audrarose: (Default)
Well, I obviously need to have the concept of 'datestamps' explained to me, because after rocking through the first few prompts, I stalled out trying to make the rest of them actual fics instead of little glimpses. It is very vexing. (x-posted nowhere, b/c I'm not sure what I think of these. If you hate them, just pretend they didn't happen, 'kay? :D )

Original story here

So Close, a year and a half before (931 words) -- the first time J, J and J hang out without the Rosenbaums present, for [ profile] lomedet

"How sick is 'sick'?" Jared asked. He stepped off the curb as the light changed.

"Oh, we're definitely into flu territory," Mike said. He sounded harried, even over the phone. "I think Tyler's vomited his weight. It's grim."

"You replacing fluids?" Jared asked automatically.

"Well, obviously, but there's still no way we're going to make it out today."

Jared looked up at the building in front of him, wondered which apartment was Jensen and Jonah's. "Couldn't you have called me earlier?" he complained. "I'm in front of their building already."

"So go without us. What's the big deal?" Mike asked, distracted.

"Other than the fact that I hardly know these people?"

"Setting aside the fact that Jonah was your patient -- you've seen Jensen at my place how many times now?"

"Once," Jared said, feeling put upon. "With ten other people and the Super Bowl in the background. And taking a three year-old to lunch doesn't sound like a fun way to spend my day off. No offense."

"For God's sake, Jay, I'm dealing with Exorcist out-takes here; I can't feel too sorry for you at the moment, you know?" Mike paused for breath, and then continued in a calmer tone. "You saved his kid's life. Just let him take you to lunch, okay? Jensen's a good guy."

"Yeah, I know he's a good guy," Jared said, looking past Jensen's building and down the Harbor Steps to the water. In fact, Jensen seemed like a really good guy; Jared had decided that about two minutes into the pre-op consultation before Jonah's surgery. At that point, Jared had also noticed that Jensen was pretty much a drop-dead-gorgeous guy, too.

Not to mention a straight guy.

"I'll go up and tell him Tyler's sick, so you and Erica have to re-schedule," Jared said. "And we'll just do it another time, okay?"

Mike let out a breath. "Yeah, fine, whatever you want. Just be nice."

"I'm always nice."

Jared rehearsed his excuse in the elevator, but the words went out of his head when he saw Jensen, in worn jeans and a thin blue sweater, waiting for him in the open doorway of his apartment.

Oh, yeah. Drop-dead, fall-down-and-die gorgeous, Jared thought.

"Mike can't make it," Jared said, abruptly.

"Yeah, I just got off the phone with him. Poor Tyler," Jensen said. He stepped back so Jared could walk into the living room. "We're almost ready -- Jonah's looking for his Seahawks cap. Want to sit down for a second? Can I get you a coke? I think I have one somewhere -- it's either that or a juice box..."

Mike had obviously not run interference. Jared wasn't at all surprised.

"No, I'm good," he said, and paused awkwardly in the middle of the living room. "I was thinking, though... since Mike and Erica can't make it -- do you want to do this another time?"

"Are you kidding?" Jensen laughed, heading toward the kitchen. "I've got a three-year-old who thinks he's going to the carousel; I'd be paying for that disappointment in attitude for the rest of the day." Jensen stopped short, then turned to Jared, sudden realization dawning on his face. "But... you know if you'd rather not spend the day by the docks and going to Magic Mouse..."

Jared smiled weakly over the sudden stab of guilt in his chest. "Magic Mouse?"

Jensen scrubbed a hand through his hair, the gesture somehow adorably awkward. "It's this specialty toy store, near Pioneer Square... hey, buddy." He turned to his son, who had apparently found his Seahawks cap, and had rocketed into the room to grab his Dad's legs. He looked up at Jared shyly. "Do you remember Dr. Padalecki?" Jensen asked.

Jared looked at the little boy in surprise. "Jonah? Dude, look at you!"

Jonah smiled and stepped away from his father. Jared crouched down to talk to him.

"You're like, three inches taller!" Jared said. The kid had added weight, too; his cheeks were sweetly rounded and flushed instead of drawn and pale like Jared remembered, and when Jared shook his hand, it was reassuringly warm.

"He's just shot up like a weed in the last couple of months," Jensen said, with a wide smile like he couldn't hide his happiness. "And he's being kinda shy right now, but he's so much more outgoing since the operation. Usually, I can't shut him up."

"Well, he's feeling better. That would make anyone more talkative," Jared said, yanking on the brim of Jonah's cap so it covered his eyes. Jonah laughed.

"He's a different kid," Jensen said quietly, his eyes on his son. "It's like a miracle. It is a miracle."

Jared swallowed self-consciously. "Well. I'm glad," he said. It sounded stupidly inadequate so he stood and turned to Jensen with the intention of saying something more, but stopped short at the warm, open expression on Jensen's face.

"Hey, I understand it's weird without Mike and Erica," Jensen said. "We'll do this some other time. No big deal. I really just wanted to thank you."

But he'd already thanked Jared; a brief, hard hug in the waiting room that had shocked Jared speechless, and when Jared took Jensen's outstretched hand and felt Jensen's fingers close around his own, that same feeling of unreality came back.

Jared cleared his throat. "Sure. Another time."

"Can we go to the round-and-round now?" Jonah asked.

Jensen looked down at his son. "Yeah, buddy - go grab your coat. Say good-bye to Dr. Padalecki first."

Jared held out a fist to Jonah. "Punch it out, little man," he said. When Jonah just looked at him quizzically, Jared reached down to form Jonah's tiny fingers into a fist, then tapped it gently with his own. Jonah let out a joyful giggle, then fell forward and grabbed Jared's legs, his small arms surprisingly strong. "Woah," Jared said, and automatically dropped a hand to the top of his head.

"Bye," Jonah said, ginning up at him.

Oh, why the hell not, Jared thought. "You know, it's actually sunny out today."

Jensen nodded, glanced out the window. "Until three, supposedly."

"The docks sound pretty cool. I could use a merry-go-round ride myself."

Jensen's face brightened with pleased surprise. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, if I go home, I'll just do something stupid. Like sleep." He grinned at Jonah. "Nothing nearly as cool as Magic Mouse."

"Let's go!" Jonah said, excited.

"Well, go grab your coat," Jensen said, then crossed his arms and glanced over at Jared. He seemed a little bit embarrassed. "You don't have to do this. But, thanks."

Jared raised a dismissive hand, feeling his face flush a little. "I want to." The simple truth in that statement surprised him. Jared was glad when Jensen broke the odd closeness of the moment by grabbing his jacket off a chair.

"Okay, carousel first," Jense said, "but then you have to let me buy you some crablegs at Ivar's. I know it's tourist-y, but Jonah loves how they dump the food on the table."

"You know, I've never eaten there? That sounds awesome."

"Never? Oh, wow. Tragedy," Jensen said, as he zipped his coat. "Jonah, get a move on. Dr. Padalecki's waiting."

"Hey, call me Jared." Jared shrugged self-consciously when Jensen looked over at him. "Since Jonah isn't really my patient anymore. And we're going to Magic Mouse and everything."

"Jared," Jensen said, like he was testing it out. He smiled. "Okay."

So Close, a year and a half later (1750 words) for [ profile] wendy, with bonus Alona for [ profile] pocketfullof

"Why can't she go back?" Alona asked.

Jensen sat back in his chair by the window and adjusted the phone against his ear. "Well, of course, she can go back -- it's just that she was in a state-run hospital before Doctors Without Borders brought her here for the surgery, and now her visa's running out. She's going to need way more follow-up care than they can provide ... it's a mess."

"Sounds like it."

"So... should we do it? What do you think?" Jensen asked, looking out the study window at the city lights across the bay, still bright at one in the morning. He wasn't sure if the delay that came before Alona's answer was due to her cell phone signal bouncing off a few satellites between Kabul and Seattle, or from complete shock.

"Well, first of all, I think that you must be pretty desperate if you're asking me for parenting advice," Alona said.

"Hey, no offense, but I'm not asking because you're a parent; I'm asking because you're a girl."

Alona laughed. "That's the problem? Your primary objection to adding another child to your household is the fact that she's a girl?"

"Yes! Partly..." Jensen rubbed his eyes. "I get boys, you know? They're boys. They do boy things. But girls... girls have... Girl Scout meetings. And hair ribbons. And... and feelings. I just don't know if I'm equipped."

"Oh, Jen. Jen, sweetheart."

Jensen rolled his eyes, but he was used to Alona patronizing him long-distance, so he decided to let it slide.

"If you're not equipped, who is?" Alona continued. "You managed Jonah alone, need I remind you, for what, a year?"

And a half, Jensen added to himself.

" -- and now you have Jared to help you... you're golden." There was another pause. "What does Jonah think about having a sister?"

Which was the real question, of course, the one he'd been waiting for.

"He's all for it. He wanted a sibling as soon as we moved in with Jay and we had to explain why that wasn't going to happen automatically. That was an interesting conversation, let me tell you. He's ready. I just don't know if I am."

"As long as Jonah's happy." The silence went on too long for a simple signal delay. "I never worry about him, you know. Not for a minute."

"Oh." Jensen wasn't sure where she was going with that. "Good. Right?"

"I'm just saying, that girl-learning-curve or not, if you decide to be this kid's dad... well, she's won the parent lottery. Straight up."

Jensen blinked. "Lo. Wow." He coughed. "You're just saying that because I signed Jonah up for Pint-size Picassos at the Neo, aren't you?"

Alona's laugh sounded a little self-conscious. "Well, you are my favorite ex, no doubt about it. And I keep telling you, education in the arts is important. Especially because Jonah's so creative."

Jensen had a sudden, vivid image of Alona sitting in some run-down hotel room, looking at the stick-figure drawings and finger-painted flowers that Jonah had sealed carefully in envelopes to go half-way around the world. It made him feel strangely protective.

"We'll send you some more pictures," he said, and wondered when he'd started feeling more sorry for her, all alone in a country where they hated her on principle, than for himself and Jonah left behind in Seattle. In retrospect, it was probably the exact moment Jared had kissed him. "Be careful, Lo," he added roughly.

"Always. Hug my baby for me."

"You got it."

"And don't worry. You'll make the right decision," she said, right before the line went dead.

After staring out at the sound for a few more minutes, listening to the silence of the house, Jensen left the study and climbed the darkened stairs, turning off lights as he went. He paused outside Jonah's door, listened to him breathe for a minute, before glancing into the empty room across the hall. For just a second, he imagined the bland cream-colored paint was a sunny yellow instead, and wondered what else he would need to put on the walls if a little girl was going to be living in that room, too. Butterflies? Unicorns? Maybe butterflies riding unicorns? Jensen rubbed his eyes. It was all way too overwhelming to think about.

He continued down the hall to his and Jared's room, an octagonal, multi-windowed space that had been half the reason they'd bought the old Victorian house in the first place. Jared lay face down on the bed, smooth shoulders above the blankets, his skin almost gleaming in the moonlight. When Jensen eased himself into the bed beside him, he had to run his hands over all that skin and watch Jared's mouth curve up into a sleepy smile.

"So how's the ex?" Jared asked, his voice low.

Jensen lay down across Jared, his cheek resting between Jared's shoulder blades, and closed his eyes in relief. "Happy I'm using her child-support to put our kid through painting lessons -- I guess so he can major in art and be unemployed for the rest of his life. Oh, and she appreciates my parenting skills and your relative competence as a partner."

"Good to hear," Jared murmured.

Jensen breathed against him for awhile. "So how's Asel doing?" he asked, finally.

"Responding to treatment," Jared said, his voice lifting. "You would hardly believe she's just a week post-op; Morgan's taken her off critical and moved her from ICU. She was laughing today, actually laughing and it was so fucking beautiful, Jen. You really should come see her again."

Jensen swallowed. "I did," he said. He felt like he was making a confession. "I was there this morning. Allison signed me in."

Jared lifted his head to look at him. "Why didn't you tell me? I could have met you there."

Jensen shrugged, uncomfortable. "I didn't want to bug you. And... I don't know. I wanted to think."

"Oh." Jared said, carefully. "Did you reach any conclusions?"

Suddenly the free-floating anxiety Jensen had felt all day came rushing up in a determined flood, and he felt like he was going to drown in it. "Babies are a lot of work," he said, a little harshly, and felt Jared go still beneath him. "You really don't know what you're getting into. I mean, most of the heavy-lifting with Jonah was over before you got here."

Jared shifted. "I know it's not going to be easy --" he started, sounding slightly defensive.

"And we're going to have to give up a lot of things," Jensen said, talking over him. "Like sleep. Oh, and clean shirts, don't forget that. We're looking at maybe two years of baby-goo, minimum."

"Baby goo?" Jared turned over to look at Jensen, grinned at him in the darkness.

"I am totally serious, Jay. Every time they touch you, there's goo. Usually unidentifiable. I didn't wear dry-clean-only for three solid years. Can you live without cashmere?"

Jared raised an eyebrow. "I spend my life in scrubs. I think I can deal."

"But can you deal with the late nights? And the noise?" Now that Jensen had started speaking, it was like he couldn't stop. "There would be two kids in the house; we're looking at chaos at a level neither of us can really imagine. This isn't a doll we're talking about; she's a kid. A sick kid --" Jensen broke off, and caught his breath in surprise.

Jared had been watching him quietly during his tirade, and his smile had faded into something thoughtful. He came up on one elbow to look at Jensen. "Is that the problem, Jen?" he asked gently. "That she's sick?"

Jensen rolled onto his back and stared up at the dark ceiling, and suddenly it was absolutely clear, in a way he hadn't been able to articulate before but still went though him like a punch to the chest.

"I don't know if I can do it again," he said, so low that Jared had to lean forward to hear.

"Oh, God, Jen..." Jared said, sounding a little broken, and dropped his head to the pillow next to Jensen's, pressed his face into the side of Jensen's head.

"Because if we take her, we're going to love her, Jay," Jensen whispered. "All three of us. We're going to love this little girl so much that pretty soon we won't know how we lived our lives without her, and then what do we do if we have to?" He leaned back and tried to meet Jared's eyes in the dark. "Do you really want to risk having to live with that kind of loss?"

Jared rubbed a hand over his face, and when he finally looked at Jensen, his eyes were bright in the light from the window. "I think I've worried about that every day since I met you."

Then Jared was right there, pulling him close, resting his forehead against Jensen's and whispering to him in the darkness. "There are no guarantees, right? I know that; God, I see that, every day. But I feel like we have so much and I don't know what the fuck I did to deserve it, so maybe... maybe that means we should share."

And wasn't that Jared exactly, looking out beyond himself and making Jensen see so much more than what was right in front of him. "You really want this. You want us to have her." It wasn't a question.

"She could be Jonah's sister. She could be our daughter, Jen. Isn't that worth it?"

Jensen listened to the longing in Jared's voice and thought of hair ribbons he'd eventually figure out how to tie and butterflies on yellow walls and Jared on the couch with their tiny daughter asleep on his chest. There was no doubt in Jensen's mind that even if the risk wasn't worth it, Jared definitely was.

He reached up and clenched a hand in Jared's hair, anchored himself there. "Okay, but we can't adopt every kid whose heart you fix. Let's establish that going forward."

Jared's answering laugh was a little shaky. "Okay, that's fair. Just this one."

Jensen exhaled into Jared's chest, wrapped his arms around Jared's waist and held him tight. "Yeah. Just this one."


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