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Dec. 24th, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, folks. Be warned.

This was written for the 2015 Spn J2 Xmas Exchange.

“This is such a stupid idea,” Jared said to himself as he balanced the items in his hands with the almost-jig he was doing in order to try and stave off the cold as long as possible.

It was Christmas Eve and Jared had bundled himself up and set out into the softly drifting snow which had quickly turned into a storm...all to go see Jensen. Jensen was his ex-boyfriend and even though nearly 2 years had passed since they’d been together it didn’t matter—as soon as Jared heard he was back in town and had gotten an address he was planning a trip to see him. Of course, the plan had not exactly involved freezing his butt off and not actually having a legitimate reason to stop by. However Jared did not let that deter him. That is, until the moment he was at now—in front of Jensen’s door, ready to knock but suddenly unsure that any of this had been a good idea. But he couldn’t back out now. For all he knew Jensen had seen the lights from his car and knew he was outside. Admittedly he didn’t know it was Jared, but he knew someone was outside and was on his way to the door to see who it was.

So before he could talk himself out of it Jared went ahead and knocked on the door. It took a few moments before the door opened, but those few moments were long enough that Jared realized Jensen had not noticed the car’s lights or had dismissed the headlights if he had in fact seen them. Jensen had the door open before Jared had to face the additional humiliation of knocking again.

“Jared,” Jensen said in obvious surprise and Jared was going to say ‘hi’ or something else, he really was, but not only could he not think of any words or make his brain focus on the required link between it and his vocal cords Jensen had looked just beyond Jared as soon as he said his name, as if there was someone just behind him. That made Jared think maybe someone else was right behind him so he, too, turned and looked. But instead of seeing another person he got hit in the face with a blast of snow.

“Oh man, come on in, get out of this crazy weather,” Jensen said and grabbed Jared’s sleeve, tugging insistently.

Jared followed his lead and stepped inside, allowing Jensen to close the door.

“Here,” he said, thrusting both items he had been clutching in his arms at Jensen who looked down at the items in renewed surprise.

“Um, thanks?” he offered hesitantly as he took them and Jared wasn’t surprised to hear the tone. On the one hand while the t-shirt had formerly been Jensen’s and was the only thing Jensen had left behind when they broke up it now looked like a soggy mess instead of the perfectly or at least relatively rational explanation for Jared’s presence at Jensen’s home. And if it looked bad the poinsettia Jensen now held in his other arm looked at the very least out of place if not completely pathetic. It was one of the white ones the stores sometimes spray-painted with colored glitter in an attempt to entice passersby and the one in question was a rather inexplicable pink. It had been Jared’s backup reason; a sort of belated housewarming and Merry Christmas gift rolled up into one but now paired with the t-shirt it just made a horrible impression.

And this whole thing had been a horrible idea to begin with, Jared finally acknowledged. He should not have come here tonight. He should have just mailed the shirt to Jensen with a note which he could have agonized over for a bit but which would have hopefully actually served to give Jared some measure of closure. Because no closure was going to come from this meeting. Instead it was just humiliation and regret Jared felt. Well, that wasn’t all Jared was feeling. He was sad, and he hadn’t prepared himself for the possibility of feeling sad so it caught him completely off guard and threatened to overwhelm him. Jensen was beautiful—always had been and he still managed to take Jared’s breath away with no effort. But seeing him in person, so close and looking just like he had the last time they were together, the last time Jared had looked at him and been able to call him ‘love’, messed with Jared’s head. He couldn’t do this, he couldn’t stay here and make awkward small talk and maybe meet Jensen’s new lover or hell, maybe not that new of a lover. And so he shook his head and backed up just as Jensen took a step back of his own.

“Merry Christmas,” Jared muttered and he turned and was back out the door before Jensen could react.

The temperature seemed to have dropped about ten degrees in just the short amount of time he’d been inside Jensen’s place. He practically ran back to his car, sliding a bit, and all but threw himself inside, hoping for a respite from the brutality of the weather. However it was just as cold inside the car and Jared cursed as he realized he’d have to drive for a good while before the heat would kick back on to the point where it actually made a difference. He shook his head and prepared to leave this whole night behind him and chalk the experience up to maybe the dumbest thing he’d ever done. He turned the key and when nothing happened he frowned, realizing when he had to turn it back that yes, he had in fact turned the key already, he hadn’t forgotten or something else foolish. So he tried again and nothing once again was the result. No sound of the engine trying to turn over, no sputtering, nothing. Jared banged his head on the steering wheel and cursed his life again before looking back up and out at Jensen’s house once more. He wasn’t as surprised as he should have been to see Jensen’s silhouette in the living room window looking out at him and he sighed heavily before shuddering, the cold getting to him once more. He was smart enough to know he was beaten and so he gathered his courage and got back out of the car and carefully but quickly made his way to the door which opened just as he made it.

“My car won’t start,” Jared admitted in a mumble, eyes on his feet and wasn’t surprised to hear Jensen huff a laugh. He was surprised to feel himself pulled back into the entryway of Jensen’s home.

“Well that’s not really surprising considering that hunk of junk barely works when the weather isn’t near a snow apocalypse. I can’t believe you’re still driving it,” Jensen told him with more tease in his voice than Jared would have thought he’d have. He lifted his gaze in time to see Jensen look around him and out the open door and when he saw the position of Jared’s car he sighed and closed the door behind Jared. Jared watched as Jensen opened another door to reveal a closet from which he pulled out a coat.

“You’ll have to give me a hand with pushing your car down the driveway so I can try and get mine out.”

And what exactly had Jared interrupted here? He’d have thought Jensen would already be in for the night so it was a surprise to learn the older man apparently had plans to be somewhere else. He was curious enough to ask.

“Get yours out? Why?”

“Why? So I can take you home.”

Say what now?

“You want to drive me home? In this? That’s crazy!” Jared insisted.

Jensen’s look spoke volumes.

“Obviously you’d rather risk certain death than stay here so I’m trying to respect your wishes and get you where you want to be.”

Jared shook his head and tried to ignore the blush he could feel blooming all over his face. Could he have messed this up any more?

“No, it’s not that. It’s just that I show up here late, uninvited, and interrupt your Christmas plans. I can’t…don’t want to put you—and um, anyone else—out any more than I already have.”

Jensen watched him for a minute before he took the couple of steps needed to go back to the closet and hang up his coat once more.

“I don’t have big plans or anything. I was just watching a movie. Alone. So you’re not intruding on anything, alright?”

After taking a moment to gauge Jensen’s sincerity Jared nodded and Jensen mimicked the action.

“Okay then,” the older man said, stepping back and motioning Jared forward, “why don’t you go ahead and mosey on into the living room and make yourself comfortable by the fire and I’ll see about rustling up something hot to drink? Sound good?”

“Yeah,” Jared said and it did. He followed Jensen, moving over to the couch by the fireplace and taking everything in as he went. The living room was more of a great room, with the kitchen area clearly visible from the couch so Jared had no problem with still keeping Jensen in his line of sight. But he soon found his attention drawn by all the holiday cheer on display. There were lots of Christmas decorations up and they made Jared smile as he gazed at the lights and tree and ornaments. There was even a stocking hung by the fire.

“You certainly went all out with the Christmas stuff,” Jared remarked.

“Yeah, well, this is the first Christmas I’ve felt like putting anything up in a while so I may have gone overboard,” Jensen said with a laugh.

“It looks good,” Jared assured him.

When the silence fell once more Jared started to feel a bit antsy so he looked around again in order to hopefully find something else he could distract himself with. He grabbed the book on the coffee table in front of him, frowning a little when he read the title.

Overcoming Jealousy and Possessiveness?” Jared read the title aloud, turning to Jensen. “You reading this?”

Jensen gave a sort of half-hearted shrug.

”Yeah,” he admitted, “I know that was a huge part of the problems between us, why we broke up, so I thought it was something I should work on.”

And Jared was stunned. Not just that Jensen was reading the book in the first place but because he was actually acknowledging the stuff that went wrong between them. They’d had a knock-down-drag-out fight one day and that was it--no talking about what had happened, just boom--done. And Jared had given up hope of ever discovering how Jensen felt about things ending the way they had but now he thought there might be a chance. Though as Jared casually flipped through the book, reading a few sentences here and there whenever something caught his eye, he realized Jensen might have a different idea of just what had gone wrong between them.

“I’m going to have to ask you what exactly you’re defining as the problems between us.”

“Here you go,” Jensen said as he crossed back over to the couch and handed Jared a mug filled with a steaming liquid.

Jared thought Jensen wasn’t going to answer his question after all and he smiled a little sadly as he realized he couldn’t force the other man to talk about anything even if he desperately wanted to hear the answer. So he decided to go ahead and change the topic. He raised the mug to his lips, grateful for the warmth of the ceramic. He could already feel it heating his fingers up. Just before he took a sip he smelled something delicious that he couldn’t quite place coming from what he had assumed was a mug of hot chocolate.

“What’s in this?” he asked, “It smells great. “

“A spiked hot chocolate recipe I’ve been experimenting with,” Jensen told him.

“Spiked? What’s in it?”

“Nutella and Frangelico.”

Jared took a sip and almost moaned aloud as the taste of hazelnuts exploded on his tongue.

“This is incredible,” Jared told him, “good thing I’m not planning on driving anywhere.”

“When you kissed--” Jensen suddenly blurted out; breaking off for a moment and Jared wondered what the hell he was talking about until it him with a jolt. Jensen was answering his question from before. As Jared sat and waited for Jensen to continue he could see the muscle in his jaw twitch for a second as he came to grips with the obvious emotion the memory caused. “I hated that you even wanted to kiss anyone else. I wanted you to be mine and mine alone and the thought you weren’t invested in us like I was--” he stopped speaking again but this time he merely shook his head and remained silent.

And this was what Jared had wanted for so long, to talk about what had happened. But now that it was actually happening he found the words were stuck in his throat however he forced them out because he knew he’d regret not talking about this just as much as he still regretted losing Jensen.

“I liked that feeling, of knowing that you thought of me as yours and you didn’t want anyone else having the kind of relationship we did. What I didn’t like was you not trusting me to not betray that feeling by doing something. But with some distance from the whole thing I can admit it was stupid to kiss anyone else, even if it was just a mistletoe kiss. It didn’t occur to me you would see it another way and it should have.”

Jensen nodded.

“I get that, I really do. I know from that same distance that I really overreacted. And I promise you I’m—not that it matters, now. Because, of course, there’s me and well...” Jensen trailed off once again and Jared had no idea what he was going to say next. But he would not have predicted the words even if he’d been given only two choices. “You’re with Chad now so it’s probably for the best that--”

“Wait.” And Jared had to stop Jensen because the words he uttered made absolutely no sense to him. So Jared had to have heard wrong, right? “Chad? Who’s with Chad? Someone is doing something with Chad?”

“Yeah,” Jensen said, squinting his eyes a little like he didn’t know if Jared was being serious. “You’re dating Chad now.”

And the way he said it made it sound like he was explaining it to Jared who should by all rights be the first person to understand that concept.

“Dating Chad?” Jared said with a frown. “I don’t know where you got that idea--wait where did you get that idea?”

”From Chad of course,” Jensen said.

”Chad told you that we were dating? Why would he do that? When did he do that?”

”About maybe 6 weeks ago I guess?” Jensen said, “The week before Thanksgiving when I saw him?”

“The week before Thanksgiving?” Jared repeated and then when the meaning of the words actually sunk in he had to ask although he was afraid of the answer. “Just how long have you been in town, Jensen?”

”Since just before Halloween,” Jensen replied with a shrug, “although that’s really when I finished foreclosing on this place,” he said gesturing around him, “I didn’t actually move in here until around Thanksgiving time.”

”So you’ve been here this whole time? And you never...” Jared trailed off not really sure he could bring himself to ask why if Jensen was in town that whole time he had never sought Jared out. Because he realized now that if he hadn’t shown up tonight more likely than not he and Jensen would never have seen each other unless it was a chance meeting.

”Hey,” Jensen said, cutting into Jared’s thoughts, “I wanted to come see you, I really did but I ran into Chad first and once he told me the two of you were dating...” he stopped and shrugged, “I wasn’t really interested in seeing the two of you together what can I say?”

And Jared could understand that and he breathed easier upon hearing Jensen’s admission. He himself had been agonizing over whether or not Jensen was dating anyone and if his appearance was going to be more awkward given the necessity of seeing that person in the flesh. He was going to say something about it to Jensen but then his attention was caught by the TV where the movie Jensen had been watching was still paused. He recognized the scene.

“You’re watching Still Breathing?”

Jensen nodded and flushed a little.

“But you hate this movie,” Jared said unsure why he felt the need to remind the other man of this fact.

“Well I wouldn’t go that far,” Jensen said, “but it occurred to me recently that maybe I was more like Roz than I had wanted to accept when we first saw it together and I wanted to re-watch it and see if accepting that might make the movie more enjoyable for me.”

“And does it?” Jared asked, unable to help but get excited at the thought he might be witnessing Jensen’s opinion change on a movie he himself had an inexplicable soft spot for.

Jensen flushed again this time even deeper and Jared couldn’t help but laugh at the guilty expression.

“You still hate it, don’t you?”

“I told you, I don’t hate it,” Jensen said but Jared could tell he was just trying to be nice, “but it’s still not my favorite, sorry.”

Jared shook his head.

“No need to apologize,” he assured him, “it’s okay to like different things.”

Jensen nodded.

“That’s definitely something I’ve been working on,” he said.

“What do you mean?” Jared asked and Jensen sighed before reaching up to rub at the back of his neck, a nervous habit of his Jared had almost forgotten about until he saw it happening in front of his eyes.

“I was in therapy,” Jensen admitted, keeping his gaze averted from Jared as he spoke in the hushed tones of someone confessing, “and one of the things I learned was that having outside interests, things which only I like, can be a really good thing for a relationship.”

“You were in therapy?” Jared asked, blown away by the notion his reserved ex would have ever gone in for something which required the voluntary sharing of feelings. “When?”

“Earlier this year,” Jensen answered .

“Why were you in therapy? I mean, if it’s OK for me to ask?” Jared added belatedly, realizing that something may have happened to Jensen and that something might just be something the other man had no desire to talk about. And sadly, Jared no longer held a place of significance in Jensen’s life thus he could no longer claim even the right to feel like he was someone Jensen could open up to if the other man were so inclined.

“I guess there were a lot of little things,” Jensen began, “but they all kind of started to pile up on each other until my life was more stress than anything else. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been really happy and I started having a lot of regrets about the direction my life had taken. Work was really difficult for me—after my dad passed we discovered the company was worse off than anyone had realized so not only was I having to deal with a move, new job, and the ending of two of the most significant relationships in my life all around the same time, I suddenly was expected to put everything I was dealing with behind getting the company back into solvency. And so I was really resentful of everyone and everything and pretty much not a fun person to be around. So it got to the point where the company finally started turning around maybe the end of summer, beginning of fall of last year? And so once that huge stress was off my plate everything else kind of started to overwhelm me at the same time and I just knew I had to find some way to deal with everything and I found that book,” he said gesturing to the book on the coffee table, “and I thought it was a good place to start. Ironically, I thought it was a good place to start because I was sure that out of everything that had happened to me, the one thing I knew for sure and could hold onto was that I was in the right about us breaking up. And so I knew that I was going to open that book, I was going to start to read, and I was going to be proven right. I was going to get to say that the people this book was intended for had nothing in common with me and I could go ahead and cross one more thing off of my list of things I was worried about. But instead, the more I read the less I was sure of anything, except for one thing––and that was I was relating to the people this book was written for way more than I ever wanted to. And that thought really upset me; that I was somehow this person and I had been so self-absorbed I never noticed.”

“I’m going to have to stop you there for a minute,” Jared said, unable to let Jensen continue with his train of thought when it was clear to Jared that Jensen had a different idea of who he was than the person Jared had known him to be when they were together.

Jensen was beating himself up over things in the book and from the little flipping through Jared had done earlier he had an idea of some of what Jensen must’ve thought and he had to correct him because it wasn’t fair to Jensen to think that Jared thought of him in the very negative way he was obviously viewing himself. “I don’t know the specifics of every single page in this book,” he said pointing to it, “but I was looking through it earlier and I can tell you that I don’t agree with your assessment that you’re just like the people the book is meant for. You never told me where to go, who I could hang out with, what I had to eat, you weren’t possessive and controlling to the degree that this book allows for people to be. Again, I don’t know what is that you think about yourself but I just need you to know that I never thought of you as controlling like that.”

“Yeah?” Jensen asked and when Jared nodded Jensen did the same. “Well thanks for saying that. That actually really means a lot to me. So yeah, I decided to go talk to someone about what I was thinking, about all the different things that had happened to me and that were no longer happening to me and things I wanted to have happen in my life. So while I’m definitely the first person to admit that I’m the last person I thought would ever be in therapy I can’t deny that it’s actually helped me.”

“You said you were in therapy does that mean you don’t go anymore?”

Jensen nodded his head.

“Once I got into therapy and started talking about everything a lot of what I needed was just to get it all out and not worry about being judged for whatever I was saying. After that we talked about some good coping strategies and then after we got through talking about how your and my relationship ended and what I felt like I had done wrong, what I could have done better and also what it was okay to feel alright about it kind of stalled. My therapist said there wasn’t really too much more he could do for me if I wasn’t willing to open myself up to another relationship. Kind of the whole point of being in therapy in the first place was to get to the point where I was OK with being in a relationship again. He said it didn’t make much sense for me to be doing all this work if I wasn’t going to open myself up to being in a relationship where I could put these life skills to the test.”

“I understand that,” Jared said, hastening to clarify when he realized it sounded like he was completely agreeing with Jensen’s therapist. “I mean you can’t force yourself to like someone and if you’re not ready to be in a relationship you’re not ready, that’s all there is to it.”

“Well I’m not sure it’s as simple as all that but thanks...again,” Jensen said and Jared nodded before he realized he still needed to clear something up.

“I’m not dating Chad,” he said, “in case that wasn’t obvious. About the time you saw him he did ask me out but I turned him down. I don’t know if he saw you first and that made him decide to ask me out or what but, um, yeah. Not dating Chad.”

“Okay,” Jensen said.

“Or anyone,” Jared added, flushing as he realized it was an unnecessary bit of knowledge Jensen hadn’t even asked for.

“Alright,” Jensen said and Jared could see he was holding back a laugh.

“Shut up and press play,” Jared told him with a roll of his eyes and he turned to face the screen and he smiled as he heard Jensen chuckle next to him.

“Your wish is my command,” Jensen assured him as he followed the order. “You want to take off your coat and get comfortable or do I still have to worry about you bolting out into the storm at any given moment?”

“I suppose I can take it off and give up on getting up close and personal with Jack Frost...for tonight.” Jared announced with an exaggerated sigh which made Jensen snicker.

And from there it was easy, easier than Jared had ever hoped it would be again between them. They began sharing bits of information about their time apart in between Jensen’s good-natured jibes at the movie and Jared’s obviously over-dramatic defense of the movie’s integrity.

“I think it’s about time for me to turn in,” Jensen said as the credits finished rolling and the DVD was back on the home screen.

“Is it OK if I watch a little more TV?” Jared asked before Jensen could say anything about the sleeping arrangements. “I’m still warming up a bit.”

Jensen seemed surprised by the request for a moment before he offered Jared a soft smile and nod.

“I’ll just go get a pillow and blanket for you, make sure you’re comfortable.”

“Thanks,” Jared said and watched the older man as he disappeared down the hall and went through a door to what Jared assumed was the master bedroom.

As Jared waited for Jensen to come back out he turned off the DVD player and switched back to the regular cable service. When Jensen made his way out of the room Jared could see he had some clothes and a toothbrush as well.

“Not sure how these’ll fit but I’ve got some socks here so your feet hopefully won’t be too cold. Bathroom is just around the corner,” he said pointing in the opposite direction from where he’d come.

“Okay, thanks,” Jared said as he accepted the bundle from Jensen who nodded and turned away only to turn back a moment later.

“So do you need to let anyone know where you are? I mean not Chad, obviously,” and he gave Jared a cheeky grin which made him laugh, “but someone else? You’re going to be missed on Christmas morning by someone, right?”

And that thought struck terror into Jared’s heart.

“Oh man,” Jared said, eyes going wide, “my momma is gonna have a cow if I don’t let her know that I won’t be there.”

“I thought so,” Jensen said with a nod, “you better call her now.”

Jared grimaced as he noticed the time on his cell phone but he quickly dialed so as to get the conversation over with as soon as possible.

“Hey momma,” Jared said as soon as he heard her pick up, “I’m sorry to wake you.”

“I’m still up,” she assured him, “and I can’t help but notice you aren’t here like you should be. So where are you?”

“My car broke down--” Jared started but before he could get any farther his mom interrupted.

“Oh my god! Let me go get your father. Where are you? We’ll be there--”

“Momma,” Jared said, repeating himself louder a few more times until she finally stopped trying to wake his father up. “I’m fine.”

“You are?”

“Yeah I’m um—I’m at Jensen’s,” he blurted out and held his breath as he waited for her reaction. It was a very brief wait.

“Jensen’s?” she repeated in that carefully neutral tone somehow all moms possessed. “How did you end up there?”

“Well, um, I was bringing him sort of a combination housewarming/Merry Christmas present to welcome him back to town, you know? And, uh, my car died in his driveway. So he’s putting me up for the night.”

“Why don’t you give me his address and once the roads are cleared we’ll come get you?”

“Oh, uh, well I think we’re going to try and get Bessie started in the morning--” Jared said and Jensen snorted at the reminder of Jared’s car’s nickname, “and I might be able to just drive myself. I can let you know, though. Okay?”

“All right,” his mom said, “oh and don’t worry about missing anything in the morning. The storm’s keeping everyone who isn’t already here away so we’re talking about not celebrating proper until the 26th, God willing.”

“Oh good,” Jared said, “Well not good, obviously, because I know everyone would rather be together but good because everyone’s safe.”

He could feel himself blush because he knew he was rambling and worse, his mom and Jensen both knew it, too.

“Well you just get some sleep,” his mom said, “and we’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay, momma, good night,” Jared said and hung up before he could embarrass himself any further. He turned to look at Jensen and found the other man’s gaze already on him. “Yeah, so, um, thanks for reminding me to call. I really would have gotten an earful later.”

Not that he didn’t anticipate getting an earful anyway, namely about whose house he was currently at but he didn’t figure Jensen needed to know that.

“Well if you need anything let me know,” Jensen said, rubbing the back of his neck again as he slowly backed up. “Otherwise....goodnight, Jared.”

“Goodnight, Jensen,” Jared said, watching the other man until he disappeared behind the closed door of the bedroom.

Jared sighed and faced the TV again, hoping to find something to help him fall asleep so he would stop thinking thoughts he had no business thinking. Thoughts like how he could go knock on that door and see if Jensen was interested in helping him make sure he stayed warm all through the night. He shook his head and kept flipping the channels, settling on The Muppet Christmas Carol before getting up and going to the bathroom to get ready for the sleep he wasn’t sure was coming. He came back to the living room and arranged himself on the couch and prepared to spend the rest of the night watching television. And indeed he made it through the Muppets without falling asleep and he started watching A Christmas Story, sure he was in for another few hours of unrest but he fell asleep before Ralphie got his Red Ryder BB gun. He was surprised to feel himself being gently shook what felt like only a few minutes later.

“Hey,” Jensen said quietly. “Do you want to go get in bed, sleep a little bit longer?”

“What time is it?” Jared asked, rubbing at his eyes.

“Early still. There really isn’t anything else to do besides drink coffee and wait until the snowplows pass through, so if you’re tired there’s a perfectly good bed waiting for you to spend a few hours in it. It’s up to you.”

“Yeah, OK.”

Jensen reached down a hand to Jared who looked at it for a moment, trying and failing to remember the last time he had held Jensen’s hand. Before he could overthink it he reached out his own hand and let Jensen pull him to his feet. And it was when they were standing face-to-face, and Jared could feel Jensen’s hand in his own once more that he realized it was a good thing he didn’t sleep in Jensen’s bed with him last night. Not because things would’ve undoubtedly led to an intimate encounter between them but rather that Jared knew he’d already have trouble leaving Jensen again and them sleeping together certainly wouldn’t help the situation.

“Where are you taking me?” he asked as he followed Jensen down the hall to Jensen’s bedroom.

Jensen chuckled.

“The one and only bedroom I have. The place came with three but one’s my office while the other is my workout/catchall room so there’s only this one bed I’m afraid.”

Jared wasn’t sure that sleeping in Jensen’s bed without Jensen in it was a good idea either but he was tired enough and he could admit to himself—lonely enough—that he was willing to risk the bittersweet memories the act would undoubtedly bring. He got under the covers on the side of the bed he always preferred and wiggled beneath the blankets, smiling when he heard Jensen’s soft laugh.

“Sleep well,” Jensen said and made his way to the door. Jared was asleep soon after Jensen closed the door behind him.

When Jared next opened his eyes the room seemed brighter though the heavy curtains kept out most of the light. Jared wondered how long he’d slept and he worried about what came next but then he assured himself he could do this. He and Jensen had gotten along well last night, really well, and so there was no reason for today to be awkward.

“Hey,” he said as he emerged from the bedroom and saw Jensen working on his laptop at the dining room table.

“Hey,” Jensen repeated with a smile, getting up and closing the lid of the laptop, “you hungry? I’ve got pancake mix and bacon and eggs. There’s a pack of cinnamon rolls, too.”

Jared’s mouth started watering and he was nodding before he realized he was still putting Jensen out.

“Why don’t you let me cook, though?” Jared suggested, “Let me start digging my way out of this pile of debt I’m buried under.”

Jensen shrugged and smiled again.

“Sure,” he acquiesced, “I can get down with being waited on hand and foot.”

And just like that time seemed to speed up, with breakfast (or rather brunch seeing as Jared hadn’t managed to get out of bed until a little after 11) and the adventure that was pushing Bessie down Jensen’s driveway passing by in the blink of an eye. Then there was trying to jump start Bessie to no avail and another mug of hot cocoa, this one unspiked, to pass the time and warm them up again until they received word that the roads had been cleared, thus making it safe to get Jared back over to his folks’. Jared had insisted his parents could come and get him while Jensen was just as insistent he could drive Jared, finally winning him over when he pointed out there were already relatives at the Padaleckis, no need to abandon them all. The drive was equally short and though it would have felt like that regardless due to the improvement in road conditions it still felt like the trip was over too soon when Jensen pulled up in front of Jared’s parents’ house. He turned the car off and they both looked out the window. Jensen drove a truck, actually, and hadn’t that been a surprise to Jared who had been Bessie’s proud owner for so long it always caught him off guard when someone got a new car.

There were lots of little kids in the front yard, and they were obviously delighted by the mountains of snow. Some were trying to climb the piles left by the snowplow; some were making snowmen or snow forts while others were simply running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

“Well, um, thank you, again,” Jared said, “I really don’t know how I can ever repay you for everything y’all did for me.”

“I’m just glad it turned out okay,” Jensen said, “and hey, I got to mock Still Breathing so that’s a win for me.”

Jared shook his head though he couldn’t stop his smile.

“You’re warming up to it, I can tell,” he said and then he opened the door, getting out and wincing at the cold bite of the wind.

“Uncle Jay!”

The whoops started when Jared shut the door and his nephew saw him but soon he was trying to make his way to the front of the house while being bombarded by both snowballs and kids until finally they all landed in a giggling heap at the base of the porch steps.

“All right, all right, I give up! You win,” Jared finally announced amid loud cheers. It was the cheers which undoubtedly drew Jared’s mother to the door. When she opened it and saw the pile of kids on top of her son she laughed and then looked around, frowning a bit.

“Where’s your knight in shining armor?” she asked and Jared lifted his torso up but Jensen was gone, having slipped away when Jared was at the bottom of the dogpile no doubt.

“He’s gone,” Jared admitted.

“And you didn’t invite him in for us to at least get to say thank you?”

“I got sidetracked!” Jared defended weakly, knowing his momma wasn’t going to be swayed by the feeble excuse.

“Well call him and tell him to get his butt back over here.”

“I can’t,” Jared said, the realization hitting him hard and causing his eyes to widen. “I don’t have his new number.”

But another thought occurred to him and he shook his head before his mom could say anything else.

“Not that it matters because Jensen never answers the phone while he’s driving, not since the accident.”

And Jared could see that whatever his mom had been about to say died upon the reminder and instead she merely nodded, eyes softening. Jensen’s younger sister had been killed in a car accident and it had been determined she had been texting while driving and Jensen had sworn to never do that or to even speak on the phone while he was behind the wheel. Jared was sure he’d kept that promise, Bluetooth technology be damned.

“Well we’ll just have to find another way to thank him then,” she said before turning and going back in the house, leaving Jared to look forlornly up the street one more time before he followed her.

Jared’s relatives were all pleased to see him, none more so than the kids who were thrilled at the prospect of a new playmate. Jared tried to put his apprehension and worry behind him but Jensen was never far from his thoughts. And he didn’t know what Jensen leaving like he did meant. It could be as simple as Jensen simply leaving him to his family but the fact was he hadn’t said goodbye--neither of them had. That could mean Jensen didn’t see their parting as final or it could mean he didn’t want to see Jared again.

The next day after a rather restless night on an air mattress on the floor of the living room Jared was happy to be inside by the fire. The morning had been spent playing with the little kids and Jared let their games and laughter distract him but he could freely admit he was tired and thus was grateful that the kids all seemed to crash after lunch. They were all in the living room together watching the latest family-friendly movie one of their parents had provided as a gift.

“You okay sweet pea?” Jared’s mom asked as she came over, brushing her hand across the top of his head.

Jared nodded.

“Just a little tired,” he assured her, “I think I wore myself out trying to keep up with all of the kids.”

“So there’s nothing about Jensen bothering you, then?” she asked with a smirk and he flushed.

“I just, I don’t know what to think,” he admitted.

“I’m going to go put together a plate of cookies and we can talk,” his mom announced and as she made her way to the kitchen there came a knock on the front door.

Jared’s dad went to answer it and Jared didn’t even glance to see who it was.

“Well looky who we have here!” his dad announced and that made Jared turn to see who the mystery guest was.

“Jensen!” Jared called out, surprised but undeniably delighted at seeing him again and so soon. He practically shot to his feet and sprinted over to stand in front of him and once he was there leaned down and kissed him without thought, only realizing two key points when Jensen gave a sort of surprised squeak in response:

1) he and Jensen were not back together


2) almost the entirety of Jared’s family was in the same room meaning they were all watching the two of them.

“What was that?” Jensen asked as Jared pulled back, and his green eyes were as wide as Jared could ever remember them being.

“Well if you don’t know I must not have done it right,” Jared offered with a lopsided grin, trying to use humor to not only cover up the incredibly awkward situation he had just placed them both in but also to keep his family from suspecting it was in fact a really awkward situation.

And it appeared that at least it worked on his family who broke out into chuckles and guffaws at Jared’s statement. Jensen shook his head and smiled after a moment so Jared breathed a little easier.

“Let’s go someplace a little quieter,” Jensen suggested and Jared nodded and led him down the hallway toward the kitchen, stopping before they made it to the door.

“I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see you again,” Jared said by way of an incredibly lame explanation and Jensen raised an eyebrow.

“Your car is still at my house,” he reminded Jared who blushed to the roots of his hair, “and I came over because I don’t have your number and I wanted to arrange a good time to have you come get it.”

“Oh geeze,” Jared said though his voice was a bit muffled due to the palm he had raised to cover his mouth when he realized what an idiot he’d been.

“Hey,” Jensen said, taking a step closer and lifting a hand up to pull Jared’s away from his mouth. He took a deep breath before continuing. “Not that I mind where that was going back there or what you might be thinking. But if therapy’s taught me anything it’s that expressing yourself is just about the most important thing you can do in a relationship. And while I admit I’ve been working on things to see if you and I can in fact try again I think we should talk about everything before committing to anything, okay? I want to make sure we’re on the same page and that we haven’t become too different people in our time apart. Because the one thing I don’t want is to have you in my life again only to lose you once more. So let’s see where we’re both at, okay? And then we can decide together what we should be, be it friends or something more.”

And Jared already knew what he wanted but he respected the wisdom behind what Jensen was saying and so he nodded.

“Okay,” Jared said, “So um, what now?”

“Well let’s find out what we can do about your car and then go from there, all right?”

His mom chose that moment to come out of the kitchen and invite Jensen in to eat some cookies and Jared’s dad and brother soon came in as well and they talked to Jensen about what he thought had happened to Bessie. Jared heard words like ‘alternator’ and ‘timing belt’ but he pretty much tuned the whole discussion out in favor of getting his fill of looking at Jensen.

And if Jared thought that the time had flown when they were together then it practically crawled when they were apart. They had agreed that Jared’s dad would take Jared over to Jensen’s house the following weekend and he, Jared’s brother and Jensen would all try to get Bessie working but if they couldn’t then they’d simply tow her. In the meantime Jared would borrow his mom’s car or carpool to work but no matter what he was doing he was counting down the minutes to when he got to see Jensen again.

But finally they were alone, having agreed to talk everything out in private at Jensen’s. Jensen fixed Jared with a hard look and Jared felt a bit of fear at how the conversation was going to go but he wanted to be with Jensen, wanted to try again and so he knew it was worth whatever they had to do.

“That kiss,” Jensen said, “when I came to your folks’?” he clarified and Jared nodded, heart in his throat at the thought Jensen’s serious expression meant he was about to tell Jared off.

“Probably the worst kiss I’ve ever given in my life and that includes when I was in Kindergarten and tried to kiss what’s-her-name.”

“Okay?” Jared said, confused beyond measure.

This time it was Jensen who nodded.

“So I have to rectify the situation. Can’t have a blight on my record like that.”

And oh—oh yeah.

“Definitely,” Jared agreed—a little too quickly if Jensen’s laugh was any indication, “I mean you should at least try.”

Jensen’s smile warmed Jared from the inside out but that warmth paled in comparison to the heat which erupted as soon as Jensen kissed him properly. Jared’s skin tingled where Jensen’s lips met his own, and it wasn’t long before they were each trying to be the dominant force in the kiss. But then Jensen sucked on Jared’s bottom lip, giving it a little nibble before swooping right in and flicking his tongue against Jared’s top lip and Jared was lost. He gave up all semblance of control and simply gripped Jensen’s hips tighter, trying to draw the other man even closer. He could feel Jensen, feel the heat and the hardness between them. As he opened his mouth wider he felt Jensen’s fingers tighten in his hair, holding him in place while he plundered for as much of Jared’s taste as he could get.

Jared was already shaking his head as Jensen pulled back to breathe.

“Still remember it,” he panted out, “still need to rectify.”

And though Jensen smiled he didn’t kiss Jared again. Instead he just looked at him, his expression growing more and more serious until finally Jared was scared to know what the other man was thinking.

“I really want this to work.” Jensen said and Jared furrowed his brows for a moment. “Between us, just to clarify. I really want this to work out this time.”

“So do I,” Jared assured him. “In fact I’ve been thinking and maybe,” he paused for a moment, unsure how Jensen would take the suggestion, but he quickly gathered the strength to offer. “Maybe I could go with you to therapy?”

“What? You would do that?”

“Well yeah,” Jared said, relieved that Jensen hadn’t dismissed the idea entirely out of hand. “I want us to work out, too, so maybe if understanding more about what we’ve each gone through is something that can help I definitely don’t want to pass up the chance. Especially as we navigate getting back into the rhythm of being a couple it might be beneficial to have a neutral third party listening as we work things out, help us make sure we’re both on the same page.”

Jensen let out a shuddering breath.

“Yes. Okay. Yes. Whatever it takes.”

“Jensen?” Jared asked and when Jensen furrowed his brows in silent inquiry Jared gave him a coy smile. “One thing it’s definitely going to take is kissing. Lots and lots more kissing.”

“Yes,” Jensen said as he moved back in, “lots and lots more kissing.”

Feb. 22nd, 2013

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Ten

( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )
Tags: ,

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Nine

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

Jared smiled as he saw that Doc had returned to him at last. It was quite vexing to have to wait for Jensen to reply to his letters as Jared simply wanted Jensen with him. But at least these past few years without seeing one another had been filled with these missives. If it had been this long since Jared had both seen and heard from Jensen he feared for his mental faculties. But at least he had the book, or rather books, as it had become over the years. They each had a couple, being the ones to start a new one every few months or so, and Jared delighted in rereading the letters from Jensen over and over.

That night he had been so excited to read the letter but that delight quickly evaporated.

I cannot fulfill my marital duties. Such a stupid thing to write because I am not going to be married but I cannot consummate a relationship. The injuries I sustained must have affected that area as well, though I confess I had not wondered about it until recently. Mayhap it is silly to worry over such an insignificant thing, things could have been so much worse; at least I have my life. But perhaps I am becoming more human by worrying over trivial matters such as these?

Jared’s breath caught in his throat as he reviewed the latest missive. Jensen had been thinking of marriage? That settled it. He could not afford to put off his plans any longer.

Arthur had wondered how long it was going to take for this day to come and he had thought it would not have taken King Jared years to make it to the castle but then again when King Arthur had been to the palace years before he saw for himself the devastation Theroux had wreaked upon the people there. So it was admirable that Jared had remained devoted to his people, he decided, and he knew he was only feeling put out because of how much his brother cared for the young king. Being apart was difficult for Jensen, he was sure of this, though he suspected part of Jensen was pleased by the distance as it meant King Jared did not see his injuries.

“Thank you for seeing me your Majesty.”

“I am the one who owes you thanks. For were it not for you I believe I would have lost my brother entirely.”

Jared shook his head.

“It is my fault you were without him for so long,” he told him, “and my fault your kingdom was ravaged by suffering for so long.”

This time it was Arthur who shook his head. “I do not believe in blaming the son for the sins of the father. You were but a small boy who was kept in the dark both literally and figuratively.”

“Thank you for your graciousness,” Jared said, obviously moved.

“While I do wish to continue speaking with you I must first beg your indulgence by inquiring whether your visit is to bring us ill tidings? I’ve learned to ask so as not to be caught unawares.”

“No nothing of the sort,” Jared assured him, “believe me when I say that should I have had tidings such as those I would have dispensed with formalities in order to deliver them first regardless of the lack of manners such behavior would betray.”

“Well I am pleased to hear it,” Arthur said, looking over to a door next to the throne which had just begun to open. “I—Ah! Here is my brother now, unless I am deceived.”

And indeed Jensen made his way through the door. He smiled at his brother and then went stock still as he noticed Jared. Jared was here? Why? He had made no mention of any intention to visit their kingdom. Had something happened? Something which required their kingdoms to come together as allies in war, perhaps?

“Jensen,” Jared breathed out taking a moment to look at him before making his way over and kneeling at his feet, drawing surprised breaths from everyone. “Will you marry me?”

Arthur and the rest of the joined assembly broke out into surprised laughter. But Arthur could see that Jensen wasn’t laughing at the idea of marrying Jared.

Jared knew what people saw when they looked at Jensen and indeed it was difficult to bear witness to the many injuries Jensen bore all over his body. But to Jared nothing had ever looked so beautiful and so biting back tears he launched into the speech he had prepared for weeks.

“You are my light. From the moment we first met and you placed yourself in harm’s way for me I knew you were someone special. As time went on and you were my lone companion I got to know the amazing person you are and I fell ever more deeply each day. And when I learned of all you had done to save your own kingdom as well as mine I was not only humbled I was determined to ask for your hand, to ask you to share your life with me, a life I want to spend trying to be worthy of everything you’ve already done for me. I am not asking you to be my husband because I feel indebted and can see no other way to repay you. I am asking because I cannot imagine my life without you and indeed I wish to have no other by my side. Please Jensen, say you’ll be mine?”

“Well, Jensen, what is your answer? ‘Tis unseemly to make someone wait to learn of your answer to their proposal of marriage.” Giselle teased, having been the one to wheel Jensen into the room.

And Jensen nodded. Just once, but slowly and deliberately. The entire assemblage broke out in cheers.

“Can we do it now?” Jared said, coming to his feet and grasping both of Jensen’s hands in his own. He beamed at him and Jensen felt a blush spread across his cheeks.

“No we must prepare a proper feast,” Arthur insisted clapping a hand on each of their shoulders before turning to murmur to Jensen. “It would appear that the kingdom has something to celebrate after all.”

On to Chapter Ten
Tags: ,

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Eight

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

Arthur paused outside of Jensen’s room. It’d been a month since he brought his brother home and though every day Jensen appeared to be doing better physically his spirits had not lifted. At first Arthur had been furious with Jensen, knowing that his brother could have escaped and returned at any time. But when Jensen had slowly written out his explanation Arthur’s fury subsided and a deep sadness took its place. How could his brother think his life was of so little value? However as Arthur had continued to read he learned about how Prince Jared also been a prisoner and he couldn’t help but feel pride in his little brother who would go so far to protect someone who by all rights should have been one of Jensen’s most hated enemies.

Arthur knew their people needed to know what had happened to their lost prince, especially since most everything he had done had been to protect them from a war they truthfully had very little chance of winning. And so Arthur had addressed the people and even though he knew they would be affected by their prince’s devotion he had been surprised when beginning the very next day requests started pouring in from the people wishing to see Jensen. And that was what brought him to be sitting outside his brother’s room now. He took a deep breath and knocked.

“Come in,” a feminine voice called out and Arthur smiled as he opened the door.

Their sister Giselle was sitting at the side table with Jensen and the two were engaged in a game of chess. Giselle had been distraught when Arthur had returned from his hunting trip and learned of the events of that day. They had both thought Jensen to be dead and Giselle especially took it hard. She had been waiting for them when Arthur finally brought Jensen home and it took hours for her sobs to cease. Since their return it was rare to find her away from Jensen’s side.

“What brings you here?” Giselle asked, “Dare I hope you are to provide me with some adequate competition in this game?”

She laughed when her comment made Jensen poke her hand.

“Our people wish to hear from you,” Arthur said and then winced, “I apologize for my choice of words. But our people are happy you are here, and they know what you have done for them and so they wish to see you and express their gratitude.”

Jensen frowned and for a long moment Arthur was afraid he’d made the wrong choice in coming here. But then Jensen nodded and mimed scribbling.

Jensen made his way to the balcony and was nearly deafened by the cheer which arose from the gathered crowd below.

“Prince Jensen wishes for me to read you a message,” Arthur announced loudly.
“Prince Jensen first and foremost wishes to express his gratitude for your well-wishes. Then he says that we should postpone any feasting until we have rebuilt our kingdom,” he paused and looked at Jensen, ignoring the murmurs which began to circulate below. “That knowing we all have a place to sleep, food to eat and our health and safety will make any food we consume seem much sweeter.”

And the crowd again broke into cheers and Jensen smiled and offered a timid wave to the assembled masses.

And as much as it pained him to do so Jensen had to admit that with only one fully functional arm and leg he was more of a hindrance to their building efforts. Especially since any magic he would use to help in the efforts would require both of his hands to complete the spell, so he dare not risk getting it wrong and possibly injuring an innocent bystander. So he ended up helping to watch over the children of the village, as best as he could. And though the children were decent company once they got past Jensen’s looks they were not Jared, whom Jensen missed with an ache that never went away. But he knew they would never see one another again, especially once Jared learned all that Jensen had done to ensure his death. And he would gain that knowledge from Doc and Happy, who had remained in Jared’s kingdom these past six months in order to help the young king begin to rebuild his castle and kingdom.

Hearing the matters of court were rarely of interest to Jensen yet he sat by Arthur’s side every time regardless. There had been no discussion of Jensen resuming the throne and he knew Arthur was considering permanently aligning their kingdoms under one rule. But for now at least Arthur was content to travel back and forth between his own kingdom and Jensen’s, and Giselle seemed happy to remain with Jensen indefinitely although Jensen had heard rumors of the suitors his little sister was leaving behind in Arthur’s kingdom. He wondered how to make everyone happy and it was a problem that seemed to have no solution and his mood was melancholy. But then a messenger arrived at court and Jensen had to frown for messengers had become rather scarce of late after the initial influx from their allies when Jensen was brought home.

“A messenger has just arrived from King Jared.”

And Arthur wasn’t the only one who noticed how Jensen perked up at that. He shared a look over Jensen’s head with Giselle, who hid a smile behind her hand.

“Please escort him in,” Arthur said.

Jensen was surprised to see Doc make his way into court where he stopped before the trio and bowed.

“My name is James, though all who know me call me ‘Doc,’” he said with another bow,

“Yes, I remember you,” Arthur said, “and I apologize for before but my attention was solely on my brother.”

“No need to apologize, we were all grateful you were able to come and finally bring the boy home,” Doc said with a smile at Jensen, “And I would be pleased to have you address me as Doc.”

“Very well, Doc. Thank you. Now then what brings you to our kingdom? You have news from King Jared?”

“I bring along the most heartfelt and sincere well-wishes for your kingdom and King Jared is quite dismayed he is unable to visit and deliver these tidings in person. But he has instructed me to present Prince Jensen with a token.”

And thus saying he dug around in his satchel and pulled out something which at first Jensen could not discern. But once Doc took a step closer he could see what it was. It was a thick beautifully bound book, which Doc handed over with a smile. When Jensen opened it he could see that Jared had written to him.

You left without saying goodbye. I was hurt until I realized that must mean you do not consider the separation between us permanent, and then my heart was lifted.

I heard of your injuries, and I cannot express how much I regret them. You have done so much for so many people and to know you have suffered thusly brings me great sorrow.

I cannot continue until I know how you fare. So please write to me in this book I have provided, and then I shall write you again plaguing you no doubt with endless questions.

I remain yours, always.


Doc sat down and Arthur looked at him with a bemused expression before he shook himself out of it.

“Thank you for delivering the message,” he began only to stop when Doc raised a hand.

“Beggin’ yer pardon yer Majesty,” the dwarf said with a smirk, “but King Jared told me I was to wait here for as long as it takes for the prince to respond.”

“Well, Jensen,” Arthur said with a booming laugh, “it appears you have a missive to compose.”

And it seemed impossible that this was true, for Jensen had not expected to ever hear from Jared again, let alone to receive a token such as this which indicated the young king still held him in some esteem. He did not have to wonder long at his response.


I am surprised to hear from you although pleased beyond measure. I was sure you must hate me, after all I am the reason your uncle is dead and that you were killed as well, even if but for a short time.

As for how I am since you have heard of my injuries already I will not plague you with descriptions. I am learning to handle them every day and though it is a slow process I am determined to make the best of the situation.

I am unsure what else to say so I will simply send my own wishes for your continued good health and prosperity for your kingdom.



On to Chapter Nine
Tags: ,

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Seven

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

Pain. There was nothing but pain. Jensen wasn’t sure he was alive, convinced he was actually in hell, that he’d finally encountered the repercussions he couldn’t handle.

“You’ve been out near on three days.”

Jensen’s head whipped to the side and he winced at the pain in his neck movement caused. Suddenly everything that happened came rushing back in a flood.

“Jared.” He said, or at least…he tried to. When nothing came out he remembered that he could no longer speak and tears came to his eyes unbidden.

“I’m sorry,” Doc said, “you’ve lost not only your voice but the use of your right arm and leg as well.” He let Jensen have a moment to absorb that information before he continued. “I think you were trying to ask about Jared? Is that right?”

Jensen nodded.

“Well he’s still dead, at least for the moment. Every other time you’ve made it so ‘tis not a permanent death,” Doc said, “so what is it gonna take this time?”

And Jensen struggled to find something he could write with and ended up with a stick which he used to scratch some symbols into the floor.

“Okay I can see that’s a heart,” Doc said with a small frown, “but um, what is that?”

Jensen blushed and brought a finger to his own lips.

“Oh yes, I can see that now. So a loving kiss is all Jared needs?”

Jensen nodded.

“Good to see you up and about,” Jeff said as he wheeled in the chair which the guards had been using to cart Jensen to and from his sessions with Theroux, “we’ve got some people to introduce you to but first let’s go ahead see about Jared shall we?”

And Jensen couldn’t help the winces as Happy and Doc helped him to the chair but he did his best to remove all traces of pain from his features as he was wheeled into the room where Jared lay. And he breathed a sigh of relief at seeing the young man unharmed and he found himself under intense scrutiny from the small band of dwarves grouped around Jared’s bed and he hid turned his face away as best as he could, knowing from their expressions that he himself must look horrific.

“Well go ahead,” Doc said, gesturing to Jared, “nobody here loves him as much as you do.”

But Jensen pointed to Jared and then shook his head as he pointed to himself.

“Ah, Jared must be the one to be doing the loving. I see.”

And no one could really say anything either way because there had never been a discussion about Jared’s feelings or lack thereof concerning Jensen.

“Well we won’t know until you try, right? I mean what’s the worst that can happen?”

Jensen tried not to think about how creepy this actually was, kissing a dead guy. Tried not to think about how this would be their first kiss, although never had he imagined it occurring like this. Instead he told himself this was just more magic. He bent down and pressed his lips to Jared’s and held the contact for a few heartbeats. When he pulled back everyone waited with bated breath until a few seconds later Jared breathed in a deep lungful of oxygen, only to breathe it out in an even deeper sigh. A few more moments later and it was apparent Jared was merely asleep.

Jensen struggled back to the chair.

“Where are you going?”

“My kingdom,” Jensen mouthed and Chad piped up.

“What about Jared? He loves you.”

Jensen’s eyes welled up until tears crested and rolled down his cheeks. He gestured to himself with his good hand and shook his head. The dwarves hung their heads, knowing that Jensen did need to let his brother know he was alive but saddened at the knowledge the reunion was still going to be filled with sorrow, especially once King Arthur learned of his brother’s fate and saw with his own eyes the damage wreaked upon Jensen.

And then there was Jared. Once he woke up he would be devastated to learn of what had befallen Jensen, perhaps even more upset upon discovering the older man’s disappearance. And he would not be able to follow, for someone needed to rebuild the kingdom and the task fell upon Jared’s head. He was now the king and could not just flit about however he wished. Like it or not he now shouldered the responsibility of running a kingdom.

Jensen made sure to thank each dwarf individually, shaking their hands and receiving thanks in return which he dismissed with another shake of his head.

“Playroom,” he mouthed and the dwarves wondered why he would ever want go back inside but they led him regardless.

He made his way to the mirror, which he proceeded to draw a number of sigils on. Once he was completed he stepped back and they began to glow with a pulsating light, which disappeared along with the sigils. Once they were gone the dwarves gasped when the man climbed out of the mirror’s surface.

“Jensen,” Misha said, “I am ever in your debt for releasing me.”

Jensen shook his head and mouthed the word ‘sorry.’

“I used to dream about being set free,” Misha told him, “but I never thought it would happen. Do not apologize for needing to wait until such a time as it was safest for all to free me. You have given me a gift I can never repay.”

Jensen again shook his head but extended his good hand to Misha, who eagerly shook it.

“I am so grateful,” he said, “for now I am able to go find my brother who, when last I heard, was trapped in a mirror given to a ruthless beast of a man. I must see if I can save him.”

Goodbye, Jensen mouthed and the man squeezed his hand once more before disappearing in a rainbow of colors.


The dwarves and Jensen turned to the sound and Jensen frowned a moment before he slowly shuffled toward the noise. But he needn’t have bothered as he only rolled the wheel once before his brother came running into view. He stopped cold at the sight of Jensen and dropped to his knees.

“Sweet angels above…Jensen!” he choked out before breaking into tears, huge heaving sobs which broke Jensen out of his immobility and he wheeled over to Arthur’s side. He gingerly placed a hand on his brother’s shoulder and at the touch Arthur got to his feet and took Jensen into his arms.

“What happened to you?” Arthur demanded and Jensen opened his mouth only to close it with a pained look. Jensen quickly glanced at Doc and then away, casting his gaze to the floor.

“Beggin’ your pardon, yer majesty,” Doc said, understanding what that look had meant, “but Jensen has had his tongue cut out.”

“No,” Arthur whispered, fresh tears pooling in his eyes, “oh my sweet brother, what have they done to you?”

When Jensen didn’t reply, didn’t move his gaze away from the floor, Arthur nodded and put his arm around Jensen’s shoulder.

“It is time to go home,” He said as he kissed his brother’s temple.

On to Chapter Eight
Tags: ,

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Six

( You are about to view content that may only be appropriate for adults. )
Tags: ,

Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Five

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

“Jensen,” Jared murmured as he slowly came to reaching a hand out and feeling for his friend, “Jensen?”

“I am sorry, lad,” a voice answered and Jared thought it was one of the dwarves, though he did not open his eyes yet to see, “but Jensen is not here.”

“Why won’t that bastard just leave you alone?” Kane thundered and Jared had to wait a little to get his cough under control before he could speak.

“I asked him why he tried to kill me and he said something about me being ‘the fairest of them all now,’ whatever that means.”

“Is that exactly what he said?” Doc questioned.

“Yes, why?”

“Yes why? What does it matter what words he used? Or even that he has a reason in the first place?” Kane, truly showing why he was nicknamed ‘Grumpy,’ thundered.

“It matters because it’s the answer to everything.” Jeff explained.

“How did he learn about it?” Doc asked Jeff.

“I don’t get it, the answer to what? And how did who learn what?” Chad asked, scratching his head.

“Do you think he’s old enough to learn the truth?” Jeff answered Doc.

“I don’t think that matters, now. I think we have a bigger problem which is that now that we know what Jensen’s reasons are he’s not going to stop.” Doc said, shaking his head with a grimace.

“Will someone just tell me what’s going on please?” Jared pleaded.

“How much do you know about your father?” Jeff questioned.

“What do you mean?” Jared asked.

“Specifically the relationship between your father and your uncle?” Jeff continued.

“Oh for the love of Pete stop beating around the bush and spit it out! If you’re gonna ruin the memories the boy has just do it quick.” Doc snapped out.

And Jared kept quiet at that even though he had so many questions going around in his head, knowing that silence was the most likely path to the answers he was seeking.

“Your father used magic, though no one knows its source, to find those he wished to bed. And while the source of the magic is unknown what is known is what he would call them.” Jeff explained.

“He would call them ‘the fairest of them all,’” Doc said gently when he could see that Jared didn’t understand.

“But that’s what Jensen called me!”

“Yes, and I would suspect that he discovered the source of the magic.” Jeff added.

“I don’t understand why that would make Jensen want to kill me, though. We always got along so well.” Jared said.

Doc and Jeff shared a look but before either one could say anything Grumpy spoke up.

“Probably jealous you were about to be the fair one.”

Doc shook his head and addressed Jared.

“Would you have said Jensen was fair?”

“Yes, in fact I would have thought him to be the fairest in the land,” Jared admitted in a low voice, blushing madly and directing his gaze to the floor. And when he looked up Doc and the other dwarf were nodding at each other. “Please explain to me what you know.”

“Jensen is actually Prince Jensen, from Acklandia. ‘Tis a small kingdom—” Jeff began.

“To the south, yes I have heard of it. From Jensen, actually. But he never told me he was its prince.” Jared interrupted, mind swimming. Jensen was a prince?

“Probably because from the moment he was taken captive he knew he no longer ruled the land but was merely a prisoner.” Jeff continued.

“Who’s been ruling Acklandia? Did my father usurp the throne?”

“No, Jensen has an older brother, Arthur. He was gone on an extended hunting trip when your father attacked and so the throne fell to him unexpectedly that day. I suspect no one there knows Jensen is even alive.” Jeff told him.

“But why was Jensen taken in the first place?”

“You said it yerself, boy; he’s the fairest in the land.” Doc told him.

And suddenly Jared understood all those injuries of which Jensen refused to speak. His father had bedded anyone considered fair by the magic. And Jensen had obviously been taken because of his fairness.

“And when my father died my uncle took over where my father left off,” Jared said quietly.

“Yes, I’m afraid so.”

“Why didn’t Jensen escape? Or rather, once he did in fact escape why come after me? Why didn’t he return to Acklandia?”

“I suspect your Jensen is quite the smart boy. He would know that should he return to his kingdom his brother would have no choice but to defend his honor by proclaiming war on your kingdom. I would wager Jensen stayed to ensure your safety as well as that of his people.” Jeff said.

And for the moment Jared ignored the flutter in his heart at the thought of Jensen truly being his Jensen.

“So what made him change my mind and want to kill me?”

“He’s not trying to kill you, Jared; he’s trying to save you.” Doc stated.

“Save me?”

“From his fate. Somehow he knows you’re the next to be proclaimed the fairest in the land and he wishes to spare you his fate.”

“And is what he has endured truly worse than death?” Jared whispered, afraid to ask but needing to hear the truth.

“If even half the tales I’ve heard are true, then aye, lad. ‘Tis worse than you or I can imagine.”

“What have you heard?”

“No, I’ll not be spreading tales such as those. Suffice it to say your uncle was tempered by your father. But when he killed him he also destroyed any restraint he may have shown. Before your father and uncle joined forces none of those who were proclaimed ‘fairest of them all’ were killed. Eventually the King tired of them, it was said, and one day they were simply banished. That is how tales were able to be told. But then your father found someone who he kept for many years, and she only died once your uncle came to live with you.”

“Not my mother,” Jared said, knowing the truth although his heart did not want to accept it as such, “not my poor mother.”

“I’m sorry Jared, but I fear that is indeed the case, though I wish it were not so.”

“I had always wanted to discover the truth of what happened to her,” Jared said “And I had often wondered if my father was right, that she did indeed leave us one day because she simply didn’t want to be with us anymore.”

“No, Jared, everyone who ever knew your mother knew that you were the light of her life, and she would never have left you willingly.”

Just like he wouldn’t have left Jensen willingly, even if he thought he was about to die. Although honestly, come to think about it—

“Jensen is not doing such a great job of killing me.” Jared mused.


And Jared blushed as he thought he hadn’t said that part out loud.

“I mean everything he has done has been pretty easy to get out of. I mean yes I have technically died but that is only until someone comes along to free me from whatever it is he has done.”

“That’s true,” Doc mused, “I hadn’t noticed that. Very perceptive, young Jared. Very perceptive indeed.”

“So what does that tell us about the magic?” Jeff asked Doc.

“Jensen obviously doesn’t want the boy dead forever, just for a short time. So Theroux must divine who is the fairest on a regular basis. And Jensen must know how, and he must have intercepted the magic somehow and learned it was Jared and he needed to make sure Jared was not the answer the next time, that it was still his name or else Theroux would kill him and go after Jared.”

“Where is Grumpy?” Jared asked, just now noticing the dwarf was gone.

“You do not think he went after Jensen, do you?” Jeff asked Doc.

Doc groaned.

“That idjit! Come on, we must get to Jensen before he does.”

On to Chapter Six
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Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Four

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

Jensen had waited the three days necessary and he felt as though they were the longest three days he had spent since being brought to the castle. And then it was the last night he was being called for…or so he had thought.

“I have thought of a new way for us to play,” Theroux had announced as Jensen was brought in.

Jensen could see that Theroux had a heavy mallet, the kind of instrument he had seen blacksmiths use to help strike the metal into its proper shape. He cringed at the thought of Theroux inserting any part of it inside of any part of him and he tried to brace himself as Theroux came over. But Theroux did not insert the object into Jensen… instead he used it to break both of Jensen’s legs.

Jensen screamed and Theroux laughed.

And that had ended Jensen’s hope of escape for at least the next three months as he had been placed into two casts which restricted his movements. The guards had a wheeled chair they used to push Jensen to Theroux, who had not ceased his lust for Jensen at all, in fact Jensen’s injuries seemed to only increase Theroux’s ardor, as the jarring of the casts caused Jensen to cry out.

Jensen had thought Theroux would tire of his constant screams but instead the opposite was true. His latest ploy was to bind Jensen’s waist in a corset and then pull the laces tighter and tighter until the lack of oxygen caused Jensen to pass out. Then Theroux would do whatever he wished and loosen the laces just enough to bring Jensen back to consciousness. And upon regaining consciousness Jensen would begin screaming uncontrollably, having been brought back to a world of only pain. Over and over the cycle repeated itself and Theroux would always send Jensen back to his cell still wrapped in the corset which would be removed when Jensen was bathed the next night.

Unless Jensen happened to remove it beforehand which he had slowly been able to begin doing. And he had come up with a new plan. He had to somehow get back to Misha, the man in the mirror. If he was able to free him then Theroux would lose his access to magic. Jensen would enchant the corset the same as he had done with the comb he had used on Jared and he would allow the guards to find his body. If they didn’t burn him or bury him but merely toss him away he had a chance of being found or the corset being torn. It was an extremely risky plan which depended on so many things Jensen could not control. But he began with the corset, cursing the breaks in his legs as they hampered his movements as he slowly worked his way out of the garment.

Those breaks were the reason Jensen was still there when Jared snuck back into the castle a little over two months later.

Even though Jared appreciated all that dwarves had done for him and had even become friends with them over the last couple of months his mind was never far from Jensen. Chad teased him about how often Jensen’s name came up in their conversations, always finding a way to interject “And what would Jensen say?” or some variation thereof whenever they would talk. But Jared’s most constant way of working Jensen into a conversation would be to ask when they were going to go back to Jared’s castle in order to find out about Jensen. He eventually managed to convince the dwarves to go…at least Jeff and Jim, or Happy and Doc as he had come to know them.

And he had been filled with excitement at the thought of seeing Jensen, of finally being back together. Though the dwarves were nice they weren’t Jensen, and being taken away from him so abruptly had hurt, to put it mildly. And not knowing what had happened was tearing at him but then he actually saw Jensen.

Jared had managed to work his way ahead of the dwarves so he was the first to get to Jensen’s cell. And when he got the door open he was glad he was alone as the sight before him brought him to his knees.


Jensen’s eyes snapped open when he heard his name coming from the very last person he would have ever expected to see again.

“Jared,” Jensen breathed out, trying and failing to lever himself up, “what are you doing here? You need to leave!”

All Jared wanted to do was wrap Jensen up in his arms and never let him go. So he was not listening to anything Jensen was saying, instead focused on how they weren’t going to be apart ever again. He still didn’t understand how they had come to be separated but nothing mattered now, nothing but being with Jensen, who was trying to talk to him, he belatedly realized.

“What?” Jared said and he felt all gooey inside when Jensen’s agitated face melted into a soft smile.

“Jared you need to go and you need to go now,” Jensen said quietly, ignoring Jared’s head shaking and continuing to speak, “just go before anyone sees you. I don’t know how you managed to make it here alone but—”

“I am not alone,” Jared said, “Doc and Happy are with me and a lucky thing that is too as I am not sure I can manage to carry you by myself with your injuries being thus.”

“Doc and Happy are here?” Jensen said and Jared nodded, liking how relaxed the words made Jensen. “Well then I suppose that changes things. I need you to do something for me, Jared.”

“Anything,” Jared declared fervently.

“Do you see that garment?” Jensen said, pointing to the floor beside his cot and Jared nodded as he saw the piece of fabric in question. “I want to take it with me, with us. But you need both of your hands free to help me so will you tie it about your waist and then it will be time to go.”

It was a strange request and Jared could not find a reason to deny it, nor did he try to, more concerned with getting Jensen out of the cell. He went over to Jensen’s side and picked up the item and seeing laces on it he wrapped it around himself. When it started to tighten on its own he scrabbled to remove it and looked at Jensen who had his eyes closed but there were tears pouring out from beneath the closed lids.

“Why did you try to kill me?” Jared croaked out.

Jensen paused at that and for a long few moments all the two did was look at each other. But finally Jensen gave a small shake of his head and an even smaller, infinitely sad smile. And while Jared didn’t understand a lot or really anything about this whole situation he was beginning to understand that Jensen didn’t want him dead. Which didn’t make any sense seeing as he was actively trying to end Jared’s life.

“Because you’re the fairest of them all now.” Jensen proclaimed sadly.

Jared felt the darkness enclosing his senses and he lacked the breath to say anything else and he collapsed to the floor.

Doc and Happy made their way into the cell some minutes later and gasped.

“Jensen! Sweet angels of mercy! What has happened?” Doc said.
“Get him out of here,” Jensen hissed, “and this time do not allow him to return! Please! There is only death for him here.”

“My prince—” Happy said but Jensen shook his head.

“Go!” Jensen snapped, “You only have but a moment! And do not remove the corset until you have crossed the sea, do you understand? Now go and do as I say!”

On to Chapter Five
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Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Three

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

It had only taken a moment to complete his plan...at least that is how it felt to Jensen as he snuck back into his cell after having watched the horse carrying Jared away as long as he dared. Now he had barely any time left for rest and he would surely need it, always one of the torture sessions felt worse if he had not managed to sleep. He had only just fallen asleep when he heard the sound of the armed guards arriving and he braced himself for the night ahead, knowing that it was almost the last of it, that as soon as three days had passed he would be able to enact his own escape. That was enough time for Jared to have arrived at the shipyard and for Doc to have received Jensen’s note and to have brought Jared on board.

Jared had never felt so strange. If this was a dream then surely it was the most peculiar one he had ever had. He felt disconnected from his body, as if he were merely floating, and then suddenly there was nothing. He was breathing, that was all he knew. He did not like the way he was feeling, did not like the aloneness he was experiencing. If he was dreaming then surely all he had to do was wake up and all would be well. If he were lucky Jensen was still there. And at the thought of Jensen Jared began to focus on waking up, and it was slow going but finally he felt himself fall back into his body fully and he opened his eyes. Only to have them widen in terror as he realized he was in a strange place he surely had not been in before.

“Where am I?” Jared asked, looking about in fright. After only a moment though he noticed something, or more specifically the lack of something, which made him feel positively terrified. “Where’s Jensen?”

“So you know Jensen?”

Jared focused on the speaker, an older dwarf who was peering at him in what appeared to be concern. Then what he had been asked registered with him.

“Yes I do,” Jared said, “where is he? What has happened?”

“All I know is Jensen sent you to us.” The dwarf said and Jared actually took in his surroundings and saw that he was in a wood-paneled room and there was a small gathering, perhaps half a dozen, dwarves gathered around the palette he was lying on. Their expressions mostly seemed kind although there was one whose brows were drawn together as if Jared was a disturbance of some sort.

“Who is ‘us’? Who are you?” Jared questioned, searching for Jensen and only seeing the small group of dwarves.

“I’m Jim,” the dwarf who had been speaking said, “but you can call me Doc. This here’s my best friend Jeff, everybody calls him Happy.”

Jared looked over at the dwarf Jim was pointing to, the next oldest of the lot who indeed seemed happy to see Jared if the smile on his face was any indication. Jared nodded politely.

“I’m Chad,” Another dwarf, who had a shaved head, announced proudly.

“We call him Dopey,” another dwarf said, pausing to sneeze afterwards.

“Yeah all right, how about I call you Sneezy?” Chad said before turning back to Jared. “I’ll introduce you to the rest of the gang. This here’s Aldis, and Steve, and Tom, who you know as Sneezy.”

“And I’m Kane,” the dwarf who had been and in fact still was scowling at Jared, interrupted.

“I call him Grumpy,” Chad told Jared in a stage whisper.

“You can try it,” Kane said, “and then we’ll start calling you dead.”

“Who are you all?” Jared asked, “And where am I?”

“We’re jewel manufacturers,” Chad explained, picking up a pair of the largest diamonds Jared had ever seen, “we mine gems and then we transform them into jewelry for distinguished clientele. As for where you are you’re on a boat, our boat, to be precise.”

“You are miners?”

“Most of the time, although I think there’s potential in these here diamonds for uses beyond simple adornments,” Chad said, holding up the large gems to his eyes and looking through them as if they were spectacles. When Jared looked over at him Chad wiggled his ears and stuck out his tongue, making Jared laugh. Most of the other dwarves soon joined in.

“Boy you really are Dopey,” Kane groused, “put those down and quit acting like an idiot.”

“All right all right,” Jim or Doc or whatever his name was, said with a gruff laugh, “we need to find out what has happened to Jensen. So Jared, tell us what you know about Jensen and how you came to be dead.”

“Dead?” Jared said on a gasp, “I am dead?”

“Not anymore,” Jeff said with a kind smile, “but you were until we removed a comb from your hair.”

“Jensen was brushing my hair,” Jared said, suddenly remembering, “And then there was a sort of a pinching sensation and then I remember nothing.”

“Well the comb was enchanted to kill you,” Grumpy said, “and if we hadn’t pulled it out you’d still be dead.”

“So why does Jensen want you dead?” Chad said, “And who is Jensen, anyway?”

“Jensen was a prisoner in my father’s castle these past few years, same as I was.”

“Wait! You’re Prince Jared of Lecce?” Jeff exclaimed.

“I am, though it has been a long time since I was called by that title.”

“And Jensen is a prisoner?” Jim said, sharing a look with Jeff.

“I heard you were both dead,” Tom piped in, “how wonderful to know you are both alive!”

“But Jensen is still a prisoner! I must return to him!”

“How do you know he didn’t escape?” Aldis asked.

“I do not,” Jared said, “but my last memory is of us in the cell, together. Until I have seen with my own eyes that he is safe I must believe he is still held captive.”

And Jared was quickly becoming distraught, not knowing what had happened to Jensen. Earning his freedom tasted bitter without the other man with him. Although he relished the idea of their freedom he would rather remain a captive if it also meant having Jensen with him. And now he was who knows where with people he didn’t know and Jensen was—where? Where was he? What had happened? Chad and Steve tried to comfort Jared as best they could while Tom and Aldis went about preparing some food.

“I’m goin’ back to the wheel,” Kane announced before taking his leave.

Jeff pulled Jim away to a quiet corner of the room so they wouldn’t be overheard.

“What do you think?”

“I think there’s more to the story than we know, more than even the boy here realizes,” Jim said, “and as much as I want to send word to Arthur I can’t get his hopes up.”

Jeff nodded.

“We must find out for ourselves if Jensen still lives, for I would never forgive myself either if we were to contact Arthur only for it to turn out to be another Jensen entirely or worse, if the boy has suffered some terrible fate for releasing Jared.”

“It seems as though Jared knows nothing about Jensen and who he really is,” Jim said,
“And I would not betray the secret Jensen has kept until such time as it is necessary.”

“I agree,” Jeff said quietly, “but what should we do about the boy?”

“Jensen asked us to keep him away, probably out of fear of the boy being recaptured. The fact that Jensen had to use so much magic to allow the boy to find us worries me, as does the lad’s death. Why did he need to be dead until he was here with us?”

“There are many troubling things about this account,” Jeff agreed, “But how do we keep the boy away while we try and find Jensen? You can see from his emotions how he cares for Jensen, it will not be an easy task to persuade him to remain here while we check out the castle.”

On to Chapter Four
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Ever After Fic Challenge Chapter Two

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Author: locifan
Rating: PG mostly, then R so probably NSFW to be safe
Word Count: just shy of 17K
Notes: No spoilers for anything, really.

Disclaimer: Jared and Jensen’s families haven’t put themselves into the limelight. Therefore I have changed their names accordingly. You’ll see familiar CW names and the like but siblings and such will be fictional. Sorry if that bothers you. Thanks to the mods for putting on another great challenge, we’ll all be sorry to have you go!

On with the story…

While Jensen hated King Marcus he was not too proud to admit he was terrified of the king’s brother, Theroux. If it came to a choice between the two of them Jensen would pick Marcus every time. For while Marcus would perform and force Jensen to perform acts no human should be made to suffer Theroux liked pain. And he enjoyed inflicting pain to an unhealthy degree. Plus he wanted to mark Jensen’s skin with burns and cuts and who knows what else but so far Theroux had only managed to be left alone with Jensen once, although once was enough for Jensen to have been left scarred by some instrument of torture Theroux had utilized before Marcus came back in.

Jensen could see that night of torture the beginning of what was to come. Marcus had returned and had been enraged to find Theroux had “damaged” Jensen as he had. Their fight had been loud and long and when Theroux finally bowed to Marcus Jensen couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. The way Theroux was looking at Marcus indicated there was retribution coming.

And Jensen was right. Not two months later Theroux staged a coup and it was a violent bloody night the likes of which Jensen would never forget. But as for Jensen he had someone else to protect—Jared.

Once the king had been murdered and Theroux had usurped the throne Jared had been thrown into the cell next to Jensen’s, and the two young men only had each other for companions. True to his intention Jared had snuck out to visit Jensen whenever he could, which ended up being once or twice a week. The young man had slowly but surely wormed his way into Jensen’s heart. Before he had been thrown into the dungeons he always had a kind word for everyone, and even after he became a prisoner he still found a smile for Jensen whenever they would meet. Jensen had used some of his magic, risking the repercussions, in order to loosen one of the stone blocks which made up the shared wall of their cells. No one ever went to visit Jared and Jensen was only ever called for at night so by day the two would sneak into one another’s cells and sit together and talk. This was how they had grown so close. But Jensen was always looking for a way to safely leave the palace and get himself and Jared to safety.

Finally that closeness had driven Jensen to consider something he’d given up on long before. Even though Jared was the rightful heir Jensen feared for his life. Theroux was keeping him alive for now and thankfully had seemed to completely dismiss him from his thoughts but there was no telling why Jared was still alive nor how long his luck would continue to hold. If Jensen could get Jared outside the palace they might marshal a force strong enough to challenge and defeat Theroux. They would have to rely on mercenaries for Jensen disliked the idea of their people coming to harm but it could be done. He knew it could be done.

And one day he was escorted to the playroom where Theroux was waiting for him as usual but before he could get started on his nightly “playtime” a messenger arrived and called Theroux away.

Jensen was left alone in the space and he took the opportunity to look around. He came upon a large cabinet which he opened gingerly. There behind the doors was a large mirror, beneath which were shelves which housed various items, one of which was a spell book. Curious to read it Jensen pulled it off the shelf and opened it. He had only managed to read through a few spells before he realized they all had the same thing in common—they were all spells designed to enchant objects into becoming instruments of death.


Jensen’s head snapped up and he found himself face to face with a man in the mirror. The man was floating in circles and Jensen frowned at him for a moment.

“Who are you?”

“I am Misha, servant of the mirror,” the man replied, “and you are Jensen.”

“Yes I am.”

“I am sorry for your lot,” Misha told him gravely, “And I would help you if I could but I am trapped here by a spell. But maybe it will help you to know your suffering is almost over?”

“Almost over? What do you mean?”

“It means there will soon be a new name I shall announce to my master.”

“A new name?”

“Yes. My masters ask me for the name of the fairest in the land and I provide it to them, albeit unwillingly. Yours was the most recent name.”

“Who is next?” Jensen asked, wondering if he could somehow get out and warn that person; encourage them to leave the land. “And if I were to get them out across the borders would that save them from being so named?”

“They would have to go to the sea, for that is as far as my sight currently extends,” Misha told him with a frown, “but I do not think you will be able to warn them.”

“I must do something,” Jensen insisted, “I cannot simply allow some innocent to suffer if I can stop it.”

“You are a strange one,” Misha mused, “but very well. I shall tell you the name of the next person…it is Prince Jared.”

All the color drained from Jensen’s face.

“No,” he whispered in a terrified tone, “no, not my poor Jared? I must save him! But how?”

But Jensen’s musing would have to wait for another day as he heard the sound of the king’s armed escort which meant Theroux would soon be back in the room.

“Thank you,” Jensen whispered to Misha, “And someday I shall try and free you as well.”

So saying he shut the door and went back over to the dais and tried to prepare himself for whatever torture Theroux had decided to inflict that night. Afterwards Jensen was dragged back to his cell and he tried to remain quiet enough that he wouldn’t wake Jared. But really, after the past three years spent next to one another in those cells Jared suddenly hadn’t developed the ability to sleep soundly through the night any more than Jensen had. Jared was bored, he claimed, without Jensen there but Jensen always pointed out he usually slept for a few hours at least when he would return from his sessions with Theroux so it’s not like he presented Jared with any entertainment value.

“I sleep better when you’re here,” Jared insisted and so usually Jared was awake and waiting for him, and that night was no different. He crawled through the hole in the wall and curled up next to Jensen, not saying a word but he yawned loudly and Jensen knew he’d once again waited to sleep until Jensen had returned. Jensen waited for the pain to reduce to a manageable level and decided he would have to use his magic to save Jared. He could think of no other way. He only hoped the repercussions weren’t going to be beyond his ability to handle.

But how to accomplish it? If they were discovered before they reached the borders of Jensen’s homeland they were as good as dead, and Jensen at least only had a day’s head start. Assuming they left almost immediately after his session with Theroux there was only that day before Jensen would be noticed missing. And really, the likelihood of Jensen being able to travel immediately after a session was very slim, and if he could manage it he could not manage it with any haste.

But Jared could.

Suddenly Jensen saw what needed to happen unfold in his mind like a fan. He had to get Jared out, and what’s more he had to get him beyond Misha’s sight. So the best way to do that was to somehow get Jared to go to the sea, to where he would be safe from detection. But there was no way of knowing when next Misha would be asked for a name, not unless he managed to get some time alone with the man in the mirror once more. No, Jensen could not rely on anyone but himself in this. He couldn’t let Jared know what was happening either, or else the lad would surely protest at Jensen’s plan.

Jensen briefly wondered if the time had finally come to let Jared know who he really was but he dismissed that thought almost as soon as he had it. No, if he let Jared know he was Prince Jensen then there was every chance Jared would run to Jensen’s brother Arthur for aid. Jensen paused for a moment to allow the grief which appeared at thoughts of his family to dissipate. No, Jared could not get Arthur involved for if he did their kingdoms would go to war and lives would be needlessly lost. Better to save lives by sacrificing his own.

And then he knew what he had to do. The only way to ensure Jared’s name was not called was for Jared to die.

But how to kill Jared without actually killing him? His mind flashed back to the spell book he found, to the spells which enchanted objects into becoming instruments of death. If he enchanted an object weakly enough then in theory Jared would only remain dead so long as he remained in contact with that object. Assuming that worked then the rest of Jensen’s plan was actually quite simple. He could easily enchant a horse to carry Jared away, and he could send him to Doc.

The dwarf had lived in Jensen’s kingdom for a few years during Jensen’s childhood. His name wasn’t actually Doc that was just what Jensen called him since the dwarf was skilled in healing. And Jensen knew the dwarf had left his kingdom to become a merchant and that his business was conducted between their land and in the land across the sea, meaning he had access to a boat. Jensen had long considered both Doc and his most frequent companion (another dwarf whose constant smile caused Jensen to nickname him “Happy,”) friends so he knew Jared would be safe in their hands.

Once Jensen had a plan in place he felt an odd sort of calm settle over him. Now that he knew he could make sure Jared was safe he let go of all his other fears. For that was the most important thing, he realized. Jared being safe. And he also realized why the young man’s safety was so important to him…he was in love with him. How strange that he should find love in such an unlikely place. But how fortunate, too, that he had the chance to experience love before he died. He knew there were many people who traveled the road of life alone and he had never before thought to feel pity for them.

And he tried not to feel pity for himself, either, as he looked over at Jared sleeping next to him. Tried not to let the sadness overwhelm him as he contemplated the short span of his life once Jared left. For once he was safe then too could Jensen escape. But Jensen would escape only to find an army to lead, and he had no illusions about his chances of surviving a battle. It had been too long since he had wielded a sword and he could simply not afford the time it would take to retrain his body to be what it once was.

Though he did allow himself a few moments to imagine what their life together would have been like, should they have been granted different fates and of course if Jared had felt the same way about Jensen as he did for Jared. Mayhap they would have been married, would have built a kingdom together that they ruled by day and loved each other regardless of the hour. He would like to wake up to Jared’s visage every morning, see that smiling face as he welcomed the dawn. He would like to retire each evening with him as well, hold him close as they slept. Shaking his head he intentionally blanked his mind, knowing that he had to get in as much sleep as he could. Tonight he was going to steal a comb from the bathing pool he was taken to before each session with Theroux, and he would enchant it to keep Jared in a state of suspended life until someone pulled it from his hair. So he only had this night day to relish in the young man’s proximity and he wanted to remember how it had felt to sleep next to him, knowing it would never happen again.

On to Chapter Three
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