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Fic: Regaining Sense 1/3



Chapter 1


The sensation of burning is unbearable, and Jensen curls tight in on himself to escape it. He doesn't know what just happened. He's been walking to his car, turning back because Jared called for him when suddenly the world dissolved into chaos.

Jensen presses his hands to his face. Make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop. A sickly stench fills his nostrils, and a sound reaches his ears. Is Jared still calling for him? The tiny part of his brain, that still manages to hang on to his sanity despite everything else, recognizes Jared's voice..

Jensen tries to reach out towards the voice, to draw Jared closer, but his fingers are too busy clawing at his face.

Finally…darkness.




- Two years later -

Sixteen steps to the bathroom sink. Toothbrush on the far left, toothpaste right next to it and the shaving cream on the far right – Jensen learned the hard way not to mix them up. Mechanically, he goes through his morning routine, the tips of his fingers guiding him wherever he needs to be.

After two years the little day-to-day stuff has become easier, but this adjustment his therapist has spoken of at length? Yeah, that concept still eludes Jensen, and not a day goes by when he opens his eyes and expects to see the world in light and colors again.

The therapist advised patience. Once upon a time that would have been no problem. After all, Jensen always used to be the quiet one among his friends and colleagues, always calm and collected, with a tight rein on both his emotions and his affairs.

It had allowed him to keep a better sense of the big picture, noticing patterns others tended to miss. It was what made Jensen one of the best damn investigators in the FBI's Dallas office. SAC used to joke that Jensen might be psychic. Well, surely the man had been cured of that notion.

These days, Jensen isn't big on calm and patience, anyway, a volatile temper he hadn't quite known he possessed, now so close to the surface he can feel it in his skin. Almost inadvertently he balls his hand into a fist. He wants to smash it into the mirror he knows is in front of him. Not like he needs the damn thing anymore.

Not like it will show him a face dotted with goddamn freckles everywhere frowning back at the rash action. Should make him happy, Jensen figures. He always felt self-conscious about them, especially when Ja…people deemed them to be cute, making up silly nicknames because of them.

Now Jensen wonders if they're still there or if they have vanished along with his sight, no longer needed now they can't properly torment him anymore. The thought is silly, he knows, but then he's got too many free hours on his hands, and silly thoughts are about all he has to fill them with.

Jensen knows his skin looks perfect and unblemished once more, the scars from the accident completely removed. Surgeons told Jensen he'd been lucky. Yeah, sure. The ironic thing is that had Jensen retained his sight, he might not have even bothered with the plastic surgery.

Having the scars taken care of wasn't about vanity, it was about the fact that he wouldn't know what he looked like, the picture in his head altered in ways he couldn't ever truly take in.

He finishes getting dressed, hoping he put on the black shirt, but maybe Sandy screwed with his drawer again, switching the order of the colours around to, in her words, keep Jensen from looking like death personified. So what if he likes wearing black? He has done so before the accident, and nobody made a thing out of it, but apparently the poor cripple has to look properly cheerful and optimistic at all times.

Fuck that shit. In seconds Jensen has gone from being a healthy guy with a promising career in front of him to someone who couldn't even be sure he wasn't wearing a shirt with pink polka dots. So excuse him if he didn't feel like shooting rainbows and sunshine out of his ass.

Jack gives a low, mournful whine. The Golden Retriever has a knack for sensing Jensen's thoughts and, by all accounts, agrees with Sandy on the daily quota of joy in life Jensen isn't living up to. Traitor.

Still, Jensen holds out his hand, signalling the dog that it is okay to come over and be petted. Sometimes when Jensen gets in one of his moods, he is prone to take it out on whomever is in the vicinity - and usually that is Jack. Not that Jensen ever gets violent with the dog, he hasn't sunk that low, but an inordinate amount of yelling? That's totally in the cards.

Afterwards Jensen always feels bad about it. Jack is a good dog, an outcast like him. When Jensen went to pick up his assigned guide dog – as Sandy used to tell it he needed to be dragged kicking and screaming, but she does have a flourish for dramatizing things - he overheard the trainers talking about Jack, about what a hopeless case he was and how sooner or later another solution had to be found for him. From that moment on, Jensen had been adamant that this was the dog he was going to take home.

There had been hearty protestations from the people at the training center, how Jack wasn't suitable, especially not for a “beginner” like Jensen, but fortunately for both Jack and Jensen himself, the loss of Jensen's sight has only increased his stubbornness, and in the end he had prevailed. Well, maybe the hefty check Jensen had presented them with had played a part too.

Sometimes, coming from a rich, oil-dwelling Texas family has its advantages, Jensen muses. At least it gives him the relative peace to sit in his comfy apartment and bask in his bitterness, not having to worry where his next meal will come from now that his options for earning it are severely limited.

Chris called bullshit on that one, claiming it would have been better for Jensen to have been dirt poor, as at least then Jensen would have to get off his ass now and again. That conversation had been Chris' last visit to the apartment.

One by one Jensen made sure the same was true for his other friends. Now Sandy is the only one bothering to come around anymore, weathering out Jensen's bad moods with all the gusto of a Care Bear on crack.

Of course Jensen would never admit to being actually grateful for her continued presence. It's the last connection to his old life, and notwithstanding the fact that this sad state of affairs is largely his own fault, he isn't quite ready to give that up yet.

The phone ringing makes him jump a little, then curse. He should just unplug the damn thing, but Sandy would give him hell for that the next time she comes over. And Sandy giving someone hell doesn't mean calling them a ´stupid asshat´, maybe punching them for good measure and moving on – that Jensen could handle – no, she does it by using that ´I'm so disappointed in you´ tone that makes him feel like a naughty kid all over again.

Jensen walks the few steps over to the coffee table, feeling around for the phone that keeps ringing incessantly. He picks it up, grunting into the receiver, “Ackles.”

“Whoa, someone is still not a morning person, I see.”

Jensen freezes at the cheery voice. It can't be. He wouldn't. “Jared?”

A laugh sounds over the line. “Dude, who did you expect? The Easter Bunny?”

Jensen grits his teeth. The nerve of that fucking… “What do you want, Padalecki?” He barks it into the phone, wanting to make it clear to J…Padalecki this unexpected courtesy call isn't welcome.

An awkward pause follows. Jensen can almost see – and behold the irony of that - Jared twisting the phone cord around his fingers, over and over again. It's an old habit Jared falls into when he gets nervous.

Jensen used to find it cute, but right now he hopes Jared is going to extend his habit to wrapping the cord around his neck. Tightly. They have an agreement - at least Jensen thinks so - and the rules are pretty clear: no visiting, no talking, no remembering.

Okay, Jensen might have broken the last one on occasion but he has steadfastly adhered to the other two, and he expected Jared to do the same. Maybe the guy needs a reminder why talking to Jensen isn't a good idea. If so, Jensen is happy to give it to him. He opens his mouth, but Jared is already talking again, in that soft voice of his that used to melt Jensen's insides like butter.

“Something has come up, Jen. We need to talk.”

“We are talking,” Jensen points out testily. Butter-times are over.

Jared sighs, probably trying to hold onto his patience. He might be the most infuriatingly easy-going guy Jensen has ever known, but as much as Jared could always get to Jensen, the same has been true in reverse. So if there is one person that has the power to wipe that ever-present bubbly grin off Jared Padalecki's face, it's Jensen. He used to pride himself on that a little bit.

“Can you come down to the office ASAP?” Jared asks.

“Sure, I'll just jump in my car, and I'll be with you guys, stat,” Jensen's voice drips with sarcasm.

Jared makes a strangled sound. “I'm sorry,” he says quietly, sincerely.

It just makes Jensen hate him more. He involuntarily clutches the phone tighter, causing the hard plastic to dig into his palm. “Don't need your pity.”

“That's not what I—“

“You have ten seconds to tell me what this is about.” Jensen cuts off Jared's apology.

“SAC wants to see you.”

Jensen is speechless for a moment – the phrase is so familiar, he must have heard it about a million times, then he laughs bitterly. “Oh yeah, good one. If you'll excuse me, I'll be rolling around with laughter later.”

“No, wait. Don't hang up.” Jared's voice rises an octave in desperation. “It's true. He asked for you.”

“Why?” Jensen barks, still not really convinced the info is legit.

“That's kinda…” Jared hesitates, “…complicated. He should tell you in person. I'll come pick you up.”

Pick him up? That would mean Jared would come here. “No way, Padalecki. I—“

“Gotta go, Jen. I'll be there in a few,” Jared cuts him off, tone all cheerful again, and hangs up on him.

Jensen can't believe what just happened. After everything that went down between them, Jared has the audacity to act like this. Jensen drops onto his couch, crossing his arms in front of his chest stubbornly. So let him come, Jensen simply won't open the door, and then Padalecki can see how far his strong-arming tactics will take him.

He sits there, unmoving, for what probably amounts to half an hour before his doorbell rings. “Jen? It's me, Jared. Open up.”

When Jensen doesn't react, the ringing starts to grow in volume and force. “Come on, Jen. I know you're there, so open up already.”

A victorious little smirk plays across Jensen's face. Take that, fucker.

Moments later the sound of a heavy thud reverberates through the apartment. Oh no, he wouldn't dare.

Thud. Thud.

“Wait,” Jensen screeches.

But it's already too late. The unmistakeable sound of splintering wood announces that Jared has just successfully managed to kick Jensen's door in. It bangs open and hits the wall with a resounding crack.

Jensen is absolutely livid. “Are you insane? I'll…I'll call the…” he trails off, realizing his mistake.

“The cops?” Jared asks cheerfully. “Already here.”

“Jack, get him,” Jensen orders. But his traitorous dog just gives a low, confused whine.

Jared laughs. “Very menacing.”

“Get out of my apartment,” Jensen yells. “I may be blind but I'm not a goddamned joke.”

It gets quiet for a minute. “Jen…god…” Jared sounds heartbroken, his previous amusement completely forgotten. He swallows audibly. “You need to come with me. Please.”

Jensen isn't moved by the earnest tone. It's Jared's special talent after all. Well, one of them at least. “Read my lips: N.O.”

A deep breath follows. “Please don't…don't make me,” Jared pleads quietly.

Jensen's shoulders slump. He knows what Jared is talking about. The guy could just throw Jensen over his shoulder and carry him out like some screaming damsel in distress – and wouldn't that be a sight for the neighbours - and there is not much Jensen could do to prevent it.

Not only does the fucker outweigh him by a good twenty pounds, but with the way Jensen has been losing weight, and more importantly muscle mass, any physical encounter between them would be heavily slanted in Jared's favour.

He guesses he should be grateful Jared wants to spare him the indignity, but Jensen has never taken well to pity.

Regardless, he squares his shoulders. “All right, I’ll come with you. But if this is some sick joke—“

“It isn't,” Jared assures him quickly.

Jensen just scowls and calls Jack over. He starts walking to the door – or where the door used to be.

“Careful,” Jared calls out.

Jensen keeps walking, right by Jared, ignoring the scent of musky aftershave that carries over.

He tenses when he feels Jared's hand on his arm. “Here, let me help you.”

“I have Jack for that. He does a fine job,” Jensen says, pointedly shaking the hand off.

“All right,” Jared soothes. “Sorry about the door.”

Jensen snorts. “A bit drastic, don't you think?”

Jared's response sounds infinitely sad. “Well, you could have just let me in.”

It's evident to Jensen he is not talking about the door anymore, but he doesn't want to have a heart-to-heart about their relationship. Not now. Not ever. So he just keeps walking away from Jared. After all, the gesture, in its own way, should be answer enough.

* * *



When they enter the office, Jensen can practically taste the buzz of excitement.

Jack whines and tugs on the leash, probably having spotted Sandy, who has developed the bad habit of feeding the dog treats all the time, and Jensen is forced to stumble along. He thinks he can still feel Jared's hand hovering protectively near his elbow, but after Jensen's earlier outburst Jared doesn't try to outright touch him again.

A hand comes down on Jensen's shoulder, making him jump a bit in surprise. Before he can say something, though, he hears Jared's growl.

“Damnit, Kane, don't sneak up on a bl…”

Jared stops himself and Jensen tenses. “Come on, say it, I'm blind. It's not like the glasses and the guide dog wouldn't be dead giveaways anyhow,” he spits.

“Jen…”

Jared's tone is apologetic, like a puppy, eager to make up for any misdeeds to their favourite human. And for a moment it makes Jensen feel like he has in fact kicked a puppy, an especially cute one at that - which is a ridiculous analogy when it comes to Jared.

The guy is more the size of a small horse than a small dog - but it only serves to enrage him more. He tugs sharply on Jack's leash as he keeps moving excitedly forward, causing the dog to whine and still.

“You two ladies finished soon, or should we all take our lunch break now?” A bored voice breaks the tension, thick Texan drawl unmistakeable.

Jensen almost smiles before he catches himself. Good old Chris, about as subtle as a sledgehammer – except when it comes to his guitar – yet always there when you need him. Jensen misses him; he misses them all, but what good would it have done him to have continued hanging out with them?

He would have only been living in denial, ignoring the blind pink elephant in the middle of the room while listening to them chat about a job he could no longer do or other things he couldn't participate in. When the best he would have to offer the conversation was asking where on the table the damn pretzels were.

“Don't sneak up on me, asshole. Can't you see I'm blind?” Jensen says gruffly yet with a hint of acction, deliberately using almost the exact words he just chewed Jared out for.

He hears Jared gurgle beside him, and supresses a snigger. That's right, buddy boy, I'm an asshole. What are you gonna do about it? He turns his head towards Jared, or at least what he hopes is the general direction, with an expression of mock-innocence.

Chris sighs. He might be an insensitive fuck, but he is far from obtuse. “SAC's waiting,” he says, Texan twang creeping into his voice even more.

Jensen feels the hand return to his shoulder, this time more gently to give him a good squeeze.

“Good to see you, man. Don't be a stranger.”

The sudden seriousness in Chris' voice makes Jensen choke up a bit, to the point where he doesn't even acknowledge the, by now hated, turn of phrase. In the quiet of his little apartment it's easy to only think about his feelings of loneliness and pain, not those of his friends.

He knows every single one of them feels guilty about what happened to him, so the way he is shutting them out might make them think he is punishing them, blaming them. It's an uncomfortable thought, especially the part where Jensen feels like a selfish bastard, but for now, and probably forever, that's just the way it's going to be. Life isn't fair. Jensen learned that lesson well enough.

Still, he can't help but shuffle his feet uncomfortably, keeping his gaze downward almost like a reflex even though his unseeing eyes don't have to take in Chris' expression. “Yeah, well, right.”

Thankfully Chris doesn't push the issue like Sandy always tries to do. “Gotta go, man.”

When Jensen feels him leaving, he breathes a tiny sigh of relief. Of course, there is still the - usually gentle - giant hovering at his side.

“Is it so bad, Jen? To be around us?”

Jared's voice is quiet, inquisitive, but to Jensen's surprise there isn't a hint of accusation in it. It sounds as if Jared is truly baffled by the concept.

Jensen bites his lip, not knowing how to answer that. “We should go in. Or has SAC learned the fine art of patience since I've been gone?” He takes in Jared's frustrated sigh at the clear attempt to change the subject. But Jared's nice-guy personality doesn't leave him much choice but to go with Jensen's wishes on the matter – something Jensen secretly counted on if he is honest with himself.

“Naw, if anything he has gotten worse. So you're probably right, we should move on.”

If that is an odd turn of phrase for the situation, neither Jensen nor Jared comment on it as they make their way to the main office. Even Jack is quiet, only the slight tap-tap-tap of his paws on the floor reaching Jensen's ears.

Then Jared puts a gentle hand on Jensen's chest to stop him. “We're…uhm…there.”

Jensen nods. And waits. “So…we're gonna actually go in?” He prompts.

“Oh…yeah, of course.”

Jared gives a high-pitched laugh, and Jensen envisions Jared's cheeks to be red with embarrassment right now. He itches to touch them and feel the warmth of the skin but instead closes his hand more firmly around the leash.

He hears Jared open the door and address someone, presumably the SAC, before the same gentle hand returns to Jensen's elbow, giving him a slight tug forward but conscious not to touch too long.

Jensen and Jack take a few steps till Jack stops, signalling Jensen there is an object in his way. Reaching out, Jensen's fingertips feel the back of a chair. Still, he remains standing, waiting for the SAC to make his move.

“So Ackles, how you doin'?”

The booming voice of Special-Agent-in-Charge Morgan is exactly like Jensen remembers, even though he hasn't seen or heard the man since he woke up in the hospital after the accident. It miffed Jensen a bit, that of all his friends and co-workers, Morgan never made the effort to get in touch with him again.

Apparently he had done his courtesy call to a still unconscious Jensen and then bailed permanently. Which sure, he was the SAC, and as such always kept a bit of professional distance from his subordinates, but considering the distance hadn't been quite so professional when it came to Jensen – albeit just one time when Jensen had been a wet-behind-the-ears newbie agent – he felt it not unreasonable to expect a bit more consideration.

But then, this thing between them has been water under the bridge for a long time, especially when his very own wet-behind-the-ears agent named Jared Padalecki entered Jensen's life and turned it thouroughly upside-down.

“M'fine,” Jensen answers curtly.

“Would you leave us alone, Agent Padalecki?”

Jensen's eyebrows rise at the SACs request, okay order was more like it, but while the tone had not changed very much from what Jensen remembered, back in the day it had been “get your ass out of my office, Ackles”, none of this would you mind, Agent politeness bullshit.

“But…I…Sir, shouldn't I –“ Jared starts to protest.

“No, it's better I brief him alone first,” Morgan interrupts him.

Curious and curiouser, Jensen thinks. Why would they need to brief him of all people on anything? He isn't an agent anymore, and until he scores himself some nifty superpowers like that blind comic-book dude, his days of fighting crime are plain over.

“But Sir, I--“

Jensen has to give Jared props for perseverance and sheer balls. Morgan has always hated having to repeat himself. He nearly cracks up at the next words out of the SAC's mouth.

“Get your ass out of my office, Padalecki,” Morgan bellows.

Yup, that's more like it.

Jensen imagines the two men glaring at each other for a moment – when it came to Jensen Jared always had a nasty protective streak – but then the SAC is still the SAC, and in the end he wins, hands-down, so Jensen isn't surprised to hear Jared's angry steps moving out of the room, door closing behind him with more force than necessary.

“Please sit down, Ackles.”

Again it sounds more like an order than a request, and Jensen feels the urge to rebel rise in him. After all, he is no longer under Morgan's command, so the man can't order him around anymore. “No thanks, I'm good,” he denotes.

“Park your ass, son. You're gonna need it.”

Morgan's reply is half-amused, half-weary but Jensen can't help a slight chill. If something has the ability to rattle the SAC, it must be bad. Very bad. So Jensen fingers his way to the chair and gingerly sits down.

“There have been rumours lately,” Morgan starts without much preamble.

Jensen waits for the zinger, knowing Morgan isn't one to beat around the bush. Yet as the silence between them stretches out, Jensen starts to fidget uncomfortably. “Rumours about what?”

A sigh answers him. “Vargas is back.”

It's as if all the air leaves the room suddenly. Benito Vargas was – and as far as Jensen knows still is – scum of the earth. A Bolivian native, he'd made his fortune with drugs but also dabbled in gambling and prostitution. And of course he didn't exactly live by the commandment of ´thou shalt not kill' either.

Jensen had worked his ass off on the case for about a year. Finally, he'd been able to trap Benito's younger brother, Tonio, and arrested him. The guy had been killed in prison not even five days after that – despite the best efforts to ensure his safety. The Vargas clan had made too many enemies, stepped on too many toes on their way to the top.

However, instead of going after the rivalling clan responsible for the hit, Vargas seemed to have placed the blame squarely on Jensen's shoulders and sworn bitter revenge. Back then, Jensen, high on his recent success, had felt invincible, not taking the threats seriously. Worst mistake of his life.

Still, things are different now. Jensen is no longer a threat, and if Vargas wanted him dead, there would have been ample opportunity to take him out in the last two years. Just because the guy had fled back to Bolivia and then seemingly dropped off the map completely, Jensen isn't so naïve to believe that Vargas wouldn't have enough willing eyes, ears, and most importantly, hands still remaining in the States.

With the way things had been going back then, one of those hands might have even been right here in the FBI, though proof, of course, had never been found. No, Jensen is pretty sure being left alive as a helpless cripple is even better payback in Vargas' eyes than death would have been. At least it is to Jensen.

Jensen forces his body to relax and shrugs his shoulders. “Then I wish you luck catching him. But it's got nothing to do with me really. I'm out.”

Morgan laughs unpleasantly. “You're a damned fool if you believe that. Man like this never lets bygones be bygones. Just the fact that he suddenly crawled out of whatever hole he hid in should make the alarms in your thick head go off.”

Jensen makes a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Come on, what can he do to me now? I'd have been better off dead, anyhow,” he says bitterly.

The heavy steps nearing him quickly are not enough of a warning, so the stinging slap takes Jensen completely by surprise. It hurts Jensen's pride more than anything else, but Jack growls sharply, ready to defend his master and charge. Jensen reaches out to calm him. Last thing he needs is for his dog to get in trouble for attacking a high-ranking FBI agent.

Morgan seems to be oblivious to the danger he's in as he grabs hold of Jensen's chin with strong fingers, forcing Jensen to rise a bit off the chair.

“You ungrateful little brat. Do you know what it was like to see you lying in that street, covered in blood? Or later, in that hospital bed? Do you have any idea what we went through, all of us? Just two days ago we lost an agent. I had to tell his wife and her two small sons their husband and daddy would never come home again. Don't you think they would have rather he lived, eyesight or not?”

Abruptly Jensen is free again, slumping back down on his seat. He feels like shit. But he'll be damned if he's gonna let Morgan know how deep the words cut. Or that they cut at all. After all, Morgan isn't the one who has to live in darkness for the rest of his life.

“Sorry for your agent, really I am, but if Vargas wanted me dead, I'd be dead by now. I mean, it's been two years,” he tries to reason.

Morgan harrumphs. Jensen knows that he knows Jensen has a point.

“I don't know what it all means but we received some threats, mentioning you among other things.”

“Threats? Against me?” Jensen scrunches up his face. “What did they say?”

“Not important,” Morgan diffuses.

Jensen chuckles darkly. “ I beg to differ. You basically had me kidnapped and delivered to your doorstep. I wanna know why.”

“I already told you,” came the strained reply.

“What's the big deal?” Jensen asks. “I've had death threats before. So why won't you let me see…” he trails off, balling his fists. Over the last two years Jensen has gotten good at avoiding all those phrases having to do with 'seeing' and 'sight' but sometimes he still forgets himself and slips up.

Funny how he never noticed just how many references to it tend to flow naturally into everyday language. Now each and every one of them is like a slap in the face to him.

For his part, Morgan ignores Jensen's unwanted slip. “It was carved into the dead agent,” he informs Jensen in a voice tight with barely restrained anger.

This time Jensen knows the anger isn't directed at him but at the bastard who did this. Jensen can sympathize. He'd once dealt with a serial rapist who took great pleasure in dismembering his victims after he'd killed them. It had driven Jensen crazy, the blatant disregard for even the dead. If not for Jared, Jensen might have seriously stepped over the line once they'd caught that monster.

“So, I plan on taking them very seriously,” Morgan continues. “Therefore, I'm putting you under FBI protection.”

Jensen jumps up again. “What? No way! I'm not gonna be carted off to some safe house for God knows how long.” Of course he would never admit to Morgan how much the thought actually scared him, a new place where everything was strange and unfamiliar again, giving him an even better chance to make a fool of himself by stumbling into walls and tripping over furniture.

“You don't have much of a choice, I'm afraid.” Now Morgan sounds almost a bit too gleeful to Jensen's ears.

“I have rights, you know,” Jensen protests, feeling silly even as he is speaking, because how often did he hear that from civilians he tried to protect and just wanted to bang their ignorant heads against a wall?

Morgan chuckles, obviously reading Jensen's expression correctly. But when he speaks, his voice is serious once more. “You are still one of us Jensen, even if you don't think so yourself. And we look out for our own.”

Jensen looks down. Again, Morgan's hand on his face startles him, but this time it isn't a forceful touch, just the gentle cupping of his cheek.

“And make no mistake, you still have a lot to offer, and lots of people would be happy to be on the receiving end of that offer.” Morgan's voice is raspy as if the words tumbled out against his will. Which they probably did.

A lump forms in Jensen's throat, and he swallows heavily. He never knew, never imagined Morgan to be still harbouring feelings for him, even after all this time. They had both agreed it had been a crazy one time thing between them and never spoke of it again. And later when Jensen and Jared hooked up, Morgan had never appeared to be bothered by it.

“I…” Jensen doesn't really know what to say, how to respond, but thankfully Morgan isn't one for sappy moments.

“Don't sweat it, kid. Besides, you might want to curse me in about five seconds when I tell you who the main agent assigned to your case is.”

Jensen jumps to his feet and takes a step backwards, almost stumbling over the chair, and Jack barks. “No way. No fucking way.”

“You weren't the only one working on the Vargas case, even back then," Morgan says with a slightly miffed tone. "Padalecki was your partner, so are you seriously trying to tell me he didn`t put in as many hours on it as you did?"

Jensen presses his lips together, not answering. He knows the SAC is right. Heck, he remembers gazing up from a box of Chinese take-out, bone-tired and bleary-eyed to see his own look mirrored in Jared's who would flat-out refuse to call it a night until Jensen did the same. It's that memory that doesn't quite allow Jensen to dismiss the SAC's claim on Jared's experience with the case.

Morgan doesn't acknowledge Jensen's silence as he seems to be on a roll. "And I know he has kept working on it for the last two years, despite Vargas seemingly going to ground. Despite people telling him to let it go and concentrate on other cases. Padalecki knows the target, and he knows you. That makes him the most qualified man to take the job. And once you get over yourself, you'll agree.”

“But…but it's a simple…babysitting duty,” Jensen forces the hated words out, but then it's exactly what the agents used to call such assignments. “It's not working on the case, per se, he can do that elsewhere.”

Morgan sighs. “He won't be the only agent overseeing your protection. Kane and Rosenbaum will be on the case too.”

Jensen feels like screaming. This can't be happening. Aren't there any new, totally un-Jensen-knowing agents around who could take this job? Did they all have to be blasts from the past?

“Kane and Rosenbaum? Great, so half the time I'm gonna get my ears chewed off about country music and the other half it will be ´prank the blind dude'. Awesome.“

A snigger answers him. “Don't forget Padalecki. What do you reckon he's gonna do?”

“Stare at me mopily while eating lots of candy,” comes Jensen's scathing reply. Which earns an outright laugh from Morgan, and Jensen grits his teeth. “And why Kane and Rosenbaum anyhow? What happened to the Inseperables?”

“If you're referring to Welling-Rosenbaum and Kane-Carlson, yeah, they're still the dream-teams, but I tend to split them up on assignments like this. Unless you want to be entertained by the noises of them screwing in front of you?”

It's a good thing Jensen doesn't have anything to drink just then, because he might have choked to death. While it had been a running gag among their tight little band that the four agents respectively were not only items in their personal lives but tended to bring that over into the job to pass the time on stakeouts and the likes – and okay, Jensen and Jared had done that too, once – everybody prided themselves on fooling the SAC on that score.

Jensen feels a little sad at the thought of being out of the loop so much that that would have changed. Even Sandy, that traitor, has never mentioned it. Then again, if Jensen is honest with himself, he didn't exactly encourage her to share the newest office gossip.

“Nope, they still have no idea,” Morgan's voice brings him out of his reverie. “But don't tell them that, would take all the fun out of watching their miserable attempts to pull wool over my eyes.”

In a way, it's neat, having Morgan talk to him like an equal, now, but it also serves to highlight how, despite what Morgan just said, Jensen is no longer one of them, not really. He breathes out slowly, trying to take back control of this thoroughly weird day. “Okay, I can deal with being babysat, and I can deal with Chris and Mike doing it, but not Padalecki. It's not gonna end well.”

“Padalecki is on the case. Deal with it.”

Morgan's voice books no argument, and Jensen knows then and there he won't win this. “Fine,” he grits out. “But I'm not going to play nice with him.”

“Nobody asked you to. You know the drill, and I expect you won't do anything stupid.” It isn't phrased as a question but more as an affectionate threat. “Everything else is up to the two of you.”

Jensen nods curtly to show he understands the terms.

“And I know you're not going to listen to reason, anyway, because you're a stubborn ass,” Morgan starts, ignoring Jensen's protesting, “But life is not going to hand you too many opportunities, even fewer second chances, so it would be really unfortunate that, when they come along, one is too blind to see them.”

Jensen gasps at the last few words. The way Morgan carefully enunciated them made it clear it wasn't a slip-up on his part. The man meant what he said.

* * *



“He's not gonna be out any sooner, no matter how intensely you stare at the door,” a cheery female voice remarks as the owner of said voice sidles up next to Jared.

“Shut it, Sandy,” Jared replies but without any true heat. “Besides, you lied to me.”

Special Agent Sandy McCoy's sweet face pulls into a frown. “What? When?”

“You said he was eating alright, but he is way too thin.”

Sandy laughs, relieved. “You're such a mother hen, Jared. He is perfectly healthy.”

Jared's mouth turns into a thin line. “Not quite.”

A sigh. “You know what I mean. Man, you're as testy as he is about it sometimes. It does neither of you any good to treat him as if he ain't right anymore.”

“I never did,” Jared protests. Then he scoffs. “Besides, it's not like he even let me try.”

Sandy touches Jared's arm gently. “Give him time.”

“It's been two years and…nothing. I'd wait, if I knew there was even…I'd wait,“ Jared finishes.

“Well, now is your chance, lover-boy,” Special Agent Michael Rosenbaum's shiny bald head comes into view. It might have looked ridiculous on any other guy, but the guy carries as well, possessing a certain exotic beauty that even managed to coax painfully shy Tom Welling out of his shell and into Mike's open, waiting arms.

“Shut up, Mikey, not everything is about sex.”

Mike looks shocked. “There – right there is your problem. You communicate too much with words. Make love, not war.”

Jared shakes his head, giving Mike a playful shove. “How did you ever get to be an FBI agent? Are you sure there isn't some leftover hippie commune from the 60s looking for you?”

“Tsk, tsk, that's what you get for trying to help out a buddy in need. Insults and abuse.”

“I think you can take it, Mike,” Sandy joins in laughing.

“What's up?”

Three heads turn to the leggy brunette having walked up behind them. Sandy smiles – she is pretty incapable of being anything but sweet – but Jared's face is strained, and Mike wears an outright glower instead of his usual Cheshire-cat grin. “None of your business, Dushku.”

They all have to acknowledge that Eliza Dushku is a damn fine agent, but she has never made an effort to fit into the group all that well. Or rather she did it too well by trying to get it on with Tom, Jensen and Chris respectively, thereby seriously pissing off their significant others.

At least Jared tried to get over it, and Steve is too much of a laid-back guy to hold a grudge for too long, but there is serious bad blood between she and Mike.

Now, she rolls her eyes. “Don't bite my head off, Baldy.”

Mike looks about ready to deck her for the nickname, but just then the door to Morgan's office opens, and its two occupants step out. Immediately, Jared's gaze flies to Jensen's face, searching for a clue how Jensen took the news.

His heart sinks when he sees the tight lines of anger, marring the smooth features. It was to be expected, but nevertheless, Jared can't help but feel disappointed. Didn't Jensen miss him – them – even a little bit?

Earlier, it had been sheer torture for Jared not to draw Jensen into his arms and kiss him senseless, a feeling which used to be mutual whenever they were together, but Jensen expressed nothing but anger and contempt for Jared anymore. Maybe he'd truly moved on.

The very thought of it cut Jared to the bone. No, he wouldn't give up so easily. When he'd seen the threat against Jensen, carved in bloody lines in another man's body, Jared immediately went to Morgan and made a fool of himself, begging and pleading to be given this assignment. It had been a rough battle, but finally Morgan caved, even agreeing to keep that little piece of intel from Jensen.

I hope you know what you're doing, son. Morgan's stern warning still sounds in his head. Jared doesn't know for sure, but he always suspected something happened between Morgan and Jensen. He never asked Jensen about it, wanting to let sleeping dogs lie in peace but a small part of him kept on wondering.

It's certainly possible. Morgan, while a bit older, has that gruff-sexy thing going on and Jensen – Jensen has always been on the scorching side of hot. Jared still vividly remembers their first meeting, right here in this very office.


~ ~ ~

Four years earlier


”Damnit, Padalecki, first day as an FBI agent and already you're late. Great going,” Jared mumbles to himself, trying to balance his brand-new briefcase - a birthday present from his sister - a cup of piping hot coffee and an open package of gummi bears.

The latter has drawn some odd looks already, but Jared can't help it, munching on candy helps calm him down. And if ever there was a need to calm his overwrought nerves, it's today. For the last three years he has been working his butt off to get here, here being the Dallas offices of the FBI.

His mother had been heartbroken Jared hadn't made a bigger effort to go to San Antonio, but that was kinda the point of it, not breaking his mother's heart, oh no, but getting away from home and being his own man. With his twenty-four years, Jared felt it was high time already.

Still, with his natural penchant for clumsiness in inconvenient situations, the balancing act seems like a blatant challenge of Murphy's law. So far, any possible disasters have been averted and Jared almost allows himself to hope.

He tries to sneak another glance at his watch, twisting his arm slightly, and gummi bears go, bouncing over the polished floor in all of their colourful glory. Cursing, he bends down to sweep them back up, and the paper cup goes next, spilling the brown liquid over the candy. Stubbornly, Jared tries to sweep that up too.

Suddenly, a body connects with Jared's, and before Jared can reach out a steadying hand, the person having bumped into him goes down with an angry shout.

Jared is mortified. “I'm…I'm so, so sorry.”

Angry blue eyes focus on him.

“Fuck, newbie, watch where you're going. I have my hands full dodging the bad guys, don't need to spend my time dodging clumsy motherfuckers in HQ too.”

Blushing scarlet, Jared drops his gaze to the floor. A great first impression he made. The sound of a third voice makes him look back up.

“Come on, Chris, don't be an ass. I'm sure he didn't do it on purpose.”

Jared blinks to clear his vision, then blinks some more but it remains true, the most beautiful guy on the planet just came to his rescue. As green eyes muster him curiously, Jared feels like the hot item on the auction list. Going once, going twice.

“You all right?” The vision smiles.

And gone.



~ ~ ~



Nowadays, those once vivid-green eyes are forever empty and unseeing, and Jared doesn't even remember the last time he saw a smile on Jensen's face. No, that it isn't true, he remembers all too well. It was right before the doc told them that the loss of Jensen's eyesight would be permanent.

From that moment on it was as if Jensen refused to see Jared with more than just his eyes, refused to hear Jared, touch him, smell him, refused to acknowledge Jared's very existence. And no matter how hard Jared tried to make his presence known to Jensen, it didn't work. The only emotion he seemed to elicit was anger.

And since it's not hard to imagine what brought the scowl to Jen's face, that apparently hasn't changed.

Bravely, Jared takes a few steps forward towards Jensen and the SAC. He forces the kind of carefree humour into his voice that has become his trademark. “Ready to rumble?” He asks Jensen.

Jensen's scowl deepens. “Babysitting a cripple ain't exactly much of a career-building move, Padalecki, so you might get the short end of that stick.”

Even expecting the anger, Jared is taken aback by the viciousness in Jensen's words. And he hates the way Jensen puts himself down all the time. The man lost his sight, that's terrible, sure, but, after all, numerous blind people go on having long and productive lives. Wisely, Jared refrains from saying so, or else Jensen would probably bite his head off.

“I'll drive you home,” Jared offers neutrally. Maybe he can talk some sense into Jensen on the ride back over, at least have Jensen agree to take this whole situation seriously.

“Thanks, but me and Jack will catch a cab,” Jensen defers, none too kindly.

So much for the mature approach. Jared silently prays for patience, which is saying something, because his mama always says Jared has the patience of a saint. But Jensen Ackles has always been a test to any kind of saintliness.

Before Jared can get another word in edgewise, Sandy pipes up. “I`ll drive you, Jen, I'm on lunch break anyhow.”

Jared gapes at her. Traitor, he mouths silently.

But Sandy just gives him an apologizing shrug, wearing her 'it's for the best'-face.

“All right then, lets get a move on,” Jensen grumbles, once more walking away from Jared.

It's certainly common procedure at this point.

* * *


Chapter 2

Comments

( 10 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
(Deleted comment)
astri13
Jul. 12th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
Fantastic start

Thank you.

Jensen's, well, Jensen's being an annoying asshole,

Heh. Well, I can understand him because that`s how I fear I would act in a situation like this. I always admire people who seem to handle a disability with grace and optimism because I fear I`d be all grouchy and bitter towards my environment.
Thus, I tended to sympathize heavily with my Jensen when writing him, even or maybe especially when he acted like an ass. :)
(Deleted comment)
astri13
Jul. 20th, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you, glad you like the start and bitter!Jensen. :) Hopefully the rest won`t disappoint. *frets*
sly_fuck
Jul. 21st, 2008 12:13 pm (UTC)
Okay, so I just had to stop reading to make this...

Photobucket


Cause this line? Now Sandy is the only one bothering to come around anymore, weathering out Jensen's bad moods with all the gusto of a Care Bear on crack. Was way too perfectly hilarious. I hope you don't mind?
astri13
Jul. 21st, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC)
Not at all. I`m happy you liked the line this much and this is awesome. He really looks kinda on crack. *g*
fanofsuper
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:11 pm (UTC)
I can understand where Jensen is coming from. I'm sure that it is difficult for him but that doesn't give him the right to keep taking it out on the people who are only trying to help him

I hope that spending time with Jared & the others will remind him of what he is missing.

Off to read Chapter 2 now
astri13
Aug. 6th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC)
I can understand where Jensen is coming from. I'm sure that it is difficult for him but that doesn't give him the right to keep taking it out on the people who are only trying to help him.

True. On the other hand that is exactly like I would see myself reacting in a situation like this, holing up in my little "cave", licking my wounds and sniping at everybody that dares to come close. :)
fanofsuper
Aug. 13th, 2008 10:19 pm (UTC)
Maybe in the beginning yes but would have to deal with it at some point
yourlibrarian
Oct. 2nd, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
Jared feels like the hot item on the auction list. Going once, going twice.
“You all right?” The vision smiles.
And gone.


Heh, nicely put.
astri13
Oct. 4th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC)
Hee. Thanks. *g*
( 10 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )