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12 February 2014 @ 05:02 am
Hands of Fate: Chapter Seventeen  
Title: Caught in the Hands of Fate
Author: fadedsparks
Beta: lunadragonx
Art: trueshellz
Fandom: RPS
Pairing: Jensen/Jared
Rated: R, with NC-17 in later chapters
Genre: AU, Angst, Romance
Disclaimer: This isn't meant to offend anyone and I am making no profit from it.
Warnings: Violence and Homophobia. Also, Jensen and Jared are the same age in this story.
Summary: Jensen has had his share of ups and downs, but he pushes forward and tries not to take life for granted. Starting college in California seems like the right choice for him, and everything is going better than he imagined it would. However, fate can be a tricky thing sometimes.



-~*~-
Chapter Seventeen:
Everything Falls into Place
-~*~-



When Jensen opens his eyes he struggles to pull himself into awareness and the first thing he notices is the sun shining irritably into them and a warmth pressed tightly to his back, like a heavy blanket that you can’t help but want to snuggle into. It has been such a long time since he has woken up to this, Jared’s mile long limbs wrapped around him, that reassuring warmth seeping into his back, and he can’t help but lay there longer than planned and soak it all in.

He never realized how much he missed it until this very moment, wrapped comfortably in Jared’s arms once more, and he can admit he is afraid of losing it again. He keeps having to remind himself that Jared’s back and he is here to stay, or so Jared keeps trying to assure him. Jensen still has his doubts and insecurities concerning the matter but he is doing his best to push them to the background and give him and Jared the second chance he has wanted since the night Jared left.

Jensen closes his eyes again and leans back into his boyfriend’s embrace, entwining their fingers carefully, trying not to wake the other man. He can’t stop the smile that forms on his face, however, when he feels the tender kiss placed at the nape of his neck. So much for letting him sleep, Jensen thinks fondly to himself as he turns over in Jared’s arms and smiles his good morning. The smile he gets in return is sleepy and lazy; it would look goofy if it weren’t so adorable.

“Hmmm, hey…” Jared drawls lazily as he stretches languidly, pressing closer to Jensen in the process.

“Hey yourself,” Jensen whispers back, looking upon his sleepy lover with soft eyes, taking in the sight of a sleep tussled Jared like it is a work of art.

“Did you sleep well?” Jared’s voice lowers to a mere whisper, keeping the conversation sensual and intimate.

Jensen nods his head before answering verbally, “Better than I have in quite a while actually.”

Jared’s answering smile is soft yet remorseful, regretful of the decisions he has made in the past that has driven such a wedge between them. Jensen feels bad about bringing the issue up, even if unconsciously, and he buries his face into the crook of Jared’s neck as though trying to hide from it. He really wants them to be able to move beyond this, put it in their past and try to regain what they lost along the way, but he realizes just how tough that is going to be.

They have a long way to go before Jensen will trust Jared like he once did, or at least trust him as much as he can learn to. He still isn’t sure he will be able to trust him completely, Jared managed to hurt him more than anyone else ever has and it has left a scar on his heart. He has to hope it will fade with time though. He is willing to take Jared back after everything he put him through, is willing to give them one last chance, so that has to count for something. At the very least he considers it to be one small step in the right direction.

He loves Jared, he really does, and everyone knows this, but he must admit he is a little afraid to give his heart over again like he once did. His first instinct is to guard it with everything in his being, not let Jared in completely, not let him close enough that Jensen is in danger of being hurt again. He doesn’t like it and he wants to push past this defense mechanism, but he isn’t quite sure how to do that yet.

Jensen sighs in contentment when Jared tightens his arm around him, tucking him in closer to the warmth of his body, and makes his best attempt at pushing all discouraging thoughts from his mind. Jared is here now, loves him and says he has no plans of leaving again, and Jensen has to believe that is enough to get them through this. Who knows, maybe this whole experience will make them stronger in the end, strengthen the bond they have managed to create and then nothing will be able to break them apart.

Jensen allows Jared to tilt his head up when he feels his boyfriend’s hand on his jaw and welcomes the pair of lips that descend upon his. It is the first kiss they have shared in quite some time and Jensen finds himself near melting into it, opening his mouth when Jared asks for entrance and almost moaning when their tongues twine together. Jared’s right hand rests casually along Jensen’s jaw line, guiding his head to different angles when he feels like deepening the kiss, and Jensen is more than happy to let him do with him what he will.

Jensen draws Jared’s bottom lip into his mouth with his teeth, biting down on it gently, more like a nip, and brings forth a deep guttural groan from the shaggy haired man. Jensen’s lip turn upwards into a smile against Jared’s mouth, pleased with himself, before pressing back into the kiss with something akin to desperation, sucking Jared‘s tongue into his mouth, breathing harshly through his nose.

Jared moans his appreciation, sliding his hand up Jensen’s back to rest at the back of his head, fingers spread wide, cradling his skull. The passionate, bordering on violent kiss tones down considerably fast however, and leaves their lips sliding together languidly. Jensen has always had a weak spot for lazy kisses such as this one, where their lips simply rest against each other, moving sensually every now and then, but they are mostly just sharing breath.

Jensen pulls back a fraction after a moment and his eyes slide open to find a set of soulful hazel assessing him openly, a hint of a soft smile in their depths. He simply stares back, not flinching away or letting his shy nature get the best of him, and they lie there for an unknown amount of time just drinking in the sight of one another.

:0Ж0:


Jensen comes back from the bathroom after changing into some clean clothes and doing his usual morning routine, flopping down onto his desk chair and placing a pair of black shoes on his feet. He didn’t bother with putting his contacts back in this morning, eyes irritated and achy after accidentally falling asleep with them in, so he opted to wear his glasses today. It is kind of strange to wear them again since he has gotten into the habit of wearing his contacts almost religiously, but the weight of his glasses are familiar and comfortable and he could easily fall back into the habit of wearing them if he wanted to.

Once he is finished tying his shoes he leans back in his chair, arm thrown over the back and wrapping around the edge, and he watches Jared silently. Jared is lying on his stomach on Jensen’s bed, with his upper torso propped up by his elbows as he flips through a magazine. He lifts his eyes after a moment, obviously having felt the weight of Jensen’s stare upon him, and looks up at Jensen through the fringe of his bangs. He cocks his head to the side, reminding Jensen of a curious puppy, and Jensen can’t stop himself from snickering at the comparison.

Jared raises an eyebrow, his expression a cross between amused and bewildered, and Jensen simply shakes his head and mouths “You don’t want to know,” as a smile pulls at his lips. Jared doesn’t question him on this, simply pulls himself from the bed and wanders over to where Jensen sits slouched comfortably in his chair. He leans down the moment he reaches him and presses a kiss to Jensen’s lips. Jensen hums in approval against Jared’s mouth, wrapping a hand around the back of his neck and drawing him impossibly closer.

Jared pulls away sooner than Jensen would have liked, but he lets the shaggy haired man go without any complaints and pastes a smile on his face. Jared sits down on the edge of Jensen’s bed, elbows resting on his knees, and locks his hazel eyes with the jade green of Jensen’s.

“So, you have plans for today?” Jared asks after a brief moment of silence, looking honestly curious. “You don’t have to work or anything, do you?”

“No, I’m scheduled for tomorrow, I get today off. Why do you ask?”

“Well, besides going back to Chris and Steve’s to change my clothes I have to call my mom and there’s something I have to set up, but I was wondering if you wanted to do something after I’m done,” Jared suggests, looking unsure and a bit nervous, blatantly afraid of Jensen’s rejection. “We don’t necessarily have to do anything… I just thought it’d be nice to spend the day together.”

Jensen is silent for a moment, contemplating the idea, and then he gives a slow nod of his head. “Sure, that sounds great, actually,” A radiant smile crawls onto Jared’s face, dimples prominent by how wide his lips are stretching, and Jensen finds it hard to keep from smiling as well. “There a specific time you had in mind?”

“How ‘bout I come by somewhere between five and six? Would that be okay? I could bring some dinner with me.”

Jensen almost chuckles because of how nervous and unsure Jared sounds, like he is trying his damnedest to get Jensen to agree but trying not to push too much at the same time. It is kind of endearing to Jensen, even though it has the potential to get old rather quick. It shows that Jared is honestly trying though, and is afraid of screwing things up. Knowing that Jared cares, being able to see that he wants to make this work between them, gives Jensen a bit of hope that everything will eventually be okay again.

“Yeah, sounds like a plan to me,” Jensen says, nodding his head as though to confirm this, and then he stands up.

“Okay, great…” Jared trails off as he rises to his feet and stands in front of Jensen, looking as though he doesn’t know what to do now and the air grows awkward between them as they each grapple for something to say.

The door to the room suddenly opens and it makes both of them jump, startling them out of their awkward moment. Will enters the room, looking at them in turn, appearing unsure as to whether he should stay or quickly back out the way he came. Jensen comes to his senses and motions Will into the room, indicating that it is safe. Will releases an audible sigh of relief, relaxing immediately, and proceeds towards his side of the room.

Jensen watches as Jared follows Will with his eyes and it is obvious that he doesn’t know what to think of Jensen’s roommate just yet. Jensen almost wants to roll his eyes because he can clearly see a hint of jealousy on Jared’s face and he has stepped an inch closer to Jensen, like he is staking his claim and making sure there are no misunderstandings. Will meets Jared’s stare with a confused expression, turning to regard Jensen with “what the fuck?” obvious on his face.

“Jared, this is my roommate, Will,” Jensen quickly introduces them before turning toward Will. “You staying with your girl again tonight?”

Will nods his head. “It’s a regular occurrence for me to stay at Bethany’s these days, I should just move in and be done with it,” he chuckles, flushing a bright red. “But yeah, the room is all yours tonight, as usual.”

Jared relaxes beside Jensen now that he knows Will isn’t going to be competition. Jensen thinks that is rather ridiculous, not every guy he meets wants in his pants after all, but Jared is going to think how he wants and nothing Jensen can do will stop that. He is just glad his boyfriend has calmed down now and gotten over his bout of jealousy. It was completely unfounded and definitely not appreciated.

“Yeah, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make that step, since you’re practically living together anyway.” Jensen responds with a soft laugh of his own, watching Jared as the shaggy-haired man pulls out his cell phone and calls for a cab.

“But then again, it doesn’t really hurt that I hold onto the room, does it? I mean, this way you basically have your own room instead of being stuck with a roommate you can barely tolerate,” Will points out with a twinkle in his eye. “So, ya see, I’m doing you a favor.”

Jensen’s attention is drawn to his boyfriend when he snaps his phone closed, motioning to the door with his hand. Jensen smiles at his roommate before following Jared to the door. Will waves goodbye, a little unsure because of his and Jared’s first meeting, but Jared waves back easily with a friendly smile fixed firmly in place. Jensen tells his roomie that he will be right back and then he shuts the door behind him.

He can’t help the startled expression that crosses his features when Jared takes his hand in his own. His eyes are drawn down to their entwined fingers and he simply stares at them in fascinated wonder for a moment before sliding his eyes up to Jared’s. He really is making an effort, Jensen acknowledges with a growing smile. Maybe things will work out between us after all.

Jensen squeezes Jared’s hand, tossing a soft smile at him to show how much he appreciates this small gesture. If Jared is willing to do what it takes to make their relationship work this time around, well then Jensen can make the attempt to let the past go and give Jared a second chance. He is still hurt by what Jared did, will need time to regain his trust in the hazel-eyed man, but he can forgive and try to forget. He still loves Jared, with all his heart, so he figures he owes it to himself to take the chance. It is a risk, he could get hurt again, but it also may work out this time, and that is the reason he is reluctant to let the opportunity pass him by.

Jensen and Jared walk hand in hand out to the sidewalk to wait for Jared’s cab to show, sitting down on a bench in front of the campus. They sit side by side with virtually no space between them, thigh against thigh and shoulder pressed to shoulder. Jensen does nothing to hide the smile on his face, beaming brightly for Jared and the whole world to see. Jared squeezes Jensen’s hand reassuringly from where their hands rest against their thighs, fingers entwined.

“Oh yeah, I almost forgot… Merry Christmas, Jen.” Jared speaks up suddenly, bright smile lighting up his face as he turns joyful eyes on Jensen.

Jensen’s eyes widen with recognition, he had forgotten all about what day it was. So much has been going on these past couple of days that he has lost track. He can’t help it when a small, pleased smile climbs onto his face though. “Merry Christmas, Jay,” he responds in kind, soft eyes trained on the taller man.

Jared looks up, hope in his eyes before glancing away to hide his suddenly troubled expression. “I’m sorry, Jen, for screwing up so bad.”

“Hey now, none of that,” Jensen uses his free hand to grasp Jared’s chin and force him to meet his eyes. “We’re starting over here, letting go of the past and giving this a second chance. How’re we supposed to do that when you say you’re sorry all the time?” His tone is light, almost teasing, but they both know he means every word.

“I know I sound like a broken record by now, but… I’m just so fuckin’ sorry, for everything I’ve put you through,” Jared sighs and turns his eyes to stare down at their hands, lightly running his thumb across the skin of Jensen’s left hand. “I’m so happy you’re giving me another chance, ‘cause I know I don’t deserve it, and I can’t tell you enough how happy I am to have you back… I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself, I’m so damn ashamed of what I’ve done. The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you but that is exactly what I did and I can’t take it back no matter how much I wish I could.”

“True, you can’t take it back… but you can make it up to me,” Jensen tells him quietly, smiling as reassuringly as he can. He is hurt by what Jared did but he doesn’t want him to beat himself up about it like this. Despite everything, Jared is a good person and he doesn’t deserve to carry this weight upon his shoulders forever.

“I will make it up to you, Jen. If it takes me my whole damn life I don’t care, I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make it up to you,” Jared says firmly, resolutely. “I’ll be the boyfriend you deserve this time.”

Jensen is taken off guard when Jared suddenly pulls him into his arms, right there in front of the college campus, for everyone to see. Even he wasn’t expecting Jared to make such big steps, not so soon anyway. He is happy of course, just a little shocked. It is a pleasant surprise and he sincerely hopes Jared keeps this up because he could definitely get used to this treatment.

Jensen simply holds tightly to Jared, not wanting to let go, and closes his eyes happily when Jared buries his face in the crook of his neck. He idly runs the fingers of his right hand through Jared’s shaggy hair, loving the feel of the soft strands slipping through his fingers like a caress. Jared grasps onto Jensen like he will slip away if he loosens his hold and Jensen is struck by the desperation he can detect in the tension of his boyfriend’s body. He rubs his left hand up and down Jared’s back in a consoling fashion while whispering soothing words, trying to reassure his boyfriend, calm him down.

Jared pulls away only once his cab shows up and smiles a bit sheepishly as they both rise to their feet. Jared toes the ground self-consciously for a moment, looking unsure of himself, and then he takes a step towards Jensen. He frames Jensen’s face with those big paws of his and leans in slowly, capturing Jensen’s lips in a soft yet hesitant kiss. It doesn’t last very long, and their lips only brush together lightly and briefly like butterfly wings, but it is a bolder move than Jensen was expecting and he is grateful for the effort Jared is making.

Jared’s smile is more genuine and happy when he pulls back and there is practically a bounce to his step as he approaches his awaiting cab. Jensen watches in amusement, his boyfriend’s actions once again reminding him of those of an eager puppy. Jared pulls his long limbs into the backseat of the cab and turns to look at Jensen from the window. Jensen gives a little wave when the cab pulls away from the curb and is left standing there to watch until it disappears from view.

:0Ж0:


“Okay, so tell me, how is it that I got suckered into doing this with you?” Chris grumbles as they enter the air conditioned mall.

“Because Sophia is spending Christmas with her folks and you were the only one I could count on to go last minute shopping with me.” Jensen answers with a nonchalant shrug of his shoulders as he eyes the shops as they walk past.

“Not true, I’m sure Steve would’ve been more than happy to do this with you. So, I ask again, why am I here?” Chris crosses his arms over his chest and gives Jensen a scowl as he reluctantly follows him alongside the row of shops lining the upper level of the mall.

Jensen heaves a heavy sigh and gives his friend a suffering stare. He should have known Chris wouldn’t do this for him without bitching and complaining the whole time. He’s like a petulant child, Jensen thinks to himself, half out of amusement and half out of annoyance.

“Come on Chris, I really need your help, okay? I need to find something for Jared for Christmas and I could really use your opinion. I know I’d usually ask Sophia to help me with things like this, but she isn’t here right now and I’m kind of out of options.” Jensen sighs and gives his friend a pleading look.

Chris rolls his eyes. “Fine, whatever, I’ll help ya if it means that much to you.”

Jensen nods his head, smiling his gratitude, and then proceeds to drag Chris into a decent sized store. He isn’t quite sure what to get Jared for Christmas; he wants his gift to hold meaning but he has no idea as of yet what that is going to be. Clothes and CDs and movies seem too impersonal and besides, Jared could get those any day of the week if he chose to.

:0Ж0:


Jensen feels like crying out in frustration when three whole hours go by and he still hasn’t even an inkling of what to get Jared. He drops down onto the nearest bench and covers his face wearily with the palms of his hands. He can feel Chris plop down beside him, can feel the reciprocated frustration coming off his friend in waves, but he doesn’t lift his head to acknowledge him.

“Look son, I think you’re going about this whole gift idea the wrong way, and you’re thinking way too hard on this. I think the kind of gift you’re looking for can’t be bought in any store, at least not the heart of it anyway. You should go for something simpler but heartfelt at the same time,” Chris suggests, nudging Jensen in the side to grab his full attention.

“Yeah, and what would you suggest?” Jensen sighs, looking up at his friend tiredly.

“I dunno…” Chris appears uncomfortable at the emotional topic but trudges onward regardless. “You could make him a mix tape of all the songs that remind you of him, or of all the songs you can remember that were playing at memorable moments. You could also make a scrapbook of photos taken of the two of ya. Or you could write him a song and frame it.”

Jensen is silent for a moment as he mulls these ideas over in his head, and the more he thinks about them the more appealing they sound. Jared really isn’t a hard person to please, and a mix tape or a scrapbook would mean more to him than anything Jensen could find at any store. Sure, Jensen can’t help but blush at the thought of giving such a meaningful thing to Jared, is a little nervous about Jared’s reaction, but he really likes the idea.

“You know, they are actually really good ideas,” Jensen says slowly, voice full of wonder and excitement.

“Of course they are,” Chris nods his head, smug smile firmly in place. “I know what I’m talking about.” He shrugs nonchalantly, but the smug grin remains on his face.

“Would you mind helping me put something together?” Jensen asks hopefully. “I know that isn’t really your thing, and I’d ask Steve but I’m kinda running short on time right now.”

Chris gives a long suffering sigh, scowling at Jensen even as he nods his head. “Alright, I can help you, but don’t tell anyone ‘cause then they’ll think I’ve gone soft.”

Jensen chuckles, giving a slight shake of his head, and levels a mock-serious stare on his friend. “Your secret’s safe with me. Your manly status will still be intact after you help me.”

“Shut up, dweeb,” Chris rolls his eyes as they stand up and gives a little shove to Jensen’s shoulder, making him laugh heartily. “So, what exactly are you going to do for the friendly giant?”

“I like that scrapbook idea you came up with. I have enough pictures that I managed not to burn that would work great for it.” Jensen blushes slightly as he says this. The thought had crossed his mind, burning the pictures of him and Jared, but in the end he just couldn’t do it. A large part of him had always been holding onto Jared and he just couldn’t bear the thought of losing those memories they made together.

“I know I haven’t said it yet but I’m glad you and Jay worked things out. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll beat him to within an inch of his life if he hurts you again, but I really am glad to see you two together,” Chris says sincerely, a soft smile playing on his lips. “He makes you smile, really smile, not the fake one you threw around when you were with that Justin guy. I haven’t seen you this happy in months and it’s a damn good sight son.”

“I am happy,” Jensen speaks softly, mostly to himself, surprised to find that it is true. “I’m still not sure it’s going to work out for us, but I’m willing to take the chance if he is, ya know? I’d probably regret it if I didn’t.”

“There ain’t no ‘probably’ about it son, you would regret it and you know it,” Chris laughs as he throws and arm around Jensen’s shoulder and guides him towards the mall exit. “You’ve had it bad for that boy since day one and I don’t see that likely to change any time soon.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Jensen responds sourly, though the smile lighting up his face and the laughter on the edge of his lips belies his words. “You’re right, I’ve been enamored with him from the moment I laid eyes on him.”

“Son, you worry me. Who says words like ‘enamored’ in normal conversation?” Chris rolls his eyes and Jensen can’t help the laughter that rushes out of him like a dam bursting.

“Shut up! Quit picking on me or I’ll tell everyone about the big softy you really are inside,” Jensen warns, more amusement coloring his tone than any real threat.

“Whatever,” Chris responds, waving a hand dismissively, “Let’s just get this done so I can spend some time with my boy on Christmas, okay?”

Jensen doesn’t answer verbally, just nods his head and allows Chris to guide him toward his truck. They make a stop at Wal-Mart so Jensen can buy a scrapbook and some wrapping paper before heading to the dorm with just enough time to get everything ready before Jared shows up.

:0Ж0:


Jensen assesses his appearance in the mirror, eyes roaming over his reflection critically. The sleeves of his white shirt reach past the middle of his hands, the texture soft and thin. He grabs his gray and white plaid button down shirt and places it over the long-sleeved one he is currently wearing, a pleased smile crossing his features at the nice combination this makes. The blue jeans he decided to wear are fairly new, only a couple of months old, and fit snugly to his hips, accentuating his ass. He is sure Jared will take notice and that is really what he wants to achieve.

Heading into the bathroom, he grabs his bottle of hair gel and pours some into the palm of his hand before running it through his hair, styling it just the way he wants it. He just recently got a haircut, it grew too long during the listless months after Jared left him and now it has returned to the shorter crop that it was when he first moved to California. He leaves his bangs hanging over his forehead, styled in a purposefully lazy fashion.

He trades his glasses for his contacts before leaving the bathroom and switches on his one-disc portable stereo as he passes it. The sounds of Garth Brooks fills the silence as Jensen takes a seat on his bed, one leg tucked underneath him, and pulls out his journal. It has been a while since he has written an entry and, now that he has a little time to spare, he figures it would be a good time to make one before Jared arrives.


December 25th, 2000

I still can’t believe all that has happened in only the matter of three months. Jared and I are back together. I’m still finding it a little hard to believe, I had truly believed what we had was over and done with, I never thought we could get it back. But, here we are. I hope to God it lasts this time but I can’t deny having my doubts and fears. He says he loves me, and I believe him, but I can’t help being afraid, waiting for the day he decides it’s not worth it, we’re not worth it, and breaks up with me again. I know it’s stupid and I shouldn’t be so insecure, but I can’t help it. He hurt me once, who’s to say he won’t do it again?

I may have my doubts but that doesn’t mean I’m about to give up on him just yet. He has honestly made the effort to give me what I need in this relationship. He has held my hand and kissed me in public, and I know how big of a step that is for him, so I know he is trying. I really can’t ask any more of him. The fact that he is making the effort shows how much he does in fact care about me so that alone is enough for me to take one last chance on him.

Besides all that, today is obviously Christmas… our first one spent together. It is kind of last minute, since we only just got back together last night, but I plan to make it as memorable as I possibly can. I was glad to see Wal-Mart was still open otherwise I would have been pretty much screwed. I think Jared will like his present… well, I hope he will, anyway.

I still haven’t told Mack that he and I are back together but I know I’m gonna have to make that call pretty soon because she will want to know. I have to find time to call her today anyway, to wish her a Merry Christmas so I guess I will just tell her then. I know she will be happy to hear the good news but I can also expect her to threaten bodily harm to Jared should he hurt me again. Overprotective little sisters are great! God I miss her, I‘ll have to-



Jensen closes his notebook mid-sentence when a knock sounds at the door and immediately butterflies start fluttering their wings in the pit of his stomach. He tells himself to stop being stupid and acting like a teenage girl over Jared as he stands up to let the taller man in. Jared greets him with a bright smile and a plastic bag filled with containers of home cooked food. Jensen hadn’t been expecting Jared to cook for him so this is definitely a pleasant surprise.

He motions Jared inside and takes the bags off his hands, placing them on his computer desk. Jared takes a seat at the end of his bed, looking for all the world like he belongs there, and fixes his hazel eyes on Jensen as Jensen takes the food out of the bags. Jensen flushes under the close scrutiny but hides his face from Jared’s view, using the food as his excuse. Jared doesn’t say anything, just contents himself with watching every move Jensen makes.

“This looks really good Jared,” Jensen says as he looks at the meal in front of him - pot roast, baked potatoes and carrots.

“It’s nothing special.” Jared blushes at the compliment, sliding his eyes away from Jensen’s bashfully.

“Yeah, it really is,” Jensen counters with a smile. “How did you find the time to make it?”

“I started making it the moment I got home… I just thought you’d like some real food instead of take-out, and I remembered how much you liked it the last time I cooked for you, so… I just thought it’d make you happy.” Jared shrugs self-consciously, picking at a loose thread on the hem of his pale blue and white sweater.

“I am happy,” Jensen says reassuringly as he drops to his knees in front of Jared and takes his face between his palms, whispering, “Thanks for doing this for me, Jay, I know how much work you put into it.”

“You’re welcome,” Jared whispers back before Jensen’s lips take possession of his mouth, kissing him softly and gently, not adding much pressure but still managing to feel breathless once they part.

“I got ya something,” Jensen says as he stands up and moves to the side of his bed, pulling out Jared’s gift from beneath it.

“You didn’t have to get me anything, Jen, I’m just happy to be here with you,” Jared protests lightly even as he takes the present from Jensen’s hands.

“Just shut up and open it,” Jensen scolds with a smile as he takes a seat next to Jared on the bed, watching him nervously for his reaction.

Jared slowly removes the wrapping paper, treating it with great care as though it were a fragile antique rather than a gift. Jensen watches in amused anticipation, getting a little irritated because of the nerves assailing him. Come on already, Jensen urges in his mind, wringing his hands nervously.

When Jared finally sets the wrapping paper aside, his eyes scan over the light brown surface of the scrapbook and his mouth falls open when he turns the cover. His wide, expressive eyes scan over the contents of the first page, each photograph taking him back in time. Jensen leans into him to see the picture that has captured his attention. Tom is glaring at Mike who is trying to climb him like a monkey and Jensen is smiling widely at the camera while Jared’s eyes are glued to him, a soft fondness in his eyes that the camera brought into startling clarity.

“You really shocked me when you told me you’d never been to Disneyland.” Jared lifts his eyes and locks them with Jensen’s.

“Yeah, well, you hid it nicely, thank you.” Jensen smiles.

“I remember the look on the tourist’s face who took the picture for us,” Jared laughs at the memory. “I think he was a little afraid of Mike.”

“That man is an acquired taste,” Jensen agrees with a nod of his head. “I wouldn’t have him any other way though.”

“I remember when this was taken,” Jared points to a photo of them sitting on a blanket, Jared’s arms wrapped around him as he leans back against his chest, identical smiles of joy pasted on their faces, the blue ocean in the background.

Jensen nods his head, smiling softly at the fond memory. “The weekend of my birthday, at Sophia’s family beach house. That was the best weekend of my life.”

“We made love for the first time at that house,” Jared says, his eyes alight with warmth and his smile soft, reminiscent.

Jared flips through the pages, stopping every now and then to gaze at a photo for a moment or two before moving on. “This is amazing, Jen,” Jared breathes once he reaches the last picture and turns to face Jensen, eyes bright with emotion. “Thank you, I love it.”

Jensen’s smile is shy as he says, “I’m glad you like it. There’s enough room for you to add more pictures, as you can see… anything you find worth remembering.”

“Every minute with you is worth remembering,” Jared whispers as he takes hold of Jensen’s hand and entwines their fingers.

Jensen snickers at this. “Could you be any cheesier, Jay?”

“Don’t tempt me, you’ll wind up seeing how cheesy I can get,” Jared threatens with a laugh and then he pulls something out of his pocket. “I couldn’t get you anything for Christmas ‘cause I was a dumb-ass and waited till the last minute, but I hope you like this.”

Jensen opens his hand and Jared places a watch in the center of his palm. It is just a simple silver watch, but it is old and Jensen can tell there is sentimental value to it by the look in Jared’s eyes. He allows his boyfriend to take the watch from him and place it on his right wrist.

“I know it’s probably not what you were expecting as a Christmas gift, being old and all, but it was my grandfather’s and it means a lot to me,” Jared says as he snaps the clasp into place and runs his fingers over Jensen’s wrist in a soft caress.

“No, this is great Jared, honestly. But… are you sure you want me to have it? I mean, it was your grandfather’s. It was given to you, and you love it, you should keep it.” Jensen gives Jared an unsure look.

“I want you to have it,” Jared responds firmly. “You’re special to me and I want you to have something that means a lot to me, I know you’ll take good care of it.”

“Of course, I’ll treasure it like I do my ring,” Jensen replies, running his thumb over the ring in question, remembering the night Jared gave it to him.

“Also, I called my mom after I left this morning and got her to book us a flight to Texas. I thought we could spend New Years in San Antonio, I hope you don’t mind. She thinks we’re just friends, for the time being, but I’d really like you to meet my family. While we’re there, at some point I want to tell them about me, about us, but I really need you there for that. I’ll need your support,” Jared says this with fear, but has silent determination in his eyes.

“Are you sure you’re ready for that?” Jensen asks carefully. “And I thought you couldn’t afford to go home this year.”

Jared nods his head. “It’s time; I’ve held off long enough, and my parents need to know. Besides, I’d really like them to know who I love. I’m not ashamed of you, Jen, and I don’t want you thinking that I am. Also, my parents are lending me the money, I’ll pay them back when I can. I really don’t want to wait or put this on hold lest I lose my nerve.”

“Okay,” Jensen says softly, giving Jared a reassuring smile. “I’ll be right there beside you when you tell them.”

The smile that grows on Jared’s face is bright and grateful and Jensen happily allows himself to be pulled into a tight embrace. He holds onto Jared just as tightly, closing his eyes with a soft sigh of contentment. He is a little shocked by this turn of events; Jared is going to tell his parents about them, but he honestly couldn’t be happier. Everything seems to be falling into place, just the way it was supposed to be from the very beginning, and he is feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. Better late than never, he thinks to himself before clearing his mind of all thoughts as Jared’s lips find his.


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Mood: relaxedrelaxed
Music: Landon Austin