Jared considered himself a pretty reliable guy.
Or maybe predictable was a more accurate way of putting it.
'Predictable' could get you dead, though, if you weren't careful. Especially considering his choice of employment. If he'd been going for the low risk, low mortality rate end of the scale, then he'd done a fucking bang up job of it. Except that he hadn't been, and he probably relished the threat of danger a little more than he ought to. That didn't stop him from being careful. He didn't actually have a death wish; he just wanted to take down the bad guys the 'right' way, much to the amusement of many of his peers. He didn't make sense, he knew that, but as far as he was concerned Jared had no obligation to explain himself to anyone. He hadn't spoken to his parents in ten years, and his sister lived on the other side of the world somewhere, so apart from his dog, Jared was his own loose end. That made things easier on his conscience at least. Not to mention he'd climbed his way in to a position where the only person he had to answer to was Captain Morgan (poor guy never heard the end of that one). For a long time his life had been pretty clean cut.
Then, somehow, Jensen had come along.
A 'myriad of contradictions' was what he'd called Jared.
Or, actually, he'd called Jared a lot of things, especially in the beginning, but that was a phrase that had stuck out for some reason. And Jared couldn't deny it. Being in the police force was one thing, but Organised Crime was a whole other barrel of monkeys. The OC bureau was the sort of work that turned even the straightest arrows into snakes – cunning, underhanded, always ready to bite. Yet there he was, in his too neat suit, crossing the t's and dotting the i's in the face of some of the city's most feared gangbangers.
Jensen had laughed when he'd tried to explain his methods. Had made fun of the crease in his eyebrows and the fact that Jared could not possibly be for real.
Even after all this time Jared got the feeling he still didn't believe it.
But disbelief was probably the least of their worries.
The first time Jared saw him hadn't been anything special (or so he'd thought). He'd been just one among the near-two dozen of the Battle Axe crew they'd brought in one night after carrying out a raid on a club downtown. The Red Stag was about as shady as it got, which thankfully meant they hadn't had to watch out for innocent bystanders – such people just didn't exist in places like that. Jared had watched the whole thing go down from a safe distance, taking notes as the tactical team had led the crewmembers out in chains and bundled them into the back of the police vans.
It had been a satisfying night to say the least.
Back at the precinct the cells and holding rooms were overflowing. Jared had moved from room to room, sitting in on the interrogations and only cutting in when he had to. It had been on his information that they'd obtained the warrant for the assault on the club, meaning he knew precisely how in-order his evidence was and precisely what further information he did and did not need. A solid ten of the crew were already in too deep to escape jail time, but the others… they would just have to work on.
Until he'd happened upon Jensen.
He'd been one of the crew he wasn't familiar with, one of only two he'd never laid eyes on before that night. And Jared would definitely have remembered a face like that. It had been a shock at first to look upon him. His eyes had the shine of a lingering high, but apart from that he was just too striking, too undamaged-looking to be part of such a hardened gang. Usually a looker like Jensen would have been the resident bicycle-slash-punching bag amongst thugs like that. He should have been sickly and hungered and all banged up. Jared wondered what kind of power or protection or both hovered over this particular man.
"Think you're the most handsome cop I ever seen," were the first words that came out of his mouth.
Jared hadn't been sure what to say in return. Jensen had already been questioned so Jared was there on his own, supposedly to make sure they'd mined every speck of info they could from this source, supposedly to confirm that this guy was ready to be cut loose. Supposedly he didn't know anything and there was nothing to hold him on. Jared knew better.
"You're not so bad yourself," he'd countered, "For a gangbanger."
Of all things, Jensen fucking pouted. "Aw, don't hold it against me? Actually, no. You can absolutely hold it against me. You look like you work out."
"What about Ingvar? Does he work out?"
At the mention of the Battle Axe leader's name, a suite of emotions flashed across Jensen's face.
"Ingvar does what Ingvar does."
"What else can you tell me about him, then?"
"He has a creepy Viking fetish?"
Jensen's subsequent laugh was choked, and the chemically-enhanced amusement that had been colouring his features up to that point suddenly shut down. Jared stored the information away for later. Jensen had given away perhaps more than he'd intended – mainly that 'Ingvar' was a fake name and likely wasn't Scandinavian by any stretch. Which was more than Jared had known about him several minutes ago.
He kept up with the questioning, but after his little slip Jensen had come to his senses and decided to shut his trap. Still, something told Jared that Jensen had more to say.
An idea formed and Jared took it to the Captain. Three hours later and those not under arrest were kicked back onto the street. Jensen was sent out one of the side doors. Where Jared was waiting for him.
Jensen stopped, looked around, and then dragged Jared off into the shadows.
He knew his closure rate wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst either. There were rarely any quick fixes in Organised Crime, so it was lucky Jared was more than happy to play the long game. He was thorough, meticulous to a fault, and he did it by the book.
He was the only one without an assigned partner, but he and the boss had an understanding. Captain Morgan knew how he worked, respected it, and made allowances for some of his quirks so long as he kept getting results.
The others talked about him in a certain way – sometimes to his face, sometimes behind his back, usually having something to do with the giant pedantic stick up his ass – but then the next time someone from their unit ended up shot or killed, he had to hold down the smugly lit 'I told you so' that fizzed away on the tip of his tongue.
"So. Jensen, huh?" Jared went for casual. Jensen hadn't agreed to anything yet and he didn’t want to scare him off. There was too much potential here. But potential for quite what, he wasn't sure yet.
"Yup, 's me."
"Meaning you don’t remember your surname, or you cast it away a long time ago, or you just don't want to tell me?"
"Meaning it's just Jensen. Like Cher. Or Madonna."
"Meaning you're an ageing pop princess who's well past her prime?"
"Meaning you're an irritating motherfucker, ain't you?"
Jared found himself grinning. "I've been called worse. You're going to have to do much better than that."
Jared picked him up on street corners sometimes.
Despite all the digging he'd done – both legit and on the side – he'd never found anything solid enough to bring Jensen's real name or age to light. Still, Jared reckoned Jensen was slightly older than him, yet somehow was able to pass for much younger when he tried. He was slim enough and pretty enough in a particular kind of way… so standing on shady street corners saw him fitting right in with the hooker crowd. And a shiny black car pulling up, and Jensen getting in? No one batted an eyelid, not around that part of town.
It had been Jensen's idea. Jared hadn't liked it at first, but he'd quickly come to see the sense in it. Both of them had to protect themselves after all – Jensen was hiding from the Battle Axe crew while Jared was hiding him from the vultures that made up the rest of his OC unit. Then there was himself as well. Having a CI – especially one like Jensen – was about as out-of-the-box a thing as Jared had ever done. Only the Captain knew, and he intended to keep it that way, lest he draw suspicion or increased scrutiny upon himself.
They would drive as they talked. He'd never asked outright, but Jared often wondered if Jensen had ever sold himself, if he ever used his body for gain. He might not have thought it had he not seen how easily Jensen fit in amongst the red-light brand of seediness that hovered around wherever he picked him up. And from there he progressed to wondering how Ingvar treated him. What sort of hold did he have over Jensen? Did he expect special favours? Or did he just take what he wanted when he wanted, as Jensen had implied?
It made his insides twist up, his skin burn with anger – but it wasn't an anger he had the right to bear.
Jensen had started it. That was the singular fact that eased Jared's conscience.
Although, after the following six times, Jared suspected that that wouldn't hold up for much longer. The real holder of the 'blame' was beginning to blur.
Jared's neuroses kept them safe, though. He made sure they were never sloppy. Kept eyes on who was around, made sure they weren't followed, that nothing about their appearance gave them away… Even if Jensen sometimes made it goddamn hard to concentrate. He'd turned it into a game of sorts: how quickly could he get Jared to give in to the promise of sex.
No matter how long he held out, Jared always felt like he lost.
Jensen's lips just seemed to have some infallible magic about them, though. So he could hardly be held responsible, right? Feeling them touch against his own, he just had to taste. He couldn't not. Something about the full press of flesh around his mouth invited him in with gracious welcome. Jensen was wild and earthy but with a touch of danger – the suck of his lips and the rolling of his body said all of these things to Jared.
It didn't matter that they were in a back alley somewhere; neither of them really seemed to notice. They must have been near a club or something, since every now and then Jared could feel a rhythmic thumping reverberating up through his feet. Jensen could probably feel it through the wall at his back. Unconsciously the rocking of their bodies seemed to move in sync with it. But Jensen was not content with that for long.
"You better not keep me waiting any longer, Jay. You make me come in my jeans and you're fucking buying me a new pair, don't care how good your dry cleaner thinks she is."
"Okay, okay, anything you want, Jen. Anything you want."
Jared struggled to keep his breathing steady as he turned Jensen to the wall and pushed his jeans down just enough. His dick throbbed in his pants as he used his thumbs to pull apart the globes of Jensen's ass and reveal his prize. Leaning in close he pressed his tongue to the tightly furled muscle and felt the surge of saliva fill his mouth. Jensen keened as Jared loosened him up with his tongue, licking wetly at the rim of his hole as he pushed deeper, coaxing him open.
"Shit, enough already. Get your cock in me, Jared, goddamn."
One day, when they were somewhere private and not where someone could potentially happen upon them at any moment (providing they both managed to live that long), Jared was going to rim Jensen's hole until he cried. Jared wasn't one to hold much faith in fantasy becoming reality, but just as Jensen had himself proven, there was always one exception.
Jensen wasn't nearly prepped enough, but Jared had realised long before that Jensen liked his pleasure with an edge of pain. He got to his feet, pulled his fly open, and plucked the rubber from Jensen's fingers, ripping it with his teeth and rolling it over his cock. He held Jensen against the wall as he pushed in slow and steady, breathing in sharp at the tight squeeze of Jensen's hole.
"Yeah, Jared, fuck yes, so good, so goddamn good—"
Jensen lost himself to a stream of nonsense words – mostly cussing – as Jared started to thrust. He kept a rhythm of hard snaps of his hips, loving the sound of their bodies slapping together, the feel of his zipper tickling the underside of his balls. There was really something to be said for fucking with your clothes (mostly) on.
"Oh, shit, Jay, right the fuck there—"
Wrapping a hand around Jensen's stomach, Jared let his hand wander under the hem of his shirt, feeling the contractions of muscle of Jensen's abdomen. He pulled their bodies closer together, burying his nose in Jensen's neck. He didn't know what sort of situation he lived in, but Jensen always smelled so clean. Jared loved finding that hint of soap just beneath the light dusting of sweat. He licked and sucked at the downward slope of Jensen's nape, but held himself back from biting – just in case.
One day he would, though. One day Jensen wouldn't stop Jared from putting his mark all over him.
Jensen's arm dropped down as he took his own cock in hand, and Jared groaned as Jensen clenched around him. Jensen started to come just moments before him, the tightening clutch of his hole sending Jared over the edge in turn.
He pulled himself free and stood exposed as Jensen quickly fixed his clothing, both of them sneaking a glance out the corner of their eyes at the shiny drops of Jensen's come against the dirty brick wall. If Jared were one for metaphors he might have pondered the image more deeply, but getting Jensen back to his post was ever the more important objective. He checked his watch, and they were already cutting it close.
While Jensen seemed to prefer the risk afforded by a dingy back alley, or the too-heavy, too-tainted air of one of his favourite disreputable clubs, Jared always preferred the more classic back seat of his car.
Neither of them were small men, so the comfort level wasn't the greatest, but having Jensen mostly (if not completely) naked, having him on his back and looking up into his eyes while Jared pounded into him…
Had he not been playing with fire, taking chances in the way that one Detective JT Padalecki never did, he might have thought he had his priorities straight. But despite his heart, despite his dick, Jared was no fool. He'd known his intentions had been pulled onto a sliding tangent the moment he'd walked into interrogation room A and found Jensen sitting there, wrists cuffed to the table.
Jensen moved to light a cigarette, but Jared plucked it from his grasp and flicked it out the car window. Jensen looked at him with laughing eyes.
"Man, look at the fucking life I lead. And what, you worried a little ciggy or two is gonna take me out first?"
He wasn’t wrong per se, but Jared let him think what he wanted. Volunteering a truth such as not wanting the taste of Jensen's lips to be obscured by ashtray-breath just wasn't his style.
Throwing the half-empty pack up onto the dashboard, Jensen slid down further into the seat with a huff, letting his legs fall open comfortably, right hand casually adjusting himself. Naturally Jared couldn't help but look. And Jensen likely knew precisely what he was doing to him. Jared took one more left turn and then brought the car to a stop in a secluded area free of streetlights.
It had only been a few days since they'd last spoken (and fucked amid the weed-infused haze of some weird indie club Jensen had dragged him to) but nothing ever seemed to lessen the electricity between them. Still. Jared had a job to do – he couldn't forsake that no matter what. Jensen had information to pass on, and Jared had a new burner phone to give him.
Something was building. They both knew it, felt it. So it had to be business first, for both their sakes.
It was usually Jensen that made contact, but when Jared didn't hear anything he felt his resolve crumbling. For only the second time since they'd met, Jared was the one to call.
"The person you have dialled is not available…"
It wasn't unusual for him not to hear from Jensen for weeks at a time. It was the nature of the thing.
Didn't stop it from clawing at his anxiety, tearing it down to shreds, but it wasn't as if he could do anything about it. Not if he wanted to keep both his job and his head, at any rate.
What he hadn't expected, however, was a call from one of the other detectives in his unit. Just seeing the name flash up on his phone dropped the uneasiest of feelings into the pit of his stomach.
"Hey, JP. Morgan's in a flap, said to call you. Something nasty went down in Chinatown last night, Homicide picked it up—"
Jared's blood ran cold.
"—three dead I think, and one in the hospital, but only just. Morgan said their name was Jenny? Said you knew 'em?"
"Dunno what kinda girl you got that's hangin' round there at that time of night. Always figured you'd go for someone as uptight as y'self, but ain't nothin' wrong with a little bad girl action. So long as you're bein' safe an' all. Always wear a condom, y'hear me—"
"Shut the fuck up, Speight, and tell me which goddamn hospital it is!"
"Christ, simmer down, JP. She's at Mercy, alright—"
Jared hung up before Speight could finish. He was a nice enough guy, yet still insufferable at the best of times.
Grabbing anything he might need, Jared was out the door in a flurry, driving like a maniac until he arrived at the hospital. The nurse on the desk gaped a little at his dishevelled appearance, but she seemed to pull it together when he flashed his badge.
"I'm looking for—"
"Oh, yes, Detective! Of course you'll be after Jensen Padalecki, am I right?"
Jared blinked. "Uh…"
"It's Polish, yes? Got Polish ancestry myself, so the name stuck out. Jensen's family I assume?"
"Um. Not exactly?"
The nurse appeared to blush as she processed his reply.
"Oh, I see. Well, you best head on up to the ICU. Room 2-D. He won't be awake for a while I fear, but I'm sure he'd be happy to know you were by his side."
Jared had neither the time nor desire to correct whatever wrong assumptions she'd made. Rather, it probably helped him to some degree. So he all but ran to the ICU and through to Jensen's room. He was relieved to find the room otherwise empty, not only to avoid the usual questions and medical mumbo-jumbo, but also so that he could keep his emotions to himself. Seeing Jensen lying there, pale as the sheets, wrapped in bandages, hooked up to so many machines, it forced an overwhelming amount of emotion to roll through his body. It was foreign and disconcerting, to feel so strongly about another person. The tears that tumbled down his cheeks (for all that he hadn't cried in a decade or two) were in some ways an epiphany.
He'd never honestly considered what he felt for Jensen, but in that moment he couldn't deny it.
Taking the last few steps, he moved into Jensen's space, curling their hands together. Jensen was cold to the touch. The monitor might have named him living, but his pallor, his stillness, was only a step up from death.
He might not know the precise chain of events that had led them here, but Jared knew one thing: he had caused this. Whether it was the phone call, the fucking, their many conversations in the car, Jared talking him into being a CI in the first place…
It didn't matter. Bottom line, it was his fault. And that hurt more than anything.
"He called me that night," Morgan said, sighing heavily, "I guess he was trying to run, find somewhere safe. Ingvar had cottoned on to Jensen seeing someone on the sly a while back, had him followed, the whole deal. Seems that you two had him convinced that you were a nobody for the most part, he even found the burner phone at some point but didn't do anything about it. He only figured you to be a cop at the very end and that's when things went to hell in a handbasket. Jensen, though… I mean, shit, Jared. You sure know how to pick 'em. Homicide called me when they realised what was going down and I got there just as the EMTs were about to move him. He gave me the location of a drop site and you know what we found there?"
Knowing Jensen, Jared had a pretty good idea.
"It was everything, Jared. Copies and photos and recordings of literally everything. I don't know how the fuck he did it, but…" Morgan threw his hands up in surrender, "I've got the FBI and PD tac teams raiding every location as we speak. By tomorrow the Battle Axes should no longer exist. That's huge."
Jared wanted to be happy about it, he really did. He was glad that Ingvar and his crew would be taken down, but the cost was a great one, and he didn't know if he could abide by that despite it all.
At least now Jensen would be free to do as he chose.
Morgan cleared his throat.
"I'm guessing that there's nothing I can say that'll change your mind?"
Jared shrugged. "Sorry, Boss."
The first tendrils of the sun were just peeking over the horizon as Jared stepped into his apartment. The security job he was working now kept him at odd hours, but the pay was generous enough that he didn't care. It wasn't quite the endless challenge that Organised Crime had been, but his anxiety was way down these days and even his long-standing neuroses had eased up a bit.
He sighed as he closed the door behind him.
He would never begrudge Sadie's company, but he still felt like his apartment was just a little too empty sometimes. He put his hand to his pocket and felt the weight of the engraved lighter he kept there. No, he hadn't taken up smoking, never would, but it was the only thing of Jensen's he had. Jensen had turned him into a sentimental fuck, apparently. He'd secretly kept it after he'd found it under the passenger seat of his car once.
Pulling it out, he rubbed his thumb across the scratched-up surface. He would never stop thinking that it should have been him in that hospital bed, and no one would convince him otherwise. Jared had been about to flick it open just to watch the flame burn when the hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end.
He pulled the small hand gun from his ankle holster and stepped towards the bedroom. There was enough light sneaking in from behind the curtains now that he didn't need to turn the lights on. He pressed his back against the side of the door frame and eased inside, eyes darting around the room. Everything was where it was supposed to be except…
There was someone in his bed.
"What kind of stupid fuck works these sorts of hours?"
"Wha--… Jensen? How the hell did you—"
"Spoke to Morgan, eventually wheedled your new address out of him. Then picked the lock. Your deadbolt's shit. Gimme a few days I'll fix it for you. Now come to bed."
Jared didn't know what to say as he found himself obeying orders. He pissed, brushed his teeth, then shucked his clothes. He'd been about to pull on some pyjama pants when Jensen spoke up again to veto the action.
"Don't you dare."
Slipping in to bed and curling into Jensen's warm and equally-naked body was like sweet relief. For all the times they'd fucked they'd never actually slept together. They'd never even made it to a bed before. And yet, it couldn't feel more right.
"You ever run off on me again," Jensen mumbled sleepily into his shoulder, "I'll fucking hunt you down and nail you to the floor. I may just nail you anyway, if y' know what I mean."
Jared couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up, too loud against the quiet of the room. "Yeah, yeah, same goes for you, too, Jensen Padalecki."
Jared could feel the smile against his skin, and it lifted the emptiness away.