Not much surprised Jeffery Dean Morgan anymore, after being alive for centuries he had pretty much seen it all but having Chad arrive before Jared and then hop around boasting about Danneel finally giving into his charms was certainly something new. ‘The little fur ball really is douche,’ the dragon concluded.
“Someone really needs to talk to Danneel about her taste in bunnies if she’s shacking up with Chad of all people,” Jeffery’s mate Chris sneered out. He and Chad definitely were not what one would call friends, especially when one considered the number of times that Chris had tried to barbeque the rabbit for being a real pain in the ass. On the other hand, most of those fire-breathing moments were well deserved since Chad never shied away from deliberately annoying Chris.
“Hey man, don’t be hating the love skills that you in all of your centuries of living could never hope to have,” Chad mocked the ancient creature. “I can’t help it that the ladies just looove the Chad,” and he waggled his eyebrows up and down suggestively while preening his long ears.
Chris rolled his eyes at Chad and sniffed with utter disdain. “Yes, because I am simply green with envy at your sleazy ways.” Sarcasm literally dripped from his voice. “I don’t need questionable charms like yours, rabbit; I have my own skills. After all I did get Jeffery as my mate.” The bronze dragon pointed out with a superior air about him. “No one could hope for a more loving and beloved mate and I didn’t have to act like a complete douche to win him over.”
“Hey!” Chad’s whiskers bristled as he finally realised that he was being insulted. “I oughta…”
Jeff knew that it was time for him to step in before Chris attempted to fry Chad… again. “Alright, you two, that is enough!” Jeffery rumbled as he climbed to his feet and stretched out his massive black wings. “Chris, you know that Jared likes Chad so I ask you, do you really want to face those puppy eyes if you toast his best friend?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. As one of the elder dragons he wasn’t supposed to have favourites especially outside of the dragons themselves, but that was before he had met a young moose that acted more like a bouncy puppy out in the park than a majestic creature of the forest.
Despite Jeff’s best attempts to ignore him, the moose had wormed his way into the dragon’s heart. Jared was something special and he only hoped that someday soon his wonderful friend found that special someone to help him see how truly unique and exceptional he was before the cruel words of his herd destroyed his spirit beautiful forever.
Chris did indeed know the power of Jared’s puppy eyes, and it was beyond him how a grown moose could make such sad eyes without making himself look silly. Jeff had tried several times to explain it to his mate but finally gave up, accepting the fact that despite his intelligence, Chris would just never understand. “Then I guess it’s a good thing Jared only uses his powers to keep the bunny here from being fried.”
As if simply speaking of Jared had the magic to summon him the trio smiled as they heard Jared’s animated chatter filling the air as he approached them through the trees. However it was the answering voice, lower in tone than the moose’s, that had Jeffery and Chris exchanging curious looks while Chad’s eyes narrowed with suspicion.
“Who’s that with Jaybird?” the bunny demanded to know just as Jared came into view and he was shocked to see an unfamiliar unicorn walking next to him. Chad disliked him on the spot. ‘I don’t care who he is, if he hurts Jared I’m unleashing Danneel on him!’ Chad silently vowed.
Seeing the fire of challenge combined with a hint of jealousy appear in the rabbit’s eyes, Chris had to admit that one of the few things he actually liked about Chad was his loyalty to Jared. “Don’t worry, Jensen is mostly harmless,” he grinned at Chad.
Without taking his eyes off of his friend, Chad snorted. “Yeah, well, it’s the mostly part I’m worried about and you should be too, if you have any sense. Danneel is vicious when protecting her moose-puppy. In fact, she can be downright scary,” Chad shivered in remembrance of the first time he had met Jared. Being his normal outspoken and flippant self even when he was wee kit, he’d made the mistake of hurting little Jared’s feelings and Danneel might have been young as well, but she already had a mean left paw and sharp teeth. Chad still had the teeth marks on his right ear.
No one with any brain in his head wanted to be on Danneel’s bad side; Chris had once stated that she was actually a huge fiery dragon trapped in a soft little bunny’s body and that she cleverly used her smallness and cuteness to her advantage.
“Jared, good to see you, my friend! I was getting worried when Chad beat you here,” Jeffery spoke up breaking the moment between the two.
“JD!” Jared’s eyes lit up as they landed on the dragon and he cheerfully bounced over to his old friend.
The air filled with Jeff’s laughter as Jared skidded to a stop next to him and gave his usually greeting of nuzzling against Jeff’s side. The dragon flashed a smile filled with long shiny teeth as he took in the unicorn standing just a few feet away and glaring ferociously at those gathered too close his moose. Jeff cocked his head as he realised that Jensen was jealous, very jealous in fact and then he felt a kernel of happiness start building within him as he understood. ‘He’s the one! This unicorn is the one Jared’s been waiting for all this time.’
Jeff watched the way Jensen never took his eyes off the moose as he greeted Chris and Chad with his usual enthusiasm. 'He might be good match for Jared; he’s already showing the strong possessive side one gets when around their mate.’ Deciding to explore the situation further, the dragon nodded at the unicorn. “Jensen, I didn’t know you knew our moose-puppy.”
The sight of Jared tucked snugly against JDM already had Jensen bristling but when he heard the dragon use his moose’s nickname Jensen was sure that his fur was standing up on its ends like porcupine quills. “We just met.” Jensen managed to force the words out from between gritted teeth; he really did not like the idea of Jared being so close to anyone but him.
Chad couldn't understand how Jared could curl up against JDM's side and not get flambéed by a rather overprotective Chris. It was a well-known fact that dragons were very possessive over what they considered to be their treasure and nothing in their lives was more highly regard and protected than their mate. It was a nice sentiment and every now and again Chad wondered if he’d ever feel that way about someone but then he’d remember how much fun he had chasing the ladies.
Time and time again the rabbit had watched as Jared got cuddles from the big bad golden dragon without a whiff of BBQ in the air. "I don't get it, man, how come Jared is allowed to get away with that?” He pointed to the moose, who was currently rubbing his antlers against the soft leathery underside of the dragon’s wing. “You nearly made rabbit stew outta me for daring to sniff one of your shiny baubles, so how come Jaybird can get away with that kind of stuff?" Chad asked Chris with his nose twitching indignantly.
Chris let out a deep breath, smoke billowing up from his snout in perfectly shaped rings. There was no denying that at first he’d had a few issues with the way Jeff and Jared showed their friendship for one another but he’d come to accept that it meant nothing and he tried to explain that to the rabbit. "Have you ever tried to tell Jared no? The first time I did the poor kid looked like a kicked puppy when he flashed me those big sad eyes and I couldn't stay mad. Plus I know that Jeffery's heart is completely mine just as mine is his, and I also know that he sees Jared as nothing but his hatchling. Just between you and me,” and the dragon lowered his voice, “I think Jared needs a strong father figure in his life to offset his pushy mother.”
Chad laughed heartily, his back foot thumping the ground as he agreed with Chris’ spot-on opinion of Jared’s mother.
Hearing Chris’ heartfelt words about the love he shared with Jeff softened Jensen’s jealousy a little, not a lot but a little; he liked the fact that Jared had such good friends. From what he’d learned about Jared on their journey to the dragon’s compound, he didn’t fit in with his herd simply because he wanted to have friends outside of his own kind. Jensen had actually come to a halt in the middle of the path as he tried to understand how anyone could treat Jared like that.
“Jensen, are you okay?” Jared asked as he wandered away from JD’s side and back to his new friend where he nuzzled the unicorn’s neck; as much as he normally liked getting cuddles from the dragon suddenly they just didn’t feel the same as being next to Jensen.
The moment Jared was back with him Jensen felt himself relax and he welcomed the moose’s touch; this was where Jared belonged by his side and only his side. “I’m doing much better now; I don’t like you getting cuddles from anyone but me.” He was surprised by how easily he admitted his feelings for his moose.
That unexpected revelation had Jared’s eyes widening as hope bloomed in his chest. “We haven’t cuddled yet,” Jared pointed out quietly, “But I don’t want to cuddle with anyone but you either,” Jared confessed in a soft voice as he leaned against his unicorn.
Jensen felt a powerful surge of want fill him as he heard Jared admit that he was the only one he wanted to cuddle with, and with a wide grin he moved to nuzzle Jared only to feel a sharp bite against his ankle. “Ow!”
“Chad!” Jared was astounded by the rabbit’s behaviour; he couldn’t believe that Chad would bite Jensen. “What was that for?”
Ruffling up his fur to look bigger and more threatening, Chad glared up at the unicorn making the moves on his best friend. “Hold it! There will be no cuddling of any kind! I may be loose and sleep with as many lady bunnies as I can but Jaybird is special and unless you are dead serious about him there will be no cuddling of any kind happening here! Don’t make me unleash Danneel on you,” Chad threatened, “cos I will if I have to!”
Jensen wasn’t sure what a ‘Danneel’ was but he didn’t think it was that much of a threat compared to the fiery breath of the dragons. “Listen, fluff ball,” he very gently poked the rabbit with the tip of his horn, “I am serious about Jared, I may have just met him but a unicorn knows who our mate is the moment we meet them and I know that Jared is it for me. So if I want to cuddle with my mate, I’m damn well going cuddle, snuggle and nuzzle my mate!” Jensen declared passionately.
Concentrating on glaring down at Chad and with his chest panting furiously from his passionate declaration, Jensen almost missed Jared’s soft question, “I’m your mate?”
Turning Jensen’s scowl faded instantly to be replaced with something much softer and more intimate. “Yeah, Jay, you’re my mate. Is that okay with you? Are you happy about that?” Sudden fear gripped Jensen, what if he’d read the signals wrong? What if Jared didn’t want to be mated to him?
Any doubts Jensen might have had were washed away when he had a full-grown moose tackled him to the ground and began covering him with kisses. “Are you kidding me? Of course I’m happy that you’re my mate! You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to find you and you Jensen, you are everything I could ever want in a mate.” Then it was Jared’s turn to look worried as that pesky inner voice made itself known again by reminding him that he was making a fool of himself. Jared ignored it as best he could, but just in case he asked, “Are you sure you want to be stuck with me for a mate? I’m not really the greatest catch, you know; someone as beautiful as you, well… I’m sure you could do better.”
That was the moment Jensen found himself mentally destroying those who’d made his Jared doubt himself; in his mind he was stabbing them over and over again with his horn. Shaking his head and forcing the images to the very back of his mind he hastened to reassure his precious moose. “Jared, please believe me when I say that you are perfect in my eyes and I know in my heart that I could never ask for a better mate. I find your puppiness absolutely adorable and as far as I’m concerned, I hope you never change,” Jensen murmured as he nuzzled the side of Jared’s neck.
As he watched his best friend bloom and come to life from the soft words and gentle touches, Chad realised that he was witnessing the birth of something very special. “I hate to admit it but they are kinda cute together, you know in a sickeningly sweet kinda way.”
“Yeah they are” Chris spoke up before his partner, agreeing with Chad. “But at the same time have you thought about how Jared’s herd is going to react to this news? Or all the other moose for that matter? It’s no secret that, I mean let’s face it, besides Jared, they’re a rather stuck-up bunch who firmly believe that they are the only race that matters,” he pointed out regretfully.
Wisps of white smoke escaped JDM’s nostrils as he let out a deep sigh. “It’s not going to be easy for them to become accepted amongst his own kind and Jared is going to need all the support we can give him, but most importantly he’s going to need Jensen’s love to help him along.” Jeff’s heart went out to Jared; his favourite moose was in for a rough time once his herd found out about the two of them.
When he talked about it much later Jared would admit that he truly dreaded heading back to his herd, he knew there was going to be some very obnoxious moose. He had been so thankful and highly amused when Danneel showed up shortly after Jared and Jensen had arrived. Ask anyone present at the time and they will all tell you that it had been so much fun to watch as the feminine little bunny, which barely came up to Jensen’s ankles, gave him a detailed list of just what she would do to him if the unicorn dared to break the heart of her moose-puppy. Jared would later confess that her very descriptive uses for Jensen’s horn were really rather imaginative, to say the least.
There wasn’t a soul present in the dragon’s glade who knew that a unicorn could pale so fast. In fact Jensen let out a tiny whimper and actually wobbled on his feet for a moment, making Chris think he might just faint. ‘Do unicorns pass out?’ he wondered to himself even as he prepared to step in if necessary. He was pretty sure he could do mouth-to-mouth without too much flame involved.
When it was time for the little gathering to break up, Jensen had made it clear that he was personally seeing Jared home; he wasn’t ready to be parted from his moose just as Jared wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Jensen either. Jared glanced nervously at Jensen. “I’m sorry in advance for how my family is going to act,” Jared whispered as they grew closer to the moose lands.
Jensen could feel the almost overwhelming tension that was filling Jared and he didn’t like it one little bit; he should be happy not sad. He should be overjoyed that he’d finally found his heart’s one desire and he should be looking forward to celebrating his good fortune with family and friends. Before they left JDM, who knew exactly what they would be facing, had taken him aside and without pulling any punches had warned him that Jared was the outcast in his herd.
The ancient dragon explained that Jared was cruelly shunned for daring to befriend other races, and as for bringing home a mate that wasn’t a moose, well he was afraid that Jared would be lucky if he were even allowed back in his herd’s compound. It made Jensen slightly nauseous to think that any family could possibly chose their public image over their own flesh and blood, but seeing how upset Jared was becoming the closer they got to his home, Jensen wasn’t so sure.
“Jared! Where have you been, young moose? I hope you haven’t been bringing shame to us by hanging out with lesser creatures?” the alpha male of the herd grumbled in a deep voice as he stalked towards Jared.
Jared trembled as Mark grew closer, the alpha frightened him his hatred of other races was well known and documented and the rest of the herd followed his leave.
Mark’s eyes narrowed as he took notice of the unicorn standing next to Jared. “And who is this? You know we don’t allow riff-raff on our lands,” Mark reminded Jared in a snotty tone even as he cast a sneering glance at Jensen. The look on his face screamed that the unicorn wasn’t even worthy of being the dirt beneath his hooves.
Jared stiffened as the impotent rage that he had been carrying deep inside him for so long finally erupted in all its power and glory. It was one thing to look at him with disdain and to treat him like he was a freak, but there was no way in hell that he was going to let them treat Jensen as though he were anything less than wonderful! “Don’t you dare talk about Jensen like that, you pretentious bully! He’s positively amazing! You aren’t even half the animal that he is and I am proud to be his mate!”
The moment the words were out of his mouth Jared knew he had said the wrong thing as horrified gasps and shocked whispers spread throughout the herd. Looking around frantically he finally spotted his family, they were huddled together behind Mark and each one of them was looking at him with a mixture of disbelief and betrayal.
Mark raked his eyes over Jared with utter contempt. “I should have known that you would bring about more shame to this herd; that is all you have ever been good for. You have been nothing but a complete disappointment to this herd since the day you were calved. As far as I am concerned we should have disowned you long, long ago.” Mark turned his sneer on to Jensen. “And as far as you are concerned, unicorn,” the scorn he felt for the beautiful creature dripped from his voice, “you are not welcome here.”
Jensen felt a growl rumble deep in his chest as he watched Jared’s eyes lose more and more of their shine the longer he was berated by Mark. Having heard more than enough he moved to stand protectively in front of Jared. “Don’t you dare speak to Jared like that!” He scanned the assembled herd. “You all think you’re so special when you’re nothing but great bullies! You should all be lucky to have someone like Jared as a part of your family! He’s brilliant and funny and caring and if none of you can see that then you are nothing but blind fools.”
Jared felt his heart pounding like thunder in his chest as he listened to Jensen defend him so passionately; his mate was amazing and as he felt the love pouring off the unicorn it gave him the strength he needed to take a good, hard look at his herd. Lifting his head the moose caught his parent’s eyes before focusing on Mark. “If you can’t accept that Jensen is my mate, if you can’t understand that it is possible to fall in love with someone outside of the herd, then I don’t want to be a part of this herd anymore,” Jared declared in a firm voice and he realised with shock that he actually meant it.
While it was true that he would miss his herd and especially his family, he knew that with his beloved unicorn he could live without them. But he couldn’t live without Jensen by his side, the love he felt for his mate, the other half of his heart that he’d waited for for so very long, that love outweighed all other considerations and he knew that he would chose Jensen over anyone and everyone.
“Jared, honey, surely you don’t mean that!” Sharon, his mom, spoke up although she didn’t approach him, preferring to stand with her mate and other children, partially hidden behind Mark. “Why don’t you stop all of this foolishness and come home; we’ll forget all this happened and in the morning we’ll start looking again, okay? There are plenty of more suitable mates for you here and you know it. I promise that we will all forgive you if you denounce this...” She nodded her antlers in Jensen’s direction, “…this unicorn.”
With a deep sigh, Jared shook his head. “I’m sorry mom, but I won’t give up Jensen, not for you, not for anyone. He is my mate and I love him.”
“Jared, son, please lis…”
Mark interrupted Jared’s father. “Then you leave us with no choice, Jared, you are no longer a part of this herd,” he declared in a strong voice.
From the moment he’d arrived at the moose compound Jared knew that that edict had been coming but it still hurt to finally hear the words; he was now homeless.
As if he was reading his mate’s mind Jensen gently butted his head against Jared’s, “You aren’t homeless, silly, you will always have a home with me and the others,” Jensen pointed out softly.
While the sadness didn’t leave Jared’s eyes completely and Jensen knew that would take time, it did lessen quite a bit. “Yeah, I have you,” Jared agreed, his eyes softening as he regarded Jensen. That look lasted for only a moment before fear suddenly appeared in his eyes as he asked in a worried tone, “Will your herd welcome me? Us?”
Jensen snorted happily. “Trust me, my mom is gonna love you! If you’re not careful she will baby you like there’s no tomorrow.”
Jared wasn’t going to lie, that sounded wonderful.
“Jensen! Where have you been, young unicorn? Oh, who is your handsome friend? Hello, dear, I’m Donna, Jensen’s poor suffering mother.” That was the greeting Jensen and Jared received as they finally made their way into land of the unicorns.
Jensen positively beamed as he gazed with limpid eyes at Jared and stroked his horn across his antlers. Donna’s breath caught in her throat as she watched her son, she knew that look, it was how she looked at Alan. “Jensen? Is this strapping moose your mate?” She mentally crossed her hooves, having hoped for this moment for so long.
Jensen’s gaze remained fondly on his moose as he answered, “Yes, mom, this is Jared, my mate.”
Donna was simply beside herself at Jensen’s news. “Oh honey, I’m so happy to hear that! Jared, it is an honour to meet you; Welcome to the family. You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for this moment. I was beginning to lose hope that my little Jellybean would ever find a mate. Jared Oh I have so many stories to tell you about Jensen when he was a young unicorn.” Donna felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes; she was so happy that her baby had finally found his mate.
To his horror Jensen felt his cheeks heating up. “Mom! Please wait a couple of days before you start telling Jared my embarrassing stories and showing him my baby toys. I don’t want you scaring him off just yet!” Jensen pleaded.
Jared gently nudged Jensen with a teasing glint in his eyes. “Now Jensen, don’t be rude to your mother; I’m looking forward to hearing all about these awkward stories about you.”
Donna beamed at Jared and then turned to shoot her son a look. “I like him; you really lucked out on him, Jensen. I hope you know that.”
Jared sent Jensen an adoring look and gently corrected her. “No ma’am, it was me who lucked out. I thought I would be alone for the rest of my life and then this beautiful creature simply bowled me over.”
Jensen snorted with laughter as he remembered the way he and Jared had met. “That’s putting it mildly.”
Donna let out a happy coo. “Oh I can’t wait to tell your father, and your brother and sister and the rest of the family and the whole herd. This is indeed a happy day!”
Smiling Jensen rubbed his head against Jared’s, “Just watch,” he whispered. “Next she’s going to bring up giving her grandbabies.”
Sure enough the next words out of Donna’s mouth were, “Now, Jensen and Jared, let’s talk about the pitter-patter of little hooves, shall we?”
The ache in Jared’s heart caused by being kicked out of his herd and losing his family would take a long time to lessen and even with the passage of time it would always be there, tucked far, far away, but with the loving support of Jensen, his friends and his new family he would be able to get through anything.