

“Everyone gets nervous on their wedding day, it’s perfectly natural,” Misha said kindly.

“Yep, don’t worry little bro, all brides get the jitters!” Joan teased.

“I dunno why…” Jeff shook his head, “I think you’re right. It just all seems…overwhelming,” he gazed at Jensen, “and after everything, that we’re here, you’re here.”

“I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. Now come on, Mr Morgan, our guests are waiting!” Jensen grinned and pulled Jeff up onto his feet. Jeff wobbled slightly but Jensen was right there, linking their arms together and following Misha and Joan across the lawn towards the pond.

The happy faces of their friends and family were turned to watch as they walked through them and Ty was already in place, his handsome face beaming a huge smile at them.

Ty welcomed all their guests to their special day and talked about love overcoming all obstacles and how special it was to find someone to love in a world that could be so cruel and unkind. Jeff barely heard a word he said, as his heart was thumping so hard in his chest and he was sure everyone else could hear it too. Jensen gripped his hand and gave him his special smile. Jeff knew that people thought Jensen was the weak one in their relationship, because of his mild learning difficulties and his history of horrific abuse, but Jensen was so very strong and right now he was giving Jeff his strength too.

“Now let us pray,” Ty said, and Jeff relaxed for a moment, grateful to be able to close his eyes and calm down. He was not a practicing Christian, but he knew that Jensen had faith and it was important to him, “Praise and thanks to you, O God, Creator and Savior of the world. You spoke and the heavens came into being, the earth and everything therein. You saw all that you had made and found it good. You have broken down the walls of division, calling together by the law of love those who were apart. Pour your Holy Spirit upon Jeffrey and Jensen. Let them love each other openly without fear, in justice love and peace, a joyful sign of your creation. Pour out your blessing upon Jeffrey and Jensen. Deepen their joy, guide them and console them in difficult times; sustain them in the knowledge of your loving care, and of the love and support of all of us gathered here today. Amen.” Everyone echoed the “Amen” and Jeff opened his eyes to see Jensen beaming at him.

‘And now we come to the most important part, the exchanging of your vows. Jensen?” Ty nodded at him and gave him a reassuring smile.

“Jeff, the day you came to this house changed my life completely and I owe you so much, I love you so much,’ Jensen began, his bright eyes never leaving Jeff’s, “I think I loved you from the moment you smiled at me that day, right here in this garden, and I saw your dimples and the kindness in your eyes. I felt safe with you, like I had found my refuge, my home,” Jensen’s voice faltered and Jeff squeezed his hands reassuringly. Jensen flashed Jeff a brief smile then carried on “everyone here knows what happened to me, what you saved me from. None of that matters anymore, that’s all my past and you’re my future. I love you because you are kind, strong, gentle, patient, caring, funny and gorgeous,” Jensen stopped to give him that special smile again, “I love you so much and I’m so proud to be your husband,” Jensen paused then continued with the joint vows they had chosen to say, “In the name of God and in the presence of our friends and family, I, Jensen Ross Ackles, join my life with yours, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow,”

Everyone applauded and Jensen blushed; Jeff pulled him in to hug him, unable to speak past the lump in his throat, but knowing it was his turn to declare his love for Jensen.

“Thank you Jensen, that was truly beautiful,” Ty said, and Jeff pulled himself away, quickly wiping his eyes, “Jeff are you ready?”

Jeff nodded and took a deep breath, feeling Jensen’s hands in his once more and saw his green eyes gazing at Jeff expectantly. “Jensen, the day I came to view this house changed my life completely too. I met the most beautiful man in the world and fell in love. I hadn’t realised how lonely I had been until I met you, you filled a hole inside my heart and you made me feel more alive than I ever had,” Jeff paused and raised his hand to wipe a tear that had run down Jensen’s cheek. He heard Joan’s muffled sobs from just behind him and was aware of Misha moving closer to her and putting his arm around her shoulder, “I love you because you are beautiful, Jensen, inside and out. You have so much joy and love inside you, it radiates out and touches everyone who knows you. And you are so strong, the strongest man I’ve ever known. I am in awe of you. I am the luckiest man in the world to be able to call you my husband,” Jeff beamed at Jensen, “so, in the name of God and in the presence of our friends and family, I, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, join my life with yours, Jensen Ross Ackles, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death. This is my solemn vow,”

They hugged again to another round of applause and the sound of people giggling in embarrassment to cover up their tears. Jeff caught Jim’s eye and saw his old friend wiping his tears away with a lacy handkerchief, no doubt Kim’s, and resisted the urge to chuckle.

“Thank you Jeff, that was beautiful, you two just make my heart feel warm,” Ty said and Jeff was so pleased he was performing the blessing for them, they could not have found a better person; he was kind, sweet and supportive. “Now it’s time for the exchanging of the rings, are the best people ready?”

Misha and Joan were standing slightly behind Jeff and Jensen, holding hands, and they both nodded and stepped into position. Misha smiled at Jensen and shook his hand, Joan gave Jeff a brief hug.

Jeff went first this time, he had memorized the words ““Jensen, I give you this ring as a sign of my vows, and as a witness of the faithfulness and love I pledge to you for the rest of our lives,”
Joan handed Jeff the ring; they had chosen simple gold bands inscribed inside with one word, LOVE. Jeff slid it onto Jensen’s finger, both of their hands shaking a little.

Jensen took a steadying breath before starting “Jeff, I give you this ring as a sign of my vows, and as a witness of the faithfulness and love I pledge to you for the rest of our lives,” Misha held out the ring and Jensen took it, giving Misha a huge smile, then placed it on Jeff’s finger too.

“Ever-living God, bless these rings as enduring signs of the covenant Jeffrey and Jensen have made and keep them in the bond of love, through Christ our Lord,” Ty intoned, then he smiled and put his huge hands on both of their shoulders, “Jeff, Jensen, you may now kiss your husband!”

They kissed to another huge round of applause and suddenly they were surrounded by their guests patting them on the back, hugging them, laughing and crying with them. Jeff was amazed at the pure outpouring of love and joy he felt and could see the same pleased surprise on Jensen’s smiling face.

 

After they had eaten and the speeches had been made, Jeff surprised Jensen with his wedding gift. Jensen’s eyes lit up when he saw the guitar-shaped box, wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with a big red bow. He took it reverently from Jeff’s hands and opened it carefully. He removed the guitar, holding it like a father would a new-born baby and tears filled his eyes.

“Oh Jeff, it’s the Gibson Custom 1942 I always wanted!” Jensen exclaimed, and Jeff could see he was torn between caressing his new “baby” and leaping up to hug Jeff. Jeff solved his dilemma by leaning down to kiss Jensen.

“Well you promised to sing me a song tonight, sweetheart, this will help with that doncha think?”

Jensen nodded and stared at the guitar, the one he had looked so often on the internet, the one he had picked up and played in a guitar shop a few weeks ago, telling Jeff how beautiful it was and then going pale when he saw the price-tag.

“Thank you so much, I can’t…I’m just…” Jensen held the guitar aloft and yelled happily “Look at what my husband gave me!”

Everyone laughed and Jensen sat for a while just staring at it and strumming it quietly. The band were getting ready to play and Jeff sat down next to Jensen.

“Hey, sweetheart, are you sure about this? I mean, I know you wanted to sing for me, but if it’s gonna be too much…” Jeff said, worried now that Jensen would be anxious at performing in public for the first time.

“I’ve been looking forward to this for so long, Jeffers. It’s for you, and it’s not as though I’ll be singing to a bunch of strangers. I think I’m ready,” Jensen said, grinning at Jeff, “Don’t look so worried,”

The band played a few songs then Jensen took to the stage, his new Gibson around his neck and a big smile on his face. “I wanted to do something special for Jeff, and he’s always wanted to hear me sing, but I couldn’t find the perfect song. So I, eh, I kinda wrote one and it’s for you Jeff, my gift for you, my husband, my love, my answer, my everything,”

The guests all clapped and Joan moved closer to her little brother and took Jeff’s hand in her own. Jensen started to play and the music was moving and haunting. Then he started to sing, in his husky, soft, pure voice and Jeff was lost to everything else.

“You found me, I’d been hidden for the longest time
You spoke to me, and I answered
You listened to me, there’s so much I needed to say
You touched me and my soul answered

And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer

Wondering how I lasted so long without you near
You saw me through it all, all the darkness in my life
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer

You brought me to a place where I belong
You’re my home, my safety, my true love
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer

No escape when I tried to run the background always stayed the same
You grabbed my hand and helped me start again

You said It’s not too late now, it’s not too late now,
It’s not too late now
To start again, to start again

And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer
And it’s your love, it’s always been the answer
You’ve always been the answer”

Jeff had tears streaming down his face and Joanie’s head resting on his shoulder when Jensen finished; she was crying too and sat up with a wry smile, wiping her eyes. As Jensen sung the last line he had looked at Jeff with such trust, love and devotion that Jeff was sure his heart would burst, it was so full of love and pride. He had no idea Jensen had written a song, and it was perfect, it was pure Jensen. Jensen bounded over to him, looking like an anxious puppy.

“Did you like it Jeff, did you?” He asked, breathless. Jeff nodded and pulled Jensen on to his lap, kissing him tenderly to the whoops and cheers of their guests.

“I fucking loved it, oh God sweetheart, you have no idea how much I love you, that was the best gift I have ever had,” Jeff whispered to him.

 

Later Jensen sung a couple of covers, “Livin On A Prayer” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”. Jeff had hoped he would sing that one, as the line “I thought the sun rose in your eyes” just made him think of Jensen every time, it could have been written for him.

Jeff was more nervous about the surprise he had planned for Jensen than anything else so far – perhaps anything else he had ever done in his life. But after all Jensen had done for him, he knew he had to go through with it.

The lead singer of the band said “And now we have a special performance by Mr Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jeff everyone!”

Jensen looked so surprised that Jeff laughed and kissed his forehead before he took to the small stage and picked up the guitar he had borrowed om Joan. She was the only one who knew about this and had supported and teased her little brother through his practices in equal measure.

“I’ve not sung since my college days, but I wanted to do something special for my new husband. This is for you, Jensen Dean Morgan, it’s not my own words but it’s exactly how I feel about you; baby I’m Amazed by you”

Jeff’s voice sounded weak and shaky to his own ears as he started to sing,

“Every time our eyes meet,
This feeling inside me is almost more than I can take”,

but, as he sang and looked at Jensen, open-mouthed in wonder, his eyes shining with love, Jeff’s confidence and his voice grew.

“I've never been this close to anyone or anything
I can hear your thoughts, I can see your dreams
I don't know how you do what you do
I'm so in love with you
It just keeps getting better”

Jensen was smiling now and singing along, heedless of the tears running down his face and they sang the song to each other, like the rest of the world ceased to exist for that moment.

 

In bed that night they talked through the day and Jensen giggled when he said “I can’t believe you sang, Jeffers, for me! I never knew you had such a lovely voice,”

“That was a one-off, sweetheart, I’m no performer,” Jeff hugged him closer for a kiss, “Your song for me was so special, so wonderful. You’re really talented, Jensen,”

“Naw, I just love you and wanted some way to say it, I’m just so pleased you didn’t think it sucked,”

“It was fantastic, you should write more,”

“That’s what Stephen said too, it’s thera-pew-tic for me,” Jensen said, then yawned loudly, “sorry I’m real tired out!”

Jeff fell asleep with his barnacle wrapped around him and knew they were going to be okay, and he was so grateful that he had Jensen in his life.

 

Jeff had booked them a beach-front villa on the Californian coast near San Diego for their week long honeymoon. Jeff had thought about Mexico or Europe but then realised Jensen had never had a passport and also Jensen was reluctant to leave Dean for more than a week.

Jensen had never seen the ocean before and was enraptured by the sight, the sound and the smell. The first day they swam in the sea, laid on the sand, walked along the beach, their feet lapped by the waves. They had supper in a beach-front bistro and wandered back to their villa hand in hand.

Jensen was quiet on the walk back and Jeff knew the signs that something was bothering him. “You alright sweetheart?” He asked when they got inside the front door.

Jensen nodded and suddenly pressed Jeff up against the wall, their bodies touching and kissed him with a strength and passion he had never shown before.

“Wow!” Jeff exclaimed as soon as he could breathe, “that was unexpected!”

“Love you Jeff, want you,” Jensen said unbuttoning Jeff’s shirt as he spoke, his yes looking almost feverish.

“I think the sea-air is good for you, Jensen,” Jeff chuckled

“You’re good for me,” Jensen grinned and palmed Jeff’s already hardening dick, “An’ I’m gonna give you your second wedding gift from me, right now,” Jensen undid Jeff’s jeans and sank to his knees, pushing down Jeff’s jeans and boxers and running his hands over Jeff’s dick.

“Holy shit!” Jeff groaned as Jensen’s hands stroked his dick and balls.

“Jeff, I want…” Jensen was looking up at him, a mixture of fear and determination in his eyes, “I want you…want you inside me…”

Jeff’s heart rate accelerated at the implication in Jensen’s words. They had been taking things slowly, building up their “intimacy levels” Stephen, and had spent a lot of time just touching each other, exploring their bodies with their hands and mouths. Jeff loved it all, loved touching Jensen, loved the intimacy and the feel of his skin but he longed for more and now Jensen was ready to give it to him.

“Oh God, Jensen, I want you too, want you so bad,” Jeff bit back the urge to say “are you sure?”, torn between wanting to protect Jensen and letting him take the lead.

“Bedroom…now…please,” Jensen panted and took Jeff’s hand, hauling him through to the huge master bedroom with a king-size bed facing a wall of windows that looked right out at the ocean.

They undressed quickly and Jeff was almost as nervous as Jensen, too afraid to speak in case whatever he said broke the mood.

“I love you,” Jensen caught Jeff’s wrists and looked into his eyes. Jeff smiled at him and nodded, and Jensen moved swiftly onto the bed, laying on his back, opening his arms for Jeff to join him.

They kissed then Jeff moved down Jensen’s body, stroking him, kissing his skin, nuzzling against him, like he had so many times before. But this time was different and the anticipation seemed to heighten everything, the taste of Jensen’s skin, each little sound he made, each twitch of his hips.

“You okay, baby?” Jeff asked just before he started to work on his new husband’s dick.

“Perfect…so good…feels so good,” Jensen murmured, his hands moving u to caress Jeff’s hair.

“Gonna make you feel so good, sweetheart, love you so much,” Jeff said, then bent down to lick Jensen’s hard dick, moving his mouth up to suck the pre-come for the top as Jensen moaned beneath him. He spent some time licking and striking Jensen’s dick and balls until Jensen’s moaning took on a desperate quality. He started to take Jensen’s dick inside him, sucking and humming around it, until Jensen was almost fully inside, then he slipped his hand between Jensen’s legs and started to run two fingers around his hole.

Jeff pulled off, leaving Jensen gasping, his dick twitching, to fumble for the lube he had left on the bedside table and coated his hand with it, then covered Jensen’s hole, before sucking him down again. This time he slipped one finger into Jensen, and as he moved it slowly in and out, Jensen came with a cry and Jeff swallowed him down, then pulled off, still leaving his finger inside Jensen.

Jensen’s eyes were closed and he was gasping, his mouth open slightly. “Jensen, sweetheart, look at me,” Jeff whispered and Jensen blinked open his eyes, giving Jeff a lazy smile, “Good, you’re good,”

Jensen nodded and sighed, “So good,”

“I’ve got to open you up a little, baby, okay?”

“Mmmm”

“You’re so beautiful,” Jeff crooned as he added a second finger, then he realised it would be better if Jensen moved his legs apart further. “Lift your legs up, sweetheart, that’s it, now can you hold your knees right there, keep them open?”

Jensen nodded, his half-closed eyes never leaving Jeff’s.

Jeff slid his fingers back inside Jensen and scissored them gently. Jensen’s eyes shot open and he gave a moan of pleasure. “Jeff! Oh God!” as his limp dick started to twitch in response.

Jeff added one more finger and moved them around until the tight muscle relaxed a little. Then he lowered Jensen’s legs and lent down to kiss him. They kissed for a while, their tongues meeting and parting, their bodies pressed together.

Jeff pulled back and smiled down at Jensen, his lips puffy and swollen from the friction of Jeff’s beard, “You look so gorgeous, Jensen Dean Morgan,”

“So do you, my husband. Jeff I need you, I need you to take me, take me, make me yours, only yours, please, Jeff, I need you,” Jensen started to ramble and Jeff kissed him quiet again.

“You’re mine, only mine and I’m yours my beautiful husband,” Jeff whispered, then moved back into position, Jensen already pulling his own knees back. “I love you so much,” Jeff said as he opened Jensen once more with his fingers, then started to push his dick into the tight hole. Jensen grunted and his eyes filled with tears of pain as Jeff pushed inside, but then his body relaxed and he started to move his hips in time with Jeff’s thrusts. Jeff knew he wouldn’t last much longer, he had waited so long for this, and it was all he had imagined and more; Jensen was so responsive, so tight, so smooth and so warm. As Jeff sank deeper inside him and nudged his prostate, Jensen’s dick sprang back to life and bounced against his stomach. Jeff stroked Jensen’s silky length just once and he came, spurting over his stomach and Jeff’s hand, his muscles tightening around Jeff’s length and Jeff came too, both of them groaning. Jeff pulled out and collapsed next to Jensen, both of them boneless and sated now.

Jensen was sobbing and Jeff cupped his cheek with his hand, concerned. “Did I hurt you, baby?”

“A little…at first…but then, Jeff, I never knew,” Jensen looked at him in amazement “never knew it could feel like that, felt so good, I wanted us to be joined like that forever, I never felt so complete, so full…” Jensen wiped his eyes and gave a shaky laugh, “sorry I ain’t making much sense!”

“Oh sweetheart, you put it perfectly, God you’re so lovely, I wanted to stay joined with you forever too,” he kissed Jensen’s forehead, “thank you so much Jensen,”

Jensen murmured something that sounded like “love ya Jeffers” as he shifted so that his head was resting on Jeff’s chest and was soon fast asleep. Jeff carefully pushed him off and padded to the bathroom to get a wash cloth and gently cleaned his sleeping husband. Jensen twitched and murmured by didn’t wake up.

Jeff climbed back onto the bed and pulled Jensen into his arms. He had said it so many times, but he knew he was the luckiest man in the world to have Jensen in his life. He had been worried about their first time and hoped it would not be traumatic for Jensen and he was so relieved that it had been good, better than good. They were together, they had each other, the past was behind them and they had their future to face as a couple. He really was the luckiest man in the world. Jeff stroked Jensen’s hair and was soon fast asleep too, a contented smile on his face.

Chapter Text

Jensen was up onstage, looking confident and happy. He was wearing blue jeans and a black shirt over a grey t-shirt, with the sleeves rolled up showing off his golden arms. His hair looked almost blonde in the spotlight, it had become much lighter over the summer as he had worked outdoors. He introduced himself and the noisy bar fell quiet. He caught Jeff’s eye and smiled at him, making Jeff feel warm inside.

“This song is for the most important person in my life. I can honestly say I would not be standing here in front of you if I hadn’t met him. I wouldn’t have my own business or be singing for y’all. I love him so much and this song just explains how I feel, and I know it’s one of his all-time favorites too. I wish I’d written it. This is for you, Jeff,”

Jensen started to strum his guitar and his soft, husky voice sang the first line. “The first time ever I saw your face….”

Jeff was transported back to the day they had met, he could see Jensen standing in the garden of the house Jeff was viewing, and he could hear his voice telling Jeff the house was too big for one person. Jeff smiled, because the house had never felt big when Jensen was there. He had loved that house, because that’s where they had met and fallen in love, where they had their blessing ceremony two years ago, but he had no regrets at having moved to San Diego. Jensen had fallen in love with the place when they honeymooned there.

Jensen loved the sunshine and living by the sea. He loved to take Dean on long walks along the beach and Jeff loved to watch Jensen laughing as the dog bounded through the waves. Jeff found the architecture of the city and the coastal scenery inspiring and his paintings were selling well. Jensen’s landscaping business was thriving and he had his own spot in a local bar each Friday night. He did a mixture of his own songs and cover versions, and his ability to play almost any song made him extremely popular with the crowd, who shouted out requests and usually had them fulfilled. If Jensen didn’t know a song, he would listen to it and learn it to play the next week.

As Jeff watched Jensen, he also remembered that when they met Jensen had been resigned to life as his father’s unpaid help, whipping boy and sex slave. He could still recall Jensen telling him “I’m a few cents short of a dollar. My brain don’t work like everyone else.” Jeff hated to think what Jensen’s life would have been like they hadn’t met.

Jeff felt Misha’s hand on his arm. “Hey, you okay Jeff?”

Jeff had been lost in his own world and he hadn’t realised he was crying. “Damn, stupid fool!” He whispered in annoyance with himself, “I’m fine, just real happy. I can’t believe I’m crying like a big girl!”

“He’s wonderful, Jeff. You’re not the only one who’s crying,” Misha chuckled and Jeff glanced around, seeing several people wiping their eyes. There was a plaintive honesty to his voice and, as he reached the end, the crowd burst into applause. Jensen blinked and seemed to shake himself out of the mood of the song, giving everyone a huge beaming smile.

Then he took requests, singing everything from “Sweet Home Alabama” to “Romeo and Juliet.” Jensen ended his session with another song for Jeff, this time it was Jensen’s own song, “The Answer”, and once again Jeff found himself standing there with happy tears running down his face.

Jensen finished up and came bounding over to hug Jeff, then Misha and Vicki. “Wow, it’s so good to see you guys. Thanks for coming.”

“You look well Jensen, life in Cali-for-ni-a really suits you,” Misha said, grinning back.

“Oh my God!” Jensen noticed Vicky’s bump. “I didn’t know you’re expecting another baby! Congratulations!”

Vicky was enveloped in another hug from Jensen. “Thanks Jensen!” She said, her voice muffled as her face was pressed to his chest.

“Hey, put my wife down!” Misha teased and Jensen released Vicky to give Misha another hug.

As they made their way to a reserved booth away from the main bar, Jensen was stopped several times by people wanting to congratulate him on his performance. He had a smile and a thank you for every person and seemed to radiate joy to everyone.

“Wow, good crowd tonight!” Jensen grinned as he slid in the booth opposite Misha and Vicki and next to Jeff.

“They come to see you, Jen,” Jeff smiled proudly, “You’re wonderful,”

Jensen blushed and grasped Jeff’s hand, “Naw, I just like singing and I’m lucky people like hearing me,”

“You’re wrong Jensen,” Vicki said gently, “You’ve got a special talent. This place isn’t big enough....”

“It’s plenty big enough for me,” Jensen said firmly. Jeff was surprised and pleased at Jensen’s self-confidence. “I keep getting these people - talent scouts or something - coming and telling me I could be the next big thing,” Jensen grinned disarmingly. “But I tell ‘em all I’m real happy as I am, I don’t wanna be any bigger!”

Vicki laughed. “You certainly look real happy Jensen. And we have something to ask you both,” She smiled at Misha and he nodded.

“We’d like you and Jeff to be our new baby’s godparents,” Misha said.

“Thanks Misha, Vicki, that’s a real honor,” Jeff grinned at them both.

“Jen?” He turned at the sound of a muffled sob.

Jensen was crying, tears streaming down his face. He buried his head in Jeff’s shoulder and Jeff wrapped his arm around him.

“Oh God, I’m sorry, we didn’t intent to upset you...” Vicki said, aghast.

“M’appy,” Jensen’s muffled voice said, “it’s just such an honor an” I never imagined someone like me would be asked,”

Misha smiled at Vicki and Jeff, “You’re a very special person Jensen, and we can’t think of anyone else we would rather have as godparent, and Jeff too, although he’s not as special or as pretty as you of course!”

Jeff chuckled and squeezed Jensen’s hand and Jensen took deep breaths to calm himself down. He sat up, still blushing and red-eyed, “Thank you so much. It means so much to me. I can’t...”

Jensen started to cry again and Vicki joined him, cursing her hormones and they all laughed, even Misha and Jeff having to wipe their eyes.

 

That night in bed Jensen snuggled against Jeff and sighed happily. “We’re going to be Godparents, Jeff! Sometimes I can’t believe how great my life is, how normal it all is now. I’m so lucky to have met you.”

“No, I’m the lucky one.” Jeff ran his hand through Jensen’s short hair.

“I get scared Jeff,” Jensen said quietly, “cos I think it’s all going to end.”

“I’m afraid that’s a normal fear, Jen,” Jeff said gently. “You wanted a normal life and unfortunately fear and anxiety are part of that. Everyone feels the same and do you know the best way to deal with it?”

“I guess to make the most of now and not worry about tomorrow,” Jensen moved up so that he was looking down on Jeff, “So I say we make the most of now,” He kissed Jeff, “Right now,” He nuzzled Jeff’s chest. “Just in case we don’t have a tomorrow,” He grinned up and Jeff as he massaged the older man’s already hard dick. “Do you agree?”

“Oh my God, yes!” Jeff panted, laughing. As Jensen continued to nuzzle his chest and rub his dick, it was Jeff’s turn to sigh happily.

Jensen was his husband, his equal, his partner for life. After all they had been through they were together and making it work.

Jensen stopped and looked down at Jeff. “I love you, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.”

“I love you too, Jensen Dean Morgan.”

The End