Title: Nothing but the Best
Pairing: J2, peripheral Jensen/Chris
Warnings: Angst, one use of the word "elitist" in an argument to cause hurt (and not a representation of the author's personal beliefs about the situation), which has caused offense in some readers
Author's Note: Written for the mpregbb challenge. I was lucky enough to be claimed by the absolutely wonderful bflyw, who did a phenomenal job illustrating my story. Go give her some love, people! Beta'd by the always-excellent topsyturvy and the wonderfully helpful renegadeangelz
Summary: Jared and Jensen have been trying to get out of their one-stoplight Texas hometown since they were kids, and when Jensen gets the chance, Jared won't let anything stop him from leaving, not even Jared himself. But when Jared finds himself in the situation of being that stupid teenager who realizes he's been knocked up after making the decision to throw his boyfriend to the curb, he has to decide what he's going to do with himself. Keeping it a secret seems like the best idea until two years later, when Jensen finally makes a reappearance and discovers something he wasn't expecting.
There are plenty of love stories that start with best friends and end with side-by-side tombstones surrounded by a throng of grieving great-grandchildren. In between there are weddings and other buddies and small cities where everyone knows everyone else. These are the kind of things middle-aged women love hearing about; Lifetime has made a small fortune marketing these tales.
This though? This has nothing to do with that.
Jared and Jensen grew up in the same spit-shined, tiny-ass, dust-covered Texas town. By virtue of the fact that there were maybe twenty boys their age, and half of them were world-class dicks, Jared and Jensen became friends over the same well-worn Superman action figure in the only park around. Jared’s dad had died and Jensen’s was gone, without so much as keeping Jensen in his rearview mirror, but despite the common ground, Jared’s mama and Jensen’s were barely acquaintances, making it coincidence that things turned out the way they did.
There’s a rule to living in their town: you never leave. Women grow up to marry people they went to kindergarten with and men work in the factory, coming home with callused hands and heavy eyes. It’s something you learn to expect growing up. Everything’s second-hand, the houses, the people, the clothing, and just because everyone knows everyone else’s business doesn’t make the community nice. Or happy.
The first time Jared kissed Jensen, he was scared to death. He’d just started eighth grade, and Jensen was a year ahead of him in another wing of the school. After classes let out, they were lazing in the same playground they’d become friends in when they were two and Jared just went for it. It was a stupid risk--Jensen was, and is, pretty much one of Jared’s only friends--but somehow, it worked out. Jensen kissed back, surprised at first and very inexpertly with the clash of their teeth and the too spitty meeting of their tongues, but somehow it was just how Jared thought it would be.
It keeps on working for four years, despite the fact that they’re young and a good number of people look down on them for it. Mama Ackles is accommodating, and it’s easy enough to avoid Jeff, Jared’s stepfather, when need be, and even though they have a fair number of stupid fights, it’s never enough to break them apart.
But Jared and Jensen are human of course, and humans have an unerring ability to fuck things up. And that’s exactly what happens. This ain’t Hollywood, baby, and this mess isn’t going to be swept under the rug by a few well-meant words and an over-the-top gesture.
In fact, this might not be fixable at all.
When Jared’s phone chirps, startling him out of his book with its loud ringtone, he almost considers not picking up. Jensen’s at work for the next couple of hours, and Chad went on a date with Kenzie last night, which means he’s chock-full of lurid details, and all Jared really wants to do is figure out who murdered Mary-Jo Hartley and why.
But he checks to see who it is anyway out of habit, and his brow furrows automatically as the digitalized display reads Jensen Home. He flips it open before it finishes ringing, and brings it to his ear, saying, “Hi, Mama Ackles.” He knows that Jensen wouldn’t have waited to get home before calling if he’d gotten off early, and it turns out that Jared’s intuition regarding his boyfriend is spot on.
“Hi, Jared-honey,” she replies, her voice crackling over the crummy reception. Jared is careful to stay close to the window so his crappy cell doesn’t drop the call.
“Jensen’s not here,” he says automatically. “He picked up an extra shift at the library.”
“I know, I know,” she responds, and she sounds bone-weary and weak. It makes Jared’s heart hurt a little, and he gnaws his lip in worry. “I actually wanted to talk to you.”
“Are you okay?” he blurts suddenly, cutting her off. “Do you need me to come over?”
She pauses for a second, the silence hanging on the line, before she sighs. “Might as well. It’s probably better to do this face-to-face anyways.”
“I’ll be right there,” he promises, and before she can answer, he’s already snapping his phone shut, hopping over the detritus strewn all over his floor, and skidding down the stairs. Jensen’s house is normally a fifteen minute walk, all the way on the other end of Cooper Street, but Jared makes it in seven, huffing as he takes the porch steps two at a time. He can’t remember the last time Mama Ackles called him without wanting to know where Jensen was, and he knows that she’s definitely never needed to talk to him alone before. Something about it is ominous and more than a little worrisome.
She pulls open the door before he has time to knock, standing there in a faded pink sweater, even though it’s April, and the weather has been warm for weeks. Her cheeks are a little sunken today, her skin papery. She isn’t wearing her scarf, and her hair is wispy, barely there, and for some reason, the sight of it makes a little hurt pang through Jared’s chest.
“You didn’t need to wear yourself out running here,” she admonishes lightly. “It’s not life or death.”
“Jensen said you had radiation today,” Jared says breathlessly. “I thought you were sick or something.”
Mama Ackles has been fighting breast cancer for going on nine months now, and entering her second round of chemotherapy. It’s just about breaking Jensen’s heart, and it’s all Jared can do to keep it together sometimes. Mama Ackles is like his second mother, has always been there when Jared needed her, and now that the cancer has metastasized, the doctors aren’t holding out hope that she’ll survive much longer. Just thinking about it is enough to make Jared nauseous.
“Come in, come in,” she says, stepping back so he can get through the door. “You and Jensen, I swear. Worrywarts, the two of you. It’s me who should be getting in a fuss over y’all.”
“You can’t blame me, Mama Ackles,” Jared says, toeing off his boots.
“I guess I can’t,” she admits, winding her way to the sofa and sitting down on it primly. Jared takes his usual seat in the armchair, sprawling all over it in a way he knows she doesn’t mind, and then he cocks his head at her.
“What’s this about?” he asks. “Why did you want me to come over? Not that I care or anything--you’re awesome to talk to. It’s just--a little weird without Jensen here?” He’s rambling, he knows, but something about the way she’s holding herself, determined but upset at the same time, is making him nervous.
“I’m dying, Jared,” she says, so matter-of-fact that Jared can’t help it when his mouth drops open.
“Don’t say that!” he says, his voice a tad too high, maybe a little hysterical. “You can’t just give up. That’s not okay!”
“We both know it,” she says. “And Jensen does too, even if he pretends he doesn’t. I’m trying to hang on, Jared, but I can feel my body failing.”
“You’re just hitting a rough spot,” Jared soothes, although he’s at a complete loss as to what to say to help the situation. “The chemo and the medicine. You’ll be better in a couple of weeks--I know it.”
“I won’t,” she says, and the finality of it makes Jared so mad in the next second that he’s not sure he’s capable of acting rationally.
“You’re just killing yourself faster by losing hope,” he snaps, standing up, his eyes suspiciously wet. “You can’t do that to Jensen.”
She looks like she’s about to cry too. “I don’t want to leave him, Jared. He’s my only boy. But I can’t help what God has planned.”
“Is that why you wanted to talk to me?” Jared demands “To prepare me? Is that what this is about?”
“Yes... and no,” she hedges, looking down at her hands, which are tangled together.
“What then?” he snarls, almost yelling, and if he wasn’t so angry, he’d be ashamed of himself.
“Jensen,” she says, her voice suddenly strong. “He got into Harvard.”
This derails Jared for a moment, and he has to take the time to gather his thoughts before he responds. “I know,” he says. “What does this have to do with anything?”
“And he’s thinking about not going. Even though he got a partial scholarship. Even though he’s the first kid from this town to get accepted in ten years.”
“Boston’s not very close. He’s just being practical,” Jared says, clenching his fists. “Mama Ackles, I don’t understand.”
“He’s doing it for you, honey,” she says. “He wants to go--of course he does--but you can’t follow him to Boston. And he knows it and he doesn’t want to leave you.”
Jared hears the conviction in her voice, slightly accusatory even if she is trying to be understanding, and he looks down at his shoes. “I don’t want to stop him from going,” he mumbles, wondering how exactly she managed to manipulate their prior thread of conversation into this.
“I know you don’t, honey. But that’s what’s gonna happen. And Jensen--he’s so smart. He doesn’t deserve to stay in this town forever. And neither do you, but that’s what’s gonna happen if he goes to a local college. You’ll never leave.”
Jared feels himself go red at that, shame pooling in his belly, sick and heavy. “I don’t want that. You know I don’t. I want him to be happy.”
“I know you do, honey,” Mama Ackles says, and she almost looks like she’s about to cry, now more than before. “I know. But I want him to have what I couldn’t, you know? I don’t want him to live here and work at the factory. He’s better than that.”
“I know,” Jared says softly.
“And so are you,” Mama Ackles cuts in sharply. “I’m not saying this because I don’t like you, Jared, honey--you know I love you. But you’re the only one he listens to anymore. Tell him to go. It’s just a year, and then you can follow him out. You’re smart enough to get into any college in Boston.”
Jared wants to laugh, just throw his head back until tears are running down his face, because sure, he does okay in school, and yeah, he kind of wants to go to college. But Boston? There’s no way he can make that happen, even if he does shoot for a community college or something. Jeff would never let him go and waste money like that, and Jared doesn’t have that kind of scratch on his own.
“I won’t let you down, Mama Ackles,” he says firmly, and he can swear he feels his heart breaking in his chest.
“I knew I could count on you, Jared,” she murmurs, leaning over so she can lay a hand on the back of his, grasping it with cold fingers.
Jared’s been staring up at his ceiling for about an hour when he hears Jensen sneak in through the back. He always thinks he’s so subtle, ducking in through the cellar and up the stairs when no one’s around, but even though he’s never gotten caught, Jared always knows when he’s coming.
He hears Jensen pause outside his door, waiting to make sure that Jared is alone as he always does, before he barges in. Jared appreciates the habit, especially now that his world’s been thrown on it’s axis, everything all-encompassing and too much to take in.
“Right where I left you,” Jensen teases, closing the door behind him and climbing onto Jared’s bed, kissing him hello. He obviously means it to be quick, probably has a story or two about his shift at the library, but Jared craves the contact, curving his hand around the line of Jensen’s jawbone, and pulling him closer. Jen doesn’t need the encouragement, because he’s all to eager to settle down, almost blanketed across Jared, kissing him back with slow presses of his tongue against Jared’s, sweet and familiar.
Jared lets it sink into an easy rhythm, opening his mouth and widening his legs so Jensen can fit between them, his weight a heavy comfort. Making out with Jensen never fails to make Jared light-headed, ready to keep Jensen forever, perfectly content to kiss until his lips go numb.
“Not that I’m complaining,” Jensen murmurs against Jared’s mouth when things slow down enough for them to get a word in edgewise, “but what brought this on?”
“Missed you,” Jared says, kissing Jensen again, a full-lipped peck that smacks comically.
Jensen immediately laughs, settling his face into the line of Jared’s neck. “Fucking sap,” he teases, but his hands, stroking up and down Jared’s sides, take the edge out of the insult, and Jared just arches closer. “It was only four hours.”
“I was bored,” Jared whines, and there it is--easier to pretend everything’s okay than it is to ‘fess up. It’s always been like this with Jensen, the feeling that nothing’s wrong, even before they started to go out, when they were just friends.
“Maybe you should work more,” Jensen says, shifting up a little on his elbows so he can look Jared in the face.
“Maybe some of us give our boyfriends the extra shifts because they know he needs the money for his fancy school,” Jared counters, with no heat. It seems now that Mama Ackles has brought it up, there’s no way that he can ignore it, not with Jensen right here.
Jensen snickers and rolls off to the side, careful to still keep contact with Jared, tangling their fingers together.
“I’ve been thinkin’ about that, actually,” he starts, his drawl steady but betraying just the tiniest hint of indecision.
“Thinking about how you’re a fucking genius and you’re gonna go to Harvard in the fall?” Jared asks, staring at the ceiling.
“Pssht, flatterer. You and I both know we don’t have enough time before your momma gets home for me to do what you want me to.”
“Pervert,” Jared says, laughing a little. “Stop trying to change the subject. You’re the one who brought it up anyways.”
Jensen sobers a little--Jared doesn’t even have to look at him to know, can feel it in the tenseness in Jensen’s fingers. “I dunno, Jared. Maybe Harvard isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
This time, Jared does turn so he can look his boyfriend square in the eye, raising an eyebrow. “You’re fucking joking. I know you don’t believe that.” He’s laying it on thick--has to, because he’s known for a while that Jensen might pull this, even if he tried not to think about it. And after today...well, Mama Ackles knows what’s going on now, too, and he made a promise.
Jensen squares his jaw and breathes a sigh. “Maybe I do,” he says. “Maybe the community college’s just as good.”
“Oh c’mon, you can’t be serious, Jen,” Jared says. “You got into Harvard! Scholarship and everything!”
“Partial tuition,” Jensen counters. “Harvard’s expensive, Jay.”
“That’s what student loans are for, stupid. This has been your dream forever. Why you shitting on it now?”
“I’m not a little kid anymore,” Jensen sighs. “It costs so much money--”
“You have a scholarship!”
“I’d have to leave my mom, you, move to a new town--”
“Get an excellent degree,” Jared continues, in the same tone, “meet people as smart as you, graduate, get a good job.”
“Stop being a dumb shit,” Jensen laughs.
“Me? You’re the one thinking about not going to Harvard,” Jared argues.
“It’s just a thought,” Jensen says, burying his face into Jared’s sleeve.
“I’d go with you, you know,” Jared says quietly. As soon as it leaves his mouth, he knows it’s a lie--he’s seventeen to Jensen’s eighteen, still has a year of school left and no money--but it sounds right when he says it. It sounds convincing.
Jensen scoffs, twisting his head, and says, “How you gonna do that?”
“I’ll get my G.E.D.,” Jared says thoughtfully. “Work a lot this summer--I hear the Cohens are hiring at the grocery store. With two jobs, I should have enough to rent a crappy apartment in Boston.”
“A good idea,” Jared interjects.
“Your mom’s never gonna go for it,” Jensen says, sitting up. “And I’m not makin’ you drop outta school to follow me around. That’s so stupid.”
“It’s my idea” Jared counters. “I want to do it. We both know I’m not as smart as you, Jen. I’m not going much further than a coupla community college courses anyway.”
“Whatever,” Jensen says, laughing a little. “You always say that, but I know you’re one of the best students in your class.”
“There are eleven of us and five of them don’t even come to school half the time,” Jared says. “What an accomplishment.”
“Just think about it, okay? You have a month before you have to decide. You’ve worked so hard to get in--don’t be a dumb shit and give it all up now that you got it.”
“Nag, nag, mom,” Jensen mocks.
“I’m the best thing that ever happened to you and you know it,” Jared says haughtily.
“Oh whatever,” Jensen laughs, and Jared can’t help but to kiss him again as the light from the sun setting outside of his window warms them, bathing everything in an orange glow that makes Jared think things are always gonna be perfect. Even if they won’t be.
When Jensen mails his acceptance to Harvard, Jared is standing right next to him, feeling a little sick but trying not to show it. He told Mama Ackles he’d make sure Jensen got here, and he did, but he’s had to try damn hard to get Jensen to believe the lies he’s spouting off about going to Boston and finishing school and finding a job, and he’s not looking forward to the fallout when he has to reveal that he’s actually staying here for the whole next year. He still hasn’t figured out how he’ll do it.
Jensen’s smile is bright once the envelope disappears, and Jared can’t help it--he smiles too, hugging Jensen with one arm.
“I can’t believe it,” Jensen mumbles into the curve of Jared’s shoulder. “I never woulda guessed.”
“Oh, whatever, genius,” Jared says, laughing a little even though there’s something churning in the pit of his stomach that makes him feel like he’s gonna be sick. “Now your biggest problem is getting me through my G.E.D. in time for us to leave.” It’s another lie of course--Jared has rented all of the study books their public library has to offer, and he even pretends to study if Jensen’s around, letting Jensen quiz him and walk him through the arithmetic he doesn’t remember how to do. But although Jensen’s in the dark, Jared knows it’s not true, even if it sometimes feels like it is.
“C’mon, tiny,” Jared says, shoving Jensen a little. “I’m starving, and if we don’t hurry, the entire school’s gonna flood Sam’s and I’m not waiting an hour for a table again.”
“Don’t fucking call me that,” Jensen says, punching Jared in the shoulder, the normal reaction he has when Jared makes fun of him being the short one, but his smile betrays any annoyance in his voice.
“Stop being so small then,” Jared deadpans, and not even that is enough to completely wipe the grin from Jensen’s face, but he does roll his eyes, link his arms behind Jared’s neck, and pull him down for a kiss.
“You like me short,” Jensen says when he pulls away, and no matter how many times they’ve done that, kissing Jensen never fails to make Jared feel the slightest big light-headed. He doesn’t notice when Jensen walks a bit down the street without him, turning and raising his eyebrow practically on cue.
“Thought you were starving?” Jensen asks, smirking, and Jared has to shake his head to clear it.
“Fucking cheater,” Jared calls, running to catch up as Jensen continues to walk.
When they get to the diner, Jared smooshes up next to Jensen instead of going to the other side of the booth. Jensen looks surprised for all of a second before he shifts his arms to throw it around Jared’s shoulders, pulling him in close. “Fucking sap,” Jensen says fondly.
“It’s cold in here,” Jared complains, making Jensen scoff, because Jared is always too warm, but he takes the lie at face value, which makes Jared sigh internally in relief. He feels fucking stupid, but after seeing Jensen post his future, the one that Jared can’t be part of, he doesn’t want to give up this contact.
“You guys make me sick,” their waitress says, and Jared turns enough so that he’s still within Jensen’s arms but able to see who’s approached. Sure enough Danneel is there, holding two tattered menus and tapping her foot, though she looks more amused than anything.
“You’re just jealous,” Jensen says.
“Hardly,” she responds. “If I ever end up as half of a couple as mushy as you two are, I’d kill myself. You guys are a disgrace to your gender.”
“We all know you’re a closet romantic,” Jared drawls. “You’re probably going to go home and write all about seeing us in your journal and whine about how you don’t have a boyfriend and shit.”
“Whatever, Padalecki,” she says. “Here are your menus, not that you need them. Any insight into why you’re practically fucking out in the open here?”
“Gross, Danni,” Jensen laughs.
“Jen just accepted his place at Harvard,” Jared says, as brightly as he can when the words feel like they’re festering in his stomach.
Danneel’s easy smile widens into something congratulatory, and she leans over the table to smack Jensen upside the head. “Finally,” she says, too loud. “I was beginning to think you were going to make the wrong decision and leave me all alone in Boston.”
“Jared’s persuasive,” Jensen says, squeezing Jared’s thigh under the table. It does nothing to reassure Jared or make his stomach any less queasy.
“I’m glad one of you has more sense than a fly,” she says. “What’re you gonna do without each other for a whole year? Traumatize your new roommate with too much phone sex, Jen?”
“You are way too invested in our sex lives,” Jared says dryly.
“Jared’s coming with me,” Jensen says. “He’s getting his G.E.D. and moving up to Boston come August.”
Danneel’s look of surprise makes Jared feel even more like shit than he had. “No crap?” she says, raising an eyebrow. “Jeff’s gonna go for that? Give you the money?”
“Anything to get me out of the house,” Jared says, his words sounding flat to his own ears, and none too believable. Thank God no one notices.
“Danneel,” Sam calls from the back, sounding stern, “I don’t pay you to stand around and talk to your friends!”
Danneel just laughs and flips her hair over her shoulder. “I love it when Sam pretends she’s actually my boss,” she says, but she pulls out her notepad anyways. “Same as always?” she asks, all business now.
“Unless you’ve started serving beer to minors,” Jared quips, and he can feel the hitches of Jensen’s stomach as he silently laughs.
“I’ll put that right in,” Danneel says, stone-faced, but her mouth is twitching. “Two Coronas coming up--never mind that Sheriff Pileggi’ll have my hide if I give you two alcohol in a restaurant that doesn’t even have its liquor license.”
“Sounds good,” Jensen says, just as faux-seriously. “We’ll visit you in jail.”
“Whatever.” Danneel’s gone with the squeak of her shoes on the tile floor, off to get them two cherry cokes, what they always get when they come here. She left the menus, but Jared knows what Jensen wants and vice versa--they never order anything different.
Their hometown isn’t anything special; not a beacon of acceptance or progressiveness, but if there’s one place Jared feels safe enough to sit with his boyfriend, it’s here. Sam was a city-girl, daughter to a rich mayor or something, before she settled into the country with her husband, Jim, and the first time Jared and Jensen got shit for being gay, she raised holy hell. Most everyone in the town’s afraid of her, though no one will admit it, and half of it comes from the fact that Sheriff Pileggi loves her pie and everyone knows that Jim is an ace with a shotgun.
Stereotypes aside, this is still Texas, and Jared and Jensen are still two high school boys who are known to suck face on a regular basis, but as long as they don’t stir anything up and act like they’re just friends in public, they’re largely left alone. It is nice, though, when they can actually go on a date, sit in a booth and make out if they wanna, without the chance that someone’ll gang up on them once they leave.
That’s just what Jared does now, not wanting to talk about Boston, or try and be excited for a life he just can’t have right now. He turns to kiss Jensen, a little awkwardly, maybe, because of the angle, but it feels as right as it always does. Jensen doesn’t protest, just opens his mouth and moves until Jared can settle into him, kissing him in this slow, easy way that makes a slow burn travel through Jared’s body and settle into his stomach.
Jared loses himself in the kiss, as he usually tends to, letting everything fall away into the moment. Jensen’s hand has slipped under the hem of Jared’s t-shirt and is gently brushing the skin there, making little passes with his fingers, and it’s normal, perfect. For his part, Jared just arches into Jensen’s touch, pliant and yielding, as the world stills around them.
Danneel has to clear her throat three times before they break apart, and Jared can’t even dredge up the energy to feel sheepish. She’s balancing two plates, their normal Sam’s fare, and by the way their cokes have left rings of condensation on the table, this isn’t the first time she’s been back.
“I think that you just made that trucker over there vomit into his chicken-fried steak,” she says, wrinkling her nose a little.
“You’re just sad because you don’t have time to yaya the sisterhood in the bathroom right now,” Jensen says with a maddening smirk--he always has had more of an ability to think after kissing than Jared does.
“You are fucking disgusting,” Danneel grimaces, shuddering dramatically. “And you think more about pussy than any gay man I know.”
“We’re the only gay people you know, Danni,” Jared says slowly.
“Not true. I watch Will and Grace,” Danneel says. “And if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to another table where I won’t have to watch soft-core porn while I’m trying to work.”
“Don’t be too depressed about it,” Jensen calls after her, still sticking to Jared’s side like glue even though their food has been deposited on the table and is smelling as good as it normally does.
Their elbows jostle as they eat, but Jensen doesn’t really seem to notice, and Jared can’t make himself pull away. It’s not long before they finish and Jensen fishes out a twenty, just enough to cover the bill and give Danneel a nice tip so she won’t complain later. Afterwards, they meander through town, careful to avoid the main strip and the old-age hicks who’re getting drunk even though it’s not even five.
“Stay over,” Jensen murmurs in Jared’s ear, making him shiver.
“Jeff’ll kill me,” Jared says, but he already knows he’ll cave.
“Nah, he knows that me, Gen, and Danni’ll mob him if he tries.”
Jared thinks about saying, That didn’t stop him before but Jensen already has enough on his plate, and Jared doesn’t want to reacquaint him with the shit-storm that is his heavy-handed stepfather.
“Promise?” he asks instead, leaning that much further into Jensen’s side.
“You know I’ll always protect you, baby,” Jensen jokes, low enough for only Jared, and Jared thinks, No you won’t, stupidly dramatic, before he follows Jensen to his house.
Jared sits next to Jensen’s mama and cheers Jensen on when he walks across the stage, valedictorian, wearing about every sash the school offers its students, and he can’t help feeling proud, like he hadn’t known that Jensen was going to get there. He pretends not to notice the tears making their way down Mama Ackles’ face as he holds her trembling hand, tries to avoid the sick feeling in his stomach as he sees just how bony her wrists have gotten.
When the ceremony ends, after a standing ovation to Jensen’s speech and a tearful farewell from the principal who’s known all of her students since kindergarten, Jared pushes ahead of the crowd that’s streaming off of the stands, all fifty of them, and grabs Jensen in a hug so tight that Jensen’s practically lifted off of the ground.
“You -- are -- such -- a -- girl,” Jensen laughs, but he wraps his arms around Jared’s neck and lets him spin them both around. Jared doesn’t let go, even when both of Jensen’s feet hit the ground, and he stands there, hugging Jensen for just a couple seconds longer.
When he pulls away finally, Jensen looks happier than he has in a while, accomplished and sun kissed, his cheeks pinking from the summer heat. Almost immediately, Danneel bursts out of her own family, jumping on Jensen’s back, almost knocking him over. Genevieve is close behind, pulling Jensen down so they all almost collapse in a pile, and Jared is pulled back into the fray.
It’s just where Jared wants to be.
Eventually, Jensen untangles himself enough to hug his mother, who is still obviously teary-eared.
“So proud of you,” she says fiercely, holding him tight, and a lump forms in Jared’s throat making it hard to swallow. Jensen looks similarly affected as he hangs onto her.
“Thanks, ma,” he says.
Jensen’s graduating class is only ten people big, so they all hold a joint graduation party in the Beavers’ field. Jim is so happy for Danneel--his adopted daughter--that he's drunk halfway through, throwing toasts to her and Jensen and his other daughter--biological one, actually--Genevieve, until Sam pulls him into the living room to pass out on the couch. No one even says anything, because everyone who matters is in the yard, celebrating, and everyone who doesn’t is somewhere else in the town, being small-minded and exclusionary and definitely not part of the party.
It gets to be too much for Jared sometime around ten; all of the adults have congregated on the porch as the kids mill around outside. Beer is flowing freely, because the inhabitants of this town have always held the belief that forbidding things as silly as alcohol is the easiest way to trouble. Jared is nursing a nice buzz, but he’s not going any further--Jeff is a mean drunk, and whenever Jared gets the chance to drink--which isn’t often, as he doesn’t really like it--all he sees in every shadow is Jeffrey raising his hand, an ugly expression on his face.
So, yeah. Drinking’s not really Jared’s thing.
He can tell that Jensen is wasted though, happy and loud like he usually isn’t sober, shooting the shit with Danni and Steve as they pass a bottle of whiskey around. Gen is hanging off Steve like he’s the second coming, and nobody really notices when Jared wanders off alone into the line of the trees.
It’s been building for the past couple of weeks, but Jensen graduating has made it more real. Jared’s all too aware that Jen will have to leave for college in two months, two months, and that there’s nothing Jared can or will do about it. Mama Ackles is getting weaker, but she won’t tell him or Jensen what’s going on. The oppressive worry is getting worse, combining with how things are about to go to shit, and only Jared knows. He has his plan now, and it’s awful--just thinking about it is almost enough to make him physically ill--but it’ll work.
“What’s up, mopey?” Jensen says, too close, and Jared must’ve been really lost in his thoughts if he missed Jen’s drunken approach.
“Not moping,” Jared says, even though he definitely is, and he kicks at the dirt, lodging a stick further into the dust.
“Please,” Jensen says, and he kind of falls to the ground in a drunken heap. “I could hear you angsting a mile away.”
“Didn’t keep you from fooling around with Danni and Steve and Gen,” Jared says petulantly. “You didn’t seem to notice then.”
Jensen sort of swivels his head, a slow, lolling motion, and he looks almost hurt. “I didn’t mean to ignore you, Jared,” he said, enunciating carefully. “I came to find you. I knew you were gone. Just thought you wanted to be quiet.” The way he says it, sad in a hung-dog kind of way, makes Jared feel awful.
“No, it’s not your fault,” Jared says softly. “I’m just in a bad mood. You didn’t do anything.”
“What’s wrong?” Jensen asks, leaning his head against Jared’s shoulder, a solid weight.
For a moment, Jared wants to spill, wants to let it all out, because he’s been holding it in for so long, and he has to swallow the words down, careful to not let them explode. Jensen isn’t nearly drunk enough to not remember this tomorrow morning, and hell if Jared’s going to fuck this up because he’s a fucking maudlin drinker.
“Nothing,” he says, and then amends, “Just...everything’s changing.”
“That’s a good thing,” Jensen says slowly, like he doesn’t get it. Jared’s pretty sure he’s the only one who does.
“I guess,” Jared admits, lowly, scuffing at the ground again. He wants to shift closer to Jensen, take that little comfort in just being pressed up against his boyfriend, but he’s almost afraid something will happen if he does.
“You’re such a ‘fraidy cat,” Jensen says, laughing lightly, taking a pull from the beer bottle that Jared hadn’t noticed him bringing out. “It’ll be awesome--you’ll see. Just us, no Jeff, taking over Boston. The best time of our lives.”
Jared can’t listen to this, because he can see it so clearly, a future that he can’t have. He lets himself imagine for the briefest second that he could go to Boston with Jensen, get his own apartment, live his own life away from his asshole stepfather and look-the-other-way mom, but he can’t and every time he’s reminded of it something twists deeper in his stomach.
There’s only one tried and true way to shut Jensen up, especially if he’s had a little too much to drink and is feeling particularly chatty, and Jared uses it to his full advantage. When he’s drunk, Jensen’s reaction time is pathetically slow, so when Jared twists his head and catches Jensen’s mouth with his own, Jensen twitches in surprise before he lets out a startlingly loud moan and opens his mouth wider. Jared kisses with a ferocity that surprises even him as the desperation wells in his chest. He uses his hands to frame Jensen’s face, make it so Jensen can’t move, and Jensen doesn’t even try, just gets on his knees so he can press harder into Jared.
Jensen’s always been a slutty drunk, and Jared eventually lets him take the lead, now that Jared’s instigated everything. When push goes to shove, Jared knows all of Jensen’s tells, knows how to manipulate him, and he lets his hands go limp as Jensen frames his wrists with his fingers. Jensen tugs lightly, enough to make Jared move his arms, and then Jensen’s hands are all over him, skimming down his ribs, up his back, and Jared can only cling to Jensen’s shirt.
It feels like it always has--heady and sweet and right--and Jared moves enough so that he can lay in the grass and not on a tree root, and Jensen is immediately following him down, bracketing his body with his weight, kissing eagerly, fucking his tongue into Jared’s mouth. Jared feels almost like an exhibitionist--his friends are probably only two hundred feet away, close enough that Jared can dimly hear them talking over the rush of blood in his ears, and he knows exactly where this is going, but he’s too gone to stop it.
Almost as if he’s reading Jared’s mind, Jensen breaks the kiss roughly and leans down so his mouth brushes Jared’s neck as he speaks. “Better be quiet, Jay,” he warns, just a little slurred. “Don’t want them coming to investigate if you make too much noise.” There’s a dirty promise in his tone that makes Jared certain Jensen’s about to follow through with whatever he’s thinking, and sure enough, Jensen rocks down a little, just enough that Jared can feel the brush of Jensen’s erection against his belly. Jared can’t help but make a little moan at that, cut off and desperate, because Jensen isn’t where Jared needs him, too far up.
“You’ve always sucked at following directions,” Jensen says, and he’s panting a little now, rucking himself against Jared’s stomach in slow, deliberate movements, careful to keep away from Jared’s crotch. Jared keeps trying to arch up into him, to get any kind of friction now that Jensen’s started this and gotten Jared fucking hard and ready for it, but Jensen has been Jared’s boyfriend for too long, knows all of the tricks. He somehow has enough brain capacity, even drunk, to know how to drive Jared up the fucking wall.
“Jensen, please,” Jared says, more of a groan than anything else, and it earns him nothing more than a quick nip of Jensen’s teeth and then the hard suction of Jensen’s mouth--Jared is going to have an impressive hickey come tomorrow morning. Jared pulls his hands up from where they’ve fallen and forcibly hauls Jensen’s face to his so he can get a proper kiss. Jensen might be teasing now, but Jared knows all of his tells, too, and if he can just distract Jensen enough, he’ll stop with the maddening distraction of rubbing his dick against Jared’s belly and actually go for the good stuff.
Jensen doesn’t seem to mind that Jared’s playing a little dirty, even though he has to know what Jared’s doing, given the plea and the way Jared’s using every trick he knows to kiss Jensen as dirtily as possible. It doesn’t take long as Jared tugs Jensen’s tongue into his mouth, savoring the spitty beer flavor that should be gross but really isn’t, and Jensen holds out for only a couple minutes before he allows himself to fall into a more comfortable position, which is happily one where his thigh has fallen between Jared’s legs, giving him the friction he needs.
They’re both still fully clothed, and the layers of denim between them is enough to mute the sensation just enough so Jared doesn’t immediately feel like he’s going to fly off of the handle. They rock together, steady and practiced, and Jared keeps kissing Jensen until he’s so close, he can’t anymore, just panting into Jensen’s mouth.
Unsurprisingly, Jensen comes first, just stiffens and moans into Jared’s mouth as he does so, and Jared has to pull Jensen down against him, both hands against the swell of Jensen’s ass, to get that last bit of friction to get himself over the edge. By the time he comes down from it, he’s breathing hard, and the breeze is cooling the sweat on his face. His boxers are now uncomfortably wet and that shit’s gonna dry and stick everywhere, but lying here, in the warm grass, with Jensen above him, he feels like everything’s gonna be okay.
“Love you, baby,” Jensen says, his post-sex high making him sleepy and clingy, and Jared shivers a little.
“Love you too, asshole,” he says, trying to lighten the mood, but he can already feel everything rushing back, clogging his throat with a lump he can’t swallow past.
Now that school is out for the summer, Jared’s lost that distraction, and he can’t help but keep his eye on the looming deadline. A million different times he has to close his mouth against blurting the whole thing out, practically every time Jensen asks him what’s wrong. He knows he’s acting differently, but he can’t help it. He can’t tell Jensen, because he knows exactly what Jensen will do, and it’s starkly opposite to what’s supposed to happen. So he keeps on maintaining his poker face, hiding from Jensen as much as he can given the amount of time they spend together. Ms. Rhodes, their supervisor at the library, keeps putting them on the same shift, which is probably the stupidest idea ever--whenever she’s busy, they sneak back to the nonfiction shelves that no one ever visits and spend a couple of minutes making out--just like usual.
Jared starts spending almost every night over at Jensen’s, trying to make each minute last. His mom never seems to notice, and it’s easier to avoid Jeff this way, but somehow, every time he has to go somewhere else, somewhere without Jensen, something twists in his chest.
Then Mama Ackles takes a turn for the worst.
She’s starkly against staying in the hospital, but it’s obvious she’s wasting away. Jared sits in the waiting room with Jensen as she goes into her last doctor’s appointment, alone as she’d insisted upon, and when she comes out, she just looks tired.
“No more chemo for me, boys,” she says, her voice sandpaper rough. “No more hospitals either. Thank the Lord.”
“Mama, what are you talking about?” Jensen asks, grabbing Jared’s hand and practically breaking his fingers with his grip. “Is it gone?”
Mama Ackles sighs, a low, depressed exhalation, then cups Jensen’s cheek. “Not quite, honey,” she says, and that’s all she’ll say about the situation.
Jared and Jensen take her home, Jensen’s hands bone white on the steering wheel the entire way. Once they help Mama Ackles into the house, she says the drive tired her out, and she slips into bed even though it’s only two in the afternoon. Jared doesn’t know what to say, so he doesn’t say anything at all, just curls into Jensen’s side, and holds him through the shaking. They don’t get any sleep that night.
There’s a steady stream coming in through Jensen’s door for the next couple of days--old friends and lawyers, and even though Mama Ackles hasn’t confirmed it in as many words, Jared knows what’s happening, and so does Jensen. Mrs. Patterson, who’s lived down the street since before Jensen was born and has been a nurse for even longer, stops by every day. Jensen doesn’t leave his mom’s side very often, even though she scolds him for it in the odd times when she’s awake. She’s not eating very much any more, and Jared can hear the hushed whispers when he steps out into the house. Things like metastasized and dying. More than once, he wakes up having to rub Jensen’s back as he cries quietly into his pillow, trying not to cry himself even though it’s damn near impossible. Mama Ackles is practically his mom too.
She stays steady till two days before Jared’s birthday, and by then, it’s all Jared can do to hold on and keep Jensen standing. They’re there, sitting together on the floor, not talking, because Mrs. Patterson took Jensen aside the other day and told him it wouldn’t be long, not with how aggressive her cancer was. But even though they were prepared, that final last gasping breath, the last noise before there was nothing else, was enough to haunt Jared’s nightmares. Jensen crawls up, still holding his mama’s hand like he has been for practically two days, and puts his other hand on her shoulder.
“Mama?” he asks, his voice a reedy tremble. “Mama, are you okay?” He obviously knows she isn’t, and Jared can feel himself almost at the edge of hyperventilation when he stands up too.
“Mama, wake up,” Jensen says forcefully, shaking her shoulder. Nothing happens.
“Jensen,” Jared chokes, trying to touch Jensen’s back. Jensen just shifts away violently and shakes his mom’s shoulder again.
“You’re not allowed to do this, mama,” Jensen says, and he sounds so angry. Tears are falling unbidden down Jared’s face, but he can’t wipe them away. Can’t bring himself to.
“Mama, wake up right now,” Jensen yells, sounding for all the world like the words were torn clean from his throat, and Jared takes charge then, pulling Jensen backwards with all of his strength and wrapping his arms around him in a fierce hug.
“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” he keeps saying, and he can’t breathe and Jensen is wailing into his shoulder, holding onto Jared so hard that he knows he’ll have bruises in the morning. He doesn’t care.
They stay in that little room, Jared clinging to Jensen, until the sun goes down.
The next couple of weeks pass in a sort of numb shock. There’s the funeral, and the will, and Jensen is just wandering around, barely functioning. He barely eats, and Jared has to keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t waste away.
It’s rough. It’s really rough, and Jared knows what he has to do in a couple of weeks, and it’s tearing him up inside.
Jensen crawls out of his shell of grief, so slowly it’s hard to see, but he starts talking about Boston, stilted at first, but gradually more involved. Every time he does, every time Danni comes over and makes plans for how they’re going to move Jensen to Harvard and Danni to Boston-U, all the while trying to figure out how Jared’s going to fit into the picture, he has to pretend to be invested. It’s incredibly tiring.
He spends his free time helping Jensen box up his life, donating what they can of Mama Ackles’ leftover stuff. Jared takes care of most of that, because he thinks Jensen might do something irrational if he has to deal with it. Sam and Jim help them figure out how to put the house up for sale, because, as Jensen says, he’ll have nothing left to come back here for after he leaves.
Jared supposes that’s right. That’s how it’ll be if his plan works.
The house sells quick, mostly because Jensen had it listed well below its market value. He and his mama had kept it in good shape, and even though the town is small, Grandma Bledel’s other daughter has been looking to move back home. As far as Jensen’s concerned, everything is shaping up for his departure. “It’s a sign,” he declares grimly one day, wiping dust from his nose. “We’re getting out of here.”
Like always, the thought of being left behind is like taking a wrecking ball to the stomach. Jared makes a noncommittal noise and spends the rest of the day with his mind carefully blank.
Jared carefully works out a scenario that makes it less suspicious that he hasn’t begun to pack up like Jensen and Danneel--they’re going to head to Boston early, figure out orientation and get unpacked in the dorms, and then Jared’s supposed to come the week after, apply for a crappy apartment close to Harvard’s campus and start rebuilding his life.
Jensen is mutedly excited the night before he’s due to leave, everything already loaded into Danneel’s clunker and ready for the long haul up north. The house is empty, save for one lone air mattress that Jared’s sharing with him.
“Last night here,” Jensen murmurs. “It feels weird.”
“I’ll miss this house,” Jared says, shifting so he’s lying on his side, taking all of Jensen in. He needs this night to last forever, but it’s already slipping through his fingers.
Jensen makes a noise, half-agreeing, and scoots a little closer. They’re both under a ratty sheet, and it’s almost too hot for it, but Jared aches for his touch. “You know, this week’ll be the longest we’ve been apart in practically forever.”
“At least you’ll have cute college co-eds to distract you,” Jared sighs. “I have to stay here and deal with Jeff.”
“Your idea, genius,” Jensen says. “And don’t worry. I bet none of ‘em Harvard boys are as hot as you.”
“I’m so sure,” Jared says, and leans close enough to brush his lips against Jensen’s. If this is their last night, Jared wants it to be something good enough for him to hold onto. Jensen takes the hint, lapses into silence, and moves so they’re lying belly-to-belly, flush against each other. Jared takes his time, mapping Jensen’s mouth, which has become almost as familiar as his own by now. He takes it slowly, relinquishing the lead to Jensen, who’s gotten the hint, and things build at an incremental pace as they kiss.
Jensen’s fingers are like static electricity against the soft skin of Jared’s belly, inching his t-shirt further up his chest, mapping skin as thoroughly as he’s exploring Jared’s mouth. Jared’s thrown his leg over Jensen’s and pulled their lower bodies together, and there’s barely any space between them anymore, but Jensen’s still able to pull Jared’s t-shirt over his head after a couple of minutes, separating their kiss as he does so.
“You, too,” Jared pants, and he doesn’t even give Jensen time to respond before he’s kissing him again. He hopes he doesn’t come off as desperate, but with each passing second, he can feel the need growing brighter in his stomach. Jensen’s shirt comes off with less teasing, less fanfare, and joins Jared’s in a heap on the floor. As soon as that distraction’s gone, Jared drags his mouth away from Jensen and begins kissing his way down Jensen’s throat, nipping at all the sensitive spots he knows from memory. Jensen’s still skimming his fingers along Jared, his fingers bringing goosebumps in their wake, and Jared uses all of his remaining concentration on how that feels, on how Jensen feels, the taste of him beneath Jared’s tongue and the sweep of his touch on Jared’s nape.
Jensen doesn’t let Jared move far enough away to get any lower than his neck, and their legs are tangled enough that the insistent heat of Jensen’s erection is as obvious to Jared as his own is.
“I want you to fuck me,” Jared whispers into Jensen’s skin. “Make it good, cowboy.”
Jensen runs his fingers through Jared’s hair, his eyes glinting in the barely-there moonlight. “Always,” he says, his words hanging heavy in the air. It sounds like more than a promise of a good night, and Jared feels his heart break just a little further.
Even though Jared’s given him permission, Jensen still takes his time, gently rolling Jared onto his back. Jared’s anchored by his touch, the wet slide of his tongue, the press of his lips, kiss swollen and sweet. The need is still there, but he needs this, too, this feeling like he’s the only one in the world to Jensen right now. He tries to pay it back in kind, catching his kisses on Jensen’s skin when Jensen decides to give the rest of Jared’s body attention.
The only noises in the air are Jared’s exhalations, little gasps and moans, as Jensen’s lips drag over every inch they can get at. Jared can’t stop from keeping his hands anchored on Jensen’s body, craving that last confirmation, and by the time Jensen finally gets around to dragging Jared’s sleep pants down over his hips, Jared’s practically at his breaking point. He still has Jensen, right now, in this moment, but he won’t tomorrow night, and his throat’s aching like he’s about to cry. For the millionth time, he wonders how he’s supposed to give this up.
“I don’t have anything here,” Jensen says, loud in the stillness, and even though he doesn’t elaborate, Jared knows what he’s talking about.
“Under the mattress, my side,” Jared says, somewhat breathlessly, his mind still muddled, and Jensen contorts so he can fumble around till he finds what he’s looking for.
“No condom,” Jensen murmurs, as he drops the half-used tube of KY next to Jared’s neck.
“Don’t need it,” Jared responds, grabbing Jensen’s hand and kissing his wrist in a pique of sentimentality. “Just want to feel you today.”
“But...” Jensen trails off, and Jared knows that barebacking turns Jensen’s crank so hard even though they hardly ever chance it.
Jared thinks back to the pills, hiding under all of his socks back home, and pulls Jensen’s face down for the thousandth kiss that night. “Got it covered,” Jared says. “Stop stalling, or I’m gonna go to sleep.”
“Pfft, empty threat,” Jensen mumbles, but he’s kicking off his pants, boxers, and there’s all this skin. He gives Jared one last kiss, and then he’s sloppily making his way down Jared’s body with his fingers and mouth, snagging the lube as he goes.
Jared never really cares for the prep, the burn, but it’s all worth it in the end, he supposes. Jensen knows just how to do it by now, the king of winding Jared up, and he purses his lips over the tip of Jared’s dick just as his first finger slides inside. Jared arches up, into Jensen’s mouth, and away from the intrusion, but Jensen unerringly finds that spot within him, and it becomes less of a distraction and more of a welcome pleasure.
Jensen spends his time working Jared open, plenty of lube supplemented by plenty of teasing cocksucking, and Jared’s tossing his head back and forth on the pillow by the time he’s ready. “C’mon, c’mon,” he’s saying on repeat. “Stop fucking around, Jensen, you know I’m good for it, get up here.”
Jensen pulls off with an obscene pop and his fingers disappear. Jared’s asshole clenches emptily, and then Jensen’s back up at face-level, propping himself up and surrounding Jared. When he kisses Jared, Jared can taste himself, and he loses himself in that until Jensen pushes in, and the only thing Jared can think is, on repeat, my Jensen, mine.
Jensen doesn’t stop kissing him, even as he stills and waits for Jared to get used to him inside, and when he starts moving, it’s a gentle, slow, dragging thrust that makes Jared gasp into his mouth and keen as Jensen blindly grabs at Jared’s thigh and coaxes it wordlessly to wind around his hip. Jared keeps rolling back into it, shivering into Jensen’s touch, needing the connection.
Jared can tell when Jensen’s close, just by the way that he speeds up incrementally, his kisses becoming less precise. Jared’s approaching that peak just as quickly, and Jensen wraps his hand around Jared’s erection, precome slicking the way as Jensen gently begins to stroke Jared’s cock, his grip tighter and his hand faster as Jared whines for it, and when he finally falls over the ledge, coming into Jensen’s fist, over his belly, the blankness is perfect and all-encompassing.
He’s barely calming down, his chest still heaving, when Jensen thrusts hard, a couple of times, and then there’s that curious sensation of actually feeling him coming inside Jared. Jared shivers a little at the sensation, and uses the rest of his concentration to kiss Jensen thoroughly through his orgasm.
The aching emptiness he feels when Jensen pulls out is almost overwhelming. He can feel the grossness, the wet seeping out of him, but even more, he feels like something’s been taken from him. He clutches tighter at the back of Jensen’s neck to compensate.
“Girl,” Jensen accuses, sleepy now that he’s gotten off. “Closet snuggler.” His words totally don’t tie with his actions though, as he curls around Jared, pressing a kiss to his shoulder.
“Fuck you,” Jared admonishes. “Don’t ruin the afterglow, asshole.”
“Anything for you, baby,” Jensen says, sleep-slurred, and Jared doesn’t follow-up, just concentrates on how Jensen’s breathing evens out and becomes deep, his chest rising in expected intervals.
“Anything,” Jared says, so quiet he’s not even sure he hears himself. He doesn’t fall asleep that night.
Danneel is maybe twenty minutes from being there, and Jared’s so torn up he thinks he might be physically sick. Jensen is excited, Jared knows, the first positive emotion he’s shown in forever, and Jared’s about to tear that from him. He’s bounding around, making sure he’s gotten everything from the various cubby-hole hiding places he has all over the house, a ball of nervous energy.
“Jensen,” Jared says, and his voice catches in his throat. “Jensen, can you come here for a sec?”
“What’s up, Jared?” Jensen asks, and it’s a tell of how much he’s looking forward to Boston, because he hasn’t even asked Jared why he looks like shit, and Jared knows he does, all dark circles and ashy skin. “Boston, can you believe it?” Jensen bursts, before Jared can get a word in edgewise. “I never thought we’d make it.”
“Jensen, I need to talk to you,” Jared says, his voice edgy.
That makes Jensen stand still. Maybe it’s the way Jared’s voice rings in the still air, maybe it’s the way he’s standing. Jensen’s forehead furrows, like it’s the first time he’s really seeing Jared this morning.
“You okay, Jay?” he asks concernedly. “You don’t look so good there. What do you need?”
“I’m not coming,” Jared says, and his heart’s beating about a million miles an hour.
Jensen’s face is still confused, wrinkling his forehead. “Not coming where? What are you talking about?”
“To Boston, Jensen,” Jared clarifies, his throat sticky. “I’m not coming to Boston.”
“Yeah, you are,” Jensen says. “We have it all planned out, Jay.”
“You have it all planned out,” Jared counters. “I just, I can’t.”
“Is this about your mom?” Jensen asks. “Or Jeff? C’mon Jared, you have to come.” He’s sounding a little desperate now, and it takes all of Jared’s strength to keep going.
“It’s about me. I can’t, Jensen. I have a life here. A job and my sister and my mom and school. Jensen, I can’t uproot myself like this.”
“What the fuck, Jared?” Jensen asks, and he sounds more than angry now, on the edge. “Where the fuck was this all summer? When I applied?”
“I just--you wanted it so bad. I didn’t want to be the reason you didn’t go.”
“I’m not going if you’re staying here,” Jensen says stubbornly.
“Yes, you are,” Jared explodes. “This is why I didn’t tell you! I knew you’d give this up, Jensen, and this is your dream.”
“Jared, I’m not doing this without you,” Jensen says staunchly.
“You have to,” Jared snaps. “I’m not letting you give this up.” He’s repeating himself, he knows, but this is what he’s been telling himself all summer to give him the strength to go through with this.
“So what, I have to leave you? I’d rather stay here and work in the library for the rest of my life than go without you.” Jensen is so angry, so determined, and Jared wants to be able to fix it, stop what he’s doing, but he can’t.
“You’re worth more than that! You deserve to go get your education, to find someone who loves you, to live your life.” The words are tearing themselves from Jared’s throat, unbidden and heavy.
Jensen physically recoils, taking a big step backwards. “What are you talking about, Jared?” he asks. “Someone who loves me? I already have that.”
“No, you don’t,” Jared says, and even though he’s about to cry, his voice isn’t betraying any of it. “I’m sorry. I tried. I can’t help it.”
“Can’t help what, Jared?” Jensen asks, and his voice is shaking.
“I’m not in love with you anymore,” Jared says, softly, meekly.
“Yes, you are,” Jensen says, and he sounds like Jared just launched a grenade at his chest.
“I’m not. It happened before everything happened with Mama Ackles. I don’t know when--just one day, I realized I wasn’t happy. It’s not your fault. I’m just fucked in the head. I always have been.” It’s like now that he’s started, he can’t stop. The vitriol is spilling from his mouth, unwarranted and completely untrue, but if it’s what he needs to do to make sure Jensen’s in that car to Boston, it’s what he’ll say.
“You’re fucking lying,” Jensen spits, and he’s in Jared’s face again. It takes all of Jared’s willpower not to cave, not to break down and say that, yes, he’s fucking lying, he’s a fucking coward.
“I’m not. I just, I couldn’t do that to you. I couldn’t tell you, not when I was sure and your mama was sick. I couldn’t take that from you.” The anguish flooding Jared’s voice now is entirely real, just not fueled by the words he’s saying.
“So you stayed with me out of pity?” Jensen asks, breathing hard.
“I couldn’t...” Jared trails off.
“What the fuck, Jared?” Jensen asks. “What the fucking fuck? What was last night, huh?”
“I had to make sure!” Jared yells.
“Glad I fucking turned you away then. Made up your fucking mind then! You’re a good goddamn actor, Jared!”
“I’m sorry,” Jared says again, helplessly. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
“Well good fucking job on that,” Jensen says harshly.
“We were friends before this, Jen. We can be friends again. I’ll stay here, and you’ll go to school, and eventually it’ll be like we were never together.”
“In your fucking dreams, Jared,” Jensen spits.
“I don’t want to lose you,” Jared pleads. “I just--I can’t lie to you anymore.”
“Fuck off,” Jensen says, and then he twirls and punches the doorframe, hard enough that Jared’s hand aches in sympathy.
“I mean it, Jared. Fuck. Off.”
Jared has so many more things to say, but Jensen looks like he’ll take a swing at Jared next. He wants it, god, deserves it, but Jensen would hate himself later. So Jared, raw and broken, hangs his head and slinks outside to walk home.
It’s the last time he sees Jensen for a very long time.