Word Count: 12240.
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 to garvaldmains, 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'd by the awesome bigj52, a woman with the patience of a saint. Just in case you thought this story would never return, here is the latest part of the Fic O Doom! I hope you still remember this and enjoy. To those who are reading this....still *G* thank you for your patience, and all feedback is cuddled and fed cookies *G*
"Jay, I want to be a hunter.”
Jensen felt a sense of relief wash over him as he voiced his wishes out loud. He had always intended to explain to Jared about Father Kim, and his past experiences with hunting and hunters. But there had never been the right time. It wasn’t the kind of thing he could just drop into a conversation; he could just imagine how it would go. “Thanks for rescuing me from those sickos, Morgan and Eddie, Jared. I don’t know how to repay you for everything you’ve done for me. By the way, did I ever tell you about the time I had to complete an exorcism when I was seventeen? It’s a real funny story.” It was out in the open now, and hopefully he and Jared could move forward together. Now, all he had to do was convince Jared it was a good idea.
Those words were like a bucket of ice water being thrown over him. They were words he’d hoped he’d never hear from anyone, especially Jensen. Jared rolled off the bed and knelt in front of Jensen. “No, no way am I letting you become a hunter. It’s one thing to be able to make connections, and research like a pro but actually be a hunter? No, it’s not going to happen. Do you understand me, Jensen?” Jared held his hand tightly.
Jensen shook his head. “What about the conversation we’ve just been having, Jay? Remember, I’m a big boy now, and even you said your roomie was a hunter in the making.....” Jensen’s words were halted when Jared caressed his cheek. The other man looked at him with such sorrow in his eyes, all his carefully crafted arguments stuck in his throat.
Jared pulled his hand away; he had been as deluded as Jensen. What the hell had he been thinking? He had allowed himself to get too close to Jensen, and had been creating some fantasy world because of it. He could see it now. He would drop by Jensen’s place, and spend weekends and vacations with him, even turning up after he’d finished hunts. It was a stupid enough dream for him to entertain, but now Jensen was getting ready to drink the Kool Aid and turn his back on his safe, boring life. He didn’t want to see Jensen destroyed by the darkness that surrounded him.
Jared decided he had to stop this foolish notion now, no matter the cost to himself. He had no choice; he had to break the bond that had formed between the two of them. He was going to have to be ruthless; there could be no room for sentiment. Jared stood and prepared to break both his and Jensen’s heart.
Jensen looked at Jared as he knelt in front of him; his sudden outburst had not shocked him in the slightest. In fact he was touched that Jared wanted to keep him safe, away from hunting. But his journey back to the world of hunting, and hunters had been a long one. Now he was finally ready to take that final step, and hopefully it was a step he could take with Jared.
Suddenly Jared stood up and Jensen watched a change come over him. It was though Jared was putting away the familiar compassionate man he’d come to know, and in his place was the lawyer, his body language changed. Gone was the easy slouch and instead he stood straight with his shoulders back. Making the most of his stature, where normally he tried to detract from his imposing physicality, this time Jared used it like a weapon.
For the first time since they’d met, Jensen felt a little afraid of Jared, the silent stillness of the other man was unnerving. He chewed his lip nervously, as he waited for Jared to speak. Instead, Jared just kept looking at him, his expression unreadable. Jensen began to feel as if he was about to be cross examined. He rubbed the back of his neck, and his eyes darted round the room, unable to stand the steady appraising gaze any longer. Jensen finally managed to find his voice. “Come on, Jay, what’s going on in that brain of yours? Are you getting ready to spring a brilliant argument for me not becoming a hunter?” He managed a nervous laugh.
Jared absently smoothed his hand through his hair. “Why?” The word was softly spoken and filled with authority.
“Because I want to help people, that’s why.” Jensen felt his resolve weakening under Jared’s stern gaze. He’d expected more shouting, ranting, and waving of arms, not this quiet, controlled Jared. Now he understood why Jim had been in awe of Jared’s skills as a lawyer, if one word had got him so jumpy.
“You can help people by being a doctor, Jensen. You’ve no need to risk your life by becoming a hunter. What’s so important about being a hunter?” Jared’s words flowed smoothly and calmly.
Jensen jerked back, stammering out his answer. “Look, I know it seems like I’ve just pulled this out of the air, but believe me, Jared, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. I want a new direction in my life.”
“And you think that direction is hunting? What exactly is the appeal? Was it the excitement of the last couple of days? The cut and thrust of the research which I have to admit you’re very good at, perhaps even better than me.” Jared started to pace slowly, treating the motel room as his courtroom. Except there was no judge and jury to hang on his every word, only Jensen the accused. “Or was the real thrill coming to my rescue this morning? It was a shame you nearly got yourself killed when you tackled the ghost.”
Rather than rage and shout, Jared decided to retreat into his old professional demeanour, the cool, calm, analytical lawyer. For Jensen’s benefit there was an outward show of composure and control, but on the inside he was frantic with fear. Fear of Jensen entering the hunting life, and being hurt or worse. As he spoke Jared relived the moment at the house when Jensen had lain unresponsive in his arms, and he thought he had lost him forever.
Jared turned sharply and stood in front of Jensen. “I’m sure you think you know what you want from your life. But do you think this is the right time to be making such far-reaching decisions?”
Jensen frowned; he couldn’t help but wonder where these questions were going. “What do you mean, the right time to be making this kind of decision? I’ve already said I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time.” Jensen felt unbalanced and on the defensive, and he was even more unsure when a sincere smile appeared on Jared’s face.
“Of course you’ve considered this for a long time, and it has absolutely nothing to do with what happened with Morgan? A way of running away and not facing up to the trauma you’ve so recently suffered?” Jared gave a kindly smile before he twisted the knife. “I can fully appreciate you wanting to run away from your responsibilities as a medical professional at the moment. But embarking on such a dangerous career can be seen as somewhat foolhardy, don’t you think?”
Jensen swallowed hard; he’d not been expecting to have to defend himself in this manner. He thought all he would have to do was explain to Jared all about Father Kim. Jensen shook his head again. “No, it’s nothing like that; it has nothing to do with Morgan and my kidnapping. I was already on sabbatical from the hospital when Morgan took me. I was reassessing the direction of my life even then. Jared, please, where’s all this coming from?” Jensen sounded bewildered.
Jared shrugged his shoulders dismissively, choosing to focus on Jensen’s last statement, “So you’re saying you were already adrift, and you had no purpose in your life. Is that correct, Jensen?”
“No... I swear it wasn’t like that. It’s just a long time ago I made a promise to someone very close to me but I don’t know if I can keep it anymore. If you’ll just let me explain why....” Jensen sat wringing his hands; he had no idea how to break through to Jared while he was like this.
Jared nodded sympathetically at Jensen’s pleading look, and then remorselessly continued with his attack. “Not only do you lack purpose in your life but you find it extraordinarily easy to brush aside promises made to those important to you. So far, it looks like you have the makings of an excellent hunter.” Jared smirked at the now red-faced and squirming Jensen. “Out of curiosity, if you were on a hunt and something better came along, would you just turn your back on the victim? Forget your promise to help, and just move onto the next shiny idea that grabs your attention?”
Jensen’s jaw dropped at Jared’s cruel remarks. Again he shook his head. “I’d never turn my back on a hunt, or abandon a victim. You’re twisting my words because you don’t want me to become a hunter. I’ve struggled for years with my promise to Kim. This isn’t something I just got up and decided to do one morning after I’d had a rough day at the hospital.” Jensen glared at Jared, hating the self-assured, smug expression. He wanted nothing more than to wipe it off his face, and once again see the Jared he’d come to know, even love.
Jared hadn’t finished with Jensen yet. “I’m sure that coming out to your parents, and your father’s understated response to the news - delivering you to a sexually sadistic sociopath who wanted to keep you as his pet. Then you endured over a month of physical and mental abuse at the hands of both Morgan and Eddie. Are you telling me this had absolutely no effect on you, and you’re now perfectly fit and ready to become a fully functioning member of the hunting community? Is that correct, Jensen?”
Jared looked down at the hunched figure of Jensen as he sat on the bed, his arms wrapped around himself, shivering. Jared felt his resolve weaken; he was hurting Jensen, and the look in his eyes was one of pain and confusion.
Jensen nearly broke under the verbal attack as Jared used Morgan and his father against him. He just wanted Jared to stop, and give himself time to catch his breath. But it didn’t seem like that was going to happen any time soon. He had to defend himself or Jared would really see how weak he was.
“Yes, I suppose you could say this is my way of dealing with a month in hell. But on the other hand, I should thank Morgan and Eddie for toughening me up. Now I can stand up against demons, and hunters with smart-ass mouths, and bad attitudes. I’m not telling you again, Jared; this has nothing to do with Morgan, or my father. Or the fact I’m gay, or that I’m trying to prove how friggin’ macho I am. I just want to hunt. Is that so fucking hard to accept?” Jensen panted and shook with exertion after his outburst, refusing to back down in the face of Jared’s opposition.
Jared frowned and took a step back; it didn’t seem his words were getting through to Jensen. Even after he’d insulted the other man, and had used the kind of low blows that would’ve got him a standing ovation from fellow lawyers. It was time to change tack, maybe ask Jensen exactly what he thought hunting entailed. Maybe then he could finally dissuade Jensen from this self-destructive idea.
“Tell me, Jensen, what do you think being a hunter is like?” Jared’s tone was crisp and uncompromising.
Jensen blinked in shock at the question; Jared had suddenly turned on a dime from brow beating him about his choice to giving him a pop quiz about being a hunter? Damn, he had no idea of how to handle this. He decided to answer truthfully, maybe figure out where Jared was going next. “Well I should imagine it’s difficult.....”
“Difficult? That’s a gross understatement. How about we discuss the facts of hunting life? Would that suit you, Jensen?” Jared asked silkily, and Jensen nodded nervously.
“Why don’t we start with family life? Or should I say lack of family life.” Jared fixed Jensen with a determined look. “Could you do that? Sever all contact with your family to protect them? Especially now, just as they’ve begun to accept the real you.” Jared watched the implication of his words sink in. Jensen green eyes filled with sadness, and a little shame. Then Jared saw his expression change.
Jensen shook his head in frustration at Jared’s pig-headedness. “No, it doesn’t have to be like that. You don’t have to cut yourself off completely. Jared, believe me it can work. I’ve known hunters whose whole family have been involved in the hunting life. Or you can chose to go it alone if you want, but honestly you don’t have to do everything on your own. You can protect your family, trust me.”
Jared interrupted. “Trust you? It seems you know a little more about the way of life than you’ve been saying. Who did you treat? Some amateur at the hospital? Is that where all this stems from?” Jared snorted in amusement. “Well, I shouldn’t be surprised some guy tried to impress you with his scars, but back to more pressing matters. You would be prepared to risk your family’s lives by not cutting them out of your life?” Jared finished off handily.
“What? No way would I put them at risk. I love them too much to do that to them,” Jensen stuttered.
“You think you can just come and go as you please, and you’ll never bring your work home with you. You believe vamps and demons play nicely, Jensen? That’ll they’ll let you go home, and have Thanksgiving with mom, dad and Mac?” Jared narrowed his eyes, his anger starting to bleed through. “Fuck, if you’re unlucky and something’s on your tail, then you’ll probably have extra guests at the dinner table. But I wouldn’t worry about there being enough turkey to go around. Your average monster could carve your mom up for Thanksgiving dinner. Is that what you want to happen?”
“Of course I don’t. What kind of person do you take me for? I would never put my family in danger. And if had to stop seeing them, then there’s always the telephone or email, unless there’s a demon who can email itself to victims. I still believe you can keep your family. In fact I’m certain of it.” Jensen stuck to his beliefs; he’d met many hunters and some of them had managed just that. Not just lone hunters but husband and wife teams, and entire families working in the family business. Those hunters had warned him against working alone without the cushion of family.
Hearing Jensen’s unshakable faith in what he was saying made Jared lose focus, and he looked lost and alone. When he spoke again, he spoke more softly. “When I became a hunter, I made a clean break with my family. It was hard, believe me, Jensen. But there is no way I want one of those black-eyed sons of bitches to take them from me like they took Chad.”
“Shit, Jay, they have no idea where you are?” Jensen gasped. “You just turned your back on them, and let them worry about you? Jesus, would a phone call kill you? Just to let them know you’re alright.” Jensen felt the pain Jared and his family must be going through. He wondered how his mom would react if he just completely cut her out of his life. Now more than ever he wanted to help Jared. Show him hunting didn’t have to be all consuming. He didn’t have to live in self-imposed exile from the human race.
“Yes, Jensen, that’s what I’m telling you. There’s no room in a hunter’s life for family or friends.” Jared held up his hand to stop Jensen interrupting him. “You have to dedicate yourself completely to the life, it’s for the best. You can’t afford the distraction of family, and what might happen to them.”
Before Jensen could respond Jared pressed on. “Alright, you think you have the family angle under control. What about the other practicalities?”
Jensen felt his patience and his strength running out. He quirked an eyebrow and asked dully. “Such as? Are we talking the price of ammo, or where to get your hands on ‘Exorcisms for Dummies’? Please enlighten me, Jared; I’m hanging on your every word here.” A dull headache was building behind his eyes, and he waited for Jared to continue his lecture.
Jared couldn’t help but smile at the flash of humour Jensen displayed in the face of a Padalecki cross-examination. He’d seen seasoned criminals fold quicker than him. “Alright then, in this romantic notion you have of being a hunter, I suppose you’ll be staying in five-star hotels, or renting penthouses. Look around you, Jensen, this is as good as it gets. In fact, this is a palace compared to many of the shit heaps I’ve stayed in. Do you really think you could live like this all the time?” He had a slight smirk on his face as he imagined Jensen’s life working in an LA hospital was very different.
“Really? Well there I was getting ready to order room service at the Ritz. To be honest, Jared, this isn’t so very different from some of the places I lived while putting myself through med school. Don’t get me wrong. There was a college fund, but after nursing college it was gone. I funded my medical degree on my own. After tuition and text books, there wasn’t a lot left over for luxury apartments.”
Jensen smiled up at Jared, a wistful look on his face. “Man, you should’ve seen some of my apartments. There was always hot and cold running water but sometimes it happened to be running down the walls. And some of the cockroaches were so big, the rats carried flick knives to protect themselves. So yeah, I think I could rough it a little if I had to.” He gave Jared a cocky grin, and he saw the other man scowl.
Jensen’s attitude made Jared see red; he couldn’t believe how flippantly Jensen was treating this. His whole view of the life proved he had no concept of just what he wanted to get himself into. Jared lost his temper. “That just fucking proves you have no idea about what it takes to be a hunter. You really want to know what being a hunter is like, Jensen. Or would you prefer to hold onto your fantasy?” he said, his voice raw with anger.
Jensen snapped back waspishly. “Go on then, Yoda, educate me in the ways of the Force.”
Jared’s hands dropped to his sides and he clenched his fists. He started to speak softly and deliberately. “You spend your life alone, but maybe if you’re lucky there are waitresses or barmaids who will warm your bed. Just ask Kane - he’s a master at the pickup. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t had that comfort.”
Jensen saw the loneliness on Jared’s face as he said that. He wasn’t surprised by it either. He would never do that, he still loved Chad too much to find comfort in the arms of a handsome stranger. As long as his quest continued, Jared would never allow himself the warmth of human contact in case it derailed his never-ending quest for revenge. And Jensen couldn’t help but wonder if their kisses had something to do with Jared’s desire to prevent him hunting.
Jared continued. “And of course in my line of work, the work-related injuries tend to be a little more serious than a paper cut, or having a hot doctor break my heart. If you get hurt, you have to take care of yourself. Hospitals and doctors tend to ask awkward questions about black dog bites, or claw marks from werewolves.”
Jared rubbed absently at his own werewolf scratches on his arm. “I’ve gotten used to treating my own wounds, and I know that Kane is grateful for my skills with a needle and thread. It’s meant he’s kept his good looks on more than one occasion.” Jared drew a breath, and looked into Jensen’s eyes, smiling grimly.
“But all that will change when we get the hunting doctor amongst us. You’d be a very popular man, Jensen. In fact, why don’t you set up a clinic for hunters instead? You can treat as many of us as you like, and you’d get to hear all our exciting stories. Perhaps that would satisfy your craving for an exciting life.” He sneered at Jensen, and saw the other man bristle with anger at his words.
Jensen gritted his teeth at Jared’s condescending attitude towards him. He appreciated what the hunter was trying to do but there was no need to treat him like an idiot. “That’s a good idea about the clinic. I might even get rich out of it. Jared, I get what you’re saying. The life is hard. No home, no family or friends, just crappy motel rooms, and your weapon collection to clean.” Jensen’s patience was wearing thin, and he couldn’t help but mock Jared and his impassioned pleas.
Jared narrowed his eyes, Jensen’s refusal to see sense getting under his skin. “I hate to tell you, Jensen, but you won’t be buying your own Beverly Hills clinic out of the hunters you treat. The last time I looked there wasn’t a regular pay check, or medical insurance for us. You have to get creative with funding yourself. Most hunters play fast and loose with the law. I know Kane has taken credit card fraud to an art form, and never play Jim at cards, unless you’re prepared to lose the shirt off your back.”
Jared gave a mirthless laugh. “Now I’ve been lucky. I still have money from Chad’s life insurance, and the sale of our home. If I’m careful I won’t have to break the law for a couple of more years, as long as I go easy on the ammo and don’t mind missing the odd meal. So I’ll ask you again, do you think it will be fun being a hunter?” Jared’s eyes filled with sadness at having to bring up Chad.
Jensen felt a rush of remorse for dragging up painful memories for Jared, but he had to make a stand. “Jay, please, I know the life isn’t fun, and I’m sorry, I never meant to remind you of Chad and what you’ve lost. But you don’t understand what I’m trying to explain....”
“You’re right, I don’t fucking understand, Jensen! Why the hell do you want to throw away your life like this? All hunting has ever brought me is pain and loneliness. I go from town to town, unwanted and unwelcome. Living with lies, never being able to get close to anyone or drop my guard, always on my own.” Jared paused and raised his eyes heavenwards, laughing bitterly. “And if you think there are grateful victims out there... I don’t think I’ve ever been thanked for saving someone. Most times I barely managed to get out with my skin intact, or without being arrested. So forgive me for not seeing why you want to enter this life willingly.” Jared had grown quieter during his outburst, hoping against hope he’d made Jensen see sense.
“Jared, I get what you are telling me. It’s a hard life. Fuck, it’s a crap life, and most hunters do it out of a need for revenge.” Jensen pushed himself to the edge of the bed. He looked up into saddened hazel eyes; he wanted to connect with the other man again, hoping to make a breakthrough.
“But Jared, I’m sure there is something beyond revenge for you. I know you care about the victims you meet. I don’t believe all that drives you on is the next hunt, and finding the demon that took Chad from you. I know you want to help people. Look how you’ve helped me, how you’ve taken care of me. We connected with one another.” He went to reach for Jared’s hand.
Jared stared at Jensen’s hand as if it was a cursed object. Without realizing Jensen had just given him the weapon to break him once and for all. “Is that what this is all about? Don’t tell me you’ve got the idea that the two of us will ride off into the sunset, and hunt monsters together?” His face twisted into a cruel smile. “Oh Jesus, Jensen, have you heard yourself? You think because I’ve held your hand while you’ve had nightmares I’m interested in being with you? God, why do you think I can’t wait to get you back to LA?” He watched Jensen’s face crumple in grief. He steadfastly ignored the pain which was tearing his own heart apart.
Jensen was nearly overwhelmed with misery. Why was Jared being so cruel? Had he broken the cardinal rule, and made Jared care about him? “Is that all I am to you? Just another victim, one you have to dump as quickly as possible?” Jensen snapped back angrily. “Just remember, Jay. This ‘victim’ stopped you getting your ass handed to you this morning. I suppose I was good enough for that. It’s such a shame I’m not fit for anything else in your eyes.”
Jared gathered his composure. It was time to end this dance. “Ok, for argument’s sake, you become my hunting partner. Yes, you were helpful this morning, and I can see why you think you’ve got the makings of a hunter because of it.” He folded his arms, and a compassionate expression appeared. “But Jensen, there’s a slight problem. You drift off into a world of your own, one where you’re trapped with Morgan.”