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The Pollen is Out There

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“We were facing a stage 4 tentillum, and it was just, like, all over.”

Dr. Sampson nods as her pen scribbles in the file. “How many arms?”

Jared blows out a breath, flicking hair away from his eyes. “Eighteen. We couldn’t escape it. No one can escape something like that, even if Ackles insists it’s nothing. Like it’s just a regular ol’ animal you can slay at the drop of the hat.” Jared sighs and grips the arms of the chair he’s supposed to feel relaxed in. Never works, anyhow. Having to recount every case to an administrative professional, rather than someone more appropriate, someone on the force, always felt odd, off, like he’s telling tall tales. These people are never out in the field.

What the hell could they compare his stories to?

“Then what happened?” she asks, eyes fixed on the words she draws on the page.

“Then it grabbed us, and both Ackles and I were up in the air. It had … four heads, and yeah, I know,” Jared adds with a hand wave and roll of the eyes when she glances at him like he’s nuts, “Crazy shit. This thing was a beast, and wouldn’t let up, just squeezing the hell out of us. Then it tried to eat us.”

He really wished it wasn’t so common, but it is, and Dr. Sampson hardly responds to that part of the story.

“And then?”

“And then Ackles shot at it, shot at the arm holding me so it had to release me. That’s how I hurt my arm. A small fracture, but hurt like hell.”

“And that’s why you’re upset?”

“No, that’s not it,” he replies with some heat. As he drums up the right words to describe his anger, the reason he flew off the handle and had nearly attacked Ackles once the tentillum was restrained and Ackles stood atop one flimsy tentacle with a broad, cocky smile like Han Fucking Solo, he suddenly loses the power of his voice. “You know he doesn’t even think what we do is real? He marches around these halls like some badass S-Agent, but he really doesn’t believe in anything.”

“So, you’re bothered that he doesn’t follow your own beliefs?”

“No! I mean, yes, I am.” Jared shakes his head and pounds a fist on the chair arm. “A whole year now and I hate that he’s always insisting our cases are silly and thumbs his nose at it all. But that’s not the real issue.”

Her voice comes steady, almost uncaring yet professional. “Then what is the real issue?”

Jared sighs long enough that he nearly goes dizzy for lack of oxygen. Which seems suitable for the admission. “I think I’m in love with my partner.”

Dr. Sampson stops writing in Jared’s file and picks up her head just enough to stare at him from above her glasses.

“Non sequitur, I know, but it’s true nonetheless.” Jared shrugs, feeling a bit lighter to have taken that off his chest. “Or maybe not true. Who knows if I really am in love with him, or if this biting rage that rises every time he does something stupid like put himself in harm’s way just to get me out of it …” He takes a heaving breath then grumbles, “Maybe it’s all just because I think he’s a huge jackass. I mean, we bicker all the goddamn time. Twelve months of just biting at one another like, like …”

“And old married couple?”

“No!” Jared insists then huffs. “Just, regular old dickish arguing. What kind of an asshole just wants to fight all the time?”

For once, she seems puzzled on how to respond, and opens her mouth a few times to speak yet remains silent. Suddenly, a tiny smirk appears and makes Jared even more uncomfortable than any other time he’s been in her office. “You’re upset that your partner saved your life.”

“Yeah!” Jared then thinks about how that sounded and backtracks. “No, not like that. I mean, why’s he always gotta save me first? Why can’t I do some of the saving sometimes? That smug bastard could share some of the glory.”

Yeah, sure, that’s exactly why Jared has grown more and more furious with his partner saving his life. It’s not at all because Jared’s truly afraid that Ackles will do something stupid and get himself killed along the way.
Hasn’t happened yet, but Jared enjoys lecturing the asshole for it anyway.

“So,” Dr. Sampson says, dragging the word out with a curious glance. “Either you’re in love with him and upset that he might hurt himself trying to save you … or you hate him for always making you the damsel in distress who he can sweep in to save?”

“Yes,” Jared replies firmly. A quick wave of satisfaction flows through him that someone understands him and he smiles. “Exactly.”

“Which is it?”

"Well, I …” Jared stares at the carpet beneath his feet and stares at the sharp diagonal lines, maroon and blue and green all crossing one another. He lets out a tiny chuckle and looks Dr. Sampson right in the eye. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“No, not really.”

“Oh.”

“Though it is obvious that Agent Ackles is a prime concern for you.” She quickly thumbs at the edges of all the pages in the file. “Given how often he’s come up, especially in the last few months. The tag to every conversation is always Ackles. Never the actual cases or anything about how the job affects your life. In fact, I’m not so sure you have a life.”

“So?” Jared snorts. “I love my job.”

“All work and no play …”

Jared drops his sight back to the lines all intersecting every few inches and wonders if it’s intended to make people dizzy, to pull them off the mark to say things they hadn’t meant to. Maybe that’s how Dr. Sampson’s file had become stacked with Ackles’ name.

To cover his concern, he chuckles and spreads his hands out. “I mean, really, how many times could he really come up?”

She turns a handful of pages over and Jared spots pink highlights all over.

He scoots to the edge of his seat. “Wait! You’ve highlighted his name in the entire file?”

With a shrug, Dr. Sampson smirks at him. “Kinda makes it more obvious, doesn’t it?”

“Maybe you’re the one with the interest in him.”

Her mouth rounds out as her eyes flit up and to the side, cheeks going pink. “Well, of course. Agent Ackles is one of the staff’s favorites.”

Jared huffs, checks his phone now vibrating at his hip with a message, and stands. “Of course he is. Maybe next time you can tell me all about your secret Ackles Diary.”

“Running so soon?”

“I have find my partner and-”

“Of course,” she murmurs.

“And we have another case. You know, the things I do when I’m not here? When I’m out there saving the world from all the nasty creatures you only see on the news?”

“Of course, yes,” she agrees, then quickly slides in, “When Agent Ackles isn’t saving you from them, that is.”

He narrows his eyes and points at her. “I’m gonna remember that the next time you ask me to get another stack of paper from the high shelf.”

“Maybe I’ll just ask Ackles to do it for you. Sounds like he’s the stronger of the two, anyway.”

Without another word, he leaves with her laughter following him out the door.

In the waiting room, however, is Ackles. Who is casually reading a sports magazine and somehow looks incredibly attractive doing absolutely nothing, with a deep slouch in the chair and one leg crossed over his knee. Ackles grants Jared a bored look and his position draws Jared’s attention to his thighs.

“You done, Jack?” When Jared only stares, he grins. “All work and no play make Jared a dull boy.”

Jared does his best to ignore the attitude, but it’s hard to do when he realizes the words replicate what Dr. Sampson had said just a few minutes ago. “What??”

“Jack Torrence? The Shining?”

Ackles drops the magazine to the side table with a sigh and roll of his eyes then rises to his full height. Which, thankfully, is shorter than Jared. Hah, take that. “He goes crazy when he works too hard.”

“Were you listening at the door?” Jared complains. It sounds like something this shithead would do.

Jensen looks away but still jokes, “Did you not have any joy in your former life?”

“Guess not.” Jared goes right for the main door leading out to the hallway, feet moving quick and mind recognizing that Ackles is hurrying to keep up. “You know, you’re getting a lil slow in your old age. Maybe you should consider desk duty.”

“You can’t lose me that quick, Padawhacky.”

“Well, that’s good to hear Ankles, because we’ve got a new case.” Jared waves his phone at Ackles, who tries to grab it, but Jared keeps it out of reach high above them. “Poor lil T-Rex arms.”

Ackles scowls then frowns. “What do you have against carnivores?”

Jared laughs and shrugs. “You mean besides the fact that they eat each other?”

“You’re such a mammalist.”

He shakes his head and keeps walking, only partway satisfied to hear Ackles’ footsteps following. He’d hate to have to wait for his tiny legs to catch up.

“Just because you have those gargantuan shoulders and an elephant head doesn’t mean I can’t stick with you,” Ackles argues. “Waist down, we’re practically the same size you know.”

Realizing he’d said all the crap about Ackles’ legs aloud, Jared feels sorry. For only two seconds, because he jumps onto Ackles’ line with a brief flit of his eyebrow and a glance down to each of their belts. “Not so sure about that one.”

Ackles aims a tilted, arrogant smile at Jared, which only fuels more anger at having to work with this guy. Jared’s stomach is tumbling over itself and his ears are heating up. There’s no way he’s in love with this partner. This is pure hatred.

“You wanna bet?” Ackles murmurs, stepping forward.

“What? No, no I don’t,” Jared argues, backing up then moving around Ackles. They have places to go and files to read and planetary threats to stop. No time for this nonsense.

“Oh, so now you’re homophobic, too?”

“Uh, no,” Jared laughs harshly. “I don’t hate myself.” Then Jared frowns, realizing it’s the first time he’s said it aloud to his partner, and surely the first time while in this building.

Ackles makes an impressed face, eyebrows rising and puffy lips spreading wide on his face. “Explains a lot.”

With that, the ticky column for I hate my partner grows longer. Which is comforting, and yet embarrassing given his confession in Dr. Sampson’s office. “Excuse me?”

Lifting his hands up in surrender, Ackles shares a soft look, magically disarming Jared’s annoyance. “Forget I said anything. What’s our case?”

Jared shakes his head with the quick change in attitude, gets back to walking towards the garage for their car, and steels himself for the argument that always comes when Jared tells his partner about whatever extraterrestrial, supernatural, or unidentified freaky object they’re assigned to eliminate.

Or, as in this situation, contain. “Customs had a major bust and uncovered alkaloid plants.”

“Poisonous?”

Jared nods. “Yeah, morphimoan."

Ackles is quiet, but Jared’s unsure if that’s actually a positive in this manner. He glances over his shoulder and Ackles is still walking just behind him, but now strangely watching Jared.

“What?” Jared asks, still walking, yet looking back to Ackles who is now catching up.

“Seriously, Jared?”

“What?”

“Sex pollen,” Ackles replies, laughter making his face pink up and his shoulders shake. “We’re going after sex pollen?”

Jared squares his shoulders once he reaches the door to the garage. His hand curls tightly around the door handle and he aims a heavy look at Ackles. “Yeah, we are. You got a problem with that?”

“Man, of all the shit you believe in …” Ackles wipes his face and smiles at Jared, though it’s rather unsettling. “Every day is like a joke.”

“Do I look like I’m joking?”

“No.” Ackles makes a thoughtful noise. “In fact, you never do.”

He shakes his head and moves faster, just so he doesn’t have to bother with more arguing. “Either way, it’s at 98th and Lincoln. So we gotta hurry before it dries up.”

“Wouldn’t that be better? Once it’s dry, it’s useless, right?. Just let the shit die then you can grate it up into one of those gross protein shakes you drink every morning.”

Jared stares at Ackles. “How do you know what I drink every morning?”

Ackles blinks. “I can smell it every day. Judging by the smell of it coming up every time you belch, I can only imagine what it tastes like going down.”

The corner of Jared’s mouth twitches and his eyes narrow. He imagines an entirely different conversation with Dr. Sampson once this case is over, one where he happily states that there is no world in which he would ever have positive feelings for one Jensen Ackles.

Like the adult he is, Jared slowly tells him, “I don’t like you very much.”

Ackles rolls his eyes. “I could never tell.” He bumps past Jared into the garage and calls over his shoulder, “You driving? I’ll take shotgun. You’re always shit at directions.”

 

*

 

Ivy climbs the walls of the living room for the modest one-bedroom apartment signed to one Alfred T. Greenbury. The windows are mostly covered by tall, withering green plants with wilting purplish-brown flowers and berries dotting the branches like black pearls.

It’s oddly quiet, almost peaceful, Jared thinks. The plants pad the walls from outside noise and the abundance of leaves shade the room from the harsh mid-day light. The air feels warmer, yet lighter as it fills his lungs and he’s filled with a strange sense of delight. Pleasure, even.

That’s all quickly taken away when he hears leaves rustling then spots Ackles fingering one of the plants in the corner.

Jared is beside Ackles in an instant, swiping the guy’s hands away from the tiny, lifeless flowers. “What’re you doing?”

“Just checking out the merchandise,” Ackles defends. “Besides, it’s dying. Like it’s gonna have any major issues now.”

“It’s belladanneel, you moron.”

Ackles scoffs. “Belladonna? That’s lethal on impact, moron.”

“No, belladanneel. Same family, but different enough,” Jared explains evenly, feeling a bit smug to correct Ackles and share some of the knowledge he’s spent years packing into his brain just to be the region’s best S Agent. Jared pulls a pen from the inside of his suit jacket and uses it to move the plant around without coming into contact. “Can’t you see the big berries here? Not lethal like its cousin, but belladanneel is just as dangerous. It’s one of the strongest sex pollens on record.”

Ackles quickly barks a laugh, and Jared eyes him. “Sorry,” he excuses with a quick hand wave. “It’s just really funny when you say ‘sex pollen’. Like it really exists.”

“It does,” Jared insists. “Right here. Right in front of us.”

“Well, sure, the plant exists, but it’s not like it really works.”

“Of course it does.” Jared feels a surge of elation course through his body just considering the wonder of these plants and their powers. “There are dozens of reported cases where people touch it and then are overcome with a wide range of feelings that are--”

“Well, I just touched it and I don’t have any feelings.”

Jared goes on, “They have experienced anything from renewed family bonds to very true, very warm love, all the way to dirty lust.”

Ackles taps Jared’s cheek not-so-lightly and smiles at him. “That’s cute. True, warm love.”

“They have,” Jared murmurs, wanting Ackles to believe him so bad on this case. There’s only a tiny part of his brain that knows something’s wrong in him feeling this way.

This time, Ackles’ tap to Jared’s cheek is lighter, more playful. Along with his smile. “Really, it’s cute. Kinda like you.”

Jared mirrors Ackles' smile and steps a foot closer as Ackles’ words cycle through his brain. “I think it’s working right now.”

“What is?”

“The belladanneel.”

Ackles laughs, this time bright and joyful, and shakes his head while staring right into Jared’s eyes. “That’s impossible, Jared.” Now his voice is also gentler. Less mocking and more spirited. “Sex pollen doesn’t exist.”

“Then why are you being nice to me?” Jared steps even closer, daring Ackles in this moment. Hell, daring himself, because now he can feel his heart racing (his brain fills in tachycardia, number one reaction to the atropa bella family). His balance is wobbly as he’s suddenly lightheaded, his thoughts whirling together into a bright ball of happiness. It’s all tied to the belladanneel, he’s fully aware of that, and yet he still can’t stop admiring Ackles’ bright green eyes and the tiny crinkles framing them, not to mention the handsome slope of Ackles’s nose and the round curves of his tempting mouth.

“I’m not being nice to you,” Ackles says with a quiet snort.

“You’re not being mean to me, like normal. And you’re touching me.” Jared gestures down to where Ackles’s hands sit possessively on Jared’s hips, warmth spreading like wildfire over Jared’s skin.

“Huh, look at that.” Ackles doesn’t remove his hands, yet doesn’t move any closer either, except when he tips his head up.

Jared tries to pull back, but it’s as if strings are tugging him right back in, and to compensate, they gravitate even closer to one another. Suddenly, he wishes Ackles weren’t those few scant inches shorter than him, that their faces and eyes and mouths could be better aligned so Jared wouldn’t notice the distinct pull of Ackles. Like a magnet, or a fisherman reeling in a big catch, Jared can feel himself being dragged that much closer to him. Their noses slide together and even as sparks ignite beneath his skin, Jared’s mind reminds him of the belladanneel just beyond them. Still, he’s powerless to stop the draw.

“What are you doing?” Ackles asks, breath spreading over Jared’s lips.

Jared licks at the wisp of air, touches Ackles’ lip as well. They both hiss, and Jared wishes he could shove them apart to stop the tingling of his skin, to break this spell. Instead, his fingers curl into Ackles’ jacket and he closes his eyes. “It’s the sex pollen,” he mumbles, wishing he could stop this right here.

“That stuff’s not real.” Still, Ackles grips tighter at Jared’s hips and brings him forward so they’re flush against one another.

His breath catches when Ackles’ dick, a distinct hot line beneath his pants, presses against his hip. “Then why are you humping my leg?”

Even when Ackles presses tighter against Jared, he shakes his head, their lips rubbing together. “I’m not. That’s all you.”

“Try again.”

“Okay,” Ackles says tightly. He bites his lower lip and glances up, his eyelashes fluttering, and Jared suddenly wants to brush them with the pad of his thumb. “Maybe it’s not the belladanneel, though.”

Jared can’t control the quick tilt of his hips forward, the slow grind against Ackles so that Jared’s newly hard dick gets friction against Ackles’ own hard-on. Fire blazes under Jared’s clothes and he considers tearing them all off for relief—or maybe to get even closer to the fever he feels beneath Ackles’ suit. “And if it’s not? Then you’re totally in control. Then you totally want this.”

Ackles closes his eyes and rests his forehead to Jared’s as their rhythm picks up and their breathing becomes more ragged. “What if that were the case?”

“I’d be surprised.”

“Not as surprised as I’d be that this sex pollen is real.”

Despite his contention, Ackles slides his arms around Jared’s waist to hold him tight then grinds even harder against him. Jared can’t restrain himself and clamps his hands at Ackles’s jaw and crushes his mouth down on Ackles’s wet lips. Ackles easily opens for Jared’s tongue and they’re warring together to lead the kiss as Jared backs Ackles into the sideboard so he can leverage himself over his partner. Now there’s a better angle to grind into him, and Jared reaches out to the wall for leverage, kissing along Ackles’ cheek and to his ear to tongue along the shell of it.

“Fuck, Jared,” Ackles complains, even while tugging Jared’s shirt up to press his white-hot hands all along the length of Jared’s back. “What’re you doing?”

“It’s not me,” Jared growls in his ear. “How many times do I gotta say it?”

Ackles drops his head back to grant Jared more room to lick and kiss along his neck, then curses and shifts forward. He sets his hand back on the wall to hold himself up, flicks a hand at a plant behind them, and groans as he pulls a few leaves in his fingers. “What is this now?”

Jared slows his hips enough to direct some concentration on the shape and color of the foliage. He can’t release Ackles, is feeding upon the heat of his body, but alarms go off in his mind when he recognizes the sharp angles of the souk candourus. Still, elation and pleasure is thrumming through his veins from the belladanneel and he laughs at Ackles.

“Truth leaves. You’re just hitting the jackpot here.”

“What? You’re just making shit up now.”

Without thinking, Jared reaches into the plant to show the stems. “Low-grade veritas bark. The leaves are candourus … candor.”

“Seems a bit obvious.”

Jared rocks into Ackles for a long, deep rub against Ackles’ dick. “So do you.”

“So, truth leaves?” Ackles smiles a dark, sultry gesture that hits Jared low in the gut. “And you just touched it.”

“So did you,” Jared reminds him. He moves in close again, lips teasing against Ackles’.

“How’s that stuff work?” Ackles nips at Jared’s lower lip then licks his own. “You know, if it were real?”

“When you’re asked a question, you answer truthfully. No chance to stop yourself.”

“No filter?”

“None.”

Ackles wraps his leg around the back of Jared’s knee, resumes their rhythmic grinding, and lightly bites at Jared’s chin. “And if I don’t ask you anything?”

“Then nothing gets answered. Except you just asked something.”

“Fuck, why’d I do that?” Ackles asks with a groan.

“Because you’re an asshole,” Jared answers on autopilot.

Ackles’ hips slow a bit and his eyes go wide with surprise and disappointment at once. “You really think so?”

“Sometimes. Yeah.”

“Ask me something.”

“Why?”

“Because I don’t want to hear what you really think of me.”

That startles Jared and he begins to pull away to stop this whole matter, but he can’t. His muscles cry out the second there’s just an inch between them. Everything makes sense when he’s touching Ackles. “I thought you didn’t believe in this stuff?”

“I’m starting to,” Ackles says clearly, honestly. “Jared … Ask me something else.”

“Why are you such an asshole to me?”

“Defense mechanism. Because you’re hot as fuck.” He shuts his eyes against the confession.

Jared’s lungs feel tight with that admission and he goes even further to get to the bottom of their partnership. “Why are you always trying to be the hero?”

“Just trying to save you.”

“You think I can’t?”

“Hell yeah, I do.” Ackles’ eyes open wide and clear, as if seeking Jared’s understanding. “I just don’t want to see the one time you can’t.”

Sex pollen or no, Jared’s brain spins and he descends upon Ackles’ mouth once again. He palms the back of Ackles’ head and increases the rough slide of their violent kiss. Winds his tongue within Ackles’ mouth, reaches as far back as possible, then relishes the smooth slide of the underside of his tongue.

Ackles shoves a hand between them to grip Jared’s dick through his pants. He breaks the kiss with a rough breath and begs, “I wanna see you. Can I see you?”

He’s unsure if it’s the pollen or the need to get off, or maybe he was right in Dr. Sampson’s office and it’s something else entirely. Either way, the answer seems to be the same: “Yes. Definitely yes.”

With frantic hands, Ackles undoes Jared’s belt and pants, pulls his briefs down to get to Jared’s dick and strokes it as he frees it from all the fabric. Jared cries out with the renewed heat flaring over his skin with Ackles touching him.

“Sexy as fuck, Jared,” he mumbles, “You know that?”

“No, I don’t.” Jared sighs with the increasing heat of Ackles’ hand on him, moving so perfectly to drive Jared wild. “At least not to you.”

“You are. It’s impossible to work sometimes, too hard to think straight when you get yourself into shitty situations.” Ackles pumps his fist up and down, squeezing the base of Jared’s dick, and draws breathy moans from Jared’s throat. “You never realized that?”

Jared’s words come out in wheezing breaths as his mind whirls at unthinkable speeds. “Always thought you were trying to win every battle. Always thought you were trying to one-up me.”

“Maybe a little.” Ackles smiles with a delicious turn of his hand. “Is this good for you?”

“Really fucking good.”

“You want more?”

Jared’s breath comes faster at his building orgasm and at the image of what more Ackles could do to him. “Yeah, yes, now,” he pants out.

A dirty grin twists Ackles’ face into something even more unfair as he slips his other hand down the back of Jared’s pants. Two fingers slide down Jared’s crack to tease at his hole.

Following a withered moan, Jared pants, “Jesus, yeah, definitely almost there.”

A few more quick strokes and the tip of Ackles’ finger dipping just inside Jared’s ass, and Jared is done. He whimpers and shudders, dizziness overcoming him when he releases. “Shit, Ackles,” he groans at the guy’s neck as he keeps rocking into the warmth of Ackles’ hand pulling every last bit of come out of him.

“Why don’t you ever use my name?” Ackles asks with a shaky voice.

Jared leans back enough to look at him and blinks as his mind searches for the right answer. Right or not, the words tumble out of his mouth thanks to the candourus. “Then you’d be a real person, someone I could care about.”

Ackles nods slowly, eyes nearly crossing as they cloud over. “That sucks.”

The effects of the belladanneel seems to fade away as far as Jared can tell. Nothing screams at him when he pulls away from Ackles, and Ackles isn’t dying to bring Jared back in. He’s well aware that Ackles still hasn’t gotten off, is still incredibly hard in his dress pants, but nothing is immediately telling him to reconcile that.

Which makes him feel sad, pathetic, guilty. He can’t control the quick swing of emotions, nor the want to run away as fast as possible, all the while not wanting to abandon Ackles. Lord only knows how much worse their relationship would be if he left Ackles hanging here.

“You want me to, uh?” Jared mutters without looking directly into Ackles’ eyes or touching him. Just sort of waves his hand in the general direction of Ackles’ dick and tries to spot a simple answer, maybe a nod or something.

One of Ackles’ typically smug smirks creases his face. “I really do.”

“Okay,” he whispers with a small nod and an almost smile. “How do you want me to …?”

“However you want, Jared.”

That’s unfair, as Jared really doesn’t know how he wants to. His brain rudely interrupts Jared’s thinking with a run of fantasies and daydreams—wet ones, too—where he thought about their epically bitchy relationship forcing them into something more viciously tempting and sexual. He hates his brain for reminding him that ever since they were paired up, Jared has been attracted to Ackles, but attitudes kept them apart.

His knees weaken with the revelation, and that is enough to make up his mind. He lowers himself to the ground, opens Ackles’ pants, and once he has Ackles’ dick out, he wraps his lips around the head.

Ackles groans loudly and Jared realizes the echoing noise is actually his own groan at the taste of Ackles. The delicious thickness filling his mouth and the steady rock of Ackles’ hips and the hands landing on the sides of his face. A new wave of heat fills Jared’s chest as he licks at the length of Ackles, bobs with messy saliva slicking the way.

Soon enough, Ackles’ hands are roving over Jared’s head, fingers lightly tugging at hair, and he’s cursing across the board. Asking Jared to go faster, ordering him to do it harder, pleading for him to. Then he breaks and Jared swallows it all down, even continues lightly sucking at Ackles’ head as he shallowly moves between Jared’s lips.

Jared sits back, semi-consciously licks his lips to get up the last bits of come, and waits for Ackles to say something, anything. He is so far out of his comfort zone at the moment and has no clue on how to reconcile the past three years of an asshole partner with this here.

Ackles slants his eyes away from Jared as he puts his clothes back in place, and Jared does the same. Once they’re both standing upright and have glanced around the room, Ackles makes a tiny noise then lifts his brows. “Well, I guess that stuff does work.”

With a huff, Jared decides to ignore the whole matter. Maybe back at headquarters he’ll push for a change in assignment and chalk this up to a workplace accident. He’s heard of worse things happening on the force. “We should probably call CSU in to handle it.”

“With gloves,” Ackles replies, a tiny chuckle masking any possible reaction to the last twenty minutes.

“Of course.”

 

*

 

As with any incident that occurs on duty, they both have to see Dr. Sampson, though it’s the end of the day and she only has time for one of them. Jared decides to let Ackles go first so he can wrap his mind around what he’ll tell her tomorrow—or not. He grabs two coffees from the machine down the hall before he realizes he’s done it. Stupid habit and all, knowing Ackles is just a fraction more tolerable on caffeine.

Once in Dr. Sampson’s waiting room, he puts the second coffee on the table in front of him and decides he’ll pretend he doesn’t know it exists.

No need to do Ackles any favors.

He hears a faint, “Fuck that guy,” from behind a wall, and he nods in agreement. Yeah, fuck Ackles and his smarmy grins.

“And he just acts like nothing happens?”

Jared glances around, trying to figure out where the voice is coming from.

“After all that? After we … after I admitted …”

He stands with nerves making his knees shake and his palms sweat, because he swears that’s Ackles’ voice, and that it’s coming from Dr. Sampson’s office.

A few steps toward the office door and Jared can very neatly hear Dr. Sampson’s calm, objective tone as she asks, “And that’s why you’re so upset?”

Jared’s taken back to that morning when she’d asked him the same thing, not long before he said he either absolutely loathed his partner or quite possibly loved him. Ackles rambles on about how stupid belladanneel is and that candourus should be burned down the ground, and all the while Jared can perfectly hear every word, every inflection while standing a good ten feet from the door.

His stomach plummets to his toes as he fears that Ackles had heard everything he’d said to the doctor that morning… and that would explain the all work and no play makes Jared a dull boy comment, and potentially coincides with Ackles’ smug smiles as they’d headed to Greenbury’s apartment.

“Jensen,” Dr. Sampson asks with patience, “what is really bothering you here?”

“I think I’m in love with my partner,” Ackles says a bit quiet, yet still loud enough for Jared to make out the worry in the words.

“And?”

“And we had sex on the job, and I liked it, and he still thinks I’m an asshole.”

Jared flinches, shocked with something bitter on his tongue and a sharp pain in his chest. He stumbles back a few steps, warring with himself to leave Ackles to what should be confidential or staying to eavesdrop for as long as possible.

He only makes it to his coffee on the table beside the one he’d bought for Ackles. His hand hovers over the covered cups as confusion overtakes him. Ackles has been an asshole for a year now, and yet he’d excused it away as a defense mechanism then begged Jared to suck him off. And yet, just twelve hours ago, in that very same doctor’s office, Jared had wondered if he was also ignoring his feelings.

Dr. Sampson’s door opens and Jared whirls around to see Ackles exiting with Dr. Sampson standing just behind him. She gives Jared a sharp look, minutely shakes her head, then turns away with the door swinging shut.

Ackles’ eyes are wide and his mouth drops open. Horror best describes the look on his face, even comically so, as he flails one hand in the air. “Have you been standing here long?”

Jared can’t manage a decent answer and mumbles, “No, I just got here, haven’t been long, just hanging out, waiting for you.”

Following a strained smile, Ackles aims a thumb at Dr. Sampson’s office. “So you didn’t hear … anything?”

Now Jared knows that Ackles always hanging out in the doctor’s waiting room has allowed him to overhear Jared’s rantings and ravings, and even admissions. That Ackles has heard every shitty thing he’s ever said about his partner, and even the stupid worry over potentially loving him.

Jared is an asshole. Ackles isn’t the real shithead here, Jared is, and always has been apparently. He feels even worse than a shithead when acknowledging how embarrassed Ackles seems as he realizes that Jared was here to listen in on the session.

Instead of replying, Jared grabs both coffees then puts the supposedly non-existent cup out. “I got you coffee. Tar-flavored, just the way you like it.”

“Thanks, I think,” he mumbles as he accepts the cup. He keeps it between his hands and clenches his jaw in a way that makes the angle of it even more pronounced. Jared’s torn between enjoying the dark look and feeling ashamed for this situation. “You going in next?”

Jared waves off the suggestion then heads to the hallway with Ackles slowly following. “I’m scheduled first thing tomorrow. I think she likes starting her day with me,” he adds with a slight, yet awkward, chuckle.

Jensen is anything but amused.

They’re silent out to the garage, tension killing Jared and piling onto the guilt he’s been feeling ever since overhearing Ackles’ confession. When they part for their own cars, Jared can’t stand the quiet anymore and calls out. “Hey, Jensen?”

Ackles turns quickly, eyes wide, likely at Jared finally using his name.

Jared smiles a little at that, at how easily it fell out of his mouth. “I liked it, too.”

He blushes and shuts his eyes, spinning away to leave.

“And I don’t still think you’re an asshole.”

He stops in place, but doesn’t face Jared. “Okay.”

Jared comes forward, hovers just behind Jensen, and decides to just fucking go for it. “It’s probably assbackwards, after a fully year of working together, and the belladanneel, and all that … but you wanna get dinner? Get to know each other a little?”

Jensen slowly turns back to Jared and clears his throat. “Belladanneel isn’t real,” he says with a mocking smile, one Jared is used to when Jensen consistently denies their work.

Jared pulls out a cocky smile of his own and shrugs. “Then we’ve probably got something to work with here.”

“Yeah, probably.”