Genre: Jared/Jensen RPS AU
Word Count: ~2,600 this part
Disclaimer: Nope, not true, nope not mine, yup, still broke.
Summary: When Jared's best friend, Jensen - who he's had a crush on for years - tells him he is going to get married, he leaves everything behind and runs away to Europe. When Jared returns five years later for his father's funeral, Jared discovers that leaving the past behind isn't as easy as he'd thought.
Link to Masterpost
The Road to Where You Are ~ Chapter 4
Jared stood in Jensen’s driveway, the toe of his boot scuffing in the gravel, sending little showers of pebbles before him. Jensen’s truck was there and a dim light could be seen shining through the kitchen window. Probably the light over the stove Jensen had always kept on. From a distance Jared peered in through that window, feeling a little like a peeping Tom, searching for any form moving about inside. Maybe Jensen wasn’t alone. That would definitely make a difficult situation even worse.
Furthermore, he wasn’t sure which door to go through. It was a ridiculous silly, little thing really, but the front door was where guests always came in. The side door was the one used for friends and family. He wasn’t too sure which one he was any more.
He knew which one he wanted to be however, and took those last remaining steps to the kitchen door, wondering if it would be locked against him. He reached out, the handle turned easily.
Jared entered through the side door, dropped his backpack to the floor and immediately felt as if he had stepped through some sort of time machine. It was like the last five years had never happened.
The linoleum covering the kitchen floor was the same drab pattern, worn so thin right inside the door that the color was entirely gone, leaving only a scuffed white patch. Jared could see the scratches on the countertop, knife marks left by Jensen years ago. Eventually Jared had gotten sick of sharpening dull knives and had gone out and bought Jensen a cutting board, figuring thatsomebody around there ought to be responsible. The same cutting board still hung on its nail above the counter.
To his right stood the same old kitchen table that he and Jensen had bought for a song at a yard sale ages ago. Jared remembered the two of them laughing while carrying it those nine blocks home on that rainy springtime afternoon. No one they knew had owned a truck at the time. Here were the same mismatched chairs surrounding it. They had scored them from over a month’s worth of dumpster-diving at Jared’s old apartment. He knew for certain that the one with the wicker seat still had that same annoying wobble. Jared thought of all the hours spent sitting across from each other in those chairs, their beers dripping condensation on the table, marring its surface with white rings. Those rings were still there. They looked like ghosts of times long past.
The walls of the kitchen were the same faded yellow color. A memory floated to the surface of one drunken night when he and Jensen had decided to play a game of darts without the benefit of a dartboard. As his gaze skimmed along the wall opposite him searching out the gouged spot they had made, his eyes landed on the one new addition in the room. Covering up the gouges they had left in the wall was now a large corkboard.
Jared took two long strides across the kitchen to stare at it, amazed at the jumbled and colorful array before him.
Five years ago Jared had run away from everything and by everything he really meant Jensen. But no matter how far or how fast he ran Jensen was always with him somehow. Jared knew that now, admitted to himself that he probably had always known it. Jensen had always been right there, unseen, just a small glimmer in the periphery. The intent to leave him behind and the reality of actually being able to do it had turned out to be two completely different things.
At some point Jared had begun to send him postcards - sometimes once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less. It depended on how much ground he was covering. But whenever he blew into a new city, town, or out-of-the-way village he was always sure to send one out before moving on to the next place.
“I kept them, you know. Every single one is here,” Jensen said by way of greeting, leaning against the side of the open arch between the kitchen and living room. Jared had not heard him approach. Jensen lifted his hand to rub self-consciously at the short hair at the nape of his neck before continuing, “For the first year or so I hung them on the fridge, but then I ran out of room. So I got this,” he said with a wave toward the corkboard. “Besides, it covers up that spot on the wall from that time we…” He didn’t have to finish his sentence and he knew it.
There had been times during Jared’s travels when he thought fleetingly about keeping a journal, just as a reminder of the places that he saw and the people that he met, the odd jobs he’d worked just long enough to get the money he needed to get to the next place. But he’d always dismissed the idea right away. In Jared’s mind he had been a sort of refugee, and refugees do not keep journals, they keep running.
But now he saw clear as day that Jensen had kept that journal for him. The layers upon layers of glossy photos displayed here formed a chronicle of his travels. One that was written out in short messages, scribbled while sitting in small cafes in little unknown towns, or while hunching on busy street corner curbs in big cities, or during interminable waits at railway stations, trains running late to take him somewhere new. These were all written during those precious stolen moments when Jared allowed himself to think of home and allowed himself to think of Jensen.
If this was an autobiography of sorts it was one that was written always with someone else in mind. And that someone else had kept it safe for him, just waiting for him to come home to claim it. Jensen had kept it safe as houses. Of course he had.
Jared now knew for certain that no matter what he saw, no matter what he experienced or where he went, none of it ever felt real unless he could somehow share it with Jensen. He was certain that all of the roads he had ever taken had eventually led him right here.
Standing in the kitchen with his best friend a few feet behind him, Jared felt all the guilt and worry that had been piling up on him since he hit the ground mere days ago slide off of his shoulders.
He now knew what coming home really felt like.
Jared reached out and plucked one of the postcards off the wall, revealing another layer beneath. The card was from Assisi. Jared was sure that it was the last one he had mailed out before coming home. On the front was a photograph of the Cathedral of St Francis. He remembered writing it while sitting on the wall next to the church, the Umbrian countryside stretching out green and rolling and beautiful beneath him. Turning it over to look at the message his eyes skimmed across his own sprawled handwriting, reading the words that he already knew by heart. It read,
‘St. Francis is buried in the enclave beneath this church. His grave is surrounded by a circle of his friends, beggars every one. Not a bad way to spend eternity.’
“Not a bad way at all.” Jensen said, still standing in the doorway.
Jared started to turn to him, amazed and somehow grateful that Jensen had memorized the message. But before he could open his mouth to say so, Jensen was there, wrapping his arms, sure and strong and warm around him, holding on to Jared as if it was the only thing that he wanted to do for the rest of his life. And nothing short of anything in the world would make him let go.
“God, I missed you Jared.” Jensen said so softly, his mouth moving against Jared’s neck as he spoke. It had been ages since Jared had heard his name spoken from those lips. It sent an electric sensation down his spine.
Jared wrapped his arms around Jensen’s shoulders, pressed his hands against his back, holding tight. Through his touch he tried to make up for all the birthdays, all the holidays, all the smiles, all the jokes, all the time that he’d missed. It was an apology for their argument, for his misunderstanding and for all the nights that Jensen stayed awake, worried and wondering about him, waiting for him.
“Listen, Jensen, I’m so sor—“ Jared began, but Jensen cut him off.
“No, don’t say it.” His breath was warm against Jared’s skin “I understand what you did and I understand why you did it. It’s alright—it has always been alright. Just stay still, please. Just don’t move.”
A combination of relief and unrepentant happiness washed over Jared, bringing a smile to his lips. It was the first time that he had really smiled in years. “I’m a traveler, remember? I’m never sure where I’m going.”
Jensen pulled back to look up at him, his eyes fixed on the curve of Jared’s lips as he smiled down upon him. “There it is.” He said.
“There ‘what’ is?” Jared asked, placing a hand loosely against the nape of Jensen’s neck, feeling the short, soft hair there.
“That smile.” Jensen said, with a slight curve of his own lips. “You know, after you left that was the first thing I started to miss about you. Nothing else that I have seen has ever quite lived up to it.” He suddenly moved away, stepped to the table and sat down. He nervously traced one of the rings on the table with a fingernail. “I’m sorry,” Jensen said, a slight blush creeping high on his cheeks. “I don’t know how to do this.”
“Do what?” Jared asked. He took a seat across from Jensen and stretched his long legs out.
“To say everything that I have wanted to say to you for the last five years.”
“You don’t have to say everything. Just say something.”
He wanted so badly to grab Jensen’s hand as it lay on the table before him. But that was not what friends did, particularly if they were men. Not even brothers did that—not once they were old enough to know not to. But he and Jensen were more than brothers, more than friends. Something told him that they always had been. A word had not been invented yet to describe what they were. There was no way the normal rules could apply.
Jared decided to forget what he had been taught. Jensen may rib him about it later but he thought that unlikely. He reached out, took Jensen’s hand in his own and entwined their fingers. He watched as Jensen’s eyes slid down to stare at their hands, his expression thoughtful. Jared found relief in the fact that Jensen neither flinched nor pulled away.
“Well, let’s start with how pissed I am at you.” Jensen said, and Jared made a move to take back his hand and couldn’t when Jensen strengthened his grasp. “I’m pissed at you for running so fast and not giving me a chance to catch up.”
“I didn’t know you were trying.”
“You never gave me the time to figure out whether or not I was.”
“Did you ever figure it out?”
“I think I did.” Jensen said, finally lifting his eyes to meet Jared’s.
They had always done this sort of thing, had conversations that ran circles around other conversations without ever getting to the point. It was this intricate little dance that they did too often. Only now, Jared felt like his feet were finally starting to get damn tired.
Jared forced Jensen to release his hand and stood up, walking across the floor to lean against the stove. “It used to be enough that you were my best friend. But at some point that changed. I think it changed right before I left. Or maybe it happened before. I suppose what I’m really trying to say is that you’re—“
“You’re it for me,” Jensen interrupted him, moving suddenly to stand in front of Jared. He placed his palm flat against Jared’s chest. It was an intimate gesture, something that Jensen had never done before, and Jared’s heart quickened in response to it.
“What?” Jared said, not believing his ears. Maybe they were just two slightly different versions of the same person after all.
“You heard me. You’re it for me.”
Jared lightly put his hands on Jensen’s hips and threaded his thumbs through the belt loops, then leaned forward a little, placing his lips against Jensen’s brow. It wasn’t a kiss, not really, just a press of lips against smooth skin. Jensen let him.
“Since when?” Jared asked after a long moment, placing his forehead to Jensen’s. Uneven breaths moved in and out through his slightly parted lips.
Jared slid his eyes closed, felt Jensen move slightly to rub his nose along his own. “I’ve always sort of known it.” Jensen said and placed a light kiss to his closed eyelid. “I’ve known it in the way that nothing is ever as much fun unless you’re there.” Another kiss to his cheekbone. “It’s in the way that I want to be mad at you, but it just feels so right that you’re here that I can’t make myself be.” A kiss to his jaw. “It is in the way that your laugh is the best sound that I have ever heard, and the fact that I always want to know exactly where you are.” Jensen placed a kiss on the corner of his mouth. Hands crept up to cradle his face, roughened fingers moving along his cheekbones, the sharp line of his jaw.
Jared was in the middle of something that he had dreamed of for so very long that now he almost could not believe in the reality of it. Everything seemed surreal, disconnected. It was as if his contact with Jensen was the only solid and tangible thing in the whole world.
“You’re it for me because this place has not felt like home for the last five years, and now it finally does again.” Jensen’s voice was low, his lips brushing against Jared’s as he spoke.
Jensen’s mouth met his, warm and full, his lips drawing in Jared’s lower lip, his tongue swiping across it followed by a gentle graze of Jensen’s teeth. Jared felt a hand move to his lower back pulling him closer, the other snaked up to tangle loosely in his hair. Jensen tilted his head to deepen the kiss, lazily mapping out the contours of Jared’s mouth. There was an easy, unhurried quality to this, as if everything fit just right, as if they had always known the right way to kiss each other.
Somehow Jared knew that Jensen would move so slowly, so gently. It was like lazy Sunday afternoons and bright Texas sunshine, it was like Jensen had all the time in the world. And maybe he did.
Jensen broke the kiss and fixed his eyes on Jared’s, his mouth still open. “Just don’t leave again, please,” he said at last, “Because there is no such thing as me…not without you.”“I don’t think I’m going anywhere,” Jared replied and was surprised to find that it was finally the truth.