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Kissing The Ex

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Chapter One

 February 19th 2016, Austin/TX

The morning comes too soon, Jared barely got a full hour of sleep in; he’s exhausted and too tired to move. Aldis stirs next to him, his fiancè’s arm a comfortable weight that’s draped lazily over Jared’s stomach. Jared smiles when Aldis inches closer, his warm body pressed snug into Jared’s side. When the man’s lips begin to search out Jared’s shoulder, up to his neck, he leans over, takes Aldis’ mouth into a gentle kiss. They keep the kissing light, hands holding on to each other. Jared initiates the next move, pulls Aldis on top of him and spreads his legs. His fiancé settles his long, ripped body comfortably between them and doesn’t stop assaulting Jared’s throat with hungry kisses. They don’t talk, they don’t need to either; a silent communication between them enough to see what they both want. Aldis fingers him open, his moves gentle and skilled. When he enters Jared’s body, they both stifle their moans, not ready to wake Jared’s son up just yet. When Jared comes, coating their bellies with his warm white climax, Aldis follows him over the edge and fills the condom when his own orgasm takes a hold of him.

Only when they hear Matthew emerge from his bedroom do they part, a smile lightening up both their faces. Jared cranes his neck, checking the alarm clock on Aldis’ side of their bed and he is left rolling his eyes. “It’s only 6 am.” He groans.

Aldis chuckles, a warm breath against Jared’s neck and only now does he pull out; knots the condom and gets up to dispose of it “He’s your son after all. Guess he can’t wait to leave.”

Yeah, his fiancè is right and it sucks. Aldis being right doesn’t suck, the part where his eight year old son is beyond excited to leave for the weekend sucks. It was a spontaneous and stupid idea to fly to New York. It is by far the last city on earth Jared wants to visit. However, what needs to be done, needs to be done.

New York in itself, Jared can’t deny the beauty of the city, but it holds too many memories, too many painful reminders. He hasn’t been in New York since 2011. Since he caught Jensen cheating and left without another word. It had taken Jared weeks to realize that he couldn’t possibly cross the man out of his life completely. No matter what had driven Jensen to break Jared’s heart, they still had a son, a son they both loved more than anything else in the world. It doesn’t matter how much hurt Jensen caused him, because Jared knows how much Jensen cares for Matthew, the son they wanted for so long after numerous failed attempts. Those facts were the reason why Jared sucked it up and dealt with their break up like the mature adult he is. Even though he moved back to Texas, he still made it possible for Jensen to come visit whenever his tight schedule allowed him to. In the beginning, Jensen flew in every other weekend, partially because he kept trying to apologize to Jared, to win him back. Mostly, though, because the man couldn’t live with their son being so far away. As Jensen’s job took over more of his time, his visits lessened. They never fully died down, neither of them allowed it to come that far. But sometimes Matthew didn’t get to see his papa for two months in a row. Jensen always made up for it, writing letters when their son first learned how to read and soon they moved on to Skype. Twice a week is the least they videochat and Jared doesn’t want it any other way. He enjoys Matthew’s happiness when he gets to talk to his other father. Their bond has always been strong and Jared doesn’t want this to change.

Jared doesn’t talk to Jensen, not much. Only when he actually has to; when Jensen books into a hotel in town and comes to pick up their son. Even after all these years, it still hurts to so much as look at Jensen. Their love was too deep to let such a harsh betrayal slip or be forgiven.

Flying to New York was Jared’s idea. After confessing to Aldis that he was, legally, still married to Jensen, he offered to fix this problem as fast as possible. Jared doesn’t know why he never thought about getting a divorce sooner; it never really mattered. Not until Aldis proposed to him.

Again, Jared has to suck it up and talk to Jensen. They won’t have to end up in an hourly long conversation, all Jared wants is Jensen’s signature on the divorce papers so he can fully move on and plan a future with his fiancè.

***

At the breakfast table everyone seems tense, or it’s only Jared’s imagination because he is equally stressed and nervous.

“Dad, can we leave now?” Matthew asks, stuffs his face with a spoonful of cereals. It’s the second time within fifteen minutes that his son’s patience is wearing thin.

“Your flight doesn’t leave for another two hours. How about you finish your food first and then I’ll drive you and your dad to the airport?” Aldis smiles at Matthew while pouring the boy another glass of orange juice.

It will never cease to amaze Jared how well his son and Aldis get along. If Matthew hadn’t approved of Aldis then they surely wouldn’t be sitting at the table together right now. Jared’s number one priority is and always will be his son, he is a packaged deal and after a few years of useless dates, Aldis showed up at his practice with a stray cat he found whimpering and half dead while jogging through the park. Seeing how Aldis obviously had a soft spot for animals, made it easy for Jared to know right away that the man couldn't be a bad guy.

“Okay. I wanna sit in the front seat.” His son speaks up, after gulping down most of his juice.

After they all finished their food, Aldis took care of the kitchen clean up while Jared checked his suitcase again, making sure he didn’t forget anything; the vanilla envelope with the divorce papers on top of his clothes.

Leaving on a Friday afternoon isn’t exactly a smart move, but Jared didn’t want to book a flight sooner, he doesn’t want to stay in New York for longer than he really has to. Friday to Sunday is more than Jared can take, much to Matthew’s disappointment.

***

The airport is crowded, masses of people blocking their way left and right, fueling Jared’s annoyance even further. There is still some time left before they have to board their plane and they spend the time by walking around the airport, checking out a few stores and treating Matthew to a small cone of ice cream.

“You gonna be alright? You’re awful quiet today.” Aldis asks, his hands holding on to Jared’s hips while Matthew ogles a few games in a store’s window.

“Yeah. Just wanna get this over and done with.” Jared offers his fiancé a small smile and hopes Aldis doesn’t notice how insincere it actually is. He doesn’t feel like smiling, seeing his ex is bound to make him uncomfortable, just as always.

“Well, told you to just send him the papers. It’s not like he’s got much of a choice. Sooner or later a judge is going to divorce you either way. With or without his signature.” Aldis tries to reassure him, tries to talk Jared out of flying to New York.

“I’d rather do this in person. Besides, he and Matt haven’t seen each other in five weeks. They can spend the weekend together and I’ll sit around missing you.” He leans in, kisses Aldis softly.

Shortly after, Jared and Matthew walk to their gate, Aldis waving at them from behind the security check. Jared is really going to miss Aldis, he will miss the man’s warmth when he wakes up alone in New York, he will miss cuddling and kissing and yeah, Jared really doesn’t like being away from his fiancé.

 

New York/N.Y.

Inside the hotel room, Matthew drops his backpack at the foot of his bed and goes straight to Jared’s bag, digging through the contents. “You looking for something?” Jared squints at his son in confusion.

“I promised papa I’d call him ‘soon as we’re here.” His son shrugs his shoulders as if it isn’t obvious.

Jared hears about this promise for the first time. Not that it makes much of a difference, because he himself had texted Jensen the evening before, saying Jared would let him know when he was bringing Matthew over to Jensen’s penthouse.

“Okay. Yeah, go ahead.” Jared gives his permission and grabs his suitcase to get his toiletries out, places them into their hotel bathroom and listens in when Matthew’s giddy voice filters through the air.

There are times when his son is exceptionally moody, sad mostly, when he doesn’t get to see his other father for a long period of time, and even the constant calls and video chats don’t seem enough. So, it’s only logical that a content smile tugs at his lips when Matthew excitedly tells Jensen that they are finally in New York.

“Oh. I don’t know, papa. I’mma ask dad.” Matthew sounds upset and comes into the bathroom, where Jared has just put his toothbrush into one of the wall-attached glass holders.

“Dad, what’s the name of the hotel?” His son wants to know, expectant look on his moss green eyes.

Jared is sure he told Jensen already, so it’s a little surprising that his ex forgot. Because there is one thing Jensen never does: forgetting anything. The man has the brain of an elephant and remembers details like he’s getting paid for it. Then again, he does get paid to remember details. As an anchorman, he sure has a bunch of teleprompters he can read most of the news off of, but Jensen wouldn’t be on top of the ABC News food chain if he wasn’t better than the others.

“Matty, you still there?” Jared hears Jensen through the phone and it rattles his nerves with a familiar tingle.

He swallows against the shiver and gives a short cropped answer, “Park Central on 7th.”

“You got that papa?” Matthews turns and walks back out of the bathroom, phone still clutched to his freckled cheek.

Jared braces himself against the sink, both hands balled into fists as his knuckles turn white. He’s squeezing his eyes shut, taking a few deep breaths. Why? The question plays like a mantra in his head. Why is it still so damn hard to listen to Jensen, to hear his voice? Jared knows it’s mostly because there has always been a Jensen-shaped hole in his heart, a part of him that can’t be fixed. Not with their son reminding him, on a daily basis, of what he and Jensen once had. Or, maybe, it’s because that it’s practically impossible to forget your first love; your first everything. Might be both and Jared doesn’t like it one bit. He tries to clear his thoughts, shifts his mind to the present, to Aldis. His fiancè who loves him. And Jared loves him too. He does, he really does. All he has to do is remind himself of that, of the impending wedding.

When he walks back to their room, he finds Matthew sprawled out on one of the beds, facing the headboard, still talking to Jensen. “But dad said he’d bring me.”

Jared watches and tries to understand exactly what they are talking about, but he can only hear his son’s side of the conversation.

Suddenly, Matthew bolts upright, legs bent underneath his butt. “Really? That is so awesome! I can’t wait.” His son squeals in pure delight and Jared wonders what this is all about, what Jensen said or promised. It must be something good and Jared immediately knows that whatever it is, Jensen will make it happen.

Then, Matthew’s shoulders slump, head hanging low on his chest, “I don’t have any ice skates, though.”

Typical Jensen, Jared thinks. He is probably wanting to take their son to the Rockefeller Plaza, the most beautiful ice skating rink in New York City. Jensen loves that place, it’s not difficult to remember for Jared. Even when Jared was five months pregnant with Matthew, Jensen didn’t take no for an answer and took him ice skating. He paid quite a fortune, too, so as to have a small part of the rink to themselves and without anyone bumping into Jared.

“Oh. Okay, that’s good. I hope they have my size.” Matthew keeps babbling into the phone and then cranes his neck to look for Jared. “Sure. Hold on, yeah?”

“Dad, papa wants to talk to you.” Matthew scrambles off of the bed and pushes the phone into his hand.

Jared stares at it for longer than comfortable before he holds it up against his ear. “Hi.” It’s the most he can muster to speak, no emotions, no actual friendly tone in his voice either. He has learned to be cold and emotionless when he speaks to Jensen.

“Hey there.” Jensen’s voice sounds excited, but it’s still quiet and lightly tinged with sadness. Jared doesn’t answer, waits for Jensen to keep talking. “So, uh. I wanna take Matty to the rink. I know you said you’d drop him off at my place. I’d rather… I mean, is it okay if I pick him up?”

Jared thinks about it for a few seconds and remembers that the rink is only a ten minute drive from the hotel. It would be completely pointless to drive to Jensen’s penthouse only so he and their son have to drive all the way back for their skating adventure. “I guess, yeah.”

Barely talking to Jensen is as hard as starting a whole conversation. Jared’s brain is all fuzzy whenever he has to talk to Jensen. Then, there is the whole issue with having to speak to Jensen to get the man to sign the divorce papers. “Listen, I don’t know what you’ve planned for tomorrow, but we need to talk.”

There is silence at the other end of the line as Jensen’s breathing audibly increases. “Something wrong with Matty? He’s… did something happen?” Worry layers Jensen’s voice and Jared gets it. A couple of years ago he had to call Jensen to inform him that their son had been hospitalized after an allergic reaction. It wasn’t life threatening, but the doctors wanted to monitor him for a couple of days to be on the safe side. Jensen had shown up in Texas only ten hours later, in the middle of the night, storming into Matthew’s hospital room like the apocalypse was about to end the world.

“No, he’s fine. It’s got nothing to do with him.” Jared doesn’t feel like elaborating this, not with their son in the room. Matthew knows that Jared and Aldis want to get married, they talked about this long and proper but talking about divorce under their son’s nosy ears isn’t going to happen.

“Good. That’s… that’s good. We’ll probably be all over the city tomorrow but I thought of making pizza with Matty. How about you come over? Around eight-ish. We’ll save you a small piece.” A light chuckle accompanies Jensen’s voice, knowing full well how Jared had always been ready to kill for Jensen’s homemade pizza.

Jensen’s cooking wasn’t always good, much less edible. But during their college years, when money was always an issue and Jared eating his whole weight in a meal, Jensen suggested learning how to operate a stove for more than cooking pasta. Their kitchen almost burned to the ground more than once, but eventually Jensen’s cooking was close to perfect, restaurant-worthy. Jensen’s pizza was a whole new level of food experience. It was to die for, to kill for. His ex never shared the secret of how exactly he made it and after a while Jared quit asking. Jared hasn’t eaten a slice of pizza in five years. Aldis can’t cook and whenever his fiancè suggests ordering pizza, Jared decides on pasta or Chinese instead. The memento is enough for Jared to end the phone call as fast as possible. “Don’t bother. But yeah, I’ll come over. When are you going to pick him up?”

He notices the difference, the disappointment in Jensen’s voice, and can imagine the smile leaving his ex’s face. “An hour. Maybe forty-five minutes.”

“See you then.” Jared hurries the words through his lips and swipes his phone to disconnect the call before Jensen has a chance to say more.

For the next twenty minutes, Jared busies himself by packing Matthew’s duffel bag with all the clothing and games his son might need for his stay with Jensen. Whatever Jensen has planned for their eight-year-old, Jared is sure that Matthew doesn’t need his Nintendo DS or any of his action figures. Nonetheless, Jared stuffs all of it in the duffel anyway. He’s completely off kilter, just the way he always is after talking to Jensen. He hopes that as soon as the papers are signed and the divorce final, Jared will finally let go enough to shut Jensen out of his thoughts. There is no room for Jensen left in Jared’s life, only enough to let him be the loving father for Matthew that he always was. Starting a new life, with a loving man at his side, is bound to bring even more distance between him and Jensen. It’s necessary and long overdue. Jared can’t and doesn’t want to constantly think of the past. It hurts and he wants this ache gone more than anything.

True to his word, Jensen knocks at their door fifty minutes after Jared hung up on him. Matthew races to the door like the devil is after him, yanking it open to throw himself into his father’s arms. “Papa!”

Jared is rooted to the spot, his fingers still around the soda can he was about to open. He watches, a small smile on his lips, when Jensen pulls their son up and into his arms, Matthew’s legs wrap snugly around Jensen and his arms hold on for dear life around his papa’s neck. Jensen doesn’t seem to mind, never does, and pulls the boy closer, nuzzling at Matthew’s temple and giving the spot a dozen kisses.

“Missed you, buddy.” Jensen whispers to their son, and if Jared wasn’t so drawn to the picture in front of him he would have not heard it.

“I missed you too, papa.” Matthew wiggles and lets himself be guided back on his own feet by his father.

It’s then that Jensen’s gaze shifts and his eyes focus solely on Jared. “Hi Jared.” He says the two small words, his smile fading and the corners of his mouth tugging downwards into a rueful frown.

Jared ignores the greeting, trying to pull himself out of the funk he can’t seem to ever shake when looking at his ex. “His bag’s packed. You’re all set to go.” Jared puts his soda can down on the bedside table and goes to one of the chairs, picks up Matthew’s duffel bag and walks closer to the door. Jensen is still outside the room, never steps inside. Even when he flies down to Texas and picks up Matthew, he never walks over the threshold, as if the action would burn him. Parts of Jared want to appreciate it, but a larger part of Jared thinks it feels oddly close to a slap in the face, a dismissive action. A stupid thought, really, because all Jared has done since their break up is be dismissive and shut Jensen down.

When he hands Matthew’s duffel bag over to Jensen, their fingers brush, the innocent touch barely there, not enough to have any kind of meaning, but Jared flinches anyway and pulls his hand back. Jared is way out of his comfort zone. This is Jensen’s turf in a city where Jared doesn’t belong anymore. At his house, back in Texas, it’s easier to get this always awkward situation under control. Sometimes, Jared doesn’t even mind hiding away, all while Aldis goes through the process of handing Matthew over. It’s easier this way and Jared keeps telling Aldis how he can’t stand Jensen’s presence, how his guts fill with rage. Truth is, there is no rage, no hateful thoughts regarding Jensen. But he can’t possibly tell Aldis that he is being hit with too many memories when he is face to face with Jensen. Aldis wouldn’t understand. Lying to his fiancè is wrong on many levels. However, he doesn’t want to worry Aldis or want the man to think that there is anything wrong. And there isn’t anything wrong. Everything is perfect, everything is fine. Except the part where Jared can’t get Jensen off of his damn mind.

“Okay. We’ll see you tomorrow then?” Jensen’s careful tone interrupts Jared’s mental rollercoaster of messy emotions.

“Yeah,” he answers, wetting his lips and swallows around the lump in his throat.

“Come on, Matty. Say goodbye to your dad and then we’re gonna go own that rink.” Jensen ruffles Matthew’s hair, long brown strands falling into their son’s eyes, leaving him no choice but to shake his head like a wet dog.

Matthew gives him a tight hug, smacking his lips to his cheek when Jared bends down. “Love you, dad!” Another tight squeeze is added before the boy finally lets go.

“Love you, too, Matt. Be good.” Jared gives Matthew a kiss on the top of his head and watches the two walk down the hall in the direction of the elevators.

An uneasiness settles deep within Jared, a feeling he can never explain and it always consumes him when Matthew leaves. In moments like these he wonders how Jensen is doing it, how he manages to leave again when he brings their son back after his visits. They both know that Matthew is going to be fine, that their son is in capable hands with either of his two fathers, and yet, Jared still feels like suffocating when the boy is gone for longer than a few hours. If Jared had ever given Jensen the time to talk to him, then maybe he would know if his ex is feeling the same, if he has to deal with the same troubles. Considering how much Jensen loves Matthew, it should be self explanatory.

***

He doesn’t really know what possessed him, or if he lost his mind, but the next thing Jared knows is that he is leaving the hotel. Outside, the temperature is down to ten, if not less. The cold wind makes Jared freeze even more; he’s not used to this kind of weather anymore and he surely doesn’t miss it. Before he realizes where he is going, the outline of Rockefeller Plaza is coming into his line of sight. This is wrong and something he never did before. It wasn’t even his intention to follow Jensen and their son and he still doesn’t do that. He’s just… taking a walk. A walk that ends up close enough to the ice skating rink. Close enough that he can make out Matthew’s bright red hat.

Jared feels like a creep, a creep who has trust issues. Of course, he doesn’t trust Jensen: as a man, as his ex, the man lost all privileges to be considered trustworthy. With their son though? There is nobody else who Jared trusts more with Matthew than Jensen. Jensen has always been a wonderful father, the first one to cry in sheer happiness when the pregnancy test showed a positive result. They had been trying to conceive for well over three years, starting when they were still in college. Knowing full well that it was risky, with all their financial troubles, they still wanted this to happen. Damn the consequences. The money they saved on food, thanks to Jensen’s increasing cooking skills, they spent on pregnancy tests and doctor visits. The shock when the doctors told them that Jared was mostly infertile left a dark shadow over their relationship. However, they overcame the saddening news and after countless conversations they opted to keep on trying. If it hadn’t worked then there were other options for them to start a family. Turns out, Matthew is the child they were meant to have despite the odds.

When the ice skating rink starts to attract more people, Jared can barely keep up with the two. But when he does spot them, he can’t help himself and smiles brightly at the display. Matthew and Jensen seem to be having the time of their life, they’re laughing like loons, chasing each other and landing on their butts more times than Jared can count. Since leaving Jensen, Jared has never seen the two of them together like this: carefree and lost to their own little world of a perfect father-son-day. Jared ignores the way his chest tightens when Jensen smiles so hard that the lines around his eyes crinkle deep, making his whole face light up. His breathing turns a little weird when Jensen wins the race against Matthew, the man’s hands thrown up in victory and the winter coat rides up to the waistband of his jeans. Jared blames the cold for his ragged breathing.

“What the hell am I doing?” Jared whispers to himself, shakes his head, stuffs his hands in his jacket pockets and walks away.

On his way back to the hotel, he fumbles to pull his phone out of his pockets and sends a message to Aldis. He should have done that over two hours ago, he promised his fiancè to call when their plane landed. Jared keeps the message short, lets Aldis know that they arrived safe and sound and Matthew is already with his father. He ends the message with I love you and promises to call in the evening. For some reason he can’t find an inch of excitement over the prospect of calling his fiancè. Excitement that usually always settles in when Aldis is on business trips and says he’ll call before Jared goes to bed.

Around nine pm Jared calls Chad instead. Jared doesn’t often leave his practice in the hands of a substitute vet, but as long as his assistant Chad is there, Jared supposes nothing too bad can happen. They talk for almost an hour, until fatigue forces Jared’s eyes to droop and he tells Chad that he will be back bright and early Monday morning. After a rather quick shower, brushing his teeth and jumping into his pajama bottoms, Jared ignores the two missed calls on his phone and goes to sleep.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

February 20th 2016, New York/N.Y.

 

Breakfast at the hotel wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t home cooked. Sitting by oneself wasn’t that pleasant either; he already missed his son’s loud chewing and chatter. Jared finished his food in record time and distracted himself with reading when he was back inside his hotel room. After a handful of pages, his phone starts beeping on the nightstand. “Shit”, he thinks when he remembers that he hasn’t checked it yet and now Aldis was probably worried sick.

Looking at the screen he was first surprised, then shocked, to see Jensen’s name on the display. Immediately, he thinks of the worst possible scenario for why Jensen is trying to reach out to him, that something might be wrong with their son.

Opening the messages, Jared finds two silly pictures of Matthew. One was taken at a park where his son made a snow angel, the child face down instead of laying on his back. The other picture shows a wrecked kitchen. The stove is littered with eggshells, flour and sugar spilled over the counter and there’s a bunch of fruits that look like someone tried to murder them in cold blood. In the center of the whole mess stands Matthew, wide smile on his chocolate covered face while he holds two thumbs up. Nothing seems to have changed. Jared has always been the nay- and Jensen the yay-sayer. Kind of like good cop and bad cop style of parenting. Underneath the picture is a message from Jensen: Teaching our son to cook. Kitchen’s not burning. Yet.

If Jensen doesn’t mind getting his kitchen turned into a battlefield, then neither does Jared. There is a strange giddiness building in his nerves when he sees how happy Matthew is. His son smiles often, but with Jensen it looks like there is an extra portion of happiness embracing him. Jared likes that. A whole lot. He wants to see his son like this every day. The meaning behind this thought goes deeper than Jared wants to acknowledge.

Jared pockets his phone, without sending a reply. Jensen knows he read the message, the two blue checks underneath the message tell as much.

He steps into his winter boots, pulls his coat on and heads for the city. Once he gets started, he can’t seem to stop and ends up in one store after another, buying souvenirs like a tourist and shops until his credit card is crying in distress. Jared has two hands full of bags, filled with gifts for his siblings, picture frames for his parents, dozens of clothes for Matthew and a new tie for Aldis. When he eyes the bags, he shrugs as he realizes that he can’t fit it all in their suitcase so he buys a new suitcase on top of it all. In the afternoon, his stomach makes a growling sound and complains about being neglected. Going shopping takes time, time Jared forgot about and didn’t think of eating anything. He stops at a fast food joint and orders half the menu, which he wolfes down so fast he’s about to explode.

By the time Jared finds his way back to the hotel, it’s almost six pm and the fat snowflakes coming down soak through his clothes. He shakes himself like a poodle when the warm air from the hotel lobby hits his freezing body. Jared knows he still has well over two hours left before he is supposed to show up at Jensen’s place and he spends most of this time in the bathtub. The one at home doesn’t allow him to stretch his legs; why he bought the house and didn’t fix the bathroom problem is still beyond him, especially now that he can see first hand how important a huge tub is.

Jared tells himself that he will call his fiancè as soon as he steps out of the bathtub. Thinking of Aldis, the man’s smile branded into the back of his lids, Jared lets his hands wander, roaming over his slick body. There is no difficulty imagining Aldis’ lips around his growing erection when he wraps one of his hands around the base of his cock. Jared’s other hand keeps playing over his abdomen, up to his nipples. He visualizes how Aldis would play with his nubs, suckle on them, the man’s dark skin a stark contrast to Jared’s and he pushes his hips up. The water splashes around him, his hand tugging vigorously at his cock, thumb brushing over the leaking slit. Closing his eyes, moaning out his fiancè’s name, Jared comes hard and fast, orgasm ripping through him, shaking his whole body as it knocks every breath out of his lungs.

Half an hour later, Jared is fully dressed, divorce papers securely hidden underneath his coat and he is ready to enter the cold again. The snow is coming down faster now, the heavy winds blowing the white frosty flakes in every possible direction. It takes him a few tries before a cab eventually stops for him. Jared could have gotten a rental, but driving in New York City is the worst and he doesn’t plan on driving around much. The only stops he has to make are Jensen’s penthouse and heading back to the airport tomorrow. With the weather going crazy, the drive takes longer than Jared likes and it’s already half past eight when he steps out of the cab, looking a little lost standing in front of Jensen’s building. Jared has never been here before. Five months after Jared left New York, Jensen informed him that he had moved. Jared still can’t blame his ex, he himself wouldn’t have liked to live in a house that used to be theirs.

Inside, he cards his hand through his wet hair, taming his mop as best as he can. Jared isn’t surprised to find a night manager in the building. He knows Jensen is doing well, his job paying him enough to send crazy child support checks every month. And, each Christmas bonus Jensen receives, he splits and transfers into Matthew’s college fund. Jared himself isn’t doing that bad either, but as a vet he can’t possibly compare his income to the mounts of money Jensen makes as a top five anchorman. The thought about Jensen’s job forms a smile on Jared’s face. Every day he has to record the news, ready for Matthew to watch when he comes home after school.

Jared himself tries to stay away from the ABC news, he isn’t keen on the idea of watching his ex on TV, especially when Aldis is cuddling up next to him.

Walking up to the night manager, Jared is greeted with a friendly but stuck-up professional. “Good evening, Sir. May I ask who I can inform of your arrival?”

“Hello. Yes, Jensen Ackles please. Penthouse 3A.” Jared rattles down and the man furrows his brows.

“As you wish. And… you are?” The night manager hovers his hand over the phone, obviously not making the call until Jared explains who he is.

“Jared Ackles. I’m being expected.”

The man nods in understanding and picks the phone’s receiver up, connecting the line. “Mr. Ackles, there is a Mr. Jared Ackles here. May I send him up?”

Jared doesn’t know what Jensen says at the other end of the line, but the night manager's face falls in something that can well mean embarrassment. “Of course, Sir. I apologize. Yes, I will make sure the day shift will know as well. Mr. Ackles will be up in a short moment. Yes, thank you. You too, Mr. Ackles.”

Whatever Jensen said on the phone, it was enough to make the night manager nervous and accompany Jared to the elevator. He motions for Jared to step inside and hits the button that will take him up to Jensen’s floor.

As he steps out and scans the few doors in the hallway, he realizes that there are no name plates on any of the doors, only numbers. Jared finds 3A at the far end.

“Here goes everything,” he mumbles to himself and hits the bell button. There is no sound coming from inside. Either the doorbell is broken, highly doubtful in a place like this, or the penthouse is soundproof. For a split second, he wonders if he could make his bedroom soundproof but then he remembers how out of line it is to think of his bedroom when he is standing in front of his ex’s door.

The door swings open a few seconds later and Jensen smiles up at him, his eyes flickering nervously. Perfect mirror of what’s going on inside of Jared.

“Jared. Almost thought you wouldn’t show. Come on in.” Jensen steps aside and Jared walks past Jensen, careful of his frame so as not to have any physical contact with his ex.

Jared takes a quick look around and is mildly disappointed that Matthew doesn’t show to say hello. He scans the penthouse again, but can’t see further than the huge living room with its wide open windows and a shiny massive kitchen to his left. “Where’s Matt?” He turns back around to face Jensen.

Jensen blinks, a few many times too often, as if he was staring. “Uh, he was dead tired and wanted to go to sleep. Like,” Jensen lifts his arm to check his watch, “thirty minutes ago.”

There is an apologetic tug at Jensen’s mouth, it’s sincere but doesn’t help Jared at all. “Oh. Okay.”

“If you want, you know, you can go check on him. His room’s right there.” Jensen turns to his right, pointing into a hallway with at least three doors.

His room?” The question leaves Jared’s lips before he can remind himself that he doesn’t want to have a conversation with Jensen. Especially with Jensen looking at him like that. Like Jared being there is something spectacular. Especially with Jensen looking like he does. With his stupid doe eyes that worked like magic in the past, with the top three buttons of his Henley open - revealing freckled skin and a silver necklace, his jeans riding low on his hips, with his jeans being too tight in all the right places. Coming here was a mistake, Jared wants nothing more than to leave. Being alone with Jensen isn’t what he expected and it messes with him more than he likes to admit.

“Yeah, his room. Fixed it up when I moved in. Thought he needed his own room when he comes to visit. Didn’t think it would stay unoccupied for so long.” Jensen rambles and shuts his mouth when he realizes that his tone was a little too pissy.

One year after their break up, Jensen’s parents called Jared, told him they were going to visit their son and asked if Matthew could join them. Jared declined and sent Jensen a bunch of angry messages. It was stupid, really. But back then, Jensen's parents barely talked to him or Matthew, as if they didn't even exist anymore. They were practically strangers again. The two cards for Christmas and Matthew's birthday all the contact they had. How Jensen thought it was a good idea to leave their son with people who Matthew wasn't familiar with, was beyond him. He shouldn't have lashed out and probably apologize, but he never did and Jensen didn't hold it against him. Quite the opposite, which surprised Jared, but Jensen replied that he understood and the subject had never been touched again.

“So, you wanna go see him?” Jensen asks again, shoves his hands in his back pockets and nibbles on his bottom lip.

Yes, Jared wants to see his son, but more so does he want to get the divorce papers signed before they burn a hole into his chest. “It’s fine. Let him sleep. This is your weekend and I’m only here because we gotta get something done.”

Confusion settles in Jensen’s posture and he walks past Jared into the kitchen. “Alright. What is it?” Jensen asks without looking at Jared, opening the fridge instead to get two bottles of beer out. He holds one of them out for Jared.

Jared eyes the bottles, contemplating taking it, but a thunderous noise rattles something outside, making them both flinch in surprise. Jared follows the sound and sees a bunch of potted plants flying around on the terrace, hitting against the windows. The snowstorm is getting pretty ugly and Jared waves Jensen off, declining the beer in favor of getting a signature so he can get the hell back to his hotel.

Jared opens his coat, pulls the envelope out and lets it glide over the counter to Jensen. His ex’s eyes keep skipping between the envelope and Jared, “what’s that?”

“Divorce papers. I’d appreciate it if you could sign them.”

Jensen’s jaw drops, his eyes impossibly wide and he looks like a kicked puppy, like Jared just ripped the floor underneath him open. “D-Divorce… papers?”

The man doesn’t look at Jared. Jensen traces the edges of the envelope, bends one of the corners and then pushes the envelope out of his sight, in Jared’s direction.

“Jensen…” Jared begins, wanting to ask again but is interrupted by a hurtful snort from his ex.

“Wow, you actually remember my name.” Jensen opens his beer, flings the cap behind him and it hits the coffee maker. Now Jensen sounds pissed and Jared doesn’t like it one bit. However, his ex is kind of right; he hasn’t addressed Jensen by his name in five years.

“Just sign the papers and I’ll be out of your hair.” He presses and shoves the envelope back to Jensen.

Without paying further attention to him, Jensen lifts the beer up and gulps down almost half of it in one pull. “Why?” He asks then and wipes away traces of beer with the back of his hand.

Because you cheated on me. Because you broke my heart into a million pieces. Because I left you five years ago. Because I wasn’t good enough for you. Because I need you out of my head. They are all the right answers to Jensen’s ‘why’ but Jared doesn’t voice any of them.

“You gonna marry Aldis?”

Now Jared is the shocked one. During his mental dilemma of building answers, the only plausible one didn’t even cross his mind. The only reason why he wants a signature on the divorce papers is because Aldis and Jared want to get married. “Yes,” Jared stutters out and the answer makes him nervous, shakes him uncomfortable and ties his stomach in knots.

Jensen takes another sip from his bottle, then faces Jared and the sight catches him off guard. The man’s eyes are wet with unshed tears and there is no life left in them. “Are you happy with him?”

The question is ridiculous. Jared wouldn’t marry Aldis if he wasn’t happy. But why is it so difficult to speak his thoughts. “He loves me,” Jared says instead.

Jensen ignores the answer and keeps staring at Jared with this empty look. “Does he make you smile?”

This is none of Jensen’s business. Jared’s relationship with Aldis doesn’t have to concern Jensen and he is quickly getting tired of defending himself to his ex. “He doesn’t cheat on me,” Jared says bitterly.

A tear breaks loose and rolls down Jensen’s cheek. He averts his gaze back to the envelope and pulls it closer. “Get yourself comfortable. I’mma read this before I sign it.” Jensen’s voice breaks with every word and it leaves an aching feeling in Jared’s chest.

If getting comfortable means he is getting what he came for, then he will do exactly that. He grabs the previously offered beer and starts walking through the penthouse. Jensen doesn’t say another word but Jared hears him shuffle with the envelope.

In the living room, Jared studies the many pictures on the wall. There are a dozen of Jensen with his family, even more photographs of Matthew and Jared notices that most of them are the ones Jared had sent over the years. Then, in between all the photos, are three pictures of him and Jensen with their son. And their wedding picture. This doesn’t make any sense. Not at all. Jensen moved into the penthouse after their break up, why would he hang their wedding picture on the wall? Jared tries to come up with an explanation but his brain isn’t running on all cylinders right now. He steps away from the wall, he doesn’t need any more reminders of their past. Jared takes a look outside the windows and what he sees almost scares him. The sky is pitch black, the snowstorm is crazily scary and it only seems to get worse as the minutes tick by. Hopefully Jensen will be done soon.

Jared takes a seat on the arm of the couch and drinks more of his beer. The penthouse is quiet, except the strange sounds coming from the kitchen. When Jared looks over, he sees Jensen with his face in his hands, rubbing his eyes furiously. This is definitely not the reaction Jared expected when he thought of how it would go when he confronted his ex with the divorce papers. Another thing that makes zero sense. Why does this bother Jensen so much? What did the man think would happen after all these years? It was inevitable, Jensen has to know that. Jared wasn’t the one who threw them away for a few minutes of fun. Jensen has no right to be upset about this situation. Jared should be the one crying.

“You almost done?” Jared raises his voice enough for Jensen to hear.

Jensen flattens the papers over the envelope and gets up to walk past Jared, his eyes glued to the storm outside. “There’s not a single word of custody for Matty mentioned.” His ex slumps against the window, his shoulder hitting the glass with a thud.

“Why would there be? Nothing’s gonna change.” Jared can’t even believe that Jensen would worry about something like this.

Jensen doesn’t move, doesn’t look at Jared but the man’s body shivers and it pains Jared to see Jensen so vulnerable. Jensen’s voice hitches, he chokes on his own spit before he composes himself again. “Don’t keep him from me, Jared,” Jensen almost whimpers, then, finally looks at him again. “I’ve already lost too much,” he says, turning around again and playing with his necklace through his shirt. “I can’t… Matty is all I’ve got left.”

This is worse than anything Jared could have imagined. He always knew Jensen didn’t cope well when Jared left; or didn’t cope at all. Jensen’s words show him exactly how Jensen probably still has trouble moving on. But damn it, this is not Jared’s fault. Jensen brought this on to himself; he messed up all on his own and Jared can’t be blamed for what Jensen did. Still, seeing Jensen suffer is painful to watch and Jared leaves the couch and walks over to the window, steps to Jensen’s side but keeps a respectable distance between them.

“I would never keep our son from you, Jensen. You should know that. When have I ever not planned my vacations around your schedule so you get to see him? In fact, it was me who suggested we split the holidays so we both get to celebrate with him; separately but on the same day. I never, not once, turned you down when you flew in on short notice. You know, Jensen. You know this.” Jared sounds desperate, he is awfully aware of it but he needs to make Jensen understand that, no matter who Jared is with, Matthew will always be a part of Jensen’s life; his son.

He watches how Jensen’s lips begin to move, words almost on their way out and over his tongue when a phone somewhere in the kitchen rings shrilly through the penthouse. Jensen snaps back into the here and now, wipes another wave of tears from his eyes and hurriedly makes his way to the phone without sparing Jared another look.

“Y-Yeah?” Jensen rasps out, his voice broken.

Jared goes over to where Jensen is pacing the kitchen and worry breaks out in his bones when his ex looks at him in shock.

“What are you saying?” Jensen runs a hand through his hair and over his face. “You’re joking, right?” Distressed is probably an understatement, Jensen is totally freaking out. “No, listen. I’ve got…” Jensen looks at Jared, bites his lip and continues, “...company and you gotta make sure we get a cab when we need it.” There is a pause and Jared still has no clue of what is going on. “Then get a different driver, hire whoever. I don’t care, alright? Whoa. No, you can’t lock it down. Are you out of your mind?”

Jared startles when, outside, the storm throws the pots of plants against the windows again, this time with more force, and upon closer look he can clearly see the terrace is completely covered in snow. The white powder already reaches up to a fourth of the window.

“Yeah, thanks for nothing!” Jensen yells into the phone and shoves it back into the wall holder.

“What’s going on?” Jared is starting to get a little antsy and whatever is happening, it’s nothing good.

“Bad news. The guest room is yours for tonight.” Jensen rolls his eyes, clearly annoyed.

“Excuse me?” Jared is not going to stay at Jensen’s place, not overnight. Not ever.

“That was Randy, the night manager. They had to shut the building down. No one comes in, nobody gets out unless it’s an emergency. Mayor called a state of emergency; the streets are already empty, no cabs, no nothing. This mess out there,” Jensen waves to the windows, “is not your typical snowstorm. It’s a freaking blizzard and it will only get worse. So, you’re stuck here for the night.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me.” Jared isn’t pissed, but he isn’t happy either. He remembers his last blizzard in New York in early 2009; it ruined half of their roof and they had no electricity for three days. It sucked badly, especially when Matthew was barely out of diapers and cried all night because he was so scared of all the threatening noises. What Jared also remembers is that they had a radio in the garage that ran on batteries, an old piece from their college days. Jared had gone outside to go grab it and he was knocked on his ass by the storm hitting him full force. He came back into the house, bruises blooming and radio booming. The news on the radio warned everyone against leaving their homes. Stay put and don’t panic. If the current blizzard is only half as bad as seven years ago, then Jared has no choice. “This sucks.”

“Thank god this isn’t the top floor.” Jensen says then, a smirk covering his lips. “I’m so not in the mood for tons of buckets of water pouring in from a broken roof.”

Jared can’t help himself but chuckle at the fact that, obviously, Jensen is running through the same memories.

“Well, let me close those outside blinds and then I’ll show you to the guest room.”

Nodding is all Jared is capable of, he is still too taken by the change of events. For a short moment, he thinks about calling Aldis, letting him know that he is okay, in case his fiancè is watching the news. Eventually, Jared decides against it, he is definitely not in the right mindset to talk to Aldis. However, he sends off a quick text message to let his fiancè know that he is okay. He can't deal with the emotional strain of an actual phone call right now. He will have a lot of apologizing to do for all the missed calls and unanswered text messages. Outside, the blizzard is growing into a brutal blast. Suddenly, a sharp crack echoes through the living room, an earsplitting noise of breaking glass pierces in Jared’s ears and when he turns to locate the sound, finding Jensen lying on the floor in front of the windows. The man’s body is hunched down, a metal chair covering his form and the snow blowing in through a broken window. Without a second thought, Jared all but jumps to Jensen, yanks the chair away and tries to figure out how to work the outside blinds. He looks back down at Jensen, finding him holding a remote in his hand and Jared pulls it out, clicks a few buttons and finally the blinds begin to roll down.

“Jesus Christ,” Jared hisses as the storm blows through the broken window. Jensen’s hand is covered in blood, probably from the glass flying in, and Jared steps around, settling himself between the open window and Jensen. “Hey. You okay?”

“Uh.. y-yeah,” Jensen hisses and when his hand starts shaking he lifts it up to take a closer look. “Hell no.”

Jensen’s eyes almost roll back into his head and Jared grabs for the man’s shoulders, shaking him a little. “Whoa. Don’t you pass out,” Jared warns and slaps him in the face. Then, when Jensen is still not paying attention, Jared takes some of the snow that was blown in when the window broke, and presses it against the back of Jensen’s neck.

Jensen and blood is a terrible combination, the man is the worst hemophobe Jared knows. When Jared gave birth to Matthew and the first drop of blood showed, Jensen passed out. He hit his head so bad he had a mild concussion. Jared had warned him, told him not to look, but Jensen was too curious and wanted to see. He came to ten minutes later but passed right out again. If Jared hadn’t been in too much pain, he would have laughed.

Now though, he doesn’t find it comical in the slightest. Jensen is hurt and the amount of blood running from the man’s hand is alarming. When Jensen opens his eyes again, Jared pulls him into a sitting position and holds Jensen’s head up with a strong hand on his jaw. “Don’t look,” Jared warns again and holds Jensen’s gaze.

The blinds are fully closed now and Jared scans the room, searches for anything that he could use to cover Jensen’s hand with.

“‘s it bad?” Jensen drawls, his head lolls until his eyes focus on something behind Jared when he loosens his grip from the man’s jaw.

“Not sure. I’ll have to check. You got a first aid kit?”

“Bathroom.” Jensen says then.

“Alright. Let’s get you off the floor and then I’ll take a look at your hand.” Jared helps Jensen up and makes sure Jensen’s eyes don’t wander to the gaping wound on his palm.

Once Jensen is on the couch, Jared grabs one of the many pillows, puts Jensen’s hand in the man’s lap and covers the hand with the pillow. “I’ll be right back. Eyes ahead. You hear me?” He waits until Jensen nods before Jared sprints off in search for the bathroom.

The first door in the hallway is Matthew’s room, on the door is a wooden plate with their son’s name engraved. Jared smiles at the cuteness of it and he prays that Matthew doesn’t wake up, but so far, the only real troubling noise was the breaking window. Their son probably didn’t even hear a peep.

Jared checks the next door. He swings the door open, the room is dimly lit, but there is no mistaking that this is Jensen’s bedroom. Jared knows he should hurry up and close the door but there are two pictures on the right nightstand that catch his eye. Without thinking of his actions, Jared steps inside the room, sits down on the bed and picks up a photograph he himself took of Matthew and he, around one year ago and he has absolutely no clue how Jensen got a hold of that picture. Jared definitely didn’t send it to Jensen, he never gave Jensen any pictures where he was part of them. Then, he looks at the second frame, a photo Jensen took. It’s another picture of Jared and Matthew, from Christmas morning 2010 when their lives were still perfect, when they were still a happy family. Jared feels the tears prickling, his walls crumbling and at the same time he wants to scream in frustration. “Why? You stupid idiot.” Jared whispers and is once again crippled with the unfairness of Jensen’s betrayal. More than anything Jared always wanted to know why Jensen cheated on him, with a woman of all people, and even now Jared harbors this question, a constant in his mind. But as always, he shuts this one specific question out, surely he won’t be able to handle the truth. Whatever Jared did that pushed Jensen into the arms of another person, he still believes they could have talked about it, talked about whatever problem they had to not let it come that far.

Collecting himself again and breathing through the growing ache in his heart, Jared puts the picture back on the nightstand and checks the next door. The guestroom. He closes the door and goes into the last room. Finally. He rummages through the cabinets and drawers until he finds the first aid kit and a small bottle of sanitizer.

Back in the living room, Jensen is still where he left him, the man’s head resting on the back of the couch. “You still alive?”

“I’m good.” Jensen rolls his head to look at Jared and he almost fooled him. Jensen is anything but okay, his face is ashen and his eyes glassy. Not good.

Jared hurries in front of Jensen and sits down on the coffee table, pulls the pillow away and takes Jensen’s hand in his own. “Shit.” The cut is deep and there are still a couple of glass shards inside the wound. “Hate to break it to you, but I need tweezers and a sewing kit. With what’s going on outside I’m sure any ER is packed and it’ll take hours until a doctor can look at your hand. This definitely needs to be stitched. Guess I’ll have to do it.”

Jensen lifts his head up, eyes shockingly wide open as he stares at him, “you’re a vet not a physician.”

“Potato, Po-tah-toe. You wanna bleed out?” Jared raises a daring eyebrow.

“You stitch up pets, not humans. I’ll just bleed out.” Jensen lets his head fall back on the couch.

“I stitch up species with bones, flesh and skin. There’s not much difference. So stop being a damn baby and let me help you. Now, you got a needle?” Jared presses again while still holding on to Jensen’s hand.

Jensen seems to consider him for a moment, but when the pain in his hand becomes too much he nods, “kitchen.”

Again, Jared has to look through countless drawers until he finds a sewing kit. After another look around, Jared yanks the freezer open and finds a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Jensen and he always had a bottle or two of something strong in the freezer. An awkward feeling creeps through Jared’s bones, after all this time, he still knows way too much about his ex. Another fast sprint back into the bathroom and Jared finds a pair of tweezers. Another grab and Jared has a dark towel in his hands as well.

Jared sanitizes the tweezers and sets them on the towel in Jensen’s lap. “This’ gonna hurt like a bitch. Drink up.” Jared hands Jensen the bottle of Jack and then begins to pull the few glass shards out of the wound.

“Fuck!” Jensen almost jumps off the couch, but Jared pushes him back down. He rests Jensen’s hand on the towel in Jensen’s lap and braces his own elbows on Jensen’s knees. It’s more physical contact than he ever wanted to happen between them again, but the man needs medical attention and therefore Jared has to get over his emotions and tend to Jensen’s wound. He keeps telling himself that he doesn’t enjoy the fact that Jensen needs him.

When the wound is as good as cleaned, all glass shards pulled out, Jared sanitizes the wound again and prepares the needle and some thread. The thread is anything but perfect, but it will have to do for now. “Here we go.” Jared says and waits for Jensen to take another long gulp of Jack before he pushes the needle through the first layer of skin, then the next. He knows Jensen is in quite some pain, the inside of one’s hand is too sensitive and usually stitches like these aren’t given without a shot of anesthetization to numb the area needing to be treated. Jensen hangs in there and tries to mask the pain.

Three stitches in and a fourth cup of the Jack gone, Jared can feel Jensen’s eyes on him. He ignores the sensation and pushes the needle through Jensen’s palm a fourth time.

“Jay…” Jensen hushes in a long breath.

Jared’s hands begin to shake at the nickname. Nobody but Jensen ever called him that and he doesn’t like being dragged into thoughts of a past where he loved being called that. “Don’t.” His voice is harsh and he feels his throat constricting.

“I didn’t…” Jensen speaks up again, gulps audibly and throws his head back on the couch. “I did, obviously. But I didn’t want to, told her to leave me alone.” Jensen chokes on a sob when the words leave his lips and Jared’s hand slips, the needle going straight into the wound, forcing Jensen to yelp in pain.

After recovering from the sudden abuse to his hand, Jensen keeps going, his voice weak and miserable. “Turned her down every time she came on to me. Said my husband’s the only one gettin’ a piece of that fine ass.”

Jared was wrong, he really didn’t want to hear it. He still doesn’t want to hear it and he breathes through the tears that are about to break free. His vision is already blurry and he can’t do this. He can’t listen to Jensen explain why Jared had to leave him. “Shut up.” Jared grits his teeth so hard that his jaw begins to ache and he blinks his tears away, focusing back on fixing Jensen’s palm.

“You never asked,” Jensen slurs, keeps on talking and Jared wants to rip his damn hand off. “The truth doesn’t make a difference.” His ex’s head falls forward until his chin‘s resting on his chest. Jared looks up then, sees the tears streaming down Jensen’s face and his hands still, the needle halfway through the flesh. Jared doesn’t know what exactly Jensen is talking about. Truth, difference. It makes no sense whatsoever. Because the truth is a clear fact: Jensen had sex with someone other than him.

“Poppers.” A snort builds deep in Jensen’s throat, pushing out through his nose as he squeezes his eyes shut, forcing more tears to roll down his face. “Bitch slipped them in my drink.”

Jared changes his mind in a matter of seconds. Now he wants to hear this. This is new and the state Jensen is in, he can’t find anything but honesty in the man’s words. Jared is frozen to the spot, his hands still not moving and he keeps his eyes on Jensen, doesn’t interrupt him, doesn’t want to disturb the man’s thoughts and sits waiting, waiting for Jensen to talk again.

“Didn’t know what was happening. Thought I was with you.” Jensen, still trying, fruitlessly to fight against his tears, looks up at Jared then, his eyes looking all empty again; soulless. “Only saw you when I… fucked her. And then… then you stood there, saw me. And I saw you. Until then I didn’t realize I wasn’t with you. Wanted to kill her. I was ready to kill her for ruining my life, for taking you from me.”

Jared is floored, his blood is running hot and cold, his insides twisting and he is dizzy from Jensen’s ramble. His brain is running a mile a minute but manages to remember what medical school taught him about the drugs Jensen mentioned and he feels like puking; like suffocating, like dying. Jared searches, far in the depths of his memory, tries to remember the moment he walked in on Jensen and that woman. It was a party ABC hosted. Hundreds of people, drunk and high on drugs. Jared had waited at home for the babysitter to show up and he was two hours late for the party. He couldn’t find Jensen, asked around but nobody knew where his husband was. Jared kept on looking and searched every room, every hallway at the studios. There were moans, loud and shrill, echoing through a closed door. Jared knew what he was going to see before he yanked the door open, heard Jensen groaning and screaming. He stumbled inside, heart beating out of his chest and his world collapsed when Jensen turned and stared at him. His eyes almost popped out of his sockets, his gaze fixed on Jared, like a mirage appearing right in front of him. Jensen wasn’t shocked about being caught cheating, he was in disbelief, questioning his own sanity, questioning how Jared could be at the door when he was supposed to be right there with Jensen. Jared remembers the way Jensen’s eyes kept darting back and forth, between that woman and Jared, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to make sense of the situation.

He wants to yell at Jensen, wants to know why the man never told him the truth. If Jared had known that Jensen didn’t hurt him, didn’t want to hurt him, how different would their lives be now? Jared never gave Jensen a chance to explain or allowed the man to be alone with him for longer than one minute. Jared didn’t want to hear it nor did he want to listen. Every time Jensen tried to talk to him, he probably wanted to tell Jared exactly this, how it really happened. It all makes perfect sense now. Jensen’s behavior finally makes sense. The reaction to the divorce papers, all these photos of them still decorating Jensen’s home. Jensen never let go. Even more so, Jensen never gave up hope.

Jensen breaks their eye contact, throws his head back onto the couch and sniffles through his meltdown. “I got her fired and ruined her career. Didn’t gimme much satisfaction; you were already gone. Doesn’t matter if the bitch drugged me, I was still a bastard who cheated on the love of his life.”

It’s a terrifying confession, that throughout all these years, while Jared moved on, Jensen was left behind and dealt with the truth on his own, waiting for the opportunity to explain everything to Jared.

Jared watches, keeping his eyes on the man in front of him, a man who is breaking down on emotions he bottled up for the last five years. And Jared is right there with him, his own eyes aching with tears and his heart heavy with guilt. He can’t fall apart, not now. Jared knows he has to keep himself in check. He can’t change the past or undo the last years, even though a voice inside his heart tells him differently. A voice that always tells him to care for Jensen, make sure he is okay.

This is an epic disaster.

He steels himself, his nerves, and blinks wildly against his tears, fights down the urge to hold Jensen and stop the man from shuddering. Jared feels lost, trapped; he can’t go and he can’t stay.  He wants to say sorry for not giving Jensen the chance to explain five years ago. But is he sorry? There is a man waiting for him back home; his fiancé. All Jared can do now is breathe and calm down. He forces his brain to focus on the things he knows are right and lowers his eyes, gazing at the still bleeding hand in his own.

“Gotta finish this.” His voice sounds weak, even to himself, but he can’t help it.

Jared’s emotions are all over the place when he begins to pull the needle through Jensen’s bloody palm again. The man whimpers, cries slowing down but not stopping completely.

It takes Jared another ten minutes to stitch the rest of the wound up, clean it and wrap a bandage around it. When Jared is finished, he goes to wash his hands, getting all the blood off and then makes sure the first aid and sewing kits are back in order. Jensen doesn’t move an inch; he’s still in tears. The man’s shirt and jeans are covered in blood and Jared knows the man has to change and get out of the bloody clothing before he passes out again.

Jared takes his previous seat, elbows on his thighs and eyes focused on Jensen’s face. “Jensen?”

For a long moment Jared thinks that his ex won’t answer so he places his hand on Jensen’s knee, shaking it gently. “Hey. You with me?”

Suddenly, Jensen’s good hand reaches out and covers Jared’s. His first instinct tells him to pull away but he doesn’t. Jensen’s hand is warm, the strong weight familiar and Jared turns his hand to let the other man’s hand glide into his palm. When he realizes that he is stroking his thumb over shivering skin, Jared pulls back. At least he tries to but Jensen takes a hold of his hand and doesn’t let go. The man shimmies into a correct sitting position and leans forward, eyes fixed on Jared, tear-filled green eyes stare him down and Jared swallows against the lump in his throat. Jensen’s gaze is intense, almost hypnotizing.

Jensen is talking but Jared’s ears can’t pick up a sound; he‘s too focused on the movement of trembling lips. Then, Jensen removes the hand in his palm, the spot cold and neglected, the contact missed immediately. Jared tries to move. He wants the hand back in his own but his body is paralyzed, blood rushing too fast through his system, heart pounding and head swimming. There is a hot tingle against his jaw, a brush of skin over his stubble. Jensen’s hand holding him in place, the man’s thumb ghosting over Jared’s cheek down to his chin. Jared wants to put a stop to this, knows he is crossing a line if it doesn’t end right now. Jared wants to say something, anything. Wheels turn in his brain to think of Aldis: the fiancé who trusts him, who loves him. But then he closes his eyes, listens to the ache in his chest, the longing for something he missed for so long.

With a careful tug Jensen pulls him in, the man’s hand a hot presence against the back of his neck. Jensen slants their lips together, his breath intoxicating to Jared. It’s wrong and yet feels so very right. Jared isn’t that kind of person; he doesn’t betray the people he loves. It’s that thought that gives him the strength to break the kiss. However, he doesn’t pull away and leaves his forehead resting against Jensen’s, “we can’t do this.”

Jensen nods, a small movement but his hand comes back to Jared’s jaw. He pushes Jared back, not more than a few inches, enough to lock their eyes on each other. “I know.” It’s a whisper, a rush of warm breath.

They both know, they both know this has to stop, but Jensen’s eyes fill with life again. For the first time, Jared sees something in them he hasn’t seen in forever, something he tried to ignore over the past years. The pain in his chest intensifies when he realizes that nobody ever looks at him like this. Nobody, not even Aldis, has that much power over Jared’s heart. It hurts to think like that because he loves his fiancé. Jared does. But Jensen… Jensen is Jensen. Jensen. His brain is running on a loop with the name of his ex, the father of his son, the man who helped him grow up into the person he is today, a man who taught him to enjoy the good things in life. A man who shaped up to be everything Jared ever needed and gave him everything he ever wanted.

Jared’s brain short circuits with the many memories crushing him and all reasoning flies out the window when he cups Jensen’s face and crashes their mouths together. It’s not gentle, there is no finesse when their lips search out for each other. They’re almost biting, teeth scraping and clashing, hands tugging and pulling each other closer. Nothing about it is soft or goes smoothly, they’re driven by a raw need, a yearning they had to hold at bay for too long. Jensen all put pulls them down, twisting and turning them, their bodies slumping between the table and the couch, Jared’s back cracking against the couch. A tight fit but neither of them seem to mind with how they are already all over each other.

Kissing Jensen, connecting their tongues, letting them dance wildly; it’s driving Jared insane. It feels too good, too perfect and it’s not enough by a long shot. He wants more, needs more, and he knows Jensen will give him what he wants. Spurred by the need that’s growing with every passing second and the fire low in his belly, Jared goes for Jensen’s jeans. He yanks and pulls until the button is loose, rushes the fly down and does the same with his own pants. He is clumsy and his brain is fuzzy but he doesn’t fucking care.

Jared pulls back, disconnects their lips in favor of pulling his sweater over his head, followed by his shirt and Jensen’s breath hitches at the sight. A reaction Jared always received when Jensen got a good look of his bare chest. Mindful of Jensen’s wound, Jared goes for the hem of Jensen’s shirt, fists it at the seam and pulls it off in a hurried move. His hands freeze when his eyes catch the necklace around Jensen’s neck. A necklace the man never takes off. Whenever he saw Jensen in anything other than his suits on TV, the small silver beads of the necklace always peak out through the collar. The necklace is long, reaching almost down to Jensen’s heart. Dangling at the bottom is Jensen’s wedding ring. A platinum band. Earlier, at the window, Jared couldn’t take his eyes off of Jensen when he played with the necklace through his shirt, when Jensen said he had lost too much already. Jared feels like falling to pieces, like his life is crumbling to bits. Jensen never let  go.

“Jay.” Jensen breathes, his words labored. He knows Jared is staring at the wedding ring and Jensen tries to hide it, covering it with his good hand.

Jared wants to protest about the use of his nickname, again. But it’s like a switch has been flipped. He doesn’t care. The sound of his name on Jensen’s tongue sends a pleasant shiver down his spine. Jensen’s eyes are on him again, they bore down, deep into his soul and Jared’s body is shuddering under the intensity of it. He rushes forward again, captures Jensen’s kiss swollen lips and his hands start flying again, roaming over Jensen’s torso, down to the waistband of the man’s jeans. He cups Jensen through the material, finds the man rock hard as Jensen pushes his hips up, presses his thick length into Jared’s hand. His own arousal painfully reminds him of the need crawling through him. It’s all he needs to go further as he pulls them both up on their knees and pushes Jensen’s jeans, along with his boxers down, over the man’s thighs.

Everything happens so fast, Jared’s brain can barely keep up, but he doesn’t need his brain right now. All he needs is Jensen, on him, around him, inside of him. Jared shimmies himself up, far enough to be able to kick off his own pants and briefs. Jensen pushes him, doesn’t stop until Jared’s ass sits on the edge of the couch and without a warning Jensen wraps his lips around Jared’s hard cock, sucking him down to the base, deep throating him without a care for his gag reflex. Jensen’s head bops up and down hungrily and all Jared can do is watch the way the man is going down on him, moaning around the thick length in his mouth. The sight is almost too much to bear. With a wet pop, his cock slips free, hot suction replaced with cold air. Then, without a warning, Jensen pushes Jared’s legs up, feet propped flat on the edge of the couch. As Jensen’s tongue finds its way to Jared’s opening, he’s short of flying off the couch. God, it feels amazing. It’s been too long since anyone has eaten him out like their life was depending on it. It's exactly what Jensen does, he always did, dying to get his tongue on Jared’s hole, licking, sucking and stabbing the organ inside until the muscle is loose and ready for the taking.

“Need you.” Jared pants. He whimpers when Jensen pushes a finger inside his channel. The heavy truth of how much he needs Jensen is threatening. “God, I need you.”

Jensen gives one more lick over Jared’s hole before he scrambles to his feet. Jared doesn’t think because he can’t when Jensen’s eyes are on him like that and Jared acts on his physical want. He gets on his knees, the bones digging deep into the couch, and he braces his chest over the back of the couch, his ass up and on display for Jensen. “Come on, Jensen.” He is begging now, he knows he is, and he cranes his neck to look behind him so he can watch Jensen as he steps up, cock blood-filled and ready.

Every breath is knocked out of Jared’s lungs when Jensen shoves his hard cock inside of him, the intrusion too sudden. It stings and burns, almost too much to handle. There is pain shooting through Jared like crazy and yet, it’s exactly what he wanted. His own cock doesn’t even soften at the roughness of Jensen’s thrusts, more so, he’s rocking his hips back, trying to meet every painful shove from Jensen. His hips burn with the rough hold of Jensen’s hands on him. For a split second, Jared worries about Jensen’s wound, but the other man doesn’t seem to mind, only digging his fingers deeper into Jared’s flesh, bruising him. The sex is animalistic and hurts in all the right places. This is what Jared missed; deep down he always longs for hard and rough. Jensen is the only one who always knows how much Jared can really take, how much he loves being claimed, taken almost brutally.

“Jay… fuck.” Jensen’s good hand moves up to his shoulder, the hold on him tight as Jensen ruthlessly drags Jared deeper down onto his length. “Feel so good, almost forgot how good you feel around my cock.”

With the next hard thrust, Jensen hits his prostate dead on and Jared is back to begging again, pleading with Jensen to go faster, deeper.

“God damn it.” Jensen pants above him and increases his speed, pistoning in and out of Jared like there is no tomorrow. “Still so fucking needy… holy shit… Jared!”

Before he knows it, his eyes almost roll back into his head, his whole body shivering and burning up as his orgasm is ripped out of him and Jensen doesn’t stop, fucks him through every spurt of come shooting from his cock. Jensen is panting behind him, body stuttering and thrusts rigid. Jared goes all but limp when Jensen gives one final shove and comes inside of Jared, warmth filling him and the feel of it makes his own cock twitch again.

Jensen doesn’t move for a while, his body is still until his breathing slows down again. When he does eventually move, he sags down on the couch next to Jared, giving Jared the freedom to turn himself. Jared doesn’t care about the come leaking from his ass as he sits down. It’s not his couch, he doesn’t have to worry about the cleaning.

They are silent for a very long time, not saying a word, not touching, simply sitting there next to each other, heads resting against the back of the couch until their orgasmic high wears off.

It is then that Jared’s brain kicks back in and shows him what he has just done.

“Say something.” Jensen’s voice is low but startles Jared, makes him jumpy.

There are a million things he wants and should say. He could tell Jensen how amazing this was, how much he has missed this, how badly his heart is aching to roll over and cuddle up against Jensen. What he says instead breaks his heart worse than he thought possible. “This never happened.”

He doesn’t look back at Jensen when he collects his clothes from the floor and heads for the bathroom. Jared feels like a zombie when he steps under the shower. He can’t wash the evidence of the sex away, it only created more memories he has to, somehow, hide deep inside his mind. Tears fall from his eyes when he thinks about his fiancè. Jared has no idea how to tell Aldis, how to beg for forgiveness or if he should keep his mouth shut. Jared knows first hand how much it breaks your heart when your partner is cheating on you; he’s been down that road. He is unsure if hurting Aldis is something he can handle. Jared feels like a lost child and all he wants now is for daylight to come and the storm to break so he can get the hell away from Jensen.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

February 21th 2016, New York/N.Y.

When Jared wakes, it’s to the sound of his son’s loud giggling and small feet stomping through the penthouse; followed by a set of louder and bigger feet. It sounds like they are playing catch. Jared smiles at the thought, but his face falters when his mind serves him memories of the previous night. Hiding away in the guest room isn’t an option, so he steels his nerves, takes a long inhale of oxygen and gets up and decent again.

The place is quiet when he walks into the kitchen, Jensen and their son munching happily on some toast and waffles. Jared had his fair share of filled breakfast tables before, but the breakfast he is looking at trumps everything. The table is filled with enough food to feed an army and Jared’s stomach rumbles at the sight.

Purposely, Jared ignores eye contact with Jensen as he steps behind his son, bends his frame and gives Matthew a kiss on his hair. “Morning, champ,” Jared says and takes a seat next to his son.

“Good morning, dad,” Matthew says around a mouthful of waffles. “Papa said there was a big storm.”

Thank God. Jensen obviously explained already why Jared is still there. The three of them never woke up in the same house since the break up. “Yeah. Pretty rough. But seems like you slept through it.” Jared nudges his son’s shoulder, the praise laid on thick.

“Not a baby anymore, you know.” Matthew scoffs, just like he always does when Jared tries to tell him that he’s a big boy now.

Jared simply takes whatever food he can reach first without asking. While he loads his plate, Jensen pours him a cup of coffee. Jared wants to stop him by saying that he can damn well get his own coffee, but that would require talking to Jensen, so he keeps his mouth shut.

“Dad, you have to try the waffles.” Matthew’s tone is excited, full of joy and he hands Jared the plate of waffles, waiting until he takes one before his son speaks up again. “I made them.”

“Did you now?” Jared smiles at his son and takes a huge bite of the waffle. When the taste explodes on his tongue he recognizes a faint hint of cinnamon. Those are the waffles Jensen always used to make him for breakfast. ‘Cinnamon gives them a special touch’ Jensen had said when he first made them and Jared never wanted waffles without cinnamon again. He doesn’t mention this, doing all he can to keep a poker face as if it doesn’t affect him. “They’re really delicious, Matt. Good job.”

Through his bangs, he eyes his coffee cup, watches how Jensen adds milk and four spoons of sugar. Exactly how Jared drinks his coffee. Either Jensen is deliberately messing with him or the man simply doesn’t realize what he is doing.

“It’s calm outside.” Jensen speaks up for the first time since Jared joined them. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to take Matty sightseeing today.”

There is no way Jared can stay quiet now; he has to answer and Jensen knows that. They have always been civil with each other, especially around their son. So, Jared can’t just lash out and tell Jensen to get lost and shut the hell up. “Our flight leaves at 4pm.”

“Already?” Matthew chips in, swinging his head to Jared and frowns. “Can’t we stay a little longer? I don’t wanna leave yet.”

Jared ignores the food on his plate in favor of turning towards his son. He brushes Matthew’s crazy hair out of his face and smiles at him. “Tomorrow is a school day. We can’t miss our flight.” Matthew wants to say something, his lips already moving with a protest trying to break free. Jared beats him to it. “But, you can go sightseeing with your pops. I’ll check out from the hotel and meet you guys at the airport. Half past three. Not a minute later. How’s that sound?”

Matthew beams, his face lights up like a Christmas tree. “Really?”

“Really?” Jensen says in unison with their son.

“Really.” Jared answers, his eyes not leaving Matthew’s broad smile.

After that is settled, Jared goes back to enjoying the rest of the breakfast. And that, is a whole new problem altogether. He actually does enjoy the breakfast. Sure, there is a great deal of tension between him and Jensen, but sitting there, shoveling delicious food in their mouths and listening to their son’s ramble about school and friends and everything they already know makes Jared think that this is how it’s supposed to be. This is how their lives should have been. Jared still doesn’t really talk to Jensen, however, and tries to avoid him as best he can. What happened between them was a mistake and should not have happened. When Matthew starts telling Jensen about his latest success at the spelling bee, Jared zones out. He has heard it before; he was there when their son made first place and Jensen knows about it already too. Jared mailed him pictures, without much elaboration, and Matthew himself gushed about that day via Skype. Still, Jensen listens to it like it is the first time he hears of it.

There is a part of his brain that reminds Jared that he should feel guilty. Sleeping with his ex is the same kind of betrayal that ended his marriage five years ago. Jared feels like a hypocrite, because no matter how hard he tries, he can’t find a single piece of guilt within him. Logic tells him it was wrong but his heart is on a completely different page. His heart wants to act on its own. He wants to change chairs and sit next to Jensen so he can squeeze the man’s thigh under the table when Matthew is being silly and they have to stop themselves from laughing. Jared wants to lean in and kiss Jensen and feel the soft texture of those lush lips again, having a taste of the man’s breakfast through the connection of their lips.

Looking at his watch, Jared realizes that it’s almost 10am. If Jensen and their son want to go on a sightseeing tour, then they all should get going sometime soon. As if reading Jared’s thoughts, Jensen claps his hands together, “alright gentlemen, time to finish up. Matty, drink some more milk and then get ready, alright?”

Matthew doesn’t object, gulping down more of his drink and shoving his chair backwards, letting it creak over the tiles. “Do I need to brush my teeth again?”

“Yes.” This time it’s Jared and Jensen answering at the same time.

“Okay. I should head back to the hotel,” Jared announces and hugs Matthew before the boy runs off to the bathroom, obviously too busy with the prospect of spending more time with his papa than giving Jared a proper goodbye. Jared doesn’t mind one bit. Matthew deserves as much time with Jensen as they can squeeze out of the man. Though, Jared is sure that if he would ask Jensen to drop everything and move closer to their son, the man would do it in a heartbeat. Jared is scared by the thought and the realization that a huge part of him would actually like that. He doesn’t want to think about what that means.

Jensen starts piling their plates and cups, drops them all into the sink, and then moves on to carry the food back to the fridge.

“You need help with that?” It’s the first time this morning that Jared talks directly to Jensen.

“Nah, I’m good. Thanks. I’ll worry about it all later.” Jensen says, his shoulders tense and for some reason Jared reads more into those words, that there is more than just dirty breakfast dishes Jensen will worry about.

Leaving Jensen alone for the time being, Jared goes back to the guestroom, cleans it up real quick and gives it a once over before he is going in search for his shoes and coat. “I’ll see you in the afternoon, then,” He says to Jensen once back inside the kitchen.

Jensen has his hip propped against the kitchen counter, hands stuffed in his pajama bottoms. “Yeah. Three thirty.”

Jared nods at his ex, takes a deep breath as if it would help him to escape the awkward situation any faster. When he turns, Jensen calls out his name again, “Jared?”

He knows rolling one’s eyes is impolite, but Jared does so anyway before he turns around to look at Jensen again. He really hopes the man doesn’t want to talk about last night. Jared has gotten himself into one hell of a conflicting situation with his actions last night. “Huh?”

Jensen blushes, the tip of his ears turn into a violent red color, his teeth nibbling at his bottom lip. “I’ve never been with anyone again, not since you left me.”

Jared blinks at the confession, furrows his brows and anger settles in almost instantly. He doesn’t want to hear this so that he’s reminded of the fact that Jared left because he had no idea that Jensen wasn’t the cold blooded cheater he believed him to be. “Why are you telling me this? No, wait. I don’t wanna hear it.”

Jensen doesn’t have any of it and answers the question anyway. “Because I need you to know that… that I’ve always only loved you. Been in love with you since our first date.”

This is supposed to be the moment where Jared tells Jensen to shut up and let it go already but the memory of their terrible first date forces him to smile sadly at Jensen. “I puked all over your shoes.”

“Not your fault. You had the flu and didn’t want to cancel. Even the fever didn’t stop you from going out with me.”

Jensen had carried Jared back to his dorm and didn’t leave for almost two days: cooked the most disgusting chicken broth, checked Jared’s temperature every thirty minutes and got him all kinds of medication until he was back on his feet. Jared was embarrassed to his bones and couldn’t figure out why Jensen stuck with him. But, just like Jensen, it was that time in their life when they fell in love with each other.

Jared doesn’t want to tell Jensen how happy of a memory that is for him, that if he hadn’t agreed to a date then he might have never had experienced what it meant to be loved unconditionally by Jensen. If he hadn’t agreed, then Matthew wouldn’t be.

There is no reason to dwell in the past any longer and Jared sets his jaw straight. “Like I said, I gotta get going.” He turns his back to Jensen before the sentence is even finished.

“Jared?” Jensen calls for him, again.

“What?!” Annoyance is a bitch but Jared is tired, mentally exhausted and he needs to leave. Right now.

“You didn’t come here to patch me up.” Jensen shuffles behind him and the sound of paper moving gets Jared’s attention, so he faces the man. “Here,” Jensen says and holds out Jared’s vanilla envelope.

Jared has almost forgotten about it. No, he completely forgot about it. When Jared closes his fingers around the envelope, ready to pull it out of Jensen’s hand, his ex holds on to it. “I’ll be here.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Jensen lets go of the envelope then, leaving it in Jared’s hand to deal with. “Means that, once you realize this,” Jensen cocks his head to the envelope before he looks up at Jared again, “is a mistake, I’ll be here.”

This gets all of Jared’s attention and he’s almost furious. The nerve of Jensen, really. How dare he say crap like this, thinking he has any right to discredit Jared’s judgment. “You have no idea what you’re talking about. What we did, last night, was a mistake. I love him.”

Why Jensen is smiling is beyond Jared. He really wants to hit him in the throat.

“I know you love him. It’s not hard for you to love people. That’s who you are, Jay. But you’re not in love with him.” Jensen doesn’t say more, dismissing their mess of a conversation, and walks away.

Jared leaves the penthouse with hot anger in his gut. What Jensen said is ridiculous; his ex has no clue and doesn’t know the first thing about Aldis and their relationship. He should have told Jensen to go fuck himself and mind his own business, he should have defended himself and his fiancè. Right now, Jensen is probably rubbing his hands together, believing his words to be correct.

When Jared arrives in his hotel room, he is still fuming. However, a small part of this feeling is directed straight at himself. He can’t deny that Jensen always knew him best and was able to read him like a book. But years have passed since those times. They don’t know each other anymore. Yet, the night before, Jared was able to read Jensen perfectly fine and figured his emotions out and saw that his ex told him the truth. Obviously, he still knows Jensen. What does that say about Jensen’s earlier speech? Does he still know Jared better than he knows himself?

The minute he loses his coat and kicks off his boots, Jared fishes his phone out of his pants pocket. Three missed calls. Jared really has to stop setting that thing on silent. It’s a weird habit, he knows, but he can’t seem to get rid of it.

After four rings, Aldis picks up, the man is out of breath, “Jared! God, finally. Are you alright?”

No, he is not alright. Jared is all sorts of messed up. “Yeah, I’m fine, Al. I’m so sorry I didn’t call. I wanted to, but… uh, a lot of things happened. Have you seen the news?” Jared licks his lips nervously, hopes to everything above that his fiancè won’t ask what kind of things happened because Jared can’t do this over the phone. If he manages to build up enough courage to confess that he wasn’t faithful, then he needs to do this face to face.

“I did, yes. Damn, that was one nasty blizzard. But you and Matthew are okay, right?” Aldis is worried, more than that. Jared can hear him pacing and the scratch of his stubble against his hand.

“We’re good. The weather is back to normal. Well, if tons of snow and freezing cold can be considered normal. I can’t wait to be back home.” He exhales long and draws it out. The cold is something Jared never got used to and he still doesn’t like it; his body is too spoiled by the Texas weather.

Aldis hums his approval. “How did it go?” He wants to know then and Jared knows what his fiancè is asking.

“Got the papers, he signed them.” Truth is, Jared doesn’t even know if the divorce papers are signed, because he hasn’t taken a look at them yet, but thinking about Jensen’s reaction he figures the man probably did.

“That’s great, awesome. About time, huh?” Aldis chuckles before he continues, “Guess I can finally make a proper Mr. Hodge out of you.”

There is a moment where Jared’s heart stops beating and his hand shakes so badly he almost drops the phone. Marrying Aldis has been his goal for almost a year now. What Jared, until now, never wasted a thought on, is, that Aldis might ask  Jared to change his name. This is not an option and never will be. When Jensen proposed to him, on Halloween 2005, the two of them had already planned to start a family and neither of them wanted their future child to have a different name than one of their fathers. The decision was left to Jared and he wanted nothing more than to become Mr. Ackles. Ten months later, they tied the knot and Jared has been an Ackles ever since. Something else tugs at his heart. Having a different name than his son is one issue he can’t agree on. Changing his name again seems like losing an important aspect of his past, a connection to Jensen he isn’t willing to give up.

Austin/TX

When Aldis picks them up from the Airport in Austin, Jared dodges his fiancè's attempt of a kiss, faking a terrible headache and exhaustion. Matthew slept during the majority of the flight and is wide awake, bouncing through the gates and racing to the baggage claim. As they make their way out of the front exit, Aldis swoops Matthew up for a piggyback ride. The image doesn’t sit well with Jared and he has to stop himself from telling his fiancè to let the boy back down. Jared doesn’t understand what’s wrong with him. Not once did he find it anything but endearing how much Aldis cares for his son, how well they get along and that Matthew respects the man at his father’s side. Now, all it does is make Jared uncomfortable. The image isn’t right; it‘s a wrong constellation. Something is off and missing.

The feeling of imperfection doesn’t leave Jared and only grows stronger when they are alone in their bed, Aldis draped around his back and kneading the tension out of Jared’s shoulders. His fiancè doesn’t know that every touch only makes it worse but Jared doesn’t say anything, simply choosing to allow Aldis to keep the warm hands on his pajama clad body. If Aldis wonders if something is wrong, he doesn't say anything. Never before did Jared go to bed with a shirt covering his body, but there are bruises on his hips, red spots and small scratches over his back; evidence of Jensen's hands touching him all over.

For the next few days, Jared manages to sidestep every single one of Aldis’ pursuits of too much physical contact. The lie of being stressed from work slips easily from his lips. Keeping his fiancè at arm’s length begins to be rather difficult, complicated and Aldis’ constant strange expression shows that the man knows something is up. Even after a whole week, Jared still hasn’t figured out how to open up to Aldis and the longer he stays quiet, the more problematic it becomes to find the right words. Letting too much time pass is going to bite Jared in the ass.

Another week passes and Jared decides to shoulder the burden of his misstep on his own. He can’t and doesn’t want to hurt Aldis. The man has always been good to him and treats him the way every human deserves to be treated. Disappointing his fiancè is out of the question, so Jared gives his best at acting as usual, shoving his thoughts and the whirlwind of emotions into the back of his mind.

However, everything swirls out of control when Jared initiates the first move of finally being intimate with each other again. He all but attacks Aldis when the man comes to bed, his body damp and glistening from the previous shower. Jared straddles him, lavishes at his fiancè’s lips and lets his tongue beg for entrance all while he circles his hips over Aldis’ bare crotch. The physical sensation of being so close to him feels great, Jared can already feel his cock hardening under the pressure and he can’t wait to have this back, to be lovers again. “Want you to fuck me, Al.”

Aldis doesn’t give him much time to think; he doesn’t say anything while he gently pushes Jared down on his stomach, nudging against his legs to spread them wide. Jared knows what Aldis is doing without having to take a look, the sound of the lube cap opening indicates of what’s coming next and he patiently waits for it. As the first digit enters his opening, Jared realizes what a coward he is. It makes him sick to think of what he has done and that his fiancè is completely in the dark of it. Another finger follows after an agonizingly slow prep and Jared pushes his ass back, tries to fuck himself harder on Aldis’ fingers, but the man only holds him still, a firm hand pressed to the small of his back. “Al, come on.”

Jared is being shushed, asked to be patient and Jared can’t take this any longer; he needs more for crying out loud. He doesn’t want gentle. He doesn’t want to make love. He asked Aldis to fuck him and not play with him like a virgin. “Come on. Get your mouth on me. Please.”

The request only makes Aldis go slower until he stops moving his fingers completely. There’s a soft brush of lips traveling over Jared’s lower back and he wants to scream that yes yes there you go, do it. But all that happens is a smile forming on Aldis’ mouth before he says, “told you I’m not into that,” and pushes two fingers back inside Jared’s entrance.

Frustration rattles Jared. Because it really is fucking frustrating. It’s not that he doesn’t know Aldis‘ reaction already, but he still keeps trying. Aldis doesn’t do dirty. He doesn’t spill filthy profanities at Jared when they’re having sex. Jared always accepted and respected this side of Aldis. However, that doesn’t mean Jared isn’t annoyed by it. He grows really tired of slow and gentle. His fiancè is a poster boy for vanilla. When Aldis deems him prepped enough, which he was right after the first damn finger, Jared pushes his ass up higher and gives himself over to the man. As soon as Aldis’ condom-covered cock is sheathed deep inside of him, Jared experiences his first wave of immense guilt. To his surprise, what happened in New York isn’t the reason for feeling that way. Being with Aldis, letting his fiancè fuck him, that’s what makes the guilt strong and more powerful. He shakes with the realization of it, his own cock softening when Aldis tells him how good he feels. Aldis is there with him, not… Jensen. Turning his face into the pillow, Jared hides his tears and covers a sob with a fake moan. He is so screwed.

A total of three weeks after New York, Jensen sends him a text message, informing him that he would like to come visit their son. It’s a Friday morning when Jensen stands on his doorstep, ready to pick up Matthew and take him to school. This is new; Jensen never brought their son to school, but Jared doesn’t mind. All he minds is Jensen being there in the first place because everything makes it just so much more uncomfortable when he has to see Jensen after what happened between them. Jared hopes to God that Aldis doesn’t pick up on the nerves wrecking his body.

The broken look on Jensen’s face speaks volumes; the man is exhausted, beyond sad, and even when he hugs Matthew tight, Jensen doesn’t smile. It seems like all life has been drained from him and, if Jared isn’t mistaken, then their encounter in New York has everything to do with Jensen’s state. To put it nicely: Jensen is a complete mess and Jared is highly responsible for it.

When Jensen and their son are ready to leave, Aldis shows up in the hallway, ready to leave for work, a sharp suit and predatory smile perfectly in place. Jensen is staring, disbelief clear in his eyes and his lips trembling with words that won’t come out. As Aldis leans in to kiss Jared goodbye for the day, Jared can’t keep his eyes off of Jensen, watching how Jensen’s world falls to pieces. Jensen could say something to destroy Jared’s charade and let it all blow up for Aldis. However, his ex doesn’t say a word, not a peep leaving his mouth.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

April 2nd 2016, Austin/TX

When Aldis occupies the spot next to him on their couch, Jared stands up, excusing himself to the bathroom. Jared isn’t sure how much of Aldis’ presence has to do with the way he feels. He supposes a lot of it. He doesn’t need to use the bathroom but he needed to get away. There is no way he can keep doing this, pretending to want and feel something that his heart isn’t on board with. Not anymore. And, digging deeper into his mind, Jared comes to the conclusion that maybe it never fully was. Jared washes his hands, trying to make it look like he really had to use the bathroom. Stepping out through the door, he doesn’t go back into the living room, going upstairs to Matthew’s room instead. His son is talking a mile a minute, Jared can hear him through the closed door and when Matthew is done explaining how he almost kicked Trevor Stevens in the chin during gym class, Jensen’s muffled voice comes to life over the speakers. Immediately, Jared’s heart skips several beats and his breath hitches. Jared wants to open the door and look at the screen so badly, to take a look at Jensen, see the man’s eyes crinkle in delight over their son’s story. However, he doesn’t. If Jensen could see him through the camera, there is no doubt that the man will figure him out and confirm in his theory; that the divorce and impending marriage is a mistake. Nonetheless, Jared knows he can’t hide forever, he can’t possibly hide what’s going on with him once Jensen shows up to visit Matthew again. Which, from what his son told him, is going to be in exactly twenty-seven days. It was hard enough seeing Jensen the last time he picked their son up and it keeps getting gradually worse since Jared’s heart almost exploded when he learned how much hurt Jensen’s been dealing with. But what happens when Jared finally allows his heart to take over and act on what he has been trying to ignore since New York? Sorting through his emotions, figuring out his feelings in search for what’s real and what’s not is a damn hardship. His brain is a messed up place and he feels like breaking apart. The situation he catapulted himself into is becoming too much to bear and he wants out.

Aldis is still downstairs, watching whatever program Jared hadn’t been paying attention to and he knows now is as bad a time as ever. The charade Jared is playing for weeks now is taking its toll on him. He can’t be with Aldis, can’t marry the man, not when his heart is longing for someone he had given up on so long ago. It’s not fair to his fiancè, not in the least, and if he doesn’t put an end to this now, he is going to claw his brains out.

Back in the living room, Jared lowers himself onto the armchair across from Aldis. He can’t hide the nervousness in his breathing, the rapid shaking of his hands when Aldis looks at him as if he knows what’s coming next.

“We should talk.” Avoiding eye contact is something Jared has quickly become used to and it helps his cause at the current moment.

Aldis sits up and folds his hands over his knees. “The first honest words from you in weeks.”

Not knowing how to react to this statement, Jared nods and swallows hard. He rubs and circles his empty ring finger, not even aware of his action.

“This about New York?” Aldis says, as calm as a cucumber. “You’ve been acting weird ever since you came back. What happened there?”

Many different things course through Jared’s mind, excuses, more lies but he has made up his mind and he can’t live in peace if he doesn’t come clean. But no matter what he should say or wants to say, all that comes out is a weak, “I’m sorry, Al.”

“So, let me guess. Jensen happened?” The man’s voice turns bitter, hurt, and Jared doesn’t dare looking up. “Should’ve seen it coming. I mean, I kinda figured it might happen someday. But, you know, a man can hope.”

Jared almost breaks his neck when his head snaps up too fast. “What?” He guessed that Aldis would start yelling, or even throw the fruit bowl at him, but he sure as hell didn’t expect Aldis to be so… civil.

There is a whole lot of sadness filling Aldis’ eyes, disappointment, but the small smile tugging at his lips is sincere. “Jared, I’m not blind and definitely not stupid. The guy shows up here every month and in the five minutes you get to see him, you look at him like… I don’t know, you never look at me like that.”

For the longest time, Jared thought he was doing fine, that his internal struggle wasn’t projecting to his expression. Hearing Aldis point out how Jared’s battle was obvious, crushes him. “I don’t know what to say. Al, I didn’t mean for this to happen, I swear.”

Aldis seems to consider him and the man takes a few attempts at regular breathing before he speaks up again. “Did you sleep with him?”

“Al…” They both know the answer already but Jared can’t get the words out, he knows how much hurt they will cause. However, he also knows that it is a little too late to spare Aldis the heartache.

“Just say it.”

“Yes, I slept with him.” The silence between them, after the confession, is disturbing and Jared still waits for Aldis to explode, to show how mad he is or that he hates Jared. Even though Jared can’t find himself to see it that way, he did something wrong. It is unforgivable to betray the person who loves you, he is aware of that. He wishes that he could simply say that he is sorry, that he regrets it, but it would be a lie. His walls crumbled with Jensen’s confession, setting free the waves of emotions he has hidden for years and now his heart is back to where it belonged all along. However, Jared still feels like scum for doing this to Aldis and even if he actually regretted his infidelity, he wouldn’t be deserving of forgiveness. “The last thing I wanted was to hurt you.”

“The funny thing is, I believe you, because you’re actually a good guy, Jared. I hope you know what you’re doing, though.” Aldis shakes his head, his shoulders slump in something Jared can only decipher as defeat.

Truth is, Jared doesn’t necessarily know what he is doing but it feels an awful lot like the right thing. The issue that Aldis is concerned about is something Jared doesn’t want to breach with him. Jared told him why he broke up with Jensen but he is not going to explain the real truth to Aldis. Some things are better left unsaid and this is definitely something between Jensen and Jared alone.

 

April 8th- 9th 2016, Austin & San Antonio/TX

During the last six days, Jared watched Aldis coming and going in order to get all his stuff from the house. They didn’t talk, Jared could see how the man was still struggling and making it any harder on him by talking wouldn’t do either of them any good. Once all traces of Aldis were gone from Jared’s house, he felt almost as lonely as he did when he first purchased it. The break up affected Jared, too. He isn’t a heartless man after all, but it gets to him on a different level. Saying that he regrets his time with Aldis would be a lie; they had a good and functional relationship, but once your heart travels in a different direction you can’t force it into something that will make you unhappy in the long run. Jared doesn’t want Aldis to hurt, the man meant too much to him, but if he hadn’t come clean then Jared’s lies would be building up even more hurt. There is clearly no winner in this kind of situation.

After Aldis being a constant in their life for so long, Matthew has trouble understanding why the man is gone and why he won’t be coming back.  Jared keeps explaining to his son that, even though he loved Aldis, it still wasn’t enough, that his heart isn’t big enough for the man. For a moment, Matthew worried that maybe he had done something wrong, he even asked if he wasn’t behaving and if Aldis left because of him. It took Jared quite by surprise that his son would think that way and it required a whole lot of talking to make Matthew understand that, no, he hasn’t done anything wrong. Not even Aldis did something wrong. Jared always taught his son to admit to his mistakes and he couldn’t possibly avoid telling his son that Jared himself wasn’t perfect. So, he told his son that the only person to fault for Aldis leaving is Jared, he didn’t love the other man enough to stay with him and that Aldis is going to move away. Jared knows that Aldis is going back to North Carolina to stay with his family for a while, either because he doesn’t want to run into Jared or because his family suggested it. Jared can only assume that they are mad and think only the worst of him. Then again, they never liked the idea of Aldis and him dating in the first place.

Thinking about Aldis’ parents hits Jared with thoughts of his own family and that they have no idea what’s going on in Jared and Matthew’s life right now. Checking his watch, Jared figures that 4pm is a perfect time to head out to San Antonio and pay his parents a long overdue visit. Matthew is completely on board with the idea and doesn’t waste any time as he hurries Jared to pack up a few clothes and get to the car. It has been a while since his son got to see his grandparents and they will surely love a little surprise visit for the weekend.

The eighty miles to San Antonio take him longer than usual. On previous trips to his parents, it is always his son who needs at least two pee breaks but today Jared is the one who can’t seem to get his bladder under control. Three times he has to stop and he guesses his nerves are a little wacky. There is no telling how his parents will take the news that Jared and Aldis split and, of course, Jared will somehow have to mention why they split. Even after they learned of the reason his marriage fell apart, his parents never spoke badly about Jensen. Sure, they were reasonably upset and didn’t support the things Jensen had done, but, other than that, they always loved him like one of their own. They made it crystal clear that Jared and Jensen’s marriage is none of their business, not theirs to judge, and they won’t disown the son-in-law who gave them a wonderful grandchild.

Almost an hour later than expected, Jared finally pulls up the driveway of his parent’s house. Matthew fell asleep only minutes before, arms hanging to his sides and mouth partially opened. The boy looks so much like Jensen at the moment that Jared has difficulties keeping his emotions in check.

Jared honks once, watching how his son jumps in the seat, hands flying and legs hitting the dashboard. “Oh, did you fall asleep? Twenty minutes ago you said you weren’t tired at all.

Matthew glares at him, still halfway in the land of dreams as he groans and complains, stretching his limbs. His son hates waking up, no matter what time it is. Just like your papa, Jared thinks and smiles at the perfect replica of him and Jensen.

“Oh my god! Jared, Matty!” Sherry’s loud and excited voice comes from outside, her arms already spread wide to hand out hugs as she makes her way to their car.

Matthew is the first to get smooched and hugged to death. “So good to see you, baby.” Sherry cups her grandson’s cheeks, forcing him into a fish-face and kisses his forehead.

“Hey grandma.” Matthew has still no chance to escape Sherry’s cuddle-attack.

“Surprise.” Jared beams, a newly found lightness in his voice.

Only then Sherry lets go and comes over to Jared, repeating her kissing and cupping cheeks. “Oh Jared. You look awful.” The worry in her eyes reminds him that the last weeks weren’t necessarily easy for him.

“Wow, thanks. I love you too, mom.” He chuckles and pulls her into another tight hug. Even at thirty-three, a mother’s hug works like a charm and it feels good to be here. “Is dad inside?” Jared asks when he can’t see his father, who usually isn’t far when they arrive.

“I’m sorry, dear. He’s at Jeff’s. Your brother is building a treehouse for the kids and he asked your father for help.”

Well, that’s Jeff for you. He is a great surgeon but that’s all he can do with his hands. It is definitely safer for Jared’s nephews and nieces to have their grandfather take a look at the treehouse.

Inside his childhood home, Jared feels like a little kid again. His mother is cooking and baking and believes she has to feed Jared whatever she can mix together. Once the first scent of homemade chili hits his nostrils, he realizes that he hasn’t eaten anything since breakfast and he is short of starving. They fall into a light conversation over their meal and as soon as Matthew is stuffed, he rushes out of the kitchen to take advantage of the swing set in the backyard.

“Alright, spill it. What’s going on?” Sherry crosses her arms over her chest and stares Jared down. “Did you have a fight with Aldis?”

“No, not really. We didn’t fight or anything but…” How do you tell your mother that you had sex with your ex and it set forth a chain reaction? “I did something stupid. Or not. I mean, a long time ago I might’ve made a mistake and now…”

Jared searches his brain for the right wording to help his mother understand without having to say anything. Sherry only keeps staring, her eyebrows raised in wait for him to elaborate because apparently he doesn’t make much sense. He knows, now, what he wants but it’s not that easy to voice it. Jensen’s words I’ll be here, keep ringing in his ears but can it really be that easy? Until Jared found Jensen with that woman, he never believed the man to be anything but honestly in love with him. Jensen tried, all these years, to explain what really happened. Jared feels like the worst person ever since Jensen told him the truth. What does that say about his qualities as a husband? Obviously it was him who threw their marriage away, not Jensen. So much time has passed and even though Jared moved on, his heart is still stuck in the past. Still, it seems impossible to pick up where they left off.

His mother seems aware of his struggles and comes around the table to sit next to Jared, her hand a reassuring pressure on his cheek. “Son? Just spit it out. I’m sure that whatever you did can be fixed.”

Jared isn’t so sure about this. Of course, he wishes that by some miracle Jensen will really be waiting for him, ready to take him back. He doesn’t know how to cope if Jensen does, only to realize they can’t make it work anymore. Tears begin building in his eyes at the thought. “I miss Jensen. Mom, I… I miss him so much.” He ends his words on a sob, doesn’t even try to hide it.

“Finally. Thank god.” Is all Sherry says before she wraps her arms around Jared, pulling his head onto her shoulder as she shushes him until he is calm enough to register what she just said.

“Mom?” Jared breaks the embrace to look at his mother, extremely confused.

“Oh Jared. Don’t get me wrong, we all love Aldis, he’s a wonderful man, but I know my son and I could tell that he wasn’t the right one for you. Everybody knows that there’s only room for one person in your heart. You’ve always loved Jensen, haven’t you?” His mother hooks her smaller hand underneath his chin, making him look at her.

“Never stopped.” Finally admitting his feelings out loud, getting them off his chest and voicing them, makes him feel like a weight is falling off his shoulders. Jared loves Jensen, he is still in love with the man. It should have been obvious all along but moving on meant to mute his heart. Now, when all the walls are down, he can finally admit to himself that he can never possibly feel anything as close to what he is feeling for Jensen. He was never supposed to move on; it was always only Jensen.

“There you go. What he did was shameful but if you love him, maybe it’s time for forgiveness. That boy was always ready to steal the moon for you, so maybe you two can figure out what went wrong, hmm?” His mother sounds hopeful, her tone supportive.

“That’s… uh, Matt and I were in New York a few weeks back and Jensen told me what happened. He didn’t actually do what I thought he did.” Sherry is still the only one in his family who knows the whole truth. Back then, Jared didn’t want to talk to Chad or any of his other friends about it. He needed his mother, needed the feeling of home when his own world was broken into a million pieces. It had taken Jared weeks to open up to his best friend about it, too. “Mom, that woman… she drugged him. Jensen had no idea what was going on and I? I just left him, didn’t even give him the benefit of a doubt.” Another thought hits him and it sickens him. When Jensen was ripped of his control, the woman practically raped him, forced the man into a sexual activity he didn’t want to be a part of; it didn’t matter if the drugs made Jensen believe he wanted it. Bile rises in his throat when he thinks of Jensen’s words again, how the other man lost too much, that his life was ripped away from him because some woman didn’t take no for an answer.

“Oh, good lord.” Sherry pushes his hair out of his face, tucks a few strands behind his ear and forms her lips into an understanding smile. “You didn’t know any better. It was difficult for me to believe he could do something so hurtful to you. However, I’m very glad to learn that he didn’t.”

“I think he still loves me.” Jared blurts out suddenly. The thought has been circling in his head since he left New York based on the things Jensen did, what he said, the reminders of their past in his penthouse. It really can only mean that Jensen’s feelings for him are still there.

“Then what are you doing here?” His mother pulls back, her eyes wide as she looks at him like he just grew a second head.

“Crying my heart out, because I don’t know what to do.” And that, is just so damn painful to think of. How are they going to fix the issues between them, the missing years where Jared ignored the pain Jensen was in?

“This might sound like a strange idea, but how about you go and get your man back?” His mother suggests matter-of-factly and shrugs at him with a mischievous smile on her lips.

“Yeah, right. How am I supposed to do that? Call him and say Hey Jensen, I was an idiot. Please come back home?” The question isn’t that far off and something tells Jared that Jensen might actually jump on that chance, but there is so much more that needs to be done when it comes to fixing everything between them.

“You’re right, that is stupid. A phone call is so impersonal. I’d say you leave my precious grandson here and get your butt on a plane.” Sherry pats his cheek like he is five years old again and nods at him.

“To New York?”

“Uh, yes. That’s where Jensen lives after all, right?”

That is kind of ridiculous, it’s long past 7 pm; he can’t just up and leave and he tries to say as much to his mother. “Mom, I can’t just…-”

“Yes, you can. Tell Matty you’ll be back in a couple of days. He loves it here, we’ll keep him busy.”

***

The lady at the counter at the San Antonio airport takes her sweet time. Jared told her he needs to catch the next flight to New York and according to the destination board, the next plane leaves in less than thirty minutes. “Listen, I’m kind of in a hurry here.”

“Sir, I’m trying to find you a seat, but on the 9pm departure we can only offer you a first class seat.”

“Well, what are you waiting for then? Get me on that plane.” Being snappy will probably only piss the woman off, so Jared calms down. Somewhat. “Please.”

She fiddles with the computer some more, scanning his ID while doing so. “That’ll be $612.55, Mr. Ackles.” Her saccharine smile is as fake as can be but he can’t find it in himself to care. He hands his credit card over with an expressionless glare.

When he is shown to his seat, Jared makes a mental note to always book first class tickets from here on out. The free drinks the stewardess keeps bringing over are definitely worth the small fortune he paid. Two hours in, with still more than an hour to go, he is sporting a light buzz and his cheeks are flushed. Perfect, Jared thinks, the liquid courage is much needed with what he is doing. Not every day you come crawling to your ex and ask to be given a fresh chance for a new beginning. And, after everything Jared learned during his stay with Jensen, it surely does feel like crawling back. Jared’s mind is in a constant state of worry and confusion and with the addition of alcohol, it only becomes worse. On one hand, there is no doubt that Jensen will be accepting Jared back in his life with open arms. On the other hand, why would Jensen do that? Why, after Jensen was left with a broken heart because of something he had no control over.

The small TV attached to his seat seems like a perfect distraction for the remaining length of the flight. He isn’t given many choices; he can choose between Discovery Channel or movies in which people seem to always blow up New York. Why is that? He will never understand Hollywood. It’s almost midnight by now and Jared keeps zapping through the channels until he finds FOX news. He skips it right away and doesn’t stop clicking the tiny remote, knowing exactly what he is looking for but can’t find it. He waves one of the friendly stewardesses over then, “excuse me. Is there a chance to get ABC news here?”

“Of course, Sir. May I?” The stewardess holds her hand out and doesn’t let her smile falter until Jared hands over control of the remote. He is not really sure what the woman is doing but eventually the ABC logo appears on screen. “There you go, Sir.”

“Thanks, ma’am.”

Jared’s eyes shift to the small screen and in that moment Jensen’s face comes into view as he greets the viewers with his trademark smile. A smile that turns Jared’s brain cells into mush.

 

 

 

“Sir?” The stewardess asks for his attention. “You’ll need to plug the headphones in for sound.”

Jared hasn’t even noticed that there is no sound because Jensen’s voice is a constant presence in his head. “Yeah, I know.” He smiles up at the woman, then points to Jensen on the TV, “just… uh, watching him.”

The stewardess all but giggles and tries to cover her mouth to hide it, which doesn’t work. “That guy is a cutie. Met him at a restaurant once, when I was in the city. A total sweetheart.” She rambles on and Jared’s heart rate goes haywire.

He can’t stop looking at the stewardess, waiting for her to tell him more. “Really? That’s pretty cool, I guess.”

“Oh yeah. He seemed pretty engrossed in a business meeting or something, but my boyfriend said I should just go over and say hi. So I did. I was mortified, because seriously, what’s that man doing on the news? He should be on the cover of GQ or bigger screens.” Her face flushes bright red as she shares her tale.

“He’s too shy for that kind of business.” Which is true. Jensen definitely has the perfect face to be plastered all over magazines or movie screens, but that kind of business always scared Jensen; that caliber of attention makes the man uncomfortable. Shortly after he was hired for ABC and was on the news for barely a week, Jensen got an offer from a New York based magazine, some sort of modeling thing, but the man cringed and declined. If Jensen isn’t around friends or family, he can be a real introvert, Jared knows that and he doubts that this has changed.

“How’ you know that? He doesn’t seem too shy.” The woman studies him for a while, wondering where Jared could have gotten that information from.

Before he knows it, his brain-to-mouth filter dies and he talks on, “kinda married to him.” Jared clamps his mouth shut as soon as the words are out. His heart gives a sudden pang, a tight tug and he realizes how good it feels, how right it sounds to refer to Jensen as his husband. Legally, they are still married, but on a personal level, he has no clue where they stand. The next few hours will hopefully solve this mystery.

“I just made a total fool out of myself, didn’t I?” The stewardess looks so lost and embarrassed that Jared doesn’t know if he should laugh or hug her. In the end he waves it off as nothing and hands her one of his tiny scotch bottles and they both down it in one go.

New York/N.Y.

“Good evening, Mr. Ackles.” The night manager, Randy, Jared recollects, greets him and at first Jared takes a few tentative looks around, wondering if Jensen is standing somewhere by. With Jared being the only person in the lobby of the building, Jared is kind of amazed that the man remembers him after only being there once. “Penthouse 3A, I presume?”

Very good memory, that’s for sure. Randy only smiles at him, friendly and not wearing the stuck-up expression Jared expected. “Uh, yeah. Yes. Hi.” Wetting his lips, Jared waits for the man to pick up the phone, but Randy doesn’t move an inch, his hands folded somewhere behind his back. Taking the non-action as permission, Jared shoulders his backpack tight and hurries past and to the elevators.

He hits the button for the 16th floor and when the elevator dings, announcing he has reached his designated floor, Jared freezes. He doesn’t move, doesn’t breathe and stares at the doors closing again. Jared has been tortured with second thoughts throughout the whole flight and now he isn’t doing much better as he rides all the way back down again. It is almost 2am and Jensen is probably asleep, so Jared tells himself, completely ignoring the fact that Jensen was on air two hours earlier, presenting their nation with the latest news. So, Jared ignores that little fact and whispers to himself a few more times that Jensen is sound asleep and Jared shouldn’t disturb. As far as Jared knows, Jensen’s schedule has been the same for the past seven years and he remembers it like it was only yesterday. Fridays he is on air at midnight, finishes half an hour later, gets a ride home and walks through the door shortly after 1am. Shower, maybe a beer or two, and somewhere around 3am he will go to sleep. By the time Jared realizes that he is an idiot and didn’t come to New York to spend a night in an elevator, he is already back down on the first floor. He stays inside the metal cubicle and fumbles with his phone. Jared scans through his pictures, looking for a shot of Matthew he didn’t send Jensen yet and when he finds a couple new photos he sends them to Jensen’s phone. This isn’t the first time Jared randomly sends his ex pictures of their son, so it shouldn’t raise any suspicion. Though, he usually doesn’t send them in the middle of the night. As always, Jared doesn’t add any text.

Two minutes later, a reply from Jensen comes in. ‘Thank you, Jared’. He had hoped Jensen wouldn’t answer, indicating that his schedule changed and he is already asleep. No such luck. Only a few seconds later, his phone beeps again, another message from Jensen comes in: ‘miss Matty so much’. Jared knows the feeling is mutual, their son might be used to their lives being different, that their family doesn’t work quite like Matthew’s friends’ families, but that doesn’t mean the boy likes it, much less doesn’t have trouble dealing with it. More often than not Jared had explained Matthew that sometimes parents don’t get along, that it’s better for them to go their separate ways.

Matthew sometimes expresses how much he wants his papa back in their life, not only for a weekend once a month. Jared’s heart never stops breaking over the helplessness he feels when his son’s eyes tear up. Maybe he can fix this.

Jared hits the button for Jensen’s floor again and when the elevator doors slide open, he steps out this time, doesn’t stop his feet until he is standing in front of Jensen’s door.

Crippled with nerves and his heart thumping wildly, Jared rings the bell twice. A few minutes later, there is still no reaction and Jared rings again. With every second that goes by, he becomes more anxious and doubts settle in again. There is no going back, he is aware of that and the reality of it kicks him into action. Jared unlocks his phone with a quick swipe of his thumb and dials Jensen’s number. The call connects after two rings.

“Jared?” Jensen’s voice sounds off, distant and worried.

Jared’s throat constricts instantly, his stomach rolling in an uneasy shiver. Calling Jensen at this time of day is bound to scare his ex. “Hey.” He says after he takes a lungful of air.

“Wh… what is it?” Jensen slurs through the phone, “somethin’ happen?” The man is drunk, Jared recognizes; confirming his thoughts of Jensen treating himself to a beer after work. More than one or two, by the sound of Jensen’s drawl.

“No, nothing happened. How are you?” Jared asks, knowing full well what the answer will be, that Jensen isn’t doing well.

“Huh? ‘the fuck do you care?” The bitterness feels like a sucker punch and Jared can’t find himself to blame Jensen. There is no time to react when Jensen takes a long throaty breath and starts again. “Listen, ‘s late an’ am tired. Go to your fiancé ‘n leave me the hell alone.”

Jared rings the doorbell again while Jensen desperately tries to keep his voice steady. Through the speaker of the phone Jared can hear the chime of the doorbell. “Sounds like you’re getting company.” He says then, hitting the bell button again.

“Don’t care.” Jensen breathes in annoyance. Jared rings again. “Motherfucker.” There is a clink of glass when Jensen curses. “Bye, Jared. Have a nice life.” The call disconnects immediately and Jared listens to the beeping on his end of the line.

The door flies open seconds later and Jensen topples backwards when they are face to face. The man has his phone still clutched in his hand and looks down at it, then at Jared. Jensen blinks, stares at his phone again and squeezes his eyes shut. Jared notices that Jensen is having problems figuring out what is going on and he can’t ignore how bad of a condition Jensen is in. His ex looks like he hasn’t slept for weeks, his hair a disheveled mess, eyes covered in dark circles, skin pale and he reeks of extensive alcohol abuse. Jensen stares at Jared like he is seeing a ghost and Jared is short of saying something but suddenly Jensen shakes his head in disbelief and throws the door closed in Jared’s face.

Taken aback by the action, Jared needs a moment to understand what just happened and eventually calls Jensen again. This time it takes longer until it connects and when it does, Jensen doesn’t say anything, which leaves the ball in Jared’s court. “Will you please open the door?” Jared asks skittish, praying that Jensen won’t ignore him. His ex disconnects them again but the door opens anew.

“Not sure if I should be mad that you slammed the door in my face or hung up on me, twice.” Jared tries with humor, giving Jensen a sincere but reserved smile.

“Jared?”

Obviously. Jared shrugs and holds on to his backpack tighter, as if it has the power to support him and keep him upright. “In the flesh.”

Not wanting to be ignored again, Jared doesn’t wait to be asked inside and takes matters in his own hands when he steps inside the penthouse without giving Jensen time to stop him. He hears the door falling shut behind him with a light thud. Jared takes a quick look around and finds the culprit for Jensen’s messed up state on the living room table. An empty bottle of Jack partnered with a half empty one beside to it. “You having a party?” He turns to Jensen and raises an eyebrow at the man.

Jensen seems to still be unable to connect to reality as his intense stare deepens. Eventually, Jensen walks past him and slumps down on the couch, grabbing for the bottle of Jack but when it is halfway to his mouth he stops in favor of looking at Jared. “What are you, my mother?” He raises the bottle again and takes a long gulp, his adam’s apple bobbing hastily with the sudden amount of fluid going down his throat. When his lips let go of the bottle, Jensen coughs against the burn of the liquor. “What do you want? Why are you here?”

Jared takes his backpack off and puts it down on the floor. “Wanted to see you.” He says honestly and moves to take a seat on the couch next to Jensen.

Jensen scoffs, his eyes daring as he squints, “Aldis know you’re here?”

“No. He’s…-”

Jared is interrupted when Jensen slams the Jack onto the table, spilling some of the amber drink and the man struggles to get off the couch. “Right. ‘course not. So what, you leave our son with that guy because… because? Oh, I get it.” Jensen puts his pointer finger up, sarcasm heavy in his posture and his eyes furious. “Our little fun time was so good that you want another ride, huh? That it? That why you’re here?” The man almost trips over his own feet when he stumbles to wrap his hand around the Jack again, hurrying it to his mouth. “Forget it. Forget it, Jared! You were right, it was a fucking mistake.” Jensen rolls his eyes up, considering his words, “no pun intended.”

Jared has never seen Jensen so out of it. Back when they were still an item, Jensen used to be a happy drunk who made terrible jokes. Now, now Jensen looks like a shell of the person he used to be, a broken man who doesn’t cope.

“I’m tired of this shit. You destroyed me, Jared. You fucking broke me and I’m not giving in to this crap again. ‘s gonna kill me.” Jensen loses the hold of the Jack and it tumbles to the floor, soaking the cream colored carpet with brown liquor. Jared can only watch when Jensen follows the bottle, his ass hitting the floor, leaving the man groaning in pain. This is so much worse than Jared thought possible. The accusations hit him hard and right where it hurts the most. It’s his fault that Jensen is losing it; he did this to the other man. No matter that they are both responsible for what happened in February.

Jared doesn’t move from his spot, “Matt is with my parents.” He says, giving Jensen at least some peace of mind. He never left Matthew alone with Aldis for longer than necessary and Jensen actually knows that. “And Aldis is…-”

Jensen interrupts him again, rolling his eyes. “You think I give a shit? I don’t. Never did and don’t wanna hear about your perfect man.”

“Aldis is gone.” Jared throws in then, he doesn’t want to see Jensen getting madder, more hurt. “I told him the truth.” Tears start burning his eyes when Jensen doesn’t seem to believe him, doesn’t pay attention to anything but whatever is going on in his own head. Jared rounds the table then, sitting down in front of Jensen. The wet carpet is squishy and soaking parts of his legs, but he can’t care about it right now. He places his palms on Jensen’s knees and he holds on even when Jensen tries to swat his hands away. “I broke up with him.”

Still, Jensen doesn’t look at him, his body shuddering and his mouth quivering with impending sobs. Jared moves one of his hands up, taking Jensen’s jaw in his palm and forcing the man to lock eyes with him. “I’m not here to have a repeat of last time; I’m here because I was wrong and you were right.” The way Jensen’s eyes flicker, filling with hope and wetness, Jared can’t help but smile at the man who holds his heart. Jensen doesn’t react, his body tense when Jared leans in to brush his lips against Jensen’s. It’s soft and short but Jared wanted to do this, feel Jensen, for so long it was beginning to shatter him. Slowly Jared pulls back, lickings his lips to chase after Jensen’s taste. “I’m so sorry for leaving you. If I had known what she did…” Jared feels queasy, his stomach giving him hell over the memory and he can’t finish the sentence, can’t bring himself to put into words what caused them to lose what they have had.

“You didn’t let me explain!” Jensen yells at him, his loud and alcohol-layered voice making Jared flinch. The man is miserable and Jared is partially to blame for that.

“And I’ll never forgive myself for that. All I knew was, what I thought I knew, that I wasn’t good enough for you. That, for some reason, you grew tired of me and wanted better. I thought you didn’t love me anymore and…” Jared stumbles over his words when the heartache from the past comes back full force and tries to pull him down. “I tried to hate you, fall out of love and after a while I managed to get my life in order again. The feelings I had for you, I… I had to bury them, lay them to rest but I failed. For so long I fought it and gave everything to forget but the truth is I don’t know how to not love you. I just don’t.”

Jensen’s eyes free a few tears and he blinks against it, his lips part slightly. There is fear, the obvious angst of speaking, of saying the wrong thing. “What does that mean, Jay?”

The weakness of Jensen’s voice is too much for Jared to bear and he moves in again, kissing Jensen softly. “I can’t go through with the divorce and I need you to come home.”

Suddenly and very unexpected, Jensen shakes his head and pulls out of Jared’s hold, pushes up on his wobbly legs and holds his hands out in front of him. “I… I’m too drunk for this.” Jensen says as he takes a few steps away from Jared. “Can you please leave?” Without another word, Jensen walks away, not sparing another glance at Jared and goes in the direction of the bedroom.

Jared can only stare after the other man. As the bedroom door audibly clicks closed, Jared feels the bile rising in his throat, fighting its way up and out. He barely makes it to kitchen sink to empty his stomach of all its contents. By the time his stomach calms down again, he is shaking so badly it takes forever to work the faucet and clean the sink. It is with great effort that Jared collects himself and fires his brain up to work properly. However, he makes due and pulls his toothbrush from the backpack he brought and stalks to the bathroom. If anything Jensen said during Jared’s last visit is still true, then Jared guesses the man doesn’t really want him to leave. Or maybe Jensen does, for however long that might be. Nonetheless, Jared ignores Jensen’s request, brushes his teeth and throws some cold water in his face. Once done, he rummages through the kitchen and prepares a glass of water for Jensen. Unsure if it is appreciated, Jared is more than edgy when he makes his way to Jensen’s bedroom. The door, thankfully, doesn’t creak when he opens it carefully. It is pitch black inside and the only sound in the room is Jensen’s uneasy breathing. Immediately Jared recognizes it, Jensen doesn’t sleep like that; the man is still awake and it makes his heart jump. Jared wants nothing more than sit down next to Jensen, hold him and promise the man that he is willing to do whatever it takes to make their lives one again. As it is though, Jensen was right in his statement; he is too drunk and Jared has a feeling that many hours of talking are necessary to mend both their bleeding hearts.

Setting the glass of water on the bedside table, Jared decides to leave Jensen’s bedroom without saying a word. It’s better this way; Jensen is too worked up at the moment.

Sleep doesn’t come to Jared, Jensen’s couch might be comfortable but his mind won’t give him a break. His stomach doesn’t help his case either; a few more times Jared races to the bathroom to heave. In conclusion, it was to be expected. In the past, Jared tried to bypass his heartache, focused on being a good father and doing his job right; distracting himself from thoughts of Jensen and their failed marriage. The current events leave him crushed with regret and guilt, giving his insides a difficult time to process the happenings.

Sometime in the early hours of the morning, Jared’s body must have given in to the exhaustion because he is restlessly thrashing on the couch when the feeling of a warm hand on his face and a soothing voice tries to pull him into consciousness. His lids are heavy when they flutter open, painfully adjusting to the bright sunlight filtering into the room. When he opens his eyes fully, he is face to face with Jensen, who is crouching in front of the couch and the worry-lines around his eyes are deeper than Jared has ever seen them.

“Jared? You alright?”

No, not at all. Jared hasn’t been alright in years and Jensen looking at him with so much concern isn’t making it easier. “Been better.” He slowly lifts his body into a sitting position, but regrets it the second he is upright. In an instant, Jared’s stomach roils and he breathes against the distress. “Been worse, too.”

“I need to apologize.” Jensen says then, scratching nervously at his neck. “Wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind when you showed up.” He continues and occupies the free space on Jared’s right side, tucking his leg underneath his butt so he can face Jared.

This is the exact Jensen he remembers, rueful and mature enough to admit when he has done something upsetting. It warms Jared’s heart, knowing that the old Jensen isn’t gone; he was only hidden under years of sorrow. “Do you remember any of the things I said?”

The smile Jensen gives him is blinding and answers his question already. “Everything. My head’s killing me and I’m surprised I didn’t puke all night, along with you, but my brain’s still working.”

So he knows and didn’t forget Jared’s heartfelt speech and how he bared his soul. On the other hand, Jensen’s words only confirm that he wasn’t sleeping and Jared feels mildly embarrassed. “Oh god, you heard all that, huh? I had a few drinks during the flight and then coming here, I guess I’m getting old, can’t hold my liquor anymore. My stomach’s just acting up with all of it.”

There is a look of uncertainty clouding Jensen’s eyes, his lips trembling and parting as if he wants to say more about it but doesn’t. They simply watch each other, nerves and emotions building a strong tension between them. Jared wants to break the silence, almost ready to beg for the man to come back home to Austin with him; a home that hasn’t been Jensen’s long before they moved to New York in 2006.

Fighting to find the right words, Jensen beats him to it, one of his hands going for Jared’s, covering it over Jared’s lap and engulfing it fully. The contact is innocent yet sparks a deep longing within him. “What are we going to do now?” Jensen’s tone is even but his hand tightens around him, shoving the man’s nervousness away. “We can’t just… you know, pretend the last years never happened. I wish it was that easy, but this isn’t solely about us, right?”

“Our son.” Jared whispers and lowers his head, eyes locking on their joined hands. Matthew is their number one priority, the first person to always consider in their every decisions. This situation is no exception, even though it’s no secret that their son would be thrilled to have both of his fathers back.

“Jay, more than anything I want to be with you, live with you and Matty and be a family again but we should ease him into it. If this is what you really want.” The man’s thumb begins caressing Jared’s knuckles, the touch a calming manner but both their hands shaking slightly with the new closeness. “I’m gonna be honest with you; if you say yes now, only to change your mind later, then… Jared, I couldn’t handle that. I’m barely keeping it together as it is.”

The words leave Jared breathless, his heart pains with Jensen’s honesty. He already figured that the other man has had a difficult time since Jared left and there will never come a time where he is not swimming in guilt over that fact. When he snaps his head back up, Jensen is still staring at him, his eyes soft and wet with unshed tears. “Not going to change my mind. I want this, Jensen. Want us. Since I know the truth, it’s all I can think about and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that I left, that I believed you’d purposely hurt me. I should’ve known better, or at least talk to you instead of running away.”

The hold on his hand loosens, Jensen giving the back of his hand one last brush before he lets it wander upwards, only stopping when it falls on Jared’s jaw, “Don’t, okay? Don’t be sorry because I don’t blame you, never did. Who knows how I would’ve reacted if our roles had been reversed.”

Jared has never thought of it that way, not until now and it makes him sick. If someone had been after Jared, drugged him to get into his pants and Jensen would have caught them in the act - he probably would have never made it as far as Jensen. Losing Jensen had always been one of his greatest fears and now that specific feeling is making itself prominent again, consuming him. His eyes sting when tears threaten to fall from them and he wants to blink against it. When he does, Jensen thumbs the tears away. Nothing has changed; Jared’s emotions, even though hidden and buried for many years, are still there and as strong as ever. When they got married, Jared knew that Jensen was it for him, that no other man would ever be able to compete, to complete Jared the way Jensen did. Jared wants very much to not think of any what ifs at the moment, he is certain that they will have many more conversations that will give his conscience a hard time. For now, he does what always seemed to calm him in the past and leans forward, taking Jensen’s lips into a kiss. Jensen catches on right away, parts his lips in invitation and for the first time in a long time Jared feels lighter, carefree, and deepens the kiss, putting his heart and love into their renewed desire for each other.

Jensen breaks their kiss then, his eyes hooded but his gaze stern. “I… no, not like this.” The man controls his breathing and moves away from Jared, the distance between them now almost too much. “All I wanted Jared, for five long years, was that you’d listen to me, that… that you’d give us another chance. I don’t…” Jensen lets his face fall into his hands, his head shaking slightly and lips trembling. “I always knew you were still in love with me, okay? It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. I mean, come on, we’ve been inseparable ever since we met. I know you, I’ve always been able to read you and I prayed someday you would fucking see that already." Jensen searches out Jared's eyes, finding them and holding their gaze. It seems like Jensen is reconsidering everything, his nervousness transferring to Jared in a heartbeat. "And now? Now that you’re finally here, I don’t know if we can do this. If I can do this.”

Jared is speechless; he is at a complete loss for words. A few minutes ago, Jensen sounded like he was ready to give them a chance and now it sounds anything but. It feels like a slap in the face yet Jared can’t even blame Jensen.

“What you saw last night,” Jensen’s eyes wet with tears as his hands move towards the coffee table. “That is me now. That is me trying to get over you. I’m not saying I do this every day, I don’t, but sometimes it’s just too much and I can’t find a way to deal other than shutting my brain up by getting shitfaced.”

He watches closely as Jensen becomes crippled with embarrassment and it kills Jared. It rips him apart from the inside out that he has driven Jensen into such dangerous actions. In this moment, he comes to the conclusion that Jensen deserves better, that even though they obviously love each other, Jared has screwed up too big to be deserving of a second chance. His heart shatters but he knows he has no other option. “If you still want me to leave…” his words break on a labored sob, tears turning his vision blurry. “Maybe it’s for the best if we don’t, you know, give this a try or whatever. I’ve clearly fucked up and I’ve hurt too many people already. I love you, Jensen but I can’t let this happen if you have doubts and hurt yourself along the way.”

“Jared, I said I want this, but it's hard and I need time. I gotta wrap my head around all of it and clear my mind. We should go slow and take it easy. I’ve been waiting for a long time, I can handle a little more.” The man’s eyes betray his words; Jared can see right through Jensen, that no, he probably can’t deal with much more. However, Jared doesn’t call him out on it, he is completely on board with anything Jensen suggests, as long as it doesn’t separate them again. “Maybe it’s good that we start by spending some time together. Not only you and I but also with Matty. I just, I need you to be absolutely sure,” Jensen almost whispers, his voice too shaky with nerves and fear of Jared changing his mind and leaving him again.

Spending time together, with their son, Jared is sure he has never heard anything more appealing and it definitely feels like Jensen is offering him the world. It’s a tiny step, but the both of them are so damaged that small steps are all they are strong enough for until they both build their way towards steady ground. He is painfully aware that the years spent apart have left a gaping hole in both their lives and if Jensen is willing to put his heart on the line to give this a try, willing to see if they can prove they can work together, then Jared is wholeheartedly on board. Hopefully, Jensen will see that Jared has always been serious about things in his life when it comes to Jensen. This is no exception. This is Jensen, the man he has fallen in love with when they were both young and free of troubles. Jared is willing to do everything if it brings them back together. “Yeah. Yeah, I think we can do that.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five, April 13th 2016, Austin/TX

Almost all morning his practice had been quiet, as usual; mostly the elderly come before noon to get their fur babies through checkups and shots. The afternoons are always busier, after rush hour when people get off from work and finally have time to take their pets to him. Now Jared reads through a few files, checking his appointments for the afternoon and making a note to call Mrs. Baxter in first, as soon as she shows up with her eleven-year-old labrador. The mutt is suffering from severe diabetes and Jared tried to teach her long ago how to give injections, but Mrs. Baxter can’t even watch her dog get the shots, much less apply them herself. So, she comes in three times a week and stays clear of his office until Jared is done with the necessary treatment.

“Dude, it’s only Wednesday. Why the hell ‘you smiling like it’s already Friday?” Chad, his best friend since high school and favorite assistant, flicks at his ear.

“Ow! I just like my job.” Jared waves him off and sticks his nose back into the folder on his desk. He still hasn’t told Chad about what is happening with Jensen. His best friend was ready to kill Jensen five years ago and whenever he mentions his son’s other father, Chad only growls, vein popping on his forehead and ready to strike.

“Right. You broke it off with Al what, two weeks ago? And now you’ve got that weird look on your face, like…” Chad plops his ass on the edge of the desk, kicking at Jared’s chair until it’s spinning so he is facing Chad. “...whoa, there’s someone else, isn’t there?”

Jared tries his best to avoid Chad’s squinty stare and nervously bites at his bottom lip until it starts hurting. Chad won’t take the news well, Jared is sure of that, which is why he doesn’t want his friend to find out yet, not until everything with Jensen is well on its way to working out and they know how to handle their relationship. “Yeah, there’s someone. Now, do you mind? I gotta get this stuff ready; Mrs. Baxter’s probably already on her way.”

Chad isn’t having any of it and crosses his arms over his chest, “You used to always tell me what’s going on in your life.” His best friend sounds all but disappointed and upset, his voices weak. “But lately you keep pushing me away. The new guy having you on a short leash or something?”

That is pretty much the most ridiculous thing Jared has ever heard and it makes Chad sound like a jealous boyfriend. Though, the man has a point, Jared has been neglecting their friendship in the last couple of months. “We’re still figuring things out.” Again, Jared leaves unspoken for the time being. There is no lie in there, he and Jensen lost many years and they do have to figure each other out again. Jared still doesn’t know exactly how to do that; it feels like starting at zero again. But, he knows, it will be worth it, if it means being with Jensen again. And that is all he can think of since he left New York on Saturday evening. Jensen offered to take him to the airport but Jared refused. Not because he didn’t want to, but they both agreed on taking small steps and not rushing into anything. “I just need some time, okay? I’ll give you all the gory details, I will, but right now it feels too good to be true and like I’d jeopardize it all when I so much as talk about it.”

Chad untangles his arms from over his chest and slaps them over his own thighs, “..shit, man. You’re so gone.” His best friend snorts and finally leaves Jared be.

Gone is the understatement of the century, but Jared doesn’t comment on it any further. For now he is glad that Chad is off his back.

When the waiting room starts filling with his fury patients and their owners, Jared pokes his head out to take a look around but Mrs. Baxter isn’t there yet so he calls Mr. Howards and his annoying turtle in first. Jared loves all animals, he does, but Fred the turtle is an exception. The wild snapper is a crazy one and loves to bite when Jared comes close. It makes his work all the more difficult and he is more than happy that he doesn’t get bit this time. He feels triumphant and happy when he can send the biter and his owner on their merry way.

“Mrs. Baxter just walked in, I’mma go get her.” Chad informs him and makes his way to the office’s door.

Her labrador greets Jared like an old friend, sniffing and licking at his hand even though he knows well enough that Jared is going to stick a needle into his butt in a few minutes. “Hey there Riceball.” He pats the snow-white dog and gives him a proper scratch behind the ears.

“Dr. Ackles, hello.” Mrs. Baxter holds out a nervous hand for him and Jared shakes it, covering their joined hands with his other one while giving her a reassuring smile.

“Good to see you, Mrs. Baxter. Chad will bring Riceball back out to you when I’m finished, okay?” It’s the same spiel as always and the woman is out of his office before her dog is even on his examination table.

While Jared lifts the labrador up on his table, Chad prepares the needed injection and hands him a pair of gloves. Just as Jared slips into them, there is a knock at the other door in his office, the one for staff only. Chad looks at him in confusion and shrugs his shoulders, “...come on in.” His assistant calls in the direction of the door.

Jared doesn’t pay attention to the door in favor of sanitizing Riceball’s butt cheek and drives the needle in gently but quickly so as to not bother the dog more than really necessary.

“Hey dad!” Matthew’s cheery voice fills the room and Jared’s eyes grow in curiosity.

“Matt? What are you doing here?” Worry settles deep in Jared’s guts because Matthew isn’t suppose to be at his practice. His son should be with Samantha, their next door neighbor, who is also responsible for watching Matthew until Jared gets off from work. She has been Matt’s go-to nanny ever since Jared and his son moved into the neighborhood. “Where’s Sam?”

“Papa picked me up from school and we wanted to surprise you.” Matthew frowns when Jared doesn’t seem to appreciate his son being there.

“Hi Jared.” Jensen steps through the door next and gives Jared a mega-watt smile that makes Jared’s knees weak and his heart beat faster. The expression Jensen carries looks promising; maybe they can really find their way to each other again.

“Jensen?” Jared searches his brain, trying to figure out if he passed out for a few weeks and it’s already April 29th. But it isn’t and Jensen isn’t supposed to be here.

“Yeah, got a few days off and thought I’d spend them with Matty.” Jensen gives him a strange look and Jared needs a moment to collect his brain cells and understand the silent conversation between them.

Jared snaps his gloves off then and does the mistake of looking at Chad when he helps Riceball down to the floor. His friend has his eyes set with anger. “Chad, I’m done here, could you bring him back out to Mrs. Baxter, please?” Chad grits his teeth but does as he is told.

“Well,” Jared turns his attention back to Matthew, giving the boy a tight hug and ruffling his hair, “that’s good. But what about Sam? She was supposed to pick Matt up.”

“I know.” Jensen begins to explain, “I drove to school a little earlier to wait for her. She knows Matty’s with me.”

That calms Jared, knowing that Sam won’t worry or report Matthew as missing. The case never actually happened, but Samantha knows that Jensen can always pick their son up without calling for permission. There was never a point in his life when Jared denied Jensen being part of Matthew’s life, much less keep the two from seeing each other. Jared wonders if Jensen took a few days off for their son or for them, if maybe, Jensen misses him as much as he misses Jensen.

“Okay, good. So, you two made plans already?” Jared has to take his eyes off of Jensen, looking at their son instead. If he keeps staring at Jensen he might want to close their distance and jump his bones and that would only raise very awkward questions and probably confuse Matthew.

“We wanna go to K1, the go-kart place. But papa said I have to get my homework done first.” Their son’s mouth shifts into a disappointed frown and he huffs out a labored breath.

“Your papa’s right, homework first.” Jared says while he cleans up the examination table for his next patient. As much as he loves to have Jensen and their son there, he still has a lot of work ahead of him.

Jensen clears his throat then and shuffles from one foot to the other until Jared looks at him again, “when do you want me to bring him back?”

“Seven, seven thirty at the latest. Though, if you two have dinner when you’re out then about eight is good too.” Jared always has trouble waking Matthew up in the mornings and the longer he stays awake, the harder it is for the boy to get out of bed the next morning.

“Perfect.” Jensen smiles happily at Jared and their son. “Hey Matty,” the man fishes a pair of keys out of his pockets and holds them out for Matthew, “why don’t you go wait in the car? Your dad and I need to talk about something.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes, you do. Dad and I have grown-up stuff to talk about.” Jensen’s voice turns demanding and strong, the kind of voice that tells Matthew that there is no room for arguing and he better obey. Jared doesn’t interfere, he knows better than that because they have always been on the same page when it involves Matthew and their parenting.

The second Matthew is out of earshot, Jensen steps into Jared’s personal space, hands flying greedily to Jared’s jaw and he pulls him down for a needy kiss. A longing sensation washes over Jared when Jensen sweeps his tongue between his lips, the taste of peppermint gum and pure Jensen dragging a broken moan from his throat.

“Thought…” Jared breathes against Jensen’s lips and swallows his surprise down, “you said to take it slow.”

The shy smile tugging at the other man’s mouth is almost enough for Jared to melt on the spot. “Slow, right. Couldn’t resist.” It seems like Jensen wants to say more but instead he captures Jared’s lips again, allowing them to enjoy the short moment of togetherness. They might have shared a couple of innocent kisses in New York, but it amazes Jared how this still feels like a first kiss all over again. His heart speeds up crazily all while his stomach twists and turns. If this is Jensen’s definition of slow, then Jared can’t wait to see what not slow has in store for them.

A door bangs shut somewhere behind Jared and he pulls away from Jensen’s lips immediately. He turns to see what the commotion is about and his eyes lock with Chad’s shocked expression.

“Uh, I better get going.” Jensen stutters into the suddenly silent room. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

“Yeah.” Jared swallows after answering, his eyes still on Chad and he can’t breathe, even after Jensen leaves the room again.

“What the hell, Jared! Is that a joke?” Chad spits out, jaw locked tight. “Please tell me he isn’t your someone.”

This is exactly why Jared hasn’t said anything to his best friend yet. Chad could never look past the hurt Jared went through, never saw the good in Jensen again. Sometimes it even was so bad, that Chad tried to bash Jensen’s parenting skills or question why Jared let the man see Matthew in the first place. Jared never held it against Chad, even though he doesn’t tolerate it, but Chad still has a hard time dealing with his own divorce and the loss of custody for his daughter. He will never say it, but Chad is bitter and heartbroken over how his ex wife screwed him over. Maybe, there is even a tinge of jealousy in Chad because no matter what happened between Jensen and him, it never changed the way how they think of each other as fathers.

“Chad, I know you can’t understand…-”

“No, I really don’t. Are you out of your mind?” Anger turns Chad’s voice heavy and berserk. “You left Al for… for him? For your ex. Who, I might remind you, cheated on you.”

“I don’t have to explain myself to you, but you’re my best friend and I need you to trust me.” Jared slumps against the examination table, his hip bones digging into the cold metal. “Jensen and I… Chad, you of all people know how much I loved that man. And I still do.” He squeezes the bridge of his nose, avoiding Chad’s intense look of disbelief.

“Fuck, Jared.” Chad’s tone grows softer with Jared’s plea and he joins him, plastering his smaller frame to Jared’s side. “I know you do, but I can’t wrap my head around it. Not after I was there when your world fell apart.”

For a moment Jared lets the man’s words circle his mind, trying to not remember how bad of a condition Jared was in when he came back to Austin. Then Chad’s words hit him, “what do you mean you know?”

“All these dates and then the engagement with Al, your heart was never truly in it; a blind man could see that. But I seriously hoped you’d move on, for your own sake.”

First Jensen, then his mother and now Chad, too. How come everybody knows his heart better than Jared? How is it possible that everybody knew where his heart belongs but Jared was oblivious. “I wanna give this a chance, I have to. It was always Jensen who I wanted to be with and I’m asking you to respect my decision.” Jared gives Chad a stern look, staring him down because he doesn’t want to have to decide between his best friend and the man he loves. If it would actually come to such drastic measures, then Chad wouldn’t like the outcome.

“Of course, yeah. I’m just worried, alright?” Chad nods at him, a small smile tugging at his lips. The reaction is better than Jared had first guessed and he is certain that, soon enough, Chad will see that Jared isn’t making a mistake.

Chad doesn’t mention Jensen again for the rest of the afternoon and Jared is glad for it. He knows that deep down his friend is still struggling with the revelation and it’s difficult for him to bite his tongue.

***

On his way back home Jared stops to grab himself some Chinese takeout. Sure, he had a decent lunch but, somehow, with the recent mental stress, he is eating more. He never used to eat when he was down, he rarely compensated for sadness with food. Lately, however, he seems hungry all the time and he can only hope that the things between him and Jensen will work out soon. Otherwise, he might end up overweight and needing to roll himself through life.

Once at home and in his kitchen, Jared loads the wide variety of food onto plates. In the containers it didn’t look like much, but now that he can see the food laid out, he thinks that maybe it is just a tad too much. He devours one of the spring rolls before he even sits down and wolfs down some shrimp and noodles right after. Filling his still growling stomach with the appetizer last, his belly slowly registers all the food and Jared can barely move anymore. It feels an awful lot like a food coma is just around the corner and he leaves the empty plates and bowls on the kitchen table for later clean up, in favor of stretching himself out on the couch. For well over half an hour, Jared tries to get comfortable, but his stomach is complaining, twisting and cramping; a mix of too full and still hungry. Another few minutes later his stomach finally makes up its mind and decides on way too full and Jared races to the bathroom, giving shrimp and dim sun a repeat performance. It is the second time in less than a week that he has to puke his guts out, but whereas in New York it was clearly nerves, he can only hope that this time it’s not something worse, like food poisoning. Since he always brews Matthew a cup of fennel tea when his son has an upset stomach, he tries it himself now and settles back on the couch. The tea is, nicely put, disgusting but his stomach seems to like it so he empties the cup without much bitching and enjoys some late afternoon TV until Jensen brings their son back.

Ten minutes after eight, they finally arrive and before New York happened, Jared would have complained about it, give Jensen hell over not sticking to the rules. Now he can’t even fathom the idea of being mad at Jensen over something so small, especially when the man looks at him all apologetic and apologizes before either of them get a ‘hello’ over their lips.

“I’m sorry, Jared. I know you said 8, but we drove a few extra laps and totally forgot the time,” Jensen says, his hands on their son’s shoulders as he searches Jared’s face for trouble ahead or not.

“Yeah, it was so cool, dad. I wanna do that again!” Matthew is beyond excited, his face almost splitting in half as he cranes his neck to look up at Jensen and then back to Jared, as if asking for permission and get his fathers to agree.

“Guess you guys had a blast, huh?”

Somewhere in the living room, Jared’s cell phone starts ringing, which is a surprise. But, Matthew not being with him, is the only exception when his phone isn’t on silent. He ignores it for the time being but a few seconds after the tone dies down, it starts all over again. “I think I should get that.” Jared says and walks to the living room. He keeps his eyes on Matthew, watches how the boy takes his shoes off and Jensen doesn’t move, only leans against the doorframe and mirrors Jared’s content smile towards their son.

“Ackles.” Jared speaks into the phone when he connects the call to an unfamiliar number on the display.

“Jared? This is Ruth Connell, Sebastian’s mother.” The woman’s worried voice greets him. Her son and Matthew have been sitting next to each other in class since first grade. They are friends at school but never seem to do much together once school is over. So, it’s a little strange that Ruth calls him.

“Ruth, hi.” Jared is confused, there was never a reason for her to call, much less that late in the evening. “What can I do for you?”

Her breath hitches before she eventually answers. “Our cat just came inside, ripped at least three of his claws off and I don’t know what to do. He’s bleeding really bad and doesn’t let me near.”

Jared lets the words linger on his brain for a moment. He doesn’t usually take on patients after his practice is closed and always sends people to the clinic for emergency visits. But, he also knows that Ruth is in a tight situation these days. Matthew had let it slip that Sebastian’s mother lost her job only a few weeks ago, which was why her son couldn’t join their class’s trip to the zoo last week. That is probably why she called him, the clinic charges almost double his prices. As much as he would like to help her, he can’t possibly leave Matthew alone. “Uh, Ruth, could you give me one second, please?”

“Yeah, of course, sure.”

Jared covers the speaker of the phone by pressing it against his chest while he walks towards the door, facing Jensen. “Jensen, would you mind checking next door if Samantha’s home?”

The man eyes him in confusion, “what’s wrong?”

“Work. An emergency and I think I have to head to the practice. I need Sam to watch Matt.” Jared nibbles at his lips, impatient and somewhat annoyed. He doesn’t exactly like bothering Sam on short notice but Jared also knows that the woman never really minds.

“I’m here. I can stay with him until you come back.” Jensen hurries the words out and his eyes go a little wide when he realizes what he just offered.

Suddenly, their nosy son’s ears are back in the game and Jared knows what’s coming next. “Oh ya. Dad, please? Can papa stay with me?”

Jensen and he agreed on easing their son into the very possibility of his papa being a constant part of their life again and the current situation seems to be handing them a perfect opportunity, a given start to have Jensen around more often. Jared’s eyes lower to the threshold, Jensen’s feet are still outside. He holds the phone back to his ear and takes a step aside, “Ruth, can you meet me at my practice?”

“Yes, definitely. Thank you so much, Jared. You’re a Godsent.” She audible calms down at the prospect of her cat receiving professional treatment soon.

“Alright, I’ll be there in twenty minutes.” Jared tells Ruth and says his goodbye for the time being.

Jared feels nervous and somehow overwhelmed when he cocks his head, indicating for Jensen to finally come inside. The other man looks just as emotional and they share an awkward shy smile.

“I won’t take long.” Jared has dealt with many lost claws in his career, it happens to most cats at some point and stray cats deal with it on their own. But, of course, he understands Ruth’s worry and it’s better to be safe than sorry. “It’s nothing too serious.” Jensen nods at him but Jared has the feeling that the other man doesn’t even listen. His eyes are everywhere and nowhere, probably taking everything in. “Jensen?”

“Yeah?” Now the man is focusing on him as his gaze lands on Jared again.

“I’d give you the tour, but I gotta leave.”

“‘s fine. I’ll just… you know, get Matty ready for bed.”

Their son chooses that moment to groan in annoyance, wrapping his small frame around his papa’s middle. “Do I really have to go to bed already? I wanna show papa my room. He’s never seen it before.”

Something fierce pulls at Jared’s heart, a feeling of guilt at the realization that an action so simple had been withheld from Jensen for so long. “Okay. But then: shower and bed.” When he looks back at Jensen the man mouthes a ‘thank you’ to him. “I’ll be back soon. If you need anything…”

“We’ll be fine. I’m sure Matty will show me where everything’s at. Right, buddy?” Jensen palms the top of their son’s hair, brushing his fingers through the crazy mess in a loving manner and gives the boy a proud smile.

“Yep.” Matthew excitedly squeals and untangles his body from his father. “Come on, papa. My room’s upstairs.” He tugs at Jensen’s hand and the man raises his eyebrows questioningly at Jared.

“Looks like I’m not needed here anymore.” Jared grins at the two of them and gives their son a goodnight-hug before he watches them take the stairs two steps at the time.

***

When he arrives at his practice, he parks directly in front of the entrance and spots Ruth right away, the woman is crouching on the steps, talking to her cat through the cat carrier.

It takes Jared some time to calm the cat and for a moment he plays with the idea of putting the animal under for easier treatment, but, eventually decides against it. Just as he has assumed, it isn’t that bad. Three claws were completely ripped out and the dewclaw is a lost cause. In the end, Jared puts the cat under anyway because he has to remove the dewclaw; it’s already too loose and stitching it back on is almost impossible upon closer look.

Ruth is still with him, watching Jared’s every move but she stays quiet, doesn’t interrupt and lets Jared do his job. Not every pet owner is that trusting, which is why he prefers to have them waiting outside instead of inside the office to comment on everything he does.

After Jared wraps the cat’s paw up in a bandage, he puts a small cone of shame over the pet’s head. The little one is going to hate it, but it is more than necessary to keep the cat from licking at the wound.

“All done, Ruth. He’ll be as good as normal in a couple of days. Just make sure to mix some painkillers in his food if you notice he’s feeling off.” Jared hands her a pack of medicine from his locked cabinet. “Don’t hesitate giving me another call, in case he’s reacting to the meds. And, check the bandage in a couple of days, to make sure it’s not getting infected.”

“Thank you so much, Jared. I’m sorry I had to bother you, I just didn’t know what to do. This crazy cat’s been my baby for twelve years.” Ruth looks up at Jared with tears in her eyes as her hands find their way to the cat’s back, scratching it softly. “How much do I owe you?”

Jared calculates the treatment, medication and his time. He comes up with a three-figure sum and makes a decision. Jared would feel bad if Ruth’s son has to pass on more school trips or if they don’t have enough cash to get groceries, so he smiles at Ruth, “nothing. Free of charge.”

“I can’t accept that. Your time alone’s like, what, about fifty to eighty dollars? And then the medication…” Ruth blushes at him, her eyes covered in something that is close to shame.

“Something like that. You can donate the leftover painkillers to a shelter or me to use here.” As long as the pills are still sealed, Jared can always use them again and that is a better option than paying for it from his own wallet.

She keeps thanking him, even goes as far as crushing her petite body against his for a tight hug. Jared enjoys the gesture and hugs Ruth back just as much. He knows, if the woman could, she would pay him exactly what she should. But, for now, her gratefulness and the happy smile on her face are enough payment for him.

***

The house is quiet when he unlocks the door, all lights are off and only the flickering of the TV shows that somebody is home. Without making any noise, Jared takes his shoes off, hangs his jacket and steps further into the living room. On the screen, the Blu Ray menu of ‘Despicable Me’ plays on a loop and Jared stifles a snort when one of the minions whacks the other one over the head. He thinks one of them is called Dave, but he always gets them wrong. His son, however, remembers all their names. It’s one of Matthew’s favorite movies and the boy has a whole collection of stuffed minions, thanks to Jensen who keeps bringing him more and sends their son keychains and posters whenever the man stumbles upon new merchandise.

What makes Jared gasp is the sight he’s confronted with when he rounds the couch. Jensen is wrapped around their son as he lays on his side, biceps used as a makeshift pillow for Matthew. They are both dead to the world, sound asleep and peacefully breathing. There is a huge wet spot on Jensen’s chest, indicating that Matthew’s mop of hair hasn’t seen a blow-dryer after his shower. Jared doesn’t want to wake them up, he wants to enjoy this moment and dwell in it. Matthew was still so little when he has last seen the two of them together like this and it hits Jared straight in the heart when he realizes how badly he missed this and how desperately he wants this to be an everyday occurrence. He promises himself that he will do whatever it takes to make it work with Jensen again. Their feelings for each other are not an issue, that is a part with no need to be fixed, but everything else requires both men to learn how to be an item again.

Jared walks closer then and he reaches out for Jensen, cupping the man’s stubbled cheek to wake him gently. “Hey, Jensen,” he whispers and brushes his thumb along Jensen’s cheekbone until he stirrs. “Time to wake up,” he says and slowly, pulling his hand back.

Jensen blinks up at him, green eyes trying to focus and when they do, he smiles at Jared. “What time is it?”

“Long after ten.”

Confusion settles on Jensen’s face, as if he is trying to figure out where he is and why he fell asleep. Then his hold on their son tightens, his flat palm smoothing over Matthew’s chest. “Oh. Sorry, didn’t mean to doze off.”

“All good, but I’ll have to get that little monster to bed.” Jared carefully lifts their son up, who doesn’t even wake when Jared has him in a secure hold. “Be right back.”

Just as he lowers Matthew into his bed and tucks him in, the boy wakes for a short moment, “where’s papa?”

“Downstairs. Sleep now.” Jared gives his son a kiss on the forehead and lays his favorite stuffed toy next to him.

“‘s papa gonna stay with us?” His son turns pleading eyes at him and Jared has a ‘yes’ ready on his tongue but he can’t bring himself to say it. It’s too soon to have this conversation with Matthew.

“No, but before he leaves I’ll ask him to come see you tomorrow.” It’s the most he can offer their son for now.

“Okay. Love you, dad.”

“Love you too, Matt.” Jared leaves the room with a heavy heart, ready to talk to Jensen. They really need to figure out their next steps. This is definitely harder than Jared first assumed. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but if he and Jensen are going to do this then they have to be careful so as to not turn Matthew’s world upside down.

As Jared enters the living room again, Jensen is busy arranging the comforter and pillows, removing all evidence of the man and their son being cuddled up on the couch only a few minutes ago. When Jensen notices him, the man stops his hands for a second before throwing the last pillow into the far corner of the couch.

“Jared, can we talk?” The uncertainty in Jensen’s voice scares him, especially since the man doesn’t look at him and hovers.

Jared fears whatever comes next, “...sure.” He sits down on the couch, his back against the armrest and one leg pulled up to his chest like a spooked animal.

Jensen is still standing, palm rubbing against the back of his neck and lips quivering. “Okay, uh…” Eventually Jensen takes a seat on the other end of the couch and Jared doesn’t like it. This is not good, whatever the other man wants to talk about must be serious. “Last year, when I didn’t come to see Matty for a long time…”

Jared’s heart starts beating faster with the memory, the fear back in his bones when he thought Jensen was giving up on their son. “Four months,” he adds to Jensen’s words, laying it out there with an edge of hurt and disappointment. He never received an explanation for why Jensen hadn’t shown up, or barely talked to Matthew during that time. Jared had been left to pick up the pieces of their crying son.

“Yeah, I know. It’s been tough.” Jensen sounds as sorry as he looks, his tone sincere and pained. Jared doesn’t mention how tough it really was, for their son. The boy cried more than Jared could handle when his father almost disappeared out of his life. “During that time, I mean, it was after I knew that Aldis moved in.” Jensen doesn’t look at him, plays with some invisible spot on his jeans instead and keeps picking at it. “I’ve kinda lost control over myself when I heard about it.”

Jared never guessed that Aldis moving in with him could have anything to do with Jensen neglecting his responsibilities, but thinking about it now, knowing that Jensen never stopped loving him, that the other man occasionally slipped, it makes sense now. “What happened?” The question leaves his mouth without him being close to ready for the answer.

“I always hoped that you’d somehow, by some miracle, come back to me. But then, then Matty told me your new boyfriend’s living with you and I just lost it. Hope, I’d lost hope, myself and I hit rock bottom.” Jensen exhales heavily, the weight of those words a burden that is finally set free. Jared wonders how deep the man’s hurt really goes, how badly Jensen must have suffered ever since they split. “There was just nothing left, I felt empty and betrayed. Piece by piece, I watched my world crumble and…” Jensen stops then, his lips pressed into a thin line. When tears begin to turn the man’s eyes glassy, Jared wants nothing more than to reach out and hold Jensen, promise him that he will never let it come that far again. However, he can’t. Jared is frozen to the spot and doubts that Jensen will share more if either of them move an inch or if he interrupts the things Jensen is openly sharing with him.

“I knew I had to pull myself together, for Matty and for my own sake. But, as it was, I couldn’t do it alone. The studio’s boss was ready to fire me because I showed up drunk, a few times too often.” For the first time since Jensen started talking, he is finally looking at Jared, his eyes fill with shame and Jared knows he should say something, that he is sorry for never paying attention to how bad of a condition Jensen was in. Though, Jared stays quiet. No matter what he can say, the words won’t be enough to heal the wounds Jensen carries.

“Most of my friends still don’t understand why it’s been so difficult for me to let go. And it was obvious they couldn’t help me. So, I looked into other possibilities and checked myself into therapy.” Jensen smirks at that, like he can’t believe he had to take that route.

“What kind of therapy?” Jared asks, curiosity taking the better of him.

“Well, first I thought I needed to get my alcohol consumption under control. Turns out that this wasn’t an issue, because I didn’t actually need it, the alcohol; it just helped to forget. What was an issue is that I simply needed to talk it all out and I’ve been in therapy ever since.” Jensen looks away again, his gaze focused on something behind Jared and it hurts, that the man can’t keep his eyes on him.

Jared himself doesn’t look away, he can’t, he needs to see Jensen and watch him, look for words that aren’t spoken. “So, you’re still seeing your therapist?”

“Once a week, yeah.”

Probably on Tuesdays, Jared thinks because that is the only day of the week Jensen never calls their son, never even sends a message. “Does it help? I mean, you didn’t look like your therapist is doing that great of a job when I came to New York last weekend.” The memory still makes Jared uncomfortable. It is one thing to know that the man you love suffers, but it’s a whole new level of ache when you watch that man losing control and crashing hard under the influence of liquor.

“She’s actually proud I didn’t full on hit relapse after you and I had sex.” Jensen smiles at that, but his gaze doesn’t reach Jared. “Still, it threw me and I thought I’d fall again. Definitely a close call.”

“Jensen, I had no idea. I mean, we both wanted it and I certainly wasn’t thinking straight, but if I had known what that would do to you...” Then what? In New York, Jared was completely out of his mind and when he learned the truth, all his walls came down and the hidden feelings for the man crushed him. Jared couldn’t have stopped himself, even if he wanted to. The second Jensen’s lips and hands were on him, Jared was gone and all rational thinking left his brain. But, then again, hurting Jensen is something that pains Jared and if he had known how much suffering Jensen has been going through, maybe it wouldn’t have gone that far. Which also means, they wouldn’t be sitting together now, having this conversation in the first place. All his thoughts are conflicting and Jared isn’t sure if he should be happy or start crying.

Jensen ushers closer, his hands coming to rest on Jared’s knee, covering Jared’s hands and the warmth is enough to calm Jared’s nerves. “No, hey, I’m not saying it’s your fault. I could’ve said no too, you know. And, uh, there is actually a reason why I’m telling you all this.” Their hands are shaking, trembling with anxious energy and Jensen doesn’t let go, he holds on and waits for their eyes to lock.

“I’m listening.” And, in all honesty, Jared is still waiting for everything to come crashing down, the moment Jensen realizes that Jared doesn’t deserve another chance, especially when he is to blame for Jensen needing therapy.

Jensen removes his hand from Jared’s knee, letting it fall down the length of Jared’s leg, onto his socked foot to play with the hem of Jared’s jeans. The man probably isn’t aware of what he is doing, but Jared can see it: Jensen is scared. “My therapist, she suggested that you join me for a few sessions.”

“Why?” Jensen looks offended at the question and Jared realizes that maybe he seems disinterested, which he isn’t, the request only sounds odd. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m just curious why she believes that to be a good idea. Do you want me to be there?”

“I think so.” Jensen twirls his pointer finger into the material until it’s tight around Jared’s ankle. The man looks just like their son in this moment, when Matthew tries to apologize for being bad. “I don’t know. But, it sounds like something we should think about. It might help us.”

Jared slowly pulls Jensen’s finger free, releasing him from the jeans in favor of taking Jensen’s hand in his own. “Jensen, I’ll go, if you want me to, but I thought we’re clear on what we feel for each other.” He waits until Jensen finally looks at him again before he continues, “I’m not entirely sure how your therapist can help us in that department; that we actually need help with that.” It’s the truth, Jared doesn’t need a professional to tell him that he loves Jensen, that he is still in love with him. But, it seems like Jensen is worried about more than just their love for each other.

“True, yeah. Though, there’s a lot going on in my head, alright? I just told you that these last years weren’t exactly easy for me and you suddenly realizing that you still have feelings for me, that you want me back in your life, it’s messing with me. I know you’re telling the truth, I know that but there’s a part of me that’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.” There is a prominent change in Jensen’s posture, an uncertainty clouding the man’s eyes. But, as fast at the expression appeared it vanishes again, replaced by a small content smile. “Remember how we used to always talk everything through, how we spent hours talking when we hit a rough spot?” Jensen turns pleading eyes at him, searching Jared’s face until Jared agrees with a little nod. “We’ve been living separate lives for five years now and if we want this to work, then we need to find our way back to the way we used to be. It might be difficult, but I want to do this and an outsider opinion is probably a nice addition to get us back on track. And if you don’t like her, then we can find someone else.”

It makes sense. Perfectly so. Jared, however isn’t exactly sure that they will ever be the way they used to be again. Of course, that is what he wants and he will do anything to make it happen. “I hate to say it, but you might be right.” Jared chuckles and when he feels his dimples bore into his cheeks, Jensen’s face lights up. The man’s eyes shine, as if Jared has just declared his undying love for Jensen. Which, considering their situation, isn’t that far off. It has taken Jared a few years, but he keeps proving to himself that his feelings for Jensen are, in fact, immortal.

The thought of couple’s therapy raises a whole nother question for Jared. “Uh, your therapist, I assume she’s located in New York, right?”

Before Jensen answers, he looks like he is trying to figure something out. “Yes, but I don’t think she would mind flying down here.” Jensen shrugs, as if it is the most normal thing for a shrink to do.

Squinty eyed and doubtful, Jared shifts his gaze to Jensen. “What kind of therapist flies all over the country to see their patient?”

“One who’s getting paid almost half a grand per hour.” Jensen smiles at him, sheepishly. “If it’s okay with you, I’ll talk to her and see if I can get her to work out an appointment for us.”

Looking into Jensen’s hopeful eyes, Jared is ready to buy whatever Jensen is selling. “Sounds good.” Jared doesn’t even care if he has to take another few trips to New York, in case Jensen’s therapist doesn’t do traveling. All Jared cares about is that Jensen and he find their way, that they can be together again; a family. “So, we’re really doing this?” The question leaves Jared’s mouth faster than his brain can keep up. Of course they are doing this, it’s why they are having that conversation to begin with.

“Yeah, we are.” Jensen starts moving then, his eyes flickering, roaming over all of Jared’s face as his hands wander towards Jared’s neck. “I’m not letting you go again, you know that, right?” Jensen’s warm breath comes closer, his lips trembling with the playful threat and Jared is aware of Jensen waiting for some sort of confirmation, an agreement, a promise.

“‘m not going anywhere.” Unless you’re coming with, Jared thinks to himself and closes the gap between them, tentatively brushing his lips against Jensen’s. Their kiss is the complete opposite of the one they shared at Jared’s practice in the afternoon. It’s soft and speaks of commitment; and yet, without a doubt, it‘s the most emotional, intimate contact they have had in a very long time.

Neither of them seems to be willing to change their easy pace as they enjoy each other and lose track of time. Jared’s heart is ready to beat out through his ribcage and if Jensen notices how nervous he is, the man ignores it in favor of parting his lips invitingly, granting Jared access to let the tips of their tongues connect in slowmotion. Jared wants nothing more than to keep Jensen exactly where he is: with him, in a house that has been waiting for the man since day one.

A creaking of a door upstairs forces them to pull apart, both breathing heavily when they stare at each other as if being caught doing something wrong. “Matt?” Jared cranes his neck towards the stairs, ears ready to pick up any sounds.

Their son growls, footsteps growing harder. “Have ‘o pee.”

“You think he saw?” Jensen’s quiet whisper makes Jared to look back at the other man.

“What? Nah, he probably doesn’t even realize we’re still down here.” Their son is such a heavy sleeper that he mostly walks through the house like a blind man when his bladder gets him up at night. “But, maybe, we shouldn’t… you know, when he’s around; asleep or not.” It’s a difficult task keeping his hands and mouth off of Jensen, especially after knowing that his heart is still screaming for it. However, they are both aware that they need to tone it down, take it one step at the time in showing Matthew that his fathers want to rebuild their family.

Jensen smiles knowingly, yet there is an edge of disappointment. If Jared reads the man right, then the disappointment is more from lack of patience than anything else. “Proposition,” Jensen wets his lips and the corners of his mouth turn into an excited smirk. “I’m not leaving ‘til Monday. How about I pick Matty up from school tomorrow and Friday; spend some time with him. And, on Saturday the three of us do something together?”

The idea is almost perfect. Almost. “I’d like that, but don’t you think he’ll wonder why we suddenly spend time together?”

“I’ll figure something out. Listen, Jared. We gotta start getting the three of us together at some point and I’ll just suggest that Matty and I should ask you to join us. I’m sure he’ll be thrilled.” Jensen’s teeth begin to worry at his bottom lip, a small fraction of fear shadowing the man’s face and Jared wants to lean in and kiss the negativity away. “If it goes well, which I’m sure it will,” Jensen continues, takes a look in the direction of the stairs to make sure their son is back in bed and goes on, “I’d like to settle Samantha with Matty Saturday night. I really, very much so want to take you out.”

Jared squints at the question, unsure of what Jensen is asking, “like… a date?”

“Definitely a date. I know how much you love Uchi’s down on Lamar Boulevard.” Jensen all but wiggles his eyebrows, knowing full well that Jared is the last person on earth who would say no to Uchi’s.

Also, they both know that Jensen will end up eating dry rice. “You hate sushi.” Jared reminds him.

“And you love it. So, what do you say?”

There is not an ounce of refusal within Jared, not because he loves to stuff his face with raw fish, but because he can’t think of anything better than spending time with Jensen and having the man to himself. “I say you got yourself a date, Mr. Ackles.”

Chapter Text

Chapter Six, April 16th 2016, Austin/TX

Jared should have known that giving Jensen the reins, allowing the other man to plan their Saturday was a mistake. The second Jensen picked him and their son up for a fun day, all of Jared’s alarms went off. They always had a different definition of fun. For Jared, having fun means an easy and lazy day with lots of laughter. However, for Jensen it still means that all of them will be so exhausted that they won’t be able to walk for two weeks. Jared never was a ‘go go go’ type of person, but he can be that person every now and then for Jensen because that makes Jensen happy. That fact alone is enough for Jared, and he usually surrenders to the realization that he’s having a great time, even if it does leave him exhausted. Sure, Jared is an active person, he likes to stay in shape and goes running when time is on his side, but other than that he is not into overdoing it. Not like Jensen, who just dragged them through half of Austin for a city organized charity easter egg hunt.

For some strange reason, Jared thought that they would end up getting some lunch and head back home. But no, of course not. Apparently Jensen thought it was such a beautiful day, perfect weather to pay the zoo a visit. Their son didn’t need to be asked twice; Jared on the other hand wasn’t asked at all. That was how Jared found himself ready to throttle Jensen. No, seriously. Jared was tired and so exhausted that he almost thought about cancelling their date. Of course he didn’t because there are many things Jared calls himself, insane isn’t one of them. He would rather drop dead than skip a night out with Jensen. Though, after watching numerous shows at the zoo, petting a handful of different creatures and chasing after their son, Jared needed time to recharge his batteries. He was more than grateful when Jensen picked up on his increasing loss of strength, worry prompting the man to drop Jared off at home. While their son seemed to still be filled with infinite amounts of energy, Jensen didn’t even bother to get Matthew out of the car.

***

It has been quite some time since Jared has last gone on a date, a couple of years actually. And, even longer since his last date night with Jensen. Jared is surprised that his nerves are still in check, but he is beyond excited and dwells in the fact that Jensen and he will be spending a few hours together. Only them, with no care in the world. They arranged to meet at Uchi’s, just so their son won’t come up with questions why he has to stay with Sam while his father was there to pick up Jared. Jared doesn’t exactly like that they have to hide but he knows they have good reason for it, too. He doesn’t doubt that Jensen and he will make this work, that they can be together again. Nonetheless, they have a great responsibility and if, for some unforeseen reason, they fail, then neither of them has to break their son’s heart with false hope.

For a Saturday evening, Uchi’s still has many empty tables and yet it takes Jared a few looks until he can make out the back of Jensen’s head at the sushi bar. Reminders of previous dates with Jensen play as a stream of fond memories in Jared’s mind, the way Jensen always put Jared’s interests and needs first. The first time Jared had told Jensen that he was willing to sacrifice a virgin for sushi, Jensen had almost run for the hills. The man hates sushi more than anyone else Jared knows. And yet, many of their date nights were spent in Japanese restaurants. And, usually at the sushi bar, too. Because that is where the magic happens in those places, a chef right in front of them to prepare their order. Never, not once, has Jensen done anything other than try to make Jared happy and satisfy whatever he craved. It’s a thought that has his head spinning. It’s a reminder of how deep the man’s feelings for Jared always ran. He wants to cry and yell in frustration over the fact that he forced himself to forget the love Jensen cherished him with. This isn’t the time or the place to start sulking in regrets, so Jared focuses on the good things. The things they want to face together and rebuild.

Closing the distance between them, Jared walks over and without having to think of his actions, he places his flat palm on the small of Jensen’s back. “Hey,” Jared greets him, making Jensen jump, the man’s hands shaking and letting his cell phone tumble onto the bar.

After composing himself again, Jensen turns to finally face Jared, a huge smile spreading over his pink lips. “Hey yourself.” A light blush creeps up on Jensen’s cheeks and Jared would bet all his money on it, that if he reached out to touch the tip of Jensen’s ears, they’d be glowing, too.

“Didn’t mean to startle you,” Jared apologizes and shifts until he’s seated on the bar chair next to Jensen.

Jensen hastily locks his phone and pockets it, all while nibbling at his lips like he was caught doing something he shouldn’t be doing. It makes Jared all the more nervous. “All good. It was just… uh, work.”

The word ‘work’ is emphasized in such a strange manner that Jared has no clue how to take it. It sounds almost like a lie and Jared doesn’t like it at all. “Work? Seems more like you had your hand in the cookie jar.”

“What?” Jensen is obviously confused and his eyes dart left and right, trying his best to make out what Jared is getting at.

“Nothing.” Jared wants to brush it off so he turns on his chair, just enough to reach one of the menus to his right to pull it closer.

As he is about to flip through the pages, Jensen stops him by putting his flat palm on top of the menu, closing it again and waiting for Jared to make eye contact. “That wasn’t nothing. What’s happening here right now?”

If Jared knew what’s happening he might not feel as odd and lost as he does. Jensen is hiding something and Jared would love to know what, or maybe not. A small part of him begins to ride a wave of jealousy, something he hasn’t felt in years and the emotion tries to break him, shatter him. Especially since the feeling is connected with Jensen yet again. “It looked like, uh… like you were texting someone and I thought…”

Jensen cocks his head in consideration, eyes squinting before a light bulb seems to go off, “... thought what? That, while I’m sitting here, waiting for you to show up for our date… I would text with someone else?”

For a moment Jared wants to repeat himself, voice his thoughts, and tell Jensen that, yes, that is exactly what it looked like, but he feels stupid all of a sudden. Jensen looks as if Jared just slapped him and Jared wants to morph into thin air, vanish on the spot. Abashed, Jared hangs his head and stares at his rapidly shaking thighs. He feels how Jensen’s hand leaves his own on the menu and immediately he misses the contact, craves it, and before he has a chance to solve the problem he just catapulted them in, Jensen beats him to it. The phone Jensen previously put away is now held out for Jared to take and he only gazes at it, unsure of what the other man wants him to do with it.

“Check it.” Jensen whispers, his head lowered in an attempt to have them look at each other again.

If this is a test of Jared’s faith in Jensen, then he is going to fail because everything within him says to take it and read whatever the man was writing. His conscience wins and Jared refuses, “no, it’s… I’m sorry.”

Not believing him and adamant to prove himself to Jared, Jensen pushes, “I was only sending out a tweet. Unlock it, the last app I used should be popping up on screen. Pin’s 2001.”

Jared is still reluctant, but eventually allows Jensen to press the phone in his hand and Jared unlocks it. Only when he types in the four digits does he smile again. “2001.” He says it out loud while typing the buttons for it.

“Yeah. The year we met. You might’ve noticed that I’m kinda hung up on you.” Jensen chuckles and it lightens Jared’s mood in an instant. “There’s only you. And almost two million people who like to know what I’m up to.”

Jared doesn’t dare looking at Jensen, still ashamed that he spit out assumptions out of the blue. His eyes stay glued to Jensen’s phone and he blinks at the bright light when the screen comes to life and, just as Jensen said, the twitter app shows.


[twitter 1] [twitter 2]

 

“So you’re on twitter?” Jared blurts out dumbly, while obviously looking at Jensen’s social media account. Honestly, he had no idea Jensen uses any kind of these platforms but now, looking at it, he feels even more like an asshole.

“Guess I am. It’s… well, apparently everyone uses it these days. People keep asking why I’m not on air, as often as I used to. So, I said I was spending some quality time at home.”

Jared’s heart swells with Jensen’s explanation. He definitely has to learn how to listen to his heart, because deep down he knows Jensen wouldn’t lie to him. Doubting the man always ends up with Jared being wrong and he’s slowly getting tired of his stupidity. “I’m an idiot.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. Just, don’t get all pissy or assume the worst? I mean, I understand why you’ve reacted the way you did, but next time, ask.” Jensen’s voice goes serious and his words remind the both of them why they have lost so much time and why there are so many issues that need to be worked out. “I’ve never kept anything from you or had secrets. You wanna see my phone to see if you can believe me? Fine. I’m not saying I like it, but I can accept it because if that’s what it takes to earn your trust again, then so be it.”

Jared feels like a kid who just got grounded and he doesn’t know what to do, other than apologizing again. “I’m sorry, Jensen. You shouldn’t be needing to earn my trust. What I actually mean is, that I want to trust you and I kinda do.” Apparently, Jared doesn’t trust him though, otherwise he wouldn’t have made such a fool out of himself. It stings, that after everything Jared has learned, that the feeling of betrayal keeps coming to the surface; it’s without any reason, not anymore. “The thing is, I know your every word is nothing but the God’s honest truth but maybe I’m just…”

Jensen smiles at him before he takes over and saves Jared from a full on ramble. “You’re jealous.” There is a mischievous glint in Jensen’s eyes, something that tells Jared that the man isn’t mad, that talking this through might get them over this bump they’ve just hit. “You’ve always been a little jealous. There’s nothing wrong with it. Actually, I enjoy that quite a lot. I’ve never lied to you and I won’t start now. Especially not now.”

When Jensen’s hands come to rest on Jared’s knees, thumbs slowly circling over the material of his jeans, Jared finds it easier to look at him again. The look Jensen gives him holds a plea Jared can’t find himself to deny. And it hits him then, that it’s not only jealousy or unfounded trust issues that have his stomach tied in knots. “Scared. That’s what I was trying to say. I’m scared, Jensen.”

There is a moment of silence surrounding them. The quiet becomes uncomfortable and it only gets worse when Jensen begins to tear up. “Of what exactly?”

“Losing you.” Jared answers without batting an eye. “I don’t wanna lose you, Jen.”

“You won’t. I’m not gonna let that happen.” Jensen’s mouth quirks up, lips formed into a smile that is short of melting every single one of Jared’s brain cells. “Do you see what’s happening here?” He asks Jared then, smile still in place and head shaking in surprise.

“We’re being emotional messes instead of ordering food?” Jared offers matter of factly and his stomach starts rumbling at the mention of food.

“That too, yeah. But besides that, we’re still good at this.” Jensen’s brows rise as he nods at Jared and moves one of his hands between them, pointing at their faces. “We’re talking. Neither of us shuts down and stews in their thoughts. We’ve always been good at this. We agreed on slow, baby steps and building trust is part of that.”

Jared only wishes that he would have been able to do this all those years ago and spare their little family from all the heartache they have been through since then. However, Jensen is right. They are still capable of handling their difficulties and find ways to overcome them. The thought confirms Jared’s hope that they can be one again. For the moment there isn’t much more to say and Jared cements that by leaning in to press his lips against Jensen’s.

It’s the first time for them to publicly show their affection for each other and Jared feels the positive weight of it getting to him. It seems clichè to him but he can’t help it, there are butterflies roaming in his belly, a twitch here and a nervous flicker there. And, his heart does these somersaults that leave him breathless the longer Jensen’s lips won’t let go of him. Nothing has ever felt so right to him and it’s only because of the fact that they are in a restaurant that Jared finds the strength to break their connection. “We should, you know… get something to eat while we’re here.”

Jensen seems to need a moment to connect back into the real world, his tongue sneaking out to trace his lips and his eyes keep blinking at Jared, focusing back to the current moment. “Uh, food. Yes, eating. Eating is good. Keeps us from starving or me from eating you alive.” The blush creeping up on Jensen’s face is beyond adorable and Jared is unsure if he should chuckle or drag Jensen to the next available bed to continue where they stopped. Then again, they don’t really seem to be walking down that path just yet. Doesn’t mean, Jared is not interested in deepening their relationship. Again. So far they are handling the secret touches and stolen kisses fine and he has to admit that he likes this. Jared enjoys the sweet innocent moments with Jensen just as much as he loves the whole talking thing they have been doing so far. Nonetheless, he still wishes that time would go by faster, a lot faster, so that they can finally get closer. Jared would be a liar if he denied his longings. Because there is no doubt in his bones, that every fiber of his being longs for Jensen, for the man’s hands on him again and their bodies flush against one another. When the sound of pans clattering next to them arises, Jared draws his attention back to reality and finally hands Jensen his phone back, a dark red coloring both their cheeks and he is sure that Jensen just went through the same kind of thoughts.

“What can I get you two?” The chef assigned to their spot on the bar asks with a bright smile on his face.

Jared doesn’t need to start studying the menu again, he knows this place’s fish menu by heart and begins to rattle down his order when Jensen mentions for him to go first. “I’d like to start with Scallop Hot Rock and Sake Sashimi.” When the chef nods at him, Jared turns his attention back to Jensen and hands him the menu, in hopes that maybe Jensen will find more than dry rice to chew on. “You know they’ve got more than raw fish.”

“But they don’t have steak.” Jensen pouts and opens the menu to find something in the hot-section of the choices instead of the cool and raw foods.

“If I remember correctly, you insisted on going to Uchi’s.” Jared states the fact but can’t stop a smile from spreading across his face when Jensen visibly regrets that decision already.

“Alright, alright. I think I’ll go with…” Jensen’s pointer finger scans the page alongside his eyes and after skipping a couple of pages he cheers, “ha! Look at that. I’ll take the Bacon Steakie.”

Jared is surprised because he never actually saw that part of the menu before and upon a closer look he can see that Bacon Steakie is the only meat meal they offer. Now he can only hope that the pork belly with citrus and Thai basil is so good that Jensen wants them to go back again and again.

He should have hoped harder, because once Jensen starts digging into his meal, the man’s face falters slightly, obviously disappointed. Jared only smiles at the display of Jensen missing a greasy steak and burgers. The only thing Jensen actually does enjoy, is the beer and Jared knows that, even for a Japanese restaurant, they sure serve some great drinks. He loves their beer just as much, but decides on a glass of white wine with his fish.

After Jared has finished half of his meal, glass of wine all but empty already, he treats himself to a second piece of Sake Sashimi. Swallowing the salmon down, letting the taste hit his tongue, his stomach starts acting up. At first he thinks that, maybe, he dug in too fast, but after taking a labored breath, nausea hits him hard and his head begins swimming.

“Jared?” Jensen’s arm slings around the small of his back, the man’s voice full of worry. “Are you okay?”

Jared isn’t sure, his head feels like a rock, his brain fuzzy and buzzing and his vision turns from blurry to black. “Something’s wrong.” His ears start ringing and he can’t make out any sounds, it’s all a jumbled up mess. He knows one of the sounds is Jensen’s voice but he can’t freaking understand anything. The moment Jared tries to speak up again his throat begins to constrict and he starts heaving. It feels like his stomach is trying to crawl out of his body all while his head is pounding a mile a minute. “Help…” As soon as the request leaves his lips, the world around Jared goes black.

***

With great effort, Jared blinks his eyes open to the sweet sound of Jensen’s voice. “...and just so we’re clear: you suck at first dates.” As he opens his eyes further, he sees the man smiling down at him. It takes Jared a while to collect his thoughts, take in Jensen’s words and realize that he isn’t at the restaurant anymore. “Ah, there you are. Scared the hell out of me, Jay.” Jensen palms his cheek and doesn’t stop his hand until his fingers card through Jared’s hair.

Jared takes a slow look around and sees a doctor standing at the other side of his bed, apparently he is in a hospital. In an attempt to calm himself down, he chooses to draw his attention back to Jensen, ignoring the man in the white lab coat all together. “What… what happened?” Jared’s throat hurts when he speaks and the stale taste in his mouth makes him scrunch his nose in disgust.

“Well, you got sick. As usual when on a first date with me. I’m beginning to think you’re doing that on purpose. But then you passed out and I had to call an ambulance.” Jensen’s eyes look pained and immediately Jared feels guilty for ruining their night.

He felt like crap throughout the whole day and it seems like it was all a little too much for him to take. “‘m sorry.”

Jensen’s gaze goes crazy, starring Jared down like he is insane, “whoa, no. There’s nothing to be sorry for. How are you feeling now?”

If only Jared knew. He feels strange, not like himself and still ready to haul his ass to the bathroom and vomit for another three weeks. “Not sure. My head hurts and my stomach’s killing me.” Which is a complete understatement because nothing inside his body doesn’t hurt.

“Mr. Ackles, I’m Dr. Webber” the doctor interrupts them and both he and Jensen look at the man. “Your husband already told us that you’ve been feeling off-ish all day.”

Jared looks back to Jensen, who only shrugs at him. Of course Jensen told them he is his husband, otherwise he probably wasn’t even allowed in the room at all. It’s not a lie, not in the slightest, and it melts Jared’s heart that Jensen wasn’t willing to leave his side. “Yeah, I was exhausted and have been nauseous for a while… I don’t know, there’s a lot going on. Just some extra stress and I guess my body was just tired or something.”

The doctor takes a long, considerate look at Jared and nods alongside his explanation. “Would you say it’s normal for you to faint under stressful situations?”

“Not really, no. Don’t remember if I ever passed out in my life.” Jared shakes his head, unsure of why his body would give him such a difficult time, especially when this was supposed to be a special night for him and Jensen.

“And the nausea,” the doctor addresses him again, without taking his eyes off of the patient’s chart in his hands. “Was that only after dinner or have you been feeling sick before your visit at the restaurant already?”

Jared rolls the question over in his head and comes up with the fact that his stomach has been acting up for a while. “Before.”

“How long is before?” The doctor scribbles something down in the file and only looks at him when Jared doesn’t answer right away.

“Uh, don't know. A couple of weeks, maybe.” This whole Q and A makes Jared’s head pound even more and he would rather turn and fall asleep instead of going over these facts.

Dr. Webber raises his eyebrows and his eyes shift between him and Jensen. “I see. Just to rule out every possibility, could it be that you’re pregnant?”

Jared wants to laugh at the stupidity of the question, but all he musters is a snort and it comes out pissed. Jensen, on the other hand gasps but Jared doesn’t dare look at the man. “No, I’m not pregnant.” Jared manages to deliver the answer without breaking down. Pregnancy is something that doesn’t just happen to Jared and being reminded of what length he and Jensen had to go through to conceive Matthew is all kinds of painful.

“Are you sure? Have you taken a test lately?” Dr. Webber presses when he obviously doesn’t believe Jared.

He doesn’t need to take a pregnancy test. “Doc, seriously. I’m not pregnant, I can’t get pregnant. I’ve been diagnosed with lazy ovaries over a decade ago. Before we had our son, I had to be on a high dose of hormones and years worth of fertility treatment and even then the chances were slim to none; 3% to be precise.” Jared huffs out in pure annoyance and lets his head fall back into the pillow. He would really appreciate it if Dr. Webber would quit with his pregnancy assumptions and went back to figuring out what is really wrong with him.

Instead of submitting to Jared’s unspoken wish, Dr. Webber goes right back at it again. “So you can get pregnant. Mr. Ackles, I would feel better if we get a quick scan done. We’ve already taken your blood while you were still unconscious but the results will need a couple more hours.”

Jared really had it, because he knows better than the man who has no clue about how Jared’s body works. Or, as it is, how it doesn’t work. “Whatever. Do a scan, it’ll be a waste of time if you ask me.” He turns away from Dr. Webber and faces Jensen again only to be greeted with a mix of worry and shock.

“This is stupid.” He whispers to Jensen and doesn't even care if the doctor can hear him.

“I’ll get the ultrasound machine and be right back.” Dr. Webber excuses himself and leaves the room without another look at them.

“You okay?” Jensen asks as soon as Dr. Webber closes the door. When Jared shakes his head in a clear no, Jensen moves to join their hands. “He’s just doing his job. The man doesn’t know about your medical history.”

“Are you trying to tell me I overreacted?” Jared is aware of the harsh snap in his voice, but he can’t help it at the moment.

“Kind of. But hey, if someone understands how you feel, then it’s me. I was there when that specialist told us that we might never have kids. It was an utter shock, like a slap in the face. Maybe it’s something with your ovaries again. I mean, I don’t know if they can cause your stomach to be all weird but Dr. Webber can take a look and see if they are to blame.” Jensen reasons with him, all calm and reassuring, all the while his hands won’t let go of Jared’s. “I just want you to get better. So please let the doc do that scan, hm?”

With a sigh, Jared cranes his neck to stare at the ceiling. “Yeah, okay. It’s just… difficult.”

“We’ve got Matty, so there’s no reason to be upset anymore.” Jensen tells him and lifts Jared’s hand up to place a chaste kiss on his knuckles.

Once they had made the decision to start a family, they were both of the like mind in wanting a big family; at least two or three kids. After the diagnosis though, Jensen always told him that they are more than lucky to have one child. And, after Matthew was born Jared understood that one baby was better than no baby and if they couldn’t get that big family they originally planned on having, they would always have their little boy and appreciate that miracle with everything they have. Now, Jensen is reminding him that there is no reason to be upset. They beat the odds with Matthew and nothing else will ever matter. An assumption from a doctor shouldn’t stop Jared’s world from spinning and make him dwell in old aches. But it does.

When Dr. Webber walks back in, ultrasound machine rolling behind him, Jared is short of running away. He has had hundreds of ultrasound scans when he and Jensen desperately tried to have a baby and even though there is no reason for it, the sadness from the past tries to crawl back into his heart.

“Here we go.” Dr. Webber announces and turns the machine on. “Mr. Ackles, will you please lift up your shirt?”

Jared does as he is told and shoves his shirt up to his chest and, without needing to be told, pushes his pants down far enough so the doctor has good access to the whole span of his lower abdomen. He rolls his eyes, still in a foul mood and rests his arm behind his head.

He hisses when the doctor coats his stomach in cold gel and since he won’t be able to figure out what’s wrong with him by looking at the screen, Jared turns to face Jensen. They share a reassuring smile while the ultrasound machine rattles to life by producing loud and hectic whooshing noises. Jared swallows hard when the transducer is moved over his stomach, the pressure almost too much and he feels the need to heave. Then, Dr. Webber slowly takes a path south, over his belly button. The sounds from the machine get louder as the doctor reaches the far end of Jared’s belly.

“Mr. Ackles?” Dr. Webber calls for Jared’s attention and both Jared and Jensen turn to the man at the sound of their name.

Jared takes a quick look at the screen but finds his eyes moving towards the doctor then. “Did you find something? I really wanna get this over with.”

The doctor worries his bottom lip between his teeth before he answers, “graviditas.”

Jared’s brain is blank for a moment, his thoughts circling to anywhere that isn’t this hospital room. “Can you treat it?” He asks then, without having heard what Dr. Webber said.

Dr. Webber squints at him, brows furrowed as if Jared should know what he is dealing with. “Not so much. It’ll pass in about eight months.”

Still in the dark, Jared can’t believe what he is hearing. “Are you telling me I’m going to feel like this for another eight months?” There is just no way Jared is ready to face eight months of this madness.

“Give or take. Mr. Ackles, you might think of it as impossible, but your body proves you wrong. You’re precisely seven weeks pregnant.” The doctor cocks his head to the screen and doesn’t say anything until Jared follows the doctor’s eyes.

At first Jared squints, trying to make out the difference of the many black and white pixels. Depending on the animals he treats at his practice, the human body differs in one way or another. Still, he thinks he can make sense of a human ultrasound well enough. Once his gaze is fixed and he can make out the peanut-shaped form, his heart stops beating for several seconds. The blood in his veins runs hot and cold and his breathing comes out in short puffs. “What?! That can’t be.” Jared breathes out, even though it’s clearly there and can’t be denied.

“Apparently it can be.” Dr. Webber freezes the screen and takes measurements.

“Oh my god.” Jared croaks through a wrecked sob. He can’t figure out how this is happening, how this can possibly be real but it is. This is happening and he really is pregnant. For a split second he wonders if there might be hidden cameras, if someone is trying to play a sick joke on him. But, there is only Jensen with him and the man would never do such a thing to him. So, yes. This is real. He’s going to have a baby, Jensen’s baby and within another heartbeat his body fills with adrenaline and joy. It feels like he’s being handed the world, another little miracle. Jared’s head snaps towards Jensen then, ready to throw himself at the man in pure happiness that they are going to have a baby again. However, when his eyes fall on Jensen, all joy drains from him. Jensen looks like the world has just ended, the same soulless expression on his face he carried when Jared wanted him to sign the divorce papers. “Jensen?” Jared tries to get the man’s attention when his own face falls by Jensen’s lack of excitement.

“I… I didn’t… that’s not what I expected.” Jensen’s face stays blank, a closed book Jared doesn’t know how to open, much less how to read it.

“I’ll give you two a few minutes to let the news sink in. Call when you’re ready to proceed.” Dr. Webber calmly says and moves in to squeeze Jared’s shoulder before he makes his way out of the room for a second time.

“Jensen,” Jared tries again. “This is good, right?” He can’t see anything bad in being pregnant, not with their history and how badly they always wanted more than one kid. Life made it that they weren’t supposed to be so lucky but now it seems like they are being blessed enough to become parents again. Neither of them has planned for this, it has always been a given that it probably won’t ever happen again but it is how it is and Jared feels like hugging the whole world stupid. Jensen, however, doesn’t look like he is on board with any of this. “This is quite a surprise, huh?” Jared hopes that the shock is the explanation for Jensen’s blank stare.

Jensen pulls his hand from Jared’s as if the physical contact could burn him up in flames. “You should’ve told me.” The man’s voice rises with volume, his Adam’s apple working overtime and his head shaking with something that looks a whole lot like disappointment.

Looking at his now empty hands and missing Jensen’s warmth in them, Jared places his hands over his flat stomach. “Should’ve told you what? In case you haven’t noticed, I just found out myself.”

“No, that you and…” Jensen swallows, obviously pained to get the words out and rises from his chair in favor of pacing the room. “...that you and him were trying to have a kid.”

There is no mistaking the hurt in Jensen’s tone, the accusation that doesn’t make sense to Jared. “I don’t think I can follow you, Jensen.”

There is a disbelieving snort coming from Jensen, followed by a huff. “Right. Well, congratulations. You should call Aldis. Bet he’ll be happier than me.”

Nothing makes sense to Jared, not in the slightest and the least of all Jensen’s words. “The hell should I call Aldis for?” Seriously, the throbbing pain in his head gets worse and he has no clue why Jensen would even mention Aldis in a situation like this. A situation that belongs to only Jensen and him.

Jensen slumps against the nearest wall, head still shaking and when Jared looks closer, he can see tears starting to well up in the man’s eyes. He wants to say something, repeat his question after Jensen continues to remain quiet for too long. But, then, Jensen stares at him with a cold emptiness in his eyes asking, “are you kidding me? Who do you think fathered that baby? Definitely not me.”

Now it hits Jared, the thoughts Jensen is plagued with and nothing has ever been more ridiculous than what Jensen is assuming. “Excuse me? You think… Jensen, that baby is yours.”

The look Jensen throws him says more than a thousand words. There isn’t only anger and disappointment, Jensen is almost furious. “Right. We’ve had sex once. Once, Jared!” Jensen’s hands punctuate every word and he keeps his pointer finger up, as if Jared is stupid enough to not know how many times ‘one’ exactly is. “Do you really expect me to believe that one time is enough to get you pregnant? We both know it needs more than that. You just explained that exact problem to Dr. Webber.”

Jared is completely lost, he feels drained and this whole situation is beginning to wear him down. All he wants is for Jensen to hear him out, to let him explain. “I swear, Aldis and I never… no, I’m not even going to start bringing him into this. This is something about you and me, this baby is all you and me. My ex doesn’t belong here. And you’re not going to ruin this for me, for us.” To make his point clear, Jared averts his eyes from the man and directs his gaze to the hands on his stomach. Jared feels guilty, guilty for putting their unborn child into such a stressful situation.

“It can’t be, alright? You have to see that.” The anger in Jensen’s voice lessens, but the emotions are still there when he braces his hands on the foot-board of Jared’s bed.

“All I see is you freaking out.” And that, that is something Jared never expected to see in Jensen; a man who was so fascinated with their first pregnancy that he cried for days. “Sure, it’s not the greatest timing, but that doesn’t make it any less good. I want to be excited and I want to be happy about this; not fight with you.” Jared turns his attention back to Jensen, the plea in his voice taking over his whole expression.

Jensen, however, doesn’t acknowledge anything but the doubts inside his own head. “Then be happy, but you and I both know the truth: that kid isn’t mine and I have no idea how to deal with that right now.”

Jared doesn’t know how to deal with the situation either. But everything Jensen says makes zero sense and Jared’s brain hurts from this discussion. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that I need time to stomach what’s happening here.”

“We’re having a baby, that’s what’s happening.” Jared snaps and if he wasn’t feeling like shit he would gladly jump out of bed and shake Jensen.

Scratching at the back of his head, Jensen sets his jaw straight before he keeps going. “Wrong. You’re having a baby and I need to figure out where I stand with this game changer.”

The denial for their baby is too much for Jared to bear. His heart aches with the wrongness of Jensen’s reaction. “Okay, that is ridiculous. The baby is yours.”

Jensen shakes his head, not accepting the facts Jared is handing him and turns his back to him. “Jared, I… I gotta…”

“What? Leave?”

Jensen only nods at first, probably trying to find the words he wants to say. But Jared can’t read the man, can’t even look at his face when Jensen turns away and towards the door. “For now, yeah. I need to clear my head.” The man sounds as beaten as Jared feels.

“Don’t. Please.” Jared begs, almost choking on a sob when he watches Jensen’s hand go for the door handle.

“Sorry, Jared. This is too much.” Final last words, or so they say. And this is exactly how Jensen makes it sound.

A whole new problem doubles Jared’s nerves. “Wait. What… what about Matt? I don’t know when they’ll release me.”

“I’ll pick him up from Samantha in the morning.” Still with his back to Jared, Jensen nods alongside his words. But for Jared it looks like every word, every move, seems to burden the man even further.

“Then what?”

“Call you, I guess. I’m gonna stay until you’re back on your feet,” Jensen turns to face Jared one last time before he continues, “... to watch our son.”

Jared swallows against the lump in his throat, trying his hardest to not break out in tears and lose his sanity. “Jensen, please don’t leave like this.” But all begging is fruitless as Jared watches Jensen walk through the door without looking back.

April 18th

Jared had hoped that he didn’t have to stay in the hospital for longer than one night, but his blood pressure was high enough to concern Dr. Webber. In the end, they kept him for a total of two nights.

Jensen shows at the hospital shortly after noon, his face still lacking any form of expression and Jared’s world slowly crumbles again. He understands that Jensen might have doubts and Jared is at loss for words, out of ideas to make the man understand that the baby is theirs. There simply isn’t any other option. Aldis and he never had unprotected sex, not once. Yes, for Jared it is like hitting the jackpot to end up pregnant at the first try but, as he knows now, not completely impossible. All the stars must have aligned to fire up his ovaries and jump start his hormones on their own to get pregnant. Now all he has to do is figure out how to prove to Jensen that he is the father of the unborn child growing inside of Jared. At the moment though, it feels an awful lot like Jensen won’t listen to him. Hell, the man can barely even look at him.

“You ready to leave?” Jensen asks and grabs Jared’s jacket from the hook behind the door.

“Yeah.”

During the drive home Jensen doesn’t speak, his sole focus directed to the road ahead. Jared thinks of breaking the silence, willing to beg Jensen to understand that he is the father. But whatever goes through Jensen’s mind, Jared is sure he should just give him the time he needs to let it sink in. Instead of starting a conversation, Jared busies himself by browsing on his phone. After a few pages of what to expect when pregnant, an advertisement catches his attention. It’s an ad about early paternity tests. He risks a short glance to Jensen before he clicks on the ad.

Jared reads on and two miles later he blurts out, “I’ll get a paternity test done.”

“No, you won’t. We both know what it’ll say and in a few months you’ll see who the father is with your own two eyes. No need to waste any money on those tests.” The bitterness in Jensen’s voice is heartbreaking.

After finding each other again and being ready to build their life into a new relationship, it now feels like the past weeks never happened. They had hit a milestone and just to have taken a thousand steps backwards. Jared doesn’t for the life of him know how to handle this situation, or the coldness Jensen is treating him with.

“I never thought of having more kids, it never crossed my mind after you.” Jared says in a hushed tone, his eyes still glued to the screen of his phone. Reading through a handful of more articles, he stumbles upon a website of a lab in California that does non-invasive paternity and DNA tests. “It’s yours.” He says again, hopeful that, if he says it often enough, Jensen will believe him.

Jensen doesn’t reply, not a single word leaving the man’s mouth and Jared can only grit his teeth and force himself to not cry out in frustration. This is supposed to be a great time of his life, months ahead of him that he should enjoy but instead he can’t look past the ache in his chest. He is crippled with the fear of losing Jensen again. And that, that is something he can’t stomach. Not if there are ways to gather proof of who fathered his unborn baby. In that moment, when Jensen takes a turn to drive into Jared’s street, Jared decides to get the DNA test done. Whether Jensen is okay with it or not.

Once Jensen parks his rental in front of Jared’s house, Jared pockets his phone and is surprised to find his own car back in front of the garage. He hadn’t even noticed that Jensen took his car keys to get the car and he wants to say thank you, but for some reason he can’t get any words out. Jensen doesn’t move, doesn’t turn off his rental and Jared guesses that this is it. Tears threaten to drip from his eyes with the sudden angst crawling at his nerves. If anything, a child should bring them closer together, not part them. “Will you come back?” Jared asks then, not accepting that they will be over before they even had a chance to be.

“Well, I promised Matty to pick him up from school. So, there’s that.” Jensen avoids any kind of eye contact and stares ahead, hands white-knuckling the steering wheel.

“Not what I meant.”

“I talked to Samantha earlier, she’ll drive Matty to school tomorrow. It’ll give you some time to rest. I’ll fly back to New York tonight.”

Jared is short of knocking some sense into Jensen, but he feels too weak to move, too weak to keep this fight up and his lips tremble as his voice breaks. “Why don’t you believe me?”

“The odds are not exactly in my favor.”

Jared tries, one last time and puts another plea out there, ready for Jensen to take, “Jen… I can’t lose you.”

His words stay unanswered, Jensen looks more than done with their conversation and all Jared is left to do is get out of the car and out of Jensen’s sight.

The first thing Jared does when he is inside is call a few colleagues and organizes a substitute for his practice for the next two weeks. It’s not like Jared to be absent from work for such a long period of time, but with his life turning upside down, he can’t find himself to focus on his job properly. Considering his field of work, he will also have to pay his gynecologist a visit and make sure he has all needed immunization shots to actually be able to work. There is no way in hell he is going to risk his baby, the amount of bacteria and viruses he’s constantly surrounded with are too dangerous. He needs the okay from his gynecologist first.

The second thing Jared does, is break down crying with the realization that maybe he is finally losing Jensen for good.

Chapter Text

April 25th 2016, Austin/TX

A week has passed since Jensen left, a whole week without a single word from Jensen. No phone call, no text message, nothing. All Jared knows is that Jensen is still up and breathing. Their son talks to him almost every evening, their skype conversations aren’t as drawn out as they used to be but at least Jensen doesn’t disappear completely. The last week was a rollercoaster of mixed emotions for Jared. He is flying high on happiness hormones over his pregnancy, the nausea still annoying and exhausting but Jared tries to power through in favor of the end result in a few months. The other part of Jared doesn’t know how to deal with Jensen being gone and the loss of contact has his nerves on a constant edge. Not a minute goes by where he doesn’t miss Jensen like a limb and wishes the DNA test results will finally arrive in his mailbox. The lab said it can take up to three weeks; if he is lucky they can squeeze his blood samples in and get it done faster. However, Jared thinks that his luck is seriously running out.

He doesn’t doubt Jensen’s feelings for him, but he wonders how strong those feelings really are when Jensen could leave Jared when he needed him the most. Jared shakes his head as he realizes that this, this is probably exactly how Jensen felt since Jared left him. The longer Jensen ignores him, the more Jared begins to question himself. It is ridiculous though, thinking that anyone but Jensen could be the baby’s father. Ever since Jensen left, Jared can’t stop his brain from going back to his time with Aldis, searching and scratching his memory for a time they didn’t use a condom that would fit the timeline of conception. Never, forgetting to use protection never happened and there were no accidents either.  Truth is, Jensen is still the only man in Jared’s life who he didn’t use protection with. Before they split up, it was a given that they didn’t need condoms and with Jared’s ovaries issue they also never spared a thought on birth control. Since old habits die hard, neither of them had thought of using a condom when they had sex in February. Yes, even condoms aren’t 100% effective, Jared knows as much, but he sees it as highly doubtful that during the time of conception the condom Aldis used didn’t work properly. This child, the baby he carries, can only be Jensen’s. Jared doesn’t want to transfer Jensen’s doubts onto himself, he can’t. But the more he is plagued with Jensen’s refusal to accept the pregnancy as theirs, Jared begins to believe that maybe he is throwing himself into wishful thinking.

Jared slumps his frame against the backdoor as he watches his son and the boy’s three best friends chase after each other with water guns. Without paying attention to his actions, Jared’s hands wander to his still flat middle and he catches himself smiling. It won’t be long, a couple of years maybe, until his son will be teaching his little brother or sister a few tricks to run Jared ragged. Hope blossoms in Jared’s chest that, by then, Jensen will be there too, watching their children play together, protecting each other.

With one last check to make sure the three boys and one girl are okay for now, Jared walks in the kitchen to prepare the necessary food for their planned BBQ. Not often does Jared host cook outs for the youngsters, but his son is a smart little boy and quickly picked up on Jared’s ever changing mood. In order to distract Matthew and to get his own brain onto different thoughts, Jared allowed his son to invite his friends over.

The grill is running hot, making Jared sweat like a pig when he flips burger after burger for the kids. He knows that he should eat something too but ever since Jensen left his appetite died in an instant. Jared has barely eaten anything in the last few days. Of course, he tries; he needs to. Not only for him, but also for the baby. But no matter what he nibbles on it taste like sand and clogs his throat up. At least he can’t puke as much as before. How could he, if there is nothing worth choking up in his stomach. Flipping yet another meat patty, Jared is lost in thought and doesn’t hear when the backyard gate is being opened.

“Papa!” Matthew’s booming squeal suddenly interrupts the sound of the kids chatter and Jared’s blood starts boiling. The new beef patty Jared was about to turn clatters back on the grill and falls apart, much like Jared. It takes him a long breath to compose himself before he finds the mental strength to turn around.

“Hi sport.” Jensen sounds just as excited as their son and the man’s eyes light up when Matthew shoves his chair back and jumps up to storm into his father’s waiting arms.

Jared wants to smile and dwell in the loving moment father and son share, but his heart breaks even more when he is reminded how very unenthused Jensen was when they learned about the pregnancy. It pains Jared, hurts and cuts him deep that Jensen will never love their unborn until the man has clear evidence that the baby is also his. He can’t help himself, he can’t see anyone but Jensen being the baby’s father. A tiny voice in the back of his mind tells him that it has to be Jensen’s.

“Hey kids. Looks like you’re having fun.” Jensen grins at the other three kids as he ushers Matthew back to his seat.

“Hello Mr. Ackles.” Little Anna stutters around a mouthful of burger. The other two boys, Calvin and Scott, don’t bother answering with so many words, only humming and nodding in approval.

“Papa, can you sit here?” Matthew pats the chair next to him when he squints pleadingly at Jensen. “We still have so much food and Anna made the best iced tea ever .”

Jensen chuckles at their son, kissing the boy’s head, “in a minute, okay? Gotta say hi to your dad first.”

In that moment, Jared wants to disappear into thin air and never return. He can’t deny the fact that he is partially mad at Jensen. Jared loves the man, he does. So much so that he has trouble keeping his emotions in check and wants to cry and beg for Jensen to not leave again. On the other hand Jared feels the urge to knock Jensen straight in the teeth for treating him like a stranger, for not even considering that the baby could be his.

When Jensen comes closer, lips pressed in a sharp, worried line, Jared starts shaking and the dizziness that accompanies him almost forces him into unconsciousness. The man looks different than a week ago, still drained but the coldness in his eyes isn’t present anymore.

“Let’s go inside.” Jensen whispers, for only Jared to hear. The man wraps his hand around Jared’s wrist and tugs it slowly, not giving Jared the time for objection.

Jared turns the gas grill off and follows Jensen into the house, absolutely unsure of what is going to happen and still wondering why he showed up at all. Worst case scenarios play in Jared’s mind, the most troubling of them being Jensen only being there to make it final that they can’t be, that the thought of building a relationship won’t work because of the baby.

“I’m a moron.” Jensen exclaims and turns around so fast that Jared almost bumps into him when they are in the middle of the living room. “I’ve been such an idiot. I shouldn’t have left. Not like the way I did, or you know, not at all.”

Jared can only stare and shift awkwardly from one foot to another. It is quite an understatement, Jensen leaving Jared was more of an asshole move, but he won’t complain. Not when it sounds like Jensen is coming to his senses.

Jensen steps closer then, his hands roaming through the air until they rest on Jared’s hips. “Jared, God, I am so sorry.” The hands on his hips start twitching, fingers hooking into his belt loops and Jensen looks at him like he’s been dying to get the apology across. “I have no idea what’s gotten into me. Well, I do know. I was just… all I could think was that… that’s not what I’ve signed up for. You know?”

“No, I don’t know.” Jared says, his voice rough and broken.

“Pretending that everything’s sunshine and butterflies. Raising someone else’s kid. I didn’t think I could do that.” The words tumble out of Jensen in a flash as his stare bores its way into Jared’s. “All I wanted was my family back, not playing Freaky Friday with your ex when he shows up to see his kid.”

So much for coming to his senses. When Jensen first started explaining, Jared’s hope rose to new heights. Now he is getting crushed all over again and all he can do is repeat himself. “It’s still your baby.”

Jared tries to break their contact, to get out of Jensen’s hold, when the man’s expression saddens anew. “Don’t, okay? It’s not, I’ve made my peace with that. But it doesn’t matter. Really, I don’t care.”

“You don’t care? What’s that suppose to mean?” Jared asks, his hips twitching to remove Jensen’s hands.

However, Jensen doesn’t have any of it and tightens his hold. He licks his lips, gaze focused on Jared when he says, “it means that I’m not going to lose my family again. You’re pregnant, good. That’s… you love being pregnant, or you used to and being pregnant makes you happy. So, how could I not want to be a part of that baby’s life when it’s something so good to you? I’m gonna love that kid, simply because it’s part of you.”

This isn’t how Jared ever imagined life would be if he ends up pregnant again. It isn’t how he wanted Jensen to react and it hurts to hear the still persistent refusal Jensen has for their child. Yes, Jared tries to understand and see it from Jensen’s point of view, that science and facts are not on their side. But damn it, Jared just knows, in his heart of hearts who the baby’s father is. His brain can’t comprehend how Jensen won’t believe him, how contradictory the man’s words are. Jensen loves him, that fact alone should be enough to believe Jared, or at least enough reason to consider alternatives. After his stay in the hospital, he told Jensen that he never thought of having more children, not without Jensen. And yet, the man can’t see that Jared wasn’t trying to get pregnant, or in his case, went back to take a massive dose of fertility drugs. Deep, sharp cuts of hurt scatter his heart. Nonetheless his heart ached enough since Jensen left and he sees what Jensen is doing here, that, obviously the man’s feelings are strong enough to accept the baby.

Jared guesses, that until the lab result come in, his best option is to suppress his inner turmoil and go with Jensen’s assumption on this and appreciate what Jensen is offering here. “You sure?”

Finally Jensen’s expression softens again, relief washing over him. “Of course. Look, I should’ve seen it like that all along but I was too shocked. We agreed on baby steps. I just didn’t think it would be so literal. But, in the end, nothing’s going to change my feelings for you. Least of all an innocent kid.”

Jared can roll with that. For now. Once he has scientific proof to show Jensen, he hopes they can finally move on. Jared’s brain starts buzzing again and the impending dizziness forces him to finally get out from Jensen’s touch. With a sigh, he walks past Jensen and lowers himself on the armrest of the couch, head hanging low. “You promised you wouldn’t leave me and the first chance you got, you took off.” His heart clenches painfully in his chest with the reminder of how lost he feels since Jensen walked away. Jensen might have just apologized and explained, but it doesn’t help Jared to let the ache go. “I needed you.”

Shuffling and crouching down in front of Jared, Jensen looks up at him, hands holding onto Jared’s calves for leverage. “I know. It was a shitty move and it was never my intention to hurt you.” Jensen trails off, forehead resting on Jared’s knees, “I talked to Claire… my therapist. I’m aware I should’ve talked to you instead but I needed to turn to someone other than you. And, well, she helped me realize that, what I said was all kinds of wrong.” Jensen’s hands close tighter around Jared’s calves, thumbs brushing pleadingly over his jeans. When Jensen gazes up again, eyes wet with unshed tears, the man’s lips quiver with emotions. “Do you think that… I mean, do I have the slightest chance that you can forgive me?”

Jared feels a little trapped. Of course he is willing to forgive Jensen. Even more so is Jared ready to leave the past behind. “You’re here now.” Jared simply says and purposely ignores Jensen’s request of forgiveness. Still with a heavy heart, but mood lifting up, Jared cups Jensen’s cheek. The soft scruff tingles against his fingertips and Jared is taken aback by the sheer handsomeness in front of him. “Maybe we should stop making the same mistakes all over again?” Jared waits for Jensen to share eye contact and when the man does, he can’t help but smile down at Jensen. It’s a small smile, but enough to keep them both upright and sane. “I guess this is what we need to work on. In therapy, if you still want me to come with you.”

Jensen’s eyes shine with vulnerability. “Yes. Of course. Of course I still want you to come with me.”

***

Jared can hear Jensen entering the kitchen again, his footfall a soft thud on the hard tiles. He knows, without looking, that the man is smiling. Jensen already did so when Jared suggested he would worry about the clean up while Jensen takes their son to bed. It’s the closest to a domestic environment they had for many years.

“You know, I really appreciate the guest room,” Jensen speaks, his voice low yet rumbling as he steps closer still. Jared feels the shift in the air, a change that makes his hands tremble and leaves the plate falling back into the sink.

“No problem.” Jared offers dumbly because he has no clue what else to say or where Jensen is going with his words. He can practically hear a ‘but’ in there, but doesn’t ask for it. Jared is too busy keeping his cool with Jensen being there, in his house again, as if he always belonged there. After Anna and the boys were picked up by their parents, Jensen was ready to leave, too; he could go and check in to his usual hotel. Jared’s brain short circuited with the image of Jensen walking out the door that he couldn’t stop his mouth from offering the guest room. Now, with Jensen staying with them for the duration of his visit, Jared doesn’t know how to feel, how to act with Jensen around. Jared gladly wants to step into old habits, pretend the last years never happened and skip the whole getting to know each other again part. However, he deems it as a bad idea to ignore their problems. “You’re welcome. Matt’s stoked to have you here.”

“Mhm.” Long, warm hands creep along the hem of Jared’s shirt, fingers playing with the seam until Jensen’s chest is flush against Jared’s back and he begins to brush his palms upwards over Jared’s flat stomach. “When you’re done here you should go get some rest.”

There is no need to rest, Jared feels perfectly fine. More than that, with Jensen so close and his hot breath ghosting over the back of his neck the last thing Jared can think of is laying down and trying to catch some sleep. “I’m good.”

“But see, if you go upstairs…” Jensen places a small kiss on Jared’s shoulder, his mouth lingering for a short moment, “then I might consider sneaking into your bedroom.”

Jared doesn’t know what to make of this, if there is an innuendo in there somewhere. It sure sounds like it and his breath hitches a few times. All he wants is to turn and wrap himself around Jensen but he is too scared to rush into something that they might not be ready for. Trying to change the subject, Jared goes with, “I need to talk to Matt.”

“Uh, I just tucked him in.” There is an edge of uncertainty in Jensen’s voice and he takes a step back, arms falling away from around Jared.

“I know. I…” Jared stumbles over the words, grabs for a towel and dries his hands before facing Jensen. “... I didn’t mean like right now.” Jared wets his lips and shoves his hands into his pockets, “... it won’t be long, you know, before… before my belly’s going to pop. He’ll be wondering and I just want to prepare him for becoming…” Jared is completely out of his comfort zone and feels like passing out. Jensen only stares at him, waiting for him to get the words over his tongue, but Jared hangs his head. He never thought he could feel so uncomfortable around Jensen, uncomfortable in the sense that he isn’t sure that he should have this conversation with the man. He wants to, but even after Jensen explained that he will support him, Jared doesn’t know if Jensen is also okay with them talking about the baby, of how this pregnancy is going to affect not only their relationship but also their son.

“A big brother.” Jensen chimes in and audible swallows. Jared sees the struggle Jensen is dealing with, but when Jensen notices that Jared caught him in his sight, his expression changes, lips quirking up to a reassuring smile. “He’s going to be a great big brother.”

“How am I gonna tell our son that I’m pregnant when there’s supposedly no man in my life?” Jared regrets the question immediately, because he fears what Jensen might suggest.

Crossing his arms over his chest, Jensen goes into defensive mode, but his smile doesn’t exactly falter, “he’s a smart kid. Maybe you should just tell him the truth?”

Snorting, unable to hold back the sarcasm, Jared asks, “my truth or yours?” Within seconds, Jensen’s whole posture changes and he looks completely defeated, mouth agape and left speechless. “I’ve hired a lab to get a DNA test done. I’m actually waiting for the results already.”

Then, after the words obviously made their way through Jensen, the man gasps. “You what? I told you not to do that. Not only is it a waste of money, but it’s also dangerous.” Worry settles on Jensen’s face, the man seems to be in the dark of what kind of procedure Jared had to undergo. The most known paternity tests are invasive, risking the fetus’ life while a specialist draws amniotic fluid directly from the womb.

Due to all the hormones and the high dose of Clomiphene Jared had to take to conceive Matthew, doctors suggested to check for any kind of teratogenics, such as trisomy 21, trisomy 18 and others. Jared remembers how shocked Jensen was, how the man was ready to kick the so called specialist in the chin. Neither of them was willingly risking their baby’s health or worse, risk a miscarriage, only to maybe get a diagnosis neither of them cared about. They wanted a baby and, of course, they hoped for a healthy baby. But even if Matthew had been born with deficits they wouldn’t have accepted him any less.

Immediately Jared picks up on Jensen’s fears and explains. “No, it’s not dangerous. They only needed my blood. It’s… it isn’t a paternity test per se. More like an ethnicity test.”

Doubt settles over Jensen and he shakes his head, obviously a little lost. “Wait. How is that gonna work?”

“Well, it’s a technique I’m not familiar with. But, from what I’ve gathered, they can separate my blood from the baby’s blood and that’s how they extract the fetus’ DNA. With that, they are able to figure out the ethnicity.”

“Huh.” Jensen says and it appears that he is trying to figure out how the process is done. Then, sighing, Jensen goes on. “I mean what I said earlier. It doesn’t matter, okay? You get those results and keep them away from me. You do what you’re doing and make sure your baby gets here safe and sound.”

Your baby . For many reasons Jared doesn’t appreciate the sound of that. Maybe Jensen didn’t mean it as dismissively as he made it come across. He would rather Jensen refer to the baby as their baby, but, he guesses that won’t happen until Jensen can be proved wrong. However, he can’t deny the facts: Jensen came back and is ready to stand by his side, even if the baby wasn’t Jensen’s. On autopilot, and in an attempt to shield his unborn from the heaviness of their conversation, Jared places one of his hands over his stomach. “Yeah,” Jared whispers, more to himself than in answer to Jensen. He will definitely do everything in his power to  bring a healthy and happy baby into this world. If the pregnancy goes as well as it went with Matthew, then there isn’t much Jared has to worry about. “Anyway…” Jared draws his gaze away from his stomach and up to Jensen, “... it’s been a long day.” It really was a long day and Jared is physically and mentally exhausted. He knows he won’t be able to sleep for a while, but Jensen had a point, some rest might be good for him.

“Right, yeah. Okay. I’ll just… yeah.” Jensen looks as lost as Jared feels and he hates to see how Jensen radiates with nervous energy. “I was going to… nevermind.” Jensen doesn’t seem to want to let Jared go. However, he nods at Jared, strained smiles on both their faces when Jared exits the kitchen in favor to rush upstairs.

***

In his bedroom, Jared stares at his small tv and the comedy show he’s switched to. Somehow, though, he can’t figure out why they are laughing or what the jokes are about. His mind is constantly dragging him elsewhere. Mostly, of course, to Jensen and the baby growing underneath his heart. Absentminded, Jared listens to sounds coming from the guest bathroom. It’s two rooms over, but the old piping in the house gives him the unfortunate opportunity to hear when water is being turned on or off. Right now it’s running and Jared’s brain works in overdrive, producing him images of Jensen glistening, hot water running through the red hairs of his beard, down over his freckled chest. In the past, they often showered together, made out under the streams and let their bodies take control. Jared knows how utterly delicious Jensen looks when he is all wet and the man’s strong hands soaping up every inch of soft skin. Jared blinks and swallows against the desire growing in his bones. It was definitely a bad idea to offer Jensen to stay instead of booking a hotel room. He hates to admit it, but hopefully Jensen won’t stay too long this time.

Still lost in thought, Jared is startled when there is a knock at his door. Now that he has his ears back in the game, he realizes that the water isn’t running anymore. He just knows it’s Jensen and for a split second he contemplates feigning sleep but thinks better of it, because even though he is nervous about it, he wants to see Jensen. Obviously not remembering how to speak, Jared watches how his door opens slowly, Jensen’s head peeking through shortly after. “You awake?” Jensen whispers into the room.

“Yeah, come on in.” Jared props himself up against the headboard and keeps his eyes on Jensen when the man closes the door behind him. Reluctant movements carry Jensen inside the bedroom, unable to figure out where to go, what to do and Jared saves him from standing awkwardly at the foot of his bed. “You can sit down, you know?” Jared cocks his head to the empty space next to him and eventually Jensen takes him up on the offer.

Cross-legged, hands folded in his lap, Jensen faces him. “While I was gone I… uh, I’ve been thinking. I wanna move back to Austin.”

There are a lot of things Jared expected, but this isn’t one of them. He is half shocked, half surprised and all he can do is stare and blink at Jensen. This is all kinds of sudden and he is left speechless. He asked Jensen to come back home, and even though he always knew Jensen might make it happen, there were still some doubts lingering in his head. The longer he stays quiet, the more nervous Jensen becomes. Jared should say something, anything but not a word comes out. If he listens to his heart, then he is completely on board with this idea. All this flying back and forth wouldn’t be necessary anymore, but it would also mean that Jensen has to give up his job and that, that is something Jared doesn’t want to be responsible for. Sure, the idea comes from Jensen, but Jared isn’t sure that the man realizes what he is jeopardizing here. Jensen loves his job, he worked hard to make it that far and Jared doesn’t believe for a second that a few months or years down the road Jensen will not regret his decision. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t like that but… this is a lot. What about your job? I don’t want you to give up something you love.”

The smile Jensen directs at him tells Jared enough, the man clearly thought about this for longer than just the last week. “I’d still be working in New York, I guess. Been talking to my boss and asked him to get me a new schedule, reduce my air-time to two to three days a week. I would be in Austin for at least three out of seven days.” There is so much hope in Jensen’s gaze, enough that it could last them a lifetime. “And, I love you more than my job. They know my terms; either they accept them or let me go.”

“You really mean that.” There is no question in Jared’s words, only wonderment over the sentiment and Jensen nods, almost too eager.

Grabbing for Jared’s hand, squeezing it in a sentimental manner, Jensen frees his legs and shifts until his back is against the headboard as well, his left side flush with Jared’s right side. “I want this to work, Jare.”

So does Jared and he turns his head, leaning in, close enough that their lips are almost touching. “Me too.” Jared very much wants to move closer and kiss Jensen, seal that deal and make that decision final. But, for some reason he is plagued with nerves and first kiss jitters. He feels like the nineteen year old again who was falling for Jensen faster than he could comprehend.

And, just like back then, Jensen takes the lead and kisses him. Their lips soft and spit-slick against another. “This might surprise you,” Jensen pulls back, just enough to get the words out, “but I’m not able to function without you.” After another comfortable moment of silence, Jensen moves further into Jared’s line of sight. “There’s something else I need to tell you.”

Jared grows curious at the nervous touch to Jensen’s voice, anxiety of whatever is coming next has his stomach rolling.

“To be on the safe side, in case we would still go, uh… I made an appointment with my therapist for both of us.” Jensen fidgets with uncertainty. “If you can arrange it, she’ll see us next Monday. Here in Austin.”

Jared seriously wonders, where Jensen found time to make appointments and plan all these things and yet, he didn’t have time to call him, to save Jared from the week-long worry. Then again, Jensen has always been a face-to-face kind of person, never one to discuss personal issues over the phone. Which is why Jared doesn’t feel like adding more blame on Jensen’s plate. They are both still on the learning curve and Jared thinks it’s time to move forward, not take another few steps back. “I’d like that.” And, whereas he was reluctant when Jensen had first suggested it, he is now more ready than ever to see Jensen’s therapist. And, according to the smile plastered all over Jensen’s face, Jared doesn’t need much guessing to see that the man likes the answer just as much.

Jensen, his eyes still carrying a touch of relief, leans closer then and Jared’s nerves start going crazy. He wants so badly for Jensen to kiss him. To his disappointment, Jensen only shifts and shimmies until he is flush against Jared’s side, both their backs to the headboard again. “She’s really nice.” Jensen tells him and turns his head to face Jared. “Claire, my therapist. I think you’ll like her.”

Liking a woman, who knows the deepest and darkest secrets of a man he loves? That doesn’t sound very believable to Jared. Nonetheless, if it wasn’t for this Claire, then Jensen might have never returned or made it through the past five years in one piece. “Yeah.”

In that moment, Jared really wonders how he himself functioned all this time without the other man. Jared managed, he put a lot of effort into moving on. None of it worked in the end and he knows that what they are doing is right. Nothing has ever felt so good as the time he gets to spend with Jensen. He dwells on the fact that Jensen is there with him, lazily brushing his fingertips over Jared’s forearm. It feels good, more than good, to be with the man, to have Jensen here after he thought they were over and done with. Now, not ready to lose their connection, Jared picks up where they left off and chases after Jensen’s mouth. The room, except from their quiet breathing and tiny moans, is silent. They keep kissing until Jared can barely keep his eyes open anymore. And even then, when sleep lulls him in, he can still feel Jensen’s lips against his temple and his forehead; the man’s arm holding him tight, not letting go an inch. It’s been years since Jared felt so safe and he wouldn’t trade this feeling for the world.

April 26th 2016, Austin/TX

The next morning, Jared is lightheaded and, as usual, his stomach doesn’t give him an easy time when his alarm goes off. But, after taking a lungful of air, Jared has the nausea under control and realizes that Jensen is still with him. Jared’s head is resting on the solidity of Jensen’s chest, their legs tangled and Jared has to admit that, even though his neck hurts, he hasn’t slept that good in years. He, unfortunately, has to get up and turn the alarm off. The second he starts moving, Jensen stirs, the man’s hands reaching out and trying to pull Jared back. “We gotta get up.” Jared sighs, because there is nothing he would rather do than lie back down and plaster himself against Jensen for three weeks straight.

Jensen grabs for one of the pillows then, pressing it to his face as he mumbles, still too sleepy, “...ugh, just… five more minutes, babe.”

Jared goes still by the sound of the endearment Jensen always used for him and after a deep breath he moves to lift the pillow off of Jensen’s face. He smiles when he realizes that Jensen is still asleep and completely unaware of what he just said. Taking the sight in, his eyes roam over Jensen’s long body. The other man is still dressed in a tshirt and a pair of sweats, both tight enough to increase Jared’s heartbeat and leave his mouth watering.

Jared has about thirty minutes before he has to start his daily fight of getting Matthew out of bed, enough time to wake Jensen up. Maybe he should simply shake Jensen, flick his ear, tickle his feet or any of the other tactics that always woke him with a start in the past. But what Jared eventually decides on can only be blamed by pregnancy hormones and the lack of physical contact. Carefully, Jared shifts until he straddles Jensen, palms slowly moving underneath Jensen’s shirt, exploring the warmth and how calmly the man’s chest rises and falls with each breath.

Shoving Jensen’s shirt up, exposing the hard lines of Jensen’s stomach, Jared leans down, brushing his lips over the man’s chest and kisses his way down to Jensen’s belly button. He knows, out of experience, that Jensen won’t take long before he wakes up. And that, Jared can only welcome. He doesn’t want Jensen to feel vulnerable again, taken advantage of. But then again, Jensen is clearly aware, even when still asleep, that he is with Jared.

Jared watches closely, watches how Jensen’s breathing speeds up, the way his lips part while he keeps roaming his mouth over the span of Jensen’s abdomen. Tiny moans of pleasure fall from Jensen’s lips, his hips bucking slightly and Jared pulls the man’s sweats down and off. With both hands in the waistband of Jensen’s boxers, Jared doesn’t waste any time as he strips the man of the last piece of clothing separating him from the growing erection Jensen is sporting.

It’s been too long since Jared has last had the opportunity to be so close to Jensen. Two months ago, they both rushed into things, overpowered by a physical longing that was held at bay for years. But now, Jared takes his time as he moves his lips over Jensen’s hip bones and he doesn’t stop until his cheeks brush against the soft skin of the other man’s warm flesh. Without second guessing his actions, Jared parts his lips and takes the heavy weight of Jensen’s cock into his mouth, enjoying the feeling and taste of it on his tongue. He gives a few small licks and bops of his head, getting used to the still familiar and yet new sensation of having Jensen’s cock in his mouth again.

Slowly increasing his pace, Jared can’t ignore his own need and circles his hips, chasing every small piece of friction he can get against his own dick. Jensen groans low in his throat, the vibrations traveling all the way down to the man’s hard length on Jared’s tongue.

Lost in his actions and drawn to the tight hold want has over him Jared is startled when Jensen’s voice cuts through the quiet. “Wow.” The man’s hips buck up with the next bop of Jared’s head. “Whoa… holy! Oh my god, Jared.”

When Jared lifts his head, following the sound of Jensen’s gravely voice, he is short of losing his mind when his vision locks with Jensen’s. The man is beyond beautiful, eyes as bright as they can possibly be and yet exceptionally dark with pure lust. The moment Jensen’s hands find their way to tangle with his hair, Jared hums and moans around Jensen’s solid dick inside his mouth.

“Fuck, Jay. Come on, touch yourself. Please.” Jensen pleads, almost begs with him, and Jared couldn’t deny him anything even if he wanted to. Shoving his own boxers down, far enough to expose his own hard on, Jared obliges in an instant and wraps one of his hands around his shaft. The first touch is almost too much. So much so that he has to focus back on Jensen’s cock in his mouth, before he might end up using too many teeth. He has done that once, back in the day when Jensen taught him how to give head and the man almost jumped off the bed in their dorm room. Jared blushes, visibly so, when the memory hits him, but goes straight back to the task at hand… and mouth.

Jensen moans even louder now, nails digging into Jared’s scalp, spurring him on to go faster and he does. Jared’s hand speeds up, stroking himself harder, his grip almost painful but he is so damn close and Jensen seems to be growing harder, bigger, between his lips. When he syncs up his hand to the bob of his head, Jensen’s hips shudder and shake underneath him. Jared can hear Jensen, can hear the words of encouragement, filthy pleas and praises spilling out of him and Jared’s mind centers on all of it, takes every sensation, every single word in and stores it in the back of his brain. This is what he missed, not only being with Jensen, but having Jensen to his mercy, forcing the man to fall apart in his hold and have his sole attention.

“Jay…” Jensen’s hoarse voice pulls him out of his thoughts and immediately Jared takes the man in deeper, the cockhead breaching past his uvula and still, Jared doesn’t stop, doesn’t let go until his nose is flush with Jensen’s pubes. The thick vein on the underside of the man’s shaft pulses violently against Jared’s tongue and he can feel it, he knows Jensen is close. He is proven right when Jensen’s hold on him tightens, hips bucking up one last time and Jared only has enough time to pull off halfway to catch every drop of come Jensen shoots down his throat when his orgasm rips from him. The taste of Jensen makes Jared shiver, his body trembling and he strips his own cock a handful of times more before he too comes so hard he is seeing stars.

Both of them seem incapable of moving, or saying a single word, when they ride out their orgasms. All they can do, is glance at each other, Jensen’s face shines with bliss and his eyes are heavy with the burned energy. Jared is convinced that his own face doesn’t look any different and when Jensen offers him the smallest smirk, his theory is confirmed.

“Incredible… good morning to you.” Jensen whispers and slides his fingers through Jared’s hair, pushing a small fraction in an attempt to get Jared to move and come closer.

With his hands on the back of Jared’s neck, Jensen pulls him forward, cranes his neck and tries to kiss him. But, out of nowhere, Jared is hit with memories from the past two years of his sexual life. He stills, “no, come on. I’ve got morning breath and your come in my mouth.”

Jensen looks at him, confusion shadowing his features and Jared wants to slap himself. This is Jensen, the man who once showed him how amazingly hot it is to taste one another, that dirty isn’t wrong. Quite the opposite. Jensen made Jared crave all the filthy little things they experienced together in their past, all the things Jared wasn’t allowed to have within the last years.

“So?” Jensen says and pulls him down and, this time, Jared doesn’t stop them as Jensen crashes their mouths together in a hungry kiss. It’s rough, needy and no gentleness can be found when the other man swipes his tongue between Jared’s lips and doesn’t let go until all traces of Jensen’s climax are erased from his mouth.

 

May 2nd, Austin/TX

The doorbell rings and Jared almost trips over his own two feet when he rushes to the door. As he opens the door, an all out of breath and still smiling FedEx courier stares up at Jared. After composing himself and adjusting his breathing, the courier wets his lips. “Hello Sir. Are you Mr. Jared Ackles?”

Jared’s heart beats incredibly faster and he tries his best to take a glimpse at the envelope in the man’s hand, but he can’t see anything that would indicate who the mail is from. Of course, he hopes it is from Universal Genetics. “Yeah. Yes, that’s me.”

“Perfect. Do you have any ID on you? Sender requests proof of identification.” The courier still sounds a little out of breath when he pins the envelope under his arm to type away on his scanner.

Grabbing for his wallet in the back pocket of his jeans, Jared fiddles with it until he has his ID ready and hands it over. “Here you go.”

“Thanks, Sir.” The courier takes the ID and checks it with the details on his scanner and after several clicks and a few beeps, the guy gives Jared the envelope. “All set. Sign here, please.”

Jared scribbles his signature on the scanner and finally the courier gives him the envelope. He bids the guy farewell and when he notices the Universal Genetics logo, Jared can’t stop the nerves from eating at him. Of course, he is still sure what the DNA test will say, but Jensen’s refusal to believe him has slowly begun to project onto Jared as well.

With shaking hands Jared rips the envelope open; it clatters to the floor beside his feet as he hurriedly unfolds two letters. Before he even reads any of the words written on the paper, he skims to the bold printed numbers and words in the middle of the letter. His breathing turns raw and tears begin to sting behind his lids. Jared reads it over and over again, but with every new attempt of taking the result in, his vision becomes blurrier. In the end, he gives up trying to read the rest of the letter, instead, Jared folds it again and puts it back into the envelope and rushes to the bedroom to stuff it all in the bedside table. Jensen’s words ring in his ears, the promise of whatever the DNA test says, it wouldn’t matter and that the other man doesn’t want to know about the result. Jared, however, isn’t so sure now, that he could keep the letter from Jensen, that keeping Jensen in the dark, until the baby is born, would do their struggles any good. For now, unfortunately, Jared has to focus on their appointment with Jensen’s therapist. He is already running late and he knows how important a first impression is. Not that he has to impress the therapist or something like that, but Jared is certain that, showing up late, might disappoint Jensen. And that, that is something Jared isn’t willing to risk. He has disappointed the man more than enough during their years apart. Heart heavy and eyes still stinging after finally having a printed result of who fathered his unborn child, Jared makes his way to Jensen’s hotel.

***

Jared can’t exactly remember the last time he was that nervous. He was fine during the drive to Jensen’s hotel, he was fine getting the introductions over and done with and he was fine when Jensen talked about his morning; when he brought their son to school. Jared dwells in the happiness oozing from Jensen’s tone when he talks about their son, the sheer love and adoration, the delight he feels when he is allowed to do mundane things such as taking their kid to school. Things Jared has taken for granted. Things, Jared was blind to see how important they are for Jensen. Things, Jensen missed out on for far too long. He is also fine when Claire congratulates him on his pregnancy, explaining how Jensen has filled her in and saying that she is very relieved to see Jensen stepping up and being supportive now. Jared doesn’t want to comment too much on it, he knows that it is thanks to her magic that Jensen came back to him in the first place and he doesn’t want to jeopardize this development by discussing it all over again. However, he utters his thanks regarding the congratulations.

Now, Jared isn’t fine anymore. Now he is on edge and ready to bolt. Because now there is an expectant expression directed at him. Now he is supposed to talk and Jared can only stare at the middle-aged woman in front of him and Jensen. All Claire wants to know is, why he is here. And yet, Jared has difficulties finding his voice.

The therapist clears her throat and tries again, “let me rephrase that. Did you accompany Jensen because he asked you to or because you wanted to?”

That question is even worse to find an answer for. If Jensen hadn’t asked, then he wouldn’t have wanted to join. “Both. I guess?” Jared mulls his answer over for a brief moment and then thinks better of it. “Jensen said it might be a good idea, that it might be good for us.” Jared turns just enough to catch a glimpse of Jensen and the way the man nibbles at his bottom lip. Apparently they are both equally nervous about this.

There is a light tug of the woman’s mouth, an almost smile. “What’s your opinion on the matter? I assume, giving your nerves, therapy isn’t something you’re fond of or used to?”

Jared doesn’t understand why the woman, a total stranger, feels the need to judge him. But he is here because of Jensen, because of them . Given that, he is absolutely fond of therapy. “I’m sure you’re in on what happened between Jensen and me. Things happened to him that set off a chain reaction. A reaction I’m solely to blame for. If this…” Jared trails off to wave his hand between the three of them, “...is going to help us reach a meaningful progress then, believe me, I’m on board with everything Jensen thinks of as useful.”

Claire considers him, squinting at him doubtfully. “Why would you believe to be in fault for what happened after Jensen…” The woman abruptly stops her sentence and points a questioning look at Jensen, a silent communication he is not part of. Jared, who is unsure of what exactly is going on, follows Claire’s eyes and watches how Jensen nods at her. “...after Jensen was raped?”

A shocked gasp escapes Jared’s throat, a feeling of being sucker punched and stabbed right in the heart accompanies him. Since he learned the truth, that what happened between Jensen and that woman wasn’t consensual, Jared knew it could only be considered rape. But now, this ugly word is out in the open, for everyone to hear and think about. He didn’t even know if Jensen saw it like this, if he considered it a case of rape or if Jensen was willing to see it as such. Jensen has never been weak, never backed down or admitted defeat. He has always been a fighter, a man strong enough to go after what he wants. Admitting to be helpless, a victim, raped by a woman, none of that fit Jensen. So, it shocks and yet surprises Jared that, obviously, Jensen has no trouble facing reality. “Because…” Jared rolls his thoughts over in his head, “... I could’ve saved him from a lot of heartache. The both of us could’ve been spared years worth of misunderstandings and hurt.”

“How so?” Claire asks him without taking her eyes off of Jared, her gaze is strong and intimidating.

“Well, if I had given Jensen the chance to tell me the truth sooner, then I would’ve never left him. I was the one leaving and, therefore, I’m to blame for Jensen’s… problems.” Before Jared has a chance to explain his thoughts any further, Claire chuckles lightly.

“Funny that you say that.” She says as her lips smirk at Jensen. The man only groans and Jared is at loss of what is happening here. “Don’t you think, Jensen?”

“He’s been through hell, because I was an idiot. How’s any of that funny?” Jared snaps and he can’t stop his guts from getting aggravated at the sudden turn of events.

“You see, Jared, for years I’ve been trying to tell Jensen that, no matter how much he thinks it was right of you to leave, that he is the only one seeing it as such.” Claire explains with certainty and her head nods along her every word.

Dumbfounded, Jared averts his eyes away from the woman and towards Jensen. He takes in the nervous shaking of Jensen’s legs, the way his right hand keeps scratching at the back of his head. “You really think that?” Jared doesn’t like the shiver of Jensen’s trembling lips, the movement answering his question without any words being spoken. But Jared can’t possibly leave it at that. “Jen, why, after everything, do you think it was okay to leave you?”

The desperation in Jared’s voice doesn’t stay unnoticed, neither to Jensen nor to Claire. They both stare at him, the therapist’s eyes shine in clear understanding but Jensen, Jensen looks at him as if Jared should know the answer.

The man stays quiet, pained expression in his green gaze as he silently pleads with the therapist to take over. The woman, however, doesn’t have any of it. “Jensen, I’m not going to answer this one. I want you to tell Jared why you still think it was right of him to leave you.”

Jensen is struggling with his thoughts and the whole situation; Jared can see as much. A blind man could see the weight on the man’s shoulders. “I already told you.” Jensen mumbles and scratches his beard, his palm covering his mouth making it almost impossible to understand him. “When you first came to my place in New York, I told you.”

Many things have been said in New York, life changing words were spoken but Jared is still in the dark. “I don’t think I can follow, Jen.”

Taking his eyes off of Jared, Jensen sighs with a shake of his head. “I cheated on you. In fact, I said that no matter how many drugs were involved, I still cheated on you. So, yeah. You did right leaving me for that.”

Jared’s heart breaks, in sync with Jensen’s voice and for a drawn out moment he is left speechless. He thought he made it clear, that, if he had known the truth, then he would have never left Jensen in the first place. Though, the heartache Jensen is going through ever since, seems to be running too deep to be mended with a few words.

“Jensen…” Jared shifts in his seat, so as to being able to reach out to the other man’s hand and laces it with his own. “Drugs weren’t involved , they were administered to you without your knowledge, without your consent. What you did under the influence was out of your control.” He tries his hardest to keep his voice steady, but deep down Jared feels like puking and he can’t blame the baby for this uneasiness. “Hey, look at me.” Jared requests and tugs at Jensen’s hand lightly. Once Jensen does, Jared wants to cry over the broken quality written on the man’s face, but, instead, he offers Jensen a reassuring smile. “Ever since we met I was certain that you are the last person on earth willing to hurt me. And then, when I thought you did - which you didn’t, not on purpose, not because you wanted it - Jensen, I was betrayed by the one person I was sure would never do that to me.” Jared squeezes Jensen’s hand, just enough to keep the man’s attention and hold their eye contact. “I should’ve known that something was fishy, but I could only listen to my instincts, to the shock and not my heart. I thought the worst of you instead of acting by what I’ve always known: you love me.” The words come out broken, strained and Jared wants nothing more than to throw his arms around Jensen or shake him to make him realize that neither of them is to blame for the woman’s sickening actions, of her ripping the control out of Jensen’s hands. “You’ve always put me and our son first. Sure, we fought and had arguments, but we never, not once, didn’t manage to talk it through and get past it. I should’ve known.”

When Jensen doesn’t answer, doesn’t react at all to Jared’s flood of words, Claire clears her throat. Jared is aware that he should turn to look at her, but he can’t keep his eyes off of Jensen, can’t stop trying to read the man’s thoughts. Too badly he would like to know what’s going on inside Jensen’s head, besides the obvious pain.

“When was the last time Jared lied to you?” Claire takes over when they are both lost for words and keep staring at each other.

As soon as the question reaches Jensen, the man’s head snaps to the therapist, a look of anger on his face. “What? He’s… no, he never lied to me. He can’t lie for shit.” Turning, to face Jared again, Jensen explains further, “I’m serious. You get this weird flicker in your eyes and your nose turns all shades of pink when you’re trying to lie.” There is a small smile tugging at Jensen’s lips and Jared finds himself returning the gesture because everything Jensen just said is true. Jared has always been opposed to lies and the time during which he had to hide the truth from Aldis, didn’t do his conscience any good. And, his ex sensed all along that Jared was hiding something. So, in conclusion, he can neither lie nor hide things too well.

“So, you believe Jared? You believe, what he just told you?” Claire digs further and Jared can see what the woman is trying, how she wants Jensen to see that his thoughts are wrong.

“This has nothing to do with truth or lies.” Jensen shakes his head again and a sigh of clear annoyance follows him.

Jared can only watch and listen to the two of them. An urge to speak up and step in, to protect Jensen creeps up within him but he stays quiet and doesn’t dare interrupting.

“Shame, maybe? Fear? Jensen, for so long we’ve been discussing this issue and, against my advice, you continuously spoke about how you would do everything to be given a second chance with your husband.” Claire clicks her pen closed and folds her hands together over the file on her lap. “Now, Jared is here. You two want to work on your relationship but from our last few sessions I gathered the feeling that there is something stopping you. I’m having the feeling that your heart is all in, but your head isn’t clear enough to follow that beating organ in your chest.”

“Maybe.” Jensen stutters the single word answer out and it obviously burdens the man to half agree with his therapist. Jared swallows against the unease in his guts as he watches Jensen struggle through the conversation that sounds more and more like an interrogation.

“Elaborate, please. Not for me, but for the two of you.” Claire quirks an eyebrow at him, then leans back in her chair, legs crossed and in wait for Jensen to answer.

Taking a shallow breath, Jensen bends to rest his elbows on his thighs, head hanging low as he faces the floor. “It’s just…” Jensen mumbles and his breathing turns uneven. “I made a promise. Fifteen years ago I knew that there would never be anyone else for me, I knew it the moment I saw Jared for the first time. And, when we got married, I vowed that this won’t ever change. But it did change. I broke my promise, my vows.”

For the most part, Jared can understand what Jensen means, the vows they had given each other during the wedding ceremony were deep and meaningful; exactly how they are suppose to be. However, none of it changes the facts: Jensen was forced to break their promises for each other. If Jensen can’t see it that way, Jared guesses that there is a whole lot of talking ahead of them to make the man understand how much he is not to blame. And, Jared has broken his vow, too. He was the one leaving, the one of them who didn’t act on the ‘through good and through bad times’. “So did I.” Jared says then and leaves the words hanging in the air for Jensen to reach. After a moment of silence, and Jensen only shaking his head dismissively, Jared goes on. “I was supposed to stay. I promised you to be at your side, in good and bad but I didn’t. No matter the circumstances, I should have given you the chance to talk to me. The decision of leaving you behind was wrong, I know that now. These last couple of months have shown me that I’ve wasted five years of my life. We can’t get those years back, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make up for every single day.”

Jensen makes a strangled type of laugh, shaking his head. “We’re quite a pair,” he breathes out.

“Excuse me?” Jared asks, not sure if he has heard correctly.

“Us. Both trying to blame ourselves and make up for our wrongs.” He turns to Jared and sucks his lip in while trying to find the words. When they do come, they’re tumbling out of his mouth but are not less meaningful. “I think maybe we should just...do that. You know? Forgive each other and get started on the part where we both spend some time making amends for our wrongs.”

Jared’s heart flutters wildly in his chest. The answer seems so simple and he can almost kick himself for not coming to that conclusion on his own. Therapy, however, has forced them to get everything out on the table in a safe place. They knew the answers all along but admitting them, ripping open old wounds, was scary. “Yeah, Jen. I think I’d like that.”

Claire sweeps the room with a gaze, a smile in her eyes and curving up her lips. “Now that’s progress.”

Jared smiles, thinking, yeah, maybe it is. They’re taking small steps but at least they are sure ones, heading in the right direction. And therapy, Jared supposes, is a good path to take. No matter the further ache it will cause, Jared is definitely up for more therapy.

***

Jared feels mentally exhausted and ready to break down crying. His hormones are all over the place and reminders of Jensen’s struggles during the therapy doesn’t help his case either. After their first joined therapy, Jared was reluctant to leave Jensen alone. The man was just as shaken as Jared still is. It was painful to watch Jensen try to find excuses why he wanted Jared to leave the hotel. Jared, however, understands. He isn’t stupid enough to believe that after baring his soul, Jensen would revert back to being a hyper, happy ball of energy. Jared didn’t leave until Jensen promised to come visit him later in the afternoon or evening, whenever the other man was ready to face Jared again.

Jared’s initial idea of taking advantage of the quiet and getting a nap in before he has to pick up Matthew from school is shot to shit when there is a knock at his door. He isn’t expecting anyone so he is a little surprised that there is someone showing up at his door at this time of the day.  Jared  doubts  that it will be Jensen yet; the man was too out of it earlier. After the second knock at his door, Jared decides he better check who it is. When he opens the door, Samantha smiles up at him.

The woman directs a nervous and slightly worried look at him, “Jared, how’d it go?”

In that moment, Jared regrets that he told his neighbor about where he was going to spend his morning. Not because he doesn’t trust her, but he doesn’t feel like riding the emotional rollercoaster again. Still, Jared lets her step inside and welcomes the hug she is offering. “It went okay… ish. Lots of baggage to sort through. I might need therapy from therapy though.” Jared chuckles at his own words, no matter how funny the subject really isn’t.

“Sweetheart, are you sure you’re doing the right thing?” Samantha squints at him in irritation, “I’ve never seen you so out of the loop. And I’m not just talking about today, Jared.”

To hide his discomfort, Jared untangles himself from the embrace and makes his way towards the kitchen. Samantha is always in the mood for coffee, and, never one to say no to a conversation. So, to buy himself some time to figure out how much he wants to share with his neighbor, Jared gets to work on a few cups of coffee, Samantha following him without the need of an invitation to do so. “There’s just a lot going on lately. Jensen and I have a few issues that need to be solved and it’s not exactly easy, but we’ll be fine. I’m fine.”

Hearing drawers being opened behind him, Jared turns to see that Samantha is already getting a couple of spoons and sets the table for them. “I figured as much. Still, you don’t look so happy.” Samantha raises a daring eyebrow at him before taking two cups from the top shelf to set them next to the coffee maker. “I’m worried about you.”

“I appreciate the concern, really. The thing is…” Jared sidesteps Samantha in favor of sitting down at the table, “he and I have lost many years and the separation clawed a huge hole in both our lives. We’re doing what we can to fix it, us . It’s what we both want. Sometimes though, life throws a few more obstacles in your way that you gotta figure out how to deal with.”

The coffee maker gurgles a few more times and when the pot is as good as filled, Samantha takes over the task of pouring them each a cup. Jared, however, stops her when his own cup is halfway filled. He knows that one cup of coffee, two even, isn’t going to harm his baby, but he is still not ready to take any risks. Samantha raises an eyebrow at the action, her voice inquisitive when she asks, “What kind of obstacles are we talking about?”

“The kind with tiny hands and feet.” Jared deadpans, a smile spreading across his face to make it clear that this kind of obstacle can’t really be declared as such. Not in the slightest.

It takes his friend and neighbor a few heartbeats until she understands what Jared has just told her. “Oh my god. You’re pregnant?” Samantha’s eyes grow as wide as they can be and Jared isn’t sure if her reaction can be read as positive. She is definitely surprised though.

“Yeah, I’m pregnant.” When his own smile doubles, Samantha rounds the table to pull him into another tight hug.

“Congratulations!” She squeals, her voice chipper and all previous worry has simmered down. “This is a good thing, right?” Samantha pulls back and looks up at Jared, her eyes flickering with something Jared can’t quite decipher, but there is no negativity to be found.

“Of course!” A tinge of protectiveness layers his tone and he steps in to wrap his arms around her one more time. “Just bad timing, I guess. But when is it ever the right time, huh?” Jared jokes so that he doesn’t have to go into details about the emotional troubles the pregnancy has brought him and Jensen so far.

Letting go of each other, Samantha takes her usual seat at his kitchen table and they finally find the time to enjoy their freshly brewed coffee. “I’m so excited for you. And for me. If I get to babysit the little one too, that is.” She chuckles but her gaze remains stern, demanding. Ever since he first met Samantha, the woman has developed a great love for Matthew. She loves his son something fierce and Jared knows that he couldn’t have found a better babysitter for the boy. Soon enough, Matthew might not need an actual babysitter anymore, but Jared can guess that this fact won’t keep Samantha away from the kid. She might be somewhat too young to be a grandmother, but she sure as hell dotes on Matthew like one. All in all, Jared is very grateful that Samantha wormed her way into all their hearts with her kind nature and crazily devoted heart.

“Oh you can count on it, Sam.” Jared takes a careful sip from his cup and licks his lips as he puts the cup back on the table. “In fact, I might need your babysitting skills today; for the big one.”

Within a second flat, her face lights up as if Jared just handed her a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills. “I’m listening.”

“I’d like to cook dinner for Jensen tonight, but we haven’t talked to Matt yet. Our son’s still in the dark about everything. About Jensen and me, about the baby. And, honestly? I got no idea how to break the news to him.” Jared feels defeated and somewhat useless. He has never had any problems talking to Matthew, especially about things that are supposed to be good. Jared guesses, that he will have to team up with Jensen. Originally Jared wanted to have this conversation with Matthew alone, but maybe it is for the best if they both have that kind of talk with their son.

“That boy loves his papa to death. Telling him that you and Jensen are back together won’t exactly be disappointing to him. I’ve got no doubt that he’ll be more than happy to hear all the news you two have to share. He might take some time getting used to being a big brother, but Matthew dotes on the younger kids he hangs out with. You know that. I’m sure he’ll be fine.” Samantha reaches over the table to take Jared’s hand in her smaller one, squeezing it reassuringly so as to calm him down. “How about you and Jensen spend the day together and I take Matthew to the movies after school? Also, I wouldn’t mind if the boy stays the night, if Jensen and you wanna have a little more time together. If you know what I mean.” There is a knowing smirk tugging at Samantha’s lips and Jared can feel the heat rising in his cheeks, a blush making itself prominent in an instant at the intimation.

***

Whenever Jared has to cook dinner for Matthew he is reminded of how incapable he is in the kitchen. His son once said as much but so far, the boy hasn’t starved and complaints aren’t coming in that often. Not anymore. Matthew is probably used to it by now. However, Jared’s cooking skills can’t compete with Jensen’s when the man is whipping up meals. And that, is a very prominent problem at the moment because Jared is trying his best to cook a mean steak for Jensen. One might say he is trying to impress Jensen. Jared is already painfully aware that all signs point towards failure of this task. Nonetheless, he doesn’t give up and keeps on cooking. He flips the steaks for a second time to let them frizzle a couple more minutes and, while they start to turn a delicious shade of umber, Jared prepares the side dish. Cutting off the ends of the beans and keeping a watchful eye on the steaks at the same time, Jared’s hand slips and he is left with a cut on his thumb. “Fucking great.” The curse comes in an instant and, when the pain sets in, he hisses against the uncomfortable feeling. Quickly, Jared pads to the bathroom and covers the cut with bandage. It isn’t pretty but it will do for now; a paper cut hurts more and he has more important things to worry about.

His nostrils catch a unmistakable smell coming straight from the kitchen and Jared rushes back to the stove, just in time to watch the steaks turning from umber to black. “Oh come on! You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me!” So much for impressing Jensen. Jared rolls his eyes in annoyance and anger when he takes the frying pan and dumps the steaks in the trash. The scent is still pushing all the wrong buttons and makes him sick, leaving his stomach roiling. He is still hungry though, the mere lunch he had wasn’t enough by far but with the meat being off the table, literally, Jared is at loss of what to chew on. The fridge might be stuffed and there is definitely enough to prepare a sandwich, but none of the contents of his fridge tickle his fancy at the moment. For longer than necessary Jared simply stares at the burned steaks inside the trash and tries to figure out what to do next. Maybe, he thinks, it is a sign from up above. Maybe today isn’t the day he is going to impress Jensen. Not that Jared has any idea if the other man is going to show up at all. So far, Jensen has neither called nor messaged him since they parted after therapy. He silently prays that Jensen didn’t forget about his promise to show up. Kicking the trash cabinet closed, Jared fishes for his cell from his pockets and opens his messages.

“Need you to come over.” The text is sent out quickly and when it is checked as read, Jared buries the phone back into his jeans pocket.

Clueless, when and if Jensen might show up, Jared busies himself by cleaning up the mess he created in the kitchen. Five minutes into scrubbing the frying pan like a crazy person, Jared waves the white flag and disposes the pan in the trash as well. He will just buy a new one because his mood is sure to go downhill if he worries about it any longer.

Another ten minutes later a heavy, rumbling knock rattles at his door and it flies open only a second later. “Jared?!”

The loud yell and noise startles Jared and forces him to jump, hitting his head against one of the upper cabinets. “Fucking Christ!”

“Jared!” Jensen’s voice cuts through Jared’s panting as he rubs his hand over the spot that just connected with the cabinet door. He squeezes his eyes shut to kick the pain away as far as possible and when he opens his lids again, Jensen is staring right at him. “Jared, what happened?”

“You came,” Jared says dumbly and rubs his head some more, wincing.

“Of course. Dude, I’ve been trying to call you like ten times since I got your message. What the hell?” Jensen looks worried, a little pissed, but also very much relieved. “You have got to stop setting your phone on mute.”

Jared’s mouth turns into a fish-like ‘O’ as his gaze sizes Jensen up and down. “Uh…” After he blinks in answer to Jensen’s expectant stare, Jared grabs for his phone again and sees that he, in fact, still has it on mute. Guilt settles in immediately, because he never has that damn thing on mute when Matthew is with anyone but him. But, due to the preparations of the dinner he had planned, he must have forgotten and this is something that doesn’t usually happen to him. He makes a mental note to be more attentive the next time and hopes that his ever growing pregnancy hormones won’t screw with him too much in the next months. “Sorry. I forgot,” Jared apologizes and nibbles at his bottom lip, hoping that Jensen will accept his apology.

The older man steps closer then, his head shaking but his eyes softening. “You okay? What was that text about? I was worried.” Jensen scrunches his nose up and notices the now perfectly clean kitchen. “And, what’s that smell?”

They both recognize the still lingering smell of burnt food, it’s not the first time that this kind of stink hangs in the air when Jared is near a stove and when he looks at Jensen again, a knowing smile forming on the other man’s lips, Jared blushes bright red. “I tried to make dinner for you.”

Jensen’s smile grows wider when realization kicks in, that Jared’s text message wasn’t exactly a call of emergency. “You know I’m not a fan of charcoal.”

“Very funny.” Jared pouts, but can’t keep the fake puppy face up when Jensen starts laughing, forming more of those beautiful crinkles around the man’s eyes.

“It’s a lil’ funny.” The wink Jensen throws him is the only real humorous part, because the man can’t wink for shit, always closing the second eye halfway too. It’s comical, really, and Jared suppresses a snort by biting the inside of his cheeks. “Alright, you got flour, yeast and olive oil around?”

“I think so, yeah.” Brows furrowed and head tilted in question, Jared wonders what Jensen wants with those ingredients.

The man claps his hands together and rubs them in delight, “perfect. Time to save the day.”

“Okay…” Jared mumbles, still without a clue as to what Jensen is going to do, but he rummages through his cabinets until he finds the ingredients Jensen asked for and hands them to the man. “Anything else?”

“Yep. Two cups of lukewarm water and a tablespoon of salt. Gonna fix up a pizza dough and you’ll get whatever you want and have out of the fridge for toppings.” Jensen’s face splits almost in half when he grins at Jared, obviously more than happy to replace the burnt plan of dinner with pizza.

And Jared, Jared is ready to start crying at the mention of Jensen’s pizza. It’s ridiculous, Jared thinks, that he is getting all emotional over something so simple but it’s been years since Jensen cooked for him and it’s also been that long since they have last spent such carefree time together.

While Jensen mixes all the ingredients for the dough, Jared is left doing nothing. The toppings he knows they both like are already placed in a neat line on the counter and ready to be plastered all over the dough. What he can do though, is watch Jensen.

“So, where’d you ship Matty off to?” Jensen asks out of the blue and twirls the dough between his hands.

Jared is so drawn to Jensen’s hands, the fluid movements as he’s treating the food like it’s something precious and delicate, that it takes him a second to shake out of his headspace. “He’s with Sam. They’re going to watch that new The Jungle Book movie.” Jared ends his answer with a shrug, completely nonchalant as he doesn’t want Jensen to know that he deliberately asked Samantha to watch Matthew so he can spend the evening alone with Jensen.

“On a school day?” Jensen looks sceptical, his hands stopping for a moment and head turning to take a glance at the clock next to the fridge. “It’s kinda late already.”

Following the man’s gaze, Jared can see what Jensen is saying. It is late. Usually, Matthew is supposed to be home by 6pm on school days. Even Jensen knows that. Nervousness settles deep in Jared’s bones when he observes Jensen’s worried posture, still waiting for an answer. “He’s staying with her. I thought it might be better if…” Jared is cut off when Jensen’s expression changes into a hurtful one and the dough lands with a hard thud on the counter.

“What? Because I was off after therapy you thought it was better I don’t get to see him?” The man’s jaw clenches, a clear sign of trouble ahead, making Jared feel like an idiot for choosing the wrong wording.

“No!” Jared almost squawks. He feels like he’s being slapped in the face with Jensen’s assumption. Before the situation escalates, Jared moves in front of Jensen, trapping himself between the counter and the other man. Jensen takes a step back, surprised by the sudden change and leaves his hands hanging in mid air, all covered in flour. “I wanted to be alone with you.” There is a long minute of silence in which Jared ducks his head, unsure if it was a good idea to have Jensen to himself or if the other man would have rather spent the evening alone or with their son.

Without a warning, Jensen shifts closer, hands cupping Jared’s face. “‘m sorry.” There is a small pull against his jaw and Jensen doesn’t stop until Jared has him in his line of sight again. “Can we pretend I didn’t say anything?”

“Not really.” Jared stares Jensen down, giving his best to sound serious, but it is fruitless when his lips shift into a smile. “But you can make it up to me. I’m starving.”

“Ha. I see how it is. You only love me for my food.” The quip rolls easily out of Jensen and it’s a testimony to their past, the great times they always had.

Jared holes up in the memory of how they were and right now, he guesses, they won’t have too much work to do to reach this point again. “I love your cooking, the ingredients I bought have nothing to do with that. They’re all mine. You make them something else.” He gives Jensen a quick peck on the lips before he moves out of the way so the man can continue and finish the pizza. Because, the longer they are so close, the hungrier Jared becomes. And not all of that hunger is for food.

To Jared’s surprise, the pizza doesn’t take as long as he remembers. However, after fifteen minutes in the oven, his whole house smells like an Italian restaurant and he quickly realizes how badly he has missed something so simple. Something he could have had all along, but still, whenever someone as much as mentioned the word pizza , Jared couldn’t help but associate it with Jensen. Now he has both: Jensen and pizza. As ridiculous as that thought might be, Jared feels like the missing pieces of his life are coming back together, with thanks to a fresh meal he can’t wait to gnaw on. To transfer his thoughts out into the open, his stomach begins grumbling at the delicious smell.

“Here we go.” Jensen announces and pulls the tray out of the oven, setting it onto the counter. “Plates?”

Jared’s gaze is still glued to the tray, eyes taking in the mount of melted cheese, just the way he likes it. The man hasn’t forgotten anything about Jared. Neither how he likes his coffee, nor what he loves to eat.  He knows that he is way too emotional over that damn food, but it isn’t just food. Not for him. Not for them. After collecting all his thoughts, stuffing them in the back of his mind for later access, Jared takes two plates and helps Jensen load them. For the time being, it is almost as if Jensen has always been there, working in Jared’s kitchen like the man used to do in their kitchen years ago. Watching Jensen move around in his house rises Jared’s confidence in them, that hopefully, soon it won’t only be Jared’s house anymore. Maybe, if Jensen is really going through with his plan of moving back to Austin, they will have a place to call theirs again.

They decide against the dining table, in favor of getting comfortable on the couch in the living room. It doesn’t stay unnoticed to him, that Jensen deliberately sits as close to him as they can manage while still being able to dig in.

The first bite Jared takes, is pure bliss to him. So much so, he can’t hide when he moans in joy over the amazing taste. “Oh my god. This is so damn good.”

“It’s just pizza.” Jensen chuckles, making his eyes crinkle so deep Jared can’t look away.

Jared takes another huge bite, chewing on it for a little while longer as he lets the taste hit his taste buds completely. “Yeah, no.” He says around a mouthful and without thinking it through, he goes on. “I haven’t had any kind of pizza in five years.”

When his eyes land on Jensen again, the other man wears a sceptical and slightly confused expression. “Why? You like pizza.”

“Wrong. I love yours . You ruined me for every pizza place in the country.” Jared reveals with a shrug, leaving his answer hanging in the air for Jensen to figure out the meaning behind it. The man seems to pick up on what Jared is saying, a sorrowful tug dragging his lips downwards when he realizes that even Jared has had troubles dealing with memories from the past.

“There’s more.” Jensen answers, instead of drilling for details.

Nodding, as if he doesn’t know that Jensen made enough food to last them through a few days, Jared leans back and shoves more pizza into his mouth. They are quiet for a long while, simply enjoying dinner and the time they get to spend together. However, when Jared’s plate is, except for a few crumbs, as good as polished, his stomach starts protesting. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that it isn’t nausea causing his guts to act up. The day’s events keep nagging him and for the most part Jared did well with shutting his thoughts off and function. But, now, the silence leaves room for his brain to run wild again and he puts his plate down on the coffee table before facing Jensen, who is still munching on his own food. “This morning, before we met with Claire…” Jared begins, but the words get stuck in his throat when Jensen stares at him, worry and fear so visible that Jared can barely breathe. “I received the DNA results.” He bites the inside of his cheeks, eyes flickering over every inch of Jensen’s face as he tries to read the man, but Jensen stays expressionless, his face blank of every emotion.

Almost a minute passes where neither of them speaks and then, like someone kickstarted Jensen’s engine again, the man swallows thickly and shakes his head. Without looking at Jared, Jensen asks “can we please not talk about this?”

The hurt in Jensen’s voice is strong enough to shatter Jared and yes, he wishes that they could just ignore the elephant in the room. Though, the elephant in the room is only there because Jensen refuses to talk to him about the baby. “Jensen…”

“No. Jared, just drop it, alright? I told you I’ll know in a few months. Soon enough reality will hit me in the face. So, can we just act like everything’s okay for now?”

“But…”

“I need a beer.” Jensen cuts him off, stuffs his mouth with the last slice of pizza and takes their plates to bring them into the kitchen.

Shuffling on the couch, until his eyes can follow the other man, Jared catches how his hand moves to his middle. The change to his stomach is barely visible, it’s still too early to show more than a tiny bloat. But, he realizes with each new day that passes, he’s going to pop earlier than he did with Matthew. Must be the second pregnancy curse Jared has heard of. And it might be true that with the second pregnancy, men and women grow earlier. Jared is going to be one of them, because already, his pants are starting to pinch his waist. Jared can hear the door of the fridge being opened and he rubs his palm over his stomach some more. “He’s gonna love you so much, I promise,” Jared whispers to the little miracle underneath his skin, careful so Jensen won’t be able to hear him. There are many things Jared doesn’t understand, and Jensen wanting to play pretend is one of them. Though, the evening has been pretty damn good so far and Jared doesn’t want to aggravate Jensen and destroy their mood. There is just no way he won’t tell Jensen the test results. Some things simply can’t be left unsaid. All Jared has to do is wait for the right time and the right words.

When Jensen is back in the living room, beer bottle in one hand and a glass of orange juice in the other for Jared, the man takes his previous seat. Jared is bothered by the fact that Jensen does act like the earlier words weren’t spoken, but he doesn’t say anything. He sticks to his plan and rolls with whatever makes Jensen comfortable. Taking the offered juice, Jared takes a few sips and watches Jensen do the same with his beer. There is still some tomato sauce on the corner of Jensen’s mouth, a small spot the man’s tongue didn’t catch and before Jared realizes what he’s doing he reaches behind Jensen’s neck, pulling the man in close. “You’ve got something….” His tongue sneaks out, all on  its own, “right here.” he breathes and nibbles the residual sauce off of Jensen’s mouth.

The atmosphere in the room changes so quickly that neither of them is fazed when the small action turns into light teasing. Jensen removes the drinks from their hands to place them on the table before taking Jared’s lips hostage again. Soon enough, Jensen’s lips part eagerly, sucking Jared’s tongue between and the previous hunger for pizza hurriedly shifts into a deep desire, a longing so strong that they claw at each other like they are starving for it.

Jared can only whimper into the kiss, his body pressed so close to Jensen that he doesn’t know where either of them starts and the other one ends. Both their emotions are going crazy, their movements almost sloppy, but Jared doesn’t care. It’s still perfect because it’s them. He’s with Jensen and the man is about to eat him alive, his mouth hot and wet against Jared’s as they chase each other’s lips, breathing in the same air and swallowing down moan after moan of one another.

Time passes without them taking notice. Only when oxygen becomes an issue does Jared pull his lips off, filling his lungs with air. Jensen is still so close, forcing them both to go almost cross-eyed to keep their eye contact. “You still taste like pizza.” Jared smiles against Jensen’s sinful lips, moving in again to capture them in another kiss.

“I’d rather taste like you.” Jensen deadpans, holding Jared’s head in place to dive in again, fucking his tongue in and out of his mouth like there is no tomorrow.

It takes Jared’s brain another few suckings of his tongue until he catches on and understands what Jensen is saying, what he is hinting at. But, when it finally does hit Jared what Jensen means, he doesn’t waste any time and pulls them both off the couch. “Bedroom.” Jared declares in a stern tone, not giving the other man any chance of saying no or thinking it over for too long.

May it be hormones or just the pure need to be with Jensen, Jared has no clue which one it is, but he doesn’t give a flying fuck as he drags Jensen to his bedroom with long strides, making both of them stumble over their own feet while doing so. It’s been two months since he’s had sex with Jensen and he just wants . The blowjob a week ago wasn’t enough by a long shot and how much he’s dying to have Jensen all over him Jared shows by stripping Jensen off his clothes in record time. They are both panting heavily by the time Jared gets started on his own clothing, shedding it in lightning speed and crashes his naked self against Jensen again. The cold metal of Jensen’s necklace against his hot skin makes him shiver, his body on fire and he’s sure, by the time he has Jensen draped all over him, he will be burning up in flames. What a way to go though.

“Eager much?” Jensen smirks against his lips, hands pulling him even closer, so much so that even a piece of paper wouldn’t fit in between them anymore.

“Shut up.” It’s a threat, without any real heat behind it and Jared takes over and walks them backwards until the inside of his knees hit the edge of the bed. Looking at Jensen, watching how the man’s eyes darken by the intensity of the situation, Jared can see that Jensen is ready to throw a retort at him. However, Jared doesn’t let him, shuts the other man up by sitting his own ass down on the bed and grabbing Jensen by the hips to pull him in close. Jared doesn’t miss a beat, wrapping one of his large palms around Jensen’s semi hard length. Jared is ready to drool at the sight, Jensen isn’t even completely hard yet and already so huge Jared is sure he could choke himself on Jensen’s cock. When his gaze travels up at the man, Jensen’s eyes are pleading with him, mouth agape and panting.

Jared twists his wrist, stroking Jensen two, three times and parts his lips to give the man’s cock a wet lick from base to tip. The need to watch Jensen, see the man’s pleasure spread over his face, is almost better than getting sucked off himself. Almost.

“You keep looking at me like that…” Jensen’s voice is hoarse, breath fanning all the way down over Jared’s face. “...and this’ gonna be over pretty damn quick.”

It kind of sounds like a test to Jared. A test he is going to pass. To prove himself that he is still able to make Jensen lose it, Jared doesn’t dare to take his eyes off of him when he opens his mouth further, taking all of Jensen in, and seals his lips when the man’s cockhead nudges against the back of his throat.

For a while, Jared is dead set on torture, going down on Jensen as slow as possible until his hard cock fills Jared’s mouth good and proper. There is no holding back any longer when Jensen’s hands find their way to the back of his head.

“Your mouth… so fucking good, Jay.” Jensen croaks out, his hips syncing with the bop of Jared’s head. The man is mindful, wary and Jared appreciates it, loves how attentive Jensen can be. However, they both know Jared can take it. And he wants it, needs Jensen to stop fooling around and be more aggressive with him. To remind Jensen of what Jared can handle, he guides the man’s hips with his hands until their snaps become faster, to the point where Jared’s eyes begin to water.

Suddenly, and unexpectedly, Jensen pulls back with a growl from deep down his throat and slings Jared around until he lands face first onto the mattress.

“Ass up.” Jensen all but commands and Jared is left gasping when Jensen pulls him up by the hips.

“Who’s eager now?” Jared braces himself on all fours and cranes his neck to smirk at Jensen over his shoulder.

Nerves shake him with the intense stare Jensen has on him, jaw clenched tight and palms flat on each of Jared’s ass cheeks. “‘This a competition?” Jensen drawls, eyes roaming over every inch of Jared’s back until they stop at his opening. “Because I know you’ll be begging soon.”

His cock twitches, every muscle shivers at the promise because when it comes to Jensen, Jared can beg for all he’s worth. And, Jensen knows that. So does Jared. Jensen always used to tease him and it seems like now isn’t going to be any different. Jared can’t wait to be teased, if it means having Jensen on him. Preferably inside him in every way possible; he is practically starving for it. “Enjoying the view?” He asks then, when Jensen is still doing nothing to get with the program.

Jared wants to say more, wants to start the whole begging earlier than he imagined it would take place but then Jensen’s hands move slowly, kneading and spreading his ass, thumbs driving lazily in between. “Gonna take my time with you.” Jensen hums quietly and Jared hopes to god that the man is talking to his ass, because he is dying to get Jensen’s mouth on the most intimate and neglected part of his body.

Still remembering each other well enough, the smile crossing over Jensen’s face is proof enough that the man knows exactly what Jared is craving and what is surely going to drive him crazy. Growing impatient, Jared sighs, head lowering to hang between his shoulders as he pushes his ass against Jensen’s strong hands. The hint is, apparently, received when Jensen moves closer, forcing Jared’s legs further apart. Every part of him that Jensen touches, makes his skin tingle and burn with pleasure. There are tiny kisses, splayed leisurely over Jared’s globes; teeth scraping and lips sucking and Jared has to bite the inside of his cheeks to keep himself from begging yet. The moment Jensen’s lips hover over his opening, Jared holds his breath and goes still. The other man peppers his furled hole with soft licks, thumb playing alongside to put more pressure on the spot and Jared is short of flying off the bed when Jensen finally presses his tongue flat against the muscle. “Oh my god!” He cries out, hands holding on to the sheets for dear life; it just feels that good and Jensen hasn’t even started doing what Jared knows the man can do. Jared’s dick hardens in anticipation, filling more and more with blood as the man’s tongue works Jared open with small licks and hard stabs inside. There is no way Jared is going to survive a whole lot of teasing tonight, that he is certain about because the moment one of Jensen’s thumbs breaches him, tongue guiding the digit with spit and heat, Jared’s whole body vibrates and he feels like he is on fire.

“Oh god!” Jared screams out again, incapable of finding any fitting words, or words at all, to voice the sensations Jensen is rising within him. He is completely lost in the pure bliss Jensen is giving him, the man’s tongue so hot against his inner walls that his vision goes foggy and his nerve endings run into overdrive. Jared’s brain is short of boiling, close to exploding when Jensen’s hand sneaks between his legs, wrapping it around Jared’s hard length to pull his cock back and start to suckle on the head like it’s a damn lollipop. “Fucking Jesus…” Jared’s throat hurts with the curse, his mouth so dry from breathing heavily, his panting increases by the time Jensen swallows him down to the tilt and lets Jared’s cock slip free to lick another long line up to his gaping hole. “Jensen… please. I…” His words are cut short as Jensen’s tongue fucks him deeper than before and it knocks every breath out of him.

“You what?” Jensen breathes against his hole, teeth nibbling over his ass and up to his lower back.

Getting his brain to function and react to the question takes Jared a great amount of time, his brain cells are still too focused on moving his ass against Jensen’s face and he really, very much so, wants Jensen’s mouth on him again. He doesn’t even remember what he wanted to say, other than the obvious, that he needs more. Jared always needed more of Jensen, and these days the want is increasing to immense highs.

“Mh? What is it, Jay?” The man drapes his lips downwards again, tongue circling around and over Jared’s furled hole. “You like this, don’t you?” Jensen’s hot breath fans over his opening, making his asshole twitch and every other part of his body tremble. Jared is in no condition to deliver an answer, all he can manage to voice are moans, groaning in agreement and crying out his pleasure with the way Jensen is playing him. “Bet I could still make you come like this, fuck you with my tongue until you come.”

Jared is ready to do anything to have Jensen do just that to him, but before he has a chance to agree, Jensen runs one of his fingers over his opening and shoves it all the way inside in one hard thrust. By the time Jensen has two fingers deeply placed inside of him, knuckles crooked to reach for the sweet spot, Jared’s brain is fried and his strength to hold himself upright is gone for good. His face lands back on the sheets, ass still propped up high by Jensen’s strong grip on him and the only thing Jared can do, is enjoy the ride and give himself over to Jensen’s sweet torture. Jensen stretches him to the point where Jared is close to voicing a complaint, but as soon as Jensen’s thick fingers connect with his prostate again, the slight burn turns into pure bliss.

Suddenly, the pressure inside of him is gone, replaced with cold and a frustrated growl escaping Jared’s mouth. But then, Jensen chuckles from behind him, “on your back, now.” The man says and flips Jared over without any effort at all.

“What the…” Jared stares up at Jensen, who grins down at him like the devil personified.

Shoving Jared’s legs apart, Jensen shimmies in between again and leans over, his face so close to Jared’s that all he has to do to kiss the man is move his head up an inch. However, Jensen beats him to it and starts to nip at his lips hungrily, hips rocking against Jared’s, making their hard cocks connect. So much so, that Jared is close to losing it. “Taste better now?” Jensen’s tongue tangles with Jared’s, mapping his mouth out and not giving Jared the chance to actually answer his question. Though, there is no need to answer and Jared follows Jensen’s lead, moves his body against Jensen’s, letting their erections search for more friction against one another. When their needs win over, Jensen kisses his way down over Jared’s abdomen, the man’s lips not daring to miss a single spot, lingering for a longer moment underneath Jared’s belly button. Jensen’s hand comes to join his lips, brushing over the miniature swell that can barely be declared as such. But it is there, and Jensen can see it and Jared watches him, can’t take his eyes off of the way the other man is looking at the stretched skin. Jared can’t make out what Jensen is thinking, but he can see a shimmer of adoration and that is all Jared needs to know for now. Although, he is scared that the moment is over, that the reminder of their earlier conversation is going to ruin their progress. Yet, Jensen takes the wheel and steers them back into a more promising night as he leans back on his hunches and lines himself up, his hard length nudging and teasing at Jared’s opening.

Hesitation settles on Jensen’s features as his gaze travels back up to find Jared’s. “Lube?”

The question isn’t if Jared has lube. The question is if he wants to use any. Shaking his head in a clear no, Jared bites on his bottom lip. “No. Wanna feel you.”

There is a distant nod, a silent understanding as the man leans down. Jensen’s lips find Jared’s as he slides inside him, finally connecting in a way that has been missing from their lives for years. They are moving slow at first, their eye contact never wavering from each other, taking in their new found connection. The moment between them is quiet, vulnerable, their breathing barely audible and Jensen’s eyes shine with so much love that Jared wants to cry. It’s Jensen who first notices their silence is edging on getting too much, too heavy in emotions and he comes down, capturing his lips again, turning the moment back into their previous rush and begins to rock his hips in a faster pace. Jared reacts to the increasing thrusts immediately, his whole body vibrating with the movements, his skin glistening with sweat. Jensen’s lips still won’t let go of him, his kisses only becoming uncoordinated and sloppy when his hips speed up even more, the man’s pelvis rocking into Jared with more force now, leaving Jared gasping for air. Every time Jared thinks that now he can take a breather, Jensen slams right back into him, knocking the oxygen from his lungs in a brutal force. There is no telling of who of them is panting harder, who is crying for more, who is moaning for faster but the moment Jensen grabs for Jared’s thighs to pull him even deeper down on his cock, Jared is screaming out Jensen’s name as his orgasm is fucked out of him so fast that he is seeing stars. Jensen is still going at it, pounding into him as if the man’s going for the gold medal. There is a second where Jared thinks that he is going to pass out, but then Jensen gives one final, hard thrust and comes with a guttural grunt, filling Jared and coating his inner walls for what feels like hours.

Every muscle in his body is seizing with aftershocks and they are both breathing hard, breathing each other in. Jensen’s eyes are glassy, shiny, almost wet with tears and Jared senses a shift in the air. It isn’t anything Jared has to worry about, he hopes, because Jensen is still smiling at him. Then, as Jensen presses himself flush against Jared’s side, hand palming over his chest, he sees a look of dilemma in the man’s eyes. Jared wants to know what this is about, but he is also afraid of asking, unsure if he will like the answer. The hand on his chest doesn’t stop moving, only keeps on running further down and comes to a halt beneath his belly button and that, that is exactly where Jensen’s hand belongs on. Jared wanted to feel the man’s touch on his middle for so long that his breath hitches at the surprising action.

“What’s going on in that head of yours?” Jared dares to ask then, unwilling to stay quiet and still scared to ruin the intimate moment between the three of them. Jensen, however, doesn’t say anything, only shakes his head and leans in to press their lips together. The smile on Jensen’s face falters, giving the man’s troubles away; not in detail, but enough to worry Jared even more. “Tell me. Be honest.”

“It’s stupid.” Jensen sounds small, full of fear and the lick over his bottom lip is shaky.

“Let me be the judge of that, huh?” He offers Jensen and shifts his arm behind the man to play with the short hair at the back of Jensen’s neck.

“The chances are slim to none, far below zero…” A audible gulp wrecks Jensen’s throat, his fingers spreading wide over the tiny bloat on Jared’s middle. “...which is why I don’t wanna know. Not yet.” The man’s hand stops then, it lays still and warms Jared’s skin anew.

“Will you love him, or her?” The question is stupid, Jared knows that. There is no doubt that Jensen will love the tiny addition to their family; the man said as much before. Jared doesn’t even understand why he asked again, but a voice inside his head prompted him to let it out. Though, they are both aware that Jared knows the DNA results already and how his question just cleared the result to Jensen, is visible on the broken expression on Jensen’s face; as if all his hopes have been crushed within the last ten seconds.

“Yes, Jay. I’ll love the baby.” A slight hitch in Jensen’s words leave Jared thinking that maybe Jensen won’t be able to love the little one. But that is seriously doubtful because Jensen is the one who taught Jared to love, the man has shown him what it means to love and be loved. There is no way Jensen won’t be falling in love with the baby at some point; if he isn’t already. To cement Jared’s theory, Jensen gives him a smile that says more than words ever could, it only falls a little when he speaks again. “Doesn’t mean I don’t wish it’d be mine. I want that baby to be all you and me, ‘s why I asked you to keep the results to yourself. I wasn’t ready to face any other option yet.” Jensen’s head falls into the crook of Jared’s arm and his fingers begin to draw a new round of circles over the baby’s belly-home. “I wanted it to be mine so badly.”

Jared turns his face, enough to move his mouth over the top of Jensen’s head, lips kissing over the disheveled mess. “Good.” He speaks in a whisper and joins one of his hands on top of Jensen’s over his stomach, squeezing it. “That’s good, because the baby is yours.”

There is a snort coming from Jensen, probably because he has heard that line more times than they both can count, and Jared guesses that the man doesn’t understand what Jared just told him. Shifting a little, enough to reach the bedside table, he pulls it open and blindly grabs for the envelope he stashed there in the morning. The crackling of the paper gets Jensen’s attention as the man looks over to what Jared is doing. “Jay?”

Being right handed doesn’t make the task exactly easy, but somehow Jared makes do and gets the letter out of the envelope, placing it on his chest. “Like I said, the baby is yours.” He smiles down at Jensen nervously and pushes the paper closer to Jensen.

“That can’t be.” The man shakes his head, doubt written all over his face but he takes the letter nonetheless, shifting into a sitting position to unfold it. Jared watches like a hawk, saves every move of Jensen to memory as the man reads over the words written in fine black letters.

“This isn’t possible.” Jensen murmurs, eyes flickering and shifting, going up and down the letter for a dozen times. Jared knows what Jensen is reading, he himself has read the words many times as he received the results. With a ninety-nine percent certainty of their baby’s ethnicity being caucasian, there is no doubt that Jensen is the baby’s father. Then, after gulping a few times, Adam’s apple working a double shift, Jensen’s focus lands on Jared again. “How is that possible?” There is still disbelief in his tone, his whole face trying to come up with the right expression as it switches from surprised to shocked, to happy and then Jensen tears up.

“There was a blizzard.” Jared grins so hard he can feel the crater of his dimples poking at his cheeks. “Then we had sex, didn’t use protection and somehow my ovaries decided to work properly for once.”

Jensen lays the letter out over Jared’s chest, palms flattening it a couple of times before one of his hands moves lower. His palm stops over their unborn, Jared observes the motion then he looks up at Jensen and feels his eyes sting in joy when a tear rolls over Jensen’s cheek. “Congratulations, papa.” Jared whispers, hand joining Jensen’s again over their baby.

The man licks his lips then, gaze never letting go of Jared’s stomach, “she’s really mine.” Realization finally seems to hit Jensen and his face breaks out in a wide smile, a deep, emotional sob following right after.

“Or he. But still yours. And mine, since I’ve got something to do with it too, you know.” He tries for a joke, wanting to lighten the mood but the attempt is fruitless because Jensen is now completely in tears and the only response Jared receives is Jensen throwing his arms around Jared’s neck, crashing their mouthes together in a kiss that is bordering on painful, but it’s  too good to be worth complaining over.

There was a time in Jared’s life, the past five years, precisely, where he thought his life was leading towards a good future, a time where he thought that he has found happiness again and his feelings were on the up and up. He was wrong. In this very moment, with Jensen in his arms and their new baby growing inside of him, Jared realizes once again that there is no such thing as real happiness for him, not unless he can be with Jensen. “I love you.” He hushes between kisses and the declaration forces Jensen to cry even harder.

Finally it feels like all the doubts that have been shadowing them are gone. Maybe not gone for good, but nothing has ever felt so perfect and right. Now, all they have to figure out is how to break all of the exciting news to their son.

Chapter Text

June 15th 2016, Austin/ TX

 

At sixteen weeks into his pregnancy, Jared is already hoarding oversized shirts. He first opted for hoodies, but with his hormones making him sweat when he does so much as breathe and the calendar reading June, in Texas of all places, there is just no way in hell Jared can manage to wear more than one layer. There is no reason why he should hide his steadily growing middle, other than he and Jensen still haven’t figured out how to tell Matthew about the baby, or that their son’s other father is going to play a very present role in their lives again. Two weeks ago, when Jensen last visited them for a second time in May, Jared insisted that the man stay at their house again and, while Matthew is more than fond of having his papa around more frequently, they missed the opportunity to talk to the boy. It wasn’t that they didn’t think about it - no, they still think about it whenever they speak on the phone, or when Jensen is in Austin. But, somehow, they keep dancing around the subject. Why they do that, Jared has no clue. It isn’t like they are hiding something bad, quite the opposite. Still, Jared is worried that Matthew will be thrown with all the changes. However, he also knows that sooner or later he has to have a serious talk with Matthew. Impatience, and the sheer unpleasant feeling of hiding his feelings and his baby bump, is what finally gives Jared the courage to sit the kid down and speak up about what is going on. Jared decided it is a good idea to spend the afternoon with Matthew at home, a safe place that gives his son the chance to storm off into his room if things go south. The boy is anything but happy to be spending the afternoon with his dad, since he wanted to meet with his friends at the park to ride their bikes.

“Dad, please .” Matthew’s puppy eyes pop in full force, but they only ever work on Jensen, never with Jared. Because he is the reason their son can pull them in the first place.  He mastered them, therefore is more than able to resist them. “Calvin’s waiting and Anna said she’ll come, too.” His son’s expression changes into a nervous, yet fond smile, the way it always does when Anna is the subject of a conversation.

“Anna, huh?” Jared leans against the doorframe of Matthew’s room, stuffing his hands in his jean’s pocket to make sure his sweater stays in place. “You like her a lot, don’t you?”

Matthew drops his backpack, startled. “Uh, well, she’s my best friend.” The kid doesn’t look at Jared but he can still see that there is more to the ‘best friend’-status, giving clues that maybe his eight year old his dealing with his first little crush. The heat rising in Matthew’s cheeks gives Jared enough material to work with, to find a perfect ground for what he is about to tell the boy. “And, I promised I’d be there. You said it’s wrong to break promises.”

Touché. Jared can’t argue with that. “True. Matt, I just need to talk to you for a moment and if you wanna leave afterwards, you’re free to go.”

Hearing the possibility of still meeting with his friends makes Matthew turn and face his dad, “really?”

Jared nods, takes the few steps he needs to reach Matthew’s bed and sits down on the edge, cocking his head for his son to follow suit and join him. “We gotta talk about something, about your papa.” A knot builds in Jared’s throat, making it difficult for him to confess of what he has been hiding for weeks now. Taking in Matthew’s frown, Jared quickly swallows against the nervous thump of his heart. “It’s nothing bad, I swear.” Jared smiles down at his son and brushes his hand through Matthew’s dark mop of crazy hair. “The thing is, your papa, as you probably noticed, has been visiting you a lot more lately.”

His son nods eagerly, agreeing with Jared. “You don’t fight anymore.” Matthew whispers as he shyly ducks his head.

A surprised gasp leaves Jared’s lips. He never fought with Jensen and it leaves him wondering when their son started thinking that way. “Matt, your papa and I have never been fighting, what makes you say that?”

At first, he is greeted with silence and only when Jared nudges Matthew’s shoulder does the boy feel ready to talk again. “You never talked to him before, because you hate him.” There is a snap of discomfort and hurt in his son’s tone, something Jared has never heard before.

Jared feels like he is being slapped, his heart thudding angrily inside his chest when realization hits him, that his constant avoidance of Jensen has left their son with thinking the worst. For the first time Jared thinks that he has failed their son, that he has done a shit job as a parent. “No, that’s not true.” He keeps his voice steady and calm, no matter how badly he wants to scream in protest and defend his actions. “Matt, I don’t hate your papa. I get why you might think that, but I once told you why your papa and I couldn’t be together anymore.”

The memory of that conversation seems to be coming back to Matthew when his mouth tugs downwards again, eyes wet with unshed tears. It broke Jared’s heart all over again when he had to explain his three year old toddler why his papa wasn’t living with them anymore, that their feelings for each other had changed and being together wasn’t working out any longer. Of course, back then, Matthew didn’t understand most of it but even over the years Jared thought of it as wrong to tell their son what really went down that lead to his parents’ break-up. Little did he know that keeping important parts of the truth between him and Jensen would leave their son with nothing but to build his own ideas. “Your paps has been the most important person in my life since I first met him. I never not cared about him but, there was a moment when I thought your papa hurt me. Which was why you and I had to move away.” Jared’s words are caught in his throat, swallowing becomes difficult, especially when he looks at the painful expression waving over Matthew’s face. “He didn’t.” Jared hurries the words out, closely watching how his son’s features soften again. “Your papa never hurt me, but at the time I didn’t know that. Truth is, when I was very young I fell in love with him and I still feel that. Matt, I love your papa. I love him very much and he loves me too.” Telling his son how he feels about Jensen doesn’t necessarily give him the relief he was hoping for, because, no matter how sincere his words came across, Matt still gives him a confused look, as if he doesn’t understand the meaning of what Jared just said.

For a drawn out moment Jared simply watches Matthew’s features, tries to catch every change and twitch, read his thoughts and make sense out of the boy’s ever turning wheels. Though, when his son stays quiet, Jared tries anew. “Do you remember what I told you about why Aldis had to leave us?” It pains Jared to bring the man back into their lives, that he has to remind Matthew of the man he had grown so fond of. However, he has to get his son to understand.

“Yes.” Matthew nods along his answer and slowly turns to face Jared again. “You said your heart wasn’t big enough to love him.”

Those weren’t exactly the words Jared had used, but it’s as close as it can be and Jared can continue from there. “Right. See, when you want to be with someone that you love, when you want to marry someone, then you need to be sure of your feelings. We grown ups can love in many different ways. One of those is, that we care for others, we want them to be happy and well. And that, is exactly how I felt about Aldis.”

“But…” Matthew chimes in, eyes rolling back and forth, obviously trying to sort through his thoughts and find the right words, “is that not love?”

Jared smiles fondly at his son, “it is. Kind of. For instance, you and Calvin. You two are inseparable, you two love each other like brothers and care for one another. But this kind of affection isn’t enough to marry someone, to spend the rest of your life with them.”

Now, Matthew seems to grasp where Jared is going with his explanation, his mouth shaping into an understanding ‘O’. “And what about papa?” The boys asks then, visibly nervous as he fishes for Jared to elaborate and get to the point.

“Well, your papa is more than just my friend. And I love him more than that.” Jared never, in a million years, thought that explaining this subject to his son would be so complicated, so difficult for him to handle. He knows that Matthew is a smart kid, his grades in school are above average and are proof that his brain is big enough to work with big words. Though, explaining the difference of loving someone and being in love with someone seems to be hard on both of them. Now Jared realizes why he wanted Jensen to be a part of this conversation in the first place - in case he is at loss for words and needs Jensen to step in. As it is though, Jared couldn’t deal with the wait and hold up any longer and has to deal with the consequences and get this conversation over with on his own. “It was long before you were even born when your papa asked me to marry him and I knew, right then and there, that he was the right person for me. The right person to spend the rest of my life with, because I love him that much.”

“So, are you saying that your heart wasn’t big enough for Aldis because papa is taking up all the space?” Matthew’s face visibly lights up, the corner of his mouth pulling into a small smile and his freckled cheeks start blooming pink.

“Exactly.” Why Jared didn’t say it just like that is beyond him. “For a very long time I thought that I loved Aldis enough and I hurt him when I realized that this wasn’t the case. Truth is, that I will always love your papa more than any other man.” A familiar warmth spreads through his very core, almost enough to flood his eyes with tears.

“Does papa know?” Biting his lips in worry, Matthew looks close to upset at the risk of receiving a negative answer to his question.

Jared, however, can calm his son down, and, that feels like a burden has been lifted off his shoulders. “He knows. He has known for a while now. Which is, why I needed to talk to you. Papa and I have come to the conclusion that spending too much time apart will only upset us. And neither of us wants that to happen.” Jared bites his lip, to the point where he risks breaking the thin layer of skin. “That is why your papa and I decided it might be a good idea for him to move back here, to Austin.”

Suddenly, Jared finds himself engulfed in Matthew’s arms, the boy clinging around his neck and a sob escaping his son’s lips. “Papa… he’s… is he really moving in with us?” Another sob is muffled into Jared’s ear.

“Well…” He pulls back, only enough to hold eye contact with Matthew and thumb away a few happy tears from the kid’s cheeks. “...at some point, yes, I hope we’ll be living in the same house. Papa and I still need to talk about living arrangements. But I’m sure it’ll all work out. It has to. Because there is more you need to know.”

Matthew looks carefree, his face free of worry. Jared has to realize that he has never seen his son with such a great happiness in his eyes. Now, it is the first time he is absolutely sure that the boy won’t be saddened by the other news Jared is about to share. “I have to admit, I’m not sure how to tell you this. But, uh…” Jared begins to struggle, unsure how to find the perfect words. In the end, he decides on putting it out there flat and straight, without keeping his son in even more suspense. “You’re going to be a big brother.”

At first, Matthew’s brows furrow, eyes darting around in thought, obviously processing what his dad just told him and what ‘becoming a big brother’ means. “I’ll be a… big brother?” The boy’s head tilts up slightly, “does it mean you’re having a baby?” When Jared nods at Matthew to confirm his question, his kid’s whole face lights up, mouth open wide and eyes rising open further. “I’m gonna be a big brother?” Jared, again, nods. More eager than before. “I’m gonna be a big brother!” Matthew scrambles up and off the bed, his focus still on Jared and yet he starts pacing the room. Then, something else must spin his thoughts and the boy comes to a stop in front of Jared, eyes going straight to Jared’s hidden middle. “You have a baby in there… in your belly?” Matthew asks, full of surprised wonderment as he points to Jared’s belly. “A real baby? In your belly? And I’ll be the baby’s big brother?”

Jared has to stifle a snort and keeps his face straight, “yeah, a real baby. Here, look,” he says and slowly lifts his sweater to reveal the tiny bump. Matthew’s hand reaches out, pulls back again but Jared encourages him. “You can touch it, if you want. Your brother or sister is still very tiny. But soon he or she will be getting bigger; and so will my tummy.” In pure fascination he watches how his son uses the tip of his pointer finger to explore the small swell and Jared doesn’t know where to look first; the way his son is so careful and scared to break something or how big of a fond smile he carries. “What do you say? You think you’re ready to be a big brother?” He knows the question is a lot, but he is also sure Matthew can handle it.

To prove him right, Matthew looks up at Jared and nods in earnest. “I always wanted to be big brother! I’ll watch out for my little sister and share my toys with her. I promise.”

“What if it’s a boy and you’ll have a baby brother though?”

Matthew seems to consider Jared for a moment, as if the possibility of the baby being a brother was out of the question. “Then I will protect him too. Really, dad, I will. I’ll be the best big brother. Ever .”

“I don’t doubt it for a second. You’ll do a great job, I’m sure of it.”

 

July 19th, Austin/TX

 

“If you keep shaking me like that, I’ll get dizzy.” Jensen’s voice comes through the speaker of Jared’s phone again.

Jared and Matthew have been sitting in the waiting room of his OBGyn for the past twenty minutes, and Jensen refused to miss a single second of the appointment. So did Matthew. That is why Jared is sitting next to an overly excited Matthew who is chatting with his papa on facetime ever since they entered the practice. Their son wants to make sure Jensen can see everything, which is why he keeps moving the phone back and forth, up and down, left and right. Jared can’t see Jensen’s face, but he is certain that the man is smiling just as much as Matthew is.

It’s an important day. Today they will find out if they’re going to have another son or a daughter. Originally, Jared didn’t want to know, but Matthew has been eager to find out if he will have a brother or a sister. And Jensen, well, Jensen and Jared have a bet going. If it’s a boy, Jared can pick the name and Jensen can do so if they are having a girl. It had been the same when they were expecting their son. Back then, Jensen was sure they would have a daughter. However, when their baby was born and they learned it was, in fact, not a girl, Jensen had said “alright, maybe next time.”

Next time is now, and, even though neither of them really cares about the gender, Jared knows that Jensen always wanted to have a daughter. Sure, in the end, it doesn’t matter and Jensen is happy with either. Even now, Jensen keeps referring to their unborn baby as a she, determined that this time it will be the girl he always hoped for. Maybe Jensen is eager to braid hair, or, he is looking for an excuse to buy a shotgun when their daughter starts dating. Maybe, though, it is because he gets to pick the baby’s name if it’s a girl. That Jensen honestly doesn’t care about the gender is evident in how crazily in love he is with their son and yet, it’s still adorable to watch Jensen speak to Jared’s belly as if a girl is in there. In the end, all they want is a healthy baby. A baby nobody ever thought would happen in the first place.

“Mr. Ackles?” Hannah, the doctor’s assistant, steps into the waiting room and calls for Jared.

Oh, uh.. That’s us! ” Jensen’s hyper voice excitedly cheers through the phone and Jared shakes his head in amusement.

“We’re coming.” Jared addresses the assistant and gets up, waiting for Matthew to do the same. “Take your papa and let’s go.” Jared nudges Matthew and cocks his head towards the phone in Matthew’s hand.

Let’s go meet your sister. ” Jensen whistles, but Jared cups Matthew’s hand so his face appears on the small screen next to Jensen’s bigger image. “Or brother. You ready to find out?”

Jensen’s broad smile widens, “absolutely.”

“Alright, Matt. You make sure you don’t drop your papa. And, remember the rules?” Jared’s hand rests on his son’s shoulder, waiting for Matthew to look up at him.

“Yep. Behave and no interrupting Dr. Witts.”

Usually Jared doesn’t have to remind Matthew to behave, but the boy has been bouncy ever since Jared picked him up from school. Therefore, a little reminder to calm down won’t hurt anyone.

True to his word, Matthew stays quiet for most of the time. Only occasionally, when Dr. Witts explains Jared about his recent blood samples’ results, does Matthew speak up. But, only to ask his papa if he can hear everything.

The OBGyn was a little perplexed, at first, as to what Matthew is doing with the phone, but Jared explained that Jensen couldn’t be here due to his work schedule. Dr. Witts expressed that he had never had an appointment that involved spectators outside the room, but he welcomes the gesture wholeheartedly.

After Dr. Witts tells him that his blood shows no signs of disturbance, they can get started on the fun part. It’s about the time that Jared finds himself with his shirt pulled up on the examination table of the doctor’s office. It is also the first time he is really nervous and partially upset. He wanted Jensen to be here when their baby’s gender would be revealed, but he has to make due with the video chat. He managed the last appointment without Jensen, he will be good this time as well. Matthew is quiet as a mouse and takes the offered seat next to the table, a perfect position to capture every moment for his papa.

“Ready?” Dr. Witts asks, ultrasound gel in one hand and transducer in the other one.

“Sure am.” Jared nods and takes a labored breath when the gel is spread over the small span of his bump.

Dr. Witts moves the wand carefully over Jared’s lower abdomen and finds what he is looking for on the second try. “Look who’s sleepy.” The doctor says with a fond smile. He keeps the transducer in its place and waits for Jared to fixate the screen.

“Doesn’t feel like it.” Jared says then, because he can feel a long flutter inside his belly, and taking a closer look at the screen, he can also see that the baby’s feet are kicking. He has been feeling those movements for a couple of weeks now, but they are still too soft to be considered actual kicks. Even though those can be painful, he already can’t wait for them to happen. “Is it sucking its thumb?”

“Yes. Munching on it like a pro.” Dr. Witts chuckles. “I’ll get you a picture of it.” The doctor does freeze the screen to get said scans and also takes measurements.

“Is that the baby?” Matthew chimes in, drawing Jared’s attention away from the screen and towards his cheerful son. “Why isn’t it in color?”

Through the phone in Matthew’s hand comes a cough, Jared can hear Jensen; he can practically guess what is going through the man’s head. And while Jared’s brain tries to find words to explain Matthew the works of an ultrasound machine, and that those pictures are always only black and white, and not colored , Jensen’s voice pipes up. “It’s not supposed to.”

Neither Dr. Witts, nor Matthew, have any idea of why Jensen’s words come over harsh and kind of relieved. Jared knows, after all the turmoil the debate caused, exactly why Jensen might be concerned if their baby turned out to be a different color than the two of them. However, Jared defuses the situation with a light chuckle. “Matt, it’s just like your computer at home, but without the colors. These ultrasound machines aren’t able to pick up colors, which is, why the screen is black and white. I promise, when your brother or sister is born, he or she wont' be black and white like you see on screen.”

“About that.” Dr. Witts interrupts, which Jared is grateful for. “Would you like to know the gender?”

Jared averts his eyes back to the screen and he is sure that he already knows by what he can see. He knows, however, that Jensen and their son want to know and they want to know for sure. So Jared nods, “yeah. These two can’t wait to find out.” Jared motions to Matthew and the phone in the boy’s hand.

With a few more skilled moves of the transducer, Dr. Witts finds the perfect position to zoom in on the screen and freezes it, “looks like the young man is going to have a little brother.”

“A boy?” Jensen asks through the phone, his tone a clear mixture of excitement and pride.

“Definitely a boy.” Dr. Witts confirms and Jared bites his bottom lip, a huge smile breaking out over his face.

“I’m having a little brother!” Matthew jumps from his chair and steps closer to Dr. Witts, taking in the picture on the screen; trying to make sense of it. “When can I play with him?” His eyes draw away from the screen and back to Jared, desperate look of impatience shining through.

“Well, we still have to wait a little while longer before he is born.” Jared explains to his son and before realizing that Jensen has gone quiet and he addresses the other man, “Jen? You still there?”

There is still a moment of silence, then, eventually a small “uh-huh” rattles through the phone. There is no doubt that Jensen is tearing up, his voice giving him and his emotions away. It is exactly how Jared knew Jensen would react. To either a boy or a girl. And, the happiness radiating from all of them is more than Jared could have ever hoped for. He is absolutely certain that from here on out nothing can stop them from being a real family again, from being together and have what he and Jensen always dreamed of. Turns out, spontaneously flying to New York was the greatest idea he ever had.

Jared feels like celebrating and there is nothing he would rather do in this moment than wrap himself around Jensen and kiss the man for what he is worth. As it is though, Jensen won’t be in Austin for another two days. A few more phone calls will have to do until then. He makes a mental note to make up for lost time when they are finally reunited. After all, they have a lot of celebrating to catch up on. This baby deserves to have each and every moment celebrated, just like they did with Matthew, and Jared knows they will make good on that.