Jensen wakes with his face pressed against the soft case of a very, very firm pillow. It takes at least half a minute and the slow, gentle circling of fingers on his back to make him realize that's a big broad chest his head is propped on, and the body wrapped up in the cotton is Jared's.
He rises to his elbows, looking up into his friend's face. Jared, or Jay, is watching him very intensely. Jensen smiles. "You watchin' me sleep?"
He doesn't get an answer except for the same quiet movements of Jared's fingers, until finally Jared gives him the barest hint of a nod. "Still can't believe this is really happening."
"Believe it," he says. Then he rubs a hand over his face, hating that he has to ask, "Jared or Jay?"
The response is a small chuckle. "Haven't even had my coffee yet. How'm I supposed to know?"
That terrifies Jensen, in all honesty. It's been rough enough this last week just trying to reconcile his attraction to Jared with what he thought he knew about himself. He doesn't understand how anyone can be that fluid about their gender and not have a panic attack every moment of the day. But Jared sounds cheerful, like he thrills in the chance to show off just how easy it is for him to slip, and Jensen is happy for him.
He ventures a guess. Jensen thinks it's Jay from her voice. Jay's words are soft and just the slightest bit muted. The inflections are all the same as Jared's, but the loud, boisterous quality Jensen has long associated with his friend isn't there. It's a different kind of comfort: not likely to jolt him out of a bad mood, but guaranteed to curl over him like a tender kiss, promising warmth and safety and acceptance. It's a different kind of love, but, greedy bastard that he is, Jensen needs them both.
"Is that my girl?" he asks, pulling her just a little tighter with the arm he has draped over her chest.
"Yours," she agrees easily. "All yours."
Jensen grins and pushes himself up to kiss her. What meets him is rough, stubbled skin, and Jensen pulls back on instinct. He woke up with a woman who grows stubble overnight, and maybe that shouldn't be surprising him, all things considered, but give him a break, he just woke up and he's new at this.
The shock must be showing on his face, because Jay reaches up to touch her cheek. "Regrets already?"
Her tone and her expression are light enough, but her eyes are miserable, and worse than that, she doesn't look the least bit surprised.
Jensen shakes his head, kissing her again, his fingers stroking her sandpaper-rough skin. "No, sweetheart. No. Just gotta give me a second to adjust."
She nods, lip sticking out like a pouty child, and he laughs at her, kissing deeper. She returns it, making mmm sounds until eventually she shoves him away. "Are you—Jensen, are you sure you want this? It's okay if you change your mind. I know…I know it might be different in practice than—"
"God, you talk a lot," he grumbles, trying to kiss her again.
She pushes him back. "I'm serious. You could have any woman you want. It doesn't make any sense that you would choose me."
"You are the woman I want," he tells her. "You're all the woman I can handle."
"Well," she says quietly, still not letting him near her. "What about…? Some days I won't be, Jensen. Some days I'll just be Jared. Big, goofy, unwanted Jared."
"Please always be Jared," Jensen tells her, sighing as he gives up his pursuit and sinks back into the mattress. "Jared is my best friend. I love Jared. I don't care if you're a girl or a boy or an alien, okay? I love every version of you. You're always wanted."
"You love me?" she asks.
Jensen smiles even though she can't see him. It should seem rushed, he should be hesitant. But this has been building for 13 years, and now that it's finally fallen into place, now that Jensen can see the whole and not just pieces, he can't find a shred of doubt. "I love you." He sits up on one side. "Now will you let me kiss you?"
She does for a while. They make-out without any intent behind it except exploring each other, and Jensen feels sated and cherished by the time they're done.
"Go make me coffee," she demands, shoving him lightly. "I need to shave."
He nods, because coffee sounds pretty fucking sweet right about now. When the brew finishes, he pours a cup for himself and one for Jay, lacing hers with cream and sugar and a drop of vanilla. It's not until he's bringing the mugs back upstairs that he realizes she may not take her coffee the way she did three years ago.
She's stark naked when he finds her, sitting on the edge of the tub with the water running. Jensen leans in the doorway, blatantly staring. There's nothing feminine about her now. Jared's body is a perfect example of masculine form, the kind of build a lot of men would kill for. It seems unkind to Jensen, for her sake, that God made her like that, but as he watches her smooth shaving cream over her legs, he can't find a single thing about her he'd change.
Being feminine must take her a lot more effort than Jensen had considered. It's not just shaving every day, but the attention to outfits and hair styles and nail polish, the voice and the walk that Jay adopts on the days she isn't Jared. That's gotta be exhausting, having to try so hard to be legible, when even Danneel and the super models he's dated had lazy days when they didn't want to shower or change out of pajamas. No one would have questioned their gender, but even with all the work she puts in, she has to fight to be recognized. She constantly has to doubt herself. The fact that she has to sweat for it makes her that much more beautiful to him.
She looks up and catches him admiring her. "Creeper," she says, grinning. She washes the foam off in the stream and makes grabby hands at the coffee Jensen's holding.
He smirks, stepping forward and passing her the cup, then sitting on the tub next to her. He watches her take a drink, maps the way her face relaxes and her eyes get just a bit brighter with the first sip. Maybe he got her order right after all.
"Perfect," she says, blowing before taking another, larger sip. "You are perfect."
Her face is smooth now, and Jensen looks down to see she's already shaved everything else, too. Everything except those goddamn amazing legs.
"You want help?" he asks, stripping the shirt he slept in off over his head and tossing it on the floor next to her nightdress.
"Don't have to do that," she says.
"It'll let you keep your hands free," he says, drawing it out teasingly. "More coffee."
"For coffee." She reaches over and picks her razor up, passing it to Jensen. It's orange and has a flower raised on the handle, and Jensen just shakes his head at it. "If you cut my legs, I will cut you. They're my best feature."
Jensen grins and takes off his boxers, stepping into the tub and kneeling in front of her. He works slowly, mostly because Jay really could kick his ass, so he doesn't want to fuck up. It's a pretty grand task, so much more skin than he's ever had to work with, and something about the intimacy of it, the fact that she trusts him enough to do this as she contentedly goes about drinking her morning Joe, makes him really, really horny.
Being around Jay is like being in high school again.
She sets the cup down on the floor when she finishes, careful only to move her upper body as she does it. Jensen is already working on her second leg by then, and his cock is hard, insistent and aching, making it hard to focus on what he's doing.
But he finishes. He makes it through, rinsing off the top of her thigh, the last place he gets to, and presses a kiss there for good measure. Then he turns his head and finds himself on eyelevel with a half-hard dick.
"You too, huh?" he jokes, rising onto his knees between her legs.
She cups his face and kisses him, letting him press in closer. "God, Jensen," she says. She breaks from his kiss, twisting her body enough to turn the water off, and he keeps his mouth occupied, moving down to suck on her nipple. He feels a few stray hairs she missed around it and laughs, taking the razor and carefully passing it over them.
By the time he looks up at her again, she's giving him a naughty smile. "Stand up for me."
He does it, wondering if she's about to fuck him with that incredibly talented mouth of hers again, but instead she takes him by surprise, leaning forward and pressing her chest together, so when Jensen looks down all he can see is her face, dark eyes trained on him, and a pretty pair of tits.
"Jay," he groans, reaching down to squeeze his cock.
"Do I turn you on?" she asks, holding the position. "You like seeing me like this?"
Jensen nods dumbly, the ache between his legs too urgent to form words.
"Come on me," she begs.
Jensen doesn't really need to be told twice. He strokes himself, imagining sliding his dick between her breasts as he jerks off. It's embarrassing how quickly that has him coming, spilling white all over her chest and hands.
"God, so hot," she gasps, and then she reaches up without pausing to rinse the come off and hauls Jensen down into the tub with her. He settles above her in the bath, hot water wrapping them both, nearly spilling over the edge, and he kisses her desperately as she rubs off on him, chasing her orgasm.
Her bathrobe is big and fuzzy, black with teal dots. She has matching teal slippers. Jensen sits across the table from her, alternating between reading the paper and watching as she happily paints the nails on her right hand a purpleish blue.
"Your pancakes are gonna get cold," he tells her, turning a page.
She gives him a quick, sassy look, then focuses her attention back on her hand. "Don't see you feeding them to me, manservant."
She nods after a few seconds, apparently content with her work, and begins to flap her hands to dry them faster.
"I already made them," he argues.
"Don't be a baby," she says, and then adds with a shit-eating grin, "baby."
"Your hair looks stupid," he tells her, returning to his paper.
Her hair is piled on top of her head, still soaking wet from their shower, and, to be fair, it really does look stupid. "I told you I was gonna worry about it la—"
Jensen feels himself smirking, lowers the entertainment section just enough for Jay to see him.
"Oh, you smart ass," she says, cutting herself off. "You think you're so funny. If my nails weren't wet, I'd throw something at you."
"If, if, if," Jensen chirps.
She's quiet for a little while, and then she says, "Whatcha reading about?"
"Nothing," Jensen lies, folding the paper and setting it aside. "Nothing important."
It's easy to tell from the look on her face that she has his number. "You know you're gonna win, right?"
"No," Jensen says with a shaky laugh. "No way. Not even letting myself hope for it."
"I saw Chiaroscuro five times," she says. "I cried, too. Three times. Manly sniffling the last two."
Jensen gives her a half-smile. "I cried about 80 times making it, and that was just trying to get the actors to show up on time."
She laughs, ducking her head. "I'm serious, Jensen. It was amazing. All I could think the first time I saw it was how proud Kim would have been."
"I'm proud of it," he admits, pausing to give her a thankful smile. "But I'm up against some pretty experienced guys. I just don't want to get my hopes up."
"Mmhmm," Jay says. "And what did the article say?"
"Said my chances were good but Soderbergh's are better." Jensen laughs nervously. "Having a hard time not agreeing."
"That movie sucked," Jay says, forcefully. "There weren't even any male strippers in it. Anyway, he already has his Oscar."
"Between Friends did not suck," Jensen replies. "And I'm pretty sure you're allowed to win more than once."
"Bah." Jay shakes her head, taking a bite from one of her pancakes. "You're gonna win it."
"I shouldn't even be worrying about it. Should be trying to find a lead for Double Negatives since my first choice wants no part of it."
"Jensen," Jay whines, kicking him under the table.
Jensen laughs, but he can't help asking, "Don't imagine anything that's happened in the last 24 hours might have changed your mind?"
Jay bites her lip, looking down at the table. "I don't know, Jen. I killed my career for a reason."
"I knew it!" Jensen feels stupidly pleased with himself. Jared's career, the swan dive it took after those three big movies he made in the year following Supernatural, makes no damn sense unless he meant for it to flop. "Why the hell would you do that?"
"It's not obvious?" Jay asks.
"No, it makes no damn sense."
She raises her eyebrow. "I'm a closeted gender-flopping drag queen who fucks men. You really can't imagine why I didn't want the spotlight on me anymore?"
"Fair enough." Jensen laces his fingers together. "Have you ever thought about coming out?"
"Of course I have," Jay answers. She shakes her head. "It's not anyone's business."
"But don't you miss acting?" Jensen asks. "You loved it so much."
"Yeah," she says gloomily. "I miss it. The show I'm on now, on the rare occasion they even schedule me, it's the kind of thing you can phone in. I'd love to do something like Double Negatives, but I don't want to be famous again. I don't want to have to do that fake Hollywood crap with the parade of women and the constant hiding. Worrying someone will figure me out and never getting to be Anita." She shakes her head. "I may not be much up here, but at least I'm myself."
"You can be in my movie and still be yourself," Jensen tells her. "I mean, it's okay that you don't want to be. I'm not trying to push you. But I want you to know that."
"It'll put me back on the map. I don't want to be on the map. I want to be a forgotten has-been no one recognizes when I walk my dog in a skirt."
"I have to go home, you know," Jensen tells her, feeling his heart sink. He hadn't even stopped to consider that they might be incompatible for reasons that have nothing to do with gender or sexual preference. Those were supposed to be the hard parts. "L.A. is my home, Jay. And I'm willing to live here when I'm not working, you know I love this house, but I'm not gonna kill my career. I've busted my ass the last three years—it's all I've had since Danneel left."
"God, no, Jensen. Honey. I would never ask you to do that." She reaches out and strokes his cheek. "You're already so good, and you're growing so much. This is what you're meant to be doing. I don't want to take that away from you."
"I wanna be with you, but…I don't wanna bring attention to you by accident. I don't really see a way to guarantee that won't happen."
Her eyes widen with hurt, but Jensen squeezes both of her hands in his, making her look up at him. "Hey, I'm not trying to end this. I'm trying to lay out our problems so we can think of ways around them."
"You have too many problems for that," she teases.
"Says the guy in a dress," Jensen replies.
She makes an indignant sound and whacks Jensen with his own newspaper. He probably deserved that, so he allows it.
"I can do the movie," she says after a long, quiet time.
Jensen frowns. "Jay, I told you you don't have—"
"Shut up and let me finish," she tells him. "If I do the movie, I get to do what I love while you get to do what you love, and then we have at least a couple of months where we can be together all we want and no one will think it's suspicious, right?"
Jensen nods, trying not to let himself get too excited.
"And we can see what we figure out after that," she finishes. "How's that sound?"
"You'll do my movie?" He asks. "Can I get that in writing? Can I bring a lawyer in with a contract right now?"
"Not with my hair like this," she replies.
Jensen stands, too ecstatic to stay seated. "You'll do my movie?"
"Do you speak English?"
He kneels at her feet and tries to scoop her up, out of the chair and into his arms. All that happens is they end up on the floor, the chair overturned next to them, laughing so hard it hurts more than the fall did.
It's not that Jensen's gotten clingy, it's just that everything reminds him of Jared all of a sudden. He's been back in L.A. for two days and so far every fashionista, dog, flashy car, building, or goddamn palm tree has, through some incredibly convoluted train of thought, led back to Jared. It's, oh, a smidgen distracting. In Vancouver, a city that will always belong to Jared as far as Jensen is concerned, where some version of his friend was constantly at his side, it at least made sense. Now not so much.
The phone rings in his ear as he walks down Santa Monica Boulevard, trying to keep his head down so no one spots him. His whole body clenches up calling Jared, even now, that tiny fear that he's never going to get an answer taking hold no matter how much Jensen tries to reason it away.
"Hello?" His muscles all relax without him even telling them to when he hears Jared's voice instead of a now too-familiar voicemail message.
There's a laugh on the other line. Jensen can't tell if it belongs to Jared or Jay. "Well, don't sound so surprised. You did dial my number."
"Yeah," Jensen says, still trying to figure out who he's talking to. It's been driving him crazy, having to guess over the phone. "Hey, baby. How you doin'?"
"Doing pretty well, I'd say," Jared replies cheerfully. Definitely Jared. "I'm here with this really hot guy."
"Oh, yeah?" Jensen asks. "He hotter than me?"
There's a speculative noise from the other end of the phone line, and then Jared says, "Well, you're like a six. And he's like an eight-point-five."
"Ouch. It's that point-five that's gonna kill me, isn't it?"
Jared laughs heartily. "Don't worry," he tells Jensen. "You're not in trouble. It's just Carlos. And, anyway, he's got that little blond boy toy he won't admit he's in love with, I might as well not exist."
In the background, Jensen can hear a high-pitched string of what he feels safe assuming are all curse words in Spanish. Nobody in Vancouver sounds particularly sober.
"Hey, is this a bad time?" Jensen asks. "Should I call you back tomorrow?"
"No, never a bad time for you," Jared replies. "Hold on, let me step out so this Chihuahua stops yapping at me."
"Bitch, I am a jaguar," Jensen hears Carlos announce. "A majestic, cute-outfit-wearing…"
Jensen doesn't catch the rest of it as Jared seems to get farther from the noise, but he hears Jared's chuckling and the click of a door as it closes behind him, shutting out the chaos. "Okay, outside," Jared says. "What can I do for you?"
"You didn't have to leave, you know." Jensen frowns down at the floor as he walks. "I don't really have anything useful to say. Wanted to hear your voice."
"You're getting soft," Jared teases.
"I miss you," he persists.
He can hear the smile in Jared's voice when he replies. "Me too, Jen."
There's a long quiet between them, and Jensen licks his lips nervously. Being in L.A. has really put some things in perspective for him. He's been coming to a lot of decisions, and any doubts he might have had about his feelings for Jared and whether he was ready to jump into a serious relationship have completely dissolved in the crush of missing Jared and Jay so much he can hardly pay attention to his work.
So it's not that he doesn't have anything to say keeping him silent, it's that he has too much, and he doesn’t think these are things to be said over the phone. He doesn't know how the hell they should be said, if any of it should be said at all, but he's pretty clear that the phone is a bad choice. So he coughs just to fill the silence and then says, "I guess calling you is pointless when neither of us is in the right circumstances for phone sex."
He's mostly joking. That's not what he needs right now, but Jay's dirty mouth has been driving him wild since he got to California. It's almost a shame; Jensen vows to call later, when he's back in his hotel, in the hopes he can catch Jared drunk and frisky instead of passed out.
"Shit, Jensen, you sure know how to make a girl feel special. And by special, I mean cheap."
"Nah, I'd pay good money for you," he jokes.
"Speaking of you paying me…" Jared's voice becomes teasing as he moves on to the next subject. "How're the movie talks going?"
"Pretty good," Jensen says. "Your agent looked like he was gonna cry for joy as we drew up the papers."
Jared laughs. "I bet."
"Looking at a few actresses to put opposite you. All I'll say is I'm real glad I'm comfortable with your sexuality."
"As long as it's not Rachel Maddow, I promise not to switch teams on you."
"I'm not all that concerned that Rachel Maddow wants you, to be honest," Jensen says. "It's all one big circle of tragic, unrequited love, but I think the bottom line is that you're stuck with me."
"I'll deal," Jared says.
"I'm leaning toward Olivia Wilde or Zoe Saldana. Got any preferences?"
"I would die if I got to have pretend sex with Uhura. I'll just throw that out there."
Jensen laughs. "Yeah, there's a good way to make serious decisions about my films. 'Who does my boyfriend-slash-girlfriend have the biggest nerd boner for today?'"
"In that case, find out if Carrie Fisher is available."
That's the last straw. Jensen laughs so hard some spray-tanned teenager with a dog tucked into her purse stops to stare at him, and he remembers he's out in public and trying not to get mobbed. "Hey, why don't you get back to your girl talk? I'll call you later."
"Promise," Jensen says with a small smile. "You kids have fun."
"Thanks, grandpa. Love you."
Jensen returns the sentiment and hangs up, hearing a loud kiss smacking against the receiver. The call almost made things worse, his ache for Jared even more consuming than before.
He stops on the sidewalk to tuck his phone away, and looks up by chance at the store window in front of him. His breath all steals out of him, and he knows he's found the way to tell Jared all the things he can't say.
Jared is already waiting for him at the airport. He's dressed in a suit with black shades on, like they used to wear when the Winchesters were impersonating FBI, and he's holding an ACKLES sign up to his chest.
Jensen rolls his eyes and refrains at the last minute from giving Jared a big ol' kiss on his mouth right there in the middle of arrivals. The drive home isn't long, thank god. Jensen is not making for great conversation—he's too excited and much too nervous about what he has planned. He's hardly able to give Jared the barest details about his time in L.A.
"Wanna grab some dinner?" Jared asks once they're nearing the house. "I ate, but you know I always have more room if you're hungry."
"Nah, I ate at the airport," Jensen says. In all honesty, his lunch was pretty big, but he would normally be starving by now. He's just too anxious to eat.
Jared gives him a suspicious glance but doesn't press it, and they drive the rest of the way home mostly quiet. Jensen takes his suitcase in before Jared gets a chance to grab it and heads straight for the bedroom once the door has been unlocked.
Sadie seems disappointed by that, and Jared laughs. "I don't know if I should be flattered or feel used," he says. "But that's definitely the fastest I've ever gotten anyone in my bed without—"
Jensen stops at the door and turns to push at Jared's chest, preventing him from entering. "I need five minutes alone with your room."
Jared blinks, clearly confused, but he shrugs. "Okay. Just don't have all the fun without me."
It takes a little bit of maneuvering on Jensen's part to get out of the room with Jared standing right outside the door without letting him see what's going on, but he manages it.
"You have to cover your own eyes," Jensen says. "That's what you get for being taller than me, asshole. No romance."
Jared laughs. "What's this all about, man?"
"You wanna find out or you wanna stand here talking?"
With a muted eye roll, Jared shuts his eyes and puts his giant hands over them.
"No peeking," Jensen tells him quietly, stepping behind Jared and putting his hands on Jared's hips to steer him. "I'll lead you."
Jared nods and starts walking when Jensen urges him forward, and Jensen stops him a few inches from his bed. He pushes his whole body up against Jared's back and has to rise to his tiptoes to whisper in Jared's ear, "Okay, baby. You can look."
Jensen is expecting a gasp, some exclamations of joy, but all he gets when Jared lowers his hands is silence. Shocked, painfully unreadable silence. He steps around to see Jared's face, but although he definitely seems to be having a reaction, Jensen's not sure if it's a good one.
"Do you like it?" he finally asks, sure the stress will kill him if he waits much longer.
Jared stoops low enough for his fingers to brush the dark blue gown spread out on the bed. The touch is brief and gentle, but whether it's tenderness or disgust keeping Jared away, Jensen's not sure.
"Jensen, it's—" His fingers graze over the fabric and he turns to look Jensen in the eye. "It's beautiful. Jesus, Jensen, it's." He looks back down, then up. "Is it really for me?"
Jensen nods, then lets out a breathy laugh. "You have no idea how much it cost to have that thing altered," he says, wrapping his arms around Jared's waist. "But the instant I saw it, I knew it was made for you." He kisses Jared's neck. "Gonna look so beautiful on you."
"Jensen, this is crazy." He picks the dress up and lets the smooth fabric drape down onto the mattress. "I can't accept this."
"It's already been tailored. Can't say no now." Jensen grins. "You should have seen the look the designer gave me when I went in to talk to him. I think he would have thrown me out had I been anyone else."
Jared laughs. "It's good to be the king, I guess."
"It has its perks. So you really like it?"
"It's amazing. I don't think I've ever owned anything so perfect." Jared bites his lower lip, finally starting to look a little giddy. "You sure it'll fit me?"
"You can try it on, but I'm pretty sure."
"How did you even get my measurements?" Jared asks, pausing to raise an eyebrow. "You stalker."
"Carlos has a big mouth," Jensen replies. "You're the one who told me."
"Oh my god, he gave my boyfriend my measurements? Biggest faux pas. I am firing him so hard the next time Anita needs a new dress."
Jensen shrugs. "Be easy on the guy. It was for a good cause and I'm a horrible bully."
Jared smiles, those gorgeous dimples jumping out, but he shakes his head. "Where am I even going to wear a dress like this?" he asks. "It's too nice to wear on stage."
Jensen swallows a lump in his throat. Here comes the hard part. "It's for the Oscars."
Jared freezes. He stands stock still for some long, tense seconds, and Jensen watches the dress as it slides out of his grasp.
"You know they don't invite lowly mortals like me to that party," he finally says, turning to give Jensen a glance. His voice is playful, but Jensen can hear the edge of uncomfortable suspicion. He knows what Jensen's saying, but he's not taking the bait.
Jensen is perfectly willing to spell it out. "I want you to come with me," he says. "As my date."
Jared's laugh is nearly a snort. "Damn, Jensen. Did you toke up and decide not to share with me or something?"
"Don't make a joke out of it," Jensen says, stepping around and sitting on the edge of the mattress so he can see Jared better. "Please don't do that."
"If you're not joking, and you're not high, then you're fucking crazy," Jared replies, and not in the nicest tone, either. "So which one is it?"
"Why does it have to be crazy?" Jensen asks.
"You haven't thought this through. You're wearing rose-colored glasses or something. It'll wear off, and when it does, you'll be glad I said no."
"I have thought it through," Jensen insists, reaching out and trying to take Jared's hands, but he pulls them away. "The whole time I was in L.A., you were all I could think about. And how much I wanted to tell—"
"This is not something you can rush. If we do what you're suggesting, that is it. It doesn't matter if we break up a week later and you never date anything but girls again. You will be branded for life."
"I know that. Jesus, Jared, I'm not stupid. I know how the business works." He takes a deep breath, bringing his tone back down to sincere instead of angry and defensive. That's not going to get across to Jared. Jared has to be reasoned with, even when he's already too worked up to be reasonable himself. "I'm trying to tell you I'm willing to take that risk. I'm willing to do it with you."
"It's been less than a month. You don't just do things like this after—"
"How long after you fell in love with me did it take you to be sure?"
Jared stops and stares at Jensen like he just got punched in the gut. "That's different!"
"Why?" Jensen asks. "Just tell me why. And if you say it's because I'm straight, I'm going to laugh at you."
"It's not just about the media, Jensen. It's your friends and family, too. This is going to change how everybody sees and treats you. Are you ready for that? Hmm? Is Jay the kind of girl you want to take home to Donna and Alan?"
"My parents love you," Jensen says. Jared raises an eyebrow pointedly, and Jensen shrugs. "Okay, so it'll take them some getting used to. They will get used to it."
"This isn't exactly a way to ease them into it."
"So come home with me for Christmas," Jensen says. "And then come with me in February."
Jared makes an irritated sound and paces away from the bed. "You are so infuriatingly calm about things sometimes."
"And I so rarely ever regret it. Look, Jared, I'm not trying to pressure you into anything. But I can't live keeping this big of a secret from everyone, I just can't do it. I want everyone to know I got you. Wear the dress, don't wear the dress. Wear a suit, wear a t shirt and jeans. Come as Jay or Jared or fucking Anita for all I care—however you're comfortable. However you want to dress that day. I don't give a shit what the media says about us or who thinks I'm gay. But I can't live constantly in fear someone is gonna figure us out. I'm going to need to take this step if we're gonna be together, and you have to take it with me."
"I hid it long enough," Jared says. "Why can't you?"
Jensen's laugh is crueler than he'd like. "And that worked out so great for you, huh? You're really gonna try to tell me—me—that it's made you happy? I'm not doing to anyone what you did to me. No way."
"It's better than the alternative."
"It's easier than the alternative, you mean." Jensen shakes his head raising his arms in frustration. "I don't even understand what the problem is for you, man. It's not like coming out can do worse for your career than what you already chose to do to it. And the stigma's not so bad these days."
"It's still bad enough. The world is not perfect."
"Granted. But it's not irredeemable. I mean, just think, five years ago it was hard to believe someone like Tammy Baldwin could get into the Senate, now she's on the fast track to run for president when Biden's done. That's incredible, Jared. If she's doing alright, what are you so worried about?"
"Oh, for fuck's sake. I have a son, Jensen," Jared yells.
Jensen flinches, hurt as he realizes how far out of his way Jared's been going not to bring it up. Not to rub it in. As if Jensen could ever begrudge Jared his kid.
Jared looks at Jensen like he's sorry and moves to sit down next to him. His voice is soft but firm when he finally continues. "I'd come out in a heartbeat if it were just me." He turns, a finger moving lightly over Jensen's temple, like he's trying to tuck a hair away. "I've thought about it, okay? I've dreamt of it for years. And getting to do it with you? So big and proud, wearing something like that," Jared inclines his head toward the dress, "it's all my little girl dreams about being a princess and getting my prince come true. But I can't do that to my boy."
"He doesn't know?" Jensen asks, even though that's a fucking stupid question.
Jared laughs. "He's six years old. I don't even think he'd know what it meant if I tried explaining."
"Good," Jensen says. "Then it's the perfect time to tell him. He can grow up used to it. Let him grow up knowing every wonderful thing about his dad. Jared, don't make him spend his life not knowing you. It'll hurt more once he does find out. Take it from me."
Jared drops his hands and turns away from Jensen. "I'm going to tell him. Someday."
"When? When you were gonna tell me? You can't spend the rest of your life hiding from everything that's hard." Jensen puts his hand on Jared's thigh and gives it a squeeze. "I know I haven't seen him in a while, but I know his parents. I think it's safe to say he won't love you any less for being different."
"It's not him," Jared says, lacing his fingers and staring at them as if they're the most interesting thing in the world. "I know he'll be a good sport. He's a great kid." Jared looks up at Jensen warmly. "I want you to meet him again. I want you to be a part of his life. He could use a dad."
"He has a dad," Jensen grumbles.
Jared looks up and grins. "Well, one like you, then. Someone to teach him how to be the kind of man I want him to be."
Jensen smiles. "I'd like to be that for him."
"It's everything else he'll have to deal with. If I come out—if I do what you're asking me to do—it's going to be huge. Everyone will know his dad's not just a fag but a full-blown freak show."
Jensen frowns at the venom in Jared's tone. "Hey. Who told you you were any of those things?"
"A lot of men while you were happily married," Jared replies, trying to soften the blow with a sadly inauthentic smile. "Anyway, it doesn't matter if I am those things or not. That's what he's gonna hear when he goes to school. That's what they're gonna say. I can't stand the thought that he'll be picked on because of me, or that I'll—I don't want to be something he's ashamed of, Jensen. With him and Gen down in L.A., I already hardly get to see him as is. I don't want him resenting me when I do."
Jensen bites his lip. Jared has a point, Jensen won't pretend otherwise. And he's got no place telling Jared what to do, what to decide is best for his own kid. God knows Jensen's got no experience with the matter.
"If you do this," Jensen says, picking his words carefully. "You'll be starting a change. It might be tough, but you'll make it easier for the next kid with a dad like you to hold his head high."
"I know that. And I know someone has to go first. But how do you tell a kid all his friends are mean to him because daddy wants to make a statement? Why does it have to be Tommy that suffers for it?"
"Because you're in the right place at the right time," Jensen says. "And as rough as it might be along the way, I think he'll grow up understanding why it's important. I think he'll be proud to have a dad who was willing to take a risk."
"You didn’t used to be so obnoxiously optimistic about everything," Jared says, bumping his shoulder with Jensen's.
Jensen smirks. "What can I say? I'm in love."
Jared sighs, shaking his head. "It's a big decision, Jensen."
"I know that, baby," he says, brushing Jared's hair off his shoulder and leaning down to kiss it. "And you can take some time to make it. But if there's anyone who can do this, it's you." Jensen puts a hand firmly on Jared's shoulder and pushes him back a little, up onto the bed. "I want to thank you if I win," he says. "I want to let everyone there, everyone watching at home, every damn person on this whole damn planet, know who I won it for."
Jared laughs under him, his hands coming up to skim over Jensen's sides. "You didn't win it for me, stupid. I was decidedly absent from your life when you were making that one."
Jensen shakes his head as he moves up, positioning himself over Jared. "That's exactly my point. I was in a bad place when I made that movie, Jared. Danneel had just left. I was lonely. And I guess it helped, I guess it made the emotions stronger. It sure as hell gave me more time to obsess over the film. But I'd trade it in a second to have had you then and I wouldn't give you up for a million Chiaroscuros or Oscars or anything. That's what I'm gonna win it for. That's what I'll be thankful for standing up there. Because yours will be the name I'll get to say and I would love for you to be sitting at my table supporting me when I say it."
"Jensen," Jared says, drawing the name out like it's an ache.
Jensen smiles and ducks his head, catching Jared's mouth in a starved kiss. Jared pushes him back after a few long minutes, a quietly stunned expression on his face.
"What?" Jensen says, putting a hand on each side of Jared's face. "What's wrong?"
Jared manages to shakes his head, even in Jensen's grasp. "Wrong? No, God no." He looks up, right into Jensen's eyes. "That's the first time you've ever kissed me."
Jensen laughs hotly, about to ask what the hell Jared is talking about. They've kissed lots of times, and done a whole lot more besides that. But then he realizes, he really hasn't kissed Jared, not until now. He's kissed Jay, even Anita, but this is the first time he's kissed a man. That doesn't seem right, and Jensen's pretty committed to fixing it. He and Jared are gonna have plenty of firsts before Jensen lets him fall asleep tonight.
He kisses Jared again, just to let him know how much he likes it.
Jared smiles, turning his face away, and Jensen tries to edge in, but Jared stops him with two fingers on his lips. "Yes," he says. "I'll do it. I'll come with you." He stops, swallows hard, then gives Jensen a smile so perfect he doesn't think he can handle it. "I'd…I'd love to come with you."
Jensen grins. "Better move your dress before we fuck then, huh?" he says, dropping his voice a few octaves as he puts his mouth on Jared's ear. "Because I intend to make a mess out of this bed and everything on it."
"Even me?" Jared asks, batting his eyelashes coyly.
Jensen's smile is so genuine and so wide, he thinks he might get stuck like that. "Especially you."