So, the superhero thing? The whole having cool powers, defeating villains left and right, holding back all the chicks and dudes who wanna jump into his pants schtick? Well. It’s not as great as it’s chalked out to be, really. Most of the times, it’s just a pain in the ass.
Allow Jensen to demonstrate.
Exhibit A: the monkey suit
Not that Jensen feels any urge to go to work in spandex, thanks, but the douched up MiB suit the whole department’s got to wear is. Uh. Danneel calls it ‘dapper’; Jensen calls it a hybrid between an eyesore and who-the-fuck-thought-this-was-a-good-idea. He’s got an array of striped shirts - like thick, obnoxious stripes, forget the elegant thin ones - yellow-vomit ties, and suspenders. Jesus H. Christ. Suspenders. The first time Mike saw Jensen in his polka dots pair he almost busted a rib laughing, and he didn’t follow through Jensen’s suggestion of ‘please, go put your head in the toilet’ only because Welling stopped him in time.
Don’t get him wrong, Jensen understands Welling’s intentions with the formal wear thing - he does. The public eye is focused on them 24/7, half of the higher ups still think superheroes are nothing but a scam, and the other half is treating them as bombs about to go off. In theory, having people looking professional and shit all the time is a good idea. Too bad that Welling’s tastes in clothes suck ass.
Besides, when Danneel tunes in and tells Jensen he’s gotta interrogate a perp on situ, and said perp has been contained with that fluid Chad shoots from his fingers? Jensen would rather wear a Hazmat suit than dress pants. Chad claims it’s just enhanced spiderweb, dickface, but enhanced or not, the stuff still looks like jizz, smells like wet dog, and it’s a bitch to clean. And having bits of spiderjizz stuck on his jacket doesn’t really scream ‘professional’ to the world.
Long story short, fuck formal wear.
Anyway. Moving on.
Exhibit B: the reports
Oh boy, the reports. They suck less than the spiderjizz or the coffee Chris insists on making, but they still suck plenty.
For every suggestion Jensen makes, every mental nudge, every ‘you don’t really want to do that’ said to a perp, a suspect, or to Mike-in-his-cat-form when he’s about to piss again on Jensen’s desk, there’s a longass report to fill.
What kind of suggestion did you make?
Why did you suggest _______?
You suggested _______ only after having exhausted every regular form of persuasion?
And blah blah forever blah in a three-way copy. Because stopping dangerous people (and Mike from leaving cat hair all over the place) needs a lot of paper, apparently.
Exhibit C: Jensen’s secretary-slash-partner
Okay, well. Jared is annoying, but not as annoying as Jensen pretends he is. He’s more like a, uh, a—
You know what? This exhibit should be split in two. Listen up.
Exhibit C, subsection A: Pros
First of all, man oh man, but is Jared easy on the eye. Very easy. So easy he’s bordering on hot damn, kid and Jensen wouldn’t mind tapping that ass a time or twenty. Being tapped. Whatever, that’s not the point.
The point is that there’s a good chance of mutual tapping in the future, ‘cause Jensen sometimes lacks in subtlety and Jared might have caught him staring, but rather than braining him with the Coulsman folder, Jared just grinned and kinda, ah, thrust his hips forward? Like, talk about blatant come-ons. And under his own volition too, as Jensen’s persuasion powers do exactly jack on Jared - Jensen can’t even talk the kid into bringing him decent coffee from the coffee shop, forget coercing Jared into sexual acts.
So, possible office action goes straight in the Cons section. (Up yours and your no fraternization rule, Welling. Ha.)
Then, Jared’s efficient to a fault. Always on time, always fixing Jensen’s agenda and finishing the paperwork Jensen leaves half done, always trailing behind him and rattling off the daily duties. He’s like, a dream secretary. A hot dream secretary. Assigned to him. Double ha.
But, and that’s a big but, along with all that fuckyeah comes Exhibit C, subsection B: Cons
Remember the aforementioned daily duties Jared handles on paper? Well, they involve Jared too. It doesn’t matter if Jared’s a Junior Hero with zero field experience, because you’re a team now and you’re supposed to work together, Ackles. You gotta teach him stuff, not ditch him whenever you feel like it.
Welling’s last rant got way longer than that, but Jensen tuned him out soon afterward. No forgetting Jared around, no trying to solve cases by himself anymore, no dropping reports on him and running off. Got it, boss. Jensen has a couple of doubts about how useful Jared’s power could really be, but if Welling wants them to be partners, all right then. Jensen is not the one in command there, and he has a mortgage to pay. Call him a cynical asshole, but the fact that Jared’s only able to make plants bloom rather than be Poison Ivy’s nice counterpart kinda pales in comparison of Jensen’s bills.
And hey, maybe they’ll stumble into a villain with severe pollen allergy. Who knows.
Chad should have been Jensen’s first warning, really. Jensen tends to underestimate him, mostly on principle, but Chad is always involved in catastrophes somehow, either as herald or as the actual catastrophe himself. Case in point, the stupid ‘Truth Guy’ Jensen, Jared, and Chad had to contain a couple of weeks ago; Truth Guy who’s totally safe and not a level two security, dude, you’ve got it wrong; Truth Guy who freaked out and sprayed them all with his Truth spores; Truth Guy who had them quarantined because they couldn’t lie anymore for three days. Truth Guy who was - and is - a level two.
Hindsight is 20/20 and a bitch though, so Jensen doesn’t think anything of Chad poking his head inside their office while he’s on a break and sing-songing, “Yo, dickface, I’ve heard you’re in for a treat! Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas to you!”
Jensen inclines his wrist a little, watching the coffee swirls inside his mug. “Get lost, Chad,” he says then, his tone low. “Maybe in the broom closet?”
“In the—” Chad blinks and licks his lips, but before a blank expression can set on his face, Jared shows up.
It takes Jared a single glance to assess the situation, kick Chad in the shin to un-whammy him and glare at Jensen. Hot and smart, see?
“Stop messing with Chad’s head, Jen,” he says, elbowing Chad out of the way before picking up his tablet and starting to tap on it. “Besides, he’s right.”
“Right? Right how?”
“Welling assigned us a just-before-Christmas mission.”
There’s more tapping, more sliding of fingers on the tablet screen, but no other explanation forthcoming. Which is weird; Jared is big on briefings, even more so after the Truth Guy fiasco. An icy feeling begins to worm its way in Jensen’s guts.
“Care to elaborate?” he asks, and he’s glad that the mug is still in his hand. It gives him something to clutch at without being too obvious. “Doctor Slime? Swamp Man? Shit-throwing monkeys with a real good aim?”
Jared stops doing whatever he’s doing with the tablet and stares at Jensen. “Rookies. Newbies. A bunch of people with powers and no idea of how to use them.” He shrugs. “We’ve got to show them around, debrief them a bit, and then drop them off to their preassigned mentor. It’s standard post-recruiting stuff, you know.”
It is. It’s also Welling’s way to punish them for Truth Guy, since everybody hates that task with a passion. Last time, Danneel did the honors only after Welling promised her a weekend off, paid leave and all. The time before that, Chris and Steve negotiated their spots to the annual Superheroes National Conference in Miami. He and Jared can, uh, maybe get a gift card at the cafeteria downstairs out of it. If they’re lucky.
“Wow.” Jensen rubs at his face, sighs. “I would have preferred the monkeys.”
The noise Jared makes is sympathetic.
“And where are the rookies anyway?”
“In the meeting room downstairs. They’re waiting for us in five,” Jared says, then he reaches out to Hildr. The succulent plant that lives on his desk and is named after a Valkyrie or something turns all its leaves to Jared’s fingers and starts petting them.
It’s a little creepy, if you ask Jensen. Less than a bunch of rookies with no clue about superpowers, but still creepy.
One day. Jensen has to put up with the rookies for one day, then he can drop ‘em and forget about their existence.
One day, twenty-four hours minus sleep time, and with Jared at his side. He can do it, no sweat. He can breeze through the talking and the testing and the showing around, easy as you please, and if he plays his cards well, maybe he could even ask Jared out after they’re done. A celebratory dinner, with celebratory food and drinks and hopefully, even a celebratory fuck to end the evening. It trumps weekends off and all the bikini girls Chris scored in Miami. Take that, Kane.
When Jensen turns to share some of his newfound confidence with Jared, he realizes that the whole room has gone silent. Everybody is staring at him. Danneel and Chad look amused, the rookies look expectant, Welling looks like he’s about to pop a vein, and Jared… well. It seems like Jared already got his formal introduction from Welling while Jensen was daydreaming about sex (and probably broadcasting it to every telepath in a ten foot radius). Awkward.
“Mr. Ackles is our resident persuader,” Welling says, a slight edge in his voice. “He’s got a very valuable talent, and together with Mr. Padalecki, he will show you what we do here, how we do it, and help you get situated. They will give you a demonstration of their powers along the way too, of course.”
“‘Course,” Jensen echoes him. “Can’t wait.”
The rookies acknowledge that with a nod or a smile, Welling moves on to Danneel (‘Telekinesis with a knack for hacking servers’), and Jensen can slump in his chair again. It’s going to take Welling at least five minutes more to be done, so he might as well try to figure out the rookies.
There’s three of them: a cute blonde with pen and notebook - Alina, Alona, or something like that; a smoking hot redhead - with a similar name, what a joy; a middle-aged man. He’s smoking hot too, in that ‘you can call me daddy’ way, but… well, Daddy kinda sticks out. As far as Jensen knows, people develop their powers at a young age. Having a fifty-something rookie is not common.
Powers-wise, there’s nothing obvious in any of them. Jensen hopes like hell that they’ve already been classified during the first screening they went through. Having a ‘power: undefined’ roaming around the department is a recipe for disaster.
After a round of handshakes (minus Chad, who never shakes hands with anyone), Welling kicks everybody out. It’s around eleven, a perfect time to start thinking about lunch.
“Lunch?” Jared’s eyebrow goes up when Jensen tells him about it. “It’s a bit early, Jen,” he says, and then he smiles, flash-quick and amused. “Fess up, you just wanna feed them until they burst and nap the afternoon away.”
“Now that’s a good idea, but it was only to get to know them better first. You know.” Jensen shrugs. “We’ve got nothing on them other than Welling’s platitudes and a couple of ‘this is the power each of them manifested more often until now’. Even if we’re not mentors, we’re still supposed to give Gen and Katie something solid to work with.”
“And here I thought you weren’t paying attention before.”
Jensen grins and says, “Shut up, I so did,” injecting a tiny bit of persuasion in his voice. It’s a waste of power, but it always puts a twinkle in Jared’s eyes. It’s a nice thing to see. The affection-slash-exasperation that colors Jared’s voice next is even nicer.
“Jesus, you’re an idiot.”
Before Jensen could amp up the flirting, Jared turns toward the end of the hallway, where the rookies are waiting. The two women are standing next to the vending machines, obviously trying to figure out the place, while Daddy (whose real name is Jeffrey Dean, and holy pretentiousness, Batman) has somehow roped Danneel into a conversation. Jensen can’t hear what they’re talking about, but Danneel seems invested in it. Her pen is balanced on her clipboard, and it doesn’t roll back and forth like it does when she’s bored.
“You think Jeff’s trying to score?” Jensen asks.
“Looks like it. Let me tell you though, I’m impressed.” Jared’s smile comes back full-force, and he bumps shoulders with Jensen. “It’s the first time she doesn’t punch in the face somebody who tries to hit on her.”
“You’re so funny, Padalecki,” Jensen says, rubbing at his jaw without really meaning to. Dani does have one hell of a right hook.
Lunch is a weird affair. Yes, Alona (the blonde) and Alaina (the redhead) agree to it as soon as the word ‘food’ leaves Jensen’s lips, but it takes him a lot of very normal, very un-super persuasion to convince Jeff. The man is set on touring the building first, God knows why, and Jensen’s powers just seem to bounce off of him. In the end, Jeff has to relent, but.
Jeff’s personal file classifies him as empath with potentiality, Jared informs him while they wait for their meal, all hushed whispers and hot breath tickling over Jensen’s ear. Under normal circumstances, Jensen would say to hell with everything and suggest a handjob in the men’s restroom, but the fact that Jeff could possess some kind of defense against Jensen is distracting.
(Distracting. Like, work-related issues are distracting him from sex. His life is getting sadder by the minute, really)
To make the matter worse, it doesn’t look like a fluke either. Jensen tries to put persuasion touches here and there through the conversation, only to get rejected every. Single. Time. No, Jeff doesn’t like breadsticks, the wine tastes okay, and the weather is gonna improve within the next week. Welling’s speech was interesting and informative, not a bore. The sky is blue, maybe Jensen is colorblind? When Jensen, in a fit of desperation, makes a comment about the water not being wet, Jeff stares at him like Jensen’s the one with a problem, and even Alaina pushes her chair back a little, her eyes wide. She’s— she’s not under his influence either, it seems. Ditto Alona.
“What the fuck, Jen?” Jared whispers as soon as the awkward moment is gone and everyone is busy with the food again. “Are you—”
“No, you what the fuck,” Jensen says, blinking at the bouquet placed in the middle of the table. When they sat down, it was a tiny little thing, daisies and forget-me-not inside a vase. Right now, it looks like the bouquet of a bridezilla with delusions of grandeur.
“Sorry guys, we need a second,” Jared says, grabbing Jensen by the elbow and pushing him on his feet. Being manhandled by Jared is top jerk-off material, but the current situation? It’s a big fat cockblock, thanks.
Not even Alona’s ‘Aww, you’re cute’ comment helps. Of all the times someone could mistake them for a couple—
Well. Jensen must have angered a deity or something. The part of his brain that’s not busy freaking out about 1. his apparent loss of powers and 2. the destruction of his favorite Jared-related fantasies is bargaining already, promising good deeds, chastity, and not poking fun at Chad for at least a week. The rest of him is just stunned. He follows Jared on autopilot, letting Jared drag him across the whole restaurant.
Once they reach the restroom and Jared lets him go, Jensen leans against the wall and rubs a hand all over his face. “What’s going on? Nothing I say sticks while you become Boss Level Plant Whisperer in zero point five?”
“I don’t know.” Jared fishes out his phone and enters the department database, typing in passwords, PINs, and a dozen letter authentication code. “See?” he says, pulling up file after file. “Alona is telepathic, first stage and with limited range. She can pick random words or images, and that’s it. Alaina is a firestarter, unable to shield herself yet and her fires go out within eight minutes. Jeff—”
“It’s him. I know it’s him.”
“It can’t be him. He’s an empath, second stage who could get to four with proper training. Nothing more, nothing less.” Jared pockets his phone, shrugs. “No one of them is dangerous. They’re rookies with almost no grasp on their own powers, they can’t interfere with ours.”
Jared might as well be the voice of reason, but the potted fern on the windowsill that’s straining toward him begs to differ.
Jensen raps his knuckles on his own thigh. He’s out of his depths there. “If it’s not them, what is it? Truth Guy, maybe a lingering effect?”
“I told you, I don’t know.” There’s a pause, then Jared spits out, “You’re the experienced one, figure it out.”
It stings, no matter if Jared is parroting what Jensen said more than once. What he still thinks, not often anymore but sometimes, and yeah, Jared is just as freaked as he is, he gets it, but—
“Fuck you,” Jensen says.
What happens next is weird, for lack of a better word. First, Jared punches him in the eye. Like, a solid hit, no holding back. Then, he grabs Jensen by his jacket and kisses him. It’s hard and punishing, with too much teeth and tongue and contempt. To add insult to injury, it’s over a moment later, when Jared pushes him away, turns around, and leaves Jensen alone.
“Hey, nice shiner,” Jeff says.
“Brings out my eyes. Why don’t you shut up?”
Jeff grins, claps a hand on his shoulder, and starts talking with Alona.
During the afternoon, things get worse. Jensen doesn’t know how that’s possible, but they do. Nobody seems to listen to what Jensen says - forget persuasion, it’s like he’s starting to become invisible - and Jared has to step up and take charge. He does a pretty good job, Jensen has to give him that, but every ten minutes or so he has to stop talking to fight off plants.
Really, Jensen has never noticed how many ficus (and hydrangeas, and spider plants, and what have you) they have at the department until now.
Were he in a different headspace, he’d totally point out that Jared’s not dealing with redwoods after all, or make a crack about Plants vs Zombies. It’d lighten the mood and at least until that morning, it’d have made Jared smile. At five in the afternoon, though? The mere idea dials up the pain around his eye.
Dropping the rookies with Gen and Katie is a liberation. Avoiding Chad (who wants gossips) and Welling (who wants a debriefing) is so easy that it’s almost insulting.
Maybe Jensen’s getting invisible for real. Like, in a literal way.
Jensen’s checking himself in the rearview mirror of his car, his left leg dangling from the driver seat and his briefcase squashed under his ass, when he hears somebody cough. It’s a discreet cough, what polite guys do to attract attention, but it startles Jensen and he bumps his head against the roof.
“Ow, fuck,” he hisses.
It’s Jared, so— not invisible then. “Can you see me?” he still asks while he climbs out the car. Hello, paranoia, but he wants to make sure he didn’t somehow trade his old powers for new ones.
“Okay. Great. Thanks.” Jensen forces the corners of his mouth to go up, his fists to relax. “Good night.”
“Wait! I mean, please?”
Jensen sighs. Yeah, waiting and maybe getting an explanation for the punch with a side of kiss would be nice. An apology and some encouraging words too, if Jared really wanna splurge. The problem is that Jared looks like a puppy. A sad, wounded puppy Jensen spent the day kicking, and that’s so not fair. Jensen has a black eye. Jensen has a cut on his lower lip, where Jared bit him hard enough for the skin to split. Jensen has a long, lonely night in front of him and a resignation letter to compose. Jensen has dreams to burn, a virtual cape and mask to toss away.
By all means, Jensen should look like a kicked puppy, not Jared. Jared has no business making that face: his powers are expanding. Multiplying. Getting stronger. He’ll figure out a way to avoid getting strangled by the hydrangeas in the main hall, Welling will congratulate him, give him a raise, and promote him as Senior Agent.
…It’s also possible that Jensen is getting a bit over dramatic right now.
“I’m waiting,” he says in the end. “What is it?”
“I’m sorry.” Jared has both hands shoved into the pockets of his jacket, and his hair covers his eyes. His tone is sincere, though. “I shouldn’t have and I’m sorry. I was freaked - still am.”
“Well, join the club,” Jensen says, and that should be the end of it. The ‘You shouldn’t have punched me or kissed me?’ that follows slips off his mouth without his permission.
“The first. I’m not regretting the latter.” A beat passes, two, then Jared asks, “Do you?”
“Nope. But if swapping spit is the prelude of-” Jensen waves a hand between Jared and himself “—of something, all I’m saying is that I owe you one.”
Jared laughs. He still seems off, but his posture is relaxing. No more sad puppy, thank Christ. “Deal,” he says. “Collect whenever.”
“Now, you wanna get in? I was about to head home.” Jensen shrugs. “We could get drunk and forget this day ever existed. Oh, and the only plant I have is a fake one, you’re safe.”
That’s a far cry from the smooth seduction Jensen had in mind hours ago. It’s not even a proposition, just an offer to share the six-packs Jensen has in the fridge. It doesn’t seem to matter anyway, because Jared nods and climbs into the passenger seat.
Jared’s phone rings. It rings again and again, about three or four times before Jared decides to pick up. He’s tipsy and adorable when tipsy, but beer somehow fucks with his auditory system.
Jensen files the information away and goes to fetch more beer. When he gets back to the dining room, Jared looks stone cold sober. There’s a thin line on his forehead, the one Jared gets while he’s focused on something, and his eyes are dark.
“Are you sure?” Jared asks, his free hand already raised to silence Jensen. “Okay. Now hold on a moment, then repeat it.”
Whoever Jared is talking to must agree, because Jared puts his phone on speaker and walks up to Jensen. A moment later, Katie’s voice fills the room.
“—his file got mixed up with another. Jeff’s not an empath, but he can turn off people’s powers by touch. Or on. It depends. He had no idea, you know how much the first screening sucks, all hush-hush and need to know basis—”
“Yes, but it’s temporary, right?”
“Sure. It lasts a few hours, nothing more, but if you shake hands, the cycle starts over.” Katie pauses for a moment. In the distance, they can hear Gen talking to someone. “I’m sorry we didn’t catch it sooner, Jared, but Welling is shielded to the nth, and Danneel is not cleared for active duty yet. The docs forbade her to lift anything, you know.”
“And Chad doesn’t shake hands because of the spiderjizz,” Jensen concludes.
“Hey, Jensen! You were freaked? You so were!”
Jared rolls his eyes. “Bye, Katie. And thanks.”
She says something about all those damn plants cluttering the place before Jared disconnects the call, but Jensen’s not really paying attention. He’s not broken. He still has his power, his career, and he’s still a team leader. Shiner aside, his life is beautiful. He almost needs to hyperventilate a little.
“Holy shit,” he says. “Holy fucking shit, I thought—”
“Yeah, me too.”
Jared grins at Jensen, all white teeth and soft lips and dimples. Did Jensen ever mention the fact that Jared’s dimples have a weird connection to his dick? ‘Cause he gets a boner every time they show up. Like, uh, right now.
“Somebody’s real happy,” Jared says, reaching down and cupping Jensen through his pants. He gives him an experimental stroke, two, and Jensen growls.
Rather than wasting breath, Jensen cants his hips, thrusting right into Jared’s palm. Jared ducks to mouth at Jensen’s neck, slow and nice. Their bodies are close, almost touching but not quite.
“Bedroom?” Jared asks, but Jensen shakes his head.
“Couch. I’ll blow you, and then I’ll fuck you so hard everybody will look at you and just know.”
Dimples again, and yeah, the day sucked out loud, but the evening? It’s exactly like Jensen imagined it to be.