And be yourself my ally in love's battle Part 3/4series:
Then let me build a bridgeverse:
Battlements author: calamitycrow
and kasman artist: naisicabeta readers: beadslut
see part 1rating:
disability, alcoholism, snow, sheer, unadulterated shmoop - yeah, these guys were due for something good.:)pairing:
Being a series of fics about the boys' wedding and honeymoontitle: And be yourself my ally in love’s battle (Sappho)Part 3: Not a snowball's chanceSNOWBALL
by Shel Silverstein
I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first - it wet the bed
Jensen's eyelids fluttered as he started coming awake and he slowly became aware that he was looking straight into Jared's grinning face, looming more or less above him, propped up on one elbow. He reached up with his left hand to touch, softly cupping Jared's cheek. "Hey," he smiled, enjoying the view.
"Hey, yourself." Jared leaned into Jensen's touch, wrapped Jensen's wrist in his own hand to steady it as he felt the fingers start to flutter. He turned his head slightly, kissed Jensen's palm, turned back so his cheek was cupped again. "How ya doin'?"
Jensen thought a moment, tilted his head, taking inventory. "OK." And he was, mostly. "Jared, do you think you could...ah..."
Jared placed Jensen's hand back down on his chest, taking a moment to briefly finger the gold wedding band, partner to the one he wore. Their eyes met for a second, and then Jared pushed up onto one knee and stepped right over the top, his long leg reaching the floor. Jensen couldn't help grinning at the maneuver. Even so, it felt odd to be on his back. In the last few months, he had become accustomed to mostly sleeping on his side with Jared snuggled up against him - the original touchy-feely guy - both of them giving and receiving the contact they craved.
When Jared and he had finally made it to bed last night, Jared had cautiously suggested that he sleep on his back and Jensen hadn't refused. Their activities in the nest of blankets on the floor in front of the fire had been a lot more physical than their usual hand and blowjobs and he had already felt himself stiffening up. It hadn't taken much persuading on Jared's part. All the same, it had so been worth it. Sex with Jared was a mind-blowing experience at the best of times. Last night had been... Jensen's brain failed him in coming up with an adequate description. It had been almost worth all the pain and trauma it took to get to this point in their lives. For a moment, he felt so fucking grateful to Chris, whose lack of control in beating Jared to hell and back six months before out had all but sealed their getting back together more surely than locking the door on any prison cell.
They had lain in bed quietly talking while Jared took the opportunity to massage the pelvic muscles that had done so much unaccustomed work. Jared had sent a text message to Neil once the coast was clear, and he'd heard him and Ty quietly come in and go upstairs without disturbing them. The last thing Jensen remembered was Jared's body pressed tight up against his side, head half on his shoulder, softly snoring, with his big, warm hand under Jensen's t-shirt, splayed across his ribs.~~+~~
"You ready to go?" Jared had whispered into Jensen's ear with the festivities still in full swing.
"I'm fine. No need to go yet."
"Didn't say you weren't. I'm just sayin'... let's blow this Popsicle stand and... you know..."
Jensen smiled as he realized what Jared was hinting at, the special smile reserved only for Jared, the one that made him look like he was all of six years old. "Yeah, OK."
"Besides, that apple juice stuff, it... well, it tastes like ass." Jared's cheeks dimpled and he straightened, looking down the room, seeking out someone. "Gimme a minute."
Jensen watched as Jared made his way through a press of people to where Neil was sitting at a table with some of the Greendog staff, crouched down in quiet conversation, his expression serious. Neil looked up at Jensen on the main table and gave one curt nod of agreement to whatever Jared was saying. Then he waited for Jared to make his way back through the press of bodies on the dance floor before trying to rise from his chair - only succeeding when Jared took his arm and helped him up. "What did you say to Neil?" he asked, speaking softly into Jared's ear.
Jared grinned at him. "I asked if he and Ty could maybe give us a couple of hours..." He jagged his head from side to side in a seesawing motion.
Jensen's eyes grew huge, as it dawned on him that Jared had just bought them a couple of hours of privacy. "Thank you."
"I mean, for us just to... you know... Have some time alone-ish... Come on, let's get outta here."
"Hey." Jared's voice penetrated his thoughts. "You sure you're OK?"
Jensen dragged himself back to the present. He hadn't heard Jared return from the bathroom. "Yeah, I'm fine." He gave a little smile, "Just thinkin' about last night."
"Oh ho." Jared grinned at him, pulled back the bedclothes so Jensen could use the urinal.
Jensen wondered just how OK he was going to feel when he actually tried to move, but for now, he was content to let Jared take care of things. Relaxed. Jared emptied out the urinal in the bathroom, took care of his own business, came back and slid into bed again. It was still a little early for his meds. "Do you mind if I turn you?"
"Of course not." And after an initial grimace at the pull on his aching pelvic muscles, he gave a smile of absolute surprise when instead of turning him so that his back was to Jared and they could spoon, he found himself face-to-face with his grinning husband. "Well, hello there."
"How ya doin'?" Jensen sensed Jared reaching under the bedclothes to adjust the pillow on which Jensen's legs had been raised so that it was between his knees. Jared lay back down and arranged Jensen's right arm so it lay across his ribs in the closest possible facsimile to a hug that he could manage, crossed his left arm over Jensen's body and his right under Jensen's neck, pulled him closer, stretched and then relaxed. "You good?"
"Uh huh." Smiled again. "You?"
Jared didn't bother to speak, just leaned in for a kiss, morning breath and all, backed off and touched noses. "Happy first day."
"Happy..." Jensen broke off as the alarm went off on his wrist monitor. Shook his head. "Bad timing."
"Up 'n' at 'em, sunshine." Jared rolled onto his back and felt for the wrist monitor, hit the button to turn off the alarm.
"What's got you so cheerful?" Jensen raised an eyebrow.
"You'll see." With that, Jared, carefully pulled his arm out from under Jensen's neck, rolled off the bed into a stand, turned off the ES, and headed into the bathroom. Came back a few minutes later rattling a paper cup of medication in one hand and with a glass of water in the other. He frowned when he saw Jensen was still lying as Jared had left him. "You all right?"
Jensen made a frustrated movement with his left hand. "Yeah, just..." Jensen tried to push himself over onto his back, grimaced at the pull in his pelvic muscles, "sore," he admitted finally.
Jared put down what he was carrying, waited a beat, giving Jensen some time. Looked back towards the door as he heard footsteps on the stairs.
"Think you could maybe help me out a little here?" Jensen batted his eyelids coyly, while being was fully aware that his request would be enough to make Jared pause. He seldom asked for this kind of help, at least so blatantly, although he was slowly realizing that that was something that had to change, and most mornings, Jared just automatically moved Jensen to his back when he was getting up, which always made things easier.
"You know," Jared said, helping Jensen roll onto his back and then getting him sitting with his legs over the side of the bed, "I really am OK with helping you. It, uh, goes with the ring and the piece of paper."
"I know, I just..."
"Hate asking?" Jared handed him the paper cup with his meds and picked up the glass of water, sat down beside him on the bed. "I know, but... 'for better, for worse, in sickness and in health...' Jen."
Jensen gave him a smile, exchanged the paper cup for wrapping his fingers around Jared's on the glass to take a few swallows of water. Leaned into Jared's solid bulk, and waited a beat while Jared put the glass back down on the nightstand. "That wasn't included in the vows, Jared, and... I sorta came without health in the first place."
Jensen smiled at him, took a breath. "Doesn't matter. We're doing that bit anyway, remember? Besides, it's kinda my fault this time."
"Yeah?" Jared raised an eyebrow.
"I didn't exactly say 'no'. In fact..."
"Actually, as I recall, you wanted to play vid - "
Jensen laughed. "No, I didn't! And it was my suggestion, not yours, so don't you dare try to take the credit." He tilted his head in time to see the appearance of the dimples on Jared's cheeks, but looked away as there was a sharp rap on the door. "Come in."
"Good morning boss, Jared. Ty has breakfast nearly ready." Neil leaned against the door frame, mouth quirking briefly into a smile. "And there's a delivery for you."
"A delivery?" Jensen raised his eyebrows.
"Of what? I wasn't expecting anything."
Jensen caught Jared's grin at Neil from the corner of his eye, turned a thoughtful eye on him.
"Wait and see, boss."
"OK, Neil, I got this. We won't be long."
Neil nodded and left them.
"What aren't you telling me?" Jensen asked, somewhat suspiciously.
Jared just turned on the sunny, oh-so-innocent smile. "You'll see. Sure you don't want breakfast in bed?"
"Wheelchair or walking?"
Jensen gave Jared a baleful look. "Walking."
"Stupid question, right?"
"So, let's get you organized then." He shook his head, reminded himself that he really was going to have to talk to Jensen about the way he tended to overdo things, about maybe getting a more accessible car so he could use his wheelchair more. That conversation was going to totally suck. But now wasn't the time for that. He rummaged in the suitcase and came back with socks and boots, which he knelt down to put on Jensen's feet, carefully checking that the socks weren't wrinkled, then reached for the robe, which had been left draped over the wheelchair the previous night, slung it over his shoulder. "OK, up." Jared supported Jensen's weight as he got to his feet, waited until he found his balance before letting go. "You good?"
He helped Jensen get the robe on and tied, then pulled his own on for good measure. "OK. Let's go." Jared put a hand under Jensen's elbow as he took a step and faltered slightly so that he bumped into Jared with his shoulder, his balance a little off, Jared softly muttering, "It's muscle memory, dude, just relax."
"Yeah, well, my muscles remember last night." Jensen quipped and softly bumped against Jared's upper arm again, deliberately this time, as Jared turned his head to grin at him. He took another step, finding his rhythm, for the eight or so steps up the short hallway.
"For the record, you aren't the only one who is a little sore," Jared said softly in Jensen's ear.
Jensen caught the brief flash of the dimples again from the corner of his eye, smirked back. He pulled up sharply just inside the main living area, rocking slightly on his feet, and turned shining eyes on Jared. "You..."
Jared grinned easily. "I thought you might want to go skiing, since we're here," he said. "And, well, I mean, you remember all that research we did?"
"Jared... Thank you..." Jensen couldn't take his eyes off the red Kartski. He and Jared had spent several hours one weekend researching whether there was any way that Jensen could ski. It had quickly become obvious that Jensen did not have the strength, the control, or the balance required for a normal sitski, whether dual or single ski, with outriggers, and he absolutely flat refused to ride something that had to be controlled by a 'driver'. It had taken a lot of digging to finally uncover some videos of the Kartski in action, and hell, it had just looked like plain old fun - sort of like a bill cart for snow - and obviously Jared had done some digging on his own to find out where he could get one. Jensen was interrupted in his contemplation of the Kartski by the rumbling of Jared's stomach. Looked up to see Ty and Neil both grinning at him.
"Come on, baby, plenty of time to look at your new toy after you've eaten," said Ty, flapping his hands.
They both looked at Ty, suddenly aware of the smell of scrambled eggs and fried vegetables, then Jensen looked at the contents of the nearest plate on the table.
"Migas? Ty, you made migas?" Jensen looked at him in some amazement.
"He wanted to make you both something special," said Neil. "Got up early to make it."
Jensen was already moving again, but he stopped to speak. "Thank you, Ty. I...we really appreciate it." He looked at Jared, who nodded his approval.
"You're welcome, honey," Ty responded, pinking with pleasure. He leaned back as Neil held him from behind, turned his head and planted a kiss on his husband's cheek. He patted at Neil's arm. "You go and eat as well." Stepped back to the counter as Neil released him. He poured out three glasses of juice and filled a plastic cup with bottled water, brought them to the table. Gave an amused glance at where Jared had Jensen's right hand engulfed in his left hand on the tabletop - the two of them eating like bookends. They both caught the glance, smiled at each other, and Jared resettled his grip, wrapping his fingers tighter around Jensen's hand.
Jensen looked down at his hand. "You know, I will need that hand back sometime today," he said, taking a sip of water.
"Yeah?" Jared grinned.
Something uncoiled in Jensen's chest at seeing Jared so happy and relaxed. "But you can have it for now."
"Well, gee, thanks."
“Ty,” Jensen looked up.“You need to eat as well. Come on, you’ve taken care of us all, come and sit down.”
“In a minute, baby,” Ty responded, wiping over the countertop.
“No, Ty, now!”
“Oh, all right, then, when you put it like that… No need to be so bossy
Jared just grinned at the by-play and exchanged a look with an amused Neil. Ty reminded Jared of his mother - always the last person to eat - usually when the food was already cold. It'd be a nice change for him to eat something warm.~~+~~
Jared looked up from where he was drying dishes as Ty washed them at the first sound of raised voices from the bedroom. "What the hell?"
Ty gave a dramatic sigh, put the plate he had been washing on the dish drainer. "Neil wants Jensen to wear his back brace to go skiing."
Jared frowned. "Uh huh. I can see how well that's going down." He hesitated, unsure whether to stay where he was or go in and see if he could help. Looked back over his shoulder in the direction of the bedroom while still half-heartedly wiping over the plate he held.
Ty gave him a prod. "Go on, baby, maybe you can make him see reason."
"I'm not sure there's anyone can do that
," Jared quipped, half under his breath, and put the plate on the pile of dry dishes. He flicked the dish towel so it lay over his shoulder, took a deep breath. "OK, heading in," he said, his expression mock-grim. Jared walked the few steps from the kitchen to the bedroom door, where he paused a moment before knocking and entering. Neil had his back to Jared, but he could see by his stiff posture and set of his shoulders that he was about two degrees below boiling. Jensen was sitting on the bed wearing some close-fitting thermal underwear, including a long-sleeved tee, and thick socks, his expression pinched. "What's up, guys?" Jared asked, all innocence.
"He wants me to wear a fucking brace," Jensen stated flatly, eyes flashing.
Neil made an impatient movement, turned his eyes away from Jensen. "Jared, he had major surgery eight months ago - surgery for which the recovery period can be over a year
. Common sense dic..."
"No, no way!" Jensen interrupted.
Neil sighed and continued. "Common sense dictates that he should protect himself when undertaking any sort of new, strenuous, even possibly dangerous, activity."
Jared gestured for Neil to leave. "Give us a minute?" Jared asked.
Neil nodded and left, closing the door softly after him.
Jared sat down on the bed, wrapped an arm around Jensen and pulled him close, dropped a kiss on his head.
"Damnit all," Jensen sighed. "I thought I was done with that thing forever."
"Yeah, I know." Jared ran his hand up and down Jensen's arm a couple of times, let Jensen calm himself, and in return Jensen let himself relax into Jared's body.
"Neil's not gonna let me do this without the brace, is he." Jensen turned his head slightly, looked up into Jared's face.
"Just Neil?" Jared raised an eyebrow.
Jensen grumbled, the sound too low to be called a sigh. "Not you too."
"Yeah, sorry, but we all reserve the right to worry over you," Jared continued. "And no, we are not
gonna let you screw up your back!"
"I'm not going..."
"Jensen...you don't know that." Jared cut him off.
"It's my freaking back. I should have some say in what happens to it!"
Jared just rolled his eyes. "Right, sure, and if you break it again, who's gonna have to pick up the pieces?"
Jensen stiffened, face like thunder.
"Sorry, someone had to say it." Jared ran his hand up and down Jensen's arm, felt him relax again, took a couple of deep breaths. For a moment, he thought he'd gone a step too far, then he felt the tension release.
Jensen closed his eyes, left hand scratching against Jared's thigh. "I just don't wanna..."
Jared softened at Jensen's tone of absolute misery. "Yeah, I know. Compromise?"
"Go on..." Jensen prompted, a curious expression on his face.
"Wear it today, just until you see how you go. We can all
discuss whether you continue with it or not tonight. Like reasonable human beings. I also promise you an extra-special massage tonight - which I think you'll probably need..."
"Uh huh. Does that include a scalp massage?" Jensen asked, perking up a little.
"If that's what you want," Jared grinned. He was well-acquainted with Jensen's addiction to scalp massage. "And I will also ask if Neil will let you have a hot chocolate, or even some coffee, just this once, après ski. " Jared's smile widened. "Maybe he'll even let me have one."
"OK." Jensen shifted slightly, looked up at Jared and grinned back, albeit in a somewhat lukewarm manner, although his eyes still showed his misery. "You win, this time."
Jared needed to do something to change Jensen's mood, so he leaned in, stole a kiss. "Besides, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Jensen? That's not something I want to miss."
"Fuck you." But Jensen was struggling to give him a mock scowl, the corner of his mouth twitching up.
"Right...can Neil come back now?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"You want me to stay?"
"Na, it's OK."
"OK." Jared gave one more soft arm rub and then stood.
Jared laughed. "Love you, too." He tousled Jensen's hair.
"Quit it, fuck you." Jensen glared at him. "Gees, I hate that."
Jared smiled widely, suppressed the bubble of laughter that was trying to escape. "I'll go talk to Neil."
Jared sat down on the couch as Neil shut the bedroom door, leaned his elbows on his knees, face in hands.
"Hey, you OK, baby?" Ty asked. Jared still had the dishtowel draped over his shoulder. Ty took it from him and stood there waiting, holding it in his hands.
Jared sighed, ran his hands through his hair. "OK? Um, yeah, I think so."
"That bad, huh."
"Uh, no, not really, just... I'm... I feel OK, but, uh..." He shrugged.
"Honey, you're married now, that changes things."
"It does?" He looked up at Ty, elbows on his knees, the confusion evident on his face.
"Yeah, it..." Ty took a breath. "Look," he said, gathering his thoughts as Jared put his head up and looked him in the eye, albeit hesitatingly, "you've spent most of the last however many years not really in touch with your emotions - avoiding them, right?"
"So it's understandable that now... that you're maybe feeling more stable and better able to cope, less like you're going to sabotage yourself."
"Feels weird," Jared replied and rubbed the hair back off his face with both hands, flopped against the back of the couch as Neil quietly came back in and stood beside Ty. Jared picked at the knot in the tie of his robe, looked up at both of them. "I mean, if that's all it... it was going to..."
"You feel like it's all going to fall apart?"
"Uh, no, it's... it's good."
"Look, I think what's happened is that being married to Jensen has calmed some of the seas. You two... you balance each other out. You're good for each other - anyone can see that." Ty petted at Neil's arm, found his hand and twined his fingers into Neil's as his husband gave half a smile, nodded at what Ty said. "You just gotta give it some time."
"Uh, yeah. I guess... I'm..."
Ty let go Neil's hand, sat beside Jared and patted at his knee. "Yeah. You're a newly-wed, baby. It all feels a bit strange at first, take it from the voice of experience."
Neil looked back towards the bedroom as the beeper on the wrist device went off, shrugged and left.
"You guys - you and Neil. You're... you're a good example of how it should be."
"Took a lot of work, baby. Wasn't always like this. We both nearly screwed it all up any number of times."
Jared nodded. No one had come out and said it anything to him in so many words, but he was aware that Neil had had it tough growing up, that that was part of reason he wasn't a very demonstrative person. Ty was emotional enough for both of them, in any case. He didn't know for sure, but he had guessed that Neil's mother had been an alcoholic, just from some of the things Neil or Ty had let drop from time to time, didn't remember hearing any mention of a father. "Well, I just... I just hope that Jensen and me, we can maybe be half as good together as you guys."
"No reason you can't," replied Ty. "You already know how to get him to do things Neil can't."
"That?" Jared grinned, the dimples finally appearing. "That's easy, piece of cake." He snapped his fingers.
"If you say so, hon." Ty patted Jared's leg again. "Not sure Neil would agree. Now, why don't you go and get dressed and stop freaking out over not freaking out," he grinned. "We have to leave soon."
Jared got to his feet, half turned, then looked back. "Ty, thanks."
"You're welcome, baby."~~+~~
Neil helped Jensen up out of the wheelchair and into a stand, made sure he was steady on his feet. "Don't try to walk."
"Wouldn't dream of it." Jensen rolled his eyes, trying to hold himself steady. He could sense the slipperiness of the surface, was aware that the boots he was wearing were much heavier than his normal footwear, and that the black and red ski clothes were a different fit to his normal clothing, tighter, stiffer and more likely to impede his movement. To attempt a step was asking for trouble. He really wanted to be able to do this for Jared and for himself, to be able to participate in something he used to take for granted, albeit in a different way, even if it made him stand out from the crowd. Something normal. He hoped that his body wouldn't let him down.
"OK, now since you guys will normally be doing this, I want you to do it now," said Brett, the instructor, standing off to the side. "Jensen, can you hold your arms across your chest? Like this." He demonstrated, one arm folded on top of the other.
Jensen obliged, the right arm unwilling but eventually joining the party, locked in place by the left. Waited while Ty moved the wheelchair away, took out the cushions, folded it and started taking it back to the car to store.
"Jared, stand behind Jensen. I want you to thread your hands through from the back and grip Jensen's forearms."
"Yes, that's good. Jensen, can you lean back, let Jared take your weight. Neil, you take his knees... and lift."
Jensen relaxed as best he could as Jared and Neil between them easily lifted him onto the Kartski, feeling strangely disembodied, and wishing that he didn't have the clamshell vest on so that he could at least feel himself leaning against Jared's hard chest, feel his strength. Jensen had told Jared that he was about as soft and cuddly as a steel security door, but it was a whole other story not being able to feel the warm security he normally felt in leaning against Jared. Still, Jared and Neil between them easily lifted him over and into the seat, and then there seemed to be about a million straps to hold him in place and a cover over the top of his legs. "Jesus, I feel like a... Thanksgiving turkey. Is all this really necessary?"
Jared sighed. "Jensen..."
"Yeah, I know. For my own safety." He watched with interest as Jared and Neil between them, under Brett's direction, fastened the Velcro tabs from his adaptive gloves over the control handles so that he couldn't lose his grip on them. Moved the levers experimentally, finding he had just enough strength and control with his right arm to move the lever, and that the left was fine. He wondered for a moment why they hadn't yet created some sort of one-handed steering control, but figured he could manage.
"I'm just going to attach the safety cord carabiner to the ring at the back," said Brett, leaning down. "OK?"
"Yeah, OK, go ahead," said Jensen, and figured it was just simply the way of things that as soon as his left hand was tied up so that he couldn't use it, his sunglasses would start to slide down his nose. He looked up at Jared who was the closest out of the group, cocked his head slightly. "Jay, do you think you could...?" he asked, wrinkling his nose to stop the inexorable slide. That had been the one point Neil had been willing to concede - Jensen agreed to the helmet, but insisted on wearing his own sunglasses rather than proper ski goggles.
"Better?" Jared asked, pushing the shades back up Jensen's nose, gave Jensen's shoulder a squeeze.
Brett cocked a curious eye at Jared, obviously picking up the undercurrent between him and Jensen, then went back into teacher mode. "OK, Jensen, we have enough room here to go through some basics. You're gonna be starting off with snowplough position. You know what that is?"
"You'd be surprised how many people don't - first-timers. Obviously, this isn't your first time on the slopes." He waited for Jensen's affirmative nod and grin.
"We both used to ski quite a bit when we were working in BC - Jared and me - ski or toboggan or whatever."
Brett nodded. "Can you show me?"
Jensen pushed the handles away, causing the skis to come together in a V at the front, the left moving more than the right. "Sorry, can't do any better than that." He frowned down at his right hand in frustration, looked back up at Brett.
"That's fine, it's enough. Now, to stop, you'll pull back on the handles, OK?"
Jensen again demonstrated, the concentration etched across his face.
"OK, good. You ready to get moving?"
"Jared, you'll be assisting?"
"Then I need you to pay attention to what I'm doing here."
"See if you can steer in the general direction of the chairlift, since that's where we'll be going next, OK?"~~+~~
Jared paralleled Brett's course as they pushed off slowly with Neil and Ty following behind. He could see that Jensen's control was initially tentative, but that he quickly gained confidence, Brett slowly playing out the length of the safety line to its maximum stretch as he steadily steered across the side of the hill, doing his best to stay out of the way of other skiers, weaving around a class of children and their instructor. Jared was impressed. He could see how little time it was going to take Jensen to master this, and for a moment was a little jealous of the way Jensen still seemed to make the athletic stuff seem so easy, how back in the Supernatural days the stuntmen were always asking him to slow down, while he complained that he never got out of second gear. Man, he could run. And somehow just that thought had Jared smiling as Jensen slowed the Kartski down to come to a neat stop pretty much right where he needed to be. He was still grinning when he pulled up on Jensen's far side to learn how to prep the Kartski for the chairlift.
Loading Jensen onto the chairlift proved to be a simple matter of releasing the couple of straps holding the seat of the Kartski into position, reclining it a little further and then lifting at the right moment as the lift came into position behind them and he and Brett also took their seats, one on each side. It was then a simple matter to pull the safety bar down and lock them all into place for the short trip to the top of the beginner slope. Jared was impressed with the ease of the whole process. He exchanged grins with Jensen, who couldn't help exclaiming, "Wow, that was easy."
"Jen, I think it's meant to be."
Brett nodded, "Adaptive skiing equipment, including Kartskis, is designed with lifts in mind."
The process at the other end was a reverse of the loading. Jared lifted Jensen and the seat off the chairlift and they slid far enough to be out of the way of Ty and Neil who were behind them before adjusting the seat and reattaching the straps to hold it in place.
"Now, a word of advice," said Brett, crouching to check that all was secure. "Stick to the easy slopes. No double black diamonds," he grinned.
"Uh huh," Jensen replied.
"This equipment wasn't designed for the difficult runs. You will
end up getting hurt if you attempt them."
"I gotcha." Jensen cast a look at a frowning Jared.
"Jared, you good to assist now?"
"I... think so."
"OK, let me attach the safety line to you." He looked up at Jared, sensing some hesitancy. "You'll be fine," he said, a grin crinkling his eyes. He adjusted the belt around Jared's waist, made sure it was secure. "Just take it slow - both of you."
"Aren't you going to..." Jared started to ask.
"This is still part of the lesson, OK? You gotta learn as well, Jared."
"Neil, Ty, you ready?" Brett asked.
"Go ahead, sweetie, we're right here."
"Ah, yeah, right."
Brett had initially eyed Ty's lavender and purple ski outfit somewhat askance, although compared to the fluorescent pink he'd wanted to buy from the catalog, it was fairly mild. Jared had become absolutely convinced that Ty was a woman in a man's body - and it wasn't just for his taste in clothes, although that didn't help.
"Jared, you're going to push off gently, let Jensen set the pace, just follow, play out the safety line. Jensen, if you have a problem, stop, or if you can't stop, please speak up because we won't know otherwise, right?"
Jensen nodded. "Yeah, OK."
"Now, you remember how to stop?"
"Pull back on the handles."
"OK, people, let's do this. Jared?"
Jared gave Jensen a quick pat on the shoulder, huffed a nervous breath, grabbed the handlebar. Pushed off. And was surprised at how fast Jensen gained speed on the downhill run, quickly switching from snowplough position to parallel skiing, made it look easy, in fact, which, compared to some of the stuff he'd had to deal with in the last few years, it probably was. It was likely to be the closest he'd ever come again to being the graceful guy Jared had first met. Jared had always been athletic, flexible and strong, but he was too gangly to ever be considered graceful, which was how he frequently came to play the buffoon in physical gags. Jensen had always been precise and graceful in the way he moved, deft in a way that Jared had always envied. They slowed, coming to the bottom of the run, allowing Jared, who was at the full length of the safety line, Brett, Neil and Ty to catch up. And the shining smile on Jensen's face? Well, that just made the whole nightmare of getting to Idaho worth it.
"OK, ready to go again?" Brett asked, smiling widely.
Brett took them through two more runs, letting Neil and Jared do all the work. At the bottom after the second run, he shrugged and just said, "Well, I don't think you guys need me anymore. Wish all my clients were this easy. Good luck!" and skied off.
Jared and Jensen just exchanged looks. And that expression of absolute joy on Jensen's face? Well, Jared just couldn't believe that something so simple had put it there. "Ready to go again?" Jared finally asked.
"Neil, Ty, you heard the man."
"We did," Neil responded, coming up on the opposite side.
"Sweetie, we're just glad you're having fun."
"Yeah, I am." Jensen grinned up at Ty.
Jared leaned down to release the straps for the ski lift. "OK, let's do this. Neil?"
Jared looked at Jensen in surprise, not expecting the whoop as they lifted him up onto the seat.
"What?" Jensen looked at him, grinning.
"Nothing, just glad you're happy." He pulled the safety bar down over them both. Neil had elected to join Ty on the next seat back, so they were alone.
"What's not to be happy about? This is fun."
"Yeah, looks it. Been wishing I could have a go."
Jensen looked at him thoughtfully. "Seriously?"
"Yeah." Jared nodded several times, pursed his lips. "Remember the soapbox derby?"
"Yeah. Remember you winning it as well. I should have loaded on some ballast, made myself a bit heavier so I moved faster."
"Still, all in a good cause."
Jared raised the bar, got them both back onto terra firma and out of the way until he and Neil could redo the straps. "That's the kinda fun it reminds me of." Jared grinned.
"Yeah, OK. It is a little, I guess." Jensen gave Jared a speculative look as they prepared for the next run. He nodded at the safety line in Jared's hand, "And you can ditch that thing."
Jared thought about protesting, but it was clear Jensen had the general hang of things, and they were on a beginner slope. Besides Jensen had a lot of protection; between the Kartski, and the helmet, and back brace. He wound the cord, shoved it in his jacket pocket, did up the zipper. "Um, OK."
Jensen didn't hear him, he'd already let out another loud whoop as he started down the slope. Jared had to push off fast, hurrying to keep up with him, because damn, the Kartski moved fast. They were more than halfway down the slope, and he was still a ski-length behind, when Jensen applied the brake, pulling the cart to a stop. He tilted his head back as Jared came to a stop beside him, and holy shit, the look on Jensen's face stole Jared's breath.
He was grinning wide, almost laughing, and the cold made his freckles stand out more than usual. "You're right, you should try this. " Jensen nodded towards his boots, his eyes openly daring him, "Bet there's just enough room."
Jared should've said no, but he'd been pretty damn impressed with the hefty construction of the Kartski, and the rest of the slope was easy money. And when was the last time he and Jensen had done anything truly crazy? He tromped around to the front of the Kartski, situated himself on Jensen's boots, pointed his skis forward, found a handhold on each side of the frame. Shit, the hard boots weren't very comfortable on his ass, but then Jensen let go of the brakes and with his added weight, they quickly gained momentum, literally flying down the rest of the slope. It was
more intense, sitting this low to the snow, listening to the whisper of the skis as the ground sailed by.
Jared raised his hands high as they coasted to a stop near the chairlifts, shouting "Yes! We won!!" There was mostly kids on the slope and they turned to stare, while the parents gave them amused, tolerant looks. All he cared about, though, was Jensen's laughter.
Neil and Ty caught up to them and Jared saw a small smile cross Neil's face before he schooled it in a bored expression, "Congratulations. I believe you just broke the world record for 'least amount of time before we misuse a piece of equipment'."
Jensen's smile was blinding, even as he pitched his voice into a wheedling tone that would've done K.C. proud, "Aww, come on, Neil - "
" I won't say anything else," Neil interjected, " If
you promise me you will not to wipe out intentionally."
Jared's eyes whipped from Neil back to Jensen, and shit, he could just tell from Jensen's too innocent look that he'd been thinking of pulling something like that. "Um, no. We promise we won't, right Jensen?"
"Fine." Jensen said it, then let out a long, exasperated sigh when all three of them continued to eye him, "I promise, happy? Come on, we're burning daylight."
"All right." Jared waited for the chairlift, tilted the Kartski forward. It was a matter of a few seconds to get Jensen onto the lift, then hop on himself and bring the safety bar down. He remembered Neil's lecture when Jared had first ordered the Kartski. Neil had told him they needed to extra careful of that Jensen didn't get too hot or too cold, and they also needed to ensure Jensen didn't do too much, because he was using different muscles, and with his messed up nerves, he might not even realize he was overdoing it.
He wrapped an arm around Jensen, leaned in, lips brushing just under Jensen's ear - he felt a little cool, but it was probably just the wind. "Couple of more times, and then we'll grab hot chocolate." Saw Jensen jut out his jaw, and added hastily, "And a massage." He brushed his lips again, this time over Jensen's nose.
Jensen gave a small sigh, "You're right."
Jared had expected a fight, and the words left his mouth before he could think to stop them, "I am?"
The corner of Jensen's mouth quirked up, but his eyes were serious, "Yeah, you are. I want to do this again tomorrow, so, thank you."
There it was again, the trust. Lately it seemed like Jensen was fighting him less and less, and it was good, but it was also scary as hell, because Jensen trusted
him. In the past few months, Jared sometimes wondered if he was pressing too hard, stuck between needing to be a part of Jensen's life and yet not always sure how much right he had to insist Jensen and Neil let him help with things. And instead of fighting him, Jensen was meeting him halfway. The calm he'd felt earlier, when he'd been talking to Ty, evaporated, leaving him with a churning, almost sick sensation in his stomach. He was the one who was the fuck-up in the relationship, he'd always been the fuck-up and now they were married and Jensen trusted
him, and that just meant he was probably going to fuck something else up -
"You've been hanging around Neil too long. I can
be reasonable, so quit staring at me like that."
Jared pulled on a smile at Jensen's teasing, knowing that this was Jensen's way of checking on him, making sure he wasn't freaking out. Got the words out, attempting to tease back, "Uh huh. When's the last time you've told me that I was right about anything?" They'd reached the top, and he swung the bar up, jumped off, unloaded the Kartski.
Jensen tipped his head back, his eyes silently asking if Jared was alright, even while his voice lightened, "Well, I won't let it happen again."
"Asshole." Jared dropped a kiss on Jensen's forehead, and winked so Jensen would stop worrying, "Race you to the bottom?"
"Go!" Jensen pushed off before Jared had the sentence complete, and Jared pushed off, trying to catch up, because yeah, Jensen still
Jared was glad they'd knocked off after several runs, because his own legs ached some. Things had been so crazy the last few weeks, he hadn't kept up with his workouts like he should've, and now, he was paying for it. He stretched his legs out, careful not to spill his hot chocolate and propped his feet on the coffee table. Jensen looked up at Jared, giving the shy, reserved smile that always made Jared's heart leap in his chest. He looked tired but relaxed, happy. Jared smiled back, and it was almost like a light went on in his brain. This was my doing. We're here because... because of me.
Jared's smile widened and he took Jensen's left hand in his, wrapped it in his huge paw. "Jen?"
"Jared?" Jensen raised an eyebrow.
"We doing the right thing here? I mean... you're not..."
"You're kidding me, aren't you? Jay..."
Jared shrugged, knowing it was stupid, that the question was stupid, but things were getting mixed up inside him again. He was happy, happy to be here beside Jensen, beside his husband
and yet, the enormity of what they'd done was hitting him, and he just needed to hear it . "I’m sorry, it’s just - " he groped for the words but couldn't find them, and Jensen tilted his head, and his voice was quiet, but firm, assuring.
"Jared, I absolutely... absolutely believe this was the right thing to do. It feels... dunno, a little strange right now. I feel a little odd about it all, so I guess you do, too. But yes, marry you? Most sensible thing I've done in... years." Jensen was firm, and he punctuated his statement with a huge smile. "Jared, you know I'm... I need this as much as you do. Right?"
"Uh huh. But I'm such a screw-up, and... I should've been there, should've been there for you, you know?"
"You have to stop beating yourself up about that, Jared."
Jared made a noise in his throat.
"Jared, it wasn't your fault - what happened - and I certainly don't blame you for not being there. It took both of us to screw things up."
"You keep saying that." Jared released Jensen's hand, laid his right hand out flat on his thigh, fingers splayed. He took a cautious sip of his hot chocolate, testing the temperature. Blew on it when it burned his tongue.
Jensen smiled. "Maybe if I keep saying it, you'll believe it in the end." Jensen lifted his hand, placed it over Jared's, attempted to thread his fingers in between Jared's. He felt the pull in his shoulder as he moved, was really going to need the promised massage. "Besides, I kinda need you." Butted his shoulder into Jared's.
"You do?" Jared moved his hand, wrapped his arm around Jensen's shoulders, pulled him in close.
"Yeah, you... bring me out of myself." Jensen cocked his head, looked up at him again.
Jared looked at him in puzzlement.
"Like today." Jensen closed his eyes, sighed. "Before you came back into my life, there's no way anyone could have gotten me to attempt what we did today. I just... Going out in public like that - being so different. I find it really hard, I couldn't do it alone. I needed you there to get me through it."
"You were always kinda... didn't like being fussed over..." Jared put his cup down, reached for Jensen's, let him take a sip through the straw. The ceramic coffee cup was far too heavy for Jensen to manage on his own and he wondered for a moment why Ty had used ceramic and not plastic. Jensen rolled the chocolaty warmth across his tongue a couple of times before swallowing, gave Jared a somewhat enigmatic look. He released the straw, nudged Jared's hand up with his own, put his mouth down on the lip of the cup, the straw poking into his cheek, and drank deeply, eyes closing with pleasure. Stopped and waited for Jared to move the cup away.
Jared put the cup back on the coffee table. Reached a warm hand up to Jensen's face. Jensen licked the hot chocolate from his lips, leaned into Jared's hand as he brushed Jensen's cheek with his thumb. "See," he continued as if he hadn't been interrupted, "I've seen how people look at me, Jay. I know how I look, walk, how I move - or don't move." He grimaced, shook his head. "The whole 'Jensen is a junky' thing. I can understand it... why they would think that."
"Thing is, inside?" Jensen interrupted. "Inside I'm still that muscular 30 year old, the one who could jump on car hoods and through windows, the one who used to outrun the stuntmen without getting out of second gear - first gear when it was you."
He grinned at Jared’s outraged, “Hey!”
"Invented silly dances for gag reels, broke the prop guns. It's-it's hard. So this, you, I need it too. I can't do it by myself."
"But you have a life."
"Without you, I have work, and I have home. Nothing else. Nothing to stretch my boundaries. I couldn't do it - not by myself. A lot of the time, my life kinda sucked majorly. Being with you, well, it sucks a whole lot less."
"So what you're saying is..."
"My life is a whole lot better with you
in it. I want you here with me. I didn't just marry you to please you
, you know." He grinned suddenly. "It was to please me
as well." He cocked his head slightly, caught Jared's answering smile, felt Jared's body relax as the tension leached out of it. Felt a little relief himself - he'd obviously said the right thing. "For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, Jared. Wasn't in the service, but I kinda like the thoughts behind it. Sounds like something we could maybe do by ourselves, doesn't it." He jagged his chin at the cup on the coffee table in a silent request for more.
Jared caught the movement, reached for the cup, paused in the movement. The turning over of the cogwheels in Jared's brain became almost audible. "Yeah, yeah, it does. For better, for worse, in sickness and in health, Jen." Jared almost whispered the words, dropped a kiss on Jensen's brow.
He waited as Jensen drank deeply again, his eyes blissfully closing, before putting the cup back on the table. Jensen snuggled into Jared's body, the warm strength supporting him comfortably, happy to be able to feel it with the brace gone. He kept his eyes closed, tiredness creeping in. "Man, it's been far too long..." he sighed happily, speech slurring a little.
"Are you going to sleep on me?" Jared asked in a tone of wonder.
Jensen didn't bother to open his eyes. "Yup. You're comfy and... I like you."
Jared's laugh rumbled deep in his chest. "Come on, let's hit the shower and I'll give you that massage, and then you can have a nap before dinner. In a proper bed. You'll completely fuck yourself up for tomorrow if you go to sleep like this."
"Tomorrow?" He felt Jared's body turn as he looked over his shoulder at the sound of someone coming down the stairs.
"Yeah, I, uh, kinda thought you might wanna ski some more."
"Oh, yeah, I doooo."
"Can I finish my hot chocolate first?" He couldn't help it, knew he sounded like a petulant child, was even pouting a little. Heard Neil's half-smothered snicker from behind him, only partly drowned out by the sound of running water.
"Yeah," Jared laughed, "come on, sit up straight." Jared reached for the cup, held it steady as Jensen put his hand on Jared's wrist.
Jensen turned his head, looked into Jared's eyes. Smiled, put his lips to the cup again. Took a noisy slurp, looking over the top of the cup at Jared, still smiling, pulled back. "So, how're your hands feeling?"
"Good, coz if I'm going skiing tomorrow, I'm gonna need that massage."
Jared just threw his head back and laughed. Part 1 Part 2 Part 4