Word Count: 18,753
Summary: Jared and Jensen are angels in God's army who live to make each other miserable. During some supposedly restful downtime, it comes to the attention of someone very important.
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.
The skirmisher’s unit was almost decimated. Domitilla, the woman with the v shaped tattoos, and Sulla were the only surviving members. Lavinia’s unit wordlessly moved through the streets, searching houses and inspecting the street. Coming back again and again to tell her they had no new information. Lavinia sighed and wandered gingerly through the house the sniper had taken position in, pacing past fallen bodies. The floor creaked and groaned ominously and Jensen and Padalecki followed behind slowly.
“There was something here they wanted,” Jensen said, shaking his head.
“God only knows what,” Lavinia said, aware of the irony.
In one room, the sleeve of a demon had rolled back, exposing his forearm. She picked it up in one gloved hand, turning it over to reveal the twice bisected triangle and v raised in black that marked a Demon soldier.
“It’s funny,” she said, “that they hold this same tradition of marking their warriors. They even use the sinister arm.”
Jensen found a charred laptop next to one of the bodies, but he couldn’t tell if it belonged to the demons or the owner of the house. He picked it up anyway. “We do it on the sinister arm to warn them off. They do it as a taunt.”
Padalecki inspected another body. “‘Ooh, look at me, I’m so evil?’ That’s incredibly lame.”
Jensen straightened. “Are you incapable of taking anything seriously?”
“Hey, dude, a little positivity never hurt anyone.”
Lavinia stared at both of them, watching as they both got distracted from what they were doing and started gearing up for a fight. “Hey, hey, why don’t you to go home? My unit can take care of this. The cleanup crew’s en route. They’re going to set the place on fire and claim it was a gas leak.”
Jensen heard his father’s voice, reading from the Deuterocanonical texts,“‘We were born by mere chance and hereafter we shall be as though we had never been.’” Jensen shuddered and remembered the name scrawled into her skin.
He didn’t bother to fight. When he caught Padalecki’s eye, he was peering at Jensen again, trying to search him out. It made Jensen uncomfortable. Finally, Padalecki turned and ducked under a low-hanging rafter. Jensen watched after him and set the dilapidated hardware in front of Lavinia.
She glanced up at him and said, “Fertility orchids?”
“Yeah, the pollen,” he said, shifting uncomfortably.
Lavinia nodded her head absently. “Looks like you two caught somebody’s attention.”
“What?” He stepped back.
She smiled and wouldn’t say anymore.
The streetlights were still on, but the sky had begun to lighten. Their clothes were completely destroyed. Jensen counted four bloody holes in the back of the shirt Padalecki had borrowed and swallowed, imagining bullets piercing flesh. It shouldn’t be, but it was somehow worse now that he was a girl, hips swaying as he walked ahead, hair hanging in a dusty mess.
The Tesla sat undisturbed, pristine, as if nothing had ever happened at all. Jensen wasn’t sure he had the energy to drive. Padalecki paused and said, “You want to stop for coffee?”
Jensen picked at his torn, dusty clothing and laughed. “Yeah, why not?”
After exhorting Padalecki not to spill any of his Americano on the seats, they headed back Firmament side. He drove cloaked on the empty highway, not wanting to tempt fate and light up some poor schmuck’s radar just as they got back. “You should see The Fast and the Furious,” Padalecki said, licking excess coffee off the lid. When they passed over the barrier Jensen heaved a sigh of relief. Nothing had gone wrong because he left the base. In fact, it had been a good thing.
The verdant lawns of the base looked dour compared to the bright lights and busy people Cyprian side, but it was the only home Jensen had really ever known, soothing in its unchanging state. Maybe he hated it, but it never had the ability to alarm him.
He parked in the same space back in the garage and Padalecki yawned and stretched when he stepped out of the car, shirt riding up to reveal a flat stomach and hips. Jensen busied himself with locking the car and getting his coat out of the trunk. They walked back in silence, but it wasn’t the same strained affair of earlier in the evening. Their footsteps echoed down the halls, and Jensen imagined that he could hear the walls sigh with the breaths of their sleeping occupants.
Their shoulders brushed together and he felt warm at the contact, remembering how Padalecki had looked in that dress, leaning up against him in the perfect parody of a girlfriend. They stopped in front of Jensen’s door.
“Well, that was interesting.”
Padalecki scrubbed at his eyes tiredly. “Next time, I’m taking you out and hopefully no freaking Satanists will ruin the evening for us.” He winced and gave a sheepish smile. “Er, I didn’t mean for that to sound like it sounded.”
Jensen shrugged and said, “I understood what you meant.” They were too close together again. Jensen could feel the heat off of Padalecki’s skin. Padalecki gazed at him for a long moment and then he stepped in even closer, backing Jensen up against his door, palm resting on the frame right next to Jensen’s head. Jensen shot a quick glance at it and then said, “Uh, I’m the man.”
Padalecki’s hand dropped and he started laughing. He laughed so hard tears came to his eyes. “You’re the man,” he repeated and laughed until his face turned red. He slowly quieted under Jensen’s severe gaze. He bit his lip and straightened his back like he was gathering the courage to face an execution and said, “So be the man.”
“Why do you want this?” Jensen all but whispered.
Padalecki’s lips quirked. He said, “Always with the hard questions.”
Jensen blew out a breath. He said, “I’m going to regret this for the rest of my life,” and kissed Padalecki up against the wall.
Padalecki blinked when he pulled back, “You call that a kiss?”
“I hate you,” Jensen replied drily as Padalecki’s fingers ran under his shirt, an unbearable teasing glide.
“So you keep saying. Nothing a good lay couldn't change.”
Padalecki kissed him again, an arm hooked around his neck and those breasts pressed against Jensen’s chest. The corners of Padalecki’s mouth tasted salty like sweat and Jensen’s fingers found the ragged bullet holes in the back of his shirt. He shuddered, edging fabric back to press against smooth new skin.
Padalecki put a whisper of space between them and said, “Are we going to do this up against the wall?”
Jensen snorted, hand drawing tight in shirt fabric, kept them pressed together even as he pressed his fingers to the locking mechanism. It swung open soundlessly and Padalecki lead the way through. Jensen paused, leaning against the door, waiting for Padalecki’s next move.
He smiled, stared at Jensen beneath his eyelids, and drew his shirt up over his head without preamble. He fidgeted at the clasp of his bra, trying to wriggle out of it when the two halves wouldn’t part. Jensen chuckled and stepped up behind him, unhooking it easily. He eased the straps down Padalecki’s shoulders and skated his palms around to cup Padalecki’s breasts. Padalecki arched his head back onto Jensen’s shoulder and moaned when his thumbs skimmed over taut nipples. It was easy, too easy, to press his lips to Padalecki’s shoulder, dip his tongue into the hollow of his clavicle. Breath came harsh in his chest, and he was hard again, pressed insistently against the rounded swell of his ass.
Padalecki took a deep breath and caught Jensen’s hands, drawing them away. He turned and unfastened his jeans, maintaining eye contact as he pushed them down his hips.
“No underwear?” Jensen said thickly, struggling with the zipper on his own pants.
Padalecki stepped out of them, watching Jensen intently as he pulled off his clothes. “It seemed awkward to borrow a pair.”
Jensen swallowed. “You mean in that dress—”
Padalecki grinned. “Wasn’t wearing any.”
Jensen kicked his pants aside and tipped him back on the bed. He leaned over him, bending his head to tongue a line down Padalecki’s sternum towards his navel. Padalecki was tanned smoothly everywhere and Jensen didn’t even want to think about how that came about.
“Don’t fuck around with foreplay,” Padalecki growled, rubbing the smooth inside of his thigh against Jensen’s side.
Jensen shot him a quick glare and then clutched his hips, dragging him down the bed, thighs spreading to accommodate Jensen. He grabbed his wrists, pressed them back to the bed, and said, “For once you’re going to shut up.”
He dropped his mouth to Padalecki’s distended nipples, favoring them with light brushing kisses, until Padalecki’s hips were involuntarily grinding against his. He was silent, only harsh breaths escaped his lips. He rocked his hips again and Jensen’s dick slipped between his folds, running over his clit. They both groaned, and Padalecki’s legs tightened around his thighs.
Jensen let go of Padalecki’s hands, but Padalecki kept them up there, rosy-tipped breasts pressed up by the arch in his spine. At the first purposeful lick between his folds, Padalecki jerked.
“You’re actually—good at this,” he said, strained, thighs trembling as Jensen swirled his tongue back and forth, just pressing into his slit. “I mean—n-no offense, you’re just such a celibate.”
Jensen reached up and flicked one nipple, just hard enough to sting. Padalecki’s laughter washed over him and he felt himself harden further. Sweet infinity, how could he feel like this? He reveled in the taste of her yielding until the taste of his own mouth was all there was. He wanted to lose himself in Padalecki until his bones melted. He reached down, gripping one delicate ankle. He thumbed around the bone and then tugged Padalecki’s foot flat on the comforter, spreading him wider.
Padalecki exhaled and said, “N—not a—mm—bad trick.”
Jensen smiled, sucked Padalecki’s clit into his mouth, tilted his hips up with palms under ass. He came apart effortlessly after that. Padalecki warned him, probably out of habit. His hands flew up to grip the headboard and then he simply sighed, muscles clenching and then slowly relaxing.
“I want to fuck you,” he said, eyelashes fluttering as sex flush slowly dissipated over his skin. “That’s all I want.”
Jensen dropped his head, gripping his dick so that he wouldn’t come right then. When he finally slid inside her, thighs rucked up around his waist, the three black bands tattooed around his forearm seemed to clamp down and tighten. His breath caught in his throat and he had to close his eyes to Padalecki’s guileless face.
When he woke the first time, he found Padalecki asleep in his bed, naked to the waist. He stared at the long slope of his spine and the bony jut of shoulder. He couldn’t quite believe what they had done. He stared at him and thought of how delicate he looked. It was disturbing. The clock read eight AM and they didn’t have anywhere to be.
“If you’re brooding, I’m the one who has to worry about being gay,” Padalecki said, turning over to face him.
Jensen paused and then said, “Are you?”
Padalecki fell flat against the pillow, staring at the ceiling. “No, I don’t think so—but I think maybe girls are more flexible.”
Jensen propped himself up on his elbow. He offered a tentative “Yeah?”
Padalecki shrugged, hand pulling through his hair in a now familiar gesture of contemplation. “I mean, when I was getting changed with Julia and her friends, I was all over that.” Jensen grunted and Padalecki’s mouth fought desperately against a smile. “But then, I look at you, and I’m interested. And let me tell you, I was totally apathetic before.”
Jensen raised his eyebrows, Padalecki smiled and leaned over him, propping his chin on his sternum. “I certainly never noticed that your eyes are really green. Hell, maybe I’m still totally attracted to women.” He brushed a finger over the swell of Jensen’s lower lip.
“Oh shut up, I’m going back to sleep.” Jensen rolled out from under him and presented him with his back. He sort of thought Padalecki would get up and leave, but the mattress didn’t shift behind him. And when he woke the second time, he found his arm thrown over Padalecki’s slim waist, chin tucked into the curve of her shoulder. He scrambled back, dragging the covers with him.
Padalecki groaned and covered his eyes with his arm. “What time is it?” Jensen’s stomach growled and the clock read 12:30. Padalecki stretched his arms above his head, breasts exposed and unconcerned. “I haven’t slept this late since I lived Cyprian side.”
He hopped out of bed, naked, and went to the bathroom. He came out with Jensen’s tooth brush in his mouth and a cup of water in one hand. Jensen wasn’t even surprised.
“Your room is such a prison cell, you know?” he said, pulling the tooth brush out of his mouth.
Jensen shrugged, lazing under the covers. For the first time in months, he felt relaxed, clear headed. His bones felt gelatinous, muscles like water. He thought that if he wanted to, he might be able to sleep the entire day. Padalecki went back into the bathroom to spit out his mouthful of toothpaste. Jensen didn’t hear any noise after the sound of the tap, and it made him nervous. He opened his eyes to find Padalecki holding his Bulla, the chain still draped carelessly over the shelf.
Jensen froze. He wanted to shout at him to put it down, but Padalecki turned to him, eyes so wide under his dark lashes that he couldn’t bring himself to say anything. Padalecki walked to the bed, Bullain his palm and turned the medal over, displaying the name etched into the back. Ash was still embedded in the carved lines, no polishing or scraping had ever drawn it out. “Jensen Ackles Aed Vangelis.” He looked at Jensen, lips parted. “Aed Vangelis. You’re a fire breather.”
Jensen squeezed his eyes shut tight. There came a touch on his right arm right over the ink that banded it. “That’s why you wear the binds,” Padalecki said softly. “I always wondered.”
It roared up in his blood then, flames pushing at the spell that held his pyrokinesis dormant. He had to forcibly tamp the urge down. Jensen turned his face away, muscle in his jaw ticking. “That’s all you have to say? Nothing about how my kind is inevitably going to fall and burn up the world?”
He felt the now familiar smack of Padalecki’s palm on his shoulder. “Stop that, idiot.” Padalecki glared, the effect somewhat ruined by his nakedness and the long legs that Jensen couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off of. “I just, suddenly I understand so much about you. You’re such a cylon because you have always stayed Firmament side. Although, seriously, don’t you have internet?”
“Yes, I have internet.”
“You must be surfing the weather channel then, buddy.”
Jensen wondered if Padalecki noticed that he traced continuously over the line of the binds with his thumb.
They went out to pizza for lunch. An artsy little place with an outdoor section. Jensen was afraid his fair skin would burn, but Padalecki demanded a seat outside. He generously gave Jensen the seat in the shade and sat soaking up all the sun as they waited for their server to get to them.
“I think that when God created men, he instilled in them the ability to create pizza,” he said, tugging at the sleeves of his shirt. He wore his own too baggy clothes again, but he’d found a hair tie.
“You’re more heretical than I am,” Jensen said, swirling his straw in his Coke.
Padalecki cleared his throat and asked, “Why’d you join the Corps?”
Jensen started and stopped, caught out. There were times where he wasn’t sure why he’d so desperately devoted his life to it and others where he knew with absolute simplicity that this was the only thing he wanted to do, that he could do.
“My father took me to see one of the Triumphs when I was about six or seven, my mother was already gone by then, so it was just the two of us, and everybody was laughing and cheering, watching this great parade go by.” He took a long swallow of his iced tea. “And there was this little boy, a halfie or a fourthie toddler I guess, who was kicking up such a fuss. His mother let him go for one instant and he ran out into the parade, right into the ranks of horses and infantry marching incessantly by. It was like time froze, we were all so sure he was going to get trampled, but nobody seemed to be able to move to do something.”
Padalecki stared at him, fingers laced in front of him. Jensen heaved in a breath. “And this woman on horse, she broke rank and scooped him up right before a big charger pounded the poor little guy right into the earth, and I thought—I thought I wanted to be like that, able to move when nobody else could.”
Silence caught the air between them—neither of them quite sure what to say.
Finally Padalecki said, “That’s way better than my reasons, with my mother, I simply always knew I was going to. That was my purpose in the world.” Their pizza arrived and Padalecki said, “And now, on to happy things.”
Two weeks went quickly by. Padalecki made him listen to the Rolling Stones and explore the streets Cyprian side while Jensen attempted to give him lessons in being quiet. They avoided the practice courts and the weight room and Jensen tried desperately not to feel guilty. Mostly they stayed in Jensen’s bed, all in pursuit of knowledge for Padalecki’s quest to give better orgasms to women.
“Why don’t you just admit you’re a complete hedonist?” Jensen said, watching Padalecki move naked around the room. Sometimes Jensen could almost convince himself that Padalecki was a woman, but now, watching him stalk about shoulders squared and hips set forward, it was impossible to see anything else but the man behind the female shell.
“They’d probably send me to counseling or something,” he said. “Where’s my shirt? I want to get a bottle of water.”
Jensen made a non-committal noise. Padalecki finally picked up one of Jensen’s and ran out into the hall in only the boxers he insisted on wearing on the bottom. He came back fifteen minutes later and dove into the bed. Jensen laughed. He realized he hadn’t laughed so much ever since the night his home went up in smoke. It should’ve been a sobering thought, but it only made him want to laugh more.
“Have you ever been to Rome?” Padalecki asked. He swiftly climbed a tree, pants pulling tight over the long thighs that Jensen was getting too used to feeling wrapped about his hips. Jensen bit his lip and sat unceremoniously between two gnarled roots.
“How would I have gone to Rome?” he said, staring over the lake and imagining the broken rim of the Coliseum pushing up into the sky.
Padalecki paused. “Right, sorry.” His voice came from far away, and when Jensen looked up he could see only shoes dangling down over a branch. “Someday, you should go.”
“No, I’m serious,” Padalecki replied. “I went with my brother just before our final year at the academy.” He didn’t specify which one. Jensen almost wondered if he was familiar with all the children Tsaphiel had imparted life. A branch above bounced and showered Jensen with leaves. “Pay attention, I walked along those streets and I don’t know what it is, but it’s like they can see us better.”
“They can always see us.”
“Don’t be an idiot,” Padalecki laughed. “No, it felt like a tiny bit they could see what we were. Less sight blind.”
“There’s much Roman blood in our veins, of course it would call kinship to the city.”
Padalecki swung down out of the tree, landing like a cat in front of Jensen. He leaned in and kissed Jensen. “You are such a ruiner.”
“What?” He pushed Padalecki’s hair back behind his ear, before he smacked his hand away.
“You take the magic out of everything,” Padalecki said it affectionately. He closed his eyes and when he opened them, they flared silver. When Jensen blinked they were back to hazel.
He looked away and saw Tarquin jogging down the path. He had a heart rate monitor strapped to his chest and an mp3 player hooked around one bicep. One of the ear buds fell out, and he stuck it back in, frustrated. He barely even saw Jensen and Padalecki sitting under the shade of the tree, just a polite nod of acknowledgement that etiquette demanded.
“How come he hasn’t noticed you?” Jensen asked.
“Tarquin?” Padalecki said, propping his chin on Jensen’s knee. It always surprised him how affectionate Padalecki was, but he remembered even as man, Padalecki had always seemed to touch too much—patting people on the back, ruffling hair, hugging. “If I spent time with him he’d notice. He’s always making fun of the way I talk.”
“Not that! How come he hasn’t noticed you—er man-you is missing?” Jensen said. “He’s your best friend.”
“What?” Padalecki said. “You don’t think I’m idiot, do you? The first thing I did was request leave to visit my father.” He snorted. “You should be glad I did, because if I disappeared he’d be investigating you for murder.”
“ Why me!” Jensen covered up his flinch with mock outrage. His father. He wished he had that option.
“You’ve tried to kill me at least twice! It’s not like it’s beyond the realm of imagining.”
“Oh, shut up.”
They went to the dining hall early every night, before Hiver and Derry and Julia could join them. It was a godsend on the day that Lavinia showed up, sliding into a chair next to Padalecki like she’d been there all along.
Jensen jerked and before he could get so much as a hello out she said, “We finally have intel on what happened at West Garfield Park.”
Padalecki set his fork down, expression impassive. He glanced at Jensen and said, “Yeah?”
Lavinia kept her gaze on Jensen as she said, “One of the families had adopted a fire-breather boy of significant skill. He called the demons to him.”
Under the weight of Padalecki’s gaze, Jensen said slowly, “How do you know that?”
She pressed her palm over Jensen’s. “I just wanted you to know that nobody questions your involvement.”
Jensen sat back in his chair, meal forgotten. Lavinia nodded once at Padalecki and then got up, leaving the dining hall as quickly as she came. Jensen stood up, chair sliding back with a hollow skid. He didn’t bother to dispose of his meal, he just left. Padalecki didn’t follow.
He squeezed multiple rounds off at the range, imagining his long-unused ability to wreath himself in flame. Fire used to bring so much peace, now he couldn’t even own a lighter for fear someone would talk. His shots were erratically clustered around the target, a sign of his anger. He couldn’t seem to hit the center, and the harder he tried, the wider the bullets tore through the paper.
He felt Padalecki enter the room and didn’t turn around. If he had something to say, he would. He wanted to run to the seraphic high council and demand answers. Infinity, it was like racial profiling, statistical fucking discrimination.
Padalecki waited behind him. With every moment he didn’t say anything Jensen’s rage escalated. He used up the clip and slammed the gun down. “What do you want?” he said, flexing his forearm under the binds. The thick black bands of ink shifted with his muscles and he sneered.
“I don’t want anything,” Padalecki said gently. It exasperated Jensen more than anything.
Jensen loaded another clip into his gun with a methodical click. “This is the time to leave me alone.”
“You’ve been retreating for years,” Padalecki pointed out, he sat down on a bench, elbows to knees. The front of his shirt gaped. Jensen could’ve looked down it if he wanted. He didn’t.
“And beating you up,” he said, and turned back to the range.
Padalecki got up. He said, voice full of derision, “Is that what you want? To fight?”
Jensen remained silent, staring at the pockmarked bull’s-eye down the range. He was just pulling the trigger when Padalecki tugged his arm, whirling him around. The bullet went through Padalecki’s side, just below his ribs. The bang seemed cacophonously loud. Padalecki gasped high in his throat, and he dropped his hand from Jensen’s arms.
“Jesus,” Jensen blasphemed, dashing forward as Padalecki, leaned back against the wall. Padalecki pulled bloody hands away from his wound and it had already healed. “Why would you do that? Why?”
Padalecki stared at him evenly.
“And you wonder why you annoy me so much?” He turned back to the gun and swiftly dechambered the magazine. “You’re fucking reckless. You take big chances on things that matter too much! What happens if you don’t heal one day? What if the enemy lays out dampeners, your abilities won’t work and you’ll die. Not to mention you might cost the entire contubernium.”
Padalecki wiped his bloody palms on his ruined shirt.
“And you keep trying to understand me!” Jensen said, pushing out of the booth. “Like I’m some kind of psych patient.”
“Because you’re fucked up, Jensen!” Padalecki shouted back. “You’re fucked up.”
Jensen kicked over the bench, and it flew into the opposite wall so hard the wood splintered. “My father burned himself down in our house so that the Powers would not take me after he made a mistake!”
If it weren’t for the binds, he could burn the world to cinders right now, and he wouldn’t blink. Not because it was his nature, but because they’d made him that way, he hoped they knew that.
“I have given up everything to be in the Corps,” he hissed. “My fire, Cyprian side…and what does it get me? ‘Nobody questions your involvement.’” He paused for one moment, almost overcome. “So you tell me how to be normal, Mr. Perfect, since you seem to have it all figured it out.”
Padalecki didn’t flinch. Jensen didn’t see how he could be so implacable. But maybe when every part of you that broke, you could make new, nothing had the power to change you anymore.
“You haven’t given up the anger,” Padalecki said.
Jensen smacked him hard across the face, watching his handprint bloom and fade across Padalecki’s turned cheek. “Don’t preach.”
Padalecki’s jaw worked, like he was meditating something. Then, so quick Jensen barely saw him move, he struck back, catching Jensen unsuspecting, right under the eye, and as his face exploded in pain Padalecki reached up and kissed him. Jensen gasped, swaying toward the wall, trapping Padalecki with his body.
“It isn’t working, Jensen,” Padalecki said as Jensen hitched him up against the wall. He wrapped his arms around Jensen’s shoulders and bit at his lips. Jensen thunked Padalecki’s head back against the wall and shoved the ragged and bloody shirt up over his breasts. He thrusts their groins together hard, pushing an oomph out of Padalecki.
Later, as he tried to sink into sleep, he couldn’t be sure how he had got their jeans open, how he had took Padalecki against the wall, and again outside by the lake, with Padalecki rolling on top, scratching down his chest, and cursing. Padalecki had rocked on top of him and there was little doubt in Jensen’s mind that he was the one being fucked.
He told Padalecki, with his head thrown back, how his father had gotten involved in the conflict in Chechnya, believing that God would understand when he massacred a Russian company to save lives. But God had not understood. Meddling in human affairs was anathema and the powers had come for Campbell Brodie Ackles. He had told Padalecki this, and Padalecki had told him to shut up, to let it go, had kissed him quiet. But he stayed enigmatically silent when Jensen asked how the ink of the wings could stay in his skin when he regenerated.
Jensen didn’t really need an answer. He had never thought, in a thousand years that he might well live, that he would tell that story. To a person who admittedly did not understand. And yet, he had done so, for two weeks, he had told his story. Maybe only Padalecki could know, maybe he could only hear it, because he’d seen Jensen at rock bottom. He sighed, traced lines down Padalecki’s long spine, and waited for exhaustion to finally flood him into sleep.
The next morning when he woke up, he found himself facing the broad-back of a man. “What the—” he started, practically falling out of the bed in his effort to get a way. He knew it couldn’t last.
He woke Padalecki who asked, “What?” and then bolted up straight in bed at the sound of his own voice. He looked down at his flat chest and palms. Jensen turned away when Padalecki reached under the covers and cupped himself. He sighed in relief when he found what he was looking for, but all Jensen could think about was his plunging stomach.
“I’m back!” Padalecki said, scrambling out of the bed. Jensen kept his head carefully turned away, waiting for him to pull on pants. “This is cause for celebration.”
He glanced at Jensen, who had wrapped the sheets tight around his waist, and drew up short. “Oh, fuck.” He fished his pants out from under the bed and clambered into them. He tried to say something several times. Jensen couldn’t even bring himself to look at him. Padalecki’s hair fell just over his brow, his jaw had hardened. Hard to believe the masculine features had so easily yielded to feminine ones. He felt sick. Padalecki shoulders and hands were broader than Jensen’s now.
“I should—I should go,” Padalecki said. He gathered the rest of his stuff up into his arms and inhaled deeply, before nodding. “Yeah, I should definitely go.”
“Jared, I—” he stopped. It was the first time he’d ever used Padalecki’s praenomen. Padalecki’s eyes were intent upon him and Jensen felt naked despite the sheet wrapped around him. Padalecki’s mouth did a funny curving thing like he was trying desperately to smile, but then it flattened out, expressionless.
When Padalecki walked past he still smelled the same and the whispery heat that had inhabited his belly for the past few days rose up in him again. He coughed and nodded a quick goodbye. And then Padalecki was gone, the door clicking shut softly behind him. Jensen swallowed. He looked around the room dispassionately.
Now that Padalecki was gone there was no reason his quarters should be such a mess.
They resumed active duty rotation after that, going out and engaging the enemy. They didn’t fight anymore. They didn’t speak. They didn’t look at each other. But they worked well. Captain Lewis watched them very closely.
Jensen stopped moping around his rooms. Hiver frequently had to fetch him out of the library.
He sat amid the dust and books, the ascetic portraits and the relics of the grand past, when things were easier, when humans weren’t so much collateral damage. One evening Hiver found him on the floor, staring at the faded remains of the ceiling mural.
“Seriously?” Hiver said, hunching down cross-legged next to him. “Have you gone insane? Did Jared dump you?”
“I was just thinking, I could restore that,” Jensen said, running his eyes along browning finials and smeared perspective.
Hiver’s eyes darted around the room before settling back on Jensen. “Can you actually draw?”
“Yes, I can draw!”
“I don’t know! It’s not like I’ve ever seen you.” Hiver crossed his arms.
Jensen folded his arms under his head. “Well I can.”
“Next you’re going to start designing Tiffany windows,” Hiver said, shoving at him with his foot.
“Just checking that you weren’t possessed or anything.” Hiver laughed.
Jensen rolled his eyes, said a dry “Thank you.”
Hiver paused. “Hey, do you wanna go see a movie?”
“Over the margin?” Jensen asked. Hiver nodded. Jensen turned his head to the wall, thinking. His ash-marked Bulla sat on a shelf in his room, a constant reminder. “Fuck it, why not?”
Hiver punched him in the shoulder. “You failed the test! You’re totally possessed.” But he got up and offered his hand to Jensen. “How do you feel about comedies?” he said as they headed for the door.
“I feel pretty good.”
One night the alarms went off and the base went into motion like a dormant machine firing up. Everybody frantically shrugged their uniforms and body armor on to get out there, fixing their knots to mark their formation with adrenaline-shaking hands. “Commanipulares” echoed through the emptying halls as steady as the bells of a clock tower.
Jensen arrived late, dashing in from the lake. Hiver was already gone. He noticed Padalecki stripping off the t-shirt he’d stolen from Jensen. It had hung awkwardly on his frame then, but it stretched tight across his shoulders now. He couldn’t believe he’d kept it. Jensen hadn’t even noticed it missing.
Padalecki sensed his gaze and he looked up. Their eyes met across the controlled melee of the locker room. The sirens were still blaring, lights flashing, and Padalecki smiled and tossed him a pair of sunglasses. Jensen caught them and watched him hoist his gear up and walk out to the transport, joining the growing ranks of black-clothed soldiers with a straight spine. He thought, be safe.
I can’t do it without you.
I never have.
The sun hung low in the sky. Lucius Suetonius, Commander of the Chicago Base and an excellent swing at a golf tee, puttered about in his office, reorganizing stacks of paper and trying to clean up for the day. He was too tired to sit here and review paperwork. Some days riding a desk was more tiring than being out in the field waiting for the base alarms to ring and send them all out at all hours of the night. He kicked the cup he’d been using for putting practice and sat down in his old leather executive chair in a huff. He eyed his bottle of brandy and decided to pour himself a little tipple before he left.
“A bit early for that, don’t you think?” a voice said from the shadows in the corner of the room where his coat rack stood.
He dropped his brandy glass, and it shattered on the floor, fine alcohol seeping into his shoes rather than his gullet. “Ugh,” he said, digging in his pockets for a handkerchief.
The voice said, “I’m sure you’ve heard that Padalecki and Aed Vangelis have started getting along.”
“By all accounts, I can stop figuring the damage they do into the budget,” he said grumpily, giving up on the mess on the floor and looking for another glass to pour his brandy into. He looked at the shadows around his coat rack. “Are you going to hide back there the entire time?”
A man in a lavender pinstriped-suit stepped in the light, youthful face looking impossibly old and sharp at the same time. He smiled at Suetonius.
“Metatron,” Suetonius said, “I should’ve known he’d be behind this. What a grand plan it was to turn Padalecki into a woman, now I’ll just have to deal with his therapy bills, won’t I?”
“We had not figured upon them sleeping together, just thought maybe they’d get along better.”
Suetonius took a long gulp of his newly poured glass of brandy and glared. “Liar,” he growled. “God created all things so that they might exist, huh?”
The Metatron laughed. “Our motives were as pure as the driven snow.”
Suetonius drained his glass and said, “Yeah, after a tractor has driven through it a few times.”
For a story this large, it kind of goes without saying that there are some acknowledgements. The biggest one goes to people who will never read this, and that's my Fiction Seminar. Because they put up with this when it was half formed and almost half the word length. I didn't take any of their suggestions, but it did give me food for thought.
Because I thought submitting RPS to my class, might be a bit much, I saddled Jensen with the name Torin Brodie Gall. Jared was Tristan Valerius. TORIN AND TRISTAN. C'MON, it's genius.
Also, in reference to Chad's surname, the Tarquinnii were an infamous family during the Roman Regal period. Tarquinius Superbus was the worst and last king of the regal period, and it is his son, Sextus Tarquinius, who raped Lucretia, and set the revolt in motion that brought about the Roman Republic. I love Chad, but he deserved an infamous name, and I was hardly going to call him Strabo or Catiline.