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Jensen Ackles eyes the pile of folders in front of him. His phone is blinking with new voicemails and Outlook is opened to his company email.

He's ignoring all three of these things.

Instead, Jensen's reading commentary on the mid-term elections and the new session of Congress. A year ago this would have been acceptable. Now it's just kind of pathetic.

It's Friday and barely midmorning, but today feels like a good day. He's only running half an hour behind, a miracle of freakish proportions. He managed to work out a settlement for the one case he was losing, and he has a meeting at noon with the senior partners. And it's Friday. He's looking forward to an evening of cold beer and his TIVO.
He should have known then that things were going to spiral out of control.

"Excuse me, Jensen?" His secretary knocks lightly on the door. Jensen glances up from his computer and quickly minimizes his browser, like his secretary just caught him looking at porn instead of political commentary. "There's a Joanna Krupa here. Are you free to speak with her?"

"Uh, yeah, sure." Jensen sits up straighter in his chair. The last time he saw Joanna, almost a year ago, things didn't go well. He's not looking forward to another screaming match, especially not when he was just getting over feeling guilty for what happened. Joanna pokes her head in, smiling a little. He stands up and walks over to her.

"Hey, Jensen." She wraps her arms around his shoulders to hug him. "How are you?"

He shrugs as he ushers her into the room, closing the door. "I'm...I'm good."

Joanna slides into the chair across from his desk as Jensen drags another next to hers. She looks good; she's tanned and she still looks like she just came from a photoshoot, her clothes perfectly fitted and her hair straight with not a strand out of place. At one point, Joanna was everything he thought he wanted.

But that was back when things were easier.

"How 'bout you? You still in D.C.?" Jensen asks.

She shakes her head and crosses her legs. "Nah, I'm back in Texas. D.C. got a little boring and well..." She runs a hand through her hair before continuing. "When the Governor's office comes calling, you get on a plane, you know?"

Jensen grins. "You always wanted to come back to Texas."

She shrugs and looks down at her skirt, picking at a piece of lint.

"Not to be rude, I mean it's good to see you," Jensen assures her. "But what are you doing here?"

Joanna takes a deep breath and looks around his office.

"I wanted to see you. I miss you, Jensen." She bites her lip and looks back at Jensen.

"I miss you, too. I'm sorry about what happened. Hurting you was the last thing I wanted."

"It's okay, Jensen. I mean...it's not okay. But...we used to be friends." Joanna reaches over and rests her hand on top of his. Jensen nods and turns his hand around, grasping her fingers in his. She smiles at their entwined fingers and squeezes his hand. "Are you really okay?"

"Yeah, I am now. I really am sorry. I should've..."

"You shouldn't have lied to me, Jensen," Joanna interrupts. "I thought we were friends. You didn't have to hide it from me. I would have understood."

Jensen lets out a short laugh. He's almost sure the last thing Joanna would have done was understand.

"Joanna, you kicked me out."

"I was upset. You can understand that, can't you?" She asks and pulls her hand away from his.

"You know, Chris hasn't spoken to me since. I lost both my best friends." Jensen stands up and faces his office window, away from Joanna. It's quiet for a minute or so.

"I'm sorry about Chris," Joanna says, breaking the silence.

"Look, it's all over with. That was...it's been over a year. I moved on." Jensen shrugs.

"Why didn't you say anything? You were...I should have known something was different. You were my best friend before all that other stuff. I would've been there for you." Now Jensen feels like an asshole all over again. He made a huge mess of things, as usual.

"I'm an asshole," he admits. He turns back towards her and smiles awkwardly.

"Yeah, but you always kinda were," she says with a laugh. Jensen can't help but smile back. He slides back into the seat next to her. "We should catch up. Have lunch or something."

Jensen nods and reaches over to squeeze her hand. He really did miss her; she was one of his oldest friends, and nothing would ever really change that.

"Dinner, tonight?" Jensen offers. "I can call you when I get out of here."

"Sounds good." Joanna leans over and hugs him.

***

"So tell me the truth. Are you really happy?" Joanna asks. She's sitting at the opposite end of Jensen's couch, her feet curled up underneath her. She studies Jensen as she takes a sip of her wine. Jensen avoids her eyes, staring down at his fingers.

"Yeah, sure. It's a good firm and everyone's nice. I like it." He shrugs and kicks his feet up on the coffee table.

"You look bored outta your mind." Jensen gives her a fake smile, but she doesn't look fooled. She's known him for way too long. "Seriously. You were good, Jensen. A lot of guys wish they could be as good as you were."

"Sometimes things aren't meant to be," Jensen says.

Joanna just rolls her eyes.

"Bullshit. You just picked up a left. And look, I know things were bad, but it would've gotten better."

Jensen doesn't say anything, just picks at a piece of lint on the couch. Joanna sighs and kicks her foot at him.

"You didn't have to work for the party. There are a million other things you could have done. But the private sector? You've been here what, a year? You already look bored."

"Do you know how much money I make in a year?" Jensen smiles a little smugly, but Joanna looks right through it.

"Oh, give me a fucking break. It's not about the money, and you know it. You still get to argue with people on a daily basis, but you stay detached and uninvolved, and it's all good and fine. You're free on a Friday night. I bet you barely talk to anyone in that office when it doesn't involve work. You're here, alone and bored." Jensen shifts uneasily and looks away from Joanna's sharp gaze.

"I was never good at making friends. You know that."

"Jensen...look, you used to love your job. You lived and breathed it. Even when you were sleep deprived, even when you fucked up, you still went in there every day and kicked ass. Now? You're just functioning. You go into work, you do a job, you come home," Joanna says, and she looks disappointed.

"It's just...it took me a little time to adjust, but I'm settled now. I like it here. I'm..."

"Don't try to tell me you're happy," Joanna interrupts. "You're not gonna want to hear this but you were never better then when you were arguing with Padalecki." Jensen starts to argue, but Joanna holds up her hand.

"Just lemme finish. You were always better when you had to work with him. You disagreed about everything, and he drove you crazy, but together? You actually did something. Remember all those crazy policy papers you used to stay up all hours of the night writing, just because he was gonna read them?"
Jensen just shrugs and picks at a piece of lint on his jeans.

It's silent for a few minutes. Joanna's waiting for him to say something, but he's not going to give her what she wants. Finally, she rolls her eyes and gets off the couch. She walks over to her bag and shifts some things around before bringing a book with her. She hands it to Jensen, who glances at the cover.

"What's this?" he asks.

Jensen recognizes the guy on the back cover, a young Democratic governor from the Midwest who's been making waves ever since he took office. Jensen doesn't watch CNN or Fox News as obsessively as he used to, but he's seen enough about this guy to know he's going somewhere.

Joanna smirks. "He's been doing polling, and he put an exploratory team together last year. He's gonna announce soon."

"You do realize he's a Democrat, right?" Jensen raises an eyebrow and Joanna just laughs. "Seriously, why'd you give this to me?"

"He did a speech a few weeks back," she says. "I've never seen anything like it. On either side. He's good. Really good. The grassroots are nuts about him."

"That makes me want to get involved in this?" Jensen frowns. "The grassroots? Those people are crazy."

"Yeah, but they aren't wrong. At least this time. He's good. Just read the damn book. His economic plan is better than anything our guys are pitching."

Jensen flips through the book a little. He'd read the thing and make her happy, and then he'd go back to his real job. He wasn't getting involved in politics again, let alone for a freaking Democrat.

***

Joanna's stupid book is sitting on the coffee table. Jensen's leaning against the counter, sipping his coffee and trying to wake up. Joanna hadn't stayed much longer, finishing her wine and taking off for the night.

At least she's speaking to him now. He really did miss her.

He drains the last of his coffee and walks off to his bathroom to take a shower. When he comes back out, the stupid thing is still sitting on his coffee table. He makes himself another cup of coffee, before walking over to his couch. He studies the book before sighing and giving in.

It's a few hours later when he glances at the clock. The sun has moved away from the windows, and his apartment is dark. He stretches out his legs, feeling cramped from sitting for so long.

But it's good. For the first time in a long time, Jensen feels that spark of excitement in his stomach, his fingers itching to get to work.

***

A few Google searches later and Jensen is ready to throw up. He knew it was too good to be true.

He pulls out his cell phone, scrolling through contacts until he gets to Joanna's name. He presses send and waits for her to pick up.

"So, was I right?" Joanna sounds smug.

"Did you know?" Jensen asks, and he feels a heavy weight settling in his stomach.

"Know what?"

"About Jared."

"What about him? Did you run into him or something?" Joanna sounds worried and confused.

Jensen rubs his eyes warily.

"No. He's...he's the campaign director. He's running the damn campaign, Joanna." He can hear her suck in a breath.

"Shit. I'm sorry. I had no idea. I just thought. I thought it'd be good for you to get back into it again. Does this mean..."

"Yeah, you were right. But I can't." Joanna makes a frustrated little noise. But Jensen's too upset - with himself, with Joanna, with Jared. The first time in God knows how long, he finally found something worth fighting for, and it involves dragging his ass to Jared fucking Padalecki.

"Why?" Joanna asks softly. "It can't hurt to try, right? Do you want this?"

"I...I really do."

Joanna sighs. "Do you remember what you told me the day we met?"

"Not really..."

"I asked why you wanted to work in politics. Do you remember what you told me?"

Jensen swallows and shakes his head. "I don't remember..."

"You told me you wanted to help people." Joanna sighs. "And I think I fell a little bit in love with you."

"Joanna..." Jensen says, interrupting her.

"No, it's okay. I just...I want you to find that again."

Jensen doesn't say anything for a minute. "I'm the last person he'll want to see," he says quietly.

Of course he wants to see Jared again, but the chance of Jared even speaking to him is slim to none. He's spent the last year trying not to think about Jared at all.

"Yeah, maybe you're right," Joanna allows. "But you're gonna tell me that you're just going to let this slip through your fingers because you made a mistake? Yeah, you fucked up good and made some bad fucking choices. You've been sitting around for a year punishing yourself for it. I've moved on. You need to get over it and do this. You used to love doing this for a reason and I'm not gonna let you throw this away."

Jensen coughs into the phone and wipes his eyes.

"I can try. I want to, I mean," he says with a shaky breath.

"That's the Jensen Ackles I remember," she says, sounding proud and happy again.

Two Years Earlier

There are few people in the world Jensen hates more than Jared Padalecki.

Jensen has been in D.C. for a few years, and too much of his time has been spent with Jared. Hundreds of meetings spent arguing with him over policy, trudging back to his office in a fit of rage over Jared's latest liberal cause or Jared's victory in shoehorning more money for liberal policies.

Jensen comes from a long line of Texan politicians who probably never had to deal with someone like Jared. If Jensen's father ever had to spend the day with Jared, his father would probably stop giving Jensen the stink eye and a long speech about public service whenever Jensen complains.

But today of all days, Jensen wishes he had gone into corporate law instead.

Jared's sitting across the table from him, stupid floppy hair over his eyes. He's scribbling something down on the sheet of papers in front of him. He glances up from his notes and catches Jensen's eye. Jensen looks away quickly, looking down at his own notes.

Today is the first day back from the Congressional holiday, and the first item on the agenda is a bill Jensen hopes never sees the light of day. For a Republican, his boss is more center right than far right, but Jensen and the rest of his staff is hoping this bill dies before it gets out of committee. Senator Weston is up for reelection next year, and Washington might be all about "Working Together for the Common Good" nowadays, but none of his staff is looking forward to running in Texas on a Democratic vote. Jensen is all for bipartisanship, but only when he can set the terms.

"The vote is coming up in a few days on SR 105," Sophia Bush says, looking around the room and giving everyone a big fake smile. "And SR 150 is almost out of committee. Sandy is passing around the proposed text." She runs the majority leader's office and Jensen's never gotten along with her.

Jensen already knows what the bill is going to say and hopes it never makes it to the Senate floor.

"Any questions, before y'all start tearing this thing apart?" Sophia asks.

Jensen can see Jared out of the corner of his eye, twirling his pen in his hand. The guy sitting to Jensen's left asks about some research grant his boss wants added in, adding another couple million bucks to the bill, and Jensen just loses his shit.
"Seriously, you want to add more money to this thing?" Jensen steams. "You've got a proposal for, what is this, some research proposal in San Francisco? I mean, what the hell is that for? And now you want more money, for what? If this leaves the room, not only do you lose Republican votes, but the President will veto. I take this to my boss, he's gonna laugh me out of his office"

The guy glares at Jensen and Jensen glares right back at him. The guy turns away and his face is beet red. Jensen tries not to smirk.

"Hey guys," Jared interrupts and holds up his hands, eyes flicking between Jensen and the other guy. "It's only 9 in the morning. Can we try not to start yelling till at least 10?" Jared glares at Jensen before continuing on. "Ackles is right, this isn't gonna pass. We wanna push this as fast as possible to a floor vote; it's already stalled in committee twice."

Thanks to Jensen and a few well timed phone calls.

But Jensen's still fucked. They've already moved onto the next problem, some highways bill Jensen doesn't give a damn about. He wasn't expecting this one to get out of committee until the next Congressional session, and now he's got to go back to his office and tell his boss to vote yes. It's not even 9:00 A.M. yet and he's already having a bad fucking day.

***

Two hours later and the meeting from hell is over. Everyone is leaving, pulling on coats and gloves, and Jensen is packing his papers away in his bag. Everyone is out of the room except Padalecki. Out of the corner of his eye, Jensen can see Jared wrapping one of his five million ridiculous scarves around his neck and pulling on his pea coat. Jensen would say he's never seen Jared wear the same scarf twice, but that would mean admitting he actually paid attention to something Jared did.
Jensen heads for the door and catches Jared's eye. Jared gives him a small, tight smile and holds the door open, letting Jensen through first.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" Jared asks. "About that education bill you guys are working on?"

"Sure," Jensen nods. He pulls his gloves on as they walk down the hall towards the door. He's spent a good portion of the last ten years in the Northeast, but he never gotten used to D.C. in the winter. It's really fucking cold. Today it's gorgeous and sunny, but it's only about 15 degrees outside.

The thing is, everyone likes Jared. Even the most redneck, right wing conservative who rants about gay people poisoning the minds of young people everywhere likes Jared. He's laid back, always has a smile on his face, and even if he thinks you're fucking crazy, he always has time to listen to you talk policy. Jensen's heard the phrase, "That Padalecki kid's okay for a fag" more times than he can count. Jared's just good with people and has a natural ability to get them to be his best friend and vote for his bill at the same time. Jensen has to use a mix of careful manipulation, bribing, and fear to get people to do what he wants.

But Jared and Jensen have a mutual distaste for each other that goes beyond politics or personal life choices. Jensen just can't stand Jared and he knows Jared feels the exact same way about him. They've never really gotten along. They're both too good at their jobs, too good to give an inch on any particular issue, and they're both too stubborn to let anyone else win. Jensen has almost come to blows with Jared too many times to count, and he has no idea why his boss keeps making him take meetings with Jared.

His boss would probably call it a character building exercise if Jensen ever asked, but it would be a bad idea for Jensen to admit he almost can't work with Padalecki.

"Are you gonna stall this one, or what?" Jensen asks.

"Feinstien wants to add another twenty million," Jared replies with a shrug. Jensen groans as Jared smirks and slides his sunglasses on. Jared's already got that ridiculous scarf pulled up to cover his mouth.

Jensen sighs, because he knows where this conversation is going. "If the next words out of your mouth are sex education funding, I'm gonna cut you."

Jared laughs through his fucking ridiculous scarf. Jensen is mentally cleaning out his desk because he's not going to his boss with this.

"C'mon," Jared starts, voice gone earnest. "You know every study ever done in the history of the world says..."

"Yeah, because we really need to be teaching kids how to have sex." He can see Jared flailing a little bit out of the corner of his eye and Jensen just smirks. He just loves watching Jared get frustrated to the point where he no longer speaks in complete sentences.

"Okay, we're not...ugh, we're not teaching kids how to have sex!" Jared says with a frustrated huff. A few people walking past them turn back to look at Jared, who flushes bright red. "You know what I mean!

"You try running on that bill in Texas." Jensen retorts. "Our opponent wouldn't have to write a damn campaign ad, they'd just use some stock footage from CSPAN. He'll never go for it." Seriously, Jared is trying to kill him. Or at least get him fired.

Jared grabs Jensen's arm, and they both stop walking. Jensen flashes him a look, and Jared blushes and holds his hands up in surrender.

"So he won't even consider it?" Jared asks and Jensen shakes his head.

Jared frowns and glances around. "Alright, fine," Jared mutters. "No sex education funding. You know, you people drive me crazy."

"Yeah, well, the feeling is mutual," Jensen says with a scowl. "Do you need anything else, or are you done torturing me today?"

Jared stares at Jensen for a minute. "Are you gonna stall it again? I know it was you."

Jensen rolls his eyes. "Yeah, because last time I checked, my guy wasn't on that committee. For fucks sake, Padalecki, I didn't hold the thing."

Jared laughs in disbelief. "Oh, please, I know you have friends in that office. An anonymous hold wouldn't be hard for you to pull off. All it took was one phone call. And you can bitch about this one all you want, but you know by holding this thing you guys got exactly what you wanted," Jared says, crossing his arms against his chest, his shoulders stiff and tense.

"Yeah, well, now the damn thing'll pass," Jensen mumbles, annoyed. "So stop your bitching."

Jared makes a frustrated noise and turns and walks away, leaving Jensen standing there shivering in the sun and scowling.

Present Day

To: jackles@gmail.com
From: thechad@gmail.com
Subject: Meeting

6PM tomorrow. Attached directions to HQ. Don't be late, assface.

***

Jensen sits on what must be the most uncomfortable chair in the city, his left leg shaking up and down. He probably shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee. He can hear the soft rumble of voices through the office door before it clicks open.

"Thanks for meeting with me, Misha. I'll see you first thing tomorrow morning?"

Jensen looks up and feels his stomach drop. His hands shake slightly and he ignores the stranger, Misha, for the guy standing behind him, filling the doorway with broad shoulders.

It's been a year since Jensen's last seen Jared Padalecki.

Jared and Misha shake hands, and Jensen stands, resume in hand, waiting for Jared to turn his way. Misha faces Jensen then and offers his hand out. Jensen fumbles with his resume and shakes the guys hand before Misha smiles and turns to walk down the hallway. Jensen barely notices his departing figure, his attention too focused on someone else.

Jared is in the middle of pulling his cellphone out of his pocket when he finally turns towards Jensen. "I'll be with you..." he starts and then stops, mouthing wide open. The phone drops out of Jared's hand, clattering on the floor.
Jensen flashes him a nervous smile. "Hi."

Jared looks...he looks really good. Everything about him is still the same: the same hair cut, the same rumpled suit, the same ridiculous pink tie. The same angry look on his face that Jensen knows all too well.

Jensen realizes then how much he missed Jared. How standing here in front of him makes Jensen realize just how bored he's been for the last year. More than anything, Jensen misses being challenged by Jared, in every aspect of his life. Fuck, he just misses Jared

Jared crosses his arms over his chest, standing tall and trying to use his height to intimidate Jensen. It never works.

"I have one last meeting, and I've had a very long fucking day," Jared snaps. "Can we do this another time? Preferably after the election?"

"I am your last meeting." Jensen says calmly and holds out his resume. "Chad told me...look, you're hiring a new communications director, right?"

Jared just looks down at the papers in Jensen's hand. "You're about the last person I expected to be here," Jared comments, frowning, but he gestures Jensen into his office.

Jared's office isn't fancy or stylish. In fact, it's the exact opposite. It's tiny and sparse and Jensen wonders for a minute how Jared fits in the damn room. Jared's using a small card table as a desk, big enough to hold his laptop, and his cell phone charger, plugged into the nearby wall. He nods towards the only other empty chair. Against the front wall Jared has a shitty couch, a pillow and blanket bunched at one end. Jensen bets that Jared's slept there more often than wherever he's staying while in town.

There's a giant map of the country tacked to the wall, some of it colored blue, with numbers and papers pinned to it, and a number written at the bottom, circled several times. Save for a couple of boxes on the floor filled with papers, and a giant campaign sign in the window, Jared's office is otherwise completely empty.

"I like what you've done with the place," Jensen says, grinning, but Jared just frowns and plugs his cell phone in to charge.

Jared smirks. "Well, we're a little busy trying to win an election to hire a decorator." Jensen sits up in the chair, and pushes his resume across the table to Jared, hand shaking a little. "You're serious, you really want the job?"

"Communications Director for Chandler For America. I have experience on the national level and I've been following the campaign. I think I'd be good."

Jared looks through Jensen's resume for a minute before meeting Jensen's eyes.

"Seriously? Shouldn't you be in D.C., trying to get a job with, you know, a Republican? I mean, I know you've been on 'hiatus' or 'personal leave' or whatever. What are you doing here?" Jared asks, disbelief evident on his face.

Jensen shrugs nonchalantly. "I heard you had a job opening. Chad set up the appointment."

Jared scowls, throws the resume on his makeshift desk, and settles back in his seat.

"Why should I give you this job when I've got Democrats, loyal Democrats by the way, lined up at my door, begging me for a job? I mean, these guys'll go to bumfuck New Hampshire if I ask them to. And you just waltz in here and expect me to hand this job to you? You have balls, Ackles, I'll give you that," Jared finishes and crosses his arms. He looks expectantly at Jensen.

Jensen exhales a long breath. "Look," he starts. "If I wanted some cushy campaign job, why would I go to you? You're in third place. No one expects you to make it past Super Tuesday. I'm here because I want to work for the campaign. I want this guy to be President, Jared. Probably as much as you do."

Jared snorts and eyes Jensen warily. "I haven't slept in two months. I doubt you want it as much as I do. Do you really want to get yourself involved in a high level campaign right now? I'm not scrambling in the middle of the primaries to replace you when you decide to take off again."

"Jared, I'll go to bumfuck New Hampshire, I'll knock on doors, I'll sleep on someone's floor. I don't care. I want to work for this campaign. My personal life doesn't have anything to do with it. I can handle it if your guy actually pulls a win out of one of these primaries."

Jared bites at his bottom lip before he laughs a little. "C'mon man, we gotta win one of these things, right?"

Jensen laughs, and Jared glances over his resume again. "I can't give you the job. I already hired someone." Jensen nods, and Jared gets up out of his seat. "Look. We're already fighting our own party, and the last thing I need is a month's worth of news cycles with every quote you've ever given to a newspaper on why a Democrat is the wrong choice. And...I don't trust you."

And that's it right there. Jared doesn't trust him and that's the one argument Jensen can't win. Jensen nods and grabs his resume, standing up.

"No, I get it. I just thought...sorry for wasting your time," Jensen says. He turns towards the door and stops short.

The Governor is leaning against the open door, arms crossed against his chest.

Governor Kyle Chandler is the kind of Democrat that causes the Republican Party to scramble looking for an illegitimate child or a twisted past. He's young and charismatic, the poster boy for the Democratic Party. He's a moderate liberal in a conservative state, and Jensen knows the GOP is pissed for losing a Governor's seat. To lose it to a future leader of the Democratic Party is just another thorn in their side.

Jensen would be right there with the rest of the party if he wasn't so damn impressed by the guy.

A week ago, Jensen was in Iowa, watching him give a speech. Jensen was standing in the crowd, just as fascinated as everyone else. He spent the afternoon in the airport, writing policy on the back of napkins from a coffee shop, draining cup after cup. Jensen had scrambled, trying to find one connection from the campaign that wasn't Jared, and managing to get in touch with Chad.

It was the best and worst phone call of his adult life, and he owes Chad Michael Murray for this. But here he is, standing in front of what he hopes will be the next President and his new boss.

"Sir, he was just leaving."

"I'm looking forward to working with you." The Governor reaches out to shake Jensen's hand.
Jensen fumbles with his resume, almost dropping it on the floor.

"Actually, sir, Jensen..." Jared starts.

"Sir, why haven't you come out against the President's new foreign aid bill?" Jensen interrupts, taking a chance. If Jared's still stuck on everything that happened, Jensen's just going to have to go over his head.

"Excuse me?" The Governor looks a little confused, and beside him, Jared is starting to get that angry look on his face again.

"The foreign aid bill the President is trying to push through Congress. Sir, it's bullshit and you know it. Why haven't you spoken out against it yet?"

The Governor glances at Jared, smirking, before looking at Jensen again.

"So, are you our new deputy director? Cause I gotta say, I'm not looking forward to staff meetings anymore."

"Oh no, sir, Jensen was actually just leaving," Jared interrupts and glares at Jensen for a second. Jensen ignores him, smiling nervously at the Governor.

"We're already working on that," The Governor starts, tapping his finger against his chin. "After the announcement, of course." The Governor looks thoughtful. "What was your last name? I don't think I've ever heard of you. Do you work for the DNC or are you local?"

"Actually, sir, Jensen's a Republican," Jared blurts out.

Both the Governor and Jensen look at Jared, who's standing there, looking a little desperate.

"Is that true?" The Governor asks.

"Well. Yes, I'm a Republican," Jensen says, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.

"What are you doing here then?" The Governor looks at Jensen curiously.

"I want to work for the campaign, sir."

***

To: thechad@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: I hate you

Thanks a lot, asshole. You are so fucking fired.

***

Jensen arrives at campaign headquarters early the next morning, coffee cup in hand. The office is already buzzing. There are interns making phone calls to Iowa in the outer office. Jared walks by with his laptop and coffee, barely glancing at Jensen. Jensen's still standing around awkwardly, wondering if he should search out Chad or maybe find someplace to sit.

"Morning, asswipe." Chad walks by Jensen, punching his arm. He grins at Jensen and nods his head towards his office. Chad waves at the interns making phone calls as Jensen follows him.

Chad flops down behind his desk. Jensen stands awkwardly for a minute until Chad points to chair across the desk.

"So, the Governor played a fast one on Jared," Chad comments before he takes a sip of his coffee.

Jensen nods and takes the cover off his cup. He blows across the top before taking a sip.

"Yeah, Jay's pissed," Chad says, rolling his eyes. "Oh, and thanks for telling him I set up the interview, by the way." Chad forces a grin and gives Jensen a thumbs up. Jensen just shrugs.

"It's a little late for that, don't you think?" Jensen asks.

"Yeah, but now he's pissed at me, too. So, thanks for that. Fucking fabulous move, Ackles."

"Maybe he's just pissed at you for being, you know, you," Jensen says.

"For someone who's about to ask me for another favor, you're pretty fucking mouthy." Chad opens his laptop and plugs in his phone.

"I'm about to ask you for another favor?" Jensen crosses his legs at his ankles and leans back in his chair.

"Yeah, you're about to ask me to explain six months of campaign to you in ten minutes. And I'll do it because I'm an amazing human being." Chad taps his keyboard.

Jensen rolls his eyes right as Jared walks by Chad's office, knocking on the door. He barely spares a glance at Jensen before facing Chad.

"We're getting polling numbers in a few hours. New numbers outta Iowa." Chad nods and stands up.

"Well, you coming or what?" Chad pokes Jensen's back and nods towards the door.

***

Jared's talking with the Governor as everyone else is packing up and chatting. Jensen watches Jared and the Governor from his seat. Jared's just nodding and frowning. The Governor waves Jensen over, and Chad follows him as they walk across the room. The Governor reaches out to shake Jensen's hand.

"I'm confident the three of you can manage to work something out while I'm out of the office." He looks at each of them. "I want good news when I get back."

Jared nods and checks his watch before saying, "You're going to be late."

The Governor nods at Jared once more before leaving the conference room.

The three of them stand there awkwardly for a minute, before Jared turns and walks away. He gathers his things before storming out of the room. Jensen runs after him.

"Look, Jared," Jensen starts, but Jared just shakes his head and walks past Jensen. "Jared, wait." Jensen tries to grab his arm, but Jared just pulls away and keeps walking.

"Jensen, just give him some space." Chad grabs his arm. Jensen tries to wretch his arm away, but Chad stands his ground. "Seriously, man, don't go after him. Just give him some time and he'll calm down." Jensen nods, and Chad lets go of his arm. "I've got some clips for you to read, c'mon." Jensen glances towards Jared's office once more before following Chad.

Chad's office is a little more decorated than Jared's, but not much more. He has a couch wedged against a wall and a couple of pictures tacked to the wall. He has two maps on the wall, one of Iowa and one of New Hampshire, some of the areas colored blue with tacks and dots. It's kind of strange trying to forget everything he learned on his last campaign and focusing on different independent groups, relearning counties to figure out where they can shave off conservative votes rather than liberal ones. It's weird to see the same maps he's known for years look almost completely different. Jensen flops down on the couch and runs his hand through his hair.

"We won't get much done if he can't stand to be in the same room as me." Chad shrugs and opens his laptop.

"Seriously, just give him some time. He won't be, you know, your BFF or anything, but he'll work with you. There's a reason the guy is running the campaign, Jensen. He's good." Jensen nods. Chad walks over to the couch with his laptop and hands it to Jensen. "Now read the damn clips and don't be late for the noon meeting. I'll be back in a little bit."

Chad's halfway out the door when Jensen calls out to him.

"Why are you being so nice to me?"

Chad stops and turns in the doorway, leaning against the wall. He crosses his arms across his chest.

"Jared's my best friend, but I want to win. I really, really want to fuckin' win. And if that means working with you, then I can suppress the urge to punch you in the face on a daily basis to do it." Chad runs a hand through his hair and glances down the hallway before looking back at Jensen. "I trust you about as far as I can throw you when it comes to Jay. I know the Governor isn't the only reason you're here. I'll make your life fucking miserable if you pull a stunt like that again, I can promise you that."

Jensen nods. "Okay."

Chad nods and knocks a fist against the doorframe.

"Now get to fucking work, you lazy ass."

Two Years Earlier

Sometimes, Jensen thinks Senator Weston just does things like this to watch his head explode. It's the only explanation for asking Jensen to call up Jared Padalecki to ask for a meeting to discuss co-authoring an education bill with Jared's boss.

Jensen would love to work on this bill. He really would. It's a golden ticket to reelection; even with the tide changing, the electorate moving towards the Democrats, a bill like this would solidify the Senator's reelection, and Jensen can keep his job.

And he wants to write a damn good education bill.

Jensen's early for the first meeting. He's sitting at the end of the table, pen tapping against the pad of paper in front of him. He checks the time on his cell phone and throws it back down on the table. Next to him, Chris is leaning his head back, eyes closed, trying to get a few extra minutes of sleep. Chris Kane is one of the few people around D.C. Jensen can actually stand. An old friend from college, Jensen brought him into the Senator's office as soon as he got to D.C., wanting a good friend working beside him. Chris is just as thrilled about working on this bill as Jensen is.

A few minutes later, the door opens and Jared walks in. He just nods at Jensen and sits at the other end of the table. It's silent in the room, save for Jensen's pen tapping against the table. Jared takes a sip of his coffee and sits back in his chair.

The door bangs open. Great. It's Chad Michael Murray.

"Let's start this bitch." Chad grins widely, full of teeth and Jensen can practically feel the tension coming off of Chris.

There are few people as infamous as Chad around D.C. The guy is literally crazy. He's been known to walk right up to people and start screaming at them, not caring if they're a lowly Congressional worker or a Senator. He's heard horror stories of Chad leaving rotten food in the desks of people who have pissed him off. Jensen's pretty sure half the Republican Party is actually scared of Chad, and it looks like Chad knows it. The guy walks around with a smug look on his face, constantly ready to pick a fight. Chris glances over at Jensen and grimaces. Chris especially has issues with Chad. The two of them have almost gotten into more fistfights than Jensen can count. Just being in the same room as Chad makes Chris on edge.

Chad walks over to Jensen and sticks his hand out.

"So you're Jensen Ackles?" Jensen nods and shakes the guy's hand. "Awesome. I hear you're a dick."

"Well, I've heard the same about you."

"I guess you heard right, then."

Jared sighs and waves his hand.

"Can we get started?" Jared asks.

Chad grins and flops down in the chair next to Jared. He takes a sip of coffee before putting his feet up on the table.

"Alright. Ackles, teacher tenure."

Jensen leans back in his seat and groans while Chad laughs.

"Don't you want to ease into this, maybe start with school uniforms instead?"

"Hell no. Teacher tenure. No one gives a fuck about school uniforms anymore. Show me whatcha got." Jensen rolls his eyes and glances over at Chris, who is clenching his hands. Jensen gives him a look before sitting up. His day just got a lot longer.

Present Day

New York Times: Governor Chandler Throws His Hat in the Ring

Governor Kyle Chandler from Colorado will announce his candidacy for President later this morning. The Governor plans to announce from Denver, his hometown and home to his new campaign headquarters. A rising star in the Democratic Party, Governor Chandler was not expected to become a contender in the race for the White House until 2012. He has consistently polled in third place in every Presidential Straw Poll.

The Governor has brought on Jared Padalecki as his Campaign Chairman, who led Senator Dodd's unsuccessful run for President four years ago, and has been working on the Hill for the last three years. Chad Michael Murray has been brought on as Chief Strategist, and in a surprise move, Jensen Ackles has been brought on as Deputy Campaign Chairman. Jensen Ackles has worked on two different Republican Presidential campaigns and has worked for Republican Senator Tim Weston from Texas for five years. Ackles left Washington last year to work for the firm Gimble and Gimble in Austin.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

***

Jensen throws his luggage onto the floor of his brand new office. Hands down, it's the most depressing office he's ever stepped foot in. That's including Senator Weston's office in D.C.; at least that place had a single window, letting in the occasional beam of sunlight. Jensen's office here at campaign headquarters is dark and bare. It's empty, except for a cheap desk and chair in the middle of the room. Jensen surveys the room, hands on his hips.

"Wow, this place is a hole." Jensen turns around to see Jared standing against the door frame, his hands shoved in his pockets. He's wearing jeans and a polo shirt, and Jensen feels overdressed in his suit and tie. Jared forces a smile. "You should complain to your boss or something."

"It's not that bad." Jensen rubs the back of his neck and glances around the room.

"So..." Jared pushes his hair away from his face and tucks it behind his ear. "How was the flight?"

"Good. I guess." Jared nods.

"We're having a meeting in about ten minutes, in the conference room. Just senior staff, so we can all get on the same page." Jensen nods, and pulls his jacket off, throwing it on the table. Jared stands there for another few seconds before pushing away from the door frame and walking down the hallway. Jensen frowns and walks over to the doorway, watching Jared make his way down the hall, waving into offices and smiling widely. Jared looks completely at home, stopping to chat with almost everyone he walks by.

Five minutes later, Jensen's standing in the corner of the conference room holding a cup of coffee. He straightens his tie nervously. A few staffers are standing around talking to each other. He's never been the best at jumping into the fray and making friends, but this reminds him of the first time he met Chris and Joanna years ago.

"Being an antisocial prick again?" Chad asks, bumping Jensen's arm in greeting.

"What do you mean, again? I thought I was always an antisocial prick."

"This is true." Chad takes a sip of his coffee. "Seriously, man, they're not gonna bite. They're good people." Jensen shrugs.

He's just about to make another smartass comment when Jared walks into the room. He's seen Jared in a suit more times than he can count, but it still catches his breath sometimes. He's wearing a sharp black suit with a white shirt and blue tie. He looks ridiculously good.

Jared stands at the other end of the room at the head of the table and surveys the group.

"The Governor is away for the next few days, so we have some time to regroup. Let's go around the table. You all know who I am, so...Chad?" Chad grins and gives Jared a thumbs up before going into his own life story about how he got there.

"And yes, ladies, I am single, so feel free to form a line outside of my office..." Jensen punches Chad in the arm. "What?"

"We get it, Chad. Sophia, you're next," Jared says, glancing at Jensen before Sophia starts talking. Jensen still remembers those awful meetings with her stupidly cheerful face and he can't believe he's working with her now. They go around the table, and of course, Jensen is last.

Before he can even open his mouth, the woman sitting next to Sophia leans forward and asks, "Is it true you're a Republican?" She has red hair and she's seriously hot. Three years ago, Jensen would be fumbling, trying to figure out a way to ask her out.

"Yeah."

"Can I ask you something?" she asks, giving him a wicked smile. Sophia leans forward, too, a twisted grin on her face. "Do you really sacrifice small animals at GOP gatherings?" Chad laughs and Jensen can't help but grin back at her.

"Not usually, no. Why, did you want to volunteer?" Everyone around the room laughs and Chad punches him in the arm.

"Okay, okay, can we pretend this is a serious campaign for a minute and talk about Iowa?" Jared interrupts, but he's smiling softly at them.

***

After the meeting, everyone sticks around, talking to each other. Sophia turns and starts talking to Chad, and Jensen sits there awkwardly. He's about to get up out of his seat, and thinks about trying to make his office look less like a dungeon, when the woman sitting next to Sophia comes over and sits next to him.

"Danneel, right?" Jensen smiles at her awkwardly.

"That's right." She crosses her legs and leans her elbow on the table. "I saw you sitting here with Chad, and he can't be your only friend here." Jensen laughs.

Chad overhears and reaches his hand over to flip off Danneel, continuing his conversation with Sophia.

"I guess you already know him then." Jensen says.

She smiles and nods. "Yeah, I worked with him and Jared a lot when I was on the Hill."

He nods and glances across the room at Jared, who is deep in conversation with another guy Jensen vaguely remembers as Misha, the guy who got the communications director job. Jensen would hate him for that if Jensen hadn't ended up being deputy campaign director.

"What about you, how do you know Chad?" Danneel asks.

"Uh, just from around D.C. I worked with him and Jared on some stuff before I left. Chad kinda hooked me up with this, so he's not all that bad."

Danneel grins and taps his knee. "Besides, you get to leave the dark side and come work with all of us."

"They're not all evil, you know."

"Yeah, but this is more fun. C'mon, I know this great coffee place down the street. I need some caffeine before I even attempt to get back to working."

Jensen stands up and follows Danneel out. He glances over at Jared and almost falls over when he sees Jared watching him and Danneel leave together. Fantastic.

Two Years Earlier

Jensen is ridiculously late for this meeting. It's pouring out, and his umbrella is still broken from the last storm, when a gust of wind ripped it out of his hands. Instead he's holding a copy of the Wall Street Journal over his head, trying to stay somewhat dry. It's not really working. He's only slipped three times on the ice outside, which is some sort of record for him, but he's still dripping wet, and he's pretty sure the spare shirt in the office still has a stain on it from a disastrous lunch which involved spaghetti sauce. He rushes into the building, throwing what's left of the newspaper into a nearby trash can.

He gets to the room they're holding the meeting in and his shoes squeak against the floor as he pushes the door open. Jared's the only one there, sitting at the table with his laptop in front of him. He's drinking from a steaming cup, and he glances up as Jensen rushes into the room.

"Holy shit. You look like a drowned rat," Jared says, looking him over. Jensen rolls his eyes, pulling his jacket off and laying it over a chair before sitting down, rubbing a hand in his hair.

"Sorry, my last meeting ran over." Jared just shrugs and pushes his cup of coffee across the table to Jensen.

"You look like you need it more than I do." Jensen raises an eyebrow, and pushes the cup back towards Jared.

"I'm fine. Let's get this over with," he says, settling in his chair and pulling his notes out. He can feel the water squelching in his shoes, and he really wants that stupid cup of coffee.

"Seriously man, we can reschedule," Jared says, biting at his bottom lip.

"We can argue about this now or we can argue about this in three hours. Let's just do it now so I can get this over with and get home."

"Fine."

"Fine." Jared looks visibly annoyed, but he sits up and starts in on adding days to the school year.

***

Jensen opens the door to his apartment, groaning as he sets his bag down on the floor.

"Babe?" Joanna calls out, poking her head out of the kitchen. "What's up?" Jensen can hear the radio on in the background. He slips his shoes off and pulls his suit jacket off, walking into the kitchen.

"Longest fucking day ever." Jensen kisses her before turning to the fridge to get a drink. Joanna's stirring something on the stove, and Jensen looks over her shoulder.

"Mmm...meeting with Padalecki?" Joanna asks. "Didn't go well?"
He nods, resting his chin on her shoulder.

"I think disaster would be more appropriate." He steps back and leans against the counter. "It's like...ugh." Joanna smiles at him and turns the burner off on the stove. Jensen reaches up into the cupboard and pulls out a couple of bowls, placing them on the table. He sits down and rolls his sleeves up as Joanna puts a bowl in front of him.

"He's just ugh?" Joanna sits down across from him, dipping a piece of bread into the stew. Jensen stirs his soup a little, and takes a sip of beer.

"No, he's just really fucking stubborn. Like he won't give in on anything." Joanna gives him a look.

"Jensen."

"What? He's just annoying. And pushy. So now I gotta spend half the night working on this thing for that meeting tomorrow, and it's probably just going to go nowhere."

"Aren't you..." Joanna fidgets in her seat a little.

"What?"

"You're kind of obsessing over this, aren't you? I mean, it's just one bill. You don't have to stress out over it this much." Jensen shrugs.

"I just...I dunno. I want to get this done. Padalecki's been a pain in the ass for two years now. I wanna prove I can do this." Joanna doesn't say anything as she just stirs her soup. It's quiet for a few minutes, just the clink of their spoons filling the silence.

"I'm just saying, you have a lot of other stuff on your plate." Jensen nods and gets out of his seat.

"You want more?" He brings the pot over to the table, effectively ending the conversation.

Chapter Text

Present Day

To: jackles@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Iowa Caucus

Speaking at Energy Commission on Friday, speech is almost done. Focusing on first timers and getting them to the caucuses more important than swaying consistent voters.

To: jpadalecki@gmail.com
From: jackles@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Re: Iowa Caucus

Energy Commission speech is good, like the section on bipartisanship (getting GOP votes on his energy plan wouldn't be completely impossible you know). Still need to connect to loyal Dems and convince them he's their guy. Need to plan a couple of backyard events; maybe through local campaign offices?

To: jpadalecki@gmail.com, jackles@gmail.com
From: thechad@gmail.com
Subject: Fucking Lawn signs

If I get one more email about those fucking lawn signs, I'm gonna choke a bitch. SIGNS DON'T VOTE. Maybe dump some money into stickers? Cost less? Also, need to open one more office in NH to cover every county.

Cash in Hand: $12,532,200.00

Am I fucking awesome or what?

***

Jensen's worked on a Presidential campaign before, but he's never worked on one like this. Instead of spending a lot of money on a fancy office space, or decent food, they're spending money on running triple the normal campaign offices. It basically means that their campaign headquarters are less fancy and more functional, and more often than not, they're pooling their own money together every night to order pizza.

Chad's their money guy, and he's a fucking cheap bastard. He's constantly cutting corners, trying to keep the cost of running a national campaign as low as possible. He's also always got a phone attached to his ear, trying to get donations from big time Democratic donors. Jensen's heard the phrase, "You've gotta be fuckin kidding me" more than is probably normal. He doesn't want to think what the Governor would say if he ever overheard one of Chad's infamous fund raising phone calls.

It's the end of the summer now, and after two debates, Jensen's not sure if they're going to make it to Super Tuesday. Right now Jared is going on about the next few months leading up to the Iowa Caucus. "We're going to Iowa in two days, and we're off to New Hampshire after that. We have 15 events to get through in Iowa. I emailed you guys the latest numbers out of Iowa. Our GOTV looks really good; we're hitting our goals for doors knocked and phone calls."

Beside Jensen, Danneel is scribbling notes on the memos in front of her. They've formed a sort of friendship over the last few months; she forces him to go out with the rest of the staff to get him to socialize. She also sees right through Jensen's bullshit, and it reminds him of Joanna.

Danneel slides a piece of paper over to Jensen. He glances down and scribbles an answer before sliding it back over to her.

"Danneel? What did y'all come up with?"

Danneel works with Misha as Deputy Communications Director. She and Misha make the perfect team; they both look good in front of the camera. Danneel is perfect at shaping the look and feel of the campaign, and Misha knows exactly what works for voters in Iowa and what doesn't work in New Hampshire.

Danneel also has the hots for Misha. It makes for interesting lunch conversation.

Danneel pulls some fliers out of a box next to her and passes them around the room.

"This is the lit for New Hampshire." Jensen gives it the once over before passing it on. It's typical campaign literature: all the right phrases and nice photos the Governor and his family.

"When is the ad gonna be ready?" Jared glances up from the flyer.

"Later today."

***

Later on, Jensen is with Danneel getting coffee. Jensen's stirring his coffee as Danneel pours fake sugar and cream into her own.

"I think...should I ask Misha out?"

Jensen resists the urge to roll his eyes because if Danneel sees him, she'll dump her coffee over his head and make him buy her a new one.

"Danny, how many times do I have to tell you? You're hot, you have great tits, and Misha's easy."

She smacks the back of his head and Jensen stumbles. He wipes the coffee off the front of his jacket .

"You know people always ask me, 'Why is Jensen so quiet, he seems so nice, why doesn't he hang out with us more', and I can't bring myself to tell them you're really just a snarky bastard and you don't have any other friends." She doesn't look up from her coffee. She stirs it a little before taking a sip, shrugging and sliding the lid back on the cup.

"I have friends!"

"Chad doesn't count. And I'm pretty sure he hates you."

Jensen pouts at Danneel and she rolls her eyes at him.

"Actually, I'm pretty sure I hate you, too," she says, glaring at him.

He raises an eyebrow at her as he blows across the top of his coffee before taking a sip. She sighs and pushes her hair out of her face.

"I mean, you could try to be a little friendlier," she continues.

Jensen opens the door for her. "I'm trying!"

"You're not. You run out of meetings when they're over instead of trying to actually talk to people. You eat alone in your office. You barely talk to anyone when we go out. People are getting the wrong idea about you. That meeting last week didn't help any," she says, taking a sip of her coffee.

The meeting last week that ended with Jensen storming out of a conference room and Jared screaming at him. Jensen ended up having to apologize the next morning at their daily staff meeting in front of everyone. Jared had just blushed and apologized for throwing a fit. It smoothed things over with the staff, but Jensen can tell Jared's still pissed. He has no idea how to fix this.

"I'm just...I'm bad at this stuff."

"Seriously. You spent how long on the Hill with no social skills? How did you get anything done?"

"Mostly by acting like a dick," he replies. She, thankfully, doesn't touch the Jared problem. He has no idea how to explain that one without looking like a complete asshole. He knows Danneel is itching to ask him about it.

"Jensen..."

"Seriously, ask Jared," he says, and he winks at her. They're back at the campaign office by now, walking back to their respective offices.

"I'm just saying, you could try a little harder," Danneel says. They stop in front of his office, and Danneel takes another sip of coffee. "Sophia told me about what happened."

Jensen freezes. "About..."

Danneel waves her hand. "The whole...you and Jared thing."

"Oh." And this is where Danneel kicks him in the balls and walks away and he gets fired.

"Yeah, oh. I've never heard of two intelligent people acting so fucking stupid in my life. I mean, besides you being a registered Republican." She shakes her head. "People are really gonna start talking and you two need to fix this. It's gonna hit the papers and then it's my problem." Danneel takes another sip of her coffee. She looks oddly calm, but it doesn't make him feel better.

"I know. I'm...trying. I really am."

She studies him for a minute and nods. "I know you are."

"Can I get back to work now?" Jensen grins at her.

Danneel rolls her eyes and shoves him into his office. "I'll see you later Jensen," she yells and walks away.

Jensen barely has time to get settled again when he hears a knock on his door and sees Jared leaning against the doorframe.

"We're going over speeches. Can you come help?" Jensen nods and saves what he was working on, closing his laptop. He grabs his phone and follows Jared down the hall.

Their campaign speechwriter is a guy named Aldis Hodge. The guy is really young, not even 30 yet, but he's already worked for the DNC, helping out with speeches at the last convention when he was barely out of college. He hooked up with the Governor about six months earlier.

"Oh, thank god." Aldis is standing away from the table, his hands clasped behind his head. Chad's sitting across the table, arms crossed, looking pissed.

"What's up?" Jared turns a chair around, sitting down next to Chad.

"Well, Chad thinks he's a speechwriter. Only he's really bad at it." Aldis gives Chad a look.

"I just made a suggestion!"

"It was a bad one!" Aldis rolls his eyes and flops down into a chair. "Here, tell me what you think. I think the jokes are hilarious, but Chad thinks it needs to be funnier." He pushes a pad of paper towards Jared and Jensen.

"This is for..." Jensen starts.

"That fundraiser," Aldis says, and Jared nods, and leans back to start reading. Jensen leans closer to look at the pad, but Jared gives him an uneasy look, and Jensen backs away. Jared keeps reading, laughing every once in awhile, before pushing the notepad toward Jensen.

"This is fine." Chad scowls.

"Chad wanted to add a joke." Aldis smirks, and Chad flips him off.

"It was funny! It's not my fault you have a crappy sense of humor."

"Hey! No one's ever complained before. Besides, Jon Stewart totally mentioned my Howard Dean joke from the convention three years ago on his show. So there." Aldis sticks his tongue out at Chad.

"So there," Chad says back and sticks his tongue out at Aldis.

"Seriously, I need a drink if you're gonna do this for the whole meeting," Jared says. Chad and Aldis both hold their hands up, and Jensen grins.

"I have a problem," he says, and all three of them turn to look at Jensen. "Did you really need to make all these jokes about Republicans?"

All three of them reply at once. "Yes."

***


GChat 2:22 AM October 20
jpadalecki: srsly chad, don't get us kicked out of the bar this time.
thechad: way to ruin my fun, fun ruiner
danneel: let's not end up in the local paper, k chad?
jackles: why do i hang out with you people?
danneel: b/c republicans are boring
thechad: and smell funny
jpadalecki: also no one likes you

***

Jensen checks his watch and stretches his arms up above his head. It's late, and in about five minutes, Danneel's going to walk by with Misha and force him to go out with everyone. He's in a hotel room in New Hampshire and they're doing a swing through the state. His suitcase is open on the floor, clothes strewn everywhere. It looks like a hurricane came through, and he's pretty sure the one suit he brought with him needed to be dry cleaned two counties ago.

When he opens the door, it's not Danneel standing there, but Jared.

Things have been quiet between the two of them. Jensen has honestly tried to work things out with Jared, but Jared does nothing but argue with him, finding flaws in everything Jensen says. Jensen alternates between wanting to throttle him, and wanting to jump him. Chad is giving them pissy looks every time he sees them avoiding each other, and Jensen knows they're days away from being shut up in a room to work out their problems. The Governor hates infighting among his staff and he and Jared can only fake it for so much longer. The days are getting crazier and crazier, and Jensen's not sure how he and Jared can keep working together if they refuse to speak to each other.

Jensen wants things to go back to normal with Jared, except this is normal for them. Avoiding each other, awkward conversations when they're in the same room, Jared pretending he doesn't exist. Jensen can't blame him.

"What's up?"

Jared shifts uneasily, and pushes the hair out of his eyes. He's wearing a dark green sweater, sleeves rolled up, and a pair of jeans that drag on the floor.

"Did you...some of us are going to get a few drinks. Did you want to go?" Jared gives Jensen a nervous smile.

"Um, yeah, of course." Jensen runs and hand through his hair. "Just lemme..."

"We're meeting downstairs in twenty minutes." Jared raps his knuckles against the doorframe. "See you then?" Jensen nods and Jared turns and walks away, glancing behind him just once to meet Jensen's gaze.

That was unexpected.

Two Years Earlier

"No way, we're not giving in. There's no way the Senator will sign off on this." Jensen knows he looks ridiculous with his arms flailing around but he's too pissed off to give a shit.

"C'mon, I need this! We'll get another ten votes outta this amendment," Jared yells.

"Yeah, and I said no way."

Jared's standing way too close, his hands on his hips. Jensen stands his ground, arms crossed against his chest.

"Don't be an asshole about this," Jared spits out and starts pacing.

"Excuse me?"

Jared huffs. "You heard me. You won't budge on anything. You wanted to work together on this..."

"Oh no, I did not want this. The last fucking thing I wanted was to have to work with you," Jensen interrupts.

"Well fine. But the least you could do is make this a little easier."

"Yeah, well, if you could stop asking me for ridiculous things, then maybe I wouldn't be making this so hard." Jensen rolls his eyes.

Jared glares and walks over to him.

"I know you can't stand me. For whatever reason, who knows. I thought you'd be over the whole gay thing by now."

"Oh please, Padalecki. I couldn't give a fuck who you stick your dick in," Jensen says, rolling his eyes.

"Wow, a first for the Republican Party! They're gonna kick you outta the party if they hear you say that."

"Fuck you! At least we're fucking honest about it. You all love to talk about being the party of 'inclusion' and all that other bullshit, but when it comes down to it, y'all are just as bad."

"Whatever. Look, there are about fifty other people I'd rather have to do this with. But I'm trying to make this work." Jared's voice is low and steady. Jensen rolls his eyes and tries to turn away, but Jared grabs his arms. "No, listen. I'm about thirty seconds from walking out that door, taking my votes with me. Then you can go back to your boss and tell him you were too busy being an asshole to get this done. It's your choice."

Jared's staring Jensen down. He's flushed and his hands are warm and a little sweaty on Jensen's arm. He looks more pissed off then Jensen can ever remember him being and if there's someone who's an expert on angry Jared, it's Jensen.

Jensen nods, and Jared takes a step back. Jared's still breathing a little hard, and his hair is flopped over his eyes.

"Okay." They just stand there for a minute staring at each other.

The door slams open and they both jump.

"What's up?" Chad dumps his stuff on the table, pulling off his jacket. Jared takes a few steps away from Jensen as Chad points to a tray of coffee on the table. "I brought you guys coffee." They both just nod and stand there. "Well, you're welcome, you ungrateful assholes." Chad pulls his coffee out of the tray and Jensen and Jared both reach over at the same time, their hand's bumping. They both glance up at each other, and Jared quickly grabs his coffee before sitting down in his chair, avoiding Jensen's eyes.

***

It's 2 A.M., and Jensen's sitting at his kitchen table. His laptop is on and there are a bunch of books surrounding him on the table. He's typing fast, taking a break every once in awhile to check something, before turning back to his laptop.

"Baby?" Joanna leans against the doorway, wearing one of his t-shirts and a pair of shorts. She rubs her eyes tiredly and yawns. Jensen pushes his glasses up on his nose.

"Shit, I didn't wake you up, did I?" Jensen glances at the clock on his laptop.

"No...it's late, why are you still up?" She pads over to the table, and runs her hand through his hair. He looks up at her, pulls his glasses off and rests his head on her stomach.

"Just working." She smiles at him and slides into his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck.

"Come to bed." Joanna presses her mouth against his softly.

"In a bit." Jensen smiles at her.

"What are you working on?" she asks, pressing her forehead against his.

"The education bill. I'm just looking into some stuff."
She pulls back, eyes searching his face. Frowning, she stands up and mutters, "Don't stay up too late."

Jensen nods and puts his glasses back on. He doesn't look back at her as he pulls a book closer to him.

***

Jared's already sitting in the conference room when Jensen gets there. His laptop is open, and there's a cardboard tray with a coffee in it. He's holding another cup, sipping as he reads something on the screen. He looks up as Jensen rushes into the room and gives him an awkward smile. Jensen nods at him and slides his own tray of coffee on the table.

"Uh...I got you a coffee." Jensen gives Jared an awkward grin. "Except I didn't know how you take it so..." Jensen dumps a pile of cream and sugar packets on the table and shrugs.

"Thanks." Jared pushes the cardboard tray in front of him across the table to Jensen. "I, uh, got you one, too."
Jensen laughs and pulls his jacket off and rolls his sleeves up.

"I'm sorry. About yesterday. And well. You know." Jensen rubs the back of his neck. "You were right."

Jared just shrugs.

"No, I shouldn't have..."

Jensen holds up his hand, and Jared stops talking.

"I looked into the energy efficiency thing, and you were right. It'll cost us upfront, but it'll save a lot in the long run. I'm not sure I agree with requirements for energy standards, but we should look into it anyway. I put together some numbers last night. I can forward them to you if you want?" Jared nods as Jensen pulls his laptop out.

"Look, Jensen."

"Let's just forget about the last few weeks and start fresh." Jared nods, and they get down to seriously working for the first time.

***

It gets easier after that, like almost coming to blows with each other somehow cleared the tension out of them. They still argue constantly, but they've managed to come to a mutual understanding. Jensen's backed off a little, and Jared becomes more laid back every day. It's almost fun working with Jared.

"We're not making any more progress tonight." Jared throws the whiteboard marker onto the table and flops down onto a chair next to Jensen's. They've been working on this for hours, back and forth between the two Senators' staffs. They've finally started to come together, and Jensen actually feels good about this thing. It might not completely crash and burn.

"I need a drink." Chad rubs his eyes and leans back on his chair on two legs. "You guys up for it?" Chad looks at Jensen and Chris. It's about the last thing Jensen expected to hear out of Chad's mouth. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Jared frowning a little.

"Nah, man, I gotta get home," Chris says, packing his things as quickly as possible. Chad looks at Jensen expectantly.

"Um. Yeah, sure." Chris looks at him, eyes wide, and Jensen just shrugs. He's too wired to go home. Besides, he's getting used to Chad and Jared.

"Awesome, man"

An hour later, he's sitting across from Jared in a booth, picking at the label on his beer bottle. Jared's sitting across from him, doing the same. Chad's babbling on and on about God knows what, but Jensen's not paying attention to a word he's saying.

"And then Jared came out wearing a dress and that was the end of that." Jensen looks up from the table to find Chad grinning like an idiot. Jared punches him in the shoulder. "Well, neither one of you fuckers were listening to my very important rant about Ann Coulter." Jared rolls his eyes and drains his beer.

"Blah blah, she's evil, blah blah." Jensen laughs.

Chad looks at him, surprised.

"I thought all you guys worshiped at the alter of Ann Coulter. Or at least wanted to fuck her." Jensen rolls his eyes.

"Because every liberal Democrat loves Michael Moore?"

"I guess you're not a total lost cause." Chad drains his beer and gets up from the table. "More beer?" Jensen and Jared both nod.

"He'll be your BFF now." Jared grins and Jensen laughs a little. It's quiet for a few minutes; Jared's looking around the bar people watching, and Jensen's stealing glances at Jared, pretending to look at someone over his shoulder.

"So do the Cowboys have a shot in hell of making it to the playoffs this year?" Jensen asks. Jared grins at him and gets into a long rant about the Cowboys and the Patriots.

 

Present Day (The Night of the Iowa Caucus)

Newsweek: The Contenders

This week officially starts the Presidential Primary Season. Voters in Iowa will flock to local schools and churches to caucus, many for the first time...

***

"Oh god, I can't watch." Chad's got his hands in his hair, and he turns away from the TV. Jensen snorts, but his hands are shaking. Depending on what happens tonight it's either the beginning, or the beginning of the end. Jared's standing next to him, resting his hands on the back of a chair.

"Why is this taking so long?" Jensen asks, glancing at Jared.

"Because we're Democrats, and we like to make things as difficult as possible." Jared grins easily, and Danneel pokes his back as she walks by, before flopping into the chair Jared's leaning against.

"I think Misha finally stopped throwing up." Danneel nods her head towards Misha. He's standing across the room, throwing mints in his mouth.

"I thought he was all, you know, zen like." Jensen looks at Danneel, and Jared snorts.

"Yeah, except he's the one getting the phone call. So not so much with the zen." Jared grins down at Jensen, and he smiles back nervously. Jared has calmed down the last few weeks, the insanity of the campaign trail beating out his issues with Jensen.

Jared breaks his gaze and looks back at the television. Jensen glances over at Misha again, and this time, he's actually on his phone. Misha meets his gaze and nods. Jensen lets out a long sigh, because Misha's back to his zen like state, and Jensen can't tell what's going on just by looking at his face.

"I think he's got something," Jared says.

Jensen feels his stomach drop as he and Jared make their way across the room to where Misha's standing. Misha hangs up his phone, and the three of them walk into the hallway, where it's quiet and empty.

"Well?"

Misha glances down the hallway before grinning.

"We won."

***

Jensen barely remembers anything from that night. It's mostly just a blur of excitement, Jared tackling him with a hug before running off and telling everyone, leaving Jensen standing there confused with Misha fucking grinning at him. Jensen does honest to God interviews, on CNN and MSNBC and even Fox News, because they're finally paying attention to the campaign and the Third Place Candidate That Could. Jensen can't believe the GOTV strategy he argued with Jared almost a year ago actually worked and that the mix of their ideas came together and won the fucking Iowa Caucus.

They don't even really celebrate, just stay around long enough for the Governor to give his speech and shake hands before getting into the campaign plane to fly to New Hampshire. Jared passes around beers on the plane, but when they land in Nashua, everyone's quiet and nervous again. Suddenly, he feels like they've got no time at all, just a few days before people actually start voting, a chance to prove it's not just a fluke.

Jensen kind of wants to throw up, except he's watching the Governor give his third speech today in a crowded gymnasium, and he needs to look professional. Jared's at the campaign headquarters being important, and Jensen has to stay with the Governor. The crowds had been getting bigger as they got closer to the caucus, but now that they're closer to the primary, the crowds are kind of insane.

Jensen watches the Governor wrapping up his speech, and checks his Blackberry, thumbing through emails.

To: jackles@gmail.com, thechad@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: Re: South Carolina, Nevada

Announcing new endorsements tomorrow, GOTV looks fine, need more lawn signs?

"Jensen?" He glances up from his Blackberry to see the Governor standing there with his security detail. Together they walk down the hallway towards the SUV they've been using to travel. "Do we have polling numbers yet?"

"Just AP. We're up three."

"We gained three points?"

"No sir. We're leading by three points." Jensen grins at him.

"Holy shit."

 

***

To: jackles@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: Super Tuesday

Did good on Fox News this morning, Governor on TDS tonight (\0/), and Chad is ready to go crazy re: lawn signs.

***

Jensen's running on about four hours of sleep. He walks into his office holding a giant cup of coffee and a bunch of newspapers and flips the light on.

That's his excuse for screaming like a little girl when he sees someone laying on his couch. The figure rolls off the couch in surprise and Jensen breathes a little easier when he realizes who it is.

"What the fuck? Hodge, what are you doing in my office?" Jensen places his coffee on his desk and shrugs his jacket off, throwing it over the back of his chair.

Aldis groans and rolls over onto his back. He stretches out and blinks up at Jensen. "What time issit?" he mumbles as he pulls himself up to sit.

"6:30. What are you doing here?" Jensen rests his hands on his hips and stares down at Aldis.

"Long story. Fuck, it's already 6:30? Fuck fuck fuck." Aldis groans and rubs his eyes. He pulls himself off the floor and eyes Jensen's coffee.

"Get your own coffee." Jensen holds the cup close to his chest.

Aldis pouts and stretches his arms over his head. "Ugh, fine. What are you doing here?"

"Um, I have work to do and I'd like to get it done before the phones start ringing. Also, this is my office. Why were you sleeping on my couch?"

"It's a long story." He looks over at Jensen and sighs. "Okay, you have the best couch! And the...flow in your office is much more conducive to writing than anyone else's."

Jensen frowns and takes a sip of coffee. It's way too early. "What?"

Aldis flops back onto the couch and pouts. "Nothing. I'll be outta your hair in a minute."

Jensen watches him pout for a minute before he takes pity on Aldis. "Okay, what's up?"

"I have a problem," he says, studying the floor.

"What kind of problem?" Jensen raises an eyebrow.

"A writing problem."

"Okay. It's still early." Aldis glares at him and Jensen holds his hand up. "Okay, okay, so you have a writing problem. What's the problem?"

"The writing is..." Aldis rubs his eyes. "It sucks."

"Did you finish the..."

Aldis nods.

"What's the problem, then?"

"The other one. The writing is bad." Aldis picks at one of the buttons on his cardigan.

Jensen frowns.

"You have another week."

"Yes, but the Governor is gonna want to see a draft like, you know, tomorrow. And there is no draft. There's just...very bad writing." Aldis lets out a groan. "I'm fucked."

Jensen laughs. "Seriously, it can't be that bad."

"Oh, it's that bad. Like, the Governor fires me and gets Chad to write all his speeches bad."

Jensen grimaces. Chad's not allowed anywhere near speechwriting. He's allowed to read them after and give his input but when it comes to the actual craft…well, Chad sucks at speechwriting. He's not even allowed to write press releases. He's supposed to give them to Danneel and she makes them fit for public consumption.

"Maybe you should go back to your place and get some sleep."

"Yeah, sure. I'll go home and update my resume for when I get fired for being sucky at my job."

Jensen's pretty sure he's going to regret this, but the longer Aldis sits around his office and pouts the less work he's going to get done. It's better to deal with this shit now so the kid will go home and sleep and be able to do his job tomorrow.

"Okay, I have actual work to do. So we're going to go back to your office and you're going to show me what you have and we'll figure something out. And then you're going to go home and sleep for a few hours before you go crazy."

Aldis studies him for a minute and blinks before saying, "Okay."

They walk to Aldis' office, stopping only long enough for Aldis to grab a cup of coffee brewed the day before (and Jensen winces and holds his own coffee cup close to his chest).

Jensen stops short before walking inside. "Something's different..."

Aldis flops behind his desk and flips through a pad of paper. "Yeah, the whole..." He waves his hands over his head. "Whatever. I got distracted looking for education stats and ended up reading this article about the best way to arrange your office to create the perfect working atmosphere."

"So you rearranged your whole office?" Jensen looks around the room with his hands on his hips.

"Mmmhm." Aldis rubs his eyes sleepily and takes a long drink of coffee.

"You really need to go to bed."

"No kidding." Aldis yawns and pushes his laptop across his desk.

Jensen sits down in an empty chair and pulls the laptop towards him.

Aldis lets him read for a second before grabbing the laptop back. "Okay, you can't read this. It's very bad writing."

"Thank you for voting for me? I guess you were right."

Aldis puts his head down on the desk. "What am I gonna do? He wants to see a draft tomorrow!"

"So you have writer's..."

"Shh! Don't say it," Aldis interrupts. He walks over to the door and glances down the hallway before closing the door. "You can't take it back once you say it! It'll just be out there, floating around."

"So you have...issues?" Aldis nods and Jensen laughs."Well, that much is obvious."

Aldis throws his pen at Jensen.

"Don't be a dick. This is very serious."

Jensen rolls his eyes and grabs a nearby pad of paper and a pencil Aldis is quiet for a few minutes while Jensen writes. A few minutes later, he pushes the pad back towards Aldis and sits back in his seat.

"This is a good start. I can work with this."

Jensen nods and throws the pencil on the desk.

"So, can I ask you something? And I totally blame the fact that I've gotten like, two hours of sleep in the last two days for asking you this but..."

"Spit it out already. You need to go home and sleep before you end up in the hospital from exhaustion. Then we really will have to get Chad to write speeches."

"Why does Jared hate you?"

"Oh, for fucks sake..." Jensen tries not to roll his eyes.

"It just seems kinda ridiculous that two guys who seem pretty cool can't be in the same room without starting a fight."

"This from the guy who spent half the night rearranging his office furniture."

"Okay, forget I asked! I was just curious and sleep deprived and now I know never to ask you again."

Jensen sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "He has a pretty good reason. I'd probably hate me too." Aldis just looks at him and Jensen finally says, "It's...personal."

"Is it the gay thing? Cause it's gonna be a long ass campaign if that's the problem."

Jensen shakes his head.

"No, I don't have a problem with that. We just...we have some history. It didn't end well."

Aldis nods. "That's all you're giving me? It didn't end well?"

Jensen shrugs and moves to get up. He points at Aldis and says, "Go to bed."

"Yeah, yeah," Aldis says and Jensen slams the door behind him.

***

"Did you see Poblano's new numbers?"

Jensen looks up from the memo he's writing.

"What? New pollster?"

Chad shakes his head and pushes his laptop towards Jensen.

"Nah man, just some blogger. But he has crazy numbers, and he was the only one who called New Hampshire right."

"You're looking at numbers that a blogger put together? Seriously? What kind of cracker jack campaign are we running here?"

Chad laughs and flips him off. "Seriously, this guy is good. He's got his own site now."

Jensen looks at the site Chad's brought up and scrolls down.

"Oh god, not you guys too." Jared leans against the door to Chad's office arms crossed against his chest. "Seriously, did you not just hear me give my whole, 'polls don't vote, make more phone calls, knock on more doors' speech?" He just looks at Chad and Jensen.

"Oh! He updated! New numbers!" Chad says, practically bouncing in his seat. He points at his laptop.

Jared glances out into the hallway before running over to the desk to look over Jensen's shoulder. Chad gives him a look.

"Fine, you caught me!" Jensen laughs.

Chad scrolls down the page and says, "There's no way that's right. Indiana?"

A knock on the door shocks the hell out of all three of them. Misha is standing in the doorway, one eyebrow raised.

"Interrupting something?" All three of them back away from the computer.

"Oh, just, you know, reading some clips." Chad closes his laptop, and Misha just looks at them. "Okay, fine! We were looking at the polls. Shut up."

Misha laughs.

"Can we get back to running a national campaign for President and stop reading things on the internet?"

Two Years Earlier

Jensen's not sure how it happens. One week, he and Jared can't stand the sight of each other, and the next, he's standing next to Jared in a crowded bar, throwing back shots and making fun of Chad. He spends a couple nights a week in Jared's apartment, cooking for Jared and Chad, cracking jokes about Chad's mother and arguing about whether or not Jensen has a convoluted view of the Constitution. Jared's not afraid to get into an argument on gay rights or gun control and Jensen's actually kind of having fun.

It's kind of fucking with Jensen's mind. When they aren't working together or cooking dinner together or going out drinking, Jensen's trying to work against everything Jared works and stands for. Jared always tries to get Jensen to change his mind, and it doesn't always work. Jensen finds himself sometimes sitting in meetings with the Senator, almost ready to tell him to vote the other way. Jared's always challenged everything Jensen stands for, but it's different now.

It doesn't help that Jensen's starting to notice the wrong things about Jared. It's stupid. The first time, Jared was sitting on the counter in the shit hole apartment he shares with Chad, drinking a beer and laughing while Jensen fought with his stove. He looked young and happy, his hair falling over his face as he laughed. Jensen felt a pull in the pit of his stomach and had looked away quickly. Since then, Jensen can't stop just looking at Jared. His giant fucking hands, how his shoulders fill out his suits, watching him in bars chatting with guys, his eyes flickering to Jensen every so often.

He can't figure out what the hell is wrong with him. He gets laid often enough, and he's straight. He loves Joanna, but Jared gets to him, gets under his skin like Joanna never has. With Joanna, it's simple and easy. It's never simple and easy with Jared, and Jensen just assumes this is just another way to complicate things.

Jensen's too old to be having a gay crisis. He's supposed to marry Joanna, move back to Texas, run for State Senate and have lots of little adorable blonde babies. There's no room for shit like this.

***

After weeks of working, they've finally managed to put together a bill that the Senator will put his name on, and Jared thought it would pass through a Democratic Congress. Jensen really thought he could get enough Republicans to sign on that the President won't veto it.

But right now, they're both freaking out, because they're short votes.

They're so close. The vote is scheduled for a floor vote in another two days, and neither one of them has really slept in the last week. They've pushed to get this thing through committee as fast as possible, and now they're short on votes. It's close, and they both need the win.

Jared makes a frustrated noise, throws his address book across the table and runs his hands through his hair. Jensen jumps in his chair.

"We're fucked. Fucking fuck," Jared says, starting to pacing. "Three votes. Three damn votes. The President won't veto, and we need three fucking votes. God dammit."

"Maybe...has Chad called..."

"Yes, and he's not budging," Jared interrupts.

"Joanna's still working a few angles..."

Jared sighs and flops down in his chair, head in his hands. He looks exhausted.

"I hate this job sometimes. We worked how long on this thing, and we can't get the votes? I can't...it's getting too hard. I don't know..." Jared runs his hands through his hair.

He looks exhausted and stressed, and Jensen can't explain why he gets out of his chair and walks over to Jared. He glances down the hallway, but he knows no one will wander by. He places a hand tentatively on Jared's back. Jared just sighs a little, and relaxes as Jensen rubs his back a little with his hands.

"Just calm down a minute." Jared leans back in his chair, and looks up at Jensen. "We worked too hard to let this thing die. Let Joanna do her thing, and we'll get our votes." Jensen grins down at Jared, who laughs a little, and closes his eyes.

"I just...I get tired of it. Some days." He rests his head against Jensen's stomach, and Jensen rubs his thumbs against Jared's skin.

"It's late. We can't do much at 2 A.M. Let's just go home and try again in the morning." Jared nods, and opens his eyes to meet Jensen's gaze. Jensen sucks in a breath, before letting go of Jared and walking back over to his side of the table. His heart is beating fast, and he gives himself a minute to get his breathing under control when Jared speaks up.

"Do you...Chad's at Sophia's tonight. Did you maybe want to watch a movie or something?" Jared looks hopeful, and Jensen fumbles with his papers and laptop.

"Uh, you know, I should just go home and crash," Jensen says, not quite meeting Jared's gaze. It feels awkward and weird, a tension in the room that Jensen doesn't want to put a name to.

Present Day

To: jackles@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: Faux News

Glad we have you around to throw to the Faux News wolves. Did you see Papa Bear while you were there?

To: jpadalecki@gmail.com
From: jackles@gmail.com
Subject: Re: Re: Faux News

Well you can talk to Olbermann then. No Papa Bear sightings. I'm crying inside.

***

"I think we've severely underestimated this campaign. Their GOTV is unmatched, and it's like nothing we've seen before."
Beside him, Chad lets out a dreamy sigh.

They're all sitting around the TV, drinking beers and celebrating their Super Tuesday victories. In the morning, most of them will head back to Denver to start planning for the convention and the general election.

They're watching election coverage, and Rachel Maddow is talking about the state of the race with Keith Olbermann, Pat Buchanan and Chuck Todd. They don't put much weight in pundits. They really don't. But Chuck Todd's stupid electoral map cracks Jensen up and listening to Buchanan blow smoke out of his ass is always hilarious.

"I'd marry that woman," Chad says, with a dreamy look on his face.

"Get in line," Jared and Danneel say in unison.

Jensen laughs. "Who, Rachel Maddow?"

"Duh," Danneel says, giving him an annoyed look.

"Well, she's a lesbian, isn't she? So that works for you, Danny." He turns to Jared. "And you're gay. You don't even like women."

Jared shrugs. "I love her brain. Besides dude, it's Rachel Maddow," Jared says.

"I could watch her all day," Chad says.

"Seriously?"

"Dude, she has a PHD. And she totally kicks Pat Buchanan's ass. She's awesome. Now shut the fuck up so we can hear her." Chad glares at him before looking back at the TV. Jared shrugs, but smiles and looks back at the television.

***

They get back to Denver early the next morning, and Jensen dumps his luggage on his hotel room floor before flopping down on the bed and sleeping for almost an entire day. When he wakes up, his head is fuzzy, and his legs are stiff from sleeping in jeans. He stretches and rolls over onto his back to stare at the ceiling.

He rolls out of bed a few minutes later and checks his Blackberry. Ten missed messages; most of them are boring campaign stuff, people looking for quotes or trying to book the Governor on shows. There's one from Danneel and one from Jared.

"Hey Jensen, it's Jared. Uh, it's Thursday morning. I guess you're still asleep? Anyway, we're meeting up at the place to get some drinks tonight. Just thought you might wanna go. I'll, uh, I'll see you later.

Jensen stares down at his phone. He listens to Danneel's message (saying pretty much the same as Jared's message, except demanding that he hurry up and get his lazy ass out of bed), before glancing at the clock and padding over to the bathroom to take a shower to get ready to go out.

When he gets to the bar, Jensen ends up sitting next to Danneel, sipping his beer and watching Jared and Misha talking across the room. Jensen doesn't even know what Danneel's ranting about anymore. He stopped listening about the same time that Misha's hand landed on Jared's arm, while Jared laughed at whatever apparently hilarious comment Misha made. Jensen crunches the napkin on the bar, and Danneel snaps her fingers in front of his face.

"Hello? Are you even listening to me?" Danneel asks, looking annoyed.

"Sorry, what?" Jensen blinks and focuses on her face.

"Nevermind." She pushes her hair out of her face and takes a long sip of her beer before slamming the glass on the bar. Chad stumbles over, his arm around his latest hookup. Jensen really hopes there isn't a reporter around.

"Ackles!" Jensen grimaces as Chad leans against the bar. "You look pouty." He kind of has been pouting all night, watching Jared work his way around the bar, talking to nearly everyone else but Jensen.

Danneel frowns. "He's been like this all night."

"I have not!" Jensen says, hands waving. He accidentally hits his beer, spilling what's left it on the bar. "Fuck."

"Way to go, Ackles," Jared says, coming up behind him. Jensen blushes as he mops up the beer. The bartender smirks and slides another beer towards him, and Jared grabs it before Jensen can. "I think we need to cut you off. We don't want you to pull a Chad and start dancing on tables." Jared winks at him and takes a long sip of beer.

"Oh, fuck you, it was one time!"

"Ooh, table open!" Danneel points to a recently vacated table across the room, and Jensen finds himself sitting next to Jared, his arm flush against Jensen's. Jared smiles at him shyly and pushes the beer bottle across the table.

"Sorry, I was just kidding." Jensen smiles, and takes a long drink, before settling the bottle down on the table. Jensen can feel Jared's leg pressed up against his own, and Jensen takes another long drink of beer. Two days ago, Jared almost stormed out of the middle of their meeting, and now he's sitting next to Jensen, sitting close and acting like before. Before everything went to shit.

Misha pulls up a chair at the end of the table and drops another beer in front of Jared, interrupting Jensen's tiny freak out session.

"So, Chad enjoys dancing on tables?" Misha asks.

"I hate all of you so fucking much."

Two Years Earlier

Jensen grins across the room at Jared. He can't believe they actually did it. They got this bill passed without killing each other. Jared lifts his glass of champagne at Jensen, and Jensen nods back, before Jared turns his attention back to Chad. Jared's got his suit jacket and tie off, wearing just a blue dress shirt, the sleeves rolled up and the top two buttons open. Jensen wants...he really wants to go over and press his mouth against Jared's neck.

If he's allowing himself to have these kinds of thoughts, Jensen knows he's kind of drunk.

Jared glances over at Jensen again, smiling shyly, and Jensen looks away quickly. He flushes, and Chris knocks his arm.

"Are you even listening to me?"

He nods, forcing a smile and sipping his champagne. He glances at his watch, half listening to Chris.

"Man, I'm fucking exhausted. I think I'm gonna call it a night." Jensen says, faking a yawn. He risks a glance across the room at Jared, who's watching him.

"You're fuckin' lame, dude," Chris says, rolling his eyes. "Just get outta here." Chris pushes him towards the door, and Jensen flips him off.

Jared's still watching him.

Jensen walks back to the office, the halls bright but empty. Everyone's either celebrating or has already left for the night. Jensen's shoes squeak against the floor, echoing through the hallway. He flicks the light on when he gets back to the office. He's throwing things into his bag when he hears a knock on the door. He turns around and sees Jared standing in the doorway.

"Hey," Jensen says, grinning widely.

"Can you believe we actually survived this thing?" Jared grins back, leaning against the door frame.

Jensen scratches the back of his neck, laughing softly.

"Not really." He looks up at Jared, feels his heart beat a little faster, a nervous flutter in his stomach. "I couldn't have done it without you."

Jared just shrugs and pushes the hair out of his eyes.

"You too." They stand there awkwardly, just staring at each other. "So uh, where's Joanna?"

Jensen looks down and crosses his arms across his chest. "Uh, she left a little while ago," he says.

Jared grins and pushes away from the door frame.

"Chad's staying at Sophia's tonight. Come over. We'll watch bad movies and get drunk." Jensen smiles and nods.

"Yeah, sure. Sounds awesome." Jensen doesn't care that he has a pile of work waiting for him at home or that Joanna is asleep in bed. Jensen grabs his coat and turns the light off, following Jared down the hallway.

Present Day

Democrats Ready to Party in New Orleans

Democrats will flock to New Orleans for the Democratic Convention to officially nominate Governor Kyle Chandler from Colorado as their candidate for the Presidency. Chandler surprised many by winning the Iowa Caucus back in January and then went on to win the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. He sewed up his nomination on Super Tuesday.

There is still no official word from the campaign on who will be named as the nominee for Vice President, but rumors about...

Click here to continue reading this article.

***

Jensen stands on the convention floor, turning to look at the entire hall. He never thought he'd be here two years ago, but here he is, standing in the calm before the storm. The city's already buzzing with excitement and Jensen just wants to stand and let it all soak in.

Aldis walks up to him, bumping his arm.

"Pretty crazy, huh?" Aldis says before biting down on a Snickers bar.

"Really fucking crazy." Jensen grins, shoving his hands in his pockets. "How's the speech?"

"Man, you don't talk about the masterpiece before it's finished, okay?" Aldis says through a mouthful of chocolate bar.

"Alright. Do you need help?"

"No, I don't need help. It's in a very delicate state right now, alright?" Aldis finishes his candy, throwing the wrapper in a nearby trashcan. Jensen can hear the door to the convention hall open and a few minutes later Jared comes around the corner. He's wearing grungy jeans and a plain white t-shirt, his flip flops slapping against the ground as he walks over.

"You're not trying to sabotage the place, are you, Ackles?" Jared stands in front of them, hands in his pockets.

"You got me. I just spent a year and a half trying to get this guy elected to sabotage him at the last minute," Jensen says, grinning.

"Hey, you never know." Jared smiles and nudges Jensen's arm. "You ready for this?" Jensen looks around the convention hall one last time before turning to look at Jared again.

"Hell yeah."

***

Jensen glances up from his laptop and meets Jared's eyes for the third time in an hour. The two of them are reading the last draft of the Governor's speech. The Governor has his own copy of the speech spread out over a cheap fold out table and he's steadily draining cup after cup of coffee.

The words are starting to swim in front of Jensen's face. It's the first night of the convention and they're supposed to be out having fun. But tomorrow, Jensen has to lead a meeting with Conservative Democrats about their place in the party and how they can influence the Governor. He's not too excited about it.

Jensen reads another sentence and writes a quick comment before glancing up from his laptop again, meeting Jared's gaze. Jared licks his lips and Jensen averts his eyes again.

Jensen fumbles for his cup of coffee, draining the mug and placing it back on the floor next to him. The tiny room they were given in the convention center is a mess right now, filled with campaign posters and newspapers. There are the remnants of donated baked goods and food brought by supporters for the campaign staff that ended up being lunch for interns and senior staff the day before.

Jensen pulls his glasses off and throws them into his lap. He can't remember the last time he was this exhausted. They still have weeks to go.

"I have problems with the energy section." The Governor breaks the silence, looking up from his pile of papers. "It's not..."

Jared nods and runs his hands through his hair. "I'll talk to Aldis." He glances at his watch. "Sir, you should get going. You've got that security briefing in the morning."

The Governor nods, gathering up his papers before handing them over to Jared. He waves and leaves the room with his security detail, the door closing quietly behind him. Jensen glances over at Jared.

"God, I thought he was gonna spend all night on this thing," Jared groans, tipping his head back.

Jensen snickers and pulls himself out of his chair. He flops down on the floor next to the couch and tilts his head back, hitting Jared's arm.

"Ready for your meeting tomorrow?" Jared asks, resting his hand in Jensen's hair.

Jensen tilts his head back. "Mmm, kinda. Think they don't really want to be lectured by the 'Enemy', you know?" He closes his eyes.

"Yeah...don't wanna admit someone who associates with a bunch of crazy people might actually come up with a good idea."

Jensen reaches up and smacks Jared on the stomach. "Are you ever gonna stop making fun of me for that?"

"Mmm, doubt it. Comic gold," Jared mutters sleepily.

Jensen's still resting his hand on Jared's stomach, and he feels Jared's breathing settle down to a slow rhythm. Jensen matches it and feels Jared's hand sliding down to his shoulder, thumb resting on his collarbone.

"Your mom is comic gold," Jensen mumbles and he can feel Jared laughing.

They fall asleep together and Danneel wakes them up early the next morning, the door slamming against the wall.

"Morning boys," she says with a smirk.

***

"This is the time for American dreams, for a new generation to stand up...

Jensen lets out a low breath, watching the Governor as he hits all the right marks on his speech, the convention hall going fucking nuts. Jared's standing next to him, his hands buried in his hair as he watches the stage intently. Aldis is pacing the floor, and Chad's standing with his hands on his hips, looking smug.

"The Republicans would like you to believe we're not ready for the changes I know need to be made. This is the time to invest in new energy, the time to make our schools the best in the world, the time to go to those far reaches of the world that have been ignored for far too long."

Jared looks over at him, grinning widely and looking so fucking happy and proud. Jensen grins back before knocking his shoulder against Jared's and focusing back on the Governor.

"It's time to bring Americans back into politics. It's time for each and every citizen to take a stand and get involved. For far too long, the lobbyists, Wall Street, and the millionaires have had too much involvement in our government, and it's time for a change. Tell Washington who's in charge; not the lobbyist bribing Congress with sunny vacations, but you, ordinary Americans with extraordinary dreams.

The hall goes crazy, and Aldis looks up and grins at Jared and Jensen. By the time the Governor wraps up his speech, Chad's already on his phone. Jared gives Jensen a soft smile and then everything goes crazy. Jensen finds himself running around giving interviews left and right, getting ready for a whirlwind of two months of campaigning.

Chapter Text

Two Years Earlier

Jared's sitting next to him on the couch, his feet up on the coffee table. Jensen takes a long sip of beer, glancing over at the TV before looking at Jared again. Jared grabs a few kernels of popcorn from the bowl between them and stuffs them into his mouth. He glances over at Jensen, and Jensen flushes, looking back at the TV.

"What, do I have something on my face?" Jared grins and wipes a napkin over his mouth. Jensen shakes his head and looks back at the TV.

It's late. It's really late, and Jensen should be at home, in bed sleeping next to Joanna. Instead he's sitting on the couch with Jared, sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie Jensen hasn't paid attention to at all. It's completely wrong, because Jensen just wants to reach over and do things he isn't supposed to want. He glances over at Jared again, who's watching him carefully, like he's trying to figure something out.

Jensen turns his head back towards the TV, ignoring Jared's gaze. He can't...he really should go home. He feels the cushions shift, and Jared places the bowl of popcorn on the table, wiping his hands on his jeans. He moves closer to Jensen and places his hand high up on Jensen's leg.

"Am I...is this...?" Jared tightens his hand, and Jensen can feel the warmth of his palm seeping into his leg. Jensen turns his head towards Jared and swallows. His beer almost slips out of his hand, and he places it on the table.

He turns towards Jared, his eyes flickering from his eyes to his mouth. He's about to make the biggest mistake of his life, and he doesn't care.

Jensen lifts his hand to Jared's jaw, and presses his mouth against Jared's. He pulls back, meeting Jared's eyes before pressing forward again, opening his mouth and letting Jared push him against the arm of the couch.

Jensen never does remember what movie they're watching. He just remembers laying there on the couch, Jared's mouth sure and steady against his, Jared's giant hands against his skin.

***

Jensen sits in his car, scrolling through his contacts on his phone. He stops at Jared's name and stares at it for a moment before hitting the "send" button. This is a bad idea. A monumentally bad idea. Making out in dark corners late at night with only a few staffers around is a bad idea. But Jared lives with Chad. They'd be better off hooking up on the steps of the Capitol, because that would be less embarrassing than Chad finding out. But the phone is ringing, and Jared answers before voicemail kicks on.

"Jensen? Is everything okay?" Jared sounds sleepy, and Jensen glances up at the clock on his dashboard. It's almost 2 A.M.

"Oh, shit, sorry man. I didn't know how late it was." He can hear Jared yawn on the other end.

"What's up?"

Jensen closes his eyes for a minute.

"Nothing I just..." He coughs. "Can I come by?"

"Oh. Chad's at Sophia's. Just call me when you get here."

Jensen nods, tracing the pattern on the seat. This is a monumentally bad idea.

Ten minutes later, Jensen is standing in Jared's apartment. Jared looks tired, and Jensen feels bad for about thirty seconds for waking him up. But Jared looks warm. His t-shirt is wrinkled, and his hair is a mess, but he looks young and sweet. Jensen just really wants to kiss him. Jared runs a hand through his hair and wipes his eyes, leaning against the back of the couch. Jensen's had a seriously long day, and he just wants to curl up with Jared and forget everything. But he can't, because they don't do that. He thinks of Joanna for a minute, feeling guilty. But Jared's well aware of Joanna and he wanted this anyway.

"What's up?" Jared yawns, and Jensen just shrugs. "Seriously, it's like 2 .AM. And you know I have that meeting first thing tomorrow, and I'd like to, you know, be somewhat functioning."

Jared reaches his hand out to rub Jensen's arm. It's that small touch that pushes Jensen into action. He leans into Jared, grabs the front of his t-shirt and kisses him. Jared gets with the program pretty fast, twisting them around and pushing Jensen against the back of the couch, cupping Jensen's jaw as he pushes his tongue into Jensen's mouth. Jensen lets out a low groan as Jared presses up against him harder, their groins rubbing together. Jared pulls him away from the couch and pushes Jensen towards his bedroom. Jensen trips over a pair of shoes in the hallway, and Jared laughs a little as Jensen tries to regain his balance. Jared reaches for Jensen again, pushing the suit jacket off his shoulders as Jensen struggles with his belt.

Jared pushes Jensen into the bedroom and pulls his t-shirt over his head, mussing his hair. Jensen laughs, and Jared just smirks before reaching for Jensen's dress shirt and unbuttoning the first few buttons, kissing the skin he exposes. Jensen's laugh turns into a groan, and he pulls meekly at Jared's shorts. Jared's got half his shirt unbuttoned and is pushing his hands against Jensen's chest and kissing his collarbone. He slides his hands down to the button of Jensen's pants as Jensen tries to do the same, and their hands brush against each other. Jared laughs softly against his skin, and Jensen lets out a huff. Jared manages to get Jensen's pants unbuttoned, and he pushes them down his legs. They fall down to Jensen's ankles as Jared pushes him down on the bed.

"Seriously, dude, could you at least finish getting my clothes off?"

Jared just laughs, and together they manage to get Jensen's shoes and pants off. Jared slides up Jensen's body to kiss his mouth again, rutting against Jensen slowly. The kiss is sloppy and messy, Jared caring less about technique and more about getting Jensen naked. Jared's fingers fumble on the last few buttons of Jensen's shirt, before Jensen pushes Jared off and pulls his shirt over his head. He raises an eyebrow at Jared, who just pouts and pushes Jensen back down onto the bed.

They're both a little more frantic now, just wearing their underwear as they push up against each other. Jensen's hand strokes down Jared's back, down to his ass and into his shorts. He pushes them down off Jared's hips, as Jared does the same to him. Jensen ends up with his boxers down around his ankles. Jared rubs his hands down Jensen's side, nipping at his bottom lip as Jared slips a leg between Jensen's thighs. Jensen arches against him, grasping at Jared's side. Jared's touching him everywhere but his dick, rubbing his hands across Jensen's chest, pulling his mouth away from Jensen. Jared licks across Jensen's nipple, getting it wet before nipping at it with his teeth. He does the same to the other as Jensen rubs against him, trying to relieve the pressure in his groin. He can feel Jared's dick heavy against him.

Jared slides back up the bed and kisses Jensen again, more desperate and sloppy this time. He spreads his hands against Jensen's hips, pressing him into the bed and Jensen moans into the kiss.

"God Jensen, so fucking hot," Jared moans and mouths against Jensen's jaw. Jensen tries to buck upwards, but Jared's got him pinned to the bed.

"Jared, I need..." Jensen groans and he feels Jared grinning against his skin.

Jared slides one hand from Jensen's hip and teases him with light touches before wrapping his hand around Jensen's dick. Jensen lets out a low moan as Jared strokes him. It takes Jared a few tries to get the rhythm right and before Jensen even realizes it, he's moaning and pressing his face into the bedspread and bucking into Jared's fist. Jared mouths across his neck, sucking and biting and Jensen threads his hands in Jared's hair and pulls Jared's face up to his.

"Jared..." Jared surges up and kisses him and twists his hand and Jensen's coming fucking everywhere. He catches his breath and he can still feel Jared hard and leaking against his leg.

Jared wipes his hand across his mouth and flops down on the bed next to Jensen. He's still hard; Jensen's reaches over and wraps his hand around Jared's dick. He starts to lean down to suck Jared into his mouth, but Jared shakes his head and brings his hand down over Jensen's. They bring Jared off together, Jared desperately kissing Jensen. It doesn't take long; Jared's comes quickly, getting come all over both their hands.

They both take a minute to catch their breaths before Jared rolls off the bed and pads off to the bathroom to get a towel. Jensen just lays there, his stupid boxers still dangling off his left foot. He's still wearing his socks. Jared walks back into the room with a soft smile on his face as he hands Jensen the towel. When Jensen's done cleaning off his hand, Jared sits back down on the bed next to him. Jensen leans over and kisses Jared again, his hand resting on Jared's thigh. He glances over at the clock and groans. Jared just laughs at him.

"Well, you're the one who came over at 2 A.M. for a booty call." Jensen flips him off, and Jared rubs his back. "Do you wanna crash here?" Jensen just gives him a look, and Jared sighs, looking away. They both know this was already bad enough, but Jensen sneaking out in a few hours to change and get back to the Hill is an even worse idea.

Jensen pulls his boxers up and starts getting dressed. Jared just sits on his bed, picking at his nails and pointedly not looking at Jensen. Jensen's got half his shirt buttoned up when he can't take the silence anymore.

"What's wrong?" Jared grabs his shirt off the floor and pulls it over his head. He walks over to his dresser to pull on a clean pair of boxers. He won't meet Jensen's eyes.

"Seriously, man, what's up?"

"Nothing Jensen. I'll see you in a few hours."

Jensen gives up buttoning the rest of his shirt, grabs his jacket and shoes, and flees from Jared's room. He feels like an asshole, showing up in the middle of the night for sex and running off right after. He weighs the thought in his mind for a minute before walking back towards Jared's room.

"Did you wanna cuddle?"

Jared looks up at Jensen and starts laughing. Jensen grins, and Jared just shakes his head.

"Just get outta here."

Jensen's satisfied, the air cleared for now, and heads out to his car.

***

Jensen's risking everything, running around with Jared like this. Stolen kisses in the hallways, telling Joanna he has to work late, and then sneaking over to Jared's for an hour or two. It's seeping into everything he does. Jared still argues with him daily, trying to change Jensen's mind about the same beliefs he's had for years. It's unnerving, how Jared gets under his skin.

Jensen gets to the office early on a Tuesday morning, bleary eyed from accidentally falling asleep at Jared's and he has to run back to his apartment at 4 A.M. to get ready for the day. He juggles his coffee and laptop, dropping everything on the desk, when the Senator's door opens.

Chris just slides the day's agenda over to Jensen and points to an item about halfway down the page. Jensen rubs his eyes sleepily, reading down the page. His heart stops for a second, and he glances up at Chris.

"That time of year, huh?" Jensen swallows down some coffee, a feeling of dread in the pit of his stomach.

***

Jared slams his hand down on the table, making Jensen jump. They're having lunch in Jared's office and Chad is pacing as he talks on the phone.

"Those ignorant, homophobic assholes."

Jared's not really eating his lunch, and Jensen can barely swallow down his own sandwich.

It's the annual "let's make gay marriage illegal" vote. Jensen's never had a strong opinion on it one way other another; he knows the opinion polling, knows that in another twenty years it might not even be an issue anymore, but right now, it's hitting him way to close to home. It's a subject he and Jared barely touch, because it's never been something Jensen's really cared about one way or other. He's always peddled the States rights bullshit, but now he doesn't know.

This is just another way Jared's gotten under his skin, fucked with his head and everything he believes in.

He spent the morning on the phone with constituents, alternating between reassuring them the Senator is voting for the bill and trying to explain why the Senator's voting for it. Now he's sitting in a room with Jared, and he feels like an ass. He can barely look at Jared.

"Can you believe this bullshit?" Chad throws his phone on the desk, and he looks genuinely angry.

"I guess, yeah," Jensen says, shrugging. Jared throws his sandwich down in disgust.

"Those fucking assholes. Like it's not bad enough you can't walk down the fucking street in half the country without getting your ass kicked, we have to put up with this...legislating hate. Fucking unbelievable."

Jensen shifts awkwardly and picks at his sandwich, his appetite completely gone.

"It's not gonna pass, Jay. I mean, c'mon, this is just their annual hate parade. Fuck 'em," Chad says, rubbing Jared's back. He gives Jensen a look, and Jensen bites his lip.

"They don't have the votes. They just want to make the next election cycle harder for a couple of Dems, that's all," he says, except his own boss is voting for it, and Jensen can't tell him not to.

"Fucking assholes. Let's see how they like the government tellin' 'em who to love." Jared glances up at Jensen, and Jensen looks away, not wanting to meet Jared's gaze.

"Yeah...it's fucked up," Jensen says, and looks up at Chad. Fucked up doesn't even begin to cover it.

***

Jensen stands awkwardly in the Senator's office, his hands shoved into his pockets. He might just throw up.

"Jensen, what can I do for you?" The Senator leans back in his seat.

"The vote, later today."

"On the marriage amendment?"

Jensen nods and pulls his hands out of his pockets, twisting his fingers nervously.

"I think you should vote against it."

The Senator drops his pen and stares at Jensen. "What?"

"Look, sir, you believe it's a states rights issue, and this is just a clear violation of that. It gives you enough cover to vote against it, and the way things are shifting out there, it might end up being used against you."

"I never thought you were a gay rights activist, Ackles."

Jensen coughs. "Well, sir, it's just...I mean, the way the tide's turning out there. You've seen the polling. The tide's starting to turn on this, and we don't want to be on the wrong side."

"Yeah, Jensen, in Connecticut the electorate is in favor of gay rights. Not Texas." Jensen shrugs and the Senator continues, "You're serious?"

"Yes, sir. This is...it's wrong. And I can't...I can't work for you if this is the kind of stand you're going to take." Jensen can't believe he just said that, but this is...it's different now.

"I never knew you felt so strongly about this."

"Things change, sir."

The Senator nods.

"If you really feel that way...I don't want to lose you, Jensen. You have a bright future in the party, and this will just ruin everything you've worked for."

He's right. Jensen's spent years working his way through the Hill, gaining a reputation that's brought him a lot of respect in the party. But he thinks about having to face Jared after that vote, having to say to his face that he told his boss to vote for that amendment, and it kills him. He thinks about Joanna, getting more and more suspicious every day, about Jared's eyes whenever he leaves to run back home. This thing with Jared, it's going to get messy soon, and Jensen has no idea what he's doing.

"I know, sir."

"Think it over." The Senator glances down at his watch before looking back up at Jensen. "I have a floor vote. I guess I'll see you afterwards, then." Jensen nods and watches the Senator leave his office, pulling on his suit jacket.

He just possibly fucked up his entire career over a gay rights vote. Over Jared freakin' Padalecki.

***

Jensen stands in front of Jared's apartment door for a moment, letting out a slow breath. He knocks on the door and shoves his hands in his pockets, waiting for Jared to open the door. Fuck, he really hopes Chad isn't around.

"What happened to you?" Jared asks as he opens the door. He reaches out and runs his finger along the edge of Jensen's eye.

Joanna's stronger than she looks. Jensen says this as Jared lets him into the apartment, his hand resting low on Jensen's back. Jensen tries not to flinch as they walk inside and Jared leads him to the couch. He disappears into the kitchen and comes back with a frozen bag of veggies. Jensen raises an eyebrow but takes it, wincing at the cold as he presses it against his face.

"What happened?" Jared sits down next to him. "You took off after lunch. It never made it to a floor vote."

Jensen swallows and averts his eyes. "Yeah, I heard."

Jared pulls the frozen bag away from Jensen's face and presses his fingers against the bruised skin. Jensen swears and leans away from Jared, batting his hands away. He can see Jared frowning out of the corner of his eye.

"Seriously, you disappear and show up with a black eye and Chad said Chris Kane almost took him out in the parking lot. What's going on?"

"You sure Chad wasn't just being, you know, himself?"

Jared hit his arm. "Stop being a dick. What's going on?"

Jensen shifts on the couch uncomfortably and takes the offered bag from Jared. He presses it against his face again just to avoid meeting Jared's eyes.

"Joanna punched me."

"Seriously? Damn, I would've never...Oh. Shit." Jared pauses and rests his hand on Jensen's back. "You told her."

Jensen nods. He wants to move away from Jared and put some distance between them. "Yeah."

Jared doesn't say anything for a minute. He rubs his hand up and down Jensen's back. "Damn."

Jensen laughs a little and scoots away from Jared, throwing the frozen bag on the table. "So she punched me. Which I can't really blame her. I mean, I'd punch me too, you know."

"Jensen..."

"Jared, c'mon. This is ridiculous."

Jared's quiet for a minute and Jensen can feel the cushions shift as Jared tries to move closer.

"Are you breaking up with me?"

Jensen laughs. "For fuck's sake, we're not dating. You knew about Joanna, don't try to pretend this was something else."

"So this was..."

"A big fuckin' mistake. It's gotta end."

He can feel the cushions shift as Jared gets off the couch.

"So this was just...god, I can't believe...no, you're right. This was just a big mistake and I was fucking stupid to think it might be something else."

Jensen pulls himself off the couch, careful not to touch Jared at all as he gets up."I got an offer to work for a firm down in Austin. The money's good."

Jared opens and closes his mouth a few times. "So that's it. Just like that, you're leaving? You're not even gonna try this?"

"Jared, I can't. What would I tell my parents? Joanna already...I lost my best friend tonight. I lost both of them. Chris won't speak to me either. We're fooling ourselves to think this would work. I mean, c'mon, Jared. What did you expect? Did you really think I could tell my family about this? Tell my dad about this?" Jensen crosses his arms against his chest. "Anyway, I just wanted to say goodbye."

Jared bites his bottom lip. "Just like that? God, you're such a fucking coward. Well then. Goodbye." He gets off the couch and walks towards his room.

Jensen's done here. He walks out of the apartment, thinking of Joanna throwing her shoes at him when he told her, of Chris telling him to leave before he kicked his ass. It's true. He could never tell his family what he feels for Jared. He can't lose his family, not even if he got Jared in return. Jared's turned him upside down and made him question everything he believes in. He needs to get away. From Jared, from D.C., from all the feelings he has. He needs to regroup, start over.

At least, that's what Jensen keeps telling himself as he calls a cab to the airport.

 

Present Day

To: jackles@gmail.com, thechad@gmail.com
From: jpadalecki@gmail.com
Subject: Election Day Parties

Please forward this memo to your staffers regarding the Election Day events. Let's not make my head explode this time, ok Chad?

***

Jensen's pacing across the floor of the plane. The Governor is trying to catch some sleep, his feet up on the chair across from him. Jensen can hear the toilet flush, and Jared opens the door to the tiny bathroom on the plane. He flushes a little and wipes his mouth.

"Did you yack?" Jared nods, and Chad tosses him a box of mints. "Feel better now?" Jared nods and flops down into the chair across from Chad. Jensen's still pacing.

"Seriously, Ackles. You're making me dizzy. Sit your ass down," Aldis says, glaring up at Jensen. He's working on the speech for tonight, and he looks like he's about thirty seconds from losing his shit.

"Are you gonna be like this all day?" Chad gives him a look from over the top of his laptop, as Jensen flops down into an empty seat. "Cause it's only 10:00 and I won't spend another twelve hours watching you pace."

Jensen flips him off. "Shut up."

Chad tosses his napkin at Jensen. "You shut up."

"Okay, seriously, I'm gonna punch someone in about thirty seconds if you don't stop it." Jared glares at both of them, and they both put their hands up.

"Calm the hell down," Chad says and glares at Jared.

"I'm going to fire all of you if you don't let me get some sleep." The Governor doesn't open his eyes, but his tone is enough to shut them all up.

***

Looking back on the day, Jensen can't remember much between stumbling onto the campaign plane and waiting backstage, watching CNN and waiting to hear results. Misha is on his phone, and his hair has never looked crazier. He also looks about five seconds away from tearing all his hair out. Aldis is locked away, frantically finishing the Governor's speech.

It's that time, right before the polls close in the East. The West is just starting to vote. Anything could happen in the next few hours. It's either going to be a long night, or it'll be over before midnight.

Jensen walks over to Chad, who's sitting on the couch, watching CNN. Chad barely acknowledges him, except for passing over a bottle of water. Jensen downs half of it, before screwing the cap back on.

"Wolf Blitzer is a jackass." Jensen nods, searching his pockets for his pack of cigarettes.

"He's a tiny, tiny man." Jared flops down on an empty chair, his hair falling all over his face. His suit is beyond wrinkled, and he hasn't shaved in a few days.

"But he's mostly a jackass." Chad glances over at Jensen. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I need a smoke."

Jared gives him a look. "Smoking's bad for you."

Jensen rolls his eyes as Chad passes him a cigarette.

"Yeah, well, it's too early to drink." Jensen and Chad walk out a side door and Jensen smiles at the security guys outside the door. They nod at him and Jensen lights his cig before passing the lighter to Chad.

"So. What are you gonna do when this is all over?"

Jensen just shrugs, taking a drag from his cigarette. "Sleep. For a week."

Chad rolls his eyes and blows smoke at Jensen.

"Not what I meant, fucker. What are you gonna do?"

"I have no idea, man." Chad just nods, blowing out a smoke ring. Jensen rolls his eyes at him.

"If the Governor offered you a job...?"

"Dude, don't say shit like that! You wanna jinx it? You better not let Jared hear you say shit like that."

Chad rolls his eyes and puts out his cigarette.

"Okay, if we win. Would you?"

Jensen just shrugs. He'd be lying if he said he hadn't thought about it, but he's not sure if he wants to go back to D.C.

"Haven't really thought about it." He puts out his cigarette, and tosses the butt into the empty water bottle he brought outside with him.

"Yeah, yeah, you big lying liar."

Jensen punches him in the arm as they both go back inside. As they walk back over to Jared, Jensen can see Misha hanging up his phone.

"Seriously, would a shower kill you, Jared?" Misha rubs his eyes sleepily as Jared flips him off.

"I've been a little busy."

Misha eyes him warily.

"Yeah, well, I can smell you over here."

Jared raises his arm towards his face and sniffs a little before getting up and sitting down in Misha's lap.

"I smell fabulous, thank you very much And I'm very busy and important and didn't have time for a shower this morning."

Misha pushes him onto the floor as Jensen and Chad laugh at them.

"I'm busy and important. I took the time to shower this morning."

"Seriously, Jay, you smell pretty rip." Chad makes a face as Jared flops down into a chair.

Jared glares at all of them. "You know, I can just fire all of you."

"I didn't even say anything!" Jensen says.

Jared gives him a look. "You were thinking about it, though."

Misha's phone rings, and he looks at the display, and groans before answering it.

"Yeah...ok...mmhm...thank you!" Misha turns to them, grinning.

"Polls are closing in ten minutes. CNN is gonna start calling this thing."

***

Jensen can barely believe it when they actually win.

It's late. Really late. The Governor's speech rivals his speech from the convention, and he's in a corner with his wife, drinking and celebrating their big win. Jensen is with Chad and Danneel, comparing their election night bets.

"There's no way they get sixty seats."

"I dunno, Jensen. It's getting close." Jensen takes a sip of his beer as Danneel refreshes the webpage.

"Okay, maybe fifty eight. But Minnesota? Alaska? There's no way you're picking up those two seats."

Chad rolls his eyes. "Didn't you see the polling? Your guy is down by five points."

Jensen throws a piece of paper at Chad, who just bats it out of the way.

"Just give it up already. You know you lost." Danneel grins at Jensen as she pushes her laptop closed and puts it on the table between them.

"We'll see who's right." Jensen sticks his tongue out at her before draining his beer. He spots Jared out of the corner of his eye and watches as he walks outside. "I'm gonna go get another beer." He jumps up out of his seat and rushes away before Chad or Danneel can say anything.

He's been building up his courage for this moment for weeks. He's drunk enough that he can blame his word vomit on the booze if Jared doesn't react well.

"Hey, Jared."

Jared's leaning against the wall, one of his feet propped up against the side. He changed out of his suit into jeans and a t-shirt, the neck of the shirt stretched out, exposing his collarbone. His eyes are closed, but they open when Jensen speaks.

"Hey."

Jensen leans against the wall next to Jared, brushing his arm against Jared's.

"Crazy night, huh?"

Jared laughs a little. "I can't wait to get some sleep."

Jensen nods and closes his eyes. His hand brushes against Jared's, and he jerks his hand back. He clenches his fingers once before brushing his hand against Jared's again. Jared pushes away from the wall.

"What are you doing?"

Jensen looks away and shrugs.

"What happened last time? I'm sorry."

Jared just stares at Jensen.

"You really want to talk about this now?" Jared takes a step closer. "That was like over a year ago. I'm over it."
Jensen nods and reaches out to touch Jared. Jared sucks in a breath when Jensen's hand brushes his stomach and takes another step closer.

"I know." Jared's standing right in front of him now, and Jensen rests his hand on the waist of Jared's jeans. Jared starts to reach up, but hesitates for a moment. Jensen bites at his bottom lip, and Jared places his hand flat against the wall next to Jensen's head.

"Okay." Jared leans down and presses his mouth against Jensen's. Jensen lets out a little noise before tightening his grip on Jared's waist. Jared's hand rests on Jensen's jaw, his thumb stroking against his skin. Jensen opens his mouth and slips a leg between Jared's and Jared slides his tongue against Jensen's.

It's exactly like Jensen remembers. Jared tastes like beer, and he's flushed and sweaty, but it's perfect. It's like they've been doing this every day, like it hasn't been over a year since this last happened.

They make out against the wall for a long time until the door leading outside slams against the wall, making them fly apart.

"What's up, motherfuckers?" Chad has a beer in his hand and his walk is unsteady. "We need more booze." He leans heavily against the wall next to Jensen. He can smell the beer, and he glances at Jared, who's grinning at Chad.

"Then let's get some booze."

***

"Jaaaaaared!" Chad screeches.

The night has finally wound down and now it's just the senior staff piled into Jared's hotel room. Misha and Danneel have taken over the couch and Jensen's pretty sure Danneel's about to get what she's been wanting through the whole campaign. Jensen's sitting beside Chad and Aldis, and since they kissed earlier, Jared has been throwing him looks the whole night.

Everyone starts laughing and Jared pulls himself out of his chair unsteadily, beer in hand. He holds his hands up, looking serious and everyone settles down.

"I propose..." Jared belches.

"Jared Padalecki, campaign manager." Misha waves his hand towards Jared. "It's his way with words that got him this far," Misha says and Danneel giggles against his neck.

"Shut the fuck up, can't you see the man is tryin' to say something?" Chad says, glaring at Misha.

"Thank you! I propose a toast." Jared raises his beer. "To the President-Elect, because otherwise we'd all be unemployed."
Everyone laughs but takes a drink.

"To Chad, because he's a cheap motherfucker."

Even more laughter this time and Jensen drains his beer, not quite ready to hear what Jared says next.

"And to Jensen." Jared's quiet for a moment and meets Jensen's gaze. "Because he's one mean sonabitch, but we couldn't have done it without you." There's agreement around the room and Jensen watches Jared take a drink.

Jared doesn't take his eyes off of Jensen for the rest of the night. Jensen's in the middle of arguing with Aldis over the returns from the West Coast when Danneel and Misha leave quietly. Jensen grins at her as they leave and Danneel flips him off as the door shuts behind her. He risks a glance at Jared, who looks amused. Jared gets up from where he's flopped out on his bed and crowds onto the couch next to Jensen.

"Who won?" Jared asks, resting his arm against the back of the couch. The senior staff had a running poll on Congressional seats and Chad and Jensen were tied for bets before the West Coast polls were closed.

Jensen groans and rubs his hand across his face while Aldis laughs at him. They're both stupidly drunk and now Jared's sitting next to him, smelling and looking so fucking good.

"Chad won," Aldis says.

Chad raises his arms in victory and spills his beer on the floor.

"Victor and champion. The Republicans can go fuck themselves!" he yells.

"One fucking seat!" Jensen croaks.

"You can't win 'em all, Ackles," Jared says, patting his back. Chad's still parading around the room with a shot glass. "What'd you miss?"

"Alaska." Jensen turns to look at Jared. "I can't believe he beat me out."

Jared smirks and glances around the room. He leans down to whisper in Jensen's ear. "I didn't want to tell you this, but Chad? He always wins. He's like, the fucking master at this shit."

Jensen groans and buries his face in Jared's neck. He can feel Jared's hand sink into his hair and he can't help but grin and sit back. Jared's smirking and Jensen can feel the couch shift as Aldis gets up and ushers Chad out of the room.
Chad yells, "Don't have too much fun, you fuckers!" before Aldis shoves him out of Jared's room. It reeks of booze but Jensen couldn't give a shit because Jared's sitting right there and he just wants to kiss him.

So he does.

Jensen slides his hands into Jared's hair and kisses him. Jared moans and pushes him down on the couch, his back crinkling against papers and napkins. He hitches his hips up and Jared presses him into the couch. Jensen deepens the kiss and tastes tequila and beer and chips. Jared's hands slide down to grab Jensen's hips and he moves his hips to rub against Jared's, their cocks rubbing together.

"Fuck, Jensen," Jared gasps and sits up. "Fuck, not...not on the fucking couch." He sits up and runs a hand through his hair. He pulls Jensen towards the bed and they both stumble, falling onto the bed. Jared pushes the empty cups off the bed and moves backward until they're at the headboard. He pulls Jensen into his lap and they're kissing again, Jared's hands firm on his ass. Jensen pushes his hand down on Jared's crotch and Jared pushes his hips up into Jensen's hand. He unbuttons Jared's jeans and Jared helps him push them down and off.

He's got Jared's boxers off and a hand wrapped around his cock in the next minute, stroking him sloppily as they kiss. It's a little awkward, and Jensen's got no rhythm because he's so goddamn drunk. But Jared's moaning and pushing up into Jensen's fist.

"You got..." Jensen starts. Jared nods towards his bag, and Jensen rolls off the bed, padding towards Jared's bag. He finds what he needs quickly, refusing want to think about who Jared's slept with. He stumbles back to the bed, the room spinning a little. Jared's completely naked now. He smirks at Jensen and grabs his dick, stroking once and arching into his hand.

"Fucking hell, Jared." Jensen clambers up to Jared and pulls his shirt off. Jared helps him push his jeans off and then they're both naked, rubbing against each other. Jared's hard and leaking against his thigh and Jensen just wants Jared so fucking badly. He lubes his fingers up and Jared spreads his legs and moans.

He's got two fingers inside of Jared, twisting and stretching him and getting lube all over the goddamn sheets. Jared's thrusting down on his fingers and moaning like crazy, begging Jensen to fuck him and Jensen's never been able to resist that. He pulls the condom on with shaky hands and then he's sliding inside of Jared.

"Fuckin' missed this," Jared slurs and bucks up into Jensen.

"Me too," Jensen groans and thrusts into Jared, trying to find the right rhythm. It doesn't take long before Jared's bucking against him and begging for more. Jensen rests his hands on either side of Jared's head and fucks into him, fast and hard.
It's so fucking good and neither one of them last very long. Jensen can feel his orgasm building and he reaches down to jerk Jared off in time with his thrusts. Jared comes all over his hand and Jensen follows.

He presses his face into Jared's neck and pulls out of Jared slowly. Jared keens and Jensen rubs a hand down his side as he slides out completely. He flops down onto the bed next to Jared, resting his hand on Jared's stomach. Jared blinks sleepily at him and Jensen pulls the condom off and throws it in the trash. Jared turns and snuggles close to him and that's the last thing Jensen remembers before he falls asleep.

***

Jensen wakes up the next morning and groans. He's on his stomach, and he rolls over, his mouth dry and stale. His head is pounding, and when he rubs his hands over his eyes to block out the sun, he hits something solid next to him. He opens one eye and looks over. Jared's out cold, his hair falling down across his eyes, his mouth open as he sleeps.

Jared's not wearing a shirt. Neither is Jensen.

"Uhh..." Jensen lifts the covers and looks down and bits and pieces of the night before start to come back to him.

They fucked.

Next to him, Jared starts to wake up, groaning as he turns over.

"Time issit?" He rubs a hand over his face, eyes squinting in the sun.

"No idea." Jensen swallows and meets Jared's eyes. Jared isn't freaking out. Jared looks over at the clock on the table next to the bed and groans.

"Need more sleep." Jensen nods, and Jared turns back around to face him. His eyes close, and he slips off to sleep soon after. Jensen watches him sleep for a few minutes before he starts to drift off himself.

Jensen wakes up a few hours later. He can hear the shower running in the bathroom. He looks over at the clock and falls back down onto the bed. He pulls the covers over his head and groans.

When he hears the bathroom door open, he pulls the blankets off his head. Jared's wearing jeans and a t-shirt, his feet bare as he towel dries his hair. He meets Jensen's gaze and smiles softly.

"What's up?" Jensen picks at the blanket and looks down. He can hear Jared sigh and he sits down at the end of the bed. "Look, Jensen. We were just...we were drunk and excited. It doesn't have to mean anything."

"Right." Jensen doesn't meet his gaze, just stares at the blanket covering him.

"Nothing's changed since last time. We can't do this again." Jensen just nods. He wants to say that something has changed, that everything is different now and that he can do it this time. He doesn't say any of that and instead just gives Jared an awkward smile.

"Chad called. Wanna go meet him for dinner?" Jared asks, changing the subject.

"Yeah, sure." Jensen slides out of the bed and pulls his jeans on.

"You okay?" Jensen forces a smile and nods. Last night didn't mean anything to Jared. He fucked up his one chance. Tomorrow he's on a plane back to Dallas, and he's not ready to leave.

Chapter Text

Jensen's not nervous. Really. It's been a week since the election. He slept for most of it and now he feels refreshed for the first time in a year and a half. He still hasn't heard from anyone. Well, he's heard from Chad, who called him the day after the election to make sure he got home alive.

But Jared hasn't called.

Jensen didn't really expect anything. They'd managed to become friends over the campaign, but he was probably pushing it by expecting Jared to forget everything that happened. And Jensen's too chickenshit to ask Jared to take him back. To risk everything just to be with him.

He tries to keep busy. He cleans his apartment, does about a hundred loads of laundry, and buys groceries. He mainlines Scrubs, trying to avoid the subject of politics all together.

All that goes out the window when Jared finally calls him. It's almost two weeks after the election.

"The Governor wants to meet with you. Can you get here tomorrow?"

Jensen lets out a sigh of relief. "I'll be there." He's on a plane a few hours later, carrying only a duffle with clothes for two days.

***

"Thanks for flying out so fast." Jensen shakes the President Elect's hand, grinning widely.

"It's no problem, sir. How's the transition going?" The President-Elect gestures towards an empty chair, and they both sit. Jared's already sitting next to the President-Elect, a wide stack of papers in front of him. Jensen gives him a nervous smile, and Jared just sits there. Awesome.

"Very good, thank you." The President-Elect glances at Jared, who just nods, before turning back to face Jensen. "I'd like you to join my staff. As a Special Assistant to the President."

"What?" Jensen can hear a dull ringing in his ear.

"I'd like you to join my administration."

Jensen opens and closes his mouth a few times. This is unexpected. The President-Elect looks amused. Jensen risks a glance at Jared, who is smiling softly.

"I'd...I'd be honored, sir. Thank you." Jensen shakes his hand again, and the President-Elect grins broadly.

"Fantastic." Jared reaches over to shake Jensen's hand as well and nods at him.

***

It turns out that transition is a bad time to try to fix his personal life.

Jared's avoiding him for anything but work and Jensen has way too much to get done to stress about it. He has two months to find a decent apartment in D.C., he has to figure out what to do with his place in Dallas, see his family and figure out how to get Jared to talk to him beyond what he has to for work.

Taking care of his apartment in Dallas is easy. Finding a place in D.C. is a little harder. However, it turns out that by turning his life upside down and working for the biggest law firm in Dallas means he has enough money put away to get a decent place while he tries to live on a government salary for the next four years. It's not as nice as the place he had with Joanna, but it's better than the first place he lived with Chris (which was so bad that no one besides Chris or Jensen ever set foot in the place).

He spends a week at home before packing up his belongings and going back to D.C.

Over a year and a half ago he swore he'd never go back to D.C., and now he's living there again. He was back in D.C. during the campaign for meetings with the DNC, but they had kept their campaign headquarters in Denver, so he hadn't been back too often. Now he's going to be living here again full time and it's weird. He walks past the same coffee place he used to frequent, past the restaurant he and Joanna went to on their first date and the bar where he spent most of his weekends.
It's harder than he thought it'd be, to be back the same place he equally loves and hates.

The clusterfuck of organizing the transition has just started and Jensen spends more time in the office than he does in his apartment. There's not really time for him to freak out about the fact that Jared's acting awkward and weird again. Jared makes a point to never end up alone in a room with him, which makes their job that much harder.

By now, Jensen should know better when to keep his dick in his goddamn pants.

***

Chad throws a party after New Years. He's going to be one of the most powerful men in the country in another few weeks and yet Chad still can't resist an excuse to drink.

Not that Jensen blames him.

"We need to celebrate, get some beers, maybe some girls...well, not for you. Or for me actually. Okay, just the booze then."

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Jensen frowns down into his cup of mixed...well, he thinks it's punch and rum. Possibly. He sniffs it and shrugs, before taking one long gulp

"I don't know about you, but I need to get shitfaced before I sit through another meeting with the Majority Leader. Fuckin' Christ, was he always that bad?" Chad grimaces and throws back a shot.

Jensen winces. "God, yes. Chris used to..." Jensen swallows and sets his cup down on the table.

Chad squints at him and passes him a shot glass. "Bottoms up."

Jensen takes it and throws back the shot, wincing a little bit as the tequila hits. He spots Jared across the room, talking to Misha and Sophia.

Jared hasn't said a word to him all night.

"Did you see that article in the New York Times this morning?" Danneel grabs a fresh beer and leans against the sofa. She hands the bottle to Jensen, and he pops the cap off with his ring before handing it back to her.

"No shop talk, Harris. I don't care what the New York Times said or what's all over DailyKos. I just want to get drunk. If I happen to get laid, that'd be good, too. I'm not picky," Chad says as he pours another set of shots.

Danneel rolls her eyes. "It amazes me that you ever made it this far in life."

"You're both annoying the fuck out of me, you know that?" Jensen scowls and steals Danneel's beer. She slaps his head and takes the bottle back.

"Don't steal my beer." She takes a long drink. "And Jensen, you should be at least a little bit worried about what was in the Times today."

"Blah blah, I'm a dick, blah blah, Jared and I are fighting again, blah blah." Jensen waves his hands. "I read it, cried over my Corn Flakes and sat through a day of meetings. With Democrats. Who hate me. So to answer your question, I did see the article in the Times this morning. And I've been trying to forget it all day. Thanks for bringing it up."

Danneel winces and rubs his back. "Sorry, I just thought..."

"Okay, enough of this shit. You guys are bringing me down." Chad grabs two beers and flips them off. "I'm gonna find someone to talk to who isn't a whiney bastard."

Jensen scowls as Chad walks away. Danneel rests her head on his shoulder and passes him her beer. She doesn't say anything for a few minutes and Jensen watches Jared talk to Misha, hands waving wildly as he talks.

"It'll get better. At least you're not really fighting this time."

Jensen snorts and takes a sip of beer, rubbing his thumb against the label. They aren't fighting, it's true. It's just awkward as fuck.

Jared glances across the room and meets his gaze. Jensen swallows and smiles softly at Jared. Jared nods at Jensen and turns back to Misha. Jensen stares down at his beer and takes another sip, draining the bottle. He grabs two more and hands one over to Danneel.

"Transition sucks," Jensen sighs.

Danneel laughs against his shoulder. "It's all downhill from here," she says.

"At least I get my own office. With a window and everything."

"How many steps from the Oval?" Danneel sits up and grins at him.

"Um, I don't know." Jensen shifts his gaze away from her and takes a sip of beer.

"Bullshit," Danneel says, laughing.

It's quiet for a minute before Jensen mumbles, "Twenty steps'.

Danneel throws her head back as she laughs. Jensen grins at her and spots Jared watching them from across the room, a soft smile on his face.

Yeah, it'll get better.

***

It's a combination of Danneel and Jared that forces him into going to the Inauguration Balls. Jensen doesn't want to go at all. But Jared had given him a shy smile and ducked his head and Jensen felt his resistance fall a little.

And then Danneel had threatened him with the Secret Service and he's pretty sure there's one or two of them that wouldn't mind doing her a favor.

So, now he's standing in the middle of a ballroom and wearing a stupid tux. Danneel ditched him an hour ago when she pulled Misha out on the dance floor and Chad had wandered off with Sophia right after that. Jensen's stuck alone drinking champagne and passing on about fifteen different offers to dance. He feels a little pathetic.

It's been a long transition. He's supposed to be enjoying this. It's his dream job, working for someone he actually believes in. He's too busy thinking about Jared and all the fucking awkward tension between them. He never told Danneel about what happened on Election Night but she keeps giving him looks whenever he and Jared start bickering in the middle of meetings.

The truth is, Jensen is stupidly in love with Jared.

It's something he pushed down and ignored for a long fucking time. He's so fucking in love with the guy that Jensen's willing to risk everything to be with him. He never felt this way about Joanna. It's the reason he gave into that kiss on Jared's couch in his shitty D.C. apartment so long ago.

And Jared wants nothing beyond friendship with Jensen.

"Isn't this supposed to be fun?" Danneel asks, hip checking Jensen as she comes up next to him.

His champagne almost spills out of his glass and he glares at her before draining the glass. "I am having fun."

Danneel laughs at him and plucks the empty glass out of his hand and gives him a fresh glass. The waiter eyes her not too subtly but Jensen just raises his eyebrow at the kid and he scampers off.

"Where's Misha?"

Danneel honest to God flushes and Jensen pokes her side. She slaps his hand and steals his champagne.

"Don't change the subject." She takes a healthy sip of champagne and hands the glass back to him. "You need to quit pouting in the corner."

"I'm not pouting." Except he kind of is pouting in the corner.

"Right, well, this is the last time we'll get to relax for like, a long fucking time. So drink more and go ask Jared to dance."

Jensen chokes on his champagne and Chad pushes him as he walks up from behind him.

"Seriously, can't you people greet anyone in a nonviolent way?" Jensen wipes the champagne off his tux and places the glass on a tray as a waiter walks by. He frowns when the guy gives him a once over and a flirty grin.

"Don't want the rest of the GOP to get the wrong idea. You let one guy float by and the rest think they can dick you around," Chad says through a mouthful of crackers. He gets crumbs all over his tux.

"I'm pretty sure the Minority Leader got the picture last week, Chad. I think he went back and cried in his office." Jensen resists the urge to roll his eyes.

"That was fuckin' sweet. It's been awhile since I've made a Republican cry. I thought I might be a little rusty..."

"Yeah, now I have to sit through meetings with the guy. He's still pissed about the whole..." Jensen waves his hand.

"The whole leaving the party and working for a Democrat thing?" Danneel finishes.

"Look, as fascinating as this whole conversation is..." Chad wipes his hands on his pants.

"Right. Jensen, pouting in the corner while Jared works the room is just pathetic." Danneel waves her hand. "And whatever the hell happened on Election Day, can you just like...I don't know."

"Well said, Harris. No wonder we hired you to speak for the President of the United States." Chad rolls his eyes.

Jensen holds up his hands in front of him. "Seriously, you're both driving me crazy. I'm just gonna leave before I hurt someone and get taken away by the Secret Service."

"Mmm, could be worth it. You could take one home! Who'd you pick? I'd go with Jason..." Danneel stares dreamily across the room. She shakes her head. "We're supposed to be having fun tonight. I hate watching you stand here all by yourself being all cranky."

Jensen avoids her eyes and glances around the room. He's spent the whole night trying not to watch one person but his gaze keeps drifting over to him.

Jared's just as exhausted as Jensen is but he looks a million times better than Jensen does. He's all tuxed out, his hair curling against his neck and that same giddy smile on his face, dimples out in full force. Jared's deep in conversation with the Speaker but he looks up and meets Jensen's gaze. His mouth widens a bit and Jensen smiles back at him nervously. Jared smiles back before turning his attention back to the Speaker.

"Christ, you're pathetic, Ackles," Chad mutters and brings an arm up to rest on Jensen's shoulder.

"I know." Jensen swallows.

They stand there for a minute, watching the room. Danneel rests her hand on his arm and Jensen lets himself watch Jared unabashedly. Jared keeps glancing over at him and Jensen can feel his face flushing every time Jared looks over. He finally excuses himself from his conversation with the Speaker and makes his way over to them. Jared stops and talks to a few people, his hands shoved in his pockets. He grabs a couple of champagne glasses on his way over and stops in front of them.

"Are we plotting a war against a small country or just trying to figure out how to make another member of the GOP cry themselves to sleep tonight?" Jared passes the glass around.

"I'm pretty sure they'll do that without any help from me," Chad says. He takes a long sip from his champagne. "Not that I'm not gonna try anyway..."

Jared smirks as he takes a sip from his own glass. Jensen watches as Jared licks his lips and flushes when Jared meets his gaze. Jared meets his gaze and Jensen swallows nervously.

"Can you guys excuse us for a minute?" Jared asks.

Chad and Danneel make a hasty escape and Jared glances around the room. He pulls Jensen out of the ballroom and Jensen looks backwards and shrugs at Danneel before following Jared out into the hallway. Jared glances around, frowns, and pulls Jensen into a deserted corner.

Jensen rubs the back of his neck, leaning against the wall. "Look, is it okay if I take off? I know it kinda looks bad, but man, I'm so fuckin' tired."

Jared doesn't say anything for a minute and just looks at Jensen, his gaze flickering from Jensen's eyes to his mouth and down to his neck. Jensen swallows nervously and pulls at his tie.

"Yeah…" Jared starts. He runs a hand through his hair and glances down the hallway again.

"So, it's okay if..."
Jared rests a hand on Jensen's shoulder, effectively silencing him. Jared rubs his thumb along the seam of Jensen's jacket and then slides his hand to Jensen's neck.

"Jared..." Jensen starts and Jared leans closer, his other hand resting on Jensen's waist.

"Been driving me crazy all night..." Jared murmurs. His thumb strokes Jensen's neck.

"How much champagne did you drink?" He can't take another drunken hookup followed by another three months of pretending it never happened.

"I'm not drunk."

"We're not doing this again." Jensen grabs Jared's hands and pulls them away.

"I think…you've been waiting for me to say something for ages, haven't you? And I've been waiting for you to say something."
Jensen just shrugs. He loosens his tie a little and slips his hands into his pockets.

"If it's...if you don't want that anymore, it's okay. I understand, Jared. I just...we can be friends, right?"

Jared grabs the lapels of Jensen's jacket and pulls Jensen towards him. Jared kisses him, opening his mouth, and Jensen slides his tongue against Jared's. Jensen's hands slide around Jared's back as Jared presses him against the wall. Jared's trying to pull Jensen closer, sliding one hand up to Jensen's face, tilting his head to deepen the kiss. Jensen has a little trouble breathing when Jared pulls back to press his forehead against Jensen's.

"That's fighting dirty, Padalecki."

Jensen can't help himself and Jared hums a little as Jensen leans up on his toes. Jared meets him halfway and their mouths press together softly. Jared lets out a soft noise before pressing Jensen against the wall and Jensen slides his hands into Jared's hair as he deepens the kiss. Jared's hands are warm on his hips, fingers teasing his waistband. Jensen's pressed against the wall, Jared flushed against him and he can feel Jared's cock against his leg.

Just when Jensen's starting to forget where he is and grinds against Jared, someone makes an "eh-em" noise in their throat. They pull apart and Jensen flushes when he sees a Secret Service guy standing a few feet away.

"There are reporters around boys. You might not want to do that here." The guy smirks at the two of them and nods down the hallway.

Jensen sneaks a look at Jared and sees that his face is just as red as Jensen's feels. Jared nods and they pull away from the wall, straightening out their clothes. Jared meets his gaze and Jensen can't help but start laughing. Jared rolls his eyes and grabs Jensen's hand, quieting his laughter.

"Can we just...okay, I'm sort of stupidly in love with you. And I've tried to just move on and I can't. And you still drive me fuckin' insane most of the time."

Jared leans down and presses his forehead against Jensen's and takes a deep breath.

"I wanted to be so pissed at you and then you just showed up lookin' all hopeful..." He leans back.

"I'm kind of stupidly in love with you, too," Jensen blurts out. "And that whole year I was in Dallas, all I could think about was how much I fucked everything up and how I wanted to fix it."

Jared kisses him again and Jensen pulls away before it can get too far.

"I was a dick for leaving like that. I'm sorry."

Jared shrugs. "I'm sorry, too. I think we should try this again. For real."

Jensen nods and threads their fingers together. Jared kisses their entwined fingers before letting go and sliding his arm around Jensen's shoulder.

"I wanna dance."

Jensen groans and tries to pull away from Jared as they walk down the hallway together. "No fuckin' way."

"You stood around and pouted all night. I want one dance." Jared pulls him closer. "I wanna make all those girls jealous."

Jensen resists rolling his eyes. "I think I saw Buchanan walking around earlier. You just wanna get him all pissed off so he'll go on Maddow's show tomorrow night and throw a shit fit."

Jared pulls him into the ballroom and towards the dance floor.

"Dude, she already mentioned me for two nights in a row, I'm goin' for number three."

Jensen's given up fighting and gives into Jared's request for one stupid dance. They fumble for a minute, hands resting awkwardly and Jared steps on his foot before Jared finally lets him lead. Jensen's not looking around the room, but why would he when Jared's in front of him looking amazing and gorgeous.

"Should I be jealous? Do I need to go and have a chat with her?" Jensen raises an eyebrow.

Jared chuckles and pulls him closer. "Nah, I'm all yours."

Jensen swallows and pulls Jared down for a quick kiss.

"Yeah, all yours."

THE END