Thirty miles out of town, he crashes in a cheap roadside motel. It’s late Friday night, and he wants this to be just them--no Jeff, no Jared’s mama. And since Genevieve said Jared doesn’t work on Saturdays and for as long as Jensen can remember, Jeff and Jared’s mom have spent Saturday out, playing poker and drinking, that’s when he’ll arrive.
Surprise of surprises, even though he’s been on the road for over twenty-four hours, counting traffic and pit stops, he doesn’t sleep well. He wakes up, sore and unrested, around seven, and it takes him three cups of coffee before he can get up the nerve to call Jared’s house phone.
Jared doesn’t have a cell phone anymore, Genevieve had texted. Jeff smashed it and he can’t afford a new one.
If he hadn’t triple-checked the number, he almost would think he called a stranger. Jared doesn’t sound the same as he used to, the Jared that exists in Jensen’s memory. Less...lively and just tired, and it takes two hellos before Jensen can clear his throat enough to say hello back.
“Jensen?” Jared asks, and there’s this note of surprise in his voice, like he never expected Jensen to talk to him again.
“Yeah,” Jensen says, and then, “I’m about thirty minutes from your house. Is it okay if I come over?”
“Huh?” Jared asks.
“I’m--uh, I’m in Texas. I want to see you. Can I stop by?”
“Okay,” Jared responds slowly. “Okay--I guess? You’re in Texas?”
“Yes,” Jensen says stiffly. “I’m--I’m gonna hang up now. I’ll be there soon.”
“Okay,” Jared says again, an automatic response, and Jensen gently closes his phone.
Jared opens the door almost as soon as Jensen knocks, looking rushed and half-put-together. “What are you doing here?” he asks, but he steps aside to let Jensen inside.
“You said I could come visit,” Jensen says dully. He’d forgotten how it felt to be around Jared like this, a million different emotions lodging themselves in his chest.
“I didn’t expect you to drive all the way from Boston in the middle of the semester!” Jared says exasperatedly.
Jensen’s gonna say something, but his attention catches on the separation of the front hall to the kitchen where he can see half of a head peeking around the corner. It disappears almost as soon as Jensen’s eyes catch on hers, and Jensen feels his breath stick in his throat. Jared turns around and follows his gaze to the pink socked foot that’s barely sticking out.
“Hannah, c’mere,” Jared encourages cajolingly. “I want you to meet someone.” His voice is honey-sweet, soft, and she comes further into sight at the sound of it.
“C’mere, Hannah,” Jared says again, and then she’s scampering closer, skidding to a halt half-behind Jared’s leg.
“She’s shy,” Jared explains. “Kinda like you were.”
“Oh,” Jensen says, very quietly, and then, “Jared, I don’t know what I’m doing here.” He doesn’t mean in the geological sense; more like he’s suddenly a father and he’s never known one well enough to know how to act.
Jared understands what he’s trying to say, because that’s how they’ve always been--knowing what each other means without asking. It’s scary that even after three years, Jensen can tell by the slight softening of Jared’s eyes that he sees how shit-scared Jensen is.
“No rules on this one, Jensen,” Jared says. “But I think you’ll be okay.” He gently pries Hannah’s hands off of his calf and then squats so he can look her in the face. “Hannah, ‘member when we were talking about daddy’s friend? This is your papa, Hann. You should say hello.”
Jensen’s in shock for a second, and Hannah is just looking up at him with big green eyes. She just shakes her head and hides her face in her impossibly tiny hands, looking through the cracks of her finges like Jensen is a particularly scary movie. Jared looks over his shoulder apologetically at Jensen. “She’ll warm up to you,” he says. “It’s just--she’s not good around new people. Not a lot of strangers around here, you know.”
“I get the feeling,” Jensen mumbles, because as much as she’s scared to meet him, he’s just as afraid of her. It’s so surreal, looking at this foreign girl and knowing she’s part him.
“Go play,” Jared says, giving her a little push. “Maybe you can show papa Moose later.” She bites her lip and pulls at her pigtail, but she’s been given a reprieve and toddles back into the kitchen, unsure on her feet for a second. Jared shifts so he can see her, plopped in the middle of a couple of toys on the the tile, and he turns back to Jensen.
“You didn’t have to tell her that,” Jensen says roughly. “That I’m her...papa. It’s not like I’ve been around for her.”
“You are her papa,” Jared responds evenly. “I knew you’d be back. Once you figured out.”
“You put a lot of faith in me,” Jensen says with more bite than he meant.
“No, I just know you.”
“You knew me,” Jensen corrects, and Jared flinches.
“Okay,” he says steadily. “How long are you here for?”
“I have to leave tomorrow morning,” Jensen says.
“Not a lot of time,” Jared comments, but it’s not accusatory. “You might as well come play with her, then. She’ll warm up to you faster if you get with her on her level. She’s almost two--easy to win over.”
“I’m not here for you, Jared,” Jensen says suddenly. It’s something he has to get out, but the words makes his chest ache.
“I know,” Jared says simply.
“I don’t know how I feel about you right now,” Jensen continues. “But--but she’s mine. So I’m here. And I’ll try not to be an asshole, but Jesus, Jared. I don’t fucking know how to handle you anymore.”
“Noted,” Jared says, looking down at the floor instead of at Jensen. “Now, are you coming or not? I have to clean the kitchen or Jeff will have my hide.”
Jensen didn’t know what he was doing when he came over, and the whole day is weird. Jared’s like this odd kind of supervisor while Jensen awkwardly tries to play with Hannah, because if he tries to leave the room, she immediately notices and gets up to toddle after him. Jensen’s never had anything to do with kids before, and her constant quest for attention is odd and tiring. Jared stays out of the way, mostly, as much as he can without leaving the room, stepping in to translate Hannah’s outbursts if necessary, picking her up and putting her in a high chair for lunch and so forth.
She goes down for a nap sometime early afternoon, leaving Jared and Jensen at a loss. Jared keeps tidying up, almost compulsively, and Jensen’s tempted to leave to another room in the house or go into town to see Sam, but he has to actually have a conversation with Jared about what’s going to happen now, and if he chickens out now, he doesn’t know if he’ll get the nerve to do it again.
“Can I talk to you for a minute?” he asks tersely after Jared’s done emptying the dishwasher.
“Sure,” Jared says, but he looks like he’s dreading it. He slips into the family room and sits on the couch at the furthest end from Jensen, looking at him warily.
“I can’t come down here very often, if at all,” Jensen starts. “It’s a hell of a drive, and I have school and work, and I can’t do it.”
“I figured,” Jared responds. “I was kinda surprised you did in the first place.” He’s avoiding Jensen’s gaze as if it will make things easier.
“But I want to know her,” Jensen continues. “I can’t be my dad, Jared. I won’t.”
Jared looks up earnestly. “I wouldn’t try to keep you from her.”
“You did before,” Jensen points out, not unfairly. “You didn’t even tell me about her.”
“I didn’t want to ruin your life,” Jared says honestly, and something about that hurts, that Jared thought that that little girl would ruin Jensen’s life in any capacity. Jensen doesn’t know if Jared thinks he’s that shallow or self-absorbed, but rationally Jensen knows that her existence is just as much Jensen’s fault as it is Jared’s, and since Jensen had no clue about her till a month ago, Jared’s taken care of her completely. Jared’s given himself up for her, and Jensen wishes he could’ve had that opportunity too, that chance to bond with her and watch her grow up and love her unconditionally from the start instead of being thrown into it face-first like he is now. He’s mad and sorry, and Jesus Christ, it’s hard to get everything under control.
“I don’t get you,” Jensen says. “Your logic sucks.”
Jared shrugs in this helpless way, and somehow, it’s time. Jensen’s got to spill his batshit plan, get it out there now before he can’t voice it any longer. “Come to Boston with me,” he demands, heavy and half-pleading.
Jared recoils sharply, like he was expecting anything but that. “Jensen, what are you talking about?”
“You. And Hannah. Come to Boston,” Jensen replies, though that’s hardly a clarification.
Jared huffs incredulously and is instantly shaking his head. “Jensen, I don’t have the money for that. How am I supposed to support myself in an apartment with Hannah and with you still in school? It’s--it’s not possible.”
“Family housing,” Jensen says, almost fiercely, like he needs to convince himself of this idea instead of Jared. “I can get a transfer, you can move in with me. Living costs are covered by my job--I’m a resident hall director, room and board included. You’d just have to marry me and we’d be set.”
“Jensen,” Jared laughs, not a happy sound, “are you even listening to yourself? Marry me? You can’t stand me right now. You can barely look at me. I don’t--what do you want?”
“The way I see it,” Jensen explains evenly, “is that I have three options here. One, forget about Hannah, forget about you, go back to my own life. And that’s not really fucking working, as I’ve found out. Two, I drop out of school and move back here.”
“You can’t,” Jared says instantly. “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard. You’re more than halfway done. I didn’t...you escaped this town, Jensen, and you better not fucking come back.”
“Or three,” Jensen says loudly, “you come to Boston and we make this work as best as we can. Yeah, Jared, I don’t fucking know what to do with you right now. I can’t promise I’ll forgive you. Or that we’ll go back to what we were. But I will take care of you. No more Jeff, no more hiding in your own house.”
“Jensen, this isn’t going to work!” Jared exclaims. “I can’t be your kept girl.”
“Either you stay here,” Jensen responds harshly, “and rot away, under your stepdad’s thumb for the rest of your life, or you take what I can give you and come with me like you should’ve three years ago. It’s up to you, Jared, but there’s not a lotta leeway here.”
“I can’t--Jensen, you can’t spring that on me and expect me to know what to do,” Jared says, shaking his head stubbornly.
“I’ve never kept you from doing anything, Jared,” Jensen says quietly. “I’m not going to shut you in a house in Boston and make you my housewife. Danneel’s there, so it won’t just be me--”
“Danneel hates me now,” Jared says, bitter.
“But if you stay here,” Jensen continues, ignoring Jared’s interruption, “you’re never going to get out. Just think about it.”
Jared shakes his head helplessly, looking equal parts flabbergasted and conflicted, and Jensen hoists himself up off the couch.
“I’m gonna take a walk,” he announces to the floor. “I’ll be back in an hour.”
Slipping outside, Jensen pulls his coat tight around him even though it barely classifies as cool, and starts trudging along the dirt path wondering what the hell he just got himself into.
The rest of the night is awkward to say the least, but Hannah’s warming up to him little by little. No great strides yet, but she doesn’t immediately run to Jared every five minutes, so it’s a start. That warm feeling Jensen got when he first saw her that morning never really goes away, just burrows deeper into his chest as he spends more time with her. He and Jared don’t really talk, and by the time he leaves, eager to not have a confrontation with Jeff or Jared’s mama, he’s unsure of how things are gonna go.
“Maybe I can call?” he asks quietly. “I know she’s not even two, but she can say words at least? Listen to me through the telephone.”
“Of course you can,” Jared says. “And--Jensen? I’ll--I’ll think about it.”
“Okay,” Jensen replies, and then he’s giving Hannah a tentative kiss on the forehead, feeling equal parts stupid and comforted. The road home seems a lot longer through the dark.
Jensen doesn’t tell Danneel where he went, just returns the keys and lets her know that the truck’s gas tank is full, but by the way she looks at him, he thinks she already knows. He apologizes to her, low and honest, because she’s his best friend, has been for a long time, and she takes it in stride with a hug and a punch on the shoulder.
“Stop acting like a dumbass,” she chides.
“I’m trying,” he admits, but that’s as far as he’ll go in telling her what he’s done, because if it falls through, he wants to be alone in knowing about it.
The next couple of weeks are weird and slow; Boston’s covered in gray-brown slush, cold and miserable, and Jensen gets through midterms by the grace of coffee alone. He calls Jared once or twice, careful to plan it so he’ll be the only one home, and doesn’t say more than two words to him, just spends a couple of minutes listening to Hannah babble into the telephone. It’s a useless exercise, but it makes him feel less likely to go insane with everything.
Then, a week before the end of February, everything happens in quick succession. Katie calls and lets him know that, as long as he can provide the housing committee with a valid marriage certificate, he’s got a place in student family housing. Two days after that, Jared sends him a text, a simple i’ve thought about it. okay. i’ll come. Genevieve sends him a less maudlin text, detailing that they’ll be driving up a week from Wednesday, and he’d better not be fucking around.
Only then does he tell Danneel, because he’s sick with nerves; doesn’t know if he did the right thing. She tuts, makes him cookies because that’s what Sam always does when Danneel doesn’t feel well, and tells him that he’s an idiot. “I hope this works for you,” she says. “I’m tired of watching you fall apart.”
Honestly, he’s not sure it will, and he almost calls Jared about ten different times to tell him to stay in Texas, but sooner rather than later, he’s made an appointment with the civil court to get married that Friday (married, honestly, what the fuck is he thinking), and his dorm room’s beginning to look like a disaster zone.
Danneel meets Jensen that Wednesday in her ratty tennis shoes and oversized coat. “Moving in the middle of winter is the worst fucking idea I’ve ever heard,” she grumbles as they pile boxes and suitcases into the bed of her truck.
“It’s March,” Jensen points out.
Danneel gives him a Look. “It’s Boston,” she says like he’s a moron.
Jensen doesn’t have much, but it still takes them two trips to get all of his furniture into his new place. The housing department is letting him move in as long as he can provide the proof that he’s married by the next Friday.
It’s nearly four by the time Genevieve and Jared roll into town in Jim’s rusted Ford pick-up, and Jensen’s heart skips a beat when it appears on the bend of the road. He’s loitering just outside the door, leaving Danneel to greet them. It’s snowing, light fluffs from the sky, and Jensen’s a little surprised Genevieve managed to get into the city in one piece.
Jensen stops being pathetic as soon as the truck lurches into park and goes to stand next to Danneel. Gen’s the first one out, bounding around the truck, shivering in her too-light jacket.
“Heater crapped out an hour ago,” she says, giving Danneel a quick, stilted hug before wrapping one arm around Jensen’s neck. “You guys are crazy. It’s freezing here.”
“I’d say you get used to it, but I’d be lying,” Danneel says dryly.
The door creaks, and Jared practically tumbles out. He’s not wearing a jacket--just in his t-shirt even though it’s twenty degrees out, and Jensen knows why as soon as he plucks Hannah out from her car seat in the back; she’s wrapped in Jared’s coat. When he turns around, his shoulders are hunched, unsure, but Jensen can still see the bright purple bruise that has blossomed high on Jared’s cheek.
Hannah looks a Jensen, smiles gummily, and buries her face in Jared’s shoulder coyly, and something skip-stutters in Jensen’s chest.
“Hi,” he says roughly, feeling Danneel and Gen’s eyes on him. “Let’s get inside before you get hypothermia.”
Danneel tuts, shakes her head, and hugs Jared awkwardly around Hannah. “Been a long time,” she says, and she sounds ashamed.
Jared smiles, low and secret. “It’s okay,” he mumbles, and together they shuffle inside. Jared and Genevieve poke around--it’s not much of an apartment, but it’ll do in a pinch, a largish bedroom with one queen bed, a family room, a small kitchen and a smaller bathroom. Genevieve raises her eyebrow, but Jared doesn’t say anything except for, “This is our new home, baby girl,” quietly to Hannah, who’s chewing on her clenched fist in an absentminded way.
Because Genevieve drove the entire way, she’s allowed to keep Hannah company while Jared, Jensen, and Danneel unload. It takes a while; just like Jensen, Jared has his whole life in that truck, and it’s dark by the time they’re done. Jared immediately sets to putting the crib together, with Danneel’s help, and Jensen orders a pizza before flopping down next to Genevieve on his ratty Target futon.
“You sure you know what you’re doing?” she asks, quietly enough that Jared and Danneel don’t hear. Hannah’s asleep with her head pillowed on Gen’s thigh, and Jensen puts his hand on her back to feel the steady cadence of her breath.
“No idea,” he admits.
“Good to know,” she sighs.
Back before everything went down, Jensen knew for a fact that he’d marry Jared one day. He’d had a plan to propose by Christmas in the first year of college, with his grandpa’s old ring ready to be worn, but then everything went to hell. The wedding that transpires that Friday is nothing what he imagined.
He and Jared have the marriage license, paid in full from Jensen’s savings, and the judge is bored and complacent as he marries them. Jared’s pale, and Jensen doesn’t know what he’s doing, but Genevieve and Danneel are their witnesses, and Hannah claps when the judge finishes the rites and allows them their kiss. It’s quick, perfunctory, but it still sends a shiver up Jensen’s spine and he hates himself a little for that. His grandpa’s ring fits squarely on Jared’s finger, and somehow, Jared’s managed to get a ring himself, though how he got that past Jeff, Jensen will never know.
Danneel takes them out to eat after, and the whole evening is quiet, subdued. Jared is careful to avoid Jensen’s touch, paying much too much attention to Hannah, who is fascinated by the snow falling outside.
Their first night as a married couple is starkly different than it should be. They’re sharing the bed, because Jensen told Jared he was being stupid if he thought they’d trade off for the futon, but even so, they spend each night hugging the very edge, keeping their cold feet to themselves. Jensen insists on getting up with Hannah at least half of the time when she randomly wakes up in the middle of the night, and even though she’s still shy, he can tell she’s warming up to him.
Genevieve has to leave to go back home, and Jared’s practically in a state of depression for the next week. He and Jensen barely spoke anyways, but at least before, he’d been animated when someone came over. Danneel tries, but it’s obvious it’s not working.
Jensen’s playing with Hannah on the floor one night, abandoning his homework because she’d toddled up to him for the first time ever when he’d gotten home and said, “Play?” and there’s no way he could ignore that. She has these duplo blocks, obviously second hand, and a careworn doll that she keeps getting distracted with, peppering Jensen’s face with pretend doll kisses. Jensen doesn’t know what she’s imagining, but she seems happy enough, and she’s actually comfortable around him tonight, and that’s big.
Jared kind of wanders out of the kitchen; it was his turn to clean up dinner, and Jensen practically rolls his eyes, because Jared’s just slouching along like he’s Eeyore or some shit.
“If you didn’t want to come here,” he says, keeping up a cheerful voice so Hannah doesn’t catch on, “why did you?”
Jared doesn’t answer, just sits down across from Jensen and starts absentmindedly playing with two blocks. “You’re good with her,” he says. “A natural.”
“I still don’t know what I’m doing,” Jensen returns. “And don’t avoid the question. I hate it when you do that.”
“I did want to come here,” Jared says stubbornly. “It’s just--I don’t know what you want from me. It’s a new city, and I don’t have a purpose here.”
The words sort of eat at Jensen’s stomach. “Look,” he says, “I thought a lot about asking you to come up here. And maybe it was a rash decision, but it’s done now. We’re going to make the best of it.”
“That’s not a good start to a marriage, Jensen,” Jared laughs bitterly.
“It’s the best I can do,” Jensen says honestly. “And maybe we can work on being friends again?” Jensen’s not entirely sure he can go through with it--the words are like ash in his mouth--but the way Jared looks up hopefully makes him stick with his resolve.
“I’d like that,” he says softly. “I don’t know if I told you, but I missed you. A lot.”
Jensen’s about to say that Jared didn’t have the right to miss him. It was Jared who did this, Jared who fucked everything up, but he’s so sick of feeling like this. So instead, he swallows his pride, his anger. “The first year I was here? Kept waking up thinking you’d be right there. And then I’d remember.”
Jared looks at Jensen for a long while, and then Hannah clumsily stands up and puts her chubby hand on Jensen’s cheek. “No sad,” she says.
Jensen laughs in spite of himself and gets a smile in return. “That’s papa,” Jared encourages. “Can you say papa?”
Hannah looks at him blankly. “Doll,” she says, and then plops back down and starts using her doll as a battering ram to knock over teetering block towers.
“Amazing,” Jensen says drily. “I’m surprised she even learned to talk with you teaching her.” For a second, he thinks Jared’s going to take offense, but he just laughs again.
“I have my tricks,” he says, winking.
Hannah’s warmed to him, but she’s still clingy with Jared sometimes, hangs off of him unless he gives her encouragement to see Jensen instead, and that hurts a little. He’s such a stranger to his own kid that they don’t even know each other, not really, not yet. She only ever says a few words at a time to him, giving him wary looks sometimes, hiding her eyes behind her hands when he pays her too much attention. When he spies on her and Jared, she’s much more animated, louder, more demanding.
He doesn’t ask Jared about it, even though he wants to. It’s something he thinks he needs to figure out himself, and if Jared could do it, so can he. He tries to be patient with her, accessible, nurturing. It takes some time, but he thinks she’s getting used to him, day by day, beginning to realize that he’s going to stick around. She lets him read to her, spends more time playing with him, explaining her games in disjointed, toddler sentences.
But, the biggest indication that she’s finally accepted him comes on a miserable day at the end of March. Jensen comes home, from an awful shift full of wet people rudely demanding coffee to Jared, who’s obviously in a terrible mood himself. Hannah’s face is ruddy, and she keeps rubbing her eyes and shooting Jared dirty looks.
“Finally,” Jared huffs, even though Jensen’s hardly late. For a second, Jensen allows himself to be surprised, because this is the first time he thinks he’s heard Jared speaking frustratedly at him in a long time.
“What’s got your underwear in a bunch?” he mutters, oddly defensive, and by the way Jared’s brow furrows angrily, it was the wrong thing to say.
“You try staying home all day with a cranky toddler,” he shoots back, unprecedented, and Jensen doesn’t like his tone.
“I”m sorry,” Jensen says, sweeping his arms grandly. “I was only trying to work to earn enough money to feed us. Didn’t know sitting on your ass looking after your kid would be so tiring!”
Jared flinches at that, but his face is still contorted, ugly in fury. “You’re so full of yourself,” he hisses, and Jesus, Jensen doesn’t even know what he did for this.
“Ses’me Street,” Hannah says, pulling at the hem of Jensen’s shirt and holding out the remote. Jensen ignores her.
“And you’re spoiled,” Jensen retorts, even though that can’t be further from the truth. Jared recoils even further and then sweeps to the kitchen, coming back with his keys in hand, and his wallet.
“Fine,” he says, faux-calmly, nostrils flaring. “I’ll just take my pampered ass down to the grocery store to spend all of your hard-earned money.” He’s out the door before Jensen can say something further, kindle the fire into a full-blown blaze. He’s still gaping at the door when Hannah pulls at his shirt again, demanding in a louder voice, “Ses’me Street!” She whacks his shin with the remote and a shock of pain shoots up his spine.
“Hannah!” he barks. “We do not hit people with the remote!” He immediately feels stupid for saying it like that, but shit, that hurt.
She doesn’t do anything but crinkle her nose, and Jensen doesn’t think she’s ever been this angry around him. “SES’ME STREET!” she shrieks, throwing the remote down and stamping her little feet. The remote explodes, sending its batteries shooting under the couch, and Jensen can only gape for a second before he regains coherent thought.
“Hannah,” says Jensen sternly, still bewildered but firm, as he kneels down to look at her in the eye, his knee making unfortunate contact with a sharp piece of plastic. “Do not throw things. You know better.”
The words don’t do anything to pacify her; she only wails louder, and Jensen gets to his feet, only to stoop down to pick her up. “Time out,” he tells her.
“No!” she screams. “No, no, no, nonono!”
“Yes,” he says, and he’s putting her on this little carpet square that Jared has designated as her time-out spot. She keeps trying to get off, but Jensen doesn’t let her, plunking her down again and again until she keeps put, wailing herself into tiny whimpers.
“Are you ready to behave?” he asks her, arching an eyebrow. She’s sniffling and scuffing her foot against the ground, but she’s definitely calmed down some.
“Yes,” she mumbles, her lower lip trembling.
“What do you say?” Jensen asks, feeling like he’s parroting Jared’s words, but he really doesn’t have anything better.
“I sorry, poppa,” she apologizes, and it sounds sincere enough. She’s not old enough to have fully mastered the art of lying.
“Go play,” he tells her, and she scampers out of time out to her doll. Jensen collapses on the couch, watching her, thinking of his homework and ultimately ignoring it. By the time Jared gets home with wet hair and two bags of bargain-groceries, Hannah’s bathed and in bed, but that’s all Jensen had the energy for. Jared looks mollified himself, and slightly abashed but defiant.
“Sorry for storming out,” Jared says lamely.
“Hannah had her first ever tantrum with me,” Jensen says, massaging away the headache that’s settled behind his eyes. Somehow, this seems important.
Jared just looks at him, his expression slightly softer. “Really?” he asks.
“Got me in the leg with the remote because I wouldn’t let her watch TV,” Jensen explains. “I’ll have a bruise for sure.”
Jared makes a little amused noise, smiling slightly.
“That’s good, isn’t it?” Jensen presses on. “I’m not stupid, am I?”
“You’re happy she wants to misbehave around you?” Jared asks incredulously, but he continues before Jensen can say anything more. “But, yeah, Jensen, I think so. She’s getting more comfortable around you. I can tell.”
For some reason, hearing that aloud makes something heavy bloom in Jensen’s chest. “Good,” he says. “That’s good, I think.”
“Yeah it is,” Jared agrees. “Means she’s beginning to really understand you’re her papa.” It’s sappy, but Jared says it baldly, without much emotion, and the feeling in the pit of Jensen’s stomach warms even further.
“I’m sorry,” he says meekly, because he really is. “You aren’t spoiled. I didn’t mean it.”
“Thanks,” Jared says softly. “I’m sorry too. It was just...a bad day.”
“I got that,” Jensen says dryly, but the air has been cleared between them, and they spend the rest of the night in companionable silence.