timehasa_way: (The Lighthouse J2-Author)
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Chapter Three

“Donna!” It was a couple days later when Jared drove by while Jensen was at work and saw his grandmother heading for the bus stop. He pulled over and called to her, and she stopped and turned towards him. “It’s Jared. You want a ride? I’ll understand if you turn me down,” he teased, knowing she was enjoying her recently regained independence.

Gran smiled so wide, Jared felt his heart lift. “I’ll make an exception for you today.”

“I’m honored,” Jared said, making sure she was properly seated and buckled in before pulling back onto the road. “It’s good to see you.”

“It’s good to hear you,” Gran responded in her own teasing tone, and Jared leaned just enough to give her a nudge with his elbow. “Are you heading to the Lighthouse, too?”

“Yeah, I was gonna stop by for a bit to see everybody, yourself included.”

“Good,” she said, sounding pleased. “Maybe you can help me with something.”

“Of course,” Jared answered. “Anything.”

“You know I’ve been picking up hobbies at the Lighthouse, and I’m getting pretty into knitting. I was thinking I could get your input on something I’m working on.”

Jared raised an eyebrow, curious. “Okay…”

“I’m hoping to make Jensen a hilariously ugly sweater. I think it would be perfect to commemorate how far we’ve come since coming to the Lighthouse.”

“That sounds amazing!” Jared laughed, never expecting such an odd request. “I’d be happy to help. I can tell you exactly which color schemes are awful together.”

Gran chuckled. “I knew I liked you.” She continued before Jared could respond to the compliment. “It seems Jensen does, too.”

Jared faltered, unsure of what to say, his pulse picking up, a blush rising on his cheeks. “Well...I...Yeah, I sure hope so. You’ve raised a wonderful son, Donna.”

“I’m sorry,” she apologized, shaking her head slightly. “I don’t mean to be that old woman meddling in the kids’ business when they’re perfectly capable adults, and I don’t mean to pry. But I’d like to see him happy. And I certainly don’t mind having you around.”

Jared hadn’t expected to feel emotion like this when he’d picked Jensen’s grandmother up, and he briefly rubbed a hand over his chest before focusing again, both hands on the wheel. “First of all, you’re not old,” he said, and she scoffed and reached over to pat his knee, making him smile. He took a deep breath before saying the next few words, finding them heavy, and maybe a little scary, but true. “And I’d like to make him happy. I like him. And you.” He nudged her again, and she laughed.

“You can call me Gran.”


Jared had tried to take his time and play it cool when Gran invited him to dinner, but he still arrived at Jensen’s doorstep within what he assumed was a minute from the time Jensen would have gotten home from work. He knew Gran wasn’t due back for a little while, and he’d thought about being fashionably late and not seeming too eager. But he also knew Jensen’s schedule, and just couldn’t quite wait to see him. He couldn’t even wait through one more deep breath before ringing the doorbell, Jensen’s quizzical look upon opening the door quickly turning to a grin. It made Jared’s heart melt to see Jensen so happy to see him.

“Hi,” Jared said, smiling and ducking his head shyly, lifting the bottle of wine he carried in his hands. “Sorry for showing up unannounced, but Gran insisted that I come over for dinner tonight, and that I keep you company until she gets home.”

“Well, who am I to say no to that?” Jensen chuckled and stepped back to let Jared in, closing the door behind him. “Hey.” He grabbed Jared by the collar before he could go much further and pulled him in for a quick kiss. “Hi. You brought wine.”

“Yeah,” Jared breathed, looking down at him, suddenly distracted. “Uh, yeah.” He shook his head a bit. “It, uh, should be chilled.”

“I’ll take care of that.” Jensen took the bottle and gestured to the house as he walked back towards the kitchen. “I’ll give you a tour.”

Jared looked around, taking in the warm tones, the rooms not cluttered but cozy, inviting furniture and pictures on the walls. He stopped almost immediately when he saw Jensen’s old graduation pictures on the wall. “Look at you!”

Jensen had disappeared into the kitchen, but came back in a moment, rolling his eyes and lightly punching Jared on the arm. “Yeah, you get to see those old things.”

“You’re so cute,” Jared teased, and laughed when Jensen punched him again. “I’m serious, though,” he said, more subdued. “These are great. I mean, the whole place...it’s nice, how you support each other. It really feels like a home.”

“Thank you,” Jensen said softly, rubbing at the back of his neck. “While we’re strolling down memory lane, I guess we can get upstairs over with.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Your old room?”

Jensen nodded. “I was out on my own before, when I was with my ex. I moved back when we broke up, and Gran needed me. She hadn’t touched my old room, and I stayed in the guest room, thinking this would be temporary. And maybe it is, I don’t know yet.” He hesitated, then grabbed Jared’s hand. “Come on.”

Jared’s heart fluttered a bit. For all Jensen said about not getting attached to people, this was something very personal. He held onto Jensen’s hand as they went up the stairs and followed him to the first door on the right.

Walking in, Jared almost felt like he was trespassing, but Jensen was right behind him, allowing him in. He looked around, quietly taking in this part of Jensen’s youth. His eyes scanned the room, taking in the deep green sheets on the bed, the old wooden drawers and shelves. He walked towards some old pictures and felt the room go a bit tense.

“You were a jock?” he asked, not unkindly, as he noticed a picture of a young Jensen on a school football team.

“Yeah,” Jensen answered, his nerves evident in his voice. “Not much of one, but...for a little while.”

Jared moved on, his eyes widening a little when he saw all of Jensen’s accolades; honors and high academic achievements. He felt an unexpected emotion when he saw Jensen’s old adoption certificate in a frame. “Wow.”

“What?” Jensen’s tone was a bit defensive, and Jared turned towards him.

“I don’t know, I just didn’t expect…”

Jensen’s expression changed to something Jared had never seen before, a bit offended and a bit challenging. “You didn’t expect me to be so normal? Successful? Not some kind of problem child?”

“What? No!” Jared stuttered for a moment, taken aback and wishing he would have paid more attention to his reactions. The last thing he wanted to do was be offensive. “No, Jensen, please, that’s not what I meant at all. I’m not surprised by the kind of person you were, and are, just that you’re not afraid to show it.” He realized that came out wrong, too, and struggled to fix it. “I just mean that most kids feel like they shouldn’t be proud of these things, because it isn’t cool, and you…” he looks back at the shelves, and then back at Jensen, “You put them on display. You’re...amazing.”

Jensen’s expression softened, and then he looked away, ashamed. “Maybe not that amazing. And maybe not that confident, considering my reaction. I’m sorry.” He stepped forward and took Jared’s hand. “It’s just that people have all of these misperceptions. They think of kids who were adopted as being difficult, and having all of these issues, and not being grateful. It’s why a lot of kids aren’t adopted. It’s why I’m so lucky.”

Jared squeezed his hand and spoke slowly, carefully. “Did you ever struggle with it?”

“No.” Jensen shook his head and sighed. “I mean, not in that way. I was old enough that it wasn’t a secret that I was adopted, so I didn’t go through any sort of crisis finding out. I didn’t really feel the need to find out more about my biological parents, or anything.” He shrugged. “I was home. It felt right. Some kids were mean about it, and it hurt, but not enough to change that. She wanted me. She saved me. What could ever be wrong with that?” Jared took a breath to speak and then hesitated, and Jensen looked at him curiously. “What?”

Jared swallowed the three words he’d almost blurted out right then and there. He sighed. “I’m afraid it might be too soon to say it.”

Realization dawned in Jensen’s eyes, and he looked away, shaking his head. “Don’t. Not because it isn’t mutual,” he added hastily. He looked at Jared, around the room, and gestured to it all, shaking his head again. “All of this...I don’t want you thinking that I’m…perfect. I mean, yeah, I’m not everyone’s stereotypical view of an adopted child, but I’m not a saint. I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“I know you’re not perfect,” Jared said, his heart breaking a little at Jensen’s self-doubt. “Are you kidding me?” He smiled, trying to lighten the mood. “Are you forgetting I saw you that first day at the Lighthouse?” To his relief, Jensen laughed a bit, flushing in embarrassment at the memory. “Man, you had a lot to learn. Still do, maybe.”

Definitely,” Jensen agreed, laughing again.

Jared cleared his throat, his heart pounding, wondering if he was about to cross a serious line. “Do you really think you disappointed your ex by wanting to spend more time with Gran, and take care of her?” He felt an unexpected surge of anger at the dejected look on Jensen’s face, and his tone grew hard. “Because even if you did, then that’s his problem. Anybody who would be disappointed in you for that reason is a selfish prick who isn’t worth your time.”

Jensen looked up, eyebrows raised a bit in surprise at Jared’s reaction. “It’s like I said, I wasn’t as invested as he was.”

“For good reason,” Jared snapped, then calmed himself and cleared his throat again. “I’m just saying, I wouldn’t complain that you weren’t devoted enough to me if you were taking care of a loved one. Hell, I’d offer to help.”

“I know,” Jensen said, after a pause, smiling a little. “You’ve done that already.”

The sound of the door opening and closing downstairs broke the moment between them, and Gran called out for them. “We’re here!” Jensen answered, heading for the stairs, Jared close behind him.

“Oh.” Gran stopped, completely still just in front of the door. “You were upstairs? Should I leave and give you more time?”

Jensen felt a puff of air as Jared chuckled behind him and smiled, even as he ran a hand over his face. “No, for God’s sake, Gran.”

“Don’t be silly,” Jared added, his tone cheeky as he grinned at Jensen. “I wouldn’t defile your son in your own home.”

Gran stepped towards Jared and reached out and up, patting his cheek. “I knew I liked you.”

Jensen rolled his eyes. “Can we all please stop talking about my sex life, or at least have dinner first?”

Gran rolled her eyes, too. “Tell me, Jared, how did I raise such a prude?”

“Hey,” Jared held his hands up and laughed. “I’m not getting in the middle of this. What I will say, is that your home is beautiful, Gran.”

The name slipped out easily, but Jared saw Jensen’s head jerk towards him, eyes going a bit wide, and he realized that Jensen didn’t know that he and Gran were already on those terms. Jared didn’t fully hear Gran’s response to his comment as he first ducked his head under Jensen’s gaze, then tilted it towards Gran, indicating that she’d allowed him to use the name. He looked back at Jensen, silently asking permission. Though it was Gran’s name to give, using it still felt like stepping onto Jensen’s territory; Jensen had been the only one to use it all these years, and he was chosen for it as the sole reason it existed.

He could sense Jensen’s hesitation and see the confusion there. He could see Jensen trying to tell himself that it was just a name, but warring with the personal significance of it. Jared realized that Jensen’s ex must have never used it. But then, given what he’d heard, Gran probably wouldn’t have offered it to begin with. They’d shared a lot already, but this was one thing that Jensen had never had to share with anyone else before. And Jared would respect it, if Jensen wasn’t ready to share it just yet.

“Boys? Sorry, I know I’m blind, but have you both gone deaf?? Follow me into the kitchen.”

The two of them snapped to attention and apologized, but Jared still looked back to Jensen for a response. Jensen’s expression and his hand on Jared’s shoulder said that Jared could use the name for now, but that they’d talk about it later. And Jared didn’t mind that at all.


Jensen sat at the table knowing he should feel happy, and part of him did. But part of him was still reeling from Jared’s use of Gran’s name, which she’d apparently given him permission to do. He knew he was being childish, and he kept telling himself that, but he couldn’t help the odd feeling of betrayal, that the two of them had agreed to this behind his back. Here he was, thinking he was sharing something special in his childhood room with Jared and building on their relationship on his own, when they’d already taken an even bigger step that he hadn’t even thought about yet.

He told himself it was stupid. He told himself that he was a grown man, and that Gran was a grown woman, and that he didn’t own her or her name. He sat there, watching the two of them bond and crack themselves up over their glasses of wine, his own mind a bit sluggish from it, and he tried to genuinely laugh with them. He knew it should be a beautiful sight to see, that someone he actually likes is actually liked by Gran and vice versa. Instead, he felt a lump growing in his throat, because he saw that things were changing; that someone else was becoming just as important as he was. In that moment, he couldn’t see it as growing strong family bonds. He could only see it as Jared pulling energy away from his own bond with Gran, making it weaker. He took another sip of wine, swallowing hard. All that time with his ex, this was all he’d wanted, and now here it was, and he couldn’t handle it.

“You’re quiet.” Gran’s voice broke into his thoughts as she turned towards him. Jared looked at him, too, managing to look concerned even through the haze of the wine.

“Sorry,” Jensen mumbled, taking another sip. “Just tired, from the wine.” He’d stopped looking at Jared, and continued looking away when Jared spoke.

“Maybe I should go.” Jared pushed his chair back from the table and stood carefully.

There was a pause, and Jensen could tell that Gran knew something was wrong. “But didn’t you drive here?” she asked Jared, ignoring the problem for the moment. “I don’t think you’re in any condition to drive back.”

“I can call-”

“You’re not calling a cab,” Gran said, cutting him off. “Or Uber, or any of that. We always open our home to anybody who can’t walk out of here on their own. Isn’t that right, Jensen?”

Jensen tried his best to sound positive and not just sit there and sulk. “That’s right.”

“Well, thank you, so much. I really do appreciate it. And I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have come here and then had too much to drink, that was stupid of me.” Jared’s hand was over his heart and everything, and Jensen mentally cursed him for being so sincere.

“Nonsense!” Gran chided. “You came over, and you had a good time! That’s what we were hoping for. You can sleep wherever you like; either in one of the bedrooms or on the couch. Wherever you’re most comfortable.”

“Thank you,” Jared said again, then was even more annoyingly polite. “I promise I’ll help clean up.”

Gran waved him off. “In the morning.” She pushed her own chair back and stood up, just a bit shaky. “We’re all a little tired and a little drunk right now. I usually don’t leave dirty dishes out, but this is a special occasion. Thank you for coming, and for bringing the wine. You let me know if you need anything at all.”

She took her time walking away, resting her hand over Jensen’s on the table as she passed his seat. Which Jensen then realized was just to help her gauge where his head would be so she could lightly slap it as she left; her own way of telling him to get it together. Jensen bristled and continued not looking at Jared, staring at his now empty wine glass.

“I’m sorry,” Jared said quietly, once Gran was out of earshot. “I didn’t realize we hadn’t talked about it. And if you want me stop, it’s fine. I totally get it.”

“Aw, but she wants you to use it,” Jensen spat, and even he was annoyed by how much he sounded like a petulant child.

Jared took a moment before responding, and Jensen could tell that he was irritated now. “Look, I know what Gran-” Jensen tensed, his jaw clenching, “what Donna said. But if you want me to go, I’ll go.”

Jensen scoffed. “Sure. Then I get to be the asshole who gets slapped again in the morning.” He pushed his glass away, watched it teeter and then settle, and stood up, finally looking at Jared and seeing red along with him. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked, and Jared stepped back, looking quizzical but offended, like he might finally actually get mad. “I mean, really, what is wrong with you? You show up, all smiles and sunshine, you win everybody over, you volunteer your time at the Lighthouse, fucking pillar of the community. You teach people how to be more empathetic, you offer them rides, you do nothing but see the good in everybody, and you bring wine and become a hit at the family dinner! Is there anything about you that isn’t so fucking perfect?”

Jared’s nostrils flared, and his eyes narrowed, even as he looked hurt, which Jensen tried his best to ignore. “I never said I was perfect.”

“Oh, come on,” Jensen bent over in exaggeration with the emphasis, then stepped towards Jared. “This can’t all be real. Something’s gotta give, I mean, when’s the other shoe gonna drop, Jared? Huh? What are you hiding, that you gotta walk around and be so overly nice to everybody all the time, huh?”

“What, so you’re saying I’m fake now?” Jared shook his head in disbelief. “Are you even listening to yourself right now? You’re literally arguing with me about how much you fucking like me.”

“Oh, right,” Jensen laughed meanly. “It’s all about how much I like you, because everybody likes you, don’t they, Jared? You know what, maybe that’s it! Maybe that’s your flaw. It’s not that you’re fake. It’s just that you’re desperate for approval after how much your grandfather fucked you up!”

Jensen felt that bomb drop as he said it, but he didn’t have enough control to stop it. The room went quiet and ice cold, with Jared staring daggers at him.

“You have no right,” Jared said quietly, and Jensen felt the words, the shake in Jared’s voice, tearing him up. He’d almost hoped that Jared would scream at him, that they would both let loose, but this was worse. “You have no right to talk about him like that. You didn’t even know him.” Jared’s voice broke, and he took a breath as Jensen stared at his feet. “I don’t know what to tell you, Jensen. I don’t know how to satisfy you by telling you what’s wrong with me.” He was crying now, and Jensen’s anger was quickly turning to shame and regret. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am desperate for approval. I’m desperate, and I’m easy, just latching on to guys like you and letting you fuck me.”

“Don’t say that,” Jensen whispered, his voice hoarse. He knew he’d started this, but suddenly the anger and jealousy that had taken hold of him were broken. Even if he did still feel those things, he couldn’t think about the night at the hotel in that way. It was still a highlight for him, one of the best nights of his life, and he didn’t want it tarnished. But he knew it was his fault, if it was. He’d brought this on himself, all because he couldn’t help being a spoiled child. “Please don’t say that. I didn’t just take advantage of you. It meant something.”

“Really?” Jared pressed, his hands flying out to his sides before slapping back down against his legs. “So you didn’t just want me around to make you feel good until I got too close? You didn’t want to use me and then tell me to back off when I started to benefit from this relationship, too? If it meant something, then why are we even having this conversation?”

“I fucked up,” Jensen said, and he knew it was a pathetic answer. “I don’t know, I’m sorry, I fucked up. I shouldn’t have said…any of what I just said.” He gestured around them vaguely. “And I can’t erase it now. I know that. And I’m sorry. I wish I could.”

Jared shook his head again, turning away, and Jensen felt dread settle in his stomach, wondering if he’d just completely ruined the best thing that had happened to him in years.

“Whatever, man. I’ll call a cab.”

“No, don’t!” Jensen pleaded, grabbing Jared’s arm before he could walk away. Jared jerked it back.

“Why? Because you’ll get in trouble if I do?”

“No.” Jensen tried to swallow, to breathe. He tried not to be as desperate as he’d accused Jared of being and panic. “Just please don’t leave like this. I know it’s my fault, and I started it, but please don’t leave like this.” His own voice broke, and he blinked, wondering when he’d even last cried. “I don’t know if I can ever fix this, but please don’t leave drunk, and angry, and upset. Just...please, stay here for the night, and safe. Just overnight. Take the bed in my old room. Sleep wherever you want. Just don’t leave tonight.”

They stood there for a long time before Jared sagged a little, finally relenting. “Alright. Alright, I’ll stay.”

Chapter Four
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