The Long and Winding Road (amypond45) wrote,
The Long and Winding Road

What a Fool Believes - Chapter 7

After the hiatus Jared and Jensen return to Vancouver together, and it's obvious to everyone what has happened to them.

Not that they've kept it secret. Jensen is adamant on that point, and despite his agent's strong protests, he goes public with their relationship just after the airing of the mid-season finale.

The fans are ecstatic, of course. It's like their greatest fantasy come true, and the tweets of support and congratulations pour in until Twitter has to shut down its servers temporarily so they can figure out a way to accommodate the onslaught. At their first convention appearance after this the fans give them standing ovations, led by Misha Collins, Rob Benedict, and Richard Speight.

The powers-that-be, however, are less pleased. Seems it's not okay for the two co-stars to be gay for each other in real life because they play brothers in the show and incest is really, really not okay on a CW show with a large teenage audience, and the PTB don't seem to be able to separate reality from fiction, so they assume their young audience can't either.

They are renewed for one more year, but with clear indications that Season 11 will be their last.

"I've always wanted to be a vintner," Jared tells Jensen the night they get the news.

They're in bed in their apartment in Vancouver, sipping red wine and watching sports recaps with the sound mostly turned down.

"Yeah, okay," Jensen agrees, taking another sip of his wine. "We can do that."

"The conventions will probably go on for awhile," Jared adds. "There'll be income from that."

"Right," Jensen nods.

"You'll always be able to get work, Jen," Jared says. "There will always be parts available for you, if you want them."

"Maybe," Jensen shrugs. "Probably."

"Plus we can do charity work," Jared suggests. "There are always charities looking for spokespersons. We could do that together. Not much money in it, maybe, but it would be a good thing to do."


Jared sips his wine silently for another minute.

"We should get married," he says softly.

Jensen turns his head at that, raises an eyebrow.

"Come again?"

Jared shrugs.

"I want to," he says simply. "I want everybody to see my ring on your finger. I want everybody to know how much I love you."

"I think we've made it pretty clear, Jared," Jensen notes. "I don't think there's anybody left to tell it to."

Jared shifts uncomfortably, gets that stubborn set to his jaw and that frown that Jensen knows too well.

"I want to be married to you," he insists quietly. "I want it to be official."

Jensen is still looking at him, relishing the warm feeling in his chest that's always there now when he looks at Jared. No more apprehension, no more tension. No more fear or out-right terror of what Jared might do or say --

Although Jared never ceases to surprise him, the way he's doing now.

After the initial shock of their union, it's taken Jensen a few months to become really comfortable with their new relationship. Old habits die hard, and part of him still can't quite believe Jared isn't going to suddenly change his mind and leave.

Not that he'd given any indication of that. On the contrary; Jared has been solicitous, loving, full of devotion and adoration -- not to mention rabidly enthusiastic about everything to do with sex --

It still gives him a little thrill to catch Jared's eye across a room, watch his hazel eyes widen and his face break into a smile. It's still a bit of a shock every time Jared touches him in public, from putting a hand on the small of his back, to leaning over to whisper something intimate into his ear. He still starts a little when Jared's hand closes over his, when Jared comes up behind him and rests his chin on Jensen's shoulder or wraps his arms around him and kisses his ear and jaw. And the first time Jared greeted him in a restaurant with an open-mouthed kiss and a quick squeeze of his ass, grinding into him as he did -- Jensen was so startled all he could do was stare after Jared released him, fighting down the flush in his cheeks as Jared guided him to their table, aware of eyes on them all over the room.

Yeah, this new thing was taking some getting used to.

Not that he's complaining; it definitely beats the way things were before. Openly-affectionate Jared beats pissed-off asshole Jared by about a million to one. And Jensen's learning to trust this new version of the man he's been in love with for as long as he can remember.

It's just different, having Jared actually love him back. Having Jared want to live with him, be with him all the time, even when they're off work.

And now, having Jared want to marry him.

"I'm not gonna say no, Jay," Jensen says now, taking Jared's hand in his and giving it a warm squeeze. "I just think I need a little more adjustment time. I need to take things a little slower than you do. It's the way I'm made."

"I know it is," Jared nods sagely, like he's already thought this through carefully instead of just pulling it out of his ass, as Jensen suspects. "That's why we have a long engagement. Announce it to our families first, wait awhile before we go public. I know my mother, and she's gonna want to plan a big wedding, so -- "

"Wait, so that means you're the girl?" Jensen interrupts, and Jared pulls his hand free so he can punch Jensen's shoulder.

"No! I'm just saying, your mom might not be so keen on wedding-planning, and I know my mom loves to plan parties. She'll be in her element if we let her do this."

He sets his wine-glass down so he can turn completely toward his lover, lean in close for a long, gentle kiss, holding Jensen's face between his huge hands. Jensen relaxes into the kiss, smiles warmly at Jared as he pulls away, damp lips parted and eyes dark with need.

"So what do you say?" Jared breathes, panting a little. "Will you marry me, Jensen Ackles?"

Jensen gazes back, trying to still the pounding of his heart, the slight trembling of his lips as he parts them, lets his tongue swipe along the lower one, fully aware of his effect on Jared even before he sucks in a ragged breath and makes a low moaning noise in this throat.

"Yeah," Jensen whispers, then clears his throat and tries again. "Yeah, Jared, I will."

There's not much talking after that, and Jensen is just fine with that, since having Jared Padalecki and his incredible body all to himself is still something Jensen cannot get enough of.

And he's pretty sure he never will.


Things actually end up moving ahead more quickly than Jensen initially intended, and honestly, he's okay with that after all. The engagement parties are a little embarrassing, as is the solid gold ring Jared gives him, but in the end he's just grateful it doesn't have any fruity diamonds or other stones on it and that really it looks pretty basic and masculine for an engagement ring, not showy at all.

Jared knows him, and for that Jensen is more grateful than he wants to admit.

They get married in a beautiful resort on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge in June. Jensen's family is there, but it's definitely a Padalecki party -- huge and overflowing and joyful. Many of the still-shell-shocked cast and crew of the show attend, still shaking their heads at the insanity that is the Ackles-Padalecki relationship.

Misha Collins contributes a giant ice sculpture in the shape of an erect penis, which is proudly displayed in the center of one of the buffet tables, then tweets selfies licking it to all his followers.

Genevieve Cortese has the good grace to attend, scaring the shit out of Jensen for all of five minutes when he realizes she's in the room before she comes up to him with a little smile and kisses his cheek.

"Told you so," she says smugly, then offers her congratulations to her ex-husband before sauntering off to the bar.

Donna Winchester and her niece are also in attendance, and as soon as she sees him Donna marches right up to Jensen and punches him on the arm.

"Ow!" he stares at her. "What was that for?"

"For all the stuff, Romeo!" she says, referring to the gifts Jensen and Jared had sent, after checking with Kathy to find out what Donna needed, namely a new generator, new dishwasher, new washer and dryer, and a new snow-blower. "You don't just buy a girl a bunch of stuff! Who do you think you are?"

"You can sell it," Jensen assures her. "It's yours. For saving our lives. Not that we can ever repay you for that -- "

"Exactly," she snaps. "A simple 'thank you' is worth a million dollars worth of stuff, Pretty Boy."

"Thank you, Mrs. Winchester, really," Jensen says, putting on his most sincere smile.

"It's Donna," she says sharply. "And you don't have to thank me. You never did."

Then she hugs Jared, tells them to take care of each other, and wanders off toward the buffet table, eyeing the ice sculpture critically.


Jared and Jensen slip away quietly before the party's over, take the elevator to their suite, turn off the lights and open the curtains of the floor-length windows with the stunning view of the Columbia River. They stand shoulder-to-shoulder for a moment, sharing a bottle of champagne, just admiring the view. It's dark, but the night is full of stars and the lawn spreads out far and wide toward the river and the dark hills on the other side, giving the scene a deceptively quiet stillness that stands in stark contrast to the activity and noise of the day they've just had. Jared slips his hand into Jensen's and they stand like that for another minute, until Jensen makes the first move.

Turning slightly toward his husband he raises his glass in salute.

"Congratulations, Mr. Ackles-Padalecki," he smiles up at Jared, whose eyes are glistening in the gloom.

"Congratulations to you as well, Mr. Ackles-Padalecki," Jared returns, and they clink glasses and take a sip, stare shyly at each other for another moment.

"We don't really have to use that long hyphenated name, do we?" Jensen asks "I always hated hyphenated names."

Jared grins broadly. "Nope. I'm taking yours. It's already legal."

"No way," Jensen stares, shocked. "You signed the marriage certificate like that?"

"Yep," Jared confirms. "You didn't even notice, huh?"

Jensen stares another minute, then feels his face warm into a smile.

"Which proves once and for all that you really are the girl," he grins up at Jared.

"Which explains the big dick," Jared nods. "And all the topping."

"Shut up!" Jensen grouses. "I top!"

Jared tilts his head skeptically.

"I do!" Jensen insists. "You just don't like to bottom, that's all."

"Good thing you don't have that problem," Jared teases, and Jensen flushes to the roots of his hair. "Of course, I'm pretty new to the whole gay sex thing."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jensen demands.

"Well, I'm just saying the bottoming thing might grow on me if we practice a little more," Jared suggests tentatively.

"Really?" Jensen stares, catches Jared's eye, and they both collapse into laughter, vividly recalling Jared's one and only attempt to bottom over the past six months of their sex-life, at his complete and utter inability to keep still enough to let Jensen lick him, much less stick anything into his ass. It was definitely a comedy neither of them is quite ready to repeat.

"Or not," Jared gasps when he can finally grab a breath again.

Once they're both calm again Jensen deliberately puts their glasses down and reaches up to loosen Jared's tie, slipping it loose and batting Jared's hands away as he started to unbutton his shirt.

"Nope," Jensen says firmly. "It's our wedding night and I'm going to undress you."

"Okay," Jared breathes, and it obviously takes him considerable effort to stand still while Jensen removes his tie, then his shirt, sliding it down over his shoulders with deliberate slowness. He lets Jared unbutton his own cuffs -- or rather, remove the gold cufflinks since this is a tux and yeah.

"Lift your arms," Jensen instructs when he starts to lift Jared's tee-shirt, revealing just an inch or two of belly at first, then working the tee-shirt up, up till he's pulling it over Jared's head, messing his hair and making it stick up all over. Jared shakes his head like a wet dog when the tee-shirt joins his dress-shirt on the floor, and starts to reach up to run his hands through his hair to smooth it down but Jensen grabs his hands.

"Stop," he insists. "Let me."

And he can see the tension in Jared's shoulders, the effort it takes him not to reach up and do it himself as Jensen slips his fingers through Jared's long mane of hair, combing it down so it lies fairly flat, tucks it behind his ears. He leaves his hands on Jared's face after, thumbing his cheekbones, staring into Jared's warm hazel eyes, lowering his gaze to Jared's parted pink lips before pulling his face down so he can kiss them, stepping right up against Jared's bare chest as he does. His own crisp white dress shirt slides along Jared's tan skin with a vague rustling sound as Jared's arms wrap around him, holding him close as they kiss, slow, languid, meaningful. They've got all night, and Jensen's determined to make it a memorable one, force Jared to drag out every moment, not just charge through it like he usually does.

And Jared is teachable, that much has become clear over the past few months. He may have started out their personal life together with something like a bull-in-a-china-shop attitude, crashing around almost blindly in his eagerness and excitement, always demanding and rarely listening when Jensen tells him to take it slow, draw it out, take it in.

Just be in the moment.

But lately he's gotten better. He waits with something akin to patience sometimes when Jensen asks him to, he lets Jensen just remove all of the gadgets, turn off the t.v., sit quietly with him and watch the snow fall or the fire burning, just reflect, bask in each other's companionship and their shared gratitude to have found each other, to be together.

Now when Jensen pulls back, ends the kiss and takes a step back so he can return to undressing the taller man, Jared lets him, kicks off his shoes as Jensen reaches for the clasp on his trousers, slides the zipper down slowly, reaches his hands under the waistband to push the material down over Jared's hips, letting the trousers pool on the floor at his ankles, followed by his boxer briefs.

"On the bed," Jensen growls, sliding his hands over Jared's generous pecs and giving him a little push.

Jared obeys eagerly, spreads himself out on his back across the bed, watching Jensen with his beautiful slanted eyes. Jensen climbs onto the bed after him, still fully clothed, and straddles Jared's hips, taking one huge wrist in each hand and bending his arms at the elbow as he leans down to capture Jared's mouth with his.

Jared bucks up against him, dick already hard and throbbing, seeking friction as Jensen kisses him, holding his wrists next to his head. But Jensen keeps his body carefully elevated, doesn't sink down on top of Jared, keeping his wrists clasped in Jensen's hands as he deepens the kiss, making Jared moan with need.

Jensen releases Jared's mouth and kisses down his jaw, sucks and licks and lets his teeth scrape the stubble there, dips his tongue into the cleft of Jared's chin.

"Fuck, Jensen, let me touch you," Jared gasps, hips bucking up and head tipping back so Jensen has access to his gorgeous neck.

Jensen smiles against Jared's skin, hums deep in his throat as he runs his tongue along the shell of Jared's ear, feeling him shiver.

"Do you trust me?" he rumbles low into Jared's ear, eliciting another shiver, another gasp.

"Do you?" Jensen squeezes Jared's wrists, takes his earlobe into his mouth and sucks, then bites down a little for emphasis.

"Yes," Jared breathes out. "Yeah, I do."

And Jensen just has to kiss him again for that, long and deep and hard, so that his head's spinning a little when he finally pulls back, breathing hard.

"Stay like that," he orders, squeezing Jared's wrists again. "Stay."

Jared's face is flushed and beautiful, his eyelids fluttering, pink lips parted and swollen, dizzied by Jensen's attention. He manages a short nod, swallows and licks his lips, opens his eyes to gaze up at Jensen as the older man releases his wrists, satisfied that Jared will obey his order. Jensen holds Jared's gaze as he straightens up and reaches for his own tie, slowly loosening it, then pulling it free as he reaches for Jared's wrists, wraps the silk tie around one, then the other wrist, binding them together over Jared's head. He ties the end to the bed springs, laying almost completely on top of Jared has he does so, and Jared stays still the whole time, bucking only a little when Jensen's clothed body comes in contact with his engorged cock, gasping Jensen's name as he does.

Once Jensen's tested the knot he leans back to get a good look at Jared's bound form, decides it's the sexiest damn thing he's ever seen. Jared strains against the knot a little, gets this wide-eyed deer-in-the-headlights look when he realizes he's actually stuck -- the knot's holding pretty well -- and Jensen smiles, watching Jared's muscles tense and ripple and release, the veins on his arms bulging and relaxing again.

Yep, definitely hot.

"What're you gonna do?" Jared asks, a little breathless after his efforts to free himself.

"Gonna fuck you," Jensen says, keeping his voice low and intense. "And this time, you're gonna let me."

"God," Jared exhales, cheeks flushing as his eyes flutter closed, squirming uncontrollably. He buries his face in his arm as his hips surge up off the bed, make contact with Jensen's spread thighs.

Jensen backs off the bed, watches Jared as he undresses, waits till Jared's looking before he licks his lips, holding Jared's gaze the entire time, so that the younger man gasps and bucks up, eyes slipping closed again so he misses Jensen's triumphant smile.

Once he's naked, Jensen begins a slow seduction of Jared's entire body, working his way down from his neck with his hands and mouth, stealing long, languid kisses from his lips, teasing his nipples with his tongue and teeth, mouthing a trail down his chest, sliding his hands along the smooth, silken skin over his ribcage. When he finally settles between Jared's spread legs he takes his time, sucking into the crease of his groin, taking sharp little nips along his inner thighs, making Jared gasp. He takes his time, leaves Jared's cock and balls untouched until he's covered every other inch of skin with his mouth and tongue, sucking and biting and licking thoroughly, pushing Jared's bent knees back so he can lick below his balls, thoroughly ministering to the sensitive skin of his crack, around his hole before licking back up to his balls, sucking on them for awhile as Jared moans and writhes, then kneeling up between his legs and catching Jared's eye as he takes his dick between his lips.

"Aw, fuck!" Jared exhales as Jensen sucks him down, deep-throating expertly because he can and he knows he's pretty fuckin' awesome at this and he's proud of it, even while his jaw aches and his eyes smart with tears.

Jared tries to watch because it's his favorite thing ever, or so he tells Jensen every time he does it -- but he's already so sensitized he has to concentrate on not coming as soon as Jensen's mouth is on his dick, so he squeezes his eyes closed and hisses and writhes and mostly just comes completely apart under Jensen's mouth and hands, which was the idea in the first place so it's all good.

After the blow-job it still takes a lot of tonguing to get Jared loose and relaxed enough to take Jensen's lubed fingers, then the head of Jensen's dick, but Jensen is patient and persistent, and when Jensen's fingers finally rub against Jared's prostate he gives a satisfying jerk and curses a bloody streak, legs falling open in invitation, giving in completely to sensation as Jensen had suspected he would if he could just get past those initial Padalecki defenses.

"Knew it," Jensen murmurs as he caresses Jared's nipple with his tongue, feeling it bead as he pulls it into his mouth, then tugs gently with his teeth. "So sensitive."

He's holding himself still, just inside Jared's body, waiting for him to adjust, giving Jared a chance to tense up and resist.

When he doesn't, just spreads himself even wider, surges up into Jensen's mouth, the older man slides in, slow and careful, working Jared's chest and throat with his mouth, stroking long, soothing caresses up his sides, up to Jared's bound arms. And when he bottoms out and he's balls deep inside Jared he captures Jared's pink mouth again, swallowing his little gasping breaths and caressing his jaw as he kisses him, deep and possessing. Jared starts a little as he tastes himself on Jensen's tongue, then he feels Jared's dick swelling against his belly and he smiles against Jared's mouth, taking almost as much pleasure in Jared's surrender as he does in the feel of Jared's tight heat around his dick.

"Gonna release you now," Jensen murmurs against Jared's mouth, reaching up to untie the knot that started the lesson, finally letting Jared touch him. "You did good."

He pulls back a little after Jared's arms come down around him, thrusting slowly in and out of Jared's tight hole as Jared's hands move over body, then slide up to hold his head so he can watch Jensen's face as his orgasm builds. Jared cries out as Jensen's dick hits his prostate, throwing his head back and closing his eyes against the sudden spine-melting pleasure that he's feeling for the first time in his life. And watching it happen -- knowing he's the one putting that look on Jared's face, just giving him this new experience that is so intense and real and almost unbearable -- Jensen feels such love for Jared it makes his chest swell and his dick twitch and he's done.

Not even fully aware of doing it as his orgasm surges through him, Jensen rears up and goes completely rigid, utterly a single choked syllable as he comes and comes and comes, harder than he can remember ever coming before, the knowledge of Jared's trust and love for him making the moment almost too much.

Later, after they clean up and lie curled around each other in the dark, naked and warm and sleepy, Jared huffs out a laugh, curling his fingers in Jensen's hair.

"What?" Jensen opens his eyes, smiles at Jared's wide-eyed gaze. Jared looks so young in the dim light, like that boy Jensen first fell in love with all those years ago, that fresh-faced kid with all of his innocent belief in life, in the world, in Jensen. Just trusting that good things would always happen for him. And Jensen remembers wishing he could keep him that way, safe from pain or disappointment or unhappiness, just keep Jared smiling his wide-eyed, dimpled smile forever.

"It's our wedding night," Jared grins.

Jensen smiles wider, nods, wiggles down into the mattress a little. closes his eyes.

"Yeah," he agrees, feeling ridiculously proud of himself suddenly.

He feels Jared's expectant gaze on him, so he cracks open an eye.

"What?" he asks again, watches Jared shake his head a little.

"Well, that was my first time," he says like it should be obvious and Jensen's just being deliberately dense.

Jensen blinks, honestly taken aback, because it just hadn't occurred to him that Jared could be so old-fashioned.

It's cute, he decides immediately. Definitely cute.

"Yeah," Jensen agrees. "I'm awesome."

Jared blushes, lowers his eyes and grins broadly enough to light the whole room.

"You're an asshole," he breathes with a slight shake of his head.

"Yeah, but I'm your asshole, and you're my blushing bride," Jensen snarks back, grinning so hard his face hurts.

"Oh my god, you're so dead for calling me that," Jared breathes, grabbing Jensen to tickle him before he can get away, sending them both rolling across the bed, grabbing at each other's ribs and armpits and ticklish surfaces until they're both gasping and breathless with laughter.

All of which ends in more sex, of course, which is entirely appropriate, since it's their wedding night.

And Jensen decides he really wouldn't have it any other way.


He dreams he's in a diner in New Mexico, sitting across the table from Sam Winchester, who is going on and on about his latest research on a new hybrid monster that eats cattle but leaves the hearts.

"It's like a cross between a chupacabra and a werewolf," Sam is saying as he takes another bite from his plate of rice and beans and some kind of burrito thing covered in green enchilada sauce.

Jensen looks down at his own plate, notes the remains of a beef burrito smothered in sour cream, pushes it away in disgust.

That's when he notices his hands. The strange callouses, the scarred knuckles, the silver ring on the right one -- they're the hands of a man who's spent his life doing hard physical labor.

They're Dean Winchester's hands.

"What's wrong?" Sam asks, noticing the way Jensen is staring at his hands with what must be a look of surprise. "Dean? What's wrong?"

He looks up at Sam, stares at him helplessly, and in that way that only happens in dreams, Sam gets it. Understands what's happened, knows who he is.


He doesn't seem upset, doesn't look worried or freaked out, just a little surprised as Jensen nods.

"Hi Sam."

"What are you doing here?" Sam asks, then interrupts himself. "Wait, how are you here?"

"You tell me," Jensen shakes his head a little. "I was asleep -- it's my wedding night. I must be dreaming. Although I have to say, this is more of a nightmare."

But Sam doesn't get all freaky, doesn't seem nearly as worried or concerned as Jensen thinks he should be if this were real. In fact, Sam smiles a little and shakes his head.

Yep, definitely a dream.

"Wedding night, huh?" Sam repeats. "So -- everything worked out with you and -- that Polish actor?"

Jensen grins, relaxing a little. It's just a dream. Gonna wake up. Nothin' to worry about. Not stuck here.

"Yeah," he confirms. "Me and Fake You were officially married today. Gonna live happily ever after, goddamn it."

Sam's still smiling softly, looks down at his food, then up out the window.

"That's good," he says, nodding. "I'm glad it worked out."

"How 'bout you, Sam?" Jensen asks. "Everything okay? I guess you got your brother back."

Sam lifts his eyebrows, takes a deep breath, huffs it out as he raises his eyes to Jensen again.

"Yeah, I did," he confirms. "No thanks to you, though. Took me another six months after you left before he came back."

"He came back?" Jensen repeats, frowning.

"Yep," Sam nods. "Decided he couldn't live without me after all, what d'ya know?"

"No surprise there," Jensen nods. "But what about the demon thing? He cured now?"

"Not exactly," Sam frowns a little. "He's still demonic, still has the Mark, but it's manageable. It's something we can deal with."

"Huh," Jensen purses his lips doubtfully. "Not exactly the way things worked out in our world."

"Yeah, well, in your world our lives are just a t.v. show," Sam reminds him. "This is real. Things are different here."

Jensen has to concede the point, nods, realizes he doesn't really want all the details anyway.

He gazes at Sam silently for a moment as Sam takes another bite of his food, sips his beer.

"You look good, Sam," he comments.

Sam looks up at him sharply, then his face softens and he blushes a little and lowers his gaze.

"Thanks," he says. "So do you."

They sit in companionable silence for a minute, and Jensen wonders why he hasn't woken up yet.

Then he remembers he has something to tell Sam.

"They canceled the show," Jensen reveals, and Sam looks up in surprise.

"Oh no," he says. "I'm sorry. You're gonna be looking for work again." And I put that tattoo on your chest, Jensen can see Sam thinking but not saying.

Jensen grins, shakes his head.

"Doesn't matter," he says. "Jared and I will figure something out. He wants to start a winery. Grow grapes. We've got our eye on a bit of acreage out in Eastern Washington. It's miles from anything, but there's a little airport in Walla Walla, so we're good. I'll probably still manage to land some guest starring jobs if I want them, and I've had a standing invitation to join a friend's folk-rock band, so maybe now's my chance to really give that a shot. I'm still fairly young, time enough to start a new career if I want. I've been insanely lucky so far, and I never imagined the show would go on as long as it has, so I really can't complain."

Sam is looking at him, his gaze fond and soft.

"You've changed," Sam says. "You're more confident. More sure of yourself. It suits you."

Jensen nods.

"I guess we've all changed," he agrees.

The waitress comes up, offers them more coffee and water, asks about dessert, and Jensen orders a piece of blueberry pie because he suspects Dean would appreciate it and he's not planning to stay.

"I know I messed things up for you and Dean, and I'm sorry for that," he tells Sam after the waitress leaves again. "But I gotta say, coming here and facing this place for a week and a half -- well, it was no picnic, that's for sure. But it showed me I could survive something pretty traumatic, and yeah -- I think it changed me. I think I'm a stronger person for having been here. With you. I'm probably a better man than I was before. So -- so thanks, Sam."

Sam shifts uncomfortably, looks down at his plate.

"You don't have to say that," he mutters, pushing the food around with his fork.

"Yeah," Jensen argues. "Yeah, I do. And I mean it. I'll always be grateful to you, Sam Winchester, for saving my life. And you know what? There's a lot of people in this world who would say that to you, if they had the chance. Don't ever think there isn't."

Sam lifts his eyes, gives Jensen that skeptical, half-hurt expression that is so uniquely Sam it makes Jensen's chest hurt.

"And your brother is one lucky guy," Jensen adds, because he knows Dean. Knows he doesn't tell Sam enough how much he means to him. How important Sam is. "And don't worry, he knows he's a lucky bastard, just for having you. You're more than he deserves, and he knows it."

"Dean is a hero," Sam argues. "He's my hero. He faces everything head on, never stops or breaks down or takes a break, just keeps working to make the world a little better, a little safer for everybody except himself. He's the most self-less person I know. He gives and gives and gives, and the world just piles more shit on him and he keeps on giving anyway."

Sam takes a deep breath, shakes his head a little as if he's not used to expressing himself so passionately, and Jensen loves him for it, loves that Sam can lose himself in talking about the thing that means the most to him.

"The least I can do is to support him," Sam goes on. " To always have his back. It's the very least I can do for a man who's given everything."

"Not everything," Jensen reminds him. "He has you. And for Dean, you are everything."

Sam stares at him for a moment, then shakes his head again as if he's clearing it.

"I feel like I'm supposed to kiss you now," Sam says, the corners of his mouth turning up just a little as he ducks his head almost shyly.

Jensen shakes his head, grinning despite himself.

"Well, that's the way the scene ends in a typical romantic comedy," he agrees. "But you and Dean aren't exactly a typical romantic couple, so -- " His grin widens. "Besides, I'm a married man now."

"Go home to your husband, Jensen," Sam says softly. "Your work here is done."

And just like that -- and when he remembers the dream in the morning Jensen swears it was a magical event somehow conjured by Sam maybe, however accidentally, or maybe some residual after-effect of his earlier visit to Sam's world -- Jensen's home again, without even having to tap his ruby slippers together or anything.

Because if he really thinks about it hard enough, Jensen has to admit that Kansas isn't such a bad place after all. Or anywhere ordinary and natural, as a matter of fact, as long as Jared's there.

As long as Jared and Jensen are together, as they were always meant to be. Maybe they're not hunting things and saving people, but they kind of saved each other, and really that's not such a small thing.

That's not nothing at all, Jensen decides as he watches his husband take a sip of his coffee while he checks out the latest news and sports on his laptop, the morning sun on his hair making some of the strands look dark red and lustrous, his eyes full of color.

Jared looks up, catches his eye, and smiles.



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