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When Jensen was living in Houston and working as a physical therapist and trying to figure out if that was what he really wanted to do with his life and if not what did he want to do instead, he discussed it with four people: his sister, his roommate Kevin, Kevin's girlfriend, and Chris. (He did not, oddly enough, talk about it in any depth with his boyfriend, mostly because Michael didn't seem to care.) During the four days it took for him to make up his mind to move to Nashville and try for a music career, he just talked to Chris and Kevin. Chris thought it was a better idea than staying in Houston and stagnating. Kevin made Jensen think seriously about the cons as well as the pros.

And then Jensen gave up a sure thing to chase a pipe dream anyway.

After almost nine months he still couldn't say for sure whether or not he'd actually made the better choice, but he could say that he wasn't stagnating, he wasn't bored, and he was kind of enjoying himself.

He thought about that the whole way home from Aly's bar. Moving to Nashville and trying to break into an incredibly capricious and cliquish field, without any guarantee of success or advancement or even a single paycheck, was one of the biggest risks he'd ever taken. And it hadn't yet knocked him flat. And it made him think about other risks he might take and other dreams he might chase and other lives he might lead.

And other relationships he might want.

In the couple of weeks they'd known each other, Jensen had never thought of Jared as potential boyfriend material, although a small part of him wondered idly what things might be like if Jared were gay. But now, knowing what he knew - now he was turning it over in his head, the idea that Matt might be his Houston, his sure thing, and Jared might be his musician's insecure pipe dream.

Because what else could he be? A boy who identified as straight, even if he had "fooled around" (and what Jensen wouldn't give to voyeuristically know what exactly that meant) with one of his best friends and liked it. A boy who to all appearances thought of Jensen in purely platonic terms. A boy who might run for the hills if Jensen made a move. And yet, with all that, a boy who liked him, liked spending time with him, liked teasing him, liked talking to him. A boy with things in common - not just where they'd both come from - because Matt was a Texas boy too, even if he had left after high school and never really gone back - but movies they liked, books they'd read, jokes that made them laugh, music they listened to, people they admired.

Jensen liked Matt - he was smart, funny, interesting, cute, a great kisser, good in bed. He was nice, and being with him was nice, and Jensen was pretty sure that their casual dating would eventually turn into a real relationship, and both of them might be very happy. They'd never discussed it - they'd only known each other two weeks, so it was a little soon - but Jensen had a feeling he knew where it was going. And that was fine, it was easy, and he really couldn't complain.

But as much as he liked Matt, there was something about Jared he liked more, and he wanted the chance to push it to see where it went. He didn't just want nice. He didn't want easy. He wanted more than that.

He wanted Jared.

But in order to have Jared - in order to even begin to try and get him - Jensen needed to break it off with Matt. And that was another way that Matt was his Houston, because Jensen hadn't come to a decision on his own. He'd had to get someone else's advice. And just as when he was seriously considering leaving a solid job and a city where he had a place, he went to Chris.

"You wanna do what?" Chris said, incredulous, after Jensen had laid out his dilemma. Although to be honest, it wasn't much of a dilemma, because he already knew what he had to do, he just needed some help figuring out how to do it. Jensen had never broken it off with someone when things seemed to be going well - all his past relationships had either dissolved by mutual agreement or he'd been broken up with. "Boy's straight, Jensen, come on."

"I don't know, Chris. He told me something in confidence - and no, I'm not going to tell you - "

"I know what 'in confidence' means, dumbass."

"Just... listen to me. I think he's kinda closeted. I think he's really bi, he just hasn't figured it out yet."

"I think you're projecting. I think you're crazy. I don't know what's gotten into you but you're not acting like yourself. You wanna give up a guy who likes you, or at least likes to fuck you - and don't lie to me, Jen, I know you like getting laid on a regular basis - and you're gonna chase after some straight boy. You are lookin' to hit a brick wall, my friend."

"Jared's my Nashville. I want to do it."

"He's your what? Have you lost your damn mind?"

Jensen rubbed the back of his neck. He loved Chris more than anyone he wasn't related to and he'd told Chris things he'd never told another human being - he came out to Chris first - but having to explain how he knew Jared was the better choice made him want to crawl under his bed and not come out until Chris left the apartment. He didn't want to have to explain it because he wasn't sure he could.

"When I left Houston and came here, which you told me was the right decision, by the way, I left a sure thing. I had a pretty good job, I was working on a career, I had some friends, I had a life, I had a boyfriend, whatever. It was easy. Being a musician and a songwriter and doing that for a living is like a pipe dream. It's fucking hard, you know that - "

"I told you that."

" - and there's no guarantee I'll ever be anything other than overworked and underappreciated and broke. But if I can do it, the rewards are amazing. I'm not even talking money, I'm talking being able to do something I really love. My grandma would say music feeds my soul. Physical therapy didn't. I liked it ok and I was pretty good at it for the time I'd been doing it, but I didn't want to do it for the rest of my life. So I came here. And I'm working on this ridiculous dream I have, I don't know if I'm getting anywhere, but I'm actually kind of happy."

"So... you like Matt and you're pretty good at being with him, but this sounds stupid but Jared feeds your soul?" Chris cocked an eyebrow.

"Kind of. Not really. It sounded better in my head. I mean Jared's a huge fucking risk and I want to take it anyway."

"You do realize that if he panics and tells you to fuck off, you're probably not gonna be able to get back together with Matt, right?"

"Yeah. I know. I figure it's only been two weeks, it's not like we're picking out china patterns or anything. We've only been on two dates."

"I dunno, man. You don't really want my advice, do you."

"I kind of do. Look. Chris. I love you like a brother, and I trust you to tell me if you think I'm about to do something really moronic."

"You're about to do something really moronic."

"I know." Jensen sighed. "If it backfires, I'm fucked. And you're right, I don't really want your advice about Jared. But what I do need your help with is figuring out what to say to Matt. I can't tell him I want to chase some guy who might not want me. Or any guy." He made a frustrated noise. "I like the guy. I want to stay friends with him. Oh shit." Something just occurred to him. "Danneel's going to kill me."

"I think Danneel's the least of your worries here, Jen."

"You've met her. She'll kill me. Shit. Well, help me figure out what to tell Matt and then help me figure out what to tell her."

"I'm not getting between you and Danneel. You're on your own with that one."

"Coward."

Chris shrugged. "The going rate for assistance in breaking it off with one guy is two nights of karaoke, and I reserve the right to say 'I told you so' if it goes tits-up."

"Deal. Now what do I say, and where do I say it?"

"A public place that's not the coffeeshop. It shouldn't be that big a deal. It's not like you're splitting up after two years. Just tell him you don't think it's going to work. He's too busy, you're too busy, you want different things, I don't know."

"That's not a lot of help."

"So tell him you met someone else." Chris smirked. Jensen smacked him on the arm. "What? It's true."

"I'll tell him I met a dorky, closeted mechanic. Yeah, that'll go over well."

"Do you want my advice or not? You don't have to tell him the whole truth. Tell him you don't think it's gonna work out because you met someone else, but you still want to be friends. See where that takes you. Just don't lie to him - I know you well enough to know that'll give you guilt. And I don't wanna live with you if you're gonna be all emo and angsty."

"'Emo and angsty'?" Now it was Jensen's turn to cock an eyebrow. "Do I look like - shit, who's the reigning King of Emo?"

"Beats me. Was that good enough advice for you? Can we play Madden now? I'm itching to kick your ass."

"Yeah, yeah. You talk big, but can you walk big."

"I can walk all over you, boy." He laughed at his horrible backwoods accent and then sobered. "Just tell me one thing."

"What?" Jensen said, as he found the game and switched the PlayStation on.

"You're not usually aggressive like this. I mean, you were always the shy one. You waited for people to come to you. So what's with the sudden attack plan?"

Jensen sat back down on the couch and thought about it. "I don't know. Maybe being with Matt, it being kind of nice and kind of easy, gave me some confidence. And I have to learn how to network and get my name out there and that kind of thing, and I guess I'm coming out of my shell some."

"Yeah, but not like this. This is like... this is how I work."

"So I'm channeling my inner Kane." Jensen chuckled. "It works for you, why not me?"

"Huh. Well, hell, maybe you won't crash and burn. I don't wanna hear you getting busy in the middle of the night, though. Got it?"

Jensen flushed slightly with embarrassment and laughed at the same time. "No noisy fucking, I promise. Now pick your team so I can start winning."



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