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Bottles on the Beach

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Bottles on the Beach

Chapter One

It had been six years since he’d stepped off the set of Supernatural in Vancouver. Six years since the longest role he’d ever taken on had ended and a piece of Jensen Ackles still hadn’t adjusted to the change.

The show had run for twelve seasons and while some of the cast and crew had been willing to carry on the network had finally decided that season 12 would finally be the swan song for Dean and Sam Winchester and in some cases Jensen supposed it also was the end for him and Jared.

At the time Jensen hadn’t been sure what to feel when the call had been made to end the show that he’d been on for so long. The show that had changed his life and also given him his best friend…or had until the last day of shooting and Jensen had made the choice to put distance between himself and Jared.

He and Jared had grown up a little on the show; they had shared the good times, the bad. They’d been there when each man had married and Jared had been there on the day Jensen signed his divorce papers from Danneel but no matter how close they’d been and what he’d promised Jared about staying in touch he’d needed space.

There were days like this one as Jensen struggled to put on his professional face in front of newspapers, reporters and media that he missed his best friend. Not just because Jared had been a natural in front of the cameras and could cover for him on the days when he just wasn’t able to portray a smooth front but because he missed Jared’s laugh.

It had been Jared’s laugh that had first caught Jensen’s attention because when Jared laughed it was real. Unlike a lot of actors who could fake a laugh Jared Padalecki’s laugh was real, honest and the best one was the one that brought out his dimples.

Those were the laughs that Jensen missed. He missed being able to go over to Jared’s trailer on set to just talk or hang out. He missed the pranks his friend liked to play on other cast members or crew. He missed Jared as a whole and still tried to forget the look of confusion and hurt in those deep hazel eyes the last time they’d seen one another.

Jensen knew he’d been an ass in those last days. He’d covered the eventual hurt of the show ending as best as he could. He’d supported Jared, who had taken it the worst, as best as he could and promised the younger man they’d always be best friends and would stay in touch no matter where their careers took them.

He’d promised it and had meant it…until the last day at the airport when he’d just flat out told Jared that it might be better if they took some time to adjust to not seeing each other daily or speaking to one another.

The shock had been plain along with the hurt. A hurt that Jensen had longed to take back the moment he’d opened his mouth but before he could the shutters were coming down and Jared’s fake smile was back in place and just nodding blindly.

There had been a few calls since the show ended, but nothing in four years and not a day passed when Jensen woke up to stare at his reflection in the mirror and curse himself for being both a coward and a bastard because it wasn’t a need for space that he’d stepped away from the man who would always be his best friend.

It was plain fear of losing him anyway and a fear of what would happen to them if Jared ever figured out the truth that had forced him to shove him away, a fear of the longing and need that Jensen still felt even six years later.

The rumors about them, their ‘friendship’ and what else they might have been, had always been there. From the second season or so Jensen had first begun to hear the whispers online or at conventions that perhaps he and Jared were more than cast mates and best friends on and off set.

At first he’d denied them while Jared had just smirked and shrugged the comments off. It was harder at cons with the appearance of a sub-section of the fandom that liked to believe in things like Wincest or after Misha came the Destiel things.

Jared and Misha were more outgoing at the cons and better able to roll with the punches when those topics came up. It wasn’t as easy for Jensen so he’d learned to rely on Clif or Jared to handle those questions or comments. He just tried to not let on because if he let on then it might be harder to not reveal the truth that he’d managed to hide from everyone but his ex-wife and it was that truth that he’d pushed Jared away from.

Danneel had always known he guessed that his feelings for Jared had passed the casual friendship or brother like best friends that they’d been. She’d never mentioned it until two years after their divorce, a year after the show ended, as they were having a casual lunch to discuss their daughter’s birthday party and finally brought up that he was miserable without Jared and he should just call him and tell him that he loved him.

As much as Jensen had wanted to deny it as he had denied it to himself for so long he finally just couldn’t and had spent the day just talking to the only other person in his life aside from Jared that he could talk to about the feelings, the needs and also the need to protect Jared from ever finding out.

Loving Jared, needing Jared were things that Jensen accepted would never go away but he also couldn’t risk the press finding out and possibly ruining whatever Jared was doing then.

Since the show ended, Jensen had guest starred on a couple shows, did a movie but mainly just looked for that one special part that would make him feel alive again. Of course, he’d begun to understand that his other issue is he didn’t want to act with anyone but Jared and that wasn’t a possibility since according to his agent his former co-star had dropped off the map four years ago after a brief run on a sitcom ended badly.

Jensen had badgered Dani to find out where Jared was or how he was doing but she’d always hedged or said she would call Gen but then never brought the topic up again and his manager had just suggested he worry about his own career.

He enjoyed acting still even though no show or movie would ever fill him with the same joy as Supernatural had and no other co-star would ever get him or understand him the way Jared had so perhaps that was the reason Jensen had slowly begun to look into movie roles while also being lured back for a brief reprise of his first real break on TV as Eric Brady on Days of Our Lives.

The was why he was in front of the cameras now and he decided he disliked press conferences as much as he ever had even if his manager and the daytime show’s producer were answering most of the questions.

Oh, there were a few tossed his way about why he’d want to go back to the Eric Brady role after so long working as Dean Winchester. Could he play Eric still without any of Dean bleeding through…which was something even Jensen was curious about seeing because from the first script he’d read he had laughed at what Dean would have said and done to a few of Salem’s residents.

He’d almost thought the thing with the press would go over without any serious issues of him wanting to pull a Dean Winchester and tear someone’s lungs out. He’d been smiling and shaking hands when an older reporter from one of the better known TV tabloids had stepped up to ask a question that had literally floored him.

It wasn’t unheard of for him to get asked about his other co-stars, especially Jared but this question felt like he’d been punched in the gut. “Come again?”

“Umm, Jensen hasn’t been in touch with most of his old co-stars from Supernatural since the show ended so I’m sure he doesn’t really know what type of life style Mr. Padalecki has moved into,” he agent had been quick to step up when he heard his client’s tone of voice shift from the normal calm, mellow, just barely accented voice to one that was a little too much like his former character’s pissed off tone.

“What did you just say about Jared?” Jensen ignored his agent while focusing his attention on the reporter. “Did I know he’s what?”

The reporter had been one of those who had always thought there was more than friendship between Ackles and Padalecki and had gone out of his way at conventions and in other ways to either prove it or just post something to see if he could get a rise out of one of the young men from Texas.

He’d come to this information through a very reputable source and even went so far as to have the grainy photograph verified as real and not a well-made computer job like had been popping of the stars.

So when given the chance to toss the information and photo into the face of Padalecki’s former co-star and so-called ‘best friend’ he’d jumped at it.

He’d been at other events where Ackles had dodged or by-passed questions that he didn’t like and he’d originally thought that the actor might do the same with his question so it took him a beat as well as a sharp look from piercing green eyes to make him realize that he not only had Jensen’s full attention but he also might have gained his temper as well.

“Umm, what do you have to say about your former Supernatural co-star and friend living destitute on some beach on South Padre Island in Texas?” the man repeated, reaching into his pocket for the grainy photo while Jensen was knocking away hands from security to keep him from moving to the edge of the stage. “Witnesses and my source managed to snap a photo that I’ve verified to be Jared Padalecki living in some shack on a beach selling sand in bottles to tourists,” he arched a bushy brow while offering a smirk. “What do you have to say about how it seems one of you have succeeded while the other…not so much?”

Jensen had to fight the urge to snatch the photo out of the man’s hand as one of the staff at the event handed it to him. “This is…” he had to take a deep breath because while he wanted to deny the photo it was damn hard since it was a clear shot of his friend wearing ragged faded jeans, an old t-shirt that Jensen could remember giving the man for his birthday one year during season five and sandals.

“This is a fake,” he finally replied tightly, wanting to smash the now smiling reporter in his damn face because like many others he’d encountered over his years of acting Jensen remembered the man as the one reporter or camera hound that even Jared had tried to avoid. “Gen…Gen wouldn’t have let this happen to him.”

“Oh, guess you guys weren’t such good buddies then if you also didn’t know that his wife left him a year after the show ended and took their two sons back to Idaho with her,” the reporter, flicked his pen open. “So, can you give me a quote, Mr. Ackles?”

Oh, Jensen could give the man any number of things but he didn’t think his agent, manager or mother would appreciate the words he wanted to use right then. “No, I don’t,” he managed to get out in what he hoped was a steady and calm voice because his chest had a knot in it while his stomach was rolling in huge bitter waves as he left the stage quickly.

“Jensen! Wait up, man,” his agent was calling but Jensen wasn’t waiting. He wanted inside the limo. He wanted away from all the eyes that were watching him in speculation and also away from the sharp whispers that he could still hear and knew by this time tomorrow it would be over every damn paper and tabloid what the little maggot had just tossed out there.

Locking himself inside the back of the limo, Jensen took a closer look at the photo he still had before snatching up his cellphone and hitting speed-dial.

“How did the press conference go?” Danneel asked from the other end while braiding JJ’s hair with ribbons. “Jensen?”

“How long have you known?” he asked quietly, rubbing at the pounding in between his eyes.

“Known what?” it was rare for her ex-husband and still friend to sound this rough or raw so it instantly worried Danneel. “Jensen? What’s wrong? Didn’t the event go well or…”

“The press thing went fine except my agent and the Days producer might be suing me because I think there’s going to be a delay in me starting to shoot the show,” Jensen jerked off his tie and suit jacket. “How long have you known and why didn’t you tell me, Danneel?” he demanded again.

Finishing up with her daughter’s hair, the actress/model/Mom sent her off to play while turning her attention to the clearly pissed off tone Jensen was using. “I can’t tell you something if you don’t tell me what you’re…”

“You and Gen are still friends, Dani! I know you still talk to her and have seen her since the show ended so you aren’t going to tell me that you didn’t know she left Jay and took the boys a year after Supernatural ended!” he snapped, anger now in full sway at her soft ‘oh’. “Damn it! Did she tell you where he is? Does she even know where he is now or what he’s doing? Does she even give a damn that he’s supposed to living on a beach selling sand in a bottle?”

“Oh, God,” Danneel whispered. “That awful little man got to you, didn’t he?”

Jensen had almost been relieved to think that her first exclamation was in shock over how it appeared his friend was living these days but his anger surged at the mention of the reporter because that told him his ex-wife had known everything and hadn’t thought to tell him.

“Yeah, the last part of the Q&A session and he tossed me the question of how do I feel knowing my ex co-star and supposed best friend was destitute and selling bottles on a beach while I’m still living the high life,” he ignored his agent as the man got into the limo before it pulled off. “Of course he had a photo to prove it and by tomorrow that and his words will be all over the damn place. So my question to you is how long have you known and why the hell didn’t anyone tell me?

“Jay’s my damn best friend despite how I made it seem to him when I shoved him away so you had no damn right to not tell me that he lost his wife and his boys right after the show ended and he probably gave her everything to take care of them to avoid the way the press hounded me when you and I split,” Jensen told her, focusing on the photo and how haggard his friend looked then and knowing what his next move would be. “Did…did she say if she knew if he tried to call me or anything?”

He thought to those few calls that he’d avoided and wanted to stab himself in the heart with something sharp as he could imagine what that had looked like to the younger man who had still always worn his heart on his sleeve.

“Jensen,” Danneel sighed while her tone took on the slightly stilted one that it used to whenever he talked about Jared. “This is part of the reason I never told you when I learned about the rumors. Gen and I talked about it when Jared first started becoming depressed. She wondered if perhaps seeing you, talking to you might snap him back but when she suggested that I guess he got angry and said that you’d made the choice to stop being friends.”

“I never said that,” Jensen argued but he stepped back because he could see how it had looked to Jared. “Damn it, you know why I needed to back off. If I hadn’t the press never would’ve left him alone or they would’ve just hounded him about us being…together and I didn’t want that for him.”

“For him or for you?” she tossed back curiously, hearing his sharp breath and knowing she’d hit a nerve. “Honey, I know why you pulled away and I know why you think you pulled away but let’s face it. You pulled away from Jared because you were scared to tell him how you really felt for him…how you still feel for him if by the way you’re gritting your teeth over the phone is any indication.”

Jensen started to argue that it hadn’t been the reason but sighed, scrubbing a hand over his face. She was right and they both knew it. “Losing him over the show not being on air anymore was one thing but…losing Jay if I had told him the truth would have broken me, Dani.

“I could stand to have him mad at me for breaking my promise to still hang out and stuff or to have him think it was all an act during 12 years but I don’t think I could have stood to have him look at me with those damn big eyes and walk away if I told him that I…” he drew off while noticing his agent seemed to be ignoring him as he talked on his own headset telephone to make plans, meetings and other career choices.

A career that Jensen no longer cared about or at least he wouldn’t care about it until he went to find his best friend in person, to see if he couldn’t fix what he’d caused to go horribly wrong.

“I don’t think that’s something you had to worry about because Gen says what started Jared going downhill was that he always said to her that he loved her and the boys but his one biggest regret, aside from the show ending, was never telling you how he felt,” Danneel remarked, already knowing what to expect next. “I guess you won’t be getting JJ this weekend?”

Chances to see his little girl were few and far between if one considered his schedule and Danneel’s but no matter how much he loved his daughter Jensen knew he couldn’t put this off any longer, no matter who he had to disappoint or make angry.

“I’ll get her next weekend or drop by during the week but…I need to go see him, Dani,” he glanced down to realize he’d been rubbing the wrist that he used to wear a leather bracelet on. “This isn’t right and if he needs help then I’ll give it to him…I’ll give him whatever he needs.”

“I think you already have just by going,” Danneel replied, hanging up to glance across the table at the petite black haired young woman who had come to visit since JJ just loved playing with her ‘cousins’. “If he finds out who told that reporter about Jared or who supplied the photograph all I can say is you better move to the highest point of Sun Valley and pray it snows because Jensen will be pissed off more than he is now.”

Genevieve Cortese formerly Padalecki since she’d returned to her maiden name nodded while watching the kids play. “I know but I didn’t know how else to get the information to Jensen and Jared’s too far gone now to know what he needs, Dani” she’d made the choice she had and would take the fall out as it came because she was only too aware of how protective of Jared her friend’s former husband had always been. “Jared needs him and you say he needs Jared so let’s hope they both realize that finally.”

It had taken Jensen several more days to rearrange his schedule, deal with a pissed off manager who had threatened to drop him if he took off to Texas on a pipe dream of playing savior to a man who had obviously not wanted found.

Of course adding the whole get a new manager to the list of things to do once he returned made Jensen’s head ache but he’d felt better after hitting the man in the face for that little rant against his friend.

The producers of Days had been far more understanding, of course Jensen also knew he still had friends there who understood him and he made another note to send his TV Mom several dozen flowers for her help in that regard.

South Padre Island, Texas was a small barrier island off the west coast of the state. It had been years since Jensen had been to the place and it had grown some since his high school days but he was thankful that this visit wasn’t during spring break because he feared finding his friend would be hard enough without thousands of college kids crowding the beaches.

He’d begged and pleaded with his mother to help him make reservations in a quiet beach side condo instead of a hotel since he wanted privacy and he also wanted enough room so that if he could convince Jared to speak with him that the other man wouldn’t feel like he was crowding him.

Even though Supernatural had been over for six years there were still moments when someone would recognize him and it never failed to leave a longing in his heart because even though the show had been hard work, the conventions hurried but exciting, the show and its cast had been his family for so many years and Jensen missed the hell out of it.

But what he missed most was the man he was hoping he could find as he drove over the causeway to enter the tourist town.

Since it was rare for him to take time off for any reason Jensen was also using this as a mini vacation which was his excuse for renting the convertible and not worrying about hiring anyone to follow him around.

Right after Supernatural went off the air as a weekly show to be seen only as repeats Jensen knew Clif had split his time between watching out for him and for Jared and he suspected when their long time bodyguard had mentioned one day that Jared had told him that it was alright to not be there so much that he should’ve gone right to his friend.

They might have had totally different personalities, whereas Jared had always been more outgoing and liked to chat with people and Jensen was the more private, more introverted of the pair but never would Jared just tell Clif to not watch out for him.

The island was still packed with tourists even in late August but Jensen was glad that it wasn’t overly crowded. There were miles of beach to search though he was hoping someone local might be able to give him some help since a 6’4” man that looked like Jared would still stand out, especially if what he’d been told about him selling bottles of sand was true.

He took the time to stop at the condo he’d rented for three weeks though he didn’t plan on being here that long. He checked in with his parents as he’d promised to do when they learned of his sudden trip to the island while he unpacked his bags.

Jensen hadn’t told his folks the full truth behind his sudden decision to visit South Padre but he suspected they had their own suspicions about it because Donna Ackles had always been able to see through his best lies while even his Dad had made a few comments about his sudden decision to put space in his friendship with Jared.

After unpacking, Jensen took a brief stroll on the beach down from the condo with some hope that he’d just stumble upon his friend but after an hour he decided that it wouldn’t be that simple.

Since cooking for himself still wasn’t one of his favorite things to do, Jensen found a nearby seafood place to have dinner.

It was a small sized place compared to others on the island but the staff was friendly and after about an hour he decided to approach the owner, an older man with long white hair and his wife, to ask if they’d ever heard of someone matching Jared’s description.

Jensen hadn’t used the photo he still had that the damn reporter had shown him. Instead he slid a photo Jared from one of the last official conventions they’d attended the last year before the show’s finale aired.

“This is probably six or so years old so he might look different now but…I was told he was living on the island somewhere,” he stated when the couple just looked at the photo for a long time before eyeing him with more caution.

“You don’t look like the snoopy reporter type to me, son,” the old man finally spoke, rubbing a hand under his grizzled white beard as if considering Jensen better. “I’ll tell you the same thing I told that other man if you’re here to bother that boy and cause him more pain then you can turn around and just leave.”

Moving quickly to step in front of the man, Jensen shook his head. “No, no. I’m not a reporter or from any newspaper or tabloid or anything like that,” he assured them, digging into his wallet for a photo of both of them together. “My name is Jensen Ackles. Jay…Jared and I used to work together on a TV show. We were friends…” he paused to rephrase that. “We are friends but I…messed up and lost touch with him and didn’t realize he’d moved down here or anything until I was told. Now I’m trying to find him.”

Pete and Stella Spalling were lifelong residents of South Padre and had been since they’d moved here as high school newlyweds in 1959 so they’d seen a lot of people come and go but none had touched them on a personal level as the boy who’d come to their island five years ago that winter.

They’d never had kids of their own so they always made sure to look after the new arrivals who seemed to need looking after and Stella had known right off the first day she’d seen the boy sitting on the beach down from their dock that he was more lost than others.

“You call him…Jay,” Stella had caught that right off as she took a better look at the photo of this young man and a boy who certainly did resemble their Jared except there was more joy and happiness in his eyes in the photo than she’d ever seen him portray now except for the one time he’d been reading a newspaper and something had caught his eye that made him laugh.

“It’s…his nickname or at least what I call him,” Jensen admitted, thinking that he actually couldn’t recall Jared letting anyone else call him that except for Jensen. “His name is Jared…Jared Padalecki and I really want to find him. I swear that I’m not here to hurt him and if he has been hurt by anyone I’ll do my best to help him.”

The older couple exchanged glances before Pete motioned back to Jensen’s seat by the bar. “You who he talked about when he first got here?” he asked, pouring himself a drink of scotch but giving the boy coffee.

“I…I don’t know,” Jensen didn’t want to say too much since he wasn’t sure of his friend’s standing in the close knit community.

Stella had disappeared to come back with an old newspaper. “He can’t keep much with him since that damn shack is hardly fit for crabs or rodents to live in much less a human being and I don’t see how he fits since he’s so damn tall,” she laid the paper on the bar to point out an article that had been circled. “This is one of the few times I’d seen that boy really smile or laugh. You’re his Jensen I’m betting.”

Looking at the paper, Jensen felt his lips curve at the article that had been printed when the rumors of his return to daytime TV had first started circulating and since he’d always sworn never to return to the show he was certain what had made his friend laugh.

“Yeah, that’s me,” he confirmed, looking up at the couple. “He asked you to keep this?”

“This and anything else Stella comes across regarding you in the paper or movie magazines,” Pete nodded, watching this boy, anyone younger than sixty was a boy to him, and watched his rugged lean face soften as he took this news in. “He comes in once or twice a week for a meal if he makes enough and if not Stella goes out to leave a basket of goodies to last him since that boy can be a bit stubborn about accepting charity or help.”

That made Jensen’s eyes lift, a deeper frown coming back. “Makes enough?” he repeated, still not understanding how the hell Jared could have lost all his fortune. Even giving a good bit to Gen for alimony and child support for the boys still would have left him money and then there was still royalties coming in. “What do you mean?”

“When Jared first came to the island he barely had forty dollars in his pocket, the clothes on his back and a small suitcase of trinkets that he said were things he couldn’t leave behind when he left his old life behind after his wife took their sons and left him because he was depressed and not working like he could have been,” Stella replied sadly, beginning to make several thick cold cut sandwiches as well as some tuna and lobster meat ones. “I found him sitting on the dock one night and got him to come home with me that night because we were having a cold spell and I could tell he’d been coughing again.”

“Coughing?” that caught Jensen’s attention because for as long as he’d known Jared his friend could come down with a cold, the flu, bronchitis or whatever by just looking at someone who was sick on set.

There wasn’t a winter or cold season in 12 years that Jared hadn’t come down with something or another and it had usually fallen to Jensen to nurse his co-star back to health; mainly because Jared was a bad patient and even when he got married Jensen had lost count of the times Gen would call him if they were on break so he could tell his friend to stop being a baby and take the damn cough medicine no matter if it wasn’t the right flavor.

“Oh, I swear that boy gets sick every time the weather changes, but only once was it bad enough that Pete had to drag him into the ER. That was the time about three years ago I think when he got pneumonia after staying out too long into the night gathering sand for his bottles and then he got soaking wet rescuing a pup that someone had dumped into the water,” Stella shook her head while wrapping the food up to place it in a basket and eyeing Jensen to see a muscle twitch in his jaw. “I thought we’d lose him that time. He recovered but he’s never quite regained his strength so he mostly stays up by the old shack a friend of Pete’s owns and lets Jared stay there.”

The more Jensen learned the less he liked it and the more he hated himself for letting it get this bad all because he was too much of a coward to face the truth earlier. “Umm, sand?” he had to ask.

“Oh!” Stella’s face lit up while even Pete grinned a little as his wife reached above the bar to take down two typical looking glass bottles with cork stoppers but yet as Jensen looked he realized both were filled with varying color sands in different patterns that looked artistically layered and very fancy. “He’s good with his hands when it comes to pounding a nail or painting but he mostly enjoys creating different color sands to put in these bottles,” she handed one to Jensen so he could get a better look. “The first time I complimented him on the one you’re holding I thought his face would explode from how wide he smiled.”

“He sells them to tourists to make money to eat but mostly he keeps the pup in food and warm blankets and does without for himself,” Pete eyed Jensen again. “You ask me, that boy’s lonely and looking for something that he just can’t find around here. You here to help him find that something?”

The old man was shrewd but also a good judge of character. He’d picked up a good hunch on what Jared was missing from the boy’s second month on the island and also the few things he’d mumbled while fevered. Now he was trying to judge if this new arrival would help or hurt and he was a bit harder to pin down.

“If he’ll let me then I’ll give him whatever I can,” Jensen replied while meeting the old man’s eyes calmly, knowing he was being measured and didn’t mind.

This pleasant couple had clearly taken his friend under their wing as much as Jared would let them. Now it was Jensen’s turn to step up to the plate again and fix what he’d so blindly allowed to happen when he’d hurt his friend however unintentionally.

“Then you’ll do well to take this basket of sandwiches up to him,” Stella placed some bottles of water, some first aid supplies, a jar of pickles, some treats for the pup as well as a bag that Jensen could tell contained his friend’s favorite candy. “Pete can draw you a map to that old shack but it’s due to rain before the morning so I do wish you’d ask him to come back to our place to sleep. When I saw him the other day he was looking tired and sounded like he had that damn congestion back in his chest again so it’s only one bad night when he’ll make himself sick again.”

Taking the basket, Jensen smiled. “I’ll make sure he’s warm and out of the rain, ma’am,” he promised as he’d already decided that he’d do whatever it took to get Jared to return to the condo with him if only for a night so they could talk.

“I hope you like dogs because he won’t go anywhere without that dog that he still calls a pup even though it’s finally growing into its feet,” Pete snorted, drawing a crude map on a piece of paper. “It’s a good watch dog for him though. Jared had a run in with a few rich kids down here on Spring break last year. One of the punks jumped him and gave him a good cut on his side but then good ole Dean jumped the punk and tore a chunk outta his fancy jacket.”

“Dean?” Jensen felt that same lump in his throat as he heard what his friend had named his dog before simply smiling. “Yeah, I happen to like dogs and Jay’s pretty much always had one so I’ll be okay and so will he.”

Taking the basket and map, Jensen realized the so-called shack was clear up on a rocky section of beach several miles from his condo and also one hell of a walk for Jared to get into town if he wanted to.

He drove as far as he could before pulling his rental off the road, putting the top up and locking the car to continue on foot after leaving his shoes behind in the car since he hadn’t thought to wear sandals. He also rolled the sleeves of his shirt up to his elbows before picking the basket up and heading off up the beach.

The night sky was clear right then with a full moon shining and stars out to light his way as he walked. Slowly Jensen realized how quiet and peaceful this section of beach was. It was too out of the way for most tourists to just stumble on and probably too rocky with too much tide for the locals so it must be empty except for a former actor and his dog.

Shifting the basket to his other hand, Jensen eyed the uneven sandy ground as the rocks began to creep up so he had to watch his footing as he heard the sounds of barking off in the distance as well as a voice that he knew he’d never forget.

Jared’s Texas accent didn’t always come out unless he was tired or sick but yet Jensen heard it now as he walked around a series of large rocks to see a fluffy but large dog that appeared at this distance to be part German Shepard and part hairball but was drew Jensen’s attention was actually his friend.

He’d seen the changes in Jared from the photo but as he drew closer to use the light of the moon it felt surreal to be standing just feet away from where Jared knelt on the beach throwing a stick for the dog while carefully picking up discarded bottles that had washed up on shore from the tide and also running his hand through the dry patches of sand.

Jared had always been healthy looking and he almost always had longer hair than Jensen but now the soft long dark hair that nearly every hairdresser on set had loved to mess with appeared longer than normal and stringy as the scruff of a several days old beard could also be seen.

The black V-neck t-shirt had seen better days as had the ragged jeans that had holes in the knees and the cut off cuffs frayed from too much use as Jensen realized those were the very jeans he’d watched Jared buy with his first paycheck from Supernatural.

Setting the basket down on a flat rock near a bag that seemed to be where the bottles were going it took Jensen several heart wrenching moments before he moved. It had been six years since they’d seen one another or spoken and so much had obviously changed for both of them but as he looked closer to watch as the fluffy mix of a dog brought the stick back and Jared wrapped his arms around its neck to rub his face in the fur Jensen still could see the boy inside the man Jared had always been no matter what the situation.

The dog sensed him first as Jared’s attention had gone to picking up another bottle that had washed up in the rising tide but instead of growl or bark like Jensen had thought the dog would do it merely sat there to watch him curiously as if sensing that he wasn’t a threat to its owner.

Taking a deep breath to settle the nerves that he suddenly realized he had, Jensen stepped fully onto the section of beach. There was so much he wanted to say all at once that he finally settled on the most right thing that came to mind.


Jensen heard the shake in his own voice and for a moment feared it had been so long and whatever had caused him to come to South Padre that his friend might not remember him but as Jared slowly shifted on his knees to look up immediately at both the voice and the use of his nickname Jensen watched the surprise filter over that scruff covered face before the smile slowly came.



Chapter Text

Chapter Two

Jared started to stand up when he was suddenly taken back to his knees with a heavy coughing fit that reminded him that he’d been out in the night air again too long.

“Jared?” strong fingers gripping his bicep kept him steady while he worked through the coughing spasm until he could finally shake the hair out of his face to stare into the worried green eyes and still handsome face of the man who had once been his best friend, the man who would have known what to do when the trouble started, the man he never thought he’d see again.

“You’re…real,” his voice was rough, raspy from not really using it except to talk to the dog or the few tourists who approached him so when he spoke now it was like hearing his own voice for the first time in a long time.

When he’d first heard his name called and had looked to see Jensen standing there it was like a partial flashback to any other time he might have been doing something in the back lot in Vancouver before or in between shoots and had gotten distracted until his friend had come looking for him.

It had never occurred to Jared that he might actually be seeing and hearing his former co-star until he felt the strength in the hand that caught his arm and kept him from falling forward and until he also felt the light touch of fingers combing back through his hair like Jensen had always done.

“God, you’re burning up, Jay” Jensen had gone to his knees the moment he felt the fever under the fingers that touched Jared’s skin. “How long have you been sick and if you’re sick why’re you out in the middle of the night on the beach as the tide’s coming in?”

“You have to be real. My dreams don’t usually come with that particular tone,” Jared remarked once he could speak again as his chest ached and he was suddenly reminded that he might have missed a couple doses of cough and congestion medication in the day.

“What tone is that exactly?” Jensen asked, easing more to the side so the hand that wasn’t supporting Jared could go around and begin to rub light circles along his back as he used to whenever his friend got one of these severe coughs. “A jacket would have been nice tonight too.”

“Sure but that got stolen the first week I was here and…I never got another one,” Jared shrugged, feeling himself lean more against the hard body he could feel even if he still wasn’t one hundred percent certain it was real yet. “Ahh, oh the tone when you’re just on the verge of being snarky but more worried you got that tone that you use and usually when I dream or hallucinate you your voice is more…disappointed.”

Jensen used the dog coming up to bump against him to have the excuse to look away from his friend’s sad but also glassy eyes while closing his own eyes against the burning he felt there. “I’d never be disappointed in you Jared” he replied thickly, coughing to clear his voice. “How about letting me help you up and get you inside someplace where it’s warm?”

“My…my place is just a little ways over there,” Jared pointed while attempting to reach for the bag of bottles and sand he’d been gathering that night but found he didn’t have the strength to pick it up. “Shit,” he swore but then blinked as he was pulled to his feet and steadied while his friend swung the bags over his other shoulder and picked up a basket. “Huh. When did you get stronger than me?”

“I’m not but it looks like you couldn’t pick up a grain a sand right now much less a bag full of it,” Jensen returned with just a touch of casual sarcasm, something that was normal between them before but now he caught the way Jared’s eyes dropped. “Jay, you’re sick, dude. Lean on me and let’s get you and…what exactly is this ball of fluff?”

The still growing puppy pounced around Jensen’s bare feet as he worked to steady Jared while carrying everything else. It still had huge paws, was a mix of yellow and black with a little white under its chin and a huge tongue that kept reaching out to lick Jared’s fingers until he scratched its head.

“Umm, I think it’s part golden retriever and part Saint Bernard or at least that’s what some tourist who’s a Vet said one day after I rescued him from the ocean when some dumbass tossed it out of a car on the bridge,” Jared’s tone could still go outraged at the thought of anyone harming an animal. “His name is…you’ll laugh but its Dean.”

“Why would I laugh?” Jensen didn’t find anything funny about the dog’s name because he also understood that sometime in 12 years parts of their characters had managed to rub off onto their own personalities.

By the end of the first month of shooting Supernatural Jensen had just seemed to automatically take some responsibility for Jared much like Dean had for Sam so it was normal for him to still think like that which also gave him another dose of guilt because not only had Jared lost the close bond their characters had shared on screen but he’d also lost what he thought was their closer than brothers bond in real life.

“Of course I’m not sure what Dean would say about it since he and dogs weren’t exactly best friends,” he went on to lighten the heaviness he could feel coming on, feeling a shaking hand clinging to him for strength as a small rundown little building came into view and Stella Spalling’s opinion of the ‘shack’ now made sense.

“He’s not a Yorkie,” Jared retorted which was their joke because it seemed like Jensen’s character was always running afoul of those little dogs. “Umm, it’s not much and you might have to duck so…”

Getting closer, Jensen could see that the shack was literally that. An old shack probably used to house fishing supplies or something but it sure couldn’t have been used to live in which brought two questions to mind instantly. “How do you stand up in it then if I might have to duck?” he asked and then immediately asked his second question. “Does it even have heat?”

“When I have wood or something to burn it does,” Jared motioned to the small wood burner that could be seen through the cracked window. “It doesn’t usually get cold enough to need heat but it’s damp and…”

“And you’re cold when you’re sick anyway,” Jensen finished with a fond smile, just sitting the bags, the basket and Jared all down on what should have been a porch but was more like a stoop. “Jay? Do you have anything for that cough?”

Trying to rub a hand over his face to wake himself up Jared had to think a second before nodding. “Yeah, Mrs. Spalling brought me some cough medicine over and I still had some pills from last year when I got bronchitis but I try not to take those unless I…” a bad coughing spasm came on again and only Jensen’s hands on his shoulders kept the taller man from pitching forward.

“Uh-huh,” running his tongue over his teeth, Jensen took in the poorly built structure that honestly looked like a strong wind would knock it over before stepping inside the cramped shack that had a small wood burner that looked too dangerous to use, a broken down sing bed too small to fit his friend’s 6’4” frame, a tiny ice chest and hotplate with a single suitcase as well as nice warm blankets for the puppy. “Damn,” he breathed.

He saw the bottle of cough medicine and bottle of pills sitting on top the suitcase before making a decision that may or may not get him punched in the face.

“Okay, so here’s how we’re playing this tonight,” he tossed the medication into the suitcase since he could tell just by the way it was sitting that this was what Jared would insist on having with him while also noticing a few items of clothing that he snatched up along with the leash for the puppy. “Come back to the condo I rented for tonight so you can get warm and be dry. I promised Mrs. Spalling that I’d make sure you weren’t out if it rained like she seems to think it will.”

“It’ll be raining by the morning,” Jared nodded, hand rubbing absently over his side. “This scar hurts when it’s going to rain so she’s right but…” he paused to rub his chest as if trying to push back the pain building there as it tightened. “I…I’m fine here. I don’t want to bother you or be in your…”

Jensen stepped back out to kneel down so their eyes met. “We shared an apartment for how long? You could never be in my way or bother me,” he replied, slipping his hand down to lift the hanging head back up. “Jay, I came down here for you.”

That seemed to both startle and confuse the younger man but then he was coughing too hard to speak. “…Why?” he managed to get out, jerking at the unexpected touch of a firm hand pressing over his chest as Jensen rubbed slowly until some of the coughing eased off so Jared could breath. “Why come looking for me now, Jensen?” he asked in between gasps, trying not to give in to the comforting touch but it was so hard after being alone and missing his friend for so long.

Jared hated being sick. He always had but these days it was worse because now when he was sick it was harder to get over it as fast as he once had and when he was this sick it gave him too much time to think, to remember the good days.

He would think back to his parents, the family he also hadn’t seen in more than five years. He thought of the sons he would always love as much as he had on the day Gen had given birth to each of them. He missed Gen’s laugh and the way she could make him laugh but most of all and the thing Jared hated the most when he was this sick…he missed Jensen.

He missed his best friend. He missed just talking or hanging out with him. He missed the natural way Jensen always seemed to know what to do or what to say to make things better but Jared had finally accepted when things went wrong and he knew it was best to disappear that he’d lost that because even if Jensen hadn’t decided to cut their friendship off he would have if Jared had ever told him the truth. Now it would be even worse.

However the brutal coughing that had been getting worse, the fever that had spiked that night as well as just being so damn tired finally made Jared give in as he let himself lean against the shoulder that had once always been there for him.

“I’m so damn tired, Jen,” he murmured, letting his eyes close for just a moment while a solid arm wrapped around his shoulders and the warm puppy cuddled against his leg. “I just want to sleep but it’s hard to sleep with my chest so tight and…”

“That’s why you’re coming back to my car and we’re going to get you and Dean here settled into bed at the condo I rented so you can sleep where it’s warm and you can be propped up so all that crap doesn’t settle while we get it broke loose,” Jensen told him calmly while wondering how in the how he was going to get them all back to where he’d parked his rental car. “Can you walk back to the car?”

“Yeah, I think so,” Jared still wasn’t sure if this was real or why his friend was there. “Jen, why are you here?” he asked again as he felt himself steadied until he could stand to walk on his own.

“I don’t suppose this could wait until you get some sleep and can talk to me without having to pause to breathe?” Jensen knew it couldn’t because while Jared had a huge heart he also tended to be fairly wary once that trust was dented and Jensen understood his trust in him right then would be more than dented. “I came here for you.”

The puppy trotted ahead of them as Jensen kept a strong grip of Jared’s arm while also bringing alone the basket of food and the suitcase. They had to stop every few yards so Jared could regain his breath and after one nasty coughing fit Jensen was about ready to leave the other things so he could get Jared to the car but it subsided enough so that they made it back to the car.

“Yeah, you said that before,” Jared was tired, more tired than he’d been in a long time but fought the urge to give into the welcome bliss of a sleep where he could relax until he got an answer that satisfied him. “Why?”

He leaned Jared against the car while he unlocked the door to the passenger side. Jensen knew what he wanted to say but wasn’t sure if his friend was awake or alert enough to take the straight truth in right at that moment but as he felt cold shaking fingers wrap around his wrist he sighed. “Why did I come here for you?”

“It’s been six years, Jensen. I could’ve understood it better if you would’ve given me an actual reason why you pulled away or why we stopped being friends or if you told me what I did to piss you off to make you…umm,” Jared drew off to give himself a chance to decide if this was real or a part of his fevered mind as Jensen moved to place his hands flat against the side of the convertible and also bracketing Jared in.

Jared had once known every facial expression or move or tone of voice Jensen had and what each one meant but as he watched the lean face now in the moonlight he was a little confused by the varying emotions he could see flickering there and in glittering green eyes.

“You thought you did something to piss me off?” Jensen hadn’t even considered that until now and shook his head. “God, you didn’t do anything to make me mad and we never stopped being friends, Jared. I know what it looked like and I know I was a bastard but…I had reasons for stepping back,” he sighed. “Not very good ones it seems now and I’ll never be able to take back the hurt I caused you or for making you think you couldn’t call me if you were in trouble or whatever happened to make you disappear like you did.

“When the show ended it was hard to adjust to not working with you every day and having to get used to being me instead of Dean Winchester so much but the main reason I pulled back, why I needed to give you space was because I was too damn scared of losing you if I told you something that I probably should’ve back in season six really,” Jensen didn’t like the glassy look in the hazel eyes that were trying to blink while watch him but took a chance when he slowly moved his hands from the car to Jared’s waist and knew immediately that his friend had lost weight. “Will you remember this when you wake up?”

Right then odds were fifty/fifty that he would but something in Jensen’s eyes as well as the different feel of his touch was making Jared’s chest tighten for another reason other than the possible pneumonia he feared he might have again. “Possibly,” he admitted, pressing himself back against the car but chewed his lip when Jensen just stepped closer to there was no space between them and Jared feared his body might betray the secret he’d been fighting for close to eighteen years to keep. “Jensen? What…?”

“Love you, Jay,” Jensen replied quietly, seeing the surprise in widening eyes a second before he decided to just take a chance by reaching up to press his lips against lips that had parted in Jared’s shock. “I love you and that’s why I came for you because I’m tired of hiding it and…”

He wasn’t expecting a response to his confession or to the kiss right then because as understood it took Jared time to process things that he might not be expecting. Of course Jensen also wasn’t expecting to have to shift his weight to quickly catch his friend as he went limp finally when he passed out.

“If he was healthy and did this I would never let him live it down,” Jensen muttered while managing to support Jared while opening the door to get him inside before nodding to the backseat for the dog. “You sit back here,” he told the happy looking puppy before putting everything else in the trunk and then getting behind the wheel to drive back to the condo with serious hopes that the rattle he could hear in his friend’s chest did not land them in the ER.

When consciousness began to return it left Jared Padalecki wishing that it hadn’t because he found that aside from his whole body aching his head felt like it was pounding off his shoulders, his chest was tight and he couldn’t take more than a shallow breath without it feeling like it wanted to close up and as he tried to swallow his tongue felt dry and his throat was on fire.

Of course all of that was good in comparison to the horrible smell assaulting his nose right then but as his hand went to weakly move to try to bat it away a familiar grip caught his wrist to hold his hand flat to soft sheets that also told the young Texan that this was not his bed. Then some of his bleary memories started returning and he stilled.

“Lay still and don’t make faces because if you think it smells bad now you should have smelled that rub a few days ago when I put it on you.”

Jensen sounded as raw and worn out as Jared felt but he didn’t have the strength to open his eyes right then so he just followed the advice and laid still but still wrinkled his nose in disgust.

“Do you mind if I ask where a city boy like you learned to make a mustard/eucalyptus pack like you did?” Stella Spalling asked from where she stood adjusting the amout of steam in the humidifier Jensen had bought a few days earlier. “The doctors nowadays wouldn’t know about one of those.”

“My mother still has a book of old remedies from my grandmother and great-grandmother so when I realized how bad his chest sounded and before I resorted to the ER I called her,” Jensen only moved his hand once he was certain Jared would stay still and then he shifted from where he sat on the king size bed to offer the older woman a tired smile. “Thanks for coming. I’m afraid I panicked when it looked like he couldn’t breathe and was gasping so much.”

Stella just smiled, finally happy with the settings on the machine to come back closer to take in the array of over the counter medication the boy had bought over the last few days. She had to admit that whatever Jensen was doing was working since Jared’s color was coming back and while his breathing was still labored he didn’t sound as bad as he had the first day she’d stepped into the condo, the morning after Jensen had brought his friend home.

Being a nurse for the better part of her life gave the older woman an eye and an ear for certain things but to be sure and to reassure the worried boy she’d brought along old Doc Thomas who was eighty if he was a day but still made house calls and had a practice on South Padre when he wasn’t out fishing.

“He’ll probably still hold onto that cough and have some trouble until that nasty congestion from the bronchitis and chest cold he got leaves him,” she assured Jensen, noticing the dark circles under his eyes as well as the faint scruff from a day or so without shaving but she wouldn’t think of suggesting he go get some sleep or shave while she was here checking on Jared because Pete had done that the second day and it had been the last time anyone ever thought that Jensen would take more than five steps away from Jared’s bed so long as he was still fevered and sick. “When did his fever break?” she asked, relieved that it had.

“This morning around six,” Jensen replied, wincing as he went to move only to feel something in his back crack to remind him that he’d been sitting in nearly the same position for more than three days and it might take letting the rambunctious dog jumping on his back to get all the kinks out of it.

In all the years they’d filmed together there had only been one other time that Jared had been sick enough that he crashed hard for more than a day and that was because they’d just met and Jensen hadn’t known him well enough to see the warning signs of sickness until a late night of shooting ended abruptly when Jared started coughing and didn’t stop until three days later.

Coughs, chills, sneezing were all things that Jensen had learned to deal with. The two things he still hated and feared to see was when his friend came down with a fever or when his chest got congested enough that his breathing was so hard.

The first night after Jensen had gotten Jared out of the car, into the condo and into bed told him that this was going to be one of those times when by the time Jared was feeling better they’d both be put through the ringer because while Jared suffered through the sickness Jensen suffered through it right with him and hardly ever left him.

The Spallings’ had been wonderful as Stella was a nurse and between her and the cranky but happy old doctor they’d both assured Jensen that while his friend was sick this was nothing compared to how Jared had been a few years earlier when the pneumonia nearly claimed his life and had left him so susceptible to illness now.

They came nearly once or twice a day since learning that Jensen had gotten Jared home with him but that he was sicker than he’d been letting on.

Pete took care of Dean who enjoyed romping on the beach or through the condo when he wasn’t chewing on something such as the single pair of good shoes Jensen brought with him while Stella looked over Jensen’s shoulder before seeing that the boy knew what he was doing. Then she started watching over Jensen who tended to forget to sleep or eat while his friend was this sick.

Jensen hoped with the fever breaking that Jared would be waking up soon even though that left him more nervous than he’d been since the first night of finally seeing his best friend face to face.

He wasn’t certain how much of the other night Jared might recall and while he hoped he remembered the last thing he said it also left Jensen uneasy about how his friend would take what he’d said as well as the awkward kiss that had not come close to how Jensen had actually thought that moment might happen and hoped he might have a second chance.

Right then he just wanted to see his friend’s eyes open and would take the rest as it came.

“Well, if it broke this morning and he’s starting to move a little then he should be waking up this afternoon or this evening,” she figured, rubbing a hand over rigid shoulders to still feel the boy’s worry. “You took real good care of him. He hasn’t been near as restless for you as he was that other time or any time he’s gotten sick. I swear that one time he was constantly moving and always asking for…well, I guess you know who he asked for.”

“I’d like to say his wife but…it was almost never Gen he asks for when he gets sick like this,” Jensen went to move to get a bottle of ice water for when Jared did wake up but it was placed in his hand by the older woman whose eyes were kind as she watched him. “We filmed 12 years of TV together. We were at each other’s weddings, the birth of our children and he was there when I got divorced. I was almost always the one by him when he got sick on set so…this is just natural for me…for us.”

“You just make sure to take care of yourself as well as him so you don’t get yourself sick,” she advised, patting his face in a motherly gesture as her smile widened. “Of course he doesn’t have anything contagious so you don’t have to worry about being too close,” she winked while gathering her purse.

“Pete and I’ll be back tonight to bring some soup and some food. That so-called puppy of doom should be played out so you better take the time to shower and rest some before he wakes up because that’s usually when he’s especially fun to deal with,” Stella laughed, letting herself out of the condo after making certain Dean wasn’t into anything and locking the door behind her.

Jensen sat still to just watch Jared’s face to see the slightest movement under his eyelids and that told him he’d be waking up soon and that if he wanted to splash water on his face and shave quickly then he’d better do it now because he knew Stella was correct.

Jared could be restless while sleeping but it was when he first woke up after being sick that he could really try a saints patience and Jensen was far from a saint at the best of times.

The condo had two bedrooms since that had been what Jensen thought would be best until he and Jared had a chance to talk but he’d just automatically put his sick friend in the bigger of the two so now as he stepped into the bathroom to wash his face with ice water to wake up and to take away the three days of scruff he left the door open so he could still see and hear if Jared should wake up.

Splashing water on his face, Jensen stared at his own face with a smirk and knew right then he looked about as bad as Jared had the other night but quickly shaved so all he’d have to do was change shirts since this one had gotten dirty in his process of changing both Jared and the bed after the fever broke this morning.

That also brought another interesting issue up to Jensen since his friend had needed wiped down and changed after the fever broke and while it wasn’t the first time he’d had to wipe Jared off if he’d been sick and it wasn’t the first time that being close to Jared like that had affected him it was the first time that Jensen had ever allowed himself to look and wonder about the long still tanned but obviously not well taken care of body of his best friend.

A single look from that first night told Jensen that Jared had lost a lot of weight as well as some of his muscle. As he looked back out it actually reminded him of how pale and sickly his friend had allowed himself to look for the season 8 finale and that truly worried Jensen because it had worried him then as well even if he then spent months harping on Jared to eat better.

The few outfits of clothes he’d grabbed that night were as worn and ragged as what Jared had on so Jensen had offered Stella money to go buy the younger man a few new pairs of jeans, some shirts, socks, underwear and other essentials but she’d refused his money and had gone and returned with several bags of clothes that he now worried might be too big on his friend.

He’d been so worried about Jared that he hadn’t allowed himself to think too much on what had happened to cause this to become his friend’s life. Even though Pete had gone back to bring some bottles and sand by and saying that Jared would want the stuff as soon as he was strong enough.

If Jensen had his way and could convince the other man to talk to him, to trust him, to believe him then Jared wouldn’t be in need of either the bottles or the sand because he planned on taking him home. The only problem was Jensen honestly didn’t know where home was these days much less where Jared might think home to be.

A soft groan from the bedroom had him wiping his face free of water and soap after his quick shave to step in to see Jared’s eyes had finally worked themselves open and was watching him as if unsure of what to say or do.

“Hey, Jay” Jensen was careful when he stepped out of the bathroom because he remembered only too well how uneasy Jared could get when first waking up, especially if he didn’t remember too much. “Don’t move too much right away. You’re going to be weak.”

Jared agreed with that since he could hardly lift his head much less a hand but he was still wrinkling his nose at the smell before figuring out whatever it was seemed to be slathered on his chest. “Where…?” he started to ask only to groan as his head ached at his voice and his throat felt like burning sandpaper.

“The condo I rented for a few weeks on the beach here on South Padre,” Jensen quickly crossed the room to sit on the edge of the bed, careful to slip a few more pillows under his friend to keep him propped up to relieve the pressure of his chest congestion. “Want a sip of water?” he asked while reaching for the bottle to place a straw in it. “It’ll help soothe your throat plus you’re probably dehydrated so just sip it slowly.”

Knowing he was too weak to even attempt to hold the bottle, Jared just tried to lift his head a little to manage a few small sips before letting it fall back to the bed with a groan. “How long?” he asked after swallowing a couple times.

“Since you passed out on me? Three days,” Jensen set the bottle back on the nightstand to automatically reach for the digital thermometer to run it across Jared’s forehead, letting out a sigh of relief to find it almost normal and then offering a small grin at the dry look he was getting. “Hey, you were burning up for a while there so don’t give me that look. You still have a lot of congestion so you probably won’t be moving around too much until that breaks but…there’s plenty of stuff to do here or Pete brought some bottles and a bunch of sand and stuff he said you’d want when you woke up and…”

Jared had been worried that he was still dreaming or hallucinating again but as he lay back on the mound of pillows that kept him propped up so he wouldn’t be flat and he heard the beginning of a mindless ramble he knew this was real because Jensen only lost his smoothness and rambled when he was nervous or worried.

“Jen,” he spoke in a voice that still reminded Jared that it had been a long time since he’d spoken in more than a simple sense. “Have…you slept?”

The answer was plain to Jared even without to all too familiar dry look. He could tell by the deep shadows, the way his friend’s short dark blond hair was in spikes as he’d run his fingers through it nervously and the rawness that meant Jensen had probably been talking non-stop even while Jared was sleeping that the other man hadn’t slept at all or very little.

“When did I sleep if you were really sick?” Jensen countered, eyeing the clock on the wall to see when the next dose of medicine was needed.

“A few times,” Jared returned, feeling a bit better he knew if he could talk this long without coughing plus he found it relaxing to just hear Jensen’s voice again so he’d go with it and not mention that his friend was hovering.

That was hard to argue since Jensen knew he did used to sneak a few naps in while Jared had been sleeping but never if it was just the two of them. “I only took little naps and that was only if I knew Jim or Misha or Clif or someone was on set that would also check on you if I did fall to sleep too soundly. There was no one here for me to do that so I think I’ve had enough coffee and caffeine that my eyes won’t shut for a decade.”

“Stella and Pete were probably here,” Jared offered, still tired so he’d let his eyes drift shut until the second he felt the light brush of fingers stroking back through his hair before settling on his face to open them again and see that crooked little smile that always could make him smile.

“Okay, let me rephrase that. There was no one here that I know well enough to trust you with for me to take a quick nap,” Jensen remarked as their eyes slowly met and he felt something he couldn’t discern tightening in his chest. “Do you want to try some broth since anything more solid than chicken noodle soup is out for at least another day or…Jared?”

Memories of the night on the beach, the night that Jensen had come, were still vivid in Jared’s mind even if he was a little leery on trusting his last memory because those were the too good to be true ones. “You’re really here, Jen?” he asked while reaching his hand weakly up only to feel it grasped and held tightly.

“Didn’t we settle this the other night on the beach?” Jensen smiled, fighting to cover the building nerves. “Do you remember that night, Jay?” he asked, debating on getting into this now or waiting until his friend was more awake and stronger.

“I remember being on the beach with Dean hunting bottles and the right kind of sand and then I remember hearing your voice while thinking I’d let myself get too sick again because I was hallucinating you,” Jared glanced at the hand holding his as he shifted it until their palms were pressing together.

“Do that a lot?” Jensen asked carefully, using his other hand to keep pushing back the unruly too long hair when it kept falling into his friend’s still pale face.

Settling back against the pillows more, Jared moved his gaze to watch his former co-star’s face as they talked because no matter how stoic or straight faced Jensen could be on stage or in public when it was just the two of them Jared had always been able to see through the looks to see the things that his friend didn’t always let show.

Including little things that maybe Jensen hadn’t even been aware that he might have portrayed. Things that had given Jared hope that his own secret might not have been so one sided…until the day at the airport happened and that was the start of the bad times.

Now that he did recall the other night and the last words he’d heard his friend say before the fever and sickness took him under he felt the return of that hope but would come to it slowly in case he had just dreamed that part. “I think I did when I was a little sick a year or so ago,” he hedged to avoid telling Jensen just how bad he had been in case Stella hadn’t let that slip but he suspected by the arched brow and tiny smirk that his friend already knew about the pneumonia and how bad it had been so he just went on. “Even before that though I’d still talk to you like you were here with me…it made it not so lonely when I moved here.”

“I’m so damn sorry I let you think what you have all these years or that you couldn’t come to me, Jay” Jensen murmured, kicking himself for letting this happen all out of his own pride and fear but before he got into that he needed to know if Jared recalled the last moment from the other night. “Is…that all you can remember?”

In a lot of ways a lot of Jared’s habits when he was nervous, sick or scared reminded Jensen of a little boy because Jared’s face and huge eyes were a window to his soul and anything he felt was reflected there.

So as he watched as long dark lashes lowered to try to hide his eyes and Jared chewed his bottom lip while his fingers began to twist the thin blanket nervously Jensen knew he remembered his words. “Jay? Look at me, please.”

“Did you mean what you said?” Jared asked but still kept his head and eyes lowered out of fear of not seeing what he hoped he would, breath nearly stopping as the bed shifted as Jensen moved closer and Jared felt warm breath caressing over his face and his fingers went tight on the blanket when lips hovered close to his ear.

“Yes,” Jensen whispered, not moving or doing anything else as his lips curved slowly but went on speaking while keeping his lips near Jared’s ear. “I meant when I said that I’d come down here for you and…” he paused to gently turn Jared’s face toward him, their faces so close that he could feel the short breaths his friend was taking. “…and I meant when I said…I love you, Jared.

“I’ve loved you like a brother since we met but I’ve loved you in a lot different way since probably the middle of season three but finally worked out in my own head at the start of season six,” he shifted his head just enough so that while they were still close enough to feel the other’s breath Jensen could also see that Jared’s eyes had finally lifted back up to watch him, letting his fingers move over the rapidly moving adam’s apple as his friend swallowed.

“I should have told you, I wanted to tell you but I…I was afraid it would freak you out because we’re guys and neither of us are what could be called gay or anything so I kept it buried. I buried it, hid it, ignored all the jokes and comments from Richard or Misha or the stuff at the Cons and prayed I could keep on hiding it but after the show ended I got scared,” Jensen felt the fingers in his hand tighten, moving his head to risk it when he began placing soft teasing butterfly kisses along Jared’s jaw; tensing when he tasted the salty tears that had leaked from the corner of his friend’s wide eyes.

“I got scared because it meant not seeing you every day, not talking, no more pranks or casual touches or just being with you and if I wanted that I’d have to risk you hating me by telling you the biggest secret that I’d ever kept in my life but then I panicked and took the coward’s way out,” he kept talking in the hopes that if he did, the shaking he could feel coming from the young man would slow down as he resisted the need to just hold and comfort.

“I told myself I was protecting you, your marriage, your career if I didn’t tell you but the only way to stop the hurt I felt would be to avoid seeing or talking to you but never did I mean for you to think I was mad at you or that we weren’t friends or that you couldn’t come to me if you needed to, Jay” Jensen told him, voice dropping lower and he began to ease back to see what would happen only to stop when Jared’s hand gripped even tighter while his other suddenly moved to curl into the material of Jensen’s t-shirt as if not wanting him to move. “Jared?”

“You…can…can you say it again?” Jared’s voice was soft, shaking and hesitant as if not sure what to believe and wanting the reassurance that this was real. “I know it’s silly and may seem weak but…I need to hear you…”

“Nothing you say or want has ever or will ever be silly or weak to me, Jared” Jensen assured him, tipping Jared’s head back enough so he could watch his face as a corner of his mouth curved up as he slowly and carefully repeated the words that he’d never tire of saying. “I. Love. You.”

Each word was stressed by a tender touch of his lips over Jared’s fluttering eyelids, the corners of his mouth until finally Jensen waited until those eyes that could melt hearts or turn to stone if angered opened and he noticed that they’d gotten bigger and darker.

“You kissed me before,” Jared wasn’t sure if his voice sounded so raw because his throat was still raw or if it was because he was certain that he hadn’t been breathing just then.

There was both amusement as well as something more heated shining in those deep green eyes that he’d so often dreamed about and privately lusted over. “Uh-huh,” Jensen agreed softly, tongue running over his lips and not missing the feel of fingers digging into his chest through his shirt as that gesture didn’t go unnoticed. “Point?”

“Will you…are you going to do it again?” Jared asked, shivering at the flash of heat in his friend’s eyes a second before Jensen smiled and curved his fingers along his neck.

“Yeah,” Jensen felt all the tension leaving him at the slight teasing, tipping his head just enough so that his mouth was dancing along Jared’s lips without actually touching him because he wanted to give the younger man a choice. “Do you want me to kiss you, Jay?”

“God, yes!” Jared’s groan was all that was needed to spur Jensen into action.

Still conscious of the fact that his friend was sick and weak and also that this was his chance to make up for the less than fantastic first kiss outside the other night Jensen ignored the annoying voice in the back of his head that urged more speed to keep his movements gentle when he just moved his head back a half inch to find Jared’s mouth with his and smiled at the soft sound he heard.

This time Jensen kept the kiss tender and slow like he’d actually wanted this moment to be. He felt the fingers that had been clenched in his shirt slowly relaxing as Jared relaxed more, lips parting on a sigh that Jensen took as permission to deepen the kiss by adjusting the angle of his head but took it no farther than simply kissing for the moment.

By the time he broke it both were out of breath but Jared more so due to the congestion that had suddenly chosen right then to remind him was present as he began to fight back a cough while trying to keep Jensen close when he the bed shift. “Wait…I…damn it…huh?”

“I’m not going anywhere, Jay. I just wanted to grab the cough medicine that’s a few minutes late,” Jensen assured him calmly, using the premeasured cup to pour some purple colored liquid into before holding it out. “Can you take it on your own?”

“I won’t even ask how you got that down me while I was sleeping,” Jared knew better than to ask but reached for the small cup to take it himself before making the expected face. “Blah. I don’t care what it’s supposed to taste like it still tastes like old dishwater or…mhmh,” he broke off at the unexpected more heated kiss that both shut him up and took his mind off the cough medicine while this time his hand slid around to cup the back of Jensen’s neck before his fingers moved up into his friend’s short hair to blindly think that it was longer than usual.

“Doesn’t taste too bad to me,” Jensen smiled, letting his knuckles brush over the scruff of beard Jared had gained while offering a soft sigh at the feel of fingers moving along the back of his hair and against his scalp. “Or…you don’t taste too bad.”

It had been years since Jared had blushed but he did now and heard the deep low chuckle as he realized the cough was easing away even though his chest still felt tight. “This is real isn’t it, Jensen?” he could still taste the heat of his friend’s kiss on his lips, feel the touch of the fingers that were still touching him but more importantly to him he could hear the emotion in Jensen’s voice when he spoke but recent things made it hard for Jared to trust or know what to believe.

“Yeah, Jay, this is real,” Jensen replied quietly, hurting for the confidence his friend had always had and hating himself for allowing his own pride and stubbornness to make it so hard for Jared to believe him now. “I’m real,” he took Jared’s hand to place it over his heart whole covering it with his own. “This is real. We’re real…if you want it.”

That was the thing that worried him now. He’d told Jared how he felt and by the way Jared had responded had given him the hope that his friend didn’t find it too odd or disgusting but as of yet the younger man hadn’t said what he might feel or want. “Do you want this, Jared?” he finally asked and then held his breath for the answer.

“Want what?” Jared had to blink before it must have dawned on him what he was being asked and then he gaped. “Oh! You mean do I want this, us…you…I am still so tired that I know I’m not making sense,” he muttered with a shake of his head, trying to sit up only to fall back until a slender arm slipped around his shoulders to help him up.

That also gave him the chance to get his arms around Jensen to hold and be held as he felt the return hug with a strength very few people really knew Jensen had. “Yes, yes, and yes to all three,” he finally got out, deciding to ignore and not mention that whatever had been smeared on his chest was now also on his friend’s shirt. “I want this, I want us, and I want you. God, I’ve wanted that since season two but…”

“But?” that was the one word that Jensen had always firmly believed should be banned from the English language since it never meant good things usually. “But what?” he asked while letting Jared lean into him more while rubbing his hand in slow circles along his back as he usually did when trying to soothe a chest cold for his friend; only this time he let his fingers roam a little lower than he ever did. “So not the time to overthink this now, Jay. I’m not taking back what I said and I also don’t plan on leaving South Padre without you so whatever brought you here, whatever had made you think you had to hide down here on some beach is not an issue if you think it might be.”

“I know it will be because you’re the reason I came here…or part of it,” Jared began with a yawn, feeling himself be eased back to the pillows but felt a little surprised when Jensen just shifted so his back was against the headboard, his legs were stretched out and Jared was soon laying against him.

It was a familiar thing between them since Jensen would almost always stay close when Jared was sick and during the worst of it he’d always let Jared use him for a pillow and for body heat but this time both men knew they’d crossed the last invisible barrier so this felt more comfortable, more natural it seemed.

“What? Why? How?” Jensen kept his fingers carding back through long dark hair that needed washed as much as Jared needed to shave but now he was curious. “Jay? I know you’re about five seconds from sleeping again but…can you tell me what the hell happened? Is whatever this is…is it why Gen left you?”

Being told that Jensen shared his feelings was probably the greatest thing for Jared since the birth of his sons but he feared the reaction when his friend learned the rest of it but he knew he needed to be honest even if he wished it could wait so he could treasure this moment between them a little longer.

“No, Gen took the boys and finally left because I was more than a little depressed. I missed the show, missed you and the few jobs I did get really didn’t go anywhere. Then…well, the money was a huge thing between us,” Jared settled his head on a solid shoulder while an arm held him.

It had been a long time since Jared felt safe and relaxed to let himself sleep without one eye open. He’d had a hard time adjusting to life on South Padre and he was always looking over his shoulder for that one bad thing that had cost him nearly everything to rear its ugly head but right then as he let the medicine and Jensen’s voice lull him back under he felt safe…safe enough to finally admit the reason he’d lost his fortune and became a recluse in Texas.

“She thought I lost most of the money in bad investments. Then when I had to tell her the truth, the real reason I was taking out huge chunks to write checks to some mystery bank in the Caymans, Gen didn’t take it well,” he lifted his head to blink tired but sad eyes. “I loved her, I love my sons, but I had to protect who else I loved so if that meant paying some jackass off then that’s what I did. I’ll keep doing it until he goes away and if that means hiding myself here, living on a beach making bottles of sand so support myself then I will but he will not hurt…”

“Who  Jay, who are you trying to protect that you’d give in to somebody trying to blackmail you or hurt someone you care for?” Jensen asked, a little surprised at what he was hearing but nothing like the shock that was to hit him next as his friend’s eyes met his with both worry and shame as well as resignation clear.



Chapter Text

Chapter Three

A lot of things in his life had shocked or surprised him but nothing had stunned Jensen Ackles like what he had just heard come from his former co-star, always best friend and newly admitted love interest, Jared Padalecki’s mouth.

“Me?” he stared into Jared’s eyes, confused but was quick to catch his friend’s face before it could lower and realized his tone had changed. “No, don’t look away, Jay. I’m not mad, just confused,” he admitted, smoothing his thumb along the tense face while trying to figure it out. “Tell me what happened, Jared. What do you mean you’re protecting me?” Protecting me from what or from who?”

“I don’t know who really since most of the contact was by mail or text or emails and all the funds were sent to one of those accounts in the Caymans,” Jared shrugged, torn between sitting up to talk about this or staying where he was.

He could feel the tension in Jensen and knew his friend had a temper so Jared was wary until Jensen’s hand laid on his cheek to urge him to look up and when he did there wasn’t anger or disappoint in his green eyes. There was only concern and caring and for the first time in five years did Jared begin to allow himself to think that things might be able to get better for him.

“Alright, I don’t fully understand and will have a dozen questions for you when you wake up but…” Jensen could see the exhaustion still hiding behind his friend’s eyes and didn’t want him to make himself sicker by pushing too far, too fast. “Right now I want you to just relax again, close your eyes and try to go back to sleep until Stella brings some broth by this evening. I’m not going anywhere, I’ll be with you when you wake up unless I’m walking that shoe crazy puppy that adopted you and…” he paused to brush his lips along Jared’s just to see the soft smile that replaced the worried frown. “…love you, Jay.”

“God I like hearing that,” Jared mumbled, chest tightening again as he finally settled back to close his eyes but opened one as soon as the smell hit him. “More of that stuff?”

“If you ever want to be able to take a deep breath again or move without coughing up a lung then yeah, more of this stuff since you managed to put most of the other layer all over my shirt and off your chest,” Jensen smirked while managing to hide his own grimace of disgust at the strong odor as he began to smooth it over Jared’s chest in slow circles that seemed to have a combination of effects on both of them.

Jared had always relaxed like this because it both assured him that he wasn’t alone and because it helped to loosen the congestion. This time however, even slipping back to sleep, the not so casual touch was having another effect as he began to make soft sounds in the back of his throat while another part of his body also began to show that it liked the feel of Jensen’s still calloused fingertips rubbing over his chest and dipping lower to run over the barest hint of ribs since he’d lost so much weight since moving here.

“Jen,” he whimpered. It had been so long since he’d been touched in any way by anyone that even this casual teasing was making him hard and aching for more but he still felt worn out to do more than lay still and let his friend apply the homemade remedy and hope when he was better that Jensen still felt like this.

“Sorry, I shouldn’t tease until you’re stronger because there is no way you could handle a cold shower right now like I will be as soon as you’re back to sleep,” Jensen hadn’t meant to let it go this far but it had turned him on to see that his friend did respond to his touch and made himself even harder and hotter by silently thinking about what may happen once Jared was on his feet again and stronger. “Just try to take a couple deep breaths to let this stuff start to work and tonight we’ll try a warm shower with some stuff that smells…well, not as bad but they’re menthol and go in the shower to help break that stuff in your chest up or so my Mom always said.”

Jared couldn’t see how anything could smell worse than the crap on his chest right then but since he feared what else Donna Ackles might have in her remedy book or worse, his own mother if Jensen got the idea to call Sheila Padalecki which he prayed he didn’t.

“What…time is it?” Jared could see it was daylight as bright sun could still be seen behind the pulled curtains and he felt bad for sleeping during the day and for keeping Jensen stuck inside when he could be out.

“Early afternoon now,” Jensen told him, debating on the light blanket because Stella had said Jared still needed to be kept warm but blew out a sigh when it was moved even before it touched him. “Jay, your fever just broke this morning and it’s not fully down so you still need to be kept warm.”

“My chest aches, I can’t breathe, my head hurts and my whole body feels worse than the time I did my own stunt and jumped out of that church window so I don’t want a blanket touching me,” Jared knew he sounded more like a six year old than the 38-year old man that he was but he accepted when he was sick and around someone he knew and who knew him he was cranky as hell. “You’ll keep me warm if you sit with me.”

The last sentence was uttered softly but still heard as Jensen let the blanket drop. It wasn’t said with any ulterior motive. It was just that Jared had never liked to be covered and would more often than not toss his blanket that Jensen had just given up on that idea and sat with him on the bed in Jared’s trailer to let his friend lay next to him or over him depending on how restless he was in his sleep.

Normally Jared’s body was a furnace but when he was sick Jensen swore it was like his pilot light got shut off until he was well because he froze and shook unless Jensen was by him and then he just slept.

“Let me check on Dean and grab a huge cup of coffee to keep me awake and then I’ll sit with you so you’ll sleep,” Jensen smiled fondly, only stepping away from the bed once he had seen Jared nod because he wouldn’t leave his friend alone unless he knew it would be safe to do so.

Dean was still crashed on his doggy bed in front of the sofa where the pup had pulled it and had several chew toys, including the formerly good Italian shoes of Jensen’s, and some food and water so he was set to sleep and if he did wake up he’d either run through the condo or join Jensen in the bedroom to lay on the floor near the bed.

Dog and man had quickly come to an agreement that Jared meant something to each of them so they’d bonded over him…so long as Dean didn’t eat anymore of Jensen’s shoes.

South Padre was a quiet place during the off-season but still Jensen’s more paranoid nature came into play as he checked the doors to be sure they were locked as he’d given the Spalling’s an extra key to let themselves in since he was usually in the bedroom and couldn’t always hear the knocking.

A few windows in the front were open to let some air from the ocean in but he kept the windows closed in the bedroom to avoid Jared being hit with a draft and making his cough worse.

Now he grabbed another bottle of water and a cup of coffee and headed back to the bedroom to stop and shake his head as he tried to remember how many times he’d stepped into Jared’s trailer on the back lot of the studio when they and the show had been younger to find a scene like this.

Jared’s eyes were drooping but would snap open as he continued to mutter about the smell of the gunk on his chest while also trying to reach for the bottle of water to sip it until Jensen came back.

“The whole sleeping thing works better if your eyes stay closed,” Jensen remarked easily while placing the coffee and water down to hand him the open bottle while sitting on the side of the bed to toe off his shoes before settling with his back against the headboard again, his legs out, his arm slipping around his friend as he waited for Jared to take a few more sips of water. “Jay?”

“Yeah?” Jared’s words were slurring as he fell back to sleep in comfort, refusing to admit the foul smelling stuff might actually be working when he found that he could take a couple of slightly deeper breaths.

“I’ve missed you,” Jensen stated softly, feeling a good bit of the tension that had been chasing him the last few years leaving him by admitting his feelings and also by the slow curve of Jared’s lips until one dimple could be seen.

“Missed…you too, Jen,” he mumbled and then was asleep fully.

Sitting still for the next several minutes to just watch and listen it was only when he realized the severe rattling in Jared’s chest didn’t appear to be as bad and that he was more relaxed as he shifted in his sleep to lean against Jensen did the older man allow himself to close his eyes for a few moments of rest.

“Pete! Get that monster before I smack both you and it with this mop! And you! You better have your behind back either in that bed or on the couch by the time I get done mopping this mess up or I’ll be smacking you with something!”

Groaning, Jensen had all of three seconds to remind himself of why he didn’t like to close his eyes for a short nap when he hadn’t slept in days.

His eyes felt like they had the entire beach in them while his muscles ached from sitting up with…when his arm moved to feel the body that should have been next to him only to come up with blank space and cold sheets could be felt under his hand Jensen’s eyes snapped open and a single look had him offering several curses while he pushed off the bed to sprint out of the bedroom. “Jared?”

The scampering of paws on the hard wood floors made him look down to see the mixed breed too big to be a puppy but still too small to be full grown dog running full tilt towards him with his long tongue hanging out and only years of knowing what to expect from Jared’s other dogs allowed him to sidestep to avoid being knocked down as it continued to the bedrooms.

“Stella’s wanting his hide for messing up the kitchen after she’d cleaned Jared’s attempt at cooking,” Pete Spalling remarked as he walked after the dog in a much slower pace. “I think I’ll gather him up for a run on the beach and…I figure who you’re after is on the couch.”

Relieved that he hadn’t dreamed anything or that Jared hadn’t chosen to slip away while he’d been…how the hell  long had he been asleep was the first thing Jensen decided he needed to figure out after he found his friend.

The condo was all on one floor with windows and glass doors opening onto the wrap around deck and the living room was large and airy with a sunroof in one spot, a small fireplace for the chilly nights and a huge flat screen TV on one wall.

The couch was long and overstuffed which as he stepped in to see Jared’s head laying on one end made him remember just how tall his friend really was because even on this couch his bare feet were nearly at the end.

“I’m sorry all the noise woke you,” Stella sighed as she stuck her head out of the kitchen to see Jensen, an amused smile on her face as his still sleep filled eyes and unruly spikey dark blond hair. “Jared said you’d finally fallen to sleep and he didn’t want to bother you when he woke up and got hungry but I still fail to see how a grown man could make that big of a mess heating soup.”

“It wasn’t the soup that made the mess. It was trying to make some grilled ham and cheese sandwiches that made it,” Jared spoke up without moving because he didn’t want to risk starting to cough again when he’d managed to be up for three hours with only a small fit. “Dean made the bigger mess.”

Stella rolled her eyes while laying a hand on Jensen’s arm before sliding a look to the couch and back. “You go sit down and I’ll bring out those sandwiches and soup.”

The setting sun told Jensen that he’d slept the biggest part of the day which was what he hadn’t wanted to do. “Sorry I wasn’t awake when you woke up,” he began as he sat on the bottom of the couch after Jared moved his legs to make room for him but pulled them back across his legs to look and gauge.

Jared still needed a shave and his hair washed but it was more the color that was slowly returning to his cheeks that caught Jensen’s attention.

His eyes still looked tired and his hands shook a little when his fingers twisted the frayed material in a hole on the worn jeans but when he looked at Jensen there was more life in his faint smile than there had been a few days earlier.

“You were tired, Jensen. You crash when you let yourself get that tired,” Jared had known if his friend fell to sleep than he probably wouldn’t wake up and figured if he still felt tired then Jensen had to still be half asleep. “I thought about waking you up but figured I could handle heating up soup and making grilled cheese,” he winced a little as he shook the hand that a small blister had formed on from the hot soup.

“I was pulling it off the stove when I coughed and spilled some. That was when the grilled cheese decided to burn and…I don’t think the small flame did any damage or if it did I’ll fix it since I’ve become pretty good with my hands since being down here and…” he slowly stopped talking as his hand was taken gently so the burn could be examined by critical green eyes that used to hover over the medic on set if Jared had gained so much as a scratch during a scene but yet hated to be looked over if he was hurt. “Stella…said she’d out some stuff on it before she goes home and it just stings a little now so…”

Jensen could tell the burn hurt because while he was better at hiding certain things it was always harder on Jared to hide his pain unless he had time. He never could if he was sick though so that was how he could tell the blister was causing him pain. “I’ll dress it after we see about that warm shower tonight,” he decided but to try to relieve some of the pain and just to see what would happen he brought the hand up closer to press his lips over the burn softly, seeing the way those big eyes sharpened just from that. “Better?”

“A little,” Jared admitted, his breath shortening but knowing this time that it wasn’t due to his congestion but from the emotions of what he could no longer deny was real. “Maybe…do it again to be sure?” he suggested but couldn’t quite meet his friend’s eyes as he did as this still felt a little surreal to him but as he watched Jensen’s lips move over the burn slowly he clamped down on his bottom lip to keep from making the sounds that he almost did.

Sounds that he made when those lips moved along his hand to press against his wrist before moving to the center of his palm and that was when Jared couldn’t keep the low groan in but the noise from the kitchen reminded him that they weren’t alone. “Jen…God, wait. We’re…Stella and Pete are here.”

Jensen hadn’t forgotten the older woman was in the next room but he also didn’t seemed bothered by it until he caught the slightest edge of panic in his friend’s soft voice, lifting his eyes and all the humor fled at what he saw reflected in those hazel eyes.

The shyness was there as was the expected new feeling of letting himself feel lust and need but what bothered Jensen and what made him sit up to pull Jared until he was sitting up fully was the fear.

“What’s wrong?” he was quick to ask, keeping his hand on the side of Jared’s neck in order to maintain some contact. “Jared? I need you to talk to me. I need to know what you like or if this is still too weird and you want to slow down.”

“No, it’s not that. I like what we’re doing…or what you’re doing since I haven’t been able to move without coughing to do anything back and you’re not going too fast,” Jared assured him but his voice was low as if trying to whisper but his throat was still a little raw. “But…it’s not safe.”

In all the time that they’d known one another, from the first day on set, Jensen had assumed a protective, look after pseudo-big brother role toward Jared even before he realized what else he felt for the younger man.

It had been a long time since he’d felt that side of him spark but as soon as Jared said something wasn’t safe he instantly felt the need to protect, to shield his friend, simmering back to life. “What’s not safe, Jay?” he asked, shifting a look toward the kitchen and then back to where Jared’s hand was gripping his with a bit more strength. “Talk to me so maybe we can fix whatever it is.”

Now that he was awake more and able to really focus it was all hitting Jared. He was so close to being able to have what he never thought he could. He was sitting with his best friend again, the man that Jared had admired, looked up to and loved for so long it hurt to think about but he also knew he couldn’t have it and that hurt too.

“God, I can’t believe I’m going to say this,” Jared sat up to put his face in his hands, unaware that he’d started to tremble again. “I…love you and have loved you so damn long but…I can’t let you do this, Jensen. I can’t let you want me still because…I can’t leave here. I won’t let it all come back and ruin you.”

Catching his friend’s jaw in his hand, Jensen made Jared look at him; the mild concern at what he was hearing nearly turning into panic until he realized what appeared to be happening. “I’ve faced the feelings. I came here to find you and I told you how I’ve felt for you. I wish I had known so long ago that you felt the same way and then maybe we wouldn’t have lost the last six years but…look at me Jare.”

It was rare for Jensen to use the shortened form of his name when he almost always called him ‘Jay’ so it immediately made Jared lift his wet eyes back up to see and recognize the firm determination that Jensen only got when his mind was made up and no one would change it.

“Is this about what you were saying earlier? About what made you come down here?” Jensen asked seriously, knowing that this still was too soon but well aware that if he let Jared shut him out now that he’d lose him for good. “You said that you were paying someone money; that you were doing it to protect me. Someone blackmailed you?”

Jared didn’t want to admit it, didn’t want to see the shame or disappointment on Jensen’s face over how poorly he’d handled the situation but he also had to be honest with him about why he’d disappeared and why he couldn’t let his friend risk his career by being with him now.

“Yeah,” he murmured, pausing as Stella carried out a try with a cup of plain broth and a plate of grilled sandwiches along with bottles of water and a glass of pink lemonade. “Stella, thanks,” he forced a tired smile as the older woman hovered. “I appreciate everything you and Pete have done for me. As soon as I get stronger I’ll come by and help at the restaurant to pay you back or…”

“And I will box your ears if you even try that, young man,” Stella huffed, adoring this boy but swearing to swat him for his ideas. She also didn’t miss the way Jensen’s face had tensed and suspected that he wasn’t liking what he was hearing either. “You don’t have to pay us back, Jared. Pete and I like you and when you’re sick I worry. Maybe now I won’t have to worry about you as much since I think this one here will keep an eye on you. Am I right, Jensen?”

Slipping his fingers around to lightly stroke the back of his friend’s neck, Jensen nodded. “Yes, ma’am,” he assured her. “That’s my plan…if he lets me.”

“Well, I’ll leave you boys to work that out,” Stella took another look to be sure she’d done all she could before nodding. “I’ve put out food and water for that monster that Pete will let in the back door when they come back from their walk and we’ll be by in the afternoon,” she leaned down to kiss both men on the cheek, patting Jared’s face while moving her eyes to Jensen again. “If you ever get this boy into a shower, make sure when he washes this mop of hair that he also shaves. He has such a pretty smile when it’s not covered in all this scruff.”

Jared blushed faintly and nudged Jensen in the side when he heard his chuckle. “Shut up, Jensen,” he muttered but accepted the older woman’s words as he always had. “I’ll shave soon, Stella.”

“See that you do cause I don’t want to see you looking like Pete one day,” Stella shook her head, letting herself out with a find smile before she headed to find her husband and that mess making dog.

“I like them,” Jensen remarked once they were alone, fingers moving slowly until he felt Jared relaxing into the touch without knowing it. “They care about you.”

Nodding, Jared moved back to sit on the couch and let his eyes close when the fingers moved up into the back of his hair. “There’s a lot of good people here but…Stella and Pete were the first ones who didn’t look at me like I was a bum even though I know that’s pretty much what I’ve become now…Jensen.”

The use of his name was in regards to the way Jensen’s fingers had tightened in his hair which was relaxed but the tone when Jensen spoke was low and deep. “You’re not a bum and no one looks at you like one,” he remarked firmly, adding silently to himself that he’d better never see anyone look at his friend as anything but the wonderfully caring man that he’d always been. “Jay, every time I bring this up we manage to get off of it so how about as you eat some of this broth you explain to me who the hell is blackmailing you and how it involves me?” he held out the cup of warm broth while reaching for a sandwich.

“It’s over and so long as I stay hidden down here then it should stay over,” Jared could only hope because he didn’t want his friend drawn into his nightmare but as he took a shaky sip of the broth to sigh at the taste and also not think how long it had been since he’d really ate something decent he feared it wouldn’t be that simple. “How did you know where I was?”

“Our less than favorite asshole reporter pinned me down at a press event to show me a picture and ask if I knew what my supposed best friend was doing selling bottles on a beach,” Jensen still hated the reporter but was glad that he’d brought it up or else he might never have known. “I also figure it won’t be long before he runs with that story so your days of hiding out down here in anonymity are probably…Jared? Shit! Breathe for me, Jay!”

He’d grabbed the mug of soup as soon as he watched big eyes go wider and felt Jared’s body go rigid as his breathing got more labored a second before he began to cough while trying to talk at the same time. 

“He…it…God, no. I’ve tried to avoid anyone finding out who I am or was or…” he had to lean forward as his chest began to tighten and soon felt the support of an arm keeping him from falling forward. “Jen, if it gets out then it’ll start again and if it gets out that you’re here then…no, no, no!” he tried to stand but was pulled back down and into the waiting arms of his best friend. “You don’t understand, Jensen. I can’t let him or whoever it is start the demands again. I don’t have the cash to pay again and I won’t let my stupidity hurt your career or you. I’d rather walk into the ocean and just…”

There used to be a few ways to calm Jared down if he got to this point but now Jensen decided to resort to the best way he’d recently learned and also a way that they both seemed to enjoy.

Tightening his fingers where they’d moved back to Jared’s neck, he brought his head up and kissed him with a bit more heat and strength than he’d been using.

Jared’s panic and worry caused him to tense for a brief moment until he slowly eased into both the kiss and the touch, a soft whisper escaping at the feel of a tongue lightly teasing and playing over his lips.

“Don’t you ever say that you’d be better off dead, Jared,” Jensen told him, quiet but still the deepness of his voice gave the proof that he’d do what it took to prevent that. “Nothing would ever be that bad and if you’d just tell me what this is about then maybe we can make it so that it doesn’t happen again. Who blackmailed you and over what?” he asked again, glad when he felt fingers reaching to hold onto his arm while the kiss was returned. “You used to trust me. Do you still?”

“Yes!” Jared seemed startled at that question, wanting to give in to the kiss and go further but he accepted that if Jensen was going to be expected to stay with him or whatever would happen between them then he needed to know it all…no matter how much Jared hated the idea. “Did you…bring my suitcase?”

“Yeah, I grabbed it the other night,” Jensen nodded, only easing back when he was certain his friend appeared calmer if still nervous. “Do you want me to grab it and bring it out here or do you just want to take this into the bedroom since it’s time for your meds any…that dog is sneaky.”

The puppy had happily been let in the back door, ate his dinner before following the sounds of voices and dropping his head onto Jensen’s knee to eye him with huge brown eyes that reminded him of his friend’s look when wanting something.

“Y’know, fans always thought Sam’s puppy eyes were just made up,” he scratched the soft furry head until Dean went to flopped onto his bed for a nap. “They never learned that was something you added and also something that still gets you your way.”

“It doesn’t always work,” Jared murmured, watching his dog and glad to see that it and Jensen appeared to be getting along well. “If it did, you wouldn’t have got on a plane.”

“Want me to tell you how many times in thirty minutes I nearly got off that plane because I couldn’t get those eyes out of my head?” Jensen countered, standing to extend a hand. “C’mon, it’s time for more cough medicine and you can find what you want in your suitcase…which didn’t have any clothes that I could tell since that’s what I was looking for.”

Taking the bottle of water, Jared waited until Jensen made the rounds to check the locks and then yawned. “I took what clothes I could stuff in a small bag because I used the suitcase for the really important things that I knew I couldn’t do without,” he replied, wincing as his body still ached as he sat on the bottom of the bed as his suitcase was placed next to him. “Mainly pictures of my folks, my siblings, the boys…you,” he felt the bed behind him dip down to allow Jensen to sit as he began to dig through the case to find a battered manila envelope. “Our PCA award, the first script I ever read for the show and the last. Just little things really but it was important to me.

“This…this is probably what you need to see,” he held out the envelope without looking back. “I probably should have showed you before you told me how you felt or stuff,” his fingers clenched around the tattered hole in the knee of his jeans while adding softly. “Be less awkward for when you choose to walk away.”

“Hey, I’m not walking away, Jay. Whatever this is, I’m not letting it take you away from me,” Jensen replied firmly, rubbing his hand soothingly over the rigid shoulder while dumping the contents of the envelope. “I made that mistake and it cost me six years so whatever this is, or whatever made some asshole think they could blackmail…what the hell is this?”

“A drunken mistake one night that could have cost you everything you’d worked for,” Jared’s voice was low as he dropped his head to stare at his heads while waiting for the voice to change; to get louder. “I’d been a little down since the show ended because I knew in my heart that it could’ve gone on but also knew you wanted to do more again so I…let it go.

“The parts in a couple shows went alright but…it didn’t have the same feel to it as when I did Gilmore Girls or Supernatural and there was no connection with the other actors so I told my agent no more TV because sitcoms wasn’t for me and reality TV was flat out not happening,” he heard the papers being rustled as well as the occasional curse and oath as Jensen read through the collection of emails, crude notes or printed texts but it was the single damn photograph that Jared knew would tear down his dream world as it had his real one.

“I was up for a couple movie parts but…turned down the one because it was a straight knock-off of our show,” to Jared that was what Supernatural would always be to him…theirs. “The other…I just…decided not to do it,” he gave a quick shrug while hoping his friend didn’t notice the drop in tone but unfortunately Jensen had always been quick to pick up on things.

“Why?” Jensen asked, splitting his attention from keeping his touch light as he moved his hand down Jared’s spine to making sense of what he was reading while his eyes kept moving back to the photo. “What kind of movie was it? You normally didn’t go out for movies unless you…” he stopped dead in mid-sentence to stare at his friend’s bare back to see the slightest movement of muscles under his touch. “Shit,” he breathed while giving the past six years, especially the first year a long thought. “Jay.”

Jared suddenly felt like shaving and started to stand only to give a surprised yelp as he was tugged back onto his back on the bed, blinking into the steely eyes that suddenly were staring into his. “I didn’t really want the role anyway and…”

“Bullshit. You’d been drooling over that movie from the second we heard they were thinking about making it. That role was made for you,” Jensen knew the movie now and also feared he knew the reason it had been turned down. “Tell me that you didn’t turn it down because they told you they were also going to ask me to read for the role because if that’s the reason I will probably kick you in the ass as soon as you’re healthy.”

“Umm, not the only reason…no,” the younger man hedged, suddenly aware of how long his hair had become when he had to blow it out of his face as he went to sit up only to be pushed back, a firm hand staying on his shoulder in warning. “Your manager made a convincing case for you to have the role since it would be playing opposite of Danneel and…”

“My ex-wife,” Jensen pointed out, subtly moving until he was straddling Jared’s long legs while putting his weight on the arms that kept him balanced over his friend so their eyes could meet and hold. “Which is the number one reason I said no to reading for…wait, did you just say my manager? My manager talked to you? He told you to turn the role down?”

Unsure how they kept getting off track of the topic he wanted them on, Jensen suddenly had a very strong feeling he’d be in need of a new manager when he got back to LA…if he went back. Right then he wanted Jared to look at him. “Jay? What the hell did he tell you?”

“Just that it was a great role to get you out of any possible ‘Dean Winchester’ stereotype roles and since it was opposite Danneel it would be good since you were talking about getting back with her so…” Jared decided to leave out the part there that had hurt him a bit too much because he’d never deny Jensen happiness even if it was with his ex-wife. “Um, that’s funny to you?”

“No, the fact that you still can’t hide it that Dani wasn’t your favorite person is funny to me,” Jensen replied after seeing the brief flash of dislike on Jared’s face, putting his weight on one arm so he could lightly trace his fingers along Jared’s jaw with the other as he went on. “The rest of it pisses me off because Todd knew I’d already turned the offer to read down because (a) it would be opposite my ex-wife and (b) I wanted you to get it because I knew you wanted it. He had no damn right to talk to you or make you back out of it and I’ll deal with that the next time I see him but…first, tell me what the hell this is supposed it be, Jared.”

Jensen had snatched the photo to hold it up, softening his gaze as he watched shame and worry return to Jared’s face. “I’m not angry, not with you, but…I am curious since I’ve read every message this damn bastard sent you so I know what he said this looks like or would look like if it got out so I’m thinking I know this was the catalyst behind the blackmail,” he paused to lean close enough to let his shirt brush over bare skin and ignored the remaining foul smelling stuff that was transferred while his lips once again hovered over Jared’s as a distraction to keep him calm. “My question is, how did someone get a photo of you in bed with a guy, why would you be in bed with some guy and who the hell is he so I punch his goddamn face off?”

“Huh? Why?” Jared wasn’t expecting that reaction. Oh, he’d expecting anger since it wouldn’t be easy to know how close his career had come to getting hit with a photo that would frame Jensen by stating the slender short haired man in the faded photo that clearly showed Jared’s face and enough to show what was going on but would only hint at his partner was Jensen.

He’d been expecting anger over that but the burst of anger seemed to be more at who the other guy was in general and not at Jared’s foolish mistake so that stunned him a little, tensing more as the hard lean body straddling him shifted just enough to put more weight on his hips and he had to be quick to keep from groaning at the feel of something brushing along his crotch. “I…I don’t really remember his name or…much about that night to be honest,” he admitted, letting his lashes lower to hide the shame he felt.

“Okay, for that I will kick your ass because you know better than to get that drunk…were you drunk or did something else happen, Jay?” Jensen could tell some of the darkened photo had been messed with but most of it, the main part that could have very well caused one huge scandal for both of them, was well profiled as intended.

He’d been floored by the photo but the main emotion aside from surprise had been worry and then jealousy. Worry over how and why Jared had ended up in that position and now concern for just how it might have happened because he knew his friend wasn’t a big drinker. “Talk to me, Jay. Tell me what happened. I’m not angry and I won’t get angry with you…with the bastard who thought it was smart to use me against you now him I’m pissed at. I also still want the name of the guy in the photo just so I can punch him.”

“It was six months after filming ended, after we’d…said goodbye and I’d been down. I missed filming, I missed my friends on set…I missed you and Gen and I were having some issues,” Jared began slowly, making himself focus on the calm green eyes above him and not the muscles moving in the arms on either side of him or the teasing touches of lips on his face and jaw or lower as his friend had shifted so his knee could slide between the long legs that Jared let move apart some.

“Issues? Like what?” Jensen had thought he’d sensed some tension between the couple during the last few months of shooting but had dismissed it. “Why didn’t you talk to me if you and Gen were having trouble? I’d gone through it all so I would have understood.”

“I didn’t think you would because a lot of the problems were over you,” Jared replied, letting his eyes go closed on a soft sigh but then felt the cough coming on.

Jensen’s sixth sense also must have seen the change because he rolled off of Jared with some regret to help him sit up and waited out the coughing spasm that he blamed himself for because he’d known not to let Jared lay flat until the damn congestion eased up.

“Just take a few small breaths and we’ll get you into that warm shower in a minute,” he urged, sitting close enough so that his arm could move around his friend. “Now, what was over me? Why were you and Gen fighting over me? I tried to keep my distance when we weren’t shooting.”

“Yeah and that’s what I finally commented on one day because I was tired, upset over the show getting cancelled and just really needed to hang out with you but she was tired because Tom was sick so it all just turned into a fight until finally she flat out said she knew I felt something more than friendship for you,” Jared rubbed his chest as the tightness could be felt returning. “But, there was a lot more involved to why we actually finally split like I said. She knew how I felt for you but in the end it was more about my lack of interest in things and then when the money began being spent and I had to tell her why that she finally decided we’d be better off apart and…I couldn’t deny it.

“I loved her, I love our boys but…I knew I wasn’t any good for them so I let her go. I let them all go and didn’t contest her demand for sole custody or the child support amount even if the money I put aside for that might be close to running out and I hate not being able to support my boys and if this starts again I’ll…mhmm,” he whimpered against the mouth on his that sought to both calm and stop the rush of words. “Sorry, rambling. I’ll try to stay on topic but I’m better if you ask specific questions.”

“Okay,” Jensen agreed, hating to see this upset his friend and also hating that Jared had gone through all of this alone. “When was this taken?” he tapped the photo that he wanted to burn but knew it may still be needed.

Jared smiled a little because he knew Jensen didn’t know when he was being serious and also seeking to protect or take care of him or anyone really that a bit of his former character tended to slip into his voice. “Six months after the show stopped. Gen had already taken the boys and moved out. I was pretty bad and had tried calling you a couple times…Jen, it’s not your fault,” he reached for the hand that he knew would be there after hearing the soft oath Jensen had aimed at himself. “I get now why you stayed away. It just hurt then so when…oh crap.”

“What?” Jensen had been cursing himself for not taking those calls when he caught the change in Jared, tightening his arm to keep him still upon noticing the edginess was back. “Jay? What? What is it?”

After the texts and messages, the photo, had started arriving Jared had pretty much blanked out that night, what he could remember of it. Now that he was thinking of it again in order to answer Jensen he remembered who’d invited him and why he’d gone in the first place. “You…you’re not going to like this and I’m sure it wasn’t done on purpose. I mean, why would he invite me to a party and tell me that you might be there? I even forgot that he was who called me that day and asked me to go.

“I wasn’t even going to go which I told him that on the phone but then he said you might be there. I was upset enough that day because I’d gotten the copy of the last episode which we normally watch together so when he called…I went,” Jared chewed his bottom lip, seeing the confusion on Jensen’s face. “Your manager got me to go to the party where…that happened,” he revealed quietly steeling himself for this reaction as he watched the shock and then anger flash across the handsome face watching him.

“I went to be polite and because I thought if I could talk to you then I might be able to fix whatever I did wrong but the longer it went you didn’t come and he said you were probably stuck in traffic, to just have a drink with him and wait. I didn’t want to be rude because there were people there we knew so I stayed, I drank a couple beers which I shouldn’t have because I’d…been drinking at home but…then he gave me a mixed drink and that’s when things go fuzzy,” he hesitated to wait for the blow-up but only felt gentle fingers running along his arm despite the ticking jaw muscle on Jensen’s face.

“Go on,” Jensen urged calmly as if knowing how he handled what he was being told would determine what happened next.

He’d felt the flash of anger as soon as it hit him what Jared was saying or more importantly what Jared was saying without realizing it but he kept his voice even, his touch light as he encouraged his friend to go on while inwardly hoping he didn’t hear what he feared was coming.

“I didn’t taste anything but rum and pineapple but the second drink really hit me hard. I got dizzy so I excused myself to go outside to get some air and after a couple minutes I was starting to feel a little better. Then I looked up when someone came out, hoping it was you, but it was this guy…whose name is a complete blank to me if I even heard it. He said he was a new client of Todd’s or something and he gave me an opened beer,” Jared frowned a bit as the cough medicine was placed in his hand and he swallowed it this time without even a face, trying to remember the exact events leading up to when his life changed.

“We talked a little. He was a little too friendly. Bumping my arm or touching my shoulder and it was weird cause I had to stop myself from asking him if it was his idea or Todd’s to try to look and act like you since that what kept coming to mind and then Todd stepped out to tell me he got a text from you,” he glanced down at the fingers meshing with his and feeling the tension ease away. “Jen?” he didn’t want to ask because he didn’t want to put his friend on the spot but needed to know for his own peace of mind. “Did you…I mean, I know we weren’t speaking but did you text him that message?”

Lifting the clenching hand up to run his lips over the knuckles, Jensen heard the doubt and therefore the hurt buried in the soft voice that he still noticed Jared’s Texas accent comes out more in when he was tired, sick or worried. “What message, Jay?” he asked, carding his fingers back through long hair as he added firmly. “Jared, I was in Texas visiting my parents with J.J. the night of that party and I didn’t text or talk to anyone that week so whatever my soon to be ex-manager said I texted him…I didn’t,” he reassured the man but he was now curious. “What…did he say I said?”

As it began to sink in just how much he’d been led and lied to Jared groaned and hated himself even more for being so stupid. “He…said you texted to say that you weren’t coming because I was there and…God, how stupid could I have been to listen to him? He’d never liked me. Even Jim and Misha had seen that and it was after he said you weren’t coming because you didn’t want to see me there that I drank the beer and…let that too friendly, too eager to please guy talk me into…” he broke off with a self-disgusted groan, trying to pull away from his friend but found himself held firmly in place. “Jen, you don’t understand. I knew it was my fault but I didn’t remember how badly I screwed up.

“I can blame being drunk and by that point it was like I wasn’t even myself but I was so hurt and angry that everything Todd said to try to make it ‘better’ just made me feel worse. I accepted that I’d never be able to be with you if you didn’t even want to see my face so the next thing I’m blearily aware of is the feel of the guy’s tongue in my mouth and hating it but not feeling able to stop it,” he glanced up into Jensen’s eyes and expected to see disappointment or shame but instead only saw love and understanding.

“I don’t remember having sex with the guy or anything after letting him take my shirt off and feeling him touch me. I think I tried to make myself focus on you but somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that what we were doing wouldn’t feel like that with you because I didn’t think you’d hurt me or…Jen?” Jared looked over quickly at the low strangled sound he thought he heard but still Jensen’s face hadn’t changed even if the muscle in his jaw did seem to be twitching a bit more.

“It’s fine, Jay. I’m fine. Go on,” Jensen replied, his smile tight but he still fought to keep his voice level despite the anger he was inwardly seething with as he listened to his friend’s ‘confession’ only to come to the horrifying realization that Jared really did believe it was his fault.

“I don’t remember the rest except for a few flashes that I don’t like to think about,” Jared admitted, letting himself lean against his friend without feeling himself shake at the memories. “I woke up in my car back at my house the next morning. It wasn’t until I sobered up with the mother of all headaches that I knew why my body hurt and then couldn’t explain that to Gen so I hid the bruises as best as I could. Four days later the photo came with that first printed letter threatening to publish it and say that it was you I was with unless I paid a certain amount of money into that account.

“At first I tried to ignore it, well after I stopped throwing up because I really didn’t remember doing what that picture suggests I did. Then a few days after I got a text saying there were more pictures and how bad your career would be hurt if it even was suggested that you’d had a gay love affair with your former co-star,” he closed his eyes against the burning tears that were threatening. “I knew my career was shot and I seriously wasn’t worried about that but I’d be damned if you’d be dragged down because of my mistakes so I paid but…”

“But it didn’t end there,” Jensen knew because blackmail never ended with just one time, especially if the asshole doing it knew he could squeeze more money. “How many more times, Jay?” he asked, hating the pain his friend had put himself through over this and detesting the bastard who’d done it.

“Eight,” came the whispered answer, shaking more as he recalled the shame, the anger, the guilt and also the loneliness he’d felt during that time. “There was always the threat of more photos and then the texts threatened that there might be a video and even though I knew a video would prove that it wasn’t you he, she or whoever it was promised that it could still ruin you and I couldn’t take that chance, Jensen. I paid and then after Gen left I realized it would never stop so long as I was where the asshole could find me so one night I just grabbed what was important and I ran.

“I ran like a coward until I got down here because I couldn’t go to my folks, I knew I couldn’t come to you because I thought you hated me and I didn’t want to involve anyone else so…in some ways Jared Padalecki died the moment I stepped on the beach here the first day. No one knows my first time except for a few people like Stella and Pete,” he tensed as the fear of it starting again returned, arms sliding around to hold onto his friend as tight as he could right then. “A private investigator and a reporter were snooping around last year but I stayed hidden or I thought I did because I didn’t want anyone finding me because if they could find me, he can find me and…Jen, I don’t want it to hurt you!

“I’m not ashamed of loving you, of wanting you but…I am ashamed that I let myself do that and I never wanted you to know because having you hate me was one thing but to think that you’d be ashamed of me letting myself become a…Jensen?” this time Jared felt the change in his friend’s body a split second before Jensen stood up to put some distance between them and the bitter sob was barely bitten back. “I’m sorry. I know there’s no way to take it back and I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure this never touches you or hurts you.”

There was no missing the pain and hurt in Jared’s voice right then and there was so much that Jensen wanted to say and do but right then he knew if he’d reached out to touch his friend that they’d both break so all he could do was speak the truth.

“I’m…sorry, Jared.”


Chapter Text

Chapter Four

“I’m sorry, Jared.”

Those were three words that shook the young actor to his core even though he’d still been trying to set himself up for hearing them because Jared understood only too well that there were limits to what Jensen would or should be expected to accept.

The pain hit hard in his heart but he was quick to try to cover it by dropping his head and turning on the bed so his friend wouldn’t see his face as he fought to choke back the breaking wall of emotion that threatened, letting his cough cover the broken sob at the sound of the bedroom door closing with a definite click.

Jared had known Jensen for years so he knew there was only so much the older man would take before changing his mind and regretting his choice of coming to South Padre to find him. He only wished he had told Jensen before letting the hopes build inside him that perhaps there was a way they could work past Jared’s awful mistakes.

“I’m sorry that you had to face that crap alone and that you still think it was your fault.”

Jensen’s voice speaking close by him again had Jared’s head lifting quickly to see that his friend hadn’t left the room as he’d assumed but had simply shut the door before walking back over to sit back beside him.

There were varying emotions flashing in Jensen’s deep green eyes and over his face but while there was anger there it didn’t seem to be directed at Jared and this confused the younger man.

“What?” he stared, tensing for the first time at the hand that lifted to touch his face, not sure what to expect. “Jensen? I thought you’d…”

“You expected me to walk out of here just now, didn’t you? You thought I was angry with you and that I’d regret my choice of coming here, finding you and telling you that I love you, didn’t you, Jay?” it hurt Jensen to see such loss and also fear of being hurt or left in those big hazel eyes that he pushed his anger aside to be handled when he was alone and Jared was sleeping.

At that moment he knew what he needed to do and that was to reassure and soothe. He’d take care of the rest later and that would include ripping his so-called manager’s head off for having any part in this nightmare.

“Jared, in all the time we’ve known one another we came to blows one time and that was only because we were both tired and frustrated but I never thought you’d ever think I’d hit you for anything,” he made sure to keep his movements slow when his hands covered the bearded face, feeling the return of the slight fever and not caring for that. “Look at me, Jay. Yes, this whole mess, this picture and everything involved in it pissed me off and I’m angry but…look at me…I am not angry with you or ashamed or disappointed in you because none of this was your fault.”

“I got drunk and had sex with a guy I don’t know because I was angry and hurt. I was so drunk that I didn’t know anyone took a photo or more than one and it could have cost you your career,” Jared argued, more confused now than anything else. “How is that not my fault, Jensen?”

“It’s not your fault because I don’t think you were all that drunk,” Jensen let his fingers slide down to his friend’s neck while letting their foreheads touch, debating on revealing what he was thinking happened and hoping it didn’t make things worse. “Jay, yes, you were probably a little drunk since it normally only takes a beer or two to loosen you up so a couple mixed drinks would have set you on your ass. I’ve seen you drunk so I know normally even after the worst hangover you still remember things. I know it can’t be proven but I will go on record thinking and believing that someone there slipped you something to knock you out or make you more pliable to whatever.”

Jared’s eyes had gotten wider, confused and also fighting another coughing fit. “Slipped me…you think someone drugged me? Why? Who?” that idea completely stunned him and then something clicked and he began to understand. “You think Todd had something to do with this, don’t you?”

“Jay, he knew I was in Texas. Todd knew I’d refused to go to that party because I didn’t care for some of the people that were going to be there; he called and lied to you in order to get you there and he kept you there while giving you drinks,” Jensen hated the thought of the why because he was already pissed at the man to begin with so if he thought too hard about why he might had gotten Jared drunk enough or instigated the results of the photo and blackmail he’d get even more pissed off.

“But he’s your manager, Jensen. Why would he risk doing something that might hurt you?” that’s what didn’t make sense to Jared, rubbing at his chest again as the tightness returned. “Even if he did slip me something, he had no way of knowing I’d sleep with that guy or anything. He wouldn’t know I’d pay whoever blackmailed me to keep that photo from going public and hurting you.”

Jensen’s smile was tight and sad as he looked into Jared’s wide eyes. He still could see the innocent kid he’d been so long ago when it was believed that their show would probably only go a season or two at the best. “He’d know that you’d never let that happened, Jared. Todd knows what we’d both do to keep the other safe and you didn’t sleep with that asshole. You were used for a purpose, Jay and if I already didn’t want to break the guy’s face for touching you to begin with I will now just for thinking of him using you and putting bruises on you.

“Whoever did this knew if they threatened me or my career enough that you’d pay and they probably also knew that if they pushed enough what you may do because he made you think I didn’t want anything to do with you so you wouldn’t come to me for help,” he ran his knuckles over the rough beard as he watched things begin to sink in slowly and felt him start to shake. “C’mere.”

Pulling Jared into his arms, he sat and just held him as it hit him just how deeply he’d been misled and used while Jensen let the other questions slide by until later because he now planned to fix this and make someone very sorry for hurting his friend.

“Why would anyone want to do this?” Jared asked quietly, coughing softly at first but hearing the harshness of his breath and knew a bad spell was soon to come. “Was it to hurt me, you or what?” he was blank on that part of it. “I’d already given up my career for the moment. Gen was gone, though she might have stayed if I hadn’t used the biggest part of my fortune to pay whoever it was off and we weren’t speaking so…what was the point?”

“I don’t know really but we’ll find out…after you’re over this,” Jensen had also heard the change in breathing and wanted to head it off. “C’mon, let’s try that warm shower and those menthol tablets in the water to see if that helps your cough.”

Jared wasn’t certain if he had the strength to stand up long enough in the shower so he was glad to see there was a seat installed. “Ugh,” he muttered, catching a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror to see how pale and gaunt his face was in addition to the dirty long hair and beard.

He’d grown the beard in order to try to make himself forget the man he once had been but even Jared knew he must have been really sick to have let things get this bad. “I look like something Dean and Sam would kill,” he decided as he leaned against the large double sink while Jensen turned the shower on hot just to get room steamed up and heated before tossing in a couple menthol shower tablets.

“Think you can handle sitting here and breathing this in?” Jensen asked with a look over his shoulder to see that Jared’s eyes had closed as he took in the heat from the shower and steam.

The exhaustion that was still there was plain but it was also clear to him that it must have been a while since Jared had been able to enjoy a shower with actual hot water and pressure.

“I can breathe it from here. That stuff is strong,” Jared remarked after a couple minutes of taking shallow breaths before attempting a deeper one. “I can probably sit there without a problem but I’m not certain if I’d have the strength to do anything else right now, like wash my hair or shave.”

He did want to do both now that he’d seen himself but he also did not want to end up falling and causing either of them more hassles.

“Oh, I didn’t plan on you doing either of those things by yourself, Jay,” Jensen replied, a hint of wickedness in his smile this time as he adjusted the heat of the water to warm for the moment. “Right now I just want you to sit and breathe the steam in while I change the bed and grab some clean clothes and then we’ll see about the rest of that.”

The possible meaning behind those words sent a burst of lust straight through Jared’s head to further below the belt, fingers tight on the sink as Jensen nodded to the running shower with a simple look at the worn jeans.

“Need help getting those off?” he asked, being careful now since this was taking this very new, still very fragile side of things between them in a totally different direction. “Jared? You can tell me how far you’re comfortable with going right now and if we’re going too far tell me and I’ll back off.”

“I’m 39 years old so this should not be weird,” Jared still had a hard time believing that he was that old since in a lot of ways it still seemed like yesterday that he’d read for the part that would change his life.

“I’m fairly sure it would be weird no matter how old we are, Jay,” Jensen chuckled, stepping up to give a light kiss to the corner of Jared’s mouth before stepping back. “Now, lose the jeans and get inside the shower so that steam will hopefully start breaking up the congestion. I’ll be in the bedroom so if you need anything just call me.”

Nodding, Jared’s hand shot out to grasp his friend’s wrist. “Jen? Thank you.”

“For what?” Jensen asked curiously, relaxing at Jared’s first real smile since waking up that nearly showed both dimples.

“For being concerned enough to come look for me. For taking care of me these few days. For believing in me and for not leaving over this,” Jared let his eyes lower for a second before taking a shaky breath when he lifted them back up. “For loving me like I love you.”

“You don’t have to thank me for any of those things, Jay,” Jensen assured him, voice deepening as it did with emotion; holding Jared’s eyes as he stepped back to kiss him deeply. “I’ll be close if you need me.”

Jared understood that he was being offered the choice of when they did more and also what they did and knew that no one else would ever have offered that.

Slowly stripping out of the worn jeans as well as the boxers that went with them, Jared moved carefully as he stepped into the shower/tub enclosure to sit on the seat for a few moments to allow the warm steam filled with the smell of menthol to fill his congested lungs and listen to the sounds coming from the bedroom while considering all that Jensen had said about that single night six years ago that Jared had blamed himself over.

He still didn’t understand why anyone, much less his friend’s own manager, would want to create such trouble but he did slowly begin to admit that perhaps his actions or what he’d thought were his own actions weren’t all his because even Jared had been confused over the lack of memories along with the headache that had been like nothing he’d ever experienced before.

Thinking that someone had intentionally planned to set him up, to possibly hurt Jensen, left the actor numb because he couldn’t fathom who would ever want to do that but also knew that it might be something he’d have to face.

Listening to Jensen’s low voice as he spoke to the puppy that he must have let into the bedroom made him smile, unaware that the congestion appeared to be breaking up some because he was taking deeper breaths.

Jared knew in the back of his mind that if he wanted to explore this thing with Jensen, even if it was kept just between them behind closed doors, then he’d have to risk going back into the world and that scared him.

He worried about the press, how he’d explain his disappearance and also how to explain if his blackmailer decided to start again or worse if he/she published that photo out of spite.

He’d spent the past five years in hiding to protect his friend from any backlash from his mistake and he didn’t want it to hurt Jensen now but he also knew Jensen and if Jared was certain of one thing it was that his friend would want to fight back against this no matter the risks.

Deciding to worry about that bridge when they came to it, Jared started to pull himself to his feet to try to stand under the hard spray that made him groan as the warm water hit his tight shoulders and made him think of the last time he’d actually had a shower.

The shack he lived in had the basics and he’d been given permission to use the shower at Stella and Pete’s home whenever he wanted but Jared felt odd about using the couple’s hospitality since he hadn’t been fully honest with them over who he was or what he was running from.

Letting the water run over him, Jared moved slowly as he felt his legs shake a little and knew this was not going to work well. He was still weak, too weak to try to wash his own hair much less shave without having support.

Jared debated on it. He hated to be sick because he hated to be this weak in front of anyone, especially Jensen but he knew he’d feel better about the situation and himself if he was clean and lost some of the beard. “Jensen?” he called

“You okay?” came the instant answer as a cool breeze entered the bathroom when Jensen stepped back in, quickly shutting the door to avoid letting the heat and steam out.

“Yeah but I think I may need some help washing my hair,” Jared leaned against the wall to see the outline of his friend through the shower door and caught the way he stilled. “Oh…I can try to do it in the sink but I just figured in the shower it might be easier to wash it and shave some of this off if…you want to help…”

His words stopped as he watched through frosted glass as Jensen pulled off his t-shirt to let it fall before his fingers hovered near his jeans and Jared was glad some of his congestion had broken loose when he realized he was holding his breath until the jeans were also discarded. “God,” he whispered.

“How many of those fan fiction pieces about Dean and Sam did you pour over that one weekend when you came down with the flu?” Jensen asked. The smile evident in his voice as he opened the door to the shower to step into the steam with a hiss as he had to wait a second to clear his vision and then let his full smile show as he took a long slow look. “Y’know, the ones that had Misha laughing and you blushing?”

“A few,” Jared admitted, knowing exactly the stories in question and stepped back to give his friend room to step closer to him while admiring the long, lean tanned body Jensen had that those fans had actually described very well in those stories. “You?”

“A couple while you were sleeping one time,” Jensen replied, surprised that he didn’t feel more awkward or nervous to be in the shower with Jared naked.

He’d often wondered how this moment would feel since neither had ever admitted to having feelings for one another so thoughts or dreams of sharing a shower should not have come up but as he let his eyes roam the tall frame of his friend Jensen’s tongue darted out to lick his lips.

Jared was still taller than he was and Jensen knew once he was healthy again and eating regularly that the muscles and weight he’d lost these last few years would come back to fill in the body that still looked damned good.

“Jensen?” Jared was nervous now that Jensen was in here but silent, starting to shift a little while moving a hand only to have it caught and held before he could try to cover himself.

“I thought I was supposed to be the shy one?” Jensen knew his friend was wary and suspected that was the reason he wasn’t quite as nervous. “I bet I can make you blush too.”

“We’re naked in a shower. You’re lucky I’m not already blushing,” Jared snorted, relaxing at the touch of calloused fingertip moving down from his shoulder to slowly mold and trace each rib that he knew was probably showing due to the weight he’d lost. “I…I guess I lost some weight. I know this isn’t like you…I mean if you ever thought, not that I think you ever thought of us…God, please shut me up, Jen,” he begged as he heard himself start to babble like he would when nervous.

“I’ve had more than a few thoughts of you like this, Jay,” Jensen replied, reaching up to let his fingers stroke along Jared’s neck to feel his pulse dancing like mad under his touch. “Dreamed of you naked with the water sliding over your chest, your stomach…” he paused to lean up to touch his lips to Jared’s chapped weathered lips while letting his fingers trail back down slowly to hover along his waist to hear the soft moan. “Want me to tell you the best part of your soulless Sam arc?”

Jared’s hands itched to touch back, to be able to feel and touch Jensen like he’d desired to for years but still held back. “What?” he remembered to reply, seeing the crooked smile and relaxing slowly as he reminded himself that this was his best friend and if he could trust anyone like this it would be Jensen.

“The way you wore your jeans low on your hips for that arc and that scene in the…third episode with you doing the chin-ups? You aced the take in two but…I paid the director to do a few more takes just because I liked watching you,” Jensen’s lips moved down to slowly lick and taste the skin along Jared’s throat until he found the pulse point and began to tease it lightly with his teeth. “You can touch me back, Jay,” he murmured.

“If…God, if I touch you then I don’t think my hair’s going to get washed and I now really want this beard gone because I like to feel you kiss me and I don’t want to scratch you with this thing,” Jared’s blood was heating with every touch and kiss and there was no way to hide his cock’s response to Jensen’s touch.

Jensen laughed but got the point since he was also very much aware of his own body and knew it wouldn’t take much to send either of them over the edge and he didn’t want his and Jared’s first time together to be a fast jerk off in the shower.

“Sit down,” he decided it would be best if Jared was sitting down for this after he reached back to adjust the sprayer to allow him to use the detachable shower head so his friend didn’t have to move in order to wet his head. “Stella griped about your beard. Didn’t she ever complain about how long this was?” he asked while letting his fingers run through the now wet hair to hold it up and guessed it was at least four inches longer than Jared used to wear it. “I thought you’d cut it as soon as we were done shooting.”

Sitting on the bench, Jared was torn between being relieved or disappointed that his friend moved behind him in order to wash his hair. “I was tempted but…I sort of liked it by then so I left it alone. I just didn’t usually have the cash to keep it trimmed up to a decent length here and…I only trusted you or Clif to cut it so…it got long,” he bit back the sounds that almost came at the first touch of fingers in his hair after shampoo was added and a lather began to form.

“Do you want me to cut it a little or at least cut it to where it’s out of your eyes?” Jensen had been watching his friend and could see the subtle change in Jared as he gently lathered and then massaged his scalp.

Jared relaxed at the touch in his hair and on his head while another part of him had begun to come more to life but then Jensen was feeling a similar effect just from having his fingers in the thick dark hair.

“Yeah but…not tonight,” Jared had certain things in high priority and a haircut was not among them. “Jen, can you…can you come around in front?” he asked quietly, a little hesitant to ask.

“Hmm, I think that can be arranged,” Jensen suspected he knew what would happen but wouldn’t deny Jared the chance to explore or test his own barriers. “Of course you realize turnabout’s only fair,” he warned, tipping the soapy head back so he could smile into Jared’s upside down face before giving a light kiss to his mouth.

“So you told me ten years ago when I made the mistake of pranking you,” Jared knew his prank wars with Misha were legendary to the fans but the ones with Jensen had been kept out of the press or the online sources thanks to Clif’s hard efforts. “It’s been a while though. You might have to…remind me.”

The teasing and playing was still second nature between them even if this time it did hold a sexual undercurrent that it never had before.

“I plan to,” Jensen murmured huskily, stepping back in front to add some water to get more lather built up even though he knew he could have rinsed anytime but was enjoying the feel of Jared under his hands and also enjoying the sounds the younger man was making. “Like this, Jay?”

“Hmmm, huh-uh,” came the mumbled reply as Jared let himself relax more but now that he had Jensen back in front where he could look at the lean hard body he slowly raised a hand to touch the center of his chest and let it move down. “You?”

“Let me get you on a bed and then I’ll show you how much I like you touching me,” Jensen shivered despite the steam and warm water, glancing down to watch those long fingers trail over his body before hesitating over the spot where his thigh met his groin. “Jared, don’t be afraid to touch me. I won’t hurt you and you’ll know what you’re comfortable with,” he began to rinse the suds out but was extra careful to not get any water or soap in hazel eyes that were becoming darker and larger.

There was some fear involved since Jared’s experience with this involved a single night that he barely recalled if he had any participation that was under his control so he was trying to think of what he should do, what he wanted to do and also what his friend might like him to do.

“They make this look so easy on those movies or in magazines,” Jared muttered, fingers itching to touch the deep red and growing length of Jensen’s cock as he watched it twitch at the sound of his voice and he could feel when Jensen’s fingers tightened in his hair that he was just as needy as what he figured he was by this scenario.

After all the lather was out and Jensen was sure the hair was clean he reached for the shaving cream and razor, lifting his eyebrow. “Do you trust me to shave you?” he bit back a low groan at the first touch of hesitant fingers brushing up the underside of his very attentive and very hard cock. “Maybe…you better wait to do that until I don’t have a sharp razor against your skin?”

“No, I know you won’t cut me and…” Jared paused to lean forward to lay a testing kiss against Jensen’s bare stomach to hear a low oath but before he could pull back to look strong fingers were on the back of his neck to encourage him to continue and he smiled. “I trust you, Jensen.”

“Remember you said that when you explain to Stella why your face and neck are littered with little scratches and I don’t mean from the kisses I plan to mark you with later on either,” Jensen warned, his voice getting rougher, huskier at the feel of both lips peppering his stomach and chest with kisses and the fingers that slowly got braver. “God, I used to dream of feeling you like this, of doing this with you.”

To allow himself to be shaved Jared had to lift his face up so Jensen’s steady hand, or not so steady hand depending on what Jared did with his own fingers, could carefully scrape away the heavy beard.

“Me too,” Jared let his gaze move up to see brilliant and glittering green eyes were locked on his face while he carefully closed his fingers over the deep red and steadily leaking cock to begin to stroke it from base to tip and saw the way Jensen’s eyes deepened into an even deeper green. “There were times when the script called for us to fight or be in each other’s faces that it was so damn difficult to not get hard. I swear there were moments when you intentionally got closer than Dean needed to be.”

“Noticed that, huh?” Jensen was fighting to keep his focus on the razor taking away layers of beard and leaving smooth skin in its wake and off of the hand that had now found a nice rhythm to stroke him to full hardness with. “I wonder how many of the crew could see how hard you tried not to make the little noises that I can bring out of you now because I know I heard a few.”

“Jerk,” Jared snorted, amused but too hard and too focused to notice what his friend almost said in return because after so long of being their characters it seemed it was hard to shrug off the more basic responses. “I wish I’d seen it then I might not have been so scared to admit it to you or to myself.”

“We can’t take it back or change our mistakes but we can start now,” Jensen had never considered how sexy or hot it could be shaving someone until now, his fingers only shaking once and that was when Jared’s thumb slid over the slit in the head of his cock.

His hips were fighting not to move as the strokes picked up but the grip never got any tighter as if Jared was worried about squeezing too tight. “A…a little tighter, Jay,” he groaned, feeling the adjustment and also hearing the soft sounds escape his friend’s lips at the way he moved in his hand. “Almost done here.”

As the razor made the last pass, Jensen took a washcloth to wipe away any leftover cream and then brushed his knuckles along now smooth skin with a soft smile. “Hey there,” he murmured, dropping the razor to straddle Jared’s lap and running his mouth carefully over the razor tender skin to soothe and also tease. “I was going to leave a little scruff but I wanted to see you as you first,” he ran his teeth along the edge of Jared’s jaw to feel his shudder but he also wanted to return the favor of the sensation that he was receiving. “Can I touch you?”

“God, yes!” Jared groaned and spread his legs a bit more on the shower bench seat to give Jensen’s hand better access when it slipped down to grasp him in a strong firm hold and nearly lost it at the first movement along his weeping and ready cock. “Jen!”

“I didn’t want to do this now. I wanted to give you the time to get used to me, to us…to me touching you but…” Jensen let his head lower to Jared’s shoulder to begin kissing along it, up his neck until he reached the spot below his ear to lightly bite with the barest of teeth but felt Jared’s cock jerk in his hand.

“Ummm, want to feel you now, Jen,” Jared moaned, head falling to the side to allow Jensen’s lips and very active tongue to lick along his skin and gasping when it licked along the outside shell of his ear; hips shifting up as much as he could considering his friend had moved closer and both were losing themselves in the feel, the heat and need building. “Want to feel your hand on me when I come and…can I…I mean…”

Jensen smiled against his neck. “Touch me like you are, Jay and I can promise you’ll make me come just like I plan for you,” he sealed his lips over Jared’s collarbone and began a slow motion to suck and tease it gently, knowing it would leave Jared with an interesting mark and finding that hot as hell for some reason.

The water had started to run cool but there was plenty of heat between the two former co-stars that neither noticed the change in water temperature as Jensen’s other arm went around to hold Jared closer while he worked his hand to match the speed and rhythm that was working him.

“You know when you said you were good with your hands?” he groaned, grinding his hips closer to touch Jared’s own while also pressing their chests together. “I can fully attest to the skill of your hands, Jared.”

The freshly shaved face now showed the slight blush better and made Jensen laugh fully a second before his mouth claimed Jared’s deeply as hands and bodies met until both men were gasping and Jared was close to begging for release as his body ached with a need he hadn’t felt in years.

Jensen knew on instinct how far he could take Jared this time before letting them both have some release and as he felt the hard body against his shudder and Jared’s mumbled words became nothing but a jumble of mixed words that included his name, please and need well he knew it was time to stop playing and get serious.

“Shhh, gonna let you come, Jay,” he murmured into his slightly parted lips as he adjusted his hand to begin to stroke the fully hard, blood red and leaking cock in his hand while giving his wrist a twist at the end. “Just relax and just let go. I’m here with you.”

Jared was trying to hold off until he got his friend off but Jensen knew what he was doing with both his hand and his mouth and soon the younger man was gasping for reasons that didn’t include the congestion that he was no longer thinking about.

He could feel his balls tightening and knew he was close but it was the light touch of a fingertip running around the slit in his cock that did it and Jared felt himself come hard and fast with Jensen’s name spilling from his lips. “Jensen!”

“That’s it, Jay. Just ride it out and…oh God,” Jensen groaned as his own climax came quickly just by the looser touch that Jared had tried to keep despite the rush of his own orgasm but it was watching Jared’s face as Jensen continued to stroke his cock, now well lubed by the amount of come that covered both of their stomachs to help his friend through the aftershocks. “You’re beautiful, Jay,” he told him thickly, voice hushed with raw emotion and he kissed the other man deeply, hotly while letting his own climax rush through him until there were only the sounds of water running, soft groans and muttered words of love and reassurance until Jensen felt Jared go still against his chest.

“I’ve got you,” he whispered again, lips soothing over Jared’s closed eyelids while stretching back to shut the water off after using the extendable shower head to rinse them both clean and supported his friend as he began to slowly come back around after the rush and strength of his climax stunned him a little. “Love you, Jared.”

Jared’s whole body felt heavy as he began to stir at the gentle touch of warm hands holding him up while a towel briskly rubbed him dry. “…Jen?” he murmured, blinking his eyes to see that somehow his friend had gotten them out of the shower and was drying him while only wearing a towel wrapped low around his waist. “Did I…pass out?” he yawned, long arms reaching to wrap around his friend and decided that since he was still sick and also exhausted that he’d blame those excuses for the sudden urge to cuddle.

“No, you just…alright you passed out for few minutes but I don’t think you were ready for that strong of a climax yet so I won’t tease you about it…or the cuddling,” Jensen chuckled, dropping the towel into the hamper to slip his arm around Jared’s waist to help steer him back to the bedroom where he’d laid out clean boxers and a pair of sweatpants that Stella had bought to sleep in. “Feeling better?”

He’d meant the congestion but by Jared’s shy smile he guessed his friend was thinking of something else and hugged him close and settling his lips on his shoulder. “Not what I meant but I’ll take it if I can see you smile like that. Let’s get you dressed and in bed so you can convince me to cuddle.”

“Hmm, we don’t have to cuddle,” Jared was tired and he knew that was part still being sick and part what he’d just experienced. “I just want to sleep but…” he battled to dress himself until he collapsed back on the bed to briefly notice the dog bed had been moved into the bedroom. “…but if you want to sleep with me so I can use your chest for a pillow that would be good too.”

“That’s the line you used to use to get me to stay when you were sick too,” Jensen told him in amusement but waited until Jared was supported on some pillows to toss on his own boxers and a pair of sleep pants before slipping into the bed with him. “I never planned on not sleeping with or holding you, Jay,” he told him quietly, fingers carding back through think, soft and clean dark hair to watch his friend’s lashes fluttering as he tried to fight sleep. “Why don’t you want to sleep, Jared?” he asked with concern, not feeling a fever for the first time in days and noticing that the menthol steam had helped a great deal because there was no rattling when Jared breathed.

“Still worried that if I do when I wake up this will all be a dream,” Jared admitted while noticing that he wasn’t getting that foul smelling stuff put on his chest this time and took that to mean he must be doing better. “A little afraid that you won’t be here and that none of this will be…hmhm,” he moaned softly against the heated but slow kiss that cut him off.

“You’re not dreaming this and I will be here when you wake up,” Jensen assured him before easing back to just settle Jared against his side, not surprised when after another couple moments of thought Jared began to move until he was more on his side to lay his head on Jensen’s chest, close to his heart; a habit he’d gotten into when sick one time and fighting a bad fever. “Okay?”

Jared felt relaxed and better than he had in weeks, murmuring to himself at the feel of fingers running through his hair and down his now smooth face. “Jen?” he lifted his head only enough to see the slight nod. “I…love you.”

That was something that Jensen figured he wouldn’t get tired of hearing or saying for a long time as each time he said it or heard it from Jared it made him smile. “I love you too, Jay,” he returned and then lay awake for a long time to just watch his friend as he slept.

It had been a long time since the first day they’d met during a test shoot to see if they’d mesh well with one another as there were days when Jensen still couldn’t believe that Jared was 39 much less that he was 43 so as he took in the now smooth and clean shaven face he was reminded of every fall when they’d return to shooting and would have to shave.

Jared still reminded him of the young man that liked to prank the cast and crew or bounce on the balls of his feet after eating too much candy or how he’d just roll and spread himself out if he was sick or exhausted.

Jensen wasn’t sure what they’d do to fix the problems but he was certain of two things. The first was that he was not leaving South Padre without Jared and the second thing he was certain of was that his manager was going to be the walking dead.

Content that Jared was sleeping peacefully and that his lungs sounded clear, Jensen let his eyes drift shut and was soon asleep as well.

The next several days showed Jared improving dramatically to the point where he was able to stay awake the whole fourth day and got down a full meal of chicken, rice and potatoes which thrilled both Jensen and the worried Stella Spalling greatly.

It was on the sixth morning that Jensen woke up to find Jared and the dog sitting on the deck at the built in table with the umbrella up to ward off the full morning sun that he suspected his friend was healthy enough that he’d begun to think too much and that was never good.

“Why didn’t you wake me when you woke up?” he asked after pouring two mugs of coffee to step out and take in the array of colored sand that Jared was carefully pouring into a bottle and saw how each layer seemed to mix and mesh with the one before until it formed a patterned. “Where’d you learn to do that?”

“I was bored and brooding one day when I found a couple empty bottles on the beach and just began playing with it really. It was Stella who showed me if you mixed certain things into the sand that you could have varying colors to make a design with,” Jared leaned his head back to accept the morning kiss, smiling as his fingers went through Jensen’s hair when he deepened the kiss. “This is longer than usual isn’t it?”

“While I can’t carry the rugged long hair look off as well as you can I just decided to let it grow up some,” Jensen shrugged, pulling a chair closer so they were sitting close enough to touch casually. “Do you want to tell me what got you up so early today, Jay?” he asked after a few minutes of peaceful silence. “You were tense last night so…what’s wrong?”

Now that he was feeling better and could move more without coughing Jared understood that it should have been time to get back on with life but the thought of that tiny shack and spending his days hunting for bottles to make the sand art that gave him what little money he got didn’t hold the same appeal as it had before Jensen’s arrival.

It was thinking or overthinking that soon his friend would have to go back to his life, to his job that made Jared pensive this morning. That and what Pete had mentioned earlier that morning when he’d dropped off some fresh lobster meat for lunch.

“I was just thinking,” he replied, not wanting to say brooding but the way Jensen smirked told him that he already knew what he’d been doing. “I was not brooding, Jensen.”

“Yes, you were because when you brood or think too much about something that’s upsetting you that little vein in your forehead twitches,” Jensen corrected, reaching up to tuck a stray strand of recently cut but still long hair back behind Jared’s ear. “Talk to me? What’s bothering you?”

Tapping the bottle down to let the sand settle, Jared stared out at the ocean while remembering how fun it had just been to walk on the beach the last few evenings with Jensen and Dean or the day Jensen had rented a boat and they’d gone snorkeling.

With his hair trimmed and his beard gone no one there on the island, except the Spallings, had even given him a second look or knew he was the scruffy bum who lived in the shack up on the tip of the island so that reminded him also that he didn’t have to remain that man but it still worried him.

“How much longer before you have to get back?” he asked after a moment, rubbing the sleeping dog’s belly with a bare foot while feeling Jensen’s foot sliding along the back of his thigh.

They hadn’t done much more than they had in the shower and that was fine with Jared as he got that Jensen was trying to go slow and not rush them into anything except now that he knew his friend would probably be leaving soon it left Jared feeling anxious.

“A couple days probably,” Jensen had suspected that might be what was behind his friend’s change in mood because it had been after he’d gotten a text from the moron that still believed he was Jensen’s manager that Jared had gotten tense. “I guess we should talk about how this will work?”

“I think I’d rather have mindless sex until you need to leave,” Jared was a little shocked that he’d said that but it was what he felt and if the way Jensen’s eyes sharpened at the comment was any indication he felt the same way. “I knew you’d have to leave, Jen. I just…damn it, I’ve been living here for five years without a problem and now the thought of watching you drive off is just like it was the day we were told the show was over.”

He needed to stand, to move before the damn burning tears he could feel filling his eyes at those thoughts fell because he already owed Jensen so much for being there with him, for giving him so much, including his love, that he wouldn’t turn this into a scene from the soap opera that Jensen was going back to start filming.

“Is that what you’re worried about, me leaving?” Jensen smiled, stepping up behind him to turn Jared around and feeling a punch to his heart at the big sad eyes that had been Jared’s addition to his character of Sam Winchester and not the writers. “Jared, didn’t I mention a couple times that I wasn’t leaving here without you?” he feathered his fingers along his friend’s face to see the tension ease at the touch.

“I know you’re worried about going back and facing the questions that might come up. I know you’re worried about the asshole with a fondness for texting coming back and yeah, we might have to keep this side of things just between us for a little bit but…” he slipped the fingers of both hands around to the back of Jared’s neck to draw his head down closer so he could kiss him, tongue playing lightly until Jared’s lips opened to allow him to enter and explore. “…I am not leaving this island without you in the car with me, Jay. And the dog can come too.”

Jared had heard Jensen say that but he hadn’t really allowed himself to accept or believe it since he was hardly in the position to make a living to support himself back in LA along with the dozen other issues there would be if he went back.

“I…Jensen, I want to go back with you but I couldn’t afford an apartment and food and a license for Dean and…I’m scared to go back,” the last part was what he really feared after being down here for so long, on his own, in a shack the thought of the crowded streets and hassle of LA scared the crap out of him.

“Hey, you’re not a coward, Jay. You never were and you never will be,” Jensen broke in firmly, hating how much of the self-confident young man had been lost over what Jared still feared was his mistake. “It’s natural for you to be scared about going back because it won’t be easy and there will be a lot of crap thrown from a lot of directions but we will handle it,” he held the handsome face between his palms to hold it.

“We will handle it because I will be right there with you as you adjust to life outside this island and as soon as I fulfill my contract for Days then we can leave LA and go wherever you want because we both can act from wherever we live and,” he felt the slight jerk and caught the widening eyes to let his smile curve. “You are going to act again, Jared. It might not be right away because it will take some time to straighten this mess out, get your finances back in order and…bury that asshole blackmailer in a cell but you will act because I want to act with you again…in fact, how do you feel about daytime TV?”

That made Jared laugh despite how down he’d felt all morning and as soon as he laughed it was like a weight lifted and he stepped into his friend’s embrace; not giving a damn if they were outside in the bright morning sun or not.

“Considering the faces you were making when they used footage of your earlier time on Days I’m still shocked that you went back to it,” he chuckled then shivered as he felt hands slowly crawling under the shirt that he’d just pulled on but didn’t bother to button.

“The roles I was being offered didn’t appeal to me so when the producer called to ask me if I’d be willing to give it a go for six months or so I figured what the hell…now if you showed the least bit of interest I can see how much pull I have with those writers or Deirdre has with the writers and I can end Eric Brady’s habit of falling back in with Nicole in one easy arc,” Jensen’s crooked smile was more than a little devious and as he moved his hands across wide shoulders and down to slip under the waistband of the slightly loose jeans to tug Jared’s hips closer to him he knew the second it hit his ex-costar what he meant.

“Oh my God! Do you want the daytime soap fans to find you and crucify you if you got their beloved character rewritten like that?” Jared gaped, never watching the show himself but he was fairly certain his own mother would be among those who would revolt. “I thought you were going to choke when they made the character a priest.”

Well that had to be one of the weakest plot changes that Jensen had ever seen in his career so he was relieved that the writers had already planned a change before approaching him because there would have been no way he could have played the character that had started his acting career with a straight face if he was still a priest.

Now he liked the idea of seeing what kind of reaction turning Eric into a gay man willing to risk his family, his reputation as well as his life to help his friend and long-time lover.

“I bet I can talk them into it, Jay,” he was, in fact, going to give it a try because that would help things out a lot. It would ease Jared back into acting as well as give him something to do, let him think he was supporting himself since Jensen knew their next argument would be over living together. “It would only be for a few months.”

“Jensen, if you and I acted on Days together as lovers the press and the fans would pounce on that since they’ve always said we were…well, I suppose they were more astute than we were but…” Jared tried to knock down the interest he had in the suggestion while hearing the sound of a phone ringing inside the condo. “Didn’t you just say we were keeping this between us and a closed door?”

“True…but it would be interesting,” Jensen smiled, letting his knee nudge between Jared’s and felt the instant change come over his friend. “Plus it would draw out the asshole.”

“Jensen, as soon as it gets out that I’ve been seen much less if I’m seen with you it’ll probably start again,” and that was what Jared was dreading. “If it does I don’t know what to do because I can’t…can’t pay again but I don’t want…”

A finger touched his lips to stop him from speaking. “No, you aren’t paying but that son of a bitch will pay as will a couple other people for doing that to you,” Jensen remarked seriously, moving his hand back up but this time caressed over the chiseled chest that was once again putting on muscle and some weight now that Jared was eating again. “I need you to just trust that I know what I’m doing and I will look out for you…for us.”

“You want to lure the blackmailer out,” Jared knew that. He’d known it from the first moment Jensen learned the reason he’d run and the cause of it that his friend would want to deal with it. He just worried that it might hurt Jensen and that was what he’d been trying to prevent. “Jen, if he…even a rumor of us…I mean, even me living with you until I’m back on my feet will cause a ripple so maybe I should just…”

“If you stay here then I stay here,” Jensen shrugged simply, determined and he rarely lost a fight when he was this determined. “We’ll go back and we’ll go slow in letting you get used to being back and…who the hell even has this number?” he growled when the damn phone finally got on his nerves so that he stalked back inside to grab up the receiver. “Hello?”

“What in the goddamn hell have you and Jared gotten yourselves mixed up in, Jensen?”


Chapter Text

Chapter Five

“What in the goddamn hell have you and Jared gotten yourselves mixed up in, Jensen?”

The deep voice on the other end of the phone was not anything close to what Jensen Ackles had been expecting when he picked up. “What do you mean, Jeff?”

Jeffery Dean Morgan had played his and Jared’s TV Dad for a short time on Supernatural and despite there only being a 12 year age gap between him and Jeff, Jensen knew the older man still tended to look at them like they were his sons but this call was out of the blue and had a sinking feeling in Jensen’s stomach that slow might not work in breaking his friend back into the public eye.

“What time is it wherever you are?” Jeff demanded while his own eyes were glued to the entertainment portion of some morning TV show. “I knew something was wrong when Jared vanished off the face of the planet and I should have known when you took off out of LA like you did that it had something to do with him but tell me what I’m looking at is that damn piece of shit reporter acting up again. Tell me that Jared had not been living on some damn beach like a hermit and…”

“Son of a bitch!” Jensen swore viciously, grabbing for the TV remote to click on the TV just as Jared was stepping inside with Dean following at his heels. “Is it just that story or is there more?” he was asking his former TV Dad, finding the show and dropping the remote to reach for Jared’s wrist when he heard his breath catch and the soft curse.

“Should there be more?” Jeff demanded, muting his TV in order to pay attention to the voices on the other end of his phone as he listened to Jensen trying to calm someone, Jared he could only assume, down while also offering some very vocal opinions toward the damn reporter and also the show’s host. “Is this true, Jensen? Has Jared been living on a beach selling sand? Why? Is he with you now? Is he alright?”

Jensen was focusing on too many ways because while he let Jeff’s voice echo in his head it was Jared’s pale face and huge eyes that he was seeing, tightening his grip to prevent the reaction he expected soon and tugging until Jared was sitting on the couch with him as they listened to the very smarmy reporter that had told Jensen what was happening with his friend spin the tale to the nation while also tossing his name into the mix.

“Yes, it’s true but there was a lot more reason than what the maggot’s selling and yes, he’s here with me now,” Jensen finally spoke when he thought he might get a word in, sliding his arm around shaking shoulders to bring Jared against him as he added in a tone that he only used when speaking of Jared and only if he was speaking with someone who knew them both well. “As for the last question, he’s…getting there, Jeff.

“He was sick when I got here but he’s better. He just gets a little shaky over things that might bring back the trouble that made him disappear but I’ll take care of that as soon as we’re back in LA,” he went on, feeling Jared’s breath on his neck and knowing he was close to breaking but the moment a more recent blurry but still viewable image of the two of them on the beach popped up on the screen the actor felt his eyes pop out a second before he lost his grip on his friend. “Jay, wait.”

Pete had told him that someone had been snooping around the past few days and Jared had been meaning to mention it to his friend but had forgotten earlier. Now as he stared at the long distance shot of them walking on the beach while holding hands all he could see were the bright lights of cameras flashing as Jensen tried to explain and also his friend’s career being shot down all because of him.

“No, this is…you should’ve been safe here,” he whispered tightly, panic building as the show went back to a photo of them smiling from a Supernatural convention years earlier as they tried to get comments on this breaking story from people they used to work with and all Jared could see was the life he’d been so close to believing he could risk having just burned down. “I’m…sorry. I should’ve been more careful with you…I never…I…”

“Jared!” Jensen yelled as he tried to make a grab but missed as Jared bolted from the condo in a panic that had been building since first seeing the TV. “Damn it! Jeff, I’ve got to go. He…that last picture shook him up and I don’t want him running since he’s still got the bronchitis and…”

While he hadn’t been on the show long and not in every episode, Jeff had been on it enough and also kept his friendship with both boys to have an idea of what might be going on. “How photo shopped is that last image, Jensen?” he asked carefully, knowing what he thought since he’d seen a lot of doctored images of the boys over the years to have an idea of what was faked and what wasn’t.

As Dean whined and whimpered at the loss of Jared, Jensen was pulling his shoes on while rubbing the dog’s head to calm him down and also to calm himself down and squeezed his eyes shut. “Jeff, I have to go find Jared. I don’t have time for a lecture over being more discreet because at least this photo is real unlike the damn photo that someone used to blackmail Jay five years ago when my soon to be dead and fired manager spiked his drink to get him in bed with some asshole that when I find, I will break his face.”

“Huh,” Jeff took that in and made a decision. “You taking him back to LA with you?” he asked while flipping open his schedule to see what he could cancel or reschedule to make time for a trip.

“He’ll fight me on it now but I’m not leaving South Padre without my best friend and if the press wants to make an issue of it then I’ll give them something to make an issue out of but at least it’ll be the truth and not a bunch of lies,” Jensen growled, seeing his cellphone lighting up and suspecting who half of those calls and texts would be from.

Jeff smiled as he took in the tone as the one that he’d come to know was the one that both Jensen and his former character happened to share when it came to protecting someone he cared for. “I’m due back in LA for post-production on a film so…give me a call when you get here and I’ll be there for you guys.”

“You’ll…” Jensen stopped and then sighed, forgetting as easily as Jared had years earlier that no matter what else they still had friends who would help them when push came to shove. “I think I can say that we’d both appreciate that, Jeff. I know he needs to be reminded that he still has people who care for him and will stand up for him.”

“All it takes is a phone call, Jensen,” the older actor responded and knew there’d be a couple calls he’d make himself since he didn’t care for some of what he was hearing. “Go find Jared and don’t punch anyone.”

“One damn time, I punched someone one damn time and he never lets me forget it,” Jensen muttered sourly, petting the dog. “I’ll find him, Dean. I’ll bring Jay back and…Stella?”

The older woman had headed straight for the condo as soon as she and Pete caught that debacle on the TV during the morning rush at the restaurant. She knew by the worry on Jensen’s face as he opened the door that what she feared must have happened. “He ran.”

“Yeah, he was fine for the most part but when that one damn photo of us on the beach came up Jay got spooked and bolted but I’ll find him, Stella,” he assured the worried woman, handing her Dean’s leash. “I think I know where he’ll go but…I also think we might be leaving a day or so sooner than what I’d planned. Would you mind…”

“I’ll take care of this fella and I’ll pack your stuff and what he has as well as fix you some sandwiches for the road,” Stella assured him, reaching up to pat his cheek. “I knew from that first night that you were what that boy needed and I’m glad to know that he’ll have you no matter what those jackasses might say.”

Jensen was just hoping that his friend still knew that. He debated on taking the car but figured he’d make better time in it and perhaps could head Jared off before he got back to the old shack but hadn’t counted on all the traffic out on the island on the sunny morning so he parked a little closer and took the rest on foot.

A quick look at his messages showed him that most of them were from Todd with a few scattered in from Danneel, his parents, his brother and sister as well as one from Jared’s mother. There had also been calls from several former cast mates who were merely looking to warn Jensen what was heading his way without knowing that he already knew.

Jeff’s advice of making calls came back to him as he walked to the shack, seeing and not liking the staggered footprints in the sand while he scrolled through his list of numbers until he came to the one he wanted. “Hey, it’s me,” he began without greeting since he knew the man on the other end would recognize his voice if not the number. “Have you seen the…yeah, I know and no, you don’t owe Misha money but…I was wondering what you were doing?” he felt his stomach clench as he bent to pick up the discarded shirt while keeping an eye on the prints in the sand because if they even veered toward the water he knew he’d probably panic more than he was.

“I’m bringing him home to LA with me and now that this had hit I figure it’s going to reopen the can of worms Jay thought he’d closed when he took off to hide down here on South Padre and…umm yeah, by plane probably and…” Jensen blinked then sighed. “A day since I’ll just charter a flight back to LA once I find…no, I did not lose my best friend. He got a little scared and he’s fighting bronchitis so…” he stopped as he rounded the last corner to see what he was praying he would and addressed the man who was still lecturing him. “I’ve got to go. I’ll text you a landing time and…thanks, Clif.”

The cellphone was shut down to slip into his pocket. “Hey.”

“I’m sorry I freaked out like that and ran off but it was just too much right then,” Jared was sitting on the so-called step staring down into the sand before lifting his head to meet his friend’s gaze. “I knew realistically that something like that could and would happen but I…how angry is Jeff with me?” he’d guessed that had been who had called.

“Jeff isn’t angry with you over anything. He called because he wanted to know what was going on and there’s nothing to be angry with you about,” Jensen told him, approaching to kneel down to lay his hand on a shaking wrist only to have it grabbed and held. “You were backed into a corner and made to think you were alone when you came down here and I’m just as responsible for this because I should’ve made certain we were alone but those long distance lenses are a bitch. Why come back here?”

Jared had reacted on instinct and this was the only place he had but it was as he was running here that he slowly came to the realization that if he truly wanted to keep Jensen, either as a friend and more, then he couldn’t hide in the shack or on the island any longer.

“When I left the condo this was the only place I knew to go to but…” he glanced back to the broken windows, the thin roof and holey walls to sigh. “This has been home for five years, Jensen but now it’s like I can’t stand to even open the door.

“I came to South Padre because the money to go any farther ran out so I stayed. I stayed and lost who I was and became the man you found and I suppose I needed to be that man because it allowed me to keep you safe from that blackmailer and also that I could do more than act,” Jared eased his grip on Jensen’s wrist so he could lightly run his thumb along his friend’s inner wrist to feel the beat of his pulse quicken. “I mean besides the sand bottles which I mainly did to stave off boredom but I found that I liked helping Pete fix things up and while maybe letting me loose with power tools would be a little risky I enjoying building and fixing stuff to help others.

“I would like to act sometimes…with you preferably but I also want to try other things,” he glanced up to see the smile that always made him smile in return and knew he was being understood and listened to. “I don’t know how I’ll support myself or where I’ll live in LA but I…want to go back with you, Jen. I…I want to go home because home is where you are.”

Jensen felt some tension uncurl in his stomach at those words. He had been worried that perhaps Jared wouldn’t want to leave here. “I’ll support you in whatever it is you want to do but I don’t want you to worry about the small stuff because you can live with me and the rest will sort itself out,” he reached up to push the hair back so he could see Jared’s face fully. “I won’t lie and say it’ll be easy or smooth. Either dealing with this or the other issue or adjusting to living together again but we did it once and didn’t kill one another so I think we can do it again. Plus…this time there are added benefits.”

“I like those added benefits but just being with you is what I want, Jen,” Jared turned his face into the hand touching his face, pressing his lips into the center of the palm and heard a soft sound of pleasure. “I…I may need helping finding someone to help me sort this out or you can handle this or…”

“We will handle it when we get back home to LA,” Jensen assured him, being certain to stress the plural while leaning closer to offer a soft kiss. “I need you to trust that no matter how things go, because I’m sure it will get bad for a little while, that I’m going to stand by you and will make sure if that other matter comes back that the truth gets out. You are not facing the mob of press or the public alone, alright?”

After so long of being alone it was difficult to accept that he did have someone in his corner but slowly Jared nodded. “Should you…discuss this with anyone before really deciding if I’m worth the…I thought only Dean had that vein that pounded when angry?”

“He got it naturally,” Jensen replied, eyes sharp as he stared into Jared’s worried eyes. “My decisions were made when I came down here for you, Jay. I knew that night that I would not be leaving this island without you. You were, are and will be my best friend and…” he paused to run his fingers over a still furrowed brow until it smoothed out. “…you will be my lover if you make the choice to go that far. Now, who should I discuss what with?”

Just hearing that made Jared’s body heat but he still tried to cast some reason onto this because he couldn’t see it being as simple as what Jensen was making it out to be. “Your manager, your folks, Danneel?” he named off the first few that came to mind while also thinking that he should probably call his own parents but wasn’t sure how best to do that since he’d also avoided them these last five years.

“Danneel stopped having an opinion on my life when we stopped being married. I don’t have a manager but he just doesn’t know it yet and…” Jensen paused to pull his phone back out to hit the third number on his speed dial to move until he was sitting beside his friend on the very tiny makeshift step, nudging Jared’s shoulder playfully as he heard his father’s voice pick up. “Dad, I’ve got something to tell you.”

Jared’s eyes went wide as he stared into his friend’s smirking face. “You are not going to…” he went to grab for the phone only to forget how damn quick Jensen could be when he wanted to be and fell off the step when his friend stood up.

“Yeah, I figured out by the way my phone’s blowing up that you guys caught the morning show and while it’s bit more complicated than what was said my former co-star and soon to be new roommate decided I should discuss something with you,” he managed to avoid Jared’s longer reach by constantly moving backwards, a crooked smile still playing on his lips while his friend was muttering. “Yeah, Jared’s a little worried but now that I’m talking to you he’s even more…if you throw that at me it will end with both of us in this water so think twice, Jay,” he warned when he caught sight of the handful of sand Jared had been reaching for. “I thought you wanted me to ‘discuss this’ with my folks.”

“Not on the damn phone!” Jared hissed, making another grab for the phone only to grunt when he found himself on his back on the sand and Jensen straddling his chest. “This isn’t something you can tell your Dad on the phone, Jensen. I don’t want them to think I…”

“You didn’t just hit me over the head and make me love you, Jared. I’m afraid I made that choice all by myself even before the third season was over when that damn writer’s strike gave me plenty of time to think. I made the choice to love you. I made the choice to finally get my head out of my ass to tell you that I love you and while it might shock some people…I don’t think my family will be among those,” Jensen smirked while holding out the phone. “Say hi to my Dad, Jay,” he chuckled at the pure bitch face that earned him while switching his phone to speaker.

Alan Ackles had motioned his wife over while the bickering was going on but he was very much aware that while it might have seemed a careless slip of words he knew his son well enough to know that Jensen had just said what he’d been meaning to and now it was his choice how to handle it.

“Jensen, if Jared’s still sick don’t go tossing him into the ocean,” he instructed firmly, hearing the low voices going on before coughing. “Hello, Jared.”

“Oh, umm…hi, Mr. Ackles,” Jared replied, closing his eyes with an exasperated groan. “There’s a good reason for…ummm,” he stumbled on this part.

“For being as madly in love with his son as his son is with you?” Jensen offered helpfully, placing the phone on the ground so he could grab Jared’s hands before he could push him off. “This upsetting you, Dad?” he asked, silently hoping it wasn’t and that this idea didn’t blow up on him.

“No, but I think you should stop teasing the boy and tell him that you already told your mother and I the other night when you called to get that chest rub concoction recipe that you were going to tell Jared how you felt,” Alan winced at he heard the low shocked response to that as well as another grunt and guessed his boy had just been tossed. “I also do hope you plan on telling his parents in person, Jensen?”

Grunting when Jared showed he had more strength back and he found their positions flipped Jensen’s hand reached up to catch the back of his friend’s neck to bring his face closer; seeing the shock, the mild anger but also the confusion reflected there.

“Yeah, as soon as he’s ready for that we’ll tell Mr. and Mrs. Padalecki in person but I really called so you could tell him yourself what you told me,” Jensen held Jared’s gaze in reassurance.

“Your Mother told you that it wasn’t a real shock and so long as you were happy and Jared felt the same way then we’d accept whatever made you both happy no matter what else came,” Alan replied, suspecting there was more to the story but would wait until the boys were ready to tell it. “Jared? I’m speaking as a father now, are you happy and do you feel the same for my son?”

“Yes, I am and yes, I do,” Jared replied instantly and without hesitation, calming down some and letting his forehead rest against Jensen’s. “I love him and I’ll always try to not let how we feel or how I feel affect his life or career.”

As the soft disagreement offered from his son Alan just smiled while Donna Ackles shook her head like a parent dealing with two very different children. “I’m sure that idea will cause some interesting moments between the two of you,” he remarked calmly then addressed his son. “Jensen, just keep your temper when you’re in front of the press. I’d hate to send your brother to bail you out if you punch a reporter like you almost did the other week. Now I’ll hang up because while we’re very accepting toward this change I still need time before hearing anything.”

“Oh God,” Jared groaned, blushing from that comment but was soon distracted by the deep kiss given and he let Jensen roll them back so his back was flat on the sand. “You could have just told me that you’d already talked to your parents,” he complained, feeling the heat of the sand on his back but before he could mention it he was pulled up and let Jensen help him stand.

“I wanted you to hear it from Dad that they were okay with us but I also don’t want you to be ashamed of how you feel either,” Jensen brushed the sand off of Jared’s back to hand back his shirt while trying to do the same with his own before glancing to the shack and back at Jared. “I know how you feel. We’ve been over that but…does it make you feel ashamed for loving me?”

“No!” Jared replied firmly, eyes wide. “I was never ashamed of loving you, Jensen. I…I just don’t want other people to look at you differently for loving me. My reputation is shot now or will be once it’s learned why I left the public view so…”

Stepping up so their chests touched, Jensen’s fingers loved to touch his friend’s hair and especially when he knew it also soothed Jared if he was upset. “Jay, stop worrying about me. I’m a grown man who can take care of myself and you. I’ll take what comes without regret. Now, is there anything else in that thing that you need or want?”

“You already took my suitcase and Dean so…no,” Jared shook his head, moving his hand to accept the one that he knew would be there for him. “I have everything I need and want. I want to go home, Jen.”

Then that’s what we’ll do,” Jensen murmured.

By the time they got back to the condo, Stella had packed everything up neatly and had a basket of food ready to go. Pete had come by at her call that Jared and Jensen were leaving and they’d offered to take Dean but Jensen politely declined by saying that he was fine with taking the shoe eating monster and that both he and Jared would miss the dog if they didn’t take it.

“Thank you both for being there when I needed someone,” Jared hugged Stella, blushing as she hovered over him for a moment. “I don’t think I would have made it without you.”

“You just look after yourself and come back to visit us,” Pete shook hands with both of them before helping Jensen load the rental car. “You’ll look after him?” he asked while his wife gave Jared another once over to be sure he had everything he needed.

“I’ll take care of him and this,” Jensen understood the question and also the concern. “Thank you for helping him when he was alone.”

The old man gave a gruff snort while dismissing that with a wave of his hand. “He’s a good boy with a good heart. We’ll miss him and that mutt but like my old Granny always said the tide brings in what’s needed and then takes it back when it’s time so I told Stella the night you came that it was time for Jared to go back to whatever life he’d left.”

“And don’t you worry. If any of those snoopy people come around here asking questions I’ll give them a piece of my mind like I did that other one,” Stella said, hugging Jensen tightly. “Make sure you both eat too!”

Jared was quiet as they drove across the bridge off the island, fingers tense on the seat and only bringing his attention back when Jensen’s hand squeezed his. “This feels like it did the first time I left my parents’ house to be on my own.”

“You’ll be fine, Jay,” Jensen promised, tugging until he brought the taller man closer on the front seat. “I thought chartering a flight back to LA would be easier than driving the whole way. Is that okay with you or would you rather drive it?”

Driving meant putting off the eventual which appealed to Jared but since he was nervous about driving himself after five years of not touching a car and not wanting Jensen to drive all that way he agreed to flying. “Can…Dean go on the plane or will we need a dog carrier?” he didn’t like the thought of the puppy flying for the first time alone.

“Since it’s a charter he can stay with us,” Jensen replied with a look in the back to see the dog lying still and not being disturbed at the change in environment when he looked over to see the relief in Jared’s eyes. “If I didn’t think he could we just would have driven back. I wouldn’t have put him in a carrier in the hold, Jay.”

“I love you but I think I love you more just for that,” Jared smiled while beginning to play with the radio to find a station with music that they both liked until finally settling on one that played mostly classic rock and catching the dry smile. “I did usually agree with Dean’s taste in music and cars.”

Laughing, Jensen made the calls that would arrange the small charter flight as well as sending a couple texts once he was sure of the flight schedule.

He still ignored the messages left by Todd because he didn’t want to deal with the man over the phone but he did want to see if he could perhaps make him tip his hand in regards to his actions years earlier and that would require giving a subtle little push.

Jared had always fallen to sleep when driving so he wasn’t surprised when he felt his friend’s head fall against his shoulder as he drifted off to sleep and used that time to make another call to call in a favor.

The charter plane was ready by the time Jensen drove to the airport and he let Jared sleep while he and the pilot, a man that had flown them both a few times, loaded the plane. He was just coming back from convincing Dean it was safe to go up the steps to see Jared stepping from the car to stretch and rub his eyes like a big kid before shooting him a smile that Jensen loved to see.

“I was just coming to wake you up since I was not lugging your ass up into the plane,” Jensen smiled back, seeing the briefest moment of hesitation on his friend before nudging him up the short set of steps and into a seat as the door closed.

The dog was lying in a seat with a seatbelt on his harness until they took off but he didn’t seem agitated as he happily chewed on Jensen’s shoe.

“Remind me to get him his own shoes so he’ll leave mine alone,” Jensen smirked, pressing his palm against Jared’s as he felt him tense like always at the initial takeoff and held the tense hand until they were in the air and everything felt smooth. “Jared?”

“Yeah?” now that he’d slept in the car Jared doubted if he’d sleep on the plane was debating what to do until the slight change in Jensen’s voice caught his ear and he was smiling even before he heard the click of their seatbelts being removed, the divider between their two seats going up and hands began to attack his shirt. “Umm, we’re not exactly alone here,” he pointed out but the moment Jensen’s mouth closed over his throat he decided not to care.

“I paid the pilot and offered another five hundred if he didn’t stick his head out here until we land so we’re good for the next couple hours,” Jensen told him between kisses and little bites to his neck that soon had Jared squirming in his seat. “Been a while since I could touch you…or kiss you and if this was a longer flight into LA we’d be doing more than this,” he groaned, giving a breathless little laugh when he was moved physically from his seat over so he was in Jared’s lap. “Feeling better I take it?”

Content that they’d have some privacy and feeling braver, Jared gave in to the need to touch while working to remove Jensen’s t-shirt while also trying to get his own off with a growl of frustration that had Dean’s head lifting.

“Calm down and let me before I have to explain what happened to our clothes,” Jensen told him, gentling his touch as his hands began to smooth over Jared’s chest as soon as the shirt was pulled over his head and let his own follow suit. “Jay…” his fingers feathered over hardening nubs before moving them down to touch the scar on his side. “How’d you get this?”

The scar had happened shortly after he’d arrived on South Padre so Jared really didn’t consider it much anymore. “I got on the wrong side of some rich kid on Spring break. He jumped me one night. Pete stepped in and Stella stitched me up. I don’t notice it much these days,” he shrugged, arching in the seat when hot lips sealed over his nipple to begin to roll it with his tongue before sucking it into his mouth. “Shit!”

Jared’s head hit the back of the seat with a cry, fingers clamping on the back of his friend’s head when he started to release. “No, God, don’t you dare. I’m…not in pain…well, not from that and I may well die if you don’t touch me but…I now take back all the smirks and sneers and jokes I made about the fans who went on and on about that mouth and your lips because…I now think those should be listed as a lethal weapon.”

“I think the high altitude is making you silly but I’ll take the compliment and I am touching you,” Jensen murmured, lifting his head only enough so he could look up to see the lust blown hazel eyes gazing back. “Tell me what you want me to do, Jay.”

“Hmm, ain’t got enough time or a bed to do what I want you to do and I guess it would be too hard to explain why we had to change clothes so I guess that rules out plan B,” Jared’s chest arched into Jensen touch while he tried to bring his mind off of sex before he got much harder. “Damn, I should not be this clear headed with you doing things to me like you are and…fuck, Jensen…” he whispered while losing himself in the heated kiss that found his mouth.

Jensen was now determined that the first chance he got to have Jared alone in a room with a bed and a lockable door to ensure them privacy that he would make sure his friend could not focus or have the ability to think but since he reluctantly agreed that this was not the time or place for what they both might have wanted he sighed before softening his kiss and easing back.

“I promise that soon it’ll just be us, our place, a locked bedroom and hot sex,” he let his tongue tease and play with Jared’s until the younger man was gasping but when he turned his head to cough Jensen got to his feet to grab the small bag he’d stuffed in the overhead compartment to pull out the bottle of cough medicine.

Jared had gotten over most of his illness but as they both knew it was never easy for him to shake bronchitis and would probably still be in need of the cough medicine, throat drops and the occasional chest rub a few weeks longer.

“Airplanes always make your cough worse so I should have thought of that,” Jensen poured some in the cup and watched the expected faces come over the taste as he sat back in his seat to pull out a tablet but leaned over to over a soothing kiss to Jared’s frowning lips. “We’ll be in LA soon, so we can talk or you can try to sleep some more or you can play on this.”

He’d been sleeping on and off since first waking up with Jensen so if Jared could avoid that he did. He’d been eyeing his friend’s new phone to see what it could do since he’d left his behind like he left so much other stuff behind but the tablet didn’t hold much interest. “Talk to me while we see what Stella packed?” he asked, feeling the need to hear his friend’s voice most of all the closer they got to California.

The basket of food was gone through while Jensen found some chilled bottles of water and they spent most of the flight talking and catching up on the real world.

Jared asked about their friends and Jensen told him what he knew. He made the younger man laugh with tales of some bad role choices he’d almost made even though Jared still laughed the most about Jensen going back to daytime TV.

“I will admit this because if you ever repeat it I’ll deny it or just say I was high on cough meds but while I didn’t watch the show, my Mom and aunts did so I did used to go through the room while it was on so I did develop a small crush on Sami,” Jared had made sure Jensen had swallowed so he wouldn’t choke when he made that confession, slapping him on the back when he did almost choke a little.

“I will so forget you said that,” Jensen shuddered and then slapped his friend in the head. “I will also keep you off of the set unless of course you want to try my plan?” he wiggled his eyebrows to get the laugh and smile he was hoping for.

“Jen, not only haven’t I acted in five years but I highly doubt the producers would come near me with all the bad press that will probably be coming to light,” Jared remarked, toying with the label of his empty water bottle before adding quietly. “Though…I’m not signing off on the idea for good, I still say though that if you try to get Eric Brady rewrote you would be slaughtered.”

Jensen packed the uneaten food back up for later before stretching over the seat to place a hand under Jared’s newly returned shirt, green eyes flashing playfully. “Right and all the fans who have been coveting a chance to see us together would probably overwhelm all the rest of them.”

That did make Jared smile, relaxing again until he thought of something. “Jensen? Have you…seen the boys?” he asked hesitantly. “Do you think they remember me?”

The pain of not seeing his sons was what hurt Jared the most over the last years Jensen knew and he understood that since he knew how much his friend loved those boys. “I haven’t in person but…” he pulled out his phone to scroll through to find the picture Danneel had sent him recently that had his daughter and both of Jared’s sons together. “Dani sent me this from one time she and Gen had lunch. I’ll send it the printer at home so it’ll print off for you until you can see them in person.”

“You think she’ll let me see the boys after vanishing like I did?” Jared questioned with the silent hope that his ex-wife would understand his reasons and not keep his sons from him but wouldn’t blame her if she did. “They might think I just left them, Jen. I know that’s what it looks like and what people will say but…”

“Hey, we’ll handle it and you will see the boys soon,” Jensen promised, letting Jared have the phone so he could look at the photo longer; slipping his arm around broad shoulders that had carried too much weight for too long and felt them tremble. “You’re a good father, Jay. You did what you thought was best because you were pushed. Let me handle it now?”

Letting go of control wasn’t always easy for Jared especially over this but he knew he’d been out of the loop for too long and Jensen was the only man he’d trust to take care of him and the mistakes he’d allowed to happen.

“Love you,” he whispered, letting his head rest on Jensen’s shoulder while handing the phone back and feeling the plane shake as began to go into its landing routine. “I’m actually scared.”

“Don’t be. I’m right here with you and you won’t face anything alone,” Jensen assured him, holding and squeezing the fingers gripping his hand when the pilot opened the door separating the cockpit from the passenger area.

“Mr. Ackles? We’re landing now but I thought you and Mr. Padalecki would like to know that airport security has reported a mass of pain in the ass newshounds and paparazzi surrounding the front gate and that your driver will meet you right as we land so you don’t have to deal with going through them,” he called back.

Jared had tensed at this but Jensen merely snorted a smirk plain on his face as he let his thumb move slowly along his friend’s wrist to calm him back down.

“It’s just like it was up in Vancouver or at the Cons. This is nothing that we haven’t faced before, Jay,” he remarked calmly, seeing and ignoring the incredulous look to sigh. “Fine, it’s slightly different but we’re not dealing with the press right now. We’re going straight to my place in the city. I will make some calls, handle some stuff and then we’ll arrange to meet the press but on our terms. Jared, I swear this will work out.”

“I know. I trust you but…when did you arrange a driver?” Jared reached across the seat once they were on solid ground to unhook Dean from his harness, chuckling at the face full of happy doggy kisses he received.

“Before we even left South Padre actually and I just texted him when the plane was due so he’d be here,” Jensen shrugged while glancing out the window to see the black SUV with tinted windows as it pulled up to where the steps for the small plane would descend. “You take Dean and the basket of food and get in the car while I help the pilot toss our stuff in,” he could feel the ripples of tension coming off his friend like waves and could only hope this worked out well.

The familiar airport sounds were almost enough to soothe Jared’s nerves as Dean practically pulled him down the steps to the waiting SUV that was another familiar thing as he opened the back door to motion the dog to jump and followed Dean into the backseat to wait for Jensen.

He was looking around to see his friend as he opened the hatch to toss their few bags inside before joining Jared in the backseat instead of taking the passenger seat up front like he might have before.

“How many do you think is out there?” Jared was glad the windows were tinted as his stomach clenched when the SUV drove out the gate to be slowed by the mob of flashing cameras and people trying to get a look. “Never mind how they found out that you were flying in.”

“Probably someone back at the airport in Texas reported it and it wouldn’t take long to guess where we’d be heading,” Jensen sat back in the seat to stretch his arm over the seat to gently run his fingers through the back of Jared’s long hair while Dean got curious and hopped into the front seat before either man could stop him. “Still okay with dogs?” he called to the driver who’d kept his back to them with a ball cap pulled low on his face until they were away from the gate and the odds of running over anyone was less.

“This thing’s a dog? I thought it was a small hairy pony,” he remarked with a snort, pulling the hat off his bald head to turn in the seat after they stopped at a red light to give both men a familiar look. “So, which one of you want to fill me in on what happened to cause this?”

The voice had Jared’s head turning to stare into the familiar mock stern face of their former bodyguard. “Clif?” he blinked, not sure who to stare at first. “How…what…what’re you doing here?”

“Driving the two of you away from this madness and probably into a bigger one,” Clif Kosterman remarked with an easy shrug, catching Jensen’s eye in the mirror to give a worried nod toward Jared while not missing the subtle changes between the two friends.

Clif had been the one with Jensen and Jared most of the time during the shooting of Supernatural and also when they weren’t shooting so he’d seen a lot. He’d also picked up a few signs that he’d been fairly certain his two favorite actors hadn’t been aware of until now it seems because there was no way he could dismiss the casualness in which Jensen’s fingers were lightly playing in the back of Jared’s hair or the easy manner in which Jared leaned toward the other man.

“Did you arrange what I asked you to?” Jensen asked.

“I have a company from outside the area reworking the whole security of your house outside the city in the hills while I tweaked a few things in the apartment since that didn’t take as long but…” Clif sent another look into the back. “Did you know there were video and audio surveillance in your bedroom?” he asked carefully, adding with a cough. “I mean, I know what you and Danneel did was private so if you wanted to…this is a rental so don’t break the handle, Jensen.”

Jensen’s facial muscles had jerked while the hand not soothing Jared tightened where it had been lying on the arm of the door. “No, I did not know about those and they shouldn’t have been there,” he gritted, feeling a hand touch his leg and reaching for Jared’s hand. “Did you deal with them?”

“Yeah, I shut them down and a hacker friend is trying to trace the feed to see where the reception was being sent,” Clif replied, deciding to toss another match on the fire. “Have I mentioned that I hate that asshole of a manager you still have? He called at least 30 times while I was there but I didn’t pick up and luckily he didn’t show up because I might have had to squeeze his ass into the laundry chute.”

“He’s only my manager because I haven’t talked to him to tell him any different,” Jensen replied, feeling Jared’s eyes on him. “I’ll handle Todd but only after he puts the final nail in his own coffin because if he’s calling this much then he’s really upset.”

“He’s your manager, Jen. He’s got a lot of friends here. If you fire him…he could keep you from working or…” Jared hated the man but he was also worried about Jensen if he went up against him. “We can’t prove he was behind what happened to me that night at the party or the blackmail or…” he had to be quick to put a hand out when the SUV swerved as Clif nearly turned fully around in the driver’s seat.

“What happened to you at what damn party and what the hell do you mean someone was blackmailing you?” the big man demanded sharply, eyes narrowing as the little pieces began to add up and he cursed himself for not seeing it sooner. “Dammit, Jared. Why the hell didn’t you tell me or Jensen?”

Jared’s eyes dropped as the still vivid shame started to come back only to feel Jensen’s fingers against his neck, calming down somewhat. “By then you weren’t our bodyguard and…it was Jensen I was trying to protect,” he replied softly.

By the time Jensen gave a short version of the reason behind Jared’s vanishing, the former bodyguard was growling and silently vowing that someone would be bleeding. “So that means it stands to reason that whoever blackmailed him back then might be making a return appearance now,” he mused, catching Jensen’s gaze again and seeing the glittering anger behind those calm green eyes. “After you fire the asshole, can I punch him?”

“You can drop him in the tar pits for all I care,” Jensen replied with a shrug while moving over more in the seat so he could let their shoulders touch. “Anything else going on we should know about?”

That made Clif smirk since he knew Jensen already was aware of what had brought out more of the press and also probably what had sent his ‘manager’ into a fit but played along. “Well, the Twitter feeds have been going wild over some rumors out of the Days production office it seems,” he commented blandly, tongue in his cheek when an eyebrow just lifted in innocent curiosity.

“Gotta admit, I can get where you might want to break from the Dean stereotype and if those rumors are true you can’t get much further away from him but…seriously never thought I’d see you playing an ex-priest turned recently out of the closet gay man in the trouble with the big powerful bad guy just to help his recently come to town lover,” he heard the choking sound from the backseat and knew it was Jared. “Rumors also say the producers have a firm lead on who to play opposite,” he lifted his gaze up to meet wide hazel eyes with a small smile. “You boys don’t do anything small, do you?”

“Huh? What?” Jared was still in shock from the first comment before it hit him what the driver was getting at and he blanched before turning to stare at his best friend. “Jensen!” he knew he was coming close to yelping but Clif had to be wrong. “You didn’t…I thought you were kidding about getting the writers to turn Eric gay and… oh my God, this could be worse than being blackmailed.”

Waiting until it looked like Jared might be calming down Jensen ran his palm down the center of his friend’s back and up again in a slow soothing way. “There’s a method behind my apparent madness, Jay,” he assured the younger man, seeing the doubt there and grinning. “If you’re trying to draw out an asshole who clearly wanted you away from me then the best way to do that is give him an irresistible target and the producers agreed that while it would never happen…yet, it would be interesting to twist the fans up over something.”

“They should have just let Misha do it since he was always good with provoking your fans,” Clif snorted, pulling into the underground garage of the apartment that Jensen owned in LA but hardly ever used. “Of course I should also mention that a good many of those tweets were really for it…especially they said if the Days crew could get Jared to play opposite.”

“That won’t make people a little curious about us?” Jared blinked, confused and worried as the SUV was parked and Clif got out first. “I thought you wanted to keep this quiet for…mmhm?”

As soon as Clif was out Jensen was moving to pull Jared close enough to kiss him fully with heat and tongue until pulling back to brush his thumb along his bottom lip. “What people assume will always be out there, Jay. They assumed you and I were lovers back then and we weren’t. It will be harder to sway them from the belief with that new photo out there but right now I’m working on dealing with the other matter. I swear that I will not out us in the first 24-hours of being back in LA.”

“Is it bad that a piece of me really doesn’t care if you do?” Jared shivered at the kiss but eased back to get out of the SUV when Clif hit the roof to give them a chance to clean up their act before he began unloading their bags. “You think Clif suspects anything?”

Jensen laughed. “I think Clif suspected back then so I could probably kiss you in front of him and it wouldn’t shock him but I won’t shock you by doing that so let’s go up, get settled and see how many thousands of messages I have.”

Each apartment had its own private elevator so Jensen knew he and Jared didn’t have to worry about press or people since the reason he’d bought the place was the security took their jobs very serious and had a no cameras allowed policy but on this day it seemed empty so he took that as a good sign…until he caught sight of the newspaper that had been left laying very deliberately open to the entertainment section while a manila envelope had been propped against the door.

“Son of a bitch,” he wasn’t shocked but he was surprised by the lack of effort and stupidity of leaving it right on his doorstep.

The paper, a cheap tabloid, showed the very photo of Jared six years ago in bed with the back of the unknown man with a very clear headline ‘Former Supernatural stars finally come out?’ in bold print.

“Jensen?” Jared had come up the hall with Clif following and Dean sniffing at all the new smells. “What’s…” he stopped at the paper and the envelope in his friend’s hands and knew without the grim look on Jensen’s face what it was. “Oh God.”


Chapter Text

Chapter Six

“Oh, God.”

“Well, this just might have tipped his hand,” Jensen muttered, stuffing both the paper and the envelope under his arm while grabbing for his friend as he took in the wide eyes and paling face. “Jay…just breathe and calm down,” he urged, quickly unlocking the door and pulling Jared in with him. “It’s okay.”

Jared knew it wasn’t. Of course he wasn’t stupid and had known that picture would surface sometime soon but he hadn’t expected it this soon. “It…it says that’s you,” he whispered as he read the headline, shaking as he felt himself being eased down onto the sofa in the living room with Dean jumping up on his lap as if sensing his emotions. “That’s not you Jen. It wasn’t you but no one will believe that and…”

Tossing the stuff to Clif who’d been demanding to know what was wrong, Jensen quickly sat beside his shaking friend to pull him into his arms without a care that they weren’t alone because he knew if they couldn’t be themselves around a man who’d seen some pretty hair raising stuff then this wasn’t going to work.

“Jay…Jared, listen to me,” he began to talk calmly, voice never rising or changing tone as his fingers carded back through long hair. “We knew this would come out and despite how bad it looks this is what needed to happen to put a stop to it. Sure, some fans and people may believe that’s me but…”

“Excuse me, that is so not you,” Cliff tossed the paper with a disgusted look while tearing into the envelope to see what else had been left. “Anyone, friend or fan who knows a damn thing, will know that is not Jensen and I want the name of the asshole in question,” he growled because it also would only take one decent look at that photo to see the glassy eyes to know that Jared had not been with it that night.

“I get first crack at that jackass,” Jensen replied firmly but his focus was still on Jared who had slowly begun to stop shaking but his fingers were tight when they curled into his t-shirt. “Calm down, take a few breaths and we’ll sort this out but no matter what happens this nightmare will end and whoever started it, whoever thought it was a good idea to blackmail you or chase you away from me will find out that Dean Winchester is not the only person who will rip someone’s lungs out for hurting what’s mine.”

Clif kept a close eye on the sofa until he saw Jared finally let out a slow breath and turn to bury his face in the crook of Jensen’s neck as the older man continued to speak softly to calm him down.

The former bodyguard had known in his heart that something bad must have happened to cause the change in Jared at the end and finally to make him just vanish but he’d never once considered it was this bad or that some moron thought this would be a good plan to try.

To the public at large who looked at Jensen Ackles, they only saw a handsome actor who kept to himself and was quiet and polite. They saw and assumed the image portrayed was who Jensen really was but Clif knew better.

He knew Jensen had a temper. It was rare and hard to bring out but threatening or hurting someone that he cared for was the best way to bring it out and while he might not get physical unless pushed to a certain point Clif was only well aware that the actor could take someone apart without so much as touching them…or letting him touch them and whoever was behind this would soon be facing that side of Jensen.

“Not very original,” he decided as he looked at the poorly typed small note. “Whoever this moron is he’s faking the usual blackmail toughness. Says Jared shouldn’t have run and then he never should’ve thought it safe to return. The cheap tabloid is the first to get the photo, unless he’s given 50K in 24-hours he’ll submit it to the mainstream press along with the sordid tale of the drunken party and ruin Jensen’s career,” he looked up with a scowl. “What the hell is his obsession with Jensen?”

“He knows what Jared would do to protect my career. That’s how he got to him before and how he thinks he’ll get to him now,” Jensen remarked with a smirk, rubbing his hand up and down Jared’s arm while the dog decided it was safe to get down to begin to survey his new home. “What else does the note say or what else is in there?” he asked since he was content for the moment to let Clif look at the note.

A brief look had the bodyguard rolling his eyes. “The usual, a paper with what I assume is a bank account number that’s supposed to be untraceable, more threats and…Jared, what the hell did they do to you at that party?” Clif’s tone had gone hard as he stared at a small but very clear photo with a very clear message to Jensen attached.

“I…can’t remember it all,” Jared hated that he couldn’t but as Jensen was handed the snapshot and his whole body went rigid but refused to let him see the photo he wondered if that might not be a good thing. “Jensen?”

Crushing the photo in his fist the anger that had been there since first learning what had happened to his friend nearly surfaced but Jensen was quick to put a lid on it since he didn’t want Jared upset more this soon and since this photo was sent along to give Jensen the warning of what it would do to Jared to have this one published he knew it was time to stop this.

“You don’t need to see this one,” he told his friend while making a choice. “I’m going to have Clif take Dean for a run in the park while you take a hot shower and try to relax again and I make some calls. Then we’ll order some food in and…” Jensen slid his eyes toward the bedroom with a playful smile that had Jared’s cheeks turning pink and Clif coughing.

“Hey! You two can just cut out all the wiggling eyebrows and hinting at what’s probably going to happen the second my back’s turned,” Clif rolled his eyes while getting two innocent sets of eyes watching him as Dean came over happily with his leash as if knowing he was going to get to go out. “I’ll check on the progress of the security reprograming while Dean…you seriously named this dog Dean and I are walking. Lock this damn door and don’t open it for anyone unless you know them.”

“I hired you as a driver not as our bodyguard again,” Jensen argued but the crooked smile gave away that he wasn’t upset as he walked the man and dog to the door while looking back to see that Jared had laid his head back on the sofa. “I’ll call the bastard just to get him to quit calling but I need you to do me a favor and set up a press conference tomorrow afternoon but before that I want to meet with our less than favorite reporter pal in one of the conference rooms at whatever hotel you can get for this.”

Clif had figured the press would have to get involved and had made some inquires that morning to a few friends who were more able to handle those things so he nodded but he winced at the other. “Why would you want to talk to him?” he asked. “He’s been a pain in the ass since the first convention and should I remind you that he’s the one who went on the morning show with that story of Jared living on the beach?”

“True and I hate the man with a passion but I want at least one person to know the true story and while he’s an asshole and he’s hounded and badgered us all throughout the show he never printed anything that wasn’t already out there,” he got the worry but knew they needed to have an edge and the reporter would hopefully be it. “He could have just run with that photo and story before telling me about it, Clif. He tipped me off and gave me at least a week or so before he went with it so now I’ll give him a story but like I told Jay, it’ll be on our terms and my conditions. Tell him that and if he shows he shows and if he doesn’t…I’ll go to Plan B.”

“I won’t even ask what that is,” Clif sighed with a shake of his head, pausing before closing the door. “Will you two be alright?”

“He’ll probably sleep and so will I after I make those calls. We’ll be fine, Clif,” Jensen assured the man. “Thanks for doing this. I know it looks bad but I will fix it.”

Clif just hoped it would be that simple as he and the dog left for a couple hours because he suspected whoever had started this wouldn’t be so easily discouraged.

Locking the door and checking the new alarm code, Jensen went back to get Jared moving into the shower and after he made certain his friend was awake enough to handle it he went back out to punch in the number of the man he now could have cheerfully beat to a pulp.

“Todd, it’s Jensen,” he wondered if he sounded as snippy as he thought he did.

“Jensen! Where the hell have you been?” the manager demanded sounding angry and stressed. “I’ve left you over a dozen messages or more. Do you have any idea what’s being plastered over the TV and online about you and…”

“Yeah, I’ve seen a couple things,” Jensen remarked as casually as he could sense even the man’s tone was like nails on a chalkboard to him. “I didn’t really bother to check my messages and stuff while I was on South Padre looking for my friend.”

Todd Lawrence had been furious when his biggest client not only took off when he should’ve been filming the daytime show but when he also missed several well planned events he’d set up. When the damn reporter did that morning show he got even angrier because he’d thought he’d taken care of all that crap only to realize it might be time to remind his client’s ex-co-star of what was best for him.

Then Jensen’s words sank in and he sat up in his chair. “You were doing what?” he stammered, suspecting as much which was why he’d had the items delivered to Jensen’s door in a desperate last ditch effort to stop this before it got worse. “Jensen, where were you? We need to meet to try to decide the best way to smooth this crap over and make up a cover story for that photo on the TV that showed you supposedly holding hands with…him.”

“With Jared,” Jensen corrected carefully, not liking the change in tone just then. “I went looking for my best friend, Todd. You remember him or you should since you worked really hard to get him the hell away from me it seems or how else will you explain to me why you lured Jared to a party that you knew I wouldn’t be at, got him drunk and then let some asshole who works for you…I want his name by the way, to lure him into a situation you damn well knew Jared couldn’t control because of whatever you slipped him. Feel free to jump in anytime, Todd.”

“I…I…don’t know what you’re saying or accusing me of but it’s clear someone’s filled your head with lies. I would have no reason to ‘lure’ Padalecki anywhere much less get him drunk to fix a situation,” Todd’s voice now took on the stilted tone of someone trying to be innocent. “I might have spoken with him over a role or two which I did to help you but if he was stupid enough to get drunk at a party and have sex with some guy then it’s on his head what happened to him. You need to be concerned with how this will look on you.”

Making a fist while wishing it could reach through his phone, Jensen took a deep breath. “I’ve arranged to have a press conference tomorrow afternoon to clear some things up. You can come if you want but I don’t need you there. In fact, I don’t want you there because I’m a little pissed that first you convinced my friend not to take a role that he’d been wanting, a role that you knew I wouldn’t go for and then you told him that I didn’t want anything to do with him, got him drunk or drugged and made it look like he was having sex with some guy that from the back might make people think it was me.”

“I’m your manager Jensen! Why would I do anything to suggest you were having inappropriate sex with a man like Padalecki?” the manager demanded with a huff, not caring for his client’s tone or how much he actually knew. “Perhaps you should ask him that if you ever find the freak…”

“If you ever call Jay anything but his name or if you even think of publishing that other photo to try to get me to fall in line I will make sure that high priced dentist you have earns his money when he has to put all your teeth back in your damn mouth,” Jensen snarled, walking to step out onto the balcony so his voice wouldn’t carry to the bedroom. “I have talked to Jared, Todd. I’ve done a lot of talking, a lot of listening and a lot of reading between things he didn’t say to know that you and whoever might have helped you blackmailed my friend because you knew Jared would never let my career be hurt.

“Now understand this…I’ll talk to the press and I’ll tell them what Jared and I want them to know. That may or may not include it all but it will include the fact that my friend dropped out of sight for five goddamn years to hide away from some bastard who blackmailed him even though he believed until the day I told him differently that I hated him,” he could still see the shame and fear on Jared’s face when he’d told him what he could remember and vowed that his friend would never feel that again. “Jared’s my best friend, he’s like a brother to me and…not that it’s any of your business but he’ll also be my lover.”

The choking on the phone was loud and then the curses started. “No! You will not degrade yourself by having some filthy affair with some backwoods Texan! I forbid it!” the man yelled. “I’m your manager, Jensen! I control your future and if it takes more pictures then I’ll plaster them all over the…”

“Oh, and I should have mentioned that Clif removed all the cute little devices you had planted in my place but he added one to the phone just in case you or someone like you made the screw up you just did, Todd,” Jensen’s smile was tight, his stomach was clenching and he had a headache but at least he was right. “You’re not my manager because I faxed the agency with my letter stating I was firing you yesterday morning and that I’d be seeking management with someone else but not to tell you as I wanted that honor. Now that I have, stay the hell away from me, my career, and my friend because if you think you have crap on Jay…I’ll turn it around on you.”

He disconnected the call in the midst of the screaming outrage while taking the time to block the number so no more calls would come in and also to call the security office with instructions that Todd Lawrence or anyone representing him was not to be allowed into the building or near his apartment.

Stepping back inside the living room, Jensen shut and locked the balcony doors before putting the rest of Stella Spalling’s food in the refrigerator and letting his fingers touch a bottle of beer but instead went with water since he was too tense right then to drink and because Jared was still taking medication he wouldn’t give him alcohol and had never liked to drink alone.

By the time he’d gotten a better grip of his swirling emotions and the anger at Todd had been buried more the shower had stopped running.

Jensen gauged the time it would take Jared to towel off and dress but when he stepped into the bedroom he couldn’t help but think of those devices and felt his temper spike again.

“Jensen? What’s wrong?”

Letting out a slow breath, Jensen forced a calm smile with a raised hand to wave the concern away as he turned to face the taller man only to stop in mid-turn to feel his mind go blank, his heart still and a burst of lust shoot right through to his groin at what he saw in front of him.

Jared had taken more time in the shower than he would have normally but he’d used a couple of the menthol tablets when he felt his chest rattle a little so he’d showered while breathing in the steam.

The shower in Jensen’s apartment wasn’t as large as the condo so that would limit things greatly but knew that wasn’t as important as just being together and adjusting to this change in things.

He debated on shaving but did so quickly as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror with a towel wrapped low around his hips. He could see the change that just a few weeks had made.

The shadows under and in his eyes weren’t as bad now that he was sleeping more and without all the worry and fear that had plagued him. He wasn’t as thin since both Jensen and Stella harped on him to eat so he’d begun to eat better and he’d noticed the showing ribs weren’t quite as noticeable anymore.

Jared expected it would take time to regain his full strength or half the muscle he’d lost but would do so slowly. He still had concerns and fears, especially now, but trusted Jensen and would let him take care of things and wouldn’t run from this as he had before.

On some instinct, Jared had known his friend had entered the bedroom and quickly finished shaving but didn’t bother dressing yet as he opened the door to shiver as the cool air from the bedroom mixed with the hot steam from the bathroom to blink his vision clear until he caught the tension rolling through Jensen’s shoulders and suspected the call he made hadn’t been pleasant.

“Jensen? What’s wrong?” he asked, concerned until his friend turned and in the blink of an eye Jared saw the flicker of lust that flashed over Jensen’s face and felt his own body respond to the heat staring at him. “Umm, I should dress before Clif brings Dean back. I’m sure you have things to handle and…”

Jared couldn’t explain why in the hell he was tripping over his own tongue or why his palms were sweating or why when his back suddenly hit the wall next to the bathroom with Jensen’s chest pressing against his own he was nervous.

“We’ve made out and gotten each other off in a lot of ways and in a lot of places back at the condo so why’re you shaking now, Jay?” Jensen asked. His voice husky and deep as his mouth hovered lightly over still damp skin that smelled of soap, menthol, and Jared. “Do I scare you now?”

“No, not you,” Jared got out, biting down on his lip to keep from groaning at the feel of teeth lightly raking along his neck before biting over his collarbone. “I could never be scared of you, Jen. This just feels…the way you looked at me…I’ve dreamed of you looking at me like that since I was 24 and realizing I wanted you but… I told you that I didn’t have a lot of memories of the night at the party and I don’t. I just remember that it…hurt and that…scares me,” he admitted quietly.

“I know and I’d expect you to be scared but I won’t hurt you, Jared,” Jensen hated to think of his friend being in pain from anything but especially that he’d suffered pain when he shouldn’t have. “We can step back and slow down tonight. I just wasn’t expecting to feel what I did when I turned to see you because I won’t lie and say that I don’t want you now, Jay,” he worked to get himself under control. “I do but I won’t do anything until you’re ready.”

Jared could feel the need and want coursing through his own body and he also could feel the heat and pressure pressing against his thigh from where Jensen was standing so close that the straining cock encased in jeans could be felt.

He understood slowly what his friend was doing and loved him more for it because Jensen was willing to step back, to ignore his body’s needs if Jared needed more time before they took the next step.

Ignoring the brief flashes of memories Jared’s hands slipped from where they’d been flat on the wall to Jensen’s narrow waist to give the slightest of tugs, bringing him in closer so one of Jared’s thighs could slip between his legs causing both men to groan.

“Want you now, Jen,” he whispered while seeing the varying emotions that crossed Jensen’s face. “I’ve wanted you since I was 24 and I want you now. Sure, it’s a little odd and I’m nervous but I know I’m safe with you. I know you won’t let us do anything you think I won’t like and if I want to stop you will.”

“God, you’ll kill me with words before we even do anything,” Jensen muttered but didn’t move back as his hands began to touch and caress over Jared’s chest and stomach while his lips kissed and sucked over his jaw, back to his ear and all the while he could feel Jared’s body straining not to move against him. “Jared, did you ask him to stop?” it wasn’t a question he was sure he wanted to ask but knew the answer just by the drop of Jared’s head, the way his lashes lowered to hide his eyes as a single tear slipped from the corner and his lips thinned and trembled. “Shhh, c’mere, Jay.”

The anger was huge but more important to Jensen was his friend as he wrapped his arms around him to bring him away from the wall and into his arms to just hold him, feeling the slight shaking that slowly began to stop when his hands began to rub and touch along Jared’s back and over his shoulders.

“We do what you want, how you want and I will always give you time to adjust or stop,” he murmured softly against his ear, beginning to softly kiss Jared until he was relaxed and only then did he ease back enough to hold the set of darkening eyes to nod at the bed. “Your choice, Jay.”

For Jared there really wasn’t a choice after so many years of wanting. Now that he was being offered his heart’s desire and to know that Jensen shared his feelings his choice had been made up down in South Padre the first time they’d kissed.

“I…I want you to…I want us to…” it felt weird to try to find a word to describe what he wanted since he didn’t want to sound too soft but he also didn’t feel right using the other words and could tell by Jensen’s little crooked smile as he continued to stroke his back that he was going to wait until he said it. “I want us to…have sex,” he finally said, cheeks tinging a faint pink as he waited to see what his friend would say or do.

Jensen had seen the inner battle going on inside Jared and had guessed what it would be over. Jared had been teased mercilessly over how soft and emotional his former character could be at times without anyone really understanding that in a lot of ways that was Jared’s core personality fueling Sam Winchester so for him to consider using certain words in regards to what they were about it do would be hard.

“Make love,” he corrected softly, placing feather soft kisses over Jared’s face while backing him up until they were sitting on the bed and he began to tease soft lips with his tongue until Jared’s lips parted on a soft moan of need. “It’ll never be as basic or crude as just having sex or fucking and while I also won’t say it’ll always be slow and gentle I will swear to never hurt you intentionally, Jared.”

“I’m not a girl and I don’t always want slow,” Jared snorted, gasping as he felt fingers brushing over the length of him as it began to tent the towel in response to Jensen’s touches and kisses. “I just wish I knew what to do to make this better for you other than lay here and…oh!”

“Uh-huh, it won’t be that simple, Jay,” Jensen chuckled at the soft cry as he once again let his lips find and tease Jared’s nipples until the younger man was arching into each move of his mouth while his hips wanted to thrust up to find the teasing fingers that were lightly stroking across Jared’s stomach, down past the interesting V that disappeared past the towel. “Trust me, baby. You’ll be an active participant in this.”

The endearment slipped before either man realized it but Jared merely smiled and kissed Jensen softly. “What do I do first?” he asked, reaching to remove the towel only to have Jensen stop him. “This needs to come off I think.”

“Smart ass,” Jensen chuckled, licking into his mouth again to explore it slowly, deeply and only once he could feel some of the tension draining out of Jared did he ease him back more until they were both lying on the bed. “Slowly, Jay. This time we’re going slow so you can enjoy every touch,” he slid his lips down to the hollow of Jared’s throat. “I want you to enjoy every feel of my fingers on you, in you and so you can experience this fully.”

“What…what pleasure do you get then?” Jared asked, unaware of how his hips were thrusting up or when the towel disappeared to leave him hot, hard and already aching for release.

Pushing up to his elbow so he could look his fill of the long, hard body of his best friend and soon to be lover, Jensen’s smile was pure love as he finally met Jared’s gaze to see the glassiness of lust already well in control. “I get to enjoy watching you come apart the first time I make you come with my cock inside you.”

“Jen, this is not going to take long if you keep saying things like that, man,” Jared was hard and he could see his cock was already dribbling drops of pre-come from the slit but he was certain he’d lose it right as his breath caught in his throat as he watched Jensen’s dark blond head duck lower to lick the drops away with a slow seductive motion with the tip of his tongue. “Jensen…” he groaned, fingers digging into the soft cotton sheets.

“I will never get enough of touching or tasting you, Jay,” Jensen told him, knowing what he was doing and loving each sound he could illicit from Jared with just a touch or a word. “Can you get on your knees for me or do you want to stay on your back?” he asked, hands shaking as he pulled his shirt over his head but only unbuttoned his jeans and lowered the fly to relieve the building pressure as his own cock wanted out to find release but Jensen knew this was going to take some time before he got Jared ready enough that he was comfortable enough to go forward.

Jared had seen enough gay porn in his time to know what needed to happen plus he did have some sharp memories of the night of that party to tell him why he needed to be on his knees. It left him uneasy but he put it aside to start to roll over only to be stopped by a hand on his shoulder.

“Wait,” Jensen kissed the side of his mouth before disappearing into the closet to return with several pillows that he placed under Jared’s chest and stomach to make the shift in positions a bit easier to handle. It also helped to keep his friend propped up enough that his leaking and hardening cock couldn’t find friction easily. “Okay?”

“Yeah, I’m…I’m good,” Jared replied, voice tight and also a little shaky as he got a bit more comfortable only to jump at the feel of strong fingers rubbing his shoulders to help him relax them. “Hmm, sure you don’t want your character to just have a different sort of job?” he asked with a low moan of pleasure. “Has Days ever had a massage therapist?”

“Probably since I gave up keeping track but I like my idea though…a gay massage therapist who met his lover when he taught him the ropes of Oriental massage also sounds good,” Jensen pressed his lips to the knob of bone along Jared’s spine to both hear and feel him go limp. “Relaxed again?”

Jared raised a thumb, turning his head to the side to try to watch what his friend was doing as he felt the bed shift a little. “Jensen?”

“It’s okay, Jay. I’m here but I need to warm this up before touching you with it cause it’s cold despite the whole warming part of the title,” Jensen hadn’t used this bottle of lube before but had accepted it as a gag gift from one of his friends a while back and had kept it. Now he was glad that he had as he gave the bottle a quick read before flipping the cap up. “Still okay with this?”

His body was relaxed except for his cock which was hard and needing attention so Jared figured he was more than okay with what was happening. Now he just had to tell himself to stay that way once the pain he was expecting began.

Pain he was expecting but he wasn’t expecting the feel of something both warm and cool and slick being poured into the crease of his ass. “Whoa! Jensen?”

“Shhh, relax. It’s just the lube,” Jensen assured him, biting his lip in concentration while applying some of the warming lube on his fingers as well since he wanted to make sure he used enough to help the prep time go smoothly for his nervous friend. “It’ll feel cold for a second but it’ll feel better soon and I’m only starting with my fingertip.”

“Finger?” Jared moved to try to look over his shoulder but went still at the first gentle touch of a calloused fingertip brushing along his crease to search for and gently find his tight puckered hole. “Jen? I thought something else was supposed to go in there.”

“God, I love you,” Jensen smiled, some of his own tension easing while he gently circled the tight hole to allow his friend the time to get used to the touch since that response just gave him all the other answers he needed. “I’m not going to just shove my cock up your ass without some prep time and lube, Jay,” he refused to ask what nearly came to mind because if he did then he would let Clif run someone over. “Tell me if it gets too uncomfortable.”

Jared wasn’t sure what he was feeling except his cock twitched with each touch of Jensen’s finger on his rim. He tensed only slightly when that slender finger slid in a bit further but heard Jensen’s soothing voice in his ear as warm lips skimmed along the shell making him shiver. “Want to feel you,” he heard the slight whine but ignored it since his body was heating up again.

“You will, Jay. You will feel me and I promise this will be good too,” Jensen kept his finger moving shallowly to allow Jared time to get used to the feeling but it was hard because the moment he slipped his finger in deeper and it was instantly sheathed in tight heat his own cock was pushing harder to be free. “You are so damn tight and hot,” he murmured, working slowly with his finger as it hit the first ring of muscle while letting his other hand slip between Jared’s legs to find and gently touch his balls as a way to distract him.

“Hmmh,” Jared moaned, dropping his head back to the pillow at the feel of those confident fingers working each of his balls slowly and carefully with a gentle tug and pull that had him whimpering and moving his hips to find some relief for his cock that was now fully hard and dripping steadily. “Jen, I won’t make it like this if you keep touching me there. I don’t want to come before you.”

“Shhh, it’s fine, Jare,” Jensen eased his hand back to begin to place hot kisses along the tense shoulders until he once again felt Jared relax by then he felt his finger slip past the wall of muscle to go in further to move slowly and cautiously until he also got past the second wall and soon found the bundle of nerves he’d been searching for to just brush his finger over it to see the reaction he’d get.

“Shit!” Jared yelled, totally not expecting to feel like his whole body had been electrified to leave his hips thrusting back into the touch on his ass while also seeking friction in front of him. “Jen?”

Jensen loved watching all of these reactions in Jared as well as the sounds but the small sound of panic just then reminded him that his friend didn’t know what he should feel as he was still comparing it to before. “Jared, are you enjoying this?” he needed to know that because no matter what he was feeling or how Jared’s body was reacting to the stimuli if Jared wasn’t enjoying this then he was stopping for the moment.

“Yes, God, yes,” Jared replied, gasping as he felt that feeling again to relieve it was something Jensen was doing with just his finger. “Will that…will it feel that good when you’re…inside?” he asked with a blush, looking up as he felt his friend lean in closer to kiss him deeply.

“Better,” Jensen promised with a warm smile and then split his attention between distracting Jared with teasing kisses along his jaw, down the length of his neck before leaving a trial of hot kisses over the width of his back and down his spine while he worked a second finger inside to join the first. “Consider this part like all the time they’d scout locations or set a scene. I’m setting this scene so that you won’t be hurt when we move on to the next part…laughing at me right now is also probably not advisable.”

“I know but only you’d compare having sex to filming,” Jared seemed to relax fully after that, enjoying the warmth spreading over him and in him as Jensen lovingly and slowly prepped him for whatever was to come since it had finally come to the younger man that this was nothing like he’d been expecting and just put his trust into his best friend.

He still knew he’d probably come as soon as Jensen entered him because his cock was fully hard, leaking steadily and twitching with desire with every kiss or touch of those long fingers moving carefully to stretch him but always working to give him some pleasure without knowing that every simple touch gave Jared pleasure.

“Jen, please,” he gasped, feeling strung out already and a little impatient. “Wanna feel you. Just get in me and…God!” he felt that burst of electricity shoot through his nerves as well as a deeper feeling of fullness and groaned.

“Soon, Jay,” Jensen’s voice was strained from maintaining control but it was harder now as he worked three fingers into his friends stretched and flexing hole, moving his lips over the small of Jared’s back to soothe the shivers he’d felt going through him. “God, you’re still so tight but…Jay, this may still hurt a little at first,” he didn’t want it too but knew he couldn’t do much more right then and that after a few times of making love that it would get easier but it was this first time that worried him. “I’ll go slow, I’ll talk you through it and once it stops hurting I promise it’ll feel so damn good but if you want to wait we…bitch face now?”

Jared knew the look he’d shot over his shoulder. “Jen, I love you but if you even try to back off now I might hurt you,” he warned, recognizing the concern and loving his friend for it and trying to reach his hand back to feel it grasped tightly. “I’m not a kid. I knew going into this that it would hurt and you’ve shown me that it doesn’t have to hurt like it did before. I trust you. Now…get the hell inside me or I’ll let Dean chew up every pair of leather shoes you own.”

“I will make you so sorry if you try that, Jared,” Jensen returned, his green eyes had gone deeper in color while seeing that the opposite hazel eyes were more pupil than color but worked the three fingers a few more careful twists before pulling them out while pressing a kiss to Jared’s hair. “Give me a second to get rid of these,” he urged before sliding off the bed only far enough to finally shed his jeans and boxer briefs, biting back a low groan of relief as his own blood red, swelled and dripping cock was freed of the material. “This first time probably won’t take as long as what I’d like since it’s been a long time and…” he drew off as Jared’s gaze went to pure lust as he took a look back.

“There’s always the next time,” Jared remarked as calmly as he could manage since looking back to see the size of Jensen made him both anxious and worried. “I…just…okay, a little nervous if that’s going to fit but…now he’s smirking, Ackles?”

“Trust me,” Jensen whispered in his ear, tipping Jared’s head back enough to kiss him deeply with heat and need filling them both as he poured more lube in his hand to coat his own cock since he didn’t want to try this with just precome and whatever lube he’d used to open his friend with. “Ready?”

“Been ready,” Jared shot back, taking a deep breath but let it out when he felt Jensen behind him but instead of pushing in he was letting his cock brush over the crease of his ass before slowly shifting so the head finally touched his well stretched hole. “Oh.”

Jensen’s teeth were clamped on his bottom lip to fight back the groan that nearly came at just this first touch of tight heat over the head of a cock very much ready to explode but he held back on the urge to push in and instead leaned forward to kiss along the tensing shoulders until Jared was more at ease. “Hurts?”

“Yes…no…I’m not sure,” Jared’s voice was ragged from holding in the sounds that wanted to come but he didn’t want to distract Jensen. “It feels…fuller but…go in more, Jensen,” he urged, trying not to move but it was hard to not push back to get more of that length inside while also wanting to touch himself.

Despite so much stretching Jared still felt tight so Jensen worked to go slow as he eased in until finally hitting that first wall of muscle. He felt the tension in both of them but lay forward over Jared’s back to wrap an arm around his chest while licking a slow wet stripe up his neck to see him smile. “Have I mentioned lately that I love you, Jared?” he asked teasingly, easing out until just the head remained before giving a gentle thrust that took him deeper and had Jared gasping and moaning.

“I love your laugh, your smile, the way you look at me, the way you’ll just sit down and play with the dog and so much more,” with every word he spoke Jensen offered soft kisses and with every other kiss he moved so that he was slowly inching his cock forward more into Jared. “Love you so much.”

Jensen’s voice had dropped to a deep, husky whisper with just a touch of the Texas accent that he hardly ever let appear when he spoke and it was enough to make Jared nearly come just from that but he strained for control while feeling the slight burning pain in his ass that had him tensing until he let those words flow over him.

“I love you too,” he murmured, turning his head to glance back with a small smile; taking in the intense concentration showing on Jensen’s face and he knew why.

He knew what it was costing his friend to go this slow and he knew Jensen was doing it for him. “I’m okay, Jen,” he told him and knew he was. “Please…I need to feel you. I need to come but only with you.”

That made it harder for Jensen’s control not to snap but he merely nodded, letting his hips roll forward to watch Jared’s face reflect the emotions he was feeling.

There was slight discomfort but it lasted for what seemed like a blink and then the bloom of pleasure came as he came flush with him and stayed still to allow Jared to adjust to feeling him fully filling him before easing back to come forward again only this time he angled a bit to let his cock brush over that little bundle of nerves and smiled into his friend’s neck when Jared’s whole body arched back into him.

“Oh my God!” Jared’s eyes had closed at the low pleasurable feeling of just being filled and knowing what it was, who it was and feeling safe and loved…then Jensen moved and the feeling hit like before but only so much more intense and he snapped his eyes open. “That was…I’ve never felt…again?”

“Always,” Jensen chuckled, body tight with the need to thrust but he was enjoying watching the boyish enjoyment on Jared’s face as his prostate was touched with every move of his hips now. “Go ahead and move, Jay.”

It took a couple attempts before they found a rhythm that matched and soon all that was heard in the bedroom were the sounds of low moans, gasps and flesh meeting flesh.

Thrusting his hips forward with just a bit more force, Jensen could feel himself getting close and knew Jared was past the point of close but was holding back with some inner strength that Jensen would never have.

“So close now, Jay,” he breathed into his friend’s ear, hearing the soft moan and whimper but words had stopped making sense. “Come back to me, baby,” Jensen used the strength in the arm that had wrapped around Jared to bring him up so his chest was pressed against Jared’s sweat glistened back.

The change in position also increased the pressure when the cock buried in his ass touched his prostate, making Jared shake with need and he heard himself begging even if he wasn’t sure what he was begging for. He knew his words were mainly Jensen’s name and please as he reached back on instinct to pull his friend closer while feeling fingers close over his leaking and aching cock. “Jensen!”

Jared’s long hair was slick with sweat from what they were doing, his body was shaking with desire and as Jensen reached down with his other hand to being to stroke the dripping and ready cock he kissed along Jared’s jaw until his friend turned his head more so their lips could meet.

Stroking Jared slowly at first, Jensen let his tongue slip past willing lips to run along the inside of his friend’s mouth while feeling him thrusting back and then also forward into his hand, whimpers being swallowed by the hot kiss.

“Come now, Jared,” Jensen whispered against kiss swollen lips and groaned as he felt the instant reaction as he gave another two strokes of his hand over his friend’s shaft to feel Jared’s body stiffen a second before he came hot and hard over Jensen’s hand and Jared’s stomach.

“Jensen!” the shout came as his orgasm rocked through him, leaving Jared gasping and sobbing as his hips rocked back and forth to try to work through the climax while not wanting it to end.

“I’m here, Jared. Just relax and let yourself feel,” Jensen’s voice was ragged, rough from fighting back his own orgasm and trying to keep his hand stroking evenly over the now over-sensitized cock to help his friend get as much from his climax as possible. “I’m right…oh shit,” he groaned when he felt his cock that was still moving inside Jared, brushing along his sweet spot to draw it out suddenly was clamped down on by tight inner muscles that soon had him following his friend over into orgasm.

Jensen couldn’t recall the last time he’d come that hard or for that long but it soon didn’t matter as he worked his hips into shorter thrusts while settling his lips over the rapidly beating pulse in Jared’s neck as both men slowly began to come down.

Jared felt himself getting soft but it was the feeling of warmth filling him and realizing what it was as his own body tightened around Jensen to milk his cock of every drop of come filling him that made him moan softly, turning his face enough to catch his friend’s lips to kiss him with as much strength as he had left. “Thank you,” he whispered before feeling himself going limp.

“Jay? Jared?” Jensen felt the change a second before his friend’s body gave in to the strain and exhaustion as well as the rush of the climax to let it draw him under into sleep and was quick to tighten the arm that was still wrapped around Jared’s chest to hold him back, smoothing his lips along his neck with a loving smile and a shake of his head. “Dude, you’ve got to stop passing out on me like this,” he chuckled.

Slowly he felt his own orgasm slowing down but stayed where he was, ignoring the burn in his upper thighs of the strain of holding them both upright but he wanted to keep this moment for as long as possible until with a murmur against Jared’s neck he eased his friend down to the mattress, following him down to turn them onto their sides to just lay still and allow things to cool and calm down.

Jared’s lashes were closed, his face peaceful with a smile playing on his lips as he slept and only whimpered softly as Jensen finally eased out of him to go into the bathroom to get a warm cloth to clean them both up before dressing in a clean pair of briefs and sleep pants and slipping the similar onto Jared before climbing back into bed to gently gather his friend into his arms.

“Shhh, go back to sleep now, Jay,” he whispered as Jared stirred in his sleep while turning over so his head could lay against Jensen’s shoulder with an arm slung over his stomach in a complete and full sleep for the first time since they reunited. “Love you.”

Laying there for a while to listen to Jared’s soft breathing, Jensen’s fingers carded back through the long dark hair to smile at the way his friend moved into the touch even in his sleep and slowly he let his eyes close to let himself sleep peacefully and relaxed before he would have to face the den of lions tomorrow to explain things and also help Jared over one of the last hurdles to return him to the world.



Chapter Text

Chapter Seven

The sun was just starting to come up when Jared Padalecki began to wake himself up. He wasn’t sure how long he’d slept and just knew Jensen would never let him live it down that he must have passed out again but after the experience of making love with his best friend Jared decided it would be worth the teasing.

Yawning, he moved the arm that was still lying across Jensen’s stomach to rub his eyes that he moved only enough to smile as he took in his sleeping friend.

Jared had liked waking up some mornings if he’d been sick or something and Jensen had stayed to watch over him because he enjoyed waking up first to just look at his friend.

When sleeping Jensen had always seemed younger than he was, more relaxed and it was also the time where Jared could see the freckles that were scattered over Jensen’s checks.

Jensen hated the freckles and would often growl if anyone ever brought them up but Jared adored them even if he was wise enough not to mention it out of fear of having his candy supply cut off back then.

Debating on waking Jensen up or getting coffee and checking if Clif had brought Dean back Jared chose to pick the safer route to start the coffee because as he’d learned back on South Padre his friend could still be surly without coffee when he woke up.

“Be right back,” he whispered with a feather soft kiss to his friend’s lips and then eased from the bed, testing before he stood up but found he was only a little sore from yesterday unlike the other time in which he could barely move for days.

Content with just the sleep pants since it was just them in the apartment, Jared didn’t pull a shirt on or shoes as he silently slipped from the bedroom to go see if he could figure out the kitchen and make coffee while also hoping there was something to snack on since he didn’t want a repeat of the grilled cheese mess back at the condo.

He noticed dog toys scattered on the floor which told him the still growing dog was somewhere. “Dean? Hey, c’mon, boy. Let’s find some food,” he called softly as to not let his voice carry and wake Jensen since he knew he had a busy day ahead of him anyway. Jared had almost reached the kitchen when he suddenly almost knew that he wasn’t alone and felt himself tensing even before he heard the voice.

“Gee, son, perhaps I should’ve explained to your brother that there was a limit to what I expected him to do when it came to ‘taking care’ of you?”

The voice was still gruff and low just like John Winchester had spoken when addressing his boys but the dry humor of its owner could also be heard. However it was the next voice that spoke that had Jared feeling like going through the floor.

“You should’ve been talking to our youngest about cutting his hair since I think it’s longer than mine.”

“Oh my God,” Jared breathed, turned slowly to see the very amused Jeffrey Dean Morgan sitting on the sofa alongside the pretty blond haired Samantha Smith who had played Mary Winchester. “You…you guys…” he stammered a few times while trying to work his still sleepy brain around the fact that his TV parents were sitting in the living room of his lover/best friend/former TV brother. “When…when did you guys get here?” he finally managed to ask, cheeks turning a faint pink.

“Clif let us in about an hour ago since we thought we’d bring breakfast but then Jeff had to talk poor Clif out of a corner,” Samantha smiled as she stood up to cross the room to lean up and kiss the younger man on the cheek while adding. “Something about the sounds you and Jensen were making would never leave his ears.”

“I’ll be seeing about pouring some hot wax in there later today,” Clif remarked from the kitchen where he’d put on the coffee as soon as he’d heard movement in the bedroom.

“You heard…” Jared groaned, trying to find something to say to explain it when he finally made a default decision and turned on his heel to go wake his friend. “Be right back.”

“He’ll be back after he wakes Jensen up to let him try to explain this,” Jeffrey nodded while accepting the mug of coffee from the former bodyguard while eyeing his former TV wife. “So? Ignoring the over embellished description from Clif, what do you think?”

She smiled fondly before sitting back down to hit him in the shoulder. “I still think Jared’s adorable when he blushes but he’s also clearly worried and uneasy over this so don’t tease him too much and we’ll see what road Jensen takes on this.”

Clif suspected he knew what Jensen would do but kept quiet and just made more coffee.

“Shit, shit, shit!” Jared was swearing as he practically bolted back into the bedroom, shutting the door a little harder than necessary but the added noise did make the sleeping man in the bed begin to stir. “Jen? Jensen? Wake up, dude,” he urged, sitting on the bed to lightly shake his friend while trying to control the panic he could feel building. “Jen!”

Not an early riser under the best of circumstances Jensen’s one eye opened to a slit to start to offer a low warning that the room had better be in fire until he saw how pale and shaken Jared appeared and then he was fully awake in the next heartbeat.

“What’s wrong?” he instantly wanted to know, sitting up to reach out and was surprised that instead of moving into his arms like he expected Jared grabbed his wrist to begin tugging him out of bed. “Whoa! Jay, what’s the problem? Is something wrong? Are you hurt or…”

“Our TV parents are in your living room and I guess Clif stayed last night when he brought Dean home and he sort of…heard us so he mentioned that to Jeff and Samantha and…” Jared was speaking quickly while trying to get his friend out of bed and also find a shirt only to be pulled backwards until he landed with a soft grunt on his back while lips kissed him firmly but slowly until he began to settle down.

“First, good morning, Jared,” Jensen began softly against his lips, smiling despite the pounding of his own heart. “Secondly, calm down. I know we said we’d keep this low key but there are some people who that might be hard around and that would include a few from the show. Let me get a read on it before we decide how to play it,” he’d known Jeff was probably planning to come see them but he hadn’t been expecting Samantha and he most definitely hadn’t expected their ex-bodyguard to stay the night without letting him know.

Jensen could see and feel the tension in Jared again and didn’t want that so despite what he knew he should be doing; he took his time kissing him again until he felt him lean up into the kiss. “Did you enjoy last night, Jay?” he asked, laughing at the bright smile and kiss that earned him. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

“I wish I’d stay awake afterward one time just to get you to  cuddle,” Jared smiled, arching up into his friend’s touch as Jensen teased his fingers down his bare chest. “Jen…we’re not alone and…is it weird to say I feel more uneasy with having them here than any of our real parents?”

“It could be worse,” Jensen told him but did finally stand to reach for a shirt to pull on but let his shoes off for the moment. “It could be Jim,” he smiled, taking a deep breath to open the bedroom door to step out. “Hey, do I need to change the locks of my place to keep the riffraff out or what?” he asked with a forced lightness that he hoped would put off how uneasy this whole situation was.

“Hey, I decided to stick around after the downstairs security said they turned away that asshole moron who used to manage you three times before he started sending his cronies around,” Clif replied, holding out the mug of strong coffee that he knew was his way to the other man’s brain. “I figured you and Jared had crashed early so I didn’t want to wake you…I am now scarred for life.”

Jensen offered a gesture in reply to that while drinking the coffee with a hiss before crossing to let the woman hug him and shook hands with Jeff. “And of course he had to explain in detail what he might have heard?” he shot Clif a sour look while glancing back to the bedroom when Jared still hadn’t come out. “He’s a little freaked out about how people may react to this.”

“So…there is something to react to, Jensen?” Samantha asked gently, taking his hand while nudging Jeffrey to get up so she could pull Jensen down to sit with her. “You know what’s being put up about you guys?”

“The shot on the beach was real and my fault for not being more careful,” Jensen replied lowly. “The other photo that you might have seen in that tabloid is not or…”

“What he means is that it’s me but it’s not Jen,” Jared spoke from the doorway, nervously tugging on the hem of his t-shirt. “I was stupid, got drunk and…that happened.”

“Bullshit,” Jensen shot back with temper sizzling as he stood to cross to his friend. “You were tricked, drugged and…” he bit back then as hazel eyes shot to his in mild panic but he was slow when he reached out to lay his hands on Jared’s arms. “That photo is not your fault and we’ll face it. You’ve paid for that night with five years of your life, Jay. You hid away, left everything, everyone you loved behind just because he threatened my career. Now I’m telling you that you aren’t paying for it anymore and I want you to start putting it away.”

Jared seemed torn between wanting to step closer into the comfort he was being offered or holding back to maintain a seemingly normal friendship when he met firm green eyes that softened a little in understanding as Jensen reached up to grip the back his neck with a gentle squeeze.

“And there it is,” Samantha whispered to a slowly smiling Jeffrey as they watched the two young men share a moment that was clearly just between them. “You look at them now and even with just that simple gesture you can see how much Jensen loves him and vice versa and also just what Jensen will do to protect him.”

Jeffrey had heard that on the phone when he’d called Jensen so he’d suspected but it was seeing the boys together, seeing the simple touch that might not seem like much to anyone else except he’d seen it before when he’d be on set while filming Supernatural and understood that it had been the way for Jensen to reassure his friend without it seeming like more.

“So, does this mean I get to kick someone in the ass?” he asked curiously, sitting back down to see her slow smile.

“Yes,” she agreed. “We’ll be at that press conference. They won’t face anything alone.”

“Oh, speaking of that thing,” Clif began after a subtle cough and a smirk at the dark look Jensen shot over his shoulder at him. “You face the press at 2 and meet with Miller at 1. That good for you?”

Jensen would have rather not face anything today and just spend the whole day in bed with Jared but since he’d been the one to want the meeting he merely nodded, nudging Jared toward the living room. “Do I have food?” he wanted to know. “I’m hungry and he still has meds to take that he needs to eat with and quit hitting me with your elbow, dude.”

“I’m not coughing…very much,” Jared argued but already caught the sharp eyes of his TV Mom pinning him. “Samantha, I really am…” he sighed. “Fine, I’ll keep taking the stuff but could you tell him to leave that smelly chest rub off?”

“So long as you don’t sound like you’re choking every time you breathe then I won’t use it,” Jensen offered, running a casual hand across Jared’s back out of sight while heading to see what was in the house. “We seriously need some dog food and other stuff.”

“I grabbed that while I had him out yesterday,” Clif replied, taking the time while Jeff and Samantha kept Jared distracted to speak with Jensen. “I take it that you fired the asshole?”

Jensen decided to scramble some eggs while making toast while nodding. “Yeah, though I’m sure he’ll make an appearance today so…kind of keep an eye out because I pissed him off so he’ll try to make a scene and while I don’t give a crap what he says to me I want him kept away from Jay.”

“Are you taking him with you?” Clif asked, certain but needing a positive answer so he could prepare accordingly. “Is he ready to face that kind of pressure?”

“Maybe not but no matter how much I want to protect him like he protected me I can’t expect him to stay here and watch it on TV,” Jensen glanced up to hold out a butter knife with a raised brow. “Can you butter toast without a mess?”

Jared stuck his tongue out at that comment. “I was sick that day and had just burned myself on soup when the stupid grilled cheese sandwiches chose to burn,” he retorted, chewing his lip. “Why…did Clif say you’re meeting with Abe Miller?” he asked, recalling the reporter’s name and not liking it.

“We’re meeting with Miller to clear up any questions he might have on certain topics, such as the real reason you took off,” Jensen replied, catching the look and understanding. “Jay, I hate the man too and yeah, he was a pain in the ass but I think if anyone will tell the real story without adding any crap to it then it’s him. We don’t have to reveal it all and he knows there are some topics to steer clear of or the interviews over.”

Jensen lifted a hand on instinct to push back the unruly hair that kept falling into his friend’s eyes. “If you’d rather stay here while I do this you can and I’m not asking you to go out on the stage with me. You can make the choice, Jared.”

The thought of facing a room full of people made him nervous but Jared also knew he couldn’t stand to let Jensen go through it alone, especially since he knew he was doing it for him.

“No, I’ll go,” he replied, wishing he could give in to the urge to touch but again held back. “Will Dean be alright here?” he wondered while the dog played up to Samantha’s soft spot for animals.

“Yeah, we won’t be gone that long and he has plenty of toys…and my shoes,” Jensen muttered but smiled to let his friend know he was kidding. “Let’s eat and while you’re taking a shower I’ll kick these guys out.”

“Is that anyway to speak to your TV parents?” Jeffrey smirked but understood that the boys wanted time alone and that Jensen needed the time to prepare himself for what was bound to be a tense and awkward day at times. “We’ll be in the room and so will Clif so if anything gets too out of hand he’ll step in or I will.”

Jensen started to open his mouth but closed it to slowly nod. He understood that this time he might need to let others help him. “Thanks, Jeff,” he told the older man as he and Samantha prepared to leave and Clif took Dean for a run through the parking garage before it was time to leave.

“I told you that all it took was a call and I still mean that, Jensen,” Jeff replied seriously, letting his hand rest on the younger man’s shoulder. “You and Jared will always have friends who care and will have your back if you let us.”

“Thanks, Jeff,” the younger man closed the door and let his hand rest on it before flipping the lock again since he now knew Clif still had a key and going to dress for the day.

Jared had showered quickly and was trying to decide on what to wear when he looked up with a frown. “I hope casual’s good since all I got are jeans and t-shirts,” he spoke with a curving smile.

“I like you in jeans and t-shirts,” Jensen replied simply and decided just like that what he was wearing. “And casual’s fine.”

Sitting to watch his friend pull on a pair of faded jeans with just the start of a little wear at the knee and back pocket, Jared ran his fingers through his still damp hair; a nervous habit he’d never been able to shake. “How bad do you think this will go?” he asked after a moment of silence, going on quickly. “Jen, I don’t want to cause you…”

“Stop,” Jensen turned from the dresser with a blue t-shirt in his hand that would match the lightweight jean jacket he planned to wear. “You are not causing me trouble. If anyone caused me trouble it’s the moron I was too stupid to fire years ago when he made the choice without consulting me that I wouldn’t be resigning for Supernatural.”

“What?” Jared stared in shock. “I thought, I mean we all thought that you’d just grown tired of playing Dean so that’s why you said no.”

Pulling the shirt on over his head and then running a comb through the spiked up hair, Jensen shook his head with a bitter smirk. “I didn’t realize what he’d done until it was too late to change it because the network had already went ahead to cancel the show. I was pissed off because I know I said once that I didn’t want to do it forever but…I was still interested. I knew you were too and…I also knew without the show I’d lose my chance to be around you unless I worked up the damn guts to tell you.”

“I would have punched him and then fired him,” Jared muttered and then offered a small grin. “But then I never liked him and he never liked me.”

“Danneel and my Dad, Misha, even you told me that I was giving too much control away to Todd but I didn’t listen so in a lot of ways this, what happened to you, was my fault,” he sat down when Jared’s hand reached for his. “I should have been honest with you and I never should have shut you out like I did when I convinced myself I was doing what was best. I will make this right for both of us, Jay.”

“Do you think after this press thing, no matter what happens, that we can just try to start fresh?” Jared asked as he let his gaze drop to watch his fingers mesh with Jensen’s and feeling his blood stir when those fingers were brought up to Jensen’s full lips to be kissed. “Unless things go bad enough that you regret…”

A hard and heated kiss caught Jared off guard and sent him back flat on the bed with Jensen levering himself above with a very tight frown showing.

“I will probably take a swing at Todd if he shows his face today just for all the damn self confidence that he’s cost you because I never used to have to repeat myself this much to you,” Jensen caught Jared’s jaw in his hand to hold it steady so their eyes would meet. “I could lose it all today or tomorrow or the next day but the one thing that I will never lose or walk away from would be you.

“Aside from my folks, from Josh or Mackenzie or my daughter there will be one person that I will love and never lose and that is my best friend,” he eased down enough to rest his forehead against Jared’s, giving soft kisses along tender eyelids. “I love you, Jared. I will say that until you fully believe it or…I’ll rent that huge billboard out there and say it.”

That got a snort of laughter as Jared opened his eyes that were shining with unshed tears before nodding. “I believe you, Jensen. It’s just hard to not worry what this might do…okay, shutting up,” he gasped when a carefully placed knee slid between his legs to ease up just enough to touch him.

“I’d shut you up in a better way but I don’t want Clif tossing a bucket of cold water on us if we’re not ready to go,” Jensen kissed him again but let this one heat slowly, feeling wide hands encircling his waist. “Now, if you’re willing to risk it then I am but you’ll also be facing Samantha’s wrath if we’re late.”

“That did it,” Jared nodded, pushing up after Jensen moved with a laugh. “What do we tell Miller?”

“As much of the truth as we can while leading him away from anything we don’t want out yet,” Jensen replied while pulling the jean jacket out of the closet. “Let’s go. Clif’s probably back and he always wanted to be early to avoid the hassle of crowds.”

That was the way it happened. Clif Kosterman had been a bodyguard for a long time. He’d scouted the hotel that had agreed to host the event the day before so he knew where every exit, every entrance was. He knew the best way to get Jensen to the make shift podium and also the quickest way out if he had to grab both boys, he’d never stop thinking of them as anything but boys, and hustle them the hell out of there.

This press thing could go very well or very badly and Clif had seen them go both ways in his career so he wasn’t taking any chances. He knew who should be allowed in the room, who shouldn’t and he’d made damn certain the security that would also be there knew that too.

Arriving early gave Jensen time to meet with a couple people from the Days office who seemed to be willing to go along with his fake plan for his character or at least Clif thought it was fake since every time he mentioned it or Jared balked Jensen would just give that crooked smile that could more often than not be so very annoying.

He’d been uneasy with leaving Jensen and Jared alone with the damn nosy reporter that he’d spent most of Supernatural’s run keeping away from them but Jensen had insisted that they’d be fine and if the man stepped over the line then he’d end the interview.

“You don’t think Jensen can protect himself and Jared from a simple reporter?” Jeffrey Dean Morgan spoke from where he’d been leaning while watching the hotel staff let reporters from TV, online, and print into the conference room chosen to host this event while the PR person from Days was fighting to work on her poker face. “Those two have been watching over each other from the first moment I met them.”

“It’s not this thing with Miller that worries me but what he might say or do out there with them,” Clif muttered, wishing he had hair so he could yank it out. “I know that asshole ex-manager is going to pull something but I can’t stop it until it happens because he’s smart enough to not show up too early. Jensen looks calm and laid back but I’m telling you that one wrong word or one wrong comment aimed toward Jared and he’s going to snap.”

Jeff was aware of that. He’d seen Jensen’s temper only a few times on set but knew it was hard to get to come out but once it was out the boy had a mouth on him that wouldn’t quit. “Sam and I aren’t the only ones here if someone needs to step in,” he remarked calmly before walking off.

“I hate surprises,” Clif groaned, turning at the sound of the door to the smaller room opening; instantly looking to see if he could tell by their faces how that might have gone but while Jared was a little pale his hands were steady and Jensen had the same facial expression he usually did when giving a one on one interview so that gave no clue whatsoever.

It was actually the reporter who looked a little off kilter when he stepped out of the room, packing away his notepad and small recorder that he’d used to take notes for later. Usually as Clif recalled the man looked smug and self-assured but whatever he’d been told this time had left him looking almost stunned.

“I appreciate you both taking the time to talk to me about all of this and I assure you that when I write the article it will be with what you told me,” Abe Miller had been working for years to get close to Ackles and Padalecki either together or separately and he’d thought when he was contacted that Jensen wanted to talk to him that he’d have a chance to really get some dirt to use but what he’d gotten was something much different.

Jensen had done most of the talking except when it was something that only Jared could answer but there was never a time that he hadn’t been there if Miller would have veered off course and the older man had known it.

The blackmail scheme wasn’t new to the world of movies or TV but even the reporter had to admit that it took someone with a lot of guts and a lot of knowledge about the two actors to pull this one off as well as it had been done and it also didn’t take Jensen dropping subtle hints to who he believed had done it to tell Miller.

Todd Lawrence wasn’t well liked by many reporters and also Miller had seen the man’s obvious dislike for Jensen’s co-star with his own eyes so if he could help take the man’s ego down a peg or two he would do all he could.

Of course while Jensen had hedged over the photo taken in Texas weeks ago and while Miller had been warned against pushing on that subject he didn’t need to. He’d taken one look at the two former co-stars and had known that the photo on the beach wasn’t faked.

He’d spent years hinting at a relationship between them and had tried on many occasions to get one of them to slip up and say something but as he’d sat writing his notes and listening to Jensen explain things about why his friend had been living on a beach he’d also been watching.

It wasn’t something obvious since these two had always sat close together or touched one another when at conventions or just messing around but it was more about the little looks now that just seemed more intense and while Miller knew he could certainly toss that into his story he wouldn’t.

Not because it wouldn’t bring his paper ratings or because he’d save it for a better time or even because of what Jensen had whispered to him while shaking his hand goodbye. He wouldn’t bring up what he believed he was seeing because of what he’d seen reflected in Jared’s eyes one time when he’d looked at his friend.

Oh, the same huge puppy dog eyes were there, the deep set emotions were there but there was also worry about Jensen being hurt or having his career damaged in some way by standing up for him that made the jaded reporter look at the two men in a different light.

Of course, Jensen’s softly whispered ‘If you print or report anything that we didn’t tell you or you report it wrong or you report anything that could ever hurt Jared, I will spend every cent I have and ruin you,’ also was a good incentive since Miller had the strong hunch that the Texas native would do just that.

Nodding to the big man that Miller knew to be the boys ex-bodyguard he exchanged a tight smile to Samantha Smith who’d chosen right then to step into the hall and right there told the reporter that if any of his colleagues in the next room who were foolish enough to try to attack or trick Jensen would be in for a very rude awakening because it looked like several former cast mates were willing to stand up if needed and he knew from very personal experience that several of them had very sharp tongues and even sharper Twitter feeds.

“They say they’re ready to start whenever you are, Jensen,” she reported with a supportive smile.

“Yeah, give me a second,” Jensen glanced back before nodding to Jared to step back into the smaller room they’d just exited. “I’ll be right there.”

Jared already felt like his nerves were frayed. That hour had gone a lot better than he’d expected. Now all he was supposed to do was stand behind the scenes to let his best friend and lover face the rabid hordes out in the room.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to…” he cut off when the door was shut and he found himself back against it with Jensen’s mouth kissing him senseless until he slowly broke away to brush his knuckles over his cheek.

“I know how hard that was for you to sit through and I appreciate that you trusted me to do it. Now, just trust me one more time and promise me that no matter what happens out there, what they ask, what they say, or anything that you’ll stay back with Clif and Samantha and let me take care of it,” Jensen remarked quietly, the need to touch Jared there but he didn’t want to be too obvious about what they were up to in here. “Promise?”

“I hate when you ask me to promise you stuff because that usually means you know they’ll be trouble or you’ll planning to give Clif a stroke,” Jared complained but after a second of staring into deep green eyes he huffed out a breath. “Fine, I promise to stay back…unless you motion for me. Now you promise me that you won’t do anything too stupid.”

Jensen’s smile was full but the hint of teasing was still in his eyes as he leaned up to share another kiss. “Jay, when have I ever done anything too stupid in front of a live audience?” he countered, opening the door to nod. “Let’s do this.”

The PR lady from Days met him as he stepped out to feel the same rush of nerves, anxiety and the desire to be anywhere else as he almost always did when having to face reporters.

Jensen had never been as at ease in front of people like Jared was and while he’d gotten used to fans it was often harder to face the press because one wrong word, gesture or facial expression could be turned into something totally different than what was meant.

Glancing to the side he caught Jared’s encouraging smile and felt some of his nerves ease. He was doing this for a reason and that was all he needed to remember.

“Hi. Thanks for coming,” he began slowly, uncurling the fingers that had clenched in the pockets of his jeans to touch the small microphone podium to steady himself. “A lot of things have started being printed or reported or rumored out there about me, about my newest role and some other things that I wanted straighten out. So, who wants to start?”

The lights in the room were hot but not as hot as some of the questions that started being tossed until the PR lady broke in to get the questions to run one at a time.

“Twitter’s going wild since rumors came out recently that your character on Days, Eric Brady, is being rewritten to reveal that he’s gay. It’s also being hinted at that your former Supernatural co-star, Jared Padalecki who hasn’t been seen in public in more than five years, is being considered for the opposite role. Can you verify any of this?” a young woman from one of the online press groups spoke up first.

“Aww shit,” Clif groaned as he could already see the way Jensen’s eyes had shifted.

“You want this one?” Jensen asked the lady from the Days office. “It’s your show.”

“It’s your character,” she replied with a smile, having been told to only step in if it looked like Jensen was in trouble as there was a press release ready for the end of this.

Shooting her a sour look that he thought looked quite genuine Jensen gave a smile at the woman who’d spoken. “Well, I don’t think Eric being rewritten…again would be a bad thing really but as for the rumors of the writers revamping him to be gay…” Jensen paused and could practically feel the eyes on him and knew he could go a few ways with this one.

“Don’t be stupid. Of course Days wouldn’t rewrite Jensen’s character to be gay. They wouldn’t because Jensen has no interest in playing an openly gay character nor is he interested in co-starring with Mr. Padalecki again given the more recent information that has come to light about his…activities.”

“And here we go,” Clif cracked his knuckles while shooting an arm out to block Jared from moving. “You keep your butt back here with Samantha and let Jensen and the others handle that bastard while I go find out who I get to smack for letting him in the room to begin with,” he told Jared sternly.

The smooth too cultured but very angry voice of Todd Lawrence shot right through Jared, bringing back flashes of the last time he’d heard it and felt sick to his stomach until something made him look up to see that Jensen was looking at him to offer a slow half smile and a wink that helped to calm him a little.

The press in the room had been stirred back to life by those comments but soon it was clear that Jensen’s full focus was on his former manager as he strode through the crowd like he belonged there.

“Jensen will be glad to answer any of your questions so long as they are intelligent ones and not about that,” Todd sneered but blinked when a hand was placed in the center of his chest to stop him from going any further than two feet from where Jensen stood. “What?” he glared into the steely eyes of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. “What are you doing here?” he demanded tightly.

“I have more right to be here than you do, jackass,” Jeff replied coolly. “I don’t think Jensen wants you here and I think he’s more than prepared to answer whatever these people ask him…to a point.”

“I fired you as my manager. I told you not to show your face here today so…how exactly did I not make myself plain enough, Todd?” Jensen asked, for the first time catching sight that Jeff and Samantha weren’t the only former co-stars who had chosen to come today.

The man waved a manicured hand as if to dismiss the idea of being fired from his manager position. “Don’t be stupid, Jensen,” he scoffed. “I didn’t take you seriously. I know you’re under a great deal of stress since learning about your…former co-star and I know you’re probably just trying to help him but there’s no since risking your own career for someone like…”

“Please let me punch him,” Jeff said without looking back at Jensen. “If I don’t you damn well know Jim probably will before the days over.”

“You didn’t want me answering the questions about Days but you’re willing to bring Jared up in the middle of a room full of people,” Jensen smirked but took the microphone so he could be mobile while trying to keep an eye on Jared, seeing the wide eyes and hating the fear he also could see. “I told you on the phone yesterday not to mention him because you caused him enough trouble, Todd. Now do us both a favor and leave before I have you thrown out.”

His face looked shocked and then Todd sneered. “You think you’ll get the jobs you want or the money you’re used to without me? You’ll be nothing without my help in under six months!” he snapped, furious that all he efforts were being wasted. “It’s been my skill and savvy that has kept you working! I got you the Days gig and I could have had you on that movie if you would have gotten your ass out of your head!

“If it hadn’t been for me and what I did to protect you five years ago you would have chosen to let your career go to hell! That freak would have pulled you down with…ugh!” he blanched when a fist closed around the collar his starched white shirt to yank him closer to where Jensen had now moved in a flash.

“You have done nothing but hurt my career!” Jensen snapped, fully aware of the snapping sound of cameras that were happening around them. “You told the network that I didn’t want to resign to do Supernatural so that not only cost me a job I loved but it also cost Jared his job and everyone else on the cast and crew their jobs!”

“Stupid spoiled little fool! Always worried about the other one when you should have been worried what was being said behind your back!” Todd yelled back, shoving himself away from Jensen and looked like he was close to raising a hand when Jeff just made a low sound in the back of his throat as Clif came from the side. “All the talk and whispers online from those crazy fans. All the whispers about what was happening between you and Padalecki behind the scenes. If I hadn’t done what I did, with the stupid show and with him you would have thrown it all away, Jensen!”

“You don’t think Jared and I knew what was being said behind our backs or online? You don’t think Misha encouraged it?” Jensen smirked. “We both knew the rumors. They were rumors and we left them alone.”

“You left them alone until this night you mean?” Todd held up the photo that had hit the tabloids while flashing a triumphant smile at his former client as the room lit up again with cameras and whispers. “Care to explain to your doting public about this picture of you in bed with the freak with your ass showing, Jensen?”

Jared’s stomach had dropped and he started forward only to be pulled back. “No, I can’t let them do this to him, Samantha. That’s not Jensen but Lawrence will make it sound so convincing that…it’s my fault that this is on him. I need to…”

“Honey, you just stay with me and let Jensen and Jeff handle it,” the woman who had played Mary Winchester urged with more calmness than she felt as she watched the rigid way her other former TV son was standing and knew it was taking every ounce of strength Jensen had to not swing.

Jensen was fighting the burning need to make the man bleed but he knew that if he swung now it would just look worse for him and for Jared so he held himself back while he former manager flung the photo around. “If you fire me then why should I keep your precious secret anymore? Maybe these people and the sheep outside would all like to know why Padalecki ran away to live as a bum on some damn beach, selling cheap bottles of sand just to eat.”

“I can’t Tweet that fast. Someone tell me what else he’s saying,” Misha Collins was saying from where he’d been live Tweeting the press conference, wincing as he also caught some of the return tweets. “Ohhh, you don’t screw with the Js and their fans. Lawrence is a dead man walking.”

“Are you done?” Jensen’s voice was low and cold, holding up a hand to keep Clif back which was also the signal to not, under any circumstances, allow Jared into the room right then.

“Are you?” Todd shot back, thrusting the photo out into Jensen’s face while reaching into his jacket. “I’ll release the others, Jensen. I’ll show all your precious fans what a pair of freaks their heroes are and…hey!”

A hand reached out to snatch the photo out of his hand. “Please. You’re going to try to tell these people that this is Jensen’s ass? Hel-lo I was married to the man. I think if anyone knows what his ass looks like it would be me and as his ex-wife I can fully attest that this is not Jensen and you know it,” Danneel Harris gave a flip of her long red hair while glaring daggers at the stuttering man. “Take the photo to a professional who can clear it up and it also shows a couple other glaring problems with your claims that this is Jensen.

“First, he would have still had the scar on his hip where he fell while getting JJ’s kitten out of the tree a week before that stupid party you hosted and this guy doesn’t have a scar,” she smiled while ticking off points on her fingers and with each point she also poked a nail into Todd’s chest. “Secondly, this guy doesn’t have the physique that Jensen has and third, if you have enough money to pay a private investigator to go hunt down people who were there that night you can find out the name of the moron you paid to fake that he was Jensen after you did whatever the hell you did to convince Jared to give him the time of day.

“A lot of people remembered you giving Jared more drinks after he said he was leaving. A couple also told the investigator how out of it Jared looked when you and your little pal almost carried him to the car and also the maid who had to clean up had a couple interesting things to tell him too but I think if I bring those up here my ex-husband will probably hurt you,” she fired a bright smile before handing the photo to Jensen with a single long look that expressed her understanding before turning to walk out.

“And there is why you never piss off an ex-wife,” Misha tweeted with a grin, fingers still hitting the phone while nudging Jim Beaver who was holding a small camera to record the event. “Tell me you got the scowl of pure hate on Lawrence’s face right then.”

“Yep, now let me punch him,” Jim hadn’t seen a lot of either boy since his character had been killed off except at cons but he still felt sort of fatherly toward both of them and had never liked Todd Lawrence.

Misha shook his head. “Nope, only if the jackass actually goes to hit Jensen then you or Jeff get to have fun, unless Clif or Jared beat you to it,” he nodded his head toward the side where the occasional sight of long floppy dark hair could be seen trying to peek out.

“The tabloids will still run with what I have and I have a lot worse than what’s been seen,” Todd hissed, stepping closer only to once again have a firm hand press against his chest to keep him from getting too close to Jensen. “I can ruin him and I will ruin you if…”

Jensen held a hand back to the Days PR lady who handed him a folder. “Threaten me and I sue, threaten my friend and I might go to jail for an hour but you’ll bleed,” he warned quietly, tapping the folder. “You can publish whatever photos or video you have from the night you drugged and let that bastard touch my friend but you can’t hurt him anymore because I won’t allow it.

“I was foolish enough to let myself believe I was doing what was best for us when I distanced myself from Jared back then and all that did was give you an open shot at him because you knew damn good and well that you wouldn’t have gotten close to him if I’d been around. You lied to him, you made him think I hated him and then because you were so desperate to keep us apart, to keep him from calling me you used those pictures to blackmail him, cost him most of his money, cost him his family and made him think he had no one to turn to for help.”

“He’d already lost his wife because she’d gotten smart enough to know her so-called husband didn’t love her as much as he did you!” Todd shouted, relishing the crowd of reporters because if he was going to lose then he’d take Jensen down with him.

“You think you know so damn much? You’ll never prove that I drugged Padalecki or that I hired the man to fuck him or that he was so drugged and drunk that he wasn’t so much as willing as comatose. You won’t prove that I was behind that blackmail. The money is long gone into accounts where no one could find it! I wasn’t going to let your obsession with him or his with you ruin what you could have had if you just would have played along, you stupid bastard!”

“Actually, I did play along or at least long enough to get you to pop off and pretty much admit your hand in every damn thing that happened to Jared five years ago,” Jensen was furious but still covering it despite the images swirling in his brain at those comments while he held up the folder again.

“As for not proving it, the funny thing about some electronic transfers or so I’m told is that no matter how well you think you’ve hidden them or how well you’ve buried your own name in regards to them there’s always one little thing that can pop up to bring down the whole house of stinking cards and that’s what this is,” he met the shocked eyes of his ex-manager as calmly as he could right then.

It wasn’t a full proof case but the agent he and Jared had talked to earlier when arriving at the hotel had said it would go a long way to helping if they could keep Todd from running as soon as he realized his game was lost. This was the risky part of Jensen’s plan and he only hoped it worked.

“In this folder is enough proof on what you did, who you hired, and also every offshore account that you hid the money you stole from Jared in. Also every word you’ve said here has been heard by these people and also videoed by multiple people,” he smiled simply. “You should have listened to me yesterday when I said not to come here and to not try to hurt Jared again, Todd. You won’t do it again.”

Todd Lawrence glared at the smug looking man to over at the grim face of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. He was furious that this ungrateful punk thought he could find a better manager over him and that he was acting so self-righteous over what he thought was something wrong done when it had all been for him.

“You self-righteous, ungrateful little prick! Everything I did I did so you could make it in this business! You would have been acting on that stupid show until you were too old and useless for anything else! You would have ruined your life and your career, my career! You would have continued making a fool of yourself in public with him if someone didn’t step in to stop it!” he screamed, anger plain but it was when he happened to glance up back over Jensen’s shoulder toward the curtained off exit that his anger turned to blind rage.

“You want to risk your damn career for him? You want to prove everyone right when they said that you and Padalecki were gay? You want to ruin it all? Fine! Then you can start with a ruined face and see how long that stinking soap will air you!” he jerked the hand he’d stuffed into his pocket out to throw it out straight toward Jensen’s face to connect with his jaw.

“Aww shit,” Misha breathed, reaching to take the video camera from Jim Beaver. “Now you can hit him.”


Chapter Text

Chapter Eight

The punch from Todd Lawrence was so sudden and nearly expected that no one expected the man to be so foolish as to physically attack Jensen in the middle of a crowded room. It wasn’t until the actor’s head snapped back from the blow that it seemed to hit people what had just happened.

The press immediately crowded each other for a better shot, behind the curtain it was taking everything Samantha Smith had to keep Jared from charging out into the melee that was now the conference room as security and police all seemed to come at once.

Jensen had stumbled back, waving the distraught PR lady away while trying to clear his watery vision to finally see his ex-manager go down to the floor after a decent punch from his former TV father hit him square in the stomach.

“You okay, Jensen?” Jeffrey demanded as he stepped between them while Clif finally got through the crowd with a look that could have killed right then.

“Yeah, I’m alright,” Jensen touched his jaw to be sure but didn’t feel anything loose in his mouth even if he could taste blood from what he guessed was a split lip. “I’m fine. I’m fine.”

The second assurance was spoken lower while he used the confusion in the room to turn to face where he knew Jared would be. ‘I’m okay,’ he mouthed, sensing how much Jared wanted to move toward him but held back even if there hadn’t been a petite blond woman blocking his body with her own.

“That was so stupid, jackass,” Jeffrey stepped back as security and two policemen came to pull the enraged man to his feet to cuff him. “Blackmailing Jared was stupid enough but attacking Jensen while also threatening to blackmail him if he didn’t keep you on was even more stupid. You were smart enough to know that to get that plan to work you had to keep Jared away from anyone because aside from Jensen there are plenty of people who would have stood up for him and who will stand up for him now.”

“Not to mention your management agency is going to be so bombarded with bitching people now that they know the real reason Supernatural was cancelled and what else you’ve done that they’ll probably be firing you before these cops close the cell door,” Misha remarked while finishing his latest post, waving the phone. “Twitter is still the word of the people.”

Todd jerked in the strong hold, livid. “Why am I being treated like this?” he huffed.

“If blackmail, attempted aggravated assault or just full blown assault, drugging and money fraud aren’t enough then I think assaulting Jensen in the middle of a room full of camera crazy reporters should do it,” Clif snorted, glancing back to see Jensen’s small nod. “Guess you won’t be making that flight to Aruba after all. Get him the hell out of here,” he growled, turning to see if this mess was over only to inwardly grown as his Jensen picked up the microphone again to exchange a look behind him before accepting the glass of water the lady from Days handed him. “He’s going to give me an ulcer.”

It took a few moments to get the room calm again until finally Misha stood on a chair to whistle through his fingers. “You want to listen to him or just chatter? Me? I’m resting my poor thumbs.”

“The next time he does this I’m bringing a different former angel,” Jim muttered under his breath.

“I want to first apologize to all of you here for having to see that but then I also want to thank you for being here to take in, hear and photograph the clearly very bitter, angry, jealous actions of my former manager,” Jensen began while stepping back behind the small podium to gaze out into the audience, glancing toward the more relaxed PR lady. “I also want to thank the staff, producers, and writers of Days for going along with my little idea to make Mr. Lawrence admit to some rather illegal activities.

“Before all that interruption happened I was asked if the writers on Days were considering making Eric gay. That was just a rumor started to see about forcing someone’s hand. I can assure all the worried fans that Eric Brady is not now nor will he ever be gay…on the show,” he ignored the low groan he heard from either Clif or Jeff as he offered one of his well-known crooked smiles. “As for the other rumor of the show trying to get Jared to agree to a part, be it small or big, all I will say on that is…I will do my damnedest to make that a reality.”

Jensen took a moment to glance out amongst the crowd of faces before speaking again. “The other reason I called this press conference today is because I figure you may have a few questions about a photo that recently turned up and also some rumors about what my former co-star has been doing since he very literally dropped out of sight and also why.

“As some of you might have deduced by Mr. Lawrence’s outburst there was much more behind Jared’s dropping out of sight than might be seen. Six years ago my friend was lied to and used. He was then blackmailed and in order to protect those he cared for Jared left. He left the family he loved, he left his career and everything behind to start over where no one knew him and where what he blamed himself for wouldn’t ever come back,” he paused to consider his words carefully.

“A few weeks back at the last press event I was handed a photo and told that my friend was living on a beach. I take as much if not more responsibility for what happened to Jared because I was stupid enough to think I was actually protecting him when it turned out he was trying to protect me. I went and got my friend and I will tell you know that he is still the man all of you who were and are his fans remember…just with longer hair,” he hid his smile at the hiss that was aimed his way. “Milly here has some press things to hand out to better explain the technical details than I can but I will answer a few questions.”

Clif could only fight back the groan while catching how Jared was shifting on the balls of his feet and new the guy was anxious for this to be over.

“Can you verify if the photo taken on San Padre Island was real or was it doctored?” someone in the back asked.

Jensen hesitated on that, accepting he could go several ways with that answer. He wasn’t ashamed of how he and Jared felt for one another but he also didn’t want to risk Jared getting reestablished with that hanging over their heads so soon.

“It was real,” he finally replied, figuring the sudden loud bang was probably Clif banging his head into a wall or Jared fainting again. “When I went to South Padre to find him Jared had gotten sick. He had bronchitis and a pretty bad chest infection for several days so he was weak. When that shot was taken he’d only been out of bed a few days and insisted on walking the shoe eating monster that is the puppy that adopted him so I had my hand over his to help hold the leash.”

Jared’s breath had caught in his chest as soon as that question was asked. Then it left in a rush at his friend’s reply…the reply that had Clif banging his head into a door down the hall. As Jensen expanded on his reply though Jared felt some of the pressures leave him.

While it was a lie it was the kind that Jared accepted that they’d have to do until both of them felt more at ease with publically admitting their feelings for one another.

“All those other photos you might see or have seen in the tabloid were not me and Jared had been so drugged that he had no control over the actions in them. That’s what he was blackmailed with and that’s all I’ll say on that matter because with the help of his friends, of the proper authorities it’s time for him to put that guilt behind him. I hope his fans will understand that when he disappeared he was upset, confused and thinking he was alone,” Jensen glanced over his shoulder. “The one thing that both Jared and I have always loved and respected about our fans is that you understand that despite being on TV or being celebrities that we’re also human. We make mistakes. His only mistake was believing the lies. My mistake was not paying attention.”

A tentative hand rose from the middle row from another online reporter. “Is Jared here?” he asked, suspecting he was but also like many in the room they’d begun to think this was not the time to push Jensen for more. “Will he make a statement soon?”

“Jared has given a partial explanation in a brief interview with Mr. Miller and I’m sure he’ll want to talk to you all when he’s had more time to adjust to being around loud and outrageous people…and of course reporters since I was talking about Misha,” Jensen smiled, glancing over as Clif stepped up to whisper in his ear and he shot a concerned look backwards as a silent battle of wills seemed to be going on until he let out a small sigh. “Well, it looks like you might get your wish after all since it seems someone wants to say a few words. Ladies, gentlemen…and Misha…I think you all know my former co-star and best friend, Jared Padalecki.”

It had taken a lot to convince Clif to go out and tell Jensen he was alright to at least say something since he was tired of letting Jensen take all the heat for recent events.

It had been six years since Jared had been in front of a roomful of lights and cameras so it took him a moment to get his bearings. It took him a moment to realize several in the room were clapping and he had to shoot Jensen a curious look to only get a smile in return.

Stepping up to the microphone, he had a brief second of panic when Jensen moved but calmed down when his friend leaned in to whisper something just between them before standing near him.

“Hi y’all,” he began and then lost himself in the familiarity of what was technically just a more intense Q&A session.

It seemed like hours to Jared who wasn’t used to speaking for so long at one time lately but after twenty minutes he felt Jensen’s fingers touch his back, out of range of any cameras, and nod to where Clif was standing pointing at his watch.

Jensen made their goodbyes and as soon as they were behind the curtain, out of the range of any cameras Jensen moved his hand to take Jared’s in his to squeeze it tightly.

That wasn’t what he wanted to do and he could tell by the longing look in Jared’s that he wanted more as well but Jensen moved his eyes to the others that still surrounded them before leaning in closer. “Soon, Jay,” he whispered.

It was then that it hit Jared that in all the time Jensen had been out amidst the press whenever he’d used Jared’s name it had been his full name and not the more casual nickname which made his nerves hum a little to hear it now.

“Just try to keep your hands off of one another until I get you guys home,” Clif urged, taking care to look before motioning to the SUV. “Don’t give me that look, Jensen. You about gave me too many strokes today as it is so I’m taking you both to the house in the hills and then I’ll go back to the apartment to gather your stuff and Dean.”

The house in the hills meant the home Jensen had purchased shortly after his divorce from Danneel had been finalized. He’d only stayed there a few times but it was slightly more comfortable that the apartment and if security had been fully redone it was also more secure so he and Jared could focus on other things.

The ride was quiet, unusually so since normally when Jared was nervous or anxious he talked or moved but this time he was just sitting still but right up against Jensen’s shoulder, only relaxing when Jensen’s fingers moved over his hand.

“Aside from giving you a stroke, how did it go overall?” Jensen finally asked, fighting not to touch where his lip was now starting to swell a little and glancing down to see that slowly his hand had been grasped.

“I’ll check when I go back but I’m certain Lawrence will be held until the bigger authorities can get a case built on the whole blackmail, money side of things,” Clif replied. “I haven’t checked online yet but I think between what that reporter will write, what Misha tweeted and the overall feel of the room when I got you guys out I think you smoothed over the biggest hurdles for the moment.”

Jensen could only hope so because he could feel the leftover tension rippling along Jared’s arm and figured as soon as they were alone he’d burst open with whatever he was thinking.

The house in the Hollywood hills wasn’t huge by Hollywood standards but it was still large with two floors, a pool and tennis court, a guest house, a large garage but most of all it was mostly fenced in so security was a little easier.

Normally Jensen didn’t require or want full time security aside from a few exterior cameras but this time he’d reluctantly agreed to allow a few men to be at the front gate and also keeping an eye on the property until some of the buzz died down.

He also knew it wouldn’t take long for some of the more curious to learn that he and Jared were staying together but that wasn’t hard to explain since they’d roomed together when Supernatural had first started filming.

The drive up the winding hill took Jared’s mind off of nerves as he looked at the view of the trees and the hillside that was breathtaking still even though a piece of him missed the sounds and smell of the ocean.

“Alright, the codes to the alarm system are on the kitchen counter. There will be four men around the grounds 24/7 until you say otherwise and there will be two by the gate who will only let in who you say,” Clif reported as he pulled up through the gate to drive the mile to the house. “Right now, I’m cleared. As well as Jeff, Jim, Misha and a few others but the guard will always call up here before letting anyone through…in case you two don’t feel like company or you’re…busy,” he coughed on the last word, seeing a faint blush work over Jared’s cheeks while Jensen just snorted. “You want me to bring you dinner back? Pick a cuisine.”

The two exchanged a look and both agreed with a look. “Bring steaks. I’ll cook,” Jensen replied, trying to think what was in the kitchen. “Probably you’ll have to bring the other stuff to go with it like potatoes, salad and whatever else as well as ice cream and snacks and beer and soda and…”

“I’ll just go to the store,” Clif rolled his eyes while thinking he should have just known that before he asked since it had been at least a month since Jensen had been here. “Jared, you need or want anything?”

“More cough drops and I think that’s all,” Jared couldn’t think of anything since it had been an extremely long time since he’d been asked that question or even thought of asking for anything for himself.

“And a few hundred movies that he’ll have to catch up on,” Jensen offered with a smile, noticing the way his friend was rubbing his chest and wishing he’d thought to grab that bag of medicine so they would have had it with them.

“I thought I’d be too busy with other…things to watch movies,” Jared shot back with an innocent flutter of his eyes that made Jensen smile and Clif roll his eyes again.

The bodyguard had called ahead to let the guards know, seeing one opening the front door as he stopped. “That’s Tony, he runs the others and if you need anything if I’m not around then you buzz him,” he told them, motioning with his head toward the door. “I’ll brief him. You two just go inside and Jensen, put some ice on that lip and take it easy for the rest of the day,” he urged without mentioning that he knew what those two would probably soon be doing. “Also, figure out what the hell else Jared’s going to need because if that one bag is all he has then he will definitely need some clothes.”

“Yeah, we’ll write out a list,” Jensen replied, giving an acknowledging nod to the security man before following Jared into his house to close and lock the double front doors with a deep sigh. “Thank God. I was beginning to think that we’d never…”

The words were cut off when he found himself pushed back against the door with hot lips sealed over his while large hands were running up his sides to try to get the jean jacket off but since Jared didn’t want to break contact it turned a little difficult.

“Jay…mmhm, calm down a second and let me take the jacket off,” Jensen groaned against into the kiss but hissed as pain hit him from where his lip was sore. “No, stay where you are. You didn’t hurt me. My lip just hurts from…shit, you’ll drive me crazy if you kiss me like that too long,” he muttered when his friend’s kisses changed from hot and fast to slow and gentle.

“You let him hit you, didn’t you?” Jared was certain of it, breaking the kiss to look closely at the swelled lip and being gentle when he lightly ran the pad of his thumb across it to go perfectly still when it was sucked in slowly. “Jen…God, that’s hot,” he felt an instant surge of lust hit but he struggled to focus. “You’re not distracting me from this. That whole press conference, that whole thing with those rumors from Days you set it all up to bring Todd out, didn’t you?”

“Not all of it,” Jensen replied as he finally was able to shed his jacket while following Jared’s gaze down to the few flecks of blood on his shirt and understood. “Yes, I might have called in a few favors to get those rumors started and yes, I knew if nothing else did it that would make him show up. Just like I knew it wouldn’t take much since he was already pissed off to make Todd slip up and start blabbing about things.

“The only way to get him behind bars so the Feds could have a shot at pinning the blackmail on him and also finding where he put the money was to make him furious. I needed to make him mad, Jared,” he moved let his hands settle on Jared’s waist to pull him closer again. “I knew the risks of what he’d possibly say or try to do and I was willing to take them.”

Jared knew there was more to it than that but right then he didn’t feel like getting into it, letting himself be pulled forward to let his knee slip between Jensen’s legs while he leaned forward to lightly kiss along his friend’s face as the one thing still wouldn’t leave his head. “He hit you. You goaded him into it and don’t say you didn’t because I know when you’re goading someone and you goaded him into that. Why?”

“A couple of reasons actually,” Jensen admitted, turning his face to capture his friend’s mouth while his fingers run through Jared’s hair to smile at the soft sound that he’d noticed Jared would make if he either pulled his hair or if he pressed hard enough so his fingertips touched his scalp. “I knew Jeff or Jim was dying to hit him and I also knew the cops would never have anything to hold him on without a starting point. By hitting me, he went to jail and won’t be skipping the country on your money.”

That had never occurred to Jared so he could see the point even if he didn’t like that it had involved his friend being hurt. “I didn’t want him hurting you, Jen,” he told him, looking up when fingers curled under his jaw to lift it.

“And how badly did he hurt you, Jay?” Jensen countered quietly, catching and holding Jared’s eyes before he could look away. “I don’t even mean physically. How bad did what the asshole do mess with you emotionally? Can you tell me that you’re the same man that you were five years ago because I can tell you right now that you’re not.”

He knew he wasn’t. The problem was Jared wasn’t sure he wanted to go back to being who he was or at least not fully but he also wasn’t certain if that was who Jensen wanted him to be.

“Is…is that a problem?” he asked softly, nervous until in a blink their positions were reversed so that Jared’s back was against the door to allow Jensen to press up against him, heat in his eyes despite his touch being gentle when he cupped both sides of Jared’s neck in his hands.

“No, that’s not a problem. I love you for who you were, who you are now and who you’ll become in the years to come,” Jensen reassured him, feeling his friend relax and wishing that Jared hadn’t lost so much confidence in the previous years. “I know it won’t be easy for you to just come back after the last five years of being virtually alone and I’m not saying you have to jump right back into acting or the social scene or anything. I just want you to know that we will fix this no matter how long it takes but until we do you do know that all you have to do is ask me or tell me and we’ll get it.”

As soon as Jared tensed and his lips thinned Jensen knew what the problem was and he smiled. “Dude, since when have you ever had a problem with me getting something for you if you need it?” he asked, understanding that his friend’s pride was at stake and how much it mattered to Jared to not depend on anyone.

“Since I could always give it back or return the gesture,” Jared grumbled, trying to explain. “I got so used to being able to buy what I needed or wanted whenever that it was so hard when I left, when I realized when I got to South Padre that I couldn’t even usually buy a meal so that’s why whatever I made selling the bottles or whatever Pete or Stella gave me for helping out I used for food or for food for Dean when I rescued him.

“A better place to live or clothes stopped meaning so much so long as I had a roof over my head and even a pack of crackers,” he paused when he recognized the grim look on Jensen’s face, reaching up to touch his face. “Don’t, Jen. Don’t blame yourself because it wasn’t your fault.”

“He was my manager, Jared. I hired the son of a bitch and yet didn’t realize what he was doing to my best friend so yeah, this is my fault,” Jensen sighed as he leaned more into Jared when strong arms were wrapped around him. “You believed what he wanted you to. I still should’ve swallowed my pride and got over the fear of what you may or may not have said if I told you the truth and found you sooner. It shouldn’t have taken Miller tossing that photo in my face to make me see that you were in trouble. I’m…”

A quick kiss stopped the apology before it could come out because while Jared accepted they’d both made mistakes he was done dwelling on them and also done letting his friend take on the guilt. “These past five years taught me that I could survive on my own even if it was selling bottles of colored sand on the beach.

“I may act again if a part comes along or I may see what else I can do but even if I don’t get the money back I sent into those accounts I will find a way to support myself and also send support to my sons so I don’t have to always take from you,” he made sure to be careful when he drew Jensen’s bottom lip into his mouth, enjoying the soft sounds his friend made and also the feel of Jensen’s fingers when they slipped under his shirt. “Do we have to decide on this now or can we…take some time?”

“You can take as much time as you want to make any decisions, Jay,” Jensen replied, a small smile playing on his lips as he kept his eyes on Jared to see the deeper flash of want as the tips of his fingers played over his nipples. “Though if you have any ideas for what we can do to kill some time before Clif gets back I’m all ears.”

“I might have a few,” Jared couldn’t suppress the shiver of longing as he was pulled away from the door with a laugh. “Of course the ideas I have might take more than an hour or two so maybe we should wait until after dinner?”

Jensen shot him a dark look as he led him through the house, up the steps to the second floor and down the hall to where the master bedroom was located. “Remind me to show you there are some quick ways to get from Point A to Point B,” he muttered and then brightened. “In fact, why don’t I give you a lesson right now?”

“I have a better idea,” Jared had been thinking about this for the past few hours. He wasn’t sure he could pull it off but if the last five years had taught him anything it was that he could do things that he’d never once considered. “Y’know, I used to have another daydream of what I’d like to be brave enough to try if I ever worked up the guts to tell you how I felt.”

“Really?” Jensen smiled, stepping into the bedroom to flip a switch that turned on a couple table lamps but not the ceiling lights. “I’ve liked your dreams so far. Tell me this one.”

“I’d rather show you,” hoping his fingers weren’t shaking like he thought they were, Jared went slowly when he reached out to begin to remove Jensen’s belt before letting his fingers hover the snap as if seeking permission.

Lifting a hand to curve his fingers behind Jared’s neck to pull his head down for a slow kiss, Jensen nodded. “Show me.”

While he’d been standing back to watch the events at the press conference Jared had allowed his imagination to slip away from him a few times until he nearly made himself hard with the image of getting his hand around his friend’s cock again.

Flipping the snap open, he lowered the zipper with a low sound in the back of his throat. The time in the shower back on San Padre was different because Jensen had already been undressed and Jared thought he was nearly as nervous about messing this up as he was the actual hand job.

“Talk to me, Jay,” Jensen knew he was nervous but wanted to let Jared do this without his help. “Tell me what you want and then do it.”

“I would dream of stripping you slowly,” Jared began, unaware of how much of his accent had come back in the building need and desire as he slid his fingers under the waistband of both jeans and briefs to slowly begin to skim the clothes down Jensen’s legs while his friend took care of the shirt himself. “Then I’d get you on the sofa in my trailer or yours since I thought a bed would be too…bold,” he blushed now that he considered what he was saying and what he was doing while saying it.

“Go on,” Jensen encouraged, fingers itching to touch Jared but kept his hands at his sides with a nod back to the huge black brushed metal bed. “This might be a bit easier on the bed though.”

Jared had nearly forgotten where they were until he blinked, considering it before seeing the advantages since he was about to drop something on his friend that he wasn’t certain Jensen was expecting. “Then I’d have you keep your hands on the back of the sofa while I jerked you off and then…umm,” he hesitated a second while being led toward the bed, feeling his own cock popping to life inside his jeans as he watched Jensen stretch out on the bed.

Looking at Jared from under his lashes, Jensen moved up the bed until his head was on the pillow with his hands folded under his head and his legs stretched out straight while his cock showed it was very interested in his friend’s dream.

“And then what, Jay?” he asked in the pure sex and sugar tone that he knew could make Jared hard in the blink, sticking his tongue in his cheek as he caught the way his friend undid his jeans and zipper to relieve the building pressure down there.

“And then you’d flip me over so you were on top, which by the way is so much easier for me, and…” Jared’s whole face turned red as he thought of this next part but also found that you couldn’t actually bring himself to say it out loud and began to lose his nerve. “I…um…maybe we should just go with…Jensen!”

The taller man yelped at the unexpected move when Jensen proved that he was both quick and had a long reach when he reached out to grab Jared by the front of his open jeans to pull him onto the bed and only Jared’s quick reflexes kept him to landing fully on top of his friend, putting all of his weight on his arms.

“Neither one of us are kids anymore and we’ve both seen and done some things so tell me what you wanted me to do that could possibly make you blush like this,” Jensen urged, reached up to stroke his thumb along Jared’s cheek while leaning up to kiss him. “Tell me, Jay. I won’t judge you if that’s what you’re worried about just tell me.”

“I dreamed that after I jerked you off that…you flipped our positions used your belt to tie my hands behind me since there was nothing to tie them to in my dream and suck me off,” Jared rushed the words out while shutting his eyes and praying he hadn’t just proved he’d been overthinking too much and watching way too much porn on a rainy afternoon.

Jensen had gone still; lashes covering his eyes so what he was thinking or feeling couldn’t be discerned and for several heart stopping seconds all Jared could hear was the sound of his own thudding heart.

He was just about to panic that he’d screwed them up in a huge and horrible way when in the blink of an eye he found himself flipped so he was on the bottom with his hands held above his head and Jensen straddling his waist with a look of pure lust shining in deep green eyes.

“Can I make one tiny little change to this incredibly hot and very doable dream?” Jensen asked while licking his lips just because he liked seeing the way Jared’s eyes went to pupil while watching his tongue. “While I am so interested in feeling your hands on me…I think for this moment I’m a bit more interested in the second part but first tell me something…how many unknown kinks do you have that you managed to keep hidden from me for 12 years?”

“Oh. Um, nothing like that,” Jared could feel the tension melting away as the solid weight settled to keep him pinned while both of his wrists were held under one of Jensen’s hands while his friend stretched to try to find something in the nightstand drawer. “I mean…Gen and I…experimented with some…stuff a few times but it’s nothing…serious or…too serious and quit looking at me like that. I feel weird enough telling you that I thought about you tying me up.”

Jensen finally found what he’d been looking for but kept it hidden from view while glancing straight into Jared’s worried eyes. “I told you that I wouldn’t judge you and I won’t. I want to know if being tied up is as far as the kinks go or…if there’s anything else or would you rather we just discover those along the way?” he bit back a smile as those huge eyes widened as if Jared was surprised. “Dani liked to explore and play so I’m not totally 100% vanilla,” he explained as he leaned down to begin to lightly lick and nip his way along Jared’s jaw until he pressed a little harder on the wrists he still had in his hand to urge the younger man to be still. “So…you want to play a little, Jay?”

The teasing was obvious but so was the clear physical reaction for both men even though Jensen planned to even the odds since Jared was still fully clothed and he wasn’t.

Throwing his original plan to the side immediately, Jared nodded while watching his friend to try to get a gauge on what he was thinking as Jensen eased back a little and released his hands. “Jensen?”

“Sit up, take off the shirt then lay back down with your hands crossed over your head,” the older man instructed while still keeping what he’d found hidden from Jared.

It had never once come to mind that his friend might want to add a bit more excitement to the sex and Jensen had planned on waiting a few months before bringing it up but if Jared was brave enough to share this with him then he was willing to try it.

He knew that in the world of sex and kink this was mild even compared to some things that he and his ex-wife had done in bed but he was also still considering that a lot of this was new to Jared and would take it slow…or as slow as his leaking and hardening cock would allow him.

Jared quickly sat up to shed his shirt before he lay back down to raise his arms over his head to wait, nervousness setting in until a hand stroked down the center of his chest.

“Before we do this, that night when Todd spiked your drink did that guy tie you up or cross any lines?” Jensen needed to know exactly what Jared felt easy with but he also wasn’t going to start with anything that might bring back bad memories; relieved by the shake of a head. “Okay, close your eyes just for a minute, babe.”

Trusting Jensen allowed Jared to feel safe enough to close his eyes, returning the hot kiss offered as he felt something soft wrapping around his wrists to bind them before he felt his hands being pulled up to touch the cool metal headboard as Jensen tied whatever it was to it as well.

“Too tight?” he asked after testing the knots himself to be sure they could be removed easily if Jared got spooked or wanted loose but not too loose so his friend would still have the feeling of being restrained.

Giving a couple little tugs to find that his wrists were tight well but not tight Jared gave a nod. “No, it’s good,” he replied but was still uneasy with not seeing. “Can I open my eyes?”

Hearing the slightest catch told Jensen that using blindfolds would be out or at least until Jared became more used to this. “Yeah, open and look,” he acknowledged, not moving until Jared had looked up to see his wrists had been bound with one of Jensen’s silk ties that he’d stuffed in the nightstand one time. “Okay?”

“Yeah,” Jared murmured upon seeing how hard his friend had gotten just from tying him to the bed, growing harder in his jeans as he watched the steady drops of precome leaking onto his stomach from Jensen’s cock but then arched up with a moan as Jensen leaned down to lick along his stomach while sliding down to slowly remove the restricting jeans and boxer briefs until they came off.

Jensen hummed low in his throat as he knelt between Jared’s long legs to take in the view of his friend’s body with his hands bound above him, his cock already hard and dripping while Jared’s eyes were nearly already all pupil. “Damn, Jay,” he breathed, settling himself between those legs to run his hands along Jared’s thighs to feel the muscles under his fingers. “You are so damn hot like this,” he told his friend while lowering his head to run hot kisses along his stomach before moving into the juncture between hip and pelvis and feeling the body under him beginning to strain. “Like that?”

“One of these days I’m going to tease you like this for hours,” Jared warned. His body was on edge and needy but calming back down at the feel of fingers stroking over his hip. Then he let his head fall back with a groan the second Jensen’s mouth opened and he felt the wet hot heat covering the head of his cock. “Jen!”

It had been years, back when he’d been on Days the first time, that Jensen had given a blowjob and that had been on a dare but he still recalled the basics as he took his time to slowly take the large dripping cock into his mouth, letting his tongue move along the sensitive underside before bringing it up to swirl over and into the slit.

Every sound Jared made now was shooting to his already hard and wanting cock but what nearly did Jensen in was the first taste that was a combination of salty, sweet and all Jared. It took a lot of willpower to not come right then.

Jared own body was fighting to not thrust up which was hard when he lifted his head to feel practically all the spit in his mouth dry up as he watched the way his friend’s mouth was moving, slip sliding up and down his cock before moving back up until just the head remained.

This was the pattern that Jensen established that soon had Jared’s body shaking with need that got more intense at the first touch of fingers slipping between his legs to move back to start to gently massage his balls.

“Shit!” Jared gasped, sure that his eyes were going to roll back in his head between the feel of hot lips sucking him down and confident fingers rolling each of his balls before slipping first one and then the other into the palm of Jensen’s hand. “Oh! That’s…” he lost himself in the feel of what was happening and the sight of watching Jensen’s head bob up and down while not taking him too far in but the piece of Jared’s cock that wasn’t being touched by hot lips had strong fingers wrapped around it. “Jen, I…please…”

His body was on the edge. Jared wasn’t a total innocent. Gen had liked to suck him off a few times but that was nothing compared to what he was feeling right then as he watched Jensen ease back hollowing his cheeks to suck him harder; the feel of a skilled tongue playing along his slit while those fingers slipped back to touch a spot just behind his balls and Jared didn’t have a chance to warn his friend or prepare himself because he came hard and hot. “Jensen! I…oh my God…”

Jared forgot that he’d been twisting his wrists in an effort to be free just to touch his friend. He forgot the strength of his orgasm even as it was rocking through him. He almost forgot his own name as he looked down to see Jensen’s deep green eyes where only a thin ring of green was showing were locked on him while his mouth continued to suck the head of Jared’s cock deeply as one hand squeezed his balls and the other continued to stroke Jared until his hips slowed their upward thrusts before he finally went limp with a low whimper.

Jensen had known when it was close and while swallowing wasn’t something he normally did he’d chosen to this time because he was enjoying watching Jared’s reactions. He’d known it would happen the moment he brushed his finger back behind Jared’s balls to manipulate that spot and had been prepared to take the climax as his friend, his lover, shot come into his mouth and he sucked until he felt Jared’s body go limp.

“Jay?” his voice was raw and hoarse from swallowing when he slowly drew off his cock with a wet popping sound that shot right to his own dripping and aching cock. “You alright?”

“Beyond alright,” Jared’s eyes were trying to open while he flexed his fingers, finally able to see as Jensen moved back up to find his mouth and he groaned into the kiss at the taste there. “Let…me touch you?”

“With pleasure,” Jensen undid the knot with one hand, letting Jared free and moaning when as soon as he had a free hand Jared’s fingers were wrapping around Jensen’s needy cock while turning on his side so their bodies were touching. “God, Jay…” he took the open mouth that pressed over his as invitation to slip his tongue in to explore while his hips pushed into the firm grip that was stroking him.

It took only a few firm strokes as well as a touch of a fingernail running along the highly sensitive nerve to make Jensen come with a shout of Jared’s name, his fingers digging into his friend’s long dark hair to pull his head back for a heated kiss that deepened until they were both gasping.

Jensen’s hands roamed along Jared’s back to slip down to mold his fingers into the flesh of his firm ass, chuckling at the sound that earned him and slowly feeling his climax coming to an end with a wince at how sensitive his cock now felt but as if Jared sensed that he gentled his touch for the last couple strokes to help his friend get as much from that as Jensen had done for him.

“I think I can get used to this,” Jared murmured, lips curving into a shy smile after they’d both lain still to cool off and recover.

“I’m glad to hear that,” Jensen chuckled, smoothing long sweat soaked hair back so he could see Jared’s face before bringing him close for a slower, deeper kiss. “Thank you,” he whispered after brushing his lips along Jared’s ear, knowing he liked that.

Blinking a little, Jared propped himself up on an elbow while Jensen reached around on the floor for something to wipe them off with since neither were up to a shower right then. “For what?” he asked, confused. “Shouldn’t I be thanking you for everything you’ve done for me lately and I don’t just mean the sex.”

“Okay, no you shouldn’t be thanking me for anything because what I did I did because I love you, I’m your friend and I wanted to,” Jensen replied, snatching his shirt to wipe them both free of sweat and Jensen’s own come and then gave the shirt a toss toward the bathroom as he then shifted so he could bring Jared in to lay closer; his fingers moving back through his hair and along wide shoulders.

“As for the other…” he tipped his friend’s face up enough to brush his knuckles along his face to smile with soft eyes as he took in the sleepy expression watching him. “Thank you for trusting me enough to let us do what we just did. I love you,” he murmured with a gentle kiss.

It never failed to startle or amaze Jared how such simple words could make him feel. “Jen, I’ve trusted you since the first scene we shot together. I’ve loved you like a brother and wanted you as more for years so of course you’d be the only one I’d trust to tie me up,” he replied, not wanting to sleep but his body was exhausted. “Not even Gen and I did that and it wasn’t that I didn’t trust her but it was more like…it didn’t feel right. Did that make sense?”

“Yeah, it did,” Jensen assured him, feeling Jared shifting closer and smiled while not mentioning that the cuddling after sex seemed to be becoming a habit but since he also enjoyed it he’d keep quiet. “You can sleep and then once Clif gets back here with food and Dean you can walk the shoe eating monster while I start the steaks.”

A low mumble was heard which told Jensen that his friend was already sound asleep, his head finding the spot on Jensen’s shoulder that he always seemed to as his arm moved to lay over Jensen’s chest.

By the time either man woke back up the sun had set and the sounds of scampering could be heard pounding up and down the steps as Dean had clearly made himself at home.

“I love you, dude but couldn’t you have rescued a smaller dog?” Jensen groaned, beginning to move to sit up only to have the arm that was still over him tense to keep him still. “Jared? You awake?”

There was a moment of silence before a hazel eye opened with a yawn. “Yeah, I’m just not sure I’m ready to move yet,” he admitted and then his smile flashed. “Love you.”

“I know but if we don’t make an appearance I think Clif will eventually come looking this time and I don’t feel like getting ice water tossed on me,” he shoved the arm aside as Jared groaned and just flopped onto his back to cover his head with a pillow. “Jensen?” he called after lifting the pillow to see his friend dressing. “What do I do now?”

Jared knew what he’d said about acting and stuff but it was suddenly very real to him that in the morning he really didn’t have to do much of anything and that left him feeling a little lost.

“Now you get up, get dressed, we make dinner, tease the hell outta Clif, play with that dog and make a call to Sun Valley so you can speak with your sons,” Jensen left his shirt untucked while just zipping them and slipping into his shoes, sitting beside Jared to watch his eyes widen. “You’ve got to start somewhere, Jay. It may as well be with a call. I’ll call her for you if you want.”

It would be so easy to let his friend make that call, but no. Jared knew if he was ever going to start to feel like himself again, if he was ever going to start rebuilding his life, making a life with Jensen, then he had to make that call to Gen first.

“No, I’ll call but…stay close?” he was willing to make the call but not so willing to do it fully alone.

“I’ll always be with you, Jay,” Jensen promised, starting to lean up for a kiss just as there was pounding on the door along with excited barking. “Told you.”

“Alright! You two get your asses dressed, which by the way is an image I never wanted, and downstairs to start broiling these steaks or I’m letting the dog in!” Clif called loudly, giving another pound before hearing something hit the door so he knew he’d gotten their attention. “They were bad before. They will drive me into an early grave with this stuff,” he complained to the tail wagging half puppy that half-ran/half-rolled down the steps.

Once the noise stopped, Jared began to snicker as his cheeks began to blush. “How low key are we planning to keep this?” he asked while grabbing for his jeans as his shirt was tossed to him.

“I think Clif’s figured it out so we’ll play the rest by ear,” Jensen shrugged, waiting until Jared was fully dressed and within touching distance to catch his wrist and tug until they were close. “Love you, Jay,” he murmured, seeing and feeling Jared’s smile as he let his forehead rest against his.

“I know and I love you,” Jared returned, feeling the creep of fingers under his shirt and laughing. “No. If we start fooling around we will get ice water tossed on us. Behave until he leaves and maybe I’ll let you talk me into sharing a shower.”

Jensen considered that plan and wondered how quickly he could convince the former bodyguard to leave early as he followed his friend down the steps to smile as Jared’s face lit as Dean barked happily and bolted over his own large feet to get to Jared.

“You’re home, Jay,” he murmured while joining Jared and the dog on the steps to see Clif at the bottom of the steps with a grin before disappearing back toward the rear of the home and the kitchen. “Think he needs a Sam?” he asked.

Two sets of eyes were instantly on him and he only had a second to brace before Jared’s arms were around him which gave Jensen the answer he wanted, returning the hug and the quick kiss before standing up. “We’ll let him settle in here and then we’ll see about a puppy to rescue.”

“Thanks, Jensen,” Jared smiled, tossing the stuffed animal Dean had brought to him and started to follow him down the steps to glance down to see Jensen’s fingers lacing with his. “What about…?”

“Our house,” Jensen might be willing to keep their relationship under wraps but only to a point and not in the house that they’d share unless there was no other choice. “Besides, I want to touch you.”

“Jensen! Leave the boy to play with his dog and get in here before I blow up this damn stove!” Clif shouted as if knowing what was happening.

Jared stuck his tongue in his cheek to keep a straight face while Jensen’s eyes narrowed as he headed for the kitchen.

“Did I hire you again? I don’t remember hiring you as our bodyguard again, Clif…much less a chaperone,” Jensen was complaining while Jared snapped his fingers to get the dog to come as they followed.

Standing in the door to listen and watch his best friend and now…boyfriend, that would take some getting used to thinking, argue with the smirking ex-bodyguard reminded Jared thought back to how much his life had changed yet again in little under a month.

He had long ago given up ever seeing Jensen again much less ever facing the secret attraction that he had for the man and now he not only had that but the start of a new life that did seem daunting but Jared knew he’d make it since he survived five years of being alone and surviving only by making bottles of sand on the beach.

Now he had a home, his friend and lover, a dog and would soon find a way to see his sons. That was all Jared needed right at the moment.

“Hey,” Jensen’s hand brushed over his arm causing him to snap back to attention to realize his friend must have been talking to him because Jensen looked concerned. “You okay? You spaced out on me.”

“Yeah, I was just thinking how lucky I am that Miller showed you that photo and that you came for me,” Jared could smell the steaks cooking but needed to settle one more thing before he could fully step into this new life. “Can Clif keep an eye on those?” he asked, seeing the bodyguard lift his head curiously while taking a deep breath. “I want to make that call. Can we?”

Jensen merely nodded, glancing over his shoulder to motion to the stove. “Don’t burn anything,” he ignored the smirk but did see the worry on Clif’s face. “We’ll be right back. Jared just has a call to make,” he rubbed a hand along his friend’s shoulder. “C’mon, let’s go call your boys.”

An hour later, Clif had turned the steaks off to go find the boys when he found Jensen sitting on the sofa with an arm around Jared to hold him as he shook. He started to take a step forward when a hand shot up to warn him off and seeing that whatever it was Jensen had it under control he stepped back.

“Better now?” he asked quietly but kept his arm tight even as his fingers carded back through Jared’s hair soothingly.

The call had been hard to make and the fear had been huge in his heart that his sons wouldn’t even remember him but the moment Gen put it on speaker and Thomas called him Dad it took every ounce of strength Jared had not to break into tears right there.

He talked to both boys for a while, answering what he could, evading other things and promising to come see them soon, exchanging quiet words of understanding with his ex-wife before hanging up and turning into Jensen’s arms to just let all of the buried emotions, things he buried for years, come pouring free until he stilled.

“They remembered me, Jen,” he was both amazed and relieved over that, starting to pull back until he felt the arm around him tighten enough to tell him to stay where he was. “They both remembered me and want to see me.”

“Of course they do. You’re still their Daddy, Jared. We can go one weekend or if you want to go alone Clif can take you,” Jensen didn’t need to be looking at Jared to know that probably earned him a bitch face. “I usually have weekends off shooting for Days so we can go soon.”

Jared lifted his head to meet the smile. “Thank you for being with me,” he brushed his lips over Jensen’s softly before finally easing back. “I’m okay and I’ll be okay. Can we eat?”

“Assuming they’re not rubber,” Jensen laughed, standing to hold out a hand that was taken instantly and held for a moment as their eyes met before Jared got to his feet. “I’m glad I came for you, Jay. And I’m glad you came home.”

“So am I,” Jared returned, thinking back to his last five years. He’d miss some of it like the Spallings and the quiet nights but he could never regret the chance to be with Jensen and not be alone. “So am I…Jen? Is that your shoe Dean has?” he asked with a grimace.

Jensen’s eyes tracked to where the huge puppy was laying happily chewing on another leather shoe and he groaned. “Maybe we’ll get a cat,” he muttered, ignoring Jared’s laugh as he tried to salvage his leather loafer from the now running dog who thought it was a game.

“Thank you for coming for me, Jen,” Jared whispered more to himself before joining his friend in the hunt to capture the very fast dog that had seemed to have learned every small space in the house in a short amount of time. “We could get a Yorkie,” he deadpanned.

“Shut up, Jay,” Jensen growled, smiling at the laughing that soon was spread throughout the house.

Clif stood back to watch and wondered how long to let this play out before whistling for the dog to drop his new toy like he’d taught him to do. “I’ll give ‘em hour,” he decided with a smile of his own.


Chapter Text

Chapter Nine

Ten months Later:

“Sooo…” Jared drew the word out while deciding on a good way to continue without either snickering or getting elbowed and since he was well aware of fast Jensen could move when he wanted he was very seriously pondering how to respond to the news he’d just been given.

In the ten months since leaving San Padre Island, Texas to return to the world of glitz, TV, crazy fans, and snoopy reporters Jared had both loved and hated it.

He loved being with Jensen even though the days were long without him as he shot for Days of Our Lives long hours but then they weren’t as long as some of the shoots they both had put in for Supernatural. He spent that time catching up on things that he’d missed the past five years on the computer and the new phone Jensen had bought for him.

Jared also spent the time playing with Dean and Sam out in the yard since they’d been barred from playing inside by Clif and the housekeeper after the dogs tore through the garden on a rainy day to bring it all inside.

Sam wasn’t quite as large as his older brother. He was a pale coated mix of a Cocker Spaniel and a Basset Hound. He had the coat of the Spaniel but the bark and short legs of the Basset Hound.

Jensen had found him abandoned in an alley behind one of the studios and after a brief stare down he’d simply picked him up and brought him home to the delight of both Jared and Dean.

So most of his days were filled with puppy training and trying to teach them both that despite what Clif or Misha said Jensen’s shoes, especially the expensive Italian leather ones, were not chew toys; that lesson was still hit or miss for them.

One weekend about a month after Jared’s return, he and Jensen went to Sun Valley, Idaho so Jared could see his sons for the first time in five years. That had been an emotionally draining time for all of them but by the time they left to fly home that Sunday Jared was smiling more and at peace.  He still had a chance to be a father since he and Gen had also talked about bringing the boys to California to visit.

Now he spoke on the phone to them at least a few times a week which made all of them happy. Jared had also spoken to lawyers and authorities about the blackmail and the events behind it. That had been hard but Jensen had been allowed to take the day off to go with him when he had to give testimony and it was a safe bet that Todd Lawrence would be facing several charges.

They were no closer to finding where he’d stashed Jared’s money but just knowing the man wouldn’t be able to do that to anyone else had been enough for Jared.

He’d stubbornly refused to take money from his parents or brother when they offered after a visit to them. A visit that had turned a little tense when his family put two and two together to figure out that him and Jensen had broadened the scope of their relationship to more than friends.

His parents had been startled and naturally concerned but when Jensen had made the excuse that he should go pay his own folks a visit Sherry Padalecki had pulled them both into the kitchen to simply ask if he was happy. Once Jared had assured her that he was things calmed down though he knew it would take them longer to accept the change than it had Jensen’s family.

Jared hadn’t acted but he had let himself be talked into speaking with a manager, the same manager that Jensen had hired for himself after several months of looking for one that they could both trust.

After sitting through several meetings Jensen had with the short and round little older man with a sense of humor to rival Misha’s, Jared had agreed to let him manage him…if he ever started to act again.

While he wasn’t acting himself he had spent some time roaming the sets of Days while he watched Jensen film his scenes. He’d been approached several times by the producers asking if he’d be interested in a role and while he thought it might be interesting Jared just didn’t find the same appeal for the daytime show as he had Supernatural.

That and the fact that he’d been offered 5K by one of the other actors if he refused the offers and didn’t come around too often due to the distraction his presence was to several of the younger actresses had been enough to tell Jared that perhaps daytime TV was not a nitch he wanted to try to break into.

Of course while he’d found the offer amusing, Jensen had found it less so and it took a lot of convincing and heated kisses as a distraction to convince his boyfriend not to smash the actor’s face in.

Now it was getting close to the wrap of Jensen’s time as Eric Brady unless he wanted to extend his contract. They were lying in bed after a long day of a physical shoot with Jensen on his stomach stripped to the waist and Jared straddling his back so he could work out the kinks and tension of his friend’s back and shoulders.

That was why Jared was being very careful picking his next words since he didn’t want an elbow to come back to hit him in a very sensitive spot.

“A missionary in North Africa?” he finally coughed, fighting not to laugh as Jensen shifted his head to glance over his shoulder at him with a smirk.

“If I decline the contract then they’ll write Eric off the show by making him finally so disgusted with how things are in Salem that he’ll devote his time as a missionary in some North African country,” he nodded, seeing the little lines around Jared’s eyes that meant he was fighting not to laugh; something he’d been trying not to do since being told the news. “See? I told you we should have just let the writers turn Eric gay,” he flashed a smile. “We still could especially since that would get Mr. Hotshot Stud to swallow his tongue because I’d only act with you.”

That did make Jared laugh, pouring more oil into his hands before slowly rubbing his hands over Jensen’s shoulders, letting his thumbs dig gently into his neck to feel him relax a bit more. “No. I don’t want to be responsible for all those poor Eric Brady fans tar and feathering you,” he laughed, turning serious. “Will you renew with Days or have you and Bert talked about what else is out there?” he asked.

He knew Bert Rosenstein had been talking to Jensen more but he hadn’t asked about what because he didn’t want to pry.

“If I renew they want to try an arc where Eric, because Stefano is pissed off at Sami…again, hires someone to attack her brother and he winds up with amnesia in a mental hospital in the next state. I’m not sure if I want to take on the emotional or physical baggage that arc would come with,” Jensen had considered it himself before feeling Jared go still and knew what he was thinking. “Yeah, it wouldn’t be a pleasant few months for me or Eric if I go back.”

Jared didn’t like what that might entail since he still recalled the emotional toll he’d undergone a few times when Sam Winchester had ended up in a hospital or the mental ward that one time.

Supernatural had held back on a lot of things while Days seemed to push the envelope and it worried him what Jensen would be asked to do or take on.

“Do you want to do that?” he asked quietly, having to quickly steady himself when Jensen just easily shifted so he was on his back and their eyes were locked.

“Tell me what you want me to do, Jared,” Jensen knew what he was going to do or what he was 90% certain he would do but he wanted Jared to voice an opinion. “If I renew with Days it’s going to mean even longer shoots and if they take Eric down that path those shoots won’t be easy for me. We both know I can be a bastard when I’m tired or when I’m covering crap so can you live with me like that?”

It still took him off guard when Jensen asked for his opinion on important matters like this but Jared knew this time it was out of concern for them both. “I could live with you no matter how grumpy or upset you got, Jen,” he replied but added in a softer tone of voice. “I would still love you with all my heart…I just might not like you very much all the time.”

“That’s what I thought,” Jensen smiled, lifting a hand to curl his fingers in Jared’s t-shirt to pull him down so when he raised his head their lips met in a slow deep kiss. “I told them to give me the weekend to decide because I wanted to talk it over with you and because Bert said he had a lead on a movie that we both might be interested in,” he licked along Jared’s lips to relax the frown that had formed. “Both of us as in two parts, not both of us vying for the same part.”

That had been Jensen’s concern when the grandfatherly type man had first mentioned the role over the phone at lunch a few days ago but he’d held off mentioning it to Jared just to avoid that frown.

Jared had never said he wouldn’t consider a movie role. He had just said he would not consider a role if Jensen was also up for it.

“What movie?” Jared wanted to know in between kisses, giving in to the kisses to relax while feeling Jensen’s fingers giving a tug on the bottom of his shirt and knowing he wanted the shirt off. “I thought I was massaging your back?” he chuckled, biting down hard on his lip when those nimble fingers began to play with his zipper and fly. “Jensen…the movie?”

“I don’t know anything about it except Bert said he’d call as soon as he knew more and I’d rather relax by hearing you moaning under me as I open you to take me,” Jensen returned, letting his fingers rub over the already tented denim of Jared’s jeans. “Hmm, it doesn’t take much for me to make you hard, does it, Jay?”

“I still say one of these days I’m going to tease you like that,” Jared muttered but didn’t deny it. He was about to give in and let Jensen flip them over when cellphone in Jensen’s pocket began to ring. “Phones or puppies have the worst timing for us to have sex these days,” he grinned, laughing as his back hit the bed and Jensen spread his legs over him.

“Watch me get rid of whoever is stupid enough to call me on my cellphone on a Friday night and then we’ll continue what you were leading up to about teasing me,” Jensen kissed him as he pulled the phone out to flip it open without looking to see who it was calling. “If this isn’t a vital emergency that demands my full attention or my daughter’s not sick then whoever the hell this is calling me is about to…”

The words stopped at the same time that Jensen’s whole body tensed as he sat up fully, remaining on Jared’s legs but no longer speaking as he listened to who was talking to him with a look of complete shock on his handsome face.

“Jen, what’s wrong?” Jared hadn’t seen his friend look like that since he got the text from Danneel about her being pregnant so seeing it now was concerning to him. “Jensen? Is something wrong with JJ or…” he shut up when a finger was laid over his lips.

“Uhh, yeah, Bert mentioned a movie to me that he said both Jared and I might be interested in but he didn’t say what it was about or…are you serious? This isn’t a joke that Misha put you up to playing to get back at Jared for last week’s little photo bomb prank?” Jensen was stunned as he listened to the man speaking on the other end of his phone.

Of all the people he ever expected to call him or hear from again this man would have been near the bottom and only because his fingers had been sucked into Jared’s mouth in retaliation for using them to shut him up did Jensen manage not to freak out.

“No, no, of course I’m interested and I’m sure Jared will be too…what?” Jensen blinked, his eyes going shut at the feel of those soft lips sucking on his fingers and feeling Jared’s tongue licking over them. “Yeah, I’m sure you heard about that but he’s ready to work…if the part was right and I think this part will be just right for us both.”

Playfully sucking Jensen’s fingers to tease him while he spoke on the phone, Jared lifted an eyebrow in question over what part would be just right for him since he knew really there would only be one right part and he’d stepped away from that six years earlier.

“And after the movie? You mentioned…God,” Jensen smiled in a way that took Jared’s breath away so he knew whatever the call was over had to be good news. “Yes, send them to Bert but I’m sure there won’t be a problem and…Jared and I look forward to seeing and talking to you next week. Yes, it was and I hope we can recapture some of that,” he was fighting the urge to laugh and cry at the same time, trying to reassure Jared that he was fine when his hands began to shake. “Thank you for calling me and…Eric? Thank you for not giving up the show.”

The single name shot straight to Jared’s brain because there was only one Eric that they both knew who would cause such a reaction in his friend or who might be speaking about both of them.

As soon as the call was over, the phone dropped from Jensen’s hand with a soft oath but before Jared could attempt to sit up to find out what was happening he found Jensen’s lips sealed over his in a hard, heated kiss that took his breath away and also had him groaning.

“That was partially for nearly making me come there from you sucking my fingers while I was on the phone getting us both jobs, Mr. Padalecki,” Jensen remarked after breaking the kiss, his hands were still shaking and his heart pounding as he replayed the call in his head. “That was Eric.”

“Eric as in Eric Kripke?” Jared sat up fully, hands automatically going to Jensen’s hips to keep him from moving as he nodded, excitement shining in his eyes. “What…what did Eric want?” he asked carefully, trying to not leap to any guesses since the creator of their former show had plenty of projects he was working on that he might have wanted to talk to them about. “Does he have a new plot to spin?”

Grinning, Jensen leaned closer to lace the fingers of both hands behind Jared’s neck as he began to kiss his jaw while speaking to him in a low husky tone. “Not a new plot,” he corrected carefully, feeling Jared stiffen but he went on slowly. “Think an old plot, familiar characters…really, really familiar black car,” he was now brushing soft little kisses over his friend’s cheeks, his nose and back to his ear. “Now think really hard on how you’re going to keep a straight face while on camera with me playing your big brother…Sammy.”

“Oh my God,” Jared breathed, stunned and scared at the same time. “But…they…the network cancelled the show so how…what did he…really?”

“Eric hooked the network by getting a studio to agree to first do a movie that will bring Sam and Dean back from where the last episode left off and where…season 13 will pick back up,” Jensen laughed as Jared let out a shout of pure joy before crushing him to his chest in a hard hug. “I take it this is a role you’d be willing to do, Jay?”

“God, yes!” Jared enthused happily until something else dawned on him to cause a frown. “What about Days?” he asked warily.

The role of Eric Brady hadn’t entered his head once he’d gotten this news. Jensen accepted that he owed the role and the people at Days a lot because he’d practically started there but there was no doubt in his mind what his answer would now be.

Pushing Jared back until he was laying on the bed, he levered himself above him to lightly, playfully kiss his face, his neck before lifting his eyes to smile. “It looks like Mr. Brady will be going to North Africa to become a missionary,” he laughed, relaxing as he let himself be rolled under to take whatever Jared dished out. “Maybe he’ll meet a nice missionary lady and they can give Marlena and Roman a few more grandkids. We’re going back to hunting ghosts or whatever the hell Eric wrote that would bring the Winchesters back out of retirement.”

“Do you think the fan base will still be like it was?” Jared knew they still had fans because he’d slowly been looking at the social media sites to see it still looked the same, almost like six years hadn’t passed.

“Eric mentioned they were having a convention in Dallas next weekend,” Jensen took advantage of his friend’s distraction at that to get back on top. “He wants to talk to us about plots and also other stuff that we’re letting Bert handle. He also thought maybe a…surprise visit to the Con would…brighten the fans up.”

Laughing at both the reaction of them showing up unannounced at a Con would have and also as the tickling fingers moving up his sides until the tears were coming out the corners of his eyes. “I give!” he shouted, trying to catch those hands only to find his own held down. “I suppose I’ll have to face the public again if we’re doing this and Dallas is like home so…I’m ready if you are, Jen.”

“I’ve been ready since we walked off that lot in Vancouver six years ago,” Jensen moved so they were lying facing one another, his hand holding Jared’s over his heart. “I’ll be right with you no matter where we go or what we face…and we won’t be alone,” he kissed Jared slowly while adding in a whisper. “Eric said the movie will be like old home week…and something about behaving ourselves so our TV parents will quit bitching at him.”

Jared smiled at that, settling down to yawn. He was excited and also terrified at the same time. “Jen?” he glanced over, smiling at the feel of fingers brushing over his cheek. “What if I…what if I can’t do it?”

“You’re still an actor, Jay. You could act in your sleep,” Jensen assured him, understanding the nerves since he had a few of them himself but as he thought of something else he just smiled. “Besides, this isn’t acting. In a lot of ways Sam and Dean are a part of who we are and I don’t think those roles will ever slip away so going back, taking back those people that we spent 12 seasons molding and making will just be like riding a bike. You’ll never forget.”

That made sense to Jared and made him relax again. “I love you, Jensen,” he murmured, trying not to think about how they’d handle their relationship in the midst of filming and the ever present cameras.

“And I love you, Jared,” Jensen slid his arm around to draw his friend close to him, no longer feeling too tense to sleep and feeling that Jared would sleep well that night as well.

Taking a glance to see that both dogs were sleeping already, Jensen smiled; opening one eye to peek at Jared. “Jay, you know it goes without saying that we’re renting a house wherever we’re filming for the movie or the show, right?”

“Hoped so,” Jared replied through a yawn, his head finding the one spot he almost always did now to sleep and drifting off fully happy and relaxed for the first time in six years. “Are we going home?”

Knowing what Jared meant by that, Jensen pressed his lips into soft dark hair. “Yeah, Jay,” he smiled. “We’re going home.”

The End