"I don't want to move when papa graduates," says Alex.
Jensen glances up from the paper. "Did you tell him that?"
"I'm telling you," she says. "We have jobs and lives. Papa doesn't."
Jensen snorts. "He has a life."
"He has you. And a few friends but he doesn't care about them. If you tell him you don't wanna move, he won't."
"Alex, you know he'd do the same for you."
Alex huffs out a breath.
"You're so slow!"
Jensen feels pretty slow, because he's totally lost.
"I'm telling you to propose, dad!"
And then she flounces out.
Ordinarily, Jensen would be despairing about how kids are growing up too fast, and how his seven-year-old shouldn't be doing such a good impression of a teenager. But he's pretty well stuck on--
She called him dad.
His first instinct is to call Jared. He's never--he's been a parent for a while. He goes to Alex's soccer games, parent nights, piano recitals. They all live together. They're pretty much a family, except in name, and Jensen always told himself he didn't mind, except when he thought about the fucking horrible possibility that something might happen to Jared and Jensen wouldn't have anything he could do, no legal claim. But Jared's family loves him, and he knows he wouldn't be shut out, so--who cared, right?
Apparently Jensen cared a lot.
He calls Isaac.
"Dude, not everybody fucking wakes up at dark thirty."
"It's noon, you freak."
"Some of us got laid last night."
"I got laid last night."
"Yeah, but you're playing happy families or whatever."
"Look, just shut up and--she called me dad."
There's a silence.
"I'm trying to figure out a response that doesn't make me sound as gay as you."
Jensen smirks. "You wanna squeal like a little girl, don't you?"
"Shut up. This is big, right? Like, good."
Jensen runs his hand through his hair. "I think so? She wants me to propose."
"Yeah. I guess she thinks if we're married we won't leave Boston."
"Jared's graduating. She thinks he wants to move."
"God, I don't know. The school year just started. We haven't talked about it."
"So what's the plan?"
"The plan is--I want to marry him."
"No shit. You've been wanting to marry him for, like, four years."
Jensen thinks about denying it, but he's not sure what he wants to say. Just two-and-a-half? It's not like it matters that much. "I think I gotta talk to Alex first."
"She gave you permission. What's there to talk about?"
Jensen sighs. "I'll let you know when it's done."
Alex's room is painted blue and green; Jared and Jensen did it a couple years ago while Megan and Alex supervised. She has posters up of mostly female athletes; Jared keeps trying to get her to put up pictures of boys, and she rolls her eyes. Jensen's pretty sure she has them in the diary she keeps in the middle drawer, so Jared won't know she likes boys at all.
She's sketching in the diary when Jensen comes in, she sweeps it into her drawer and glares.
Jensen rubs the back of his neck. "Sorry."
She turns her chair around so she's facing him. "What is it?"
"We need to talk, kid."
"I already know about sex."
Jensen coughs. "Jesus, you're seven!"
"Aunt Meggie bought me a book."
"Yeah, well, I'm going to talk to Aunt Meggie about that. But not you. We got other stuff to talk about."
"What?" she asks, looking petulant.
"I want to marry your dad."
"You want to marry my papa," she corrects, her voice daring him to make a big deal of it. "You're my dad."
"I want to be," he says, cautiously. "But here's the thing. If I'm your dad--I'm your dad."
"I mean, it's forever. It's not when you feel like it, it's not when it's convenient. If I tell you to do something, you do it. You don't get to say no because I'm--Jensen."
Alex rolls her eyes. "Papa gave me this talk when you moved in."
Jensen blinks. "Really?"
"Not about you being my dad," she says, like Jensen is an idiot for not already knowing this, "but about listening to you."
"Oh," says Jensen. "Well, uh. It has to be--if we move, I'm still you dad. If your papa doesn't marry me, uh. I'd like to still be your dad."
"Like papa's not going to marry you."
Jensen sighs, looks away. "Look, Alex. What I'm saying is--I don't want to be your dad just so I can marry your papa. I want to marry him. But totally apart from that, I want to be your dad."
Alex fidgets a little, turns back to her desk. "You are my dad. You don't get a choice."
Jensen grins. He kisses her on the top of her head. "I love you too, kid."
Alex scrubs her hand over her hair. "Gross."
Jared's working on a project at the library, and he's due back around five. Jensen finds himself sitting on the front steps, waiting. It's fall, still warm, and he just kind of--he wants to take a minute.
He bought a ring last year, and he'd been trying to figure out the best way to do it, how to ask Jared to let him be a part of his life forever.
It turns out it wasn't Jared he really wanted to ask. He's fairly sure he knows Jared's answer.
"Dude, if you keep making that face it's going to freeze like that," says Jared, grinning as he comes towards the stairs.
Jensen just jumps up off the stairs, crosses the yard, and pulls Jared's lips to his.
Jared smiles into his mouth, kisses back and laughs a little.
"Nice to see you too."
"Want to get married?" he asks.
"I asked Alex--okay, Alex pretty much kicked my ass and told me to marry you."
Jared laughs. "Did she call you a pansy?"
"No," says Jensen, "and she shouldn't even know that word. You're a sucky--"
Jared raises his eyebrows.
Jensen laughs a little, looks away. "She's calling me dad now."
Jared kisses him again.
"Yeah," he says, "okay. Let's get married."
"She wants to stay in Boston too."
"How come she never tells me this stuff?" Jared asks, sighing.
"Girls are always closer to their dads," says Jensen innocently.
Jared shoves him. "You're gonna be smug for, like, months, right?"
Jensen shrugs. "Maybe a little."