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21 July 2009 @ 06:45 pm
Live & On Stage: 3X Everything  
Master Post



3X Everything

“You’re taller,” his mother declared once she’d broken their hug. “I swear, you’re taller.”

“How could I be taller already?” Jared protested, but he had to admit, his mother seemed smaller.
 
She put a hand on either side of his face and shook it a little. “You keep growing up no matter what I do!” she exclaimed, but she was beaming.
 
“Mrs. P!” someone hollered behind them and a minute later Chad was picking her up in a giant hug. “You see, look what good care I’ve taken of our boy,” he declared once he’d set her down.
 
“Well, he’s in one piece, I’ll grant you that,” she answered in a scolding tone, but she reached out and smoothed Chad’s hair with a motherly hand.
 
“It’s not the same without you though, Mrs. P,” Chad said with fake woe. “Who knew touring without parental supervision would be so dull?”
 
“Mm-hmm,” she said skeptically and Jared rolled his eyes.
 
“Mom, we’ve got show time,” he said as a bell dinged backstage. “See you after, all right?”
 
She waved them off. “Go on, boys,” she said. “There’s a throng of 10-year-olds out there screaming for you.”
 
Jared was so ready for the July break that he’d brought his bags to the dressing room to go right into his mother’s car after the show. Her parents lived in San Antonio, and she and Jared’s sister, Megan, had flown out from LA so the three of them could spend the break there. Jared couldn’t wait to do absolutely nothing for a couple of weeks.
 
Alexis was headed back to LA for an audition – she hadn’t signed on for another year with Club yet, and was still feeling out some other options. Chad, Bret and Tyler were going to Mexico do to things Jared didn’t want to think about. Tom was going to see his girlfriend, and Michael, Steve and Chris all were going back to LA for some business.
 
Jensen was spending the time with his family in Dallas, a wretched five hours from San Antonio. When Jared had become glum about the separation the night before, Jensen had cheered him up in a most persuasive way and reminded him that it was only two weeks.
 
Still, everything was so new and Jared was worried they would come back from break and find that it had fizzled out, that it had been just a crush on both their parts. The thought made Jared anxious in the worst girly way.
 
Then another part of him wanted the time apart, to think about what he was doing. Alexis knew, of course, but he hadn’t brought himself to tell Chad, and if he was honest with himself, it was because he was afraid. Jared assumed that Jensen’s bandmates knew, but none of them had said anything. Jared didn’t think they were a secret, exactly, but they weren’t exactly a known item.
 
He also found that he really, really wanted his mom to meet Jensen but he had no idea how he would introduce him. His friend? His boyfriend? The guy he was currently making out with? Mega boy band superstar? Five Times Everything’s “Cute One”?
 
Megan had brought a summer Texas friend to the concert with her, and the two of them wanted to stay for 5X Everything and Hannah Montana, so Jared found himself alone in the Green Room after the show, the rest of the Clubbers packed back into the bus and shipped off to the hotel. He could hear the pounding music and screaming crowd as 5X Everything took the stage, but he was so tired from the show and from running around in circles in his head that he put his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. The next thing he knew, gentle fingers were running through his hair. He squinted open his eyes and looked up at Jensen.
 
“Hey,” he said drowsily, then realized with a jerk that he had fallen asleep and sat up abruptly.
 
“Wooo,” Jensen said with a laugh, and sat down beside him. “Forget where you were?”
 
“Didn’t mean to fall asleep,” Jared confessed, rubbing at his eyes. “Show over?”

“Miley’s on,” Jensen said. “Is your mom here?”
 
Jared nodded. “Megan and her friend wanted to stay for the whole show,” he said. “She’s out there among the savages.”
 
Jensen shuddered. “Brave woman,” he said solemnly, and Jared was hit with a sudden rush of happiness just to be there with him that made him lean in and kiss Jensen.
 
“Hey,” Jensen said when they pulled apart.
 
“Hey,” Jared whispered back.
 
“It’s not so long, you know,” Jensen said, cupping a warm hand around the side of Jared’s neck.
 
“I know,” Jared said. The confidence he tried to infuse in his voice was ruined with a yawn.
 
“Dude, you so need break,” Jensen said with amusement.
 
“I’m wiped,” Jared admitted. “I’m so letting Gigi spoil me rotten.”
 
“I love,” Jensen said, “that you call your grandmother Gigi and you’re not even embarrassed about it.”
 
“Embarrassed? You’re in a boy band,” Jared teased and Jensen grinned at him.
 
They both turned when the door opened, and Jensen quickly dropped his hand from Jared’s neck.
 
“Mom!” Jared said in surprise.
 
“There you are!” she said. “I had to take a break. One of the tour people is going to bring the girls back when Hannah Montana is finished.”
 
Jared stood up and Jensen followed suit. “Mom, this is Jensen Ackles, from Five Times Everything,” he said, and that was easier than he’d thought. “Jensen, my mom, Sherri Padalecki.”
 
“Ma’am,” Jensen said politely, and extended his hand.
 
“Ma’am!” she said in astonishment, taking Jensen’s hand. “Five Times Everything has much better manners than the Mickey Mouse Club.”
 
Jensen laughed and gave her a dazzling smile that made Jared a little heady.
 
“I’m a Texas boy too,” he said, and let the drawl in a little. “My family’s in Dallas, and you know my mama taught me right.”
 
Jared’s mother looked positively star-struck. “Well, I can see that,” she said. “It’s so nice to meet you, Jensen. I know that Jared loved filming with Tom last year.”
 
“Tom’s a good guy,” Jensen said. “Never lets you down. Anyway, I just stopped by to see who was hanging around and saw that Jared has bags that need lugged out to car.”
 
“Oh, you carry bags, too,” Jared’s mom said. “A man after my own heart.”
 
“Settle down, Mom,” Jared said with amusement. “If you give us the keys we can take these out to the car now.”
 
“All right, all right,” she said with good nature. “He always wants to ruin my fun,” she said to Jensen as she dug out her keys and gave them to Jared.
 
“Oh, I believe it,” Jensen said seriously, picking up one of Jared’s bags. “It was really nice to meet you, ma’am.”
 
“Thank you, Jensen,” she said warmly.
 
“I’ll be right back, Mom,” Jared said, snagging his other bag and opening the door.
 
“I’ll be waiting,” she said with a sigh of long-suffering. Jared shook his head and grinned, looking shyly at Jensen out of the corner of his eye. Jensen managed to hold back a huge smile until they got outside to the car where they were relatively alone.
 
“Yeah, my mom’s kind of . . .” Jared started and trailed off.
 
“Awesome?” Jensen said.
 
“She is,” Jared said, and smiled hugely back, admitting to himself how important it had been for him that Jensen like his mother. He felt giddy with happiness for a minute, until they loaded up the bags and he realized that Jensen was about to leave.
 
“Two weeks,” he said, and caught Jensen’s hands in his.
 
“Two weeks,” Jensen said firmly, and pulled him into a shadowed doorway to say good-bye properly.
 



Jared got two days before his mother pounced on him. He guessed she must have thought he deserved at least that much rest.

“So,” she said casually as she made sandwiches in the kitchen, “Jensen seems like a nice guy.”
 
“He is,” Jared said, eyeballing her warily.
 
“Have you two been hanging out a lot?” she asked innocently.
 
“Some,” he answered.
 
“He certainly is good-looking,” she said.
 
“That’s what YM says,” Jared answered, not willing to give.
 
“Was that him on the phone this morning?”
 
“Mmm,” Jared said, and took a long drink of lemonade. His mother set a sandwich in front of him and then sat down at the table with her own lunch.
 
“You know, Jared,” she said, “all I’ve ever wanted for you kids is for you to be happy.”
 
“I know that, Mom,” Jared said.
 
“All right,” she said, and started in on her food.
 
“He is quite a bit older than you, isn’t he?” she asked after a few minutes.
 
“Mo-om,” Jared said, and put his sandwich down.
 
“I just worry, honey,” she said, and put a hand on his knee. Jared sighed, because he knew that was the truth. Sandy had been like a member of their family, and it had hurt his mom when they’d broken up. She’d also been like a hawk about other girls ever since then. Apparently, that attitude extended to boys.
 
“He’s 22,” Jared said, giving her that much.
 
“Which is a big difference,” she said. Jared looked pointedly at her. “I know,” she said. “I can’t help it.”
 
“It’s just, this thing with Jensen is . . .” Jared fumbled around for the right words, “new. And a surprise to me. So, I don’t know, I don’t know what to tell you. But he’s totally cool. Not, uh, pushy at all.”
 
That seemed to satisfy her. “Good,” she said briskly. “Well. I like him very much.”
 
“He’s really cool,” Jared agreed.
 
“And I hope he’s not totally standoffish,” she added, and Jared had to put his sandwich back down.
 
“Mo-om!” he cried in distress.
 
“Well, you are young men in your prime,” she said.
 
Jared buried his face in his hands. “I swear you say these things just to embarrass me,” he muttered.
 
“Of course I do, honey,” she answered. “It’s one of the best parts of being a parent.”
 



“Okay, Whitney, you first,” Payton said with a giggle. Whitney turned her computer monitor so the other girls could see.

“You are Tommy!” it declared. “A natural leader and everyone’s big brother, you want to make sure that your friends and family are taken care of. You take your work seriously, but you still like to have some fun.”

“That is so you,” Braylin said.

“Payton, your turn,” Whitney answered.

“All right,” Payton said, blushing, “but I don’t think mine is quite right.”

“You are Chris!” Payton’s screen read. “You love being the bad boy and sometimes you like your fun a little too much. You are a fiercely loyal friend and don’t hesitate to speak your mind.”

“Well, it’s kind of true,” Whitney said. “I think you’re more of a Michael, though.”

“Who did you get, Braylin?” Payton asked. Braylin started giggling and couldn’t stop as she showed them.

“You are Jensen!” her screen read. “Some people think you can be standoffish, but you’re just private and little shy. You care deeply about other people and are close to your family and friends.”

“Awww!” Whitney and Payton exclaimed.

They had just enough time before class ended to switch answers around and learn that Michael was a joker with super-smarts who knew when it was time to work and when it was time to play, and that Steve was sensitive and caring, and devoted to causes that help the planet and the sick.















Somewhere, Funkytown was playing. Jared fumbled around the night stand, then the floor, before he finally found his phone and flipped it open.
 
“Hello,” he mumbled.
 
“Good morning,” Jensen said.
 
“Ooooh,” Jared said, squinting at the clock. “What time is it?”
 
“Eleven a.m.,” Jensen said with amusement. “Why are you still in bed? Someone keeping you out all night? I thought Chad went to Mexico with his entourage.”
 
Jared stretched and kicked off the covers. “Megan and I stayed up until like three playing Street Fighter Four,” he said. “I completely annihilated her.”
 
Jensen laughed. “Now there’s something I’ve always wanted in a guy – the ability to annihilate a 14-year-old girl,” he said.
 
“Shut up,” Jared said good-naturedly. “What’s going on?”
 
“I wondered if you wanted to change your travel plans up to Minneapolis,” Jensen said.
 
“Sure,” Jared said, yawning. “You want me to fly to Dallas so we can get a flight together?”
 
“Actually, I was thinking you could fly to Dallas and we could road trip it up there,” Jensen said. “My folks have an extra vehicle we could use.”
 
Jared sat up. “Really?” he asked. “That’s gotta be like, a lot of miles.”
 
“Yeah, 950,” Jensen said. “It’ll be 14, 15 hours, but I thought we could do it over three days, two nights. Take our time.”
 
Three days and two nights all alone with Jensen. Jared thought he could do that.
 
“What, I mean, what will we do with your parents’ car when we get there?” he asked.
 
“Samanatha will take care of it,” Jensen said carelessly. “We like to road trip on our own sometimes – she figures it out somehow. You in?”
 
Jared bounded to his feet. “I’m so in!” he said. “I’ll call Kripke and get my flight changed. I guess I should make it, what, Wednesday?”
 
“If you can make it morning,” Jensen said. “Otherwise Tuesday night.”
 
“Awesome!” Jared said, and then was suddenly shy about his uninhibited enthusiasm. “I mean, that sounds fun.”
 
Jensen was laughing again and he so had Jared’s number. “It will be,” he said. “Text me your flight info and I’ll be there to pick you up.”
 
“’Kay,” Jared said. “I’ll see you then.”
 
“See you then, Jay,” Jensen said, and Jared’s stomach flopped around at the nickname.
 
Really, he didn’t mind Jensen having his number very much at all.
 



Jared’s flight got to Dallas early Wednesday morning, so Jensen met him at the airport with his parents’ hybrid SUV packed and ready to go. Jared resisted the urge to bound into Jensen’s arms and slobber all over his face like a giant dog and managed to go with a big hug instead.
 
Jensen looked even better than he had before break, which Jared thought was seriously impossible, but there Jensen was, a little tanner and much more relaxed. They were already on the highway when Jared realized he was sitting in the passenger seat silent, just staring at Jensen. He looked down, embarrassed.
 
“This is a great idea,” he said.
 
“Mmm,” Jensen said, watching the busy road. “I figured if we wanted time to ourselves, we needed to make it.”
 
“Yeah,” Jared agreed, then blurted out of nowhere, “My mom really liked you.”
 
Jensen glanced over at him. “Good. She’s great,” he said. He watched the road for a minute, then asked, “So, I guess you told her?”
 
Jared huffed, indignant. “She knew. She knows everything,” he admitted.
 
“Well, you’re not the most opaque of guys,” Jensen said.
 
Jared fiddled with the hem of his shirt. “I know,” he said glumly. “But she was cool about it.” He was quiet for a while, watching the highway speed by. “Your family is good?” he asked hesitantly.
 
“Yeah,” Jensen said. “I had a nice time.” He cocked his head over at Jared. “I’ll have to bring you by sometime.”
 
Jared squirmed and blushed. He hadn’t been fishing for an invite, really, he hadn’t. He cleared his throat. “That’d be nice,” he said.
 
Jensen smiled at him and it was more blinding than the morning sun.
 
They made good time into Oklahoma once they were out of Dallas traffic and stopped at a McDonald’s for lunch where a college girl nabbed them for a photo. They made it into Missouri before calling it a day, finding a decent meal and hotel.
 
It wasn’t until they hauled their bags up into the hotel room and Jared was faced with the single king-sized bed within that he realized that he and Jensen were actually going to spend the night together, sleeping in the same bed, if nothing else. His mom’s voice was suddenly yapping all over in his head and he had to hold still and firmly tell her to be quiet.
 
“You okay?” Jensen asked, and Jared made himself nod and smile.
 
“Yeah, sure,” he said, and tossed his bag onto the dresser.
 
Jensen didn’t move, watching him. He cleared his throat. “You want to get a room with two beds? Or another room?”
 
“No,” Jared said firmly, because that wasn’t what he wanted in the least. He dug around in his bag because he was sure he had a toothbrush in there somewhere but it always fell to the bottom … Jensen’s hand closed around Jared’s wrist, ending his frantic toothbrush search.
 
“Jared,” Jensen said softly. “We don’t have to … I didn’t get one room expecting us to have sex tonight. We can just sleep, or we can just sleep and cuddle, or we can just sleep and cuddle and make out. You can call the shots here.”
 
Jared knew he was bright red. “You know, I’ve had sex before,” he said defensively, and dared a sideways glance at Jensen.
 
“With a guy?” Jensen asked seriously, no hint of patronizing or teasing in his voice.
 
“Uh, yeah. Not so much,” Jared said, and squirmed. He stole another look at Jensen and cleared his throat. “So we can sleep and cuddle and make out?” he asked hopefully, and Jensen smiled.
 
“Absolutely,” he said, and proved it by pulling Jared to him and kissing him soundly.
 
In the end, Jared just took his bag into the bathroom and upended it to find his toothbrush. He shimmied out of his jeans and washed his face and then reached in his bag for his awesomely soft Batman flannel sleep bottoms and then suddenly realized that he was about to get into bed with his mega-hot kinda-boyfriend wearing his Batman pajamas and ohmygod what was the protocol here?
 
He looked down at himself in boxers and t-shirt and wondered if he should just go back out like this. Or maybe he should pull sweatshorts out of his bag and go with them. Or maybe he had that actual pajama set in his bag and he should go with that.
 
Jared spread the contents of his bag on the floor again and considered his options. He grabbed his phone off the sink and quickly sent Alexis a text prefaced with “911”: “WHAT WEAR 2 BED ON RD TRIP W/JEN?”
 
Alexis answered almost immediately: “NOTHING”.
 
Jared hated his friends.
 
“PJ BTMS + T? BOXERS + T? PJS? SHORTS + T? NO REFERENCE!”
 
“LINGERIE”.
 
He could practically hear her laughing from wherever she was.
 
“SERIOUS HV BTMAN BTMS W/ME!”
 
“AHAHAHAHA VRY SXY!!!!!!!!!”
 
Jared was angrily typing in a reply that brought Alexis’ sexual mores into question when Jensen knocked on the door.
 
“Jay?” he asked. “You all right?”
 
Jared’s fingers froze over the phone. “Uh, yeah, just washing up,” he said. “Be right out.”
 
There was a moment of silence on both sides of the door and then Jensen said, “I can hear you texting, you know.”
 
“Uh,” Jared frantically texted, “HATE YOU” and snapped his phone shut. “Can you just, like, pretend you couldn’t hear me?”
 
Jensen was silent and Jared could just picture him packing his bags as fast as he could so he pulled on the stupid Batman bottoms and barreled out the door, smack into a frowning Jensen. He grabbed him by the upper arms.
 
“I got it sorted,” he assured him. “Small fashion crisis but I went with a classic.”
 
Jensen actually giggled. “Those are way, way sexy,” he said.
 
Jared swaggered into the room. “I know,” he said. “I’m Batman.”
 
Batman ended up mostly sleeping – really sleeping – with Jensen that night, because once they were horizontal, they found that they were both exhausted. Jared woke up the next morning pleasantly tangled in a warm, sleepy Jensen. He rolled over to face Jensen and leaned in to kiss his neck.
 
“Mmmm,” Jensen buzzed happily, eyes still shut.
 
“Good morning,” Jared said, and pressed against him tight to show him what a good morning it really was.
 
It turned out he didn’t need those Batman bottoms so much after all, something he confirmed again the next night in Iowa.
 
By the time they reached Minneapolis, Jared had confirmed something else, even if only to himself: he was totally, head over heels, in love with boy band superstar Jensen Ackles.



The buses hadn’t arrived at the Minneapolis hotel yet, so as soon as Jared checked in and dumped his bags, he went over to Jensen’s room, because apparently three days solid together wasn’t enough for him.

“Hey,” he said, reaching for Jensen as soon as the door opened, but Jensen pulled away and took Jared’s hand instead, drawing him into the room.
 
“Oh!” Jared said in surprise to the woman on the couch. She stood and extended a hand.
 
“Speak of the devil,” she said. “Jared, I’m Samantha Ferris, Jensen’s manager.”
 
“Hi,” Jared said cautiously, and shook her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
 
Jensen had let go of Jared’s hand to pick up some papers on the table and handed them to Jared. Jared looked down at them, surprised by Jensen’s brusque attitude.
 
“Jensen and Jared – What’s Up With That?” the printout read in big bold type.
 
“What’s this?” Jared asked in bewilderment.
 
“The girl at the McDonald’s,” Jensen said. “It seems she has a blog.”
 
Jared sat down to quickly read.
 
“You’re not going to believe this, but I got off the highway on my way to Mom’s house on Wednesday and decided I actually wanted to sit down and eat and not go through the drive-through, so I picked a random McDonald’s and went in. Who was there eating together but Jensen Ackles of 5X Everything and Jared Padalecki of the Mickey Mouse Club?!?!?! I almost peed my pants.
 
“No one else seemed to recognize them and I didn’t want to be a big goober fangirl and bother them while they were eating, but, seriously, when is that opportunity going to come around again? So I waited until they’d finished and were putting their trays away and went over and just said that I really enjoyed their music and the show. They were both very nice and shook my hand and then this nice old fellow took our picture together.
 
“I hadn’t seen any buses outside so I asked them if they were on their way to the next show and Jared said that they were road-tripping up to Minneapolis from visiting family in Texas on their midsummer break. I said that sounded fun and Jared said they were having a great time. Jensen didn’t say anything and seemed a little nervous, but he has a reputation for being reticent with fans. Then we said good-bye and they left the restaurant. They got into a black SUV together (Jensen drove) and were on their way.
 
“I have little shame, so I will confess that I was watching them while they were eating. Jared was carrying the conversation and seemed to be telling Jensen about some movie he’d seen. He was totally relaxed and animated in that Jared way, complete with arm-waving. The whole time, Jensen is just eating his food and watching Jared like he’s the best thing ever.
 
“I was just so flabbergasted to see them somewhere together. You almost never see Jensen photographed anywhere except with his bandmates or sometimes someone he’s filmed with, and I thought Jared and Chad Michael Murray were inseparable. I’ve never even heard that Jensen and Jared are friends, though they are touring together this summer.
 
“I know the rumors about Jensen being gay keep popping up, although I’ve always wondered if he just keeps really quiet about who he’s dating – he’s very protective of his personal life. And we all know that Jared dated Sandy McCoy for years. But I’m totally serious here – they seemed like a couple to me. Call me crazy if you must, but I know young love when I see it.
 
“My head is still spinning from the whole thing. Obviously, this post is locked to friends and I’d appreciate you’re not sharing this info with others. I probably should keep it to myself, but I just can’t!”
 
The picture from McDonald’s was at the bottom of the post. Beneath that, it said, “493 Shout-Outs.” Jared set the papers down slowly.
 
“If that was a private post, where did this come from?” he asked.
 
“Someone leaked it out there,” Samantha said, and then sighed. “Look, boys, don’t worry overmuch about it. Everybody always thinks everybody is gay and everybody is dating. I just thought you should know about it.”
 
“Thanks, Sam,” Jensen said quietly from where he was leaning against the dresser.
 
“Listen,” Samantha said, holding up a hand. Jensen turned his face away from her but Jared fixed his eyes right on her. “Whatever you two want to do together is between the two of you. You’re consenting adults and you’re entitled to your privacy. Just be aware that you are in the public eye, and people are going to pick over every little thing you do like this. So if you’re not ready for something to be public, don’t do it in public, whether that’s people knowing that you’re friends or people seeing you make out.”
 
“Okay,” Jared said, and Samantha nodded in approval.
 
“Jensen?” she asked.
 
“Yeah,” Jensen said. “I know the drill, Samantha.”
 
“Hey, I’m here to protect you,” she said. “Whether you want your privacy or your choices protected. But if you don’t decide how you’re going to play this thing, it’ll get decided for you pretty quick.”
 
Jensen sighed and looked up at her. “I know,” he said. “Thank you. Really. I’m just surprised.”
 
“All right,” Samantha said, and then surprised Jared by giving Jensen a quick hug. “You boys let me know if you need anything.”
 
“Yep,” Jensen said, and showed her out. Jared picked up the blog and reread it while Jensen shut the door and plopped down at the table across from him. When he put the papers down, Jensen was running a hand over his face, frustration written all over it.
 
“I’m sorry,” Jensen said, gesturing to the paper.
 
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Jared said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”
 
Jensen grimaced. “I know, I know,” he said. “It’s just . . . that was the first time alone we’ve had together, and look – we weren’t alone at all.”
 
“Guess not,” Jared said tightly. Jensen stared at him intently.
 
“I don’t want it to always be like this,” Jensen said, and Jared nodded shortly, not trusting his voice. “I just think, I mean, don’t you want to get to know each other? Find out if we really want to do this thing before putting it on display before the whole world? And I don’t think it’s because we’re both guys, I think I’d feel this way no matter what.”
 
“I know,” Jared said, and when Jensen looked skeptical, he added, “I understand, I really do.” And he did, really, he knew Jensen didn’t want his whole life and his new romance to be played out on the Internet and in magazines. “It’s just,” Jared shuffled the papers anxiously, “I kind of want to tell the whole world after this week.”
 
“Jay,” Jensen said tenderly, and before Jared knew it he had his arms around him and was kissing him soundly.
 
“I could never be ashamed or embarrassed by this,” Jensen whispered, his lips still close to Jared’s. “I just want it to happen on our terms, not some PR schedule.”
 
“Okay,” Jared said breathlessly, because when Jensen kissed him like that he thought he would agree to just about anything.
 







Jared wasn’t even through the door into his room when Chad barreled into him.
 
“Dude!” Chad said. “WTF?”
 
“Hey, Chad,” Jared said, going straight inside and flopping into a chair. “How was Mexico?”
 
Chad stood in front of him, hands held up. “What?” Jared asked, annoyed.
 
“Airport?” Chad said.
 
“Um, it’s where planes land and takeoff,” Jared guessed.
 
“Ride?” Chad said. “Phone?”
 
Something clicked in Jared’s head. “Oh, man, I’m sorry!” he said. “I totally forgot. My flight plans got changed around and I forgot to tell Kripke when you needed picked up.”
 
“Where’s your stupid phone, asshat?” Chad demanded. “I called you like 40,000 times.”
 
Jared found his phone in the middle of the bed with his bag. He had 14 text messages and 23 missed calls from Chad. “Sorry, sorry,” he said, scrolling and deleting.
 
“Whatever,” Chad said in an affronted voice. “What happened with your flight? This better be good.”
 
“Uh,” Jared focused on his phone, “actually, I ended up driving up.”
 
“From Texas?” Chad asked with disbelief. “Why the hell would you do that?’
 
“I, um,” Jared also had seven text messages and three missed calls from Alexis, “I flew to Dallas and met up with Jensen Ackles and we road-tripped up together.”
 
Chad was silent, so Jared peeked up at him. He was still standing in the middle of the room with his hands in the air. “With Ackles?” Chad asked in bewilderment. “Why?”
 
“Cause I’ve kind of been . . . dating him for a few weeks,” Jared said. He tried really hard not to squirm.
 
Chad just stared at him blankly for a full minute and then said in astonishment, “All right.” He dropped his hands and jabbed a finger at Jared. “I should stomp you for keeping secrets from me, though.”
 
Jared winced. “I know, man, I’m sorry, it’s all just really new,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “I just wasn’t sure about any of it.”
 
Chad waved a hand at him. “Aw, don’t listen to me. I, uh,” and Chad actually looked nervous, “hooked up with AnnaLynne?”
 
“Dude!” Jared yelled. “Is that a question?”
 
“No?” Chad said.
 
It was Jared’s turn to hold his hands up in astonishment. “You said,” he sputtered, “you said no more Clubbers. Especially after Sophia.”
 
“I know,” Chad said, and at least had the decency to look sheepish. “But, Jared, she’s really hot.”
 
“And Hilarie,” Jared said.
 
“Yeah,” Chad said.
 
“And Bethany Joy.”
 
“Yeah.”
 
Jared let his hands drop. “All right,” he said in disbelief. “It’s your funeral.”
 
“But what a party it’s going to be,” Chad said with such a huge grin that Jared had to return it.
 
Just then Barbie Girl went off in his hand. “OMG WTF WHERE R U?!” his phone demanded.
 
“ROOM,” he sent back, and two minutes later there was banging on his door. He opened it and immediately had his hands full of squealing Alexis.
 
“I got it!” she said. “I got the lead!”
 
Jared whooped and spun her around and Chad tackled them both in a giant hug, knocking them all into the bed.
 
“It’s this ABC Family drama about an exclusive prep school that starts midseason and we start shooting in September!” Alexis gushed out without taking a breath.
 
“That’s our girl!” Chad crowed and Jared gave Alexis a sound kiss on the cheek before they untangled themselves.
 
“So, are you Jo or Tootie?” Chad asked.
 
“Screw you, Murray,” Alexis said, grinning from ear to ear. “But you know what? Know what?”
 
“What?” Jared said, laughing.
 
“They haven’t found their male lead yet and their casting director told my agent that everyone they’ve seen is for crap and asked if any other Clubbers might be interested, and my agent gave her both of your names and she said she’d call your agents so we might end up doing the show together,” Alexis squealed.
 
Jared and Chad looked at each other. “Wow,” Chad said. “Thanks, Lexi.”
 
Jared rubbed at his nose. “We’re both under contract,” he said, but Alexis shook her head.
 
“ABC Family’s an affiliate, they’ll work it out,” she said. “And you both keep saying that you’d love to be on a real show, do some real acting. I mean, I know it’s a teen drama, but it’s not Club.”
 
“Wow,” Jared said, and couldn’t decide if he was happy or just on the verge of an anxiety attack.
 
“Just,” Alexis put out her palm, “just read through the pilot and stuff when they send it over. It’s good, you’ll see.”
 
“Will do,” Chad said. “Although you know you’ve jinxed us. Whenever Padalecki and I try out for the same role, neither of us get it.”
 
“That is true,” Jared said, then scowled. “Efron.”
 
“I hate that guy,” Chad said.
 
Alexis rolled her eyes. “Let it go already,” she said. “Besides, it’s time to celebrate.”
 
She was right, the script was good, and the casting director was seriously interested in having both Jared and Chad read for it. It was a teen drama, but it was a step up from Club, and it didn’t require near the publicity work that Club demanded. It looked like Jared and Chad would be flying right to LA during August break to audition.

Jensen liked the script, and spent several nights reading lines with Jared. Between getting ready for the audition and wrapping up the tour, summer was fading fast, when all Jared wanted it to do was last. He knew he and Jensen wouldn’t be able to see as much of each other once tour was over, especially if he was shooting on a new show.
 
For now, he tried to enjoy every minute, and let the future sort itself out.

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