Title: Slow Road to Somewhere Good
Genre: J2 AU Romance
Pairing: J2, past Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Jensen Ackles, past OCs/Jared Padalecki
Word Count: 4809
Warnings/Tags: past abusive relationship, friends to future lovers, cuddling without sex
Summary: Fifteen years ago, Jared was the younger brother of Jensen’s best friend. Now, Jensen’s a popular online magazine editor, actor, and director, and Jared is a freelance photographer. When they meet at the launch party for Jensen’s latest project, Jensen’s instantly attracted to the gorgeous man who used to be the boy next door. Can Jensen overcome his past mistakes to take a chance on love with the man who was once like a little brother to him?
A/N: Many thanks to tx_devilorangel for the beautiful art that inspired this story, to jdl71 for her fabulous beta help, and to the mods of this year’s j2_reversebang for making it all possible. You are all my idols!
ART LINK: LJ | AO3
FIC LINK: READ ON AO3 or on LJ under the cut:
The man hasn’t stopped staring since Jensen entered the room.
Jensen figures they’ve either met somewhere before (Jensen just doesn’t remember — and he’s pretty damned sure he would remember a man this gorgeous, so that’s not possible), or the guy has a pretty serious case of crush-at-first-sight. It’s also possible that Jensen looks like somebody else.
“Oh my God, he’s gorgeous, Jen,” Danneel gushes when she catches sight of the tall, dark-haired man at the bar. “You have to go talk to him.”
“He keeps staring at me,” Jensen protests.
“He probably thinks he knows you from somewhere,” Danneel shrugs. “Which is a perfect pick-up line, by the way. Any version of ‘Have we met somewhere before?’ works. Coming from you, anyway.”
Jensen feels his cheeks grow hot as he lowers his eyes to his drink. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember if I’d ever seen him before.”
“Oh my God, Jen, you’re already crushing on him!” Danneel gasps. She gives him a little push, but he holds his ground. “Go go go! You’re obviously made for each other!”
He’s still looking down at his drink, brushing Danneel off, so he practically jumps out of his skin when a soft, low voice says, “Hey.”
Gorgeous Guy is standing right there. No, standing would be too normal for him. This guy is </i>looming.</i>. He’s so tall up close that Jensen has to crane his neck to look up at him so their eyes can meet, and Jensen’s never had to do that with another man. He’s not short, damn it.
“Hey,” he manages, momentarily lost in Gorgeous Guy’s slanted, multi-colored eyes. They’re blue and green and a little bit gold, and they’re framed by the prettiest eyelashes...
“Uh, I’m gonna go talk to Genevieve.” Danneel turns away, startling Jensen so that he blinks and spills his drink.
Gorgeous Guy jumps too, tears his eyes away.
“Oh jeez, I’m sorry,” he says. “Can I get you another one?”
“Huh? No, that’s okay.” Jensen’s brain isn’t firing on all four cylinders. He wipes his wet hand on his jeans, transfers his almost-empty drink to his dry hand.
“Here, you can have mine,” Gorgeous Guy offers. “I haven’t touched it. I mean, I’ve touched it, but I haven’t drunk any of it. I just got here, so it’s my first drink. Fresh off the bar, I promise.”
Gorgeous Guy is nervous, Jensen realizes. He’s shifting his feet, looking down so that Jensen takes in his broad forehead and high cheekbones as well as his cheap suit and white dress-shirt, no tie. Gorgeous Guy dressed up for this event. The suit doesn’t quite fit him, and he’s sweating, his neck and the hollow of his throat glistening delectably.
“Do I know you?” Jensen asks, and Gorgeous Guy stops moving, looks up to meet Jensen’s eyes again.
“Yeah,” he says. “Yeah, you do.” He clears his throat. “It’s Jared. Jared Padalecki. From San Antonio.”
Jensen blinks, confused for a moment, then his eyes widen as it hits him. “Jeff’s little brother? No way!”
Jared blushes adorably, shifting nervously and looking down at his feet again. He’s got dimples and his teeth aren’t perfect but that toothy smile is definitely part of his charm.
“Yeah.” Jared takes a deep breath, sneaks a look up to catch Jensen’s reaction, like he’s afraid Jensen will be unhappy to see him, now that he knows who he is.
“Wow. You grew.” Smooth, Ackles. Real smooth. He rubs the back of his neck, chuckles nervously. “I wouldn’t have recognized you. Didn’t. Didn’t recognize you.”
“Yeah,” Jared grins. “It’s been a few years.”
“It has, hasn’t it?” Shut up, Ackles! What’s wrong with you? “So how’s Jeff doing? Did he go to medical school like he said he would? He always had a plan.”
“Yeah. He – he’s a surgeon now. In Houston. Wife, two kids. Living the dream.”
“Great,” Jensen nods. “No less than I would’ve expected. Sports medicine, I bet.”
“Yeah.” Jared looks down again, a little frown creasing his massive forehead. “Orthopedics.”
“Jeff was the most motivated guy I ever met,” Jensen goes on, remembering the tall, athletic high school student who succeeded at everything he put his mind to. “I never doubted he’d do exactly what he wanted in life. Good to hear he didn’t disappoint.”
“I really admired him,” Jensen reminisces.
“Everybody did,” Jared says. “Everybody still does.”
Jensen detects a slight bitterness in Jared’s tone, gives him a sharp look. “How about you?” he asks. “What are you up to these days?”
Jared blushes again, and Jensen thinks he could get used to that dimpled grin and the way Jared ducks his head, letting his long hair swing down across his chiseled cheekbone.
“Oh, a little bit of this, a little bit of that,” Jared says, waving a hand with unusually long fingers, making Jensen’s heart pound. “Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of freelance photography. That’s why I’m here, actually. Hoping to score a little work on your project.”
“Oh.” Jensen blinks. He has trouble focusing on Jared’s words, but it suddenly occurs to him that Jared’s not flirting with him after all. This is business. “Oh. Yeah, sure. Sure thing. But it’s not really my project.”
Jared frowns. “But I thought you were the editor.”
“I am,” Jensen nods. “But Danneel’s the publisher. We’ve got a crack writing team. And the crew are really something. You should meet them.”
“I’d like to,” Jared nods, obviously eager. Hopeful. It occurs to Jensen that Jared came to this event for precisely that reason, and Jensen suddenly feels like a fool. There’s no way this gorgeous full-grown puppy-man could be interested in Jensen in any other way than as a possible job contact.
“Great. I’ll introduce you.” Jensen tries to keep the disappointment out of his voice, but Jared seems to pick up on it anyway.
“You’re the one I wanted to talk to, actually,” Jared says.
Jensen looks up, and for a moment the room falls away and it’s just the two of them. Jared holds his gaze, smoldering intent in his darkening eyes, and Jensen tries not to melt into a puddle at his feet
“Hey, how are you two doing? Need more drinks?”
It’s Danneel, interrupting out of her innate curiosity and match-making skills, breaking the mood with a flip of her perfectly straightened red hair.
“Hey Jensen,” she goes on, sidling up against him, smirking at Jared. “You wanna introduce me to your friend?”
“Jared,” Jared sticks his hand out. “It’s Jared Padalecki. From Madison High.”
Danneel’s eyebrows go up as she puts it together. “Beanpole?”
Jared blushes at the nickname, and Jensen has a flashback of a tall, skinny dark-haired boy who followed him around like a puppy during senior year.
“Yeah,” Jared nods bashfully.
“Wow,” Danneel says, looking him up and down with obvious admiration. “You got big. All over. Wow.”
“We’ve all changed since high school, Dee,” Jensen says.
“Except you,” Danneel insists, elbowing Jensen in the ribs. “You just went from pretty boy to ruggedly handsome stud.”
Now it’s Jensen’s turn to blush. Normally, he’d tease Danneel right back, give her some equally undermining compliment, designed to take the wind out of her sails.
But in front of Jared, Jensen’s just a little bit tongue-tied.
“So, what have you been up to since high school, Beanpole?” Danneel goes on, ignoring Jensen’s discomfort.
“I– I take pictures,” Jared stammers. “I’m a photographer.”
“Oh! That’s so cool! We could use a good still photographer,” Danneel says. “We start shooting the promo for the magazine on Monday. You should come down. Bring your portfolio, if you want. I’m sure we can find some work for you. Right, Jensen?”
Jensen’s flustered. Danneel isn’t usually so easy to win over. Usually, the most somebody new could expect would be a brush-off, something stock like “send me your stuff and we’ll see what we can do.”
She’s doing this for him, he realizes. She can see how much he likes Jared.
“I mean, we’re all old friends, right?” Danneel goes on when all Jared and Jensen seem to be able to do is shoot shy, embarrassed glances at each other over her head. “Our company is like a family. You’ll see, Jared. We take care of our own. You’ll like it, I promise.”
She pauses, gets that mischievous twinkle in her eye that Jensen knows too well.
“In fact, why don’t you two take a walk? Talk about it? The moon’s full. It’s a beautiful night for a stroll.”
And just like that, Jensen’s best friend sets him up.
Jensen has to agree, it’s a beautiful night. From the bar it’s only a short walk to the waterfront park. After their initial embarrassment, Jared and Jensen fall into easy conversation, reminiscing about their days in San Antonio as they walk along the shore.
“I remember the day you guys moved in,” Jensen says. “I sat at my bedroom window and watched your dad pull your bikes out of the moving van so you could start exploring the neighborhood. You remember that?”
Jared shakes his head. “I can’t remember a thing before that house,” he admits. “I definitely don’t remember the day we moved into it.”
“Well, you were only four, I guess,” Jensen says. “For me, it was kind of a big deal. The last neighbors were an old couple, so it was really exciting when your family moved in.”
Jensen remembers watching two dark-haired boys as they rode their bikes up and down the block, in and out of their new driveway. Jared was a little tyke, pumping the pedals of his plastic tricycle with his short little legs, biting his lip in his determination to keep up with his big brother.
“You were an only child,” Jared notes.
“Yeah. Your family welcomed me in like I belonged,” Jensen reminisces. “Birthday parties, vacations, holiday dinners. Everything my parents did quietly and privately, your family did large and noisy. I thought I’d found Heaven.”
Jensen had never known anything like the rough and tumble Padalecki household that welcomed him with open arms. Jensen and Jeff became instant best friends, as only eight-year-olds can be, and spent the next five years doing everything together. They joined the local Little League team, coached by Jeff’s dad. They became Boy Scouts together, competing for who could tie the best knots, build the best campfires, carve the best arrowhead. They attended each other’s birthday parties, camped out in each other’s back yards, went along on each other’s family vacations.
All the while, little Jared tagged along, ignoring Jeff’s impatient eye-rolling when he couldn’t keep up, persevering even when he couldn’t do whatever the older boys were doing.
“You never gave up.” Jensen laughs at the memory. “Jeff would shake his head, try to convince you to go home, but you just hung in there.”
Jared huffs out a laugh. “Yeah, I was a stubborn little shit, all right.”
“Nah, you were great,” Jensen says. “I could never understand why Jeff didn’t want you to hang out with us more. You were so tough. Never cried once, not even when you fell out of the tree that time and broke your arm, remember?”
“Pretty hard to forget,” Jared scoffs. “Hurt like hell.”
Jensen smiles at the memory. “Yeah, but you were so fearless.”
“I was just lucky you were there,” Jared says. “Jeff didn’t want to stop playing to take me home, but you did. I might have a permanently crooked arm if it wasn’t for you.”
Jensen nods. “Your mom let me ride along to the hospital,” he recalls.
Somewhere along the line, Jensen had become as much of a big brother to Jared as Jeff was, often spending time just with Jared when Jeff was off doing something else. By the time the older boys started high school, Jensen and Jeff had drifted apart. Jeff was top of his class and a star athlete. Jensen was athletic but not a particularly good student. Often Jeff was out with his Honor Society friends when Jensen came over, so he hung out with Jared instead. By the time Jensen was a senior, he’d spent more time with Jared in the past four years than with his former best friend.
Jensen finds himself glancing sideways at Jared more than once, half-expecting to see the skinny kid who tucked up under his arm so easily, all those years ago.
Jensen had almost forgotten that kid. Jeff had been such a superstar at everything, left everyone in his shadow, even the boy who had been his best friend growing up next door. Jensen and Jared had gravitated together in Jeff’s wake, natural allies in Jeff’s supernova orbit.
“You really took me under your wing that first year in high school,” Jared says. “I never would’ve made it otherwise.”
“Oh, you were a good kid,” Jensen insists. “Everybody liked you.”
“They liked being close to </i>Jeff,</i>” Jared says. “If being my friend could get them into his circle, they’d pretend to like me, but that’s all it was.” He shrugs. “I didn’t mind. We were only in high school together for that one year.”
“I bet you did fine after we graduated,” Jensen says. He has a vague memory of Jared hovering around the edges of his driveway as Jensen packed his truck for the long drive to California. In the memory, the kid’s hands are shoved in the front pockets of his jeans, shoulders hunched, face in shadow on account of the long hair sweeping down over his forehead.
“I missed you,” Jared breathes. “A lot. But yeah. Eventually I found my way.”
They’ve reached the playground, deserted in the night, and Jensen has a sudden desire to swing.
“Hey, remember how, when you were little, you were afraid of the swings?” Jensen reminisces.
Jared smiles. “I remember. I hated the way the swing could just take off without any warning. I hated that feeling of losing control.”
Jensen nods, slips onto one of the swings and pushes himself back as far as he can go. “I loved how swinging made me feel like I was flying.”
Jared takes his jacket off, lays it carefully across a swing. Then he turns and backs up into the swing next to Jensen, stretching his long legs out in front of him.
“You put me up on one and held onto me, so I could get used to it.”
“And you did,” Jensen says, recalling the moment of triumph with pride. “You overcame your fear.”
“Thanks to you.”
Jensen pushes off, lifts his legs, and swings. Jared tries to do the same but his legs are too long. He has trouble lifting off, and when he finally does his legs get stuck on the way down and his swing twists awkwardly.
“I can’t do it!” he complains. “How the hell do kids do this?”
Jensen grins and swings higher. “Just lean back and let your weight carry you. Lift your legs.”
Jared tries again, manages to swing with his legs stuck straight out in front of him. It’s hilarious, and Jensen laughs with sheer delight at how stupidly hot and sweet Jared looks.
“Now try jumping off!” Jensen instructs as he demonstrates, landing only a little off balance.
Jared lands awkwardly next to him, then promptly falls into Jensen, knocking them both to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs.
Jensen rolls over, laughing, just as Jared tries to push himself up, slips and sprawls across Jensen’s body, pinning him to the ground instead. Jared lifts his head and Jensen’s suddenly looking up into Jared’s grinning face, inches away. They freeze, breathing hard, and Jared’s eyes drop to Jensen’s mouth.
It’s what Jensen’s been hoping for all night, ever since he saw Jared across the room at the bar. Only now that he knows who Jared is, after all the memories of their childhood together have been dredged up and revisited, Jensen’s not so sure. It’s not just a random hook-up anymore. Jared was like a little brother to Jensen. He’d never betray that memory, not for a little harmless roll in the hay. Not to wipe away the memory of Jensen’s lost love.
“I’ve got someone.”
As soon as the words are out, Jared’s face shuts down. It’s like a cloud covering the sun, and Jensen wants to take the words back, wants to let Jared kiss him. He’s selfish enough to think he should have just let it happen, so that even after he tells Jared the truth, Jensen will at least always have had that kiss.
But he can’t. Jared’s the boy he never knew he could fall in love with some day, the one who lived next door, right under his nose. It means too much.
Jared’s pained expression almost breaks Jensen. He watches as Jared looks away, then sits back on his haunches so that Jensen can lean up on his elbows.
“I mean, I had someone,” Jensen hurries to explain. “It’s over, but I can’t. It’s too soon.”
Jared nods, still not looking at Jensen as he rises smoothly to his feet, takes a step away, and reaches for his jacket. “I should get back.”
“Wait.” Jensen scrambles to his feet, jogs to catch up as Jared walks quickly, back the way they came. “Wait, Jared. That’s not– I didn’t mean– “
“It’s okay,” Jared says. His voice cracks. “It’s okay, Jensen.”
“No, no it’s not. You’re not understanding me. I’m not making myself clear.”
Jared stops abruptly, turns and faces Jensen, and now Jensen can see that his eyes are glistening. He’s blinking furiously.
“It’s all right, Jensen,” he insists. “It’s really fine. I get it. You’re still emotionally involved with someone and you don’t cheat. I respect that.”
Jensen moves in, grabs Jared’s bicep with one hand as he tangles the fingers of his other hand in Jared’s hair, pulls his face down so Jensen can almost reach his mouth. So that Jared can’t mistake Jensen’s intention.
“I want to kiss you,” he whispers fiercely. “And I want to take you home and have sex with you. But I also like you, Jared. A lot. I don’t want to wreck that. Do you understand?”
Jared stares into Jensen’s eyes for a moment, confusion furrowing his brow. Then his gaze drops to Jensen’s mouth and he licks his lips.
“So there’s nobody else?”
Jensen stares into Jared’s eyes for another moment. He can’t lie, he realizes. He can’t lie to Jared.
“We broke up, but it’s only been a few weeks,” Jensen says, swallowing hard as he lets Jared go, keeping hold of his arm for another moment before he steps back. “After eight years. We were— It was like a marriage.”
Jared nods. “You miss him.”
“Sometimes,” Jensen admits. “But that’s not what I’m talking about. That’s not why I can’t kiss you.”
“You’re not ready to hook up with anyone else yet,” Jared suggests. “It’s still too raw.”
Jensen huffs out a breath, incredulous. “I don’t want to use you, Jared. I don’t want you to be my rebound.”
Jared frowns, thinking, and it’s the cutest thing ever.
“What if I said I don’t mind being your rebound,” he says, and that stops Jensen cold. It occurs to him that Jared might be playing his own game here, might be looking to score with his brother’s former best friend as a way to advance his career.
It’s too ugly to contemplate, Jared playing him that way. It’s the kind of thing Jensen’s ex was capable of, but he never would’ve imagined his former best friend’s little brother could be capable of something so devious. It makes him sick to his stomach.
“I’ve loved you all my life, Jensen,” Jared goes on, and it takes Jensen a minute to catch up, to get his mind out of the cesspool of suspicion left behind after spending eight years in Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s orbit. “I’ll wait, if I’ve really got a chance. I’ll keep waiting.”
Jensen blinks up at the man who used to be like a little brother to him, and he can’t think of anything to say. He can’t imagine walking away, now that Jared’s laid bare his soul, now that he’s confessed his crush. It’s more than Jensen deserves, a gift he hasn’t earned, and it makes his heart pound faster, makes his palms sweat.
He’s pretty sure he could fall in love with this man-child. He’s pretty sure it’s all he wants to do.
“Let’s just take it slow, okay?” he says finally.
Jared nods. “Yeah, okay. Sure. Hell, I’ve been in love with you all my life. I’ll wait. Take as long as you need.”
Jensen’s lips quirk. He raises an eyebrow. “All your life?”
“Well, since I was nine, anyway,” Jared grins bashfully, his dimples on full display. Then he gives a little frown. “Too soon?”
Jensen shakes his head, looking down at the ground to hide his smile. This kid is too adorable. “Nah. We’re good. Not like it’s news, anyway.”
“You could tell?” Jared’s appalled.
Jensen rolls his eyes. “Did anybody ever tell you that you wear your heart on your sleeve?”
“All the time,” Jared admits. “And I talk too much. I get that a lot, too. I don’t know how to stop, actually. I just keep saying things that should probably stay unsaid. It’s a problem.”
“Not for me,” Jensen admits, and he’s a little surprised at how true that is. He likes Jared’s talkativeness, likes his sociability and openness. In fact, Jensen’s pretty sure he could get used to it. He’s pretty sure he wants to.
Jensen holds Jared’s gaze another moment, then nods his head toward the city. “We should get back.”
“Danneel keeps playing matchmaker,” Jensen explains as they walk slowly back the way they came. “She thinks if I can just hook up with somebody randomly, it’ll wipe away the painful memories. Make me a new man.”
Jared sucks in a breath, nods. “She’s a good friend.”
“Do you remember her from high school?” Jensen asks. “Head cheerleader, star of the senior play, even though she was only a junior. Such a flirt.”
“She had a crush on you,” Jared says. “Still does, I’m guessing.” He pulls on his jacket, shoves his hands in the pockets of his slacks. He hunches as he walks, but when his arm brushes Jensen’s he doesn’t pull away.
“I know she’s just trying to help,” Jensen says. “I just don’t think random hookups are the way to go.”
“Right,” Jared says, voice soft. “Of course not.”
Suddenly, the thought of going back to the party seems particularly repulsive to Jensen. He doesn’t want this to end, this easy, comfortable revisiting of the past with an old friend. It’s been the best thing to happen to him since he and his ex split. In fact, it’s the first time he’s been so focused on another person that he hasn’t even thought about Jeffrey Dean.
That is, until Jared almost kissed him.
“Hey, wanna come back to my place?” The words are out before he realizes what he’s saying. He gives a soft chuckle.
Jared frowns, considering.
“I don’t really want to go back to the party,” Jensen continues, suddenly nervous. “My apartment’s just a block away. We could play xbox, or just watch a movie...”
“Sure,” Jared nods, gives him a shy smile that makes his dimples show. “Sounds great.”
“His name was Jeffrey,” Jensen explains when they’ve settled on the couch in his apartment. They’re sharing a bottle of whiskey, and Jensen’s feeling loose and relaxed. He huffs out a breath. “I never realized it until now, but when I met him, he reminded me of your brother. Even his name was the same.”
“You have a type,” Jared says, taking a tentative sip of his whiskey.
“Huh. Maybe,” Jensen shrugs. “Tall, super successful guys named Jeff. Who knew?”
“You didn’t crush on my brother, did you?” Jared looks concerned.
“No, no.” Jensen shakes his head, smiling a little. “No more than everybody did, anyway. I knew he was straight.”
Jared shakes his head. “Sometimes I don’t know how anyone ever survives high school.”
“I had you,” Jensen says, only now realizing how true that was. “And Danneel. You guys were all I needed.” He frowns. “What about you?”
“After you left, I was lost for a while,” Jared admits. “Then a couple of new kids adopted me. Chad and Tom are still my best friends. I lost my virginity to an older guy when I was a senior. Jason taught me everything I know about gay love.”
Jensen feels the hot tingle of jealousy on the back of his neck. “Jason, huh?”
“He looked a little like you,” Jared shrugs. “Even his name reminded me of yours. I was a lovesick fool back then. Still am.”
Jensen feels himself blushing, leans forward to grab the remote control. He makes a show of flipping through channels before settling on an old Bogart movie.
“I love old classic movies,” Jensen admits.
“Me too,” Jared says. “And sci-fi.”
“Nerd,” Jensen teases.
Jared grins and scoots down on the couch so that his shoulder brushes Jensen’s, his long legs splayed wide on the low seat, his knee against Jensen’s. They sit that way and watch the movie, letting a companionable silence wash over them. It’s comforting; Jensen can almost forget he’s basically on a first date and just lets himself feel like a kid again, hanging out at Jared’s house while Jeff’s out with his other friends.
Jensen can almost imagine that Jared’s an old friend he’s reconnected with out of the blue. They might be spending the evening getting to know each other all over again as adults. Jensen can almost believe that he and Jared are rekindling their old friendship, rather than starting a romance. With everything they have in common, including their shared past, they might be headed toward being the best of friends.
Jensen would like that. Jensen would like a relationship based on trust, instead of domination and control. He’s ready for a partnership based on caring for the other person as a friend and an equal, rather than the teacher-student dynamic he had with Jeff Morgan. That might have been okay when Jensen was twenty-five, but it’s not what he wants anymore. He’d like to think that’s because he’s grown up a little.
Maybe a close friendship with a younger man will help tip the scales, let him be the adult he’s ready to be, instead of the kid he was when he met Jeff Morgan ten years ago. Jeff’s twelve years of seniority, his stature and success as a filmmaker, not to mention his height advantage, had made Jensen feel small. Jeff’s condescension and patronage had kept things that way for years. Jeff liked having a pretty young man on his arm. He didn’t want an adult relationship. When Jensen began to have some success of his own, Jeff had ridiculed and humiliated him. It had been the hardest thing he’d ever done, leaving Jeff. But with Danneel’s help and support, he’d done it.
He starts awake to find Jared slumped against him, fast asleep and snoring softly. Jensen’s arm aches where it’s caught between Jared’s huge body and the back of the sofa. He carefully extricates it with the intention of waking Jared to tell him it’s time to go home, or to invite him to spend the night on the sofa if he wants.
Then Jensen changes his mind. Jared’s body is warm and solid against Jensen’s. His hair feels soft against Jensen’s chin and he’s got his hand tucked up under his cheek, over Jensen’s heart.
It’s as if, in sleep, Jared’s reverted to that trusting little boy Jensen used to love so much.
And just like that, Jensen realizes he’s always loved Jared. Maybe not romantically, maybe not the way Jared fell so hard for Jensen that he couldn’t stop thinking about him for fifteen years. But Jared’s always been in Jensen’s heart, reminding him of his own ability to love someone without expecting something in return. Reminding him that he could be kind and caring, and that he liked himself that way. Reminding him that life isn’t all about being a successful editor, or filmmaker, or following in someone else’s footsteps. Reminding him of home.
Jensen tips his face down, nuzzling the top of Jared’s head, and breathes deep.