Jensen poured milk into his mug and watched the white liquid sink into the scalding coffee. He tried not to see it as a reflection of his life. He had put so much of himself into his job, into making a positive difference in the world, but it was too big, too dark, and had swallowed him up.
"Ackles!" Danneel waved to him from the counter, before she looked down to punch in the numbers for her debit card. Jensen wondered how long it had taken her to get his attention in the crowded coffee shop. She stopped by his table on her way out, and took a sip from her travel mug, but didn’t sit down.
"Finally!" Danneel said. "About time you get that lazy ass to work." She smiled and Jensen felt a matching smile on his face, almost like old times, except hers held a crinkle of concern and he suspected she saw right through his
"You're early," Jensen said.
"Chief wants to talk to me before my patrol. Speaking of," she said, "I’m off." She paused with the door open, letting in the cold. "And Jensen," she added, "I'm glad you're back. Missed you." She gave him a sad, sympathetic smile before she stepped out into the rain.
"Yeah," Jensen said to the closing door, but his throat closed up on the words before he could add that he missed her too. He hadn’t spoken to her, or anyone from the force, in nearly a month. He hadn’t returned phone calls, hadn’t read emails. He’d spent most of his administrative leave visiting—visiting, not hiding, no matter what Jared thought— with his family. Then he just hadn't told anyone when he came back. Jared knew, but only because he had a spare key and had stopped by on his way to or from the college campus to collect the mail and feed Jensen’s fish.
A small gust of wind sent rain to patter on the window. The rain had washed out all the colors on the street, leaving everything grey: grey sky over grey pavement, where dirty grey cars honked at each other.
"Is everything okay with your drink, sir?"
Jensen looked up at the barista standing next to his table and wondered what he had done to make her seem so concerned.
"Yeah, it's . . . " he looked down at his full cup of now-cold coffee, "great."
The small café that had been so crowded when he'd first come in now only had a couple of people in it. The woman who'd approached him shrugged to her co-worker and continued wiping down the tables, taking advantage of the lull.
Jensen sighed and looked out the window again. It wouldn’t do to be late on his first day back. He pushed aside his coffee—he'd bought it more out of habit than any particular desire—and was about to get up when he caught sight of Jared.
With his bright blue umbrella and brilliant red scarf, Jared stood out—the only bit of color on the washed-out street. Jared spotted him and grinned wide, smiling with his whole body and making it impossible not to share in his excitement. Jensen wondered what Jared was so excited about today. He didn't have to wait long.
"Jensen! Did you hear?" Jared said, as he burst in through the door. "They found it!" Jensen supposed his utter lack of comprehension must have been fairly obvious. "The gravitational wave!" Jared continued with a bounce. "Oh my God, Jensen! This could completely change the direction of . . ." Jared gave a little shake of his head, carelessly dripping water all around, and Jensen reflexively closed his eyes as he was hit by several droplets.
Jared's eyes danced as he spoke, and his entire body animated the words. Nothing about Jared was grey. Jared was a scarf man, and he preferred them bright and colorful. Today's was blood red and Jared absently played with it as he spoke. It framed his face, emphasizing the pink of his lips and the contrasting white of his teeth every time he flashed his smile.
Jared's excitement was the only bright point these days, the only thing that reminded Jensen that the world wasn't entirely made of up drug dealers and gangbangers. In the last few weeks, since his world went to hell, Jensen clung to these glimpses of life through Jared like a lifeline.
Jensen realized that Jared had continued talking and that he'd missed it, too busy watching the way Jared’s mouth moved and how the water dripped off Jared’s hair. It wasn’t the first time that Jensen had been distracted by his best friend, and it wouldn’t be the last. They might have decided to remain friends after their ill-advised one-night affair, but even after all these years Jensen had never been able to forget it.
". . . and can't wait to get to the grad lounge and see what everyone . . ."
Jensen had really no idea what Jared was talking about. Jared's interests didn't intersect his that much, but it had never stopped their friendship.
"Oh, is this that big thing in Europe that smashes atoms together?" Jensen asked, and he was rather proud of himself for remembering that tidbit of a past conversation. Jared had gone on about how important that was for an interminable length. Jensen hadn’t really seen the big deal, but knew Jared would be scandalized had he said so.
"No, no! LIGO's right here! They’ve been searching for decades and now they've . . ." Jared started talking about the universe, waves and space-time, but Jensen lost track of things after about five words. When he got excited, Jared forgot that Jensen couldn't parse the jargon. A few times Jared had patiently explained his current research, but Jensen still had no idea what it was about.
" . . . and maybe see you sometime this weekend?"
It was the break in the flow of words that made Jensen blink and realize that Jared was waiting for a response.
"Sure," Jensen said, and was rewarded by Jared's million-watt smile again. Then the smile dimmed as Jared took a good look at him.
"You okay?" he asked. "First day back, I take it." Jared nodded at Jensen's policeman's uniform.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Jensen lied. "Even the shrink said so. Got it in writing and everything." Jensen had gotten pretty good at lying and deflecting these days. He was fine, he’d assured the department-ordered counsellor, his superiors, his family. Usually it was harder to fool Jared, but Jared's preoccupation first with his dissertation and now with whatever big thing had happened made it possible to slip the lie past.
"Okay," Jared said, with only the slightest hesitation. "So I'll call you later?"
"Sure," Jensen said, and he watched Jared leave, the red scarf eventually disappearing into the grey. With a decisive nod to himself, Jensen stood up and settled his peaked uniform cap on his head as he left the café. His untouched coffee still sat on the table as he stepped into the rain.
When Jensen walked into the police department’s main staff area, the silence that descended brought him up short. He searched for a friendly face, and while he saw many hostile glares and a few turned heads as some became tactfully preoccupied with work, not one person approached him. Jensen swallowed to control the nausea that threatened and proceeded to walk towards his locker. His was the only movement, and his footsteps sounded clearly in the silence. As soon as the locker room door closed behind him, he heard the buzz of hushed conversation start up again. Well-liked at the police academy and a football hero in high school, Jensen had never before felt like a social pariah.
"Can't believe you're even showing your face in here, Ackles." Omundson slammed his locker door to punctuate his statement and he spun around, brushing Jensen with his shoulder as he passed, hard enough that Jensen threw a hand forward to prevent his face slamming into his locker.
"How could you turn on him like that?" Rhodes' words were quieter but no less damning as she walked past him, following Omundson. "He was your partner."
From behind a row of lockers further back Jensen heard a snippet of another conversation, a different accusation. "How could he not know? Years. They must've been dirty for years. And he claims he knew nothing? No. The whole think stinks."
Jensen stared into his locker. Screaming that he'd had no other choice and that he hadn't known wouldn't do any good. Jensen had repeated it easily a couple dozen times in the days after the incident. Everyone here had heard the story, likely circulated with embellishments during his mandatory administrative leave, and they'd decided what he should have done instead. Jensen wondered if they knew how many hundreds of alternative scenarios he replayed every night.
When Jensen left his locker and began walking the gauntlet of stares towards his desk, Chief Beaver waved him over. "Ackles? A moment."
"Chief?" Jensen asked, and he stepped into the office. Jensen still felt the knife-sharp glances stabbing him and was relieved to be able to shut the Chief's door on them all.
Beaver sighed and sat down heavily, motioning for Jensen to do the same. "How you holding up?"
"I'm good, Chief."
"Sure you are." Beaver studied him a moment before continuing. "Not going to sugar-coat it. You're going to get a lot of crap. It will blow over. Eventually. Best thing to do is get back out there. So I've assigned you a new partner." He lifted his hand and waved someone over.
"Harris?" Jensen said in surprise, looking to Beaver for confirmation.
"Hey, Ackles," Danneel smiled at him and sat down. And Jensen had to swallow again at the unexpected normalcy of it.
"But you and Qualls . . ." Jensen began.
Danneel shook her head. "DJ applied for a transfer a while ago, to be closer to his wife's family, and it finally came through. He left last week. I thought I'd be getting some kid out of the academy, so this is a definite improvement."
"Is it?" Jensen muttered, but it was low enough that he didn't think the others had heard him.
"So," Beaver continued. "You'll take over as Danneel's temporary partner. Keep her usual patrol. See how it goes and later I’ll decide if it’s permanent."
A knot in Jensen's shoulders eased; he wouldn't be patrolling his and Jeffrey’s old route. There were too many memories along that route, good memories now tainted.
The chief didn't miss much. "Harris, I just need another moment with Ackles, then he’s all yours. Be nice." When Danneel left, Beaver steepled his hands and looked straight at Jensen. "Ackles—Jensen, I knew Morgan a helluva long time. And he was a good man, but . . . he took short cuts. I didn't expect anything like that, but that's on me. He sure as hell would have tried his damnedest to keep you out of it. Not," he hurried to say, looking hard at Jensen when Jensen ventured to speak, "that he didn't trust you. But . . . hell, kid, he thought of you like a son or kid brother, and he damn well knew what he was doing was wrong. I'm sorry it happened, Ackles, and you'll take it in the teeth for a while, but you were cleared in the investigation, by all parties. Don't forget that." He cleared his throat and gave Jensen a small nod of sympathy before turning to a stack of papers on his desk. "Okay, get out of here."
"You drive or I drive?" Danneel asked as they walked towards the gated parking, where a row of squad cars waited. Jensen thought it was generous of her, seeing as Jeffrey almost always insisted on driving, claiming seniority.
"Doesn't matter, really," Jensen said. "Whatever you—"
He stopped so abruptly that Danneel's hand dropped to her holster. In his periphery, Jensen saw her scan the yard before she relaxed, but his attention was taken by the cruiser in front of him. His and Jeff's. He wondered who had it now.
A year ago, before Jeff had begun acting strangely, holding things back and making Jensen suspicious, they had sat in this squad car, waiting for a suspected gun trafficker, and Jeff had been giving him life advice.
"Kid," Jeff had said, "we need to get you a girl. Or a guy. Whichever. But you've got to have something other than the job." Then he'd taken a healthy bite of his burger.
Jensen had laughed. "This, coming from you! Priceless. How many divorces has it been?" Jeff had nodded, accepting the dig, but then turned serious again.
"I should know then. And at least I'm trying. Jensen, you need something more. How are things with Jared?"
"Yeah, you know: tall, muscle-y, uses way too many big words—the one you never stop talking about."
"I can't believe we're having this conversation," Jensen had muttered. "We're just friends." Jeff had given him a sly, knowing smile and Jensen had added, "I mean, there was that one time . . . but it was a mistake. We both had other people . . . anyway, we're better off as friends."
"He's seeing someone now? I know you aren't. A friggin' monk."
"No, he isn't. But he's not interested in—" Jensen had stopped as his phone rang. "Hey Jared," he'd said, and flipped off Jeff who had snickered into his burger. "What? Yeah, sure. I'll grab some on my way home. And bread? Okay. Bye."
"What did the missus want?" Jeff had asked.
"Oh, fuck off."
"So he's free, and you're free . . . and you're interested, and you act like an old married couple," Jensen had opened his mouth to object, but hadn't thought of anything to say. "Hell, you spend as much time with him as I did with my wife."
"And now you're divorced. I don't want that with Jared, he's. . ." too important, Jensen had wanted to say. One look at Jeff's face had shown that he'd understood the unspoken words.
"Mmmhmm," Jeffrey had said. "I think—Shit! There's our guy. Three o'clock, by the fountain. Call it in."
Jensen blinked and turned away from his old cruiser.
Danneel called to him again. "Jensen? We're in this one." She stood a few cars away, waiting for him.
"Yeah, okay," he said, shaking it off. "Hey, why don't you drive?"
At noon they stopped to grab takeout and sat in companionable silence as they ate. The patrol had been routine and uneventful so far. Danneel had caught him up on all the goings-on at the precinct and, after he ineptly deflected a question about Jeffrey, she steered clear of anything involving his former partner. She and Qualls had often backed up him and Jeffrey, and vice versa, but Jensen had never before fully appreciated her tact.
They'd parked the squad car on the edge of another lot that had been torn up for repaving. With all the rain of the last couple days, the site had been rained out, so that section of the lot was mostly empty but for some of the larger machines. The rain had turned most of the lot into mud, and loose dirt and mud was eroded away in a winding stream towards the gutter. Jensen stopped eating.
Blood pooled and washed away. A steady stream of crimson, until there was none.
"You okay?" Danneel asked, and Jensen looked sideways at her, as she stared in concern. "You look kind of pale."
"I'm fine." He couldn't keep the annoyance out. "Everyone keeps asking me that."
"Well, you were about a million miles away. Did . . ." She paused before continuing. "Did you talk to the department's shrink?"
"Yeah, I'm fine." Jensen repeated.
"'Cause no one would blame you if you needed more time off."
"Danni, time alone to think about it . . . that's the last thing I need."
"Okay. You got plans this weekend?"
"Yeah. Doing something with Jared." Jensen frowned as he tried to remember what exactly he and Jared were supposed to be doing.
"Oh good. He's that tall guy who comes by sometimes, the genius or something?"
Jensen nodded with a smile. "Astrophysicist."
"Shit. And with a body like that, too." Danneel was impressed. Jensen could understand that: Jared was impressive. And Jared hated when people dismissed him just because he took care of his body and could bench press a small car. "You guys been friends a long time?"
"About eight years," Jensen said. "After my first month on the job, Jeff took me out to celebrate. Jared was still an undergrad."
"Fine then, pretty boy" Jeff said, slapping Jensen's back. "Next one through the door." Jeff slung his arm over Jensen's shoulders and Jensen laughed and turned his head away at the potent smell of alcohol on Jeff's breath. Drunk, Jeff was easily the most handsy straight person Jensen had ever met, and he practically draped himself over whoever sat next to him. His wide smile never faded and his boisterous laugh made everyone nearby smile.
"I'm already seeing someone," Jensen protested, but Jeff gave a dismissive wave.
"Just a phone number. Not saying you have to sleep with her. Come on, show me how it's done. First one to walk through that door."
Jeff leaned into Jensen as he began to have trouble sitting upright and Jensen signaled to the bartender that Jeff was cut off. Jeff suddenly roared with laughter and Jensen turned to see the Adonis who had walked in, the first among a group of friends. The man casually surveyed the bar, and then snapped his eyes back to Jensen. And for a moment, everything, everyone, else faded into the background.
"Aw man, too bad—" Jeff began, but he snapped his mouth shut on whatever else he was going to say. Jensen tore his eyes away from the tall man to meet Jeff's narrowed gaze. He looked from Jensen to the guy who was now walking towards a bench. Then Jeff's face relaxed into his habitual grin, and he looked like the cat with a canary.
"So that's how it is," Jeff said, nodding with a smug, satisfied grin.
Jensen opened his mouth to refute whatever conclusion his patrol partner had reached. He hadn't planned to out himself at work yet, not until he had been there a bit longer and gotten a better feel for the office politics involved. So far, he and Jeff seemed to be hitting it off, and this could tank his career.
He needn't have worried.
"We're good, Rookie," Jeff had said, giving Jensen another slap on the back. "More for me. But you still gotta get that guy's number. Bet's a bet. Money's on the table, get a move on. Oh, and if he takes a swing at you, I got your back."
Jensen's reasonably good day ended the moment Jensen and Danneel signed the car keys back in. The comments and pointed silences had started up again now that he and Danneel returned to the station. They each still had their old desks, and probably wouldn't move until their partnership was made permanent. While most people held off when Danneel was around, Jensen alone apparently was a fair target.
As Jensen finished the last of the day's paperwork, Chief Beaver came by his desk.
"All go well with Harris?" he asked Jensen.
"Yes, sir," Jensen said. Beaver nodded. "She says the same. Good. See you tomorrow then."
Jensen ignored the unfriendly glances as he left his locker, but it was harder to let slide the insults and comments. He had discounted how stressful it would be to be back. By the time he stepped out into the drizzle, it felt like the longest day he'd ever had, and he couldn't wait to get home and crash.
Four hours later, Jensen woke with a start and looked around in confusion, unsure of where he was at first. His heart raced with the remnants of a nightmare. Only it wasn't. Not really. He lay on his worn leather sofa—his first "grown –up" purchase with his paycheck from the police department. It was cracked now in places from where he'd had it in front of a sunny window before realizing the damage the sun could cause. Cracked, worn, dented. His stomach rumbled and he looked across his small bachelor apartment towards his tiny galley kitchen, where every dish he owned was piled in the sink, ostensibly "soaking."
Jeffrey would be disgusted.
With a yell, Jensen grabbed the closest object to him, an empty beer can, one of many, and threw it across the room. It made a thud like a gunshot against the bathroom door before clattering into the corner, and Jensen's breath caught, just like it had three months ago.
Dark clouds had threatened rain all that day and large drops had begun to fall with increasing frequency, but none of the three men in the deserted unloading dock paid it any attention. The gun Jeff had fired into the air descended to hold steady on Jensen. Jensen's gaze took in the packages of powder and the open duffle bag filled with stacked money. Sure, Jeff had been acting a bit strangely—furtive even—which is why Jensen had followed this once, but this . . . this Jensen hadn't expected.
"Don't move, Jensen! Fuck! Why the hell did you follow me?" Jeff sounded broken and Jensen's last hope—that Jeff was somehow involved in a secret undercover operation—was dashed.
"Who the hell is that?" And now Jensen had two guns pointed at him. Jensen didn't recognize the speaker, but he suspected it was Jeff's informant, the one Jeff had always insisted on meeting alone.
"Dammit Roche! Drop the gun!" Jeff immediately turned his gun on the informant.
"He's seen too—"
"I've got this," Jeff yelled through gritted teeth, and Jensen had never seen his eyes that wild. "Just get out of here! I'll handle it." Roche dropped his hand, and Jeff turned the gun back to Jensen, swearing, as Roche gathered up his things, shoved in the money and zipped up the bag. Roche took off at a run, and then slowed to a casual walk as he turned onto a more visible street.
"Ackles. Shit! Listen, I can explain." Later, Jensen would think back and hear the pain and panic in Jeff's voice, but at the time he was too overwhelmed by Jeff's betrayal.
"No," Jensen said. "It's over. Jeff—"
"You couldn't just leave it alone! I swear I'll tell you everything, cut you in. Just . . . let it go."
"I . . . you know I can't do that." Jensen was surprised at how certain and steady his voice sounded. Maybe he should have gone into acting.
"Don't make me do this, Jensen," Jeff pleaded, and a shiver went through Jensen as he heard Jeff cock his gun. "No one was supposed to get hurt. It was nothing, not at first—Fuck! Never meant it to get this far. How the hell did it get so out of control?"
Jensen shook his head in denial. "Jeff. . . "
A flutter of pigeons in the corner took Jeff's attention, just for a moment, just long enough for Jensen to drop to a knee and draw his own revolver.
"Drop it!" Jeff yelled
"Down, put it down!" Jensen yelled over him. "Jeff, you're under arrest—"
"No. I'm sorry," Jeff said, and Jensen thought he saw a trail of wetness on his cheek, but he was too far to be sure. "I won't be arrested, Jensen. Please just leave it."
"Officer Morgan, drop your weapon." Jensen's projected calm was fading fast and his hand trembled as he held his gun on the man who was his mentor, one of his best friends, and his partner since he joined the force nearly a decade earlier as a ridiculously eager rookie.
"I'm sorry," Jeff said, and his soft words were muffled by the rain. Then Jeff's hand moved.
A knock on the door made Jensen blink away the unwanted memory, and he pushed himself off the couch.
"Coming," he yelled, and then cleared his throat and repeated it.
He checked the peephole and wasn't surprised to see Jared grinning at him, holding up boxes of Chinese food. Jensen's shoulders sagged in exhaustion, but he dutifully opened the door to the whirlwind that was Jared.
"Jared? Thought we were doing something this weekend."
"Holy hell, Jensen, it's hot in here!" Jared said as he stepped in. He made no comment about the empty cans lying around or the piles of dishes. "Your super still hasn't fixed the heating?"
"Nope. This side of the building's still a sauna and apparently they freeze on the other side. I'll let in some air." Jensen walked to the patio door and slid it open. A shallow puddle had formed on the uneven surface of his apartment's cheap concrete patio, and Jensen couldn't stop staring at it.
"Here you go! Moo goo gai pan for you, ginger beef for me!" Jared said, and the happiness in his voice tugged a smile from Jensen.
"Thanks," Jensen said and watched the puddle shudder and ripple with each raindrop.
Jensen and Jeff fired a fraction of a second apart, and Jensen's shot struck Jeff above the knee.
Jeff's shot took out half his own skull.
Jensen screamed as the body crumpled and fell. The rain began to wash Jeff's blood away, a slow, snaking trail of red. And Jensen watched, white-faced, on his knees and unable to move, until the color was gone and the white noise of the falling rain was broken by the sound of sirens.
"Jen?" Jared stepped close behind him, a solid, warm presence. "You know you can talk to me, right?"
"I know," Jensen whispered. He let the tension in his shoulders melt away, leaning back into Jared. "But I don't want to talk about it. Feels like all I've done is talk."
"That's fine too. So long as you know." Jared stood with him as they watched the rain hit fall on the patio from Jensen's open sliding door. It seemed strange to have Jared so quiet. Just as Jensen was about to make a smart-ass comment to that effect, Jared started talking again.
"I got a call today. From Danneel Harris."
"She said you aren't acting like yourself, and she was worried." Jared rested his chin on Jensen's head. "She's right, you know."
"So. Danneel? Said she's your new partner. Are we talking girlfriend or work-related?" Jared's voice sounded a bit strange, and Jensen chalked it up to the odd angle Jared must have taken to rest his chin that way.
"Do you really think I'd have a girlfriend that you didn't know about?" Jensen said. "Patrol partner. I think it went well. Was different than with—than before."
"Have I met her?"
Jensen thought a minute. "Yeah, at the surprise party that Jeff—" Fuck! After so many years having each other's back, there was no part of Jensen's life that Jeff wasn't a part of.
"She the brunette?" Jared asked, ignoring Jensen's cut-off reply. "Really short hair?"
"Nah, the long-haired redhead. Force of nature. Remember the one who cleaned up playing poker? That's her."
"Ah." Jared's nod made Jensen's head nod as well and surprised a small laugh from Jensen. Jensen could almost feel Jared's smile.
Jared gestured to the rain outside. "Remember when we met?" Jared walked forward onto the patio, pushing Jensen before him as he went. The rain finally seemed to be letting up a bit, but Jensen still felt the cool wetness on his arms. "I can't forget, you know. Us. In the rain. That alley. God, I can't believe no one saw."
"What?" Jensen tilted his head to the side to look up at Jared. They had both been so drunk—he thought Jared hadn't remembered that night. "Jared," Jensen said, "I'm pretty sure everyone saw."
"I know we don't talk about it," Jared said, quietly, "but I think about it. A lot." Jensen twisted around to look into Jared's face, and he caught a wistful smile before Jared glanced his way and quickly looked away.
Jensen remained frozen, unable to think of what he wanted to say.
Jared laughed, and it wasn't his usual exuberant one. This laugh was nervous, hesitant. Not Jared. "It's nothing," Jared said, but his tone screamed liar.
"It's not that I don't remember," Jensen said. "It's just that—we were both seeing other people and . . ."
"Oh." Jared stepped around to stand in front of Jensen. He blocked the rain, but Jensen's back was cold now that Jared's heat had moved. "When Danneel called, I thought . . . well, never mind. But . . . I wanna try something," Jared continued, and his voice dropped to a whisper as his head bent closer. The next word were whispered into Jensen's mouth, and Jensen could feel the movement of Jared's lips on his own. "You can tell me to stop. Anytime."
The press of his lips seared Jensen's. As Jensen's lips opened under his, Jared crowded him to the wall, walking him backwards on the small balcony until his back hit the cold exterior wall. The rain hit the side of Jensen's face at this angle, but he really didn't care. Not with Jared intent on recreating their first meeting.
Eight years ago, Jensen pinned Jared to the wall of bar, in the hallway that led to the washrooms.
"Won't . . . your friends . . . ask . . . where . . . you are?" Jensen asked Jared in between kisses, but truth be told he didn't given a flying fuck about the man's friends.
Jared gave a noncommittal grunt.
Jared was an even more handsy drunk than Jeff, something that Jensen hadn't thought possible, and in very little time he was as unsteady as Jensen and inhibitions had been happily thrown out the window. Eventually, one of the staff politely but firmly told them that they needed to move the public displays to a more suitable location. Jared's hand fisted Jensen's shirt and Jensen let himself be dragged outside. Jared was given the stink-eye from a couple of his friends, but was too far gone to notice. Jeff just gave Jensen a hearty thumbs-up, and went on flirting with a couple women who seemed to find him charming.
Once outside, Jensen found it difficult to simultaneously walk straight and touch every inch of Jared. Jared seemed to have a similar problem and together they stumbled and careened as they groped each other and sought contact. Jensen succeeded in pushing Jared against the wall, and pressing himself against Jared. Jared was all hard planes and unyielding muscle. As Jensen ground his own rigid cock against Jared's, Jared groaned then gripped Jensen's shoulders and spun him around. Jensen let out a gasp as he contacted the wall, but then Jared was there, grinding against him, stealing his breath and Jensen whimpered.
Rain fell into his eyes as he blinked them open in response to catcalls from passersby. He caught his breath as spots of color danced in his vision, and he tugged at Jared who allowed himself to be manhandled around the corner of the building, into the small alley. Once out of sight and in the shadows, Jared took over, backing up Jensen until his back hit the dumpster. Jared dropped to his knees and all of their hands fumbled with Jensen's belt, button and zipper, getting in each other's way as they tried to hurry. Jensen threw his head back and it banged against the industrial dumpster as Jared tongued the head of Jensen's cock before swallowing him down. Jensen ran his hands through Jared's long, dripping hair, and came with a soundless cry.
"My place," Jensen said, once he was able to speak again. "Couple streets away."
And later that night, Jared took Jensen, bent over his couch, before they made it to the bed.
Now, in the darkness of the balcony, Jensen allowed himself to have what he'd wanted since that night. His hands snuck under Jared's shirt and traced the contours of his back, feeling the play and flex of Jared's muscles as Jared crushed Jensen to him, nipping at Jensen's mouth and then delving in, stealing his breath until Jensen had to pull away, resting his head against Jared's shoulder and nuzzling into his neck. Jared threw his head back, and then laughed as he rubbed the rain from his eyes.
"You know," Jared whispered, hot against his ear, "instead of standing out here, freezing in the rain, we could just use your shower." And this time they were surrounded by the haze of warm shower vapor as Jared swallowed around him, and Jensen's fingers flexed in Jared's wet hair, urging him down.
In the morning, Jensen reluctantly left Jared in his bed. Jared's earliest class today was just after lunch, and Jensen didn't want to wake him. The rain was still falling when he stepped out onto the sidewalk—and really, how much rain could one city hold?—but for the first time in months, the puddle he stepped in didn't immediately bring painful memories of Jeff. Oh they were there, but thoughts of Jared—of scalding lips on the back of his neck as the cold droplets struck his face—had, for now, superseded them. The wet pavement reflected the lights of the cars going by, shining like Christmas lights in the low light of the early morning, and Jensen's mouth curled up in a small smile as raindrops hit his face, before he hoisted Jared's large blue umbrella and set off for work.