the reluctant lobotomist (fourfreedoms) wrote,
the reluctant lobotomist
fourfreedoms

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Fic: The Lead Is Forward

Title: The Lead is Forward
Author: fourfreedoms
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Word Count: 7,168
Rating: nc-17
Summary: Jared and Jensen go off to college. Turns out not everything is easy once the nightmare of high school ends. Sequel to Caught In A Spin.
acknowledgements: I called causeways up today and was like "GOD, HELP ME!" and being the wonderful MUFFIN that she is, she did it for me.
Notes: I returned to this story over a year after it was originally written. God help me. Anyway, it's a little more angsty than the first piece, but it all ends happily. No Chad's were damaged in the writing of it.



Jensen became addicted to Izze after he went off to college. When Jared flew out to visit him over spring break and they made out on Jensen’s narrow mattress while his roommate watched TV in the common room, he said that Jensen tasted like the tang and sweetness of grapefruit.

“That’s what college is,” Jensen told him with a laugh when they went to the campus grocery story. “Putting whatever you can afford into your mouth.”

They went to Du Pont Circle and looked at the novelty items like penis macaroni and dick shaped ice trays. Jensen held Jared’s hand for the first time ever in public. He was suddenly bursting with the desire to drag Jared back to Texas and promenade with him down Main Street. It was crazy and insane, but if these people here could walk past them like they were nothing special, Jared figured all he had to do was wait.

His new friends weren’t sure what to make of Jared, they weren’t really sure what to make of Jensen having a boyfriend period. He hadn’t really said anything. He was upfront, because that was only fair, but he didn’t have any pictures of him and Jared together that made them look anything other than buddies. Who back home would know to take one?

“I just don’t look at you and see gay,” Jeremy told them as they loaded their plates with pizza that Alex had brought back from his job. Jensen reached across and brushed Jared’s hair off his forehead. Jeremy laughed. “Until you do that.”

“What does gay look like?” Jared asked, mouth full of pepperoni.

Jeremy shrugged. “I don’t know, something else.”

*

Three large envelopes sat on the coffee table when Jared got back from his trip. “How’s Jensen, honey?” his mother asked over a cup of coffee, eyes darting gleefully to the mail. “He found a girlfriend yet?”

Jared shrugged and flipped the letters over. “Duke, UConn, Stanford.”

His mom smiled. “They’ve been calling all week talking scholarships and benefits and Jared, with all the help, we’ll even be able to get you to med school without taking out a loan.”

Jared looked down at the thick envelopes, almost afraid to open them, because then he’d have to make a decision. He wanted UConn. The chance to play for the Timberwolves had only been his dream since second grade when his brother tuned into every game in March Madness and he’d watched them dominate. But a full athletic scholarship to Stanford wasn’t really something he could pass up. Not with the way his mother was staring at him.

He filled out the letter of matriculation that night.

*

Jensen was only home for two weeks that summer. They barely had any time for themselves between all the parties Chris held and breakfasts with relatives that Jensen hadn’t seen in months.

They went out for Chinese one night, two towns over so that they wouldn't have to worry about the way they were looking at each other, touching each other, where somebody might know them and come to their own conclusions.

Jared asked, “Do you think maybe I should let you go, so you can see other people?”

Jensen choked on his orange chicken. “What? Do you want to break up?”

“No,” Jared reached for Jensen’s hand across the table, fingertips just skimming clenched knuckles. “No. I just—we never get to see each other.”

Jensen stabbed his chopstick through a dumpling. “I don’t want anyone else.”

Jared smiled. “I don’t either.”

*

When Jared arrived on move-in day he spent four hours wrestling with his roommates over the placement of desks and beds. Jared got the desk in the common room, but the bed under the window.

Jensen called just after his parents took him out for lunch at a little place on California Avenue and then headed for the airport.

“Are you going to tell them?” Jensen meant his roommates.

“It’s up on Facebook. I guess they’ll figure it out.”

Jared heard clattering on the other end of the phone line, the clicking of a mouse as Jensen checked the site. “I can’t believe you really did it.” Jensen sighed. “You haven’t even told your parents yet.”

Jared made a noise in the back of his throat. “I think they’ll figure it out when the news picks up the story on the first openly gay NCAA player.”

“Jared—” Jensen’s voice was soft.

“I told them today at lunch.”

It had been anticlimactic. They already knew.

*

Jared wasn’t going home for Thanksgiving, because their third home game was on the Wednesday beforehand, and their fourth on the Saturday following. He missed home something fierce. It’d be easy to say it was all because Jensen was there, but that would be a lie. Jared missed the way the air smelled, he missed his car, he missed going to the diner, he missed hanging out in the flats, and he even missed picking up the mail.

They won against USAF in overtime. Jared had tumbled into the pressbox to keep the ball in play, but when Mitch had thrown up that pristine three-pointer, his bruised ribs were worth it.

The stands were more empty than full; the band hadn’t even made an appearance. But they had four wins under their belt, even if they’d expected to crush Yale, and that game had turned out a little closer than expected. Jared still felt pretty good.

Anthony wrapped an arm around his neck and leaned in to whisper in his ear, “You just wait ‘til February, baby, you aren’t going to know what hit you.”

Riding an adrenaline high, he could almost forget he wouldn’t be sleeping in his own bedroom back home like his roommate would.

Coach spoke to them when they were getting out of the showers, warned them not to get cocky, especially Anthony, whose grin flashed like lightning across his face.

“Jared, I want to rest Jerry, so Kenny’s starting and you’re first off the bench on Saturday.” Coach Dawkins gave him a stern look. “As for the rest of you, you have tomorrow off, but don’t party too hard, because we have free throw clinic at nine on Friday.”

There were groans all around.

*

Jared liked the guys on his team. They were strong flashy players, but they left their game on the court. Two other guys were from Texas. Will, who was five inches taller than Jared with a slow smile and shock of blond hair, was from Corpus Christi, and Kenny, who was the shortest guy on the team and still taller than Jensen, was from Southlake.

“Miyake or Gordon Biersch?” Anthony asked when they met in Lytton Plaza for Thanksgiving dinner.

“How festive,” Josh snorted. “I want Thanksgiving turkey so bad, I could die.”

“Best not to dwell, young son.” Anthony clapped him on the back.

“You miss home?” he asked Kenny as they walked towards Gordon Biersch.

Kenny shrugged. “Not really, there’s fuck all to do there.”

Jared laughed, eyes wide.

“‘Sides, I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since I’ve been here. It’s just the way of it.” He shrugged again, hands deep in his pockets.

There wasn’t anything wrong with Palo Alto. It just wasn’t home. “I can’t get over the fact that Igbinosa’s family actually came out to see him,” Jared said.

“Igby’s family has been doing that since he was a freshman.” Kenny snorted. “Lucky bastard.”

There was a commotion ahead with the guys that had reached the restaurant.

“Shit, they already have the season poster in their window!” Josh cried. “There’s no way they’re going to let us buy beers all around.”

“Simmer down,” Will told him. “You’re almost seven feet, you really think they’re going to question you?”

Jared knocked his shoulder and Anthony went to sweet talk the hostess into seating fifteen guys without a reservation.

“You all play for Stanford?” she asked, eyeing their sweatshirts.

Anthony leaned in with a smile. “Do we get a discount?”

She blushed and picked up a pile of menus. Mitch shot Anthony the dick-softening look of doom and whispered furiously, “Lay off, she looks like she’s in high school.”

“Aw c'mon.” Anthony shook his head. “I bet you my dead grandma has more fun than you.”

“She must,” Mitch smiled. “Since I saw her at the exhibition game.”

Mitch and Anthony reminded him of Tom and Mike a little. Only, with less free time. He hadn’t found anybody like Chad yet, probably because he was a singular sort of fellow. Sandy wouldn’t appreciate knowing that she was exactly like the section asshole in his French Revolution class, just thinking about it made him want to laugh.

Jared’s leg vibrated with a text a little after they ordered appetizers. He flipped it open to find a message from Jensen.

Miss you so much. Chad just lit his hair on fire. No fun making fun of him when you aren’t here getting all sour.

“Is it from your boy?” Anthony asked. The other boys whooped. Jared glared at them and went to stuff his phone back into his pocket, but Anthony reached across the table and stole it from him.

“Oh, shit, son!” Mitch cried, shaking his head.

Jared tried to lean across Will to get at it, but he just snorted with laughter and strong-armed him firmly back into his seat.

“Give it back, man,” he said, slumped over Will’s lap, still weakly trying to grab for the phone.

Anthony shot him an evil grin. “‘Dear Jenny, I’m…so hungry…for your cock…I could scream,’” he narrated as he typed a text back. The other guys roared with laughter. “‘Wish you…were here…so you…could pile…drive me with…your man meat.’”

Jared flipped him off.

Man meat?” Mitch asked, nearly incoherent. “I bet your Grandma taught you that one.”

“Fuck, man—I am going to get you so hard for that.” Jared heard the chiming sound that meant the message had sent. Anthony laughed so hard it was soundless, tears leaked down his cheeks. He held on to the phone, waiting for a response.

It vibrated again two seconds later.

“‘WTF? Mike…how did you get Jared’s phone?’” he read. He looked up at Jared. “What does that mean?”

Jared snorted.

*

When he got home that night, Y tu mama también was playing on HBO. He watched the whole way through, thinking about stroking Jensen off, fucking into him slow while he gripped the headboard tight—the rungs smudged with fingerprints.

He played hard during practice, body checking, boxing out for a record number of rebounds—trying to exercise off lingering arousal.

“Christ,” Jerry breathed, bent over, palms to his knees. “Where are you getting the energy, man?”

Jared bounced the ball between his legs and then tossed it to Anthony who couldn’t resist dunking it. “Just excited for tomorrow.” They watched Anthony swing on the hoop.

Practice ended with lift. Jared bench pressed at a lower weight because coach didn’t want them to tire out before the game. Drew and Josh were futzing around with a medicine ball. The bright pink plastic flirted out of the corner of his vision. Anthony grunted loudly as he did a series of chin-ups. Nothing, not the plastic smell of the weight room, or the whirr of the treadmill, or his teammates antics stopped Jared from thinking about Jensen’s tongue chasing down his skin. He exhaled and pumped the bar quicker.

“Hey mister, you training for a marathon?”

Jared jerked. He couldn’t be—it wasn’t possible that—Jensen stood over him, face fighting a grin. He dropped the bar back into its cradle with a clang and sat up so fast he nearly knocked his head on it.

“What are you—how can you—” He couldn’t get the question out, he was too busy yanking Jensen forward over the bar, colliding together. Jensen laughed into his mouth and dropped one hand to the cradle to keep his balance.

There was whooping over the other noises of the room and when Jared pulled away he knew his face burned dully.

“Hey, Jared, is that your lady?” Anthony called, grin so huge it looked painful.

Jensen raised a brow at him and Jared tangled their fingers together. “This is Jensen.”

Jensen looked around the room. Everybody stared at them intently, waiting to see what they would do. “Man, I’m the shortest guy in here.”

Elliot turned his laugh into a cough, dropping his dumbbell to the floor. “Jared is the shortest freshman.”

“I am not! Jarrett is the same height!”

“Fuck you! You’re 6’4 and 3/4ths. That counts as 6’4. No rounding up to look taller,” Jarrett shouted back from the other side of the room.

Jared rolled his eyes as Jensen snorted at him. “Whatever, the three best guys on the team are all shorter than me.”

“Aww, baby, you say the sweetest things.” Anthony cracked up. He turned to Jensen. “Also, you’re way too pretty for Jay—I’m sure we could find you somebody a little more in keeping.”

“Like who? Your mom?” Elliot sniggered.

Mitch set his free weights down. “His grandma!”

“Aaaand, we're leaving now.” Jared tugged Jensen out by his elbow. The guys called their goodbyes.

“Don’t forget to bring him to the game.”

“Stick him in with the Sixth Man Club!”

“Tomorrow? He’ll freakin’ be the Sixth Man Club, tomorrow.”

*

“It was 80 degrees last week,” Jared told Jensen after dinner. They sat at the fountain in front of Memod.

Jensen dipped his fingers into the water. “Are you happy here?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?” Jared looked at him. Jensen had frown lines etched into his face. Jared knew the semester had been fitful for him—trying to declare a major, get all of his GEs done.

“I don’t know. I miss you.” The sky was clouded over and washed red from light pollution. “My parents only let me come visit because you were all alone over Thanksgiving."

“Hey, whatever gets you here.” Jared couldn’t help casting a dark thought to Jensen’s parents. Everything would be easier, could be easier, if they were different. Jensen would likely kill himself before admitting it.

Jensen smiled at him, reached out and grabbed his bicep. “You look good. The freshman fifteen suits you.”

“It’s muscle, asshole.” Jared flexed into Jensen’s grip.

Jensen slid his hand around Jared’s body, drawing him in close. “I just lament the fact that a stiff wind can’t blow you over anymore.”

“Wanna protect me, Jensen?” Jared joked, and let his head settle against Jensen’s neck.

“From everything,” Jensen told him seriously, and Jared wondered what was wrong.

*

Jared watched the commentators on the screen.

“Jersey number 7, freshman Jared Padalecki made waves earlier this year by being the first openly gay player in NCAA basketball history and the question on everybody’s mind has been: can his playing stand up to his celebrity?”

“Well, Bob, I think today we’ve seen the first example of that—Padalecki hasn’t let any ball by him and he’s got a beautiful three pointer.”

“We may be looking at a career high in rebounds tonight, too.”

“This just in, apparently, Padalecki’s boyfriend is here rooting for him tonight.”

The camera cut to a shot of Jensen standing with the Sixth Man Club in the bleachers.

“We don’t know much, but apparently he’s a sophomore at Georgetown.”

Jared shut off the TV. Jensen stood in the corner, fingers pressed over his mouth.

“Jensen…” he started. They’d been sitting tense, lungs stopped with lead ever since Chad had first called them and told them to turn on the TV. It had totally ruined the win over Colorado.

Jensen glared over his shoulder and said, “Not. A. Word.”

“I don’t know how they found out about you.” Jared didn’t want this. Jensen had to know that. Jared had spent most of his life with Jensen, he knew his parents, and he knew what this meant. If Jensen blamed him, there wasn’t a whole lot of logic that would speak to him.

“It doesn’t matter!” Jensen shouted, hysterical. “Everybody back home was watching—my parents—Chris—everybody.”

Jared put his head in his hands. “I know, I get it, but—”

“Look, Jared, I’m not mad at you, but I need to be alone for a while.” He picked up his sweatshirt and walked out the front door. Jared didn’t even have time to stop him.

Chad called again fifteen minutes later. “Princess realizes we all knew, right?”

Jared looked out his window, hoping to spy Jensen walking back toward his dorm. “Jensen’s parents didn’t know.”

“Bitch please, they know!” Chad told him. “Why do you think they were always so concerned about him hanging out with you?”

Jared sighed. “I think he’s going to break up with me, Chad.”

“That’s stupid,” Chad said firmly. “Tom and Mikey agree with me.”

*

It didn’t really set in until Christmas how angry Jensen’s parents were. Jensen lasted a day in their house and then turned up on their doorstep at 3 in the morning. Jared’s mom answered the door.

She asked, “Jensen, baby, what happened?”

Jared came thundering down the stairs, just in time to see her shuttle Jensen inside. He had two suitcases at his feet. “I hope it’s okay?” Jensen put forward. He looked ready to join the witness protection program. Jared stood frozen, unsure if Jensen would let him go to him.

Jared’s mom smiled and yawned. “You know you’re always welcome.” She said good night and went back up the stairs.

“They didn’t kick me out or anything,” Jensen said awkwardly. “I just couldn’t stand to be there anymore.”

“Okay,” Jared hoisted a bag up and headed towards his room. Jensen followed behind.

He seemed okay, barely upset. But Jensen probably wouldn’t tell him if he had cancer and only had four months left to live.

He ate Christmas Eve dinner with them and laughed and joked with Jeff. When they said grace he didn’t even look wistful. Jared wished he wouldn’t pretend everything was normal. It made him feel worse.

Mackenzie and Josh showed up during coffee and dessert, wanting to talk to Jensen. The entire family cleared out of the living room to give them space.

“Are they trying to persuade him to go back?” Jeff asked, voice just above a whisper.

Jared shrugged. “I have no idea.”

When the front door shut behind them, Jensen was still in the house. His back was straight, but his eyes were on the floor.

That night, Jensen cried in bed while Jared lay wrapped around him. Jared had given up on reassurances; Jensen didn’t want to hear them. Instead he hoped his body said everything he couldn’t.

*

Jared dropped seven pounds during March Madness just from the stress. They had him starting after both Jerry and Kenny got injured. He was teetering in his stats class, and when he figured out that all the lectures for French Revolution were covered in the reading, he stopped going.

When they played Duke and the announcer called his name before tip-off it was met with boos and shouts. “Fucking fag!” one lone voice projected. It sounded like it had come from the Blue Devils. Mitch and Landry closed in on either side.

“Let it fuel your game,” Mitch said.

Landry nodded sagely. “Like Kobe.”

Jared smiled. “Don’t worry about it, I’m from the south.”

When Jared’s wild lob to Landry under the basket put them ahead by two points at half Anthony kissed him right in front of the cameras. The Stanford band started playing “I Kissed a Girl" while the team cheered.

“We should make it a tradition,” Anthony told him, eyes on the bleachers as the red in the stands went wild.

When he checked his cell-phone at the end of the night there was a text from Jensen: “Wish it had been me.”

*

The season was over by the time Jensen had break. Stanford got knocked out of the Pac-10 finals and Mitch cried into Anthony’s shoulder, while Anthony did his best to look stoic.

“Three more years of losing to go,” Elliot said critically.

Jared chested him with the ball, nearly knocking the wind out of him. “Fuck it, dude, you’re supposed to strive to get better.”

The next day Jared picked Jensen up from the airport and they drove down Route One to Santa Cruz. It wasn’t quite warm enough for the beach, but Jensen still had a burn over the bridge of his nose when they checked into a kitschy bed and breakfast.

They hung out downtown at night, trying to figure out what restaurant to go to. “Do you think I should break up with you? Let you see other people?” Jensen asked, eyes on a crowd of hipster kids smoking and playing with a little dog.

“You’re the only one that I want,” Jared said, and grabbed his hand. Nobody noticed. They’d been to this place before, covered this ground. It would all be fine, Jared had to believe it. He didn’t know why Jensen brought it up now. He didn’t think about it when Jensen bought him leather wristband and then tied it right there at the cash register while the girl grinned at them.

Two weeks later Jensen broke up with him.

*

“Are you upset?” Sandy asked. It was finals week and he paid more attention to his IM chat window than the ten page paper he was supposed to be writing on global nuclear armament. He had the phone wedged between his ear as he organized his notes and kept his eye on a rerun of CSI: Miami.

“I don’t know, I think I’m too busy to be upset.”

“Then maybe it was time.” Hearing that was like hearing his mom had died. Maybe it was time. Jesus, only when Jared decided he was ready.

It didn’t even really hit him until he hooked up with somebody else and the body was unfamiliar territory. He didn’t try it again.

The worst part about breaking up with Jensen, worse than not talking to him every day, worse than thinking about him and feeling that wasn’t allowed anymore, was that they’d gone through so much and eventually, after all that, Jensen just lost interest.

*

Jared only went home for two weeks at the beginning of summer. Jensen was home, but he stayed with Chris. Jared didn’t want to see him, even though Jensen called the house and asked for him.

Tom came by looking like he was locked in a dark room all year long, his skin was so pale. He was going to school on the east coast and barely made it outside, but his smile was still warm. “You up for a game with a mere peon?”

Jared bounced the ball up from the floor and passed it to him. It was already hot, and in the direct sun of the backyard Jared started sweating like a pig. After checking the ball in, Tom slammed into him trying to grab the ball and practically bounced off.

“Jesus, what do you weigh now, 250?” he said, dribbling the ball with one hand and rubbing at his chest with the other.

“Ugh, none of you will stop giving me shit. I’m only 190.” Jared scratched the back of his head and looked away. “We had lift three times a week at 8 am, and when you’re late you have to tug this lead cart thing around the room. I was late like, the entire first half of the semester.”

They played to 21. Tom won by wrapping his arms around him and tugging him away from the basket every single time he went for a shot.

“You suck, man,” Jared said and knocked his shoulder hard.

Tom cackled and shoved him back. He sobered up. “Are you going to Chris’s party?”

Jared rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed. “Shit, Tom.”

“Dude, he still cares about you, he still wants to be your friend.”

Jared raised his eyebrows.

“Why am I always playing couple’s counselor?” Tom asked himself.

Jared grabbed the ball and went in for a layup. “Not that I don’t appreciate it or whatever, but Jensen can’t have it both ways.” He put up another shot and watched it bounce off the rim. “I’ve sucked his dick, I can’t just go back to watching Monday night football and shooting the shit.”

He turned and caught Tom’s facial expression. “Uh, sorry.”

“Nah whatever,” Tom shuddered. “I just got a very clear mental image.”

*

Jared went back to school on June 15th. He got a job in the lab under Dean Long. They called her The Duchess, and she was more absent than present, but occasionally she took phone calls in her office that they all knew had the Obama administration on the other end of the line. If he didn't make it to the NBA, at least he was making connections here.

Another guy who worked in the lab was from Palo Alto, and he showed Jared the little hidden video store in Midtown, the awesome cheap liquor store in Barron Park that didn’t card, and the tiny greasy spoon Chinese place with the best pork buns.

Jared didn’t realize until they were downtown one evening and the guy, John, reached for his hand, that maybe what he’d been doing was dating.

He put the brakes on after that. It wasn’t because of Jensen or anything. He hadn’t thought about Jensen in forever. It wasn’t hard. Jensen wasn’t here. There wasn’t anything that served as a reminder.

Except for the leather cuff he still wore around his left wrist.

*

He got the invitation to Chad and Sophia’s wedding in July. It was an August ceremony.

“What the fuck, Chad!” he said when he called Chad up.

“I don’t know,” Chad replied. “I don’t even know.”

Jared sighed. Chad sounded more surprised than he did. He looked at his calendar. “I’ll be there, I think I can get a plane ticket, if not I’ll take the greyhound.”

“You better well fucking be here, you’re my best man.”

“Seriously?” Jared asked, surprised.

“Yeah, who else would I ask?”

Jared hadn’t thought about it. They were barely 19.

*

Chad fucked up the wedding licenses, and it took every mental faculty Jared had to get them for the wedding ceremony. Chad hadn’t told Sophia, and he spent the entire time hyper-ventilating. Jared almost missed the fitting for his tux, but Sophia would definitely notice if his trousers weren’t long enough.

“I am getting married,” Chad said, as they dragged him home from his stag night.

“If you’re only realizing this now, I can probably take the rings back,” Jared said, shouldering practically all of Chad’s weight.

“No man, sex whenever I want it,” Chad slurred. “So worth it.”

*

At the ceremony, he totally forgot Jensen would even be there. Jared stood with Chad, watching Sophia come up the aisle, when he caught Jensen’s eye. He nearly swallowed his tongue. Jensen looked so sharp in his suit and tie, like a Hugo Boss model. Jared kind of wanted to drown himself in the font of holy water.

When they got to the reception he lamented silently at the cash bar, wondering how hard Chad would try to kill him if he just left after he gave his toast.

“How much have you had?” Chad appeared at his elbow.

The bartender answered for Jared. “He’s only ordered cranberry juice.”

“Really?” Chad turned back to him. “Weak sauce, Jay, you don’t know how to act properly broken hearted.”

Jared snorted. “Like I want to get smashed and start sobbing into the table cloth.”

Chad smiled like he was picturing it. “So, Sophia like, really wants you to ballroom dance, because you were like the only one who got good.”

Jared looked horrified. “Oh man, no!”

“Jared, that’s my old lady!” Chad responded, indignant.

“I think she’ll be way more pissed off that you just called her an old lady.”

Chad glared at him. “Well, do it for me then.”

Jared turned away. “You have to DV-R all of Band of Brothers for me then. And Dexter! You have to actually do it! No pussying out like last time.”

“Whatever, anything you want.”

Jared gave him a look. “You say that now.”

Chad shrugged. The band played some jazz song. All in all, for a teen wedding, it was nice. Jared blanched when he saw Sophia pulling Jensen over. “I take it back.”

“Uh, uh, no backsies.”

“Tell me Jensen’s parents aren’t here!” he cried, gripping Chad’s shoulder tight.

Chad looked at him like he was crazy. “Why would I invite them to my wedding?”

Jared sighed. “Band of Brothers, both seasons of Dexter, and Venture Brothers.”

“Done.” Chad grinned.

“I made that too easy, didn’t I?” Jared replied and Chad inclined his head.

*
Sophia started tapping on her glass with her fork, everybody shouted “speech, speech.”

“Thanks, everybody.” She laughed. “So, my senior year of high school, the school instituted a ballroom dance unit, I’m sure a lot of you remember that with fondness.”

The reception hall erupted in laughter. Jared ducked his head to his chest. “I’m sure what you couldn’t forget is the fact that Easton, our instructor, got so fed up with this whole notion of gender binaries…”

Jared leaned over to Chad. “That is not what happened.”

Chad whispered back out of the side of his mouth, “Shut up, she’s majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies.”

“…and so, two of the people here tonight—one of them sitting up here with us at this table—were forced to dance together, and they did, beautifully, even though it made them uncomfortable.”

Jared cast an eye out over the hall and found Jensen staring up at the ceiling.

“And they’ve agreed to dance for us again tonight, because sometimes, that’s what marriage is—dancing even when it makes you uncomfortable.”

Jared got up and met Jensen in the center of the dance floor, while everybody clapped for them. “Am I going to lead?”

“You’re taller, remember?” Jensen smiled at him. Jared didn’t smile back. The first measures of “Shake It” by Metro Station came on.

Jensen turned and looked over his shoulder at Chad and Sophia. “Oh, they’ve gotta be kidding.”

“We can swing dance,” Jared said. “You remember your rock step?”

Jensen snorted and held up his hands. They didn’t talk as they danced and stuck mostly to the easy moves, because they were nowhere near Lindy Hop caliber. Jared twirled Jensen around, careful not to meet his eyes. The last time he’d done something like this he was more worried about what everybody else thought, but this time, he really didn’t want to know what was going through Jensen’s head. They swung out and then did a hand switch. Jared remembered what it had been like not to know this stuff, and couldn’t believe it was coming back so naturally.

Jensen’s gripped his wrist tightly. Like he was upset. The room swam by, faces lost amid the haze.

Jared was careful to make sure their bodies didn’t touch. He was so focused that he lagged a half second behind when Jensen started the drop and pop at the first “shake shake.”

When they did the pretzel, Jensen’s fingers brushed over the back of his neck just where his collar ended. Jared shivered and looked resolutely above Jensen’s head. He went into the opposing Charleston and didn’t miss the way that Sophia smiled like he’d offered her a shopping spree at Niemen Marcus.

When they got to the final rendition of the chorus, Jared leaned down and whispered, “Are you ready?”

“Jared, I have never done an aeriel!” Jensen whispered, furious.

Jared had already moved into the back-to-back Charleston, and when he locked their arms together, there wasn’t a whole lot Jensen could do when Jared bent down, other than allow himself to be flipped.

Jared steadied him on his landing and the song cut out. All the tables cheered, and Jared spun on his heel and walked right out of the hall.

*

The sprinklers were going off on the lawn when Jared made it outside. It was hot out, windless. Jared felt sweat congealing in the small of his back.

Touching Jensen had been a torture. He smelled just the same, like detergent and grass. He was really glad Chris wasn’t at the wedding, because he was sure he’d hear it from him somehow. Little bastard had been predicting the demise of their relationship since the 6th grade.

Fuck Dexter, Chad owed him an early-model fully-restored Mustang in cherry red. And maybe a home movie theater.

Water sprayed onto the pavement from the sprinklers that shot to life right by his feet. He shot a quick look around. There were two preteen boys futzing around on skateboard in the parking lot, wedding finery mussed, but other than that everybody else was inside dancing and drinking.

“Oh what the hell,” he said, quietly. His tie came loose with two quick tugs. He set it down with his jacket and ran into the spray.

It was shockingly cold amid the evening heat and his dress shoes had no traction against the wet grass. He slid through the next sprinkler, laughing, getting grass under his nails and big long wet streaks down the back of his pants.

He went through two more, before his hair was plastered to his skull and his shirt was so waterlogged he was going to have to wring it out.

“Jared!”

Jared turned around to find Jensen standing at the edge of the lawn.

“What?” he called back, brushing hair out of his eyes.

Jensen made a noise of disgust and then with a shout came dashing in under the arcing jets of water. He miscalculated and got one directly in the chest.

“Jesus,” Jensen said. Water dripped from his eyelashes and Jared stared at him, knowing his expression must be terrible. He looked down and stuck a hand into the sprinkler as it rotated by. Jensen wiped off his face. “Why must I always come running after you?”

Jared looked at him blankly. “You broke up with me.”

“Because you were so busy with the damn basketball team!” Jensen shouted. “I thought it was what you wanted, you barely talked to me anymore.”

“What could I do?” Jared shouted back. “I could barely keep my head above water in March!”

“When did basketball become everything?” Jensen threw his hands out so hard water flicked off his sleeves. “What are you going to do, Jay? Are you going to play for the NBA?”

“If I’m good enough!”

“Jay, you can’t be like us and be in the NBA,” Jensen dropped his head. “It’s just not how things are.”

“That has always been your problem!” Jared snarled. “You have always approached homosexuality like it’s some lamentable condition!” He looked hard at Jensen. “It is what you make of it.”

“That is so easy for you to say, your parents—”

Jared made a noise in the back of his throat. “I get how much everything sucks with your parents, Jensen, I really do, because I was there the entire damn time. But don’t diminish what I’ve gone through. I have allowed the entire world to get into bed with me, to know who I’m fucking, because I thought it was important to stand for something, because I thought: there is nothing wrong with me, and all of you should know that. Have pride, don’t let your parents be right about you.”

Jensen swung like he was going to hit him, but overbalanced on the wet grass tumbling into Jared. They fell right through another jet of water.

Jared reached up to push him off, worried he was going to end up with a black eye, but then Jensen fisted his hands into Jared’s wet shirt and kissed him. Right there, while the two boys on skateboards probably stared at them.

Jared kissed back, pressing his body upwards. He felt lighter than air, like he could float right up off the ground and leave the world behind. He couldn’t stop running his hands down Jensen’s back and making sure he was real, he was still there, it wasn’t just some wish-fueled dream.

The sprinklers rotated right into them, getting them close-range. “Mother of God!” Jensen cried. Jared laughed and held on to him. They were a sodden mess, there was no way they could go back inside now. Jared definitely liked it better that way.

He looked up at Jensen. “It doesn’t work without you, you know.”

“We’re so fucked up,” Jensen said, rolling off and trying to brush blades of grass off.

“I kinda like it that way.” Jensen stared at him. Jared swallowed. “I’m sorry I took you for granted.”

“It’s not—it wasn’t—oh whatever, I don’t care, I forgive you,” Jensen told him, looking embarrassed.

Jared sat up, resting his elbows on his knees. He took a deep breath and said, “Can we be unbroken up?”

“What are you, stupid?”

“I’m going to say that’s a yes on the first question to save myself time.”

*

Tom found them as they were heading for the parking lot. “Oh my God, did you guys have a rumble?”

Jensen looked down at his muddy pants and the deep crescents of dirt underneath his fingernails. “Jared thought it would be a good idea to go running through the sprinklers.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “You didn’t have to go after me.”

Tom looked back and forth between them. “Looks like you made up.” They shrugged and Tom said, “Well, I’m going to go give a speech for poor Chad, since you two are ditching.”

“I’m sure it would be much better than anything I could say,” Jared said, consolingly.

Tom snorted and shooed them off. “Yeah right, go do whatever it is...you guys do.”

“Take me home?” Jared asked Jensen.

Jensen didn’t say anything. He stared at Jared’s wrist. “You never took it off.”

“What?” Jared looked down at his hand at the leather cuff, stained dark with water. “Oh this, no, of course not.”

Jensen kissed him quickly again before walking off to his car. Jared followed after, grinning. “You’re pretty sentimental, Mr. Ackles.”

“Shut up!” Jensen unlocked the car and got in, turning the volume on the radio up.

Jared got in on the passenger side and turned the radio off again. “You are, you’re a big ball of fluff.”

Jensen glared at him and hit the radio dial again. “I will give you orgasms if you shut up!” He backed out of the space quickly, but Jared could see a grin pulling at the corners of his mouth.

Jared leaned back in his seat. “You were going to do that anyway.” The song switched over to Semisonic’s “Closing Time.” Jensen growled and switched off the radio.

*

Jensen proved how unsentimental he was the minute they got up to Jared’s bedroom. He shoved Jared back on the bed and started working his pants open. “I don’t think we’ve ever done it in here.”

“No one’s home,” Jared replied, helping to kick off his pants.

Jensen smiled and shrugged out of his own clothes. “This is really, really stupid.”

Jared snorted and didn’t bother to respond. Jensen looked good naked. Jared couldn’t believe it had been nearly six months since he’d last seen him. His shoulders had filled out even further. He knee-walked up the bed so that he straddled Jared’s thighs.

Jensen pushed Jared’s shirt of his shoulders before skimming his fingertips down Jared’s stomach to curl in the waist band of his shorts. “Can I fuck you?”

Jared ran a hand up his side and nodded. They went slow. It had been awhile. Jared still had stuff in his bag from way back when they were sneaking around and experimenting. Jensen didn’t speak as he prepped Jared, he barely blinked. Jared pressed his face into the pillow and twisted on Jensen’s fingers, jacking his own cock.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, voice breathy.

Jensen traced a slow line from Jared’s jaw to the bony spur of his collar. “I wish I could protect you.”

Jared moaned and gripped his dick a little tighter. He didn’t have to look to know the expression on Jensen’s face. “You’ve gotta just—I’m not going to last.”

Jensen slipped his fingers out and positioned himself between Jared’s thighs. Jared continued to stroke himself, eyes intent as Jensen rolled on the condom.

“Hold on to the headboard,” Jensen said an octave lower than his normal range. Jared shuddered and complied.

Jensen thrust in quickly, hips meeting Jared’s inner-thighs. Jared tipped his head back and drew his legs tighter around Jensen’s waist. Jensen moved slow and merciless, like he’d been thinking about this for a long time. He kissed Jared’s throat and sank down to elbows so that the shift and thrust of his body scraped over Jared’s dick.

The bed pounded against the wall. Jared would’ve been embarrassed if he could think past the spreading warmth in his belly and the way it felt to have Jensen’s breath against his neck. Jared hadn’t had sex in months, and he didn’t have a whole lot of experience, but it was always better with Jensen.

Jensen angled his body just right, hitting Jared’s prostate. He huffed like he’d been doing liners for hours. Jared gripped the headboard so tight he thought his knuckles would split. He arched back into every thrust, trying to feel more of it. Jensen blinked down at him like he couldn’t keep him in focus. His thrusts finally started to speed up. Jared couldn’t get enough air into his lungs.

He came first, and Jensen’s eyes shot open wide. “Did you just—without—” He gasped and tipped over the edge.

*

Anthony called him the day before fall training started. He was the eleventh overall pick in the NBA and sitting pretty over some million dollar contract. “Win one for me, okay man? Don’t let Elliot make us into a fucking disgrace, okay?”

Jared smiled. “You do the same, I don’t want to hear about you ending up in some backwards German league.”

Anthony laughed. “Tell your boy I said hi and that I know a couple of guys if he’s looking for an upgrade.”

“You suck, man,” Jared replied.

“But only figuratively! Ask Mitch!”

Jared said, “I’ll take your word for it.”

He texted Jensen afterwards. Anthony says he can get you an hotter boyfriend if you want one.

He got Jensen’s reply as he was walking to dinner with his roommates.

Do they come with a proportionally appropriate dick?

Jared snorted and texted back, I never knew you for a sizequeen.

You’ve ruined me for other men.

His friends looked at him like he was crazy when he started cackling.

*

Fin

All of the Stanford basketball players mentioned in this fic exist. I’m sure they’d be extremely mystified if they knew they were starring in a J2 romance epic. Er, that might be an understatement. Anthony Goods would probably never kiss men, but obviously Jensen and Jared are actually making out.

Right now.

As we speak.

Tags: au, caught in a spin, est. relationship, fic, j2, jared/jensen
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