At First Sight timestamp for fourtenpm:
Word count: 815
Prompt: a couple years down the road
Of all the amazing, quiet, wonderful things in the world, the smell of the royal stables was the one that always, always felt like home to Jensen.
He paused just inside the wide bay doors, eyes slipping shut as he breathed in the familiar bustle. Winter was drawing to a close and the stables were alive with the anticipation of warmer weather; Jensen didn't actually know how many of the mares were in foal this year, but he had no doubt that all the stable workers would be running off their feet trying to keep up when the foaling season arrived in earnest.
In fact, Jensen had spent years disliking Spring for just that reason: it wasn't easy for a blind prince to find excuses to visit the stables and it had always rankled to get permission only to find that the reason he'd wanted to come was too busy to talk to him. At least now Jensen no longer needed to come to the stables just to see Jared.
Except for today, apparently.
"I figured we'd be seeing you down here," Jim said, and Jensen opened his eyes to find the stablemaster standing a few feet away, watching him with an easy, almost fond, expression on his face.
"He's here then?" Jensen asked, though, really, he hardly needed to. It wasn't as though Jared would have gone anywhere else.
Sure enough, Jim nodded and jerked a thumb back over his shoulder. "Up in the hayloft. Again."
"Thank you," Jensen said and headed off to collect his wayward husband.
"Tell him that the next time he does this I'm going to put him to work!" Jim called after him.
Jensen couldn't help but smile. "He'd probably take you up on that," he called back. "Just make sure it's something he won't get in trouble for!"
The hayloft was dim and still; the rungs of the ladder creaked under Jensen's feet as he climbed up. The deep green of Jared's tunic was immediately visible amid the stacked bales of hay and it made something twinge regretfully in Jensen's chest. He knew how much Jared hated that sort of thing. Even after all this time, Jared still wore the most unobtrusive colours he could get away with, but the browns and tans of his old life were gone for good.
Jared was lying flat on his back with his arms crossed behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. He didn't so much as twitch as Jensen walked over.
Jensen settled down in the hay at Jared's side and wrapped his arms around his knees. "You alright?"
"Sorry," Jared said, with the same honest embarrassment he always wore in situations like these. "Just needed some air."
"That doesn't answer my question."
Jared sighed. "Is 'not really' an acceptable response?"
"As long as it's honest," Jensen said. "Anything I can do?"
"Not be a prince?" Jared tried, though Jensen could tell his heart wasn't in it.
Jensen smiled at him, fond and a little sad. "I would if I could," he said, and he meant it. Anything for Jared.
"I know. I guess it's pretty pathetic, getting frightened by treaty negotiations."
"Maybe a little," Jensen said, keeping his tone light. "Though Lord Melchett's moustache is fairly horrifying."
Jared laughed like he hadn't meant to. "Not as bad as the disapproving face Lady Beckett was wearing; I think she would have set me on fire with her eyes if she could." He sighed again, deeply. "I'm sorry, Jensen."
"Nothing to be sorry for," Jensen said firmly. He tugged Jared's arm out from under his head and twined their fingers together. "You've looked out for me since we were kids. It's still my turn to look out for you."
"You'd think I'd have got over this by now," Jared grumbled, though Jensen could see that the tense line of his shoulders was easing. "It's just, sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, you know?"
Jensen thought of sunny afternoons when he couldn't go outside without getting a blinding headache, the way too many bright colours still made him feel dizzy, the days when he locked himself in his cabinet room and put on one of his old blindfolds to block out the world for just a little while.
And then he thought about Jared and knew just how small a price all that was to pay for what he had.
"I do," Jensen said, shifting down to lie in the hay beside Jared. "But it's worth it, right?"
And Jared finally gave him the smile Jensen had fallen in love with before he'd ever even seen it. "Yeah," he said, tugging Jensen in close. "It is."
Jensen snuggled in beside him and, surrounded by the scent of hay and horses and Jared, wondered once again why he'd needed his eyes to tell him that this was exactly where he's always wanted to be.
Gratuitous Kitten Pin-ups timestamp for oddishly:
Title: Sand, Cats and Other Hazards of Military Deployment
Word count: 830
Prompt: just your friendly neighbourhood __x__ (where x = Commanding Officer)
If there was one thing that Jared was not going to miss about Afghanistan - besides the obvious - it was how he always seemed to end up with sand in his food.
Chad snorted. "Of all the four million reasons you could hate being on tour, your biggest complaint is that the food is crap? Man the fuck up already, Jared."
"I'm an American citizen," Jared said. "It's my God-given right to have ketchup that isn't gritty."
They were in the mess after several days spent patrolling under the baking hot sun and Jared wanted nothing more than to inhale enough food to shut his stomach up and then collapse in bunk for a few hours of sleep.
"Like fuck it is. Does Jenny know what a prissy princess you've turned into since you joined the army?"
Jared leveled a half-hearted glare at Chad. "Shut up. I'm gonna tell him you called him that."
Chad clapped his hands to his face, mouth rounding out into an 'o'. "Oh, no! Not your violin-playing boyfriend! He might Mozart me to death!"
"Douchebag." This time, Jared's glare was accompanied by a punch in the arm. "He's more than capable of kicking your ass to the curb and you know it."
"The fuck am I going to-" Chad's eyes landed on something over Jared's shoulder and he started out of his chair, arm swinging into a hasty salute.
Jared was on his feet and saluting immediately, even though he didn't have the faintest idea who might be standing behind him. It was entirely possible that Chad was fucking with him - it had happened before - but Jared would rather look like a fool than not give due respect to a superior office.
"At ease, gentlemen," an amused voice said behind him and Jared relaxed as he shifted into parade rest.
"Thank you, sir," he said, turning to face the owner of the voice.
Sergeant Jeff Morgan had been with their unit for nearly all of Jared's tour and he had a reputation for being strict but personable, friendly but professional. They all loved him, Jared included, even if he was the very last person anyone wanted to be reported to for not living up to his very precise standards.
Right now, Sergeant Morgan was standing in front of him, his uniform immaculate and a bundle of tan fur and big eyes cradled in the crook of one arm.
"Private Padalecki," the Sergeant greeted. "Private Murray."
"Sergeant," Chad and Jared answered in tandem, though Jared was the only one to follow that up with an "and Jackles" aimed at the general vicinity of the Sergeant's chest.
Jackles meowed and Jared didn't even bother hiding his grin.
Sergeant Morgan held out the cat. "I believe, Private Padalecki, that this belongs to you."
"Technically, I think she still counts as the unit mascot," Jared said, reaching out for the offered cat regardless. Jackles immediately swarmed up his chest and curled herself over his shoulders, purring insistently into his ear. "Or, one of them, anyway."
"Mm, yes. But only for another month, I believe?"
"26 days," Jared corrected automatically and bit back a wince. Counting down the days in front of his C.O. probably wasn't the brightest idea he'd ever had.
Sergeant Morgan smiled. "Tired of the sand, are you?"
"Tired of not getting laid, more li-ow!" Chad rubbed at his shin and glared at Jared. "Motherf-"
"Thank you, Private Murray," Sergeant Morgan said, sounding amused again. "That will be all." His attention shifted back to Jared. "So you've got someone waiting at home for you, Private?"
"Yes, sir," Jared said, not elaborating. His orientation wasn't exactly a secret, but that didn't mean it was worth the hassle of making it public knowledge, either.
The understanding in Sergeant Morgan's eyes suggested that he knew what Jared wasn't saying, but chose not to comment. "And do they know you're bringing home four cats with you?"
"Yes, sir. It was quite the challenge getting hi- erm, Jen to agree to it, though." The original deal had actually been for six, but Sasquatch had died not long after Jared found them - too sick to respond to the care he'd been given - and Jenny-Bean had disappeared after somehow sneaking onto one of the jeeps when it went to the closest town.
"I have no doubt." Sergeant Morgan gestured at Jackles. "Try and convince that one to stay out of trouble, you hear me? The airport tarmac is no place for cats."
"Yes, sir," Jared said. "Thank you, sir."
Sergeant Morgan nodded. "As you were," he said, before turning on his heel and leaving the mess.
Jared looked down at Jackles, who was now kneading at the collar of his jacket, and shook his head fondly. "Troublemaker."
Jackles meowed at him, a picture of perfect innocence that Jared didn't buy for a second.
Jensen wasn't going to know what hit him when they all got home. Jared couldn't wait.
The Heart of Everything timestamp for cherie_morte:
Word count: 645
Prompt: Jensen introduces Jared to MORE dragons
Absolutely everything hurt.
"Was that all of them?" Jared asked, fighting very hard to keep from collapsing right where he stood. "Please tell me that was all of them."
Jensen nodded. "Some of them fled but we'll be gone before they can bring reinforcements." He straightened his glasses almost absently, smearing blood on his sleeve in the process. Thanks to Misha's air support, he'd managed to avoid going scaly this time, which left him wearing considerably more clothing than he'd usually have at this stage in the proceedings. Jared had yet to decide whether he considered this a good thing or not.
"Thank Vente." Jared stretched out long, hands pressed to the small of his back as he groaned. "I want to sleep for a week. Why didn't you warn me that saving dragonkind was going to be so much work?"
"I did. You didn't listen." Jensen's head swiveled abruptly, his body going taut and still. "Wait here."
"Gladly," Jared said and promptly slumped against the closest wall, shutting his eyes on a shaky sigh. Something clattered heavily to the floor at his feet but Jared didn't pay it any mind; it seemed like there were always bits falling off his gear these days. He'd have been able to make it more durable if he still had a proper workshop to craft in, but freedom fighting wasn't exactly a lucrative business so he had to make due with what they had.
Jared concentrated on breathing until he started feeling less dead, at which point he started to wonder what was taking Jensen so long; it didn't usually take much convincing to get a dragon safely out and away. He levered himself cautiously upright, fisting one hand and then the other to make sure his gloves were still functional despite the missing cogs.
The slow scuff of feet had Jared tensing, ready to kick his boots to life at the first sign of trouble, but then he heard the low murmur of Jensen's voice and relaxed with a will that was very nearly as conscious as not. Being agitated around a dragon was not a good idea. Especially for an armed mechanist.
Jared had his mildest, most reassuring smile ready when Jensen rounded the corner, but nearly lost his calm entirely when he saw who was trailing him.
They couldn't have been more than five years old, and similar enough in appearance that they had to be twins. Their clothes were plain and overlarge, obviously stolen from some deceased guards, though not enough to hide all of the damage that had been done to them in the name of progress. Their exposed skin was pocked with angry-looking sores and their hair was grimy and lank. They were in nowhere near the worst shape of the dragons that Jared and Jensen had found, but the fact that they were children made Jared's stomach want to revolt in a way it hadn't since he'd seen the horror of Jensen's skin peeling off along with his clothes in Jared's bath house all those years ago.
The little dragons stared mutely at Jared, eyes wide and frightened and hands tightly clasped together.
"Teyla, Kendrin," Jensen said, in the gentlest tone Jared had ever heard him use. "This is Jared, my mate. He's here to help."
"Hi," Jared said to them, crouching down to their level. "Let's get you out of here, huh?"
One of them nodded, wariness and hope warring on a too-young face, and Jared's gut clenched. A glance at Jensen revealed an expression torn between anger, gut-wrenching loss and a fierce, fiery love. Jared couldn't even breathe sometimes for how much he loved him.
They were going to put a stop to this. All of it. But right now, they had a couple of scared little children who needed the chance to learn how to smile.
Learn to Glow for Other's Good timestamp for amindaya:
Word count: 900
Prompt: five stars, no problem
Jared was starting to suspect that his older brother was a wizard. It was the only explanation he could come up with for how Jeff had managed to convince him and Jensen to babysit for an entire weekend while he and Carol went off on some romantic getaway.
Not that Jared didn't like spending time with his niece. She was a five-year old spitfire with wild hair and a gap-toothed grin and Jared was absolutely man enough to admit that she had him wrapped around her little finger. Any other day he'd be happy to babysit, but it was harder to muster up his usual enthusiasm when Jensen, who wasn't exactly what you'd call good with kids, had to deal with Becca right along with him.
Especially when Becca was kicking up a screaming fit of absolutely biblical proportions.
"Come on, Becca," Jared said, with more than a little entreaty in his voice. The whole 'don't let them see the fear in your eyes' thing really wasn't working for him right now. "We've got the whole weekend to play! Don't you want to do all the cool stuff that your Mommy and Daddy won't let you do?"
"No!" Becca screamed, which was pretty much the only word Jared had managed to get out of her for a good twenty minutes. Which was maybe better than 'I miss my Mommy!' but not by much.
"We can have ice cream," Jared tried. "And watch Toy Story. And stay up past your bedtime."
"No, no, no, no, no!"
Jared took a deep breath, looking for the quiet space inside him where Becca's distress wasn't thinning out his patience. He'd started learning how to meditate after Jensen's doctor had sat the pair of them down and explained exactly what it meant to be psychically bonded to an empath; Jared was a pretty even tempered guy, but it made him feel better to know that he could rely on that training to keep him from hurting Jensen by accident.
Normally, a screaming kid wouldn't even have shown up on Jared's radar of stuff that made him want to tear his hair out. He had a big family and Jared was used to running around after rugrats of all sizes and temperaments. But he'd never done so while worrying about how all that childish misery was affecting his empathic boyfriend.
All he wanted was for Becca to calm the hell down now before she broke Jensen. Which was clearly working out just great.
"Jared," Jensen said, and Jared twisted around to see Jensen standing a few feet away, watching the proceedings with an expression that - as always - gave no indication of what was going on inside his head.
"Sorry," Jared said sheepishly. "I never would have-" he dodged a flailing leg and raised his voice to be heard over Becca's crying, "-you know. If I'd realized it was going to be like this."
"Smile for me," Jensen said unexpectedly, as though Jared hadn't said a word. Jared offered him a confused little grin and Jensen shook his head. "Properly, Jared."
Completely lost, Jared nevertheless summoned up the brightest grin he could manage considering the fact that his niece was flailing on the floor trying to make the Vietnam War look like a heated game of checkers.
Jensen stared at him for a long moment, then nodded, strode forward and knelt down on the floor beside Jared.
"Jens-" Jared started, and nearly swallowed his tongue when Jensen reached out and touched the side of Becca's face.
Becca's tantrum cut off abruptly enough to make Jared's ears ring in the sudden silence. She blinked up at Jensen curiously. "Uncle Jensen?"
"Becca," he said. "Why don't you go play for a while. Uncle Jared and I will come join you in a minute."
"Okay!" Becca said easily. She pushed herself to her feet and scrubbed absently at the tear tracks on her face. "Can we have chicken fingers for dinner? And ice cream?"
"We'll see," Jensen said with the same calm confidence in which he said everything. Jared bet that a lot of parents wished they knew how to do that with their own kids. "Go on now."
Becca dashed off immediately, looking no worse for the wear after her tantrum.
Jared stared at Jensen. "Um?"
"I replaced her unhappiness with a more positive mix of emotions," Jensen said. "She should behave now."
Jared felt his mouth drop open. "You can do that?"
Over their bond, Jared felt the emotional equivalent of Jensen rolling his eyes. It was a pretty common occurrence. "I'm a level five empath, Jared. I could make a serial killer cry if I wanted to."
"I had no idea."
Jensen shrugged. "Why do you think they employ empaths in the government?"
It was a good point. "But if you can calm people down by thinking at them, why don't you just-"
"It disturbs me," Jensen interrupted, his voice somehow even flatter than usual. "Touching other people's selves. Corrupting emotions. Theirs. Mine."
"Jensen…" Jared reached out and Jensen came easily, fitting in against Jared's side like he'd always been there. "I'm sorry."
Jensen shrugged again. "It's nothing to be sorry over. Keeping one little girl from crying isn't overly harmful. Having you here helps." Amused fondness uncurled in Jared's gut.
"Really?" Jared hugged him closer. "How's that?"
"Easy. I just gave her what your smile feels like."
Photo Ninja timestamp for blackrabbit42
Title: The Hazards of Twitter Pics
Word count: 415
"Jared?" Jensen's voice called from the kitchen, and Jared wandered in to find Jensen sat in front of his laptop, staring at the screen with both eyebrows arched nearly to his hairline.
"Did you lend Misha your camera?" Jensen asked. His voice sounded strange.
"Yeah," Jared said, detouring over to the fridge to grab a drink. "The one on his phone broke and god forbid Misha go anywhere without a camera to take pictures of random shoes and stuff."
"And did you wipe the memory chip before you gave it to him?"
"Uh…" Jared pursed his lips in thought. "I don't think so? I never really pay that much attention. You want a Coke?"
"I think you'd better come over here," Jensen said instead of answering. He sounded enough like Dean Winchester that Jared immediately shut the fridge and headed over to stand behind Jensen's chair. "Why, what's going… on…"
The computer was open to Misha's Twitter page and Jared was horrified to see that their mad costar had posted a collage of photographs labeled 'An Homage to Jensen Ackles from the Camera of Jared Padalecki'. There were pictures of Jensen barbequing on their back deck, of Jensen's triumphant grin when he beat Jared in a pickup game of basketball, of the curve of Jensen's body as he lazed on the couch, nothing but Jensen, Jensen, Jensen in all his casual, unselfconscious glory. And Jensen hadn't known any of them even existed before this exact moment.
Jared was in so much trouble.
"Funny thing," Jensen said, in a dangerously mild tone of voice. Jared wondered if it was too late to start running. "I'm pretty sure I would have noticed you asking to take my picture all those times."
"Probably," Jared agreed, because that was nothing but the truth.
Jensen arched an eyebrow at him. "Anything to say in your defense?"
This would probably have been the ideal time to think of something apologetic and loving to say that would explain to Jensen how he was just too wonderful for Jared to not take pictures of him. Instead, Jared promptly displayed his stunning ability to speak without any meaningful input from his brain when he answered, "At least he didn't post any of the ones of you sleeping?"
The silence that followed made Jared cringe right down to his toes.
"You are sleeping on the couch for the rest of your life," Jensen said finally.
Definitely wiping the memory chip first, next time.
Superheroes Suck, or, The Unfortunately Extraordinary Life of Jensen Ackles timestamp for cassiopeia7:
Title: My Dress Code Encourages Spandex
Pairing/Character: Jared (gen)
Word count: 775
Prompt: [Spoilers for original story]Jared accidentally observes Gunner doing his laundry
If it wasn't for the no pets policy, Jared would totally live at work.
He trudged down the hallways with his duffel bag over one shoulder, feeling like someone had been beating him with sticks all day. Which wasn't far wrong, though it was certainly better than the half-dead feeling he'd had earlier. He'd face planted into his bed after his instructor had released him, napped for a couple of hours then got up and took a shower that felt divine on tired muscles. Beth had stuffed him full of risotto when he'd staggered into the cafeteria wearing his best 'I'm pathetic - love me!' face and Jared had every intention of going back for some cherry pie once he'd got the rest of his chores out of the way.
Which, in this case, meant doing some laundry so he didn't have to show up to work tomorrow in his boxer shorts. It wouldn't have been the first time, but Jared did try to be at least sort of professional more often than not.
"Hey, Jim," he said as he walked past the man's desk. "How're things?"
Jim took one look at him and rolled his eyes. "We do have a dress code, Padalecki."
"What?" Jared glanced down at his dirt-encrusted jeans, stocking feet and complete lack of shirt. "I've got my security badge on. And there's a gun down the back of my pants."
"Ready for anything, huh?" Jim said dryly.
Jared grinned. "Of course."
"Is that really the kind of bullshit they're teaching you upstairs?"
"Among other things." Jared hoisted his bag higher and waved a hand. "Gotta go. See you for the game on Thursday?"
"Only if you promise to wear a shirt."
"Does that mean the pants are optional?"
Jim buried his head in his hands and Jared hurried down the hall before Jim recovered enough to throw something at him. He swiped his security card to get into the laundry room and stepped into the smell of warm fabric and citrus.
A guy Jared didn't know was leaning against the washing machine, legs crossed at the ankles and his nose buried in a book. He was about Jared's size, with dark shaggy hair and a seriously impressive work-out regime.
"Hi," Jared said and the guy looked up.
"Hey," he greeted, with a movie star smile. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
Jared grinned back. "No worries. I think I've more than earned the right to stand around doing nothing today."
The guy tilted his head, eying the scattering of bruises all over Jared's torso with an understanding little smile. "Field training?"
"How'd you guess?" Jared dropped his duffel bag on the counter with a groan. "I'm starting to think the army would have been the easier option."
"Not as much fun, though."
"Gotta agree with you there, man."
The guy returned to his book and an easy silence fell over the room, broken only by the rumble of the washing machine and the flip of pages. Jared amused himself by sorting through the mass of dirty laundry he'd scavenged from his room upstairs. There were enough dress shirts in there to make him look like the uninspired code monkey he was supposed to be, though the severe wear and tear (emphasis on the tear) on them was a little more suspect. The rest of it was mostly jeans and t shirts which somehow managed to be in even worse shape. Jared made a mental note to go clothes shopping this weekend. Again.
Eventually, the washing machine stopped and the guy put aside his book to pull out his sopping wet laundry. He had the same mix of business and casual that Jared did, as well as a truly staggering amount of chaotically green spandex that made both of Jared's eyebrows raise.
"That is a lot of green," he noted innocently.
The guy looked amused. "My favourite colour." He finished dumping his clothes in the basket, then picked it up and started towards the door.
"You're not using the dryer?" Jared couldn't help but ask.
The guy looked amused. "It's not so good for spandex." He dropped Jared a wink. "See you again, Jared."
Jared grinned widely. "Oh, I'll just bet you will. And maybe when my boss 'introduces' us when I get assigned next week you'll tell me your name, Mr. Superhero."
"Maybe. Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise." The guy headed for the door, throwing an easy, "Later", over his shoulder as he went.
Left alone in the room, aching, tired and stuck with at least two loads of laundry, Jared couldn't help but laugh in sheer delight. His job was awesome.
Sweet Touch timestamp for tebtosca:
Title: The Art of Not Helping
Word count: 460
Prompt: finger licking good
"What part of 'get the fuck out of my kitchen' do you not understand, Jared?"
"But…" Jared lingered awkwardly in the doorway, twisting his fingers in the hem of his shirt to keep them out of trouble.
Jensen shot him an unamused look over the chaotic shambles of the kitchen counter. There were dirty pans everywhere, boxes of ingredients shoved into the corner and a blob of butter smeared alongside the sink faucet. A cutting board piled high with diced vegetables sat waiting next to a pot on the stove and Jared's stomach grumbled faintly at the smell of cooking beef. Jensen's apron was liberally dusted with corn meal, as was the countertop, his shirt sleeves and, judging from the extent of the mess, probably the floor. Jensen had both hands buried in a bowl of bread dough and was kneading at it with a lack of finesse that made Jared want to cringe.
"Stop it," Jensen said, and Jared belatedly realized that he had started forward again, hands reaching automatically for the stove. "For the last time, I am making you dinner and you are not allowed to help."
"Can't I just-"
"No." Jensen huffed out a sigh. "Jared, I am perfectly capable of making chili. And corn bread," he added, when Jared opened his mouth to protest. "Honest. I've done it a hundred times. This is me doing something for you."
"But I want to help," Jared said, aware that he was dangerously close to pouting.
"And I want to do this myself. Tough luck." Jensen's expression softened. "You can help next time, okay?"
Jared nodded reluctantly. "Okay," he said, then added, "But I still brought dessert."
"Good," Jensen grinned. He winked at Jared. "I can't bake worth a damn. And I figured you might have a heart attack if I tried to feed you the store bought stuff, so I didn't get anything. Good to see you're on top of things."
Jared considered his options for about half a second, then darted into the kitchen and shut Jensen up with a kiss before he could start bitching about it. He tasted like tomato and spices and Jensen, which was just perfect.
After a moment, Jensen planted a hand on Jared's chest and pushed him away, leaving a powdery handprint behind. "Enough of that," he said with a lopsided grin. "I have cooking to do."
"Okay." Jared turned to go back into the living room, then paused. "You're sure you don't…?"
Jensen laughed. It was a fantastic sound. "I'm sure. Now go away."
"Worth a shot," Jared shrugged, then obediently headed back into the living room to wait for Jensen's culinary masterpiece to be completed. He wondered what the cooking channel was showing right now.
They Say I'm a Dreamer timestamp for blackrabbit42:
Title: The Pre-Question Question
Word count: 715
Prompt: Jensen doing something out of his comfort zone
Do not panic, Jensen told himself firmly. Do not panic, do not panic…
The door opened.
"Jensen," Jared's mama said, sounding pleased but confused. "What a surprise!"
Jensen opened his mouth to deliver his pre-prepared greeting and was absolutely mortified when all he managed was a feeble, "H-hi, Mrs. P."
"Sherri," she reminded him, for the hundredth time. Jensen sort of hoped that she gave up soon; his brain clearly wasn't getting the message. She took a single look at him, nervous and awkward on her front porch, and pulled the door open wider. "Come in, come in. Jerry's working in the garden but I'm sure he'll be happy to see you as well. You did want to talk to both of us, I assume?"
"I-" Jensen tried, completely overwhelmed by the ruthlessly efficient way in which she bustled him into the house, divested him of his coat and shoes and steered him into the living room.
"Thought so. Now you just sit here for a moment and I'll get you something to drink. Coffee okay?"
Sherri vanished into the kitchen and, for wont of anything better to do, Jensen sat on the couch and stared at the floor until she came back, coffee in hand and Jared's father at her heels. There was the requisite minor chaos of getting settled, accepting drinks and exchanging pleasantries and then Jensen was sitting - alone, no Jared warm at his side - in Jared's parents house, while Mr. and Mrs. Padalecki smiled at him encouragingly. His mind went blank.
Stop panicking, he told himself. Stop panicking, stop panicking, stop…"
"I, uh," Jensen started and middled and, eventually, ended. His hands were shaking, he noticed. He put down his mug before he could drop it and clasped his hands tightly together. "Sorry for just showing up but I didn't want Jared to… I mean, I was going to ask him but I thought it was maybe better if… I mean, if first I…" Jensen hated himself. He tried again, slowly. "To ask you. First. Before he gets too… Jared."
"Son," Jared's papa gravely. Jared could never have pulled off that sober tone but the way Mr. Padalecki's mouth curled up at the edges like he just couldn't help but smile was exactly like his son. "Are you asking for our permission to marry Jared?"
"No!" Jensen said immediately, then, "Well, no. Not right now. Because that's, I can't… Jared wouldn't-"
Jared's parents waited while Jensen fought the impulse to start hyperventilating, infinitely patient with him. Just like Jared. Jensen didn't know what he'd done to deserve any of them.
And that was why he was here in the first place, so he screwed up his breath and his courage and blurted, "I want you to meet my parents. For dinner. Please. Because he, Jared… he's it for me. And I thought you might want to know them in case… yeah. They're, um, looking forward to it?"
Jensen was blushing to the tips of his ears by the time he stammered to a stop and he fidgeted anxiously, not quite daring to look away from his white-knuckled hands.
"We'd love to meet your parents, Jensen," Jared's mama said and Jensen glanced up warily. The fond, approving looks that she and her husband were giving him only made Jensen blush harder.
"Oh. Y-you're sure you-?"
"Of course," Jared's mama said. Her smile showed off her dimples. "You know we love you, Jensen. I'm sure we'll love your parents just as much."
Jared's papa nodded. "Although you've got one thing wrong," he added and Jensen just about died.
"Jared would. If you asked." Mr. Padalecki winked. "So get on that, you hear?"
"Yes, sir," Jensen managed and proceeded to go mildly catatonic for the rest of his visit. Jared's parents filled in the silence effortlessly; Jared had warned them about that right from the start and they'd always been good about putting up with Jensen's… failings. Jensen was absolutely certain that there wasn't a luckier person (imaginary or otherwise) on the world than him.
He was already looking forward to seeing Jared's face when he told them what they were doing for Thanksgiving. And maybe one day he'd get up the nerve to go ring shopping after all.
To the Stars and Back timestamp for dugindeep:
Title: On the Job Training
Word count: 425
Prompt: You're not gonna get away with this
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."
"No. You don't."
"I'm pretty sure I do." Jared flashed a hopeful smile, which was somehow still charming even when he was covered in blood (his) and brown ichor (not his). "Come on, Jensen! How am I going to be a good colony agent if I can't talk the talk? You're supposed to be teaching me this stuff."
"Jared," Jensen sighed. "While I am pleased to see that you're interested in becoming less completely useless, there is no planet in the solar system on which the ability to say 'you're not gonna get away with this' in Swas is a vital skill."
Jared's expression shifted into open-mouthed horror. "Jensen Ackles, bite your tongue! Of course it's vital! It's the most vitally vital thing to ever vital!"
"Now you're just being ridiculous."
"Jensen." Jared took Jensen's hands in his own, taking care to avoid the stub of the thumb that Jensen was going to have to have grafted back on. Thank god for alien tech. "Can't you just tell me? I swear I'll go back to learning the boring stuff after."
Jensen rolled his eyes. "First off, I really don't see how 'hands up or I shoot' is boring. And second, you have the terrible tendency to taunt people who have you tied up at gunpoint which is bad enough when they can't understand what you're saying. I don't really feel like watching you get shot any more than you already do."
Jared sniffed haughtily. "Oh ye of little faith. I can totally taunt people and not get shot. Remember that time on Pluto with the Mork smuggling thing?"
Despite himself, Jensen had to grin. "Okay, that was pretty awesome. Doesn't make up for you getting yourself jettisoned into space off that Frnjish ship, though."
"Eh, that's part of the fun. Will you tell me if I promise not to say it at our wedding?"
"You're not going to leave this alone, are you?"
Jared beamed. "Nope."
Jensen sighed heavily. "Hwkate pa korb," he told him.
"Hwkate pa korb?" Jared tried, mangling the accent entirely.
"I despair of you completely."
Jared grinned broadly. "You do realize that you're going to have to teach me this in every language now, right?"
"Lasik we," Jensen said, with the accompanying hand gesture.
Jared laughed. "You too, princess. Come on, let's go get cleaned up."
If nothing else, Jensen thought as he let Jared pull him to his feet, at least Jared was always going to be able to swear like a native.
Volunteer Firemen Do It for Free! timestamp for oddishly:
Title: Green Alcohol Kisses
Word count: 670
Prompt: say cheese!
If Jensen had learned anything from two years of dating Jared, it was that firefighters were fucking rowdy in big groups. And they only got worse with the addition of alcohol.
Now, with pretty much the entire firehouse crew stuffed into the bar getting merrily plastered along with all of Jared and Jensen's other friends, Jensen was starting to think he hadn't seen anything yet.
"To the birthday boy!" Mike shouted and the whole room echoed him and threw back whatever drink was closest to hand, whether it was theirs or not. A brief scuffle broke up at the far table and Jensen snapped a picture of Colin half-hanging off Brock's shoulders and yelling at him for stealing his beer. The kid was gonna be mortified when he sobered up; who knew Colin had such a foul mouth?
A shot glass was shoved under Jensen's nose and he jumped as a beaming Jared materialized scant inches away from him. "Jesus, Jared!"
"Shots!" Jared said happily, bright-eyed and already three sheets to the wind. Jensen wasn't at all surprised; Jared had had a lot of birthday drinks.
So Jensen smiled and put a steadying hand around Jared's before he could cover both of them in alcohol. "So I see. What is it?"
"Anti-freeze! S'green, just like you." Jared's voice lowered into a whisper that could probably be heard four tables over. "I know it's not easy being green but I still like you best."
"I can't tell if you quoting Kermit the Frog is a sign that I need to cut you off or that you should drink more."
"Enough stalling, Ach-Ackles!" Jared pushed the glass insistently at Jensen's face and Jensen laughed.
"Alright, alright already!" He accepted the shot and threw it back in one long, smooth slide. "Happy?" he asked, swiping his tongue across his bottom lip to catch the last traces of vodka and citrus.
"Not yet," Jared said and that was all the warning Jensen got before he found himself being kissed to within an inch of his life, Jared's broad hands framing his face and the taste of alcohol sharp between them. It was a sloppy, hungry kiss, the kind that would have had Jensen practically tearing off their clothes to get skin to skin if they hadn't been in a very crowded bar full of very drunk firefighters who were already far too invested in his and Jared's relationship for Jensen's continued mental well being.
"No," Jared whined when Jensen pulled back. "Jen…"
Jensen cuffed him lightly upside the head. "Later. Unless you want to end up naked on the cover of this week's paper. And no, that is not an option."
Jared pouted at him. "It's my birthday. You're supposed to do what I want."
"Afraid not, sunshine. But I can help you remember this in the morning. Come here."
Jensen hooked an arm around Jared's shoulders and reeled him in close. He held up the camera in the general direction of their heads. "Say cheese!"
"Cheese!" Jared parroted obediently and the flash nearly blinded them both when it went off. "I'm gonna go drink more," Jared told Jensen, with the profound gravity characteristic of the very drunk. He dropped a messy kiss on Jensen's nose, grinned broadly and bounded off.
"Jared!" Tom's voice exclaimed and Jensen glanced over to see Jared being pulled down in front of a double line of shot glasses by Tom and some guy Jensen didn't know. "Why aren't you drinking?"
Jensen rolled his eyes, paused briefly when it made the room spin, then lifted the camera to zoom in on Jared picking up the first glass. He was going to have to peel Jared off the floor to get him out of here, Christ.
At least the promise of day-after-Jared's-birthday sex and the fire truck-shaped birthday cake in their fridge ought to give Jared something to live for when he felt like dying in the morning. And in the meantime, Jensen was getting some absolutely fabulous blackmail material.
When I Wore a Younger Man's Clothes timestamp for oddishly:
Word count: 560
Prompt: just a spoonful of sugar
There was a knock on Jensen's bedroom door.
"No," he said, not looking up from his book.
The door opened a moment later and Jensen was entirely unsurprised when Jared's head poked round the corner.
"Whatever happened to 'go away'?" Jared asked.
"It's been usurped by the equally appropriate, entirely unequivocal 'no'," Jensen deadpanned as Jared walked in like he owned the place.
"Keats again?" Jared guessed, with a grin in his voice.
Jensen shook his head and tilted the book so Jared could read the cover. "Wordsworth. And my answer's still 'no'."
"But you don't even know what I was going to say," Jared protested.
"I'm not going to Misha's Halloween party," Jensen clarified.
Jared made a face. "Okay, fine, maybe you do know, but that's no excuse."
The mattress dipped dramatically as Jared flung himself on the bed and Jensen glared at him when he got jostled by the movement.
"Do I need to add the 'go away' in after all?" he demanded.
"Come on, Jensen." Jared settled into what Jensen thought looked like a remarkably uncomfortable position: angled and twisted at the waist, head nearly level with Jensen's stomach and both legs hooked over the footboard, one foot on the floor. "It'll be fun."
Jensen did what he thought was an admirable job of resisting the urge to reach out and thread his fingers through Jared's unruly hair. He turned the page instead. "No, it won't. I'm not going. You can tell Misha to go fuck himself sideways."
"Eloquent, but I'm pretty sure that's Vicki's job." Jared snuggled closer and gave Jensen his patented 'hopeful puppy' face. "Please? I've got the most awesome matching costumes and if you make me go by myself I'm going to look like a fool."
"Aw." Jensen patted Jared on the shoulder. "Don't worry, sweetie, you always look like a fool."
Jared wrinkled his nose at him. "Jackass. But seriously, Bert without Ernie is just dumb. You wouldn't do that to me, would you?"
Jensen lowered his book to give Jared a flat look. "You are not seriously expecting me to dress up like a Sesame Street character."
"Nah, I just wanted to see you make that face." Jared grinned. "Kirk and Spock, actually."
Jensen had to admit it. "Okay, that's pretty cool."
Jared brightened. "So you'll come? You're going to look so fucking sexy in the uniform."
"You have a thing about me in other people's clothes, don't you?"
"Not true." Jared leered at him. "I also have a thing for you in no clothes at all."
Jensen rolled his eyes. "My wardrobe and I are deeply offended by that. And still not convinced."
"I can sweeten the deal," Jared said. "Literally and sexually."
Despite himself, Jensen smiled at the expectant expression on Jared's face. "Only you would consider obscene amounts of Halloween candy as an effective bribe for anybody over the age of twelve."
"You're just a candy Scrooge. I'll tell Misha I blackmailed you into coming, if it makes you feel better."
Jensen sighed and very deliberately set aside his book. "I expect a ridiculous number of blowjobs between now and Halloween for this, and if Misha gloats even once the deal's off."
"Gotcha." Jared rolled over onto his side and gave Jensen an absolutely wicked smile. "Guess I better get started, then."
"I'd say so, yes."
When You're a Professional Pirate timestamp for oddishly:
Title: Mug Shots
Pairing: Jared/Jensen pre-slash
Word count: 510
Prompt: I solemnly swear I am up to no good
Jared squinted at the poster. "It's not a very good picture," he said critically.
"It's a wanted poster, Captain," Jensen said, because he apparently though that part of being first mate was being responsible all the time. "It's a good thing if it's not accurate."
"But people are going to think I'm ugly!" Jared pulled the poster off the wall and shoved it at Jensen's face. "It's embarrassing! They're slandering my good name with this… this monstrosity!"
"The resemblance could be closer," was all Jensen said, because it would obviously be too much to ask that Jensen admit he found Jared attractive. The Almighty Lord clearly believed that unrequited love built character.
Jared scowled at the poster. "Dreadful. I'm going to ask the crew," he decided. He started rolling it up. "Maybe one of them will have an idea of how to fix it. Have we picked up anybody who can draw recently?"
"You did hear the part where it's a bad thing if your wanted posters look like you, didn't you?"
"At least the reward is flattering," Jared admitted. He wheeled back to the notice board to look at the other posters. "Higher than most of these others." He grinned proudly. "I'm an awesome pirate."
By this point, Jensen had resorted to rolling his eyes heavenward in a not-unfamiliar bid for patience. Jared wondered if Jensen realized just how often he did that.
One of the posters near the bottom caught his eye. "Oh, look! There's one for you too!"
"What?" Jensen snatched the page out of Jared's hands. "Give me that."
Jared leaned over Jensen's shoulder and considered the drawing of Jensen's face. "This one isn't very good either. I'd be surprised if they ever caught anybody with pictures like these."
"Good news for us," Jensen said dryly, though Jared could detect a hint of satisfaction in his voice all the same. It was kind of a rush, being infamous.
"Well we're definitely going to have to do something about that reward." Jared reached down and tapped at the considerably lower number on Jensen's poster. He thrilled a little at the way he had to half-drape himself over Jensen to do so but thankfully managed to keep most of that to himself. "I'm sure we can double that in no time."
Jensen lowered the paper and gave Jared a no-nonsense look from scant inches away. Jared got distracted by his freckles. "We're going to have to discuss this habit you have of looking for trouble, Captain."
"Nonsense," Jared said airily. "You wouldn't want me any other way."
"It is part of your charm," Jensen agreed with a sigh. Jared's heart jumped. "Though right now, I think your charm would be safer on the boat, Captain."
"Ah ah," Jared chided. "I'm not the only one whose charm got him into this situation." He tugged the poster out of Jensen's grip and rolled it up to join his own. "I am absolutely hanging this up in my cabin."
And who knew? Maybe one day he'd get the real thing in there instead.
Rhyme Without Reason timestamp for katikat:
Title: Three Dog Night
Pairing/Characters: Harry, Thomas (gen)
Word count: 790
Prompt: brotherly bonding
NB: Takes place between Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 of the original fic
For those who haven't had the pleasure of a similar experience, I can tell you that when you come home to a freezing cold apartment after spending several hours hiding from garden gnomes and then haggling with magical creatures over pizza and bagged potatoes, all you really want to do is stagger in the door, pull on your warmest robe and sleep for a week.
I can also tell you that this is absolutely not an option if you own a dog.
Mister and Mouse both rocketed to the door as soon as Thomas and I walked in, because making people trip over you is a universally recognized sign of affection and respect among all four-legged species. I left Thomas to deal with Mister while I tried to field forty-plus pounds of excited puppy. Which, in layman's terms, mostly meant me being licked a lot and Mouse being quite delighted by the fact.
"Hello to you too," I told him. Mouse barked, his entire back end wiggling with excitement along with his tail and I cast one longing look towards my bedroom before reluctantly heading over to collect his leash.
Thomas looked over. "You going out again?"
I nodded wearily. "S'what I get for thinking I was a big boy who was responsible enough to have a dog."
"I'll come with you."
"Uh…" I blinked at him. "I really hope you mean you're going to walk Mouse for me so I can go to bed."
Upon hearing the word 'walk', Mouse immediately went into paroxysms of delight that nearly resulted in him upsetting one of the candles on the table setting the place on fire. Not an uncommon concern in a wizard's house.
One of these days I was going to learn to think before I talked. And then the world was going to end.
"Nope," Thomas said cheerfully. "Come on," he said then, rising from where he'd been crouched to say hello to Mister. Mister had already wandered off to find something to do that didn't involve going outside in sub thermal temperatures.
Clearly Mister was smarter than the rest of us put together.
"I just want the record to note that this is a cruel and unusual punishment," I said, clipping Mouse's leash onto his collar.
Thomas looked amused. "Don't tell me the mighty wizard is afraid of the cold."
"The mighty wizard has a healthy respect for not dying of exposure," I corrected.
"Whatever you say, Harry."
The air outside was windy and bitter, and my entire body protested the relocation by trying to crawl into itself which, while a pretty cool party trick if you can pull it off without dying, was not an especial lot of fun for me. I hustled us down the block, feeling my skin pull taut and my eyes water like someone had just kicked me in the nether regions.
Of course, because the world is a tragic place, I was the only one who appeared at all put out by the miserable conditions. Mouse bounded around with endless, exhausting enthusiasm and Thomas looked like he'd just walked off the catwalk for Calvin Klein's winter lineup, artfully ruffled hair and lightly flushed cheeks included. I mostly looked like a wet, surly bat. It wasn't the most flattering of looks.
"Remind me why you're out here?" I asked Thomas as we trudged through the slush. I'd meant to sound snarky and a little petulant - I was the younger brother, after all, there had to be some perks - but the way my teeth were chattering meant I barely managed string together a collection of sounds that were even vaguely close to what I'd meant to say. Hell's bells, I hate winter.
Thomas smiled his ridiculously charming smile. "Nothing wrong with a little company," he said easily.
"Oh yes, bonding over hypothermia is such fun. You don't have to use that smile on me, you know," I added and he blinked, bemused. "I'm not about to put you out on the pavement for being inhumane enough to make me walk my own dog."
Thomas shrugged. "Maybe I like smiling at you," he said, and I suspected that he rather wished he had chattering teeth to blame for the way it came out heavy and just a little sad.
Neither of us were really used to this whole brothers thing. Though it seemed like I might not have been the only one who wanted to be.
I sighed. "Okay. But next time we're doing something inside. I am not a fan of freezing to death."
Thomas smiled again, just for me. "I'll make some hot chocolate."
Could have been worse. But I was absolutely making Thomas walk Mouse by himself until the weather got better.
~And that's that!