Title: I Dream of Jensen - Timestamp 1
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Padalecki Family
Genre: J2, fantasy, romance, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: Don't own, just playing in the sandbox.
Warning: Obscene appreciation of pie, schmoop
Word Count: 3,400 this timestamp
Summary: Family and pie
Notes: If you want to read the story that spawned this timestamp, you can find it here.
Family and Pie
Minty toothpaste foam fills his mouth and dribbles down his chin into the sink. Still, Jensen keeps brushing. Each tooth gets a thorough scrubbing, then his tongue.
Jared says he’s obsessed with hygiene. Jensen disagrees. It hadn’t taken him long to learn what happens when humans eat food and don’t brush their teeth. Bad breath is something to be avoided at all costs. Therefore, it isn’t obsessive to brush his teeth after every meal, before going to bed at night, upon waking in the morning, and right before seeing his consort again after a long, long day apart.
He spits out a sudsy mouthful, rinses and repeats. There, much better.
Jared will be home from work soon. Thank the heavens. The day has been long and boring without Jared there to keep him company and distract him. He doesn’t like being alone. When he’s alone, the hours crawl by, giving him too much time to think, too much time to miss everything he no longer has.
At odd times, he finds himself reflexively reaching for his magic. Its absence shocks him each and every time, leaves him gut-punched and reeling. Maybe he’ll get used to it one day, stop feeling the loss like a phantom limb that has been savagely ripped from its socket. Not likely, but there’s always the possibility, he supposes.
After carefully running his toothbrush under the water to remove any excess toothpaste, he meanders back out to the living room. Lingering pain slows his steps, but at least he can get around without help now. His increased mobility is the only reason Jared agreed, at Jensen’s prodding, to go to work today. A week has passed since the accident and Jensen’s transformation. During that time, Jared has scarcely left his side, taking the time off work to nurse him back to health.
Although he’d assured Jared he would be fine by himself, his first day spent alone hasn’t been easy. The occasional calls from Jared are the only thing keeping him from feeling completed cut-off from reality and set adrift. The magical bond that used to tether him to his lamp is gone. His life’s purpose no longer exists.
As if heeding an irresistible call without conscious intent, he finds himself standing in front of the desk in the foyer. A stack of mail sits unopened on top. Inside one of the drawers lie Jensen’s cuffs. He hasn’t had the heart to take them out, but this isn’t the first time he’s opened the drawer just to look at them. Trailing a finger over the cool metal, he fantasizes about putting the bronze bands back on, feeling the clasps click shut around his wrists, nice and snug.
The sound of a vehicle turning onto the driveway makes him smile for the first time that day. He’s well aware he’s waiting at the door just like a dog might expectantly await his master’s homecoming. Master, heh, how apropos.
He swings the front door open.
Jared runs up the porch steps to grab him in a big, bear hug. “Gee willikers, I missed you today!”
Jensen shuts his eyes against an unwelcome sting. Human emotions are so random and unpredictable. It’s ridiculous. Why should his eyes water when he’s happy? He burrows into the embrace, trying to wipe the tears away inconspicuously on Jared’s shirt while holding on tight. Maybe too tight.
Jared chuckles. “Yeah, it was a long day. I guess you you missed me too, huh?”
“Just a lit-tle.” He means for it to come out light-hearted and teasing. Unfortunately, the hitch in his voice gives away his emotional fragility. Stupid human emotions.
“Jensen? Hey.” Jared ducks down to catch his eyes. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” A furrow creases his brow, concern from the past week making a speedy reappearance. “I knew I shouldn’t have left you here alone all day. It was too soon.”
Frustrated with himself, Jensen fends off the hands that are patting him down, looking for the source of his discomfort, as Jared goes into over-protective care-giver mode. “I’m okay. Really. Jared, stop. I’m fine, just...I’m really glad you’re home. That’s all.”
He manages a smile and lets Jared pull him back in for another hug.
The magical bond created by Jared’s ownership of the lamp disappeared when Jensen became human, and he no longer feels the pain of physical separation the way he did as a djinn, but the connection they share as consorts is as strong as ever. Being in Jared’s arms is a balm on his scraped-raw psyche. Also, Jared’s hugs are the best things in the history of the universe. He never wants this one to end.
Jared seems to know what he needs, and maybe he needs it too if the way he’d sprinted onto the porch is anything to go by. In any case, neither of them moves for a long time, simply soaking up each other’s presence. A zombie apocalypse could annihilate the planet and Jensen wouldn’t notice or care, as long as he can stay right here on the porch wrapped up in his consort’s embrace. Yeah, it’s cheesy as hell. So, sue him. See above about the not caring.
Jared’s hand moves soothingly up and down his back. “I’m going to call my family and tell them not to come over for dinner tonight. I’m not ready to share you with them yet. What would you say to a quiet evening in front of the TV, just the two of us?”
The softly spoken words penetrate Jensen’s contended little bubble. He knows why Jared is thinking about canceling his dinner plans with his family, and it’s not because he wants a quiet evening, no matter what he says. It’s because he’s afraid Jensen can’t handle any more stress, and that’s something he absolutely refuses to accept. He won’t be the reason Jared doesn’t get to see his family. Shaking his head against Jared’s collarbone, Jensen says, “No, don’t cancel. I’m fine. You didn’t get to see them last week because of me. They’ll get worried about you if you back out of your weekly dinner twice in a row.”
A huff of breath stirs the hair on top of his head. “Can we sit and talk for a minute? I think there may be an important piece of information you’re missing here.”
Jensen’s gaze is immediately drawn to the car. They seem to have most of their important discussions there. Of course, Jared’s car was totaled in the accident. The car sitting in the driveway is a rental, and Jensen has never been inside it. Has never even gotten close enough to see what color the upholstery is. He can’t. Not yet.
Jared must track his line of sight because he says, “Not in the car, silly. Over here - the porch swing.”
The wooden swing is suspended from two chains attached to an ornate overhang that protects the wide porch from the sporadic rain squalls experienced in Cali. The chains are oiled and in good condition. The swing itself, easily big enough to fit two people, appears to have recently been painted a pristine white. Just like everything else in Jared’s life, it’s obviously well-cared for.
Something with which Jensen has first-hand experience.
Without letting go of each other, they turn as one and sink onto the swing. Jared tucks him close against his chest and Jensen rolls his eyes even as the coziness sends tendrils of happiness through him.
He may never get used to this. He’s always been the one to take care of others, making sure the humans placed within his charge obtained their heart’s desires. Never has anyone bothered themselves with his well-being beyond his ability to grant their wishes. He’s never felt the loving touch of a mother. Genies aren’t born; they’re created. They don’t have parents or family. Friendships among djinn are rare to nonexistent.
He sighs and leans against his consort, feeling the rumble of Jared’s chest when he starts speaking again.
“First of all, my family will understand. They know you’re still convalescing.”
Jensen swallows the spit in his mouth. Gross. When they aren’t in the middle of a serious discussion, he’ll have to remember to ask Jared how humans get used to all the bodily fluids. “Jared, they may understand, but this isn’t about-”
Craning his neck around, Jared silences him with a kiss. “Hmmm, minty,” he hums. “You brushed your teeth again. How many times does that make today? No, never mind; we can talk about that later. What I need you to know right now is that even if they didn’t understand, which they will, it wouldn’t matter. You are my priority. It’s only been a week since you became human. And most of that time has been spent in bed, recovering from a trauma I can’t even begin to comprehend. So, they can wait another week to meet you, even though it may kill Megan. She’s already grilled me for information about you.” Jared grins and nuzzles his ear.
It tickles, making him shiver. “I’m better now, Jared. I can handle it. It’s just dinner,” he wheedles. “If I need a break, I’ll let you know.”
Jared looks pensive, and Jensen gets it. He truly does. This past week has been rough on them both. Today is the first day he’s been able to spend any significant amount of time out of bed without nearly keeling over from exhaustion. His newly formed digestive system is still iffy at best, and he has yet to eat anything other than the blandest of foods. An argument can definitely be made that it’s too soon for him to eat dinner with Jared’s family. The chances of him making a good first impression at the moment aren’t great.
On the other hand, it seems important for Jared to get some semblance of normal back in his life. That’s why Jensen had insisted he go back to work today, even though watching him walk out the door that morning had been like having his insides scrambled all over again.
“Okay, I’ve got a compromise,” Jared says. “I’ll let them know they can come over, but just for dessert.”
Jensen thinks about it. It’s a good compromise. He nods. “Dessert sounds good.”
Jared raises a finger in the air. “And you promise to tell me if they get to be too much for you. They can be a bit overwhelming if you aren’t used to them.”
Jensen smiles at his overprotective consort. “I promise. Now that that’s settled, I have a question for you.”
“I have a feeling I’m going to regret asking this, but what’s your question?”
“How do humans deal with all the bodily fluids?”
The strangest expression settles on Jared’s face, lips pressed tightly together and eyes crinkled at the corners. He stares at Jensen, and his body starts shaking, gently at first, then gradually becoming more forceful until he bursts out laughing. With his face buried in the nape of Jensen’s neck, Jared laughs and laughs.
Huh, he really hadn’t thought the question was that funny. Humans have strange senses of humor.
Megan leads the procession into the house, a foil-covered pan held in front of her. “We brought cherry pie with streusel topping and ice cream,” she beams. “We figured since we only get to have dessert with you tonight we should make it really special.”
Behind her comes Mr. Padalecki, bearing two containers of ice cream. “We weren’t sure what you liked,” he says to Jensen with a shrug. “Seemed like a sure bet you’d like either chocolate or vanilla, right? Everyone likes ice cream.”
Jensen inclines his head. He hasn’t yet tried ice cream, so he’s not sure how to answer the question. The safe bet is to hold off on giving an opinion until he actually has one. Jared has been introducing different food groups to him very slowly, treating his freshly-minted digestive system as he would that of a toddler. They’ve been stuck on vegetables for a while now. According to Jared, there are allergy risks to be concerned about. The fact that he’d gotten violently ill after trying hard-boiled eggs for the first time hadn’t helped matters and, since Jensen has no experience to go on, he figures it’s safest to follow his consort’s guidance. Besides, up until now nothing has really tasted much better than anything else. He couldn’t care less whether he’s eating lima beans or squash. There’s no point in pushing for variety when, thus far, nothing has really piqued his interest.
Mrs. Padalecki gives her husband’s shoulder a little shove as she hurries through the front door after him. “Manners! We haven’t even introduced ourselves yet.” Turning to Jensen, she says, “I’m Sherri and this is my husband, Gerald. My daughter, Megan, is the one who just breezed past you into the kitchen with the pie. You must be Jensen. Jared has already told us a little about you, but he’s been vague on several key points. We’re really looking forward to getting to know you.”
“Mom!” Jared complains good-naturedly. “No interrogations. You promised.”
She blushes and Jared laughs, pulling her into a hug and kissing her cheek.
Jensen knows what Jared has told his family. He’s been privy to the phone calls, and it’s no surprise that they’re curious about him. Who wouldn’t be anxious to find out more about the man who, after only one week, has stolen their son’s affections from a well-known actor on whom he used to have a massive crush?
He smiles and extends a hand to Gerald. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir. I hear from Jared that you’re the guy to go to with tax accounting questions. I sure could use your advice if you don’t mind talking shop.”
Gerald gives his hand a firm shake, looking pleased. “Certainly, certainly. I should probably put this ice cream in the freezer first though.” He walks briskly into the kitchen.
At Jared’s raised eyebrow, Jensen merely smiles sweetly. Charm and finesse are two skills that have served him well during his millennia as a djinn. Many a time has he employed them to sweet-talk his way into the good graces of his more fractious masters. He wants Jared’s parents to like him.
Sherri loops her arm through his and begins leading him into the kitchen. In a conspiratorial whisper, she says, “Now you’ve done it. We’ll be talking about possible tax deductions all through dessert if we don’t think of something else to discuss, quick!”
“Yes, ma’am,” he chuckles. “What about your English students? Did they complete the paper you assigned them? Were there any interesting career choices?” As he and Sherri walk past Jared, Jensen tosses him a wink. Mission charm-the-socks-off-consort’s-parents is well underway.
Thirty minutes and several stories about odd career choices later, they’re all sitting at the table with their desserts in front of them. Jared nudges him and murmurs for his ears only, “Go easy on the ice cream, okay? We don’t know if you’re lactose intolerant yet.”
Jensen nods, eyeing the piece of pie and the scoop of frozen sugar-milk warily. He’d chosen the vanilla ice cream as the safer option. He picks up his fork and pokes experimentally at the golden-brown pie crust. It flakes at his prodding. The cherries inside are a deep red, the filling so dark it’s almost purple. The top layer consists of something that crumbles when he jabs at it with his fork.
From her seat at his left, Sherri interrupts his serious contemplation by asking, “So, we’ve talked about what careers my students are interested in, but you haven’t told us about your career choice yet, Jensen dear. What do you do for a living?”
Jensen looks up to see that everyone has stopped eating to stare at him, as if his answer is of the utmost importance. It’s unfortunate, therefore, that he doesn’t have one. He doesn’t do anything for a living. Currently, he’s sponging off their son, an answer that probably isn’t going to gain him any brownie points.
Jared, sitting on his right, shifts a little closer as if trying to lend him support.
He used to do something very important. Now, he does nothing. His world used to encompass multiple planes of existence. Now, his entire world consists of one person.
His chin wobbles and, mortified, he looks down at his slowly melting ice cream, unable to meet anyone’s eyes. “I guess...I’m still trying to figure that out.”
A hand cradles his cheek. It’s smaller and softer than Jared’s. A mother’s hand, full of an understanding and a compassion he’s never known. Jensen finds himself leaning into the touch, eyes prickling.
“You don’t have to have everything figured out yet,” she says. “I just thought...well, Jared told us you were injured saving his life in that car accident last week. I thought maybe you were a paramedic or a first responder of some kind. But wherever your calling lies, I’m sure you’ll find it. Give yourself some time.”
A tear slips down his cheek and Sherry thumbs it away before moving her hand to take his.
“And also thank you for saving my son.”
There are murmurs of agreement from around the table. Gerald says, “Talk about a lack of manners. Thank you should have been the first thing we said. Jared is a pain in the ass, but we’re all rather fond of him.”
Jensen manages a weak snort. Hazarding a glance around the table, he sees there’s not a single dry eye among them.
Jared rubs his back, silent solace.
This is what family is - people to share the ups and downs, people who care about you, dream with you, celebrate and console you. This is what it feels like not to be alone. His chest tightens.
He has always loved his life as a spiritual being, but...humanity has it’s perks as well.
Megan lifts her fork, a bite of pie and ice cream speared on the tip. “I have some news to share.”
Jensen gives her a watery smile to show his gratitude for the rescue.
She tips her chin at him in acknowledgment. “Here’s to two weeks without a single seizure.” She pops the fork into her mouth and chews a couple times before she seems to realize what she just said, and dropping her fork on her plate, raps quickly on the wooden table. “Knock on wood,” she mumbles sheepishly around her mouthful of pie.
There’s a chorus of subdued laughter, and then, everyone follows suit, raising their pie-laden forks into the air as an impromptu toast.
“To your health,” Jensen says, and carefully places the small morsel into his mouth.
Flavor explodes across his tongue. Warm, tart cherries mingle perfectly with cold, sweet vanilla ice cream. The flakey crust provides a nice crunch and the crumbly topping melts in the back of his throat. Maybe he imagines it, but he swears he can feel the sugar rush immediately, the release of endorphins firing through his synapses.
He takes another bite, quickly followed by another, this one predominantly ice cream. On a groan, his eyes close in ecstasy.
“Go easy there, Romeo.” Jared mutters.
“Do you need a little alone time with your dessert, Jensen?” Megan teases.
Jensen opens his eyes and grins, so delighted he doesn’t even care if he’s making a fool of himself. “This pie is awesome.” He tells the room at large.
Happiness fills him until he feels like he might burst from it. Geez, being human is like being on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s probably the sugar talking, but for the first time since his transformation he really thinks it might be okay. He has Jared and, even though he’s no longer immortal, his life is his to do with as he pleases. He has choices, and the possibilities are endless. He can be and do whatever he wants, Jared by his side.
He looks at his consort, trying to convey everything he feels without words.
“Maybe it’s not alone time with their dessert they need,” Megan snickers.
“Megan!” Gerald chides, voice amused.
Sherri clears her throat daintily. “Where did you two meet anyway?” she asks.
Jared takes his hand and they continue to gaze into each other’s eyes. Together they say, “We met in an antique store.”
The End of the Timestamp 1
A/N: I hope you enjoyed Jensen's insights on what it means to be human. More firsts to come. :) I plan to post weekly timestamps. Wish me luck, it's going to be a challenge.
A/N 2: Comments are cherished.
A/N 3: Anyone else hungry for pie?