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12 February 2014 @ 01:27 pm
spn_reversebang "Go Save The World, I’ll Be Around" (J2/AU PG-13) 1/3  
ARTIST: beelikej
AUTHOR NOTES: This fic would not exist if were not for two people. beelikej - who is literally the true inspiration for this whole story as it was her amazing art that started this thing. She’s amazingly talented, and I feel incredibly lucky to have been gifted with her to work with on this. Thanks for putting up with my craziness and inept organisation!
And secondly, as always, asher_k was the one to jump in and put up with my terrible grammar, appalling spelling and general dizziness. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her (apart from never, ever posting anything worth reading) and I’m superbly grateful!!

DEF Banner Go Save The World660

The thing is, Jared doesn’t believe in destiny.

It’s not because he’s cynical or gloomy or trying to be philosophical about it. It just always seems words like fate, and destiny and higher meaning are thrown around by people who couldn’t really be bothered to do anything with their lives. Who are just hoping to kick back and wait for love and money and happiness to fall into their laps without even having to think about it.

And Jared isn’t lazy.

He’s a busybody, a chatterbox; a general mischief-maker. He’s excitable and jumpy and talks way too much and way too loud. And he certainly isn’t afraid of a bit of hard work to get what he wants.

So when Jensen Ackles literally falls into his lap four days into tenth grade, Jared doesn’t quite know what to make of it.

“Uh…sorry?” Jared tries, as the wide-eyed, fairer-haired boy scrambles off him and back onto two feet.

Jared knows of him already, in a general, roundabout way. They share fourth period English class, but Jared’s not too sure on names yet.

Jared is a transfer. His daddy coaches football, so naturally his family has been following him from field to field since Jared’s little sister Megan was two. It’s a double edged sword for someone like Jared, who’s been able to make friends as easy as breathing since kindergarten. Of course, the downside to that is having to pick up and leave all those friends behind when his daddy’s new contract comes in.

He has a feeling, though, that this might be it. San Fran was the dream, after all: his daddy’s end game, the retirement package. When he finally called to tell them the job was his, they’d packed up the house and moved from Chicago within the week. His momma has even gone so far as to unpack the laundry room, so Jared is secure in the knowledge that they’re pretty much here to stay.

That being so, he decided to take the more subtle approach in regards to school this time. High school is a big deal after all, or so he’s heard, and his parents had been kind enough to move him in at the very beginning of the year so he’s not coming in as the gawky, too-tall klutz halfway through the semester like usual.

Accidentally losing control of his flailing limbs and knocking over a ladder in their drama class to cause a domino effect of carnage probably wasn’t as subtle as one would have hoped, however. The end result is a very startled, very pissed off Jensen Ackles, knocked from his own ladder and landing directly on top of Jared.

“What the hell are playing at, Gigantor? You trying to get someone killed?”

“It was an accident?” Jared offers lamely, pulling himself vertical as well and rubbing at the new tender spot on his elbow. But Jensen isn’t really looking at him closely enough to gage his sincerity. His eyes are darting all over the place, jumping from person to pointing and giggling person until finally coming to rest on the weirdo from Jared’s third period chemistry class.

The guy – Collins, Jared’s brain suddenly provides – gives a barely noticeable nod to Jensen and a reassuring smile that Jared doesn’t really know how to decipher, but then Jensen’s turning back to him with a pat to the shoulder and a good-natured grin.

“Don’t worry about it, man. No one died, right?”

And then he’s picking up his ladder and heading on over to where Danneel Harris and Osric Chau are bent double laughing and shouting out fake scores to their friend’s nigh-on perfect dive.

“Right,” Jared mumbles, still rubbing his hurt elbow and wondering what the fuck just happened.

Fate, someone far lazier then Jared would probably have called it.

Of course, Jared doesn’t believe in that sort of thing.

NOW superhero RBB

“So, you’re going to Loretta’s for lunch, right? For that meeting with Drake at 1:30?”

Jared sighs and tosses a roll of tape to one side in an attempt to see all the way to the back of the drawer without dislocating a finger.

“Yeah, maybe. Probably…”

Jensen sounds unconvinced in his answer and Jared hears a distinct huff of frustration somewhere behind him. “Well, either you are or you aren’t. And I mean, do you think you’ll still be going downtown this afternoon for those proofs, or…?”

For a normal boyfriend, in a normal relationship, this kind of questioning would probably start a fight about trust issues and infidelity.

For Jared, it’s usually a prelude for some kind of explosion and extensive nationwide news coverage, so Jared’s already suspicious that his day is going nowhere but south. He does the thing he does best at 7:45 on a Monday morning with only half a mug of coffee and no eggs in him: He snaps.

“I don’t fucking know, Jensen!” A spool of string is hurled to the tile in the midst of his tantrum and he jams his hand further into the drawer. “Why don’t you stop asking stupid, mundane questions and help me find my fucking keys?”

A keychain is suddenly dangling in front of his eyes and Jared scowls and makes a grab for it, only to have it snatched back out of sight.

Jensen is grinning at him when Jared finally straightens his posture. “How do you get so vulgar so early in the morning?”

Jared’s late. Really horrifically late, and he still has to navigate two intersections and probably suffer through another three minutes of the third degree. Somehow, though, he still finds the time to appreciate how stupid-cute his boyfriend looks, sitting so sweetly on the kitchen counter in Jared’s old UCFC t-shirt with his hair all mussed up from sleep.

“You love my dirty mouth,” Jared says, sliding between Jensen’s spread legs and pressing their lips together as he slips the keys from Jensen’s lax fingers.

Jensen hums, reaching up to grip the hair at the back of Jared’s neck. “I like it even more when it’s reciting your day planner to me…”

Jared turns his head to the side with an exasperated sigh and feels Jensen grin against his cheek.

“Fine! Be that way!” Jensen exclaims dramatically, sliding back and holding his hands out in mock defeat between their chests, and Jared thinks he’s got about five more years in him before this guy gives him a fucking ulcer.

“Just have me worry! Have me go grey! And then what, huh? You gonna want to fuck a grey guy?”

“Now who’s got the dirty mouth?” Jared teases, pocketing his keys and grabbing his bag and thermos from the counter beside Jensen’s hip.

He presses another kiss to Jensen’s frowning mouth as he slings the bag over his head.

“And whatever it is, please try not to disrupt the subways? I have a meeting in Richmond at two.”

Jensen-portrait GSTW350

The thing about being a journalist is that sometimes you have to be kind of ruthless.

And Jared’s a great journalist. He’s smart and inquisitive and writes like he was born to do it.

But he’s not mean.

It sometimes gets to be a thing.

“Padalecki. My office. Now”

Gen shoots him a kind of Don’t ask at me, I have no idea look as he slides off his perch on her desk and saunters over to where Jeff is hanging out of his office door.

Out of habit, he glances over to Felicia’s corner to clock her typing away furiously and looking particularly more flustered than usual. Jared knows it has nothing to do with the recent gun attack in Marina Bay.

He could detour over and prop himself up on her desk for a spell if he wanted to. Probe, the journalist in him would call it. He knows she would fold like a paper napkin. The boyfriend in him would just call it snooping, though, so he doesn’t even offer her his usual acknowledging head tilt.

Jeff’s sprawled in his desk chair when Jared shuts the door and turns to him expectantly. When Jared first interviewed, it was one of things he liked about Jeff – his casual sprawl. He thought it was a quirk of his, something that they had in common; their “southern spillin’ out,” his Momma would say.

Then, of course, he found out they had way more in common than the Kansas/Texan state line, and everything changed again.

“Jared, you’re a damn good writer.”

Jeff’s using his patented you’re-not-gonna-like-this tone and Jared doesn’t doubt it for one second. In all the years Jared’s known him, he can count on one finger the number of times Jeff has been out right wrong. And then, if he was feeling particularly vindictive, he’d point the finger directly at himself.

He leans back against the closed door and musters up his best I-ain’t-buying-what-your-selling eyebrow raise. “I’m the best damn writer you got.”

Jeff smirks. “And so modest. But sometimes, to do this job, you…” His face twists into something that would probably be construed as sympathy on anyone else. “Well, you just gotta put your morals to one side and do what’s gotta be done.”

Jared smirks and it feels ruthless, even for Jeff’s standards. “How many times have you said that this week?”

Jeff, as unusual, looks unimpressed. “Jared, we can’t run this piece without you naming your source. You know it, I know it – Global know it for sure; Rossenbaum, he wants a name, we’ve put him off long enough,”

Jared’s laugh is short and clipped, like his answer: “Fuck Rossenbaum. I’m not giving up my source.”

Jeff rewards him with a steady look that’s been perfected by years of trying to get common sense out of assholes. “You do know it’s going to happen one way or another, right?” Sympathetic, with a hint of exasperation.

“I mean, I don’t have to sit you down and explain the mean and nasty ways journalists secure a story like this, do I? ‘Cause I left my fucking finger puppets at home.” Sarcasm, with a hint of asshole.

Jared tips his head to the side and responds in kind: “I can show you one of my finger puppets, if you like?”

Jeff saves him the one finger salute by sighing heavily and throwing down the file in his hand like it weighs fifty pounds.

Jared gets the impression he’s kind of slowly ruining the guy’s day.

“Look, I can’t give you it now,” he relents. Slightly. “Soon. I promise.” He shrugs in what he hopes is construed as an apologetic manner. “But not now.”

Jeff picks up a stack of papers from his desk and his tired eyes lift to pin Jared again, a thick eyebrow lifts. “I ain’t gettin’ any younger here.”

Jared sighs dramatically, “Fine. Lesson learned. From now on, I’ll be a cutthroat assassin in the world of investigative journalism. America won’t know what hit it. Are you happy?”

Jeff doesn’t even look up at him from the paper he’s scanning. “Ecstatic.” He shuffles it into a pile and speaks up before Jared’s fingers can wrap around the door handle. “I’ve got to step out in a minute. I’ll be gone for the rest of the day.”

Jared stares at him for a second, even though, like most things that occur in this particular office, it’s completely one-sided.

Eventually, he nods, lowering his eyes to the floor. If Jeff’s telling him about it, it’s bad. Jared’s been around long enough to know that much.

“Yeah, I figured.”

Jeff finally looks up, and there’s something else altogether in his eyes when he asks, “You got it covered here?”

Jared hasn’t, really – because what Jeff’s actually asking for is his approval. For what they’re about to do, for whatever boneheaded plan they’re flying off to next.

Approval to send his boyfriend off on some life threatening crusade that he may never return from and Jared, strangely enough, has never given that as freely as he’s always been expected to. Then again, he rarely gets asked for it at all. Especially not by Jeff, because Jeff is a proud kind of guy, being southern and such, and it’s not easy for proud kinds of guys to admit when they’re wrong. Especially to the very person they were so wrong about.

“Just make sure you got it covered there,” Jared shoots back, tugging the door open with a parting grin, “Boss.”

Gen-portrait GSTW350

Two hours later, Jared’s standing with Gen in front of the giant screen that takes up the whole back wall of the briefing room, watching lower Richmond be consumed by a fireball.

The bomb had been heading headfirst for Golden Gate Park, so it could have been worse. They’re already calling the guy The Lantern, because of the way the bomb was rigged. Could have been better, Jared thinks idly, running through a thousand imaginative alliterations in his head as the blaze rages on in front of them.

If he squints, he thinks he can just make out Chris’s cowboy hat through the smoke.

“Any casualties?” Jared asks, his eyes almost watering as they jump from frame to frame, searching for a familiar flash of green eyes and quick hands.

Gen checks something on her iPad and shakes her head. “None reported yet. It was a vacant lot. Strange, though; our source said the missile had originally been redirected to the empty subway station on Lincoln. Got pulled to the warehouse at the last minute, no one can tell why.” She looks up with a dismissive shrug. “Weird.”

Jared nods and feigns ignorance as he checks his phone for his standard ‘all ok’ text.

Maybe it’s true after all that compromise is at the heart of a healthy relationship.

THEN superhero RBB

Jared wouldn’t consider himself a stalker. He’s a pretty decent guy, with a tendency to be a little overbearing at times, sure – he blames it on his momma. But he doesn’t make it a habit to learn strangers’ personal schedules. He doesn’t look at all fetching in a duffel coat and he doesn’t even own a pair of night vision goggles, so he’s always just assumed he was clear of stalker territory.

Jensen Ackles is making him rethink things.

“Hey,” Jensen says laughingly, coming out of the locker rooms and finding Jared leaning up against the hallway wall. “You stalking me or something?”

Jared thinks he might be, but he doesn’t know why. There’s something about Jensen that Jared can’t put his finger on, like something doesn’t quite slot into place, but he doesn’t know what. A feeling like he’s met him before, but doesn’t know when. Like there’s something Jared’s should be looking for, but he doesn’t know where.

Jared hates not knowing things.

It’s not in his nature and it’s driving him nuts. Jensen’s driving him nuts. Even though he’s only spoken to the guy about three times since the ladder incident, consisting mainly of a mumbled “Hey” and an exchange of nods.

“You wanna go for a burger or something, maybe?” Jared says suddenly, pushing himself off the wall and watching for Jensen’s reaction.

Jared’s not shy. Not at all. He feels Jensen should learn this early on if they’re going to be friends, which they are, because Jared makes friends like breathing. Once he decides he wants to be somebody’s friend, there’s really very little they can do about it, and Jensen, well, he’s piqued Jared’s interest.


Jensen is very shy. Amongst the things Jared has noted about him while resolutely not being a stalker is that Jensen Ackles is pretty adorable.

He’s got freckles scattered over his nose that get clearer as the sun gets stronger, and he has a tendency to blush over the top of them. He blushes when he gets picked on by the teacher in class; he blushes when Misha gets particularly animated beside him in the cafeteria and everyone’s eyes swing their way; he blushes when he drops his pants in the gym. He’s blushing right now, actually.

“What, like a…?” Jensen’s hand comes up to rub the back of his neck like he does when he’s particularly flustered (and okay, maybe Jared should really rethink his standing on this whole stalker thing).

Jared’s eyes crinkle in confusion. “Like a burger?” he ventures, and Jensen huffs out a laugh and drops his hand looking up to catch Jared’s gaze and there it is again, that feeling of not knowing. Jared’s skin prickles.

“Yeah, alright,” Jensen says finally, and Jared grins, swinging his backpack up over his shoulder and leading them off down the corridor.

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship, Jensen Ackles,” Jared says out loud to the empty hallway, because brain-to-mouth filtering had never been his strong suit, and Jensen barks out a startled laugh, still looking ambushed.

It wasn’t fate, Jared thinks. It wasn’t destiny. He wanted something and he went after it. It was gut instinct, is what it was.

And Jared’s gut had never led him wrong before.

NOW superhero RBB

They get together for drinks sometimes.

Often, actually.

Mostly following some kind of disaster involving trains, aeroplanes, hostage situations, or gas explosions. No one ever mentions the coincidence, so neither does Jared, but he’s mentally named the get-togethers the “Yay, no one died!” parties.

It has the capacity to be awkward, really. They all know he knows, and he knows they know he knows – but still, no one mentions the details. Jared doesn’t ask.

It’s not awkward.

It never has been, and Jared would wonder why that was if he was allowed. As it is, he just shuts up and sips his beer.

“And then she just chucks her drink on me.” Chris is rehashing his latest encounter with a pair of particularly feisty Hooters waitresses he met in Chino, while Osric makes interested humming noises while not really listening at all and Danneel rolls her eyes so hard they’re in danger of falling right out of her head.

“Forty dollar bourbon and the chick thinks it’s a chucking drink! I could’ve got her a fucking gin and tonic if she wanted to chuck the fucker. I mean it was her sister, it’s not like I fucked her Aunt Millie! Can you believe that shit?”

“No,” Danneel responds immediately, “what I can’t quite believe is that you can get one girl to go out with you, let alone more, than one.” She tips the rest of her beer back and leans slightly into Jared’s side. “Don’t ever turn into that guy, baby.” She slurs slightly, but Jared knows she’s got another three or four pitchers in her. Danneel can drink Chris under the table on her lightest day and still walk to the bathroom in a straight line. She turns her wicked dark eyes up to Jared, and it’s times like these that Jared is 100% secure in the knowledge he is 100% gay.

“Promise me you’ll stay sweet forever and attempt to save your wretched species.”

Jared shrugs good-naturedly and pats her hair down where the bright red strands have crept up his shoulder. “Okay.”

This mollifies her enough to prop her own head up until Jensen slides back into Jared’s other side with a fresh pitcher and a bowl of stale popcorn.

“You tryin’ to turn my boyfriend to the dark side, Harris?” Jensen smirks, tipping a healthy amount of alcohol into Jared’s half-empty glass and sliding the rest over to where Misha is attempting to stack all his empty glasses into an unstable pyramid.

Jared shoots Jensen a side glance when he thinks he’s not looking. He does this sometimes, too; often, actually, just to check. Just to make sure he’s still there.

Jensen is looking, of course he is, and returns a little smile. Shifts an inch closer so their thighs are perfectly aligned, all the way to the knee, and their elbows brush when they reach for their glasses.

“He’ll never go.” Danneel sighs dramatically, and Jared’s about to retort about how tight she looked on CNN today in her little spandex suit, but a shadow falls over their booth and Jeff’s sliding in beside Chris with a grim look on his face.

“How goes the clean up?” Jensen asks first, while Osric busies himself with pouring the last of the beer into the cleanest glass he can find amongst the mess in front of them.

“Alright,” Jeff grunts, throwing back the drink Osric passes him in two gulps.

Fucking Jeff. Jared scowls into his glass and pretends not to know what the hell they’re talking about.

They shoot the shit for a bit, about sports, about beer, and have an impromptu drink-off that leaves Danneel victorious and Misha kind of grey around the edges.

They’re laughing when they all eventually leave the booth, Jensen’s hand a hot brand against the small of Jared’s back so he almost doesn’t feel Jeff’s hand on his elbow, stopping him from sliding past, even though he’s been expecting it all night.

“It’s gonna be a shit storm tomorrow. I need you at the front for this one, spin it best you can to take the heat off.”

Jared nods, only once, only slightly because they all know he’d be doing it anyway.
His eyes catch on Jensen propped on the bar by the door, waiting for him, and he shakes his arm loose from Jeff’s grip harder than was probably necessary before heading over.

They all have a part to play – even Jared. Especially Jared, most days.

Maybe that’s why all this isn’t as awkward as it should be.

THEN superhero RBB

Two months in, Jared has come to the following conclusion:

Jensen Ackles is a vampire.

It really is the only explanation. His parents died a couple years back in a turn of events that’s never actually been fully disclosed to Jared, so Jensen lives with his uncle on Marina Bay in a house that Jared can walk him to the gate of but never go inside.

“Uncle Jim” bears no resemblance to Jensen. Like, at all. And they don’t have the same last name. And while he seems like a nice enough, if abruptly upfront guy, Uncle Jim kind of ticks all of Jared’s “stranger danger” boxes.

And then there was the time Jensen acted kind of sketchy when Jared proposed he just crash at his place one night after a Godzilla movie marathon.

In fact, Jared doesn’t think he’s ever seen Jensen between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

It doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a vampire. He might just be a run-of-the-mill serial killer.

Felicia-portrait GSTW350 (1)

They don’t fight nearly as much as they probably should, all things considered.

They live together, work together most days, and have pretty demanding schedules. Not to mention the near death experiences and world-ending disasters that occur around them on a weekly basis.

When they do fight, though, it’s carnage.

A plate flies past Jensen’s head and crashes into the wall. It was a good plate. Gen got them a matching set for Christmas last year with a fancy blue pattern on. They aren’t the most gracious of creatures, him and Jensen; between dish duty, overstocked cupboards, and screaming matches, Jared’s pretty sure that was their last one.

It’s a shame, really, the reasons they can’t have nice things.

“Fuck’s sake, Jared!” Jensen screams, ducking like it’s no effort at all. Which it isn’t, Jared knows, and it just pisses him off more. “Can you get a grip for two seconds?”

“I’ll get a grip around your fucking throat, you fucking rat!” He reaches out and grabs the nearest thing, which just happens to be one of their phone chargers, and hurls that as well. It’s not like he’s ever going to hit him. Even if Jared wanted to hurt him, he never would be able to; not really. But statistically, Jared’s bound to finally smash something belonging to Jensen that might just piss him off.

It’s petty, sure, but welcome to Jared’s life.

Jensen blocks the charger with his arms but it gets tangled around his wrist and he shakes it off irritably. “I didn’t have a choice, Jared!”

“Bullshit you didn’t!” Rapidly running out of things within grabbing distance, Jared advances and Jensen’s eyes widen a little. Not because he’s scared Jared could hurt him – that’s laughable – but because Jared’s a cutthroat fighter. Always has been.

Jared fights dirty. Hits below the belt and doesn’t hold back. He hits far harder than any of Jensen’s crew ever would, and that’s scary; an angry Jensen is an unpredictable Jensen and they both know it.

Jared knows that scares Jensen more than anything. The thought of not knowing what he would do, of not being able to control himself. Usually, most days, Jared does stop. They’ve both been in this long enough to know a black eye can heal just fine, but some things can’t be undone.

Now, though, Jared wants to hurt. He wants Jensen to be scared, he wants him to sting.

“You always have a choice!” Jared stabs a finger at the centre of Jensen’s chest and watches Jensen’s eyes follow it. “You have a choice in every single thing you do in your whole life, and it’s no one else’s fault you’re too fucking chicken shit to make any of the right ones for yourself.”

Jensen’s voice is controlled, but Jared sees his wrist twitching beside his hip. “Stop it, Jared.”

“Stop what, Jensen? Stop telling the truth? You know the truth, right? That thing you and your cronies play fast and loose with on a day to day basis. The thing you wave in front of people’s eyes and dance around like a god damn puppet show! You’re a liar.”

Jared’s too far gone now to reign it back even if he wanted to, even as Jensen starts to vibrate with the effort to keep himself restrained, and in that second, Jared wants him to break more than he’s wanted anything in his entire life.

“You put on your fucking cape and you play the hero but you’re nothing but a goddamn liar, and if this goes south and that girl gets killed then you’ll be a murderer and nothing you’ve ever done is gonna mean jack shit –!”

“I said stop it!”

Jensen breaks. And it’s kind of beautiful, and it’s probably that sort of thinking, Jared realises, that gets him into these messes in the first place.

Jared’s back connects with the sink before he even has time to blink. White hot pain shoots up his spine, but he doesn’t fall; Jensen’s up and out of the room before the spots in Jared’s vision clear.

It could have been worse.

It always could have been worse, so Jared takes the newfound silence to catch his breath, takes the smashed plates and bruised spine for what they are.

Just another chapter in this thing that is his life.


Jared can’t stay in the house.

He’s still too mad, and they both need time to cool off. At least that’s what Jared tells himself. The truth is, he’s still reeling, and he knows it will drive Jensen up the wall not knowing where he is.

He goes to the office, because that’s where they’ll be. Sure enough, Jeff, Felicia, and Misha are crowded around Jeff’s desk looking at something on his laptop. Jared stands and stares at them through the glass for a second, even though he knows they’ll already know he’s there. They probably knew he was coming before he did.

They’re the brains of the outfit, after all; three incredibly intelligent kamikaze stooges. Jared wonders sometimes how a bunch of people so fucking capable can be so goddamn ignorant.

“Padalecki,” Jeff greets blandly, giving nothing away. No change there, then.

He knew Jared was coming. He knew this was going to happen last week when he pulled Jared in here and chewed him out about his morals. Jared wants to punch him, but he knows it would be futile. And he’s fresh out of good china to throw.

He settles for nodding silently. Felicia keeps her eyes locked on the screen awkwardly. Misha’s as unfazed as always.

“Hey Jared, did you know that there’s approximately six hundred thousand rivets in each tower of the Golden Gate bridge?”

Jared raises an eyebrow tiredly and sends out a quick internal prayer that the bridge is still standing by morning. “No, I did not know that. Thanks, Misha.”

Misha just drops his head and starts mumbling back into the papers. “Fascinating.”

“Little late for a draft submission, ain’t it?” Jeff is sprawled again in that way of his, and Jared feels the anger that’s been bubbling away on low heat since the kitchen start to furl its way back into his gut.

“If you already knew the source, why did you waste my time on all that Rossenbaum bullshit?” Jared’s too tired and too mad to beat around the bush. He wants it to come out loud and angry and brash, but it just sounds quietly rough. Drained. Done.

Misha and Felicia stutter in their movements and then look towards him with a helplessness that reminds Jared of his little sister’s face when their parents used to argue after bedtime.

Jeff, unsurprisingly, doesn’t even flinch. “I didn’t know the source,” he replies, flicking his hands out palms up as if to signify how very clean his hands are of all of this. No blood here, gentlemen. What a fucking joke. “You wouldn’t tell me. So I had to take matters into my own hands.”

Jared snaps before he can reign himself in. “You’ve just put an innocent woman’s life on the line for a fucking story!” he yells, and Felicia and Misha stop what they’re doing to start edging surreptitiously towards the door.

Felicia nods towards her desk outside. “I’ll just, uh…”

Jeff nods discretely and the door clicks shut behind them; Misha only walks two steps and plonks his ass down on the cubicle chair directly opposite the window to watch the whole show. Fucking Misha, Jared thinks.

“Do you even care? Do you people even care what you do to people’s lives?” Jared asks scathingly, because he’s out to hurt and Jeff was right before. Jared’s awesome at his job. He knows exactly what buttons to press to get a reaction, and Jeff’s not immune to that.

“I don’t think you’re really in a position to judge what we do to other people’s lives, Jared. You don’t know…”

“I don’t!” Jared agrees. “I never know – because you don’t ever tell me! You tell me what I want to hear – skirt around the facts so I don’t ask any of my inane little questions and then call me in to clean up your fucking messes to the press, and you know what? I’m done!” He leans forwards and spits the words like he’s delivering an assignment: “I’m done with your secrets, and I’m done with your little revenge missions…”

“Are you done with Jensen?”

Jared’s gaze locks with Jeff’s then, calm as you please, pointed and assessing and this is what he wants. This is what Jeff Morgan wants more than peace, more than sources, more than victory. He wants Jared out of the picture.

He never, ever wanted him in it the first place. And it claws at Jared more than any of the other stuff. So naturally, he goes for Jeff’s weak spot.

He goes for Jensen.

“You know what the funny thing is?” He catches a flicker in Jeff’s left eye and knows it’s because he’s noticed how steady Jared’s voice has become. “You actually think you’re helping him.”

“I am helping him.”

Jared barks out a laugh and it’s short and rough like gravel. “You’re going to get him killed.”

“Jensen knows the danger, son.”

Jared just turns to the door. “Does Samantha?”

Felicia and Misha are long gone when he walks out. He doesn’t bother closing Jeff’s door.

THEN superhero RBB

The lights from the big wheel illuminate them as they gather on the picnic benches.

“So how did you all meet?” Jared asks, leaning forward to snag a little bit of the cotton candy that Danneel’s using more as an accessory than for actual sustenance.

They’re an odd little group, Jared’s found. Kind of mismatched, completely unpredictable, but it works, in an odd, complimentary way. They bounce off each other in a way that Jared’s never seen before, never seemed to have with anyone else. It’s unsettling. And when Jared’s unsettled by something, he questions it. Hard.

Chris shrugs and looks out over the fairground, his eyes snagging on a couple of short-skirted tweens and following them over to the bumper cars. “Oh, you know… Around.”

They also share the uncanny habit of avoidance. Answering a question with a question, distraction in the form of a tangent, or in Chris’s case, outright dismissal.

“Well it wasn’t on the football team, right?” Jared pushes, because subtlety’s really not his virtue. He has other strengths. “How come you play football but Jensen doesn’t?”

Misha lifts his gaze from the Rubik’s Cube he’d won on the hook-a-duck earlier. “Uh, how come you never wondered why I’m not on the team?” He lifts a scrawny arm and thrusts it towards Jared’s face. “Football is a game of agility as well as brute strength, you know.”

Jared pushes his arm out of his eye line and leans more towards Jensen, who has his chin propped on his hand as he follows their display with amused eyes.

“And how come I can’t come watch you rehearse, huh?” Jared turns a beady eye on Misha, Osric, and Danneel, who are now just watching him with open curiosity. “And how come none of you are in the school band? You play keyboard, right?” he asks Osric, who looks about thirty seconds from just taking him out in a full body tackle. “That’s cool.” Nothing. “You don’t say much, huh?”

Osric lifts his chin a fraction. “I’m introverted,” he deadpans. Misha laughs giddily.

“I mean, you rehearse every night, right?” Jensen nods agreeably. “You guys must be good. I mean who rehearses every night? You don’t think that’s a bit much?”

Chris grunts. “Nosy little fucker, ain’t he?”

Jensen shoots Chris a look, sitting up. “He’s inquisitive.” He bumps his shoulder against Jared’s. “He’s gonna be a journalist.”

Chris nearly falls off the bench. “You’re shittin’ me?” He laughs, his whole face lighting up as he howls. “You’re sweet on a fucking journalist? Jesus, you couldn’t make this stuff up, Jen!” He pauses. “Or maybe Jared could, I dunno!”

This sets him off on another laughing fit and Jared frowns, not entirely comfortable being the butt of a joke he doesn’t really understand. But Jensen just shakes his head and kicks Chris in the side.

“Fuck off, Chris.” He tugs at Jared’s hand to draw him off the bench and points them in the direction of the Ferris wheel. “Just ‘cause you ain’t gettin’ any doesn’t mean you gotta be a hater, man!”

And Jared laughs, because Jensen – he’s kind of funny. He keeps surprising Jared with these little bursts of dark humour and sarcasm that lurk under his easy demeanour and quiet strangeness.

There’s still something there, something that Jared hasn’t quite figured out yet. Like sometimes, when they’re just sitting, Jensen’ll go to say something – just out of the blue, out of nowhere, he’ll take in a breath and turn and open his mouth and Jared will think, here we go, and then just like that, he’ll snap it shut. Turn back round.

“Nothing,” Jensen says to Jared’s raised eyebrow, looking steadily back out at the fields beneath them as they swing in their cart. “It’s nothing.”

Jared’s about to retort then, because when will he ever have a better opportunity to get to the bottom of this, whatever the fuck it is, than when they’re trapped in a free-hanging cage 60 feet above ground level with nowhere to go but down.

He doesn’t, though, in the end, but only because a piercing shriek makes him jolt and then he’s twisting round in his seat to try and pinpoint where it came from.

“Oh my god!” Jared yells, leaning all the way over to get a better look at the guy who’s hanging out the cart opposite them, his fingers white-knuckled around the bar that sprang loose and tipped him out into the cold night air. “Jensen, look…”

But Jensen doesn’t look. Jensen doesn’t look, because seemingly, Jensen’s already seen. At least that’s the only explanation Jared can come up with as to why he’s talking to an otherwise empty cage, and their metal door is hanging off its hinges, and his sorta-maybe boyfriend is tight roping across the metal poles connecting their cage to the one beside them.

For a second, Jared assumes he’s dreaming. It’s a perfectly plausible explanation, except that pinching himself does nothing but bruise him a little and he reasons that if this was dream, Jensen would probably have given him so kind of heroic speech before busting the door open and then tongue-kissing him within an inch of his life before disembarking.

If Jensen doesn’t plummet to his death tonight, Jared’s going to have to have a long talk with him about appropriate “heroic moment” etiquette.

Jared’s halfway to the open gate, the cage tilting dangerously to one side, when a cold draft of wind and a flash of red whisks past him and knocks him back in his seat again.

Danneel’s there when he blinks his eyes open, yelling over to him, one bony hand wrapped around the screaming guy’s wrist to hold him steady as Jensen hops down onto the cage roof beside her.

“Stay put, Jared,” she yells, and Jensen’s eyes snap over to him immediately, searching him out in the cage frantically as if he had suddenly decided it would be a great idea to swing himself up onto the fairground’s feeble excuse for wiring and follow them over.

Because clearly, Jared is the daredevil in this relationship.

Jensen seems to settle once he sees Jared still safely caged, and he reaches down to grab the other guy’s wrist, swinging him up back into the roof.

Quickly. One handed. Without even a grunt. His eyes still locked on Jared with something that looks like an apology.

“Nothing”, Jared’s ass.

It’s the biggest “something” he thinks he’ll ever see in his life.

NOW superhero RBB

As horrible as their fights always are, their reconciliations are epic.

The sweat dries cool and sticky on their skin and Jared knows they should probably move into the bathroom and clean up because it’s gross.

They don’t.

“I think something bad is going to happen,” Jared announces suddenly, because word vomit is his forte and they’ve been dozing in silence for about twenty minutes now.

He feels Jensen tense all the way down his left side and the fingers that had been absently carding through his hair stutter and resume in the same breath.

“Why d’you think that?”

Jared twitches his shoulder lazily and pretends not to hear the way Jensen forces his tone to be casual.

“I just have a feeling.”

Jensen rolls his eyes and shifts so that Jared is underneath him, pinned to the bed with Jensen’s strong fingers wrapped around his wrists.

“You and your feelings,” he mutters as he dips to catch Jared’s lips.

It’s not just a feeling, though. It’s a gut feeling. And Jared’s gut has never been wrong before.

Jensen pulls back, tugging on Jared’s bottom lip as he meets Jared eyes.

“I’m not gonna let anything bad happen to you,” Jensen says finally, and Jared believes him.

In that moment, Jared believes nothing more than that statement, because it’s probably the one truth he can always count on without ever really thinking about it.

He doesn’t bother telling Jensen it’s not himself he’s actually worried about.

Chris-portrait GSTW350

The ironic thing is, Jared doesn’t actually have to release the source for his story to hold.

He has enough evidence without Samantha’s testimony. Fuck, he has enough evidence to take the thing to court. And he’d love nothing more, now that it’s finished, to go in and throw it on Jeff’s desk with a big fat “I told you so,” but unfortunately, because luck is clearly not Jared’s wingman in life, that option is off the table today.

Jared sighs and glances towards Jeff’s still empty office. He’s been MIA all morning, but that’s not unusual. Jeff and Misha can hole themselves up in the lab for days without batting an eye. It doesn’t necessarily mean something dramatically hideous is happening while Jared sits here reformatting his nine-page document from Tahoma to Arial.

Felicia had been here, this morning, when Jared offered her a familiar nod on the way into the office, but now she’s not. And no, Jared can’t pinpoint the exact moment she left, but it’s not particularly noteworthy, either; the girl is a flight risk.

Still, that feeling in his gut is getting worse.

He’s had the news pages held in his browser all morning and he clicks back to them every five minutes to scan. No bombs, no plane crashes, not even a kitten in a tree. As he thought, nothing to worry about.

Sheppard turns up just as Jared’s finger hovers over Jeff’s speed dial.

Sometimes, Jared wishes his gut could be wrong.

THEN superhero RBB

Jared is a journalist. He researches. It’s what he does.

The first search yields nothing. As does the second. He moves to the libraries across town and tries again.

Jared researches Ackles, because Jensen’s last name is pretty much the only solid lead that he has and the boy in question is less than forthcoming with details, considering Jared’s had his tongue down his throat on more than one occasion in the past few months.

Alan Ackles is not difficult to dig up. The guy was flagged in more papers throughout the eighties than the president. Volunteered for youth groups, sponsored walks for harsher gun control – and, in one instance, a heroic save involving an armed robber and a bank clerk.

Turns out the Ackles family is a regular Robin Hood crew, Jared surmises, clicking through another couple of months and pausing on a headline that reads “Caped Crusaders Strike Again.” It’s easy to pick Alan Ackles out of the front page spread, because he looks like Jensen. He’s standing front and centre at the broken window of a downtown apartment block, one hand holding onto the shattered window ledge, the other clinging to a child whose looks no older than four. Flames lick the page edges, smoke obscuring most of the frame, but there are others, behind him – Jared can just make out the outline of another wailing child being held up towards the window like a peace offering, strong hands gripping its tiny waist, waiting for it to be lifted out to safety. They’re not fireman. Jared knew that even in the eighties, firemen didn’t attack burning buildings in jeans with baseball caps pulled low to obscure their faces.

There’s more. Lots more. Capsized fishing boats, derailed trains, terrorist attacks on the water supply. Sometimes there are pictures, sometimes there’s not – but there’s never a name attached to those one’s. Just Crew or Crusade. Never a photo fit.

The last entry under Alan Ackles is an obituary. October 19th, 1990. Cause of death is stated as car accident. “San Francisco will surely miss one of its leading supporters and protectors of the peace,” the last sentence reads.

Jared drags up a picture, a shady black and white number, and the guy standing beside Alan Ackles is no surprise. Jensen had said they’d been old friends, after all, and why wouldn’t Jared believe Jensen? The kid is clearly a vessel of truth and openness. Still, it’s pretty hilarious to compare the grinning, dark haired, clean-shaven guy with the “Uncle Jim” Jared knows. It’s the person on Alan’s left that Jared leans closer to.

His name is emblazoned underneath in the caption, as if Jared wouldn’t recognise him.

“Well fuck,” Jared breathes, leaning back in his seat and ignoring the librarian’s horrified “Shhh.”

NOW superhero RBB

Jeff looks like someone’s run him over. “They’ve got Jensen” is Jared’s greeting, and it’s nothing he doesn’t already know, but his blood still runs cold.


His name is Richard Speight, apparently.

“Him and Alan – they had beef.” Chris is stripping what looks to be a machete with long, even swipes, but doesn’t look up at them.

“What, like, they argued?” Jared ventures, then winces because what is he, a fucking second grade teacher?

“They were…nemeses.” Misha’s delivery makes it sound like they’re in some kind of cartoon action sequence, and for all intents and purposes, they might as well be. Jared doesn’t quite know what they want him to do or why the hell they brought him here, of all places.

Everything’s moving too fast. Everything since Shepherd turned up at his office and announced “It’s bad, beanpole,” has been kind of blurry around the edges.

“We assumed he’d moved on.” Felicia is there, suddenly, a stack of papers under one arm and a tablet of some kind on the other. “Actually, we hoped he’d been killed, but you know, beggars can’t be choosers.” Her glasses ensure that her vocabulary doesn’t sway onlookers to question her genius.

She flips her tablet round so Jared can glimpse a grainy CCTV photo of who he’s assuming is Speight. He looks kind of scrawny. Like the guy who sometimes turns up at your door and wants to sell you dictionaries. Jared doesn’t really follow.
“He’s been off the radar for years – turns out, with good reason.”

Jared shakes his head. Behind him, Osric is turning a Petri dish full of liquid into a mini tsunami. “I don’t get it.”

“He wants us dead.” Osric speaks up and lets the water fall back into the dish without sloshing over the sides. He turns his head and catches Jared’s gaze and it’s probably the most he’s said to Jared since they were 17. “He wants to stop us once and for all.”

“We’ve been following his movements since we clocked him in Montana a few months ago.” Felicia is back, sliding the papers in her arms across the tables towards each of them. Jared stops one with his palm and stares down into the guy’s face again. This is the guy who has Jensen. This is the guy who could ruin his life.

Jared always figured he’d be taller.

“So wait…” A thought suddenly occurs to him. “You knew? You knew he was back?”

Felicia winces. “We had an inkling”

And Jared’s back to being confused. “What do you mean, an inkling?”

Suddenly another set of photos are being dropped over his head, landing in a messy pile beside his hands. His own face stares back at him. Open, laughing, completely unaware that he’s got a target between his eyes.

“Wh…” He looks up to Jeff towering over him, his gaze down on the photos that Jared never knew existed before now.

“They were sent to Jensen. Two pictures, every two days. This one was two days ago.”

He drops one last picture on the pile. Eyes closed, face lax with sleep. It’s him alright. Perfectly vulnerable. Perfectly oblivious. Jared wants to throw up.

“It’s Speight’s MO. He likes to taunt you, make you sweat.”

“This is why he was so worried about where I was going?” Jared mumbles, picking up the photos, feeling the weight of them in his hands. Trying to recall how fucking agitated he was with every question Jensen fired at him like some nosy little housewife.

Felicia lays a hand on his forearm. “Speight knew Jensen wouldn’t let this go, Jared. You’re his weakness. They know it.”

Jared shakes his head. “I don’t get it. Why did they take him? They can’t just walk in and kidnap someone like Jensen, something must have happened…”

“Something did.”

Jeff slides into the seat beside Jared, dropping the article in front of him, and the pictures scatter like ash. His name is in block capitals across the cover page; Jared remembers typing it not a week ago. Working title. Story by Jared Padalecki.
“The article? What does that have to do with it?”

“Everything.” Felicia hits a button on her tablet and the screen on the wall in front of them springs to life. Samantha Smith stares back at them in a wide shot, smiling, her eyes bright but guarded as she leans in towards Jared over their lattes. Two weeks ago, Jared’s mind supplies. Coffee shop, downtown.

“Sam?” Jared’s eyebrows knot, but he can’t stop looking at the screen, his mind going over and over again everything about that day. The coffee had been too hot. They had to wait a bit to sip it – and during that time, Sam had talked. About her two kids, about her new placement at the walk-in clinic on Bush Street. They hadn’t talked about the story. Not one word. Jared had everything he needed at that point, anyway.

“That’s not Sam.” Jeff reaches into his inside jacket pocket and removes a square of paper. Another photo. He puts it on the table between them so Samantha Smith’s lifeless face stares up at them. “That’s Sam.”

Jared feels bile start to rise in the back of his throat at the sight of her grey skin. Her blank, staring eyes, the bruises around her throat.

“I…I don’t get it.”

Her youngest is five. She has a thing for pandas; she’s starting kindergarten in the fall.

“You know what a shape shifter is, Jared?” Misha breezes in out of nowhere, his lab coat blowing behind him like a crisp white cape as he grabs the tablet out of Felicia’s hands and she makes a squeak of protest.

The legs of the bench Jared is sitting on make a horrible screeching sound as he pushes it back, clambers onto shaky legs. “No, no no – this can’t be happening.” His fingers tighten in his hair, but this is just a nightmare.

Misha’s still talking, clicking through slides like he’s conducting some bizarre power point to a bunch of college students.

“Mathew Cohen, born September 28th 1982…bizarre ability to transform his body into any human form that he touches… Richard Speight’s right hand man…”

All Jared can think about is those fucking kids. Sitting there in their fucking panda pyjamas wondering why their mother is never coming home.

Because of him, he realises, and it’s like a sledgehammer to the gut. This is all because of him. Because he had to write that fucking article.

“The coroner put Sam’s time of death at around three weeks ago, Jared.” Misha raises his voice: “Jared!”

Jared’s snaps his head towards the noise, blinks.

“Cohen killed Sam and took her form to manipulate you. To try to find out what you know.”

“Know about what?” Jared breathes, because hell if Jared knows. He has no clue what he can do to fix any of this. They’re supposed to be telling him, they’re supposed to be the experts in all things villainous. But the look that passes between them tells Jared he may have over estimated them. He feels his way to the nearest stool and lowers himself down.

Jeff sounds gruff as sandpaper when he speaks up. “Jensen didn’t just walk into their hands, Jared. He had an ultimatum. You know things they want. Things they’d kill you to get. Jensen knew you’d never give them the information.”

“They think he knows.” Realisation dawns on Jared like a brick of lead. “They think I told him everything.”

Misha leans in inquisitively. “And by the look on your face, I assuming this isn’t the case.”

Jared’s head thunks to the table. “This can’t be happening.”



ayane42ayane42 on February 14th, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
hey i started reading this, but i had to stop because the light on light is making it really hard to read. even trying to highlight the passages are light :(

is this on ao3? i need something with more contrast to be able to read it.

harriganharrigan on February 14th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
I have the same problem. Have you got a [view in own style] checkbox at the top of the page? Checking that should render it in your own chosen style so you can read it more easily.
ayane42ayane42 on February 14th, 2014 10:09 pm (UTC)
i feel like a complete noob. i don't see a check box that give me that option :(
Annaleicherry_kiss_8 on February 18th, 2014 10:25 am (UTC)
Try this...http://archiveofourown.org/works/1203850

Sorry, it took me while to obtain one of those new fangled invite thingies.

If you have any problems or see any gaping mistake just let me know - as you can see I'm an archiveofourown virgin!
Annaleicherry_kiss_8 on February 18th, 2014 10:27 am (UTC)
Hi there! Thanks for reading (or at least trying to...!)

If you're still having problems I've just uploaded it onto the archiveofourown site here...http://archiveofourown.org/works/1203850