Fandom: CW RPS
Pairing: Jared/Jensen (mostly preslash)
Word count: 9650
A/N: Written for the 2013 round of spn_reversebang. Apologies to the mods for the late posting. A snowstorm knocked out my Internet (again! What the hell, winter?). Kudos to angstpuppy for giving me this inspiring image to work with! Also available on AO3.
Summary: Jensen's not sure what he did to deserve getting magically bungee-corded to the most inept witch he's ever met, but he's more than willing to start apologizing if it'll get Jared off his back. Pretty literally, in fact.
Jensen had just run into a wall.
He wasn't happy about it.
Of course, 'run' was something of an operative term, since it implied that Jensen had been at least partially responsible for said wall running. And, the last time he checked, getting jerked sideways out of a chair by some invisible force, skidding across the kitchen floor and slamming into the nearest wall was not something that ought to fall under the category of All Jensen's Fault.
"What the fuck," Jensen demanded of the empty air, because some things absolutely deserved to be said aloud. He made an exploratory effort to push himself away from the wall, but couldn't get his hands more than a inch away before they thudded back, pinned as firmly as he would have been if someone had been holding them there.
Jensen strained, trying to convince his body that it really didn't want to spend the rest of the day attached to the wall. The invisible weight holding him in place gave grudgingly when he threw all of his weight against it, but Jensen only managed a few seconds before sagging back into its hold, breath coming slightly heavier due to the strain.
Seriously. What the fuck.
Jensen hung there for a few long minutes, wondering whom he was supposed to call when dealing with abrupt shifts in the Earth's gravitational field. He probably would have been stuck considering it for a long time if his phone hadn't chosen that precise moment to start ringing.
His phone which was on the table. In the middle of the room. Wonderful.
Jensen stared for a long moment, not sure whether it was even worth the effort to sigh. His ringtone cut off as the answering machine kicked in, but the silence only lasted for a few moments before the ringing started up again.
Right. Definitely worth the effort to sigh.
Firming his jaw, Jensen pressed both palms flat against the wall and pushed off, hard. His body peeled away inch by laborious inch while his phone rang merrily. Whoever was calling had better as hell have something to do with whatever was happening or God help him but Jensen was going to do something violent.
Eventually, Jensen managed to push himself into an awkward sort of seated position against the wall and flailed out with both arms until his hands hooked onto the handle of the refrigerator door. He hauled for all he was worth, dragging himself commando-style across the floor and feeling unaccountably grateful that the fridge door swung open to the other side.
It got easier after Jensen got close enough to the fridge to brace himself and make a grab for the kitchen counter. From there, Jensen pulled himself hand over hand along the length of the counter, reached out and hooked one arm and both legs around the closest table leg.
He grabbed his phone off the table and snapped it up to his ear. "What?" he growled, pissed off and breathing hard.
"Jensen?" a naggingly familiar voice on the other end of the phone said. "Oh, thank God, you're okay. I didn't know how else to- I wasn't sure… but I should have known that you'd figure it ou-"
"Who is this?" Jensen demanded, slicing straight through the wall of babbling coming at him.
There was a moment of silence. "Jared," the voice said finally, sounding strangely dejected. "Jared Padalecki."
An image of broad shoulders and a broad beaming grin flashed through Jensen's head. "From work?" he asked. "How did you get this number?"
"I kind of had Misha find it for me," Jared said, as though Jensen knew who the fuck Misha was. "I really hadn't meant to use it though, honest. But then this happened and I didn't want you to worry because I'll have everything figured out as soon as…"
"Okay, that's enough." Jensen went to pinch the bridge of his nose, only to realize a second too late that taking his hand away from the desk was a really bad idea.
Jensen swore as his socked feet skidded across the floor and he slammed back into the wall with a brain-jarring smack. He kept his hold on the phone by dint of sheer luck alone.
On the other end of the line, Jared sounded like he was well on his way to a panic attack. "Jensen? Jensen! Are you okay?"
"Look. Do you know what's wrong with me?" Jensen asked, once his teeth had stopped rattling. "Because if you don't, I'm going to hang up on you so I can call the fire department to remove me from my kitchen wall."
"No, it's- I know what happened, yeah."
Jensen rolled his eyes when nothing more was forthcoming. "Well? Feel like sharing with the class?"
"Not on the phone. I'm coming over," Jared said abruptly. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
The dial tone was ringing in Jensen's ear before he'd even realized that Jared was going to hang up. He pulled his phone away and stared at it blankly for a moment, as though that would offer some insight into what in God's name was going on with his life.
"What the fuck," he said again, just because he could. It actually made him feel a little better, which was nice.
Then he settled as comfortably as he could against the wall and started waiting for Jared to show up.
Call Jensen stupid, but he'd sort of expected 'I'll be there as soon as I can' to measure in minutes rather than hours.
He hated today so much.
Jensen rolled his head heavily to the side to check the clock and couldn't even be bothered to swear at the fact that he'd been sitting there for three full hours. He'd given up on standing ages ago and was now slumped on the floor with his back still plastered to the wall and one leg cocked at the knee. He felt like he was back in one of those stupid photo shoots from his unfortunate teenage foray into modeling.
There hadn't been as much as a whisper from Jared since the guy had hung up on him. It had taken Jensen a good half hour of waiting to realize that Jared hadn't asked for his address. All of Jensen's attempts to redial the number that Jared had called him on went straight to voicemail.
Seriously, as soon as Jared arrived, Jensen was going to figure out a way to stand upright without propping himself up on his forearms and then he was going to strangle the man with his bare hands.
Heaving a massive sigh, Jensen slouched down lower, legs splaying further and further across the floor until he was practically lying down, only his head and shoulders still propped against the wall.
Jensen sat up with a startled jerk; the expected resistance never came and he nearly face-planted between his own legs with the force of his own momentum. Which, while a thoroughly enjoyable degree of flexibility to be able to manage during sex, wasn't particularly comfortable right at this moment. More cautiously, Jensen righted himself and rocked over until he was sitting back on his heels. He felt that same gravity-tug pulling at him, trying to drag him back to the wall, but it was no longer strong enough to leave him pinned to inanimate objects.
"Oh, thank fuck," Jensen said. He climbed awkwardly to his feet; his muscles were tight with the earlier strain and his balance was totally out of whack since Jensen found himself needing to correct for the continual drag on his body.
But it was better than nothing, and Jensen managed a couple of laps of the room before his limbs started growing tired and he threw himself down on a chair, pausing only briefly to grab some leftover Chinese out of the fridge. His stomach, which had been growling steadily for a good hour, appreciated the effort.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a heavy knock on the door and Jensen jerked, startled by the sound after so long sitting by himself in the quiet of his house. Hauling himself upright, Jensen headed towards the front door and found that 'towards the door' was an easy direction to walk in. It was beyond easy, actually. His stocking feet started skidding again and Jensen found himself nearly running down the hallway, barreling towards the door in a way that promised yet another full-body impact with an unforgiving vertical surface.
He slapped his palms against the wall on either side of the door to stop himself from hitting the door face first, and took a few heartbeats to gather himself before throwing open the door. He was somewhere between relieved and furious to find Jared standing in front of him. Between his body's helpless forward momentum and the fact that Jared was standing nearly in the doorjamb, it was by only the barest of margins that Jensen kept from colliding with his broad chest.
"Jensen," Jared said, an apology and an awkward hello wrapped together masterfully in a single word.
Jensen only had one thing to say. "What the fuck took you so long?"
Jared flushed dark. It wasn't a particularly good look on him. "Sorry," he said. "Couldn't drive. Had to take the bus."
"From where? The moon? And what do you mean you couldn't drive?"
"From San Antonio," Jared surprised him by saying. "And I there was no way I was trusting myself in a car like this."
"Like what?" Jensen asked, only belatedly realizing that Jared had his hands planted heavily against either side of the doorframe in an almost mirror image of Jensen's own pose. His whole body was inclining inwards, towards Jensen. There were heavy sweat stains on Jared's shirt and a tremble in his limbs, like he was forcing himself to stay where he was.
He looked, Jensen thought, rather like Jensen suspected he did himself.
"Right," Jensen decided, stepping back from the door and ignoring the immediate tug that tried to convince him otherwise. "You're coming in and then you're explaining what the fuck is going on."
Jared nodded hurriedly. He dropped his hands and stepped inside with an expression of open relief. A flicker of movement darted around his leg and Jensen looked down.
"You have a purple cat," he said, somewhat dumbly.
Jared looked down at the cat as though he'd forgotten it was there. "Oh, that's Misha. I couldn't leave him behind, sorry. You're not allergic, are you?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"What?" Jensen asked, distracted. "No, it's - you have a purple cat."
"Oh. Yeah, um." Jared was looking more uncomfortable with every passing moment. "That's, uh, can we talk somewhere that's not your front hallway?"
It was a fair request. "Come on," Jensen said. He braced himself for the arduous trip back up the hallway and was surprised not to feel anything more than a token resistance that mostly seemed bent on sending him tipping into Jared's shoulder than hurtling out the door. Jared trailed quietly at his side, head ducked and hands in his pockets.
Wordlessly, Jensen led the way into the den. He sat in his recliner and left the couch to Jared, who sat there fidgeting and looking even bigger than usual despite the way he was clearly trying to make himself look smaller.
"Right," Jensen said. "Start explaining."
Jared licked his lips. "Right, yeah. I-" he started, only to cut himself off when the cat jumped up on the couch and sat down like a king on a throne. "Misha," he said reprovingly.
The cat, Misha apparently, gave Jared a haughty look then hopped down to the floor where it proceeded to clean itself and ignore the both of them entirely.
Jared looked up from frowning at the cat to catch Jensen's raised eyebrow and his expression went sheepish. "Sorry about him," he said. "He's still not convinced that furniture isn't always for him."
Do I look like I care? Jensen wanted to ask, but uncharacteristically restrained himself. Getting Jared to say something useful was apparently going to be hard enough without trying to terrorize the information out of the man. "Right," he said instead, though he suspected that the sheer wall of irritation in his voice probably conveyed the rest of it.
Jared was apparently impervious to irritation. "Misha's my best friend."
"Your… cat is your best friend," Jensen said slowly. He was starting to wonder if he'd been working in the same place as a crazy person for the last three years and never noticed. They weren't friends or anything, but still. That would be kind of embarrassing.
"No, I mean that he's my best friend." Jared took a deep breath and added, "Who I accidentally turned into a cat."
Jensen's jaw dropped. "You what?!"
Misha meowed imperiously.
Jared rolled his eyes. "Fine, whom I accidentally turned into a cat. Nitpicker."
"Wait, wait." Jensen held up a hand, as though that was enough to stop all this crazy flying around. "You're a witch? The fuck are you doing working a desk job?"
The lines around Jared's mouth tightened. "Not exactly."
"What do you mean 'not exactly'? You turned your best friend into a purple cat! Who apparently corrects your grammar!"
"He corrects me about all sorts of things," Jared said, with a sigh. "And I didn't mean to turn him into a cat. He was much less irritating as a human, believe me."
Misha swiped a paw at Jared's leg. Jared appeared unbothered.
Jensen stared at him in no small amount of horror. "Right, if you don't start explaining in the next three seconds, I am calling the fucking police."
"I'm sorry," Jared said immediately. "I didn't mean for any of this to happen."
The worst part was that he actually sounded like he meant it. If Jensen were feeling charitable, he'd actually have felt kind of badly for the guy.
Unfortunately for Jared, charitable was about the last thing Jensen was feeling. "Explain."
"I'm not a witch," Jared said, staring at his hands. "I mean, I'm technically a witch because I've got powers. But I'm not a practicing witch because they're a little… erratic."
"Erratic," Jensen repeated flatly.
Jared sighed. "I can't control them." He gestured at Misha, who was watching the proceedings with feline interest. "That was a mistake. I didn't mean to turn him into a cat. It just… happened."
"How long ago did this happen?"
"Uh, it happened in college so I guess it's about-"
"Seven years, apparently," Jared said, then frowned at the cat. "Already? Wow."
That earned him another meow and a head tilt that seemed to mean something to Jared.
"I know you are," he said, and leaned down to scratch Misha behind one ear. He smiled gently.
Jensen was very sincerely wishing he'd never got up this morning. "So, are you having imaginary conversations with the purple cat who used to be your best fried or is he actually able to talk back?"
"He can talk," Jared said, apparently offended on Misha's behalf. "Non-witches just can't understand him."
"The more you know. You haven't explained why you didn't get someone to turn him back into a person."
Jared's shoulders hunched. "He, ah, can't be turned back?"
Jensen didn't like the sound of that. "So, you turned your best friend into a cat because you can't control your powers, only you're apparently so powerful that he's now stuck like that forever?"
Jared nodded meekly.
"And am I right in thinking that you're the one responsible for me sticking to the architecture earlier?"
Jared nodded again. "I'm really sorry, Jensen, I didn't mean t-"
"I got that part," Jensen interrupted. "So stop being sorry and start hoping that you haven't done something permanent or I swear to God I'm going to have you arrested for illegal spell casting."
"No, it's-" Jared bit his lip. "It's fixable, I'm pretty sure. And it's not dangerous."
Jensen gave him a flat look. "The way I spent several hours pinned to my wall suggests otherwise."
"But you're not stuck now," Jared pointed out.
Jensen eyed him warily. "And dare I ask why that is?"
"Uh, I'm pretty sure it's because… I'm here?"
"Jesus Christ, Jared, will you just get to the point already. What. Have. You. Done?"
Jared looked awkward and apologetic. "I, ah, I think I've connected us together. Or, our life forces, anyway. Not the rest of us. Probably. Um."
Jensen felt his eyes growing wider with every rambling word. "What."
"It's not bad!" Jared hurried to say. "It's just… it's like we're magnets of opposite poles. Or like we're at different ends of a rubber band, maybe. The further apart we are, the more we get drawn towards each other."
"Son of a bitch, you mean that literally, don't you?" Jensen steamrolled right over Jared's attempt to speak, volume rising in concert with his anger, "You're telling me that I've been stuck to the wall in my kitchen all damn day because my… my soul was trying to get closer to yours?"
"I think so, y-"
"What the fuck, Jared?! That's my soul you're fucking around with!"
It was just enough to give Jensen pause. "Excuse me?"
"You're not the only one who was sticking to the walls," Jared clarified, with a touch of asperity that had been noticeably lacking up until now. "I'm getting dragged towards you the same way you're getting dragged towards me. Do you know how hard it is to catch the bus when you can't stand up straight?"
The mental image of Jared lurching down the street, grabbing onto lampposts and trees to keep from falling on his face, struck Jensen as something between hilarious and pitiable. His righteous indignation faltered. "It's your fault," he said, and absolutely refused to consider the idea that it might sound a little on the petulant side.
"I know." Jared was back to fidgeting. "Anyway. I don't think it's permanent."
Jensen raised an eyebrow. "You don't think."
"I can do a little bit of scrying," Jared said. So at least he was good for something. "And it doesn't seem like I've done any lasting harm. A good witch doctor should be able to reverse it."
Which was just what Jensen wanted to hear.
"Thank fuck. We're going to the hospital," Jensen said. He stood sharply and was pleased when he didn't immediately go careering into any inconveniently placed walls. He had to brace his feet from falling into Jared's lap, but it was a controllable sort of pull. So at least there was one benefit to having Jared on his couch.
"I don't think they're going to like that," Jared said, though he was climbing to his feet regardless. Jensen wondered absently what would have happened if he'd tried to leave while Jared stayed sitting - would Jared get dragged down the hallway on his ass or would Jensen end up trapped to the garage door? "The witch doctors in Emergency are pretty busy. And we're not exactly in dire need of magic care."
Jensen snorted. "I'm magically elastic banded to my coworker I hardly know. That's emergency enough for me."
"What do you mean, no?"
The Emergency Room was crowded and noisy, and Jensen, who was already on edge, could feel his patience slipping further with every passing moment. At his side, Jared stood with his chin tucked close to his chest and his hands twisting nervous shapes around each other.
The receptionist faced Jensen's ire calmly. "Mr. Ackles," he said. "Emergency Services are reserved for life-threatening or debilitating injuries and mishaps."
"I'm stuck to him!" Jensen flung an arm out at Jared, who contrived to look even glummer. "I was trapped against my wall for hours today because he was in San Antonio! How is that not debilitating?"
The receptionist turned her attention to Jared. "Do you live in San Antonio?"
Jared shook his head. "I was visiting my parents," he said, in a voice so quiet that Jensen could hardly believe that it had come from a man Jared's size.
"And how often does your sphere of life come into contact with Mr. Ackles'?"
"We work together."
The receptionist nodded and looked at Jensen. Jensen sincerely hoped that he was imagining the smug amusement on the man's face. Punching him probably wouldn't help their case any. "In which case, I'm afraid that your situation is not dire enough to merit Emergency Services."
"You can't refuse to see us," Jensen protested. He ignored the edge of panic creeping into his voice.
"Mr. Ackles, our witch doctors are trained specifically for emergency situations and we prioritize patients based on need in addition to arrival time. As you are not suffering from an emergency medical condition, I'm afraid that the hospital has no obligation to attend to you while there are other patients in need. I suggest that you seek the help of a private clinic. I can give you the name of a witch doctor who you can make an appointment with, if you need."
"That's-" Jensen started.
"Thank you," Jared said suddenly, leaning in close and nudging Jensen ever-so-subtly away from the desk. "We've already got a specialist we can consult." He smiled - a charming flash of white teeth and dimples. "I'm really sorry that we bothered you."
"Not at all," the receptionist said, with what Jensen had to figure was patent insincerity. Jensen hadn't exactly been a prime example of a tolerant patient. "Goodbye."
"Bye," Jared parroted, and then struck out for the door. Which left Jensen with no real option but to follow him; it would be a waste of time sitting here on his own and, either way, he had no desire to get yanked across room as soon as Jared got out of whatever range this spell had.
"We have a specialist, do we?" Jensen asked, as they climbed into his car. Jared's knees were touching the dashboard but he didn't ask if he could move the chair and Jensen didn't offer. Jared would just have to deal with the fact that Jensen was a jackass when he was pissed. "Couldn't have told me that before."
"He probably won't be able to see us right away," Jared said. His tone seemed a little off, but Jensen didn't really know him well enough to say for sure. "And if you wanted to get it fixed as soon as possible, this seemed like it might have been faster."
"If I?" Jensen twisted around in the middle of buckling his seatbelt to give Jared a narrow look. "And what about you?"
Jared shrugged. "I did say that I didn't think they'd see us at Emergency," he said.
Something about the way he said it made Jensen think that it wasn't really an answer.
Not that Jensen really cared right now. He turned on the car with a vicious turn of the key and pulled out of his parking spot. "Well, first thing we do back at my house is you're calling this witch doctor of yours."
Jared had asked if he could leave Misha in Jensen's house while they were gone - he promises to behave, honest - and Jensen came home to find the cat curled up in a little ball of purple fur at the foot of his bed.
Jensen turned towards Jared, who was on the landing behind him. "Your cat is in my bed," Jensen said.
Jared looked a little abashed. "Told you he had a thing with furniture. Misha," he said.
Misha cracked open one eye. He looked like he wouldn't have bothered to move even if the room caught fire.
"Are you being a deliberately bad houseguest?" Jared stepped forward and scooped Misha smoothly off the bed, ignoring the put out trilling sound that Misha made. "Sorry about him," Jared said to Jensen. His hands looked massive cradling the cat's small body.
"Less apologizing, more calling your 'specialist' friend."
"Right, sorry. You mind if I use your phone? I left my charger at home by mistake and my cell died on the way over."
"Yeah, fine, go ahead. It's in the kitchen."
Jared nodded and shuffled down the stairs, Misha in tow. Jensen felt the now-familiar tug around his sternum as Jared reached the first floor, but it thankfully wasn't strong enough to send Jensen tumbling down the stairs after him.
A beat passed, then two, and then Jensen heard the sound of Jared's voice drifting up from the kitchen.
"Hi, Jeff? It's Jared, how are you? Yeah, long time. They're all good, thanks. How's Sam?"
Jensen rolled his eyes. Of course Jared couldn't just get to the point. Not interested in hearing how Jeff's wife was doing or whether the neighbourhood kids had learned not to touch Jared's mama's garden, Jensen slumped down on the bed with a huge sigh.
Fuck his life, seriously.
By the time Jared finally got off the damn phone, Jensen was splayed dramatically across the bed, arms and legs flung to the corners in an ecstasy of despondence. The stairs creaked as Jared approached and Jensen sat up on his elbows to watch him walk in. Jared's shoulders were hunched in that same ridiculous attempt to make himself look smaller.
Jensen was immediately suspicious. "Well?"
"He can see us the Tuesday after next," Jared told him.
Jensen gave him a flat look and pushed himself into a seated position. "That's over a week away."
"Hey," Jared said, sounding a little irritated. "Do you know how long it usually takes to get an appointment with a witch doctor of Jeff's caliber? Six months, at least. The fact that he's able to squeeze us in is a small miracle."
"Okay, okay, sorry," Jensen said, holding up his hands in surrender. "Thanks for getting us in so fast then, I guess. He's good, this Jeff guy?"
Jared nodded. "Oh, yeah. He's ranked as the best in the state. Fifth best in the country."
"Wow. Well alright then." Jensen ran a hand through his hair. "We've just got to survive without killing each other until then. Any chance you live near enough to go home?"
"I'm in the downtown," Jared said, and there went the apologetic puppy eyes again. Christ.
"Awesome." Jensen sighed heavily. "Guess you're staying here, then."
A strident meow came from the vicinity of Jared's feet.
Jensen looked down at Misha. "Both of you."
Misha looked satisfied.
Which was how Jensen ended up with two unwanted houseguests.
The first thing they did was to go round to Jared's dinky apartment to pick up enough clothes and stuff for a week and then to the drugstore to replace the toiletries that he'd left at his parents house in his rush to get to Jensen. Then Jensen went about finding somewhere to house his interlopers for the next week.
Jensen's spare room was mostly a storage dump with a closet in it so Jared's clothes got to stay there while the man himself got relegated to the couch. Jared was far too long for it, but Jensen figured that this was his fault in the first place so he could deal with it. Misha decided that he got free reign of the entire house; Jensen put an immediate kibosh on that by shutting pretty much every door in the house.
Misha was entirely put out. Jensen couldn't have cared less.
Once they'd got Jared as settled as he was going to get, Jensen left him in the living room while he went back to the work he'd been doing before Jared's botched magic spell had attacked him. The close proximity of the living room and the kitchen meant that Jensen could work without sliding out of his chair, which was really all he could ask for right now. Jared was suspiciously silent, and Jensen wondered if the guy was sitting on the couch being afraid to touch anything or move too far.
A couple of hours passed. Eyebrow-deep in an accounts receivable statement that just would not reconcile, Jensen found his attention drawn away by a quiet cough. Irritated, he glanced up to find Jared lingering in the doorway, like some big, stupidly hopeful puppy.
"Um," Jared said. "Do you mind if I cook something for dinner?"
Jensen waved a hand. "Go ahead. Make some for me while you're at it, could you?"
"Dude, of course. I'm not going to sit in your house, eating your food and not share. What sort of food do you-" Jared opened the fridge, "-oh my god, please tell me your fridge doesn't usually look like this."
"Like what? There's nothing wrong with my fridge."
"It's practically empty!" Jared ducked in further. "Condiments aren't really useful without stuff to put them on. And I think you've got mayonnaise in here that's left over from the Cold War. We're going shopping tomorrow. I can't let you live like this."
"Oh, you can't, can you?" Jensen put down his pen and propped his chin up in his hand. "And why's that?"
Shockingly, Jared's ears went pink, his expression shy, and Jensen felt his heart sink. God save him from people with crushes. He really needed to start wearing a bag over his head or something.
Jared rallied after a brief moment. "Because I don't feel like lugging you to the hospital due to malnutrition. And I'm not spending a whole week living on Hot Pockets and frozen dinners."
"Hot Pockets are a gift from God," Jensen intoned seriously, just to watch Jared's lips twitch with a stifled smile.
"Shopping," Jared repeated. "I'll pay for everything. Just, no more of this shit while I'm here. I'll make sure you're fed."
"So, you're telling me that you know how to cook?" Jensen said.
Jared's answering grin was unexpectedly impudent. "You're about to find out."
Jared did, in fact, know how to cook. Like, really cook. Somehow, from the carcass of Jensen's pantry, Jared rustled up the ingredients for spaghetti and spicy meatballs and Jensen watched out of the corner of his eye as Jared chopped and diced and fried his way to a real, plated meal the likes of which Jensen hadn't had since the last time he was visiting his parents.
"This is really good," Jensen said, once he'd demolished two servings and manfully resisted the urge to lick his plate clean.
Jared lit up like a Christmas tree. "Thanks. I'm glad you like it."
For the second time in as many hours, Jensen wondered how he'd never noticed that Jared had a crush on him the size of a small country. Caught by this uncomfortable revelation, Jensen let the silence go on too long and watched as Jared's smile curdled slightly at the edges.
Jensen coughed. "Right. Thanks for dinner." He stood, taking his plate and glass with him. "I'm gonna put on the dishwasher. You go do… whatever."
"Oh. Right, yeah okay. You, um, want help with the dishes?"
"M'good," Jensen said, and studiously avoided looking Jared's way until he heard the scrape of Jared's chair against the floor and the quiet tread of Jared's feet heading back to the living room.
This was clearly going to be an absolutely delightful week.
To say that the rest of the weekend was awkward was giving it way too much credit.
On Sunday morning, Jensen and Jared went to the grocery store looking like the world's most dysfunctional couple. They then spent a riveting day stuck in Jensen's house, staying in close proximity without actually doing anything together, aside from eating because Jensen was going to take advantage of that as long as possible. Jensen mostly lazed on his bed, watching television. Jared spent far too much time talking to his cat. He and Jensen managed a few stilted conversations that mostly involved Jared being almost endearingly awkward and Jensen being a slightly crabbier version of his usual self. The last thing he wanted to do was encourage Jared's crush.
Jensen didn't think he'd ever looked forward to a Monday so much in his life. He and Jared worked one floor apart but, luckily, Jared's desk was nearly directly below Jensen's which meant that Jensen was pretty much okay as long as he was sitting down. He had to lock his knees every time he stood up to keep from crumpling to the floor, but that was easier to remember after the first few times.
What was more irritating was the fact that Jared apparently spent an equal amount of time away from his desk as he did at it, whether for work or because he was constantly at other people's desks instead, Jensen didn't know. He didn't actually know what Jared's job was, exactly, but he figured that at least the majority of all that walking had to be job-related or Jared wouldn't have had a job at all. Either way, it caused a problem that went mostly like this:
Jared walking back and forth + Jensen's wheelie chair = Jensen bouncing around his cubicle like a goddamn ping pong ball.
By lunchtime, Jensen felt bruised black and blue up both arms from crashing into the walls of his cubicle and about ready to staple Jared's feet to the floor to make him stand still. He was busy wondering how many staples he'd need for that when his desk phone rang, Jared's name flashing on the display.
"Are you going out for lunch?" Jared asked when he picked up.
"I'm not eating lunch with you," Jensen said immediately, because he'd already had more than enough Jared in the last two days.
"Noted," Jared said, with a strange mix of amusement and wry acceptance. "But I was actually going to say that you shouldn't go too far or I might end up taking a header out the window." He paused and then his voice went muffled. "No, I'm not suicidal, dumbass!" he said, presumably to someone who wasn't Jensen. "Where do you even come up wi… that's when you get arrested, Chad, not when you're making a cry for help. There's no phone call limits on suicides. Sorry," Jared said, into the phone this time. "Chad's a lunatic. I know you usually eat at the bagel place around the corner, but could you see your way to settling for street meat today?"
"Oh," Jensen said, his brief moment of pique deflating as he realized that Jared's logic was hard to contest. "Yeah, okay."
"Great, thanks. Have a good lunch then."
The call disconnected before Jensen had a chance to ask why Jared knew where he liked to eat lunch.
Jensen had a vaguely satisfying hot dog for lunch, and then got back to his desk to discover that his wonderful, hard-won swivel chair had been switched out for one of the ones from the board room: no wheels but still decently comfortable even if it wasn't up to his standard caliber. Jensen suspected that he knew who the culprit was.
"Did you take my chair?" he asked, as soon as Jared picked up the phone.
He could almost hear Jared nodding. "Yeah. I figured that all of the rolling around was getting irritating."
"What did you do with it?" Jensen asked, because there were priorities when it came to working in an office.
"It's in a storage closet on the third floor. Don't worry," Jared said, before Jensen could complain about the high risk of chair theft, "I took the wheels off first and put them in your desk drawer. No one's going to touch your chair."
"Oh," Jensen said, a little bit awkwardly. "Uh, thanks."
"Don't mention it," Jared said, with a clear smile in his voice. "How was lunch?"
"Eh. Street meat doesn't exactly come highly recommended."
Jared made a thoughtful noise. "I'll make you something tomorrow," he promised.
"Okay," Jensen said, because he wasn't about to argue with that.
After that, things started to thaw between them. Jensen had to admit that he really wasn't that good at holding grudges in the first place and Jared was obviously trying not to interfere with Jensen's life any more than he absolutely had to. Jensen ultimately decided to treat it like sharing a dorm room in university: awkward but increasingly workable as they found common ground.
It started with talking over dinner - about work, then sports, then hobbies. First date material, awkward as it was to think of it that way. They never got quite as far as talking about family, but Jensen couldn't find it in his heart to lament that fact. They had enough to keep themselves occupied without opening that particular can of worms.
Jared started joining Jensen at the kitchen table to do his work, and they took to watching T.V. and playing Madden in the evenings. It was strange, although not entirely unwelcome. Jensen wasn't particularly keen having to tow Jared along with him when he went out - or vice versa - so they stayed pretty much housebound. Jensen grudgingly conceded that he could have been stuck with someone much worse.
Not in the least because Jared's cooking was fucking orgasmic.
"How'd you get so good at this?" Jensen asked Jared one night, over a heaping plate of lasagna that made him want to weep with joy.
Jared shrugged. "I've been helping my mama mix potions since I was a kid and I used to watch my grandma cook a lot. They kind of went together well."
"Your mama's a witch?" Jensen asked, snagging on that detail and ignoring the rest. Jared somehow contrived to look like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar and Jensen fought the urge to stab him somewhere non-fatal with his fork. "Fuck, Jared, why didn't we go see her about this?"
"Because there's a difference between and witch and a witch doctor," Jared said, with a tartness that deflated almost immediately into awkwardness. "Plus, it's my mama, you know? This is kind of embarrassing."
"Kind of?" Jensen said, but let the matter go. Given the situation, it was one of the few things that Jensen didn't blame Jared for. Jensen wouldn't have wanted to tell his mama about such a big fuck up, if he were Jared.
All told, it was almost nice to have Jared around the house. Not nice enough that Jensen was anything other than thrilled to see the week slowly ticking away, obviously, but still okay.
Misha was a considerably more challenging roommate.
Misha seemed to have a talent for being consistently underfoot or doing things that he knew full well that he wasn't meant to be doing. He also had a tendency to stare unblinkingly at Jensen for hours at a time, just to try and unnerve him as far as Jensen could tell.
Jensen had figured it was just another cat thing until he mentioned it idly to Jared one evening.
"Actually, that’s just Misha," Jared said. He paused, reflecting. "Well, normal cats do it to, but Misha stared a lot when he was human-shaped too. It's actually less creepy now, honestly."
"That is a terrifying thought." Jensen stared at Misha.
Misha stared back.
"What are you looking at, anyway?" Jensen asked him, because it seemed like a fair question.
Misha, unsurprisingly, didn't stop staring.
He must have said something, though, because Jared's expression went almost comically scandalized.
"I don't want to know what he just said, do I?" Jensen asked, because he recognized that look. Jared seemed to wear it a lot around Misha.
"You really don't," Jared agreed, with feeling.
And that was Jensen's week.
Finally, Tuesday arrived.
Jensen didn't sleep well, for reasons he wasn't especially keen on examining. The house was still quiet and dark with night when he crawled out of bed and made his way towards the kitchen to get himself a glass of water or something.
The familiar tug at his insides when he went down the stairs barely affected Jensen's stride now. He wondered idly whether he'd be lurching constantly to one side for the next week to compensate for a counterweight that wasn't there anymore. The pull tightened briefly as Jensen passed the living room and he paused briefly, ducking his head cautiously around the door frame.
Jared, Jensen noticed immediately, was decidedly too long for the couch. In the faint spill of the streetlamps through the blinds, Jensen could make out the cant of Jared's legs over the arm rest and the awkward-looking tuck of Jared's left arm against the back of the couch. His other hand was resting lightly on his stomach and his hair fell across his face in a haphazard tangle thanks to the incline of his neck against the other end of the couch.
He looked all of ten years old, Jensen thought. And never mind the guilty twinge Jensen felt when he saw how uncomfortable Jared obviously was. On a couch that he'd slept on for over a week without complaining.
A questioning little noise caught Jensen's attention, and he looked down to see Misha sitting beside him, regal and judging.
"What?" Jensen demanded, sotto voce.
Misha stared up at him.
Jensen scowled. "Shut up," he said and didn't spare another look at Jared before stomping - quietly - off to the kitchen for that damn glass of water.
Their appointment with Jared's witch doctor friend, Jeff, was set for midday, so Jensen called in sick and spent the morning slouched in front of the TV watching Sons of Anarchy on Netflix with Jared and Misha. It was a stilted sort of morning, warm with the strange, almost-domestic comfortableness they'd started developing but still, somehow, incredibly awkward.
They were almost silent as Jared made lunch - that, Jensen was definitely going to miss - and piled into Jensen's car just after eleven to head out. Misha came too, this time; apparently he and Jeff were good friends. He sat calmly on Jared's lap while Jared navigated to a modestly upscale building halfway across the city. The signboard outside proudly read Dr. J.D. Morgan - Witch Doctor.
"At least we're in the right place," Jensen said, as he pulled in to park.
Jared shot him a grin. "Either that or it's all an evil scheme to lull you into a false sense of security so I can kidnap you."
"I hate to tell you, but my parents would not pay a ransom."
"Actually, I figure we've got a real future as circus performers. Misha can walk the tightropes and stuff."
Jensen snorted. "Get out of the car, Jared."
The interior did, in fact, turn out to be a doctor's office instead of a human trafficking operation- not that Jensen would have been able to tell from the suspiciously innocent grin Jared was wearing as they walked through the door. Of course, they promptly got relegated to the waiting room, because apparently not even witch doctors could keep their appointments on schedule.
"Typical," Jensen grumbled, throwing himself into a chair with perhaps too much force.
"Could be worse," Jared offered. He held up a magazine with the title Seventeen scrawled across the cover in garish orange letters. "I mean, look at this prime reading material."
"Why am I not surprised that you're secretly a teenage girl?" Jensen asked, though he allowed himself to be drawn into mocking the articles and filling out quizzes to see which Hollywood hottie he was going to marry.
"Dr. Morgan will see you now," the secretary said finally, and only the sure knowledge that he'd boomerang right back in Jared's torso if he dashed through the door kept Jensen moving at a moderate pace as they climbed to his feet and headed through the doors.
Dr. Jeff Morgan stood up from his desk when they came in; he was tall and fit, with a salt and pepper beard that suited him surprisingly well and a smile that had Jensen feeling immediately at ease.
Jared grinned back. "Hi, Jeff. Thanks for fitting us in."
"What have you done this time?" Jeff asked Jared, with a fond sort of tolerance. He cast an appraising look at the pair of them, and Jensen was vaguely appalled to find himself wanting to fidget under that firm, assessing gaze.
"If I knew that Mama could have fixed it," Jared said, a touch petulantly.
Jensen raised an eyebrow. That was news to him.
Jeff chuckled. "Then you're lucky you know a witch doctor. And you're Jensen?" he asked then, extending a hand. "Dr. Jeff Morgan."
"Yeah, hi," Jensen said, shaking his hand. "I really hope you can help us."
"That's what I'm here for. Alright, both of you come here and let me take a look."
At Jeff's direction, Jensen and Jared pulled off their shirts and perched on the exam table, close enough that their shoulders touched. Jensen jumped a little when Jeff's palm flattened broad and hot between his shoulder blades, but settled quickly when Jeff didn't make any further move.
"How far apart were you when it happened?" Jeff asked, his voice just slightly distant as he did… whatever it was witch doctors did.
Jensen left that question to Jared, and all the questions that followed except for the ones directed specifically at him. After Jeff had finished doing whatever he was doing, he dropped his hands and spent some time seeing how far apart they could get before they started inclining back together.
"Right," Jeff said finally , while Jensen was flattened against the wall and straining towards Jared who was in the hallway beyond. "That should do it. You can come back now, Jared!"
"Can you fix it?" Jensen asked, once he wasn't trapped, breathless, under his own weight.
Jeff nodded and Jensen's whole body sagged in relief. "I'm afraid you're going to feel pretty awful for a while afterwards, though; non-witches aren't supposed to have as much magic in their system as I'm going to have to put through yours."
"That's fine," Jensen said immediately.
Jared appeared in the doorway and Jensen gave him a smile that was mostly relieved with a dose of vague giddiness thrown in.
"Up on the table, both of you," Jeff directed, and they moved to obey. "No, facing each other. Closer. Good, right there. I need you to put your right hands on each other's chests. And stop looking so much like he's got cooties, Jensen. Jared had all of his shots as a kid, right Jared?"
"Jackass," Jared said, cheeks slightly pink as he placed one warm, fucking massive hand over Jensen's heart. "See if I ever buy you another Christmas present."
Jared's skin was warm and smooth under Jensen's fingers; Jensen ignored the little part of himself that was very interested in the firm muscles beneath it.
Jeff moved over to stand beside them and, once again, placed his hands on their backs. "I need you to do two things for me," he said. "Number one, don't let your hands drop."
"And the second thing?" Jared asked.
Jeff grinned. Jensen felt a strange, sparking tingle skitter across his skin. "Try not to scream. It always puts me off."
Jensen didn't remember much of the next half hour.
It wasn't pain, exactly. The magic buzzed through his nerves and crawled into his bones, his teeth, his fingernails. It made him tingly and dizzy. When he tried to think back on it later, all Jensen would be able to remember was the oppressive, heavy heat and the twin sensations of Jared's hand on his chest and Jared's skin under his fingers. The thud of his heart was loud in his ears, echoed by the counter pulse of Jared's.
When Jeff's hand disappeared abruptly from his back, Jared's hand on his chest was the only thing that kept Jensen from face-planting in Jared's lap.
"Jesus," he managed, absently surprised to find that his breathing was laboured, like he'd been running all morning instead of sitting on an exam table. His whole body was sheened with sweat and Jared's was the same.
"Easy there," Jeff said. Jensen tensed involuntarily when Jeff's hands came down on him again, but Jeff simply clasped his shoulders and helped Jensen lever himself back upright. "It'll take you awhile to get your bearings. How do you both feel?"
"Like I've been wrung out to dry," Jared said, sounding equally as breathless as Jensen. "But… lighter, I guess. More balanced."
Jeff nodded. "Good." He glanced at Jensen. "Jensen?"
"Um, ditto, I guess? What am I supposed to feel like, because I feel kind of like shit."
"I warned you," Jeff said, with what Jensen thought was an undue amount of cheer. His eyes went distant again for a moment, before clearing. "Everything seems to be back to normal. I think you should probably lie down for a while, though. I've got a cot set up next door. Can you walk?"
Jensen couldn't help glaring a little at that. "M'fine," he said. And he was. Aside from the way his dismount from the table nearly landed him face down on the floor. And the way that walking in a straight was suddenly much more difficult than he remembered it being. And the way the door tried to give him a black eye.
"There we go," Jeff said, as he navigated Jensen carefully out of the room. "You stay here, Jared," he said over his shoulder. "I don't want you two in the same room for a couple of hours, at least. Just to make sure the spell takes properly. Besides," he added. "You've got someone here who wants to see you."
There was a moment of silence and then Jared groaned. "You didn't."
"Of course I did. What kind of person do you take me for?"
"A reasonable human being who doesn't resort to emotional blackmail!" Jared called after them as Jeff walked Jensen out into the hallway.
"You have much to learn, young grasshopper. Come on, Jensen," Jeff said then. Jensen couldn't keep up with all of this at once. "Just a little further and then you can sleep."
"Kay," Jensen said, and stumbled along gamely as Jeff took him to another room where there was indeed a cot set up, complete with side table and a small lamp.
Jeff eased him down and Jensen abruptly decided that sleep sounded like a great idea. His entire body was aching, inside and out. He let Jeff pour him into bed, gurgled out something like a thank you and closed his eyes. He was asleep bare moments after Jeff left the room.
Jensen felt considerably less like death when he woke up a few hours later and, as he slowly blinked into consciousness, he realized that the constant tug at his ribs was gone, even with no Jared in sight.
Jensen let out an explosive breath. "Oh, thank Christ."
A glass of water had appeared on the side table while Jensen was asleep, and he drained it gratefully. He had a bitch of a headache.
A knock came at the door just as Jensen reached the bottom of the glass. "Yeah?" he said, pleased to hear himself sounding pretty much back to normal.
He'd expected to find Jeff on the other side, or a sheepish-looking Jared wielding his puppy eyes to ruthless effect. Instead, a tall, honey-haired woman walked in, carrying a fresh glass of water. She was dressed demurely in a soft brown dress with a high collar that made Jensen freeze in sudden, shocked recognition.
There was only one type of person who wore that dress.
"Feeling better?" she asked, gliding across the floor.
"Uh," Jensen said, taking the glass on reflex. "Yes, ma'am. Thank you."
She smiled and there was strangely familiar about it. "I'm glad."
"No offense meant," Jensen said carefully. "But what does a high witch want with me?"
"I'm Sharon," she said, sitting on the edge of the cot, "Jared's mother."
Jensen blinked. "Sh- you're… the Lamia Sharon?"
Jensen could see now where Jared's dimples had come from. "I am indeed. And you're Jensen."
Jensen nodded dumbly at that, too busy being shocked that Jared was the kid of a woman who was arguably the most powerful high witch in the entire country to manage a proper answer.
That explained why Jared's magic was so impressively destructive, at least.
Lamia Sharon didn't appear bothered by Jensen's sudden inability to string a sentence together. "I'm sorry for the trouble Jared's caused you," she said. "Unintentional though it may have been, his spell has disrupted your life quite a bit."
"Uh, it's-" fine Jensen couldn't say, because it wasn't really true. "Fixed now," he finished instead. "No lasting harm done."
Lamia Sharon smiled as though she knew exactly what Jensen meant. "Jared's always been like that, I'm afraid. He's a lovely boy but he's far too prone to accidental trouble."
"Yeah, I, um, noticed."
"Did Jared tell you what happened?" Lamia Sharon asked, almost idly. "That set the spell off in the first place?"
Jensen thought back. It was a much harder endeavour than Jensen thought was really reasonable. Fuck his head hurt. "No," he concluded.
"He was using my scrying crystal."
"To do what?"
Lamia Sharon's smile was fondly tolerant; it was a look that Jensen had seen on his own mother's face after he'd done something stupid but well-intentioned. "He wanted to find his soulmate."
Jensen's heart rate spiked with something between horror and shocked adrenaline.
"Are you- I'm Jared's soulmate?!" he demanded, voice cracking on the last word.
"No," Lamia Sharon said calmly, cutting straight through Jensen's rising panic. "That's impossible."
"But-" Jensen started.
"Not right now, at least," Lamia Sharon allowed.
Jensen was starting to hate Jared's family. "Okay, you need to explain this to me."
"The pop culture concept of soulmates is nonsense," Lamia Sharon said. "Can you imagine how how few people would find their soulmates if there was only one person in the entire world that could complete us that way?"
"So… soulmates don't exist?"
"Oh, they certainly do. But finding a soulmate isn't like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's based on potential. There are multiple people in the world who have the potential to be a particular person's soulmate, but that's just the first step. Soulmates, actual soulmates, are created when two people take that potential and do something with it."
"By dating," Jensen hazarded.
"Among other things," Lamia Sharon agreed. "Good and bad. Love takes effort. You have to earn it."
Jensen didn't know what to say to that. "Huh," he settled for.
"So no," Lamia Sharon finished, and the smile she turned on Jensen was soft and understanding. "You're not Jared's soulmate. But you could be."
"Huh," Jensen said again, a little more thoughtfully this time. "So what happened with his spell? Why me?"
Lamia Sharon's smile turned amused around the edges. "Jensen," she said tolerantly. "Surely you've noticed. For all of his values, subtlety is not one of Jared's skills."
Jensen nodded reluctantly, cheeks heating. "So… what? Jared liked me and it threw off his spell?"
"His affection for you coupled with the fact that you already had the potential to be his soulmate caused his magic to react very literally to his desire that your souls be connected," Lamia Sharon corrected. "There's also, of course, the fact that erratic is about the nicest thing that can be said about Jared's abilities." She cocked her head. "Does that bother you?"
"I-" Jensen floundered a little. "I don't know."
Lamia Sharon patted his leg comfortingly. "You should think about it." She rose and walked unhurriedly out of the room.
Jensen watched her go, not entirely sure what had just happened.
It couldn't have been more than two minutes later that the door knocked again. It was actually Jared and his puppy eyes this time.
"Hi," Jared said, his tone sitting somewhere between shy and trepidatious. "How are you feeling?"
Jared nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, yeah, yes, right as rain."
They stared at each other in an incredibly awkward plateau for several moments.
Finally, Jared coughed. "So, I uh, guess this is goodbye. Well, not goodbye, goodbye because my stuff is still at your place and we work together but-"
This man wanted to know if he had any chance of spending the rest of his life with me, Jensen realized, while Jared babbled on. It was a staggering sort of thought.
He looked at Jared, really looked, and saw his shoulders and big hands and handsome face, obviously, but also the infectious smiles and the cooking and the video games and even the stupid cat that Jared still treated as his best friend.
Oh, fuck it. "Friday night," Jensen said, cutting through the word vomit spilling out of Jared's mouth. "You busy?"
Jared blinked at him, his manic false-ease slowly leeching towards hope. "No?" he tried.
Jensen nodded. "You're taking me on a date. Dinner. Seven o'clock. Better not fuck it up."
"Yes," Jared said immediately, grinning brightly enough to power the entire city. Jensen had to admit that he was really getting fond of those dimples. "I mean, no! Definitely no fucking up. It will be totally fuck up free."
"Good," Jensen said, fighting a satisfied grin of his own. "No magic this time, okay?"
Jared laughed. "Can do. I'll even leave Misha at home, how 'bout that?"
"Definitely a point in your favour. Now help me stand up so we can have Jeff let us out of here. I've got a craving for grilled cheese sandwiches."
"Your wish," Jared said, sketching a bow. He was still grinning. "Is my command."
And really, Jensen thought that he could rather get used to that.