“I’m gay,” Jensen announces, green eyes blazing pure unadulterated challenge . His stance looks rather like he’s about to start throwing punches.
So this is the guy Jared is gonna be working with for the foreseeable future. “Okay,” he says, a little bit taken aback. “That’s- okay.” Then he leaves, because he needs to make sure his babies are fed and wakes before he goes out for drinks with Sandy and tells her that he is, as of now, employed again.
He didn’t have a problem with Jensen being gay, he thought to himself as he measured out dog food. He may be from Texas, he may have been born and baptized a God-fearing Christian boy, but that didn’t mean he was prejudiced against the gays. His momma had raised him better than that.
It was just, he’d never met anyone who wasn’t straight before.
At least, he didn’t think he had, although he got some strange vibes from Chad.
He took a brief moment to consider Jensen having sex with Chad, then had to stop because he was getting pissed off, which was interesting.
“Sandy,” he complained as she stifled a laugh with a vodka shot. “I’m serious! I have repressed homophobia!”
“Oh my God ,” Sandy wheezed. “I’m pretty sure thinking about Chad sex will make anyone have that reaction.”
Jared lightly thwapped her arm. “I need your help, asshole! I don’t want my costar to think I hate him for being, y’know. That.”
“Fine,” she conceded, still giggling. “God knows you need the help.”
At an ungodly hour the next morning, Jared found himself in wardrobe with three very preppy ladies and a grumpy, tousled Jensen who was mainlining coffee like he’d die without it. Jensen’s hair was sticking up, and Jared sort of wanted to pet it. He tried not to examine that too closely. “You look like a porcupine,” he said instead, because he was an idiot and also exhausted.
Jensen grunted, moving quickly out of the way of Jared’s waving arms.
One of the ladies handed Jared a pile of clothing. “Okay,” she told him brightly. “Go ahead and slip that on, and we’ll see how Sam Winchester looks.”
Jared surveyed the room. There were four other people in it, which was four people more than he was used to stripping down in front of. “Is there, uh, someplace I can change? I’m not really comfortable doing it in front of…” he trailed off, flapping a hand around and trying to convey the whole ‘four people here I don’t know’ thing.
“Of course,” she placated, shooting a sympathetic glance at Jensen for whatever reason before she led him to a small cubicle with a cloth doorway behind an impressive rack of plaid shirts.
Once Jared was arrayed in full Sam, he exited the cubicle to find a shirtless Jensen being cooed over by one of the women. She was dabbing makeup onto his collarbone. “Just in case,” she was saying.
Jared squinted. That was definitely a hickey at the base of Jensen’s neck she was covering up, which meant that someone had been sucking on Jensen’s neck.
And that someone was most likely a guy.
Jensen was getting hickeys covered up that had been out there by a guy.
That caused some type of feeling to flare up and catch in Jared’s throat and he coughed, hastily averting his eyes and rushing out of the place to find where he needed to be.
Jensen was supposed to be on set, filming his first scene alongside his onscreen brother, who appeared to be bribing one of the grips with gummy worms procured from Sam Winchester’s pocket.
Jensen was not on set. He was hiding just off set, because Jensen had a problem, and when Jensen had a problem, he called Danneel.
“Danni,” he hissed into the phone as soon as she picked up. “I can’t do this.”
“Whoa, babe,” she soothed, knowing exactly how to calm him down. “Tell me about it?”
“Jared.” Jensen blew out a breath and kicked the ground, pouting as the mention of his costar’s name triggered an onslaught of emotions.
“What about him?” Danni asked. “Is he cute?”
Jensen sighed louder. “No, that’s not- yes, okay, yes he’s cute. That’s not the problem.”
Danneel was instantly alert. “Ooh, do I need to kick some ass? Because babe, I will totally kick some ass for you.”
Jensen stifled a chuckle. “Don’t think so. I. Uh. May have told him I was gay.”
The line was silent.
“Danni? Did you hear me?”
“Yeah,” she said, uncharacteristically serious. “I heard you, Jen. But… are you sure that was the right decision? You don’t know him, not really, and, no offense, but you’re practically a citizen of Narnia with how closeted you are.”
That was true. Danneel only knew about it because they’d tried to date before realizing they were both gay in the wrong directions. “That’s the problem,” Jensen admitted. “I don’t know him. I just thought it was better to tell him up front, but now he’s acting weird.” He tried very hard not to think about how much that hurt.
“Weird how,” she asked, voice getting that deadly calm that he knew meant heads would roll.
“I said it and he left immediately. And then I googled him, and he’s this red-blooded Christian Texas dude, and everything about him kinda screams toxic masculinity. Even the gummy worms. And today in wardrobe he all but said he wasn’t comfortable changing in front of me because of it. I’m just waiting for him to start swinging.” Jensen’s voice was creeping up the octave, and he could feel the panic rising.
“Okay,” Danneel told him, taking charge. “Go out there, be professional, don’t interact with him more than you have to. I can fly up in two weeks to see you.”
“Jensen,” someone yelled from on set, and he disconnected the call, walking out and shooting a fake grin at Jared.
Everything went fine until lunch. Jensen got his food and walked over to where Jared and Adrianne Palicki, playing Jess, were sitting, and plopped down next to Adrianne. He took a long sip of his drink through his straw before fumbling for a good conversation starter and coming up with “Having fun getting set on fire?”
Adrianne laughed, thankfully, and started chatting about how much fun she was having on set, and didn’t Jensen think it was just great, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if her character could come back as, like, a ghost maybe and haunt the brothers or something?
Jared, across the table, was focusing very hard on his plate, and appeared to be clenching his jaw so hard Jensen feared for the state of his teeth.
Okay then. His very presence was apparently offensive. Good to know.
Jared had a problem. Actually, Jared had a multitude of problems. Jared had been looking at Jensen when the other man had wrapped his lips around his straw, and Jared had nearly spontaneously combusted before excusing himself to awkwardly return to his trailer, trying to hide his boner.
“But what do I do, ” he moaned pathetically to Harley, who sympathetically licked his ear. “I’m not gay!”
Sadie whined at him, and he slipped her a treat from his pocket. “I know, sweetheart,” he said seriously. “It’s a problem.”
She whined again and he sighed, pulling out a tattered rope and offering one end of it to her. She started tugging gleefully, and Harley sat down on Jared’s leg to enjoy the show.
“I don’t get it,” he complained, yanking on the rope and grinning as Sadie shook her end furiously. “One gay costar and suddenly I’m this? It’s not like-“
Harley growled at the door.
“Shush, buddy,” Jared told him, giving his ears a quick rub. “Let me finish complaining about my Jensen problems.”
Harley growled again, and Sadie dropped the rope, pricking up her ears and padding over to the door. A knock sounded.
Jared opened the door, seizing the dog’s collars so they wouldn’t jump all over and cause issues. Green eyes blinked back at him.
“I was supposed to tell you filming starts up in ten,” Jensen relayed coolly, “but I think I’ll let you finish complaining about your Jensen problems first.” Then he was gone.
“Fuck,” Jared said, sitting down hard on the floor. Harley licked his face.
In the ten minutes he had left, fully aware that he’d offended and possibly given the entirely wrong idea to his new costar, Jared did what Jared always did when he was having trouble: he called Sandy.
“He thinks I’m a homophobic asshole,” he said mournfully into the phone.
“Holy fuck, Jared, will you just talk to him. Please.”
Jared made his voice small, twining his fingers into Sadie’s ruff. “Are you mad at me?”
“You are being a bit obtuse.”
“I don’t want him to hate me! What do I do?”
Sandy sighed. “Treat him like a normal costar. Ask him questions, try to get to know him. It’ll be okay.”
“Okay,” Jared said, determined. “Normal costar. Got it.”
The rest of the afternoon went, unsurprisingly, horribly.
“He asked if my favorite color was pink, ” Jensen raged into the phone. “Do I look like my favorite color is pink? He’s- he’s exactly like the assholes that beat me up in high school, only he hasn’t started swinging yet.”
“That’s nice,” said Danneel. “I have a girlfriend.”
“He said he thought one of his friends’ friends might be queer ! Like he doesn’t know that’s a slur, and I- wait. What?” Jensen flopped down onto his couch with a microwave meal, tired from an exhausting day.
“I have a girlfriend,” Danneel repeated.
“Danni! Tell me about her!”
Danneel chuckled. “Her name is Genevieve Cortese, she’s really cute. She likes to garden! And she gave me a tomato plant.”
“You’re sickeningly adorable,” he told her.
“I know, babe. I know.”
The next two months went fairly quickly, a monotone of them interacting politely and sometimes even playing video games or walking Jared’s babies together, sprinkled liberally with minor clashes between Jared and Jensen followed by frantic calls to their respective support systems, and fraught with Jensen expecting Jared to start punching him any time now.
Then one morning Jared woke up from a dream with a boner.
This was not a new situation. In fact, it happened relatively often. What was new, however, was the topic of the dream.
Green eyes, bowed legs, and a decidedly masculine figure had featured heavily, and Jared may or may not have been rutting into the bed and moaning Jensen’s name when he woke up.
Groggily, he shuffled out of bed and googled ‘am i gay,’ figuring it was better to do it now than later.
Three Internet quizzes later, and Jared was calling his momma.
Sherry Padalecki picked up on the third ring. “Baby? Is everything okay?”
“Momma,” Jared said, then stopped. He knew her love was unconditional; that was, after all, how a mother was supposed to be. He did, however, remember a few offhand comments his father had made years ago that he didn’t like the sound of.
“Jared?” Sherry sounded much more awake all of a sudden. “Are you all right? Are you hurt?”
“I’m not hurt, Momma. I think- I don’t know what I think.”
“Are the dogs okay?” She asked, obviously going down the list of concerns.
Jared looked over at the dogs in question. Harley was splayed out on his bed, drooling on the pillow, and Sadie was happily chewing on Jared’s shorts. “Yeah. They’re fine. I think-“
I don’t think I’m straight, his mind supplied. My costar is really hot and I’m feeling things and I don’t know what to do and I need you to make it better. That wasn’t, however, what his mouth said. “Jensen is gay,” he blurted out, and then clapped a hand over his mouth because he might be clueless about most things but he knew that outing someone without their permission was a big no-no.
Sherry hummed thoughtfully. “Okay. Why is this a problem at six in the morning?”
“It’s not a problem,” Jared rushed to assure her. “It’s not. He’s just- he’s just distracting. Me. I’m. Distracted.”
“Jared Tristan,” she said sternly. “ I know your daddy is a bit more conservative than I am, but I know I raised you better than this.”
“It’s not a bad thing,” he protested into the phone, not entirely sure how everything went so sideways so fast. “I’m straight though.”
“Okay…?” She trailed off, obviously expecting him to give her some sort of connection to work with.
“He hates me,” Jared said morosely. “And he has pretty lips.”
Then, shortly after that, he said “Oh fuck, I said that out loud.”
“Language,” Sherry reprimanded absentmindedly. “Is there something you’d like to tell me?”
The words came rushing out then, Jared powerless to stop them. “He’s really pretty and I thought I was straight, not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, but I’m not I know I’m not and I kept trying to make friends with him because he’s really cool but I kept putting my foot in my mouth and now he hates me and thinks I’m an asshole and I had a dream about him and took an Internet quiz and it said I’m a bottom but I don’t know what that means. ”
“One step at a time,” she told him, sighing. “So from this I can gather that you’re not as straight as you thought you were and have a crush on your costar.”
“And this costar thinks you hate him.”
Jared picked at the blanket, disturbing Harley, who glared with one sleepy, baleful eye. “Yeah.”
“Okay. Let’s do some thinking, yeah?”
Thirty minutes later, Jared felt like he had his head on straight, mostly, and was ready to deal with the world.
When Clif came to get him, Jensen already tucked into the back seat of the car, Jared was ready. He greeted Clif, then handed Jensen a thermos of coffee.
Jensen sniffed it suspiciously, eyeing Jared, who protested. “No pranks before eight, man, I swear.”
Jensen sipped warily, only to stop in confusion when Jared presented him with a bag of his favorite gummy bears. “What did you do,” he demanded, voice rough and sleepy and doing things to Jared. “I know an apology when I see one. What did you do?”
“Nothing,” Jared squeaked, willing his boner down.
Jensen poked at the gummy bears. “You didn’t poison them, did you?”
Jared gaped. Sure, he pranked people a lot, but he’d never do something that would cause actual harm. Did Jensen really think- “No. I swear they’re not. I just knew you liked them and thought I’d get you some.”
Not that he’d run out to a convenience store immediately after getting off the phone that morning to get Jensen a gift.
“Okay.” Jensen eyed him. Jensen eyed the coffee. Jensen eyed Clif.
“Dude,” Jared complained, flailing an arm around.
Jensen flinched, keeping his voice carefully measured. “Okay, okay, I believe you.”
Time for phase two of the plan. Ask Jensen nice, basic questions to be extremely friendly all day, while not doing anything that could be construed as a) homophobic, b) gay, or c) clueless.
“So,” Jared’s stupid mouth said. “Had any good hookups lately?” Wow, he thought at it. Way to go, asshole.
Jensen grunted. “One, and he was too rough for my taste.” Yeah, Jensen before coffee kicked in had little to no filter, a fact Jared had definitely never exploited before.
Jared’s own filter appeared to be on indefinite vacation, because the next thing he said was “Wait, so like how did that even work?”
“Google exists,” Jensen told him, casting a pleading look at Clif, who was professionally ignoring them. “I’m not explaining the mechanics of gay sex to you.”
Jared made a face. “I mean, uh.” And then, because he wanted to know if his dream was accurate or not, he fumbled for an appropriate metaphor before landing on “Did you pitch or catch?” Did he hurt you, his brain filled in but he didn’t say. I’d treat you better.
“Will you look at that,” Jensen said. “We’re here. See you later.”
Jared didn’t see him again until a couple of hours later, when he managed to corner the other man by his trailer. “Jensen,” he said quietly, leaning in close.
Jensen appeared to be looking around, but there was nobody else in sight.
“Jensen,” Jared said again, and then Jensen looked up at him, eyed sparkling and plush lips slightly parted, and Jared surged forward, pinning Jensen against the trailer behind him and kissing him thoroughly.
Jensen flinched violently, then froze underneath him. Jared had started to pull back, confused, when a fist collided with his face.
Then a knee with his balls and yeah, okay, he was just gonna sit down for a minute because whoa, he may have made a grave miscalculation.
“You’re sick,” Jensen hissed, shoving away from Jared. “Hating me, pranking me, I understand. I’d even understand if you beat me up. But this? This, Jared? Really?”
Then he was gone, leaving Jared with a lot of questions and precisely one dawning, sickening realization.
“I can be there in eight hours,” Danneel said. “I’m bringing Gen.”
Jensen sniffled. “He’s so- why does he have to hate me? He’s so sweet to everyone else and he seems like such a nice guy otherwise.”
Danneel paused. “Jensen, do you have a crush on the homophobic asshole who’s made you uncomfortable, hated you, and pranked you for months and just literally assaulted you?”
Jensen considered. “Yup.”
“Go home,” she ordered him. “Eat something and get back in bed. I’ll be there soon.”
Eight and a half hours later, she and Gen arrived, knocking on his door until he got up to open it. “You look like shit,” Danneel told him as she breezed into the apartment. “I have pizza.”
“Thanks, Danni,” he mumbled.
Jared sat on the floor of his trailer, petting Harley mechanically. He’d filmed all of Sam’s solo scenes, and since Jensen was nowhere to be found, that had been just about all they could do for the day.
He’d fucked up. He’d really fucked up.
He suddenly saw all of his interactions with Jensen in a new light. The way Jensen had always kept a safe distance away from him, even when they were getting along. How Jensen had been suspicious of Jared’s gifts, and how he reacted to the pranks.
And Jared had- he squeezed his eyes shut. Jensen had known all along that he was a despicable person, something Jared had said or done must have given it away, and now Jared had hurt him.
Jensen had thought Jared hated him, and the kiss was just another way to cause him anguish.
Which it had. Jared had practically assaulted the other man.
Jared did what Jared always did when he didn’t know what to do: he called his mother. “Momma,” he sniffled tearfully into the phone. “I fucked up. I fucked up so bad.”
“JT,” she soothed. “Hey, it can’t be that bad. Tell me about it.”
Ten minutes later, she was conceding that it could, indeed, be that bad. “I don’t know what to tell you, baby. I’d say you should apologize to him, but I’m not sure he’d want to see you.”
Jared was contemplating that when his phone beeped with an incoming call. “I gotta go, Momma, Sandy is calling. I’ll talk to you later.”
Sandy was calling to scream at him. “Jared Tristan,” she yelled into the phone. “You better have a damn good explanation for this.”
He shivered; she sounded like his mother in a bad mood. “I- how did you even know?”
“My friend Gen is dating his friend Danni, and they’re there with him right now. Explain yourself.” Sandy sounded pissed, and with good reason. “I thought you were a decent person, Jared, but now I’m hearing that you’ve been terrorizing Jensen for months? You’re better than that.”
Jared squeezed Sadie in a hug, and she lapped half heartedly at his hand. “I swear, Sandy, I didn’t mean to.”
“You didn’t mean to what? He told Danni that he flinched every time you move because he doesn’t know what you’re going to do and he can’t keep himself from doing it!”
Jared felt like throwing up. “Oh god,” he whispered.
“And as if all the bullying him with pranks wasn’t enough,” she continued, “You had to fucking assault him! What did you think, that because he was gay he could give you some convenient stress relief on set?”
Jared threw up.
“I didn’t, Sandy I swear, I never meant to hurt him.”
“Well you did, and you better fix it,” she snapped, hanging up the phone.
Jared barely dragged himself out of bed and to filming the next day, but he was glad he did because there, on the other side of the parking lot, was Jensen, flanked by a redhead who must’ve been Danni and a pretty, petite brunette (Gen?).
“Jensen?” he called tentatively, walking over and trying to look as non-threatening as possible. “Can we talk?”
“No,” Danneel snapped, shoving past him. “Come on, Jensen.”
Jensen looked at Jared, who privately thought that he was as beautiful as ever, even with those dark circles under his eyes. Then he remembered that he was the reason Jensen looked like shit, and felt like throwing up again. “Yeah,” Jensen said roughly. “You have three minutes, and if I don’t like what you have to say, I’ll sic Danni on you.”
Danneel looked, for her part, like she’d love to rend Jared’s flesh from his bones.
“Okay,” he said, and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. For the way I treated you, for everything. I never meant to make you feel afraid of me, and I’m sorry for kissing you.”
“Why did you do it,” Jensen asked.
“I- I think I like you. And all the pranking was just… me pulling your pigtails. But I hurt you and that’s inexcusable and I’m sorry.”
Jensen squinted at him. “You don’t hate me.”
“You don’t want to beat me up.”
“Not at all.”
“Or,” Jensen’s voice stuttered. “Or use me as, I don’t know, stress relief?”
Jared blanched. “Fuck no, Jensen, I don’t want to hurt you. In any way.”
Gen cut in. “This whole mess was you having a drastic sexuality crisis and being totally unprepared to deal with it because of how sheltered you were growing up in the Bible Belt?”
Jared nodded, trying not to let his knees go weak. “That’s about right.”
“Okay,” Jensen considered. “Let’s try this whole thing again from the top, with a few ground rules.”
Jared nodded like a bobblehead. “Absolutely!”
“Okay.” Jensen took a deep breath. “No pranking me. And I won’t prank you. No kissing or touching without permission. And no more apologizing, you look pathetic.”
“Thank you,” Jared gushed, stepping forward and getting instantly repelled by Gen. who was very strong for being so small. “God, thank you so much Jensen.”
Jensen smiled shakily. “Okay. Hard reset. Nice to meet you, I’m Jensen Ackles, and I’m gay.”
Jared stuck out his hand to shake. “Jared Padalecki, howdy.”
Three months later, Jensen let Jared hug him and he actually hugged back.
Two months after that, Jensen asked Jared on a lowkey, chill sort of date. They ate steak then went home and played Halo.
Jensen brushed a chaste kiss to Jared’s cheek before bed, and Jared walked around on cloud nine for a week.
Two weeks after that, they told Sandy, Danneel, and Gen that they were in a relationship.
Years later, the story of how they met started with “Nice to meet you, I’m Jensen Ackles, and I’m gay.” and Jared holding a hand out to shake. “Jared Padalecki, howdy.”