Word Count: 12059.
Summary: Jared is a hunter, but he is about to find out that evil isn’t just the preserve of demons.
Pairing: J2 eventually
Warnings: Non-Con and excessive abuse of Jensen.
Disclaimer: As far as I know Jared isn’t engaged in hunting monsters and last time I checked Jensen wasn’t chained up naked in the basement of a church and wasn’t in a relationship with Jared, so please don’t sue.
Notes: Here I offer thanks and unending praise togarvaldmains , who has helped, improved and encouraged me with endless patience when I gibbered at her, and she also provided the awesome banner! *Big, Big Hugs*. Beta: by the awesome bigj52 , a woman with the patience of a saint. This chapter is a present, as I’m off on my hols! Oh and as for the cliffie... please remember I’m on holiday, all torch wielding mobs will be sat waiting a bloody long time *G*
Jared sat outside the motel room, staring at the door; he’d faced down ghosts, werewolves, vampires and demons with barely a second thought. But the thought of walking back into that room and facing Jensen was terrifying him. There had been no more sleep for him after his nightmare; he’d stayed awake the rest of the night, his mind turning over and over.
Whenever he’d closed his eyes, he saw Jensen lying broken, dying in his arms. The pained cries he’d made still echoed round his head. The memories of the dream made Jared grip the steering wheel tighter. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself; his decision to let Jensen go was the right one. He distracted him from his quest to find the demon that killed Chad.
Jensen would be safer back in his own world, far away from the undead and hunters like himself - let him go back to being a doctor. Maybe Jensen would even find a nice, normal man to settle down with. Jared felt his stomach lurch at the thought of Jensen with another man, but it was for the best to let him go before Jensen got hurt.
Still Jared couldn’t help but turn his mind back to earlier. He’d lay in bed, and watched dawn break, greeting it like an old friend. Normally it heralded another day and another hunt, but this time he used its softly glowing light to watch Jensen as he slept in his arms. He wanted to memorize everything about Jensen he could - from his tousled hair, to his freckles, and his full lips parted as he slept. And the feel of Jensen’s body against his. Jared had locked every precious moment of his vigil safely away in his heart, knowing that this would be the last time he would ever hold Jensen like this. The fantasy he’d been living with Jensen these last few days was coming to an end.
It was time to return to reality, and that meant planning the hunt for Mary Williamson. What weapons he’d need, and his strategy for dealing with the spirit. Planning the hunt had been easy. The hardest thing he’d do today would be to tell Jensen it was time for them to go their separate ways. He’d allowed Jensen to get too close, and now he had to rectify his mistake.
Finally Jared had slipped out of bed; he froze when Jensen had stirred in his sleep. Jensen seemed to be searching for him, his hand stretched out to where he had been. Jared moved back and pulled the comforter up over his shoulder, pausing to gently stroke Jensen’s cheek. Jensen curled up and sighed as Jared caressed his face. It took all of Jared’s willpower to drag himself away from the sleeping man. He moved silently round the room, dressing quickly. He gathered his weapons together and put them back in the duffle bag; Jared sat at the table and loaded his favourite sawn-off shot gun, with rock salt cartridges. He placed the gun in the bag and settled down to wait. As soon as he could he’d go to the diner and fetch them something to eat.
At the diner he’d been so quiet Mabel had asked if there was anything wrong. Jared had smiled ruefully and said the patient was getting antsy and trying to escape. Mabel had given a throaty laugh, and told him to tell Jensen if he didn’t behave she’d come over and tan his hide for him. Jared had joined in the laughter with a heavy heart, assured in the knowledge he’d never see Mabel again. These were the times he hated being a hunter, making fragile connections to people only to have them brutally severed. Jared acknowledged sadly to himself that this was the life he’d chosen to live. He knew its pitfalls and rewards, sitting here, getting all maudlin over it wouldn’t change a thing. “Come on, Jared, get your act together. Stop moping. You’re doing the right thing. Jensen will be better off without you. Better take him his breakfast before it goes completely cold.” With that he grabbed the food, and climbed out of the truck.
Inside the motel room, Jensen woke up slowly, groaning as his body ached. Then he realized once again he was alone in the bed, with Jared nowhere in sight. “You know, I could start to get really offended if you keep doing this, Jay.” He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling, going over the events of the previous day. He cursed himself for getting so involved in the research. After all, Jared was far from stupid. At some point he’d be facing some tough questions from Jared, and just how could he answer them? All he’d wanted to do was flex his old research muscles, and by doing so he’d lied to Jared, possibly endangering their friendship.
Jensen sat up, wincing as his bruised body protested at being disturbed from its well-earned rest. He thought about a promise he’d made a long time ago, one that meant he’d kept Jared in the dark about his knowledge of hunters. It was a promise that he’d managed to keep for the most part. Alright, so he’d still dabbled in research, and used some of the tricks the hunters he’d met had taught him, but he’d never become actively engaged in a hunt. Then he’d met Jared, Jim and Kane and all the old excitement came rushing back. He hadn’t been able to help himself, at first it had just been fun. Getting Jared to teach him about hunting, just watching the light in his eyes had been exhilarating. Knowing that Jared wanted to help people had only made him fall even harder.
Then Rufus had called, and he’d been swept along with the excitement of working on an actual hunt once more. Now he’d lied to Jared about what he knew. How the hell could he explain to him now? Jensen let his head fall forward and said, “Ackles, you moron, you should’ve just told him.....”
The door opened and Jared walked in. He looked over to the bed, “Should’ve just told me what, Jensen?” Jared said by way of greeting. Jensen’s head snapped up, he licked his lips. This was the perfect time to tell the truth, get everything out in the open, and deal with the fallout from his deception.
The confession died on his lips when he looked at Jared. Although they had only known each other for a few days, Jensen had come to understand the changes in Jared’s moods. Every tense of his shoulders, or flash of pain in his eyes, spoke louder than words to him. Kim had always said he was good at reading people, and it would be better for him to use those gifts elsewhere than as a hunter. It was because of Kim that he’d made the promise to turn his back on hunting, and why he’d become a nurse instead.
Now he looked at Jared standing there, his posture stiff, his shoulders set, and a distant look on his face. His eyes were haunted in a way that Jensen had never seen before; he felt a surge of sadness. He knew then Jared had decided to distance himself from him; he was breaking the bond they had developed. All his hopes they could share a future together were shattered; Jensen could see that the hunter was in full control, and that the man had bowed to the mission. It was up to him now to let go, set Jared free and allow him to go on his way, hunting things and saving people. He just wished he could go with him. He set aside his own feelings, and put a smile on his face and said to Jared.
“I should’ve told you that all this greasy food is bad for my figure. Now, please tell me there is something healthy in there to eat?” Jensen smiled, and he hoped it didn’t look as fake as it felt on his face. He relaxed when Jared smiled back at him, some of the weight seemed to have lifted off him and the Jared he’d come to know was reappearing.
“Sorry to disappoint you, Jensen, but we got pancakes, eggs and bacon. And I promise not to mock when your ass gets too big for your jeans. Now where the hell do you think you’re going?” Jared asked as Jensen climbed out of bed and limped towards the table.
“Relax, Sasquatch, it’s time for me to try and move around. I’m just heading for the table, not planning on running a marathon, although if you want I could try chasing you round the table. Just let me catch my breath and I’m ready.” Jensen was trying to cover up how much the short walk had taken out of him. He slid gratefully onto the chair and smiled up, “Well, come on then, the service in this joint is terrible. I may have to put in a complaint to the management. Just as a matter of interest, what kind of punishments do the management hand out? If we’re talking a spanking, then I want to speak to the manager right now.” Jensen waggled his eyebrows at Jared, grinning when he blushed.
Jared started to empty the bag, glad of the distraction from the conversation to come, warmed by Jensen’s humour. But it also served to remind him that he was doing the right thing. He would only hurt Jensen and he would never forgive himself for that. He passed a plate to Jensen and watched as he started to eat. “The management reserves the right to deal with employees as they see fit. The last time they received a complaint, I was forced to serve food, wearing nothing but an apron and a bow tie. I think I still have them in my bag...are you alright, Jensen?” Jared spoke in amused tones, then reached over and patted Jensen on the back as he coughed.
Jensen looked up, his eyes watering, wheezing from shock at Jared’s response. He managed to croak. “Touché, dude. If you wear the apron, do I get to stuff dollar bills down the front?” It was Jensen’s turn to laugh when Jared spluttered on a mouthful of coffee.
After they finished their breakfast, Jensen sat back; he knew what Jared was going to say. It was up to him to start the ball rolling and show Jared that he would be fine. “Jay, could you get my clothes for me. Honest, I promise not to make a break for it. I’m just tired of sitting round in sweats, and I need to get a shower. I can’t keep lounging round here, expecting you to feed me grapes; it’s time to get my ass in gear.” He smiled at Jared hopping his words were convincing.
Jared nodded, he felt guilty knowing he’d soon be shattering Jensen’s good mood, “No problem, I’ll just get your stuff from the truck. When you shower, just leave the door open in case you need me.” As Jared reached the door Jensen called out after him.
“So does that mean you’ll come and scrub my back for me?” Jared just shook his head and laughed as he walked to the door.
Jared returned with his clothes and Jensen limped into the bathroom, managing to stand while he took a quick shower. His feet throbbed in time with the beat of his heart, each beat sending jagged spikes of pain up his legs. He welcomed it; it helped to anchor him in the here and now, and chased away the dreams of a future with Jared. This physical pain he could cope with better than the raw ache in his heart at the prospect of Jared walking out of his life, and never seeing him again. Jensen climbed out of the shower; he managed the few steps to the toilet, put the lid down and sat on it. Jensen dried himself while listening to Jared moving round the other room. He let himself drift away.
He started as he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder; he lifted his head to find Jared kneeling in front of him, his hazel eyes filled with concern. “Jen, it went quiet in here. I came in to check on you, you were just sitting there. Are you alright?” Jensen shivered as Jared tenderly stroked his arm, the touch becoming more than he could bear.
He wanted to take hold of Jared and say, “You’re going back to hunting that damn demon, and one day it’s gonna get you killed. And I’m never going know what’s happened to you, am I? So no, I’m not alright.” That’s what he wanted to say. Instead he said, “Damn, you figured out my cunning plan to make you come in here and put your hands all over my naked body.” He managed to grin when Jared went red and rolled his eyes.
Jared picked up a towel and began to gently dry Jensen’s feet, flinching a little when he heard Jensen hiss in pain. But he was glad to be doing this, because if he kept looking into those green eyes he’d be screwed. Jensen would only have to say the word, and he knew he would give up his quest for revenge. Then he remembered his dream, how he’d failed to save Jensen, how he’d killed Chad. No, he had to be strong; he still had work to do. He continued to dry Jensen’s legs then he steeled himself and raised his eyes.
Jensen’s eyes were half closed as he tried to keep the pain hidden, his jaw clenched when Jared pressed a particularly tender bruise. Jared put the towel on the sink, and picked up Jensen’s T-shirt,
“Come on. Let’s get some clothes on you. You don’t want pneumonia on top of everything else.”
Jensen smiled slowly, “Yes, mom, and do you want to check behind my ears to see if I’ve washed them?” He laughed and Jared felt a tug at his heart when he heard that warm, and oh so human sound. It was just another part of Jensen that he’d filed away - a memory that would be cherished in the lonely nights in no-name motels his future promised.
Jared smiled, “I trust you, now come on, arms up before you freeze.” Jensen obediently raised his arms and Jared gently pulled the shirt over them. As he worked the T-shirt down over Jensen’s head, he let his eyes wander over the other man’s body. Once more he was greeted by the familiar sight of bruising. Jared knew how some of them had gotten there, but there were others whose history he had no knowledge of. A part of him wanted to understand how Jensen had managed to hold on for so long. But there was another part that was scared to find out, the more he learned about Jensen the harder it became to walk away.
Jensen noticed that Jared had stopped moving, his T-shirt was on and Jared’s large hands lingered on his waist. He slowly lowered his arms until they rested on Jared’s shoulders. Jared felt the soft touch and he raised his eyes, and found himself staring into Jensen’s eyes. Instinctively Jared leaned forward.
Jensen could hardly breathe when Jared had looked into his eyes. There had been such an intense look of longing that he’d almost pulled away. Then Jared had moved forward and he followed suit. They edged closer and closer, and soon their lips were almost touching. He felt Jared’s muscles tense beneath his hands, and then Jared changed direction to whisper to him. “Come on, Jen, we need to finish getting you dressed before you stick to the seat.” Jensen shivered at the brush of warm air over his skin; he let his head fall forward to rest on Jared’s shoulder.
He felt weak, weaker than ever. Even in the worst moments with Morgan and Eddie he’d never felt this breakable. One word from Jared and he’d shatter, and he didn’t think he’d ever be able to pick up all the pieces. Unable to trust himself to speak, Jensen just nodded.
Jared felt the tremors that wracked Jensen’s body as he rested against him, and he fought the need to wrap his arms round Jensen and hold him. He picked up the waiting hoodie, and his heart gave a jolt. It was his...the one he’d dressed Jensen in. It felt as if the soft material was mocking him as he threaded it over Jensen’s body. He watched as Jensen wrapped his arms round himself in an attempt to get warm. He couldn’t bear the sight of Jensen hugging himself when all he wanted was to hold Jensen in his arms. He couldn’t endure this self-inflicted torture any longer, and he made to finish helping Jensen dress.
Jared went to pick up the rest of Jensen’s clothes when he spoke to him, “It’s ok, Jay, I got it from here. I’ll be out in a minute.” Jared kept his eyes on the floor, nodded and stood up. He handed the clothes over, and Jensen watched him walk out of the bathroom. He sighed and finished getting dressed. He slowly stood up and turned to the sink to clean his teeth; he swayed forward, attempting to ease the strain on his abused feet.
Finally he looked up into the mirror. He’d been avoiding it, afraid of what he’d see. A pale, gaunt face stared back at him. Jensen barely knew the man in the mirror any more, the one who had been through so much. He fought against what had happened to him, but he still felt consumed by the darkness Morgan brought into his life. Tainted by every touch of the preacher’s hands, now he felt dirty and no number of showers could wash that stain away.
Then Jared had come sweeping in, and rescued him in so many ways. Whenever Jared looked at him there had been no disgust there, only compassion. Jared had become his light in that darkness, a beacon that was helping to guide him away from Morgan. Now that light was going to fade away, and he would be left blind without it.
Jensen took a deep breath, “You can do this; you have to let him go. Come on, man, you know what hunters are like. It will kill him to give up his quest.” Jensen stood straighter and squared his shoulders, “Suck it up, Ackles. This ain’t a fairy tale, this dragon’s dead. But the knight won’t settle down to live happily ever after. There are always other dragons to slay.” Jensen nodded to himself in the mirror, he managed to put a smile on his face, and went to face Jared and the news he dreaded.
Jared heard the sound of movement and turned towards it. Jensen was moving slowly towards him. A determined look in his eyes, he went to step forward, but Jensen raised his hand and waved him away. Jared stood there, uncertain of what to do; he’d gotten so used to helping Jensen that now he was no longer needed he was at a loss.
Jensen sat down on the bed, summoning the last of his courage, and spoke. “Well, what are we doing today, Jay? More research, or are you going to take me with you when you take out poor sweet Mary. I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.” He looked up, and Jared felt trapped by that gaze. Jared felt sick at the prospect of what he was about to do. He dropped his eyes to the floor and rubbed the back of his neck. This was the moment of truth. He could turn his back on the hunt and stay here with Jensen, or he could return to his unending quest for revenge.
Jensen waited as Jared struggled to come to a decision, he wanted so much to just beg Jared to stay. Tell him to call Jim or Kane and give them the hunt, but he knew that Jared would never forgive himself if someone got hurt because he asked him not to go. Jensen sat up straighter and moistened his lips, “It’s ok, man. I get it. I’d just slow you down. How long do you think it will take to dispose of her? I’m sure I could keep myself amused while you ride in to save the day. Then I guess we need to get out of here, right? After all, you don’t want any awkward questions about what you’ve been up to.”
Jared looked at Jensen in astonishment. How the hell did he know what he was going to say? He felt as if the ground had disappeared from beneath his feet. He had a speech prepared, about how he couldn’t just wait for another hunter to come along. Now, here Jensen was giving him permission to go and deal with Mary. Not only that, but Jensen had made the suggestion it was time to move on. Why the fuck couldn’t he have met Jensen after he’d dealt with the black-eyed son of a bitch that had taken Chad?
Mind made up, Jared swung into hunter mode. He pulled up a chair and sat down in front of Jensen, “Listen, are you sure about this, Jen? I’m pretty sure I can find someone else to come and deal with Mary if you want me to. But I think you’re right, we need to get moving again. We can’t hide here forever. So do you want to hear about my brilliant plan, then?”
Jensen listened to Jared’s excited explanation of how he was going to deal with Mary. He listened and nodded, but all he wanted to do was to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over his head. Just pretend that this was all a dream, and he was still lying in Jared’s arms. At least he’d managed to fool Jared into believing that he was alright with this. It was for the best, he knew it would be selfish to expect Jared to stay and look after him. But for a short time Jared had been there for him. He had given him strength, and once Jared was gone, he didn’t know if he would be able to hold onto that strength.
“Jen, what did you think of my plan? Is it ok? Or does it need some work? If everything goes well I should be in and out of there in a couple of hours.” Jared sat back, a pleased expression on his face.
Jensen struggled to remember what Jared had been saying. Then it came back to him. It was straightforward - gain entry to the house through the back door. Use the servant’s stairs to make his way to the first floor, gain entry to Ruth’s bedroom, grab the locket and burn the hair. Yeah, simple, Jensen thought. But what if Mary attacked Jared? So far she had only been mischievous, but all that could change if she was threatened.
“It sounds fine, Jay, but wouldn’t it be better if you had help? You know, have someone watch your back in case Mary attacks you. Some spirits can get pretty aggressive, and you’ll be in there on your own.” Jensen worried at his bottom lip with his teeth.
Jared nodded, “Jensen, I’ve done this kind of thing solo lots of times. I know what I’m doing. I promise to be careful; I’ll even lay salt lines to slow Mary down. How’s that?” Jared wanted Jensen’s opinion; he didn’t know why it was so important. After all, Jensen was no hunter. What did he know about hunts? But he needed Jensen to approve his plan.
Jensen ran the plan through his head. It was fairly sound but there was still the problem that Jared would be on his own. “How about if I come with you, and just sit in the truck? If you get into trouble I can try and help.” Jensen couldn’t help himself; he reached out and placed his hand on Jared’s knee.
Jared looked down at the hand and then he looked up at Jensen’s anxious face. Jared felt warmth within him. There was someone worried about him, concerned for his well-being. He knew that Kane and Jim cared for him; they were his friends and fellow hunters. But it had been far too long since another person had cared enough to be frightened for him. Without thinking, Jared placed his hand over Jensen’s. He gave a crooked smile, “Jen, I appreciate the offer, but I’ll be fine. I prefer to hunt solo, and besides, if word gets back to Jim I’m doing this, he’ll get in his truck, and hunt me down and smack me round the head. If he even suspects I’ve dragged you along to chaperone me, he’ll call Mac, and I know she’ll get Chris to drive her here, and your sister scares me.”
Jensen gave a weak laugh. “Well, in that case, I think we should keep this to ourselves. I happen to know from firsthand experience, Mac fights dirty. And I’d hate to see my knight in shining armour get hurt, and I know Mac will pull Kane’s hair for trying to protect you.” He felt Jared squeeze his hand, and the affectionate gesture nearly tore him apart. He felt an echo of the touch round his heart. Jared held that too and right now he was crushing it.
Jared finally realized that he was still holding Jensen’s hand. He didn’t want to let go, he never wanted to let go of Jensen. But he’d made himself and Chad a promise and he had to keep it. “Well it’s good to see we’re both being protective of my hide. I promise I’ll be careful. I’ve programmed mine, Kane’s and Jim’s numbers into your phone. It’s just in case of trouble, but I’m sure everything will be fine. Listen, the sooner I’m gone then the sooner I’ll be back.” Finally Jared let go of Jensen’s hand, stood up and turned away. Jensen never saw the fleeting look of grief that crossed his face. Jared grabbed his coat and then his duffle. He took a breath and turned back, “Jensen, if I’m not back by five o’clock, you call Jim or Kane and tell them where you are, alright?”
Jensen tensed at those words, “Wait, you said this was going to be easy, Jay. Are you sure we did all the research needed? Could we have missed something? You know what they say about research. You do it once, twice, and then you go through it at least one more time just to be sure. Look, sit down. We’ll do another sweep of the Intel to be certain. Please Jay, it won’t take all that long and you’ll be sure everything is fine.” Jensen’s sounded desperate but he didn’t care. All his instincts were telling him that the research hadn’t been checked thoroughly enough. The facts needed to be checked one more time before Jared went off to deal with Mary.
Jared looked down at Jensen, “I’ve done this hundreds of times, Jensen. Trust me, we covered everything. Now you get some rest and when I come back we’ll see about getting you back to LA.” With those parting words he picked up Jensen’s phone and handed it to him, then walked out of the room without a backward glance.
Jared got in his truck, and the first thing he did was to take his phone out of his jacket. He stared at the display for a few seconds then he switched the phone off. Normally he kept his phone on in case of emergencies. But right now, if Jensen was to call him while he was driving to the house and ask him to come back, he knew that he’d turn round. No, he needed to be back, hunting, to remind himself that he was better on his own. He started the engine and drove off.