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11 February 2016 @ 06:59 am
Within in my reach, chapter five.  
Fic Title: Within My Reach
Summary: For Jeff life as an Evolutionary Enhanced isn't easy. For a start there's the prejudice he faces daily, along with a constant struggle to find clothes that will fit over his tentacles. But these difficulties pale into insignificance when Jeff is faced with trying to woo the man of his dreams.
Disclamer: Here be fiction, folks. This isn’t real nor is it meant to reflect the relationship between the two men, whose names and faces I’m borrowing.  This is my very own little take on reality or as I like to think of it now, the wrong trouser leg of time, where our universe and this one split apart, and this universe is bathed in a rosy pink hue.
Author’s Notes: First and foremost, my thanks go to my amazing beta bigj52.  There should be statues erected and sonnets written to this amazing woman.  I can never fully express my gratitude at her endless patience in dealing with my scribbles. Once again I've been scrbbling for spn_reversebang, and I want to thank my artist beelikej for all her support and her amazing art.

Chapter 5 WithinMyReach

week later divider

Jim finished his latest pile of paperwork, pushed his chair away from his desk and stood up. He rubbed at his eyes, rolled his shoulders and tilted his head from side to side to ease the stiffness in his neck. Jim picked up his mug and saw it was empty. “Time for a coffee refill. I wonder if Jeff’s done any more baking?” he muttered hopefully as he set off for the firehouse kitchen and dining area.

As Jim turned the corner, he saw most of the watch standing by the door of the kitchen. Richard was peering through a crack in the door at something. As he got closer he could hear his men talking.

“Don’t get me wrong. I love home-baked pies, cakes, cookies as much as the next man, but can somebody please tell me why Jeff has suddenly turned into Martha Stewart?”  Richard asked as he breathed in the delicious aroma coming from the kitchen.

Chad pushed Richard out of the way and took a deep breath. “Damn, that smells good. I think it’s Jeff’s apple and cinnamon pie, you know the one with the flaky pastry. We only get that on special occasions. He paused. “We haven’t forgotten the Chief’s birthday, have we?”

“Nope. My birthday ain’t until August but if Jeff wants to bake, I say let him bake. We’ll just put some more money in the canteen fund,” Jim added as his stomach rumbled.

Chad frowned, turned to Jared and pointed accusingly at him. “Jeff’s been like this ever since he went to the hospital. Jared, are we gonna have to go back and smack that pretty boy nurse for upsetting our boy in there?” Chad stopped and breathed in the inviting scent of baking again. “Right after we’ve had dinner of course.”

Jared grinned at his friend. “Whatever you say, Chad. But before you go charging over there to defend Jeff’s honor, there’s something you need to know.”

“Yeah, that hot red-headed nurse was really into me, but she was just playing hard to get. Now spill about Jeff.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “According to Gen, the ‘pretty boy’ nurse gave Jeff his number. In fact, Jensen’s still waiting for Jeff to call him.”

Chad stared at Jared in astonishment. “Jeff scored a number off a hot nurse, and he’s done nothing about it? Good god, we need to get in there. Tell Jeff to man up, and uphold the honour of every red-blooded fire fighter out there.” Chad was about to push the door open, when Jared and Matt each grabbed an arm and pulled him away.

“Murray, you’ll do no such thing. We’re going to go in there and offer our support to a friend. And maybe see if he’s made any more of those coffee and walnut cookies, while we’re at it.” Jim said, trying to see what was on the counter.

“Guys, don’t just stand there, come on in. I’ve got some brownies just out of the oven waiting for someone to sample them.”

The crew looked at one another and charged for the door. Rob and Richard reached it first but managed to get themselves wedged in the doorway. “Damnit, Rich. I told you not to have that last piece of cherry pie. Suck in your damn gut.” Rob grumbled as he tried to free himself.

“I didn’t see you refusing second, or even third helpings. Quit wriggling!” Richard said as Rob elbowed him in the ear.

Jared stepped in, wrapped his arms around Rob, and pulled until he finally came free with a jolt. Richard took full advantage of the crew being held up behind Rob and Jared, and sprinted for the counter.  He was met by a delicious sight. Not only had Jeff been baking pie, but there were cookies and muffins there too.  Richard grabbed a chocolate muffin and took a huge bite out of it.

“Hmmmmm, damn, these are good. Perhaps you should be confined to light duties more often, if this is the result.” Richard said, spraying crumbs everywhere.

“What are you going to do? Break my other leg?” Jeff asked, as the rest of the crew descended on the food like a plague of locusts.

“Hell no. I’m sure a sprained ankle will do it. Ow! What was that for?” Chad asked, as Jim smacked him round the back of the head.

“Don’t even think it, Murray.  I’m sure we can convince Jeff to bake for us without resorting to violence.”  He watched Larry put a plate of cookies on the end of the counter and asked hopefully “Are those...?”

“Coffee and walnut cookies. Help yourself, Jim.”  Jeff smiled as his friend took one, and ate it with a smile on his face.

As Jim enjoyed the cookie, he realized the crew had a point.  In the last week while Jeff was confined to ‘light duties’ in the firehouse, he’d been baking almost nonstop. Not that he was complaining, but the waistband on his pants was starting to feel a little tight, and if Rob stuffed one more cookie in his mouth he’d look like a hamster.  Jim saw Jared watching him and he nodded at Jeff, the silent question hanging in the air.

Jared divider

Jared took his cue from his Chief and pushed his way through the crew to reach the counter, and watched Jeff as he worked. It always fascinated him how Jeff and his tentacles worked so seamlessly together. Curly and Larry were putting the brownies on a plate, as Moe opened the oven door. Jeff pulled on his oven gloves and fetched a golden-brown pie out of the oven.

As Jeff put the pie to cool, Jared reached for a brownie.  His mouth watered as he took a bite, the bitter sweet taste of dark chocolate filled his mouth.  Jared moaned appreciatively as he took another bite.

“I take it they’re good, then?”  Jeff asked with a smile as he wiped the counter down, while his tentacles stacked the dishes in the sink.

“Man, these are good. You know, when you retire you should open a bakery, Jeff.” Jared said happily.

Jeff shrugged. “I’d love to, kid. But there ain’t many people who’d eat something cooked by a Changed, let alone pay for the privilege.”

The sweet taste of the brownie turned to ash in Jared’s mouth, as he struggled to swallow. “I know and I’m sorry, man….” Moe handed Jared a glass of water. As he took a drink he looked closely at his friend.  When they’d first brought Jeff back from the ER he’d been so upbeat, reminding Jared of the man he knew BC (Before Change). Jeff had even been talking about going out on a date, something Jared hadn’t heard Jeff talk about in years.

Then as the week wore on, Jeff had stopped talking about going on dates, and instead started baking. It was something Jeff did when he was nervous or stressed about something. Jared realized Jeff was probably nervous about asking Jensen out on a date. “Jeff, when I was out with Gen last night, she mentioned you hadn’t rung Jensen yet. She’s kind of getting fed up with him staring at his phone.”

Jeff carried on wiping the counter. His movements slowed and his shoulders slumped. “I haven’t gotten round to it yet; I’ll call him tonight.” Jeff kept his eyes down and turned towards the sink.

“Jeff, you should call him right now. I’ve even got your phone for you.” Jeff turned back and saw Chad waving his phone at him.

Jeff twisted the wash cloth in his hands, and his tentacles compulsively curled and twisted round him.  “Damnit, Chad, why can’t you just leave things alone?” Jeff said in frustration, and dropped the cloth on the counter, sighing deeply.

“I don’t get why you don’t want to call the guy. The way he floated through the ER, I thought you’d had seven minutes in heaven with him in the elevator on the way to X-Ray.”  Chad smirked at Jeff. “I might be a ladies’ man, but I know a great piece of ass when I see it. And Jensen falls right into that category.”

Jared elbowed Chad in the ribs, and Chad glared at his friend. “What did you do that for?” he hissed as he rubbed his side.

“Because, you’re being a moron.  Now give Jeff his phone back.” Jared took the phone off Chad, and put it on the counter in front of Jeff.

“It’s up to you, man, but Gen’s told me Jensen keeps asking about you. What harm could it do to give him a call?” Jared pleaded, his eyes going wide as he prepared to unleash his greatest weapon.

“Oh Jesus, not the puppy eyes. Please, Jay, anything but them.  Look, I’ll call him. Alright?” Jeff held up his hands in an attempt to shield himself from Jared’s infamous puppy eyes.

“Like Chad said, no time like the present.” Jared grinned triumphantly, and took another bite of brownie.

Jeff looked at the phone as if it was about to burst into flames.  Finally, he reached out and picked it up. “Maybe later. Now, guys, who’s for some pie?” He held out his hand, and Moe handed him a knife as Larry and Curly put the pie in front him. The crew crowded round the counter and started grabbing plates.

Jeff divider
As Jeff was serving the crew with pie, Jim spoke. “I know you, Jeff. There’s something eating you.”  Jeff stopped in mid slice as Rob held out his plate beseechingly.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Jeff finished serving Rob and moved onto Richard. He could feel Jim’s eyes boring into the top of his head as he worked, and he just knew Jared was seconds away from hugging him into submission. Jeff put the knife down and looked at Jim.” You guys aren’t going to let this drop, are you?” he said wearily.

Richard slapped Jeff on the shoulder. “Of course not! As your friends we want to be supportive, and there’s nothing on TV right now.”  Richard smiled as he picked up his pie. “Gentlemen, I suggest we adjourn to the drawing room, while Jeff unburdens his soul to us. We may even be able to help with his problems.” Richard pointed to Chad with his spoon. “And I expect you to behave, or at least try not to put your foot in it too much.”

Richard led the way to the recreation area, and the crew sat down and looked back expectantly at Jeff. Jeff looked at their faces. He was screwed; there was no way they were going to let him brood peacefully. As Richard said, there was nothing on TV to distract them from prying into his business. Jeff sighed. Nobody loved gossip like firefighters, and right now, thanks to Jared and Chad, his love life or lack of one, was the hot topic. Jeff stepped out from behind the counter and walked over to the couch, ready to be interrogated by the crew.

Chad sat at one end of the couch and Jared sat at the other. Chad patted the empty space between them. “Come on, Jeff. The sooner you unburden your soul, the sooner I can convince Jared to get Gen to bring Danni along for a double date.”

Jeff smiled and his eyes twinkled with amusement. “You’re all heart, Murray. Why don’t we get Jay to call Gen right now, and you can work your charm on Danni?”

“Nice try, Jeff but I’m afraid Jared’s phone is staying in his pocket. We, your concerned friends, all want to know why you won‘t call the hot nurse. I saw the way he looked at you in the ER. That boy was just itching to give you a sponge bath,” Richard said as he tucked into his slice of apple pie.

Jeff groaned and slumped lower in his seat, let his head fall back and stared up at the ceiling. As much as he loved these guys, he was pretty sure they’d never understand why it wouldn’t work with Jensen.  He didn’t even know how to put it into words.

“Is it because you think Jensen’s out of your league? Because if you do, that’s bullshit.  You got the whole ruggedly handsome thing going for you,” Chad said, and Jeff looked at him in surprise. “What? Like I said, I know hot when I see it.” Chad shrugged, then squinted thoughtfully at Jeff. “You’re not ducking out on a date because you think you’re too old for him, are you? I have it on good authority, your hot nurse has a thing for older guys,” Chad added with a smirk as Jeff gave him an incredulous look, then turned accusing eyes to Jared.

Jared lifted his hands in surrender. “Don’t look at me. I’ve said nothing to Chad about any of this.”

“Jared ain’t my source. I have an inside man…..well, girl at the hospital.”

Richard chuckled. “You mean there’s a nurse in that place who will still talk to you? I admit I’m impressed, Murray.”

Chad blushed, ducked his head, and muttered something. “What was that, Chad? We didn’t quite catch that?”  Rob cupped his hand to his ear.

Chad squirmed in his seat. “I said, it’s not a nurse. It’s the woman who runs the coffee shop in the hospital.  Jensen gets his daily caffeine fix there and Darlene talks to him. He let slip his last boyfriend was over ten years older than him.”

“Darlene? Can I hear wedding bells, Chad?” Jeff asked, as the crew started to hum the wedding march and Matt demanded to be a bridesmaid.

“No, she’s how I find out which of the nurses are single,” Chad said with a smirk, then he leaned forward and pointed at Jeff. “That’s enough about me. So if Jensen being too young or out of your league isn’t the problem, then why won’t you call him?”

Jeff sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, a headache starting to build behind his eyes, and he knew there was no way he was getting out of this.  The crew had made it their business to help him, whether he wanted them to or not. “Ok, you asked for it. What if Jensen isn’t actually interested in me?” Jeff looked round at his friends, and he could tell by their blank looks none of them understood what he was trying to say.

Chad frowned. “I hate to ask a stupid question, but if Jensen ain’t interested in you, why did he give you his number?”

“I’m not saying he isn’t interested in me, but he might be more interested in my friends.”  Jeff spread his hands wide, and his tentacles curled and flexed with the movement, then draped themselves over the back of the couch.

The crew stared at him and Jeff noticed Rob had a thoughtful look on his face. Richard looked intrigued and Chad was still trying to come to terms with what he was being told. “I don’t get it. Why would Jensen be interested in Moe, Curly, Larry and mini me?” Chad ignored the pained groans from the rest of the crew, and stared at the tentacles as if they would answer him themselves.

“And we let you drive the truck. How do you even find your ass without a map? I would’ve thought you, out of all of us, would understand what Jeff was trying to say,” Richard said as he put another spoonful of pie in his mouth.

“Chad, why do you think I’ve been living like a monk for the last five years?” Jeff asked.

“Jesus, you haven’t had sex for five years? Man, you must have the worst case of blue balls in history!”  Chad exclaimed.

“Something tells me Jeff has that little issue in hand, or tentacle as the case may be.”  Jim said wryly and Chad’s face lit up with realization. “And did everyone just hear the penny drop?”

“Holy crap!  Just think of all the fun you can have with those guys.  Talk about having an unfair advantage over those of us with just two hands.”  Chad said with an awe filled voice.

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. But what makes you think Jensen’s only interested in the guys?”  Jared asked sympathetically.

Jeff shrugged and scratched at his stubble. “Maybe because he wasn’t freaked out by them.  That’s usually a big clue on the rare occasion a man doesn’t run away screaming when he sees them.  I guarantee within five minutes, they’ve got their hands on Curly or Moe and they’re telling me how hot they are. And what an impressive girth they’ve got, and they bet I could blow their minds with the suckers.”

Richard had just got his spoon halfway to his mouth when Jeff said that.  He looked at the spoon and put it back on the plate. “And suddenly my appetite has just disappeared. Well, everyone is entitled to their kinks. But just because Jensen wasn’t freaked out by them, don’t mean he wants to get his freak on with them.”

Jared nodded vigorously. “He’s right, Jeff. Don’t forget Jensen’s a nurse; the guys probably didn’t faze him.”

Jeff gave his young friend a tired smile. “Jay, I appreciate what you’re saying, but I’ve been here before. And I really don’t think I could face going on a date with Jensen, only to be proved right about why he’s interested in me.  Now who’s for a coffee?” Jeff stood up and headed back to the kitchen.

Jared divider
The crew sat and looked at one another. Finally Chad broke the silence. “Shit, I never realized it was like that for Jeff.”

“I don’t think any of us realized. Chad. All this time we thought Jeff was doing ok. Do you think we can do anything to help?”  Rob asked.

“The only thing I think might help, is Jeff going on that date with Jensen.”  Jared risked a quick glance at Jeff, who was busy making coffee for them.

“You heard Jeff. Jensen’s just hot for his tentacles.  There’s got to be another guy out there for Jeff.”

“Listen. Chad. Gen’s told me Jensen is really interested in Jeff. It’s got nothing to do with him being Evolutionary Enhanced.”

“Well, if that’s the case, how are we going to get Jeff to call Jensen and ask him out?”  Rob asked.

A smile bloomed on Jared’s face and he leant forward. “I’ve got an idea.”

Current Mood: nervousnervous