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A loud chuckle rides the vibrations of the large rec room and Jensen and Chris both look in that direction automatically. Jensen recognizes that laugh, has been aware of it since the start of his sophomore year in high school when a scrawny freshman with cat-like hazel eyes caught his attention in the hallway.

The absolute last person Jensen expects to see is Jared Padalecki. Yet there he is, smiling as if he didn’t know what an asshole he’d been for breaking Danni’s heart. Jensen turns immediately to Chris.

“Tell me you didn’t know he’d be here.”

Chris looks at him aggrievedly. “Of course not, bro. I hate what he did to our Danni.”

Steve is throwing the first home-from-college party of the summer. Steve’s family is considerably wealthier than Jensen’s, and the well-appointed basement room leads out to a huge patio through a wall of French glass doors, currently closed to keep the air conditioning in. Jensen recalls the first time he was down here, exclaiming with no filter, “Shit … this is as big as my folks’ entire house.”

He blushes remembering that. Then his eyes rove the room despite himself to see where Jared has gone. “Well, we’ll just ignore him is all,” he says to Chris. Jensen is not going to let the jerk that hurt Danni get to him anymore.

Jensen and Danneel were best friends in high school, even though Jensen was a year ahead. Jared was in her class, and Danni’d really liked him, was thrilled when Jared asked her out. They dated for a couple of months and then inexplicably Jared called it off. Jensen was away at school and Danni cried on the phone to him for a solid week and must have eaten her own weight in Hagen Daz. Jensen was relieved when Danni started dating someone new. Still. The creep is the last person Jensen wants to see. In fact, he could go the whole summer without seeing Jared again.

Chris interrupts Jensen’s brooding. “We shoulda figured this. Steve probably invited Kathy and Jeff, and Jared is Jeff’s brother.” Of course, Jensen recalls now that Jeff was at the University of Texas last year too, but a year ahead and in the business program so their paths really didn’t cross.

Jensen pouts because, yeah, it does make sense. He now wonders if Jared is heading to UT in the fall like his brother. The idea makes him both hot and cold at the same time.

Chris looks at him a moment but doesn’t say anything.

Minutes later Jensen falls into back slaps as he reunites with friends he hasn’t seen since last fall. A whirlwind suddenly leaps onto his back like a monkey and squeals loudly into his ear. “Jen. God, I’ve missed you.”

Danneel drops off him and he spins around to draw her into a hug. Dammit … he’d been so looking forward to seeing her, but now he’s worried if she knows that the jerkwad is here as well.

“You, too, Dan.” He smiles into her beaming face. She’s gotten more beautiful, if that is even possible. A momentary sadness fills him. He’d tried so hard to love her. And he did. Just not like that. “How’s the gallery?”

Danneel is an artist and has been accepted to the School of Graphic Arts in New York. She’s working during the summer in an art gallery in Dallas, where she’d worked last summer as well.

“Intense. A little crazy. I love it.”

Jensen knows that she will thrive in New York. He’s always loved her paintings and now she is getting into sculpting. She is amazing.

“How ‘bout you, Jen? Anything new?”

“Got through my first year,” he answers honestly. It was both harder and easier than he expected. But he’d roomed with Chris and made new friends and is looking forward to going back in the fall.

“Still thinking of physical therapy?”

“Yeah … “ He hesitates long enough for her perfect eyebrows to arch sharply. “I told you about the drama group?” he finally says.

She nods, still waiting.

“I really liked that, too.”

Danni smiles. “You could pursue both, you know. You’re a good actor. I’ve told you that. Your senior play was way better than mine. Everyone still talks about how good you were as Tony. Always wish I could’ve played your Maria.”

Jensen winces internally. Danni dropped out of her own senior play when Jared, who’d been the lead, dumped her. Of course, before he had, Danni kept talking about how perfect Jared was for the role of Danny Zuko. It’s not like Jensen spent any time thinking about Jared in a leather jacket or sashaying sexy across a stage or gyrating any parts below belt level. Never.

“Riley here, too?” Jensen asks, looking around. Jensen recalls her talking about the cute boy with warm brown eyes that she was itching to sketch. It was always that way for Danni – she’d wanted to sketch Jensen as well years ago. He still had some of those early drawings. “You two still going strong?”

She blushes and tilts her head down. “Yeah.” Her face takes on a dreamy look as she looks around. “He’s over there with Kirsten and Robert.” Jensen looks in that direction. Riley’s a little shorter than Jensen, but with a strong build and full, curly brown hair. He can certainly see the attraction.

“It’s been three months … and I really … he’s special.” Danni chews on her bottom lip and Jensen can see she’s worried about something. “But I’ll be in New York and he’ll be here in Texas … “

“What’s he say about it?” Jensen asks.

“He says we can work it out. Do the long distance thing, you know.”

“Then it’ll work, if it’s what you want as well,” Jensen says assuredly.

“It’s a big distance.”

He smiles at her. “Trust me on this. Only reason a guy would let you go—“

“Is if he’s into other guys?” There is no bite to her comment and Jensen remembers how scared he was when he came out to her. He told his older brother first, then his parents and then Danni. He’d been nervous but she’d only said she’d suspected, could tell by the way he sometimes glanced at cute boys in the same way she did. And then she’d told him the one thing he’d needed to hear more than anything – that Jensen had never led her on.

Danni stiffens at his side and Jensen follows her gaze. Jared. No matter how big the party it was inevitable that she’d spot him. Jensen squeezes Danni’s arm. “I’m sorry, Dan … I think he’s here because Jeff is.”

Danneel turns to Jensen to say something when Riley appears at her side. Her attention is immediately distracted. The music shifts and with hardly more than a quick wave Riley whisks Danni off. Jensen knows how much Danni loves to dance. He doesn’t mind it himself, but not until he’s had a couple of beers in him.

To that end he goes in search of one of the large buckets Steve has filled with glass bottles. He’s reaching in, searching out a Shiner Bock while also trying to see what happened to Chris or maybe Steve when a large hand brushes his in the ice. He looks up with a smile, volunteering to grab what the guy wants when suddenly he’s face to face with the skunk himself.

“Jared,” he says coldly.

“Jensen,“ Jared replies, face turning pink.

Jensen grabs a Corona and hands it to Jared before he can even think about his actions. Over their three overlapping high school years they’d gone to the same parties, hung out some together. Jared had a wicked sense of humor and striking dimples. Until the douchebag crushed Danni’s heart, Jensen had thought he was a decent guy.

“Th-thanks,” Jared stammers. He takes the cold bottle and his fingers slip along Jensen’s hand and Jensen jumps backward a step in a particularly ungainly move. He follows Jared’s actions as he lifts up his tee-shirt to twist the cap off his beer. A sliver of Jared’s pale, flat belly shows and Jensen quickly takes a long swallow as his face begins to heat.

“You home for the summer?” Jared asks before Jensen has a chance to move away.

Jensen’s inbred politeness forces an answer from his lips. “Yes, just got back.” Jared’s stare makes more words fall out before Jensen can stop himself. “Where will you be heading in the fall?”

The truth is, Jensen is dreading this answer.

“UT,” Jared replies, smile tipping up the corners of his lips. But it’s wobbly and unsure. Jensen knows that because Jensen absolutely remembers what Jared’s full smile looks like. It’s sun-bright, teeth gleaming and dimples so deep Jensen was often tempted to poke his finger in one.

Unconsciously, Jensen rubs the cold, wet bottle against his warm cheeks. He sees Jared’s eyes track the movement and quickly lowers his arm. This time he thinks he really will walk away.

“Maybe we’ll see each other, eh?” Jared asks, eyes bright and eager and Jensen can’t help the thought ‘puppy’ that forms instantly.

He also can’t help the ‘I hope so’ that traitorously slinks forward. He keeps his eyes hard, though, and shrugs. The tinkling bell of laughter reaches them and both glance at Danneel who is dancing with Riley, her red hair swinging wildly and hips shaking and she’s so free and happy and alive that Jensen can’t help the smile from filling his face.

He looks back at Jared, who is also smiling, and for a second Jensen forgets that Jared ever hurt Danni, ever broke her heart. It’s a shared moment of fond intimacy … gazing at a beautiful girl and her handsome boyfriend and Jensen feels something squeeze in his chest.

“They seem really good for each other,” Jared says softly, eyes drifting back to Jensen’s.

“She’s happy,” Jensen replies. And then, of course, he remembers everything. Her cracked voice asking why she wasn’t good enough. Jensen said it made no sense, that Danneel was perfect. And Danni had laughed bitterly at that, calling Jensen an idiot. Jensen had accepted the insult, knowing it was only the hurt speaking and he asserted again that Jared was a fool.

A fool who seemed to have a secret power that is keeping Jensen from walking away.

“J-Jensen?” Jared is stammering at him. “I … I’m sorry for the clusterfuck at the beginning of the year.”

What? Does Jared think that Jensen is just going to forgive it all away? No way. Jensen isn’t the one whose absolution Jared needs. “Yeah. It was fucked up. And I know we were friends before … and maybe it’s clichéd, but I did choose sides. Danneel is my best friend.”

“I know that. God, I know … all the more reason … And she … she said … even before I ever … But that’s … yeah, hopeless. I get it. I do.” Jared’s eyes lower to the ground.

Jensen doesn’t know what to make of that odd outburst. Is Jared regretting that he let Danneel go? Does he want her back but realizes it’s too late? If so, it’s worth a few more minutes with the jerk to reinforce that. He doesn’t want Jared to try again with Danneel.

“She’s moved on.”

Jared grins slightly but still doesn’t meet Jensen’s eyes. “Yeah. I can see that. It’s great.”

Now Jensen really feels confused. Because Jared’s declaration about Danneel finding a new boyfriend being a good thing sounds so heartfelt. Like Jared really did think that.

They get jostled away from the beer and Jensen finds himself leaning into the glass wall of doors and Jared is still standing near him. Steve is outside, strumming his guitar. Jensen can’t hear it, just sees the shadow moving on the deck beyond the French glass doors. Inside, Chris is dancing with a girl Jensen doesn’t recognize. Danneel is spinning now, carefree and light. The exact opposite of the heaviness settling on Jensen like an oppressive blanket.

Why does this conversation with Jared feel so off? Like it is taking place between more than just two people? Like Jensen’s missing half the equation? Jared’s leaning against the glass, watching everyone with a detached sadness.

“Hey. I’m sure you’ll meet a nice girl in school and forget all about Danneel.” Jensen isn’t sure why he’s trying to say something comforting.

Jared’s wild stare surprises him. “What?” Jared tilts his head and his eyes widen even further. “Why would you say that? She said you knew. That you’d never … even if … that it would never be someone like me. But I always thought. I mean, that was the anger, you know? And I deserved that. Didn’t matter. Because loyalty would come first no matter what. Like you said, you chose sides.”

Jared is forming words and certainly speaking English, but dammit if anything he’s said makes coherent sense. Jensen stares at his beer wondering if he’s mistaken about only having drank the one. “Jay? Man, I have no idea what you’re talking about. What do you think I know?”

“Oh my god.”

Jensen’s heart races a little at Jared’s suddenly pale complexion. The boy looks like he might honestly just drop where he stands. Jensen grabs Jared’s bicep. “You okay?”

“She knew … but you … you didn’t … “ The stuttering trails off, but Jared is still looking like he’s seen a ghost.

“C’mon,” he declares. “Let’s get you some air.”

Jensen is about to tug Jared out the door to the patio when Danneel shuffles off the makeshift dance floor directly to them, Riley following like a puppy, and suddenly all four of them are facing each other awkwardly.

Danni smiles, but Jensen knows she is nervous. “Jared,” she says softly. “This is Riley.”

Both men nod. Riley stares at Jensen, eyes questioning, and once more Jensen thinks that all kinds of conversations are going on that he isn’t privy to.

“I was just … “ Jensen tilts his chin toward the glass panes. “I think Jared needs some air.”

Danneel nods but doesn’t move from where she’s blocking their path. “Jen.” She goes up on her toes and speaks in his ear. “It’s okay with me. Really. I should have said it before now … but … “ She giggles a little and Jensen hears the underlying awkwardness. It’s comforting that she’s saying she’s fine, that seeing Jared isn’t hurting her anymore. But then she kisses Jensen’s cheek. “Follow your heart.”

With that enigmatic comment, she takes Riley’s arm and they go in search of refreshment. Jensen is left standing with Jared, who is gaping at him like a fish, and Jensen knocks down the last of his beer before leading them both outside.

The quiet hits him instantly. Now Jensen can hear Steve’s soft strumming as the pounding bass recedes. It’s early Texas summer, warm, of course, but it’s evening pleasant, and the sudden exit from the air conditioning gives him goose bumps.

He walks Jared toward the stone wall surrounding the patio. There are deck chairs, and Jensen thinks that Jared should sit down. He’s about to suggest it when Jared takes hold of Jensen’s arm as strongly as Jensen had supported Jared earlier.

Jensen looks at the hand connecting them and then back at Jared’s hazel eyes. They glow gold in the dim light. The patio is strung up with fairy lights, and their twinkle makes the scene even more surreal.

“You don’t know.” Jared’s statement isn’t a question.

Jensen is lost. “Don’t know what?”

“Why I broke up with Danneel.”

Jensen thinks about that. Sure he knows. Jensen spent days commiserating with Danni. But he can hardly tell Jared that it’s because Jared is a slimy toad with knobby knees (one of Danni’s tamer insults). He thinks back … it’s because Jared said … shit, Jensen has no idea what Jared said other than that they shouldn’t see each other any more. Could it be even worse than Danni made it seem? Fuck, did Jared cheat on Danneel? There’s no way she wouldn’t have told Jensen that.

Eyes narrowing, Jensen questions. “Was there someone else?”

Jared looks at him hard before breaking into an exasperated sigh. “You could say that.”

Jensen takes a step back, breaking Jared’s grip, disgusted. He can’t imagine feeling angrier at Jared than when he first hurt Danni, but now he sees red. “That’s not cool, man. Did she catch you … she never told me. Girl’s got a lot of pride. That’s just not cool.” He runs his hand over his face and is about to turn and walk away but Jared reaches out again.

“No … Jensen, I never. It’s not like that. I broke up with her because I was … thinking about someone else … and that wasn’t fair. But I never acted on it.”

Meeting Jared’s earnest gaze Jensen can’t help but believe him. Well, that is different than cheating. If Jared really was developing interest in another girl then Jensen supposes he did the right thing by Danneel. Though Jensen hasn’t heard of Jared dating anyone else and clearly Jared is here alone. Hell, he’s spent most of the evening so far with Jensen.

“Didn’t work out with this other girl?” Jensen asks sympathetically. He knows he’s allowing his feelings of friendship toward Jared to rekindle, but he’s remembering Jared’s extravagant laugh echoing down the school corridor. The boy always was sweet and fun. It’s not Jared’s fault that he’s grown tall and muscular and really rather perfect. Jensen has become adept at admiring from afar. He’s used to it.

Jared spins his head as if assessing who is around. His face is slightly flushed and his eyes just this side of too bright. “Jensen. I need to tell you something. I don’t know … I mean, I’m sure you won’t … it’s just that I haven’t really told anyone outside of my family. Well, pretty much.”

Jensen meets Jared’s nervous look and squeezes his shoulder once briefly. “It’s okay. What is it?” He thinks that Jared needs to confess he did cheat on Danneel. Jensen won’t like it and he won’t pretend it’s okay, but it was a long time ago and Danneel has moved on, and Christ, Jared looks so broken over it.

“I … I’m gay.”

Okay, there are a bunch of things Jensen had been expecting. That. Wasn’t it. “What?” he says stupidly.

Jared doesn’t repeat it because he knows Jensen heard him. Instead, Jared meets his eyes and suddenly the world realigns. Jared, this built, ridiculously good-looking straight boy who was so off limits because he was dating Jensen’s best friend – that Jared – is into boys? It is suddenly way hotter on the patio than it was a few moments ago. In fact, Jensen feels rather like he’s suffocating.

“Oh,” he says into the silence. “I didn’t … I mean … “ He sucks in a deep breath because this boy just came out to him and that’s a huge deal. Jensen forces himself to pull out of the stupid stupor and do the right thing. “It’s … that’s okay. I mean … you know I am, too, right?” Which is a ridiculous question because Jensen came out his junior year of high school and openly dated another guy during his senior year and, of course, Jared knew. They’d all hung out together. Jensen shakes his head. “You don’t have to be nervous to tell me that, Jay. Of all people, I get it.”

“I thought maybe I was bisexual,” Jared says softly. “Because I really liked Danni. And maybe I am. Possibly. I don’t know that much about labels. But that didn’t matter because I couldn’t … she wasn’t who I wanted, ultimately. And it was so … impossible.”

Jensen nods. It was years ago, of course, but Jensen remembers trying to be attracted to Danneel in that way. Thinking how much easier it all would be. But he’s happy with who he is now and, honestly, he doesn’t want it any other way anymore.

“It’s okay, Jay.” Jensen remembers when he needed to hear simple acceptance.

Jared looks so bereft, though, like the words don’t mean anything. Jensen feels awful, not knowing what else to offer. After a moment of silence Jared nods. “I know that. I’m not ashamed of how I feel. I don’t wish I could fall for a girl. Yeah, I get it would be easier because of the world still being like it is. Or at least Texas.” Jared lets out a bitter laugh. “But if … “ Jared swipes his long bangs off his forehead, the rest of his sentence is almost a whisper. “ … god, it would be worth anything.”

Jensen stares at the nearly empty bottle still in his left hand and puts it down carefully on the small table next to them. He meets Jared’s gaze and keeps his voice steady because he owes Jared this. “You did the right thing with Danni. I mean, I hate that she was hurt. I do. But lying to yourself and to her is much worse.”

“Stop it. It’s worse that you’re being nice to me. At least before I felt I deserved it.”

Now Jensen is dumbfounded. “What?”

Jared looks resigned, face older than his eighteen years and so very sad. “I have one more thing to tell you.”

Jensen quirks his eyebrow up in response, curious, yet unaccountably nervous.

Jared shuts his eyes and takes a deep inhalation before exhaling in small bursts. When his eyes reopen they seem so blue it momentarily entrances Jensen and it takes a second to realize Jared’s resumed speaking.

“Remember that I told you there was someone else that I was attracted to and that’s why I broke it off?”

Jensen nods. Thinks it through. “So it was a boy. That’s okay.”

“It wasn’t just a boy.”

Now Jensen is clueless. Did Jared find himself attracted to someone age inappropriate? An older man? Or maybe if he was bisexual it was a woman after all.

“Jensen,” Jared says and his eyes are begging him for something but Jensen doesn’t get it … until, suddenly. He does.

“Oh god.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t tell her. I swear. She … she just seemed to know. I’m so sorry.”

“You liked me,” Jensen utters and his voice lilts in amazement. Fuck. Guilt floods him instantly. He must have given off a signal. Maybe more than one. He thought he’d hidden his goddamn crush. He thought he’d buried it all the way to China but … maybe he hadn’t?

Legs weak, Jensen drops to the chaise lounge. Jared looms over him, his eyes glimmering with tears in the fairy lights. “Sit,” Jensen commands, because he can’t stand seeing the wobble in Jared’s legs any longer.

The seat shakes a little under the extra weight and Jensen feels Jared’s thigh up against his own. He should move and put some space between them but he doesn’t. He takes a deep breath and says what he must. “Jay … I’m sorry if I led you to think—“

“No. God, no. You never.” Jared laughs. “She made it clear that your loyalty would never … and no matter what … you’re so out of my league.”

The world spins again because Danneel’s whispered words a few minutes ago are taking on a whole new meaning. And they are twisting in Jensen’s gut. Because really … it isn’t up to her and never was. And, yeah, if Jensen had known that Jared was gay he probably still would have friend-zoned him because of his history with Danneel. This is just so fucked up.

Jensen ends up latching to the only thing he can definitely say. “You’re not out of my league.”

Jared turns at that and his face is right there. Close. Jensen can make out the flecks of blue and brown and gold in Jared’s eyes and it’s stupidly breathtaking. “If … things were different, I … “ Jensen doesn’t know how to end that.

Jared swallows and licks his lips and Jensen literally closes his eyes to keep from tilting forward and touching his lips to Jared’s. “I … I’m sorry.”

“Yeah,” Jensen concedes, agrees, he really doesn’t know which.

A breeze ruffles Jared’s hair and Jensen blinks and bites back regret. He looks down, gaze riveted to his own thighs as Jared slowly rises and moves away without another word.

Jensen remains seated, heart racing. It’s like the dam broke and now all he can see is how much he really did like Jared. How funny he’s always been, and gorgeous and sweet and even honest and brave. Because it took a lot of guts to admit such a secret, with no more fortitude than one beer. Jensen remembers watching Jared walk into Jensen’s AP English class senior year, one of only three juniors allowed to take it. Jared developed a lot over that summer, working at a local gym. From June to September Jared had gone from endearingly gangly to lightly-muscled and lithe. And totally oblivious to how he’d changed.

Jared had helped Jensen ace that class with some after-school tutoring. And Jared clicked with the group that included Jensen and Danni. But he hadn’t asked Danneel out until after Christmas of their senior year. Jensen wonders now if Jared had been struggling with his sexuality. If he’d been afraid in the same way that Jensen felt before coming out.

He doesn’t realize how long he’s sitting in the dim corner of Steve’s patio until a shadow behind him makes him tense.

Danneel’s soft voice murmurs, “Jen?”

He looks up at her and realizes his face is a wreck. Concern flooding her eyes, she sits instantly next to him, taking his hand. “I saw Jared inside.” Her voice is so concerned. “He looks kinda like you do.”

“I didn’t know,” Jensen says, but it’s barely a croak through a throat tight as a drum.

“Of course you didn’t,” she assures. She tilts his head downward to rest against her shoulder. “Jen. I’m sorry. I was selfish. I liked him. But not … now that I’m with Riley I realize it wasn’t what it should have been.” He lifts his head back up and her gaze is so intense it’s like she’s seeing inside his mind. “Go to him. Put both of you out of your misery.”

Jensen knows that he really doesn’t need permission. But Danneel is his best friend. She was there the first time the word ‘fag’ appeared on his locker door and the last time someone dared say it to his face. He was the first person she’d ever kissed and she was the one he ran to when the first boy he kissed turned out to be a jerk. “You’re sure it’s okay?”

Her smile is soul deep. “If you think you two could work, then yes. Absolutely. Go. I don’t think he left yet.”

Jensen stands, legs shaky. She rises with him and squeezes his hand. He sprints toward the house without looking back.

It takes his eyes a few minutes to adjust to the brighter inside lights. He looks around frantically but doesn’t spot Jared. Chris sees him and walks over. “Jen, where’ve you been?”

“Have you seen Jared?”

Chris shakes his head. “Earlier, but not in a while. Why? The creepzoid bothering Danni?” The venom in Chris’s eyes gives Jensen pause.

“Don’t call him that,” he says, leaving Chris gaping as Jensen walks away.

Jensen makes a circular sweep of the big room and Jared isn’t there. Jensen dashes upstairs to the front door and pulls it open, eyes flying over the parked cars lining the suburban street. The sound of an engine catches his attention and Jensen starts running.

“Jay … wait … “

The car pulls away and Jensen leans over huffing, frustration flooding his veins. He is an idiot. He wonders if there’s any way he can have one more chance.

A hesitant voice behind him makes him jump.


Jensen spins around and Jared is standing there, hands in his jeans pockets, hair disheveled as if he’s run his fingers through it repeatedly. He’s cautious and wondering … and here.

“I liked you, too,” Jensen blurts out. Wasn’t quite what he’d thought he’d say except the truth is he hadn’t really gotten much past the idea of stopping Jared from leaving.


“You … I … since we met … or at least since you helped me decipher Shakespeare.” He lets out a shy chuckle. “So, um, yeah.”

Jared’s eyes light up but then dim. “But … Danni?”

“Is happy with Riley.”

“You said you chose sides,” Jared argues. But Jensen thinks he’s being teased. The glint in Jared’s eyes is winking gold and those dimples are starting to form. One day Jensen really will poke his cheek and see how deep they go.

He steps up to Jared boldly and takes both of his hands in his. “I did,” he agrees. “But you never said whose side you’d choose.”

Jared takes a step closer crushing their joined hands between their chests. “Yours,” he says on a whisper before bending down to sweep his lips across Jensen’s.

It’s soft and innocent and Jensen inhales lightly before asking, “Am I the first boy you ever kissed?”

“Yes … and only boy I ever wanted to kiss,” Jared admits.

Jensen’s heart quickens at that and he brings their lips together again, angling his head and licking against Jared’s lips for the briefest taste. He’s going to take this slowly. Savor it, and see where it goes.

The music drifts out the doorway as a couple staggers outside.

Jared looks down at Jensen, face coloring slightly even though the other couple could care less about what Jared and Jensen are doing. Jensen can’t help but smile at Jared. It’s crazy how smitten he is already.

“So,” Jensen says after a minute of their just gazing at each other stupidly. “There’s this party. I hear it’s okay. Got decent beer at least. Would you wanna go with me?” His voice deepens slightly and he squeezes the hand he never let go of. “As my date?”

Jared’s smile lights up the driveway. Feeling giddy, Jensen brings a finger to Jared’s cheek and presses. He’s met with a giggle.

“What are you doing?”

Blushing Jensen pulls his hand away. “Nothing. So?”

Jared tugs his hand toward the door and presses his lips back to Jensen’s for the smallest kiss. “I’d love to.”