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JADE - Jensen Ackles Doesn't Exist

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Part 1

Jensen Ackles doesn’t exist.

You could knock on every door in his apartment building, and no one would know who you’re asking about. Someone might, after you’ve given a lengthy physical description, put two and two together, and realise that you might be talking about that guy in 13B, who never looks you in the eye and just made some stuttering noises the first time they said hello. Then they’ll tell you that they never got more than stuttering noises, so after the third or fourth time they just stopped trying and forgot all about him.

You could ask at the museum he works in, but the name Jensen Ackles will just draw blank stares from the people working there. You might, if you’re lucky, stumble on one of the security guards working the graveyard shift. One of them might, might, recall that janitor, whose eyes are always glued to the ground, and who, after ten years, still hasn’t said a word to anyone.

You can’t get in touch with any friends, because he doesn’t have any; any attempt to locate a family member would be a waste of time because, well, he doesn’t have any of those either. In fact, the only person who really knows that Jensen Ackles exists is, well, Jensen Ackles, and, to be honest, most days not even he is so sure about that.

Jensen Ackles is thirty years old, and no one on this planet sees him. He’s invisible -- a shadow walking among normal people who have friends, and lovers and a family.

It’s not as if he hasn’t tried connecting-- with other people, that is; he has tried. He’s just really bad at it. He can’t seem to get any further than broken-off sounds that stick in his throat; and even if he did, even if he could talk to people, what would he say?

“Hi, my name is Jensen Ackles. My parents died when I was a baby; I have no memory of them. Child Protective Services put me in foster care with a paranoid, sadistic old couple who was convinced that the Soviet Union was going to launch the bomb at us at any moment. So my childhood was spent mostly in our “bomb shelter”, which really was only an ordinary basement, painted with special “radiation resistant” lavender paint.

And, to make sure I didn’t turn “red,” they spent the majority of their time beating me half to death. They kicked me out when they found an acceptance letter from a college, which apparently really wasn’t an acceptance letter from a college but a “secret message” from the “red bastards,” and how could I stay with them when I had now been “recruited”?

So, I have no social skills, no idea how to interact with other people. I don’t understand any social pop-cultural references because they never let me watch TV, and the only movies that were allowed in the house were old propaganda films. And no matter how hard I try to learn, to catch up with everything I missed, it will always be far too obvious that I’m damaged, so you’ll always feel uncomfortable in my presence.”

No, he might be socially inadequate, but even he understands that this wouldn’t be a good thing to say.

So, he lives his life as best as he can, goes through his daily routines and tries to be content with what little he has. He’s Jensen Ackles, and no one sees him, and that’s how it’s going to stay for however long he’s got the strength to hang on and not give in to the call of the .38 revolver in his nightstand.

 

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That’s probably why it happens to him; no one sees him, so no one will miss him. It’s obvious that they’ve done their homework. Jensen always comes in once the museum closes and everyone except the security guards have left. That way he can avoid having to talk to anyone. He can just slip by the bored security guards busy with whatever game they’re watching on their little TV.

Every day is the same, every move slowly etched into his bones from years and years of repeating them. He doesn’t like his job, who would? But, being him, it’s the best he can ever dream of getting.

When he started high school his art teacher made them learn traditional black and white darkroom photography. The first class was as close to a religious experience as he'll ever get. Suddenly he understood that the world around him contains more than one reality, realities that you can only see though a camera lens.

His foster father, "Mr. Blue" (Jensen still doesn't know if that really was their last name or if it was made-up, was a junk rat, he'd always come home with one useful thing after another,

"Because you just don't know what we'll need after the bomb hits, Jensen, remember that, boy."

He had an entire room where the walls where fitted from top to bottom with shelves filled to the brim of "useful things"; one of them, and probably the only truly useful thing in there, was an old "Kodak Brownie" camera. It might have been almost thirty years old but it worked, and what's more Mr. Blue actually let him use it.

Not that he didn't curse that small act of kindness later, blaming that old beaten up camera for all that was wrong with Jensen. For Jensen betraying them by applying (with the help and encouragement from his art teacher) and what's worse, being accepted to School of visual arts in New York.

Turns out Mr. Blue didn't really have much to worry about. Yes, Jensen did leave, or was kicked out depending who side of the story you'd listen to. But the point is he did leave and he did go to college.

At least for a little while; the thing is, you don't really know how damaged you are until you're faced with people who are not... and there were a lot of undamaged people there.

He tried, he really did, but it didn't take long for what little hope, self esteem and happiness he'd felt at being free to crumble to dust and start him on the path that's lead him here.

So, Jensen wants to be a photographer; snapping pictures of people around him makes him feel close, like he has some semblance of human contact without actually having to approach them. But it will never be anything more than a hobby; you can’t be a real photographer without interacting with people. So he comes here every night, sweeping floors, wiping benches, scrubbing toilets. It’s what he does, and he hates every minute of it, but someone like him can’t ask for more.

In hindsight he realises that, had he just stayed put, had he not worried about the shoelace sticking out from under the desk where he was hiding, they probably wouldn’t have seen him.

But they did.

The night his life is turned upside down is just like any other night; it’s just typical that the first person to actually really see him turns out to be a thief. He doesn’t notice that anything is wrong, doesn’t hear them coming, doesn’t see them looting the Renaissance wing It’s not until he reaches the security guards’ desk a little too early and sees it empty that he starts wondering. When he notices the blank security monitors, and a small speckle of blood on the desk's shiny surface, he knows without a doubt that this night is going to end badly.

If he’d been thinking straight, if he wasn’t crippled with fear, he probably would have tried to make it to an exit, gotten the hell out of there or even tried to find a better place to hide than under the desk. But he didn’t; he crawled under the desk, sitting down with his arms around his knees, trying to make himself as small as possible. It’s when he hears hushed voices approaching that he notices the shoelace, hanging untied from his boot, the end of it sticking out from under the desk. He doesn’t think things through; he just reacts, reaching out and pulling it in under the desk. When the hushed voices turn into screaming silence, he knows that was a big mistake.

A few short seconds goes by, his racing heart beating out a steady sound of tick tack, tick tack, inside of him until.

“Well, hello there. You’re a bit early, aren’t you, Jensen?”

He shuts his eyes tightly, burrowing his head down between his knees, telling himself that if he doesn’t look at the intruder, he won’t be a witness; and if he’s not a witness they’ll have no need to hurt him.

He can hear the voices starting up again.

“Well shit, what do we do now?”

“Just knock him out and throw him in with the guards, he won’t be able to identify us anyhow.”

“We don’t know that. Fuck! He could have been sneaking around here the whole time without us noticing. Damn it, for all we know the cops could be on their way.”

“Jared?” The voice, a little bit rougher and with a slight twang to it sounds questioning, like waiting for a decision to be made.

“I guess there’s only one thing to do. Chad, go to the employee changing room and see if he’s got some stuff there, if he does, bring it.”

“Jensen, look at me.”

He keeps his head hidden between his knees, until one large hand grabs the back of his neck and pulls it up, forcing him to meet hazel eyes.

“I have good news, and bad news, for you, Jensen. The bad news is that you chose the wrong day to be good at your job. The good news is that you get to take a vacation.”

He doesn’t understand at first, not even when strong hands pull him out from under the desk, and a black cloth is tied over his eyes. Even as duct tape is put over his mouth, and hard metal snaps around his wrists, he still doesn’t understand. It’s not until those same hands hoist him up over a firm shoulder just a little too easily that he starts to realise that maybe, just maybe, he’s in even bigger trouble then he thought.

He feels the cool night air hit his face and then the body beneath him taking a few short steps upward, and then he's inside again. He’s carefully put down on a soft mattress; the unmistakable sound of a large engine starts up, and he knows, right there and then, as whatever he’s in starts moving, that he is without a doubt, absolutely fucked.

 

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Part 2

He’s not sure how long he lies there, hearing people moving around, talking in hushed voices without him being able to make out any actual words. All he knows is that whatever he’s in is driving away, fast, and he has no idea where it's going. Eventually he can make out the sound of heavy footsteps coming his way. When the sound stops he can feel the mattress dip as someone sits down beside him. A warm hand touches his face.

“How’re you holding up, Jensen? Look, you don’t have to worry; no one’s going to hurt you. We just couldn’t risk leaving you there. If I take away the gag, do you promise not to scream?”

If Jensen was the type of person who laughed, he figures this would be something to laugh about. He can’t even talk to people; most times he can’t even produce any type of sound, so screaming? No, he’s not a screamer. Of course, the man beside him doesn’t know that.

“Jensen, you’re gonna have to nod your head or something if you want me to take it off.”

So he does, because even if he never talks or makes sounds, it’s still not a very nice feeling to have a piece of duct tape covering your mouth.

“Alright, good. This is gonna hurt a bit.”

As the tape is swiftly ripped off, Jensen thinks that the “a bit” comment might have been a slight understatement on the other man's part. To put it bluntly, it hurts like a son of a bitch. Instinctivly, his tongue comes out to moisten his stinging lips. He hears the sound of a soda can being opened, and then a hand slides behind his head to hold it up as the can is pushed to his lips, and the sickly sweet taste of Coke is poured into his mouth.

“Jensen, what is this, did you hear me, boy, what is this!?!”

He can feel his heart pounding in his chest, Mr. Blue is so damn big and he -- he's an eight year old existing on a diet made up of food that comes in cans and boxes.

“Coke...”

It's just a soda, but he knows, knows that in his world, it's so much more.

“What the hell were you thinking, bringing this poison into my house?”

He just wanted to feel normal, just wanted to do something he can see the other children on their street do all the time. He just thought that maybe if he could do what they do, then maybe just for a little while he could be them.

“But, it’s... I was thirsty, and it’s American so...”

What do you say? He can't say anything, he's eight years old but he's still knows, knows when it doesn't matter what he says. Anyway, what do you say to a crazy person?

“American? You think this is American, Jensen? I don’t even know why I bother with you; you just never learn. This is not American, Jensen. Everyone knows that the Coca-Cola Company is secretly owned by the Union and is run by undercover KGB agents. They want to poison us, Jensen; don’t you know that one of the main ingredients is Amphetamine? They want to turn us all into drug addicts.”

When you can't say anything you grasp at straws, and when you can't even get any of those you turn to the only option you have left.

You beg.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think...”

“No you didn’t! You never do, Jensen, you never think.”

Of course it never helps. Begging, pleading, apologizing, it never makes a difference. It's never about how much you need to learn a lesson, instead it's all about how much he wants to teach it.

“Please, I’m sorry. Please don’t.”

Mr. Blue is so damn big...

“You gotta learn, Jensen; it’s for your own good.”

...and you're so small.

The taste is kind of disappointing; he’s never been able to drink it again, not even after he left. As the taste fills his mouth, it’s not as exotic and forbidden as he remembers those few mouthfuls he once had. But then considering the beating he took, it’s probably not that strange that he’s subconsciously made the drink into so much more than it really is.

Disappointing or not, it’s still kind of nice, so he keeps swallowing, until the bubbles go to his nose, and he tries to move away. The can is pulled away, along with the hand behind his neck, and he’s left lying on his back once again. He expects the man to leave, but instead, Jensen feels the bed dip some more, until he can feel his side pressing into another body, and he realises that the man has lain down beside him.

He can feel his body go rigid as a finger touches his face and starts tracing the line of his jaw.

“Relax, Jensen, I’m just looking.” Jensen thinks that his kidnapper needs to Google the word ‘looking,’ especially considering that the finger tracing his jaw is now a hand cupping his face while a rough thumb traces his bottom lip. “Well, maybe I’m touching a bit too, but, damn, if you’ve looked into a mirror recently you wouldn’t blame me.”

If Jensen was brave he’d probably put up a fight, try to get away or maybe even just move his head, do something to make it clear that he’s not appreciating the attention. But then, Jensen learned long ago that putting up a fight usually leads to it hurting more than it would have to begin with. It’s better to just take whatever it is they want to dish out from the start; even if it might not hurt less, it’s over quicker.

Suddenly the hand is removed, and the bed dips again as his jailor stands up. Jensen can hear the sound of blinds being let down and shut, and then a light being switched on, before the bed dips again.

“I’m gonna take the blindfold off now, ok? You don’t need to wear it in here.” He feels rough fingers against the back of his head as the black cloth covering his eyes is removed. He quickly shuts his eyes as the bright light assaults them. A few moments later he blinks a little, before he’s able to open them without any discomfort.

As a result of having his eyesight back, Jensen realises two things. One, he’s lying on a bed in a tiny room; the door isn’t closed, so he can see into a hallway lined with two bunks on either side and further to a kitchen and seating area. He can’t see all the way to the end, but he knows nonetheless, that he’s on one of those big-ass buses that bands use for touring.

The other thing is that the man next to him is, as he suspected, the same one he saw in the museum. Jensen allows himself to really look this time; after all he’s already been kidnapped, so he doesn’t think getting a better look at his assailant will make any difference now.

He’s big; naturally it would take a big guy to hoist Jensen over his shoulder like a damn ragdoll. Which makes it an even less of a surprise that he’s ripped. He’s wearing black sweat pants, and a white wife-beater, which does nothing to hide the fact that he’s in no way a stranger to lifting heavy things.

The biggest surprise however is that he looks kind. An art-thief who apparently has no problem kidnapping someone shouldn’t look kind. But he does, with his floppy brown hair, his slanting eyes that manage to stay warm even while intensely fixed on his victim.

It’s the eyes that make Jensen lower his own; he’s not used to people looking at him, much less like they’re trying to see him.

“So, Jensen... it’s nice, really nice, to finally see you in a room that’s not dark.” The kidnapper lies down on his side on the bed; his head resting on one propped-up hand facing Jensen. “I’m Jared, in case you’re wondering. How’re you feeling?”

He’s not sure if Jared actually expects an answer, not that he would get one either way, but as he continues talking without really allowing enough time for an answer Jensen figures his speech disability won’t really matter.

“It’s probably not how you pictured your night ending, huh? Yeah, I can see that. You weren’t exactly in our plans either. Look, just so you know, we’re not gonna execute you or chop you up into pieces and bury the parts all over the country. We just need some time to finish our business, and when that’s done we’ll... figure something out.”

It’s a little comforting, although the “figuring something out” part is just a little too hazy for his taste. Also he’d like to know just how long “some time” is, and, well, it’s probably all lies anyway, and they’re probably already making plans to turn him into fish food, but it’s a nice gesture.

“And hey, with a little luck, by then you’ll have succumbed to my charm and overall manliness and decided that you like being my hostage and stay of your own free will, and we’ll have lots of dirty sex on top of the filthy amount of money I’ll have made.”

Jared must have noticed the way his eyes widen, and his face turning a shade paler, because he adds soon after, “Too soon? Yeah, I can see that. My mistake, we’ll let you get settled into all of this, before we talk about me seducing you again. Although you really should consider it; we’re gonna be spending a lot of time together for the next few weeks, months, years... Well, to be honest, I’m not sure about exactly how long we’ll be spending together, but, anyway! I’m hot and manly, and you, well, you’re too man-pretty to be true, and where we’re going it’s gonna be many long days and nights so... yeah ok, too soon, right. I’m starving, you hungry? Of course you are, so... food. You’re really quiet, you know that?”

Jared gets up from the bed and moves to walk out of the room, while Jensen does his best to try and process the millions of words leaving Jared’s mouth a mile a minute. Suddenly he stops again and turns around, “Oh, and also I’m freaking incredible in bed, so, really, think about it,” before he turns back and heads towards the kitchen.

Jared returns a few minutes later, carrying what looks like a very big stainless steel mixing bowl in one hand, and two bottles of soda in the other. He puts the items down on the small bedside table before sitting down on the bed beside Jensen, reaching out and pulling him up into a sitting position, letting him lean against the wall behind the bed. He reaches over to the table and picks up the bowl setting it down in his lap. Jensen looks down in the bowl seeing it filled to the brim with what’s undoubtedly macaroni and cheese from a box and a spoon standing up in the middle of it.

Jared catches him looking and shrugs his shoulders a little as he says; “Sorry, it’s all we got right now. The food will get better as soon as we get off this damn bus.” Jared picks up the spoon and shovels a big bite into his mouth, before filling the spoon again and bringing it to Jensen’s mouth. He knows the taste even before the spoon enters his mouth, hates it, but there’s no way of knowing when he’ll be fed again, so he accepts it.

 

He hates these damn shelves, hates them with a passion. Hates every box, every can, hates Mrs. Blue’s neat lines and her weekly inventory.

“Mac and cheese?”

“Twelve boxes, Mrs. Blue.”

“Baked beans?”

“Eight cans, Mrs. Blue.”

“Vegetable soup?”

“Thirteen cans, Mrs. Blue.”

The lunch ladies at school smile at him, joking in a kind way about how he's the only ten-year-old they've ever meet who'd rather have salad than fries. Of course, they don't know. Don't know that dinner usually is cold soup from a can, "To harden you boy, you need to learn to appreciate food, in whatever form it comes."

They don't know that your "Sunday roast" is stale Macaroni and Cheese. "The Blue's" can't even splurge on any of the good brands, instead buying the generic brand boxes in bulk from the local dollar store.

“Condensed milk?”

“Six cans, Mrs. Blue.”

“Green peas?”

“Twenty cans, Mrs. Blue.”

“Chicken broth?”

“Three cans, Mrs. Blue.”

“Instant soup?”

“Five chicken, three mushroom, six pea, and twelve boxes of noodle flavoured, Mrs. Blue.”

“Good. It’s important to have a generous supply of food, Jensen. We never know when the bomb will come; and when it does, we won’t be able to go to the store, because there won’t be one. Understand, boy?”

“Yes, Mrs. Blue.”

Of course you do, what you don't understand is why you have to live like it before the bomb has hit.

"You can’t have food that needs to be stored in a fridge or freezer when the bomb comes. There'll be no electricity; you need food you can cook on a camping stove. Why a camping stove, boy?”

“Because they run on gasoline, and you can stock up on gasoline, and in a worst case scenario you can use it over a fire, Mrs. Blue.”

Yeah, you can say the right things, you’ve learnt the answers to their questions; of course, they can never answer yours, like when or even if that damn bomb is ever gonna come.

Jared thankfully keeps quiet as he alternates between feeding himself and Jensen. Once the bowl is empty, he opens one of the soda bottles and gives Jensen some of the drink before finishing off the bottle himself. “So, do you like, ever talk, at all? I mean, I get that this whole situation is a little overwhelming, and maybe a bit scary and all that; but I’d at least expect you to try and scream or something. Is it just me?”

Jensen might not be able to talk, but he can at least shake his head, so he does; it seems safer to let the giant beside him know that talking just isn’t his thing. “So, what, you don’t talk to anyone, ever?”

Jensen gives a small shake. “Oh, well, ok then. I mean, it’s a little weird; but, hey, to each his own, right? Also the whole nodding and shaking is good, oral communication is seriously overrated sometimes anyway."

Jared stops for a moment to blast a wide grin before adding, "Unless, of course, it's oral communication not involving words - that can be really good."

From Jared's expectant look Jensen realises that he's waiting for some kind of reaction, it takes a while for the words to sink in and just a little while longer for Jensen's eyes to widen as he finally understands.

All the while Jared’s smile just gets bigger and bigger before he finally leans forward and places a chaste kiss on Jensen's cheek. "Oh baby, you're just precious aren't you."

And then the moment is over and Jared goes back to his fast ramblings.

"So, hey, I think you realise that you’re pretty screwed, and the chance of escape is non-existent; so how about we make a deal. If you promise to behave and stay in this room, I’ll take off the handcuffs. How about that?”

Jensen does realise that he’s screwed. Also, even if there was a chance of escaping the bus, what would he do? He’s got no idea where he is, no way of communicating his situation to other people, no money, and no clothes except the ugly blue work coverall he’s wearing. So he nods his head again, wordlessly trying to communicate that he promises to stay put.

“Ok, great. And, just so you know, I don’t like it when people don’t do as I say.” Jared’s eyes suddenly grow a shade darker as he turns to Jensen, cupping his chin and forcing him to meet his eyes. “Seriously, though, I meant what I said before. No one here is going to hurt you, but you’ve got to do as I say. You really don’t want to piss me off. Okay?”

Jensen’s mouth suddenly feels dry as he realises that, verbal diarrhoea and goofy charms aside, Jared is far from the boy next door. Not that the whole robbing a museum and kidnapping him thing hadn’t already tipped him off, but it’s suddenly painstakingly clear that Jared isn’t someone you mess with.

Jensen looks at Jared with wide eyes, his tongue moistening suddenly dry lips while giving a shaky nod. And then, just like that, Jared is all smiles and mischief again. “Good, I knew you’d see it my way.” Jared takes out a small key from a pocket in his sweats and unlocks the cuffs. “Look, I’m gonna have to take over the driving in a few hours, so I’m gonna need to get some shut- eye, but I thought you’d like a trip to the bathroom first, maybe take a shower, and then we’ll try and find you some other, more comfortable, clothes.”

This time Jared doesn’t wait for Jensen to nod before he pulls him up from the bed and ushers him out of the room.
They make their way through the hallway with the bunks, while passing Jensen can see two bodies occupying two bottom ones, and into the main area, where Jared opens a small door leading into a tiny bathroom.

In the front Jensen can see the back of a head with long blond hair occupying the driver's seat. Through the large windshield he can see them speeding down a big freeway, but there are no signs in sight, so the road could be leading anywhere.

“Jensen...” His eyes snap away from the road and up to meet Jared’s warning gaze. “...bathroom, now.” Jensen walks into the tiny space and does his business before somewhat hesitantly stripping out of his blue coveralls and boxers and stepping into the miniature shower.

He showers quickly, giving himself just enough time to wash his hair. He freezes as he hears the door opening, but when it quickly closes again he relaxes again and turns off the shower. When he steps out he can see that his old clothes are gone, and a towel is lying on the floor by the door. Once he’s picked it up and wrapped it around himself, he can see some new clothes and a toothbrush as well. He dries off as fast as he can, brushes his teeth, and puts on the clothes provided for him. The boxers fit, but he has to pull the string as tightly as possible on the black sweats, the long legs pooling around his feet. The sleeves on the green, loose fitting t-shirt come down far below his hands, and he has to fold them up.

He dries off his hair, hangs up the towel, and opens the door, revealing Jared standing right outside. “That was fast. Come on let’s get some sleep.” Jared leads him back to the small back room and folds down the covers, motioning to him to get in. As Jensen lies down, he quickly closes his eyes, waiting to hear the door closing as Jared walks out to one of the bunks; it never comes. Instead, he hears the bed groan in protest as Jared climbs in after him and lies down beside him.

Jensen tries to sit up, but a heavy arm settles around his waist, pulling him in flush against Jared’s body. “Jeez, Jensen, relax. I’m not gonna molest you while you sleep. When we have sex you’re gonna be a very willing participant, belive me. But you didn’t honestly expect me to sleep in one of those bunks did you? I’m 6' 4"; I can barely fit into this bed, much less one of those. Now just settle down and stop wiggling round so we can get some sleep.”

Jensen does stop wiggling around, but he knows there’s no way in hell he’ll be able to relax and get some sleep while sharing a bed with his oversized keeper.

What Jensen fails to consider is that Jared is really warm and snuggly, and that his even breathing, together with the rhythmic hum of the motor, and the wavy feeling of constant movement, is as sedating as any prescription drug available; and, whether he likes it or not, he soon feels himself drifting off to sleep.

 

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Part 3

When Jensen slowly starts to wake up again, he knows he's not alone in the small room. What is surprising is that instead of Jared, Jensen sees a smaller, man - one with piercing blue eyes and long brown hair sitting beside him on the bed. The man is looking straight forward, and when Jensen looks in that direction he notices a flat screen attached to the wall. The TV is on but the sound has been muted, for which Jensen is very grateful considering that the program appears to be some kind of wrestling. He knows it's all fake, but Jensen’s never been able to watch people getting beaten up, staged or not. It’s not that he’s overly empathetic or squeamish; it’s just that, well, he’s been beaten up enough not to find any kind of amusement in it.

"Not your kind of thing?" The softly spoken words startle him. As he looks back over to the screen he sees one of the beefy guys getting pretend-punched in the gut; reflexively he flinches back from the screen. "Right…” The man beside him spends just a little too long watching him, and Jensen knows he just saw a lot more than most people would.

“Don’t worry, we'll watch something else. Any requests? No? Yeah, Jared said you weren't big on the whole talking thing, which is just fine with me. Of course, Jared is fine with it because he just never shuts up, and you talking would interfere with that. I'm fine with it, because I'm not a big talker myself. I’m Chris, by the way.”

Chris gets off the bed and walks over to the door, opening it a bit before he shouts, “Hey, Sleeping Beauty in here’s awake, how is it looking out there? I was gonna take him to the bathroom.”

Jared’s loud voice comes back to them, “Bring him out, just hold your hand in front of his eyes or something.”

And that’s exactly what happens, Chris moves behind him and brings his hands up in front of his eyes, probably to make sure he can't see out through the windows and be able to recognize anything, as he ushers him out to the bathroom again. Luckily the bathroom itself doesn’t have any windows, so at least he can go inside by himself.

While he’s inside he can hear Chris hollering again, “Hey Blondie, fix us some breakfast why don't you? Boy might be kidnapped but that’s no reason not to keep him well fed.”

From the front of the bus, Jared’s voice picks up where Chris left off, “Yeah, and try and find him something fresh, maybe some of that fruit we stocked up on at the gas station. I don’t think he likes the whole fast, pre-made food thing.”

A third voice joins the conversation, “Just shut up, the both of you, I know how to fix breakfast. And since when does your average kidnapping victim get to be fussy with their food? He should be glad he’s getting any at all.”

“Since we’re not your average kidnappers, that’s when.” The sharp tone of Chris's voice leaves no room for disagreement, and when they make it back to the room, and Jensen sees the bowl of cut-up fruit and the plate of sandwiches on the small table he guesses the message got through loud and clear.

Once again Chris settles in beside him on the bed and hands him the bowl of fruit and one of the sandwiches before tossing the remote his way.

“Pick something.” Jensen looks at Chris just to confirm what he said, and he nods his head. So Jensen picks up the remote and starts flipping though the limited amount of channels the bus offers. He finds a nature program he likes and looks over at Chris to see if it’s ok.

“Cats? Really?” Jensen moves to grab the remote again, thinking he needs to change the channel, but Chris stops him. “No, its fine; it’s just, cats - really?”

Jensen’s always liked cats, ever since that Sunday when he was seven years old and saw a real one for the first time. Sunday’s were always good days, first they took him to church, and they couldn’t beat him there, and then, since apparently not even the Communists were brave enough to defy God and start the apocalypse on His day of rest, he got to spend the day outside.

Granted “outside” was a junk-filled back yard, but it was still fresh air and a chance to get to see something of the world outside. He remembers sitting on the steps to the back door, a scrawny, bruised kid, too small and thin for his age, hearing the other kids on the street playing on the other side of the high wooden fence surrounding his house. A rustling noise made him turn his head and look towards the large tree on the next lot, some of its high, long branches hanging over the wooden fence.

And that’s when he saw it. There wasn’t anything special about that particular cat; it was gray, and an average size, but it climbed so gracefully, dodging the pebbles thrown at him by the kids on the street without any difficulty. Once it reached high enough to be out of throwing range it simply settled down on one of the branches, and fell asleep, completely unfazed by the commotion the snotty-nosed brats were creating far down beneath it.

He sat there on those steps for hours just watching and silently wondering how on earth it was ever going to be able to get down from that tree. When evening came and the cat finally woke up, it simply looked around, climbed down a few branches and then leapt right into the air. Jensen can still remember the feeling of terror gripping him as he saw the cat spinning in the air. It fell with a frightening speed towards the ground. He wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn’t; and because of that he got to see the cat land on its feet and strut away completely unharmed, unfazed by its long drop.

From that day on, Jensen wished he’d been born a cat. If he’d been a cat, he’d be able to climb high enough not to be caught; and, no matter what happened, he’d always land on his feet. Jensen thinks he probably had landed on his feet, just not quite as gracefully as that gray cat did. And when he left it wasn’t with a strut but with a limp. But at least he did leave.

So, Jensen watches the show he's picked with rapt attention, and slowly works his way through his sandwich and fruit.

If someone had ever seen him eat before, they’d probably call him picky. Jensen doesn’t think he’s picky; he’s just got an order to things. Just because he doesn’t stuff his mouth full and then swallow, gulping down food as fast as possible, doesn’t mean he’s picky; he just likes to take his time enjoying food now that he finally can.

“So, just out of curiosity, does it always take you five minutes to finish one grape?” Jensen looks over at Chris’s amused stare; he can’t do much more than just shrug his shoulders.

Thinking on the question, he probably does take a long time. But there’s a way to eating grapes, first you mush them up a bit then you nibble a little hole in the skin, then you suck out all the juice and loose pulp, after that you peel away the skin, and then after you’ve eaten the skin, you eat the rest of the grape. It’s not picky; it’s just the way it’s done.

When Chris doesn’t look away and just keeps staring, Jensen decides that even though he’s a kidnapper he’s really been kind of nice, so he picks up two grapes and hands one to Chris, holding out his own hand with his own grape between his fingers and begins to show him how it’s done.

As it turns out, it’s “Cat Week” on Animal Planet, so when one program about cats ends, another starts. Jensen’s completely engrossed in a program about a bunch of Thai Buddhist monks running a tiger shelter when he feels the bus stop. A few seconds later Jared comes into the room holding a pen and a piece of paper in his hand.

“Hey, how’s it going?”

“Oh, we're doing just fine. It’s ‘Cat Week’ on Animal Planet; we’re learning lots. For example, did you know that the common house cat is the most vicious and versatile hunter in the cat species?”

“Really? That’s fascinating.” Jared laughs, and Jensen can’t tell if it’s mocking or just amused. “Anyway, Chris, there’s a Wal-Mart out here, so we’re gonna start stocking up. You can make a list of the things you want, or you could go in when I come back.”

“Naw, man, it’s fine. Steve knows what I want.”

Jared nods his head and then turns to Jensen.

“Jensen, I’m gonna need you to write down your clothing and shoe sizes on this paper for me. Not that you don’t look good in my clothes, but I figure you’re gonna need some of your own.” Jared winks as he hands Jensen the pen and paper, and Jensen starts writing. “I’m thinking forest green… how do you feel about pink?”

At Jensen’s disbelieving stare Jared laughs again and then takes the paper and leaves, sending him another wink.

Jensen looks over at Chris, who just smiles a little and shakes his head, “Hard to believe he’s one of the world’s most talented art thieves, isn’t it?”

Jensen risks a nod before turning back to the TV; once again he gets pulled in by the small, peaceful men playing in a shallow pond with the large, powerful tigers, completely unafraid and carefree

When Jared returns an hour later he’s carrying two bags, one with a change of clothes for Jensen.

“I can take over now, Chris; go get some sleep before you have to take the wheel.”

Chris leaves the room with a smile and a small nod, and Jared takes his place on the bed. He hands the bag of clothes over to Jensen who quickly peeks inside and sighs in relief as not one single pink item can be seen.

Jared reaches into the other bag, takes out an oversized bag of gummy bears, opens it and shovels a full hand into his mouth before offering the bag to Jensen.

He’s had candy before, not as a child, of course, but the first night after he left, he went down to the local 7-11 and bought as much candy as he could carry and proceeded to sample every single thing. Predictably, he didn’t keep it down all that long. After that he kind of lost the taste for it, but it’s been a long time, so maybe it’s safe to try again in moderation.

“Jensen?” Jensen blinks and looks over at Jared, still holding out the bag for him. A few more seconds of internal debate and battle with his psychological conditioning goes by before he reaches out a tentative hand, takes hold of a few of the colorful bears, and pops one into his mouth.

As Jensen slowly chews, Jared stuffs in another mouthful before reaching in the shopping bag again and triumphantly pulling something out to hand over to Jensen. It takes him a moment to understand what it is; but as he looks down at the white, shiny surface, he realizes that it’s a miniature whiteboard with a pen attached, and a string fastened so you can hang it.

“How great is that? Now we can talk without you actually having to speak. I’m a genius; c'mon, tell me I’m a genius.” Jared motions to the whiteboard and then waits. “Jensen c'mon, you do know how to write, don’t you?”

Jensen nods his head, but Jared turns his head away; “No, no more shaking and nodding; use the board.” Jensen sighs silently but gives in and writes;

Yes, I know how to write.

“Excellent, we’re making progress. So, Jen, Pretty, you love me, don’t you? It’s ok, c'mon, tell me you love me.”

No.

“What? Why not?”

It’s said with a smile and a wink, so Jensen feels safe enough to write down the words;

Kidnapper!

“Still hung up on that are you… damn. Ok, but, Pretty, I’m awesome, you know, so really you should get over the whole kidnapper thing, so we can start enjoying our time together.”

It’s Jensen!

Jared laughs, “Oh, touchy are we? It's ok, I’m only messing with you. Anyway, I’m totally hot, and pretty damn irresistible, not to mention patient. I can wait.”

Forever is a long time.

“Well, look at you, give a guy a whiteboard, and he gets an attitude. I love it.”

Jared laughs a little again and shovels a hundred or so more gummy bears into his mouth before scooting down on the bed and turning his attention to the TV, and “Big Cats Diaries” currently showing.

“So, cats, really?”

 

Photobucket

 

Part 4

Jensen has no idea how long he’s actually been on the bus when it finally stops for good, but he figures it must be at least two to three days; which, considering they’ve been driving nonstop, means that they’re a long, long way from New York. For all Jensen knows, they might not even be in America anymore; they might as well be in Canada, or Mexico for that matter. Although, as far as he’s been able to tell, they’ve haven't passed any border controls. Then again, if you’re a successful art thief, you probably have enough money and connections to pay someone to let you cross a border without an inspection.

Jared’s been driving for the last five hours and when they’ve parked he comes into the small room.

“We’re here, Jensen; we finally get to get off this damn bus.”

Jared walks out and opens a cupboard right outside the door and takes something out. As he comes back into the room Jensen recognizes his own backpack.

“You can have this back now. Obviously we’ve taken your keys, wallet, and the wireless modem to your laptop, but you can keep the rest.” He hands Jensen the backpack before reaching down on the bed, picking up the small whiteboard and placing it around Jensen’s neck. “C’mon Jensen, time to see your home for the next few months.”

Jared reaches out and takes hold of his hand, holding it tightly as they walk through the bus and then finally outside. The first thing Jensen does is close his eyes and take a deep breath of fresh air. It’s cool and clean - clueing Jensen in that wherever they are, it's closer to Canada than Mexico. He finally opens his eyes, and his breath gets caught in his throat at the sight greeting him.

They’re literally in the middle of a forest, with century-old pine trees surrounding the small glade they’re in. Right in front of him is a large log cabin, and behind it a large, clear lake reflecting the towering, snow-clad mountains behind it. As he looks around, the door to the cabin opens and three people come out, one of them being Chris, and Jensen recognizes one of the others as the guy with long blond hair he saw driving the first day. Being able to finally see him from the front and not only the back of his head while in the driver’s seat, Jensen can see a round face and soft blue eyes. The other man is blond and blue-eyed as well, but his hair is short and spiky.

Jared introduces the long-haired man as Steve, and the other as Chad, before they continue emptying the bus and lugging things into the cabin.

Jared turns serious. “Jensen, I need you to really listen to me now, ok? We’re literally in the middle of nowhere. This forest goes on forever, and it’s nothing but pure, uninhabited wilderness. The only thing that leads to any kind of civilization is the road we came on, and I’m telling you now it’s at least a hundred and fifty miles to the nearest town. I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to do something stupid like try to escape. If you go into the forest, you’ll get lost, and we won’t be able to find you, so you’ll probably die. And if you take the road we’ll find you before you can get to the town, and you really don’t want to make us come find you, ok?”

Jensen begins to nod, but seeing Jared’s face he quickly takes hold of the whiteboard instead and writes.

Ok.

But Jared’s not finished. It surprises Jensen how quickly Jared can change from that candy-munching, fast-talking, goofy guy to this forceful, dominant person who, with a simple change in the tone of his voice, commands your attention.

“Look, I don’t want to have to lock you in a room. If you give me your word you won’t try to run away, I’ll let you walk around the house freely, and even go outside as long as you stay where we can see you. Do you understand?”

I understand.

“Do you promise?”

I promise

And then as fast as it came, Jared’s serious mood is gone. He smiles and throws an arm around Jensen’s shoulders as he leads him over to the cabin.

“This is a really nice place, Jen; you’ll like it here.”

It’s Jensen!

“Yeah, well, Jensen’s too long to moan out when we’re having sex, so I’m trying out Jen.”

Jensen silently starts to stutter as he feels an uncomfortable blush creep up his face.

Delusional!

“No, just confident in my manly super-hotness. You’ll succumb sooner or later, just wait and see.”

Jensen just rolls his eyes. If it’s one thing he’s learned during the two or three days on the bus, it’s that Jared’s confidence that he’ll succeed in getting Jensen to agree to sex is as strong as Jensen's is that he won’t.

He might have been forced to share a bed with Jared on the bus, and he might be slowly coming to the conclusion that, kidnapper or not, Jared’s kind of nice and a little funny. That, however, does not mean that he’s remotely attracted to Jared in any way or form. And, even if he was, Jensen’s only priority is making it out of this whole mess alive and in one piece.

The cabin is as huge inside as it looks from the outside. One whole side is take up by two big, en-suite bedrooms. That leaves the main area to hold the kitchen, dining area, and living room in one large, open space, comfortably furnished with dark leather furniture. On the other side there’s a rustic log staircase leading up to a loft and the third bedroom. Every available wall that looks toward the lake is fitted with large windows showing off the breathtaking view, and two large fireplaces are already lit, casting a warm glow around the large space.

Jared, who for some irritating reason is holding his hand again, drags Jensen toward the staircase. “As you’ve probably noticed, there are only three bedrooms, but five people. So, congratulations, Jen, you get to share with me again. I guess I could have put you up with one of the other guys, but I don’t think you’re ready to join Chris and Steve; they’ve got some seriously freaky stuff going on. And, well, that leaves Chad, and honestly, I wouldn’t force my worst enemy to share a room with him. Plus, I thought since we’re gonna start having sex any day now it’s just easier this way.”

Jensen huffs, drags his hand out of Jared’s grasp and picks up his board, determined to try and get the message through. He’s been able to ignore all the innuendos so far, but if he’s gonna have to share a room with him for God knows how long, this really has to stop.

No sex!!! NOT EVER!!!

“Honestly, Jen, you’re adorable.”

No really! You = evil kidnapper! Me = victim! No sex!

Jared booms out a laugh and shakes his head a little, “Adorable! C’mon, we get the loft. It’s the best room in the house; plus, the bed is amazing.”

When they reach the loft, Jensen has to agree with Jared, it really is the best room in the house. When you come up the stairs there’s a small landing and then a door leading into a large room with an adjoining bathroom. Just like downstairs, the wall towards the lakeside is fitted with large windows and a sliding door leading out onto a large terrace. The room is comfortably furnished, although somewhat cliché, with framed photographs of bears, cow-skin rugs, and a large, patchwork quilt covering the enormous bed. The bed is so huge that Jensen’s pretty sure they probably had to bring in the bed before they built the walls. Opposite the bed is a large fireplace, and over its mantel hangs a large flat screen TV.

In front of the windows stands a small desk with a matching chair. On either side of the bed there’s a nightstand with a lamp. The door to the bathroom is on the wall opposite the screen door, and beside it is an armoire. Cliché or not, it’s nice, really nice, so all in all, seeing as he can’t do much to change the situation he’s in, Jensen thinks that he’ll at least be comfortable, however long his kidnapping lasts.

“I’m gonna go and get the rest of our stuff, you can start unpacking.” Jared leaves the room, and Jensen takes of his backpack and sits down on the bed. He looks through the windows, down onto the lake. It’s the first time he’s been alone since he was taken, and considering he’s spent almost ten years alone, that's a lot of human contact to wrap his head around. He’s been around people, of course, but they haven’t actually been with him, just around him.

Jensen has routines, ways of doing things to keep him going, keep him sane, and suddenly everything’s been turned over, and he’s got no idea what to do. There are no routines here, no way of organizing his life, because he’s not the one making any decisions. The oversized master art thief/man-child called Jared controls very single aspect of his life now.

Jensen’s not convinced that will change just because they’re not on the bus anymore. He needs his routines, needs to know what he’ll be doing at all hours of the day. If he doesn’t, that leaves time for thinking, and that’s never a good thing, at least not for him. It's probably great to have some time alone with your thoughts when you have good things to think about, but when you're him, that just leads you down roads he really doesn't want to revisit. But it’s not in his hands anymore; Jared is his master of time now, and all Jensen can hope for is that he’ll be able to hold on. He’s got a million angry demons inside of him, constantly trying to claw their way out and finish him off; he’s already slipped up and let some of them out in these few short days. Somehow he’s got to find a way to keep them tightly secured in their traps, he just has to.

Jensen sighs and starts opening his backpack. He can’t do anything to change the situation he’s in. The best he can do is try and get settled and see what will happen. He reaches inside the pack, takes out the few items of clothing, then carries them over to the armoire and starts putting them away on the shelves on one side, leaving the other empty for Jared.

Then he takes out his laptop, now lacking its modem, and places it on the small desk. That only leaves one more thing. Jensen’s surprised they let him keep it, but honestly he’s not much of a threat, and if he has no problem seeing that, they certainly don’t.

He reaches in and pulls out the square bag taking up most of the space in the backpack. He places the empty backpack in the armoire before sitting down on the bed again and opens the bag containing the one possession he really values.

It’s not the most famous brand, but still a well known one. And, of course, it’s not anywhere near the quality professional photographers use, but it's good enough to produce the quality he wants in his pictures. It’s certainly not the most expensive model on the market, but it still took him almost a year to save up for the digital camera he now takes from its case.

It’s his link to the world around him and part of his daily routine. Jensen usually finishes his work by five am. After that he goes down to a small early bird café, buys a bagel and a take-away coffee, and walks down to Central Park. He always walks to the same part of the park, sits on the same bench, and eats his breakfast, before he picks up his camera and starts taking pictures of his surroundings. He likes it that way--likes snapping pictures of the same people and things. He likes seeing the consistency of constant change. He has hundreds of pictures of the same woman, jogging the same route everyday and still--still every single picture is unique. Her hair is always in a ponytail, always brown in color, but depending on the weather, season, light, it’s always a different shade. He took the first picture of her over six years ago, back then she was overweight, her steps heavy, and her breathing strained as she passed him. On his last picture of her, taken just a few days ago, she’s slim, her steps light. She’s the same person as that first day, but now completely transformed. Jensen likes seeing people change, taking control of themselves and their lives, becoming who they want to be; it brings him hope. If they can change, there might be just the slightest chance he can too. Maybe he can learn to open up, learn to interact with the people around him so he can finally be a part of something and not just a spectator.

He stands up and walks over to the sliding door leading to the terrace, opens it and walks outside. He shivers a little as the cool air hits him; he’s only wearing sweatpants and a thin, long-sleeved t-shirt, and it's colder here than New York is this time of year. Jensen looks down over the clear lake, the high mountains and green forest at their base. He lifts the camera to his face, and then he’s gone, lost in a place where nothing in the world exists, except for what he can see through the lens.

He doesn’t hear the door to the room open, doesn’t notice Jared coming out on the deck, lean against the wall, watching him, as he zooms in on a fallen tree overgrown by moss on a small hill to one side of the house. In a city, all colours become smudged, muted by twenty-four-seven neon lights and tall buildings that block out the natural light. Here, every colour stands out, screams at him, in a million different shades, all in one place. Jensen can’t ever remember seeing green like that of the moss.

It’s not until he feels a shiver run down his back, and the air around him becoming warmer, that he realises someone is standing right behind his back. He turns his head and finds himself nose to nose with Jared. He wasn’t prepared for him to be quite so close, and as he moves away a bit too quickly, he stumbles backwards. The only thing that keeps him from falling are Jared’s strong hands gripping him around his waist and hauling him back up to stand straight, flush against his larger body.

“Careful, Jensen. You okay? I didn’t mean to scare you.”

Jensen nods as he tries to squirm free from Jared’s hold, but Jared won’t let go.

“Relax, Jen. I just want to see what you’re shooting so many pictures of. C’mon, show me.”

He’s never shown his pictures to anyone--ever--but right now he needs some serious distraction from Jared’s hands gripping his hips. He lifts the camera and puts it in view mode, his hands shaking a little as Jared leans his chin against his shoulder to look down on the camera display. Jensen wants to explain that you can’t really see the pictures like this; it’s not until you’ve transferred them into the computer and can view them in a decent size that you’ll really see the photo.

“That’s really nice, Jensen. You’re really good at this, you know?” Jensen just shrugs his shoulders, not used to, or able, to accept praise.

“Although I really think there are more interesting things than dead, moss-covered trees for you to focus that talent on. Like me.”

Jared lets go and steps away, moving over to the wall leaning back against it, reaching down and pulling up his shirt a bit showing off sharp hipbones and parts of a defined six-pack, looking right at Jensen “Now tell me that this isn’t more interesting than some old tree. C’mon, take my picture, and immortalise this unearthly hotness.”

The whole situation is so ridiculous that Jensen can’t help smiling as he shakes his head and walks inside.

“What? Hey, what about taking my picture? Jensen, take my picture.” Jared comes in after him, “You know, if I didn’t know you’re crazy hot for my body, I might be hurt. I know, it’s hard. My hotness is all-consuming and just too hard to handle for some people.”

Jensen rolls his eyes as he walks over to the bed and starts putting away the camera. Jared follows and sits down just beside where he’s standing, a big, cheeky smile grazing his lips.

“Ok, so no picture of me this time. That’s ok; I know there’ll be a time in the not so distant future where you’ll be snapping away at me constantly. I mean, it’s gonna get almost unbearable, you know. I can just see it now: you following me around like a damn paparazzo, and I’ll be all like, ‘Jen, enough, I know I’m gorgeous, but, seriously, there must be something else you can do besides taking pictures of me.’ And you’ll be all, ‘No, Jared, there isn’t; you’re just so good-looking, it’s like staring at the sun: you know it’s bad for you, but you just can’t stop.’ Really Jen, it’s not healthy.”

Jensen’s finishes putting away the camera, then reaches over for his board.

Humility not one of your stronger traits then?

Jared lets out a roaring laugh, “Humility is for ugly people.”

You’re a horrible person!

“I’m lovely. You’ll see, give me a week or two, and you’ll be completely smitten.”

Not likely.

“So you keep saying...” Jared gets up from the bed, reaches out and takes his hand, and grabs his board with the other. “C’mon, let’s go down stairs, Chris’ cooking.”

Jensen tries to pry his hand away from Jared’s, but he’s got a strong grip and isn’t letting go. Not even when they come downstairs and find Steve and Chris standing in the kitchen area fixing dinner does Jared let go. Instead he just walks them over to the kitchen bar and pulls out one of the bar stools for Jensen, before he sits down on the one beside it, still keeping Jensen’s hand tightly clasped in his own.

“Hey, Jensen. You want a beer?” Chris is standing by the open fridge, already holding out a cold bottle. Jensen starts to shake his head, but Jared puts down the board in front of him.

No thank you. Soda?

“Sure.” Chris reaches in and takes out a can of Coke and puts it down in front of Jensen, giving the beer to Jared. He takes out two more beers, and hands one to Steve before walking over to them again to lean on the bar opposite Jensen.

“How are you holding up, Jen? Jared giving you any trouble?”

Sexual harassment count as trouble?

Steve comes up behind Chris and smiles as he reads the board, “Nah, that’s just Jared.”

“Hey! What do you mean sexual harassment? I’m only giving you a few friendly suggestions on how we could be spending our time together. Anyway, I’m trying to make you feel comfortable and safe, aren’t I? You know, show you we have friendly intentions, so you won’t walk around waiting to be axe-murdered or something.”

Jensen looks over at Jared crooking one brow, and Jared just smiles, completely unashamed. Jensen can’t really wrap his head around these people. They’re undoubtedly thieves who just robbed a museum and kidnapped him; but on the other hand, they’ve all been nice - really nice - talking to him like he belongs here, like he’s just dropped by for a beer, and not someone they’ve stolen along with a bunch of paintings.

“Jensen, you with us?” Jensen snaps back to reality and looks over at Chris, who’s staring at him. “You do know you’re not gonna get axe-murdered, right? I mean, we all get this is not really an ideal situation, and that it’s really gonna mess things up for you, but once all of this is over, we’re gonna make sure you’ll be ok.”

There’s not really much he can say to that. If they say he’s not gonna be hurt, he’s got no choice but to take their word for it, so he just nods. After that the conversation drifts in other directions, most of them Jensen’s not able to follow. Soon dinner is ready, and they move to the table. Jensen looks around, expecting Chad to join them, but he doesn’t. As Steve brings the food to the table, and Jared starts putting food on his plate, he can’t help but ask. After all, it’s kind of rude to start before everyone’s at the table.

Chad?

Steve looks at the board and smiles a little, “Chad, yeah, he keeps to himself. You’re not gonna be seeing much of him; he stays in his room with his computers, and honestly that’s better for all of us.”

The food - steak with roasted potatoes - is really nice. The conversation between the three men is easy, and Jensen gets the feeling that they must have known each other for a really long time. For obvious reasons, Jensen doesn’t contribute much; but, even if he could, he’s too busy trying to wrap his head around the massive amount of food Jared’s managing to put away. Chris must catch him looking, because he lets out a laugh at the disbelieving look on his face as Jared refills his plate for a third time.

Jared looks over and sees him eyeing his plate and smiles around the fork in his mouth. Once he’s removed it and swallowed, he says, “I’m a growing boy, Jen, I need my sustenance.”

Once everyone’s plates are empty Steve gets up from the table and starts clearing away everything. Chris gets up and grabs everyone except Jensen another beer.

“You want anything, Jen?”

He does, he wants it so badly he can almost taste it so with a small glimmer of hope he writes:

Coffe?

Ten minutes later, he’s sitting at the table nursing a large cup of steaming, hot coffee. He brings the cup to his face, closes his eyes in contentment as the aroma hits his nose, and can’t help the small, quiet moan that escapes his lips as the hot liquid fills his mouth. When he finally puts the cup down and opens his eyes, he’s met by three faces, staring at him, a dark look he doesn’t understand in their eyes.

“Ok, so now we know Jensen has a slightly pornographic relation to his coffee, and because of that we should make sure he’s got free access to it at all times.”

Jensen looks at Jared, a frown grazing his brow.

What?

Jared just leans back in his chair and smiles while shaking his head a little.

“You have no idea, do you?”

He really doesn’t; Jensen looks over at Chris and Steve, hoping that they’ll clarify what just happened a little. Steve doesn’t say anything, but Chris does, or at least he tries, “Jen, you’re just... the look on your face while you were drinking that coffee it--you’re just so damned man-pretty. You don’t have a clue how it affects people around you, and that just makes you even more appealing.”

Jensen just looks at Chris; he’s never given his appearance much consideration. As far as he’s concerned, it’s never mattered what he looks like. Sure he notices looks, but as soon as people approach him and realise what a basket-case he is, whatever he might look like doesn’t matter, or at least not enough to make them try a little bit harder to connect with him.

“See this is what I keep saying. Adorable!”

Jensen turns his head and looks right into Jared’s warm eyes as they observe him. As he reaches for his cup again, as he brings it to his mouth, he sees Jared leaning forward a bit, keeping his eyes fixed on Jensen’s mouth. Jensen feels a flush creeping up his cheeks and puts the cup down again;

Stop staring at me!

“I can’t.”

Stop it!!!

“No really, I can’t. Have some more coffee, Jen.”

Not until you stop staring.

Jared won’t stop, and Jensen's torn between giving in to the lure of his coffee, and the uncomfortable sensation of Jared’s intense stare. It’s Steve who finally saves him.

“Jared, for God's sake, stop harassing him and let him drink his coffee in peace.”

“Oh relax! I’m only teasing, go on and drink your coffee, Jen, I’ll behave.”

And he does. The conversation changes direction again leaving Jensen to drink his coffee without having to endure unwelcome attention. Without him noticing, the evening passes by quickly, and suddenly he finds himself trying to blink the sleepiness from his eyes along with the others. Finally Jared lets out a loud yawn and stretches backwards in his chair;

“I think Jen and I are gonna call it a night. Man, I can’t wait to sleep in a real bed, my back is killing me.”

Jared gets up from his chair and gives Jensen a look, motioning for him to do the same. They say goodnight to the others and start walking back to their room. When they reach about halfway up the stairs, Jensen hears Chris calling,

“Hey Jen, if Jared gives you any trouble you just come down to us. Our bed isn’t as large as yours but I’m sure we’ll have no trouble squeezing you in.”

Steve reaches over and swats him on the shoulder, “Stop it! As if he doesn’t have enough to deal with, having Jared drooling all over him constantly. You just ignore him, Jen. Have a good night, and we’ll see you tomorrow.”

As they start walking again, Jensen can hear them both bickering.

“Hey, it was only a friendly suggestion. When did you turn into such a tight-ass anyway?”

“Oh shut it! You love my tight ass, and if you want to come anywhere near it for the next few weeks, you'd best behave.”

“Yeah, it’d be just like you, going on a sex strike, seeing as you’re turning into a woman in your old age.”

“You’re right; I am gonna fix that first thing tomorrow, starting with not washing your clothes, or cleaning up your mess or making you breakfast.”

“You wouldn’t! You love taking care of me.”

“Yeah well, you’re getting spoiled.”

“Aw, c’mon, don’t be ...”

Jensen doesn’t get to hear how the conversation ends as the sound becomes too faint when Jared closes the door to their room. When he turns around he’s got a smile on his face.

“You got to love them.”

As Jared goes into the bathroom, Jensen opens the armoire to take out the clothes he’s been sleeping in, but finds that his previously half empty shelves are full to the brim with new clothes.

The door to the bathroom opens, and Jared peeks out, “I forgot to tell you, I put in the rest of the clothes I got for you.”

Jensen nods and smiles a little, then starts to look through the shelves as Jared closes the door again. It looks like Jared bought him half the store, but he’s too tired to really go through it all. He manages to find some pyjama bottoms and a tank top. He quickly strips out of his clothes and puts the others on, keeping a close eye on the bathroom door.

After about ten minutes they’re both finished in the bathroom and ready to get into bed. Jensen walks over to the side closest to the windows and climbs in under the covers, making sure to keep to his side and as far away from Jared as possible. Jared looks over at him, giving him an amused stare before reaching over and placing a kiss on his cheek.

“Night, Jen, see you tomorrow.”

Jensen quickly burrows under the covers and turns over onto his side, facing away from Jared, and closes his eyes. He hears Jared turn off the bedside light and feels the bed shift as he gets into a comfortable position; a few minutes later they’re both asleep.

 

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Part 5

When Jensen wakes the next morning he finds himself lying with his cheek pressed against something warm and smooth, and a heavy weight lying on one of his hips and the back of his neck. One arm and a leg presses against something hard. He opens his eyes slowly, and through the sleepy fog in his head he manages to realise four things.

One: he’s lying on his side, and the warm, smooth thing his head is lying on is, in fact, Jared's stomach, now bare, since his tank-top has been scrunched up towards his chest.

Two: he’s got one arm thrown over Jared’s waist, resting just above his sharp hip bones, and one leg casually laying on top of Jared’s.

Three: the heavy things holding him down are Jared’s arms and hands, one gripping his waist, and the other cupping the back of his neck. Four: the likelihood of him being able to dislodge himself from this embarrassing position-- which, without a doubt, will make Jared deliriously happy and fuel his delusions of Jensen having sex with him-- is next to impossible.

For a moment Jensen wonders if this is how Jared’s seen him the other two times they’ve woken up in the same bed. On the bus Jared was always gone when he woke up; Jensen thinks Jared would have said something, gloated a bit or rambled on about repressed desire or something like that, but then Jensen’s starting to realise that Jared’s a lot more complicated than he lets on. Acknowledging Jared’s split personality and making a mental note to keep an eye on that and not let himself be fooled is all and well, but it still doesn’t solve his current problem. How the hell is he going to get out of the position he’s in without waking up Jared?

After a while, Jensen decides that just lying there isn’t going to solve anything, so he slowly, slowly, removes his arm and leg from their resting place on top of Jared before he, as smoothly as possible, untangles himself from Jared’s arms and scoots away, over to his side of the bed. When Jared’s arms fall down into an empty space Jensen can see a small frown, and his hands flex as if they’re searching for something, before he settles and goes still again.

Finally, back in the safety of his own, cold side of the bed, Jensen faces another dilemma. Staying in the room or not. So far he’s only been left alone for very short moments. Jared did say it was ok for him to move around the house, but he’s not sure that includes when everyone else is asleep. Of course, someone might already be awake, but looking out the window, on the mist still clinging to the grass, the moisture covering the windows, Jensen figures it’s still really early, and the likelihood of anyone else besides him being awake is slim.

Giving himself some time to postpone the decision, Jensen gets out of bed and as quietly as possible takes out some new clothes from the armoire, making for the bathroom. Twenty minutes later he’s sitting on the closed toilet lid, teeth clean, his skin still warm from his shower and dressed in a new pair of faded jeans and a grey, long-sleeved Henley. He’s no closer to a decision than he was before he went into the bathroom and he almost wishes Jared would wake up and tell him what to do instead of having to decide for himself. He gets up and walks over, opening the door a little to peek out, but Jared lies peacefully, unaware of Jensen’s dilemma.

Which really is kind of reckless, after all. He might be harmless, but what kind of kidnapper trusts his victim not to try and escape at the first given chance? Being so careless it’s only right for Jensen to go downstairs. Not that he’s going to try and escape, but maybe waking up and seeing him missing will teach Jared a lesson. And yes, Jensen realises how completely insane he’s being, mentally chiding his kidnapper for not keeping a better eye on him.
Realising that his thoughts aren’t going to get any saner by staying cooped up in the bathroom, Jensen finally walks out and heads downstairs, remembering to bring his board with him, just in case he stumbles into someone else. Just as he predicted, the open area downstairs is quiet and empty of people. Looking at the clock mounted on a kitchen wall, Jensen sees that it’s just past five am, so hopefully he has a few hours of peace to look forward to.

Peace from others that is; he can never find peace from himself. The next obstacle presents itself when he feels his stomach rumbling, and his mouth starts watering at the thought of coffee. No one’s said he can’t take food or drink for himself, but on the other hand, no one’s said that he can.

Another dilemma that normal people would barely consider, to him it’s monumental. Jensen doesn’t like choices, and he likes them even less when he can’t predict the outcome of either choice. There’s just no way of knowing that whatever he decides to do is right, that it won’t get him into trouble. If he just goes ahead and helps himself, there’s a million bad things that could happen, like them being angry that he went and looked around in cupboards or took some kind of food that was not meant for him, or maybe even thinking that he’s been trying to sneak away food and save it for a planned escape. On the other hand, if he doesn’t take any, they might wonder what he’s been doing down here for hours alone without having anything to eat or drink. They might start to think that he’s been snooping around or trying to come up with an escape plan.

Of course, if they’re going to assume that he’s been trying to escape or just get angry no matter what he does, he might as well get some food and coffee in him, before all the bad things start to happen. It takes another ten minutes, but Jensen finally makes his way into the kitchen area and starts to make himself some breakfast. He doesn’t dare put on the coffee maker, not without knowing how lightly everyone sleeps, but he finds some instant coffee in a cupboard and makes himself a big cup.

As it turns out, one of the cupboards isn’t actually a real cupboard. Instead it reveals a miniature entertainment centre holding a flat-screen TV mounted on a movable frame that can be pulled out and turned towards the kitchen bar. Jensen pulls it out and finds the remote on a small shelf; he turns it on and discovers that, wherever they are, they still have access to cable or something, because he quickly finds “Animal Planet” among the many channels.

Jensen sits down at the kitchen bar with his coffee, and some fruit he found in the fridge and starts eating while quickly becoming engrossed in a show about the African serval.

The narrator’s smooth voice has just begun describing the serval’s unique ability to jump ten feet in the air and catch flying birds when a door bangs open, and Jared’s booming voice can be heard as his heavy footsteps reach the stairs.

“Jensen!?!”

In a matter of seconds he reaches the bottom of the stairs, where he stops and starts looking around, his eyes frantically searching. Jensen, who was just about to take another sip of coffee, has frozen in shock and terror, the cup still halfway to his mouth as he looks over at Jared’s anxious face.

As soon as Jared spots him, Jensen can see the worry and tension wash off him, and in a heartbeat his troubled expression melts away into a million-watt smile. Jensen however, isn’t as good at letting his emotions switch back and forth without effort. He stays rigid on the chair, still holding the coffee cup in a tight grip, a frightened expression still etched on his features.

“Sorry, man,” Jared must feel the tension rolling off Jensen, because he quickly walks over and sits down on the barstool next to him. “I didn’t mean to freak you out. I just got a bit worried when you weren’t there when I woke up. What are you doing up anyway? It’s not even six am.”

Jensen tries to form words, until he remembers that, oh yeah, he doesn’t talk, and reaches for his board. He can feel his hand shaking as he tries to write down an explanation but gives up when all he can manage are a couple of shaky, unrecognisable figures. Looking down at the board, Jared lets out a curse before reaching out and taking hold of Jensen’s hand, making him drop the pen and starts tracing smooth circles on his palm.

“C’mon now, Jen, don’t be like that; relax. Nothing to be scared of, everything’s fine now. I just got worried, that’s all; you’ve done nothing wrong, okay?”

Jensen manages to nod his head, taking a few deep breaths in an attempt to calm down a bit.

“Good, Jen, that’s good. Let’s just relax, calm down and have some breakfast while we watch the cat with freakishly long legs jump really high. Okay?”

Jensen’s finally stopped shaking so he replies:

Okay. For your information, it’s not a cat, it’s a serval.

“Fine, it’s a serval. We’re really gonna have to work on your sleeping habits though--five-thirty am, Jensen? We’re on vacation.”

It’s not until now, when he’s calmed down and stopped imagining his body being hacked to pieces that Jensen really notices Jared: he’s still in his pyjamas, his hair a mess, sticking out in every direction, his eyes still puffy from the recent sleep. He must have woken up and, realising Jensen wasn’t there, thrown himself out of bed and downstairs.

You’re on vacation; I’m kidnapped!

Jared waves his hand in a dismissive manner, “Semantics! Drink your coffee and watch the long-legged cat.” He walks into the kitchen area and starts making breakfast for himself.

Jared’s busy emptying every cupboard of its contents when he says, “Are you really only having fruit?”

Jensen just shrugs his shoulders and continues watching the screen.

Jared tries again, this time with a different approach. “Okay, let me put it like this: are you only having fruit because that’s all you want, or is it because you were too afraid to take anything else?”

Jensen still doesn’t answer but Jared doesn’t seem to mind, taking Jensen’s silence as a confirmation of what he’d been suspecting.

“You don’t have to be afraid of taking anything you want, Jensen. Look, why don’t you go over to the couch and start up the big TV there, and I’ll bring the food. It’s too early to have breakfast sitting up.”

It’s said as a suggestion, but Jensen still hears it like an order. So he shuts off the small kitchen TV and walks over to the living room area, bringing his coffee and fruit with him and placing them on the coffee table. He finds the remote to the huge plasma TV mounted on the wall above one of the fireplaces and turns it on, quickly finding the channel he was watching.

The show about the serval has just ended when Jared comes over carrying a large tray containing a ridiculous amount of food, and a pot of freshly brewed coffee. He puts the tray down and walks over to the fireplace, lighting it before returning to the table and flopping down on the couch taking up more space than should be humanly possible.

By the time the infomercials are over, and a new show about the European lynx has begun, Jared has managed not only to grab an insane amount of food and start shoveling it into his mouth, but has also made Jensen take a bowl of yoghurt, some eggs and bacon, and for some reason he keeps topping up his coffee every time Jensen takes even the smallest sip.

Jensen’s really not big on eating in the mornings. Despite the fact that he woke up hideously early today, his body is still set firmly in the routine it’s had for the past ten years, which involves sleeping all day and working all night. Eating something heavier than some fruit or a bagel at this time is hard, but he manages to eat all of the yoghurt and even some of the eggs.

Jared doesn’t seem to mind that his plate isn’t empty; instead, he just reaches over and starts eating Jensen’s leftovers once he’s finished with his own food. When the table is finally empty of anything edible, Jared makes a loud, manly noise before reaching over, taking hold of a thick, woollen blanket hanging over the backrest. He grabs Jensen and pulls him with him as he scoots down on the large couch, making himself comfortable with Jensen spooned against his large body in front of him, then pulls the blanket over them both.

Jensen tries to protest, he really does, but writing indignant comments on a miniature whiteboard is not possible when you have a giant-sized, evil mastermind/overgrown child with a serious sugar addiction pulling you down. He tries to fight Jared’s firm hold around his waist, but Jared only tightens his grip while saying, “Jen, it’s not even seven o’clock yet. I need some more sleep, and so do you, and if you don’t want to sleep you can watch the show about the cat with snowshoe paws just as well lying down. Now stop wriggling and relax.”

Jensen, knowing full well that this is yet another battle he has no chance of winning, still puts up a small fight for a few more moments.

“Jen, for crying out loud relax. It’s not like you’re not used to cuddling with me by now. And yes, you can deny it all you want, but we both know that the minute we’re alone in a bed you’re all over me; so, be a good boy and stop squirming and watch your show so I can get some sleep.”

Jensen stops; there really isn’t any other choice, but he makes sure to make a displeased sound before relaxing in Jared’s hold and turning his attention back to the lynx.

Jared just laughs silently and mumbles into the back of Jensen’s neck, “Adorable…”

The thing is, Jared’s like some kind of human sleeping pill, at least where Jensen is concerned. All it takes is a horizontal surface, Jared’s huge body enveloping him, and Jensen’s down. Two minutes is all it takes for his eyes to start feeling heavy and his head feel drowsy from the comfortable feeling of warmth radiating from Jared’s body; a few more minutes, and he’s out like a light.

 

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The sun is high in the sky by the time Jensen starts drifting back into consciousness, the cold ray’s shining in through the panoramic windows. It takes a few moments before Jensen’s mind catches up with where he is, and what’s happening. He keeps his eyes closed as his body awakens, and it’s not until a few moments later that he realises that that warm, comforting feeling on his abdomen is not coming from inside but is really a result of Jared’s hand having travelled up under his shirt and is now slowly stroking his bare skin.

Jensen can tell Jared’s awake from the unevenness of his breathing, and the quiet murmur of nonsense whispered into the back of his neck; Jared’s soft lips trace feathery light touches with every move.

He knows he should stop it. Stop it now, before Jared realises he’s awake and starts to think that this is okay. But, it’s just been so long, so damn long since he was touched. Jensen could probably count on one hand the number of times he’s been touched like this: without any anger, without any need to correct or discipline.

When he first left and spent those months at college he tried to date, tried to find someone who wanted to touch him like this. And he did, a few times he found someone who wanted to touch him, but it never lasted. They were all so young, and none of the boy's he dated had any patience with someone so damaged and inexperienced. He kept trying for a few more months, but that was all before he realised just how damaged he was, before he lost faith in himself and the world around him, before the world became too heavy and before he stopped talking. Long before he became the wreck he is today, he could still get people to touch him like this; but not anymore, not for a very long time.

That’s why he can’t bring himself to tell Jared to stop, to remove his hand or tilt his head so he won’t have to feel Jared’s lips ghosting over it. It feels too good, and it’s been so long, and he just can’t tell Jared to stop. So he keeps his eyes closed and his breathing even as he pretends to sleep while Jared touches him.

“Jensen. Jensen, time to wake up now.”

The words are soft and whispered against his ear. For a moment he contemplates continuing to feign sleep, but soon he can hear other voices, and he knows they’re not alone anymore. It's one thing pretending to sleep while secretly enjoying Jared’s cuddling, knowing that they’re alone, but he can’t do it now that he knows others might be watching.

So with a soft sigh Jensen opens his eyes and starts to untangle himself from Jared’s hold. He sits up slowly and does his best to give Jared space to do the same. As he turns his head around, he can see Steve and Chris watching him from the kitchen, a smile on both their faces.

It turns out that he’s slept longer than he thought, and that the reason Chris and Steve are once again parked in the kitchen is because it’s time for lunch.

The others eat their lunch while engrossed in some passionate discussion about John McClane versus Jason Bourne, and which of them would win a fight. Jensen recognises the names as movie characters but isn’t really interested. He eats his lunch while keeping his eyes glued through the window at the snow-covered mountains' reflection in the clear lake. His fingers itch to go grab his camera and run outside. He’s never really been this close to nature before, having spent most of his adult life in the city and his childhood in a basement. He wants to go outside and explore, drag his fingers through the water to see what it feels like, smell the small needles on the pine trees and sit down on the ground leaning his back against a tree trunk.

Jared must catch his longing gaze, because as Steve starts clearing the table he stands up and says, “Jensen, why don’t you go and get your camera, put on some shoes and a jacket, and we’ll go for a walk.”

It’s an offer Jensen has no intention of refusing. He nods his thanks to Steve for the lunch, then walks up to his room. Five minutes later he’s ready and walks back down to where Jared is waiting, already dressed with a backpack slung casually over one shoulder. As Jensen approaches, he hands him his whiteboard before reaching out and opening the sliding doors to the back patio and walks out. Once outside, he looks back to make sure Jensen’s following.

Jared leads him down the patio steps, landing on a small path leading down to the lake. The air is cold and crisp, but the cold doesn’t bother him like it did in New York, it feels like part of the package here somehow. Jensen can’t stop himself from filling his lungs with air over and over, revelling in his first experience with truly clean air. Jensen can see Jared, who’s being unusually quiet, sneaking glances over at him and smiling.

Soon they reach the lakes pebbled shoreline. Jared finds a large rock and sits down on it, watching Jensen walk down to the water and crouch just inches away from it. The lake is so clear he can see even the tiniest grain of sand under the surface. With a tentative hand he reaches out, until his fingers touch the surface. It feels exactly like it looks--clear and cold--and as he lets his whole hand sink down into the icy water, and slowly starts moving his hand back and forth, letting the water flow between his spread fingers. He gets an overwhelming desire to throw himself into the water, letting it embrace him completely.

He realises that he can’t, of course, it’s too cold - just a few degrees from freezing - but, God! He wishes he could have been kidnapped during the summer instead. Finally, the cold of the water becomes too much, and regretfully he has to pull his hand out. He can hear the pebbles slide against each other as Jared gets up from the stone and walks down to where he’s still crouching. As he reaches Jensen's side, Jared opens his backpack and pulls out a thick blanket, laying it on the ground and sits down on it while motioning to Jensen to do the same. Jared reaches out and takes hold of Jensen's cold, slightly red hand and cups it between his own, gently rubbing to warm it up again.

It’s now--sitting at the lakeshore looking out over the water, and the high mountains and dense pine tree forest-- that Jensen realises how isolated they really are. There’s nothing here but wild, untamed nature and their cabin. No other people, no other sound than water, and animals and themselves. They’re completely alone, and Jensen understands that what Jared told him that first day here is true: they’re a long way from civilisation, and there’s no way for him to escape. Not that he’s got any plan to do so; that would be monumentally stupid, and, for all his quirks and messed up personality, that’s one thing he’s not.

Jared reaches into his backpack again and pulls out a thermos and two Styrofoam cups. He opens the thermos, and Jensen can’t keep the contented smile from appearing when the steam rising from the opening brings with it a smell of freshly brewed coffee. Jared fills the cups and hands one to Jensen. They sit like that for a long time, silently enjoying the view and the coffee. Finally, Jared’s unusual quiet starts to make him nervous, and after a few more minutes of complete silence, Jensen can't take it anymore and reaches out for his board.

Say something!

Jared smiles, “Why?”

You’re never quiet; you’re making me nervous.

“There’s no need to get all skittish, Jen. Contrary to popular belief, I do know how to appreciate silence. This just seems like a good place to be quiet, don’t you agree?”

Jensen just nods. Every time he thinks he’s got Jared figured out, he goes and does something that completely overthrows Jensen’s carefully constructed profiling. It’s becoming obvious that Jared has a lot more layers than Jensen first thought. Jared turns his head towards the lake again and goes quiet once more as he watches the scenery in front of them. Jensen realises that there is no point in dwelling on Jared’s possibly split personality, and instead he reaches for his bag and takes out the camera. The second he brings it to his face and snaps the first picture, he’s gone.

Through the lens, the world in front of him becomes manageable. He can climb the mountains all the way up to the highest peak. He can kneel down on the shoreline and feel the cold water engulfing his body as he captures life under the lake's surface, see the snow glistening as it casts its reflection on the surface, making it look like the world has a double. He can travel up to the top of the emerald green treetops and feel the rough bark under his fingers as he zooms in on the tree trunks' rough surface.

And finally, in an unguarded moment, he can see another piece of Jared as he looks out over the lake and doesn’t notice that he’s being stripped down through a lens.

 

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Part 6

It’s strange how quickly you fall into new routines. It takes less than two weeks at the cabin for Jensen to forget how his life used to work. Things that he - used to think were essential for his sanity, have been thrown out the window and replaced by new things, activities, routines that are now equally as important and irreplaceable as their predecessors.

If anything, these past weeks have proven without a doubt that humans truly are amazingly adaptable. Jensen has new routines now, although not at all as many as before. He has periods of several hours a day when nothing is planned, and still he manages to get through them.

Free time is a new experience to him, he never had it before; first it was "the Blues" who kept his day's "structured," meaning they never let him out of their sight and made him do whatever crazy chore they could think of, all for his own good, of course. After them, it was more about him making sense of the world.

Things were just so strange and different and he unintentionally created routines just to find a way to exist in a world he couldn't understand.

As it turns out, getting up at the crack of dawn was a one-time thing, and now that he’s managed to set his days and nights straight, he rarely gets out of bed before ten, which suites Jared just fine. Although Jensen thinks he’s got pretty solid evidence for why Jared’s motives are a bit different than his own. Jensen’s realized that he’s in fact not much of a morning person, which is why he likes sleeping in, staying in bed for a long time after he’s woken up. Jared, on the other hand, would probably jump out of bed the very second his eyes open where it not for the fact that Jensen was still in it.

But Jared stays in bed as long as Jensen does, taking advantage of Jensen’s sleepy brain not being able to react when his large hands travel all over Jensen.

Jensen likes to pretend that this is not a part of his new routines. His routines are all innocent and molestation-free. Which is, of course, a load of crap, really, because the fact is that Jensen’s in control. Jared might be an enigma that Jensen can't solve, but if there's one thing he's sure of it's that Jared won't go where he's not wanted. Every morning Jared’s hands make their way under Jensen’s tank-top, slowly exploring the naked flesh beneath it. Every morning Jensen pretends to be asleep even though they both know he isn't; and every morning Jared pushes Jensen’s boundaries just a little bit further. Ghosting fingertips becomes a warm, caressing palm. Harmless tickles down one arm turns into soft lips ghosting down his neck, then firm kisses behind his ear and along his exposed back. But in the end Jensen’s the one who decides where it stops. Everyday Jared pushes the boundaries, and everyday Jensen lets him, until his courage runs out, and he pretends to wake up and jumps out of bed.

Jared just smiles.

Before he came along – with his snuggling, and handholding, and overly large body that takes up so much room in bed – Jensen was doing just fine with never being touched, without that physical contact most people take for granted. But then Jared came, and he just keeps touching him all the damn time, and now he longs for it, constantly; Jensen can’t help waking up on top of him every morning. It’s like heroin, and Jared just keeps supplying it.

Not that he’s ever going to say anything to Jared, not even just to ask him to stop touching him. Because, first of all, Jared has ignored all his previous attempts to stop it; and, second of all, Jensen doesn’t want him to. And with the way things are now, he doesn’t have to do anything, Jared touches him all the time. So, Jensen gets his fix without having to do anything except scowl a little every now and then to keep up appearances that he doesn’t like it, even though they both know he does.

Still, it’s strange how easily he’s accepted his new life, it really can’t be normal to be so calm in the situation he’s in. It’s strange for him to be calm, period.

Not that he’s in anyway become a normal, well-functioning human being from getting kidnapped for two weeks. Not at all, but at least he’s not getting any more screwed up then he already is.

Jensen spends almost all his time outside with his camera. The first few days Jared always came with him, walking a step or two behind and letting Jensen do his thing without interruptions. Now he lets Jensen go out alone, not for very long and never so far away Jared can’t see him from the windows, but still, he gets some much needed time alone.

Jensen’s days go something like this:

9:30 – 10:00 Wake-up* - Morning Routines (*Jared always helps him with that, in his own special way.)

10:00 – 11:00 Breakfast – Usually they have their breakfast on the couch, watching some cat show. Cat Week on Animal Planet is over, but one morning Jensen found a whole stack of burned DVDs on the coffee table. He suspects that Jared asked Chad to do it.

11:00 – 13:00 Free Time

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 14:30 Post Lunch coffee

14:30 – 15:30 Post Lunch and Coffee Nap/Cuddling on the couch – Jensen can’t remember ever sleeping as much as he does now.

15:30 – 17: 00 Free Time

17:00 – 17:30 Pre-Dinner Snack – Jared’s hungry a lot, and, apparently, whenever Jared’s hungry, Jensen needs to eat too.

17:30 – 19:00 Free Time

19:00 – 20:00 Dinner

20:00 – ?? Hanging Out – Jared, Steve and Chris usually sit down to watch a movie or some sport thing on TV after dinner. Jensen always sits down with them, but usually he’s got his laptop with him and spends the rest of the evening looking though the pictures he took during the day.

??:?? – Bed Time – Jared usually decides when the day is over. Every night Jensen goes to bed, lying down as far away from Jared as possible, and Jared just smiles, which isn’t very strange, since a few hours later Jensen always wakes up pressed close to Jared, and as another day begins, and his routine starts over. Jensen feels his defenses crumbling a little more, and his connection with his old life slipping a little bit further away as his life becomes more and more entwined with Jared’s.

Jensen's got no real concept of time anymore; at first he tried to count the days, to keep track of weekdays and dates but they all kind of blurred together. Still, he figures that by now he's probably been at the cabin for two or three weeks.

Of course, the very moment he starts feeling a little bit comfortable in his routines they change. Jensen knows something’s up already the night before. Jared’s twitchy, and a little on edge, and so are the others. Instead of spending the night on the couch, they’re sitting at the dining table, piles of paper littering it. Jensen’s sitting at the kitchen bar, fiddling with the day’s pictures, doing his best not to pay them any attention. They haven’t actually asked him not to come over, but, really, they don’t have too – it’s obvious that whatever they’re doing Jensen wants nothing to do with it.

When morning comes, Jensen wakes up feeling the heavy weight of Jared’s arm over his waist. He waits for it to move, for Jared’s hands to start their explorations, but they don’t. Instead Jared tightens his grip as he slowly starts talking, his voice subdued and serious, completely ignoring their morning ritual of pretending Jensen’s asleep.

“Jen, I’m gonna need you to stay up here today. I know you want to go out, but you can’t leave this room until I say it’s ok, and that’s not gonna happen until tomorrow at the earliest. I’m gonna make sure you have everything you need up here, but I’m gonna have to lock you in, Jensen. I really wish I didn’t have to, but it’s to keep you safe. The less you know about what’s gonna happen today, the safer you’ll be.”

Jensen doesn’t like the idea of being stuck in this bedroom for God knows how many hours, but he knows something is about to happen, and he doesn’t want to know anything about it, so he nods his head into the pillow. But it isn’t enough for Jared, who reaches out and grabs Jensen’s shoulder, pulling him down onto his back and leans over him, placing one hand on either side of his head.

“I mean it Jensen, if I’m ever going to be able to let you go, you need to know nothing about what’s going to happen today.”

Jensen wants to reach for his board, write down that he understands what Jared’s saying, and that he’ll do what’s being asked of him, but he can’t. It’s too far away, and he’s trapped between Jared’s strong arms.

“Jensen...”

Jared’s soft but determined voice makes Jensen look up at him and meet his intense gaze straight on. He slowly nods his head, while keeping eye contact, trying, wordlessly, to relay that he’ll do what Jared wants. When Jared gives him a small smile and a nod, he takes it as a sign that Jared’s satisfied.

Jensen waits for Jared to remove his hands and let him up from the bed, but instead Jared pushes himself up on his elbows and lets one hand come up and stroke Jensen’s hair with small, soft touches.

It’s not until now that Jensen notices that Jared’s hair is damp, and that he’s already fully dressed.

Jared must notice his look and says, “I have to go down any minute, I’m just gonna go get all the things you’ll need, and then I’m gone for the day. I’ll let you out again as soon as I can, Jen, I promise.” Jared makes a move to get up, but at the last minute he seems to change his mind, and instead he leans down and presses his lips against Jensen’s.

It’s unexpected and should really be unwelcome, but as Jared’s lips softly move against his, Jensen can’t help but answer. It’s not long, and really not much more than a soft peck, but it changes everything. As he slowly moves away, Jared doesn’t say a thing, but the look in his eyes tells Jensen all he needs to know. This was a test, and Jensen failed it. He failed to protest, to push Jared away, and now all bets are off, and he can’t pretend anymore.

Moments later Jared’s off the bed and on his way downstairs; it doesn’t take him long to return, carrying a large box that he places on the desk by the window.

“This should be everything you need, I’ve got snacks, instant coffee, a small water boiler you can plug in, a mug, spoon, some fruit, and Steve made you some sandwiches for breakfast, and he’s put some packages of instant soup in too for lunch and dinner. Erm... let’s see - your computer, some movies, your cat DVDs and some other stuff...

Jared goes quiet as he stops rummaging around in the box and starts walking over to the door. He walks out, and just as he’s about to close the door he looks over at Jensen, and the look he gives him is so guilty it almost makes Jensen feel sorry for him.

“I’m really sorry about this, Jensen.” And then the door closes, and seconds later Jensen can hear the sound of a key turning in the lock, and he’s alone.

Jensen’s not good at being trapped in confined spaces, he doesn’t like the feeling of not being able to go where he pleases whenever he wants to. He spent so much time of his life in a small, dingy basement with no natural light, cold, concrete walls that didn’t become more inviting just because they’d been slathered with lavender paint, and a hard concrete floor that left scrapes and bruises every time he was thrown or forced down onto it.

This is a much better place to be trapped, but he’s still locked in, and he doesn’t like it. But it doesn’t matter, it's reality, and he has no choice but to try and adapt, again. He gets out of bed and goes through his morning routines like it’s any other day. Technically he could probably stay in his pyjamas the whole day, but it’s not his thing; however, he does settle for sweatpants and a hoodie instead of his normal jeans and Henley.

When he’s done, he goes over and plugs in the water boiler and makes himself a cup of coffee to go with his breakfast sandwiches. He walks over to the large TV and puts one of his DVDs into the built in DVD player before going back to the bed and settling down with his breakfast.

The DVD’s about the caracal. Jensen watches with rapt attention as the graceful feline drags its prey up into a tree and keeps it there, giving it the opportunity to feed in peace, safe from other larger predators. It looks so majestic with its long pointy ears, its beautiful features -- so sharp and still so graceful.

About an hour into his incarceration Jensen can hear the sound of cars pulling up into the driveway and, moments later, a voice he doesn’t recognise mixed in with voices he does. It doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’re about to sell some of the paintings they’ve stolen, and Jensen really doesn’t want to know anything about the buyers. Not that he thinks they’ll just let him go one day, and everything will be over and go back to normal. It’s not possible for something like this to end so smoothly, but he knows it could be a lot worse. So he does his best to ignore the strange voices and turns his attention back to the caracal.

The first few hours he’s fine, really, he is. He has the DVDs and his computer, so he can fiddle around with his photos, but as the hours drag on he can feel the walls around him drawing closer and closer, until he feels as if he's trapped in a tiny wooden box. With every breath he takes, it feels like the air is getting thinner and thinner, like he’s slowly sucking the air out of the room.

It’s a sure sign that he’s starting to panic. A few more hours, and he’s not coping, not at all. He can’t seem to concentrate; whatever he tries to take his mind off the locked door isn’t working, and he just ends up pacing the tiny room, back and forth, back and forth.

He wants to barge over to the door and break it down, but he knows that’s not an option, even if it wasn’t solid, sturdy wood, and he could somehow break it down; what’s behind it is probably a whole lot worse than this room. The problem is that the more he thinks about it the less of a problem that particular fact seems to become. The demons in his head are starting to take over, raging inside of him, fighting to break free, and he’s starting to listen.

It’s all Jared’s fault anyway, forcing him to come here, making his walls crumble with touches, and smiles and napping, locking him in this room. If Jared had any sense at all, he would realise that you can’t take someone like him and just do this. He’d understand that there is a reason to why Jensen is like he is, why he shies away from people, why he doesn’t touch, why he doesn’t connect. He’s a selective mute for crying out loud. If that’s not a telltale sign that he’s not a person you do something like this to, then what the hell is?

The anger helps - helps him focus on something else besides the moving walls threatening to crush him. So he keeps fueling it with every reason he can think of that this mess is all Jared’s fault. He stays angry - so angry that he slams the cup as he fixes himself some soup, mixing the greyish powder with hot water. Feeds his rage by re-watching every gruesome hunting scene from his DVDs he can find. It gives him some sick satisfaction to picture himself as the lioness, and Jared as the gazelle, as the lion uses its claws to tear into the small animal and drag it to the ground before taking a strong hold of its neck and slowly choking it.

He watches it over, and over, and over again, until finally, to his relief, he feels his eyes starting to grow heavy, and he sees that the sky is finally dark. He goes through his nightly routines and then crawls down under the covers, thankful that this day is soon over, and when he wakes up things will be back to normal again.

Of course he doesn’t fall asleep - not for hours - no matter what he tries, and when he hears the sound of an engine starting up outside, he screws his eyes shut tightly, trying to force himself to fall asleep right at that moment, so he won’t be awake when Jared comes in.

Not that he needs to be in any rush. It takes another two agonising, sleep-deprived hours for Jensen to hear the sounds of steps making their way up the stairs, and a key turning in the lock.

As Jared enters the room, Jensen keeps his eyes closed and tries to even out his breathing, pretending to be asleep. It doesn’t take long before he feels the bed dip, and Jared’s warm body moving up close to his own.

“Jensen.”

The voice sounds so harsh in the room that’s been so quiet, like it’s intruding – which it is, it’s intruding on Jensen’s desperate attempts to finally sleep, so he just screws his eyes shut tighter and pretends he didn’t hear it.

It doesn’t work, of course.

“Jensen, I know you’re awake. No games tonight, ok? I’ve had a really rough day.”

And that right there... that’s what makes Jensen snap.

Jared’s had a rough day? A rough fucking day? Yeah, Jensen snaps.

He sits bolt upright in the bed and looks over at Jared with a disbelieving face before actually reaching out with one arm and punching him square in the face. Of course, Jensen’s never really been the punching type of guy, so it’s more like a graze of Jared’s cheek, but still, it’s the thought that counts.

Jared seems to agree, because he just sits there, looking a little bit dazed as Jensen, in a rage, gets out of bed and walks over to the bedroom door, throwing it open with a bang, before stomping out and down the stairs.

It’s not until he’s reached the bottom floor that he can hear Jared reacting, calling out for him as he comes running after him. As he reaches the bottom of the stairs he stops, holding out his hands as if to try and calm an angry animal.

“Jensen, calm down, ok? Bad choice of words on my part, I see that now. I’m sorry.
Just calm down, ok? Let’s just forget about this. I won’t be mad about it tomorrow, and we can just try and get some sleep.”

It’s probably supposed to be some kind of calming apology, but that, right there, is just the worst apology Jensen’s ever heard, and he’s heard a lot of bad ones. How the hell does Jared get to be the benevolent one and not be mad in the morning? If anyone’s going to be benevolent and understanding here, it’s him, Jensen, the kidnapping victim, who’s just spent an entire day locked in a tiny room. Ok, so it’s a really big room, but that’s not the point. The point is that Jensen’s the victim, and if anyone’s going to be doing any forgiving it’s going to be him, not Jared.

Instead of calming him down, Jared’s words just makes him angrier, and he reaches out for the nearest object, which just happens to be a discarded coffee cup, and throws it straight at Jared, who just barely manages to duck in time, so it shatters at the wall behind him.

“Jensen! What the hell?”

If he was thinking clearly, Jensen would understand that now would be a good time to stop this little tantrum, but he isn’t. He would remember how Jared’s eyes sometimes grow dark, and how in those moments he's thought that Jared’s probably not a good person to piss off, but he doesn’t remember any of that right now.

Jared’s just standing there in front of him, nostrils flaring as he watches the shards of the broken cup.

“Seriously, Jensen, enough.”

The whole situation turns into a lame version of a Mexican standoff.

Jared and Jensen, both in their pyjamas, standing opposite each other, neither willing to be the one who gives in.

At one point the door to one of the bedrooms opens, and Chris sticks his head out, “Everything alright out here?”

“Just peachy!” Jared doesn’t take his eyes off Jensen as he answers through clenched teeth. “Jensen’s just having a small crisis.”

That small comment forces him to duck again as a remote comes flying towards him.

“Jensen! Stop throwing things!”

From the small opening in the door another faint voice can be heard, before Chris speaks again, “Steve wants to know what you did.” Jensen smiles smugly as he sees that the question is directed at Jared.

“What? Why does it have to be my fault?”

“Because, Jensen usually jumps at the sight of his own shadow, and now he’s throwing things at you, so, what did you do to piss him off?”

“Chris, I’ve got this, go back to bed.”

Chris smiles and gives a breathy little laugh at the irritated tone of Jared’s voice.

“All right. Don’t go easy on him, Jensen, and in case you don’t work things out there’s plenty of room in here for you.”

“Chris!” This time Jared’s voice is joined by a muffled one from inside the bedroom.

As the door closes Jared starts moving towards Jensen, hands stretched out before him.

“Ok, let’s just calm down. Obviously you’re having some kind of late reaction to this whole situation. That’s fine, you’re upset, I get that. It’s been a lot of changes for you, and obviously it’s all starting to get to you. But it’s ok, Jensen, we can work with that if you just calm down, so we can deal with this and try to figure out what the problem is.”

What the problem is? What the fucking problem is? The problem is that Jensen has certain ways he does things, and more importantly, certain things he won't do. He has routines and plans, and carefully constructed ways of dealing with a world that he - ten years later - still isn't a part of, or able to understand.

He doesn't lock himself inside a room that he can't leave. He doesn't interact with people, so he can't snuggle because no one will touch him, it’s just not done.

He doesn't smile because he's got nothing to smile about, so it's no surprise that he never thinks someone is funny because who would try to amuse him-- no one, that's who.

He doesn't cuddle or nap or enjoy other people’s company.

And even if he ever would choose to do any of the above, he absolutely would not choose to do it with the people who've kidnapped him.

But he wouldn't do it because that would make him a person; even worse, it would make him a happy person and Jensen is not a person and he's not happy. He can't be. If he is, then it means he'll want things, crave things, and he can't do that and survive at the same time.

For him it's just about surviving, Jensen Ackles doesn't exist, he just survives.

He survives, that's his thing -- and now he's got Malibu Sasquatch on speed, forcing him to actually live and he can't do it.

Jared stole him and if he's true to his word, sooner or later he's going to return him, and Jensen can't do that. He cannot be brought to life and then be returned to emptiness.

Jared has to stop. Jensen has to make Jared stop-- before Jared unintentionally breaks him beyond repair.

“YOU STOLE ME! You stole me like I'm one of those damn paintings and forced me to come here against my will-- and I’m just supposed to be fine with that? With all your stupid things, and cuddling, and napping and handholding -- I’m not fine with it! You stole me! You don’t get to be the victim! You stole me, and locked me up, and forced me to cuddle! You locked me up, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for you, because you had a rough day when you locked me up, and I can’t breathe in that room. I’m the victim, me. You stole me!”

The words are out of his mouth, before he can even think them. Hearing his own voice shocks him as much as much as it must shock Jared. For a second he just stands there, mouth slightly open as he tries to process what just happened, while the downstairs bedrooms open, and Chris, Steve, and even Chad, come out of their rooms, all wearing the same face that Jared does.

“Did Mute Boy just talk?”

“Chad! Go to your room!” it’s said in Steve’s voice, but not his nice, laid back voice; it’s stern, in a “you are in so much trouble, young man” fatherly kind of way.

Jensen can’t really deal with all of this. Things are starting to bubble over in his head, and he can feel himself heading for one major meltdown any second now. So he just turns and heads for the nearest exit, which just happens to be the door to the back patio.

He walks out through the doors, not even registering the cold night air on his bare feet as he rushes down the wooden stairs towards the lake.

“Jensen.”

He can hear Jared calling out behind him, but he just keeps on walking. It’s not until he reaches the lake that he registers Jared rushing up behind him and then finally grabbing him.

“Jesus, Jensen, for Christ’s sake, it’s freezing out here, and you’re not even wearing any shoes.”

In the back of his mind, Jensen notices that Jared’s wearing a jacket and the CAT boots he always wears on their walks. The boots are unlaced, and the jacket still opened but Jared at least had the sense to actually put on something before running out into the freezing night.

Jensen shakes his head a little at himself, before he makes a whimpering, desperate sound in the back of his throat. He’s losing his mind, that’s the only explanation. Tantrums, and punching and throwing things are not things he does, any more than talking, and especially not screaming. He doesn’t do those kinds of things, which can only mean he’s finally snapped completely and is now officially a basket case. It took thirty odd years, but he’s finally there, finally completely and utterly insane.

He can hear the sound of pebbles being crushed together as someone else approaches. He doesn’t turn around to see who it is, but as he feels a warm blanket being wrapped around him, and Jared’s hushed voice as he urges him to lift his feet and then lower them down into the warmth of his own boots, he figures it must be Steve.

After that no one talks. Jensen just stands there beside the lake, with Jared holding on to him, while Steve walks in front of them and gets a fire started in the fire pit Jared made a few days ago. Another set of footsteps comes up behind them, and Jensen sees a few more blankets being put on the ground beside them, together with two sleeping bags, his whiteboard, and a bag with a thermos sticking out of it.

After that they leave and Jensen is left at the lake shore with Jared holding on tight, like he’s afraid Jensen will fall over if he lets go, which probably isn’t such a farfetched thought.
Finally Jared does let go, only to make him sit down on one of the blankets while he starts moving around arranging the rest of the blankets and sleeping bags close to, but still a safe distance from the fire.

When he’s finished he walks over to Jensen again and makes him stand up and walk over to their improvised little camp. He makes him sit down on the sleeping bags that he’s made into one big one and removes Jensen’s shoes, before sitting down next to him and doing the same to his own. He zips the sleeping bag up so their legs are covered. He takes the left over blanket and wraps it around Jensen, even though he’s already wrapped up in one. As a last adjustment Jared moves so they're facing the fire, his back leaning against one of the big stones littering the shore, Jensen's back to his chest, his long legs bent on either side of Jensen’s slightly smaller body.

Jensen registers it all as if he's in a fog, his eyes stay fixed on the flames in the growing fire, his body like clay as Jared pushes, pulls and moulds. A few moments later he can feel the rim of a Styrofoam cup pressing against his lips. Slowly he parts them and feels the familiar warmth of coffee passing them. Jared makes him drink the whole cup before removing it, putting it back in the bag.

Jared takes a gentle hold of his shoulders and pulls him back so he’s resting flush against Jared’s body, his head falling back against one shoulder.

“I spent a night in custody once,” Jared’s voice is low and soft, careful. “It was my first job, knocking off a gas station. I was a kid, stupid and unprepared, so naturally I got caught. It was in this shithole town, so I was the only one in there. I spent a whole night in that damn cell all alone, the only sound was the ancient air-conditioner out in the office, just humming and rattling, until it was all I could hear. The bars were screaming out at me, and by the end I thought I was going insane. I promised myself right there that I would never, ever spend another night in jail. It’s not the same, I know that, but I know the feeling.”

Jared goes quiet for a moment, before the vibrations of his rumbling voice travel to Jensen again.

“Don’t think we don’t know what we’re doing to you, Jensen, we do, me especially. I know I stole you, I know that. I can’t do anything about it, Jensen. You where there, and I stole you, and I can’t take that back. All I can do is try to make this as tolerable as possible for you.”

Jared stops again, his hand coming up to run though Jensen’s hair, before he rests his chin on top of it.

“I just figured that all this would be easier for you if we just try and pretend like you’re supposed to be here, like you’re on one really long vacation, so when all this is over it wouldn’t be so traumatic for you. Maybe I’m wrong, I don’t know, maybe I’m making it worse for you. Maybe all this would be easier for you if I just act the role of the all-out evil kidnapper and tie you up and lock you in and don’t talk to you. Would that make this any easier for you, Jensen? Do you need me to be a bad guy?”

Jensen just shakes his head. It’s not what he needs, he knows that.

“No? Then what do you need, Jensen? I’m forcing you to be here, and I won’t let you leave, but that’s it. The rest of it’s all up to you; I won’t force you to do anything else. Tell me no and mean it, and I won’t do it. I won’t.”

Jared moves his head again bringing it down so his chin is resting on one of his shoulders. As he turns his head a bit to the side, and his lips brush against Jensen’s bared neck, he can feel a shiver run through his emotionally exhausted body. He’s such a jumble of emotions, so damn confused, frightened, angry... scared, it’s all just a tangled up mess inside of him that he can’t separate, can’t make any logical sense of. Most of all he’s tired, exhausted from fighting the world and himself for so long, and for what? There’s no reason for him to fight, not really, he’s gotten absolutely nothing for it besides a crappy apartment, a dead end job he hates, and no social or romantic life whatsoever; he’s not even been close.

It’s all just ridiculous. His life is utterly pathetic, and he’s having a complete meltdown because he’s being forced to be away from it. Because there’s finally someone who thinks he’s worth a bit of effort, who actually seems to like being around him, who touches him voluntarily and actually seems to enjoy it. So he’s a kidnapper and a thief, nobody’s perfect; he’s met a lot worse people who all pretended to be so damn good. At least Jared doesn’t pretend to be anything other than himself. He might not publicly announce that he steals priceless art for a living, but that would really be expecting too much. But as far as Jensen knows, Jared’s never lied to him. There are a lot of things he’s not told him, but then most of those things Jensen really doesn’t want to know about anyway.

So, the question again is, what the hell is he fighting against? Closeness, human interaction, handholding, cuddling? It’s ridiculous. He’s been moaning to himself for years about the unfairness of the world, and how he hates that he’s so damaged, so alone. And here he is, with everything he’s been longing for, right in front of him, and he’s fighting it. So, it’s not real, so they’re not really his friends, so Jared’s going to throw him away when all this is over if he survives, but so fucking what? It’s still a hell of a lot more than he’s ever had before.

It’s still worth something to him.

With that, Jensen’s decision is finally made, and he slowly turns his head so his lips can lightly, hesitantly, brush against Jared’s.

He’s relieved when Jared doesn’t question it; he just stops for a second, looking intensely at him before leaning down again and resuming the kiss. It’s gentle at first, soft and careful, like Jared is testing out the waters to see what it is he’s dealing with, how fast and hard he can push.

When Jared deepens the kiss and lets one hand creep down beneath all the blankets, up under Jensen’s shirt, he figures Jared must have seen something he never has himself. Because he kisses him and touches him like he’s never done anything else, like he knows Jensen’s body better than Jensen does.

He knows that Jensen will shiver when he nips the soft skin right where the shoulder and neck meet - Jensen had no idea.

Knows that a light tug on his nipple will make him gasp and arch – it’s a surprise to him.

Knows that a steady hand behind Jensen’s head, holding it in place as he almost devours his mouth will force a keening, desperate sound from his throat – Jensen didn’t even know he could make a sound like that.

Knows that sliding a large hand under the hem of his pyjama trousers and starting a slow rhythmic stroke of his hard cock will turn him into the most debauched person who ever lived, making him lose all control, arching, moaning loudly, gripping one of Jared’s legs tightly as he slides and rocks back against him – Jensen didn’t even know his body could do that.

“Jensen, God,” Jared sounds wrecked, as wrecked as Jensen feels. In the back of his mind, Jensen remembers that sex-- sex with other people, that is-- usually contains some form of giving and taking, that he probably should be doing something, participating in this more than just lying there against Jared, taking whatever he has to give. But he can’t, not now, not this time. If there ever is a next time he will, he swears right then and there to himself that next time he’ll be better, but for now he can’t do anything more than just feel.
“So pretty...” He can feel Jared’s voice rumbling through his body and doesn’t hesitate when two fingers come to rest on his bottom lips. As if in a trance, his lips part and lets them inside, closing tightly around them as they slide in and out.

“... So damn pretty. God, Jensen, you don’t even know.”

That’s probably right; he doesn’t know, doesn’t understand why Jared’s doing this, doesn’t understand how he ended up here, on a lake shore somewhere in North America, getting his first, and so far best, hand job ever, under a clear, star-filled sky surrounded by snow-clad mountains and an endless pine forest. It’s surreal; things like this just don’t happen to people like him, but here he is, he’s really here, and fuck knows what’s going to happen, but right now it doesn’t even matter, because the night is beautiful, and Jared’s strong body is cradling him as his large hand pulls every single feeling out of him, until his body goes rigid, and a million stars explode behind his closed eyes.

 

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Part 7

Jensen’s late night meltdown leads to two unexpected and really quite unwelcome things.

One: Although Jensen is steadily becoming a big fan of the whole physical contact thing, he didn’t quite realise just how much of it there would be, and, more to the point, how public.

Which is fine when you have your first sexual experience with someone outside, completely unsheltered, and that person being Jared, who has zero respect for personal space and absolutely no shame whatsoever.

It really shouldn't come as such a surprise when, the following day, Jared decides that dragging Jensen down on the couch, or lifting him up on the kitchen counter,or pushing him up against the wall, or basically any available surface to engage in a seriously X-rated make out session in front of other people is perfectly acceptable behaviour.

Well, it’s not; Jensen’s all for the make out session, but the audience, not so much. Especially when the audience is Steve, and more to the point Chris, who doesn’t seem to have the decency to look away and unashamedly sits down to watch. And who both smile a disturbingly "wolf like" smile when they happen to overlook Jensen trying to communicate his concerns to Jared. Steve’s just not at all as innocent as he’s trying to appear.

Which of course leads to unwelcome subject number two: Jared has suddenly developed a very acute, and completely incurable case of severe, but strangely enough, very selective dyslexia.

Which is of course complete and utter bullshit, he’s just decided that since he now knows that Jensen, if he wants to, can talk, Jensen isn’t allowed to use the whiteboard anymore. Well, he can use it all he wants, but Jared apparently no longer understands what the letters on the board says.

Bastard.

He’s tried, he really has tried, to explain that the whole shouting/talking thing the other night was just as big a surprise to him as it was to them, and that it’s not like he one day decided to stop talking. It's just that one day he didn’t do it anymore, and he doesn’t know why.

But Jared’s relentless, he’s even gone so far as denying him coffee, which is where they are right now.

Jensen is tired, his body screaming for its caffeine fix, and Jared, the greatest ass that ever walked the planet, is standing just on the other side of the kitchen counter, holding a cup of steaming "mocha flavoured" crack just out of his reach.

“I said, would you like some coffee, Jensen?”

YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYES!!!! I’ve said yes a million damn times; now give me my damn coffee!!!!!!!

“No, you’ve written yes a million damn times, now say yes, and I’ll give you the coffee. Let’s try this again. Would you like to have this cup of steaming, perfectly flavoured, made from freshly ground Arabica beans, coffee?”

You're an ASS!!!

“Oh no, here comes my dyslexia again, sorry I can’t understand you, you’re gonna have to try and tell me what you want in some other way.”

Dyslexia again, what a shame, and here I was just about to tell you about how I’ve never sucked a guy off, but that I’m really curious about it, but really embarrassed, because I don’t quite know how to do it, but really, really, really eager to learn... and now you’ll never know. Pity.

“Oh look, it’s a miracle, I can read again! Now, please hold that thought, and can we just stop for a moment and talk about what good the regular orgasms are doing for your confidence here. Really, hold on tight to that thought, and we’ll revisit it in just a few moments; but for now, let’s return to the matter at hand. Would you like some coffee, Jensen?”

It’s just too early, and he’s too exhausted, and what the hell possessed him to write something like that anyway? Fellatio? Jesus... what the hell is happening to him? Jensen can feel his face start to heat up. At the same time he feels his shoulders slump as he looks over at Jared.

Jared, please.

“Jensen, it’s one word. I’m not asking you to recite the entire alphabet, just three little letters: Y, E, and S.”

Jensen draws in a breath, and his lips twitch as he, for the first time in a long, long time, consciously makes an effort to shape them in a way that’ll produce a word.

“Come on, Jensen, it’s just one little word.”

“Yes.” It’s barely audible, more like an exhale, but it’s still a word, one tiny little word with such a monumental meaning for him he can barely believe he did it.

Jared smiles one big, ear to ear, full on dimple action smile. “Knew you could do it.” He puts the cup down just in front of Jensen, but just as he’s about to reach out for it Jared comes around the counter, grabs his arm and starts dragging him towards their room. “Now, let’s return to your previous thought, shall we?”

Jensen looks back and casts one last, longing glance at the coffee cup before it disappears out of sight, and it hits him why Jared is now very determinedly dragging him towards their bedroom.

Crap.

He didn’t really mean it--he didn’t. He’s just barely getting used to kissing and hand jobs. Hand jobs are good – hand jobs are great – they should stop at hand jobs. Blowjobs are seriously advanced stuff, and, more to the point, blowjobs mean Jensen actually has to do something to Jared, something he has no idea how to do.

When they reach the room, and Jared’s closes and thankfully locks the door, Jensen just kind of stands there, pressing his back so tightly against the wall he might as well be trying to sink through it. Jared doesn’t seem bothered at all - he just walks over to the bed, and sits down on the edge where he sprawls comfortably, legs spread wide.

Jensen can hear himself swallowing audibly as Jared looks over at him, a smile so wide and wolfish Jensen almost reaches up to make sure he’s not wearing a red hooded cloak. So far Jared’s been soft, careful, slow; but now...now something’s different.

That slightly dark look in his eyes is back, and Jensen can feel a shiver run down his spine.

“Jensen...” Jared’s voice isn’t light and carefree as it usually is; instead it’s low, quiet... sultry, “...come over here.”

A strong hand beckons him over, and it’s like the hand is holding invisible wires attached to his own body, the way he jerks and unconsciously moves forward.

Suddenly, without him even really having the time to react, he’s standing right in front of Jared between his spread thighs.

Long fingers reach up and curl around his neck, pulling him down as wickedly smiling lips claim his mouth. Without him even understanding what’s happening, Jared deepens the kiss as his other hand lands on Jensen’s shoulder, gently pressing him down on his knees.

As Jared releases his mouth from Jensen’s, his thumb takes its place, slowly tracing the outline of his lips.

“Say no, Jensen.”

He can feel his heart hammering so hard in his chest, he’s almost afraid it’s going to jump right out of his body as his blood violently rushes through his veins. When no sound makes it past his lips, Jared reaches down and slowly pops open the buttons on his jeans.

“Say no.”

The silence in the room bounces off the walls as Jared pulls his fly open. He’s still got time, still got time to put a stop to this, there’s still underwear, still one boundary left.

“Say no.”

A hand makes its way below the elastic waistband, taking hold of what’s hidden beneath. The only sound emitted is Jared’s loud groan as Jensen unconsciously moistens his dry lips.

It feels like his eyes are going to fall out of his skull as Jared reveals the only part of him Jensen hasn’t seen yet. There’s just no way, no way that that thing will even fit.

“Say no.”

He doesn’t want to, it hits him right then that he really doesn’t want to say no, but he’ll be damned if he knows what the hell to do.

“It’s ok, it’s ok, Jensen, you’re perfect; there’s no way you can do this wrong.”

A gentle grip around his neck, not pushing, just holding on as his head moves forward, and his lips finally make contact with Jared’s moist cockhead. Jared’s other hand holds on to his member, and Jensen can feel the grip on his neck tighten as he slowly opens up and takes the head in his mouth.

“Good Jensen, that’s so good. Perfect.”

Urged on by Jared’s husky voice, he tightens his lips and takes more, letting them slide further and further down the thick length, until it hits the back of his throat, and he just can’t go any further.

“Yeah, that’s right, that’s perfect, now up again. God!”

So he does, he lets his mouth slide up again and then down. Up...and down. Up and down, until he starts to learn the rhythm. He learns that a tongue really is an amazingly versatile muscle, and by the time Jensen figures out just what Jared sounds like when he hollows his cheeks and sucks, Jared’s stopped talking, it’s just murmuring encouragements, nonsensical babble moaned out in a hoarse voice.

It hits him right then that he’s in charge; in this he’s got power like he's never had before. Right here he’s got Jared wrapped around his, well... tongue. And it’s not like it’s a hardship. The taste takes some getting used to, but it’s not unpleasant. And Jared, Jared’s touching him like he’s the most precious thing in the world, like what he’s doing is monumental, like world peace or something.

Suddenly he’s gone from being invisible to being the centre of someone’s world. With this action, he’s suddenly important. Jared could get this from anyone, but he wants it from him, Jensen. He wants Jensen to wrap his lips around him, wants Jensen to let his tongue trace the slit in the swollen head. It’s Jensen’s hair Jared lets his fingers tighten in as he sucks, and sucks and sucks.

Jared wants him; he can have anyone he wants, but he wants Jensen.

“Jen.”

It’s the only warning he gets, before the grip in his hair tightens, and his mouth is flooded. On reflex he just swallows, takes what Jared gives him, and by the rough sound above him he figures Jared approves.

He lets his mouth slide off and moves back a bit, waiting for something, anything, to happen, for Jared to say something; but instead two rough hands grab him and haul him up on the bed.

One second he’s on his knees on the floor, and the next he’s on his back on the bed, Jared looming over him, his tongue in his mouth and hand down his pants.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five hard strokes, and Jensen’s not sure what the hell’s happening before his back bows and he’s coming so hard it feel like he’s about to combust.

For a few minutes he just lies there staring up at the ceiling his body slowly coming back down to reality as his breathing slows down. When he finally moves his eyes away from the ceiling he sees Jared lying on his side, his head propped up in one hand as the thumb on the other traces his swollen lips.

“You’re gonna be so much trouble.”

Jensen’s not really sure what the hell that’s supposed to mean, but it’s said with a satisfied smile, so he figures it’s probably a good thing.

What’s not a good thing is the sticky feeling in his pants, it’s actually really gross. But when he tries to get up a strong arm around his waist stops him.

“Where are you going?”

Jensen points towards the bathroom but Jared shakes his head. “Sorry, I don’t speak sign language. Where are you going?”

Jensen looks over and gives him a look as if to say, “What the hell!”

Apparently Jared has no problem understanding that type of communication because he laughs but still shakes his head. “Where. Are. You. Going?”

Jensen huffs in irritation but caves, “Shower.”

Jared gives him another dimpled smile, “Great idea.”

He gets off the bed, takes his hand and starts pulling him towards the bathroom door, but that was so not what Jensen had in mind. He stops, which makes Jared stop and look over at him. “Really? Jensen, you just had my cock in your mouth, you can take a damn shower with me.”

And really, what’s he supposed to say to that?

 

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It was bound to happen sooner or later, but it’s still kind of a shock the night it finally happens.

The whole thing about men falling asleep right after an orgasm is very true with Jared, not so much with Jensen. Maybe it’s because he still gets so exited every time he gets to have one with another person besides himself, but for some reason the adrenaline level in his body skyrockets every time it happens, and he’s left awake with his skin tingling while Jared quickly starts to softly snore next to him.

On one of those nights he just can’t take it; he feels like the bones in his body are going to crawl out of his skin. So, finally, he gives up and quietly gets out of bed, taking his computer with him as he sneaks down the stairs.

He almost drops the computer when he hears a voice behind him, “You’re not running away are you? Cuz, dude, I’m way too lazy to chase after you. So don’t fucking run, because I’m gonna get my ass handed to me tomorrow when they discover it if you are.”

When Jensen looks around, he can see Chad sprawling on the couch, blond hair a mess, wearing nothing more than a pair of sweats with a beer in his hand.

For a few moments he just stands there, too shocked to do anything else. Up until now he’s only seen a few short glimpses of the man on the couch, and Chad's never spoken directly to him.

“Well? Are you running or not?”

He doesn’t have his board with him-- since Jared launched his “I’m now dyslexic, so you have to talk” campaign there hasn’t really been any point-- but even though he’s now able to produce a word or two, it’s only ever been to Jared; he hasn’t spoken around anyone else.

“Dude, seriously, don’t force me to get up from this couch. Yes, or no?”

He’s not really left with any choice, “No.”

“So you can talk. Cool. Well, if you’re not running, then why aren’t you up in bed with tall, dark and annoying?”

It’s asked with only a mild curiosity.

“Sleeping.”

“Ah, I knew there had to be a reason for the unnatural quiet around here. Want a beer?”
He probably looks like a deer caught in the headlights the way he’s just standing there with his eyes blown wide, and a nervous stance to his body.

“Seriously, I don’t fucking bite… much. Not saying I wouldn’t mind, but you’ve made Jared go all caveman, and, pretty as you are, I like my arms attached. So come over here, sit the fuck down, and have a beer.”

So he does.

Jensen walks over, sits down on the couch, placing his laptop beside him before he accepts the beer Chad’s handing him. He’s never really done the whole drinking thing, yet another part of social life he’s been beaten into avoiding. He’s had a beer or two before but always been way too nervous about it to really understand the point. As he takes a pull from the bottle, he remembers that the taste was another reason he never really got into it, but it would be rude to spit it out or not finish the bottle he’s been offered, so he takes another pull as he sits quiet on the sofa.

“So, what’s the computer for?”

Now, that’s just too complicated a question for Jensen to be able to answer with one word, so instead, again not to be rude, he opens the laptop and starts it up, clicking his way into his photo editing program. Once in, he turns the screen so Chad can look.

“Editing.”

Without asking, Chad takes the computer from him and starts looking through the pictures. It’s a bit weird and uncomfortable. He’s never really shown anyone his pictures, ever. Jared’s seen a picture or two, but no one has ever really sat down and looked at them, not like Chad is doing right now.

“Fuck, these are really good, man. Too bad your computer and program is crap. You could really do amazing stuff with these pictures if you had better shit to work with.”

There's not much he can say to that. He knows his computer is outdated these days, and that there are a lot better photo editing programs out there that his computer isn’t strong enough to handle.

But in the end it all comes down to, “Expensive.”

“True, if you actually pay for them.” Chad looks at him for a long moment before getting up from the couch. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

Chad walks over to his room, and a moment later comes back with a laptop under his arm and a bunch of cables in one hand.

“This is what you need, the best money can buy--or in this case, I can steal.” He sits down next to Jensen again, opens another two beers, and starts hooking up the new computer to his old one with a bunch of cables and other things. Jensen has no idea what they are for.
Jensen can only look on in awe as Chad’s fingers fly over the keyboard. He’s got no idea what he’s doing, or why he’s doing it, but this really doesn’t seem like the right time to ask him.

It takes around an hour, an hour without Chad opening his mouth to say anything other than, “beer,” and then holding out a hand as Jensen gives him a new one.

Finally, he removes the cables, shuts Jensen’s old computer and throws it carelessly over to the other side of the couch, giving Jensen a minor heart attack in the process. He makes a move to get up and walk over to see that it’s not broken, but Chad just puts one hand on his shoulder and pulls him down on the couch again.

“Ignore that piece of crap. I’ve got what you need right here. Look.”

He sees that Chad’s moved all his pictures over to the shiny new laptop in his lap, “I’ve hooked you up with the latest Adobe Photoshop Elements. It’s not the best of the best, but it’s good enough for what you need right now. When you get better, you can look into programs directed at professionals, but for now this will be perfect for you. Also, I’ve made copies of all your pictures and put them on this USB memory, so you don’t lose everything if something happens with the computer. I mean, I love these machines, but they can be real bitches sometimes.”

With that said, Chad puts the machine in Jensen’s lap. It’s taken a while longer than it probably should have, but it’s not until this very moment that it really hits him. He understands that Chad is actually giving him a new computer, a really amazing new computer, but he doesn’t understand why. Granted, he doesn’t know much about the man, but in the little he’s heard of him, ‘generous’ doesn’t really fit the profile. In the end he just has to ask.

“Why?”

Chad opens another bottle and hands it to Jensen before leaning back into the plush couch cushions.

“Look, I know you’ve probably heard all sorts of stuff about me, and I’m guessing the Cliff Notes would be something like selfish, cheap, idiot, annoying, etc. -- and I’ll gladly admit to being almost all of those things. But, living with these three morons isn’t a fucking walk in the park, you know."

Jensen doesn't, but as Chad takes another pull from his bottle and then continues talking without actually waiting for a reply, he figures it doesn't matter.

“At least with you here they’re all so busy sliding around in their own drool I get some peace of fucking mind. Also, you didn’t talk, and now even when you do it’s like one word every two hours, and that’s actually tolerable. Plus I had that thing lying ‘round, so I guess you can see it as a thank you for getting the Three Stooges off my back."

Chad leans back against the cushions and suddenly smiles in a not all that pleasant way before adding as an afterthought.

"And it’s gonna annoy the hell out of Jared, and that’s always fun.”

Of course, Jensen can't give him a long, intricate thank you, or even go through the pointless social 'must-do' that dictates that he should really protest for at least a few minutes before gracefully accepting the gift. But then, Chad seems to like that he doesn’t talk, and, also, he stole it, so it’s not like he paid for it.

“Thanks.”

Chad looks over and raises his beer towards him and says, “No problem,” before turning back to the TV. “I’ve downloaded A-Team, wanna watch it?” Jensen has no idea what that is, but the guy just gave him a new laptop, so the least he can do is watch this A-Team thing.

 

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Part 8

The second time Jared locks him in their room is easier, mostly because Jensen knows what to expect, and how he's going to react, but more so because Jared's learnt how to deal with it.
Jared takes him out for a whole day before and after, walking for hours just to get to new areas Jensen hasn't seen, and then sitting quietly as he disappears behind his lens for hours on end.

When Jared finally does close the door and lock it, Jensen doesn't feel so twitchy. Instead, he shuts out whatever is happening around him and dives into the images on his computer screen.

The third and fourth time is just as easy - not that it isn't difficult for him, but at least he can make it through his incarceration without feeling like crawling out of his own skin.
He's stopped caring; he knows, or at least understands, what's going on downstairs.

Irreplaceable pieces of stolen art are being exchanged for millions and millions of dollars, and he really couldn't care less. The only thing he cares about is that he's safe, and in a few hours Jared will come back, unlock the door and take him for a walk down on the shoreline.

He should probably be having a few more sleepless nights about all this than he's currently had, but he just can't bring himself to care. The fact of the matter is, he's kind of happy; for the first time ever, he's actually happy. And since all this is, sooner or later, going to blow up in his face one way or another, he might as well spend whatever time is left enjoying it, instead of feeling bad for the rest of the world. Honestly, though, he's got enough to feel bad about just in his own life. The world can feel bad for itself.

That's probably why the fifth time is a disaster of epic proportions.

The thing about being happy is that you start wanting things, expecting that nice, mushy feeling to not only continue, but you start thinking about how you can make it even better.
You start making plans, and, well, when your lover is really your kidnapper, making plans are not something you should be doing, or can do, really. Not that it's stopping Jensen.

In his mind things have started to shimmer in a slightly rosy hue, and everything Jared does is amazing, and clever and just really, really great. Jared makes the best pot of coffee ever known to man; he's really strong, and hot, and funny and just amazing.

So he's got a crush - a big one. He's thirty years old, it's about time he gets to have a real, honest to God crush on someone.

The problem with having your first crush on someone when you're thirty is that the object of your crush, when he falls (and they always fall), his fall is so much longer and so much more complicated than when you're thirteen.

When you're thirty and the object of your crush falls from grace, and the object of your crush just happens to be an art thief who's kidnapped you, it's more like this...

When Jensen wakes up, he knows he's about to be locked in for a fifth time, and it's really no big deal. Jared soothes him with kisses and orgasms-- orgasms are nice. Orgasms make him calm. Orgasms are epic.

So he's got a one-track mind. Why don't you try and deny yourself orgasms given to you by someone other than yourself after thirty years and then see how diverse your thoughts are, once you actually start getting some.

So, Jared, orgasms, and then being locked in a room for a whole day really isn't that big of a deal.

In hindsight, he probably shouldn't have been so surprised, or scared, or shocked. If he'd thought about it, he should have realized that this could happen; but he didn't, because Jared is a nice guy. A nice guy who promised he would be safe, and Jensen believed him, he honestly believed him.

He'd been locked in for hours and hours - longer than normal. The sky outside the large window is already getting dark. Still, he's not worried-- he's not, not even when he can hear the patio door open, and voices being raised as he sees shadows stepping outside. Things happen at ultra speed, but still somehow in slow-motion. Someone makes a move, another one shouts, and then a loud bang can be heard.

It takes a few seconds for Jensen to realize it was a gunshot he heard. Once he understands what just happened, he can feel the bile forcing its way up his throat as he frantically searches the darkness outside through his window to make sure Jared's not hurt, but it's too dark.

He hadn’t need to worry, though. Just below the window, looking through the patio light, Jensen can see the shadow of the shooter. Immediately after, when everything is forced into a complete calm and silence, the shadow stays still, but then, one, two, three seconds later, it turns its head, and then he sees: Jensen sees Jared's face. Jared's sharp angles turned up towards the light, but turned away, so Jensen can't really see his expression, just enough to know that it's Jared, that Jared just shot someone.

 

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The thing is, for all his progress with talking, and feeling, and slowly learning what being happy means, Jensen is not a rational person--he's damaged. He doesn't handle situations like this with the steady calm it requires. He doesn't think, or analyze, or try and figure out the why's and how’s, he just reacts.

Jensen is a survivor. Everything he's been through, all the things he's endured, have always been with one thought in mind: surviving long enough to get away. All those years in that cold basement were only about survival, about holding on until he was old enough to disappear, and he learned the hard way just how to do it. But here, all this time in this cabin has slowed him down, made him forget that survival is what it's all about.

To be fair, he'd started to forget a long time ago, but being here has reminded him that the revolver in his nightstand, it was never going to be used. It was more about options than action.

But as the smoke settles, and Jared's shimmering pink aura turns into a dark, threatening cloud, Jensen remembers again, and his survival mode kicks in.

He wasn't alone, of course, the person Jared's just shot. So as the smoke clears, things start to happen all at once. Voices shout, and things get knocked over, fists connecting with various body parts, and more gunshots. Jensen really doesn't know exactly what's happening. He's too busy throwing his few possessions in his backpack. Computer, camera, a few pieces of clothing, all the food that's left from the times Jensen's been locked in-- granola bars, chocolate bars, soda cans--whatever edibles he can find he puts in the bag.

He doesn't really have a plan; he just needs to get away. Thing is, Jared promised Jensen he'd be safe, and that no one would hurt him, and Jensen believed him. Believed him because, in his infatuated mind, Jared wasn't violent, he was nice. He was a gentleman thief who, of course, stole things, but in an elegant way, without people getting hurt.

That's never been true. Even that first night, when they took him, Jensen saw the blood on the security guards’ desk. There was even a discussion about killing him. In hindsight, the fact that he's alive is probably more because of Jared's libido than mercy.

So the real question is: what happens when Jared has finally got what he wants, when Jensen has given him all he has to give, what will Jared do? Keep him? Not likely! Let him go? Not in a million years! The third option? Well, Jensen's not going to stay and find out.

He might not make it, they'll probably find him, but he has to try; he's not going to his own slaughter willingly. He might not be brave, or strong, or any of the things Jared and the others are, but he's not a martyr either.

Jensen puts on as much clothing as he can without constricting his movements, and then he thinks. The door is locked of course, but the balcony door is unlocked. He walks over to the window and looks out. The previous commotion has turned into an eerie quiet, and beneath him Jensen can see the outline of the people that have started to mean so much to him. At their feet is a stack of bodies, and as they start to load them onto a wheelbarrow and slowly start pushing it in the direction of the lakeshore, probably heading into the woods on the other side, Jensen sees his chance.

As they disappear out of sight, Jensen opens the balcony door and steps out. There are no stairs, but the balcony is supported by thick logs, and Jensen is able to climb over the railing and latch onto one so he can slide down. Once on the ground, he starts running. He knows his best chance is the road; running into the forest would be suicide.

As he reaches the front of the house he sees the bus, and the smaller off-road truck, but that's just out of the question. Even if he could find the keys, Jensen can't drive. No, he's going to have to run and walk. He knows he needs to follow the road, but running on it would just be stupid, so he heads into the forest on one side of the road intending to stay covered but still have a clear sight of the road and where he's going.

Jensen has no idea how long it will take him to reach civilization, a week, maybe more. In the back of his mind Jensen admits to himself that it probably won't happen, but he'll never just roll over and accept his fate. No, if Jared and the rest of them want him dead, then they are at least going to have to work a bit for it.

 

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It doesn't take very long, a few hours maybe, but eventually Jensen can hear the engine and see the headlights of the truck. He's already exhausted, the terrain is rough, and the night too cold; even with all the layers he's wearing, his clothes just weren't made for hiking. But still, he runs even further into the forest as he hears the truck stopping.

He doesn't know if he's been seen or if Jared's just stopping every now and then to scan the area. He knows it's Jared, he wouldn't send anyone else to do this. His legs are straining, and his lungs aching, but as he hears Jared's voice calling out for him he tries to run even faster not really caring about being overheard; if Jared is on his tail his best shot is to try and get as far away as possible as fast as he can.

Suddenly he can hear the engines come to life again, and, relieved, he stops and leans against the rough trunk of a large pine tree. Once he's got his breathing under control, he carefully starts making his way back, so he can see the outline of the road again. Not that he can really see much of anything considering how dark it is now, but the clear sky lets the newly risen moon at least cast some light, allowing him to see his surroundings in shadows. But he doesn't edge too close, knowing that eventually the truck will come back; Jared knows as well as he does that he can only have made it so far on foot.

In retrospect, Jensen should have realized that Jared is one sneaky bastard. Also, he should have understood that stealth is not one of his own talents. Which then should have led him to the conclusion that suddenly finding himself pressed down into the ground by 185 pounds of art thief/kidnapper, really isn't that surprising.

He tries to fight, he really does, but when you're lying on your front, arms pinned above your head, and a strong body straddling yours, it's kind of a lost cause to begin with, no matter how strong you are.

Things after that are surprisingly calm and uneventful. Jensen didn't really have that much fight left in him to begin with, and, well, he's already established that he really doesn't have that much to fight for anyway. He tried, it didn't work, now all he's got to do is wait.

Jared is quiet, too quiet, but Jensen's not about to coax him into talking as he drags Jensen up from the ground. Turns out he's just driven around a corner and parked there, then made his way back on foot. He places Jensen on the passenger seat, leaning in and making sure to buckle him up tightly, and then closing and locking the door, before he walks around to the driver’s seat. The ride back doesn't take long at all, and once in the house, Jared takes him up to their room. On his way up the stairs, he can hear doors open, and as he looks down three faces are staring at him. Jensen just turns his head away from their intense stare.

Once in the room Jared starts stripping him out of all his now damp layers of clothes, pulling roughly at the fabric, not seeming to care if something gets ripped, before quickly stripping off his own and then forcibly dragging Jensen along with him into the shower. He's not sure how to feel about that, but Jared's still quiet, and even if he's started to understand what's in store for him, Jared's silence is still frightening.

Jensen ends up right beneath the showerhead, the warm water hitting him directly. He can feel Jared behind him, standing so close, so close, and how the hell is he supposed to feel about that?

Jared's hands are so big as they settle around his hips and then run up his body, until his arms wrap around his waist, pulling Jensen flush against him. Jensen lets out a quiet yelp as Jared's mouth closes down at the base of his neck and bites down, hard. It's like he can feel his skin bruise as Jared's teeth let up, and his tongue laps at the sore spot.

One large palm moves from his waist and comes up to grip his hair roughly, pulling his head to the side as Jared's mouth moves and bites down on one shoulder. Over and over, Jared pulls his head from side to side, biting down hard over and over again, until his neck and shoulders are stinging.

The hand still on his waist comes down to grip one hip again, and its grip is so hard, Jensen can feel each finger digging into his skin. Then he's roughly turned around, Jared's larger body pressing him into the water-slicked tiles. He doesn't want to look, doesn't want to see, but he can't stop his eyes from looking up and onto Jared.

There's anger. The dark rage is clear as day in his eyes, but there something more, a silent desperation that Jensen doesn't understand. His jaw is gripped roughly, holding him in place as Jared leans down and claims his mouth. He should probably try to stop, should do something to try and get away, instead of just opening up, letting Jared in.

Jensen doesn't want to; he doesn't want to get away. He wants to feel something. If this is the end then at least he wants to know what it's like to really feel. Just once.

At his shy response, Jared emits a guttural growl and presses even closer, deepening the kiss while sucking and nipping at his lips, until Jensen can start to feel the coppery taste of blood in his mouth. When Jensen lets his arms lift from where they've been hanging by his sides and wraps them around Jared's neck, it's like something shifts, and suddenly he can feel himself being lifted, his legs coming to rest around Jared's waist without him even thinking about it.

Then the water suddenly shuts off and he's being carried, carried, out of the bathroom. They're both soaked, water running down in tiny rivulets across their bodies, dripping from their hair, but Jared doesn't seem to care as he walks out of the bathroom and places Jensen on the bed, smoothly going down with him, settling between spread legs, blanketing his body.

It hits him then, what's happening, that he's lying naked on a bed with another naked person on top of him. It's not like it's anything special really. It happens all over the world, over and over again, God knows how many millions of people are in the same exact position he is right now. But the thing is, it's happening to him, and it's not supposed to, things like this are out of reach for someone like him. It happens to normal happy people who laugh and have friends and… talk.

The thing is, even though it's really nothing monumental that's about to happen, it is to him. Jensen just never imagined himself in a position like this, and now that he's here, it's almost too much to take in.

But only almost; just because he's never been able to see himself in this sort of situation doesn't mean he's going to try and get out of it.

Jared's on top of him, moving his naked body, damp and hot from the shower, gently against Jensen's, and he wants him. In contrast to every other person Jensen's ever met, Jared wants him, wants to be on top of him, inside of him. Wants to kiss him, touch him, own him. Who's he to refuse someone wanting him. No, Jared wants him, and Jensen's waited so long for someone like Jared. He doesn't care what Jared's done. He really doesn't care, because Jared wants him, touches him so soft and gentle; even when the touches are rough, they're still caring.

Jensen doesn't know anything about goodness, righteousness, all he knows is that someone who wants someone like him, someone so... wrong, can't be that bad.

So he's going to let Jared do whatever he wants not that he's sure Jared's actually giving him a choice, but if he is, Jensen's going to let him.

And then Jared suddenly stills. Supporting his weight on one arm, he lifts his other to run his hand up Jensen's neck, long fingers coming up to trace his cheekbones, down the ridge of his nose, ghosting over his abused lips.

"I'd never hurt you, Jensen." Even though the voice is soft, gentle, like Jared's talking to a skittish animal, it still sounds like rolling thunder in the previously silent room.

"I'm not a saint, Lord knows I'm not, and I killed that man. I did and I'm not sorry. But he drew his gun first. I don't go around shooting people, but if someone draws a gun on me then I'm going to draw mine. And I'm always faster. Always."

Jensen has no problem believing that.

"But you..."

Jared leans his head down so their foreheads are touching and lets out something that could be a sigh or a whimper, Jensen’s not sure.

"Please don't be scared, everyone else should be, but not you... don't run from me Jensen, I'd never hurt you. "

Maybe it's wishful thinking, maybe it's his desperate need to be touched, to be something to someone, but Jensen actually believes him.

So he reaches up, letting one hand curl around Jared's neck and moves his head up so his lips can graze Jared's. It's hesitant, innocent, or maybe inexperienced is a better word for it considering the intent behind the action.

It's a cliché, used time and time again, but Jensen's soft, hesitant kiss really is like opening the flood gates. Suddenly it's like Jared is everywhere all at once; his hands are stroking Jensen's calves, caressing his thighs, smoothing over the taut muscles on his abdomen, gripping his hips, holding his jaw in a vice grip as he plunders Jensen's swollen mouth.

Somehow it's like Jared's more desperate than him, like Jared's the one starving for physical connection, starving for him – for Jensen. That thought right there, is enough to make Jensen gasp, or it probably would be, but Jared's hand forcing it's way between their damp bodies and closing around his hard cock is a sure way to make sure that he'll never really know for sure.

Jared isn't gentle, he's rough, and just on the edge of too hard, and as it turns out that's just how Jensen likes it. It's not like he hasn't done this to himself hundreds of times over the years, but it's never been like this, it’s never felt so damn good. So right, guilt free; Jared makes him feel like what's happening isn't something wrong, something dirty to be done under the covers in a dark room.

Jared makes him feel like being sprawled naked with another man on top of the covers in a brightened room is completely normal, like this is how it always should be.

Jared's so sure of himself, of what he's doing. The strokes are even, just the right side of rough and it's like Jared can't even conceive the idea of that Jensen might not like what he's doing, like Jared knows what he needs more then Jensen does. Which is probably true, Jensen's never been here before, but Jared has, and he knows what Jensen needs.

Jared plays Jensen's body like it's an instrument created just for him, pulls on him with one hand as the other makes its way over the rest of him. His mouth licking, biting sucking until there's nothing left of Jensen but a quivering lump of sensation.

A slight tingling sensation at the base of his spine is his first warning, he reaches up to grab at Jared's shoulders, trying to pry his lips away from Jared's but is met with resistance. When he finally manages to get his mouth away it's almost too late.

"Jared, stop, I want..."

But Jared doesn't let him finish, just kisses him again before speeding up his strokes.

"It's ok, it's ok, Jensen, let go, I want you to let go."

It's not what Jensen wants, it's not how he wants to finish, he wants Jared, all of him before his release, but it's too late, he can't stop himself and within seconds his body goes rigid as he explodes.

His head is spinning, his heart trying to slam its way out of his chest, and he's not entirely sure he can feel his toes. He's barely started to come down from the high he's just experienced when Jared, who for a second or two has been still, is on him again and with sure, gentle hands urges him over onto his belly, and with large, steady hands pulls Jensen up on his knees.

Jensen doesn't say a thing, just goes with it and makes a satisfied little moan when he can feel Jared blanketing his body, his hot breath so close and warm against his neck that Jensen can feel a shiver running down his spine.

"Jensen..." The voice is coming from just behind him but, as dazed as he is, it could be from anywhere. But it's said in a voice that demands his attention so Jensen tried his best to focus, giving a wordless mumble as his only reply.

"Jensen, do you know what I'm gonna do to you now?"

He does, or at least he hopes; he can't really form words right now though, because Jared's hands are not still on his hips, they're roaming all over him, pulling and caressing every single sensitive place on his body. Another wordless confirmation is all he can offer, but Jared seems to understand.

"Have you ever done this before?"

Jared makes it sound like it's actually a genuine question and not something he asks just out of politeness. Jensen can't help the slightly amused sound coming out of his mouth. Like he ever would have been like this with anyone else, like someone other than Jared would have stopped to look at Jensen long enough to ever contemplate finding themselves in this kind of position with him.

Jared keeps telling him that he doesn't understand the affect he has on other people, but what Jared doesn't understand, is that he's the one who shines that light on Jensen, without Jared he's invisible.

Jared seems to understand and doesn't ask anything else.

Later, when Jensen tries to remember, it doesn't come back to him in one fluid sequence of events, it's more like snapshots of a touch, a kiss, the moment Jensen feels all of Jared inside of him and how it's felt to be so full, so connected to another person.

But mostly it's just a jumble of emotions and sensations, feeling Jared move inside of him, the pain and pleasure all mixed up into one single amazing sensation. Jared's large hands gripping his hips so tight it felt almost like his fingers where trying to crawl their way inside of him and how damn good it felt.

And then of course, towards the end, how Jared was so desperate, his teeth clamping down at the side of Jensen's neck, his fingers painting bruises down slim hips as raw strength helps him go so deep, so right.

Jensen Ackles can barely speak a word, but Jared, Jared can make him scream.

 

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Part 9

Jensen wakes up to the sound of sirens; his body is sore, but it feels right. The sirens though, the sirens are wrong, and he quickly opens his eyes, and suddenly he realizes that not all his aches are good, or sex related. Some of the aches are coming from the fact that he's tied up. His hands are bound by tape behind his back, and his ankles are taped together as well.

After that, he kind of just zones out; it's like everything happens in slow-motion: the door being kicked in, the swirl of blue coats with three yellow letters on the back storming into the room, and then hands releasing him, wrapping him up in the sheet he's lying under.
Soft hands holding him, telling him that it's over, that he's free and safe. He’s safe with them, and they'll protect him.

The days that follow are a blur. He knows he's taken to a hospital, people in white coats and green scrubs are around him, long dark looks being shared as gloved hands travel over the bruises covering his body. At some point hands go too far down, and Jensen freaks. He doesn't scream, doesn't say anything, but he throws himself away, trying to run. Hands hold him down, gently, but they're still holding him down. There's a nurse with a round, pretty face and shiny black hair stroking his hair and telling him to relax, no one's going to hurt him, but they have to check for tearing.

There are so many people, all speaking to him, all touching him with soft, gentle hands. Jensen doesn't understand; he can feel bile in his throat constantly teetering on the edge of forcing its way up.

Jared – he wants to know where Jared is; did they get caught?

He gets his answer as two agents arrive from the FBI. Jensen wants to heave just looking at them. The man is the stereotype: bulky with sunglasses on, and a way too high opinion of himself and his own importance. But his partner, the woman, she's soft around the edges. She doesn't touch or ask anything in the beginning.

She just tells him what he needs to know, and without realizing it, she makes everything perfectly clear.

They've been looking for him since the robbery was discovered four months ago; they thought maybe he was a part of it, an inside job, but of course, he's not a suspect anymore. Frankly, she tells him, they really don't have any other leads.

It turns out he's been in freaking Montana all this time. They tell him the cabin he's been in was located smack in the middle of nowhere, on the outer border of a privately owned ranch. The owners had, of course, suspected nothing. An anonymous person called in a tip from an untraceable cell phone. The people who took him – who hurt him – she's sorry to say that they were too late to catch them. By the look of it they'd been gone a while, but luckily the FBI was able to find Jensen, and that's the most important thing after all. And maybe, maybe when he feels a little bit better, he can help them, tell them something that will help them catch those bad men.

It's all clear; it's Jared, he's giving him an out, he's trusting him. Jensen knows they're all probably long gone by now, and that they're going to stay gone, but it's still a lot of trust. Jensen can ID them all. He doesn't have names - well he does, but who knows how real those are - or anything really, but he still has information that could at least start building up a file with the authorities. But Jared's given him an out, turned him from a suspect into a victim, a brutalized victim, who they all have to be careful with because of the trauma he's endured.

Jensen's not sure he's all that grateful. In fact, he's really freaking pissed off. He didn't ask for this; if Jared wasn't going to kill him, then why leave him? How is all this better? Jensen was fine where he was; he's got nothing to go back to.

Later there are more people. Lawyers from the museum, all so sympathetic and worried, handing over a big check, and would Jensen please just sign this paper? It's not important really, just a little paper saying that he won't now, or in the future, take any legal action against the museum or mention the museum in an unflattering manner if he speaks to the media, that kind of stuff.

Jensen signs. It's a lot of money, and he wants them gone, wants to go himself. But they won't let him go. There are more people, gentle voices and understanding nods. Rape counselors, and trauma counselors, and kidnapping counselors, and fuck all counselors, and Jensen wants to punch them all. He hasn’t been raped, and he's not fucking traumatized... well not more so than he was before all this happened anyway.

Of course he can't tell them that; they give him a keyboard, and when he types, the words come up on a big screen beside him.

There are millions of questions. Did he ever see their faces? How many were there? Did anyone else ever come to the cabin?

Jensen's really sorry, really, he is, but he can't be any of help. He never saw them; he was locked up the whole time. He's not sure how many there were, he only ever interacted with one person. Maybe there were more; he thinks so, but he can't say how many.
And the person who hurt him? They understand it's hard to talk about, of course they do, but if Jensen could just try, any little thing could help them catch his kidnapper and make sure he'll never hurt anyone like he hurt Jensen.

If that's the case, then Jensen feels really bad for that special anyone, because Jared's kind of hurt is the best he's ever felt.

Jensen figures they all think he's a bit retarded, what with the whole non-talking thing and his overall lack of social skills. Oh yeah, he's not talking - not ever again. He talked to Jared and Chad, and he might have talked to Chris and Steve if he'd had the time, but now he'll never know. And no, he won't talk to anyone else. Ever.

He wants the questions to end, but they keep pushing. There must be something he can tell them. They keep pushing, until they find him in his hospital room, stark naked in front of the mirror, his hand traveling over the faded bruises around his collar. If he closes his eyes, he can almost feel Jared's teeth sinking into his skin.

After that there's talk about Stockholm Syndrome, and there seems to be a general consensus that Jensen's just not in a place where he's of any use right now.

They decide to let him go home. The closest town is Billings and they fly him home from its airport. They follow him all the way to his apartment door where his landlord is waiting. Apparently his apartment was considered a crime scene or something - he doesn't understand or care. The only thing that matters is that he still has his apartment, and that he doesn't owe any back rent.

They leave him with folders about coping, listings for local support groups and three therapy sessions booked the following week. They squeeze his arm, give him numbers he can call anytime, day or night, and ask once more if there really isn't anyone they can call for him. He tells them, again, that there isn't. He doesn't care. All he cares about is them leaving, and him not having to have anything else to do with them.

When the door finally closes, Jensen sinks down on the floor, his back leaning against the closed front door. He's alone again, and this time it's worse, because now he knows what it's like not to be. He reaches for his backpack on the floor beside him and goes through it again: clothes, a camera without a memory card, nothing important, nothing to remind him of what's happened.

When they put all the things in front of him, asked him if they were his things, and if anything was missing, he said no. His computer, all his pictures, years and years of work all gone, and still he said no, nothing was missing, it was all there.

He hates them a little for taking his computer from him. He knows why, and understands. You can't be a traumatized kidnap victim and at the same time have a computer and a camera full of pictures of your smiling captors. It would have been a bit hard to explain how he managed to have one thousand plus nature pictures of the cabin's surroundings when he'd supposedly spent those four months locked in a room. No, he understands; but still, he hates it. It was all he had, and now it's gone, and a few months from now, when his life has reverted to the same, boring routine he had before all this happened, it will all start to fade, and soon he'll forget, forget what it felt like to be seen, to exist.

For four months of his thirty year long life Jensen Ackles existed, and now he has to relearn what it's like to be invisible.

 

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Turns out it's really fucking hard to stop existing, once you've actually started.

Another four months, and Jensen wants to run away. The problem is that you can't run from yourself. He barely leaves his apartment; why go out, when all it will do is remind him that for a brief moment in his life someone saw him, someone talked to him, someone liked him, and now not one single person sees him?

He wonders if Jared thinks about him. Lying in bed, his fingers travel down to his hips, pressing down hard as he closes his eyes and pretends it’s Jared’s hands; it works, if only for a few seconds.

But then he opens his eyes, and there are no rafters in his roof, and Jared's not there.

And then, one day, there's a postcard in his mail. It's blank, just his address. The front shows blue Caribbean waters surrounding a lush green island; on the bottom right corner, flowing white text tells him that he's looking at Guana Island.

It's easy, he hasn't bothered replacing his computer, but a quick trip to the library, and he knows all he has to. Guana Island is a small, privately owned island in the British Virgin Islands, recently sold by its previous owner to a new, unnamed buyer.

He makes up his mind right there. He goes home and packs the things that are important to him before placing his key in an envelope with a letter telling his landlord he's leaving and won't be coming back. He adds a month's rent as a sort of thank you and drops the letter in his landlord's mailbox as he leaves the building.

A six-hour plane ride to Beef Island, a short taxi ride to the harbour, and then it's just a matter of finding someone who can give him the short boat ride over to the private island.

Exactly thirteen hours after he walked out of his apartment, twenty-four hours since he received the postcard, Jensen steps foot on Guana Island.

In the beginning he doesn't really notice anything; he doesn't see the clear, turquoise water or the lush nature around him. His eyes are set on the cottage just a few yards away down the beach, and the tall figure he can see lying on a large couch on the raised wooden deck.

Jared's stretched out on his back, taking up more room than should be possible, and on his stomach is a tiny grey ball of fur. He looks up when Jensen's feet finally step on the wooden boards, sees him and smiles. Jensen kind of wants to punch him, or kiss him; actually he wants to do both, but kissing feels more urgent.

As Jensen approaches Jared lifts the tiny ball of fur with a gentle hand and holds it out.

"I got you a kitten."

 

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Epilogue

It's not like his life changes all that much... well, ok, of course it does. There's a significant difference between living alone in a shitty New York apartment, doing a job you hate while being miserable, and living on a private Caribbean island, with sunshine all day, all the fresh tropical fruit he can eat, spending his days taking pictures of beautiful things (and yes, they did save his computer and all his pictures). And Jared.

Jared's there, and frankly he could be living in outer Siberia as long as Jared was there.

But he doesn't, he lives with Jared and Jenjen. (Jared's never allowed to name their pets, ever again!) And Chris, Steve, Chad and this really hot older guy Jeff, who he's never met before.

Apparently Guana Island is not Jared's private island. It's more like a co-operative owned by retired thieves.

But it's nice. It's a big enough group for Jared not to feel isolated, and for Jensen not to feel intimidated.

But it's not like Jensen really changes. He's not miraculously cured and turned into a calm, balanced, mentally stable person. He's still damaged, he still barely talks, and he stills hates Macaroni and Cheese from a box.

He's still Jensen; it's just that this version of Jensen exists.

Jared sees him, Jared kisses him, and holds him, and loves him and gives him orgasms-- lots and lots of orgasms.

So maybe you can't run from yourself, but sometimes-- if you're really lucky, or seriously damaged, depending on how you choose to look at it-- you can run to another you.

 

The end

 

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