Log in

No account? Create an account
20 February 2014 @ 05:49 pm
Hands of Fate: Chapter Eighteen  
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 Eighteen:
Finding Hope in Strange Places

December 29th, 2000

Jensen can admit he is a little nervous about meeting Jared’s parents, Jared’s family. His palms have been sweating since they boarded the plane and he feels oddly jittery. This is what he has wanted all along, after all. To meet Jared’s family, and eventually be introduced as his boyfriend, that is all he has wanted for quite some time now. He is still a little overwhelmed by it all, can’t quite believe he is here. He had been pleased to know Jared was willing to take the necessary steps to be with him, but he never expected the man to go to this length. He certainly hadn’t asked Jared to come out to his family, not yet anyway.

Now that he can entertain the notion, however, he can admit he has wanted this all along, for Jared to step up and show that he is proud of them rather than ashamed. The more he thinks about what they are about to do, what Jared wants to do for them, the more excited he becomes. It has occurred to him that this confession could go south, Jared’s parents’ reaction could be less than favorable, but he is hoping desperately that they take the news better than his parents did.

He has heard many wonderful things about Jared’s family, and he is eager to meet them in person. His mom especially, sounds like a wonderful woman and he is most definitely looking forward to meeting her above all. From what Jared has told him, she sounds like a very caring and loving mom, every trait his own mom had been known to have, before she turned her back on him.

Best not to think about her, you’re about to meet Jay’s family, don’t let anything ruin or dampen that, he tells himself silently as he follows Jared through the airport terminal, fellow passengers uncomfortably close to him. He does his best to keep up with Jared’s long legs, eager to get out of such a confining space, away from crowds of busy people.

He has never done well with crowds of any kind, even this kind, the experience always makes him feel awkward and strange in his own skin. He has never enjoyed too much attention and, as irrational as it is, he can’t help but feel like there are a million eyes scrutinizing him when he is amongst large crowds. He knows that logically no one is paying him any mind, too concerned with their own business to give him more than a passing glance, but he can’t help how uncomfortable it always makes him feel. Focusing on Jared helps though.

Reaching the main area of the airport, Jensen feels like he can breathe a little easier and quickly follows his boyfriend to the front entrance. They stop briefly at a vending machine, buying two bottles of Coke, before heading outside to find an available taxi. Jared, tall as he is, basically towers over everyone around them and easily grabs hold of the cab nearest them before anyone else even has a fair chance. Jensen drops his lone duffel bag into the trunk before the cabbie slams it shut and he and Jared climb into the backseat.

Jared easily rattles off the directions to his house as Jensen slumps down into his seat, feeling exhaustion for the first time. The plane ride hadn’t exactly been a long one but Jensen has had quite some time to work himself up for this visit and now he is feeling the effects of that. Lazy and lethargic, Jensen leans back against the seat next to Jared, their arms pressed together, and he allows himself to rest his eyes for just a moment.

He can feel Jared’s body heat seeping through to his skin, even through layers of clothing, and it comforts him as much as it sends a pleasant shiver down his spine. The rocking motion of the cab as it picks up speed is more relaxing than an annoyance and Jensen knows he would have no trouble at all falling asleep if he would allow himself the pleasure. He figures that might do him more harm than good however. He may be tired now but being woken up after dozing for a half an hour at the most? He would feel dead, would be overly tired the rest of the day, and that just isn’t worth a cat nap, no matter how tempting it is.

Forcing his heavy lidded eyes to open, he stifles a yawn and watches the passing scenery disinterestedly for a moment, a small smile appearing on his face as he acknowledges that this is the place Jared grew up. He can’t help feeling like a complete dork for getting so girly over seeing Jared’s hometown, the fact that the shaggy-haired man spent his childhood here bringing a goofy smile to his face.

“Hey, Jen, can I talk to you a minute?” Jared asks, keeping his voice low and private so as to not be heard by the driver.

Lazy movement, Jensen swivels his head to the side to face his boyfriend and pastes a curious expression on his face. “Sure Jare, what’s on your mind?”

“I know us coming here is a big deal, and we’re here with a purpose,” he begins, nervous expression clear on his features, “but can we hold off on telling my parents that you’re my boyfriend?”

“You want to introduce me as your friend?” Jensen asks, not unkindly or upset, just a genuine curiosity.

“I kind of want to get settled in first and find the right time to tell them, ya know? I don’t think springing it on them would be the best idea, especially since I know they’ll be really excited to see me after such a long time,” Jared explains, looking hopeful yet unsure, clearly afraid Jensen will be put off and upset by this. “Will you be okay with that?”

“Yeah, of course, I can understand that,” Jensen reassures him with a kind smile, aching to reach out and grab his hand but aware that might freak him out. “I’m really glad you want to tell them about us, but we can tell them when you’re ready, we have all week to find the right way to do this.”

A smile steadily pulls at Jared’s lips, grateful and happy, and he lets out a little sigh as he closes his eyes and slouches down in his seat. Jensen watches him for a long moment, hoping he isn’t too obvious about what Jared means to him. He forces his eyes away, lest the cabbie get suspicious, and sets his sight on the view outside his window. It is sweltering in the taxi, his shirt already clinging to his back and making him uncomfortable. A shower will definitely be in order sometime after they arrive at Jared’s parents’ house.

He hasn’t told Mackenzie about this little trip because she will just bitch him out for not even considering dropping by for a visit. It has been going on two years since he last saw his parents and he still isn’t sure he is ready to face them again. He knows he should be a man and not let them scare him away from his childhood home, from his sister, but the mere thought of going home even for a visit makes him feel physically sick to his stomach. The tension his visit would inevitably cause puts him ill at ease and he doesn’t think he could take their rejection a second time around.

Yeah, you’re not a chicken at all, his inner voice mocks him unapologetically and he can’t deny the truth in those words. He knows he should square his shoulders, head home for the first time since he left and didn’t look back, and look his parents straight in the eyes as he tells them he is taking his sister out for lunch. He can almost imagine the looks on their faces, and that’s what sends a shiver down his spine.

He is pulled from his disheartening thoughts by a warm hand on his arm and when he turns his head he is met by knowing hazel irises. “Don’t do that, don’t let them ruin another thing for you,” Jared tells him softly but firmly at the same time. “Texas is your home, Jen, don’t let them take it from you. If you have to, make new memories, ones that make you want to come back rather than run away as fast as you can.”

He lets out a sigh slowly, pushing all thoughts of his family into the deepest recesses of his mind, and does his best to give Jared a believable smile. “I won’t let them ruin this visit for me, don’t worry.” If he doesn’t sound as sure as he’d like, well, neither of them point it out.


When they pull up to Jared’s childhood home Jensen is relieved and jumps out of the cab almost before the taxi even comes to a full stop, stretching his legs out. The backseats of cabs just weren’t designed for people with legs as long as theirs; he can imagine how stiff and achy Jared is feeling about right now. He sends his boyfriend a sympathetic smile when he sees Jared’s face scrunch up in displeasure, stretching his body to its limits to get out all the kinks.

Once they are finished stretching they make their way over to the trunk where the driver is pulling out their bags. They take their luggage off his hands, thanking him politely, just as they were raised to do, and then slowly make their way up the worn driveway. They have only taken a few steps when the front door suddenly flies open and two dogs barrel past a woman whom Jensen assumes is Jared’s mom.

Jared laughs heartily when he is nearly bowled over by the over eager dogs, reaching down to pet and scratch behind their ears. The dogs eat up his attention for a moment longer before catching sight of Jensen and moving towards him to investigate. They sniff at his shoes and pants before seemingly deeming him trustworthy, one of them licking at his hands happily while the other just sort of eyes him.

“The one washing your hand is Harley and the ol’ girl eyeing ya is Sadie; they’re my babies,” Jared informs him with a hint of pride in his voice that Jensen finds endearing.

Jared has told him all about these dogs, his babies as he puts it, and it is nice to finally see them for himself. Knowing how much they mean to his boyfriend has always made Jensen yearn to meet them. Jared has always had nice stories to tell about his dogs, talks about them nonstop sometimes in fact. Harley seems to have welcomed him openly while Sadie still appears a bit uncertain. They both sound like great dogs, from what Jared has told him, but he can already tell he will be drawn to Harley the most.

He lifts his attention away from the dogs and watches as Jared is pulled into a bone crushing embrace. His boyfriend laughs happily as he wraps his arms around his mom and hugs her back just as tightly. There is an ache in Jensen’s chest that he doesn’t want to acknowledge as he watches Jared with his mom. He can’t help wishing his own mom would greet him with such blatant happiness if he were to return home for a visit. He knows that isn’t going to happen though. He is the black sheep of the family, the disappointment, as far as his parents are concerned anyway.

“It’s so good to see you, J.T. I was so disappointed when you told me you couldn‘t make it out for Christmas this year,” his mom says with emotion, joy clear on her features when she pulls back and holds him at arms length, giving him a once-over. “You’re looking good, if not a bit thin, got a tan and everything… California’s been good to you. Nice to see you’ve been taking care of yourself, you know how much I worry with you so far away from home.”

Jensen smiles a bit self-consciously when she turns her head and eyes him curiously, if not a bit critically. Jared watches the exchange for a second before motioning Jensen closer to them. Jensen moves immediately, dogs close behind, and stops beside his boyfriend. “Mom, this is Jensen, my friend I told you about.” Jared introduces them with a grin, placing a hand on Jensen’s back casually.

“Jared’s only had nice things to say, it’s nice to meet you, Jensen,” Her eyes are filled with warmth as she speaks, reaching her hand out to him. “I’ve wanted to meet you ever since Jared first told me about you and him rooming together.”

“Likewise, ma’am,” Jensen responds politely out of habit as he shakes her hand.

“Now, none of that ma’am or Mrs. Padalecki nonsense, it’s not necessary. Please, call me Sharon,” she scolds lightly with a smile that reminds him instantly of Jared’s lifting her lips. “How ’bout we get you two settled and then you can have a slice of my homemade apple pie, hmm?”

The look on Jared’s face is one of pure delight, near salivating at the mention of his mama’s homemade pie, and the sight produces laughter from Jensen. Jared glares at him for it but it only manages to make Jensen laugh harder.

“Shut up,” Jared huffs. “Just wait till you taste my mama’s pie, you won’t be mocking me then cause I’m telling ya, it’s just like heaven.”

“I don’t doubt that, Jay,” Jensen responds, trying to stifle a chuckle at the blissful expression on his boyfriend’s face. “Now, let’s do as your mom suggested so I can taste this infamous pie.”

“I wouldn’t say it’s infamous, but I’ve had no complaints yet,” Sharon replies humbly as they follow her into the house.

“Don’t sell yourself short, mom, your pie is delicious and you know it,” Jared says, blissful look still on his face, making Sharon smirk at Jensen and roll her eyes.

Jensen immediately feels comfortable around her; it is kind of hard not to when she’s so nice. She just has a way of putting you at ease and making you feel right at home. He is grateful for this, since he usually feels uncomfortable and out of place in other peoples’ homes until he gets to know them better. It gives him hope for this visit, makes him believe it will go better than he could have hoped for.

Sharon leads them to a door off to the side of the staircase and they follow her inside as she flips on a light. It is quite homey, with scenic pictures placed strategically around the room, a mahogany dresser against one wall and a matching bed frame and vanity. The room has a sense of comfort to it that most guest rooms don’t have, yet you can still see that it is a guest room by the lack of tell-tale signs of personal possessions.

“I hope you don’t mind sleeping in here during your stay. I’d offer you one of the rooms upstairs but Jeff came into town when he heard Jared was visiting and this is the only available room in the house.” Sharon looks truly apologetic as she says this, as though Jensen is expecting special treatment or something even though they’ve only just met.

“This is more than fine, it’s a nice room and I assure you I’ll be most comfortable in here.” Jensen responds with a smile, a drawl of Texan accent slipping into his tone by surprise.

Sharon relaxes almost immediately, genuine smile placed on her face. “J.T., you didn’t tell me he was from Texas,” she says, swatting at his arm admonishingly. “We’ll have to have a good ol’ fashioned barbeque while you boys are here.”

“Sounds good, mom,” Jared responds with a fond grin.

“Alright, you two get settled and then meet me in the kitchen,” she says before backing out of the room.


Jared hadn’t been lying; the pie is absolutely, by far, the best pie he has tasted in a long time. He has never been a fan of apple pie but Sharon just may have changed his opinion on the matter. He has to catch himself as a moan threatens to break free when the pie explodes on his tongue, sweet with a touch of cinnamon. The fact that it is still warm and fresh from the oven makes it even better. His own mom has never been much of a baker, her specialty lies in homemade lasagna and meatloaf.

That is the only thing about this trip that is making him regret ever coming here; he can’t stop thinking about his family. Being miles away from Texas, it is easy to put his family in the back of his mind, but being around Jared’s family brings such thoughts to the forefront and he can’t avoid them no matter how hard he tries. It makes him realize just how much he misses his mom and dad, how hurt he is by their rejection, hurt by their abandonment.

It has been a long time since he has had to call the house directly to talk to his sister and there isn’t a doubt in his mind that if he were to call his mom would be awkward and his dad might not even talk to him, just like he didn’t before. He can’t deny how much that hurts, even though he has tried to tell himself time and time again that he doesn’t care, that he doesn’t need them if they can turn their backs on him so easily. He does need them though, and that’s why this is so difficult, why it cuts him so deeply even to this day.

Jensen manages to devour the rest of his pie without even realizing, too caught up in his thoughts, and rises to take it to the sink. Sharon is at his side almost immediately however, taking the plate out of his hands and demanding that he is a guest in their home and guests have privileges that the others in the house don’t have.

“Don’t worry, by your next visit you won’t be a guest anymore, you’ll be family, and you’ll be put to all sorts of work.” She winks at him taking the plate to the sink.

Jared smirks at him when he sees the blush Jensen is currently sporting and Jensen has to stop himself from whapping him upside the head. He can’t seem to stop blushing around Sharon and Jared is openly enjoying his embarrassment. There are ways Jensen can punish him for it though, and the thought alone brings a smirk to his own face. Jared’s eyes widen in understanding when he catches on and he gives him a pleading look that says, “Now Jen, don’t be like that.”

“So, I bet you have a ton of embarrassing stories to tell about Jared, don’t ya?” He directs this at Megan who is sitting across from him at the table.

She blushes at the attention, like she has been doing nonstop since she met him, and nods her head enthusiastically. “I’ve got a load of stories on this big oaf, not to mention pictures,” she says with a wicked gleam in her eye that makes Jared blanch.

“Don’t you dare!” Jared warns with a growl, making Megan smile innocently.

“There’s one of him naked in the bathtub when he was four,” Jeff speaks up nonchalantly, though he does nothing to hide the impish smile on his face. “I think that’d be the perfect one to drag out for old time’s sake.”

Jared looks between his brother and sister, disbelief plain as day. “I hate you both,” he grumbles unhappily. “If either of you even thinks about showing Jen that picture I will not hesitate to kill you.”

“You might have turned out to be a giant J.T., but I can certainly still kick your ass, make no mistake.” Jeff responds with a shit-eating grin that leaves Jared gawking at him, eyes round like an owl.

“I’m gonna go get it.” Megan jumps up and runs from the room.

“You better not, Meg, not if you want to live to see another day!” Jared yells as he runs after his sister.

They all sit there in silence for a moment before a squeal is heard from somewhere in the house. “Guess that’s my cue to save Megan from Jared’s wrath,” Jeff huffs as he rises from his chair, a grin spreading across his face, ready to join in on the fight.

“Nice to have the whole family home again, almost forgot what it was like having my kids act like hooligans.” Sharon sighs but there is a fondness in her eyes as she takes a seat at the table once more.

Distant sounds of scuffling and curses and yells can be heard from the kitchen, making Jerry, Jared’s dad, chuckle and smile knowingly at Jensen. “So, Jensen, how do you like California?” he asks, sounding genuinely curious.

Jensen shrugs. “It’s nice, a lot better than I expected it to be. I’ve actually grown to love it there, it’s a nice place to live, and I can easily see myself settling down there.”

“Where in Texas are you from exactly?”

Jensen shifts in his seat, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation is headed but unsure how to deflect it without drawing suspicion or inadvertently offending Jared’s dad. “I’m from Richardson.”

From the expression on Jerry’s face Jensen can see that he approves. “Ah, nice town, I’ve been there a few times,” he says while nodding his head. “It’s the kind of place I wouldn’t have minded raising my family if we didn’t love San Antonio so much. You’ll have to get Jared to show you around while you’re here.”

“Yeah, that would be nice.” Jensen responds quietly, looking down at the table and hoping to God Jerry doesn’t catch on to his reluctance to discuss anything relating to his hometown.

“Richardson is a fine town though, can’t imagine why you’d choose California over such a friendly place as that,” Jerry says, not unkindly, just kind of surprised. “You sure California is truly the place you want to settle down? I mean, don’t you miss your home at all?”

“Sure, I mean, I do at times. I dunno, I guess LA has grown on me and feels just as much like home as Richardson does, if not more.” Jensen explains the best that he can without getting irrationally defensive.

Jerry nods his head, slowly comprehending this. “I guess I can understand that, wherever you feel most comfortable, right? I bet your family is real proud of you for going out and making something of yourself, finding your direction in life and not letting anything hold you back.”

The smile on his face puts Jensen more at ease and he merely nods his head, sending Sharon a silent ‘thanks’ when she changes the subject. The concern on her face tells him that while he may have avoided raising Jerry’s suspicion, she wasn’t so easily fooled. He just hopes she doesn’t ask him about it later because he honestly doesn’t know if he’d have the strength to explain.


It’s not until after dinner that Jensen finds the time to slip away and try to get his thoughts in order, or at least find a way to deal with them. He really doesn’t want his family to ruin his visit but that is exactly what will happen if he continues with this somber mood he has been in since he arrived. He wants to enjoy his time here, get to know Jared’s family with nothing else on his mind, but so far he has allowed his trouble at home to dominate his every thought. Doesn’t matter what he’s doing, something always reminds him of ‘home’ and it’s starting to grate on his nerves.

Quietly, he sneaks off to the backyard, sliding the glass door behind him near silently. He takes in a deep breath of the cool night air and lowers himself into a lawn chair off to the right of him. He knows he probably should have told Jared he was coming out here, just so he would know where to find him, but Jared had been in the middle of spending quality time with his brother and sister and Jensen didn’t want to intrude.

Jensen realizes in dismay that his parents have too much control over him if they have the power to dampen his mood when he is in the middle of doing something he has waited so long for. He never wanted to give them such power over him, didn’t even realize he did until he came back to Texas and was faced with a family that reminded him so much of his own. He can’t help feeling like everything he had come to think of his family had never really been true. He had thought they would support him through anything, love him no matter what, but he had been wrong. So maybe his family isn’t as much like Jared’s as he’d assumed.

He still has his brother and sister, and is grateful to still have them in his life, but he can’t help yearning for his parents love as well. That doesn’t seem greedy to him at all since they are his family. He needs their love and support, no matter how much he wishes he didn’t at times. That right there might be why he is having such a hard time accepting things the way they are. He didn’t expect his parents to accept his sexuality right away, was willing to wait for them to adjust, but they weren’t even willing to try. That is what hurts him the most; they don’t love him enough to at least try for his sake. No, instead they cast him aside like some abomination.

The worst part of all is that he knows he would eventually forgive them if they just asked for it and were willing to try to accept him for who he is.

Jensen lets out a sigh and covers his face with his hands, tired of feeling this way and sick of the bleak thoughts floating through his head. He knows it is useless to wish for things that are never going to happen and he just wants these damn thoughts to leave him the hell alone. He is tired of hurting himself time and time again, just wants to move on and put the past behind him. That is kind of hard to do when the past keeps finding ways of haunting him.

“Hey, what are you doing out here?”

Jensen’s head snaps up at the sound of Jared’s voice, surprised that he hadn’t heard him approach until now. Jensen is sure something on his face must give away his train of thought because Jared is looking at him with concern written all over his features. He releases a sigh, motioning vaguely to the lawn chair next to him, and Jared instantly takes the unspoken invitation.

“I just needed some air, no reason to worry.” Jensen finally answers Jared’s question.

Jared eyes him for a moment, searching for signs of honesty. His brow creases a second later so Jensen believes it is safe to assume he isn’t doing too good a job of hiding his emotions. “Are you okay? You’ve been acting strange all day, I’d go so far as to say you’re withdrawn. You’re not regretting coming here, are you?”

“No that’s not it, trust me, I just… I have a lot on my mind at the moment,” Jensen replies, lowering his eyes to stare down at his hands.

“You’re thinking about your parents, aren’t you?” Jared asks softly, sympathy in the depths of his eyes as he rests a hand on Jensen’s shoulder in show of support.

“It’s just… I dunno, seeing you with your family… I can’t help but think about my own parents, ya know?” Jensen sighs and looks up at Jared once more, pleading silently for him to understand the thoughts going through his head. “I’ve been trying so hard not to think about them but the thoughts won’t stop!”

“It’s okay to miss them, Jen. What they did to you was cruel, but I can understand how you could miss them despite all that.”

“I don’t want to miss them,” Jensen says, voice firm but anguished. “After all the hurt they caused, I don’t want to miss them… I want to hate them for how they’ve treated me, but… most of all I just miss them. How messed up is that?”

“I don’t think it’s messed up at all. In fact, I think it’s pretty normal,” Jared whispers, eyes intense as he locks them with Jensen’s. “No matter what they did, they’re still your parents, and you’re always going to love them.”

Jensen’s lower lip trembles as tears fill his eyes, nodding his head slowly. “Why don’t they love me, Jared?” he asks almost desperately, needing an answer that Jared can’t provide.

“I don’t know, Jen,” Jared responds, sounding torn as he pulls Jensen into his arms, holding onto him tightly. Jensen burrows into the comforting warmth of his boyfriend and closes his eyes, breath coming out hitched and in pants. “I can tell you that they don’t deserve you though. They don’t deserve you at all. If they can’t see you for the amazing person that you are then that’s their loss.”

Jensen doesn’t respond, too choked up to form anything even resembling words. He is grateful for what Jared has said and he tries to show his appreciation by holding onto his boyfriend just a bit tighter, hoping his message is received. They might have their problems right now, still need to patch things up between them, regain that trust that was lost along the way, but to this day Jared still knows how to cheer him up and comfort him like no other. Jensen can’t help but find that reassuring.

“You are loved though, Jen, I hope you know that,” Jared continues whispering in his ear, soothing tones that gradually put Jensen at ease. “I know it’s not the same, and it doesn’t take away the pain, but you are loved… you’re loved by me, and I hope that’s enough.”


December 31st, 2000

Leaning against the wall in the living room with a plastic red cup filled to the brim, Jensen scans the area with his eyes, taking in newly familiar faces and plenty of unfamiliar ones. The Padalecki’s sure know how to throw a New Years Eve party, that is painstakingly clear. He catches sight of Jared at the opposite end of the room, talking animatedly with a friend from high school. His name is Tracy, Jensen believes. He seems like a decent guy, from what Jensen can tell. He hadn’t spoken to the guy very much to get much of an opinion about him.

Jared’s grin is spread from ear to ear as he gestures wildly with his hands, obviously in the midst of recalling a fond memory or telling Tracy a story from college. Jensen is near mesmerized by watching his boyfriend, the man is just so happy right now, and obviously on his way to one hell of a hangover in the morning. Jensen can’t help but chuckle at the thought, knowing he is going to have one whiny and grumpy boyfriend on his hands by morning.

Jensen lifts the cup to his lips and the tangy taste of a margarita explodes on his tongue a second later. Smacking his lips, a smile forms on his face, knowing he will have a bitch of a hangover coming his way too if he keeps downing these margaritas like he has been doing since the party began. He can’t help it though, they are damn good. Sharon certainly knows how to make drinks and he plans on enjoying them while he can.

“You having a good time?” Jeff asks, sidling up beside him, leaning back against the wall and sweeping his eyes around the room.

“Yeah, actually, I am. Though I suspect I’ll come to regret all these margaritas tomorrow.” He grimaces as he says this, drawing an amused smile to Jeff’s lips.

“They definitely have a kick, my mom’s awesome when it comes to mixing and fixing drinks. Believe me, they are worth the hangover, I know from experience,” Jared’s brother laughs softly, grabbing a cup on a table nearby and handing it to Jensen with a wink. “New Years is the time to celebrate, don’t even think about the hangover you’ll get, just enjoy yourself man.”

“Wise advice,” Jensen replies as he walks into the kitchen to throw away his empty cup and immediately starts in on the new one in his hand.

“Now that’s the spirit,” Jeff says in approval, having followed Jensen into the kitchen. “Has Megan bombarded you yet with her plans to take you and J.T. to the mall before you guys head back to Cali?”

“Nah, I haven’t seen her all night actually. Why? Should I be worried?” Jensen raises an eyebrow and chuckles softly at the incredulous expression on Jeff’s face.

“Are you kidding me? This is a teenage girl we’re talking about, she’s gonna have you going into every shop in the mall and you’ll spend hours in each one,” Jeff smirks after he has made his point, obviously pleased to hear the groan escape Jensen’s lips. “So, you tell me, should you be worried?”

“You don’t suppose there’s any way to avoid her for the rest of our visit, do you?”

Jeff laughs, shaking his head. “Good luck with that, Megan can be a determined little shit when she wants to be. Avoiding her would be like keeping candy away from Jared, pretty much impossible.”

Jeff pats Jensen on the back in mock sympathy before retreating out of the kitchen in search of his dad. Jensen leans back against the counter, cup held loosely in his hand, and can’t help the smile that grows upon his face. They have only been in town for two days and the trip is going better than he ever thought it would. Sure, he had a setback when he couldn’t tear his mind away from his parents, but he has since gotten a hold on that and now he can fully enjoy his time in San Antonio.

He honestly couldn’t love Jared’s family more, they are all just such great people. They welcomed him in without a hint of hesitance and he is a little surprised by how comfortable he feels with all of them. Jeff reminds him a lot of Josh and he is pretty sure they would get along smoothly. Megan is a sweet girl also; she still blushes whenever he speaks to her, though she is getting better holding a conversation without running away in embarrassment. Not to mention Jared’s parents are simply the coolest. They really are the All-American family and Jensen is glad to be fitting in so well. Maybe now Jared won’t feel so uncomfortable with bringing him back for a visit.

Of course, that really all depends on how they react to him being gay and them being in a relationship. To be honest, Jensen doesn’t think they will react badly to the news, at least not in the way Jared’s worried about. But, then again, what does Jensen know? He hadn’t expected his family to shun him when he told them about his sexuality either, yet that’s exactly what happened. He might not have the best judgment, but he still doesn’t see Jared’s family abandoning him over something like this.

Jensen can’t stop the full-blown smile that blossoms onto his face the instant Jared steps into the kitchen and is even happier to see his boyfriend is alone. Tracy has been at Jared’s side ever since he arrived, so it’s nice to have some alone time with Jared for the first time tonight. Jared grins at the sight of him, dimples standing out in stark relief, cheeks a little flushed.

Before Jensen can greet him with words, Jared grasps onto his hand and drags him from the kitchen. Jensen allows himself to be led upstairs, glancing around at the party that is in full swing to make sure no one is noticing their escape. Thankfully no one is paying them a lick of attention and they slip upstairs unnoticed, closing Jared’s bedroom door behind them with a resounding click.

“Finally got you alone,” Jared breathes against the side of his face, warm air that makes him shiver pleasantly. “Sorry I haven’t been around much tonight, I couldn’t seem to drag myself away from Tracy. Every time I tried to slip away he’d follow… was starting to get on my nerves actually.”

“I dunno, seems to be like you were rather enjoying yourself,” Jensen teases lightly, eyes bright in the dim-lit room and full of mischief.

“Sure, it’s nice seeing an old friend, but you’re actually the only one I want to spend New Years with,” Jared says seriously, making Jensen flush crimson. “I know it’s stupid but I was determined to spend New Years with you ‘cause… well, I can’t help seeing it as a fresh start, turning over a new leaf and all that. That made sense in my head, please tell me it makes sense aloud too.”

Jensen can’t help but chuckle at his inebriated boyfriend, smiling fondly and once again reminded why he decided to take a second chance on the shaggy-haired man. The guy simply does the cutest and sweetest things without even knowing it. How can Jensen not find that adorable and intriguing?

“Yeah, don’t worry, you got your message across,” he assures him in a quiet voice, reaching down to entwine their fingers. “Despite how unsure I still am about this, a fresh start sounds really good.”

“Yep, the new year is going to be different from this one, Jen. I’m gonna do things right this time, treat you the way you deserved to be treated all along, and show you each and every day just how much I love you and why,” Jared says, sounding so sure of himself as he wraps his arms around Jensen’s waist.

Jensen doesn’t respond verbally, settling for a nod of his head. He has doubts about it, but he keeps them to himself, not wanting to ruin the moment. Besides, this is them trying again, giving it another go, and the last thing he needs to be doing is shooting Jared’s hopes down every time he says something sweet that Jensen isn’t too sure about yet.

“Five!… Four!…”

Both of them take notice of the muffled countdown happening downstairs, neither of them having realized it was so close to midnight. Guess that happens when you’re having a good time though; the clock goes by unnoticed.

“Three!… Two!…”

Jensen’s eyes are warm and inviting as they lock with Jared’s and they gaze intently into one another’s stare, waiting patiently for the stroke of midnight. Both of them know this countdown signifies more than just the turning of a new year for them.

“One!… Happy New Year!!!” The screams from downstairs reverberate through the walls but inside Jared’s room it is still and intimate and their focus is solely for one another.

Without preamble, Jared’s lips connect with Jensen’s and nothing else matters in this moment but them and everything this kiss signifies. This is the fresh start they both need, a turning of a new page; this is hopefully the beginning of the rest of their lives. Unlike before, they are going to embrace their relationship and, if things work out as they hope they will, they’ll have something strong and unbreakable this time around.

Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
Music: Matthew Perryman Jones