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Title: To Say the Words on the Tips of Our Tongues
Author: [ profile] serotonin_storm
Fandom: CWRPS
Rating: R
Character/Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Word Count: 3600 words
Warnings: None.
Summary: The trip would take thirty-six hours, more or less, if they did it right. Point A to B.
Notes: An [ profile] spn_j2_xmas present for [ profile] sunnny. Sorry it's so horrendously late, and I hope you enjoy it!

Jensen is a social smoker. He finds the act, the thought of smoking fascinating, likes to imagine his lungs filling slowly with tendrils of smoke that drift higher and higher and snake up the back of his throat, pushing against the cage of his teeth until he opens up and grants them passage.

The smoke waves through the icy night air and dances with the cloud of Jensen's breath. Jensen stubs the cigarette out against the brick wall, ashes crumbling, and rubs his hands together brusquely, blows warm breath onto cool skin. He misses Texas, feels ill-suited to Canadian winters even as Jared's taken to them.

“You'll get cancer,” comes Jared's voice, speak of the devil. Jensen turns, dropping the stub and grinding it under the sole of his boot unnecessarily, hiding it away. Jared is smiling at him, textbooks tucked under one arm and hat pulled down an inch too far. Jensen smirks, sharp and brittle.

“Not with you around to mother-hen.”

With a roll of his eyes, Jared throws an arm around his neck and brings him forward, pulling Jensen with him like he's caught in a riptide, captive.

“Sorry my class ran late,” he says. “Come on. We're behind schedule.”

The first hotel is just outside Vancouver. The building is squat and made of brick, the flickering sign casting the parking lot in ever-moving shadows as they pull up to the front office. “Looks just like the ones we used to stay at when we were kids,” Jared says with a wicked grin.

They come to a stop, and he pulls the parking break. Jensen rolls his eyes and chews at his thumbnail, stubbornly silent, and after a moment Jared slaps a palm against the steering wheel, pushes the door open, and disappears inside the building. He's smiling when he ambles back out, holding out the room key and waving it.

Their room seems unnecessarily far away from any of the parking spaces. The light stutters for a moment when Jared first lets them in and flips the switch, but it recovers valiantly. Jensen drops his duffel bag by the door, averting his eyes from beds pushed so closely together you could just—reach out and touch the person in the one next to yours. If you wanted.

He says, “I think we need to go get another room.”

Jared turns, affronted, mouth tilted down. “What? No, man. That's half the fun! Sharing like we used to.”

“Jared—” He looks around the room, at its avocado green wallpaper and scuffed, mismatched dressers, and says, “Jared, you used to be normal-sized. You're gonna take up more than your half now. I'm not getting my money's worth, here, you yeti.”

“Don't pretend you don't want to be surrounded by my awesome. I'll pay for your share, just so you can enjoy the experience.”

He makes a scornful face without meaning to, remembering in vivid detail every night he'd stayed over Jared's apartment that Jared had had to pull himself out of bed at midnight or later to go scrape together a few extra dollars at McDonald's, or the dry cleaners, or Wal-Mart. Jared's lips twitch with a held-back laugh at his expression as he takes a seat on the bed closest to the bathroom. “Fine,” he relents. “You pay for your own share. But—here. In this room.”

Jensen can feel like argument slipping through his fingers, sliding away like sand. “You're being unreasonable. It's not even important.”

“I know,” Jared says, lying back and folding his hands behind his head. “So. Takeout?”

The delivery man is bundled up so tightly that he fumbles the pizza when he goes to hand them the box. He laughs nervously, but Jared's cheerful smile seems to reassure him, or maybe just the ten dollar tip. Jensen slides the box onto the small, round table nestled in the corner of the room, and Jared flops down onto one of the chairs and opens it, takes out a slice.

There's a bottle of tequila hidden in Jensen's bag, and they pass it back and forth. “Remember the first time you got trashed?” says Jared. “Remember—christ, you fell down the stairs, man. Thought you cracked your head open.”

“Ain't funny,” Jensen mutters. “Don't remember anyway, so fuck you.”

Jared nods sagely. “I hear that can happen with head injuries.”

They lapse into silence, just the sloshing of the alcohol inside of the bottle as it switches hands. Jared nudges Jensen's calf with the toe of his boot suddenly. “So how is—Daniel?”

“Danneel,” Jensen corrects.

Jared pulls a face. “Is that a girl, a guy, or an amoeba?”

“A girl,” he says. Then, “We, uh. We broke up.”

“What? Why? I never even got to meet this one.”

Jensen's cheeks are flushed; he can feel it, a slow burn. “You know why,” he says.

Jared gapes for a moment, stunned like Jensen just socked him in the jaw—maybe he might as well have—and then he purses his lips, gives the tabletop a nod, and takes another sip of tequila, grimacing. “Yeah,” he says. “I guess I do.”

“I never meant to—” Jared starts, slurring over the drone of the television.

“Shut the fuck up, Jared,” he says. Jared does.

The hotel's curtains aren't dark enough to blot out the glare of sun on freshly fallen snow, and it wakes Jensen early. The coffee he makes is weak and tastes undeniably cheap, but he chokes it down gratefully, rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand. He stifles a yawn, glancing over at the sleeping lump of Jared in the second bed, whose hair is tousled wildly, the tips of his toes showing.

Jensen remembers when their families would go on trips together when they were young, how particular Jared had been about who he'd share a bed with. With Josh or Jeff, he'd toss and kick, almost spiteful about it, so much so that they'd both point-blank refused to share eventually. With Jensen, he was always still.

There's a soft groan from Jared's bed, and Jensen watches him stretch like a cat, long limbs everywhere at once. He smiles when he spots Jensen watching him, and Jensen ducks his head, feeling caught out.

“Coffee?” Jared says, giving Jensen's cup a pointed look, and Jensen nods and turns to make him one of his own.

The trip would take thirty-six hours, more or less, if they did it right. Point A to B. Jared, though, has never done anything the straightforward way in his life, and they barely make it over the border the first day. They zig left and zag right, hopping from diner to museum to park. “If we keep going like this,” Jensen tells him, “we won't make it home till next year,” and Jared just laughs and reaches for the map again.

They cross through Idaho and Utah, then backtrack to Nevada despite Jensen's many and insistent protests. Jared runs out of clean clothes three days in, which is hardly surprising; energetic and impatient, Jared has always been a poor planner.

“That's what I have you for, man,” he'll always say, and Jensen will pretend it isn't exactly what he wants to hear.

“Aren't you gonna separate your colors and your whites?”

Jared bundles up a t-shirt and tosses it into the washing machine. “I couldn't do that to them. That would be cruel. Besides, I didn't do it to the last load and it's fine.”

“Shove over,” Jensen says, hip-checking Jared, which feels more like throwing himself against a brick wall than anything else. He wonders when Jared found the time to bulk up like this with a full course load. Jensen can barely clear his schedule enough to tie his shoes in the morning.

“How does this shit even fit you anymore?” he mutters, pulling a threadbare white wife-beater out of the bag. “And how many times did you wear this pair of boxers? They're rank.”

Jared heaves himself onto one of the free machines. It groans with the weight. “You wanna sniff 'em, sweetheart? Go right ahead.”

“Suck my cock,” Jensen says. He rolls his eyes and pushes down the washer lid. It clangs shut hollowly. “Quarters?”

Jared hands him four. They're warm from sitting nestled in his palm, and Jensen rolls them in his hand for a moment before depositing them into the machine.

“So what do you wanna do while we wait?” Jared asks, kicking a foot against the washer. “There's a bar across the street.”

“We can't just leave our clothes,” Jensen says, frowning.

“Who the fuck is gonna want to steal your sweaty gym socks, Jensen?”

“Homeless people? Punks?”

Jared shakes his head. When he jumps down from the machine, his boots scuff against the linoleum. “Punks? You are so epically lame. I can't associate with you anymore now that you've said that, old man.”

“Whatever, just—” He looks at his favorite sweatshirt tumbling around in the drier, defenseless. “It's not a good idea. I like my clothes.”

“You stole half of them from me,” Jared says, and Jensen feels a jolt of embarrassment.

“I did not.”

Jared steps up close, toe to toe with him. He plucks at Jensen's shirt—and is it Jared's? Maybe it is; he can't remember. Jensen's skin breaks out in goosebumps, and he steps to the side, shaking his head sharply.

“Fine, you and your ADHD win. Let's go.”

Jared smiles triumphantly, ushering him out the door.

Jensen commandeers a table at the back of the room while Jared orders them a couple of beers at the bar. The place is dully lit, and Jensen finds himself squinting as he slides into a booth, wishing he'd thought to bring along his glasses.

Jared takes his time. He's chatting with the bartender, returning her wide, white smile, leaning closer as she hands him the beer to tweak her crooked name tag. Jensen bites his tongue, listening to her laugh over the low throb of the music.

He feels clammy and stupidly wounded, but no matter how many times he tries to look away, he finds his eyes dragged back to the sight of Jared and this girl flirting. It fills him with something out of control, bubbling up and scratching at the backs of his eyes.

So when someone clears her throat out of his line of sight, he turns with a too-friendly smile readily in place. The girl looks taken aback at the sight of him, her pretty blue eyes edged with a soft, nervous panic, and then, swallowing, she says, “Hey, how are you? I'm Anne.”

Jared is leaning against the bar waiting for the bartender to finish up with someone else's drink when Jensen comes up to him a half hour later. Jensen claps him on the shoulder and squeezes. “Hey, man, I just got invited out for coffee. Could you maybe switch over my laundry for me?”

Jared's eyes widen with surprise, like he hadn't thought abandoning Jensen to talk with a beautiful girl would end this way, like he'd just expected Jensen to wait around for him, like always. It makes Jensen feel spiteful, and he turns and throws Anne a grin over his shoulder.

“Um,” Jared says, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallows hard. “Sure. I mean—you're sure, right?”

He nods. “Yeah. That's okay, isn't it?”

“Oh, yeah, dude, of course,” says Jared, too quick. His smirk looks insincere and out of place. “Just remember—don't be a fool: wrap your tool.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jensen says. “So I'll see you back at the hotel?”

“See you,” Jared echoes, and this time when the bartender walks up, his smile droops around the edges.

It's past midnight when Anne drops him back off at the hotel. The streetlight by their room is out, and Jensen fumbles the key a few times before he gets the door open, taking a last drag of his cigarette and then crouching down to put it out against the sidewalk.

The room is pitch-black. He trips over the laundry baskets trying to get to his bed without waking Jared up, but when his eyes finally adjust, he realizes the room is empty. He mutters, “Shit,” a discontented feeling sloshing around in his belly, and flips on the television to wait.

It isn't until almost four that he hears the slamming of a car door, and then Jared stumbles in, steps heavy and too loud. Jensen can tell what's going on before Jared even manages to get the light on.

“Jesus, are you trashed? We have to drive tomorrow!”

Jared's head comes up at Jensen's voice, and his eyes light up in a way that makes Jensen feel uncomfortable and cut open. “Hey! Jen!”

A hot wave crashes over Jensen suddenly, and he blurts, “Did you—did you fucking drive here, Jared?”

Jared sways a little on his feet, hopping as he pulls off a boot. He shakes his head. “Got a, uh, got a ride.”

“Who with?” he demands. “That girl?”

Jared starts on his buttons, fumbling like his fingers are too big, which they very well might be. He mumbles, “What do you care?” under his breath and Jensen grits his teeth.

“You're such a little shit sometimes,” he says.

Movements angry, Jared shrugs the shirt off. “At least I don't fucking—change my mind.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You weren't supposed to just—” He gestures, too wide, and tips. “—get over me, you know? You weren't.”

Jensen feels dizzy with how angry he is, words caught in his throat like selfish little fuck and leave. Wants to leave himself. But he can see how destroyed Jared is, how he can barely stay on his feet, and he knows he can't just leave him here on his own. Instead he rubs a hand over his face, weary, and stands.

“I'm gonna use the bathroom.” Jared reaches out for him as he walks past, fingers skating over his cheek, and Jensen pushes his hand away. “Go the fuck to sleep, Jared,” he says.

He tries not to slam the door behind him, but the soft click sounds just as final.

In the morning, Jared's eyes are bloodshot and his voice is wrecked. He tries to apologize as they walk to the bar to pick up the car, says, “Jensen,” and “Sorry,” and “Didn't mean it.”

“It's fine,” Jensen says, stuffing his hands into his pockets and looking away. “Never happened.”

If anything, Jared only looks guiltier.

The rest of the trip is quiet and tense. It rains, a steady, heavy pattern against the roof of the car. Jensen chews on his thumbnail as Jared drives, twists it with his teeth, and Jared looks over like he'd like to say something teasing, but he keeps his mouth shut. When they stop for gas, he gets out without a word, despite that the agreement had been that the passenger pumped. He tosses Jensen a Pepsi when he ducks back in, hair plastered wetly to his forehead.

The sun has finally started to peek out when they pull into the driveway of Jared's parents' home. Jared turns the key and meets Jensen's gaze, and it hits Jensen that Jared has been avoiding his eyes all day.

He clears his throat. “Hey, you know. Don't worry about it, seriously.”

Jared's expression twists with something like frustration. “You don't get it.”

“Don't get what?”

Jared opens his mouth like he wants to say something, but then the front door bursts open and Megan runs out, and Jared looks away and swallows. “Look, nothing. Never mind. We'll talk about it later.”

And then they're caught up in the bustle of family excitement, and Jensen tries to forget.

Mr Padalecki starts up the grill out back, Jensen's father chattering tips at him that he certainly doesn't need. Jensen is chilled in the breeze, and he shoves his hands into the waistband of his jeans for warmth.

“How are your classes, Jensen?” his mother asks, as if she doesn't talk to him every week. She tucks herself into his side, and he puts an arm around her slender shoulders.

“Good,” he says. “Hard to keep up sometimes, though.”

“And how is Jared? Sherri's always worrying he's going to run out of clean socks and lose a toe to frostbite.”

He starts to say, “Jared's fine too.” Perfectly normal, but somehow it comes out all wrong, garbled and injured, and his mother looks up sharply, craning her head back to see his face.

“Are you two fighting again?”

He shakes his head. “No.”

She doesn't look like she believes him, but instead of pushing the issue, she snakes an arm around his waist and squeezes. “Come inside now, before you get windburn,” she says, “I raised you with the sense to wear a jacket,” and Jensen follows her back into the kitchen.

“It's good to have you boys home,” Sherri says at dinner that night.

“Good to be here, mama,” Jared says. Jensen knows he means it, knows he misses them all. He'd gone up to Canada because of Jensen, and sometimes Jensen forgets that.

“You been keeping warm enough?” Sherri asks. Out of the corner of his eye, Jensen can see his mother trying not to laugh.

“Jared generates enough body heat for all of Vancouver,” says Jensen, teasing, and for a moment, Jared looks surprised, but he covers it with a smirk.

“You know you're just jealous I'm bigger and better looking than you.”

“Ain't bigger than me,” his brother Jeff cuts in.

“I could totally take you,” Jared says, puffing out his chest, and it ends in a squabble, Jeff's face pressed into Jared's armpit, half the mashed potatoes on the floor.

Jensen puts on a movie in the family room after night falls. Mackenzie and Megan sit next to him on the couch, poking and prodding, asking questions about college life that he doesn't feel are appropriate, because to him they'll always be eleven with their hair in pigtail braids, even if Megan has nearly graduated high school and Mackenzie is going to Texas State. Jared sits on the couch next to them after a while, but he keeps his eyes on the Christmas cartoon that's playing, like he's not sure if he's welcome to join the conversation.

Megan turns to her brother, goofy smile so much like his that Jensen has to blink. “And do you have any girlfriends I should know about, huh?” she asks.

There's a moment of silence, Jared's eyes trained on him, and then Jensen gives him a smile, reassurance, and Jared cracks a grin, winks at Megan, and laughs. “You know you're my favorite girl in the world, don't be jealous,” he says, launching himself at her and tickling until she giggles helplessly. “I'll never surrender!” she shrieks, and Mac and Jensen gang up on Jared to get her free, the girls eventually managing to steal the couch entirely.

Jared and Jensen sprawl out on the floor after everyone else has gone to bed, side by side, just a little less tense than they have been since this whole trip started. Jared turns his head and grins. “So where's my present?” he asks.

“I didn't get you anything, bitch,” Jensen says. “What do you think we are, friends?”

Jared rolls over in one swift move, bracketing his arms on either side of Jensen's head. “Better be,” he says, breathes it into Jensen's skin like poetry, and Jensen stares up at him, a deer caught in headlights.

“What the fuck are you doing?” he hisses. Jared huffs out a breath, hot against Jensen's cheek.

“Jensen, when I—when I said I didn't want—”

He rolls away so fast he knocks Jared's arm out from under him, and Jared falls to the ground with an umph, all the air knocked out of him. “We don't need to talk about this, Jared.”

“Yes, we do,” Jared insists, his mouth flat. “We do. Look, Jensen, I was wrong, okay? I thought I was gonna be with Sandy forever, and I was wrong about that too.”

“That doesn't mean anything,” Jensen says.

“Yes, it does!” Jared's voice is too loud. He leans back in, head tucked against Jensen's shirt, like he's trying to muffle it. Jensen's breath comes shallowly. “I means you were right and I was wrong, just like always. I know you like that.”

He turns his cheek, looking up from under his lashes, and somehow they slipslide together, Jared's lips slotting between Jensen's. Jared shifts, his weight pressing Jensen into the floor. His tongue tickles Jensen's lower lip.

“Fuck,” Jensen gasps, breaking the kiss. “We can't do this here, are you insane?”

“So we can do it period?” Jared asks. He sounds so damned hopeful, and Jensen shuts his eyes, takes a deep breath.

“Don't—don't fuck me over, okay?” he says, and Jared nods against him, nose pressing against the crook of his neck.

“Won't,” he promises. Jensen surges up to meet him again.

They leave the day after New Year's, trunk packed full of presents and extra socks from Jared's mom. Jared throws an arm over Jensen's seat as he backs out of the driveway, and he leaves it there, fingers stroking over Jensen's short-cropped hair.

“So I wanna stop at at least fifteen diners between here and Canada,” he says, his grin toothy and bright when he glances over at Jensen.

Jensen just closes his eyes and laughs. Content.
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