By the Letter

A/N: 12387 words. Beta'd by [info]cee, who's the cream in my coffee.

So Jared has an iPod. He's not one of those guys that has to have every little gadget that comes out, but he likes music. Sometimes it annoys Jensen, because Jared will listen to it between takes when they're playing PSP together, and it's less fun if they aren't taunting each other about being losers.

And so, when Jared gets called off to do something or other one day, and he leaves the thing curled up in the director's chair right next to Jensen's, Jen figures it's only right. Jared shouldn't be so trusting. Someone could take advantage.

Someone who knows how to change the names on all his playlists.

He grabs up the little white box, taps and spins it to bring up Jared's music. There's a huge list of things: Country, Crip, Home, Sherry (who the hell is Sherry? Jensen wonders), Inside Front Pocket, Cash, Hollywood, shit like that. Jen's scrolling through, memorizing names so he can switch them, and then one of the words catches his eye.


Of course, Jen immediately sets one of the buds in his ear, and pushes play. In his head, he is laughing and laughing. God, Jared's hilarious. Like a twelve year old girl with a mix tape, honestly.

But as the first notes slip into his ears, Jensen's smile begins to fade. Five seconds in, and it's gone completely. His eyes lock on this one little section of grass by his feet, unseeing, as he tries to fake being all right for anyone who might glance over at him.

He's not all right.

The high, dirty-delicate voice rings in his ears, Jared's amped-up base line thudding behind it. He's trying to think of a way - any way at all - that this makes sense. The song is so familiar that, once he remembers what it is, he can even spell it right, in his head.

u got the horn so why don't u blow it
u are fine
u're filthy cute and baby u know it

Jen shakes his head, trying to clear it. This can't be what he thinks it is. It just can't.

The little movement pulls one of the ear buds free, and as Prince's voice fades Jensen hears Jared laughing around the other side of a nearby trailer, heading this way. He thwacks the little white button and flails the other bud out of his ear, lets it drop on Jared's chair. It lands haphazardly, all tangling wires, and Jen grabs up his PSP and pretends he never saw the fucking iPod before in his life.

Jared, when he arrives, starts talking about the prank he just pulled on Intern B before he even sits down, all smiles and gleeful mischief. Jen plays along, and Jared doesn't seem to notice a thing.

Maybe it's just all Prince songs.

Maybe he knew I'd hear it, maybe it's just designed to screw with me, a double cross. That sounds like him, the fucker.

He doesn't think of me like that. We're not like that. It can't be.

It's probably just random.

It's not random, it's got my name on it.

He's got a girlfriend.

Jensen gives his head a shake - for probably the fiftieth time since he listened to those songs - and it takes him about ten seconds to piece together the following facts into a reasonable deduction:

Conclusion: I am grocery shopping.
Jensen sighs, puts the box into his cart, and thanks God that he made a list, and that it's easily visible.

See, Jared's never made a secret of the fact that he's bisexual. It's not like it's news.

Jensen leans back against the Impala's headrest, waiting for the lighting guys to set up the shot. Jared's not around, the scene doesn't call for Sam, so he's pigging out in the kitchen tent. That kid can put away food like nobody's business.

It only stands to reason, Jen figures. He blushes at the thought - hates to sound arrogant, even in his own head - but it's true. Jensen's older, they spend all day together anyway. And he's got no illusions about the fact that he's considered pretty by some people.

Jared sat him down right when they started out, right when they were first getting to be friends. Jen remembers it perfectly; they were in his Vancouver loft and they had beers and the game on TV, and Jared had said if they were going to be friends, there was something Jen should know. I like guys. I like girls, too, but I also like guys. I'm bisexual. I just don't want there to be any misunderstandings between us, I want to be honest about it because I don't want you to be, y'know, blindsided with it one day. I figure I say it now, and then you can get used to it or whatever. You can... I dunno, know what you're getting.

And sure, it freaked Jensen out a little at the beginning, but he got used to it. He's an open-minded guy, he always figured; not gay, but he doesn't have to be. He's from Dallas, for Christ's sake, he's not some bigoted redneck who can't see past stuff like that.

Besides, at the time he'd thought it was cool for Jared to be so honest. He said as much, right there on his couch, after he'd had a second to absorb it. It was open and thoughtful and really mature of the guy, and he figured if Jared could handle Jensen knowing about it, then Jen could handle knowing about it. It would just be that simple.

Now, sitting in the Impala, the words of the song still pulsing through his head, Jen mentally squares his shoulders. I knew he had this thing, he tells himself. Jared's not a total slut when we're out at the bar or anything, far from it. Jen remembers Jared saying he was "mostly straight" - real particular about what kind of guys he found attractive, was all. Jen knows that Jared's particular about his girls, too.

He's just a guy. A guy Jensen knows, likes, and works with, and he'll just have to deal with there being a slightly-gay card in the mix. He knew it was there.

The lighting guys knock on Jen's roof as they stand up and clear the frame - it's time. Jen puts on his Dean face and gets ready for the scene, feeling that firm conviction in his gut.

He's used to being... looked at, like that. It's fine. It's flattering. And it's not like Jared's going to go all crazy or anything. He's Jared. It's fine. It'll be fine.

Really, it doesn't change anything.

Behind him, a horn blares, and Jen realizes he forgot to signal before changing lanes.

Jared won't push it, he tells himself, as he guiltily waves an apology at the car behind him. It never would have happened if I hadn't been poking around his iPod anyway, so it'll never come up, because Jared doesn't know. I didn't change anything. Everything should be fine.

Everything's fine.

Jensen's a thinker. He overthinks, everybody that knows him has told him that at one time or another. His mama says it's 'cause he's so bright; she touches his hair into place and looks at him with that sweet, fond mom look in her eyes, and Jen is four years old again, trying to squirm out from under it, aw, mama. Still, it's not like she's wrong.

Banging his dishes around his kitchen, Jen tries not to think about it. He tries not to hear the music in his head, the lyrics. He tries as hard as he can not to analyze it, burying his hands in the soap and warm water. It's like he needs to, as if he can't just toss them in the dishwasher like he usually does, can't kick back on the couch. There's a knot in his gut, uncomfortable and twisting.

He doesn't want to think about it. He wishes he could just forget the sound of that song, the beat of it. It'd be so much easier if he could just forget it.

Mama always said he had a memory like an elephant.

It plays in his head, high guitar riffs and twanging wow pedal on the guitar. It figures, Jared would like that, the twang - much as he tries to hide it, he's such a country boy. He hits blanks in the lyrics, places he doesn't remember the words. It's been a while since he heard the song in its entirety, like on the radio or something. And then he can't remember how the next verse starts, and he can't stand it anymore. He leaves the sink full, dries off his hands and heads for his computer, disgusted with himself. He sits down and pulls up a search page.

cream prince lyrics

He stares at it for a full second before hitting 'enter'.

Jen reads what comes up with a sense of numb shock. In the forty-eight hours or so since he heard this song come up attached to his name, that's pretty much been his default mode: numb shock.

The explanations race through his head as he leans back in the chair; he rubs a hand over his face and sighs. Could be any one of a dozen reasons, but there's no way to be sure unless he just outright asks, and there's no way he's doing that. How do you ask a question like that? Hey, man, I was fucking with your iPod and I heard this song on a playlist with my name on it, and this song makes it sound like you maybe want to sleep with me. What's up with that?

Jen laughs, short and frustrated, and leans forward in his chair. He leans his elbows on his knees and stares at his blank TV in the next room as he tries to think of a way out of this. He scrolls through as many options as he can think of, from the simple (listen to the song so many times he never wants to hear it again, let alone think of it) to the complex (quit the show, get job as a circus manager).

Finally he just gives it up, goes to bed and resolves to work so hard tomorrow he can just come straight home, fall down and sleep, and not have to think about this one more second.

Jen jerks awake. He glances at the clock on his bedside table and the glowing red numbers tell him it's four in the morning.

That's it, he decides, slapping a hand over his face. That's just fucking it.

Jen figures that by the time you're dreaming of being chased by the symbol that Prince changed his name into, something's gotta be done. Or you'll just go insane.

And then finally it dawns on him, the best way to figure out what that song means - if it's a fluke, or if it really means what he thinks it does. It's got to be a fluke, but his brain won't let him rest until he knows, and there's just one way. He sits back in his chair, struck with the possibility, mind swimming with ways to go about it.

He's got to get hold of that iPod and listen to the rest of the playlist.

They slam empty shot glasses down on the table in unison, and Jared howls with the burn of the tequila, thumping his hands on the table. Jen grins at him. "Man, you're such a lightweight."

Jared has had much more to drink than Jensen has. That, after all, was the plan.

Jared, flushed and beaming at him, points his index finger in Jen's face. "Careful," he smiles. "I'll get you hammered and take advantage of you, and then you'll be sorry."

He's supposed to laugh. He's supposed to laugh and hit Jared in the shoulder and say he'd have better luck with the big, hairy bartender. But Jen forgets to do that stuff, takes a sip of his beer, and tries not to feel his cheeks burning.

Jared, blessedly oblivious as ever, cracks up and punches Jen in the shoulder instead. He climbs unsteadily to his feet and slides out from the table. "Where's the can in this dive?" He stumbles off without waiting for an answer, and Jen watches him go.

And he feels like a bastard.

Jared never goes anywhere without that fucking iPod. On set it's either in his hand, or in his chair. He picks it up the second they get back from the shoot. He never leaves it in his car, never loses it, and always notices if it's missing. Right now, it's in his jacket pocket, which is hanging over the back of Jared's chair, right next to Jensen. It's reasonable to assume, if they are both drunk, that someone could have lifted it when Jared wasn't looking. And Jen planned to buy him another one.

But now...

He's a friend, God damn it. Jared's a friend, and Jen is supposed to be watching out for him, not thieving his stuff. He's not supposed to be prying into Jared's private life, into his thoughts or emotions. Jen's just obviously too much of a coward to come right out and ask him, and he's a lying sneak thief who shouldn't be called human. He drops his head onto his arms, crossed on the table.

He can't do it.

Jared comes back from the bathroom, slings himself into the chair and throws an arm around Jen's shoulders. "Hey, hey," he whispers, beer-warm breath on Jensen's ear. "I was talking to these two girls at the bar over there. They told me they don't watch TV, but they think you're cuuuute." Jen elbows him, can't resist a smile, and Jared laughs. "Come on, man, you wanna?"

Jensen laughs softly, and then really laughs, and then they're climbing to their feet and heading over to the bar to flirt. Jen doesn't think about the fucking iPod again for the rest of the night.

"Come on, Sam," calls the set manager.

Jared jumps out of his chair and heads off after the guy, turning mid-stride to give Jensen an 'I'm cool' thumbs-up. (Such a lie, thinks Jen, waving after him.) They're shooting a scene where Sam's alone, getting attacked by this monster, and he's supposed to think he's all alone, that Dean's abandoned him. Jensen's been forbidden to be anywhere nearby - the director thinks Jared'll have an easier time emoting all alone if Jensen isn't right there, and he's not wrong. So Jen kicks back and picks up the book he's reading, ignoring the empty chair beside him.

He spends so long side by side with Jared that it feels weird with him gone. It's nice, sometimes, when he needs the privacy, but when he doesn't, it's like he imagines it must be for an amputee that hasn't had an arm in twenty years. It doesn't hurt, it's accustomed and normal, but somehow it still feels weird, even though it shouldn't. It's strange, Jensen knows, but if there's one thing he can usually let go, it's the stuff in his own head. Sometimes he just thinks things, and doesn't choose to pick apart his reasons. It came out of his own brain, so on some level he must have thought it through. So whatever.

A glint at the corner of his eye grabs his attention, and he turns - something's on Jared's chair. He feels a moment of terror that it might be a big bug: ever since they shot that scene in 'Bugs' and he'd completely refused to be on set at the same time as that giant fucking tarantula, Jared can't resist leaving little plastic things around just to torment him. The fucker. How could he pick that thing up with his bare hand? God, it gives Jensen the creeps just to think about it.

What lies in the cradle of Jared's chair isn't a bug. As Jen turns to look at it, he instantly realizes that it's something much more dangerous than that.

The boxy white body of the thing lies heavily, pulling the fabric down. The long, thin, white strands come curling off it, pooling stark on the black chair. Jensen stares at it.

It stares back.

He watches it for a full sixty seconds before picking it up and putting the buds in his ears. He finds the playlists already queued up, and there's his name, just like before. When he taps the button, a song starts up halfway through - it's the last thing Jared was listening to, it seems.

Jensen sits back, and pays attention.

By the time Jared gets back, the iPod is curled up just as he left it. Jensen is reading calmly, and says "Hey, man, how'd it go?" and Jared starts up like a match to kindling. Sam's motivation, the direction the show's going in, the relationship between Sam and Dean, global warming, chickens, beer.

Jensen doesn't say much of anything except nodding and murmuring to keep Jared going, and that's perfectly normal. Jared doesn't notice that Jen's knuckles have gone white on his book.

The rest of the day's shooting goes well. There's supposed to be heaps of tension between the brothers and Jensen nails every line, sketching the elephant in the room with his voice, with the way he holds himself. It isn't hard. Jared claps him on the back between takes; at first he's congratulating Jen on how well it's going, but as the day draws on Jensen's front gets harder to hold on to when the camera isn't rolling. Jared's too smart for his own good - that's one of the reasons Jen likes him - but it's pretty fucking inconvenient right now.

When they wrap, Jen throws his stuff into the little locker in his trailer. Sounds from Jared's iPod pound in his head, no less deafening now than they were when he first heard them. There were songs he recognized and songs he didn't, but he feels no need to go Google the lyrics, no need to try to get the names or the artists. There's no need at all.

He knows what they mean.

There's a sharp knock at his door. "Jensen?" Jared's muffled voice drifts through the aluminum, concern coloring his tone.

Jen sighs, closes the locker and stands up. He shrugs on his jacket and heads for the door with every intention of just going straight to the parking lot, enduring Jared for as long as he has to until he can get home, where he'll shut himself in and find some way not to think. They're off tomorrow - maybe he'll hit the bar, get a little something to drink. Better yet, get a lot of something.

Jared's standing there in the low light, looking up at him. His thumbs are tucked in his pockets, his arms more or less straight; he glances up through his too-long bangs at Jen and looks like a kicked puppy. Jen feels, instantly, like the most vile bastard ever to crawl the earth. "Hey, Jared," he says, guilty enough to have the words warmer than he meant to say them.

That big, dorky smile curves Jared's lips, and his eyes brighten. "I thought you were mad at me or something. You been weird all night tonight."

"Sorry about that," Jen says, trying to dredge up some guilty excuse. "I guess I just, I had some bad food or something. I'm not feeling right."

Worry instantly replaces that hangdog look, crooking up Jared's eyebrows and making him reach out to touch Jensen's arm. "What? Man, I didn't even notice. Are you okay?"

God, I am scum. Jensen fidgets with the change in his pocket. "Yeah, yeah, man, don't worry about it. I'm fine."

"Well, come on, the jeep's right over there. I'll take you home." He sounds earnest and sincere and like a good guy, like a friend. And earlier today, Jensen invaded his privacy like nobody's business, and now he's lying about it. Jared claps him once on the shoulder, just light.

"Yeah," Jen says, nodding. "Yeah, thanks, that'd be good."

"All right," Jared says approvingly, smiling at a thousand watts.

They climb in Jared's jeep and take off. Jared asks if Jen's got a headache, and when Jen says he doesn't, he starts off: basketball, why loafers are stupid shoes, mortgage rates, don't make fun of me for the candles, they smell nice, you should try some. Jen can't help but smile. Given time and the proper equipment, Jen's reasonably sure you could power a small house off the kinetic energy generated by Jared's mouth. By the time they get to Jen's house, he's participating in the conversation like he usually does - little digs and opinions he doesn't mean, just to rile Jared up, get him ranting. He's hilarious when he rants, and Jared knows Jen finds it funny, but he does it anyway and laughs along.

When they pull up outside Jensen's door it's all of a sudden awkward. Jared rubs one hand over the back of his neck, fingers of the other resting on the steering wheel. He doesn't say anything. Jen coughs.

"Well," Jen begins, trying for hearty and coming out reluctant. "Thanks for the lift, man." He climbs out of the car and shuts the door behind him, but then Jared's there, leaning across the seats and looking at him out the window.

"Jen, listen. I got some beer in the back. You wanna hang out, maybe?" Jen studies his face, sincere and maybe a little worried. His eyes are huge, his face soft in the dim light. "I just don't think you should be alone right now, that's all. You been weird, like I said, and..."

He trails off. Jen looks at him and just stands there, his inner monologue floundering for anything to say to that that isn't -

"Sure. Of course, yeah. Come on, help me with it."

Jared grins, his shining bright smile, and disappears from the window as Jen goes around the back of the jeep and flips through stuff until he finds the stash of beer. Jared appears by his side and they lift boxes of longnecks out and into their arms.

Jen rents a little townhouse in Vancouver, a nice place, good neighborhood. If they were in Boston, he'd call it a brownstone - New England steps, brick front, garden out front with lots of greenery creeping its way up the stairs. Jen leads the way up and unlocks his door, not a little freak-out-ity, despite his best intentions.

Jared, however, just brushes him aside and marches in the front door like it's nothing. He toes off his shoes, disappears through the living room into the kitchen, and Jen can hear the clink of the bottles hitting the counter. He smiles and follows along; when he arrives in the kitchen, Jared's hoisted himself up on the counter and is sitting there, swinging his feet and swilling down beer like absolutely nothing could be wrong with the world. Jen just has to grin to see it, because that's Jared. Making life easy, doing what makes perfect sense when Jen's head is chaos.

"Make yourself useful," Jared drawls, grinning and wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. "We need snacks."

Jen snorts and rolls his eyes. "Maybe you need snacks. Some of us are just fine with beer."

Jared's eyes narrow. "Sandwiches, or I find your Gummi bear stash."

"...I hate you."

"No, you don't."

"Shut up."

"You shut up."

"Shut up or no sandwiches."

Jared swipes his thumb and index finger across his smiling lips, and then throws away the key.

Jensen unwraps the cheese slice and lays it on the buttered bread, listens to the sizzle. "I still can't believe you like this crap." He smiles.

Jared leans back against the cabinets and grins. "You eat it anyway," he points out, and Jen makes a face at him. He just laughs.

Jen makes a hell of a real grilled cheese sandwich, if he does say so himself, but Jared really likes the cheese slices so Jen's taken to stocking them in his fridge. He's over at Jared's place much more frequently than Jared's over here, but it happens often enough that Jen takes care. He was raised to look after his guests, and he kind of likes to - not to mention that every time he grabs a package out of the dairy cooler, he gets to make a face and mock Jared in his head. It's fun.

Behind him, he hears the top crack off another beer, hears the bubbles making their way to the top. Jen's still ahead - that's Jared's second, and Jen's already on his third. "Lightweight," Jen accuses softly, and even though he's watching the sandwiches brown in the pan, he can practically feel Jared's mock-offended face.

"You are so full of shit," Jared insists, and Jen hears the swish and pop of him taking a swig off the beer, just to prove him wrong. Jen smiles; Jared's so easy.

And that could lead to unfortunate thoughts, but Jen reins himself in sharply. They've got a good vibe going now, something easy and comfortable and normal. He's not going to fuck that up just because of his own stupid head. Caused enough trouble, he thinks.

"Almost there," Jen says, spotting the cheese melting over the crust. He flips them and they sizzle all over again.

"Dude," Jared says, slipping off the counter and pacing around. Jen smiles again, secretly. Too easy.

Finally they're done, and Jen spatulas one up and slides it onto the plate, picture perfect. It lands with the pat of cooked bread hitting porcelain, and Jen goes for the next one.

In the space of a breath, he feels Jared come up behind him - right up behind him. There's warmth at his back, the brush of Jared's chest and chin, and a long arm reaching past his side toward the finished sandwich. Any other time, this would be his cue to whack Jared's fingers with the stick part of the spatula, to yell about being greedy or maybe elbow him. Any other day, that's what he'd do.

Tonight, Jensen freezes. He goes still and stiff and cold, and Jared pauses all by himself before sliding cautiously away, leaving the grilled cheese right where it is. There's a cool click as his beer bottle touches down on the counter, and then a hand on Jensen's shoulder.

"Jen." Jared sounds serious, voice low down and meaningful. Jensen's never heard it sound like that before. "Jensen, what is it? Tell me."

Jen twists out from under that big hand, hitching up his shoulder as he turns. Jared lets him go, and then Jen's facing him. Facing the whole thing.

His chest is tight and hurts a little. He's tense, on edge, nervous as all hell, but Jensen has never been one to let fear get hold of him, or let it guide his actions. Jensen takes this kind of thing by the horns. He has all his life.

"I... I fucked with your iPod." Jared goes to smile, to laugh it off, but Jen just looks at him, and the smile fades. When Jen finally goes to say it, it pours out like someone hit his fast-forward button. "I found your playlists, and there was one with my name, and I listened to it, and now I don't know what to think."

Jared stares at him. The silence stretches. "Oh."

"I know," Jen blurts, guilt cutting into him sharp and deep. "I didn't mean... I'm such a fucking..." He can't come up with a word bad enough.

"Well... hey," Jared says, in the most soothing tone. He sounds a little sad, too, but he reaches out and bats Jen lightly on the arm, just a cheer up maneuver. "It's okay, man. Don't tear yourself up over it. It's just music."

Jen breathes, feels things shift and grind in him. His head is a riot of conflicting thoughts and emotions, a thousand objections raised and dismissed, and then a thousand more.

"Let's just eat," Jared says, and he reaches for the sandwich.

And Jensen almost goes with that. Almost.

His hand falls on Jared's wrist, stopping him before he reaches the plate. "Wait a second." Jared looks up at him, eyes widening a little at the touch, at Jen's critical eyes. "Just wait one second," Jen says, and then pauses, looking hard into Jared's face, as if he could see the truth just by squinting a little. There's only one thing he can think of to say, and try as he might, he can't find a way to pretty it up into polite, so he just says it.

"Jared, why do all the songs on my playlist have to do with sex?"

Jared's face undergoes the most startling transformation Jensen's ever seen it do, Sam on set included.

Jared is open and sunny and confident. Anyone can see it. It's one of the things Jensen likes best about him: even when he's Sam and he's brooding, he's openly brooding. You could walk right up and see that he's brooding, and he'd never hide it.

This time, his face just... closes.

"I thought you didn't want to talk about this," he says, his voice low and cautious. "You've been weird all day and you didn't say anything. I thought you just wanted to pretend nothing was wrong."

Jen's taken a little aback. "Yeah, well..." he fumbles, searching for the words. "I guess I was wrong, okay? Because this is... it's messing with me, Jared. I can't think anymore. I have to know."

Jared listens to that and then seems to consider it. He pulls his hand back, and Jen lets it go. "Ask me a direct question," he finally says, still shuttered away, "and I'll answer it."

"I already did," Jen says, not wanting to say it again. He still feels guilty, and this closed-off act isn't helping. He wants to tell Jared to stop it, but it's not his place. He's prying into Jared's feelings when they're almost none of his business, and he feels like a prick.

Jared fixes him with a hard look. Jen squirms under it, but holds it, and Jared lets his eyes fall away as he moves backward to lean against the counter; he folds his arms across his chest and stares at the floor. "The songs on that playlist are about how I feel about you," Jared says quietly. "But I didn't mean for you to find out. I know you're straight, and I don't chase after straight guys." He sounds firm on that, practiced, like it's something he's said to himself a hundred times before.

Jen immediately wants to kill the guy who hurt Jared enough to put those words in his head like that.

There's a silence, and Jared can't wait for long before filling it. "Don't worry about it, Jensen."

Jen brushes that off. "What about Sandy?" he asks, trying to fit the pieces together.

Jared blushes, like he does every time someone asks about Sandy. This time, Jen finds out why. "Sandy's nice, but we're just doing the PR thing. I think she has a real boyfriend somewhere, some guy from when she was in college."



They pause for a minute, and then Jen tries: "So you're... you just like guys, then?"

Jared laughs, and his bright smile breaks like the sun from behind the clouds, just for a minute. Jen feels the corners of his mouth tugging up in response, just like every other time Jared's turned on the wattage. "Man, are you kidding? I like girls, believe me. Just, Sandy, we're not like that."

"Okay," Jen nods, trying to put it together. It feels like a puzzle, something that's just edging up on his mind and maybe if he just has one or two more pieces, he can see the whole thing. Or maybe it's a distraction, this thing in his head; deep in his gut there's something stirring, some primal instinct, and he doesn't quite trust it.

"So," Jared says hopefully, "let's just eat, okay? We'll eat and have beer and it's not a big deal. Don't worry. Okay?" He unfolds from the counter and makes for the plate again, but as he comes up, Jen can see the mask up under his hopeful face, and he can't stop himself from taking Jared by the wrist again. No.

Jared stops, but just long enough to tear his hand away from Jen's, angrily. "What?" he demands, and there's honest fury in him now, just under the surface. "What do you want? I told you what you wanted to know, now what is it? Jesus, Jensen, y'all better back up off me and quit being such a prick."

All Jensen cares about is that the closed look is gone. Jared might be mad, but at least he's acting like himself again. "I know," Jen says earnestly, trying to explain. "And I'm real sorry, Jared, believe me."

"Fine, all right, I believe you," Jared says, flicking his hand, irritated. He steps in and looks straight into Jen's face, his mouth a hard-set line. "You're sorry. You done now, Jensen, or is there something else you wanna say to me?"

Jen stills and just looks at him. He's not sure what Jared's fishing for.

"Need some help?" Jared asks softly, bitterly. He's close now, very close, and almost whispering. "I know how it is. It's fine for someone to like guys, just so long as they don't do it where you can see. Just so long as you never have to think about it -"

It's hard to break in on Jared when he gets going, but somehow, Jen finds an opening. "Jared, it isn't like that, I swear."

"Oh, really?" Jared says skeptically. He's still open, not hiding a damn thing. Even though he's obviously pissed, Jen can see the hurt welling up, right there. He could almost reach out and touch it. They're nose to nose in the big wide kitchen, and Jensen refuses to back away, even though he knows Jared's trying to make him.

Jared's voice is a weapon, trying to wound. "What's it like, huh? Tell me it's different. Tell me your skin isn't crawling, that you're not dying to run but too much of a chickenshit to hit me. Come on, do it." Jared's eyes go a little wild, and he raises that deep voice, that actor's voice as his hands spread, bring it on. "Do it!"

Jen pulls him down and kisses him.

It's surprisingly gentle. Jen isn't trying to mash his head in, and Jared's in shock, so Jen just brings him down and touches their mouths together for too long to be an accident. Jared's mouth is just that little bit open, so Jen winds up with a slightly more French kiss than he'd planned, but he figures hey, if that's how you learn. It's just instinct. There's just the barest edge of his tongue anyway, just the lightest touch, and then he's pulling away and looking up into Jared's blinking impression of someone who's just been electrocuted.

"I said it's not like that, Jared," Jen says softly. "Trust me."

Jared blinks at him for a second, and Jen can practically see the wheels turning in his head. It's almost cute, watching the hamster run on the wheel. He would make a joke at any other moment, but this time it seems inappropriate. When Jared's done thinking, Jen figures, he'll say something. Because it's Jared, and Jared's a big talker, right? So he'll say something, and then Jen can explain that it freaks him out a little, yeah, but it doesn't matter that Jared likes guys, just that he likes Jensen. And then they can talk about it reasonably, and Jared won't have that hurt sound in his voice.

Except that when it all clicks together in Jared's eyes, and Jen sees it happen, the first thing he does is to slide his fingers into Jen's hair and touch their mouths together again, the sweetest possible kiss, and all Jensen can think is, This isn't talking.

It goes on for much longer than it should, but Jen doesn't want to push him away. He keeps his hands on Jared's waist, ready if it should go too far. In the meantime, Jared's just kissing Jen soft and slow, and it feels all right.

It's warm. Jen can barely taste any beer on Jared's lips, but he imagines that's because he tastes like beer, too. Jared's a really good kisser - his free arm winds around Jen's back and pulls him up close as he steps in, all careful pressure and soft licks. Jen feels his cheeks heat up. I've used that move, he thinks. I think I taught you that move.

He feels his body relaxing into Jared, that instinct in his gut slowly unfurling. He feels like he ought to stomp on it, but he doesn't. Jared just keeps going. Jen feels lightheaded, like they maybe ought to breathe soon, but he can feel himself dragging air in between the soft touches of Jared's mouth, little feather kisses at the corner of his mouth and against the full swell of his lips. It's not what he expected, that's all he can think. It's very different.

Finally, they break apart. Jared rubs his thumb over Jen's temple and looks down at him. "Jensen..."

Jen looks at him, feels the pulse pounding in his chest, his hands. "I..."

Jared brushes another soft, easy kiss over his mouth, and Jen feels heat slip down through his body, sneak thief quiet. Jared's smooth rolling thunder of a voice slides past his ear. "You wanna take this upstairs?"

Jen holds onto Jared's waist tightly, aware that he could put the distance between them now. That now is when he's supposed to make distance. There seem to be a big bunch of reasons why he should do that, but he can't think of any right this second. It just doesn't seem that important, and there are bigger things to focus on, like Jared's pressing hands, the urgent sounds he made, right there.

"Yeah," he whispers, his fingers curling in Jared's shirt. "I think I do."

Jared's arm stays wrapped firmly around Jen's waist as he backs them into the hallway, step by careful step. He never looks away from Jen's eyes, not for a second, and he leans in on every other footfall, laying careful kisses down on Jen's mouth. They're breathless and Jen is stumbling by the time they get to the stairs, and Jared kisses him once more, just a little harder, a little more involved before they break apart.

Jen turns and heads up the stairs, Jared following. He wants to hurry, doesn't want Jared quite so close to the back side of him. He has no idea what he's doing and he feels himself start to panic as he tops the stairs. "Jared..."

He turns, and Jared's there, instantly, arms winding around him and pushing him back against the wall. "Shh." His mouth comes down again, a little firmer now, pressing him so subtly to open up, to be as honest and clear as Jared is, and Jen can't help but do it. He opens his mouth, just wide enough, and then Jared's tongue is there against his lips, edging his teeth, and Jen forgets to think again.

"Which way?" Jared whispers, the words slipping over Jen's cheek, and Jen can't answer him for a second, because he honestly can't remember.

"There," he finally says, dragging the memory from his mind and pointing. Jared slides one hand down to lace their fingers together and kisses Jen again, longingly, like it'll kill him to be not kissing Jensen for the five seconds it'll take to get to the bedroom. He pulls away fast and turns, pulling Jen gently along behind him.

"This one?" Jen can only nod, and Jared pushes the bedroom door open even as he pulls Jen forward by the hand. "Come on ..." Jared drags Jen's free hand around his own waist, back where it was before they had to pull apart. It's weird, but it feels like default already, like standard. Like normal.

Jen doesn't have time to process that, though, because Jared's mouth is coming down again to erase his brain. Jen's lips are tingling, his fingertips feel numb, like he's drunk, but he knows he isn't. He takes Jared by the shirt, pressing the worn fabric into his palms with his fingernails, and feels himself kissing back - lifting his face to Jared's, angling so they fit right, closing his mouth where he should and opening it again. The minute he realizes he's doing it, he knows that's the way it's been for a while.

No time, no time. Jared's turning them, moving them, and Jen feels the bed at his calves and sits down, hard, off balance. Jared comes down with him, turning his body so he can sit beside Jensen. He slings an arm around Jen's shoulders and pulls their heads together, so they lean forehead-to-forehead.

"Okay?" he asks.

"Okay," Jen answers. The minute he says it, he's not sure if it's true - but he said it on instinct, and Jen remembers that he's supposed to trust the things he thinks, even if he hasn't thought them through. So it's okay.

"Thank God," Jared sighs, and leans in to complete the circuit. He falls backward, pulling Jen with him, so they kiss with Jen sprawled out over Jared's body. It feels comfortable, safe - Jen knows he could pull back and away if he wanted, and that if he were the one on his back, he might freak a little. Not for the first time, Jen thinks that Jared's made all the right moves. He wonders, briefly, if Jared just knows him that well, or if it's something you learn for dealing with straight guys.

And then he remembers what Jared said about straight guys and feels like a jerk again for even thinking it. He slants his mouth over Jared's, wanting to make it up to him, to erase that hurt. Jared just opens his arms and lets it happen.

Hands come up and around, pulling up Jen's shirt, sliding underneath to stroke the small of his back. They only stay there for a moment, and then Jared's moving that shirt up with little brushes of his fingers, higher and higher until he's turning his head so Jen has to stop kissing him. "Let me," Jared whispers, and Jen lifts his arms and lets Jared pull the fabric over his head. It drops on the floor, and Jared's hands are on him.

Jen feels amped up, almost shaking, like he's had too much coffee. He clutches Jared's shirt; if they were standing, Jensen would be pushing him against the wall. There's no question now about the kind of kissing they're doing - it's openmouthed, wet and languid, they're trading breath and sharing taste. Jen uses every trick he ever learned, and Jared just takes it all in, lets Jen do exactly what he wants, showing Jen with mouth and hands and needy sounds how much he wants it.

Those hands on his body are working him up higher, and he couldn't say how. Long fingers slide over his shoulders, his ribs, down his stomach and up his spine. Jared lets his palms skate lightly past Jen's nipples; Jen is kissing him and trying to stay in charge when clever fingers softly pluck them both at once. He grits his teeth and hisses in a breath; Jared's up and kissing his jaw in seconds, feeling the tension in it with his mouth.

Like a flash, Jared sits up and tears his shirt off over his head, drops it down beside Jen's on the floor. He reaches out and takes Jensen by the wrist, leans in to kiss him again. The kissing, Jensen has decided, is definitely key. The kissing has to continue.

And then his fingers are touching Jared's skin, his shoulder, Jared guiding his hand. "All right?" Jared whispers against his mouth.

Jen closes his hand on Jared's shoulder, and then opens it and slides it so cautiously down his chest. When it rests over his heart, and Jen can feel the strong beat there, he stops. It feels right, feels natural. He's had a hand over Jared's heart more times then he can count - when Jared puts his arm around Jen's shoulders, that's just where his hand happens to fall. "Yeah," he whispers back, like a secret. "I'm fine."

He is. The realization sends a chill through him, the good kind, and he slides his thumb across Jared's bare skin, experimentally.

"Good," Jared breathes, and then there's no space left between them. Jen's vision, his hands are full of Jared. The only sounds are short, sharp breaths in the dark, the heat building between them with the slide of skin on skin.

Finally Jared's hands come low, moving over Jen's hips and thighs. Jen groans and tightens his grip - the warm pressure, even through the denim, hits him hard. Then it's gone and Jared's guiding them up toward the pillows with a sure, easy touch. Under those hands, Jen lies back in his own bed and watches Jared, a man he would have called one of his best friends just yesterday dip his head, and kiss Jensen's shoulder.

He watches that shaggy hair, those wide, sweet lips as they travel down his chest, burning brands in his skin. Jen puts his hands on Jared's shoulders, slides them up and over that long, elegant neck, and tangles his fingers in dark hair. It looks black and serpentine, curling over his skin. Jared's mouth opens on his nipple and licks, bites, and Jensen groans out his name.

Something's off with this, he can feel it. Not the obvious thing, it's not that; just something isn't right. It takes Jen a minute to pin it down, and when it comes to him, it makes perfect sense.

Jared isn't talking.

When Jared is around, the air should be filled with the sound of his voice. That's what's strange here, the silence. He has no idea what Jared might be thinking. "Say something," Jen asks, and Jared lifts his head.

"Like what?"

Jen sighs, pushes his fingers through Jared's hair and lets them rest behind his neck. "I dunno, anything? I'm not used to this."

"Oh," Jared says, thoughtful. He lies down by Jen's side, his head about level with Jen's stomach, and props his cheek up on his hand. "Um..."

"Don't strain yourself." Jen smiles and Jared grins up at him, but he doesn't give in to the obvious urge to joke. Jen is surprised - it must have been a Herculean effort.

"I could tell you why I like you," he offers, tracing tender fingers down Jen's stomach. He touches the ridges and valleys made by the muscle, learning them.

Jen nods, feeling his breath get short again. He rubs his thumb over Jared's nape. "Sure. Okay."

Jared smiles and leans forward to lay a soft kiss on Jen's ribs. "I like you 'cause you're smart." He kisses again, a little further down. "And funny." Another, further in this time. "'Cause I never know what you're talking about half the time, but you always explain."

"You catch on quick," Jen clarifies, his voice shivering. Jared watches him through his eyelashes as he opens his mouth over the same spot, slipping his hot tongue over the little patch of skin.

"You don't say," he whispers, and Jen can see the flash of his teeth.

"Do that again."

Jared obliges, softly licking at Jen's skin, but lower still. He's getting closer and closer to some dangerous territory, and the moment Jen realizes that is the moment he can suddenly feel that his dick is full and throbbing, begging for touch like he's a kid with a Playboy. "Jared..."

Something in his voice must have done something, said something, because Jared slides angel-wing fingertips down Jen's chest, his belly, and lets them rest against Jen's belt. His voice, when he speaks, is so tender.

"Let me suck your cock, Jensen."

Jen's got no words, his cheeks burning, his fingers tight in Jared's hair, clenched on the coverlet. He can only nod, squeeze his eyes shut and let his head fall back against the pillows.

His belt comes undone with just a few tugs; Jared slips the buttons open so easy that Jen barely feels his hands. There's pressure, and then suddenly less pressure, and then blunt fingernails on his belly and cool air ghosting over his heated skin. Jen tosses his head to one side, can't keep still. That instinct so deep in him has its tendrils all over him now, and he knows it for what it is. He needs Jared, needs his hands or his mouth or something, and he needs it right now. It's shivering and tentative and so fragile; Jensen knows the slightest wrong move will shatter it and he desperately wants that not to happen. He thrusts his hips, just a little, because he can't help it. He needs Jared, needs him right now.

"Shh," Jared soothes, drawing a gentle hand down Jen's chest. "I'll get you there."

Jen feels cooling wetness against his skin, where the air touches him. Jared's pointed little nose touches his belly, and then a gust of warmer air slips over the head of his cock, and Jen rocks his hips helplessly against nothing.

"Lift up," Jared quietly instructs, and Jen does exactly as he asks. His jeans come skimming down, his shorts with them, and he kicks his feet free. For a second he's embarrassed to be lying there, naked and hard, but then he feels Jared's hot mouth open over the shaft of him, sucking lightly at the hot, hot skin, and he groans high in his throat and can't keep his hips on the mattress.

He feels like he wants to say something, but he's afraid to start because he'll never stop. "Please... Jared, please." The moment after the words leave his mouth, there is heat, and pressure, and Jared's tongue sliding over him, perfect and hot and so absolutely right.

Jen comes, instantly.

He bucks into Jared's mouth, Jared's mouth, and he comes, and it's almost agonizing in its simple pleasure - the one perfect note that finishes an aria.

That sound brings him back to himself and he lifts his head, confused. That's... oddly shrill.

"Shit," Jared says, turning his head toward the door. "I'll be right back. Don't move." Jared jumps up and takes off out the door as Jen listens - yes, that high-pitched, insistent sound is unquestionably outside his head.

"Is that the smoke alarm?"

Jared doesn't answer, and then comes the sound of Jared taking the stairs two at a time, and then cursing and banging from the kitchen below. Ah, shit, he remembers, falling back against the pillows and putting his hand over his eyes. The goddamn grilled cheese sandwich.

The alarm shuts off below, and Jen thanks God for allowing him to stay in bed because he's not honestly sure he could stand up right now. Jen idly contemplates getting under the covers, but decides in the end that it'd be too much effort. He feels blessed and replete, and he doesn't want to disturb it.

And then, because he has time, he starts to think. So much for not disturbing.

His head is fuzzy and dazed and post-orgasm, but he's clear enough for this. It was strange, what just happened; it didn't go at all like he thought. He didn't imagine he'd be grateful for the soft curls on his hands, and he didn't think that Jared's soft, muffled sounds would have hit him so hard. Not like he expected this, but he just... he didn't once dream that he'd be thinking of Jared's flat, thin-skinned belly and want to press him down so he could look, could touch.

Now that he is thinking about it, it's a little disorienting, that's all.

Jared is coming back, Jen knows, and as the thought enters his mind, he realizes they'll have to talk. Jared's going to want answers about what this means, how it affects them, and he's not the only one who'll be trying to figure out that question. As Jen imagines this going further, pictures it right out to the end, he knows that it is not in him to turn Jared away. He's willing to analyze what he likes about the guy, what he's going to do tomorrow, but he doesn't need to think about telling Jared to leave. He just knows. The words would choke him.

Jared's quiet silhouette appears in the doorway.

"Don't worry," he says, waiting there. "Everything's out or off, and I left the windows open a little bit."

Jen nods. "Okay."

An awkward silence grows between them, and Jen doesn't know how to break it until he realizes it's speaking for him: Jared's head drops, his shoulders curve in.

"No, wait," Jen says softly, holding out his hand. Jared lifts his head just enough to see. "Don't... don't do that. Come in. I mean, come here."

Cautiously, Jared edges into the room.

The thin Vancouver moonlight paints across his bare chest, drawing in the lines of Jen's Venetian blinds as Jared crosses the room, hesitant but determined. He takes Jen's hand, and Jen pulls him down to the bed.

Jared moves up against Jen's body, sliding one arm over his chest and laying his head on Jen's pillow, close enough that Jen can feel a curl of dark hair against his temple. But that's just Jared - that gesture is not about sex. "I'm okay," Jen tells him softly, rubbing the arm that weighs his chest down.

"Are you sure?" Jared asks, sounding very young and afraid, and again Jen feels the irrational urge to find this guy he doesn't even know the name of and just fucking pistol-whip him.

"I'm sure," Jen assures him, and he knows it's true the minute he hears his own voice say it. He wants to say more - that Jared doesn't have to go anywhere tonight, that Jen's willing to finish this, that he's not afraid - but all of that won't sound so certain, and besides, he's not sure how to say it without sounding like an idiot. So he just leans his head against Jared's and squeezes his arm, softly. "I'm okay."

Jared nods, and just holds on. After a minute, Jen starts to suspect that Jared's plan essentially involves laying here as long as Jen will let him. Well, he thinks. That's no good.

So he turns his head, feels Jared's warm breath move from his jaw to his mouth, and then stop. Slowly, hesitantly, Jen touches their mouths together, and Jared just waits there, his chest still.

When Jen's tongue edges out to slip over the seam of Jared's lips, it's like a flash flood - Jared's arm tightens and his chest moves, his breath comes quick and his body moves to Jensen's like it's magnetic, inevitable. Jared kisses with his whole soul, and Jen loses himself in it.

"Come on," Jen breathes, when they're apart for more than two seconds. Jared closes the gap, instantly, but Jen's already tugging on his belt. Jen pulls away, insistent. "Get this off."

It seems that Jared's done hesitating. He kneels up on the bed and brushes Jen's hands away, and Jen hears the jingle and zip even through the drugging, wide open kisses. Jen puts hands on his shoulders, helping to brace him upright and feeling the strength in him.

With a fluid movement, Jared kicks off his clothes and lays back down, braced over Jensen so he can keep kissing, keep feeding at Jensen's mouth like butterflies in Eden. Jen puts his hand on Jared's waist and pulls him down, pulls him close, and Jared breaks away with a gasp when his cock presses against Jen's thigh.

"It's okay," Jen tells him softly, and Jared presses his cheek against Jensen's and just breathes, slow and deep and shivering. He rolls his hips forward, just a little, and gasps again.


"It's okay," Jensen whispers, and Jared lifts his head so he can look into Jensen's eyes.

He is blushing. It's easy to tell, even though the light washes him out - the flush of red on his cheeks, his neck, his ears, Jen couldn't miss it. His eyes are intense, bright. "I want you," he says, broken words so full of longing. "But I can't..."

Jen just looks at him, feeling the darkness of the room mirrored in his own chest. He doesn't know what he thinks, can't make sense of the sensations in his body: the clench in his gut that could be fear or desire, the buzzing in his head that might mean pain or might mean pleasure.

He knows he wants to give this to Jared. He knows that, like he knows where he's from and he knows who his parents are. He knows it like he knows there's a God, and that He wouldn't begrudge Jen this. Like he knows Jared wouldn't hurt him. And like nothing else.

"It's okay," he says, one more time, tracing wondering fingers over Jared's face. "I trust you."

Jared turns his face to kiss Jen's fingers, just barely moving his lips over the pads. Jen traces the outline, and edges the tip of one finger into Jared's mouth.

He takes Jen's finger like it's honeyed, tasting every inch of skin he can find. His eyes flutter closed, and Jen just watches it - his finger, sliding in and out of Jared's mouth - until he goes a little cross-eyed from need. "Come on," he finally urges, reluctantly taking his hand away. "Help me out, here. What..."

Jared just shakes his head, clearing the fog. "Um. Okay. Do you have anything?"

Between them, they locate the right things - Jen directs from the bed, because Jared won't let him get up. Jared has trouble leaving the bed himself, actually; Jen's starting to smile at the thought that, given the opportunity, he's pretty sure Jared would be happy to just live out his life attached to Jensen's face. Finally they're set, and they look at each other for only an instant before silently agreeing.

Jared flips off the light and climbs onto the bed.

They kiss again, with an edge of desperation. Jared makes the smallest sound when he tears his mouth away and slides down Jen's body leaving slick kisses in his wake. He breathes over Jen's cock, hard again, and it twitches for him. Gently, he slides a hand under Jen's thigh and lifts it over his shoulder.

Jen takes deep breaths and holds tight to the covers.

"Try to relax," Jared soothes, running the palm of one hand over Jen's hips and thighs. "It's better if you try to relax."

Jen focuses on that, on willing his locked muscles to be fluid, to take instruction. It's like a sports injury, he reasons, calling on that knowledge to help him here - and almost laughs at the comparison.

"What?" Jared says, and Jen can hear the smile in his voice. He almost answers, except Jared's got one hand loosely fisting around him, stroking and squeezing, so he can't put words together. Jared kisses the inside of Jen's thigh, where it rests on his shoulder. "Is that good?"

Jen nods his head. "Mmm." He feels heat sparking through him, feels...

Jared's slick fingers, trailing below.

"Relax," Jared whispers, and Jen has trouble this time, but he tries. "Good, that's good," comes the soft praise, and then he is being pressed open, stretched apart.

Jensen gasps and almost freaks right there. It's not what he'd call pleasant, even though it's not painful, and he's only got so much resolve. But if Jared sensed the tension, he has the best relief method possible; Jen's not even aware of the movement, but he goes from freaking to melting as Jared's slick lips kiss the tip of his cock, and slide down over it.

Too much, too much. There's sensation everywhere, the alien strange and the achingly good, and he has nothing for it but to slide his hands into Jared's hair and press his heel into Jared's back and just hold on. He's aware, dimly, that he's calling out, making sound, but he doesn't know what he's saying and it doesn't matter. They might not even be words.

Jared is exactly how he needs to be, sucking Jen's cock like it's made of spun sugar, delicate and capable of withstanding only the lightest touch. It is the desperate need for more pressure there that makes Jensen push his hips up, clutch his fingers tighter in hair that curls around him and feel it when that slender finger presses deeper into him, opens him up. He chokes on a gasp, on Jared's name.

Jared gives him no relief. That slick, soft mouth plays havoc with his head as he is stretched wider underneath, and Jen clenches and relaxes, his teeth gritted together. Jared is playing his body like an instrument, and Jen can't keep track of the notes.

When Jen's head is full of begging and demands, screamed orders and desperate pleas that never make it out his mouth, that's when Jared lifts up. "Ready?" he asks, and Jen can only clutch at his shoulders, pull at him. He's ready, he wants it, he needs something, or they'll have to lock him up.

Jared smiles and kisses the edge of Jen's mouth, barely escapes when Jen tries to turn his head and get more. "I guess that's yes," he grins, and Jen suppresses the urge to throttle him.

"Jared," he says, warningly, and Jared's smile goes softer around the edges.

"Okay, okay," he soothes, kissing Jen again. "It's all right, I'm right here."

Jen feels a hand slide from his hip to his knee, lifting. He does what it seems to want, and then the other leg gets the same treatment - wrapping around Jared's waist, pressing back toward Jen's chest. He feels trussed up and helpless, and he isn't sure he likes that, but then he has more important things to think about: the blunt, warm tip of something that is assuredly not Jared's fingers is slipping over his skin and settling in the slight dip there. Jen presses his fingernails into Jared's back and bites his lip.

And then Jared is there. His head rests on Jen's shoulder and he whispers into Jen's ear; he traces the shell of it with his tongue and bites softly. "Breathe for me, baby. Just breathe."

Jen takes in one deep, endless breath, and Jared's hips shift, and then he is there, and Jen locks around his body like a vise.

Jen's fingers slip on Jared's shoulders. He can smell the warm, salt scent, feel the damp locks of hair brush his face. His own body is throbbing, burning up, and he can't figure how anyone does this all the time; it fucking hurts, and the shock of it has almost totally jarred him out of the lust-soaked daze he was in. Jen feels clear-headed, he feels like he's glad he did this for Jared but hell if he's ever doing it again. He's had worse in the way of pain, but nothing this... personal. He wants it done..

"Come on," he urges, running a hand over Jared's back. His voice sounds low and ragged, even to his own ears. "Go on, it's okay."

Jared's breath is hot against Jen's neck, and Jen can feel the shudder that races through his body when he shifts his hips. He groans long and loud into Jen's skin, hands gripping the covers so tightly that Jen can feel the fabric pull against his shoulders.

Jared pulls up off him, just a little, and works a hand between them. Jen has a full second to wonder what he's doing, and then a slick hand is surrounding his cock, working with the pressure and friction Jared denied him not ten seconds ago, and God, yeah, okay, that's good. Jared does that, just slipping his fingers over the ridge and tip, squeezing right where he should, and Jen begins to forget why this was a bad idea. It starts being a really fucking good idea, actually, and Jared's mouth is on his, stealing his moans and whispers before they reach the air.

And then his hips shift again, and they're both letting the sounds slip past. Jared moves in him, and on him, and it's not so bad... and then, somewhere in Jen's body, something brushes something else, and pleasure shocks through him like lightning. "Fuck, Jared!" he calls, unseeing, and Jared's there.

"It's good," he murmurs. "It's supposed to be good. It's all right, Jensen, just breathe, okay? Breathe for me..."

And Jensen does and then somehow it's all true, because he can't see and he can't hold on and he can't understand anything that isn't Jared's hips rocking against his, Jared's body buried in his, Jared's hands and mouth on him, making him feel like this, just like this.

In a blur of light, it crashes over him, and as he shakes and comes, Jared is trembling in his arms, crying out his name.

Jensen holds on tight to him, and lets the rest fall away.

The first thing to come back is the ceiling. Then Jared, then his own body, then the bed - Jen's universe slowly expands to include each thing, one at a time.


Jared laughs, tiredly. "Yeah," he says, exhaustion and satisfaction warring in his voice. He moves his hips, shifting them back and away, and Jen makes a face and groans. "Sorry, sorry," Jared soothes, rolling to the side and kissing Jen's shoulder.

"Nah, it's all right," Jen assures him, stretching gingerly. They get up to take care of essentials, and when that's done Jen pulls back the covers and climbs into bed. He tugs Jared down after him and ignores his nervous 'you don't need to's. Unearthing a pack of cigarettes from his bedside table, he then has to climb down to the bottom of the bed to grab his jeans and get the Zippo. Jen falls back against the pillows with a satisfied thump as he lights up.

Jared rests on his own pillow, watching Jen move. "I didn't know you smoked."

"Only sometimes," Jen tells him, glancing over at Jared's tightly curled arm, his lack of anything that might be considered imposition. Jen rolls his eyes, lifts his arm up and pulls Jared to him. "Don't be an idiot," he says shortly, and Jared relaxes onto his chest with something that feels like relief.

"Here," Jared says, reaching for the cigarette. "Give it."

Jen passes it to him, watches him take it between his lips. He sees blue smoke curl softly from the glowing tip, and then white clouds come ghosting across his own stomach as Jared exhales. It feels good.

He retrieves the cigarette and ashes into a stray coffee cup on the bedside table. "You should have had a few of these growing up. Maybe some coffee. You could have used some stunting."

Jared laughs sleepily. "I'll get you. You won't know when."

"Sure, sure," Jen smiles.

They pass a few minutes in the quiet sounds of breath and smoldering tobacco, Jared's head on Jensen's shoulder, the cigarette making the rounds between them. Jen catalogues the stray marks on his body, the new discomforts: obviously his ass, but also the muscles in his thighs, and stubble burns on his shoulder and stomach. In some cases, the warm glow is actually pleasant, merging with the aftershocks of pleasure that trace through his limbs. It was rougher than he's used to sex being, more... affecting. He'd thought, when they started, that he would find it gross, and okay, maybe there's a little of that now, but Jen thinks that's largely residual squeamishness. It's Jared, that's what's important.

"When I was on the Gilmore Girls," comes Jared's voice, interrupting Jen's train of thought. "I had this huge crush on Chad."


"Chad Michael Murray," Jared clarifies, taking a drag. "I used to hang out with him - not like with you," he hastens to clarify. "Just between takes, y'know."

Jen nods, and wonders where this is going. By now he's used to the nuances of Jared's voice - sleepy mornings, Sam dealing with John, a foosball victory - and this doesn't sound good.

Jared swallows and lays his head on Jen's shoulder again. It's hard to see his face, from this angle. "I went to his place, when we found out we were doing House of Wax together. We had some beers, no big deal."

There is an air of confession happening here, and Jensen feels pain coming. "Jared," he says soothingly, laying his hand on that broad, warm back and rubbing his thumb over the smooth skin. "You don't have to."

"So we were horsing around," Jared says, and all the warning flags are flying: the little tiny hitch in the words, the way they slide out sideways, country and round. "He was sending all these signals, I thought; like he would... nevermind, it's not important. I thought he was interested so I kissed him."

Jared pauses, and then coughs. "He called me a faggot, and he hit me. Right in the mouth, too - if I had a glass jaw, I'd have been out like a light."

Jensen's fingers tighten on Jared's shoulder. There is no doubt in his mind that, had Jared said this hours or days or weeks ago, his reaction would have been exactly the same. You have a name now, you fucking bitch.

"Don't worry," Jared says, and Jen feels the little smile against his skin. "He hit like a girl. I let myself out."

Jensen's teeth won't unclench. "You want me to kill him for you? Friends help you hide the bodies," he says, in the tone of an offer.

"Nah," Jared declines, tensing slightly. He drags off the cigarette again and then hands the stub to Jensen, who tosses it in the cup. "It's okay. I just wanted you to know."

Jen nods shortly. There's a brief silence, and then: "I hate him for you."

Another pause. "Thanks."


They lay together, one against the other. Jen feels there's no need to say much of anything, it's comfortable. For once, it seems Jared doesn't need to talk. Finally, Jen feels his eyes begin to burn, and he kisses the top of Jared's head before reaching over to turn out the light. When he moves back, Jared's hovering, awkwardly.

"So... I'm staying?"

"If you want," Jen says, trying to pick out the curves of his face in the gloom. "I don't have my car, so you might as well."

"Oh." Jared settles down, still a little stiff.

"What'd I tell you about being an idiot?" Jen asks, dragging him close.

Jared laughs. "Shut up. I just, I don't usually..."

"What? Spend the night?"

"Yeah," Jared confirms, and Jen can feel the heat of the blush on his cheeks.

He smiles. "Well, I guess I'm your first then, Jared, 'cause I don't take well to waking up alone." It's true - Jen's had a couple of one-nights, but they left him cold, and given the choice between long term and casual, Jen prefers the former by far. "You're stuck here, buddy."

Jared laughs a little, low in his throat. "Yeah, strangely, I think I'm okay with that."

"Better be," Jen bites off, feeling territorial about the whole thing. His house, his bed, his friend, his life. There's no room for screwing that up. He draws Jared as close as is really reasonable, and is asleep in no time at all.

Morning sun touches his eyes with light warmth. Jen wakes up slowly, and his head is full of the knowledge that Jared is lying beside him, sleeping.

Or, he should be.

Jen turns and slides his hand across the empty bed, feels the traces of warmth ebbing away from the sheets. Fortunately, the soft light and sounds from the bathroom make it into his head before he can get upset about it.

The water turns off, and the light, and Jared pulls the door open cautiously, bare feet and boxers, until he sees that Jensen's awake and watching. Then he just opens it, ignoring the creak, and heads over to the bed, a smile on his face.

"I thought I told you I don't like waking up alone," Jen says, a wry smile on his face.

"Yeah, well," Jared grins brightly. "You'd like waking up a lot less with beer breath in your face." He crawls onto the bed and leans in to kiss Jen swiftly, a decidedly friendly smack on the lips.

The hell with that. Jen catches him by the back of the neck and deepens things, opening that mouth up and tasting mint and clear water. Jared groans and goes with it, kneeling on Jen's bed and letting him do what he wants to, hands in his lap.

"You don't know as much as you think you do," Jen tells him gently, turning him loose.

"Hey, if it gets me this kind of treatment, I'll screw up a judgment call every day." Jared flops down on the bed, grinning up. His skin is warmer than the watery rays coming through the window.