And be yourself my ally in love's battle Part 4/4 series:
Then let me build a bridge verse:
Battlements author: calamitycrow
and kasman artist: naisica beta readers: beadslut disclaimer:
see part 1 rating:
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 honeymoon title: And be yourself my ally in love’s battle (Sappho) Part 4: For myself in my frenzied heart Christmas Eve Afternoon (Tuesday):
At a quarter to five, Jared closed his book, and got up. He went down the hall, and opened the door to the bedroom. Just stood there, taking in the sight of Jensen sleeping. After six months of living together, it shouldn't have felt so different to watch Jensen sleep, but it did
. Part of it was that that Jensen was his husband
, but mostly it was all tied up in what Jensen had told him yesterday. Jensen had never opened up like that before, and Jared felt like... like there was something more solid, more real
about their relationship now. Like their relationship was something he could rely on--even lean on--that it really was as important to Jensen as it was to him.
Holy shit, he loved Jensen so damn much, it almost hurt.
This morning had been good, fantastic
in fact. Jared hadn't really thought he'd be able to order the Kartski without Jensen catching on, but it'd been a total surprise. Jensen had practically flown through the session with the instructor yesterday, and he'd been a natural on the slopes this morning. He'd been a lot less self-conscious too--even joked about Jared needing to help him with his gloves and the chairlift, and he'd accepted help getting back into the car without his normal grumbling. It hadn't taken much to get Jensen to take a nap either, but that was mostly because all the exercise and fresh air had caught up with him.
Jared put a shoulder against the door frame and grinned, remembering Jensen skiing--and how happy and relaxed he'd been, and how much fun it had been riding down the slope as a passenger perched on Jensen's feet. Finally he gave himself a mental shake, pushed off the door frame and crossed the room. He leaned over, dropping his lips over Jensen's and felt Jensen waking up, responding to the kiss, his lips curling up into a smile. Jared pulled back just barely, reluctant to break the contact, "Hey. It's almost supper time."
Jensen's smile widened, and he placed his left hand against Jared's cheek, "Good. I'm hungry."
Jared was a little startled, but then again, Jensen'd barely touched his lunch and he'd gotten a lot
of exercise this morning. "Maybe I should have Ty fix you something. We have reservations for six o'clock, but who knows how quickly we'll get served." He saw Jensen's hesitation, and straightened, then reached for the remote for the ES. "Come on, let's get you dressed, and we'll grab something. I'm hungry, too."
hungry." Jensen rolled his eyes as he pushed himself up, then tilted his head. "And you're always looking for an excuse to grope me."
Jared found himself grinning again, as he sneaked in another quick kiss, "Yep. Guilty." He crossed over to the luggage, "Jeans or slacks?" Since they were having Christmas Eve dinner with their families, he guessed Jensen would want jeans, but he was still determined to make Jensen pay more attention to what he wore.
"A dress shirt." Jensen's tone made it clear he was humoring Jared. Jared turned, and Jensen gave him another eye roll. "Fine. White. And the gray sweater."
"Okay." Jared grabbed the clothes, and Jensen's black boots. There really wasn't much of a choice for footwear, Neil preferred Jensen to wear boots whenever he was tired--wearing a boot gave his right foot and ankle better support, so the choice came down to color. "And now?" He gave Jensen his best leer, "Man handling."
"Yeah, figures." Jensen's grumble had no heat in it, though, and when Jared slipped the dress shirt over his t-shirt and reached behind to fasten the Velcro tab, Jensen tipped his head back so they could kiss again.
He willingly obliged, loving the way Jensen's mouth felt, and how Jensen leaned into his touch. This was one of the biggest reasons Jared was glad that he'd insisted on learning to help with Jensen's care. Sure, he'd done it mainly for selfish reasons at first--he'd just been so overwhelmed by Jensen's disability when they'd gotten back together, scared stiff that he was going to do something wrong, hurt Jensen somehow. He begun to realize that he really could make things easier for Jensen, even try to make it all a little less clinical and a little more fun. "Keep that up and we're going to starve."
"I doubt that'll happen as long as Ty's around." Jensen snorted, as he let Jared help him to his feet, and Jared took advantage of the situation, making sure to cop a quick feel before helping him remove the sweatpants, laughing at Jensen's, "Hey!"
Once Jensen was dressed, he lowered himself into the wheelchair, so Jared could put his boots on. Jared unzipped one boot, and reached out to double-check that Jensen's sock wasn't too tight.
He looked up, "Yes?"
Jensen's smile was soft, almost fond. "Thank you. This morning was great. "
Jared's brain kicked out something incredibly sappy, and he had to bite the words back, as he shot Jensen the biggest smile he could manage. "It was, wasn't it? I am pretty damn awesome."
As he'd hoped, that pulled a laugh out of Jensen. Jared took care of both boots, hovered as Jensen pushed himself to his feet. Which was a good thing, because he had to put a hand out to steady Jensen for a moment. "Tired?"
Frustration flickered through Jensen's eyes and his jaw tensed, "Yeah. "
"Good, then we can eat, and come back to our cabin." Jared shifted his hand to under Jensen's elbow, wishing Jensen would use a wheelchair. Just once.
"I still have one more present for you."
Jensen tried, and failed, to stop a tolerant smile, "Whatever happened to waiting until Christmas
"It's already Christmas somewhere, and besides I want to give it to you tonight." All right, that totally
sucked as an argument, but Jensen shook his head, conceding the point. They walked down the hall, into the living room, and Jared noticed that Ty was already in the kitchen, fixing sandwiches. Neil hit the mute on the football game, stood and pulled a chair out from the small bar at the end of the kitchenette.
"Ty," Jared hovered again, as Jensen shook off his hand and sat down, "you
are like a mind reader."
"Sweetheart, you are always hungry. Besides," Ty flapped a hand in the air, and then finished assembling the second sandwich, throwing Neil a teasing look, "it gives me something to do, especially since it's football season."
Jared stepped around him and grabbed one of the bottles of water. Another of Neil's hang ups, he really didn't like Jensen drinking regular tap water. They had some kind of special filter for the water at the mansion--Neil had tried to explain it once, but Jared had gotten a bit lost somewhere between chemicals and pH balance, and had chalked it up to one of those Neil 'things'. He poured two plastic cups of water and took them back to the tiny breakfast bar. He gave Jensen an amused glance as he sat down, because Ty had done it again. The guy had a habit of cutting the crusts off sandwiches--even for adults. "Thanks, Ty. Um, is there any more zucchini stuff left from lunch?"
"Yes, but you need to leave some room for dinner, babe."
"Uh, yeah, but this is Jared you're talking about," Jensen cut in, a smile quirking his lips. "He could eat half a Texas longhorn and still have room for dessert."
"Hey!" Jared put as much indignation as he could into it. "You are the one who didn't want to wait until dinner."
Neil hit the mute for the game again, "Ty, did you just tell Jared not to eat squash so he could fill up on carbs and grease later?"
Ty had the the fridge open, and let out a high-pitched giggle, as he reached for the zucchini casserole. "Yes, I guess I did."
He was just setting it down in front of Jared when there was a knock on the door. He raised his voice, "Come in."
The door opened and Emilio came in, carrying Jasmine, with Gabbie trailing behind. Jasmine's face was tear-streaked, and her bottom lip was sticking out.
Ty immediately reached out, his banter turning into what could only be called a mothering tone, "What's the matter, princess?"
"She fell. It's just a scrape, but she insisted you had to kiss it too." Emilio handed his daughter over to Ty, his face a bit rueful.
"Well, of course I do." Ty snuggled her close, "Let's see your owie, OK?"
"Why are you eating?" Gabbie walked over, staring at Jared solemnly, "We're supposed to wait for dinner, Dad said so."
"Well, yeah, but I'm a lot bigger than you," Jared replied, equally solemnly, "so it takes a lot more food to keep me going. So it's sort of OK if I have something to eat now and have dinner later on as well."
Gabbie rocked back on her heels, looked up at Jared's full seated height, as if only now for the first time noticing that he was a giant.
"Besides, we didn't have much lunch," Jensen added, coming to the rescue, "so we're hungry now. And anyway, Jared's eating vegetables, so that doesn't count."
"Yes, it does," Gabbie responded seriously.
"She's got you there, Jensen." Jared forked in another bite of the zucchini casserole. "Veggies totally
count. This is squash, though, so it's not a vegetable." And the lie was totally worth it for the way Gabbie scrunched up her face, giving them both a distrustful look, not sure if they were teasing her or not.
"Gabbie? Come here." Emilio had sat down on the couch, patted the cushion beside him, "You can tell me which team you think is going to make a touchdown first."
Gabbie allowed herself to be distracted, and Jared turned his attention back to his own meal. And to Jensen.
Jensen's fatigue was glaringly obvious. He ate slowly, and Jared could see he was having some trouble with picking up the pieces of his sandwich, his hand not fully co-operating with what his brain wanted it to do. Ty had Jasmine sitting on the kitchen counter as he tended to her wounds, gently consoling her with a Band-Aid and hugs. Jared threw him a quick glance, then looked over at Neil.
"Jensen?" He put a hand on Jensen's right hand, where it rested on the table. "You sure you wanna do this tonight?"
"I'm fine!" Jensen's response was just a little too vehement.
"I know you are, but you're also tired." Jared sighed, watched as Jensen struggled to pick up the last sandwich. He cocked his head as the alarm on the wrist monitor went off, signaling 5:30.
"Sorry. I shouldn't have snapped." Jensen gave Jared an apologetic look as he took a bite, put down the last piece of the sandwich. "Neil?"
Jensen started pushing to his feet, shook his head. "No, finish your food. This won't take long."
Jared picked up his fork again, followed Jensen's progress across the room. Shoveled in another mouthful of zucchini when the bedroom door closed.
Ty gave Jasmine one last peck on the cheek, put her back down on the ground with an, "Off you go, sweetie. No more falling down, OK?"
She ran back to her father, who was already standing. He scooped her up in one arm. "Thank you, Ty."
"No problem. Jasmine, honey, take care of your dad and your sister, OK?"
Emilio took Gabbie's hand and turned to go. "See you later."
Jared gave him a wave, chewed his food thoughtfully, looked back over at Ty. He put the fork down.
"He'll be OK, sweetie," Ty said. "He's just tired."
"I know." Jared pushed his plate away. Ty was right, but he just wished... wished Jensen would take better care of himself.
Ty reached across the counter for Jared's plate. "You finished with this?"
"Yeah, thanks, Ty, that was great."
"You're welcome." He picked up the plate, paused. "Baby, you know Jensen is Jensen. It'll be a good excuse for you both to have an early night."
"Yeah. Just wish he wasn't so stubborn
"I know." Ty's tone was sympathetic. He ran some water and began washing the plates. "Go on, get yourself ready to go, this'll only take a couple of minutes."
Jared nodded, "OK." Stood, slowly pushed his chair in. "Thanks again, Ty."
"Jared, stop worrying, sweetie. It'll be fine. We'll all make sure he's OK, OK?"
"Now, go on," Ty shooed him off, hands flapping, "scoot."
Jared paused at the bedroom door. Neil had seated Jensen in front of the dresser and was fluffing up his hair, which was still flattened from his nap. Jared opened the closet, looking for his coat. He looked across to see Jensen watching him in the mirror, smiling. Something melted in Jared's chest. He'd been - they'd both been so happy these last few days. He wished - hoped - it could stay like this when they went back home. He pulled on his coat, "Neil, go and get ready, I got this."
"Apparently, I am the third wheel in this relationship." Neil straightened, his voice dry. He crossed to the door, closed it behind him.
"Which coat?"Jared asked, still holding the closet door open.
"You know, you don't have to keep doing this." Jensen studied him in the mirror, caught the set of his jaw. "OK, the black one."
"There, now, that wasn't hard, was it?"
Jensen rolled his eyes, "I still don't get why you're making such a big deal out of what I wear."
"I--I just want you to care a bit about your appearance," Jared shrugged, as he grabbed the coat. He turned and noticed Jensen was eyeing him, obviously trying to figure out where his head was. "Besides, we never know when the paparazzi might decide to invade Idaho"
"Riiight," Jensen rolled his eyes again. He waited for Jared to walk back over and pushed himself to his feet, "Just so we're clear, if you're expecting me to be arm candy, that's a deal breaker."
Jared made a hasty grab for Jensen, steadying him, because holy shit, the guy was seriously uncoordinated. "Actually, you're the millionaire, I'm just the trophy husband."
For once, Jensen didn't protest the help. He leaned into Jared, and tipped his head back, a smirk playing across his lips, "Dude, I already pay for Ty's manicures, I am not
paying for yours." ~~+~~
"And on that note," Jared put his napkin down, "I think me and Jensen are going to call it an evening and turn in."
MacKenzie shot him a smile, "Uh huh. Like you're going to be doing any sleeping."
She'd been watching Jensen worriedly ever since they sat down nearly an hour ago, and Jared was grateful that she went for a joke, instead of openly saying something. "Hey, it could happen."
"Well, you're the one who needs your beauty sleep," Jensen hung on to a smile as he let Jared help him to his feet, "Not me."
Hey!" Jared shifted his grip, so his hand was under Jensen's left elbow.
"I'd make a comment about delusional thinking, but your families are present." Neil stood as well, helped Jensen with his coat. Then he fell in beside them as they left the room, his hand tight around Jensen's other arm.
This was the one thing Jared wished they'd done differently; they should've looked at maps of the restaurants at the resort. All of them had rooms for big parties, but the rooms were invariably in the back, which meant a long walk. Jensen was simply too tired tonight, and Jared was nearly tripping over his own feet, trying to shorten his stride to Jensen's much slower steps. They reached the lobby, and Jared nodded at the benches along the wall. "Why don't you--"
"No." Jensen immediately cut him off and Jared caught Neil's eye and sighed. At least the restaurant had a portico, so Emilio had the car parked only a couple of feet from the door. Emilio was already waiting, and Jared let him help Neil get Jensen into the car, while he jogged around to the other side, opened the door and got in himself.
He slid over, snapped Jensen's seat belt before snapping his. Smiled when Jensen settled against him, "Don't fall asleep, you still have a gift to open, remember?"
"I'm not tired," Jensen grumbled, "I slept all
. Jared scooted closer, so Jensen could more easily lean against him. Jensen had
slept the afternoon away, but he was still tired and sore from skiing. Next time, he was going to insist they skip dinner, instead of leaving it up to Jensen, who was a stubborn idiot
. Well, with tomorrow being Christmas, they wouldn't be skiing.
It was only a couple minutes' drive to the cabin. Emilio parked and Jared got out, went around to Jensen's side. Man, he hated the rental car--it was too damn low, and Jensen was too tired, and Emilio ended up having to help. Jared looked at the short path to the cabin door and made a decision. He handed the key card to Emilio, and then scooped Jensen into his arms.
Jensen's good hand thumped against his chest, "Damnit, put me down!"
"Ow." Jared said it automatically, although Jensen had barely tapped him. Every time he picked Jensen up, he was always taken back by how light he was. "Stop it, that hurt.
Jensen smacked him again, "Damnit, Jared, I can walk
"Uh huh." Jared slowed so Emilio could open the door, crossed over to the couch. Set Jensen on his feet, careful to keep one arm around him, "Thank you, Emilio."
"Sure." Emilio dropped the keycard on the kitchen counter, his brown eyes openly laughing at them, "You need ice?"
"No, I'm good." Jared smiled back, while Jensen scowled. Emilio closed the door behind him, and Jensen looked up, still scowling. And holy shit, but Jensen always looked like he was all of about six when he was pouting.
Jared took Jensen's stocking cap off, unzipped his jacket, went for the easy answer,"Sorry, I just really want to give you your gift."
"Yeah, well I can
walk." Jensen was still grousing, but he relaxed, allowed Jared to take his jacket off. "And it's not Christmas until tomorrow
"It's Christmas in China." Jared threw it out, although he had no idea if that was true or not. Put his hand under Jensen's elbow, "Sit. I wanna give you your present."
"Newsflash, dumbass." Jensen gave in and sat down, and it was clear he was struggling to hang onto the scowl, "Christmas is a Christian holiday, so China doesn't count."
"It totally counts." Jared waited until Jensen had sunk back against the couch cushions, before he went over to the TV cabinet. He knelt and opened the bottom doors, using his body to block Jensen's view as he checked that the controllers were sending a signal to the video game box, then connected a programming box to one of the remotes. "How does Robotic Dinosaurs sound?"
"You found it?" Jensen's tone changed, became eager, "I thought you said it was unavailable."
As Jared had hoped, Jensen immediately thought that Jared's gift was a Thai video game that had been getting hyped a lot on the different forums, some new robotic-dinosaur-fighting thing. It was cool that people rated video games for ease of use, but generally the easiest ones were racing games, and that got boring. He shrugged, "I lied. You didn't want me to spoil the surprise, did you?"
"Well, hurry up then."
"Hold your horses." Jared shot back. He had paid a rather obscene amount of money to win the game on eBay, but that wasn't Jensen's real
Christmas gift. Jared had spent months trying to find an accessible video controller. There were several companies making them, but most of the designs used sip and puff technology, and Jared could guess how well that
would go over. Finally, he'd found a company in the UK that made one-handed video game controllers. He fiddled with the new controller, got it sending a signal to the programming box, popped the game in, then turned on the TV. To his relief, he'd gotten it all connected up right--this time. He and Chris had spent several frustrating hours the first time, trying to figure out how to make it all work.
He closed the doors, got to his feet, "All right, all we need now is pillows. I'll be back."
It took only a couple of seconds to grab two pillows from the bed. Jensen gave him a quizzical look as he stepped back into the living room. Jared winked, put one pillow down, placed Jensen's good arm on it. He pulled the coffee table over, swung Jensen's legs up, slid the other pillow under them, "Just stay there, and trust me, OK?"
He opened the doors, pulled out the new controller, as well as the other one he hadn't messed with. Sat down next to Jensen, put the controller on the pillow, "This
is your Christmas gift. Go on, put your hand on it."
Jared had been surprised by how simple, and yet ingenious, the remote was. The new remote was two pieces of black plastic, one piece shaped like an extra large ergonomic mouse, bolted to the second piece, a square base. As Jensen's hand curled over the hump, his fingertips rested on the four pressure-sensitive pads in the front. There were two levers with Velcro loops on the side of the remote, and Jared reached down, wrapped them around Jensen's thumb. "There you go. You now control the horizontal--and the vertical. Your thumb is the movement. Index finger is fire, middle finger is jump--uh, are you OK?"
Jensen had an odd look on his face, "Yeah, I, uh... you know, you really didn't have to do this--any of this."
For a second, Jared was caught off-guard, because he hadn't expected Jensen to get so emotional about a video controller. In fact, he'd half-expected resistance--Jensen wasn't exactly good about embracing adaptive stuff, even though it made his life easier, which is why it had surprised him how quickly Jensen had warmed to the Kartski. He leaned in, sneaked a quick kiss, "Yeah, I did. It was either this or another rock." That worked, drew a smile out of Jensen, "Now, you're supposed to be listening; this is the fire and this is jumping. That's all this game needs, but there's a programming box, and the pads can be set for different things. There's also a pressure thing where your hand rests, and another pressure thing here, which you can hit with your thumb--if we can figure out the programming, we should be able to make it work for other games."
"You programmed it yourself?"
"Actually, me and Chris programmed it together." He left out the fact it had taken them nearly two hours and a lot of swearing. "You ready to try it? Oh, I forgot. Hit the pressure thing under your thumb twice, that will start and stop the game."
Jensen did just that, waited as the opening screen came up - in Japanese, of course. Jared almost burst out laughing at the look of concentration on Jensen's face as he tried to find the actual "start" of the game, frowning at the Japanese characters, which totally figured in a Thai game.
It took three attempts before Jensen finally found the 'start' and it was quickly apparent that the thumb levers had to be adjusted - they weren't sensitive enough. Jared got up, "Hit pause, I'll see if I can fix it."
Jensen moved his thumb, paused the game, and Jared went over, knelt and pulled the control box out. It took him a couple of seconds of fumbling through the options on the digital display before he found the settings for movement. He couldn't remember what the numbers meant, so he lowered the level on both switches. "All right, start the game again."
"Wrong way, idiot."
"Hey!" Jared protested automatically, as he glanced over his shoulder, and yeah, Jensen was smiling at him. He raised the levels, flicked his eyes to the screen. Jensen's robotic dinosaur still seemed a little sluggish, so he raised them a little more. "That better?"
"Yeah, that's good."
Jared glanced over his shoulder again. Jensen was definitely tired, his voice was husky and deeper than usual, but he was still smiling.
"Cool." Jared put the control box back, got to his feet. Grabbed his controller and settled on the couch next to Jensen, "Now I'm gonna kick your ass."
Jensen tilted his head, the usual hazel of his eyes lightening to a hazel-green, "Bring it, bitch."
He began the game again, and the ease with which he was able to do so, that alone made all the effort of finding the controller worth it. Jared actually won the first game, but only because Jensen was getting used to the thumb controls. About halfway through the second game, Jensen got the hang of things, and then it was over, his robotic dinosaur turning Jared's dinosaur into a ignominious pile of ash and scrap metal.
Jared raised his hands in surrender, "I give up. Go solo, I'm just gonna watch."
Jensen shifted, as he glanced up at him, his eyes dancing, "That's because you suck."
Jared grinned back, but he'd seen the pain that had cross Jensen's face when he'd moved. He reached over, snagged one of the decorative pillows on the chair. "Let's get your legs higher."
Jensen rolled his eyes, "I'm fine."
"No, you're not
." Jared tucked the pillow under Jensen's legs, "How's that?"
"You're in my way. I can't see around your ginormous head." Jensen grumbled, and Jared huffed, because he knew Jensen was just trying to get him to stop worrying, and that wasn't going to happen.
When Jensen had stopped running Austin last summer, Jared had actually thought the guy might cut back some, but this was Jensen and he was apparently incapable of delegating. This past month had been insane for both of them, but it was Jensen who'd really paid the price. He leaned back, propped his own feet on the table. "All right, happy?"
The game was fairly entertaining, if a bit brutal. Jensen's robotic dinosaur had to move through post-apocalyptic city, plowing through an alarming number of monsters and cars, which was a weird combination, but whatever. Jensen was relaxed and enjoying himself, and that was all that... "What the hell are those?
"Uh, I think they are supposed to be evil badgers?" Jensen had hit some kind of secret level and there were a gazillion black things with beady red eyes, breathing fire. "Or satanic hedgehogs? Fuck!" He swore as his dinosaur got caught in the crossfire, immediately falling into a pile of ash and scrap.
Of course, he immediately hit reset, and Jared sneaked a peek at his watch. Decided to give Jensen a half an hour to kill satanic hedgehogs before he started nagging about going to bed. ~~+~~
Jared gently rolled Jensen onto the pillows, undid the Velcro fastening at the back of his t-shirt. He grinned as Jensen melted into the pillows supporting his body with a happy sigh. This was absolutely his favorite part of the day, even in a day that had many favorite parts - he was officially licensed to touch his husband's body. Jared poured some massage oil into his hands, waited for it to warm.
"Pickin' out curtains again?" Jensen mumbled when Jared didn't make a move.
Jared chuckled. "Yeah, I'm thinkin' yellow."
Jensen snorted a laugh, sighed again as Jared put his hands down on his neck. Jared had taken Jensen smoothly through his nighttime routine - even the less pleasant aspects of the routine - brushing teeth, bowel program, shower, meds. Now, though, was pleasure time. For both of them. Jared started working on tight, sore muscles, glad that tomorrow would actually be a day of rest.
"Should'a' sent you on that course sooner," Jensen slurred into the pillow. "Damn... love your hands on me."
"Yeah, I know. Think you're overdoing things on purpose - just so's to get a massage."
"Am not." Jensen turned his head, but the slight upturn of his lips belied his words.
"Yeah?" Jared responded, working a knot in Jensen's left shoulder.
"Well... maybe a little," Jensen conceded. "But mostly it's coz I like having you touch me."
"Yeah? I like touching you."
Jensen gave a slight groan as the knot finally worked its way out. "Thing is, lotta people are scared they're gonna hurt me, so they don't touch."
"Uh-huh. I still get kinda scared sometimes."
"Seriously?" Jensen waited a couple of beats. "No need. You won't hurt me," he said confidently.
"You can't know that." Jared sighed. Hurting Jensen - even unintentionally - was one of his great fears. Sure, there were the occasional knocks, just part of everyday life. Not something that could be helped. The trouble was, Jensen's skin was so fragile that even a minor injury could be a problem, and with the lack of musculature and his light body weight, he had very little padding. He bruised easily, and his poor circulation caused him to take a long time to heal. Jared was also worried that he could cause a greater injury. He was a big guy, and while he was athletic, he could also be clumsy. He needed to keep his hands gentle, while at the same time working at the deeper tissue - it made for a weird balancing act.
"'Least, not on purpose."
"Oh wow," Jensen said as Jared started working on the opposite shoulder. Jared was well aware that Jensen's right shoulder was hurting - it had done more work in the last two days than it had in years. "That's good."
"Uh, a bit. Good sore, though."
"Yeah." Jared couldn't help agreeing - he was a little sore himself. "Well, if we're gonna go to Big Bear, you'll need to..."
"Yeah, I know." He gave another happy groan, snuggled into the pillows a little more. "Worth it."
"Yeah." Jared worked the last of the knots out of Jensen's right shoulder, grabbed the oil bottle again. He poured a little more onto his hands and again let it warm before starting onto Jensen's back. "Jensen?" He spoke hesitantly, not sure whether this was a good time to raise a difficult subject or not. Still, Jensen had been more... well, more open, the past few days, and it was probably better to bring it up when they didn't have any of the usual distractions.
"I-I wanna talk to you about something, but I don't want you to get upset. Can you promise me you won't? Please?"
"I can try."
Jared nodded, then realized Jensen couldn't see him. "Okay, guess that'll have to do." He ran his hands up Jensen's back a couple of times as he considered how he was going to say this, took a couple of breaths. "You need to be a bit more easy on yourself, you're doing too much and it's screwing your body up more." The words came out in a fast, nervous flood.
Jared felt Jensen tense up for a moment, then relax under his hands, letting out a deep sigh. "I know."
"I think when we get back home you need to... I dunno... either get a car that'll carry your wheelchair as well or maybe get a manual chair that Neil or I or... that we can push you in, or what about a more compact electric chair and a - lift or something for the car, since it's just for..."
"I hate being pushed," Jensen interjected, maybe a little sharply, but his tone wasn't angry.
Jared couldn't really see Jensen's face, half-mushed into the pillow as it was, but he could picture the pout that went with the tone and already knew he'd won. He spoke gently, "I know you do, but is it really worth all the extra pain you're putting yourself through? The cramps? The AD? The knots in your muscles. The tiredness? I-I worry about you."
"I know you do. It's-it's just..."
Jared thought for a moment, quirked a grin to himself, kept his tone light, teasing. "I'm not going to stop massaging you just because there's less need for it."
"No." Jared's voice was firmer than he actually felt, but he knew he had to put on a show of confidence. "Told you, I like touching you."
Jensen actually laughed at that, "Not sure if that makes you a hedonist or a voyeur."
"Pot-kettle," Jared grinned in response, relieved that Jensen was listening
"Yeah, all right." Jensen grunted as Jared started the next step in the massage - petrissage - making gentle squeezing movements of the skin with alternating hands as he moved up Jensen's back, then running his hands down Jensen's spine to start over again. "I-I'll think about it."
"Just think about it?"
Jared kept a hand on Jensen's back as he got up on the bed and climbed over to swap sides so he could work on Jensen's left side, caught the thoughtful expression on his husband's face.
"I'll... I''l talk to Neil about it," he finally said. "See what he thinks is the best thing to do."
"And you'll actually listen to him?" Jared raised his eyebrows, sat back on his heels, kneeling on the bed.
"I might." Jensen looked up at Jared with his one visible eye, gave him a half-smile.
"Wow, Hell really is freezing over," Jared couldn't help grinning. "OK, I need to turn you a bit more onto your front - I can't get at your hip."
Jared adjusted Jensen's right leg further into a running position, pulling his body forward and allowing better access to his left hip without having to completely roll him over onto his other side. "That's better," Jared said, starting the second lot of petrissage. "And I'm not saying that you should stop walking completely."
"I know," Jensen made a blissful sound, rubbed his head into the pillow.
"I know you worry about losing your mobility."
"Yeah, I do." Jensen made another small, happy sound as Jared worked his hands over tight muscles, mumbled. "Lost enough already."
"I-I just think that you stand a better chance of keeping what you have if you don't screw yourself up completely by overdoing things."
Jensen was silent for a moment, and when he spoke, his voice was quiet. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess you're right."
Some part of Jared wanted to continue nagging, but he shoved the urge down. "Twice in one week? I'm gonna mark the calendar." He could feel how tight everything was and he slowed, trying to figure out what felt different. Usually it was Jensen's left hip and thigh that cramped, the muscles over-compensating for his weaker right leg. Tonight, even his stomach muscles were tense, knotted, and Jared guessed it was either from skiing or wearing the brace - or maybe both. His fingers hit the scar where they'd taken bone out of Jensen's hip, and Jensen flinched. "Sorry, sensitive?"
Jared frowned, because that had just proved his point. Jensen had a few spots which were always hyper-sensitive, where any kind of touch was usually too much, but his surgical scars only bothered him when he was really, really tired - and usually the one on his hip wasn't that big a deal. He edged around the scar, massaging with one hand, then the other, and finally
felt the muscles loosening. Smiled as Jensen's sigh of relief turned into a small yawn. Jared reached for more oil, warmed it with his hands, continued massaging gently, taking his time. He finished, a little surprised that Jensen hadn't fallen asleep. He closed the seam on Jensen's shirt, and reached over for the pillows. "All right, ready for man-handling?"
Jensen made a noise that he took as an affirmative. He made sure Jensen was properly positioned for sleep on his left side then crawled into bed behind him, molding himself into the curve of his husband’s body, right knee against the pillow between his legs and his left arm under his neck, right wrapped around his body. He felt for Jensen’s right hand, where it was supported on a pillow, started to slowly manipulate it with both of his, working the joints and muscles to free them up. ~~+~~
Jensen was sore but relaxed, the kinks worked out by the massage, and very tired, if not actually all that sleepy. He was warm and comfortable against Jared’s body, gave a happy, affectionate, “Hey, you,” as Jared dropped a kiss on the back of his neck.
He'd had a great day, all things considered. He was thankful for Jared's huge, warm hands, and also touched by the gifts. Well, not the gifts so much as the fact he and Jared had enjoyed the presents together
. The old Jared had always bought him things, but Jensen had often felt like... like a dog. Jared would toss him a gift like it was a treat, and then disappear. Or worse, go into one of his sulks and then show up a few days later, with a present in his hand, expecting instant forgiveness.
And if he was honest, he was beginning to realize that he and Jared should've done this months before, carved out some time for just the two of them, so they could talk, focus on them
. There was always just so much going on, and neither he nor Jared were good at slowing down, or keeping their priorities straight, or even, if he was totally honest, in his case, delegating
. Not that he had any idea how they were going to manage to find time in the future, not between the constant pressure of his job and the general craziness of shooting schedules.
Jared stopped rubbing his hand, pressed another kiss against the nape of his neck, and Jensen pulled his thoughts back to the present, "So, you got anything left to give me for Christmas?"
Jared snorted a laugh. "You'll have to wait and see."
Jensen chuckled back. "Well, there's part of your gift you won't be getting until we're back home." He spared a thought for the beautiful chocolate lab with her soft brown eyes - a "failed" service dog - who would be waiting for them when they got home.
"Uh-huh. What makes you think I wanna wait that long?"
"Gonna have to." Jensen smiled, perfectly aware that Jared couldn't see his face.
"Riiiiighhtttt," Jared drawled it out, his breath puffing Jensen's short hair.
Jensen heard the contentment behind it, and made himself a firm promise that he would make the Valentine's weekend happen - somehow. "Merry Christmas, Jay."
"Um...it's not midnight yet."
"It's gotta be Christmas somewhere."
Jared's laughter was suspiciously close to a giggle, "You gotta stop stealing my lines."
"Night Jensen," Jared's arm tightened, and he snuggled closer, "and Merry Christmas." finis Part 1 Part 2 Part 3