Chris and Mike sit at the rosewood dining table across from Jared. Their latest respective arm-candies have been conveniently sent off for a relaxing and rejuvenating day at the spa. All expenses paid for by the CW, of course.
Jensen stands at their beautiful kitchen island whipping egg whites with half an eye watching his boy. Tom and his wife Jamie are helping him get brunch ready, stealing kisses every time they cross each other and not as discretely as they probably think. Jensen would find it sweet if he wasn’t used to the loving couple’s antics already. Besides, Jared is all he can think about right now. All he is worried sick about.
Chris taps his feet on the floor, quite audibly at that, still trying to take it all in. Michael got to know last night along with Tom and Jamie, and since he’s had time to process it, he looks like he’s almost aching to reach out and… do something, squeeze Jared’s hand, hug him maybe… not that Jared looks like he’d allow it. And Jared, Jared just sits there, spine straight, broken hands resting in his lap. Watching the game on TV for the most part but whenever he does look at Chris once in a while, he looks him in the eye, as if challenging him to react. Say something. Anything.
The old Jared would have spent the enforced, awkward silence fidgeting, shaking both knees near-violently, sighing and pouting pathetically, making weird-ass faces regardless of whether anyone was watching or not. The old Jared would have started whining after half a minute about how he couldn’t stand the freaking suspense and could they just get it over with and eat already? The old Jared would have been a complete and utter pest about it even as he relished the multiple spotlights, seeing how he practically thrived on attention and wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he was ignored.
‘Course, the old Jared isn’t here anymore.
Jensen swallows bitterly and turns away, focuses on his mom’s recipe for French toast that Jared loves. Least the old one did.
“Wow…” Chris is the one that starts.
Tom and Jamie pull away from each other but instead of turning towards the table, they both look at Jensen.
Chris stretches his arms up and behind his back. “Well, about time you got yourself some war wounds, son.”
Jensen shakes his head, and Tom looks pissed already.
Michael clears his throat. “I’m just glad you’re okay, Jay.”
Jared nods at him. “Thanks.”
“Scandal like this could either kill your sissy little show, or turn it into a fucking legend. How did you guys manage to keep it out of the papers this long?” Chris asks, genuinely curious.
When no one else responds, Michael decides to supply an explanation. “Well, you know the story that went out instead. The network managed to pull some strings with the Canadian authorities to hush it all up, pass it off as a tragic accident or something. Those girls were actually twin sisters, and minors. Parents are rich and politically connected with their own reputations at stake. They were more than happy to play along in exchange for clemency, I guess.”
Another few minutes pass in more uncomfortable silence. Jamie is barely breathing and Jensen rubs her shoulders briefly as they cross paths.
“So you guys told Tom and Jamie and Rosie here last night, but waited until today to tell me, why?”
Jensen gives Christian the look. Kane is one of his best friends, they have so much in common and their friendship goes way, way back, before he even knew anyone else in this room. Which is precisely why he knows how tactless and abrasive Chris can be.
“I thought I was the best friend,” Chris sulks.
“Oh for fuck’s sake…” Tom starts but Jensen puts a hand on his arm. Welling and Kane have never gotten along, ever. And just like Chris happens to be Jensen’s best friend, Tom happens to be Jared’s close and extremely protective buddy, the guy Jay runs to when he needs to get away from the Supernatural crew. Or Jensen – when they fight.
“Stop griping like the old man you are, Kane. You flew in yesterday and we thought you might be, you know, tired or jetlagged…”
“I flew in from Oregon.”
“Alright fine, besides…” Jensen looks at Jared, who is still just… sitting there. Jensen barely mumbles the next part, “It ain’t my thing to tell,” before turning back to his eggs. He feels Jared’s eyes burn into the back of his neck just for a second, and then it’s gone.
Chris seems to accept that, but he isn’t done yet. “So, who were they? Dean girls or Sam girls?”
“Christian…” Jensen calls out softly, warningly. And the country singer turned actor smirks.
“Dean girls then?”
Nobody confirms or denies it. And truth is, no matter what the facts are Kane will find a way to twist them to suit the joke he’s about to crack and that only he would find funny.
Chris smirks. “What… they thought they were helping Dean out? Do the right thing since Dean is too much of a sissy little wimp to do it himself?”
Surprisingly, Jared supplies the answer this time. “Something like that.”
“Huh, look how easy that was! And I don’t even watch your crappy show.”
Jensen wants to add, ‘neither do we’ but keeps his trap shut and waits for Jared to field it instead.
“So you got jumped by two seventeen year old girls?”
Tom is looking really agitated now. “Kane, just…”
“And they were working as PAs on your set all week?”
Jamie shushes her husband quietly.
“And no one noticed? Sonofabitch. Looks like WB’s really sliding down the value chain, son. Least we had better than suck-ass security back on Angel.”
“Good thing you’re on TNT now.”
Atta boy, Jensen thinks, and tries hard not to snigger at the sheer nonchalance in Jared’s voice. He hands over the milk and eggs mix to Jamie to let her do the rest while he goes over to chop up the strawberries. Least that way he’ll be facing the table instead of away from it.
Chris narrows his eyes at Jared, as if interrogating him. “And this happened where?”
Michael exhales loudly, “He just told you, man. At the wrap party, can we just drop it –“
Chris ignores the interruption like it never happened. “And how drunk were you exactly?”
Jared stares right back. “Very.”
A couple of seconds pass in peace and just when Tom is about to start breathing again, Chris turns toward them. “And where were you, man?”
Jensen puts the knife down calmly. He’d rather not serve up his own finger for brunch today. “I was at the airport, on my way back to LA.”
Deliberately, resolutely, Jensen keeps his eyes away from Jared when he says that. Chris nods like he’s deliberating over the facts, spacing out for a bit and then just as suddenly snaps out of it.
“So, can we see ‘em?”
Tom loses it then. “For fuck’s sake, Kane, you realize the plasters won't come off just to satisfy your curiosity, so can you just stop being an asshole already?”
“What? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who’s curious!”
“Come on, it could be kinda cool man, I actually wanted to get a tattoo done just like that…”
The comment is plainly tuned out by everyone at once. Michael gets up from the table in disgust and comes over to the kitchen area.
Jensen finally gathers enough courage to look at Jared then, only to find absolutely no change in the blank expression on his face. He might as well still be in that cold Vancouver hospital room sedated to his eyeballs, the way he’s been acting all day today.
Brunch is delayed by about an hour because Jensen and Jared sleep in these days and once they do wake up Jensen tends to Jay first, before anything else, and because Tom is really no help in the kitchen other than boiling water. Thank God Jamie came over earlier today and ended up handling most of it herself. The men help set the table, it’s the least they can do, and place Jensen right next to Jared, as always.
“Everything looks great, James.” It’s the first thing Jared says today that’s not an answer to someone’s question and Jensen rejoices silently. James is Jared’s nickname for Jamie. At first it was only meant to draw a pitchy annoyed reaction out of her, but then it stuck and now Jamie doesn’t mind it herself. Hell, she might actually like it.
“Thank you, sweetie. I hope it turned out okay and…” Something occurs to her then and Jamie frowns. “Jay, your hands, how are you going to…?”
Jensen walks up to the table, “Don’t worry James, I got it.”
Chris looks around their luxurious suite and through the glass doors to the attached terrace. “Where is your nurse or, uh, medical person?”
“Whoever’s taking care of Jay?”
Jensen shrugs. “I’m taking care of Jay.”
Chris laughs like a joke was cracked or something. And then he looks at Jensen’s solemn face and stops abruptly. “You’re serious?”
Jensen ignores Chris and instead watches Jared lower his eyes back into his lap and leave them there, sitting as still as a statue. His heart aches because he knows this is not easy for Jared, as proud and hurting as he is. And it is only about to get harder, doing what they are about to do in front of his friends. Correction – in front of Chris.
They help themselves to the food and Michael starts off with a story about his latest girlfriend and a disastrous shopping trip, which keeps everyone engaged for a while. Even Chris participates, pitches in with his stories of Christmas shopping nightmares.
Jensen serves up a little of everything on a plate – the French toast that he made and is super proud of, shrimp salad, the sausages Tom spent ages browning, Jamie’s heavenly Italian egg bake, mini cream cheese and olive (and some sneaked in ham) sandwiches, fresh fruit with three large dollops of whipped cream on top, and hash browns. He skips the mimosas since Jared’s still on strong meds and pours two glasses of OJ for the both of them, pulls his chair closer to Jared and twists it around so he is facing him more than the others.
By that time everyone else is in the middle of an argument, something about where the name Poor Boy Sandwich came from, and hardly paying the two any attention. Jensen zones them out, gladly, focuses completely on Jared.
Jared stares at the loaded fork held out for him for awhile. When he raises his head to look at Jensen, he makes the older man’s heart ache like a bitch. That lost look has no place in those beautiful brandy eyes, Sam’s maybe, sure. But not Jared’s.
“I’m not hungry,” he whispers, so softly no one but Jensen hears it.
“That’s a physical impossibility, Jay. Besides, look, it’s mama Ackles’ fruity French toast!” Jensen tries brightly, even though his voice is nothing more than a whisper himself.
Jared just stares at the fork emptily.
“Come on, I slaved all morning for this, least try it and tell me how it is?”
Jared swallows, and taking one self-conscious look at the rest of the group, he turns to Jensen, opens his mouth and lets Jensen feed him a bite of the toast soaked generously in maple syrup. There is something incredibly soft and surreal about this moment – just like every moment they’ve spent together since… well, here in Pebble Beach. Every moment has been a revelation in and of itself. Jensen never thought he could be a good caregiver before and he suspects Jared is surprised too. The punk always thought of Jensen as being too laidback (read: too lazy) and kind of slightly, if not entirely, self-absorbed.
He continues to fork more bites of food into Jared’s mouth, and even though it’s slow going and Jared doesn’t seem to be as enthusiastic about Jensen’s cooking today as he usually is, Jensen feels a tiny sense of accomplishment every time Jared opens his mouth for him. Soon as the thought occurs to him, Jensen can’t stop himself from grinning. If he’d said it out loud, that would have come out a lot dirtier than he intended it to be.
“That’s it, just a couple more bites, baby.”
Jensen wipes the corner of the younger man’s lips with a napkin. To his absolute surprise, his gentleness is rewarded with Jared suddenly looking up and right at him. For a moment, Jensen sees a flash of the old Jay flickering in those eyes. It’s a moment in which all seems right with the world… just the way it should always be.
“OH MY GOD… you’re fucking him aren’t you???”
Christian Kane, ladies and gentlemen.
Jensen sighs deeply before putting the fork down, and turns to his childhood friend whose face has just about turned red with part mortification and, evidently, a whole lot of revulsion. Jensen fixes him with a hard look but feels no need to justify himself, or what he and Jared share.
Everyone around the table falls eerily quiet.
A second later Chris stands up, pushing away from the table and looks around at the rest of the group. His frown further deepens, if that were even possible. “You all know, don’t you? How… what… oh my fucking Jesus! You all knew?”
Michael simply smirks up at him. Tom’s eyes worriedly flit between Jared and Chris, clearly more interested in Jared’s well-being than Chris’ newest spectacle. Jamie just bites her lip and pushes the eggs around on her plate.
Chris goes after Jensen first. “How long?”
“Sit down, man, finish your –”
“How fucking LONG, Ackles?”
Jensen sighs. “Four years.”
“Four –? What the fuck!!”
Chris turns his eyes to Jared then and the expression on his face is just short of murderous. Jensen sighs and tries to put himself in Christian’s shoes to understand what he must be feeling – shock, obviously, and also betrayal, because he thinks he knows Jensen. Jensen doesn’t have the heart to tell Chris that he never did. Not really.
Jensen puts an arm around Jared’s chair, draping it over his lover’s shoulder. He suspects he needs the contact more than Jared does. The younger man hasn’t bothered to react at all, neither physically nor verbally. He just looks up at Chris having his ridiculously unwarranted freak-out, and now that Jensen looks a little closely, Jared does look kind of … entertained, actually.
“Just because you look like a couple of fags doesn’t mean you have to turn into one, for fuck’s sake!”
Jensen doesn’t bother to hide the pain he feels at those hurtful words, but he still doesn’t respond. This is why he never told Christian before. The self-professed cowboy continues to rant poisonously.
“And I think this qualifies as ‘your thing to tell’, Jensen, doesn’t it? Then why am I the last one to find out again?”
Jensen opens his mouth, not quite sure what to say. But the words that follow come from the man sitting next to him instead.
“Because you’re a dumb redneck asshole, that’s why.”
There is a stretch of utterly stunned silence in which everyone’s jaws drop and they just stare at Jared. Including Jensen.
Jared’s expression is one of mild amusement, and a hint of smugness that is more malicious than the old Jared could have ever been capable of.
Christian Kane practically snarls at the younger man. When he speaks his voice is harsh and dripping with viciousness. “Beats being a fucking faggot who lets a bunch of psycho bitch fangirls jump him and turn him into a fucking anti–”
“ENOUGH!” Jensen yells from across the table and stands up so fast, his chair topples back to the floor.
“This is why I never told you, Chris. Because you’re still blinded by your prejudices and I’ve put up with ‘em for years now but I can’t anymore. You gotta leave, man. Now.”
Chris looks genuinely affronted. “Jenny, don’t tell me you’re going to choose him over me?!? For God’s sake, you’re not gay, I know you, I’ve known you practically all your life! It’s him. It’s his fault – this little cocksucker is fucking with your mind, son.“
For a few seconds, Jensen hears nothing but a screechingly painful ringing in his ears that drowns every other sound in the universe. The kind that fills your head and stays there for hours after you’ve been boxed around in a fight until you can’t walk or see straight. The kind that made Rocky Balboa go loopy in the head, or so he imagines.
“Get out,” He rasps at last. “I don’t ever wanna see your face again.”
Christian’s face turns a scarlet red and he stares Jensen down for a few seconds. “You don’t mean that.”
Jensen considers it a rhetoric. Still, Christian waits for a response (a retraction, an apology, whatever) that never comes, then turns to look at Jared instead. And starts to open his mouth to say something to Jared…
Jensen charges him this time, only for the quick-thinking Tom to grab him from behind, encircling his shoulders with strong arms even as Jensen vehemently struggles to break free. “Don’t you fucking dare, you sonofabitch! You so much as look at him and I’ll fucking gouge your eyes out with my bare hands, you fucking piece of–“
“Jensen, stop it!!” Tom yells right in his ear. Then he turns to Kane. “Get out of here. Now! Go!”
Christian doesn’t need to be told twice. He leaves in a rage that Jensen knows isn’t going to abate anytime soon. Kane and he have had hundreds, if not thousands, of arguments both verbal and physical over the years. But even as they fought, they always knew they’d make up eventually. Like two brothers who grow up together, they’ve always managed to find their way back to each other. Eventually.
Eventually just might last more than a few lifetimes this time.
When Jensen is let go at last, he fixes his sweatshirt riding up his torso before he turns to look at Jared. Regret turns to panic that Jared might be too upset and possibly more traumatized by the show of violence they just put up. But the man still looks… unmoved, unflapped. Fact there is still that tinge of amusement on his face that completely takes Jensen aback.
“Can I have more egg bake, please?”
“That’s all he said.” Jensen lies on his back on the couch, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his palms.
“Can I have more egg bake?” Kyra repeats.
“Yes! That’s FUCKING it!! Coulda asked for more French fucking toast at least but no…”
And Jensen gets up and starts pacing again. Kyra has never seen him lose his cool like this before. There seems to be a whole lot more here than the actor is letting on.
“So let me get this straight… you invited this friend of yours over and told him about the attack, knowing Jared wasn’t comfortable with it?”
“Well, he would have seen us around in Pebble Beach and asked anyhow. We couldn’t possibly avoid him forever.”
Kyra squints as she thinks. “So, you called him over and told him yourself.”
He pauses to look at her, now rubbing his sweating hands on the flanks of his denim jeans. “What?”
“You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
Least Jensen looks guilty enough at that. He walks over to the ocean-facing window and lights another cigarette. Doctor Sedgwick sighs – she had a massive showdown with her husband when he smelled smoke on her clothes the other day. She’s so totally going to resist temptation today. No matter what.
“I thought,” Jensen starts, and sighs, and stops. Then he starts again. “Look, I know he can be an asshole, alright? But I can usually rein him in when he starts to overstep the line. And I just thought he might be able to provoke Jay enough to… to…”
“To what? Explode? Let it all out somehow?”
“But Jared didn’t crack. Didn’t even bat an eyelid, and instead you were the one who lost it. So much that you practically strangled your own best friend?”
Jensen looks sheepish but not nearly enough. “Yeah well, I know Kane’s kind of old-world but I wasn’t expecting him, my best friend, to be a fucking bigot to me. Was kinda hoping he’d make an exception for me, actually.”
Kyra blinks. “Chris? Kane? Like from the band, Kane?”
Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God!
Jensen narrows his eyes at her. “You’re not gonna go fangirl and flip out on me, are you?”
Doctor Sedgwick draws a deep breath and gathers herself. “Not at all. I’m a professional, Mr. Ackles. Which, by the way, reminds me that you are not. You shouldn’t have tried to provoke Jared, and unsupervised at that! What if you’d caused a bad reaction and made things worse?”
Jensen looks miserable, and Kyra really didn’t mean to hurt him, but it’s the truth.
“I didn’t know what else to do, okay? Nothing else seems to work! You have to see him, Doc, he’s not himself anymore… he’s numb and cold and shuttered…”
“You know what, that’s a very good idea. Why don’t you bring him along next time you come, hmm?”
Kyra stands up, signaling the end of the conversation. Jensen immediately tenses. “Wait, wh-where you going? We still got half an hour left.”
Kyra sighs. God, if this man weren’t so fucking gorgeous she’d have kicked him out four days ago. She sits back down again.
“Would you like me to be honest, Mr. Ackles?”
Kyra rolls her eyes. “No, Mr. Ackles. There is no ‘duh’ about it. I need you to think about this carefully.”
Jensen drags a long one on his cigarette, and finally stubs it out in the ashtray before walking back to the couch. He sits down on it and leans forward. Kyra knows her body language and she likes what she sees. Nodding in approval, she leans forward too and rests her hands on the desk.
“You’re so tormented by Jared’s silence because you think he’s mad at you, Jensen. And he probably is, but let’s put that aside for now and focus on the big ticket item first, okay?”
“And what is this big ticket item again?”
Jensen uses the quoty fingers again. She hates it when he uses those quoty fingers. That’s why she is going to relish the crestfallen look on his face when she utters the next few words.
“It is your guilt, Mr. Ackles.”
Okay, so maybe she didn’t enjoy that so much after all.
“You’re projecting your own guilt at Jared and I am not sure I know what you feel so guilty about.”
Jensen squirms in his seat. “I told you, those bitches were my fans who…”
“Who were freaking lunatic, but how is that your fault?”
He laughs shortly. “Is that a medical term, lunatic?”
“It is now. Tell me something, if the situation were reversed, if a bunch of – what did you call them – Sam-girls had attacked you and hurt you, would you hold Jared responsible for it?”
Jensen gulps visibly. “Of course not.”
Kyra lets a short silence settle in at that point. Silence is highly underrated, from what she’s observed. Personally she doesn’t mind it at all. It is desperately needed at times to process and interpret and find balance under a barrage of conflicting thoughts. Jensen seems happy to play along, stretching out on the couch again and turning his face towards the ocean view. It relaxes him, she notices.
She hates to disturb his peace, but she needs to. “Why do you feel guilty, Jensen?”
Jensen does not turn toward her, but he talks. “That night, we sort of… fought. Well, had an argument. Just before the wrap party.”
“I left for LA, knowing he didn’t want me to. Knowing he wanted me to stay, just for the night. But I couldn’t…”
“Because you had to go meet your girlfriend Danneel’s parents.”
Jensen frowns and turns to her. She shrugs apologetically. “Sorry, had to do my homework somehow. It was on a fansite. Livejournal something.”
“Figures,” he scowls, not so benignly, and Kyra feels a compulsion to explain.
“I’m not saying I believed everything that’s written about you guys. But from your reaction I’m guessing this one is close. It’s said you never made it to the meeting and that’s why you and Danneel might be, erm, breaking up? I’m sorry… is it true?”
Jensen looks miffed but he doesn’t verbalize it. “We’re still together, not breaking up, no.”
“And the engagement, that’s still on too?”
Jensen nods curtly.
Things are getting clearer. Kyra sighs deeply, her heart aching for the man stretched out before her, and for the younger man who’s been traumatized for no fault of his, by circumstances completely out of his control.
“It wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were… are best buds. The kind with, you know, fringe benefits?”
Of course. Kyra had guessed that a long time ago.
“And we really, really, really care for each other. But it wasn’t like… I mean, we’ve always seen other people. That was allowed. He’s had his share of flings and engagements. And he’s always known I’m with Danneel, for seven years now by the way, and we plan to get married. No strings attached, that was the deal.”
Kyra reads between the lines. “So, you guys never thought of this… arrangement, as a commitment, or even a relationship.”
“Well, no. We always knew it would end when the series did.”
He gulps. “I guess… the implications are… not just limited to us you know, it will affect our families, our careers…”
“You don’t sound all that convinced.”
He looks away then. For a Hollywood actor and a critically acclaimed one at that, his face is a precise and painfully true reflection of his turmoil within.
“Why did Jared not want you to go to LA?”
Jensen rubs his eyes with his hands again, tends to do that as a defense mechanism or something, like a little kid.
“He knew what you were going for, didn’t he? He felt you slipping away, the deal you talked about suddenly coming to fruition earlier than he’d expected. And maybe it struck him then. Maybe, it didn’t seem enough to him anymore…”
And still Jensen doesn’t react.
“What about you, Jensen? Was it enough for you? Is it?”
Minutes pass before Jensen finds the words to answer, and it is unlike anything she has ever heard or could ever have expected to hear.
“You know, sometimes Jay can be such a kid. Like, there is this story that… that he loves to hear from me, over and over again. I must have told it to him a hundred times at least. Do you know the story of the rock and the wave, Doc?”
“Why don’t you tell me?”
He sits up a little for a change. “It’s an old, old story, older than we are. There is this rock, standing tall, strong and unmoving on a shore somewhere, right, let’s say the island of Ibiza. And there is a beautiful, elegant, totally desirable wave in like the Mediterranean Sea, alright?”
Kyra purses her lips and leans back into her chair. This is clearly going to take a while.
“The wave is totally in love with the rock. She foams and swirls round the rock, she kisses him day and night. She embraces him with her white arms, and caresses him, she sighs and weeps and beseeches him to come to her.”
Kyra inhales sharply, losing herself in the hypnotic cadence of Jensen’s voice and words.
“The rock resists, refuses to yield because after all, that is his nature. To resist. He must stay strong and not give into temptation, but the wave is persistent and obsessed and refuses to give in. She loves him and storms about him and breaks herself apart around him and against him over and over again. And in that way, wears him down slowly and slowly, until one day he succumbs, completely undermined. He breaks away from the shore, from everything he’s ever known and believed in, and sinks into the depth of her arms.”
Jensen pauses, looking away toward the ocean again. Kyra swallows, but waits.
“Suddenly, things change. He is no longer a rock to be played with, to be challenged or intrigued by. He’s no longer the rock to be loved or dreamed of. Only a block of stone at the bottom of the sea, drowned in her. The wave rages and tears all night but she doesn’t understand what happened. Disappointed and deceived, she flows away, looking for another rock.”
The pause this time lasts longer and it takes a while for Kyra to realize that he’s done. That’s… it. That’s the story. And now Jensen clearly expects some sort of… feedback. So Kyra provides him with the most obvious one.
“Guess he should have remained a rock.”
Jensen smirks, like he’s just won a little battle of wits against her that she wasn’t even aware they were fighting. “The wave always says that.”
Kyra sighs, wondering for the millionth time why men always end up complicating things that are not at all complicated. Against her better judgment she reaches for the box of cigarettes on her desk. What the hell, just one. Last one.
“You and Jared – you’re not all that different.”
Jensen scoffs. “No? He’s outgoing, I’m painfully reserved. He’s talkative, I’m socially inept. He’s optimistic and hopeful, I’m pessimistic and cynical. He has faith, I never stepped inside a church since I left my parents’ house back in ‘97… I could go on, you know.”
“You’re both in love with each other. You’re both too goddamn scared to admit it. You both rationalized your attraction to each other five years ago as something that was circumstantial and inevitable given your living and working situation. Now you’re both afraid to challenge the status quo, resisting the idea that it might have grown into something more. A whole lot more.”
Jensen looks away from her then, incapable of meeting her eyes anymore.
“You both think if you said it out loud, made it official somehow… it’d ruin this illusion of a life that may or may not exist after Supernatural. You’re both unsure of the consequences of taking such a drastic step and your own abilities to deal with them.”
Jensen gulps hard but neither agrees nor contests, clearly not ready to go there yet and Kyra decides not to push it. There’s a ton of other things they could talk about.
“Do you think Jared drank too much and lost control of himself because of the argument?”
“He didn’t have more than a couple beers in him,” Jensen responds, not an iota of uncertainty in his voice this time. “The girls, they… they got up to leave and called him out of the bar, away from the rest of the crew under the pretext of needing help getting their car out of the snow. He’d been chatting and hanging out with them all week. He thought he knew them.”
Jensen scoffs sadly, shaking his head. “Jay trusts way too easily, that’s his only weakness. After candy, of course.”
“What happened then?”
Suddenly Jensen winces, gulps and drags at his cigarette again. “Some other time. I don’t wanna talk about it. What did you think of my little story?”
Kyra stands up then and comes over to the couch, sitting down next to him at a professionally appropriate distance. He doesn’t even look at her.
“Maybe it’s time you started using actual words instead of monosyllables and rock-and-wave metaphors to communicate with him, Jensen.”
He flinches, and once again Kyra wonders if Jared Padalecki might actually be the saner one in this couple.
When he still doesn’t react, she puts a cautious hand on his shoulder. “How can you expect to help Jared talk about it if you can’t?”
Jensen looks at her then, his expression open and honest and so freaking vulnerable, it breaks her heart. She gives him a few moments to gather the courage he needs, to swallow the lump of whatever is stuck in his throat, straighten his spine and finally begin.
“I was at the airport, standing in the check-in line, wondering if I was doing the right thing or not, when I got the call. It was Cliff, our then – now ex – bodyguard. He sounded rushed, no, panicked, asking me if I knew where Jared could be…”
Jensen takes an especially long route back to the hotel, in a golden Merc convertible this time. He has a lot to think about, obviously… a lot of things to process and come to terms with.
Like the fact that even if he’d been around at the wrap party, there’s a very high likelihood the psycho bitches would have found some excuse or another to get Jared separated from him and everyone else. And the fact that if he really, really wants his old Jay back, then Jensen talking to a shrink can only help up to a certain point. Of course, Jared talking to a shrink might, but the younger man has made it pretty damn clear he’s going to do no such thing. Nothing to talk about, far as he is concerned. Stubborn little punk.
Which left only one recourse – that Jensen talk to Jared and draw it out… all of it, all the pain and the rage he’s been holding in – it’s like poison in his veins, slowly but surely sucking all his energy and personality out, stealing that bright sparkle of life from Jared’s eyes that Jensen misses so fucking much.
Jensen sighs and starts climbing up the stairs to go to his suite where he knows his lover (for now) is. Hopefully still napping. Jensen hates the idea of Jared waking up alone to an empty suite and wishes he didn’t have to go see the shrink thrice a week but all things considered, Doctor Sedgwick’s been a lifesaver.
He’s been needing to talk to someone or he would have self-combusted by now. Ironically, until two weeks ago, that used to be Jared’s personality type, not Jensen’s.
The first thing that he notices out of the ordinary is the missing bodyguards at the door to their suite. Jensen frowns and walks in, practically running to the bedroom where his worst fears seem on the verge of being realized.
Jared is not there.
He goes from one room to the next and then to the terrace and back, but no Jared. He flies out the door and down the steps to the reception with a mind to start yelling at the first living being he sees and that happens to be one of the new bodyguards, Joseph, chatting up the cute red-headed receptionist.
That does it.
“Good evening, Mr. Ackles! How can I…”
Jensen ignores her completely as he walks up to and gets right in Joseph’s face. “Where’s Jared?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Ackles, but…”
Jensen loses it then. “No, don’t be sorry, man, ‘cause that’s no use to me. Just tell me where he is.”
Joseph hesitates again, taking a slight step back.
“Tell me you didn’t just ditch him, Joseph. Tell me you didn’t let him walk out of here alone and unescorted because I swear to God if you did…”
He is about to reach out to grab the man’s collar when the receptionist suddenly blurts out a panicked interruption, “He booked an appointment at the spa!”
Jensen frowns, his hands stopping mid-air. “What?”
“Don’t worry, he has absolute privacy in there for the next two hours. And Trager is posted at the door, so he is perfectly safe.”
Despite her words, the girl looks nervous, and so does Joseph which doesn’t quite add up. Trager is their other bodyguard, also a new guy and Jensen doesn’t quite trust him as much yet. Joseph knows that too.
“Well, why didn’t you say so before?”
And that is when Joseph seems to find his spine. “I’m sorry, sir. Mr. Padalecki asked to not be disturbed while he is in there, so…”
What the fuck is going on?
“Where is this damn spa?”
They both guiltily look toward their left, to a giant domed hallway that Jensen knows goes toward the luxurious, open courtyard spa here at the Spanish Inn. The open side directly faces the ocean, the sound of the waves a calming natural element used wonderfully to create the perfect experience and Jensen’s been dying to try it out ever since they got here.
He frowns and takes a step back from Joseph, who still looks kind of shifty-eyed.
“Okay, so… if he is in there, what are you doing here, man?”
“B-because he asked for some privacy, sir.”
“And to not be disturbed,” the red-headed adds again which just makes Jensen more than a tad pissed.
Least they aren’t foolish enough to try to stop him. The hallway is long and high-ceilinged and snakes sharply towards the left. Toward the Pacific. Jensen makes it through to the other end in a few, long, deliberate strides to find another rustically designed door and Trager standing guard. Silently he nods at the man (who doesn’t try to stop him at all) and steps in through the door, into a majestic courtyard of the spa.
Expectedly, the place is deserted this time of the day, when the shadows are just starting to get longer. It is the off-season for golf anyway, and he wouldn’t be surprised if Joseph had the whole place booked exclusively for Jared, all thanks to the guilty conscience of a TV network. Less the crowd, less the chances of them getting stalked by fans they’d rather have absolutely nothing to do with right about now.
Jensen walks in a little further until he reaches the end of the courtyard, the ocean view threatening to distract him already. And that’s where he sees them.
There is a man lying face down on a massage table, completely naked from head to toe. Not even the standard white towel to cover his private area. Instead a white towel lies discarded on another smaller table nearby. The man has his face turned away, toward the ocean. His long, lean and beautifully toned body is prone, relaxed, and completely devoid of any self-consciousness. His clean white skin, peppered softly with tiny black moles, glistens in the paling sunlight, having recently been generously pampered with a combination of scented oils dribbled and polished and rubbed into every visible, touchable inch. The sheen only accentuates the ripples of his back muscles, the sinewy muscles in his arms, and especially the perfectly shaped, beautifully presented curvature of his butt.
Jensen finds himself unable to move, unable to speak… frozen in time and space, utterly captivated by the gorgeousness laid out before his eyes.
There are only two things that mar that perfect picture, the picture of his insanely beautiful boyfriend’s naked body. One – the palms, still swathed in white splint bandages and hanging uselessly off the sides of the massage table. And two – a giant, blond-haired, blue-eyed Nordic God wearing the uniform of a masseur hovering over the lower half of the table.
Jensen takes a deep breath and thinks maybe he should have waited upstairs like Jared had wanted him to. Meanwhile the masseur walks over to the side of the table, smiling down at Jared as they exchange a few words that Jensen can’t hear from this distance. And then, while Jensen is still wondering what to do next, the Viking slides toward the other end of the table, physically pulls and spreads Jared’s thighs apart, and places both his palms flat on the crest of Jared’s butt.
Jensen reflexively starts to move and the closer he gets, the clearer the sordid little details get. Right before his eyes, the Viking expertly dips two slicked up thumbs into the orifice of Jared’s butt, and starts to massage the canal enthusiastically. Right before his eyes, Jared twitches his toes and lifts his butt up into a perfect arch, appreciating the professional servicing of his body inside and out.
So it’s that kind of massage Jared booked.
“No. No. No…”
Jensen feels a hot surge of… something, burning up the pit of his stomach through his throat and to the ends of his ears. Only Jesus knows how he keeps his hands in his jeans pockets, clenched as they are into white-knuckled fists.
But why not? That’s the deal isn’t it? No strings attached, anyone can do anyone? And keeping up the public image all the time? Jensen and Danneel, Jared and… whoever’s the flavor of the month?
Course, Jensen’s never seen Jared opt for the dumb silver-blond beefcake flavor before.
Something’s changed. He sees it then. Jensen has changed.
He reaches the two at last, making enough noise with his sneakers to let them know that he’s approaching. He can sense and not just see Jared’s body tensing up, no longer pushing into the fingers fucking his ass, and for that Jensen is glad.
“Enjoying yourself, Jay?” He throws out, as casually as his years of acting experience enable him to.
Jared turns his face towards Jensen, after a second long pause, which is typically all he needs to slip his own acting mask into place. “I asked to not be disturbed.”
“I’m not disturbing, am I? Just thought I’d come say hi!”
Jensen grins, stupidly, he thinks. He even manages to nod a greeting at the giant Viking, whose perfectly manicured thumbs just stopped moving in and out of Jared’s little ass. The masseur steps back from the table demurely and picks up the towel to wipe his hands. Good for him, or Jensen would have had to sock his hospitable face in.
“Alright. Hi,” Jared says tersely. “Anything else?”
Jensen blinks. “N-not really.”
“Good!” And then Jared turns back towards the Viking. “Dietrich?”
Dietrich? Jeez, could this guy get any more cliché?
The masseur doesn’t look fazed in the least, and walks back towards the naked body stretched out between them. Jensen doesn’t know if he can watch this again, and he is about to start walking away, heart firmly lodged in the middle of his throat, when he catches Jared’s eye. And there is a glint of something in there that’s… Jensen can’t think of the words to describe it. But whatever it is, it’s the first expression of… something, anything really, that Jensen has seen on Jared’s face ever since he woke up in Vancouver City Hospital.
“Sorry Jay, I – I thought you’d sleep for a while longer so I…”
“- went for a walk. Sure. Whatever.”
Dietrich slicks up his hands again and dives right back in, eliciting a soft gasp from Jared and a softer one from Jensen that thankfully no one but himself notices. Jensen watches, spellbound, even as a large part of him longs to turn away in a hurry. He watches as Jared spreads his legs wider apart, letting the Viking finger fuck him like it was all in a masseur’s day’s work.
Jensen clears his throat. “Are you mad?”
Jared scoffs and looks away. “Why would I be mad?”
“Be-cause you woke up and I wasn’t there?”
“None of my business what you do on your own time, man. That’s the deal, right?”
Everything he and the therapist talked about today comes back into sharp focus. It makes Jensen want to reach out and take Jared into his arms, away from everyone’s prying eyes. And hands.
“You don’t have to lie to me, you know.”
Jensen starts. Jared turns to him again. “It’s alright if you went out to play golf, or met up with someone or whatever. Just don’t lie to me.”
Jensen sighs. “I’m sorry.”
Jared’s eyes dim just a tiny bit, clearly taking the apology as a confirmation of his worst… fears, possibly.
“I should have told you. I’ve been seeing Doctor Sedgwick.”
Jared frowns, and gasps too but Jensen suspects the Viking’s fingers have something to do with that one. “You’re dating a shrink?”
“What?” Jensen laughs and this time does manage to step closer to the table. It takes all his might to ignore the third man who now has one middle finger inside Jared while the other hand is rubbing oily circles into the crest of Jared’s ass cheeks.
“No, I’m not seeing seeing her, you moron! I’m… I’ve been… I just go to talk to her. Taking those sessions you signed out of.”
“Are you going to make him jack you off too?”
“I’m thinking about it.”
Jensen huffs, and decides to put an end to this nonsense. “Dietrich? Would you give us a minute?”
Dietrich, the perfect gentleman, smiles and easily removes himself… from Jared’s ass as well as the side of the table. He is about to walk off when Jared calls out again.
“Don’t go too far, Dietrich. Mr. Ackles will be leaving shortly.”
Damn it, stubborn bastard. Jensen grinds his teeth but other than that, doesn’t react. And now that Dietrich is some twenty yards away at the other end of the courtyard, he closes the distance until he is leaning against the massage table. Putting a hesitant hand in the middle of Jared’s slicked up back, he strokes the warmed skin there lovingly. Jared stiffens against the touch, clearly still waiting for a response.
“Jay, I… we haven’t talked like we used to in so long. You’ve noticed that, haven’t you?”
Jared just rests his head on the table, turning away to watch the ocean. Jensen doesn’t like that. He walks to the other side of the table so he can be in Jared’s line of sight again, and also see his face himself.
“You’re an expressive guy, you’re not meant to keep things bottled up.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Jensen.”
Jensen winces, his voice taking on a quality of urgency when he speaks next. “We have to talk it out, man. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure how to start myself, when have I ever, right? I mean, you’re usually the one who leads in that department, right? You’re the one with all the words…”
But since you aren’t doing it anymore…
“So I decided to try Doctor Sedgwick. See if she could advise me on how to help you.”
Jared smiles a little sardonically. “I don’t think that’s how therapy works, man.”
“Yeah, that’s what she keeps telling me.”
Jensen bends to plant a kiss at the back of Jared’s neck first, and then on the side of his mouth turned up towards him. He softly blows into an ear, which makes Jared quiver and Jensen smile. Yep, he’s still got it.
He straightens up, but can’t keep himself from touching the naked body, one hand buried in the longish mop of brown hair and the other scribbling nonsense with a couple of finger pads into a bony shoulder.
“You wouldn’t consider coming with me to– “
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“Besides, I don’t believe you.”
Jensen frowns. “Don’t believe what?”
“Come off it, man.” Jared props himself up on his elbows, careful to not put pressure on his hands. “We’re supposed to be on vacation in Pebble Beach – you wanted to do this ever since I’ve known you. And after five years, here you are, stuck with me on fucking hospice duty. I completely understand that you need to get away once in a while.”
Jensen doesn’t like where this is going. “But I like taking care of you…”
“I don’t want your charity, or your pity, okay?” Exhausted, Jared lies back down on the table. “Please go Jensen, have fun. Play golf, fuck someone or whatever.”
“I want you to! Make me feel less guilty, alright, so just go...”
And that’s when it really hits him – the subtle yet marked difference in Jared today. It’s his nostrils. Flaring with the effort of getting more words out at one time than he has all week, fuming with the effort of trying to keep everything else bottled inside.
Yep. Jared is definitely pissed. Jensen bites back a tiny victorious smile.
Jared sighs and turns his face away, waits for the older man to walk off. Jensen looks around and finds a clean roll of towel on the next table. He is smiling smugly as he pushes up his cotton button-up sleeves, goes to grab the towel and the open bottle of massage oil nearby, then comes back to stand where the Viking had stood not too long ago.
Jared starts when he feels two warm hands clasping his hips and lifting him up, then sliding the towel roll under his lower stomach.
“Wha-what are you doing?”
“Having my fun. Enjoying my vacation.”
Jared gasps as he is positioned so that his butt is perfectly propped up in blatant pornographic display. Before he can protest, Jensen wraps his left arm around the narrow waist. Holding the body close to himself, he slicks up two fingers with the massage oil and plunges them into the younger man’s orifice.
“Uh! Jensen, stop – ah!”
Despite the words, Jared’s back arches up, spreading his legs wider and pushing up into the intrusion shamelessly.
“I know baby, just let me do this for ya, okay?”
Jared doesn’t protest after that, not that verbal cues would matter, seeing how his body is already screaming affirmative loud and clear. Jensen bends down to lick the cleft of his ass now and again, and lets his left hand rub circles into Jared’s hips. Vaguely he wonders if the Viking poured the whole bottle of oil into his client, it is so slippery every pass of his fingers in and out of Jared elicits soft, wet slapping noises inside. After a while, he withdraws the digits and inserts a thumb instead, massaging the passage leisurely while with the tips of his long fingers, he strokes the back of the hairless balls, drawing concentric circles in the velvet-softness underneath. And that’s when Jared really moans.
“That’s it, Jay. Tell me you like this…”
“Touch me,” Jared manages to rasp lustily, lifting his hips off the table urging Jensen’s hand to move down to his shaft. “Jensen, please…”
Jensen knows that’s what has to come next for Jared, of course he does. How long have they been doing this again?
“No, not today…”
“What?” Jared frowns and looks back at Jensen with a thoroughly annoyed expression that Jensen absolutely adores. “Why not?”
Jensen shrugs. “’Cause I wanna have fun. That’s why.”
Jared groans and thumps his head down on the table loudly, which makes Jensen laugh. Slipping three fingers back in, he makes sure to brush up against the sweet spot only every now and then. Jared undulates his hips, trying to force a faster pace but Jensen tsks him every time and comes to a dead stop until Jared groans and wordlessly begs him to start again.
“I hate you, fucking asshole, I so hate you,” Jared whispers over and over, even as he deliberately rubs his erection against the towel under him and his face against the table. Jensen smirks and tickles his balls and the underside of his cock, teasing him but stopping just before getting to the good part.
“Jense… ah! Please… damn it! Is this the therapy your shrink suggested? Frustrate me to fucking death?”
Jensen chuckles, “Well, not to death…”
He lets several minutes pass them by, loving the silken feel of Jared’s ass contracting around his fingers, reaching as far and deep as he can and wishing he could do this forever. His own erection aches in the confines of his jeans and he rocks himself against the edge of the table. Damn it, if he’s teasing Jared, he’s damn near torturing himself too.
He watches as Jared’s toes curl up and his fingers twitch uselessly, worries he might try to ball his hands up into fists despite the splint holding them flat open, which wouldn’t be so good.
“Careful with the hands, Jay…”
“Aargh! You be careful, you fucking… short… fucker…”
Jensen chuckles again and this time withdraws completely. Jared tenses up and turns toward him. “No no no, I was kidding… keep going!”
“Shhh, relax, I ain’t going nowhere.”
Jensen removes the towel from under Jared, then slides up the table and puts his hands on Jared’s sides. He shoves gently until Jared gets the message and allows himself to be rolled over to his back. Jensen tries not to look at the remnants of the bruises on Jared’s ribs, picks up the bandaged hands and moves them down to his sides where they’d be safe. Where Jensen can catch them in time if needed.
When he bends and lowers his mouth over Jared’s, the younger man turns away, just a little. Of course. Jensen smirks again and licks his lips.
“Kiss me and I’ll let you come.”
Jared’s face is an alluring combination of blushing pinks and angry (read: furious) reds, and the way he narrows his slanted eyes almost exactly like when he morphs into evil Sam – Jensen swears those eyes will be the death of him some day.
Jensen tries again and when Jared moves his lips away again, the older man gives him an exasperated look, one that makes Jared smirk, feeling victorious in his endeavor to bug the hell out of Jensen. But it doesn’t last. Jensen casually flicks the weeping tip of Jared’s erection with a warm slick thumb. Jared gasps making it easier for Jensen to capture his mouth with his and this time Jared whimpers but gives in.
It’s heavenly, plain and simple. When they kiss, Jensen feels like he belongs, anchored to something meaningful and worthy and his. For the first time in a long while, he feels not adrift in a sea of his own regrets and failings. For the first time today, he stops ruing the things he should and shouldn’t have done, and instead focuses on this moment. This singularly perfect, heavenly, moment.
“Come for me, Jay.”
Jensen takes Jared’s shaft in his hands and starts to pump and coax a release out of him. This time it’s fast and rough and the real thing, just like Jared likes it and it doesn’t take long. He grunts near painfully when he comes, eyes nearly rolling up into his head for a couple of seconds as Jensen continues to work it all out of him, stroking and loving the shaft with a reverence he will never ever admit to Jared, not through words.
Jensen remembers this one time Jared described what his ‘happy place’ feels like – like his entire body is crackling with like a thousand watts of electricity, lit up like the evening sky on the fourth of July. Jensen suspects it’s probably an exaggeration, but he sure loves to be the one responsible for making Jared react like that.
“Jay? Back with me yet?”
A soft smile curls up the corners of Jared’s mouth, but he keeps his eyes closed.
“Good, we need to talk.”
Jared groans, “Seriously, Jensen, that line is getting really old. And irritating.”
“Fine, then let me do the talking, you just listen.” Jensen flips open the towel and drapes it over Jared’s middle, covering his private parts up, to keep himself from getting distracted. Then he stands leaning by the table and crosses his arms.
“Here are the rules, kiddo. We’re going to stop holing up in our royal fucking suite and we’re going to stop ignoring our friends who care about us.”
Jared scoffs, “Sure, ‘cause that went down so fucking well the last time.”
Jensen ignores the interruption. “And we’re going to start doing what we came here to do. Vacationing.”
At that, Jared holds his hands up in the air. “What do you think I was doing with Dietrich?”
Oh yeah. Dietrich. Jensen grinds his teeth but manages a plastic smile on the outside.
“Yeah about that, the deal’s off.”
Jared freezes. “What?”
“You heard me. We don’t get to fuck anyone else. Not anymore.”
The return of the blankness on Jared’s face isn’t lost on Jensen, like, at all.
“Is there something you’d like to say, Jay?”
“Like, maybe, how I can’t be making these decisions unilaterally? How I don’t have the right?”
Jared stays silent, and Jensen feels his heart sinking with the fear that they just took two steps back instead of forward. He exhales loudly and puts his hands back in his pockets.
“Well. I’ll take your silence to mean that you accept. I’ll see you upstairs. Try not to enjoy yourself too much, okay?”
Jared doesn’t stop him when he turns around and starts walking away. Dietrich is still standing guard right outside the doors along with Trager. With a quick nod of his head, Jensen gives the masseur the go-ahead to finish up. But something makes him linger, just as the Viking walks back in and it’s like they just swapped places – an unhappy Jensen on the outside this time. Petrified at the thought of what might be happening behind his back, he doesn’t turn. Just stands there, waiting. For what, he isn’t quite sure.
A cool ocean breeze floats his way, carrying the murmurs of a deep male voice from the other end of the spa. And just as Jensen figures the voice he heard definitely isn’t Jared’s, another voice, a slightly higher-pitched one, echoes through the courtyard.
Jensen grins. Curbing his first instinct to jump up and go yee-haw, he just nods at Trager who is busy biting back a knowing smile himself. Then he walks back up to their rooms to wait for Jared.