I’ve had this idea in the back of my head for awhile now and deancasheadcanons birthday seemed like the perfect time to actually write it.
Jensen fixes the audience with his trademark grumpy look, holding it as they laugh with delight. “Old Man Ackles” they call him sometimes, he’s seen it on Twitter. But it works out well for him: He can answer–or not answer–any question with just a look.
He sneaks a check of his watch. Just a few minutes left in this panel. It’s going great, but he knows there’ll barely be time for a quick snack before the next round of photo ops and autographs. Even though it means time away from his family, he loves these cons. There’s no denying the money is good, but it’s more than that. He loves the energy of the crowd, the enthusiasm and support they have for the show and for each other. It’s still hard for him to wrap his head around the touching stories the fans share, to grasp the way the show, his character, and somehow even Jensen himself, have brought them courage and hope and a reason to keep fighting.
He glances at Jared, deftly handling the current question about Sam’s journey to cure Dean of the Mark. It comes so easily to Jared, with his ability to engage with anyone, always genuine and earnest. It’s one of the things Jensen most admires about him. Misha is the same way, always feeding off the energy of the crowd, who adores every crazy thing he does or says. Jensen works to suppress a smile remembering the way Misha crashed their panel last con asking a question in that ridiculous India-Russian accent.
It doesn’t come as easily to him. Not because he doesn’t care, but because he does. He takes this responsibility seriously, working hard—along with the entire cast– to make sure each fan leaves feeling they’ve had a meaningful moment. The last thing he wants to do is upset the fans and that can leave him hesitatant and second-guessing himself. It’s gotten better over the years, but sometimes he still gets caught up trying to be diplomatic and he knows it reads as distant and closed off.
He re-focuses his thoughts as the crowd applauds Jared’s response. Probably only time for a few more questions. Using his hand to shield his eyes from the bright lights that prevent him from seeing past the edge of the stage, he turns to the next person in line, just as the volunteer hands her the microphone.
“Hi, I was just wondering whether you saw any chances for romance for your characters?”
A ripple of response moves across the crowd. Some clapping, some booing, and a lot of uncomfortable silence. Damn, they’d nearly made it without having to field a “shipping question”. Jensen tries to keep his face neutral. He’s never understood this whole thing. Yes, there was an intensity between him and Misha in some of the earlier seasons. Hell, it had taken him by surprise, the way the set seemed to narrow down to just the two of them during their scenes. But the idea of a relationship between the two characters? Ridiculous.
“Ok,” he says, trying to keep the mood light. "Let’s break this down. This is Dean Winchester we’re talking about, right?“ He turns to the crowd, gesturing to himself. They cheer.
"First of all, he’d have to bail on dates to like, wipe out vampire nests or something, which isn’t exactly conducive to a good relationship.” The crowd laughs. “So he’d have to be with somebody who understands the entire supernatural world. And that’s no good because then that person would be at risk, right? Like, all Dean’s friends die.” He hears a couple of people yell out Charlie’s name and he raises an eyebrow in silent agreement.
“So okay, now you need somebody who knows about the supernatural world and I guess, can’t be killed?” He smirks, but the crowd is silent now, hanging on his every word. Wait, where was he going with this? “Dean has done some terrible things,” he adds, “like murder and torture and oh, let’s not forget being a demon. Not exactly the greatest match.com bio.” That gets a few laughs.
“So, the odds of Dean finding somebody who knows about this and understands–” The pause is brief but it feels like it stretches out for minutes as something in his mind shifts and adjusts. “I’m just saying the odds aren’t good,” he finishes lamely, turning to Jared who knows to take over with Sam’s answer, seamlessly picking up where Jensen left off.
He feels a wave of panic move through him. How has he never seen it before? Only one person meets those criteria. (Ok, only one person who isn’t related to Dean, he amends.) One who has been there all along, standing by Dean’s side, ready to fight for him and sacrifice for him and forgive him time and time again.
Jared glances at him as they wrap up the panel and Jensen gives him the barest I’m fine shake of the head. But he isn’t. He’s replaying a million interactions in his head, all of them re-framed by this new realization.
He waves and smiles to the crowd, even jams with Rob and the band for a minute before signing the banners and waving one last time on his way offstage.
“Jensen,” Jared calls to him, “You okay?”
Jensen doesn’t answer, just keeps going until he finds Misha, sprawled in a chair in the green room. Misha looks up from his phone, smiles that bright smile he always seems to have for Jensen, but it disappears when he sees the look on Jensen’s face. He stands and takes a step toward him. “What’s wrong?”
Jensen puts a hand to his mouth, then says with something akin to awe: “I ship it.”