Chapter 16: A Thousand Pages Of Memories.

"All the world's new again,

All the light is on me and I'm whole again.

Everything is good now,

Everything shall begin with you in my arms now."

There were several instances in Jensen's life that he hadn't any books to read. He realized that those were in his darkest times of life, when hardships had driven him to the streets or to the brink of death. But he had always found his way back to the pages of pure imagination and immersed himself in it. There had been trials along the way, but Jensen always had his way of escaping the pain for a while.

He had found the battered copy of the book that had brought Jared to him. As he held it in his hands and gently caressed the cover, he smiled at the memory of Jared, searching ever so carefully for that book and the concentration on his face. Jensen remembered that he was thinner than a stick then and was two minutes away from being homeless, but now when he looked in the mirror at the fuller face looking back at him, he always wondered if it had all been a dream. There were still so many things that woke Jensen up in the still of the darkness, fears and inner demons that would scare him, but Jared was always there to hold him closer and Jensen would feel Jared chase the demons away.

Jensen stood up from the bed he was sitting on in Sherri's room and walked to the window, hundreds of flowers were almost blocking the Jensen's view of the garden, a testament to Harold's gardening skill, but Jensen could see it all in his mind, the way they always wanted it. It had been a childhood fantasy, and now Jensen had it. He finally had it. Jensen knew that every time he looked back on his life, he would always see Jared there. Through the rape, the beatings, the sorrows and uncertainties, Jared would always be there.

A woman's voice broke Jensen's train of thought and he looked round to see Devan standing there in a beautiful sundress. "Jensen, darling, it's about time we get going, we're going to be late," she said and Jensen nodded. "Just give me a minute, huh?" he said and opened a drawer to put the book in. Devan saw the cover and her smile widened. She came up to Jensen and looked down at the book. "That was it, wasn't it?" she said and Jensen didn't need to ask her what she was talking about. Before he put the book into the drawer, he showed it to her. She took it, opened it and smelled the pages. Sighing happily, she handed it back to him. "Filled with good memories," she said and Jensen put it into the drawer. He knew that Devan loved her books even more than he loved them and he knew that this was one book that she would never forget. He hugged her and she hugged back.

"It was because of you that I'm where I am today," Jensen said quietly and Devan laughed as she pulled back. "Darling, if anything, it's because of Jared that you are where you are today. I merely supplied the book and venue," she said and the both of them chuckled but she held his face in her hand, "Jensen, you and Jared were fated for each other. You always have been and always will be, in this life and the next. remember that." He smiled down at the woman nodded. Whether she had liked it or not, Jensen had thought of her as his mother-figure, going to her for counsel and a kind word when Jared was away for work. She had helped Jensen through the first few weeks of his relationship with Jared and had always been there for him.

She inclined her head to the window and smirked, "It's hell out there, you know," she said and Jensen laughed. "Are you kidding?" he said, "The last few months have been hell!" and he was right, Devan knew that the last few months had been hell. The planning, the sleepless nights, the arguments. Personally, she was happy that this day was finally here.

They descended the stairs arm in arm and just as they got to the bottom, Megan skipped in with a wide smile on her face. She was in a beautiful dress of light pink that made her look like the lady she was turning into. "Jen, Jen, c'mon, they're all waiting for you," she said and Jensen swallowed. He was suddenly nervous to open the doors to the backyard. He turned to Devan and lowered his voice, "I'm nervous," he admitted and Devan shook her head. "Jensen, darling, if you weren't nervous, I would be questioning your sanity. Today's your big day, Jen, live in the moment," she said and Jensen felt courage set in. Devan and Megan went to the doors and put a hand on one of the door handles each. "Ready?" Megan said excitedly and Jensen took a moment, but nodded determinedly. As the doors opened, Jensen felt his life change once again, this time, he knew that everything was good, that everything was new again, that this was just the start.

He stepped into the sunlight of the backyard and there was a boom of applause. Friends and well wishers, Jared's family and a few reporters. That was all Jensen had asked for and that's what was given to him. he didn't want something over the top or flamboyant and that's exactly what he got. On a stage set at the end of the backyard, Jared stood, looking more like a mirage of beauty than a human. Jensen's breath was always taken away when he saw Jared, his love for him renewing itself over and over again, but this time was special, this time was different. As he walked to the stage, he smiled at the people there, shook hands with some, gave a one armed hug to a few. Finally when he reached the stage, he looked up at Jared and Jared looked down at him with an amused smile.

"Aren't we Mr. Confidence today," Jared teased and Jensen smiled sheepishly. "Devan helped," he said and Jared laughed before kissing Jensen's forehead, "Still the shy boy I met in a bookstore," he said and Jensen blushed before turning to the crowd. He felt Jared put a reassuring arm around his waist, hidden from the view of the audience. Jensen sucked in a breath and began the speech he had rehearsed so many times before.

"Thank you all for coming out here today. It's been a long and hard few months, but today is finally the day. Before anything else, I would like to thank Mr. Jeffrey and Chastity for helping me through all the finer details these past few months and for holding their patience with me. I would like to thank Sherri, Jeff and Megan for the constant support and for all the good memories that they've given me. I would like to thank Devan for everything she's done for me, without her I wouldn't even be alive right now." Jensen paused here a minute, emotions taking hold of him and as he cleared his throat and blinked away tears, he was met with an encouraging round of applause. Jared's hand on him tightened a little and he felt Jared's smile on him. He breathed in once and composed himself and continued. "Finally I want to thank Jared," he said and glanced up at him, "Without whom I would never have found a family." People stood and clapped and a few flashes of light went off.

Suddenly there was a tug on Jensen's pants and he looked down and chuckled. He picked up the young girl with the brunette curls and gave her cheek a kiss. "Wanna cut the ribbon, munchkin?" he asked and she squealed in delight at that. She had begged Jared to let her do it before, but Jared had said no. Jensen on the other hand didn't have the heart to say no to those big green, puppy dog eyes. "Exploiter," Jared said, but leaned down and kissed the girl's cheek. She laughed and hugged Jensen tighter. "Daddy's being mean," she said and giggled into Jensen's collar as Jared stuck out his tongue at her. "It's okay, Marie," Jensen said, "I'll get him later."

They took the oversized scissors from the table nearby and Jensen, Marie and Jared held it in their hands. Turning to the crowd, Jensen called out, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I declare Memories restaurant and bookstore now, open!" As Jensen said the last word, they closed the scissors down together and the boom of cheers, camera lights and clapping nearly blew Jensen away. Jared kissed Jensen and Marie laughed and bobbed up and down in Jensen's arms.

Jensen smiled at his husband and at his daughter. His husband, his daughter. His life. And Jensen would always remember this moment; the start of a new thousand pages of memories.

The End.