the reluctant lobotomist (fourfreedoms) wrote,
the reluctant lobotomist
fourfreedoms

Fic: Ineffable

Title: Ineffable
Author: fourfreedoms
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Word Count: 18,753
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Jared and Jensen are angels in God's army who can't stand each other. During some supposedly restful downtime, it comes to the attention of someone very important.
Warning: Genderfuck
Notes: This is for ignited, I'd pretend it's for her birthday, but that was so long ago, I might as well just be like HAPPY RANDOM PRESENT! It's inspired by Good Omens, but it's also the culmination of two years worth of research for an original work.



Ineffable
“There are people out there shooting one another!”
“Well that’s just it, isn’t it? They’re doing it themselves. It’s what they really want to do. I just assisted them. Think of it as a microcosm of the universe. Free will for everyone. Ineffable, right?”
-Good Omens


*

Jensen’s father used to say that God and Satan could be best understood as two warring philosophers trying to prove their ideas upon the Earth. Campbell Brodie Ackles told his young son that God had grasped ever at understanding the nature of his own existence. It was heresy, although Jensen would come to learn that it was not the belief that mattered, but the lips that uttered it.

After staring at sparkling nebulas and the empty vacuums of black holes for an eternity, God puzzled at his own ability to reason. Satan continued to follow the threads of vivid galaxies and star systems, determined that all would be revealed in his infinite patience. But God was bored and frustrated and while Satan was busy weighing deep red stars and counting blue ones, he had an idea.

Being fond of threes God created life on Earth, third planet from one of his favorite suns, and set about an experiment to divine the truth of being. After several billion years of keen staring, he started to realize that a watched pot never boiled, and just as he was about to scrap the whole thing, man emerged and asked the same question God had thousands of times before, “Why?”

Satan, at the other end of the universe, had finally sensed that all was not quite the same. He rushed to God and found him perplexed, staring at his creation. “They must have order,” God said, waving his hand at the small planet, “a system where the most benefit is brought to the greatest number of people.” But Satan said no, and spurned the burgeoning governments that were slowly building on earth. “In your system, people are used as the means to an end, yoked by order and hierarchy,” Satan pointed out. But God could conceive of no other way and Satan would not budge.

Their disagreement built into a war, Jensen’s father said, that would never stop being fought, down onto the day that Jensen breathed his last breath, until they destroyed God’s experiment between them and they turned on to better things.

Later when Jensen stood amid the smoking ruin of his house, he thought, father you were wrong. The only thing he had left was his skin and the charred mess of his favorite book, completely abandoned in the harsh beauty of the firmament.

Stuck in the vast emptiness of space with only brightly burning stars and a brother too opposite to understand him, God created the world because he was lonely.

*

The moaning woke him up. His first thought was that the ash-coated horror of his dreams had followed him into life. His heart pounded, blood beating through his veins too fast. The hair at the nape of his neck prickled uncomfortably, and his mouth was filled with the bitterness of adrenaline. He felt like he was going to fly apart. For a moment it seemed all the enormity and weight of God was compressed into the room with him.

The sound came again, followed by two hitching gasps and a sharp thump against the wall. He sighed and punched his pillow, brain slowly telling his heart to calm. The analog clock on the wall read quarter to three. He’d managed two hours of sleep this time and inevitably the asshole he shared his wall with, Padalecki, had to ruin it.

This girl was a wailer, filling his room with embarrassing un-muffled ululations. The one on Tuesday had shouted Padalecki’s name over and over like the over-sexualized idiot had forgotten who he was and ordered her to remind him every fifteen seconds.

He rolled to the foot of his bed and laid spread eagle, thinking I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, over and over, building rage and impotence up in his blood. But not even his hatred was strong enough to make Padalecki hear him. He never did. Tomorrow they would probably fight in training and they would push it farther than their commanders wanted. It would be like a drug—one hit good for a short time.

*

Jensen deflected a blow with his arm and ducked under another before kicking the legs out from under his opponent, gratified by the hollow thump the other man made hitting the mat. Jensen’s ribs and knuckles ached. He felt like he could hear his heartbeat in every hurt. He’d pushed himself too hard today, too much exertion, too much coffee, not enough sleep.

He loomed over the guy, foot strategically placed over the diaphragm, and waited for him to tap out. Slowly, Herminius or Hilarius—some idiot from the light skirmishers who’d had the balls to challenge him—raised his hand to tap twice on the mats. The win filled him with a shot of revitalizing pride.

I can do this, I am good at this, he thought.

Captain Lewis, his CO, clapped. “Goodness, Ackles, you’ve been eating your Wheaties.”

Jensen blinked. “I’m afraid the Captain’s reference is lost on me, sir.”

The Captain shook his head. “Of course it is.” He smiled crookedly and moved on to another pair of sparring partners.

“Somebody needs to get laid,” a singsong voice ran across his abraded nerves like nails on a chalk board. He stiffened and brushed sweaty hair out of his eyes. Padalecki leaned against the wall, winding fabric over his knuckles. He grinned, white teeth seeming to flash. Padalecki looked well-rested and relaxed and it made Jensen’s head throb.

“Not to sink to your vulgar level, but go fuck yourself,” he said conversationally. Padalecki laughed and pushed past him to take his place on the mats.

Jensen stared after him, frozen for a moment. He turned and angrily tugged the protective skeins of fabric off his hands.

“You handled that well,” Derry, the unit communications officer, said and handed him a water bottle. “There wasn’t any bloodshed, no broken bones, in fact, nobody even lost a tooth. Truly this must be an auspicious day.”

Jensen pursed his lips. He said, “I grow weary of being confined to base.”

Derry rolled his eyes. “Go take a shower. You stink.” Jensen arched a brow at him, but left, his muscles pulling and screaming at him. Everything felt wrong and heavy, not just the earthly cage of his body. He realized with a certain joylessness that his default was bad, but this was shit. The tunnel to the locker room was dark and airless, but even the soaring towers and solariums of the base were starting to feel that way.

The showers were blessedly empty when he got there. Derry would’ve said he was unfit for company, but Jensen always figured it was company that was unfit for him. He turned on the tap and stared at the water pouring out of the shower spigot, waiting for it to warm. Sometimes it felt like they were having it sent up from the bowels of hell for how long it took.

A loud whoop echoed against the tiles, and showers flared to life on the other side of the aisle. He tensed and turned up the intensity of the spray until it was beating at him hard enough to sting. He healed fast, like most of his kind, but his left knee had been bothering him for months. He'd probably have to see the medicus about it.

“How was Tulia?” Chad Tarquin, Padalecki’s henchman, said. The low-country accent was unmistakable. Jensen grit his teeth. Padalecki was everywhere. He ducked his head under the onslaught of the spray.

Padalecki replied, “Loud.”

“Fuck off! You wouldn’t think it to look at her.”

“I’m not joking. She probably kept Ackles up half the night. He seems even more humorless than usual.”

Jensen thought about diving around the bank and showing him humorless. His nakedness was probably the only thing that stopped him. They’d been in seventeen fights since his plebe year and caught for it every time. They couldn’t get away with anything when the eyes of heaven were upon them. His sore muscles remembered countless extra rounds of PT as punishment, pushing through the obstacle courses sullenly next to Padalecki. These days, punishments were harsh black tick marks under his name that would shunt him off the promotional grid. Funny what they said about his kind, when it also said ‘too much human nature’ on all his performance reviews.

He had always known things would be difficult. Angelic-human hybrids made up the entirety of the Legio Deus Terra, or in the modern Lingua Franca, the Corps, and yet they were held to the same standards of their full-blooded parents. God had bargained only once in his time and it had been for his son. He was unyielding with his servants. Jensen knew it would be more difficult for him, with parents ash and dust, and a name irrevocably tarnished. He couldn't escape it, but that didn't stop him from being angry about it.

He smacked the shower tile with the flat of his palm, listening to Tarquin and Padalecki’s raucous laughter and felt resentment well in him like an unlimited reservoir.

*


“Ackles!” a voice called as he walked the halls back to his room. His hair was still wet and dripping down onto his collar.

He turned and found a Hastati commander striding quickly down the hall, marked by the sword and shield on his shoulder knot. His face was stern, Roman features still strong. His family had clearly done much to keep their bloodline pure since Constantine’s establishment of the Legio. He rapidly snapped to attention, even as he smirked internally. Inbreeders.

“Relax,” the man said. “I did not come to reprimand you.”

“Sir?” Jensen replied.

“I saw you on the courts today. Your discipline is astonishing. You deserve much praise.”

Jensen bowed his head. “Thank you, sir.”

“There’s some talk of creating special ops teams. Reorganizing the maniple to create guerilla strike squads.”

Jensen furrowed his brow. His company was as traditional as any other in the legion. It was manipular force that could be broken down into fully operational combat units, because pitched battles demanding the assemblage of all three battle lines, Hastati, Princeps, and Triarii, were rare and unsought by both sides. He wasn’t sure what a guerilla strike team could accomplish that his unit, a contubernium, couldn’t. Angels were too immutable, too infinite to shirk at change, but neither did they change for the sake of it.

“Now, you’re in the Princeps,” the commander continued, “which are always in need of accomplished service-people, but I’m thinking it would be worth it to pull you.”

A reassignment. He blinked. Sweet trinity, to never have to deal with Padalecki’s constant joking again, that’d be welcome. He wondered how much the commander would want him once he went into his background.

“If we do, we’ll probably take Padalecki as well, he’s one of the best snipers…”

Jensen wanted to sigh. Of course. He’d never be free of him. It was starting to feel like some kind of karmic retribution, for what he didn't know. The last thing either of them needed was to be shoved in some condensed new-fangled squad with fewer people to act as a buffer. Jensen had some care to be promoted some day.

The commander still talked, but Jensen stood bored, thinking of exercises he should go through for his knee. If it showed on his face the commander didn’t take notice.

“Commander Titus, you aren’t trying to poach one of mine, are you?” Captain Lewis called down the hall. He carried folders thick with duty rosters, no doubt having gone to Commander Suetonius after putting the unit through its paces on the practice court.

“You’ve caught me,” Titus said. “Well, think about it, Ackles.” He nodded and Jensen saluted, watching him walk carefully past his captain.

Captain Lewis shook his head when the other officer had disappeared down the hall. “I hope you don’t want to go, Ackles, because I’ll throw the gauntlet down for you.”

Jensen stared at him. He said slowly, “That’s very flattering, sir.”

“Do I sense some mock?” the captain replied, laugh lines emerging around his eyes, “Get out of my sight. Go off base or something. Stop calling so much attention to yourself by working so hard!”

Jensen bit his lip. “Yes sir.”

*

He didn’t sleep. He sat motionless, propped up against his headboard. The morning bell sounded, once, twice, so loud the glass in his windows vibrated. The other side of the wall was mercifully silent. He sighed and rolled out of bed, carefully getting dressed.

He was made for war. They all were. Some fought for duty, some for the pressure of their compassionate hearts, and some because life had made them into weapons. There wasn’t anything else left. It meant he didn’t know what to do with himself in times like these. What was he good at besides breaking a man’s legs and slitting his throat?

His phone vibrated on the dresser as he jammed his feet into his shoes.

“Derry says you actually managed to avoid a fight yesterday?” Hiver said without preamble when he put the phone to his ear.

Jensen sighed. “Is there a reason that you’re bothering me at first bells?”

“Yeah, fool, I’m standing in your mess hall right now!” Before Jensen could dismiss Hiver he continued, “And you’ll show up too, because if you don’t, I’m telling everybody that you cried the first time you fucked Yoanna.”

“That’s not what happened!”

“Bitch, please.”

Jensen’s stomach rejected the idea of breakfast, the smell of food at this hour, but he’d known even before Hiver had finished talking that he was going to go. He said, “I’ll see you in five minutes.”

Hiver had already hung up.

*

“The Thrones keep talking about the tide turning, but I’m not seeing it, we go out there, put some bullets in demons, and come back with five casualties for our troubles,” Derry said, chucking his half-eaten breakfast at the trashcan from across the room, not even bothering to watch as it sailed into the garbage.

“Faith, you just have to have faith,” Hiver responded, waving the strip of bacon skewered on his fork around. Jensen absently swirled his yogurt around in his cup. Hiver stared at him and then asked, “What’s with you, emo princess?”

“Padalecki said it best. He needs to get laid,” Derry replied. He raised his hands at Jensen’s dark look. “I mean, you’ve been beating the shit out of everybody in practice for a week. You’re a little uptight.”

Jensen rocked back in his chair until the legs left the floor. “I’m always 'uptight' as you put it.”

“Yeah well, now you’re acting like an unpredictable psycho,” Hiver said, waving his fork at him. “Maybe you do need to get laid, or like a hobby.”

Derry laughed. “Getting laid can be Jensen’s hobby!”

“You’re both idiots,” he said as he stood. He nodded to Hiver, “And you need to return to your unit.”

“Miss you too, psycho,” Hiver called after him.

*

He cleaned his weapons for the fourth time that day, brushed his teeth, walked twice around the lake. Hiver and Derry called, fighting for the phone and laughing loudly. A bunch of the people they’d known from the academy were getting together. They wanted go over the margin to drink themselves sloppy and pretend their fears didn’t exist. They said, “We know you won’t come, but you should.”

Jensen never went with them. The only time he went Cyprian side was on assignment. There were too many consequences if he made the smallest mistake, the slightest slip-up. He’d had to prove a lot to get into the corps, joy riding among the unwitting humans wasn’t worth the risk.

After staring at his dinner for thirty minutes, pushing pieces of sodden broccoli around, he almost wished for the blaring alarms and the cold voice flooding every room “Commanipulares” summoning them for battle. A horrible thought. Even his earthly father, if he still lived, would’ve condemned him for that one. He stared at the dark screen of his cell-phone and set it aside.

Maybe he’d get a book from the library, a true sign of desperation. He’d only been once or twice. It was dark and musty, windowless, filled with glass cases of curios and ancient reliquaries. It was a painful reminder of what he’d lost, and the tomes housed therein were old-fashioned and fusty. But he was going to go insane if he stayed here, pacing himself into exhaustion.

It was a long walk to the library, the living quarters yielding to the opulent halls of the old fortifications, older than the Mycenaeans. The stern countenances of the slain lined the walls, the dark lines of their wings visible on every forearm. The heavy oak door of the library was almost hidden among the heavy guilt frames and mosaics. It opened soundlessly under his fingertips, revealing the dark room. He slipped inside like a trespasser. The heavy bust of Constantine stared at him from the end of a bookcase. He averted his eyes in respect and hurried down an aisle of books. He wandered for half an hour, aimlessly pulling leather-bound volumes off the shelves. Some were so old that their spines curved inwards. The translucent frontispieces looked like skin in the light. Nothing caught his eye.

He stopped when he heard a rustling shuffling sound. He'd thought he was alone, but when he stepped out of the last aisle he found Padalecki before the fire. He turned his eyes away, his dexter forearm aching. Padalecki was lost in the large tome spread over his knees and yet despite his bent head, his practiced ease—he knew Jensen was there, perhaps he'd known Jensen was there the entire time. Jensen could take the free pass to let it go for tonight. But he found the buzzing rising up in his ears, itching his spine and setting his teeth on edge. He didn’t want to let it go. He wanted this fight.

“Last place I’d ever thought to find you,” he said, voice ugly.

Padalecki didn’t look up, but his knuckles whitened. “Funny, I come here because I know you’ll never be here.” He shut the book on his lap. “You can read, right?”

“Weak,” Jensen said. After years of barbed arrows shot back and forth between them, it was like tossing a stick.

“Not in the mood,” Padalecki said and rose out of his chair, all set to turn away. Jensen tracked him with his eyes.

“I despise you,” it slid out of his mouth without warning.

Padalecki made a face, and set the book set aside. “You’re just itching for it, aren’t you? A fucking whore for it. You need me to hurt you?” He paused, a sharp laugh on his lips. “Kinky.”

And that was it. It slid under his skin and made him forget his training. They’d moved closer during the conversation and all it took was one strong shove and they were grappling. The familiar road rose up to greet them.

The chair fell back and Padalecki tripped over it, back smacking against an aged mahogany escritoire with all the force of gravity. A vase of lilies placed decoratively on top of the cabinet upended and pitched green filmy water and pollen all over him. The vase teetered on the cabinet edge, before tumbling over and crashing to the floor, narrowly missing his head. A startled epithet fell out of Jensen’s mouth, dumped amid the detritus of the antique. They stared at it in shock.

“That’s another three more months cooling our heels on base,” Padalecki said, wiping a bright smear of yellow pollen over his cheek. “You’re such an idiot.”

“You provoked me,” Jensen said, getting down on his knees to pick up the pieces.

Padalecki stared at him for a long moment, expression incredulous. “Oh forget it. It’s not worth it.”

“How often do people come here?” he asked when Padalecki bent down beside him, carefully picking up the largest pieces. Padalecki pricked himself on a shard and blood bloomed on the glass. He bit his lip and wiped it away with the tip of his thumb. Jensen didn’t look. He knew that the slice in Padalecki’s index finger had already healed. Bastard.

“You can’t mean to hide it?” Padalecki brushed sodden hair out of his eyes.

“I’m not spending another hour on base for you!”

Padalecki elbowed him in the gut. “You make it sound like it’s my fault.”

“That’s because it is!” Jensen stood, hands filled with spiky pieces of thin-blown glass. He dumped it vehemently in the trash.

Padalecki swept the shards under the rug. “False! The first fight we ever got into was all you. I was just walking around minding my own business, and you like, took exception to my face! And now it's all Lakers vs. Celtics!”

Jensen turned around and blinked. “What?”

Padalecki clicked his tongue and gathered up the sodden remains of the flowers. He shook them at Jensen. “You’re such a robot. I’m going to bed. You can deal with the wet spot.”

*
Jensen woke up again at first bells. This time he didn’t even try to go back to sleep. He pulled some sweats on and went to the weight room. He was surveying the weights when a noise came from behind. The sound of padding feet startled him. Who had got through the door without him noticing? He whirled about, ready to strike out at whoever dared to sneak up on him.

“Ugh! Calm down, idiot!” a slender-finger hand caught his wrist. He stared at a lanky young woman in baggy clothes. She had very white teeth bared in an angry grimace.

Jensen pressed a hand to his heart, fancying he could feel the force of it against his palm. “You startled me.”

She viciously tugged her hand out of his grip. “I noticed, look—”

He could see the strong arabesques of the wings descending from her elbow to the knobs of her wrist. “Are you new? I haven’t seen you on base before.” She was pretty even in her annoyance and Jensen was a sucker for the long curls that fell about her face.

“What?” She shook her head, her face taking on an incomprehensibly angry expression. “Ackles, I’ve been—”

Jensen snapped to attention when she said his name. “Do I know you?”

“Yes, you know me!” She glanced at the mirrored wall over his shoulder. “Do I really look that different?”

Jensen stared at her. He didn’t know her at all. She was tall enough that he wouldn’t forget. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t remember you.”

“You are such a—” she blew out a breath. “Ackles! It’s me, Padalecki.”

He narrowed his eyes at her. “Pardon?” he said.

She crossed her arms and cocked an eyebrow. “Are you simple? I’m Padalecki.”

He said, “You seem a bit confused.”

“No, asshole, I’m not confused, you are! This is all your fault!”

Jensen sat down on a padded bench. “Listen, whoever you are, Padalecki is a man and unless you went Cyprian side and had gender reassignment in the six hours since I last saw you, you cannot be him!” His eyes dropped to the breasts her crossed arms were crushing together.

“I didn’t go Cyprian side, asshole, it was the damn flowers!” She grabbed his shoulder, nails digging in. “I could wring your stupid neck!”

“Right. Did Hiver put you up to this?” he said, shaking her off. “This would be exactly his sort of prank.”

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo!” she shouted and hit him hard on the shoulder. That would definitely bruise. “The worst fight we ever got in, just after the first wing was inked into our arms, you cut me so bad that I had to get the lines redone when the skin healed clean.”

Jensen had watched Padalecki wipe the blood away, the bare slash of skin appearing unmarked through the unfurled wing. He blinked aghast at the girl standing before him.

“The time I struck you right under our platoon leader’s nose was because you called me a faggot.”

Jensen winced. “Not one of my better moments.”

She shoved away from him. “Then you admit it’s me?”

Jensen ran his eyes down her body and while suddenly Padalecki’s pointy nose and prominent cheek bones jumped out at him like neon lighting, he thought he could forgive himself for not believing sooner. His hair wasn’t even the same length. “Are you--are you still taller than me?”

She said flatly, “Are you serious? We have bigger problems!”

Jensen grinned. “Like a uterus? Listen, I’m not sure what I have to do with this.”

She dove at him and they toppled over the bench with a crash. The bar fell out of its cradle and knocked into the free weights and they tumbled to the floor, barely missing them. Jensen found himself flat on his back, side aching, with Padalecki lying over him, thumbs pressing dangerously over his Adam’s apple. His head felt wobbly and liquid. He must have hit it on something.

“It’s your fault that I’m like this! Those damn flowers were Hesperidic fertility orchids and I got the pollen everywhere.” His vision sparkled, tunneling outward and Padalecki continued railing. “You can never leave it alone and I always pay the price for it.”

“Didn’t know…” he mumbled, batting weakly at her arms. “I…didn’t know.”

Her fingers went slack and she rolled off him. Jensen hacked and coughed. When he finally gathered enough energy to pick himself up off the floor, he found her sitting on the bench, flexing and clenching her fingers. Her hair tumbled wild about her shoulders, made her look completely mad.

“What were they doing in the library?” he said, hoping if he shook his head enough the world would bounce into focus.

A door banged open at the other end of the room cutting off anything that Padalecki might’ve said. “Good morning, Ackles,” Captain Lewis said, striding into the room, a towel draped over his neck. “I thought told you to get off base—” he paused when he saw Padalecki, pale eyes quickly noting the mess around the room. “And I don’t believe I know you. Do you have the proper clearance to be here?”

She froze, mouth open. Jensen looked back and forth between them, pulling himself up off the ground with the rack of weights. More thumped to the ground. “I—I—she’s my girlfriend.” The captain raised his brows and Jensen rushed to continue, dragging her tattooed forearm up so that the Captain could see it. “We have never spoken of it, because we know the tenuous situation that puts us in. I'm sure you understand.”

Captain Lewis's face softened and he turned back to Padalecki. “Well, be at ease, visitors in the corps are readily allowed on the premises.”

She nodded slowly and then seemed to regain something of herself. “It’s nice to meet you. I was…I was just going to take him for breakfast, uh, Cyprian side.” And then completely disregarding all the regs, she dragged him from the room by his elbow.

On the other side of the door she glared at him. “You’re such an idiot! What possessed you to say girlfriend? Who knows how long I’m going to be stuck this way! They’ll figure it out and then we’ll be hosed! Those orchids are a controlled substance!”

“Hey listen, they were just sitting there in the library, that's not our fault!”

She tightened her grip on his elbow and dragged him through the halls. People sleepily blinked at them as they passed. “We’re supposed to know better, idiot! You already have like 80 demerits for starting fights with me!” The door of her room disengaged under her palm and she dragged him inside. “And now you’ve gone and said I’m your girlfriend. Why couldn’t you have said cousin?”

He pulled his arm out of her grasp, face hardening. “He would’ve known it was a lie for sure. I have no family.”

She collapsed on the bed, head in her hands, knees splayed out inelegantly. “Sorry, I’m sorry about that,” she said softly. She looked up, eyes red rimmed. “I’m just—stuck with you now. I can’t go home until this blows over. If my mother finds out, ah I don’t even want to think about her finding out.”

Jensen swallowed. “At least...at least we’re technically on leave.”

Padalecki raised her face—his face in horror. “I’m crying.” One tear ran down her—his cheek before he could brush it a way.

After he managed to dry his eyes, Padalecki demanded that they find him a bra. “Walking around with these things flapping about—no good, man.”

Jensen sighed. Padalecki’s nipples also stood out rather prominently against his worn black t-shirt. Jensen couldn’t stop staring at them, a bra sounded like a good plan. Derry’s girlfriend was in B company. She’d probably be able to lend them one, or at least point them in the direction of someone who could.

Padalecki followed him to her room with his arms crossed over his chest. Jensen didn’t realize until he got there that he was going to have to explain why he needed a bra. But as soon as “Could I borrow a bra?” came out of his mouth, he appreciated how crazy he looked.

Derry’s girlfriend, Julia, blinked at him. Her ink was still fresh and she picked at the scabs. “Uh, is this for some unit camaraderie?”

Jensen gaped at her, grasping for an appropriate story. Padalecki shoved him out of the doorway and pushed past to shake hands with Julia. “Hi, I’m Jensen’s girlfriend, Jared.” He shot Jensen a dark look over his shoulder. “I lost my luggage on the trip to come visit.”

“Oh, I’m Julia, and that sucks.” She eyed his ribcage critically. “I guess we might be the same size, but even so the commissary has sports bras. They don’t do that at your posting?”

“Wonderful, thanks,” Jensen interrupted quickly, before they had to come up with any more stories. “We’ll pick some up there.”

She waved at them. “Nice to meet you, Jared.”

“Yeah, you too,” Padalecki got out before the door slammed.

“Jared?” Jensen whispered furiously, he scanned the halls for passersby. “That’s not a woman’s name, and you blame me for not being able to lie?”

Padalecki snapped back, “No, but it’s my name, and there isn’t any way I’m going to start answering to Betty or Lucy.”

“Right, well, you don’t need me to get a bra,” Jensen said, turning to go off in the opposite direction.

Padalecki’s hand on his wrist drew him up short. “Oh no, buddy, if I have to suffer through this…”

“I have never so ardently hated anybody in my life,” Jensen grumbled.

Padalecki shot an entirely unfriendly grin at him.

The commissary was dark when they got there, lit up by only a dusty lamp. Jensen had always had his equipment delivered and he was surprised at the shelves and shelves of boots and gloves.

Padalecki found the sports bras folded in a bin in the back next to the panty hose. “How do I know which one is the right size? What is this fuckery? 32AA 36D 34B?” Nobody was working, which was probably a good thing. How would they ever explain a 22-year-old woman who hadn’t yet worn a bra?

“You don’t take them off often enough to know?” Jensen said pulling through a pile of sunglasses.

“Oh man, if you think looking at the labels is part of the sex act, no wonder you’re like HAL3000.” Padalecki snorted and then pulled one out, holding it out before him speculatively. “Yeah, definitely not a C cup.”

He threw it back and pulled out another one. Jensen peered at him. Padalecki was probably a B, maybe a generous A. Not like Jensen paid attention to those sorts of things. He was more of a legs man himself. He nearly choked on his tongue when Padalecki hitched his shirt up over his head and gave him an eyeful of tan breasts. He popped on a pair of aviators, but his vision was too good to blot out the sight even through the dark gloom of the room.

“I can feel you perving on my breasts,” Padalecki said, struggling with the catch at the back. He kept dropping the back of the band before he could fasten it together. “Ugh, how do women put these things on?”

Jensen grumbled and walked into Padalecki’s space, grabbing the two ends and sliding the hooks together. Padalecki inhaled in relief and peered over his shoulder at Jensen and they were too close together. Jensen nearly stumbled backing up.

“I don't understand how you can still be taller than me.”

“That again.” Padalecki pulled his shirt back on. “I can’t believe I’m attempting to make you feel better, but I’m taller than everybody, dude—except maybe a pro-basketball player.” At Jensen’s confused face, he threw up his hands. “I swear, have you been hiding under a rock?”

Jensen ducked his head. He looked down at his right arm and the sleeve that hid the three black bands around his forearm. He—he didn’t know. Jensen realized that Padalecki had never done the same digging that he had, had never fanatically peered into Jensen’s whole past. Jensen, on the other hand, knew that Padalecki’s mother was one of the Dominions, Tsaphiel, that he was not her first child, not even her first by Padalecki’s sire, a human librarian who still lived Cyprian side. He’d always felt crushed by what the marks meant, but Padalecki didn’t even know. It made him feel blank and empty, the sleepless days catching up and hooking him around the neck.

He pushed past the racks of clothes, out into the lit hallway. “I’m going to take a nap. Go research how to turn yourself back.” He left without a glance backwards. He sensed Padalecki’s eyes trained on him.

*

He woke up to a pounding on his door. It took him awhile to work up the energy to get out of bed. He felt nauseated and more tired than he had when he’d gone to sleep. He stumbled to the doorway, brushing grit out of his eyes. He found Hiver on the other side of the door, garment bag draped over one arm.

“You look like shit,” he said, point blank.

Jensen sighed. “What do you want?”

“Word on the base is that you have a girlfriend?” Hiver adjusted the bag. “What? I ship out and you stop talking to me?”

Jensen gaped at him, finally working out, “I’m sorry, it’s a very...new relationship. I’ll uh…introduce you...soon.” He made a face just thinking how that would go. He couldn’t believe Captain Lewis of all people had been gossiping.

Hiver nodded satisfied. “You can do it tonight.”

Jensen narrowed his eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“Dude,” Hiver barked, “did you forget?” At Jensen’s headshake, his mouth dropped open. He hoisted the garment bag up in front of him. “The gala tonight? It’s the spring equinox, fool!”

“Fuck!” He nearly punched the doorframe. "That is just...that is just...too fucking much."

“You’re such a retard! You need to get your shit together, man.” Hiver laughed at him. “Hey, but at least you have a date?”

Jensen groaned. Oh yes, at least he had that. Hiver patted him on the shoulder and walked off, whistling. Jensen waited until he was out of earshot before hammering on Padalecki’s door. It was wrenched open quickly, revealing an unsmiling Padalecki.

“It’s the Ball of the Spring Equinox tonight,” Jensen rushed out.

Padalecki said, “So? I can’t go. There’s no way to turn me back. Thankfully shape changes require too much energy to last long, so I should be back in a week or two, no thanks to you,” nonplussed.

“They’re expecting you there as my girlfriend.”

Padalecki stared at him, expression incredulous, before sending a fist into his gut. “Infinity, you are so stupid!” Jensen fell back, breath compressing out of his lungs.

*

After he’d recovered his air source Padalecki stormed off to find Julia. “Maybe she can lend me a dress,” he said, over his shoulder.

Jensen had to dig his suit out the back of his closet. It was clean, but it needed heavy ironing. He amused himself as he flattened the creases in his shirt by imagining Padalecki attempting to put makeup on. He had to admit, Padalecki’s company or not, he was definitely not the one getting the raw end of the deal.

He still hadn’t heard any word from Padalecki nearly two hours later. He started to get worried. Perhaps they’d been found out. Perhaps they were coming to toss him in confinement—he and Padalecki certainly had enough strikes. He paced back and forth in his small room, finally putting his suit on just for lack of anything better to do. He had just fastened the cufflinks when Padalecki called through the door, “I’m ready, asshole.”

Jensen took a deep breath to steel himself from whatever monstrosity waited on the other side and then threw it open. Padalecki towered above him. He ran his eyes up from the dainty high-heeled shoes to the cleavage-inducing neckline and caught his breath. “You look—”

Padalecki chuckled and said, “I know, I’d fuck me.” He clicked his tongue and tried to ease the hemline of his dress down. It was obviously made for a much shorter woman and Jensen thought he detected the hint of a flush over Padalecki’s cheeks. Padalecki ducked his head and said, “I told them that I couldn’t wear heels because your ego can’t take me being taller than you, but they told me the dress required it.” Jensen nodded, still a little dumbstruck. There was makeup and jewelry, and Padalecki didn’t look like at all like the hot mess he'd been hoping for.

“Would you say something? You make me feel like I’m talking to a wall!”

Jensen shook his head to clear it. “We’re going to be late.”

Part 2

*
Tags: au, fic, ineffable, j2
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