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Taking Turns (Holding This World)

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Banner by [info]sweet_lyri

“I’m not sure about this,” Jared said nervously and peeked around the corner to give the 7/11 another quick glance. The cops were still in there, undoubtedly buying donuts for the whole goddamn squad. Just thinking about donuts made Jared’s stomach rumble.

“Listen to your fucking gut, dude. What’s it fucking telling you? That it’s hungry, that’s what,” Chad snarled, the break in his voice somewhat destroying the tough bravado he was trying to put on. “I’m not gonna listen to that fucking noise all night. Now we’re getting us some fucking food so shut the fuck up and do as I fucking say.”

Jared sighed. The whole badass phase Chad was going through was starting to get really annoying. The baggy clothes and the ugly bling-bling not so much helped with the image as it made him look like an Eminem wannabe. Add to that the goatee he was trying to grow, which reminded Jared of a badly plucked chicken, and the outcome was more sad than cool really.

Not that Jared would ever tell him that. Chad, for all his cocky attitude, was incredibly sensitive when it came to his looks or possessions or anything really. Jared thought that was a weird weakness to have for someone pretty much raised on the streets, considering all the shit they got thrown their way just for being them. People didn’t really have much tolerance for dirty street kids unless they lived in Guatemala or some other remote part of the world that fit nicely in soothing their pre-Christmas charity guilt.

Jared peeked around the corner again and then drew back sharply as the squad car drove by. Chad grabbed his arm, holding him back until the cops had rounded the next corner, and then he shoved Jared forward, towards the store.

“C’mon,” he hissed. “Before someone else shows up.”

They ran across the street, slowing down just before they reached the sliding doors. The clerk gave them an ugly glare when they entered but Chad waved a dollar bill his way and grinned innocently. “Chill, man. Just gonna get a soda.”

The man grunted and got back to watching the game on the small TV behind the counter. Chad made a big show of trying to decide which soda he wanted while Jared strolled innocently around the shop until he got to the canned aisle. The idea had been to steal something they’d be able to heat on their small heating plate but just as Jared was slipping a can of mushroom soup into his pocket a shrill voice yelled, “Thief!” so loud it nearly gave Jared a heart attack. He looked up to find an old lady glaring at him, a heavy cane held firmly in her hand. Oh crap.

“No! Nonono, I’m not- “ he tried as the woman closed in on him but she just raised her cane and started hitting him over the head with it.

“Thief! Bastard! Good for nothing kids!”

Jesus Christ! He tried to shield his head from the blows and got a hard whack on his arm, bringing tears to his eyes. “Ow, ow! Stop it!”

“Rajesh, he’s stealing! The boy is stealing!”

Jared panicked. The can was already in his pocket but some stupid part of his brain decided that if he was going to get arrested for stealing he might as well make it worth it, so in a haste he pocketed a couple of more cans without really checking what they were. Then he turned on his heel and ran. He narrowly slipped by the clerk as he came running down the aisle, and escaped out into the street, loud yells and screams following on his heels.

Terrified he looked around for Chad but couldn’t see him anywhere. He was honestly thinking of turning back to rescue his friend when he came barging out of the store, grabbing Jared by the arm and pulling him along across the street. Together they ran as fast as they could, the shouts of the clerk following them for what seemed like miles.

Just as they thought they were in the clear, eyeing the brightness of the finer streets of LA on the other side of a long dark alley, a police car came to a screeching halt right in front of them and suddenly there were two cops jumping out of the car and closing in on them. Jared and Chad abruptly turned and ran the other way, slipping through the crowds of Hollywood Boulevard and the late night traffic far more easily than the cops’ bulky and rather round figures could manage.

They seemed to run forever, bumping into people, - Jared repeatedly apologizing, Chad yelling at them to get the fuck out of his way – slip sliding against cars and skidding around corners. At one time they even jumped to hang on to a truck, letting it carry them for a few blocks before jumping off as it slowed down at a corner. Just as Jared thought his lungs would burst Chad pulled him through a gateway and stopped. They stood heaving for breath, listening intently for anyone shouting for them, but everything was quiet.

“Jesus fucking Christ!” Chad finally gasped in relief. “That was too fucking close.”

“No kidding.” Jared shook his head, feeling dizzy and jelly–muscled as he tried to will his heart to slow down. “That old lady screamed like a banshee!”

They looked at each other and then burst out laughing.

“You sho-ould ha-ave seen yo-our face!” Chad hiccupped. “Ow, ow, stop it!” he imitated in a shrill voice. “Help, help! Grandma is kicking my ass!”

“Shut up!” Jared said and punched his arm, even if he couldn’t help laughing as well. “That lady was mean! And her cane was made of goddamn lead or something.”

“Whatever,” Chad laughed. “Face it, dude, you got your ass kicked by an eighty year old woman. Pussy.”

Jared punched him again for good measure and then risked a glance out of the doorway. He frowned. “Uhm, Chad? Where the hell are we?”

“What?” Chad asked as he came up behind him and then whistled. “Holy shit, talk about running into the frying pan.”

Jared was pretty sure that wasn’t how the saying went but he was too busy staring to correct Chad. They must have run a lot faster and further than he’d thought because the neighborhood was hardly the one they were used to. For one thing, no one around their place had high fences around their houses with gates that seemed strong enough to hold back the invasion of Genghis Khan.

“Are we in the Hills?” he asked nervously. People in the Hills had security guards and watchdogs and even though most people in their street owned guns, he was pretty sure here they’d feel justified shooting guys like him and Chad, just for being there. “Chad, we gotta get out of here.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know,” Chad answered hazily, clearly not listening. “Dude, how much do you think we could get out of just one of these houses? Big-ass flat-screen TVs, laptops, whatever the fuck we want.”

Jared stared at him. “Are you high? Chad, we’ll be shot before we even cross the lawn!”

“Bet they have money just lying around,” Chad continued, ignoring him. “Piles of money, just lying there. Waiting for us.”

“Ok, that’s it. You’re losing it. C’mon.” Jared tried to pull Chad back from where he’d wandered into the street, too awestruck to realize what a stupid target he was making himself. “Dude, drop it.”

“I’m just…” Chad mumbled dazed but before he got any further there was a squeal of tires and when Jared turned around he saw a pink Porsche, heading straight at them.

“Look out!”

He only just managed to push Chad away and throw himself to the side before the convertible rushed past him. The car came to a screeching halt and then he heard the driver’s door open and slam shut, followed by the sound of clicking heels. He rolled over onto his back, groaning in pain as he landed on his bruised shoulder. Then he looked up to find a blond woman, as beautiful as she was pissed off, glaring down at him.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” she hissed and then hastily looked over the front of the car, obviously checking it for damage.

“Trying not to get killed,” he grumbled as he slowly got to his feet. “I’m okay, by the way. Thanks for asking.”

“Whatever.” She waved her hand dismissively. “I swear if you scratched my car I’ll have you thrown in jail.” She shook her head angrily, nose scrunched up in disgust as she threw a glare at him. “Fucking trailer trash, what are you doing here anyway?”

“Excuse me?” He couldn’t believe her. She’d nearly killed them and here she was threatening to have him arrested for touching her car with his almost dead body. But before he could think of an appropriate answer a pissed of voice beat him to it.

“Just because you drive a fucking Porsche doesn’t make you any less trashy, you psycho bitch.” Jared looked back to see Chad slowly getting to his feet. “Must pay to be a whore in these parts.”

“You little…” She looked ready to spit in his face but then her mouth settled into the ugliest sneer Jared had ever seen. “More than you get, obviously. Your mama rent you out, pretty boy? Well, go tell her to keep her filthy whore kids where they belong or I’ll make sure the next time she sees you it’s through prison bars. And we all know how well boys like you fair in prison.”

Jared was still staring at her in shock when she got in her car and drove away with the tires squealing, up the driveway to the house him and Chad had been gazing at. It only took a minute and then the gate was opening, letting her in. She didn’t even spare them a glance in the rearview mirror, just drove on, letting the gates close shut behind her with a loud clang.

“What a bitch!” Chad shook his fist after her then on second thought raised the middle finger and jabbed it her way.

“You alright?” Jared asked him concerned.

“’M fine,” Chad muttered. “Nice flowerbed you threw me into. You’re the one who should be worried. Dude, your jacket’s all torn.”

Jared pulled off his jacket, looking at it in horror. Chad was right, the whole right sleeve and shoulder were in tatters. What the hell was he supposed to do now?

Chad seemed to read his thoughts because he tilted his head thoughtfully and said, “Think Goodwill’s got security cameras?”

Jared groaned.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

“And then Amber said, ‘It’s not like you ever use it.’ I mean, the nerve! Like that’s the point. So I said…”

Jensen nodded at what he hoped were the appropriate moments. Joanna had been talking non-stop since she’d stormed in, muttering something about her car, he didn’t really get what. From there she’d moved on to her mother and whatever plastic surgery she was about to have and if maybe she should herself have her boobs done. Somehow that lead to a rant about a dress her friend Amber had assumingly stolen from her closet when she wasn’t looking. That’s where she was at the moment, or so Jensen thought. He wasn’t really listening.

His mind was still at the breakfast from this morning. Mealtimes at the Ackles’ residence weren’t exactly pleasurable events. His mother was usually on the phone, talking to her lady friends throughout the whole meal, probably so she could ignore whatever business thing his father wanted to talk about. Across from Jensen his teenage sister Mac usually sat picking at her salad, searching for calories among the lettuce and tomatoes. Jensen’s older brother Josh was always busy making notes in his Blackberry, only offering absentminded grunts of protest or approval at whatever their father had to say. Which left Jensen the main target of their father’s rants.

Thankfully, through the years, he’d become quite the expert at faking interest in matters that meant nothing to him. Whether it was his father raging about stock markets or Joanna sharing the latest Hollywood gossip, he somehow managed to make it look like he was completely immersed in what they were saying while really not hearing a single word.

Which was why he hadn’t realized what his dad was talking about until he’d suddenly caught the word ‘wedding’.

“I’m sorry, what?” he’d said, blinking confused.

“Sometime in the spring would be best. We’re planning the merger with Bowles Enterprises in June and your mother has her spa vacation in July. So it’s either before that or not until August, which I think is too late in the year. Spring weddings always make people spend more money.”

Jensen had frowned, a horrible feeling growing in his stomach. “Who’s getting married?” he’d asked hesitantly.

His father’s lips had thinned in disapproval. “Pay attention, Jensen. You and Joanna. Your mother and I think it’s about time. So if you…”

“Wha… huh?” Jensen stuttered. “You and mom think…?What?”

He’d looked over at his mother who’d thrown him a small smile, then continued to talk excitedly on the phone. To his horror he’d realized that she was talking wedding plans. With what sounded like his soon to be mother-in-law. Oh hell no!

“Dad, no!” he’d blurted out. “I’m not getting married! We’re not even engaged!”

His dad had waved that off. “You can make the announcement at your sister’s sixteenth birthday party,” he’d said dismissively. “Saves us having to gather everyone again. You know how badly I tolerate your mother’s side of the family.”

The room had exploded.

“Daddy! It’s supposed to be MY day, not Jensen’s and his stupid girlfriend’s. You’ll ruin my party!”

“Alan, I will not have you talking about my family like that, especially not in front of the children!”

“Dad, I won’t be here that day. I’m going to Madrid, remember?”

Jensen had looked from one member of his family to another, wondering what he had done wrong in a former life to deserve being thrown in with this bunch of egotistic lunatics.

“Will you all just…” he flailed. “I’m not going to ask Joanna to marry me!”

His dad had hardly spared him a glance. “Don’t be stupid, Jensen. She’s perfect for you. Her father’s company is almost as big as ours and your mother plays bridge with her mother every month. They’re suitable in-laws. Plus we already know them which, considering your record of hooking up with all kinds of trash, is better than we could ever hope for.”

Jensen had stared at him. Then he’d pushed away from the dining room table and stood up, not caring that his chair toppled over and hit the marble floor with a loud bang. Without a word he’d turned on his heel and stalked out, so angry he was sure there’d been smoke coming out of his ears. Where the hell did his dad think he got the right to arrange his whole life for him like that? This wasn’t the middle ages or… Arabia for Christ’s sake! Parents didn’t arrange marriages for their children, not in the 21st century! Jesus fucking Christ!

He’d stomped to his suite, slamming the door behind him, then had spent the next two hours killing every fucking Nazi he could find in Battlefield, not really caring that he took out a few civilians as well. It hadn’t really made him feel better but the urge to smash his dad’s face in with his fist had lessened slightly. By the time Joanna’s Porsche came roaring up the driveway his jaw had nearly unclenched and he even managed to give her a small smile. Whoever said virtual violence was good for nothing?

The thought of spending the rest of his life with any one person was frightening. The thought of spending it with Joanna… He might quite possibly throw up. And then kill himself.

He was pulled out of his nightmarish thoughts by the realization that Joanna had stopped talking. When he forced his eyes to focus he found her sitting on the couch opposite him in her perfectly tailored pink suit, ankles crossed and knees tilting slightly to the right, with her hands resting in her lap and a small smile playing upon her lips. She looked like she was waiting for him to say something and for the second time that day he had to owe up to the fact that he hadn’t been listening.

“Sorry, baby,” he forced out as amicably as he could manage. “What did you say?”

“Oh Jensen, it’s alright to be nervous. In fact I find it kinda sweet.” She smiled and leaned closer, lowering her voice conspiringly. “If it helps any, I’m going to say yes.”

At his shocked look she giggled and winked at him. “Mother might have mentioned something.”

Oh God. Oh fucking fuck.

“Joanna…” he began weakly.

“Yes, Jensen,” Joanna said, batting her eyes.

“We need to talk.”

 

“Her father is livid!”

Jensen sighed. “Yes, dad.”

“He is threatening me with a lawsuit,” Alan Ackles continued, pacing the floor of his office. “Emotional trauma or some shit like that. Do you understand what this means?”

“Yes, dad.”

“Your mother is in tears! It’s bridge night tonight and of course now she can’t go.” He stopped and turned around, fixing a glare at Jensen who involuntarily shrunk back. “What is wrong with you? We’d already talked about this! And then you turn around and break our agreement?”

“I never agreed to anything…” Jensen tried but it was no use.

“Never mind. There’s still time to fix this. You go and buy some ridiculously big diamond ring and grovel until she takes you back. Hell, throw in another pink Porsche if that’s what it takes.”

Ok, this had gone one long enough. “Dad, stop it,” Jensen said firmly. “I’m not going to marry her. I never wanted to marry her. Hell, I never even wanted to date her. I only did it because you and mom practically threw her in my lap.” When his father opened his mouth to argue Jensen quickly added, “She’s a shallow nagging whiny bitch and we have absolutely nothing in common. I’d rather marry Lindsey Lohan.”

Alan frowned. “I would say she’s a bit young for you but if…”

Jensen rolled his eyes. “Dad, I’m not marrying Lindsey Lohan! I’m not marrying anyone. I’m fine the way I am. Talk to Josh, I’m sure he doesn’t mind getting married.”

His father gave him an annoyed glare. “Your brother is too busy to meet girls, let alone be married. You on the other hand are not. You don’t work for the company; you don’t do anything except play your damn guitar and write. Write! That’s not what I expected to get out of your very expensive education, Jensen. It’s time to pay this family back what has been invested in you.”

Jensen blinked. “Pay you back? Dad, I didn’t ask you to spend that money on me. You were the one who insisted I’d get a business degree even if I said I wanted to go to Juilliard. Which I probably would have gotten a scholarship for because no matter what you think, some people actually believe I have talent.”

“Scholarship?” his father sneered. “What are we, some riff raff? And Juilliard is for pansy ass pretty boys who don’t have the brains to get a real education and a real job. Something that I know you have enough of, however these recent events make it look.”

“I don’t have to listen to this.” Jensen turned on his heel and headed for the door. “I’m not getting married and that’s final.”

“As long as you are living under my roof…” Alan yelled after him.

“Guess I’m moving out then!” Jensen shouted back and felt a thrill of excitement run through him at the words. What if he really did move out? Became his own man with his own place where he could make his own friends. Really, he was twenty-two; it was about time he got out from under his father’s thumb.

The more he thought about it the better it sounded. By the time he reached his suite he was already planning what to pack and where he could possibly go. He suddenly regretted not having kept in touch with any of his old college buddies. That’s what he needed, contacts. And a job, he guessed. Shouldn’t be too hard. He had a degree, the right name, he certainly had the looks and he’d never met anyone who could say no to him once he really put his charm to work. Not that he was overenthusiastic about a business career but until he figured out what he really wanted to do with his life making a little money, his own money, wouldn’t hurt. This would be easy.

He packed a bag with some casual clothes and a couple of suits, plus whatever else he thought he might need until he got his own place and could send for the rest. Bagged his laptop and packed up his guitar and then he was ready to go.

He didn’t exactly sneak out, it just so happened that he didn’t run into anyone on the way, that was all. He took the black BMW because it had a bigger trunk than the Astin Martin, not because there was a lesser chance of anyone missing it among the flashier cars. And the only reason he drove so slowly and quietly down to the gate was because his mother always took a nap at this time of day and it would be rude to wake her. Really.

As the gate closed behind him he experienced an odd sense of freedom, the kind he hadn’t felt since college. Despite the blindingly boring study material, school had actually been awesome. He’d had an apartment of his own, he’d been able to throw parties whenever he liked, he’d smoked pot and gotten drunk and passed out so often he’d lost count. He’d spent most of his time playing his guitar and writing music and poems and people actually thought it was cool and not a waste of precious moneymaking time as his dad kept telling him. It was without a doubt the best time of his life. And now he was reclaiming it.

Sure he wouldn’t be able to do as much drinking and smoking, not if he was going to get a job, and partying alone was kinda pathetic. But that would just give him more time to play his guitar and write more music and he was bound to make new friends soon. He was a very friendly guy. It was impossible not to like him.

Ok, so no one in his family seemed to like him that much. And even if Joanna might have liked him a little bit, she probably liked his money more. Plus she kinda hated his guts now. And none of his college friends had contacted him even once since they’d graduated, not even Steve and Chris despite all the fun they’d had.

Jensen could feel his good mood deflating a bit. But then he remembered that he hadn’t really liked most of his college buddies that much either when they were sober and considering his plans of not being drunk and stoned all the time maybe he was better of without them.

He was feeling giddy and nervous and suddenly realized he hadn’t had any coffee in like three hours. No wonder he was so high strung. Coffee was his life elixir. Without it he became this twitching irritated moody bitch, according to Joanna anyway. So next on the list, before finding an apartment or a job: getting some coffee.

He kept an eye out for Starbucks but in his musings he’d somehow managed to end up in a part of town that he was completely unfamiliar with. Not exactly the finer part of LA. Still, there had to be a coffeehouse somewhere. He could feel the tension in his shoulders subsiding as he spotted a “coffee-to-go” sign in the window of a little diner that looked like it was more used to selling burritos and sloppy Joes. Well, coffee was coffee. How bad could it be?

He parked the car at the sidewalk, snagged some change from the parking meter cup and stepped out. He then confidently entered the shop, trying to look like he belonged there. Well, he did now, right? A working man. Or he would be soon.

There were some dodgy looking teenagers inside the rather dark establishment and Jensen gave them a small smile, figuring it wouldn’t hurt to be nice to the locals. After all he had no idea where he’d end up staying. Although to be honest this was way below his standards. By anyone’s standard really.

The fat and rather greasy looking man behind the counter grunted when Jensen placed his order, grabbing a Styrofoam cup from a rather dusty shelf and Jensen just barely kept from wincing when the man poured something black and thick into the cup before slamming a lid on top. It smelled burnt and toxic but underneath was a distinct scent of caffeine and really, that was all he needed right now.

He was just braving his first sip (lukewarm, bitter and anything but fresh, but still coffee) when his car alarm suddenly went off outside, making him jump and splash the brown liquid down the front of his t-shirt. With a curse he put the cup back on the counter and ran to the door, ignoring the heat burning his chest. The group of teens blocked his way and after asking them repeatedly to move he finally pushed his way through. He ran out into the street, just in time to see his car disappear behind a corner, tires squealing and music blaring high.

For a moment he just stood there, drenched in coffee, and stared in the direction the car had gone, completely shocked. The sound of someone sniggering behind him kicked him out of it and cursing he dug into his pocket for his phone. It wasn’t there. Jensen closed his eyes in frustration. The phone had been in the pocket of his leather jacket. The leather jacket he’d left in the car. Along with his wallet and laptop and his goddamn fucking guitar! Fuck!

Ignoring the laughs and jibes from the damn kids he pushed his way back into the diner. “I need to use your phone.”

The man raised his eyebrows then shrugged and put an ancient looking black telephone up on the counter. “It ain’t free,” he said when Jensen reached out for it.

“Of course not,” Jensen grumbled. He still had some quarters in his pocket and dug them out. “How much?”

“Fifty dollars.”

Jensen’s eyes snapped up and he stared at the man who stared back, face blank. “You’re joking, right? Fifty bucks for a phone call?”

The man just shrugged, running his tongue over his yellow teeth.

Jensen breathed in through his mouth and out through his nose, counting slowly to five before continuing, “I’m calling 911 to report a theft. My vehicle got stolen outside your establishment. The least you can do is allow me to use your phone to call the cops. Sir.”

“Don’t want no cops in my ‘establishment’. Ain’t my problem you left your keys in your ‘vehicle’. Sir.”

Jensen wanted to hit him. “I didn’t leave the keys in my car, it was obviously hotwired,” he said through gritted teeth. “And I don’t have fifty dollars on me. My wallet is in my damn car. But if you let me call home I can have someone come down here with your goddamn fifty dollars!”

The man seemed to consider it for a moment but then he shook his head. “Nah, I don’t like you.” He took the phone and replaced it behind the counter then pointed to the door. “You should get going now, pretty boy. Unless you want to pay for it some other way.” He hitched up his pants under his huge belly and grinned obscenely.

The teenagers exploded laughing as Jensen’s face went deep red. He turned around and stalked out, only hesitating slightly before going left, down the street, the way he came. Goddamn fucking assholes. He should have said something back, something damn witty and insulting. Well, he would have if he hadn’t been worried he might end up with a meaty fist in his face. And some of those kids looked pretty shady too. Gang like. They probably had guns or knives. Or both.

He quickened his step, just in case.

It didn’t take him long to figure out that the direction he’d taken was clearly the wrong one. If anything he seemed to be getting even deeper into this goddamn ghetto of a neighborhood. Seriously, did people actually live here? There were trashcans and old couches that smelled like piss out on the sidewalk. He saw a couple of kids that really should have been in school but might possibly have been thrown out for smelling too bad. And not that he was a prude or anything but what some of the girls were wearing was downright obscene.

He kept his head low, hands in fists by his side and shoulders tense, ready to latch out if anyone even looked at him funny. Which, alright, they all did because he really did stand out like a sore thumb. Or more like the only clean thumb in a sea of very dirty fingers. But apart from the stares and a few sniggers (and a few catcalls that rather confused him) he was pretty much left alone. He thought of asking if someone could lend him a cell phone but he wasn’t sure these people had actually discovered the 21st century yet. Or the two before that.

He was brought out of his thoughts by a loud shriek and turned his head abruptly. The noise came from a dark alley across the street and as he frowned, trying to make out what was going on in the shadows, a young girl was suddenly shoved out into the light, falling against the dirty wall. She was clutching her hand, obviously hurt, and her face was in a grimace. “Get away from me!” she yelled but as she stumbled out unto the pavement someone caught her from behind and pulled her back in. She shrieked and kicked her feet, cursing and screaming and before Jensen had time to consider the insanity of his actions he was running across the street and towards her.

“Hey!” he yelled at whoever was back there as he ducked into the alley. “What the hell are you doing?”

He screeched to a halt when he suddenly came face to face with a large beefy man who looked like he’d spent the last twenty years kicking ass without ever bothering taking names. Tattooed arms, crooked nose and a mustache that would have made Danny Trejo proud. Oh shit.

“You talking to me?” the guy said all mob-like and under any other circumstances the cliché would have sounded extremely funny. Unfortunately Jensen’s nerves didn’t quite catch up with his brain and to his horror he could hear what sounded suspiciously like a giggle hiccup from his throat. He only just managed to keep his hand from coming up to clutch at his mouth and desperately tried to remind himself he was not a little girl, dammit, he was a grown man.

“You laughing at me, boy?” the man growled incredulous and Jensen instinctively took a step back. Which brought him up against the opposite wall of the alley. Huh. He hadn’t realized how goddamn narrow it was. How… trapped he was.

“Just let the girl go and we’ll call it even,” Jensen said as calmly as he could. “I don’t want any trouble.”

“Yeah?” The man looked at the girl and Jensen instinctively followed his gaze, keeping one eye on the guy in case of any sudden movements. Then blanked out for a moment because wow, breasts. Like, right there. He blinked, blushing when she threw him a glare.

“What ya looking at?” she hissed, cupping her breasts and practically shoving them in his face. “Something wrong with my boobs?”

“Uhm, no! They’re very… nice.” He swallowed. “Perky.”

“You staring at my girl’s titties?” the guy growled and suddenly there was a huge hand fisting Jensen’s t-shirt and shoving him up against the wall. “You pansy ass fag.”

Jensen spent one second wondering how him supposedly being gay fitted with staring at a woman’s breasts and then the next one trying not to black out from the wall repeatedly connecting with the back of his head. Hard. His glasses went askew and then fell off, leaving him half-blind and terrified.

“Hey!” he tried to say and “Stop!” but then the guy’s other fist made its way into his stomach and that was it, he was going to die. Right now in this dirty alley the last things he would see were boobs swinging and more tattoos than he’d ever wanted to know could fit on one person’s skin. Wow, his epitaph would be weird.

“Miguel, hey. Whatya doing beating on my cousin, man?”

The voice was loud, the tone all casual, but even through the haze of almost passing out Jensen could still hear the threat. Too bad the guy sounded way too young and in no way beefy enough to take on a beast like Miguel. Jensen’s brain couldn’t decide whether he should call out to the kid to please help or rather get the fuck out of there.

“Your cousin? Since when you got fags in the family, Jay?”

“Since my daddy screwed your mama and she had you. What the hell does it matter? Let him go, alright?”

“You fucking crazy?” a panicked voice hissed, followed by a quick, “I mean, yeah. Right. Gonna kick your fucking ass, man. No one messes with my boy’s family.”

There was silence for a very long horrifying moment and then the man burst out laughing. “You guys kill me. Take him then.” Jensen crumbled to the ground when he was abruptly let go. “And keep him away from my woman,” the man added before pulling the girl along with him, mumbling something that sounded like, “Put your damn shirt on, you whore.”

“Shit, man, you alright?”

A warm hand landed on his shoulder and Jensen lifted his head, blinking his eyes open. All he could see was a tall shadow, the low evening sun shining like a halo behind a shaggy head.

“Ungh?” he moaned and the guy sighed.

“C’mon,” he said, hauling Jensen to his feet. “Let’s get you out of here.”

“Thank you,” Jensen managed, grimacing as his stomach protested his attempt to straighten up. “Saved my life.”

“Well, your face anyway. Miguel has a thing for rearranging people’s faces.” The guy grabbed Jensen by the shoulder, steadying him, then put his now cracked and scratchy glasses back on his nose. “But hey, you still look pretty so I guess we got here just in time.”

“Dude,” another voice said, sounding annoyed. “You’ve done your good deed. If he wants to thank you just let him blow you. But hurry up, I’m hungry.”

“Chad, shut up!” The guy turned to Jensen as they stepped out of the alley, seeming embarrassed. “Sorry, man. No payment needed. But you should probably get out of here. This streets a little too rough for your class.”

Jensen was too busy staring to really take in the words, because now he was finally able to take a look at his rescuer through the severely damaged lenses of his glasses all he could think was wow. Wow and goddamn and holy crap how fucking tall was this guy? “Huh?” he said stupidly.

“No one here can afford you, man. Seriously, the girls here would sell their ass five times over for less than I‘m guessing you charge for a blowjob.”

Jensen stared at him, the cogs in his brain turning very, very slowly. “You… you calling me a… hooker?”

The guy rubbed his neck awkwardly. “Sorry. Escort. Right? That’s… that’s what they call it in your league.”

Jensen blinked. “I’m wearing Prada,” he said, slowly in case the guy was seriously brain damaged. “These are designer jeans. My watch alone is worth more than half this neighborhood.”

“Damn.” The guy whistled, duly impressed. “Wow. You must be really good at what you do.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” the other guy growled. “Stop flirting with the goddamn hooker! Come on!”

“That’s not… I’m not…” Jensen squeezed his eyes briefly shut in frustration before looking up, glaring at his rescuer. “I’m not a hooker for Christ’s sake! I’m a business major! I live in the Hills! Well, I used to but I just… That’s not important. What’s important is that I am not selling blowjobs! Or any kind of sexual favors. Why the hell would you think I’m a hooker?”

The guy blinked, obviously taken aback. “You look like one?” he said hesitantly. “I’m sorry but you do! You’ve got the hair and the tight jeans and the way too small t-shirt and I’m sorry but if you don’t want people to think you’re selling your ass you really should ease up on the make-up, especially in this neighborhood!”

“Make-up?” Jensen gaped. “I’m not wearing make-up! This is my face!” he hissed, angrily drawing a circle around it in the air. “This is what I look like.”

The guy leaned in, squinting dubious. “Really? Huh. Not even mascara?”

“No!” He took off his useless glasses and rubbed one hand over his apparently whorish face. “Look, it doesn’t matter. I just need to make a call. You’ve got a phone?”

The guy snorted. “Sorry, must have left it in my other pants along with my diamond watch and bar of gold.”

“Right.” Jensen sighed, putting the glasses back on since a scratched foggy view was better than none. “My car was stolen. I need to report it, alright?”

“Huh. You got any ID?”

Jensen frowned. “On me? No. I left my wallet in the damn car.”

“Yeah, you’re screwed.” The guy laughed and clapped him amicably on the shoulder. “Seriously, looking like that? They’ll haul your ass in jail for hooking. Believe me, I know the cops around here.”

“At least it should get me my damn phone call,” Jensen said annoyed.

The guy shrugged. “Probably. Tomorrow morning.”

“What!” Jensen stared at him. “I’m not spending the night in jail!”

“I wouldn’t recommend it, no.” The guy’s eyes slid down then back up to his face, dark and serious. “Not looking like that.”

“Oh God.” Jensen closed his eyes, trying to gather his thoughts. “What am I supposed to do then?”

“Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out. You hungry?”

Jensen slowly looked up. “What?”

“Hungry? We have soup.” The guy grinned and fished a can of soup out of the inner pocket of his ratty jacket. “I’m Jay by the way. JT.”

“Jensen,” Jensen said hesitantly. “Jensen Ackles.”

“Cool. And that’s Chad…” The guy, JT, turned around and stopped short at the sight of his friend stalking away. “Uhm, where is he going? Chad!”

Jensen didn’t really care. “Look, no offense but I’m not sure that even qualifies as food. You know they make that shit to last for like fifteen years?”

JT turned back to him with a frown. “So? Means it won’t go bad.”

“It means if you eat that stuff all the time, once you’re dead you’ll have so many conservatives in your body that fifty years later you’ll still look as good as now.”

It was meant to sound disdainful but apparently nothing bit on this JT guy because he just grinned and asked, “You think I look good?”

Jensen faltered. “I meant…” JT’s grin widened even further, deep dimples forming in his cheeks, and Jensen couldn’t help the smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “I guess. That outfit won’t win any prize on Project Runway though.”

The words were out before he had time to think and he froze in mortification. But JT only threw back his head and laughed, like it was the funniest thing in the world.

“We can’t all look like money, mister,” he said and winked. “Come on. It’s getting late. You can crash at my place tonight and then I’ll get Father John to call whoever you want tomorrow morning.”

“He can’t do it now?” Jensen asked tired. “Don’t get me wrong but I don’t know you.”

“Father John takes night shifts at the hospital on Thursdays. Besides if I wanted you dead I wouldn’t have saved you from Miguel, would I?” JT said and grinned.

“Unless you wanted me for yourself,” Jensen pointed out and if anything the grin got even wider.

“Well, there’s that,” the guy said lightly, “but don’t worry. I’ve already killed five rich boys today and I’m trying to pace myself.”

“You’re not really good at reassuring people,” Jensen muttered but he still followed JT down the street.

He tried to tell himself it was because he had no choice but that didn’t explain why his eyes kept gliding down to eye the perky ass not even JT’s bulky jeans could hide. Something about the guy made his stomach fill with butterflies, indicating the kind of interest he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Sure, JT dressed like a hobo and seemed to have some questionable judgmental skills, with people and food alike, and his hair could use a good trimming. But every time he smiled he got these dimples in his cheeks that made Jensen’s heart skip a beat. And even if Jensen would usually say he didn’t have a type he couldn’t really deny that he liked his women small and blonde. But his men… He definitely liked his men just like JT. Tall and built and with a laugh that took your breath away.

But as the buildings started to look more like ruins than actual houses he began to grow slightly more wary. Where the hell were they going? Maybe JT actually was going to lure him into some abandoned building and cut him into little pieces.

“Here we go,” JT suddenly said and before Jensen had time to say ‘Where?’ because as far as he could tell there was nothing habitual about the building they were in front of, the guy disappeared through a couple of loose boards in a hole in the wall.

Ok, that definitely qualified as Unsafe and possibly Insane and above everything Not A Good Idea. But then JT’s shaggy head poked out again, grinning widely. “You comin’?” he said, holding the boards to the side, and Jensen wouldn’t have known how to spell the word ‘No’, let alone say it.

He slipped through the crack and blinked as his eyes tried to adjust to the darkness inside. There were no lights and the only illumination came from the streetlight shining through cracks in the boards covering the windows.

“Where are we?” he asked hesitantly.

“I told you,” JT said cheerfully. “C’mon, it’s safe, don’t worry.”

“I’m not worried,” Jensen mumbled, looking around nervously as he followed JT through rooms filled with dust, debris and the occasional broken furniture. Then spent the next few minutes trying not to pant too loudly as they climbed what seemed to be five thousand flights of stairs. So maybe he’d been a bit slack about going to the gym lately. JT on the other hand didn’t seem bothered in the least; in fact he bounced up the stairs like every step only gave him more energy.

“Here we are!” he pronounced happily just as Jensen was about to admit defeat and collapse into a wheezing bundle of jiggling jelly muscles. “Great, right?”

Jensen gripped the rusty railing and slowly straightened up, looking around wearily. They had obviously reached the top floor of what had at some point in time been an office building. The windows here were unbroken, probably because no one but JT was insane enough to climb all those damn stairs, and Jensen had to admit that the view, what he could see of it through his scratched lenses, was spectacular. He even thought he could spot his dad’s house from here.

“Wow,” he said dutifully and JT’s smile brightened even further.

He walked over to a small table by one wall and fished several cans of food out of the inner pockets of his jacket. Then he shrugged it off his shoulders and turned it in his hands, looking at it with a grimace, before sighing and throwing it on an old easy chair that had seen better days. Then proceeded taking off a button down, a thin sweater and a t-shirt and still he had on a thin long-sleeved t-shirt and what looked like a wifebeater under that.

Jensen stood frozen, staring in disbelief. Because the guy that had saved him from being brutally beaten, the guy he’d spent the last fifteen minutes perving over like a piece of meat? Was probably no more than sixteen years old. All the clothes had made him seem bulky and big but now he’d dressed down to what a normal person might wear, all Jensen could really see were thin arms, a narrow waist and shoulders that would possibly fill out one day but now just looked very young and certainly not broad enough to carry a person through this kind of life. The shadow of stubble made him look older as well but when he turned to Jensen there were roses of teenage embarrassment in his cheeks and his smile was too bright and hopeful.

“You…” Jensen started but stopped because he didn’t really know what to say. The reason the guy dressed like a hobo was because he actually was one. Jensen wanted to smack his own forehead for being so clueless.

JT looked at him in question, still smiling, but when Jensen just stared back his face went blank and he turned abruptly away, shoulders stiffening. He stood still for a moment but then reached for his shirt again.

“That’s not why I asked you up here,” he mumbled as he put it on, sounding impossibly young in his anger. “I don’t do that.”

It took Jensen a moment to realize what JT was talking about and when he did his face went deep red and he took a step back. “Dude, I wasn’t…” He swallowed. “I was just surprised,” he said lamely.

JT glanced at him, obviously still wary, but then he shrugged. “I don’t like sleeping in too many clothes,” he explained. “I sweat like a pig at night.”

“That wasn’t…” Jensen rubbed his neck awkwardly. “I’m sorry. I just hadn’t realized you were living on the streets.”

“I’m not,” JT snorted. “We’re like fifteen floors up.”

“No, I meant…”

“I know what you meant,” JT said as he turned to face him, rolling his eyes. “Look, if you’d rather leave it’s okay. I’ll even walk you to wherever you want to go. But just so you know, it’s gonna get dark soon and you don’t really want to be out there when it’s dark. I’m just sayin’.”

“I don’t want to leave,” Jensen said quickly before he had time to think. It wasn’t until the words were out of his mouth that he realized he meant them. He tried to tell himself it was because the idea of walking these streets in the dark was just stupid, that going back down all the stairs when he’d finally made it to the top was too much work, but the truth was that he just hated seeing JT so upset. Which was probably the most idiotic reason of all for staying.

JT was still looking at him wary, fingers caught in buttoning his shirt. “You’re gonna be cold,” he said cautiously. “You should have worn a jacket.”

“Left it in the car. But hey, looks like you have plenty of clothes to share,” Jensen said casually even if his skin knotted into goose bumps at the though of a stranger’s – a hobo’s! – clothes coming anywhere near it. But it was all worth it for the way JT’s lips tugged upward at the corners, almost shyly.

“Yeah,” he said. “I do.”

He walked over to a duffel bag in the corner of the room and ruffled through it before standing up, a thick flannel shirt in his hand. The last time Jensen had worn flannel he was five and they were pajamas.

“Here,” JT said and held it out. “It’s clean,” he added wryly when Jensen didn’t move at first.

Jensen could feel his face flush and he stepped forward, accepting the shirt from JT’s outstretched hand. It was soft and it did feel clean and not stiff with sweat and dirt like he had imagined it would. He resisted the urge to sniff it and slipped it on instead. The sleeves were too long and he could have wrapped it around himself twice but it was warm and actually smelled nice. Like soap and deodorant.

“You hungry?” JT asked, turning away. “We have tomato, mushroom and…” He frowned at the third can. “Some kind of Indian curry paste. Great.” He looked sheepishly at Jensen. “I was in a bit of a hurry.”

Jensen blinked when he realized what JT meant. Stolen food. Well, ok then. “Uhm… tomato sounds fine,” he said.

“Go on, have a seat,” JT said and indicated a set of mattresses by the window, one stacked on top of the other. Two rolled up sleeping bags served as cushions and there was even a surprisingly clean sheet covering the top.

Jensen sat down gingerly, expecting a spring to poke him in the ass or to possibly sink into a dent but the mattress was firm and comfortable. He took off his glasses and breathed on them then tried to clean them as best as he could with the tail end of JT’s shirt. He got most of the grime off but the scratches still left them barely usable and the frame was skewed, one temple hovering two inches above his left ear. He sighed and put them on anyway, squinting through them at his surroundings.

“Quite a place you’ve got here,” he said as he looked around.

JT shot him a glance, like he suspected he was being made fun of but Jensen really meant it. He actually was impressed. Not that he knew much about homeless people, in fact he had never talked to one before in his life, but he hadn’t really imagined them being ambitious enough to drag all this furniture to the top floor of such a high building. Apart from the easy chair, the table and the mattresses there were shelves with what he quickly counted as at least fifty books and through an opening in the wall he could see into a room that held a wash basin, bottles of shampoo and detergent and a stack of clean towels.

“You live here alone?” he asked curious.

JT shook his head. “Me and Chad,” he said. “He had a girl once but she’s gone now.” He didn’t say what happened to her and Jensen thought he’d better not ask. “Don’t know how long we’ll be here though. They’re gonna tear it down. The building, I mean.”

“Oh.”

JT shot him a small smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll find somewhere to go. We always do.”

Jensen hesitated. “I can help you,” he finally said. “I mean, I have money. I could…”

“Dude.” JT frowned at him, sounding insulted.

“You saved my life,” Jensen pointed out. “I owe you.”

JT visibly stiffened. “I don’t want your money,” he said and yeah, he was definitely insulted. “Besides, anyone would have done the same.”

“I kinda doubt it,” Jensen said. “Look, how old are you anyway? You should be in school, JT. You shouldn’t be living like this.”

JT rolled his eyes. “I’m twenty, man. I’m not a kid.”

Jensen stared at him. “You’re kidding, right? No offense, but you don’t look a day over sixteen.”

JT shrugged. “You can check my wallet if you like.” He tilted his head, indicating the jacket. “Inner pocket.” When Jensen hesitated he added, “I trust you. No money there for you to steal anyway.”

Jensen gave him a small smile but still reached for the jacket. It wasn’t really any of his business and he suspected he was being rude for not just shrugging it off but he was curious. The ID in the wallet showed a pimpled teen with a stony face and blank eyes. It had been issued five years ago, making JT fifteen at the time. He didn’t look it. In fact Jensen would have pinned him no older than twelve if it weren’t for those blank eyes. The name on the card was John Travers, which explained the kid’s nickname.

He was about to close the wallet when he caught sight of the edge of a photograph peeking out between the folds. Glancing up to see JT busy with heating the soup over a small gas stove he slid the picture out. It was a family picture, taken at Christmas if the decorations in the room were anything to go by. A woman and three kids ranging in age from six to sixteen, all smiling happily. He’d pick the middle kid as JT which would make the other two probably his older brother and younger sister. Jensen couldn’t help wondering why JT wasn’t living with them anymore.

“She died a few months later,” JT suddenly said, jerking Jensen out of his thoughts. He looked up to find JT watching him and blushed in embarrassment. But JT didn’t look angry, just sort of blank, like it didn’t touch him at all. “My mom. Car accident. Dad started drinking all the time. It got bad. My brother ran away to college as soon as he could. I just ran away.”

Jensen didn’t know what to say. “And your sister?” he finally asked and regretted it immediately when JT’s face crumbled for a moment before smoothing out into the same blank look.

“I couldn’t take her with me,” he said flatly. “She was only ten.”

Jensen swallowed, wondering how bad their life had been. “How old were you?”

JT shrugged, obviously uncomfortable. “Old enough.”

“And this, living like this, it’s better than what you had there?” Jensen asked, having a hard time picturing anything being worse than this.

JT’s jaw tensed. “I’m still alive, aren’t I?” He turned away again, getting a couple of bowls out from a box under the table. “Soup’s ready.”

They ate in silence. The soup wasn’t bad but it wasn’t exactly good either. And half a can was barely enough to satisfy Jensen’s stomach even if he’d had a big lunch and some snack in the afternoon. JT being willing to share with him what was possibly his only proper meal of the day was rather humbling. Well, whatever JT did say, once Jensen was back to civilization he’d pull some strings and see what he could do. Not much, it wouldn’t pay to piss the kid off. Just maybe find him some decent place to live and a job. Maybe he could get JT back to school. Assuming he owned and had read those books on the shelves he had to be anything but stupid. Some of that stuff was even too heavy for Jensen to read and he considered himself pretty smart, if not too enthusiastic about his education.

“Thank you,” Jensen said as he discreetly wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. JT nodded, gathering their bowls and walking over to an empty basin. He took a big bottle of water and poured some over the bowls, rinsing them, before wiping them off with a dishcloth. It wasn’t the most hygienic dishwashing Jensen had seen but considering the accommodations it was more than he’d expected.

“Look, I’m sorry if I offended you,” he said when JT still didn’t say anything. “It’s just hard for me to understand, I guess, why you’re living like this.”

“Dude, what do you care?” JT asked, clearly annoyed. “If this is some stupid guilt thing you’re doing then drop it. I’m doing alright. I don’t need your pity.”

“It’s not pity,” Jensen said quickly, even if it kinda was. “You just seem like a bright kid that could do better. And it can’t be safe, being out here on your own like this.”

“I have friends. We stick together.” JT frowned. “Speaking of which, where the hell is Chad?”

He walked over to one of the big windows, staring down at the streets below. Jensen stood up and came to stand beside him. He wanted to apologize again but figured it would only piss JT further off. “You really worried about him?” he asked instead.

JT shrugged. “He’s pretty good at taking care of himself but you know” His voice trailed off and he bit his lip. “Shit happens,” he said finally and Jensen had the feeling he was speaking from personal experience. “Then again,” JT added just as Jensen was about to offer some lame words of reassurance, “he might just have gone to Sophia’s when he figured you’d be spending the night.”

“Sophia’s?” Jensen asked, refusing to acknowledge the butterflies that were once again at play in his stomach at the thought of spending the night in the same room as JT. It was stupid. Ok, so it had been ages since he slept with a guy. College to be exact. And he had to admit he missed it. Girls just didn’t give him the same thrill. But it didn’t matter, nothing was going to happen. The kid was too young and... well, a hobo. However clean he seemed who knew what he had been exposed to? And he was probably not even interested in guys. Or, if so, in Jensen. Which was fine because he wasn’t interested either. At all.

“…which is when we decided to move to Nepal and breed goats,” JT said in a sarcastic voice and Jensen blinked awake.

“Huh?” he said, “What?”

JT rolled his eyes but he didn’t seem mad, more amused. “Such a good listener. You should be a priest.”

“Sorry,” Jensen said and smiled awkwardly. “I was just thinking. Uhm. About… stuff.” He really hoped the heat in his face was from the late night sun, not because he was turning as red as the tomato soup they’d just had.

JT waved it off with a grin. “Dude, no problem. Was nothing important anyway.” He turned away from the window and walked over to the mattresses, sitting down on one end and pulling his feet up under him. “So,” he said, indicating the space beside him, “what brought you to my side of town?

Jensen hesitated a minute before joining him on the mattress. “Don’t laugh but…” He smiled a bit sheepish, “I was running away from home.”

JT looked at him blankly for a moment but then a smile tugged at his lips and suddenly he threw back his head, his booming laughter echoing in the room. Jensen tried to look offended but JT’s laugh was infectious and soon he found himself chuckling along.

“Aren’t you a bit old for that?” JT asked with a grin when he’d finally managed to calm down.

Jensen shrugged. “Probably. I just needed to get out, you know. Find my own place.”

JT nodded but he was still grinning. “I think at your age that’s called ‘moving out’, not running away,” he said and winked.

“Not if you sneak off without letting anyone know,” Jensen corrected and JT started laughing again. “And you make it sound like I’m ancient. I’m only twenty-two, dude.”

JT just raised his eyebrows, indicating that twenty-two was pretty ancient in his book then laughed when Jensen scowled at him. “Ok, ok, you ran away from home. Why, did your daddy not want to give you a new Porsche?” The words were mocking but JT was still grinning happily so Jensen couldn’t really take offence.

“No, he wanted me to get married,” Jensen said and shuddered.

JT snorted. “To a girl?”

Jensen frowned. “Uhm, yeah? That’s usually how it goes. You know, birds, bees, all that crap.”

JT looked at him, his face painted with disbelief. “But you’re gay,” he said confused.

Jensen blinked. “What?”

“Oh. You… You’re not gay?” JT went bright red. It was possibly the cutest thing Jensen had ever seen. “Crap, I’m sorry. I thought… I mean…” He rubbed a hand over his face. “Talk about embarrassing.”

“Dude, chill.” Jensen grinned. “It’s not like I’m a hundred percent straight.” He shrugged. “I’m pretty lax on that whole gender thing actually.”

“Oh.” JT breathed out and grinned. “Cool.” He laughed softly. “I thought my gaydar was broken or something.”

“Bent maybe, but no, not broken.” Jensen smirked and JT elbowed him, scowling. “So you and Chad…?”

JT’s eyes widened in horror. “What? No! God, no. Chad? Nonono. No. Oh no. Christ.” JT groaned. “Now I’m gonna have that image in my head all night, thank you.”

Jensen couldn’t help laughing. “Sorry. Just friends then?”

“Just friends. Definitely just friends. I mean, the guy is my best friend but… no. Hell, no.” He shuddered and Jensen laughed again.

They fell into an easy conversation, talking about everything from music and books to cars and politics. It was strange, Jensen thought, that as different as their lives were, in the dwindling light it didn’t seem to matter. He’d been right, JT was a smart kid. He dropped quotes from classical literature and pop culture alike without even seeming to notice and his arguments on every subject were well thought out and sensible. Jensen wasn’t stupid but talking to JT made him feel like he was the uneducated one.

Thinking of all the slackers he’d known in college, he himself being one of them, who smoked and partied when they should have been preparing their future, he couldn’t help feeling angry that JT hadn’t even gotten the opportunity to finish high school. It wasn’t fair. This was a kid that should make something of himself.

“What are your plans for the future?” he asked. “What would you do, if you could do whatever you liked?”

JT shrugged, his face going carefully blank as if he didn’t want his frustration to show. “Get a proper place so I can have my sister move in with me. And find a job that pays good, I guess.”

Jensen shook his head. “No, what would you do if you could do whatever you liked? Anything. Go back to school, become a movie star, win ten million dollars… what? Dream big, man.”

“Uhm.” JT frowned. “School. Yeah, I’d like that. I wanted to become a vet, when I was a kid. But now... If I could do whatever I wanted I think I’d like to become a lawyer. Lots of people that need help, you know.”

“Yeah,” Jensen said, suddenly feeling a little awkward about his less humanitarian ambitions. “You know there are scholarships. I bet you could get one but you’d have to finish high school first.”

JT shrugged. “Yeah,” he said but it was obvious he had no faith in that happening.

It was getting really dark and even with the light from the moon outside and a couple of candles on the table, trying to read the many expressions on JT’s face through the scratchy lenses was still straining to Jensen’s eyes. He took of his glasses and rubbed his eyes tiredly, the beginning of a headache threatening at his temple.

“You ok?” JT asked and Jensen looked up to find him only inches away, studying him worried. “He didn’t really hurt you, did he? Miguel, I mean.”

Jensen inadvertently ran his fingers over the back of his skull, feeling the slight bump there. He winced at the sharp sting of pain it brought on and JT sat up straight, scooting closer.

“Let me have a look at it,” he said and before Jensen could convince him he was perfectly fine he had his head bowed over JT’s lap while long fingers prodded his skull. “The skin isn’t broken,” JT was saying, so close Jensen could feel his breath on his neck. “You feel alright? Not nauseous or anything?”

“Uhm. Not nauseous, no,” Jensen managed to choke out, his nose inches away from JT’s crotch. He licked his lips, trying to breathe normally. “Just a little sore,” he added awkwardly, “and bruised. That guy had a mean left punch.”

JT’s fingers ran over Jensen’s shoulders and back, prodding him gently and he hissed when bruises from hitting the wall, which he hadn’t even been aware of, suddenly let themselves be painfully known.

“That hurt?” JT asked quietly.

“A little,” Jensen said through gritted teeth, not sure which was worse; admitting a few bruises on his back bothered him that much or that JT’s fingers touching him were having a rather embarrassing effect on the rest of him.

“Wish I had some cold packs but our medic reserve is a little low,” JT said, sounding genuinely bothered. “You’ll probably be even more sore tomorrow.”

“I’m okay,” Jensen mumbled, steadying himself with one hand on JT’s knee to keep from falling headfirst into his lap.

JT seemed to suddenly realize how awkward their position was because he let abruptly go off Jensen’s shoulders and sat back, clearing his throat. Jensen slowly lifted his head, hand still on JT’s knee as he pushed himself up until they were once again facing each other. It was a bit too dark to be sure but he thought the boy might be blushing.

“Uhm,” he said and smiled a little. “Thanks?”

“No problem,” JT said, eyes shifting to Jensen’s lips and then away again. He was breathing a little harshly and Jensen could feel the heat off his face warm his own skin. “Just… uh… wanted to make sure you weren’t badly hurt.”

Jensen licked his lips nervously, the heat in his belly turning up even further when he saw JT’s eyes follow the movement. “I…”

He stopped since every line he could think of sounded like a bad porno. “He got me pretty bad in the stomach too,” he finally blurted out, feeling his face go red. JT blinked, then his eyes slid down to where Jensen’s hand had unconsciously gone to rest against the bruise beneath his ribs. Then Jared looked up again, a small smile tugging at the corner of his lips for a brief moment before he managed to smooth it out, face settling in a concerned expression.

“Yeah?” he asked. “Lay back and let me see.”

Jensen sunk down on his elbows, holding his breath as he watched JT’s long fingers tug at the hem of his t-shirt, pulling it up to reveal his stomach. Then sucked in his breath and fell down on his back at the sharp pain when JT ran a thumb over the bruised skin.

“Damn, you weren’t kidding,” he could hear JT say. “That hurt?”

Jensen nodded, teeth digging into his lower lip. He’d never been much of a fighter, hadn’t ever really gotten into that kind of situation before. Sure he’d been tackled by his brother a few times growing up but more in friendly banter than real anger. And even as an adult he was pretty sure Josh didn’t carry such a heavy punch as the giant he’d met in the alley. It suddenly hit him, what might have happened if JT hadn’t stepped in and saved his ass, and his blood ran cold. His breath hitched, legs twitching on the mattress.

“Hey, you okay?” JT asked worried, large hand coming up to cup his face and Jensen grabbed it by the wrist, desperately needing the reassurance of JT’s presence. “Jensen, hey. Shit, did I hurt you?”

Jensen shook his head, trying to force himself to calm down. “No. Sorry. I just…” He pulled in a shaky breath and let it out even slower. “He could have killed me,” he finally managed to say and felt pathetic the moment the words left his tongue.

JT looked down at him but he didn’t laugh. “Yeah, he could have,” he said instead, voice low. He lay his palm flat over the bruise on Jensen’s stomach, so light that Jensen felt more the warmth from his skin than the actual touch. “I’m glad I got to you in time.”

“Me too,” Jensen breathed. The flickering lights of the candles were reflecting in JT’s eyes, making them look even more catlike, and the shadows played upon his face in a way that almost seemed unearthly. And Jensen couldn’t think of anything he wanted more than for JT to kiss him, right there and then on this old mattress in an abandoned building with dust in the air and the noise of the city far below.

“Jensen,” JT whispered, tongue peeking out to run over his lower lip and that’s all Jensen could take. He grabbed JT by the collar of his shirt and pulled him down.

For a moment he thought he’d made a horrible mistake when JT’s lips stayed stiff and unmoving on his own, warm puffs of air blowing out of his nose against Jensen’s cheek. But just as he was about to let him awkwardly go JT parted his lips on a low moan and then they were really kissing, licking and biting at each others lips, tongues clashing and noses bumping and it was possibly the best kiss Jensen had ever had in his life.

“God, JT,” he managed to groan out when JT let briefly go of his lips to suck on his jaw. “You… What…”

“Don’t,” JT breathed into his neck. “Please, just want to…” He rubbed his thumb over Jensen’s lips, nose nuzzling into his hair. “Smell so good,” he moaned and Jensen closed his eyes and sucked JT’s thumb into his mouth. He tasted of soap and tomato soup. JT shuddered against him, breath harsh in his ear and when he shifted on the mattress Jensen could feel the hardness of JT’s dick pressing into his thigh.

“Want to…” he panted, fingers fumbling to get under JT’s t-shirt, “…touch you. Fuck. Got to…” He brushed hot skin, fine hairs tickling his fingertips and JT jerked against him.

“Jesus!” he gasped and Jensen let out a short breathless laugh.

“Like that?” he asked. “Me touching you?”

“Yeah. Jesus, yes. I want…” JT pushed himself up and pulled both t-shirt and wifebeater off in one swift motion before diving back in, kissing Jensen hard. “Please,” he whispered and Jensen couldn’t get his hands back on that warm skin fast enough.

JT might be skinny but he was so tall that his spine felt like an endless row of cobblestones under Jensen’s thumb and his skin was so soft and warm Jensen wanted to touch all of it at once. He spread his fingers, running his hands up the wing-like shoulder blades and down to the dip above JT’s ass, not daring to go further however much he wanted to. Instead his hands slipped down JT’s sides and up his chest where Jensen rubbed his thumbs over hard nipples and counted the ribs with his fingertips. All the while JT was kissing him, varying between soft and deep, light and hard, in sync with Jensen’s touches, while he breathed out low whimpers and moans that turned into hitched breathing every time Jensen got near the lower part of his body and again into almost keening sounds when Jensen moved away.

“God,” Jared finally croaked out. “You can… if, if you want to.”

“Want to,” Jensen whispered. “Really, really want to.” He was about to let one hand slip under the waistband of JT’s jeans when he suddenly pulled back, hand on Jensen’s chest.

“Wait,” he said. “Can I…?” And he tugged at Jensen’s t-shirt, licking at his upper lip nervously.

“Yeah, yeah. Sure,” Jensen said, words rushing out, almost knocking JT’s nose with his forehead as he sat up to pull of his shirts. “Better?”

“Yeah.” JT leaned down again to kiss him and the warmth of their stomachs and chests touching made them both suck in their breath. “Def-definitely better like this,” he huffed.

Jensen laughed a little nervously before remembering what he’d been doing when JT interrupted him. He stroke one hand down JT’s back, keeping the other entangled in his hair. This time when he got to the waistline of JT’s pants he didn’t hesitate but dived in, sliding his index finger down the cleft of JT’s ass while rubbing his thumb over the small of his back.

“Tell me to stop, whenever,” he whispered. “It’s ok.”

“’M not…” JT panted, his breath hot on Jensen’s neck, “not a virgin, dumbass.”

Jensen stopped, blinked, and then burst out laughing. Some of the tension slipped away and when JT pulled back he was grinning as well even if there was heat in his eyes as well as his cheeks.

“We’re insane,” Jensen said, shaking his head with a grin. “What are we doing?”

JT tilted his head, looking pensive for a moment before shrugging casually. “Making out? Possibly even having sex. If you want to.”

Jensen sucked in his breath. “I don’t know you,” he pointed out, voice a little shaky. “You don’t know me. I could be a total asshole. You could be a crazy homeless person!”

JT snorted. “I am a homeless person. Or, you know,” he corrected, frowning slightly, “living in a house that probably doesn’t count as a home.”

“But not crazy?” Jensen asked, quirking his eyebrow.

“Nope. Are you an asshole?” JT asked back.

“I don’t think so.” He frowned. “Although if I were, would I know?”

“Hmm…” JT looked at him thoughtful. “You know, that’s a very interesting philosophical question that we should definitely discuss. Some other time when I’m not about to blow you.”

Jensen stared up at him, the grin frozen on his lips. “Yeah?” he choked out. “Ok.”

JT smirked at him quickly before his eyes slid down Jensen’s naked chest. “Wish it weren’t so dark,” he said in a low voice. “Bet you look awesome naked.”

“Freckles,” Jensen gasped out when JT started kissing his way down, stopping briefly to lick at one nipple before continuing.

“Uhm?” JT mumbled, nose pressed into the dip below Jensen’s sternum.

“I… I have freckles,” Jensen explained, feeling stupid and unable to remember why he brought it up in the first place. “All over. The darkness is my friend.”

He could feel JT’s laughter vibrate in his bellybutton. “I have moles, man. Big brown ones. Like everywhere.”

“Oh ok.” Jensen sucked in his breath when JT licked carefully over his bruise. “That’s way more gross. Freak.”

JT laughed again, then blew raspberries against Jensen’s stomach, making him twitch and snort.

“I have one here,” JT said casually, flicking his tongue over a spot right under Jensen’s left nipple, “and another here.” He licked at Jensen’s hipbone, making his hips jerk. “And…”

Jensen closed his eyes when JT popped open the button on his jeans, then slowly pulled the zipper down. He was panting harshly, the darkness making him even more alert to every movement, every touch, and when JT tugged the jeans down his hips he stopped breathing, just waiting for what was about to happen.

“Here,” JT breathed hotly into Jensen’s skin and then pushed his tongue in among the curls above Jensen’s cock, licking the skin at the root.

“Ungh,” Jensen managed and then all coherent thought left his head as he was sucked into JT’s mouth.

Later, Jensen would spend endless nights wondering where JT had learned to give blowjobs like that and feel sick and angry by all the possibilities that popped into his head. The worst involving JT’s estranged father, the very best featuring Chad and too much beer. Everyone he’d met that day starred in his imaginary tales. The fat guy at the diner, the kids that stole his car. Oh God, that fucking brute Miguel with his tattoos and ugly mustache. The local police that JT seemed to know way too well. Any and all of them turned into sadistic raping bastards in Jensen’s head and he hated himself for being just one more guy that had made JT suck his dick. Even if ‘made’ was hardly the right word, considering JT had been the one to suggest it and all Jensen had really done was go along with it. When the options are blowjob or no blowjob, there really is no option. Still… It had been a sleazy thing to do and he felt anything but proud.

But right then, with JT’s mouth sucking him in all hot and wet and JT’s hands on his thighs, fingers splayed out and holding him down to keep Jensen from jerking his hips up and choke JT on his dick… All he could really think of was trying not to shoot his load too soon.

“I’m gonna...” he finally hissed between gritted teeth. “JT, I’m…” That was as far as he got before he was arching off the mattress, fingers cramping in JT’s damp and shaggy hair.

He lay gasping when JT crawled up the mattress to look down at him, all smug and smiling.

“Good?” he asked and Jensen really didn’t have any words to answer so he just pulled JT down for another kiss. It was wet and sloppy and tasted of his own come but he couldn’t really care about that when he had JT’s naked chest pressed against his own and the outline of JT’s cock denting his thigh.

“Your pants,” Jensen mumbled. “Off.”

JT laughed, rolling over on his back as he fumbled with his belt and quickly shoved his jeans down, before rolling back, his dick landing with a wet thud on Jensen’s thigh. Jensen reached down, wrapping his fingers around JT’s cock. It was thick and heavy in his hand. Fuck, the kid was going to be a giant one day, he just knew it.

“That good?” he said hoarsely. “Want me… Want me to suck you?”

JT shook his head, face pressed into Jensen’s neck. “Just… this. Fuck. I like… I like this.”

“Ok, ok.” He turned on his side to get a better grip, jerking JT off with firm strokes. “Wish I could see your cock,” he whispered, kissing JT’s neck. “Feels good in my hand. So damn big and smooth. Bet you taste good. Bet you’d feel good too. In… in me.” He sucked in his breath, suddenly wanting that more than anything. “You want to fuck me, JT? You want to fuck my ass with that big cock of yours?”

“Jesus Christ!” JT gasped into his ear. “Do you, do you kiss your mother with, with that mouth?” he stuttered desperately and then he was coming, hot and wet over Jensen’s fingers, stomach and chest.

“That’s it, yeah,” Jensen coaxed, giving a few extra tugs before letting go. His fingers were sticking together and he wiped them awkwardly on the sheet before breathing out and dropping his head down on the mattress. JT lay panting against his neck, one heavy hand draped over Jensen’s hip like it belonged there.

It was stupid but as Jensen lay there on the stacked mattresses, staring up at the cracked and stained ceiling, stomach growling with hunger and everything smelling of dust and sweat, he couldn’t remember being more content. Like he wouldn’t mind waking up like this tomorrow morning and the morning after that, as long as he had JT pressed up against his side and breathing into his ear.

JT shifted beside him and Jensen instinctively laid a hand on his arm, not wanting him to leave.

“Just gonna get my sleeping bag,” JT mumbled in a sleepy voice. He reached down to where the bags had rolled on to the floor and hauled one up, loosening the strings and zipping it down to make a bedspread that he pulled up over them before snuggling down again. “This ok?” he asked, pulling Jensen closer.

“Uhm,” Jensen mumbled.

He was suddenly bone tired, his whole body aching with exhaustion and bruises. It was warm and comfortable under the sleeping bag and JT felt safe and solid by his side. He struggled to keep awake a moment longer, feeling they should probably talk about what had just happened and maybe more importantly what would happen tomorrow. But when he turned his head JT was already out for the count. His lips were slack, cheeks flushed pink, and his eyes were moving slowly under the thin eyelids. He looked impossibly young and vulnerable in his sleep. Jensen lay watching him until his own eyes slipped close and he fell into oblivion.

 

One moment he was dreaming about living with JT in a bright and beautiful apartment, sharing kisses over their morning coffee and eating pancakes, and the next he was pressed up against the wall, scrambling for the sleeping bag to hide his nudity while what seemed like a whole battalion of masked men burst into the room, guns raised.

“Jensen? Jensen Ackles?” one of them yelled from behind his mask.

Jensen just stared at him frozen. The man closed in on him cautiously then stopped about three feet away, taking off his helmet and slipping the masked knitwear over his head. The writing on his jacket spelled FBI in large yellow letters.

“Mr. Ackles? It’s alright, you’re safe now,” the man said carefully. “I’m Agent Morgan with the FBI. We’ve come to take you home.”

“What?” Jensen managed to croak out.

“Are you hurt?” The man, Morgan, took a step closer and Jensen pulled the sleeping bag tighter around him, wincing when the bruises from the night before tugged at his skin. The man instantly backed away. “It’s alright” he said soothingly. “I’m not gonna hurt you.”

When Jensen just stared at him he turned around and quietly ordered the men to leave them. “Search the premises,” he added, “We don’t know how many they were. And get someone to bring some clothes up here.”

Agent Morgan waited until they were alone in the room before turning around and facing Jensen again. “Don’t worry, you’re safe now,” he said in a quiet and soothing voice, like he was talking to a wounded animal.

Jensen blinked, the shock that had numbed his brain finally fading. “What are you talking about?” he said in a shaky voice. “What the hell is going on?”

“We have apprehended your kidnapper. He can’t hurt you anymore. We’ll have you out of here in no time.”

“Kidnapper? What? No. I wasn’t kidnapped.” He laughed and it sounded half-hysterical, even in his own ears.

“It’s alright,” Agent Morgan said, voice filled with sympathy. “You’re safe now.”

Jensen wanted to punch him. Why the hell did he keep saying that? “Look, I wasn’t kidnapped. Some shithead stole my car with everything in it and I couldn’t call anyone because I didn’t even have my phone. So this kid, JT, offered me a place to stay for the night.”

Agent Morgan frowned. “Here? You voluntarily spent the night here?”

Jensen could feel himself blushing but he didn’t look away. “Yes. You have a problem with that?”

The man blinked slowly, then looked around, eyes finally coming to rest on the lone mattress Jensen sat on. “I see,” he said, grimacing. “Oh hell.” He rubbed one hand over his face. “He didn’t kidnap you?”

“No!” Jensen said frustrated. “He’s a kid for Christ’s sake!”

“And he didn’t… force himself on you?” Agent Morgan asked cautiously.

“What? No! Jesus!” Jensen closed his eyes in frustration. This really wasn’t a conversation he wanted to have half-blind and naked. “Look,” he said, opening his eyes and fixing them on the confused man before him, “I’m gonna get dressed and then we can talk about this.”

Agent Morgan shook his head. “We need your clothes for evidence,” he said.

Jensen gritted his teeth. “I wasn’t kidnapped or, or raped for fuck’s sake. What the hell do you need evidence for?”

Agent Morgan sighed. “Ok, obviously there has been some misunderstanding. Still, we need to take precautions. For one thing you’re covered in bruises, sir. Something obviously happened.”

Jensen waved his hand in frustration. “Yes! A big brute called Miguel was using me as a punching bag when the kid came along and saved me. Saved me, not kidnapped me!” He rolled his eyes when Agent Morgan just watched him thoughtfully. “You say you arrested him? Did you even ask him what happened?”

“He refused to co-operate,” Agent Morgan said.

Jensen opened his mouth to ask where the hell they got the idea of kidnapping in the first place when a couple of paramedics came into the room, carrying a bag of clothes and giving him the same kind of sympathetic look that had been in Agent Morgan’s eyes earlier. Huffing in frustration he accepted the clothes they handed him – sweatpants, a t-shirt and a hoodie – then stubbornly threw the sleeping bag aside and got dressed, hating the way he could feel them studying his bruises.

“Are you hurt, sir?” the female paramedic asked. “Would you like us to have a quick look at you now or wait until we get to the hospital? Whatever you feel is more comfortable.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” Jensen growled, pulling his boots on after sending Agent Morgan a glare, daring him to take those away as well. “I’m fine. I wasn’t kidnapped, I wasn’t raped. The only thing that’s wrong with me are you guys. A bunch of idiots bursting in here, waking me up, after arresting the guy who gave me the greatest blowjob of my life. And the fact that I haven’t had coffee yet.” He straightened up. “Don’t tell me, you arrested him while he was buying breakfast. For me. Yeah, that’s a real criminal you’ve got there.”

She blinked then looked at Agent Morgan who gave her a helpless shrug. “Apparently Mr. Ackles wasn’t kidnapped. He was having a one-night-stand with a street kid.”

“Hey!” Jensen protested. “Don’t talk about him like that.”

“Mr. Ackles, listen to me. If what you’re saying is true…” Agent Morgan sighed. “The kid is underage.”

Jensen froze. “What? No, he’s not. He showed me his ID. He’s twenty.”

“He might have showed you an ID but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t his. The kid is sixteen, seventeen tops, which…” Morgan sighed again. “Look, I’m not interested in what you did or didn’t do with him but maybe you shouldn’t be shouting it from the rooftops, ok?”

Jensen swallowed. He felt slightly sick. Not because the kid had been young – hell, he’d been having sex himself way before he was eighteen – but because JT had lied to him. And if he wanted to he could easily have Jensen arrested for messing with a minor. Not that Jensen thought JT would but that didn’t change the fact that he could. Shit. Why the hell had the kid lied to him?

“How about we get out of here, son?” Agent Morgan suggested and Jensen couldn’t help wondering how pathetic he looked, considering that ‘sir’ had been replaced with ‘son’.

“Yeah. Sure,” he said, feeling deflated. He pulled the hoodie tighter around him, missing the soft plaid shirt Jared had loaned him and that was now resting at the bottom of an evidence bag. “Where is he now?” he asked as they were walking down the stairs.

“In juvenile detention until we’ve figured out the charges.”

Jensen stopped and turned around sharply, facing him. “Charges? You can’t charge him if he hasn’t done anything!”

“He had a fake ID and some pills in his pocket which we don’t know what are yet. He might be charged with possession if they turn out to be something illegal. At any rate we need to find out who he is so we can contact his parents.”

Jensen shook his head. He was pretty sure Jared would not appreciate that. “His mom is dead and his dad’s an abusive asshole. Why do you think he ran away in the first place?”

“That’s the sob story he told you?” Agent Morgan gave him a patient smile. “Look, son, obviously you like him but the truth is these kids? They lie. They lie about everything.”

“But…”

“Maybe he was telling you the truth. It’s possible. But for a kid like that having a rich guy like you practically fall in his lap… It would be a too good opportunity to pass up.”

“He didn’t lie,” Jensen said stubbornly, even if he was anything but sure. “And he didn’t help me because I’m rich. He thought I was a hooker for Christ’s sake!” He blushed when Agent Morgan gave him a weird look. “I might have been wearing clothes that were a little too tight. Look, it doesn’t matter,” he huffed frustrated. “He didn’t do anything and so there’s no reason for you to hold him.”

Agent Morgan held his gaze for a moment but then he shrugged. “I’ll see what I can do. First thing first. We need to let your parents know you’re alright and you have to give a statement. And I would really appreciate it if you let a doctor look you over, just as a precaution.”

“I’m fine,” Jensen muttered. “I just want to get this over with and have some coffee. And I want to see JT, make sure he’s alright.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” Agent Morgan repeated calmly. “Now please, sir, after you.” He indicated the stairs and Jensen continued down, scowling.

“Where the hell did you get the idea I’d been kidnapped anyway?” he asked angry. “I wouldn’t think my parents had even noticed I was gone.”

“Someone called in demanding ransom.”

Jensen stopped again, so abruptly this time that Agent Morgan almost walked into him and shoved him down the stairs. “What?”

“Last night. Sounded like a young man, possibly teenager. Said he had you at knifepoint and was prepared to cut your throat if your parents didn’t pay him a million dollars.” He nodded at Jensen’s shocked expression. “Your car had just been recovered in a random chop raid a couple of blocks from here, with your phone and wallet still in the front seat. Guess they hadn’t had time to even strip it yet. Things got moving pretty fast after that. We found out where it had been stolen and have since been searching the neighborhood. Someone said they saw you with this JT kid and we were staking the place this morning when we saw him sneaking around the building.”

“And you just arrested him, based on…?”

Agent Morgan shrugged. “He tried to run.”

“Well, of course then he must be guilty,” Jensen said sarcastic. “He’s underage and living on the street. I’d be more surprised if he didn’t run.”

“Well, there’s that…”

Jensen glared at him disgusted before turning around and hurrying down the stairs. The faster he got all this crap over with the faster he could see JT again. Poor kid probably thought Jensen was hanging him out to dry. Dammit.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

Someone banged the bars behind Jared for the hundredth time or so it seemed, making him nearly jump out of his skin. He gritted his teeth at the laughter his reaction invoked. He’d been in there less than an hour and had already been propositioned to take part in various acts he really had no interest in. Most of them involving his ass. He sat curled up on the bench, back to the other cell that was filled to the brink with last night’s brawlers, hookers and minor criminals. Only reason he got his own cell was because he was so young but he knew it was only a matter of time before he’d get company. Rules were rules but limited space was limited space and the other cell couldn’t really take many more. He closed his eyes and hummed under his breath to keep out the noise of one of the hustlers ‘giving’ service to a couple of bikers. At least they were just demanding blowjobs. For now.

When the door to his cell suddenly opened he jumped to his feet, straightening up to his full height in hope that whoever was joining him would be at least a little intimidated. Then blinked in surprise when Chad was shoved in, a mad grin on his face.

“Hey, bitch! Whazzup!” he yelled, like they were at a party, not locked up in a goddamn cell.

“Chad, what the hell are you doing here?” Jared hissed, trying to conceal how relieved he was to see him. Being in jail with Chad definitely beat being in jail alone.

“Heard you got yourself arrested and figured you could use some company.” Chad grinned and Jared couldn’t help smiling back.

“They just let you in?” he asked incredulous.

Chad frowned. “You know, you’d think they would, but no. Had to convince them I was a bad, bad boy and needed to be locked up.”

Jared groaned. “What did you do?”

“Peed. In the lobby.” Chad smirked at Jared’s shocked expression. “Also I might have said something less than flattering to a certain officer.”

“Jesus, Chad. Don’t tell me you called Cassidy a pretty prostitute. Again.”

“Ok, I won’t tell you.”

Jared couldn’t help laughing. “One day she’s going to beat you into a bloody pulp, you moron.”

“Nah, she has the hots for me,” Chad said cocky. “She wouldn’t want to mess with this nice package.”

“Whatever.” Jared sat down again and Chad joined him on the bench, glaring at the thugs eyeing them on the other side of the bars.

“Those guys give you any trouble?” he asked quietly.

Jared shook his head. “Just talk, you know.” He swallowed, dropping his gaze. “Dude, I don’t know what’s going on but it’s bad. It’s bad, man. They say I’m being charged with kidnap and rape. Me! I don’t understand anything!”

Chad didn’t answer and when Jared looked over he saw that his friends face was flushed and he wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Chad, what’s going on?”

“Uhm… I might have…” Chad cleared his throat. “I mentioned the guy we saved to Sophia and she went crazy, man. Did you know his dad owns like half of LA or something? We’re talking billions, ok? So I thought… I thought maybe we could get some of that, you know, as a thank-you for saving the guy’s ass from Miguel.”

Jared stared at him. “What did you do? Chad, what the fuck did you do?”

“I didn’t…! Ok, so maybe I called his dad’s company and… uhm… told them we had his son and that… uhm… we might want some money?”

“What!” Jared was on his feet in an instant, fist in Chad’s shirt. “Are you fucking crazy? You told them we’d kidnapped him? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“Hey, calm down. Just… chill, man. It’s alright. He’ll tell them it’s not true, right? You were with him so he can vouch for you, that you didn’t make that call. They can’t prove anything, ok? They’ll finally figure it was just a prank and we’re good to go. So just relax, man.”

Jared glared at him. “Relax? Jensen probably thinks I’m a fucking felon now. He’s gonna think I set him up, man.”

Chad rolled his eyes. “So? What do you care? He’s a pretty little rich boy, man. He already thinks we’re the dirt of the earth.”

“You don’t know him. He’s nice, ok? He…” Jared swallowed. “He’s a nice guy.”

“Oh shit.” Chad stared at him, pale. “You didn’t! Jesus fuck. Jared, are you insane?”

Jared let him abruptly go, his face heating. “I think we’ve established you are the crazy one,” he mumbled but Chad didn’t even seem to hear him.

“You fucked?” he asked instead. “You fucked him? Please don’t tell me you fucked him.” He groaned. “Oh jeez, I’m gonna be sick.”

“What the hell is your problem?” Jared said angry. “What if I did?”

Chad flailed his arms. “I told them we’d raped him and we’d do it again if they didn’t pay us a million dollars, that’s what!”

Jared stared at him. Even if they hadn’t actually gone that far he’d still left his DNA all over Jensen’s body. “I’m a dead man,” he said dazed. “You’re a dead man. Oh God, we’re going to prison. I’m going to die in prison.”

“No. No you’re not. Listen to me,” Chad said, his voice shaking. “They have no proof, ok? I called from a pay phone. Jensen will tell them you didn’t do anything. We’re gonna be ok.”

Before Jared could tell him to stick his lousy reassurance where the sun didn’t shine they heard footsteps approaching and suddenly the lock clicked and the door swung open, revealing a tall man in a nice tailored suit, looking at them with disgust. Jared and Chad stared back, equally pale.

“Take him to an interrogation room,” the man said and turned around, walking away.

An officer slapped handcuffs on Jared’s wrist and he barely had time to throw Chad a panicked glance before he was being shoved and pushed along the hall and up some stairs, finally being shown into a room with a table and two chairs.

“Sit down,” one of the officers said and then left, locking the door behind him.

‘This look like it’s gonna be ok to you, you goddamn psycho?’ Jared silently cursed his inner Chad. Chad didn’t reply, not that Jared had expected him to.

He sat waiting for what felt like forever but was probably close to an hour. Suddenly the door opened and the suited man came in, closing the door behind him. He put a leather briefcase on the table and sat down, then pulled out some files and spread them out, still not saying anything.

“Look,” Jared finally said in exasperation, “clearly there has been some kind of misunderstanding. I didn’t kidnap anyone. I certainly didn’t rape anyone. If you just talk to Jensen…”

“Mr. Ackles has filed charges of kidnapping and sexual assault,” the man said in a cold voice, not looking up. “You’re looking at lifetime in prison, kid, so I suggest you work on that attitude.”

Jared blinked slowly. “What?” he said, laughing a little. “No. That can’t… You’re kidding, right?”

The man in front of him finally lifted his head, giving him a cold stare. “I never kid and certainly not about something as grave as this.” He didn’t wait for Jared’s answer, but got back to reading the papers in front of him.

Not that Jared had any idea what to say anyway. He just stared at the man, feeling numb. Jensen had… what? That just wasn’t possible. The Jensen he knew would never do a thing like that.

‘But you don’t know him,’ a small voice inside his head reminded him. ‘You have no idea what he’s like. He’s a perfect stranger and guess what? He fucked you over.’

“Look,” Jared finally said, voice shaking a little, “I don’t know what he told you but that’s not what happened, ok? I saved him from being beaten up and then offered him a place for the night. That’s all.”

The man gave a small sound that sounded like disgust. “So you did not have any kind of sexual contact with Mr. Ackles while he stayed at your… ‘home’?”

Jared blushed. “Well, yeah. I did. But it wasn’t assault. I didn’t… He wanted it.”

“Of course. Never heard that one before,” the man said sarcastic.

“Jesus.” Jared rubbed his face. He felt slightly sick. “He kissed me, ok? And I… We did some stuff but it was all consensual. I didn’t force him to do anything. You have to believe me.”

The man stilled, then slowly put his pen down before looking up, blue eyes piercing his. “Mr. Ackles comes from one of the wealthiest families in the United States. He is making plans to get married this spring. He spends more money before breakfast than you will accumulate in your lifetime. Does this sound like a man that would willingly spend the night in an abandoned building with someone like you? Who would willingly have sex with you? A filthy whoring street kid that probably has more diseases than the whole continent of Africa and is just as likely to slit a man’s throat during the night? Really, Mr. Travers, how stupid do you think I am?”

“Maybe he just liked me,” Jared spit out, his face burning in humiliation. “You ever think of that?”

“I’ve spent less than twenty minutes with you, Mr. Travers, and I already loath you,” the man said dismissively.

“Believe me, the feeling is mutual,” Jared gritted out. “Who the fuck are you anyway?”

“Tom Welling, the Ackles’ family lawyer.” Welling gave him a small humorless smile. “I’m the one that is going to put you away for a very, very long time for messing with what is mine to protect, Mr. Travers.”

Chills ran down Jared’s spine. This was not good. This was very, very bad. “I want to speak to Jensen,” he said in a trembling voice. “I want to hear him say it.”

“Mr. Ackles is still in the hospital. He is beaten, bruised and traumatized and he has no wish to ever see you again.” Mr. Welling gave him another cold stare. “And I have the family’s permission to do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t have to. Including, but not limited to, throwing you into the cage with last night’s pickings.”

Jared blinked. Then he scrambled out of his chair, fell to the floor and promptly threw up. When he finally got up, drying spit off his chin on the sleeve of his shirt, Mr. Welling was still sitting in his chair, going through the files like nothing had happened. Jared sat slowly back down. He felt lightheaded, he was so scared he could hardly breathe and he really, really wished he’d never set eyes on Jensen fucking Ackles.

“I’m not…” He swallowed. He hated having to do this but he was painted into a corner with no way out. “My name isn’t John Travers,” he said more firmly, hoping he didn’t sound as small as he felt. “It’s Jared Tristan Padalecki and I’m… I’m only seventeen. If you do this I’ll… I’ll have to tell the judge that and he can charge Jen… Mr. Ackles with statutory rape. I’ll say he was the one who came after me. That… that he offered me money for… for sex. And when I didn’t want to he…” He stopped, too disgusted with himself to continue.

Mr. Welling looked at him thoughtful. He didn’t seem surprised in the least. “Did he rape you? Will we find evidence of that? Any bruises, torn tissue, anything?”

Jared deflated. “No,” he admitted then frowned. “But… no way you found any on him!”

Mr. Welling looked at one of the files in front of him. “A severe head injury resulting in a mild concussion. Bruised throat, arms and stomach. Scrapes on his back and knees. Semen on his body that will no doubt match your DNA. No signs of anal penetration but,” he said and looked up at Jared, eyes cold, “oral still counts, Mr. Padalecki.”

“I was the one who blew him!” Jared protested. “I didn’t… He only jerked me off, ok?”

“Right.” The lawyer gathered his papers, stacking them neatly before looking up at Jared, eyes calculating. “Look, son, let me be straight with you. No judge is going to take your word over his and the evidence is on his side. Even if only half of the charges stick you’re still looking at at least ten years. And a boy like you? Will not make it ten years in prison.”

“I don’t want to go to prison,” Jared admitted in a choked voice. “I didn’t do anything. I was just trying to help him.”

Mr. Welling nodded slowly. “Strangely enough I’m inclined to believe you.”

Jared’s head snapped up. “You believe me?” he whispered. “God, I beg you. Help me! I didn’t do anything. I’m not that kind of person. I would never…”

“Whether I believe you or not doesn’t really change anything,” the lawyer cut in. “It’s still Mr. Ackles’ word against yours and he… he’s a smooth talker. Sympathetic, well known. Rich. And he knows how to play a crowd.”

Jared stared at him. “What?”

“Oh come on,” Mr. Welling snorted. “You didn’t think you were the first boy he’s had to explain away to his father? Once it was Rohypnol, once he honestly thought the tranny was a girl.” He rolled his eyes. “The boy has been lying to his father his whole life. You think he has any qualms lying in court?”

Jared tried to fit the picture the lawyer was painting with the man he’d met the night before. He couldn’t but that didn’t really mean anything, not if Jensen was the skilled liar Welling said he was. And he had known Jensen for way longer than Jared had.

“What… what should I do?” he asked in a small voice. “I’ll do anything. I don’t want to go to prison. Please.”

“Anything?” Mr. Welling asked quietly. “Are you sure?”

Jared swallowed, then nodded. “Yeah. I’m sure.”

The lawyer held his gaze a long time, then nodded. “I might be able to get him to drop the charges if you do something for him in return. Mr. Ackles has… many interests. Some with questionable people. Finding reliable middle men can be tricky.”

Jared frowned. “What do you mean?”

Mr. Welling smiled. It reminded Jared of a snake and he couldn’t help shivering. What the hell was he getting himself into?

“Let’s first get you out of here, shall we?” the man said, sliding the files back into his briefcase. “Then we’ll worry about the details.”

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~

“Dad, this is ridiculous!” Jensen growled, tugging at the IV in his hand. “There’s nothing wrong with me! What the hell is in this anyway?” he added, glaring at the clear solution in the bag. “If you’re feeding me sedatives again I’ll tell mom about the time you spiked her drink with Valium.”

“Jensen, stop it,” his father said calmly, not even looking up from his magazine. “The only reason they sedated you was because they needed to do some tests and you were behaving like a lunatic, refusing to cooperate.”

“Because there’s nothing wrong with me!” Jensen once again pointed out but his father just waved his hand dismissively.

“We couldn’t know that. If nothing else the place they found you in was anything but sanitary. Who knows what you could have caught there? Not to mention…” He glanced up at Jensen, arching one eyebrow. “Well.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake!” Jensen huffed, rolling his eyes. “So I had sex with a guy! What do you care? You’ve always known I had boyfriends in college.”

His father flipped another page in the magazine. “I don’t care. Fuck a goat if that’s what you want.” He grimaced slightly. “At least the goat might be clean.”

“You’re disgusting, you know that?” Jensen spit out. “Jesus Christ, dad, you’re talking about a human being! A really nice kid who saved me from being beaten and possibly killed. How about some gratitude? And why the hell is it taking so long getting him out of jail?”

Alan Ackles clenched his jaw and at last put aside the magazine before looking up, his eyes cold. “Jensen. Drop the attitude and use your brain for five minutes. You had sex with a street kid. You know what these kids do to support themselves and their habits? They whore themselves out. That’s what they do. They have sex with idiots like you who think with their dicks instead of their brains.” He silenced Jensen with a glare when he tried to object. “What kind of tests do you think we’re running? STD tests, Jensen, that’s what. HIV ring a bell? AIDS, Jensen. Something a man with your preferences should be well informed of.”

Jensen glared back. He was so angry he really wanted to rip the goddamn IV out of his hand and storm out of there. Unfortunately that would mean flashing the whole hospital his ass, considering he had no clothes besides the hospital gown they’d made him put on. He’d had enough humiliation today to last him a lifetime, thank you very much.

“First off,” he said in as calm a voice as he could manage, “HIV is not a gay disease, dad. Hasn’t been in a long time. Second, JT isn’t a rent boy. He told me himself he doesn’t do that and I believe he was telling the truth. Third…”

“He did you,” his father cut in, “and I have a hard time believing you were the first one. Unless you really think you are that special.”

That stung because he knew he wasn’t. Not in his father’s eyes or anyone else’s for that matter. But JT had made him feel like maybe he was. Like maybe he was more than just the middle child, the one that was barely worth his father’s time or his mother’s effort.

“Third,” he continued never the less, refusing to let his father see how much the words affected him, “I’m not an irresponsible teenager. I actually know how to protect myself.”

“There were no condoms found on the premises,” his dad coldly pointed out. “Well, no used ones anyway.”

“Not all gay sex is about taking it up the ass, dad,” Jensen said sarcastically, not mentioning that they hadn’t used a condom when JT blew him. He knew how stupid that was but at the time he hadn’t really thought of it.

His father didn’t even flinch at the crude choice of words. He’d gone back to his magazine, pretending not to hear Jensen’s angry growls. It was really starting to piss Jensen off.

“You didn’t answer my question,” he said loudly. “Why is it taking so long getting JT out? He didn’t do anything. It’s already been confirmed those pills were just painkillers. Probably meant them for me.”

“Tom is taking care of it,” Alan said, finally looking up with a sigh. “What on earth do you plan to do with that boy anyway? I won’t have him in the house, Jensen.”

“‘That boy’ saved my life,” Jensen pointed out. “You keep forgetting that. Or maybe you just don’t care.”

His father sighed again, putting away the magazine as he stood up. “Of course I care, Jensen. I’m very glad you’re not hurt. But you never should have been there in the first place. It was stupid, son. Stupid and childish, running away like that.”

“I don’t think you can call it running away at my age,” Jensen said annoyed, echoing JT’s words. “I was moving out. I’m not a kid anymore, dad. It’s time I found my own place.”

Alan held his gaze for a while then shrugged. “If that’s what you want. Might do you some good, help you grow up. Lord knows it’s about time.”

Before Jensen could answer the door opened and Tom Welling, their family lawyer, stepped inside, closing the door behind him. Jensen’s jaw tightened when Tom didn’t as much as look his way, like he was of no more importance than the chair by the bed. Jensen didn’t like the man, never had. He’d taken over the family’s account when Tom Welling senior died a couple of years ago and as nice as the old man had been his son was an arrogant stuck up creep. He always treated Jensen as if he was the dirt under his shoes while sucking up to Alan Ackles like the worst kind of leech.

“What took you so long?” Jensen asked impatient. “Where’s JT?”

Tom didn’t even spare him a glance before turning to Alan, whispering something in his ear. Jensen couldn’t see his father’s face because he had his back to the bed but he could clearly see the shift in the man’s shoulders as he tensed. Without further words Tom quietly let himself out the door, leaving them alone.

“What is it?” Jensen asked when his father didn’t immediately face him. “Dad, what did he say?”

“There has been an… incident.” Alan turned slowly around. His face was serious and his eyes held something Jensen couldn’t remember ever seeing there before. It almost looked like pity. “I’m afraid the boy…” He paused, dropping his eyes. “He got into a fight in jail and… He’s dead, Jensen. I’m sorry.”

“What?” Jensen just stared at him. “No. No, he’s not. He can’t be. He… No.”

“I really am sorry, son. He did after all save your life. I wish I’d gotten the chance to thank him for it.”

“You would have if you hadn’t had him put in jail! Then he wouldn’t be…” Jensen hitched his breath, the reality of his father’s words suddenly hitting him. “He’s… dead?” he asked, his voice breaking.

Alan nodded. “They think his head got smashed into the wall and that’s what killed him. It’s hard to tell, he was beaten up pretty badly. There was a gang of bikers and apparently they took offence to him being… gay.”

Jensen didn’t really hear him. He was too busy throwing up.

 

“What are we doing?” Chad hissed in a low voice, eyeing the two men in the front seat. “What the hell have you gotten us into?”

Us? I told you to leave,” Jared whispered back. “You’re the one that insisted on coming along. This is my problem, Chad. Mine to deal with.”

Chad just looked at him in disgust. “Your problems are my problems,” he said. “Where the fuck were you when they taught Brocode 101?”

Jared didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Or possibly kiss Chad for being such a stubborn loyal idiot. Christ, he just knew something bad was about to happen and he should insist on Chad getting the fuck out of there. He was just too damn relieved he wasn’t alone in this. He was scared out of his mind, he was angry and hurt and he hated himself for wishing he could just see and talk to Jensen. Jensen who apparently was an asshole of gigantic proportions and had probably set the whole thing up just to lure Jared to... do whatever it was he was about to do.

That was the problem, he had no idea what they were going to ask of him and neither the lawyer nor the weird guy that served as his driver were answering any questions. What would he be ready to do to stay out of prison? Steal, definitely. But hurt someone or even kill them? No. No, he drew the line there. He’d rather take his chances in prison.

Ok, maybe he could beat someone up if they were like really, really evil. He’d be okay with that. Not badly, just punch them a few times. Not breaking any bones though. That was just nasty and he wasn’t sure he was strong enough anyway. Except maybe the nose, he could break someone’s nose. He’d broken Chad’s nose once, although on accident, so he knew that wasn’t too hard. Would be different doing it on purpose though. Maybe he could just like tie them up and threaten to beat them. That could work.

“I’m not gonna kill anyone,” he said out loud, just to get that out in the open. “Or, you know, hurt them. I won’t do that.”

Welling acted like he hadn’t heard him but the weird driver glanced at him in the rearview mirror. Jared was pretty open minded when it came to fashion but even he couldn’t see how anyone would think a red velvet suit would look good with purple shoes. With that big nose he looked like a parrot. All the guy needed was a feathered pimp hat to perfect the look but instead he sported a bald head and a sarcastic sneer.

“Where did you find these two?” he asked Welling with disgust. “The gutter?”

“Try your mama’s bed, Baldy,” Chad shot back and Jared elbowed him hard. Their chances were bad enough without pissing of the weirdo with the gun. The gun he had gleefully shown them and then stuffed down the back of his red velvet pants when they’d been ordered into the car.

“We only need one of you,” Baldy pointed out, glaring at Chad. “Right, boss? Can I shoot the twink?”

“Hey!” Chad protested, more at being called twink than the threat to his life if his indignation was anything to go by. Jared would have rolled his eyes but he was too busy being terrified.

“If you shoot him you can just as well shoot me,” he said, trying to sound braver than he felt. “It’s both or nothing.”

Chad nodded enthusiastically and threw him a grin. It would have been more convincing if he hadn’t been so sickly pale.

“No one is shooting anyone,” Welling said, as casually as if they were talking about the weather. “We are not criminals, Mr. Padalecki, whatever you might think.”

Baldy looked like he wanted to object being denied his criminal status but settled for glaring at Jared in the rearview mirror instead.

“Right,” Jared said sarcastic. “That’s why your driver just threatened to shoot my friend with his gun. Pardon me if I’m less than convinced.”

We are not criminals,” Welling repeated patiently, “but you are, Mr. Padalecki. You and your ‘friend’ both. Mr. Rosenbaum is simply making sure you don’t get any ideas.”

“I still won’t do anything illegal,” Jared insisted. “I mean, nothing that can hurt anyone.”

The lawyer sighed, like he was talking to a petulant child. “We simply need you to deliver a letter to a certain address. That’s all.”

Jared frowned. “A letter? Why does Jensen need me to deliver a letter?”

Welling turned his head and looked at him. His eyes were cold. “You do not know that name, Mr. Padalecki. No more than you know my name or that of the man sitting next to me. Do you understand?”

Jared drew back. “Yeah,” he said and swallowed. “I get it.”

Baldy smirked at him in the mirror.

They kept silent the rest of the ride. Jared had no idea where they were except that they’d obviously left LA. There was sand as far as he could see and he kept getting flashes of old mob movies in his head, where people were driven into the desert and shot. Glancing at Chad it was obvious he was thinking the same thing. The only thing keeping Jared from panicking was that if Welling (or Jensen for that matter) wanted him dead, a night in the cell with those bikers would have done the trick. The fact that they were going through all this trouble had to mean they really did want him to deliver that letter.

Whether he would live to tell the tale was another thing.

Chad suddenly elbowed him. “Vegas, baby!” he whispered, pointing ahead. Sure enough, the dark sky was lit up by neon lights flashing promises of fame and fortune. “At least I got to see Mecca before I died,” Chad sighed wistfully. “Think they’d allow us one spin of the wheel before they pop us?”

“We’re not dying so just shut up about it,” Jared hissed.

Someone cleared their throat in the front seat and they looked up to find Welling studying them impatiently. “It’s simple. You just take this letter to the place it’s addressed to, wait while they make sure everything’s in order, accept another letter in return and bring it back to us. Not too complicated, is it?”

Jared took the letter handed to him. It was not thick, couldn’t hold more than one sheet of paper. He glanced at Chad who looked just as nervous as he felt.

“If it’s so simple why don’t you do it yourself?” Chad blurted out.

“Are you suggesting you are of no use to us?” Welling asked calmly.

Jared grabbed Chad’s arm before he said anything else. “No. It’s fine. Chad, shut up.”

Chad huffed but he had the sense for once to keep quiet.

The car suddenly came to a halt and Jared looked up to find they were in a dark street, the glow of the neon lights brightening up the night sky. The whole thing felt surreal, like he expected to wake up any second on his old mattress with Chad snoring on the other side of the room, the memory of Jensen nothing but a good dream turned bad that he could push out of his mind.

“Get going,” Welling said impatiently. “And remember,” he added just as Jared was about to open the door, “cross me and there will not be a place on earth you can hide where I won’t find you.”

Jared swallowed. “We won’t,” he said. “Come on, Chad. Let’s get this over with.”

They hurried away from the car as fast as they could, keeping quiet until they’d rounded a corner and were safe from the car’s view.

“You know they’re gonna kill us anyway, right?” Chad hissed. “Dude, no way they can let us live, knowing the Ackles family is doing… whatever dodgy stuff it’s doing. Drugs maybe.”

“Not the family I’m guessing, just Jensen,” Jared said, his voice bitter. “Fuck, I can’t believe I let him play me like that.”

“Are you even listening to me? Forget your goddamn teenage girl crush on the pretty boy and try and figure out a way for us to get out of this, ok? Because hell if I’m gonna die in some desert outside Vegas, like Jimmy fricking Hoffa.”

“That was Detroit, not Vegas. And no one knows what happened to Jimmy Hoffa anyway,” Jared pointed out even if he didn’t really care. Chad was right, they were probably not looking at a long prosperous life beyond tonight. On the other hand, running off from that scary fucker Welling didn’t seem like a good idea either. Jared had no doubt that threat had been real.

“How ‘bout this?” Chris suggested. “We open the envelope and see if it’s anything worth exploiting. Maybe it’s worth a lot of money. Then we could use it to disappear.” Chad’s eyes brightened. “Dude, seriously, we could go to Europe! Hell, we could go to frigging Agrabah.”

“Why would you want to go to Agrabah?” Jared asked with a frown. “Is that even a real place?”

“Jared, you’re missing the point. The point is we can be rich!”

“And dead. Don’t forget dead,” Jared said sarcastic. “Chad, did you see the guy? He was like evil incarnated! He eats boys like you for breakfast!”

“Dude, that’s just gross,” Chad said with a grimace. “Keep your gay fantasies to yourself.”

“I didn’t mean…” Jared stopped. What did he know, anyway? “Ok, know what? I think we should deliver the letter or we might get both parties after us. One psycho is enough.”

Chad thought that over before nodding. “Good thinking. So where are we going anyway?”

Jared looked at the address on the envelope. “This way?”

 

Ten minutes later they were standing outside a door in a dark alley, looking at it with trepidation. “I guess we better knock,” Jared finally said with fake bravado and raised his fist.

Barely a minute went by until it was cracked open as far as the thick chain allowed and a tall man with dark eyes and a scowl to match glared out at them. “Yeah?”

Jared hesitated. “Uhm…” If they weren’t allowed to mention neither Ackles nor Welling, what was he supposed to say? “I have a delivery from… someone.”

The man looked at them then suddenly burst out laughing. “What do you know? Delivered to our door. Like pizza.”

Jared shot Chad a confused glance. What the hell?

The door closed and then opened again a moment later with the chain released. “C’mon, get in,” the guy said. He was almost as tall as Jared with long hair and a goatee, dressed in jeans and a leather jacket that had seen better days. His neck was covered in a black tattoo that looked like the end of a dragon’s tail.

They followed him down some stairs and through a long hall before finally being let into a large room. A fat man was sitting behind a desk, eating spring rolls and sipping from a bottle of Pepsi. “What’s this?” he said, not even sparing them a glance.

“Delivery from Ackles Industry,” the guy said gleefully, taking away any hope Jared had that Jensen wasn’t involved.

The fat man raised his head and looked them over. There was a glint in his eye that Jared really didn’t like. Finally he nodded. “Good. Come closer.”

Jared stepped forward, placing the envelope on the desk in front of the man. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do, if he should say something, like demand to see the money. Then again he didn’t even know if it was money they were getting in return. What if they’d let their imagination run away with them and this was no more sinister than two men exchanging gifts?

The fat man licked his lips just as the guy that had let them in scratched at his neck, which lifted up his jacket, revealing a gun strapped to his chest.

Ok, so maybe it was a little sinister.

“Take them to the inner room,” the fat man said as he wiped his mouth and reached for the envelope.

“What? No!” Jared said in panic because that sounded really bad, like ‘go shoot them in the head’ kind of bad.

The tall guy laughed. “Relax, kid. Not gonna hurt you. Nothing you wouldn’t like anyway.” He laughed again, like it was the funniest thing in the world then grabbed Jared by the arm, pushing him toward a door on the other side of the room.

“Hey,” he tried to object but then suddenly the guy’s gun was up and aimed at his head.

“Don’t be putting up a fight, kiddo. I hate cleaning brain out of my suit.” The man jerked his head at Chad who was staring at the display in shock. “And tell your little friend to get moving unless he wants your dead ass to be the last thing he sees.”

Chad hurried over and together they let themselves be shoved through the door before it was slammed shut behind them, the lock clicking in place.

“We’re dead, aren’t we?” Chad asked. He sounded like he was about to cry. Or possibly scream for help at the top of his lungs. Neither would do any good so Jared gripped him by the shoulders, turned him around and looked him straight in the eye.

“We’re not,” he said firmly. “He could have shot us right away if he wanted to, right? So chances are he doesn’t plan to. Maybe he’s just gonna let us…” He broke off when he heard a sound from the corner of the room, like someone was snorting. “Did you hear that?”

“What?” Chad squeaked, quickly covering behind Jared. “Are there rats in here? I hate fucking rats. Stay away from me, motherfuckers!”

“Shut up, Chad.” Jared tilted his head, listening. There was a muffled sound and he located the source of it as coming from a bundle of blankets in the corner. “Is someone there?” he asked, raising his voice.

The bundle moved. “How ‘bout some help here?” a grouchy voice said, the sound muffled by the blankets.

Jared walked over hesitantly. It was kinda dark in the corner but as he got closer he saw they were actually not blankets but a human being in baggy clothes with a canvas bag over the head. When Jared pulled it off it revealed a grumpy looking face topped by greasy long hair and blue eyes that glared at him.

“C’mon, untie me before they come back.”

“Uhm…” Jared took a step back. “We don’t know you. Maybe you’re worse than them.”

The guy huffed in frustration. “Kids, listen to me. I heard them talking about Ackles Industry. That tall sonofabitch Welling sent you, right?”

Jared hesitated. “Maybe?”

“Yeah, here’s a news announcement: Your ass has just been sold! You think you’re the first street kids he’s sent here? Son, no one’s gonna miss you if you never get back. Am I right?”

Jared swallowed. “Jensen’s done this before?” he asked, feeling stupidly hurt.

The guy frowned. “Who? The Ackles kid?” He blinked a few times but then understanding obviously dawned. “Christ. That’s how they got you? Oh man, you really are stupid, aren’t you?”

“Insulting us isn’t really helping your case,” Jared pointed out but he stepped forward anyway. Chad’s hand on his arm stopped him.

“What if this is a test?” he whispered. “About loyalty or something. Maybe if we do untie this fucker, then they’ll shoot us.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” the guy said, trying to sit up but he kept rolling back on his side, not surprisingly considering his wrists were tied to his ankles. “You wanna end up some closet case’s bang toy? Want to spend the rest of your very short life on your knees sucking cock and taking it up the ass? Cos that’s what’s gonna happen if you don’t get out of here. And without me that ain’t happening so fucking untie me, morons.”

Jared stared at him, feeling sick with fear. “You’re insane.”

“Probably. Doesn’t mean I’m lying.” The guy sighed. “Can we talk about this later? Like when I’m not about to be shot in the head and you have more to look forward to than being someone’s buttboy?”

Jared looked at Chad uncertain and he shrugged, grimacing slightly. It was fifty-fifty whether they were doing the right thing or not but either way, Jared didn’t feel comfortable leaving the guy tied up and helpless on the floor, ready for slaughter. And if the guy was right… Jared shook his head, pushing down the terror threatening to paralyze him. He wasn’t gonna think about that because now was really not the time to freak the fuck out.

It took some time loosening the knots, not helped by the guy’s constant swearing and Jared’s hands sweating with fear and frustration, but finally they managed to release him. The guy quickly rubbed his wrists and then jumped to his feet. Only to promptly fall over on his face.

“Goddammit!” he mumbled into the moldy floor. “A little help here?”

Jared and Chad hauled him back up. Another bruise had been added to the ones already covering most of the guy’s face, coloring him blue and purple. “You okay?” Jared asked worried. “How long have you been here?”

“Fuck if I know,” the guy muttered, hissing as he tried to walk and his legs wouldn’t let him. “Three, four days?”

“No wonder you’re all fucked up,” Chad said, grimacing as he got a whiff of the guy’s smell. “Gotta say, buddy, this ain’t exactly my dream damsel-in-distress scenario. Even if you’re short and have girly hair.”

“Hey!” the guy sputtered. “Watch your mouth, douchebag.”

Chad scowled at him. “The name is Chad, Grumpy, and this here is my boy Jared. He’s about ten feet taller than you and eats babies for breakfast so how ‘bout toning it down, alright?”

The guy looked up at Jared who tried to look menacing but probably only ended up looking constipated. “Right,” the guy said, rolling his eyes. “He’s a real animal. Whatever. I’m Chris Kane. So you wanna get out of here?”

“That would be great, yes, Thank you,” Jared said before Chad embarrassed them even further. “You got a plan?”

“Better than that, I’ve got a Steve. Get me to that corner over there.”

They each took one arm, slinging it over their shoulders. Jared had to hunch over to make up for their height difference and he had this ridiculous urge to laugh, imagining what they must look like. Like the three Stooges probably. Once they had dragged Chris to the corner of the room he crawled behind a couple of crates and after a moments search raised his hand, waving a cell phone in triumph.

“Managed to throw it this way while they were roughing me up,” he explained. “Figured they’d strip me of everything once they were done.” He flipped the phone open, whooping in relief when the small screen flashed to life. “Battery should be good for one call. He better be close,” he muttered as he pushed the buttons.

“Why don’t we just call the police?” Jared asked confused.

Chris gave him a look that indicated he was beyond stupid. “Kid, who do you think I am? They’re not exactly gonna… Hey, man!” he said happily into the phone. “Yeah. I know. Steve… Steve, shut up and listen! They’re gonna kill me any minute unless you rescue my sorry ass.” Jared coughed and Chris rolled his eyes. “Got a couple of street rats here as well so bring the truck, not the bike.”

“Hey!” Chad protested but Chris ignored him. He rattled off the address and told Steve, whoever he was, to hurry up. The voice on the other end asked something and Chris frowned.

“I’m not sure,” he answered and looked up at Jared. “How many were out there just now?”

“Some fat guy and a tall one with tattoos.”

“You hear that?” he said into the phone and the voice on the other end murmured some reply. “Yeah, but I’m no good, man,” Chris answered. “Hey, no. No, relax. Just a bit fucked up, nothing serious. Yeah, I promise. Just get here, ok?”

He snapped the phone shut and then turned around, looking almost embarrassed. “Guess I got him worried.”

Jared nodded but Chad just sighed and kicked one of the crates in frustration. “What if they decide to come in here and shoot us before your boyfriend shows up?”

“We better make sure they don’t get in here then,” Chris bit back. “Plenty of crates and crap you can barricade the door with. Get on it.”

Chad looked like he wanted to argue with being ordered about but Jared grabbed his arm and pulled him away to a stack of crates by the other wall.

“I hate that guy!” Chad hissed. “Dude, he’s the fricking douchebag.”

“Maybe, but he’s the douchebag that’s gonna get us out of here. So I suggest we do as he says.”

Chad scowled but he didn’t argue and together they stacked crates and floorboards and bags of cement in front of the doors.

“Feels like we’re closing our own tomb,” Chad muttered. “What if that Steve guy never shows up? What if they just let us stay here until we die of hunger? What then?”

“I guess we can always eat the one who croaks first,” Jared joked. “My bet is on the douchebag. Should be tender meat from all that beating.”

They shared a hysterical giggle that had Chris looking up from the corner that he was slouched in, glaring at them. “What’s so funny?” he asked and they laughed harder.

Their laughter was promptly cut off at the sound of a key being turned in the lock. They both dropped to the floor behind a couple of crates, staring at the door. It opened less than an inch before being stopped by the makeshift barricade.

“What the hell?” a gruff voice said and banged on the door, trying to get it to budge. The crates shook and in panic Jared and Chad scrambled to their feet and leaned into them. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” the voice said. “Stupid kids.”

“How you gonna rape us now, you fucking pedo?” Chad yelled. “Loser!” The banging stopped for a moment and then increased tenfold, loud voices cursing at them and Chad yelling insults back.

Jared sighed, leaning his back against the barricade as he tried to shut out the noise. This was not how he’d imagined himself dying; in a dirty basement with a grumpy midget and Chad. ‘Sorry, sis,’ he thought and tried to remember what his sister looked like but all he could see was Jensen, looking at him with those green eyes filled with concern. Goddamn Jensen, this was all his fault. Tricking him like that…

Something Chris had said suddenly occurred to him and he looked over at where the man was still sitting on the floor, rubbing his calves and ankles in an effort to loosen his stiff muscles.

“What did you mean earlier? About Jensen?” he said loudly to be heard over the ruckus.

Chris looked up at him then slowly got to his feet. He wobbled, clearly still weak, but at least he wasn’t falling over anymore. He made his way over on shaky legs and then sunk down on a bag of cement, leaning his back against the crate next to Jared. He breathed deeply a few times before looking up at him with what almost looked like pity. “What did Welling tell you?” he asked.

Jared gave him the short version of what had happened, leaving out the more intimate details but by the look on Chris’s face he had no problem filling them in. When he was done Chris shook his head, smiling a little.

“Kid, he screwed you over.”

Jared swallowed. “Yeah? I just… He seemed really nice, you know.”

Chris rolled his eyes. “Not Jensen. Welling. Welling screwed you over. Everyone knows the Ackles boy swings both ways, man. He got caught with his hands down a guy’s pants way too often in college to be in the closet.”

Jared blinked. “What?”

Chris sighed. “They had nothing on you except his words and let me tell you right now, those ain’t his words. Believe me.” He shrugged when Jared looked at him in surprise. “Knew the guy in college. Him and me and Steve jammed a few times. Dude’s got a good ear for music.”

Jared stared at him. “You went to college?”

Chris looked insulted. “What? I look stupid to you?”

“Well, you did get yourself locked up in a basement,” Jared pointed out.

“Ha fricking ha. Don’t quit your day job, kiddo. Yeah, I went to college. Even got a degree.” He snorted. “Don’t think this is what they thought I’d do with it though.” At Jared’s inquisitive look he seemed to hesitate before adding, “We’ve got a business, me and Steve. Doing people… favors. ‘Your wish is our command’, you know.”

Jared shook his head, confused. “Not really.”

“He means they’re hookers, Jarehead,” Chad said. “Right? You spreading your cheeks for cock and money, douchebag? Sucking your way to success?”

Chris smirked. “Not exactly, shitmunch. I kill people. I can give a demonstration if you’d like to volunteer?”

Jared’s eyes widened. “You… Holy shit. You’re hit men?”

Chris smiled a little and shrugged. “Something like that.”

Jared thought that over for a moment. “So how do I know you’re not gonna kill us once we’re out of here?” he asked.

Chris looked at him, clearly insulted. “Hey, I’ve got scruples. Just because I kill people doesn’t mean I’m unethical. You helped me, means I owe you. Helping you get out of here should cover it.”

“I don’t know,” Jared said thoughtful. “Your friend Steve’s the one rescuing us, not you. The way I see it that puts us in his debt while you are still in ours. Right?”

Chris stared at him for a moment then he burst out laughing. “Kid, I like you. You’ve got balls.” He shook his head in amusement then stuck out his hand. “You’ve got yourself a deal, boy.”

Jared grinned as he shook his hand, trying not to think of the absurdity of having just made a gentlemen’s agreement with a killer.

The banging on the door suddenly stopped and they all looked at each other, holding their breath. A man yelled but it got cut off by what sounded like a soft pop. Then someone was knocking on the door, ridiculously politely. “Chris, you in there?”

“Yes! About time, you lazy sonofabitch,” Chris called back and stumbled to his feet. “C’mon, guys. Move all this shit.”

“You sure?” Jared said. “What if there’s still someone out there?”

Chris sighed. “Steve, the rats are skittish. Tell them you’ve cleaned the floor.”

“Ain’t no one here but me and my gun. Now open the goddamn door before I get bored and leave again.”

“You heard the man.” Chris started pulling at the floorboards even if he was deadly pale under the dirt and shaking with the effort of just standing. Jared and Chad got to work, clearing the makeshift barricade from the door. When they were finally able to open they came face to face with a guy Chris’s age with blond long hair and a frown of worry that he was desperately trying to hide.

“Where is he?” he asked as he pushed past them. “Chris!”

“I’m over here, you fucker,” Chris said from where he had once again sunken down to the floor, clearly exhausted. “I’m alright.”

“Jesus fuck, Chris.” Steve grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him to his feet and into a tight hug. “You got any idea how worried I’ve been? Fucking asshole.” He sounded close to tears, clutching Chris tight in his arms and over his shoulder Jared could see Chris squeezing his eyes shut as he buried his face in Steve’s neck.

Chad rolled his eyes and was clearly about to say something so Jared grabbed him by the elbow and pulled him out into the other room, giving the two men some privacy.

“Now I’ve seen everything,” Chad muttered. “Gay hit men. What the fuck is the world coming to?”

“Shut up, Chad. You’d be blubbering like a girl if that had been me in there.”

“Whatever,” Chris mumbled but he didn’t deny it. “I just wanna get out of here. Oh shit, man, look at that.”

Jared glanced at where he was pointing. The fat man lay slumped over his desk, a puddle of blood spreading over the flat surface and soaking into the files. In the middle of the room the tall tattooed guy lay face up, arms and legs sprawled. A gun lay by his outstretched hand and there was a neat hole in the middle of his forehead.

Jared gulped. He was going to be sick.

“Keep it in, kiddo,” Steve said behind him. “We have to get out of here, pronto.” He had one of Chris’s arms slung over his shoulders but the weight was clearly pulling him down.

“We’ll take him,” Jared offered. “Better you have your gun arm free, just in case.”

Steve seemed to hesitate for a moment but then he nodded and Jared took Chris off his hands. He slung one arm over his shoulders and the other over Chad’s and together they half supported and half carried Chris as they followed Steve out of the room, along the hall and up the stairs, trusting him to know what he was doing. A third body was waiting by the door, slumped up against the wall. Jared swallowed down his nausea and hoisted Chris further up then hurried after Steve. A truck was waiting by the end of the alley and together they stuffed Chris into the backseat then Chad got in front while Jared sat in the back, Chris slumped against his side.

“Wait here,” Steve said, getting something out of the trunk before running back. About five minutes later he returned, smelling of gasoline. “Just getting rid of the evidence,” he explained as he threw a duffel bag in the back and when Jared turned around he saw smoke starting to rise up from the dark alley.

“You torched the place?” he asked horrified.

Steve grinned as he put the car in gear and drove off. Chad reached out the window, flipping their former prison his middle finger, clearly not bothered. Chris mumbled, “Burn, fuckers, burn,” into Jared’s shoulder and then promptly passed out.

Jared wondered if he was the only sane person left on the planet.

It was dark outside except for the neon lights illuminating the sky and Jared realized he had no idea what time it was or where they were going. No matter what Chris had said about honor among thieves, him and Steve were still hit men and Jared and Chad were witnesses to a triple murder and arson. Letting them go would be stupid and these guys looked anything but stupid.

“Where are we going?” he finally decided to ask. “I mean, you can just drop us off anywhere.”

Steve looked at him in the rearview mirror. “Chris said you were on Welling’s radar. That’s not a good place to be, kid. The further away we get, the better chances you guys have of making it out of this alive.”

“Why do you care?” he couldn’t help asking.

There was silence for a while but then Steve nodded to where Chris lay bruised and bloody in the backseat. “You see that stupid sonofabitch? I’ve been looking for him for three days, thought for sure he was dead. He probably would be if it hadn’t been for you two. So let’s just say I owe you and leave it at that.”

“You saved us too, you know,” Jared pointed out as he had with Chris. “Way I figure you don’t owe us anything, more the other way around.”

Steve shook his head. “Letting you tag along while I bust him out ain’t exactly the same as saving your lives.”

“But…”

“Jared!” Chad snapped, turning in his seat to glare at him. “If the guy wants to thank us for saving his buddy, let him thank us. Jesus, sometimes you’re just too damn stupid for your own good.”

“I was just…” Jared sighed. “Never mind.” He looked down at Chris who had slumped sideways until his head was resting in Jared’s lap. Damn, that was gonna leave blood and grease stains all over his jeans. “So what… you taking us back to LA?”

“Right back to the snake pit? Don’t think that’s a good idea. Chris and me were heading for Washington D.C. If you guys want to come with I don’t see why not.”

That would add another hundred miles distancing him from San Antonio and his sister. Jared’s heart clenched at the thought but he didn’t really have much of a choice. “Yeah, ok,” he said. “Chad?”

“Whatever, dude,” Chad said and yawned. “Don’t matter much to me where we go, it’s the same shit everywhere.”

Steve gave them a thoughtful look. “About that.” He nodded toward the duffel bag he’d thrown in the back. “Guess half of that is yours. Seems only fair.”

Jared raised an eyebrow at him in question but Steve just shrugged so he pulled the bag over and unzipped it. Then sat staring into it with wide eyes. “Oh. My. God!”

“What?” Chad mumbled, half asleep.

“Jesus Christ. Steve, we can’t… There’s got to be at least a million dollars in here!”

What!” Chad sat up, instantly awake. “Let me see!”

Jared tilted the bag, allowing him a glimpse inside. “Steve, seriously,” he said. “We can’t take this.”

“Of course we can, you fucking moron!” Chad yelled. “Steve, we’ll take it. Hell, we’ll take all of it if you don’t want any. Whatever you want. Jesus fuck, Jared, money! Loads and loads of money!”

Chad made grabby hands at the bag but Jared snagged it away, shooting him a glare before turning back to Steve. “It’s too much. We didn’t really do anything.”

“Now listen to me, Jared. It’s Jared, right?” Jared nodded. “Chris would be dead if it weren’t for you and he means a whole lot more to me than all the money in the world. I’d let you take all of it except that would really piss him off because he knows there was some dough to be had and he won’t be happy if I tell him I didn’t find any. So you take half of that before he wakes up and we won’t ever speak of it again. You get me?”

“But…”

“Just say thank you, idiot,” Chad said and turned to Steve. “Thank you, Steve. You’re an upstanding citizen. For being a hit man, I mean.”

Steve frowned. “Chris told you we were hit men?”

Chad frowned back. “You’re not?”

Steve seemed to hesitate for a moment. “No, we are. It’s just not something we like to broadcast. Except to clients of course.”

“Of course.” Chad turned back, grinning at Jared. “Now show me the money! Or, you know, count our share.”

“I don’t know…” Jared said unsure which had Chad rolling his eyes in frustration and Steve glancing at him sympathetically in the rearview mirror.

“Kid, take the goddamn money or I’ll throw it out the window, ok? That a good enough reason for you?”

Jared couldn’t help smiling. He was really beginning to like this guy. “You drive a hard bargain, mister. I guess I can take your goddamn money if you insist on it.”

Steve snorted and turned his eyes back on the road. “Just make sure you’re done before he wakes up or we’re gonna have to listen to him bitch all the way to the capital city. Ain’t no one can bitch like Chris, especially when it comes to money.”

Jared grinned and then started deviding the cash while Chad stared wide-eyed at the growing pile that was their share, his breath quickening the bigger it got. Jared wasn’t sure if Chad was building up for an orgasm or passing out, either way it was funny as hell.

Question was, what was he going to do with his share?

What would you do if you could do whatever you liked?” Jensen’s voice suddenly echoed in his head. “Dream big, man.

Jared looked at the pile of money on his lap. Well, what do you know. Guess it was time to start dreaming.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~Seven years later~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Jensen sighed as his sister went off on another rant on the other end of the line. He contemplated setting the phone aside and just get back to his work while she prattled on but that would only result in her throwing an even bigger fit the next time he talked to her. Besides, he was pretty much all she had and, even if he told himself he had no reason to, he still felt guilty for leaving her to handle everything after their dad’s stroke.

“I don’t care, Mac,” he finally cut in. “Sell it. Give it away. Just leave me out of it.”

“I can’t do that,” she hissed angry. “I know you don’t care about the family name or how everything dad built up is going to the dogs but do you really want it all to end up in the hands of our favorite weasel?”

Jensen frowned. “What do you mean?”

“Haven’t you been listening to a word I said? Tom fucking Welling, Jensen! He’s walking around like he already owns the place.”

What?” Jensen sat up, anger starting to boil in his stomach. “What the hell does he think he owns?”

“Jesus Christ, Jensen, didn’t you read the files I sent you?”

Jensen eyed the unopened envelope on the kitchen table. “Sis, you send me files all the time. I’m not with the company, why the hell would I read them?”

“You still own twenty percent, bro, same as me. But now Tom claims he’s got Josh’s twenty, as well as mom’s, that dad sold them to him.”

What?” Jensen sputtered. “No fucking way. When?”

“Right before his stroke. It’s got his signature, alright. But you know dad would never have sold mom’s share out of the family. And Josh’s? Our brother hated Welling.”

“Everyone hates Tom Welling,” Jensen muttered. His mind was in turmoil. If what Mac was saying was true Welling now held forty percent of the company, making him the main shareholder. “You think he forged dad’s signature?”

“Of course he did! And it’s perfect because it’s not like dad can tell on him, being pretty much braindead.” Her voice broke over the phone and Jensen closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose.

“This is really serious,” he said slowly.

“Yes! I’ve been trying to tell you and you just… You don’t give a shit! It’s ours, it’s what dad built for us and you just don’t give a flying fuck about any of it. Fucking Broadway is more important to you than we are.”

“You know that’s not true,” he tried but there was no stopping her when she was on a roll.

“It’s been seven years, Jensen. Dad is dying. Isn’t it about time you stopped being such a stubborn ass and forgave him?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said defensive. He could practically hear her rolling her eyes. “Listen,” he hurried to add before she started in on something he really didn’t want to talk about, “we’ll have a lawyer look it over, see if there’s any chance of disputing it in court. A proper honest lawyer.”

“Yeah, good luck with that,” she snorted. “Welling owns the biggest law firm in the city. Everyone’s in his pocket.”

“Well, I’m not in your city, am I? I’ll find someone, don’t worry.”

He snapped the phone shut and closed his eyes. Fuck. He really didn’t care about the company but his sister was right. He did hate Tom Welling. And it would be a cold day in Hell before he let that man have what was rightfully theirs. His brother hadn’t worked himself to an early death with his devotion to the company only to have his share fall into the hands of someone like Welling who only cared about profits and nothing else. And damn if he was going to let Tom have his mother’s share either, even if her death had nothing to do with the company or Welling and everything with driving home drunk from a cocktail party. Which come to think of it had been at Welling’s house so…

Jensen stood up and walked to the window, looking out at the bright lights of Broadway. He had no idea where to look for a lawyer, especially not a trustworthy one. Not like they were labeled especially in the phonebook. Honest Inc. We Will Not Screw You Over! His knowledge of the criminal side of life was limited to the occasional drunken calls from Chris and Steve, telling him he should do a musical about undercover gay agents who fall in love and have lots and lots of buttsecks.

Well, if anyone would know honest people…

Jensen flipped the phone open again and scrolled through his contacts, pausing over Chris’s name before continuing down to Steve. This time of night Chris was just as likely to be either drunk or working. Either way he was better off with Steve.

“Hey, man,” Steve said. There was a sizzling sound in the background and then the unmistakable bang of a pan hitting the sink. “You coming over for dinner?”

“Still in New York, man,” Jensen said with a smile. “Dinner’s gonna be cold before I reach Washington D.C.”

“Oh. Something wrong?” Steve asked, sounding worried. “You never call unless you’re in the district.”

It wasn’t a complaint, just an observation but Jensen still felt guilty. When he’d moved out from his parents seven years ago he’d contacted his old college buddies, desperate for some company, and Chris and Steve were the only ones who’d been genuinely happy to hear from him even if they’d been seniors back when he was still a freshman. They didn’t meet often but Jensen sent them tickets to all his musicals and even if they hardly ever showed up they still lied and told him how awesome it was.

“I need a lawyer,” he said. “It’s complicated.”

“Aw, Jenny, you kill a guy?” Chris suddenly said which meant Steve must have put him on speaker. “Again?”

Jensen laughed. “Ass. No, I haven’t killed anyone. I might though if you don’t stop calling me a goddamn girl’s name.”

“I will as soon as you show me any evidence you’re not. And your dick doesn’t count. So what do you need a lawyer for? Don’t your family already have one, that vulture Welling?”

“That’s kinda the problem.” He quickly went over what Mac had told him. “I just know there’s no way dad would ever have signed those shares over to him. There has to be a loophole somewhere. I need someone who is smart and capable and won’t screw me over just because I’m a fucking Ackles. Especially since it doesn’t mean shit. I haven’t touched my dad’s money since I moved out. And now it looks like I won’t have to worry about that, if Welling has his way.”

“I told you, you should have gotten rid of that fucker years ago,” Chris huffed. “The man is a fucking criminal.”

“But you never wanted to tell me why,” Jensen said patiently. “And I couldn’t exactly give dad ‘he’s a fucking criminal’ as a reason. Not when you won’t even tell me what he’s supposedly done.”

There was silence for a while, Chris no doubt sulking while Steve was finishing up dinner.

“We might know someone,” Steve suddenly said, quickly followed by Chris hissing, “Steve!”

“Yeah?” Jensen said, frowning. “So why is Chris trying to shut you up?”

There was a mumble of hushed voices and then Chris said “Fine! Your fucking funeral, man.”

“Guys?” Jensen asked worried.

“He’s young, barely out of school, but he’s good,” Steve said. “And he’s honest. I promise he won’t screw you over.”

“He’s a corporate lawyer?”

“Well… actually he’s a civil one. But,” he hastened to add when Jensen started to protest, “I promise you, he can do it. This guy is smart, man. Trust me.”

“I do,” Jensen sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I’m just worried. I mean, you know I don’t care about the company but Mac does. And hell, I don’t want Welling getting his hands on what’s ours.”

“Someone should have put a bullet in that fucker’s brain a long time ago,” he could hear Chris mutter. “Steve, this is not a good idea. He’s gonna…”

“Chris, shut up. Listen, Jensen. I’ll call the guy, ask him to contact you. You can at least hear what he has to say.”

“Yeah, okay.” He walked over to the couch, sinking down on it. “So what have you guys been up to?”

“Oh you know,” Chris mumbled, obviously chewing. “Killing people, shooting things, the family business.”

Jensen laughed. “One day I am gonna write a musical about you two. Of course it will have to be a romantic comedy and you’ll get all the girly songs.”

“Did you miss the part about killing people?” Chris muttered. “Cos I can shoot you all the way from over here and still make it look like a suicide. I’m just sayin’.”

“You’d love it. I’m thinking the main love song can be called ‘Actually, that is a gun in my pocket.’ It will have violins and a cello.”

“I hate you.”

Jensen smiled. “I know you do.”

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“Are you insane?” Jared said incredulous. “He’ll recognize me on the spot!”

Steve sighed. “Jared, he won’t. You look nothing like you did back then.” When Jared just glared at him he added frustrated, “And for fuck’s sake, what if he does? What’s the big deal?”

Jared dropped his gaze, staring down into his coffee. “What about Welling?” he asked, avoiding the question. “What if he recognizes me? The man thinks I’m dead. Burned down with that building. If he recognizes me I’ll soon be dead!

Steve shook his head. “You were a scrawny kid he only met for a couple of hours seven years ago. Now you’re all dressed up and filled out and smell like money. No way he’ll even suspect it.”

“I haven’t changed that much,” Jared mumbled.

Steve rolled his eyes. “Are you serious? You’re a completely different person. I wouldn’t recognize you for the same guy if I hadn’t been there all the way, watching you grow up.” Steve sighed. “If you really are that worried, use a disguise. Grow a beard or put some glasses on or something.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you know, that only works if you’re Clark Kent. Steve, there is only bad here. If Welling recognizes me he’ll have me killed. And if Jensen recognizes me…” He swallowed. “I don’t want him to, ok?”

Steve held his gaze for a moment then shook his head, exasperated. “I don’t get you, man. Just because you’re hiding from Welling doesn’t mean you can’t tell Jensen who you are.”

“You’re acting like it actually matters,” Jared said tired. “Steve, why would he even care? I’m just some guy he hooked up with for one night. You said yourself he’s never brought it up. I bet he’s forgotten it ever happened.”

Steve just looked at him. “If it doesn’t matter why are you so against it?” he asked.

Jared shrugged. “I never said it didn’t matter to me.” He stood up to get away from Steve’s sympathetic look, walking over to the window to stare out over the shadowed city. “Look, I get it. He’s your friend and you want to help him. But even if there wasn’t a homicidal maniac involved… I just don’t want anything to do with that part of my life, ok?”

“Are you ashamed?” Steve asked quiet. “Seriously, Jared, is that it? Are you ashamed of who you were back then?”

“No. That’s not…” He swallowed. “Well, it’s not exactly on my CV, is it? People look at those kids and you know what they think. Doesn’t matter that I never… They’re still gonna think it.”

“So? You tell them the truth. Be a success story, something kids like that can look up to.”

“Yeah? Is that why you and Chris are out and proud at the Bureau?” Jared asked sarcastic. “Oh wait…”

Steve slapped him impatiently over the head. “Don’t give me that, man. You know if we were they’d break us up, assign us other partners. No way I’m trusting anyone else with Chris’s crazy ass.”

Jared huffed but he didn’t argue because yeah, he knew. Gay or straight, the Bureau didn’t like partners getting romantically involved. Not that he was sure the word ‘romantic’ could be used for what Chris and Steve had. Love, no doubt, but romance? He could just imagine Chris’s face if anyone so much as implied it. Which was why Jared definitely was going to, next best opportunity. Talking about Chris…

“Where is Chris anyway? Don’t tell me he bailed, letting you do all the dirty work.”

“He’s catching up on paperwork. Or, you know, having a beer and waiting until it’s safe to come home. He’ll probably be here soon though, if you want to wait.”

Jared shook his head. “Better not. I have my own paperwork to catch up on.” He sighed when Steve just looked at him expectantly. “Ok, ok. I’ll call the guy. Listen to what he has to say and offer him advice or whatever. But I’m not meeting him. If he really does need a lawyer I’ll let Misha handle it. He’s good.”

“Thank you.” Steve smiled and visibly relaxed. “I really appreciate it.”

“Yeah, you should. This is so not what I wanted to do today,” Jared muttered as he pulled his jacket on. “Or you know, ever.”

“You have to accept your past to embrace your future, man,” Steve said calmly.

“Dude, don’t Zen me,” Jared snorted. “I’m not your goddamn grasshopper.”

Steve smiled but his eyes remained serious. “No, but you’re my friend. And in many ways like my little brother so… Just think about it, ok?”

Jared looked away but then he nodded. “Yeah. Just… Don’t get your hopes up.”

Steve didn’t say anything but the smile showed he thought he’d won.

Jared paused in the doorway. “If I’m your little brother, what does that make Chad?”

Steve didn’t even hesitate. “The smelly flee-bitten monkey that followed you home and we can’t get rid off.”

Jared laughed all the way down the stairs.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
As much as Jensen wanted to think he didn’t really care that much what happened to his dad’s company, by the third day of waiting for an answer from Steve and Chris he found himself eyeing the phone, even checking it a couple of times to be sure it had a signal. His sister had so far called him three times, asking him if he was going to do something or just sit with his thumb up his ass like usual. Not having anything to throw back at her was really starting to annoy him.

When the call however did come it caught him off-guard. In fact he was sitting on his couch, wearing a t-shirt and boxer briefs, watching basketball on TV and his absentminded “Yeah?” was muffled by the chunk of pepperoni pizza in his mouth.

“Jensen Ackles?” a voice asked

Jensen swallowed down his bite with a mouthful of beer. “Yeah, that’s me.”

Silence.

“Hello?” He frowned. It wasn’t like he gave out his number to just anyone. God, he hoped it wasn’t someone he’d met drunk at a bar because that would be awkward. “I’m gonna hang up now,” he finally said. “Nice not talking to you. We should really do it again sometime.”

“Steve Carlson asked me to call you,” the voice on the other end quickly said. “About some legal problems you were having.”

Jensen sat up, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. “Oh. Yes. Great! Sorry, I just wasn’t expecting a call right now.” He waved his hand at the tableau in front of him as if the person he was talking to could actually see it. “Friday night. Pizza and beer. You know how it is.”

There was another pause. “Right.” The guy cleared his throat. “Anyway, he told me the basics but maybe you can go over them with me so I can see if there are grounds for legal action.”

“Sure!” Jensen repeated the story in pretty much the same words as he’d told Steve. “So that’s that. I mean, the documents look legal enough to me but what do I know, right? That’s why I need you.” There was no answer. If it hadn’t been for the even breathing he could hear over the phone he’d think the guy had hung up. Or maybe he’d fallen asleep. Jensen rubbed a hand over his face. “You there? I didn’t bore you to death, did I?”

“I’m here, just thinking.”

Jensen nodded and used the extended silence to eat another slice, eyes on the TV screen. His team wasn’t doing too well and as he watched they managed to fuck up yet another pass, allowing the other team to score. Again. “Oh for fuck’s sake,” he grumbled.

“I’m sorry?” the voice asked, sounding as if the guy didn’t know whether to be confused or insulted.

“Sorry. Not you. The goddamn Spurs are whopping my ass. Well, not mine, my team’s.”

There was silence for a while but then he heard a low chuckle on the other end. “Well, I’ll be damned. I forgot there was a game on tonight. Glad to know they can kick ass without me watching over them.”

Jensen groaned. “Great. Steve hooked me up with a Spurs fan? I’m gonna need to have a word with that man. Making me sleep with the enemy.”

There was another long silence and Jensen wasn’t sure whether he’d insulted the man or if he just liked leaving people waiting in suspense for every sentence.

“Can you send me the documents you have?” the voice finally asked, curt and businesslike. “I’ll need to read them over.”

“Sure. Fax or email?” Jensen wrote down the guy’s email. “Wait, I forgot to ask, what’s your name?”

There was a long pause and then the guy cleared his throat. “Padalecki. Jared Padalecki.” He spelled it for Jensen to write down.

“Thank you, Jared. I really appreciate this. I mean, I’ll pay you, of course. I just… I need someone I can trust and not to be rude or anything but all the lawyers I know are scumbags. But if Steve says you’re good then I trust you.”

“Uhm… thanks.” Jared cleared his throat again. Maybe he had a cold. “I’ll call you once I’ve gone over everything, let you know what options you’ve got.”

“Great!” Jensen leaned back on the couch, groaning when another pass went foul. “Oh man, are you watching this? Fucking tragic.” Jared didn’t answer at once but after a moment Jensen could hear a TV being turned on at the other end of the line. A low chuckle confirmed his suspicions. “You laughing at me?” he asked, faking insult.

“Are you losing? Then yeah, I guess I am.”

“Jerk.” Jensen smiled when Jared laughed. It was a nice laugh, happy. The voice was nice too, the slight Texas twang a nice addition to the otherwise non-descript accent. “Hey, where you from? Sounds like you’ve got a little bit of Texan in you.”

“Not so little,” Jared said with an obvious smirk and then they both went awkwardly quiet. “Uhm, I mean, yeah. San Antonio. I’m surprised you noticed. Haven’t been back there since I was fifteen. Thought the accent was gone by now.”

“Takes one to know one,” Jensen said with a grin. “My folks are from Dallas. Although we moved to LA when I was ten.”

“Seriously?” Jared laughed. “I had no idea.”

Jensen frowned. “Why would you? We’ve just met. Well, technically we haven’t met but you know.”

Jared was silent for a while. “Yeah,” he finally said. “I should probably get back to work.”

“It’s Friday night, dude. Sit back, relax and watch the game. I’m telling you, my boys are gonna whop your boys asses. You just wait and see.”

Jared snorted. “With five minutes to spare and fifteen points to go? Yeah, that’s gonna happen.”

“We ride on faith and fly with fortune,” Jensen said pompously and Jared laughed.

“You sound like a pastor I once knew.”

“Actually I’m a writer. Well, composer slash writer. I write musicals.” He held his breath, waiting for the usual gay joke but it didn’t come.

“I know,” Jared said instead, his voice oddly quiet. “I love your plays.”

Jensen blinked. “You’ve seen them?” Not to sell himself short or anything but he wasn’t exactly Andrew Lloyd Webber. Apart from a short magazine article last spring he was lucky to get mentioned in the paper at all.

“Yeah. Haven’t missed one.”

He sounded forlorn and Jensen straightened up, feeling like he was missing something. “I’m sorry but should I know you? Were we in school together or something? I mean, not even my sister has seen more than two.”

Jared laughed softly. “Nah,” he said. “I’m just a fan.”

“Oh. Uhm…” He didn’t know what to say. “Don’t think I’ve ever met a fan before.”

“Technically we haven’t met,” Jared reminded him.

There was something odd about the way he said that but Jensen couldn’t really put his finger on it. “Well, consider yourself invited to all my musicals from now on,” he said lightly. “Even the one I won’t let my sister see.”

“Why’s that? Too much violence?” Jared asked, sounding genuinely interested.

“More like too much nudity.” Jensen laughed, feeling awkward. “Imagine Moulin Rogue but with gay strippers and more strategically placed feathers.”

“Ah.” Jared chuckled. “Well, that one I’ll definitely have to see.”

Jensen could feel his face splitting into a grin. He knew it. “Yeah?”

“Oh yeah.”

Were they flirting? It felt like they were flirting. Which was weird because he didn’t even know what the guy looked like. He could be five feet tall, three hundred pounds and sporting a pornstache for all he knew. Not that Jensen considered himself shallow but jeez, there were limits. Jared didn’t sound like an obese German midget though. In fact he sounded tall. And hot. And definitely interested.

“Let me know next time you’re in town and I’ll let you watch a rehearsal. Or hey, if you decide to take the case, you’ll be coming here anyway, right?”

There was silence for a long time but then Jared sucked in his breath. “Yeah. I’d like that. Thank you.”

“Sure.”

“I have to go. It was nice… I mean…” Jared coughed. “I’ll call you. About the case.”

“Thanks.” Jensen wiped his palm on his jeans, strangely nervous all of a sudden. “That would be… yeah. Great.”

Jared hung up, leaving Jensen feeling oddly at loss. The game was over two minutes later but he didn’t even notice the score. He sat staring into space for a long time, thinking of Jared’s voice, his laugh and the constant silences, as if the man needed to calculate his words before uttering them out loud. Jensen couldn’t help wondering why that might be. Finally he jerked awake, shaking his head over his own weirdness and got up to put the rest of the pizza away. Then he grabbed another beer and returned to his laptop. The fact that Googling Jared Padalecki didn’t pull up anything only left him more intrigued.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“What happened to the Misha plan, man? That was a good plan. This? This is a bad plan. A suicidal plan. This is a plan that can actually get you killed! That’s what I call a bad plan of fucking gigantic proportions!” Chad waved his hands angry, indicating just how much of a mistake he thought Jared was making and almost smacking him in the face in the process.

Jared leaned against the kitchen counter, pinching the bridge of his nose. He knew he should have kept his mouth shut. Should have just made up some story to explain why he was leaving for the airport with an overnight case at such a short notice. Not like he didn’t know how touchy Chad was on the whole Ackles issue. In seven years he’d refused to even step a foot in LA and whenever Jared mentioned that night Chad went completely silent and just glared at Jared for daring to bring it up.

“Dude, you can not do this!” Chad continued. “What part of suicidal don’t you get?”

“Will you stop bitching and just listen to me for five seconds?” Jared said exasperated. “I want to do this, ok? I want…”

Chad rolled his eyes. “You want another chance at boning Jensen Ackles,” he spit out as he violently opened the fridge, getting out a bottle of beer before slamming the door shut again.

Jared flinched. “Chad! Will you just…

“Jared!” Chad growled frustrated, twitching the cap off his beer. “Remember the big scary fucker that was planning on selling us as sex slaves? He’s the guy you’ll be going up against if it comes to anything. And as for Ackles… I’m still not hundred percent sure he didn’t have anything to do with the whole thing.” He raised the bottle and gulped down half its content. Apparently he’d decided drunk was the way to go even if it was eight o’clock on a Thursday morning.

Jared clenched his jaw. “Chad, shut up. The guy’s a frigging Broadway composer, ok? He writes musicals with people dancing and singing. Singing! That sound like a sex-slaving maniac to you?”

Chad paused. “Actually,” he said with a frown, “I’d say that proves my point. You can not do that shit without being at least a little bit insane.”

“You should know,” Jared bit back, feeling triumphant when Chad blushed. He’d never live that attempt at poetry down. Seriously, who rhymes ‘mine’ with ‘vagina’?

“Look,” he continued before Chad started yelling again. “I’m going. I need to talk the case over with Jensen and I can’t do it properly over the phone.”

“Misha…” Chad began but Jared shook his head, shutting him up.

“Misha has enough on his plate,” he said, taking a last gulp of his coffee before putting the mug away in the sink. He didn’t add that Misha was also funny, good looking and on the rebound from a bad break up and that even though Jared wasn’t going to get into anything with Jensen himself it didn’t mean he had any interest in pushing attractive men in Jensen’s lap.

By the look Chad was giving him he didn’t have to.

“You’re not gonna listen to me, are you?” Chad said, the most of his anger now replaced by worried resignation.

“I’m going,” Jared said firmly, shouldering his briefcase and picking up his bag. “So, no.”

Chad sighed. “Fucking idiot. I hate you.”

Jared gave him a small smile. “I know,” he said and gave Chad a pat on the back. “I hate you too.”

“Just promise me you’ll stay clear of Welling,” Chad said, following him out of the apartment and to the elevator. “And if Ackles recognizes you… Have a cover story ready, ok? One that doesn’t involve how we stole half a million dollars from the man that’s trying to rip him off.”

“Technically we didn’t steal it,” Jared pointed out. “It was handed to us. By the FBI.”

Chad rolled his eyes. “It was handed to us by a member of the FBI who wanted to thank us for saving his boyfriend’s ass. And who’d get his own ass handed to him on a stick if the FBI found out. You’re not exactly selling your case here, pal. And I thought you were supposed to be the slick lawyer.”

“Shut up,” Jared muttered. “I’ll just tell him I reconciled with my family and then inherited a lot of money.”

Chad shook his head. “How did you ever survive law school? Your cover stories suck.”

Jared didn’t answer. He wouldn’t need a cover story anyway. It was just going to be a short meeting, nothing... intimate. Just to make sure Jensen knew what he was going up against if he decided to fight Welling’s claims. And even if they had met one night a billion years ago there was no way Jensen would recognize him. It had been dark and he’d been a different person back then. Completely different.

He stared at himself in the mirror in the elevator on the way down and saw very little trace of the boy he’d been that night. He was taller, bigger, stronger in every way. His gaunt face had been replaced by strong jaws and high cheekbones, and his eyes had mostly lost the wary look they used to hold. Underneath the expensive clothes he packed muscles and strength that the boy had only dreamed of back then, trapped in the awkward gangly body of an undernourished teenager. He stood up straighter, moved with more confidence, talked in evidence of his education. Hell, his mother wouldn’t even recognise him if she were still alive so why would Jensen?

The flight was unremarkable. He spent most of it going over his files, planning potential strategies and trying not to think of Jensen. Which wasn’t easy considering his last name kept popping up everywhere on the papers in front of him.

He’d caught a glimpse of Jensen once, at the opening night to one of his musicals. He’d stood in the shadows, watching Jensen smile and nod and blush under the words of praise he was receiving, a bouquet of flowers resting awkwardly in his arms. The urge to go forward and talk to him had been so strong that Jared had hastily slipped away. He’d stayed away from opening nights ever since.

His obsession with Jensen’s musicals had started completely by accident. He’d been in New York for a job interview, taking a walk down Broadway in an attempt to calm his nerves the night before, when a poster for a new musical, Marc’s Holiday, had caught his eye, the name Jensen Ackles displayed on top hitting him like a punch to the chest.

It was being shown in a small theatre known for its experimental plays and support for young and aspiring writers and Jared had slipped in just as they were about to close the doors. He’d sat mesmerized for two hours, thinking ‘Jensen wrote this, these are his words, his songs.’ Remembering Jensen’s shy smile when he talked about his dreams for the future, clearly not believing he would ever follow them. But he had. Sure it wasn’t the big Broadway stages, not yet, but he’d get there, Jared was sure of that.

He’d found himself following the entertainment news religiously after that and when a new musical by Jensen Ackles was announced in a small advert on one of the back pages he’d bought a ticket and driven down to see it. And the one after that and the one after that until he had a collection of programs with Jensen’s name on the front. He’d never told Chad about those trips, never told anyone really, but he thought maybe both Steve and Chris knew. They hadn’t mentioned it but more than once when he’d come over for dinner he’d found the paper with the theatre section turned up, Jensen’s name in small but clear letters screaming up at him.

 

Jared stopped by the hotel, changing out of his clothes that stank of plane fuel and the strong perfume of the woman that had sat next to him. He’d spent a ridiculous amount of time planning what to pack and still now when he looked at his selection none of it seemed adequate. He wasn’t sure whether it was because he wanted to dazzle Jensen with a fashionable first impression or if he was afraid even the hint of a bad choice might remind Jensen of a boy in baggy and ratty clothes. Most of all he wished he could just put on some jeans, a t-shirt and a hoodie and his favorite flip-flops.

With a sigh he chose a pink striped shirt and a grey suit that looked more expensive than it actually was. The light grey tie and the shiny black shoes completed the outfit. He looked like a lawyer, the kind that was honest and sympathetic but still tough where it counted. That’s what the girl in the shop had told him anyway. Jared thought he looked more like a pompous frat boy but whatever. Even after years of law school and internships and now finally being his own man he still felt weird in a monkey suit.

He took a deep breath and smiled confidently at himself in the mirror before grabbing his briefcase and walking out. It was going to be fine. Just a business meeting between two strangers, that was all.

Never mind that they’d been talking on the phone almost every night the last week - mostly about things that had very little to do with the case – and that every time Jared had to hang up he’d wanted to redial, just to be able to listen to Jensen’s voice for a little while longer.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Angelo was being an ass. That was Jensen’s excuse. The guy was supposed to be big and strong and heroic but every time he opened his mouth to sing, what came out were lyrics that sounded like they’d been written by a twelve-year-old anime addict. Jensen groaned, pulling off his glasses to rub at his eyes before putting them on again, determined to somehow turn his six feet five High School Musical wannabe into a proper manly gay stripper. Just as he was about to delete the last page of crap he glanced at the timer at the corner of the laptop and froze.

The clock blinked 12:05. He was supposed to meet Jared five minutes ago. On the other side of town.

Fuck.

He jumped to his feet and grabbed his jacket and keys, hurrying to the door. It wasn’t until he was halfway across town, sitting in the cab he’d desperately hauled down, that he realized he was wearing his ratty RENT t-shirt, the jeans his sister had threatened to set on fire if she ever saw him wearing them again and the sneakers that had once looked trendy but that was before he’d worn them to help Chris and Steve paint their new apartment. They now sported yellow and blue polka dots and even if a more fashionable guy might have pulled it off as the newest look he very much doubted it worked for him.

For a moment he contemplated calling Jared, suggesting they’d meet at his place instead. That would give him time to go back and change, maybe even shower. He was pretty sure he still smelled of last night’s nicotine marathon. (So he smoked when stressed. So what? Shut up.) Even if he’d changed clothes his hair probably reeked of it. Not that he thought Jared would actually sniff his hair...

But Jared had just traveled all the way from Washington DC for this meeting. Asking him to relocate from the restaurant he was undoubtedly already sitting at, getting more and more annoyed the later the time got without Jensen showing up… Well, it didn’t sound like a good idea. And besides, asking the guy home on the first… ok, not date. Meeting. Whatever. It would come of as way too presumptuous. And kinda slutty.

Jensen shifted awkwardly in his seat, willing the cab to go faster. Ok, so Jared’s voice kinda got to him. In an I’d-definitely-hit-that kinda way. He tried to suppress his expectations, thinking of all the old jokes about sex operators actually being sixty-year-old obese grandmas with hairy armpits. A voice could be misconceiving. Jared was most definitely not a sixty-year-old hairy grandma but everything else was up for grabs. God, he really hoped Jared wasn’t really a fat mustached midget. Especially considering Jensen had been flirting like mad with him every single time they talked on the phone. And he thought maybe Jared had been flirting back. Possibly.

He was so absorbed in his thoughts he didn’t notice they were already there until the cab suddenly pulled up to the curb and stopped. Jensen hastily paid the driver and got out of the cab. Checking his reflection in the restaurant’s shiny window he nervously ran his palms down the front of his t-shirt trying to iron out the worst creases. Not that anything he did could save him from looking like a fashion reject. Taking a deep breath he squared his shoulders and pushed open the door.

It wasn’t until he got in and looked over the numerous occupied tables that he realized that 1) the restaurant obviously had a jacket and tie requirement and 2) it being so early in the day he hadn’t bothered making a reservation, which clearly had been a big mistake. He couldn’t see a single free table. Or one being occupied by what looked like a lawyer named Jared. (On a plus side he didn’t see any obese midgets either. Yet.)

“I’m sorry, sir, but we have a dress code,” a pompous voice said to his right and when he turned around he was met with the kind of stuck up look that would have fitted perfectly on the face of Angelo’s father’s butler. Jensen filed that idea away for later and offered the man a small smile.

“Yeah, I just realized that. I was running late and… Doesn’t matter.” He frowned, rubbing his index finger at the side of his nose as he tried to think up a strategy. “I am supposed to meet someone here. A Jared Padalecki?”

The man raised one eyebrow. “In that case I suggest you come with me, sir.” He turned on his heel and Jensen followed him reluctantly to the cloakroom where he was handed a shirt and a tie. The shirt was yellow and the tie was pink with blue stripes. He stared at them in horror and then back at the waiter who didn’t even blink.

“You’re kidding, right?” Jensen said. “I can’t wear this.”

The lips got even thinner. “Your choice, sir. You wish for me to go tell Mr. Padalecki to meet you outside? If he hasn’t left already.”

Jensen followed his glance to the clock up on the wall. It showed 12:25. Shit.

“Alright. Give it here.” He took off his jacket and put the shirt on over his t-shirt, then hastily fastened the tie as best he could. “Satisfied?”

The waiter’s nose twitched. “Not the word I would use but it will do.”

Jensen resisted the urge to stick out his tongue at the man’s retreating back. This was already the worst date… uhm… meeting he’d ever had and he still hadn’t even met the guy.

He followed the waiter into the restaurant, nervously fiddling with the tie, trying to make it hang straight. Looking up a quarter of a second too late he walked straight into the waiter, hitting his nose on the back of the gelled head and crushing his glasses against his own forehead.

“Motherfucking ow!”

The man turned around and glared at him. “Your date, sir,” he said coldly then turned on his heel and stalked away, leaving Jensen clutching his nose and blinking tears out of his blurry eyes.

“You okay?”

Jensen stilled. He’d recognize that voice anywhere. He fumbled for his glasses that still hung from one ear and tried to put them back on but they were awkwardly bent and he found himself looking through skewed and smudgy lenses at the blurry image of two catlike hazel eyes, watching him with concern.

“Jared?” he asked, slightly nasal since he was still pinching his nose in hope that it wasn’t bleeding.

The eyes turned even more slanted and now Jensen took in a wide smile, a rather big nose and brown hair slicked back above a high forehead. For a moment the smile reminded him of someone else and he lowered the glasses as his own smile faltered slightly, the sting in his heart just as sharp now as seven years ago.

“That would be me,” Jared said and stuck out his hand in greeting. Jensen hesitated for a moment before deciding to give up on the glasses. He shoved them into the pocket of his jacket and took Jared’s outstretched hand, shaking it.

“Hi, uhm… Jensen. Jensen Ackles,” he said. His cheeks burned but at least his nose had stopped hurting and when he slowly let go of it everything stayed dry and blood free. Thank god for small favors. “This was not how I imagined this meeting going,” he added, in case Jared thought he was always such a klutz.

Jared laughed, low and rumbling. “Well, let’s just say the show was worth the wait.”

Jensen blushed even further. “Fuck, I’m so sorry about that. I was writing and…” He waved his hand lamely, trying to convey the whole fucking disaster in one awkward gesture.

“Don’t worry about it.” Jared pulled a stool from the bar where he’d been sitting. “Sit down. Breathe. Have a drink of water.”

Jensen sat down grateful and reached blindly for the glass, only to knock it over and within seconds his jeans were soaked through. He jumped up, knocking over the chair and almost falling over in the process. “Shit!”

“This is not your day, is it?” Jared laughed. “Here let me.”

Jensen could only stand there mortified as Jared patted him down with a handkerchief, trying to soak up some of the wetness from his jeans. “I’m sorry. Fuck. I can’t see anything without my glasses.” He smiled embarrassed at the blur that was Jared.

Jared chuckled, then pulled Jensen aside as a waitress came running over to sweep up the shards of glass on the floor. “Maybe they’re fixable. Let me have a look at them.”

Jensen fished the glasses out of his pocket and handed them over. Jared hummed under his breath before shaking his head. “Yeah, you’re screwed. They’re pretty out of shape. Think if I try straightening them they might just break,” he said.

Jensen sighed and ran a hand through his hair then grimaced as he could feel it sticking up. He probably looked like a crazy person, with wild hair, squinting eyes and wearing the ugliest shirt in the world.

“I have a spare pair at home,” he said as he accepted the glasses back and put them in his pocket. “If I‘m going to be any good I need to go get them. I’m so sorry. Seriously, you’ve come all this way, I feel like a total idiot letting you wait for me. Again. I’ll pay for everything. Have a drink and I’ll try and get back as fast as I can.”

Jared laughed. “Dude, stop. I’ll come with you. I mean, have you seen the menu?” He leaned over lowering his voice. “I’d rather not eat food I can’t pronounce.”

Jensen quirked one eyebrow at him. “Did you miss the part about me being blind as a bat? I haven’t even seen you yet.”

“See? There’s a bright side to anything if you just look for it,” Jared said cheerfully, then paused. “Uhm, not that I’m trying to make blind jokes or anything.”

Jensen couldn’t help laughing. “Relax, I’m not the PC police. You don’t mind? There’s a nice coffeehouse close to my apartment that we could go to instead. They do great waffles.”

“Sounds good. Lead the way!” Jared stopped again. “Uhm… I mean, need a hand?”

“I think I can manage,” Jensen said and turned around, promptly tripping over a woman’s purse. Jared caught him at the last minute and for a second they just stood there breathing before Jared started chuckling.

“How about I guide you until we get to more open space? Plenty of people and purses to trip over here.”

“So not how I pictured this happening,” Jensen muttered but let Jared escort him to the reception area. “Oh wait,” he said as they were about to head out. He slipped off his jacket and handed it to Jared, then tugged off the tie and quickly unbuttoned the shirt.

“Your coffeehouse is a strip club?” Jared asked amused.

Jensen laughed but he could feel his face go hot. “I didn’t know there was a dress code. That prissy waiter made me wear this.” He stood with the shirt and tie in his hand, unsure where to put them. “Do you see the jerk anywhere?”

“I’ll take that,” a familiar pompous voice said right by his ear, making him jump. The clothes were snagged out of his hand with a cold, “Have a good day, sir,” and then the door was opened, showing them out.

“That sounded sincere,” Jared joked as they stood on the sidewalk, a little awkward. “You must be his favorite customer.”

Jensen snorted. “I am now. Can you haul a cab?” He put his jacket on as Jared stepped to the side of the curb, waving one down. After telling the driver his address Jensen leaned back in his seat, sighing. “I’m really sorry about all of this. I’m not usually this disorganized. Or badly dressed.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Jared shifted by his side. Even if Jensen couldn’t really see him too clearly he saw enough to know Jared was definitely not a fat midget. In fact he was even taller than Jensen himself and if the grip of his handshake was anything to go by he had the body to go with it. “And I like your clothes. They suit you.”

Jensen really wished he could see if Jared was making fun of him. “Well, they’re comfy,” he said awkwardly. “I was writing so… Uhm, I already told you that.”

Jared turned to look at him. “Is this the gay stripper Moulin Rogue musical you told me about?”

Jensen nodded, feeling even more awkward. Talking about gay strippers over the phone was a little different than doing it in person. Especially when you couldn’t see if the guy you were talking to was interested in the stripper or the gay part. All the times they’d talked on the phone it had felt like they were flirting but now, with Jared by his side, Jensen wasn’t sure anymore. His gaydar wasn’t pinging but then again he couldn’t really see anything so…

The cab came to a halt and he blindly pulled out some bills but Jared put a hand on his arm, stopping him. “I’ve got it,” he said and when Jensen tried to protest he added patiently, “You can pay for lunch. Be warned, I eat a lot.”

“I can imagine,” Jensen said with a laugh.

Once they were inside the elevator he started to relax. He hated being outside without his glasses or contacts. It felt like walking through a thick fog where all he could see where blurs of colors and indistinct shapes. As they got into the apartment he told Jared to make himself at home in the living room while he changed his still damp clothes and put in his contacts.

He didn’t realize his mistake until he got back – now wearing dry and not quite as ratty jeans and a black shirt that was more or less wrinkle free – and saw Jared standing by the bookshelves. Probably since the only spot on the couch that wasn’t covered in sheet music and printouts was occupied by Jensen’s guitar. His pj pants were still draped over the easy chair where he’d left them this morning, his coffee mug stood on the sofa table amidst rings of spilled coffee and there was half a slice of toast with honey resting on a plate on the floor. In short, his apartment was more of a mess than he’d been.

Jensen stood for a moment, wondering what excuse he could come up with for being such a slob and finding none. He was a guy, that was the reason he usually gave Mac when she bitched about his lack of housekeeping. Looking at Jared he realized that wouldn’t really fly, considering that guy looked like he just stepped out of GQ’s fashion spread. He had his back turned but that only meant Jensen could better appreciate the perfectly tailored suit on those broad shoulders and the way the pants hugged a nicely shaped ass.

Jensen looked down at his own clothes, swallowed, and was about to turn back to try and find something a little more grown up and a little less college to wear when he saw that Jared was holding a picture frame in his hand, studying it with a forlorn look on his face. It was a picture of Jensen and Mac, taken a couple of years after he left home and after his sister had finally returned from the bitchiness of Teenland. Well, mostly. Anyway, they were actually smiling for once. Her arm was looped around Jensen’s neck and she was pretending to bite his cheek.

“That’s Mac, my sister,” Jensen said, to make sure there was no misunderstanding.

Jared jumped slightly and put the picture hastily away before turning around. Jensen blinked. Oh wow.

“I can see you,” he said stupidly, staring mesmerized at what had to be one of the most attractive men he’d ever met. Tall and muscular with a strong handsome face and hazel eyes that were now watching him startled, almost scared. Jensen felt his face go red. Shit. Way to be subtle, he told himself. Why don’t you just whip it out and start singing We Are Family?

“I mean… uhm…” he stammered. “I put my contacts in.”

Jared nodded, still looking wary as if he was waiting for Jensen to do something bad. Like hit on him. Jensen swallowed down his disappointment. Right. Not interested then. He didn’t really know how to adjust to that. He’d been so sure…

He finally stepped forward, sticking out his hand. “How about we start over? Hi, I’m Jensen Ackles.”

Jared hesitated then visibly relaxed and took his hand, long fingers clutching it tight. “Jared Padalecki. Nice to meet you.” He smiled and something clenched in Jensen’s chest. Damn, he would have loved to kiss that mouth.

“Right,” he said briskly and stepped back. “Shall we?” He paused. “Or maybe you want to talk first and eat later?” His stomach chose that exact moment to rumble loudly, reminding him that he hadn’t eaten anything, except a bite of the aforementioned toast, since sometime early last night.

“I’d say we eat first,” Jared said with a small smile, his eyes twinkling in amusement.

Jensen bit his lip to keep from smiling back since it was sure to give his feelings away. “C’mon, it’s just around the corner.” He grabbed a jacket and his keys and they let themselves out of the apartment.

“I like your place,” Jared said conversationally as they waited for the elevator. “Feels creative.”

Jensen snorted. “You mean it’s messy. It’s okay, you can say it.” The elevator pinged open and they stepped inside. “My sister says I’m a disgrace to my kind,” Jensen continued. “According to her being gay should automatically mean you’re a neat freak.” There was no answer and when he looked up he found Jared watching him, a strange expression on his face. “What?”

Jared seemed to hesitate but then he shook his head, shifting slightly away. “Nothing,” he said, lips pinched thin.

Jensen clenched his jaw. Ok, so he’d really read the guy wrong. “Right.” He turned away, trying to let it go but he just couldn’t keep quiet. “You know, it’s not actually contagious, no matter what your mom says,” he said sarcastically, still staring at the door.

Jared looked at him startled. “What? No, I didn’t…” He stopped, his cheeks flushed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it like that.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Jensen said coolly, stepping out of the elevator as it opened.

“No, wait. Jensen…” Jared grabbed his arm, turning him around. “Dude, seriously, I did not mean it like that. I’m not…” He laughed a little, face flushed. “I’m not homophobic, man.”

Jensen sighed. “Look, don’t worry about it. I’m sure you’re a nice guy…”

“I was the leader for our GLBT campus group for two years,” Jared said patiently and Jensen’s mouth snapped shut. “So I’m not likely to judge you for being gay.”

“Oh.” Jensen blinked. “I’m sorry, you just seemed…” He laughed, feeling embarrassed. “Uncomfortable? I don’t know.”

Jared nodded, a concerned frown between his eyebrows. “I wasn’t. Not about that. It’s…” He paused. “I thought you were bi? I mean, you’ve dated women, right?”

Jensen frowned, confused. “Uhm… not for years. How do you…?” He stopped then smiled warily. “So when you said you were a fan, you meant the stalkery, binocular wearing, panty sniffing kind?”

Jared’s eyes widened. “What? No! I just… There was… I wasn’t…” His face flushed deep red and Jensen would have laughed if he wasn’t feeling so guarded. “I read up on your family. For the case I mean. There was a blurb about you being engaged to marry into the Krupka family.”

“Oh.” Jensen laughed. “I just keep jumping to rude conclusions, don’t I? Sorry. For the record,” he added, “we were never engaged. You should check your sources.”

Jared smiled. “I never said I believed it.”

Jensen glanced at him surprised but when Jared didn’t offer anything else he shrugged and kept on walking toward the coffeehouse, Jared falling easily into step beside him.

Ok, so maybe Jared was… Jensen stopped himself. He wasn’t going to get his hopes up for ‘interested’ again. But at least he now knew he hadn’t been wrong about Jared leaning at least a little bit to the queer side. So the big question was, why had he reacted like that to what Jensen couldn’t even classify as a come on? It had been more of an I’m-staring-stupidly-at-you-because-you’re-scorching-hot thing which he was sure Jared got all the time and unless something really drastic had happened since the last time Jensen looked in the mirror he wasn’t that repulsive.

“So,” he said casually. “Leader, huh? Which letter?”

Jared faltered in his steps. “Excuse me?”

“Well, I assume it wasn’t L, unless you’re hiding some very flat boobs under that suit. And don’t get me wrong but you don’t really look like a T so…”

“Oh that.” Jared chuckled. “G. Definitely G.”

Jensen nodded. “Hmm. Active and all?”

“What?”

“Out. Dating. You know, embracing the capital with your gayness.” Jensen waved his hand for emphasis, hoping he didn’t look as stupid as he felt.

“Are you asking if I’m on the market?” Jared asked, clearly trying to contain his laughter.

“No! Jeez. How lame do you think I am?” Jensen huffed, his face hot. He rolled his eyes when Jared just smiled at him. “Ok, are you?”

The smile brightened. “I’m single. And you?”

“Right now?” Jensen asked, arching one eyebrow. “Or do you mean in general? Because…yeah. Pretty much.”

“In general?” Jared laughed. “What, you don’t date?”

“Not really, no.” Jensen shrugged. “I mean, I’d love to it’s just… Composing isn’t really a team sport. It’s hard to meet people when you’re stuck in your apartment all day.”

“Huh,” Jared said thoughtful. “I thought Broadway was like the Mecca of homosexuality. All gay all the time.”

“Oh God, you’re a fan of The Producers?” Jensen groaned. “I swear, that movie is about as historically accurate as every Disney movie ever made.”

“Uhm… it’s bad?” Jared asked, seeming confused.

“Are you kidding me? It’s fucking fantastic. I’ve seen it fifteen times.” Jensen sighed dramatically. “I’d so bone that blond Nazi.”

Jared threw back his head and laughed. Jensen beamed. Maybe he had a chance after all.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“So that’s pretty much it. Unless we can prove that your father’s signature is false, Welling’s claims stand. But,” Jared hurried to add when Jensen’s head dropped to the table in frustration, rattling the empty cup of coffee on its saucer, “if it is a forgery then it has to be a damn good one to be authenticated by an analyst. So that’s our next step, getting an expert to take a look at it.”

He swallowed when Jensen raised his head and gazed at him with hopeful eyes. Damn, those eyes. They had the same effect on him now as they’d had seven years ago. Hell, everything about Jensen, his eyes, his smile, his laughter... It was like being thrown back to that night and Jared had to remind himself he wasn’t that boy anymore. That they were both different people now and getting too close to Jensen, no matter how much he wanted to, was a very bad idea.

His first thought when he saw Jensen in that awfully pompous restaurant had been, “What is he wearing?” His next had been, “Oh wow, he really wasn’t kidding about the freckles.” And then it all turned into the kind of farce Jensen’s musicals were known for. In all the chaos Jared had forgotten why he was there and that Jensen didn’t really know who he was. It had felt like they were old friends meeting up, joking and talking as if they’d known each other forever.

Wasn’t until he stood waiting in Jensen’s living room and looked around that reality came crashing down on him. Like the fact that he was, for all purposes, a fraud. Yes, he was actually a lawyer. Yes, he was there to try and help Jensen keep his father’s company from falling into the hands of a criminal. Those were truths that he had managed to convince himself were all that mattered. And maybe they would have if he was only there to do his job and then disappear from Jensen’s life again. But standing there, looking at pictures of Jensen with his family and seeing evidence of his daily if somewhat chaotic life in every detail of the room, Jared couldn’t lie to himself anymore.

The real truth was that he’d taken the case because even after seven years of absence Jensen still starred in most of his erotic dreams. And talking to Jensen on the phone had brought back memories of a time he should have wanted to forget but instead found himself missing. Not the loneliness or the hunger or the cold, but the honesty of knowing who he was and not caring what other people saw in him. Something he didn’t have the luxury of anymore.

Because Steve was right. Somehow during his years of hiding from Welling he’d started to hide from himself. Not just his identity but the sense of self worth he’d felt back then. Instead of seeing his years of living on the streets as something he’d gone through and proudly overcome, he started to see it as something to be ashamed of because he knew what people would think if he told them. JT wouldn’t have cared what anyone thought but Jared Padalecki did. And he found himself caring more than he should what Jensen would think. After all Jared had blown him so what reason had Jensen to believe he hadn’t done it to every other guy he’d met on the streets?

So when he’d turned around and seen Jensen staring at him wide-eyed he’d frozen in panic, sure he’d been caught in his lie. Wasn’t until their brief quarrel in the elevator that he realized they’d totally misunderstood each other. It would have been funny if he hadn’t felt so relieved that his secret was still safe. And ashamed that it mattered so much.

They’d gone back to their easy flirting after that, since yes, he could admit it to himself now that that’s all they had been doing since that very first phone call a week ago. It felt easy and natural and he hadn’t felt so connected to a person for a very long time. Like say, seven years. Throughout lunch he had to remind himself that they weren’t on a date, that this was a business meeting. And that however much he wanted to he couldn’t get emotionally involved with Jensen, not if he wanted to keep his past hidden. Because Chad was right, he was a horrible liar and all it would take were a few questions from Jensen and he’d be spilling everything.

“Jared? Are you with me?”

Jared blinked to find Jensen watching him, looking like he wasn’t sure whether to be concerned or amused.

“I’m sorry. I was just thinking. About the case,” he added, just to be on the safe side.

“You really think we have one?” Jensen asked, suddenly serious.

“I think we might be able to present one if we gather enough evidence. But it’s not going to be easy. You’re sure this is what you want to do?”

Jensen looked hesitant for a moment but then he nodded. “You know, I don’t really care about the company. Never have. Now that mom and Josh are gone and dad is… well, he’s not really here anymore, I even care less. But Mac cares. And it’s Welling who is… I don’t know. He’s always felt wrong somehow. I don’t think he’s a good person.”

Jared looked down. “Yeah,” he said, thinking ‘You have no idea.’

“When are you flying back?” Jensen suddenly asked.

The hope in his voice made Jared’s heart clench. He should say he had to get back right away, that he had a flight booked in only a couple of hours. Instead he found himself truthfully answering, “Early tomorrow morning. I hate flying back and forth the same day.”

“I hear ya,” Jensen said. “Personally I prefer driving. I have friends in New York,” he added then smiled. “But you knew that. Steve Carlson, the guy who called you.”

“Right, Steve.” Jared hesitated but however little contact they were bound to have chances were Steve or Chris would spill the beans anyway that they knew him. “He’s a good guy. Him and Chris.”

Jensen looked at him surprised. “You’re all friends?”

Jared wasn’t sure how to response to that. Yes, they were his friends but they were also so much more. “Well, yeah. I guess. We met through… work.” Well, that was true, in a way.

“Of course,” Jensen said and smiled. “You know, we’ve been talking way too much about me. What about you? You said you were originally from San Antonio?”

Jared swallowed. “Yeah. That was a long time ago though.” He looked down. “I don’t have any family there anymore.”

“Me neither. In Richardson, I mean. Well, some distinct relatives probably but no one close, you know.” Jensen stirred his coffee absentmindedly even if it had to be cold by now. “So did you always want to be a lawyer?”

Jared laughed. “Actually I wanted to be a vet.”

Jensen’s head snapped up. “What?”

“I know,” Jared said and shook his head, smiling. “Vet, lawyer... it’s not exactly on the same page. But I always loved animals. Especially dogs.”

“You have any yourself?” Jensen asked. He was studying Jared and Jared wondered what he was thinking.

“No, not yet. I need a better place. I still live with a roommate and I barely have him housetrained so…” He grinned but Jensen just looked at him strangely. “But I’d love to have one, definitely.”

“Hmm.” Jensen nodded then gave him a small smile. “You ready to get out of here? I could show you the seedier side of Broadway.”

“I’d love to,” Jared said and followed Jensen out of the coffeehouse and into the afternoon buzz of New York.

They sat in on part of a rehearsal at one of Jensen’s friend’s plays. A woman named Samantha who kept calling Jensen boy and scold him for not being around enough.

“Drinks on Friday,” she said and just looked at him sternly when he tried to object. It was kinda funny the way Jensen folded under her glare but when Jared tried to tease him about it Jensen just smiled and said, “She’s the mother I wish I had.”

Jared nodded in understanding, suddenly missing his own mother more than he had in years.

They stopped to get coffee and then strolled through the park, chatting idly about music and movies and whatever else came to mind. Every time they got too close to Jared’s personal life he managed to shift their talk to something else. He hoped Jensen didn’t notice but considering the contemplative glances Jensen kept giving him he thought he was being way too optimistic.

“I’m sorry,” Jensen said as they sat on a bench, watching a couple of swans fight over a piece of bread. “I’ve been keeping you all day. I’m sure you had some plans of your own, things to do while you were here.”

Jared shook his head. “Not really. I needed a day away from work. It’s been hectic.”

“Yeah?” Jensen glanced at him. “The firm ride you hard?”

“Well, I’m the firm so… yeah.”

“You have your own firm?” Jensen straightened up as he turned to look at Jared intrigued. “Wow.”

“Not really a firm. Just me and a couple of others.” He shrugged. “I started out at one of those big ones but it wasn’t for me. Some of the cases they made me take… they felt wrong, you know? And I hated that, that I didn’t have any choice. So I quit and started my own.”

“Wow,” Jensen repeated. “Can’t have been easy. I mean, the money alone…”

Jared stilled. Fuck. “I’m good at investing.” Well, that was true. “I inherited some money in college and by the time I started the firm I had a nice sum saved up.” Not quite as true but Jensen didn’t need to know that.

“It’s impressive,” Jensen said. “Everything about you sort of is.” He looked at Jared and smiled hesitantly. “That was a come on, in case you were wondering.”

Jared swallowed. “Jensen…”

Jensen looked away and when he raised his head again the smile had gone polite and a lot less genuine. “Just thought I’d give it a shot. Don’t worry about it.”

“I just…” He didn’t know what to say. “We don’t even live in the same city,” he finally tried.

“No, you’re right,” Jensen said and stood up. “Forget I mentioned it.”

Jared got up as well and for a moment they stood there, awkward, Jensen staring down at his feet and Jared watching him sadly. It was stupid how much it hurt, turning Jensen down. They didn’t really know each other – Jensen didn’t even know who Jared really was – but it felt like they did. It felt like this was something he should reach out for. If he just wasn’t so scared. “Jensen, I…”

“Jared, it’s okay.” Jensen looked up and this time the smile was real. “Hey, cheer up. You’re still my favorite lawyer.”

Jared snorted. “Well, duh. All the other lawyers you know are scumbags. You told me so yourself.”

Jensen frowned then smirked. “You’re my favorite lawyer, including the entire cast of Boston Legal. And I love that show.”

“Oh well, in that case,” Jared said, grinning. “Compliment accepted. And you’re definitely my favorite musical composer including…” He frowned. “I can’t think of anyone.”

Jensen ducked his head, his shoulders shaking with soft laughter before looking up, serious again. “I had a great day. Thank you. I really needed a day off. To just get out of the apartment.” He rubbed at the back of his neck, smiling awkwardly. “That’s the thing about working at home, you’re always working. Even when you’re watching TV or whatever, the work is always there, calling you back.”

“Yeah.” Jared nodded, trying to find something to say that didn’t sound gloomy. This felt like goodbye. Even if they were bound to talk again about the case it wouldn’t be the same. “I had a great day too. Next time you come to Washington…”

“Yeah, definitely,” Jensen said, that same polite smile back. “And I’ll call you about the authentication thing. For the signature, I mean.”

“Yeah, please do.”

They fell quiet, Jensen with his hands stuffed into his pockets and head lowered, Jared feeling stiff and awkward in his suit and unable to take his eyes of Jensen’s bowed head.

“Well, I should…” he finally said and Jensen looked up, nodding solemnly. “It was nice meeting you.”

“You too.”

They shook hands and then Jensen nodded with a smile and turned away. Jared stood still, watching his retreating back, the way his shoulders slumped as he got further away and then stiffened as he shook his head, like he was annoyed with himself.

Jared sighed. It was better this way. It would never have worked, not with them living in different cities and leading such different lives. ‘Not forgetting that he doesn’t know your past and that you’re on the run from his evil lawyer,’ he reminded himself. There were too many obstacles and not enough reasons to tackle them. It was just a simple attraction, a little flirt. Not like he was in love or anything. He didn’t even know the guy.

Refusing to contemplate why he needed to convince himself so thoroughly Jared caught a cab to his hotel. The room that had seemed pleasant enough that morning suddenly felt cold and empty. He changed out of the suit and into some old jeans and a t-shirt, then flopped down on the bed, grabbing the remote and settling down to watch some mindless TV.

A few moments later he got up again and fetched his phone from the inner pocket of his jacket. He should probably call Chad, let him know what time he was coming back tomorrow. Or maybe Steve, just to let him know how everything had gone down. He fiddled with the buttons then snapped the phone shut again and put it on the nightstand. He turned up the volume on the TV instead and started flipping through the channels. William Shatner’s face popped up and Jared paused, watching Denny Crane and Alan Shore flirt shamelessly on the screen for a while. Something tightened in his chest and he turned over to the next channel, spending a few minutes watching an infomercial about some obscure cooking device. All it did was make him hungry. He checked his watch. It showed 6:30. He turned off the TV with a sigh and stood up, putting a shirt on over his t-shirt and grabbing his phone and the keys to his room. He was just feeling restless because he was hungry, that was all. A pizza and a couple of beers would fix that.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Jensen had the phone in hand and was just about to sullenly order some comfort food when there was a knock on his door. When he grumpily opened it he came face to face with a flushed Jared, smiling at him hesitantly.

“Hi,” Jared said, slightly out of breath. Jensen stared at him. “Huh, awkward. Uhm… how many times do you get to start over? One each?”

Jensen blinked but then a smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “Sounds only fair.”

“Cool.” Jared grinned widely. “Hi, I’m Jared Padalecki,” he said and stuck out his hand. “Nice to meet you.”

“Hi.” Jensen took his hand, shaking it. “Jensen Ackles.”

They stood for a moment, just smiling at each other but then Jensen caught himself and he stepped back, opening the door further. “Come on in,” he said. “I was just about to order something to eat. You hungry?”

Jared opened his mouth to answer just as his stomach rumbled loudly.

“Guess that answers that question,” Jensen said with a grin. “Pizza? I’ve got beer in the fridge.”

“Sounds perfect.”

Jared followed Jensen into the living room. It wasn’t quite as messy as before, he’d cleared the couch and thrown away the piece of toast. The coffee cup still stood on the table though and Jensen grabbed his pj pants of the easy chair as he walked by, bundling them up in his hands as he gave Jared an apologetic grin.

“Have a seat,” he said, indicating the couch. “Make yourself at home. I’ll just order the food. What do you want?”

“Whatever,” Jared said, flopping down at the end of the couch. “I’m easy when it comes to food.”

Jensen quirked his eyebrow, wanting to ask if that applied to other things as well but decided he’d better not. “So tofu veggie pizza with anchovies sounds good then?”

Jared’s eyes widened. “Uhm… sure. Tofu?”

Jensen nodded, keeping his face as neutral as he could. “Only thing I eat.”

The look on Jared’s face went from shocked to hesitant to resigned and then he smiled widely like a tofu veggie pizza with anchovies was his favorite thing ever. Jensen grinned and when a voice came on the phone, asking for his order, he ordered a large double meat special with mushrooms, red onions and extra cheese.

When he turned around Jared was eyeing him confused. “That’s what you call tofu?”

“Nah, that’s what I call making Jared squirm for ditching me in the park.”

“Hmm,” Jared huffed but he was smiling, “I guess I deserved that.”

Jensen grinned back. “Beer?”

“God, yes.”

When Jensen got back from the kitchen Jared was already lounging on the couch, long legs kicked up on the sofa table. Jensen handed him his beer before sitting down on the other end, ankles crossed on the table to mirror Jared’s pose. The TV was turned on, sound low, with some sitcom he vaguely recognized spouting out canned laughter. The tension that had been gathering in his shoulders the last couple of hours finally faded away. He threw Jared a small smile, lifting his bottle in salute. Jared smiled hesitantly back, and again Jensen got hit with this strange feeling of déjà vu.

It was weird but sometimes when he looked at Jared it was like he was looking at someone else. Someone gangly with sad eyes and high dreams who he’d felt a strange connection to even if they’d hardly known each other. Not unlike what he was feeling now. Like this, whatever it was between him and Jared, could be something more than just a casual friendship. Maybe that was why the thought of letting Jared walk out of his life had upset him so much. He’d lost JT before he even got to know him properly. He didn’t want to make the same mistake with Jared.

He almost never allowed himself to think of JT. The few times he did he was usually drunk and depressed and ended up even more drunk and depressed, writing some horrible emo operas about homeless kids that sold themselves on the streets for a piece of bread and a blanket. His sister used to call it his suicide folder because, “You ever produce this and everyone in the audience will blow their brains out.”

“It’s that bad?” he’d asked, half-insulted

“No, it’s brilliant. It’s harsh and real and gritty and absolutely fucking heartbreaking. People would watch it and cry and hate themselves and then go blow their brains out. You’d never get past opening night.”

He’d had to admit she might have a point.

Truth was sometimes he felt like he had that kid to thank for all he was now. If they hadn’t met all those years ago he would probably be high up on the Ackles Industry corporate list by now, with a trophy wife on his arm and a couple of spoiled brats running around his ankles. Which was probably most people’s idea of success but it only made him shudder in horror. It made him wish even harder that he could turn back time and save the kid from his horrible fate. After all, if it hadn’t been for him JT would most likely still be alive.

They sat in comfortable silence, watching the movie until the pizza arrived, then fell back on idle chitchat as they ate. It felt easy and natural, like they’d known each other for years. Jared did skitter away from anything too personal though and for now Jensen was willing to indulge him. From the little things he let slip Jensen gathered he came from a broken home and didn’t have much contact with his family. In Jensen’s case it sounded ideal but it obviously bothered Jared, especially the fact that his sister wanted little to nothing to do with him. Jensen couldn’t help wondering how anyone could have a bone to pick with this guy. Seriously, so far there was nothing about him that didn’t spell ‘good and decent’. With a side dish of hot and funny and sexy as hell.

Time flew by and it was suddenly midnight. The empty pizza box had long since been cleared away and there were six empties in the kitchen in addition to the half full bottles on the table in front of them. Jared had been dozing off on the couch for the last half hour and however much Jensen would have loved for him to stay the night he didn’t think it would be a good idea, considering how skittish Jared seemed to be. He allowed himself a few minutes of watching Jared sleep, amazed at how young he looked when he finally allowed himself to relax, before gently shaking him awake.

“You’re free to sleep on my couch if you want,” he said, yawning to show he had nothing but sleep in mind, but Jared shook his head.

“My flight is pretty early and I’ve already paid for the hotel,” he said, stifling a yawn as well. He stood up, tugging the creaks out of his neck before stretching his arms above his head, his spine popping and his shirt riding up to reveal a flat tanned stomach, a very tantalizing treasure trail and… a mole right above his hipbone.

Jensen stared at it. He could still feel JT’s tongue licking that exact spot on his hipbone, indicating the place where he himself had a mole. The clogs started turning dangerously fast in Jensen’s head and before he could consider what he was doing he was up from the couch and pushing Jared’s t-shirt up his chest to reveal another mole a couple of inches under Jared’s nipple. Oh God.

Jared stumbled back, more in surprise than actual defense, huffing out a short laugh and a breathless, “Jensen, what…?”

Jensen stood there frozen, one hand still on Jared’s chest. “You’re JT,” he said dazed.

Jared went deadly pale, staring back with obvious fear in his eyes. “What?” he said, weakly. “No. I’m… Who?” He started to turn away but Jensen grabbed his arm, forcing him abruptly back.

“You! You are JT! You…” His voice shook. He felt dizzy and confused and for some reason really, really angry. “I thought you were dead! I’ve thought for seven years that you were dead, that I got you killed and…” He pushed Jared back, the solid chest strong and broad and alive under his palm. “You asshole!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Jared stammered but Jensen pushed him again so he fell back on the couch, sprawling there awkwardly.

“Don’t! Don’t you dare lie to me! You kept reminding me of him but I never…” Jensen’s voice broke and he hitched his breath. “He was dead so it couldn’t be. It couldn’t! But you’re not dead. You’re alive, you asshole!”

“Look,” Jared said flustered. “You’re wrong. I’m not…” He tried to stand up but again Jensen pushed him back down.

“Drop your pants,” he said coldly.

Jared stared at him. “What?”

“Take your goddamn pants off. If you’re not JT, you don’t have a mole by your dick. So drop them.”

“I’m not gonna…” Jared protested but when Jensen crouched down and angrily got to work on his belt buckle he didn’t struggle, just lay there looking both mortified and devastated. Belt loosened and the top buttons undone, Jensen tugged Jared’s underwear down then sat staring at the dark mole underneath Jared’s curls.

“Jensen…”

Jared’s pleading voice broke Jensen out of his stupor and he stumbled back, falling on his ass before getting quickly to his feet. His knees felt weak and his head dizzy. He had no idea what to do, what to think.

“Why?” he finally managed. “Why did you…?”

“I’m sorry.” Jared sighed. “I never meant for you to find out.”

If anything that hurt even more. “You never…?” His shock quickly turned into anger and he glared at Jared, wanting nothing more than to punch his face in. “Jesus, Jared! What the hell is wrong with you? Do you have any idea how that has weighted on me all these years? That you… that a young kid got killed because of me?”

By the shocked look on Jared’s face it was obvious that had never occurred to him. “What? No! Jensen, no.” He fumbled with his pants, awkwardly fastening them again. “You had nothing to do with what happened…”

“Nothing to do…!” Jensen glared at him incredulous. “Are you kidding me? You got arrested because I spent the night with you!”

Jared got to his feet, shaking his head grimly. “I got arrested because Chad the moron figured out who you were and thought he’d make a quick buck. He called in asking for money and… Well, you know the rest.”

Jensen blinked. A steady pounding was starting behind his temple and he absentmindedly rubbed at it with his thumb. “No,” he said, suddenly feeling so very tired. “I don’t. I don’t know what happened to you, Jared, or JT or whatever the hell your name is. All I know is that the Feds busted in on me naked in your bed and then tried to convince me I had been kidnapped and raped. I told them they were morons and to let you go and…” He swallowed. “Then Welling told me you had been killed in a jail fight.”

Jared stared at him. “Tom Welling?”

Jensen nodded. “But clearly you weren’t because you’re here. I don’t… I don’t understand anything.”

Jared bit his lip, looking uncertain, but then he suddenly started talking, the words rushing out nervously. “Tom Welling told me you were going to file charges for kidnapping and rape unless I did you a favor, delivering something to a guy you were doing ‘business’ with in Vegas. So me and Chad went there except it turned out the real delivery was us. That he was selling us.”

Jensen stepped back, staring at him in shock. His stomach turned and he felt like he might throw up. “What?” he whispered.

“Yeah.” Jared swallowed. He’d gone pale like the memory was making him ill. “Apparently Welling had been delivering him street kids for years. Know why? Because no one cares if some filthy street kids disappear. Hell, I knew kids that suddenly vanished one day and I didn’t even care. It’s just what happens, you know. But now I know where they went…” His voice broke and he looked away.

“Oh God. Did you…? Did he…?” Jensen stopped. He couldn’t even say it.

Jared shook his head. “No. He locked us up in a room and there we found Chris, tied up and waiting to be executed. We freed him and then Steve got us out. And then we ran, as far as we could.” Jared stopped, running one hand through his hair. He looked tired and hopeless. “Chris told me there was no way you had anything to do with any of it.”

Jensen blinked. In the horror of everything he’d forgotten that part of the story. “I didn’t! God, Jared, I had no idea…”

“I know,” Jared hurried to assure him. “I just… I thought it would be better if I stayed away but I didn’t know Tom had told you I’d been killed. I swear I had no idea about that. I wouldn’t have let you carry that burden, Jensen.”

“Ok, ok.” Jensen rubbed a hand tiredly over his face. “But why didn’t you…? You could have told me who you were when you called me! Why didn’t you tell me, Jared?”

“Jensen, I was a filthy street kid.” Jared sighed. “It’s not exactly something I’m proud of. And I thought… I didn’t think you even remembered me, ok? Chris says you’ve never mentioned any of it. I really didn’t think you cared.”

“I didn’t care?” Jensen laughed. It sounded half-hysterical in his own ears. “I had sex with an underage teenager and then sent him to jail to be beaten to death! Jesus, Jared! You have any idea how guilty I’ve felt all these years? How absolutely devastated?” He swallowed. “I never told anyone because… Because I fucking hated myself for it and I couldn’t really handle them hating me too, ok? That’s why. Not because I didn’t remember you. Jesus!”

“I’m sorry.” Jared took a step forward, hesitantly reaching out to him. “Jensen…”

Jensen shrunk away. “Did you remember, Jared?” he asked in a low voice. “Did you care? Christ, man. You just call me up one day like… like none of it mattered. Like we’re strangers.”

“We are strangers, Jensen,” Jared said tiredly and Jensen turned away. “No, Jensen please, listen. Of course I remembered. Of course I cared. But it was a different life. I was a different person then. This is who I am now. That’s why I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want you to just see that loser kid whenever you looked at me.”

Jensen swung around, glaring at him. “I liked that loser kid,” he said. “At least he was honest! And he might have been poor and homeless but he had more integrity than whoever you think you are now.”

Jared flinched but Jensen was too angry to back down.

“You dress up in a nice suit and flaunt your lawyers degree like… like that makes you somehow better? Well, you know what, if there was a degree in humanity that loser street kid would have Ph.D.’d your ass.”

Jared clenched his jaw. “Where the hell do you come off judging me? You’ve rolled in money your whole life, Jensen. You don’t know anything about me or my life.”

“Then fucking tell me!” Jensen yelled back, exasperated.

Jared glared at him. “Tell you what? You want to know what it’s like watching your dad beat up your brother so bad he can’t walk for days, all the time knowing you’re next? Or what it feels like hiding your seven year old sister under your bed so she won’t be smacked around for spilling her milk. Or maybe you want to hear about what it was like having to fight for your life on the streets because you’re young and small and apparently ‘asking for it’ even if you don’t even know what ‘it’ is.”

Jensen stared at him, his stomach turning. “What? No, you told me…”

Jared shrugged annoyed. “I told you I didn’t do that. Doesn’t mean no one ever did it to me. Christ, Jensen, I was thirteen when I ran away from home. I didn’t know shit, ok? I didn’t even know people did that.”

“Jesus.” Jensen gave into his weak knees and sat heavily down on the sofa table. “Jesus, Jared. I’m so sorry.”

Jared sighed, his anger seeming to drain away. “See this is why I didn’t want you to know. Why I don’t want anyone to know where I come from. Because it’s not who I am. It’s not what I want to be judged by.”

Jensen looked up at him startled. “I would never judge you because of that,” he said hurt.

“No?” Jared rolled his eyes. “Jensen, you’re doing it right now. I can see it. You’re wondering if being sexually abused made me gay. You’re wondering if I sucked you off that night because I thought I had to. You’re looking at me now, wondering how I paid my way through law school, ‘prostitution’ being on the top of your list. And if we had gotten involved again you’d never been able to touch me without wondering if you were doing it wrong, if you were reminding me of them and what they did. Tell me I’m wrong.”

Jensen swallowed. “You’re not wrong. Except about the law school thing, I hadn’t even thought of that.”

“And now?” Jared asked sarcastic.

“Now… now I am.” Jensen sighed. “Ok, you’re right. I don’t know anything about you. And if I’d known about what had happened to you I probably would have at least considered these things. But… You’re not exactly helping out here, man.” He swallowed, trying to find the right words without alienating Jared even further. “You’re so scared people might judge you that you don’t give them any info to work with. You don’t fight prejudice with anger, Jared, you do it with education. If all you’re willing to tell people is ‘I was an abused street kid’ then that’s all they’re gonna base their opinion on.”

“Why should I have to tell them anything?” Jared asked angry. “It’s no one’s business but my own.”

Jensen raised his head and gazed at Jared a long time before sighing and standing up. “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t mean…” Jared started but Jensen raised one hand and shook his head.

“It’s ok. I’m just…” He gave Jared a tired smile. “I’m glad you’re alive. It’s all that matters to me. That you’re alive and happy. That’s all I need to know.” He bit his lip then looked down. “It’s late. I’m going to bed. You can… Whatever. Good night.”

He turned and walked toward the bedroom. He didn’t even know why he was so upset. He should be happy that the kid was alive. And he was, he was really happy. But he also felt stupidly hurt that Jared hadn’t trusted him with who he was. That what happened between them all those years ago and had haunted Jensen ever since apparently didn’t mean anything to Jared.

“I’m not happy,” Jared’s voice suddenly said behind Jensen and he stopped in his tracks, hand on the door to his bedroom. “I haven’t been happy since… since my mother died. I thought I never would be again and then… then there was today. That’s why I came back because… because being with you today was the happiest I’ve been since I was eleven years old.”

Jensen turned slowly around. Jared was staring at him, his face flushed and his eyes glittering. He looked like he was half a breath away from fleeing.

Jensen swallowed. “Me too. Since… I don’t know.” He dropped his gaze, taking a deep breath before looking up again. “I’m glad you came back. Both tonight and… you know, into my life. When you called me.”

“I should have done it sooner,” Jared said, sounding genuinely regretful. “If I’d known you felt so bad about it…”

“It doesn’t matter.” Jensen gave him a short smile. “I meant what I said, I’m just happy you’re alive.”

They stood gazing at each other, Jared’s cheeks still flushed, Jensen sure that everything he was feeling could be read easily on his own face. ‘I think I’m in love with you,’ he thought and Jared hitched his breath. ‘Jesus, Jared, I’ve been in love with you for seven years and I just want… I just want you.

“I…” Jared started then stopped. “I need to…” He glanced toward the door then back at Jensen, looking conflicted. “I should go.”

Jensen swallowed. “Right.”

“But… I want to see you again. Because I… really… Goddammit!”

And just like that Jared was pressing Jensen up against the door, hard and desperate and… Jesus, so very different from the fumbling teenage boy he’d been. His hands enveloped Jensen’s face, long fingers digging into the back of his skull and Jared’s lips... God, his lips, hot and damp and hungry, moaning against Jensen’s until they fell open and breathed him in. Jensen fumbled for Jared, the thin material of his t-shirt twisting under Jensen’s fingers as he fisted it and pulled Jared closer, afraid that if he let go he might just crumble to the floor.

“Never forgot you,” Jared growled into his mouth, hands moving down to Jensen’s waist, jerking him even closer. “Fuck, Jensen, been remembering this, kissing you, for seven years.”

Jensen hitched his breath and got his hands in Jared’s hair, holding him still as he kissed him for all he was worth. When he finally pulled back for air Jared was heaving for breath, pupils blown wide as they stared down at him and his lips red and swollen.

“I don’t want to go back to my hotel,” Jared whispered.

“Then don’t,” Jensen pleaded. “Stay here. I want you to. Please.”

Jared sucked in his breath. “God, what are you doing to me?”

Jensen laughed, half-breathless. “Question is, what are you going to do to me?” he asked.

Jared’s eyes went even darker and a small smile curled his lips. “How about we pick up from where we left off seven years ago?”

“That demands we’re naked,” Jensen pointed out. “And already in bed.”

“That can be arranged,” Jared said and in one swift motion pulled the t-shirt over his head.

Jensen blinked, for a moment blinded by the miles of skin and muscles and Jesus Christ, Jared! But then his brain finally kicked into gear and he grabbed the hem of his own t-shirt, pulling it over his head and throwing it to the floor before starting on his jeans. Jared was already kicking his off and Jensen had to concentrate on his own stripping and not looking up at Jared or he would never manage to get the goddamn fucking zipper undone. Fucking hell, who designed these things?

“Need help?” Jared asked, clearly amused and Jensen glanced up, meaning to growl at him to shut up but instead finding himself once again paralyzed by the sight of Jared, now completely naked and wow, oh wow, seemed that Jared had grown everywhere!

“Holy shit!” he said, giving up on his pants altogether. “Look at you. You’re just… wow. Jesus fuck.”

Jared blinked, looking uncomfortable for a moment, but then a grin spread on his face and he snorted. “Eloquent. What is it you do for a living again?”

“Shut up,” Jensen said, pushing him hungrily up against the opposite wall. “Fuck, I want to lick every fucking mole on your body,” he growled and latched on to Jared’s right nipple sucking it into his mouth.

Jared moaned, the back of his head hitting the wall with a bang. “Jensen…” His knee came up between Jensen’s, thigh rubbing against his crotch and this time it was Jensen’s turn to moan while his hips involuntarily jerked forward, riding Jared’s thigh.

“You’re so… Jesus, Jared. Bed!” He reluctantly let Jared go and turned to open the door, then let out a surprised oomph when Jared tackled him from behind and practically threw him face down on the bed, then flipped him over and got to work on the stubborn zipper.

“Not fair you still being dressed. There!” The zipper went down with a groan and Jensen just lay back, panting, while Jared pulled at his jeans, down his thighs where he stopped for a moment, just staring at Jensen’s dick before with a growl pulling them the rest of the way and off. “Now we’re even.”

“You’re still standing,” Jensen complained but that’s as far as he got before Jared was all over him, chest to chest, lips latching on Jensen’s neck and one leg sliding in between his.

“You were saying?” Jared panted between kisses but Jensen just whimpered and flailed for a moment before settling his hands on Jared’s ass, pulling him closer and adding a little squeeze, just for emphasis.

They made out for a while, just touching and rocking against each other while trading kisses but Jensen soon got impatient and with a quick jerk managed to roll them over until he was on top, gazing down at Jared with a grin. “I believe I owe you a blowjob,” he said and laughed when Jared’s dick jumped up and slapped his stomach.

“Yeah?” Jared swallowed, his eyes dark. “It’s been a long time coming.”

“I’ll pay you back with interest,” Jensen assured him before gliding down the bed until he had Jared’s cock waving eagerly right under his lips. He gave Jared a quick glance, smiling when he saw Jared staring back, lips parted in anticipation, and then dived down, sucking him in.

Jensen very much doubted it was the best blowjob he’d ever given, or even close to the best one Jared had ever received, (not that he wanted to think about that) but his gay experiences had until now not really involved anyone even close to Jared’s proportions. Turns out size really does matter. At least when you’re trying to fit something in your mouth. Thankfully it seemed that Jared was quite happy with Jensen slobbering all over his dick and balls even if it made Jensen feel like that dog in Turner & Hooch.

“Jensen, Jensen… Jesus fuck, Jensen,” Jared blabbered and Jensen hummed and nodded and tried not to choke every time Jared lost control of his hips. “Wait, wait…” Jared finally blurted out, hand coming down to gently tug at Jensen’s hair. “Jesus Christ, Jensen, wait!”

Jensen slipped off with a pop, looking up at Jared unsure. “What?”

“I want you to fuck me,” Jared said breathless and Jensen scrambled to his knees and launched himself across the bed toward the bedside table so fast he hit Jared in the chest with his elbow before landing with Jared’s face in his armpit and his wrist aching where he banged it on the drawer.

“Fuck, sorry,” he panted. “Got a bit carried away there.”

“It’s okay,” Jared grunted, rubbing his chest. “Jeez, eager much?”

“About my dick going in your ass?” Jensen growled. “Oh yeah, big time.” He fumbled around in the drawer until he finally found a string of condoms and a half empty tube of lube then scooted back down and eyed his prize. “Been long?” he asked, giving Jared a quick glance.

Jared shrugged and pulled up his knees to give him better access. “Depends on what you mean. Been a while since someone fucked me but not that long since I had something in there.” His voice was casual but his face was a lovely shade of crimson.

Jensen grinned as he slicked up his fingers. “Yeah? You like to fuck yourself with your fingers? A dildo? What?”

“Dildo,” Jared groaned as Jensen slipped one finger inside. “Big black one.”

“Fuck, that’s hot,” Jensen panted, slicking Jared up inside before slipping another finger in. There wasn’t much resistance yet so it couldn’t have been too long. “When was the last time?” he asked, watching Jared’s eyes roll back in his head as Jensen’s fingers twisted inside him.

“Last night. After… after I talked to you on the phone.”

“Jesus!” Damn, he was gonna come before he even got in there. “You touch yourself while you talk to me on the phone, Jared?”

“Some…sometimes. Yeah. You?” Jared lifted his head and gazed down at him, eyes wide and wanting.

“Sometimes,” Jensen admitted, feeling himself blush. He looked down to where his fingers were disappearing into Jared’s body, the clenching heat almost unbearable. He carefully pulled out before pushing in again, a third finger added. Jared cursed, his head dropping back exposing a long neck as he twisted the sheets in his fists.

“Fuck, Jensen,” he groaned when Jensen had worked a steady rhythm for a while. “That’s enough. Just get in there.”

“You sure?” Jensen asked even if he was already pulling out and reaching for the condoms.

“Yes! Not that your fingers weren’t doing a great job but I’d rather have your cock fucking me.”

Jensen laughed shakily as he lined up. “Glad to hear we’re on the same page,” he said and then slowly pushed inside.

Unlike the blowjob this definitely ranked up there with Jensen’s greatest performances. Honestly, if he lived to be a hundred and one he doubted he would ever have a sexual experience even close to this one. Unless it involved Jared. Thinking about it he had to admit that Jared’s cock in his ass might possibly even surpass the amazing awesomeness that was having his cock in Jared’s ass. He was willing to do pretty much anything to make sure that theory was put to the test.

“Do you always think so much when you’re having sex?” Jared groaned and bit Jensen’s shoulder, jerking him out of his musings. “Come on, fuck me harder.”

“Pushy bottom,” Jensen muttered but did as he was asked. Oh yeah, that was even better.

“Fuck yes,” Jared panted, “like that.” He opened his eyes, gazing up at Jensen with wide blown pupils. “What were you thinking anyway?”

“What it would feel like having your monster of a cock fucking me,” Jensen groaned. “Can’t wait to try it.”

Jared’s eyes widened. “Oh you… fuck!” he said shocked and then he was coming hard, head thrown back, tendons stretched in his neck and heels digging into the mattress. Jensen hardly had time to acknowledge what was happening until he was gasping for breath, hips stuttering as he followed Jared over the top.

Completely wiped out he crashed down on Jared’s chest, panting into his neck and not even caring about the pool of come presently gluing their stomachs together. “Jesus,” he said when he finally caught his breath.

“You can say that again,” Jared grunted.

“Jesus,” Jensen repeated. “Jesus fucking Christ!”

“On a pogostick,” Jared added and then they were both laughing, almost hysterically. Jensen slid off and rolled onto his back, staring up at the ceiling as he still shook with laughter. His hands fumbled with the condom, tying it off and discarding it somewhere on the floor with the last of his strength. Jared shifted beside him and when Jensen turned his head he met Jared’s eyes, watching him with what seemed like awe.

“What?” he asked, feeling somewhat self-conscious. He was pretty sure his hair was standing up in all directions, his face felt itchy from the sloppy blowjob earlier and his mouth tasted and probably smelled like dick.

“Nothing.” Jared said and smiled. “Just… never really got to see you that night. You know, back then. It was too dark.”

“And?” Jensen asked, feeling himself blush.

“And you weren’t kidding about the freckles. Freakish.”

“Jerk,” Jensen muttered and tried to slug him but Jared was too quick, grabbing him by the wrist and then bringing Jensen’s hand up to kiss his palm.

“You’re also freakishly gorgeous, have freakishly beautiful eyes and seriously, were you actually born with those eyelashes?”

Jensen snorted, hoping his face wasn’t quite as red as it felt. “It ain’t Maybelline if that’s what you’re asking. Seriously, dude, you have an unhealthy obsession with make-up.”

Jared threw back his head and laughed, his whole body shaking, while Jensen smirked and tried to will his pulse to slow down.

‘You are not a twelve year old girl,’ he told himself, ‘so stop acting like you’ve just run smack into Zac Efron or whatever. This whole blushing thing is not funny.’

He blinked to find Jared once again watching him, amusement still twinkling in his eyes. “I like you,” he said and Jensen’s heartbeat sped up again. “Like… really, really like you.” Jared bit his lip and looked down, cheeks flushing. “Fuck, listen to me. I sound like a pimpled teenager.” He looked up again, his eyes more determined now. “I want to keep seeing you. I know we don’t live in the same city and the whole Welling thing is something we really need to work out but… I want us to just… try.”

“Ok,” Jensen hurried to say. “Yeah, I’d like that.”

Jared’s face split into the widest smile. “Yeah?”

Jensen hesitated then blurted out, “You might not have noticed but I’m kinda really, stupidly in love with you.”

Jared stared at him for a moment before heaving his breath. “Oh thank god, it’s not just me,” he said and laughed.

“Definitely not just you.” Jensen smiled in relief and shuffled a little closer. “So…” he said, stifling a yawn, “…sleep?”

“Sleep sounds good,” Jared agreed. “You don’t mind?” he added uncertainly and indicated the bed.

“Dude, you try and leave and I’ll get out my handcuffs,” Jensen warned and slung one leg over Jared’s, pressing him down into the mattress.

Jared laughed and wrapped his arms tighter around Jensen. “Kinky,” he said as he kissed Jensen’s shoulder before burrowing his nose in Jensen’s neck. “Maybe later.”

Yep, Jensen thought as he started to drift off to sleep. Definitely not letting him go this time.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“He’s not going to let this go,” Welling said, staring angry out the window. “Figures he finds his balls just when there are none other left in the family.”

“Not sure about that,” Mike commented casually from where he sat on the leather couch on the other side of the room. “Seems to me his bitch of a sister’s got bigger balls than most guys I know.”

He leaned over, snorting the line of coke up his nose. “Ah, fuck,” he hissed, wiping his nose on the back of his hand. “This is some good shit.”

Welling turned around abruptly, glaring at him. “How many times have I told you not to do that here?”

“Relax, dude,” Mike leered up at him. “Who’s gonna know?”

“I am,” Welling said coldly. “Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Mike swallowed, suddenly feeling sober despite the drugs buzzing his brain. “Sorry, boss. I forgot.”

Welling stared him down a little longer before turning back to the window. “We might have to eliminate the problem,” he said, tapping one finger against his chin.

“Snuff the Ackles boy?” Mike asked cheerful. “I can do that.”

Welling shook his head. “He’s made a will. If he dies his share goes to his sister. That leaves her with forty percent the same as me. Until the old man dies when she gets those twenty percent as well which will leave me outnumbered. No, I think we have to be more subtle.” He furrowed his brow, thinking. Mike used the break to quickly clean the table, making sure there was no evidence left of what he’d been doing.

“That lawyer of his,” Welling finally said, “he’s some young boy fresh out of college. Plenty of student loans on his back, I’d bet. If not, then there are sure to be some loved ones he’d rather not see hurt. Either way he should be easy enough even for you to deal with.” He walked over to his desk, sitting down and giving Mike a brief glance. “Make it happen.”

Mike grinned and stood up, grabbing his red leather coat from the back of the couch. “You can count on me, boss,” he said, already punching in numbers on his cell phone. This was going to be fun.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“I still don’t see why you can’t stay for the weekend,” Jensen said. He was pouting like a sullen five-year-old, which Jared found ridiculously adorable. He kissed Jensen lightly on the tip of his nose and smiled down at him.

“I’ll be back before you know it,” he said and gave Jensen another quick kiss, this time on the lips as he opened his mouth, no doubt to argue. “Monday, I promise. And hey, there’s always phone sex,” he added in a low voice.

Jensen instantly perked up. “Mmm yeah. Me, you and the big black dildo. And this time I want to listen while you do it.”

Jared’s cheeks went red and he looked quickly around to make sure no one had heard them. “Dude!” he hissed. “Respectable lawyer here, hello!”

Jensen laughed and wrapped Jared’s tie around his fist, pulling him in for another long deep kiss. When he was finally allowed up for air his cheeks were even more flushed, his lips felt swollen and to add insult to injury Jensen reached up and ruffled his carefully combed hair. “Oh yeah,” Jensen said with a smirk, “Very respectable.”

“I hate you,” Jared said, looking down at his wrinkled tie and the noticeable bulge in his pants. “I look like a horny frat boy,” he pouted.

“Didn’t know you were into role-play,” Jensen snorted, giving Jared a fond look. “You look hot,” he said then checked his watch. “We have about ten minutes to take care of that if you want.”

Jared stared at him. “What?”

“The handicap toilet is right there.” Jensen jerked his head to the side, smirking invitingly.

“Oh. Ok.”

Jensen grinned and grabbed his hand, dragging him through the crowd of tired and irritated passengers. A woman gave them a suspicious look when they went for the handicap toilet but Jensen just flashed her a smile and said, “He always needs to pee-pee before flying,” in a soft condescending voice, like he was talking about a child. Her face instantly softened while Jared’s went bright red again.

“Dude!” he hissed as soon as they’d closed the door.

“What?” Jensen said innocently, pushing him up against the door and giving him a quick kiss before dropping to his knees.

It was quick and sloppy and dirty and absolutely amazing. Jared kept one hand on the doorknob, steadying himself, the other on Jensen’s head, fingers twisted in his hair. When Jared bucked his hips Jensen moaned around his cock and just like that, Jared lost it. His fingers curled, gripping Jensen’s hair tight as he fucked his mouth in quick jerks, finally coming down his throat with a bit-off groan.

His knees were shaking and his shirt was plastered to his back and when he looked down to see Jensen gaze up at him, lips swollen and cheeks flushed, eyes dark and glittering and hair still twisted in Jared’s fist, he almost lost it all over again.

“God, you…” he said and without a thought dropped to his knees and crushed their mouths together. Jensen groaned, eyes fluttering close and he sucked Jared’s tongue eagerly into his mouth like he was already missing his cock. Jared’s fingers tightened again in Jensen’s hair, angling his head so he could kiss him deeper, his other hand clutching at Jensen’s bicep. He could taste his own come on Jensen’s tongue and it was so damn hot he had to pull back to suck in air or he thought he might pass out.

“Good?” Jensen asked breathless and Jared laughed.

“Jesus, yes!” He kissed Jensen again, hungry for more. “You have any idea how fucking hot you are? How goddamn crazy you make me?” He reached for Jensen’s zipper but Jensen grabbed him by the wrist, stopping him.

“Considering you’re about to miss your flight? I think I have a vague idea.”

“Fuck,” Jared groaned, closing his eyes in frustration. “I don’t wanna go.”

Jensen kissed him and then gently tucked him in. “Monday,” he said. “And we’ll talk tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” Jared slowly got to his feet and consequently met his reflection in the mirror. “Damn, now I definitely look like a frat boy,” he said. “One that’s just been sucked off by his very hot teacher.”

“Hey, I’m not that much older than you,” Jensen objected. “But yeah. You look totally fucked out and gorgeous.” He grinned. “Every single person on that flight is gonna know exactly what you were doing.”

Jared shivered. “Jesus.” He straightened his tie and ran both hands down his jacket, trying to get rid off the worst creases but there was nothing he could do about the flushed and satisfied look on his face. “Now I hate you even more.”

“Mission accomplished,” Jensen said smugly as he unlocked the door and opened it.

A very pissed off man in a wheelchair glared up at them and Jared could feel his face go even redder. “Uhm…” he started but Jensen just smiled at the man and tipped his head at Jared.

“Diaper change,” he said and raised a finger to his lips. “Long story, don’t ask.”

The man’s angry glare changed into a mixture of sympathy and badly hidden disgust and they left him looking at the bathroom door like he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to go in there.

“You just love embarrassing me, don’t you?” Jared hissed.

“Well, you are adorable when you blush,” Jensen said casually. “Oh look, you have two minutes. Go!” He patted Jared on the ass, urging him on.

“I’ll get you back for this,” Jared said and pulled Jensen in for one last kiss. “Next time.” He smacked Jensen’s ass hard and then hurried to the gate, grinning when he heard a loud wolf whistle behind him. If he swung his hips a little more than usual, so what?

He was almost at the gate when a man came up behind him, walking uncomfortably close. Jared looked back annoyed and almost tripped over his feet when a face he hadn’t seen in seven years grinned up at him.

“Tom Welling wants to talk,” the man Chad had nicknamed Baldy said. “Now.”

“Well, I don’t want to talk to him,” Jared said as coolly as he could manage. “I have a flight to catch.”

The bald man in the red leather coat shrugged like he didn’t care one way or the other. “I guess we can talk to your boyfriend instead.” He gave Jared a quick grin. “I hear he likes it rough.”

Jared stopped abruptly and swung around, grabbing the man by the front of his coat. “You touch him and I kill you!” he growled. “I swear to god!”

“See, that’s where you got it wrong,” Baldy said calmly. “You touch me and my men kill him.” He smiled again then added in a low sing-song voice, “They’re watching…”

Jared let him quickly go. “What the hell do you want?”

“Just talk.” The man straightened his coat. “That’s all. We have a proposition for you.”

Jared wanted to tell him just where he could stick his damn proposition but he had no doubt the threat was real. He threw a glance to where he’d left Jensen but couldn’t see him. That didn’t mean anything. He could just be on his way home. Or he could be lying in the back of a van, waiting to be gutted.

“Alright, if Welling wants to talk then let’s talk. Lead the way.”

As he followed the bald man out of the airport he couldn’t help thinking that he was walking straight into a trap.

 

“Here he is, boss,” Baldy said with a grin, closing and locking the door behind them as soon as they’d stepped inside the big office. “Ackles’ little lawyer boy. With benefits if I’m not mistaken.”

Jared glared at him and wished he didn’t look as rumbled as he knew he did. He fought the urge to straighten his tie and instead stood tall, face grim, and waited for the man who was standing by the window to turn around and face him.

“Thank you, Mike. Sit down, Mr. Padalecki,” Welling said, his voice chillingly flat.

“I’d rather stand, thank you,” Jared replied just as coldly.

Welling paused and then slowly turned around to meet Jared’s eyes. His gaze faltered for a moment and Jared froze, sure he’d been recognized, but then he realized it was his size that the man hadn’t been expecting. He would have smiled smugly if he weren’t so terrified. Welling quickly recovered, his features settling into a cold businesslike look.

“I apologize for the rather unorthodox summoning…” he began but Jared quickly cut him off.

“Unorthodox?” he said, incredulous. “Your lackey kidnapped me at the airport, threatening people bodily harm if I didn’t follow him. I’d call that a little more than unorthodox.”

“Surely you must have misunderstood,” Welling said, seeming completely unbothered. “This is just a meeting between two lawyers, discussing the legal matters of their clients.”

“My client being Mr. Ackles and yours being… you?” Jared didn’t hide his contempt. “I don’t really see that there is much to discuss. As soon as we have had Alan Ackles’ supposed signature dismissed as forgery all your claims will be thwarted. End of story.”

Welling’s nose twitched in irritation. “Your faith is admirable,” he said, “if somewhat naïve. You won’t find anything amiss with those documents.” He smiled coldly. “However, I can appreciate a man with passion for his work.”

Behind Jared the bald man, Mike, sniggered and to his horror Jared could feel his cheeks warming. Welling paid him no mind. He was writing something on a piece of paper on his desk then straightened up, offering Jared another smile as he held out the small note. Jared stepped forward and took it, looking at the number written there. It would have put him through college five times over.

“What is this?” he asked coldly.

“Like I said, I appreciate your passion for your work. I believe such dedication should be rewarded.”

“You’re bribing me?” Jared said incredulous.

Welling’s nose twitched again. “Rewarding,” he corrected. “With hope that we can settle our differences.”

Jared laughed. “You are not joking. You actually think…” He shook his head and ripped up the note. “Forget it. You can’t pay me off. And the fact that you tried proves that you do have something to hide. You’re a criminal and a bully, Welling, and it will be a pleasure to put you away for a very long time.”

He turned around to leave but Welling’s voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Padalecki is a very unusual name,” the man said casually. “Not one you hear every day. In fact I think it must be about seven years since I last met a Padalecki. A kid that was whoring himself out on the streets of Los Angeles. I wonder what became of him.”

Jared turned around slowly. Welling was sitting back in his chair behind the desk, fingers braided on his chest. He was smiling. “Relative of yours maybe?” he added lightly.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Jared said in a flat voice.

“Oh, I think you do.” Welling tilted his head, studying him thoughtfully. “It took me a while to see it. I must say you clean up good, boy. For a moment there you almost looked like a real lawyer.”

“I am a lawyer,” Jared said angry.

“A diploma and a cheap suit doesn’t change what you are,” Welling dismissed. “You are a rat, Padalecki. A street rat, a whore. Nothing more than a speck of dirt on my shoes.” He smiled again. “I eat kids like you for breakfast.”

“Oh I know what you do to ‘kids like me’,” Jared said, his voice shaking with fury. “And once I have you on the stand I’ll make sure everyone else finds out. And we all know what happens to people like you in prison.”

Welling just looked at him. “You were not supposed to come back,” he said calmly. “I think it’s about time we rectify that small error.”

Before Jared had time to figure out what the man meant someone came up behind him. He felt a sharp sting in his neck and then everything went black.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Jensen stared down at the bright lights below his window. His stomach growled hungrily but he ignored it. Two days he’d been trying to reach Jared and nothing. At first he’d thought maybe Jared was just ignoring him, which didn’t make much sense seeing as they’d departed amicably enough. But you know, these things happen. Not like it was the first time he’d been blown off after what he’d thought was a great date. He had issues, he knew that. Although most of those issues had to do with a certain teen kid he’d met seven years ago. And considering Jared was that kid…

Beside, it wasn’t that simple. Not only wasn’t Jared answering his phone but neither Chris nor Steve had seen or heard from him. And Jared had said he was going to meet and talk to them early Saturday morning. A meeting he never showed up for.

As a final resort Jensen called Jared’s roommate then consequently had to listen to him rant for over half an hour about how Jensen was possibly a porn king criminal or something. It didn’t really make much sense. It took him a while to realize that the ‘roommate’ was in fact Jared’s old friend Chad from LA and by then he was too pissed off to even try and play catch up. Not that “Hey, remember that time you tried to blackmail my parents for ransom and got Jared thrown in jail?” was on his list of conversations he was just dying to have.

“Can you shut up for just two minutes and listen to me?” he instead said when Chad finally paused, presumably to breathe. “You telling me you haven’t seen him?”

“Last time I saw him he was on his way to you, asshole. I told him, I fucking told him he was being stupid. That you were gonna get him killed for real this time but did he listen? No, he didn’t and you know why? Because you got him thinking with his dick instead of his brain. Like some goddamn gay siren.”

Jensen clenched his jaw. “So he never got back to Washington DC, that’s what you’re saying?”

“Are you even listening to me? I didn’t lose him, you did!” There was a pause and then Chad said in a much lower and audibly scared voice. “Holy crap, he really is missing? I thought he’d just decided to blow off work and blow you instead. He’s disappeared?”

Jensen swallowed. “I left him at the airport, right before he was to board his plane. That was two days ago.”

Chad sucked in his breath. “No. No fucking way! Maybe he just missed his flight. Or…”

“He’s not answering his cell and Chris and Steve haven’t heard from him either. I think…” Jensen took a deep breath. “I think something must have happened to him.”

“No shit, Sherlock!” Chad yelled loud enough that Jensen jerked the phone from his ear. “You did this! You put them on his trail! Fuck you! Fuck you, you fucking asshole!”

Jensen sighed. “I don’t have time for this. I need to find him. I’ll call you as soon as I know anything.” He hung up on another long string of curses then buried his head in his hands. Fuck. Lifting his head he took a deep breath and finally allowed his fear and frustration to surface. “Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck! Goddamn fucking shit!”

He jumped up from the couch and started pacing his living room. What the fuck now? He had to do something. Forty-eight hours, that was long enough to file a missing person report. He picked up the phone, and punched in 911 but just as he was about to hit send he paused.

He looked over at the pile of legal papers his sister had sent him earlier. Welling was stepping up, offering to buy them out of their shares. There wasn’t a snowball’s chance in Hell they would but Welling seemed to be blind to how much they actually hated him. To him money could buy anything. In fact, now that Jensen thought about it, of course Welling would rather try and buy his way out of this than meet them in court. Especially considering everything else he’d been up to, according to Jared. He couldn’t really risk all of that getting out in the open, as it might if he was found guilty of forgery.

Jensen frowned. What if Welling had propositioned Jared and Jared had reacted badly? Or worse, what if he had recognized Jared as the kid he met all those years ago and realized here was someone who could testify against him? Fuck.

Jensen looked down at the phone again. If Welling was behind this… Jensen had no proof, nothing at all he could show the police to make them even look at the fucker. If Jensen accused Welling of kidnapping Jared they would probably question him but there was nothing else they could do and all it would accomplish was alert Welling to the fact that Jensen was on to him. And just like that Jared would be dead.

Jensen didn’t even hesitate, just grabbed his jacket and ran out. If Welling wanted the company he could get the goddamn company. He could get Jensen’s own head on a plate as long as it would save Jared’s life. If on the other hand Welling had so much as touched a hair on Jared’s head Jensen was gonna kill him with his own bare hands, so help him God.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“I don’t know, man,” Steve said, shaking his head. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“Don’t be such a pussy,” Chris muttered. “What could go wrong? We’ve been working this for months. They haven’t suspected me so far.”

“I know but this is different.” Steve bit his lip, trying to suppress the dread in his stomach. “Too many unknown variables.”

Chris sighed and turned his head, giving Steve a patient look. “I can’t pull out now, you know that, man. This is too important.”

Steve wanted to say that Chris was way more important. Wanted to remind him that the last time they’d gone up against Welling it had almost ended with Chris getting a bullet in his brain. That even if they were pretty sure Tattoo and Fat Man hadn’t figured out who Chris was before Steve killed them seven years ago it was still a possibility they might have given Welling or some of his goons a fairly accurate description.

He wanted to say all that but he didn’t. They’d talked it over before they decided to do this and finally agreed that it was a risk worth taking. Not only because they were pretty sure Welling was running one of the biggest human traffic organizations in the country but also because of Jared. For seven years the kid had never stopped being scared to death that Welling would find out he was alive and come after him. And now it had turned out his fears were warranted. Jared had been missing for three days and they’d only found out a few hours ago where he’d been taken. Chances were he was already dead. Or if not it was only a matter of time before he would be. This was their only shot at getting him out alive.

And then of course there was Jensen, oblivious to what the hell he was actually getting himself into. Welling wouldn’t let anyone or anything get in the way of him getting his hands on Ackles Industries. As prime owner of one of the biggest shipping companies in the United States he’d be able to reach even further, using the company’s good name to smuggle people from all over the world. Jensen’s meddling would not only jeopardize that but also risk people getting way too interested in the extent of Welling’s business now and over the years. Something they knew he couldn’t afford.

“It’s almost over,” Chris continued in a soothing voice. “I’m finally in the right place and they don’t suspect anything. We’ve got enough evidence to put him away for life so as soon as I get Jared out of there we can finally go after the fucker, full blast. Tomorrow’s the last, then this will be over. I promise.”

“I know.” Steve sighed. “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

“I’ll be careful.” Chris grinned and kissed him quickly on the cheek but before he managed to get out of the car Steve pulled him back, kissing him hard and demanding on the lips.

Promise me,” he repeated. “Please.”

Chris looked at him, the grin gone and his eyes soft and serious. “I promise I’ll be careful,” he said. “I promise, Steve.”

Steve nodded and reluctantly let him go. He watched Chris walk swiftly across the street and disappear into the shadows before he breathed in deeply and started the car. Now all he could do was wait. It was how they’d always worked, Chris going in while Steve stayed behind, being ‘the brain behind my brawl’ as Chris liked to say. It still never got any easier.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
Jared slowly opened his eyes, groaning when the growing consciousness made him aware of how much his head hurt. Damn, had he been drinking last night? He couldn’t remember. He tried to lift his hand to rub at his temple but couldn’t and that’s when he realized his hands were tied behind his back. What the hell? Groggy he looked around, taking in his surroundings. He was in a dark room, the only light coming from a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Considering how low it was he figured he had to be in a basement. He tried to stand up but fell back down again with a groan, hurting his tailbone. When he twisted his head he saw he was tied to an old radiator, its heavy weight pulling him down.

Jared blinked, his heart rate speeding up as the gravity of the situation became clearer. This was not good. This was so not good. Someone had obviously attacked him, on his way back from New York if the clothes he was wearing were anything to go by. He had no idea what time it was or even what day it was. Who knew how long he’d been down there? His hands and arms were numb so he’d obviously been tied up for a while.

“Hello?” he tried. Not that he really wanted to remind the bad guys they had a prisoner waiting for them to… do whatever they were thinking of doing to him. But on the other hand sitting here not knowing what was going to happen was almost worse.

There was no response so he tried again, a lot louder this time. A door creaked open somewhere above him and a rough voice shouted at him to shut up.

“Who are you?” Jared yelled back. “What the hell am I doing here?”

The door slammed shut but he could hear voices now, talking above him. He strained his ears, trying to hear what they were talking about. They seemed to be arguing, their voices low but angry and then suddenly he heard the name ‘Ackles’ loud and clear. He froze. What? The door opened again and he heard someone say “Just remember to leave him in a way that is sure to get the message across.”

A chill ran up Jared’s spine. Oh god, they were going to kill him! He started to struggle, trying to get free but it was no use. Someone knew their knots and he wasn’t going anywhere.

“Fuck you,” a voice yelled back. “Don’t be telling me how to do my fucking job.”

Jared froze. That voice…

“Chris?” he whispered. The footsteps were coming closer and then a door to his left opened, letting a little more light into the room. Before Jared had time to say anything Chris had crossed the floor and was covering Jared’s mouth with his hand, hissing at him to stay quiet.

“I’m gonna get you out of here, kid. Just stay calm, ok?”

“What are you doing here?” Jared whispered as soon as Chris let go of him. “What the fuck is happening?”

“Welling,” Chris said in a low voice. “Remember the job we didn’t want to tell you about? This would be it. Bringing down the fucker once and for all. Except then he suddenly decides to kidnap you. And I heard Mike fucking Rosenbaum calling you Ackles’ little boyfriend. Care to explain?” He gave Jared an angry glare, making him shrink back.

“We might have been…” he mumbled, embarrassed. “I mean, we met. And, you know, uhm… hung out.”

“You said you wouldn’t go see him!” Chris hissed as he cut through the ropes that tied Jared to the radiator, then hauled him to his feet, hands still tied behind his back. “I’m gonna kill Steve. I told him it was a bad idea, getting you involved. So he recognized you?”

Jared rolled his shoulders, shaking his legs to try and get rid of the pins and needles. “Uhm… kinda. I have these moles,” he said awkwardly. “Turns out he remembered them from… from before.”

Chris stared at him. “What?”

Jared’s face heated up. “Yeah, apparently not many people have moles on… on their… uhm… private area.”

“Jesus, Jared!” Chris said exasperated. “You had sex with him? When were you planning on telling us?”

“I didn’t know my love life was any of your business!” Jared glowered.

Love life?” Chris groaned. “Oh hell no. You’re in love with him?”

Jared clenched his jaw. “Can we have this conversation later? Like, not in a house filled with crazy killers?”

Chris shook his head but he didn’t argue. “I might have to smack you around a bit, just to make it look real. Plus I think you deserve it, you idiot. Think you can handle that?” Jared swallowed nervously and nodded. “Good. Come on.”

“You don’t need to blindfold me so they won’t worry about me recognizing them?” Jared whispered.

Chris snorted. “Kiddo, they don’t expect you to live long enough for it to matter.”

“Oh.”

Jared let Chris shove him forward, out of the room and then up the stairs. The bright light on the upper floor hurt his eyes after the darkness of the basement and he squinted, trying to look like he was scared to death. Which wasn’t such a long stretch, all things considered. Chris pushed him along a narrow hallway, gun in hand, and then through a door into a kitchen. Five guys sat around the kitchen table, barely glancing up as they entered. Chris shoved Jared hard, making him trip and almost fall on his face.

“Go on,” he snarled. “Boys, say byebye to our little friend.”

“Not so little,” one of the men snorted. “Sure you can handle him, Shorty?”

There was a loud crash and when Jared glanced over his shoulder one of the guys, presumably the one who had spoken, lay flat on his back, clutching his bloody nose.

“Anyone else want to be a smartass?” Chris asked coldly. The rest of the guys lifted their hands in mock surrender, obviously more amused than upset over the incident. “That’s what I thought.” He turned back to Jared, growling, “What the fuck are you looking at, reject?” then hit him hard across the face with the back of his hand.

Jared’s head reeled back from the blow and he could feel his lip splitting. His ear rang on the side Chris had hit him and he stumbled, slamming into the wall with his shoulder and falling to his knees. He was about to faceplant on the linoleum floor since he didn’t have his hands free to break the fall but Chris grabbed his jacket and hauled him back to his feet, cursing loudly.

“Get up. Or I can shoot you right here, chop you up in the sink and take you out in pieces. Your choice.”

Jared swayed on his feet, trying to get his balance back. He was going to kill Chris for this. Well, after he’d kissed him for saving his life. “I’m good,” he rasped. “Just… don’t hurt me. Please.”

“Nah, I’m not gonna hurt you. We’re just going for a little ride.” Chris laughed and the other guys joined in, obviously finding the whole thing hilarious. Jared could still hear them laughing when they were out the door and heading for the car.

“Chris…” he started but Chris only shoved him again, hissing a low, “Shut up!”

He pushed Jared over to a big van and then into the back, slamming the door behind him. Jared lay curled up on his side on the floor, trying to get his breathing under control. The whole left side of his face hurt and he could taste blood in his mouth. His heart was hammering in his chest, adrenalin pumping in his veins and he suddenly had an uncontrollable urge to laugh. He bit his lip to smother it and the sharp sting from the cut in his lip quickly sobered him. The van started and then they were driving. He could hear the tires going over gravel before the sound changed as they got on the main road. He started to relax the further they got away from his prison but then he suddenly remembered Jensen. Fuck, what if Welling found out Jensen knew about everything? Then he’d be the next one on the list.

“Hey!” he yelled, hoping Chris would hear him over the rumbling engine. “Hello!”

A panel up front slid to the side and he saw Chris glancing back at him. “You alright?” Chris asked. “Sorry about earlier, had to make it look real.”

“I’ve had worse,” Jared dismissed impatiently. “Chris, we need to get to Jensen. We need to warn him!”

“Jensen has gone missing,” Chris said blankly. “Steve thinks he might have confronted Welling on his own and possibly unveiled something he shouldn’t.”

“What?” Jared struggled to sit up. He thought he was going to be sick. “Fuck, Chris, what the fuck are you doing wasting time getting me out?”

“I didn’t know! I only got the call about an hour ago. No one has seen or heard from him since yesterday and he isn’t answering his phone. What the fuck is it with you boys getting kidnapped?”

Kidnapped? Oh God. “Why didn’t you know about it? Aren’t you supposed to be one of Welling’s goddamn buddies? Wasn’t that the point of this whole undercover shit?”

“The muscle ain’t let in on all the plans, ok?” Chris said irritated. “That’s all I am, a goddamn muscle. And the last three days I’ve been a bit preoccupied, trying to get to you.”

Jared froze. “Three days? I was gone for three days?”

“They kept you sedated after you managed to break one guy’s arm and give another a concussion.” Chris glanced back at him. “The drugs are probably messing with your memory. Don’t worry, you’ll get it back. I think.”

Jared closed his eyes. He did remember a fight but it was more like flashes from a movie than something that had actually happened to him. “I was going to call Jensen the next day…” He groaned. “That’s why he went to confront Welling, because I was missing, right?”

“I think so,” Chris said. “Fucking idiot. Why didn’t he come to us?”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Dude, he thinks you two are like bureaucrats. Guys in suits asking boring questions they can write reports about. He has no idea you actually do stuff. Like this! Fuck.” He tried to sit up but his hands were still tied behind his back and he helplessly rolled over again. “Can we stop and untie me? Chris?”

“In a minute. Hold on.”

The van swung on the road, rolling Jared abruptly over on his stomach, his face smashing into the floor. He could feel blood trickle down from his nose and smearing across his lips, but he couldn’t care less. All he wanted was to get to Jensen as soon as possible.

The van finally came to a halt and Chris climbed into the back and quickly cut through the ropes tying Jared’s wrists together. The muscles in his shoulders and arms screamed at him when he was finally able to move his hands to the front, but he paid them no mind, just started rubbing his wrists and shaking his arms to get the blood flowing again. Chris was eyeing him worried then grabbed his chin and turned his face this way and that, inspecting the damage.

“I’m ok,” Jared said impatiently, pulling out of his grasp. “Nothing I can’t clean off.” He wiped his nose on the sleeve of his jacket to prove his point. It left a red wet stain.

Chris nodded solemnly. “Ok. Come on, get up front. We don’t have any time to waste.”

“At least we know Jensen’s not where you guys kept me,” Jared pointed out as he stumbled out of the back and got in front. “So where do you think he is? You don’t think Welling’s already… you know?” He couldn’t even say it.

“Killed him?” Chris shook his head, putting the van in gear. “He can’t risk someone finding the body. Not while the will stands as it does. But if Jensen just goes missing… Then Welling has years to rule the company before Jensen’s sister can declare him legally dead.” He gave Jared a cold smile as he swung unto the road. “And we both know Welling is good at making people disappear.”

Jared swallowed. “Yeah,” he said weakly. “Fuck.” Plenty of people out there who’d be willing to pay lots of money for a pretty face like Jensen’s.

“We’ll find him,” Chris said grimly. “Don’t you for one minute think I’ll let them hurt him. Ok? You hear me?”

Jared nodded even if he felt anything but reassured. They both knew how easily people could disappear and never be seen again, especially if someone like Welling was in a hurry to make it happen. Jared swallowed the lump in his throat and willed the van to go faster. ‘Anyone touch you, Jen,’ he thought, ‘and I’ll fucking kill them, I swear.’

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“You’re insane, you know that?” Jensen gritted out. His head was spinning and the only thing keeping him from losing his lunch was that 1) he hadn’t had any and 2) being tied down in a chair meant he’d puke all over himself and he really didn’t want to add that to the sweat and blood and possibly a few tears already staining his t-shirt. Maybe if Mike got close enough Jensen could puke on him instead, as a bonus to the bloody nose Jensen had already given the guy when he head-butted him. That would be all kinds of awesome. Although considering the state Jensen was in at the moment just being able to breathe was sort of awesome so maybe he wasn’t the best judge of awesomeness.

At least the blood wasn’t his. They’d been very careful of that, not ‘damaging the merchandise’ as Welling had worded it. Jensen didn’t really want to think about what that meant. Still, apparently there were a million ways to hurt a person without leaving a single mark. He wasn’t sure exactly why they were torturing him, it wasn’t like he had any secrets to tell. And they’d made it pretty clear he wasn’t going anywhere so it wasn’t meant as a warning. As far as he could tell Mike just liked hurting people for no good reason. And Welling was too busy being a crazy person to care.

“That is a matter of opinion,” Welling said indifferently in answer to his question. “And I’m afraid yours isn’t worth much, Jenny boy.”

“What the hell do you think you’ll accomplish? If you kill me Mac will get my share and the first thing she’ll do is get rid off you.”

Welling shrugged. “Not if she’s… unavailable.”

Jensen froze. “What?”

“One word and I’ll have her on a plane to Saudi Arabia. They do love Western girls down there. Too bad they never last long in those brothels.” He said it casually, like he was talking about cattle, not human beings.

Jensen struggled to get out of the chair, spitting with rage. “If you touch her I’ll…”

“What?” Welling cut him off. “Do what, Ackles? You don’t seem to understand just how grave your situation is. How about I explain it to you? You, my dear boy, are nothing. You no longer exist so nothing you say or do matters.” He gave Jensen a cold smile that had shivers running down his spine. “Now if you do want a somewhat brighter future for your sister I have a couple of suggestions. Whether you decide to follow them or not is entirely up to you. It doesn’t really change anything for me. In fact, not having to deal with your little bitch of a sister would make things a lot easier. But I’m a fair man so I will give you this: Sign your share over to me and I’ll leave her alone.”

“And if I don’t?”

Welling shrugged. “Lets hope little Mac likes it rough.”

God, he was going to be sick. “How do I know you won’t go after her anyway?”

Welling frowned as if the idea was absurd. “Why would I? I’d already have what I’m after.”

Jensen stared at the man. Maybe it just was that simple for him. Seeing human beings as currency. It really was all about money to him. At least that might work in Jensen’s favor.

“Alright, let’s say I believe you,” he said slowly. “My share of the company for her life. So how much do you want for my life?”

Welling snorted. “Your life? Don’t be stupid, boy. You really think I’m about to let you walk out of here with everything you know?” He laughed again, shaking his head in amusement.

“So what? You’re gonna kill me?”

Welling stopped laughing. He looked insulted. “I’m not a barbarian, Ackles. This isn’t the mob. This is business.” He waved his hand dismissively. “I’m not going to kill you, I’m going to sell you.” He looked dismayed for a moment. “Too bad really. Ten years ago I would have gotten a fortune for that pretty face. Still, there are a few years left in you I suppose. And if my sources are right you’re not that much used.”

Jensen just stared at him, speechless. He wanted to scream and yell but he couldn’t remember a single word.

“Soon as my doctor has given you a clean bill of health I have a couple of buyers waiting,” Welling continued. “It shouldn’t take much longer than a week.” He gave Jensen a brief smile. “Time enough to practice your submission skills. These men rarely go for anything else.”

“You are insane. And a fucking sicko.” Jensen swallowed. “Jared was right, you were going to sell him back then.”

“Jared?” Welling looked at him, surprised. “Oh yes, Padalecki. He was a feisty one. I would have loved a second chance at selling him but there just isn’t a market for men his size. Too intimidating apparently.” He frowned slightly. “You’re borderline, really. They prefer the twinky ones. But with a face like that… There’s always someone willing to take the risk.” He shrugged. “And then there are drugs of course, if you do put up a fight. But really, most people are quick to break. Nothing like a couple of gang bangs to put a man in his place.”

“Fuck you!” Jensen growled but it sounded weak even in his own ears. He was utterly and royally screwed. In all meanings of the word. Suddenly puking all over himself didn’t seem like such a bad idea anymore. Maybe if he was disgusting enough no on would want him. Wouldn’t want to… Oh God.

Welling barely shot him a glance. “Clean that up, Mike. And bring me some coffee.”

Mike cursed and threw Jensen a filthy glare. “Fucking disgusting,” he muttered. “Should let him clean it himself. With his goddamn tongue.”

Jensen sat silent and dazed as Mike filled a bucket from the sink by the wall. He barely flinched when the cold water was thrown over him. He felt numb, like he’d puked out all his feelings and all that was left was this cold fear and the certainty that he was doomed. They were going to sell him, like a fucking blow-up doll. There was nothing he could do to escape and no one had any idea where to look for him. Except Jared and… Jared was dead. God, Jared was dead! And for real this time. Jensen would never see him again, never talk to him or kiss him or… Had he even told him he loved him? He couldn’t remember. How could he not remember?

Jensen dropped his head and tried to block out everything but the memory of Jared’s face, smiling at him happily. ‘I’m so goddamn sorry, Jared,’ he grieved silently. ‘God, I’m so sorry.’

There was a knock on the door and he stiffened in fear. Guess this was it.

“I was told to pick up a delivery,” a bored sounding voice said and Jensen’s head snapped up.

He didn’t dare turn around but he’d know that lazy drawl anywhere. His heart hammered in his chest and for the first time since he’d woken up tied to the damn chair he felt something akin to hope.

“He’s not ready yet,” Mike snarled. “I’m not done with him.”

“Mike,” Welling warned coldly.

“You said I could have some fun first,” Mike whined. “Not like he’s a fucking virgin.”

Jensen swallowed. ‘Please, Chris, get me out of here,’ he silently begged.

“You want me to take him or not?” Chris said, a little edge to his voice now.

Welling sighed. “Come back in an hour. He should be done by then.”

“I don’t have time…” Chris started but Welling cut him off.

“Your time belongs to me. If I tell you to come back in an hour you come back in an hour. Understood?”

There was a long silence.

“I…” Chris started but just then there was a loud noise and someone burst through the door.

“Look what I found, boss,” a voice said. “Our little lawyer friend.”

Jensen’s head whipped around in shock. Jared? Oh God, it was Jared! Bruised and bloody and pissed of, with a gun aimed at his head, but alive! Jensen didn’t know how it was possible and at the moment he didn’t care. He just wanted to cry with relief. And be free out of the damn chair so he could hug Jared and feel him solid and warm in his arms.

“Jensen!” Jared yelled, seeming not to care about the gun at all. “Are you hurt? Did they hurt you?”

“I’m okay,” Jensen managed. “You… you’re not dead!”

“No, he’s not,” Welling said coldly. “Someone obviously did not do their job. Well, that’s easily rectified. Chase, kill him.”

Chris looked uncertain for a moment. “You could always sell them as a package deal,” he tried.

Welling glared at him irritated. “That one is more trouble than he’s worth. Literally. I have no use for him. And now you have something to spend that hour on,” he added and gave Chris a condescending smile. “Get going.”

Chris clenched his jaw. “Fuck this,” he said, pulled out a gun and shot the guard holding Jared, right between the eyes.

The room descended into chaos. Mike pulled a gun from his jacket so Jensen threw himself forward in the chair, attempting to knock him over. He only succeeded in falling flat on his face but it was enough of a distraction that Mike moved the gun from Jared to him instead, slamming the butt down on Jensen’s head. He then started kicking him hard in the ribs and stomach, again and again. Jensen tried to twist away but he was stuck in the chair and defenseless. Just when he thought one more kick would make him black out someone suddenly threw Mike away like a rag doll. Jensen managed to raise his head, looking up just in time to see Jared turn around and take a step toward him, larger than life and grinning in hysterical relief.

“Jensen…”

A loud gunshot echoed in the room and Jared jerked forward, his eyes going wide for a second before his knees gave out and he crumbled to the floor.

Jensen screamed. He thrashed in the chair, struggling to get free, completely lost in panic. “Jared!”

He was vaguely aware of Mike stumbling to his feet, gun in hand, but he couldn’t find it in him to care as he stared frantically at Jared’s still form, willing him to please, please get up.

“Who’s gonna save you now?” Mike snarled as he raised his gun. Jensen closed his eyes, thinking of Jared’s smile as he waited for the shot to ring. But when it came it wasn’t as loud as he expected and… it didn’t hurt. He hesitantly opened his eyes just in time to watch Mike fall back with a neat hole in his chest.

Jensen twisted in the chair, trying to see what was happening. There was shouting and guns being fired and he couldn’t see anything!

“Chris!” he yelled.

Someone suddenly came up behind him and he panicked, kicking and thrashing helplessly.

“Be still if you want me to untie you.”

Jensen instantly stilled. “Steve?”

“The one and only.”

“What are you doing here? What is happening?” He groaned as Steve slipped a knife through the ropes holding him. “Steve, Jared! He’s hurt. That fucker shot him. Oh God.”

“I know. Be still.”

His hands were finally free and he didn’t waste time waiting for Steve to untie his ankles but crawled toward Jared where he lay dead still on the floor. There was so much blood. Oh God, there was so much blood!

“Jared!” He laid his hand on Jared’s cheek. “Don’t you die on me. Don’t you fucking dare die on me, you stupid asshole.”

Jared didn’t move. His skin felt cool and the blood was warm and he was going to die. Oh God, Jared was gonna die.

“Fuck no, you can not do this to me. Not now. I love you, you goddamn moron. Don’t you fucking dare leave me! Steve!”

“I got it, I got it.” Steve pushed him aside and rolled Jared over on his stomach, hissing when he saw the hole in his back. Jensen wasn’t an expert but that looked too damn close to the heart. He wanted to cry.

“Is he…?”

Steve shook his head. “He’s still alive but he won’t be for long unless we get him to a hospital. Chris?”

It was only now that Jensen realized that everything had gone quiet. He looked back to see Tom lying dead on the floor as well as a couple of other guys – his goons no doubt – and Chris standing over them with a grim look on his face, punching frantically the buttons on his phone.

“I’m on it,” he said and as Jensen turned back to Jared he heard Chris ask for an ambulance, “… right the fuck now!”

Jensen cradled Jared’s head in his lap, one hand fisted in his jacket. Jared was still wearing the clothes he’d been in when Jensen kissed him goodbye at the airport, now rumpled and bloody, and the realization made him hitch his breath. “Come on, come on, come on,” he whispered. “Please.”

Jared lay slack and silent, bloody and pale and Jensen had never been as scared in his whole life. If Jared died… He couldn’t even finish that thought.

‘You died on me once,’ he pleaded silently, ‘I thought you’d died on me again. I’m not letting you do it a third time. I won’t. I won’t.’

In the distance sirens could be heard, slowly approaching.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~Epilogue~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
“Do you want a jacket? You should have a jacket.”

Jared shook his head and squinted up at the sun. “Don’t need one.”

Jensen looked uncertain for a minute then shook his head as well. “It might get cold. I won’t be a minute…” He turned to head back inside but Jared grabbed his arm, stopping him.

“Dude, will you cut it out? I’m fine. It’s almost eighty degrees, the sun is shining… I’m good.”

Jensen hesitated, biting his lip in obvious worry. “But…”

Jared laid one arm over his shoulder, pulling him close. “If I get cold I’ll just kiss you and woof, I’m on fire.”

“Funny,” Jensen muttered but he didn’t shrug him off even if his shoulders remained tense until they were across the street where there was shelter against the slight warm breeze.

They wandered down the street, basking in the sun and stopping every now and then under the pretense of kissing, both knowing Jensen was doing it deliberately to make sure they weren’t going to fast. Jared wanted to tell Jensen to relax, that there was nothing to worry about, to stop being such a goddamn mother hen, but he didn’t.

It had been touch and go there for a while and he knew that if their roles had been reversed he’d probably still be insisting Jensen stayed in bed and never even took a breath without Jared watching over him. Didn’t matter that it had been weeks and he was basically as good as new. He still ached from where the bullet had drilled through his ribcage, breaking one rib and bruising another then piercing his left lung before getting stuck half an inch from his heart. And he still got tired if he overexerted himself, not that Jensen ever let him do much at all. But even walking, like now, had him sweating more than he should and he quickly got out of breath at a pace that had old ladies easily surpassing him. Still, he was fine, more or less, and all the fussing was starting to annoy him. Plus he kinda missed the Jensen from before. The one that laughed and smiled and didn’t look like he was going to break into tears every time Jared so much as coughed.

Jared had laughed at him once. It had seemed ridiculous, Jensen insisting on him not getting out of bed or standing up from the couch without someone watching over him to be ready to catch him if he should fall. That someone being Jensen, 24/7.

“Dude, I’m not dying,” Jared had said, laughing, and Jensen had gone absolutely still then turned around and walked out of the bedroom. For a moment Jared was too amused to take it seriously, thinking Jensen was being silly and just needed a moment to get over himself. But when he didn’t come back and the apartment was too quiet for comfort, Jared had carefully slipped out of bed and gone to investigate. Only to find Jensen hunched over on the couch, head in his hands and shoulders shaking.

“Hey,” he’d said, startled. “Hey, what’s wrong? Jen?”

Jensen’s head had snapped up, eyes red and face wet with tears, and then he’d jumped up, glaring at Jared with such anger he’d staggered back and almost lost his balance.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Jensen had hissed and hurried to steady him. “Are you fucking insane?”

“I was just…” Jared had started as Jensen lowered him down on the couch but that was as far as he got before Jensen had blown up.

Just? You almost died and you don’t even fucking care!” he’d yelled. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Jared had blinked, taken aback. “Dude, chill…”

“Chill?” Jensen had hissed. “Don’t you fucking tell me to chill! You want to die, is that it? Are you fucking suicidal?”

“Jensen, you’re being overdramatic,” Jared had said cautiously. He’d started to get up but one look from Jensen and he’d instantly sunk back on the couch.

“I thought you were gonna die! Again! Just like I got you killed then, I thought I’d done it again. My fault!”

“I didn’t really die then…” Jared had objected, quickly shutting up when the vein at Jensen’s temple popped out dangerously.

“I didn’t know that!” he’d yelled. “I lost you, Jared! Twice! And I could have lost you again and you… you just…” He’d stopped, breathing heavily, before spitting out, “I fucking love you, you stupid asshole. Do you get that? I love you and you keep dying on me.”

“Jensen…”

Jensen had closed his eyes, jaw clenched so tight Jared had thought he could hear the teeth cracking. “Shut up!”

“I’m ok.”

“Shut up! Shut the fuck up! You can’t just…”

Jared had grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him close, wrapping his arms around Jensen’s waist and laying his cheek against his heaving stomach. “I’m ok. Jensen, I’m ok. I’m not going anywhere.”

Jensen had stood stiff, so tense he’d been vibrating, and then he’d suddenly slumped, wrapping his arms around Jared’s neck and breathing against the top of his head. “I could have lost you,” he’d whispered. “Again. I could have lost you again.”

“I know,” Jared had said softly. “But you didn’t.”

“But I could have.” Jensen had sunk down to his knees, head resting in Jared’s lap. “I need you to be safe. I can’t… I just need to know you’re safe.”

“Ok,” Jared had said, running his fingers through Jensen’s matt and unruly hair. He’d wondered when Jensen had last taken a shower. Or slept. Or eaten real food. He hadn’t noticed until then just how wrecked the whole ordeal had left Jensen and the realization had made him feel horribly guilty. “Ok, Jen. You’re right. We’ll do this your way.”

Jensen had nodded but he hadn’t looked up. Finally Jared had pulled at him until he’d reluctantly crawled up on the couch, head still in Jared’s lap, and there he’d fallen asleep within minutes. Wasn’t until half an hour later that Jared had remembered that the reason he’d wanted to get out of bed in the first place was because he’d needed to pee. He still hadn’t moved for another hour.

 

“What’s up?” Jensen said suddenly, pulling Jared out of his train of thought. “You’re all quiet.”

He shook his head. “Nothing. Just this. Nice weather. Some pretty guy keeps kissing me. Life is good.” He smiled and Jensen gave him a brief smile back. It wasn’t much but Jared still considered it a victory.

“Only you,” Jensen said incredulous. “Dude, you got kidnapped and shot and you still think life is beautiful.”

“Well, I also got a boyfriend that loves me, I have friends that care enough to put up with said boyfriend even if he accuses them of trying to kill me, I have a sister that has finally forgiven me for abandoning her and, if I play my cards right, I might even get laid sometime in the far, far away future.”

Jensen glanced up at him, frowning. “What?”

“Sex. Remember sex? I do, vaguely.” Jared grinned at Jensen, hoping he wouldn’t take offence. “I seem to recall we were pretty good at it.”

Jensen sighed. “Jared, I…” He looked away. “I’m just worried, ok?”

“I know,” Jared said mildly. “But I’m fine. And more importantly,” he added in a lighter voice, “I’m horny. I want to have sex with my boyfriend before I get so old I’ll need Viagra.”

A small smile tugged at the corner of Jensen’s lips. “You do realize you’re only twenty four?”

“Yes. Which means I’m at my sexual peak and I need to get laid.” He stopped, turning Jensen to face him. “Plus, I miss you.”

Jensen frowned. “I’m right here,” he said, sounding a little annoyed.

Jared cupped his cheek. “I miss you, Jen. I miss your smile and I miss your laugh and I miss you being happy.”

“I am happy,” Jensen objected, now clearly irritated.

“No, you’re worried. And scared and sure I’m going to suddenly drop down dead. Or disappear. Or just leave.” Jared sighed when Jensen looked away, lips thin. “Jen, I’m not going anywhere. Except out of my mind because sleeping next to you and kissing you and just… just being near you without doing anything, it’s driving me absolutely insane.” He ran his fingers down Jensen’s cheek to his chin then tilted his face up to meet his eyes. “Unless you don’t want to anymore?”

Jensen looked startled. “Why would you think that?”

Jared just held his gaze patiently.

Jensen swallowed. “I… I do want. Fuck, Jared, of course I want you. But you… I mean, what if…?”

“If what? Unless your dick shoots bullets I don’t think we have anything to worry about.”

“That’s not funny,” Jensen scowled.

“Come on, it’s a little funny.” Jared grinned at him. “I’ll let you do all the work, how’s that? I can just lie there and think of king and country while you fuck my brains out.”

Jensen flushed deep red. “Jared!”

“Or you can ride me? Just bounce away on my dick, like a bunny.” He smirked as Jensen noticeably shifted, obviously fighting not to adjust his pants. “That is if you think you can take me,” he added lightly.

Jensen stilled, his eyes narrowing. “Dude, I can take you.”

Jared gave him a doubtful look. “You sure? I’m kind of big. And your ass is such a tiny, tiny little thing.” Jared pulled Jensen closer to cup said ass in his hands. “See?”

“I know what you’re trying to do, jerk,” Jensen said, his lips twitching. He squirmed when Jared gave his ass a little squeeze before letting go.

“Well, duh,” Jared said, grinning. “It’s kinda obvious. Question is, is it working?”

Jensen looked over his shoulder the way they were going, then back at Jared. “I thought we were going for coffee.”

Jared shrugged. “I’d rather have sex.”

Jensen pursed his lips. “I was going to buy you that cake you like so much,” he said. “With the strawberries? And extra whipped cream.”

Pretending to think for a moment Jared then shook his head. “Nope. Sex is better.”

Jensen bit his lip but he couldn’t hide the smile. “They have candy at half-price at the store on Saturdays. We could swing by after we’ve had our coffee and cake.”

Jared just looked at him, eyebrows raised.

“Ok,” Jensen relented with a dramatic sigh. “I guess we can have sex if you really want it that bad. God, you’re such a slut.”

Jared whooped and then kissed him hard before turning him around in the direction of the apartment. “Let’s go.”

“Man, you’re really drooling for it,” Jensen snorted but he did pick up his pace a little.

“Sexual. Peak,” Jared pointed out. “It’s all downhill from here. I just want to enjoy it while I can.”

“You saying I’m over the hill?” Jensen asked, looking insulted.

“Well, you are almost thirty.”

Jensen glared at him. “Oh, you’re on now. I’m going to wear you out, youngster. And then we’ll see who’s over the hill.”

“Bring it on,” Jared said with a smirk.

~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~:~
They hardly made it inside the elevator before Jared had Jensen pushed up against the wall, kissing him hard. “Want you so bad. Fucking cocktease.”

“Me?” Jensen gasped as Jared latched on to his neck. “You’ve said the word ‘sex’ about five billion times in the last fifteen minutes. I’m surprised I can walk.”

“And you have been you.” Jared pushed their hips together, letting Jensen feel just how desperate he was. “Every day, every fucking hour. For weeks.”

“Technically I’ve been me for twenty nine years…” Jensen started but that was as far as he got before Jared was moaning into his mouth and fucking it with his tongue.

They didn’t pull apart until the elevator pinged open and even then they kept on kissing and clinging to each other as they made their way across the hall and to the apartment door. It took some fumbling with the keys but finally they were inside and Jensen didn’t even have time to kick off his shoes before Jared was down on his knees, unbuttoning Jensen’s jeans and pulling him out.

“Holy… ngh!”

He was having a hard time remembering why they hadn’t done this for so long but then his knee accidentally connected with Jared’s chest and the loud gasp of pain as Jared pulled off was a terrifying reminder.

“Jesus, I’m sorry.” Jensen patted him frantically, feeling scared and so stupid for thinking Jared was ready. He should have said no. Why didn’t he say no? “Fuck, are you okay? Jared?”

Jared grimaced and stumbled to his feet. “I’m fine. Bedroom,” he said firmly and grabbed Jensen’s hand, dragging him along.

“Jared, I don’t think we should…” Jensen tried to protest but Jared just pulled him into the bedroom, closed the door and then gave him a stern look.

“Jensen, stop stalling and start stripping,” he said calmly. “I’m going to fuck you and nothing you say or do is going to stop me.”

Jensen swallowed, fingers automatically starting to work on the buttons on his shirt. Fucking Pavlov. “What, no means yes in your book?” he asked, trying to sound annoyed but it just came out breathless.

“Only when no is you being a worrywart and yes means me finally getting some after weeks of denial.” Jared pulled the t-shirt over his head and then gave Jensen a grin. “Unless no really means no and you’d rather stand there and watch me jerk off all over your bed.”

Our bed,” Jensen rectified absentmindedly. “And Jesus, Jared, don’t say stuff like that,” he groaned, pressing the heel of his hand down against his dick to keep from coming on the spot. “You’re not the only one that’s been deprived, ok?”

Jared snorted. “How did you get into that hole again? Oh yeah, you dug it!”

“Shut up,” Jensen muttered, throwing the shirt aside and quickly undoing his jeans. “See me ever worrying about you ever again, asshole.”

Jared just laughed and shoved down his pants and boxers, kicking them off before laying down on the bed. He shot Jensen a smug grin then spread his legs, hand sliding down his chest past the still red scar below his left nipple and over his flat stomach. Jensen stood stock-still, suddenly having completely forgotten how to breathe.

“Like what you see?” Jared said with a smirk and then wrapped his fingers around his cock, stroking it slowly. His mouth fell open on a groan and he closed his eyes, rolling his neck and licking his lips. “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff. Fuck, Jen.”

“Jesus,” Jensen breathed, stumbling in his haste to get out of his jeans. “Jesus fuck, Jared, look at you.”

“Look later,” Jared panted. “Touch now. Dammit, Jensen, just fucking touch me.”

“I’m coming. I’m coming.” He kicked out his leg to untangle his foot from his underwear and then crawled up on the bed. “Where?” he asked hesitantly, suddenly feeling nervous again. The red scar seemed to scream up at him, like if he dared to even touch it, it would burst open, blood pouring from the wound.

“Everywhere! Been too long. You haven’t…” Jared hissed when Jensen hesitantly laid a hand on his leg. “Yes. Come on.”

Jensen slid his hand up Jared’s thigh as he leaned over, breathing nervously into his ear before leaving a trail of kisses down his neck. He felt awkward and worried, not knowing where to put his hands or how much Jared could take. Still afraid to touch Jared’s chest, to put any weight on it, he slid down on the bed, pressing his front up against Jared’s side and kissing his neck and shoulder as he stroke one hand across Jared’s hip and then spread his fingers over the flat stomach.

“Yes,” Jared whispered, hitching his breath. “Touch me, Jen. God, I’ve missed you touching me.”

He sounded so desperate, so hungry, like he’d been starving for it. Jensen dropped his head, closing his eyes, just taking in the musky scent of Jared, the warmth of his skin and the rapid beating of his heart

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m sorry I haven’t... God Jared, I’ve just been so...”

Long fingers came up to rake through his hair, pressing him closer before tugging lightly so he would lift his head. He met Jared’s eyes gazing at him softly. “Jensen? Shut up. You’re being a girl again.”

Jensen laughed shakily. “Fuck you.” He raised himself up on his elbow, trying to ignore the red scar on Jared’s chest but his eyes kept sliding over, remembering the blood and the panic and the coldness of Jared’s pale skin. Remembering thinking this was it, this time Jared wasn’t coming back. He shuddered, hitching his breath without even meaning to.

“I don’t know what to do,” he blurted out. “What if…? Dammit, Jared, what if I hurt you and…”

“You want to know what I want?” Jared cut in, laying his hand over Jensen’s on his stomach and braiding their fingers together. “I want you to suck me,” he continued in a calm voice as he lifted their joined hands and moved them to his dick, wrapping them both around it. “I want you to suck my cock into that pretty mouth of yours and get me real wet.” He started to stroke himself, fingers squeezing Jensen’s to tighten his grip as he held his gaze. “And then I want you to finger yourself open while I watch. Get you all slick inside. And when you’re ready I want you to sit on my cock and ride me like a goddamn pony. Think you can do that?”

Jensen blinked. His throat felt dry and his breath was hitching and he was so damn hard he was aching. “Yeah,” he breathed out. “I can do that.”

“Good.” Jared pulled Jensen’s head down for a hard kiss, fucking his mouth aggressively with his tongue before pushing him away as he settled back down on the pillows. “Then get to it,” he said, eyes dark and demanding.

Jensen nodded eagerly then quickly slid down the bed, heart hammering in his chest. Jesus. If he thought Jared as a pushy bottom was a turn on, Jared as a top was gonna kill him.

He didn’t waste any time – they’d do the whole slow and easy later, he figured – but circled the root of Jared’s cock with his fingers, licked his lips and then slipped them over the head. Above him Jared sucked in his breath, his hips jerking a little until Jensen pressed his free hand down on Jared’s hipbone, keeping him still. Jared’s dick was hot and solid in his mouth, the salty taste achingly familiar on his tongue. God, he’d missed this. He let Jared slide further in, pausing briefly as the head touched the back of his throat and then kept going, swallowing again and again as he struggled not to choke.

Jared’s hand fumbled for Jensen’s head, fingers once again threading through his hair and then tightening until it was almost painful. “Fuck, yes,” he whispered, voice hoarse. “Wanna fuck your mouth.”

Jensen moaned deep down in his chest and eagerly pushed up into Jared’s hand. The fingers tightened even further and then Jared was jerking his hips, one huge hand holding Jensen’s head in place as Jared fucked his throat. Jensen couldn’t breathe, tears were leaking from the corners of his eyes and his jaw and throat hurt more with every thrust. It was too much, he was going to choke and pass out and he fucking loved it.

He was starting to get seriously lightheaded when Jared suddenly tugged at his hair, pulling him off. “Fuck,” he gasped. “You just let me…? Jesus, Jensen!”

Jensen’s head dropped down on Jared’s thigh, his chest heaving as he sucked in air through his bruised throat.

“Are you okay? Jen?” Jared was sitting up, palming Jensen’s cheek and rubbing a thumb over his swollen lips. “Hey.”

“’M good,” Jensen said hoarsely. “Why’d you stop?”

“Your eyes rolled back in your head, man. Jesus!” Jared pulled him up and kissed him hard. “Don’t want you choking on my dick, ok?” he laughed shakily.

“Ilikechokinonyourdick,” Jensen mumbled, feeling his face flush.

“What?”

“I liked it, ok? When you…” Jensen waved his hand lamely. “You know. It was good.”

Jared stared at him. “You have some weird kinks, man.”

Jensen blushed even deeper. “Shut up,” he grumbled. “You’re the one that went all caveman on me. ‘Suck my dick and ride me like a pony’,” he quoted in an exaggerated deep voice. “Can’t do that and expect a guy not to submit.”

Jared smirked. “Yeah? Well, if that’s the case…” He pulled Jensen in for another hard kiss then pushed him away, gazing at him with dark eyes. “Get the lube. Unless you want me to just spit on my dick and fuck you like that.”

Something close to a whimper escaped Jensen’s lips. Jesus, to have Jared’s cock pushing its way inside on nothing but a little spit, the thought was almost enough to have him come on the spot. Fortunately his brain was still partly working and able to acknowledge that however hot that fantasy was, the real thing wouldn’t be. In fact, considering Jared’s size and how long it had been since Jensen bottomed for anyone, the more lube the better. He rolled over and quickly found the tube of KY jelly in the drawer, then lay down on his back, knees up and apart as he squeezed a generous amount onto his fingers. He could feel Jared watching him and it was ridiculous how much it turned him on.

“Yeah, like that,” Jared whispered as Jensen pushed one finger inside, getting everything slick before quickly sliding in another. Slow and easy was so not on tonight. It was a little uncomfortable but he let it wash over him and away, then pushed in as deep as he could and twisted and turned his fingers until he finally started to loosen.

“Fuck, you look so hot,” Jared breathed into his ear. He had rolled over to his side and was dropping kisses on Jensen’s shoulder as his fingers rubbed and twisted Jensen’s nipples. “Can’t wait to be inside you. Want to feel you. Want to fuck you so hard you’ll feel it for days.”

“Fuck yeah,” Jensen groaned. He pulled out and rubbed his fingers together to smear the slick better then pushed three fingers in. Damn! He arched off the bed, eyes squeezed shut and mouth open on a moan. It was so much and so damn far from enough. He pushed them in as far as he could reach, twisting his hand awkwardly before growling in frustration. “Fuck this,” he hissed, pulling them out. “I’m ready.”

“You sure?” Jared asked, nibbling on his ear. “You sure you can take me?”

“Damn sure.” He impatiently pushed Jared over on his back as he scrambled to his knees, grabbing the condom and ripping it open with his teeth. He swiftly slid it on Jared’s cock and then swung one leg over, straddling him. “Just watch me,” he said, gazing down at Jared in challenge, and then he slowly pushed down.

It burned and stretched and filled him up until he thought he couldn’t take anymore. He stared down at Jared’s flushed face, eyes wide and shining. Jared was holding onto his biceps, steadying him, knees bent to offer support. For all his cockiness earlier, now he looked almost shocked, like he didn’t believe they were actually doing this. “Jesus, Jensen,” he said in a strangled voice and Jensen took a deep breath then pushed all the way down.

For a while they stayed like that, absolutely still and breathing heavily, both staring into the other’s eyes. Then Jensen slowly sucked in his breath and raised himself up. His eyes slid close as he set a lazy rhythm, hands on his own thighs since he was still afraid to put any weight on Jared’s chest. His thighs soon started trembling though, with sweat running down from his temple and his breath coming in shallow gasps. It was so damn good it almost hurt. He could hear Jared’s ragged breathing, feel his fingers dig into his own thighs. Jared was warm and solid underneath him, hot and slick inside him. The whole room smelled of him and the taste of him coated Jensen’s tongue. And it suddenly hit Jensen, that yes, he had almost lost all this, had almost lost Jared but not really. Jared was here and he was alive and he wasn’t going anywhere.

He stopped moving and opened his eyes to meet Jared’s eyes gazing up at him, dark and desperate. Jared was biting his lip, jaw clenched, his skin gleaming with sweat and the scar standing out even brighter than before. He looked big and strong and so damn beautiful he took Jensen’s breath away.

“You’re ok,” Jensen said dazed. “You’re really ok.”

Jared looked confused for a moment but then his eyes softened. “Yes,” he said and smiled. “I’m ok. Jensen, I’m really ok.”

He reached up and curled a hand behind Jensen’s neck, pulling him down for a kiss. Jensen propped himself up on one hand, careful to not put pressure on Jared’s chest but it was hard when Jared kept trying to pull him closer. They had a moment of awkward struggle but then Jared growled and before Jensen realized what was happening he was suddenly on his back, Jared looming over him with a predatory gleam in his eyes.

“Let me show you just how ok I am,” he said in a hoarse voice.

“You shouldn’t…” Jensen tried but that was as far as he got before Jared pulled back and then slammed into him, hard. Jensen gasped and grabbed Jared’s shoulder, his fingers digging in deep as he arched off the bed.

“Yes. Fuck yes. Been wanting this for too long,” Jared grunted, then slammed into him again, even harder. Jensen gasped, his feet automatically coming up to dig his heels into Jared’s ass, trying to get him even deeper.

“That’s it.” Jared leaned over, biting into Jensen’s collarbone then licking and sucking on the mark. “Gonna show you a whole new world.”

“Uhuh?” Jensen gasped. “With your dick?”

“Said I was gonna make you feel it for days,” Jared continued, ignoring him. “Think. You’ll. Feel. This?”

Oh, he definitely felt that. And that. And oh my fucking God, that! “That all you’ve got?” he grunted, canting his hips to make Jared hit that spot again. “Cos I’ve had better.” He gasped when Jared hit his prostate even harder. “Are you sure it’s even in yet?”

Jared laughed out loud, his whole body shaking with it but he didn’t stop for one moment. “You talk to much,” he pointed out.

Jensen stared up at him with dark eyes. “Then shut me up.”

They kissed, hard and deep, teeth clicking and tongues battling, until Jared suddenly stiffened and sucked in his breath.

“I’m gonna…” he gasped.

“Yeah, come on,” Jensen urged on breathlessly. “Want to see you.”

“No, no, wait.”

Jared frantically slipped a hand between them and then his long fingers were wrapped around Jensen’s dick, jerking him off in quick desperate strokes. Jensen hardly had time to appreciate the gesture before he was coming so hard his vision momentarily blanked out. Through the haze he heard Jared gasp and he forced his eyes open just in time to see Jared open his mouth on a silent cry, his eyes wide in shock. Jensen shot up his hands, only barely managing to catch Jared by the shoulders before he could crash down on him.

With his very last strength he rolled Jared over on his side and lowered him gently on the bed before slumping down, fighting to catch his breath. “That was…” he tried but had to give up, his brain and vocal cords too tired to function.

“Good?” Jared grunted into his hair.

“Yeah. That.”

Jared snorted. “Eloquent.”

Jensen smiled and bit Jared’s collarbone. “Shut up.”

He grimaced as he felt Jared’s cock starting to slip out. “Condom,” he said tiredly, reaching down and pulling it off. “I have to…” He paused then shrugged and threw it over his shoulder. It fell with a wet plop on the floor. Or possibly on their clothes. He didn’t really care. He was sweaty and tired, with come glued to his stomach and his ass aching like he’d just been fucked by a Sasquatch. In short he was way too comfortable to move. Like ever.

“Sleep,” he mumbled and was already slipping into unconsciousness when he felt Jared shift beside him and then the covers were being draped over him, tucking him in.

“Love you,” Jared whispered into his ear, arm tightening around him.

“Mhm,” Jensen agreed.

Jared kissed his shoulder. “Not going anywhere, I promise.”

“Good,” he muttered, snuggling even closer.

“Told you I was fine,” Jared said smugly and nuzzled into his neck. “Better than fine. Wore you out.”

“Jared?” Jensen murmured.

“Yeah?”

“Shut up.”

He fell asleep with Jared’s muffled laughter warming his neck.

Fin