People say you can't live on hatred. Jensen knows they're wrong. At the very least it makes the time go by easier.
So it is with the Others Jared turned before Jensen. The ones that live in the attic, dried into weightless, foolish things, whispering like dead leaves rustling on the wind. They show Jensen scenes of hatred, revenge, love, sorrow. All the things that play through their desiccated skulls.
Jared has no idea of the way their feelings and thoughts wind through Jensen's head. They'd talked to him the very first night he and Jared lay tangled in each other's arms, mouths florid with blood and come.
Jared has secrets. So does Jensen. Jensen hears and sees things no one else does. He's a radio receiver with no control over the dial. He doesn’t know why some voices connect to him and not others.
One of the Others upstairs, an old one, wishes for the pendant knife she'd used when she and Jared hunted together. She imagines the flash of gold as it strikes.
Jensen nods, sends her an image. He thinks of stabbing the knife at the end of the gold ankh into Jared's throat, watching blood spray everywhere. Imagines bathing in it, and Jared looking at him, no doubt managing one last grin with blood-stained teeth before the fucker explodes in a gory thunderclap of disintegrated flesh and bone.
Jared would go out like that, Jensen is sure—he can't imagine Jared quietly withering away to ashes and dust.
He casts his thoughts toward the Other, seeking confirmation. She agrees. He sends her images of him rubbing Jared's blood into his skin, laughing.
The old one would smile and nod her thanks if she could, but her flesh is hardened and dry, canvas drawn tight over dusty bones. Trapped in a box in the attic. Jensen feels her gratitude anyway.
He sends little mind gifts to the Others upstairs. It's all they have outside of their own thoughts. It's easy. And if there's one thing Jensen knows, it's how to hate. He ignores that there's something snugging up alongside the hatred he carries for Jared, the line between them soft at the edges and fading to transparency in the middle. Water colors mixed with tears.
How very romantic.
Outwardly Jensen is the antithesis of romantic, but it's all a defense, transparent as the rest of him. At least to Jared's knowing eyes. Jared sees the heart of people pretty quickly. He's had centuries to learn how to read them, and he doesn't like being alone.
Neither does Jensen.
Three hundred years ago Jensen was his surname, and loneliness was something he'd never experienced in the midst of a large family. He had other things to worry about, like the plague that consumed Copenhagen in the 1700s. His whole family was sick before he himself was stricken. Out of his mind with fever, for the first time he began to hear the Others in his head.
His family died in agony, one by one. His mother first, then his father. Cousins, uncles. Sisters. Baby brother. All of them gone. He heard them as they died, and then only silence as his own time neared.
Jared saved him. He'll never forget the long shadow sliding across the floor like the pointing finger of a specter, Jared pacing in its wake. Jensen thought Jared was part of his own insanity. A beautiful, unknown man who'd paused over Jensen's bed to breathe a question in his ear.
Jensen said yes.
They traveled the world. Jensen never forgot the sickness, the swelling of his tongue, the black bile and the stiffness of his joints, and he never again went home. He had no desire for it.
They stopped traveling and moved into a spacious townhouse in the heart of New York, and they live there still. The city is perfect, overrunning with life: rushing feet over concrete, echo of car horns bouncing off buildings at all times of day and night, restaurants and bars that never close. Their hunts are gloriously over-ripe, bleeding a city that's full to bursting.
They're just two wild, wealthy young men promising each other together and forever despite their untamed ways.
And sometimes they like to play. They play with their food, or they play pretend. Like this:
Jensen is a pianist this time out—a US citizen born and bred, to anyone that bothers asking. He's hammered on 'ludes (no pretense there—he does drugs, smokes, anything else at hand) and high on fucking. Strutting and crowing like the cock of the walk.
Quaaludes do that to him—they don't mellow, they free him.
Eyes follow him wherever he goes—lingering on his lips or his green eyes, the line of his jaw. Travel down his body. It's always been like that, even when he doesn't want it. But he wants it tonight.
Groans come from every corner in this glorified glory hole of a bar. It's too hot and the place smells like fucking. Jensen likes it.
He sips a drink and lights a cigarette, smoke curling over his lip. His pants are unbuttoned and mostly unzipped. He wears a harness, thin leather criss-crossing his chest and attached to a center ring. A leather lead runs down his stomach and disappears into the pants. His shirt is somewhere-the-fuck-ever in the bar.
In one of the corners to be sure. Hell if he knows which. He's been in all of them.
He grins and turns his back to the action, taking a breather. He feels eyes on him. Nothing new, but this feels different. Even amidst the pretense this is real. It lights him up inside. He glances to the right.
A long, lean figure of a man sits on the next stool. Wide shoulders, thick hair, long fingers spread and curving over the rim of his drink. The stranger picks it up and drinks, amber liquid refracting square square square through faceted glass.
Jensen watches the long, pretty throat bob as the man empties the glass and gestures at the bartender for another.
The man looks at Jensen. "And you?" Elegant brows lift in inquiry. He wears all black, nothing provocative but fitted closely to the trim, powerful body. All the more tempting.
"Whiskey." Jensen nods. "I'm Jensen. You?"
"Jared." Jared looks at him thoughtfully and smiles. It brings out deep dimples that should make him look too young but instead makes Jensen's dick stir. His stomach grows warm and tight.
They talk as if they never had, and then Jared stands, crowds Jensen into the nearest corner. It reeks of come and liquor. The walls are painted black, dull and scratched from too many fingers clutching at it.
Jared stands over Jensen, hair falling over his face, tilt of his eyes exaggerated by the shadows. He breathes in at Jensen's neck, doesn't like what he smells on Jensen's skin. His jaw grows tense and his lips thin. He's angry in the way that only other hands on Jensen's body can make him.
"My turn," he says, and yanks at the leather strap leading to Jensen's cock.
The strap jerks Jensen's cock sharply upward, trying to twist it in a way it won't go when he's hard. Jensen bites his lip to keep from crying out.
Jared tugs Jensen's pants down to his thighs. "Off," he grits out, gesturing at the cock ring. He's looming over Jensen again, eyes flat and dangerous.
Jensen's legs are weak. He pulls at the snaps and yanks the leather ring off. It falls onto the floor. The lead brushes over his stomach, loose, and makes contact with his dick. He rolls his hips at the feel and reaches for Jared.
Jared bends, cuts a shallow stripe on Jensen's throat with the gold pendant. At the same time his fingers squeeze brutally at the base of Jensen's cock, anticipating the urge to come. Sucking his blood always makes Jensen want to come.
He rolls his head back against the wall, then shoves himself against Jared's soft, wet lips roving over his skin. Jared's licking and sucking, murmuring meaningless words, and it's a straight line leading from Jensen's throat to his cock. He looks down at himself jutting from Jared's fist, veined and stiff, purple with trapped blood.
There's a stinging pain mixed with his arousal, pain from where Jared takes the blood, and then suddenly the darkness of the bar is too black, the lights over the bar too bright, too noisy and smelly and fucked up. He's fucked up and wide open, Jared's hand rough and dry, clamped around his swollen dick, and he tries to move his hips, feel the skin sliding in Jared's grip. The cloth of Jared's pants rubs roughly over Jensen's bare thighs. His orgasm is so close he stops breathing, waits for it to spill over.
Jared won't let Jensen move. Won't let him come. He pulls from Jensen's neck and licks his lips, swollen and full. His eyes are sly and knowing, roving over Jensen's face, drinking in his desperation. He won't forgive Jensen for the corners before him, not yet.
Jensen watches the pretty, hateful face above him—lips curved in sardonic humor, strong chin, eyes of a fox. A hunter, and Jensen's the prey. He suppresses a shiver, doesn't want Jared to see, but he can't help but press closer.
Jared's grip loosens and Jensen's balls pull up and swell, anticipating.
Jared sinks to his knees, watching Jensen's face. He pushes the flat of his tongue against the slit of Jensen's cock. Jared lunges forward and swallows him whole.
Jensen jerks forward, his hips pistoning, frantic. He can't speak. His cock gives a slow, lurching spasm and shoots forcefully to the back of Jared's throat. Jared's throat closes around him, working as he takes it down. Jensen slides down the wall, moaning and clutching Jared's head.
Jared rises from the floor and looks at him a long time, wordless. He kisses Jensen until he's breathless and wild from wanting again.
Afterward they're reckless, wanting to get home, feel skin on skin and take their time. First they feed. In the alleyway behind the bar they slash the throats of two men doing the same as they'd been doing inside. They're not careful, and they don't collect the bodies for disposal. They leave them where they fall.
That's when Jensen realizes. Jared knows Jensen can't sleep.
Jensen doesn't say anything. He goes to their home with Jared. The feeling that snugs up alongside the hatred for Jared is something he lives every day. Love and hate were born together inside him three centuries ago, only a thin membrane separating them.
It's an hour before dawn, the townhouse still and dim. Jensen turns to look at Jared in the bed beside him.
Forever and ever? he asks.
Jared nods, eyes sad. His cool hand encloses Jensen's in the darkness.
Jared saved him from the plague. Jensen would have gone anywhere, done anything to escape it, and he did. He's been with Jared for three hundred years. He knows what it's like to hunt with him and play games with him. He knows the shape of Jared under his tongue. He knows what it's like to come inside him, to feel Jared clenching around him. Jensen is desperate for him, wants him more every day, wants what's between them never to end.
But Jensen can't sleep anymore.
Jared's desperate, too, in a way he's never been with the ones who came before. The longer Jensen remains sleepless, the more Jared's desperation shows. He wants to save Jensen. He's trying so hard.
Jensen loves, and he hates, and all the while the stale, still air of the coffins beckons him to climb the attic stairs.
He shrugs. Either way, he'll never be alone again.