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The Man Behind the Curtain

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Art by bluefire986

The flash went off in his face again and Jensen held still, waiting until the photographer nodded before picking up his briefcase and heading for the door.

"Wait, Mr. Ackles," the photographer called out as he chased after Jensen. "That was only the first set. We need two more."

Jensen came to a stop, then turned to face the man. He was shorter than Jensen, still had that gleam in his eyes that said he was passionate about his job, loved photography, and it was his life.

"Rob, is it?" Jensen said, pointing at the man.

"Yes, sir," Rob said, nodding.

"I'm on my way to show a few houses to my client," he said, transferring the briefcase from his right to his left hand and fishing his keys out of his right pocket. "Now, I don't want to sound condescending, but my client is about to buy her fourth house from me in the last two years, and the budget she gave me can easily pay for your house roughly sixty times over. If I'm late, which I've never been, she'll make me beg for forgiveness on my hands and knees, and after I've sufficiently kissed her ass, she'll laugh in my face and dump me as her agent. You asked for thirty minutes. You got thirty...," he said, then looked down at the three thousand dollar chronograph on his left wrist, "two minutes. We're done."

Rob sighed as Jensen headed for the door again. "But they asked for five different sets with at least three poses each."

Jensen held the door open. "You look like you're good at Photoshop. Put me in front of the Millennium Falcon or something," he said, then walked through the door. He hesitated, then opened the door again, looking at Rob. "I want the green lightsaber. It'll match my eyes and give people the idea I work for the good guys," he said with a smile, then walked away, letting the door close behind him.

He had parked close to the door, and he chuckled when he saw that no one had parked near him. People tended to do that when seeing a car like his Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. It screamed money and the ability to crush anyone who dared breathe on it.

Jensen got into the car and immediately called Genevieve, letting her know he would be on time to the appointment and to let Ms. Harris know so she wouldn't throw a fit and fire him before he even got there.

"But there's no jacuzzi," Ms. Harris said, scowling as Jensen adjusted his tie.

Jensen smiled. "This is the part you're going to love," he said as he held out his hand, gently taking hers when she offered. He led her over a small man-made river feature in the back yard and down the path to an area that had beautiful trees surrounding it, a full set of patio furniture, a grill with all the amenities including a wine fridge and oven, and flowering bushes lining the whole thing.

"All at your fingertips," he said as he pulled the remote out of his pocket and pushed one of the buttons.

Ms. Harris smiled, her eyes almost sparkling as she watched the decking slide open to reveal the jacuzzi underneath.

"Seats twelve comfortably, and you can change the temperature, the jets, and the bubbles from this," he said as he handed her the small remote.

"Oh, you always know just what I want," she cooed as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. "I'll take it."

"It's all yours, ma'am," Jensen said as she let go of him and started back toward the house.

"Gen, I want you to give Jensen a ten thousand dollar bonus this time," she said to her assistant as she walked by. Genevieve winked at him before following her. "And don't ever let that awful man Folgers try to sell me a house. That idiot said I couldn't have a jacuzzi and a separate indoor pool in this neighborhood."

Jensen chuckled softly enough that Danneel wouldn't hear him. He knew she was talking about Kurt Fuller, even though she cared so little about the man that she didn't bother to learn his name. Fuller always tried to steal his clients, but Kurt would never be able to charm people the way Jensen could.

Kurt looked at the rich and famous like they were too good for everyone else. Like they were idols meant to be hidden away from work and anything stressful. He treated them like glass.

Jensen knew better. The rich and famous were still people. Actresses like Danneel worked hard for the money they made. Her last film had her neck deep in the Asmat Swamp of Indonesia. She had almost died of heat stroke on the fifth day of filming because she wouldn't take a break until she got the scene just right.

No, Jensen knew better. Treat them like real people, help them find a luxurious and private place to unwind after the stress of being in the public eye twenty-four hours a day, and they were happy. When they were happy, Jensen got bonuses and repeat customers.

Jensen called the owner's real estate agent and got the ball rolling before he even left the house, ensuring Danneel would get her house and he would get his fifty thousand-dollar retainer back, which had ensured no one else would see the house before Danneel did.

If Danneel had turned it down, he would have lost the money, but he knew Danneel, and he knew she'd take it. He was good at his job.

Jensen climbed back into his car after locking the house up and frowned when the bluetooth system said he had a new text message. He pushed the button on the display and pulled out onto the street.

"The guests will be arriving at eight o'clock," said the female voice from the navigational system. "Your suit is on the bed."

"Reply," Jensen said, waited for the beep, then said, "Thanks, Misha. I'll be home in about twenty minutes. Send."

The evening was a success. Of course it was. It always was. Jensen watched surreptitiously as Misha quietly moved about the patio, the kitchen, the living room, and the dining room, refilling glasses and conveniently passing by right when someone was done with their paper napkin.

Nobody else noticed him. Not because he was plain, but because Misha had a way about him that most people didn't take note of. In his button down shirt, vest, slacks, and shiny shoes, he didn't look the part of a wealthy party-goer. And that suited Misha just fine. He wanted to be the background noise, and Jensen loved watching him in his element.

He was more than a butler, and Misha had turned down more than a few offers to change employers. Jensen knew that his guests sometimes tried to steal him away, if they happened to take note of the hard-working man, but he wasn't worried.

Misha made his way to Jensen's side of the room, coming up behind him as if he was just tidying up. "Mr. Chau is looking for a place with a good security system and a location that allows for privacy while still staying close to his agent in Malibu," Misha said softly, then disappeared into the kitchen again.

"Osric!" Jensen said, shaking hands with the man who recently sold his second IT business and fifth best-selling FPS.

"Oh, hey, Mr. Ackles," Osric said, cheeks flushing.

Jensen flashed him a smile. "Call me Jensen," he said, finding the blush on the man's cheeks completely adorable. The poor kid was out of his element amongst all the others in the room who had either been born into money or who had lived with it for years. Osric still couldn't see himself as anything other than the geeky kid who liked to mess with computers in his mom's basement.

"Uhm, okay, J-Jensen," he said, trying it out on his tongue. "This is a great party."

It was obvious the kid was flirting, but he was too intimidated to make a big move. Jensen nodded. "Thanks. I'm glad you're having a good time."

"Oh yeah!" Osric side, eyes going wide as he held up his napkin. "These are the best... things I've ever eaten."

"Those are crab tartlets," Jensen said, keeping his voice low so as not to embarrass Osric and also getting closer so the kid felt special, like he was getting an inside secret.

"Oh, well they're amazing," Osric said, the tips of his ears turning pink.

"Yeah, I ate four of them before the tray even made its way out here," Jensen said, then winked.

Osric stopped breathing for a few moments, then let out a honking laugh before blushing even more.

If Jensen were interested in twinks, this kid would be in his bed already. But Osric didn't need to know that. He'd wait for the right moment and send him off toward one of the other people attending the party. Osric was openly bisexual, so Jensen had his pick of who to get him interested in, and he already had his eye on the beautiful woman in the corner.

"So I heard you acquired another collection recently," Jensen said. "I've gotta know how you chose to display it."

"Oh, the signed Transformers collection?" Osric asked, a big smile breaking out on his face. He leaned a little closer to Jensen, as if he was drawn closer just because Jensen was interested in something geeky. "Yeah, I don't have room for it yet."

"No?" Jensen asked, feigning surprise. He knew exactly how big Osric's condo was. The kid was so busy being overwhelmed by his success that he hadn't bothered to move out of the two bedroom condo he'd purchased after the sale of his first best-selling RPG. That was after he'd purchased a multi-million dollar home for his mama.

Osric shrugged. "I know I need to get a new place. The stuffy guys in suits criticize me for having such a shitty little place, but I hate looking for houses. I bought my parents a nice house, but my agent set up the whole thing, and he's been so busy scheduling me for cons and appearances that I don't want to dump more on him."

"Well what kind of place are you looking for?" Jensen asked. Of course he already knew exactly what Osric would like, not only because Misha told him, but because Jensen was a good judge of character, and he'd already narrowed it down to two local properties.

"It needs to look cool," Osric said. "The magazines keep tearing me up over the fact that I've got a shitty Honda and the condo isn't even in a gated community. I don't really care, but Mr. Beaver said it would make people take me more seriously if I lived in a more exclusive area.'

"Exclusive," Jensen said, pretending to think about it. "So you want to be in the city? A loft or something? Main street?"

Osric choked on his champagne. "Oh, Hell no!" he said, wiping his lip with the back of his hand. "If I have to live somewhere posh and snooty, I need it to be private and gated. There's a sense of security when you're living in a condo community. All those people to notice if something's wrong. If I lived in a house, I want big gates, a nice security system, and I want anybody driving by out front to only see a fence, not in my windows or anything."

"Ah, I see," Jensen said, then pretended to think about it again. "Oh, well, I think I know a couple places that might be just what you're looking for."

"Really?" Osric asked, hopeful tone to his voice.

"Yeah," Jensen said, nodding. He reached out and put his right hand on Osric's shoulder. "I think finding a home where you can spread out and still not worry about the paparazzi intruding is totally do-able."

"O-okay!" Osric said, smiling. "That would be awesome!"

"What kind of budget are we looking at?" Jensen asked.

Osric frowned, then popped the rest of the tartlet into his mouth. "Can you keep it at or below twenty million?" he asked, looking up at Jensen.

"I think we can do that," Jensen said, flashing another one of his smiles.

Of course he could put the kid into a home with twenty million. And Jensen's percentage on it would be one point four million. It would be an easy job because there was no doubt in his mind Osric would defer to him on any decisions and he wouldn't be picky.

"Here's my card," Jensen said, handing Osric his business card. It was printed on thick card stock with white lettering on a matte black finish. It was just classy enough to let people know he wasn't some idiot, but not too flashy, which would scare people off, thinking he was out for nothing but their money.

"Thanks," Osric said, glancing at the card before putting it in his jacket pocket. "And thank you for inviting me. The last time I was at an advanced screening of anything, the security sucked and the paparazzi got in and scared the shit out of all of us."

Jensen chuckled. "I run a tight ship and pay my workers well. You can relax and enjoy the movie."

"Thanks," Osric said.

"Oh, and you might want to go introduce yourself," Jensen said, gently turning Osric toward the far wall of the room. "She just sold her ninth novel in the Cyborg Series and I hear she's a big Transformers geek."

"How is that woman single?!" Osric croaked.

"Her name's Cindy Sampson," Jensen said, mouth close to Osric's left ear. She looks intimidating, but she's totally adorable. Get her talking about anything geeky and she'll melt for you."

"Dude, you're awesome," Osric said, letting out a nervous chuckle as Jensen gave him a push toward her.

Jensen took off for the kitchen, but Misha met him before he even got close to the doors. He redirected Jensen toward the back patio, hurrying him along.

"Mr. Pellegrino just fired his agent, his publicist, and his gardener," Misha whispered as they walked. "The gardener flooded the basement, the publicist didn't stop the story from going to the press, and the agent made the mistake of laughing. Pellegrino said it's the last straw for the shitty house he's in."

Jensen stepped outside, leaving Misha inside, and he leaned over the railing, letting out a sigh. "It's a little stuffy in there tonight," he said, looking out over his yard.

Mark was pacing to his left. "Huh? Oh, yeah. Stuffy."

"At least the movie should be really cool," Jensen said, then turned to give Mark a smile.

"I think I'm going to have to leave," Mark said, shoving his phone into his pocket. "I apologize."

"Something wrong?" Jensen asked, standing up and using his 'I'm a concerned host who thinks he's done something wrong to ruin your evening' face. "Was it the shrimp? I had Misha inspect the order, but if something's wrong with it..."

"No, no," Mark said, shaking his head, then letting out another sigh. "It's nothing you did. The party's going well, the food is great, and I really wanted to see that movie, but I employ imbeciles and I need to go take care of the damage they've done."

"Whoa, whoa," Jensen said, holding out his hands and giving Mark a smile. "What happened? Can I do anything to help?"

Mark let out a growl and turned around, gripping the railing for a moment. Jensen glanced toward the door and saw Misha mouthing something at him.

"All set," he mouthed as he made a calming gesture with his hands.

Jensen smiled and winked back at him before walking up to Mark and putting a hand on his back. "C'mon, Mark. I've been to enough of your parties and gotten too wasted to drive myself home for you to give up on a great evening now that I've got you here."

Mark chuckled. "You know what? You're right. They fucked up, they can damn well fix it. I'm having a good time here."

"So what happened?" Jensen asked. Thanks to Misha he knew the basics, but he wanted more.

"I knew I shouldn't have spent ten million on a basement renovation," Mark said, shaking his head. "The fuckin' gardener was doing some landscaping and busted through the wall and a pipe. I mean who does that? Have you ever heard of anybody doing that much damage in just a few minutes? The city has to get involved they did so much damage!"

Jensen shook his head. "I'm sorry, Mark."

"The worst part is I don't even like the house," Mark said, letting out a huff. "I wish the whole thing would go away and I could get into someplace nicer. Something closer to my mom. I miss her."

Jensen clapped Mark on the back. "Now that I can help with."

"Yeah, I know you can help," Mark said, "but I thought maybe you were pissed at me for using Curtis to buy the house I'm in."

Jensen snorted. "No, not at all. In fact, as a show of good faith, how about you let me get my guys into your place and start getting it ready for sale tonight?"

Mark's eyes widened and he stood up just a little taller. "Tonight? It's after nine. You know anybody worth their weight who works after six o'clock?"

"Let me handle it?" Jensen asked, grinning as he playfully elbowed Mark.

Mark chuckled. "You already sent somebody over."

Jensen laughed and patted Mark on the back. "Yup. And I'll find someplace you'll love by the end of the week."

"Thanks, Jensen," Mark said.

The last guest left sometime after two in the morning, and even though Jensen was tired of dealing with them, the buzz of excitement running through his veins wasn't going away anytime soon.

He locked up the house, then went upstairs, pulling his clothes off and draping them on the overstuffed chair in the corner of his bedroom. His tie and jacket were off, and just as he started on his button down shirt, arms wrapped around him from behind.

"Did I tell you to undress?" Misha asked.

Jensen's body reacted without conscious thought, relaxing and almost melting back against Misha, his arms going to his sides. "No, sir."

"Give me a number," Misha said. "I wasn't with you earlier today, and I've got a number in my head, but I want to know what you think it is."

Jensen didn't hesitate. "Eight."

Misha placed a kiss on Jensen's right shoulder, then unbuttoned the shirt from behind. "That's the number I had in mind as well, but that's unusually high for the events of the party, the photo shoot, and showing the house to Ms. Harris. Tell me what else happened."

It felt so good to be known by someone. Someone who didn't expect anything out of him but to tell the truth and obey every command.

"Vicki called while I was on my way to the photo shoot," Jensen said, closing his eyes as Misha's hands smoothed over his stomach, his chest. "She said James Patrick Stewart sent papers over to the office."

"Whatever it is, we'll deal with it," Misha said quietly.

"He's suing," Jensen said, the muscles in his neck tensing.

Misha pinched a nipple hard enough that Jensen let out a small gasp. "I said we'll deal with it."

"Yes, sir," Jensen said, but he couldn't make his muscles relax again.

"Tomorrow morning, I'll call Sterling," Misha said. "You're going to let me handle it."

"Yes, sir," Jensen said.

"Until tomorrow morning, what are you going to focus on?" Misha asked.

"You," Jensen replied.

"Good boy," Misha said, then took Jensen by the hand and headed for the play room.

Jensen blinked away the burn in his eyes as Misha's thumb rubbed over the back of his hand. He let Misha pull him down the hallway and into the big room with the double doors. It was the only room in the house that didn't have hardwood floors. About twice the size of his bedroom and covered in textured cement, coated for easy cleanup.

There were cabinets all along the left side of the room which held their toys and a full sink with hot and cold running water. There were three area rugs on the floor, each with a piece of furniture on them. Misha walked Jensen to the rug all the way to the right where a spanking bench was set up. Jensen knew that was where Misha was going before they even entered the room.

"How long has it been since you peed?" Misha asked.

"Just before I came upstairs," Jensen said.

"Stay," Misha said, then walked over to the cabinets, washed and dried his hands, then pulled out a few items.

Jensen knew he'd be put on the spanking bench, but he wasn't sure what else Misha would do with him. He figured he was in for some impact play because it always calmed him down.

Misha walked back to the rug and Jensen shivered as he got a good look at what Misha had in his left hand.

"Look at me," Misha said, then waited for Jensen to look him in the eye. "Pull yourself up onto the bench, open your slacks, and pull out your penis."

Jensen took a cleansing breath and nodded. "Yes, sir," he said, doing just as Misha had told him, though his hands shook some as he held his penis up.

Misha set the sealed package down on the bench's leg rest, then opened a packet, pulling out a moist wipe. He gently wiped the tip of Jensen's dick, then tossed the wipe and packaging into the garbage can by the bench. He opened a small packet of lube and set it on Jensen's left thigh before picking up the sealed cock cage.

Jensen tensed as Misha opened the blister pack and pulled out the sterilized metal. It wasn't the cock cage itself that Jensen didn't like. It was the urethral plug that attached to it. He hated having things inside his dick. But Jensen didn't get to make the decisions. He didn't get to say no.

He and Misha had been together for years, and after a few failed attempts at dom-slash-sub games, they had a serious talk about going further.

"Breathe," Misha said as he lubed up the metal plug.

Jensen took a few shaky breaths and forced himself to stay where he was. Misha wasn't doing it as punishment. He wasn't even doing it to distract Jensen. He was doing it because Jensen was in control of everything outside the house, and it was immensely stressful, so when he walked into his own home and gave up that control completely, it was a healing and a defense against the outside world.

Misha took Jensen's cock in his left hand, and Jensen gripped the edge of the spanking bench while Misha squeezed the tip and pushed the plug in just a little.

"Big breath in," Misha said. Once Jensen had done as he was told, he nodded and said, "Let it out."

Jensen blew out through pursed lips, closing his eyes, fingers digging into the padding of the bench as Misha let the plug fall into his cock.

"Good boy," Misha said, voice low as he pushed the smallest ring over the head of Jensen's cock. "So good for me."

Jensen winced as Misha locked everything in place and ran his fingers over every part of the cock cage, making sure it wasn't too tight and that the plug fit snugly without pinching or anywhere. Jensen was completely flaccid. Even if he had started to get hard as they had walked into the play room, which he hadn't because he'd been so stressed, he would have lost that erection when he saw the urethral plug.

Misha cupped the back of Jensen's neck and pulled him forward, pressing his lips to Jensen's. Jensen let out a whimper as he tilted his head and let Misha control the kiss. It was gentle and tender in a way that had Jensen's eyes burning again.

When he pulled back, Misha cupped Jensen's face and smiled at him. "You're very good for me. Now I want you to undress and get over the bench."

"Yes, sir," Jensen said.

Misha took each piece of clothing as Jensen handed it to him, and while Jensen climbed onto the bench, Misha hung them in the cabinet closest to the door.

Jensen took a few cleansing breaths, ignoring the way the cock cage knocked into the metal of the bench as he squirmed, getting comfortable. He listened as Misha opened a cabinet, then closed it before opening a drawer and pulling something out, then closing it.

He loved listening to Misha moving around in the playroom. It was familiar, and the way Misha moved whenever they were alone was calming in and of itself. Misha never hurried, never fidgeted, and his movements were sure and graceful.

Jensen closed his eyes as Misha undressed, and he didn't even have to look to know that Misha would be in nothing but his boxers when he came back over. He'd teased Misha about that once. How other doms would dress up or try to look cool, and there was Misha in nothing but his striped boxers, sometimes socks too. Misha had smiled and said clothing had nothing to do with a dom's ability to make his sub happy and content.

Once they moved on to a master-slash-slave relationship, Jensen realized just how right Misha had been. Misha could have walked around in a clown outfit, complete with big red nose and giant shoes, and Jensen would've still gone to his knees and respectfully licked those ridiculous shoes.

Jensen heard Misha's soft footfalls as he came back to Jensen, feet almost silent on the rug.

"I'm not going to tie you down," Misha said. "I want you to stay in position for me."

"Yes, sir," Jensen said, then smiled as the falls of a flogger trailed over his back, his ass, his legs, and even the bottoms of his feet before making their way to his shoulders and tickling his neck.

Misha started gentle strokes, back and forth. It wasn't meant to hurt, just to warm up the skin, and the soft thump each time the flogger came down calmed Jensen even more.

Jensen listened to Misha's steady breathing, soothed by the thump of the flogger. The blows got harder, but Jensen barely noticed as it was so gradual. Always steady. Always rhythmic.

By the time Misha moved down to Jensen's ass, his entire back was tingly and warm. Misha let the falls trail over the crack of Jensen's ass before he flicked his wrist, the tips of the leather strips catching the underside of his balls.

Jensen let out a moan, then chuckled as Misha's hand went between his legs and checked that the cage wasn't too tight. Misha was always careful, always mindful of things like that.

Misha stepped back and started to bring the flogger down again, this time with stronger strokes. Jensen wriggled around a little, getting even more comfortable on the bench and settled in as he started to feel little pinpricks of pain from the flogger.

Up the right side of his back, over the shoulder blade, then back down the left side of Jensen's back. His ass received the same treatment, then his thighs, and by the time Misha made his way back to Jensen's ass, the force of the blows was making Jensen's breathing a little uneven.

Jensen wasn't sure when Misha switched hands, but the flogger kept falling even as a finger trailed down his crack and pushed between his cheeks. Jensen wanted to spread his legs wider, especially when what Jensen assumed was Misha's thumb pushed on his hole, his fingers brushing Jensen's taint.

The thumb alternated with the flogger, pushing between each hit, and Jensen wanted to beg that Misha just push it in already, play with his prostate, do something. Anything.

"Ah, Mi-ah! Mish, please," Jensen cried out as the blows from the flogger became more painful. He didn't want it to stop, he just needed to make noise, and Misha always encouraged noise out of him.

When Jensen was under stress or upset, he shut down. He continued to work and do everything he needed to do, but communication became minimal. Jensen tried to break out of it, but it wasn't until he started to let go of all the responsibility on his shoulders that he would start to make unnecessary noise.

The thumb pushed into his hole, almost like it was a reward, and Jensen whimpered. It was dry, but just that small amount of extra connection between the two of them made a few more of Jensen's walls come down.

Misha pulled on his rim, and Jensen shivered, crying out again as the falls wrapped around his side and the ends hit his skin with more force. It felt wonderful, and Jensen wanted more.

The thumb came out of his hole and Jensen let out a noise of disappointment as Misha checked his cock. The flogger stopped, the falls resting on his back.

"I don't want to take the cage off yet, so you'll have to make your cock calm down," Misha said, then pinched the skin of Jensen's balls.

"Ah! I'm sorry," Jensen yelled, fingers digging into the padded hand rests.

"I didn't tell you to get hard," Misha said.

"I'm sorry," Jensen said, pressing his forehead against the head rest and trying to think unsexy thoughts.

"Nothing to apologize for," Misha said.

It was something Misha said a lot. Jensen had always worked hard to please people, and that didn't stop in the bedroom. He had a craving, a need to make others happy and satisfied. It wasn't guilt. Jensen didn't really have guilt issues. It was the failing that was very hard for him. The disappointment he could feel from someone he loved, someone he cared about.

Misha didn't fuck with his head like that, though others had. With Misha it was easier, even if Jensen sometimes forgot and fell back into old habits.

"I know," Jensen said. "I'm trying."

"You're doing very well," Misha said, then kissed his back. He placed another kiss over the curve of Jensen's left ass cheek. "You're not coming tonight."

Jensen didn't complain. He knew it wasn't a punishment. Whatever Misha wanted, he'd get, and Jensen was more than happy to follow any instructions. Of course, he'd like to come, but he was much more interested in how Misha would play with his body and his head, and he knew without a doubt he'd fall asleep with someone who was proud of him.

The flogger began hitting his back again, the blows starting off softer, then quickly gaining strength until Jensen was grunting with each hit. Misha backed away and let Jensen breathe for a moment, then brought the flogger down over Jensen's left outer thigh.

"Ah, shit," Jensen hissed as the pain flared, the tips of the falls wrapping around his leg and starting a line of fire on his inner thigh.

"Very good," Misha said as he moved to Jensen's right leg, repeating everything he'd done to Jensen's left leg. "You're doing so well."

Jensen clenched his teeth, but still let out a yell when Misha brought down the last three strikes. He panted, getting a little lost in the pain and shivering when Misha ran his fingers over all his sore skin.

Misha moved around the room, and soon he was running his fingers through Jensen's hair. "I'm going to help you up."

Jensen nodded, then slowly pushed himself up and back, getting to his feet. Misha tilted Jensen's head up and took a quick look at his eyes, then smiled.

"Time for bed," Misha said, then took him by the hand and led him out of the playroom.

"But...," Jensen started, then closed his mouth. If Misha said it was time for bed, then it was time for bed. Jensen didn't feel like he was done with the playroom, and he felt a little miffed over the it, but he followed Misha just the same.

Misha pulled the blanket back and made sure Jensen got into bed without falling on his ass. Jensen's eyelids were already drooping, and Jensen had to admit, even if only in his own head, that Misha had been right to make it a short night.

Jensen had forgotten about the cock cage and plug, and since he usually slept on his stomach, he rolled onto his back. Misha crawled onto the bed and got between Jensen's legs.

"I didn't say we were done," Misha said, then grinned, "so you can stop pouting."

Jensen frowned. "I wasn't pouting."

Misha chuckled as he unlocked the cage and gently pulled the rings off Jensen's balls and cock. He dropped the cage onto the rug by the bed, then held Jensen's dick up with his right hand and took hold of the plug's ring with his left.

Jensen whimpered as Misha pulled it out halfway, then let it sink back in. He did it again, and Jensen fisted the sheets on either side of him, trying to stay still. He hated the way it felt. Hated the way the metal was so hard, so slick. The way it pushed at him from the inside out.

"Hand me the lube, please," Misha said.

Jensen reached out with his left hand and opened the bedside table drawer, fumbling around until he found the bottle and handed it to Misha. Misha flipped the lid open with his left hand and drizzled some of the lube onto Jensen's balls before closing it and dropping it on the bed by Jensen's hip.

Misha massaged his balls, rubbing the lube into the skin and tugging just a bit more than would have been comfortable for someone who was overly sensitive. Jensen liked it, and soon his cock was getting hard.

Jensen moaned as Misha's fingers prodded behind his balls and down to his hole, two of his slick fingers pushing in. Misha pressed on Jensen's prostate, harder and harder until Jensen whimpered, then pulled his fingers out, filling Jensen's hole with his cock instead.

"Squeeze," Misha said.

Jensen frowned, obviously tired and trying to concentrate. He squeezed around Misha rhythmically, biting his lip as he worked Misha's cock.

"Harder," Misha commanded.

"Do I have to do all the work?" Jensen asked, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

"Yes," Misha said.

Jensen let out a huff, but he wasn't really upset. Misha could do anything he wanted, could tell Jensen to do anything and Jensen would do it.

"You're going to make me come just like this," Misha said.

"Oh, fuck," Jensen groaned, planting his feet on the bed and tilting his hips so he could work Misha's cock. "You sure I can't come? 'Cause that's fuckin' hot, man."

"Do you need help keeping your erection under control?" Misha asked.

Jensen started shaking his head before Misha was even finished with the sentence. "Nope. No, sir. I'm good."

"I don't mind helping," Misha said, holding his hand over Jensen's balls, touching the tip of his thumb to his middle finger. It was a clear threat.

Jensen winced. Misha knew him all too well, and if Jensen didn't get himself under control, Misha would be able to tell. And then his balls would get flicked.

"I think I'm okay," Jensen said. Misha demanded the truth, and even though it got him in trouble at times, Jensen gave it to him. "I think I've got it."

Misha wrapped his hand around Jensen's balls and lifted them, looking at Jensen's hole. "Faster."

"Shit, Mish," Jensen whined. "Hole's getting sore."

"I can distract you," Misha offered.

Jensen let out a huff of laughter. "You're very generous, but I'll live."

"No, I think you need a distraction," Misha said.

Jensen nodded. "Yes, sir." He had no idea what Misha was going to do, but he knew it would hurt.

"Hands behind your head," Misha said.

Jensen obeyed, then tensed as Misha prodded at his balls, rolling them around until he got his fingers around Jensen's left testicle and pressed his fingers together from either side of Jensen's sac.

"Ah, fuck," Jensen cried out, forcing himself to stay still.

"Keep squeezing," Misha said.

Jensen clenched his teeth and tried to focus on his asshole, on obeying Misha, but it was hard. Misha was very good at cock and ball torture, and though Jensen liked it, it was still very painful.

"Is this helping?" Misha asked.

Jensen's back arched away from the bed. "Yes, sir. I'm not going to complain about my asshole at-ah! At all anymore."

"Open your eyes and look at me," Misha said.

Jensen hadn't realized he'd closed them, and he did as he was told, panting through his teeth.

"Keep squeezing," Misha reminded him.

"Ow, fuck, ow," Jensen cried out, barely able to obey orders. "Mi-Misha, please. Fuckin' h-ow! Oh, fuck!"

Jensen could feel the sweat breaking out all over his body, could feel the pain all through his crotch and gut, all the way to his throat, nearly gagging him. He'd had worse. He'd even had worse at Misha's hands.

"Who owns these balls?" Misha asked, pressing harder.

"Ah, fuck!" Jensen yelled, feet slipping on the sheets. "I ca-Misha, Mish, I can't. Fuckin' hur-ow! Hurts! Fuck! Oh, fuck!"

"Who owns these balls, Jensen?" Misha asked.

"You! You-ah! Ah-ow! Ow! No, oh-ow!" Jensen screamed, his body bowing on the bed as the pain became overwhelming.

He couldn't take it anymore. He was at his limit, but he wasn't pushing Misha away. He was holding position. His brain was nothing but white hot pain and his nerves were on fire, but he was holding position.

Suddenly it all stopped, leaving behind a throbbing ache in his balls, the left worse than the right, and Misha was cuddling up behind him, wrapping his arms around him and kissing his shoulder.

"You were very good for me," Misha said in between kisses. "Kept position the whole time. Very good."

Jensen shivered, then smiled as he felt something warm leaking out of his hole. A calm came over him, one that he got whenever he made Misha come. He was proud of himself, fulfilled, and the evidence was leaking onto the sheets. Sheets that Misha was going to wash the next day while Jensen was hard at work.

Work. Jensen had forgotten about it. He'd forgotten about the stresses and the problems. Forgotten about that stupid lawsuit that he was probably going to have to deal with.

He smiled, snuggling back against Misha. He'd do anything for Misha, but he also knew Misha would do anything for him.

Jensen had only been at the office for about forty-five minutes when he received the package. Alona winced as she handed it to him, pushing her long blond hair back behind her ear in a nervous gesture.

The package was heavy with papers, and the stamp on it was pretentious. Scrolling letters announcing that it was from the law offices of Sheppard & Pellegrino.

"Do you want me to get you some tea?" Alona asked, sympathy in her tone of voice as she smoothed her red blouse down.

"Please," he said, nodding and forcing a smile.

Jensen opened the package and dumped all the papers out on his desk, sighing at the sheer amount of them.

"Here you go, Jay," Alona said, setting the cup of tea down on his desk, using a coaster so it wouldn't damage the wood.

"Thank you," Jensen said.

"If I can get anything for you, just let me know," she said, then ducked out of the room quietly.

Alona was usually anything but quiet, and that's part of what Jensen liked about her. She was tough and stubborn and didn't let go of things. If he needed something done, he could depend on her, and he paid her very well for it.

So the lack of noise was noticeable. She usually spoke to herself and him as she did things around the office, sometimes would sing softly, and it just seemed she was always making some sort of noise.

The silence in the office was oppressive, and every time Jensen moved the papers, it was too loud.

Suddenly the phone rang and Jensen sucked in a breath, flinching. He picked up his cell phone, frowning when he saw Misha's face.

"Hey, Mish," Jensen said.

"Hello, Jensen," Misha said. "Everything okay?"

Jensen's stomach clenched. He didn't want to lie, but he also didn't want Misha to worry about him. He could handle this. He'd be fine.

"Yup," Jensen said, mentally kicking himself when he heard just how shaky his voice was.

"Really? Everything's fine?"

Jensen squirmed on the chair. "Yeah, everything's good. How's your day going?"

"Jensen," Misha said, voice low.

Jensen closed his eyes. "How the fuck do you always know?" He wasn't really surprised or complaining, just frustrated. And maybe a little relieved. Not that he would admit it.

"You would've given it away had I called you out of the blue, but Alona called and told me," Misha said.

Jensen let out a growl, leaning over in his chair and catching her attention, pinning her with a look. "I didn't ask her to call you."

Alona smiled, unrepentant, and turned back to whatever she was working on at the front desk.

"She's capable of making her own decisions," Misha said, "and you know I've asked her to call me any time she feels the want or need."

"Yeah, I know," Jensen said, rubbing a hand over his face.

"Put everything back into the envelope and set it aside," Misha said.

"I can't do that," Jensen said, leaning back and staring at the pile of papers. "I've got to get started on this."

"Perhaps I didn't make myself clear," Misha said, voice going lower. "Put the papers back into the envelope, give the envelope to Alona, and forget about the lawsuit. Focus on the things you have to get done today."

Jensen let out a huff of laughter. "Yeah, I'd love to hand it over to somebody else, but I've got to be a big boy and take care of my own shit."

"Jensen, I'm not joking," Misha said. "And I'm not going to tell you again."

Jensen sat forward, spreading the papers out more. "Look, Mish, I appreciate the support, but I handle the work stuff. That's the way this goes. Always has been. You get me once I walk in the door, but here it's all my responsibility."

"No," Misha said. "We agreed that you would handle real estate, and I'd assist you, but ultimately defer to you."

"Right," Jensen said.

"But everything else was my responsibility," Misha said.

"Right," Jensen said, nodding. "So this isn't your responsibility."

"The lawsuit has very little to do with your business," Misha said. "And I'm already taking care of it."

"Misha," Jensen started, but didn't really know what to say.

"Are you going to fight me on this?" Misha asked.

Jensen felt goosebumps rising on his arms. They'd never had a big disagreement. They'd discussed smaller things, and Jensen had resisted on some of them, but even their worst disagreements had been easily resolved. Jensen didn't know what would happen if he truly fought Misha on something, and he suspected it wouldn't be pretty.

"Uhm, I guess I am," Jensen said, hating the fact that his voice cracked. "This has nothing to do with you."

"And if I ask you to trust that it not only is something that does involve me, but it's also something that I can handle?" Misha asked.

"I do trust you," Jensen said.


"But nothing," Jensen said. "I trust you. Period."

"But you're not going to obey me," Misha said.

"No, it's not like that," Jensen said, wondering how the Hell everything had gone sideways so quickly.

"I already have things set in motion," Misha said. "I told you what to do with the papers, and I trust it'll be done, otherwise it will conflict with things I have planned. We'll discuss this more when you get home tonight if you wish."

Jensen opened his mouth, ready to let Misha have it, because really this was getting ridiculous, but Misha had hung up on him. Jensen pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it, eyes wide. Misha had never hung up on him before.

He set the phone down on the desk and shook himself out of it. "Alona? Would you please get me the number for Fuller & Sons? I'd like to talk to Kurt."

Alona walked into his office, frowning. "Excuse me?"

"You heard me," Jensen said. "Kurt's number."

"Seriously?" she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

Jensen wasn't going to back down even if the expression on her face made him nervous. "Please."

Alona shrugged. "Your funeral," she said as she turned and strutted out of the office.

Kurt Fuller had been thrilled to hear from Jensen. They had talked for just over an hour, and Mr. Fuller already had plans. Of course he'd also started the billing process. Fuller & Sons was expensive, but one of the most ruthless group of lawyers money could buy, and Jensen had the money.

Jensen was confident he had done the right thing, but that didn't stop him from worrying about what he would find when he went home. He didn't know if he was going home to an empty house, a very pissed off Misha, or one who wasn't going to even mention it again.

He pulled into the driveway and sighed when he saw Misha's car. Something relaxed inside him. If Misha was still around, things would be okay.

Jensen pulled his tie off as he walked through the front door, briefcase in his left hand, package of papers under his left arm. He went straight to his home office and set everything down on the desk.

He was tired and hungry, the last meal he had being breakfast that morning, so he headed for the kitchen to see what Misha was making.

"Misha?" Jensen called when he found no one in the kitchen. Dinner wasn't being made and the room looked just as clean as it had after breakfast.

Jensen felt a little flutter of uncertainty in his stomach. Misha was big on routine, and Jensen was comforted by that fact. Something to depend on, knowing where he stood and what was going on really helped him deal with life in general, and it made things run smoothly.

It also meant Misha wasn't happy with him. He was doing something out of the ordinary, out of the routine. Jensen sighed as he started doing a room-to-room search for him.

"I know, I've already talked to him," Misha said.

Jensen froze at the back door, keeping himself hidden so Misha wouldn't see him. Misha was out on the deck, cell phone between his left ear and shoulder, and writing in a notebook he was balancing on the railing of the deck.

"Well, you need to stop it," Misha said, authoritative tone to his voice. "I can't fix all the damage, but I can try and clean up what he already did."

Jensen's chest started to burn with anger. Misha was on the phone undoing what he'd already done. He was changing things. Jensen didn't know who he was talking to, but who the fuck did Misha think he was? Jensen was an adult, and if he chose to let Misha handle most of the decisions, he could do that, but there were some things he was going to handle himself, and this was one of them. It had to do with real estate, and that wasn't any of Misha's business.

"No, I spoke to Kurt, and I wasn't able to get him to reconsider," Misha said. "No, he already called Mr. Stewart. There's not much I can do about that."

Jensen was about to storm out onto the deck when Misha sighed and hung up the phone, so instead Jensen just moved into the doorway and glared at Misha.

Misha turned around, not even a hint of surprise on his face when he saw Jensen. "Welcome home."

"That's what you're going with?" Jensen asked. "All nice and hello and like you didn't just try to undermine me?"

Misha closed his notebook and put the cell phone into the pocket of his slacks. "I warned you earlier. I gave you your orders, and you disobeyed them."

"Fuck orders," Jensen hissed, taking a step toward Misha. "I don't know why you're doing this, but it's got to stop. It's none of your business, and I said I'd handle it."

"Tell me what our agreement was," Misha said. "The one we talked about nearly six years ago now."

"The agreement was that you make all the decisions for everything except real estate," Jensen said.

"And tell me how this is exclusively real estate," Misha said, keeping calm.

"Because it was me that fucked up," Jensen said, hands out at his sides. "I sold Stewart a house that had a fuck-ton of problems, and I signed a paper saying I had looked it over and hadn't seen anything wrong. I signed a paper saying the addition to the house was done by a contractor and it was done right. The same addition that caved in and nearly killed Stewart's family."

"Have I ever given you a reason to not trust me?" Misha asked.

Jensen let out a huff. "No, but that's not what this is about. This is about what is and what isn't your business."

Misha's eyes narrowed. "And when I said it was my business and that I was taking care of it, why did you suddenly decide you couldn't trust me anymore?"

Jensen threw his hands up in the air. "I don't understand why you're making an issue of this."

"You don't always understand why I do things," Misha said, "but you've always trusted me."

"Can you please just tell me why you think this is your business?" Jensen asked. "Give me a good reason and I'll hand it all over to you."

Misha's shoulders dropped and he shook his head, pain in his eyes. "I'm not threatening you with leaving, but I need to ask if you want a change in our relationship."

Jensen flinched. "What? Why?!"

"Because if you're taking a stand and you want to make the decisions from now on, I need to know," Misha said.

"No," Jensen said, the fight leaving him as he realized just how serious Misha was. "I don't really want to do that. I don't understand what's going on and I just want you to talk to me. Give me a good reason. Help me understand why you're so insistent that I leave this to you."

"I still love you," Misha said, voice barely a whisper as he reached out and cupped Jensen's chin.

"I love you too," Jensen said.

Misha nodded. "I'm going to have to leave for a few days."

"What?! No, Misha, wait!" Jensen said, grabbing onto Misha's shoulders. "Would you just talk to me?!"

"I'm not leaving you," Misha said, giving Jensen a small smile. "There are some things I need to do."

"Misha, just hold on a minute," Jensen said, fingers digging into the material of Misha's suit jacket.

"I'm going to be taking twenty-five thousand out of our account," Misha said, "and I won't be able to contact you for at least the next two days."

"What the fuck is going on?!" Jensen asked, confused and wondering if he'd lost his mind.

"Get another lawyer," Misha said. "Kurt is more corrupt than you realize and he'll take you down on this one. Call Samantha Ferris and switch everything over to her. She'll help you out."

Misha leaned forward and kissed Jensen on the cheek before he walked around him and headed for the stairs.

Jensen followed him, unable to even speak as he watched Misha pick up his already-packed suitcase and head for the front door.

"Misha," Jensen said, putting a hand on Misha's shoulder. "I don't know what's going on, but whatever it is, I'm sorry. I'll call Kurt and stop him. I'll talk to Ferris. Whatever you want, I'll do it. Whatever this is, we can do it together."

"Tell the truth," Misha said. "When you talk to Ferris and if anybody questions you, tell them the truth."

"Don't leave," Jensen said. "I'm sorry. I take back what I said. I'll do whatever you want."

"It's too late for that because Kurt already got involved," Misha said, pulling away from Jensen and opening the front door. He turned to look at Jensen. "Everything's going to be okay. I've got some things I need to take care of, then I'll be back. Trust me."

Jensen was about to fight it, to demand Misha stay, but he really did trust Misha, and all he could do was nod. "Okay. I trust you."

Misha walked down the sidewalk without looking back, got in his car, and drove away, leaving Jensen confused and a little scared. Whatever it was, it had to be serious. And it was about more than just the massive amount of money Stewart was going to sue him for.

Jensen slammed the front door, upset enough that he was angry. With himself. With Misha. With the whole fucking thing. He promised Misha he'd call Ferris, and even though he wanted to go after Misha, make him pull over to the side of the road and explain everything, he went to his office instead, looked up Samantha Ferris, and called her.

It was too quiet in the house. Misha wasn't very loud, but he had a presence that Jensen could just feel, and without him there the house felt cold and empty. Jensen had a hard time sleeping, and he was irritable when he got to the office the next morning.

"Here are your messages," Alona said, handing him a stack of index-card-sized papers. Her professional handwriting adorned each piece, easy to read and very detailed.

"Thanks," Jensen said, taking the notes and setting his briefcase on his desk. "Misha call you?"

"No," Alona said. "And even if he hadn't, I'd still tell you to eat this."

Jensen frowned at her, trying to work through the words in his head and pulling a face when he realized she was handing him an energy bar.

"Okay, so when he didn't call, did he give any instructions?" Jensen asked, unwrapping the bar.

"No," Alona said as she walked out of the office. "And even if he hadn't, I'd still tell you to read the notes."

Jensen rolled his eyes. Sometimes it annoyed him how close Misha and Alona were because she was like Misha's ears and eyes while Jensen was at the office. She'd tell Misha if he didn't eat lunch or if he didn't take frequent breaks. Misha would give her instructions to give to Jensen.

Alona was the only one besides the two of them who knew about their relationship.

Jensen leafed through the notes, groaning when he found one that simply read: It wasn't your fault. Tell the truth and don't implicate yourself.

He knew it was from Misha even though Alona hadn't written that on the paper. There were a few other notes from clients and other real estate offices and brokers, but nothing else of interest. He'd take care of the things that needed doing.

"Jensen, your nine o'clock is here," Alona said.

Jensen frowned at her, then sighed when he saw Ms. Ferris through the glass partition between his office and the outer waiting area. "Send her in."

Alona gave him a sympathetic smile before turning around and telling Ms. Ferris he was ready to see her.

"Good morning, Mr. Ackles," Ms. Ferris said as she walked up to his desk.

Jensen stood up and came around the desk, shaking her hand. "Jensen, please."

"Jensen," Ms. Ferris said, "and you can call me Sam."

Jensen smiled. "Okay, Sam."

"We've got quite a bit of information to go over," she said, lifting her briefcase and glancing at it, "so we may as well get right down to it."

Jensen nodded. "The conference room has a large table. Follow me."

Jensen led the way to his conference room. It was bigger than his office, a large oval table in the center of the room with twelve chairs around it. There were two leather couches and an overstuffed chair near the windows to the left of the door, and there was more than enough light coming in through those windows to allow them to work at the table.

Sam sat down on the far side of the table, facing the door. She opened her briefcase and started pulling out manila folders, which she spread out in a semicircle in front of her. Jensen sat down in the seat to her right and set his phone down in front of him.

"This isn't to be opened until you're home tonight," Sam said, handing him a business-sized envelope that had been sealed shut.

There was no writing on the outside to indicate what it was or who it was for. Jensen put it on the table and set hit phone on top of it.

"First of all, we need to go over your testimony," Sam said as she opened the first manila folder and fanned out the papers she found inside.

"Do you want all the details?" Jensen asked.

"No, I know the details," Sam said, shaking her head. "What we need to go over is what you're going to say."

"Well, I was thinking about telling the truth," Jensen said.

"I'm not asking you to lie," Sam said, her voice a little softer than it had been.

"Okay, good, because I'm not going to lie about this," Jensen said. "I've built my entire business on being up front and honest with my clients. They expect it, trust it, and that's the reason my clients recommend me. It's how I've made all of my money."

"That's very commendable," Sam said, nodding, then she slid a paper toward him. "Tell me what you see here."

Jensen sighed as he looked at the paper. It was a printed photo of the house before the damage had been done. "Stewart's house."

"Think back to the day you did a walk-through," Sam said. "I know you hire inspectors as required by law, but you also go through and personally inspect everything yourself because you're conscientious and very involved with the whole process."

"Okay, well, usually I check all the fixtures in the bathrooms and kitchen," Jensen said, "and I make sure the doors and windows all work well and lock. If there's a pool, I make sure the pump works and all the parts are working correctly. I check the attic and basement spaces. I also follow the inspector, taking note of anything they question."

"And what did you take note of on Stewart's home?" Sam asked.

Jensen frowned. "Not much. Everything worked. It was a beautiful house. In fact, that's probably why I missed the structural issues on the addition. Everything was to code and there were no issues throughout the rest of the house. I got lazy."

"No, I don't think you did," Sam said, shaking her head. "Don't just assume you did or didn't miss something. Go back in your head and tell me what you looked at. Tell me what the addition looked like, and be honest. Don't assume anything."

Jensen sighed as he leaned back in the chair. "Look, I know what you're trying to do. You and Misha don't want me to take the fall for this. It's a nice thought, but it's my fault that this happened. I may not have been the one to fuck up everything in the first place, but I ignored problems that almost got people killed."

Sam gathered the papers, put them back in the manila folder, then stacked all the folders and pushed them to the side. "Stand up, please," she said as she got up from the chair and set her briefcase on the table.

Jensen did as he was told, not too sure what was going on. Maybe she was going to walk out. Misha would be mad, but Jensen knew what had happened. It was all his fault and there was no getting around it. He was negligent.

Sam closed the briefcase, then held up a long, clear piece of glass or plastic. Jensen frowned, trying to figure out what it was.

"This is a Lexan paddle," she said, letting him get a good look at it.

"Oh," Jensen said, trying for nonchalant. Misha had never used one on him, but he knew of them. He knew they were very good paddles. Strong, and from what he'd read, painful.

"Misha has given me permission to handle you how I see fit," Sam said, "and he has also told me you think a little more clearly once you get out of your own head, so I'd like you to drop your slacks and boxers, then bend over the desk for me."

They'd never played with anyone else before. Hell, Jensen had only played with a few other people besides Misha in his entire life. But what she was saying sounded as if she'd gotten it from Misha. He really did need to get out of his own head, and a good spanking would do it. And Misha had used Alona for years to help him with Jensen, even in the small things like how much Jensen had eaten during the day or if little things were bothering him at the office.

"Misha also said if you hesitate longer than the count of three," Sam said as she ran her fingers over the paddle, "then you were to get fifteen minutes of corner time after your spanking."

That was definitely Misha. There was no doubt in Jensen's mind. It wasn't as if this woman had just decided to use her small bit of knowledge about the two of them so she could get her hands on him. Misha had told her to do this.

"Yes, ma'am," Jensen said as he unbuckled his belt. He unbuttoned his slacks and pushed them down along with his boxers, letting them pool around his ankles before bending over the desk and resting his weight on his palms, flat on the wood.

"Chest on the table," Sam said, giving his ass a light tap.

Jensen did as he was told, leaving enough room so his cock and balls wouldn't get squished by the edge of the table, chest down on the wood, but his head lifted. It was then he remembered they had left the door open. His cheeks flushed as he thought of Alona sitting at her desk, able to hear everything.

He flinched as the paddle connected with his ass. It didn't hurt, and for a moment he was relieved that it wouldn't be as bad as he had imagined. "Ah, fuck," he hissed as the pain started to register. It had taken a moment, but when it finally did, he knew everyone had been telling the truth. Lexan paddles fucking hurt.

By the time she had brought the paddle down for the fourth time, Jensen was squirming and panting. He twisted his hips with the fifth strike and gasped when he felt a hand on his lower back.

"Hold still," Sam said. "You can stay in position for me."

"Yes, ma'am," Jensen said. "I'm sorry."

She brought down the paddle again. "As soon as you're done automatically blaming yourself for this and you think you're willing to consider the possibility you're not at fault, I want you to say 'I've had enough, ma'am.'"

"Yes, ma'am," Jensen said, squeezing his eyes shut as the paddle snapped down on his ass again. "Fuck. Oh, fuck."

"Walk through the house again," she said as she paused to rub the paddle over his ass. "Don't just assume. Look at everything again. Remember how you felt and what you were thinking."

"Yes, ma'am," Jensen said, then cried out when the paddle came down again.

He hadn't seen anything wrong with the property when he was there, but there had to be. What had he missed? What had been so wrong that it would cause a collapse? He remembered looking at the blueprints, and everything matched up. The foundation looked fine. The collapse should not have happened.

"I didn't find anything wrong," Jensen said, whimpering through the pain. "It shouldn't have happened, but it did."

Sam ran the edge of the paddle over his heated skin. "So would you be telling the truth if you said it was your fault?"

"I should've made sure it was safe," Jensen said.

She brought the paddle down again, harder than she had before, and Jensen's whole body tensed. He closed his eyes and put his forehead down on the table, breathing through the pain.

"To the best of your knowledge, with all your years of experience in this business, did the building appear structurally sound?" Sam asked.

Jensen didn't answer. It had to be his fault. If only he'd asked for a second opinion from an inspector or maybe he needed to check into the inspector's history more.

"Fuck!" Jensen cried out as the paddle connected again.

"Bad things sometimes happen," Sam said. "It doesn't mean everyone who ever had contact with someone or something is at fault. Tell me whether, beyond a reasonable doubt, you're at fault or not."

The paddle landed again and Jensen stood up, covering his ass with his left hand. "I've had enough, ma'am," Jensen said, wiping at his eyes with his free hand.

"Now can we start to work on your case?" Sam asked as she put the paddle back in her briefcase.

Jensen nodded. "Yes, ma'am."

"Thank you, Jensen," Sam said, giving him a smile as she patted his arm.

"Can I pull my pants up now?" Jensen asked, keeping his tone respectful.

"Yes, you may," Sam said, then sat down. "We've got a lot to cover, and if you get too uncomfortable, tell me so we can move over to the couches."

Jensen chuckled. "Yes, ma'am."

Three days later Jensen still hadn't heard from Misha. Okay, that wasn't exactly right. Alona had given him a few messages, but Misha hadn't called him.

The waiting room was quiet and comfortable, but Jensen was nervous. There were going to be detectives and lawyers surrounding him for the deposition, and even though he had a lot of confidence in Sam, he knew everyone else was out to get him. It wasn't the detectives' faults. They had to go by evidence, and the evidence pointed at Jensen knowing full well that the structure wasn't sound.

"Mr. Ackles," the secretary said, "you can go in now."

Jensen smiled at her, taking one last look at the door, hoping Sam would walk in, and then heading into the office. Samantha was late, and Jensen would have to do it alone. Misha was a very punctual person, and he didn't tolerate any of the people he worked with being late, so Jensen was surprised she wasn't there yet.

"Have a seat," one of the men said.

Everyone was already sitting at the table, and Jensen wondered if he should be worried they'd already been discussing things. He sat down in the chair closest to the door. The room was well-lit, but the dark brown paint on the walls made the room seem smaller and more ominous than it really was. The table was a dark mahogany, making the room even darker.

"I'm Detective Morgan," said the man sitting to Jensen's right. "This is my partner, Detective Singer."

"Jensen Ackles," Jensen said, nodding at them.

"My name is Jared Padalecki," said a man sitting directly across from Jensen. He gestured to James, who was sitting to his right. "I'll be representing the Stewart family."

"Hello, Jensen," James said, then nodded toward the woman to his right. "This is a private investigator I've hired. She's one of the best. Her name is Kim."

"Ms. Rhodes," Kim said, nodding to Jensen and giving him a tight smile.

"Ms. Rhodes, nice to meet you," Jensen said, smiling. It was clear she wasn't amused by him.

Just then the door behind him opened and Sam came in. She didn't seem to be in a rush and settled in the chair to Jensen's left, just as calm and collected as she had been the other times he'd spoken with her. "I apologize for the tardiness," she said.

"We were just finishing up introductions," Detective Morgan said, then took a sip of what smelled like coffee from his mug.

Mr. Padalecki opened a manila envelope and pulled a stack of photographs and paper out before spreading them over the table. "Mr. Ackles, I'd like you to take a look at the photos we have here."

Jensen leaned forward and took the small stack from Mr. Padalecki. He leafed through them, the damages to Stewart's house even worse than last time he'd seen pictures of it. It had to be his mind playing tricks on him. He was worried he'd missed something, so of course the damages would continue to look worse and worse because it was weighing on his conscience.

"Tell us what you see in the pictures, Mr. Ackles," Mr. Padalecki said.

"I can tell this is Mr. Stewart's house," Jensen said, then held up one of the photos. "I remember the crown molding in the rec room, and this picture shows the same pattern. I also recognize the house number and the landscaping."

"Good," Mr. Padalecki said, then nodded toward the rest of the photos. "Describe what you see."

"A lot of damage," Jensen said. "I can't speak as to the cause of it all, but there looks to be well over two million dollars in damages to this part of the house, more if the foundation and structure is involved."

Mr. Padalecki nodded, no expression on his face to tell Jensen how the man was feeling. "Now I'd like you to take a look at this police report."

Jensen took the paper from the lawyer. "Standard report. It doesn't look like it includes information from any of the contractors, but that's not necessary yet. It describes the damage and suggests the possible cause was structural integrity issues."

"Good," Mr. Padalecki said, then took the paper from Jensen before handing him three more photos. "Tell me what you see in those photos."

Jensen frowned. "I haven't seen any of this before," he said as he spread them out on the table. He pointed at the splintered wood beams. "This...," he said, then slowly closed his mouth.

It wasn't his fault. It hit him hard, and he forced himself to remain calm as he looked over the photos again, just to make sure. The beams were inferior quality, and nothing like the high grade Douglas Fir Jensen knew had been used in the house when it was built and when it was renovated.

The damage to the beams was done in such a way that not many people would realize it was sabotage, but Jensen knew without a doubt the beams were not the same ones he'd seen when he'd done his final walk-through. It was even a selling feature he'd listed to Mr. Stewart. Top quality beams to keep your loved ones safe.

"I need a moment with my lawyer," Jensen said.

The detectives both rolled their eyes, but Mr. Padalecki, every bit the professional, nodded.

"We'll take a ten-minute recess," Mr. Padalecki said.

Jensen followed Sam out of the room and down a hallway. "Those are not the original beams."

"What do you mean?" Sam asked, frowning.

"The damaged beams in the pictures wouldn't be able to withstand the heavy rains we get here sometimes," Jensen said. "Those beams were inferior and shouldn't even be used as support beams. Whether you're cutting corners or not. You don't skimp on support beams."

Sam smiled. "Misha knew you'd figure out what was going on as soon as you stopped blaming yourself."

"He knew?" Jensen asked.

Sam shook her head. "No. He knew something wasn't right, but he didn't know exactly what went wrong."

"So do I tell them?" Jensen asked.

"Do you have a way to prove that those beams were switched out?" Sam asked.

"Both the original builder and the renovating companies should have records," Jensen said. "It would be better to get the information from the company that renovated because the builder will only have information from when the house was first built."

"And if we can't use the renovating company?" Sam asked.

"Why can't we use-?"

Sam shook her head. "We can't."

Jensen leaned against the wall. "Can we hire an investigator on our end?"

"The renovating company can't get any attention in this," Sam said.

Jensen opened his mouth to ask why, but he didn't need to bother. Misha didn't tell him and Sam wouldn't either. He didn't know why, but he should've known to trust Misha from the beginning.

"Okay, can we use the home inspectors?" Jensen asked.

"Inspectors plural?" she asked, puzzled expression on her face.

"I always use two inspectors," Jensen said. "I'm selling high-dollar homes to people who have more money than I can dream of and better lawyers than I can afford. No offense," he said, smiling.

"None taken," Sam said with a grin. "Okay, so give me the names of the two inspectors and we'll get moving on this."

"What do we do in the meantime?" Jensen asked, gesturing toward the room they'd come out of.

"Tell them the truth," Sam said, shrugging. "Tell them the reason you called me out here was because the beams in the photos weren't the beams you and the inspectors saw in the house. This isn't going to court yet. It's a deposition, and if enough evidence is gathered here and there's no reason to take it to trial, this could be the end of it, but we'll be required to hand over all evidence within a certain time period. You have to be certain Stewart's people haven't gotten a hold of both of your home inspectors, and it would be even better if one or both of them took photos."

"I usually don't list the second home inspector," Jensen said. "It's not really something people do, and if the buyers found out about it, they'd think I was trying to do something sneaky, so her name's not on anything and she's paid as a consultant. She takes pictures, and so does the inspector who is on paper."

"Let's do this," Sam said, smiling.

Jensen felt like a weight was lifted off him. Sam had even more confidence in her stride than before, and it was infectious. They walked back into the meeting room with a lot more to bring to the table than they'd had before.

Jensen was miserable. Alona had noticed it and tried to cheer him up, but nothing was working. She left a Snickers bar on his desk after lunch and gave him a kiss on the head before she went back to work.

He didn't know what to do with himself. He was in between clients, and things with Stewart had been going smoothly without his help. Stewart was facing extortion charges along with several other charges. Sam said they weren't going to sue Stewart, and Jensen went along with it, but that left him with nothing to do but wait.

Jensen drifted off for a while, and when Alona walked in, he nearly fell off his seat he was so startled. She smiled an apology at him, then set a piece of paper down on the desk before walking out to her desk again.

Tonight you're to go home, cook yourself a well-balanced meal, eat it while watching some TV, then clean up. Take a shower, then kneel on the floor at the end of he bed in nothing but your lime green lacy panties.

Jensen stood up and hurried to Alona's desk. "Did you talk to him?"

Alona didn't look up at him. She was working on something, making notes in a small notepad, and Jensen fought the urge to shake her.

"Alona!" Jensen said, probably louder than was appropriate.

She stood up and turned to him, giving him her full attention, and Jensen took an unconscious step back. She did not look happy.

"That's enough," she said, voice calm. "It's been a long three weeks, but that's no excuse to take your frustration out on me. Go back to the office, work on the file I just sent you, and leave at your normal time. You won't get any other information out of me. Understood?"

Jensen sighed. "Fine."

She gave him a tight smile, then sat back down and started writing her notes again.

Jensen didn't really get much work done after that, but he knew if he left early he'd be in a lot of trouble, both with Alona and with Misha, so he behaved.

Jensen was shivering with anticipation by the time he settled onto the carpet. He hadn't seen Misha in three weeks. Hadn't talked to him on the phone or even received a direct letter, just notes written from Alona.

He didn't care what Misha did to him or with him. He just wanted Misha back.

Jensen didn't hear him until Misha was directly behind him, and Jensen didn't care if he got in trouble. He almost fell on his face because he stood up so fast, and he turned around, grabbing onto Misha and holding him so tightly that Misha chuckled.

"Everything's okay," Misha said, wrapping his arms around Jensen and holding him.

"I'm sorry," Jensen said, squeezing his eyes shut. "I trust you. I swear I trust you."

"There was no way for you to know what happened without endangering anyone else," Misha said.

Jensen pulled back, eyes wide. "You?! Did I endanger you?!"

"No," Misha said. "A friend of mine."

"I'm so sorry," Jensen said, shaking his head.

"Do you want to know what the best part of this whole thing is?" Misha asked, smiling.

Jensen winced. "I don't see anything good about this, but sure, I'll bite. What's the best part?"

"If you were good at lying or had less integrity, none of this would've been an issue," Misha said.

Jensen didn't know how to respond to that, and he wondered if he should apologize for being a good guy.

"I needed you to tell the truth," Misha said, cupping Jensen's face. "And if you would've known the whole truth, you wouldn't have been able to lie about the things you knew that would've gotten my friend killed."

Just as Jensen was about to open his mouth and spew as many questions as possible at Misha, he felt Misha pushing him toward the bed.

"I want to hold you, and I'll tell you everything," Misha said.

Jensen nodded and curled himself around Misha in bed, breathing in the scent of him, soaking up the warmth.

"My friend is in witness protection," Misha said. "He worked on the renovations, and he knew that place was sound back when the job was finished, but if he would've come forward or had this gone to court and he testified, he would've drawn too much attention to himself and run the risk of being found by the person he testified against ten years ago."

"And if I would've just listened to you and let you take care of things before involving Kurt," Jensen said softly, "then everything would've been okay. You would've taken care of things while keeping your friend safe."

"It all turned out okay," Misha said. "My friend is safe and starting over again somewhere else."

"Did Witness Protection move him?" Jensen asked.

Misha ran his fingers over Jensen's back. "No. That's why I needed the money. He's safer away from them."

"Did you give him enough? I can give you more," Jensen said.

"He has more than enough," Misha said. "He'll be fine."

"I'm sorry," Jensen said.

Misha kissed the side of Jensen's head. "While I'm not happy you disobeyed me, it's hard for me to complain about your actions. You were trying to do the right thing, and with the information you had at the time, it was the right thing, but you didn't know the whole story."

"But I fucked things up," Jensen said. "I'm sorry."

Misha grabbed a handful of Jensen's hair and pulled him up so he could look Jensen in the eye. "Stop apologizing. I'm trying to tell you that what you did was good. You're a good person, and I love that about you. If you would've had a little less integrity, you wouldn't have fought so hard to take care of it yourself, and even though you should've listened to me, in your eyes it had to do with work, and I'm not the one that makes the real estate decisions."


"But nothing," Misha said, letting go of Jensen's hair and running his fingers over Jensen's head, down his neck. "I love you so much, and this only made me love you more. The fact that I had to clean up a mess doesn't bother me when the reason the mess was made was because the love of my life is incorruptible. Do you know how rare that is? How proud of you I am?"

Jensen chuckled. "You're a dork. I disobeyed you, nearly got your friend killed, and-"

Misha pulled him in for a kiss, and Jensen let him. He closed his eyes, relaxing against Misha in a way he hadn't relaxed since Misha left. When Misha finally pulled away, Jensen had forgotten for a moment just why he'd been sorry.

"You're a good man," Misha said. "I'd never want that to change even if it means I have to work a little harder."

Jensen smiled. "I love you too."