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Jared Padalecki vs. The Forces of Evil

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"Run, little rabbit. I want to enjoy this."

Jared jolts awake with a start, extending his hand out into the darkness around him. It's silent; quiet. His sweat slicked hair sticks to his forehead as his wide and wild eyes scans his bedroom for anything resembling a threat. After a few beats, Jared finally catches his breath, sighing sharply.

It was just another nightmare. And just when he thought they stopped. That asshole was in his dreams again. Damn him.

Jared flops back down on his back, inadvertently jostling his black cat from his own slumber. His companion, Chad, lifts his head in mild curiosity, coming over from his side of the bed to curl protectively up to Jared. The teen shifts to his side, eyes closing as he gently strokes Chad's black fur.

"It was nothing, Chad," Jared mumbles, yawning afterwards. "'M fine..."

Chad hums, nuzzling into his owner's touch. "Alright then. I won't let anything happen to you."

"I know."

The sentiment warms Jared's heart. But he's just a cat.

****

In the morning, Jared wakes up before his alarm clock, finding Chad wrapped securely in his arms. He sighs happily, carefully removing himself from the equation. Jared sits up in the bed, looking over towards his window. The sun's not quite up yet, but it's making its presence quite known toward the world.

Jared rises from the bed, going to take his cellphone off the charger. He deactivates the alarm; he only beat it by a few minutes. Not bad. The young Warlock stretches, joints cracking. Music to his ears. He yawns silently whilst leaving his room, unknowingly waking Chad up once again. The cat looks towards Jared, quickly hoping off the bed to walk beside him in the hall. Jared glances down at him with a sleepy frown.

"Why are you following me to the bathroom?"

"Why not?" Chad answers back.

"It's weird."

"Gotta make sure you're okay."

Ah. The nightmare thing. Jared scratches his head. He stops, and so does Chad.

"You're taking the 'worried best friend' thing a bit far." Jared says. "I'm fine, alright? Just fine. It was a stupid nightmare. Everyone has them."

"But not everyone has seen their own--"

"Don't."

It's said bluntly and with such finality that Jared almost scolds himself over sounding so harsh. Nonetheless, Chad understands. Of course he does. He was there to see it all. So much blood...

The immortal feline makes a noise that sounds suspiciously like a sigh. He looks into Jared's eyes, sitting down obediently. "Right. My apologies. I care, that's all. Don't wanna see another Padalecki boy stressed out. Your ancestors had the worst issues with night terrors. Yikes."

Jared laughs, walking ahead of Chad to the bathroom. "So I've been told. I'll be out in a second. Go see if Jeff is up. He'll make you something quick to eat."

"Fine. I'm so hungry I could hunt down a rat. Ugh. I hate rats."

Chad bounds away, and Jared finally makes it to the bathroom. His feline companion is concerned, and he definitely means well...but Jared can fend for himself. Chad's presence has been felt since birth when Jared's father first introduced them to each other. It's been said that when Chad laid eyes on Jared, he knew he wanted to protect him from harm.

It's not so far fetched seeing as how if Jared so much as shows signs of a slight cold now, Chad jumps all over him. If he were mortal again, this would pose a serious issue.

But he's not, and hasn't been for ages; centuries.

Time passes by as Jared readies himself in the bathroom. He steps out of the shower, soaking wet with steam rising from his naked body. Drying himself, he takes a step towards the mirror, brushing his pearly whites.

As Jared gargles on the mouthwash, he hears a familiar voice in his mind. It's deep, and it echoes, but the words are clear as day.

"Why send the "annoyance" to bother me?"

Jared reels, spitting out the liquid. He addresses the voice back, out loud this time. "He's hungry, and because I have to get ready for the big day, Jeff. Remember? I even marked it on your calendar."

"Oh. Yes. I forgot. My apologies."

Of course he did.

"It's fine. Can you drop me off after breakfast?"

"I have to be at work soon...but we'll see."

The voice fades away, and Jared's mind is his own once more. Jeff knows his boundaries with Telepathy; short and sweet, straight to the point. Just like his personality really.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan, his guardian and his mentor besides. He's been a the greatest person to ever exist these past few years. Jared wouldn't have made it out of the dark pit he crawled into without Jeff's help and teachings. The man is tall, dark, and handsome, and even though he might look like he's the grumpiest son of a bitch on the planet, he's actually quite friendly and nurturing.

At least towards Jared.

Jared finishes up, going back towards his room to dress himself. Chad is not there when he opens the door, thank god. A 17 year old is entitled to even the slightest bit of privacy, right?

Not even five minutes later, Jared is fully dressed and ready to start the day. Despite this, he yawns once more, pulling his hair back in a messy bun. Before leaving the room again, he grabs his backpack. As he bounds down the staircase, he overhears his guardian and cat speaking to one another. Bickering is more like it. Usually, they would just try their best to avoid each other.

"I don't like eggs."

"I don't care."

"I see why you never married."

"Hmph. Eat it, or you go hungry."

"Why are you so cruel, Morgan?"

"Because I just slaved over a hot stove to cook for an entitled dick."

Jared just shakes his head after hearing the exchange. He finally makes it down the steps, veering to the right past the living room towards the bookcase. The young man scans the various tomes and texts on the shelf, finally plucking one away. It's the one he began reading three days ago. He's at the very last chapter.

"Unlocking The Mind," Jared mutters to himself, stuffing the book in his bag. "What more can you teach me?"

Before he knows it, Chad is next to him again, pawing at his jeans. Jared looks down, eyebrow raised slightly.

"Breakfast." Chad mewls. "Eat."

"I heard."

"Then let's go."

"You can't go with me today, I hope you realize that."

"I could hide in your bag."

"Yeah. No."

Chad grunts in frustration, but says nothing more on the matter. They walk side by side to the kitchen where Jared sees his guardian attempting to flip pancakes in the air. Needless to say, he's not very good at it. The young Warlock takes a seat at the table, putting his bag behind his chair.

Jeff hums a tune unfamiliar to Jared as he barely catches a falling pancake with the frying pan.

"Don't quit your day job, Jeff." Jared smiles.

His mentor glares at him for a moment before quickly dumping the breakfast on a plate. Without using his hands, he sends towards Jared who quickly summons a fork to his hand.

"Breakfast was never my strong suit," the man says, wiping sweat from his brow. "Damn."

"You have to get used to it."

"I don't think I'll ever get used to it." Jeff pours himself some coffee. He spots Chad looking expectantly at him, eyes piercing his soul. His intentions are clear. Sighing heavily, he takes an extra pancake from a pile, and tosses it towards the feline. He then sits across from Jared at the table. "He's very particular."

Jared chuckles, bending down to pet his cat. "He is. I hate it."

"Quiet, you." Chad mumbles, chewing on the flapjack. "Mmm. Wow. This is--oh, man. Best thing I've eaten in three days."

"I'm not here to feed you." Jeff grunts. "Freeloader. Anyway, Jared, are you excited for your big day?"

Jared stops eating for a millisecond prior to answering, oozing teen sass.

"Is anyone ever excited to spend 7 hours in a building full of adolescents?"

"A simple 'no, not really' would've sufficed."

"It would have."

Jeff actually laughs. "Smartass. Please, whatever you do: be nice to the other kids. I know that's a lot to ask from you."

"I'll be nice only if they're nice back to me."

"And if that proves to be a challenge?"

"I have Magic, they don't."

The two Warlocks settle in comfortable silence; Jared finishing his breakfast, Jeff swallowing down a second cup of hot coffee. He's amazing. Jeff, that is. He's a powerful Warlock that can kick your ass with a blindfold over his eyes and not break a sweat, but here he is, tending to Jared like he's his real parent--

No.

Jared shakes out of the dark thoughts that threaten to loom over him.

Not again.

Jeff's done a lot of work with him these last two years. From extensive training and research to life management, Jeff has taught Jared things that most people like them wouldn't achieve in their entire lifetime. He's a good mentor, and an even better confidante. Jared still remembers the day he and Chad arrived at his house; Jared was still angry and hurt over the tragedy that struck his family.

He lashed out whenever he could, but Jeff was always there to soothe the situation. In his own way, of course.

****

Lori wakes up with a start, screaming aloud. There's no one around in her apartment to comfort her; she lives alone. With a soft sob, she breaks down, shouting as she pounds her fists into the mattres. It's the eighth night in a row where she's had the same recurring dream.

No. Not dream. Nightmare.

Stalking, watching from the shadows, always there, never quiet; heavy breathing like years before. He loves her so much, but his love is not the kind she wants. His rough hands curl around her throat: She. Can't. Breathe. Her neck snaps like a twig, and the nightmare repeats itself.

It's horrid! Nothing's working. Lori fights sleep now, but it's becoming unbearable. When she gets up to look in the mirror, she sees that her eyes are bloodshot and that her neck bears the same markings as it did in her dream.

Not dream, she reminds herself.

Nightmare.

****

Jeff's car soon comes to a stop on front of the school building. Jared watches as the students interact with each other, gossiping about what they saw Billy did to Becky at Jessica's house party. It's all so uninteresting and boring and mindless. However, they are all happy and engaged in this drivel, so who is he to judge them? Everyone has fun in different ways.

"So many teens..." Chad says from the backseat, looking out the window. Of course he had to come along. "Hormones raging everywhere."

Both Warlocks roll their eyes and ignore the cat mumbling in the back.

"I might be able to pick you up after school. Depends on what's going on. Are you sure you want to do this?" Jeff asks, clearly concerned. His eyes are softer than usual. "It's fine if you don't want to. I can set up a private tutor for you."

Jared grabs his bag. "I need to have some semblance of normalcy in my life again. I can't stay home studying spells all day. I need to take control. I need to live again."

Jeff smiles warmly. He reaches over, smoothing back Jared's hair with one hand. "You are your father's son."

Jared mirrors the smile, but his eyes go vacant as he remembers that dreaded day. It'll never leave him. Soon, he gathers his things, bidding farewell to Jeff and Chad. The latter attempts to leave the car, pawing at the window that separates them. Jared assures him that everything is okay, and that he'll breeze by the day quickly, a statement that Chad groans at.

Not long after exiting the car, Jeff pulls off with an anxious Chad shouting Jared's name. Unfortunately, his voice was heard by everyone within earshot of the car. The good news is, however, no one actually saw the talking black cat yelling for him, just a gruff looking man in the front seat. With that comforting thought in mind, Jared heads towards the school building, shouldering his backpack.

Some of the kids stare at him, eyeing him cautiously, whispering things amongst themselves. A few girls giggle, smiling at him with literal hearts in their eyes. Jared smiles back, winking at them devilishly. He knows he's handsome, might as well have some fun with it. The girls swoon, quickly walking off to talk about the new kid or whatever. Jared doesn't care.

He finally gets inside of the building, going straight for the main office. The students that were outside before come piling inside, going about their day before the bell rings. It's senior year in the middle of September. Most of them have the ins and outs of the place down to a science. It would hurt to befriend at least one of them now, wouldn't it?

After speaking with a kind woman at the front desk, Jared obtains his class schedule, his locker number and combination, and a sort of map of the school. It's a pretty big building. Once that's over with, Jared walks away, headed towards his designated locker. All around him are students adhering to their own schedule, some talking idly to each other, and some goofing off.

Finally, Jared makes it to his locker. Taking a look at the paper in his hand, he attempts to put in the combination.

2-turn-6-turn-9-pull.

Nothing.

Jared tries again.

Still nothing.

Sighing, he tries once more, but again, it doesn't budge. Jared rests his forehead on the cool metal of the locker door, closing his eyes. He had forgotten how tedious and frustrating combination locks were. Padlocks unlockable by keys are oh-so much better. Just as he begins to contemplate using his Dark Magic to break the stupid fucking lock, a student appears beside him, leaning against the lockers.

"Hey, need some help?"

With his eyes still closed, Jared hums affirmatively. "It would seem so."

"Well, allow me."

This guy's voice is oddly soothing. Curious, Jared lifts his head up off the locker for a chance to see his savior. The moment he opens his eyes is the same moment he's greeted by the most beautiful pair of emerald green eyes. What's more, Jared notices the guy's freckles splattered all over his nose and cheeks. It would be a chore to count them all. His smile is as bright as his teeth, and the last thing Jared spots are the tips of his ears.

They're pointy. Like an Elf's. The guy is clearly a knockout, but the Warlock doesn't let it get to him.

Jared moves out of the way, gesturing for the other student to take over for him. The guy nods, smug smile in place.

"This was my locker last year," he explains. "It was a pain in the ass, believe me."

"I believe you."

Jared watches as the guy struggles with the lock, using the correct combination at least twice.

"You see, the trick is to just--dammit."

Jared snickers. "Mhm."

The student strains, blowing out air from his inflated cheeks. "This was a lot easier before."

There's something about this guy...it just makes Jared smile. It's strange, but maybe it's not so strange at all. Whatever. As much as Jared enjoys watching this guy struggle endlessly with the faulty lock, he can't let it take up too much of his time. Wordlessly, Jared uses his powers to unlock the locker. His fellow classmate yanks on the lock as it clicks, surprising himself.

He looks at Jared with a triumphant grin. It's so goofy, but pleasant. He moves out of the way for Jared so he can deposit his jacket inside.

"There you go. Finally got in! They really need to get a new lock."

Jared holds back a small smile, getting ready to leave. "Yeah, they really do. See you around."

The guy, not wanting to let him slip away, quickly walks in front of him. "Uh, wait! You're new, right?"

"Word travels fast."

"Haha, yeah. It does. I'm Jensen. Jensen Ackles."

He sticks his hand out as if to shake. Jared has other plans. He gasps dramatically, holding his own hand over his heart.

"Holy Shit."

Jensen frowns. "What?"

"Jensen Ackles is talking to me, I cannot believe it."

"Oh," Jensen smirks, hands on his hips. "So you've heard of me?"

"No." Jared deadpans.

Amazingly, instead of being offended, Jensen rears his head back in a mighty laugh. It makes Jared frown because wow, people usually are put off by his odd sense of humor. Jensen seems to be a special case, and frightens the living hell out of Jared. He calms down significantly, showing that he is at least partially sane.

"And you are...?"

"Headed to class."

"You're funny. I like that." Jensen says. "What's your first class?"

The Warlock checks his schedule. Why? Why would he even do this? He barely knows Jensen...so why? For some unknown reason, Jared tells him the truth.

"Chemistry."

Jensen's eyebrows almost reach up to his hairline. "Really? Me too! Wanna be lab partners?"

"I--"

Before Jared can even answer that with a definite no, the school bell rings, signaling for everyone to get to their classes.

Jensen grins wide, making a vague gesture that most likely means "Shall we?" Against his better judgement, Jared walks ahead of Jensen who tags along like a little lost puppy. Of all the people to latch onto, Jensen chooses him.

Ugh. Why?

Doesn't he have popular jock friends and maybe even a pretty little cheerleader girlfriend to get to? Or maybe a boyfriend? Jared doesn't judge. He's never dated anyone, much less shown any romantic interest in either sexes. One could say that...perhaps he likes both? Maybe he's gay, maybe he's straight. Maybe he's both; everyone's a little bit gay nowadays.

Back to the topic at hand, Jared and his new sidekick enter the classroom together. Jensen greets a few of his "friends", nodding at them. They look at Jared, wondering just why he's being seem with the new kid. Jared doesn't care about them. Not really. He's not here to make new friends, just get this school year over with, graduate, and live a comfy, quasi-peaceful life with his magical talking cat.

Sounds completely normal, doesn't it? Good.

While Jensen chats with his friends, Jared heads straight for the empty table, putting his bag down by his feet. Not even five seconds after he does this, Jensen comes sauntering up to the workstation, plopping his happy go lucky self down next to the boy. Jared groans silently, trying and failing to not think dark thoughts about this guy that won't leave him alone.

"Hey, lab partner." Jensen grins.

"Hello, Jensen." Jared replies.

"You don't have to worry about anything. People say I'm really good to work with, and I won't let you do everything by yourself."

"Oh, boy. Can't wait."

Eventually, the bell rings again, forcing those remaining outside of classrooms to scurry inside. The teacher steps through the door five minutes later; an older, dark skinned woman with her natural hair pulled back in a neat bun. She's dressed professionally, unlike most teacher's here, sporting a lovely suit with rimless glasses. To say that she's beautiful would be an understatement. And to say that she's a little scatterbrained wouldn't do her justice.

She carries some books with her, planners and such, as well as a cup of coffee that Jared can smell from his seat. She drops her belongings on the desk before pushing her glasses up to her face. Jared looks at his schedule, seeing that her last name is Harmon. Ms. Harmon by the lack of wedding ring on her finger. It's not long until she begins addressing the class.

"Good morning, everyone. Sorry I was late. So much stuff to do. Alright. Let's see..." Ms. Harmon takes a brief peak at her planner. "I got a message of a new student. Jared...erm...Paladeck--Peda--"

Jared clears his throat. "Padalecki, ma'am."

Ms. Harmon blushes. "Ma'am? So respectful. Sorry about that. Jared Padalecki. Welcome to my class. Stand up, tell us a little bit about yourself."

Suddenly, all eyes are on Jared. It was never his intention to be immediately thrust into the spotlight when he got out the car this morning, but here he is. Hell,  even Jensen is paying extra special attention to him now. While Jared cares little about kids his age, he is undoubtedly polite and respectful to adults. Well...only towards the ones who are respectful to him. Damned Council...

Soon enough, Jared forces a smile, standing up to his full height. He contemplates telling a lie, sounding as genuine as possible. Then he realizes that the truth sounds so much better coming out of his mouth. Besides, no one will believe him anyway.

"Hi. I'm Jared, I'm 17 years old, I live with my guardian, Magic exists, my best friend is my cat, and my parents are dead."

Jared's introduction yields mixed results. Certain students remain quiet, others whisper to their peers, and very few laugh quietly. It's certain that he's left an impression on everyone here, but none quite like Jensen who seems even more enthralled by him. Ms. Harmon, however, remains slackjawed, unable to properly process exactly what was just said.

"Oh," she finally says. "Um...alright. That's--okay. You can take your seat now."

"Thank you."

While the teacher begins talking about the day's lesson, Jensen nudges Jared's shoulder with his. The young man turns his head slightly. "Padalecki, huh? I like it. Pretty cool."

Jared fights the urge to smile yet again, opting to stare straight ahead at the large whiteboard. "Thanks."

Jensen chose to ignore everything that was said, instead focusing on his name...which he so graciously complimented. Jared doesn't know whether this guy is fucking with him, or if he's genuinely a weirdo with nothing better to do.

Either way, it feels...nice to receive some kind of friendly attention.

And if Jared spent the entire period imagining what it'd be like to be possible friends with Jensen, it's no one's business but his own.

****

It's 4th period now, and it's worst one yet, at least in Jared's eyes.

Physical Education. It's just an excuse to work teenagers to death before they can truly live. And it's precisely why Jared is on the bleachers, nosedeep in the tome he gathered from the bookshelf this morning. He's much rather flex his brain than flex his muscles.

"Pass!"

Jared looks up, seeing Jensen and his other classmates playing a solid game of basketball. Yet another class they somehow share together. It's the third one today; he got a break from Jensen in third period English, thank God. He's funny, very smart, but kind of a pain. But in a good way? Perhaps. Jared's not certain on that yet. Time will tell.

He suddenly catches himself staring at the boy dribbling the ball up and down the court, scoring a shot from the three-point line. Jensen gloats, high fiving one of his teammates. He's a jock then? Jared pegged him for one. At the same moment, he chances a look up at the bleachers, catching Jared staring. The Warlock quickly looks back into his book, embarrassed that he was caught.

Even without looking back, Jared can sense Jensen smirking, and all he wants to do is wipe it clean from the face of planet earth! For now, he'll settle for pointedly ignoring him in favor of discovering new ways to use his powers.

"Padalecki!"

Or not.

Jared looks up again, this time seeing the coach calling out to him. Coach Cohen, very athletic, very determined. From what he has observed, Coach Cohen takes his job very seriously. One might think he sees this as his second chance to be in high school. The game has stopped, and all the boys are looking at him. Oh, great. Jared goes back to his book with a sigh.

"Yes, sir?" He responds.

Coach Cohen huffs. "Get down here and join in. This isn't Study Hall, let's go!"

"I'd rather sit this one out, if it's okay with you, Coach."

"It's not. This goes towards your grade! I don't wanna give you an F for today, but I'm thinking I might have to."

Oh, for God's sake--

Jared keeps his eyes on the book. Discreetly, he tugs on his left ear three times, gaining control over Coach Cohen's mind. It's quite strange in there. Juvenile thoughts of popularity among the staff, attempts to stay young, late night drinking. It's almost sad. But even so, Jared speaks through him, making sure to copy down his mannerisms perfectly.

"Actually," he laughs through Coach Cohen. "Nevermind. I'll give you a week's pass, Padalecki. Just because you're new."

"What?" A boy exclaims. One of Jensen's friends. Oliver, Jared has learned. "Oh, come on! That's not fair!"

Jared releases his hold on the adult, making them both just a little dizzy. Despite the odd feeling in his head, Coach Cohen sticks to the words Jared planted within him. "Let's get back to the game. Focus!"

"You heard the man," comes Jensen's voice. "Let's get back to it."

"Whatever. I bet the new kid probably bombs at this anyways."

"Excuse me?" Jared and Jensen say in unison.

The Warlock glances down from his seat towards Jensen; the boy looks up to him with a kind smile. He hardly knows him, and yet he's already defending him? Wow.

Oliver scoffs. "I said he probably sucks at this."

That's all Jared needs to hear. Before a fight can break out between friends, Jared closes his book, setting it off to the side of him after placing in a bookmark. Taking long elegant strides, he comes down to the basketball court, taking the ball from Jensen's hands. Jared glares daggers at Oliver, letting him know just what he unleashed. Today was supposed to go smoothly; nothing too flashy, no showing off, keeping to himself.

But no. Oliver had to take it up a notch. And now Jared's gonna teach him a lesson.

"I've never a played a game in my life, but I'm pretty sure I can beat you." Jared quickly (and harshly) passes the ball to Oliver, pointing at Jensen afterwards. "I'm on his team. Let's do this."

Well, the game went just as you'd expect it to go. Jared slaughtered--figuratively, of course--them all on the court with Jensen's help. It didn't take long for him to gather enough information on how to play by scanning their brains. It wasn't that hard to begin with. Dribble the ball, stay within the lines, pass when necessary, shoot when you can, prevent others from scoring. Now he understands why so many people enjoy this as a sport.

Scoring points from a distance that most would find impossible, Jared shut Oliver right up, along with others who silently doubted his serious ball handling skills. As the game came to an end, Jensen gave him a pat on the back. He was jogging backwards, not paying much attention when he tripped over his own two feet. Jared bit back a giggle as Jensen fell foolishly on his ass.

Maybe this was a precursor to a good school year.

Maybe.

****

It's lunchtime now. Sort of peaceful. Just a little. Jared, however, feels his phone in his pocket buzzing. He doesn't really use it, so who on earth could it be? The young man pulls it out, seeing that it's an oncoming video call from home. Jeff's at work, so that could only mean one thing. Jared checks around him for any prying eyes before accepting the call.

"What, Chad? I'm in public!"

"Hey, hey, relax! I just wanted to say hi!" Chad croons. "How's your day going? Are the kids nice? Did you make any friends? I miss you. I have separation anxiety."

Regardless of the questions, Jared lets out a faint smile. "I miss you too. Everything's fine. The day is going by slowly. The other students are...trying."

"What about friends?"

He thinks about Jensen...and his dumb stupid annoying handsome face.

"I'm working on it."

"Tell me all about it--"

"Hey, Jared!"

Chad is soon cut off by the arrival of none other than Jensen Ackles. He carries with him his own tray of food and his backpack over his shoulders. Jared jumps, slightly startled by the sudden intrusion. Without much warning, he bids his best friend goodbye.

"Talk to you when I get home, bye."

"Ja--"

Jared ends the call, stuffing his phone back into his pocket. Jensen chuckles, flashing rows of shiny white teeth again. "Hey again."

"Hi. Again. Wherever I am, you always seem not too far behind."

"I wanna say that it's probably fate. Mind if I sit with you?"

"Sure," Jared responds. "Why not. It's expected at this point."

"Cool!"

"But wouldn't you rather sit with your friends?" The Warlock queries, nodding over towards the table full of bitter and puzzled jocks.

Jensen follows his gaze, laughing. "Nah, they're cool. They're actually pretty impressed by what you did today, even if they don't look like it. So, spill. You totally lied in PE."

"I beg your pardon?"

"About basketball." Jensen elaborates, cheesing hard. "There's no way that was your first time playing. Just no way. Not with those moves. Where'd you learn how to do all that?"

Jared smiles finally, shrugging his shoulders. He lies. "Guilty. I learned it all at my old school. Just came naturally."

"I knew it! Dude, you should sign up for the team. We could use someone like you."

A teeny tiny tingly sensation wells up in the pit of Jared's stomach, spreading out until his entire body feels fuzzy and warm. It's honestly been a long time since he's felt this; pride. It feels nice. The corner of Jared's mouth twitches, forcing him to bite softly on the inside of his cheek. The whole time, Jensen's gaze burns a hole through his skin, penetrating his soul.

Those eyes...one could definitely get lost in them.

Not Jared, though.

Not if he stays focused.

He sniffs in amusement. "No, that was a one time deal. My basketball days are over. Besides, they don't really need me when they have a guy like you."

The words leave his lips before he can catch them. He just indirectly complimented the guy's amazing basketball skills. While it's not a lie, it's something Jared would have rather not said aloud, yet here we are. A slip of the tongue. His cheeks flush red while Jensen laughs, astonished.

"Oh my God, did you--did you just compliment me? Wow, I can't believe it. Jared Padalecki actually complemented me. I'm honored."

"Don't let it get to your head." Jared retorts quickly. He relaxes, eventually joining Jensen in eating his lunch. "You know...not too long ago, I told myself that it wouldn't be so bad to make at least one new friend."

Jensen, mouthful of french fries, gestures to himself. "Hmm? Well?"

"It doesn't necessarily mean you."

"Aww." Jensen moans with a pathetic pout. His cheeks poke out hilariously. "Rude."

Jared laughs out loud at that.

Just a minor slip.

****

It's agony. Every passing second is agony for her.

Lori types away furiously at her computer. Focusing on her work was, indeed, much better for her psyche. Was. It's getting worse now; it has become difficult for her to keep her eyes open now. Caffeine is hardly working, and the pills aren't doing what they're supposed to be fucking doing!

And then it happens again. In plain sight. Daylight. The man is in front of her desk, hood covering his face. She knows who it is, but he remains hidden from her. Years ago, hands on flesh, whispers of undying love, proclamations of "never again, I'm sorry, I promise", but it did happen again. He hit her, blood dripping down onto the carpet, staining the center. "No more, no more" she cried, but there was always more. Until she got away.

Now he's back, but it's not him. Not really.

Lori shouts, and it stops. She's back in the real world, surrounded by worried co-workers and subordinates. She pushes by them to head into the bathroom. The young woman splashes water on her face, staring at her reflection in the mirror. She looks so much worse than this morning. More pale, more sickly. Dark circles around the eyes, weak. The lights flicker, and the man appears in the mirror this time, behind her.

But when she turns around, he's gone, and the lights return to normal. Lori shakes, sensing something dangerous, something unnatural. Something wicked. It has latched onto her, twisting her thoughts, corrupting her mind.

Feeding.

Something bad is going to happen.

****

School's out finally. It's been an interesting day, to say the least. Jared stepped out of his comfort zone for a time to teach some idiots a lesson. It felt good, but it's not going to become a habit. He has goals that need to be met; there's no time for distractions. Head down, do the work, complete the year. That's all there is to it. The other kids don't interest him.

Much.

Yeah.

The teenager sighs deeply in front of the building, the same spot where Jeff dropped him off. Jared checks his watch; 20 minutes have passed since the initial dismissal. Either he forgot again or he's backed up at work with the Council, that crotchety group of old high Witches and Warlocks.

Whenever Jared thinks of them he gets irritated and a little nauseous. He has no idea why, yet it happens. For all one knows, it could have something to do with how they ran his father ragged day in and day out as a Peacekeeper. Yeah, maybe that's why. Fucking pricks.

Jared eyes his watch once more, noting that another five minutes have passed idly by. And right on time, he receives a phone call, this time from Jeff. He answers, annoyed.

"Way to go, Jeff. I'm standing out here like an idiot."

"Sorry," The man on the other line apologizes, regret in his voice. "But to be completely fair, I told you that I might be able to pick you up. I never said it was certain."

Jared's jaw clenches. "Where are you?"

"Working. Looks like I'll be home late too."

"Alright, so what am I supposed to do?"

"I don't know...walk? Take a bus?"

"You're a shitty guardian who forgets everything."

He doesn't mean it, he's just pissy.

Thankfully, Jeff doesn't take offense. "Sorry, Kid. I really am. Just know that I'm trying here, okay? Doing this parenting thing with you hasn't been easy, you know that. I can't...I'm not trying replace...I just...I really am trying, Jared..."

"I know," sighs Jared. It's a conversation for another time, but not today. "I know...I'll walk. It won't kill me. Have a good day a work. I'll see you at home."

"Yeah. Be safe. Talk soon. Bye."

With the call ended, Jared's arms fall to his sides. He throws his head back, groaning incessantly into the afternoon sky. What a perfect way to end the day, don't ya think? He straightens his neck, looking around him. Everyone's leaving by bus or by car; those who live nearby are walking. Unfortunately, Jared lives some ways across town, forcing him to calculate the journey by foot. Thirty minutes.

Thirty fucking minutes. Ugh. Yeah. That's fine. Just perfect. Without anymore delays, Jared begins his lonh trek back to his home. Having his own car would have helped immensely, but he abhors driving, so the situation is at a standstill.

While he walks, Jared flashes back to the days when his father would meet him halfway home with an ice cream cone in both hands. They'd walk and talk, debating which spells could bring down what and the best strategy for a Vampire attack, should they exist.

Even when he turned 15, the "ice cream walk and talks" didn't die down. It was expected every day. If his father were alive right now, Jared's certain that they would still have these little moments. Gerald Padalecki was a great man, brilliant and resourceful. He loved Jared's mom so much; they were happy. It's a shame that that *monster* stole them away from him so suddenly.

Carver.

Bastard. Rage bubbles up deeply inside of Jared, forcing him to relive the gory scene he walked in on 2 years ago. The images flash in his head; the blood, the terror, the fear in their empty, lifeless eyes. Jared balls up his fists, chest heaving as his anger causes a fire hydrant to explode near him. It snaps the young Warlock out of it, but he's soon drenched head to toe in water.

Fucking great!

"Fucking great!" Jared growls out loud, moving out of the way. He takes off his jacket, dropping his bag to the ground. He shouts to the sky as cars pass him by. "I suddenly hate this day! What next, huh!?"

And then, suddenly, Jared hears the singular honk of a car horn. He looks down, and lo and behold, there's Jensen Freaking Ackles pulling up beside him in a black car. Sleek; looks vintage, well maintained. Very nice. Jensen rolls down the passenger window with a very concerned look on his face.

"Holy shit, are you okay?"

"No!" Jared answers, laughing to cover the anger and embarrassment. "No, as a matter of fact, I am not okay. Everything sucks right now! I'm exhausted, I'm pissed off, and now I'm soaking wet yelling at a stalker boy I barely even know in public! I just wanna go home."

Letting it all out like that actually feels...good. Jared breathes normally, not quite staring at Jensen, but staring in his direction. There's silence between them, only the sound of other cars rushing by. The worried expression is still present on the other boy's face, and it makes Jared feel strange.

But before he can think to walk away, Jensen kills the engine, stepping out of his car. He shuffles quickly to open the trunk; he pulls out a towel. After closing it, he walks towards Jared. Without permission, he places the towel on his head, drying off his hair. Jared, too stunned to think or say anything, allows it to happen. He must be out of his damn mind; he probably meaning the both of them.

Jensen, for doing so.

Jared, for letting it go on.

The entire time Jensen dries his wet hair, he smiles, not saying a word. Jared can only think to look down to avoid his gaze. It's embarrassing to be coddled like this. He's perfectly capable of drying himself, thank you very much, but this...this is kinda nice. Finally, Jensen stops, leaving the towel around Jared's neck.

"There you go. Better?"

"A little..." Jared mumbles. "Still soaked. Thanks..."

"No problem." Jensen looks to his car, then back at him again. "Need a ride?"

"N--No, I'm good. You've done more than enough."

"Think nothing of it. It's no problem at all."

"No, seriously. I'm fine. I don't want to be indebted to you."

Jensen snorts. "Indebted--I'm not looking to gain anything from you, Jared. I just wanted to help, because you need it. Clearly. Trying to be a good person here. Will you let me do that?"

There's another long pause between them. Jared would rather not walk home in wet clothes in broad daylight. That would be a new low. Whether he likes it or not (and he absolutely does not), Jensen is his only salvation. Jared lets out an exaggerated sigh, rolling his eyes.

"Fine," he shrugs, dropping the act for a moment. "I need a ride. I really hated admitting that. Whatever. Would you be so kind as to help me out, kind sir?"

Jensen grins. "Don't mind if I do." He waltzes over to the passenger door, holding it open for the soaked Warlock. "Your chariot awaits."

Instead of getting into the passenger seat, Jared makes a beeline for the backseat, leaving Jensen to laugh quietly.

"It's hardly a chariot."

"Oh! You wound me."

Jensen shuts the passenger door before swiftly rushing around the car to climb back into the driver's seat. The young man turns the key in the ignition, making the beautiful car come to life. Jared gives Jensen the directions to his house, and they're off in no time.

Jared takes a glance around the interior. It's just as good as the outside! Wow, Jensen takes really good care of his car. Jared's impressed. He'll never outright admit that, of course, so it's perfectly fine. It's silent in here save for the pleasant, soothing roar of the car's engine. Jared rubs the damp towel over his body despite knowing it won't do much.

He feels guilty for soaking Jensen's car, but if Jensen had a problem with it he wouldn't have invited him inside in the first place.

"So..." Jensen starts, catching glimpses of him through the rear view mirror. "What's your story?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean did you just move here, or something?"

How could one truthfully tell a mortal that they were studying secrets of the arcane forces on and off for two years in a magical dimension separate from their own?

Simple. One doesn't.

"Or something."

"Where'd you live before?"

"Limbo."

"Eugh. Sounds boring."

Jared shakes his head. "It was."

"I bet. Do you like music, Jay?"

"Who doesn't like music? Oh, and Jared is just fine, thank you."

Jensen fiddles with the radio stations, tuning in and out of various talk shows. He presses the buttons, trying to find a nice song to listen to. Jared doesn't really care, however. Anything is good for him. But soon, Jensen settles on a station with a song that Jared is familiar with, and by the sounds of it, Jensen as well.

"Wow, this is old. Older than both of us combined! Come on, sing with me, Jay!"

Jared nods, but raises both eyebrows as Jensen readies himself to sing the chorus, off key, naturally.

"I love you baby, and if it's quite alright, I need you baby to warm the lonely nights! I love you baby! Trust in me when I saaaay! Oh, pretty baby, don't bring me down I pray! Oh, pretty baby, now that I've found you, stay! And let me love you, baby, let me looooove youuuuu!"

Jared laughs freely this time, finally breaking down the wall he put up specifically for this persistent guy. Jensen dances in his seat, swaying in his seat as the music plays. He looks behind him to Jared, signalling for him to carry on with the words. While he would normally object to such a thing, his spirits have been lifted.

Jared willingly joins in singing horribly to one of the songs his parents both enjoyed.

"You're just to good to be true, can't take my eyes off you. You'd be like HEAVEN TO TOUCH!"

"I wanna hold you soooo much! At long last love has arrived, and I thank God I'm alive."

"You're just too good to be true."

"Can't take my eyes off you."

They sing the song in its entirety. Yet through the ride, neither one was really dedicated on stopping; they listened to song after song, though Jared stopped after the second one. It was a freeing experience, literally the most fun Jared has had in a very long time. But, as with all good things, it had to come to an end.

Eventually, Jensen pulls up to Jared's house, turning off the radio completely. Jared's attention is drawn towards the windows downstairs. The curtains are moving, and out of nowhere, Chad's tiny little head pop up, searching for the noise. Perfect. Jensen also takes notice, cocking his head to the side in astonishment.

"Is that the cat you talked about in class?"

"Yeah, that's Chad."

"Your cat's name is Chad? Weird."

"Short for Chadwick." Jared smiles, grabbing his bag and jacket. He hops out of the car. "Thanks for the ride."

Jensen jumps out as well, resting his arms on the roof. "Hey, uh, wait a second!"

Jared turns. "Yes?"

"I just, um...just wanna make something clear, okay? I'm not a 'stalker boy'. I'm not trying to be creepy on purpose. I mean, was I? I wasn't going for that. I was going for charming. I mean--ugh. Sorry. You're just very...interesting to me."

"I'm interesting to you? Really?"

"Yeah. Go on, call me dumb or whatever..."

That's a first. Jared doesn't have to look into Jensen's mind to know what his intentions are. They're pure. Somewhat. Butterflies flit about in Jared's stomach. It amuses him. A smug smile soon forms upon his lips.

"You're not dumb. You're waaaay too much at times, but I don't think you're dumb."

Jensen's bright smile returns. "Does this mean we're friends?"

Jared chuckles, taking his stuff with him as he walks to his front door. "Ask me again in a few days."

"That means I have a chance!"

"If you say so, Ackles. See you tomorrow."

"See you tomorrow...Jay."

Jared shivers at the nickname. In a kind of pleasant way? Weird. No one's ever called him that before, not even his own parents. It was always Jared. Just Jared. Until this big ray of sunshine barreled into his life. Jensen doesn't leave until Jared makes his way into the house, and when he drives away, he honks twice for goodbye.

Jared is greeted by Chad at the door who attempts to crawl up to him, only to back away when he notices that he's wet.

"Why are you soaked?"

Jared walks up the staircase. Chad is not too far behind him. "I had an accident with a fire hydrant."

"Naturally. Who was that guy?"

Jared plays coy.

"He's...someone."

"You know what, don't play dumb with me, Padalecki!"

"He's just someone you don't need to know about. Just some guy. Don't worry about it." The Warlock makes it to his room, but quickly files in before Chad can follow. He closes it, turning the lock. "I'm going to change, and I need privacy."

Behind the door, he can hear Chad's paws tapping at the wood. "Oh, dammit! Jared! Jared, let me in! Curse these tiny paws. I hate this."

"Shoo! Let me be naked in peace."

"I've already seen all there is to offer!" He ignores him for long moments, hoping the feline will eventually tire. It works. "Okay, fine! I'm going downstairs. Tell me about your day whenever you're not nude."

In time, Chad tires of waiting, and saunters back down the stairs alone. Jared sighs, leaning against his bedroom door. Slowly, he slides down until he's sitting on the carpeted floor. He shifts slightly, pants and underwear still utterly drenched. Despite this, he can't help but to think about that Ackles boy, about how determined he is. A handsome guy with tons of friends it seems like, and he finds Jared interesting enough to bother?

Maybe he will grow tired.

For some reason, Jared dreads the thought. If Jensen has proven anything today, it's that he doesn't go down without a fight. He's stubborn; he likes a challenge.

Jared chuckles, gently biting his lip.

"Fine then."

****

It's night. Lori hates the night now. It means darkness, and darkness is bad.

She exits her building, pulling her jacket tighter around her. With her purse tucked securely under her arm, Lori walks briskly towards her car.

She doesn't make it too far.

The air is cold like ice; she can see her breath. The chill spreads down her spine, letting her know that danger is coming, and it won't stop until it has claimed her. Instead of running to her car as originally planned, Lori rushes back inside of the building when she spots the hooded man moving towards her, slowly at first.

The lights inside flicker as Lori runs, screaming for help in the empty building. No one hears her. She can't stop what's coming. It catches up to Lori, appearing before her in a flash. The man grabs her by the throat with both hands, lifting her up against the wall. She claws, kicks, scrapes, but he is too strong.

No. Not. He.

It.

It is too strong.

Vision fading, blurry, voices in her head, her mother's. "I love you, I wish you would visit more".

Sad thoughts, memories. All fading away. Fears come into the forefront now. Darkness, blood thinning, turning cold, lips blue and cracked, eyes lifeless. She's being drained, or was. Not anymore. It has what it wants from her. Her fear, her nightmares. It takes, consuming, feeding on the deliciousness that only her kind can secrete.

Before her final moments, Lori reaches down to pull back the hood. It has a true face after all. It's indescribable horror, one's worst fears magnified by one hundred percent. A grotesque, monstrous form with piercing red eyes and razor sharp teeth inside of it's hellish maw.

And then it's over. With a snap, Lori's dead, motionless body flopping down onto the ground to be discovered at a later date.

The creature vanishes from sight, seeking another victim to poison.