Then let me build a bridge (J2 - future fic)author:
kasman from the Battlements ‘verse by calamitycrow
(used...er...enabled with permission)beta: zubeneschamalirating:
I don’t own nuffin’, calamitycrow
owns Battlements, she enabled this, so I’m guessing it’s OK. Thanks for letting me play, hun. :) Title
from Sting's "Fortress Around Your Heart".Note 1:
If you know the Battlements ‘verse, well, this is a timestamp. If you don’t, then, first off you have so missed out, but I think this actually makes some sense without it – pretty sure you can figure it out. If you want more information, just go read Battlements.Note 2:
And, well, you see, I have this kinda kink and having zubeneschamali
write me a fic for my birthday last year – well, I’m guessing that wasn’t enough, ya know, coz, well, here…artwork
by naisicaThen let me build a bridge
The trip to Idaho had been exhausting – a marathon of difficulties for the entirety of their group, but more so for Jensen. He had obviously been uncomfortable, embarrassed, and in pain at times, but for once tried not to complain. They had traveled as a large group with most of the staff of Greendog and their children, together with Chris Kane, Jeff and a couple of other friends. More, including their families, would be arriving in the morning. The sheer logistics of it all had been monumental. But it was a sign of Jensen's exhaustion and the stress he had been under all day that he had been almost compliant when Neil and Jared in tandem had suggested that maybe he should just go to bed as soon as he had eaten. He had even ignored the worried looks Jared, Ty and Neil had exchanged over his head when he had readily agreed.
Ty had quietly cleaned up the tiny kitchen of the cabin while Jared and Neil tended to Jensen. Jared had been taking on an increasing amount of Jensen’s day-to-day care over the preceding few months. What he lacked in knowledge, he made up for in sheer brute strength and a willingness to learn. Jensen had been initially unwilling, had fought against it tooth and nail, was still, more often than not, ungracious about it. It had taken him a while to accept that Jared not only wanted to help, but needed to. And then Neil had encouraged Jared to take a massage therapy course… So it had been Jared who helped Jensen into bed, propped his knees up on a couple of pillows on a barely adequate mattress, and then left him in peace with the bathroom light on and the bedroom door slightly ajar.
When they had first discussed a Christmas wedding several months earlier, Jared had envisaged something by the pool in Jensen's own backyard, and they had both been happy with that. Except there were still problems with the same-sex marriage laws in California, even years after the original court decision barring the enforcement of Proposition 8. And then Ty had started to nag, and someone suggested going skiing in Idaho, and it all snowballed from there. Little did any of them realize what a logistical nightmare that would turn out to be. Jared just hoped the physical price on Jensen's health wouldn't be too high.
And now? Jared stood in the doorway, arm up, elbow wedged against the frame, fingers carded through his hair, and looked down at Jensen in the bed. He hadn’t moved since Jared had left him an hour and more before – and that was one of the most disconcerting things about all this, the lack of movement, how someone formerly so active had become so still. Now, he didn’t even move his hands when he spoke. Jared suddenly became aware that he was being watched, smiled widely. “Hey, you OK?” he asked.
“Hey.” Jensen licked his lips and blinked slowly. “Yea…” he started to say, then hesitated. “No, not really.”
Jared frowned. “What’s up?”
“Headache.” Jensen sighed.
Jared brought his arm down, nodding slowly, unsurprised. He was well aware of the tension Jensen - well, both of them, really - had been under for most of the day. “Yeah, OK, give me a minute.” He walked into the bathroom, feet quiet on the thick carpet of the room, brushed his teeth and then loudly rummaged around in the toiletries bag. He came out a couple of minutes later and set a couple of aromatherapy candles and a bottle of oil on the nightstand, stretched his arms up above his head and rolled his shoulders a few times. Jared looked up as he heard Neil in the doorway peering in curiously and shook his head. “I got it.”
“OK, we’re going to bed, just call if you need me.” Jared heard footsteps on the stairs – the compromise they’d reached in making arrangements for the trip. Neil had flat out refused to stay in a separate cabin, but when this one became available, he agreed that he and Ty could take an upstairs bedroom and let Jared and Jensen have the privacy of the downstairs master bed, which also had an accessible bathroom.
“Sure.” Jared waited until Neil had gone, switching off the main downstairs light as he went. He pulled back the covers, grabbed the pillows Neil had stacked on the dresser and put them beside Jensen on the bed, along with the ones he pulled out from under Jensen's knees. “I’m gonna roll you, OK?”
Jared carefully turned Jensen, checked the position of the pillows, rearranged them slightly, and rolled him onto to them so he was almost, but not quite, on his stomach. He also put a low support pillow under Jensen’s head, placed a pillow between his legs and made sure his arm was supported. “You doing OK there?” he asked.
“Yeah, ‘m good,” he responded, moving his head in a rubbing motion until he found a comfortable position for it.
“’K”. Jared lit the two candles, immediately filling the room with the scents of citrus and sandalwood.
Jared then opened the Velcro fastening at the back of Jensen’s t-shirt, pushed the shirt out of the way. He poured a quantity of oil onto his hands and paused, letting it warm up, while he studied Jensen’s back. Jensen had regained some weight over the past few months, but he was still way too thin, ribs prominent even from behind, the once-smooth skin criss-crossed with scars. He must have paused too long, because Jensen turned an eye back as far as he could and mumbled, “You pickin’ out curtains?”
Jared gave a small snort of laughter and put a warm hand on Jensen’s shoulder, trying to gauge the tension. “No, but I can if you want me to.” Jared sat on the edge of the bed, one leg curled under the other. He wrapped his hands around and started squeezing Jensen’s shoulders, his big hands gentle but firm, working from the neck out. Slow. Confident. Competent.
Jared had always loved Jensen’s back – the sweeping, perfect s-curve of the spine, the lines of smooth muscle either side, shoulders tapering to a neat waist, the light dusting of freckles on the fair, soft skin, more prolific across the tanned expanse of rounded shoulders. Toned. Beautiful. While never as broad as he had seemed on a TV screen, the proportions had been just right and just the sight of it had been enough to trigger his desire. Jared shook his head to pull himself back to the present, aware that he could easily become lost in the past.
Neil had encouraged Jared to do the therapeutic massage course as a way of both helping Jensen, whose body constantly rebelled against his unnatural posture and inability to move properly, and to allow Jared the touch he craved, hands always reaching for Jensen, running up and down a shoulder or an arm, softly stroking, hesitantly questing for contact. Jared needed to touch, so why not put that touch to good use. For his part, Jensen also needed to be
touched. Sure, he had people touching him all the time - helping him with his everyday life, bathing him, feeding him, dressing him, performing medical procedures. It was clinical. It was obvious that he craved something more intimate from the way he didn't shake off Jared's hand on an arm or shoulder, how he leaned into Jared whenever they sat together on a couch or stood side-by-side. And then there was also Jared’s reaction to seeing Jensen’s back. Neil had seen how he averted his eyes from the scars. So Neil had suggested and Jared had applied himself and Neil had killed multiple birds with one stone, while Jensen had reaped the benefit.
Jared moved his attention from Jensen’s shoulders to his neck, squeezing up and down several times, before doing some work on pressure points with his thumbs. Then he made several broad, sweeping movements down the sides of Jensen’s neck and onto his shoulders. That was when he felt the tension finally release, and grinned to himself. “You good?”
“I am relaxed!” Jensen couldn’t help retorting, although his words were slightly slurred and lacked their customary sting.
Jared grinned again and shifted further down the bed. He pushed the waistband of Jensen’s sweatpants down below hip level and reached for the oil bottle once more, pouring more over his hands. He allowed the oil to warm again before starting a series of sweeping motions running from Jensen’s pelvis all the way to the top of his back running his hands either side of the spine, back down the sides and to the pelvis again in a movement called effleurage.
Neil had insisted on being the ‘crash test…er…guinea pig’ for Jared’s first home massage. He had retrieved a down quilt from the linen cupboard and thrown it over one of the dining tables, and under the watchful, amused eyes of both Ty, who was in the kitchen, and Jensen, Neil had proceeded to fall asleep under Jared’s ministrations, waking with a start when Jared gave him a light tap on the shoulder, which caused Ty to titter and Jensen’s face to light up with a smile of amusement. “How’d I do, boss?” Jared had asked.
Neil had the good grace to blush as he slowly pushed up into a sit. “Ty, can you get me the yellow pages. I need to order a shingle – 'J Padalecki, Massage Therapist.'”
“Still gotta get you that shingle,” Jensen mumbled half into the mattress.
“Well, if this acting gig falls through…”
Jensen grunted a huff of laughter.
Jensen’s back was no longer beautiful – marred as it was by surgical scars, ribs and vertebrae protruding, smooth muscle wasted away. Jared no longer turned his eyes away, but he still didn’t think he’d ever get used to it either, kept his hands especially gentle where he moved them over the oh-so-visible reminders, cautiously kneaded the imperfect flesh.
But the truth of the matter was that Jared needed to be doing this as much as Jensen needed to receive it. The intimacy of the shared touching calmed them both - a two-sided therapeutic benefit with no strings attached. There was also no doubt that Jensen especially loved the feel of having Jared's hands on his body touching, soothing, more so than anyone else's, and that Jared loved to do the touching.
Jared rested his warm hand in between Jensen’s shoulders as he leaned over to blow out the candles. He spared a moment to look down at his relaxed partner before reaching for the Velcro closures on the back of the t-shirt. “Don’t,” came a muffled voice.
“Okayyyy.” Jared had thought from Jensen's slow, even breathing that he was asleep – that was obviously wrong. He stood gracefully, shimmied out of his sweatpants and t-shirt, dropping them on the floor beside the bed, and slid in behind Jensen, snaking his arm under Jensen’s neck. He molded himself around Jensen before gently easing him back to lean onto his own body and covering them both with the bedclothes.
“Night, Jared,” came a sleepy, yawning voice.
“Night, Jensen.” As Jared slowly drifted off to sleep, he couldn’t help thinking that while Jensen’s back may no longer be the perfect, beautiful thing it had once been, having it snuggled up against his chest in the cocoon of warm blankets on a snowy Idaho night had a beauty all of its own.