~ 11:37am ~
Something smacked Jared in the shoulder causing him to jolt upright in his seat, tip-tilted eyes blinking against the glare of the midday sun. “Wha—?” he mumbled as he scrubbed his hands over his face trying to wake himself up. His vision cleared just in time to see a sign for San Antonio pass by outside the car window. 10 Miles, it boasted. Shit. He’d been sleeping for almost the whole five-hour ride from Dallas.
“It lives!” Jensen said with a playful smirk. “Dude, the things you slept through… You wouldn’t believe it.
“Not even an hour out, somewhere around Hillsboro, there was an honest-to-god clown car. You should’ve seen it. Must’ve been twenty of them all stuffed inside that thing, hands and faces pressed up against the windows—freaky, man. Stuff like that is what nightmares are made of. Then there was the hitchhiker I picked up just outside of Austin. Guy looked like the damn Terminator…”
“Huh?” Jared’s brain wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders yet. What the hell was Jensen going on about? Clowns? Hitchhikers? And even though he knew Jensen wouldn’t have picked someone up, he couldn’t help but glance over his shoulder at the backseat of their SUV. It was empty and his laptop bag appeared to be unmolested as well as the other miscellaneous bags that were still sitting on the other seat. There was no evidence of a third party ever having been in the vehicle.
Jared sat back in his seat, the fog of sleep finally lifting, and looked over at Jensen, eyebrow arched. “Let me guess, he had an Austrian accent?”
“Who?” Jensen looked at Jared. “Oh. Well, actually, it was more of a Canadian accent.” The expression on his face was so serious that Jared cracked a smile and laughed.
“Canadian? Seriously, that’s the best you could come up with? I’m almost embarrassed for you, man.”
Jensen casually flipped him the finger causing Jared to snicker.
“Anyway, I thought you’d enjoy that more than hearing about the Spurs’ bus that was stopped at the rest area a couple hours back.” He waved in the general direction of the road behind them. “I think I might’ve even seen Parker coming out of the bathroom.” He grinned then. “But they weren’t the Mavs, so I didn’t bother waking your ass up.”
“Totally true. Cross my heart.” Jensen glanced at Jared and then returned his attention back to the road ahead of them.
Jared had seen the gleam in Jensen’s emerald eyes and called it for what it was. “Bullshit.”
Jensen chuckled as he reached down between his legs—Jared heard the crinkle of a bag—and brought a handful of gummy bears up to his mouth. He washed the candy down with a swig of coffee, which Jared was sure was black as pitch. Sugar and caffeine. No wonder Jensen was so damn hyper—and he had no way to let it out being cooped up in a car for so long other than to torment Jared now that he was awake.
“So, how’d you sleep?” Jensen asked after they’d put another mile behind them, one hand on the steering wheel, fingers tapping a steady rhythm on the leather wrap; his other hand was resting comfortably on the shifter. “You looked pretty ragged when we left.”
Ragged was probably an understatement. Jared had gotten maybe two hours of sleep before they’d had to hit the road this morning. He’d been in the final hours of negotiating a multi-million dollar merger between two foreign companies late last night, the culmination of five and a half months’ worth of hard work, when things had unexpectedly gone south thanks to one of the companies deciding not to concede to a few points in the contract. In the end, Jared had successfully been able to close the deal—but not before four o’clock this morning. Sometimes working with people on the other side of the world really sucked ass because there was no room or consideration for what time zone you were in.
“I’ll be all right. What about you, need me to drive?”
“Nah. I think I can handle the last fifteen minutes. Oh, your ma called earlier. Everyone’s there already except for Jeff; he had a patient he couldn’t put off this morning. My dad and Josh are keepin’ your dad busy out on the golf course. And Meg said to tell you hi.”
It was Jared’s father’s 60th birthday and his mom had invited the immediate family (which included the Ackles) and a few other close relatives to their home to celebrate the occasion. Megan had arrived from LA a couple days ago and, from what Jensen had told him, Alan and Donna had driven down early yesterday with Mack. And Josh, Ali, and their three boys had gotten in late yesterday afternoon. Aside from Jeff, a very pregnant Veronique, and their two kids, Jared and Jensen were going to be the last to arrive.
“What time’s the party again?” Jared asked.
Another mile passed.
“I wonder if they’ll have a bouncy house.”
Jensen looked at Jared from across the car, brow raised. “What are you, five?” He flicked a gummy bear at Jared hitting him on the forehead.
Jared picked the piece of candy up from his lap and popped it into his mouth with a smile. “Nah. I’d like to think I’m nine with twenty extra years of experience.”
~ 8:12pm ~
The door to Jared’s old bedroom opened. A shaft of light from the hallway spilled in and fell across his face. He cracked one eye open; the rest of his face was smooshed into the pillow.
The door closed a moment later letting the room fall back into shadow and he heard soft footsteps padding across the floor. The bed shifted under Jensen’s weight as he sat down, running a soothing hand across Jared’s back and then up to the base of his neck.
“Hey, sleepyhead.” Jensen reached over; his fingers tucked a few loose strands of Jared’s hair behind his ear. “You think you might be up for some adulting down at the Tipping Chair?”
Jared twisted so that he could lie on his side. The party/barbeque had finally died down around seven and his ma had insisted he go upstairs to take a nap. He had to admit, he felt world’s better for it.
He wrapped an arm around Jensen’s waist and gave a gentle tug. Jensen, knowing what Jared was looking for, climbed further onto the bed and threw a leg over Jared’s middle; the bed creaked under them as he leaned down to kiss Jared. Jensen smelled like a warm Texas evening. Even better, he tasted like Mama Padalecki’s apple pie tinged with a smoky hint of whiskey.
“Maybe,” Jared said when they broke apart and Jensen sat up, every little movement he made teasing at Jared’s awakening cock. “Who all’s goin’?”
“Well, Vera isn’t going for obvious reasons and Ali is gonna hang with her. Mom and Dad are on the back deck playing poker with your parents—your ma’s winning, by the way. So that leaves us kids.”
“Hmm…How much time do we have before we have to leave?” Jared slid his hands up Jensen’s sides, long fingers sneaking beneath soft cotton and smoothing over warm flesh.
Jensen waggled his eyebrows at Jared before leaning down once more. The next thing Jared knew, Jensen’s tongue was sliding back in alongside his own.
Jared’s hips instinctively bucked up, grinding against Jensen’s; he could already feel the hard line of the other man’s arousal through his jeans. A soft moan escaped from between their lips—his or Jensen’s, he couldn’t tell. Jared had just gotten his hands on the firm globes of Jensen’s ass, fingers pressing in deeply, when there was a sudden and loud pounding on the door.
“Hey, no buttsex in there!”
Jared barely had time to react before a startled Jensen was toppling over heading straight toward the floor, the twin bed much less forgiving in space than their king-size at home. Jared reached out to grab hold of him, but he got no more than a handful of t-shirt before Jensen was gone. Jared cringed when he heard the solid impact of Jensen connecting with the hardwood floor.
“Shit,” Jensen groaned from the floor.
Jared was up in a rush, throwing his legs over the side of the bed and flicking on the lamp on the nightstand. The soft glow of the light illuminated the room allowing him to see poor Jensen lying on his back staring up at the ceiling. Jared slid off the bed and fell to his knees beside his husband. A dazed Jensen blinked up at him.
“Jesus Christ. Are you okay?” Jared laid a hand on Jensen’s chest and felt his heart pounding behind his ribs.
“ ’M okay. Just…ow.” He sat up slowly and rubbed his elbow. “You better kick his ass for that. I’d do it myself, but your brother’s a bigger freak than you are.”
Jared grinned. Yeah, Jensen was going to be okay.
~ 10:57pm ~
Jared was on his fourth—or was it his fifth…sixth?—beer. He couldn’t remember, not after those and the handful of shots he’d had. And how was Meg even still upright? He glanced at his sister and quickly came to the conclusion that she and Mack were holding each other up. And then there was Jensen, a bucketful of sunshine and drunken giggles, sitting next to him.
Jeff was in the middle of telling a joke—something about a chicken, a hamster, and a UFO. When he hit the punch-line, Jensen guffawed and then ducked as Josh reached over in an attempt to smack him in the back of the head. Meg and Mack snickered and bumped shoulders. They were all well and truly beyond sober. (Well, everyone except for Jeff and Josh, the "responsible adults" that they were.)
Jensen knocked back another shot of tequila and then followed it down with a swig of beer. He leaned over and gave Jared a wet and sloppy kiss, one which Jared unabashedly reciprocated much to everyone else’s chagrin. It felt good to just have fun and let it all out.
The Tipping Chair was located in a quieter part of the city, just on the edge of the suburbs. A large portion of its business came from a devoted handful of regulars; everyone who went there knew you and you knew everyone. (It was like San Antonio’s very own version of Cheers.)
The Padalecki and Ackles siblings had commandeered a large booth in the back corner away from the hustle and bustle of the evening crowd, but it was still close enough to everything to enjoy the night’s activities. The food and alcohol had been coming non-stop since they’d arrived almost two hours ago.
“So, Jens,” Meg called out across the table, “anything new at work? Maybe a new dancer you might want to tell us about?”
Jared could swear she was looking right at him when she posed the question. He might be three or four sheets to the wind, but he didn’t miss that evil-little-sister glint in her eye.
“Nope,” Jensen giggled as he glanced at Jared and winked, “no one new. But there was…the uh…ten year anniversary thing last month. Jeff, he did one of those secret, uh—” He snickered when he couldn’t remember the word. “—vote-y things.”
“You mean a ballot, moron,” Josh supplied dryly.
Jensen turned his head and blinked slowly at Josh. “Yeah, tha’s what I said, jerkface. Anyway,” he looked back at Megan, “they voted for two of their favorite dancers to do an act together.” The bright smile on his face told everyone he’d been one of the two chosen. “Was one of the biggest draws the club s’ever had. My ass is awesome.” He picked up his beer as he proceeded to wiggle said ass in his seat and knocked the bottle against Jared’s in a toast. As he did, he teetered into Jared and Jared wrapped an arm around his broad shoulders to steady him.
Several groans came from across the table and then Jensen was bombarded with a hail of french fries and balled-up napkins. Jared, being in the line of fire, ended up with half of it in his lap.
“No, please,” Josh moaned from the far end of the table. “I saw enough of your naked ass growing up; I don’t need to imagine what it looks like now.”
Jensen snickered. “Well, if y’all don’ wanna hear ‘bout my naked ass, I could always tell you ‘bout the time Zorro, here,” he patted Jared on the chest as he spoke, “shook his all night long.”
Jared sobered all too quickly at those words. He reached over and clenched his fingers tightly into the meat of Jensen’s right thigh, causing the other man to flinch. Jensen’s mouth suddenly snapped shut as the vice-like grip cut through the haze of alcohol.
Jeff choked on whatever he was eating or drinking at that particular moment. The ketchup on Josh’s fry dripped down and splattered on the table in front of him as he stared at the two of them and Meg’s and Mack’s eyes were wide. (Okay, maybe Meg’s not so much since she already knew Jared had been up on stage before.)
Jeff’s face split with an ear-to-ear grin. “Jay, tell me you didn’t. No fuckin’ way. You?”
Jared felt the heat of embarrassment blossom up his neck and reach the tips of his ears. “I—”
“Was it before or after that other time?” Megan so helpfully threw in.
“Meg!” Jared shouted with a scowl. “You promised.”
“What? Your husband just outed you. I only asked a question.” But she knew exactly what she was doing. That Padalecki smirk was lifting the corner of her lips.
Jensen looked at Jared, guilt coloring his features even more than the liquor. “Sorry,” he mouthed with a slight grimace.
Jared had known, since that very first night, that it was only a matter of time before his time on stage got out. He also knew Jensen hadn’t let the cat out of the bag on purpose. He shrugged at Jensen letting him know it wasn’t that big of a deal; Jared could weather whatever ridicule was going to now be aimed at him—but he still braced himself for the upcoming onslaught.
“Meggie? You knew?” Jeff looked at their sister.
She cracked a smile. “I always know more than you, Jeffy.” She poked his chest with her index finger punctuating each of her words.
“Fine. Y’all wanna know?” All eyes turned back to Jared. “Yeah, I’ve danced once or twice.”
“This, I gotta hear.” Jeff sat back in his seat, arms draped over the back of the booth, and waved Jared on with the flick of a hand. “Tell all, little brother—and I’ll know if you leave something out.”
“It really wasn’t that big of a deal—”
“It was when I broke my foot,” Jensen cut in. “Jared covered for me.” He was sounding pretty damn sober now, too. Apparently, he felt this was his wrong to right and was trying to shut things down before they got started, but Megan wasn’t about to let it go so easily.
She leaned forward over the table. “But you broke your foot months after I saw that picture.”
“Shut up, Meg,” Jared growled. He really didn’t need her adding kindling to the fire.
“So, this is a thing then,” Jeff simply stated after observing the words being traded between his younger siblings, a smile still resting on his lips. “How many times does a ‘once or twice’ really mean?”
Jared squirmed under the scrutiny of four pairs of eyes, two sets of hazel and two sets of green. “Uh…” He rolled his bottom lip in and chewed on it; he couldn’t believe he was going to actually fess up to Jeff…and Meg…and Mack…and Josh. “Five, I think.”
“Five?" Jeff whistled. "Do Mom and Dad know? Wait, does Misha know?”
“No. And no, Misha doesn’t know. I only missed a little time from work last month.”
Jared hoped his business partner was still in the dark; although, he’d seen suspicion in those liquid blue eyes on an occasion or two. The man was just way too smart at times, scarily so. If Misha ever found out, everyone in the office would know. Jared might as well advertise it on a billboard right on the side of I-35.
A quiet voice broke into the mix then.
“Holy shit. You two…” Mackenzie pointed at Jared and Jensen. “You two were up on stage together for the anniversary thing.”
Jared looked at Mackenzie, jaw dropping. How had she been able to come to that conclusion so quickly and with so little to go on? The others looked at her, too. No one said a word, but Jared didn’t have to guess what they were all thinking, that he’d been popular enough to get his ass (no pun intended) voted back on stage for such a big event.
At the same time, Jensen’s head fell to the table with a dull thud. His shoulders were shaking and Jared had a fairly decent idea that his husband wasn’t crying. When he lifted his head, Jensen looked at Jared, thumbs wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes.
“This—this is just… Jared, I’m so sorry. If you want me to sleep on the couch for the next month, I won’t blame you.”
Jared picked up his beer and drained what was left of it; he flagged the waitress down for another one. There wasn’t enough liquor in the world to hide him from his siblings…blood-related or in-law.
“I wanna hear about the Zorro thing,” Josh chipped in, seemingly all too interested now.
Jared groaned. This subject obviously wasn’t going to be dropped anytime soon. “That was your brother’s idea,” he told Josh.
“Hey, you’re the one who called me, remember?”
“Well, I couldn’t just go out on stage with Samantha and all the girls from the accounting department there…”
Jeff chuckled and shifted in his seat. “You mean Ferris? She was there?”
Jared just rolled his eyes at his brother. “Yeah. Found out five minutes before I was due on stage…”
“This just keeps gettin’ better and better,” Jeff teased.
“Dude, what the hell am I gonna do? I can’t go out there! They’re all here!” Jared ran his free hand through his hair gripping it tight between his fingers. This had been a mistake thinking he could do this.
“Calm down, Jared. Breathe, sweetheart. You’re gonna be all right.”
Jared took a deep breath and then blew it out. He felt his anxiety slowly slipping away, Jensen’s words calming him.
“Now, you know my trunk in my dressing room?”
“Well, I think I might have something that can help. Go open it up.”
Jared crossed the room and knelt down in front of the antique, wooden chest. He opened the latch and lifted the lid.
“Okay. What am I looking for?” he asked as he peered into it. There were old show flyers, bits of loose material, and a variety of costume accessories inside.
“It should be just under the scarves on the right.”
Jared moved the scarves aside, fully ignoring the silken material as it slipped through his fingers and what he imagined it would look like on Jensen’s fair skin, when he saw it.
“You found it?”
“Yeah. But, you want me to go out there dressed as…Zorro?” Jared picked up the black mask and looked at it and then he eyed the cape that was neatly folded beneath it. He couldn’t believe he was even considering this.
“Well, you don’t really have any other options now, do you? Don’t worry; you’ll look great.”
Jeff snorted. “And they never figured out it was you?”
“As far as I know, no.”
None of the girls had ever said anything about it; although once or twice he’d caught one of them eyeing him as he’d passed through the office. Jared had pawned it off as a figment of his imagination. He hoped that’s all it was anyway.
A high-pitched squeak came from the other side of the table. Jared’s eyes snapped over to his sister. She was looking down at her phone. Oh, no. His mind instantly flashed back to that night when he’d brought Megan to Prime, the last time she’d made that same obnoxiously excited noise.
Mackenzie leaned over, shoulder knocking with Megan’s. “Oh, my god!” She covered her mouth with her hand; her eyes shot up to Jared for the briefest of seconds.
Jeff reached over and easily snagged the device from his inebriated sister with one of his big hands. He stared at whatever Meg had pulled up.
“Meg, you didn’t…” Jared narrowed his eyes at his sister.
“Oh, she did, Jared. Or should I say, Zorro?”
Jeff flipped the phone around and Jared blinked at the picture of himself all decked out in the black mask, knee-length cape, dark boots, and not a whole hell of a lot more. Someone had run the photograph through a black-and-white filter and he looked pretty damn good if he did say so himself.
He smirked. “At least I look hot up there.”
Jensen had been quiet for the last few minutes, but now he barked out a laugh. Clearly, the alcohol was still running rampant through him. “Damn right you do.”
“And that comin’ from his Tonto,” Josh deadpanned.
Both Jensen and Jared looked at each other, a whole conversation running between them in that brief moment. They were each holding back their laughter; Jared could see the quiver of Jensen's lips.
They turned as one back to Josh.
"That's the Lone Ranger, jackass!" they shouted in unison before pelting Josh with all the ammunition they had: fries, nachos, and potato skins.
A sizeable tip was in their waitress’ near future.
~ Fin ~