Jared starts sticking to him like glue, Danneel’s words, and Jensen doesn’t really mind. It’s like they never stopped being friends. It’s not even weird, at least Jensen doesn’t feel weird about it.
Of course, it is weird in the way that it isn’t. Jensen can’t really explain it all that well, only that having Jared back, being able to just talk to him, it settles something within him Jensen didn’t even know was restless.
Danneel and Aldis are a little more suspicious at first but grow to like Jared over the next few weeks. Jared’s always there now, at lunch, during rehearsal and on the way home. His camera is always there as well and Jensen even gets a few glimpses of the shots.
Jared’s really good and Jensen kind of loves learning all those new things about Jared.
Jensen loves that he has his best friend back.
Of course, they aren’t back to being best friends but they are getting to know each other again and it’s a step in the right direction.
Even his mom comments on Jared coming around again and Jensen tries not to think about her telling them to leave the door open, because that was damn embarrassing. She knows him too well and that one time she actually walked in on him and Steve going at it like rabbits was probably enough to scar them both for the rest of their lives.
His momma is actually great and understanding but that doesn’t mean she can’t embarrasses the living hell out of him if she wants to.
Jared, of course, had just laughed, said “Sure Momma Ackles” and the proceeded to shove Jensen down onto the bed so that they could go through the photos he took during rehearsal.
Jensen starts getting used to sharing things with Jared again and just to generally having Jared around. Jensen’s crush is fortunately taking a backseat, so Jensen doesn't even think about acting awkward around Jared.
But then he never did act awkward before, just a tad bit too sarcastic. That hasn’t changed.
Rehearsals tend to turn into photo sessions these days and Jared even allows Danneel to steal the camera from time to time. She’s way too interested in taking the most ridiculous pictures of the cast and Jensen in particular.
Jared manages to come up with a layout for the drama club program, gets the newspaper editors to print a copy and has the entire drama club eating out of his hand afterwards.
Jensen doesn’t think he’s jealous but it sometimes feels dangerously close to it.
And then, things come crashing down around him.
A Halloween Party of all places, is where Jensen’s life, or rather his new old best friend, decides to kick him in the balls.
Because it’s his life and Jensen clearly doesn’t deserve something good. Okay, he gets why Danneel constantly tells him he’s a drama queen but Jensen really thinks that this day now is the worst day of his life.
Thank God, this day is over in about ten minutes.
Jensen’s on his way home, walking through the night and tells his heart to stop freaking out, because breaking over something stupid like Jared isn’t worth all the pain. Only, his heart isn’t really listening, beating all over the place, making it hard to breathe.
His stupid cape flutters behind him.
It was Jared’s idea, going as Batman and Robin. In retrospect it had been stupid but Jensen found it hilarious that a giant like Jared was the Robin to his clearly awesome Batman.
He wishes he’d taken Aldis up on his offer of getting him well and truly plastered. Sometimes, Jensen thinks he’s too settled for his own good. He hates getting drunk.
Flashes of the night, of Jared within the group of his friends, laughing and talking, take up Jensen’s mind while he walks home. It probably wasn’t the brightest idea just leaving and not telling anyone but he couldn’t stay there any longer.
”... still hanging out with Ackles. Why?”
Jensen remembers hearing his name under the noise of the party and wearing towards the kitchen instead of the improvised bar in the middle of the living room. He’s still not sure why he was so damn curious but he can’t undo his decision to give into his curiosity anymore.
”He’s Jensen. I.... He’s Jensen..” Jared’s voice filtering through the noise and Jensen had walked closer, wanting to know what was going on.
“Dude, I thought getting the photos for your college application portfolio done, was the only reason you even talked to him. That’s done now, Jared. You can get back to being our Jared again and stop hanging out with the losers.”
Jensen blinked, not really wanting to but listening for Jared’s reply anyway. Only, there was none. There was a crash and laughter and Jared bellowing, but there wasn’t an answer.
Jensen felt sick.
His cell phone vibrates in his pocket but Jensen doesn’t check who it is, just walks on and blanks out any more thoughts.
The house isn’t as dark as expected and his mom sits in the kitchen, waiting for him with hot chocolate topped off with marshmallow.
“No, Jared. He called and said you’d vanished. Thought something might have happened.”
Jensen curls up on the couch in the den, hand wrapped around the cup and his momma following him. They sit there, not saying a word and watching the night outside.
“Did something happen,” she asks, quietly and concerned.
“Just that I realized that I don’t really know Jared after all. Let’s not talk about it anymore.”
She nods, lets it slide and hugs him once before she goes to bed. Jensen is surprised how easily she lets it be but then he knows she trusts him. When he doesn’t want talk about something he won’t.
Spike settles on his lap, purring and demanding attention. That’s how Jensen falls asleep, still in his costume, curled up with his cat and taking comfort in the fact that he didn’t let his heart get too attached.
He still knows it’s a lie, though. Deep down he knows
“We’re avoiding him again, aren’t we? Because you have to tell me if we are so that I don’t accidentally switch loyalties or something,” Danneel says between bites of apple pie during lunch a week later.
Jensen has ignored all of Jared’s calls, e-mails, knocks on his front door and letters slipped into his locker. He’s aware of the glares he’s getting from Jared’s group of friends but right now he wants to wallow in self-pity and doesn't give a shit about them.
“Guess so,” Jensen tells his milk carton and tries to remember when he grabbed it. He doesn’t even like milk.
“And you are being the cliché emo kid? Good to know. Should we go shopping for all black clothes sometime soon?” Danneel isn’t even watching him anymore but Katie’s ass across the hall.
“Fuck off, Danni. Let me wallow,” Jensen says but without much heat and they both know he doesn’t really mean it. Aldis plops down next to him and slides a slip of paper over to Jensen.
“Mr. Padalecki enquires if you would be so kind as to read the letter and formulate an answer which I will deliver asap to the ears of Mr. Padalecki only.”
Danneel is the first one to snort, it sets Jensen off way faster than it should and a second later they are howling with laughter. A quick glance towards Jared’s table shows confused looks and then a pair of eyes showing hurt and sadness. Jensen stops abruptly, stands up and walks over to Jared.
If they have to be all High school teenage drama he’ll do it the right way.
He stops right next to Jared's table, aware of the stares and hushed whispers around them and looks Jared right in the eyes. Where he’s sort of stuck for a second before he remembers that he has to use words to actually communicate.
“Come over after school.”
Jensen turns on his heel, cringes at the squeaky sound his sneakers make on the linoleum and walks back to Danneel, who looks like she’s being torn between gaping and laughing. It’s really not an attractive look on her.
Jensen tells her that much and earns himself a slap on the head and a pat from Aldis when he complains about domestic abuse. The tension is broken though.
He doesn’t even know why he’s nervous. He should be angry, at Jared and the way things went. But he’s a nervous wreck instead and hates himself a little for it.
Jensen has been home for half an hour before he starts feeling like he’ll climb the walls any second. So he does what he always does when he’s about to lose it, he sorts through his closet and makes piles. One to keep and one to give away.
“In the closet again?”
Jensen jumps, actually, really jumps and feels his heart do the same.
“Oh hell, go ahead and kill me, why don’t you?”
Jared actually laughs. Loud and clear and happy.
Jensen might be a little in awe with this laugh. It’s been years since he heard it and right now he thinks how much he actually missed it.
“And miss all the drama you create? Nah,” Jared says, still laughing and then settling down right next to Jensen, in his closet. “What are we doing here? Fall cleaning?”
“Uh... not really. I kinda do it to calm me down. Sorting through my stuff, making piles.”
“Oh good, means you are as nervous as I am then,” Jared replies with the nerves now showing in his voice, making him choke up a little.
And then they stop talking and develop some kind of routine. Jensen sorts and Jared piles. How Jared knows what goes on which pile is a miracle to Jensen but Jared doesn’t get it wrong so Jensen doesn’t comment on it. Even if he really, really wants to.
Jared nods and then smiles. The smile that makes Jensen melt a little inside and which he’s admired from afar for years. It’s small, gentle and only meant for a small group of people. The fact that Jensen still seems to belong to this group is promising.
“Everything you want to keep you smile at. The stuff that can go away you frown at. Same with the piles.”
Of course, Jared would figure out his secret tells.
“You do that with everything. I... I’ve watched you for years, Jensen. It’s why I can tell.” The blush staining Jared’s cheeks is cute and it makes Jensen smile and wanting to reach out.
“So, you too huh?”
“What do you mean?”
“Jay... I’ve had a big damn crush on you ever since I realized I swing that way. Might have been the reason why I drew back and kept you at a distance. Thought I’d ruin our friendship, so I watched you instead.”
Jensen is not sure why he spills it all now. But sitting there, in his closet, with Jared so close and the outside world shut out, Jensen feels safe. And it’s time anyway.
“We’re stupid, huh? Pinning away for years instead of doing something about it? Jensen, I thought you had me figured out all those years ago, knew how I felt and that’s why you kept your distance.”
Jensen actually laughs then, grunts a second later when a sweater hits his face. They scuffle a little, hit each other with more items from the piles and finally end up lying among the chaos that now reigns on Jensen’s closet floor.
“I told you, I didn’t even know.”
“Yeah, I got that.”
Silence settles between them but not uncomfortable, a little awkward maybe but not strained. In the comfort of his room, his own smallish closet, Jensen thinks things might turn out okay in the end. If neither of them messes it up again.
“What happened? At the party.”
And here they are, facing the one thing that isn’t solved yet.
“Heard you, in the kitchen. It was nice to hear what your friends think of me and how you didn’t try to say anything against it,” Jensen cringes inwardly at how bitter he actually sounds.
“Oh God, please tell me you stayed until after the microwave exploded.” Jared’s looking at him wide-eyed and then scowls. “Of course, you didn’t. Dammit, Jensen, for
a stage actor your timing really sucks.”
Jared moves then, rolls into his side so that he’s facing Jensen, looks right into his eyes and then takes hold of one of Jensen’s hand. Jensen thinks he should feel ridiculous, curled up on his clothes, in his closet, with Jared so close and his heart hammering in his chest.
But Jensen feels awesome. Nervous as hell and out of his mind at Jared’s closeness but awesome.
“Listen, Jensen. Carefully, because I’ll only say it once. When Kripke asked me to do the photos for the drama club program I said yes because it was the first chance in years to do something with you. I really thought I might have a chance at maybe fixing things,” Jared says, lips close to Jensen’s now and it makes Jensen shiver.
“Chad, the guy you overheard, knows about my crush on you, always made fun of me for it but he still kinda cares in his own special way. It’s hard to explain. He thought the photos would be good for my college application. Which, yes, true. But he took it as the only reason for me trying to talk to you again. He was wrong. He’s sometimes the biggest douche around, never knows when to shut up.”
Jared sighs, wriggles closer even, so that their legs are touching and there isn’t so much as an inch left between them.
“At the party, after the microwave exploded, I told him off for calling you a loser. Almost hit him when he said it again. I can call him if you want to hear his side. But Jensen, I... I thought things were good. Us being friends again and all. I was... hoped that,” Jared stops there and blushes a little more.
Jensen decides to take pity on him. His anger is all but gone because for some reason he really believes Jared, wants to and does. He knows what kind of a douche Chad can be.
“Well, yeah... ,” there’s more Jensen wants to say but is somehow lacking the words so he does what he’s been wanting to do for ages. He moves and closes the last tiny bit of space between them.
The kiss is slow at first, gentle and testing until Jared groans and it quickly turns heated.
It’s how Jensen’s momma finds them.
Jensen’s life clearly hates him... them... him more, though, because Jared actually manages to be polite despite his mortification. Jensen’s just his rude self.
His mom smiles at them but leaves the door open when she walks back out.
Jensen just hides his face in Jared’s shoulder, mostly to muffle his embarrassed groan but also to hide the stupid, goofy grin.
Jensen’s live takes a 180 degree turn over the next few weeks.
It’s more teenage drama and angst and misunderstandings than he cares about. But it’s also ridiculous romantic gestures, countless kisses and sleepovers with the door still open but a warm body snuggled up to his side.
His life now means being seen with one of the most popular guys in school along with still having the hottest cheerleader as his best friend. It means a merger of two groups of fiends, that doesn’t really happen.
It’s just more like Chad suddenly hanging out with Jensen and his friends from time to time. Then there’s Katie showing up at their table during lunch which makes Danni happy as hell. But it all works on the end and even Aldis doesn’t mind having half the football team hanging out around them sometimes.
And then there’s Jared.
Jared who becomes part of his life that Jensen doesn’t want to miss anymore. Jared’s the one who levels him, takes away the edge and softens his sarcasm somewhat, not all of it because it’s still who Jensen is and Jared seems to like it that way.
Jared’s more like an addition, like the missing piece finally fitting in. It sounds way too romantic and too pathetic for Jensen to actually really believe in it. But when, after months, Jared’s still there and Jensen suddenly realizes that he’s actually happy, Jensen decides to give it a chance.
Jared just laughs when Jensen says as much.
“Awww, that’s soooooo cute,” Danneel mock flails. It has Jared laughing out loud, drawing looks from half the people around and not giving a damn about it.
“Right?” Jared says, all bright “grin and wink” “See? I told you, Jensen. It’s cute.”
Jensen just glares down at the picture currently providing the background of Jared’s cell phone. It’s a photo Danneel took with Jared’s camera during one of their movie nights. Movie nights, Danneel-Aldis-Jensen tradition that now includes Jared and occasionally Chad, when he behaves.
The picture shows Jensen in the middle of a laughing fit, hands in front of his face, with Jared pressed close, smiling happily. Jensen thinks he looks like a complete dork with the stupid shirt he only wore because it was the only clean one around.
Jared, for some reason loves the photo though.
They do look happy and relaxed, Jensen has to admit that. It is a good photo
“It’s not cute. But it’s not bad either,” Jensen concedes in the end and grins when Jared smiles all wide and happy.
Jensen turns back to the stack of college applications and tries not to smile stupidly at the same stack in front of Jared.
They haven’t talked about it but Jensen knows that Jared’s going for the same schools.
“Not gonna let you go, now that I have you,” is whispered in his ear and Jensen loves that Jared again just knows what he's thinking.
He turns his head a little and lets himself just move into the kiss. It’s natural now and it feels so damn right that Jensen doesn’t even know anymore why it took them so damn long to get there.
Jensen smiles into the kiss at Danneel’s “Awww” and twin retching sounds from Aldis and Chad. Jared’s smiling right along with him.