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The Extraordinary Experiences of an Unusual Sidekick In the City

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beginning

Archetype approached the big gothic mansion on the hill and attempted not to roll his eyes. The huge monstrosity did not belong in the small town it overlooked, but Michael Rosenbaum had moved into the town three years ago and the thing had virtually sprouted overnight.

It was a looming piece of architecture with arches and columns and something that Archetype assumed was a buttress in the east wing, because apparently one man alone needed multiple wings. Archetype had no idea what one man needed with 12,000 square feet. There was something so over the top about it; it had to be owed by a Supervillian.

Technically Archetype wasn’t supposed to be there.

Archetype was a Class Two Super, meaning he was a Sidekick Class. Sidekicks were never supposed to patrol alone. Most sidekicks were fairly weak. However, Archetype’s classification was due to inconstancy of power, not because of strength. His ability copied other Super’s powers and kept them in a cache for use later, his restriction to Class Two was due to the fact that he never knew when he would get a power and which one he would have at any given time.

He had woken up from a nap tonight with the full-fledged power to walk through walls. No Class One had been available, but he was not about to waste this opportunity to spy on Michel Rosenbaum’s heavily secured mansion. He thought he was more than capable on doing some recon on his own.

Archetype justified his actions with the fact that he currently had the power of a Class One. This wasn’t the first time he had done something like this. He had grown up in this town, knew it like the back of his hand, as the hometown son he was given some leeway. Command always just looked the other way.

What he found was and wasn’t what he was looking for.

The last thing he thought he would find when he slunk into the town’s resident Superevil almost unsightly mansion was his boyfriend.

Well, sort of boyfriend.

It was Jared Padalecki’s boyfriend, so it was the same difference. Archetype was born Jared Padalecki, just that sometimes he just threw on his black Kevlar Spandex to fight the Superevils of the world. Things did get complicated in the world of secret identities and super powers, but even with all the confusion about dual lives, it did not even occur to Jared that what he would find sneaking into the big mansion on the hill was his boyfriend fucking the Superevil that had been putting their town and people in peril for the last three years.

There, on Michael Rosenbaum’s dining room table, was his boyfriend, half in his suit, half out of it. His boyfriend was half in Michel Rosenbaum and half out of him, and then in again. Michael Rosenbaum was half in the suit of Dr. Demento and half out.

There was a sheen of sweat and many satisfied groans to tell just how much this moment was being appreciated by both parties.

His first thought was that Tommy never screwed him in costume. Tommy hated defiling anything but their bed. Tommy didn’t even particularly seem to enjoy sex. But here he was in Michael Rosenbaum’s house, on Michael Rosenbaum’s mahogany oak table, fucking Michael Rosenbaum, who also seemed to be Dr. Demento.

His perfect partner with the perfect power, his perfect boyfriend with the perfect manscaping didn’t even realize that someone else had entered the room; he was just that into what he was doing.

“Pretty piss poor awareness of your surroundings,” Jared said dryly.

They both scrambled to face him in their partially clothed states, but it was Dr. Demento who jumped in front of the invulnerable Superman.

“He didn’t go evil,” Dr. Demento said in a rush, holding up his hands, as if they could block anything. “I’m going good for him and we’re moving in together.”

Jared just wanted to cry.

They had no idea that Tommy’s boyfriend’s heart was in front of them and breaking a little, thinking of all the kitchen things that Tommy and Jared had bought for their townhouse, things that now apparently needed to be divided up.

Jared swallowed and turned to leave, knowing that the time that it took them to get dressed and figure out their plan would give him more than enough time to get away.

He didn’t have any words. This wasn’t addressed in the handbook, nothing like this was thought about. They all knew what to do when your partner went evil, what to do when faced with an Evil Villain. There were epic chapters about not falling for Evil and signs that you may be going evil because you fell for evil.

Someone going Hero without looking for Redemption, someone who was going Hero for your real life boyfriend, well Jared didn’t know what to do with any of it.

He slunk into the shadows, as much as his six four frame would allow him, and hightailed it to Headquarters.

Command would be there. Jared had known Command, in all his incarnations, most his life. Mr. Morgan had been his teacher in high school. The Jared had found out that Mr. Morgan was a super named Ghost. Eventually they had become partners, before he had become lead of the region and taken the name that all district leaders had – Command, and in the between times Jeffrey Dean was occasionally a lover.

Strangely enough, that relationship was one of the things that wasn’t complicated in Jared Padalecki’s life.

Jared entered Headquarters through the heavy oak doors that never ceased to intimidate everyone. The house overall was huge and imposing, with stained wood and flowing curtains and very little furniture. The overall effect was dark and brooding. It was the kind of house that one always expected the eyes of paintings to be following them.

Jared strode into the library, stripped off his mask, went to the decanter and took a glass from the side table. He was not a whiskey drinker so his coughing as the liquid went down wasn’t a terrible shock to either him or Jeff. Jared turned a few colors as he coughed at the liquid’s burn. Jeff seemed to be trying to hide his amusement.

“Bad night?” Jeff asked, sitting by the fire in the high backed chair, reading a book. He was wearing black and gold. Back in the day his suit was skin tight, but he had said that clingy clothes were a young man’s game. He had retired that suit. Now he looked no less fit, but his outfit was more stylized and formal.

Jared wiped away some of the splatter of whiskey that had escaped his ill-advised chug.

“Superman is fucking Dr. Demento, or maybe Tommy is fucking Mike, or both,” Jared rasped out, throat feeling like it was still on fire.

Jeff’s only reaction was to raise an eyebrow. “Do I need to put in a report?”

“No,” Jared spat out. “The now good Doctor will probably be giving you a call tomorrow, asking to be brought in on the side of good.”

Jeff closed his book and stood up. “Are you serious?”

“Have you seen Tommy?” Jared asked. “I’d pick his side for that ass.”

Jeff paused and looked at Jared, eyebrows raised.

“What?” Jared asked, very frustrated.

“You’re a good kid,” Jeff said slowly. “I liked you before I knew what you were. Even as a freshmen in high school, well after your surly period, you were a good kid, always attracted people to you. I know that you were disappointed that you were only a Class Two Super, but you bore it well.”

Jared sulked, not really in the mood to bear anything well.

“But you make really terrible personal choices,” Jeff continued. “I’ve watched you bounce from Superboyfriend to Superboyfriend, you stay in this town and hope to learn whatever you can from whatever happens to be here.”

Jared just stood there, impassively.

“Now I love you like…” Jeff trailed off because most of the ways that he could say something like that would be weird in some kind of context. “Well I love you, all of you, in many ways.”

Jared shifted not knowing how to take that. “Um, thanks? Love you too?”

“You need to get the fuck out of this town,” Jeff said gruffly.

Jared just looked at him, really not knowing how to take that one either.

Jeff continued. “Kid, you have an ability that can take on any power that you run into. Sure you never can control when you get the power, but you can be so much. Now we get a lot of traffic from the Super set here in this town, it is like a cosmic joke how busy you Heroes are, but seriously Jared, you need to get out there. I have no idea why you would stay here.”

Jared looked down at the ground. “I’m a Sidekick, Jeff.”

“So?” Jeff asked.

Jared looked up defiantly. “In the City, they wouldn’t let me just run around loose. In the City, I’d always be the lesser part of a pair.”

Jeff snorted. “You’re a Class Two not because of your strength or abilities. You are a Class Two because you have no control on your power, but that has never put you at a disadvantage. You’ve done the work of three Class Ones.”

Jared walked to the window and looked out at the familiar town. “Yeah, I’ve lost more partners that way. They hate it when their little Sidekick saves their asses, not to mention the boyfriend’s. I feel like I don’t fit anywhere. So what’s the point? I might as well be somewhere familiar.”

“I don’t recall you running into a Seer,” Jeff said.

Jared blinked, wishing he could read minds at this moment because Jeff was being a little hard to follow. “I haven’t.”

“Well then stop pretending that you know what is going to happen in the future,” Jeff told him. “You’re young, take some chances, go make a few mistakes.”

Jared smiled in spite of himself, dimples coming out sweetly. “Oh I’ve made some mistakes. The most recent, Tommy, comes to mind.”

Jeff sighed. “That’s is why you need to get out. The City has a shortage of Sidekicks, most of them think like you and are staying in the more rural areas. The City is taking applications. I can talk to Command there, I’m sure you can Register. It would be good for you to get out.”

Jared bit his lip.

Jeff just stared at him.

“What if...” Jared asked.

“Then you come back here,” Jeff interrupted. “This can always be your home, but Jared, on your good days you have some pretty scary power and on your best days, I just pray that you don’t try to take over the world. If you stay here and don’t see what is out there, I’m pretty sure there is a great chance that you will go Evil or you will get all crazy hermit, like Kripke up on the hill who likes to throw lightning bolts at kids butts when they get too close.”

“I like Eric,” Jared informed him.

“You like everybody,” Jeff told him. “If it doesn’t work out in the City then I will move you into the cave next to him, but you keep finding another reason to stay. Your last reason is gone, apparently saving the world from evil with his dick, so maybe it is time for you move on and get away from this tiny small town drama.”

Jared fiddled with the edge of a curtain.

“Everybody should take the chance to see somewhere else,” Jeff said softly. “You don’t grow by standing still.”

Jared stared out of the window to the town below, but here, at least, he had something familiar around him when his power waned and ebbed.

Then he thought about his little townhouse that he was living in with Tommy. He had absolutely no desire to go back ever again.

“Give me the application,” Jared said with certainty.

**

The last time that Jared had any control over anything was when he was twelve. On the verge of adolescence, he had been a baby faced and short and chubby. He had a girlfriend who he held hands with, his parents brought him to church on Sundays, and his hair was stick straight.

It felt like he had woken up one day and everything had changed.

His body started growing in all directions, his voice started cracking into deeper timbres, and his hair was a lost cause.

Inside, his turmoil was a lot worse.

He didn’t want to hold hands with Sally Cartwright any more, he really, really wanted to make out with Kyle, the kid in the ripped clothes and eyeliner who was always falling asleep in classes because he went out with his brother to clubs at night.

Also, Jared began to glean that he had superpowers.

He had never really wanted them, unlike most kids. He had never really gotten a thrill out of dressing up and pretending to thwart or be bad guys.

But when he woke up shortly after the breaking voice and before the hair, there they were.

At the most embarrassing times his powers would cause mayhem, never destruction, and if it was possible they just made him all the more awkward.

He was a little moody while he tried to figure it out. His parents were fed up, his teachers were dismayed, and only Kyle seemed to be impressed.

Finally, at thirteen he stole a black wet suit from a diving store and presented himself to the old Command.

Things had never again been normal or under control. His powers, his heart and his hair all seemed to be irrational. Jared seemed to be a lightning rod for trouble. Fortunately his power seemed to get him out of most of it. His hair remained openly defiant.

At twenty-three he was an EMT by day and a Class Two Super by night, like most Supers he didn’t need much sleep. He had dated a string of Supers who were pretty bad at relationships. His experience was that none of them really could handle the dual life. In fact, most of them didn’t seem to realize that they were leading a dual life with the same guy. It was awkward and confusing.

Kyle, his first love, his first Superboyfriend, his first nemesis, had a theory about the underlying ability of Supers to remain anonymous. He theorized that as long as one didn’t call too much attention to themselves, nobody would actually go looking any deeper than the suit. Superheroes had a field of anonymity that surrounded them. People usually didn’t think to associate a real person with the legend in the suit.

Which was all well and good when one was fighting crime. Just not so good when one was attempting to date a Super, because even other Supers rarely could recognize their own.

Jared was confused at first, because he had never really had that block. Actually, he thought Kyle was being a douche, but a month later Kyle had finally said he loved Jared and then his alter ego attempted the first of many attempts on Archetype’s life. Jared resigned himself to thinking that maybe there was something to that theory.

Even if it didn’t apply to Jared.

Sadly, that was not the last time a boyfriend tried to kill him when they had masks on and then come home to snuggle.

So getting away wasn’t a bad idea. It wasn’t a good idea, because Jared just brought trouble to himself and change of location probably wasn’t going to alter that fact.

But at twenty-three he needed something different.

His application was accepted. Jeff had some of the new training Supers pack up the townhouse, which Jared no longer shared with Tom Welling. Tom was now happily ensconced with the millionaire on the hill.

When he got to the City, he looked around at the bustle, he looked around at the vibrancy. He thought that having so many normal people around him would magnify his freak, and he thought that he would be more of an outcast now.

He stepped out of the train station and looked around at the tall buildings.

Instead he felt peace because there were too many people for anyone to really take notice. He was just part of a crowd.

He was breathing his first few breaths of his new life when somebody barreled into him, sending his bag on the ground.

A hand grabbed it off the ground and threw it back at him. Jared caught it and looked at the person who had run into him, at the same time that the guy looked at him.

He had light brown hair, was tall with broad shoulders, had eyes that were green with little lines at the edges. Jared’s first thought was that this guy should smile, because Jared was pretty sure that a smile from him might be a second source of light to the world. Instead, the guy just looked at him, seemed to uncomfortably see right through him.

The other man stumbled a little and Jared reached out a hand.

They looked at each other for a second longer. Jared swore he heard crackling.

Then the guy shook his head and walked away. For a second he turned back to see where Jared was standing, still watching the stranger walk away.

The man gave a little half smile and then disappeared into the building.

Jared shifted his bag and grinned.

Maybe this could be okay.

 

one

Jared was in a new place, and in less than a week he had completely assimilated himself in day-to-day life. Jared had found a coffee shop, set up a false closet back in his tiny apartment for his Superhero gear, had his first shift with the City EMT, which was more dramatic than anything he had back home, and he was itching to get into the City Superhero contingent.

He found himself proud of getting everything together so quickly. He just felt like if he took his time he was going to head back home.

He was going to give this all he could.

Even if he was only going to be a Class Two.

He knew he would probably make him a competent Sidekick, he couldn’t wish himself Class One.

The hour came when he was ready to put aside Jared Padalecki, newbie to the City to put on the mask and be Archetype, new Sidekick for the city.

When he put on his uniform, it felt different. He didn’t know if he was getting soft from not working out for a week or if he was different inside from changing a little for this new and different place.

He put on his mask and smiled.

Maybe Jeff was right, maybe this was what he needed. At home he had found a rut, laid down in it, and never expected better. This was different, but this didn’t have to be worse.

So he went to meet his new fellow Supers.

**

Superheroes in the city didn’t give out their real names, didn’t talk about their real lives, and never ever took off their masks in public or around each other. Not that it would matter with the Superhero Shield of Obliviousness, but they held to the rules.

As with the universal mandate, City Supers all registered their powers with the state under their code names. These rules were strictly adhered to. This made it easier not to get killed when one of their own went rogue, which happened about once a year.

Every couple of months there were Seminars where all the Supers gathered.

Jared’s first exposure to his Super life in the City was a ‘Working With the Cops’ seminar mandatory to maintain certification. He looked around at the gathered Supers, and realized this was something very different than he was used to. At home, these Seminars weren’t so much a formality as something they kind of did, sort of. It was more like forced mixers with civilians, where they ate pastries and talked about local gossip.

He currently had super senses as a power. It had kicked on last night during his EMT shift and hadn’t shut off yet. It was a good power last night, to help him identify what was wrong with a person. He could hear their heart beating and see even tiny injuries. He was super sensitive and every pore he had was on high alert.

However, this power was terrible when he was meeting people who were vibrating at high supernatural frequencies, never mind being new. Everyone was here, complete with costumes and egos. Jared was a little overwhelmed.

He had heard about some of these Supers. He felt like a giddy fan, meeting legends. He was hoping that he was hiding it well.

He was sitting in a small amphitheater conference room surrounded by people in skintight outfits and masks. Jared tried to pretend that he wasn’t staring. The craftsmanship of the uniforms was nothing short of amazing. Jared suddenly felt a little like a bumpkin. His outfit was gorgeously crafted out of the finest material, material that wasn’t even offered outside of secret military instillations, but it just seemed so plain and far too tame.

There was a guy, who was similarly dressed in a black body suit, except his was all leather.

Jared was trying not to stare, but this guy was impossible not to keep looking at. Jared had always been a good judge of what was under a suit, even though the suits didn’t leave a whole lot to the imagination.

Part of Jared thought there was a rational explanation, an almost primal drive that his power wanted to seek out the best power to put in his wheelhouse. That didn’t explain why his libido loved nothing more than to be fucked by them.

This guy was focused on the cop in the front of the room, never fidgeting. Jared tried not to, but couldn’t help focusing on him. Jared could feel the steady beat of the heart, draw of the breath, and see freckles across his nose.

Jared had dated perfection, he knew it well, and this put all that to shame. He knew well enough that he should be paying attention and not trolling for new Superboyfriends at his first meeting, especially after his absolutely piss poor record at dating them, but he kept staring anyway.

Jared felt like he had to make a decision at this point. He could continue staring or he could start something new here.

He thought it through. Before Tom there had been Milo, who Jared felt was always trying to one up him, and Milo never seemed to feel like he was winning even when Jared had tried to let him, so that break up had been terrible. Before Milo, there was sweet, sweet little Kyle who turned evil and kept trying to kill Jared; that had been awkward. Before, after, and in-between all three there had been Jeff. He was only twenty-three and Jared definitely confirmed that he was a little sluttish for Class One Superheroes.

Maybe he should cut that out.

Then again, the law of averages said that one day he would get to keep one. Jared almost had to laugh internally at his mind justifying things. He turned his attention back to the cop.

It was time for new beginnings.

He realized why these seminars were never really held back home. They were boring as shit and a little pointless. He tried not to fall asleep. That really took every power that he had to stay awake.

Finally there was a break. There was a meeting after the break, a real actual Danger Briefing. There was a new potential Supervillain so they were going to get the download.

Jared walked to the hallway, where there was coffee and pastries. The goodies here in the city definitely seemed to look more delicious, Jared snagged one and ate it without feeling guilty that he was going to get fat and embarrass himself in his skintight suit.

He tried to be as low key as possible, he kind of wanted to get the lay of the land before he jumped in. He didn’t have much experience with new people on a new turf. He really didn’t want to piss anyone off or choose the wrong Class One and start some kind of internal political battle. Internal politics were a bitch, Jared knew this, both from experience and from the handbook.

He wasn’t really able to be low key, being the new guy, being six foot four, and being dressed in black Kevlar spandex.

Some of the ladies were openly ogling.

Jared tried to ignore them and he tried not to watch the guy in black leather obscenely worship his coffee.

Jared had never wanted to be a cup of coffee so desperately before. He watched in complete Technicolor as the other guy’s tongue licked over those lips and Jared had to look away or else he was going to embarrass himself in his spandex kevlar.

He breathed in that calming breath and then looked towards the girls.

They were a little over the top, but at this point they were the lesser of two evils, not literal Superevils, just the lesser of two bad life choices.

The three of them, little blonde, little brunette, little redhead, walked over to him. They had intent written all over them.

“So, Archetype,” the redhead said.

The blonde immediately dove in. “We heard about you before you came, but we didn’t expect...”

All three of them looked at his very unstuffed Spandex Kevlar crotch.

“So how do you blow off steam?” the redhead asked coyly.

Jared was a little taken aback. These women were forward and were not doing anything based on any kind of etiquette that his mother taught him regarding ladies, not that he had ever really had to deal with that kind of thing.

“I thought that you didn’t associate outside of the masks,” Jared said, in hopes of shutting them down.

The brunette laughed and answered sweetly. “Oh honey, anonymous Mask-Sex with each other is really how we survive. All that adrenaline has to go somewhere.”

Jared’s eyes immediately found the guy in black leather.

“Except Aero,” the redhead said sadly, noticing his look. “He’s like a celibate Ken doll.”

The blonde snorted. “Is there any other kind of Ken doll?”

“Point,” the redhead admitted.

“But we’re getting ahead of ourselves,” the brunette said sweetly and without any overt sexual overtones, which Jared was glad of. “I’m Tayme, I hear animals. The redhead is Flayme, she does fire. The blonde is Rayne; she says she does weather, but mostly she plays with lightning and thunder.”

Jared had gotten Jeff to gather him a dossier and he recognized the names and the powers.

“You’re the Wyerd Sisters,” Jared stated.

They all smiled in sync.

“Got it in one, big guy,” Flayme said. “We don’t get many Sidekicks here in the city and the ones that we do are kind of…”

“Wussy,” Rayne supplied, once again staring at Jared’s crotch.

Flayme nodded in agreement. “We all are totally excited that you are here. Most Class Two are too scared. They usually stay in the burbs where they can be big fish.”

Rayne grinned manically. “I’ll bet you’re a big fish everywhere you go.”

Tayme smiled sweetly, “What motivated you to move here? Always wanted to see the City, see what crime was like with population?”

Jared had the feeling that he would like her best, she seemed to be kind of nice.

Jared shrugged. “Bad break up.”

“Aww,” Rayne said with something that was definitely a leer as she laid a suggestive hand on his arm. “We’re always looking for a Sidekick.”

Jared jumped back, feeling some of the electricity that she was generating. “Gay. I’m gay.”

The three of them looked at him with disappointment.

“Not even a little bisexual or hetero-experimental while drunk?” the Rayne tried.

“No,” Jared said definitely.

They all deflated.

“Shame,” said Rayne.

Tayme spoke up. “Well, we still could always use a Sidekick.”

They looked at him sweet and hopeful. Jared momentarily considered it because being their extra would negate the whole sleeping with his partner thing.

Fortunately they were interrupted.

“So could we all. Stop sexually harassing the new guy. We’d all kill for a non-useless Sidekick,” a person dressed in an iridescent white outfit and a masculine voice said. “I’m Chaos.”

“I’m not a flunky,” Jared’s forehead wrinkled as he thought of the list Jeff had prepared. “And aren’t you a bad guy?”

Chaos shrugged. “I’m indifferent. I’m just here to be certified.”

“He’s definitely certifiable,” Flayme said, her face suddenly very pinched, Jared was beginning to figure out the lay of the land. “Did the syph clear up, Chaos?”

Jared definitely noticed the way she spat out his name.

He smiled. “Penicillin works wonders. Wanna take another ride?”

Tayme took Jared by the arm. “Ignore them, they’ve been doing that forever. It’s a thing. We’re actually all very nice.”

Jared looked hesitant. He really wasn’t sure, but she smiled and his eyes were drawn to Aero again.

“Oh, honey,” Tayme said. “Don’t go for that one. He’s real nice to look at, but he doesn’t socialize with us. He’s very focused. He doesn’t take on partners, either for work or play, although I don’t think he plays at all.”

“And he’s also gunning for Superhero of the Year award, for the third year in a row,” Chaos said. “Fucking suck up.”

“That guy is like a crime fighting machine,” Tayme said in a bit of a disappointed awe.

Rayne agreed. “It’s sad, so sad. Can you imagine how awesome and blonde our children would be?”

Jared just gave a weak smile and was glad that it was time to go back into the meeting. He chose not to sit with the girls, they were a little much for right now, his head was spinning. He sat down and did not look at Aero.

He steadied his resolve.

Command stepped to the front of the room and Jared leaned forward to get a glimpse of his new boss. He was subtle, wearing a simple white karate looking outfit. Jared wondered how much he spent on dry-cleaning with that thing. Black was definitely the way to go, as it didn’t show any of the blood, dirt, and dust that Superheroes were constantly faced with.

“Hi,” Command said in a deep, gravelly voice. Jared instantly wanted to buy him tea with honey, that couldn’t be good for vocal chords.

Jeff had said that the man was telekinetic, although there were rumors that he was also telepathic, and ran a well-oiled machine here, Jared was a little surprised at how young he looked.

“So we have a new Super-Superevil coming in,” Command told the room and a commanding whiskey smooth voice. “We don’t know when she is coming, but we have heard news. This is Bombshell.”

Jared looked at the screen behind Command and, in a room full of almost inappropriately dressed people and being very gay, his jaw dropped. The Superhero was in an outfit that had to have been painted on, with boobs that were definitely Superhero level and legs that were ridiculous. This woman was pouting under the mask, she looked like she could seduce you just by being in the room with you.

“She speeds up the atoms in objects and makes them explode, also she can do that to your mind. She is like walking meth,” Command continued. “She’s brilliant and can think faster than anybody I’ve ever met--her thoughts make me dizzy and I’m the only person who has ever been able to stand against her. She is a cold hearted bitch, so please be warned that anything nice coming from her can and will be used against you.”

Jared figured that this Command might be more impressive than just being a boy wonder if he could stand up to her.

“Her former consort was Ballistic,” Command went on. “We don’t have any photos of him, but he hasn’t been seen in three years. However we think that she has a new posse and is heading this way.”

Jared watched attentively as other Supers were brought to the screen, he scribbled down some notes. The fourth one in caught his attention.

“This is Hyperponic,” Command said with some exasperation. “I really don’t know why he is named that other than he thinks it is funny. He can manipulate radio waves.”

Jared slunk down in his chair.

“Okay,” Command said finishing up. “Those are the players to keep your eyes out for, we’re going to be doing heavier patrols and all banks and medical labs will be watched with more intensity. If anyone has had any run ins with these players, please let me know. If not, you have your assignments for today. You are dismissed. Thanks for coming in.”

Jared looked down at his paper and ignored all the other Superheroes as they exited the room. When he looked up the only people still in the room were him, Aero, and a little hyperactive guy in feathers. The little hyperactive guy was running down to Command. Command looked up at Aero who was sitting impassively like he was made from stone.

“Wait for me in the Annex,” Command said gruffly to Aero. Aero barely nodded and walked out, The little feathered guy started talking to Command, so Jared just watched Aero walk away. It was kind of pleasant, this guy had some serious poise going on and some most adorable bowlegs.

Jared wondered what the interaction between Command and Aero was about, but soon bird guy was coming up the stairs, looking crestfallen.

Jared stood and walked down to Command who looked at him steadily.

“Archetype, glad you’re here, you came at quite a time,” Command said, shaking his hand.

“Glad to be here,” Jared said politely.

“We have three Sidekicks here, but they bounce from Super to Super. If anyone gives you grief, it’s most likely because of them, so don’t take it personally.”

Jared swallowed. “Okay.”

Command went on, speaking firmly. “I’ve read your file, and I’m really glad to get a Sidekick in here who may not try to run their lives by some Sidekick Code, which I think they made up to make themselves feel more important.”

Jared shifted on his feet, wondering if he really needed to be here for this.

Command went on. “I’m gong to have to patrol with some of the Supers, so you can get a feel for everything, and we’ll give you some time to adjust. Take some time to pick one, as I spend most of my life doing Sidekick relocation or reassignment paperwork.”

“Um,” Jared began, feeling like a big imposition. “Sorry?”

“No, not you,” Command sighed. “We get a lot, but we don’t get many who stay. Just follow the Sidekick rules, and please don’t patrol alone. We’re really tired of rescuing Sidekicks.”

Jared began to think that maybe the city wasn’t a good place for Sidekicks; it sounded significantly less promising that his idealized version.

He had never been the one in distress and he really wanted to make the point that he did most of the saving. Although that would not be in his file, because no Superhero would have in their record that a Class Two rescued them, no matter how much Jeff liked him.

He really wanted to say something, but Jeff had instructed him better.

“Thank you, Sir,” Jared said politely

Jared didn’t move and after a long second, Command looked up, almost surprised to see Jared still there.

Jared tried to give a confident look. “Sir, I know one of them, one of the people you showed.”

Command’s face when blank, Jared figured that Command didn’t think that a likely thing.

“He’s my ex, the one with the stupid name,” Jared said, with his own forced smile. “He was a big stoner, that is how he got the name. The whole stoner thing really pissed my parents off, but that was kind of what I was going for at the time.”

Jared felt stupid for babbling, as if he was going to be judged for his high school boyfriend on top of being a Sidekick, as if this Command cared. Jared felt the urge to just go home right now.

Command gave him an almost surprised look, one that confused Jared, before slipping back behind into a Command Mask.

“I’m going to set you up with someone in the Process Room to get any info we can,” Command finally said, his mesmerizing blue eyes attempting to see something in Jared. “I’ve got a meeting with Aero right now that really can’t wait or I would do it myself.”

Jared felt a little relieved that he was believed.

Command studied him for a second and then shrugged. “We’ll put you on the roster for tomorrow unless you need more time.”

Jared nodded what he thought was not too enthusiastically. He really was worried about opening his mouth to let out more babble now that things looked a little more positive and the chance for him to get out there and patrol were close.

“Good,” Command said. “Good luck, call if you need anything.”

Jared just nodded again and left, taking the roof tops this time.

He went to his apartment feeling a little empty, but strangely not missing his home at all.

**

Jared was on the late shift again and he barely made it from the HQ to his apartment to the train. He was hoping that he wasn’t going to be late so soon after starting. He was really trying to not let his introduction to the City Supers get him down.

He didn’t expect to be heralded like a long lost son and he didn’t expect to be thrown a party, but he really didn’t like that ‘Sidekick’ was such a dirty word here. It seemed like there wasn’t anything specials in Class Two and Jared was a little depressed that he was going to be linked in with the rest of those guys.

He had called Jeff on the way home from HQ. Jeff, never one for touchy, feely advice, had just said. “Well looks like you’ll be the best Sidekick in the city.”

Jared had just hoped that the competition would be better. It didn’t even look as if a Sidekick was something sought after.

He just sat on the train, wallowing a little, despite trying to keep a positive outlook.

And that was when the telepathy kicked in.

I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die. I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die

Jared was picking up the song stuck in someone else’s head. Of course, it had to be what was probably the most annoying song ever. Jared twisted to see where it was coming from.

He stopped. Cocked his head.

And just full on stared.

It was that guy from when he had first stepped into the City.

And that guy was better than he remembered.

The guy was perfect: every hair in place, an-honest-to-god suit that fit him perfectly, and hands that made Jared think of being touched. Jared loved that the city had this kind of guy.

Nice, normal, hotter than sin guys, who like public transportation.

For the first time in his life Jared gave a silent whisper of thanks for his subconscious rule of his powers; they had made him get out of his pity bubble and actually see the guy two seats down, who was the most gorgeous human being on the face of the earth.

Albeit with terrible mental songs.

The guy turned a page of the file on his lap and looked up as the train lurched. He looked directly at Jared with those amazing green eyes.

I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee..wow hot guy...Dah Ba...hot.. Die

Jared looked around the train and looking for this hot competition, this hot guy that the perfect man was suddenly thinking about, before he realized that the guy was looking at him through his lashes. Jared had to look down because he knew he was blushing.

After one more stop the passenger between them left and Jared took a breath and smiled at the guy. Two random encounters among millions of people had to mean something. Jared didn’t believe in chance.

Jared had no idea what to do, but he decided to take a shot.

“Hi,” Jared said brightly.

The guy looked at him, a little startled. Jared got the feeling that he had just done something horrible against City social norms.

The guy regained the cool calm composure and smiled a little, this time looking Jared in the eyes.

“New?” the guy asked a little shyly.

The adorable shyness erased his fear about doing something horribly socially shaming.

Jared tested his telepathy again. All he could hear right now was the goddamned song. I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die. I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die

“How’d you know?” Jared asked giving his blinding smile.

The guy bit his lip a little, like he wasn’t going to speak, but he finally said quietly. “Nobody talks on the train.”

“Oh,” Jared said, trying to figure this out. “Sorry.”

“You’ve got a twang that reminds me of home,” the guy added as a sense of consolation.

Jared looked up.

I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee..hot guy, hot guy...Dah Ba..hot.. Die

Jared’s mouth curved into a little smile and the guy returned it. They looked as if they were two boys who were sharing a secret, although it was only Jared who actually knew the secret.

Then the guy looked at the upcoming stop out the window.

“Look,” he said, gathering his folder and writing something down on a scrap of paper. “My momma would kick my ass if she found out that I had been rude to a country boy. So give me a call, we can…get together or something.”

Jared took his number and made a mental note to figure out how long was appropriate before he called and to figure out if ‘something’ was kissing or hand shakes at the end of the night.

He watched the guy--Jensen, the paper said--leave, ass wiggling.

That was nothing short of awesome. There was something nagging in his head, but his head was too full of the telepathic mental meanderings around him and Jensen’s ass to give it much mind.

Jared had come to the city to find something new, and this guy was looked like he would be an awesome addition to his ‘new’.

 

two

Jared stretched and got out of bed. He was feeling good as he had gotten a solid four hours of sleep, he was ready for everything his day had to offer.

His shift last night had gone well, the telepathy had disappeared and he had been a normal guy for the night, which was strangely enjoyable.

His Super shift didn’t start until tonight so he had a few hours on his hands. It was time to make sure that he was still in shape. He was signed up at a gym near his house, because it took a big place to make sure that all his muscles were popping. He had researched the place long before he had moved. It was the first thing that he did after he finished his application.

Supers still needed to work out. It also helped with all that aggression that apparently here they channeled into Mask-Sex. Jared also had to do it because he often found himself with nothing but his muscles to defend himself.

He walked in to his new gym, appreciating that even mid-morning it was hopping. He checked into a yoga class that was going to begin in thirty minutes, because he didn’t want to go evil. Yoga helped mellow his nerves. Plus, he kind of liked the stretching and the moving; he hoped that it would help his natural ungracefulness. It still didn’t look like it was working, but he was always hopeful.

He lifted some weights and kindly didn’t run before class because nobody wanted a six-foot-four sweaty guy dripping on their mat.

In the middle of some stomach crunches the telepathy kicked on again. He rolled his eyes; he really hated telepathy. It was mostly useless. He had no idea what was up with his subconscious these days. It would probably make yoga unbearable too.

He finished his reps and walked into yoga class, glad that it was only fifteen people, but knowing that the telepathy was bound to make him incapable of relaxing.

Someone bumped into his back.

“Jesus, you’re a mountain,” said a voice from behind him.

Jared turned around and there stood a tiny blonde. Her thoughts were very loud, and very dirty. They had her in black leather and him on his knees. It was awkward to be thrown into someone else’s fantasy, even worse when he really wasn’t into what she was offering.

“I’m Kristen,” she said with a smile.

He looked at her and tried to smile. “Jared.”

“New?” she asked interestedly.

Jared nodded.

“You’re going to love it here, Misha does wonders with making sure that we push ourselves it’s tough, but you will feel like butter afterwards,” Kristen told him, her voice was calm, her thoughts were NC-17.

Jared tried not to blanch at the volume of her thoughts, because he did not bend like that and it hurt just to think about. He was hoping that her thoughts were imaginary and not what this Misha would have in mind for him.

Two other petite girls came up to join them, a redhead and a brunette.

“Genevieve, Danneel,” Kristen said. “This is Jared. He’s new.”

Jared didn’t mean to listen to their thoughts, but whirling around in their thoughts were thoughts that shouldn’t be there. Well, shouldn’t be there if they weren’t....

...the Wyerd sisters.

He tried to back away slowly, but they seemed to be engaging. It was oddly reminiscent of last night, soon enough he was pulled into their orbit once again.

He found himself in the class, his mat between theirs. Talking a little with them as they stretched for yoga. He was curious about them, who they were when the masks were off. He had always liked knowing all sides of a person, even if that other person was oblivious to it.

They established that the girls were all roommates and that he was from the country and gay. Declaring his sexuality seemed to be the best buffer between him and those girls.

“You’ll like Misha,” Genevieve exclaimed.

The other two looked at her and blinked.

“Gen,” Danneel said slowly. “Misha is an acquired taste. It takes a few sessions before one falls madly in love.”

“His wife would so love you for a threesome,” Kristen offered.

Jared wondered if everybody in the city was obsessed with sex or if it was just the Supers, because so far his conversations with them hadn’t included much else.

But by the time the class started, he kind of liked the three girls. Underneath the blasting innuendo that was both spoken and thought, they were funny and Jared liked them.

He managed to focus during class, ignoring the chatter in his head as he stretched and popped. Misha was a godsend, adjusting him and making him go deeper than he thought that he could go. He tried not to think of how to impress Jensen with these moves. Which was a little premature because he had to actually call Jensen first.

So he just focused on Misha’s voice and Misha’s soothing, soothing thoughts.

Misha, strangely enough, thought only about the class, how it was supposed to look. Most people thought the most inane things, but Misha’s thoughts were focused, it was a welcomed abnormality. Misha was one with his thoughts; Jared liked that in a yoga instructor.

Except occasionally, Misha quacked in his head. That was a little strange, but Jared shrugged it off as a personality quirk. Everybody here seemed to be a little off, if all Misha did was quack then that really was no big deal.

When they were done with class, Jared did indeed feel like butter. Kristen was still thinking about dirty sex in her leather palace; Danneel was thinking of…Chaos and some blonde guy who was probably Chaos was under the mask, which made him both curious and guilty for being so nosy; and Genevieve was thinking about a cat who had hurt its leg.

“I’m going to go do a couple of miles,” Jared told them, almost sorry that he had to leave them.

“Let’s run together,” Genevieve said with a smile. “I hate running, so talking is always good.”

So Jared found himself on a treadmill with Kristen on one side and Genevieve and Danneel on the other, chatting as they all sneakily upped the speed as they ran, they were nearly maxing out their machines. None of them was out of breath.

“So, what do you girls do?” Jared asked.

“We design clothes that we sell in our store,” Genevieve said, thinking and to most of the Superheroes in town.

“We’ve been friends forever and we work well together,” Danneel added, thinking, really, really well, bad guys shake in fear. Also, Chaos is a douche.

Jared wanted to snicker at how much she didn’t mean that.

“But we know all about us,” Kristen pointed out. “We wanna hear more about you. But don’t start, like, with your childhood; that’s boring. Just start with yesterday.”

“I met a guy on the train,” Jared offered. “I mean he bumped into me a few days before when I first got here. Then I saw him on the train and he gave me his number.”

They all gave him a look.

“Fresh meat, that ain’t good,” Kristen drawled.

“I know,” Jared said with a sigh, thinking of boyfriends past. “I came here for something new. I have a terrible record of dating one type of guy and he’s a different type.”

The girls exchanged glances and then looked back at him.

“He could be a predator,” Genevieve said quietly.

Jared felt a little insulted even though their thoughts were considerate of him. They seemed to see him as something fragile.

“I can take care of myself,” Jared attempted to sound authoritarian.

They looked at him suspiciously.

“He’s a lawyer, he works for the DA’s office, I Googled him,” Jared said defensively, realizing that his defense was a little creepy. “If I meet him in a well-lit place? What would be the issue if we met in a well-lit area? I am good at gauging people.”

“Ummm, freshmeat,” Kristin said. “You were just telling us about the bad break ups of your past. We don’t know you very well, but we really don’t get that good at “gauging relationship guys” vibe off of you.”

Jared sighed. That was fair.

“So I should take advice from three girls I just met?” Jared muttered.

Their manner completely changed and they started laughing.

“A lawyer?” Danneel said through her giggles, apparently ready to trust him a little bit with his showing of backbone.

“I’m nervous,” Jared admitted, really for the first time. “You are right, what the hell am I doing? Who does things like call back random guys from the subway? But the thing is that it seems like he’s a hell of a lot better than my exes and I don’t know a thing about him. So he’s probably a really bad decision that I’m most likely going to make. My life always just happens and I go with it. I don’t have much to say. I’m really good at making it up as I go along.”

The girls were quiet for a moment and then they exchanged a look.

“You’re so cute,” Genevieve grinned.

“So what do I do?” Jared asked.

“From the three girls that you just met?” Kristen teased.

“Enlighten me oh wise ones,” Jared said. “Girls are good at that immediate assessment stuff, which is totally why I don’t date them.”

The three of them exchanged looks, completely amused by Jared.

“Working in the DA’s office probably means that he’s busy,” Genevieve pointed out. “And he isn’t looking for fussy or needy. He wants you to want him, but not to want him too much while he tries to figure out if he likes you.”

“Or he has a wife,” Danneel offered, thinking, been there, done that.

“He could just want to drug you and do really dirty things to you,” Kristen offered, her thoughts played out in detail things that he really wouldn’t liked done to himself.

“Really not helping with the nervousness, girls,” Jared told them.

“You know what would answer all these questions?” Kristen finally said, strangely not thinking dirty thoughts.

Jared was a little too surprised by the sudden calmness of her thoughts to think about her question.

When he finally did, he just shrugged and kept running--a skill that he was sure was somehow connected to the fact that he had super powers…some of the time.

“Tell me and you can be my new guru,” Jared offered.

Kristen smiled. “Time. You’ll never know until you date this extremely-full-of-potential man,” Kristen said. “I mean it’s totally possible that he’s mentally unbalanced. In fact, if he’s hot, he’s probably batshit insane, but you can worry about all of this or you can actually go on dates with the guy and find out exactly what maladies he has and if you’re willing to put up with them.”

Jared thought about it, his ears and his telepathy listening for the loophole in what she was saying.

“Sound advice,” Misha said, coming up to their row of treadmills. He leaned on the machines and looked at the four of them.

Jared could hear Misha quacking again, but it was still strangely soothing. Jared was beginning to understand how Misha could be an acquired, but awe–striking, fascination.

“I have always found that experience is better than theory,” Misha said. “One should always experience the fullness of life, be it heartbreak or really kinky sex. That way you are assured that you absolutely know that you do or do not like something. Except for attempting to beat Super Smash Brothers--that is a letdown and hours of your life that you will never get back.”

With that bit of strange advice, he disappeared.

Jared just stared after him.

“That man is uberbizarre,” Danneel said.

“I’m a little in love with him,” Genevieve said.

“Whatever,” Kristen said, turning back to Jared. “Let’s strategize, Jared.”

“It isn’t a war you know,” Jared told them

“Freshmeat, you still have so much to learn,” Kristen sighed.

**

Jared left the gym, feeling well worked out and very much less lonely and less terrified of having made the world’s biggest mistake leaving his home and moving to a city where he knew nobody.

He had just exited the gym when his cell phone rang. Jared got a little excited. The caller ID said it was Command. This was the first time that Command was calling him, he felt a little giddy. He was in the big leagues now.

“Hi,” Jared said cheerfully, trying not to sound too much like a Sidekick.

“Archetype,” the deep raspy voice of Command said. “I’m going to need you to come in early.”

Jared’s heart fell because suddenly this felt like being called into the principal’s office. Jared tried to figure out what he had done wrong before his first shift. Jared thought about all the mistakes he could have made without knowing, breaking unspoken rules.

Command had already hung up.

He was effectively freaking out.

He felt a tingle down his spine and with the adrenaline surge, his super speed kicked in. Jared gave his subconscious a hug and managed to make it home, take a shower, and grab something to eat in mere minutes, the speed of the falling water taking up the most time.

He made it through the doors of HQ and took the elevator to the Annex. The elevator went up far too slowly. He drummed his fingers on the wall.

He had no idea what this was or what to expect. He let his mind drifted back to Jensen. He was almost rudely shocked at the soft ding as the elevator door opened up.

Then the doors opened and he was struck by the difference. Jeff’s area of HQ had been ornate and made for intimidation; it was meant to be elite, to be the headmaster’s office. The view from the windows showed everything around for miles. Sure, it had only been five floors up and this one was thirty, but it was still intimidating, small town style.

It was a little surprising to walk into the Annex and see a huge room with hardwood floors, wall-to-wall windows, and not much else except for a bonsai tree and a few cushions scattered around the room. The windows were bare, letting in light and showing the skyline.

In the middle of the room sat Command, cross-legged on the floor. He was dressed in a full white mask and his white kimono, He motioned for Jared to sit on the empty cushion across from him.

This was a little more intimidating than Jeff’s gothic room. Jared would never have believed it he weren’t living it.

“Welcome,” the gravely voice said.

Jared sat and tried to arrange himself in some sort of comfortable position while Command watched him with something close to a smirk.

Then Jared sat there, waiting.

And waiting some more.

And then more time passed.

Jared was nervous, his mind a blank as to what he was supposed to say, what he had done wrong.

Finally Command tilted his head, assessing Jared.

“Quack.”

Jared thought he heard wrong or he was going insane. Insanity wasn’t really all that uncommon for Superheroes.

“Misha?” Jared said without thinking.

Command sighed and took off his mask.

“Well, that is an interesting turn of events,” Misha said serenely. “You really aren’t supposed to connect day life and night life.”

Misha just stared at him, those blue eyes piercing depths Jared was really sure that he didn’t have.

“I hate doing this,” Misha said. “But I just have to know.”

Jared pulled back slightly as Misha fixed his eyes on Jared. Jared was a little taken aback, he didn’t feel anything, but something was happening behind Misha’s eyes.

“I like the name ‘Superhero Shield of Obliviousness’,” Misha told him. “But you shouldn’t really be able to do what you did, what you are doing. Even those with the greatest mind powers have to focus to do it. Most Supers could take off our masks in a crowded room and nobody would notice. You recognized me from a word you saw in my head. This is most unusual.”

Jared looked down at his hands. He really didn’t want this. He felt like he was going to cry. He was always going to be weird; he was always going to be unpredictable and bizarre.

“So, you’ve been here a week and you’ve already discovered a few identities,” Misha said slowly, putting the facts out there. “You seem to draw Superheroes to you, in a matter of days it just lands in your lap. It took me years to figure out who everyone was outside of the masks and I have constant telepathy and I had to seek them out. In one week you’ve managed to befriend the powder puff girls and figure out Chaos. I have my suspicions that they’re not going to be the only ones you stumble over.”

Misha was looking at him speculatively.

Jared mentally began packing up his apartment in his head.

“Jared,” Misha sighed. “Take off the mask. Get some sun on your face.”

Jared reached up and pulled his mask off.

“You were quacking,” Jared muttered, as if that would explain everything. “In your head.”

Misha’s brow creased. “It’s a mind exercise, on the top level of my thoughts I keep the running quacking. I’m pretty good at not thinking extra thoughts, but I’ve trained myself to quack when a new thought pops into my head. Most telepaths can’t break through that much. It is a form of preservation.”

“I’m sorry for reading your thoughts,” Jared said, once again having nothing else but the wrong thing to say.

Misha blinked, his face blank, still just staring into Jared.

“I don’t know how it works,” Jared continued in a small voice. “I don’t know how the hell my power works. I don’t go looking for trouble or to be a hero, but it finds me.”

“You’re a very unique individual, Jared Padalecki,” Misha said. “We don’t notice each other and others don’t notice us--it is a survival instinct. Yet here you are defying all the laws of nature. It really is going to be terrible if you go Evil.”

Misha contemplated that for a moment, then shrugged. Jared’s heart sank

“We’re going to be very close,” Misha informed him.

Jared looked at him for a second, trying to comprehend the words. “You don’t want me to leave?”

“Good god, no,” Misha said. “Very much quite the opposite. I want you to stay! I have never had anyone, Class One or Class Two, have a more flawless record. And on a workload note, this would be terrible timing to lose anyone, with Bombshell here. I don’t come across many people who hold any kind of mystery. I want you here. I just want you close, to me and to the others, so that maybe you won’t kill us one day, if your powers manifest or if you figure out how to control them.”

Jared thought for a moment. “You think I’m a danger.”

“I don’t know what to think of you,” Misha said. “I’ve seen adaptive powers before, but I’ve never seen it with proactive nature. You seem to absorb everything, even our real identities. It feels as if your power is making sure you are taken care of beyond immediacy.”

“So, I’m a freak,” Jared said.

Misha shrugged. “Pretty sure the superpowers thing made you a freak already. Now you’re an anomaly among the freaks.”

“Wow,” Jared muttered. “You’re not very inspiring for a telepath.”

Misha looked at him evenly. “I don’t tell people I’m a telepath. Most of the time I go with kick ass telekinesis. It works out better.”

“And you’re telling me why?” Jared said.

“Someday your lack of latent subconscious obliviousness combined with your spasms of telepathy would figure it out,” Misha replied. “Honesty will prevent one of those horrible misunderstandings that make Superheroes go evil. So, I’m putting you on a Sidekick track for now. I want you to spend a shift with each of them to suss out their personalities and all of that.”

“There’s a Sidekick track?” Jared asked. “Why didn’t I know about that?”

“I just made it up,” Misha said.

“I feel like you just fly by the seat of your pants,” Jared said, hoping that Misha’s telekinesis wouldn’t suddenly zap him dead.

Misha smiled instead. “Now you’re getting it. Also, just so you know, I do have some theories about you and plans for you, but I need to keep them to myself for now. So if you could stay out of my head and trust me that would be great. If you really want to know, you could probably read my mind, but I’ve gotta say that sometimes you have to do the work to get the answer. I really need you to do the work.”

Jared nodded, but his doubt must have shown on his face.

“Look, I showed you my face,” Misha said. “I’m giving you unfettered access to everyone and probably doubling your super power arsenal instead of hiding you away from what has extremely ugly potential. You really should trust me.”

Jared blinked. “You’re an odd duck.”

“Quack,” Misha said with a grin.

**

“Okay so tonight you are going to go with Angel,” Misha said, getting up after they had a little discussion.

Misha put his mask on, his voice deepening to Command again, although there was a bit of laughter to it.

“Don’t mistake the name,” Command said, voice the consistency of gravel. “It was given to him by his mentor. If you can get over the brooding, he’s a pretty good one, a bit of a loner, but a good one. Also he probably wouldn’t attempt to hit on you, I can very much promise you that.”

Jared nodded.

“Put on your mask and I’ll introduce you,” Command said.

Jared put on his mask and followed Command. By the time they reached the nerve center, Jared had reconciled everything. The whole situation was crazy and chaotic, just how he understood life to be.

Even the Nerve Center of HQ was bustling; people were running everywhere.

There was a guy wearing what looked like black pants and a black button down shirt and a tiny mask leaning on a desk. It seemed a little understated for a Super.

“Angel,” Command barked.

He sounded so different than from Misha, yoga instructor. Jared wondered idly if there was some kind of course that Commands took to perfect the gravelly decrees.

The man in the lackluster outfit that he could fight on rooftops in and then take off the mask and go clubbing in, stood up straight and sauntered over to them.

“Angel, Archetype. Archetype, Angel,” Command motioned looking up at them. “You’re both tall and manly, go out find me information about Bombshell.”

Angel nodded, but neither of them moved.

Command gave him a look. “Go, be off. Save the city. Try not to cause damage, save our property damage budget for when Bombshell shows her face.”

Jared looked at Angel who just shrugged and turned to leave. Jared followed, he started to feel different. It was the slow itch that a power was coming into his senses

“So Angel,” Jared said, flexing a little, he could very easily figure it out, but it was always good to have the original owner give him a rundown and help with some of the quirks. “What is your power?”

Angel looked over at him, his face not moving a muscle. “Strength. They send me in to do interrogations.”

It rarely happened that Jared immediately took on the power closest to him; usually they lay dormant for a while. However he was pretty sure this was Angel’s power in his system.

Then Angel stopped and cocked his head. “Your power changes right? What do you have right now?”

Jared gave a cocky smile. “Strength, they’re sending me in for interrogation.”

Angel just looked at him for a second and then started laughing.

“Come on, Archetype,” Angel said, turning to leave HQ.

Jared followed Angel to the ground floor to the parking garage, and found himself looking at a black 1967 Plymouth GTX convertible.

“Sweet ride” Jared said, feeling confused. “But we’re driving? In the City?” I

Angel sighed. “I don’t fly and I really don’t hop on roof tops.”

Jared shrugged in his skin, feeling Angel’s power - it felt like he was made out of lead. He didn’t really want to be on a rooftop right now. He really didn’t think one would hold him.

“Okay, where are we going?” Jared asked getting in.

Angel got in and started the car, just looking at Jared. “What does it feel like, my power?”

Jared shrugged, feeling the sold mass that his body currently was. “It feels like I could stand in front of a Mac truck and I would be fine.”

“You can easily do that,” Angel said. “I mean how does it compare to others you get?”

Jared thought for a moment. “I don’t know, it feels more than others, I can tell the physical, but I don’t usually think about it. It is just who I am.”

Angel drummed his hands on the steering wheel, then he looked at Jared.

“Your power is pretty great,” Angel said.

Jared was a little taken aback.

Then Angel turned serious. “We are going to find these guys, but we’re not going to cause harm according to Command’s command.” He paused and smirked, “But we are definitely not going to let them know that. We find them, threaten them, and maybe bruise them.”

“Okay,” Jared replied.

“And seriously, you are not to leave my side. Ever.” Angel informed him. “You do as I say, because at this point I’d really rather you not think on your own.”

Jared swallowed down his pride and just smiled weakly in agreement.

Angel looked over at him and raised an eyebrow and then started the car.

“Hang on,” he said.

Jared was glad that Angel’s power made him feel like a lead weight because the man drove like a bat out of hell. They pulled up to an area of town that was dilapidated. Jared felt adrenaline start to pound in his veins.

Angel got out of the car and cracked his neck. Jared attempted to get out and look half as cool and calm as the other man, but by the look on Angel’s face, Jared knew he failed.

“Okay we’re going to go into this Illicit Den,” Angel said quietly. “There is a guy there who we know is doing some work for some of the local talent Bombshell is hiring. We’re going to go and see what he’s singing.”

Jared shifted and said the words that were trying to stay lodged in his throat. “What do you want me to do?”

Angel took a minute and then smiled. “You’re a big motherfucker. Make it work and stick close.”

Jared nodded and followed Angel into the crack house. It was dirty and dank and Jared was man enough to admit that he had never actually been in a place like this before.

Angel seemed to know where he was going, and Jared just followed, trying to be as menacing as possible.

They were on the second floor before goons attacked them. Jared felt his power, tried to read it. Over his lifetime he had learned to gauge and go with the new power that had taken over his body.

Plus, he had learned the basics a long time ago and no matter what his power was, he could throw a mean punch.

Jared moved to hit the closest guy with a mere half-power punch. Jared almost felt time slow down as his fist sliced through the air. With barely a passive interest, he watched the man in front of him. First the punch landed, square on the jaw. Second, the man’s head was thrown backwards violently. Third, the man flew into the wall behind him.

Jared just looked, as did two of the other goons. Then they looked back at Jared. He gave them his best Archetype smile.

When they came at him it was almost like dancing and when his fist landed, it was like hitting them with an anvil.

More goons came in and Jared stepped forward, planting his feet firmly on the ground. He took on four or five guys and felt like he had been swatting flies. Adrenaline pumped through his veins.

“Not bad,” Angel said.

Jared looked up at him and grinned. “Your power is awesome.”

Angel gave him a slow smile. “I know.”

They ended up in one of the top rooms that were far less seedy wherein a man lay on a pile of pillows. He looked like he was trying to be king of the crack den.

He looked up. “Oh, fuck, not you?”

Angel looked at the other seven huge men in the room, then he looked back at Jared.

“Take two?” Angel asked.

Jared nodded.

In a matter of seconds the adrenaline channeled itself to his fists and he was taking care of two while Angel took the other five and began to loom over the man on the pillows.

Jared had just felled the second guy when all the sudden all of the power from Angel was sapped out of him. One of the goons tried to sit up and Jared used his own very normal muscle strength to hit him down again.

Angel had the Pillow Dude by the scruff of the neck, noting Jared shaking off the punch.

“Power gone?” Angel asked.

Jared felt shame flood through where adrenaline had once been.

“Get back to HQ and take the roof, the thrasher pad is pretty dangerous. I’ve gotta interrogate this guy.”

“I can help,” Jared said, happy to find his voice commanding. “I’m not useless without my powers.”

That is when Pillow Dude reached out and touched Jared.

Jared jerked away, looking at the welts rising from where his suit had burned through.

“Bring him, I’ll make him pretty,” Pillow Dude said.

“I’ll take the roof,” Jared said, slipping away before this got any worse.

He was out on the fire escape and up to the roof in seconds. The breeze from the city burned away the shame on his face.

He closed his eyes and breathed in deep, channeling acceptance of his body of what was happening. He had learned to do that long ago because there was no other choice. He had no control. He surveyed the roof and tried to contemplate how he was going to get to HQ. The options were subway or hope for luck on the rooftops.

Minutes later he was jumping across roof tops wearing black spandex Kevlar, which seemed the less conspicuous of the two options. However, it was hard going. He was very fit, but going rooftop to rooftop was still a challenge. He was glad that he spent so much time at the gym. He got to be a super mortal even if he was a subpar Super.

He was a few blocks away from the flophouse and stopped, breathing heavily. He eyed the other roofs and began rethinking the whole rooftop thing when something on another rooftop caught his eye. It was definitely people in Super get ups.

Telepathy suddenly kicked in and Jared was abruptly hyper-aware of everything. He bit his lip and figured it couldn’t hurt to go nearby and listen to their thoughts for it could be helpful. It wasn’t as if he had never faced off against Villains on his own, and there were only two there.

He got closer and watched the two goons exchange words. Jared couldn’t tell what their thoughts were, so he moved to go closer.

He stood still and watched as a black leather figure made its way to where the bad guys were. Jared forgot what he was doing for a moment and just watched, as Aero effortlessly landed nearby. It took much longer for Jared to realize that he was completely exposed.

He moved to a less conspicuous place and just watched with interest as Aero swooped in and did his thing. He had done some Internet stalking on Aero after he had seen him the first time. According to everything he had found, Aero was flawless. The glowing reports made it sound as if he could shoot rainbows out of his ass. Jared didn’t want to be impressed, because at first it sounded like Tom, then it sounded even more impressive, then it sounded mouth watering.

He also noticed that there was no definition of exactly what Aero’s power was, it was something with flying, but there was no concrete description. Aero was so good at what he did, everything was just accolades, but there was nothing specific.

Jared watched Aero throw a perfect punch fell one of the two goons. Jared already knew who was going to win this fight.

I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee..hot guy, hot guy...Dah Ba..hot.. Die

Jared was thinking so hard that when he heard the song from Jensen’s head he thought it was just an echo from before. He didn’t usually get the same power quite this often. But as Jared watched and listened as Aero dealt with the bad guys, he realized Aero was thinking Jensen thoughts, throwing punches in cadence to the song.

It took him an embarrassing amount of time to remember what Misha had said. With enough training a person could use a seemingly meaningless phrase to cover thoughts.

This was the song from the train. This was Jensen’s phrase in Aero’s head. Jared was well prepared to take a leap as to what that meant.

“Holy fuck,” he muttered.

Aero looked up at him, startled. For a moment Jared had forgotten about Aero’s super hearing. The bad guys were tied up, ready for the cops. It seemed as if one of the superhero’s powers were that they always had rope somewhere in their skintight suits.

Aero looked up with those eyes that had looked at Jared on the train. Those were Jensen’s eyes and Jensen’s thoughts underneath Aero’s costume.

Jared had barely had time to process when Aero jumped up to where Jared stood, almost effortlessly.

“You Archetype?”

The voice was deeper and the mask covered all but his mouth, but he was completely sure that this was Jensen, the guy who he had been thinking about since the moment that he met.

Because it was also awkwardly embarrassing that he had never connected Jensen the Perfect to Aero the Perfect.

He wasn’t able to immediately figure out what he was supposed to do

Jared could only nod.

I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die. I’m Blue Dah Ba Dee Dah Ba Die.

“What are you doing here?” Aero said gruffly. “You really shouldn’t be here.”

Jared gave him an incredulous look, which was not really apparent to Aero seeing as Jared was wearing a mask, but was warranted nonetheless.

“I was going home from a job with Angel,” Jared said. “Thought you could use some help.”

“Look, kid,” Aero said. “Your powers are spotty according to Command. Wouldn’t want you getting hurt and personally I don’t do Sidekicks, especially ones that I can’t count on. Maybe it is time to keep heading home.”

Jared was more than a little offended. He was hardly some weakling, even without a consistent superpower. He was still crouched down, but he was about to stand up and show Aero the six-foot-four-Kevlar-spandex man that he was when Aero gave him a little wave and flew off.

Aero was a snobbish asshole, Jared decided. Just because he wasn’t always in control, didn’t mean that he couldn’t take care of himself.

He went home steaming. He couldn’t deal with HQ right now. He hated being treated like he wasn’t as good as them. He may have had to be a Sidekick, but he didn’t need to be coddled by some flying wonder man or some big hunk of a man. He’d had enough of that. Tonight had been a bad first night.

Jared was seriously questioning if this was the place to him. Everything had been going so well and then tonight had shaken his confidence.

He took a shower, ate an apple, and picked up his cell phone. He knew one bad day didn’t add up to a horrible life, but something in him had to do something.

That something was making the phone call that he had been debating all day, he didn’t know if it was revenge on Aero’s attitude or a pathetic attempt to have some part of Aero like him. He just knew that he had to do something

“Hello,” the voice answered, light, warm, friendly.

“Hi,” Jared said, trying to feel as Country as possible. “It’s Jared, the guy from the train.”

“Hi, you,” Jensen said, voice warm and maybe a little shy. “I was hoping that you would call.”

Jared was a little pissed that the telepathy disappeared somewhere between his shower and the apple. He felt a little deflated without it, but hearing Jensen’s voice he just wanted it to be the guy from the train and not everything else that came with the man.

“Hey,” Jared said, opening the floodgates, talking away his feelings from the day. “I know that it’s kind of tacky and you’re probably totally turned off by the fact that I’m calling a day after you gave me your number, but the fact of the matter is I thought you were cute and I’d really like it if you wanted to meet up for some kind of drink. I know it’s late but I just got off work. I’m an EMT by the way, and...”

Jensen was laughing on the other end of the line, it was soft an amused. Jared closed his eyes and just let himself ease into it.

“Jared, I’d love to,” Jensen was saying.

Jensen rattled off the name of a place to meet, saying that he was actually walking home and would be there in a few minutes. Jared jumped into jeans, a t-shirt and shoes, and ran out the door, hoping to catch the next bus.

**

Jared entered the bar and saw that Jensen was already there. Jared’s mind lingered on Jensen’s fingers as they played with the beer label. He eyed the wide expanse of Jensen’s back and wondered if Jensen could bench press all 220 pounds of him without breaking a sweat. His mouth went dry and his heart sped up and it had nothing to do with super powers.

Jared closed his eyes, thought of grandmothers and yippee dogs, and walked to Jensen’s table.

Jensen smiled, the control seemed to still flow off him, but there was something different about him without the mask. Jensen looked down, looking a little bashful. Then he looked up again with a slight blush to his cheeks and a down home smile.

“Hi Jared,” Jensen said. “I’m really glad that you could make it tonight.”

This was the opposite of the guy on the roof. That guy was cold and aloof, this guy was a little shy, but very eager. Jared knew people well enough to know that those could be two sides to the same coin.

“And miss out on my first hot date in the City?” Jared asked, hoping to erase the memory of Aero and Angel and whatever Command was cooking up for him.

If anything Jensen’s smile just grew, little laugh lines around his eyes making him look even younger. That look did the trick and Jared wasn’t in his head any more, he was just here, with Jensen.

“So is that what this is?” Jensen asked, cocking his head.

Jared shrugged. “What else would it be? Or do people not do things like this?”

“I don’t know if they do,” Jensen said. “But I think that I could be persuaded.”

“You don’t sound well versed in City dating,” Jared teased.

Jensen just shrugged non-committedly. “Bad break up before I came here. So I haven’t done this much.”

Jared blinked back his surprise.

“Probably not the best way to start a date,” Jensen muttered and began to tear up his napkin.

Jared laughed. “I always wished that I could be cool and aloof.”

Jensen looked up with a little twisted smile. “Cool and aloof is boring.”

“Thank god,” Jared said, throwing back his head. “Then maybe there is a chance for me.”

Jensen raised an eyebrow of encouragement.

“How long have you been here?” Jared asked clearing his throat.

Something crossed Jensen’s face and the smile didn’t return. “Three years now.”

Jared was put off his game completely. He hoped that taking all the attention wouldn’t be a turn off, but he didn’t want Jensen to go dark and sullen.

“I keep telling everyone that I came here because of a bad break up,” Jared barreled in, trying to commiserate. “But that isn’t actually the whole truth, the truth of the matter is that I just have always felt different. I mean I never seemed to fit in at all, but maybe that was the way things are supposed to be and then I get here and things are different and I think I have to redefine my definition of fit and maybe I’ll get a chance to fit.”

“Everybody gets a chance or two here,” Jensen told him.

Jared shrugged. “I mean don’t get me wrong, there was a guy, there were a few of them actually, and they were always going off to bigger or better things. I didn’t know until I got here that maybe I should want bigger and better things.”

Jensen shifted. “I came here to start over too. I knew a guy here and he helped me, find something bigger and better.”

Jared looked down at the napkin. “So this guy – “

“A friend, with a wife,” Jensen supplied.

Jared looked up giving him a wry grin.

Jensen looked down with a frown.

“Do you think it is better?” Jared asked, trying to keep the conversation going, not wanting them to loose the momentum of intimacy. “To come here and try to forget, get lost in the crowds.”

Jensen thought about it for a second. “I guess it is better, Nobody really asks about me, about my life, and they don’t ask how I’m feeling. It was easier coming here to deal, rather than to go back home. I mean this is probably the deepest conversation that I’ve had with anyone but my friend since I moved here.”

“So is that a bad thing or a good thing?” Jared asked.

Jensen shrugged. “Well it’s is as uncomfortable as hell, but much more interesting than my nights have been.”

Jared tried not to grin like a loon. That was a losing battle.

“So you like living here?” Jensen prodded.

Jared shrugged. “From my very short time, I do. I think my job is okay and I think that I’m working on getting friends and finding my footing. I don’t know if things usually happen this fast…”

“It usually doesn’t,” Jensen admitted.

“So I’m like a spunky Mary Tyler Moore?” Jared said. “Awesome. I can’t wait until they make the movie of my life.”

Then Jensen laughed. Real and white with crinkles at the edge of Jensen’s eyes.

That was really all it took to make Jared forget that an hour ago they had both been on a rooftop in skintight suits, arguing.

They talked for a little while, keeping it a little lighter and less personal.

“I’m a little terrified,” Jared confided. “I’ve had sushi and Vietnamese, but new friends are wanting to take me to Korean and I have no idea what that is like, and then there is something called Microfusion and that doesn’t sound like real food.”

“Stay away from that,” Jensen advised. “It isn’t.”

“You have to help me,” Jared asked. “I nearly starved to death when the girls took me to tapas. Like it wasn’t real food, it was tiny. I ate like twenty of those plates.”

Jensen laughed. “There are so many pitfalls. When I first came here I had this colleague who loved to go clubbing and insisted I come with.”

“That doesn’t sound like a bad thing,” Jared said.

“Not these kinds of clubs,” Jensen shrugged.

Jensen began to tell a story. It was a little hesitant at first. He immediately looked up at Jared when he said ‘strip club’ and when he didn’t see any judgment he continued to tell the story, getting more comfortable and having the words come more easily.

They drank a few beers and chatted, got to know each other. Jared forgot for a bit that they were Superheroes, that they were anything other than two guys at a bar. For a bit Jensen was just an assistant DA, and Jared was just an EMT. They were two guys a long way from the Country, laughing about BBQ and bluebells and their families.

The beer and the situation kind of made his head spin.

“So,” Jared said. “Let me guess--you never do this kind of thing, picking up strange guys from the train.”

Jensen laughed and it sent a wave of happiness down Jared’s spine. They both were pretty aware that Jensen didn’t do that.

“Nah,” Jensen said flippantly. “That is my usual MO; pick the fresh ones off, get them before they’re corrupted, corrupt them myself, set them loose on the world.”

“Real public service you’re doing there,” Jared laughed, actually liking Jensen’s banter.

Jensen looked a little embarrassed, but happy.

“It’s late,” Jared finally said, sad to find that it was true. “I’ve gotta get home--work and all tomorrow.”

Jensen looked nervous. “I’m not really that guy, all joking aside. I mean I heard your voice and I had to ask you out, I guess I’m not all that naturalized to the City yet, but when I say I had a bad break up, well even three years later I’m just kind of, well I still don’t like new people. I like to get to know people.“

“It’s okay,” Jared interrupted. “We can take it slow.”

Jensen looked relieved.

Jared just had to grin.

He was walking into his apartment later when he realized that it was all okay. It was all very okay.

 

three

Jared had been in town for a month when he realized that life was going better than he thought it was going to be. He was constantly invited everywhere by the Wyerd Sisters and their counterparts. He had finally met Chaos’s other ego, Chad was as unpredictable as Chaos. Jared thought that Chad was not his biggest fan, but Chad kept him suspiciously close.

Jared was training with many of the Superheroes in the City. Work was going well. He was as surprised as anyone that he was fitting in and liked it so much.

And then there was Jensen. Jensen, who was busy with his work for the City and his ‘night work’ with the Supers. That was okay, Jared was also busy at night, their schedules barely overlapped for free time, but they managed to meet for lunch or brunch, things that wouldn’t end with awkward moments to decide if they should be kissing or going home with each other.

After a few weeks, they managed to find a night when they both could be together and have dinner and Jared couldn’t wait to see if he got a kiss good night or if they would share a cab and maybe Jared could see that absolute perfection of Jensen Ackles without a stitch of clothing.

“And then Chad looked up at me, he’s like surrounded by feathers and this girl who I think was a hooker, the whole room looked like it was hit by a bomb. All he does is blink and asks me where breakfast was.”

Jensen looked at Jared incredulously.

“Tell me again why you hang out with him?” Jensen asked.

“He’s friends with the girls,” Jared sighed.

“Why do they hang out with him?” Jensen asked, still with mock confusion.

“Because Danni is in love with him, but they fight all the time,” Jared shook his head. “I don’t get it, but it makes them happy.”

“Looks like it makes you happy too,” Jensen remarked and then looked down, embarrassed.

Jared smiled at him, thinking it adorable.

Then their phones rang, Jared didn’t have any delusions about what that meant. He let out a very unhappy noise.

Of course their date was going too well, he hadn’t spilled anything and he hadn’t lit his napkin on fire like last time. Of course there was going to be an emergency.

The crime in the City had gone up and they were busier than ever, but Bombshell was yet to be seen, but her men were already starting to infiltrate the town. Aero was the best that there was and Command constantly was requesting him. It was good for a Superhero, but terrible for an almost boyfriend.

Jensen looked up from his phone. “Jared this is going to suck, but I’ve got to go.”

Jared looked at his phone. ‘Need you to come in.’ From Misha.

Jared’s brow wrinkled and decided to bite the bullet, their mismatched schedules seemed to require a some directness.

He looked up at Jensen. “Okay, but I just need to say something first. We’ve been going out for awhile and but we’re both busy and rushing around, but I just want you to know I really like your company. There doesn’t seem to be time or anything, but I just need to know if maybe this qualifies as dating that may someday soon go to the next level?”

Jared shifted as Jensen just studied him seriously. He was a little worried that he was saying the exact wrong thing. Jensen was a little skittish, and Jared still hadn’t figured out if he could always soothe it over.

Then Jensen stood up and neatly folded his napkin and put it on the table. He walked towards Jared and slipped a hand around the back of the neck, fingers feathering through his hair.

Jared hardly had time to process this before Jensen’s mouth was on his, soft full lips ghosting over Jared’s. Then Jensen pressed his fingertips into the back of Jared’s skull and pressed his lips fully into Jared’s.

When Jared pulled back, his body was thrumming and he was half hard and not wanting to let go of Jensen’s shoulders.

“I really hope so,” Jensen said against his lips.

He pulled back and gave a calm smile. Jared was beyond reassuring because if Jensen was looking like that, everything was going to be okay. Jared was growing rather attached.

Jared was unable to do anything but appreciate this moment. He watched Jensen go and his phone rang.

”I hate to see you leave but I love to watch you go,” Command’s voice came over the phone as Jared watched Jensen go.

“I hate you,” Jared said, watching the final wiggle of Jensen’s ass and then sat up, remembering that he was talking to a powerful Superhero and his boss.

Command chose to ignore that. ”Weather and Max are up to some of their weekly scheming. Aero needs to be there to take them on, but he needs an assist. I need you to use the paralysis to help him out.”

“Living the dream,” Jared muttered and then he flexed his fingers he could feel the paralytic powers now. “Wow. I didn’t even know that I had that.”

“The joys of being a telepathic boss,” Command said, sounding more like Misha than Command.

“Well that is nice,” Jared said. “I’m glad I didn’t have this power thirty second ago, because that would have ended my date on quite another note.”

“Small mercies. Your powers seem to be good like that,” Command pointed out. “You just have to finish tonight off with Aero.”

Jared blanched a little. He hadn’t seen Aero since the rooftops. He was pretty sure he wasn’t that high in Aero’s esteem.

“Except Aero doesn’t like me at all,” Jared sighed. “I have to give up the part of him that does actually want to be in my presence for the one that does.”

“For the love of all that is Super,” Command swore. “I’m not a cupid, I’m not trying to play matchmaker. You two are supposed to be ridding the city of evil, if you date fine, but work around the ending of the world schedule.”

“Sorry boss,” Jared said meekly.

Command let out a sigh.

Jared tried to think positively. “I think I’m getting the hang of the whole Jensen thing, maybe it will help me with the Aero thing.”

Command snorted and hung up.

**
The directions that Command had sent to Jared’s phone had been relatively simple to follow. He made it to where Jensen was fairly quickly.

Jensen was already there, facing off against Weather and Max. Weather was a big guy who seemed to be fairly powerful and literally icy, while Max didn’t show any direct powers, but she seemed to be a bruiser.

Jared popped down and stood nearby. Aero was holding them, but just barely.

“Command said you would be coming,” Aero said curtly, exchanging blows with Max while trying to avoid Weather’s flying ice.

“As promised,” Jared said cautiously.

“Can you do anything at this moment?” Aero asked without feeling.

Jared was a little taken aback at the lack of emotion and the brusque personality. It was far too professional. Every other Super in the city was a little overly personal.

“Command sent me,” he repeated, not wanting to give away thing in front of the Villains.

“Want to show me?” Aero said, gritting his teeth as Max came at him with a complicated combination of punches and kicks.

“Since you asked so nicely,” Jared told him and in seconds he was in front of Weather. He felt the power fill his veins. This was the one that he got from Pillow Guy on his night out with Angel. The paralysis made him a little sick, but it seemed to be useful in this situation. Anything he touched would be momentarily paralyzed.

Jared looked at Weather and tried to figure out how he was going to get close enough to put his hands on him. Years of kickboxing and MMA fighting had made it easy to duck Weather’s attacks. He managed to easily close enough to grab Weather’s hand, which in bad Super form was ungloved, and held onto it for dear life. Slowly the fight faded and Weather slumped to the ground.

When Jared was done, he looked over and Aero was handcuffing Max to a pipe.

“Come on,” Aero said calmly. “Come whammy her, we need to go before the cops get here.”

Jared went over to Max and touched her neck. She had just fallen to the ground in defeat when they heard sirens in the background.

Aero grabbed for him and hauled him off the roof.

”Won’t they escape from the cops?” Jared asked, looking back at the two nearly comatose Villains. “I mean, cops can’t deal with Supers here right? The paralysis will wear off soon enough.”

“Hopefully,” Aero said, looking out over the rooftops.

“I’m really not understanding what is going on here,” Jared said. He--no, they--had been called away from a date to play with some low-key flunkies.

“We patrol and we make sure that they aren’t doing anything dangerous,” Aero explained patiently. “If we’re lucky we get information. If they did something major, we’d take them Upstate, but for now we just try to keep the status quo. We tie them up for the night, and they don’t cause trouble. Didn’t you pay attention in the ‘Working with Cops’ Seminar?”

Jared did not feel like volunteering the fact that he had been avidly watching Aero during that would really go over well.

“That is so…” Jared trailed off.

“Lame,” Jensen said. “But it’s all about knowing where one’s enemies are, to show who holds the upper hand. It is all about us being on top of things. It is for the day when the real bad guys come. When they do something wrong that we can prove, they go to prison.”

Jared thought for a moment that made as much sense as anything that they did.

“Look,” Jensen said pulling out his phone, looking at the message. “I still don’t do partners so thanks for the help. I’ve got another fight going down in an hour. So have a good night.”

Jared cocked his head as Aero flew off. Jared was more than a little disappointed. He didn’t just want to be left here.

That is when something new happened.

A sensation crept down his spine, and he shivered. He looked down at his hand and felt like he should be glowing in neon. This was like a hit of adrenaline and highlighter yellow.

It took a second before he could even comprehend what he was feeling, it really could be the only thing that he was feeling.

It was Elemental.

Very few people had Elemental power. Jared had never run into it, had never even come close to having one of those primal powers. He knew it existed, but still thought of it like a myth. He didn’t expect to suddenly appear in his repertoire.

Elemental power was complete control over one element. Flayme was the closest that he had ever seen; her power was derived from the Elements, but she didn’t have control over all fire, just the ability to play with partial flames.

The power flowing through his body right now was raw and old. The air around him seemed to nudge him, to bend to him, to want to answer whatever demand he had. He thought that abilities he had before were heady, but he had never felt so powerful before. He had never felt anything like this.

He closed his eyes and felt every breath, every sound, every smell that the air carried. The world swirled around him and bowed at his feet

Then he smiled and pushed off, following Aero. He had no doubt that the air would carry him that it would hold him and push him wherever he wanted to go. He opened his eyes and saw the world below.

Flying wasn’t anything new, but the power behind it was new. It wasn’t so much soaring, it was being able to move the air so he was floating on it. The power was so simple and at the same time he was fairly sure that he could level buildings, that he could level this city if he wanted to.

He could almost see tracers of where Aero had been. He followed him and for the first time in his life he felt as if he was graceful and in tune with life.

The path that he was following ended on a rooftop and he was almost sad that he had to give up chase.

Aero was sitting overlooking a bank. Jared tried to slow himself down, but that little bit eluded him slightly. He had to do another pass before he pummeled to the rooftop, landing with a heavy thud, he hoped nobody in the building noticed.

“I was thinking that you have an hour to kill,” Jared offered, from his place sprawled on the ground, he was a little winded. “I thought I could help with that.”

“From they guy who can’t use my powers,” Aero muttered, still not looking up. “Pretty graceful, Tinkerbell.”

“I think that your power is defective. I’d give it back, but I have no idea where it comes from so that might be hard,” Jared informed him. “Also, Elemental Power? That was so not on your call sheet.”

Aero didn’t look up, ever part of him was clenched tight. “There is a reason for that.”

“I don’t suppose that you are going to tell me that reason?” Jared asked, finally able to sit up, feeling everything vibrating around him.

“You’re a very astute Sidekick,” Aero said tonelessly.

Jared narrowed his eyes.

“I suppose Command knows about you,” Jared asked, moving to sit besides Aero.

“The super psychic who can read minds?” Aero said, voice dripping with sarcasm. “No he’s never noticed.”

Jared felt a little chagrined, but he was always too curious for his own good.

“Why hide it?” Jared asked, still trying to be polite, but pushing as much as he could.

“I don’t know, Archetype,” Aero said, still sarcastic. “It doesn’t matter what side you are on, if you’re an Elemental, people are always trying to bring you down. Somebody is always trying to recruit you and use you. Being an Elemental is only good if you’re a psychopath and want to take over the world. Most Elementals don’t even make it to adulthood. They’re killed long beforehand, if it doesn’t drive them mad.”

Aero looked over at Jared and cocked his head.

“I’m not going psychopathic with your new powers,” Jared said defensively. “Although jury is still out on you.”

For the first time since meeting Aero there was a glimmer of a smile on his lips.

“Command assigned me here,” Jared finally said softly.

Command knew of Jared’s power, knowing full well that exposure would be that there was potential for him to take on the Elemental power.

“Command is a pushy control freak,” Aero muttered.

Jared froze and then let out a long laugh.

Aero breathed in heavily. “I suppose he knew what he was doing, in his own fucked up way. He must of have known that if you take on my powers I should be aware. There isn’t much he doesn’t know.”

“Ooh,” Jared said, still laughing a little. “If one of us goes Evil does that mean we’ll battle royale it out?”

Aero just gave him a long look.

Jared tried to be serious. “I’m sure you would win, with all your years of perfecting it and all.”

Aero just rolled his eyes and fell back into silence. Jared went to sit down next to him and tried to be as stoic.

But he was a little bored.

So Jared leaned over the roof to see what was down there. There was a dumpster below them. He studied the object for a few moment and then reached out his hand, suddenly the trash bags burst open and garbage began spinning above the trash bin. Jared reached out his other hand and pulled at more, he was little marionetter with puppets on a string.

“Tinkerbell,” Jensen growled. “First, that is unsanitary. Second, you maybe want to chill on ruining the undercover thing we have going on?”

Jared let the trash drop into the dumpster and then tried to look stoic again, it lasted all of two seconds.

“First,” Jared informed him finally. “We’re two dudes on a five story building wearing costumes. We are terrible at being undercover. Second, you know it amuses you.”

Jensen ignored him, but Jared swore that he saw that glimmer of a smile on Aero's lips.

Jared tried another tactic. “Command wants me to learn from the Class Ones, and since you’re pretty much an imaginary number, like you’re Class i, I am sure you have plenty to teach me.”

Aero finally broke. “We’re not buddy cops on stakeout. Let’s not talk. Command will probably understand.”

So he sat with his chin on his hands looking down at the bank.

After a few minutes Jared reached out a hand and began to pluck leaves off of a nearby tree, pulling them through the empty air.

“This is like the coolest power ever,” Jared said.

“Stop it,” Jensen growled.

Jared stopped and then looked over at Aero. There was no reason why but the thought suddenly entered his head. Jared realized that this was Jensen, this was part of Jensen. The most powerful man that he had ever met was the guy he was dating. That wasn’t so much a surprise seeing as his track record with his choice in men. Apparently, he could pick out the most powerful Super in the general area with his eyes closed and fall in lust with them, too.

At that moment, he knew that he was a goner. Jensen Ackles’ smile had won him over and he wasn’t going to walk away. He mentally began a list of things to bring when he moved into the cave next to Eric Kripke. There really was no way that this was going to end besides insanity.

Jared felt like he had to start talking or he was going to go nuts right now. Part of him also wondered if what amused Aero would amuse Jensen.

“So the whole shooting laser beam thing out of your eyes is just a myth?” Jared asked.

“Archetype, shut it,” Aero said in warning

“Are you ever pissed that you got the suckiest Element?” Jared began, his voice a little flippant. “I mean Fire, Earth, Water and you’re stuck with…”

Aero hadn’t even moved and all the sudden Jared found himself still talking, vocal chords vibrating, but nothing was coming out of his mouth.

“Air is sound,” Aero said, still staring down at the quiet bank. “With air you can forbid movement, you can bend light, you can split a fucking atom.”

Jared sobered.

Finally, Aero seemed to stop mulling things over.

Aero sighed. “Okay Tinkerbell, we’re going to talk. We are going to discuss some very important rules on the off chance that you will ever get my power again, because I don’t want you ending the world.”

Jared blinked and the pressure around his neck lessened.

“I’m listening,” Jared said, voice back, trying to inhale slowly so Aero couldn’t see him gasping for breath.

Aero turned to him and for the first time he seemed to actually see him. He outlined what Jared should and should not be doing with the power that he had.

Jared absorbed every single word.

**

They successfully managed to foil the bank robbery. Command paged that he wanted a download from Jared.

“Sucks to be the newbie,” Aero said as he flew off.

Jared dragged his slightly sore, no-longer-able-to-fly ass into HQ while Jensen went home to bed. He gave Command a full report on the night. Command seemed to approve, but at the end of the story, Command was still looking at him expectantly.

“He hates me,” Jared finally added, voice quiet. “He calls me Tinkerbell.”

Command let out a long breath, which was not what he was looking for. “I’m not a camp counselor, Archetype. Not interested in your personal relations that don’t interfere with work.”

“It’s a wonder more of the Supers under your watch don’t go evil,” Jared muttered.

Command rolled his eyes.

“Hey, Chaos,” Command said in that commanding Baritone.

“Hey, Command,” Chaos replied, who for some reason was milling about HQ, poking at a computer and ogling some of the women.

“What does Aero call you?” Command asked.

Chaos managed to look cluelessly confused below his eye mask. “I don’t think he’s ever called me anything. I don’t even think he knows that I’m alive.”

Command turned towards Jared. “He gave you a nickname—victory!,” He said with a sarcastic wave of arms. “Now come with me.”

Jared followed Command to the Annex where they were alone.

Command crossed his arms and looked at Jared. It took Jared a moment to figure that Command probably wanted a personal mission report,

“Oh,” Jared said, feeling incredibly stupid. “The Elemental powers.”

“Yes, Archetype,” Command said briskly. “The big secret.”

“The thing that might have driven me insane,” Jared said, biting his lip. “Thanks for not warning me.”

“It was already too late,” Command said. “You had seen him plenty and you probably already had access to his powers. I just wanted to make sure that Aero would be able to mentor you a bit on how to use them, if you ever showed signs. They’re kind of a big deal.”

Jared shifted. “How big of a deal? I mean I’ve never run into anyone with Elemental powers before. Do you think that there was a chance that I wouldn’t take on his powers?”

“He’s the only Elemental I’ve ever seen who has sanity and full control,” Command admitted. “He’s in touch with the raw nerve of power and he does okay. I’ve taught him some things and besides being a bit of a perfectionist and socially deficient, he’s fine. I didn’t know if you would be able to take on his powers. I mean I’ve seen adaptive powers that take on same Class powers, but I didn’t know if you would be able to handle Elemental powers.”

Jared thought for a second, seeing if he felt differently. He gave it careful consideration if the powers affected him. He was a little hungry, but he didn’t have any kind of urge to try to take over the world or kill people. Although, he might do some maiming for some decent barbecue

“I think I can handle it,” Jared said in a small voice.

Command cocked his head and Jared was sure that Command was in his mind. He tried not to think about porn, but that really was all that he could think about.

“Nice visuals,” Command said dryly.

Jared’s ears burned.

“But I think that you can too,” Command said slowly, sounding a little surprised.

Jared looked down at the ground and sighed.

“Jared,” Command said slowly. “Elementals are even beyond our understanding, You’re a Class Two who takes on Class One abilities. That I cannot explain, never mind that you also can take on Elemental powers. This is something that I have absolutely no frame of reference for. I’d love it if I could do some examination, it might help us understand how you work.”

Jared looked up a little hopefully. “I’d love to figure that out too.”

“I need you to come in tomorrow,” Command said. “Just to do some tests. I’m also going to need you to come in whenever Elemental Air manifests.”

“Mental check ins?” Jared asked wryly.

“You have incredible power,” Command said. “I take incredible precautions,”

“Fair enough,” Jared agreed.

He looked down at his black shoes.

“Jared, whatever you think, you are exceptional,” Command said softly, sounding like Misha.

Jared looked up and gave him a small grin.

“Go home, get some sleep, and don’t go evil,” Command said, dismissing him.

Jared grinned all the way home.

**
Over the next week Jared met with Command, but nothing at all seemed abnormal. However Jensen started to kiss Jared after their lunch dates. The last one had almost inappropriate results in the park.

Which only meant that his friends really wanted to meet Jensen.

“JAAAAAAAAREEED,” three female voices said in a high screech.

Jared shuddered at the level of their voices as he walked into the bar that was becoming their own little hole in the wall. Three girls barreled towards him and pulled him to the back nook.

They were all around him clamoring for attention.

“Where’s Jensen?” Danneel asked.

“You promised that we would get to meet him,” Kristen said. “We so want to see if he’s as hot as you swear he is.”

“He has to work,” Jared said, trying to sound confident. Jensen did have to work, all the time. He got it, he just hoped that his friends would too.

Genevieve patted his arm gently. “I’m sure we’ll meet him next time.”

The other two let out a huff.

“Does he even exist?” Chad asked from his seat. He played with the label of the beer that he was drinking, looking at Jared through narrowed eyes.

“Of course he exists, Chad,” Danneel sighed.

“Do you still think that he’s not really into guys?” Kristen said, her hands gong to her hips. It was almost comical: this tiny little thing standing in protection of Jared who towered over her.

“You haven’t even slept with him yet and it’s been like six weeks,” Chad accused.

Jared looked at Danneel with a withering gaze. “You told him.”

She pouted. “I needed a guy’s point of view.”

“So you asked Chad?” Jared said questioningly. “You don’t know any real men?”

“You’re hilarious,” Chad informed him.

“You’re ridiculous,” Jared replied.

Chad cocked his head, looking at Jared, almost as if he was studying him.

“You’re hiding something,” Chad informed him.

Jared wanted to laugh at the absurdity of that. They were all hiding something.

“You’re right,” Jared deadpanned. “I’m really in a boy band.”

Chad wasn’t deterred. “I think this is just a ploy to get the girls into bed.”

The three girls looked at Chad agape.

Jared blinked. “I’m really devious.”

“I hope not that devious,” a voice behind him said.

Everybody turned to look at the newcomer.

Jared stood there, looking uncomfortable.

“You must be Chad,” Jensen said, coming up and putting a hand at the small of Jared’s back.

“Did you buy a hooker?” Chad blurted out.

Kristen walked over to him and slapped him upside the head then she turned to Jensen.

“I’m sorry for him, we’ve always thought he had some kind of major social disorder,” she said with a smile. “We’re really happy to meet you. You’re Jensen, right?”

Jensen rubbed the back of his neck. “I am. I’m really sorry, I can’t stay long. I have a meeting tonight, but I wanted to stop in because I was thinking that maybe Jared’s friends thought I was imaginary.”

Jensen looked pointedly at Chad. Chad tried looking innocent, but Jared didn’t notice. He only had eyes for Jensen.

“He’s real,” Danneel confirmed.

“And not a hooker,” Jared teased Jensen.

Jensen winked. “I’m playing the long con.”

“All of my riches will one day be yours,” Jared said dryly.

“A hooker would probably put out,” Chad muttered.

Jared shot Danneel a look of death. Jensen just looked uncomfortable.

It was Genevieve who took Jensen by the arm and steered him to the table. “We’re really glad you’re here. Stay for a drink.”

Jared sat next to Jensen as the girls began to chatter. One of Jensen’s hands went to Jared’s knee under the table and Jensen put his own atop Jared’s, squeezing gently.

Conversation went on around them. The girls were very polite, asking get-to-know-you questions. Chad glared for a few moments before finally nodding in acceptance and joining in on the dialogue.

Jared couldn’t stop smiling, and an hour passed quickly.

Jensen gave Jared an apologetic smile. “Sorry, but the boss needs me.”

Jared gave him a kiss on the cheek. “Be safe.”

Jensen gave him a lingering look and then nodded.

There was silence as they all watched Jensen leave. When he was out the door, the girls let out a specific cooing at a decibel that only girls could form.

“He is absolutely perfect,” Genevieve said sweetly.

“And so fucking hot,” Kristen said, fanning herself.

Chad took a deep breath and they all looked at him. “He’s also gay.”

Everyone paused for a moment.

“Well I’m glad that we got that straightened out,” Danneel intoned as she turned back to Jared. “You even have the Chad stamp of approval on Jensen.”

Jared snickered. “I’m sure Jensen will be relieved.”

That is when Kristen’s phone beeped with a text. She looked at it.

“Oh, booty call,” she muttered, except she was looking like someone just flooded her apartment.

Danneel and Genevieve gave her a sympathetic look. Chad looked at her with a sneer.

“Shouldn’t you be a little happier,” he asked. “I mean, sex!?”

Jared wanted to laugh. Whenever they all got together, someone always had to go. Kristen always had a booty call. Danneel would just disappear. Genevieve would give the worst excuses ever. Chad wasn’t usually called, though. Jared wasn’t entirely sure what his power actually was, but he seemed to be a little unstable. Jared prayed that he didn’t get whatever power that was.

Chad looked over at Jared.

“Shots?” he asked.

Jared shrugged. “Sure.”

Chad narrowed his eyes. “Just for the record, neither of us is getting laid tonight. You don’t get to hit on me now that you are gay.”

“I’ve always been,” Jared sighed.

“Whatever,” Chad told him.

Jared snickered. “I’ll try to contain my disappointment.”

The girls grinned.

“Let’s get us drunk,” Kristen said with glee.

**

Jared was breathing hard. He was on patrol with Cajole and they had heard wind of something going on at the United Nations.

Cajole was the guy who owned the little sandwich shop around the corner from his house, and his name was Matt when he wasn’t wearing the mask. Cajole’s power was persuasion and currently, Jared had the power to conference with computers and electronics.

That had been good when they were sneaking into the building, Jared had been having a good time with Cajole, and they were goofing around like they were kids. It was just refreshing to not have to take the job so seriously. It was supposed to be an easy in and out job.

But currently, they were hiding behind a half wall being shot at.

“They’re Bombshell’s men,” Cajole muttered.

“Why are they shooting at us?” Jared said, looking around for anything that might help him out.

“Most Superheroes are notoriously susceptible to guns,” Cajole explained. “You know, this would be an excellent time for you to have some kind of other power.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Jared groaned.

“I know, Class Two,” Cajole mocked.

Jared tried not to wince at the ‘useless’ that underlined even his new friend’s voice.

“This would be a great time to have laser eyes,” Cajole muttered.

“I knew a guy like that when I was a kid,” Jared agreed. “He wouldn’t stop talking about how it wasn’t lasers coming out of his eyes. It was concussive force blasts.”

“This conversation seems to really be helping us,” Cajole said as another round went off around them.

Then Jared felt his eyes start to tingle.

“Oh fuck,” Jared said, shutting his eyes tight.

“This ostrich act is a new low for Sidekicks,” Cajole told him.

“I have laser eyes,” Jared hissed.

“I thought it was concussive force blasts,” Cajole remarked.

Jared seethed. “Not. Helping.”

“I thought it didn’t work like that?” Cajole said with surprise. “I thought you couldn’t control it.”

“It never has,” Jared said, eyes squeezed shut.

“Do you know how to use this one?” Cajole asked.

Jared tried not to think about the time that he had swiss cheesed his childhood home the first time that he got this power. That had been expensive and messy and his mother had been so pissed. He had moved out after that.

Jared nodded. “It’s is just really messy.”

“Well hurry up, or Bombshell’s men will take us down,” Cajole said, sounding a little hopeful and a lot worried.

Jared took a deep breath and listened to the gunshots around them. He estimated where they were coming from.

“I'm going to stand up,” Jared said. “I’m going to shoot where it sounds like they are. I need you to watch my back and be my eyes.”

“There are so many ways I could twist that into something either dirty or cheesy,” Cajole muttered. “I really am overloaded.”

“Ready for the moment of truth?” Jared asked, ignoring his mockery.

“Better now than never,” Cajole said.

Jared stood up and let the blasts fly. He worked mostly off of memory. Concussive force blasts took a minute to assimilate to. He could only see during the blasts and the world was red. It was like being consumed by liquid fire and it needed to get out, only his eyelids were holding it back. The moment that he opened them it he could see the world between blasts, like a firing strobe light.

There was a hand at Jared’s back, guiding him to move and to shoot. There weren’t that many gun shots any more.

“Okay, you’re going to go left,” Cajole said in his ear. “Then you’re going to close your eyes and we’re going to run away hand in hand. This will be something that we never ever speak about. Ever. We don’t even put that in our report to Command.”

“Agreed.” Jared said. “On three?”

“It’s on,” Cajole said.

He turned towards the right and let the lasers fly. In just a few moments, Jared felt Cajole’s hand take his and they ran. Jared had no idea where they were going, but he put his faith in Cajole.

“Should I get you sunglasses?” Cajole asked.

Jared snorted. “You need a real special prescription.”

“So what do we do?” Cajole said. “We have to get out of here and I need you to see.”

Jared took a deep breath and calmed himself.

Suddenly everything was gone and he hesitantly opened his eyes.

Cajole was looking at him. “We good?”

“We should probably go,” Jared said.

Cajole’s eyes took a look over Jared’s shoulder and those blue eyes went wide.

Jared clenched his fists, knowing that whatever was behind him was not going to be fun. He turned around and saw three of Bombshell’s men with their guns raised.

Jared felt frozen as he stared at the men. His eyes were still adjusting, but he could see their fingers start to pull the trigger.

Jared had never wanted to be bulletproof more in his life.

He watched the bullets come towards him and then he felt a burn in his chest. Without thinking, he moved in front of Cajole. The bullets bounced off of him.

A hand grabbed him by the back of his Spandex Kevlar.

“Sorry buddy,” Cajole said. “You’re going to be my shield until we get out of here.”

“And some people say that Class Twos are useless,” Jared muttered.

Jared turned and put himself between Cajole and the flunkies and they ran down the hallway.

“I’m just glad that whatever your power is, you’re the size of a mountain,” Cajole told him. “Even without the bullet proof I think that I’m fine, they would have just hit you.”

“You’re such a charmer,” Jared deadpanned.

Cajole grinned at him and jumped into an open vent in the ground. Jared jumped down after him, something clenching in his gut, and this time he knew that it didn’t have anything to do with powers.

**

They finally escaped and reached HQ where Cajole gave Jared a salute.

“This has been a great night,” Cajole said with a toothy grin. “Really, if you want to be a Sidekick, I’d be more than willing to take you on.”

Jared gave him a weak smile. “I’ll think about it.”

Jared knew that he was going to have to tell Command, and this was something new. He had never had powers at his beck and call, he had never really been able to control his powers.

However tonight, in two life or death situations he had successfully called on the powers that would best get him out of the situation. This wasn’t normal and he had some explaining to do, he just didn’t know what the explanation would be.

Cajole went to the Hub and Jared snuck up to the Annex. He was willing to stay there all night; he had to talk to Command.

He didn’t have to wait long, because Command was already there.

Jared walked in and took off his mask he sat down in the middle of the empty room.

“You know.” Jared stated.

Command just stood with his back to Jared, looking out the window.

“You said I have adaptive powers,” Jared pushed. “I get that my powers protect me, but of every power that I’ve ever come in contact with, the one I was thinking about was the one that happened tonight. It happened at the exact second I wanted it.”

Command turned slowly.

“Please read me, Misha,” Jared begged.

Command shook his head. “I can’t read this Jared. I read minds, I can’t read your powers.”

There was something off about his voice that Jared instantly clung to.

Jared looked at him steadily. “But you know something.”

It wasn’t a question.

Command seemed to measure his words, considering what to say.

“Your powers seem to be able to evolve,” Command began slowly. “I think that this has something to do with you taking on Elemental powers. You seem to be growing.”

“Growing? Growing into what?” Jared asked, both hopeful and horrified at the same time.

Command let out a long sigh. “I don’t know Jared. I have no idea.”

Jared just nodded, but then Command came up to him, taking off his mask. Misha’s blue eyes looked up at him seriously.

“Jared, I wish I could deep dive with you now. You have no idea how interesting I find this all,” Misha said earnestly. “I know that this is important, but Bombshell is coming and she…”

Misha trailed off and his face cracked into something full of worry. “She collects power. Her power is kinetic empathic. She speeds things up and makes you feel things. She’s coming to my city to power up and what you are is amazing, but I need you to back down until she leaves. If she finds out about you, about your Elemental ability, it’ll be bad. You have the ability to touch all of these powers and if she finds out about it, she’ll envelop you and you’ll tear a hole into the world.”

Jared looked down at his hands. The lines on his hands were the same as they had always been. The lifeline, the love line, all of it was still the same. Yet, it felt like everything had changed.

He looked up at Misha’s serious face.

“Can you trust me?” Misha asked. “I promise we’ll figure this out. I just need you to keep yourself on a low profile until this is over. You can keep practicing in private, but you can’t be something that she would go after. Promise me. We’ll work through this together, but if you start to rear your head now, she will put you in her harem,” his voice was gruff, but then it slipped into normal Misha voice for a second, “And I’ve somehow come to like you.”

Jared grinned a little. “And it would be a blemish on your perfect record.”

Misha gave him a grin and put on his mask. “You really are very perceptive. Do you think you can go home now and sleep?”

Jared looked over at the clock. “I’m due at work in six hours, but I think I can probably try. Don’t know if it’s going to work.”

“Try it,” Misha coaxed. “Call me tomorrow night. Maybe we can work something out. Figure out how to get this in a better place. I’m all out of ideas right now, but I’m sure I’ll have something tomorrow.”

Jared sighed. “I’m sure you will. Just know this is a little much for me tonight.”

Command shrugged. “You’ll be fine. You always roll with it.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “Seriously, stop reading my mind.”

**

Jared came home from a long day in the ambulance. He had been running at full tilt lately, but crime was up and so were injuries and he was needed at both his jobs.

He picked up the phone to call in to Command for that night’s instructions. Half of his time was spent patrolling with one of the city’s other Supers, and the other nights were with Command, although Command had been very distracted lately.

“Archetype,” Command said in greeting.

“Reporting,” Jared said curiously.

Command was a little hesitant. “I have something outside of the mask to ask you.”

Jared paused. “That sounds like a favor.”

“It…” Command paused and when he began speaking again, it was Misha. “This is a favor, but it’s also a work thing. I just need you to do this and not ask questions.”

“You ask me to do a lot on faith,” Jared said. “Or you just make it up.”

“Well, this is more that I know way too much,” Misha said tiredly. “There is something going on and I need Aero to be out of the way tonight. I would send him upstate, but I need him here tomorrow. I just want him off the streets tonight.”

“Okay,” Jared said immediately. “What do you need me to do?”

“Please make him dinner.” Command said, coming back.

“Aero?” Jared asked, confused at what Superhero methodology this was. “He doesn’t like me, remember? He’ll barely patrol with me, never mind sit down for dinner.”

“Don’t tell me you’re forgetting already,” Command said with a smile in his voice.

“Oh, you mean Jensen,” Jared asked perking up. He knew Jensen would be a lot more willing to have dinner than Aero would be.

Command spoke slowly. “I need Jared to make dinner for Jensen and make sure that he isn’t out in public tonight.”

“No pressure there,” Jared muttered.

“It’ll work out,” Command told him.

“I’m glad for the faith that you have in my dating skills,” Jared muttered.

“Hey, I know my people well. I’ve been here three years and I haven’t lost a hero yet,” Command said defensively. “And look at Chaos--that guy is just a Supervillain waiting to happen.”

“Point,” Jared snickered.

“Also, realize the upside,” Command said in a sing-song voice. “I’m giving you a night off with the guy you’ve been sighing over since you moved here.”

Jared laughed. “You didn’t notice me already agreeing? Besides, I thought you weren’t a matchmaker or fairy godmother.”

“Bippity-Bobbity-Boo,” Command muttered. “I’ll owe you a favor or your yoga teacher will owe you a favor. Either way, you’ll save all of us a little trouble and help Jensen in the meantime.”

Jared looked at the wall and then spoke. “Is this so Bombshell doesn’t get him and add to her collection?”

Command sighed. “Smart boy. Wish you were more Powers and less Brain.”

“I’m a full package,” Jared said letting out a breath. “I’m not much good if she comes after him.”

Command let out a breath. “I don’t think she’ll find you. I just want him away from Super stuff.”

“Will you explain it to me soon?” Jared asked. “When everything rights itself again?”

“I’ll try,” Command promised. “A lot of that isn’t my story to tell.”

Jared swallowed.

“Enjoy your night,” Command said and hung up.

**

Jared tried to call Jensen three times and failed each time.

He tried to take this as a mission, but it was also Jensen and his cooking. He ended up calling his mother first. He lied through his teeth told her he was cooking a meal for a nice normal boy. She sounded skeptical, because she had heard something like this before. However, when he mentioned that he was a lawyer, she barraged him with questions for an hour before going into a few hours long discussion of what the proper thing to make was for a new guy that he was dating.

It was hours before he hung up and looked at his phone. He sucked in a breath and pressed the button to call Jensen.

“Do you like home cooked food?” Jared blurted out.

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“Usually,” Jensen said, and there was a smile in his voice.

“Then do you wanna come over tonight, and I’ll make you some food?” Jared rushed out.

There was a considerably longer pause.

Then Jensen coughed. He sounded a little winded when he spoke.

“At your place?” Jensen asked strangely.

“Of course,” Jared said.

Jensen was silent again.

“I mean, we’re dating right?” Jared asked, very confused. “Dinner at my place isn’t out of the question.”

Jensen started coughing.

“Are you okay?” Jared asked, feeling that this was going strangely somewhere that he wasn’t following.

“Dinner sounds good,” Jensen said finally. “Can I bring anything?”

“Wine?” Jared said, he had no idea about anything wine related, but it sounded classy.

“Okay,” Jensen said. “Seven thirty a good time? Or later?”

“Sounds good,” Jared said.

He put down his phone. He felt like something was wrong. He had done what he agreed to for Command and he and Jensen would be safe and off the streets, but Jared’s gut was saying that he was missing something.

**

Jared channeled all of his nervous energy into cleaning his apartment and dicing and chopping. Things were bubbling and boiling and there was a knock on the door.

“It’s open,” Jared yelled.

“Really not a good idea,” Jensen said, coming in with a bottle of wine and a bag in his hands. “You should never ever leave your door unlocked. What if some guy with a gun comes in?”

Jared tried not to laugh at the thought; he had been shot multiple times. None of it had ever stuck.

“Thanks for coming over,” Jared said wiping his hands on a dishcloth, leaning in to give Jensen a kiss on the cheek and stealing the wine from his hands.

Jared looked at it, but the label meant nothing to him.

“It’s good,” Jensen said. And then he put the bag on the counter and took out a six-pack of beer.

Jared laughed. “That’s good too.”

He grinned at Jensen; tonight was just a Jared-and-Jensen night and Jared couldn’t find it in himself to heed the butterflies in his stomach. There would be no interruption, just dinner. Jared took the beer and put it in the fridge.

Jensen didn’t say anything, he just looked behind Jared at the gathered pots and pans and then at the dinner on the small table in Jared’s living room.

“You made me dinner,” Jensen said in a tone of disbelief.

“I told you I was,” Jared said hesitantly, and for a moment he tried to activate the telepathy. However, he was just left staring at Jensen, trying to figure out what he was missing. Jensen was about to do a runner because Jared made dinner, it wasn’t even a surprise dinner. Jared had no idea what was going on.

Then Jensen looked at him again and an awesome grin of awe spread across his face.

“This is way sexier than I deserve,” Jensen said a little husky. “Seriously, with the cooking, and the dishcloth, and the bare feet. I really didn’t expect this.”

“I said I was. Has no one ever made you dinner before?” Jared asked incredulously.

“Normally when people invite somebody over for dinner it means…” Jensen said, and for all his perfectness and super powers he blushed underneath all of his freckles. “Well, it means…”

And Jared got it and threw his head back and laughed.

“Stupid City rules,” Jared laughed, he wondered if Command knew this. Jared laughed even harder because he was more than certain that he did.

Jared was in hysterics. “You mean I didn’t really have to make food? Now you tell me?”

Jensen just stood there watching Jared crack up.

He finally rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s really not that funny.”

“You’ve been in the City too long,” Jared replied, wiping away his tears.

“I really like that you haven’t,” Jensen replied, small smile appearing, moving towards Jared.

Jared wasn’t sure if the crackle he felt go through him, between them, was imaginary or a power that he didn’t know that he had, but when Jensen touched his lips it was like he was vibrating and on fire and he was so glad to be there.

“Dinner can wait,” Jensen gasped, pulling Jared to his lips.

Jared was very okay with that.

Jensen looked around. “Bedroom?”

Jared waved towards where he hoped his room was before leaning in and kissing Jensen again, he pulled them towards the microscopic hallway and into the bedroom. Jared’s hands were unbuttoning Jensen’s shirt and Jensen was grabbing for Jared’s pants.

The back of Jensen’s legs hit the bed. For a microsecond, Jensen looked down at the bed. It was a California King and took up most of the room. Jensen hummed in approval before kissing Jared again and pulling them back on the bed. Jared was able to throw Jensen’s shirt somewhere else as they fell, his hands finding warm skin.

Jared’s mind was shorting out with all of the things that he wanted to do to Jensen. Then one of Jensen’s legs came up and hooked around Jared waist and pulled him in. Jensen had both his hands on either side of Jared’s head and was pulling him closer.

Within seconds Jensen tugged at Jared’s shirt, pulling it off.

“Why didn’t we do this sooner?” Jared asked as Jensen moved in to kiss him again.

Jensen moaned in response as their naked chests ground together. Jared could feel Jensen hard against him. He arched into Jensen, needing as much contact as possible.

With extreme agility Jensen flipped them over. He sat back on Jared’s thighs.

Jared looked up at him.

His skin was flushed and freckled, body chiseled out of solid muscle.

Jared’s hands went up to him, “I want to see all of you.”

Jensen looked nervous for some reason, but he stood up on the bed and undid his pants. Jared lay back on the bed and watched as Jensen stood there for a second. His stance was tall and bold. His long bowled legs were dusted with light hairs, his chest was chiseled, and his cock was thick and hard, already into what they were doing.

Jared’s mouth went dry, even when there was nothing hiding who Jensen was, he was every inch perfect.

“Come here,” Jared croaked.

Jensen moved back down to Jared’s body, sliding up his chest, their skin rubbing together. Jared ran his hands down Jensen’s back, dipping into the curve of his spine, over his ass. Jensen’s mouth moved from Jared’s mouth and began to nibble at Jared’s neck, nipping slightly. His tongue skated out and trailed along Jared’s ear before nipping there too.

Jared arched as Jensen’s mouth traced his shoulders, tasting the skin, tongue etching over muscles, lips mouthing at pulse points. Jensen found his nipples and nipped there before moving center again and beginning a slow decent.

Jared writhed under Jensen hands grabbing to touch. He watched Jensen work his way down his body. When Jensen reached his belly button, Jensen looked up at him, green eyes hazy.

“So beautiful,” Jensen said in awe. “So perfect.”

Jared didn’t know what to say, nobody had ever said that to him before. Then Jensen’s capable fingers were working on the buttons to Jared’s pants and popping them open.

Any thought passing through Jared’s head was gone as he watched Jensen open his pants and slip them down his hips. Jensen’s eyes were focused on Jared’s dick, looking at it swollen and red. Jensen’s eyes were dilated, they looked hungrily at Jared’s cock.

He looked up at Jared.

“Can I?” Jensen asked.

“Please don’t stop,” Jared replied.

Jensen’s leaned down, his tongue flicked out and flicked out a thin stripe up Jared’s dick. It was a ghosting, barely a touch. Jared felt goosebumps form all over his arms.

Then Jensen’s mouth slid over the head of Jared’s dick, wet and hot. Jared could feel the breath over his aching cock. Then Jensen’s mouth swallowed him down in one gulp.

They way that Jensen’s mouth felt around his cock was unreal. Jared remembered what Jensen had said about the power of air, how it had so much power. Jared felt swirling around the length of his cock, he felt the tongue whirling around it.

Jared couldn’t stop watching his shaft disappear into Jensen’s bowed lips. Jensen was moaning, into what he was doing.

Jared was trying to resist the urge to buck up into Jensen’s mouth.

Then Jensen sucked. The aching head of Jared’s cock began to throb under the pressure and feelings.

“I’m going to…” Jared tried to get out.

Jensen dove in, continued the pressure and sensations on his penis.

Jared came, he felt like Jensen was pulling the most amazing orgasm out of him. Jensen slid back up his body licking as Jared came down from his orgasm.

Jared leaned over and kissed Jensen, tasting himself on Jensen. He reached down and slid his hand down Jensen’s cock, finding Jensen’s hand already there. Together they slowly jacked Jensen. Jensen let out little whimpers.

Jared mouthed at Jensen neck.

“You’re amazing,” Jared said. “So fucking hot. I can’t believe your mouth, the way that you feel, your goddamned mouth.”

Jensen let out a moan and was spilling all over their stomachs, shuddering slightly, his face buried in Jared’s neck.

He lay there for a minute, their fingers intertwined around Jensen’s softening cock.

Finally Jensen let out a little laugh.

“That is almost embarrassing,” Jensen said. “It’s just been a long time.”

Jared looked at Jensen’s body stretched out in front of him, their hands now clasped over his softening penis, body splattered with the evidence of their enjoyment.

Jared kissed his neck. “This was the best appetizer ever.”

He slowly rolled off the bed and grabbed a t-shirt from the hamper and moved to clean Jensen up an hesitated a moment.

“Just ask,” Jensen said.

“How long?” Jared asked.

Jensen gave him a half smile. “Three years.”

Jared raised an eyebrow. “You have a lot of time to make up for. Let’s have the main course, then we can come back here for dessert.”

Jensen moaned. “You are so cheesy.”

But the look on his face said that there really was nothing better.

**

They were eating their cold, but still delicious dinner, leaning over the counters, buck-naked.

Jensen was eating, making happy noises, not as happy as the noises he had been making earlier, but still happy enough.

Jared certainly felt like king of the world.

“You make me feel like a real person,” Jensen said with a contented smile.

Jared knew he wasn’t supposed to know what that meant, not on all levels, but he did and that made it so much more of a compliment, settling warm and fuzzy in his stomach.

**

Jared had no idea how long Command needed Jared to keep Jensen inside. He knew that it probably wasn’t two days, but Jared took the opportunity to err on the side of caution for the first time in his life. He and Jensen had been naked for the entire time and the only reason that Jensen went home was because he actually had his day job to go to. Jared was scheduled for later the afternoon.

Jared noticed that Jensen liked to be the toucher, not the touchee. It wasn’t so bad, Jensen really seemed to get off on getting Jared off, but it was a little odd. Jared chalked it up to Jensen’s control freak nature and figured there would be time to work on that later.

Jensen was barely gone and he had just gotten out of the shower, when his phone went off.

“Command, dinner was a great idea,” Jared said cheerful.

“I need you to come in right now,” Command said.

Jared’s cheerful mood evaporated. “What’s wrong?”

“We have a situation,” Command said quickly. “Everybody needs to come in for briefing and assignments.”

“And I get a call from the big man?” Jared said, trying not to feel giddy.

“I really don’t have time to quip,” Command said, distractedly. “You’re an unattached Sidekick, you’re not on our phone tree yet, and I have a special assignment for you.”

Jared felt both put down and elated.

“I’ll be there in twenty,” Jared said, a little puffed up with pride that he was special.

Jared felt a thrum go through him and suddenly he felt like he could bend in any direction, and he was so relieved that he was going to get to have some kind of power for his first major incident. Elasticity wasn’t really the best sort of power, but at least he didn’t have to sit this one out because he was normal.

He went into Headquarters as quickly as possible. Some people were already milling about. At the center console, Chaos was fighting with Command.

“I’m not your fucking walking EMP device,” Chaos was almost yelling. “I am a person and I’m pretty much the only one who can get you in there and tonight, with that she-bitch descending on our City, you need me. So help me god, you will show me a little respect or I am going to go evil. You know I can totally do it.”

Jared watched as Command cocked his head. Jared was surprised that knew him well enough to know that he was inwardly laughing.

To be honest, Chaos going evil was something that was most likely going to happen eventually, and it probably had happened a couple of times already. But Chaos had the attention span of a hyperactive cocker spaniel, distracted by shiny objects and treats, and he never really would do something as difficult try to take over the world and be evil. He just was occasionally not good.

Chaos finally paused his rant long enough to look over at Jared. Chaos was seething, but he turned towards Command.

“I’m going to go take a piss, you make your decision,” Chaos said and stormed off.

Jared just watched.

Command sucked in a breath.

“He tries my patience,” Command muttered.

Jared smiled. “That he does.”

Command looked up at him, studying him. “You’re going to be mad and I get it, but I have a whole army of Supers to mobilize and Chaos to suck up to so I need you to get over it really quickly.”

Jared looked confused.

“You’re going to stay here and man HQ,” Command told Jared.

Jared’s jaw dropped. “What? I have power right now--I won’t hold you back.”

“For one thing you’re elastic,” Command said. “She would play you like a guitar string--quite literally at this point”

Jared just looked at him. “The first big case and I’m sidelined?”

“Something like that,” Command said. “There are reasons and I don’t have any kind of time to explain. You promised to wait until after. Follow me.”

“You’re really racking up the favors,” Jared muttered, following him.

“This isn’t a favor, Archetype,” Command informed him. “This is your job, I’m your boss.”

Jared tried not to look disappointed as they walked into a little white room that Jared hadn’t been in before. It was fairly Spartan, but had a huge bank of consoles on one side of the room and the other side of the room were two large windows.

In one of the chairs in front of the computer bank sat Aero who was looking out the window. He didn’t move when they walked in.

“This is the Lair,” Command said. “All of the Supers going out will have Coms and we need you two to organize us.”

Jared looked at him incredulously. “I have no idea how to do that.”

Command just looked at him. “It really isn’t that hard. You have a steep enough learning curve that I’m not worried. Besides you’ve run some simulations, I know you’re going to be fine.”

“He’s trying to keep us out of commission,” Aero said, still staring out the window.

Jared turned to look at Aero.

Aero stood up with a huff. “He’s worried that if you have my powers, you might have the susceptibility to her.”

Jared cocked his head. This was definitely part of the story that Command and Misha thought wasn’t his to tell. That fact meant it probably went a whole lot deeper than a drive by remark, but he couldn’t ask. It wasn’t done in Super circles

Fortunately Aero seemed to be in a sharing mood.

“She got into my head,” Aero said. “Took control of my powers and kind of took over my life. Command knows this and doesn’t want her to do that to you.”

Jared looked at Command who stayed impassive.

Nobody elaborated, Jared was just glad that they had taken the time to share that much. He still had so many questions.

Finally Command broke the silence. “We’re all on coms. We don’t usually use coms because it’s a little much and nobody brings them back and they’re expensive. So Aero will show you around and let you know what we need to do. You two are not to leave the Lair until this is over with.”

Jared swallowed his arguments, smiled like the adult he was trying to be, and he listened while Command finished talking and then left and Aero began explaining. Jared tried to listen, but everything was so bright and he just felt like his body was thrumming.

Elasticity was an odd power to get used to.

Finally Aero stopped and Jared looked up.

“I’m sorry that you have to stay here,” Aero sighed. “I told Command that you’d be fine, and that what happened to me was a fluke. From what I’ve heard, you don’t even like women. I usually don’t, but I’ve made exceptions and her being one was not my most stellar choice.”

Jared just stared at him.

“That’s your ex?” Jared said in a small voice.

Aero shrugged. “Yeah?”

Jared blinked, he didn’t know what he was supposed to do with that fact. It did figure that his boyfriend had a takeover-the-world-and-watch-it-burn ex. It seemed fitting.

“I can see why you don’t date,” Jared said for lack of a real answer.

Aero tilted his head.

“One of my exes went evil,” Jared offered, trying to commiserate.

“Just be glad that you didn’t get taken with him,” Jensen shrugged.

Jared sunk into the other chair and began to look over the machines. He began to run over the pieces. Aero had been with Bombshell. Jensen was Aero. Jensen had been with Bombshell. She still had power over him. It hurt, even if it shouldn’t. He had plenty of exes, and he had more than figured that Jensen wasn’t a virgin.

Still…it just hurt.

Bombshell apparently still had some kind of hook into Aero, more of a supernatural one, but one still the less.

Into Jensen.

Then it clicked.

The time frame that Aero had been in the city, Jensen talking about his friend who helped him out of a bad relationship, the fact that Aero had been with Bombshell. It really could only mean one thing

“Oh my god,” Jared said staring at him with a mouth agape. “You’re Ballistic.”

Jared searched his brain. The info that there was on Ballistic was vague, he was now sure Command made sure of that. Jared remembered years ago hearing about Ballistic, who was like an atom bomb personified. It seemed as if Aero’s warnings weren’t just overprotective warnings.

Aero could destroy everything. As Ballistic, he nearly had.

Aero didn’t look at him, kept his eyes on the screen.

“I-,” Jared began. “I mean I wont’ tell.”

Aero didn’t say anything.

Jared put the com in his ear. It was going to be a long couple of days.

**

For the next six hours, they worked with the teams in the field. Besides that, it was pretty silent. Jared got up once to ‘go to the bathroom’ and called into work with a horrible stomach bug and then sent Jensen a quick text. Jared was sitting less than a foot from Aero when one of Aero’s texts went through, a message to Jared from Jensen, he was happy that he had put his phone on silent and turned off the vibrate. Jared amused himself by trying to covertly text Jensen back. Inwardly he thought it was hilarious that they were sitting together as Supers, but texting as boyfriends.

This seemed to be quite fitting for his history of boyfriends: way too complicated.

Aero finally put down his ear bud.

“She made me feel things,” Aero said to Jared and he nearly swallowed his tongue because that was Jensen’s voice coming from Aero's mask, almost humble and slightly muttering. Jared nearly forgot where he was and that he wasn’t supposed to touch Jensen here, because Jensen was Aero, but he really wanted to touch the man next to him.

“I don’t know how much of it was real, but being around her was like being turned up to twelve,” Aero said, “It just felt so heady. I didn’t like her. I didn’t like what I was doing, but it just felt too good to stop. You’ve felt my power--that was what she tapped into. Everything just swirled around her. It didn’t matter what I was or what I believed, she made me just want her.”

The ache eased a tiny bit.

“Command found me,” Aero said. “He got me out of there. Most of me really wanted to stay. She’s like a fucking addiction. Being with her is not something that I am proud of. I’m a good guy now; I’ve worked really hard at being the good guy. There isn’t anything that I haven’t done right. My life is so good right now. I’ve got this awesome boyfriend at home, and he’s probably going to dump me because we’re going to be here for days while things go down.”

Jared’s heart nearly stopped at the thought of Jensen having a boyfriend. Then it started going really fast with realization.

He was the boyfriend at home.

There were no words that had ever sounded sweeter.

“Did you just share personal information with me?” Jared asked as he swallowed down the weird feelings coursing through him.

“I don’t mind you, Tinkerbell, but you’re pouting about not being able to go and this is the one time that I need you to do that talking thing, because her being here is all I can think about. I figure if I share something, you’ll start jabbering,” Aero said.

The voice was soft and vulnerable, and was the Jensen that Jared would rather be spending time with tonight. Jared was so twisted up, he didn’t know how to be Archetype at this moment.

“So that’s why you don’t fool around in the office?” Jared asked.

Aero looked over at him. “Would you, after being a dog on a leash?”

“Point,” Jared said and fell silent until he remembered that Jensen needed him to talk, but he had too many questions.

“Is that why Command didn’t want to send me in?” Jared asked.

“I just think that now isn’t the time for us to test out the boundaries,” Aero said.

Jared looked at him strangely.

“What?” Aero asked.

“You sound like you’re worried about me,” Jared said. “That can’t be right.”

“I like the world existing,” Aero informed him. “Which it might not if she gets her hooks into you.”

There was a pause before Aero went on. “But you’re not that bad.”

Jared scrunched up his face in thought.

“I can teach you some things,” Aero offered. “I mean next time you’re Elemental.”

“I think I’d like that,” Jared said slowly. “Is this bribery not to tell your secrets.”

“Of course,” Aero said, his voice sounding like there were other reasons.

Strangely, everything righted itself in Jared’s world.

**

“I need you to go to the third floor,” Jared said, looking at the tracking coms.

“Yes sir,” came the voice.

“Wait for the Wyerd Sisters,” Jared told him. “Then full attack.”

He put down the com and looked at Aero who was chewing on some Lo Mein.

“You’re quite good at this,” Aero said, once he swallowed.

Jared shrugged. “I know their powers, so that’s helpful.”

Aero nodded. “Take the compliment. You’re really good at this.”

“You should see me at chess,” Jared replied reaching for his food. “So, where were we?”

“Tragic small town heartbreak,” Aero said, stealing a piece of broccoli from Jared’s container. “Your goodie, goodie ex turned a Supervillain good?”

Jared rolled his eyes and tried not to scratch. Kevlar Spandex chafed after four hours, and they had been here for three-and-a-half days. Jared wanted to take a bath with Gold Bond Powder but instead he was distracting the very sarcastic Aero, who was laughing at his horrible love life. It was apparently the only thing that made Aero feel better.

“Yes, right under my nose, my boyfriend,” Jared wrinkled his nose, thinking about how much more complex it was because Tom was dating Archetype and Jared and then cheating on both of them with Mike. Jared didn’t even begin to know what the rationale was in Tom’s head.

“You trailed off,” Aero said.

Jared glared. “I have had pretty bad luck with love, I mean not your level, but bad. I have a type and it’s not been a good type. But the guy I have now is great, and he’s probably going to break my heart.”

In three days they had gotten close and Jensen had started to look at him with something in his eyes. Jared knew what was coming and over the last two days he realized that he liked Aero, because Aero wasn’t that much different from Jensen when you got down to it.

He wanted to rip off his mask and let Aero see all of him, but it had never really seemed to matter in the past. Mask or no mask the story had always ended the same.

“You know, we might not have gotten off on the right foot, but -- I mean, since Bombshell I’ve tried not to be too close to another Superhero, but let me tell you, you’re a really great guy,” Aero said softly.

Jared look into Jensen’s eyes and from the look there, Jared was pretty sure that his heart was going to break in ten seconds when Aero forgot all about his boyfriend and leaned in for a kiss. This would be the moment that Jensen cheated, sort of, kind of, not really, but he would become like all the others.

Then Aero shook his head, and the attraction and lust faded a little in his eyes.

“I have a boyfriend,” Aero said, in the Superhero voice again, but his voice a little defensive and strained. “He’s perfect. He’s funny and maybe if he wasn’t in the picture I would take you up on what your body language is offering, but I love him and I miss him right now and as sexy and awesome as you are, you aren’t him.”

Jared blinked.

He was sexy. Aero thought he was sexy.

Jared couldn’t help but grin, because he totally knew the Kevlar Spandex was so hot.

And also…

Love.

That was a new word in the equation.

That wiped the smile from his face.

He was floored.

Jensen was in love with him, real him, would choose him-Jared- over Archetype. He had no idea what to do with that information, or with much of the events of the last few days. All Jared knew was that Jensen wasn’t going to cheat, mask or no. At the same time he was into Archetype. Jared felt like his body wasn’t enough to contain all the elation he felt. He really couldn’t ask for more.

And then Aero gave a wry smile. “But you know if he dumps me after being mostly MIA for almost four days, the story might have a different ending.”

“Way to tell a guy he’s second string,” Jared teased, feeling light, he didn’t have any powers now, but he felt like he could fly anyway.

Aero rolled his eyes again.

Jared had no idea what to make of whatever was going on. He had been in this room for way too long.

“You’re like a fungus,” Aero told him.

“Your words really turn me on,” Jared said dryly. Apparently Aero was rubbing off on him.

“As does your chewing with your mouth open,” Aero said. “And your gas.”

“You’re the one who said you’d bang me if your boyfriend dumps your ass,” Jared pointed out. “Which he totally should. What would he say if he knew you were saying that?”

Jensen laughed a little. “I totally never said I would bang you.”

“Did too,” Jared said with a smirk.

Jensen opened his mouth to retort when Misha came in, costume no longer white, but bloody and torn.

Command looked at the array of food containers and magazines strewn around headquarters.

“Don’t get up,” he said tiredly. “Keep eating the Chinese and gossiping. It is okay. Nothing big going on here.”

Then Command cocked his head and looked at Aero and then his head snapped to Jared.

“Anyway,” Command, said in the middle of a thought. “So. Bombshell is locked up in the Crystal Dungeon of Epic Doom--don’t ask about the stupid name, my predecessor was a bit overly dramatic--but anyway she’s locked away. Aero, go home. Archetype, I need a minute.”

Aero gave Jared a superior look and Jared resisted the urge to stick his tongue out.

Misha pulled off his hood when Aero closed the door behind him. “I’ve had five hours of sleep in four days and I spent a day trying to get into that she-bitch’s head, but I just wanted to say thank you. I’m glad that both of you seem to be in one piece.”

“Are you apologizing for benching me?” Jared asked.

Misha raised an eyebrow. “I’m pretty delusional right now. I almost think that Aero is calm, the guy I left was so anxiety ridden I thought he was going to explode.”

Jared shrugged and shook his head. “He’s really happy with his boyfriend. Of course Aero is happy.”

“Lucky boyfriend,” Misha said dryly. “I think his boyfriend should get home and take a shower, because he reeks. Also please, please I’m not your teenaged BFF.”

“Mish,” Jared said softly. “This is weird and you’re the only one who knows.”

Misha let out a long sigh. “This conversation we’re about to have, never happened, you got me?”

Jared just nodded.

“You dress up in black Kevlar spandex almost every night, all of your ex-boyfriends wear body suits and have multiple personalities,” Misha said. “I don’t think that it can be anything but confusing.”

“But I want to tell him, but he won’t remember me,” Jared said softly. “I feel like I’m only getting half of him, that he’s holding something away from me.”

“He’s not,” Misha pointed out. “You are.”

“But I don’t want to, I just don’t think he can remember it all.,” Jared said.

Misha closed his eyes.

“This is really crappy timing,” Jared rushed on. “I know you’re not my camp counselor and you just fought a war. Just tell me that you’ll help me later, when things have calmed down.”

Misha opened his eyes and looked at Jared. “I will try, as long as it doesn’t get too personal.”

Jared smiled with relief. “Thank you, Misha.”

“I will tell you this much though,” Misha said. “Most people are usually on edge, even when they’re with people they trust and care about. Jensen is usually at a hyperawareness that puts everyone to shame, but when I walked into this room…”

Misha trailed off, looking for the words, but in a way that didn’t give anything away.

“…he was happy,” Misha finally finished. “What he is telling you is the truth. Just trust in that.”

“I can do that,” Jared said. “I can definitely do that.”

“Go home now,” Misha said gruffly, reaching for his mask. “I’ve got to go sleep for a week.”

**

Jared lay on his couch. He had finally gotten some sleep the past few days, so he wasn’t feeling too bad. He looked at his phone; Jensen hadn’t called yet, but there hadn’t been that much time.

He heard a knock at the door and he jumped up. Besides Jensen, he hadn’t had anyone over since he had moved in. Not even the girls had been over. Jared looked suspiciously at the door.

Finally, he crossed the room. He opened the door slowly, not that there was going to be much he could do, besides his right hook.

He didn’t have to worry, there stood Jensen. Jared exhaled deeply and it felt like he had been holding something in for the last few days.

“Hi,” Jared said with a huge smile.

Jensen looked a little of a mess, hair still wet, and shirt misbuttoned. Nothing had ever looked better in Jared’s eyes.

“I’m sorry, I was a little busy,” Jensen said, speaking quickly and coming into the apartment. before Jared could touch him like he’d been dying to for four days.

Jensen moved in to pace through the living room. Jared just stood by the open door for a second, blinking before shutting it.

“My ex was in town,” Jensen started, and Jared tried to figure out what expression that confession warranted.

“That absolutely wasn’t why I didn’t see you, that was work,” Jensen said. “But I wanted you to know that she was here and I didn’t see her and I didn’t want to. She was the horrible one. She’s kind of aggressive and it was unhealthy like you wouldn’t believe, and I’ll tell you about it sometime if you want, but I am so into you, and all I know about relationships was from her, and I just thought that you should know because we’re dating and I like you.”

“Okay,” Jared said, crossing his arms. He really didn’t need to hear this, but honesty was really great and Jensen was being so cute. Besides, Jensen was kind of revved up and listening was always a good skill for a boyfriend to have.

“There’s more.” Jensen came in and began to pace. Jared sat and just watched, trying not to smile or laugh.

“See, there is a guy at work and we were spending the last couple of days together on a case,” Jensen began to mumble. “I swear it was only work, but I need to be honest because secrets always get found out. So I almost kissed him. He’s great, but there is you. I didn’t kiss him because I like you and I want to see what happens with us. I want this to be a real thing, but once again I have no idea how to do it. I just know that if I kissed him, then I would be another ex- boyfriend who was horrible to you and I didn’t want to do it. I just want to be with you.”

Jared tried not to smile. He tried not to do a dance of glee, and just nodded seriously. Because for some reason he was really glad that Jensen liked him and Aero liked him, and Bombshell was in jail. His life was pretty much perfect. He wanted to dance a jig.

Instead, he just looked at Jensen seriously, but hopefully not enough to scare Jensen off.

“And I know--that is,” Jensen stammered. “I came here as soon as I could because I really, really wanted to tell you that I want us to work out because I think I love you and I hope you’re okay with the hot, tempting coworker, and the hot ex-girlfriend who drives me nuts. I’d like us to be exclusive so we can figure out what’s between us and if we can have something and not other people.”

Jared breathed in to stop himself from joining Jensen in insane over share and simply said. “Okay.”

Jensen’s jaw dropped.

“You mean… Why aren’t you flipping out?” Jensen mumbled. Jared was a little fascinated by this not-quite-perfect Jensen who was stuttering because he wanted Jared to be okay with his life instead of the appearance of being perfect.

“I guess because you chose me,” Jared said slowly. “I mean, there’s always temptation in a relationship, but you’re here and you chose me. I’ve never had anyone be this honest, so I’m going to trust you because you told me.”

Jensen got an odd look on his face.

“You’re leaving something out,” Jared stated, hoping that the ‘secret’ that Jensen was going to let loose was something he already knew and not something that was actually a deep dark horrible secret.

“Well, the thing about my ex-girlfriend is that…,” Jensen sighed. “She’s kind of my ex-wife.”

Jared nearly swallowed his tongue. That was a something he didn’t know. Jared tried to keep his face blank because he was not prepared him for this shiny piece of information.

“Kind of?” Jared squeaked.

“Well, it was in Eastern Europe in a country that no longer exists and it was all a little shady,” Jensen sighed. “So we don’t know how legal it is, and so divorcing is a little problem if we don’t know if I’m legal. Which I’m sure is a turn on to the guy I’ve fallen for, but it’s my past, warts and all. You’ve been uncomfortably open and I thought I should be too and see if you wanted to keep me.”

Jared couldn’t help but grin, because he really wanted Jensen to say that one little thing to his face. It was almost there, but Aero had said it and Jared just wanted Jensen to confirm it.

“Any more secrets?” Jared asked, praying that there wasn’t.

Jensen seemed to be thinking seriously about it for a second. After some searching and consideration he shook his head.

“I swear I didn’t kiss my co-worker,” Jensen rushed to say. “Or my ex-wife, I didn’t even see her. I’m not trying to cover anything. I’m just standing here telling you everything about me and I do, I love you.”

Jared stood up and crossed the room and kissed him. He felt the relief roll off of Jensen. Jensen arched a little into his touch. It was small, but something in the trust Jensen was offering him meant so much.

That didn’t stop Jared from making a mental note to check in with Misha on how to make sure that Jensen was actually divorced. He kind of would like his boyfriend not to have a wife.

He pushed that away and then was kissing Jensen and he wanted to sink into it. He wanted to forget everything else.

He pulled away and looked into Jensen’s hazy eyes. It was all there, the want and the love. Jared’s heart was pounding in his ears. This moment was too much. He couldn’t enjoy the moment; there was just too much coming at him at this moment.

He seriously needed to clear his head. He just needed a second to breathe, just to take it all in.

“Maybe we should go for a walk,” Jared suggested. “It’s a pretty day and I want to have sex with you, but you just made this big confession, and there were so many layers and there’s processing that’s required. So let’s walk, talk, and I’ll process.”

Jared had been sitting in a room with Aero for the last four days and that had really been a huge amount of flirting and temptation and now his body was rebelling after what Jensen had revealed. “Blue balls” was putting it lightly how he felt, but as much as he wanted, there was the ex-wife and the almost cheating and the love. Jared just needed a second to assimilate.

“We’ll walk in the park for like an half an hour,” Jared suggested. “Like swimming--wait for half an hour after eating? We’re waiting half an hour before taking this to the bedroom.”

Jensen just looked at him long and hard.

“You really aren’t like anyone else,” Jensen said finally.

Jared just gave him a big smile. “I really don’t think so.”

**

“So then my little sister decided this was the time to discover her love for mud. Don’t forget, this was in the dress she was supposed to be wearing to be the flower girl, and remember also that this dress was white,” Jared said, telling a story from his childhood, trying not to laugh at the memory.

Jensen’s chin rested on his hand and his grin was visible behind his fingers.

“I remember,” he said, trying not to laugh at the Padalecki siblings’ antics.

Jared was thrumming with the nearness of Jensen. He was relieved that he could finally touch Jensen again and had taken the opportunity many times. Each time it was like a jolt of electricity.

They were sitting in the park, sunlight streaming down on their slightly pale skin. Jensen was sitting cross-legged and Jared was sprawled all around him.

Jared felt something tug at the back of his neck. This time, it wasn’t powers. It was just instinct. It wasn’t something that had happened before, but as with everything else, he didn’t question it. He knew enough to bounce with life.

Jared looked up and saw two people strolling through the park.

He couldn’t look away, because that sight was something that wasn’t supposed to be here.

His high school ex-boyfriend was walking through the park with a tall, beautiful woman. She was hot, but Kyle had never been one for women. It was a little weird. This was miles from home and miles from anything that made sense.

Jared was staring, transfixed. His heart was beating a million miles an hour. Kyle had been a nice enough guy, but he had also been run out of town as a batshit insane Supervillain. According to Command’s presentation, he was Hyperponic too and minion to Superevil.

A blonde Superevil who was supposed to be locked up.

“Holy shit,” Jensen swore under his breath. Jared looked at him and Jensen’s eyes had gone all wide.

“Jared, I’m sorry. You know that ex-wife I mentioned?” Jensen said hurriedly, absolute terror going through his eyes. “I have no idea what the fuck she would be doing here.”

That was more than enough confirmation of everything Jared had postulated about: Bombshell was no longer incarcerated in the Crystal Dungeon of Epic Doom, and that Kyle-the-super-villain had most likely helped her escape. Jared was powerless, and even if he wasn’t, he would still be out of his league.

He had absolutely no idea what to do with this situation. It seemed like calling Command at that moment would be overly suspicious to the currently freaked out Jensen. Besides, Command had said that his phone was off. Jared didn’t even know where the idea came from, but it was going to be what he tried first. He’d try the cell phone if this immediate instant gratification plan didn’t work.

Misha! Command!, he yelled in his head. He didn’t figure it would work; he had absolutely no powers flowing through him right now, but he was sure going to try. He screamed as loud as he could in his head. He screamed his brain raw.

He almost missed the buzzing of his phone.

Jared picked it up, giving Jensen an apologetic smile as he stood up, taking Jensen with him. He tried to pace them but also to get them out of the path of the oncoming Villains.

“Hi,” Jared said with strained cheerfulness

“What the fuck is this mental paging thing?” Misha said tiredly. “I swear, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to be conscious for weeks. Then out of nowhere, there’s this sound in my head. It’s like screeching nails on a chalkboard. Where the hell do you get that? How the fuck can you do that? I’ve never even heard of that.”

“Hi, boss,” Jared said cheerfully. “Oh, really? The people from yesterday are up to it again. I thought you said that they were going to be in the hospital for awhile.”

“Bombshell is there,” Misha said, suddenly very interested. “This is, well not good seems to be a huge understatement, but not good. I’m seriously going to kill whoever was supposed to be watching her.”

“Oh, that’s great,” Jared said through clenched teeth. “It is always good to have familiar company.”

“Well, I’m assuming that Jensen is there,” Misha said hurriedly. “Do not> let her touch him. I repeat, do not let that bitch near him. Do you understand? He’s Ballistic--when he’s with her, he’s Ballistic. He can’t stop it. I really don’t have time to explain. Can you do that?”

“What do you think I’m attempting to do?” Jared said through clenched teeth.

Jared went through a litany of mental swearing because he was well aware of what Ballistic could do; he had done some checking in the database when Aero was sleeping back when they were in the Lair. Ballistic was out of control destruction when he was powered up. An Element on the side of Evil was horrific, so Ballistic was pretty much the high bar of that.

Jared stole a look over at Jensen who was white as a sheet. He tried not to be afraid of Jensen. This was still Jensen, this was still just the guy, but that power was there, rippling just a little bit. The guy he liked could easily rein destruction on the entire City.

“He’s Redeeming himself,” Misha said soothingly. “He’s good, I know these things. He’s probably the best person I know. You aren’t reading him wrong, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you read a person wrong.”

“Okay,” Jared said, it sounded like a curse even to him.

Jared reached out and interlaced his finger with Jensen’s and whispered. “Let’s go home. I don’t want to meet your ex.”

The grateful look Jensen shot him was so pretty it nearly broke Jared’s heart.

“So, I’ll come into work in an hour or so,” Jared said into his phone, shooting Jensen an apologetic look. “You can get me someone to work with.”

Misha moaned. “I’m going to try to move and get some kind of plan together. Just distract him while I do that, and just so I’m clear this time you should totally have sex with him. I have to figure out what to do and my brain is so slow right now.”

“No worries, boss,” Jared said softly, he reached out slowly, taking Jensen’s hand.

Jensen didn’t react at first, just watching their hands. Then his fingers curled and Jensen let out a long breath. A tiny bit of color came back into Jensen’s cheeks and he gave Jared a small smile, pulling him closer. Jared watched as Jensen attempted to glance back and place himself between Jared and Bombshell.

The small amount of panic faded as he read the signs that Jensen was trying to take care of him, trying to shelter ‘innocent Jared’ out of the fray. It was a little endearing. For the first time in his life, Jared didn’t bristle under the fact that someone else was supposed to be in charge. Jensen was stronger and Jared let himself being led out of the park and towards his house.

Jared hung up the phone and bumped his shoulder against Jensen’s. “Sorry, I got called in.”

“Okay,” Jensen said distantly.

Jared stopped and took a peek over Jensen’s shoulder. He still felt powerless but he could throw a mean punch if need be. He couldn’t see anything anymore, but just knowing they were there made him just want to get Jensen to his place and hide out for a little bit.

“Hey,” Jared said. “It’s been a nutty day, but I have an hour before I have to go to work. Come upstairs?”

Jared leaned in and kissed Jensen. Jensen lips moved under his, tongue skating out and tracing his bottom lip. Jared’s hands came up and cupped Jensen’s head. He held Jensen to him, Jensen moved a little. Jared pulled back and looked at Jensen. Jensen blinked up at him.

Jared almost removed his hands, but Jensen covered his and kept them there and then tilted his head upwards. Jensen’s eyes were so open, they were a little out of control.

Jared pulled away and took Jensen by the hand and let him into his bedroom. He carefully maneuvered Jensen to the bed.

Jensen let Jared move and cover him, to touch him. Jensen just hung on while Jared’s mouth ghosted over his skin, wordlessly promising to protect him. Tattooing that promise all over his skin with his mouth, with his hands.

For all of his writhing, Jensen was silent. Jared slid up his body once again.

“Jared,” Jensen whispered, it was need and want.

“Anything,” Jared answered.

“Can you?” Jensen said, his voice so small.

Jared buried his head into Jensen’s shoulder, he couldn’t help the moan that rumbled through his chest, didn’t even want to.

Jensen whimpered a little.

Jared kept his face in the nape of Jensen’s neck, let his hands skate over the abs and rock hard stomach of one of the most powerful people on the planet. He let his hand momentarily curl around Jensen’s weeping cock, pre-come slicking his hand. He gave a few strokes and Jensen was whimpering a little.

“Please,” Jensen begged.

Jared pulled himself away from Jensen, just for a moment, he reached into his nightstand and fumbled for the lube and the condoms. They hadn’t done this yet and he was shaking.

He looked down at Jensen who was sprawled on the bed, his legs thrown open wide and wanton. Jensen’s body was flushed and he had hardly been touched. He lay waiting, his mouth open and panting.

He grew a little impatient at Jared’s staring. He reached his hand down and began to slowly jack himself. Jared shook his head and got with the game. He covered Jensen again, removing his hand and opening the bottle, spreading some on his fingers.

Jared watched Jensen’s face. Whispered promises of all the things that he was going to do, wanted to do, while his fingers moved steadily in and out of Jensen moving and pulsing.

“Jared,” Jensen said, out of breath and impatient.

Jared laughed and moved over Jensen again. He positioned himself and watched as he slowly slid into Jensen. Jensen’s whole body arched, the muscles in his neck straining.

“Let go,” Jared whispered to him. “Let go and just let me fuck you.”

Somewhere in Jared’s room something fell off a bookshelf, in fact many things fell off bookshelves, but Jared began to move in and out of Jensen.

Neither of them were silent anymore and the air was electric around them.

They both were going to be very late.

**

Jensen’s phone rang as they were basking in the afterglow.

Jared gave a silent thank you to Misha for both giving him this hour and eleven minutes, and also for teaching him flexibility in yoga that made him able to bend in ways that were deliciously obscene. If Jensen didn’t already love him for his mind, he would totally love him for his body.

He did make the mistake of looking around his room, which looked like a tornado had gone through it. Jared knew that it was going to take forever to clean it, but it was totally worth it. He was kind of proud that he made Jensen lose control enough to do even minor destruction like this.

Jensen hung up the phone and sighed. “I’ve been called into work too.”

“Well, I guess that means that we have to figure out how to walk again,” Jared said, nipping at Jensen’s earlobe.

“Yeah,” Jensen moaned, leaning into Jared’s mouth. “I don’t think this is the way to get us out of bed into the land of responsible adults.”

“I don’t wanna be a responsible adult,” Jared whined, but felt a little relief that they were going someplace where they would be safer. Jared’s house was a good temporary shelter, but HQ would be better. It would be better when they had their suits on and their other Superheroes around them.

It took about fifteen minutes to get out of bed, between the quipping and the touching. Jared really liked Jensen and he was going to do everything he could, his weak powers be damned, to protect Jensen from Bombshell.

Jensen left and Jared tore into his cache and put on his Kevlar Spandex suit. He was out the door as quickly as possible. He just wanted to get to HQ and meet up with Jensen as soon as possible.

He couldn’t feel the tingle of power, he couldn’t feel anything that made him special. He could still feel Jensen’s stubble burn on his neck though, that was incentive enough.

“I am so epically lame,” Jared sighed. He had this internal compulsion to be a hero, to save one of the strongest creatures on this planet armed with nothing but a mostly impenetrable suit and a smile.

He swallowed and opened the door because doing something was better than nothing. He was into HQ in a matter of minutes. When he walked in, Command was waiting by the elevators. He immediately took Jared by the arm and steered him to the Annex. Jared didn’t say anything, the look on Command’s face was absolutely thunderous.

Nobody made eye contact as Jared was bodily dragged through HQ.

Command threw off his mask.

Jared just stared at him.

Misha’s eyes were a little wild.

“Jared,” Misha said, voice on the edge of losing his mind. “They nabbed him on his way in. She has him. He’s Ballistic again.”

 

four

“Can you save him?” Jared asked.

It had grown dark and Misha had stood by the window. Jared had slid down to the floor. Jared was still powerless, something that he could usually deal with, but he could feel the hopelessness coming off of Misha in waves.

“I don’t know,” Misha said, voice small and un-Command-like. “Jared, I just faced down Bombshell. Breaking into her, making her mind pliable, is hard. And it’s like every time I break into her, she heals stronger. I can never get in the same way.”

Jared swallowed, but didn’t give up. “Can you get to him? You did before.”

“I’m really weak right now,” Misha admitted. “The only reason that I was able to get your mental page is because you were transmitting. I’m not getting anything from you right now. I’m numb.”

Jared’s jaw clenched and he balled up his fist.

“You are fucking in charge,” he said through clenched teeth. “Do something. You tell me how to save him.”

Misha looked at him calmly.

“I have a lot of ideas, but nothing concrete,” Misha said tiredly. “I don’t know who she is. I need to know who she is under the mask and Jensen never knew or never remembered. I need something to jar him out of it and I don’t think I can get to him right now. So in summary, I don’t know how to find her and I don’t know how to get him out of this. All suggestions at this point are more than welcome.”

There was a loud crash as Jared kicked a metal trashcan against the wall. Then he kicked it again. He was fuming and angry. He had hoped that Misha would solve everything like always, but there was nothing. Nothing. He felt more helpless than he ever had in his life.

“Breathe,” Misha said.

Jared didn’t want to breathe, he didn’t want to find the calm.

But this was Command’s voice and he listened to it, because he didn’t have anything else to do.

And then his mind cleared and pieces began to form.

Jared cocked his head and spoke slowly. “I saw her today. Remember, that’s what made me call you. I could probably identify her.”

Misha finally turned form the window. “You got a good view?”

“I saw her and Kyle in the park today,” Jared said slowly. “She’s five seven, blonde, and has features that some would call absolutely stunning. She is not someone you forget easily.”

Misha nodded. “Okay, first promising thing I’ve heard.”

“Oh yeah,” Jared nodded. “Let me tell you I have my boyfriend’s ex burned into my memory.”

Misha bit his lip. “I can pull the records of everyone who has come through customs in the last few months. Blonde woman from Eastern Europe; I mean there’s got to be a few, but if you know her face…”

Jared was getting an idea. “I’ll recognize her and then we can find out her name and we can find out pretty easily where she is in the city.”

Misha nodded. “Okay that will work for the first leg.”

Jared stood up and began pacing. He had something in the back of his head. It was a lot of what ifs, there were a lot of contingencies, there was a lot hanging on his guesses.

Misha was watching him. “I can feel you thinking, but I can’t hear you at this point. You have to talk to me.”

“You aren’t going to like this,” Jared said. “It’s against every single rule. Ever.”

Misha raised an eyebrow. ”You do know that the rules are just something that we make up as we go along.”

“I knew it,” Jared said, any other time it would be a more victorious moment. “But you’re also going to not like this.”

“Hit me,” Misha said with a sigh.

**

“I take it back,” Jared said. “This is stupid.”

Misha looked at the picture on is screen.

“She looks like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth,” Misha sighed. “Joanna Krupka entered the country a week ago. She’s here on vacation according to her immigration papers. She might see some sights, but she also is apparently hell bent on destruction, stealing your boyfriend, and using him for said destruction.”

They had been in this room for a few hours and details seemed to fall into place. They had found out what they could about her and the suspected place that she was holed up in.

And Jared had a plan.

One that he was currently nervous about.

One that that he was totally regretting volunteering.

Misha stepped up closer to him. With their masks off, Jared could read Misha’s face more clearly. Misha’s eyes were full of concern, but they were honest and confident.

Jared swallowed. “Can we go back to playing by the rules again, please?”

Misha stood up straight, once again the confident and sure. He picked up his mask and put it on.

“Stop doubting yourself, you’ve come up with the only plan that might work,” Command said. “You always believed that you weren’t inferior. Somebody told you at some point in your life that you were Class Two because you didn’t have control. But when I read your file, something seemed off, and when I met you, I was a bit surprised at the caliber of your power. You may not have control of it like you’d like, but you have a huge resource bank. You have a survival instinct like nobody else. You may not have access to all of your powers when you want them, but you aren’t helpless. Your power seems to protect you. I have faith that it will be there no matter what.”

“I wish I had your faith,” Jared said in a small voice. “What does that mean right now?”

“It means that your subconscious wants the best for you,” Command said with his calm serenity. “It will always give you the powers you need to survive any situation.”

“Well, I have nothing right now,” Jared said, his anger reduced to petulance.

“No,” Command said serenely. “You have the strongest thing that can help Jensen, maybe the only thing that he’s reacted to in a long time.”

Jared leveled his chin at Misha.

“Your face,” Command said. “From the first time you two met, your face has been floating around his head. From the first time you met, something softened in him. The first time you spoke to him, you made an impact on him, and you’re the only person I’ve seen him let in. I never heard anything but bad songs go through his head until he met you. After he met you, I only saw your face. Right now, he doesn’t need another Superhero, he needs Jared. He needs your face because nothing else is going to penetrate the hold she has on him, at this point.”

Jared stood stock still, all fight evaporated.

“Oh,” Jared said. “Well, that’s good. Cause that is just about all I have at the moment.”

“You don’t need the suit, you know,” Command said softly. “You’ll have the powers that you need to have when you need to have them.”

“Are you sure?” Jared asked. “About me, about my powers protecting me?”

Command sighed. “No. It’s a theory.”

“That doesn’t help,” Jared said, standing up straight.

“I’m really good at what I do,” Command informed him. “I don’t make wild guesses. My have always panned out.”

Jared just looked at the floor. “And them?”

“Do you trust them?” Command asked.

“You’re the psychic,” Jared said, his voice far away. “Shouldn’t you know who I should trust?”

“No, Jared,” Command said softly. “I trust them, but this isn’t about me. You are going to be naked in front of these people; you’re going to lay yourself bare. I need you to absolutely, positively trust these people. If you have doubts, this could all go wrong.”

Jared sighed and leaned his head against the glass.

“The girls, they won’t all go evil at the same time,” Jared said tiredly. “The three of them make something stable, and I can trust them because they like Jared and they like Archetype. I’m pretty sure they adopted me on day one and try to pry me out of their hands.”

“And Chaos?” Command asked, the thin line of his mouth turning into a smile again.

“I’d rather have him on my side,” Jared sighed. “If I involve him, he will do everything he can for our side. I can’t promise that he won’t royally screw things up, but at least he will be doing it for us.”

Jared looked a little worried. “Do you think that the Superhero Shield of Obliviousness will protect me? I mean if I step out and say that Jared is Aero’s boyfriend, won’t they connect that back to Jensen.”

Command shrugged. “It takes more than a strong crack over the head for anyone to remember in the long run. I’m more worried that they won’t be able to hold onto the memory and connection to you for a short time. I think they’ll protect you, but part of me worries that in the stress of a fight they’ll lose it.”

“It’s really that strong?” Jared said.

“If they haven’t had practice at remembering it or if there aren’t strong true emotions, then the memory disappears,” Command sighed. “I even used to forget. It took a long time for me to be able to think clearly about it.”

Jared blinked, there were a lot of implications to this.

“Seriously…this explains so much about my exes,” Jared muttered.

Command laughed. “Okay, go sulk in the shadows. I’m going to let them in.”

“I’m too tall to sulk in the shadows,” Jared mumbled.

“Get in there,” Command demanded.

Jared moved to hide. Command made sure that he was properly masked and opened the door.

“What the fuck?” Chaos said, coming into the room. “We just were up for four days catching that bitch and now you want us to come back in? What the fuck?”

The girls followed, much less peppy than usual.

“What the annoying man said,” Flayme muttered, dropping down to sit at the table. “Just with less fucks, cause I’m a lady.”

Tayme and Rayne slumped in their chairs also.

“I’m sorry,” Command said. “I know that you’re all tired, but we just received news that Bombshell escaped.”

“Oh fuck a freaking duck,” Flayme said.

“So we have an issue,” Command said. “Bombshell is out and she’s working with Hyperponic, and they’ve got Aero.”

Everybody sat up straight.

“You wanted Aero here when everything went down,” Tayme said gently looking for answers. “Even though he’s our strongest fighter.”

Command didn’t say anything.

“We were all wondering if there was something going on,” Chaos said, obviously prodding.

Suddenly Rayne sat up straight. “Fuck a fucking fuck.”

Everybody but Command looked at her startled.

“Three years, amazing power, he’s Ballistic,” Rayne said in awe.

“I quit,” Chaos said, standing up.

“Aero is Redeemed,” Command said. “Bombshell’s powers warp him though, so he’s a bit vulnerable.”

They all were silent.

“Fucking shit,” Chaos muttered, sitting down again.

Tayme looked around. “Why are we here? We’re barely a minor threat to her and probably not even close to a bother to the legend of Ballistic.”

“Unless the rumors are exaggerated,” Flayme said hopefully.

Command shook his head. “The rumors are understated. I made sure. Whatever you’ve heard about Ballistic, he’s worse.”

Everybody just sat there a little agape.

“So why are we here?” Chaos said, trying to sound blasé, but coming off as a little nervous.

“There is a plan,” Command told them. “I need you four on special duty.”

They all just looked at him.

“We’re sending in Aero’s boyfriend,” Command said. “Your job is to get him into where Aero is so he can do his work.”

They all just looked at him again, waiting on more, but there were many questions on their faces. All of them looked like they were gathering all their arguments.

Command went on hurriedly. “He’s a good guy who is willing to help us. I am tapped, and I don’t want us to try to fight her and lose people. The plan is not to get Bombshell, but to get Aero back. She needs him, but if we can break him from her, turn him against her, then we have a chance. The only thing that will be able to shock him into returning is his boyfriend’s face.”

“No,” Tayme said with complete definiteness. “We are not putting a civilian in front of Bombshell, especially one that wants to steal her boy-toy’s affections. Putting a powerless person in front of Bombshell isn’t going to end well. Like the City flattened not ending well.”

“It’s okay,” Jared said, coming out of the shadows. “I’m only mildly powerless.”

From the neck down he was dressed in Archetype’s outfit, the one they all had seen and worked with many times. From the neck up was their friend Jared.

They spent a few seconds blinking; no one spoke..

Finally Chaos got up and pulled Jared aside, whispering to him urgently. “Jared, man, what are you doing here? You shouldn’t be here.”

Jared cocked his head. Of all of them, he didn’t expect Chaos to be the one to show him concern. Chad never seemed to care too much. Right now he seemed to care a little too much, trying to shield Jared from the rest of the room.

The girls were looking at each other, talking out their thoughts and trying to make connections.

“Jared is dating Aero?” Tayme said.

Flayme nodded. “Jared is Archetype.”

“Fucking hell,” Rayne said. “Lucky ass bastard, Jared’s hot ass boyfriend is Aero.”

Chad was the one who put it together first. “What about Jensen?”

Well, he kind of put it together first.

Flayme thought about it. “Hmmm. That is interesting.”

“Jensen is a Superhero?” Chaos asked.

Flayme’s eyes squinted and she said slowly, as if he was stupid. “Because Jared is Archetype.”

Jared looked at Command, whose lips were pressed in a thin line.

“This is going to be a challenge,” he muttered.

**

The girls finally vaguely managed to retain understanding, but from the look in their eyes it was a hard fought battle and it looked like it was something they really had to work on keeping in their heads.

Rayne and Flayme had gone to get Jared some street clothes. Chaos was with Command, supposedly trying to push into Chaos’s mind to keep Jared/Archetype in there. Tayme was sitting in the Lair with Jared, waiting for all the details to be ironed out.

“Did you always know who we were?” Tayme asked, after she realized that she had been staring at Jared for an awkward amount of time.

“I had telepathy when we first met at the gym,” Jared admitted. “I had already met you at the training workshop, and your thought patterns were similar.”

“Does Jensen know who you are?” Tayme posed thoughtfully.

Jared shook his head. “No, he only knows Archetype, but Jensen just knows Jared. I had to keep it separate.”

A look crossed Jared’s face and Tayme leaned forward. “So is that a good or bad thing?”

Jared shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s a bit of a control freak. He tries to be okay with things that just happen, Jensen is pretty anal-retentive and Aero seems to like his world in order. I don’t really know if I fit with both of them.”

Tayme shrugged. “Oh honey, I’m sure that he will be fine.”

Jared looked at the chair she was sitting in and remembered when Jensen had been sitting there. He hadn’t kissed Archetype, because he loved Jared. He tried not to focus on what could be and think only about the immediate.

“Where did you go?” Tayme said.

Jared shrugged. “The last time he was here, he said he’s really attracted to Archetype, but he wouldn’t kiss him, or me or whatever, because he was in love with his boyfriend. I don’t know how he is going to take this whole Superhero thing. The whole mask thing is definitely a complication. Aero really likes his boyfriend.”

Tayme raised an eyebrow.

“Ha,” Chaos laughed, having quietly entered the room and overhearing. “That’s how I know that you aren’t for real; Aero would never say that.”

Jared finally spoke. “Who do you think I’m not?”

Chaos got a confused look on his face and then it turned to arrogance again. “I’m not going to fall for your mind games. I’m too smart for that.”

“Not likely,” Tayme muttered.

“Okay, he’s as good as we’re going to get him,” Command said coming in, followed by Rayne and Flayme and their shopping bags. “Let’s focus. I’ve sent teams ahead to the Krupka house. Everybody will be in position. I’m trusting you guys to march Jared in there and protect him from what you can because he’s only going to be in jeans and a t-shirt because the whole costume is going to muddle things. He’s got to be just Jared.”

Chaos had a puzzled look on his face. “I don’t think we should bring Jared into a Superhero war.”

Command looked at Jared and rubbed his forehead. “I really wish you had other friends.”

**

“You going to be okay going in without the suit?” Tayme asked curiously as they waited for everyone else to get their coms.

“The suit doesn’t do much besides slow bullets, sometimes not even stop them, which we probably won’t find many of, those. Mostly, it’s a security blanket,” Jared admitted. “You know we feel differently when we’re dressed differently,”

“The clothes make the man,” Tayme agreed.

“I don’t even have powers all the time,” Jared sighed. “I mean, it’s just a persona. It’s still me, occasionally vulnerable me, under there. We’re all something similar under our suits. Trust me, I’ve seen you in civies and in the suits - it is just a matter of semantics.

“I know,” she finally said and then looked down at her hands before muttering. “I’ve known for awhile who Chaos is.”

Jared looked at her in surprise. “Really?”

Tayme shrugged. “Chad has been doing something like dating Danneel for five years and his dog is a big dumb talkative mutt. It’s actually been kind of funny, although a little confusing on my part for awhile, but it doesn’t seem to be something that I can easily forget.”

“They’re really in the worst relationship I’ve ever seen,” Jared said, really wanting to have someone to talk to about this. Command didn’t like the gossip. “Hilarious, but I think that they’re stupidly perfect for each other.”

“And you?” Tayme asked with a smile, seemingly not wanting to gossip. “I mean, you’ve been talking about this Jensen guy since we’ve known you. So is that the real thing? You know he’s Aero and you still want to stay with him?”

“God, I hope so,” Jared said with a sigh. “I want it to be. And if it isn’t then we’re screwed. This whole plan hinges on it being real.”

Tayme stopped and tugged at his arm, he looked down at her.

“Jared,” she said. “Do you care about him?”

Jared stopped for the first time since Misha had told him what was going on. “I love him.”

He felt the tears prick behind his eyes. Tayme rubbed his arm.

“I really didn’t expect this,” Jared forced out. “Relationships seemed to be something that I do really badly. From the time I got my powers, I really didn’t expect normal. I thought that they were all lying. Then I met this guy who was funny and got me, and I found that he really understood me and the things I went through. Now there is a good chance that everything is going to fall apart, especially civilization. So yeah, my relationship is the least of today’s worries.”

“Nothing will happen,” Tayme whispered. “We’re the good guys. He is one of us. We’ll bring him home and you guys can do your thing.”

“Promise?” Jared asked in a small voice.

“Promise,” Tayme affirmed.

They didn’t discuss that this was an impossible thing to promise.

**

Tayme, Chaos, and Jared were walking through the sewers.

Chaos was grumbling, trying unsuccessfully to hold his white outfit out of the muck.

Suddenly, Jared started laughing.

Chaos and Tayme looked over at him.

“You don’t hear it?” Jared said. “They’re funny.”

Chaos looked at him as if he were insane.

Realization dawned on Tayme. “Oh, the cockroaches.”

Chaos shrieked and held his pant legs up higher, he jumped around, looking everywhere.

Tayme sighed. “They’re in the walls. The cockroaches are kind of clueless and hilarious.”

Chaos looked very confused. “I can’t hear them. Why can Jared?”

Tayme opened her mouth, but it was Jared who just shook his head. “We don’t have time for this. Just trust me. I can hear the cockroaches.”

“The cockroaches are great, just trying to survive,” Tayme explained as they walked on. “The rats now, stay away from the rats; they’re always on the take.”

Jared made a face. “How does someone like you move to the city? Shouldn’t you be in the woods? Why do you want to fight crime?”

“Holy fucking Christ,” Chaos shrieked.

They looked up; there were two dogs growling in front of them, saliva dripping from their jaws, their eyes red.

“What the hell do we do now?” Chaos said, moving to hide behind Jared, who he was supposed to be protecting.

Jared could hear them. Their minds were whirling and angry. He stepped forward, it only seemed to irritate them more.

“Jared,” Tayme said softly.

Jared shook his head and took a step forward, holding out his hands.

“They’re still in there,” Jared murmured. “She has a hold of them, but they’re not like that.”

“It’s okay you two,” Jared said, addressing the dogs softly. “You don’t have to go back. I promise you don’t have to be anywhere but here.”

Their growling softened a decibel.

“It’s okay, I know that she’s awful,” Jared said gently. “I know that she’s hurting you, but it’s going to be okay.”

Tayme came up to him and handed him a piece of beef jerky. He looked up at her confused.

“I hear animals,” she said. “I always have something with me. They’re bribable.”

Jared looked at the frothing mutts in front of him and wordlessly took the jerky. He turned towards the dogs and held out the jerky. He just hoped that he wouldn’t lose a hand in this encounter.

The dogs looked confused.

“They’re going to bite your fucking hand off,” Chad squeaked.

“Will you show me the way in?” Jared asked in a soothing voice. “Will you help me?”

In his mind’s eye, Jared was pushing at the binds on the dogs. He could feel Bombshell’s power and it was as if the dogs were on PCP. Jared tried to reach out and sooth their burning little brains. Whatever Bombshell had created, it was almost impenetrable. He pushed with his mind and held out his hand to offer the dogs the jerky.

Finally he felt something give and suddenly a very large dog and a very energetic dog were coming at him. Their eyes were no longer red. They just looked like two big dogs.

Chad let out the most unmanly yelp and almost ran away as the dogs bounded over to Jared. They took the food from his hand and began to lick him.

Jared looked up at Tayme.

“I see why Command was sure that you needed to be here,” she said with a smile.

“Not entirely sure if winning over the pups is going to help,” Jared said, his hands buried in the golden fur of the dogs.

Tayme just grinned.

“Their names are Sadie and Harley,” Jared said with a grin. “They had forgotten.”

Tayme prodded. “Does your apartment allow dogs? I think you may be stuck with them. You promised to take care of them.”

Jared looked at the dogs. “If I live through this, I’d like to take on all the things Bombshell screwed up.”

“Well lets get saving that other thing that Bombshell is currently screwing up,” Chaos asked.

Jared stood up and the dogs stood by his feet.

“Let’s go,” Tayme said softly.

Jared looked at the end of the tunnel.

“Okay,” he said, sounding very unsure.

**

“They’re in place,” Command said in Jared’s ear bud.

“I would feel so much better if you were here,” Jared muttered.

“I’m about as useless as a kitten right now,” Command sighed. “I am better in your ear than getting the harsh end of her wrath.”

“Well, that might be a better distraction,” Jared pointed out.

“Yeah, but I couldn’t get to him and her right now,” Command told him. “Besides, you’re already there.”

“Wouldn’t want to waste the trip,” Jared said, worry marring his voice.

“You’re going to be fine,” Command told him.

“You can’t tell the future,” Jared said with a sigh.

“No, but you’re special,” Command told him.

“Is this where you say that the power has always been inside of me?” Jared tried to joke.

“Not the coach of your hockey team either,” Command told him.

“Makes me wonder what you do,” Jared told him.

“I’m your yoga instructor and your boss,” Command reminded him. “Both of those are big enough jobs. If you want cheerleaders, I’m pretty sure you’ve got three of them, maybe four on Chaos’s good days.”

Jared breathed deeply. “Then I’m definitely going to go dark now.”

“Bring him back,” Command said.

Jared nodded and breathed deeply. Tayme and Chaos stayed in the shadows with the dogs.

He walked into the light. The room was huge with vaulted ceilings; it was mostly empty and had a few balconies. Lounging on a chaise lounge in the center of the room was the absolutely stunning Bombshell, wearing grey smoke latex that looked like it was painted on.

Next to her, dressed in obscenely tight matching grey latex was Jensen. She was touching him. He was still, almost zombie like. His eyes were focused on nothing. Jared watched as Bombshell touched his arm and he looked up down at her. He looked drugged as he stared at her. Jared would have no qualms whatsoever about killing her and if he had to hurt her first, then he really wouldn’t mind.

Jensen gave a fake saccharine smile; he was like a creature on roofies. Jared seethed, because it wasn’t fair to live like that. It was so wrong.

Jared swallowed; he didn’t make a move, didn’t make a sound. None of them did.

Jensen looked up and straight at Jared, and for a second, the zombie-glaze cleared and Jensen was looking at him in the shadows.

It was Jensen. He was still in there.

He stepped forward.

Bombshell looked up as the flicking of his sneakers echoed through the room.

Ballistic was once again impassive, but his eyes stayed on Jared, something warring behind them. Bombshell looked between the two of them, waiting to see how this was going to play out, how she needed to react.

Finally, Ballistic stepped forward.

“Jared, what are you doing here?” The voice was a little stiff, not quite Jensen, but Jared would take that. There was a little piece of Jensen in there, just a little tiny part and Jared clung to that.

It was hope.

“I’m here to make sure you get home,” Jared said steadily.

Ballistic wavered.

Bombshell stood up and whispered in Ballistic’s ear.

“They sent the boy,” she said. “He wants to saddle you, make you follow all those rules, to conform, he wants to take you home and put you back in that box.”

Jared looked at Jensen, didn’t look away.

Somewhere behind him he could hear Chaos question, “And being the she devil’s sex puppet is being out in the big wide world? What a load of crap. If it wasn’t, then I would totally sign up for that job.”

Jared ignored him; all he saw was Jensen under all the latex.

“I don’t care what you do,” Jared said. “I don’t give a fuck if you leave me, if you decide to date someone else, or join a monastery. Just don’t stay with her.”

Ballistic blinked, trying to process, and Jared saw a stronger flicker of Jensen again.

Bombshell turned to Jared.

“Where the fuck are my guards?” she barked.

Flayme and Rayne popped up on the balcony, sounds of a scuffle behind them. Jared was sure that Angel and Cajole and a whole host of other Supers were up there, putting everything in order. “Sorry, honey, we took care of them. You’re not hurting our boy.”

Bombshell turned back to him.

“Have you said hi to your ex?” she asked sweetly.

“Hi Lover,” said Kyle, now Hyperponic, and stepped out from one of the curtained off areas.

Angel came and vaulted over the edge of one of the bannisters, followed by Flayme and Rayne. Angel jumped at a group of oncoming guards. Flayme extended her hands and fire singed out. Tayme was right next to her calling on thunder.

Bombshell was watching impassively. Nobody was moving to attack her, everyone was attempting to keep everyone else away.

Jared just stood there, the dogs at his side. They had chosen, now it was Jensen’s turn. Jared’s hands were balled into fists, but he was keeping calm. He didn’t have a lick of power and all around him, supernatural elements were warring. He didn’t flinch, he just stood there being the only thing that he could count on. He could hear the girls, the lightning and the screams. He could feel the world around him explode.

He stood still. He was Jared and that was enough.

Behind Jared he could hear the dogs, he could hear Chaos; all around him he could hear powers going off, he could see streaks through the air as the fight in the room went on.

His entire world consisted of Jensen’s eyes.

“Come home,” Jared said quietly in the loud din of the room.

“He is,” Bombshell hissed.

Jensen kept looking at Jared. He was blinking often, but Jared didn’t know what that meant. Jared couldn’t reach for him, Jensen had to take the step forward.

“I love you, Jensen,” Jared told him.

Suddenly Jensen broke through and smiled, still a little drugged, but something very Jensen returned to the man in a grey latex suit. “You came.”

Jensen took off his mask and walked towards Jared.

Suddenly there was a large ball of energy flowing towards Jensen’s head. Jared couldn’t reach him in time. He knew that there was nothing that he knew how to do to save Jensen and for an instant he felt his heart break.

He acted without thought. He didn’t know how he did it; he had never seen anyone able to do what he did.

Around both Jensen and himself was a bubble--no power could get through. Jensen turned and watched as Bombshell’s attack broke and streaked across an invisible force field that surrounded them both.

Jensen looked as the air above them sparkled with some kind of protection. He turned towards Jared.

“Are you doing this?” he asked.

“Yes,” Jared said, looking in wonderment as he kept the bubble around the two of them. As Jensen walked closer the bubble got easier to hold. He could hear the fighting and explosions, but it was as if it were far away. He had the feeling that there was something safe and quiet inside of their bubble.

He felt safe and protected, like nothing in the world could ever touch him if he didn’t want them in. He was in control of everything.

“You’re a Superhero,” Jensen said, looking up at him.

“Six foot four, new to town, charming smile,” Jared pointed out.

Jensen just looked at him.

“Archetype,” Jensen replied.

They stood there for a second, barely registering the screams around them. Jensen still seemed to be shaking off the effects of Bombshell. He seemed to still be in a haze. Jared was just in amazement at what his power had created.

“You can yell at me soon, but I need to finish this,” Jared said quietly.

“How?” Jensen said.

Jared just smiled. He didn’t know how he knew how to do what he had to do, he just did.

He saw all the power coming at him, bouncing off his shield and he knew what he wanted to do. It wasn’t even a question of if he could do it was just a matter of seeing what was around him and figuring out what he wanted to do.

He put down the shield and he looked at the Supervillains. Jared held his hands out and Bombshell’s powers and Hyperponic’s powers flowed towards him.

It crackled blue, but it formed a ball into his outstretched hands. It grew but was docile in as he held it and formed it, it was as if he had live flowing energy in his hands. He felt like he had what gave the Super’s the leg up in the world. He felt like he was holding life.

Bombshell and Hyperponic’s faces wore identical looks of shock.

“You shouldn’t be able to do that,” Bombshell accused.

Jared looked at the ball of sheer power between his hands.

“I know,” he said.

Then he pushed the ball back at them.

The entire room exploded as Bombshell and Hyperponic blinked out of existence.

**

Jared came to consciousness slowly.

He woke up in a clean room with wide-open windows; he could hear cars driving by in the distance. There were beeps of machines that were connected to hands that he couldn’t feel. Misha was sitting on a windowsill, looking out of the window. He was dressed in his white outfit, but his mask was off.

“You’re in the hospital here at HQ,” Misha said, without moving. “You drew a lot of power and it knocked you out. You’ve been out for two days.”

Jared didn’t move, didn’t make a sound. His body felt like a lead weight and he didn’t think that he had the capacity to swallow at this moment.

“It’ll come back,” Misha said. “Somewhere, someone you met had to have had super healing so once that kicks in you will be fine. If you didn’t run into someone like that, then I’m pretty sure that your brain will figure out a way anyway.”

Jared closed his eyes. He remembered what it was like the thrum of power, he had felt everything that he was and he had just chosen. He had taken parts of everything that he had ever touched, he had picked and chosen what he wanted. A lot of it had been Jensen’s Elemental power, but bits and pieces of it had been plucked from other people’s abilities. He had woven them together to create something new. He didn’t know how he had done it, but he had done it.

“You did something in there that nobody on this planet can do,” Misha said in a hushed tone, his mind reading powers had apparently come back online. “You made your own super power to save you, to save Jensen.”

Jared blinked.

Jensen?

Jared thought, but he also tested if he could push it into Misha’s head.

“He’s physically perfectly fine. He’s gone home,” Misha told him.

Jared didn’t know how he felt about that.

“I sent him there,” Misha said. “He was confused and fucked up, and you’re mute and temporarily paralyzed. I know it would have been romantic for him to be by your bed when you woke up, but kid, trust me--this is much better. I don’t know if he is going to remember. We’re going to have to give it time to even out. Chaos doesn’t remember a thing , which I’m not surprised about. I don’t know how much Flayme and Rayne remember. It looks like Tayme will, and dogs don’t seem to forget anything.”

Dogs. Sadie. Harley.

Mish gave him an appraising look. “You’re getting good at transmitting.”

Jared closed his eyes again, because doing that had sent a jolt through his brain, bringing on a little headache. The pushing was a little difficult.

“Yeah, they’re yours now,” Misha said. “Tayme said they adopted you. She’s kind of looking into finding you an apartment that allows dogs, is big enough for those two huge things, and that you can afford. Since she found out, she’s kind of nominated herself your caretaker.”

Jared opened his eyes again.

Misha continued. “So I’m going to bring in those mutts that have been looking for you for the two days that you’ve been down, and you snuggle with them, get a jump start on your subconscious and heal. You’ve created something here.”

If Jared could feel anything, he thought that he would cry.

“Be careful,” Misha said. “You’re gonna feel really crazy right now, like when you get hung over. Don’t think that any of it is real.”

Jensen.

“Please Jared,” Misha asked. “Let it settle. I know him. I was there the first time. He’s just seen his demons, seen you break through his walls into every other persona. Jensen has survived by compartmentalizing and that’s just exploded in his face. Please don’t push it, not until we know how things are going to settle.”

He won’t go evil.

It was more a piece of hope than a statement.

Misha shrugged. “I don’t know Jared. I’ve worked with him for a long time not to be. I think he’ll hold.”

Jared looked up at the ceiling. That was all he could do; he couldn’t cry, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t scream.

“So let’s talk about you,” Misha said, attempting to change the subject. “Let’s talk about the fact that your power seems to be growing.”

For once Jared didn’t want to do that.

Can’t talk. Hurts to do this.

Misha’s smile widened a little. “Oh, I meant I was going to talk about your powers. You’ve been patient, thought I would tell you what you are.”

Adaptive Class Two.

Misha snorted. “Have you ever taken on Class Two powers?”

Jared blinked. He had never thought about it before.

“I’ve checked,” Misha told him. “Never in your life have you taken on Class Two powers. You’ve never been weak in a fight, you’ve never been at a disadvantage. You just don’t get to pick and choose what you have, some kind subconscious effect. What you do is pick and choose what will benefit you the most.”

Jared raised an eyebrow.

“You’re a Class One,” Misha declared.

Jared’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.

“You’re a vessel,” Misha said. “You’re smart and organized and you have an innate understanding of every power. It is quite intimidating, but you have capacity of Class One, actually with the whole making of your own power I feel like you could be Elemental. I’m not really all that sure about it, what you are is nothing that we have a classification for, but it isn’t a Class Two. In fact, it surpasses Class One.”

Jared closed his eyes.

“I’m used to being the best,” Misha said quietly. “Then I met Jensen, while I’m a good leader, the power that I have fades into oblivion next to him. I’m fairly sure that what you can do is on par with what he can do. I’m good, but you, well, you’re almost scarily great. Jared, you’re better than I ever assumed you were. I don’t know what the ceiling for your powers is and I don’t know what you won’t do when you are threatened, but you are quite possibly the most amazing thing I’ve ever been lucky enough to witness.”

Jared opened his eyes and looked at Misha. He knew that he should be very happy. He though that this moment would feel like a whole world of vindication.

But he felt so very lost.

All he could do was look at the ceiling as Misha left the room.

**

Jared didn’t know when he fell asleep, but when he woke up it was dark. He could feel a little more: feeling was coming back into his shoulders.

He rolled his head, hearing rustling to his right.

Jensen sat in the chair by his bed.

Jared just looked at him, not quite trusting his voice yet.

Jensen looked back.

“Did you know on the train who I was?” Jensen asked.

Jared shook his head slowly.

“Did you know that first night on the rooftop who I was?” Jensen continued.

Jared hesitated.

“Did you figure it out then?” Jensen tried again.

Jared nodded.

Jensen swallowed, and looked overly pensive.

“Aero was a dick,” Jared managed, voice raw from underuse.

Jensen looked at him for a second and let out a laugh.

“You thought I was a dick?” Jensen asked incredulously.

“Aero,” Jared rasped.

“Oh,” Jensen said, brow wrinkling. “But you still dated me.”

“Jensen,” Jared told him, suddenly his body started to feel better. “Dated Jensen, Aero got better.”

Jensen swallowed.

“I’m both of them,” Jensen said softly. “I haven’t really thought about that consciously for a long time, but I am. You’ve seen all of me; the good and the really bad. If you don’t like Aero, then you don’t like all of me.”

Jared swallowed.

“Which would be fine,” Jensen said. “But you know all of me. You don’t just want one side and a lot of lies. You want all of me and there is a part that you don’t like.”

Jared swallowed. “That was only in the beginning.”

Jensen shrugged. “I’m also the guy who nearly burned the world. It is complicated and it would be easier if you didn’t have to deal with it all, but you know now and I can’t make you unsee. So I get that. It was easy to be Jared and Jensen, but with you I’d have to be Jensen and Aero and you’d always wonder if you were going to see Ballistic again. So I’m going to go and we don’t have to worry about this.”

Jensen looked at him, his green eyes firm and solid. He was cold and professional and Jared didn’t really know what was going on.

With that, Jensen turned to leave.

Jared managed to sit up. “You remember me.”

It was horse and tired, but it was is voice coming out loud and clear.

“What?” Jensen whispered and paused, but he didn’t turn around for a few seconds..

When he finally did his face was under a smooth mask.

Jared tried to put as much emotion as he could into his eyes. “You remember me, most people don’t.”

“Does that mean something?” Jensen asked, his voice tired.

Jared sat further up, his hands able to move him to upright. “I think that it does.”

Jared’s words were spoken softly, but they seemed to echo in the empty room.

Jared breathed in deeply and laid himself bare.

“I’m not that bad,” Jared told him, pushing words through his throat before pain closed it again. “I think you might be scared, and that’s fair with everything you’ve been through, but that’s no reason to treat me like this. You’re being arrogant Aero again, hiding behind the attitude. I’m not some busty chick who’s going to make you forget everything about yourself and destroy the world. You can leave, find another name and another town, but I’m still here. I don’t need to be your Sidekick, but I’d really like to be your boyfriend, to all of you, even the parts that aren’t pretty.”

Jensen looked at him, all the fight drained out; he was blank.

He left.

This time Jared didn’t call him back.

Jared sank back on his bed, feeling the loss. He understood in the way that he had never understood his own nature. He had never tried to be two people, but he had been on the receiving end of it too many times.

He wasn’t going to chase after him. He had stopped doing that a long time ago. He could fight Villains, but he couldn’t fight other people’s demons.

He wasn’t going to try.

But for the first time in his life, he felt tears streaming down his face at the loss.

**

Jared was completely healed the next day; apparently something had clicked on. He left with the dogs. Misha had found him an apartment, and he used moving as a way to stay away from headquarters for a week.

The new apartment was large and comfortable. His last apartment was cramped and small and more than Jared could afford; this one was big, with ceilings that were well above his head and a park across the street. Misha said it cost less and Jared was pretty sure that Misha was lying, but he didn’t question whatever kind of deal Misha had got him so that he could be in this apartment. Jared couldn’t be bothered to have pride over something like money.

He felt beaten even after his skin was healed – his emotions ragged. Jensen had entered his life and wrapped himself unknowingly around all the little parts of it - the man and the Superhero.

Jared always thought that if he was ever told he actually was a Class One, he would be happier about it, that maybe he would call his mother or a few ex-boyfriends and brag. Being a Class One or even a Class One Plus was something that was beyond what he resigned himself to, but he didn’t care. It was as if he had always known what his power was, it was more hurt pride that others didn’t recognize it, but he knew what he was.

However, he kept seeing Jensen’s eyes, those big green eyes in his perfect face and all those freckles.. He almost had all the parts, but like always it slipped away.

He let himself mope for a little bit.

It lasted a whole day before he was tired of sulking.

He texted Misha and told him not to call him for duty for a week.

For one week Jared took the time to be normal. He went running with his dogs, he went to work as a normal EMT, and he made his own meals. It was peaceful in a way he had never known.

And he felt so empty.

At the end of the week, Jared got into his Superhero uniform and walked back into HQ, into Command’s room. Command was in white, meditating.

Command opened his eyes and looked at Jared. Jared stood in his Spandex Kevlar. He needed it more than ever; he felt paper-thin.

Finally, Command cleared his throat. “I’m going to need you to fill out some paper work. I’m certifying you as Class One. You can put down ‘Adaptability’ as your new power. Feel free to reinvent yourself, but you can also stay as Archetype if you want. Maybe stay below the radar--it’ll be better if others continue to underestimate you.”

Jared felt like screaming because he didn’t want to deal with paperwork. He wanted so badly to hit something.

“Flayme and Rayne don’t seem to remember the Jared/Archetype connection,” Command continued. “Tayme fully remembers you. I think I was wrong about Chaos. I seriously do not understand him; it’s like he’s oblivious to the Obliviousness. He seems to know you’re both, but he isn’t able to acknowledge it.”

“What does that mean?” Jared asked honestly curious.

Command regarded him steadily. “Well, you will find out soon, won’t you?”

Jared inhaled sharply. “I need to fight. I have no power right now, but put me in a situation right the fuck now because I need to do something.”

Command looked at him, steadily. Then shrugged.

“Sure,” he said. “I’ve got a job, but you asked for it so no complaining.”

Jared looked at him funnily.

“You’re going out with Chaos,” Command said, voice still as rough as sandpaper. “He has your mission tonight. He has point. You may have the power of a god, but you will listen to him tonight.”

Jared looked at him questioningly.

Command shrugged. “You haven’t finished your paperwork.”

Jared sighed. “I can be a Sidekick for a little while longer.”

Command shrugged and looked down at his console. Finally, he let out a sigh.

“All he thinks about is you,” Command told Jared.

“Chad?” Jared asked.

Command gave him a slightly condescending look. “Of course not. Jensen. He thinks about you even more than before. He can’t even mask how much he thinks about you.”

“I thought you weren’t my guidance counselor,” Jared said, the ache in his stomach twisting and aching, Command’s words only made things worse.

“I’d rather you don’t go evil,” Command told him.

Jared tried to swallow his pain. “I’m going to take Chad and start a new arch-nemesis racket.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” Command said dryly. “He’ll be an easy one to defeat.”

Jared tried not to laugh.

“Seriously,” Command told him. “If you’re talking about teaming up with Chad, I know you’re not serious.”

“Or you could just read my mind,” Jared replied. “I’ve heard that you’re fairly good at that.”

Command smiled under his mask; it was definitely Misha’s smile. “Good boy. Now go have fun with Chaos.”

**

“You’re pissy tonight,” Chaos said. “Did you find out?”

Jared trudged through the street because of course he was momentarily powerless. However, he was pretty sure he could channel all of his pent up emotions through someone’s face if need be. There was also that thing that Command kept saying about his power manifesting when he needed it. He felt like he was a force to be reconned with.

“What?” Jared was a curious as to what Chad’s mind had concocted this time.

“That your boyfriend is stepping out on you,” Chaos said like it was common knowledge and no big deal.

Jared blinked. Chaos had seen Jared with Aero; Jared was wondering how he was connecting the dots, which dots he was connecting. Jared tried to focus on that and not the real idea that Jensen could have found someone else, which logically didn’t seem feasible with who Jensen was.

“With who?” Jared asked. “Bombshell? They’re really not together. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that Bombshell’s atoms are still together.”

Chaos rolled his eyes. “No, with Tayme. They’ve been patrolling together.”

Jared had to suddenly fight the hysterical laughter. He was quite sure that Genevieve was the last person in the entire would who would think of stabbing him in the back.

“I don’t think that he’s seeing her,” Jared managed in a strangled voice.

“I thought he was dating some normie,” Chaos said. “Some dude from back in the sticks. He seems to be a bit loose.”

Jared never knew when Chad was going to connect the Superhero with the man. It was a little ridiculous. He didn’t say anything though, he just looked toward their destination. The building had a huge radio tower on top. Something was off about it.

“Why are we here?” Jared asked suddenly.

“Command got a tip that there was a new Supervillian here,” Chaos offered. “We’re supposed to do recon.”

Jared looked at the building; there was something really wrong.

“Don’t worry,” Chaos offered “I’m pretty sure that there will be lackeys for you to hit.”

Jared felt the thrum go through him and all the sudden he was rubber.

“What’s wrong?” Chaos asked.

“Who told Command about this?” Jared asked, hearing footsteps and moving towards the building.

“Dunno,” Chaos replied shiftily.

Jared felt the pieces running through his head, and suddenly he got it.

“Oh fuck,” he said.

And then he blacked out.

**

Jared came around. He was stretched impossibly far.

“Seriously, the rubber thing? Super annoying.”

Jared heard a voice--Kyle, aka Hyperponic.

Jared lolled his head and saw the guy that he had been in love with when he was thirteen. Jared was so glad that he had been pushed off that train. “So sorry.”

“You don’t conduct, either,” Kyle said, wiggling his fingers, blue electricity sparking between them.

Jared just looked at him. “Seriously, do you want me to apologize for not being easy to kill?”

“It would be helpful,” Kyle sighed. “You were always more difficult than you were worth.”

Jared just glared at him.

Kyle grinned. “I bet you’re wondering how I survived.”

Jared groaned. He hated talkative bad guys. Dr. Demento had been one; it had put a bad taste in his mouth. Well, in Dr. Demento’s case it had been the monologues and the whole fucking of his boyfriend, with Kyle it just was the talkativeness.

“You reassembled because you’re all radio waves,” Jared cut in, hoping to head this one off at the pass. “The tower out front gave you a place to focus all your molecules.”

Kyle made a face. “You’ve always been annoying.”

“Missed you too,” Jared said dryly.

“Can you two fuck already,” Chaos said from somewhere around Jared’s feet. Jared lifted his head and saw Chaos tied up on the floor. “Seriously, it would totally help as I’m trying to escape.”

Kyle whirled around. “He’s a totally terrible lay.”

Jared opened his mouth to retort, but someone else answered.

“He’s actually not,” came a deep growling voice.

Jared really thought he was imagining things.

“He’s actually the kind of guy who fucks you and you just want to die because nothing is ever going to be better,” Aero said, coming out of the shadows.

“Oh fuck,” Chaos moaned, “Please kill me now. Pretty please?”

Kyle looked at Aero.

“Ballistic,” Kyle said.

“Nah,” Aero said coming closer in black leather. “Aero.”

Kyle sneered.

“So, how did you like fucking my ex–wife? I always found it kind of dull,” Aero said casually.

Jared was watching him. He really had never noticed how in control and sexy Aero was in that leather.

“I absolutely wouldn’t know,” Kyle said, surprised.

“He thinks that vaginas are gross,” Jared offered.

“All those fluids,” Kyle said making a face.

“Please, somebody kill me, like, seriously. Or take pity and burn off my ears,” Chaos muttered.

Aero stepped forward. “So why were you working with her?”

Kyle shrugged. “Money. She had tons, and I needed some to build things. She wanted you and was willing to pay me to help her.”

“And Jared?” Aero asked.

“A bizarre coincidence,” Kyle said. “I mean, totally weird running into your ex-boyfriend in the city and seeing him dating your mark.”

“Jealous?” Aero pushed.

“Not so much,” Kyle retorted. “I dumped him.”

“Dear lord,” Chaos whined.

“Okay,” Aero said evenly.

“Seriously, he gets dumped by everybody,” Kyle sneered. “He really doesn’t seem to get it.”

“Hey,” Jared said offended.

“You know, he’s just like a puppy,” Kyle continued.

“Is that why you have him here?” Aero said, his voice full of controlled anger. “You are so dismissive of him, he doesn’t matter, but you just have to make him feel worse?”

Kyle glowered.

“No, seriously,” Aero told him. “You find this amazing guy and you suddenly get too big for your britches and you leave him, then you realize that he was the one that you let get away?”

Jared was confused; he didn’t know if Jensen was speaking from the heart or speaking out of his ass to annoy Kyle.

“Are we still talking about me?” he wondered out loud.

Aero looked at him, softening, if at all possible. “New rule: you get to dump me. I want to be the first person you dump.”

Jared perked up and then snapped back. “Wait, we’re still together?”

“As touching as this is, I really don’t need any of you. I have all Bombshell’s money—“

“No, you don’t,” Aero interrupted, turning hard again.

“What?” Kyle screeched.

“I do,” Jensen said.

“I don’t believe you,” Kyle told him.

Aero shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m actually still legally her husband. All her money, including what she was going to pay you, is all mine. I’ve made up a will; all the money is going to be distributed to the countries we destroyed if anything happens to me. Actually, it is mostly going to do that anyways.”

Kyle just looked at him stunned.

“So, you were actually married?” Jared asked.

“Yep, feel free to dump me at any time,” Aero said, still not turned towards him.

“For having a dead wife?” Jared asked.

“I’m sure it isn’t a commodity,” Aero replied.

“Not really the end of the world,” Jared said.

“Sorry,” Aero said. “Well, with my ex, it might be. I figure it’s a whole bunch of things in a line, including the stalking you that I’ve been doing lately, that reflect poorly on me.”

“You’ve been stalking me?” Jared asked, just a little bit confused.

Aero rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s why I’m here tonight.”

Jared looked confused.

“I wanted to make sure that you were alright,” Aero said, finally looking at him.

“ENOUGH!” Kyle yelled, frustrated.

They all went silent.

“You two are a bunch of jabbering monkeys,” Kyle screeched. “Your life is in my hands and you’re debating semantics. You have no idea how to kill me. You do anything and I’m just going to turn to waves and then turn back. This is not some Sunday brunch--this is for real, this is both of you dead. You want to establish the exact status of your relationship? Go on fucking Facebook. ”

“Actually,” Chaos said coming up behind Kyle. “There is one thing we can do to you that you won’t return from.”

Chaos put his arms around Kyle.

“Feel the fucking power of Chaos, bitch,” Chaos said, wrapping him in a bear hug.

Kyle struggled, but Chaos held him close. Kyle warped and waves formed and then fluttered.

“Y-y-you’re fuck-k-k-k-k-k-ing everything up-p-p-p-p-p,” Kyle stuttered.

Chaos grinned. “Always. It’s my specialty.”

Aero and Jared watched as Chad hugged him until his body evaporated into nothing.

He left the world with a scream.

They were alone in the empty lair, Aero standing firm, and Jared still stretched on the rack.

“So that is what you do. Will he be able to get back together?” Aero asked.

“Not a chance in hell,” Chaos said with a grin. “Things always go missing around me. I have never finished a puzzle in my life. Pieces always go missing.”

“Something to be real proud of,” Aero muttered.

“Uh, guys,” Jared said, feeling his body start to de-elasticize and groan painfully under the stretching as his power receded.

**

Jared lay in the real hospital this time, waiting for someone to see to his shoulders.

“You knew we were going into find him,” Jared said, hearing Misha approaching.

He looked over, and it was Misha sans mask. He was wearing comfortable pants and a white t-shirt.

“I brought clothes,” Misha said holding up a bag.

“You knew we were going into a trap,” Jared repeated.

“It wasn’t so much a trap since Chaos knew about it and Hyperponic didn’t know you were coming.”

“Misha,” Jared sighed.

“Yeah, I was willing to put money on the fact that he was there. It made sense,” Misha said, coming to sit down on the bed. “Chaos knew and you were spoiling for a fight. I thought it would give you vindication or something to clean this mess up since I kept you out of the fight for so long.”

Jared tried not to move, both of his shoulders had been dislocated and reset and the muscles around them were sore and aching. He wasn’t going to be able to use them properly for a while if Super healing didn’t kick in.

“I didn’t do anything,” Jared said, in what was a shame even to him, petulantly.

“I knew Chaos was the one that could take him,” Misha said. “But it was good for you to be out there with him. I don’t want to sideline you anymore. Besides, you’re fine.”

“You’re turning out to be a manipulative bastard,” Jared told him.

“I just know more,” Misha said with a grin. “I’m like a puppet master.”

Jared smiled despite himself. “It would be so much more annoying if you weren’t so good at it.”

Misha winked at him.

“Jared, my man,” Chad said coming into the room. “What the hell did you get yourself into this time? And why is your yoga instructor visiting you in the hospital?”

Misha looked at Chad with his piercing blue eyes. “He seriously can’t be this thick.”

Chad was whistling.

“Hey, Chad,” Jared said quietly.

“I’m kidding, you know,” Chad said. “I mean, I have no idea why your yoga instructor is here, but I know who the hell you are. You think I’m totally stupid.”

“You do go in and out of it,” Misha said dryly, standing. “I’m going to go get some coffee.”

Misha left the room.

“Whatever, I totally shish kebobbed your ex,” Chad said superiorly.

“I still cannot believe that you told Kyle that you were escaping when you actually were,” Jared told him. “And I can’t believe that he fell for it.”

“I always try to have people underestimate me,” Chad told him.

“Bang-up job on that one,” Jared muttered and then looked at the wall innocently.

“I seriously can’t believe that you date such idiots,” Chad said with a smug grin. “I mean I told him what I was doing. So what’s up with your newest boy toy stalking us?”

“Didn’t Command send him?” Jared asked, fully expecting this to be part of Misha’s master plan, even though Jensen said he thought of it on his own. Jared wasn’t really ready to believe that Misha wasn’t part of it.

Chad shrugged. “Not that I know of. I think Aero was avoiding Command. They’ve got some weird vibes going on.

“He followed me?” Jared asked.

Chad looked at him as if he were an idiot. “That’s what he told you. Seriously, you should stop thinking that everything is a huge plot and maybe believe that some things are as they seem.”

Jared blinked. “In my experience they usually aren’t. Not in our world at least.”

“Really?” Chad asked, looking as if he was thinking very hard. “That seems like a complicated place to be.”

Jared just looked at Chad and for a second Jared seemed to be able to understand Chad. It was remarkably simple.

He took a second to apply that outlook to his own life.

He just wanted a chance. Masks or no masks, he just wanted to live his life and see what happened with everything. That was the entire reason for being in the City and not being home.

Then he blinked and couldn’t make sense of it again. It was like Chad had his own defenses.

“I’m beginning to think that Tayme was trying to talk him into going back to you. I don’t think he was cheating on you,” Chad said with authority.

“Chad, I don’t think that my love life should be something we discuss,” Jared said tiredly.

Misha popped back in the room with a cup of coffee.

“What did I miss?” Misha asked. “Please tell me we are done with the romantic drama.”

Chad looked at Jared like Misha hadn’t even spoken. “I know that Aero can be a dick, but don’t be an ass and cheat on him with that other guy.”

Misha and Jared turned to look at him.

He really just wanted to ask who Chad thought he was, but that was too confusing so Jared just waited to see what he thought about Jensen.

“He’s one of us,” Chad added. “We don’t dump each other for pretty pieces of ass.”

Jared just gaped at him.

Chad got distracted. “I’ve got to go. I have a thing with a girl!”

Both Jared and Misha watched him leave the room.

“How much do you think Chad actually knows?” Jared asked.

“Not much,” Misha answered.

“Do you think that he knows that Jensen is actually Aero?” Jared asked.

“I have no idea,” Misha replied. “Chad’s head is like a tornado. Maybe, probably, and not a chance in hell. He’s oblivious to the obliviousness.”

Jared sighed and closed his eyes. “I think maybe he may be the sanest of us all.”

“God help us,” Misha sighed.

**

Jared healed and returned again to the dogs and to his apartment. Misha told him under no circumstances was he to return to patrolling for a few days, so there was only normal life for a little bit.

Genevieve was at his house with the dogs when Jared got back from the hospital.

“You meddle a lot,” Jared told her right off.

She grinned. “It’s nice to see a potentially healthy happy relationship. It gives me hope.”

“Chad and Danneel not doing it for you?” Jared asked.

Genevieve snorted and then made him sandwiches.

They were sitting on the couch, sprawled out like the dead when Jared spoke up.

“Do I call him?” Jared asked. “Or do you think he was just taking my side over Kyle’s?”

Genevieve gave him a long-suffering look. “He was following you, making sure you were okay, getting glimpses of you. It’s all terribly romantic.”

“Or something you need a restraining order for,” Jared said with a smile.

“Good luck getting that,” Genevieve told him.

“I could call,” Jared said looking at his phone, knowing he wasn’t going to.

“Wait for his call,” Genevieve said. “He’s gotten pretty good at knowing where you are.”

**

Jared had a life to live. So he did just that. He didn’t spend a huge amount of time fondling his phone, thinking about it.

Or at least that was what he told Genevieve.

So he went on a really long run with the dogs, not stopping until he was back the park near his apartment. He dropped down to lay on the ground, pretty sure that he had nearly run a marathon. He just wanted to keep going, but his shoulders were aching something fierce.

He closed his eyes, panting.

Something blocked the sun and then plopped down next to him.

“So, I thought that maybe the best way to get back with the guy I was a total asshole to, but still kind of wanted to date, was to bring him lunch,” Jensen’s voice said, crunching into something.

Jared opened his eyes and Jensen was sitting there in a suit. A messenger bag was sitting on the ground next to him, and he had a sack of baby carrots in his hand, which he was eating one by one.

“That’s lunch?” Jared asked, his nose wrinkling.

Jensen let out a sheepish smile. “Some of us don’t have super metabolism but still have to wear skin tight suits.”

Jared’s mouth went into a straight line.

“Yeah, I didn’t think carrots would win you back to me either,” Jensen said with a laugh.

He opened his bag and pulled out a sandwich wrapped in wax paper.

“Roast beef from the deli,” Jensen told him.

Jared smiled. “That’s good.”

Jensen pulled out a container. “Egg salad from the same deli.”

Jared’s smile grew.

“Potato salad and antipasto, which I have no idea what that is exactly, but I got it anyway, and cole slaw,” Jensen said, setting down the containers.

“That’s better,” Jared replied, trying to hide his smile.

“I also got you the world’s biggest water and a fork,” Jensen said, putting a liter of water down and holding out a fork.

Jared snatched the fork from him. “I cannot be bought, but my momma always said I can be very easily bribed.”

Jensen grinned and ate another carrot as Jared dove into his spoils.

“How’d you find me?” Jared said, mouth full.

Jensen just rolled his eyes. “I almost forgot--napkins.”

He rummaged in his bag and brought out a wad of napkins.

Jared raised an eyebrow. “How well you know me.”

“That I hope,” Jensen said.

Jared grinned and ate more, raising an eyebrow to remind Jensen of his question.

“Let’s just say I’ve become absolutely remarkable at stalking you,” Jensen said sheepishly.

“Well, that is remarkably creepy,” Jared said.

“It isn’t something I’m overly proud of,” Jensen admitted.

Jared thought about it and then nodded. “Continue while I eat this delicious food.”

“You want to know what changed,” Jensen guessed.

Jared nodded and continued chewing.

“Well, Genevieve--real Genevieve, not Tayme--showed up on my doorstep,” Jensen began. “I thought it was odd. I don’t have women friends, well, I don’t have any friends really, which Genevieve liked to point out, but she told me all about how being some super bitch’s toy had made me skeptical, and she told me she got it, but what she didn’t get was how there was this guy who genuinely liked me, both in and out of the mask, and I was just going to let him go. She went over and over how exceptional he is. She talked a lot and wouldn’t hear anything else. Then she ended by saying that she needed positive role models in this and I had to do it.”

Jared raised his eyebrows.

Jensen thought for a moment. “Then she showed up for patrols, she showed up to feed me; she was pretty much my shadow when, you know, I wasn’t your shadow. It was really weird. Then when you were in the hospital she came and ate ice cream with me. She made me tell her exactly what happened and then she poked me until, well, I found you now. She wanted me to do it somewhere where we couldn’t automatically have sex. But the food was totally my idea.”

Jared just looked at him.

“So in conclusion,” Jensen said with a sigh. “I’m a Superhero, you’re a Superhero, we work and help people in our other lives and in both of them I love you, so I would really like it if you forgive me for being a dick based on the stipulation that I will work on my immense fear of being totally destroyed by another person.”

Jared shrugged. “It can’t be easy.”

Jensen nodded. “I don’t know how you do it, you have a few evil exes and you’ve had some doozies of relationships, how do you do it? Then there is the whole, I’m capable of evil thing. I’m not sure how to move on from that. It seems like I’ll always just be one step away from uncaring and Evil.”

“I don’t know,” Jared said putting down his food and looking at Jensen. “If you don’t go on, if you don’t change. If you don’t put new experiences and memories between you and the thing about yourself that you don’t like, you won’t ever be any different I guess.”

Jensen just looked at him for a long time.

Jared just looked back and finally spoke, he was okay that it came out a little breathless. “Just for the record, this doesn’t feel wrong. This doesn’t feel like something that needs to be over.”

A huge smile cracked over Jensen’s face. “Oh, that’s good. That’s really good.”

“Good because depressing topics would ruin my appetite and this stuff is very, very good,” Jared said taking a bite of the sandwich.

“So the chances of second chances?” Jensen asked.

“I believe that your argument was excellently prepared,” Jared said, reaching for the coleslaw.

“I brought chocolate cake too, if that helps,” Jensen offered.

Jared grinned. “Totally not needed at this point, but I will accept, on all accounts.”

 

end

Aero was crouched on a rooftop.

“So, here’s the deal,” Jared said coming out of the shadows.

Aero turned around and slowly looked Jared from tip to toe.

“God, I love Kevlar spandex,” Aero muttered.

“You’re leering,” Jared said with a grin.

“I never had the chance,” Aero shrugged. “First, I was trying to ignore you and then I had a boyfriend. It never seemed appropriate before.”

Jared felt Aero’s stare and it made him feel giddy enough to fly.

“But anyway, you were saying,” Aero said still staring.

Jared couldn’t stop smiling. He had wanted this, the openness, the opportunity to be with both Aero and Jensen. This was what he wanted.

He never thought about what it would look like to have everything that he wanted.

It looked like a boyish grin under Aero’s mask, and that was a stunning sight.

“Is there supposed to be a big Superhero speech here?” Aero prodded, his smile still strong.

“I, um,” Jared said, trying to find his words.

Aero laughed.

“Well, the thing is that Command certified me as a Type One, but only the Wyerd Sisters and Chaos and you know,” Jared said, trying to remember his speech. “Command said that most people wouldn’t take well to a ‘demi god’ being part of the crew, and he thinks for the time being I should keep my new classification under wraps. He also said I need to officially designate a person to be my partner so that that person or persons can take care of me, and so that he can start me on this kind of leadership training. I swear to god that man makes things up as he goes along and then makes them sound like a long-held tradition.”

Aero gave him a smile and pretended to contemplate this.

“Chaos would probably make you go for lattes and to pick up his dogs,” Aero began. “Make you do lots of busy work. You probably shouldn’t go for him.”

“Okay,” Jared said, because he wasn’t even thinking about Chaos being his partner.

“And the girls,” Aero said with an even tone. “They’d make you reach things on high shelves and break your ear drums with their high pitched squeals.”

“Too true,” Jared agreed.

“So that kind of only leaves me,” Aero offered.

“I thought you didn’t work with others,” Jared teased.

“I think I can make an exception,” Aero said.

“I accept,” Jared said with a grin.

“So you’ll be my partner,” Aero said playfully.

“In name only,” Jared had to add.

“And you’ll be my boyfriend,” Aero continued.

“In every possible way, including some nights when my powers will make some pretty impossibly dirty things possible,” Jared agreed.

Aero grinned and stepped forward.

“Aero, Archetype, if you will kindly refrain from fondling each other for a minute, there are some bad guys who need your attention,” the coms in their ears said, giving them a tinny version of Command.

They looked at each other and grinned.

“Ready?” Aero asked.

“Always,” Jared replied.

“Let’s go save the world,” Aero said.

Jared blinked. “When did you get so pragmatic?”

Aero winked. “Pretty sure you know the answer to that one. Get the lead out—first one there gets a blow job.”

Jared laughed.

And they went out to save the world.