The crowd was a living thing as Jared watched Jensen step onto the stage. Screams erupted as the fans saw him and the spotlight bathed the lead singer of Soul Bonded in silver fire.
Jensen opened his arms to them, accepting their worship, eyes closed and head thrown back. Jared forced his gaze away from Jensen, looked out at the adoring throng who were all enraptured at the sight of their idol.
Jared stood at the wings, watching the sea of obsessed people and wondered if tonight was the night that all hell broke loose.
“He’s something, huh?” Chris Kane, the band’s guitarist, clapped him on the shoulder as he made his way past, electric guitar slung across his back like a bandolier.
“Yeah, something,” Jared muttered.
Kane whooped and skidded on stage, bumping up against Jensen. Jensen laughed, throwing an arm across Kane’s shoulders.
Misha, drummer and general instrument of insanity, smacked Jared on the ass and raced past him, waving to the mass of humanity as he bolted up to the drum set raised above the stage. The crowd roared as he took his place and Jensen and Kane grinned up at him.
Danni walked up, leaned against Jared, all long legs and red hair. “Kiss for luck?” she asked, presenting him with her cheek. Her eyes were glittering as she smiled at him.
Jared leaned down and pressed a soft kiss to her even softer skin. “Not that you need it,” he said and she beamed up at him.
“You’re the best, Jay,” she purred and strolled past him, into the light and noise. The whistles and cat-calls made her smile broadly as she made her way slowly across the stage, past Jensen and Kane who rolled their eyes at her stretching out her moment of glory. She accepted Kane’s help onto the dais where the three keyboards sat and took her place behind them.
Jared watched as Jensen went to his amp and pressed a couple of buttons. The crowd was getting louder; anticipation was almost a living thing in the theatre.
When he was satisfied with his settings, Jensen walked up to his microphone and played one chord. Just one and the place went silent.
“I see forever in your eyes…” and the throng took the roof off at the first line of their most well-loved hit.
Jared stood and watched Jensen work his magic over the people. He was all sweat and swagger, sex and fire. Jared pressed his hand against his crotch; watching Jensen do his thing on stage always had this effect on him.
Not that Jensen knew. Or cared. Or really even acknowledged his existence. Jared had accepted that Jensen was way above his pay-grade in terms of partners but it didn’t mean that he couldn’t look. And want.
His phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out, pulled a face at the caller ID. After one last look at the stage, he headed to the small alcove backstage that had been designated for him. “JD,” he greeted the Head of Non-Human Affairs.
“Jay,” his boss sounded distracted. “Just wanted to check up, make sure everything was going well.”
Jared sighed. It was pissing him off that they kept tabs on him. “It’s going fine, JD. And you know that it’s going fine because I know that you’re watching the live feed right now.”
The silence spoke of JD’s guilt. Then he cleared his throat. “Yeah, well, you know how powerful Soul Bonded are.”
“It’s why you assigned me to them,” Jared reminded him. “I’m a warlock with enough firepower to handle almost any emergency.” Jared had been trained from a very young age to harness the power of his mind and the power of the earth’s energy to bend it to his will. He was very good at what he did and it pissed him off that his father couldn’t just let him do his job in peace.
“Better safe than sorry, Jay.”
And Jared knew that it was out of concern so he wasn’t as mad as he should have been. “Tell Dad that I’m okay, okay?” he asked JD.
JD made a scoffing noise. “You’re the human voice of the Fae Prince,” he said. “Your father isn’t going to stop worrying until your assignment ends.”
“I know,” Jared sat on the sofa he’d been given. “But I’m a big boy with enough juice to zap Ackles back to Seelie in a heartbeat.”
JD was quiet again. “The others in the band would overpower you.”
“Why are we even talking about this, JD?” Jared asked. “I’ve been with Jensen and Soul Bonded for two years and they’ve never put one foot wrong.”
“There’s always a first time,” JD said and there was something in his tone…
“Alright, spill it,” Jared said. “Whatever it is that you’re not telling me.”
The sound of screaming caught his attention when he realized that it wasn’t the sound of fans but of fear, he took off at a run. “”Something’s going on,” he shouted into the phone. “I’ll call you back.” He shoved the mobile back into his jacket pocket, silencing JD’s squawks of protest, and skidded around the corner to where he’d been standing earlier.
Jensen and the band were standing stock-still, completely unmoving and everyone in the audience was looking up towards the domed roof. Jared moved out of the wings and followed their gaze.
A dark shadow swirled across the roof of the theatre, black, roiling and angry looking. Every couple of seconds a bolt of lightning lit the shadow from within and Jared could see faces, eyes, mouths.
“Kane, Jensen, Danni, Misha! Get off stage right the fuck now!” he yelled, bolting towards the Fae prince. Jensen was his first priority. An assassination attempt on his watch would be disastrous.
When he reached Jensen and wrapped a hand around his wrist, Jensen met his eyes and Jared could see the fear. “Jay?” his voice was hoarse and molasses slow. “I can’t move.” Jared looked back at Danni and Misha on their raised stages.
“Can either of you move?” he shouted. Misha replied with a small shake of his head and Danni’s face was white with terror. Jared felt helpless. He didn’t have a clue what was going on.
A scream made Jared glance up again and he saw that the shadow was spiraling down towards them, towards the stage, towards Jensen.
“Kane!” Jared looked at the bassist. “Get Jensen and the others out of here.”
Chris watched the shadow and replied in that same slow, rough tone, “Can’t budge, Jay. It’s Fae magic and it has us locked up tight.” He shot him a glance and Jared read true fear in his eyes. “Help us.”
Those words were the closest Jared had ever heard any of the Fae ask for anything. They believed that to ask for something meant to be obligated. “I’ll try,” he said and stepped in front of Jensen as the shadow hit the stage.
The shadow coalesced, taking the form of two men and a woman. Fae, Jared thought immediately, and heard Jensen hiss behind him. “Mark!”
“You know him?” Jared asked, not looking around. He kept his gaze on the intruders, noting that they were Fae but that something was off-kilter. He couldn’t quite put a finger on it.
“King of the Unseelie Court, his Peacemaker, Genevieve and his pet mage, Corin.” Jensen’s answer came as though ripped from his throat. Jared didn’t have time to worry about what the hell was going on with Jensen. He had to deal with these three first.
“You’re not allowed here,” Kane said, words forced out through a clenched jaw. The King looked at him, eyes dark and intent. Kane made a noise that didn’t sound human, sharp, hurt, afraid, and crumpled to the ground. The crowd started screaming again.
“Corin,” the King said and waved a hand at the people. “Do something about that, would you?”
The thin-faced Fae bowed and turned to the crowd. “Silence,” he whispered and a wind shivered through the theatre. Jared saw the people’s mouths all still open in mid-scream, but he heard nothing.
“That’s much better,” King Mark purred. “Now we can have a nice little chat.” He wasn’t a tall man but his presence was tangible. “Remove yourself, little mortal. The Prince and I have Fae matters to discuss.”
Jared shook his head. “Prince Jensen and his guard are under my protection,” he saw the mage turn to look at him out of the corner of his eye. “You have broken protocol with this action.”
“Corin,” King Mark said once more and he sounded bored. “Rid us of this pestilence please.”
Before Corin could do anything, Jared called his power. It was the reason he’d been assigned to Soul Bonded and it was impervious to Seelie tricks. Sliding out of the ends of his fingers, it curled around the air and punched at the wall between their worlds. He felt the opening expand as the rush of magic increased.
He pushed Corin through the newly opened portal to Seelie and erected an invisible shield so that the Fae could not come back through His head was aching and he would pay later for using this much power.
“Would you like to join him by force or by choice?” Jared asked the King, keeping his voice steady with an effort. His strength was wavering and he didn’t know how much longer he had to hold the portal open.
King Mark looked at him closely. “Oh, now I see what you are,” he mused. Then he stared at Jensen. “Perhaps this can wait for the next time you visit Seelie,” he said. “Please send my love and greetings to your mother,” he said to Jensen and allowed the smoke to reclaim him and Genevieve. Jared released the shield and watched the black smoke seep back through to the land of the Fae.
The spell cast by Corin dissipated at the same time that Jensen and the band were released from whatever had bound them. Kane got slowly to his feet, his face ashen and hands shaking.
The power ebbed back into Jared and he felt weary but exhilarated. This had been the first time he’d been asked to do something like this. It validated JD’s concerns about the safety of the heir to the Seelie throne.
The screaming started again and Jared looked at Jensen. “Do something,” he pleaded, head pounding and muscles tight.
Jensen nodded and stepped up to the mic again. “Be at peace…” he breathed and the glamour spread through the theatre, calming the crowd. It wasn’t quite legal, letting Jensen to use his glamour like that over humans, but Jared would allow it this once. He would explain if anyone questioned it. It wasn’t like he had any control over the crowd. Thank god Jensen did.
Jared fought the spell of Jensen’s voice and started reciting multiplication tables in his head to distract his brain. Jensen’s glamour was powerful and hard to resist. Jared had a lot of experience in resisting Jensen. Glamour or no glamour.
Once the people were calm again, Jensen leaned into the mic and asked, “Shall we get this party started?” as though nothing had happened. And in the eyes and brains of all humans present, apart from Jared, nothing had.
Jared headed backstage again, shaken and sweating. His phone buzzed urgently in his pocket and he answered as he went. “It’s all under control, JD, no need to send the NHA.”
“What the fuck is going on?” JD demanded and Jared winced as his voiced punched into Jared’s already sore head.
“Apparently the King of the Unseelie Court arrived unexpectedly and had some sort of issue with Jensen.” Jared was walking quickly towards his car. He felt as though he needed at least some of his weapons for the rest of the night.
“What?” JD’s roar almost punctured Jared’s eardrum. “Get Jensen and the rest of the band out of there right the fuck now!”
“Relax, JD,” Jared opened the trunk and pulled out his silver 9mm and the iron dagger Queen Samantha had given him on his only trip to Seelie. “It’s under control. They’re gone.”
“They?” JD sounded as though his head was about to explode. “There was more than one of them? Jared, what the actual ever-loving fuck?”
“I’ve got to get back,” Jared told him. “I don’t want to leave them out there alone, in case the asshole comes back.”
He cut JD off mid-rant and bolted back into the building. He needn’t have worried. Jensen had the crowd of thousands eating out of the palm of his pretty Fae hand.
He skidded to a stop at the edge of the wings. He waited, looked around and watched as five thousand people were bewitched by the Fae prince.
Jensen danced around the stage like quicksilver. He was light and fire and heat and flame. The people watching him were helplessly sucked in, worshiping at the altar of Soul Bonded and at the feet of Jensen Ackles.
Jared was prepared to defend him. Ready to protect him. Able to kill for him. Willing to die for him.
It had been tough working with Soul Bonded. Jared had made a connection with Kane, Danni and Misha but Jensen barely acknowledged his existence. Jared was used to people liking him but Jensen kept his distance while Danni hugged him and Kane teased him and Misha offered him suggestions that promised to improve his sex life.
Jared was mostly okay with Jensen ignoring him. Any attention from Jensen usually resulted in Jared stuttering and sweating and generally making a complete ass of himself. God only knew what he'd do if Jensen behaved in a more friendly way towards him. He'd probably start writing poetry and buying rings and shit.
The crashing chords of the song signaling the end of act one brought him back to reality. Kane went to Danni and helped her off her dais. She was pale and shaky and clung to him. She turned to Misha as soon as he joined them, allowed him to swing her up into his arms, curling her own around his neck.
“What the fucking fuck was that?” Jensen stalked past him, his rage wrapped around him like a cloak. Jared hurried after them.
“I don't know what the hell the NHA is doing but that wasn't supposed to happen,” Kane's growl made Jared look over at him.
“We're not supposed to actually do anything,” Jared said.
Jensen whirled on him. “Do you honestly think the Fae would tolerate having humans around every fucking day if we weren't getting anything in exchange?” His eyes were green fire rimmed in brightest gold and Jared blinked the glamour away desperately.
“Jen,” Kane put a hand on his arm. “He doesn't know.”
Jensen shook him off. “Fuck that!” he spat and he pointed a long finger at Jared. “Talk to that fucking asshole Morgan and find out what the fuck just happened.”
Jared watched them climb into the Fae chariot, the black pegasii pawing impatiently at the ground. “You can't just leave without telling me...” he began.
Jensen stuck his head out of the window. “I'm telling you jack shit until you and your fucking Non-Human Affairs buddies find out why the King of Unseelie is able to get into your realm.” The coach shimmered in the night as the pegasii took flight and then it slipped between worlds, invisible to the eye.
Jared watched the empty sky, bleakly wondering what the hell JD hadn't told him.
He called his boss. “So, why don't you tell me about King Mark of the Unseelie?” he asked before JD could start berating him.
There was a weighted silence and then JD sighed. “Where's Jensen?” he asked.
“They've left the realm,” Jared said. “I'm not very popular right now.” And he was surprisingly bitter about that. While he wasn't friends with the Prince and his guard, he had at least formed a respected camaraderie with them.
Most of them.
“Jay?” He realized that JD had been talking to him.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I'm a little wiped. Had to use a bit more juice that usual to send that mage back to Seelie.”
“Oh my god,” JD sounded horrified. “You took on a Seelie mage?”
“Unseelie,” Jared felt obligated to point out.
“Get your ass over here now,” JD growled and the phone went dead. Jared went to his car and got in. He sucked in a breath, leaned back and closed his eyes for a moment. Somehow he just knew that this was going to end up being blamed on him.
The offices were dark by the time he arrived. He checked his gun and knife in, went through security and headed up to JD's office.
The sun was almost ready to start up again, he thought as he spotted a line of gold on the horizon through one of the armored glass windows that lined the top floor.
He knocked on the door and it slid open. JD was at his desk, hair slightly spiky and tie tugged awry. He looked up. “It's about time, Padalecki.”
Jared threw himself in the seat opposite JD's desk. “I had to keep to the speed limit. I've got to set an example. I need to show the world that the NHA are law-abiding citizens and not mavericks who wield magic like a weapon.”
He grinned at JD's barely repressed snarl. “One day I'm going to forget that your father is the President of this country and beat your ass,” JD muttered. “Report.”
Jared straightened in the chair and gave JD a brisk run-down of the events of the night. His body was aching and his head hurt like a mother but he knew his duty.
“The Unseelie should not have been able to come through the Veil,” JD picked up the phone to his right. Jared knew that it was the direct line to the Queen of Seelie and Jensen’s aunt. “Samantha, its JD Morgan. We have a problem. You need to get here now, please.”
He put the phone down and clasped his hands. “This is seriously fucked up, Jay. The Unseelie were never meant to be seen by humans.”
Jared watched JD. He wasn’t used to seeing the second most powerful man in America so concerned. “I thought the Unseelie were a myth,” he kept his voice low, aware of the constant ears of the Fae turned to their world.
“They have always been real,” JD admitted. “The Seelie would prefer not to admit to their existence.” He stood and walked to the huge window facing the city. Los Angeles was a bright and glittering sprawl below. “When we signed the accord between the Seelie and ourselves, it was part of the deal that the Seelie would contain the …” he paused, obviously struggling for the right words.
“Undesirables?” The voice that spoke was female and Jared spun in his chair. Queen Samantha of the Seelie court smiled at him. “Greetings, Jared Padalecki.”
He jumped up and bowed. “Your Majesty.” Something about her always made Jared feel like a small, insignificant insect that could be easily crushed beneath her elegant shoe.
Her eyes danced with subdued pleasure when she looked at JD. “Jeffrey,” she held out her hands. “Would that these were more pleasant reasons to meet.”
JD stepped forward and held up a hand to assist her through the portal. Jared had been so busy staring at the Fae Queen that he hadn’t noticed the curious faces behind her. “It’s good to see you again, Queen Samantha.” It wasn’t as though she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen but when she was in the room he saw no one else.
She shook her head. “Come now, Jeffrey, how many times must I remind you? I have granted you permission to call me by name and not by my title.”
Jared wondered just how close the Queen and his boss were. Obviously close enough that her glamour didn’t affect him as much as it did others. Samantha looked over at him as though she knew exactly what he was thinking. He blushed before he could stop himself and she gave a small laugh.
“So tell me of this breach of our treaty,” she said, suddenly serious, and sat in the chair that Jared had recently occupied. He remained standing, focusing on Queen Samantha and JD, trying hard not to look at the portal to the land of the Fae, trying not to see the world beyond that already held so much fascination for him.
“Jared?” He turned at JD’s voice and shook his head.
“Sorry,” he said and looked at the Queen. “Jensen, I mean the Prince, and his guard were on stage when a shadow filled the theatre.”
She held up a hand. “Black?”
He nodded and she waved him to continue. “The shadow took the form of three people - three Fae, two men and a woman. I heard Jensen call the guy in the front, Mark, and then he told me that the other two were Corin and Genevieve.”
Samantha’s eyes went hard. “He dared to bring Corin with him?” She glanced over at the portal and called, “Jim, please, to me.”
An older Fae climbed through the gate between worlds and he bowed to them all. “My Queen?”
She looked at Jared and JD, “You remember my Consul, Jim Beaver? He is my most trusted advisor.” She beckoned him closer. “It would seem that the King, our cousin Mark, has discovered a tear in the Veil and has managed to find his way into the mortal realm.”
Jim frowned. “That is not possible, my Queen,” he insisted. “Richard and Sebastien have been keeping close watch on the Veil. There has been no report of a tear.”
Samantha held up a hand. “There must be a weakness in the enchantment then. Find it and fix it.” Her mouth was tight. “The King of the Unseelie Court must not be allowed to jeopardize the safety of the humans we are sworn to or the life of the Prince who dwells here.”
Jim bowed again. “At once, my Queen.” He turned and headed back into Seelie, the bright gold and greens and blues engulfing him as the land of the Fae welcomed him back.
Jared found his gaze trapped in the glittering colors, forgetting not to look into the brightness of the land of the Fae.
“Jared,” Samantha’s hand on his arm brought him back to himself. “You cannot stare too long or you could be glamoured. You know this.” Her voice was soft but chiding.
Jared looked away, but the dazzling lights of Seelie were dancing through his mind.
“Do you need me to take it away?” Samantha watched him closely and her eyes were worried.
He shook his head. “No, thank you, your Majesty. I should have known better.” He smiled but it was difficult. “I do know better.”
Samantha nodded and then turned to JD once more. “I must return home,” she said. “When I have news for you, then I will either send word or come in person.”
JD took her outstretched hand and led her to the portal. “Thank you for coming so quickly,” he said, tone formal.
Her eyes twinkled. “You left me with little choice, Jeffrey.” She patted his cheek with a dainty hand. “You were most forceful.” Jared bit his lip as she gave a mock shiver. “It was very…stimulating.”
JD met her gaze. “Stop messing with me, your Majesty,” he said and her title sounded very disrespectful.
She laughed and waved to them both as the doorway between their worlds closed around her.
Jared let out a breath that he hadn’t realized that he’d been holding. “Wow.”
“I always forget what she’s like,” JD muttered as he slumped back into his seat.
“Yeah,” Jared sighed. “She’s something alright.”
“Pain in my ass,” JD told him and then laughed. “God, she turns my brain into scrambled egg!”
Jared could totally relate. It’s what Jensen did to him after all. He’d been trying to convince himself that it was because Jensen was of the Fae, but he didn’t get brain-dumb around any of the other Fae. It was only Jensen who drove him crazy.
He rubbed a hand over his face. It might be time for him to ask for a change in assignment.
Jensen didn't show up for their late morning meeting and Jared wanted to kill him. Or kiss him. Whatever felt most comfortable at the time.
Kane shrugged when Jared asked him where Jensen was. “He said he had a thing.”
Danni concentrated on her nails as though they held the secrets of the universe and Misha was hovering above the floor, legs folded and eyes closed in meditation. Sometimes Jared really hated the Fae.
Jared sighed. “I'm guessing that no one wants to tell me about the dude I pissed off last night?” He looked around, annoyed with them all, but mostly Jensen. They took their cues from their Prince and if he said...
“Agent Padalecki,” Jensen walked into the room. He didn’t sound apologetic. Jensen was dressed casually; jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket and boots, but still managed to look better than anything Jared had ever seen. He’d tucked his hair behind his ears, emphasizing the Fae.
“Afternoon, your Highness,” Jared said drily. He hated Jensen’s cavalier attitude. Hated being treated as though he was less than the Fae.
“I had to explain what happened to my aunt,” Jensen told him, clearly annoyed with feeling as though he had to defend himself.
“I’ve already debriefed her,” Jared said. “She met with JD and I last night.”
Jensen looked even more irritated. Jared had learned to read him well. “It would have been nice if you could have advised me of that instead of having to answer a summons to Seelie at the ass crack of dawn.” Jensen’s mouth was a little tight.
Even that small bit of emotion made Jared feel a sense of accomplishment. Getting anything from the Fae was hard going. They held their cards really close to their chests when it came to feelings.
“I’m sorry,” Jared said, blatantly insincere. “You left halfway through your concert and I didn’t think that Queen Samantha would need your version of the event as well as mine.”
Jensen’s lip curled, a sure sign of him being pissed off. “My aunt was concerned for my safety.” His tone was clipped.
Jared ran his tongue over his teeth and muttered, “Guess she needed to make sure that her precious heir was just fine,” He flushed a little. He was being an ass. He looked around to see if anyone had heard him but fortunately they were too busy talking to each other.
He leaned back in his chair and cleared his throat to get their attention. “That’s what we have to discuss this morning. The NHA feels that until the threat from the Unseelie King is taken care of, Soul Bonded shouldn’t perform.”
Misha crashed to the ground and Danni jumped to her feet. “That’s not fair!” she declared, beautiful face furious. “We have commitments.”
Kane nodded, the most laidback of the group. “We’ve been sold out for months on this tour. I don’t think the fans will be too happy with us.”
Jensen shook his head. “No,” he sounded firm. “I’m not cancelling anything.” He looked at Jared and his expression was determined. “I’ll tell you what I told my Queen this morning. I am to be King of the Seelie one day. If I show fear now then I am not only showing it to the Unseelie, but to my own people. I will not be able to lead them if they think of me as a coward.”
Jared felt a grudging respect. He and JD had known that Jensen would refuse. “So, were you powerless against him or was it just that he caught you by surprise?” He was genuinely curious.
“He used the dark magic of the Unseelie,” Kane said and his dark eyes flashed silver. “We were not expecting it and it will not happen again.” He frowned. “I failed my Prince last night.” He looked at Jensen. “We all failed you but this human.”
Jensen nodded. “You have my thanks for your actions last night, Agent Padalecki.” It sounded formal. “The Fae owe you a great debt.” The words seemed torn out of him.
Jared allowed himself a small smile. “Man, is that really so bad?” he asked. “Owing a human something?”
Jensen’s mouth went thin. “It is not seemly for one of the Fae to be beholden to a mortal,” he admitted. “But you proved yourself both loyal and brave last night. You placed yourself in front of me, facing an unknown peril.” He stepped up to Jared. “I owe you much.”
His hands came up and long fingers cupped his cheeks. Jared stood still, holding his breath. It seemed as though the entire world did the same.
“Thank you,” Jensen said and he pressed a soft, dry kiss to Jared’s mouth.
His breath was sweet; Jared tasted mint and sugar and moonlight. His head swam a little and he pressed closer, moving so that he and Jensen were touching from chest to hip. The coolness of the Fae felt even colder against the heat of Jared’s skin. His mouth stung where his and Jensen’s lips touched.
Jensen pulled away with a gasp and his eyes were wide. The gold circles around the iris of his green eyes seemed wider, brighter. “That…” Jensen lifted one hand and touched his own mouth. “That was unexpected.”
Jared sucked in air as though he’d been underwater and unable to breathe. “What the hell was that?” he asked.
“Oh, that is so not good,” Kane was standing behind Jensen, his hands firm on the Prince’s shoulders. “Sire?”
“I…” Jensen looked bewildered. “That shouldn’t have happened.” He stared at Jared. “I can feel you!” he sounded accusing.
“Um, you’re standing a couple of feet away from me,” Jared pointed out. “Pretty sure you’re not.” And then he felt something tug inside. It burned a little and he stumbled back. The burning got worse. He gasped. “That hurts!”
“For fuck’s sake,” Misha stepped forwards and grabbed Jared’s hand. He pulled him towards Jensen and wrapped Jared’s fingers around Jensen’s wrist. The burning sensation eased.
“Fuck.” Jensen went pale. “Now what the fuck do I tell the Queen?”
Jared sat in the carriage heading into Seelie. He was pressed up close against Jensen. Much to his horror he'd discovered that moving away from Jensen, even just a few inches, resulted in pain. Jared was not a fan of pain so he went with plan B - staying close to Jensen.
It seemed as though the Prince was a little less comfortable with the situation. He shifted away every few minutes and then scooted back as soon as the burning became unbearable.
Eventually Jared grabbed his hand. “Enough,” he ordered. He linked their fingers. “Whatever this is, and I know you know exactly what it is, being separated is not good. It makes me hurt. I don't like being hurt. So hold my fucking hand and stop being such a bitch about this.”
Jensen's eyes went wide. Misha, Danni and Kane's eyes went wider. Obviously it had been some time since anyone had spoken to Jensen like that.
“I'm not some mortal to be...” Jensen stammered.
“Please, Jensen,” Jared begged and moved even closer, sighing in relief as the pain ebbed with contact.
“You should tell him before you have to explain to the Queen,” Kane said to Jensen.
“Tell him what?” Jared asked.
Jensen ignored him and glared at Kane. “Shut up,” he said. “You have no idea what you're talking about.”
“I know more than you do,” Kane told him. “I've been through it.”
“Been through what?” Jared asked and he was getting pissed off at being excluded from a conversation that clearly involved him.
“You've had a hundred years to come to terms with it,” Jensen reminded Kane.
“Stop the fucking bus and tell me what the fuck is going on?” Jared yelled. The Fae all stared at him. It had been a long time since he'd lost his temper.
“This is a side of you I have not seen before,” Misha noted.
“I'm normally not as annoyed with all of you,” Jared admitted, his eyes never leaving Jensen and Kane. “So, who is going to let me in on the big scary thing that you're not actually telling me about that has something to do with the fact that I feel as though I’m on fire if I’m not touching Jensen?”
Kane rolled his shoulders and wedged himself into the corner of the carriage. “It's Jensen's duty to tell you,” he said with a pointed look at the Prince. “I suggest you come clean, Jen, and hope that Jay's okay with it.”
“Okay with what?” Jared demanded but Kane closed his eyes and pretended to sleep. Jared looked over at Jensen. “Where are we going?” he asked.
“We're going to Seelie, to the court of my aunt, Queen Samantha,” Jensen said.
Encouraged by the still-reluctant sharing of information, Jared asked, “Why do I need to go there?”
Jensen glared at an apparently oblivious Kane. Kane could obviously see through his closed eyelids because he lazily raised a middle finger and folded his arms.
“Jensen?” Jared prodded.
Jensen rolled his shoulders and then slumped against Jared. It became clear that Jared had never been in the company of a truly relaxed Jensen. It felt like Jensen was made of liquid. “When I kissed you in thanks,” Jensen began and then he sighed “I meant for it to be a promise. A bargain if you will. A boon for you to ask for at a later time.”
Jared raised his eyebrows. “I was supposed to get all that from a kiss that lasted about two seconds?”
Jensen scowled. “You’re suggesting that my kissing technique needs work?” He sounded affronted. As though this was a possibility that he’d never considered.
“Jensen, your kissing technique needs work,” Jared told him, tongue firmly in his cheek.
“You didn’t seem to mind,” Jared thought that Jensen sounded as though he was pouting. That damn Fae face told him nothing.
“You’re kind of gorgeous,” Jared told him. “I don’t think many people would sniff at a kiss from a Fae prince.”
Jensen’s eyes flashed. “Now you are baiting me!” he said.
Jared grinned. “Yeah,” he admitted. “I am.”
“You are an irritating human, Jared Padalecki,” Jensen informed him.
“It’s a gift,” Jared agreed. “So, tell me why I can’t seem to let go of you without screaming in pain?”
Jensen’s mouth turned down. “I am afraid you’re not going to like what I have to tell you.”
“It can’t be worse than not knowing,” Jared said.
“Very well,” Jensen’s body was a cool comfort beside him, easing the burning that seemed to simmer constantly below the surface. “When I kissed you, we bonded.”
“We what?” Jared was sure he’d heard incorrectly.
“We bonded.” Jensen sounded as miserable as Jared was beginning to feel.
“Bonded as in…” Jared couldn’t get the words out.
“Mated, yoked, joined, wed, united, linked, merged….” Jensen ticked off the words in a litany that made Jared feel a little ill.
“So we’re…” Jared pointed between himself and Jensen.
“A bonded pair,” Jensen nodded.
“Well, fuck,” Jared said.
As soon as the carriage arrived, Danni and Misha jumped out. They were clearly delighted to be back home and vanished into the throngs of brightly colored Fae.
Jim, the Queen’s Consul, waited for them. Kane hugged him and then turned to Jensen and Jared. “I’m going to see Steve. I’ll catch up with you both later.”
Jensen nodded and waved him off. Jared had met Kane’s partner, Steve, a couple of times over the past two years. He liked him. He liked them together. Jared suddenly understood the cryptic conversation Jensen and Kane had had in the carriage.
“They’ve been together for a hundred years?” was all he could say.
Jensen laughed and Jared looked at him properly. He realized that for the Fae, coming back to Seelie, to their home, gave them something extra. It was as though a layer of something vivid and glorious was smoothed over Jensen’s skin.
“That’s not fair,” he muttered and Jensen stared at him. “You’re even prettier here, that’s just so not fair.”
Jensen laughed again, his hair sliding loose and pale golden brown in the light of Seelie. His eyes were greener, rimmed with an even brighter gold. His freckles seemed more like tattoos across his milk-pale skin. The careful glamour the Fae held in the human world slid away to reveal the Fae in all their unworldly beauty.
“You are beautiful too, Jared Padalecki, in your own human way,” Jensen told him and his voice was layered with glamour.
“Hey!” Jared protested. “You don’t get to glamour me while I’m here!”
Jensen shook his head. “That is how I speak when I am in Seelie,” he said. “There was no glamour in my voice.”
Jim touched his arm. “We are not able to use glamour when we are in Seelie, Jared,” he told him. “The Prince is himself here. How he looks, how he speaks is just who he is. He is Seelie, he is Fae.”
Jared gaped at Jensen. “Are you telling me that when you’re in my world, the human world, you have to pretend to be less than what you are?” Suddenly things made so much more sense. “Oh my god, having to hide who you are. It’s no wonder you hate us so much.”
“No,” Jensen shook his head. “I don’t hate humans. I’ve certainly never hated you.” He jiggled their clasped hands. “Just so that we are clear on this fact. It would be impossible for me to hate you, Jared.” He turned their hands over and stared at their linked fingers. “As my soul-bonded, I am sworn to love and be yours for the rest of time.”
“Uh….” Jared couldn’t think of one thing to say that didn’t sound either (a) creeped out (b) freaked out or (c) turned on.
“Jensen,” Jim cleared his throat. “The Queen is waiting.”
Jensen nodded and started to follow Jim. Jared held him back. “That’s it?” he asked. “You drop that bombshell on me after acting like I don’t exist for the past two years and that’s it?” He could hear himself squeaking.
“We can talk about it later,” Jensen said. “Right now, we’re keeping the Queen waiting.” He smiled. “It’s considered sort of rude, you know.”
“Sort of…” Jared sputtered but he let Jensen lead him into the Queen’s Citadel.
Queen Samantha was deep in conversation with a pretty blond Fae. She looked up when they walked in and smiled. The other Fae left the chamber silently and Jim followed her.
“Nephew,” she said and stood up, heading straight for them. She frowned a little when Jensen kissed her cheek but didn’t release his hold on Jared.
“Jared,” she smiled, slightly less brilliant.
“Your Majesty,” Jared said and tried to bow, made difficult by the fact the Jensen didn’t let go.
“What is going…” she stopped. “Oh.” She looked between them “Oh,” she repeated and her smile grew big. “This is wonderful news!” she exclaimed.
Jensen and Jared both stared at her. “He’s a human!” Jensen pointed out.
“I’m a human!” Jared reminded her.
The Queen waved an airy hand. “It matters not that you are mortal,” she said. “Once you have become soul-bonded with a Fae then your lifespan is linked with theirs.”
Jared tried to take this in. He grasped at the smallest piece of information. “Soul-bonded?” he asked. “That’s the second time I’ve heard that.” He looked at Jensen. “I’m guessing that it’s not just the name of your band?”
Jensen shook his head. “Kane chose the band name. He was separated from Steve, his own soul-bonded, for so much time when he was assigned to my guard, that he asked a boon from me. I agreed to the band name.”
“So it’s a real thing then?” Jared asked and Jensen released his hand.
Without the comfort of Jensen’s touch, the burning pain started up again. Jared gasped. “It feels worse,” he said through gritted teeth.
“It’s the soul-bond,” Queen Samantha explained and Jensen came up beside Jared, wrapped an arm around his waist and the agony dulled.
“It’s supposed to be a good thing right?” Jared asked, still a little shaky.
“Of course,” the Queen replied.
“So what’s the deal with the pain thing?”
She pursed her lips and Jared could practically see her thinking about how much she should tell him.
“I deserve the truth, your Majesty, especially if I’m bonded to your nephew.”
Her eyes met his and he saw a shrewd, ancient intelligence that he never wanted to be on the wrong side of. Then she smiled. “Of course you are correct, Jared,” she said and waved them to a sofa. It was incongruously large and comfortable in the somewhat austere beauty of the Queen’s chambers.
Jensen sat, tugging Jared down with him. It seemed that the anger and reservations the Fae Prince had been feeling on the way to Seelie had dissipated.
“Why are you acting so weird?” Jared whispered to him.
“I’m not acting weird,” Jensen looked resigned. “The bond is there. I cannot break it. The best thing to do is to accept it and learn to work with it.”
“Well, that sounds fucking wonderful,” Jared felt a little insulted. “So you’re just accepting this thing, even though you’ve never shown the least bit of interest in me?”
They’d forgotten the Queen. She cleared her throat. “If I may?” she asked, looking to Jensen for permission.
He nodded glumly. Jared really wanted to know what made this guy, this Fae, tick.
“It is no accident that you were assigned to be Soul Bonded’s human liaison.” She leaned forward. “Jeffrey and I had a little bit of a disagreement when we first discussed it.”
Jared was completely confused. “You asked for me?” He exchanged glances with Jensen who appeared just as confused.
“I insisted on you,” she said.
Jensen jumped to his feet and his absence tore at something in Jared. “I can’t believe you manipulated me like that!” he exclaimed.
Jared wondered how he could ignore the searing pain that was eating at his own insides. “Jensen,” he clasped his hands together, squeezed them hard.
“You don’t speak to me like this, nephew.” Samantha’s face was hard and Jared felt a shiver of worry for Jensen.
Something that felt like a blade of pain twisted inside and Jared sucked in a breath. “Jensen,” he tried again.
“You keep trying to run my life and I’ve just about had enough!” Jensen stalked up to the Queen and his chin jutted up as he went toe to toe with the most powerful Fae in the world.
Jared’s eyes closed as the agony burning inside him drowned out everything else. “Jensen,” he shouted and he could feel himself tilting over. He could do nothing to stop the fall.
“Oh shit, fuck, Jared!” Jensen’s voice sounded like he was talking to him from the moon, muffled and distant. “Jared, I’m sorry, shit, Jay, don’t, please.” Jared tried to open his eyes and could only see Jensen’s worried face through a haze of pain. “I’m sorry, I’ve got you, fuck…Jay!”
And Jared slid into darkness with a grateful sigh.
Everything hurt. Jared realized this the moment he regained consciousness. His head felt like a split open piñata and his throat was dry. His body ached as though he had gone three rounds with Ali and lost. Badly. He moved his head and fuck, just doing that hurt.
Then he saw Jensen. The Fae was curled up on the bed beside to him, fast asleep and breathing deeply. His hair fell across his face and cheeks and his hand rested on Jared’s chest. Over his heart.
Jared froze. He’d never seen Jensen like this. Relaxed, peaceful, unguarded.
“The staring is creepy,” Jensen’s voice startled him and Jared tried to jerk away. “Don’t move,” Jensen ordered. “The touching, it has to happen for the next week or so.”
Jared stopped moving and stared. “Are you telling me that for the next week I can’t be out of reach of your touch without passing out?”
Jensen opened his eyes and he smiled. “Fainting like a girl,” he corrected, “and yes.”
“I did not faint,” Jared scowled, but with him being all snuggled up in bed with Jensen, it kind of lost its impact.
“You so did,” Jensen assured him and scooted closer. “Eyes rolled back and you hit the ground like a Redwood.” He lifted his head a little and lay it back down on Jared’s shoulder. “Move your arm,” he ordered.
Dumbly, Jared obeyed and found himself with an armful of sleepy Fae. “I…” he stuttered.
“You need more rest,” Jensen told him. “And so do I. This soul-bonding sucks ass.”
Jared tried to twist his neck so that he could see Jensen’s expression. It didn’t work because Jensen decided to shove his face into the curve of Jared’s neck. The cool breath against his skin distracted him. Jared was starting to think that Jensen was very good at being distracting.
“Sleep,” Jensen said again. “I need it. You need it. Morgan knows where you are and so does your father.”
“Oh my god,” Jared tried to sit up. “JD is going to kill me!”
Jensen held him down easily, reminding Jensen of the superior strength of the Fae. “JD is delighted,” he muttered into Jared’s neck. “He and my aunt are planning a summer wedding for us.”
“A what?” Jared knew that he sounded as though someone had stood on his tail. He felt like he’d fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole. “Jensen, we have to do something, stop them…” He trailed off when the hand on his chest trailed down to his belly and a slow ache set up a beat in his groin. “Uh….”
“In order to avoid being in constant contact with each other or else being in constant pain, we need to cement the bond,” Jensen told him and then he gave a little snort. “Cement the bond.” He lifted laughing green eyes to Jared’s, inviting him to share in the truly terrible pun.
Jared couldn’t help himself. He kissed him.
Jensen opened his mouth to him, allowing him access and Jared feasted. He thought that he may have wanted this for the entire two years he’d known Jensen. He moaned into Jensen’s mouth and then jerked back.
“That’s…” he was breathing hard, so turned on that his eyes were practically crossing. “Your tongue…” he found out that his vocabulary decreased the more enthusiastic his dick got.
“My tongue?” Jensen asked, eyebrow raised and Jared could tell the fucker knew exactly what he was talking about.
Jared pointed at Jensen’s mouth. “You have a forked tongue!” he said and he really didn’t mean for it to sound accusing.
Jensen shrugged and rested his chin on Jared’s chest. “It happens at certain times,” he said diffidently. “I like the way your mouth tastes.”
Jared was sure that his mouth tasted like ass right now. “I need to brush my teeth,” he mumbled and then realized that Jensen had distracted him again. “Hey!” he protested. “Forked tongue?”
“It’s a Fae thing,” he said. “Our tongues look normal until we get um….worked up.” His cheeks went a little pink.
“Then your tongue splits in two?” Jared asked. He was weirdly fascinated and had several ideas on how to experiment with that.
“Yeah,” Jensen said. He looked up at Jared from beneath long eyelashes. “Does that make you feel uncomfortable?”
Jared grabbed one of Jensen’s hands and placed it on his groin. “Does that feel uncomfortable?” he asked.
Jensen’s worried expression turned wicked. “Honestly?” he grinned and flicked that fucking tongue at Jared. “It does feel a little uncomfortable.”
Jared laughed and rolled over, pinning Jensen beneath him. “You mentioned something about cementing the bond?” He pressed his mouth to the base of Jensen’s throat.
“I don’t think…” Jensen gasped as Jared sucked at the skin, wanting to leave a mark. Some sort of proof that he’d been there.
“Shut up,” Jared said against the coolness of Jensen’s skin. “I don’t know if I’m going to get the chance to do this again.”
Jensen arched up against him and Jared felt him hard and insistent against his thigh. “You get to do this for the rest of your life,” Jensen told him. “We are soul-bonded and nothing will break that bond except death.”
Jared kissed him quiet. “Then let’s make sure that we seal the deal,” he tasted something alien and sweet on the tips Jensen’s tongue. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to let you go.”
“Sex with the Fae is supposed to be quite exhilarating,” Jensen said and his hands slid down Jared’s back to his ass. “I hope you are prepared for it.”
Jared grinned and ground his dick against Jensen’s. “I think I’ve been ready for the last two years.”
Then Jensen tipped him over and crouched over him. “No more clothes,” he ordered, tugging at Jared’s shirt. Jared realized then that he’d been sleeping in his undershirt and boxers. He wondered who’d undressed him.
“Okay,” he agreed and pulled his shirt off. Jensen’s eyes were wide with appreciation. “Tit for tat,” Jared said.
“What?” Jensen dragged his gaze away from Jared’s chest with gratifying difficulty.
“Clothes off,” Jared told him. Jensen scrambled to oblige, trying to keep at least part of his body in connection with Jensen’s all the time. It must have looked ridiculous.
And then it was cool skin against warm, smooth skin against rough and Jared held on. He couldn’t breathe. He was surrounded by Jensen’s scent, his skin, his hands.
“Jensen,” he stared up into Jensen’s eyes and saw that the green was almost gone and Jensen’s eyes were nearly all molten gold. “God,” he whispered, “you’re so fucking beautiful.” He felt clumsy and unworthy and so very human.
Jensen’s face softened. “You are beautiful too, Jared,” he assured him. “Your skin is so warm.” He bent down and smoothed his cheek up the plane of Jared’s chest. “The color, it’s like you’ve been kissed by the sun.”
Jared shook his head. “I watch you,” he admitted, suddenly in no hurry to go any faster. “The way you move, your hands.”
“That sounds a little creepy, you know that right?” Jensen asked, but he was smiling.
“Yeah,” Jared said and lifted a hand to tuck a strand of hair behind Jensen’s ear. He rubbed the pointed tip of Jensen’s ear carefully and Jensen practically purred. “Seriously?” Jared asked. “That turns you on?”
Jensen closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. “Just because ears aren’t erogenous zones for humans, doesn’t mean that applies to the Fae,” he pointed out and Jared could feel the evidence of the truth of his words against his inner thigh. Jensen really liked his ears being touched.
“You know, I’m going to make it my life’s work to discover each and every spot on your body that makes you react like this,” Jared warned Jensen.
“I have no objections to that,” Jensen assured him. “Now, how about you shutting up and letting me have my way with you?”
“Okay,” Jared said and let his hand drop. “Do whatever you want with me.”
Jensen’s eyes danced. “Oh, I will,” he promised and then licked his lips. Jared shivered at the sight of that tongue. He was not going to think about the things it could do to him.
Jensen’s mouth covered his and Jared stopped thinking at all.
Jared woke up and winced at the ache. “Ow,” he moaned and Jensen lifted his head from his shoulder.
“Sore?” Jensen asked and the concern in his face was sweet and unexpected.
“Good sore,” Jared said and he was rewarded with a smile that made his insides go soft and pathetically mushy.
“I’ve called for a bath,” Jensen told him and he climbed off the bed, tugging Jared with him. Jared took a moment to admire the perfection of him. All pale skin and golden brown hair and long limbs. The slight bow of his legs was a sort of cute reminder that Jensen wasn’t entirely perfect.
“Are you hungry?” Jensen asked and Jared’s stomach answered for him with a loud rumble.
They both laughed and headed for the small table loaded with plates of food.
Jared poked at something pink and wobbly. “What the fuck?” he asked. While he’d been with them, the Fae hadn’t eaten anything but human food.
“Ambrosia,” Jensen told him. “Try it.” He scooped some up on his finger and offered it to Jared.
“It’s pink jelly,” Jared said, looking at the offering.
“Stop being a baby and try it.” Jensen poked at Jared’s mouth with his finger until he opened up and accepted the stuff.
It vanished on his tongue, sinking in without a trace but it left a tingle bouncing around Jared’s mouth. “Oh my god, that shit is fucking amazing,” Jared leaned past Jensen and helped himself to more of the ambrosia.
“Hence, the name,” Jensen said with a smile and stopped Jared when he would have eaten more. “You should go easy on it, there’s a reason why we haven't shared it with you humans.”
Jared scowled at Jensen and reached out. “I want more,” he said and he did, his entire being wanted more of the pink goo.
“No,” Jensen was kind. “It was handed to us by the gods of the Greeks, and we've been very careful not to abuse it.” He pushed Jared back. “It's addictive and dangerous. Not even the Fae eat of it often.” He smiled. “My aunt, the Queen must have thought that we have need to celebrate.”
Jared really wanted more of the ambrosia, but he allowed Jensen to distract him with hands and arms and kisses and skin that felt like silk.
“You do this a lot,” he noted as Jensen kissed him.
“Do what?” Jensen asked and his mouth tasted like strawberries and cream.
“Distract me,” Jared said.
Jensen looked up at him and his eyes were burnished gold. “We have bonded but only half-way,” he said. “There is equality in a Fae soul-bond.”
Jared stared at him. “You mean I...” his brain short-circuited at the thought of taking Jensen in the same way he'd been claimed.
“Yes,” Jensen breathed against his skin. “For the pain to end, you need to fuck me and make me yours just as I made you mine.”
The words made Jared lose control and he grabbed Jensen, pushed him back towards the bed and watched as skin as pale as milk spread out on a sheet the color of gold. “You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,” he said and Jensen smiled.
“And I'm yours,” he held up his arms. “Take me.”
The quiet knock on the door woke Jared first. He looked over at Jensen who was fast asleep next to him. His mouth was red and there were marks all over his pale skin. He looked thoroughly debauched and Jared couldn’t quite believe that he was the reason Jensen looked that way.
The knock came again, a little more insistent and Jensen made a noise in his sleep. Jared pressed a kiss to a bared shoulder and got out of bed. He grabbed his boxers, pulled them on and went to the door. He opened it to an amused looking Kane.
“The Queen requests your and the Prince’s attendance in her meeting room,” Kane said, words formal but a dancing glee in his eyes. He tried to look over Jared’s shoulder to where Jensen was lying. Jared moved in front of him.
“No,” he said. “That is mine alone to see.” He was pretty sure he sounded like a caveman but he didn’t care. This version of Jensen belonged solely to Jared and he was prepared to guard it like the treasure it was.
Kane smiled his approval. “As it should be,” he nodded towards the room. “Have fun getting him up and ready for the Queen.” And he left Jared with a sleepy and slightly rebellious Jensen.
“Come on,” Jared wheedled. “Your aunt has asked for us to come to her. You need to get up, Jen.”
Jensen burrowed deeper into the pillows with a whine. “Five more minutes,” he begged and Jared pulled the sheets off the bed. Jensen sat up quickly, the cool air of the morning hitting his bare skin. “Fucker,” he hissed.
Jared grinned. This had been one of the only fun parts of taking care of Soul Bonded in the human realm. Waking Jensen was entertaining to say the least.
“Come on, you baby,” he said. “There’s coffee on the table.”
Jensen made a pathetic face that Jared refused to think of as adorable and held out a hand. “Please?” he asked.
Jared shook his head. “Nope, I give you your coffee in bed and you never get up.” He wagged a finger at Jensen. “I know all your tricks, remember?”
Jensen gave him a filthy glare and he slipped off the bed and stalked over to the table. Jared admired the view as he leaned against the bedpost.
The noise Jensen made at the first sip of coffee made Jared close his eyes. He knew now that it was the same sound that Jensen made when he came. Except a little softer. He grinned to himself. Jensen made a lot of noise in bed. He wouldn’t have guessed it at all.
“Who was at the door?” Jensen asked after he’d inhaled his first cup and was savoring his second.
“Kane,” Jared said and went into the bathroom. He stared at the wall of what looked like the shower for a moment and then came back out. “Um, taps?” he asked.
Jensen smiled and put his cup down. “Let me introduce you to one of the best things about Seelie,” he said. He walked into the shower cubicle. It was spacious and open but there was no ceiling. He held out a hand to Jared. “Join me?” he invited.
Jared stepped up next to him and Jensen looked up. He followed Jensen’s gaze and watched in fascination as a small cloud hovered over the cubicle. And then it started to rain.
Warm, soft water sluiced down his skin, washing away the scent of sex. Jared opened his mouth and let the water flow into it. It tasted sweet and pure and he laughed.
Jensen’s arms went around him and Jared realized that since they’d slept together, the burning in his gut had dulled to a twinge. “It doesn’t hurt anymore,” he told Jensen.
“That’s because we’re bound now.” Jensen lifted his face to the rain and Jared couldn’t help himself. He bent down and kissed him as the water cascaded over them.
Their mouths clung as their hands moved over each other. Jared felt Jensen growing hard again and he pulled Jensen close. “I think it’s your turn now,” he breathed into Jensen’s ear, voice low beneath the sound of the water.
Jensen laughed and spun Jared around, pressing him chest-first against the wall of the shower. It wasn’t hard or cold. The wall felt warm and alive and it molded around Jared’s body as Jensen trailed kisses down his spine, over the curve of his ass and down to where he was still loose.
Jared sucked in a breath as Jensen’s tongue entered him. He went up on his toes when he felt Jensen’s tongue split inside him, holding him open and then Jensen’s fingers were there, moving in lazy circles.
He dropped his forehead against the wall, felt it give beneath him, forming an indentation that cradled his skull. Jensen stood again, held his hips in strong, slender hands and fucked slowly inside. It felt like a dream. His body opened to Jensen, welcomed him and then Jensen was pressed up against him, body a firm contrast to the soft wall in front of him.
Jared pushed back into Jensen, dropped his head back against Jensen’s shoulder. He groaned when Jensen bit down on the curve of his neck. Just then Jensen snapped his hips forward, burying himself balls deep inside him. Jared came, shouting Jensen’s name.
The rain slowed and Jensen pulled carefully out of Jared, pressing soothing kisses against Jared’s jaw and neck. Jared slumped forward with a sigh and fell against the wall still wrapped in Jensen’s embrace.
“The Queen,” he murmured.
“Later,” Jensen said and dried him off with a towel that felt like cotton wool against his skin. Jared let Jensen lead him back to the bed. He sank into the downy folds and fell asleep in the comfort of Jensen’s arms.
Several hours later they made their way to the Queen’s meeting room. Jared flushed a little as every eye turned to them as he and Jensen walked in.
“I apologize for our tardiness,” Jensen said, all smooth charm. “But my Bonded and I were ensuring that there is no doubt as to our joining.”
Jared wanted to kick him. Jensen had practically announced that they’d been fucking like bunnies for the last while. It might have been true but he still didn’t want the entire world to know.
“So it is done then?” Queen Samantha raised an eyebrow from her seat at the head of the table.
Jensen grinned and there was something so happy, so joyous about the expression that it made Jared smile too. He looked around the room and the twenty or so Fae that were in attendance had the same happy smiles on their faces.
“Our Prince has his Bonded and it’s a human,” a voice from the far end of the table said. Jared looked to its source. It was an older Fae, hair silver with age and lines just showing at the corner of his eyes.
“I have,” Jensen said and squeezed Jared’s hand. “A more worthy man I have yet to meet.” He tugged Jared forward and they sat down at the right hand of the Queen.
“Tell us of your Bonded,” the same Fae asked.
Jensen looked at the Queen who nodded once. “His name is Jared Padalecki.” The name sent murmurs around the chamber. Jared had only been to Seelie once before and he’d not seen many other Fae. He had met only Queen Samantha, Jim, Kane and Steve of the group assembled here right now.
“He is related to the human President of the United States?” The blond Fae who Jared had seen talking to the Queen on his arrival leaned forward, her pretty face curious.
Jensen nudged Jared. “Um, yes,” he said. “My father is the President.”
The room rustled with whispers and Jared looked at Jensen. The Queen held up a hand. “Jared is a powerful warlock in his own right and is well suited to be the mate of Prince Jensen.” Jared stared at her. This was the first time he’d heard the Queen speak about him like this. He’d been sure that she would be pissed at Jensen mating with a human.
“What magic do you have?” The question came from a slim man with dark brown hair.
“Matthew,” Kane glared at the Fae. “That’s just plain fucking rude.”
“Kane!” Jensen shook his head. “This is not the place for that sort of speech.”
Jared watched Queen Samantha and his eyes widened when she winked at him during this exchange. “You're happy about this,” he said and it finally sank in. “You knew about us, that we were...” he waved his hand around and looked at Jensen.
“You sort of passed out during the discussion,” Jensen reminded him.
“You chose me for Jensen!” Jared exclaimed. He was kind of pissed off at the thought. Even though he was seriously crazy about Jensen. Still.
The Queen shook her head. “Oh no, Jared, I most certainly didn't. The Fates chose you for my nephew.” She smiled at him and it was kind. “Jensen was designed especially for you and you are the only creature in the entire universe made only for him.”
Jensen's fingers wrapped around Jared's. “To be part of a soul-bonded pair is rare among the Fae,” his gaze was intent on Jared’s face. “This is an amazing thing for me.”
Jared stared at Jensen and the rest of the room faded away. “I don’t want to feel as though you had no choice in this,” he said and his voice was small. “I mean, you’re Jensen Ackles, heir to the throne of Seelie and I’m just…” he stopped, “…me.”
“Jared,” Jensen’s face went soft. “I’m not being forced into this. You’re the other half of me. It feels like a part of me that’s been missing is finally back where it belongs.” He raised a hand and cupped Jared’s cheek. “I want this.”
Jared stared at him until he felt reassured by the conviction in Jensen’s eyes. “Okay,” he said and Jensen smiled, wide and brilliant. A knot eased inside Jared and he leaned back in his chair. “Tell me about this King Mark of the Unseelie,” he asked, looking at the Queen.
She flushed a little, the delicate pink shining brightly on her pale cheeks. “He’s my twin brother,” she said and Jared stared. “He’s the dark half to the light of the Seelie,” she explained.
“So is he a bad guy then?” Jared asked.
Queen Samantha shook her head. “No,” she said. “He is merely other.” She appeared frustrated at being unable to explain properly.
Jim touched her arm and said, “If I could?” She nodded and waved him on. “The Unseelie are our brothers and sisters,” Jim said. “They are family of the Seelie in the most basic way, DNA.”
Jared nodded. “But why aren’t they part of the Seelie?” He was thoroughly confused now.
Jim sighed. “When a Seelie breaks the laws of the Fae, they are not killed, they are banished.”
“To the Unseelie Court?” Jared was starting to understand.
Jim nodded. “They are stripped of their powers, left with their lives and are banished from the light of Seelie.”
“Banished to where?” Jared asked.
“Seelie is a world beside yours,” Jim began to explain and Jared nodded. He’d heard the official story but he sensed that he was about to learn more than he’d ever expected or wanted.
“It’s a parallel world, joined by the Veil to ours,” Jared said.
“Yes,” Jim nodded. “And just as with your realm, Seelie is divided into different parts or areas.”
“Like continents?” Jared asked.
“Seelie is the name we give for our world just as Earth is the name you give to yours,” Queen Samantha said. “But it is made up of Seelie and Unseelie.”
Jared frowned. “So Seelie is a part of Seelie and Unseelie is a part of Seelie?” His brain hurt.
“Think of it this way,” Jensen said. “It’s like Seelie is the part that faces the sun and Unseelie is the part that is always in shadow.”
Jared felt a little shiver skitter across his body. “That sounds like a pretty crappy place to live,” he said.
“There is nothing that kills the spirit of the Fae faster than the loss of the sun,” Queen Samantha said and her eyes were very sad.
“But the King, Mark and that mage guy, Corin, they had power,” Jared said, remembering that Jim had mentioned that their powers were stripped when banished.
Queen Samantha’s face was grim. “To protect the throne, the Unseelie Court is allowed one mage and the King is allowed to keep his powers - albeit diminished - in order to keep order.”
“That’s why we were taken by surprise,” Kane said, mouth tight. “They shouldn’t have enough power to get through the wards between your world and ours. Someone in Seelie has betrayed the Queen.”
There was a rustle of noise as everyone in the room talked among themselves.
“Please,” Queen Samantha lifted a hand. “I sent scouts out over the land to see where the rip in the wall is and when they return, we will take action to mend it.”
Jared was thinking about the appearance of King Mark and his cronies back on earth. “You say they found a tear between our worlds?” he asked
“That is the only way they could have come through,” Jim agreed.
“I sent them back to Seelie, right?” Jared looked at Jensen who nodded in confirmation.
“Where are you going with this, Jared?” Queen Samantha stared at him.
“Well,” Jared said, ““Is there any chance that any of the Unseelie might have gone through since our meeting with the King and the others?” Jared’s question seemed to confound the Fae.
“Are you suggesting that some of the Unseelie have already gone through the break in the Veil?” Queen Samantha sounded horrified. “Surely not?”
“Oh my god,” Jensen breathed. “That’s it!” He looked around at the Fae. “The Unseelie are trying to get out of our world for good.”
The Queen stared at him. “That isn’t possible,” she said. “He wouldn’t want to leave his home…” her voice trailed off. “Leave me.”
Jensen jumped up. “Who did you send to inspect the wall?” he asked her.
“I sent Julie and James.” She stood as well.
“James?” Jensen asked. “Your cousin James?”
She nodded. Jensen started for the door. “What are you doing?” the Queen asked.
“James was Mark’s best friend and your foster brother,” Jensen told her. “He was never happy with your decision to banish your brother.”
“No,” she breathed. “He wouldn’t.”
Jared raced after Jensen. “Where are you going?” he yelled.
“To stop the invasion of your world!” Jensen called back.
Jared could feel the blood rushing in his ears as he hurried after Jensen. “What the hell are you talking about?” he asked when they stopped at the gateway to the Citadel.
Jensen didn’t look at him when he replied. “The Unseelie are looking for a way to escape Seelie,” he gave a series of whistles that seemed to get louder and louder. Jared flinched at the last sharp sound and then he heard a sound like thunder.
“What the fuck…” he stared at the huge horses that came galloping up. The lead stallion was golden brown with a flowing red mane. The three horses that followed him were impossible shades of green and blue.
“Meet the Rokh,” Jensen bowed to the giant animals. “This is Agamemnon.” Jared quickly followed suit.
“Welcome Jared, mortal Bonded of our Prince” The words echoed in Jared’s head and he stared at the horses on shock.
“You can talk!” Jared exclaimed. The laugh in his head was a decidedly equine whinny.
“We speak to those who will listen”
Jared looked between them and grinned. “That’s awesome.”
The laugh came again and Jensen stepped forward. “We need a favor,” he said.
The big golden Rokh fixed his gaze on Jensen. “Those who would escape Seelie forget that there is more than the Fae held behind the wall between worlds. The human realm cannot contain that which fights to be free”
“Wait, what?” Jared asked and then a series of mental pictures flashed across his mind, twisted things not meant for human eyes. The Unseelie were creatures of nightmare. “Oh my god, that’s what’s going to get into my world if we don’t stop the Unseelie?” He felt sick to his stomach. “We have to do something.”
“Climb upon the withers of my captain, Mordecai, and we shall carry you and your Bonded to the place where the wall is torn”
The second largest Rokh came forward and dropped to one knee. Its emerald green coat was soft and silky and the sky blue mane felt like cotton candy. Jared clambered ungracefully onto its back and saw that Jensen was already on the leader.
“We ride!” The shout in his head sounded like a war cry and then he was holding on for dear life as the ground disappeared beneath the feet of the Rokh.
“We do not have wings as the pegasii do but we walk upon the air with as much ease” The voice in his mind was different now, female and kind.
“Mordecai?” he asked.
“It is a privilege to meet the Bonded of our Prince”
“Well, thanks for the lift,” Jared said, not sure what to talk to a horse about.
“We are Rokh” Mordecai sounded firm. “Our appearance is deceptive. We are of the oldest inhabitants of Seelie”
“Wait a minute,” Jared’s head was spinning. “So Seelie isn’t just another word for Fae?” He didn’t understand why this hadn’t been made clear before. He was pretty sure JD and his father thought the same thing that he did.
“Would you feel as comfortable knowing that there is more to Seelie than the beautiful Fae?” Mordecai sounded curious.
“Well, thinking back to what Agamemnon showed me, I’m thinking no,” Jared admitted.
“For every light, there is a shadow. For every beauty, there is a beast” Mordecai told him.
“So I’m guessing that you’re part of the light?”
“Our shadow brothers, the Rach, are creatures of nightmare” Mordecai said. “We are the Dreamspinners and they are the Nightmares”
Jared almost tipped of the back of his ride and grabbed harder onto Mordecai’s mane. “Do the shadows, the beasts, have the powers that you do?” he asked. “The Fae said that the Unseelie court is less powerful than the Seelie court.”
“Ah, the Fae might pretend to know all but they are not always right” Mordecai sounded amused. “All creatures of Seelie, whether dark or light, have powers beyond the mortal ken”
“I’ve met King Mark,” Jared said.
“And you, a mere mortal, humiliated him” Mordecai shook her head. “That will sit ill with him”
“I was just doing my job,” Jared said, defending himself.
“You did well to face the might of the Unseelie King and come out unscathed” Mordecai said and suddenly they were moving down towards the ground once more. Mordecai landed delicately and Agamemnon, along with Jensen and the other two Rokh were right with them.
“Can you feel it?” It was Agamemnon once more inside his head and Jared turned to look at him. Jensen’s hair blew around his face and he looked like a warrior from some ancient tale.
“They’re trying to break the seal,” Jensen said and urged Agamemnon on towards the forest in front of them. “We have to stop them!”
“We are but a few, my Prince” Agamemnon leapt forward. Mordecai and the others followed.
Jared felt energy buzzing against his skin as they hit the trees. He sucked in a startled breath. “That’s not a nice feeling,” he muttered.
“Yours is a power of light, Jared” Mordecai told him. “You sense the wrong that is Unseelie magic”
Branches broke against his skin as they plummeted into the darkest part of the forest. The burn of the Unseelie magic punched against Jared, buffeting him hard.
“Hold on!” Mordecai told him and then they were soaring through the air, over a gash in the ground that made it seem as though the land was wounded.
Jared looked down and far below them Seelie pulsed at the core. “There!” Jensen called, his word snatched by the wind and Jared followed where he was pointing.
It looked like black oil seeping across the ground. Several figures stood at the edge of the spill. Jared recognized Corin and Genevieve. The King stood slightly back, leaning against a sickly gray version of the Rokh with them. “Is that a Rach?” Jared leaned forward and shouted in Mordecai’s ear.
“It is Agamemnon’s twin, Belshazzar” Mordecai confirmed and just then, they were spotted.
Belshazzar, pale ghost of Agamemnon, sounded the alarm. The King of the Unseelie looked up and Jared could see the anger on his face.
“You're too late!” he shouted and there was something desperate in his voice.
“You know that you are not allowed to do this!” Jensen yelled back and the Rokh landed. The ground trembled beneath them.
Jensen was off and running before Agamemnon had even stopped and Jared scrambled to follow him. He was terrified and started calling his power as he raced after Jensen, towards the thick pool of black oil that oozed beneath the shimmering veil that reached from the ground to the sky.
“Jensen!” Jared called. “Wait for me!”
Jensen paid no attention as he reached the King. “This will not happen!” Jensen’s voice shook with rage and fear and the ground shook harder.
Jared realized then that Jensen was calling on the power of the land itself and that Seelie was responding. He saw Corin raise a hand, unseen by Jensen, and reacted without thought.
“No,” and Jared’s voice boomed across the space between them like a cannon. Corin was thrown off his feet and Jared understood that Seelie was amplifying his own powers.
Jensen’s startled gaze met his and Mark took that moment to strike out. A bolt of black lightning flew from his hand and punched into Jensen’s torso so hard that it hurled him back.
“No!” This time Jared screamed and the sky seemed to explode with sound and power. He threw a hand out towards Mark as he ran to where Jensen lay. Mark’s throat split open and blood the color of ash poured out. His hands came up to try and stem the tide but Jared and Seelie had struck a killing blow.
Jared barely paid attention to the screaming battle between the Rokh and the Rach as he crumpled to his knees beside Jensen.
He reached out a trembling hand and touched the spot where black lightning pulsed and scarlet blood oozed. “Jen,” he whispered and his other hand clenched into the dark, rich soil of Seelie. “Jen, please, don’t leave me.”
The pain was an inferno inside him. Where the soul-bond had burned and pulsed like a fire that would only be put out by Jensen’s touch, this pain was an agony that threatened to tear Jared apart.
Jensen remained still. Too still. His eyes were closed and his eyelashes were dark against abnormally pale cheeks. His skin began to take on a grey tinge as the blood continued to bubble out of him.
Jared pulled the edges of Jensen’s shirt away from his skin and flinched at the damage that had been done. He stopped being tentative then, firmed his resolve and put his hand to the spear of lightning that pulsed dark and wrong through Jensen’s skin.
He felt his palms tear as he pulled the weapon from Jensen’s abdomen. It came free with reluctance, sucking at the flesh, ripping Jensen apart, doing even more damage on the way out. Jensen made a small sound, a sort of gasp, and then seemed to fold in on himself.
Jared didn’t think it was possible to hurt so much. The soul-bond was shredding apart, taking small pieces of his soul with him as Jensen faded away.
Jared clenched his fist and watched his blood well up and fall onto Jensen’s wound. And Jared fell forward, his hand opened up and spread out over the bleeding mess that was Jensen’s abdomen.
This wasn’t how this story was supposed to end, he thought He heard the faintest of heartbeats as he pressed his face to Jensen’s chest.
This wasn’t how this story was going to end, he decided and called his power.
He felt it rising inside him. It was like a tsunami as it swept up and through every pore in his body. The sound was deafening as it poured out of him.
He’d never actually seen his power as a thing; manifested in any form. It had always just been there, this ability to mold the world around him into whatever he dreamed it to be. But here, in the land of the Fae, he was astounded to see that it was like a golden wind. It swirled and spun in the air, heading straight for the black oil that continued to eat at the wall between their worlds.
It blanketed the black ooze, covering and smothering it. Jared could almost hear it wailing as it was forced back into the ground. Seelie closed around it, negating its force and cutting it off from its source.
Then the bright golden ribbon of energy pulsed through the ashen Rach that were battling with Mordecai, Agamemnon and their kin. They crumpled to the ground, writhing in agony and Jared met Mordecai’s grateful eyes.
“Be blessed, Jared”
The Rokh stumbled over to where Jared was kneeling. “Seelie responds to you as though you were her own” Agamemnon’s dark voice rumbled through his head.
“I have to save him,” Jared said and he realized that he was weeping as his cheeks grew cold in the crisp air.
“Then save him” Mordecai said.
The golden stream of power came soaring back towards Jared, splitting and spreading until it was like a gilded mantle above them.
And then it dropped, enveloping Jared, Jensen and the Rokh entirely.
For one moment, Jared thought that it had a mind, a will of its own. Then he realized that it existed by his will.
“Heal him,” he begged Seelie. A tendril slithered down from the canopy over them, sliding over his shoulder and down his chest and moved delicately over Jensen’s chest. It eased inside the gaping wound torn into Jensen’s flesh and vanished into blood and bone.
Jared watched as light began to glow from beneath Jensen’s skin. He saw power moving through Jensen’s body, easing and healing as it went. He felt his strength waning and called on Seelie to help him again.
The land responded with a surge of heat and color, bursting through the tips of his fingers and forming a web of magic around Jensen.
The edges of the wound started knitting together, blood slowing to a trickle until eventually there was no sign that there had even been an injury. Jensen heaved a huge breath and the lattice of magic dissipated around him.
Jared kept his hand on Jensen’s belly, blood drying between his fingers as he waited.
And Jensen opened his eyes.
Where before his green irises had been rimmed with gold, his eyes were now the darkest purple, bright and unreal and utterly beautiful.
“Jared?” his voice was hoarse and soft and Jared smiled.
“Hey,” he said and realized that his other hand was still clenched into the soil of Seelie. It was a physical pain to wrench himself free. He thought he heard the land make a protesting sound as well and he patted the ground in comfort. “Your eyes,” he murmured.
“We should take the traitor Corin back to the Queen” Agamemnon’s deep voice spoke quietly in his mind.
“Did anyone get through?” Jensen asked, allowing Jared to pull him to a sitting position.
“The wall was breached” Agamemnon’s words were sobering. “I cannot be sure if we stopped them in time”
Jensen waved Jared away when he would have helped him to his feet. “Get the mage,” he said instead, waving at a still-unconscious Corin.
Jared hovered a little as Agamemnon knelt beside Jensen, making it easier for him to climb onto his broad back.
“Place the mage on my back” Mordecai’s light voice instructed and Jared stumbled over to where the Unseelie mage lay.
He hoisted him up, feeling a little light-headed, and was grateful when Mordecai stooped to allow him to toss the mage’s unconscious body over the Rokh’s back.
“You need to help the Prince” Mordecai nosed him gently back to where Agamemnon waited. Jensen was drooping forward, obviously still not back to full strength.
Jared clambered onto Agamemnon’s back and pulled Jensen back to lean against his chest. “Let’s go,” he whispered.
“Indeed” Agamemnon said. Then they were leaping into the air, galloping up until they were high over the forest, Seelie below them like a sparkling jewel.
“You did more than save the Prince today, Jared of Padalecki” Agamemnon sounded serious. “You saved two worlds from certain war”
Jensen’s head rolled back against Jared’s shoulder and he turned his face into Jared’s neck. “I didn’t really do anything,” he admitted. “I think Seelie just used me as a conduit to protect itself.”
“Seelie has bonded with you, just like I did,” Jensen murmured into Jared’s skin. His breath was cool and Jared tightened his arms around Jensen’s waist.
“Seelie showed me power that I couldn’t even dream of,” Jared said, looking around at the clouds and then brushing his lips against Jensen’s cheek. “It was incredible. It was like I was a part of the land.”
Just then, a large bird dropped down from above them, wing-span huge and glimmering in the sunlight.
“Alona,” Jensen said and he was smiling. “Tell my aunt that we are well and that we are on our way to the Citadel.”
The bird turned its head and one dark eye met Jared’s. Then she opened her beak and cried out, so loudly that it pealed around the sky.
And the heavens were filled with birds and bird-song, wings and feathers beating soft and urgent around them. Jared flinched once and then stopped in wonder when he realized that he was being touched, stroked, welcomed to Seelie in a way that was both profound and moving.
He felt a damp warmth against his neck and looked down to see Jensen’s eyes bright with tears. “What’s wrong?” he asked, worried that he’d been squeezing too tightly and hurting still-tender flesh.
“You’ve just been crowned as King,” Jensen told him and his mouth trembled as he tried to smile.
“King of what?” Jared was completely confused. The birds numbered hundreds, possibly thousands, all shapes and colors and sounds. They dipped and swooped and flew around Jared and Jensen, between the galloping legs of the Rokh, brushing against Jared’s face and legs.
“King of Seelie,” Jensen said and his voice was tired and yet calm.
Jared felt even more confused. “But - you’re the heir!” he said and shrugged off a particularly bold bird flapping around his face that looked a little like a tiny owl. “You’re going to be the King.”
Jensen smiled into Jared’s neck, pressed a kiss there and said, “We’re soul-bonded, Jared; it means we both get to be King.”
The Rokh started descending as Jared thought about this. “Huh,” he said and asked, “Does that mean I get to order you around now?”
And Jensen laughed into Jared’s skin as they landed in front of the Citadel.
Queen Samantha took one look at them as they stumbled off the Rokh and sent them to bed.
“I need to tell you about…” Jensen began.
She pointed in the general direction of Jensen’s room. “Now,” she said, mouth firm. “I will have a little conversation with Corin in the meantime.”
Jared never, ever wanted to piss her off. She was one scary lady, he realized, as she watched Jim and Kane haul Corin from Mordecai’s back.
“But,” Jensen protested.
“I cannot hear or see you, therefore you must not still be here in disobedience to a direct command of the Queen,” she said, not looking at them.
“Come on, Jen,” Jared said, curling an arm around Jensen’s shoulders. “I think she’s got this.”
With a last glare at Corin, Jensen allowed himself to be dragged away.
Jared was staggering with exhaustion by the time they reached Jensen’s quarters. They leaned against each other as Jensen fumbled the door open and both practically fell over when they stepped inside.
The bed had moved since Jared had last been here. He frowned. It looked different as well. “Okay,” he said and looked at Jensen. “Your bed is now hanging from the ceiling?”
Jensen’s smile was tired. “Seelie gets bored when things stay the same,” he said and kicked off his shoes. Jared trailed after him as he headed to the bathroom. “She likes to change things up a little.”
Jared stopped at the door to the bathroom and stared. Where the giant rain-cloud-shower-thing had been was now a huge hole in the floor, brimming with bubbling, fragrant water that filled the room with steam. “Well, that’s new,” he said.
Jensen shucked his clothes and stepped down into the water, sighing as the heat pulled him down. Jared followed suit quickly, not even slightly embarrassed at the pathetic groan of pleasure he made as he sank into the water’s warm embrace.
It was deep. Only Jared’s upper chest and shoulders were above water and Jensen was submerged up to his chin. He watched as Jensen ducked his head beneath the bubbling liquid and came back out, hair slicked dark against his skin, violet eyes bright and strange in his face.
“I’m glad you’re okay,” he said and Jensen smiled at him.
“I haven’t thanked you for saving my life yet, have I?”
Jared shrugged and moved back to lean against the edge of the pool. A small ledge bulged out of the walls beneath the water, bumping against Jared’s butt and he sat down with a startled laugh. “That is so cool,” he breathed.
Then Jensen was in his lap, facing him, legs on either side of his waist and hands on his face. “You saved my life,” he said again, and his face was very serious. “Do you know what that means?”
“I own you?” Jared quipped but Jensen didn’t laugh. “I own you?” And his voice broke at the surge of desire the thought created.
“You own me,” Jensen agreed and his mouth found Jared’s, soft, sweet and utterly perfect.
Jared brought his hands up and rested them on Jensen’s hips. “You know your eyes have changed color now?” he asked.
Jensen sighed into his mouth and then pulled back. “The amount of power that you and the land pumped into me was bound to leave some visible effect,” he said. “Who knows, perhaps it will fade.”
“I kind of like it,” Jared admitted. “Very exotic.” Jensen smiled.
Jared really wanted to be careful with Jensen, but he wasn’t feeling particularly gentle right now. He’d almost lost Jensen today. The bond surged inside him at the thought and his fingers tightened on Jensen.
“I was so scared,” he confessed and pressed his lips to Jensen’s shoulder.
“Me too,” Jensen said and he curled his fingers into Jared’s hair, pulling his head back. “But we made it.”
Jared felt himself harden, push urgently against Jensen, but he wasn’t in a hurry. He really wanted to take his time with Jensen. “I almost lost you,” he whispered and Jensen’s arms came around him. He turned his face into Jensen’s neck and breathed him in.
“I’m okay,” Jensen whispered back and then they were kissing. The need to wait, to go slowly, vanished beneath the taste of lips and the press of their bodies.
The water roiled around them, cooled slightly against their over-heated skin and Jared felt the seat lift and mold around them so that he no longer worried about sliding off.
Jensen’s fingers dug into his shoulders and he lifted himself up and forward so that Jared’s cock was trapped beneath the weight of Jensen’s ass.
“Jen,” Jared groaned and Jensen bit his lower lip, just short of true pain and started rocking against Jared.
“Need this,” Jensen said and his eyes were dark purple and wide. “Need you.”
Jared thrust up against Jensen, trying to gain traction in the slippery water and he was frustrated when Jensen kept slipping away.
Seelie responded before he could mutter a complaint, the water draining away into nothing and the ledge lengthening and widening until Jared was lying on his back, Jensen eager and panting above him.
With a grin, he wrapped one hand around the back of Jensen’s neck and pulled him down to him. Molded together, he kissed Jensen hard, tongue pushing in and insistent.
Jensen went pliant and loose against him, body like satin, hair falling forward around his face like silk. He was still the most beautiful thing Jared had ever seen.
“The things I feel for you,” he murmured into Jensen’s mouth and Jensen smiled against his lips.
“Want you,” Jensen breathed and Jared wanted to fuck him so hard that he’d be feeling him for the next week.
“Shouldn’t we use..?” Jared gasped as Jensen’s fingers wrapped around his cock.
Jensen’s eyes were dark and determined. “Like this, nothing between us.”
“I’ll hurt you,” Jared objected. “Need to use something.”
Jensen shrugged. “I almost died,” he said. “I need to feel you inside me.”
Jared blinked and his heart beat hard. “The things you say,” he rolled his hips and Jensen sucked in a breath.
“Oils,” Jensen said. “And you.” He lifted one of Jared’s hands and sucked two of his fingers into the hot warmth of his mouth. Jared felt himself get harder as Jensen’s fingers made slow stokes up and down his cock.
“Not going to last if you keep that up,” he warned. Jensen reached around him and brought a small bottle back. He opened it and held it to Jared’s nose. The oil smelled like spice and sandalwood and Jared dipped his fingers into it. It felt thicker than oil and then Jensen was taking Jared’s hand and pressing his fingers to his hole.
“Open me up and make me feel every bit of it,” Jensen ordered. Jared shuddered but obeyed, helpless under Jensen’s intent gaze.
One finger slid in to the knuckle. Jensen was tight and unprepared. Jared wasn’t happy at the thought of Jensen being uncomfortable in any way. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said again.
Jensen’s jaw set firmly. “Stop telling me what you don’t want to do and do what you really want,” he said.
Jared pressed in deeper and felt Jensen clench around his finger. It was glorious and terrifying and wonderful and he thought that that top of his head might actually blow off if he kept doing this.
“Two,” Jensen said and Jared obeyed. Jensen felt looser, wetter and he leaned down to kiss Jared, changing the angle of Jared’s fingers so that Jensen hissed a little in approval. “More,” he said and his mouth was soft against Jared’s, split tongue darting in and tangling with Jared’s.
Jared pulled back. “Already?” he asked and Jensen grinned.
“Almost died,” Jensen reminded him. “It sort of changes priorities, you know?” Jensen wriggled his ass to get Jared moving again. “Now, how about you get back to what you were doing, hmm?”
Jared pulled his fingers out and Jensen gave a whine of protest. “I’m not doing this on the floor of the bathroom, no matter how eager Seelie is to help me out,” he said and rolled over so that he could clamber to his feet. He held out a hand to Jensen. “Let’s take this to the bed, shall we?”
Jensen scrambled up and grabbed Jared’s hand. “That sounds like a plan,” he agreed and towed Jared to the bed.
Jensen pushed Jared down and followed him to the soft downy bed. They kissed for a bit, enjoying the taste of each other, reaffirming texture and touch.
Jared felt Jensen’s mouth around his cock, hot wet suction that made him arch up and cry out. That fucking forked tongue found the slit and dipped delicately in, licking up salt and slick until Jared thought he was going to go crazy.
“Enough!” he growled and tugged Jensen up towards him, kissed him hard and tasted himself on Jensen’s tongue.
He rolled them over so that Jensen was trapped beneath him. Violet eyes sparkled up at him and Jensen’s mouth was red and swollen. “I wondered how long it would take,” Jensen said and the almost smug tone made Jared go a little wild.
Before he was aware of it, he’d pushed into Jensen, sliding into him as though his cock had been created specifically to fill this opening in Jensen’s body. He dropped his head forward, his face pressed into Jensen’s throat as he felt Jensen around him, holding him inside his body and arms wrapped around his shoulders.
“Sorry, sorry,” he gasped against Jensen’s skin, feeling Jensen tense around him.
“It’s okay,” Jensen assured him and swiveled his hips a bit, changing the angle and sucking in a breath. “That’s just perfect.”
Jared gulped in air as he felt Jensen contract around him. He was surrounded by Jensen - his scent, his body, his breath. It felt like finally finding that one piece that had been missing. A piece that he hadn’t been aware had been missing until just this precise moment.
“Jensen,” he lifted his head and stared into Jensen’s eyes. And then he was falling, falling into an ocean of purple and starlight and his body no longer was his own.
He woke up to someone clearing their throat. He cracked one eye open and saw Danneel standing at the foot of the bed with a grin on her face.
“Not that I’m not appreciating the view, but maybe you could do something about all that…” she waved a hand, “nakedness?”
Jared felt his cheeks heat up and he scrabbled at the sheets, pulling them up over himself and Jensen.
“You came into the bedroom without knocking,” Jensen said into his pillow. “What you see is your own fault.”
Danni laughed. “Why do you think I did it?” she asked.
Jared glared at her but it had absolutely no effect.
Jensen rolled over and sat up with a groan. Jared blushed even harder. It still felt unreal to be in bed with this man. Fae. He sighed and Jensen kissed his shoulder. “Morning,” he said.
Jared smiled at him. “Morning,” he replied, and despite his most likely rank morning breath, he kissed Jensen’s sleep swollen mouth.
“I don’t mean to interrupt what is sure to be a wonderful show, but the Queen has requested to see you in her chambers,” Danni said with a smirk.
“Fuck off,” Jensen said but he grinned as he said it. “You’re such a perv.”
Danni waggled her eyebrows. “You know it, baby,” she agreed and sauntered out of the room.
“She’s evil,” Jared noted.
“My own personal devil on my shoulder,” Jensen nodded and headed for the bathroom. “We’d better go and see what my aunt wants.”
The rain-cloud shower was back and Jared managed to get himself clean with a minimum of groping by Jensen.
Jensen took Jared’s hand as they headed to the Queen’s rooms. Jared wasn’t used to guys being so openly affectionate. He liked the sense of possession and belonging it gave him.
“The Fae like to touch,” he noted.
Jensen nodded. “We try to be a little more careful around you humans,” he said. “But yeah, we like physical contact.”
Jared squeezed his fingers. “I like it,” he assured him. “I’m sort of a handsy guy myself.”
“Well, then I’d say we’re pretty well matched,” Jensen said and added, “Soul-bond aside, of course.”
Jared snorted and they entered Queen Samantha’s chambers a moment later. The atmosphere was somber and Jensen dropped Jared’s hand when he saw his aunt’s face.
“What happened?” he asked, rushing forward and grabbing her outstretched hand. “What’s wrong?”
Her sigh was heavy as she replied, “We’ve finished interrogating Corin and the news is not good.”
Just then, Jared noticed JD standing off to one side, watching them. “What are you doing here?” he asked and then flushed when JD raised an eyebrow. “Sir,” he amended.
“The Queen asked me to come by,” he said and she waved him forward. “It seems that we may have a bit of a problem.”
“What do you mean?” Jensen asked and Jared moved quickly to his side, standing next to him with a hand on Jensen’s shoulder as silent show of support.
“Corin confessed that several of the Unseelie managed to get through the hole between our worlds before you got there to stop them.” The Queen looked angry, sad and a little helpless.
“Do we know who?” Jensen asked.
She nodded. “Genevieve, Rick and several of the Rach as well as some of the,” she hesitated, “undesirables.”
“Undesirables?” Jared looked at Jensen who’d gone so pale that the freckles on his skin stood out in sharp contrast.
“The nightmares that we prefer to admit don’t exist,” Queen Samantha said and she bit her lip. “I don’t understand how Mark could have done this.”
“He wanted a kingdom of his own,” Jensen said, sounding slightly bitter. “A throne over an empty realm is no throne at all.”
The Queen’s eyes flashed. “Are you saying that this is my fault?” she demanded and rose to her feet.
Jensen stood his ground. “I’ve warned you that this was coming,” he said. “I told you that Mark wouldn’t be content with his lot forever.”
Jim stepped between them. “We didn’t know that it would come to this,” he placated and Jensen made a scoffing noise.
“I said to kill him or give him a place of his own, not an empty title,” Jensen shook Jared’s hand off and faced his Queen. “I told you that he would try something.”
“He is my family!” Queen Samantha stepped closer so that she was almost chest to breast with Jensen.
“Was,” Jared pointed out and instantly regretted it when her gaze flashed to his.
“Best you remain silent, bonded of my heir,” she warned. “I have not forgotten that you killed my kin.”
“Because he tried to kill Jensen!” Jared said and almost backed away from her angry face.
“That is the only reason you are still alive,” she told him. “But I wish to hear nothing more from you.”
“He has every right to defend me,” Jensen said. “He’s the reason Unseelie has not overrun the human realm.”
JD moved up next to Jared. “Instead of wringing our hands and wailing at the situation, how about we make a plan to fix it?” he asked.
His blunt suggestion seemed to deflate the furious monarch. “I don’t…” she went back to her seat, helped carefully by Jim.
“Why don’t Jen and I take care of whatever crossed over?” Jared suggested. “I mean, I’ve got my abilities and Jensen knows who the bad guys are so it makes sense.” He looked over at Jensen who was already nodding.
“I have my guard, we’re already known to the humans, it would be the best way to handle it.” Jensen smiled at Jared. “You’re not just a pretty face then?”
Jared flipped him off with a small smile.
“But we don’t know where they are,” JD said.
Jensen shrugged. “Kane is pretty handy with location charms and the Unseelie aren’t exactly subtle.” He looked at the Queen. “They will not blend in,” he explained.
She nodded. “That does make sense,” she admitted. She glanced at JD. “Your government would allow a hunter to search them out?”
“I’m guessing they’d rather we go looking for your escaped crazies than wait for them to do any damage.” Jared flinched at the Queen’s glare at his words.
“They are still my people,” she said. “Even more so now that their king is dead.”
Jensen squared his shoulders. “We should leave then. Begin the hunt.”
JD held up a hand. “Not so fast,” he cautioned. “I still have to break the news to the President.”
Jared flinched again.
JD turned his gaze on Jared. “I’m thinking you should come with me to explain whatever the fuck is going on between you and the heir to the throne of Seelie.”
Jared took a step back. “Uh, I think I’d rather explain how the moon is actually made from green cheese,” he said. His parents had been okay with him being gay. They had been unhappy but had accepted his decision to work for the NHA. Telling them that he’d managed to get himself hitched to the heir to the throne of Seelie…well, that wasn’t a conversation he was keen on having anytime soon.
“I’ll come with you,” Jensen offered and Jared couldn’t stop himself from smiling at him. “We’re in this together, you know?”
Jared bumped his shoulder. “I know,” he said.
“As Jensen is to be the hunter then it would be best that he accompany you anyway,” Queen Samantha said, looking between them. “I will arrange transport and weapons so that you can be on your way.”
Misha held up a hand. “We have a tour?” he asked.
Jensen looked at Jared. “I forgot all about that,” he admitted.
“Seriously?” Jared stared at Misha and Jensen. “The Unseelie are going to wreak havoc on earth and you’re worried about your tour?”
JD was already shaking his head. “We’re going to have to cancel it,” he insisted.
“Hell no!” Kane exploded. “We’ve worked fucking hard to get as far as we have. No fucking way!”
“Kane!” Queen Samantha’s voice was sharp. “Control yourself!”
Kane’s mouth went tight and he allowed Steve to pull him back. Danni was also looking a little upset.
“We could combine the tour with the hunt?” Jared suggested. “Keep a lookout for any of the Unseelie and then set up a gig wherever they are?”
JD tapped a finger against his chin. “That could work,” he admitted and looked to the Queen for confirmation.
“We have the carriage, the pegasii,” Jensen said. “We could always go hunting before or after the show. They move quickly.”
“I cannot allow the pegasii to spend too much time out of Seelie,” Queen Samantha sounded rueful. “They do not flourish in the world of men.”
“We shall come with you, Jared of Padalecki” Agamemnon’s deep voice sounded in Jared’s head and he started visibly enough that everyone looked at him.
“What is it?” Jensen asked, watching him closely.
“The Rokh,” Jared said, lifting a hand to his temple. “Agamemnon says that they’ll come with us.” He looked at them and they were all staring at him in shock, apart from JD who was utterly clueless.
“The Rokh wish to leave Seelie?” Queen Samantha came towards him quickly. “You are sure of this?”
“Tell the Queen that we are pledged to you and to the Prince” Agamemnon said. “From now, our fate is tied to yours”
Jared gulped. “Whoa,” he looked to Jensen. “He said that they’re loyal to you and me now and that we’re kind of stuck with them.”
Agamemnon snorted a chuckle in his mind. “Impudent!”
Queen Samantha put a hand on Jared’s arm. “Agamemnon is talking with you right now?” She sounded disbelieving.
Jared nodded, confused. “Yeah, he and Mordecai talked to me a lot while we were trying to stop Mark.” He frowned. “Don’t they talk to everyone?”
The Queen shook her head. “Only to the ruler of Seelie and their heir.” She arched an eyebrow at Jensen. “Was there something that you neglected to tell me, nephew?”
Jensen flushed a little and hunched his shoulders. “Yeah, about that,” he said and just then, the huge bird that Jensen had greeted on their race back to the Citadel, came flying into the room.
Pandemonium ensued for a few minutes as Danni squeaked and ducked behind Kane and Steve. Alona’s huge wingspan made the room seem tiny and Jared and Jensen both dropped to the floor. Queen Samantha, Jim and JD took cover behind her throne, eyes wide.
When Jared looked up, Alona was perched on Misha’s shoulder, tipping him slightly over at her weight.
“Well, this is unexpected,” Misha said.
Jared snorted a laugh and met Jensen’s bright gaze. “This place is fucking insane!” he said.
Queen Samantha appeared a little flustered as she was helped to her feet by Jim and JD. “Alona,” she greeted. “This is most unusual. The Soron have not graced my home with their presence in many years.”
Jared saw the great bird’s eyes turn to him and she gave a short, sweet burst of sound that felt like a punch to Jared’s heart. “Hi,” he managed to wave at her and he could have sword that she was laughing at him.
“Yeah,” Jensen stepped forward and looked apologetically at his aunt. “About Alona.”
Queen Samantha held up a hand. “Thank you, Jensen, I am perfectly aware of what this all means now. It would have been appreciated if you had advised me of the blessing of the Soron before now.” She sounded pissed off.
Alona vanished in a fall of feathers and when Jared blinked, there was a lovely blond woman standing next to Misha. He recognized her from when he’d first arrived here in Seelie. It felt like decades ago.
“My Queen,” she bowed and Jared tried to ignore the fact that she was naked. Misha shrugged off his coat and handed it to her. She took it with a smile. “I apologize for my unorthodox entrance, but I wanted to get here as quickly as I could.”
The Queen sighed. “The Soron have pledged allegiance to Jensen and Jared?” she asked.
“We have, my Queen,” Alona smiled at Jared. “Jensen’s soul-bonded is most suitable. Seelie approves of him and so do we.”
“As have the Rokh” Agamemnon added and it was obvious that this time he was speaking in all of their minds.
“Well,” Queen Samantha’s face was a little strained. “Does this mean that Seelie wishes for them to take the throne immediately.”
Jared suddenly understood what was happening and he blurted, “No fucking way!” And then flushed when Jensen frowned at him. “I mean,” he stammered and then shut up at Jensen’s hand on his arm. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
The Queen appeared a little happier at his outburst but she kept her gaze on Alona.
“Seelie and her people wish nothing to change yet, my Queen,” Alona’s face was kind. “We are very happy with our Queen.” She looked over at Jared. “The Prince and his bonded have work to do in bringing the Unseelie who have escaped to justice.”
The Queen nodded and Jared felt his shoulders droop with sudden relief. “Jensen has not had much training yet,” she added. “I assumed that I had much time still to prepare him for his duties before he took the throne.”
Alona shook her head. “Jensen and Jared have many years to grow as strong and as wise as you, my Queen.” Her eyes twinkled. “They are very young, after all.”
“Hey, not so much with the young,” Jensen protested.
“How old are you?” Jared asked, realizing that he’d actually never asked this before.
Jensen’s face went blank. “What?” he asked after a moment.
Jared repeated his question and the pause was even longer this time. “Jen?” Jared was starting to get a little worried.
“Fommmmgggh,” Jensen said behind his hand. Jared stared at him and Jensen sighed. “I’m four hundred and three,” he said and it sounded almost challenging.
“Four hundred…” Jared knew that his mouth was hanging open. “You’re four hundred years old?” Only dolphins could hear his squeak.
“But a babe,” Queen Samantha said with a wave of her hand. “The Fae live thousands of years.”
“Thousands…” Jared sputtered and his brain to mouth filter was obviously not working all that well because he said, “Holy shit, you’re ancient!”
Jensen’s eyes narrowed and Jared took a step back. “Ancient?” he purred and it made the hair stand up on Jared’s neck. “I’m ancient?”
“Um,” Jared hedged and the Queen thankfully interjected.
“You will grow old with Jensen now, Jared,” she told him.
He stared at her, uncomprehending. “What?”
“I’m sure I mentioned this,” she frowned. “As long as Jensen is alive then you will live. But, if you die, then Jensen dies. And vice versa. It is how the soul-bond works.”
Jared looked over at Jensen who still seemed slightly pissed off. He’d have to do some groveling later, he thought. He was looking forward to it. “So basically, we can’t live without each other now?”
The Queen nodded. “It can be most inconvenient, but we’ve had so few soul-bonds formed in the past several centuries that we cannot be unhappy about it.” She gestured at Kane and Steve. “The last one was formed about a hundred years ago and nothing since.”
“But what’s so special about it?” Jared was wondering why he hadn’t asked these questions before. Then he realized that getting Jensen into bed and being able to put his hands all over him had more or less fried his brain.
He thought that maybe he should focus a little more on the things going on around him and less on thinking about Jensen. That wasn’t likely to happen. It had been two years and Jensen was still the first person he thought about in the morning. It made a weird sort of sense now.
“The soul-bond is the most profound of joinings,” the Queen glanced over at Jim. “It is for life and ends only in death and limits those involved with what they can do without each other.”
Jim motioned to Steve and Kane. “It’s why they can’t be separated for longer than a couple of days.”
Jared looked at Kane. “So that’s where you go every few days,” he observed. He waggled his eyebrows.
Kane nodded, eyes narrowed, and Jared lost the eyebrow waggle. “Our bond is a hundred years old but it still fucking hurts when Steve’s not around.” He nudged Steve. “He tries to come to your world every so often but it doesn’t agree with him.”
Steve snorted. “Your air is poor, your food tasteless and your alcohol is like piss.” He wasn’t the most vocal of Fae but what he said usually had impact.
“Steve!” Jim remonstrated. “Remember that we now have a human among us. Jared will need to get accustomed to our ways before we make him want to kill every one of us.”
Kane laughed. “If Jensen didn’t manage to turn Jared off the Fae completely with all the shit he's pulled, then we’re fine.”
Jared saw that Jensen was determinedly not looking at him. “You behaved like an asshole to me on purpose?” he demanded.
Jensen hunched his shoulders a little. “I felt that I needed to keep you at arm’s length,” he explained.
“You were a complete dickhead!” Jared reminded him.
Color rose on Jensen’s cheeks. “I’m the heir to the throne of Seelie,” he told Jared. “I was having a bit of a problem not jumping your bones and couldn’t understand why.”
“Jen had a lot of cold showers, jerking off and crying about how hot you were,” Kane offered and dodged Jensen’s flailing fist.
“Bastard,” Jensen told him without too much heat and Kane flipped him off.
“It made for entertaining conversations,” Misha noted. “I did offer to assist Jensen with any needs he might want fulfilled.”
Jared was growling before Misha had even finished his sentence. “Over my fucking dead body,” he assured Misha, barely aware of his arm dropping over Jensen’s shoulder and tugging him close.
“I said offered,” Misha replied mildly. “Jensen never actually accepted my proposition.”
“Would’ve been like fucking my brother,” Jensen said with a little shiver. “Not cool, man.”
Jared wasn’t quite sure how he should be reacting to this conversation, but the caveman feelings weren’t ones he was accustomed to. “Nobody touches Jensen,” he insisted.
Jensen rolled his eyes. “Oh, for fuck’s sake,” he said, shoving at Jared. “You can’t put a moratorium on touching me.”
“Watch me,” Jared snarled and hauled him back against him. Jensen’s eyes were practically rolling out of his head but the side of his mouth was tilted in a slight curve.
“This is all very interesting, boys,” the Queen sounded like she was about to burst out laughing. “But could we perhaps get back to the discussion at hand?”
They all flushed and went silent.
“Oh my god,” JD was staring at them. “It's like a fucking three-ring circus here!”
Queen Samantha shrugged. “The Fae are not a folk to hold things back. We speak openly when we feel strongly about something,” she said and nodded at Jared with approval. “Jared will fit in well.”
JD threw himself into a chair and looked at Jared. “What the fuck are we going to tell your father?” he asked.
Shit. Jared had forgotten about that.
“Well, technically, you're his advisor,” Jared began.
“Oh no you don't!” JD pointed at him. “You will be coming with me to face the music, Padalecki!”
“You realize that means that I have to come as well?” Jensen asked. “The soul-bond is still too new for us to be separated for any time.” JD went a little pale. President Padalecki was not a fan of Jensen or his band or the fact that his son was their human babysitter.
“Yeah, can we maybe talk about that?” JD asked. “I think you should probably stay out of range of a nuclear weapon until he gets used to the idea that his baby boy has been imprinted on by the poster child for Fae Gone Wild.”
Jared snorted a laugh. “Jensen has worked really hard to develop the reputation of being a badass.” He looked at Jensen. “My dad thinks you’re a bad influence.”
Jensen glared at him. “You’re a big boy,” he muttered. “Your father needs to understand that some things don’t always go as planned.”
The Queen raised an eyebrow. “This will be a problem?” she asked JD.
JD sighed. “Probably a little bit, initially, until the President settles into the fact that Jared’s found his perfect match.” The last bit was said with so much sarcasm that Jared could practically see it.
“My dad will be okay,” Jared said, sounding a lot more certain than he actually felt. “Eventually,” he added, casting an apologetic glance at Jensen who shrugged.
“So, the first bit of business will be to tell President Padalecki of the Unseelie and their escape into the human realm,” the Queen ticked off. “Then explain that Jensen will be responsible for bringing them to justice.”
JD nodded. “Bad news, good news scenario. I like it.”
“Perhaps slip in the soul-bonding after that,” the Queen suggested. “It may be the lesser piece of news.”
JD’s laugh was sardonic. “Sure, that’s going to be the bit he doesn’t pay attention to.”
Jared felt Jensen’s fingers wrap around his. “I’m not going to hide Jensen like a dirty little secret,” he said.
“I wouldn’t let you,” Jensen said and Jared grinned.
“So, we break everything at once and hope that the Unseelie invasion is the lesser of all evils?” JD asked skeptically.
When he put it that way…
“Yes,” Jared said and just prayed that his father had no access to a weapon when he told him about Jensen.
“It isn’t exactly an invasion,” the Queen said. “There are perhaps ten Unseelie in the mortal realm at most.”
That was way less than Jared had expected. “Only ten?” he looked at JD. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”
Kane shook his head. “Dude, you have no idea of what these freaks are capable of.”
“Kane!” Queen Samantha’s face was hard. “I will not remind you again that the Unseelie are family and are my subjects as well.”
Kane’s expression remained defiant. “They won’t hesitate to kill us,” he said.
“Your orders are to detain and not to kill,” the Queen said.
“I’m not going to just let them attack me and not do anything about it,” Jensen protested.
“Yeah, no touching isn’t really practical, your Majesty,” Jared added.
Her gaze whipped to his. “You have no say in this!” she said.
“Actually,” Alona’s quiet voice made them all look at her. “That’s not quite true now, your Majesty.” She sounded almost apologetic.
Queen Samantha looked at her and Jared had a moment’s worry for Alona’s safety. “You wish to challenge me?” she asked.
Alona shook her head, face very pale. “Not at all,” she said. “But the heir to Seelie has more authority than you do in this.”
“Truth” Agamemnon’s deep rumble echoed through their minds. “Jensen has the Hunter’s mark and is authorized to act on behalf of all of Seelie where danger presents itself” He sounded very sure. “In this he has superior power to the Queen.” He paused. “Seelie has granted Jared the powers of a mage so he is a fitting consort to the prince”
Jared watched as the Queen’s mouth worked silently, trying to contain her obvious frustration.
Jensen stepped forward and touched her arm. “I will do what I can to avoid killing them,” he promised. “But I cannot allow them to remain in the human world.”
She started at him and Jared could see the depth of sadness in her eyes. “Do what you must,” she said eventually, shoulders drooping.
Jensen bowed his head. “My Queen,” he said and he grabbed Jared’s hand. “Let’s go.”
Misha, Kane, Steve and Danneel followed them from the Queen’s chambers and hurried outside. Five of the Rokh were waiting for them, Agamemnon and Mordecai among them.
“It’s better that we leave now,” Jensen explained as he placed a hand on Agamemnon’s broad flank. “She’s not going to be calm about this for too long.”
JD and Alona came out of the Citadel just then. “Go!” Alona urged. “She already wants to give Jensen more orders.”
Jensen swung himself up onto Agamemnon’s back and held out a hand to Jared. “Coming?” he asked.
Jared watched as Steve and Kane clambered onto Mordecai’s back. JD, Misha and Danni climbed onto the other three Rokh. Alona vanished in a swirl of feathers and her bird form made lazy circles higher and higher into the sky.
“Jared?” Jensen’s voice brought Jared’s gaze back to him.
“Yeah,” he said and took Jensen’s hand, pulling himself up behind him. “Let’s go hunt some monsters.”