When Jensen’s mom was eleven years old, she watched her grandmother die of a heart attack right before her eyes.
Every time his mom told the story, she described it the same way: It was like the entire world shattered around me.
His father had a similar story, only his involved seeing a fellow soldier and friend bleed to death in combat. He explained it the same way: it was like the whole universe collapsed.
So many people Jensen has met, young and old, have told him their own “the world caved in'' stories. They all described what it felt like to watch a loved one in peril. How they were absolutely devastated or altogether numb. Like nothing else existed in the whole wide world but them and the person they adored.
Jensen didn’t have a story. He didn’t understand what it felt like to feel the whole world shatter around you. He sympathized with those that did, but could not imagine the feeling for himself. I guess you could say he lived a pretty damn fortune life.
However, because of all of those stories he heard… he was always afraid. He was constantly worried that the people he loved would be hurt, or worse. He lived in fear that one day he would have to feel the universe collapse.
It got better when he went to college.
He was away from his family and closest friends so he knew (albeit selfishly) that even if something were to happen to them, he wouldn’t have to bear witness to it. He felt like the space gave him room to breathe. He could focus on himself and his studies and not constantly worry about seeing his loved ones hurt.
And then it got a whole lot worse.
It got a whole lot worse because of freshman biology. Specifically, it got a whole lot worse because of the gorgeous, dimpled, silky-haired, kind boy that sat next to him in freshman biology. On the first day, he introduced himself as Jared Padalecki, and Jensen’s world flipped upside down. They laughed about their shared grievances over having peculiar last names. They joked around, chatted idly, and studied together for two weeks before Jensen finally worked up the nerve to ask him out on a date. Jared said yes with the biggest smile Jensen’s ever seen. He swore that smile could end wars.
They spent the day outside walking around the campus pond and then put a blanket down and had a picnic on the grass. They ate chocolate covered strawberries and drank sparkling water.
Jared asked him out the second time, and Jensen agreed like it was as natural as breathing. They just hung out in Jared’s dorm, watched a movie, and ordered pizza. That night they had their first kiss. It started slow and sweet, and then got more heated as hands roamed. Jensen ended up lying on top of Jared, running his hands down his biceps as Jared squeezed his hips and thighs. Their breaths became uneven and sweat started to gather. It was the best kiss Jensen had ever had. It was so intimate and fueled by real, genuine emotion. He wanted Jared to feel good. He wanted to be close to him. They broke off before it could go any farther, eyes dilated and lips swollen.
Their third, fourth, and fifth dates were just as amazing. Every second Jensen spent with Jared, he felt his adoration for the boy growing more. He was sweet, and funny, and hot. Everything Jensen wanted in a partner.
Their first time was something Jensen would never forget. Jared on top of him, kissing and sucking at his neck like it was an ice cream cone as he sunk down. His whole body naked and glistening with sweat as he bobbed up and down, head thrown back, lips parted, and eyes fluttering shut. His chest was heaving as he moved, and Jensen could barely keep his own eyes open with how fucking incredible it felt. They lasted barely ten minutes, but it was the best ten minutes of Jensen’s life.
They kissed, and cuddled, and fucked. They studied, and went on dates, and introduced one another to their friends.
About three months after they first met, Jensen finally asked Jared to be his boyfriend. They were walking around the same campus pond as they did on their first date. Jared grabbed him by the collar and kissed the living daylights out of him as he grinned and told him, “Yes!”
Two months later, they were having a quiet dinner in Jensen’s dorm and there was a gorgeous sunset outside. That night, Jared told him he loved him.
Jensen immediately started crying and Jared ended up spending the whole night holding him close and rocking him. Jensen was ruined because he knew that he loved Jared back. Hell, he knew he loved Jared the first time they kissed. But that terrified him.
All those things his parents had said about their world shattering when they lost someone they loved… Jensen finally understood the risk. Losing Jared would kill him. He loved him so fucking much and the idea of anything happening to him was paralyzing.
See, his boyfriend was a stud athlete at their school. He was the D1 hockey team’s alternate captain as a freshman. Jared was an absolute force to be reckoned with on the ice. He was speedy, and skillful, and nifty. He was second in the league in points and tied for first in goals. He was damn good. He skated around players like nobody’s business and won faceoffs like he was getting paid for it. His coach had already talked to him about the upcoming NHL draft and his chances of getting picked by a team in at least the fifth round. He was incredible and Jensen couldn’t be prouder or love him any more. That’s why he was spending all of his Saturday nights sitting in freezing cold hockey rinks.
Still… Jensen worried. No matter how ridiculous it may seem, Jared’s size made him nervous. He was six four even without the skates on, but he was skinny. He had muscles, absolutely, but he wasn’t built like a lot of the other guys. He was still lanky and growing into his body. He didn’t have Chris Hemsworth biceps or massive legs. Watching the way other players hit and tossed guys around always put Jensen on edge. Hockey was a fast paced sport, and anything could happen.
Jared was his entire world and the idea of anything bad happening to him terrified Jensen to his very core. Jared always assured him it would be fine and that he could handle himself. “One of the first things they teach you is how to protect yourself,” he’d argue, “I know how to avoid hits.”
And it was true. Jensen had seen it many times. Jared may not be very big, but he was fast and smart. He could dodge hits easily and skillfully without ever throwing himself off. It’s part of what made him so good.
But that didn’t stop the worrying. Especially after he accidentally stumbled upon a video of an NHL goalie getting his throat slit open with a skate and gushing blood all over the ice. Jared and his sister, Megan, had to spend over two hours talking Jensen down from the panic attack he had after seeing that .
“Jensen, I’m more likely to die driving to work than in one of my games.”
“That doesn’t help!”
The more Jensen watched Jared play, the less nervous he got about it. He could see how intelligent his boyfriend was on the ice and had seen him avoid hits on a near-periodly basis. He was still scared, but he thought it was at a reasonable level, now.
Still, when Jared got into a fight on the ice with some asshole that had been mouthing him off all night and came home with a black eye, Jensen was a mess. He held Jared for hours, just affirming that he was actually there in his arms.
“It’s just a black eye, babe.” He told Jensen, “It’ll heal.”
“I don’t like you getting into fights.” Jensen mumbled, “I don’t want some asshole punching you.”
Jared leaned back and sighed, “I know. But it’s just part of the game. I don’t get into fights very often, but this asshole was making slurs and I couldn’t hold back any more. At least I won.”
Jensen smiled a little as he looked up to see Jared’s eye, “Of course you won. But, I don’t want anybody else beating up on my boyfriend. You’re too damn pretty to have a black eye.”
Jared laughed and then they had sex before going to bed.
It was so good. Life with Jared was so good. They were barely adults and Jensen could already see himself marrying this man. This amazing, funny, talented man.
So every time Jared took a hit, fell down, or blocked a shot… Jensen’s heart seized. Everytime he came to Jensen’s apartment with a new bruise, he had difficulty breathing.
And yet still, his world had never stopped turning around him.