Saving Grace

Chapter 3

Jared never thought to anticipate being blown off by Jensen. Even after the other man showed up twenty minutes late with no explanation, Jared never considered the possibility of him actually flat out deciding not to show, especially after their meeting at the coffee shop had gone so well. Yet here he was, dogs on their leashes beside him, and the rest of the park bustle going on around his little bench. And no Jensen.

Jared didn’t know what to think. It was nearly two hours past his meeting time with Jensen, and yet he’d still received no explanation for his absence. Playing with the dogs hadn’t helped take his mind off the situation at all, and wallowing in self pity on a park bench probably wasn’t the most sensible course of action.

With a heavy heart, Jared gave up and stood up, the dogs following his actions to walk beside him. If Jensen wasn’t going to show up then he wasn’t worth waiting for an explanation from. Sure, Jared wasn’t too angry; they hardly knew each other and missing one meet up wasn’t exactly destroying a friendship. But he couldn’t help but wonder what he’d done wrong.

During their coffee shop meeting, Jared had quickly realised that he’d developed a crush on Jensen. He didn’t take it too hard, since every crush he’d had since before high school had either gone unnoticed or he just never had the courage to bring it up with them. Considering Jensen was such a rich and good looking lawyer, and even out of Jared’s league as a friend, this was likely to go in the exact same way.

But what if he’d shown it just a little too much this time? He’d been so relaxed sat opposite Jensen with a coffee and a constant stream of conversation about jobs and interests that maybe he’d allowed himself to let down his mask and now Jensen was running. It wasn’t likely, since Jensen seemed like the kind of guy to talk and ask questions to sort out Jared’s feelings rather than run away and hide, but Jensen had still confessed to being useless when it came to social situations and etiquettes. Perhaps running was the only thing he knew.

Slowing his thoughts, Jared let himself calm down in the heat of the afternoon sun as he walked along the central path through the park that would take him to the exit. The bright golden flares peeked through the trees on either side of the road and a light breeze ran through the leaves, scattering light and ruffling Jared’s hair. At least, despite the issues he had with his life, he’d chosen a beautiful place to live.

He was so calmed by the warmth of the sunlight and the chirp of wildlife that he almost missed the slight vibration of his mobile in his pocket. It was his day off, so he really couldn’t imagine Misha having any need to contact him. His parents never really bothered anymore.

Which left Jensen.

Jared paused to pull out his phone and check the new text message. His whole body seemed to relax from its wound tight tension when Jensen’s name popped up on the screen.

Sorry I couldn’t be there today. Got cases coming in left right and centre. Next thursday, same time, the cafe round the back of my offices. I’ll make it up to you.


Despite the text being void of any real emotion, Jared was left beaming. Of course. It was just work that kept Jensen away.

Feeling incredibly stupid for ever doubting the other man, Jared moved with newfound energy and vigor, dogs following, and walked towards the exit of the park. There was no point hanging around any longer when his worries were gone. He had work to do at home, and with long hours during the rest of the week his days off were a blessing.


Jensen was already feeling like the shittiest person in the world, and it was only two hours after the meeting time he and Jared had arranged.

When the opportunity for a case arose, he snagged it as soon as possible and he knew, despite how much he pretended otherwise, that he was only doing this to avoid Jared. He’d immersed himself in case files and writing notes for nearly two days straight now, and hadn’t even had the courage to text Jared.

He just couldn’t deal with the fact that the other man would be so disappointed. Jensen had picked up how energetic and excitable Jared could become when put into his comfort zone, and for some reason unknown to Jensen, Jared had decided he counted as a comfort zone.

Really, deep down, he was more worried about his own feelings. It wasn’t about being gay; that had been a niggling suspicion in the back of his mind for years. The problem was that he just hadn’t felt romantic attraction in so long that he had long since forgotten how to handle it. The idea of simply turning to Jared and telling him he was attractive and would like to take their friendship further was enough to make Jensen blanch and curl his fingers tighter around his pen in discomfort. He wanted to be with Jared, but at the same time didn’t want to put himself through the pain of always forcing out words and attraction, and put Jared through the pain of having to deal with his awful approaches and terrible conversation.

With a resigned sigh, Jensen picked his phone off the edge of his desk where it’d been taunting him for hours with it’s blank screen and lack of text from Jared.

His message was terribly short, and for a few moments after he’d hit send in a rush he wished he could go back and change the words. He did care about Jared, and losing sight of that because of a terrible reaction to a crush would be the worst thing. He hoped his invitation for yet another meet up would be enough for Jared, and he hadn’t wrecked his chances too badly. Somehow, he didn’t think that would be too much of a problem.


The cafe was a rather small shop that turned out to be literally right behind Jensen’s offices. Attached to them, in fact. It was the kind of place where you’d much prefer to grab a sandwich from the counter and be on your way back to work than take a seat and settle in, but this meant it was almost always a quiet and secluded area for a chat.

Jensen knew as he walked up to the door that he’d overdressed. Old habits died hard, it seemed, and glancing down his body he quickly realised that the navy cotton sweater and large black belt were, to put it lightly, over the top for such a casual meeting place.

Nevertheless, he walked into the shop and sat at the furthest table from the counter, self consciousness kicking up high when the till worker glanced over at him.

After only a couple of minutes Jared entered the shop, and Jensen immediately envied the easily casual clothes he was wearing. Jared was so normal, and it was almost unfair.

He sat at the table, and Jensen immediately rushed into an apology.

“Look, I’m so sorry I couldn’t meet you at the park. Work is stressful and has no set hours and the case just came out of nowhere-”

Jared held up a hand to stop Jensen from talking.

“Jensen. It’s fine, I forgive you.” The smile on his face was light and genuine, and Jensen couldn’t help but blush a little. God dammit.

“Now, I hear this place has good cake. I’d love to see for myself,” Jared said with a wider grin, and Jensen relaxed into his seat. This would be easy. They could talk about sports, music, anything they liked now that the awkward first stage of talking about nothing but work and hometowns was over with.

After half an hour of easy conversation (and cake) Jensen was really starting to wonder when they were going to take the conversation out of the cafe. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy the quiet and lack of eavesdroppers, but the woman working the till was throwing them looks that had started as being annoyance, but had soon morphed into a weird sort of excitement, and he knew she was waiting for them to do something like kiss or link hands. It was ridiculous, really.

Jensen was torn from his thoughts by a vibration and chime from his pocket. Jared paused mid-sentence and watched as Jensen fumbled for his mobile.

Ackles, I thought you were working this case? We’ve got more paperwork and you’re not picking up your home phone, so wherever you are, get down to the office.


Part of Jensen wanted to laugh hysterically at how formal the text from one of his coworkers was. The other part wanted to break down in tears with the fact that just when he’d gotten a hold on himself and started to converse well with someone for the first time in his life, he was being dragged away by his pretentious colleagues and exhausting job.

“Jensen?” Jared asked quietly. He was looking concerned, so Jensen hated to think how he’d reacted to reading the text.

“I... This is bad timing, really bad. But I got a text from work. My case...” He couldn’t figure out a way of saying he had to leave early without sounding horrible and cold.

Jared leaned over and patted his hand.

“Hey, it’s okay. You have an important job. Go and win that case, Jensen,” he said with a smile. Jensen nodded and stood. He gave an awkward wave at a still smiling Jared as he walked backwards, and only turned when he hit the door. It was a good thing that Jared had smiled and accepted it, but the problem was, he couldn’t tell if the smile had reached his eyes.

Jared dropped his forced grin as soon as the door swung shut. His piece of cake suddenly seemed unappetizing and sickening, and the call of his pets to try and cheer himself up was all he could focus on.

As he stood his eyes made involuntary contact with the woman at the counter. She was staring at him with wide eyes, and he knew she’d seen right through the smile. She silently held up a chocolate chip cookie from the bag next to the till, and Jared silently declined. Food wasn’t going to help him at all right now.

The walk home seemed longer than ever, and by the time he was dragging his feet through the front door, the hot sun that never seemed to be too far away in this city had caused sweat to pour down his face and soak through the collar of his shirt. His jeans were suddenly a very bad choice.

But with the dogs leaping at his legs as soon as the door swung open, his heart lifted a little from where it felt to have fallen deep in his ribcage. It was something about unconditional love coupled with the human way they could pick up his mood and react to it, and it never failed to cheer him up.

“C’mon you two. Let’s go see Pepper,” he said, and could only hope that dogs couldn’t tell hoarse forced out words from his regular excitable chatter. They bounced a little and ran towards the back door, so Jared figured he was safe from having Sadie nudging him and trying to cuddle with him to make him feel better for hours. He just needed to stay busy.

The dogs sniffed the rabbit but gave it a disinterested look. The animals were competitive about wanting Jared to love them more (or at least, that was how he interpreted their indifference to each other but sudden upped game of running and butting his leg). Jared ran his fingers through the fur of the rabbit for a few more moments before letting her down to run around. The dogs snapped to attention at this though, and a game of chase round his garden seemed to begin.

Watching the animals, Jared had no distractions from his thoughts. Once again, Jensen had ditched him. Sure, he’d done it for work every time, but did he really have to arrange a cafe... date, when he knew he was in the middle of a case? It was just inviting fate to fuck with them. He always made an effort to meet with Jensen when he knew it wouldn’t get in the way of his work, but when it came to Jensen’s own he seemed to have no problems.

Jared wasn’t good with empathy. But when he looked into Jensen’s eyes while they talked he was almost certain he’d seen affection. Now, he really didn’t care whether that meant friendship or romance, because surely if Jensen really felt that, he’d make more of an effort for Jared?

Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe since every time so far his work had interrupted their plans, he was just going to keep making them until finally he could have an uninterrupted meet up and pay Jared back for helping him out. Then they’d go their separate ways, never seeing each other again except for on the occasional day they turned up at work at the same time.

No, no, he couldn’t believe Jensen would be like that. That cold. But then again, he’d seen how quickly Jensen could change from being friendly and joking around to businesslike as soon as he got out in the open with Jared. He’d probably been embarrassed to be seen in such a high class area with someone as awkward and badly dressed as Jared.

He could feel a panic attack welling up inside, so he desperately reached for something to calm him. Pepper was making a desperate leap to try and win their running game around the grass, and Jared quickly pulled the animal into his arms. He wasn’t sure how well rabbits could do empathy with humans, but the young male rabbit wasn’t fighting back and was letting him bury his face against the soft speckled fur.

Jared’s mobile dug into his thigh from the awkward position as he attempted to calm his breathing, and he suddenly realised he couldn’t get through this without knowing for certain whether or not Jensen was really fucking him over and just going to ditch him as soon as this was done with.

He dug out the phone and quickly typed a message, not even letting himself proofread before hitting send.

Bowling next week. You up for it?

Now all he could do was wait.


Jared woke up at the first peek of the sun above the horizon when the day of the bowling came. His texts with Jensen had been very short to arrange where to meet and when, but he still had hope that it was enough to sway Jensen into realising that Jared was serious about - at the very least - a friendship, and that he could put aside his work just for one moment. The trial for the case he was working was still months away, and Jensen had already accidentally let slip that he was manic about working and could get a case file complete and ready way in advance for the trial itself. At this point, Jensen really had no excuses.

There were a few hours to waste before heading down to the bowling alley, but the dogs seemed to have picked up on his nerves and were bouncing a little, trying to distract him and get him to play. There was only so much time he could spend throwing tennis balls across his back garden before his legs started to cramp from crouching though, and as much as he loathed to do so, there was still a bit of housework that could take his mind off the inevitable.

With the bins placed outside the back gate and Harley resting outside next to the rabbit hutch while Sadie made herself comfortable on the floor beside the sofa, he was well and truly out of distractions. With just under an hour to go, he couldn’t avoid the fact that the bus would be at the bottom of his road in only fifteen minutes to take him into the town.

Jittery with nerves, Jared walked down the street and tried to push away his negative thoughts. He’d arranged this ‘final date’ type occasion solely to figure out whether Jensen believed him to be annoying and clingy, or whether he really did care but was terrible at expressing emotions. A large part of his mind was still stuck on how Jensen really didn’t care and had wanted to give up on Jared after the first thank you coffee, but had been too polite to decline every other time. It was a dismal thought, but undoubtedly probable.

He had hope. When he’d walked through the doors into the darkened foyer of the bowling alley, the masses of people coming for a game with their friends on a free weekend had almost been stifling. Teenagers occupied the majority of the space, and appeared to have gravitated together into a larger gang in the amusement arcade area. Jared took care to take a seat on the opposite side of the foyer to the teens.

With such a huge number of visitors, Jensen was bound to be somewhere amongst the thrall of noise. Jared took out his phone and quickly typed a message to Jensen, the animated atmosphere following through into his text.

The benches opposite the arcade. It’s chaos, so try not to get swept away!
See you soon, J!

Jared’s eyes spent the following ten minutes flicking between the dispersing crowds in the foyer, and the large glass entrance doors. Jensen was tall, and almost definitely going to be overdressed. He wouldn’t be difficult to see, would he?

Jared began to doubt his eyesight as the ten minute mark passed, and took out his phone again. No messages. He could only imagine that Jensen was stuck in slow moving traffic and unable to reply to the text.

Jared lost track of the time as he moved unconsciously over to the cafe area. He didn’t remember the events that led up to him ordering a large soda and burger. Emotion started to flow back when the food was almost finished, and Jared found his throat beginning to tighten, restricting his airflow and preventing him from continuing the food.

Still feeling disconnected, and as if he was going to enter reality in a shocking breath of air any moment, he left his food and moved with smooth haste towards the doors.

He didn’t surface into reality until he found himself stood rather aimlessly in the parking lot of Jensen’s offices.The sun was high in the mid-afternoon sky, its rays usually comforting and warming against the feeling of loneliness that had accompanied him throughout his life so far. Now though, he needed to get into the dark and cold. His breathing was labored from the immense effort of remaining calm and composed on his bus journey, and his eyes, which had previously appeared dead to the sights around him, were starting to blur with tears.

He was such a state. A sniffling, pathetic state wearing horrible cheap clothes and walking into this place of such high class. No wonder Jensen wasn’t bothered about him. He came into these offices with suits and money and a proper future laid out ahead of them, and then attempted to strike up conversation with Jared, a boy with a good salary but nowhere to go. Family left him, friends left him. Animals were the closest things he had to family and friends.

The woman at the desk looked spooked by the man loping with long, unsteady strides towards where she sat, and he saw the flinch in her arm as it reached towards the phone.

“No... Please, I just need to know one thing. Don’t- Don’t call for help; I’m not attacking. Just- Is Jensen Ackles in work today?” His voice was a weak stammer which mustn't have given the woman any more confidence that he wasn’t going to hurt her, but, to her credit, she sat up a little straighter at the more businesslike request.

“Who might you be to request this information, sir?” she asked, voice unwavering despite the growing restlessness of the man who had now planted his palms on her desk and dropped his head.

Jared panicked. They would not accept ‘a friend’ as an answer, and he couldn’t bring himself to lie so painfully by calling himself Jensen’s boyfriend. But still, he had to know.

“His brother,” Jared answered. His voice cracked, and he could only hope the woman would buy his sadness as being some sort of plea to find a long lost sibling. Her eyes softened slightly, and she nodded.

After flipping through the notebook resting on her desk, she looked back up at Jared with a small shake of the head.

“Mr. Ackles has no current work to be done on his case, so is spending the day at home. I’m afraid I can’t enclose his address, but if you come back in a few days time he should be here. I’m very sorry, sir. I hope you get to see your brother eventually.” Her business tone never slipped, and no emotion could be found in her words (though her eyes told a very different story). Jared found himself unable to reply coherently, his brain too overwhelmed with conflicting thoughts and feelings to form any sense of the situation.

Once again working on autopilot, he began to walk away from the desk with slow, calculated steps. He continued out through the glass front doors into the parking lot, the setting sun (a sight which would have caused him to stop and marvel on any other day) going completely ignored in the golden sky over his head. Getting onto the bus home without being hit by oncoming traffic had to be some kind of miracle, but nevertheless, Jared’s subconscious mind continued to impress as he watched the dusty summer roads and lost looking palm trees gradually disappear to make way for suburban neighbourhoods.

His body felt like a lead block as he left his seat and moved to the front of the bus. His tears had long since dried out, but the trembling of his entire body was still attracting the attention of a few passengers side-eyeing his terrible state.

The audible click as his front door shut tight was a sound that left Jared with far too much comfort. It was wrong to be this reliant on his own company, and to distrust people so much. But really, first his peers in high school, then his family, then Jensen? He couldn’t help but feel that he had a good reason for being such a secluded human.

With Sadie resting against his legs, her head lying still on his lap as she judged his mood, Jared picked the phone off the receiver and dialled the number that had been imprinted into his brain from the numerous times when he’d needed to call because he’d ended up in the same pathetic state as now. Chad always claimed that he just wanted Jared to be happy and be able to get on with his life so he didn’t mind the constant calls, but Jared was still filled with a strong sense of guilt whenever he needed to phone his old friend just to complain about his problems.

Chad’s voice filled his ear, and it seemed that his psychic friendship skills had kicked in, judging by the level of panic in his voice.

“Jared? Jared are you at home? Jared, please tell me you’re all right! Jared!”

Jared cleared his throat softly. “Hey Chad. Sorry I haven’t called in a while. I just really needed some support right now,” he spoke into the phone quietly, and commended himself on how the tremors in his body had yet to reach his vocal chords.

“Is it... Jensen?” Chad asked hesitantly. The last time he’d heard from Jared there’d been nothing but mystery surrounding this Jensen man, and Chad was the one who’d prompted Jared to make an advance (because really, there was no way he could be alone forever). Now a call in the afternoon with no context other than Jared’s quiet voice, and the tremors in his tone that he seemed to be trying hard to suppress. Jared could be obsessive, and Chad didn’t want to think of the repercussions if Jensen turned out to be yet another bad ending in Jared’s life; there was only so much one man could take.

Jared let out his first sniff. “I thought - I thought he was going to be different, I guess? And he was. He was so different from everyone else, but... Different like me. He wasn’t very good at talking to people properly. But he - he talked to me properly. Quite a few times. So I went and opened up and now he’s fucking gone. He didn’t show up, Chad. Twice. And he was late the first time. I should have-” He paused to hiccup. Chad kept silent. “-Should have known from that first time. And then I went and talked properly and he didn’t show up. Every goddamn time something crops up and he’s gone, even after he seemed so different and promising.

“I fucked up so badly, Chad. I should have known he wouldn’t be able to deal with the real me, let alone be interested in me. It’s just like everyone else.”

Chad listened to the heavy breathing coming through the receiver. What he wanted to do was to fly out to San Francisco right that moment and march into Jared’s house, shake him, and tell him to stop thinking such terrible things. All his life he’d desperately wanted Jared to be able to believe in himself and his ability to live without relying on others, but it was far more difficult than that. Jared had deep rooted his thoughts and feelings so far down that it would take something much more powerful than Chad to get him to change his mind. It would take someone proving Jared wrong, someone getting to know him and then staying by his side.

“Jared, I know you’re not going to listen if I try to tell you to calm down or take a nap. I know you won’t believe me if I tell you you’re worth more than people give you credit for. But please, please listen to me and try to speak to Jensen one last time. Not now, not soon, if you don’t feel like it. I just want you to face that man and ask him how he had the nerve to ditch you without a thought - No, don’t try to interrupt. I don’t care if you think you deserved what he did. He doesn’t deserve you to be lenient.”

There was a silence on the end of the phone. No more held back choking and sniffing.

“And I’m serious, Jared. If you don’t face him, I’ll have to. And frankly, I’m pretty pissed off with him right now.”

“I understand,” Jared replied. His voice was little more than a whisper. “Goodbye, Chad.”

The line went dead, and Jared dropped his head against his lap. Chad was strong. Far stronger than Jared could ever be, and he seemed to understand people in a way Jared only dreamed of. But facing Jensen again? Being confrontational? Neither of those were something that would come naturally to Jared, and he felt he’d be putting that promise to the side for a long time.

Sadie was beginning to whine against his legs, and Jared saw the pleading look in her eyes. There were only two instances when Sadie would feel the need to beg Jared in such a way; the first when she was hungry (but he had definitely left a substantial amount of food before leaving) and the second if she was lonely. There was a large cat-flap style installation on the back door leading into the garden, giving the dogs easy access in and out. They had small areas outside made up into beds too, meaning they could alternate between sleeping out and sleeping in. It was also an effective alternative for a large burglar alarm system; he hadn’t yet been burgled, but the dogs were territorial and untrustworthy, and would surely kick up a fuss if a stranger were to enter the garden.

This was why he had left Harley outside before leaving. The boy had a clear way of getting back into the house, and would be able to get exercise even without Jared around. Sadie should have been able to go outside and find company in Harley, rather than giving Jared that lonely, pleading look. Why hadn’t she just gone out?

Jared stood on shaky legs and moved towards the back door, Sadie at his heels. Chad’s talk had given him a burst of strength, as Chad seemed to have a knack for doing. Jared really couldn’t bear to imagine his life without that man by his side.

When Jared opened the back door, he was met by fast gathering storm winds and humid air. It was almost completely dark outside, and Jared couldn’t picture Harley wanting to stay outside with the threat of heavy rain overhanging.

Jared took two steps over the threshold of the door into the grass, and was almost winded by the realisation of what was wrong.

No. Not now, not today.

“No,” he was mumbling, an incessant mantra of the same single syllable over and over. Sadie was shaking against his own trembling legs as the wind picked up, and the first thick droplets of water began to saturate his thin shirt and jeans.

Eventually Sadie found it too hard to remain by her master’s side, and retreated into the house. Jared’s body had almost slipped into shock, but his legs still moved towards the rabbit hutch beside the gaping open back gate. He quickly shifted the structure into the small wooden shed in the corner of the garden, then turned to face the open back gate.

Whether it was rain or tears soaking his face and dripping off his chin, Jared couldn’t be sure. But he was stupid. Stupid fucking fuckup. The gate was wide open. Left wide open for a dog to wander out curiously, then get caught in one of San Francisco’s sudden unpredictable storms.

The gate shut under Jared’s hands. He moved back into the house and locked the back door.

Sadie was curled up in her indoor bed, sopping wet fur looking muddy coloured and her eyes still begging when they met his again.

Jared felt his mouth still moving as he fell to the floor beside the front door. Sound was no longer leaving his mouth, but the same word was still on the tip of his tongue as each second went by.

He was a vet. He’d seen dogs rescued after escaping from back gardens, and had heard of the predicaments they got themselves into. Stepping out into the road. Falling down steep slopes. Attacked by wild animals. Falling into rivers.

He couldn’t breathe. His mouth bobbed open and closed desperately, but his lungs felt as parched and throat as tight no matter how much effort he put into pulling in air. Should be out there, the thought surfaced through the haze in his mind brought on by his lack of air. He knew he should be outside searching, but he couldn’t move. And to search for the missing dog would mean to possibly find the missing dog, and finding him badly injured or in pain would be even worse than searching and not finding anything. Jared was weak right now, and he hated himself for it.

When Jared uncurled himself from his fetal position in front of the door, the clock on the wall through his blurred vision told him he’d been lying here in a pathetic, self-deprecating mess for nearly half an hour. Harley had been missing for hours, potentially, and yet he still couldn’t bring himself to move out into the dark to look for the animal that meant so much to him.

Five more minutes of glassy eyed staring at the fibres of the carpeted floor, and Jared was pulled from his dizzy reverie by the chime of his doorbell. The notes were too high, too perfectly synced in his head and the sound made him want to curl up again and just scream until everything would go black, and then he could be happy.

It took him well over three minutes to gather the mental and physical strength to lift to his feet, and Jared guessed that any neighbour would have given up long ago if they were the ones trying to see him. Still, he unlatched the door, and opened it with little expectations.

Jensen was soaked through. His hair was plastered flat against his head, all traces of blond or light brown washed away into a murky black. His suit was obviously not meant to be exposed to heavy rain, and had begun to shrivel around the expensive cut collar and cuffs. His bleached white shirt was practically transparent.

And there, twitching slightly in Jensen’s heavy arms, Harley lay. He was also soaked through, but Jared registered instantly that the dog was very much alive.

“Get inside,” Jared rasped, his throat beginning to finally let more than small slivers of oxygen in. Tears continued to run down his face as he took the dog from Jensen’s arms and moved back into the house on a pair of even shakier legs. The shocks were hitting one after another, and Jared didn’t know how much more he could take in a single night.

Jared moved straight to the dining room, clearing the few magazines off the table surface with a swipe of his elbow, then placed the dog down onto the surface. He’d noted an obvious leg injury, and though he couldn’t be certain thanks to the rain and mud, he thought he’d seen some blood coming from cuts and scrapes.

There was a first aid kit in the dining room cupboard, with bandages and antiseptic that could be used safely on an animal like Harley. Taking the kit out and placing it on the table, Jared was so far into his working frame of mind that Jensen’s dripping, trembling presence in the doorway never registered.

Jensen watched with his own tears building up in his eyes as Jared probed lightly at the dog’s paw, then began to unravel a length of bandage with nimble fingers. He’d made the decision to call Jared’s work and get his address after hiding away at home like a fucking coward so as not to face his emotions. To put off the inevitable meeting, he’d walked mindlessly round the streets of his neighbourhood, moving further and further from his home without ever realising it.

And then there was the dog, whining pitifully at the roadside with its injured leg stretched painfully out in front of it. Jensen had leaned down beside the dog to read the number on the collar, and had nearly choked. It was Jared’s mobile number. It was Jared’s dog.

He ran until he could only stumble pathetically through the rain, the dog’s discomfort and severity of injury probably growing the longer he’d subjected it to this agony.

But here he was. He made it. And Jared was a mess, a shaking, hyperventilating mess and it was all Jensen’s fault. This was his only chance to fix everything, to change his mistakes.

Jared had finished his work on the dog and was now standing frozen at the side of the table, back to Jensen and head ducked.

Jensen knew his voice was not to be trusted at the moment, but he couldn’t stop himself.

“I’m sorry, I should never have left you alone like that. I-” Jensen sniffed. “I’m pretty fucked up when it comes to social interaction, but I guess you already worked that out.” Jensen gave a wry laugh to himself, and winced when Jared still didn’t move.

“I think... I think I thought it was for the best, that you wouldn’t have to deal with me. I felt - I felt too much for you, and I didn’t want you to have to live knowing about those feelings.” Jensen noted a twitch in Jared’s posture. “But I guess I got everything wrong pretty badly, huh? I should have just confessed, or left it alone and let us become good friends.” Jensen’s voice continued on softly, though his face was now soaked in definite tears falling from his chin and rolling down his neck.

Jared slowly turned, his face almost ashen in colour and his eyes wide. He was walking towards Jensen on feet that no longer had him stumbling like a newborn giraffe, but his steps were now rather elegant as he regained complete composure. Jensen couldn’t move or tear his eyes away from Jared’s approaching form.

They stood, as face to face as their height difference could allow, and Jared thrust his head forwards with force. Their lips smashed, and Jensen couldn’t breathe. He’d gotten the impression that Jared had never kissed before, but this? This was something special indeed.

The force and heat faded from the kiss quickly, leaving the two to brush their lips slightly against one another. Very slowly they pulled away until their mouths were no longer in contact, and Jensen quickly wrapped his arms around Jared. Jared’s eyes widened as he looked down at the grip around his waist, then looked up at Jensen, who’s lips were pulling up into a soft smile. Jared welled up instantly, letting his head drop down against Jensen’s still saturated padded shoulder suit. Jensen pressed his lips against Jared’s soft drying hair as it tickled the edge of his face.

“We’ll make this work, Jared,” Jensen whispered against the other man’s hair. “We’ll sort ourselves out and then we will make this work.”

Jared beamed against Jensen’s shoulder as the words tickled the back of his neck. This was it. This was what he’d waited for. Jensen was here, even after all hope seemed to have been lost, and he was willing to stay by Jared’s side, despite seeing him at his very worst.

“Pass me the phone,” Jared spoke, voice slightly muffled against Jensen’s shoulder. “I need to make a call.”
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If there are any problems with the formatting of italics please let me know (not sure if I changed them all to BBcode).