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Licorice and Honeysuckle

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Authors Note: I wanted to put this in the story as well as in the notes above. this is the lovely art Emmatheslayer did that inspired this story. Please check it out!! I am still learning my way around AO3 and will insert them <3



 Jensen Ackles has never liked the whole mosh pit thing. Yeah, he knows that might surprise some people. When he darts off the skytrain and down to Kafka’s for his early morning coffee fix he can feel the guy hawking newspapers on the corner and the spandex-strapped mommy bloggers with their little rat dogs sizing him up, pegging him as a “batcaver” or whatever they call it these days. A club rat. 

But the smeared eyeliner and spikes just distract them from the creases he’s getting around his eyes and the practical laptop bag hanging over his shoulder. Yes, he’d slept in those clothes last night, but only because he stayed up until two working on his latest design project. In short, dressing “alternatively” does not stop Jensen Ackles from being boring these days. Something his friend Christian Kane feels the need to remind him of every time he bothers to call. 


“Venue’s the size of a shoebox, but that means the crowd’ll be small enough for you, right? Just a little get together of true fans of hardcore-” 


“The last time I went to one of your “get-togethers” someone peed on me.” 


Jensen takes a sip of bitter black goodness, catching one of the dog ladies staring at him. Most likely because he just mentioned getting peed on. He looks away, then when that’s not enough he gets up and goes outside to lean against a wall in the alley as Chris scoffs in his ear:


“ And since when are you so straight edge that you’re bothered by a little pee?!” 


“Since I decided I was.” 


“But..” he can hear Chris’s eyebrows drawing together, frustrated “this is important, man. It’s the first performance of KANE and I want you to be there. We’re even gonna be selling the tshirts with some of your designs.”


Heat rushes to his face as he remembers the late night crunch session, how he sent Chris more joke sketches than real ones.


 “Oh God, please don’t use those.” 


“But the guys love them! And they want to see you. Aldis wants to see you, still gets fucking heart eyes whenever I bring up my old friend Jenny, and-” 


“Don’t!-” Jensen burns his mouth mid sip  “Don’t try to make that happen. It was a mistake and it was over two years ago .”


“So let me get this straight. No bringing you to concerts, no sharing your art, and no trying to get you laid. No matter how badly you need it.” 


“Um…. I guess not?” 


“Jesus, Jen. If you weren’t such an old friend, I’d think you were being kind of a dick right now.” 


And he’d be right to think so. The two of them have been friends for a long time, since before Jensen started choosing a night in watching tv reruns over tagging along to see a new band, way back when Jensen was just a wet eyed kid from Texas who’d hitched a ride into another country because he’d heard gay marriage was on its way in there. He’d had only his passport showing an image of himself with too long blonde hair, and a duffle bag stuffed full of baby bat outfits and good-boy-gone-wrong heart ache. But none of that mattered to newly minted metalhead Chris and the two had become inseparable as soon as they met. 


It had always been like this though, every time. Chris would try to drag Jensen out of his shell, by throwing some muscle daddy at him or setting up an interview at a modeling agency or whatever other scheme he could come up with and most of the time Jensen just… wouldn’t bite. Would dig in his heels and grit his teeth. And his social anxiety is somehow even worse at thirty nine than it was at twenty one. 


Jensen runs a hand through his dark hair and sighs.


“I’m… I’m sorry man, I’m just-” 


“Stuck in your little Jensen mind cave?” 


“And working round the clock. I know that I’m being an ass to you... ” 


When Chris speaks again, his voice is softer. 


“You know I’m not mad at you really, right? You’ve… you’ve always been a lot quieter than the rest of us. And that’s why I always push you so hard, because I don’t want you to miss out, man. And lately, it feels like it’s always a no. I’ve barely even seen you the past few months. ”


“S’not you. I.. I don’t know what’s going on with me right now.” 


“It’s okay… just you only live this life once. I want you to be happy in it. You gotta, you know, live life to the fullest.” 


Jensen’s next swallow of coffee is thick in his throat. His friend isn’t the best at communicating his feelings, says that’s girl shit, so for him to say that… it must really matter to him. 


“Thanks, man.”


“It’s nothing.” A pause “Hey, just promise me something.. You aren’t avoiding me because you secretly started wearing khakis, right?”


Jensen smiles into the phone. 


“I’d never do something as horrible as that.” 




Siouxsie Sioux keeps him company on his way home from the coffee shop, and the next 14 hours pass in a blur of price negotiations, color pallets, and a million tiny rectangles. But it’s slow going...Chris’s voice keeps drowning out his ideas and fizzling his focus. This is why he doesn’t talk to people.


The thing is, the first few years after he moved to Vancouver were lived in survival mode. He had barely any money, and had even fewer skills to market himself with. He’d work two or three low wage jobs at a time, crashing at Chris’s and whoever else would let him sleep in their guest bed (or on their couch, or on their floor). And after a few years of that there were the night classes in graphic design to survive, because he knew how to draw but couldn’t for the life of him be adventurous with his art. And then the working, working, working to support himself. 

It doesn’t scare him to think he hasn’t been, as they say it, living life to the fullest up until this point. There’s been no room for frivolous affairs, for drama, in his life. He’s had to stay on the straight and narrow just to make it: adulthood is a tight rope walk when you have little to no support system. When you have no family… 


A glance in the mirror will tell him where all his creativity, all his freedom to try and to fuck up lives. It stays in the bangles and the leather, the fishnet and the harnesses. Safe and easy to undo if need be. Just the same as it was over two decades ago in Texas, when little Jensen Ross would use a black eye pencil as lipstick when his Momma wasn’t home. 


What scares him, really scares him, is that when he tries to think of what his life would look like if he did live it to the fullest, he draws a big fat blank. It’s as if he’s been teleported into his foundation course again, staring at an empty canvas while the charcoal in his hand trembles. There is a big difference between not doing what makes you happy, and not knowing what would make you happy at all. 


It’s this fear that maybe he was in some kind of quiet midlife crisis where he doesn’t know what would make him happy, and maybe never did, that finally drives him out of the apartment to somewhere other than Kafka’s and the bank. Is this why he’s been avoiding Chris, and outfight ignoring everyone else because he... doesn’t really know how to live life? But he doesn’t have time to think about that right now. Because he’s getting out of his head and this house, right goddamn now. 




The early autumn leaves lay pasted to the ground by rain, the pavement slick underneath his platform boots. The drizzle makes everything darker as Jensen wanders aimlessly. It’s late, nearly midnight and his poor timing for an episode of existential dread means there’s nowhere to go, no open shops to duck into. He’s actually dialing in the number of a cab company (Maybe he can go to a bar? Chris’s?) when sees the shop. It’s all lit up, a beacon in the storm.  


Supernatural Soaps looms in a sort of craggy majesty, crumbling brick and chipped finish. A sign above the door is painted with the shop’s name in a loopy font but there’s also all these… symbols all over it. And on all the windows, and even graffitiing the front stop. Jensen doesn’t know most of them but he can recognize a pentagram when he sees one. As he enters the shop, bells on the door jingling, he nods to himself in approval. Okay, random shop, not bad. 


The first thing that hits him is the smell. It’s a little burnt, like incense that's been left too long, but also there’s soap. Of course. Because from floor to ceiling, the walls are lined with shelves full of soap in the style of an old apothecary shop, each product with a description in scrawling ink. Okay, random shop, awesome .


“Don’t Fear the Reaper” croons about love and death from some radio hidden somewhere as Jensen begins to browse, and the otherworldliness must have followed him in from outside because it's almost like he’s fallen into a trance as his eyes catch on a label. Woman in White: Soap of Bergamot and Jasmine, with a hint of smoke... the scent of unfaithfulness. Woah. He begins to work his way down the row. Wendigo: Shower Fizz of a forest blend...for the insatiable. What is and What Should Never Be: A Bath Soak that-


“Just ignore the scent description on that one.”


Jensen almost jumps out of his fucking skin. 


“Vanilla and Tangerine is something I put there so Kim would print the label. Actually, it smells different to each person who uses it. But he thought that was too crazy to write down.” 


The man behind him without his notice is unremarkable looking, a little shorter than him with the receding hairline and button up shirt of an overinvested mid level manager. But there’s something wild in his eyes. 


“Do you… own this place?”


“Yes, it’s all my creation.”


A weird way to phrase that, but okay. Maybe Jensen should ask-


“The name’s Eric Kripke.” he continues “And you.. You look like a J. What is it… Jeremy? Jeffrey? Jason??” 


“That’s pretty close, actually.” Jensen laughs a little, an uncomfortable sound. “My name is Jensen. And, dude, I’ve never been in here before but I love your shop.” 


“Of course you do.” 


He isn’t sure if he’s supposed to read that as a cocky assertion of confidence in his product, or some kind of a judgement. But as the man stands there and continues to do something at him that could vaguely be called smiling, he gets the feeling that this Eric Kripke wasn’t talking about either of those things. And that maybe he’s just stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone. 


“Yeah. Um, do you have anything that’s good to help someone… unwind?”


Kripke tuts softly, but his smile widens. He’s looking at Jensen with something that could be called fondness. Which makes no sense at all, but unwinds the knot in his belly just a little. 


“You’ll find what you are looking for. It’s almost here.”

With that the strange man turns on his heel and walks away, leaving Jensen to stare as he disappears somewhere into the back. So… that guy was definitely weird, and this place is definitely weird as well. But that won’t scare Jensen off: he tends to like weird.


He picks up a bar of soap that at first glance is white, but under direct light becomes translucent to reveal a blood red rose inside. The End: damask rose and gunpowder, for deciding your own destiny. 


The bells jingle merrily to announce the arrival of a new customer and that’s when Jensen finally gets what's going on here. What’s happening is his fears are all right and he is having a breakdown and it's happening right here in the middle of this soap shop. Because he is looking at a fairy. 


He’s tall, would be noticeably taller than Jensen if he weren’t in his demonias. And every tall, tall inch of him is encased in brilliant neon: pinks and greens and purples and peacock blues. Even his face is colorful, rainbow around his eyes and pink dusted across his high cheekbones. 


Jensen is transfixed for the second time that evening. 


The fairy shakes his moss green hair like a puppy after a bath, and little droplets go flying all over the store. Then he notices Jensen who is definitely staring, and lets out a booming laugh. He says in a deep, gentle drawl-


“Were you in the splash zone? I’m sorry if I got you wet.” 


“No,” Jensen’s throat is dry suddenly and he coughs “I’m fine, it didn’t hit me.” 


“That’s good.” the fairy says, beaming. He has dimples. “I wouldn’t want it to mess up your look or anything.” 


Jensen looks around and then down at himself. Ah, yes. For once in his life he’d almost forgotten what he looked like.


“Nothing too special, don’t worry,” 


“Nothing special?” The puppy-ishness comes back full force as he crowds up all in Jensen’s space. Jensen’s eyes widen behind his glasses as he’s pinned to the spot by hazel rimmed in rainbow and khol “If somebody got my eyeliner wet after I’d done it as meticulously as you, I’d punch them. It looks great.”


“Thanks.” This is one good smelling fairy.


“You’re welcome.” he says simply, but his kaleidoscope eyes dance with amusement “I'm jared.” 


His hands are warm on Jensen’s arms and Jensen can feel himself warming with them, desire stirring in his belly like the first buds of spring time. He doesn’t get the opportunity to overanalyze what this means after he’s had such a long “winter”, because the double doors swing open and he is released so the fairy- so Jared can bound over to the shopkeep that entered through them. The aura about him that had Jensen half certain he was a skinwalker is just… gone , and Eric Kripke beams around an armful of tall, lanky, chattering customer. 


“-Sandy’s making everything from patterns up, and she says if I help she’ll make one of the garments gigantor size so it can fit me, and I can-” 


“I'm doing fine too, thanks for asking JT.”


Those hazel eyes get big as saucers. 


“Didn’t mean to not ask, I’m awful sorry, I just know last time you asked about our design projects and I was so excited to tell you and-” 


Man, this Jared can talk . Jensen doesn’t like loud people as a principle, but somehow… it’s kind of cute. The light catches on his shining white teeth as he laughs, rocking on his high top clad heels in a way that makes the little curls behind his ears bounce. 


Wait wasn’t he…. in here for something? Self care. That’s right. Jensen turns away to make himself very busy with the soaps again, firmly telling any tingling to go away. He can’t just stand there staring at a rainbow clad adonis (who’s got to be at least six foot two) all night. 


Then he realizes they’re both now staring at him.  


Jared’s face is curious and warm, while Kripke’s is… scheming?


“Say, JT,” Starts Kripke, not looking away “Could you do me a favor while I get your order from the back? Can you help this guy, Jackson, find what he’s looking for?” 


Jensen gets the distinct feeling he got his name wrong on purpose. 


JT (he wonders what the T stands for) immediately begins the puppy routine again, practically wriggling. 


“Does this mean what I think it means, Kripke?! Are you seriously hiring me right now?” 


But the man is already headed for the back, calling over his shoulder. 


“We’ll talk about it later, just help him!” 


“Are you at least considering it?” 


“Consider this a trial run!” 


The swinging doors slam and it’s just the two of them on the shop floor, softly playing radio filling the silence. “Night Moves” just started. 


“Um….” Jensen swallows thickly, blood pressure on the rise 


“So,” Jared says as he approaches, dimples etched into his cheeks “Jackson, right?” 


“Jensen, actually. Not Jackson.” he admits, like his parents made some grave error choosing his name.


The guy just laughs and shakes his head good naturedly.


“Kripke’s not great with names. Or customer service. Anything that isn’t making all these awesome soaps is not his thing.” 


With that Jared takes him by the arm and gently guides him over to look at another section of the “awesome soaps”. Jensen doesn’t see any of them, just thinks about the large, warm hand resting on his bicep again.


“Are you looking for something specific?” 


“....Self care? I’ve never done this before in my life.” 


“Okay,” a soft chuckle “That’s.. not a lot to go on… uh…”


 Jared scans the shelves, face screwed up and tongue poking out in an adorable way that makes it finally hit Jensen: for all his height, this guy is young. Really young. 


“This one.” 


It’s black and gray, with a little skull carved into its face. It’s perfect.


“Not one of the fancy ones with the fortune cookie label, but maybe that’s best for a self care beginner.” 

When Jensen looks back up at him, Jared is smirking at him, shaggy green hair falling over one glittering eye. And just like that spring is back in full bloom. 


“Did Jared tell you how terrible I am at customer service yet?” a voice behind his left shoulder asks. 


He gasps, and whips around to face Kripke,who apparently returned much more quietly than how he left. Jared seems entirely unphased. Maybe he knows the guy well enough that he's used to it. 


“I did. I told him you were mean, and horrible, and bad at everything that wasn’t making-” 


“-Awesome Soaps. Speaking of.” He raises a bulging paper bag “I have your yours. Now both of you get out, I’m closing for the night.” 


Jared lets out what can only be called a cackle, delighted, and plucks the parcel from the outstretched hand.


“You’re the worst!”


“I take pride in it.” 



He really should be going home. Should be waiting at the platform already, because the SkyTrain doesn’t ride many more rounds tonight. But instead, after buying his soap he follows Jared to a park bench, where they’re waiting with him for his friend Sandy to swing by with her Mazda. A stupid idea on such a rainy night, but at least it’s clear right now.


Jared’s motor mouth starts the conversation, keeps it going. His story is achingly similar to Jensen’s own: he'd been rejected when he was still too young by his family because they couldn’t shake the devil’s grip from their son, and drifted from his hometown (in texas too, even) to somewhere more progressive and just stayed. He’d been enrolled in university for a semester but unlike Jensen had dropped out to make ends meet. That’s where he’d met Sandy, while studying fashion design. 


He’s just about to launch into a story about the time he nude modeled for a figure drawing class when Jensen blurts: 


“What’s in your bag?” 


Jared’s been fiddling with it the entire time he's been speaking, long, elegant fingers curling and uncurling the crinkling edges of the stapled opening. Like he wants to open it, but thinks it would be rude. 


“I don’t know. Kripke um,” Jared bites his rainbow hued lip “Kripke likes it to be a surprise.” 

“You can open it, if you want..” 


Those perfect dimples peek out.


“Okay. Sure. I can open it.”


He does, and they both peek inside. There’s soap samples, and bath bombs, and even a few shower steamers. Some of them are every color hued and seem made expressly for Jared, while others are more the “creator’s” usual esoteric style. Jensen’s eyes is drawn to one in particular. He lifts it up to read the scrawl on it’s label.

Erotically Codependent: Apple Pie and Leather. Old books and a hint of gun oil. The Scent of the Greatest Love Story of All Time. 


“This one.. doesn’t even make sense. Am I missing something?” 


“I know,” Jared says, jokingly grimacing. “I’ve asked him to explain what some of the descriptions are all about but he won’t say…” 


But then his face changes, spreads into a soft smile. 


“But I think knowing all the references might kinda.. ruin the appeal? Because of the mystery factor, the parts that sound like poetry, they might go away if I knew what it meant. And I know it’s just soap, and I probably sound stupid saying this but I think there’s something powerful about-”


But Jared doesn’t sound stupid. He doesn’t sound like anything, because he never finishes his sentence. 


Because Jensen is kissing him.


Oh,” he says afterwards, a little breathless. Surprised.


Then he pulls Jensen across the bench and kisses him back. He’s halfway in Jared’s lap as their lips slide together, and Jared’s hip awkwardly pokes into his side, and it’s so, so good. He lets out a groan into Jared’s mouth and feels his grip on him tighten. 


“So--- in the-- the shop, he called you JT,” Jensen murmurs between nibbling, nipping kisses “What’s-- What’s the T stand for?” 


“Jared Tristan,” his voice is breathless, “But--- my uh-mmm- my friends --- call me Jay--” 






He wants to know Jay better. Doesn’t want this moment to end, doesn’t want these gentle giant hands to stop touching him or that gaze to stop burning him. It’s been so long, probably years, since he actually wanted another person. He’s not sure he’s ever felt it this much before.


“Sandy’s probably going to be here soon…” 


And that’s when Jensen does the kind of thing he’d never, never think he could do. 


“What if you text her to turn around, and you come home with me instead?” 

As their running to catch the train as fast as they can with the slick of the pavement and with his tall shoes, Jared wooping and swinging their hands together, Jensen can't help but wonder: 


Is this what living life to the fullest feels like?




Jensen Ackles has never liked morning afters. The few times he was slutty enough (more like drunk enough) to put out over the years, he was too antisocial to do anything but run away home before daybreak could bring it’s hangovers or regrets. And then he was too antisocial to even do that, so things like brewing coffee to another's preference or “do you want scrambled or fried” or god forbid sweet kisses filled with last night’s nostalgia, weren’t things he had to deal with. 


Therefore he has no idea how to explain why at Eight Thirty Five in the morning, Jared is sitting at his kitchen island eating Fruity Pebbles. He’d gone and gotten them from one of Vancouver’s few surviving corner stores while Jensen was still asleep, practically wagging his tail when he woke him up with breakfast in bed. 


This is now the fifth time this has happened. 


“Are you sure you’re okay with me eating yours?” 


A spoon hovers, it’s captor’s hand making it dance through the air. And just like every time before, Jensen responds, not enough coffee in him to do more than grunt-


“Yeah, go for it.” 


Jay digs into “Jensen’s” bowl of cereal with gusto, making noises that are way too happy for someone awake this early. Jensen just leans against the counter and nurses his black brew. He wonders if any of the women or their little dogs that stop by Kafka’s have noticed he’s been missing from their daily caffeine addict’s anonymous club for the past week.


“This is my favorite thing in the world.” 


“What is, cereal for toddlers?” 


Jared doesn’t laugh.


When he looks up from his coffee Jared’s eyes are big and his viridescent bed head reminds Jensen of a palm tree. A palm tree who’s also an angel.


“This. Being here with you. Just.. being.” 


Then he smiles, wide and dimples digging for china in his cheeks. 


Jared might just be the prettiest palm tree-angel Jensen has ever seen.



“Jay… Jay


“Oh god… oh my god… Jensen ..”


The mattress squeaks brutally underneath them. His ass is bare on Sailor Moon themed sheets, and if Jensen had even a shred of shame left he’d be covering up the eyes of little printed polyester bunnies right now. But he doesn’t, so he’s not. And besides, he’s too busy getting the ride of his life. 


Jared is shameless too, broad chest bowed like the prow of a ship as he braces himself on Jensen’s shoulders and bounces. His heaving breaths and desperate little moans punctuate their rhythm and he must be getting a hell of a work out, thigh muscles tense and sweat gleaming on his skin. Meanwhile the warm, wet pink of him has a grip on his cock that makes Jensen want to fall on his knees in worship for the first time since he left Richardson.


“So good, so tight for me…” 




One surefire way to stop Jared’s motormouth is to suggest sex. It’s delicious when that honey warm voice with that little twang begins to break and the sentences get scrambled with the heat of his need, until he can’t even talk at all apart from broken noises and Jensen’s name. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, where they are (trust him), Jared will throw his back and his cock and his pretty little ass into it and leave language behind at the last mile marker. Right now they’re in Jared’s East Van studio apartment. 


Jared’s thick liner is getting messy, a little black streak on his perfectly chiseled cheek. He blinks a lot but the its-too-good tears seem to keep running. Jensen is probably a mess himself. They don’t ever… go out anywhere, formally, this arrangement doesn’t work like that, and that’s fine with Jensen, he thinks. And yet, when Jensen knocked on the door and Jared answered, they both were dolled up like it was their first date. 


Long fingers begin to scrabble on his back, nails digging in and Jensen hisses. It’s a sign his boy is getting close. 


“Gotta-- You gotta---” hot breaths in Jensen’s ear pant


“What… fuck… what do I gotta, Jay? Sweetheart, mmh... What do you need?”


“Aah… Jack ..”


Jared came up with the moniker, a combination of his first and last name. It makes Jensen’s dick twitch every time he says it. 


“Jack, please…” 


One of his trembling hands drifts up Jensens body, along the tiny bit of pudge he’s fighting a losing battle to (happy weight, Jared calls it), and up his pale, freckly torso. It stops to toy with one of his nipple piercings, drawing a groan from him and a gush of precum. Then it finds Jensen's face, grazing his jaw, his lips, his tee-




A chuckle rumbles through his chest. After the years of stares, of questions, of tauntings of “ I vant to suck your blood !”at his getup... Maybe it’s kind of ironic that the universe has given Jensen a boyfriend that wants to be treated like a vampire’s blood bag. But Mostly it’s just sexy.


“I think I know what you need, Jay..” 


His hands tighten around Jared’s small waist, thoughtful steadying and lecherous groping all in one. And then he’s the one taking charge, pulling Jared out of his rhythm and off of his cock. Those muscled thighs tremble under his hands as he guides him back onto the bed, caging him in under his body, tremble more as he parts them and shoves right back inside. Finds a rhythm of his own and keeps it, savors it as he pounds Jared’s prostate. 


The bedframe bounces off the wall in time to punched out breaths and the slap of skin on skin: on the other side someone pounds a warning. Jensen couldn’t care less right now.


“C’mon… ah ah  ah ahh….do it…” 


His boy’s voice is wrecked and his eyes are luminous and pleading, looking up at Jensen like his life is in his hands. Then they fall closed, scrunch tight, as Jensen leans down to bite the meat of his shoulder, the juncture where it meets his neck. Jared keens, and clenches around him, and then Jensen is falling, falling falling. 


Falling in lo-....


He shouldn’t even let himself think that.

They curl up together under the covers of Jared’s too small bed in Jared’s too small apartment after cramming themselves into a shower with the exact same problem. But Jensen doesn’t complain about the squeeze; he’s too post sex-satisfied and post-sex absolutely exhausted to dare suggesting they go to his place. Positions are negotiated and he lets Jared rest his head on his chest, one leg thrown over and one arm clutching him like he’s a man sized gothic teddy bear.


“I’m thinking of changing my hair.” 


Jared’s hair is kool aid blue, and pasted against his forehead. Last month, it had been the pinky-red of a Valentine’s Day heart. His eye color changes with his dye jobs. 


“If you keep bleaching your hair, it’s going to fall out someday” 


He cringes after he says it, for his own hypocrisy and for how much of an old fogie he sounds like. In that moment he is once again reminded that he is probably old enough to be Jared’s father. He wants to go to sleep.


But his boyfriend-not boyfriend, lover, they aren’t anything official- just sighs dreamily.


“It’d be worth it.” 


The silence lasts so long afterwards that Jensen thinks that might be the end of the conversation, shut his eyes, when Jay’s warm breath tickles his ear. 


“You always pull it harder when it’s fresh.” 


Jensen doesn’t want to go to sleep after that.


He should have known his downfall would be those shoes. They were the first tangible sign of Jared’s in his life, the first proof that his lover was not, in fact, a very sexy and sweet hallucination that visited him on occasion. 


The descent to doomsday began on the six month anniversary of the first time of, as Jared called it, “us freaks started getting freaky”. They didn’t acknowledge it in words, but he knew Jared remembered when he showed up bearing the ingredients to make butter chicken and naan (at home!!), and a Rainbow Brite themed duffle bag. He’d also brought with him an entire change of clothes, complete with a jacket, accessories, and the shoes. 


“I can’t just wear the same thing tomorrow and be all wrinkly, we’re having a meetup and it’s going to be a real big one this time. I’ve got to look my best” 


The puppy dog face Jay made while sagging under the weight of his burden was entirely unnecessary: he understood. He knows how important Jared’s fashion, described to him as “a little bit scene, a little kidcore, a lot what I can find that’s colorful that also fits ”, is to him. As well as the little community he’s found of nerdy artsy weirdos that group together in Vancouver under an umbrella of similarly iridescent styles. Jensen knows what it’s like to only feel alive when you are disguised as something slightly other than human, something magical.


He puts them in the hall, all bubblegum bright with little hand painted strawberries up the sides (all of it hand painted by Jared to compensate for the lack of cutsey sneakers in a mens size 12), their toes pointed towards the door. They stayed there all through the not- anniversary- dinner and follow up horror movie. But then Jared had run late in the morning and grabbed the only pair of shoes he could find. The high tops stayed by the door. 


And Jared just… never took them back. And Jensen never told him to. So they stayed there through more horror movies, and more homemade dinners, and they stayed through countless nights spent rolling around on the black silk sheets of his bed with the same long, beautiful body beside him, under him, on top of him. They stay and they stay, until Jensen is the one who finally picks them up on yet another Friday night. 


“Why are you giving me these?”


Jared stares down at his own shoes as if he’s never seen them before in his life. 


“I thought you might want to have them back. So you wouldn't forget to pack them.” 


Jensen’s voice is strangled. He’s been deliberately avoiding this conversation for over a week, but a glance at the shoes that day and it was all too much for him. 




“I saw, Jay. The, um, the university applications? I saw them.” 


Jensen’s lip wobbles but he sets his jaw against it, hard. He has to get right, lets Jared down easy. He’s practiced over and over how to do it, to himself and to the mirror and even to Greg the desk skull. 


“And I want you to know… this has been great.. Really something else. And that wherever you go, you remember me back in, uh, ole Vancouver.” 


It all sounded much smoother in his head. But then again, he doesn’t sound all choked up when he talks to himself in his head. 


“Jensen-” Jared’s voice is a warning, eyebrows rising towards his hairline as he sets aside the vibrant tennis shoes. “Are you… breaking up with me?” 


“Well, uh,” Jensen  “I know this is just casual, just fuck buddies-”


Keep to the mission, Ackles. He has to make things simple, make them clean when Jared gets to wherever it is he’s going to he can be happy, won’t feel guilty for anything, for anyone , he leaves behind. 


“I just don’t want you to worry that there would be any bad blood if you, you know, skipped town some time and didn’t tell me. I have been there, so I understand. You.. you would always be welcome back here. So you go chase that dream, go get what you want.”  


Because Jared, sweet, gentle hearted Jared, deserves that. 


And Jensen, Jensen deserves-



He bows his head, he’s said his piece. But then there’s a hand on his shoulder, gripping it, nails he knows have glow in the dark polish on them digging in to give him a good shake.


“And what about you??” 


Jared sounds angry. 


“What is it that you want?” 


A year ago Jensen had stood in front of their, yes he pathetically thinks of it as their now, full length mirror and admitted he had absolutely no idea. But now he knows and somehow that’s even worse. 


“You,” he whispers hoarsely, “All I want is you.”  


The empty void in his mind when it came to his happy place is all filled up with Jared now: waking up to Jared in his bed, walking with Jared by his side, even being pestered by Jared while he tries to work. Jared, Jared, Jared. 


“What the hell, man” Jared shakes him again, harder, and when Jensen opens his eyes, he looks different. Not like a fairy, or an angel, but a man who’s totally blindsided. “I knew we weren’t talking about the big picture, the feelings of it all, but I really thought we were on the same page. I didn’t want to rush you, push you and-” 


“What are you talking about” 


“Jensen.” he’s being pinned to the spot by hazel again, just like that first night. “I’m not leaving. I’m in love with you.” 


He blinks. Pauses. Goes for it, because they’re already so far in the deep end they’re both treading water.


“I’m in love with you too.” 


“I figured.” the side of Jared’s lip quirks upward, but his brows remain furrowed in worry. 


“So those papers, the ones for university-?” he begins,


“-They were all schools here in Vancouver. I thought, uh, I’d surprise you if I got in.” 


“Oh.” his voice is a little tremulous, and all at once he’s being pulled close, has Jared’s big beautiful forehead pressed against his. 


“Did you really think that this was all just.. I dunno, meaningless?” 


“No, never.” 


He thought that it was just wishful thinking, that he was being an old sap. That he’d become so lonely and so desperate to find this big happiness that he’d made it all up in his head, anything more than just a casual, sexual connection. 


“Me neither, you idiot. I just thought you were really, really shy, apart from in bed” Jared is smiling a little again, a good sign “and didn’t wanna talk about the fact that we were dating.” 


“I mean,” Jensen bites his lip “I am.”


“So I tried to show it to you in other ways, that I was falling for you. In making dinner. In the way I touched you. Didn’t you feel it?” 


“I shouldn’t have assumed anything based on those papers.” 


Fingers are sliding up and down the back of his neck, tip massaging circles in the fuzz at the base of his hairline. 


“That was stupid, yes. But I guess I shouldn’t have assumed you knew we were a couple.” 


Their noses brush, and Jay’s lips are inches away from his own. 


“I just have a question: if you are in love with me... why were you making that whole big production of us splitting up?” 


Hindsight is 20/20, and even though Jensen needs glasses he can already see that that plan was ill devised. But, truly, it had felt like his only option to do right by his boy.


“Because you only live this life once. And I want you to be happy in it. If that meant without me.. I was preparing myself to be okay with that.”


“Oh Jack. You’ve got it bad, don’t you honey.” 


He can’t even deny it. So he doesn’t, just allows Jared, his love, his boyfriend, to pull him into a kiss. 




Jensen Ackles has never liked love stories. They’re just all so fucking saccharine: proposal on an Eiffel Tower this, boombox in the street that. Their grand gestures are so transparent in their effort to make him go “Awwwww”, they verge on looking desperate and a little pathetic. 


Not that Jensen doesn’t have exceptions: the gothic horror ones, that are more heart stop than heart strings, have their appeal. The ones he likes most are stories of love to obsession, of needing someone so much you’re willing to sell your soul for them or get torn apart for them by monsters or even destroy the world for them in some burning, fiery apocalypse. Yeah, those stories hold power. 


But his and Jared’s love for each other isn’t like either of those in the end. It is quiet, and it is tender. It’s in the way Jared grabs his hand as they walk down the street. It’s in the way Jensen finally, finally gives himself permission to start stocking Fruity Pebbles in his pantry. It’s in the way both of them move together, like they're two parts of a whole coming back together. And, looking back now with open eyes… Jensen thinks it was probably there the whole time. 

Everything and nothing has changed since the big failed-breakup-love confession. Jared lives with him now, and he’s going back to school in the fall. Jensen has been seeing a therapist, sought one out when he’d started to finally unpack that maybe the way he grew up affected him a bit more than he’s been willing to admit. They have a dog now, Sadie (for Jared), who loves everyone no matter what. And a cat, Morticia (guess who that one’s for), who hates everyone unless they’re petting her or holding a treat. And on occasion, they pet-sit some of the roadies for KANE when Chris can't them find an affordable room in the city.

There's one other difference, as well. Jensen has pulled back a little from his obsessive commissions, and has taken a little foray into artisan crafts. Namely, soap making. And if you visit a certain soap shop that's open, strangely, in the middle of the night, you'll see a display of his wares, and on each little pink and black marbled bar the label will read: 

Licorice and Honeysuckle: At first glance, it seems like these two could never be together. But mix them together just right, and they create a perfect harmony.