Title: My Land's Only Borders
Fandom: CW RPS
Word count: 2970
A/N: This one is... interesting. I'm not really sure where the idea came from, to be honest, but I still rather like the way it turned out. Title is from Anthem from the musical Chess.
Summary: Jensen figures this is pretty much how a long-distance relationship works, except for the fact that the long-distance part is probably supposed to bother them both more.
Their relationship is maybe more than a little bit strange.
"Hey," the message on Jensen's answering machine says fondly. No matter where in the world Jared is, his voice always sounds that: all rounded vowels and warm welcome. "I'm probably gonna be home in a week or two - you'd better not have changed the locks! Dunno when I'll show up, so don't make plans. Love ya."
The machine clicks off as the message ends and Jensen glances at the call display more out of habit than any expectation that he'll recognize the number. He knows full well that it wouldn't take him long to learn the different international dialing codes - at least then he'll know which country Jared was calling from - but the idea doesn't really appeal. He'd much rather ask Jared in person when he gets back.
Jensen plays the message again, relaxing into Jared's familiar brightness. It's been five months since he's seen Jared, though the most recent postcard on the fridge is only about six weeks old. The postcard says it's from Okinawa, but Jensen knows that's not where Jared mailed it from; Jared's fully aware that Jensen hates having the surprise ruined by something as innocuous as a postcard. Besides, Jared was in Japan the year before last. There's no way he's gone back so soon.
The message ends a second time and Jensen saves it before returning to the front hall to take off his wet coat and shoes. Anybody else would probably have done that the other way round - the mud on his carpet is going to take forever to clean off - but Jensen doesn't let it bother him.
Even when he's not around, Jared always gets first dibs on Jensen's life.
Jensen can't remember when he first met Jared.
Actually, that's a lie. Jensen is more than capable of remembering, he just doesn't. It's not like he needs to; the beginning isn't the important part of their story. The smiles, the postcards, the stories, the quiet nights - they say so much more than some underwhelming first meeting ever could.
He remembers the first time Jared left. And he remembers every single time he comes back. And that's the important part.
Jensen comes home thirteen days later to find Jared sitting on the couch with a smile on his face and a duffle bag at his feet.
"Hey," Jared says.
Jensen shuts the door behind him and shrugs out of his coat. "I would have met you at the airport," he says, just like always.
Jared shrugs, also just like always. "Felt like being a surprise."
"Shouldn't have called last month then. Been expecting you."
"And yet you still come home late."
Jensen shrugs. "Had a hot date."
"Yeah?" Jared arches an eyebrow, not looking the least bit concerned. Neither of them ever have been about that.
"Yeah," Jensen says, and gives Jared a leering little grin. "Helluva cocksucker. Blew me in the bathroom."
"Yeah?" Jared says again. He stands and Jensen takes a moment to marvel all over again at just how overwhelming Jared is in person. Some people, Jensen knows, become more than themselves when they're absent: better, kinder, prettier. Somehow Jared is always less: smaller, dimmer, colder. Jensen's memory of Jared never seems to be able to live up to the real thing. Jensen loves it.
"You should have invited me," Jared says, low with promise, and Jensen gives ground easily when he stalks closer. "Sounds like a fun time."
Jensen fetches up with his back pressed against his front door, one of Jared's hands curled around his hip and the other brushing lightly against his cheek.
"Kind of like you to myself," Jensen admits and the words fall between them like a secret.
"I know the feeling," Jared says and Jensen knows it's the truth.
Jensen's keys clatter to the floor as he fists both hands in Jared's shirt and pulls him down. Jared hums in contentment and bends the last inch to catch Jensen's mouth in a kiss they've both been looking forward to for five months.
Jared tastes like fruit juice and sugar, which doesn't surprise Jensen in the slightest; Jared's never liked coffee. The kiss stays easy and almost chaste for what feels like forever until, ultimately, Jared takes the open offer of Jensen's parted lips to lick his way inside. He takes his time, relearning the curve of Jensen's smile while Jensen does his level best to make Jared forget his own name.
It's several long, unhurried minutes before they part and Jensen can feel the twin to Jared's pleased, vaguely smug look spread across his own face.
"Hi," says Jensen, because this is part of the ritual as well.
Jared smiles, carving dimples deep into his cheeks. "Hi, yourself." He darts in for another quick kiss before pulling back and stroking a thumb down Jensen's cheek. "Dinner?"
"Let me find my legs first," Jensen says wryly. Jared shifts back and Jensen lets go of Jared's shirt as he pushes himself away from the wall. He crouches down to pick up his keys and throws a "not now, Jared," over one shoulder on the way back up.
Jared's eyes lift from where they were blatantly checking out Jensen's ass and he plasters on an innocent expression that wouldn't fool a blind man. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course you don't." Jensen waits for Jared pull on his sneakers, then yanks him in for a fast, hard kiss. "That'll be for dessert," he murmurs against Jared's mouth.
Jared grins widely. "Have I ever mentioned how much I love your version of southern hospitality?"
"Once or twice." Jensen pulls the door open and cocks an eyebrow at Jared. "You coming, or what?"
"With you?" Jared says and it's genuine, warm. "Always."
Which is kind of funny, Jensen thinks, when Jensen's always the one who stays behind. He wonders where Jared would go with him, if he ever asked.
To begin with, Jensen's friends thought Jared didn't exist.
These days, they just think Jensen's a moron.
The waitress is just dropping off a huge basket of chili fries when Jensen's phone rings. Jared waves at him to go ahead, so Jensen thumbs the 'accept' button while Jared digs in.
"Jensen!" Chris' voice says. "Tom and Mike are down for the weekend so we're all going to Jake's for a drink - you in?"
"Can't," Jensen says. He reaches over to snag a few fries before Jared eats the whole lot. "Jared just got back. We can probably make something tomorrow though."
The silence on the other end of the line is immense.
"How long's he staying this time?" Chris asks, with a resentment that Jensen recognizes all too well.
"Dunno," Jensen answers easily. "Guess I'll find out."
Chris huffs, frustration and worry rolling around together in the sound. "You really that hard up that you're gonna drop your whole life to shack up with him until he decides he's had enough of you? Again?"
Jared drains the last of his beer and reaches for Jensen's with a grin. Jensen smacks his hand away. "It's not like that."
"Well how is it then? Because where I'm sitting, it looks like he doesn't give enough of a damn about you to stop fucking off all over the world whenever he damn well pleases."
Jensen resists the urge to sigh. "We've talked about this."
Chris huffs again. "Yeah, and I still think you're a fucking lunatic. Why do you keep doing this to yourself, huh, Jensen? You really believe he hasn't got booty calls waiting in every city between here and Timbuktu?"
"Yeah," Jensen says. "I really do. I also think he's hogging the fries so I'm gonna go before he eats 'em all. Let me know about tomorrow, kay?"
"Jens-" Chris starts and Jensen hangs up on him without remorse. He'll just hear the whole thing again tomorrow. Probably in surround sound once Tommy and the girls get in on it.
"Chris?" Jared asks as Jensen slides his phone back into his pocket.
Jensen nods and Jared looks unsurprised.
It's not much of a secret that Jensen's friends don't much like Jared. Or, well, they like him well enough - Jared's one of those guys who's practically impossible to dislike, which probably explains how he hasn't managed to get himself killed in some remote part of the world a dozen times over - but it's pretty obvious that they don't think he's doing right by Jensen.
They think if Jared really cared he'd stay, wouldn't vanish on a whim and saunter back in months later with a tan, a bag of souvenirs and a cheery 'hey!'. They think that Jensen's being used and that he's stupid enough to keep letting Jared get away with it: forever forgiving the unforgivable. They think that Jensen wants Jared here with him always, in every corner of his life.
Jensen thinks his friends really don't understand either of them as well as they think they do.
"You said something about tomorrow?" Jared says then, around a mouthful of fries. Jensen makes a disgusted face in response.
"Mike and Tom are in town. You up for getting ridiculously smashed on cheap American beer?"
Jared's grin is bright and infectious. "Dude, I've been drinking ouzo for two months; I'll drink anything as long as it doesn't taste like licorice."
"That's my brave world traveler," Jensen teases. "Always ready to sample the local cultures."
Jared laughs. "Damn straight."
"Well," Jensen says, with a grin of his own. He grins a lot when Jared's around. "How's about we keep drinking till the game's over, then head home so you can reacquaint yourself with some of the other benefits of being on American soil."
"Good thinking." Jared gives him a casually possessive once-over. "Wouldn't want to miss out on that dessert you promised me."
"Don't think you've got to worry about that. You're not the only one who's been celibate for half a year." Jensen drains his drink and sets the bottle onto the sticky tabletop with a click. "Which is why you're buying the next round."
Jensen tells people that Jared travels for work, which is true without actually being the truth.
Jared travels so he can work the same way athletes breathe so they can compete: it's the travel that's vital; the paycheck's just an added bonus.
"You want I should set your alarm?" Jared asks around a yawn. He's sprawled out across the rumpled sheets with one arm slung loosely around Jensen's shoulders. His chest is solid and warm under Jensen's cheek and Jensen can see the places where Jared's skin is going to purple with handprints in a couple of hours.
"S'already set," Jensen says, snuggling closer into the warm dip Jared's body is making in the mattress.
Jared makes an agreeing noise. "What time are you leaving?"
It's Jensen's turn to yawn. "Bout seven. Traffic's a bitch in the morning. You mind doing the grocery shopping? Haven't got round to it yet this week."
"No problem. I'm thinking chili for dinner?"
Jensen makes a face at him. "Day after. No way it'll be worth eating the same day you make it. There're some steaks in the fridge. You can barbeque."
"Why am I doing the barbequing?" Jared asks, tugging at Jensen's hair.
"Because," Jensen lifts his head and smirks up the length of Jared's torso. "You're the closest thing I've got to a man about the house. I'm taking advantage of you while I can."
"Well then," Jared's hand curves down around Jensen's neck and Jensen goes easily, falling into the kiss as naturally as breathing.
They make out slow and lazy. Neither of them is going to be up for another round tonight, but they're never too tired to take a little time to get lost in each other.
Jensen breaks the kiss with a chuckle and Jared's grin is soft when he looks down. "What's so funny?"
"If you were home all the time we'd never leave the bedroom," Jensen says, grinning back.
"Sounds," Jared says, punctuating each word with a kiss, "Like. A. Great. Idea." His grin flashes again. "Gotta put a mini fridge in here before it'll work, though. Right next to the bed."
"I'll get right on that." Jensen yawns and shifts to a more comfortable position, making absolutely no move to untangle himself from Jared. "Sleep now."
Jared's answering chuckle rumbles through his chest in counterpoint to his heartbeat. "Yes, dear," he says, and reaches over to turn out the light.
For the most part, life-with-Jared isn't appreciably different to life-without-Jared.
There's sex, of course, and an extra set of hands for chores, but Jensen doesn't find space to fit Jared into his life when he's around. He doesn't need to.
Because Jared's his family, not his houseguest. That space is always already there, waiting for him.
Jared wakes him the next morning with a blowjob that Jensen enthusiastically reciprocates, then rolls over to go back to sleep while Jensen crawls out of bed to start his day.
It's an ordinary day at work: Jensen answers phones, pushes paper and makes last-minute adjustments to the truly underwhelming presentation slides his supervisor needs for his afternoon client meeting. He gets a passive-aggressive text from Tom about their night out, a more enthusiastic call from Mike and nothing whatsoever from Jared.
Thanks to the collective dropping the ball his department did on that client meeting, Jensen gets out of the office forty-five minutes late and has to wait another twenty for his bus. His phone bings when he's halfway home, reminding him that his mother's birthday is coming up. He'll have to give her a call soon and find out what she wants this year.
When he gets home, Jensen finds groceries in the fridge and Jared in the basement doing laundry.
"I hope you're not staining everything pink again," Jensen says as he watches Jared throw all their clothes in together in a riot of colours.
"You like pink," Jared says, and gives him a wickedly suggestive grin that results in sex on top of the washing machine while they wait for the spin cycle to end. Which is pretty much par for the course when Jared does the laundry.
Once the laundry's done, Jared barbeques those steaks for dinner - complaining good-naturedly every step out of the way - while Jensen answers his email and deals with more work bullshit. They eat together on the patio, talking about nothing in particular.
After dinner, they meet up with the gang and, like always, it doesn't take long for everyone - except Chris, who's probably going to hate Jared until the day he dies - to start warming up to Jared again. Jared's a hard guy to resent, especially when he's being entertaining and charming and so obviously making Jensen happy just by being there.
The day ends about where it started: with Jared and Jensen sacked out in their bed, Jensen's head settled against Jared's shoulder and Jared's arm lying hot and possessive across Jensen's chest. The alarm stays off because Saturdays are for sleeping in and Jensen doesn't give a damn if Jared's jetlagged to hell and back.
They'll probably talk in the morning about basic plans for the coming weeks - Jared missed his last check-up at the dentist so they're going to have to book him another one while he's back and Jensen's off to Chicago next week for a conference - but there's no particular rush.
For now, they're both just glad to be home.
Jensen is Jared's touchstone.
All of Jared's paperwork lists their house as his home address and identifies Jensen as his next of kin, emergency contact, beneficiary, whatever. In some countries, they're actually married. Jared's name is on the mortgage next to Jensen's.
Really, Jensen can't understand why people don't think Jared cares enough. There's not many people he'd trust with his entire life and livelihood while visiting some of the most dangerous places on the planet.
Jared tells Jensen he's leaving on a Tuesday, three weeks and four days after he arrives. Jensen greets this piece of information with an easy 'ok' and reminds Jared that the grass needs mowing.
It's a little sooner than the average, but longer than it has been on more than one occasion. And Jensen understands the pull of Jared's wanderlust, even though he's never felt it himself. He wonders where Jared's going this time and knows that he'll look forward to finding out from now until Jared's eventual return. It's a surprisingly nice way to pass the time.
Jensen knows that their relationship is more than a little strange.
He sees Jared a couple of times a year at most. He never knows for sure where Jared is while he's away and he prefers it that way. He spends more time with his right hand than is really normal in a committed relationship. He has no idea whether Jared misses him while he's off traveling the world. He can't entirely decide whether he misses Jared while he's going about his own, slightly boring, life. He gets told all the time, by his friends, parents, coworkers, that he can't live like this, that it's not healthy.
But it works for them. Whatever else people might complain about, that's one thing they can never deny. Jensen's never been in a more stable relationship. He's never loved anyone quite the way he loves Jared and he knows that goes both ways.
Jensen never asks Jared to stay and Jared never asks Jensen to come. Maybe someday they will, and their worlds will change accordingly, but not right now.
Right now, Jensen thinks, as he shares a last kiss with Jared on their doorstep while a taxi idles at the curb, waiting to take Jared off to who the fuck knows where, things are just the way they should be.