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Nowhere I'd Rather Be

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Home Sweet Home
Open Road – Timestamp

They bought a duplex just outside of Westville, New Haven.

The house had seen better days; twenty or so cycles of the season without any kind of maintenance had reduced it to the kind of place that realtors hated to list.

But for them, it was perfect.

Jensen thought it looked like a cut-out from an Architects Today magazine with those chipped window frames and the winding banister that was covered in wild leaves and vines.

It was beautiful in that old-world kind of way that Jensen had always been drawn to and he had loved it from the second he had stepped onto the creaking hardwood floor and bathed in the soft sunlight that filtered in through the French windows.

The backyard wasn’t all too big, but what it lacked in size, the house more than made up for.

They had a kitchen, a bedroom, a spacious living room and two extra rooms -one of which they’d use as a nursery.

Much to Jared’s pleasure the property included a garage with enough space for a workbench, a truing stand and whatever else he needed to tinker around with his Harley.

They had settled into their new lives well enough in theory.

In reality, they were both naked, their shirts and boxers were strewn across the hardwood floor and Jared’s tongue was pretty far down Jensen’s throat.

In reality, the only stick of furniture they owned was a mattress and they fucking lived on that thing.

They camped out on the floor, eating take-out and having picnics in the middle of the otherwise empty living room.

They ate when they felt like it, stayed up all night just to talk about the most random of things.

They vowed to never fall into a routine, to never go to sleep or wake up at the same time.

They made slow, gentle love at night, their features illuminated by the flickering light of half a dozen candles haphazardly set up on the floor around them.

It was ridiculously cheesy, but Jensen was in love and he was pregnant and despite the chaos and the new adjustments and the stressfulness of the past few months, he was pretty fucking happy.

Even when things were far from perfect.

“Fuck,” Jensen cursed under his breath and shivered when the duvet slipped from Jared’s shoulders, exposing his sweaty body to the crisp air.  

They used a beat-up space heater for extra warmth, but that thing had been broken long before Jared’s new boss had handed it to them.

“What?” Jared pulled away, still trying to catch his breath. “You okay?”

“It’s cold,” Jensen whined, rubbing his hands up and down his arms. “Radiator conked out again.”

“Damn piece of shit,” Jared made a move to get off the mattress but Jensen grabbed his arm to hold him back. “Jay, wait. We need to save money for that crib, remember?”

“I’m not gonna sit by and watch you freeze,” Jared said firmly, eyes glancing down to Jensen’s belly.

They had used up all of Jeff’s savings to buy the house and a car, but furniture and baby stuff was expensive and Jared’s new job at the auto shop barely covered their expenses as it was.

Jensen blinked up at Jared from behind thick lashes. “Body heat is pretty effective, I heard.”

“That so?” Jared cocked an eyebrow at him, lips quirking up ever so slightly.

“Yeah,” Jensen propped himself up on his elbow, watching the slow flicker of flames reflected in Jared’s gorgeous hazel eyes. “Did you know that our bodies produce enough heat in only thirty minutes to boil half a gallon of water?”

Jared snorted, already losing some of his earlier tension.

“We are the epitome of thermodynamics,” Jensen continued in a soft whisper, brushing his nose against Jared’s cheek, hands wandering over ripped muscle. “We can produce heat from all kinds of activities. Exercise, metabolizing food, maintaining homeostasis, sweating—“

Fucking ,” Jared suggested and Jensen laughed.

“I was building up to that.”

Jared chuckled and blanked Jensen’s body with his larger frame, sealing their mouths in a soft kiss.

Jensen grinned, struggling to tug the covers back up around them in order to trap some heat.

Jared caught up to what he was trying to do and moved the duvet all the way up around his shoulders before yanking Jensen further down into the warm cocoon of the comforter.

Jensen huffed out a soft laugh when Jared started kissing him beneath the blanket, long fingers reaching up to tangle in his luscious hair.

He sighed and closed his eyes, remembering the days, weeks, months he’d spent thinking he would never be able to feel happiness again, that he would never get to see Jared again.

And now he was lying here, four months pregnant with Jared’s child and in their new home.

“Hey,” Jared backed up a little and brushed a few loose strands from Jensen’s forehead.

Cupping his face in his hands and lowering his lips to Jensen’s.

It was chilly that night, the cold winter breeze seeping in from outside, but the kiss sent a wave of warmth through Jensen’s entire body- tingling from head to toe as Jared’s lips brushed his own.

It was all so much slower these days, so much more intense, because they didn’t have to be afraid of getting too invested anymore, of getting one another in danger.

Jensen swallowed thickly. “Hey.”

Jared rubbed his thumb over Jensen’s cheekbone. “I love you.”

And god, but Jensen was never going to get tired of hearing that.  

 

 

The first prenatal appointment in New Haven was both scary and uncomfortable.

There were too many thoughts swirling in his mind, too many things he was worried about.

By the time the doctor moved in with the gray plastic wand that was used for the examination, Jensen had convinced himself that something was wrong with the baby.

Jared seemed to notice his discomfort and squeezed his fingers with his own, lending reassurance.

“It won’t hurt him, right?” Jared asked softly.

Jensen would have probably laughed at his boyfriend if he wasn’t so touched by the sheer protectiveness in Jared’s tone.

“Not in the slightest,” the doctor softly reassured; her eyes warm and understanding as she set up the rest of the equipment.  “It will be over before you both know it.”

“Would you be able to see if anything was wrong with it?” Jensen hurriedly asked as soon as the doctor pressed the wand down on his stomach and started moving it around.

They had been to a doctor before, shortly after they found out about the pregnancy, but back then it had been too early to tell.

“I drank alcohol in the first weeks of the pregnancy. Not excessively, but still. And I smoked and participated in full-impact sports like boxing and lacrosse and—“

“If there’s cause for concern, I’ll inform you,” the doctor cut Jensen’s nervous ramble off with a soft smile. “As of right now, I can tell you that your blood tests came back looking good and that your baby’s heartbeat seems normal.”

Jared nodded in relief, “We’ve done everything by the book ever since we found out.”

Jensen damn near rolled his eyes at that because it just wasn’t fair that Jared was allowed to slurp his coffee and eat all that greasy take-out they got, while Jensen was force-fed kale smoothies.

“I see,” the doctor’s smile grew at Jared’s enthusiasm. “Would you like to take a look at your baby now?”

They both nodded and a blurred image filled the screen on the doctor’s computer.

Jensen sucked in a small breath and squeezed Jared’s hand tight enough to cut off blood supply.

“There’s probably not a whole lot to make out at this point, but see this little blob right here?” she pointed at a little dot of white with her gloved finger. “That’s the fetus. The overall development appears to be good for sixteen weeks, but I’d recommend an amniocentesis to evaluate the chromosomes, just to be on the safe side, given your medical history.”

Jensen’s brow creased with worry but he remained silent at the obstetrician’s comment.

They had briefly discussed the possible testing methods with their doctor back in Boston, but Jensen hadn’t been able to decide whether he wanted to do them or not.

In the case of amniocentesis testing, there was a .06-.86% chance of a procedure-related miscarriage and the mere thought was enough to turn Jensen’s stomach.

At Jensen’s age, this kind of test wasn't commonly used to detect any abnormalities, but it only made sense given his recent gunshot wound and the residual scarring.

“I assume your previous doctor has already informed you about the gender?”

Startled, Jensen sent a hesitant glance in Jared’s direction. “Actually we wanted to wait but—“

“Screw waiting,” Jared interfered. “We wanna know.”

The doctor took Jared’s lack of composure in stride and ducked her head to hide her laugh. “Are you sure?” she threw a pointed look at Jensen who opened his mouth, only to close it again.

He felt Jared’s fingers tighten around his own and swallowed. “Okay, yes.”

“Well, alright, then. It’s a boy. You’re having a boy.”

 

 

“What about Brock?”

Jensen shoveled a few more fries into his mouth, the phone precariously balanced between his ear and right shoulder. “Brock Padalecki? Do you want our kid to make it through high school or not?”

“Brock’s a real classic, but alright, grumpy. How about Elias?”

“Too biblical.”

“Jonathan.”

“Same.”

“Uhm…Samuel? Sammy for short.”

Jensen frowned at the speaker. “Seriously, Danny. Stop trying to turn our baby into Jesus Christ, Superstar. What’s with you and catholic names?”

There was an audible rustle on the other line and then the speaker croaked to new life.

“I opt for James, Lars or Kirk.”

At the sound of Chris atrocious suggestions, Jensen smiled so hard he thought his face would crack.

“Hey, Chris. Still a freak I see. And no, we’re not going to name our son after the band members of Metallica.”

“What about Alice for his first name and Cooper for his middle name? That way, you could give your kid the most badass name in history.”

Jensen’s heart ached at his friends’ banter and before he knew it his hands were shaking and his vision blurring.

He took a steadying breath, mentally cursing the damn hormones and forced his voice to remain unaffected from the sudden burst of homesickness.

“Listen, guys, Jared’s coming home, I’ll call you back, alright?”

“Yeah, sure. Tell that bastard to pick up his damn phone every once in awhile.”

“Will do. And Chris?”

“Yeah?”

Jensen licked his lips. “Tell everyone I said hi, okay?”

 

 

On his first day in class, he sat next to a bright-eyed, brunette with a kind smile.

She who was one of the few people who didn’t give him judging or disapproving looks when noticing the swell of his belly that he could no longer hide from the public at this point.

“Hi,” she gave him a bright grin and stretched out her hand. “I’m Sophia.”

“Nice to meet you,” he shook her hand with a shy smile. “Jensen.”

She frowned, probably never having heard the name before.

“You’re not from around here, are you?”

“What gave me away?” Jensen laughed, enjoying the for-once, unbiased conversation.

These days, most people were more interested in his pregnancy than in Jensen himself, asking him about his due date and a whole lot of other shit that didn’t really concern them.

But Sophia was different.

“You’ve got an accent for one thing. Besides, you don’t get those kind of exotic names around here,” she pulled a bunch of brushes and acrylic paint from her bag. “I could show you the campus after class. I mean if you aren’t too tired or anything.”

“Sure,” Jensen smiled. “I’d love that.”

 

 

“You sure you don’t want me to give you a hand?” Jensen asked, grinning around a spoonful of vanilla ice cream as he watched Jared trying to put their new dining table together.

“Stop being a dick,” Jared returned grouchily and Jensen’s grin grew a bit wider as his eyes roamed Jared’s body from head to toe, watching a bead of sweat roll down his arched spine and coming to rest in the dip of his lower back.

As much as he hated being treated like some delicate flower, Jensen also couldn’t deny how much he enjoyed watching Jared in his stonewashed overalls, showing off the muscles and tattoos beneath, enticing him to touch the sweat-slick skin.

He licked a drop of ice cream from his lips in anticipation, before raising his eyes to meet Jared’s.

“You know, for a guy who reassembles bikes for a living, I’d have expected a bit more technical deftness,” he teased, knowing full and well that his words were starting to get under his boyfriend’s skin. “I mean, here I was thinking you were good with your hands—”

Jensen’s sentence was cut short when a piece of bubble wrap hit him straight on the forehead.

He was shocked into silence for a second. “Did you just hit me with bubble wrap? Your pregnant boyfriend?” he mocked in fake-outrage. “That’s abuse, you know? I’m gravely wounded.”

“You were asking for it,” Jared replied as he attempted to tighten a stubborn bolt that refused to tighten. “Now would you please shut up and let me do this?”

He turned his arm and swore aloud when the skin of his hand got pinched between the wrench and the table where he was working.

“Wow, you really suck at this,” Jensen put his bucket of ice cream down before he gingerly slipped off the kitchen counter. “Here, let me show you how real men put together furniture.“

“Alright, that’s it,” Jared growled and one minute later, they were rolling around on the floor with sawdust in their hair and bubble wrap twisted around them, laughing so hard it fucking hurt.

 

 

“Wow,” Sophia said when she stepped through the doorway.

Her eyes were widening as she took in the flowing space of their living room, coupled with the French windows, the wooden elements, and leather furniture.

“Do you like it?” Jensen asked somewhat nervously.

Sophia’s gaze flickered from the living room to Jared. “Honestly? I’m not sure if I should be more impressed with your house or your boyfriend.”

Jared took his cue from that, stepping forward to shake Sophia’s hand with a cordial smile on his lips.

“You must be Sophia. Jensen’s told me a lot about you.”

“Only good stuff, I hope,” she winked at him and Jensen relaxed a bit as a conversation unfolded naturally between the three of them.

Jared offered Sophia a beer and Jensen snapped a few shots of the casserole he had made, before sending them to the gang.

It didn’t look anything like the picture in the recipe book, but their kitchen hadn’t burned down and given Jensen’s absolute lack of skill or talent in the cooking department, he considered that a win.

‘Did you make that? It almost looks edible.’ (Message from: TOM. Received at: 21:18 PM)

‘Who’s the chick? You guys into threesomes now?’ (Message from: STEVE. Received at: 21:19 PM)

‘If you are, can I join in on the fun? :D’ (Message from: KATIE. Received at: 21:19 PM)

‘Oh and I’m digging the new dining table. Hope you guys had fun breaking it in!’ (Message from: KATIE. Received at: 21:20 PM)

Jensen snorted and muted his phone, not having expected the onslaught of messages.

“What’s so funny?” Jared asked as he slipped an arm around Jensen from behind, pressing a soft kiss to the side of Jensen’s neck.

“Nothing,” Jensen closed his eyes and relaxed against Jared’s broad chest. “Where’s Sophia?”

“Bathroom,” Jared explained softly, nosing at the delicate skin behind Jensen’s ear and rubbing soothing circles into Jensen’s stomach. “She’s nice.”

“I told you,” Jensen smiled and stepped away before pulling on oven mitts and carrying the casserole over to their table.

“Hey guys, I don’t think the hot water’s worki—“ Whatever else Sophia was about to say was drowned out by the deafening sound of the dining table crashing to the floor in a pile of wood.

Before Jensen could even fully process what was happening, Jared’s arms wrapped around his middle, safely pulling him aside.

“You okay?” he asked, slightly out of breath and all Jensen could do was stare at the mess that used to be their table and was now little more than a pile of broken wood and porcelain.

With trembling hands, Jensen grabbed the phone from the back of his jeans and snapped another picture before hitting the send button.  

‘We broke it in alright,´he texted back and blinked at the mess on the ground for a moment longer before soft laughter started bubbling up from his throat, the irony of the situation sinking in on him.

His shoulders shook with the force of his hitched breaths and Jensen was glad that the laughter was covering up the sting of tears in his eyes as panic settled deep in his guts.

They couldn’t even put a goddamn IKEA table together.

What the fuck had ever made them think they could raise a child?

 

 

They decided to paint the nursery on a Saturday.

“What’s your favorite color?”

Jared turned his body towards Jensen.

His eyes bore into his boyfriend’s. “Why are you asking?”

Caught off guard by the intensity of Jared’s stare Jensen became more engrossed in the task at hand, painting the wall in front of him with steady, even strokes.

“There’s so much stuff I still don’t know about you.”

Jared frowned and looked into Jensen’s eyes, searching for some sign of the younger man’s usual sarcasm, waiting for a snappy comment or joke to follow his earlier statement.

But when nothing else followed, Jared knew Jensen was serious about this.

“Green,” he answered after a pause, studying the rich twirl of honey in Jensen’s bottle-colored eyes. Jensen’s eyes were the kind of green that made you smell pine needles and ocean salt.

It was Jared’s favorite thing in the world to watch them dance with laughter and glaze over with pleasure- to watch them light up like emeralds when he got lost in his art.

“Okay,” Jensen said as if to catalog the information in his brain. “What’s your guilty pleasure song?”

“My guilty pleasure song?” Jared repeated and cocked an eyebrow at Jensen.

“Yeah, you know, like a song that you really like but you’d never openly admit it.”

Jared snorted softly and scratched the back of his neck.

“I’m not sure you’re ready for that,” he said. “You might drop my sorry ass and decide to raise our kid with someone who has better taste.”

Jensen laughed and playfully shoved Jared’s shoulder. “Oh c’mon… it can’t be that bad.”

“Just remember that you were asking for it,” Jared sighed and dropped the paint roller to the newspaper covered ground before he started bouncing his legs to the sound of a beat only he heard.

He lifted his shoulders in tune with his body movement, rocking up and down, back and forth, the grin slowly widening on his lips as he started singing.

“I heard you good with them soft lips. Yeah, you know word of mouth.”

Tapping a finger against Jensen’s bottom lip, Jared winked at the younger man and slipped his arms around his waist, drawing him close.

“The square root of sixty-nine is eight something, right? 'Cause I've been tryna work it out, ow.”

“Rihanna?” Jensen’s tossed his head back in laughter, the rich sound of it echoing through the unfurnished room. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Undeterred by Jensen’s teasing, Jared leaned in to whisper the rest of the lyrics against Jensen’s ear.

“Good weed, white wine, uh. I come alive in the night time. Okay, away we go. Only thing we have on is the radio-oh.”

He fished his phone from his jeans and hit the play button, never once breaking his rhythm.

“Let it play, say you gotta leave. But I know you wanna stay- you’re waiting on the traffic jam to finish boy, the things we could do in twenty minutes, boy…”

Jared pressed Jensen up against him firmly as they moved in sync to the pulsating beat.

“Say my name, say my name. Wear it out, it’s getting hot, crack a window, air it out. I can get you through a mighty long day. Soon as I go the text you goin' right is goin' say—“

Jared’s voice stopped and Jensen didn’t miss his cue, chiming in full force.

“Ooh na na, what's my name. Ooh na na, what's my name. Ooh na na, what's my name. What's my name, what's my name.”

The song played on, even when their voices tapered off and their laughter turned into ragged pants of air, chest heaving from the impromptu dance session.

Still breathless and with their hands entangled, Jared pulled Jensen close for a kiss.

He was so lost in the moment that he didn’t feel the slight shift of movements until something cold and wet hit him in the face.

“What the—“ Startled, he pulled back, one hand instinctively reaching up to touch the giant wet streak of paint that Jensen had smeared all over his cheekbone and nose.

Jensen smirked mischievously up at him when Jared wiped the paint off with the back of his hand.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” he said and smiled before grabbing a handful of paint straight out of the bucket and smudging it all over Jensen’s face and neck.

Jensen sputtered and gave Jared a shocked expression, going near cross-eyed as he tried to assess the damage done to his face.

Using the moment of distraction to his advantage, Jared grabbed the abandoned roller from the floor, dripping more color all over both their feet as he wielded it like a weapon.

“Don’t you dare!” Jensen laughed, holding up a palm as if to try and stop him. “Jay, don’t .”

“You started this,” Jared stepped closer, holding the paint roller dangerously close to Jensen’s chest, purposefully avoiding his stomach.

“Jay… I swear to god if you—“

Jared stepped closer.

“Jay, stop it!”

Closer.

“No!” Jensen laughed harder as he was backed against the wall. “Don’t even fucking think—“

Jared stepped close enough until Jensen could feel his breath on his lips, the roller no longer between them, but moved to the side.

His free hand moved up to Jensen’s cheek and they shared a look before Jared’s lips landed on his own.

The paint roller hit the floor with a clatter as they kissed.

 

 

Jared was working the late shift. Again.

Jensen had offered to take on a part-time job as a barista or something, but Jared had made it very clear that he’d rather slave his days away in a coal mine than to let his pregnant boyfriend work.

His new boss thought Jared was a deadbeat or something, a kid from the streets with shit for brains.

“Now this type of exhaust pipe smoke means that—“

“I know what it fucking means,” Jared interrupted in a low growl, hackles rising at the guy’s audacity.

He had known his way around cars since he was fucking twelve years old. And he sure as fuck didn’t need some beer-belly douchebag to treat him like a good-for-nothing rookie.

“Oh yeah?” his boss asked with a disapproving frown, apparently not used to getting any sort of backtalk. “What does it mean then, if you’re so goddamn smart. Go ahead, tell me.”

Jared took a deep breath, reminding himself why he put up with the guy’s shit.

“It means bad fucking news,” Jared bumped his knuckles against the hood of the car. “The engine’s burning coolant or transmission fluid caused by a leaky head gasket or a crack in the cylinder head.”

His boss’ expression turned from mildly impressed to indignant in a matter of seconds. “Get the fuck back to work. I’m not paying you to lecture me, boy.”

Jared bristled and spat a glob of saliva to the ground, fingers itching to hit something.

When he got back home later that night, muscles sore and covered in dirt, only to find Jensen with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips, shit really hit the fan.

“Jay, I can explain,” Jensen cursed under his breath, pulling the unlit cigarette from his mouth and carelessly dropping it to the ground. “I wasn’t actually going to smoke it, alright? I was just—“

“Save it,” Jared snarled and slammed the door closed with enough force to make Jensen flinch.

Sometimes there were days where they both seemed so on top of their game and then there were days like this, where the gravity of the situation came tumbling down on them and absolutely nothing seemed to work out as planned.

It was then, that Jared wanted nothing more but to grab his shit and drive until his mind felt detached from his body until all his thoughts and worries dissolved into nothingness.

“Hey—” Jensen tried to grab his arm, but Jared roughly shoved past him. “Jared, wait. I didn’t—”

“You can do whatever you fucking want to your own body,” Jared was fuming when he whirled around, face flushed red with hours of pent-up anger. “You will never ever hear me tell you what you can or can’t do with your own goddamn life. But don’t go and fuck up our kid’s lungs before it’s even born! You’ve got an MD, Jensen, what the fuck’s wrong with you?”

The words like a brick between them and the sting that saturated them made Jensen recoil like they burnt his very soul.

He looked pale and a sickened by Jared’s unexpected outburst, eyes wide and glistening with guilt.

They were standing opposite from each other; breathing heavily in the wake of their anger.

Jared knew he should offer up an olive branch instead of pouring gasoline on the fire, but things weren’t always that easy with Jensen.

Sometimes they needed this, needed to get all up in each other’s face before they could think straight again.

And given their entire fucked-up situation, Jared thought they’d had this coming a long time ago.

It was a goddamn wonder they’d held out so long without being at each other’s throats.

“All I ever talk about anymore, with anyone —” Jensen started, voicing cracking. “—is that baby. It’s like I don’t even have a life of my own anymore- like I don't have a body of my own. I can’t smoke, I can’t drink. I can’t go to the fucking gym or work or walk three steps without people giving me weird looks. So fuck you for standing there and judging me when you got no fucking clue what I’m going through!”

“You think this is easy for me?” Jared shot back, just as angry, just as frustrated. “I’ve been working my goddamn ass off for some ungrateful, macho douchebag who knows jack shit about the business and I’ve been doing it for you! I spend every goddamn minute of every day missing Jeff- missing my friends- missing Boston and yet, I’m here with you!”

“Yeah you are,” Jensen replied, huffing out a sad little laugh. “I’m sorry it makes you so damn miserable.”

The pain that had lurked just beneath the surface of Jensen’s words and expression now reared its ugly head and Jared’s anger drained out of him so fast it left him dizzy.

Clenching his teeth, he took a step forward. “You don’t make me... How can you even fucking think that?”

Jensen pressed his lips together hard to hide that they were shaking.

He looked so lost- so vulnerable in his oversized hoodie and with those wide, shimmering eyes.

“I wasn’t going to smoke it. I’ve had a crap day, alright? Sometimes it calms me down to just... pretend.”

"Why didn't you say anything?" Jared demanded and Jensen snorted out a bitter laugh at the question. 

"Jared, for the past week, I've barely even seen you! You're working all the time and when I'm not in class, I'm stuck in here all by myself. Who the fuck was I gonna talk about this with?"

Jared licked his bottom lip and took a deep breath, before stepping forward and wrapping an arm around Jensen’s neck to gently tug him in against his chest.

He could feel Jensen’s breath hitch against his throat and he closed his eyes, burying his nose in the younger man’s soft spikes and inhaling the sweet, flowery scent of his shampoo.

“I know it's tough. But we’ll figure this out.”

 

 

“You’re new around here, aren’t you?” the woman asked, toying with her purse.

Jared had fixed her Mustang in less than five hours, although it had been in a terrible condition when she brought it in.

It was painful to see such a gorgeous vintage car in the hands of someone who didn’t know how to appreciate it, but Jared knew better than to get involved in his customer’s personal business.

She looked like she had money, which was why Jared flashed her his best grin and laid on the Texan charm. If he played his cards right, he’d be able to get a nice tip out of her.

“You got a real special car there if you don’t mind me saying so.”

The woman blushed at the compliment, her smile widening even further. “My husband used to collect them. I sold most of them after his death, but this one I kept for myself.”

“You must have good taste, then,” Jared charmed, knowing full and well the effects he could have on an elderly lady like her. “But you should stop downshifting into first gear while the car is rolling. It’s spitting all the teeth of the gear shaft and it can do some serious damage to your motor if—“

“Jared,” a voice interrupted them and Jared looked up to find his boss standing in the doorway. “I got a guy named ‘Jensen’ waiting for you outside.”

The moment Jared heard Jensen’s name he panicked, a thousand scenarios flashing through his mind.

Forgetting all about his customer, he stormed out of the garage to find Jensen nervously pacing the parking lot. He didn’t look hurt and Jared sighed a breath of relief.

“Hey, what are you doing here? What happened?”

Wordlessly, Jensen pulled Jared’s hand to his burgeoning stomach.

Jared went still, confusion flickering in his gaze until he felt it; just a weak flutter of movement beneath his fingertips. Barely more than a light thump against his palm.

Jared flinched and his heart started racing in his chest, a wide grin slowly forming on his lips.

Their stormy eyes met over the smooth expanse of Jensen’s belly and there were a million things Jared wanted to say, but he was too choked up and too touched to do much more than smile.

 

 

All things considered, pregnancy could have been a whole lot worse.

Besides the less pleasurable side effects like the back aches and heartburn, there were a few upsides to the pregnancy that Jensen learned to value over time.

Like the fact that he was horny pretty much 24/7.

“Jesus, Jen, you couldn’t even wait till we got home, could you?” Jared growled, pushing him up against the wall of the IHOP's bathroom stall and kissing his way up to Jensen’s neck.

Jensen lifted a fist to his mouth to muffle his moans, the knowledge that anyone could walk in on them at any moment sending sparks of electricity up his spine.

As if on cue, a person came in; feet coming to stop in front of what Jensen assumed was a urinal.

“Turn around,” Jared hissed against his neck, lips brushing against the shell of his ear.

Jensen scrambled to comply, hands clawing at the graffiti-sprayed wall, trying to find some kind of purchase in the narrow space, which proved to be harder than expected with his belly in the way.

Jared shoved down his jeans and made quick process of his boxers while the guy shut off the tap.

“You got about thirty seconds to make some noise when that hand dryer comes on, understood?” Jared whispered hotly into his ear. 

Jensen nodded and opened his mouth for Jared’s fingers, smearing saliva all over the digits.

Sure enough, the hand dryer came on and Jensen whimpered when Jared yanked the fingers from his lips and pushed them into him from behind, breaching the tight ring of muscle.

The prep was hasty at best, not nearly thorough enough to take away the sting the intrusion would bring, but Jensen didn’t mind. He liked it rough, sometimes, liked to feel Jared for days afterward.

“I’m good,” he panted after a few last, hasty thrusts of Jared’s fingers. “C’mon, Jay. Hurry the fuck up.”

Jared didn’t have to be told twice. He spread Jensen open with his hands and pressed in, fully sheathing himself with a low, guttural groan.

“Oh god,” Jensen moaned, breath picking up as his fingers curled and uncurled against the wall.

Jared didn’t give him much time to adjust before he started rocking forward in slow, shallow thrusts of his hips.

"Shit," Jensen gasped out. "Harder, Jared. Come on.“

“Shut up,” Jared hissed when the dryer stopped and then paused for a second, waiting for the door to bang shut behind their unwanted visitor before continuing where they had left off.

Jensen moaned wantonly when Jared pulled out almost all the way only to snap his hips forward in a way that had him writhing against the wall, cock trapped between the cool tiles and his bulging stomach.

Jared held on to Jensen’s belly, fingers fanned out against the burgeoning skin as he fucked into him from behind, slamming into him with faster thrusts.

“Fuck, yeah, just like that—“ Jensen keened, tossing his head back onto Jared’s shoulder, letting it loll against the scalding hot skin, slivers of electricity shooting through his nerve endings. Jensen’s usual embarrassed, more reserved side was drowned out by need. “Jesus, Jay… f-feels so good.”

„Yeah you fucking love this, don't you? So big and needy and swollen with my kid, showing everyone that you’re mine.”

The last part was barely more than a growl, teeth scraping against the nape of Jensen’s neck as possessiveness flared hot in Jared’s gut like a red static clouding his senses.

“Ngh… y-yeah. Yours,” Jensen agreed readily, voice shaking with desperation and Jared fucking thrived in it. “All yours… so fucking full… so big with y-your—god, fucking— Jay!”

Jared peppered kisses to his shoulder while he fucked harder into him, one hand still splayed on his belly while Jensen continued to produce a string of nonsensical shit, his mouth expelling every senseless thought that grazed his mind.

Jared started jerking him in time with his thrusts and the stimulation was too much as Jensen came with a shout, head falling forward and body shaking all over as shot after shot pulsed out of him and spilled all over the bathroom stall tiles.

Jared’s pace stuttered and with a muffled grunt he came, slumping forward against Jensen's back.

“Holy shit,” Jensen groaned, panting against the graffiti covered wall. Jared was still buried deep inside of him and Jensen kind of wished he would stay there forever. “That was amazing.”

“Yeah,” Jared agreed as he withdrew with a wince. “And we’re going to do it again.”

“Again?” Jensen asked, still out of breath from riding his high.

Jared flipped him around and pulled Jensen’s jeans back up, shaking sweaty bangs from his eyes.

“Let’s grab dinner on our way home. Food first, then sex.”

Jensen looked up at Jared with a lazy grin, cheeks flushed and lips bitten raw. “Marry me?”

 

 

“Hey there, champ.”

The words were a feather light whisper in the night, pulling Jensen back from sleep and slowly bringing him to consciousness.

His eyelashes fluttered open and he became aware of his surroundings, recognizing the dark blue linen and mahogany bed frame as their bedroom.

He could feel rather than see Jared on the mattress beside him and he could tell, from the unusually soft nature of his tone, that Jared wasn’t talking to him .

“I don’t know if you’re listening, but… it’s your dad.”

The gentle words were accompanied by a brush of fingertips against the swell of Jensen’s stomach and Jensen forced himself to lie perfectly still under the loving caress.

Since that first time Jared had felt their little boy’s movement, he’d started talking to Jensen’s baby bump at night, usually whenever he thought Jensen was asleep or too out of it to notice.

“Can you keep a secret?” Jared traced a fingertip around Jensen’s navel. “I’m nervous. For the first time in a long time, it feels like I’ve got no fucking clue what I’m doing.”

Jared’s voice wavered and Jensen’s chest ached at the heartfelt confession.

“I didn’t exactly have the best childhood,” Jared continued. “But you will.”

Jensen swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat.

“You’ll have birthday parties and school plays and we’ll embarrass the hell out of you by sitting in the first row and taking a ton of pictures,” Jared let out a shaky laugh, wiping a hand over his mouth. “I’ll show you how to drive and how to fix up a bike and how to pick up girls.”

Jared swallowed and grew serious again.

“And Jensen… he's so much better with kids than I am and he's... he's so smart. He’ll show you how to split atoms or cure cancer. With any luck, you’ll win a Nobel prize before you turn twenty.”

Jensen felt his lips tug up at the corners.

Their son was about pear-sized right now, and Jared was already planning his future.

“I probably won’t be the best role model or anything. But I want you to know that I’ll always be there for you. That I’d die for you in a heartbeat. That I’d do anything- give anything- to protect you.”

No longer able to keep up the pretense game, Jensen shifted minutely under Jared’s touch and peeked up at Jared with one eye.

Jared shifted his jaw, eyes flickering to the side in an unnaturally bashful gesture.

“You heard all of that?”

“I did,” Jensen whispered before gently cupping Jared’s chin with his hand.

Their eyes locked in silence for a minute or two before Jensen pushed himself up on his elbow and pulled Jared in for a kiss that was pure comfort, packed with five months’ worth of fear and worry and cluelessness.

They broke apart with their foreheads still touching and their mouths brushing, hot air passing from one to the other in silent intimacy. “Just for the record? I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about.”

 

 

Jensen didn’t particularly like to clean up or anything, but it was quite obviously something he’d need to get used to, now that he shared a house with one of the messiest persons on earth.

Cursing low under his breath, Jensen grunted as he tried to retrieve a balled up sock from underneath their bed. He wrinkled his nose before tossing it to the pile of dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

With an impressive lack of his usual grace, he overbalanced trying to get back up and barely managed to catch himself on the dresser that was next to their bed. “ Fuck .”

Breathing heavily, Jensen was about to turn back around when he noticed that the top drawer was open. He started to close it when something caught his eye.

He frowned; heart sinking with dread at the dark metal that gleamed almost dauntingly from inside.

With shaking fingers he opened it and then slammed it closed again on a harsh breath, heart racing wildly in his chest as the realization sank in.

That night, when Jared got back from work, Jensen was sitting at their dining table with a .45 Magnum in his hands.

Jared stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted the gun.

“Were you gonna tell me about this?” Jensen asked, voice trembling at the unwanted memories the weapon brought forth.

The last time he’d seen a revolver up close, had held one in his hands, he had been forced to point it at the man he loved with the intention to kill .

“It’s for protection,” Jared sighed,

“Protection from what?” Jensen demanded angrily.

Jared squared his shoulders, gaze fixated on a point above Jensen’s shoulder. “Don’t make a fucking scene, Jensen. It’s just a gun.”

Jensen nodded, silently working his jaw as if to digest the words and then he slammed the revolver down hard against the surface of their table, leaving an indentation in the wooden surface as he stood, chest heaving as the anger he thought he was no longer capable of feeling rose to the surface.

“Just a gun?” he seethed. “How can you say that to me with a straight face? After everything we’ve been through?”

The only sound each person could hear in the silence that followed was the pounding of blood in their own ears.

Jared briefly closed his eyes before opening them again; gaze unapologetic and hard.

“How can you expect me not to bring one?” he asked, voice laced with steel. “Especially after everything we’ve been through?”

It had been so easy to pretend, so easy to imagine them having that white-picket-fence life, far away from all the shit that had nearly broken them both.

But it had been an illusion.

“You think someone’s gonna come after us,” Jensen said in a shaky tone, voicing a fear he’d been carrying around with him for a long time.

“Look,” Jared sank down into one of the chairs opposite from Jensen and washed a callous hand over his features. “Just because we’re starting a life of our own, doesn’t mean we can let our guard down, Jensen. Don't you understand that?”

Jensen swallowed thickly, a sense of nausea overcoming him.

He got up on wooden legs and grabbed his coat from the hanger on the wall.

“Yeah, I understand,” he murmured and slammed the door closed in his wake before Jared could say more.

  

 

“What about Jared Junior?“

“We’re not naming our son after you,” Jensen rolled his eyes at the ridiculous suggestion.

“What’s wrong with Jared?”

“The name or the person?”

“I’m not even going to fucking answer that,” Jared replied in a huff. “How about Damian?”

“I wouldn’t wish that name on my worst enemy.”

“Harry?”

“That’s even worse.”

“Morgan?”

“Isn’t that a girl’s name?”

Jared lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. “It could be a boy’s name, too.”

“Well, it sucks, either way,” Jensen sighed. “And I’m starting to run out of ideas.”

“We could still name him Jared.”

“You’re really not letting this go, are you?”

“It’s a good name,” Jared’s lips lips curled up just the slightest, a sign that he wasn’t being serious.

“Maybe. But it’s just not right for our son.”

“He’s barely more than a lump, Jensen. I don’t think he gives a shit.”

“Don’t call him a lump,” Jensen complained. “This is important, alright? His name will affect him for the rest of his life. It’s one of the few things we give him that he’ll keep forever.”

“What about the whole ‘we are giving him life’ thing?”

“Well, technically I’m the one who’s going to give birth, so if anything, I should get final say.”

“If I recall correctly, I played a not-so-insignificant role in the baby-making process.”

Jensen’s mouth was half-open in protest, when their son suddenly decided to join their conversation by kicking him in the bladder.

Jensen gasped, his palm instinctively coming down to rest against his stomach.

“Wow. He so doesn’t like where this conversation is going.”

“He giving you trouble again?” Jared quirked an eyebrow at him in mild amusement before leaning down to press a kiss to the soft skin below Jensen’s navel.

“No more than usual,” Jensen grimaced at the discomfort. “I think he recognizes our voices.”

“Course he does,” Jared said. “He’s a smart kid.”

“Yeah, well, I would appreciate it if he stopped kicking me in the bladder.”

“You hear that, champ?” Jared tapped a finger against Jensen’s belly. “Jen would like you to stop kicking his organs. So settle down in there before we name you Clarence.”

His only answer was a much softer push; barely detectable beneath Jared’s palm.

“See? He listens to me,” Jared said triumphantly and then straightened up again to steal a kiss from Jensen’s lips, his hands never once wavering from Jensen’s skin.

“Yeah,” Jensen grinned, his voice filled with fondness. “Let’s see how long that lasts.”

 

 

Jensen woke at 4 AM because their son had recently decided that lying with his head pressed against Jensen’s bladder was his favorite position.

Being the stereotypical pregnant person, Jensen waddled off to the bathroom and then back to the bed, snuggling up to Jared in an attempt to go back to sleep.

But when 4 AM turned to 5 AM and Jensen was still tossing and turning without any success, he grabbed his cell phone from the nightstand and rolled out of bed, stumbling towards the door.

Downstairs he sank his favorite spot on their leather couch, turning on a small lamp on their end table, while the fingers of his other hand cradled his stomach.

That was how Jared found him in the morning, with rumpled clothes and pillow-hair, eyes red-rimmed with exhaustion as his hands moved over a piece of paper almost frantically, brushing angry pencil strokes against the sheet.

Jared could tell that something was up from the way he was white-knuckling his pencil.

“Hey,” Jared rubbed at his eyes, making his way over to the couch in a pair of loose-fitting pajama pants and with a cup of steaming coffee in his hands. “You been up all night?”

“Pretty much,” Jensen murmured tiredly and it was only then that Jared noticed the pair of headphones that were stretched across Jensen’s baby bump, connected to the Ipod in his pocket.

Jared smirked and Jensen blushed, embarrassed at getting caught. “It’s supposed to be good for them... Regulates their breathing pattern when they’re agitated.”

“What are you playing?”  

Jensen put his half-finished sketch aside and sheepishly revealed the screen of his Ipod to Jared, who promptly started laughing. “Mozart? Wow, could you be more clichéd?”

“I don’t think he likes it,” Jensen sighed and Jared smoothed his hand down his stomach until he felt a strong kick. “Fuck. Did you feel that?”

Jensen gave Jared a ‘duh’ look. “Yeah, Jay… it’s inside of me. Of course, I fucking feel it.”

The smile slowly disappeared from Jared’s face when their son delivered a few more powerful blows to Jensen’s stomach, causing Jensen to wince in discomfort. “Does it hurt?”

“Kinda,” Jensen admitted. “I don’t know what’s up with him today, he seems pissed.”

Jared thought about it for a moment before he snatched Jensen’s Ipod from his lap and started browsing through the various artists. “I’d be pissed too if somebody forced me to listen to Mozart for hours on end. Have you tried anything else on him?”

“No, I haven’t 'tried' anything else on him. He’s not a lab rat, Jay. We can’t experiment wi—Hey!” Jensen tried to retrieve his Ipod but Jared was much faster, easily holding the device out of reach.

“Stop it! Jay, I’m serious, we can’t just play metal or something to him when—“

“It’s classic rock, okay?” Jared chuckled softly, before wrapping both his arms around Jensen and maneuvering the other man around until he was snuggled up against Jared’s back.

“Jay—“ Jensen protested weakly, trying to slip the headphones from his belly, but Jared grabbed his hand, holding it in place.

“I put the volume on low,” he explained softly. “Let’s give it a minute, okay?”

Jensen was still reluctant, but he didn’t find it in himself to fight Jared, still drained from lack of sleep and physical exhaustion. “Alright, just for a minute.”

Together, they settled back against the cushions and Jensen closed his eyes, comforted by the faint whiff of aftershave that clung to his boyfriend, mixing with the crisp, clean smell of shampoo and something else- something familiar and masculine and uniquely Jared.

Jensen snuggled further against him, inching as close as physically possible and Jared realized that his boyfriend was well on his way to falling asleep.

He huffed out a soft chuckle before maneuvering them so that he was lying on his back with Jensen sprawled out on his chest.

It was a tight fit between the three of them but it was surprisingly comfortable.

Jared slid an arm behind his head as a makeshift pillow and wrapped his other arm around Jensen to keep him from falling off the sofa in case he tried to move around in his sleep.

He reached down to touch Jensen’s stomach, only to find that the baby had finally settled down.

“Told you,” he smiled warmly against Jensen’s neck, stroking a thumb against his bare skin where the shirt had ridden up on Jensen’s hip. “No one can resist Black Sabbath's Solitude.”

“Mhhm,” Jensen hummed and buried his face in the curve where Jared’s shoulder met his neck.

Smiling fondly, Jared reached down to slip the headphones off of Jensen’s belly.

Jensen didn’t stir, his breathing already evened out into sleep, so Jared smoothed the hair from his forehead before planting a reverent kiss against his temple.

He knew that they had a lot to think about in the next few months. A lot of decisions to make.

Their future as a family was still to be decided, and they both knew that their involvement in South Boston’s crime scene could still pose a threat to them.

They would have to discuss jobs and family and a million other things that would eventually make up their lives.

But at that moment, all those things faded into the background, losing their importance.

All that mattered was the heavy weight of Jensen in his arms, his heartbeat matching Jared’s and the occasional flutter against the centerfold of his palm.

 

 

A crisp, white blanket of snow had smothered the campus of Yale University.

It almost looked like someone had spread a sparkling white sheet of crystals over the thick brick walls and put the entire complex to sleep.

Jensen’s breath rose in puffs to join the freezing chill in the air as he strolled through the arched entryway that led from Yale’s flowing space to the bustling streets of New Haven Green.

His heart did a little flip when he spotted Jared jogging up to him from beneath a bus stop.

“Hey,” Jensen grinned and tilted his head up for a chaste kiss. “What are you doing here?”

“Will let me off the hook early. Thought I might be here in time to catch you after class.”

“I’m starting to like your new boss,” Jensen pulled away with a smile. He reached out to take Jared’s hand, tangling their fingers together. “Care to grab an early dinner with me?”

“I think I came up with a name,” Jared blurted out so unexpectedly that it threw Jensen off course for a second.

He blinked up at Jared in mild confusion.

“For the baby.”

“Alright," Jensen bit his bottom lip to hold back a smile. "Let me hear it.”

“It’s… it was Jeff’s idea. But it used to be quite common where we lived in South Boston and I've always kinda liked it, even back then.”

Jensen cocked an eyebrow, a flicker of excitement settling deep in his gaze. Jared could feel his fingers twitch nervously in his hold and proceeded to squeeze them even tighter.

“You gonna keep me in suspense much longer?”

“Kelly.”

Jensen was silent for a second, blinking snowflakes from his lashes as the name rang through his mind.

“Jeff says it was his father’s name. Translated from Gaelic it means 'strife'  and I had to think about how much we’ve been through and I don’t know, man. I just got that feeling. It sounded right, you know?”

Jensen heard him out without offering up a single word in return.

After a beat of strained silence, Jared’s expression fell and he wiped a hand over his mouth.

“You don’t like it. That's... it’s cool,” Jared feigned indifference, lifting a shoulder in a half-shrug. “It was just an idea. It was probably stupid anyway. I mean it's kind of feminine and—"

“Jay.”

“Forget I ever said anythi—” the rest of what he was about to say got muffled when Jensen grabbed Jared’s neck and pulled him down for a kiss.

“I like it,” he spoke softly, teasing Jared’s lips with his own.

“Yeah?” Jared’s eyes lit up like a thousand suns and when their son didn’t so much as stir at the words, Jensen knew that the decision had been made for them.

"Yeah," He nodded and stole one last kiss before reluctantly pulling away, his own smile matching Jared’s. “Kel it is."