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It’s fifteen minutes past eleven when the buzzer finally sounds. Jared humphs, throwing down his phone and rising from the couch. At least this one had the decency to still show up. So far his two no-call no-shows and one girl who only stayed for five minutes and decided the place wasn’t for her hasn’t left Jared with much optimism.

He hits the button next to the door that unlocks the downstairs entrance and hears a click, and then the hurried stomping of boots up the stairwell.

He almost laughs at the guy, fist raised to knock and mouth agape from breathing heavy as Jared pulls open the apartment door.

“I am so sorry,” the guy wheezes. “So so sorry. I took the 7 train instead of the N like a dumbass, and it took forever for the right train to come….”

“Ah, yeah, that’ll do it.” Inwardly, Jared grimaces. The guy said he was new to the city, but he didn’t think he’d be that new. “C’mon in! Jensen, right?”

“That’s me,” Jensen says as they walk into the living area. “So sorry again; I left super early and everything.”

“Don’t worry about it, man; everyone’s got a story or two about their subway mishaps when first move here.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Jensen’s eyes sweep around the living room. “So, hey, nice digs.”

“Ha, well, I’m glad you think so. So, yeah, welcome; lemme show you around.”

Par for the course for New York apartments, it’s small and not exactly up-to-date, but Jared has put some time and love into the place to feel a little more homey and welcoming. The living room’s wood floors creak as he shows Jensen the small entertainment center (“No cable, but Netflix and the Xbox do a pretty good job in its place.”), the kitchen (stocked with fairly good cooking equipment that Jared was happy to share, provided it was washed and put away properly), and the sliding glass door that lead out to the very small balcony overlooking the road.

They walk down the hallway toward the other end of the apartment, and Jared pushes open the bathroom door. “And the bathroom. Sorry, it’s just the one, so we’d have to share it. Oh, and whenever you turn on the shower, it makes this weird, screeching noise for the first ten or twenty seconds. Kind of annoying, but at least there’s no trouble with the hot water.” Jensen just nods.

That just leaves the bedroom. The vacant one Jensen would be in is right across from Jared’s own. “So,” he says, showing them in. “Not huge, but the closet size is decent, and the previous girl who was in this room had a queen size bed and a dresser in here too.”

“Man…” Jensen says. “Your ideas of space really change in New York. I can’t believe I agree with you, but after some of the shitholes I’ve seen this week trying to be passed off as mansions….”

“Welcome to the city,” Jared smiles wryly as they head back out to living room. “So, speaking of which, how long have you been here?”

“Only two weeks,” Jensen says. “Been crashing on a friend’s couch in Brooklyn, and that’s getting real old, real fast. But this place is nice; I like it. Good location, too.”

That gives Jared a pause. While living near Astoria Park is nice, quiet, and has a lot of great outdoor amenities around, it’s definitely a hike from the train. “Yeah, I was just gonna ask,” he says. “Sometimes the twenty minute walk to the subway on top of getting into the city drives people a bit crazy, especially in the winter. That’s cool?”

Jensen shrugs. “I don’t mind the walk, really. I just like the quiet."

Jared gives the guy three months before it starts to wear on him but bites his tongue. “Okay, cool. Yeah, it’s definitely quieter out this way. The landlady lives downstairs, and she’s awesome. Doesn’t really fuss too much, and sometimes brings up leftover pastitsio and spanakopita when her girlfriends come over.”

“Awesome.” Jensen smiles. “I’m quiet too. A little messy sometimes, or so I’ve been told, but I am definitely really good at keeping it chill and, uh, quiet.”

Okaaaaay, Jared thinks. Maybe the guy’s a little odd, but he definitely doesn’t seem like a serial killer. “Well, I think you’d make a great addition to Casa de Padalecki, if you don’t have any other options on the table…?”

“Nope. None. Shitholes, remember?”

Jared grins, and a warmth blossoms in his stomach. “Welcome to the neighborhood!”

***

Over the next two weekends, all of Jensen’s stuff slowly but surely migrates into Jared’s apartment. Fortunately Jensen doesn’t have much – some bedroom furniture, assorted kitchenware, a few framed posters of bands Jared’s never heard of before – but between the actual moving process and Jensen’s job, Jared doesn’t see much of him for a while.

On the evening of the second Sunday of Jensen living in the apartment, Jared comes home to find Jensen on the couch nursing a beer, half asleep.

“Dude,” Jared says. “You’d better not let that go to waste.”

“Ugh,” Jensen moans. “I hate moving. And here it’s like… everything is ten times more difficult than it needs to be. You know what I had to do today? I took the train to a car rental place, rented a car, drove to Brooklyn, somehow crammed the rest of my stuff in the car, drove it here, unloaded it, drove the car back to the rental place, nearly got to the train before I realized I left my wallet in the car, went back, got the wallet, then went back to the train, and after the longest twenty minute walk of my life….” He shakes his head and somehow manages to mold himself into the couch even more.

Jared nods sagely. “Passed the first New York City initiation stage, you have.”

“Great, I live with a giant nerd,” Jensen says, tired face finally showing a smile. Jared feels a weird, momentary giddiness swoop through him.

Shoving that down to think about later, he pulls out carrots and homemade hummus from the fridge. “So, are you settling into work okay? Actually—” he crunches down on a carrot. “I’m not really sure what you do?"

“I’m a legal assistant. No, it’s not the same thing as a paralegal, but yes, I do have a paralegal certification. No, I’m not in law school, and I don’t have any interest right now in going.”

Jared nods. “Pretty succinct. I can use those fancy words now, right, with you being, a, what was it called? Law student?”

“Ha ha” Jensen says after a swallow of beer. “I got tired of people asking the same old questions, if you couldn’t tell.”

“Oh, no worries there. The real question is, do you like it?”

Jensen gives a tiny shrug. “It was never what I wanted to do, really. I’m not actually sure what that would be. But my mom was an attorney, and I had a few summer jobs working in her office. Filing papers, shredding stuff, taking phone calls, that kind of thing. It was so boring that I started researching litigation proceedings, and found a few discrepancies in a few minor cases and, well, now here I am. I guess I stayed with it because…” he wiped a trickle of condensation from the bottle, eyes on it instead of Jared, “I feel like I’m making a difference. I dunno. It sounds kinda silly, but at the end of the day and all the long hours, I feel like I’m helping people.”

“Nah, definitely not silly,” Jared says. “I know what you mean. When I was younger, I worked as a busboy at a high-end coffee shop, and most days I thought I’d keel over from the sheer narcissism. Didn’t stay too long there."

“Yeah? And what is it that you do now?”

“Assistant to the head of HR at an accounting firm.”

Jensen gives an incredulous look. “Oh. That’s, uh….”

“Not what you expected me to do? Sounds super boring?” He grins. “Definitely all of the above. But it’s not too bad. The paycheck’s good, and one of the accounting managers makes the most amazing lemon meringue pie.”

“I knew it,” Jensen says. “It’s all about your stomach, isn’t it.”

“I’m a growing boy,” Jared says around a mouthful of carrot. “A full tummy is a happy tummy."

The soft lighting catches Jensen’s profile just right as he laughs, and Jared nearly chokes at the sight. In a millisecond, the realization sets in, and all Jared thinks is, fuck my LIFE.

**

He forces himself to be cool. Super chill. Maybe too chill. But some days his stupid stomach does a stupid tingling swoop when he comes home and sees Jensen relaxing on the couch or fixing something to eat in the kitchen. The worst of it is the rare days that Jensen actually does laundry in the basement washer and waltzes around the apartment as cool as a fucking cucumber in some ratty t-shirt and boxers.

Those days Jared usually has to hide out in his own room.

But things are good. Jensen actually pays the rent on time, which is the most significant step up from the previous two roommates. Unfortunately he can’t cook for shit, and when he does cook, Jared’s favorite pots and pans are usually left unwashed overnight, with random food splatters appearing from the kitchen to the dining room. Also, he’s quiet. Almost strangely so. It’s rare that Jared ever hears Jensen walking down their wood floor hallway with a dull thunk thunk thunk or hears him puttering around in his room. But gift horse, and all that; Jared’s certainly not going to complain.

Autumn begins to settle in, and one chilly, gray Saturday morning finds Jared slurping coffee and lounging on the couch, eyes half-open. He had plans today: go to the gym, buy groceries, fix the drippy kitchen faucet, and so on. But the weather makes him want to keep his butt planted on the cushy sofa, hot coffee in hand, and maybe a book in the other.

It’s then that he hears Jensen’s bedroom door open. Which is really weird, because Jared definitely did not hear him come home last night.

When Jensen shuffles slowly into the living room, Jared nearly gasps.

A black eye is beginning to form on the left side of Jensen’s face, accompanied with two small gashes on his cheek.

Jensen just grunts at Jared and heads straight for the coffee.

“Holy shit,” Jared says. “Are you okay? What happened? Was that there yesterday?”

Jensen blinks slowly and sets down his mug. “What’re you talkin’ about?”

“Your face, Jensen.” He perceptively stiffens at that, eyes going a little wide.

“Uh,” he says. “Oh yeah. That. Commute was jam-packed in the subway on the way home last night, and someone accidentally shoved me into a pole. All good.”

“You do realize that sounds like the fakest bullshit ever,” Jared says, a flutter of distress going through him. Had Jensen ever mentioned a significant other? Maybe they had fought?

Jensen just shrugs and takes a long gulp of his black coffee. “Dunno what to tell you, man. That’s what happened.”

Jared eyes him warily. “Okay. If you say so. Are you hurt anywhere else? Do you need to go to urgent care?”

He’s barely finished his sentence, and Jensen waves him off. “Nah, like I said, all good. I’ll put some ice on it in a bit. I heal up quick.”

Jared nods distractedly; another thought pops in his head. “Did you take a shower last night?”

Jensen looks at him like he’s grown another head. “…Yes? Why?”

“I just…” he frowns. “I didn’t hear the usual screeching when the water’s turned on. I dunno. Nevermind.”

Jensen hums. “You must have been really out of it, dude. It screamed like a banshee.” And with that, Jensen takes his coffee back to his room and shuts the door behind him.

Jared’s not sure what’s going on, but what he does know is that there definitely is something going on.

**

Nearly two weeks later, Jensen’s black eye is quickly healing, as he said it would. Jared is in his room after a particularly mind-numbing day of working, stuck in a Youtube clickhole, when he hears Jensen come home, opening the door with a louder thunk than usual. When he sees Jensen limp by his room to get to his own, Jared becomes immediately alert, shoving himself up from his bed.

“Whoa, hey, let me take that,” Jared says, reaching for the backpack Jensen sometimes brings with him. But Jensen just brushes him off.

“’M’fine,” he mumbles. “Just tired.” He tries to limp toward his room, favoring his right foot.

“Dude, c’mon, what happened to your… ankle?” Jensen looks so tired and pitiful, almost-healed black-blue bruise making his green eyes stand out in sharp relief. But this is getting a little ridiculous, if not disturbing. And maybe Jared feels a little ridiculous himself; Jensen is a grown man and just his roommate. No reason to be mother-henning and fretting over a few injuries.

But what if someone is doing this to him? Or if it gets worse?

“Knee,” Jensen says. “’Preciate the concern, but I’m fine, man. Promise. Slipped on some stairs earlier.”

“Can I at least get you some ice?” Jared asks.

Jensen stares at him, dull-eyed, but finally nods.

Jared rushes to the kitchen to pull an icepack from the freezer, trying to swallow down his unease.

**

“She clips her nails at her desk, Jared. It’s literally the worst thing and makes me want to set everything on fire, including her.”

“Yeah… I guess that’s pretty gross.”

“You guess?” Danneel sounds scandalized. “That would be a fireable offence in my book. Ugh… I need to talk about something other than work. My blood pressure’s going up. How’s the new roomie?"

Of course that would be the topic Danneel picked. Jared reaches for a tomato and runs it under the tap to clean.

“Ah… good? I dunno. Good-ish.”

“I know your cute blabbermouth wants to say more than just ‘good.’”

How right she is. He feels the dam give way a bit as he huffs. “He’s a really nice guy. Really nice. A bit of a slob; I mean, he uses my pans and stuff in the kitchen, and he does eventually clean them up, maybe after a day or two, and I find socks in the weirdest places. And that’s all fine, I can deal with that, but….” He pauses, knife poised above the clean tomato. “There’s something weird about him. Or something weird happening to him.”

“How do you mean?”

The more Jared thinks and talks about it, the more frustrated he is at not knowing just what the hell is going on with Jensen. “He comes home with black eyes and cuts and wrenched knees and God knows what else, and he’s so… I don’t know, weirdly secretive about some stuff? Like, I can’t tell if he’s in a fight club, or has an abusive partner, or is just genuinely clumsy? He’s always got some excuse ready to go.”

Danneel hums into the phone. “Has it been bad enough that he’s needed to go to the emergency room?”

“Not really. Or not yet, anyway.” After the incident with Jensen’s knee, Jared had caught glimpses of a split lip, some bruising on his left arm, and on one occasion, red, swollen knuckles - all completely separate instances. And Jensen was doing his damnedest to hide it all from Jared. Completely and totally not cool.

“Well… I guess keep doing what you’re doing. Keep an eye on him, call the cops or take him to the hospital if you think it’s bad.” She pauses, and Jared can almost hear her smile. “I’m also dying to know how cute he is, because you definitely think he’s cute.”

His knife slips, and he jabs into his palm with a gasp; blood immediately wells up. “Ugh, Danneel…” he practically whines.

“What! I’m just saying… I know you too well, admit it.”

“Whatever,” he says. “You made me cut myself, you turdface.”

“Your favorite turdface, you mean. So what, you big baby; just heal up.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Jared runs the faucet over his palm to wash away the blood streaming out of the small tear in his skin. He concentrates, briefly, and feels a tingle as the wound stitches itself closed, the red, aggravated skin fading to a small, white scar, which then disappears completely.

“Too bad you can’t use that on him,” she muses.

A thought pings into his head, the same second that Danneel lets out a short breath.

“You don’t think…” she says.

“He’s a Gen Mod? I have no idea. The subject never came up, and if he is, he wasn’t exactly forthcoming about it….”

“Well, neither were you.”

Reflexively, he gives a little shrug. “Sure, those kinds of invasive conversations always go well. ‘Hey Jensen, how was work? By the way, I’m a Gen Mod, hope that’s cool!’”

Danneel makes a disapproving noise. “He wouldn’t seem like the type to be an asshole about it, would he?”

“No.” Jared sighs. “I don’t know. I mean, no, he definitely doesn’t seem like an asshole type, but sometimes people are good at hiding that shit.”

“True enough,” she mutters darkly. “If he is a Gen Mod, I wonder what kind he is. And if that has anything to do with your boy’s mysterious maladies.”

“Ha,” Jared grunts, and sets back to work on his bolognese. “I couldn’t even begin to guess. I don’t know. I guess it’s not really any of my business, but I’d prefer it if I didn’t get a call asking to help identify his body down at the morgue."

“I bet you don’t. Too much fun to be had with that body before that can happen.”

He feels his face stupidly heat up. “You are literally the worst.”

Danneel just laughs, and Jared feels a small smile form. She’s a special brand of person, and though she swears up and down she’s not a Gen Mod, Jared sometimes wonders otherwise, as she never fails to shake up his outlook on things.

“All right, sweets,” she says, “I gotta go. Keep me updated on what happens though, okay?”

“You know it,” he says.

He finishes the bolognese and heads to the couch, half-pondering what to watch on Netflix. Mostly he’s wondering where Jensen is. Jared doesn’t think he’s home – didn’t hear him come in anyway, which wouldn’t be a first. He knows Jensen’s job sometimes makes him work crazy hours, but as the sun sets earlier and the nights get colder, he wishes for a little company. Specifically Jensen’s.

Jared can’t stop thinking about him, and it’s driving him nuts. Jared cooks a meal and wonders if Jensen would like it, what he would think about it, if maybe they could enjoy it on the balcony when the weather gets warm again. He wonders what it would be like to go for a drink at the Bohemian Beer Garden, just the two of them, just talking. He thinks about how warm Jensen’s hand would be, held in his as they strolled through the Park. He wants to know everything about him; his childhood, what position he sleeps in, how he takes his eggs, his goals and dreams.

Jared’s dated before, but it was nothing like this. This is terrifying.

It is of course at that moment that Jensen pushes the door open and steps in with a shiver. He’s wearing the most obscenely good-looking dark gray pea coat, and he stomps his boots a little on the mat.

“It’s snowing?” Jared asks stupidly.

“Nah, just a little sleet,” Jensen says. “In early November though. Jesus. Gonna be a long winter, I guess. Ohh, is that spaghetti?”

“Oh, um,” Jared stumbles little as he stands. “No, bolognese. Similar. You want…?” Jesus take the wheel. Hopefully within the next 30 seconds he’ll be able to form coherent sentences.

“Maybe next time,” Jensen says. “Ordered in some Thai at the office before I left. But thanks; you seem like a pretty good cook. Maybe you could teach me a few things sometime?”

“Sure!” Jared blurts out. “Yes. Can do. That I can do. Do you have any, uh, requests?”

“I’m sure whatever you come up with will be awesome.” Jensen peels off the pea coat, and between that and everything else, Jared’s about ready to tap out.

“Cool,” he says. “You just pick the date and time.” He flushes at just saying the word “date,” and oh boy is he glad Danneel isn’t here to tease him into oblivion about this.

“Awesome.” Jensen beams. “Sorry to say hi and run, but I’ve got an early wakeup call tomorrow. Big court case starting next week, so I gotta help make sure everyone’s got their ducks in row.”

“Yeah,” Jared says faintly. “I mean, no prob. Sounds good.”

It was nearly five minutes later that he came back to himself, standing alone in the kitchen, Jensen already down the hall with his door closed. Rethinking the conversation, obsessed with Jensen’s smile and nonchalance…. Not good, not good.

Later, after meticulously cleaning up, Jared slides into bed, mentally exhausted. He wonders what his next move is – if there even is a next move.

Half-asleep, he slides his hand down his boxers, biting back a groan as he cups himself. His nerves are alight, and just thinking about the brief conversation with Jensen makes his breath shudder. His hips lift from the bed as he pumps into his fist, going instantly hard thinking about Jensen’s lips and how they’d look enveloping him. It was like zero to ninety – he hadn’t yet dared let that kind of thought fully form until just this second, but now it was everything, his holy grail. The way Jensen would suck him down, stupidly gorgeous green eyes staring up at him through his eyelashes. Christ; this time his moan slips free.

He wants; he wants so badly. He wants to feel Jensen’s hardness pressed up against him, he wants to keep him safe. He wants to witness Jensen’s face when he comes, revel in it, wants to make it his.

He swipes the pad of his thumb over his slit, and that’s it – his toes curl and muscles tighten and he comes hard. Without even remotely meaning to, he pants out Jensen’s name softly in the dark.

And then he hears – he thinks – a thud and then a muffled clatter coming from Jensen’s room.

But sleep pulls him under before he can think anything of it.

***

Weeks pass. Jared and Jensen dance around each other in the apartment, some sort of inexplicable awkwardness suddenly arising between them. Jensen makes no mention of the proposed cooking lesson, and Jared’s too chickenshit to bring it up. But, Jensen is still friendly when he’s home. That is, when he actually is home. Jared can’t imagine that work could be taking up so much of Jensen’s time, but Jared hasn’t seen any limping, bruises, cuts, or outward signs of dishevelment.

Thanksgiving comes and goes. Jared gets his lemon meringue pie at the company potluck, much to his delight. He’s pretty sure Jensen goes home for the holidays, as he sees neither hide nor hair of him for almost a week. Jared’s parents are vacationing in Italy and his siblings are both tied up with work commitments, so Jared has a Friendsgiving with Danneel and a few other fine folk.

The tinsel and lights of the Christmas season settle in at breakneck speeds in New York, and Jared breathes it in. He loves this time of year in the city, but wishes desperately that he could intimately share it with Jensen.

On one chilly evening, Jared watches out the subway car window as the train pulls up to his top. The sun had already set, leaving the sky the barest hint of fiery orange overlaying the dark purple of night. He gathers his belongings and steps off the train, heading towards the apartment.

That is, until he spots Jensen on the platform.

Jensen hasn’t seen him though. Jared’s about to call out, but Jensen heads the opposite direction of their place.

Perplexed, Jared follows him out of the station at a far enough distance that Jensen wouldn’t immediately spot him.

But apparently there’s no need to be concerned about that, as Jensen looks as though he’s a bloodhound on scent trail. He winds around street vendors and slow walkers, at some points cocking his head slightly, as if listening to something in the distance.

Jared follows as they turn right down one street, left on another. Every moment that passes, Jensen’s name is on his lips, ready to call out, but curiosity and fear stall his announcing. Jensen looks straight ahead, not squinting in the dark for address numbers of a particular location, as if he’s been this way a hundred times and knows exactly where he’s going.

They turn once more, and Jared almost loses him; but no, it’s just dark on this street, no colorful, multicolored Christmas lights decorating the apartments and storefronts here.

Just past Jensen, Jared can barely make out a few dark figures under the awning of a storefront. Jensen continues walking straight toward them, not slowing his pace.

Suddenly, the quiet street erupts with noise and motion.

Jared nearly jumps out of his skin when he hears a loud, low whomp, like a deep bass sound coming from a speaker. The figures ahead of Jensen stumble, shouting curses at him.

Jared moves closer and then watches with perfect clarity as Jensen raises his hand, and another louder, deeper whomp emanates from him; Jared can feel the reverberations in his breastbone.

Son of a bitch. Danneel was right. Jensen was definitely a Gen Mod.

The figures – Jared can see there are three of them – fall to the ground this time.

“What the fuck, you asshole?!” one of them shouts.

“Destroying your competition’s office won’t help you, you know,” Jared hears Jensen say, as calm as can be. “Whoever it was told you that even without competition, you’d still be too stupid to get ahead, got it in one.”

“Jesus!” the second guy says. “Who the fuck did you tell?”

“Nobody! Shit! Who the hell are you?”

But before Jared can blink, the third figure on the ground, silent the entire time, reaches up a hand, and suddenly Jared can see Jensen reaching for his throat, choking.

He’s about to shout, about to run out from his hiding place and beat the shit out of these guys, whoever they are, when a percussion blast throws them back, and shatters a window of a nearby car.

The third figure gets his bearings quicker than Jared would think humanly possible and surges forward, throwing a punch. Jensen ducks, but he’s not quick enough; he grunts in pain as the guy’s knuckles catch him on the cheek. Jensen immediately swings out a fist as well, but the other guy is fast, jumping back, and then belts out another punch. This time, Jensen nearly goes down from the impact to his jaw.

Jared’s adrenaline bursts through him so quickly he feels like he might throw up. “Jensen!” he shouts as he sprints toward them, torn between checking to see if Jensen is all right and beating the snot out of all three assholes.

The decision is made for him when that third figure holds out his hand again and suddenly a dusty cinderblock comes flying at Jensen.

“No!” Jared shouts again, digging deep to find any kind of super speed hidden in his genetic modifications. He throws himself at Jensen to push him out of the way, but not fast enough; the cinderblock slams into Jensen’s upper arm, and Jared hears a terrifying crack before Jensen’s anguishing cry of pain.

Jared sees red; before he can stop himself, he’s on top of the third guy, some slim, smarmy-looking dude with a bad comb-over, fists slamming into him like his name was Scut Farkus.

He’s so caught up in making this asshole hurt as much as he hurt Jensen, that he almost misses the guy extending his hand, and then the creak of the awning overhead. He has a split second to think about how shitty this whole situation is, and how much pain he’s going to be in, when suddenly a piercing vibration surrounds him. Jared can’t hear it, so much as feel it, but the guy under him and the two other figures who were only just starting to rouse claw at their ears and scream. Jared stumbles up and off of him, watching as blood drips out of their ears. Almost simultaneously, the three go limp, as if their strings were cut.

Jared stands, stunned and in shock, until he hears a groan from behind him.

“Jensen! Oh god, Jensen, are you okay? What the ever-loving fuck, man… are they dead? Holy shit, Jensen, are they dead?!”

“Not… dead,” Jensen pants. “Last resort. I wouldn’t have done it… if you….”

Jared just nods, blinking panicked tears out of his eyes. “We need to get out of here. Can you… are you okay?”

In response, Jensen tries to sit up, but moving his arm a bare millimeter turns his face white, and he can’t seem to help the moans coming deep from his chest.

“Okay,” Jared says. “Okay. Okay. I’ve never tried this before, but maybe—maybe I can—” Gently, gently he lays a hand on Jensen’s arm and closes his eyes tight. Desperation makes his heart jackrabbit behind his ribcage, but he wills it to calm, wills his adrenaline to channel itself into healing. He breaths in and out, slowly, imagining his skin stitching itself together after countless cuts and scrapes, all the way back to when he was a child. He imagines willing his bruises to heal, turning from purple-blue to green-yellow and fading to nothing within seconds. He imagines a bone, mending its fissure so very delicately, so cognizant of the intricate structure and how careful he must be.

Despite the cold December air, he’s sweating when he opens his eyes. Jensen is still pale, but no longer seconds away from passing out. Jared lifts his hand, and Jensen gives an experimental wriggle. He grimaces, but it’s a far cry from being about to pass out.

“Better?” Jared reaches for Jensen to help him up.

“Much,” Jensen says. “You’re a….”

“Hey, you weren’t exactly forthcoming either. C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

They stumble back to the apartment, pain and fading adrenaline taking their toll. They don’t share a word between them; instead Jared absently takes in the multicolored lights, a tinny, electronic-sounding Christmas carol being played from somewhere in the distance, the fog in front of him as he puffs out each breath.

Jensen’s nearly leaning on him as Jared opens the front door, and finally, finally they trudge up the stairs to their apartment.

“What the fuck, dude,” Jared says as he falls into the couch. “I mean, first and foremost, are you okay? Do we need to go to the emergency room? But really though, what the fuck.

Jensen sighs and sits down on the couch next to Jared like he’s being sentenced and punished. “I’m fine. I don’t think it’s broken anymore, just sore. That’s… that’s pretty amazing.”

“You’re damn right it is. But we’re not talking about me right now. We’re talking about you and your… your… Gen Mod vigilante stunts. That’s what’s been happening, right?”

Jensen has the decency to look shamefaced, not meeting Jared’s eyes. “Yeah. Pretty much yeah. I—I can manipulate sound waves. Basically do anything I want with sound. Amplify it, make it so low that only super sensitive machines can detect it….”

“Liquefy their brains and make it dribble out people’s ears?”

“No.” Jensen scowls. “I mean, maybe? I’ve never tried, not ever. Those guys… after some time, they’ll be fine. No permanent hearing or brain damage.”

Well. At least he wasn’t a murderer. “And who exactly where those guys?”

Jensen gives a longsuffering sigh. “I’ve been listening to people, okay? I can’t fucking help it. It’s always been this way, and sometimes I can’t tune them out. And then I’ll overhear someone planning to burn down their rival’s real estate office, or someone getting mugged from three blocks away, or some kind of domestic dispute….” He finally meets Jared’s eyes, as if begging him to understand. “I can’t let that kind of stuff just happen.”

“Ever thought about just calling the police?” he asks.

Jensen shrugs. “Sometimes they’re not that quick. Or they flat out don’t believe you."

“That sucks. A lot. I’m sure that must be difficult. But….” Jared shakes his head. “You take it upon yourself to put on some superhero cape and save the day? Jensen, if I hadn’t had been there tonight, those guys might have put you in the hospital for a long time, or worse.” He can’t even think about that possibility; it scares him more than how deeply he cares for Jensen, and how quickly it happened.

“I know,” Jensen says. “I know! But how can I turn a deaf ear to that kind of stuff? When I could stop it? I’ve saved people Jared, actually saved them. And yeah, maybe I get a little hurt in the process—”

Panic wells up in Jared as Jensen speaks. He can’t listen to this, can’t let Jensen think this way.

“No!” It bursts out of him, and Jensen flinches. “You can’t… you can’t. I can’t let you.”

“Sorry?” Jensen raises his eyebrows. “You can’t let me?”

There’s a rushing in his ears that only has to do with the split second decision he’s made, and how much he hopes Jensen doesn’t hate him forever.

Jared leans in and kisses him. It’s sloppy and uncoordinated and far too short. He pulls back when he realizes Jensen has barely moved a muscle. His wide, green eyes stare back at Jared.

“I’m sorry,” Jared whispers. “You—I just—”

“Oh,” Jensen breaths out, and then pulls Jared close again.

Jared kisses him fiercely, biting at his lip and sucking on its fullness. His head is spinning, can’t believe this is happening, finally. Jensen is actually his to touch and to love. He holds him, head in hands, barely taking time to breathe as they move closer, kiss harder. Jensen grabs his ass, and Jared groans into his mouth, reveling in his touch, even if it was through a rough layer of jeans.

When Jensen begins to slip sideways, unable to hold himself up any longer while still kneading into Jared’s ass, he pulls away, panting.

“Bedroom?” he asks.

“Probably—” he kisses Jensen again, “a good idea—” and again, “oh god—” Suddenly the idea of removing their clothes sounds like the best thing, the greatest thing. He stumbles up and pulls Jensen into his own room. He wants Jensen in his sheets, his scent on Jared’s pillow, wants to breathe him in while he sleeps. But sleeping is not on the agenda right now.

They shuck off their clothes, clumsy in their haste. Jared’s barely pulled off his jeans when Jensen reaches for him, kissing again, and rubbing up against him. The only piece of clothing separating them is Jared’s boxer briefs. Jensen cups him though the thin cloth, and Jared’s hard on goes from hell yeah I’m interested to holy fucking shit. Jared grinds into him for a moment while sucking on Jensen’s neck, but he quickly realizes he’s not going to last very long if they keep that up.

He gives Jensen a gentle push, and Jensen falls on his bed, gloriously naked. There should be fireworks or the goddamn Hallelujah chorus because Jensen is on his bed and very, very naked.

Jared realizes he’s staring too long when Jensen flushes on his cheeks and chest and shifts a little.

“You gonna stand there all day?” he says.

His eyes move down to Jensen’s thick cock, erect and curved toward his belly.

“Been wanting this,” he says roughly while stepping out of his underwear. “For so long.”

“Jesus Christ,” Jensen says when he sees all of him. “Why did you say anything, you idiot?”

“You’re the idiot,” Jared says stupidly, unable to come up with anything else as he crawls on top of Jensen. Jensen thrusts up into him and groans, and Jared feels just as desperate. He stretches his body to open the drawer of his bedside table, and rummages around until he finds his lube and a condom.

“You ready?” he says, lube coating his fingers.

“I’m going to murder you if you don’t do something soon,” is all Jensen says.

He works in a finger, thrusting gently, savoring the view and the little noises Jensen makes. Before long, he adds a second, thrusting harder, and at one point, Jensen gives a sharp gasp and his hips rise off the bed. Jared works him a bit more until Jensen reaches for him, nails digging into Jared’s arm.

“’m ready, c’mon, c’mon,” Jensen demands.

“Bossy,” Jared murmurs, but his dick is hard as a rock, and pacing himself isn’t doing much good anymore. Jensen helps him with the condom, rolling it down his dick with light fingers that don’t help Jared’s situation.

He eases himself slowly inside of Jensen, nearly wanting to cry at how good and tight he feels. Jensen breathes loudly through his nose, his eyes closed as Jared works himself down to the hilt. They both groan as Jared starts to works his hips in a slow motion circle.

Jared spontaneously grabs Jensen’s wrists, pinning him to the bed as he thrusts harder into him, pulling out and slamming back into his tight hole. He leans closer to Jensen, nipping at his neck and then puts his lips against Jensen’s ear.

“You like that?” he whispers, so softly, barely using his voice. Jensen’s eyes roll to the back of his head and he moans loudly. “You do. You love my huge dick. You love how good it feels inside of you. You love how good I can make you feel.”

“Jared—Jared,” Jensen stutters. Despite being held down onto the bed, he fucks himself down harder on Jared’s dick and shudders.

“You’re not gonna touch yourself, and I’m not gonna touch you either,” Jared whispers, and then nibbles under Jensen’s ear. “You’re gonna come on my dick. Nothing else. Come, Jensen.”

Jensen bites his lip, and Jared fucks into him again, slow and hard, their eyes never leaving each other’s. Jared thrusts more frantically, and then he watches as Jensen comes apart beneath him. Jensen’s perfect lips part as he loudly and gutturally moans, eyes rolling, and hips grinding up into Jared.

And that’s it for Jared—he comes hard, gasping and probably mouthing the stupidest things into Jensen’s ear, but he can’t help it, Jensen is so beautiful and charming and his muscles are still squeezing his dick in just the right way, and Jared would do anything to keep him, make him his forever, keep him safe and loved and protected.

“Maybe you can,” It takes a moment for the thought to register, as Jared’s brain comes back online. Jensen’s words are soft, breathless, and he pushes Jared off him a bit.

“Eurgh,” Jared says eloquently, shifting as he realizes how he’s squishing Jensen. “Sorry. What?”

“Maybe you can protect me. Or at least be there for me when I need you most.” Jensen smiles. “That would be a neat trick. And would make for a pretty cool crimefighting duo.”

Jared sighs. “I don’t want you putting yourself in any kind of harm’s way. But I get it. And if there’s nothing I can do to stop you, then… I guess I’ll have to brush up on my Gen Mod training.”

“You mean… you’ve never healed another person before?”

“Only myself,” Jared says. “Never been able to heal anyone else before you.”

“Hmm.” If Jared didn’t know any better, he’d say Jensen felt smug about that, a small smile lifting the corner of his lips.

Jared glanced up and out the window as a light snow began to fall, and he cozied up closer to Jensen, pulling him tight.

“Couldn’t have asked for a better roommate,” he whispered into Jensen’s neck, grinning.