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

Last Chance [J2, R] - Part Three

JARED: 2005 Reset

The sun beats down as Jared pulls into the last parking space on the studio lot. He's been here before, knows the drill, but he still feels that adrenaline rush of excitement as he climbs out of his SUV and heads toward the office door. He's had a recurring role on Gilmore Girls for five years now, auditioned for dozens of roles in other pilots, but the chance to get the lead in a brand new show is more of a thrill than he's letting himself admit. He's already read for this part half-a-dozen times, knows he's getting close.

Better not get too excited, he tells himself. Better not read too much into this.

Jared prides himself on being ready for anything. That's the nature of this business, and he has friends whose careers have been made on the basis of one chance, one lucky break. He's also seen friends crash and burn on the same basis. He's been luckier than most so far and he knows better than to go into auditions thinking he's already made it. Better to be hungry for it, to convey the eagerness-bordering-on-desperation that the business requires from young actors.

Jared's not ready for the sight that greets him in the audition waiting room that morning.

There's just one other guy in the room, and he's drop-dead gorgeous. When he raises the clearest green eyes Jared's ever seen and flashes a million-watt smile that could light up the entire building Jared's suddenly sweating for an entirely different reason than stage fright.

"Hey," Jared nods to the guy. He doesn't sit down yet because –– well, at least partly because the only other seat in the room is right next to Mr. Gorgeous, and Jared has this overwhelming fear of accidentally touching this perfect specimen of humanity because that would be weird.

But mostly it's because he can't sit still right now. It's down to two guys for this part, and it'll be either Jared or this dude, and no way can Jared sit still at a time like this.

At least that's what Jared tells himself.

"Hey, I'm Jensen," the guy puts his hand out and oh shit.

Jared stares blankly for way too long before wiping his sweating palm on his jeans and shaking Jensen's hand. Jensen's grip is firm and warm, like he's not nervous at all, the bastard.

"Yeah, I know," Jared confesses. "I looked you up. I like your work in Dark Angel."

"Same here," Jensen says. "I can't say I've watched Gilmore Girls, but thank you."

"So – you're reading for Sam?" Jared can't help asking, because this guy is a serious actor. He's got more credits than Jared on more shows, and if the studio execs are down to one or the other at this point, Jared's not sure he's getting the part.

"Nah," Jensen shakes his head. "I mean, I was. Then they told me they had this guy named Jared Pada-something that they were thinking about for Sam, so I think I'm here to read for Dean."

"For Dean? Really?" Jared's feeling like an idiot, like a thirteen-year-old girl with her first crush, and he can hardly concentrate on Jensen's words because he can't take his eyes off Jensen's luscious mouth.

This is insane.

"Yeah," Jensen shrugs. "I guess they want to see if we can work together. You know. They want to see if we have chemistry."

Jensen winks, and now Jared's sure Jensen's feeling the same thing. Jared's mouth drops open and he stares, which he doesn't even realize he's doing until Jensen says something.

"Hey, do you mind sitting down?" Jensen asks. "You're giving me a complex."

"Oh, sorry," Jared stammers, planting himself in the chair next to Jensen so fast he almost knocks it over. He can feel Jensen's heat, which means Jensen can feel his, and Jared's sweating profusely now, so Jensen can probably smell him, too.

Fuck. What is wrong with him? He's not even attracted to guys. At least, he's never felt attracted to them before, and he's been around a lot of good-looking guys. It's sort of par for the course in this business.

But it's not just attraction he feels. It hit him when he first laid eyes on Jensen, when Jared first walked in the door and saw Jensen sitting there. Jared feels like he knows Jensen. Not like he's seen him before, or watched him on TV. It's like Jared really knows him, like they've been together.

It's a feeling a little like déjà vu, but way more intense.

"So if they cast us together, we'll be brothers," Jared muses aloud, and Jensen looks up from the paper he's staring at – a page from the script for the Supernatural pilot, Jared realizes – and nods distractedly.

"Yeah, I guess," he shrugs, then throws Jared a smirking grin. "Kinda hard to imagine, isn't it?"

"It kinda is," Jared agrees, and now he's blushing because he feels sure Jensen's flirting with him.

"I've been playing guest stars and recurring roles for so long, I can't even think about that kind of job security," Jensen says. "Don't wanna jinx it."

"No, of course not." Jared feels himself deflate. It's the job Jensen's lusting after. Of course it is. What a fool Jared is for thinking it's anything else. This guy can have anybody, man or woman. All he has to do is look at them.

All he had to do was look at Jared, and Jared's gone for him like a damn teenage girl. Jeez.

Fortunately, Jared's saved from further embarrassment by the studio rep, who opens the door and sticks her head into the room, raising her eyebrows at them appreciatively.

"Gentlemen? They're ready for you."


The rest, as they say, is history. Within a week they're shooting the pilot, spending every moment together, hanging out off-set as much out of enjoyment in each other's company as convenience. It's just easier to be together. Jared likes himself more when he's with Jensen, and Jensen seems completely enamored of his new co-star. Neither of them expects the job to last, but within a month they've figured out they're the best friends either of them has ever had.

At first they don't talk directly about how attracted they are to each other, and Jared endures Jensen's flirtatious looks and comments as best he can. Some of the crew tease them about it, so Jared knows it's not just him. Directors tell them to use the energy, and they do, sometimes playing it up too much. The incest jokes get raunchier, and Jared gets so used to being sexually suggestive with Jensen it becomes second nature.

The first time Jensen tackles Jared to the ground in a carefully choreographed fight scene, Jared's so hard he almost asks for a moment alone. Jensen smirks at him because he can feel Jared's erection pressed against his belly, which pisses Jared off and makes the scene work better than it probably has any right to do.

Then one day, things change. They're filming the fourth episode when Jensen pulls Jared aside and lays one on him, plush lips so soft and warm against Jared's it takes his breath away.

"Wha – what was that for?" Jared stammers when Jensen releases him and takes a step back.

"Been wanting to do that since that first day," Jensen tells him. They're alone in a dark corner of the set while the crew resets the scene for another take, and Jared's head spins. He's already half-hard, as he is most of the time around Jensen, and he's gotten so used to the sexual tension it's like a second skin, crawling and tightening itself across his body, crackling in his blood.

"You have?" Jared says eloquently, disbelieving his own ears.

"Yeah," Jensen says. "Haven't you? I mean, I'm not reading it wrong, am I?"

The way Jensen hesitates, biting the inside of his lips and flinching a little, does things to Jared's heart that no amount of confession in mere words could do. That he wants Jared but fears rejection is heart-breakingly obvious, and Jared understands now. Jared's got a lot of friends, he's had girlfriends, he has an on-again-off-again relationship at the moment with a woman, and Jensen can be excused for assuming Jared's as straight as they come. There's never been another man in Jared's life, romantically.

Jensen, on the other hand, has a reputation for being fairly aloof. He's got some friends, and Jared even knows a couple of them. But to Jared's knowledge, Jensen Ackles has never been romantically involved with anyone, male or female. There's been a lot of speculation about that, and most of the cast and crew assume Jensen's gay, although he's never come out to anyone Jared's ever heard of.

Up until this moment, Jared's reserved his own judgment on that question. He tells himself it's because he doesn't care; he'd crush on Jensen regardless of whether Jensen could ever return those feelings.

But secretly he couldn't help hoping.

"No," he says now, eloquent as always. "I mean yes. Yes, I wanted to do that since I met you, too."

Jensen smiles, the easy, comfortable grin Jared's not sure how he lived without for twenty-three years because it's as necessary as oxygen, clearly.

"You think we should just keep this to ourselves?" Jensen suggests. "Keep the rest of the world guessing?"

"Probably, yeah," Jared nods. "I mean, technically it's against our contracts to get personally involved with each other, right?"

Jensen's eyes narrow, and for a moment it looks like he's going to express just what he thinks about contracts and rules. Jared can almost hear him say, "Fuck the contracts!" in his best Dean Winchester voice.

Then Jensen raises his eyebrows and the familiar smirk returns to his expressive face. "I guess it is," he nods. "I guess it is. So. We're professionals. We can do our jobs without letting our personal lives get in the way, right?"

"Right," Jared agrees. "Can I kiss you now?"

"Okay, since it's only fair," Jensen says. "But then we keep it in our pants the rest of the day, and from now on whenever we're at work, right?"

"God, you're such a tease," Jared complains as he steps into Jensen's personal space, takes Jensen's face in his hands and tips it up so he can reach Jensen's lips. They're slathered in lip gloss, and Jared sucks on each one until the taste of the gloss is gone before plundering Jensen's warm, wet mouth.


When they started shooting in Vancouver, Jensen suggested Jared move into his apartment for convenience's sake. They got along so well anyway, and it already felt completely natural to spend their off-work time together. After nearly two months, they know each other pretty well. They had a lot in common to begin with, so it's been an easy transition.

Besides, at first Jared was homesick. He'd never been away from Los Angeles for more than a few days at a time, and that was so he could fly home to San Antonio to hang out with his family and friends there. Most of Jared's show business friends were in Los Angeles, and he missed them. Working in Vancouver was isolating. Unlike Jensen, he hadn't worked on the genre shows that filmed in Canada, and he didn't have any friends here. Jared had always surrounded himself with friends, some of whom had been temporary lovers but remained friends afterwards because Jared worked so hard to keep it that way.

It occurs to him now that taking this step with Jensen might ruin their friendship. Jensen doesn't seem to be the type of person who has casual flings. Jared's never had a romantic relationship that lasted more than a few months. It might be a total disaster, this thing they just confessed they both want so badly.

But the sick thing is, Jared's shallow enough not to care, to throw caution to the winds. His heart beats fast as he starts the car. They've been sharing the driving because neither of them can stand the thought of being driven back and forth like movie stars, and Jared's hands sweat on the steering wheel so badly he's not sure he can keep the car on the road.

"Wait," was all Jensen said a few minutes ago when Jared tried to kiss him up against the side of the car, all eager, fumbling fingers and desperate panting mouth.

Jared almost whined with frustration as he danced back, his dick so painfully hard it's about all he can think about, but at least his Texas gentleman's upbringing is still operating. It's a good thing, too, because he's on auto-pilot right now, just going through the motions until Jensen finally lets him into his pants. He's been thinking about Jensen's naked body all day, ever since the kiss, and he's never been so turned on.

In the car, Jared keeps glancing over at Jensen's profile. Half of him can't believe this is finally happening. The other half is shocked that it's taken this long. He would've jumped Jensen's bones that first day in the audition room, if Jensen had allowed it. Getting this show, getting Jensen's friendship, and now to have this, too, feels almost overwhelming suddenly, and Jared takes in a shaky breath, grips the steering wheel till his knuckles turn white.

"Hey buddy," Jensen soothes, and at least Jensen doesn't try to touch him right now because Jared's seriously having trouble keeping the car on the road. "You okay?"

Jared tries to nod, swallowing thickly, fighting down the panic rising in his chest. "Yeah," he manages, but his voice is breathy, shaky, and he can feel Jensen's eyes on him, watching him.

"Hey, listen to me," Jensen goes on in that soothing voice. "Nothing's changed here, okay? It's still you and me, instant best friends for life. Ya got me? It's just us."

Jared nods a little too frantically. "I know," he says, hating his voice for sounding so high and squeaky. "I know. I just... I've never been with a guy." There, he said it. Now it's out there, at least.

As soon as he says it, he realizes that's not his biggest fear at all. His biggest fear is losing Jensen. He doesn't want to fuck this up.

"Neither have I," Jensen admits with a small shrug.

Jared glances at him, shocked. Was he serious? "Really? I mean, I thought you – Everybody thinks you're – "

"Gay?" Jensen provides helpfully. "Yeah, I know. It's the whole sensitive action man vibe I give off, I guess. Which is a stereotype, by the way. Just like the modeling thing. Not every male model is gay, not by a long shot."

"No, I know," Jared stammers. "It's just, I thought – You seemed – God, I'm such an idiot."

Jensen shrugs again, and Jared shoots him a look.

"You're supposed to say, 'No, you're not, Jared, you're the smartest man I know.'"

Jensen grins so broadly his crow's feet get crow's feet. Jared's reminded that Jensen's older than he is, that he's had more time to figure out what he wants.

The fact that Jensen wants him takes Jared's breath away. Again.

The fact that Jensen's taken over two months to tell Jared how he feels, letting their friendship grow and take root first, ensuring there's a solid foundation for their relationship before they take the next step, feels both awesome and humbling. Jared's impressed by Jensen's maturity and thoughtfulness as much as by his patience and forbearance. Jensen's been in charge all along, Jared doesn't have any illusions about that. Jensen's controlled the pace of their relationship from the beginning, and Jared feels sure he can trust Jensen, perhaps more than he's ever trusted anyone except his parents.

Nevertheless, Jared's all over Jensen as soon as they get out of the car, crowding up behind him as he leads the way to the door, desperate to get a taste of his skin, to feel smooth hard muscle under his hands.

Jensen shrugs him off until they're inside their apartment, then melts willingly into Jared's arms, lifting his face to be kissed as his hands tug Jared's jacket off. They stumble across the living room towards Jensen's bedroom, dropping pieces of clothing as they go, keeping their mouths together as much as possible as they pull off shirts and get their hands on each other's bare skin.

When they tumble naked onto Jensen's bed it's over almost before it's begun. Jared rubs himself all over Jensen, slipping his hands down Jensen's broad back to grasp the perfect globes of his ass, wedging their dicks between them as he ruts desperately into the groove of Jensen's hip. Jensen curls one leg around Jared's waist and ruts back, fingers tangled in Jared's hair, face buried in Jared's neck. They come like that, almost simultaneously, shivering through the after-shocks of their long-repressed need for each other, and Jared's so grateful to take the edge off he almost cries.

Jensen falls asleep immediately, and Jared lies watching him, afraid to move for fear Jensen will wake up and leave. His arm starts to ache where it's wedged under Jensen's body, and Jared waits as long as he can stand it before he starts to slide it free. He goes slow and careful, but Jensen wakes up anyway, blinking at him from less than a foot away, his green eyes slightly myopic and sleepy.

Then Jensen seems to remember, and he smiles shyly at Jared as he rolls away, graceful as a cat.

"Ugh," he mumbles as he stares down at his belly. "What a mess, huh?"

"Big boys shoot big loads," Jared quips, feeling awkward because this is so new.

"Guess we'll just have to get used to that, won't we?" Jensen shrugs, rolling off the bed and onto his feet. Jared watches him as he heads to the bathroom, admiring the curved dip of his lower back, his muscled thighs, his perfect ass and his bow-legged gait. Jared can watch this forever, he thinks. It's his now.

Jared doesn't know what he's done to get so lucky.

Sometime that night, after more sex and showers and more sex, Jared falls asleep and dreams. When he wakes up the next morning he has that powerful sense of déjà vu again, like he did that first day in the studio executives' office in Burbank.

"Are you sure we've never met before?" he asks Jensen over breakfast. "You know, like hooked up at summer camp when we were kids or something?" In his dream, he was lying on a grassy bank beside a river or a lake, and he could've sworn Jensen was there with him.

Jensen shakes his head as he chews his toast. "I'd definitely remember you," he says. "You were hot even when you were a kid."

"How would you know?" Jared grins despite himself.

"Like I said when I met you, I looked you up," Jensen says. "All night."

"Oh my God." Jared rolls his eyes, then reaches across the table to wipe the crumbs off the corner of Jensen's mouth with his thumb.

"What?" Jensen looks indignant. "You didn't? Tell me you haven't been jacking off to pictures of me these past few months. I dare you."

"Oh my God, I am so carrying you back to bed right now," Jared growls, giving Jensen his best smolder from under his bangs.

"You can try," Jensen counters, smirking back at him, "but if you do we'll be late for work and everybody will know what we were doing last night."

"They're gonna know anyway," Jared says darkly, "when they see that mark I left on the back of your neck while I was rubbing my dick on your ass."

Jensen turns a brilliant shade of red and squirms in his seat, but he valiantly holds Jared's gaze, licking his tongue slowly along his bottom lip until Jared breaks the gaze first, huffing out a turned-on laugh as he shakes his head.

"One of these days, maybe we can find a hole or two for that dick of yours," Jensen hints, and Jared practically chokes on his orange juice.


They somehow manage to get to work on time that day, and every day afterwards, flirting shamelessly with each other under their breath, where the crew can't quite hear them. They make each other shake with laughter one minute, all hot and bothered the next, and it becomes a game some days just to see who will break first.

They keep their mutual promise to separate their personal and professional lives, and most of the time it works. They do their jobs on set, sometimes for fourteen hours straight without much in the way of breaks, and they even manage to maintain their work demeanor during those breaks, which Jared takes great pride in since it's particularly difficult given the proximity of their trailers and their tendency to share their breaks in one or the other of those trailers, usually Jensen's since Jared's is full of dogs.

Nevertheless, the crew figures it out. Maybe it's because the make-up girl keeps having to cover up the hickeys on Jensen's neck, even after nights when it's obvious Jensen didn't go anywhere but home after a long day. Maybe it's just because everybody was expecting it from the first moment they saw the boys together. Their fans clearly see them as a couple, if the fan fiction Kim Manners passes on to them to read is any indication.

"This stuff is pretty good," Jared comments as they're lying in bed one night, Jared reading Wincest and J-squared fics while Jensen pretends to read a Tom Clancy novel.

"It's just fantasy," Jensen scoffs. "They don't really know."

"Maybe not, but you've got to admit, these writers are pretty observant," Jared says.

"They see what they want to see," Jensen reminds him. "They don't see the real us. Nobody does."

Jared bites his lip and reads silently for another moment, then mutters, "Sometimes I wonder if we see the real us."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Jensen closes his book, which he probably wasn't reading anyway since he's been on the same page for the past five minutes.

Jared shrugs, closing his laptop and setting it aside. "That dream I had last week, when we were filming 'Faith,'" he says. "You remember. I told you about it."

"You woke up sobbing because you thought your brother was dead," Jensen nods. "Kinda hard not to notice, since you woke me up."

"It was so real," Jared shakes his head. "You know? The grief, the sense of loss, the details. I remembered his funeral! And my mom and dad, everybody so upset..."

"And then you called him the next morning and he was fine," Jensen nods. "It was just a dream, like I told you. Just the stress of the job. Just you internalizing the script, transposing real-life relationships over fictional ones. Getting overly invested in your character, Jare, that's all it was."

"Yeah, I know," Jared nods. "And you said it happens to you all the time."

Jensen hesitates, frowning a little. "Yeah," he admits finally. "It does, actually. That's why I know."

"That's why you call me Sam in your sleep sometimes," Jared teases, and Jensen glares.

"I do not," he protests, and Jared full-out grins.

"Oh, you so do," he says.

"I have a perfect grasp of the separation between fact and fantasy," Jensen insists. "You know I do."

"Maybe while we're working," Jared agrees. "But tell me you don't have weird dreams sometimes, Jen. Tell me your subconscious doesn't mix me up with somebody else in your mind once in a while."

Jensen's mouth drops open, like he's about to protest, then he seems to consider Jared's words more carefully. Jared reads confusion in Jensen's face as he looks away, like he's had a thought that bothers him and he's not quite ready to admit it.

"Hey, I'm not Sam. I know that," Jared scoots closer on the bed, reaches up and cups Jensen's cheek, turning him back to face Jared again. "I know you don't think I'm Sam, either. I was just joking, okay? You've got a better grasp on reality than anybody I know. I was just joking."

But he wasn't, and even as he kisses Jensen he can sense that Jensen's thinking. He's spooked.

"This show is weird, man," Jared offers as he pulls away again. "It gets to me too, sometimes. I'd only ever admit that to you, but it does."

"You get to me sometimes," Jensen answers as he reaches for Jared, letting his book slide to the floor.

Jensen takes control of their lovemaking that night and Jared lets him, lets Jensen give it to him in that tender, intense way he makes love sometimes when he's in this mood. He pushes Jared down on the bed and kisses him like he might never get a chance to do it again, like it's his last night on Earth. He holds Jared's wrists over his head and gazes down at him with a film of tears over his beautiful green eyes, and Jared closes his own eyes just to shut out the sight because it's too much. It's overwhelming to be loved this much. It's the way Dean loves Sam.


Sometimes it scares Jared, being loved the way Jensen loves him. He's only twenty-three, with his whole life still ahead of him, and although Jensen's never mentioned marriage or exclusive monogamy forever or anything of the sort, Jared's pretty certain this is it. It's weird to think that he knew that the moment he laid eyes on Jensen, but it's the truth.

Jared's friends can't believe it, either. They keep begging him to fly down to L.A. for a weekend, and once or twice he does, but he always brings Jensen. They're careful to keep up their "friendship" persona, and it confuses Jared's friends because it's obvious to them that Jensen is more than just a regular friend.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say what you and Jensen have going is an extra-special friendship," Chad comments after he pulls Jared aside, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"You're an idiot," Jared laughs, taking another sip of his beer. He watches Jensen from across the bar as Jensen gets an earful from a couple of Jared's female friends, who are thrilled to get a shot at the elusive genre actor.

Jensen raises his eyes, like he can feel Jared watching him, and for a moment the room falls away and it's just the two of them, the way it's supposed to be. The way it usually is now.

Jared's suddenly so homesick for their little apartment in Vancouver it practically makes him gasp.

Back in Vancouver, Jared's on-again-off-again girlfriend Sandy won't take the hint when Jared tells her it's not a good time to visit. She bursts in like a firecracker and demands that Jared take her out, give her attention, fuck her senseless the way he used to do. She doesn't understand why he spends all his spare time with Jensen, why he lives with Jensen, why he never calls her or texts her anymore.

"I'm in a relationship," Jared tells her. "It's just us now."

"So who is she?" Sandy asks, all round-eyed amazement and barely-concealed jealousy. "When do I get to meet this amazing woman who managed to make an honest man out of you?"

"You don't," Jared shakes his head. "Our relationship's a secret, and it needs to stay that way. It's part of my contract."

"Oh," Sandy lifts her eyebrows, then frowns as she catches a glimpse of something to the left of Jared's shoulder, something behind him across the lot. "Oh my God, is that Jeffrey Dean Morgan?"

Jared turns. A few feet away, just out of earshot, Jensen is talking to their guest star, his face animated and open, and Jared experiences a shock of jealousy as the older man bends down to whisper something in Jensen's ear that makes him laugh out loud. Morgan looks up and locks gazes with Jared, and it seems as though there's a look of triumph in his eyes.

Rage makes Jared's blood pound in his ears, makes him clench his fists, makes his nostrils flare. Yet even as he glares at Jeff Morgan, who's turned away by now to say something else to Jensen, Jared knows he's overreacting. Jared's just finished reading the script for the season finale, and it's got some intense scenes that border on non-con and hint at incest, and Jared can't help the way his body reacts, even though his mind knows better.

Morgan isn't really trying to take Jensen away from him, it just feels that way.

Jensen would never cheat on Jared; he loves Jared too much. The jealousy Jared's feeling – hell, the rage he feels when he watches Morgan and Jensen together – it's just a bi-product of the story arc of the last two or three episodes, which they're filming right now. They've been deep into some very physical scenes fraught with a lot of tension and angst, and Jared's just experiencing the residual energy from that.

Normal character bleed, he tells himself. Sam's jealous of Dean's love for his father. He doesn't feel John deserves that kind of devotion. Plus, Sam's just sick enough to want Dean's love all for himself, Jared's brain adds helpfully.

It's completely irrational, and Jared knows he's being a big baby, but he can't help pouting when Jensen suggests they all go out together after filming that night. Sandy's staying over, seems a little put-out that Jared didn't offer to put her up, but she cheerfully invites herself along, clearly figuring that getting Jared drunk is her best shot at getting him into bed again.

Needless to say, Jared has just about the worst night of his life, and when Jared and Jensen get home later that evening, they have their first fight.

"What's wrong with you?" Jensen asks when Jared slams the door, then grabs a beer from the fridge and pops the top. He stands in the middle of their small kitchen, fuming, and he can't seem to calm down. He keeps replaying Jensen's rapt expression as he watched Morgan talk and it makes him want to break something.

"What's wrong with me?" Jared huffs. "What's wrong with you? All you did all night was flirt with Morgan. Sandy and I might as well not even be there, the way you kept batting your eyelashes and laughing at every stupid thing he said."

"What?" Jensen's eyebrows go up and his eyes widen comically. "What are you talking about? He's Jeffrey Dean Morgan, man! Of course I love to talk to him. I love to hear him talk! What's wrong with that?"

"You barely took your eyes off him all evening," Jared mopes. "It's like we weren't even in the room."

Jensen shrugs expansively, arms flung wide, as if he's never heard anything so crazy.

"You had your friend here," he reminds Jared. "Sandy flew all the way up here from L.A. to spend time with you. She sure didn't come up to see me, that's for sure. I figured you two had a lot of catching up to do. By the way, you totally should've offered her our guest room. It's not like we're using it or anything..."

"She doesn't know about us!" Jared explodes. "I didn't tell her!"

Jensen seems taken aback. He deflates a little, suddenly looking small and vulnerable. "Why not, Jared? Huh? Are we – you're not ashamed of us or anything, are you?"

"What? No!" Jared is shocked. "Oh my God, how could you think that?"

Jensen looks away, opens his mouth and closes it again, and suddenly Jared's forgotten why he was so angry. Suddenly all he wants to do is gather Jensen into his arms and promise to love him until the day he dies.

"Look," Jared takes a step forward, sets his beer on the granite-top island counter. "Sandy's a blabber-mouth. She loves to gossip. If I told her about us, it'd be all over Hollywood by tomorrow night. I just didn't want that to happen, that's all."

Jensen glances up from under his eyelashes, and Jared's heart races.

"She still thinks you're available," Jensen says, and Jared shakes his head quickly.

"No! No, she doesn't, Jensen, I swear," he rushes to dispel any jealousy Jensen must be feeling right now because Jensen knows about Sandy, knows she and Jared used to sleep together, and Jared never intended to make Jensen feel threatened in that way. "I told her I was in a steady relationship. I just didn't say who with."

Jensen's jaw clenches and his eyes narrow as he considers this, then he nods and lowers his eyes again. "You said we were steady?" he says, keeping his eyes lowered.

"Yeah." Jared throws his arms up in a copy of the gesture Jensen made earlier. "Well, maybe I didn't use the word 'steady,' but she got the message, I'm sure she did. You don't need to worry about her, Jensen. I would never do anything to hurt you, and you're the only person I want to be with now."

"Now," Jensen repeats, still not looking at Jared. "I'm the only person you want to be with, for now."

"That's not what I said," Jared shakes his head. "God, how can you be so insecure?"

He knows he's blundered as soon as he says it. He can see Jensen's jaw tighten again, the way he nods like he's heard it before, like he expects it.

"You're beautiful and funny and so, so talented, Jensen. You can have anyone you want. Anyone! Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be lucky to have you, so lucky. I'm so lucky I can hardly believe it. I pinch myself every goddamn day because this doesn't seem real. None of it feels real! I don't deserve this! What did I ever do to deserve this? To deserve you? I feel like I must be in some kind of dream and I'll wake up tomorrow morning and it'll all be over. It's all so perfect. You, this job, this life? How come I get it all, huh? How can I possibly have everything I ever wanted?"

Jared knows he's babbling now, but he can't seem to stop himself. He's so worked up, he's almost hysterical. He has to make Jensen see how much he means to Jared, but at the same time he needs Jensen to understand.

"Jared, slow down," Jensen puts a hand on Jared's arm, moves into his personal space, and it's like a balm on Jared's soul. Jensen's physical presence calms Jared, settles him, and Jared stops mid-sentence and swallows. "Hey buddy, it's okay. It's me, remember?"

Jared nods gratefully. He opens his mouth but Jensen puts his fingers over Jared's lips, shushing him.

"I think we've both been working too hard," Jensen suggests sagely. "I think you're putting way too much pressure on yourself, Jare. And I think, when we get done filming this week, I think it would be good for you to go back to L.A. for a while. Just hang out with your buddies, have fun, be a kid again."

Jared blinks and sucks in a breath as he gets Jensen's meaning. "Alone?" he gapes, shocked. "Without you? How can you even suggest that? How can you think that I would go anywhere without you? What are you saying, Jen? Are you saying we should break up? Is that what you're saying?"

"Shhh," Jensen shakes his head, grips Jared's biceps almost painfully as he gazes up at him, more serious and intent than he ever is off-camera. "That's not what I'm saying, okay? That's not what I'm saying."

Jared takes a deep breath, tries to settle his pounding heart so he can focus. He wonders vaguely how the hell they got to this point from his earlier jealousy over Jensen's flirtation with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and he feels like an idiot. He feels like a fool. He feels like he's totally missing something and he can't quite figure out what it is.

"I love you, Jensen," Jared blurts before he can think. "I can't – I don't want to live without you."

It's so true it scares him, and for a moment Jared understands why Jensen suggested they separate, even if it's only temporary. The bond between them is deep and intense and fucking old, for God's sake, like something created outside time and space. It's a little overwhelming for a twenty-three-year-old kid who's used to fucking around and partying when he's not working his ass off to follow his dream.

And just as suddenly as that thought came to him, Jared decides he must be drunk. No sane person would ever come to this conclusion, or would ever have these thoughts in the first place. Jared huffs out an embarrassed laugh and hangs his head like the fool that he is. Maybe Jensen's right. Maybe Jared's cracking up. Maybe he really needs this break.

"We don't even know if we'll be renewed yet," Jensen reminds him, as if Jared didn't just say what he did and then had a little mini-freak-out about it. "For all we know, it'll be back to auditions and guest-starring roles for us both."

Suddenly the whole thing flashes in front of Jared's eyes, and he realizes Jensen's right. This could all be over soon. No more show, no more sharing this close, intense life with Jensen. Nine months of his life just over and in the past. Jared goes back to L.A. and he and Jensen go back to competing for the same jobs. Jensen's not breaking up with him; he's just reminding Jared of the reality of their lives, how the natural course of things will take them in different directions, just as it did before that fateful day in that office, almost a year ago now.

Jared tells himself he can handle this. He's a big boy, not a kid anymore. He knew this was how it was going to be, even though he hadn't thought it through because he was so wrapped up in this life, in Jensen. But of course the life of an actor is never stable. The future is never sure, and Jensen's absolutely right to remind him of that fact. Even if Jensen stays with him, even if they manage to keep their relationship going after all this is over, their work lives will separate them. Maybe one of them will end up back here, as a regular on some other show. The other one can't afford to tag along, to be away from the center of things in Los Angeles. One missed call, one overlooked text, and it's all over. That's the way this business is.

That night, they make love with an intensity that Jared can't help expressing. He's a sentimental fool who's just confessed his undying love to the one person he cares most for in this entire world, and it makes him incredibly emotional. Jensen kisses away his tears, takes him firmly in hand and goes down on him like his life depended on it, and Jared can't help feeling that it does. Sex with Jensen is an extension of something deeper; it's almost mystical sometimes, and Jared's just emotional enough tonight not to care how corny that sounds. Jensen's warm, wet mouth on his dick is heaven, Goddamn it. It is.

At the end of the week, when filming ends, the cast and crew of Supernatural say their goodbyes. The wrap party is a blast, with everyone reminding each other what a good time they had making the show, even if it was short-lived. Jensen's planning to stay in Vancouver for a while, to hang out with his old buddies from Smallville, which hasn't wrapped yet for the year. He drives Jared to the airport and hugs him tight on the curb.

"Take care of yourself," Jensen demands gruffly, and Jared fights back tears because they're in a public place and people are watching.

"You, too," he manages, keeping his eyes on the concrete beneath their feet, unable to look at Jensen.

Jensen has to give Jared a little push to get him to go, and Jared does it, even managing to look back and give a little wave because he knows Jensen's still standing there, watching Jared walk away, and he deserves at least that much.

Jared makes it to the plane, gets onboard, stows his carry-on and accepts a drink from the flight attendant before the tears start to flow. He cries almost the entire way to Los Angeles, accepting tissue after tissue from the worried flight attendant until she finally brings him the whole box. He texts "Miss you" and "Love you" to Jensen over and over, not even caring how pathetic he's being. When he gets off the plane he leaves Jensen a long, rambling voicemail about how miserable this is, how stupid this is, how he'll never make it a week without Jensen and why did he ever promise to try?


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