Jared's like a furnace pressed along the front of his body, but his back, even with the blankets over them, is just too damn cold.
Jared stirs, and Jensen can tell the minute he comes to consciousness because he stiffens a little, momentarily disoriented before he remembers.
"Oh," he sighs then, sounding happy if groggy, and tightens his arms around Jensen, letting one large hand wander down his back to the curve of his ass. "Hey."
Jensen's cheek must feel like sandpaper against Jared's collarbone, so he soothes the rash with his lips, running his tongue over the mark he left there last night.
Oh god, last night they had sex. Well, blow jobs with finger penetration, but still --
Jensen's so hard he's afraid his dick might slice a piece out of Jared's hip.
Jared feels it, slips his hand down between their bodies, gets a grip on Jensen's dick, making him gasp.
"You want me to take care of this?" he smiles into Jensen's hair.
Jensen tips his head back so he can look up, meet Jared's heated gaze, dimpled smile a little crooked with sleep and sex. His hair is a tangled mess, and Jensen decides he needs to make it that way more often.
"It's cold," he notes. "Fire went out."
"I think I can fix that," Jared teases, and before Jensen can protest he's scooting down the couch and taking Jensen's cock in his mouth and it's like last night all over again and Jensen just moans and writhes and lets Jared warm him up, swallow him down like he's the best-tasting treat ever.
Afterwards, Jared tucks the blankets around Jensen and lets him doze while he jumps up, pulls his clothes on, and gets the fire going again in the wood stove, then finds something for them to eat and brings it back to the couch, sitting on the floor with his back against it while he eats.
Jensen runs his fingers through Jared's hair, combing out the tangles and feeling ridiculously lazy and content, not even hungry yet, just basking in the warm glow of this new thing between them as the stove slowly warms the room.
When Jared finishes his food he turns to Jensen, his eyes sparkling.
"Come on, sleepy-head," he teases. "The snow-plow will be here soon. What d'ya say to a little hand-job in the shower?"
"Oh god," Jensen groans, closing his eyes and throwing his arm over them dramatically. "You're insatiable."
"Pretty much," Jared agrees cheerfully.
So they have more mind-blowing sex in the shower and afterwards they get dressed but they can't keep their hands off each other and neither can stop smiling and the sound of the snowplow outside is the only thing that prevents them from going at it again.
They watch from the window as the plows go by, first one clearing one side of the road, the one behind clearing the opposite side. Right behind them comes a pick-up truck with a plow hitched to the front, a snowmobile in the back. Jensen watches as the pick-up turns into Donna Winchester's driveway, plow lowering to push the snow aside as it comes toward the house.
Jensen feels Jared's hand on his lower back, warm and possessive as Jared stands so close behind him it's like being enveloped in a cocoon of heated reassurance and constant promise.
Jensen feels like the Grinch, the way his heart just keeps expanding. He's sure it's changing something fundamental inside him, this miracle that is Jared's sudden admission of love and devotion. It doesn't feel real. It's like waking up in Wonderland.
The pick-up pulls up to the door and now Jensen can see Donna and another woman in the cab. Donna waves when she sees him and Jared in the window, and Jensen raises his hand to gesture back as Donna and the strange woman get out of the cab, wade through the deep snow to the front porch, fling open the door.
And just like that, reality shatters the illusion of Jensen's perfect little dream-world, the one where he and Jared finally find each other and live happily ever after.
Because Jensen can see in Donna's face that she knows. She knows Jared and Jensen are together. She's always known, since she first let them into the house. It's not a secret anymore, if it ever was.
"Well look at you," Donna's blue eyes sparkle as she stomps the snow off her boots. "You're up and about and looking mighty fine, I must say."
She turns her gaze on Jared and nods.
"Good work, Texas," she says with a smile. "You fixed your friend. Doesn't look like he'll need a hospital after all."
She turns to the other woman, starts to introduce her, but the other woman is just staring at Jared and Jensen with that look they've both seen about a bazillion times --
"Oh my god," she stutters. "No way."
"This is my niece, Kathy," Donna says, frowning. "Kathy, what's wrong with you? Say hello to Mr. Texas and his friend here."
"You -- you're -- " is about all Kathy can say, and Jensen smiles reassuringly, puts his hand out, feeling Jared's hand rub his back slightly.
"Nice to meet you, Kathy," he says, waiting patiently for her to get herself under control.
"Oh my god," she says again, then glances down at his hand and finally manages to reach out and take it. "You're -- you're him. You're really him."
"Probably," Jensen agrees, giving her his most disarming smile.
Donna is still staring at her, and Kathy finally recovers enough to shake Jensen's hand, then remembers she shouldn't just keep holding it indefinitely, so she lets it go.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she mutters. "It's just -- Aunt Donna, don't you know who these guys are?"
"Well, my memory isn't what it used to be," Donna admits. "I'm sure they told me their names, I just forgot. They're from Texas, I remember that."
"This is -- they're Sam and Dean," Kathy explains. "I mean, they play Sam and Dean. Just about my favorite t.v. characters of all time. I can't believe you're standing in my aunt's living room. This is -- this is epic."
Kathy blushes, finally tears her eyes away from Jensen's face to look up at Jared, shaking her head a little as if she's waking up from a dream.
"Hi," she greets him, and Jared nods at her, tight-lipped, his hand still pressed possessively against Jensen's back. "I mean, it's so good to meet you. I'm sorry to be such a goof -- I really do know the difference between fantasy and reality."
"That makes one of us," Jensen mutters softly, and Jared steps right in, covering for him smoothly, like it was all choreographed ahead of time.
"Do you have any shovels?" he asks. "Our car is buried in snow about a mile up the road. We could sure use some shovels to dig it out."
"Oh yeah, of course!" Kathy becomes practical all of a sudden. "I keep a couple in my truck, and Aunt Donna has a couple here -- I'll drive you up."
"Oh, that's not really necessary," Jensen says politely. "We can walk."
"Oh, no, I insist," Kathy says. "It's no trouble at all. And Aunt Donna and I can help dig you out. Won't take any time at all if there's four of us."
"And we're out of gas," Jensen remembers, and Kathy nods.
"Got that, too," she assures him. "Never go anywhere without an extra can of gas in the back. Tools, spark-plugs, battery cables -- extra water, blankets -- Up here you never know when you're gonna get stuck out in the middle of nowhere and need to survive a night in the cab of the truck."
Jensen just nods, Jared rolls his eyes, and they follow Kathy out to her pick-up.
They can't all ride in the cab, so Jared gallantly offers to ride the mile in the truck-bed, after he and Jensen lift the snowmobile out. Donna makes both men borrow her husband's heavy jackets, scarves, and gloves, and Jensen's fine leather boots are so badly damaged Donna insists he wear a pair of her husband's boots too. Otherwise they're both wearing the clothes they came into the house wearing, washed and dried like they never went through a snowstorm in the first place.
It takes them less than an hour to dig out the car, which was buried almost completely in a snowbank after the plows went around it and managed to pile even more snow on top of it. They brush off the roof with the long-handled brushes that Kathy keeps in her truck -- Jensen figures this gal keeps pretty much everything in that truck except maybe the kitchen sink -- and fill the tank with gas, then use Kathy's battery cables to jump start the car's almost-dead battery.
The physical labor warms them up, and the sunshine and sparkling snow make everything look fresh and bright, so that when they're finally ready to say goodbye to Donna and Kathy Jensen is feeling almost euphoric. Donna tries to make them keep the borrowed outerwear, but Jensen insists she take it back, just in case somebody else gets stuck in the snow up here and needs her help the way they did.
Kathy promises to follow them down the mountain, just to be sure they get back to the main road safely. Then Jensen gathers Donna into a hug, thanks her for everything and kisses her wrinkled cheek. She's tiny and birdlike in his arms, almost not even there, like a child, and Jensen's amazed again at the strength and courage of this one little old woman and the miracle of her haven from the storm just being there for them at the last possible moment.
Donna clings tightly to Jensen, prolongs the hug before releasing him. There's a film of tears in her eyes.
"You make me think of my son," she says. "He's an actor too. Always a bright boy, but too much of a risk-taker sometimes. You have that quality too."
She releases Jensen so she can give Jared a hug -- he has to bend almost in half to hug her because she's only about five-foot-two.
"You take care of this one," she says to Jared when she releases him. "I've rarely seen two people as devoted to each other as you two are. It's a gift. Don't waste it."
"We won't," Jared assures her with conviction, glancing at Jensen over her head.
Jensen nods silently, turns to Kathy, who puts her hand out awkwardly. Jensen smiles reassuringly at her and pulls her in for a hug too, and when Jared follows suit he suggests a picture, making Kathy blush because she hadn't wanted to presume --
So they take another minute to pose with Kathy while Donna fiddles with Kathy's phone, taking an awkwardly long time before she figures out how to make it take a picture. Then Jensen asks Kathy to take one of him and Jared with Donna, and she does, promising to email the picture to the address he taps into her phone, since his and Jared's phone are both dead.
Finally, they climb back into the Impala -- Jensen driving this time by silent agreement -- and Donna and Kathy get back into the pick-up truck. The road is packed with plowed snow, so they take it slow, but they're off the mountain within the hour and waving in the rearview mirror to Kathy and Donna as they pull onto the main road, then easily find the little gas station that Kathy recommended.
As Jensen pumps the gas Jared goes into the little convenience store and comes back with a car-charger for their phones, then they take turns making follow-up calls to their families. Jensen also calls Steve, letting him know they're okay, and listens while Chris grabs the phone away and yells at him for being such an idiot as to get lost in a snowstorm.
"And with that asshole Padalecki, goddamn it!" Chris rants, his anger barely masking his underlying relief. "No wonder you got lost. How could you even get into a car with that guy? What were you thinking?"
"It's okay, Chris," Jensen assures him. "We survived. That's the main thing. I'll explain it all later, I promise."
"You better," Chris fumes, but his voice has softened. "Just glad you're alive and in one piece, man."
"Me too," Jensen agrees. "Me too."
He ends the call, puts the phone down, looks up at Jared.
"You didn't tell him," Jared states, and Jensen shakes his head. They're still in the little parking lot of the gas station, engine running to keep the battery from dying and the phone charged.
"We have to tell them," Jared insists. "We have to tell our families. The crew back in Vancouver."
Jensen nods slowly.
"We will," he promises. "I just want to wait until we see them. It'll take some adjusting for my family and friends, not to mention the SPN family."
"You want to go public with this?" Jared's eyes widen. "You want everybody to know about us?"
Jensen takes a deep breath, shakes his head a little.
"I don't want to live a lie anymore, Jared," he says softly. "They'll want us to hide it, to keep them guessing. It's what they always want. As long as nobody knows the truth, everybody can keep their little fantasies."
"Like Destiel," Jared scoffs. "As if."
"Or just us being straight," Jensen shrugs. "I've never come out, Jay. My agent has always advised against it, and I've always listened to him because I needed to work. You, Steve, Chris, my family -- you're the only ones who know for sure. Otherwise it's all just rumor and conjecture."
Jared puts his hand over Jensen's, tangles their fingers together, and Jensen realizes he never wants to be not touching Jared again.
"I'll back you one-hundred percent, whatever you decide to do," Jared says firmly. "I mean it. And if it all goes south -- well, we'll figure something out. We can start a business together. I've got enough saved to get us started doing practically anything. I mean, we always knew this gig couldn't go on forever, right? So even if it ends next year, we can do something else. I never thought I'd keep acting after this anyway."
"Really?" Jensen is stunned. "You'd just chuck it? Not stay in the business at all?"
"Not if it isn't with you," he says without a moment's hesitation. "I mean, don't get me wrong. I love my job. But when I think back over the past ten years, what I think about most is how lucky I was to get to work with you and the rest of the Supernatural cast and crew. It's totally spoiled me for any future gigs; I'd like to think I'm smart enough to just admit that to myself."
Jared takes a deep breath, lets it out, furrows his brow.
"Because it doesn't get any better than this, Jensen, that's the thing I'm pretty damn sure of," Jared goes on. "And there's no repeats. No way am I ever getting another acting job as good as this one, because anything I do from now on would probably be without you. And I don't want to work in this business if I'm not working with you."
Jensen stares at him, still not quite believing what he's hearing.
"Jesus, Jared, that's pretty dramatic," Jensen shakes his head. "I'm not sure I -- "
"I'm pretty sure you just said the same thing, Jen," Jared interrupts. "Of course, there's always the possibility they'll extend the show indefinitely."
"Ha," Jensen feels his face fold into a smile, watches Jared's corresponding grin spread all over his beautiful face. "You know, you really are something. You know that, right?"
"That's exactly what I tell myself every morning when I look in the mirror," Jared deadpans, and Jensen snatches his hand away so he can punch his co-star on the shoulder.
"Fuck you," Jensen says, smiling so broadly it hurts.
"Counting on it," Jared answers, reaching up to slip his hand along Jensen's jaw, curling his fingers around the back of Jensen's neck and leaning in at the same time.
Their lips meet with a shock of actual static electricity, so that the kiss starts with a little sting and a jolt, then quickly evolves into something deep and full of promise. Jensen moans, shifts a little to relieve the sudden ache in his groin. He's never going to not kiss Jared again, he thinks as Jared's tongue sweeps into his mouth.
They manage to keep off of each other long enough to drive to Portland, return the rental car and check into a hotel where they book their flights home. The thought of separating is too much for either of them, so they decide to fly to LA together to visit Jensen's family, then on to Austin to visit Jared's family. Jensen's mother is predictably skeptical about Jared -- she vividly remembers the summer Jensen spent moping and depressed after things went bad between him and Jared six years ago, and although she never knew the details, she couldn't help blaming Jared for doing that to her son. It won't be easy for Jared to win back her trust, but Jensen figures if they can get Mama Ackles on board with this new thing between them, it'll be all down-hill from there.
And Jared is nothing if not determined to show everybody just how committed he is. He's totally ready to admit his past mistake and accept the blame for wrecking things all those years ago.
"I'm just grateful Jensen will still have me, after all that," he tells Mrs. Ackles when they're finally sitting across the table from Jensen's parents in Los Angeles a couple of days later. "I know I don't deserve him. All I can say in my defense is that I was young and stupid, and I made a terrible mistake. I just hope y'all can forgive me."
Donna Ackles purses her lips, doesn't look convinced, and Jensen can see it'll take her awhile, but eventually he's fairly sure she'll see how happy he is and will finally accept Jared, even if she may never quite trust him again.
After the chilly reception in Los Angeles, Jensen finds himself folded into the Padalecki family like he was always part of the tribe. There are cousins and parents and siblings with wives and children and it's a little overwhelming. Jensen finds himself gathered into bear-hug after bear-hug by Jared's tall, enthusiastic family members, and Jared's mother is positively effusive in her relief to see her son finally doing what he should have done in the first place.
"I always knew it," she claims when she corners Jensen in the kitchen where he's come in to help her prepare the food for the huge holiday gathering in their honor that she just threw together at the last minute.
"From the first time I met you, Jensen, I could see how he looked at you. I could see what you meant to him. He didn't see it, but I did. I always knew you two were made for each other. I always believed it would happen one day."
"Thank you, Mrs. Padalecki," Jensen blushes as he takes the cutting board and vegetables she offers him.
"Sharon," she corrects. "I told you the first time I met you to call me Sharon. We're family. Took long enough, but now we're really family."
She pats him on the cheek, slips an arm around his waist and squeezes, releases him to go back to her salad-making, leaving Jensen to cut up the vegetables.
"He's a stubborn boy," she says conspiratorially, as if she's revealing a deep secret and not simply stating the obvious. "That's why it took him so long to figure out how he really felt. But now the stubborn thing is good because he's true blue all the way, Jensen. Once he makes his mind up like he has about you now, that's it for him. You never have to worry. He's yours for life."
"I hope so," Jensen smiles shyly, meaning it with every fiber of his being.
Later, when Jared's family finally lets them leave, Jensen's so wired and high on all the love and attention he can't come down, so they go out to a bar where there's a band playing, and it turns out Jared knows one of the guys in the band so Jensen finds himself up on the stage after a few drinks, playing guitar and singing along, getting lost in the music the way he loves to do.
And when he looks out at the packed dance-floor he finds Jared right away because he's head-and-shoulders above everyone else and he's standing stock still, just staring at him the way he did that night in Seattle, only now there's such pride and wonder in his face, the kind of stunned realization Jensen still feels whenever he looks over and sees Jared sitting there, remembers with a start that they're together now, he can reach out and take Jared's hand or lean in and kiss Jared and it will be okay. Jared wants him. Jared needs him. Jared loves him.
Jensen is euphoric with a sense of endless possibility, the promise of a future that seems brighter and more glorious than he could have imagined, now that he has Jared. Now that his life is complete.
CHAPTER SEVEN - BACK TO MASTERPOST