It’s one of those days.
Nothing is going the way it should and Jared is running around the house like a headless chicken trying to finish incomplete chores…. …accomplishing nothing and adding to the clutter there is already.
Sammy is playing with mashed bananas in the high chair….using it more as a face mask than breakfast.
The pie is burning in the oven….Jared too flustered even to set the timer right or to turn it off.
He has forgotten to sort out the laundry into colors and whites yet again…. So the washing machine is whirling away madly with pinks and reds and whites…ruining them to oblivion. There’s a bunch of exam papers waiting to be graded in the study.
He hasn’t yet eaten anything and is running purely on black coffee and anxiety….
And Jensen is coming home.
Somewhere in this world a green eyed and freckle faced whirlwind has boarded a homeward bound plane…
And Jared doesn’t know what to do.
It happens every time.
Every freakin time.
When Jensen is away in some strange land fighting a battle that’s not really his but still very much his own…Jared remains strong.
Jared has come to accept it. Even in those weeks which pass without a single call but some cursory emails here and there, he never lets himself break down.
He understands the ‘perks’ of his husband’s profession more than anyone else.
Even if the cracks begins to show, you would never guess it from the face that he projects to the world outside. You would never know it from those playful hazel eyes what an impossible struggle they are going through.
But this tightly held leash over his self-control begins to fade as Jensen returns.
There’s a spoiled brat in him who loves Jensen to death and never wants to let go.
On normal days that brat is kept behind the bars.
As the last few moments of Jensen’s return become unbearable…that brat takes over.
He wants to scream till his voice goes hoarse and tie that lovable bastard to his bed to make him stay.
He wants him to accept any one of those hundred and one job offers as news anchors he receives every month.
Jobs..which are safe, lucrative and enables Jared to sleep peacefully.
But he can’t. Jensen will die without doing what he does the best. And that’s the real kicker.
Deep inside the innermost contours of his restless mind there’s a parallel universe at play.He lives and relives its imaginary scenarios every minute of his long days and sleepless nights.
Jensen dying in a freak accident.
Jensen abducted and beheaded by extremists.
Jensen killed in a landmine explosion and passed off as a minor fact in the evening news.
All of their tiny love-filled silly moments, beautiful memories , barely there touches, Sammy’s guileless joy and their shared dreams getting hushed inside a shiny wooden coffin and being handed over to Jared in the middle of a dreary impersonal airport.
Jensen’s funeral .
Every time Jensen crosses the threshold of their tiny home.. every time he hugs Sammy to his chest and kisses his forehead….every time he whispers “Missed you Jay!” in the silence of their bedroom… Jared wins.
All his chores and erratic thoughts are nothing but armors to avoid his worst fears. Ironically, it’s Jensen’s return that makes him lose his precious grip over his iron laden self-control in the first place.
A tiny giggle breaks his reverie.
“No..no..Sammy..no!” cried the hapless dad as his son dumped yet another spoonful of mash on his head.
“Baad dada baad.” Was the answer.
It may sound like gibberish to untrained ears but Jared masters in toddler speak. His son is trying to take an impromptu bath to help his dad.
“Its dirty baby. Let’s take a real bath okay?” “Diddy…babba…otay.” Answered his little parrot.
Sammy is the only thing that keeps him sane on days like these.
Occupied and exasperated enough not to conjure bloody images in a faraway unknown place. On his way to the toilet, his eyes inevitably fell on the bedside photo of Jensen… …green eyes full of mischief and promises.
Jensen’s coming home.
The cell rings around the midday. Sammy is asleep in the middle of the bed in his usual spread eagle pose and Jared is tiptoeing around the room to get ready…when Jared’s iphone’s eerie Fur Elise breaks the silence of the room.
“Hey Jeff! Everything’s okay?” Jared cuts the crap out of sheer nervousness. He knows that if anybody would understand his state of mind.. its Jeff.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is Jensen’s Chief of News Bureau and one of the most respected journalist of their times. He is someone Jensen has idolized from his boyhood days days. Even more than that, he is a childhood friend of Jensen’s dad Alan and a very close friend of the Ackles and Padalecki families.
Jeff’s wife Samantha Ferris is Jared’s departmental head in his university and a very renowned economist in her own right. This unlikely couple have been their rock through thick and thin and Jared considers them his family. Jeff is a man of few words and he’s not type of person who would call in the middle of a busy day without any reason.
Unless he has something grave to say that is.
“Nothing serious Jay. I have an awesome news….I swear!” The ecstasy in Jeff’s voice puts Jared at rest.
“Really?” Even more awesome than Jensen’s return? The inner Jared interrupts.
“Jensen has been nominated for this year’s Peabody Awards for the most outstanding news documentary!” Jeff gushes like a proud father.
“What?” Jared is struck speechless.
“Remember the one he made on Death Squads of Chechnya that aired in January…INSIDE THE CHECHEN HEART ?”
Jared at last remembers. It caused lots of ripples all around…Jensen and his channel garnered lots of fame. Uniquely shot from within the lairs of the separatist rebels of the war infested land…the news documentary gave them many things.
Jared doesn’t even want to imagine the sort of risks it might have involved.
For Jensen’s network it brought in soaring TRPs and rise in number of multinational sponsors.
For Jensen it brought even more risky assignments as his reward.
But all Jared remembers of it are the three days they lost all contacts with Jensen when he was in the Chechen capital Grozny in the middle of a civil war.
Jared spent those three days in his bed.. Sammy clutched to his chest…blinds of his room drawn to induce darkness. He had thought that his fears had come true.
And he remembers the gashing wound on Jensen’s lower back when he returned from his job.
“That’s great Jeff! You’re happy right?” Jared smiles. No one is happier at Jensen’s success than Jeff himself.
“Calls for a celebration Jay!! My boy has won!” Jeff guffaws . His joyous tone sets Jared’s heart at rest. But only for a second.
“And another thing Jay…Jensen’s return has been postponed till tomorrow. He will land at two in the night. Don’t you worry…I’ll have Cliff to receive him.”
There was a pin drop silence at first. Jeff frowned at the lack of answer from the other end of the phone.
“Ummm…Jay? You okay?”
“Its fine Jeff! I’m sure it’s something important or you wouldn’t have held him back.” And the mask is back on.
“Oh no buddy! I didn’t do anything. Jensen asked for it himself. Kept yammering about some shit in Baghdad. You can’t imagine how many strings I had to pull to arrange for the one day extension.” Jeff blurted.
Jared sighed. After all these years he didn’t need a mind reader to tell him that Jeff had a very good idea what the ‘shit’ was about. He just didn’t want to disclose it to Jared.
Lucky him. Jared gives a humorless laugh.
The good byes and take cares passed quickly as if in a haze.
Jared looks around the room, as if to find a mindless chore to do. He has to distract himself from what he is feeling.
It’s not rage.
It’s not sadness.
It’s not frustration.
It’s a mixture of all the three.
He has no idea what he wants. To stop Jensen from chasing his dreams and stay home safe….to send him off in his bloody assignments with the secret hope that this is not their last good bye… …
...to wake up from nightmares of Sammy not recognizing Jensen any more.
… or to fight with that stubborn, infuriating, lovable man who makes him crazy as hell.
Jensen called up Jeff and didn’t even bother calling him. He had something important to discuss. Something more important than Sammy and Jared apparently.
The hazel eyed man drags himself to the only refuge he can think of. He creeps into bed beside a sleeping Sammy and wraps his arms around the warm body.
His baby sleeps like Jensen. Sandy eyelashes brushing against the golden cheek. Lips half open in a hushed intake of breath. Hair rumpled against the pillow. Jared buries his nose in the sweet smelling baby hair and falls asleep.
“Oh Thank Fuck!” It’s three in the morning.
Jensen Ackles gently opens the front gate of his tiny home after waving off Cliff and Jeff.
They had dropped off Osric on the way.
Cliff ..they had been expecting. He had been informed about Cliff receiving them at airport by none other than Jeff.
But Jeff’s presence had kinda thrown him off. It shouldn’t have…considering that Jeff is more or less a dad to him, …but it surprised him none the less.
Both of them were dead on their feet and Jensen had to send them off after gentle admonishments of driving safely and meeting tomorrow. They were clearly tired.
Jensen had missed Jared sorely. He had been the one to receive him ever since he went on his first assignment to cover the Bali US Embassy bombings back in 2002.
It was the first he ever did.
While other journalists covered the ravages from a safe distance while preferring to rest in the luxury suits of seven star hotels, Jensen and Osric stayed in a cheap motel in the middle of a big market in Kuta district.
He had always believed that a journalist had to mingle with common people if he wanted to see the true picture.
And he did. He was the only one who interviewed the leaders of Jemaah Islamiyah, the terrorist group who masterminded the attack. He had actually taken up on their ‘invitation’ and had lived with them for a day.
The members of the group had contacted him through an agent. They needed the attention of outside world through a well-chosen member of western press.
Jensen still remembers his trepidation when he was taken to the headquarters in a blindfold so as not to reveal it to outsiders.
A lot of journalists were proposed…but they all declined.
All but one that is.
Jensen needed his first big break.
The fact that he had entered the terrorist headquarters for a major scoop, was effectively hidden from his family until it aired and created massive effect in the international media.
Yeah…he remembers . Jared tore him a new asshole over it. He dies every time Jensen risks himself for his job. Jensen knows. But he hasn’t been able to end his husband’s trauma.
It’s something he has learned to live with.
He isn’t really expecting Jared to be awake. He just wants to creep in bed behind him, wrap his arms around his warm body and sleep till next week.
Busy with his inner monologue…the hushed voice startle his approaching steps.
This is the first time his weary eyes falls on the lonesome figure sitting on the steps.
“Jay? It’s three in the morning. Why aren’t you in bed? Where’s Sammy” Jensen’s eyes widened.
“Shh! ” Slender fingers silenced the anxious tirade as Jared ushered his husband in.
“Everything’s fine Jen. Sammy is sleeping in the nursery…” Jared replies before taking Jensen’s backpack and placing it on their couch.
Green eyes met hazel ones in the overriding silence of the room.
“I was editing a paper.” Jared lied. He couldn’t sleep. Something didn’t quite sit right with him. He wasn’t there to receive Jensen.
And Jensen hugged him….
Soft lips met chapped ones and for the first time in weeks…Jared was home.
“Hungry? Want some pie?” Jared tried in a broken voice.
The inner brat wanted to be let loose. He wanted Jensen to account for every sleepless night..every stolen tear right at this very moment.
But Jared couldn’t.
Jensen looked so pale and tired. His green eyes looked so hopeful. Jared just couldn’t.
In a silent agreement they entered the bedroom. They fell in a comfortable slumber just like always, Jensen wrapped around Jared…his warm breath ghosting his husband’s nape. It’s as if they finally found the elusive puzzle piece that had gone missing…making everything complete and whole.
There’s still a lot to say. Maybe tomorrow.
It’s the silence that wakes him up.
Whenever Jensen’s in his vicinity..Jared’s always hyper aware of his presence.
He had fallen asleep with a comforting presence behind his back, holding him close to the firm chest. Its absence abruptly shatters his dreamless sleep.
“Jensen?” His voice resonates in the silent room and he finds his anxiety creeping in.But he knows where Jensen is.
Just as he had expected, he finds his husband looking down at their little son sleeping in the crib in the nursery.
Faint rays of the morning sun are creeping in through the window pane and playing against the chubby golden cheeks…making the baby even more angelic.
“Couldn’t sleep?” Jensen nodded. Jared wraps his arms around the slim waist and rests his chin on Jensen’s shoulders… …waiting for him to speak. And Jensen does.
“It was our last day you know? Hafiz had invited me and Osric over to his house for lunch.”
“Your local contact in Baghdad?” Jared interrupts gently. Hafiz was a local correspondent working for the channel.
Jensen nods and continues.
“It’s in a place called Sadr city. His house is besides a rundown building of war orphans. He took us there.”
“Jen?” Jared knows where this is going. He knows as much as Jensen.
“God Jay. It’s called Al-Noor children’s centre. Five hundred children…half of them maimed by war. All of them orphans...I couldn’t leave.” Jensen’s voice starts breaking.
“The youngest was three months. They found him inside a rubble beside his dead mom.” Jared closes his eyes as Jensen’s voice cuts through the silence.
“The bloody leaders use them as photo ops…they don’t even have two square meals a day.. and no dads to feed them…I..I..” All of a sudden Jensen turns around and hugs his husband.
“One looked just like Sammy..” he finally whispers .
“I had to do something for them. Called up Jeff…and got the permission for a documentary. Had been shooting for two days nonstop…gathering all the footage we need. We plan to send all the proceeds to the centre.”
As their lips met in a teary salty kiss…Jared finds his heart returning to a normal rhythm.
They turn back to look at their sleeping baby and Jared can’t hold it in anymore.
“Sometimes I worry that Sam will be one like them..” Jensen pulls Jared in a fierce kiss to shut him off.
“He won’t Jay. I swear .. He won’t!” Jensen will move heaven and hell to keep his family together.
Their eyes met. In a moment of silent agreement they headed back to the bedroom, fingers intertwined. There was no mad frenzy to remove night shirts for a frantic sex. They had passed that stage long ago.
As the two battle weary men stood in front of each other..breathing in each others air…Jared felt something break within him.
He can’t put his words to this feeling.
In the middle of a can’t breath..can’t fucking breath.. gonna die claustrophobic moment… a green eyed angel suddenly brought in a gust of fresh air.
The hazel eyed man let himself fall on the bed and close his eyes.
It begins with a kiss.
…and then some more.
Jensen wants to worship this beautiful man….and kisses felt like the only way.
His lips descend in an enchanting downward journey.
On the little childhood scar in the forehead. It’s Jensen’s doing. He was the one who was teaching a three year old Jay to climb a tree.
On the two closed eyelids. They are still damp with tears.
On the little mole above the left nipple…it’s his favorite spot in the world.
On the little angel wings tattooed above his heart.
On the dusky rose colored nipples…
On the caesarean scar on his belly….
This is everything Jensen lives for.
A pair of puppy eyes that had chained his heart so many years back. It is his home.
Quite murmurs and pleased moans filled the silent room.
Sated and sweaty…Jared finally let himself rest.
Their arms and legs are intertwined in such a way that there’s no way to tell where Jensen ended and Jared began. With Jared’s head pillowed on his chest…his hushed breath ghosting across his warm skin… Jensen still finds sleep elusive.
The poppy fields in Afghanistan are beckoning. The verdant meadows with flowers of brilliant red and pink hue hide something sinister. They produce nearly 80% of the illicit opium of the world and fund all the Taliban’s terrorist activities. The network wants Jensen to uncover their dark truths and hidden terror nexuses as his next assignment. He had been hooked with the next project even before he could reach home.
It’s a huge assignment.
Lots of money and prestige are at stake. Rival media houses in a ruthless war to gain viewers and higher TRPs...stuck in a battle between two faces of humanity.
Jensen’s network wants to give it their best… and Jared will be alone again.
Looking at his husband’s serene face, Jensen finds himself in a dilemma. The dried tear tracks and ugly black bags beneath the eyes leave nothing unsaid about the sleepless nights. If only there’s a way to follow his dreams and stay with Jared at the same time…and damn well he’ll find it.
He won’t let Jared cry ever again…