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From Boy to Man

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Chapter One: Day One in Vancouver

The Supernatural writers, Eric and Sara, agreed that Jared brought exuberance to the character of Sam. He bounced off the walls with his energy. A self-conscious, boy, who just turned 22 in July, Jared was as insecure about his body as a teenager. Yet in spite of his inhibitions, Jared was nonetheless himself. He lived out loud, unable to suppress his personality.

Jensen was slightly older, and a more experienced actor. Elder than Jared by four years, Jensen's maturity level exceeded Jared’s. Acting and modeling since childhood, Jensen behaved professionally. He was serious for his age, in part from acting on a soap opera with an older cast. He never initiated pranks. Generally, he ran his lines and got into character while waiting to film his scenes.

Initially, working with Jared exhausted everyone. He was so talkative, and needed constant verbal engagement with others. He gave voice to every thought in his head. He was a great actor, and his dailies looked really good. The director, Bob Singer, felt Jared was emotionally high maintenance, but he was young, and would grow out of it. Plus, the results on film were worth it.

The writers and director Eric, Sara and Philip, saw the toll Jared’s needs took on Jensen, how exhausted Jensen was at the end of each day’s filming. They discussed it among themselves. They knew the boys would find a balance, Jensen engaging more, and Jared calming himself. It would take time for them to find a norm that was comfortable for them. The director and writers agreed to keep a close eye on the dynamic to ensure balance and avoid burn out.  

“The boys”, as they were called on set, were equally enthusiastic about co-starring in a new show. Being a co-lead in a new show could make an actor’s career. Jensen tended to be subdued about showing his emotions. Rather than jumping up and down, he might say, “I’m honored to be cast in this role, and to have the opportunity to play Dean Winchester on Supernatural,” whereas Jared demonstrated his enthusiasm by bounding around the set gleefully, jumping, and touching, engaging, warmly smiling with his mouth and twinkling eyes, and talking to everyone in his vicinity. Both boys were well liked.    

In the hair and makeup trailer, Jared would talk incessantly as his hair was styled. Tricia did makeup and Jeannie did hair. He talked about his folks, his brother, Jeff, the orthopedic surgeon, his sister in high school, Megan, his home state of Texas, and his 2 dogs, Sadie and Harlie.

Jensen, on the other hand, was calm in the mornings, content to relax quietly in the chair while his makeup was applied, his scalp massaged, and his hair styled. He made a good audience for Jared.

Jared was a big eater. At 6’4”, he consumed a lot of calories every day in the form of both food and sweets. He loved candy, both chocolate and the junky kind. It’s a wonder he maintains such beautiful, straight, white teeth, Jensen thought.

There was a little awkwardness between Jared and Jensen naturally when they first started filming together. They were cast as brothers, but as humans who were just getting acquainted, it could be awkward to maintain the constant eye contact required during some of the brothers’ scenes. The dialogue was intense. Also, some of the dialogue Dean delivered was stern. After the scenes Jensen would check in with Jared, just to make sure Jared was not taking anything personally.

“I apologize for some of the lines I have to deliver” Jensen said to Jared. “Dean sometimes barks orders and takes a hard line with Sam. It can feel awkward to me because I like you Jared, and I would never speak that harshly to you if not in character.”

“I understand” replied Jared. “I know what you mean. I feel it a little too. There is an intimacy in the dialogue since we are playing brothers, yet we hardly know each other.”

“I’m sure we will move past this stage eventually. I just wanted you to know. Nothing personal.”

“Gotcha.” Jared replied.

 __

Jared loved the intimacy of the dialogue on set. He loved having a fake brother. Set could be lonely, and Jared got a built-in best friend in this job.  Off set, they had not gotten close yet, but they were constant companions during the long workday.

Jensen learned from the crew that Jared was an early bird, he arose from bed without hitting snooze. He would take his dogs out for a morning jog before the day began. Whereas, Jensen was grumpy in the morning and a sleepy head. He hated to leave his bed in the morning. Nonetheless, he was a disciplined professional, and arrived on set on time.

The network arranged for press to come to set to interview the male leads to create publicity for the show during the final month of filming. It was April, the last month of filming season one.

“Jensen, tell us a little-known fact about your costar” the reporter asked.

“Why does Jared sweat so much? That is what I want to know.”

Stung by Jensen’s question, Jared’s jaw dropped. His eyes widened in surprise and watered slightly. He fought back tears at the unflattering observation Jensen announced on national television.

When the reporter turned to ask Jared the same question, Jared was tongue tied.

“I want to know how many hours a day Jensen spends in front of the mirror practicing his model face.” Jared sucked in his cheeks and puckered his lips while gazing into the camera with sultry eyes in imitation of Jensen’s model face. This was the meanest thing Jared could think of to say. 

Thinking it hilarious, Jensen’s face lit up and his head tilted back. He released a hearty laugh.

Pain. Jared felt pain in his heart. His feelings were hurt. His coworker’s view of him was that he sweated a lot. That was harsh to hear. Jared had an affection for Jensen. He also respected Jensen, and looked up to him as an older, more experienced actor. Jared had a high opinion of Jensen, and concluded from Jensen’s remark that his high opinion was not reciprocated.

How could he offer that observation about me? Is that the only characteristic of me worth noting? Is that what stands out about me after 9 months of working together?

Jared replayed it in his mind. He felt humiliated and hurt. He ruminated and ruminated about it, causing him to feel badly about himself, and sending him into a mild depression.

---

The next morning, Jared called in sick to the set. Phil, the Director went to Jared’s trailer to check on him. He found Jared laying on his bed in his trailer brooding. 

"You sick?"

"No?"

"What’s the matter then?"

"I’m feeling down."

"You want to talk to someone? A professional?"

"Yes."

---

The psychologist, Dr. Cheryl Mack, visited Jared in his trailer. He related the interview to her.

“I want to know why he sweats so much was Jensen’s burning question about me after 9 months of working together. I feel hurt. I feel embarrassed. I like Jensen and care what he thinks of me. How could I have made that impression? That is not the impression I was hoping to leave on Jensen. Am I a joke? a freak? I’m super tall, and I sweat a lot. Maybe my physique comes across well on camera, but in real life I’m very skinny and freakishly tall. I’m not 100% comfortable with my body. I’m so embarrassed. I don’t feel lovable. I don’t feel like leaving my trailer.”

“Is your relationship with Jensen important to you?” asked Dr Mack.

"Yes"

"Important enough that you would rather work through a rough patch than walk away from it entirely?"

"Yes"

"Do you think Jensen knows how you feel about what he said?"

"No"

"Do you think Jensen would care if he knew your feelings were hurt by his disclosure?"

"Yes"

"Would you feel better if you worked out an understanding with Jensen about what personal information it is okay for you to share about each other with the national media?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you can have a conversation with Jensen about this?"

"It will be awkward and uncomfortable. But I think I can do it."

"Do you think he will incorporate the feedback and be more sensitive about his disclosures in the future?"

"Yes"

"Do you think he meant to hurt you?"

"No"

"Do you think he cares about you?"

"Yes"

"Why is Jensen’s opinion so important to you?"

"I love Jensen."

"You love Jensen."

"Yes, I love Jensen."

"So the man you love told the world you sweat a lot?"

"Yes"

"Tell me more about your feelings about Jensen."

“It really hurt my feelings. I took it as a dis-affirmation. I mean I love him. I have not told him in any words, but I definitely radiate love to him every day. There is no way I don’t because I feel it every minute, and I am so happy to be around him every minute. His statement about my sweating, I took it as a rejection of me, as if I confessed my feelings to him and he rejected me. That’s how I feel, rejected by Jensen.”

"Do you think saying “you sweat a lot” is equal to saying “I don’t love you?”

"No"

"Do you think saying “Jared sweats a lot” is equal to saying “Jared is not lovable?”

"No"

"Is it possible for someone who sweats a lot to be lovable?"

"I guess..."

"Do you even sweat a lot?"

"I’m always moving and sometimes we wear heavy costumes in the warm weather, and work under hot lights. Plus I'm a pretty big guy, I generate a lot of body heat."

"Do you think you can talk to wardrobe about that?"

"Yes"

"Okay good I think we are getting somewhere." 

"Anything else you want to get off your chest?"

"I’m gay."

"Does Jensen know?"

"I never told him. I’m not hiding it. I just don’t bring it up."

"How do you feel about coming out to Jensen?"

"I wouldn’t want him to feel awkward around me or pressured in his workplace.  I’m not embarrassed by it. We have not talked about dating and relationships so I just keep it to myself. It’s not like I’m hiding it, but I would rather wait until he brings up the subject."

"How do you feel about confessing your love to Jensen?"

"I feel like he is not going to return my affections, and I am going to be crushed when I hear the No. So I would rather put it off."

"Do you think if Jensen does not love you romantically that your world will go on?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you will fall in love with someone who loves you in return one day?"

"Yes"

"Do you think you’re lovable?"

"I guess so."

"Jared, First love yourself. Then you can love others. Feeling worthy is crucial to your happiness. That’s what we will work on next time.

"How about we do this once a week?" Dr Mack suggested.

"Yeah"

"OK see you next week. And I recommend you speak to someone once a week while you're on hiatus in Austin." 

"It's a deal. Thanks Dr. Mack"

"My pleasure Jared."

Chapter Text

Jared roused himself the next day and arrived at the makeup trailer at his 5 am call time. They filmed the second to last episode of season one over the next 8 days. Jared was very matter of fact all week.  He looked down a lot and said little between takes and scenes. The director noticed Jared was reserved, but his work did not suffer. His scenes were emotional, adding depth to Sam’s character.

After takes, Jared would walk off the set, sit in his cast chair and play Solitaire or Words with Friends on his phone, keeping to himself. By this time, Jensen was accustomed to Jared’s sociability, and could not help but notice that Jared was not socializing with him, and made little to no eye contact with him outside their scenes. Candidly, Jensen felt hurt. He knew there must be an issue, but he was clueless as to what it could be, however, he was resolved to get to the bottom of it.  

Jensen approached Jared as he was leaning against the Impala engaged with his phone, and stood in front of him, “You’re quiet this week.”

“You’re very observant” Jared replied, not so nicely without looking up.

“Is something the matter, Jared? Are you mad at me?”

“Maybe”

“Do you want to talk about it? I mean I won’t press you if you’re not comfortable. But I can tell something is bothering you. You’re not making eye contact with me unless we’re in a scene together.”

“You said I sweat a lot on national television.” Jared blurted out while looking directly into Jensen’s eyes. “It hurt my feelings, and I felt embarrassed.” Tears started streaming down Jared’s face on both sides, like waterworks.

“Oh God. I’m an idiot.” Jensen’s heart rose to his throat creating an aching lump. His mouth went dry. He couldn’t swallow. He looked into Jared’s face. It pained him to see Jared crying because of him. He took a deep breath “I’m sorry Jared. I was remiss. I should have used the opportunity to compliment you. I made a mistake, please forgive me.”

With all the crying Jensen felt inclined to hug Jared, but he didn’t think that would be manly. So he moved to stand next to Jared, and he put his right arm around Jared’s shoulders, and pulled him in.

This was an unexpectedly positive outcome! thought Jared. He has his arm around me!  

Jared mellowed immediately at the feel of Jensen's arm around him. They touched a lot on set, because of the scenes' choreography, but pretty rarely touched off set.

Jensen was immediately forgiven in Jared's mind and heart. That was never really in question. 

“I forgive you Jensen. What hurts is that I hoped you had a higher opinion of me.”

“Jared, I am so fortunate to be working with you. You’re so talented. You're so generous to me with your kindness and friendship.  Your enthusiasm lifts me up. I look forward to coming to the set every day. I smile when I see your face, and you know I’m not a big smiler!" Dean said trying to inject a little lightness and humor. "I’m so grateful for you, and I was wrong to say anything not consistent with that.” 

“I want you to like me,” Jared replied.

Another knife to the gut. Jensen’s eyes bulged open. He felt a rush of tears behind his own eyes, which he held back. It moved Jensen deeply that Jared was showing so much vulnerability to him. 

“You don’t think I like you? Oh my God, I am an idiot. It can’t be possible that I caused you to think I don’t like you. That is the opposite of how I feel. You’re like a best friend to me, Jared. I like you, a lot. I say so many great things about you all the time to all my friends and family. They tease me for talking about you so much. I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings Jared. It was the last thing in the world I would ever want to do. Seriously, I was an ass.”

Jared managed a little smile at that. After all it was kind of funny that Jensen called himself an ass, and he was genuinely sorry. 

"You talk about me to your family? What do you say about me?"

"I tell them about our experiences each day. How your pants split and you thought it was hilarious. All the times you crack me up on set and I have to control myself to stop laughing. How much you love eating candy! How tall you are. How good looking and photogenic you are. How great your hair is. What a fantastic actor you are and how you surprise me by your acting choices in a lot of scenes. How hard you work and how prepared you are. How smart and well read you are. How articulate and talkative you are."

Jared was definitely softening upon hearing all these compliments. And he was equally enjoying the fact that as Jensen spoke, he unconsciously rubbed Jared's upper arm with the hand attached to the arm he had wrapped around Jared's shoulders. Jared liked feeling the weight of Jensen's arm around him. He liked pretending that he was Jensen's, and that was why Jensen had his arm around him. He liked the coverage, the feeling of being protected by Jensen through this gesture. And also he liked the way his slack left arm was touching Jensen's side. I could stay right here forever, he thought.    

They stood together leaning on the Impala having their moment, Jared looked down, but hid a secret grin, tears dry.  Neither spoke for a while. They just leaned against the car silently. Jared’s breathing eventually evened out and started feeling better.

Jensen stayed by Jared's side with his arm around Jared as long as Jared needed him to. Jared was such and emotional creature. The words Jensen used to verbally affirm Jared him went a long way with Jared. But it was the physical love Jensen bestowed on Jared with his touch that enabled Jared to intuit that Jensen did sincerely care for him. 

"Want to head back to our trailers now?" Jared proposed, because if he stayed there any longer he risked laying his head on Jensen's shoulder and he was sure that would totally freak Jensen out. 

"Friends?" Jensen wanted confirmation. 

"Friends" Jared replied. 

They slowly walked back to their trailers.

"Well, Goodnight Jensen."

"Goodnight Jared. See you tomorrow."

"See you tomorrow." 

They retired to their own trailers.

Chapter Text

 

Jared’s testosterone caught up with his height during the hiatus between Seasons 1 and 2 in San Antonio, Texas.

He continued to see a therapist in Texas and they worked on Jared’s self-esteem. The mantra, “I’m in charge” worked for Jared. Instead of lamenting his hurt feelings or ruminating on his perceived flaws, Jared decided to take control of his internal dialogue. He replaced the negative self-talk with a new, self-affirming internal dialogue.

With the support of his brother Jeff, the doctor, a good therapist, a personal trainer, and a nutritionist, Jared put together a plan for physical fitness, mental health, and personal well-being.

“Empowerment starts in the muscles” according to Men’s Fitness Magazine, so Jared swapped some of his candy consumption for more protein like chicken, steak, fish, pork, nuts, peanut butter and protein shakes. He didn’t have to watch his carbs since he had a metabolism that burned calories like a furnace. He loaded up on sweet potatoes, brown rice, and other healthy carbs. He made sure to get enough fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables, as well as fats like avocado.

Jared hit the gym to work out with weights three days a week. He did yoga one day a week for flexibility. A long muscle is a strong muscle, his trainer said. On the other days Jared did 45 minutes of cardio plus abs.    

Over the hiatus, from March 23rd to July 23rd, Jared gained 30 pounds of pure muscle. His shoulders and back got huge, as did his arms and biceps. He gained definition all over. His legs beefed up, his quadriceps, hamstrings and calves were all well-defined, and his abs and butt turned to steel.

Jared’s self-esteem soared as his body felt stronger, bigger, and more attractive. He sauntered around happily. Resulting from his new nutritional program and frequent exercise, Jared felt energized. He loved the affirmation he got from onlookers when he went out. He got a lot of eyeball love. And he felt in the mood for love. The exercise was making him downright frisky. His personal trainer and doctor assured him that an increased sex drive was a common side effect, a very positive one, of a new exercise routine, improved health, and the healthy diet was also a contributor to those feelings.  

Jared was thankful to Dr. Mack for starting him off on the right foot in Vancouver. He communicated his progress to her during the hiatus, texting her photos of the new Jared with the caption “First love yourself.”

Jared relished shopping for a new sexy wardrobe consisting of tight V neck T-shirts that showed off his mountainous pectoral muscles, his bulging biceps, his nipples, and his flat as a board stomach. He liked soft colors like light grey, pale lilac, faded blue, sage green, and also navy and black for drama. These shades complimented his chestnut hair color, as everyone called it, brown with red undertones.

Deciding it was sexier, Jared let his hair grow in a bit and lost the bangs, too youthful and innocent, in favor of an edgier side part.  Remarkably, Jared was a bit of a late bloomer. At 22, he still had very boyish looks, but the extra weight and the new hairstyle helped him project an older, more masculine image.

Jared’s narrow waist drew the eye to his midsection. Sometimes his shirt rode up and onlookers could glimpse the flesh of his six pack abs. At times, if he was reaching overhead, or wearing a swimsuit, you could glimpse the V of his sculpted stomach that pointed downward toward his precious jewels. Yum.

Jared was a sight in his cowboy boots and denim jeans. He had a swagger like never before and he was workin’ it. He loved the newly found attention, and gave himself credit for the changes he made inside and out. He was lovin’ on himself and looking for someone to love on him.   

Meanwhile the show was renewed for Season 2. He received a text from Jensen with a huge thumbs up that exploded into fireworks when he tapped on it.

Jensen, oh Jensen, you don’t stand a chance of resisting me when I get back to Vancouver , Jared thought.  

He texted Jensen back a thumbs up emoji. He decided to go with understated. He was expanding his style. It was so much more alluring that way, he thought.

Jared missed Jensen but he thought it best to branch out. His infatuation with Jensen was unlikely to be requited. Jared was gay and Jensen was not. Jared like all humans, especially healthy 22-year-old males, needed love and physical affection, and sex! He knew he was sexy by all the looks he was getting, and he was heartily enjoying it. It was time to get a little love.

His therapist in Texas concurred that Jared should not put all his eggs in one basket pining away for Jensen, a man who was a known heterosexual. It could only benefit Jared to get more experience dating. Plus, sex could be healthy and fun as long as everyone was up front about their expectations.

Jared found that gay men tended to be transaction oriented, liked to have sex now, and get to know each other later, if ever. He learned that in the gay community, sex did not necessarily mean the person was looking for a relationship. Sometimes they were just filling urges, and seeking a physical release. Gay guys could be pretty slutty he found. Jared decided to try out his new body on the Texas population.

Jared, Taylor, and Dennis, his gay buddies from high school, (they were all in the closet in high school, but out to each other), planned to go to a gay bar in Austin called The Color Bar, a not so subtle reference to the rainbow flag. They were good at being wing men for each other, which they had been doing since high school.

Jared found there were plenty of places to meet gay men in Austin, but you had to be cruising basically all the time, in the park, in the bookstore, in the coffee shop, in the gym, in the department store. It would start with a look, as a person was wiping his brow of sweat for example, or looking up from his phone while waiting for his latte. Then eye contact would follow. If it was held for several seconds, that was the signal of interest. Then a guy had to approach the other on the spot to meet. That was the convention.

It was an hour and a half drive from San Antonio to Austin, so they planned to stay overnight at the Hilton downtown. After checking into their hotel, they got some dinner together at a hip restaurant in downtown Austin with a lively social scene. Then, they eagerly proceeded to The Color Bar.    

Jared was largely unrecognized among the gay 20 something demographic in Texas, which was helpful in keeping things less complicated at this stage of his career.

As handsome as Jared was, he didn’t even need a face since his 6’4” killer body seemed to be more than enough to attract ample attention in the bar. Of course, his smiling face with the deep dimples and shiny white teeth was the piece de resistance. He attracted suitors like honey attracted bees. He was swarmed, and enjoyed every glorious minute of it.

Jared dressed simply in blue jeans and a V neck t shirt that was somewhere between the color of grey and lilac. He had on a thick brown belt with a Texas belt buckle, and of course cowboy boots, which made him even taller. His chestnut hair, a little long just over his ears, shone, and he carried those white teeth and dimples around everywhere slaying everyone who looked in his direction.  

Leslie sat at the bar sipping his bourbon, and occasionally glanced at Jared and smiled flirtatiously. Leslie was a tad older, Jared would guess about 30, with fair skin and blue eyes, soft pretty features, and silky blond hair. His build was lean and muscular, 6 feet tall, athletic, narrow waist, solid, like a soccer player.

Leslie wore his hair parted on the side, and slightly long. Most people would cut it at his length, but he liked carrying that extra two inches.  It was sexy the way he kept moving it out of his eyes. His silky, blond hair was one of his prettiest features, messy and sexy.

Leslie had a great body, Jared noticed when Leslie got up to use the men’s room. He wore faded, light-wash blue jeans complimented by cowboy boots, and a sea blue t-shirt that brought out his blue eyes and blond hair.

Jared played pool with his buddies and some other guys who they met at the bar. When Jared bent over the table to make his shots, he prompted more than a few guys to check out his ass, which Jared was proud to display tonight. He was feelin’ the love.

A parade of men hit on Jared, crowding around him all night, buying him drinks, trying to get close to him, trying to touch him and proposition him.

Some guys were pretty forward, Jared laughed to himself, sex is pretty easy to get, he thought.

He knew the gay culture was pretty promiscuous but he wasn’t. He was up for some fun tonight but he wanted to avoid the sleaze factor. He wanted to meet someone more like him, not quite as young and inexperienced, maybe a little older and somewhat experienced, but not a slut.

Leslie sat at the bar on a stool. He had his share of suitors, but his eyes were locked on Jared. All night they exchanged glances across the room. When Jared’s eyes locked with Leslie’s and held them, it was on.

When Leslie finished his drink, he approached Jared who had the pool stick in his hand.

“Wanna get out of here?”

“Sure”

“Meet me out back in 5?”

“Okay”

Jared went out to the parking lot, and grinned when he saw Leslie sitting on a motorcycle in a black leather jacket, and holding an extra helmet in his hand.  

“Extra helmet?”

“I like to be prepared. Hop on”

“I’m here with friends. We are staying at the downtown Hilton just visiting for the weekend. We can go to my hotel.”

“Or you can come to my place.”

“Hmmm…”

“Tell you what, here’s my card…give it to your buddies. Tell them you’re going home with me. That should make you feel safe.”

“Okay. Be right back”

Jared took the card and went inside to give it to his buddies. He read it first:

Leslie King, Creative Director
King & Stone Digital Media
One Metro Plaza, Suite 1401
Austin, Texas
Tel. 512-819-6835
Email: Leslie@KingStoneDM.com


That should work Jared thought.

Taylor and Dennis were supportive. They took the card and wished Jared good luck. They were pursuing their own hook ups successfully. Jared would Uber back to the hotel presumably later or in the morning. He promised to text his friends to let them know he was safe if he stayed out all night.

The motorcycle ride through Austin at night was exhilarating. The city lights shined and twinkled. Jared enjoyed the hot night air blowing in his face. He loved the feeling of having his arms wrapped around Leslie’s waist, holding on during the ride. He allowed his chest to be flush with Leslie’s back the whole way. Jared never felt so alive. He hadn’t felt this excited in as long as he could remember. He was having fun!

Leslie pulled the bike into the garage at his downtown Loft. Jared got off first, allowing Leslie the space to dismount from the bike, and remove his helmet. Jared also removed his. Jared beamed a smile at Leslie.

“That was fun! Wow!”

 “I love the way you were holding me the whole ride home.” Leslie said and took his right hand and moved Jared’s hair behind his right ear. Jared got a shiver from Leslie’s fingers grazing on his neck.

“C’mon, Let’s go inside”

“Lead the way”

Leslie’s loft was super cool. It was tri-level and ultra-modern. It was an old canning factory that fell into disuse until it was bought by a real estate developer and converted into loft condominiums.

They entered through the garage to a lower level that housed a room, which Leslie used as a home office, with a spare bathroom.

They climbed a flight of stairs that seemed to be floating in midair. The handrail was polished chrome. The steps were light wood, open in between with no risers, and the railings were fabricated with steel cord.

Leslie switched on a light with a dimmer and turned on his wireless speaker playing café jazz music.

“What are you drinking?” Leslie asked as he walked over to a built-in wet bar.

”I’ll have what you’re having”

“That would be bourbon”

“Alright then”

The loft was open, there was really no separation between the rooms, but it was very spacious, modern and had a very cool vibe. There was exposed brick on the walls. And there were some industrial features like large exposed HVAC pipes high up near the ceiling, which had to be 17 feet high.

The wood floors gleamed. The kitchen, just beyond the living room was sleek and modern with grey high gloss cabinets, silver hardware, stainless steel appliances, and a black marble countertop.

Leslie decorated the walls with striking abstract art in bright colors, and covered the floors in lush area rugs in neutral shades for texture and warmth.

The sofa was mid-century modern in a deep blue tufted velvet, that was plush and generously sized.

The coffee table was a giant rectangle featuring steel legs and a white marble top. Leslie had good taste, and an excellent sense of style.

Leslie poured the golden-brown nectar into the rocks glasses and dropped in a glacial ice cube in each glass. It was an elegant touch. It melted slowly in the glass keeping the beverage ice cold and not diluting the drink.

“Have a seat” he pointed to the sofa.

They sat on the sofa in front of a fireplace.

“No need to turn that on tonight” said Jared, his heart beating fast with excitement.

“Yeah you’re all the heat I need tonight,” Leslie smiled, and placed a hand on Jared’s knee. To Jared, Leslie's hand felt like a sizzling hot iron. 

Jared smiled. His energy level went from a 7 to an 11 on a scale of 10 since Leslie's hand was on his upper leg.  

“So, Leslie, that’s an interesting name. Is there a story behind it?” With his index finger, Jared delicately stroked each finger of Leslie's hand that rested on Jared's leg. 

“It’s a somewhat common boy’s name in Scotland, Ireland and in the UK. It was my uncle’s name too, my mother’s brother. We’re Scottish, Irish and English. Why don’t you tell me about you……”

“…..Oh, Jared, my name is Jared.”

“Jared. You know my last name; I gave you my card,” Leslie smiled, teasing a little at Jared’s nervousness.

“Of course, Padelecki, I’m Jared Padelecki.”

“You’re very cute Jared Padelecki. It’s the dimples when you smile, the white teeth, the boyish charm.”

“Cute? That’s not the look I’m going for lately.”

“No? What are you going for?”

“Well I’ve been bulking up at the gym, I’m trying to lose the boyishness, to transform into man-ish-ness.”

“Ha” Leslie chuckled, “It’s ironic coming from a guy your size”

“I know. I have a youthfulness in my face and personality, but I’m working on my gravitas.”

“Oh, your gravitas" answered Leslie, kindly mocking Jared for his surprising vocabulary. "I prefer levity myself,” Leslie said grinning. “Sounds like there’s more to the story. Has someone told you that you lack gravitas?"

“No, I arrived at it on my own. I've been reflecting more these past few months and making changes in myself that are helping me to be more confident, to change my body in a way that supports my confidence and self love, and to move confidently in the direction of my goals and dreams."

"well it's definitely working, you are sounding quite serious at this moment." 

"Sorry, didn't mean to bring down the mood." Jared paused and changed topic. “So your card said you’re in digital media?”

“Don't be sorry. I appreciate your sharing. I know it's personal stuff." Leslie squeezed Jared's knee to show support. "Yes, I’m in digital media. I'm a partner in an agency. Been at this a while. We have the Nieman Marcus account, and others, mostly fashion. Keeps me busy. Pays some bills.”

“No kidding. This is a nice place you’ve got. Neiman Marcus, they’ve gotta have a pretty big ad budget.”

“They spend millions every year on digital media. I’m a creative director so I create content, video, photos, graphics, I’m the visual guy.”

“I can tell you have an eye for aesthetics from your beautiful home. You must be very talented at your job.”

“Thank you. And you Jared, I’m guessing  you’re a recent college grad?”

“No, I planned on going to college. I had good grades in high school, my Mom is a teacher, but I decided to pursue an acting career. So far, it has worked out. I’ve had steady work since high school.”

“Well Jared, with your stunning looks, you’re bound to be successful. You must be talented if you’ve worked steadily since high school. I imagine it’s pretty competitive to get acting jobs.”

“Thanks. Yeah, it’s nerve racking when I’m between jobs. It’s a pretty insecure feeling. Right now, I’m on a new series. We just finished filming the first season in Vancouver, and I'm on a three month break. We've been renewed for a 2nd season, so we are all thrilled."

"Can I watch it on TV now?"

"It aired from September to May. So usually they release the full season on DVD in September."

"So your job is in Vancouver?"

"Yes, it's on the WB network and they film most of their shows in Vancouver, Canada."

"And how are you liking that?"

"I like it. Vancouver is an awesome city, mountains, parks, sea, snow. I miss my family and friends. That's the downside, but in this business, I'm really happy to have a steady job."

"Not for the faint of heart, huh?"

"No, we work long days, 100 hour weeks. Watching the show is not for the faint of heart either. It's a sci-fi slash horror genre TV show. The main characters, 2 brothers, hunt supernatural phenomena, like ghosts and spirits, and kill them. It can get a little violent and gory, lots of blood."  

Leslie chuckled, "Two young, good-looking brothers, no doubt! That's exciting Jared."

Leslie looked in Jared’s eyes, and moved stray locks of hair behind Jared's ear, then outlined Jared’s ear with his finger, and traced his finger down Jared’s neck, along his clavicle bone, to his Adam’s apple, up to his chin and to his lips. He traced Jared’s lips, lower and upper with his finger.  

Jared, warmed by the touching and attention, took Leslie’s hand from his lips, and pulled him in.

Leslie met Jared’s lips, and they kissed gently. Jared closed his eyes and felt the sensation of Leslie's lips on his. The kiss was exhilarating. At once he felt his heart jump, his body warm, and his spirit ignite.

Jared reclined on the couch making room for Leslie to lay alongside him on the wide, luxurious sofa. They kissed and pecked at each other’s lips, staring into each other’s eyes, and smiling shyly.

Jared nosed Leslie’s neck, inhaling deeply, taking in Leslie’s subtle scent of designer cologne. He licked Leslie’s neck and nibbled, and worked his way to Leslie’s ear lobe, nibbling it, pulling it with his lips, sucking it, and breathing into Leslie’s ear.

“Ah”, Leslie shivered, “That feels good.”

He turned his lips to meet Jared’s and they kissed more deeply.

Leslie opened his mouth and met Jared’s open mouth, and their tongues met and explored each other’s mouths.

Leslie wanted to feel Jared’s body, unable to resist his arms. He rubbed his hands over Jared’s arms while they kissed, feeling Jared’s large biceps.   

Jared in turn, eagerly rubbed his hands over Leslie’s back and shoulders, and then put his hands under Leslie’s shirt, surveying Leslie’s back with his large, firm palms.

Leslie took it as permission to put his hand up Jared’s shirt, over his stomach, firm and taut, and onto his giant pectoral muscles. Finding his nipples, Leslie rubbed over them with open palms feeling the whole of Jared’s chest.

Laying side by side on the sofa, kissing passionately, feeling each other’s chest and back, it wasn’t long before their bodies were flush against each other. They found themselves pressing their hips together looking for contact.

“Jared” Leslie said breathlessly.

“Yes?"

“Would you like to go upstairs to the bedroom? You might be more comfortable?”

“Yes.”

 

Chapter Text

They climbed another flight to get to the loft’s bedroom. Leslie led Jared upstairs by his hand.

“Get comfortable Jared, take off your boots. I’m going to draw the shades.”

Downtown  Austin looked spectacular from the third story of Leslie’s loft. The lights of the city illuminated the night sky, and Jared felt a rush of excitement to be a part of it.

Leslie found the remote for the motorized window shades, and drew them for privacy.

Jared sat on a beautiful club chair in grey upholstery with a tufted back and wooden arms, very mid century modern, where he took off his boots and socks, smiling at the decor that was Leslie's designer bedroom. The walls were exposed brick. Leslie's bed sat on a black platform that seemed to be floating off the ground. The headboard was made of planks of distressed, plywood that looked like they was re-purposed from an old seaside home. It brought in an element of nature to the room. The sheets were grey. He used white, high-pile throw rugs, and white blankets, and black night tables and black accents pillows. 

"I like your bedroom, very Nieman Marcus"

"Thank you"

Leslie proceeded to turn on some soft, background music, and some dim, romantic lighting.  

“You like jazz” Jared noted by Leslie’s music selection.

"Love jazz"

Leslie sat on the edge of the bed removing his own boots and socks.

Jared approached the bed where Leslie was sitting and stood in front of him.

Leslie stood. “I’ve been dying to see what’s under this t-shirt all night,” and lifted Jared’s t-shirt over his head. Jared put his arms up  to help, revealing his massive upper body.

Leslie surveyed Jared’s chest and arms with his hands, and placed kisses on Jared’s huge shoulders.

“My God,” Leslie breathed “you are beautiful.”

“Thank you,” Jared whispered shyly, and feeling happily affirmed.

“My turn,” Jared said pulling off Leslie's t-shirt.

Jared took in the view of Leslie’s upper body. He was solid and lean without all the bulk. Jared polled Leslie's arms and chest with his hands, then moved them over Leslie's back, and pulling Leslie in toward him. 

They stood by the bed hungrily kissing, enjoying the touch of each others bare chest. As they kissed and felt each other's warmth, their breathing hastened, became shallow; their hands moved more urgently, cheating lower, down over each other's ass; and soon they were a tangle of heat, panting, arms and hands seeking.

Locked in a kiss, Jared took his open palm and rubbed it over Leslie’s bulge. Jared's other hand went to Leslie’s ass, and began squeezing his cheeks through his jeans.

Leslie continued investigating Jared's chest, biceps, back and shoulders. Upon Jared's touch to his manhood, Leslie's breathing quit and re-started. His knees weakened. 

Jared pushed Leslie onto his back on the bed, and climbed over him, lowering himself over Leslie's hips.  

Leslie rubbed his hand over the swell in Jared's jeans, prompting a deep moan from Jared; and Jared pressed himself hard into Leslie's open palm.

Jared pinned Leslie's wrists over his head on the bed, and ground his pelvis hard against Leslie's while scraping his teeth along Leslie's neck. 

Freeing his hands, Leslie unbuttoned Jared's jeans, unzipped his fly, and reached his hands down into Jared's boxer shorts, releasing Jared’s impressive cock from its constriction.  Jared helped Leslie push Jared's jeans and boxers down and off, and Jared willingly spread his knees apart, at Leslie's nudging so Leslie could easily access  Jared’s balls. Balls in one hand, cock in the other, Leslie smoothed his hand over Jared from top to bottom, relishing his size, his shape, his heat, his texture, his beauty. 

Jared moaned, and his body quaked at Leslie’s long awaited touch. He bucked his hips up into Leslie's grip. 

Leslie regarded Jared's face, body and phallus, finding him exquisite. 

Jared sucked at Leslie’s neck and jutted his hips forward into Leslie’s grip eagerly.

Jared reached down into Leslie's jeans and freed him grabbing his cock in his sizable hand. 

"Pull these down," he told Leslie, helping him pull off his jeans and boxers. 

Jared pushed apart Leslie's knees so he could have better access to Leslie's cock so he could pump it. 

"Lube" Leslie said reaching for the nightstand.

He poured some into his palm, and returned his two handed grip to Jared’s beautiful, long, hard cock, and pumped his closed hands up and down over Jared’s comely length, celebrating his head with each and every stroke. Leslie squeezed some lube onto his own cock that Jared was gripping since Jared was too dreamily distracted to take the bottle.

As they pumped each other’s lubed cocks, they fell into a simultaneous rhythm. Leslie mirrored Jared’s pressure and speed interpreting Jared's movements as a proxy for what Jared desired from Leslie.

Jared bucked his hips hard into Leslie’s hands, once, twice, three times, and then his body seized, and he emitted a labored cry. Jared looked so hot when he climaxed, and sounded even hotter. 

Leslie took his fist and pumped himself hard to his own release, shooting cum into the air, onto Jared, on both their chests and stomachs.

Leslie lay stomach to stomach with Jared, their sticky cum coating their stomachs, their chests heaving up and down from the exertion, and they lay there until their breaths became even, and fell asleep.

_____

A few hours later, Leslie was awakened by a very horny Jared, grinding against him, and kissing his shoulder.

"Jared?" Leslie asked groggily but sweetly.

"Leslie," Jared climbed on top of him and began kissing him and grinding against his leg.

"I cant sleep next to you if your naked and I'm naked. It's too exciting. It's been so long for me," he said as he aggressively kissed Leslie's neck and ear. 

Leslie was surprised at Jared’s appetite, and attributed it to his extreme youth, hormones, and level of physical fitness. There wasn’t really a question, Leslie observed, Jared was intent. I guess we're doing this.

"Okay baby," Leslie responded nurturingly. "Kneel facing me"

Jared did.

Leslie knelt facing Jared, their cocks touching.

Leslie picked up the lube and squeezed some into his hand and then circled his hand around Jared's aroused member. 

"Uuuhhh" Jared exhaled in happy torment as Leslie touched him. 

"How about I join our cocks together like this?" Leslie spoke breathily into Jared's ear and licked his neck and he gripped both cocks within his lubed hands, and began stroking them.

Jared placed his hands on Leslie's shoulders for support, and tilted his head back indulgently while Leslie powered away stroking and pumping their cocks, slippery with lube. 

While Jared was transported by physical pleasure, Leslie moved one hand to stimulate Jared by playing with his balls, and used his mouth to suck on Jared’s nipples. 

"Oh yeah, oh yeah, just like that" Jared rocked his hips up to meet Leslie's down strokes. 

Leslie knew to continue just as he was doing but just added the slightest increase in speed and pressure. The stimulation was almost too much for Jared to bear. Jared clutched his hefty hand around both their cocks, over Leslie's hand and powerfully yanked, and pressed, building a fury of desire until a final, "Oh yeah" spilled from Jared’s mouth. His head fell back, untethered, and cum shot from his cock. Jared shuddered, and Leslie found his release seconds later brought over the edge by the sight and sound of Jared cumming.

They lay next to each other, Leslie spooning Jared, a light sheet over them, and they fell back into slumber. 

___

Leslie awoke in the morning, and grinned as he gazed down at Jared sleeping like a baby, more like comatose. Oh youth, he thought. Leslie was used to getting up early. May as well make breakfast.

Jared joined Leslie in the kitchen about a half an hour later, and was greeted with homemade buttered biscuits - it was Texas after all - dark brewed coffee, and fresh OJ. 

"I was about to scramble some eggs, you game?" offered Leslie.

"Damn right! I’m starving." 

"Should be after your workout last night." Leslie commented smiling. 

Jared blushed, grinning widely, eating a biscuit. 

They ate their breakfast. Jared was talkative, relaxed, smiling. Leslie was feeling good too, happy. He noted he should make Jared a larger portion next time. 

After breakfast, Leslie stood by Jared and ran his fingers through Jared's lush hair, held him by the nape of his neck, and kissed him.

"Shower?" Leslie suggested.

"Definitely!"

Of course, Leslie, a gay art director, had a great shower, Jared observed. 

More than large enough for 2 men their size, it featured a huge rainfall shower head, and three shower heads on the wall propelling streams of water on them, plus a handheld shower head. 

The rainfall shower head soaked Jared’s long hair, and he pushed it off his face as Leslie drenched himself under multiple streaming jets.

Leslie met Jared’s mouth in a kiss. His  slick, soapy hands traveled down Jared’s muscular back, and down to his ass cheeks, gripping them, and squeezing them while nuzzling Jared's neck, and sucking on his skin.

Jared's hands firmly caressed Leslie's back, moving urgently down to his ass, and gripped it hard.

Their breaths were fast and urgent. Jared squeezed Leslie in a passionate hug, then turned him around swiftly, and leaned Leslie against the tile wall. Jared grabbed his own dick with his soapy hand, and stroked it a few times, getting himself super hard. He slid himself between  Leslie’s butt cheeks, not penetrating him, just sliding his cock up and down the cleavage of Leslie’s ass.

He soaped Leslie's crack, and tickled and held Leslie's ball sack. He kept gently sliding his cock up and down Leslie's butt crack, which Leslie really seemed to be enjoying judging by the fact that he was leaning all his weight against the tile wall, resting his head on his fore arm, his legs spread wide for Jared. 

Jared stood behind Leslie, his chest against Leslie's back, and reaching around he stroked Leslie's cock using his right hand, lightly and loosely to start. Leslie melted like butter into Jared’s slick hand. His legs weakened, causing him to lean further against the tile wall for support.

Leslie turned to face Jared, his arms around Jared's neck. 

Jared leaned Leslie's back against the tile wall. He stimulated Leslie's balls with a soapy left hand, and worked Leslie’s cock with his massive right hand, arm muscles straining. He moved his left hand from Leslie's balls, to Leslie's ass. He began stroking Leslie's beautiful crack with his soapy finger. When he slipped his middle finger up Leslie’s hole, Leslie came in Jared’s hand, fell forward onto Jared's chest, his heart beating hard, his breath releasing a loud clamor, his chest heaving for air.

He sucked on Jared’s mouth as if for oxygen, his body weight leaning onto Jared; and Jared finished himself off coming on Leslie’s stomach, as the warm water washed over them, washing their hot, white cum down their trembling bodies.

They stood for a few moments holding each other up, and shared some tender kisses, both out of breath from their violent orgasms, until they were ready to get out of the shower and dry off.

"Can we just lay together for a while?" Jared asked.

It was Sunday, and they did just have shower sex, so a little basking in afterglow seemed appropriate. 

Jared dozed off for an hour holding Leslie tightly.

Leslie was in and out of sleep, stroking Jared's hair affectionately. 
______________

Jared and Leslie kissed sweetly when Leslie dropped off Jared at the downtown Hilton. Taylor and Dennis were waiting at the hotel to drive back to San Antonio with Jared. Jared gave Leslie his contact info. Jared didn’t want to wait a whole week to see Leslie again, so they agreed to go out to dinner Wednesday night in Austin. Jared would drive in from San Antonio in his own vehicle, and bring an overnight bag so he could stay as long as they liked.  

Chapter Text

"How would you describe him?" Leslie’s two friends, David and Jordan asked at lunch on Monday.

"Jared is absolutely splendid" Leslie replied.  

"We want details", said Jordan.

"Don’t be crass."

"We’re gay remember? It’s our job, to be crass. Now spill," said David.

"Well he’s young and sweet, but also, very, uh well, he’s 6’4”, so young but kind of giant."

"Ooh girl is he giant everywhere?" Jordan asked.

"You’re a pig and I'm not going to answer that."

"Okay well give us something," David pleaded. 

"Well okay, but I'm not describing his exquisite body, but I will tell you about his personality and how I experienced him."

"Okay bitch, and a little bit about the sex," added Jordan.

"We fooled around, but we did not have full on sex, so get your head out of the gutter."

"Oh so tell us about his personality…yawn," said David.

"Jared has a gigantic persona. He is more than a serving; he’s a full course meal."

"Ooh honey," injected Jordan.

"Don’t interrupt this is getting good," added David.

"He’s like a fucking planet. He’s like uncorking a bottle of champagne. He’s all life force. He’s fucking irresistible."

"My God!" David opined while chomping on a carrot stick.

"Wow! Bring me a fan," Jordan fake fanned himself with his napkin.

 __________

 

"So Jared, how are you feeling this week?"

"Awesome Dr. Howell."

"Awesome! That’s great to hear Jared! You look fantastic. So tell me what has got you feeling awesome?"

"I met someone!"

"Ah, do tell!"

"Well, we kinda picked each other up at a gay bar in Austin."

"Go on"

"Well I went with my gay buddies from high school. You know, we’re each other’s wing men. And I was really enjoying myself, playing pool and getting hit on all night. It was very affirming!"

"Go on…."

"And this guy was sitting at the bar, and you know we did the eyeball thing, looking over at each other all night, and then we locked eyes, we went home together to his place."

"I don’t have to give you a safety lecture do I Jared?"

"No, he gave me his card. I gave it to my buddies, I was specifically looking for someone a little more respectable, no bad boys. And my instincts were right because it turned out he owns his own digital media company with a partner, and their big client is Nieman Marcus. So, he’s your basic respectable citizen."

"Successful even," added Dr. H.

"Yeah and he’s hot."

"Oh hot to boot!" 

"Yeah, he has an athletic build like a soccer player, not a football player, you know, leaner, lighter. He has blond hair and blue eyes, and his name is Leslie."

"Leslie"

"Yeah, it’s Scottish."

"Well Jared this is exciting news."

"Yeah, and he’s 30, so a little older and more mature, and more experienced than I am, but I like it. And he’s nice. You know, he’s not an alpha. He’s considerate."

"Well that’s really good to hear Jared. Do you plan to see him again?"

"Yes. I’m going to Austin to meet him for dinner at a restaurant on Wednesday night. Gonna pack my overnight bag."

"Okay, so you two have been intimate?"

"Well, we have shared some intimacy, touching, but we didn’t have intercourse, or even oral, we just kept it to touching, but it was pretty hot."

"Hot is good! And this Wednesday, have you thought about what you want to do from a physical standpoint?"

"I want to take it further. I like him, he is sexy, he is tuned in to my preference to take it slowly, he was letting me set the pace. I mean I’m 22, he’s 30. He was sensitive to that, not exploiting me only for his pleasure."

"Sounds good so far. Please practice safe sex Jared."

"We will use condoms. I want to do more with him. I feel safe with him. I want to take it further."

"Okay. Let’s talk about it a little more. Have you thought about how your job in Canada might affect the relationship?"

"I just want to have fun. It’s summer. I feel great. I’m happy with my body. I’m not in my room alone at night pining away for Jensen Ackles and feeling depressed."

"Yes, you are looking good, feeling good, and enjoying Leslie’s companionship. Have you told Leslie you go back to Canada on July 23?"

"Yes, I told him. I will get to be with him for my birthday July 19th. I’m looking forward to that."

"And Canada, what does Leslie have to say about that?"

"Nothing really. I told him my love language was verbal affirmation, and he told me his was quality time, so there's that. But it’s too soon to even discuss it. I just want to have fun. I’m so tired of responsibility."

"Fun is good to have Jared, important to have fun. Yeah, the quality time thing could be a challenge with you living in Canada. I would like to discuss you being a gay man and having fun in public in Austin."

"Why?"

"Jared, you chose me in part because I am a gay therapist. My job is to prepare you. I want it to be your decision when you come out. By discussing this we can avoid any inadvertent reckless behavior that might get us outed by a third party."

"By us you mean me. Leslie is not going to out me and I am not being reckless."

"You are not being reckless, of course not. I didn’t say you were. I'm only saying if you dine out in Austin, have a few drinks, hold hands, then all of a sudden, a fan is there with a cell phone, and next thing you know you're on TMZ!"

"Well I’m definitely not ready to come out because of my acting career. I play hetero. Hollywood wants hetero leading men."

"So how do you feel about living as a hetero male?"

"I mean, I’m repressing my sexuality, and hiding who I am."

"Yes, you are"

"This conversation is a downer. Why do we have to go through this now? Why are you tormenting me by bringing this up today?"

"I know, I'm sorry Jared. What's the saying you young people are using? Sorry not sorry! That's it! It's not that I don't have compassion for you Jared. However, this is the place where we face our problems so that when we are doing life, we don’t fall into the ditch. It’s called preparing. Plus you're paying me. This is where we workout, like at the gym, but our mental health muscles."

Jared grimaced.

"The day you missed shooting on set. You were sad, down. Tell me again why."

"Jensen said I sweat a lot to a TV reporter, and it hurt my feelings."

"Right, I recall. Is there another layer possibly?"

"You mean I’m gay and hot for him, and he doesn’t know my secret, so I got depressed."

"Precisely. Tell me, why were you keeping this secret?"

"From Hollywood?"

"No, I know why you’re keeping it secret from Hollywood. Why from Jensen?"

"Fear of rejection?"

"Yes, along those lines, any other reason you can think of? Maybe the same reason you kept it from people you loved who were closer to you, like your Father?"

"You mean embarrassment?"

"Another word, more internal, stronger."

"Because I felt ashamed?"

"Precisely. And when we feel shame, we feel unlovable."

"Unlovable. Okay now I feel like there's a dresser on my chest."

"Have you experienced feeling shame and unlovable?"

"Fucking Yes, Dammit! I'm so fucking mad right now!" Jared stood up and paced a lap around the couch.

"Tell me more" 

"Yes, I have experienced shame and feeling unlovable." Jared clenched his fists and looked up to the heavens. "It has been a problem, my main problem, depression stemming from feelings of being unlovable. Feeling like I disappointed my parents. Feeling like my peers in high school rejected me. Depression from feeling lonely and unloved. Needing to take medication for depression." 

"We are making progress Jared. We are getting to the root of the problem Jared. Let’s define the problem so we can do some analysis and improve the situation.  These are the steps. I am taking you through them. Stick with me." 

"Okay, my problem is that I'm gay; I'm hiding it; I'm in love with my straight co-star. So what, am I doomed to be depressed?"

"No, you're not doomed to be depressed if you share your secrets.  What happens when we hide ourselves from our loved ones?"

"What?"

"We are as sick as our secrets. We tell the secret, we release the shame. We can feel lovable. We can receive love."

"I’m not following. You said I don’t have to tell the world my sexuality."

"That is correct. Let’s consider the people you love. Take Jensen. If Jensen is straight, and you could never have a romance with him, what are our possible scenarios?"

"Well one is status quo." Jared answered. "I keep my sexuality hidden, suppress myself, keep my secret, feel ashamed and unloved and become depressed on set." 

"And how's that been working for ya?" asked the Doc.  

"Obviously it's not an option."

"Okay Jared give me an alternate scenario."

"I tell Jensen that I’m gay. By sharing my secret, I release my shame, and can now feel lovable. And then Jensen loves me back, said Jared." 

"Brilliant and close. You get liberated by releasing the secret with the shame. You get the benefit of being able to receive love."

"Yeah, and what does Jensen do?"

"Ah well, there’s the rub?"

"What’s the fucking rub Shakespeare? Why does there have to be a rub?" Jared asked petulantly. 

"We cannot control others, we can only control ourselves. You tell me, how could Jensen respond?"

"Well he could say me too, I’m gay and I'm hot for you, and we could live happily ever after."

"Is that likely? asked Dr. H.

"He could say I'm not gay, but I like you and want to be friends with you. That's likely, I think" Jared offered. 

"And any other scenarios?" asked Dr Howell. 

"He could say you’re a fucking freak, and I'm a homophobe. Stay far away from me!"

"You pretty much nailed the possible scenarios," Dr Howell told Jared. 

"I didn’t want to work this hard today. I did not want to go there," Jared complained.

"Jared, the work we are doing here is important. You are gaining the tools you need to navigate life more successfully. Bear with me another minute."

"There's more? What now?"

"About Jensen and you"

"What?"

"You say you love Jensen."

"Yeah"

 "I experience you as a big-hearted person, and a pretty nice guy."

"Thanks," Jared answered grimly. 

"Well I’m thinking, if you like Jensen he must be a pretty nice guy too."

"He’s a great guy. He’s caring. It's just that he might be a bit homophobic. I mean he was raised in Texas."

"So it’s risky."

"A little risky," Jared replied.

"A risk worth taking?"

"I think so."

"Why do you say that?"

"I think Jensen cares about me, to the point that even if he is homophobic, maybe he would still be willing to have me as a friend. I mean, in all honesty, he’s already gotten to know me and like me."

"Well that’s perfect Jared. I like to hear your reasoning. You will risk your heart, which is what we do when we are in love. But you are taking a calculated risk. And you have good judgement."

"Thanks," Jared said but feeling dejected and deflated from when he arrived in the office.

"I don’t like to say I'm proud of you Jared because it sounds condescending. But I will say I'm proud ON you. It means I confer pride on you. I hope you feel deserving of it, and confer it on yourself. You did some hard, great work here today. And remember what I always say,

“hard work pays off” they said aloud at the same time.

Jared chuckled. "What about Leslie?"

"What about him?" asked the doc. 

"What am I supposed to do about him? We talked about Jensen most of the session."

"Well you’re going to go out and have fun with Leslie just as you planned. But be aware of whether you can grow to have real love with Leslie, or if he is a band-aid. I hope it is the former. You also have the long-distance relationship thing to deal with. But it’s still a good thing. Experiencing love and safe sex with Leslie, trying out a new relationship, going out on a limb for love for Leslie, for Jensen, for safe people, who care about our feelings, people you can express your emotions with safely, that is what makes life worth living. Heartbreak is real Jared. But it's bittersweet. Not all bitter. It’s beautiful in its own way."

"See you next week, Jared?"

"Yeah, yeah…I don’t always like these session, but I know they help me, a lot, and I appreciate it."

"You’re welcome Jared. I'm proud ON you. You’re doing great. Keep up the good work!" 

 _____

"Hey Jeff" Jared greeted his brother, and took a seat in the booth across from him at Benjamin's Steakhouse. 

"Hey Jared"

"Thanks for meeting me for dinner."

"Of course, I love having you around bro. I wish I could have you all year round. The kids love having you home. And so do I"

"I saw my gay therapist today," Jared shared as he buttered himself a dinner roll. 

"Yeah how did it go?"

"Well kinda brutal. We talked about having secrets, like being gay, and being as sick as your secrets because you’re ashamed. But by telling your secrets, you can begin to feel lovable. Whereas, if you feel shame you don’t feel lovable, and you can't receive love from others. It was all pretty heavy, and all the stuff I struggle with."

"Sounds like you talked about some big issues there. Was there a resolution? Or did you just stir a lot of stuff up?"

"We stirred the shit basically."

"But did you discuss this all in the abstract?" asked Jeff.

"What do you mean? I'm not following," replied Jared.

"Well, I mean surely we don’t have to broadcast our secrets. What was the context? Is there someone you want to be out to, to receive love from, and you are hindered because you're keeping your sexuality a secret?"

"I mean... I guess... well kinda...." Jared hemmed.

"…..avoiding much?"

"Well I met a guy, and went into therapy really gung-ho and pumped up, but Dr. H saw through it. He saw I was happy, but in a temporal way."

"So????and???"

"So, and, well, Jensen....." Jared paused.

"Jensen….Ackles? Jeff inquired.

"Yeah Ackles"

"What about Jensen Ackles?"

"Well I'm kinda, sorta, well you know, in love with him." Jared released a deep breath and looked down at the table, unable to look Jeff in the eyes. 

Boom, yikes geez, Jeff thought to himself, eyes widened. "Any chance he’s keeping the same secret?" Jeff asked.

"Nah."

"I mean so what is the therapist proposing? A witch’s spell, eye of newt, leg of frog?"

"No, of course not. He says that in a scenario where I keep my sexuality a secret, I risk my self-esteem and mental health, because I carry the shame, and the feelings of being unlovable. But if I share my secret with Jensen, I can likely receive human love, brotherly love, platonic love from Jensen, true acceptance, and it won’t be harmful to my mental health."

"Well it’s a lot to think about Jared."

"Yeah, good thing I don’t have to decide today."

"Good thing. You can take your time and reflect on it."

"It's good advice in general. I’m glad I learned about it today. Essentially, not to keep secrets from the people you love and want to receive love from."

"You know I love ya to pieces Jared"

"I know. I love you too. I'm so lucky to have you as my brother."

"Thank you Jared. How about we order some steaks now? I’m starving."

"Good idea, I'm hungry too."