Jensen may be pretty, but he’s rarely accused of being stupid, and that’s only by people who don’t know him. He’d been planning on physical therapy as a career if the acting thing didn’t work, for Christ’s sake; that requires a damn master’s degree from UTSW. He’d had the grades, college prep courses and extracurriculars to get in, too. And maybe, yeah, he’s a little pissed at them for trying to hide this-- Jared and Jeff both. It’s an insult, and if he wasn’t so freakin’ worried about Jared, he’d have told them off by now.
The thing is, he’s worried, as worried as he’s ever been for a friend. He didn’t really notice, that first month when they were shooting the pilot, but looking back, he remembers wondering if Jared and Jeff had met before, the way they said hello. He doesn’t recall seeing any marks, but Jared hadn’t complained about the whole “slamming him into the bridge support” thing until two days after it happened. In retrospect, he finds it a little odd.
And now, getting ready to film the last episode of the season, Jensen's putting it all together, how Jared’s so happy when he finds out they’re filming with Jeff, but nervous too, like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He starts putting distance between himself and Jensen when Jeff’s around, no rodeo hugs, no big hands on Jen’s shoulders, not when Jeff can see, at least.
They go out together, the three of them, drinking or whatever, but if Jeff’s in town (which doesn’t exactly correspond to the filming schedule), Jared’s free time is gone all of a sudden. The duo leaves together, and early in the evening. Somehow he doesn’t think it’s that the two of them are off playing video games or watching football without him.
God, if that was all, if he just thought they were dating, he could be alright with it. Well, he’d probably still say he wishes it was him dating Jared if he was asked directly. Okay, maybe only if he was drunk, but no, them dating would be fine.
Anyway, it’s not about jealousy; it’s about Jared being hurt. Jensen notices while they’re filming “Shadow” that sometimes Jared walks funny when Jeff’s in town. It’s not quite a limp, but like he’s afraid to move too fast.
And then they’re talking about their lines one day, there at the end of the season. Jensen rests his hand on the small of Jared’s back and Jared jumps and hisses like a scalded cat.
Damn it, they’re like family, have been since the first beers they shared after the first day of filming. Jensen doesn’t feel the slightest spark of shame for invading Jared’s privacy, not a bit, as he grabs the hem of his shirt and pulls it up faster than Jared can stop him.
“Jesus,” Jensen breathes, trying to make sense of the welts and marks on Jared’s back.
Jared turns fourteen shades of red and starts to sputter something.
“He do this to you?” Jensen's uncle owns four hundred acres of land and a backhoe. Jen's already planning how to get Jeff to come down to Texas.
“It’s not like that,” Jared protests, and he doesn’t have to say please for every inch of him to be begging Jensen not to make a big deal of it.
“This isn’t right,” Jensen says, remembering Jared’s words coming from a friend of his back in high school, saying them with her eye half swollen shut and a necklace of fingerprint-bruises around her throat. “You don’t deserve this.”
“It’s okay,” Jared repeats, and then the PA’s calling them back to the set.
Jared makes himself scarce between takes but Jeff doesn’t. Sometime after Jensen gets the bloody lip makeup, but before he gets to shoot the possessed guy, he corners Jeff by the craft services tent.
“I need to talk to you.” He must look serious, because Jeff puts on his concerned-dad face and walks out with him.
“What’s up?” Jeff’s so damn helpful that Jensen wants to punch him.
“I fucking saw Jared’s back, Jeff.” Jensen had wanted to save the big guns for last, but he finds himself too full of mad to hold back. Jeff closes down, the open and friendly in him blown away with the wind of Jen's anger. “What the fuck gives you the right? Huh? Jesus, if you can’t treat him right, don’t be with him at all.”
Jeff--Jeff looks more thoughtful than anything. “So what’s your plan? What are you gonna do if I say that what’s between us isn’t any of your business?”
“Whatever it takes,” Jensen replies, and yeah, Jeff’s got a few inches and a few pounds on him, but if the guy throws first, Jen ain’t backin’ down.
“You’d make a fuss?” Jeff pushes, “Risk this job, risk Jared’s friendship, to get him out of a bad situation?”
“Yeah,” Jensen says, “I would.”
“Huh.” Says Jeff, like he’s more impressed than he thought he’d be. “I’ll get back to you on that, then.”
Jeff getting back to him comes in the form of a note. “Jared’s @ 10” is all it says, and Jen has a bad feeling, but he goes.
Jeff meets him at the door. “I talked to Jared,” he says without preamble. “He thinks maybe we should show you.” Jeff’s eyes are dark with warning. “I don’t want to see his heart broken if you don’t get it or can’t handle it.”
That’s just about cryptic enough that Jensen wants to run for the hills. Evenings that start with words like that? Never end well, but there’s no kind of hell Jensen wouldn’t walk through for Jared. No matter how fucked up this here is, if it helps him get Jared out of a bad relationship, it’ll be worth it.
He nods. “Yeah, okay, so--”
Jeff looks at him like he’s measuring him, trying to see the truth of him. “Come in, have a seat. Don’t talk unless you can stay civil. If you need to leave, just get up and go; the three of us can talk about it tomorrow.”
Jeff holds the door open and Jensen steps inside. Furniture’s been moved around, leaving Jared’s living room a big empty space with the couch along one side, chairs facing away on the other.
And Jared--Jared’s in the center of all that space. He’s naked, and Jensen's brain takes a second to process that. He’s curled forward, looking smaller than a man that big should. His shins are against the carpet, forehead and elbows too. He’s just as beautiful as Jensen always imagined, all smooth skin, tanning-bed dark and even, wide shoulders and well-muscled lines. Faded stripes mark him from shoulders to waist, like the shadow from Venetian blinds.
In Jared’s upturned hands rests a short strip of leather, a simple silver buckle at the end.
Jared wants him to see this, and it’s the only reason Jensen doesn’t storm in like the cavalry, put a stop to this right damn now. Jensen takes a seat on the couch and watches as Jeff walks up to Jared.
“Up,” Jeff says, and it’s clearly a command. Jared raises up, sits back on his haunches. His face is flaming red, and his eyes cut over to Jensen for the briefest second. His dick is rock hard, arching up against his belly. His entire body’s tense, like a guitar strung too tight and played too hard. Jen's seen him humming with repressed energy before, but never sitting so still for so long.
Jared offers the collar and Jeff takes it, just holding it in his hand for the moment. His other palm rests on Jared’s shoulder near his neck.
“I’d never invite someone in without discussing it with him first,” Jeff says, glancing at Jensen, but not locking gazes with him. “Not as a playmate, not as a voyeur. His privacy’s his unless he decides to give it away.”
Jeff takes a single step away and then paces a circle around Jared’s kneeling form. “He comes to me. He asks for what he needs. I don’t ask him. I don’t even offer.”
And yeah, like Jensen believes that. He’d like to argue, but doesn’t want to get kicked out when Jared needs him so he bites back the words and bides his time.
“What’s your safe-word?” And that, Jeff directs only to Jared.
“Tristan.” Jared’s voice is surprisingly steady, for as tense as he looks.
“And if I gag you?”
Again, there’s no hesitation. “I’ll have the squeaker, and I squeeze it three times.”
Jeff makes a little sound of approval. “I need to know what you need tonight. On a scale of one to ten, with four being that first time, and nine the hardest we’ve ever played, you tell me how intense you want it.”
Jensen's stomach does a slow roll of distress as Jared says “Eight.” But intellectually, he sort of gets it, he thinks. Jared can choose to make it a little harder or a lot easier, or somewhere in between. He wonders how many times they did this to get that nine up to wherever it is.
“Good boy,” Jeff says, and steps forward with the collar. Jared leans in as he puts it on, bows his head so Jeff can see the buckle for his hair.
“Collar’s the first thing on, after we set terms,” Jeff says, and Jensen thinks this is more for his benefit than either of theirs. “Last thing off. It defines when we’re playin’ and when we aren’t. When it’s on, it lets him know he’s free.”
“He’s not lookin’ real free from where I sit,” Jensen says, and he’s proud of how calm his tone is. See? All those acting classes, good for something after all.
Jeff slides his fingers through Jared’s hair, tips his head back. Jared just goes with it, easy as a giant doll, letting Jeff control him. “Every day, he’s got a million people screamin’ at him,” Jeff says, and something in his voice softens. “A million people to try to please. Network guys, his fans, Eric, the makeup girls, you. All pulling him different directions, all wanting something from him, and it kills him to disappoint anybody.”
Jared’s eyes close and Jensen wants to close his too, because yeah, he’s seen the strain sometimes, seen Jared put on his goofy smile like a mask when he’s been tired enough to fall asleep standing up. Jared’s always been there for him, and he’d thought he was always there for Jared, but now he isn’t certain. Maybe there was something else he just hasn’t seen.
“Here, he’s got just one voice to listen for, one set of rules to follow, one person he has to be. Out there, I’m just his friend; he doesn’t take my advice or get me coffee or call me sir.”
That tension in Jared’s shoulders is seeping out of him with Jeff’s touch; Jensen can see it in the lines of his body, in the way his neck moves smoother as his head’s guided.
“He’s not weak to want this,” Jeff says as his eyes cut over Jensen's way. “He doesn’t need to be shamed.” There’s a warning there, and Jensen shakes his head to show that he gets it, that he agrees. He’s not sure when this went from him telling Jeff how to treat Jared to Jeff explaining it to him, but no, he hasn’t heard anything he disagrees with yet, well except for the whole fucked up situation, but he’s not sure how to deal with that.
Jeff steps behind Jared, and he rubs his thumb over Jared’s lower lip as he talks directly to Jensen, a steady left-right slide and back, over and over. “He’s not a slut or a whore. He’s not a dog or a toy. He’s a person and he’s beautiful and he deserves something just for himself, same as anybody.”
Jeff’s voice washes over Jensen, and he hears, he understands, but he can’t take his eyes off of Jared’s lips. “He’s all a man could ask for in a sub. Responsive, obedient--if I was into boys, I’d have a hard time letting him go. I’d do it if he wanted, but it’d be hard.”
Now that gets Jensen's attention. “Wait, what?” Jeff’s looking right back at him, open and honest.
“I’m not gay. He is. I can get him by, but I can’t give him everything he needs.” He doesn’t blink, doesn’t look away. “Six years, and I haven’t fucked him.” Jeff’s thumb flick-flicks over Jared’s lip again. “Not this mouth, not this ass. Not gay.”
Okay, what? “Then why do you--” Jensen made a gesture to try to encompass all he’d seen, all he was sort of expecting to see. Some little hamster with an abacus in the back of his head was crunching numbers and came up with an eighteen and fuck Jared’s still just a big kid at twenty four; Jensen can’t imagine him at that age, on his knees somewhere with a fucking collar around his scrawny throat.
Jeff shrugs. “He needs it. I like the power; even if it’s not sex, it’s still a rush.”
Jeff moves just a little back while Jensen digests that. “Up,” he orders again, and Jared straightens, looking a little stiff from kneeling so long. Jensen sees Jeff’s hand, there out of Jared’s sight, ready to steady him if his knees don’t hold, and it hasn’t even been that long.
Jeff’s strong fingers touch Jared at hip and shoulder. “Bend over, present your wrists,” and Jared does, folding where Jeff touched him. He crosses his hands behind himself, lifts them so Jeff can see what he’s doing as he fastens padded Velcro manacles around Jared’s bony wrists. He pulls out a second pair, similar to the first except for the length between the cuffs. He fastens the second set around Jared’s arms, just above the elbows. It pinches his shoulder blades in, stretches his chest out.
“He doesn’t have to be strong at all when he’s trussed up like this. He doesn’t have to hold still or maintain a position.” He straightens Jared then turns him to face the back of the armchair that’s been turned towards the couch.
“Spread,” he orders, and Jared moves his feet apart. Jeff uses another pair of those Velcro cuffs on each ankle. On the second one, Jared makes a startled little squawk.
“Problem?” Jeff sounds amused if anything, not sarcastic.
Jared squirms his ankle around in the shackle and looks over his shoulder. Jensen catches a glimpse of embarrassed smile. “Leg hair,” Jared says in an exaggerated whisper.
Like a circus stopping for a rat to scamper across the center ring, Jeff stops whatever he was going to do next, bends down, and readjusts the strap until Jared nods and looks relieved.
And that? Something about the way Jared trusted Jeff to get rid of the not-fun-hurt, and the way Jeff took care of it, hits it home in Jensen's head, that Jeff does this for Jared, not to him.
Jensen tries to backtrack in the conversation, because he had a point there, damn it. “But why do you do it if you don’t--Jesus!”
It just took one little push for Jeff to fold Jared over the back of the chair. Arms behind him, legs fastened down, he’s spread wide open. He makes a little noise, not the “my hair’s caught” noise, more of a “my dick’s crushed against this chair and it’s a good kind of crushed” noise.
Jensen? He might make a similar little noise of his own, but he’s not paying attention to his own sounds at the time.
Jeff reaches down into the chair, out of Jensen's sight but not Jared’s, and his hand comes back out with this thing, it’s like a dozen foot-long cords, bundled together at one end to make a base. He repositions Jared so that is chest his resting on the chair, his ass sticking out, his hard cock bobbing lonely in the air.
The first thwap of leather on skin makes both Jensen and Jared jump. Pale pink blossoms on one of Jared’s ass-cheeks. Jeff pauses, then strikes the other one. He works at it until Jared’s making this soft high grunt with each blow.
“Every stroke should be over muscle,” Jeff says, bringing Jensen back into the conversation again. “It’s not healthy to hit along his spine or over his kidneys.” He rests a hand on Jared’s ass, rubbing the welts in.
“Hitting him in the head or face would be disrespectful, and there’s no reason I’d do this with a person I don’t respect.” There’s another of those looks, like Jeff’s waiting to be sure Jen gets it, so he nods to show he does.
“Hold it open now,” Jeff says to Jared. His voice is calm and firm, but not unkind. Jared’s hands shake as he cups them around the cheeks of his ass and spreads them. His knees look unsteady. Jensen wonders how much more of this he can take, and this is an eight?
The flogger flicks out again and snaps against the exposed pucker. Jared cries out, higher with more voice this time. He stands on his toes until he can force himself to relax. His hole quivers in reaction, clenching and pouting and God, Jensen's brain and dick can’t agree what to feel about that.
Instinct says Jared’s hurting so Jensen should stop it, but Jared needs this, and he can’t take away something Jared needs.
Jared’s crying out loud by the time Jeff stops, great heaving sobs like Jensen has never heard or even imagined he’d hear coming from him. He’s still hard despite what Jeff’s putting him through. His erection never wanes; it hangs thick and heavy between his legs, exposed.
“Shhh,” Jeff soothes, “You’re doin’ great, almost over.” He reaches into the chair and comes back with a small plastic bottle. He pops the cap and drizzles the clear liquid down the crack of Jared’s ass. One last reach into the hidden goodies stash brings out a clear blue butt plug that’s so big it makes Jensen's butt clench shut just thinking about it.
Jensen realizes that thing’s been in the chair the whole time, there for Jared to look at.
Jeff lubes the monster up and puts the tapered tip against the angry red skin of Jared’s hole. The older man’s focus is only on Jared now. Jensen feels like he’s purely an observer for the first time of the evening.
“Come back on it,” Jeff murmurs, bracing one hand behind the base of the plug and resting the other on the small of Jared’s back. “Relax for it, you can do it.”
And Jared shifts his balance, pushing back, opening himself on the latex tip. He slides down to what appears his limit, about half-way, before pulling almost off of it. He pushes back right away though, not giving himself a chance to chicken out. Three times he spears himself on it, each time deeper.
“Two more and then I do it,” Jeff warns. He’s been holding it steady, twisting a little but not pushing it in. “Just relax, let it in. You’ve taken it before.”
Jared lets out a sound that’s between a growl and a groan. He uses his two pushes wisely, going slow and deep. The thickest part of the plug is still not inside when he’s done with the second one, and Jeff’s hand follows him when he pulls away, applying steady pressure. Jared’s hips hit the back of the chair and the push continues. Jared’s body opens around it, wider than Jensen could have imagined, and suddenly he’s past the hardest part and it’s pulled into his body as he clenches around the narrower place before the wide base.
“Fuck,” Jared groans, the first actual word he’s said since that thing with the leg hair. He stands there breathing hard, head down, swaying a little in his restraints.
“You did good,” Jeff says, stroking his flanks like he’s a skittish horse, “You did real good.”
Jeff puts the little bottle of lube down on Jared’s lower back like he’s a table, pulls something small out of his pocket and sets it there too.
“You listen to me, Jensen,” he says, and he’s got that John Winchester voice on, gravel and gunpowder and too long on the road. “I’d never let anybody fuck him if I hadn’t talked to him about it first, if he hadn’t known what was coming and agreed to it. And I wouldn’t let somebody fuck him that I wasn’t sure would take care of him.”
Jeff’s eyes lock on Jensen's, and Jen's trying to figure out what the man’s saying, because it sure as hell can’t be what he thinks it is.
Jeff waits, and Jared, bent over the chair still, waits.
Jensen's still trying to wrap his head around it when Jeff reaches for a towel from the chair and wipes his hands off. He walks to the door, picking up his keys and jacket on the way. He glances back at the two younger men and reaches for the handle.
Just fucking leaving like that, leaving Jared tied up and plugged and with a -- Jensen looks again, to make sure he’s seeing it right -- a damn condom laying there in its silver foil on his back.
There’s a moment of silence when the door closes, and Jensen's on his own, or near enough that it doesn’t matter. He climbs to his feet, half stunned by the enormity of what’s been given to him. He reaches out, can feel the heat coming off of Jared’s rosy ass, but doesn’t touch.
“Jare,” his voice is rough like he hasn’t spoken in a month. “Jare, you’ve gotta tell me the truth. Is this what you want? Is this what you want from me?”
Jared sags with relief. “Please. God Jen, please.”
Not quite the explicit permission Jensen was looking for. “Tell me,” he whispers, hoping it sounds enough like an order to get Jared where he needs to go.
“Fuck me,” Jared says, and he’s almost sobbing again. His legs are shaking and Jensen can see he can’t take much more. “You. Need you. Please. Please.”
Jensen unzips his jeans, peels them off and kicks them to the side, underwear too. There’s a moment of disconnect as he unwraps the condom and rolls it down his dick. Like he can’t possibly be standing here getting ready to fuck his best friend. Like there’s no way Jared’s bound hand and foot in front of him with a monster phallus up his ass just waiting for it.
Jensen runs one hand over Jared’s hip, feels him shudder at the touch. The base of the plug is body-warm when he touches it with his other one. He gets a good grip and tries that slow twist-push Jeff had done in reverse, but damn, it’s held tight.
“Let it go,” he says, trying for that calm order. “I need you to relax now, Jared. Just give it a little push.”
That does it. Jared whimpers in his throat as the thing slides free. Jensen lays it on the towel and then looks back at Jared, looking for damage, some sign that this is too fucked up to be safe. His ass is gaping from the recent stretching, but there’s no blood, no broken skin anywhere.
Jared whimpers again, eager and needy. Jensen thwaps his ass because, dude. Workin’ on it, okay?
The sound Jared makes as hand connects with butt is nothing but encouragement, and Jensen takes a deep breath and slides on in. Even through the latex, Jared’s fever-hot inside, pliant and fucked out and welcoming. Jensen doesn’t think anything his dick could do would hurt after the blue monster. Still, he takes a few slow trial thrusts before slamming into that unresisting heat.
Jensen's not gonna last long, and Jared’s tight as a piano wire, still needing something, and Jen doesn’t have much time to figure it out. He pulls Jared up to lean against him, restrained arms against his chest. Jen uses one hand to pinch and tease at a nipple, while the other reaches down to wrap around Jared’s dick.
“C’mon,” he urges, “C’mon, come for me.”
That’s all it takes, and Jared’s crying out and ruining the chair’s upholstery. And fuck, he’s too beautiful like that, all wrecked and spent and Jensen pushes him forward because he’s not sure he can hold both of them up as his own orgasm washes over him.
They slide to the carpet together. Jared’s all knees-akimbo because his ankles are still strapped to the chair’s legs. Jensen could stand to lean there a while, but it feels like Jared’s been tied too tight for too long and his shoulders have to be killing him by now, so Jen forces himself into motion. From where he sits, he can get Jared’s wrists and elbows free so he does, gently rubbing some feeling back into them as Jared hisses and flexes.
Even though Jared could get his own legs undone then, Jensen does it for him; it just feels right.
Jared shivers against him and Jensen brushes the hair back from his face. His lips are dark and his eyelashes matted with dried tears. His cheeks are streaked and flushed and Jensen can’t remember him looking more vulnerable, ever. He strokes a thumb across the top edge of the collar that’s still around his friend’s throat.
“I need you to move to the couch for me, okay?”
“What?” Jared says, and Jensen can already see him pulling himself back together, trying to retake control of himself and his responsibilities. He couldn’t say why, but it feels too soon, like painting over rust or something.
“Are you calling safe-word to getting on the couch?” Jensen asks, slow and careful. He watches Jared surrender again, relax and just let himself be taken care of.
“No sir.” Jared might stumble a little as he tries to stand, but Jen's there to steady him and he makes it the few feet over. Jensen helps him stretch out on his stomach. Jared shivers again and Jensen just stops for his own underwear on his way to the hall closet for a sheet. Some spare healthcare stuff is stored there, and a bottle of sunburn gel with Lidocaine catches his eye.
The marks over Jared’s shoulders are at least a day old by Jensen's guess, so he covers them with the sheet while he spreads the gel over the more recent welts. The goop must be cold, the way Jared hisses and squirms as it goes on, but he doesn’t protest, and spreads his legs wider as Jensen strokes it down the crack of his ass and around the abused pucker.
“I need to know you’ll always tell me the truth,” Jensen says as he crouches beside the couch. “Whenever you’re with me, that’s a standing order. Understand?”
Jared nods but doesn’t open his eyes. “Yessir.”
Jensen runs his fingers through the dark, unruly hair. “You can call your word if you don’t want to answer something, but you can never lie to me here. I can’t--I can’t do this if there’s any chance you’ll lie.” It’s not until those words are out of his mouth that Jensen realizes he’s willing to do this again, to pay the cost to give Jared this release.
“I won’t,” Jared whispers, “I promise, Jen. I swear.”
“Okay,” Jensen replies. “Here, sit up a sec, let me sit down.” He’s not sure about it as he slides in under Jared’s head and shoulders. It’s not like they’re boyfriends or something. This isn’t about love (except maybe it is). Then Jared pillows his head on Jensen's bare thigh, and slides one arm between his back and the couch, hugging Jensen's hips in the huge circle of his arms and it’s all alright.
Jensen pets him gently, running his hand over Jared’s hair and neck, stroking along the edge of the collar. “Can you talk to me like this?” He asks, letting his voice go soft, almost hypnotic. He’s not really sure what he’s doing, but he knows he needs to understand this better.
Jared nods against his leg and Jensen asks, “Tell me why, how, this all started with Jeff.”
Jared’s quiet for so long that Jensen wonders if he’s fallen asleep.
“I hit LA really young and kind of hard,” Jared explains. “It was crazy that first month, auditions, meeting new people. I was young and suddenly there was all this pressure. I had played around a little in high school, and when I went to the West Coast, I ended up with this new guy who helped me get out of my head for a while. He took me to this party or club or something, showing me off, you know?”
Jensen remembers how those first weeks were himself, how much stress there had been. He doesn’t quite understand Jared’s coping technique, but he can imagine. “Mmhmm.”
“And I’m sitting there at his feet, half-naked, collared, my leash in his hand, and this guy, who was supposed to be taking care of me, is flicking his cigarette ashes in my hair like I’m a freakin’ ash tray.”
Jensen's stomach flutters. This so isn’t what he was expecting from the story.
“I’m askin’ him to stop. I’m begging him, and there were all these people and nobody was doing a damn thing.”
The day Jared’s talking about is six years ago, Jensen knows there’s a happy ending, and still he can feel the fear rising in him. So many ways this brilliant, funny, sweet man that’s lying on his lap could have ended up as another John Doe left dead in an LA dumpster.
“And then there’s this voice, like Johnny Cash on a bad day, askin’ ‘Kid? You trying to safe-word, or do you just like it when your master’s pissed off?’"
Jared chuckles at the memory. “I didn’t even know what he was talking about. Safe-word, what? From where I was, Jeff looked like he was about eight feet tall and serious as hell. I almost pissed myself when he said ‘That’s what I thought,’ and reached down and took the collar off of me.”
Jensen gets that, because it had taken a real righteous anger for him to stand up to Jeff about Jared. He can imagine being young and in a bad place and faced with a pissed off Jeffery Dean Morgan.
“He stared down my loser of a master and took me out of there. I thought I was so fucked.” Jared’s arms tighten around Jensen's hips at the memory of his fear, and Jensen strokes his hair, slow and soothing.
“He took me home and told me to go wash my hair, and when I was done, he sat me down and, God, talked to me for what seemed like forever. Told me what I deserved and that I should never accept less.” Jared sighs. “Gave me his number in case I needed him, and drove me back to the hotel.”
Jared’s voice is softer with each word, and Jensen can hear his exhaustion. “I called him a couple times, just to talk, and then there was this one night where I needed it so bad, needed to be owned, and taken care of and pushed outside of myself.
“He wasn’t--into me like that, but he was my friend, so I drove from Vancouver to where he was staying in Seattle and spent the night. We both said it’d stop when I found somebody who could take care of me in every way, it just never happened,” his voice dips to a bare whisper. “Until now.”
Jensen's not sure how he feels about that, about being the replacement. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Jared though. “Let’s get you to bed,” he says.
He waits until Jared’s under the blankets, safe and warm and worn out, before he unbuckles the leather strap from around his best friend’s throat. There’s a strange feeling of loss as Jared stretches and sighs back down into his pillow. He’s no longer in control, but more than that, he’s no longer allowed to be so intimate. He feels naked for the first time that night, awkward as he pats Jared’s shoulder.
“You uh, take it easy. I’ll catch you tomorrow.”
“Could you call Jeff for me?” And that’s totally not jealousy that stabs into Jensen's chest. “You know, since he’s probably still waiting outside in his car.”
Somehow Jensen's not much surprised.
“No problem.” He heads for the door.
“Jensen?” Christ, Jared’s like a five-year-old who doesn’t want to take a nap.
“Will you come to bed when you’re done?”
Jensen stops with his hand on the doorknob. The collar’s off. It’s more than a game, it’s more than a favor to a friend. Jared knows that; he has to.
“Do you want me to?” The words catch in his throat funny, and Jensen wishes he was wearing more than underwear.
“Yeah,” says Jared, sounding serious and not sleepy anymore. “Yeah, I do.”
“Me too,” says Jensen, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from grinning like a dork.
That flutter in his chest? That little glowy spark? He’s pretty sure that right there is hope.