Of course Jensen was right.
After climbing the spindly towers until their leg muscles burned, they were received by Ruth, the Red Witch, who ruled all the witches in Hell. Her hair was as red as the cloak that had given her her name. That or the blood of her enemies she liked to bathe in. With her in the room were the White and the Green Witch — also named for the color of their garmets — both of them eyeing Jared and Jensen curiously.
Jared explained, and made their offer. Ruth laughed in their faces.
“My dear boy,” she said. “You have brought me an angel. Why would I let him go?”
To emphasize her point, she shut all the windows with a single flick of her ringed index finger.
The Green Witch was standing next to Ruth’s throne, nodding along. The White Witch sat over by one of the windows that she casually opened again and was reading, now seemingly uninterested in the proceedings.
“I heard you were a formidable enemy,” Jensen said calmly.
Ruth smiled graciously.
“I have to say, I'm rather disappointed now.”
Immediately, Ruth’s face pinched up in an angry scowl. Jared was torn between admiration and worry.
“Do you want me to show you exactly of what I’m capable of, you little feather factory?”
Jensen snorted. “Not necessarily. But you do realize that I’m a beacon for every demon in Hell and it’s only a matter of time until they come and try to steal me away.”
“Ah, for the fabled angel’s power,” Ruth said and gave Jared a pitying look. “Poor boy.”
Jared startled. “What? Why?”
Ruth turned back to Jensen. “The old ones still remember. They won’t come for that.”
Jared’s stomach sank. What were they talking about?
“The old ones,” Jensen said, enjoying every word, “want to eat me up. They’ll come for angel blood, if nothing else. Some of them are even interested in my feathers. There’s an ancient dragon.demon out there who’ll definitely fight you at the chance of another feather bath.”
The Green Witch let out a giggle at that, but cut herself off when the Red Witch shot her an icy glare.
“And the young ones,” Jensen continued with a wry smile, “will come for the power or my blood. No, you won’t be able to keep me here.”
Ruth raised an eyebrow. “You don’t think I can deal with a few pathetic demons? Besides, I have servants. Minions, who’ll throw themselves against every danger at my order.”
Jensen looked skeptical. “Even if. That’s not even counting on your higher ups and what they would want with a former soldier of Heaven. I fought in the wars, I know things. Trust me, they’ll want to talk to me.”
“Very well,” Ruth said lightly but her expression was pinched. “So, your feathers for our help?”
Ruth pondered this, then she turned to Jared, a knowing smile on her lips. “I’ll do it. But, in return, you will bring me more of the scrolls.”
“I do that anyway,” Jared said.
“Without anything in return,” Ruth said coldly.
Right now, Jared didn’t think there was anything in Hell he could want anyway. “Fine.”
“I want your blood on it,” Ruth said.
In the corner, the White Witch rose, but Jared didn’t pay her any attention. If he gave Ruth his blood, he’d forever become her slave. Her minion. Jared saw them around occasionally, the wretched demons the witches had forced or tricked into their service. Being a torture grunt was a thousand times more appealing.
“Your blood or no deal,” Ruth repeated.
“Jared, you swore an oath to me,” Jensen said. “Why can’t you just swear one to her?”
Jensen didn't know what it meant. But why would he? It was a demon thing.
Jared looked at him, took in his features that had become so familiar to him, all the freckles, the bump in his nose. He remembered the feel of Jensen’s lips, the rhythm of his breath on his face. Remembered all those snide comments, remembered his fierceness in a fight. And then he realized the change Jensen had undergone. His formerly immaculate clothing was torn and stained, there was a scabbed over scratch on his arm from the demon-vine. Jensen didn’t belong here. Jared couldn’t stand to see him like this.
Jared had fallen hopelessly in love. And as much as he hurt, there was only one answer he could give Ruth. He couldn’t let Jensen get eaten by demons or imprisoned by witches.
Her laughter tinkered through the room while she clapped her hands. “Excellent.”
Jensen’s brow furrowed up in confusion. Perhaps he was realizing that something more than he knew was going on, so Jared turned away from him. He didn’t want to give away what was happening. Jensen didn't need to know what deal Jared had just made. Jared wouldn’t be able to bear Jensen’s lack of reciprocity.
So instead Jared looked at the White Witch. Her gaze was resting heavily on him, eyes never straying from his face.
“You know what you’re doing?” she asked.
Jared didn’t trust himself to speak, so he nodded.
The White Witch smiled. “We always do, don’t we?”
Jared didn’t understand, but his attention was torn away when Ruth rose from her throne and approached him.
Demandingly, she held out her hand. “Give it to me.”
Reluctantly, Jared grabbed his staff and cut his palm. He extended his hand and let the blood drop into Ruth’s hand. Smoke rose up when blood and skin made contact. Then Ruth brought her hand to her face and breathed in.
“Ah, the lovely smell of desperation.”
She turned to Jensen. “Now, for you.”
She raised her hands and muttered an incantation under her breath. Almost translucent smoke swirled from her fingertips towards Jensen. It curled around him and in the smoke, Jared could see Jensen’s wings.
Jensen squared his shoulders and arched them outwards, the wingspan almost stretching from wall to wall. Ruth walked around him, watching him like prey she was just about to eat and then she pulled a knife from the folds of her red dress. She grinned when she started to cut.
Jensen didn't scream, but the pain forced him to his knees. Without thinking, Jared jumped towards him, but he was pulled back by an invisible force. From her place, the Green Witch snarled at him.
Hopelessly, Jared had to watch Ruth cut feather after feather from Jensen’s back; had to watch Jensen’s face pulled into a grimace of pain Jared knew all too well from the souls on his rack.
He hadn’t known it would hurt Jensen like that. He didn’t know if he would have agreed to it if he had known.
Jensen looked up at Jared, and his face was calmer now. “It’s alright,” he said. “It’s not bad.”
“Liar,” Jared croaked out.
“Time honored angelic dealing mechanism,” Jensen ground out.
Despite himself, Jared had to smile.
“There, done!” Ruth announced.
In the smoke tendrils, Jared could see the wing’s skeletal structure. Not one feather remained. Without them, Jensen wouldn’t be able to fly.
“Don’t worry,” Jensen said. “They’ll grow back as soon as I’m out of this shit hole.”
Ruth looked at them. “Well then, a deal’s a deal. You get to go home, angel boy.”
Jared looked at Jensen who was smiling sadly at him. “You’re not like any demon I ever met,” he said, “I—”
A cloud of black smoke tore through the room and when it was gone, so was Jensen.
“Hey,” Jared yelled at Ruth. Jensen’s sudden departure made his mind swim. He hadn't been prepared.
“Oh, did you really think I wanted to listen to your pathetic goodbyes? No thanks!” She sneered. “This is not one of your little love stories you like to read.”
“We had a deal!” Jared bit out, trying to breathe through the pain in his body. Gone, Jensen was gone.
“And I honored it,” Ruth said. “Jensen is back on earth. He’ll crawl his way back to Heaven in no time.”
“That’s not what I meant.” Jared had to force out the words past the lump in his throat. “Jensen and I had a deal. A blood oath. For my help, he was to give me power.”
“You pathetic little demon,” the Green Witch said. “He already did.”
Ruth laughed. The Green Witch followed suit.
Jared stared at them, uncomprehending. Jensen hadn’t given him anything.
The White Witch walked over to him and took his face into her cold fine-boned fingers. “Love, you fool. An angel grants a demon the power to love. And you fell in love with him.”
In horror, Jared shook his head against her hands. “No, that’s impossible. Love isn’t a power. It’s just this terrible, agonizing… feeling!”
The White Witch looked at him with something akin to pity. “Why do you think no demon has attempted to steal an angel in so long?”
Time, in Hell, was impossible to pin down. But Jared had found a divider. A turning point. Before Jensen and After Jensen. And yes, he saw the irony in it, thank you very much.
He ran the witches’ errands, rooted around every dark and burning corner of the library. Whenever he lingered or picked up a manuscript of his own, his neck burned, like he was wearing an invisible brand or hot choker. So he didn’t stay, didn’t read. He ran his errands.
He didn’t go back to the Seventh Circle. No one came looking for him. Administration, it seemed, didn’t interfere with the witches about something so trivial as a low level torture demon.
He didn’t see Chad again. He wouldn’t have thought it possible, but sometimes he thought of the other demon, missed their abrasive banter and Chad’s tales of extravagant sexual exploits.
Most of all, he missed Jensen. It was a constant ache, deep in his bones that never left. Sometimes, he wanted to cry. Then he wanted to scream with the pain. Once, he threw a shelf in the library down the stairs, tore at the books with his teeth and took a long piece of charred woods to the windows. It didn’t make any difference. It kept hurting.
Jared cursed the day he’d gone into the library. Cursed the day he learned to read. If he wasn’t bound to Ruth, he had half a mind to hunt down Peter and torture him all over again. This time, he had a feeling, he’d enjoy it. And he wouldn’t just be satisfied with whipping him or electrocuting him, oh no. He’d find out who the mystery woman was he’d loved so much and with her memory, he’d tear Peter apart until he hurt as much as Jared did.
Instead, he ran errands. The pain stayed with him. Instead of fading, it seemed to lodge deeper and deeper inside of him. Jared couldn’t remember how it felt not to long like that, not to miss, not to hurt.
It affected everything else. Hell’s air felt more acrid. The lighting was more sombre and Jared actually flinched at the particularly gruesome screams of the souls. Everything seemed a thousand times worse than before, like his love for Jensen acted as a magnifying glass.
On one of Jared’s trips to the library, something was different. The air felt lighter, brighter. Jared brushed it off, continued looking for the scrolls Ruth wanted, when he was startled by a female voice behind him.
“Nice. Now I understand what he sees in you.”
Jared whirled around. In the ash-filled room stood a woman. She was insanely beautiful. And startlingly familiar. The glowing red hair, the graceful poise of her head… it was the angel that had been with Jensen when he’d abducted him from Heaven.
What the fuck?
“Who are you?”
“The name is Danneel,” she said, “you could say I’m a friend of Jensen’s.”
“I wasn't aware angels had friends.”
She shrugged. “Jensen is different. So am I.”
“I don’t understand.” His throat started to burn, but he ignored it.
“I’m an architect.”
“An architect?” Jared asked, puzzled
“Who do you think built the world, Jared? God?” Danneel shook her head exasperatedly. “He gave the orders, but we carried them out. I am the first builder of Heaven.”
Jared had no idea.
“I’ve been around for a long time,” she said. “One of the oldest angels. Jensen and I, we met when he admired my finest creation.”
It took Jared only a moment to make the connection. “You built the library?” he asked.
“The whole city,” she said with a smile and raised her hands. “All this, I built.” She turned on her own axis, a beatific smile on her face. “I’m happy Jensen is not the only one appreciating it.”
“How is he?” The words just blurted out of Jared. He had to know. “And why are you here?”
Danneel pulled a grimace. “He’s not well. He’s in jail.”
“What?” The pain around Jared’s throat was nothing compared to the thought of Jensen rotting away in a jail cell.
She nodded. “They locked him up when he got back.”
Danneel approached him until she stood right in front of him. Then she pressed a hand to Jared’s chest. “Because he broke the rules. Jensen always was difficult, strong-willed for an angel. Happens occasionally, there’s a bad egg in every batch you know?” She winked conspiratorially. “They thought pulling him back from earth and banning him to the archives would help but he wandered into my city. And then what he did, down here with you…”
“Because he made me fall in love?” Jared scoffed. “Why would the other angels care about that?”
Danneel cocked her head and looked at her hand, still resting over his heart.
“You don’t know,” she said, wondrously. “But then, it seems rather new. Not yet finished even.”
Jared flinched back. “What are you talking about?”
“No time to explain,” she said, “my powers are weak in Hell, the portal won’t stay open long.”
It was only then that Jared noticed the shimmering doorway behind her.
“But you know how to get into Heaven, don't you?”
“Only to the record halls, where I was the last time,” Jared said
“Do you remember where you hid from us? Under the balcony?” Danneel asked intently.
“If you go there now, there will be a door. It will lead directly to the prison.”
“I’m an architect, Jared,” she said with a smile. “I built it.”
“You want me to go free Jensen from Heavenly jail,” Jared said, “and then what? Will you help us get out?”
“Jensen will know where to go,” Danneel said and looked back over her shoulder where the door was fading. She pulled a collection of old manuscripts from her dress and gave them to Jared. “If you need a bargaining chip, this should do quite nicely. She’ll want them back.”
“What—” Jared started to ask but Danneel was already hurrying back to the portal.
When she reached it, she turned around. “Trust me, Jared, it will all work out.”
With that she stepped into the doorway, which vanished as soon as she was through. Jared was left standing in the burning library, alone, clutching a bunch of faded parchment with no idea what the fuck was going on.
Jensen was in jail. Jared should save him. But Jared was stuck in Hell under a blood spell to the witches. Fuck.
Now that Danneel was gone and the tension receded, the pain around Jared’s neck came back full force. Quickly, Jared gathered up the scrolls, hid the parchments Danneel had given him in his shirt and hurried back towards Witch Tower. The pain was only completely gone when he reached the tower.
The only one in the study was the White Witch. She scrutinized Jared, then sniffed.
“And pray tell, who did you meet today?”
She smiled benevolently. “I can smell angel feathers. But you don’t seem happy, so it couldn’t have been your angel love.” She tapped her long fingers against her chin. “Still, an angel in Hell. That’s a strange thing to happen.”
Jared shrugged. “Wouldn’t be the first time, now would it?”
The White Witch laughed. “I like that you didn’t lose your spunk completely when your angel left. It’s natural to grieve, but at some point, you have to pick up the pieces. Go your own way.”
“You sound like you know a lot about that,” Jared said.
She smiled at him. “I know a kindred soul when I see one.”
“Soul?” Jared asked with his brows arched. Witches didn’t have their souls anymore. Unlike angels or demons, witches did have a soul, but sold them to Hell in exchange for their powers.
She waved a hand. “Figure of speech. Then again...” she trailed off and looked at his chest. “Tell me, Jared, was it worth it?”
“Worth what?” he asked suspiciously.
“Falling in love,” the White Witch explained. “All the pain and misery. The penance of eternal slavery just for meeting and falling in love with an angel who’ll never love you back the way you love him and then abandoned you.”
Each word cut deeper than any knife could, but they were all true. He wanted to say that he wished it had never happened, that nothing was worth this pain he was feeling, but then he remembered Jensen, remembered him yelling insults and kissing Jared breathless.
“Yeah, it was worth it.”
“And if you had the choice, would you do it again? If you could go back to yourself the day you discovered the way to Heaven, would you tell yourself not to do it?”
No pain — but no knowledge of Jensen.
“He left you,” the White Witch said, her voice hard. “He knew you loved him and he still wanted to leave, be apart from you. You gave up everything for him.”
Jared looked up, surprised at the venom in her voice. “Whoa. Who made you hate love so much?”
She looked out the window, towards the pits of Hell as if she hoped to spot him there. “Would you do it again, Jared? Would you go through all this again, just to be with him?”
Jared remembered how he felt when he’d kissed Jensen, how in that one singular moment, he’d felt more joy and hope than he knew to be possible.
“Yeah. Morning Star help me, but I would.”
The White Witch turned around. “So would I,” she said softly.
That was unexpected.
“See, through my trials I became an incredibly powerful being and now can watch him burn in Hell whenever I want.” She smiled serenely. “All the knowledge I ever wanted, all the power to shape my life like I want to live it, without having to hide beside him .”
Jared was confused, “So you don’t love him anymore?”
She shook her head. “You still have a lot to learn about love. If it’s strong enough, if it runs so deep through you that it’s part of your soul, it always remains a part of you. Now I get my revenge. What is it that you want?”
“I want him back.” The words burst out of Jared, “I want to free him. He’s in jail and he shouldn't be and I want to save him, I want—” He broke off.
She regarded him coolly. “He abandoned you.”
In his darkest moments, that’s what Jared thought too. But there was this spark of hope, the most evil of all emotions. It whispered to him, about how Jensen had been in danger and had to leave Hell, how it all went so fast, how Jensen had kissed him back. If there was a sliver of a chance, Jensen might feel something for Jared…
“I need to save him,” he said stubbornly.
The White Witch was quiet for what felt like an eternity. “There was something about him,” she mused finally. “A mirror of what I see in you.”
“What?” Jared was getting really fed up with all this half-muttered mystery stuff.
She turned back to Jared. “Nothing in life is free, Jared. For everything you have to pay a price.”
Danneel’s manuscripts were a heavy weight under his shirt. A bargaining chip . Jared didn’t know how she could have known, but he had to try.
“I have something that might interest you,” he said. He’d only glanced at the manuscripts quickly on the way back to the tower. It seemed like a collection of letters between a man and a woman, talking of love and longing. It was a fucking long shot, but Jared would take it.
The White Witch seemed vaguely amused by that. “And what is that?”
The White Witch froze. “That’s impossible.”
Jared grinned. “You smelled angel on me. The name Danneel ring a bell?”
Startled, the White Witch laughed. Then she shook her head. “And in exchange for my letters you want your freedom?”
Jared nodded, his throat tight. This was it. He hadn’t thought he’d ever get a chance at freedom, to see Jensen again and it was within reach.
“Well,” the White Witch said, “considering that you might actually have found one of the good ones, your life could go differently than mine.”
She approached him, her long white dress rustling on the stone floor. She touched a hand to his chest and smiled. “I release you.”
Something poured out of Jared, and for a moment he couldn’t breathe. He crumpled to the ground, like a puppet cut from it’s strings. Then it was over and he felt like a weight had lifted from him. He almost missed the White Witch stretching out a hand and with the flick of her fingers, summoning the letters to her hand.
“There are powerful emotions drenched into these pages,” she said, carefully holding the manuscripts. “They’ll serve me well.”
“You want the letters for power?” Jared asked skeptically.
The White Witch shot him a dark look. “Do you think me sentimental, Jared?”
“No, no of course not,” Jared hurried to say, even though he had a feeling that was exactly what was going on here. She was still an all powerful witch though, so he’d do well not to anger her.
She looked down at the letters again, tracing the lines of ink with one bony finger. “Isn’t it a curious coincidence, that the man who helped me become the woman I am today, also helped you gain the skills to become the demon you are now?”
Jared’s thoughts flittered around his brain until they settled on the arrogant man who’d been his teacher. “You’re Heloise,” he said and stared at her in wonder.
Her expression turned soft, almost wistful. “I haven’t heard that name in a long time. They used to sing it, you know, in every street, when he still loved me.”
“I think he still does,” Jared said. Maybe this would make her happy, to know he’d loved her too. It certainly would make Jared happy to know if Jensen loved him. “He inquired after you. But he thought you’d be in Heaven.”
She let out an ugly laugh. “That man. Always too twisted up in himself to understand others. But it doesn’t matter now. What matters is that you are free to go. And I don’t want to see you down here again.”
Jared shrugged. “I’m a demon. Where would I go?”
The White Witch looked at his chest. “You’d be surprised, Jared, where life can lead you.” Then she disappeared.
Jared looked around, but he wasn’t in the Witch Tower anymore. He was, once again, standing in the burning city’s library. He was holding his staff in his hands.
Seriously, what the fuck?
But there was no time to waste. Jensen was in jail. Chad. Jared needed Chad.
He found Chad elbow deep in Sophia. It was not a pretty sight.
“Dude, I hate to ask this right now, but we need break into Heaven again.”
Chad gaped, then glared and then disentangled himself from Sophia.
“So you really did go to Heaven?” she said and sounded impressed.
“Well yeah!” Chad exclaimed indignantly. Lying was a time honored demonic wooing tactic. “And I can go back anytime. So….. how about I quickly run off with Jared and help him get to Heaven, poor guy would be lost without me and when I get back, you let me crawl all the way inside?” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
Jared tried not to gag.
Sophia seemed to ponder this, stroking her belly with the tip of a claw. “Fine. Maybe some of that heavenly air will even give me more power.”
Chad nodded enthusiastically. “I bet it will! Just look at me!” And he puffed up his chest.
Before his blustering could get worse, Jared dragged him off.
“Dude,” Chad said when they reached the library. “Where were you? And nice timing with Sophia, she’d never have said yes without you helping me out there.”
Chad was, as always, completely insane. Jared was so glad to see him, he hugged him.
Chad froze. “Dude. What is wrong with you?”
Jared squeezed him tighter. “I missed you, asshole!”
Awkwardly, Chad patted him on the back. “Is this your way of telling me you finally wanna fuck around with me? Because I gotta tell you, this is hella strange and I might be a kinky son of a bitch, but not even I’m into cuddling.”
With a snort Jared let go. “No sex. I’m just happy.”
Chad’s eyes widened and he took a step back.
Jared raised his hands. “I’m still me, fuckface. I just… things happened.”
Chad squinted. “Do I want to know?”
“There’s no nudity involved,” Jared said.
“Skip it, then. Why do you want to get back into Heaven?”
Jared took a deep breath. “I need to save Jensen from jail.”
“Okay, you know what, I think you should tell me.” Chad sat down on a broken bookshelf and looked at him expectantly.
Jared sighed. Then he told him. All of it.
When he was done, Chad gaped at him like a fish on dry land. When he finally spoke, he settled on, “dude, that’s fucked up.”
Jared just nodded.
“So what,” Chad asked, “now you go back to Heaven so you can finally fuck the angel?”
“This is what you take away from my story?” Jared asked. “Seriously?”
Chad shrugged and made a what-did-you-expect face. And well, he was right.
“So,” Jared prompted, “will you help me, again?”
Chad considered, then grinned slyly. “What do I get out of it?”
“You get to crawl inside Sophia?”
“She’ll let me do that anyway, now that she thinks I really go to Heaven,” Chad said with a dirty smirk.
Jared pointed his staff at Chad. “How about you get to walk away. I blasted ancient mountain demons and killer vines with this staff.”
Not alone, of course, but lying was also a time honored demonic scare tactic.
“Dude, mean!” Chad yelled. Then he nodded. “Respect.”
Jared rolled his eyes, but he still watched Chad like a hawk when they repeated the process of stealing ingredients and mixing the paste for the door.
“You know,” Chad said, when they were done, “there’s something different about you.”
“How do you mean?”
Chad shrugged again. “No idea. It’s just, I don’t know, you’re... brighter maybe?” He leaned forward and sniffed. “And you smell different. You’re more… pungent.”
Jared whacked Chad over the head with his stick. “Fuck you,” he said, and almost broke out in tears. Sometimes it snuck up on him and hit him hard. He blinked furiously. “Let’s get on with it.”
Chad grumbled, but finished painting the door.
“Hey, does Jensen have any hot angel buddies?” Chad yelled when Jared had spoken the incantation.
The door opened with a whooshing wind. Jared looked back over his shoulders. “He does,” he said with a grin, then he jumped. Behind him, he heard Chad curse. It was almost like a love declaration. Jared laughed and fell.
It felt just as nauseating as the first time, but when he slowed down and reached the green glowing part of the tunnel and flew with the bumblebees — nope, just as annoying as the first time. Jared batted at the little insects. It was kind of a relief that falling in love hadn’t turned him into a complete mush-ball.
At least, this time he knew to keep his mouth shut to avoid any unwanted protein intake.
Finally, he fell out of the tunnel, into the same backyard he’d fallen into last time. And when he turned, there was a small wooden door in the alcove he’d hid in the last time. Jared sprinted over, opened it and stepped through.
He came out in a sterile looking corridor. The walls, ceiling and floor all were painted eggshell white. It was disgusting.
The corridor was lined with doors, each one outfitted with a small barred window. Jared started checking them. Somewhere, behind one of these doors, he knew he’d find Jensen.
So far, he had avoided thinking about how Jensen would react, but now he was alone. No Chad to distract him anymore and Jared couldn't push the thoughts off any longer.
He was pretty sure Jensen would be grateful to be rescued, but there probably wouldn’t be more. No reunion kiss, no grand declaration of love. Jensen would probably cuss him out, then say a reluctant thank you and then they'd go their separate ways. Jared had to squash the flicker of hope in his chest, because if he’d allow it, the rejection would probably destroy him.
At least Jensen would be safe. Jared clung to that thought, because he couldn’t bear to think about getting rejected once more. So he checked cell after cell but in none of them did he see Jensen. As he got closer to the end of the corridor, he heard muted noises.
Voices, yelling. One of them was the deep carrying baritone Jared knew all too well. He crept off in that direction.
After another bend in the corridor, he came to a room that was closed. Jared carefully inserted the tip of his staff into the lock and it melted away. Carefully, he slithered into the room.
“... the fuck do you care anyway?” That was Jensen’s voice.
“I care,” a cultivated voice said, “because angels can’t just run around, developing souls .”
Jared froze. What the fuck was going on here?
“I didn’t develop anything,” Jensen bit out. “I was abducted and then I fought my way back when you left me in Hell to rot.”
“And that,” the other angel said, “is a lie. And we can’t have that. So now, you’ll tell me the truth.”
There was silence, then Jensen made a noise of suppressed pain.
“It’ll work quickly,” the interrogator said. “Don’t try to fight it. Your mouth will speak nothing but the truth. Now, were you really abducted, Jensen? Or did you maybe just want to leave?”
“No,” Jensen said scathingly. “I was just minding my own business, when this demon came out of nowhere, threw a sulfur bomb at me, and when I came to again, I was in Hell with Jared.”
“Who’s Jared?” the interrogator cut in.
A moment of silence in which Jared held his breath, then Jensen reluctantly ground out, “the demon who abducted me.”
The fucker had dosed Jensen with some kind of truth serum. Well, this could either go very well or incredibly bad. Jared prepared for the latter.
“And you were on first name basis?” the interrogator asked. “How curious. Did you maybe make a deal with him, to abduct you?”
“No. We made a deal, but that was later, in Hell, so we’d survive and I could get out of there.”
“Why would he do that?”
“Because he wanted power. The idiot,” Jensen said and somehow the word had much less bite than when it had been hurled at Jared, “thought he would get power. He didn’t know that the only thing an angel would give a demon was the power to feel.”
“Ah yes,” the interrogator mused. “Stupid demons.”
“Jared’s not stupid,” Jensen snapped and Jared couldn’t stop himself from peeking around the corner of the desk he hid behind. Had Jensen really just said that?
He looked incredibly pissed that he had. And even if Jensen was dressed in an ugly brown colored tunic and bound to a chair, he was still so beautiful for a moment it took Jared’s breath away.
The interrogator was dressed in a gray so dark it was almost black but he sat with his back to Jared so Jared only saw his tidy gray hair.
The interrogator put his elbows on the table and tapped his fingers against each other. “Tell me more about this Jared demon. How powerful is he?”
“He’s just a torture grunt,” Jensen said, eyes scrunched up, clearly trying to hold back. Another moment passed, then his features relaxed and his eyes turned kind of glassy. “That’s what he’d tell you. And maybe that’s what he was bred for, but he’s much more. He’s intelligent and smart and he reads and he’s not cruel. He hates his job and he just wants more, he wants a life and he did something about that, he’s resourceful , you know, he thinks for himself, he’s not just a worker drone. He’s the most fascinating creature I ever met.”
“And you love him,” the interrogator said dryly.
Jensen’s answer came without any hesitation. “Yes.”
Jared thought he’d die. He thought his head would fall off, it was spinning so much.
“And that’s the problem,” the interrogator said.
Problem? Jared thought hysterically. This wasn’t a problem, this was a miracle!
“You love. You care. You left him behind for duty, you made the sacrifice. You gave him up to go back to Heaven, even if you already despised it here. You could have gone to earth with him, could have tried to find a way to hide, and yet, you came back.” The interrogator sounded fascinated by this. “You held on to your celestial duty. You sacrificed what you could have had with Jared for coming back.”
“It was a mistake,” Jensen said. “I knew it then, but I didn’t want to accept it. I was so stupid.”
“Stupid indeed,” the interrogator said, “because it took.”
“What do you mean, it took?”
The interrogator stood and slid a longer silver sword from his belt. On autopilot, Jared stood and approached. No one was killing Jensen.
“All these feelings, all the love, it festered inside of you while you were in Hell. And when you made the sacrifice to leave him behind, it ripped open the ground, so the feelings could take root. And then they grew into that soul shining so brightly in your chest now.”
Jared stopped. Jensen had a soul now? Wait, was that what everyone had been talking about, the White Witch and Danneel. Even Chad had noticed a difference. Did Jared have—
“Just like that filthy demon who you gave the ability to love. He let you go, made the same stupid sacrifice you did and now, there’s a monster with a soul crawling around Hell.”
“Wrong,” Jared said and raised his staff. The interrogator spun around, right into the blade-end of Jared's staff. “I’m right here, you damned cloudfucker.”
The interrogator sputtered, blood dripping from his lips, then slid to the ground. Behind him, Jensen sat, still tied to the table and stared at Jared like he was the second coming of Jesus. It was an awesome feeling.
“How are you here?” Jensen asked.
“Danneel helped,” Jared said while he jumped over to Jensen and destroyed the chains with his staff.
“I can’t believe you’re here. I can’t believe you came for me,” Jensen said, words bubbling out of him. “I missed you, every day, I regretted leaving you behind, so much.”
Jared smirked. “I have a feeling you’ll be so pissed when this truth serum wears off.”
Jensen nodded. “I totally will, I’ll probably be so embarrassed. But right now, even with your evil smirk, I just want to kiss you.”
So Jared did. When their lips touched, he finally understood what coming home meant. He felt whole and safe and loved. For one perfect moment, there was nothing bad in the entire world, just Jensen, alive and warm against him, kissing him like there was no tomorrow. Which there wouldn’t be if they got caught.
“Jensen, we need to go,” Jared mumbled into Jensen’s mouth but couldn’t resist grabbing his ass.
Jensen moaned into his mouth and gripped Jared’s hair. “Yeah. The guards will be here any moment.”
They crashed into the chair and on his quest to get closer, Jared pushed Jensen up on the table and pressed in between his legs.
“Jared, we have to go,” Jensen said and pulled him closer.
“Yeah,” Jared agreed and managed to rip his mouth away from Jensen, only to be entranced by the freckles trailing a line down his neck, so he had to lean in to kiss them.
Jensen threw his head back. “You’re a bad demon. A bad influence.”
“Oh no,” Jared said and bit into Jensen’s neck. “You don’t get to pretend to be all high and mighty anymore. You rebel.”
Jensen laughed breathlessly. In the distance, there were shouts and running footsteps.
“Okay, we really need to go now,” Jensen said and half-heartedly pushed Jared away. Jared stole one more kiss, then he pulled back.
“Yeah. I just have no idea where to go.”
Jensen rolled his eyes. “Of course you don’t. You and your half-cocked plans.”
“Hey!” Jared protested, but Jensen was grinning and so was Jared.
Even though they were running for their lives from a mob of angry angels, crashing through walls and stumbling through Heaven only a hair’s breadths away from certain death, Jared didn’t mind. He had no idea where they were going, how they were going to get out of this whole mess and where an angel and a demon could find peace together, but it didn’t matter. He’d found Jensen and once again, they were on the run together. Jensen was cussing worse than Chad and firing lightning bolts at the angels in pursuit. If Jared didn’t fear for his life he’d be so turned on right now. Oh, who was he kidding.
Jared wielded his staff, sending hellfire through Heaven’s corridors. It was fucking perfect.