Jensen wakes first. Shadows from the partially drawn curtains crisscross the bodies on the bed. Jared has managed to fully octopus himself across both Jensen and Danni and it takes careful maneuvering to extricate himself from under those long limbs. As Danni snuffles and twists further on her side, Jared’s big hand flaps against her hip, face scrunching a moment as if aware that soft curves aren’t the norm. Jensen can’t help but smile.
He stands facing them – the two people he loves most in the entire world. It’s such a complete feeling to have them here together. To know that in truth they are both here for him, because he needed them. Because he was hurting.
It’s also puzzling in a way … the way he feels about each of them. How different, yet also how very alike. He thinks, if it were allowed, if they lived in a different time, different universe perhaps … that he’d marry the both of them. Face heating in embarrassment he decides it best not to share that particular fantasy. Although if he’s really honest he thinks they might just agree.
Thoughts swirling, he leaves a short note and shuts the hotel door softly behind himself. He has an important errand, which now has expanded but – in a good way.
It’s a short taxi ride to the La Cumbre Plaza shopping center and he heads straight for the store that he knows will meet his needs. The sales staff is efficient and solicitous and he makes short work of his shopping excursion. Barely ninety minutes later he’s slipping his key in the door again.
Neither Jared nor Danni are there. He glances around and finds a new note on the back of the one he’d left, saying they headed for coffee while housekeeping was tidying the room. Reading that, he notices the perfectly made bed.
Wasting no time, he texts Jared that he’s back and housekeeping is done.
Danni and Jared return bearing coffee. That makes him want to kiss them both – so he does. He sees Jared’s dimples appear at Jensen’s uncharacteristic show of affection.
Unable to hide his excitement, he thinks that Jared has guessed that he wants to let Danni know about their engagement. Jared’s not wrong. His friends settle around the small round table with their coffees but Jensen finds himself too wound up to sit and so remains standing.
Danni looks between them with a suspicious gaze. “What’s going on?” she asks finally. “You two look up to something.”
Jensen smiles and nods to Jared. “We have something to tell you,” Jared says.
“Something good,” Jensen adds quickly when Danni’s eyes narrow. “After … well, everything … Jared and I got to talking and … we decided to get married.”
Danni’s eyes grow huge and her face lights up like an exaggerated comedic moment in a rom-com movie. Jensen’s returning smile is so big it’s starting to hurt his face. “Oh my god,” she gasps. And then lets out a shriek. “Holy shit!”
She’s up and jumps him so forcefully he stumbles backward. “Oh my god, Jense … that’s the best news!”
A moment later she’s wiggling her hand madly for Jared to join in and they are both quickly consumed by Jared’s broad reach. Jensen kisses Danni’s cheek and then Jared’s lips gently, feeling that this amount of happiness cannot be contained and surely, he’s radiating it out into the heavens.
Reluctantly he pulls away from them and asks them both to sit on the bed. Jared looks puzzled but complies.
“It happened quickly,” he says and watches Jared smile again. “But it wasn’t a whim, it was something that I’d wanted but didn’t think I could have.” He stops himself. “Wasn’t allowing myself to have,” he corrects. “But now it’s time to do it right.”
He opens the drawer where he’d hidden his purchases and pulls out the small square box wrapped in sky blue paper with a white ribbon.
Danni’s eyes grow huge and Jared scrunches his brows in confusion. “What?” he utters.
She claps hands and mouths to Jensen that he should kneel. Following his best friend’s command, Jensen drops to one knee in front of Jared and holds out the box. “Jared. I know you already said yes so I don’t have to ask again. But please accept this as a promise of my love. I was hoping these could be our wedding bands, if you like them.”
Jared slips the ribbon off and lets the paper unfold like an origami in reverse. Danni is leaning over and biting her lower lip as Jared opens the black velvet box. The two rings are matte platinum with a sliver of polish that gleams at the edge. It’s very subtle and made Jensen think of a shard of moonlight glinting off the water’s edge.
“Oh,” Danni gasps. “They’re beautiful.”
With trembling hands Jared lifts one of the rings out of the box and holds it up gingerly. Jensen sees the shine in his fiancé’s eyes. Reaching out he cups Jared’s cheeks and brings their lips together in a soft kiss. “I love you,” he whispers against Jared’s cheek.
Jared kisses him again just as gently and meets his eyes as he says, “I love you. So much.” Then he grabs him in a breath crushing hug and Jensen spots Danni dabbing her eyes behind them.
“I thought,” Jensen begins, hand coming up to rub the back of Jared’s neck, “Since I picked out these you could maybe pick out our engagement rings. Silver would be nice.”
Jared hugs him again, pulling him in tight against his chest, nuzzling near his ear. He whispers, “Of course.” Another squeeze. “Thank you.”
Jensen thinks that Jared is too smart not to figure out eventually that he’d split the purchases in such a way as to not stretch Jared too far financially. He’d have bought both sets himself but he knows Jared’s pride would have balked at that. He also knows that Jared is well aware of the difference in cost between platinum and silver. But he also thinks it won’t matter.
Speaking of silver … Jensen gently disengages from Jared and returns once more to the bedside table drawer, pulling out another sky-blue box tied with a white satin ribbon. He senses Jared’s confusion and grins as he approaches Danni, who’d remained on the bed. For an insane moment, he thinks to kneel again as a joke but that might not be understood and in no way does he ever want to diminish what is between himself and Jared.
Danni accepts the gift, eyes bright and puzzled. “Why? Jen – you didn’t have to—“
“Just open it.”
He watches the ribbon flutter to the carpet and the paper unfold like the petals of a flower. By the time she opens the box he’s bouncing on the toes of his sneakers in anticipation. Slowly, she draws out the delicate pendant dangling from a silver chain. He loves the design, a perfect wave of silver, frozen into a heart shape. If his ocean could whip out gifts – this is what it would look like.
Her mouth rounds in a ‘o’ and the only sound is a soft release of air.
Seconds later he’s crushed in a smaller but no less intense hug. Jensen catches Jared’s wet gaze over Danni’s shoulder as Jensen helps fasten the chain around her neck. He flicks the heart pendant up on his finger and peers down at it before releasing it to fall beneath her collarbone.
“Why?” she whispers.
At first, he shrugs, face reddening with the anxiousness of being so exposed. He stares at the open-heart glinting in the afternoon light. Danni’s golden-toned skin turns the silver to a deeper pewter. After a deep breath, he answers, “Because you surround my heart. And Jay … “ Fills it. He swallows hard because if he says one more word then he will start to cry.
As ever, Jared comes to the rescue, drawing him into a soft embrace. “It’s beautiful,” he murmurs. “Like you.” And really, it’s just too much. Jensen lets himself go, raises one arm up in invitation and hugs both Danni and Jared to himself fiercely.
Eventually they order pizza and a couple of bottles of wine and climb into bed to flip stations. They settle on Seinfeld reruns that a local station is marathoning.
Danni has a flight at an ungodly time in the morning so after a few episodes she curls up on one side of the big bed, wearing her Hello Kitty pajamas and telling them that the earlier hug-fest does not mean they can fool around with her in the room.
Jared pouts and Jensen blushes and bats Jared’s hand away when he tries to pinch his butt.
She’s asleep before them and Jared smiles into the text book he’s brought into bed as she starts snoring softly. “That’s why I knew,” he tells Jensen, lowering his voice to a whisper so as not to wake Danni.
“That you loved me. That all that ‘I don’t do love’ was bullshit.”
Jensen turns and faces Jared, unconsciously pushing back the loose waves that have fallen over his lover’s eyes. “I don’t understand.”
“I saw you with Danni. The way you two are – how you take care of each other. Love each other. So you were saying you didn’t do love. But I saw it every day.”
Narrowing his eyes Jensen thinks this over. “But it’s different. How I feel about her. You know that, right?”
Hazel eyes capture his with a probing intensity. “Is it?”
He’s about to protest that he doesn’t want to screw around with Danni, that he’s not attracted to her in that way. But he knows that Jared knows that … He swallows and blinks to distract himself from that stare. “I don’t know,” he answers feebly.
Jensen expects Jared to question him further but instead soft lips meet his in a warm kiss. It can’t go anywhere with Danni right there next to them but he relaxes into the soft pressure and gentle tickle of Jared’s tongue rolling around his own. He wonders fleetingly if he should have told Jared he loved him more. Loves him more than anything or anyone.
But the truth is he’d die for both people in this room.
Which makes him feel incredibly lucky that he has them both.
Don’t Go Far Off
By Pablo Neruda
Don't go far off, not even for a day, because --
because -- I don't know how to say it: a day is long
and I will be waiting for you, as in an empty station
when the trains are parked off somewhere else, asleep.
Don't leave me, even for an hour, because
then the little drops of anguish will all run together,
the smoke that roams looking for a home will drift
into me, choking my lost heart.
Oh, may your silhouette never dissolve on the beach;
may your eyelids never flutter into the empty distance.
Don't leave me for a second, my dearest,
because in that moment you'll have gone so far
I'll wander mazily over all the earth, asking,
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?