Don’t Let the Sun Go Down, part 5

Categories:  Sundownverse, CW RPS


By the time they pull into Chad’s drive, Jared thinks he might be about to hurl from the tension coiled tight in his belly. Jensen hasn’t not touched him since they got back in the Jeep and Jared feels like all his defenses are just stripped to the bone.Since they left the store, Jared’s done nothing but try to figure out a way to make Jensen see reason. Pathetically, he knows deep inside that he’s not going to try too hard, though. He wants—no, needs—Jensen too badly and he’s just not sure he can fight it anymore. In his heart of hearts he worries that he’s not trying hard enough.

“Earth to Jay-red,” Jensen jokes and bumps his shoulder before following him out of the car and into the house.

Chad’s already unpacking their dinner from the bags and the smell of meat literally makes Jared’s mouth water. And when Chad opens the cupboard over the bar and reaches up, Jared figures he’s getting the plates or something. When a bottle of wine appears, he knows his mouth is hanging open.

“Where’d you get that?”

Chad just smirks and reaches back up for three glasses. “Hey, I may not have the most noble job in the world, but it has its perks.”

“What is your job, exactly?” Jensen asks, low and dangerous. “Besides the obvious.”

It doesn’t look like Jensen’s words even faze Chad, but Jared makes himself busy with a corkscrew Chad’s produced and cuts a pleading look at Jensen. He knows Chad. Considers him one of his best friends. It’s hard for Jared to believe anything other than Chad was just trying to help them out with a pretty shitty situation. It’s not like he’s seen a lot of options so far.

“I’m their man Friday,” he says, popping a piece of bread in his mouth as he talks. “Needless to say, everyone involved likes to keep a low profile, so if a new client wants information, I meet with ‘em, give ‘em the low down and take their information to pass on. There may not be much law around anymore, but… .” He shrugs and pours the open wine. “Compared to the alternatives, it’s a sweet deal.”

“And I guess part of your job is pimping for them…finding new meat for the House?” Jensen’s bitterness pours out with his words. “What’s your bonus gonna be, Chad, for me and Jared? For pimping your best friend?”

Jared’s mouth drops open and before he recovers enough to voice his what the fuck thoughts, Chad’s practically climbing over the bar and in Jensen’s face and Jared just knows he’s never seen Chad that pissed off.

“Listen, Ackles! I’m not the one who showed up on your door looking for help. I’m not the one,” and he looked almost apologetically to Jared, “who’s gonna die without medicine that is worth its weight in plutonium.”

Jensen’s turning red and Jared foresees fists flying and blood spraying. But Chad’s not done. “You don’t like the way things are, fuck you very much! Life’s over the way you knew it. And before you go ass-uming anything about me, think about where else you’re going to get what JT needs so he can stay alive to keep sucking your cock.”

“Chad.” Jared keeps his voice even, leans back on his stool and stares at them both, ready to go for Jensen’s arm if he takes a swing or maybe even step between them if necessary. What he really needs to do is separate them. Let everybody cool the fuck down.

“Jen.” Jared puts lays a hand on Jensen’s arm and pulls him back a step. “Why don’t you go take a shower. I wanna talk to Chad alone.”

Of course Jensen’s about ready to argue, but Jared pulls out all the big guns and just glares at Jensen, setting his jaw in a way his family would have recognized as big trouble. Apparently, he gets his message across, because Jensen narrows his eyes at Chad and jabs his finger toward him.

“Yeah. Okay. We’re not done, Murray.” Jensen points and without waiting for Chad’s retort, spins around and heads toward his and Jared’s room.

The kitchen feels unnaturally quiet for a minute until Chad slams his hand down flat on the counter, making Jared start a little.

“Jesus fuck, Chad. The hell?” Jared drops onto his barstool and reaches out to pour himself a very full glass of wine.

“What?” Chad looks defensive and just totally un-Chadlike, as far as Jared’s concerned. But then, he wonders just how much he must have changed to Chad, thanks to the months on the road, living and traveling day-to-day, never knowing what tomorrow was going to bring.

He can almost feel the anger radiating from Chad and remembers his wish the day before that he would not have to choose between friend and lover. Jared sighs and scrubs up his face and into his hair with long fingers.

“What?” Jared parrots. “Let’s start with you about ready to crawl up Jensen’s ass just because he asked you some questions? And for that matter, I’d kinda like to know, too. How’d you get pulled into this shit with this Claudia person?”

Chad’s expression shuts down and his mouth tightens in stubborn silence. “I don’t have to explain myself to you or anyone else, JT, so just back the fuck off.” Chad sloshes wine in his glass and takes a deep breath, turning his back on Jared.

There’s another minute of awkward silence and Jared’s ready to go join Jensen in their room when Chad turns back around. “Look – the world? Is totally fucked up now. I don’t have a clue what it was like for you guys hoofing it from Vancouver, but I do know that staying in this city – just trying to stay alive and taking care of me and Kenzie – is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And there’s fuck-all for work now, so me? I gotta do what I gotta do. And I’m real sorry it’s gotta be this way, man, but this is just how it is.”

Jared tilts his head, thinking and replaying Chad’s words. He’s not stupid. He knows just how different things are. Yeah, so they’re not finding the help they thought they’d get in LA, so it’s time to regroup – rethink things. Slowly he nods and holds his hand out to Chad.

“I know, buddy. Forget it.” Chad reaches out and they shake.

“I’m just gonna go… gonna talk to Jen. Figure out what we want to do next. See ya in the morning, ‘k?”

Chad just nods and takes a long pull from his wine glass before refilling it.

Jensen’s skin ripples when Jared opens the stall door and crowds in with him, but he doesn’t move, forehead against the tile.”Did you mean it?”

“Mean what?” Jensen’s voice sounds gluey and nasal to his ears and he’s tired. Man. He’s so fucking tired.

“I don’t know.” Jared shuffles uncomfortably in the small space. “Fuck. I don’t know. Any of it.”

Jensen sighs, opens his eyes and turns around. “Any of what? What the hell are we even talking about, Jay?”

Jared leans back against the rear shower wall, hands flat and his hips canted out. Despite himself, Jensen’s eyes trace and linger on the long, lean contours of Jared’s body, hungry for the sight of him. Not just his cock, pretty as it is, but for the way Jared’s put together, strong and solid. Jared’s just the kind of guy Jensen’s always been into, when he goes for guys. Like Jeff. Like Michael.

Except Jared is nothing like Michael. Jared needs him. Jared needs him and Jared needs him to do this. Not that Jared would ever ask any such thing of him, which is just another way that this is so different from Michael. So different.

“What are we doing?” Jared asks him. “Because…” Jared’s eyes falter and that stabs Jensen down deep because Jared can always look him straight in the eyes, “‘Cause I don’t know, Jen. I just… I don’t know what the hell is going on. And it scares me.”

Jensen’s breath sighs out of him. “Jay…”

“I do love you, Jen,” Jared says, and his voice is so soft, Jensen can barely hear him over the shower. Jensen turns around and shuts off the spray, hand aching from where he hit the tile over and over again. He doesn’t really care if Chad notices the cracked tile but he hopes Jared doesn’t.

Jared’s hand touches Jensen’s shoulder, shoves him around, pushes him into the wall. “Jen. Look at me.”

Jensen does.

Because I love you,” Jared says, holding Jensen there just by the power of his one hand, just by the power he has over Jensen, period. “Because I love you I don’t want you to do this. I don’t want… I think about someone else touching you… I don’t want it. Just Jeff was bad enough. I don’t want…”

“Stop,” Jensen says, but there’s no strength in his voice. He shakes his head doggedly, starting to get cold now as the steam and heat dissipates from the shower. “It’s just acting. It’s just… I can do that. I can act. It’s what I’m good at.” He pushes against Jared’s hand, reaches out to flatten his own fingers on Jared’s damp skin, feeling the dull thud of his heart. “But I can’t…” Another shake of his head. “Watch you die. Especially if there was something I could do about it. Don’t ask me to do that. Don’t ask me to just…walk away like I don’t give a shit.”

“It’s not like that…”

“It is like that,” Jensen insists. “Jared… You said together.”

“Okay, but…”

“No, not okay, but…,” Jensen inches closer again, “together, Jay. I took that seriously. I need you to take it seriously, too.”

“I can’t ask you to do this,” Jared says, miserable and pinched.

“You’re not asking me to do anything. I’m asking you; let me do this. Let me help. Let me help us. Because we will get out of here. And we will go home—really home.”

“Jen…I don’t know if I can do this.” Jared’s voice shakes a little.

Jensen pauses, leans back a little on his heels. “What do you want to do, Jared? ‘Cause I’ll back your play whatever it is. You want to try and go, without the medicine, we can leave tomorrow. If you want to see if we can get in with one of the other players in town that Chad was talking about, we can do that too. I don’t care.”

“I just don’t know what to do,” Jared admits. “I don’t know what the right thing is. It all just…sucks. I don’t want to die.”

“You won’t,” Jensen answers with every bit of sincerity and ability he can project. “It’s just acting, Jay. And it’s just for a little while.”

Jared nods, looking down at his feet. Jensen tips up, lets his lips caress over Jared’s. Jared’s mouth opens to him right away, without hesitation and that too is so different from anything Jensen’s had before. Jared’s arms sliding around him, pulling him close. Jared coming after him, checking on him, holding him up, holding him together. Jared almost dying, to save his life.

Jensen’s not sure what he won’t do, to have this, long after he’d given up consciously even thinking it’s possible.

Fairy-tale romances are for girls and pussies, Jensen, and I’m neither one. It’s been fun and all, but what did you think was going to happen here? We’d move in together and have a commitment ceremony and buy ‘his’ and ‘his’ towels? C’mon.

“You’re shaking,” Jared says suddenly, his face pulling back even as his arms tighten. “God, you’re probably freezing; let’s get you out of here.”

He manhandles Jensen out of the shower and Jensen lets him, lets Jared scrub him down with one of Chad’s towels, push him into the bedroom, into their bed. Jared curls up behind him, already radiating heat. In an hour, Jensen knows he’ll be sweating and throwing the covers back.

“I’m sorry, Jen,” Jared rumbles, the edges on his words softening and crumbling away. “Won’t try t’leave again. Not ‘thout you.”

Of course, that’s still an hour away.

Thank you, God.

Jensen closes his eyes and pushes back into the curve of Jared’s body.

Jared’s already dressed, buttoning up his second shirt when Jensen wakes up, feeling more refreshed than he has in month, despite sleeping with Jared the human-furnace.“Umgh,” Jensen smacks out through dry lips, licks them and tries again. “We gotta be somewhere?”

Jared grins and its Jensen’s only warning before he takes a running leap onto the bed, landing squarely across Jensen’s middle.

“Fuck, Jay, I gotta piss. You want me to do it in the bed?” Jensen sounds grumpy and put out but his eyes tell Jared a different story.

Jared rolls his eyes and rolls off Jensen, pulling the sheet and light blanket with him, leaving Jensen laying naked in the cool morning air. “Then go. Go pee, get dressed and get ready. We got things to do today.”

While Jensen gets his shit together, Jared heads down the hall, already hearing Chad in the kitchen. The coffee smell is as good today as it was yesterday.

“What’s on the agenda today?” Jared asks Chad, pouring his own coffee and just holding it between both hands up to his nose.

Chad shrugs. “Nothin’ really. Why?”

“Can we borrow the Jeep?” Jared looks over the rim of his cup before taking a large gulp and setting it down. “I wanna see who else we can find in the city. Jensen’s got some friends and I need to know what’s up with Rachel and the kids.”

At Chad’s confused look, Jared explains. “Rachel’s one of the PAs on set…was a PA. She took the dogs with her a couple of days before Jen and I left Vancouver. Was gonna dogsit till I could get here. I have no idea what happened, if she made it or if the dogs are okay. I gotta check on them.”

“Oh, sure, man. Totally get that. You gotta find Sadie and Harley.” Jared remembers how the two hounds and Chad would wrestle on the floor of his townhouse in Vancouver the couple times he visited Jared.

Chad chews on his thumbnail again and Jared realizes it’s a new habit he’s picked up since last time they saw each other. Matter of fact, all of his nails appear to be bitten down to the quick with messy, ragged edges.

Finally, Chad nods. “Lemme run a quick errand. Shouldn’t take more than an hour. Then you guys can have it for the rest of the day. But I got rules.”

Jared quirks his mouth into a curious grin. “You got rules? Since when?”

Chad looks irritated for a few seconds, but Jared’s not even sure he read that right when he laughs. “Hey, it’s not like there’s just cars all over the place, if you haven’t noticed. You gotta lock it up and put the club on it whenever you’re going to be out of sight of it. And for fuck’s sake, don’t stop in any bad neighborhoods. Someone’ll slit your throats and take it as soon as look at you in some parts of town.”

Jared’s looking really alarmed at this news when Jensen walks in, running fingers through his wet hair where he’d tried to get rid of his bed head.

“What?” he asks at Jared’s expression.

“Oh, I was just telling him when you guys take the Jeep out today, you gotta be careful with it and watch your backs.”

Jared’s recovered by now and asks, “So, what exactly are the bad places we’re supposed to avoid now?” While he’s talking to Chad, Jared’s eyes track Jensen’s progress across the kitchen to the coffee pot.

“Sherman Oaks is still pretty safe; porn industry protects it’s own, right?” Chad snickers. “Santa Monica’s completely thrashed though. And West LA is sketchy. I don’t recommend it, if you’re not carrying. Other than that…it kind of shifts. Just…keep your eye out and don’t get my fucking ride stolen. Or your asses killed,” he adds as an afterthought.

Jared and Jensen studiously avoid discussion of Claudia, the House or her offer. Instead, they work on who they’ll try to see first and which ways they’ll get there, considering the areas Chad’s warned them from.Jensen, always more practical, remembers to wash their clothes and by the time Chad’s back, they have a clean set to wear, even if the jeans are still a little damp.

Jared can almost – almost – believe things are like they used to be when they’re both riding down the boulevard of Chad’s neighborhood, though in the normal run of things, they’d probably have the top down on such a gorgeous day. Chad warned them about that too. Jared reaches and puts his hand atop Jensen’s resting on the gearshift. Jensen’s eyes don’t leave the road but a small, satisfied smile curves his lips and he reaches up with his thumb to stroke Jared’s hand.

They’ve decided to hit Rachel’s first, since a) she lives closest to Chad and b) Jared is about to crawl out of his skin to find out what happened to Sadie and Harley.

Jared’s heart plummets down into his stomach when they pull up to her building and find a boarded up front door and lots of white and yellow paper flapping in the late morning breeze. The place is obviously abandoned. The tenants deserted or were evicted; doesn’t matter.

When Jensen reaches over to touch him, Jared just shifts, moving his leg out of range while trying so god damn hard not to cry. Fuck. He hears Jensen get out, then walk around into his field of vision, checking out the papers tacked and taped to the glass still left in busted and shot out windows.

“Jay! Come ‘ere! It’s another bulletin board!” His voice is high-pitched, excited. Jared jumps over the door of the jeep and is beside Jensen in seconds, scanning the scrawled notes decorating the building.

He starts to read, half to himself, half out loud. “Gone to Mexico,” he mumbles, moving quickly down to the signature scrawled at the bottom before moving on to the next one. headed home is all one piece says, not signed at all. Dana’s gone, no reason to stay. Don’t try to find me. Jared wonders what took the obviously well-loved Dana. Flu or allergy?

“Here!” Jensen is bouncing on his toes, reaching out to yank Jared closer to read the note with neatly printed block letters on a sheet from a yellow legal pad. Jared – Don’t worry. Dogs are safe with me. Catching a ride to my folks place in Utah. Good luck, Rachel. A Moab, Utah, address follows. No phone number, of course. Why bother when telecommunications has been out for over three months. Jared scans back up to the top. The note’s dated July 10. Almost two months ago. Rachel’d hung on a long time before jumping ship. And the kids are safe. Or were in July.

Jared takes a deep breath and surprises himself when he exhales a soft sob. He tugs the paper from its pinhead fastening and folds it before sliding it into his back pocket. Jensen’s arm circles his waist and Jared takes comfort from Jensen’s fingers, resting possessively on his hip.

They make their way in silence to their next stop. Steve’s been Jensen’s friend for years. He’s probably the closest thing to family Jensen has in LA. Hopefully, they’ll get some answers. Hopefully, Steve is doing okay. Is still around.

An hour later they’re knocking on the doors of the tiny bungalows neighboring Steve’s house. Most people won’t even open their doors, just yell for them to get off their property. Get away from their door.

Steve’s house looks lived in, Jared supposes, if he wasn’t much of a housekeeper and didn’t care if the roaches were taking over his kitchen. Jensen wouldn’t accept that Steve had just disappeared. His house had been locked, yeah. But not boarded up. Not really abandoned, either. Just empty and kinda trashed like nobody’d cleaned up after the last party.

After covering the whole block, Jared heads back to the Jeep, seeing that Jensen is already there, talking to someone.

“Hey, no luck,” he reports, but Jensen isn’t paying him any attention. He’s listening intently to the guy standing on the other side of the Jeep – keeping his distance, but willing to relay what little information he has.

Jensen turns to Jared. “Steve was here last week. But that’s the last time he’s seen him.” Jensen points to the swarthy looking man, no older than twenty, Jared would guess. The man nods, but doesn’t leave them.

Jared wants to ask more questions, but it seems Jensen’s gotten all the information he’s going to. “Look, man, thanks so much. It’s good to know someone we know was around not long ago.” He looks a little embarrassed and Jensen shrugs and holds up his hands. “Um – I wish we had something to give you – to thank you. But we just hit town and this is our buddy’s car.”

Steve’s friend shrugs back, looks kinda sad and disappointed, but turns to head back down the street. They pass him in the Jeep a minute later when they head back out and Jared feels like he should have been able to offer the guy something. He’s just not used to having nothing.

After a few blocks, Jensen asks him where to next. Jared looks out his window, thinking – pondering their options. It all keeps coming back to just one.

“Let’s go back to Chad’s,” is all he says and Jensen turns the Jeep around, heading back the way they’d come.

Chad’s not home when they get there, but Jared’s got other things on his mind. He marches Jensen to their room and then backs him up until his legs hit the bed and he sits hard. But Jared doesn’t have sex on his mind – or at least not that kind of sex. He takes the chair in the corner of the bedroom, leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees and pins Jensen with a sharp, penetrating look.“You would fuck someone else…,” he sniffs loudly and exhales slow, “…other people. You’d do this for me?” He still doesn’t believe Jensen possibly knows what he’s offering. A ghosting tickle in the back of his throat reminds him what’s at stake.

Jensen relaxes, like he’s relieved that’s what all this is about. Jared’s not sure what Jen was expecting. “Jay, everything I said this morning? So not a lie. What would that gain me? Like I said — it’s acting. We’re actors.”

Jensen gets up and takes the few steps to Jared and kneels beside the chair, putting a hand on each arm, effectively trapping Jared in his seat. “What I’m worried about is you. I know what I can do. I don’t think you quite realize it yet.” One hand drops to Jared’s knee and he massages over Jared’s thigh, letting the slight pressure of his thumb smooth over the rough fabric of Jared’s jeans. “Like I said. I’ll follow your lead. We might have more options…”

And Jared cuts him off with two fingers to his lips. “No, we don’t. I’m not going to try anymore to convince myself and you that we have more options right now. Everyone we know is gone. I’m starting to think we were way damned luckier than we thought to find Chad still here. And Chad had some contacts and he tried to help.”

When Jensen starts to protest that, Jared shakes his head. “No, he was trying to help. It’s all he had to offer. And it’s all that’s left to us as long as we’re here. So listen.” Jared slides out of the chair, joining Jensen on the floor “Listen. Claudia said it was an “at will” contract. We can walk out anytime we want. So, we do it just for a short while. We do it long enough to save enough for the meds I might need to get us to Texas. Then we leave. We don’t look back. And we forget it ever happened.”

Jensen’s answer is a soft kiss to Jared’s lips, moving out to the corner of his mouth, then to lick beneath his ear before whispering, “I’m gonna be there with you, baby. Together we can do it.”

Jared turns his head slightly, draws Jensen into a tight embrace for a real kiss. A kiss to try to convey what Jensen means to him. What they mean to him. It’s deep and sloppy and satisfying. Almost.

The low moan coming from Jensen has Jared wanting more than a kiss. “Get on the bed,” he instructs.

“In the middle of the day?” Jared thinks Jensen has never looked so good – so sexy – as he does right this moment with a teasing twinkle in his eyes and his lips parted just enough that Jared can see the pink of his tongue. His answer is simply to growl and manhandle Jensen backwards till they’re both tumbling onto the bed. “What a slut you’ve become, Mr. Padalecki.”

If it wasn’t for the fact they have very limited clothing resources, Jared would just rip the shirt right over Jensen’s head. As it is, the only casualty is a button that pops free and flies across the room when Jared’s shaking fingers won’t cooperate to his satisfaction.

“If I am, it’s ’cause of you,” Jared says gruffly. “Want you. Need you, Jen. God, you got no idea…”

Jensen pauses and raises his head from Jared’s neck, where a nice bruise is already filling with blood beneath the skin. “So fuck me, Jay.” And Jared knows he’s never seen a porn star look more wanton and ready than Jensen does right now. “Come on.”


Jensen pulls back sharply, green eyes flicking warily over Jared’s face. Jared realizes he’s been misunderstood by the almost-hurt look in Jensen’s eyes. “No, Jen. I mean I don’t want to just fuck you. Gonna make love to you.”

For about half a minute they stare into each other’s eyes until Jared cracks up laughing into Jensen’s neck. Jensen snickers right along with him, but his hands are busy elsewhere, tugging at Jared’s belt and shoving the shirt off his shoulders before pulling the cotton tee over Jared’s head, leaving his long hair flying every which way. Jared wonders if they’ll let him cut it, at the Compound. It’s getting out of hand.

“I tell you what. You go on and make slow, sweet love to me. But I’m gonna suck your brains out through your dick first.” Jensen flops down on the bed, pulls Jared over him. “That okay with you, lover boy?”

Jared’s dick thinks that’s just mighty fine and he shucks the rest of his clothes before crawling over Jensen to sprawl on the other side of the bed. And before he can say, I’m all yours, Jensen bends over him, tongue flicking at the pale, soft skin on Jared’s inner thigh. Jared hears Jensen inhale deeply. It’s something Jensen does a lot, now that Jared’s noticing, and the thought that Jensen likes his smell, wants to smell more, makes Jared’s hips hitch upward and his legs spread wider. “Jen…”

“Hush.” Jensen’s palm soothes against Jared’s belly. His lips butterfly over the thick head of Jared’s cock, lapping at the thick, clear rush of pre-come that Jared can’t control.

It starts out light and playful at first. But by the time Jensen’s cheeks make shallow bowls from sucking on Jared’s cock, eyes closed so that those obscenely long lashes almost brush the freckles under his eyes, Jared is promising to do the most delicious, dirty things to Jensen’s ass as soon as he lets him up. He’s not struggling too hard yet, however.

Jared almost forgets to stop him—pull Jensen’s pouty, swollen lips off his cock before he blows his wad—but manages to grunt out a warning long enough to make Jensen pause, giving Jared the second he needs to string two words together.

“Fuck you.” There. That message should be loud and clear.

Jensen sits up. His lips, chin and nose are wet and shiny with their mingled fluids. Jared just moans and sits up, biting the inside of his cheek to tamp down the orgasm that’s way closer than he wants.

“Roll over, baby.” The words are almost a plea and Jensen smiles and reaches out to caress Jared’s face before flipping himself over, shoulders down, ass raised, making it perfectly clear he’s with the program.

Jared’s dick wants to protest the loss of Jensen’s slick, hot mouth, but he shuts it up with a quick squeeze to the base and reaches over to the nightstand where the lube is still out from the night before.

He kinda wants to rethink the whole doggie-style thing because he loves watching Jensen’s face when he’s buried deep inside and they’ve got their rhythm going. But the sight of Jensen’s ass, so perfect, ready and willing… Well. He just can’t be responsible for wanting to get down and dirty with that.

Jared starts with his mouth. By now, he’s learned a great appreciation for rimming. Both receiving and giving. The familiar taste of Jensen explodes on his tongue and he’s lost in a wash of hunger to be as close to Jensen as possible, when he feels fingers scrabbling at his scalp and realizes Jensen is talking to him.

“…fuck me, Jay. Come on.” And Jared knows he did not just hear Jensen whine to be fucked. “Fuck, feels so good, but want you inside me.”

Jared gives one last, lingering lick to Jensen’s glistening hole before grabbing the lube by Jensen’s shoulder and slicking his fingers in a now familiar ritual.

Jensen’s never asked Jared to let him fuck him. Truthfully, Jared’s not sure he’s ready for that step yet, even with everything between them. But this… Just the idea. The concept that Jensen is his and he can do this whenever he wants still ranks right up at the top of life’s great mysteries for Jared.

Not bothering with the usual preliminaries, Jared starts off with two fingers. They slide into Jensen so easy, like puzzle pieces falling into place. And when he curls them up at the right spot, Jensen’s guttural moans echo through the entire house. Jared watches the muscles flex and roll under lightly furred thighs.

“’m ready, Jay. Please.” And Jared is reminded that there isn’t a thing Jensen would ask of him that he would not do or die trying.

Jared leans in to kiss Jensen’s firm, perfect cheek, then lightly moves his lips across lower back as he slowly slides in another finger, feeling Jensen’s muscles loosen around him. Jensen’s moan is pleading, desperate. Between his spread thighs, his cock is so red, hard as steel.

Jared lubes his cock, left-hand awkward, in time with his thrusts into Jensen. When he slides in, the slick sucking sound of Jensen pulling him in—pulling him home—almost makes Jared come on the spot. “Jensen,” he whispers instead, struggling to keep it even, to make it good. He pulls out except for a final inch and looks down where they are joined, blown away by the wash of love and pure need he feels for this man.


Jensen’s ass wiggles and shifts just enough to swallow Jared back in. Really, Jared can’t be responsible for the way his fingers dig into Jensen’s sweaty hips. He feels the firm muscles give under his touch and he grips the best he can while rocking his hips in and out, backward and forward, never able to take his eyes off the juncture of their bodies.

When Jensen reaches beneath himself to take cock in hand, Jared finally closes his eyes and succumbs to the pull of climax that he’s been fighting off forever, it seems.

“Come for me, baby,” he demands of Jensen and just like that Jensen’s arm stutters and Jared bites hard on his lower lip at the slapping sounds of Jensen’s hand on himself.

“Aw, yeah… Oh, god.” It’s words Jared’s heard many times from the girls he’s fucked, but never has he felt so proud to hear them as when Jensen groans and twitches through his orgasm, milking Jared deep, so deep.

With a final slam to the sweet spot, Jared’s breath catches. He marks his own climax with nail marks carved into Jensen’s sides. “Fuck, fuck…oh, fuck!” he grunts before he stills over Jensen, his chest to Jensen’s sweat dappled back. When he leans in to kiss Jensen’s neck, licking at the rivulets of perspiration pooling in the crease of his collarbone, Jared whispers, “Together. We do this together.”

Fifteen minutes later, they finally manage to separate and collapse next to each other, panting and still buzzed from the sex. The front door opens and slams, signaling Chad’s return. Jared opens one eye.

The back of Jensen’s hand roams aimlessly across Jared’s belly, up his chest, around a nipple, then back down. His sensation of utter fulfillment is broken only by the reminder that they’re not alone anymore. They’re in a world where the idea of control over one’s own life has been swiped away by a few molecules of deadly virus and dirt.

Jared sits up, trying to muster the energy to get up and get cleaned before Chad yells something rude down the hall. Not that he really cares, but he’d like to keep the peace between Jen and Chad in these last few hours that they’re guests here. He looks down at Jensen who is smiling up at him lazily and can’t help but answer with one of his own, but he feels his mouth is twisted wrong for it to be quite real.

“So, we doing this?” he asks Jensen.

“Yeah.” Jensen’s response is barely a whisper, then louder, “Yeah. Let’s do this thing.”


It’s barely light outside, but Jared’s been awake for a good half-hour. He can already smell coffee, so he knows Chad is up as well and wonders when that boy became an early riser.Jensen’s still sleeping, giving Jared the chance to really look at him unobserved and without comment. For someone as gorgeous as he is, Jensen gets weird about his looks, about being looked at. Jensen looks even younger when he sleeps, freckles dark and boyish. His eyes look almost bruised with fatigue, though, and Jared’s pretty sure the crow’s feet at the corners—the ones he always thought were so cute—are deeper.

So tired. Jensen looks so goddamn tired. They both are. The sojourn out in the city yesterday reminds him just how lucky they’ve been to get this far. To still be alive, even. They could have died so many times on the road. They could have found no one left alive to take them in, let alone someone as…advantageously positioned to help them as Chad. What if they were the ones living in a tent in the park or scavenging for rotten meat or dog flesh just to have something to eat?

Jared realizes he’s an optimist. Or, as his father called him, naïve. But he chooses to believe there’s a silver lining in every situation. And it’s hard, but Jared’s still trying to find one, even now.

They need to stop. Need time to rest and regroup. They can’t keep relying on their luck to see them through. Fate has offered them the perfect opportunity to not only do just that, but save up enough to stockpile some meds for Jared’s allergies. Given everything else he’s seen happening, Jared really doesn’t think this would be possible anywhere else.

It’s only temporary, he reminds himself. Just for a little while.

Jared climbs out of bed and pulls on his boxers to pad barefoot to the kitchen, scratching his belly lazily. “Hey, yo, Chad—” He’s already halfway into asking Chad if he can drive them to The Compound in a little bit when he realizes something isn’t right.


He’s still confused about how he and Chad stand. It’s one thing to know your best friend is kind of an asshole. It’s just a little bit different to know he’s profiting from peddling your ass to a whorehouse. But they’ve got years of friendship between them and for as hurt and puzzled as he feels, Jared’s not the kind of man that can ignore that.

He comes up behind his friend as Chad raises his head from his crossed arms on the counter. “Chad, what’s wrong?”

“Nuthin’,” Chad’s reply is automatic, if a little choked. When Chad turns around, Jared can tell that he either slept very little or not at all. His eyes look red, suspiciously watery.

After a deep sniff and sleeved arm wiped across his mouth and nose, Chad brushes past Jared and makes himself busy with a coffee cup. “Nothin’, JT,” he says again, like Jared contradicted him. “Just couldn’t sleep with you two fucking your brains out back there.”

It’s a lie and they both know it. After Chad came back to the house, he and Jensen had been too tired to go at it again. But Chad’s never let the truth get in the way of a good snark. Jared changes tack.

“Something happen? Is it Kenzie?” At the mention of his wife’s name, Chad’s shoulders tense and his blue gaze pierces Jared through and through.

“Back off, Jared. I can take care of me and mine.”

Jared’s mouth feels sour with more than morning breath. So this is the brand new world. “Yeah, man. Okay. Whatever.” He turns around and starts trudging back to the guest room to wake up Jensen. He thinks they’ve just overstayed their welcome.

Jared suggests they shower together, as their usual, “to save water”, but Jensen begs off.”Yeah, okay,” Jared says. He looks like a kicked puppy, but Jensen can’t do it. He just…

“I just need like…five minutes, man. Swear.”

Jared nods and starts rummaging through their luggage. “Don’t use all the hot water, asshole.”

Jensen grins and flicks him in the ass with his towel, but his smile fades fast once he’s closed the bathroom door behind him. He turns on the water and then sits on the toilet, running the towel through his hands.

Today he is going to let Chad drive them to La Hacienda. He is going to walk into that den of iniquity and he is going to sign a contract to become a whore. Not a whore like his grandma sometimes kids him, with the acting, but an actual, honest-to…goodness, whore.

It’s not like it’s a completely foreign concept; he’s had his share of casting couch close calls, heard stories from those that actually went through with it. And towards the end, right before the cancellation but after everything blew up, things had felt a bit like that on Dark Angel.

But it’s not the same.

It’s like acting, he said to Jared. I can do that.

But the truth is that he doesn’t know if he really can. He hasn’t always been the best man he could, the best Christian. He’s fucked up and fucked around and done things he was less than proud of.

But he never whored himself. Never, not once.

There’s a pounding on the door. Jensen jumps up like he’s burned and darts over to the shower, jumping into the stall. “Yeah?”

Jared opens the door and pokes his head through. “You seen my inhaler? I can’t find it.”

Jensen shakes his head. “Nah. Maybe Chad took it back? It is a ‘valuable commodity’ after all.” He means it mostly as a joke, but something about the face Jared makes shows him that it wasn’t taken that way. “Ask him.”

“Nah.” Jared shrugs, too careless. “I’ll just work something out with Claudia when we get to the Compound. That’s why we’re going in the first place, right?”

“Right,” Jensen agrees uncertainly, unsure what exactly he’s agreeing to.

“Right,” Jared echoes a second time and ducks back out before Jensen can say anything else.

The water’s already only lukewarm; Jensen lathers up fast.

God, I love him. I love him so much. Help me. Help me do this, help me be strong enough. Forgive me… Forgive me for what I’m about to do. Because right now, I don’t see another way.

It’s noon before Chad gets them to La Hacienda and today they’re waved right through. Chad turns the Jeep down toward what Jared has dubbed “the servant’s entrance.”This time when the air-splitting crack of a gunshot echoes around them, neither Jared nor Jensen jump.

‘Sparky’ stops them with the golf cart parked sideways across the path. Jared’s never seen one used as size compensation, but given the way the guard seems to be attached to it, he’s pretty sure that’s what it is.

“You just love to make me walk, don’t you Gordon?” Chad sneers and motions them to follow.

“It is my one true joy in life, Chad,” the guard answers expressionlessly.

Jared thinks he’ll just keep referring to him as ‘Sparky’.

At the side entrance where they met Claudia the day before, another guard is stationed and opens the door for them. The kitchen isn’t nearly as loud and clattering as it had been with a party going on, but there are still several people dressed in chef’s jackets busy at their respective stations.

Chad stops suddenly, causing Jared to bump into his back and Jensen to almost trip over Jared before realizing they’ve walked in on a dressing down of some kind by Claudia.

“…and since I know you know better, in addition to the cost of the beverages being taken out of your portfolio, you can take a couple extra clients at the party Saturday night, Gary.”

Jared knows that face. The light brown skin that makes the pale green eyes that much more striking, startling. Who could forget once they’ve seen him on CSI. Gary. Yeah, Gary something. Gah; Jared’s horrible at names. It’s a fault that’s gotten him into trouble—or at least majorly embarrassed—on more than one occasion.

So, yeah, he knows the guy. And right now that face is exhibiting marked signs of resentment and rebellion. Claudia doesn’t seem to be fazed by either and Jared has a feeling she can stand up to just about anyone’s attitude. And give it back in spades.

“Am I clear this time?” Claudia prompts the slouching Gary Something-or-Other slumped at the table. Jared sees the remains of a sandwich and two empty beer bottles. Must be the beer he isn’t supposed to have. Or at least not that beer.

“Yeah. Sure.” The muttered words are laced with barely-concealed insolence, but his eyes are cast down and he’s fiddling nervously with the peeling label on one of the bottles.

“Good. I’ll expect to see you shortly after noon then. Our special guests will be here early.”

With that, Claudia completely dismisses Gary and turns to her new visitors.

“Well, I have to say, I didn’t expect to see you two back so soon. Oh Chad, wait a moment before you leave. I have a letter I’d like delivered sometime today. Preferably before 3 p.m.”

Claudia pulls a small brown envelope out of her planner and hands it to Chad, who’s getting ready to leave Jared and Jensen to their business, as Jared requested. He’s pretty sure Jensen won’t appreciate having to take this woman’s offer in front of Chad.

“Sure thing, Claude,” Chad grins, takes the envelope and waves ‘bye’ to Jared. Jared waves back and wonders if this is it, the end of him and Chad. It hurts, sharp and pointed, but it’s lost in the rest of his anxiety about this day, this choice. Jared puts his hand on the back of Jensen’s neck and squeezes. It’s mostly for him, but Jensen turns his head and gives Jared a taut little smile and Jared thinks maybe it’s for both of them.

Claudia waits until Chad is gone and the door is secured before addressing Jensen. “Do I take it this means you have come to a decision?”

Before Jensen can answer—and he’s got that floundering look, like he’s having a hard time forming the words anyway—Jared speaks up. “Uh. Yeah. We have and we’d like to talk to you… In private?” Jared glances at Gary Whatsisname, who watches them with mild interest from his seat at the table, but casts his eyes back down when Jared looks his way.

“Very good. Shall we adjourn to my office?” It is, of course, a rhetorical question and Jensen and Jared find themselves following Claudia down the hallway again.

She isn’t in party clothes today, although Jared can’t exactly call what she is wearing daywear; a halter-topped black jumpsuit, decorated simply with a gold pin—some kind of arty bird—over one breast. She’s had a manicure since yesterday; her nails at both hands and feet are fresh, blood red today.

The jumpsuit emphasizes the sweet womanly swing of her hips. On the one hand, Jared has no doubt that it’s deliberate; everything about Claudia is. On the other, she seems to come by her sensuousness naturally, a grown-up woman rather than an overly made-up little girl. It’s been months since he’s thought of Sandy at all—since the break-up, anyway—but he wonders if that was part of the problem. He realizes belatedly she’s pointing out the various rooms as they pass several closed doors and tries to pay closer attention.

“The clinic is in the back of the house. There is an outside entrance, as well, but you can access it from that hallway there, last door on the right. Someone will be in the clinic twenty-four hours a day, should you have an attack.” She looks at Jared and he nods, to show he’s following along. “This wing is mostly administrative and you shouldn’t see any clients back here, or in the employee dorms. If you do, report it to Michelle and she’ll handle it. And them. Remember, she gets paid to be a bitch. You do not.”

When they’re at her office door, Claudia stops and turns to face them. “Just a moment,” she says. “Please go in and have a seat. I must make some…arrangements and will be right back.” Jared’s not reassured by her slight hesitation and apparently, neither is Jensen, as he looks questioningly at her, then back to Jared, but Claudia’s already turned to continue down the hall, speaking into the headset which seems to be a permanent part of her.

“Well?” Jared asks Jensen who’s in front of him at the door.

Jensen opens it and Jared somehow feels they are walking into the lion’s den.

Claudia returns before Jared’s has a chance to do more than catch a couple of titles from the bookshelf behind her desk. She settles herself comfortably behind her desk, all business. Jared’s sweating from nerves and realizes he hasn’t felt like this since the casting call he’d answered for Supernatural.Long, dark nails tap on the arms of her chair. Jared looks at Jensen, allowing him to take the lead. He has no idea what to say to the woman. Where to begin.

Jensen clears his throat and crosses an ankle over one knee, settling in for business. For all Jensen’s shyness, Jared knows Jensen’s better at this part than he is.

“Claudia– Ms. Black,” Jensen begins, but bright red patches are already spreading across his cheeks. Before he can continue, she raises a long finger and this time Jared feels her smile might almost be real.

“You may call me Claudia in private. Everyone does. Within hearing of clients or in public, I will always be addressed as Mistress Black.” The ironic twist of her lips tells Jared the title isn’t exactly her idea.

Jensen nods and Jared reads relief on his face. “Claudia. We’ve uh… talked it over. Discussed our options and…”

Jared catches Jensen’s attention, trying to reassure him—let him know he’s right here with him—but meeting Jared’s eyes seems to have turned Jensen mute and Jared sees the weird panicky look start far back in Jensen’s bright eyes.

His turn. Jared clears his throat, trying to will away the nervous tickle in the deep of his throat. “And we’ve decided to accept your offer for a short period of time.”

Claudia nods, as if unsurprised and Jared feels a heat flush the back of his neck and the tips of his ears. “You’ve read the contract?” she asks.

Jared nods. “Yeah. More than a couple times. But you’re right; I don’t think we’re going to find a better offer for the time being.”

“All right.” Her acceptance of their choice fills the silent room. Claudia returns her attention to Jensen. “You agree with this? You’re also willing to go under contract and abide by the rules of the House?”

Jensen adds his nod to Jared’s. “Yeah, we’re willing to abide by the rules. We have a couple stipulations of our own, though.”

Claudia blinks. “You do?” Her tone is unreadable; could be amusement, could be disbelief. Jared can’t tell.

“Jared and I…” Jensen glances at Jared and Jared again sees that strangely delicate uncertainty that overtakes Jensen any time this comes up. Jared nods and nudges Jensen’s foot with his own, where Claudia can’t see. “We’re together. We want to room together.”

Again, that same unsurprised nod from Claudia. “Of course. There’s nothing in the contract or the House rules that prohibits such a thing. That should be no problem. Anything else?”

Jared picks at the threads hanging from what used to be the hem of his jeans. “I’d uh… would it be okay if I got a haircut?” His words come out soft—almost whispered. It seems like such a petty thing.

Claudia laughs, bright and unrestrained. “Of course. Grooming is part of the House perks. You’ll both be re-outfitted with a selection of clothing and toiletries, as well.”

She stands and extends her hand out between the boys, letting them decide who goes first. “Jared. Jensen. It will be a pleasure doing business, I’m sure. And I’ll do what I can to see that you do not regret your decision. We are not in the business of slavery or coercion at La Hacienda.”

Jared reaches across the short distance with his long arms and clasps her hand warmly. “Thank you, Claudia.” He laughs uncomfortably, shaking his head. It feels so strange to thank her for allowing them to whore themselves. “I certainly never pictured myself doing anything…like this.”

“Do you think any of us did?” Claudia asks perceptively, tilting her head at him. “That doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice.”

Claudia shakes Jensen’s hand next and he smiles shyly at her. When he lets go her look takes them both in. “I would suggest you do not follow your friend’s Chad lead in regards to House protocol, however.”

Jared waits for her to elaborate, but she seems to be finished with that bit of business.

Both men stand and shuffle a little awkwardly, not sure what to do next, but Claudia apparently has it all under control. Reseating herself and motioning for them to do the same, she pulls out two fresh contracts and slides them across the desk.

“I need your initials on every page where tabbed and your signature and the date on the last page in the appropriate spaces.” It barely takes a minute and soon their papers are signed by all parties and she’s filling out a form and handing it to Jensen.

“You’re both required to take a complete physical, including allergy testing,” she looks pointedly at Jared, “to make sure you’re both clean and see what you’re allergic to. Final execution of the contract is contingent on a clean bill of health—” she raises a finger as Jensen opens his mouth to protest, “barring allergies. Once we’re done here, take this to the House Clinic. They’ll know what to do. Now, how about a tour of your new home?”

Jared examines the decorations and furnishings of the various rooms Claudia leads them through, torn between deja-vu and a thicker sense of complete unreality. The hall they’re in seems to run the length of the house, with a heavy double-door separating the front of the house from the back. Once they enter the front area, Jared notices a marked change in just the way the air feels.Claudia refers to the rooms she leads them through as salons. Each one seems to have a different “feel,” like movie sets; some as elaborate as Chinese pagodas and African safari lodges, some just sleek and modern or old-fashioned and sort of noir. What once must have been a ballroom has been turned into a sort of miniature nightclub. It’s sort of dizzying, after all the ugliness at the end of their stay in Canada and the months on the road. When Jared looks at Jensen, Jensen looks like Jared feels—kind of shell-shocked.

“This is the main reception area,” Claudia explains as they walk into a large open area. Jared spots the elaborate front doors they haven’t been allowed to use yet, and probably never will. There is a solid oak podium just to the right of the door, like a restaurant hostess would use to check reservations and seating. A banker’s green glass lamp perches at the top.

“It’s very… professional,” is all he can really come up with. Claudia smiles as if he just paid her the highest compliment.

“We pride ourselves on that, exactly, Jared. Thank you for noticing.”

Jensen stands a little away from them, sweeping his hand over the back of a butter-soft leather sofa. It is flanked by overstuffed chairs surrounding a small table with several pieces of swirling art glass decorating its surface. “Hard to believe this type of place exists in the world today,” he mutters, almost to himself.

Claudia walks over and lays a hand possessively on the couch. “I doubt there is a place in this country anymore that can claim the amenities and hospitality offered at La Hacienda. You really don’t know how lucky you two are.”

Jared watches Jensen’s mouth twist as they continue following her up the richly carpeted stairs. The walls up to the second and third floors are a gallery of movie and television promotional shots; with a sick twist in his stomach, Jared realizes the pictures are there to exhibit the Compound’s offerings.

He catalogs the ones they pass for later contemplation. An Into the Blue ad provides an excellent view of a ripped Paul Walker wearing his baggy, but nonetheless enticing surf shorts. A dark, eerie background frames Taylor Kitsch in his role in The Covenant. So far he’s seen only the men of La Hacienda with the exception of Charisma. He’s not even sure if she’s fit to work based on what he saw yesterday.

But apparently the decorators were saving the best for last, because at the second floor landing are four more framed posters, artfully hung at various heights. Katie Holmes, Batman Begins; Tricia Helfer wearing her slinky halter in Battlestar Galactica; Eliza Dushku, The Alphabet Killer and finally—Jared glances quickly at Jensen to see if he notices—Allison Mack in a Smallville promo for what must have been the last season of Tom’s show.

Jensen does notice. The expression on his face, freckles standing out like ink, gives Jared the overpowering need to touch him, reassure him, but he knows Jensen won’t want that kind of attention right now, especially in front of Claudia. It feels like forever since they’ve been alone.

“I see you’ve noticed our Rogue’s Gallery, so to speak,” Claudia says, waiting for them to follow her down the second floor hallway.

“Yeah. I guess we’re not the only really lucky ones,” Jared says bitterly.

Claudia ignores the tone and continues with her spiel. “This floor is half client rooms, half private quarters. All clients will be entertained in these specially appointed rooms, unless specifically instructed otherwise. Clients are not permitted in the private domain. This is both for our protection and yours; since you reside on the same premises on which you work, we feel it helps to keep your professional and private lives separate.”

God, this is so surreal. Jared reaches out for Jensen’s hand, not caring how it looks or whether Jensen is embarrassed by the show of affection, but Jensen’s warm fingers curling into his lets Jared know he feels the same way.

“We won’t bother with the third floor right now. That is mostly where the help lives. Kitchen staff, gardeners, housekeeping,” Claudia waves a hand and rambles on but Jared is already wondering where their room is.

“I’ve instructed Gina to prepare the double at the end of the hall for you,” Claudia says, when Jared asks. “It has a small sitting area, bedroom and full en suite bath.”

Jared takes a deep, relieved breath and feels Jensen do the same beside him. It’s not that he expects Claudia to renege—not so soon, anyway—but it’s a concrete sign. They won’t be separated. And at least if they’re together, he thinks he can do this.

When they get back to the first floor, Jared’s about to bring up his haircut again when Claudia’s demeanor takes a marked shift. “Now. We might as well get to work. Before we waste either of our time further, the first order of business is to evaluate each of you. Determine where your strengths – and your weaknesses – are and that will help us pair you with the most appropriate clients.”

God, it sounded so…clinical. Jared had to get his head wrapped around the fact that this was all strictly business.

“If it helps, you might want to consider this next part an audition.”

Claudia leads them back out into the hallway, going further into the house. Jared figures they’re going back to her office, but Claudia keeps going, her heels clicking lightly on the wood floor, stopping at a room they haven’t seen yet. She opens the door to a surprisingly large room. Inside, the dimmer switch is turned down to a mellow gold, softening the edges and making it hard to see everything in the farthest corners.

Jared follows behind her, blinking as his vision adjusts to the low, intimate lighting. He only has a few seconds to take in their new surroundings before he hears Jensen’s breath catch alarmingly.

“Jen?” He follows Jensen’s glare to a man standing in the center of the room, dressed in khaki slacks and a light blue golf shirt. He looked vaguely familiar and Jared gets the feeling he was probably another famous face in LA, as most of the employees seem to be.

“Michael.” Jensen’s voice comes out choked. Jared places a hand at his back and moves in closer.

“You know him?” Jared keeps his voice low, not that it matters.

“Michael, please allow me to introduce you to your two newest charges. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles. Jensen, I think you, at least, know Michael.”

Of course, Jared remembers now. Michael Weatherly. Dark Angel. He unabashedly watched all the episodes that featured Jensen to get an idea of his acting style. This guy had gone on to another show that he was pretty sure had been canceled the year before. NCIS. He hadn’t seen or heard anything about Weatherly since.

The beginnings of relief suffuses Jared, but it’s quickly dashed when he catches sight of the expression on Jensen’s face. Jensen’s usual neutral ‘public face’ is twisted, his eyes dark.

“It’s been a while, Jenny,” Michael says, eyeing Jensen with a frank appreciation that Jared, for one, doesn’t appreciate at all. Michael steps closer to Jensen, raises his hand to brush his thumb roughly over Jensen’s mouth and Jared’s hard pressed not to punch the guy just on general principle. “I forgot how…pretty you are.”

Jensen turns his face aside. “Don’t.”

“You going to act like that with your clients?”

Jared watches the line of Jensen’s back tighten into a single knotted line and then pretend to relax. “No. Come on, let’s go.”

Michael.Michael, here. Jensen was already feeling like today was some kind of creepily vivid bad dream; now he feels convinced.

This can’t be happening, he thinks. Even you would not be so cruel as this, God, would you? Please tell me this isn’t happening.

Except he knows damn well it is. Because it’s too cruel to be anything but stark reality.

“No, I don’t think so,” Michael answers, shaking his head and looking past Jensen to Jared. He gives Jared the same appraising up-down that he gave Jensen a moment before, stripping Jared naked with his eyes and judging what he sees. Jensen remembers what it feels like to be the object of that look and he resents it on Jared’s behalf. “I think I want to try out your friend here first.” His pale eyes return to Jensen and his smile is taut, cold. “After all, I already know how good a ride you are, don’t I, sweetheart?”

“Don’t call him that.” Jensen feels Jared press up against his back and for a moment, he feels crushed, trapped, stuck in place like a fly dying in amber. Before the feeling can overwhelm him, he turns around, puts his hands on Jared’s shoulders and pushes his friend back.

“Jay.” Jared’s not looking at him, still glaring at Michael. Claudia’s sitting off to the side, for all intents and purposes looking like she’s studying her manicure though Jensen’s not counting on that for one second. The message is clear. This is theirs to work out. “Jared.”

Finally Jared’s hazel eyes storm into Jensen’s, more brown than green. “It’s okay,” Jensen tells him.

Jared’s jaw squares. “Naw, Jen, it’s not okay, he…”

“He and I got a history,” Jensen says, breathless with how easy and hard that is to say. “I got it. I can handle it.” Jared’s nostrils flare wide but Jensen has enough faith in Jared to turn his back on him, come back around to face Michael again.

Michael. Again.

“Jared doesn’t bottom,” Jensen says firmly, his stomach twisting unpleasantly. “He’s never done it, he’s not ready.” He looks straight into Michael’s eyes and then turns to look at Claudia.

“Whereas your ass is still the superhighway for the stars, huh, Jenny?” Michael says and the floor creaks ominously as Jared’s weight shifts. Jensen wants to reach behind him but he won’t. Not in front of Michael.

I can do this, he thinks, hoping it’s true. It’s just acting, I can do this.

And then, Please God. Give me the strength to do this.

“Good enough to get you there,” he says and goes to his knees. Michael’s hand goes into his hair, heavy, horrifyingly familiar.

God, Jenny; you’re like the best girl I never had. Shoulda had you sucking my cock a long time ago.

Michael’s not wearing a belt; Jensen unsnaps the button and draws down the zipper, conscious of Claudia and Michael; even more conscious of Jared watching him do this. The whine of metal seems very loud.

Michael isn’t wearing underwear—of course not—and the smell of him, male, lightly sweaty, clean but still musky, is again too familiar, making Jensen’s stomach bubble and cramp. He doesn’t even want to think about what’ll happen if he throws up. He can’t throw up. He’s not going to throw up.

At the touch of Jensen’s fingers at the base of his cock, Michael’s stance automatically widens, giving Jensen access. Jensen tugs Michael free gently—gentler than he’d like—and licks his lips in a combination of nervousness and pre-suck lubrication.

“Go on,” Michael says, fingers urging Jensen’s head. His tone is soft, but the edge of command in it is still crystal clear. Jensen hates that there’s still a part of him that responds to it, to the tug of Michael’s hand in his hair.

Jensen takes a breath and then lets his tongue dab out, circling the thick crown of Michael’s cock. The weight and taste of Michael is familiar, but mostly strange; Jensen’s only used to Jared now. Michael sighs, soft enough that Jensen doubts anyone can hear it but the two of them. In Jensen’s hand, in his mouth, Michael hardens and lengthens; the salt-bitter taste of him gets stronger, rolling over Jensen’s tongue as Michael pushes deeper.

“Ah…fuck, Jenny. I forgot how good you are at this.” Michael sighs again, louder. Jensen opens his eyes and looks up the length of Michael’s body. Michael’s not looking at him, even though his fingers still work rhythmically in Jensen’s hair. Michael’s looking at Jared. Straight at Jared.

The taste of Michael turns even more bitter with the force of Jensen’s anger, this old, pent up pain and humiliation and broken, fucked-upness, all at Michael’s hands. It’s a conscious effort to relax his lips, his jaw, to not bite down until he severs flesh and tastes blood.

Instead, he closes his eyes again and hardens his focus. He’s good at this and he still remembers all the little tricks he used on Michael, way back when. Whatever had been between them, whatever Michael had felt, there hadn’t been much he’d liked better than Jensen on his knees, Jensen on his cock.

Michael’s next moan is louder, less controlled. Jensen smiles spitefully around Michael’s shaft, tongue rubbing hard as he sucks. Michael’s hips thrust and pull to the rhythm of Jensen’s mouth and Jensen knows…he’s got him. The fingers in his hair tighten painfully, but Jensen ignores them.

“Stop.” The word is guttural, rasped out from deep in Michael’s throat. The blurt of pre-come from his cock is almost steady; when Jensen reaches to cup Michael’s balls, they’re tight, sensitive, ready to blow. “Stop it.”

Jensen hums and works Michael harder, the thick slide of his mouth across damp skin like white noise.

“Goddamn it, stop!” Michael grits, but Jensen lets his teeth graze just so across the spongy-hard ridge of Michael’s cock and it’s all over; Michael groans and bucks and comes in strong, bitter spurts over Jensen’s tongue.

Jensen milks him, sucking Michael dry, licking him soft, until Michael pushes him hard, away. Jensen grins at him, milky with come, and then spits to the side, deliberate.

“Fucker,” Michael swears, tugging at his clothes. “You did that on purpose.”

Jensen pantomimes a kiss and Michael takes a threatening step towards him. Claudia’s voice lashes between them both, reminding them of her presence and their purpose here:

“Michael, get on the bed.”

Jensen looks up and sees the look that crosses Michael’s face. It’s such a familiar look, even when not directed at him, that he feels his stomach catch with old, unhealed anxiety. “Claudia—”

Jensen turns on his knees, reaches out for Jared. “C’mere, Jay.” His jaw and his mouth ache, his lips feel simultaneously rubbed raw and numb but he’s acted through worse and he promised Jared. He promised Jared they would get through this. Together.

“I think you forget that you work here just like everybody else, Michael.” Claudia’s voice is cold and inflexible, the voice of Aeryn Sun and brooking no argument.

“Jen…” Jared’s voice, on the other hand, is barely a thread of sound, hesitant and breaking. Jensen reaches and snags the thighs of Jared’s jeans, tugging the other man toward him.

“Not like everybody else,” Michael protests.

“Your patron gave you to us to be retrained as I see fit,” Claudia continues, “and if that means I want you to get fucked, then fucked you’ll be. Now get on the bed.”

Jared’s eyes flicker from Claudia to Michael, wide open and helter-skelter. Jensen needs to calm him down, focus him back on Jensen. On them. “Jared,” he says softly and instantly, Jared’s head turns to look at him. It’s such a ready, instantaneous gesture that it makes Jensen’s heart lurch hard in his chest. “Look at me.” He tangles his fingers in Jared’s belt, starts slipping the leather through the buckle. “Just keep looking at me.”
Next to him—them—Michael disrobes the rest of the way in furious, blistering silence but Jensen keeps his attention unwaveringly on Jared.

I can’t. Jared’s mouth barely moves, but Jensen catches it anyway.

You can, Jensen mouths back, smoothing the heel of one hand across the arc of Jared’s belly while the other tugs at Jared’s belt, button and zipper. He eases Jared’s pants and underwear down and Jared’s cock, half-hard, springs free.

Jared looks ashamed and apologetic, eyebrows crinkling over his nose. It’s okay. Jensen doesn’t mouth the words, but he tries to put them in his eyes, his face as he looks up at Jared. It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.

He guides Jared around and then down to the edge of the bed. The mattress is a good one; it hardly whispers when Jared’s not-inconsiderable weight hits the edge. Jensen shuffles forward on his knees, urging Jared’s knees apart.

Just as Jensen starts to bend, Jared reaches for his face; one huge palm cups his cheek and pulls Jensen’s face back up. Jensen thinks—hopes—that he and Jared are the only ones who notice that Jared’s hand is shaking. “It’s just like a love scene,” Jensen whispers.

Jared shakes his head. “No. It isn’t.”

“You can pretend it’s me,” Jensen offers. Jared’s hand convulses a little against Jensen’s cheek and he knows he’s said the wrong thing again.

“No,” Jared answers. “I really, really can’t.”


Jared bends down and fastens his mouth over Jensen’s, pulling the air and the sense out of him. All at once, he remembers-realizes that Jared must taste Michael in his mouth, on his tongue. He tries to pull away, but Jared’s hand only curves around Jensen’s skull tighter; the fingers of his other hand knot in the shoulder of Jensen’s shirt, holding him there as Jared devours every trace of Michael from his mouth. “I’m sorry,” Jared whispers when he finally draws back. “I’m so sorry.”

Jensen shakes his head, mute.

“As touching as this is, do you think we can get on with it?” Claudia asks, sounding bored.

Jensen’s face heats, a frisson that goes down his spine. He disentangles from Jared and leans to press a kiss, hot and open mouthed, into the wiry hairs and smooth-soft skin of Jared’s thigh. Jared’s fingers rake into Jensen’s lengthening hair and Jensen shifts slightly to take Jared’s cock down into his throat.

Jared is conscious of Michael next to him on the bed, naked and sullen. It’s hard not to be, knowing that—in a few minutes—he’s expected to fuck him.Jesus, Jared thinks, hit by it all over again. I’m expected to fuck him.

Jensen’s hand kneads Jared’s thigh and his tongue does…something really interesting, distracting Jared from the frantic hamster-wheel of his thoughts. He wants to stop the hardening of his cock, to remain stubbornly limp so that he really and physically cannot do this but at the same time he knows he needs this, knows that this needs to happen.

Because this is their life now.

He still feels lingering shame about even getting partially aroused at the sight of Jensen sucking Michael. He’d hated it. He hated watching Michael touch Jensen. At all, but especially the way he’d done it. Casual. Uncaring. Like Jensen was just a mouth, a hole and no one—nothing—of consequence.

And yet. Jensen.

Jensen gets him hot, every time.

Jared tangles his hand in Jensen’s hair and focuses completely and solely on Jensen, like this is one of their scenes, though he’s pretty sure Sam and Dean never did anything like this. He feels Jensen’s hair, soft and springy under his fingertips, nearly as long as his own. He listens to the soft, sucking moans Jensen makes around him, nothing like the charged silence with…no. Not thinking about that.

Jared lets his fingers slip down, tracing the resilient curve of an ear and then forward to where he can feel himself, hard and aching, through the hollow of Jensen’s cheek. “You feel so good,” Jared whispers, stroking with his thumb against rasping stubble.

Jensen’s eyes open and flick up to him, the green jewel toned and brilliant and the dark too deep to fathom; deep in his throat, Jensen hums, a thrill that goes straight up Jared’s cock and along his spine.

“Stay with me?” Jared doesn’t like the way his voice quavers but Jensen only blinks and nods slightly.

Jared eases Jensen off, shivering at the soft parting licks of Jensen’s born-to-sin lips and tongue. He feels so aware of everything; the bobbing hardness of his cock, the dampness of his skin and the slip of the smooth sheets across them, the firm roughness of Jensen’s skin against his palm.

“Come on,” Michael says, impatient, and shifts on his knees. “God, Jenny, you finally found someone who’s as big a girl as you.”

Every muscle in Jared’s body tightens and he doesn’t realize he’s growling before one of Jensen’s hands lights on his waist, kneading and the other slips between Jared’s legs, stroking his cock. “Don’t.”

“Michael, you will shut your mouth and open your ass or you will have a rather long and unpleasant conversation with Michelle. Your choice,” Claudia chimes in.

Jared takes a breath and when Jensen moves back, he turns around to kneel on the mattress himself. He doesn’t know how to evaluate Michael’s body—good, bad or indifferent—through the haze of his dislike. He guesses for their purpose here, it’s best if he doesn’t.

Touch him, Jared prompts himself and glances at Jensen again. Jensen reseats himself near the headboard and nods slightly. Jared reaches out without looking—acting and basketball are still useful skills, even now—and touches Michael’s flank. The skin is warm, resilient, hairier than Jensen’s. The muscle is less defined by months of walking, but still strong, and they ripple a little under his palm. Jared wonders if Michael’s a little nervous too.

There’s lube and two condoms in the folds of the dark sheets. Jared hadn’t thought that far ahead, but he’s grateful someone did, because even with the guarantee of the Compound’s whores being clean, he really wants that layer of latex between him and anyone not-Jensen. Still holding Jensen’s gaze with his own, Jared rips the packet and rolls the condom down over his cock.

It’s not as hard as it was a moment ago, with Jensen’s hand on him, but he thinks he can stay hard enough to get this done. If Jensen stays with him. If he watches Jensen and pretends…not that it’s Jensen. He’s not sure what exactly his mind is doing to let him get around this but he doesn’t want to probe it too deeply or too far. Magicians should never reveal their tricks.

Lube on his fingers; he’s clumsy and some of it falls onto the sheet.

“Look at me,” Jensen says, low-voiced. “C’mon, baby. Look at me.”

He looks at Jensen, lets himself get snared by Jensen’s eyes as he shifts on the mattress again and pushes Michael’s thighs apart. He coats himself with the lube thickly and then presses a finger—not gentle—into Michael, who curses and twists, tightening around him. Then, deciding that’s prep enough, Jared guides himself into Michael.

He’s gentler here; he might want to hurt Michael, but wanting and doing are two different things and he was raised better than that. It’s different and he feels strange, easing into another man’s body. The tightness, the friction, the clutching heat…he doesn’t know. It should just be sex, right? He’s a guy; he should be able to make this just sex.

Michael inhales sharply and his fingers spasm in the sheets. Inside, Jared feels Michael trying to take him in, trying to force him out, a trembling uncertainty that makes him a little more human, a little more real. His eyes still fixed on Jensen, Jared runs the heel of his hand along Michael’s ribs, soothing. “Shhhh.”

The angle’s wrong. He’s not sure how he knows it, but he does, and he presses and pulls and tugs, manhandling Michael’s body until it feels a certain way and Michael cries out, sharp and startled.

Satisfaction burns low in Jared’s belly and Jensen smiles crookedly at him, which makes him even warmer in his skin as he thrusts again, hard, over that same spot. Michael’s hips are a different shape than Jensen’s; Jared wonders if it’s the bow legs or what. His fingers spider over the soft, veined skin, pulling Michael back again and again onto him. He can’t really see, but he knows from the way Michael twists and bites back his noises that he’s hard again, dripping pre-come onto the bed.

“Touch yourself,” Jared tells him, the basso profundo, growling tones of Evil Sam. He thinks it says something that Michael doesn’t even argue, panting, as he reaches under himself to grasp his cock. In front of them, Jensen lets his own hand slip down to cup himself, half hard against the denim of his jeans.

He wasn’t hard for Michael. Jared had watched; Jensen hadn’t been hard with Michael, not even a little. Jensen is hard—hardening—for him. Jared has to close his eyes then, because it’s too much, the flex of Michael around his cock, the demand of his own body, Jensen’s smile, Jensen’s cock. He can only focus on the rhythm, half-embarrassed by the soft noises forced from his mouth.

It’s not bad. He can do this. He can do this.

Michael comes with an unwilling moan, the tight clinging convulsion of his body dragging seductively at Jared. He wants to come. He doesn’t want to come.

He pulls out of Michael rougher than he means to, sick and turned on and too body confused to know what to do next.

Michael’s groan blends with the squeak of the mattress as Jensen moves to him. Jared opens his eyes to a blur of skin and freckles and hazel-swamp-green before Jensen’s mouth is on his and Jensen’s hand is between his legs, stripping the condom away. “Jen,” he huffs.

“Shhh,” Jensen murmurs back, working Jared’s cock. His own erection rides against Jared’s thigh, firm and comfortable. Familiar. “Shhh.”

Jared buries his face in Jensen’s shoulder when he comes, when Jensen comes against him. “You were good,” Jensen whispers. “It was so good, Jay, you were so good.”

“You can go now, Michael.”When it’s over, Claudia dismisses him with a wave of her hand as if she can actually make him vanish. Jared feels gratified again to see Michael respond to her authoritative tone as quickly as the rest of the people at the Compound.

Michael is still tucking his shirt back in as he walks out the door, pulling it closed almost too hard to be polite. His last look at Jensen, though, has Jared seeing red again, wanting nothing so much as to pummel the smirk off Michael’s face.

He’s going to be trouble, Jared thinks.

Jared’s buckling his belt when Claudia levels that intense look she always manages before springing something new (and usually unpleasant) on them. He holds his breath and realizes Jensen has closed the gap between them and their shoulders rub lightly while they both wait for the next shoe to drop.

“Well, boys, I think we’ve established that you’re perfectly capable, almost willing—something I expect to find remedied by Saturday—and ready to start work. I have a better idea of who to place you with.” She opens her planner that seems to be as much a part of her as the earpiece tucked discreetly over her right ear, flipping through a couple of pages before stopping to read, one finger over her lips.

“I assume neither of you has any objection to women?” She glances at them and they both shake their heads. “Good. We’ll start off slow, ease you into things a bit. I hope you realize…we’re not trying to make your life hell here. We are your employers. And you are a valued employee, not merchandise.”

She glances down at the open book again. “Yes, I think you’ll both be able to handle one guest each Saturday night. It’s a special party to honor some visiting … partners. Jared, you will not be required to,” her lips quirk into an amused smile, “catch for any of your clients, until and unless you and I both agree you’re ready.”

Jared finds that he can almost return her smile. Almost. He finds the tickle in his throat, the one he’s been fighting—trying to ignore, actually—throughout the day, stops the smile before it can fully form.

“Saturday morning there will be a staff meeting when I will go over everyone’s assignments and answer any questions you may have. Discuss any ongoing issues.” Claudia closes the book, tucking it under one arm and heads for the door.

“Jay, you okay?” Jensen’s voice is right there, worried, close enough that Jared feels his warm breath.

When he opens his mouth to answer, Jared feels the familiar swelling in his throat. The one that usually triggers his brain into full on panic mode, because he knows what comes next. Jensen’s hands shove him down into the chair where his shirt still lies.

“It’s an attack,” Jensen says needlessly, as if Jared couldn’t tell. Jared’s hands close tightly around the chair’s arms and he concentrates, trying to quell the rising fear, trying to breath through the constriction of his chest and throat.

Claudia appears on Jared’s other side suddenly with a small white plastic box. The red FIRST AID on the front almost reduces Jared to tears, if he had any breath left with which to cry. She opens it to reveal, pills, an epipen and two types of inhalers.

“What does he usually use?” she asks brusquely and Jensen reaches over to dump out the contents so he can see the inhaler labels.

He grabs the Albuterol and Jared’s hand comes up, searching. If at all possible, Jared has learned the medicine seems to work faster if he administers it himself. Probably because just touching the inhaler seems to relax his throat muscles somewhat.

He pushes the button and takes one last gasp in anticipation of being able to breathe normally. Hisssssss

“That’s it, babe. You got it,” Jensen is petting his arm and shoulder and Jared knows how much he hates having to just sit by and watch Jared struggling for air.

To his surprise, he feels Claudia’s hand on his other arm, just squeezing slightly in encouragement before she stands and take a couple of steps back, giving him room.

“How long since your last attack?” she asks in neutral voice.

“Two days. When we got to Chad’s. Tuesday night,” Jensen supplies in a fast babble.

Jared takes another hit off the inhaler, but he’s already starting to breathe clearly, almost able to feel the bronchioles unlock and open. He meets Jensen’s scared eyes and nods to his silent query. Yes, he’s fine now.

“You had it,” he holds up the inhaler, “in this room?”

Jensen gathers up the contents of the spilled box and lays them in the seat seat next to Jared. Claudia begins to reassemble it.

“There are allergy remedies in every room of the house,” Claudia says, eyes on her task, “including your own. You’re not the only employee who suffers from the affliction and some of our clients do, as well. Safety is paramount. You’ll be provided with your own inhaler after you’ve seen the clinic doctor.”

Jared searches the walls and finally sees the small wooden cabinet, almost hidden the way it blends with the dark paneling. It’s door hangs open and he can tell there are other things inside it but can’t tell what they are in the dim light.

“Thanks. That’s about the fastest I’ve gotten over an attack yet.”

Claudia’s smile is tight. “We only carry the best.”

Jensen turns to Claudia, but his gaze fixes somewhere over her left shoulder as he says, “Thank you, Claudia. Um, well – thanks.”

With its contents restored, Claudia puts the box back in its chest, opens her book and begins scribbling something, most likely a note to have someone restock the items used.

“Just protecting my investment, gentlemen.”

Jared touches her wrist, drawing her gaze. “Thank you,” he says, quietly heartfelt and the sun lines at the corners of her eyes crinkle in something that’s almost a smile.

“I have some things I need to attend to. Feel free to sit a while, gather yourselves. You remember where the clinic is?” She looks satisfied when they both nod. “Excellent. Afterwards, you’re welcome to help yourselves to the staff meals in the kitchen if you’re hungry but the doctor will want to draw blood on an empty stomach to get the most accurate test results. Or you can do what you like. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore and become familiar with La Hacienda. Once you’re done, ask anyone to call Gina and she will show you to your rooms.”

Claudia exits, leaving Jared slumped in the chair with Jensen’s hands circling and kneading his still tense shoulder muscles. “Jensen…”

“Don’t say it.” Jensen’s fingers tighten briefly before he goes back to the simple, repetitive massage. “We’re okay. We’re all right.”

“Yeah.” Jared looks around him, knowing he’ll never be able to come back into this audition hall with anything but bad memories.

“So tell me about him,” Jared says dully. He looks tired, burnt out, but Jensen doesn’t fool himself into thinking that’s all that’s going on inside. Jensen doesn’t know how to read Jared’s eyes when they lift up. “About Michael.”Jensen sighs and heaves himself up on the clinic exam table next to Jared. He tries to take it as a good sign that Jared doesn’t scoot away, their arms and knees brushing. He hates that he’s like this, even after everything. “What do you want to know?”

“I don’t know.” Jared shrugs. “Everything? What is there to know?”

Jensen looks down at his swinging feet, feeling the old dirty scourge of shame and regret. So much of who he is now can be traced back to that time in his life, to Michael and his own young-stupidness. “We were on Dark Angel,” he says and then stops, because he’s not sure that’s where he should start. Or where to start at all, really. “You remember how he and Jessica were engaged, right?”

Jared nods. “Yeah. And people were saying you and Jessica…” He stops.

Jensen scrapes on a crooked smile and spreads his hands. “Well. They were almost right.”

“And that was why she was so bitchy at the Teen Choice Awards that year.” Jared nods as if he understands and Jensen’s chest opens up and uncoils, a tightness he didn’t even realize was there until it let go.

“Yeah.” Jensen scratches the back of his neck, sheepish. The memory isn’t his fondest. “I made the mistake of trying to apologize.”


Jensen laughs. “You have no idea.”

They sit for a while and Jared’s hand slides slowly from where it rests on the table until his pinky creeps over Jensen’s. Like a swear. Like a promise. Jensen breathes.

“Did you…? Were you guys in love?” Jared’s voice is even lower, almost whispered, and then he curses. “God. This sounds so fucking junior high.”

Jensen’s teeth worries the inside of his lip until he tastes blood, coppery and sudden. He shrugs. “I don’t know. Michael…”

“Don’t try to make this about me, Jensen. I’m not like you. You might get off on all this…”

“This what? Just say it, Michael. Say the word. Say ‘faggot’.”

“Oh, that would make you happy, wouldn’t it?”

“It didn’t make me happy any of the other times you said it.”

“Oh, God, would you stop being such a goddamn girl? Jesus, Jensen. Can’t we just fuck? Why does this always have to be such a big fucking deal with you?”

Jensen shakes his head, cold and sick all over again. “I don’t know,” he says again. “I loved him and he fucked me a lot.” He pulls his hand away from Jared, rubs his palms on the thighs of his jeans reflexively.


Jensen shakes his head against the question-command in Jared’s voice.

“Jensen,” Jared says again, sharper. “I’m not him.”

“I know that.”

“I’m not him,” Jared repeats and puts his hand over Jensen’s.

“I know that,” Jensen whispers and lets himself lean against Jared’s shoulder.

Jared just wants this day to be fucking over. He’s not stupid enough to ask himself how it can get any worse, but God, it seems like a week since Chad dropped them off at The Compound. Yeah, they can say the House or La Hacienda all they want. It’s a prison to him, even if he is there willingly.It’s dark outside. All Jared wants to do now is go to their rooms and hold Jensen and pretend this isn’t happening, but the smell of roasted meat wafting from the kitchen reminds him they haven’t eaten since breakfast at Chad’s. His stomach is in whole-hearted agreement that it’s past time for a meal.

There are new faces at the cook stations and two more people sitting at the employee’s table, a sturdy wooden country-style piece with eight chairs arranged around it. The two people seated, digging into bowls of stew, aren’t familiar.

“Go on and sit down,” someone says; Jared doesn’t see who.

Jensen sits on the far end away from the others and Jared takes the chair next to him, knees jostling for space. Neither has any clue what to do, but apparently that isn’t necessary as two bowls and a cutting board topped with bread and butter is put before them. Jared looks up to smile at the petite woman in whites. She smiles back, kind and open. Jared thinks she looks a little like Meghan and both the familiarity and the unsolicited smile ache rottenly.

“Yo, Kevin.”

Jared and another guy look up at the sound of the gravelly female voice. In the doorway, he recognizes Michelle Rodriguez, looking as hot, tough and pissed off as she has in every one of her movies.

“What?” The guy, Kevin, sounds irritated, but he’s already shoving his bowl of stew away and pushing his chair back like he knows what’s coming.

“You’ve got a special request. Go get cleaned up.”

Jared looks at Kevin curiously, not sure what ’special request’ means and not liking the sound of it much. Under the table, Jensen’s hand touches Jared’s kneecap and Jared realizes his foot’s jittering restlessly. Kevin’s mouth tightens a little, but he stands up and follows Michelle into the shadows of the hallway. Nobody comments and Jared’s just too fucking burnt out to even ask.

“Tell me we did the right thing.” He tears his piece of bread into smaller and smaller pieces, not sure if he even can eat, despite the rumbling of his stomach.

“We did the right thing,” Jensen answers and squeezes Jared’s knee. Jared wishes he could tell if Jensen was acting or not.

“You really believe that?”

Jensen looks at him sidelong. “I believe in us.”

It’s late. Jensen thinks he should be surprised that Claudia is still in her office, but he’s not. That’s why he came here looking for her, right?The overhead lights are off; Claudia is paging through and writing in her ubiquitous planner by the tired gold light of a table lamp. It’s kind to her complexion, but less so to the circles under her eyes. At her elbow, a rocks glass of what looks like whiskey gleams redly. Jensen’s mouth waters for it, even though whiskey’s not really his drink.

He doesn’t make a noise, but she looks up suddenly, the light flicking silver across her eyes. “Kind of late, don’t you think, Jensen?”

“Yeah.” He digs one toe on the threshold until she waves him in. He hates this feeling, like going to the principal’s office. “I wanted to talk with you. Privately.”

Her smile is wry. “It doesn’t get much more private than this.”

“It’s about Jared.”

Claudia’s smile widens. “Yeah. I thought it might be. Sit down.”

“I don’t want him to bottom,” Jensen says baldly. “Not for anybody.”

Claudia sighs and closes the organizer, folding her hands on the embossed leather. “That could be a problem.”

“He’s not…” Jensen’s hands twist over each other, dry and kind of cold. “He’s…”

“You’re his first, right?”

Jensen’s sigh is shivery and not at all steady. “Yeah? Sorta? It’s not like that. He’s never… He’s not like me.”

“Okay,” Claudia agrees gently, “but this is a business, Jensen. And as sympathetic as I may feel towards your situation, I have to run this as a business. Not using Jared…” her hand flicks out, illustrative of nothing, “to his full potential is a deficit to this House. And that deficit has to be addressed.”

“I can do it.” It’s not like Jensen wasn’t expecting this. It’s not like he hasn’t thought this out. Inarticulate, not dumb. “I will. I’ll do…what I have to do. I just need you to guarantee me that he’s not going to get into something he can’t handle. He can’t handle it, Claudia. He’s not…he’s not that guy.”

Claudia’s head tips a little. “I think he’d surprise you,” she says, sitting back in her chair and letting her hands fall out of their perfect configuration, “but okay. You pick up the slack for Jared and I’ll make sure he…stays on top of things.”

Jensen’s mouth quirks. “Thanks.”

“Don’t thank me.” Claudia regards him, fingernails tapping on the arms of her chair. “It’s only business, Jensen. You need to remember that.”

Like I could ever forget. “Thanks anyway,” he says, because his mama raised him right. “Good night.”

When he gets back to their room and pulls the sheet back, Jared stirs and slides over without having to be pushed. Jensen slips in next to him, heart beating too fast. For a moment, he thinks Jared’s faded back into sleep, but then Jared turns over, wrapping long limbs around him and pulling Jensen back into the heat of his body. The smell of Jared overpowers the stench of the new sheets and the unfamiliar room.

“Where’d you go?” Jared mumbles, barely coherent. His hand slips over Jensen’s bare stomach, pressure and heat, comforting and searing at the same time.

“Nowhere,” Jensen lies.

Jared makes a soft, dissatisfied noise and nuzzles into the nape of Jensen’s neck. “Missed you,” Jared breathes finally, the words dying into a rising snore.

“I’m right here,” Jensen says, covering Jared’s hand with his own.


On to Day One

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