Fandom: Supernatural RPS
Pairing: Jared Padalecki/Jensen Ackles, Danneel Harris/Sophia Bush
Word Count: 6600.
Summary: Having a kid with his best friend was a great choice. Everything since then, Jensen isn't so sure about.
Notes: Written for stewie_rocks94, who won me in help_haiti. It didn't end up with as much of a Danneel/Sophia focus as I planned, but I hope it is still enjoyable.
Disclaimer: Lies and untruths.
"So," Danneel says on Thursday morning, "I have a date tonight."
Jensen blinks. Ian doesn't even look up, so apparently he's the last to hear about this. He swallows a lump of cereal before replying. "A date?"
"A date. You know, going out with a cute girl. Do you remember what that's like?"
"Dad's gay," Ian points out.
"He dated girls for a little while in high school," Danneel points out. "Before he figured it out."
"Not the point," says Jensen. "Why are you going on a date?"
"Because Sophia asked me. Also, since when do I need a reason to go on a date?"
"You never date. Who's Sophia?"
"The pretty new receptionist," Ian supplies. "Really, really pretty," he adds. "Do you think I could come on the date?"
Danneel laughs. "Sorry, kid. She's not into you. You're kind of short."
Ian gives one of those long-suffering sighs that can really only be properly achieved by seven-year-olds. "You always say that."
"I've only gone on about four dates in your entire life," says Danneel, ruffling his hair. "So you don't get to complain. You got the best years of my life, kid." She raises her eyebrows at Jensen, who's morosely poking his cereal. "You don't get to complain either, by the way. What's your problem? I did not pee in that."
"Gross," says Jensen, wrinkling his nose. "Anyway, I just thought we were going to the movies. We got tickets, remember? I can't believe you're standing us up."
"So take Jared. Jared wants to go."
"Jared's probably busy," Jensen points out.
"Jared's never busy when you ask," Ian pipes up helpfully.
"I wonder why," Danneel mutters, with a significant look at Jensen. Jensen very pointedly doesn't look at her. "Anyway," she says, "he definitely said he wanted to see this movie, so stop being a loser and ask if he wants my ticket. Because, seriously, this girl is hot. I am not passing up this opportunity."
"You're the worst common-law wife I've ever had," Jensen tells her.
Danneel rolls her eyes. "Ooh, burn."
When Jensen was twenty-eight, right after he broke up with Peter, he decided that he was ready to be a dad. Of course, he was gay and single, so it wasn't exactly an option. But then he and Danneel got totally wasted one night, he told her about his plan, and she said she wouldn't mind having a kid herself.
They were sober when they decided that, actually, having a kid together wouldn't be a bad idea. He was gay, she was gay, they had absolutely no romantic interest in each other, but they were best friends, loved each other completely, and would make pretty awesome parents.
When Jensen was thirty-three, he met Jared. But Danneel has just gone through a rough breakup and Ian wasn't handling it so well, so it wasn't exactly the perfect time to make a move.
Three years later, and he still hasn't found the perfect time.
"Hey," Jared says blearily when Jensen drops Ian off at his door.
"How long have you been up?" Jensen asks, shaking his head. "Please tell me you didn't actually just roll out of bed."
"Don't be jealous you don't get summers off," Jared retorts. Jared teaches Art and Drama at the high school, which he claims isn't actually hell on earth. Jensen isn't sure he believes him. "Hey, kid," he says to Ian.
"Hey Jared! Want to come to the movies with us tonight? Or are you busy?"
Jared looks confused. "Why would I be busy?"
"Dad thought maybe you were. I know you don't have a life."
Jared raises his eyebrows at Jensen. Jensen shrugs awkwardly. "You could."
Jared shakes his head at Jensen, almost pityingly, and then kneels down to talk to Ian. "So what movie are you going to?"
"Haven't you seen Up like three times?"
"There's talking dogs! Jared, it's awesome, you've gotta come."
"Otherwise the ticket's just wasting," says Jensen.
"You got me a ticket?" asks Jared. "That's so sweet."
"It was mom's ticket, but she has a date," says Ian.
"Your mom has a date?" Jared looks up at Jensen, clearly surprised. "So you're just assuming everyone is dating now, I get it."
"Everyone but me, anyway. So, you gonna come?"
"Course I'm gonna come. Stop by after work, I'll throw in dinner. Since Danneel's not gonna cook for you or anything."
"I cook," says Jensen defensively. "But yeah, that sounds good."
Jared gets back to his feet and grins at him. "Okay, scram. Ian and I have cool stuff to do. Not work, like some losers."
"My job is cool," protests Jensen. Which is true--he works at the art museum downtown, and even Ian acknowledges a lot of it is pretty awesome. He's a big fan of modern art. It's actually how he met Jared--he brought a field trip in and Jensen was the one who did the program.
"Yeah, sure it is. Get going."
"Want me to bring anything for dinner?"
"Fine, you want me gone, I get the picture. Be good for Jared, Ian," he says. "Thanks again for watching him, Jared," he adds, just like every day.
"Like it's such a hardship," says Jared, rolling his eyes. "Have a good day, man."
"You too," he says, resisting the urge to kiss Jared goodbye.
Just like every day.
The museum is always really busy in the summer, and the school trips are replaced by camps, which makes Jensen want to scream. The kids are in a different mindset, and the counselors don't have the control that teachers do. Today, the two counselors who brought in their kids are clearly looking for a chance to leave the campers with him and go make out, and by the time his lunch rolls around, Jensen is about ready to strangle someone. Ideally someone under eighteen who doesn't know how to keep it in his pants.
"Hey," he says, when Danneel picks up her phone, "I have got to get out of here before I shoot someone. Want to grab lunch?"
"Yeah," she says. "I'm just finishing up some paperwork, want to pick me up?"
Danneel works a few blocks over in a small publishing house as an editor. Jensen is actually pretty excited about going over there, because he has no particular memory of the receptionist, but he wants to get a look at her. And maybe interrogate her a little.
After all, Danneel is his best friend and the mother of his child, so he's pretty invested in her life. He's allowed to be a little overprotective.
It's a nice walk, even if it's hot as fuck, and Jensen tries to put the whole terrible morning out of his mind and focus on the good things--lunch with Danneel, dinner and a movie with Jared and Ian, the summer ending soon and work quieting down a little, Ian going back to school and driving him less crazy with seeing Jared so often.
"Welcome to Highland Publishing," says the girl at the desk when he comes in. She's really very pretty--dark hair, nice smile, great body, if you're into breasts and hips. "How may I help you?"
"I'm here to pick up Danneel for lunch," he says.
She looks surprised. "Do you have an appointment?"
"No, I'm her--" he wonders if Danneel actually explained their entire arrangement to this girl. It's the kind of thing that can be a turn-off, for some people. It's been long enough since he dated that it hasn't been a big concern for him. Maybe their dates have matured in the last few years. "I'm a friend of hers--Jensen Ackles?"
Clearly, Danneel did explain, because the girl tenses up. "Oh, Jensen. So you're her--"
"Annoying BFF," says Danneel, coming in from the back. "Hey, Jensen."
"Finish your paperwork?" he asks.
"All done. Sophia, this is Jensen, Jensen, Sophia," she says. "Be nice, Jensen."
"I'm always nice. Pleasure to meet you, Sophia," he adds, giving her a smile. Sophia manages a little wave.
"He's really harmless," says Danneel. The smile she gives Sophia is a lot bigger and flirtier than Jensen's, and he's pretty happy to see Sophia bite her lip and smile back. It's kind of nice, seeing Danneel liking someone. "I'll be back soon."
"So that was her," says Jensen, biting into his sandwich. They're at their favorite place, a small little sit-down place with tables outside, in just the right amount of shade. The mayo always squirts out the sides of his rye, just like he likes it.
"That's her. You approve?"
"Based on two minutes of non-conversation, sure. She's pretty."
"She's really cool, too. I'm not totally shallow."
"I never said you were."
"I figure it's worth a shot. I've been single long enough."
"I feel like I should be apologizing here."
"You shouldn't," says Danneel, shrugging. "I mean, yeah, if I hadn't had Ian, I'd probably date more. But I also wouldn't have a son I adore, so I think it's a good trade." She looks at him thoughtfully. "But I wouldn't mind you dating too."
"I know you have this stupid idea that if he was interested, he would have said something," she says. "But you're interested, and you never said anything."
"Let's talk about something else," says Jensen.
"Yeah, I can see how you'd want to change the subject from you being an idiot," she says, and sighs. "Fine. What do you want to talk about?"
"Tell me about her," says Jensen.
Danneel smiles. "It's kind of--I just really like her. You know how sometimes you look at someone and just think--yeah?"
Jensen takes a drink of his water, mouth suddenly dry. "Yeah."
"God knows I haven't felt that way in a while, and I figured--I might as well, right? I know office dating can be stupid, but--"
"You really like her," Jensen supplies.
"Haven't clicked with someone so fast since you," she says, nudging his ankle with her foot and grinning. "And, hey, she's actually the right sex."
"Lucky you," Jensen says, grinning at her. "Seriously, I'm really happy for you."
"Not too heartbroken I'm not gonna be at Up for the billionth time?"
"Jared took your seat," says Jensen, not looking at her.
"Well," she says evenly, "he does love talking dogs."
"I don't know what I'd do if I lost him," Jensen admits, glad she knows him well enough to know exactly what he's afraid of.
"Do you know what you'd do if you had him?" she asks, and Jensen waves down the waiter to get the check.
Jared's got a nice house that's only about a fifteen-minute drive from the museum. It's on the small side, one-story and lived in, with a big yard for his dogs to run around, and Jensen knows Ian loves it. He and Danneel had each been planning to each take a couple weeks off once Ian finished with camp, but Jared had volunteered to babysit, and Ian had been thrilled with the idea. It made something stick in Jensen's throat if he thought about it too much.
Jensen hears voices from the deck so he heads straight to the back yard. Jared's dogs, Harley and Sadie, bark excitedly and run over to lick his hands, and he crouches down to rub behind their ears.
"Hey, Jensen!" Jared calls. He's holding Ian up so he can help flip whatever's on the grill.
"Hi dad!" Ian says.
Jensen manages to escape from the dogs and make it across the yard to the two of them. "Hey guys. Good day?"
"Jared's letting me grill," says Ian proudly.
"I can see that. What are we having?"
"Steak," says Jared. "What else do I cook?"
"You're all Texas, man. Can I help?"
"You could go grab us a couple beers," says Jared.
"Three!" says Ian.
"Wow," says Jensen, shaking his head. "I'm definitely going to fall for that one." He goes in to the fridge and grabs beers and plates and puts them on the table. When he looks up again, Jared is helping Ian spear the steaks and put them on a tray, and Jensen fights down the warm feeling it sparks.
Jared meets his eye and gives him a warm grin, all white teeth and dimples, and Jensen can't do anything but smile back. He thinks Jared Padalecki might have the best smile in the world.
"How was your day?" Jared asks, bringing the steaks over. The table's already got corn and salad on it--Jensen is always amazed by how healthy Jared is. He wonders if it's just for their benefit, or if Jared actually cooks legitimate meals for just himself.
"Ugh," says Jensen. "I hate campers." He smiles at Ian. "No offense."
Ian shrugs and helps himself to corn. "Did they try to touch the paintings? I hate that too."
"No, they--" Jensen coughs. "Were loud," he corrects. He's not really going to explain that counselors wanted to hook up to his kid. "I met mom's date."
Jared perks up at this. "Yeah?"
"I went to pick her up for lunch."
"And spy?" asks Jared, amused. Jensen sticks his tongue out; having a kid means he can't flip people off like he used to.
"She's really pretty, right? I met her a couple times when I went into work with mom," says Ian. "Are you sure she won't go out with me?"
"I think you're a little young for her," says Jensen.
"I'm too young for all the pretty girls," says Ian, pouting. "How come girls don't get pretty til they're older?" he asks, looking mournfully at his steak. While he isn't looking, Jared pantomimes boobs over his own chest, and Jensen snickers against his will.
"Hey, look on the bright side," Jensen tells Ian. "If she's dating mom, she wouldn't go for you even if she was your age."
"She could be bi, like Jared," Ian points out.
"Keep the dream alive, kid," says Jared. "You liked her?" he adds, cocking his head at Jensen.
"I saw her for all of a minute. But mom really seems to like her."
Ian nods. "She got all embarrassed and worried when she introduced me. Like we weren't gonna get along."
"Aww," says Jared. "That's sweet."
Ian shrugs. "It'd be nice if mom had a girlfriend. I want two moms and two dads."
Ian's always been kind of disappointed that their non-traditional family sounds totally normal. He wants to have to defend them in school, but he lives with his mom and his dad and it's all very ordinary. Jensen thinks he wants a valid excuse to punch another kid in the face.
"So get on that," Ian continues, glaring at Jensen.
Jared smirks at him. "Yeah, Jensen, come on."
Jensen scowls, knows he looks just like Ian when he does it. "Shut up, both of you."
Jared is a total soft touch. He cries at every animal movie ever made--even the happy ones--and has trouble keeping it together during any montage set to sappy music, so Jensen should have realized he was going to have trouble with the opening of Up.
Ian got pretty sad the first time they watched it, but now he mostly ignores it because he's so excited for the talking dogs. Today, he's totally distracted by the Skittles Jared brought him, and doesn't notice that Jared is crying.
Jensen feels like he's in high school, because he actually yawns to get his arms up, leans in close to steal some of Ian's candy, and gives Jared's shoulder a squeeze with his other hand.
Jared glances up, surprised, and bites his lip as he smiles at Jensen.
Jensen mouths softie with a smirk, and Jared laughs a little.
Jensen leaves his hand resting against Jared's shoulder. Why not.
Ian falls asleep in the back seat of the car in no time, and Jared leans back and closes his eyes, so Jensen figures he's got a lonely drive. Then, Jared says, "Is it weird for you?"
"What?" asks Jensen.
Jensen shrugs. "A little. But if she's happy, I'm happy."
"Aww," says Jared, smirking. Jensen takes advantage of his closed eyes to poke him in the side.
"Not that a first date is a huge deal," Jensen says. "It might not go anywhere."
"No," he admits. "I think she really likes this girl."
Jared opens his eye and looks at Jensen, then snorts. "You're cute, you know that?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means--you're happy for her."
"It's just--you guys are a regular family, you know. Like, anybody who saw you'd think you were just--" he sighs. "Sorry. This is out of line."
"It's not," says Jensen. "I know what you mean. We blend in. No awkward conversations about sexual preferences if we don't want. All that stuff." He looks down at his hands on the steering wheel. "We've got it easy."
"Yeah," says Jared. "I can just--see how it'd be nice." He laughs. "Not that it's a big problem for me, anyway."
Jared hasn't been on a date in three years. The last guy was a tall, nondescript accountant named Chase. They went out twice, Jared said it wasn't working out, and as far as Jensen knows, he's been single ever since.
If he was a good friend, he'd tell Jared to get back out there.
"Probably cuz you're so ugly," he says instead, innocently.
"Babies cry when they see me," Jared agrees
"You want to come over, see if Danneel's home to grill?"
"Sure. I can carry your kid in for you, since you're too frail now."
"Not all of us can bench press a country," says Jensen. He shakes his head. "I'm terrified of your workout regime." He pulls in and turns off the car, watches as Jared gets out and carefully picks Ian up, like he's fragile.
"Don't be jealous," says Jared. "You could be buff too if you weren't so busy having a family."
Jensen flips on the lights and follows Jared to Ian's room, pulling off the kid's shoes and jeans and settling him under the sheets. Jared plugs in the nightlight without having to be asked, and Jensen has to smile at that.
"Guess she's not home yet," Jensen says softly. "Want to stick around?"
"Yeah," says Jared. "I wanna know if I'm gonna be keeping you company a lot more."
Jensen goes to the kitchen to get himself some juice; he pours Jared some automatically--orange, with ice. Jensen hates orange juice with ice. He still makes fun of Jared sometimes.
"You know you don't have to, right?" says Jensen.
Jared takes a gulp of juice. "What?"
"Just because Danneel's gone, you don't have to pity hang with us. We're fine on our own."
"I like hanging out with you guys."
"Yeah, but--kids, you know. They take a lot out of you. And you're already watching him all day. So I'm not gonna be offended if you need a night off."
"Ian's awesome," Jared says simply. "I'd hang out with you guys every night." He smiles fondly. "Dumbass."
"Just saying," says Jensen, still serious. "I won't mind."
Jared's smile turns sad around the edges. "Yeah. I know."
The first time Jared argued with Jensen about Ian's well being, they were at Ian's first soccer game. He'd gotten a hard kick to the shin and was limping a little, but still wanted to play. Jensen told him he couldn't, and Jared said, "Hey, man, let him do what he wants."
Jensen whirled on him. "Shut up, this is none of your business."
Later, Jensen felt bad just because Jared was so calm, so serene, like he'd been expecting Jensen to say that. Like he'd known Jensen would use it against him someday.
"I know," he said. "But--Jensen, man, it's his first game. He wants to finish, and he's going to be pissed if he doesn't."
Ian was glaring at him, walking okay, and Jensen was still pissed, but the coach said it was up to them, and Jared was looking so calm and sure.
Jensen didn't talk to Jared for three days after that, and when he finally did, he apologized, and Jared said, "Not my place, I know."
"Your place is telling me when I'm being stupid," said Jensen. "So keep it up, Padalecki."
When Danneel gets back they're on the couch watching The Daily Show. She sits down on the cushion between them and says, "You didn't have to wait up. I'm not fifteen."
"I have a crush on Jon Stewart," says Jared. "Not everything is about you."
"How was it?" Jensen asks.
"Good." She turns and grins at him. "Really good, actually."
"Oh god, did you put out on the first date?" asks Jared. "She's never gonna respect you."
"I didn't," says Danneel. "I can have a good time without having sex."
Jared snorts. "Not possible."
"When was the last time you had a good time with sex?" asks Danneel.
"You at least kissed her, right? If I'd been creepily lurking by the door could I have seen hot lesbian makeouts?" asks Jared.
"You're such a dork. And I kissed her at her place." She grins wider. "We're going out again on Saturday."
"That soon?" asks Jensen.
"I like her," says Danneel, shrugging. "I want to spend time with her. You remember what that's like, right?"
Jensen keeps his focus on the TV. "Vaguely."
"Ian's sleeping over at Christoph's anyway," Danneel says. "He won't even miss me. And you can do--whatever it is you miss out on doing now that you don't live alone."
"Jerking off," Jared suggests.
"Not on the couch," says Danneel.
"I'm happy for you," says Jensen. "Really."
"Get laid," says Jared. "I remember it being awesome."
Danneel grins and gets up, stretching. "Speaking of getting laid and jerking off, I'm going to bed."
"Too much information," says Jensen, swatting at her as she goes.
"Not enough information for me," says Jared with a leer.
Jensen shakes his head. "You want a ride home, Padalecki, or are you just going to fantasize on the couch all night?"
"Tempting," says Jared. "But your midget couch would kill my neck."
Jensen offers him a hand up. "Then come on. But you're not getting a kiss at the door."
"You're breaking my heart."
Christoph Collins is Ian's best friend. His parents are major hippies, so he has some weird opinions and beliefs, but he's basically a good kid. Jensen is still a little weirded out about that time his parents propositioned him for a threesome, but he figures that's not Christoph's fault.
Jensen drops Ian off early in the afternoon and then stops by the museum to see if they need help, which they don't. Danneel's leaving early--she and Sophia have various big plans, apparently involving going to some corn maze that Sophia's cousin runs and seeing if it'd be good to bring Ian back to someday--and Jensen finds himself unexpectedly alone.
The time to himself is novel at first--he reads a little, watches TV, enjoys the quiet, but it's not long before he starts feeling bored and antsy. He doesn't have anyone to call, exactly--Chris and Steve are out of town for a summer tour, Adrianne's on vacation, and most of his other friends are family friends, the kind of people he can't really hang out with without Danneel and Ian around too. Picnic and birthday party friends, not people to hang out with on a Saturday night.
Jared picks up on the first ring.
"You're bored," he says, instead of hello. "And lonely."
"What are you doing?"
"Me and Chad and Allison are doing shots and dicking around on Chad's WiiFit. It's a pretty pathetic night, but you're welcome. We're at my place."
Jensen sighs. "Give me ten minutes."
Jensen wakes up on Jared's couch with his pick-up-Ian alarm blaring. Chad's on the other side of the couch and shoots him a glare as he gets up.
"You're an asshole, Ackles," Chad says, and Jensen chooses to believe he says it because Jensen's alarm is going off.
He doesn't really get along with Jared's friends. He's pretty sure they think he's treating Jared wrong.
Sophia comes over for dinner at the house on Monday and proves herself to be sweet and charming and good with Ian. Everything is going so well that halfway through dinner, Jensen actually calls Chris to have a minor break down.
"Man," says Chris. "Slow down and tell me what the hell your problem is."
"Danneel has a girlfriend."
"And?" says Chris. "Good for her. Girl's way too awesome to be single forever."
"I just--" Jensen scrubs his hand over his face. "I'm thirty-six."
"And I figured--I didn't think she'd ever--"
"Jensen," says Chris. "You aren't interested in Danneel."
"No," Jensen says. He tries to figure out what he's actually feeling. "I just--don't really know how to live without her around all the time."
"You thought about getting yourself a boyfriend?" asks Chris.
"It's not like you can just go out on the street and grab a boyfriend."
"You could," Chris points out.
"I gotta get back to dinner," Jensen says.
Jensen gets called away from a presentation at work by an emergency call a month after Sophia and Danneel start going out. During that time, they've gone out a lot--nine dates--and Danneel is clearly over the moon about it. Ian, Jensen thought, had also been dealing really well, which is why the call is such a surprise.
"It's Ian," Jared says. "He's not hurt, but--I don't know what I said, but he won't come out of his room and he's pissed and--I know you're working, but--"
"I'm on my way," says Jensen.
He gets to Jared's in record time. Jared's waiting on the porch, looking anxious.
"What's wrong with him?"
Jared looks really upset. "I have no idea! I don't even remember what we were talking about--I said something about dinner, I guess? And he freaked out, started yelling, and shut himself up in the guest room." He sighs. "I'm sorry, I didn't--" he laughs hollowly. "I didn't really know what to do."
"Hey," says Jensen, squeezing his shoulder. "I don't mind. Thanks for calling, man."
"I'll just wait down here," says Jared, rubbing the back of his neck. "It's kind of a family thing."
You are family, Jensen wants to say, but instead he nods. "I'll let you know if--whatever."
He heads upstairs slowly. He's never gotten used to the heavy feeling he gets in his stomach when he's getting ready to have a serious conversation with Ian--he still always thinks he's going to fuck the kid up beyond repair.
He thinks that's what no one tells you about being a parent--really what it comes down to is this non-stop paranoia that you're going to destroy a life.
"Go away!" Ian yells.
"It's dad," says Jensen. "I'm coming in."
Ian's sitting on the bed, cross-legged. He looks up sulkily when Jensen opens the door and sits down next to him, but doesn't say anything. His arms are crossed, but it doesn't look like he's been crying.
"What happened?" asks Jensen.
Ian glares down harder.
"Jared said you were talking about dinner?"
"I don't wanna live with Jared," Ian says firmly.
"What?" asks Jensen, taken by surprise.
"I like you and Jared," says Ian. "But I like mom too. I don't want to just live with you and Jared."
Jensen feels something cold in his gut. "Ian--dude, we're not--mom isn't leaving. You're not losing a parent, you're--if anything, you're getting one."
"But I'm here a lot now," says Ian.
"That's because mom and I have to work."
"But--why can't I go on dates with mom and Sophia? I go on dates with you and Jared."
Jensen isn't really sure how to answer that--he doesn't think that pointing out he and Jared aren't dating will help. "I can tell mom--I know she and Sophia are trying to figure out dates you can go on. But when you're first getting to know someone, you kind of want to be alone with them."
"But mom loves me," says Ian.
"Exactly," says Jensen. "We have to be pretty sure about someone before we trust them with you."
"Why?" asks Ian.
"Because mom can deal with her heart getting broken, but not yours." He puts his arm over Ian's shoulder. "Mom doesn't want to lose you. You mean more to us than anything in the world."
Ian is still crossing his arms.
"Do you want to stop staying with Jared during the day?" asks Jensen.
"No!" says Ian. "I just wish mom and Sophia were more like you and Jared."
"Ian," he says gently. "Me and Jared have known each other for years and years. Your mom and Sophia just started dating."
"Oh," says Ian.
"I can tell mom," says Jensen. "See what she thinks."
"Don't tell her I was worried," says Ian quietly. "Maybe you could tell her you miss her."
Jensen bites back a smile. "Yeah, I can do that." He squeezes Ian's shoulder. "You want to go talk to Jared? He was pretty worried."
Ian nods. "I didn't mean to get mad at him."
"Hey," says Jensen. "Jared loves you. He's worried, not hurt."
Ian hugs Jared as soon as he sees him and mutters, "Sorry, Jared."
Jared ruffles his hair and looks up at Jensen, cocking his head at Jensen. Jensen nods, not really sure how to explain this freakout. Jared smiles at Ian's head. "Hey, it's okay. You feeling better?"
"Yeah," says Ian. "I wanna stay with you. I like it here."
Jared smiles. "That's good. Cuz I like you too."
Jensen realizes that maybe his whole life is one right moment after another, and he's just too chicken to jump in.
"Ian's worried you're leaving him," says Jensen. He lies to his kid sometimes; he's okay with it.
Danneel raises her eyebrows. "What?"
"He freaked out at Jared's because he doesn't want to move in with me and Jared and lose you."
"You told him that wasn't happening, right?"
"No, I told him you were planning to run off with Sophia and never come back," says Jensen, rolling his eyes. At Danneel's look, he sighs. "I think you're just moving a little fast for him."
"I know," says Danneel. "It's just--it's been so long since I actually liked someone, you know?"
"And, no offense, but you're a pretty perfect example of moving too slow."
Jensen leans his head against the wall. "He asked me why he was allowed to go on dates with me and Jared and not you and Sophia."
"Because me and Sophia are actually dating," says Danneel.
"I didn't think it would help if I told him that."
Danneel smiles at him. "You know he wouldn't say no."
"I know," Jensen admits.
"And he's never going to ask," says Danneel.
"Yeah," says Jensen. "I know."
The last time Jensen was on a date, Ian was a few months old. He had to leave halfway through because Danneel needed help at home.
He never thought, I'm done dating now. He just stopped, kind of accidentally. He didn't miss it too much--he didn't miss sex like he thought it would. He had a family, and wasn't that the end goal of dating, anyway? Tons of people had sexless marriages.
He's always been happy, but Jared's always been around and Danneel's always been single.
He's been selfish, he thinks.
Jared has been doing a summer theater club on the weekends, kind of as community outreach. Toward the end of August, they have their actual performance, and Jensen doesn't even think about not going. He hasn't missed a show since he met Jared--even when Danneel and Ian haven't come, Jensen gets over there. It's important to Jared. He doesn't need a deeper reason.
Tonight, Danneel and Ian and Sophia are all there. Danneel clearly took Ian's concerns to heart; Sophia's been spending more time at the house, just hanging out, and they go on more kid-friendly dates. Sophia doesn't seem upset by it at all--she's clearly as crazy Ian about Ian as she is about Danneel. Jensen is spending less time with her, but he likes her from what he's seen. She's funny and quick and keeps up well with Danneel, and he can't really dislike anyone who makes Danneel happy. The entire situation is still weird for him, but it's no one's fault but his own.
They're doing All's Well That Ends Well, which Jensen knows nothing about, and the kids aren't all that great at keeping the story understandable, but they're clearly into it and working hard, and Jensen knows how proud Jared is of this group, so he loves it even without totally getting the plot or understanding all the lines.
After the show, they're heading to the back to give the traditional congratulations for a job well done, and Jensen hears a gaggle of girls giggling.
"You're gonna talk to him?" asks one
"I'm not gonna do anything," says the middle one, who's blushing furiously. "He's a teacher."
"He's only, like, thirty. And you're graduating at the end of this year!"
"Oh my gosh, Jenny! I'm not going to hit on Mr. Padalecki! I'm just going to talk to him."
Jensen feels a weird swooping feeling--not jealousy, exactly, just little jolt of awareness. People find Jared attractive. He's not the only person in the world who's realized how amazing he is.
Jared's talking to his kids in the back, laughing and smiling and congratulating them, but when he looks up and sees Jensen, it's like there's no one else in the room, suddenly. He gives this smile that makes Jensen's heart lurch, his whole face lighting up with happiness, and Jensen thinks--Jared doesn't care how many girls think he's cute, or how many guys like him.
Jared smiles at him and Jensen thinks, Jared's taken.
Ian decides Danneel should tuck him in, which leaves Jensen and Sophia alone in the kitchen. Jensen immediately goes to pour drinks, for lack of anything else to do, and then thinks better of it.
"I haven't been very nice to you," he says instead, willing his hands to stop trying to change the subject with food or books or something. He's going to be a better person.
Sophia tilts her head, smiles. "You haven't been mean," she says honestly. "But, yeah, you haven't been totally welcoming."
"I'm kind of a dick," Jensen says. "Danneel probably told you."
"She said you were having to examine your denial and it was making you cranky." She considers. "Also kind of a dick."
"I was working through some issues."
"And you're worked through now?"
"I'm happy for you," says Jensen. "And I hope you stick around."
Sophia smiles, looks just and happy and in love as Jared had. "I'm not going anywhere without a fight."
Jensen stares at his phone for fifteen minutes before he gets over himself and calls. It's been a week since the show, and Jensen's been busy.
And chickening out, maybe.
"Hey!" says Jared. "Let me guess, Danneel's on another date."
"I don't just call you when Danneel's on a date," Jensen protests. He pauses. "But she is."
Jared laughs. "You're bored."
"Or I just want to spend time with you," says Jensen. "Did you ever think of that?"
"You want to come over?" Jared asks.
"I've got pizza," says Jensen. "You come here."
Jensen hasn't done this in a really long time. He has no idea what he's supposed to say. He's been in love with Jared for so long that he doesn't even notice it half the time. It's just another part of his routine, like brushing his teeth. He never hopes it'll go away, he just figures it won't go anywhere else either.
But he figures he's been an idiot long enough.
"Hey," says Jared. He blinks, cocks his head, and says, "What?"
"What?" Jensen asks defensively.
"You look like you swallowed a lemon or something. What's wrong?"
Jensen stares. "How do you do that?"
"Read facial expressions? It's not actually hard."
"Not what I meant. I--" he swallows. "Look, I just wanted--I suck."
Jared raises his eyebrows. "You suck?"
Jensen runs his hand through his hair. "Yeah. I'm just. I'm in love with you, and everyone in the world says you're in love with me, so it's really fucking stupid that we're not married by now."
Jared lets out a bark of a laugh. "Yeah," he says. "That is really, really stupid."
Jensen nods shakily. "Okay. Good. So--"
"I thought Ian didn't want us dating."
"Ian already thinks we're dating," Jensen says. "He told me he wished Danneel and Sophia were more like us."
"So, not really dating?"
"Spending time with him on their dates," Jensen clarifies. "Being there for him too."
"Oh," says Jared. He licks his lips. "What made you--I thought you were never going to say anything."
"I wasn't," Jensen admits. "But have you seen the way you look at me?"
Jared laughs. "This is news?"
"I suck," says Jensen. "Like I said. And you could've asked me out or something. This isn't all me."
"You're right. I suck too."
'Why didn't you?"
"Ask you out?"
Jared cocks his head, like he's sizing Jensen up. Then he smiles softly. "You have any idea how much you talk about Ian?"
"Uh," says Jensen. He doesn't know quite how to answer that. Of course he and Jared talk about Ian all the time.
"I don't mean now. But--man, I was gonna ask you out the first fucking day I met you, on the field trip. But then you kept talking about your son. Not on purpose, he was just in all your stories. So I figured--he's married. And it was stupid of me to want to hang out with you after that, but," Jared shrugs. "You make me kind of stupid. By the time I figured out what was actually going on, I was in too deep to just--say it."
Jensen swallows. "I didn't--"
"It's cute," says Jared. "How much you love him."
"Thanks, I guess," says Jensen. He feels awkward, suddenly. He still doesn't know what to do with his hands.
"Hey," says Jared, biting his lip. "You want to get that pizza and watch a movie?"
"Are you asking me out on a date?"
"A few years late," says Jared, smiling. "But yeah."
Jared insists on cuddling on the couch.
"Dude, I have elaborate fantasies about snuggling with you," he points out.
"And here I thought all guys thought about was sex."
"Don't worry, I have fantasies about that too," says Jared, winking. "But I feel gross thinking about that when we're hanging out with Ian."
"So you have your Ian-friendly fantasies and your NC-17 fantasies?"
"Trust me," says Jared, kissing the top of Jensen's head. "I have about seven thousand fantasies about you, with all the ratings."
"Does that mean you put out on the first date?" asks Jensen.
"I think we're past the first date stage. At this point."
Jensen snuggles in closer, feels Jared's heartbeat under his hand. He thinks that, all things considered, he's doing pretty well with his life.
"So that's a yes to sex," says Jensen.
Jared laughs, leans down and kisses him. It's not life-changing or world-shattering. It's a kiss. But it's Jared. He's already changed Jensen's life. "Dude," he says, grinning like a mad man. "That's a yes to everything."