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11 June 2010 @ 06:19 pm
fic: a spotlight on these desolate dreams (part two.)  
[back to part one.]

Jared gets a succinct call from Captain Morgan at eight the next morning.

Only half an hour passes before Jared is strolling into the station, dressed in a pair of pinstriped, charcoal slacks and a dusty gray button down. His gun holster is strapped securely in place and hidden beneath his black pea coat. He flicks the brim of his fedora up to clear his vision as he walks into the precinct.

There’s a visitor’s badge waiting for him, and he grabs a cup of shitty police station coffee before heading straight to Morgan’s office. He’s sitting behind his desk in a rumpled suit and Jared gives him a nod as he drops down across from him.

“You rang?” Jared asks before taking a sip of his coffee. It burns his tongue and settles like acid in his stomach. That’s one perk of living in New York – great coffee.

“I did,” Morgan replies. He shuffles a few papers and then pauses to look up at him. “There’s a department debriefing in five minutes. Now, you’re not allowed in.” Jared starts to protest but shuts up after a stern glare from Morgan. “But after I get started, I never really notice who slips in the back.”

“Perhaps you should pay better attention,” Jared tells him with a smirk. Morgan raises an eyebrow.

“You should thank your lucky stars that my concentration seems to be a bit fuzzy around you, kid,” he replies. Jared just gives him a grateful smile. There’s a knock on the door and Jared sits up a little straighter, all professional once it’s not just an old family friend he’s faced with. “Come in.”

Jared turns his head and suddenly understands all of Jensen’s references to pretty boy detectives. The two men that enter the room are both very attractive – enough to make even Jared’s near celibate libido stand up and take notice. Jared clears his throat and sets his coffee cop down on Morgan’s desk before standing up.

“Ah, right,” Morgan says. “This is Sergeant Misha Collins and his partner, Junior Detective Justin Bartha. Boys, this is Jared Padalecki. He’s a PI from New York and I’ve given him carte blanche to work alongside you on the McCoy case. So you might as well get friendly with each other.”

Jared very nearly rolls his eyes at Morgan’s stubborn refusal to call Jared by his new name. Oh well. Maybe it’s a good thing for him to keep his west coast and east coast personas separate. Jared steps forward to shake their hands and can’t help but notice that both detectives have gorgeous, crystalline blue eyes. Shit, they must be able to make any birdie sing with eyes like that.

“Nice to meet you,” Jared says to both of them. Collins narrows his eyes and Bartha’s eyes widen slightly.

“Wait, carte blanche?” Collins asks, looking right past Jared. “Who hired him? I spoke with the McCoys this morning and they didn’t mention anything.”

“He’s working with Jensen Ackles,” Morgan replies, and that’s stretching the truth a bit. “You’re still top dog on this, Collins. Just throw the kid a bone every once in awhile. He knows what he’s doing.”

“I know you!” Bartha suddenly exclaims. Jared raises an eyebrow and looks a little harder at his pretty face. He’s pretty sure he’d remember if they had met. “Yeah, Jared Padalecki. You solved that case ten years ago, back when you were in high school, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” Jared replies awkwardly. The whole being kidnapped and getting the shit kicked out of him by a murderer thing isn’t something he really likes to rehash with strangers, but that never stopped him from getting recognized all the time. He went from being Jensen Ackles’s friend to being that kid who caught the teacher that killed that poor student. He was never just himself, and that’s one of the many reasons why he left and started all over. “But look, eyes aren’t on me right now. I’m old news.”

“No, I know,” Bartha replies. “I just mean that, well, your story sort of inspired me, you know? You’re one of the reasons I became a cop, I think, and I just – “

“You’ll have to excuse my partner,” Collins interrupts, putting one hand on Bartha’s chest and pushing him back. “He’s young, new, and frankly, a bit too fucking eager.”

“Well, that was uncalled for,” Bartha replies, glaring at Collins before turning back to Jared. “But anyway, yeah. Private eye. I’m totally on board.”

“You three mind taking your damn tea party out of my office?” Morgan asks gruffly. The three men turn to look at him and he gestures vaguely towards the conference room. “High-profile homicide, ring any bells?”

They all straighten up and Collins gives Jared a lingering look conveying thinly veiled annoyance before he follows Morgan out of his office. Bartha pats him on the shoulder and gives him a thumbs up. Jared gives him a slightly bewildered nod before he turns to leave.

Jared takes the time to poke around Morgan’s office and finish his crappy, lukewarm coffee before he checks his watch and stealthily slips into the back of the conference room.

Morgan, Collins, and Bartha are up front. Morgan pretends not to see him, Collins glares at him, and for one baffling second he thinks Bartha is going to wave at him. Instead he merely beams, and it’s almost contagious.

Jared finds out everything the police know, which sadly isn’t much. There are no suspects. Jensen Ackles came in voluntarily upon hearing the news and after questioning was dismissed as a person of interest. Sandy McCoy was incredibly famous, but she had no known enemies. She never publically or privately feuded with anyone. She was beloved in this city, and they’re going to have a veritable witch hunt on their hands if they don’t get something soon.

Steven McCoy has offered a fifty-thousand dollar reward for anyone with information that could lead to the capture of his daughter’s killer, which means their tip lines are ringing off of the hook with bogus claims.

Morgan ends the debriefing by telling them they’ve got diddly squat, and that everyone needs to get off of their lazy asses and bring him something soon. He even tosses one pleading look in Jared’s direction, and he slips out of the conference room before Morgan is done ranting.

Jared is casually leaning against the wall by the time everyone filters out of the conference room. Morgan nudges Collins and Bartha in his direction and he stands up a little straighter as they approach.

“Alright, superstar,” Collins tells him. He jerks his head in the direction of the bullpen and he follows the detectives over to their desks. Bartha sits on the corner of his and Jared spots two black fedoras sitting on top of messy stacks of papers. Jared’s interest piques a little. “Tell me you’ve got something. It’s my fuckin’ ass on the line and I’m man enough to admit that I haven’t got shit. I’ve talked to everyone – friends, family, staff. We even went and fuckin’ talked to the chef at the goddamn restaurant she last ate at. Zilch.”

“You owe so much money to the swear jar,” Bartha tells them, and then gracefully leans back to grab his hat and drop it on his head before rolling back up into a sitting position. Jared stares for only a moment. Being back in California makes him feel eighteen again – and that apparently includes his libido.

“Fuck off, princess,” Collins replies. Bartha sneers and gives him the finger.

“I need to see the body,” Jared spits out. There, he said it. He’s dreading it, but it needs to be done. He needs as much information as possible. Collins and Bartha turn to him and Bartha gives him a soft, understanding smile. Jared wonders just how much he knows.

The detectives lead him to the forensics lab and Jared takes a deep breath to steel himself as Sandy’s body is wheeled out. Bartha puts a steadying hand on his shoulder and that’s when Jared realizes that his hands are clenched into fists at his sides.

Sandy is dead. Her eyes are closed and her skin is pale, just starting to turn a waxy blue color. Jared feels anger boiling in his belly and sadness tearing at his heart. He’s full of regret and rage and pain, and he just swallows it back and gives Bartha a tight smile.

“Official cause of death is a single gunshot to the heart at close range,” the coroner says as he pulls the sheet down. Jared’s mouth twists in a grimace at the sight of the gruesome autopsy scar. He points to the small hole in her chest. “The bullet went straight through. No bullet, so we’re still trying to identify the weapon. There are ligature marks on her neck that indicate that she may have been strangled.”

Jared tears his eyes away from Sandy’s body to look at the coroner, swallowing thickly as he does.

“The only other thing I found was evidence that her hands were at some point bound, most likely with a leather cord, but her hands were free when she was found,” the coroner replies. He lifts Sandy’s left hand to turn it, showing Jared the marks on her wrist. Just underneath them is the stamp from Hyde, and Jared’s eyes linger on it.

“Wait a minute,” Jared mumbles. “The stamp.”

“It’s from Hyde,” Collins informs him. “We checked it out.”

This one is from Hyde,” Jared replies, gloved fingertip hovering over the red celtic knot. He thinks back to the stamps on Jensen and Katie’s skin – plain red ink just below the bend of their wrists. Jared leans in closer and squints. “But this one – give me a UV light.”

Bartha gets the handheld black light from the counter and hands it over. He flicks it on and cradles Sandy’s wrist in his hand as he makes a pass over the stamp.

“Holy shit,” Collins exclaims. A second stamp glows brightly under the UV light. It’s smudged, but still legible. “It’s two stamps.”

“Two different clubs,” Jared clarifies. “Some of them use UV stamps so the ink isn’t visible. They’re harder to fake.”

“We only have record of her going to Hyde last night,” Bartha says. Jared looks a little closer at the stamps. “She went somewhere else?”

“The UV ink is on top of the red ink, so she had to have gone to the second club after Jensen dropped her off at home,” Jared replies. He furrows his brow and stands up. “Why would she claim to be tired and get a ride all the way home only to turn around and go right back out to Hollywood? That makes no sense.”

“Is there any way to tell which club this stamp came from?” Collins asks. Jared gives him a short shake of his head and inspects the stamp again. It’s a simple asterisk with a circle around it. Perfectly indistinct. It could be from anywhere.

“Once upon a time I could have told you,” Jared says wistfully. He trails a fingertip across Sandy’s bruised wrist and swallows hard. “I knew every club – every stamp, every codeword, every handshake. All of it.”

“Hollywood’s changed a lot in the last ten years,” Collins reminds him. “Now you don’t know shit, superstar.”

“You’re right,” Jared replies. He pulls his phone out of his pocket and Bartha turns the UV light back on. Jared snaps a picture of the illuminated stamp and then gently sets Sandy’s wrist down. He gives her face one last long look and then turns away. “But I know someone who does.”

“I’ve never been more scared in my entire life,” Sandy admits in a delicate whisper as she blots at Jared’s bruised temple with a cool rag. It’s Jared’s first night home after being released from the hospital and Sandy caught a ride all the way down from the hills just to see him.

The little house has been far too lonely since his grandfather died. Graduation is in three days and he just put a violent killer in jail. It’s been quite a month for him, and Jared tries to ignore how it feels like he’s drowning.

“That makes two of us,” Jared chuckles roughly. The laugh makes his chest hurt and he winces. Sandy is curled up next to him in his too-small bed and she brushes his hair out of his face with perfectly groomed nails.

“Jensen was in a panic. I’ve never seen him more terrified,” Sandy tells him, lips warm and soft against the side of his head. Jared swallows hard and wraps his arm around her. “He would have burned the world down to find you, if that’s what it took. But you made it easy for him. I still can’t believe you lo-jacked yourself.”

“One of my more brilliant ideas,” Jared replies. Sandy laughs a little and props herself up on her elbow to look at him curiously. He furrows his brow.

“What?” Jared asks. She flips her silky chestnut hair over her shoulder and puts her hand on Jared’s stomach.

“Life is short, you know? It’s precious and you shouldn’t waste it.” She runs her fingers through his hair and he hums at the comforting feeling it brings him. “You should tell Jensen how you feel about him.”

Jared pulls back, ignoring the protesting burn that thrums through his body at the action. She gives him a soft little smile and Jared blinks.

“Sandy, no. That’s – that’d be stupid,” Jared replies, tripping over his words in a way he never does. “He’s with Danneel and it’s just a little crush.”

“It’s not a crush,” Sandy tells him. “You’re so in love with that boy, Jared. Real love. Your face when he came into that hospital room was like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

“It’d be a bad idea,” Jared tells her, ignoring the lump in his throat. “It’d be stupid.”

“Sometimes bad ideas bring wonderful results,” she replies. “Jared, you’re amazing and you deserve to be happy.”

“I’m kind of fond of you too, Princess,” Jared replies. She smirks and he reaches out to touch her wrist. “Can we just not talk about Jensen right now?”

Sandy nods and leans in to kiss his forehead before cuddling up next to him. He wraps an arm around her and closes his eyes.

Had he known then that it would be the last time he would ever see her, he might have held on a bit tighter.

Collins and Bartha take Jared to the place where Sandy’s body was discovered, still blocked off with caution tape, but there’s nothing to be found.

She obviously wasn’t killed here, and there are no signs of a struggle – no tire tracks or shoe prints or anything that could help.

They spend the day poring over all the evidence taken from Sandy’s condo and they find nothing out of the ordinary. They finally admit that they have nothing more to go on until they find out what the second stamp on Sandy’s wrist means, and Jared parts ways with the blue-eyed detectives with promises to call them as soon as he does a little research.

Jared parks his rental car across the street from Jensen’s mansion and rolls his eyes at the photographers camped out front. He leans against the car and smokes a cigarette as he looks them over. They’re rabid scavengers, foaming at the mouth and ready to make a few bucks by exploiting someone’s pain. Jared is half-tempted to fire his gun in the air and watch them scatter, but that would probably be considered unethical. He can’t even bust them for loitering because they’re off of Jensen’s property, nestled safely in the public roadway.

Jared tries not to think about how at the worst of times, he’s not all that different from them. He just works in the shadows instead of the sunshine.

He flicks his cigarette butt on the ground, crushing it into the asphalt with his toe before making his way towards Jensen’s house. The photographers part like the Red Sea, and Jared doesn’t even turn his head at any of their questions. He pulls his fedora down over his face when the flashes start, because the last thing he needs is his name splashed all over the papers again.

He rings the doorbell and a middle-aged man in a suit answers the door. There’s the staff that was so obviously absent during Jared’s first visit. The man raises a haughty eyebrow at Jared.

“I’m here to see Jensen Ackles,” Jared tells him. The butler waves a dismissive hand at him.

“Mr. Ackles isn’t taking any visitors,” he replies in a snooty tone. Jared grits his teeth and narrows his eyes a little.

“If you’ll just tell him that Jared Padalecki is here to – “

“My apologies, Mr. Padalecki,” the man replies instantly. Jared blinks at him. “Mr. Ackles informed me that you might be coming. Please, come in.”

Jared follows the butler into the house and through the foyer. It’s more of the house than Jared got to see on his first visit, and he looks around to drink it in. It’s all very grand, very Jensen, with its high arched ceilings and lush, sprawling rooms. The butler pauses in front of an ornately carved wooden door.

“He’s in his office,” the man tells him. “You may go in, sir.”

Jared watches the man hurry away and shakes his head with a smirk. He turns towards the door and knocks once before turning the handle and walking inside.

“Ah, wonderful,” Jensen says without looking up. He’s sitting at a large mahogany desk covered with papers with his head in his hand. There’s a pen in his other hand and even from where Jared is standing he can tell that the end has been viciously bitten. It turns out giving Jensen the benefit of the doubt was a good idea; he seems to be very invested in his work. “Could you bring me a glass of ice? And while you’re at it, pour some scotch in there.”

“I would,” Jared tells him. “If I didn’t think I would need a map to find the kitchen.”

“Oh,” Jensen says when he looks up. His hair is combed into a neat side part, slicked back with gel. The dark circles under his eyes do nothing to rival Jared’s, but they’re close. “I didn’t know it was you. But hey, who needs ice?”

Jensen gets up and Jared swallows hard. He’s dressed in a navy blue three-piece suit with a white shirt and blood red tie. He looks gorgeous and Jared drinks in the view like a man just rescued from the desert. Jensen goes over to the wet bar and overturns two glasses before pulling out a bottle of scotch. He pours about two fingers into each glass and hands one to Jared.

“Cheers,” he says, and clinks his glass against Jared’s before knocking half of his back. Jared takes a sip and licks his lips. The liquor is aged and smooth, much better than the swill Jared has grown used to over the last decade. Jensen looks at him for a long moment and then reaches out to take Jared’s fedora off of his head and drop it onto his own. It’s too big for him and Jared nearly smiles. “I do hope you’ve come bearing good news, Padalecki.”

“I come with a question, actually,” Jared replies. Jensen nods and leans against his desk, crossing one leg over the other as he flicks the brim of Jared’s hat up so he can see better. He finishes the last of his scotch and winces a little before setting the glass down. “You went to the office today?”

“Yeah, I did. Thought it would take my mind off of things,” Jensen says with a humorless chuckle. He looks up at Jared and he can see the pain in those green eyes, barely masked with a cool indifference. “And it did, for a bit. I spent hours up to my elbows in corporate bullshit. And then you know what I did? I decided I wanted to ask my best friend out for a few drinks. Blow off some steam, you know? I had the phone in my fuckin’ hand before I remembered that she’s dead. After that I didn’t feel so much like working.”

“I’m sorry, Jensen,” Jared says uselessly. “I know this isn’t easy for you.”

“Yeah, well. Life ain’t easy,” Jensen replies. He reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose and Jared’s hat slips down to cover his eyes. In that moment he looks untouchable, almost like the cover of some noir crime epic. Jared bites his lip and looks away. “Anyway, you said you had a question?”

“Yeah.” Jared pulls his phone out of his pocket and finds the picture of the club stamp. “I saw Sandy this morning.” He swallows when Jensen closes his eyes and winces. “And I saw the stamp from Hyde on her wrist that matched the ones you and Katie were sporting, but there was a second stamp on top of it. I was hoping you could tell me where it was from.”

“But we only went to Hyde that night,” Jensen replies. He walks over to Jared and furrows his brow. Jared hands over his phone and Jensen squints as he inspects the picture. “Yeah, I know that stamp. It’s from 500 BC. Katie heard about it from someone or other after it opened up. A new watering hole for the stupidly rich and infamous, you know? But I haven’t been there in weeks. It wasn’t really Sandy’s scene either. I don’t understand. I took her home from Hyde. I watched her go inside.”

“She obviously didn’t stay there,” Jared tells him. Jensen rubs his chin and looks up helplessly at Jared. “What can you tell me about this club?”

“It’s Bradley Cooper’s place,” Jensen replies. When Jared just stares at him, Jensen continues. “He’s this high-roller that came here on the train from nowhere. I’m not sure what his game is. I’ve never even met him, just seen him around.”

“Alright. Thanks, Jensen. That helps,” Jared tells him. He puts his phone back into his pocket and looks over at him. “I’ll head over there tonight. Check it out.”

Jensen lets out a bark of laughter and Jared raises an eyebrow. Jensen looks at him with mirth in his eyes and flicks the brim of the fedora up again.

“You think you’re just gonna waltz into 500 BC?” Jensen asks. He takes the fedora off of his head and reaches up to put it back on Jared’s. It smells faintly of Jensen’s expensive cologne and Jared knows that’ll keep him up tonight. “That’s one of the most exclusive spots in the city. Makes Hyde look like a roadside diner. Cover alone is five bills, and the waiting list stretches from here to the Atlantic.”

“But not for you, of course,” Jared says as he adjusts his hat. Jensen raises an eyebrow and goes over to pour himself another drink. “You could waltz right in, I’m sure.”

“Of course I could,” Jensen replies. Jared grins and Jensen spins around to face him. “Oh no. I told you we weren’t going to pull that shit. I’m not your rich, spunky sidekick anymore. That ship sailed when you fucking bolted on me.”

“This isn’t high school, Jensen,” Jared reminds him fervently. Jensen just takes another sip of his drink. “This isn’t trying to find some kid’s runaway dad or digging up dirt on the principal. This is about finding the person who killed someone important to us.”

“To us?” Jensen replies snidely. Jared narrows his eyes and stomps over to Jensen. He pins him against the wet bar, hands on ether side of Jensen’s hips as he bores into his eyes. Jensen leans back a little, eyes widening slightly at Jared’s sudden proximity.

“Don’t give me that shit right now. I get it, alright? You’re pissed at me for leaving,” Jared grits out. Jensen swallows hard and narrows his eyes, the tip of his nose almost brushing Jared’s. “But do not try to belittle my feelings. I may have left, but that doesn’t mean I stopped caring about any of you. Not for one fucking second.”

“Noted,” Jensen replies. He reaches up to grip the lapels of Jared’s jacket for a moment before he pushes him away. He takes a breath and scratches the back of his neck. “Fuck, you got big. You always use your body as a weapon?”

“It comes in handy,” Jared replies. He’s breathing a little harder than he’d like and he swallows hard, straightening his jacket before turning away. A few moments later Jensen thumps him on the back and comes to stand in front of him, loosening the knot in his tie.

“So it’s settled,” Jensen says, and Jared stops pouting long enough to raise an eyebrow. “I get to put on an encore performance as the witty, handsome sidekick. One night only. Be here at eleven, and please, leave the suit at home.”

Jared nods and claps Jensen once on the shoulder before heading out to battle the swarm of paparazzi outside of Jensen’s home, already trying to figure out what he’s going to wear out to some exclusive nightclub he doesn’t even belong in.

It feels like old times.

“Look at this.”

Jared moves his chair closer to his grandfather’s hospice bed, ignoring the shakiness of his hands as he looks down at the magazine. He sees himself smiling back at him, sandwiched between Jensen and Sandy. From what Jared can tell, it was snapped as they were leaving the club last week.

“Okay,” Jared replies. His grandfather coughs, one long rattle from deep within his chest. Jared grimaces. “What about it?”

“I thought you wanted to be a PI, kid?” He asks, and Jared’s eyes snap to his in an instant. They look shadowed and sunken in. Jared knows he doesn’t have much time. “Follow in my footsteps.”

“I do,” Jared replies instantly. “I’m going to.”

“I taught you to keep a low profile, to blend in,” his grandfather says in a voice that’s so tired and weak that Jared can barely recognize it. “And you turn around and get your face plastered all over the cover of one of the most subscribed to magazines in the damn country?”

“I – I’m sorry,” Jared replies thickly. “I didn’t know that was going to happen. They invited me out and I just – it’s nice to have friends.”

“Of course it is, Runt,” his grandfather says, using the nickname Jared never managed to shake, not even after his growth spurts. “But only you would befriend the most famous kids in the goddamn state.”

“I’m sorry,” Jared says again. He’s unapologetic and brash with everyone else, but his grandfather can never fail to make him feel like a little boy.

“Stuff your sorries in a sack, kid,” he replies. He struggles to sit up and Jared hovers over him, eyes wide and chest aching. “I just worry about you. I don’t have much time left, Runt. You know that. I want to know you’ll be okay after I’m gone.”

“I will. You’ve taught me so much,” Jared replies thickly. Tears form in his eyes and he takes a deep breath to stave them off. “I’ll be fine.”

“I don’t want to see these kids get you in trouble,” he reiterates, and Jared nods. “Be careful.”

“I will,” Jared promises. “There won’t be any trouble.”

His grandfather nods tiredly and pats the back of Jared’s hand. They share a lingering look, the beginning of a very long goodbye, and Jared’s heart clenches in his chest.

Two weeks later his grandfather succumbs to cancer and for the first time in his life, Jared Padalecki feels very much alone.

But now he has friends, wonderful friends who do whatever they can to help lessen the pain.

Maybe he won't be so alone after all.

“This is bullshit.”

Collins is pacing back and forth, wearing a path across the floor of Morgan’s office. Bartha is absently stirring his coffee and looking at Jared over the top of his black-rimmed glasses, keeping his mouth shut and staying out of his partner’s way.

“I’m gonna have to side with Padalecki on this one,” Morgan replies. Bartha winces and Collins turns on Morgan with wide eyes.

What?” Collins demands. “Explain to me why we should sit idly by while a fuckin’ PI and a witness go waltzing into the last place we know our vic was before she was killed?”

“Because,” Jared cuts in before Morgan can answer. “If you two go in there flashing your badges all you’re going to find is a whole lot of zipped lips. Jensen knows these people. We can get in, no questions asked, no badges necessary, and try to figure out what it was that Sandy was doing there.”

“Then why can’t Bartha and I go in undercover?” Collins asks, but it’s obvious by now that he’s only grasping at straws. He knows he isn’t going to win this round.

“You heard him,” Bartha says as he pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “It’s the most exclusive club in Hollywood and there’s no way we can get a foot in the door without raising any flags. Ackles can walk right in unnoticed.”

“Fuckin’ Christ, Bartha,” Collins spits. “Whose side are you on?”

“Uh, whatever side catches the killer quickest?” Bartha replies, raising an eyebrow. Collins’s mouth opens and closes and he blinks before standing up a little straighter.

“Well, shit. Way to make a point, rookie.” Collins reaches up to scratch at his hair. Bartha smiles smugly and Collins glares at him. “Fuck it, I’m in. But I want these two to wear wires and for us to be stationed outside.”

“I’m fine with that,” Jared replies easily. Morgan nods and kicks his feet up onto his desk.

“Same here,” Morgan says. “Set it up, Collins. Stay close but don’t get in Padalecki’s way. He knows – “

“– what he’s doing,” Collins replies with a roll of his eyes. “So I’ve heard. And seen, I must admit. Don’t fuck up tonight, superstar.”

“I’d hate to disappoint you,” Jared replies, tossing Collins a little wink. He snorts and claps Jared on the shoulder before heading out of Morgan’s office in a flurry. Bartha sidles up next to him and Jared glances at him. “Well, he’s just a fuckin’ ray of sunshine, ain’t he?”

“Yeah, it’s weird how nice he’s being to you,” Bartha says. Jared blinks and Bartha turns to him with a wide grin. Jared gets distracted by his eyes, big and blue behind the lenses of his glasses. “Want to sneak five minutes and go get some coffee?”

“Depends,” Jared says. “You talkin’ that mud in the lounge or a real cup of coffee?”

“Real coffee,” Bartha says with a wink. He nudges Jared towards the door and pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “On me.”

Jared smiles and lets the young detective lead him out of the office.

Collins and Bartha catch a ride with Jared over to Jensen’s house after he explains that either a non-descript van or a police cruiser pulling up would send the shutterbugs into a frenzy and most likely blow their cover.

By the time they arrive there are only a few dedicated photographers hanging out front. Jared parks across the street and leans against the side of the car as he lights a cigarette. Collins goes to get the equipment from the trunk and Bartha watches Jared let out a lungful of smoke.

“It always baffles me when I see intelligent people light up,” Bartha tells him. Jared cocks a brow and takes another drag. “Not trying to preach here, but I’m honestly curious. Why’d you even start?”

“Lots of people smoke in New York,” Jared says as he turns his head to exhale. He flicks his ashes on the ground and turns to meet Bartha’s gaze. “Especially the types of people I often have to consort with. It started as an easy way to strike up a conversation with someone, and I guess the habit sort of stuck. It comes in handy more than you’d think.”

“Valid point,” Bartha replies. Collins walks over to them with a briefcase and Jared nods as he crushes his cigarette into the ground with his shoe.

“Could we maybe stop dawdling?” Collins asks with a sarcastic smile. “Hanging around out in the open isn’t doing us any fucking favors.”

Jared nods and pulls his hat down to cover his face as they make their way to the door. He raises his chin with a wide smile when Jensen’s butler answers.

“Hello again, old chum,” Jared says brightly. The butler raises a snooty eyebrow and Jared cocks one right back. “I believe your lord and master is expecting me.”

“Of course, sir,” the man replies snidely. He steps aside to let the three of them enter. “Mr. Ackles is waiting for you in the lounge.”

Jared nods at him and shoves his hands in his pockets as he heads for the lounge with Collins and Bartha flanking him. Jensen looks up when he enters and his cocky smirk dims a little. He’s wearing a pale pink button down shirt with a white skinny tie and expensive looking jeans. He looks like he just stepped out of a fashion magazine, which is to say, just a little ridiculous.

“I wasn’t aware that this was going to be a group affair,” Jensen tells them. “Evening, detectives.”

“They won’t be accompanying us into the club,” Jared assures him. “But they do believe it would be in our best interest to have an auditory chaperone.”

“You mean wear a wire?” Jensen asks incredulously. Jared nods and Jensen rolls his eyes before looking him up and down. “Speaking of things we have no business wearing, what the hell is that?”

Bartha snorts and Jared looks down at himself. He’s wearing jeans, a black button down, and a blue argyle sweater vest underneath his pea coat. He knows it’s not ideal, but it was the most casual outfit he had packed that wasn’t pajamas.

“If I were taking you to meet my grandmother for lunch, that’d be an absolutely adorable outfit,” Jensen says. He walks over to Jared and takes his hat off, tossing it carelessly onto the sofa. Jared nearly squeaks in protest. Next, Jensen pushes his coat off of his shoulders and tosses it aside. He feels naked enough without his sidearm, and he doesn’t exactly need Jensen stripping him down further. “Lose the sweater vest or I’m not leaving this house.”

“I’m actually gonna need both of you to remove your shirts, gentlemen,” Collins says as he opens the briefcase. “It’s time to strap on the hardware.”

Jared and Jensen share a look, and then Jensen shrugs before loosening his tie and unbuttoning his shirt. He leaves his tie on, flipping it over one shoulder before pulling his shirt open. His torso is tan and toned and Jared swallows hard before turning away.

He pulls off his sweater vest, button down, and black undershirt and stands before Bartha, trying not to fidget. He doesn’t miss the way Bartha’s eyes rake hungrily over his body for just a moment before he gets down to business, taping the wire securely to the center of Jared’s chest.

He looks over to see Jensen looking at him, eyes sweeping across his body before they narrow slightly at Bartha. When he sees Jared looking he turns his attention down to Collins’s fingers against his chest.

Jared is aware of just how in shape he is. Back home he has no life outside of work, and he burns off all his excess energy and stress at the gym for lack of anything better to do. He’s used to catching eyes when he’s not working, but he isn’t used to catching Jensen’s.

When the detectives release them, Jared turns to pull his clothes back on. He starts at the feeling of Jensen’s hand on his bare shoulder and spins around to face him. Jensen leans in to snatch Jared’s black button down from the sofa.

“This’ll do,” Jensen says as he pushes the crumpled fabric against Jared’s chest. Jensen’s own shirt is still open and Jared’s eyes trace the line of wire trailing down his stomach. “Just this. Top three buttons undone. Your hair is a complete and utter disaster, but that’s nothing new. Changing that would be like trying to change the tides.”

Jared nods dumbly and pulls the shirt on, buttoning it up from the bottom before running his fingers through his hair.

“Well, gentlemen,” Jensen says as he claps his hands together. “Shall we dance?”

“We shall,” Jared mumbles automatically, an echo from years long gone by.

By the time they drop the detectives off at their surveillance van and pull up to the club, it’s nearly midnight. Jared feels off kilter without his gun, without even his badge, but he doesn’t want to have anything on him or in his rental car identifying him as a private investigator.

Jared and Jensen get out of the car and Jared is surprised by the lack of paparazzi. He tosses his keys to the valet and follows Jensen as he saunters past the line of people waiting to get in.

“Evening, Finley,” Jensen greets the bouncer, a large black man with a clipboard and a headset. “Is there room in there for little ol’ me?”

“Of course, Mr. Ackles.” Jensen pulls his sleeve up and offers his wrist, and Jared watches as Finley stamps him with UV ink. “Who’s your friend?”

“Let’s call him Mrs. Ackles,” Jensen says with a sly wink. Jared nearly chokes on a sharp inhale. “Just for tonight.”

“Of course,” Finley says again, anything to make Jensen happy. Jared offers his wrist and swallows hard when he gets his own stamp. He watches as the bright yellow ink quickly dries and fades until it’s nearly invisible.

Jensen puts his hand on Jared’s back and leads him into the club. It’s so dark that Jared’s eyes need a second to adjust and the music is so loud he has to fight back a wince. He hears grumbled complaints from Collins and Bartha, tinny and soft from the tiny earpiece he’s wearing.

He tries to say something to Jensen but he might as well be miming, for as good as it does. Jensen notices and swings around, wrapping his arm around Jared’s waist and getting up on his toes to press his ear to Jared’s lips. It’s no different than how they acted ten years ago, but the sudden contact sends a shiver through Jared’s entire body and strikes him dumb for a moment. Finally he wraps an arm around Jensen’s hips to keep them steady.

“Why would you say something like that?” Jared asks, trying to ignore the heat in his belly when his lips brush Jensen’s skin. “Aren’t you worried it’ll get back to the press?”

“Not here,” Jensen says after turning his head. His lips are full and moist against Jared’s ear and his fingers curl tightly around the back of his neck. “This is the elite, baby. No one in here will say shit to anyone because they have just as much to lose, if not more. Now, c’mon. Let’s have a drink. Loosen you up a little, Spade.”

Jared makes a face as Jensen leads him over to the bar. He doesn’t like the sound of his new name on Jensen’s tongue. It feels foreign, incredibly fake. Jensen orders them two rounds of tequila shots and Jared is transfixed as he goes through the hurried, sexy process of taking a shot – lick, salt, lick, drink, bite and suck. He takes the second one almost rapid fire quick, and Jared huffs a sigh.

Jensen has always been good at masking pain. He shakes it off, laughs it away, drinks until he forgets. Ten years may have passed but that doesn’t change the fact that Jared once knew Jensen better than anyone else in the world. That playful sparkle can’t hide the hurt in his eyes, not from Jared.

Jensen wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and lets out a whoop. He pushes the other two shots towards Jared and he shakes his head with a grimace; he doesn’t drink while on surveillance. Jared gives him a stern look and knocks back a third shot, but on the last one he doesn’t appear willing to take no for an answer. He licks the back of his hand, salts it, and holds both his hand and the shot out to Jared.

And well, Jared is powerless to resist.

He takes the shot and cradles Jensen’s wrist in his hand, watching his eyes as he brings it to his mouth to suck the salt from his skin. Jensen bites his lip and his eyes follow the shot as Jared slams it back, still clutching Jensen’s wrist loosely. He sets the glass down on the bar and Jensen places a lemon wedge between Jared’s lips, sticky fingers trailing along his chin as he sucks on it. Jensen removes the fruit and grins broadly, twisting his hand around in Jared’s grasp to grab his wrist and pull him out onto the dance floor.

Jensen molds himself up against Jared, just like he used to ten years ago when the music was loud enough and the booze was strong enough. Jared is older now. He’s more in control of his head, his body, and his heart, but it doesn’t change the fact that the person in his arms once meant the world to him. He turned Jared upside down and twisted him inside out and messed him up so bad that he felt like he would never be whole again.

Jared doesn’t know what else to do but dance.

Jensen’s arms are around his shoulders, fingers tangled in the curls at the nape of his neck, tugging every so often. Jared’s hands are on Jensen’s slim hips and he resists the urge to pull up the hem of Jensen’s shirt to feel soft skin.

Jensen is staring at him, their faces inches apart, and Jared shuts his eyes against the overwhelming thumping of his heart.

It’s Jensen’s eighteenth birthday, just three months until graduation, and his dad rented out the most popular club in town just for him.

It’s late, far past last call, and Jared is so drunk that he’s surprised he can remember his own name. He’s hot and damp with sweat and Katie is grinding up against him up in the VIP room. Only the best of the best are allowed in this room tonight, only the people Jensen deigns worthy enough.

Katie giggles in his ear and he closes his eyes as the room spins.

Suddenly Katie is gone and Jensen is in his arms. Jared opens his eyes and swallows, pulls Jensen tighter on instinct alone. He’s warm and soft and staring at Jared with that smirk, that lazy quirk of his lips that has driven Jared crazy over the last few months.

“Are you having fun?” Jensen shouts over the music, and Jared nods as his fingers slip through Jensen’s empty belt loops. The expensive strip of leather had been abandoned after Jensen claimed it was too constricting. “Good.”

Jensen slumps forward and Jared stumbles backwards. Jensen laughs drunkenly as he regains his footing and pushes Jared back, slamming him up against the wall in some dark, forgotten corner of the most inaccessible room in town.

“You’re so pretty,” Jensen mumbles, and Jared’s heart trips a little when Jensen reaches up to push his damp hair out of his face. His fingertips trail over Jared’s parted lips and his tongue instinctively flicks out to taste them. He gets salt and tequila and the sharp taste of Jensen exploding across his tongue, and Jensen’s eyes flash dangerously. He pulls his fingers away and surges up on his toes to press their mouths together. Jared is shocked but too drunk to think too hard as Jensen’s tongue slips into his mouth, sloppy and uncoordinated. They kiss for what seems like hours but really only could have been seconds, and there’s a loud bang when the next song starts up.

Jensen pulls back with a chuckle, licking his lips as Jared stares at him with wide eyes.

“Whoops,” Jensen says, reaching up to clumsily swipe his fingertips across Jared’s tingling lips. “Sorry about that. I, uh, yeah. I should go find Danny.”

Jensen looks at him for a long second and then pulls away, turning away from Jared and disappearing back into the crowd. Jared closes his eyes and slumps down to the floor, right there in the hidden corner of a VIP room on Hollywood Boulevard.

He buries his face in his hands and prays that he won’t remember this come morning, but luck was never on his side.

They never talk about it, not even once.

Jensen’s fingers are in his hair and his eyes are hooded. His lips are curved up into that infuriating smirk and his body is so warm and firm against his own. His lips are pink and soft looking, puffy and damp from salt and tequila. Jared stares at them and then shuts his eyes, forcing himself to stay calm.

He leans in to press his lips to Jensen’s ear and Jensen’s response is to slide his hand under the back of Jared’s shirt, fingertips ghosting across the sweat-damp skin at the base of his spine. Jared ignores the shiver it sends through him.

“Do you see anything or anyone that I should know about?” Jared asks, and Jensen makes a soft noise as he cranes his head back to look around. He does a sort of double take and surges up to speak into Jared’s ear.

“That’s Bradley Cooper,” Jensen says, holding Jared tight by the back of his neck so he can’t turn his head to look. “Up on the catwalk next to the VIP room entrance. Black suit.”

Jensen pulls away and spins them around, giving Jared an excuse to look up at the catwalk. He spots an attractive guy surveying the crowd with a proud smirk.

“Like I said,” Jensen says, lips wet against his ear. “I don’t know what his game is. But I’ve never liked the guy. He seems sleazy.”

Jared raises a brow and surreptitiously watches Cooper from the corner of his eye. He reminds Jared of a New York City scumbag. The cocky way he holds his body and the line of his smirk scream that he’s up to no good. Jared is still watching him when he feels Jensen’s lips press against the curve of his neck and shoulder.

Jared starts and jumps back a little. Jensen raises an eyebrow, swaying slightly on his feet. He always was a lightweight when it came to good tequila. Jared mimes drinking a beer with his hand and points to the bar. Jensen shrugs and disappears into the throng of sweaty club goers. Jared takes a second to compose himself, jaw clenching as he makes his way to the bar.

He signals the bartender and orders a beer, and he isn’t surprised when he slaps down a crisp twenty and doesn’t get any change. The beer is a welcome burst of cold as he knocks back half of it in one pull. It’s always far too hot in these places.

Jared glances back up at the catwalk as he sips from his beer and leans casually against the bar. Cooper is still stationed near the door to the VIP room, and when a pretty young thing in a short skirt saunters by and grips the lapel of his jacket, he follows her right in. Jared lets out a breath and lets his eyes drift across the crowd.

What the hell, Padalecki?” Collins’s voice in his hear startles him; he’d almost forgotten he was wearing an earpiece. “It’s been an hour and all we’ve heard is Ackles trying to set a world record for tequila shots and brooding silence on your end.

At least the music’s good,” Bartha adds, and Jared can’t help but smirk. He’s got spunk, that kid. “But seriously, Jared. Do you even have eyes on Ackles? Who is that he’s talking to?”

“I’ll find out,” Jared says, and gets up on his toes to scan the crowd. He spots Jensen dancing with a kid that’s barely twenty if a day, and Jared furrows his brow. He works his way through the crowd and tries to think of how he would act in this place a decade ago. He would be friendly. He’d get along with everyone.

Jared swallows and then presses himself up against the kid’s back, slinging his arms over his shoulders to rest his wrists on Jensen’s. The kid looks over his shoulder to check out the new arrival and smiles. At this point, Jared is pretty sure he’s being haunted by intense blue eyes. They’re everywhere. The kid is pretty, if you’re into twinks, and he flicks his shaggy brown hair out of his face before turning back to Jensen.

“Who’s your friend?” Jared shouts over the music. Jensen smirks and keeps one hand on the kid’s hip before reaching out to grab Jared by the belt loop and pull them all even closer together.

“This is Zac,” Jensen shouts back. It’s obvious by the slur in his voice that he’s drunk and Jared grits his teeth in frustration. “He’s everybody’s friend. Aren’t you, babe?”

Zac spins around in their arms and puts his hands on the back of Jared’s neck to stare up at him. It’s then that Jared realizes that this kid is flying high. Ecstasy, if Jared had to guess.

“I’ll be your friend tonight, baby,” Zac says, and Jared tries not to roll his eyes. He has a moment where he wonders what kind of person Jensen has become, but then he sees Jensen trying to catch his eye. He looks at him and quirks a brow as he tries to ignore Zac grinding against him.

“Zac is here every night,” Jensen says meaningfully, quirking a brow. “Not sure how he always gets in, but he’s always here.”

Jared’s eyes widen and he wraps his arm around Zac’s hip to pull him towards the restroom. Jensen leads the way and Zac stumbles along willingly, hands trailing across Jared’s stomach as they walk. Jensen strides purposefully passed the entire line, and as soon as the door opens he ducks inside amidst cries of protest. Jared pushes Zac in after him and locks the door.

“Right here, huh?” Zac says with a smirk. His hands go to the hem of his tee shirt. “Works for me.”

“Knock it off, pretty boy,” Jensen says as he slaps his hands away. “I like my playmates to be fully coherent and old enough to buy me a beer. We just need to talk to you.”

“Are you a fuckin’ cop?” Zac asks, blue eyes widening dramatically as he backs up to press himself against the wall. “Aw, come on. Don’t take me in. I’ll do anything.”

“Calm the fuck down,” Jared spits. Zac swallows hard and looks back and forth between the two of them. “Just answer a few questions and you can get back to the party. Did you know Sandy McCoy?”

“The dead girl?” Zac asks. Jared rolls his lips into his mouth and takes a breath. He can feel Jensen tense up behind him.

“Yeah, the dead girl,” Jared replies tersely. “Have you seen her around here?”

“She was here two nights again, man,” Zac replies. He’s fidgeting and there’s sweat pooling on his upper lip. He blinks owlishly, pupils refusing to shrink under the bright bathroom light. Jared pushes him up against the wall, fingers curled around his bony shoulders.

“Monday night?” Jared questions. He pulls the picture of the four of them in the limo out of his back pocket and shoves it under his nose. Zac furrows his brow and stares at it for a long moment and Jensen lets out a tiny noise behind him, something soft and surprised. “This girl was here, and you’re sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Get the hell off me.” Zac pushes Jared back by the shoulders and pushes his hair out of his face. “I remember because I was surprised to see her. I always thought she was too fuckin’ nice to be hanging around in here. This place is full of scumbags, if you couldn’t tell.”

“What time was this?” Jensen asks, and Jared can’t even find it in himself to protest when he reaches over to snatch the picture from Jared’s hand.

“Uh, I’d just came in,” Zac replies. He squeezes his eyes shut tight and then blinks a few times, squirming a little against the tile wall. “So it had to be about two. I watched her walk in and head right for the VIP room.”

“We need to get in there,” Jared says to Jensen. He gives him a terse jerk of his head and Zac snorts. He turns back to the kid and narrows his eyes. “What?”

“VIP doesn’t mean the same here as it does everywhere else, Jack.” Zac takes a step forward and smirks up at Jared. “Very Important Pussy. If you don’t have one, you’re not gettin’ in. Especially if you don’t share.”

“No boys allowed?” Jared replies incredulously. “You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.”

“No boys,” Zac replies as he leans against the wall again. He licks his lips and then looks up at the light. “None except BC.”

A sudden thought occurs to Jared and he swallows hard as his blood pumps hot and angry through his veins.

“Where do you get your drugs, Zac?” Jared asks. Zac smirks at him and takes a step forward to slide one of his hands up the center of Jared’s chest. Jensen reaches over to smack it away and Zac raises an eyebrow.

“I get my candy from whatever stranger is willing to share,” Zac replies. He reaches over to tug lightly on Jensen’s tie and Jensen rolls his eyes before grabbing his wrist and pushing him away. “But since that’s not the answer you’re looking for, allow me to elaborate. Anything you smoke, snort, shoot up, or swallow in this town, if it’s quality, came from BC.”

“Bradley Cooper?” Jared asks, and Zac points his index finger like a gun and winks. Jared and Jensen share a look and Jared hears murmurings from the detectives in his ear. “Alright, Zac. One last question, and this one’s very important. What time did Sandy leave?”

“I don’t know, man,” Zac replies. He pushes his sweaty mop of hair out of his face again and stares up at Jared with bright blue eyes, pupils blown wide. “I never saw her leave.”

“She never left the club?” Jensen asks. Zac rolls his eyes and looks over at him.

“I didn’t say she never left. I said I never saw her leave,” Zac replies with a roll of his eyes. “I wasn’t exactly watching the door all night, dudes. Now can I go?”

Jared grabs Zac by the back of the neck and pushes him towards the bathroom door. He slips out and Jared and Jensen share a bewildered look. Jensen stares down at the picture in his hand and looks at Jared, mouth opening and closing a few times.

You two get the fuck out of there,” Collins’s voice blares in his ear. “We officially have a goddamn lead.”

Jared lets out a relieved breath and Jensen swallows hard before handing the picture back over and slipping out the door.

They meet up with the detectives a few miles away from the club and Bartha punches Jared in the shoulder as soon as they climb into the back of the van.

“Good work, Jared!” He shouts, and Jared smiles proudly. Jensen narrows his eyes and leans drunkenly against the closed doors.

“Wires off,” Collins commands. Jared and Jensen unbutton their shirts to rid themselves of the equipment. “Padalecki, ditch the lush and meet us back at the station. We have work to do.”

“I heard that,” Jensen mumbles, wincing as he pulls the tape from his skin. Collins rolls his eyes and reaches over to rip it off like a band-aid. Jensen hisses and rubs at the spot.

“I did say it right in front of you,” Collins replies. Jensen rolls his eyes and Jared buttons his shirt swiftly. “Fucking Christ, Ackles. How in pluperfect hell does it take you that long to button your shirt?”

“I’m drunk, dick,” Jensen replies as he fumbles with the buttons. He finally gives up, leaving his shirt open at the collar and his tie hanging loosely around his neck. He steps forward and points his finger in Collins’s face. “And need I remind you, dick, that even while drunk it was me that managed to suss out the only fucking witness willing enough, or high enough, to tell us what he knew in a room full of zipped lips and turned heads. Dick.”

“Call me a dick one more time, pretty boy, and I swear – “

“That’s enough,” Bartha says, reaching out to put a hand on Collins’s chest. Jared just smirks in amusement. Jensen always has been able to make him laugh. “I think we can all freely admit that Jensen did a great job, and that we’re grateful.”

“I’m grateful,” Jared says. Collins snorts and pushes Bartha’s hand away.

“Yeah, try to get me to say those words,” he mutters as he turns back to the monitors. Bartha rolls his eyes and faces them.

“He feels them,” Bartha assures them. “All the way to his heart.”

“Thirty minutes, Padalecki,” Collins calls over his shoulder. “And I want you in that station.”

Jared nods and reaches out to pat Bartha’s shoulder before opening the doors and hopping out of the back of the van. He nearly falls when Jensen hops onto his back, arms wrapping tight around his neck. Jared stumbles forward and swallows hard when Jensen’s knees lock around his hips.

“To the hills, trusty steed!” He calls before he laughs against the back of his head. Jared raises an eyebrow and turns his head.

“How much fucking tequila did you drink?” He asks. Jensen shrugs and then slides down Jared’s body until his feet are on the ground.

“Enough.” Jensen climbs into the passenger seat and is a general nuisance on the drive back to his house. It makes Jared think of the old days, when Jensen would turn the music up too loud and force his driver to stop at whatever fast food place was still open even though the limo wouldn’t fit in any drive-thru.

They lapse into silence after a bit and Jensen heaves a sigh as he stares out the window.

“I’m going to have to see what I can do to speed up Sandy’s toxicology report,” Jared says, just trying to break the silence. “See if there were any drugs in her system when she was killed.”

“There wasn’t,” Jensen replies automatically, and Jared glances over at him. Jensen stares at him and then rolls his eyes. “Sandy wouldn’t touch the stuff. I’d bet my fortune on it.”

“You can’t know that for sure,” Jared protests, but it’s a weak argument. Sandy was always vehemently against drugs. She saw first hand what drugs did to her mother and vowed to never go down that road.

“I do,” Jensen replies, head lolling lazily against the seat. “Look, I’ve dabbled. I’ve tried them all and I’ll smoke some weed when the mood strikes, but not Sandy. She wasn’t in that VIP room looking to score drugs. There had to be another reason.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Jared replies, chewing thoughtfully on his bottom lip. “I’ll still see if it can be expedited, just to be sure. The detectives probably won’t take our word for it.”

“Except Bartha,” Jensen snorts. “That kid would take anything you threw at him with a smile.”

“What are you talking about?” Jared asks, and Jensen rolls his eyes before turning his attention back to the scenery shooting by the window. Jared furrows his brow and the conversation grows stagnant as they climb higher into the hills.

Jared is relieved to see that the photographers seem to be losing interest in Jensen. He hasn’t had a public breakdown and doesn’t look like he’s going to crack any time soon, so they’ve moved on to someone a little more unstable. The street in front of Jensen’s house is free and clear when Jared parks the car. He walks Jensen up to the door and he unlocks it, jabs at the security keypad until it beeps and blinks green, and then stumbles inside.

Jared stands at the threshold and starts a little when Jensen spins around to grab his shoulders. The look in his green eyes is overwhelmingly sad and Jared swallows hard.

“Do you want to come in for a drink or something?” Jensen asks, brow furrowing slightly as he slides his hand down to curl his fingers around Jared’s bicep. Jared bites his lip and shakes his head slightly.

“Can’t,” he replies thickly. “Work to do.”

Jensen nods and closes his eyes. Jared has never seen him look so fragile, but he has no idea what to do. It was always like this – Jared would catch these little moments of weakness that Jensen would never show anyone else. Jared didn’t know what to do with them back then, and he definitely doesn’t know how to react to them now.

“Don’t leave,” Jensen pleads, quiet words slurred into the silent night. Jared reaches up to grab Jensen’s wrists and gently push him away.

“I have to go,” Jared replies softly. “They need me at the station. We need to look into this.”

“No, idiot.” Jensen puts his hands on the sides of Jared’s neck and stares up at him. “Don’t leave. When this is all over, don’t disappear. Don’t do that to me again.”

Jared blinks and stares back at Jensen, completely at a loss for words. He slides his hands up Jensen’s arms only to grab his wrists and gently push him away again. He has no idea what to say or how to feel. He’s lost – just like he was ten years ago.

“I’ll say goodbye this time,” he finally gets out. Jensen looks at him like that was the worst answer he could have possibly given, and then shakes his head sadly before shutting the door in Jared’s face.

He’s left standing there wondering what the hell just happened.

[onto part three.]
I breathe therefore I writesandymg on June 14th, 2010 04:13 pm (UTC)
Mid way comment. Wow. What a great noir take. Modern yet not. So much atmosphere. Fantastic language. I'm even going to forgive the cigarettes. Well. Maybe :)

gonna move on now. just wanted to say how much fun this start has been.
soldierlysoldierly on June 14th, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
Haven't finished the whole bit but am stopping to say


Gina Marie: dean smiling head tiltsycophantastic on July 21st, 2010 12:09 pm (UTC)
Heeeeey... I've seen Jensen's outfit before! ;)
shhh. my common sense is tingling~: val&rdj >> girls love boy kissesbloody_american on August 5th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
"What in pluperfect hell..." Dost I spy a Gay Perry reference? XD
linda78linda78 on November 19th, 2012 11:24 pm (UTC)
love the way this story is written