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Fic: Regaining Sense 2/3

Chapter 2

Jensen sits cross-legged on the couch, lazily scratching Jack's ear, which the dog reacts to with a pleasant sound.

A throat being cleared noisily brings Jensen's attention to the fact that there is more than one puppy present at the moment. He ignores it. This is Jared's third shift already, and things are just getting increasingly awkward – and Jared increasingly chatty – between them. Sandy, the coward, left them to their lonesome selves, taking refuge in the upstairs bedroom.

Jensen doesn't understand what Jared expects from him or this assignment anyway. Their parting of ways had been for the best of them both. Surely Jared must know that, too, by now. Besides, Jensen knows how babysitting jobs usually go, and nowhere is it written that the agents in charge have to actually talk to their protectee. Or vice versa.

Jared sighs. “Jen, come on—“

“No,” Jensen is all Jensen says.

“You don't even know what I was going to say,” Jared protests.

“No to whatever,” Jensen clarifies.

“It's not that simple,” Jared says.

Jensen closes his eyes. “Tough. I'm making it that simple.”

“You're unbelievable, you know?” Now there is a hint of steel in Jared's voice.

Jensen gives a grim, little smile but doesn't respond.

From the sounds of it, Jared is chewing on his lip at the moment. “Do you…do you want dinner?” He asks finally.

The question is harmless enough, and more importantly, far from any kind of personal topic Jared would probably love to discuss at length right now, so Jensen figures he can at least try and keep it civil. “Yeah, sure,” he answers.

Rustling can be heard. “Be right back,” Jared announces.

For a short while Jensen is left sitting in silence before a spicy smell reaches his nose, heralding Jared's return.

“Mexican?” Jensen inquires. It's not really his thing. Hadn't been last night when Mike brought it over, either.

“Uh-uh, chili. I was cutting it a bit close so I couldn't pick something up on the way, and now I'm afraid all we have are leftovers. Sorry,” Jared apologizes sheepishly, probably doesn't even realize he is babbling. “If you want something else, we can order—“

“It's fine,” Jensen says tiredly. This whole situation is straining his nerves.

He feels Jared coming closer, gently grabbing one of Jensen's hands to push the bowl into them.

“Thanks,” Jensen grumbles quickly. He hesitates. “Is there bread?”

“Yeah, it's right in front of you,” Jared answers lightly.

Jensen presses his lips together in anger. Normally, it wouldn't be such a big thing, but he doesn't really fancy feeling around the table in search of the damn bread while Jared is watching him.

He means to put his bowl on the table, hunger all but forgotten, but in his anger, apparently misses, because the thing noisily clatters to the floor. Jack yips in surprise, and Jensen can feel him jump back.

“Oh, crap. Wait a second. I'm cleaning that up,” Jared exclaims.

“I can do it,” Jensen forces out.

“Jen, don't be ridiculous. It's no big deal,” Jared admonishes gently.

“Exactly,” Jensen says, “And since it isn't, I can do it myself.” He reaches down to pick the shards off the ground but strong hands hold onto his own, stilling his movement.

Jared sighs. “Jesus Jen, is it that impossible for you to accept some help? Or just to accept it from me?”

“Not everything is about you, Padalecki,” Jensen huffs angrily.

“Then let me deal with the damn bowl,” Jared orders.

Jensen tries to struggle out of his grip. “No. And let me go.”

Jack barks uncertainly, obviously unsure whether there is need to defend his master from an attack. So far the dog has been getting on splendidly with Jared, much to Jensen's chagrin.

“Down boy,” Jensen tries to calm him, all the while trying to twist his arm out of Jared's grip. He is the one Jared used to train with, after all, so there should still be some tricks at his disposal.

However, Jensen's struggles only makes Jared hold on tighter.

“What if I don't want to?” Jared asks challengingly, puffing breaths of warm air in the narrowing space between their faces..

The fact that it isn't about the bowl anymore is not lost on Jensen. “You have to,” he says.

In lieu of an answer, Jared just presses his lips to Jensen's. For a moment, Jensen is frozen under the sudden onslaught, his slightly open lips soft and pliant under Jared's kisses. Obviously, that sends the wrong message, because Jared moans and draws Jensen's body tighter to him.

Comically, Jack's barking sounds almost excited now. Jensen figures his dog must be a secret pervert.

Apparently he must be one, too, because, dear god, the urge to let Jared have his wicked way with Jensen right there and then is almost overwhelming. It's been so long, and a small kiss is enough to awaken sensations long forgotten.

Memories of lazy Sunday mornings rise in Jensen's mind, mornings spent in bed, wrapped around each other while Jared would try to kiss every inch of Jensen's body. His face almost glowing, almond eyes gazing adoringly at Jensen. The sight never failed to leave Jensen slightly breathless.

For a second he wonders if Jared is wearing that expression now. The thought of not knowing for sure is painful, sobering. Jensen starts to struggle. “Stop.” It's only a garbled sound, muted by Jared's mouth, but Jared must have heard it, because he draws back.

“You want it, too. I felt it.” Jared's voice is daring Jensen to contradict the truth in that statement.

“Doesn't matter what I want,” Jensen says.

Jared makes an angry sound. “Yes, it does. It matters to me. It—“

“You wanna know what I really want?” Jensen cuts him off.

“Yes, please man, I just want you to talk to me,” Jared says earnestly.

Jensen draws a deep breath. This whole thing with Jared is a disaster waiting to happen, all over again. It nearly killed Jensen to go through it once, and if he hadn't absolutely believed it was for the best, that Jared deserved more in life than being bound to a bitter cripple, that sooner or later he would grow tired of it all, Jensen might not have been able to bear it.

So, he figures it's time to nip this in the bud before it progresses any further. If he rips old wounds open again, they might never truly heal.

“I want my eyesight back,” he states simply, almost dispassionately.

Jared lets go of Jensen with a swiftness that causes Jensen to nearly lose his balance.

“I…I…I'll send Sandy in to take care of the mess,” Jared stutters before practically running from the room.

And Jensen doesn't need his eyesight to pick up on the fact that Jared's voice had been choked with tears.

* * *

Slurp. Mmph. Clutter. Clutter. Slurp. Clang. Mmph.

If Mike isn't done with his dinner soon, Jensen is going to deck him. Dude is noisy enough, that aiming his punch in the right direction shouldn't be a problem. And after almost a week being cooped up in here with mostly Chris and Mike for company, no-one could blame him.

Of course, it's still better than when Jared is on duty. Jensen tenses at the memory of last night. After Sandy escorted him up to the bedroom, Jensen endured a long, ice-cold shower which was exactly as pleasant as it sounded.

Slurp. Mmph. Mmph.

It's actually quite uncanny. Mike is known for being stylish and meticulous – in his own way – but his table manners are downright atrocious. Jensen has no memory of it ever being that bad, and surely he would have noticed?

But if he lets his mind wander to the good old days when they would all go for a beer after hours or have dinner on special occasions, he can't recall anything of the sort. Just a couple buddies throwing pretzels at each other in between downing their beers and yelling over the sounds of whatever ancient TV set had been hooked up in their current dump hole slash bar.

Of course, back then Jensen's senses had been too busy taking in too many things at once. Now that he is one short, Jensen is in his own private auditory hell. Chris, the fucktard, is already half an hour late. If Jensen was still a part of the Force, he'd have ripped him a new one for that.

Finally the last bits of the burger and fries seem to have disappeared into Mike's pie-hole as blessed silence descends over the room.

“So, what should a couple of party animals like us do to pass the time?” Mike asks.

Jensen doesn't even dignify that with an answer. Not after the first twenty times he heard the same question anyway.

“Come on, Jen,” Mike whines. “I'm bored.”

“You're always bored,” Jensen says curtly, but the word lacks real heat. In a way, spending the last few days with Mike and Chris has been almost…comforting in its familiarity. Almost like he belongs again. Occasionally, he even catches himself laughing at their dumb jokes and participating in their conversation. If he isn't careful, that whole stupid mess is gonna burn him badly without Vargas ever laying a finger on him.

Mike gives a long-suffering sigh. “That's not what I meant. But come on, you know the drill., Uusually when we do these things, we have to take care of Bimbo the Snitch or his cousin Bimbette, the Tattle-tale. Finally, I get assigned to an old friend and instead of having some fun, he's playing Oscar the Grouch.”

“Oh, sorry again, for not being the perfect little charge,” Jensen says sarcastically.

“I brought cards,” Mike offers suddenly.

“You gonna describe them to me?” Jensen asks scathingly.

“Oh shit, Jen, I didn't think.” Mike sounds all flustered at his involuntary faux-pas.

The kicker is Jensen would love to participate in a good game of poker. Especially with Mike. Due to his non-existent poker face, dude is downright horrible at it, always ends up losing all his money. Which usually isn't too bad for him, because Tom never lets him play alone, and Tom is a poker-shark. Everything Mike gambles away, Tom wins back – twice.

But now with Tom being elsewhere, it would be Jensen's chance to clean Mike out on pure principle. Only Mike's give-away-everything-face isn't enough to win anymore. At least not for Jensen.

He knows there are Braille cards, but since Jensen never really bothered to learn it, they wouldn't do him much good either. In the early days, Jared brought him brochures of schools for blind people. He even bought a book on Braille language and offered to study with Jensen.

The book may or may not have been thrown at Jared's head. Jensen can't remember too clearly. Things had only gone downhill from there.

Jensen perks up when he hears someone entering the house. He figures Chris has finally arrived. Probably brought his guitar, which means Jensen is in for an endless jam session and listening to songs about epic man-pain. Beats sitting around and listening to Mike's whining, though. Not like Jensen can't relate. Prolongued babysitting duty can get on everybody's nerves.

As someone can be heard coming closer, Jensen frowns. The step sounds all wrong for Chris, too heavy for one. Almost like…

“Everything alright with you ladies?”

Jensen grits his teeth. What the hell is Jared doing here? It's not his shift, so Jared doesn't have to be here. Especially after last night, Jensen expected some minimal courtesy. Or some minimal common sense. Whichever.

Mike, on the other hand, seems glad to see the evening's newest addition. “Jay, old man, come grab a beer and save me from McGrouchypants here.”

“Where is Chris? Kitchen?” Jared asks, not responding to Mike's insinuations of Jensen's less than entertaining presence.

“Nope, haven't seen him yet. Guess he's running late,” Mike says.

”What?” Jared's voice cracks like a whip. Damn good interpretation of the SAC too.

“Um, well…” Mike sounds taken aback by the reaction.

“Did he call?”

“Nope, at least I don't think so,” Mike answers uncertainly. “What's in the package?”

It's a lame attempt to diffuse the situation, but Jensen hears rustling before, then a mouth-watering smell hits his nose. Chinese. Of course. It figures Jared would just happen to show up and bring Jensen's favorite food to boot. Obtuse, thy name is Padalecki.

Despite having just eaten a huge portion of junk food, Mike sounds like a little kid when he inquires if he can have some.

“It's for—“

Jared starts to decline, but Jensen cuts him off. “Sure Mike, help yourself. Would just go to waste otherwise.”

There is a choked sound coming from Jared, and Jensen imagines the kicked puppy look on his face again. This time, though, he refuses to feel bad about it. The guy is pushing it. If Jensen has to behave like an asshat to make it clear that Jared's company isn't welcome, he'll gladly do so. After all, it's for the best of them both. When Jared finally comes to his senses, he will see that as well.

Chris chooses this very moment to breeze into the room. “Sorry, guys, I'm…” He stops short, probably having laid eyes on Jared's unexpected presence as well.

“Where the hell were you?” Jared asks.

“I got stuck in traffic on the way over, geeze,“ Chris explains.

Jensen can immediately tell that’s a lie.

Apparently, so can Jared. “Oh really? Because I just got through fine.”

“So I had a slight errand to run first, Shoot me.”

“I should. Any number of things could have happened here while you were gone.”

“Hey,” Mike pipes up sulkily, “I'm not a complete imbecile. I had things under control.”

“This is a two-agent job for a reason, Mike. If someone distracted you, Jensen would be helpless.”

Alright, that's it. Jensen jumps to his feet, brimming with anger. “Quit talking about me like I'm not even in the room. And quit treating me like a child.”

“Jen, I'm not,” Jared starts apologetically. “But you have to admit that you have…limitations now.”

“Limitations?” Jensen spits out the word, not believing his ears. Jared has been chewing off his ears with that shit about Jensen not valuing his life enough and needing to be more careful and whatnot for a solid week, now, and Jensen has had about as much of it as he can take.

“Shit, I don't mean it like that. But…you know what I mean,” Jared finishes lamely.

“Enlighten me,” Jensen taunts. “Come on, show the little cripple what he can't do.”

Mike's worried exclamation of, “Jared, no,” is all the warning Jensen gets before he feels himself being gripped tightly, arms trapped against his sides. It's not painful. He knows Jared is just trying to make a point here--humiliating Jensen in the process. He struggles to break free, his foot managing to connect sharply with Jared's kneecap, eliciting a pained cry.

Another one follows as Jack enters the fight.

“Ow, cut it out, boy.” The pained outcry comes from Jared.

Jensen smiles grimly.

Then everybody is talking at once.

“Let me go.”

“Let him go.”

“Stop fighting me.”

Even Jack is barking over the melee.

Suddenly, Jensen is free, stumbling back a bit in surprise. He can hear Jared breathing heavily.

“I…I'm sorry, Jen. Don't know what just came over me.”

“You made your point, now get out,” Jensen orders sharply.



There’s the unmistakeable sound of a door being closed forcibly while the others stand in silence.

Mike is the first one to break it. “So…that was,” he laughs nervously, “…that was something else.”

“I want him off my case,” Jensen announces.

Chris coughs awkwardly. “Jen, you know this isn't how it—“

“Just keep him away from me,” Jensen says. Then he turns, finding his way back to the couch and dropping down. Jack curls up next to him.

And for the rest of the evening nothing much is said.

* * *

It looks like a weekend market more than an official FBI briefing as the twenty or so assembled Agents stand clustered together in groups, chatting animatedly over their coffee cups.

The only one who gives off an uncharacteristically gloomy vibe is Jared. He’s already chewed out Mike a second time and looks forward to doing the same to Chris, only Chris makes that a bit hard by not putting in an appearance – again. Of course, Mike protested, bringing up Jared's own, less than professional, behavior. T

he reminder only serves to add to Jared's anger. He still can't fully explain what possessed him to act this way. Just the utter disregard Jensen had shown for his own life – it sparked a rage within Jared he didn't even know he was capable of. Then all there was, was the burning need to make Jensen see, ironic as that may sound, by any means necessary.

No excuse, he knows it. And he vows to never let it happen again. The very thought of being violent towards Jensen makes him ill, though he is sure the only thing truly hurt last night was Jensen's pride. Bad enough, Jared figures, seeing as pride is one of the few things Jensen has left at the moment.

And seeing as Jared's goal is getting back into Jen's good graces, a fucking stupid move it was, too. Not that he had made any progress on that front to write home about. In fact the utter lack of his progress to break the ice with Jensen is downright pitiful, and Jared feels himself crushed a little bit more with each blocked attempt.

Last night's blow-out probably has been a storm waiting to happen. Still, if Chris had been there in the first place, Jared is pretty sure things wouldn't have gone that badly. The thought only serves to remind Jared that Chris is curiously absent again.

Steve notices Jared looking at the door, at his watch, then back at the door again, and correctly deduces what's on his friend's mind. “Come on, man, you know Chris. He might be a bit of a lazy-ass but you can count on him when the chips are down,” he reasons.

“Didn't look that way to me last night,” Jared responds surly.

Steve frowns. “You said it yourself, he was just half an hour late, and Mike was there the whole time. You gonna tell me you've never been late to a shift?”

“Never when it was something important,” Jared shoots back. “But hey, maybe the life of an old friend ain't that important to Chris.”

The frown deepens mightily. “I get this is difficult for you, man, which is why I'll ignore the dumbass shit you just said,” Steve says between clenched teeth.

But Jared is on a roll, and even though he can see Sandy's little headshake, as well as Tom's unhappy expression out of the corner of his eye, he can't stop now. And he doesn't really want to.

“Maybe you're right. Maybe Chris had a good reason not to be there,” he remarks scathingly, Steve visibly tensing at the tone.

“What do you mean?” Tom's smooth features are drawn in confusion. He usually doesn't get involved in arguments like this if it's at all possible, so Jared's cryptic remark must have struck a chord with him.

“Well, we all knew something was fishy with Vargas two years ago. Guy was always at least one damn step ahead of us.” Jared looks around his friends intently. “No one is that lucky,” he emphasizes.

Sandy gasps, and Mike is wearing an oh no, you didn't face, which on Mike looks almost comical, since there isn't much he would consider non-acceptable behaviour in the first place. But it's Steve's reaction that Jared watches most closely. There, confusion and disbelief war with each other, ‘til both give way to blinding anger.

“You…you can't possibly think that…accuse Chris of…of being a traitor,” Steve says, his face pale.

On some level, it makes Jared feel bad. After all, it's not like he even wants to be in the position to point it outright here. Their first meeting notwithstanding, Chris is a great guy, and exactly like Steve says: utterly reliable in a time of crisis.

Jared would trust him with his life without thinking twice about it. Now, though, the question becomes one of trusting him with Jensen's life. And that is a whole other ballgame.

The thought is downright uncomfortable, but lately there are a lot of things that used to be so clear in Jared's mind and now aren't. He pretty much knows there was an informer two years ago. They all know it. Even back then. Vargas had been too much in the loop for it to be pure coincidence, especially with information only a select few had been privy to.

If not for Jensen putting his life on the line by going at it alone for a while, they would never have caught onto Vargas' younger brother. And hadn't that been a fun time in their relationship? With Jared almost threatening to walk out should Jensen ever pull a stunt like that again. So, when it came to hauling in the big fish himself, Jensen had drawn Jared into his confidence more, and look where that had gotten him.

Sometimes Jared wonders if Jensen's instincts in flying solo had been right. The guy'd been a scarily good investigator with a promising career in front of him, but the one time he really relied on the team, they let him down. Jared let him down.

His mind flashes to an image of Jensen, smiling brightly and waving at him before it dissolves into another image, this time of a twisted body lying in a puddle of blood next to his car.

Jensen had felt so carefree and invincible back then, but Jared, Jared had known how dangerous Vargas could be. He should have checked the damn car for explosives daily.

He just hopes Jensen has never entertained the notion of Jared being the mole. The idea is almost impossible to bear. Being thought of as a screw-up by someone you love is bad enough, but an informer? Jared doesn't think he could take it. Which is probably why he has never asked Jensen outright.

The irony of the situation is not lost on Jared. He’s doing to Steve, right now, what he couldn't stand to have done to himself. It makes him gentle his voice when he speaks again. “I'm not saying anything. Just that we can't afford to look the other way on this. Not for any reason.”

Steve snorts. “So basically, you're saying you don't trust any of us right now?”

Jared swallows heavily, hyper-aware of the four pairs of eyes trained on him., and in each of them, he can read the same question: ´Is he right about this?´, as well as the hope for some denial from Jared.

There is little more Jared wants to do right now than give them that reassurance, tell them that, of course he trusts them, but something is holding him back. He shakes his head sadly, unable to speak.

Doesn't matter. Silence, in this case, is damning, as Jared can read in the disappointed faces of his friends and co-workers. Sandy's sweet face looks especially sad, showing none of the anger Jared can read in everybody else's expressions.

“Captain on deck.”

The familiar call-out saves Jared from further scrutiny and recriminations as everybody looks to the door where the SAC has just entered the room.

Even though the joke has practically outlived itself by now, Morgan still winces a bit each time he hears it. Yet, so far, he has never outright forbidden the use of it and seems to bear the little dig at his time in the Navy with long-suffering patience.

Which means there is always a jokester announcing Morgan in that manner. Usually Mike is the one to do it, but today, probably due to Jared's little revelation, he’d been too preoccupied, so the honor had fallen to Agent Murray.

The agents take their seats, Jared's friends pointedly choosing one away from him. He sighs, guessing he’s just declared himself the group's Pariah. Morgan takes his stand at the podium, as expectant faces fasten on him. However, before he can address the assembled masses, the door opens again, and Agents Dushku and Bush saunter in.

The sight of the two women makes Jared jump up from his chair. “What the hell are you doing here?” He basically yells at them.

Dushku just raises an eyebrow at this little outburst and smirks in the direction of the SAC. Jared hazards a glance there as well, and, uh-uh, Morgan does look less than pleased. Jared knows he is behaving like a loon, but while the way he expresses himself possibly isn't the best, the content is still valid. So he tries again, going for calm and collected this time. “Aren't you assigned on protective duties?”

“Worried about your little love-muffin?” Dushku asks, grinning.

Agent Murray laughs at the joke but quickly becomes silent as the SAC fixes a piercing glare on him.

Jared tenses. “You mean to tell me you left your post, Agent Dushku?” He addresses the woman coldly. After all, he is the agent in charge of this case, so technically, he could employ disciplinary measures against her.

Agent Sophia Bush steps in before the situation can escalate. “We have been relieved by –“

She’s interrupted by the SAC noisily clearing his throat. “If we're finished with this playground behavior and Agents Padalecki, Bush, and Dushku would be so kind as to take their seats, I believe we can go on with this morning's briefing session.”

The polite wording doesn't veil for a second the steely threat lying underneath. If they cause any more disturbances, there is gonna be hell to pay. So, grudgingly, Jared sits back down. And even Dushku doesn't try to push the envelope here.

Ironically, it's Steve who chooses this moment to mutter something to Sophia as she takes the vacant seat next to him..

“What was that, Agent Carlson?” Morgan asks dangerously.

Steve looks surly but not ready to back down. “I informed Agent Bush that she ought to be careful lest she comes under fire in the witch-hunt Agent Padalecki seems to be conducting.”

Jared bites his lip. Low blow. Even though he may have deserved it.

Morgan looks between Jared and Steve, trying to gauge what led to this sudden hostility between the two men. “Agents Carlson and Padalecki, I'd like you to stay behind after the briefing is finished,” he requests finally.

Both men nod, and the Morgan looks satisfied for the moment.

“Very well then, I'd like to start with a few announcements. First off, Agents Bush and Dushku have been reassigned to the Dormer case, because D.C. asked us for help, and we're being spread a bit thin at the moment as it is. Secondly, Agent Kane and Agent Manns are currently on post over former Agent Ackles. Agent Kane has called me up this morning, asking for a double shift to make up for what I believe to be some mix-up last night.”

Jared blows out some air, doing the best he can to ignore the victorious smirk Dushku gives him. Bitch has a point, though, as much as he hates to admit. He tries to draw Steve's look, but the guy is looking stubbornly the other way.

Well, he may have a point, too. If someone trash-talked Jensen to Jared the way Jared just did Chris, Jared would do more than gloat if the bastard in question was made to look a fool. Probably fisticuffs would be involved. He sighs and sinks further into his chair.

Morgan continues to outline their current cases, bringing everybody up to date and handing out some more assignments.

Suddenly Morgan's cell phone beeps cheerily, startling everybody. Morgan frowns. It's a well-known fact that he hates the little electronic devices, wouldn't even own one of them if they weren't a necessity on their job. In that manner, their SAC is really old school. One time, Jared even saw him glaring at his computer suspiciously like the thing would suddenly develop a life of its own and attack.

Morgan takes the call and starts listening to the voice on the other end, deep frown-lines forming on his forehead as he does. “How the hell could this happen?” He barks into the receiver.

Jared is starting to have a bad, bad feeling about this. He fidgets in his chair, waiting agitatedly for Special to inform them all what it's about. And really, while the Dallas branch of the FBI might not eclipse the likes of Washington, Los Angeles or New York, they still have lots of cases at any given time. Any number of them could have sudden complications arise. The call doesn’t have to be about Jensen. At least, that’s what Jared keeps telling himself.

Yet, looking at the SAC's drawn face, Jared somehow can't help thinking it is. The affection the man obviously still harbors for Jensen is usually well-hidden behind a mask of gruff, professional courtesy, but in moments like this, it tends to come out. Jared vividly remembers the anguished look on Morgan's face as Jensen was wheeled into the operating room. The despair as doors closed behind Jensen, leaving Jared and everybody who'd gathered in the hospital out of the loop.

Morgan had sported a look Jared was sure had been mirroring his own: wide, red-rimmed eyes, clenched fists, lips pressed together in a thin line.

Finally, Morgan finishes, but instead of sharing what he’s just learned and calming Jared's overwrought nerves in the process, he briskly calls off the briefing and sends the agents back to their work.

Jared hovers behind – which, technically, is following SACs earlier order. Besides, no way he can sit behind his desk right now, pushing stacks of dusty papers around.

Morgan sees him and nods reassuringly, though, the tight look on his face never disappears. That alone doesn't really inspire much confidence in Jared, and he breaks the eye contact. For a moment, he is surprised to see Steve hanging back alongside him, until he remembers that, if something bad happened to Jensen, the same might be true for Chris. He feels ashamed to not have immediately thought of that.

Morgan fixes them both with a serious look. “I don't know the details yet, but there has been an attempt on the safe house.”

Jared feels the blood freezing in his veins. “What…what happened?”

“It looks like a bomb—“

“A bomb?” Jared chokes out even though he feels like screaming and never stopping. No, no, no, no, this can't be happening. Not again.

~ ~ ~

A blinding flash of light. Fire and smoke everywhere. He can't see through the smoke but hears faint screaming, barely penetrating the ringing in his ears. There is just one thought in his mind: Jensen. He has to go to Jensen.

Jared starts crawling forward on all fours, broken glass cutting his hands, yet he barely feels anything. Is that Jensen, screaming? But he just stood right there. Where is he now? Jared drops to his knees and starts to crawl forward. His fingers close against something leathery. Boots. Jared crawls on. The ground is slipppy and wet. But why is it wet? It hasn't been raining for weeks. Jared's brain can't make any sense of it. He calls out Jensen's name again.

He notices that Jensen has his head buried in his hands, holding on tightly. Yet when Jared gently pries the hands away, Jensen looks strangely sleepy. But he can't sleep right now. They have poker night coming up, and Tom might not show. Jared tries to shake Jensen awake. “Wake up….Damnit, WAKE UP.”

~ ~ ~

Jared feels nausea rising inside him, he tries to fight it, stop the nightmarish images, but they keep coming.

“…alties,” he hears Morgan's voice.

Damn, ringing in his ears, doesn't let him hear properly. “What?”

“I said no casualties reported,” Morgan says.

The ringing stops, and suddenly the words pierce through Jared's brain in crystal clarity. No casualties means no one dead, right? Which is good. Very, very good. Blessed relief floods him, and he hears Steve let out a heavy breath as well.

“So they're okay? Jared asks. It seems like a miracle really.

Morgan hesitates, and just like that Jared feels the ringing in his ears flare up again.

“Agent I spoke to only reported minor injuries,” Morgan amends.

“Who? I mean…” Jared trails off, unsure. For all his suspicions earlier, he doesn't want to make it seem as if Chris being hurt is totally fine as long as Jensen is okay. Still, there is a glimmer of truth in that. Jared briefly wonders if that makes him a shitty person.

Morgan sighs, looking at Jared with unexpected pity, and Jared's heart sinks. “The way I understand it, it's Jensen.” He holds up a hand to stop Jared's oncoming outburst. “But it's really minor. I think he just has a bad headache.”

However, Jared is far from reassured by that. “Who is in charge now? Have they taken Jen in for examination? Is he being treated? A head wound can be dangerous. There can be swelling to the brain. Mayb—“

“Jared,” Morgan cuts him off, uncharacteristic use of first name showing how thrown he must be himself. “Calm down. I won't let you see him if you can't get a grip. Your personal feelings aside, this is still a job, and I need you to be functional and act like the professional I know you are. Can you do that?”

Jared presses his lips together but says nothing. He knows the SAC is right. Nevertheless he wants to shake the man. Instead, he nods curtly. “Yes, Sir.”

Steve who has been silent so far, awkwardly clears his throat. “Sir, I'd like to request permission to accompany Agent Padalecki to the scene,” he asks formally.

Morgan doesn't seem surprised by that. “Sure, they've both been taken to Plan B, though.”

Plan B was their code-word for any follow-up location should a previous safe house have been compromised. The addresses were rotated in irregular intervals, with agents being required to memorize the new order.

“Then with your permission, Sir?” Jared looks at Morgan who inclines his head. “Lets go.”

* * *

Two hours earlier

Listening to Chris rhythmically tapping on the table, Jensen almost thinks he’d prefer Mike's chewing noises. At least those were only annoying and didn't carry the distinct air of awkward with them. Worse yet, Agent Manns is nowhere in seeing, or make that, hearing range, so Jensen is left alone with Chris and his awkwardness.

His old friend has apologized about a dozen times already for being late the other night, and while it's true that Jensen would have given him hell for it back in the day, it would have been just that: a good verbal thrashing, and then they would've gone for a beer.

The tapping stops, and Jensen almost dares hoping that maybe Chris has finally gotten over that strange and sudden guilt-trip of his. Otherwise it just reinforces Jensen's worst fears, that he is to be treated differently now. That no matter what Chris and everybody else say, they look at Jensen, and all they see is a pair of dark sunglasses and a guide dog, marking him as a cripple.

“Hey man, I…” Chris starts.


“If you apologize to me one more time, I'll sic Jack on you. And dude, he's fierce,” Jensen promises darkly. His head is starting to ache and not just from the constant apologies but also due to the very faint buzzing sound he hears in the background.

Chris snorts. “Your fleabag? He barely grazed Padalecki's skin last night.”

Chris,” Jensen says warningly. “Don't go there.” When he isn't apologizing for himself, Chris is making up excuses for Jared – and Jensen wants to hear those even less.

“Just saying,” Chris grumbles.

As if he caught on to being a topic of discussion, Jack gives a few barks.

Jensen holds out his hand and, soon, feels Jack's head butting against it excitedly, demanding to be petted. Like a dutiful master Jensen indulges him, his hands running through the soft fur gently. The damn buzzing seems to get louder.

“My point,” Chris gloats. “This dog is a danger to nobody. And a bit on the overweight side, too.”

“Jack is not fat,” Jensen protests, defending his friend's honor. While it may be true that the Golden Retriever's body is a bit on the heavy side, most of that is muscle mass. Besides, it's all Sand's fault with the constant treats she feeds him .

Chris snorts again. “Thing is too damn complacent to attack anything. Would have done better with a cat.”

“A.) They call them guide dogs for a reason,” Jensen points out. “So, I don't think they make them cat-sized. And B.) The emphasis is on guide, not attack. So don't go bad-mouthing my dog.”

Jensen can't help keep the grudging affection from slipping into his tone. There is something infinitely comforting and familiar about trading barbs with his old friend like that. They go way back, have known each other since High School, which, barring Kindergarten buddies, kind of makes Chris his oldest and best friend.

“So, we good?” Jensen asks, referring to the tired matter of Chris' lateness the night before.

When no answer is forthcoming, Jensen realizes what a loaded question it is.

Apparently, Chris thinks so, too, because he gives the question right back. “Are we?”

Jensen fidgets uncomfortably. “I… don't know,” he offers.

Chris sighs. “I'm not sure any of us ever said it, but we're sorry, man.”

“Sorry for what?”

“For letting you down when you needed us.”

And there it is, the undeniable proof that Jensen is an asshat who selfishly pushed all his friends away, making them think he blamed them for his blindness. But maybe it isn't too late yet. Maybe all this blabber about second chances wasn't complete bullshit. And maybe hanging out with his friends isn't so bad either, even now.

Jensen draws a deep breath, then speaks. “You…You didn't let me down. Any of you, I mean.,” He shrugs. “Sometimes shit just happens.”

He cocks his head, waiting for Chris' reaction. Anger maybe? Relief? It's aggravating to not be able to see a person's face, look into their eyes. This feeling of being at a disadvantage is just one of a million reasons Jensen tends to shun the company of others.

Suddenly, he feels himself being shoved backwards, nearly tumbling off the couch he is sitting on.

“Ass,” Chris exclaims. Thankfully it sounds more relieved, like a huge burden has been lifted off Chris' chest. “You owe me – all of us really – soooo many beers for that.”

Jensen laughs a bit hysterically at that. Here his mind had concocted up all these scenarios where his friends washed their hands of him for real, and Chris just makes a bad joke. Yet, that's Chris for you. Always knows when to cut through the crap and get to the heart of what really matters.

He laughs lightly and tells Chris where to shove his free beer. Then he sobers up, cocking his head as the faint noise he has been hearing non-stop seems to change its intensity. Jensen tries to identify the source of it but his mind comes up empty.

“What is it?”

He hears Chris' question and holds up a hand to shush him. The noise is still getting louder but Jensen can't place it. “I don't know. Something is…you don't hear that?”

“Hear what?”

Shaking his head in frustration Jensen tries harder to concentrate. “It's faint, but I can't…” he trails off, a memory rising within his mind unbidden. So far it's been a totally ordinary day that sees Jensen walking to his car yet for some inexplicable reason he's been trying to shake this feeling of wrong, the same he has now… Right before his world had dissolved into darkness and pain.

No. Jensen jumps to his feet. “A bomb,” he exclaims. “There is a bomb planted in here somewhere.”

He hears Chris’s chair clutter to the floor, probably due to the other man jumping up as well. “Are you…how can you be so sure?” Jensen hears him calling out for Manns as well.

“I just know,” Jensen says urgently. He doesn't know how much time they have. Two years ago, it had already been too late, the warning bells in his head going off only a split-second before the explosion hit. Ironically, the consequences of that day might have just given him the advantage he needs to prevent it from happening a second time.

He calls to Jack who is at his side in an instant. Jensen can feel the tenseness in the animal's body as well, the way the dog's ears stand straight up.

“What is it?” Manns walks into the room, sounding, understandably confused, to Jensen's ears.

“I just…you really don't hear anything?”

Chris sounds unsure when he answers in the negative, Manns doesn't answer and all, and Jensen wants to scream. They're in danger, he just knows it. Reaching out a hand towards Chris beseechingly, Jensen pleads with his old friend. “You gotta trust me on this, we have to get out of here. Now.”

All Jensen can do is pray Chris will listen to him.

To his great relief, Chris gives a tentative “okay.” He still doesn't sound convinced, but thankfully, seems willing to give Jensen the benefit of the doubt and follow his lead. Not literally, of course, as Chris is the one to grab onto Jensen's elbow and hurry them both out of the house. Jensen can feel Manns rushing out with them.

Not a moment too soon, either, as they've yet to clear the premises completely when the earth rumbles and Jensen feels himself being lifted off his feet and thrown into the air like a ragdoll, Chris screaming beside him and Jack whimpering loudly.

Nooooo. Not again, don't let it happen again. The voice screaming inside Jensen's head almost drowns out the terrible noise from the explosion.

Afterwards, it takes Jensen a few seconds to get his bearings again. He can taste grass and dirt in his mouth, must be lying on the lawn. Shakily he pushes himself up on all fours.

“Chris?” He calls out, his hands searching across the hard ground for shapes of both dog and man. “J…Jack?”

“Fucking hell.” Chris' voice sounds equally shaken but otherwise unhurt. “Manns, you alright?”


Jensen can hear the other man cough, and breathes a sigh of relief. Seems like they all got out. Wait. “Where is…where is Jack? Do you see him?”

When Chris doesn't immediately answer, Jensen's insides clench painfully. Jack is his friend, as much as any human.

“Yeah, he’s fine. Bit dazed though,” Chris speaks up at last.

Thank God.

“Show me.” Jensen holds out his hand again, waiting for Chris to point him in the direction of the dog.

Chris fingers close around his own, drawing him gently forward ‘til they can put Jensen's hand onto Jack's soft fur. The dog whimpers slightly at the contact, and Jensen leans down, pressing his face into Jack's side.

He angrily blinks the tears away from his eyes, but they keep coming. Probably a reaction to the smoke, he figures. His head is ringing something fierce, and he starts pressing the fingers of his left hand into his temple.

In the distance he hears sirens blaring already. Not a big surprise, considering a whole house just blew up.

One thing is for sure, though, if Jensen hasn't taken the threat seriously so far, things have changed. Now he takes it dead serious.

He also makes another amazing discovery: he very much wants to live after all. Before the explosion, Jensen has never been one to dwell on matters of life and death. He accepted that his life was a dangerous one, and that he might not live to see an old age. But that didn't mean he didn't try his best to beat the odds.

Yet for the last two years not even the thought of someone walking up to him and shooting him in the head would have brought much fear to his heart. Of course there's always a difference between imagination and reality, Jensen knows that, but he truly could have died today, and this time he feels his heart beating wildly. Pumping adrenaline through his veins even though he feels a dizziness coming on as well.

He is very much aware of the fact that it isn't over yet, that dying is still a distinct possibility. And not only for him as today proved. Chris could have died. So could Manns. Jared could have been here. The thought of Jared lying brokenly on the grass, Jensen feels against his palm, makes his throat constrict.

Back in the solitude of Jensen's apartment, Jared could be but a mere memory, a shadow from the past – and so could Jensen's feelings. But since the guy entered Jensen's life in the flesh again, such delusions can't prevail.

A hysterical giggle escapes Jensen when he realizes that if he'd died today, he'd have been really fucking pissed for not getting it on with Jared the previous night. It seems so silly, so unimportant in the grand scheme of things but why should he continue living in regret and denying himself? Why not live in the moment if the moment might be all he has left.

Jensen shivers. He feels so cold right now, yet can't help remembering Jared's warmth that night. How tender Jared's hands had been. What a relief it would be now to have those hands massaging his aching temples.

“Jen? You alright? Jensen?”

Chris' voice is getting dimmer, and Jensen feels oddly sleepy. He mutters something in reply. At least he thinks he does.

He feels Jack's tongue licking his face. He'll have to tell the dog to cut it out. Later.

* * *

Jared looks out the window, his hands closing around the edge of the windowsill, digging painfully into his palm. Everything seems so peaceful outside, hard to believe anything would ever happen to disturb the idyllic scenery. But then, it had been the same with the other house, and now that was just a big pile of debris.

Jared had been livid at seeing the damage. Hard to believe three men escaped with their lives from that.

He can hear Chris and Steve talking silently in the other room. Upon seeing Chris, Steve basically tackled him like the quarterback in some football game and swept him up in an embrace. To Jared, it just drove home the difference in their relationships as Jared could put his arms around Jensen tightly only because Jensen had been unconscious at the time. Stubbornly, Jared has kept a hold on Jensen all the way to the hospital.

Now they're back at Plan B, and Jensen is resting in the bedroom. Mild concussion, the doctor said, so no real reason to keep him in the hospital where risk of exposure is greater.

The hours tick by with Jared occasionally checking in on Jensen. As Jensen continues to be dead to the world, Jared can go and following his instincts, running his hand gently over the short, slightly spiky hair. Jensen sighs and leans into the touch.

It makes Jared's chest ache with silent longing. He’d felt Jensen's reactions to the kiss they'd shared, is convinced that Jensen isn't quite as over them as he let on. He doesn't understand why Jensen won't own up to his feelings.

Somewhere around nightfall, the relief shift consisting of Tom and Mike shows up, leading Steve and Chris to stagger out of the house on tired feet.

Jensen awakes a couple hours later, but Tom manages to talk him into staying in bed. Wisely, Jared refrains from letting on that he is in the house with Jensen, not wanting to further agitate him after everything that happened.

He waits till Jensen is conked out on his pain meds again and sneaks into his room, feeling like a pervert to do so. Yet, it's not fair. Jensen seems willing to spend some time with all of his old friends – except Jared. Then, of course, Jared has never really been purely a friend to Jensen. They’ve skipped that stage almost entirely.

When Steve and Chris show up once more to take over another shift, still looking dead on their feet, Jared just sends them home. He calls HQ and requests a fresh batch of agents while Tom and Mike stay til the back-up arrives.

They try to persuade Jared to get some rest himself but he declines. Despite not having gotten any real sleep for close to forty-eight hours now, he knows he wouldn't find it anyway. He tried a couple times, settling on the couch, but so far, rest evaded him.

Besides, time for his next trip to Jensen's bedroom. And didn't that sound delightfully kinky in a way it sadly wasn't at all?

This time, however, Jared is too careless. When he leans over Jensen, gently running his hands over the short hairs on Jen's neck, green eyes open and stare right at him without seeing. Jared jumps about a foot in the air in surprise.

“What are you doing?”

Jared wars with himself on whether to pretend being Tom or Mike, but Jensen snorts.

“I know it's you, Jay. I can smell your aftershave.”

Jared swallows. “I…” The unexpected use of his nickname surprises him. Lately Jensen has been keeping to calling him by his last name in that cold tone of voice that cuts into Jared like a knife.

“What? Wanted to molest me in my sleep?”

“No, my god, please don't…I didn't…I'd never…” he babbles, terrified Jensen is thinking Jared did something while he had been sleeping.

Jensen chuckles. “Relax, I know you're not Mr. Serial Rapist.”

“You…you seem in a good mood.” And indeed, Jensen’s behaving almost playfully. Maybe brain damage from the explosion, Jared wonders briefly.

“I just survived my second explosion, this time mostly intact,” Jensen shrugs. “Seems a good time to celebrate as any.” He winces.

“What?” Jared asks worriedly.

“The head. Is still throbbing something fierce.” Jensen rubs his temples.

“Can I?” Jared offers.

Jensen stills his movements. “You sure this would be a good idea?”

“It's only a massage, Jen.”

A snort. “I remember your massages, Jared.”

It brings a grin to Jared's face as he remembers, too. Still. “A head massage,” he emphasizes. “Totally harmless.”

Slowly Jensen nods, letting his own hands drop from his head.

Jared leans forward and gingerly puts his fingers to Jensen's temples, applying gentle pressure.

“Mmmm.” Jensen lets his eyes fall shut, a look of bliss coming onto his face. “S'good.”

This new, agreeable, Jensen is unexpected, but Jared isn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

When Jensen doesn't protest Jared's fingers slipping a bit further down to start massaging his neck, Jared is encouraged. He figures it's now or never, as he leans forward to plant a soft kiss on Jensen's lips.

Again green eyes open. “What are you doing?” Jensen whispers.

“I miss you,” Jared says in lieu of an answer.

Jensen seems to contemplate that. “Show me,” he finally says.

Jared is taken aback. “What are you saying?”

A chuckles answers him. “I think you know.”

“But…but two days ago you said you hated me.” Jared hates how his voice sounds like that of a clingy little boy seeking reassurance, but he can't help it.

“Two days ago, I hated myself,” Jensen just says. “Two days ago, I was dead.”

“And now?”

Jensen's hands feel their way along Jared's frame ‘til he reaches the mop of hair on Jared's head, grabbing on to draw Jared down and onto Jensen. “Now I'm alive.”

“I…I don't—“

“Shut up and kiss me,” Jensen orders.

And God help him, Jared obliges. He lets all conscious thought be driven from his mind and allows his body to run purely on instinct.

Apparently, Jensen does the same. He is pushing against Jared suggestively, letting Jared feel his hardness.

Groaning, Jared tries to slow them down, but Jensen is like an animal. He only bucks harder against Jared's body on top of him.

Jared's fingers close around the bedding and drag it out from between their bodies to push it to the floor. Then he pushes against Jensen's shirt, dragging it up to expose the expanse of creamy chest beneath, along with a set of erect nipples just begging to be touched.

Closing his mouth around them, Jared starts suckling with the ferocity you'd expect from a newborn looking for its first meal. Jensen doesn't seem to mind. He thrashes gently, moaning and grunting in that way that just drives Jared crazy. Always has.

He manhandles Jensen into a sitting position, pulling the shirt fully over his head before he pushes Jensen back down.

Jensen laughs and rolls them over, coming to lie on top of Jared. “My turn,” he promises evilly.

Jared shivers at the sound. Maybe this is all a dream and he is, in fact, lying on the lumpy old couch in the living room, but if so, he doesn't want to wake up. Probably ever.

Jensen rips at Jared's clothing, a bit clumsily, but Jared doesn't mind a few shirt buttons not surviving the attack. When Jared is naked from the waist up, Jensen leans forward and mimics what Jared did to him earlier, tormenting Jared's sensitive nipples with his tongue.

“Oh-oh.” Jared is reduced to an incoherent wreck at the action. There is something incredibly erotic and intimate in the way Jensen has to discover with hands and lips where he is going to.

Jared briefly wonders if Tom and Mike are still outside and can hear them. Then the thought flies from his mind because Jensen has licked a wet stripe down his belly and is now dipping his tongue in Jared's belly-bottom.

When Jared can't take it any more, he starts to urgently drag down the sweats Jensen is wearing. Once he has Jensen's ass exposed, Jared's fingers close around the firm globes and squeeze.

Mmmm. Yes,” Jensen almost purrs.

Jared parts Jensen's cheeks and teases the opening with a finger.

Meanwhile, Jensen's own nimble fingers have been feeling their way to Jared's pants, slipping inside his back pocket and returning triumphantly with a little plastic package. He turns it around in his hand carefully.

“A-ha. Still a boy-scout, huh? A naughty one?”

Jared can't help but blush at the words. Jensen always teased him about his boy-scout tendencies, but on more than one occasion, they were both glad for it.

He watches, amazed, as Jensen opens the package and takes out the condom. Then Jensen's fingers reach out till they return to Jared's zipper and open it slowly, before slipping into Jared's shorts and closing around his dick.

Jared arches his back at the touch, and Jensen smiles wickedly.

“I'm not doing all the work here, Jay,” Jen teases.

Jared lifts his hips up a bit so he can shimmy his jeans and shorts down to his knees, careful not to dislodge Jensen in the process. Jensen even helps Jared kicking off the garments all the way.

When he is done, Jared reaches for the condom in Jensen's hands, but Jensen shakes his head.


“Oh, you want?” Jared asks, gesturing to Jensen's erect cock and remembering belatedly Jensen can't see his movements. While neither of them was ever an exclusive top or bottom with each other, happily switching when the mood struck, more often than not Jared had been the one to top so he’d assumed that role now.

But it's not as if he minds if Jensen wants to get inside him tonight. After all, he hadn’t expected any getting inside to take place at all when he entered this room.

But Jensen just smiles enigmatically and starts rolling the condom on Jared's hardness. He cocks his head a bit, fingers trailing up and down the plastic. “Pre-lubed?”

“Y…yeah,” Jared's voice is scratchy.

“Good.” Jensen nods. “Then we're good to go.”

Jared starts to protest. It's not nearly enough prep, and he doesn't want to hurt Jensen, but Jensen stops him by putting his fingers on Jared's lips.

“I want it, I want to feel it,” Jensen says in a rough voice.

Jared gulps but doesn't stop Jensen when he starts lifting himself up, keeping a hand on Jared's cock to guide himself back down.

Putting his own hands on Jensen's hips, Jared helps direct Jensen's movements.

Both groan when Jared starts to slip inside.

“Okay?” Jared rasps.

In way of answering, Jensen just sinks further down, riding the burn.

Once Jared is fully seated, Jensen stills for a moment, breathing in and out.

“Am I hurting you?” Jared asks worriedly. It's torture to remain motionless inside that tight heat, but the last thing he wants to do is cause Jensen more pain.

Then again, maybe that's exactly what Jensen wants right now, because he hardly gives himself time to adjust, picking up a hard, fast pace on Jared's cock.

Jared tries to slow the rhythm a bit, but if anything, Jensen only gets more fierce in the way he lifts himself up on Jared's cock and sinks back down. Jared goes first, climaxing in a hot burst but Jensen follows him soon after.

Afterwards, both men lie there, breathing heavily for a while. Jared stares at the ceiling for a few minutes, trying to makes sense of his jumbled thoughts. One thing is for sure, they have a lot to talk about. Yet, he doesn't really know how to get started.

So you still hate me, or did you ride my cock just for the hell of it? is probably a bit too much on the blunt side. I never stopped loving you, please come back.” Too sappy.

“Jensen?” He calls out finally.

But the slow, steady breathing at his side tells him that Jensen is already fast asleep. Jared sighs, removes the condom and reaches for his discarde shorts, using them to wipe them both clean, before he grabs the bedding from the floor and spreads it over them. Talking will have to wait.

* * *

Chapter 3


( 3 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )
Aug. 5th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
Interesting turn of events with that bomb. It's funny that almost dying again, something he said he wanted all along, has made Jensen want to live again

Those 2 are always so great together

Off to read Chapter 3 now
Aug. 6th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Interesting turn of events with that bomb. It's funny that almost dying again, something he said he wanted all along, has made Jensen want to live again

Definitely a scenario of "be careful what you wish for", isn`t it? *g*
Aug. 13th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
It totally is
( 3 have dazzled me — Dazzle me )