“Jens, get up.”
Jensen grunted and buried himself deeper into the bed. He felt the bed dip and move, then a heavy, warm, object fall across his chest. He reached out automatically and felt long, silky fur. “Go away, Bandit.” He grumbled. “Morgan, call off your mutt.”
“Get up and I will. Otherwise, I'll let him smother you to death.”
Jensen growled, which only made Bandit growl back. He knew better than to push at Bandit, for as much work as Jeff had done with him, Bandit was still a street dog, and his instincts came out the strangest times. “Down, Bandit.”
Bandit did nothing except sigh in Jensen's face and then lick it.
“Ok, fine. I'll get up. Dunno why though.” Jensen grumbled again.
He heard Jeff give Bandit the exact same command, and then the weight was gone. Jensen pulled the covers off and fumbled to a sitting position, giving himself time to orientate to the room the way the occupational therapist had said. Hand on the bedside table, and he knew the lights were on, because everything was a lighter gray than the darkness.
“We've got an appointment at noon, and it's nine now. Enough time for you to get up, shower, dress and get some coffee in your grouchy ass.”
Jensen clenched his jaw, but didn't say anything. Jeff was doing his whole mother hen thing, and it pissed him off. “Where we going?” he asked, staying seated. He didn't know where the dogs were, he thought Jeff was behind him; he sort of knew it took him 10 steps to get to the bathroom, but he didn't know what the fuck was in his way. He didn't know a fucking lot.
Jeff was silent on the appointment front, which made Jensen suspicious. Jeff's hands were on his shoulders, and he was starting to move him toward the shower, but Jensen dug his heels in. “Jeff, where are we going?”
Another pause. Then, “Junior Blind of America.”
Jensen was already shaking his head, “fuck no! I'm not going.”
“You fucking well are. Now get your ass in the shower.”
“You're not my mother!” Jensen snapped back, “you don't get to fucking tell me what to do! I'm not a fucking child.”
“You're not staying around here and fucking moping. Don't bring your mother into this, Jensen. I'm not afraid to fucking call her and bring her ass up here to smack you.”
Jensen glared at where he thought Jeff was, jaw set. He was fucking tired of being coddled and taken care of. “I'm not a fucking child.” he said again.
“I know,” Jeff said, his own voice coming down from the frustrated growl. “Don't you think it's time you learned to be independent again?”
“I can't see,” Jensen snapped.
“And?” Jeff replied calmly, this time not matching Jensen's tone. “You're not fucking dead, Jens. Let's just hear them out, and then decide, all right?”
Jensen sighed, “yeah fine. Whatever. What am I wearing to this thing?”
Jeff chuckled, “anything you want, sweetheart.”
“I can't fucking see!” Jensen yelled again, his anger sparking again. “How the fuck am I supposed to pick out my own clothes, you asshole!”
There was silence and then Jensen was being gently pushed into the bathroom. Jensen growled again, but Jeff was obviously not engaging anymore. It pissed Jensen off even more now that he couldn't see Jeff's face and Jeff fucking knew it. “You're a fucking asshole.” Jensen snapped out as he pulled off his boxers and laid them on the sink. He heard the door shut and let out a breath. He wanted to punch something, throw something, and he worried about that. He'd never been one of those drama queens that threw things at lovers. He'd always been the one to get up in their faces, yell and get it out and then be done with it. He didn't like this anger, didn't like himself, but he fucking well couldn't stop himself either.
* * *
Jensen came out of the bathroom, having found the towel and dried himself off. “Jeff?” he asked unwilling to leave the relative safety of the bathroom and hating the fact that he didn't feel safe in his own fucking home anymore.
“Here. The dogs are in the hall, and the floor's clear to the bed.”
Jensen swallowed the automatic retort. He'd managed to calm down in the shower and realize that Jeff was right, he needed this. That Jeff was a good guy for giving him a kick in the ass when he needed it. He made his way cautiously over to the bed and sat down on it. “What are you wearing to this thing?” He'd wanted it to be a joke, a come on. Maybe he could distract Jeff and forget about this whole appointment thing. Instead it came out as if he was a five year old in need of reassurance. Way to go proving you're not a child, Ackles.
“Jeans and a button down. What do you want to wear?” Jeff asked and there was suddenly a pair of boxers in his hands. Jensen felt around for the front end and slid them up and over his ass. They were silk he realized and he raised an eyebrow at that but didn't say anything.
Jensen swallowed, wishing he could get some control over his emotions. “Does it matter what I wear?” he asked, “I can't see it anyway.”
He felt the bed dip, and then an arm sling around his shoulders. “You are the most image conscious person I know, and that's saying a lot. That doesn't change just because you can't see yourself.” He felt a kiss to his neck as he took a breath. “Think about what you've got, and lemme know.” There was a chuckle and another kiss, “as horrified as you are with my wardrobe choices, I promise not to let you embarrass yourself.”
That was it, wasn't it? He couldn't see, couldn't see how things fit and looked, so why bother? Why take the time when he couldn't see the full product? He was going to have to rely on Jeff and while he loved the guy, that was a terrifying prospect. To leave his armor up to Jeff, to make sure he put forth the image he wanted. “Ok. You said you're wearing jeans?”
“Yeah, blue jeans and that black button down you got me for me for my birthday.”
Jensen tried to picture it, but couldn't. Didn't really matter much anyway, he already sort of knew what he wanted to wear. He needed that armor today, his frat boy asshole persona. The one that didn't give a shit about anything. “Jeans and my mexican standoff tshirt.”
* * *
For some reason, Jensen had thought not being able to see would make dealing with his social phobia better. Instead it made it fucking worse! He clutched Jeff's arm and tried to remind himself that he wasn't five fucking years old, and he wasn't going to hide behind Jeff. They were used to blind people here damn it, and Jeff had promised that the t-shirt was on the right way, and he looked fucking hot. Enough that they'd ended up making out like teenagers and were almost late for the appointment.
Jensen took a breath and remembered what his old drama teacher had told him. That life was just another role but one he chose to play. While that had changed a bit, after all it wasn't like he could not play the blind guy now, it was more about how he wanted to handle things. So he took a deep breath, tried not to cut off Jeff's circulation in his arm and made himself stand up straight and project confidence. He could do this, he could and it was just one fucking appointment. Afterwards he could hyperventilate in the car if he wanted.
Jensen reached behind him and felt the chair before slowly sitting down. There was the momentary sense of free fall as Jeff's arm fell away, and then his hand was on Jensen's knee, squeezing lightly.
“Mr. Ackles. I have your referral from your ophthalmologist, general physician as well as the attending in Vancouver from the original accident. You suffered severe scarring on your cornea, which left you legally blind, is that correct?”
Jensen licked his lips. To hear it like that... “yes, uh, I can only see changes in light. Sometimes large objects, but only because big objects are darker than the surroundings.”
“Ok, well, I would like to put you in our residential program. It's an intensive course, that has house skills, braille, cane skills--”
“NO!” Jensen yelled, interrupting the spiel. He could feel his heart pounding and sweat breaking out. He didn't want to move again. He wanted to be safe, he wanted to be with Jeff. Who would make sure that everything was where it needed to be. Who made him get up and dress and asked him stupid questions like what he wanted to wear and where the dogs were. “No, I don't—no.”
“Mr. Ackles, the residential program really is the best way to learn. I think it would be the best fit for your circumstances. It takes away the distractions of an outside world. We have a fully accessible apartment--”
“No. No, I don't want to move again. I want to stay where I am.”
“Jensen's made it pretty clear, Mr. Trudeau. Do you have any programs that allow him to stay in his home?”
“Not at this time, no.”
“Then, I think this isn't the best place for Jensen. Thank you for your time.”
Jeff's hand was back on Jensen's elbow, helping him up. Jensen expected Jeff to switch it then, letting Jensen take Jeff's elbow or sometimes his shoulder so he could follow directly behind. But instead Jeff slung an arm around his shoulders. Jensen swallowed and realized he was shaking. He bit his lip, but waited to say anything until they were in the car.
Jensen took a deep breath, willing his heart to stop pounding. He clenched his fists and then let them go. “I don't wanna leave. I don't want to go somewhere like I'm some freak.”
“You're not,” Jeff said, starting the car and Jensen felt him pull into traffic. “They just want you to be able to concentrate on the skills you need, in an environment where you'll feel safe.”
“I don't want to leave.” Jensen said more forcefully, realizing he sounded a lot like a 2 year old.
“Then we'll find someplace that will let you stay home.”
We. It was amazing how just that one word let anxiety drop out of Jensen. He knew he was supposed to be independent, on his own. The brave blind boy; he snorted at the alliteration. He wasn't brave, hell, half the time he wasn't even sure he qualified as a boy with all his wallowing, but everyone that was still talking to him said it was normal. That the mood swings, the frustration, everything was perfectly normal, and eventually he'd get back to normal. Another snort as he thought about that. Normal for him. Normal now that he was blind. Not normal, normal.
“Hey, you with me?” Jeff asked and Jensen shook his head.
“Yeah, sorry.” Jensen said quietly, “just thinking.”
“I thought that was smoke I saw coming out of your ears.”
Jensen smiled wanly. He appreciated the joke, though he was still too keyed up to think clearly. Because now that he was thinking about it, he didn't know how he'd ever be independent again. “What am I going to do?” he asked quietly.
Jensen felt Jeff's hand land on his knee and squeeze. “There's another place. I wanted to see how this appointment went first, because they were so highly recommended by everyone. This place is too, but...” Jeff trailed off.
“But?” Jensen asked when Jeff didn't continue.
There was another squeeze. “Fucking hell Jens, you've been a bitch and a half on your good days. I wanted to wait to see how you handled this place. I just... look. I promised you only one place and when we left you were fucking shaking so....”
Jensen licked his lips and took Jeff's hand. “No. I want-- you're right. I need to figure this shit out. What the hell I'm going to do with myself now that I can't see. Let's--” Jensen stumbled over the next word but forced it out “see what this other place says. If they can... then yeah I wanna hear them out.”
Jensen heard Jeff blow out another breath and then the car swerved suddenly before slamming to a stop. “Jeff?” he asked.
There was a hand to the back of his neck and he was being pulled closer. Jeff kissed him, hard, want and need swelling up, and Jensen flailed until he grabbed Jeff's shirt. Instinct taking over. He kissed his lover back just as hard, needing this just as badly. When Jeff broke the kiss, Jensen was panting, but he felt his mouth stretch into a grin. “Fuck, Jeff. I'm going to have to remember to make you happy more often.”
There was a laugh, and then Jeff was pulling away, his hand shifting back to Jensen's knee. There was another squeeze but silence from Jeff. It was all right though. Jensen knew. He was going to make it through this. And he had Jeff right there every step of the way.
* * *
They had just gotten in the door of the building when Jensen's cell phone went off. Jensen grumbled, taking his hand off of Jeff's shoulder and digging in his pocket for the device. “Jeff? Who's calling?” he asked, holding out the phone and hoping like hell that no one was staring at him.
The phone was taken out of his hand and then Jeff's voice rumbled “Angela.”
Jensen shook his head violently. “I don't wanna talk to her!”
Jeff's hand ran soothingly up and down his back, “ok, but you can't hide from your agent forever. Not if you want to still work.”
Jensen bit back his automatic retort. The same one he'd been snapping out to anyone that asked. That he didn't have any work, that he wouldn't work, couldn't work. He was disabled.
“Hey,” another voice, lighter, higher and if Jensen was going to go for the trifecta of purple prose, brighter than Jeff's low rumble piped up from his left.
“You have an iPhone? You know you can set that up with VoiceOver right? Then you wouldn't need your friend to check the caller id. You'd just know.”
Jensen opened his mouth and then shut it again. He didn't know that and he wasn't really sure that he was completely comfortable with putting that out there. But, he reminded himself firmly, that's why they were here. So he could learn all this shit. “Um... not really. I don't...”
There was a silence, and Jeff gently turned him so that he was turned toward where the voice apparently was. “Youngish woman, probably early twenties.” he quietly said in Jensen's ear. “Really perky.”
Jensen frowned, not sure if Jeff was talking about her personality or other... attributes. Not that Jensen didn't appreciate... perkiness in women, it was just that he wasn't exactly in a position to appreciate it.
“What kind of iPhone do you have? Loads of people don't know about this so don't feel bad. For a company that has done so much for the disabled community they make it freaking difficult to find this crap.”
That startled a laugh out of Jensen. He had no idea what the hell was going on but he found himself holding out his phone as another hand took it from him. A hand that wasn't Jeff's. “This wouldn't be your sinister attempt at stealing my iPhone would it?” Jensen found himself asking.
There was a noise, Jensen thought it was from Jeff and then the disembodied female voice responded. “That's right. You got me. I'm after everyone's iPhones. The fact that I'm an Android user and their disability software sucks ass is totally giving me iPhone envy. I completely take advantage of our Wounded Warriors and steal their iPhones.”
“Wounded... I'm not a soldier.” Jensen blurted out. He wasn't, he had nothing on those guys. He was just this... moron that got himself blinded.
There was silence, and Jensen heard, “oh, sorry. I just assumed--”
“Abby? What have I told you about accosting people about their technology, before they've even gotten in the door?”
“Walsh!” Was the squeaked reply, and Jensen found himself back on his feet mentally. “He got a phone call, and his friend had to tell him who it was. I should have just let him not have any control over his phone? Seriously, it's not rocket science! I haven't even gotten into JAWS, and braille readers, and iPads and bluetooth or --”
“Ok, ok.” and Jensen thought he heard a touch of amusement. There was a pause and then “You must be Jensen Ackles?”
Jensen felt a momentary flicker of panic. He didn't know what this guy was doing or if he was holding out his hand or what he was doing and he didn't know what was considered appropriate. He took a deep breath, reminding himself that he was at a place that dealt with the blind, dealt with people like... him all the time. Then he felt a squeeze at the back of his neck, Jeff's hand. That was Jeff's hand. “Easy,” was whispered in his ear and he realized he might be shaking again. Fucking hell.
Jensen realized he'd said it out loud and that he wasn't the only one in the room. “Here,” Abby said, putting his iPhone back in his hand. “All set up, and, hopefully, I'll get to work with you some more.”
Jensen nodded, his head bobbing like a bobblehead.
“Why don't we go to my office?”
Jeff kept his hand on his neck guiding him with another hand on his shoulder. He thought he heard a muffled choked sound but he couldn't tell and frankly he didn't give a flying fuck.
“Chair, Jens.” Jeff said quietly, and gently let Jensen down into the chair. It was comfortable, not plastic, and Jensen found himself relaxing as he heard Jeff settle next to him.
“I would apologize for Abby, but she is a very good technologist, and a lot of people love her, especially the kids.”
“Sure... I mean, it wasn't a problem.” Jensen fumbled and then took a deep breath. Then another. He was just in a role.
“I'm glad. Jensen, could you tell me about what you're looking to get out of our institute?”
Jensen swallowed, what did he want? What did he miss the most? “I can't read. I can't... I feel like I'm chained to our bed because I don't know where anything is, I can't even pick out my own clothes! I don't know what's in my checking account, because I can't read the register, and the computer doesn't make a damn bit of sense.”
Jensen felt Jeff squeeze the back of his neck, and Jensen pushed back the tears. “I just... I'm not a fucking baby. I don't... I don't want Jeff to feel like he has to stick around just to take care of me.”
Another squeeze to the back of his neck, and Jensen knew that it was Jeff's way of saying he was sticking by him. He took another breath, forcing himself to get under control. For fuck's sake he wasn't dead.
“Jensen, it sounds like to me that what you're missing the most is your independence. Would you say that's fair?”
Jensen swallowed and nodded, “yeah. I never realized it when I could see... I just... it took me 3 days to figure out how to get from the bed to the bathroom without braining myself.”
“We can definitely help you with that. Now, if you're interested, we do have a residential program--”
“He'd rather stay home,” Jeff said, quietly. “We also have 2 dogs. If there's a program...”
“Not specifically for pets, but it's certainly something that the two of you will want to bring up with the occupational therapists. The goal, Jensen, is to get you independent again and build up your confidence.”
Jensen licked his lips, feeling the knot in his gut loosen a bit. “Me too. I won't have to leave?” his voice was small and he mentally gave himself a kick in the ass. Get it together Ackles!
“No. While we do have a residential program, and it does work for a lot of the newly blind, it's not for everyone. I think in your case, it's more important for you to feel safe in your own home again, than to have you move into a totally different one.”
Safe. It wasn't something Jensen had considered before, but it felt right. He felt out of control in his own life.
“We can get you set up with a technologist as well, who can help you find the best disability software for your needs.” There was a pause and Jensen felt his gut clench again. “If you have no objections, I could assign you to Abby.”
“I think that'd be fine, don't you Jens? You two were getting along.” Jeff said quietly. Jensen heard what Jeff didn't say, that he didn't get on with most people immediately. He tended to be an asshole, keep them at arm's length.
“Jeff, I'd also like to get you set up with sighted guide training.”
“What?” And Jensen grinned about where he thought Jeff was.
“If I'm being trained, so are you, jackass.” Fuck, did it feel good to grin and tease Jeff. It'd been too damn long.
“I—um... what's involved?” Jeff floundered and Jensen chortled. So Jeff thought it was all about him, huh? That he'd have to do all this shit? Now the shoe was on the other foot.
“It's a class that teaches how to properly guide the blind. I'll send you home with a pamphlet that will get you started on the basics, but we really do encourage loved ones to sign up.”
Jensen swallowed hard at loved one, but he wasn't going to do any acting. They hadn't talked about it, but it wasn't like they hadn't been in each other's pockets since this whole thing happened. Hell, they'd been living together for years, and Jensen hadn't been hiding it, but he wasn't exactly Adam fucking Lambert either. Fucking attention whore. So what if this guy Walsh had figured it out, it wasn't like they were exactly hiding.
“Maybe you'll stop accidentally running me into walls then.” Jensen grumbled, and he heard Jeff bark out a laugh.