The comic book world tends to be a much misunderstood one. Oh, sure, you have your fans and you have the people who not only don’t judge but out and out tolerate, but, to much of the world, if you like comics and you’re older than twelve, you’re considered just a little bit geeky if not downright strange. Jensen Ackles didn’t care, though. He already knew that he was a legitimate geek. He’d also take strange because, yeah, it was fitting. Hell, at this point, he was probably even just a little bit crazy.
Didn’t matter. He was just fine. The rest of the world could sit and spin because Jensen? He had it made. He’d always liked comics ever since his dad had bought him his first one at age six and, from there, it had morphed into a full-blown obsession. In his teenage years, Jensen had blown entire paychecks at the comic book store—new issues, collectibles, action figures—he’d wanted it all. He would have bought the whole store if he could have.
As he got older, he’d mellowed out—something, no doubt, that his parents were grateful for because if he would have kept up the pace, especially with the paychecks that he was hauling in now, he soon would have flooded out his own house and been forced to move his junk into theirs. Now, though, Jensen, while he still collected—probably always would—was a bit more selective. He still had copies of first editions lining the wall—he would have to be dying to give those up and even then he’d still probably fight for them—just a little bit crazy, not all the way, thank you—but the sheer mountains of merchandise from his youth were gone.
Well. Except for his own merchandise, of course. Jensen picked up the little green ball that usually smiled happily at him from the corner of his desk and squeezed it. Sometimes life just worked out that way: after a life-long obsession with the comic book world, when Jensen had grown up, he’d joined it. Only now, though, not only was he getting paid, which was a plus, but he was making his own comics, which was even better.
He didn’t care what the rest of the world thought.
The only thing was, Jensen had thought—back when he’d first started drawing—that he’d have more freedom than what he did. He never would have guessed, way back when, about all of the sheer politics that went into making comics and how it was “conform or else.” Even after he’d graduated from assisting—otherwise known as “being someone’s little ink and background bitch”—into a full fledged artist, Jensen had still had to deal with navigating the political waters of his publisher, Kripke Comics. The good news was that Eric Kripke, the owner of Kripke Comics and its main driving force, tended to be rather hands off. He generally just let Jensen do whatever he wanted with only a few “suggestions.” Jensen supposed that it was because of how much freedom that he’d enjoyed in the past that those suggestions rankled so much now.
He’d already caved to Kripke once. Small Small World, Jensen’s current work, if Jensen had had his way, would have been dark, dark, dark. Kripke, though, had been looking for a more kid-friendly approach, to be able to “mainstream” as it were so Jensen’s hopes of being able to explore his own angst—caused by the messy breakup with his last boyfriend—Jesus, had that really been five years ago?—had been stripped away. Instead of having his darkly ambiguous main character—is he evil or isn’t he—slipping through the seedy underworld and sleeping and stabbing his way to the top until he finally, probably, died, Jensen had, well, “Jared.”
Actually, Jensen was rather grateful to Kripke for that one. He knew that his original concept had been a self-indulgent one—more fit to wallow in than to publish—and, even if Jensen still missed not being able to draw the more “adult” parts, well, that was what doodling was for, right? So, because of Kripke, Jensen had, thankfully, not spent the past five years obsessing over his ex and just generally feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he’d spent it in the more upbeat world of Jared and his band of crazy but kid-friendly creatures. And, if Jensen happened to have a few other pictures of Jared that were hidden underneath the folders in the bottom of the third cabinet on the left, that was Jensen’s business and nobody else’s.
Because, yeah, Jared and his world had started off as a private little pity party for Jensen and while Jensen had dropped quite a few things—much of the tone, the seedy background, Jared’s underhanded motivations—there was one thing that Jensen had definitely not let go (not that Kripke would have had any clue, anyway—or, hell, probably even cared): Jared Padalecki, the main character of Jensen Ackles’ hit series Small Small World was, for all accounts and purposes, Jensen’s idea of the perfect man.
It was something that Jensen had never told anyone (not like he had many people to tell) and it was probably something that Jensen would take to his grave if he had the choice. He thought it was so damn obvious, though. He showed it every stroke of his pencil, every clean line of ink and every loving detailed application of color. How people didn’t know was beyond him. Jared was perfect in every way that mattered. Even if he was generally drawn in almost oversized button down plaid shirts and too loose jeans, Jensen knew exactly what was underneath them. Jensen had drawn it, after all. And Jared had a perfect smile, with perfect white teeth and eyes that crinkled and a few dimples to just make it pop.
And it was more than that. Over the years, Jared had evolved into a full-fledged being—one that might as well be living and breathing as far as Jensen was concerned. He’d moved beyond the cardboard cut-out of the anti-hero, out of Jensen’s original self-indulgent plan—into a brand new person. Jensen knew that Jared would never let him wallow in his own self-pity. He’d deliberately designed Jared that way. Jared was upbeat and outgoing and, if not a social butterfly, then at least everyone’s best friend. He always had a smile ready and a warm greeting for anyone that he met and, underneath that, was a sincere caring. So, on the surface, he was basically the exact opposite of Jensen—Jensen who was, well, not quite a hermit but might as well be, darkly snide, and who hadn’t had time or much use for “friends” in about five years. Maybe even more.
Opposites attract and all that, Jensen supposed. Because he happily dreamed about Jared’s smile—had even jerked off to it more than once—and how was that for self-indulgent and narcissistic? Jerking off to his own creation.
Normally, Jensen couldn’t stand relentlessly upbeat people, either—they and their sunshiny attitudes tended to grate after about five minutes—like the one that he’d given “Sandy”, the girl who Jared, despite official press releases, wasn’t interested in and who’d only been technically classified as a love interest because Kripke had deemed it so, God damn him. Jensen spent so much time at fan conventions dodging questions of “So when are Jared and Sandy going to get together?” that he could have happily screamed (it was a little silly being jealous over a fictional character, especially just because another fictional character liked them, but Jensen didn’t pride himself on being exactly normal, now did he?). Sandy whose entire family had died years before but still managed to be optimistic despite the fact that she was smart enough not to be. Jensen sometimes got tense just from drawing her scenes—especially the ones that Kripke loved: the ones with the morals. Save him from the damn morals and life lessons.
Jared, though, even given his happy-go-lucky smile, wasn’t one of those people that grated on Jensen’s nerves. Because Jared might be a fun and happy kind of guy but, underneath it, Jensen knew, that the fluffy marshmallow didn’t go all the way down. Underneath Jared’s warm, inviting—hot, if Jensen was being honest—exterior, there was just a little bit of darkness to make him perfect. It’s always the flaws, after all, that makes you love a person more.
Jared had flaws. He tended to run off his mouth and act without thinking; he could be self-absorbed and, despite his usual caring attitude, could sometimes really give a flying fuck less about people’s plights—hypothetical people, at any rate. It was harder for him to say no to the actual people in front of him—that was what made him one of the good guys, after all.
Jared was smart, too, Jensen knew. Behind the guilefree smile that Jared showed the world, Jensen knew—even if the rest of the world didn’t—that there was a mind that he could explore for decades.
Well. That is to say that he could if Jared were actually real. Jensen sighed, staring down at the perfectly rendered face on the sheet of paper in front of him. That was the catch, though, wasn’t it? And that was why Jensen as an adult was far more pathetic than Jensen as a teenager. At least when teenage Jensen had jerked off to his favorite comic book heroes, he’d been well aware that they weren’t real. Adult Jensen wasn’t so sure.
And now Kripke wanted him to… Jensen grabbed the package of cigarettes off the corner of the desk, pulling one out and putting it in his mouth. It was a filthy fucking habit, just like his little sister said, but sometimes Jensen just couldn’t help himself. Sometimes he just needed one. Or three. Or five. Or a whole pack.
Ever since Kripke had told him the news, Jensen had found himself going through a lot more cigarettes than he used to. He flipped open the lighter and got a flame going, lighting the end of the cigarette so he could pull a big lungful of smoke through the filter. Oh, Jesus, but that felt better. It was like he’d suddenly gotten his life back under control—even when he knew that he really hadn’t.
Kripke thought it was time for Jensen to dump Small Small World. That was what the little troll had told Jensen today over the phone. He said that the money just wasn’t coming in like it used to and that sales were dropping and that the “buzz”—whatever the fuck that was—just wasn’t happening anymore. It was time, Kripke said, for Jensen to move on. To create his next best-selling hit series.
Because, yeah. It was totally that fucking easy.
Jensen took another long drag and stared at Jared’s smiling face. He didn’t think that he could give Jared up. He didn’t want to start working on a new series, on new characters. That would be, like…cheating. Or something.
Not that Jensen could actually use that as a valid argument against Kripke’s decision—because there was crazy and then there was out there and he’d rather just not be committed to the local loony bin, thanks. Kripke was used to Jensen being weird—to him never coming into the offices, only snapping and growling over the phone (Jensen hated phone conversations with a passion but even that wasn’t enough to get him to leave the house), to Jensen constantly arguing with everything—but Jensen knew that if he told Kripke that he didn’t want to start a new series because he wanted to be faithful to Jared, Kripke’s next call would undoubtedly be to a therapist. God knew that that’s what Jensen would do. Besides, as far as Kripke was concerned, Jensen could draw just as well in a padded cell as he could in the comfort of his own home studio.
Jensen didn’t need to see a damn shrink. He just needed Kripke to get off his back and let Jensen do whatever the fuck he wanted to do. After all, he’d made Small Small World a success because, not only had he occasionally listened to Kripke, but he’d also ignored Kripke as well. If Kripke had had his way, Jared would never have existed—he just would have been another boring caped crusader being dropped into the large ocean of comic book heroes. And then he definitely would not have been Jared.
That was actually what Kripke wanted him to do now—create a mainstream comic book hero series, one more akin to the likes of Stan Lee than Alan Moore. Like fucking Hell. This was all about Kripke trying to get what he’d originally wanted and Jensen knew it. Sure, yeah, sales were down but fuck, sales were down for everything. It was a fucking recession.
Jensen knew that he didn’t want to create the “mainstream” stereotypical superhero with daddy issues that Kripke was hoping for. That wasn’t who Jensen was—that was who Kripke was and if that’s what Kripke wanted, then maybe he should fucking do it himself instead of trying to get his star creator on the job. Hell, Jensen would even help him get started (“You’re going to want to make the bodies a little less stick-figure-like, Eric”).
But Kripke was the one who held the funding—he had Jensen’s fucking reins and Jensen better just whinny nicely and trot the way that Kripke wanted. Five years of basically doing whatever the hell he wanted with just a few exceptions and now Kripke wanted him to go back to the barn when Jensen had the bit in his mouth.
Jensen just didn’t have a clue how he was going to be able to tell Kripke no.
He crushed his cigarette out in the ashtray and then crossed his arms as he continued to stare long and hard at Jared’s smiling face. He was going to have to do something. Jared was just about the only “person” in the world that Jensen gave a flying fuck about any more. He didn’t want to see him canceled.
It was a tight fit. Hard not to be. He was kind of big, after all, and this…this was kind of…small. Trying not to think too terribly hard about horrible, inappropriate puns, he shoved himself through farther, pushing into space. His hand was reaching out and—oh, that was weird. Seriously. Bizarre.
He was feeling like the entire world was shifting around him, accommodating. This wasn’t even supposed to be possible, after all. This time was special. And so, apparently, was he. Him and the guys, that was—they were streaming around him, helping, pulling, pushing, though some were ignoring him entirely. In other words, just being their general selves.
With a heave, he managed to shove himself farther along until finally his head breached through. Well. This was a little like birth, wasn’t it?
…That was probably worse than the puns about ‘hard’ and ‘tight fits’ that he’d been trying to avoid. He was hopeless. The guys were whispering in his ear, giggling about this and that the same way that they’d done for years and he firmly pushed them out of his mind. He’d had a lot of practice at that. He’d ignored them earlier, too, today when he’d been carefully watching on the other side of the divide. Watching and waiting. They’d whispered about love and adoration and a few other, filthier things.
With everyone still moving around him, he wiggled and twisted until finally he had both arms free, his shoulders finally scraping the sides, before he stopped to rest. This was crazy, that’s what this was. He had no idea why it was so much work, but, then again, before he’d been told otherwise, he’d had no idea that this was even possible. So maybe it made sense that it wasn’t easy.
After all. It wasn’t every day that you broke the physics of time and space. He could hear the sound of space and time bending around him only it wasn’t so much of a noise as it was a ripple, a sensation.
A few of the guys were trying to explain the science behind it to him but he ignored them. He didn’t care about the hows, really. Just the whys. And he was well aware of the whys. Familiarly acquainted with them as the case might be.
He braced his hands against the table and shoved, pulling himself upwards and out, until at least his ass was finally free. With a wiggle, he scooted up onto the flat, brown surface and eyed his predicament. He just had his legs to go—that shouldn’t be too hard—not compared to the rest. They were currently invisible, though, still trapped in the pages. It was a little unsettling to look at—like he’d suddenly been rendered a paraplegic due to the fact that he had no legs at all.
They came out easily with the lingering white just barely clinging to them until they regained full color and it was fascinating to watch. If he wasn’t so uncertain about how the whole damn process was working in the first place, he might be tempted to play. As it was, though, there was no sense in tempting fate. Increasing numbers of the guys were swarming outward, their vaguely outlined bodies taking shape and gaining their regular pea green color—the guys were never what he would call “well-defined”—but they were being astonishingly quiet for once. That more than anything let him know just how serious this all was. He slid his legs free and threw them over the side of the surface that he was sitting on.
It looked like he was in…a studio? There were paints lining the walls and piles of papers and was that a boxed action figure sitting on the shelf over there? And…oh. He stopped his scan of the room and became focused on the only thing that really mattered: the creator. A man that he would know anywhere. Jensen. Fast asleep at the desk, Jensen had his head pillowed on his arms, his breathing slow and easy. And he was gorgeous. That was common knowledge back home but it was one thing to know that and quite another to be hit in the face with it.
A few of the guys were stopping to study Jensen curiously but most had already zoomed ahead, buzzing out of the room like flies. He shooed away the few stranglers but they understood. This was his time, his moment—that was something that everybody agreed on. This all hinged on him and the man in front of him. The guys were just part of the how.
Tilting closer to lean over the sleeping man, he rolled the name around in his mind, trying it out in this new world that he’d found himself in. Jensen. It had been the first word that he’d ever known, even before his own name so it was fitting that it would be his first in this world as well. Jensen. Yeah. He rather liked the sound of it—it had a pretty ring to it: a pretty ring to match the pretty face of the man in front of him. Jensen. He tentatively reached forward, just wanting to touch Jensen, to see if he was real or just a mirage. Jensen didn’t even stir.
Taking a deep breath, he explored a little, running his fingertips over Jensen’s soft skin, over his round cheek and the bridge of his nose, bring his hand up and trailing his fingers through Jensen’s soft, short hair.
Then he smiled. Yeah. He was going to enjoy this. Immensely. Just as soon as Jensen woke up.
There were just a few things that he had to do first. Jared sighed to himself and gave Jensen one last lingering look before he slid off of Jensen’s thankfully sturdy desk and slipped into the rest of the house.
He’d have time to get to know Jensen in just a little while.
There was somebody in his house. Jensen didn’t know how he knew this or why he was so certain—he just knew, through the fuzziness of sleep, that he wasn’t alone. His eyes snapped open as his entire body came awake, fueled by adrenaline and fear. He took in the darkness of the room, along with the bottles of paint in front of him, the pages of blank paper, and his discarded pencil, realizing that he must have fallen asleep at his desk again. That was nothing new.
…Wait. Blank? Jensen blinked and looked back down at the piece of paper on top, knowing for a fact that when he’d gone to sleep, there’d been a fully sketched picture of Jared on it—Jared smiling up at him with a few of his little creatures in the background just because. It was actually one of the best renditions that Jensen had ever done. And it was gone.
Jensen shoved the small stack of loose paper forward, displaying each and every page underneath the blank one—the one on top was the only one that was missing. Where had it gone? Why?
Sucking in a sharp breath, Jensen suddenly managed to put two and two together—there was someone in his house and one of his drawings was gone. Jensen was fucking lucky to be alive. He had no idea what a burglar would want with a pencil sketch except for possibly as a trophy—just to say where he’d been—because, glancing around, Jensen couldn't see anything that was missing. His limited edition Doctor Who figurines were still in place, the first edition comics, too, and those were worth of Hell of a lot more than one stupid line drawing.
Jensen shoved himself to his feet. Somebody was in his house and they had come right up to him while he was sleeping. Ballsy motherfucker. Jensen grabbed the baseball bat that he kept leaning up against the far cabinet in one hand and the phone in the other as he moved out into the hallway. Somehow he felt better just by having his hands wrapped around the thick solid wood of the bat even if he had no idea what he was going to do if the burglar had, say, a gun.
That was what the cops were for, he supposed. But like hell was he waiting for whoever the fuck was in his house to finish emptying out the rest of the place and come back for more. His fingers flew over the buttons on the phone and put it to his ear. A woman picked up on the first ring and Jensen swore that if this all worked out, he’d never mock an episode of Cops again in his life.
“911, what is your emergency?”
Jensen swallowed hard and flattened himself against the wall. “There’s someone in my house,” he whispered.
“I’ll dispatch a squad car right away, sir,” the woman said and Jensen liked the sound of that. “I just need you to remain calm, find someplace safe and stay on the line, okay? I have your number registered as belonging to 136 Oak, is this correct?”
Jensen nodded. “Yes.” There was a sound coming from in the living room. Oh, Jesus. That was where the asshole had to be, right? Just what the fuck did Jensen think that he was doing? More importantly, why had he never thought to buy a gun? The jackass was probably making off with Jensen’s TV and here Jensen was hiding in the hallway with a bat like a little bitch.
“Sir, are you still there? Sir?”
“Yeah, I’m here,” Jensen said quietly, backing down the hallway a few steps, trying to keep himself hidden in the shadows.
“Stay on the line and everything will be fine. The police are on their way.”
“I think he’s in the living room,” Jensen blurted. His heart was going to pound out of his damn chest it was beating so fast. He tried to force his breathing slow and even but it just wasn’t going to happen—he was fast on his way to hyperventilating. Jesus. That was just all he needed—to pass out in the middle of being robbed. Jensen pretty much would guarantee that he’d never wake up again.
“Noted. Are you keeping yourself safe?” Now there was the million dollar question. If Jensen was smart, he’d be hidden in, say, the back of the wardrobe in the studio and not attempting to do the caveman thing out in the hallway. But yet, he also had his pride. Damn it.
It was all a moot, theoretical point, though, when he heard the burglar moving closer. “Oh shit…” he breathed and flattened himself against the wall. He really should have hid. Now he had no choice.
“Sir? Sir! Are you okay? I need you to keep talking to me, sir!” Jensen set the phone down on the floor because not only was it hard to think with the woman bleating in his ear but he also needed both hands to hold onto the bat. He didn’t want to think about just how slippery with sweat his palms were at the moment, either. He just needed to focus. Jensen had been pretty good at baseball back in high school—and it was like riding a bike, right? All he had to do was just visualize that the guy’s head was the ball and he’d be golden. He could do that. He could. He would.
Jensen saw a flicker in the faint light coming in through the window from the street lamp outside and he counted to three. That was as far as he got before he saw the looming form of his would-be robber. Not thinking twice, Jensen swung with everything he had, determined to end this now before the guy pulled out a gun or something like that. It was stupid and reckless but, damn it, he had to do something.
The guy must have had catlike reflexes or a sixth sense because he dodged with a loud, “Whoa!” and Jensen’s swing missed by inches, slamming into the drywall. It chipped and Jensen swore—he probably would never get a chance that good again. In fact, now that he’d shown himself, he was probably going to die.
He wouldn’t go down without a fight. Jensen promised himself that, if nothing else, he’d do that.
He tried to pull the bat back towards him, to get in another swing, but the burglar caught the bat, pining it against the wall with one hand and Jesus but the fucker was massive. He made Jensen look small and that didn’t exactly happen every day. Jensen could have happily pissed himself. Luckily, the pride that had dragged him out into the hallway also seemed to have a stranglehold on his bladder. Thank fuck for small favors.
Jensen tugged on the bat, not willing to let it go because he really didn’t want it to be turned on him but what if the guy had a knife? All this time, Jensen had been worrying about if the guy had a gun but what if he had a switchblade? He could kill Jensen just as easily with that as close as they were together. Jensen dropped the bat and ran for it.
The guy shouted after him but like fuck was Jensen sticking around to make conversation—he needed to get out of the damn house before he died. Weren’t the cops supposed to be on their way? Where the fuck were they? Jensen slammed himself against the wall to brake his momentum and pushed off to fling himself into the studio. It was the only damn door with a lock because, originally, it had been an exterior door. Jensen had switched the lock around after he’d had the studio built, mainly so that he could literally lock himself in his studio and not be bothered but despite all the pesky editors and publishers and whatnot that it had deterred, Jensen had never been so grateful to have it.
Just what the fuck had he been thinking? That he was going to take out a robber all by himself? Who did he think he was, fucking Batman? Jesus fuck. He might as well go join Kripke on the superhero fanboy brigade. Jensen swallowed hard and glanced wildly around the studio for anything that might possibly be used as a weapon. It was a damn sturdy door that was between the intruder and him but Jensen still didn’t want to put much stock in it. His mind always managed to bring up the worst case scenarios.
…Like the fact that the guy seemed to be picking the damn lock! Jensen gaped for a few precious seconds before snapping himself together enough to grab a hold of the chair in front of the desk and wedge it up underneath the door handle. Jesus fucking Christ. He had a psycho crazy murderer in his house, didn’t he?
Why the Hell had he never thought to put in an escape hatch? That was what he needed—some sort of secret tunnel to get out of the house—one that the guy couldn’t follow him. One like what was in all the castles in the movies.
There was absolutely nothing left in the studio of use besides the furniture, various paints, drawing utensils and paper and he seriously doubted that he was good enough to kill the guy with a stylus no matter what his inner self was screaming. He could draw it, sure, but fucking actually do it? Not a damn chance. He also seriously doubted that a paper cut would do anything to the gorilla outside his door beside piss it off.
But he had to do something. “Not going down without a fight,” Jensen said to himself—he wasn’t. If he was going to die here tonight, then, damn it, he was going to make his momma proud. He darted behind the desk, keeping it between him and the door, and grabbed up paint bottles, all prepared to throw. His eyes fell on the ashtray, though and, well, fuck it. He might as well start with that, right? Didn’t they always say that cigarettes killed? He didn’t think that they’d been referring to, say, hitting someone in the head with the ashtray when they’d claimed that but, fuck, close enough.
The guy outside had apparently given up on the door—or, Hell, maybe he had successfully picked the lock and had just become aware of the chair underneath the knob—because he’d started throwing himself at it, trying to use brute fucking strength to break it down.
Jensen didn’t believe in God, but he breathed a quick prayer anyway. Maybe the big guy would forgive him for all the times that Jensen had cursed him out. It was worth a shot at any rate.
The guy outside slammed himself against the door again and he must have shook the chair loose because it suddenly fell over, clattering onto the floor and Jensen was dead, dead, dead. Pride and dignity be damned, Jensen ducked down behind the desk.
“Jensen?” the guy asked and how the fuck did he know Jensen’s name? Oh, fuck, Jensen thought, coming to the only logical conclusion. “I need to talk to you.” It would even explain why his drawing had been taken as a souvenir. He was dealing with something that was only whispered about in dark hallways at conventions…
An unhinged fan. Oh fuck fuck fuck… Jensen really hoped that the guy didn’t want to cut off his skin and wear it around like a suit. Jensen was rather attached to his skin right where it was. “I know you’re in here,” the guy said sullenly like he was the sane one and Jensen was just some crazy nutcase playing hide and seek instead of taking his medication like a good boy. Jensen shivered and tried to will the cops into showing up. “Seriously.” And then the robber was looking him right in the face.
Jensen chucked the ashtray at him and braced himself, ready to make a run for it again, but he was stopped cold by the eyes staring back at him. The man had ducked Jensen’s projectile weapon but had come right back and Jensen was gaping at what had to be the most perfect real life doppelganger of a drawing that he’d ever seen.
The man frowned. “Stop it,” he said, wearing Jared’s face and Jensen thought that he must have gotten shot after all. He must have bled out back in the hallway or something and now he was either hallucinating due to blood loss or he was already dead. There was no other possible way that he could be looking directly at Jared of all people.
Jared wasn’t real. Right? Jensen searched his mind looking for the correct answer to that one but all he was coming up with was a confused “Maybe?” He didn’t dare breathe—couldn’t actually. But, then again, dead people didn’t need to breathe. He was right on track.
The Jared impersonator frowned deeper. “Breathe.” Jensen shook his head—no, he was dead; he didn’t need to do that. “Breathe, Jensen.” Except that it felt like his lungs were collapsing and, God, but the man even had Jared’s birthmarks and how was that even possible? When the crazed fan reached for Jensen, Jensen swatted him away and skittered backward underneath the desk as he sucked in huge lungfuls of air. There went that theory: apparently he did need to breathe. Maybe he was alive after all. Then that meant…
…That the possibly crazed fan that had broken into his house was even crazier than previously imagined. The guy must have had his face rearranged. Oh, Jesus. The fucker probably was here to collect Jensen’s skin and wear it like a suit. The Jared look-a-like nodded, a small smile tugging at his lips and was that a dimple that Jensen saw? “See? That’s not so bad.” He shifted around and tilted his head. “Are you going to stay under there all night? Because we’ve got some stuff to talk about.”
…For a crazy fan, the fucker sure was presumptuous. At least it seemed like the guy didn’t want to kill him at the moment. Maybe Jensen would get to keep his skin after all. Jensen tried to straighten himself as much as was possible in the cramped space underneath the desk. He knew that he had to look ridiculous but, at the moment, there were more pressing things to worry about. Like… “How did you get in here?”
The guy frowned again, looking confused. “…In the room or here? Here here?”
And now he was babbling. Awesome. How long did it take the police to get from the precinct to his house anyway? “In my house, jackass,” Jensen snapped. He knew full well that he probably shouldn’t be taunting the guy, that it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but the stress was threatening to pull Jensen apart and he didn’t have time for tact.
The guy, though, didn’t get mad. He just shrugged. “Don’t really know how,” he said. “I, uh, wasn’t really listening when the guys tried to explain.”
“…The guys?” Oh fuck. There were more? “How many of you are there?”
Looking even more confused than before, the guy tilted his head to the other side and Jensen was momentarily mesmerized by the swish of his hair—Christ, it even… “There’s only one of me,” the guy said, the ‘duh’ in his tone obvious. “You didn’t hit your head or anything, did you?” He held up his hand, folding down his thumb and his pinky. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“The fuck kind of question is that?” Jensen didn’t want to get anywhere near the guy but it wasn’t like he had anywhere left to go. So he pushed the guy’s hand away as he started moving out from underneath the desk. “Let me out,” he growled.
“Oh, good. Because we really need to talk.” The guy aimed a look at Jensen that Jensen was sure was supposed to be ‘serious’ but really just looked like a pout. It would have almost even been adorable if it wasn’t on the face of the guy who had just broken into Jensen’s house. Matter of fact, he was pretty sure that he’d drawn that exact expression multiple times in the past… Jesus fuck, Jensen thought. This was getting weird. He pulled himself out from underneath the desk and finally managed to stand up. The guy was just as tall as Jensen remembered from the hallway, all dark and looming without even trying to, and Jensen forced himself to stand up straight instead of cowering like his yellow-bellied baser instincts wanted him to. Don’t show any fear, he mentally reminded himself. He had to come across as strong and forceful—someone that the crazy guy wouldn’t want to mess with.
…Which was damn near impossible but Jensen was going to fucking try. “Who the fuck are you, anyway?”
That drew the guy back which surprised Jensen except for when he thought about it some more—then he rolled his eyes. Of course the guy would think that he really was Jared. Of course. “What do you mean who am I?” the guy asked and Jensen just had it. Screw trying to treat the crazy person with kid gloves.
“I mean, you certifiable piece of grade A crazy,” Jensen snapped, pointing a finger at him, “who are you?”
The guy blinked. “I’m—”
Jensen already knew how that sentence was going to be ended and he headed it off at the pass. “And don’t you dare say ‘Jared.’ You’re not him so who the fuck are you?” Jared wasn’t real and, besides that, he also didn’t deserve to have his ‘good name’ ran through the mud. It might have been a little worrying that Jensen was trying to defend the honor of a fictional character but Jensen thought that he was entitled—he was the creator and that’s what copyright protection was for, right? The wannabe-Jared was starting to pout again and Jensen narrowed his eyes. “He’s just a drawing, dude,” he added. “He isn’t real.” And fuck if the guy didn’t look just a little bit hurt by that. Jesus. “Don’t even fucking go there.”
“I’m not just a…” The guy trailed off, staring at Jensen in sheer confusion.
Oh, the fucker was in deep, wasn’t he? Jensen slowly started backing away, trying to be subtle about it as he put the desk in between him and the unhinged freak with the plastic surgery. “Hey, man,” Jensen said, “I get it. It’s a really good story. I think so, too. Of course, I kind of have to think that considering that I’m the one that’s writing it. But there’s a difference between that and reality, you know? And—”
The man who would be Jared had, apparently, tuned Jensen out. Which was just fucking rude. You didn’t break into a guy’s house, hopped up and desperate for attention and then just ignore him once you finally got him to talk to you. Who did that? Then again, who did any of this? From the breaking and entering to the facial reconstructive surgery? ‘Jared’, though, was staring down at Jensen’s desk. “Don’t touch that,” he said and for half a second, Jensen was convinced that the guy had been talking to him. “Don’t you have work to do?”
“Who are you—” Jensen stopped himself before finishing the sentence because, after thinking about it, he was pretty sure that, no, he did not want in on a schizophrenic delusion. What little that he’d said, though, had been enough to snap the guy out of whatever funk that he’d been in.
“We have to stop him,” he said decisively and Jensen blinked.
“Who?” Jensen asked and the guy, the Jared look-a-like, screwed up his face in a puzzled frown.
“Him,” he answered, like it all made perfect sense and Jensen was just being deliberately obtuse.
Jensen took another solid step backward. “Who is him?” he demanded. “Look, buddy, if you’re going to keep playing these games, then—” The answer to his own question hit him right upside the head and, once again, Jensen was sent reeling with just how fucking crazy this all was. “No,” he said.
“No?” The guy tilted his head, his eyes darting over to Jensen’s and Jensen caught himself staring, his breath catching in his throat. Jesus. A guy had broken into his house looking like a wet dream and, of course, Jensen’s dick wanted to focus on the wet dream part and not the “broken into his house” part. So fucking typical.
Jensen snarled, half at the man for putting him through this and half at himself for reacting in such a stupid way. “Ross is just a character,” he snapped. “He’s just a character in a book, do you hear me? I draw him.” This was going beyond fucking nuts. Not only did the would-be burglar in Jensen’s house honestly fucking believe that he was Jared, the main character of Small Small World, but apparently he believed that he also had to save the world from the sociopathic dealings of Ross—the closest thing to a villain that Jensen had ever created. They were going to need more than the cops. They were going to need a fucking psyche ward. He was pretty sure that ‘Jared’ would qualify for an entire floor all by himself.
‘Jared,’ though, shook his head. “But he’s not, Jensen,” he said quietly.
“Yes, he fucking is and you need help, dude—”
“Not any more, Jen,” ‘Jared’ said, the nickname falling off his tongue so fucking easy. Jensen narrowed his eyes. No one called him ‘Jen.’ Not anymore. “Just like me. Just like the guys. We’re really here. And we have to stop Ross before he destroys the world.”
The door was right behind him. Jensen wondered that, if he made a break for it, if he’d be able to reach it before the crazed fan’s long legs caught up to him. He’d been pretty good at sports back in high school. That had to count for something.
Jensen had almost talked himself into just fucking going for it when he finally caught sight of what Jared had apparently known all along. There on the desk, in between Jensen and the crazy man masquerading as Jensen’s greatest creation, was a small green pea shaped object, hovering in the air as it regarded him quietly, looking for all the world like one of the “Del Montes” from Small Small World. It blinked and waved and Jensen decided that he was just going to need to check out for a little while.
And the floor seemed oh so comfy.
There were people talking. That was the first thing that Jensen noticed as he slowly emerged from sleep. The second was that his head fucking hurt. He spared a brief moment for wondering if he’d gotten smashed last night before he decided that thinking hurt too much and that he was better off just not doing it. Instead, he just let himself drift, hovering on the line between sleep and consciousness, idly listening to the voices.
The one was pleasant—a man’s voice—sounding smooth and subdued—no doubt trying to keep quiet for Jensen’s sake. Which was odd because no one had tried to keep quiet because of Jensen for a long time. Mostly because he never had anyone in his house to keep quiet in the first place. It was quite a conundrum, really.
The second voice was higher, squeakier—more grating. Jensen hoped that it would shut up soon but it seemed deadset on arguing with the first voice and apparently it was in a hurry because that was the only thing that Jensen could make out—that they had to hurry. Now that he was focusing on it, though, Jensen realized that it wasn’t just one voice that sounded like that. It was a couple.
Just how many people were in his house anyway? And, more to the point, what the fuck did they think that they were doing?
“He’s awake,” one of the squeaky voices said and a few others chimed in with “Awake, awake!”
“Do you think he needs coffee?” another one asked before being shot down.
“No! Why would he need coffee? He knocked himself out not just woke up!”
“Same difference. I think coffee would be great for him. Everyone needs more coffee in their lives.”
“Oh shut up.”
“Do you think that he’ll like me?” Jensen frowned because, even though the voice sounded the same as the others, it had a more anxious twinge to it, making the words more tense. Had to be another person. “He’s got to like me, right? He won’t care that I’m…”
“Not round? Nah. He should like you plenty!”
“Guys,” the buttery smooth voice said, sounding like a cat being petted, “shut up.” Jensen could agree with that. He thought that he liked this new voice. And it did sound very familiar. Maybe he should actually open his eyes and find out who it belonged to. He might not even kick the guy out right away because, hey, he had a nice voice.
Jensen was certain that he was in his own bed. There wasn’t much mistaking it—the familiar feel of the pillow-top mattress under him, the smell of his preferred laundry detergent—it’d be pretty hard to fake those. So that meant that all the people with the voices were technically in his bedroom.
…Watching him sleep. Jensen’s eyes shot open.
“You’re awake!” the first voice said brightly and Jensen turned his head in its direction and promptly stopped breathing. The face was just note perfect, wasn’t it? Every single detail loving recreated—every single line that Jensen had labored over rendered in living, three dimensional glory. It was such a damn perfect replica that Jensen thought that he was going to be sick. That was a sign of much more than a simple obsession—that was straight up crazy. ‘Jared’ smiled at him. “You hit your head when you went down,” he said and it was only then that Jensen noticed the ice pack that Jared—God, it was fucking Jared, obsessed fan or obsessively drawn character—was applying to his head. Jensen just let him do it, too, staring mutely for a few seconds, studying all the lines that he’d drawn for years.
He probably would have kept on staring forever if a tiny pea hadn’t landed on Jared’s shoulder. “Hi, Jensen!” it said.
“Holy fucking shit!” Jensen shouted, scrambling away. He dodged out from underneath Jared’s icepack and scooted to the edge of the bed, putting his back against the headboard. “What the fuck is that?”
Jared glanced curiously at his shoulder while the pea looked disappointed of all things. Peas were not supposed to look disappointed. “He doesn’t recognize me,” it said dejectedly.
To add to the surreal situation, Jared patted it on the head. “I’m sure that he recognizes you,” he assured it. “That’s probably the problem.”
Jensen scrubbed at his eyes and looked again and, no, the pea was refusing to leave. It was still there. Sometime during the night, Jensen had fallen down the damn rabbit hole and Jared was right in front of him talking to a pea—one of the Del Montes for fuck’s sake—and this had better be one really involved and particularly fucked up dream or Jensen had just better get himself committed right the fuck now. “This isn’t happening,” he said to himself, staring at the bedspread. He studied the geometric black and white shapes—monotone and very mod, very urban bachelor the salesgirl had told him—and prayed very hard that when he looked up again, the pea—and Jared—would be gone.
…Though, if this was a dream, then maybe Jared could stay… But the pea definitely had to go!
Except that it was totally being joined by others—lots of them, all swirling around. Jensen whimpered. “I swear to God, I’ll never drink again…” he promised.
Jared shrugged. “Sure?” he said. “So, listen, don’t worry about the cops; I took care of them. Don’t know why they were stopping by in the first place…” He shot Jensen a suspicious look and Jensen felt inexplicably guilty.
If this was a dream, it was extremely linear and comprehensive. Fucking A.
“I just told them that you were having an episode,” Jared said and the peas all nodded sagely. “Post traumatic stress.”
“It’s more common that you’d think,” one pea chimed in and the others murmured various agreements or insults. Jensen peeled his eyes away from them with difficulty and focused on just Jared. For the sake of his sanity.
“The cops were very understanding. Especially when I explained that you’d hit your head and so might have been very confused. But, listen, the guys say that we’ve really got to get going soon.”
“Going where?” Jensen asked. He’d like to by a vowel or something over here. Catch a clue, maybe.
Jared snorted. “To stop Ross,” he said, the ‘duh’ evident. “He’s going to destroy the world, remember? I told you this already.” Oh. And it was Paranoid Schizophrenic Delusions for 1000, Alex. Only Jensen was pretty sure that they were his delusions. He was still seeing the Del Montes, after all. “So, if you’re feeling better…” Jared reached out and stroked a finger down Jensen’s cheek and Jensen had no idea what the move was supposed to accomplish because he was too damn fixated on just how warm Jared felt. How real.
He grabbed Jared’s hand, seizing it before the man had a chance to pull it back and, though Jared looked shocked, he allowed it, blinking curiously at Jensen. His heart pounding sickeningly fast in his chest, Jensen gently squeezed Jared’s hand, feeling the resistance of all too solid flesh and bone, and the Del Montes were still staring at him. Oh, Christ, Jensen thought, the idea finally hitting home. This was really happening. This was…
This was really Jared in front of him and it wasn’t an illusion and he was pretty sure that he wasn’t dead and those were Jared’s partially unwanted creatures hovering everywhere and this was real. “Breathe.” Jared’s voice cut through the fog in Jensen’s brain sharp as a knife. “Breathe, Jensen.”
“Oh my God…” Jensen whispered, unable to think of anything else but, “you’re real.”
Jared quirked a little smile and nodded solemnly like he’d expected this to happen. Around him, the Del Montes were chattering amongst themselves about “Knew that this would happen” and “Oh, dear, I think Jensen’s in shock” and “Do you think that he has any coffee hidden around here?” He wasn’t sure what that last one had to do with anything other than maybe pointing to a previously unknown fetish but it didn’t matter because Jared was real.
“Yeah, Jen,” Jared said. “Yeah, I’m real.”
“But I draw you,” Jensen blurted out and then wished that he could take it back. Way to sound pathetic, ego-centric and just plain weird all at once.
Jared’s smile grew bigger. “Yes, you do. Quite well.” Jared spared an admiring glance at his own taut and toned stomach, running a hand over it appreciatively.
Jensen licked his lips, staring at the hand that Jared still had resting on his stomach. “But how…”
Jared shrugged. “Don’t know. You’d have to ask the guys—”
“Actually, it’s quite simple,” one of the Del Montes butted in, “and deals with the principles behind—”
“Later. They can explain later.”
Summoning up his courage because like fuck was he going to be in a situation like this and try to stay on the outskirts, Jensen dared to move closer. When Jared smiled approvingly at him, Jensen dared even more until he was right up close to where Jared was and, holy fuck, Jared had a scent. It reminded Jensen of the smell of a brand new book—newly minted pages with dried ink and binding glue—and he breathed in deeply.
Jared was real. The Del Montes, they were real. Everything was real. Jensen swerved his attention away from Jared’s slowly darkening eyes to focus on one of the Del Montes hovering just above Jared’s shoulders. For some odd reason, it was wearing 3D glasses and Jensen mulled this over in his mind until he remembered, getting hit with it like a bucket of ice water, the night that he’d drunkenly drawn on of the Del Montes with the glasses on a whim because he’d just gotten through watching that new James Cameron movie. “Holy shit…” Jensen whispered, reaching out to touch the thing in front of him.
“Whoa!” the pea creature said, dodging and swerving. “Hey-ey-ey, buddy, watch the merchandise!” A few of the Del Montes tittered and the one with the 3D glasses whirled to look at them. “Do you think that shades this cool come easily? No, they do not!”
“But it’s Jensen,” one of the Del Montes replied. “He can just draw you some new ones.”
“Jensen, Jensen,” a few more chanted and the one with the 3D glasses thought it over. “I suppose that he could…”
“It’s real and it’s talking to me…” Jensen said to himself.
“We’ve always been real,” a new voice added, this one a bit deeper than the rest and Jensen averted his eyes from the pea hovering over Jared’s shoulder to down on the bed where none other than One was sitting, bigger than the rest of the Del Montes and looking incredibly haughty for an overgrown pea. Once again, Jensen couldn’t breathe. There was no mistaking it—he’d drawn the blob more than enough times to recognize it: the only one of the Del Montes that actually had a name. “But we’ve only been corporeal in your world for about three hours now. Give or take.”
“You’re so fat,” Jensen said, wonderingly, ignoring the creature’s entire little speech. He didn’t remember drawing a fat Del Monte. One was just supposed to be big. Had that translated into fat in the animated world?
…How was Jensen supposed to know?
“I am not,” the gigantic pea replied, offended. It turned its back on Jensen and hovered off as a small smile pulled at Jensen’s lips. They were real.
He turned his face back to Jared and his smile fell when he realized that Jared, for some reason, was frowning at him. “What?” he asked, instinctively.
Jared shook his head. “Nothing,” he said, his tone saying anything but. Then he waved his hands, swiping at the Del Montes who evaded him effortlessly—of course they did. They were used to dealing with Jared’s gigantic, usually uncoordinated hands all the time—Jensen drew at least three such scenes in every issue, sometimes more. “Hey, guys, give us some space, yeah?”
The Del Montes buzzed about, murmuring amongst themselves, debating the pros and cons before giving in and zooming off. Jensen watched them go, amazed as they moved en masse, like a flock of migrating birds except with more chaos. Somehow, not a single one managed to bump into another as they zigged and zagged through the air and out the door. They even managed to shut the door behind them and Jensen stared at the door in amazement. “That was—”
Firm pressure forced Jensen to turn his head away from the door to look at Jared who was kneeling on the bed beside him and Jensen came face to face again with Jared’s eyes—currently more blue than anything and Jensen spent a few moments wondering why. Right up until Jared kissed him.
Shocked, Jensen let him because all his brain could focus on was Jared was real and he couldn’t quite make the jump to Jared was kissing him. Jared’s broad hands landed on Jensen’s shoulders, like he was attempting to hold Jensen in place, before he trailed his fingers upward and coaxed Jensen’s mouth open so that he could slip his tongue inside. For one curious second, Jensen fully expected Jared to taste like the paper and ink that he had been made from but Jared was real.
With a soft moan, Jensen gave in because how many nights had he spent dreaming about this very same thing? This was so much more vivid than any of them and he couldn’t say no, not with Jared tasting so sweet and his tongue being so very, very insistent. It wasn’t until Jared pushed him down onto the bed that Jensen even considered protesting.
He broke away sharply, gasping, and put a hand against Jensen’s shoulder. Jared didn’t let it bother him, diverting instead to licking at Jensen’s neck while his big hands—huge hands, Jesus; they felt like they could span his entire body—ran up underneath Jensen’s shirt. Warm and solid and strangely familiar, Jensen felt like he could purr. It had been far too long since he’d been touched, since he’d allowed himself to be touched, and Jared felt good against him. A little too good.
“Stop,” he said, trying to squirm away. Jared was on top of him, so he wiggled upward, putting just a little bit of space between them as Jared pouted down at him. Pouted.
“Why?” Jared asked. “You like it, don’t you?”
Jensen couldn’t deny it—and that was probably the crux of the problem right there. This was ten times worse than just jerking off to a picture that he’d drawn. This was…this was…
“Come on, Jen,” Jared coaxed. There was that nickname again but Jensen couldn’t even bring himself to get mad. “Don’t tease…” He rolled his hips against Jensen and Jensen wanted to say something snappy about didn’t they have to be somewhere or something but all he could focus on was the hardness between Jared’s legs. Son of a…
Jared caught him staring and smirked. “Yeah,” he said as he grabbed Jensen’s hand and dragged it over. He pressed the palm of Jensen’s hand against his dick and Jensen moaned helplessly. Too damn long… “Of course he’s got to have a big dick,” Jared said, his voice pushing lower to mimic Jensen’s voice perfectly and Jensen’s eyes went wide, recognizing the words, remembering when he’d said them—drunk one night and drawing sheer porn of what was supposed to be a PG-rated character. The drawings were still hidden in Jensen’s private stash, deep in his cabinet. Had Jared heard that? And what else? What else did he know?
“I said stop, damn it!” Jensen yanked his hand away and shoved Jared again, feeling like he was pushing a boulder. Jared looked stubborn, but he went this time, lifting himself up off of Jensen. “Jesus.” Jensen rolled himself out from underneath Jared and on to his feet. Jared stayed kneeling on the bed, staring at the spot that Jensen had just left.
And Jensen didn’t have a clue what to do. What to say. He’d almost been seduced by a guy that he’d drawn—that he’d created, for fuck’s sake. Jensen was pretty sure that there was no precedent for this kind of thing.
He was still keyed up, too, his body practically thrumming from having been too close to Jared—Jesus, he needed to get laid. At the moment, he needed something to do with his hands. Jensen swiped up the box of cigarettes sitting on the dresser, pulling on out and jamming it into his mouth. The lighter took a few clicks but he finally managed it, lighting the end and sucking a welcome breath of smoke into his lungs. It filled him, sitting down inside of him and soothing the ache he hadn’t even known that he’d been fighting. That was probably the addiction speaking but it could fuck off.
Jared was looking at him now—well, no. He was looking at Jensen’s cigarettes, his mouth thinned in disapproval and he could just fuck off, too. Jensen sucked in another lungful of smoke. “Fuck off,” he said on the exhale. He didn’t need another fucking lecture about the evils of smoking and he certainly didn’t need one from a man that he had fucking thought up.
Though, Jensen didn’t remember putting anything resembling an opinion on smoking in Jared’s make-up. Jensen paused, wondering just what that meant—had Jared made choices for himself? Or was it just an offshoot of something else that Jensen had included in Jared’s make-up. That thought wasn’t much better because that meant that Jared was extrapolating and Jensen couldn’t decide which was worse. Either one pointed to Jared being…
Jared being real. God, but that was blowing his damn mind. “Didn’t we have something to do?” Jensen asked, breaking the silence that Jared had been letting them sit in.
Jared nodded slowly, his face still hard and he wasn’t meeting Jensen’s eyes. “Yeah,” he said. He cleared his throat and slid off the bed, standing up to his full height—Jesus, but the fucker was big. Just like Jensen had designed him…. “We have to stop Ross, remember?”
Jensen dragged himself away from eyeing just exactly where Jared’s broad shoulders reached and swallowed this new piece of information. “Ross is real too…” he mumbled. If Jared and the Del Montes were real, then that meant that Ross was real. Ross was real.
“Yeah, he is.” Jared’s tone was clipped as he strode past Jensen, heading for the door and Jensen stared at him, confused. Jared stopped at the door, turning around to look at Jensen—the first time that he’d done so since Jensen had pushed him away. When he spoke again, his voice was softer. “So, maybe we…maybe we can, uh, talk. After this is over.” Then he stood there, staring at Jensen, waiting for an answer that Jensen didn’t know how to give.
Jensen blinked and sucked in a last puff off his cigarette before crushing it out in the ashtray. “Sure…” Not that Jensen had ever been completely aboard, but, somewhere along the way, he felt like he’d been kicked off the train entirely.
Jared was still standing at the door, giving Jensen a look that was akin to a kicked puppy and Jensen inexplicably felt like complete shit. And he didn’t have a clue what he’d really done wrong. “Uh, I’m sorry,” Jared said quietly and then he opened the door and was gone, rushing out to join the swarming Del Montes, leaving Jensen staring after him.
This was Jensen’s life. Either that or one hell of a fucked-up dream. Jensen pocketed his box of cigarettes and his lighter and chased after Jared.
The peas were absolutely certain that this was where they needed to be. Jensen, personally, thought that the peas might be a little bit crazy. He was sure that it wasn’t their fault though. After all, they were only vegetables. Higher-order thinking skills weren’t meant to be their specialty.
They’d already spent a few hours scouring the town but at least it was actually past dawn now. Jensen had already gone through his entire pack of cigarettes. They could actually see where they were but Jensen didn’t know if this was really a good thing. “Are you sure?” he asked because the neighborhood that they were in? Jensen didn’t even want to get out of his car. This was the type of place where people got shot just for walking down the street.
“Oh, yes, definitely,” one of the smaller Del Montes said and Jensen was sure that if it would have had a neck, it would have been nodding. As it was, it was really just…swerving.
“We traced the disturbance here following the space-time dilations,” another pea said. “The contractions are definitely centering on this precise building.”
Jensen winced. “Could you make it sound a little less like labor?” he asked. Beside him, in the passenger side seat, Jared snickered. When Jensen glanced over at him, Jared shrugged.
“That was exactly what I was thinking when I came out.” Jensen arched an eyebrow and Jared clarified. “That it was a lot like birth.”
That’s right. Jared had to have emerged from the picture… Jensen’s hands itched for another cigarette. At this point, he didn’t even think that he wanted to smoke it—he just wanted to hold it, to have something to do with his hands. “How did you…” He didn’t even bother to finish the question—he couldn’t. He didn’t want to go there.
Jared, though, apparently finished it for him because he started laughing. “I imagine it involved a lot of contractions and dilations,” he said with a grin and Jensen sighed, glancing out the window. He’d had no idea that he’d been drawing such a smartass.
The building that they were sitting in front of, double-parked, was a ramshackle apartment complex, looking one step away from being condemned and Jensen was having a hard time conceiving of the idea that anyone would willingly live in it. Besides, with all the talk about “contractions” and “dilations” and “disturbances in the force, Luke!” Jensen was amazed that the building was still standing. With how the peas were talking, the thing should have collapsed ages ago.
“It’s definitely here,” one of the peas said.
“Oh definitely, definitely,” others started chiming in.
“I’m out of coffee,” one said morosely.
“And I’m hungry!”
“You just ate!”
“I did not!”
“Yes you did! You totally ate that fry in the backseat; I saw you—!”
“Enough!” Jensen gripped the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white. “Jesus. How do you stand this?” He slid his eyes over to Jared who just smiled.
“Used to it, I guess,” he said.
“Right.” Jensen didn’t know if he should feel guilty about that one or not. After all, he was the one that had created Jared and the Del Montes. It was entirely possible that he could have made them…less chatty. “So what are we here for? I thought we were going to stop Ross.” Stop him from destroying the world or something or other. This whole scenario was just fucked up, really.
“We are,” Number One said, setting its fat body down on the dashboard. “And I’m not fat.” It squinted its little pea eyes at Jensen and Jensen swallowed. “That’s right. I can hear what you’re thinking, so stop it.” Jensen raised his eyebrows and imagined a nice pea soup. He bet that it would taste just awesome, what with all the nice fat peas he apparently had just sitting around. “That is not funny!” the pea snapped, bouncing up and down on the dashboard and, even if pea soup wasn’t funny, Jensen thought that the idea of angry pea was pretty damn hilarious.
Jared spoiled the fun by placing a hand over the top of the big pea, settling it down, and Jensen was once again caught by just how big Jared’s hand really was. And he remembered just what Jared could do with it, too… “There’s something that’s, like, uh, causing frequency shifts or something. We’ve got to find that. At least that’s how I understand it. And Ross wants whatever it is, too.”
“It’s a machine,” one of the peas said, shifting forward. It had tiny glasses perched on its face. “It’s a machine that controls the frequencies between dimensions and it is centered here in this building. We must put a stop to it before more dimensions than just ours are affected.”
“Okay…” Jensen said. He didn’t understand even half of that. He’d gotten that machine equaled bad, though, and he could grasp onto that—sort of like a pro-nature, Ferngully ad. He could get behind that. Go fairies. Or, uh, peas. “So where does Ross come in?”
“He wants to rip everything to shreds, that’s where he comes in!” Number One shouted. “Haven’t you been paying attention?”
“Actually,” Jared cut in, “I don’t think that you guys got around to telling him that.”
Number One rolled its eyes. “Of course we didn’t. We didn’t have to. He’s the one who wrote it.”
Jensen stared at the pea in amazement. “I did?” Jensen was pretty sure that he would have remembered that. Wouldn’t he have remembered that?
“Yes!” Jensen still didn’t get it and Number One sighed, sounding much put upon for a damn pea. “In Issue 2, you wrote that Ross, because of his past experiences, desires to reduce everything to chaos. You remember that?”
Jensen nodded slowly. Yeah, he remembered that. It had been an extension of his own frustration about his ex’s habits. His ex had loved neat and orderly things, everything with a place and everything in its place. Jensen’s ex hadn’t had much use for the controlled chaos that Jensen tended to thrive on and Jensen had felt like he’d been slowly suffocating. And then Tom had dared to dump him. Jensen had been dying more and more each passing day and it had been Tom who’d decided that he couldn’t put up with it. So, of course Ross liked chaos—wanted the world to be in chaos and would actively pursue that ideal instead of just sitting around and passively accepting it like Jensen had. Ross was, after all…
“But that was just an off-handed comment…” Ross had just mentioned it to Dawson, a man that he had briefly teamed up with before tossing aside like everyone else. A man that had looked remarkably like Jensen’s ex…
“Doesn’t matter,” Number One said. “It’s part of Ross.”
Then that meant, like the smoking thing that… “Do you guys build on whatever I say? Like, whatever I say goes and then it’s just like the primary directive or something?” It wasn’t too far from that to, say, the damn Borg. The replicators.
Jared frowned but it was Number One who answered. “Of course not. Sometimes we have to make our own choices. You might be good but you’re only human.” The pea bounced out the open car window, hovering over the sidewalk. “Sometimes you write some really shit lines.”
“One didn’t mean that,” Jared said quietly, his hand coming down on Jensen’s shoulder, rubbing softly. “He’s just mad because of the whole ‘fat’ thing, I think.” Jensen didn’t really hear him—he was too busy reeling from the double whammy of one, the idea that his creations were out making their own decisions without him and two, being insulted to boot. It was…It was like having teenagers. Teenagers based on doodles. He did notice, though, when Jared’s hand moved from his shoulder to his cheek, one finger stroking softly. “You’re really good.”
Jensen snapped back to himself, sucking in a harsh breath and turning his complete attention on Jared who was staring at his face. Jared’s eyes had turned greenish—probably reacting to the interior of the car. Jensen swallowed and glanced away. “Thanks,” he muttered, putting the car in park and shutting it off. He’d always been rather shy about accepting compliments but this seemed almost…wrong. Wasn’t Jared honor-bound to say that he was good or something? Because Jensen was the one that had created him? That hadn’t seemed to stop Number One, though…
“I mean it, Jensen,” Jared said and his hand curled around behind Jensen’s neck, pulling him in closer. “Really good.” Jared…Jared was kind of gorgeous. Jensen had known this from the moment that he’d created him—he’d deliberately drawn Jared to be that way, of course—but there was just nothing like being hit upside the head with the old clue-by-four. It also wasn’t escaping Jensen’s attention at the moment that Jensen had deliberately styled Jared after his idea of the perfect man—outgoing and friendly with a great sense of humor and a killer smile. Smart but not intimidatingly so—a goofball if given half a chance. Physically big and overpowering but somewhat awkward…
“Thank you,” Jensen repeated, this time more definite and slipped out of Jared’s grip before he did something stupid like kiss the man. Jared was just a drawing. At the moment, he was flesh and blood and all too real but just how long would that last? Really? It would be nine kinds of stupid to let himself get involved because Jensen knew just how hard he could go down if he let himself.
And again. Jared had to like him, right? Jensen opened the car door and escaped onto the street, leaving Jared sitting in the car. After a few seconds, Jared followed him, his face impassive again and Jensen turned towards the brick building that the Del Montes were swarming in front of. There were three simple concrete steps leading up to a dark wooden door. The building itself looked to be about six stories high, with barred windows all the way up to the top. Cars lined the street in front of it, including a canary yellow Pinto that had one red door. Its right front wheel was sitting up on the sidewalk as it had been diagonally parked in a parallel spot.
“You’re sure?” Jensen repeated again but the Del Montes didn’t bother to answer him. They just chatted amongst themselves as they picked the lock of the apartment complex.
“—left turn…can’t believe we’ve got to do this—”
“—maybe Jared will take us to a movie after—”
“—Cotton sells for—”
“—Do you think that I could eat that?”
Jensen strode into the midst of them, not even bothering to try and avoid them because he figured that they knew how to move well enough. “You’ve got pretty eyes,” one pea said and Jensen blinked at it.
“Well you do. I think they’re your best feature.”
Another pea snorted. “No. It’s obviously his mouth.”
“Right. Jared’s always going on—”
“His eyes are pretty too! Jared says so!”
Jensen cleared his throat. “Weren’t we, uh, doing something here?” he asked, pointing at the door.
“No,” one replied. “We already finished that.”
“Just a little bit slow,” Number One sniffed as it ambled on past and pushed open the door. Fantastic. This was exactly how Jensen wanted to spend his day—breaking into apartment buildings and being randomly insulted by vegetables.
Jared stepped past Jensen, imposing without even meaning to be as he slipped by into the open doorway. His hands had come just inches away from Jensen’s body again, though maintaining a small buffer of air and Jensen had found himself wanting to lean just a little bit—enough to have Jared be touching him again.
Jensen growled at himself. Really needed to get laid. He couldn’t even focus for five damn minutes, could he? He followed after Jared and the peas, stepping inside the rundown apartment building.
The peas had hung an abrupt right, traveling up the staircase that lined the outer wall and Jared was already close to the first landing where the stairs turned to the left for another bank, his long legs easily climbing. The first stair creaked ominously under Jensen’s foot when he stepped onto it, the wood threatening to cave and Jensen swallowed hard as he screwed up his courage and started moving upward. His eyes followed along the outer wall, taking in the stacked rough-cut brick. To his left was a black metal railing, incongruous with the wood of the stairs, thin and looking like it was just barely hanging on.
Up above, a flight or so up, a door slammed and a woman began screaming in Spanish, all trilling Rs and high-pitched screeches as a man answered her, deep and growling, and Jensen stopped dead. He shouldn’t be here. He really, really shouldn’t be here. He had no idea who lived in these apartments or who he’d meet at the top—all he knew was that he was following the Del Montes and Jared: that is, a guy that he’d created and his gang of floating peas.
Jensen had been on some bad trips before, but this was really taking the cake. He half-turned on the stairs, the idea of going back to his car and leaving this whole sordid mess behind forming in his mind. As he glanced back at the door, though, it opened and a man in a black jacket stepped through, his broad shoulders scrapping against the door jamb as he leaned too far to the right. “Fuck,” the guy swore, catching himself against the wall. He caught sight of Jensen and his eyes narrowed suspiciously, probably wondering either who Jensen was or why Jensen was staring straight at him. This wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where you stared at people.
“Jensen?” Jensen jerked his head upward to see Jared peering down over the railing at him. “Are you coming?”
Jensen took one last look at the guy now blocking his exit and knew that there was only one direction that he was going to be going now: up. “Yeah,” he said and bounded up the stairs after Jared. He turned the landing quickly and left the man down below behind him.
Jared and the Del Montes stopped two floors up, stepping out into a hallway. The walls had once possibly been white but had yellowed with age into a kind of spotted butter cream with the plaster cracking in places. The peas were chatting excitedly in front of Apartment 3C.
“Is this it?”
“Yes, this is it! Can’t you feel it!”
“Dude! I don’t need to feel it, I can see it! You should really check out these glasses, man!”
“Stop going on about your glasses! It’s annoying.”
“Hey, man, cool is cool. Don’t be hatin’.”
“I’m hungry. Do you think that he’s going to have any food?”
“Or coffee? ‘Cause I’ve been out for awhile now.”
“I doubt he’s going to want to feed you,” One said, rolling its eyes as it moved to hover in front of Jared. “Knock,” it ordered.
“You mean you’re not just going to pick the lock this time?” Jensen asked, finally catching up, the words coming out hard and gasping as he tried to suck in some much needed air. He possibly needed to spend a little less time in the studio and a little more time in the gym if two flights of stairs managed to wind him. Jared wasn’t even breathing hard. Then again, Jensen thought, of course he wasn’t—Jared had the perfect body, now didn’t he? Jensen had seen to that.
“Of course we’re not,” One sniffed. “He’s in there.”
“Who’s in there?”
“The guy that invented the machine,” Jared said quietly, cutting off One before it had a chance to reply.
Jensen frowned. “Then what are we doing here? Aren’t we supposed to stop it?”
“You’re going to have to figure out how to convince him to give it up,” One replied and Jensen glared.
“And how are we going to do that?”
“You’ll figure it out, Jensen,” a quiet voice said beside Jensen’s ear. “You always do…” Jensen turned and stumbled backward because he’d been expecting one of the Del Montes. Instead what he got was a green triangle. A rather sad looking green triangle.
“What are you?” Jensen said, the words just popping out and the little triangle’s expression immediately fell. Jensen felt just a little bit guilty. “I mean…”
“…You drew me when you were drunk,” the triangle said sadly. “I’m a Del Monte.” It turned to look at a few of the Del Montes hovering behind it. “See? I told you he wouldn’t like me.”
Jesus. Did everything that Jensen had ever drawn in his life now exist? He didn’t even remember drawing the…
“He’s just more special because of it,” Jared said diplomatically, using one finger to poke at the triangle, making it smile. “Right?”
“Oh…” Jared’s eyebrows rose as the pea’s smile started to fade and Jensen finally picked up on the hint. “Yeah, sure. Of course,” he added. “Uniqueness and…all that.” His mind was still reeling with the possibilities. What about scribbles? Did those count? Were there twenty million scribbles now walking around? Stick figures? Disembodied penises?
“Now you’re just being silly,” One said and Jensen didn’t even know how to respond to that. Why wasn’t that a valid question? He thought that was a valid question. He wanted to know just what he was getting into here. “We’re wasting time. The more time we waste, the closer that Ross gets to destroying the world, remember? We really don’t have time for existential crises.”
Jensen’s jaw dropped—he was being lectured by a damn pea—but Jared cut off anything that he might have wanted to say by knocking on the door and Jensen felt a bolt of panic streak through him. The Del Montes fled en masse, giggling and streaking away like they were playing a big game of Hide and Seek as One followed at a more stately pace. Oh, Jesus. What the Hell were they going to say to the guy inside the apartment? ‘Hi, we’re here to take the evil, world-destroying machine that you invented!’? What if the guy said no? What if he had a gun or something? Jensen decided right then and there that he was buying a handgun first thing tomorrow morning. He’d never had a more crystal clear reason to get one than he’d had in the past few hours.
“Stop panicking,” Jared whispered, glancing at Jensen out of the corner of his eye as he kept himself facing the door.
“Dude,” Jensen hissed, “we don’t even know who’s in there!” He was about to die, wasn’t he? Figured. He’d lived just long enough to see his creations come to life and now they were going to get him killed. And Jensen hadn’t even made it to Europe. He was supposed to tour Europe before he died. Eat French food in some little French café, see the ruins of Rome…
“We’ll be fine,” Jared said, sounding so confident that Jensen just wanted to trust him. A smile quirked the corner of Jared’s mouth. “I’ll protect you.”
An odd little glow started in Jensen’s chest and, when the apartment door opened, instead of trying to look as presentable as possible, Jensen was caught staring at Jared. Jared’s smile grew to greet the blond-haired man who was eyeing them both suspiciously. “Hi,” Jared said, holding out a hand, “I’m Jared.”
The man in front of them didn’t look like much. Compared to Jared, actually, he looked as threatening as a kitten—that, though, might have been because of the fact that the guy was standing there in a t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants and it was awfully hard to look threatening when there were yellow ducks quacking happily all over your pants. Jensen found himself staring at them.
“Uh, Chad,” the guy said, taking Jared’s hand gingerly. “…Are you guys from the university?”
University? Jensen mouthed, his perception of the guy in front of him shifting from ‘possible sleepy thug’ to ‘overworked and underpaid grad student.’
“Yes we are,” Jared lied easily. “And we need to talk to you for a few minutes. Can we come in?”
Chad scrubbed at his hair and glanced back at the apartment behind him before shrugging. “Sure,” he said. “Don’t mind the mess.”
As soon as Jensen stepped inside, he understood why Chad had hesitated before letting them in. ‘Don’t mind the mess’ was right. Nearly every available surface was covered—some with stacks of books or papers but most with odd bits of machinery, disconnected wires and scraps of metal—and, dominating one entire half of the apartment’s living room was the oddest assortment of metal and junk that Jensen had ever seen.
It looked like Chad had raided the local junk yard and had just stacked everything on top of each other, hooking it all up together. It rose in spires and towers, some parts nearly scraping the ceiling of the rather small apartment—one topped by what he swore was a blender, others by what looked to be the remains of old phonographs. There were pressure gauges and hoses and huge cables that slunk over the couch to hook up to the main outlets and, sitting smack dab in the middle of it all, was what appeared to be a mutant toaster.
“Oh,” Chad said, moving to stand next to Jensen. “Yeah, that’s the atomic toaster. I work on it in my spare time. You guys are here to see the multi-function spectromasspedameter, though, right?”
Jensen was still staring in awe at the imposing, sprawling mess of metal but Jared was on point. “Actually, no,” he said. “We’re here to see this.”
“The toaster?” Chad asked, confused.
“That’s a toaster?” Jensen whispered.
“Well, yeah,” Chad answered, his voice starting to pick up speed. “Dude, if you want to see that, I can totally show you that. It cooks pizza in a minute flat! Here, let me show you!” He darted to the kitchen behind them, grabbing a box out of the freezer, opening it as he bounced back over to the machine. “Now watch, see, you just…” He discarded the empty box over his shoulder and brandished the frozen pizza proudly. “…drop this in like so…” Shoving the pizza into the slot, he skittered over to the far side of the room, his hand slamming down on the extremely large red button on the wall.
The machine leapt to life, twisting and turning, chugging and see-sawing. A barrel on the side began to rise and sweep from side to side as steam rose out the side. Up top, the phonograph began to pipe out blaring techno music as a little conductor’s hand rose from the belly of the machine, keeping time. The blender on the tallest spire whirled to life, crackling as it ground coffee beans into a pot underneath that sat upon a flaring furnace and, on the very edge of the monstrosity, a car engine started, roaring as it lit up a humongous light bulb and two feet—clad in two different brands of shoes—began to tap out a rhythm.
“My God,” Jensen said. He was barely able to hear himself over the cacophony of the various parts working together. The entire thing, too, was beginning to shake and the lights in the apartment were dimming. Chad shrugged apologetically.
“She’s an energy hog,” he said loudly, his voice rising over the roar of the machinery. “But this is really cool, I promise.” A spring popped loose from the middle and it shook harder. “Or, well, um… Hold on.” He left Jensen standing there as he rushed up to the machine and shoved the spring back into place. “That’s better.” Gears started to grind, the metal growling and Chad pulled a face as he reached out and rapped a canister with his knuckles. “Um, well, it all started out because I was sitting around, watching TV and I just thought, ‘hmm, I’m hungry,’” he explained nervously, absently, kicking another part of the machine as it started to scream. “And I wanted pizza but I knew that I didn’t want to wait for pizza! I mean, no one will deliver here and it takes twenty minutes to cook a frozen pizza—who has twenty minutes, right? So I said—hey! Toasters are quick! But they can’t fit a pizza! So let’s make a better toaster! It kind of just grew from there…” The metal screamed as screws started to pop loose. “Hmm…” Chad said. “Well, that’s not good…”
Jensen didn’t want to look away—he wanted to know if the damn thing was about to explode because it was full-on shuddering now—but he had to because he had to find Jared. Jared was standing three feet away, watching the hulking piece of welded scrap metal with interest. Jensen lurched for him, catching a hold of the sleeve of his plaid shirt, and he hauled him in. Jared’s attention shifted from the machine to Jensen, a bright smile crossing his face as his hands wrapped around Jensen’s.
“Dude!” Jensen hissed furiously, trying to pitch his voice so that Chad couldn’t hear it but Jared still could. “That’s the machine that could destroy the world, right? Why the Hell did we just let him fire it up?!” If that monstrosity was what was tearing a whole in the fabric of time and space then it was counter intuitive to let it run, wasn’t it?
Jared just shrugged, though. “It’s harmless like that,” he said.
“Harmless?!” Jensen demanded. “You said that it was dangerous, didn’t you? Or the peas did!”
Jared blinked. “I just know what the guys tell me, Jensen. And they said that just by being the machine is acting like some kind of…” he wobbled his hand “…time-space dilation thingy. Doesn’t matter if it’s being used or not. And this thing isn’t what Ross has planned for it.”
“Ross has to hook it up to something else,” Jared said, shrugging again. “I don’t know what, I just know that it will be bad if he’s allowed to.”
Jensen glared at him. “You, me and the peas. We need to have a serious talk—”
A loud ding! reverberated through the room, cutting Jensen off cold and Chad whooped as the toaster button popped up, discharging its gooey contents. “See! Okay, so that was a little slow, more like two minutes, but I’m sure that that could be worked out.” Unfortunately for Chad, however, pizza was not necessarily meant to turned on its side. All the cheese had slid down to melt over the bottom portion of the crust and most of it was still apparently in the toaster, leaking out in congealed strings. Chad tapped a finger against his mouth. “And I might have to work on the cheese issue…”
“You think?” Jensen asked sarcastically and Chad gave him the point with a nod of his head.
“I’m still working out the kinks,” Chad admitted, reaching down to pull out the pizza. “But, see?” He held the now cheese-less pizza out to Jensen. “Perfectly browned.”
Jensen didn’t take the offered food—even if the crust did look perfectly browned like Chad had said. Instead, he was back to trying to take in all of the machine now that it had settled down and no longer looked like it was a seething mass about to explode. The conductor’s wand had settled back inside the machine, the car engine had turned off and, there, up on the high spire where the blender and the coffee pot had been, was a tiny hand holding out a single mug of coffee. Chad took it, sipping out of it. “I just realized,” he said at Jensen’s amazed look, “that once I had a good pizza, I’d probably want a good cup of coffee, too. And then,” he nodded to the phonograph speakers, “I’d also want some music and it all kind of just led one to another.”
“That’s…” Jensen let himself trail off because he really didn’t know how he wanted to finish the sentence. On one hand, this whole thing was ridiculous but, on the other, it was also kind of…incredible? In a really over the top kind of way?
“—Magnificent, isn’t it?” a voice finished and Jensen turned to see who was coming up behind him. Jared, though, beside him, was already bracing for impact, his body tightening, his back straightening. Out of the hallway, a man came sauntering as if he owned the place, walking into the natural light of the living room.
“Ross,” Jared growled and the man smiled.
“Jared. And…” The man turned to face Jensen, his eyes lighting up, and Jensen paled as he realized that he was coming face to face with…himself. “Jensen,” Ross purred, drawing the name out like a caress. He looked Jensen up and down, his lips curling at the corners. “Look at you…”
Ross wasn’t an identical twin—Jensen had known that he’d have to do conventions—but he might as well have been. His hair was longer, his face was a little different—freckle-less—but, if you knew what you were looking for, there was no mistaking him. Standing in front of Jensen, in a leather jacket and black jeans, was the man that Jensen had modeled not just after himself but after the man that he’d always hoped to be. Ross didn’t have Jensen’s hang-ups. Ross was the kind of guy that no one could walk over, that no one could ignore. He was the kind of guy that knew what he wanted and how to get it and had the balls to do it, too. He was Jensen but more determined, more extroverted, more confident. Sexier. Smoother. Stronger.
Jensen’s breath was coming hard and fast; his world was narrowing down to a fine point. Ross was here. Ross was alive. Jared and the Del Montes and fucking Ross…
A hand slid along Jensen’s shoulder, proprietary and claiming, and Jensen snapped into the present, his attention fixing on the hand on his shoulder, on the arm it was attached to, on Jared who was glaring at Ross. Ross didn’t seem to care about the warning in Jared’s eyes: He smirked mockingly.
“Oh, yeah, hey,” Chad said, striding in between them like he was completely oblivious to the flying sparks threatening to set the room on fire. Maybe he was. “I didn’t know that the uni was interested in the atomic toaster, Ross! You didn’t tell me that.”
Ross tilted his head at Chad. “Well, I didn’t know, either,” he said. “But you see, Jared, here. He’s got a bit of an…eye for good ideas. He leads me to the most interesting things.”
And then Jensen got it. Ross might have known where to look but he hadn’t known for what and here they were showing him. They’d led him straight to it. Jensen sucked in a harsh breath. Stupid…
“Yeah, well you’re not getting it now,” Jared said. Ross just smiled harder.
“Wait…” Chad said uncertainly, looking back and forth between them all. “You mean you guys aren’t all together?”
“’Fraid not,” Ross drawled.
“No,” Jared said, jumping in. “Ross here was about to steal your designs.”
“What?” Chad shouted, startled, turning around to fully face Ross. “Seriously? Ross, man, how could you?” he accused, sounding as betrayed as if he and Ross had been the best of friends for years and not someone he’d just met.
Ross chuckled. “Well, Chad, it was nothing personal…” And then he was up and running, bolting for the far living room window—the one without bars.
“Stop!” Jared shouted, diving for him. Ross was too quick, skating by and jumping up into the window, crouching on the ledge. He paused for half a second, half in and half out, just long enough to throw Jensen a wink and a wave—his fucking trademark—and then he was gone, plummeting to the streets below. “No!” Jared reached the window a moment too late, his hands wrapping around the trim work as he stared downward. He glanced back at Jensen for one quick second and then he was jumping out the window, too.
“Jared!” Jensen yelled, running for the window himself, galvanized into action by seeing Jared toss himself out of a third story window. Jared was fucking crazy! What made him think that he could survive a fall like that? He wasn’t made out of ink and paper anymore! He was flesh and blood and Jensen was going to see his broken and twisted body in an alley below because Jared had stupidly thought that he was still a comic book hero. And it was all Jensen’s fault.
Jensen caught himself on the window ledge, leaning over it as he peered outside. “Jared!” He saw the two story building just outside, almost connecting to the apartment complex that they were in, hidden in its shadow, and Jensen’s shoulders dropped in relief as he spotted Jared’s tall form disappeared over the side, charging down the metal stairs that were bolted to the wall with a swarm of Del Montes following his lead. He must have landed on the roof one story below instead of plummeting to his doom. “Oh thank God…” Jensen whispered and then pushed himself away, back into the apartment living room. He’d just finally gotten to meet Jared—he didn’t want to lose him just yet. And…if Jared died in the real world, what did that mean? Would that mean that he’d be “dead” in the fictional world as well? Would Small Small World no longer have a main character? Would Jensen not be able to draw him any more? Would he just stop existing? How did that work, anyway?
“You university people are crazy,” Chad said, interrupting Jensen’s circling mind, his hands coming down on Jensen’s shoulders, holding him in place. “I kind of like it.”
Shaking his head, Jensen shoved him off and ran out the door. He didn’t have time for this! He had to catch Jared before Jared managed to do something stupid. Because he would. He so would. Jared might know things about Jensen but Jensen also knew things about Jared. He knew how stupid and reckless that Jared could be—how he could act without thinking. Jensen had deliberately made him that way, only thinking of just how spontaneous it would make Jared, how different from Tom and from Jensen himself Jared would be. He’d never dreamed that it would come back to bite him, that he’d have Jared jumping out of a third story window because he wasn’t bothering to think!
Jensen pounded down the stairs, his hand gliding down the railing and using it to brace himself for the turn every time he hit a landing, turning his forward momentum into a circle to wheel himself around. A man was shouting at him—Jensen thought that he looked kind of familiar—dark and imposing—but Jensen didn’t have time to stop. He slammed out the front door and hit the street, running toward the alley he’d seen Jared climbing down into.
He turned the corner of a building, heading into an alley, shooting past the overflowing dumpsters and the trash bags that had never quite made it in, leaping over a stack of crates, and startling a stray dog out of his way. He could feel the strain of the run on his body in the pounding of his heart, in the exertion of his lungs, in the pull of his muscles but he kept going, turning down the corners that were offered him. He had to find Jared. He should have brought the car but it never would have fit down the narrow labyrinth he was losing himself in.
It was that knowledge that brought him up short. Jensen slowed down to a jog, sucking in huge gulps of air before finally coming to a stop. He was going to get lost. Maybe he already was. “Damn it,” he gasped, bending over. “Fucking God damn it…” He was just now realizing that he didn’t even have a clue if he was still heading in the right direction. What if Jared and Ross had double-backed? What if Jensen had made a wrong turn? What if, what if, what if! Jensen hadn’t even stopped to think.
A weight smashed into him, knocking him off balance and bearing him into the wall. Jensen crashed into the solid brick, the roughness tearing at his bare arms and he winced in pain as his head rebounded off the building that lined the small alley.
He didn’t have any time to recover before there was a body—as tall as him, as strong as him—pinning him to the wall, moving against him, writhing and grasping. There were hands traveling up his sides, slipping under his shirt for a tiny flash of skin against skin and then the hands were moving to pin his wrists down. Harsh breath panted at Jensen’s throat, warm and moist, as smooth skin flattened to Jensen’s cheek. Someone roughly inhaled, their nose buried under Jensen’s jaw. “You smell so delicious…” a man groaned, sounding oddly agonized and Jensen choked because he knew that voice. A tongue flicked out, swiping at the sheen of sweat on Jensen’s skin. “You taste delicious, too…”
Jensen struggled, trying to fight back, but the man—Ross—seemed to know his every move ahead of time and managed him deftly. For every twist Jensen did, every pull, Ross reacted a split second sooner. A thigh slid between Jensen’s own, pushing upwards and rubbing against him as hips ground against his own. “Want to eat you whole…” Ross breathed. “Swallow you up. Can I do that, Jensen? You’d let me, wouldn’t you? Let you and me become the same person?” They were rhetorical questions—Ross didn’t expect an answer. He was too busy nuzzling underneath Jensen’s jaw. “I could fuck you,” he said. “Right here, right now—make you scream, I’d make it so good… I want to. I want to bad.”
His purring voice was making Jensen’s insides knot up, a thrum of desire pulsing through him because, despite everything, he was turned on. He was scared and mad and turned the fuck on. What the fuck was wrong with him? The edge of fear, of desperation, just made it that much more severe. But like Hell was he going to let this happen. “Let go of me!” He twisted, trying to break free but, once again, Ross anticipated and shifted accordingly.
“You’re more perfect than I’d even ever dreamed of,” Ross whispered. His lips were directly beside Jensen’s ear, each word a puff of hot air against Jensen’s skin. “So gorgeous, so amazing… Don’t you like me, Jensen? Don’t you want to be me?” He finally pulled away, staring at Jensen with the very same eyes that Jensen saw in a mirror every morning. “I want to be you.”
Jensen stopped trying to break free, instead subsiding and sagging against the wall. Ross nuzzled him affectionately in reward before coming back to stare. Jensen waited for him to say more but Ross was apparently waiting for him. “What do you mean by that?” Jensen asked finally.
Ross rolled his eyes. “Be you, be with you, be whatever I can with you. You’re the creator, Jensen. The creator. You created me. What do you think it means?”
Jensen scowled. “I think it means that you a sick psychopath who needs to seek some help.” It was a generic comeback—one he could have said to just about anyone he didn’t like—but it was entirely the wrong thing to say. Ross slammed him against the wall again.
“And who made me like that?” Ross asked with a hard smile. “I am exactly as you made me. And I love you for it. I love you, do you hear me? I love you, Jensen. I love every perfect inch of you. Just because you’re you.” He moaned again, arching up against Jensen’s body, his hips rocking forward. “I want to touch you. I want to taste you. I want to hold onto you and never let you go.” Jensen’s wrists were released as Ross moved his hands up to grip Jensen’s face, focusing him in on Ross’s all too familiar face. “Do you know how this feels?” he asked sharply. “No. No, you don’t—how could you? To touch God…” Jensen’s eyes were widening with each word but Ross wouldn’t stop. “Most men never even get to know if their God exists but me…” Ross shuddered, his eyes closing and Jensen was too stunned to even take advantage of it. “Love you so much…” he breathed right before sealing his lips over Jensen’s, his tongue slipping inside of Jensen’s mouth.
For a moment, Jensen froze, his mind retreating right back to the question of “Is this really happening?” before he decided that it didn’t even matter—that he was being pinned against the wall against his will and it didn’t matter if it was by a formerly fictional character or not. Ross was too focused on the kiss, throwing everything he had in to it, desperate for more and he was more occupied with holding Jensen’s head in place than anything else. Jensen balled his fist and swung hard.
Ross was too close for Jensen to work up a good momentum—too much into Jensen’s space for Jensen to do any real damage—but Jensen figured that he’d at least make it as uncomfortable as possible. He hit Ross’s shoulder with every bit of strength he could find, connecting solidly and then repeating when Ross flinched but still held his ground.
After the fourth blow, Ross jerked away, pulling his shoulder out of Jensen’s immediate range as he gasped. It bought Jensen just enough space to land his next hit directly against Ross’s jaw, jerking the man’s head to the side. Ross stumbled backward, clutching at his face as his eyes locked on Jensen’s, narrowing, and Jensen knew that he was in for a world of hurt. Ross might “love” him but no one got away with hitting him. No one.
Ross took a step towards him and Jensen braced himself for impact but Ross didn’t come any closer because a man’s deep voice was barking at them to “Freeze! Police!” and Jared was pounding down the alley toward them, his face hard and determined. Behind him was the man from the rundown stairwell, as large and imposing as ever but looking even more threatening with his gun trained on them. Ross rubbed the back of his hand against his jaw and turned on his heel, running back the way that he’d come and away from Jensen. “I said stop, damn it!” the man at the back of the alley shouted, his gun following Ross around a corner before he dropped it, swearing.
Jensen half expected Jared to go streaking past but he pulled up short when he reached Jensen, stopping directly in front of him. “Are you okay?” he asked and, when Jensen didn’t answer fast enough, he repeated it. “Are you okay?”
“Yes!” Jensen said quickly. Jared was staring at him like he didn’t believe that but he would just have to because, except for a few scrapes and some wounded pride and one Hell of a mindfuck, Jensen was just fucking fine.
“You two okay?” the unfamiliar man yelled, holstering his gun. “Did he hurt you? Fucking muggers are everywhere in this neighborhood. Damn precinct’s being overrun.”
Jensen blinked at Jared as Jared turned to face the apparent cop. “Yeah. We’re fine. He didn’t take anything,” Jared said, latching onto the excuse that the cop had given them. Jensen had to admit that “mugger” sounded a whole lot better than “crazed fictional character who wants to destroy the world and possibly fuck me along the way.” …Now that Jensen thought about it, though, ‘rapist’ might just be a better fit for what Ross had apparently wanted.
The cop was walking towards them, talking about other neighborhood problems but Jensen wasn’t paying any attention because he was too busy noticing that the Del Montes were massing in the street, hovering around Jared and talking rapidly. “Shoo!” Jensen hissed. If the cop got much closer, he’d be able to see them; Jensen wasn’t sure how the man couldn’t make them out as it was.
Jared shook his head, though, his hand coming down on Jensen’s shoulder. “He can’t see them,” he whispered before turning his attention back on the officer. “Yeah,” Jared said. “It can be a bad neighborhood. Broad daylight, too.”
“Oh a few coats of paint and I think the place would look nice!” one of the Del Montes squeaked. A few others concurred while some vehemently disagreed—one pointing out that the plaid curtains in the window of the third story apartment above them were beyond help.
“Yeah. They got balls, that’s for sure,” the cop said, his face saying nothing about noticing any peas, flying or otherwise. He was close enough now for Jensen to make out the salt and pepper coloring of his beard—the little bit of gray at his temples. The man had an easy if tired smile, looking world weary despite the fact that he only had to be in his 40s. “I get so tired of it. Wished we lived in a better world. You boys sure you’re alright?”
“Just shook up,” Jared said. “Jen’s tough.” He nodded towards Jensen, the nickname falling easily off his tongue again and Jensen knew that it wasn’t the time to give him shit for it. What he didn’t know was if he wanted to give him shit about it or not and that was making Jensen pause.
“Jen, Jen, Jen!” a couple of the Del Montes chanted and Jensen had to refrain from wincing. How did Jared deal with this, anyway?
“Could see that. Got a nice right hook there,” the cop said, grinning as he held out his hand. “Name’s Jeff. Jeff Morgan. Awfully stupid to take on a mugger like that barehanded but brave, too. Can’t fault you there.” Jensen nodded—he couldn’t disagree on the stupid part: Ross was trained in hand-to-hand combat whereas Jensen certainly wasn’t—seemed like he was doing a lot of stupid things lately—and took Jeff’s hand. “You want to come down to the station and give a statement?” Jensen shook his head. Yeah, uh, no. That was really the last thing that he wanted to do. For a moment, he thought that Jeff was going to try and push the issue but then the man nodded and let go of Jensen’s hand to pull out his wallet. “Listen,” he said, pulling out a small card and pressing it into Jensen’s grip. Jensen could see that he had a lighter patch of skin around his ring finger on his left hand and he absently wondered if Jeff was divorced. If he was, it was fairly recent. The tan line was still delineated. “I’m going to give you my card and if you want to press charges or anything, you let me know. I can’t promise anything except that we’d try our hardest to find that mugger and bring him in.”
“Thanks,” Jensen said. Somehow, he was pretty sure that he wasn’t going to do any of that but it was nice of Jeff to offer.
“Yeah, thanks,” Jared repeated, wrapping an arm around Jensen’s shoulders. Jensen stared at the hand that was resting on his left bicep. It was easier than looking at Jared’s face and definitely better than demanding why Jared was so touchy-feely all of a sudden. He certainly didn’t remember drawing that into the comics and Ross’s words were echoing in Jensen’s head. Sure, Ross was a sociopath and Jared was—somewhat—normal, but what if the same thought still applied? Did Jared want to “be close to God” or whatever the Hell that Ross had been raving about, too?
The most horrible thing, though, Jensen decided, was not the possibility that Jared might be stark raving mad or that touching Jensen might be some big old power trip for him. It was the fact that Jensen was craving that touch. And he didn’t think it was egomania driving that little bit of patheticness, either, which was just downright terrifying.
Spend five years pining after a fictional character…
Jared was acting like it was nothing out of the ordinary for him to be casually slinging an arm around Jensen. Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe Jensen was just overreacting. Then again, maybe Jared was just better at hiding his true opinions than Ross who didn’t give a flying fuck. “Well, thanks for your help, Officer Morgan.”
“Jeff,” Jared corrected with a smile. “We’ll definitely be more careful from now on and I really think that I should probably get Jensen here home.”
Jeff nodded. “That’s a good idea. All kinds of creeps live in this neighborhood, so you two watch out for each other. Stick to the main streets.” He shook hands with both of them and headed back out of the alley.
“When I grow up, I want to be him,” one of the Del Montes chirped and Jensen rolled his eyes. He shrugged Jared’s arm off, ignoring Jared’s disappointed look and the way that his heart panged.
“We, uh. We should get back to Chad,” Jensen said. They’d totally just left the student genius up in his apartment and God knew what he could be getting up to.
“Yeah,” Jared agreed quietly and they walked back to the apartment building in silence. Even the Del Montes were keeping quiet and Jensen didn’t want to think about what that said. They climbed the rickety stairs again and headed back to Apartment 3C.
Apparently Chad had never bothered to close the door after Jensen had shoved it open because it was sitting just how he’d left it, showing a wide open view of the junk covered apartment. Jensen wondered if Chad didn’t care about theft or, more likely, if everyone just kind of already knew that he didn’t have anything worth stealing.
Well. Unless you were a sociopathic comic book character.
Because, despite the door being left wide open, there were only two things missing from the apartment: Chad and his atomic toaster. There wasn’t a trace left of the wannabe mad scientist and the cables that had formerly been hooking the modified toaster up to the rest of the sprawling machine were dangling uselessly. “Well that sucks,” Jared said.
Jensen had to agree. This whole damn thing did indeed suck. A lot.
The Del Montes were clueless. Of course, they were claiming that they weren’t but Jensen was taking a hint from the distinct lack of answers that they had none. Some of them had followed Ross when he’d left and they said that he’d ran off in the opposite direction of Chad’s apartment. They hadn’t managed to stay with him, of course, because that would have been too easy. Instead they claimed that Ross had chased them off which isn’t something that Jensen remembers Ross being able to do. When he’d created Small Small World, he’d written in that very few people were able to see the Del Montes—he remembered that at least. In the story there was Jared, a random kid in Hong Kong and Ross. They just tended to hang around with Jared because, well, he was the sanest of the bunch (apparently, as far as Jensen could tell, they were working hard to rectify that). That rule must be transferring over to the real world which would explain why Jeff couldn’t see the Del Montes that had been swooning over him. It didn’t explain why Jensen was able to see the things but he was thinking that that must have something to do with the whole creator angle again.
That creepy, unreal little hang-up.
With nothing else to go on (Chad hadn’t even left them a freaking crumb trail to follow), they’d ended up back at Jensen’s house. Most of the Del Montes were gone, running off God knew where trying to locate either Ross or Chad. Or, you know, the machine that was supposed to be their number one priority. Speaking of Number One, it was out leading the charge.
Jensen, for his part, had thrown himself onto the couch when he’d gotten home and had refused to leave it, just throwing an arm over his eyes to trying and block out the world at large. He was considering going right back to bed and hoping that this was all just a very bad, alcohol-induced nightmare. Of course, if it was, the delusion had lasted for way too many hours for Jensen to consider himself truly normal and he might just have to seek some professional help. Then again, Kripke had been telling him that for years. Hell, Danneel and Chris, too. Jensen thought that he might just believe them now.
Jared was sitting on the chair closest to the couch: an overly plush, entirely too expensive recliner that he wasn’t taking advantage of. No, instead he was being creepy in a way Jensen didn’t ever remembering writing him being by perching on the very edge of the chair and staring at Jensen with concerned puppy dog eyes. It was very distracting and yet another reason why Jensen had thrown the arm over his eyes.
In the background, Jensen could hear the sounds of a few left-over Del Montes trashing his kitchen but, at this point, he was beyond caring. He’d already chased them out twice before and he knew that it would be useless to try and do it a third time. The definition of insanity and all that.
And Jensen was desperately hoping that he was still sane so he wasn’t going to give in to the urge to terrorize the peas. At least the ones that were complaining that they were hungry had finally shut up. They were raided his fridge like the little cannibals that they were, but they’d shut up.
“I’m sorry,” Jared said, breaking the silence and Jensen lifted his arm up a bit to peek out at him.
“I’m sorry.” Jared was staring down at the floor like it was the most interesting thing in the world looking so utterly pathetic that Jensen couldn’t help but feel a little twinge of guilt. Damn it.
Jensen sighed and sat up. If he was suffering from delusions, they were apparently not going to go away any time soon so he might as well face them head on, right? And he knew that he was worse than any fanboy because the sight of Jared looking upset had him wanting to offer a hug. Jensen hadn’t hugged anyone in years…even before Tom broke up with him. It was messed up but he had never been able to tolerate the thought of Jared being in pain. That would be why he’d never created too many angsty scenes for Small Small World. Jared was supposed to live in this surreal little bubble where the worst things that happened to him was he got annoyed or he felt sympathy for the plight of someone else. Jared wasn’t supposed to be hurting. Having Jared alive and breathing right in front of Jensen was only bringing that personal truth even closer to Jensen and so much for pretending that he hadn’t fallen for his own fictional character.
It was stupid to have even tried to think otherwise. Jensen knew that he’d been in love with Jared since the moment he’d started drawing the guy. There was nothing quite like being hit in the face with the cold hard truth that he’d never grown out of his dorkish teenage adolescence. He was only just one step up because instead of crushing on Wolverine or John Constantine like any other self-respecting fanboy, he’d fallen for his custom-made ideal man. But at least Jared didn’t wear spandex.
…Not that that’d be a bad thing now that Jensen thought about it. God. He really still was the kid that used to feverishly jerk off to the newest comic issue like it was a copy of Playboy. “Sorry about what?” Jensen asked, resting his elbows on his knees as he mirrored Jared’s pose.
Jared jerked his head up to meet Jensen’s eyes. “I don’t know,” he said. “Dragging you into this? Losing my head? I should have stayed with the machine instead of chasing after Ross.”
Jensen doesn’t quite know where to start on that because the idea of Jared dragging Jensen into anything was ridiculous. Despite Jared’s newfound 3-dimensionalness and the fact that he’d apparently been making decisions for himself for quite some time now, there was nothing about their current predicament that was Jared’s fault. Jensen could have stayed in the apartment with Chad and the machine as well and he hadn’t. They’d both made mistakes in that department and Jensen was willing to accept the blame for Jared’s because Jared was only following the directives that Jensen had given him—acting first and thinking later. Jensen shrugged. “It’s not your fault.”
“Some of it is.”
“No,” Jensen disagreed. “It’s not. I could have stayed, too.” Instead of running around after Jared like a crazy person and leaving himself wide open for Ross.
In one smooth motion, Jared shifted from the chair to the couch, staring at Jensen with his earnest eyes and Jensen was keenly aware that Jared was way too close. He could feel Jared’s body heat, smell him, and know that Jared wasn’t just a drawing any more. He was flesh and blood and sitting right next to Jensen. “But you were going after me,” Jared said, his hand fumbling for Jensen’s. Jensen’s breath caught. “Because I was being stupid. I shouldn’t have gone after Ross like that. I left you alone and that’s unacceptable, Jensen.”
Jensen’s heart was beating too fast and he was remembering exactly what it felt like to kiss Jared. He was also remembering, though, what Ross had said to him in the alley way. “How is that unacceptable?” he asked, stalling for time. He had to know if Jared felt the same as Ross. He just didn’t know the best way to ask it.
“Well, I should protect you, of course,” Jared answered. “I knew what Ross was capable of and I should have been expecting it. When I saw him holding you against that wall, I was afraid that he’d hurt you. He hurts everybody, Jensen, and I know that. I should have kept you safe instead of leaving you alone.”
Jensen swallowed hard and studied how his hand was fitting into Jared’s. Like they were made for each other. “And I didn’t?” he asked. “I created Ross, remember? You don’t think that I know what he’s capable of?” Jared went quiet. He must not have had an answer for that and Jensen figured that he had no better opportunity to broach the subject that had been sitting on his mind. He just still didn’t know how to bring it up. “You like touching me,” he said finally because starting simply was always best.
Jared wrapped his fingers more firmly around Jensen’s hand, like the fact that Jensen had acknowledged what he was doing and didn’t pull away meant that he had a free pass now. “Well, yeah,” Jared said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Why would you?” Jensen countered, finally dragging his eyes up to meet Jared’s.
Jared looked confused. “Because I was born to love you, Jensen,” he said with a little laugh. Jensen’s chest constricted because that was exactly what he was expecting Jared to say. That was just what Ross told him back in the alley. Typical “creator” bullshit. Jensen tried to pull away but Jared held him tighter. “I don’t know what you want me to say here, Jensen,” he confessed, his voice picking up speed with every word. “I’ve spent the last five years knowing full well who you are and what I mean to you and you keep trying to tell me that I’m wrong.” He paused, shrugging. “It’s like—I don’t know—you don’t want this or something but I know that you do. I mean, I’ve been dreaming for forever about getting the chance to meet you, to be what you want me to be and now that I have the chance—a one in a million chance—you won’t let me do that!” His eyebrows drew downward into a glare. “I’m getting frustrated, Jensen.”
Jensen was finding it hard to breathe and his mind circled in small loops around Jared’s words. “It’s not…” he started and then trailed off because he wasn’t quite sure what to put after that.
“Not what?” Jared prompted. “Not me? Not you?”
Fuck it. “You have to love me, Jared,” Jensen said and it was more of an accusation than he meant it to be but he couldn’t stop himself. He just wasn’t sure who he was accusing: Jared for pushing this or himself for wanting it. Himself for starting the whole damn mess in the first place. “I’m like God to you. Of course you fucking love me and I’m not going to—”
Jared cut him off by laughing outright and Jensen stopped, staring in shock. Jared turned his head and just shook and Jensen couldn’t decide if he was offended by it or in love with it because Jared laughing? It was a thing of beauty. Jared’s laughter was loud and unrestrained and more incredibly free than Jensen had ever even imagined. There was no hint of mocking, either, just outright mirth but Jensen couldn’t figure out why. It took Jared a few moments to come back to himself and the entire time, Jensen was torn by the basic conflict of getting up to leave or sitting and watching. When Jared managed to get a hold of himself again, he turned his grin on Jensen and despite the fact that Jensen was still trying to figure out if he was pissed off at the fact that Jared was laughing at him, Jensen found himself wanting to return the smile. “You’re not God, Jensen,” Jared finally said. “You’re Jensen. You’re the man that I’ve been in love with for five years.”
And Jensen was hopelessly confused. “But I…”
“Created me. Yeah.” Jared wrapped a hand around the back of Jensen’s head and held him, fingers delving into his hair. “You’ve got an ego,” he teased. “It’s one of the things that I love about you. But you’re not God. You’re not perfect, Jensen.” Jared face went thoughtful, his grin dialing down a few degrees. “Is that why you kept pulling away from me? Because you thought that I only loved you because you created me?”
“It’s not exactly far-fetched,” Jensen said. He still wasn’t sure what Jared was telling him or even if Jared himself knew what he was saying.
Jared shook his head. “I love you because you’re you,” he insisted. “And don’t you dare think otherwise.” He didn’t give Jensen a chance to disagree: after he said the words he was sealing his mouth over Jensen’s and Jensen didn’t have the willpower to shove him away. He didn’t want to. Jared’s tongue was pushing into Jensen’s mouth, all too sure of its welcome, but it wasn’t wrong. Jensen let it in with a soft moan, his hands rising to grab a hold of the front of Jared’s shirt because he was starting to sway and he needed something to help keep him upright.
Jesus. Five years of nothing but his right hand was apparently enough to make him light-headed over a little bit of kissing. True, it was kissing Jared, but still.
Jensen was still unsure what exactly Jared was thinking but at the moment, he didn’t care. There was way too much blood heading south for him to be able to think clearly and all he could really process at the moment was fuck yes.
Jared might be leaving right after they fixed this mess that they were in and it was stupid to get involved but damn it, Jensen was already involved with Jared whether he wanted to be or not and here Jared was throwing himself at Jensen. Who was Jensen to say no? Jared was right. This was a one in a million chance and he’d be stupid not to take advantage of it.
It all settled crystal clear in Jensen’s head and, for once, he knew exactly what he was supposed to do. Jared groaned when Jensen shifted into his lap, his arms wrapping around Jensen’s body and holding him tight. It had been way too long since Jensen had had anybody touch him and his body felt like it was on fire. Jared was solid and hot beneath him and, much to Jensen’s embarrassment, he couldn’t stop from humping Jared like an overexcited teenager, his cock rubbing up against Jared’s stomach. Jared didn’t seem to mind, though, because he just kissed Jensen harder and pushed his hands up underneath Jensen’s shirt to span his back.
It was like a blast furnace was holding him and Jensen felt like he was about to explode. He couldn’t stop a little pathetic whine and he moved his hands to cup each side of Jared’s face, holding him like he was afraid that Jared might move. That he might disappear, get sucked right back into the paper that he’d pulled himself out of last night. He nipped at Jared’s mouth, sucking on his bottom lip, unable to get enough despite how much Jared was offering. He wanted to drown in him.
Jared surged upwards, pushing Jensen back and Jensen had no choice but to slide off the couch and put his feet under himself. It was either that or risk losing the hold that he had on Jared, risk breaking the kiss, and either of those would be, as Jared would say, unacceptable. He moaned and pushed himself up tight against Jared, wanting to be touching every available inch that he could, as Jared’s hands roamed along his back, trying to be everywhere at once. He went willingly when Jared started walking him backwards, not caring where they ended up just as long as Jared didn’t stop touching him, stop kissing him.
It was an awkward dance down the hallway but neither of them was willing to let go long enough to walk the length of it. Halfway down, Jensen wasn’t surprised to find himself pinned against the wall. In fact, he was rather thrilled with the new development. With them stopping moving, he could focus more on Jared—on how he tasted, on how his lips felt against Jensen’s, on how solid his body was, pining him against the hard wall.
Jared grabbed a hold of one of Jensen’s legs, pulling it upward and wrapping it around himself and Jensen got the hint when Jared tried to do the same with his other leg. Using the wall as a brace, Jensen jumped up and wrapped his legs around Jared’s waist, hooking them behind his back—trusting Jared to hold him up. Trusting Jared, period.
Jared’s muscles strained as he pulled Jensen away from the wall but he didn’t stumble and all in all, Jensen thoroughly approved. It was intoxicating to be with a man that could just pick him up at will and carry him off wherever. It was something that Jensen certainly wasn’t used to but something that he thought could quickly become an obsession. And moving this way, Jared got them to where they were going much faster. After a few more moments of breathless kissing, Jensen found himself dumped on his bed, bouncing a little and scooting backwards to make room for Jared.
Yeah. This was perfect. This would do. Jensen would have happily fucked Jared out on the couch in the middle of the living room but he had to admit that Jared had a point: a bed would be much better. Jared looked way too good crawling up Jensen’s black sheets for Jensen to think anything else.
Jensen couldn’t quite manage to catch his breath, feeling like he was chasing after it, and he flattened himself down as Jared moved up over top of him. With a little growl, Jared settled between Jensen’s legs, his big hands gripping Jensen’s thighs to shove them upward so that he could grind against Jensen’s ass and he bent his head down to start kissing Jensen again.
Jared’s hands were finding every little sensitive spot that Jensen knew like he had some kind of personal manual on Jensen’s body and Jensen realized with a jolt that he probably did—one given to him by Jensen himself. Jared had gotten an inside peek at everything that made Jensen tick. Jared kissed along Jensen’s neck, pulling roughly on his shirt to get the neck-hole down far enough that he could lick at Jensen’s collarbone before he apparently decided that he was too overdressed because he pulled back, ripping his shirt off over his head. Jensen wholeheartedly agreed with Jared’s assessment, his mouth going dry at the sight of the body being bared in front of him. His eyes traced up Jared’s abs and up over his chest to reach his face again, catching Jared’s smile. “Your turn,” Jared said and his hands started pulling at the buttons of Jensen’s button-up. They fumbled a little and Jensen was a little surprised to see them trembling as they worked their way down. Jared was more nervous than he was trying to let on. For some reason, that was hotter than even watching Jared strip.
Jensen started helping, undoing the bottom buttons of his shirt himself and he and Jared met in the middle, their hands tangling on the last one. With a small laugh that Jared echoed, Jensen let Jared have it and Jared quickly shoved the plastic tab through the hole. He spread Jensen’s shirt apart, baring Jensen’s chest and his hands came to rest on Jensen’s belly, his thumbs pointing toward each other as his fingers curved around Jensen’s sides. “Oh,” Jared said, small and wondering, and then he was sliding his hands upward, mapping out each part of Jensen’s body.
Jensen whimpered and returned the favor, his own fingers outlining the smooth planes and hard ridges of Jared’s body. It was like being in bed with a Greek god—some divine creature that had come down from Olympus. One of Jared’s hands skated up over Jensen’s nipples and under the open ends of his shirt to grab his shoulders, holding him still as he started kissing him again while the other bent Jensen’s leg back to the bed, holding him open and despite still being mostly clothed, it was the hottest thing Jensen had ever experienced. Jensen opened his mouth readily, sucking on Jared’s tongue, and he couldn’t hold back any longer: he shoved his hands into Jared’s pants, the looseness of the waistband giving him just enough room to fit without even bothering to undo the zipper first.
Jared jerked, startled, and then shuddered before returning to kissing Jensen harder than before. Jensen’s fingers delved inside of Jared’s boxers, pushing the fabric aside and wrapping around Jared’s thick length, stroking along the velvet smooth skin. Jared whined, desperate, as his hips bucked, grinding against Jensen’s hand and Jensen dedicated himself to trying to wring every last little sound out of Jared’s throat that he could. It was intoxicating, like a drug. Like a perfect, sweet, never-ending high.
Unfortunately, he needed to up his dosage.
“Holy crap!” a voice squeaked and Jensen eyes popped open.
“Yay, free porn!” another voice added.
“With 3D glasses, it’s even better!” a third one said and Jensen turned head to see, with no small amount of horror, that he and Jared had amassed an audience. An audience of small green peas. They were sitting around his alarm clock—the one that never had the right time on it because Jensen never used it—watching the proceedings with interest.
“My God, I didn’t know this position was possible…” one said, pushing forward. “I wish I could try…”
“You can’t,” another told it. “You don’t have any legs.”
“Ooh la la!”
“Somebody have any popcorn?”
The worst of it, though, was when one of the little ones down in front decided that its opinion was needed too. “Jensen’s a little bit flabby. He should work out a bit, no?” Jensen couldn’t stop the blush—God, just what he needed: to be a personal porno for a bunch of floating peas, critics included—and he shoved a stunned Jared away.
“Fuck off,” he growled at the assembled crowd, grabbing a hold of the ends of his shirt and pulling them together, hiding himself as he unwrapped himself from around Jared and slunk to the edge of the bed. Fuck but he needed a cigarette… What had he done with his extra pack?
“Oh, now look what you did!” one complained, smacking the small one in the head.
“I don’t believe this…” Jared whispered, staring downward at the bed where Jensen just was. Jensen sat on the edge of the bed and started to rebutton his shirt. He was debating putting on a couple more layers as well; some of the peas were still looking at him. “I don’t fucking believe this!” Jared repeated and Jensen flinched at the anger in his voice. “Really?! Really?!” He was shouting now and Jensen froze, staring at him. Jared lunged across the bed at the nightstand where the peas were gathered, swiping at them angrily. They squealed as they scattered across the room. “Get out of here! I finally get here and you guys have to ruin it! What the fuck is wrong with all of you!”
“Oh, he’s really angry this time!”
“We’re sorry, Jared!”
“It was important,” a deeper voice than the rest intoned and One set its fat ass down on the clock.
“It better be, Fatso,” Jensen said to himself and, for once, One let him get away with it. Out of guilt, Jensen was sure because interrupting something like that, it had better feel guilty. Jensen was so incredibly close to getting laid for the first time in years and his dick—despite the interruption—was still throbbing painfully between his legs even though it was slowly resigning itself to the fact that nothing was going to happen.
Jared had covered his face with his hands for a ten count and he scrubbed a little before he finally opened his eyes again. “What is it?” he asked flatly.
“We’ve found the machine,” One said.
“Fantastic,” Jensen retorted, standing up. He adjusted himself in his pants and hated his life. On the bed, Jared was looking at Jensen mournfully, still shirtless and somehow managing to look hot and utterly adorable at the same time. Jensen swallowed hard and dropped his eyes to the floor. “Later, then,” he said. He didn’t want to think about when ‘later’ might be but it sounded like the right thing to say.
“Yeah…” Jared replied miserably. “Later…”
For being a supposed genius, Chad wasn’t all that smart. “Seriously?” Jensen asked after One got done explaining where they had to go and what they had to do. One nodded solemnly. Well, fuck. Apparently, they were going to have to drive all the way back across town because Chad the Genius had gone right back to his apartment instead of high-tailing for the hills like he should have been. Jensen really didn’t want to spend another hour in the car with the Del Montes. Not to mention having Jared sitting right there beside him in the passenger side seat and Jensen being forced to keep his hands off unless he wanted to crash the car. True, he could always pull of to the side but that would just mean that they’d have an audience and what would be the point of heading over to Chad’s anyway?
Jensen swallowed and looked over at Jared who’d at least managed to get his clothes back on. That was good because Jensen was sorely tempted to say, “Fuck the world!” and just drag Jared right back into the bedroom. Matter of fact, he’d actually do it if he thought that there was some way to keep out the Del Montes. Funny how distant theoretical Apocalypses could seem. Now that he’d finally decided to do this thing, it was about damn time that they got around to it. Jared might have been made three dimensional just last night but he had a point—it had already been years.
And…what would happen when they stopped Ross, anyway? Would Jared end up going…back into the book?
Jensen shoved the thought away. He wasn’t going to think of that right now. It wouldn’t lead him anywhere but in circles and then they wouldn’t get anything done. “I’m just going to take a piss,” he announced. If he was going to be stuck in a car during noon hour traffic, that was the very least that he should do. Actually, he’d love to do more than that—especially with the way that Jared’s eyes had dropped down to stare at Jensen’s crotch like he wanted to offer to help—but, again, he knew that he wasn’t likely to be able to get away with it. …How did Jared stand this, anyway?
“Hurry up,” One said, looking disgusted. Jensen rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to flip it off. It really wouldn’t do any good.
The longer that he took, the longer that he’d have to wait to be with Jared again, too, so Jensen reluctantly peeled his eyes off of Jared—who was still staring at his crotch and flushing slightly, damn the man, anyway—and headed down the hallway, closing the bathroom door after him. Not that closed doors apparently did much good in the crazy mixed up world that Jensen was living in at the moment but there was no reason to break the habit. It at least gave him the ability to pretend that he was alone and that was just going to have to be good enough. Sighing, Jensen stepped up the toilet. It was just really too damn bad that he was positive that, if he tried anything, he’d have peas creeping in under the door because at the moment, all Jensen wanted to think about was just how Jared had looked looming over him. Fucking perfect.
“Think of waterfalls,” a dark voice whispered to him and Jensen jumped, his skin trying to crawl away. He tried to turn his head to see who was in the bathroom with him but a hand stopped him. His head was jerked to the side and a sharp pinch stabbed into Jensen’s neck. “Just relax,” the voice told him and Jensen’s world started to haze. “Sorry about this, Jensen. I can’t have you messing this up for me, you know? And…I don’t want you to get hurt.” The hand that had been holding Jensen’s head stationary now trailed down his throat and pushed underneath his shirt. “I’ll come back for you in a little while, okay? Just as soon as I take care of some unfinished business and then maybe we can have some fun…”
Ross, Jensen’s mind supplied and it took Jensen another beat to break through the haze figure out what he was supposed to do with that information. By that time, Ross was laying him down gently onto the floor. Jensen swatted weakly at him but Ross just chuckled and shrugged him off; Jensen was as effective as a fly. “Easy, now…” Ross said. “Wouldn’t want you to get hurt, Jensen. Now, you just take care and I’ll see you later…”
Jensen’s head dropped back against the floor. The room was refusing to settle down; it was spinning in circles around him like a carnival ride only Jensen had no idea how to get off. Jared, he thought. He had to tell Jared.
Just as soon as he remembered.
“Oh my God, Jensen…” a voice said and hands were lifting him up, cradling him. Jensen rolled with it, unable to do much else, not wanting to do much else. “Jensen? Jensen!” Jared (Jared?). Jared would take care of him (Jared wasn’t even real). No, Jared was definitely real. Remember? Jensen clutched weakly at Jared’s shirt, his fingers digging into the fabric. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He seems to have been dosed with a mild paralytic,” a squeaky voice said.
“Get it out of him!” Jared shouted. He clutched Jensen closer and Jensen breathed easy as he felt his world starting to fade to black. It was okay, though. Jared would keep him safe.
“No,” a third voice said, this one firm and demanding. “It will be out of his system in a few hours. Better to just let it run its course. This was obviously Ross’s doing, Jared. We can’t wait any longer—”
“I’m not leaving him,” Jared shot back and Jensen felt himself being lifted up off the floor as he let himself slip away entirely. Jared would keep him safe. Jensen knew that he would.
Jensen’s eyes opened but he still couldn’t see a thing. What was…? His head rolled over to the side and, in the darkness, green numbers blinked at him, swimming out of the inky blackness. Where was he? His body was refusing to move right. It felt sluggish, like he was trying to push through mud, inching his way towards freedom.
A thought was niggling at him, tickling the back of his mind but as distinct and solid as fog. There was something that he had to do. But what?
Well, he definitely had to get up. He couldn’t stay in bed all day, now could he? If only his body would agree to cooperate. An arm moved through Jensen’s vision and it took him a few moments to realize that it was his own. There was a start at least.
He rolled, shoving himself away from the bed violently. Maybe he’d feel better once he was on his feet. Maybe he’d remember. The only thing that he was getting right now was…dimples?
It didn’t make any sense.
He managed to get his feet under himself even if his legs were threatening to revolt and drop him where he stood. The room was swirling around him and Jensen only vaguely recognized it as his own bedroom. Hard to tell with it moving so quickly. He was used to it being a bit more stationary… His balance swayed to the right and he caught himself on the green numbers. They flashed solid for a few seconds before going back to blinking and he stared at them, bemused.
What was it that he had to remember? Something about hazel eyes and smiles. Jared had hazel eyes and he was always smiling. Plus he had ridiculous hair. What that had to do with anything, Jensen wasn’t sure, but, for some reason, he was certain that it was important. Dimples and hazel eyes and ridiculously floofy hair.
Jared. Jensen basked in the small warmth that the very name created in him, an odd mixture of pride and something a bit deeper. Perhaps he needed to draw more Jared?
That was a silly question. Jensen always needed to draw more of Jared. There was never enough. But if that was what he had to do, then Jensen was in entirely the wrong room. The green numbers beside him certainly weren’t going to help him draw…
But maybe the pea hovering in front of him would.
It was odd-looking for a pea—with two beady eyes and a big mouth and Jensen could swear that there were arms coming off the thing. That was very strange for a pea. However, it was also hovering and that was very strange too, but maybe it was entirely normal for a hovering pea. Who was Jensen to judge?
“Jensen!” it said and huh. Since when had peas started to talk? That was an interesting development. Jensen wondered if he’d ever be able to eat peas again—it would certainly be hard to eat something that was talking to you. “Jensen, you need to help Jared.”
Jared… That was right. Jensen had to talk to Jared. Tell him…something. Right?
Well, no. Because that would be stupid. Jared was a part of Jensen so he already knew everything that Jensen did, so what would the point be? Yet he was certain that whatever he had to do that he couldn’t remember, it had to do with Jared. The pea was just confirming that for him. Funny thing to have a vegetable verifying information.
It was a very big pea, though. As big as Jensen’s fist. Maybe bigger. Maybe it was a Texas pea. Wasn’t that the joke? “Jensen,” it said. “You need to focus.”
Jensen squinted at it. “I am focusing,” he replied. Or at least he tried to. His tongue was working worse that his body and his ears only caught a guttural moan.
So if what he had to remember had something to do with Jared and Jensen was here talking to a pea…then obviously he had to be dreaming. Or something. Right? He was talking to one of the Del Montes and Jared was about to spring up somewhere dressed up in only a bow? Jensen would like that. He liked bows. Not as much as he liked Jared, of course, but they had their fine points. Especially the fancy ones with all the little curls and swirls and shiny ribbon. He’d much rather die than admit that, though. They could drag that information out of his cold, dead body and while Jensen was living, he’d pretend that he had no thoughts whatsoever on bows.
Even if he really wanted to see Jared in nothing but one.
Obviously to get that, though, he’d have to follow the Del Monte. Crazy little creatures, the Del Montes. Jensen wondered what the hell he’d been smoking when he’d come up with them. You’d think that he’d remember a crack pipe or two along the way. But no, all he got was booze and cigarettes. Though, the booze might indeed have something to do with it… Jensen always was much more productive when he was drunk. Regardless of the fact of if he was any good or not. Being good and being productive, after all, weren’t mutually exclusive.
So, it must indeed be Number One that was glaring at him. Jensen doesn’t remember any other Del Monte being quite that big. Or that serious. Most of the Del Montes were rather fun. One wasn’t. One was a stick in the mud. Then again, One had to be because somebody had to keep the flights of fancy in line. But this was definitely One in front of him. Jensen smiled, glad to have figured that out. Now if only he could figure out what he was supposed to be doing, he’d be all set. Something about Jared in a bow…
Okay, maybe not a bow but still. Jensen would like that. He liked bows.
One was backing away and Jensen frowned. Was he supposed to follow? It looked like he was supposed to follow. But where were they going? To find Jared? Personally, Jensen would much rather find a dream version of Jared in his bedroom but he also knew that beggars couldn’t be choosers.
It had been forever since Jensen had gotten laid. He’d pretty much take it anywhere.
One led him out of the bedroom. Stumbling, halting, Jensen was just one step above crawling and he could see that One was getting frustrated with him. Whatever. It wasn’t as if the pea were offering to help. Jensen doesn’t see why One could just bring Jared to see him after all. He’d been the one in the bedroom. Jared was…
Just was. Jared was. For some reason, that information seemed vital as well but Jensen couldn’t put his finger on quite why. Possibly because he was currently using all of his fingers to hold himself upright making his way down the hallway after One. It was tough to put your fingers on anything when you were already using them for something else.
Somehow, they made it down the hallway and Jensen felt a vague feeling of pride. It was something that he normally did everyday in about a quarter of the time but, today, it was quite the accomplishment. They were standing in front of his studio and One zoomed right in. Oh, well, the studio was as good a place as any, Jensen figured. Probably better than some. He’d pictured Jared often enough in the studio that it would actually be quite familiar. And maybe he’d get a chance to paint Jared’s body…
Not paint as in on canvas, but actually paint Jared’s body. That would be nice. Why draw something that incredible if you didn’t ever get a chance to enjoy it, after all.
Jared, though, wasn’t in the studio. In fact, it was rather empty. Well. If you discounted the alarmingly large number of peas hovering around. Then again, Jensen didn’t exactly have a good handle on what an alarmingly large number of flying peas would be. For all he knew, they always flew in flocks like these. Whenever he drew the Del Montes, after all, he never ever finished the swarm—just had them trail off the page. There was always a lot of them. So, he supposed, that it was a normal number of peas. Perfectly normal. Except for the fact that they were zooming around his studio, but Jensen would take what he could get.
One led Jensen over to his studio chair which Jensen thought had moved back welcomingly of its own accord—awfully nice of it to do that—before he noticed the tiny hands pushing it backwards. The Del Montes again. Tiny hands were pushing at Jensen, too, and he gave in to their demands, plopping himself down in the chair which scooted up to his desk. Jensen stared down at the blank paper.
Well this certainly wasn’t Jared in nothing but a bow. There was nothing naked at all going on if you didn’t include the Del Montes but Jensen didn’t know if he could count them on the nakedness scale. It wasn’t like they ever wore clothes. He doesn’t even know how they would.
“Jared needs your help, Jensen,” One said again and Jensen blinked at him.
You know, if this were a dream that was actually going to get anywhere good, One should have left by now. He should have been long gone and Jared should have been in his place. That cemented it. This dream sucked. Then again, for some reason, Jensen was getting the feeling that this wasn’t a dream. Then again, how was he supposed to know? Maybe he’d dropped a lot of acid before bed and was tripping out of his mind. It really didn’t sound like him but, hey, it was within the realm of possibilities, right?
“Jensen!” One snapped. Apparently it was getting impatient. Now that was just silly. Where on Earth did they have to be? One was a pea and Jensen was high. They should just sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe Jared would show up. Eventually. “Are you with me?” Then again, peas really shouldn’t be talking, either. It was rather silly for a pea to talk. Jensen must have been hallucinating back when he’d created the Del Montes, too. “Yes, I talk and, no, you’re not hallucinating so stop staring at me like an idiot and concentrate!”
Now that was just rude. Jensen was concentrating. Granted, he was concentrating on how much he’d love to see Jared in nothing but a bow right now (that would make this a good trip) but it was still concentrating.
“Jared needs your help!” One shouted, jumping up and down in front of him. “I need you to focus!” Focus on what? Jensen wanted to ask. His tongue still wasn’t working. It felt heavy and dry in his mouth. “We need you to draw,” One said and a few Del Montes rolled pencils across the desk. “Hurry up and draw!”
Jensen stared at One, confused. What was he supposed to draw? Jared in a bow? That sounded like a good idea but Jensen didn’t see how it would be all that productive, really. One looked like it was having a conniption fit, bouncing up and down and waving its arms. “Listen to me! Jared is in trouble, do you understand me?” One bounced off the page and shoved Jensen’s hand on to it. “We can’t find Ross and if he finds Jared then we’re going to need something to stop him!”
Oh. Plotlines, then. Kripke always wanted Jensen to change the plotlines. They were perfectly decent but never what Kripke wanted. Kripke was kind of a douche, actually, now that Jensen thought about it.
“Jared’s always just gotten lucky before, Jensen, and we need more than luck this time. We need you to get off your lazy ass and actually do something!” And One really was a rude little bastard. “Help Jared!”
Well of course. Jensen would love to help Jared. He loved Jared, after all. Jared was his. “If he faces Ross, make sure that Jared has more than luck, Jensen,” One said. “If you love him, make sure that he has more than luck!”
Well, when it was put that way… Jensen grabbed one of the pencils, holding it awkwardly in his hand. His fingers weren’t working right and this wasn’t going to be pretty but he’d see what he could do.
“Draw it, Jensen,” One was saying. “Make it real.”
Jensen could do that. He could draw for Jared.
Jared didn’t want to be here. He really, really didn’t. If Jared had had his way, he would have been on the other side of town, sitting beside Jensen’s bed and waiting to see if One was right about the “mild paralytic” wearing off in a few hours. He would not be here, sitting outside of a rundown apartment complex for the second time today. Jensen was strung out and defenseless back home and Jared should be there, with him. But he’d had no choice. Ross had given him no other options.
Jared had found Jensen on the bathroom floor, drugged and vulnerable and Jared wanted to know just exactly how Ross snuck in, anyway. The Del Montes were supposed to be watching, damn it.
…That, Jared knew, was probably part of the problem. Some of the Del Montes? Liked Ross. Every single one of the Del Montes had a different opinion and some of them didn’t see him as dangerous—just a friend in need of a little help. Yeah, sure. Ross was in need of a little “help” alright. Jared would help him. Right back into whatever underhanded place he’d climbed out of. He’d touched Jensen twice now, had hurt Jensen twice now and that was unacceptable.
Luckily, One didn’t share the opinion of Ross basically being an upstanding guy. One knew just how dangerous Ross was, what Ross really wanted and One was committed to standing in Ross’s way because of it. That was good because Jared had had no choice but to leave Jensen behind and if he was going to have to do that, he needed it to be with someone that he could trust. As it was, Jared hadn’t wanted to leave in the first place. He’d wanted to stay right there by Jensen’s side because what if Ross came back? Jared had failed miserably in protecting Jensen twice now—he wasn’t going to do it a third time.
One hadn’t been too happy at the idea of being left behind. Jared had given no other options, though. Either One stayed or Jared did and that was final. Seeing as how One definitely wanted Jared to go pick up the machine before Ross got a hold of it, that really hadn’t been a choice.
So here he was, having miraculously managed not to crash during his first driving experience ever (would it have killed Jensen to have given him a car in the book world?). Actually, Jared thought that he’d done quite well all things considering. There’d been a few close calls (okay, more than a few), but Jensen’s car had survived without a scratch (he was sure that he could buff that little one on the back fender right out).
“Oh, this is definitely the right place,” one of the Del Montes said.
“Yeah,” another one chimed in, “you should see the distortions. They’re getting worse.”
“Worse?” Jared asked in disbelief. The thing was already tearing a hole in the fabric of time and space. Just how much worse could it get?
The Del Monte who’d admitted to the situation being worse shrugged. “Worse,” it said and then offered Jared its glasses as if that would help. Jared sighed. So apparently holes in space and time were only a stepping stone on the scale of bad to worse. Who knew? He slid out of the car, holding the door open for the flood of Del Montes that had tagged along with him. The sooner that they went in and grabbed the machine that was causing this whole mess, the sooner that he could get back to Jensen.
The yellow pinto that had been parked in front of the apartment building the last time was still there but it looked like it had been reparked, this time actually not even bothering to make an attempt at staying off the sidewalk. The entire front end was up on the cracked cement, nearly running straight into a fire hydrant. Jared was exactly an expert on the rules of the road, but he was fairly certain that that was worth a ticket at least. He hoped that the owner managed to move it soon; they must have been in a hurry. Like Jared.
Jared quickly entered the building and began climbing up the now familiar stairs again. Beside him, the Del Montes were still talking, but quieter than usual, like they were realizing that this was a serious time.
“It’s on the third floor again,” one whispered.
“Oh, yes, definitely, I can feel it.”
“Yes, it’s there. I can feel it humming!”
“It doesn’t hum! It’s more of a drone!”
“Well, I think it’s a very pretty hum!”
Jared tuned out the chatterboxes as he climbed the stairs up to the third floor for the second time today. He had no idea why Chad would have wanted to come back to his apartment after successfully running away and making off with his prized possession. Maybe he just thought that it would be the last place that anyone would ever look. It was sensible enough, Jared supposed. After all, Chad had no idea that Jared would have…help. The Del Montes might make his life a living Hell at times but they did have their uses. They were better than bloodhounds.
…Jared didn’t want to think about what it said about him that he was essentially using extremely powerful (if flighty), apparently trans-dimensional creatures as dogs. He was entirely too blasé about this whole situation lately.
At the entrance to the third floor, Jared pushed open the door, heading for apartment 3C again. He stopped, though, when a familiar face smiled at him. Standing directly outside of 3A was Jeff, the cop from the alley way, holding the door open as he talked to a small dark-skinned woman. As Jared approached, the woman shrank away, staring suspiciously at Jared. One of her eyes had a black ring around it, a mottling that ran down her cheek, and Jared winced in sympathy. “I’ll talk to you later, Lucia,” Jeff said to the woman, giving her an easy way out. “Remember not to let him in again.” The woman nodded quickly and shut the door, the lock snicking into place. Jeff turned to face Jared. “She won’t press charges,” he said, shaking his head. “She never does.” He changed the subject, focusing the conversation on Jared. “I didn’t expect to see you back here so soon. Where’s your boyfriend?”
Jared pushed down the unexpected flood of warmth he felt at hearing Jensen referred to as his ‘boyfriend.’ He’d never had one of those before, actually. But he was really hoping that that was exactly what Jensen was. He was, right? As far as Jared was concerned, they’d been sort of dating for over five years now… He’d crossed a dimension for Jensen, that earned him to right to be Jensen’s boyfriend, right? “He’s home,” Jared said easily. He jerked his thumb towards apartment 3C. “Had to stop by and see Chad again…”
“Oh, you guys friends of Chad’s?”
Jared shrugged with a smile. “Kind of.” They would definitely be his friends when they took the machine away from him—whether Chad realized that or not. Better to have Jared steal Chad’s ‘atomic toaster,’ though, than Ross. Either way, that toaster was going. It was just a matter of how.
“That boy needs more friends,” Jeff said. “Want a beer?”
“Actually…” Jared hedged before stopping himself. Actually, that might not be a bad idea. Jeff would at least have to go back to his apartment to get it which might buy Jared enough time to do a quick snatch and grab—with a little help from the guys, that was. “That sounds great.”
“Great!” Jeff smiled. “I’ll be right back and join you guys.”
“Yay!” one of the Del Montes cheered as Jeff headed down the hallway, presumably to his own apartment. “We’re getting free beer!”
“He didn’t mean for you,” another one said bitterly. “We never get anything good.”
“You guys can’t hold your liquor,” Jared said, rolling his eyes. They acted like they never got anything when he distinctly remembered them getting into a six pack just last week. He remembered because it had resulted in a completely trashed house, courtesy of an entire mob of drunk peas. In their defense, it was probably hard to moderate their drinking with how small they were. “And we’re not staying anyway.”
A few of the guys pouted but Jared ignored them. Most of them were focused and that was the important part. The few stragglers would get into line. “Now, listen, I need you guys to work with me on this.” The guys started to bounce back and forth, letting Jared know that they were with him. “Okay, so you’re certain that Chad’s in there, right?”
“Oh, yes,” four chimed in unison.
“Okay,” Jared said. “That means that there’s going to have to be a distraction.”
“Ooh, I like distractions! Can I be the distraction, Jared?”
“But he can’t see you! How distracting could you be?”
“I’m sure that I could—”
Jared stopped the fight before it managed to get going. They were on a time crunch here. “I’m going to be the distraction,” he said, pointing at himself. “Me. I’ll get Chad to focus on me and I need you guys to steal the machine. Can you do that?”
“All of the machine?” one asked.
“Of course not,” another one answered. “That would take too long. Jared just wants us to take the main contraption. The one with the booster crystal. Right, Jared?”
Jared had no idea what the guys were talking about but he really hoped that they were all on the same page. “Uh, yeah. The toaster. Whichever one that is—the one that Chad took with him. Can you do that?”
“You can count on us!”
“I still want a beer.”
Jared closed his eyes. “I’ll get you a beer if you get me the toaster, deal?”
“Deal!” a chorus of Del Montes said—a lot more, Jared noticed, than the one that had originally wanted the beer. Dear God, what was he getting himself into…?
It didn’t matter. As long as they got the machine and got back to Jensen, Jared would be happy. He’d deal with everything—including possibly drunk Del Monte shenanigans—later. Much, much later. “Okay, guys. That’s the plan then. Are we ready?” The Del Montes answered in unison and Jared pushed back any second thoughts. Time to do this.
The door opened after the first knock. “I thought you’d come back you, invention thief! They always come back to the scene of the crime!” Chad said, standing in the doorway and trying to look as big and imposing as his scrawny frame would let him. He held a rolled up magazine in his hand, holding it against his hips as he braced both hands on his waist and puffed up his chest.
“Chad,” Jared said, holding up his hands and trying to be placating. “You’ve got it all wrong; I didn’t want to steal your machine; Ross did!” The Del Montes swarmed right on past Chad, weaving in an out as they headed into the living room. Jared could see the sprawling monstrosity that he had met earlier this morning still looking as rag tag as ever. The ‘toaster’ wasn’t attached, though. It was sitting in a place of honor on the couch.
“Yeah, that’s what you said,” Chad accused. “But then I went and found this and you’re not university people!” He slapped the rolled up magazine against Jared’s chest and Jared realized that it wasn’t a magazine but instead an issue of a comic book. Issue number 57, actually. And, of course, in typical Small Small World fashion, his face was blazoned across the cover, lovingly detailed by Jensen. Well, shit. “How do you explain this?” Chad demanded. “You and your little boyfriend must have fallen on hard times if you’re looking to steal my inventions! I am not an easy mark my friend! I have eyes like a hawk! Like a hawk!”
Jared scratched at his head, trying hard to come up with a plausible excuse. “Well, you see, so I might have posed for a few—”
“Oh, I bet you posed alright!” Chad said, still full of bluster. “I see you. I know what you’re up to!”
Jared raised his eyebrows. “And that is?”
Chad drew back for half a second before he exploded. “Stealing inventions, obviously!” Jared really didn’t want to explain to Chad that he wasn’t particularly interested in Chad’s inventions—nothing personal, just not his thing, really. Somehow, though, he had the sneaking suspicion that Chad wouldn’t believe him. Especially since, well, Jared was about to steal one of his inventions. Or rather the guys were. They were poking at the toaster and trying to figure out the best way to pick it up and get it out the window…the window that Ross was climbing in from.
“Son of a…” Jared whispered, taking a step forward.
“And where do you think you’re going?” Chad shrieked, stopping him.
Jared pointed. “There,” he said. Ross had noticed them both, smiling as he grabbed up the machine despite the swirling Del Montes. Some were chatting to him happily while others were attempting to lecture him but none were thinking to stop him. So very, very typical.
“Oh, I don’t think so!” Chad said. “You just want to—”
“No, Chad, there.” Jared grabbed a hold of Chad’s face and physically turned him to be able to see Ross standing in the middle of Chad’s living room like he owned the place. Chad’s jaw dropped.
“Son of a bitch!” Jared rolled his eyes. Now he noticed.
Pausing, realizing that he wasn’t going to get a clean get-away, not this time, Ross shook his head, chuckling quietly. “Should have just let me take it, Jared,” he said.
“Drop it!” Chad shouted, turning away from Jared and striding towards Ross. “I don’t believe this! I have to watch you guys from all angles, don’t I?” He strode up to Ross, brandishing his comic book like it was a weapon. Ross looked completely unconcerned.
Then again, he had a reason. When Chad was within a few feet of him, smiling, Ross pulled out a gun from behind his back. He pointed it at Chad who immediately froze, dropping the comic book to the floor and holding his hands up. “That’s close enough,” Ross said cheerfully. Cheating bastard.
Chad’s eyes were white around the edges. “Dude,” he squeaked. “Is that real?”
“No,” Ross mocked, “It’s a fake one that I just brought along to impress you.”
“Really?” Chad asked hopefully and Ross blinked.
“No.” He motioned back toward Jared with the gun. “Now get back along the wall.” Chad started backing up, nearly hyperventilating, one step away from falling to his knees. Jared would have felt sorry for him if he didn’t feel the exact same way. As it was, Jared didn’t have the time to sympathize with Chad.
Jared knew that he only had one shot at this. Ross was far too good to let him get another. While Chad was distracting him, though, maybe, just maybe… Jared darted towards Ross, determined to take him down while he still had the chance. One shot.
He never got it. With ruthless speed, Ross turned away from Chad and trained his gun on Jared, pulling the trigger. Jared heard the bang reverberate through the room and all he could think was Oh, fuck…. There was no way that he could avoid the bullet—he was too close, Ross was too good, there just wasn’t enough time. Was he about to die?
He felt himself roughly shoved to the left, stumbling to the side with the bullet just barely missing him, passing through the air that he’d just been standing in and sinking into the door jamb behind him. The Del Montes were swarming around him, chattering fiercely—nothing that Jared could make out—and Jared stared at them, dumbfounded. They’d just saved his life…. Jesus, he could have died! Just how would he ever have explained that one to Jensen?
“Fuck,” Ross swore and Jared jerked his head up to face him. Ross glared and took aim again. “You won’t get lucky again.”
“Holy shit!,” Chad said, scrambling out of the way. “Holy shit!” He skittered out of the living room and down the hallway. Jared wanted to join him but Ross had the gun leveled at him again.
“Get down!” a voice roared and Jared dropped. He hit the floor just as a dark shape flashed past him, barreling into the room. Ross moved the gun to focus on who was charging him but instead of firing, he froze for just a minute, his eyes widening and it was enough time for Jeff Morgan to slam into him, shoving him towards the floor. Ross tried to catch himself, grabbing onto Jeff and fighting back—anything he could do to keep himself upright. The machine tumbled out of Ross’s hands, smashing onto the floor. Jared heard it break—heard the metal snap and something crystalline shatter—but he was too busy focusing on the fight to figure out what that meant.
Ross was trying his hardest to shake Jeff off but everything he did, Jeff countered, and Ross was just off-balance enough to finish tipping over, falling backwards towards the floor. He grabbed a hold of Jeff’s shirt, dragging him along, set to continue the fight on ground level, but he never had a chance: they never made it to the floor.
The Del Montes were still talking too fast for Jared to figure out what they were saying but they left him in a rush, shooting towards Ross and Jeff and swarming around them as they fell. They started to circle the pair, spinning faster and faster into a whirlwind and Jared watched wide-eyed as a funnel developed…leading straight down into the comic book. Jared scrambled backward and flattened himself to the wall, keeping himself as far away from the scene in front of him as possible. God, no, please… He didn’t want to go…
“No!” Ross shouted. “No!” He tried to shove Jeff off and throw himself to the side but he was already in the middle of it all and getting sucked inside. “No!”
“What the Hell?” Jeff got out and then he was gone, impossibly disappearing into the pages of the book, an unwilling victim. Ross held on for a few moments later, his hands dragging across the floor, squeaking on the wood and then he was gone too, disappearing in a swirl of green and a ripple of reality.
The Del Montes were starting to be pulled in too, the funnel that they’d created starting to dwindle and cycling into the book, though, as they slowed, Jared could see that more than a few were willingly throwing themselves in, smiles on their little faces. Still others were breaking formation, zooming off to the ceiling, apparently not wanting to go.
Jared’s breathing was rapid and heavy as he inched to the side, slipping back into the doorway and out into the hall. The whirlwind was starting to ripple outwards, growing unstable and he wasn’t going back. If it was the last thing he did, he wasn’t going back—Jensen wasn’t there. Jensen was here and Jared was staying.
There was a loud suction noise as the Del Montes finally stopped, either breaking off to fly away or throwing themselves into the book, riding the dying ripples of the tear in reality. The entire room shuddered, one last undulation of reality before it firmed up again, leaving a shaken Jared, some chattering Del Montes, a broken machine and an open comic book.
“You have got to be shitting me…” And Chad. “This isn’t happening. This is impossible. This is…this is…”
Jared didn’t wait to find out what Chad thought it might be. He pushed himself to his feet, catching himself on the door when he swayed and stepped cautiously into the room. He knew that he couldn’t risk Chad possibly being able to fix the machine. He had to take it with him. He just didn’t want to get any closer to the comic book than he had to, just in case it was still “active.” He braced himself and leaned, using his long arms to reach out and snag and metal pieces that had once been Chad’s atomic toaster and his unwitting cross-dimensional facilitating device. He pulled them to him, gathering them up and then took off running for the stairs, leaving the open comic book where it laid. Behind him, Chad was still gibbering. “…this is…this is…”
Jared didn’t want to know what this was. He just wanted to be with Jensen. And that was exactly where he was going to be.
As he hazily returned to the land of the living, there was only one thing that Jensen was sure of: There was somebody in bed with him. A shock of surprise ran through him but his limbs were coated in a kind of lazy lethargy that kept them from bolting him upright. Instead, he stayed right where he was, his body not willing to move that fast. Well alrighty, then. Jensen turned his head to at least see who he was in bed with and came face to face with an extremely familiar set of eyes.
“Hi,” Jared said quietly and the past few days came flooding back to Jensen. Jared was real. And he wanted Jensen. Ross was real and he wanted the end of the world. The Del Montes were real and they wanted—it didn’t matter what they wanted. Jensen suspected that it would probably have something to do with food and/or coffee and it didn’t bear thinking on.
“Jared?” Jensen asked and Jared nodded. So Jared was back. He was still here and back. Provided this wasn’t some kind of crazy dream or cracked out hallucination, Jared was back. That had to mean that he’d won, right? Or that at least something had gone right? The last thing that Jensen remembered clearly was getting ready to leave with Jared to go get the machine and then…Ross. “Ross?” he asked. His voice sounded rusty and disused, choked with sleep. Just how long had he been out?
Jared was lying on Jensen’s pillow, under his blankets, in his bed and seemed perfectly comfortable being there. It was a little presumptuous but Jensen thought that he liked it. Maybe even more than just liked it. In fact, he kind of loved it. Jared needed to be in his bed more often. “Back in the book,” Jared said and it took Jensen a minute to translate that.
“…Back in the book?”
Jared nodded. “Got sucked back in. I didn’t, though.” He wiggled closer, looking for all the world like an overexcited puppy. Jensen, though, wasn’t letting him off with just that.
“What about the machine?” he asked. Didn’t they have to take care of that? Wasn’t it tearing a hole in the fabric of time and space? That should be a priority, shouldn’t it? Granted, Jared was here but…
“It broke,” Jared said. He reached out a hand, touching Jensen’s face and Jensen had to sigh with just how warm Jared felt. It was still kind of blowing his mind that Jared was really real. “Ross dropped it. It broke. The hole closed up.” Jared pulled a face. “The guys say that it was some kind of rare meteorite crystal or something in the machine that was causing it to do, you know. Whatever.” He sounded supremely disinterested in how the whole thing had come about but that was hardly new.
Jensen, though, was trying hard to process all of this. Apparently the world had been saved while he’d been out cold. “So the machine’s broken, the hole’s gone and Ross is back in the book but you’re not?” he summarized, feeling just a little bit dizzy. Jesus. Had he been asleep for a year?
Jared nodded again. “The guys shoved him back in. Him and Jeff.”
“Jeff?” Jensen scanned his mind, trying to think of any possible ‘Jeff’ that he might know but all he was getting with a vague idea of a weary smile and warm brown eyes. And then it hit him, pieced together memories steamrolling over him.
“Ross hesitated when he saw him,” Jared said, shrugging. “I don’t know why.”
Jared might not have known why but Jensen sure as hell did. He had a vague recollection of just exactly what he’d done and now he knew that it hadn’t been a dream. Guilt seeped into him, slowly pooling into the pit of his stomach; he hadn’t meant for that to happen. It was just supposed to… It had been the only thing that he could think of at the time. He hadn’t been thinking too clearly, after all. Jensen cleared his throat. He wondered if the picture was still on the desk in his studio, if it was any good. He wondered how Jeff was doing. Jeff hadn’t deserved that. “I…” Aw, Hell, he might as well just confess to it all. “I made Jeff Ross’s happy memory,” Jensen said. Jared frowned at him so Jensen clarified. “Ross didn’t have any. He didn’t have any weaknesses, either.” He remembered One talking to him about that.
“So you gave him one,” Jared finished as if that made any sense at all. Then again, Jensen supposed it made just about as much sense as the rest of this. “The picture that you wouldn’t let go of.” Jared suddenly sat up and leaned across Jensen’s lap. Jensen found himself sucking in his stomach just because he didn’t know just how he would act if Jared touched him but it would probably be inappropriate considering that he was supposed to be getting answers. Unfortunately, the action made him breathe in Jared’s scent and he realized that Jared wasn’t smelling of ink and paper any more. Jared was smelling one hundred percent real—sweat and humanity and a bit like Jensen’s soap. The whole thing together was intoxicating and Jensen was suddenly hard. Damn. “Here,” Jared said, snatching a piece of drawing paper off the nightstand on Jensen’s side. He moved back onto his own side and for a brief moment, Jensen was disappointed. He wanted Jared leaning back over him. Realizing just how pathetic that was, he made himself drop his attention to the paper that Jared had sat in his lap.
It was a rough sketch, one that could use a whole lot of work, but Jensen knew exactly what it was. What it had meant. Maybe that was what maybe all the difference… The intent behind something. Because he remembered being incoherent and all drugged-up to Hell and back but he remembers having intent when he drew the picture. It was a picture of a wide-open park in the height of summer, the grass full and flowers in bloom, and there, vaguely in the middle was a sketch teenage boy smiling for real for possibly the first time in his life. Beside him was a man that looked uncannily like Jeff. Jensen hadn’t meant to use Jeff as his inspiration, not at first. But he could definitely remember ending the picture with the knowledge of who it was supposed to be. A guy like Jeff, a Good Samaritan, was exactly what Ross had needed in his life—something that he’d never gotten.
Jensen had hoped that a happy memory, deep-seated in Ross’s past would make it enough that he might possibly stop what he was doing. He’d never counted on Jeff actually being there…
At least he didn’t think so. It hurt too much to think. Jensen set the paper aside, laying it back on the nightstand. “It’s my fault,” he said.
“What is?” Jared asked, clueless.
Jensen pointed at the paper. “It’s my fault that he’s stuck in there.”
Jared blinked. “You didn’t make Jeff charge Ross,” he said. “Jeff did that all on his own.”
“Yeah, but I guarantee he didn’t expect to be sucked into a comic book world for doing it!” Jared shrugged, looking entirely too unconcerned about the whole damn thing and Jensen glared. “He’s in another world, Jared. And he’s stuck there.”
Jared drew back a little from Jensen’s anger. “…But he likes it there,” he protested.
“And how do you know?” Jensen demanded. “How do you know that he likes it there?”
“Because…the guys told me?”
“The guys. The can…communicate or something across the divide.” Jared waggled his hand at the word ‘divide’ and, again, looked remarkably unconcerned for just how the whole thing worked. “They say that Jeff’s happier where he is. You know, the world that you made, Jensen, it’s not exactly all bad. I wouldn’t mind being there if it had you…”
Jensen swallowed and put the last half of Jared’s sentence out of his head. There would be time to take that one out and marvel over it later (Jared wanted to be with him!). Instead he focused on the middle. “How does he know that he’s happier? It’s only been, what…” He glanced at the clock, seeing the time as 6:45 a.m. That meant it was nearly seven p.m. “…a few hours. How would he know that?”
“Time works differently in the book, Jen,” Jared said. Once again, Jensen let the nickname go and it was entirely because of the little shuddery skip his heart made when Jared said it. “It doesn’t…flow, uh, right…” He frowned. “It’s hard to explain. But he’s been there for about a week now.”
“Oh,” Jensen replied weakly. He couldn’t think of anything else to say, really. His guilt trip had been cut off short. But… “What about Ross?”
Jared shrugged again. “Turned over a new leaf. He’s still kind of crazy but, uh…” He trailed off and stared at the bed for a few moments before looking back up at Jensen. “I guess he’s on medication or something now?” Jared was staring straight at Jensen with the same eyes that Jensen had drawn countless times, the same face, and it hit Jensen that he wasn’t going to be able to draw it in a comic book anymore. That would be just too…weird. Jared wasn’t in the comic books anymore. He was in the real world.
But Jensen knew who was still in Small Small World. And he realized that Kripke was going to get his wish: Jared’s series was indeed going to get canceled. But not Small Small World. Matter of fact, now that he thought about it, he had some storyboarding to do…
A hand caught a hold of Jensen’s wrist, stopping Jensen from sliding off the bed towards the studio and Jensen stared at it bemused. “Where are you going?” Jared asked and when Jensen looked up, even though he’d just been thinking something else, the real answer was obvious.
“Nowhere.” He wasn’t going anywhere when Jared was looking at him like that.
“Good,” Jared said, leaning towards him again and Jensen’s breath caught. “Because it’s ‘later.’” He was just inches away from kissing Jensen, so close that Jensen could nearly feel him, feel his body heat, but Jensen had just one last, very important, question.
“Where are the peas?” he asked. If they were going to do this, the answer to that question was vitally important.
Jared grinned. “Out,” he said gleefully and crossed the last few inches to press against Jensen’s lips. That was probably the best news that Jensen had heard yet. Jensen let himself sag forward into the kiss, giving himself over to it and Jared wiggled happily, pushing closer, his big hands rising to cup Jensen’s face.
Fuck yes, Jensen thought, letting everything else go. They’d won. They’d survived. They’d saved the world and Jared was here and the damn hole was closed and Jared was still here. If Jensen were the type, he’d be jumping for joy. As it was, he settled for lying back down and pulling Jared along with him, a fist in Jared’s shirt. That would work just fine.
He couldn’t help it. He liked it when Jared was on top of him. There was just something so incredibly primal about having a bigger guy pressing him into the bed. And it was Jared. Jared who’d stayed in an unfamiliar world just to be with him. Jared who had been his for years, just waiting for Jensen.
Jensen kissed Jared again and deepened it as he ran his hands down Jared’s arms, fingers trailing along his muscles, and spread his legs, wrapping them around Jared’s waist. Jared bucked forward, grinding himself against Jensen, whining helplessly. Yeah. That was hot. Jared needed to be a whole lot more naked. Jensen pushed at Jared’s shirt until Jared got the hint and pulled back enough to strip it off himself and then come back. Jensen moaned happily when his hands came into contact with nothing but bare skin. Jared return the favor by pushing Jensen’s shirt up over his head as well, dragging it off of him.
Screw foreplay, Jensen thought. He’d had five years of foreplay. Jared apparently agreed because when Jensen went directly for Jared’s jeans, Jared was right there with him, shoving them off over his hips and trying his damnedest to set a new world record for getting out of them. As Jared worked on that, Jensen kicked his own off, sliding them down over his hips and stripping them off his legs to throw them to far corner of the room. He dragged Jared back down before Jared was completely ready, needing to kiss him again.
It was like he couldn’t get enough of Jared. Now that he’d decided to do this—now that he’d realized that he could have this—he wanted to gorge himself on everything that was Jared. Jared kissed back just as eagerly, pure passion and little technique but Jensen knew the feeling. It was getting sloppy fast but that was just fine with him.
Jared tilted his head to the side, biting down Jensen’s neck and making Jensen shiver before coming back up and kissing him again, grinding against him. Jesus but the guy was big. Jensen felt an odd sense of pride as he fumbled between their bodies and grabbed a hold of Jared’s dick. Jensen had done a great job, he had to admit. Fantastic. Jared was thick and heavy in his hand and perfect. He couldn’t wait for it to be inside of him. It’d been years since he’d been fucked and God but he’d been missing it. His own fingers and whatever toys he’d convinced himself into buying would never equal the real thing.
“Yeah, come on…” he said, stroking Jared’s dick. Jared whimpered, his hips rocking forward. “Do it…”
Jared stared down at him for a few seconds before squeezing his eyes shut and reaching down to grip his own dick at the base, freezing up as he bit his lip. Jensen moaned helplessly—seeing Jared riding the edge of orgasm already was making his own dick throb—and shoved two fingers into his mouth, swirling them around and getting them wet.
“Oh fuck…” Jared breathed. He was back to watching Jensen, his mouth open and panting. Jensen pulled his fingers out and smirked up at him as he brought them down in between his legs. He slowly pushed them inside of himself, stretching himself, enjoying the slight burn and how Jared was staring at him like he wanted to eat him whole.
“Lube’s in the drawer,” Jensen said huskily and Jared was suddenly leaning over, jerking open the drawer of the nightstand and fumbling through it. He was making a mess out of it—tossing things aside left and right—but Jensen didn’t care. There were condoms in there, too, but that was up to Jared. Personally, Jensen really didn’t want them. He didn’t need them. When Jared came back, his hands were shaking as they clasped onto Jensen’s thighs. Jensen could understand that feeling, too. “Yeah,” he said encouragingly, pulling his fingers out to make room for Jared. God, it was going to be awesome.
It took Jared three tries to finally get the cap of the lube bottle open and Jensen squirmed impatiently, running his hands over Jared’s forearms. He wanted this show on the road as in yesterday. Jared nodded, apparently to himself, and then he was pushing a finger inside of Jensen and Jensen was willing to forgive him anything. He arched upward, biting his lip as Jared slowly smeared the lube around. “Up…” Jensen muttered and Jared did just that, finger glancing across Jensen’s prostate and making him see stars. “Fuck…”
Jared froze. “Is that okay?” he asked and Jensen nodded quickly.
“Fucking fantastic,” he said, wrapping his legs around Jared’s waist. “Hurry up.” As fun as this was, if Jared kept it up, Jensen was going to be done long before they even had a chance to get going. Maybe some other time, they’d have a chance to explore this some more but right now, Jensen just needed Jared inside of him.
Jared exhaled harshly and lined himself up as he pulled his finger out, smearing the left over lube on his dick. Jensen pulled him in, tightening up his legs and Jared pushed hesitantly inside, like he was unsure of his size. That was okay because Jensen was more than sure enough for the both of them. His eyes fluttered and his toes were beginning to curl. Fuck, yeah. How had he managed to live without this? Jared was filling him up so completely it was blowing his damn mind. His fist balled in the sheets, needing the tension to steady himself, to keep himself grounded.
“Fuck,” Jared whined, bending over, resting his forehead against Jensen’s shoulder as his hands slid underneath Jensen’s shoulders, elbows bracing himself. “Jen.” Jensen moaned at the sound of the nickname, loving it and loving the tone that Jared was using to say it. “It feels so good…”
“Mmm,” Jensen agreed and Jared sank in the rest of the way, resting against him.
Jared was pressing small, quick, grateful kisses along Jensen’s face muttering about “I never knew it would feel this good,” and “So amazing…” and “God, Jensen.” Jensen turned his head and caught on of Jared’s kisses, drawing him in for a long one as he started to rock his hips, encouraging Jared to thrust. He wrapped his arms around Jared’s shoulders, hands snaking up to bury in Jared’s hair. Jared whimpered and followed his lead, moving into a rhythm with him.
It was slow and deep and each slide inward had Jensen’s back arching. It was slow and easy and perfect but Jensen knew that he needed more. “Harder,” he coaxed and Jared groaned as he obeyed, his hips moving faster and rougher, pounding into Jensen. Jared panted above him and Jensen reached for his dick, wrapping his hand around it and jerking himself off as Jared lost himself in the pleasure of fucking. A few hard pulls later and Jensen was going blind, his vision flashing to white as he came, spilling on to his chest. Jared kept fucking him through it, gasping and shivering before he suddenly froze and Jensen felt his insides being flooded.
“God,” Jared moaned, burying his face in the junction of Jensen’s neck and holding on tight as he shuddered his way through his orgasm. Jensen smiled happily as he eased down from his own climax, feeling sated and lazy and more relaxed than he’d felt in years. Jared collapsed on top of him, bearing him down into the mattress but Jensen didn’t care. He rather liked the feeling and had no plans on moving.
It took Jared a few minutes to finally come back to himself but, when he did, he lifted up a bit—as much as Jensen would allow him to—and tilted his head to kiss Jensen, his tongue pushing into Jensen’s mouth to duel lazily with Jensen’s own. “That was awesome,” Jared purred, nuzzling against Jensen’s cheek. “So much better than jerking off.”
“Mmm,” Jensen agreed automatically before his sluggish mind started to piece a few things together. Jared was still deep inside him and that was definitely distracting but Jensen was regaining the ability to add one and one to equal two. “When you say that it’s better than jerking off…” he started. “Do you mean…?” he trailed off, looking up at Jared who raised his eyebrows and pulled a face.
“Well, it’s not like you ever gave me a boyfriend or anything,” Jared said honestly. “Besides, I was waiting for you, you jerk.” Jensen closed his eyes. He’d just kind of, sort of, unknowingly deflowered a virgin. He didn’t know whether that was hot or…really hot, actually. “So…” Jared started, rocking his hips suggestively and causing Jensen to gasp as Jared moved inside of him, “as you can guess, I’m a little behind in the experience department. That means that we’re going to have to go again real soon. Make up for lost time.”
Jensen couldn’t disagree with that. They had a lot of years to make up for, after all. Jared grinned down at him. “Love you,” he said, pressing a kiss to the corner of Jensen’s mouth and Jensen still couldn’t believe that Jared was real. That Jared—perfect, incredible Jared—was his. He’d crossed an impossible void and, somehow, amazingly, it was such a small, small world.
“This is so delicious!”
“You’re such a pig! Don’t eat it all!”
“Yeah, you have to share!”
“Not if I manage to eat it all before you do!”
“Anybody want any coffee?”
“No, but I really could use a beer…”
“You’re not getting any more alcohol! I remember what happened the last time!”
“Oh, hey what’s this—AH! MY EYE!”
Jensen had no idea just exactly how he’d managed to get used to all the chaos that now seemed to follow him around but, somehow, he had. The swarm of Del Montes currently running amok in his studio hardly made him bat an eyelash now. Of course, it had taken a few months but he’d done it. A few months of Jared being amazingly patient with him as he’d lost his temper again and again and, really, Jensen didn’t think he deserved Jared. No one did. The man should be nominated for sainthood for all that he’d put up with in the past five months.
Such as the time that Jensen had snapped and painted numbers in blazing red paint on all the Del Montes in an attempt to tell them apart, not to mention count the little buggers (he could swear that they were multiplying even though they claimed that they weren’t). Even Jared, though, had to admit that that had been pretty hilarious. Especially with the conniption fit that One had thrown. Personally, Jensen had thought it was more out of not wanting to lose his position as number one among the peas than anything else.
Jared had even put up with the weirdness that was publishing one last comic of his “adventures”—sort of as a wrap up to the Jared-version of Small Small World. Jared, of course, hadn’t thought that it was weird at all but Jensen sure had. Now, though, it was over and done with and Jensen had a brand new series. And a brand new publisher. Gamble Comics was a bit different than Kripke, if only because Sera was a kinder, gentler overlord. She was more willing to let Jensen do as he pleased and never pushed for a bit more spandex to appear in his productions. She did, however, push for a bit more shirtless scenes which, considering the more adult audience of Gamble Comics was only to be expected.
Jensen had left Kripke Comics right after he’d informed Kripke about his plans for his next series, Small Small World II, and the man had just about been fit to be tied. Hey. It wasn’t Jensen’s fault that Ross had made a few new life choices and now Jensen felt compelled to draw those (okay, so that was kind of weird, too, but Jensen was getting over that—he had to make a living somehow). It really hadn’t been Jensen’s decision for Ross to move in with Jeff (now a cop on the streets of Small Small World)(yeah, weird actually didn’t even begin to cover it). Nor had it been Jensen’s decision for Ross to want to fight his old evil allies. That had been all Ross’s doing (with, of course, some help from Jeff). Jensen was just opting to relay the story of it. So, really, Jensen’s hands had been tied and he’d had no choice but to leave Kripke behind. Spandex just really wasn’t his thing, after all.
Not unless it had Jared in it, but that wasn’t exactly something that Jensen thought needed to be published. That was more “private collection” material. Speaking of his own, personal muse…
Jensen looked up from his contemplation of the last issue of Small Small World across his desk to where Jared was sitting at a table in the studio, reading one of his textbooks. He’d decided to go back to school just last month, actually, to get his degree in engineering, the same as he’d been going for in Small Small World. Unfortunately, no real world university was about to accept fictional credits from a fictional school, so Jared had been forced to start over but the good news was that he was well acquainted with a great deal of the material and so was in a special, accelerated course. And acing it.
Jensen felt his heart skip a beat just looking at Jared and, even after five months, he still had a hard time believing that Jared was real, that he wasn’t a hallucination or a sign of Jensen going crazy. He was just that incredible, especially sitting framed by the light as he was. It was a familiar position for him and one that made Jensen itch to draw him even though he’d already done so countless times in the past. The world, Jensen figured, could always use more pictures of Jared.
Jensen’s mother, as well, was all set to adopt Jared. Jensen sometimes wondered if she wasn’t willing to do an all out swap—Jensen for Jared—as she seemed that fond of Jared but Jensen supposed that he should at least be glad that his family got along with Jared. They’d never done so with Tom. Then again, this was Jared. It was awfully hard to hate him. He’d even gotten Jensen to stop smoking which may have been what had cemented him as a favorite in Jensen’s mother’s eyes. Either that or the casserole. Jensen’s mother loved to make three bean casserole and Jared, as far as Jensen knew, was the only one who liked to eat it.
Then again, Jared would eat just about anything but Jensen wasn’t about to tell his mother that.
Brushing aside a couple wayward Del Montes, Jensen smiled in bemusement at Jared as he read, just watching him. It was fast becoming his favorite past time. All around them, the Del Montes were doing as they pleased but, for the most part, they were behaving themselves so Jensen didn’t bother them. A group were devouring a burger bought just for them and another couple were messing with a tube of paint—one having managed to get paint on itself already—and others were zooming around aimlessly but compared to previous messes, this was barely a blip on the radar.
As if he felt Jensen watching him, Jared turned and caught Jensen’s eye, a smile breaking out across his face. Jensen’s own smile grew wider.
“I’m blind! I’m blind!”
“Well, you should have been messing around!”
“You know, I think that your triangleness gives you personality.”
“You really think so?”
“Oh, yes, definitely.”
“Oh, hey, I found the porn!”
“Porn?! Oh my God, I’ll be right there!”
The Del Montes swarmed en masse, the one group even leaving their burger as they headed towards the far side of the room—the bottom of the third cabinet on the left. The newly painted and blind one followed just behind, zooming erratically and pleading for the others to wait for it as they exclaimed over their newly discovered treasure. Left alone in what felt to be suddenly empty space, Jared started to laugh and Jensen joined him, dissolving into nearly helpless giggles.
So his life was a lot more chaotic now. Gone were the days when he could lock himself away in his studio for days on end. And, yeah, he had to explain a lot more "mysterious accidents" now, caused by a few too curious peas, but Jensen didn't think that he'd have it any other way. He closed the issue of Small Small World in front of him and left it at the desk as he joined Jared, sitting beside him and giving him a quick kiss. No, definitely not.
His life was perfect as it was. Flying peas and all.