“I never meant to kill him,” the green-eyed man says.
Jared believes him – tries to believe him, his gaze darting to the body of Brother Pete on the floor. Jared did try to resuscitate him but it was in vain. Now he's back behind the counter, a safe barrier between the stranger and himself.
The man scrubs a hand down his face, sighing.
“I'm Jensen,” he says. “What's your name?”
Jared just points to his name tag.
“Jared,” the man reads, squinting a bit due to the low light. He sits down in one of the stools in front of the counter and puts the gun down on it.
Almost reflexively, Jared pushes a cup towards the stranger, holds out the pot with the last of the day's coffee, raising a quizzical eyebrow. There's a lot of things coffee makes better.
“Oh yes, please,” Jensen says, sighing.
Jared fills the cup and spellbound, watches the other man drink the hot liquid disappearing behind pink lips.
The throat's movement stirs fleeting memories but Jared can't get a hold of them.
As soon as the cup's empty, Jensen shoves it towards Jared for a refill, who obliges him. Jensen pours the still scalding beverage down his gullet, confusing the poor waiter even more. He seems outwardly calm despite the dead body by the counter and a possible hostage or another soon-to-be dead man in front of him.
“I'll be out of your hair soon,” Jensen says when the cup is empty for a second time. “I just need a minute to catch my breath.”
“You don't talk much, do you?”
Jared shrugs and shakes his head. He lost his voice a long time ago, and in this situation, it’s not like his words will bring Pete back to life.
“Huh.” Jensen rubs at his eyes, looking tired.
Jared eyes the gun, black and heavy looking. He could easily reach it, but he wouldn't know what to do with it. Jared never was fond of weapons, always tried to stay clear of them. It hasn't been easy; he has the scars to prove that guns found him way too often.
A hand covers the gun, pulling it back towards Jensen.
“Don't you think about it,” he says, and Jared, wide-eyed, takes a step back, colliding with the coffee machine. The back of his t-shirt gets soaked with the spilt coffee and water collecting at the bottom of the machine.
Only ten more minutes, then Jared would have finished scrubbing it down and closed the little diner. Brother Pete came by to have a little chat and walk home with him. Now, the poor, old monk is dead on the floor and Jared is facing a gun-wielding criminal all alone.
He's not scared , though.
Maybe just a little bit.
Jensen can't believe the mess he got himself into. He's so deep into Shit Creek and his boat is leaking.
He didn't want the old man to die; it seriously was an accident. If he tells it often enough, he may even believe it, eventually.
But he's a mobster on the run and with the life he's living, he shouldn't waste another thought about an old, dead man.
The young man, though – that's another story.
He could think about the tall, lanky guy all day and not one single thought would be a wasted one.
Jared is stunning – youth still shining in his eyes, his face framed by soft-looking hair tied in a messy bun.
Stop thinking with your downstairs brain, Jensen tells himself.
Jensen feels fidgety, nervous, like he's never felt before. There's a fire burning just under his skin, making his leg move restlessly and his whole body hot and itchy.
He takes a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, lights one up and sees Jared wrinkling his nose. He just can't not have a smoke right now, so the cute waiter will have to suck it up.
The smoke he blows from his nose is swirling in front of his face, gray tendrils dissolving into the air. The tobacco tastes bitter but he can feel the nicotine doing its work. Jensen calms down a bit, enough to finally keep his leg still.
Thank fuck that's the only drug he indulges in on a regular basis. He never did hard drugs and was able to keep Matt from shooting up. Jensen knows what crackheads look like and didn’t want to end up like his uncle and cousins.
The gun's still on the counter, his hand's heat seeping into the metal.
Just a few hours ago, he shot at his friends in order to keep himself alive. Though, in his line of business, he probably never had a friend .
“You know, I never wanted to be a criminal. A mobster even.” Jensen breathes air and smoke out. “It just happened. I just... got sucked into it. You know how it is.”
Actually, Jared looks like a nice kid, he probably doesn't know how it is .
But it's Jensen's own fault that he's in trouble. He could have said no the first time Matt asked him to run errands and the second time and the third. But Matt was so talented with his tongue and dick, and when Jensen saw the amount of cash that changed hands, he didn't want out for a long time. Then he saw the first kill and knew he was screwed; there was no way out for him anymore.
Everyone knew the guy that got kicked out of school, though no one knew specifics. Rumors were circulating that no one in their right mind could believe.
Jensen always thought he was attractive – tall, lean, with dark hair and fascinating eyes. The guy was still hanging around after his expulsion, selling drugs and bullying the smaller kids. When security or police came he was gone, always avoiding arrest.
When Jensen was leaving school that fateful day, it was the beanpole, that never spoke a word outside of the classroom, that was being harassed. Out of a reason he never understood, Jensen stood up to the guy.
“Leave him alone,” he said, eyes blazing. Beanpole slunk away while the guy sized him up.
Jensen still doesn't know what made the guy grind his cigarette butt under his heel and say, “You're cute.”
He also doesn't know why he didn't punch the guy but that's how he met Matt.
And now he wishe d he had punched him right in his lewd grin.
“I'm a thief, you know.” Why does he tell Jared this? “Cars, expensive ones.” Another drag from his cigarette. “They tell me what they want and I deliver.”
It's the kind of cars he'll never be able to afford but it's fun to drive a Ferrari or Porsche just for an hour. It's the adrenaline rush when speeding through the city, racing the police and Matt's filthy pillow talk afterwards.
His life never was perfect but it was as good as it could get. His boyfriend was hot, his job was fun most of the time and he earned good money. But...
“I'm not a killer,” Jensen says. That's true. He had a fierce fight with Matt after a mutilated body had been found, had witnessed beatings, shake downs and the brutality of Matt’s life. But always tried to steer clear of bigger trouble like murder, being forced to kill or getting himself killed.
There's pain in the man's face. Jared can see something happened that rocked Jensen's world to the core. It certainly wasn't his mother beating him unconscious in a drunken rage as Jared's had but something equally earthshaking – something that made him run.
Jared knows from experience that there's no use in running. He ran while hiding in plain sight. Withdrawing himself into his deepest core until there was only a shell walking around with Jared's face on.
And then Ross happened, the boy Jared crushed on so hard, which didn't make his life easier.
Ross never took notice of him – no one did. It was okay since he couldn't even imagine the consequences if his mother knew about it. Feelings for another boy was something his mother found disgusting.
Th en one day, though, Ross noticed him enough to stand up to the school's former worst bully, Matt, who demanded Jared's lunch money, knowing he had none, but u sing it as a reason to abuse him.
It was the first time someone spoke up for Jared, not demanding something in return that Jared didn't want to give. Someone acknowledged him, even just for a short time.
He didn't wait to see what happened next. Instead he walked home as slowly as he could, delaying the inevitabl e - that moment he had to open the door like he did every day to be forced into a place he wanted so desperately to escape from.
But that day – when he turned the knob, when the door creaked and swung open slowly, when it revealed the shabby interior – he saw his mother lying on the worn out couch, snoring and sleeping off the bender she had been on for the past couple of days. And he flat-out hated her.
It was not the pity or terror he usually felt at seeing his mother but hate , rising to the surface fast and hot, feeling like he was burning from the inside out . And when someone, that didn't even know him, was able to stand up for Jared, he realized that he should be standing up for himself.
He closed the door silently from the outside, walked two houses down to Mr. Beaver and his wife's, and knocked.
It's a matter of trust now. Jensen says he won't kill Jared but can he trust him? He doesn't dare to upset him even more by doing something stupid. So, he makes a decision; offering Jensen a slice of pecan pie.
He's allowed to bring any leftovers back home to where he lives. Brother Pete always said there was no problem a pie couldn't solve when he ordered pecan, his favorite. Silently, Jared hoped this reasoning was true.
Jared glances at his friend's body and sighs, pushing the plate a bit closer to the mobster.
Jensen looks up and says, “I need to go, they'll be here any moment.”
But he doesn't move, doesn't get up, just looks at Jared with those green eyes of his. Shadows are crawling over his face since it's getting dark outside. Most of the diner's lights had already been turned off when Jensen had walked in.
Jared doesn't want him to die because... he doesn't know why. He believes Jensen though, that he's no killer, that he wants out. And somehow, he knows him.
A low chuckle escapes Jensen when he notices the pie on the counter.
The sound hits Jared right in the gut and a little bit more south, just like it always did. Then with clarity, Jared realizes who Jensen really is. This is Ross, that's why he felt so familiar to Jared.
He used to go by another name when Jared had known him, but he still finds the boyish grin in the man's frown, the soft shape of a teenager in the hard line of the man's jaws. He knows what to look for, so he sees it and he's sure now.
This is Ross , the man that unknowingly changed Jared's life.
The pie makes him chuckle.
It's the most inappropriate time to eat pie, Jensen thinks.
He can't read Jared. His ultimate motive must be survival but looking into Jared's eyes, dark in the low light, Jensen sees... no fear. Huh .
Jensen had noticed the glance to the old man's body, though and guilt's swamping him in hot waves.
He's just tired. He's been running since he met Matt years ago. His life, past and present has finally caught up with him and now, he's too exhausted to even move.
Matt is... was Jensen's way out of the black hole that was his family – sucking him in and squeezing until he threatened to implode. But the price he had to pay was high, years of being on constant alert, of looking over his shoulder. He just wants it to be over.
“Look, sweetie pie,” Matt said. “It's easy. You pull the trigger, and it's over. Just like that.”
The gun was hot in Jensen's hand, searing into the flesh of his palm, pointed at the guy on the floor, who was bloody and bruised. Jensen had been there when Chad and Osric and Ty – guys he had thought of as his friends – had beat the guy to a pulp at Matt's command.
All those years, Jensen had known that Matt was pretty high up in the gang. During the last two years, he somehow stopped lying to himself and slowly realized that it wasn't a gang though but a part of the Mob . His mind started harboring thoughts of Get Out Now .
This night only proved his latest suspicions: Matt was really high up in the chain of commands and it was too late for Jensen.
He had been such a fool but that was nothing new.
And so Matt had thrust the gun in Jensen's hand and snuggled up close to his back, keeping Jensen's arm from shaking and pressing his finger over Jensen's trigger finger.
Just a tiny move of his digit and he'd prove his loyalty, tethering himself to a life full of fast cars, easy money and violence.
Losing his soul in the process.
Jensen turned, pushing Matt back, and said, “No,” the first one he had ever said to Matt .
Matt's reply was low, composed but decidedly dangerous. Jensen leveled the gun at him, noticed Ty's hand creeping to the waist of his back, and that's when deliberately, he jumped onto a leaking boat.
Weird that he had to shoot someone in order to not kill another one. But that's life, always rubbing the shit you want to avoid in your face.
The sound of a car approaching startles both of the men in the diner.
That's it . Jensen thought to himself.
“You better run, Jared,” Jensen says in a calm voice, pushing the gun away from himself. He looks tired.
But Jared can't . This is the man who showed him that there are people out there capable of caring. Who taught him to see them and himself.
Because of this man, Jared learned that people do care, even for a stranger. But you need to be willing to accept their kindness – and you can be kind in return.
Because of Jensen – Ross – Jared walked out on his mother and his toxic family and found another one, kind enough to take him in. He found Brother Pete and the monks at the monastery and they helped him find the job at the diner and a place in the shelter until Jared had saved enough money to rent his own small apartment.
Brother Pete is dead, suffering a severe heart attack when facing the gun. But Jensen's still alive, and Jared is able to help him , this time.
Because Brother Pete always wore private clothes under his habit, an idea forms in Jared’s mind. It’s just crazy enough to work.
Matt is furious.
The bastard just shot at Ty and ran off – after all the years of grooming him, Jensen just proved that all the time and money, that Matt had invested in him, was wasted.
There's the car, parked in front of a sleazy diner, one that Matt never would set a foot in if he had a choice. It's situated in an industrial area, surrounded mostly by warehouses. Which means there's no one around at that time of the night. It's a good place to off someone, although Matt would have no qualms about killing his former lover in front of a police station right now.
Because he's fucking furious.
As soon as the car stops, he's out, gripping his gun tightly. He tears open the doors and runs into the diner.
The lighting is dim, most of the room dark but there, in the front, is a puddle of light, illuminating three people. Matt raises his arm, points the gun, but when he draws nearer, he sees that none of them are Jensen.
There's a dead body on the floor and a monk hunched over it, who's apparently praying. The third person's a young man looking up with tear tracks on his face. The wuss is blubbing and it begins to irritate Matt.
“Please,” Crying Guy says, and Matt levels the gun at him. “Please call 911. He killed Pete.”
So now, Jensen has decided to kill someone? After he refused to kill a snitch, he’s now killed an innocent bystanders? Who would've thought he had it in him?
Still, it's not going to save him, not after his betrayal.
“Where did he go?” Matt asks.
Crying Guy points to the kitchen door.
In a heartbeat, Matt's through the kitchen and out the back door. Standing in a dimly lit alley, he sees the only way the fucker could have taken since there's a dead end to his left. He turns right and runs down the alley,
Matt’s rage is burning too brightly to see he's only chasing goose, though.
Jared wipes at his eyes. Fear and the fact of Brother Pete's death are catching up with him and he can't hold back the tears.
“You need to go,” Jensen says. His voice sounds a bit muffled coming from under the hood.
A habit is a good disguise , Brother Pete used to say. Everyone looks right through you .
It's true. The killer on Jensen's heels immediately dismissed the monk, thinking that wasn't his prey next to the body on the floor.
“No, I'll call the police,” Jared says. His throat feels raw from speaking but it's a good ache. Jared had rediscovered his voice. “You need to go now.”
Jensen looks at him for a moment, then he takes off the habit. Pulling the heavy clothing over his head is like removing armor, and when it finally pools on the floor, it makes Jensen look vulnerable.
“I'm–” Clearing his throat, he starts again. “I'm sorry about your friend.”
Jared looks down on the brother's face. “It's not your fault,” he says. “It was an accident. Now go!”
Jensen stands, towering over Jared, who’s never felt less threatened by a man standing so tall. Even though Jared always had at least a couple of inches on everyone else, he never felt the need to use his height and physical strength against someone. He learned early on that he was lacking that will, while others didn't.
“I don't know how to thank you,”Jensen says, looking down on Jared. Jared can't see Jensen's face clearly in the dim light, but there's something like awe and... respect in his voice.
“There's no need,” Jared replies. ”I'm paying back someone that helped me a long time ago.”
So Jensen turns to leave. He stands in the half-opened door, a hand on the knob, looking back for the last time. He's smiling, it’s a small and sad smile.
Jared smiles, too. Jared’s still smiling even though Jensen is long gone.