The water wrapped him in its warm, blue-green embrace, and Jared enjoyed the unique sensation of heavy weightlessness as he swam at Jensen's side. Light drifted down from the surface far above them, reflecting off the pale sand in lazy circles.
Jared cut smoothly through the water, bothered neither by the weight of his tank nor the playful tug of the water on his hair and swimming shorts. It was a familiar sensation. Diving had been one of the few things that he'd made sure to take time out for while he was in Sicily and it had been far too long since he'd last had the opportunity.
This wasn't the same as diving in the Mediterranean, of course. A large part of the fun there had been trying to spot some of the elusive denizens of the area, who tended to be as grey and green as the rocks and water they lived in.
Here, however, the water was alive with bright activity. Schools of fish ignored them completely as they went about their business, and Jared smiled as they darted through the turtle grass in bright flashes of colour. Sea fans waved in time with the ebb and flow of the water and Jared hoped that he had an opportunity to get a closer look at some of the massive sponges while Jensen dealt with his spy business.
In the water, Jensen was one long streamlined arc of skin and spandex. His hair drifted soft and spiky around his head, longer than Jared had realized. Though Jared couldn't see a whole lot of use for scuba proficiency among the CIA or whomever, he thought that it just figured that Jensen was good at this. He was good at everything else, after all.
They'd been swimming away from the boat that had taken them out for a good ten minutes when Jensen stopped abruptly. Jared obediently stopped as well, spreading his hands in a wordless question.
Jensen made a complicated series of gestures apparently designed to convey the fact that Jared was supposed to stay here while Jensen fucked off and did whatever ultra-secret spy thing he'd come here for. He gave Jared a look at the end, as if daring him to protest.
Not that Jared was about to. Arguing with Jensen about being kept in the dark was hard enough when he could speak; Jared didn't see the point in trying to hash it out underwater. Besides, it had been far too long since Jared had been scuba diving and he would much rather swim than get into a pointless mime battle with Jensen.
So Jared just nodded and, when Jensen somehow managed to make the tilt of his head look skeptical, crossed his heart for good measure. Jensen stared at him for a moment or two longer before giving a sharp nod and swimming away. Jared watched him go for a time, admiring the easy economy of his limbs. Then he pulled himself out of his Jensen Appreciation Moment and started swimming in the direction that the rental people had said he could find the pirate ship.
Free to do whatever he liked until either Jensen came back or his tank ran empty, Jared set about exploring. He swam around without any real sense of urgency, paying only absent attention to how long he'd been down here. The aquatic life was endlessly fascinating and Jared made a mental note to make sure that he did at least one more dive before they left.
For perhaps the first time since he'd arrived at this damned resort, Jared felt entirely at peace. There was nothing in Jared's world but himself, the water and the ocean life that swam and swayed its quiet way all around him.
It was wonderful.
Eventually, the dark bulk of the resort's pretend pirate ship loomed ahead of him and Jared swam a little faster, eager to see the thing now that he was here. A few other divers were flitting about with varying degrees of proficiency, but the ship was more than big enough that Jared could approach without getting in anyone's way.
Up close, the structure looked exactly like the movies wanted people to believe sunken ships looked: mostly intact and draped with thick blankets of algae. Jared's eyes traced the triple masts - lacking both sails and rope - and took in the breadth of the deck. The hull was pockmarked with small, jagged-edge holes, presumably meant to simulate cannon damage, and Jared could just barely see through into the gutted heart of the ship where barnacles and what looked like coral were growing.
It wasn't especially authentic, as far as shipwrecks went - Jared was an archeologist; he knew what time and water did to wood - but Jared had to admit that it was still pretty fucking cool.
He drifted curiously closer, angling towards one of the holes in the ruined hull. Even though the ship clearly hadn't been there for any significant amount of time, the boards were already starting to decay. Jared reached out to touch, fascinated as ever by the texture of algae over soft, rotting wood.
There was enough of the deck still intact that the interior of the ship was too dark to see into clearly. Jared fumbled around for a moment for his flashlight and clicked it on. Thus armed, he leaned in to take a better look, flashing the light ahead of him.
A flurry of orange fish swarmed suddenly in his face, and Jared jerked in surprise, his startled laugh escaping in a torrent of bubbles. They were gone before Jared had quite figured out how to apologize to a school of fish for frightening it. Jared shook his head at his own flight of fancy and returned to his exploration of the ship.
He'd just poked his head through the gap when a muffled crack thrummed through the water, there and gone in a moment. Jared half-twisted, trying to see what had caused it, and yelped when something solid crashed into his back, propelling him straight through the hole in the hull that he'd been peering into a moment before. The gap was on just the wrong side of 'big enough' for a person Jared's size and Jared inhaled an unpleasantly large amount of oxygen when he scored his arm against the jagged planking. His flashlight clattered somewhere out of sight, the light skittering back and forth in time with the dull thud of it hitting things on its way down.
A surprisingly strong pressure wave washed against him, and Jared felt the world darken as something large sank down in front of the gap. It was gone again a moment later and Jared started automatically forwards to take a look, only to realized that a pair of arms were wrapped around his torso and holding him close.
Jared twisted his head around awkwardly, and was met with a familiar head of spiky hair.
"Jensen?" he asked, which, of course, accomplished nothing other than another spray of bubbles.
Jensen shook his head and let his arms slip away from Jared when he decided that Jared wasn't going to do something he thought was stupid. Wait, his expression seemed to say and Jared nodded, waiting for Jensen to squeeze himself carefully through the hole and beckon him after before trying it himself.
He managed to avoid losing any more skin on the way out, which he appreciated. Jensen lingered nearby, looking down.
Jared followed his gaze and immediately felt himself go gray.
It was part of one of the masts, longer than Jared was tall and as thick around as a tree trunk. And things might have fallen more slowly underwater, but that didn't mean that they didn't fall or that they weighed less when they hit you.
Jared would be dead right now if Jensen hadn't pushed him out of the way. The grim set to Jensen's shoulders said that he knew it, too.
Jared hated absolutely everything about this resort.
Half an hour, a torrent of flustered apologies from the staff members responsible for the diving attractions, and a change of clothes later, Jared was back at the resort and fucking livid.
"Could Genevieve have picked a worse resort for her wedding?" he fumed, charging down the halls away from the scuba people and their useless fluttering. "The colossal fuck-up with the rooms and the catering people having the combined IQ of a rock was bad enough, but now their tourist attraction nearly kills us, and they expect that a fucking apology is going to be enough to make it okay. The manager's going to be lucky if I don't strangle him with my bare ha-"
Jared glanced over at Jensen and faltered at the sight of Jensen's tight expression.
"Jensen?" he asked, rant momentarily derailed.
Jensen shook his head. "It's nothing."
"Wait." Jared grabbed Jensen's arm, pulling them both to a stop. "You're upset about something. What is it?"
"Forget about it," Jensen said, and Jared frowned. Jensen didn't actually look upset, he realized. He looked worried. Which was a weird reaction to have after the danger was over.
"You don't think it was an accident, do you?" Jared realized, with a shock of fear. "That's why you were close enough to push me out of the way instead of off doing whatever: you were keeping an eye on me."
Jensen said nothing, which was all the confirmation that Jared needed.
Jared exhaled noisily. "Fuck. And when, exactly, were you going to tell me this?"
"It's not your problem," Jensen said, trying to push past Jared.
Jared tightened his grip. "When I'm the one almost getting pancaked by falling pirate ship masts, I think it damn well is my problem."
"No," Jensen said, in a terribly final tone of voice. "It isn't." He wrenched his arm free with a laughable lack of effort and strode away, head held high and stride tightly controlled.
"God damn it." Jared chased down the hall after him, lengthening his stride to keep up when Jensen didn't slow. "Jesus, Jensen, would it kill you to tell me what the hell is going on?"
"This isn't the movies, Jared," Jensen said, without looking at him. "Government secrets are actually secrets. Stop asking."
"You're not seriously going to do this, are you?" Jared asked, keeping an eye out for people. This wasn't a conversation he wanted to be overheard. "I'm involved in this whether you like it or not. And if someone's decided that I'm a target because we're playing happy couple, I deserve to know."
Jensen huffed and spun around, too fast for Jared to backpedal. Without pause, Jensen forced him up against the wall and pinned him in place. Jared tried instinctively to wiggle free, only to have Jensen keep crowding in until their bodies were lined up from shoulders to pelvis.
"And what, exactly, would you do about it even if you knew?" Jensen demanded, the words hissed out between tightly clenched teeth.
"I know how to protect myself," Jared muttered, trying very hard not to think about the firm press of Jensen's body against him.
Jensen growled under his breath. "Not in this situation, you don't. This isn't a game, Jared."
Jared met angry eyes squarely. "All the more reason for you not to keep me in the dark, Jensen. You think it's going to make me less of a liability? Cause I think it's just the opposite."
"Fuck." Jensen arched abruptly upwards, angling his head alongside Jared's. His lips brushed Jared's ear, soft and dry.
Jared's pulse picked up. "Uh…"
"I think you were targeted by the man I was sent here to stop," Jensen said, so low that Jared could hardly hear him despite the fact that he was talking directly into Jared's ear. "Because you decided we should be fake boyfriends, which makes you a pressure point to be manipulated."
"Do you-" Jared swallowed hard, his throat suddenly dry with Jensen's proximity, "-think he knows it's pretend?"
Jensen was silent for a moment. "I hope so."
Jared wasn't quite sure what to make of that. "Oh. Well, thanks for sharing," he settled on, sounding a little breathless even to his own ears. "Care to get off me now?"
He felt the curve of Jensen's smile against his cheek. "Aw, am I getting you all worked up, baby?" he asked, his tone more mocking than teasing.
Abruptly irritated, Jared tilted his head and nosed his way down Jensen's neck. "Yes," he murmured against warm, smooth skin. "Actually, you are." And he bit, gently but deliberately, down on the join between Jensen's neck and shoulder.
Jensen jolted hard and Jared's teeth grazed him harder than he'd intended when Jensen pulled away in a hurried jerk. Jensen's eyes were leaf-green and shocked; Jared felt more than a little smug. Jensen's hands were still fisted in Jared's shirt, keeping him close, and Jared leaned in, his intention scrawled boldly across his face, he was sure. Jensen's eyelashes fluttered but he didn't move.
"Get a room!" someone passing by said - one of the groomsmen's girlfriends, Jared thought - and Jensen startled back like he'd been electrified.
"I would have preferred a 'please'," he said, with a deliberate calmness that would have been much more convincing if not for the splash of colour high on his cheeks.
Feeling at once pleased and irked, Jared grinned at him. "My way was more fun. And it worked, didn't it?"
Jensen's exasperated look was edged with a heat that Jared tried to remind himself he couldn't trust. "For a variable definition of 'work', yes. Now, I believe you were about to go tear the manager a new one?"
"Well yeah," Jared said, with a shrug. "But that was before I-"
Jensen shot him a warning look and Jared swallowed the rest of that very foolish sentence.
"He's probably wondering where I am, honestly," he said instead. "It's not like they don't know how fed up I am with all their bullshit and there's no way I'm letting this fly. Honest to God, if he doesn't give us one hell of a 'sorry, we're useless fuckers' discount, I'm going to- to-"
"Write a strongly worded letter?" Jensen suggested, while Jared groped for an appropriately horrible threat. He'd regained his equilibrium with remarkable aplomb and was back to looking absently amused by Jared's antics.
"I was thinking more an axe in the face," Jared said. He grinned at Jensen. "Don't suppose you want to help?"
"You're on your own there, babe," Jensen said. He winked. "I'm a lover, not a fighter."
"I wouldn't mind that either," Jared offered, and was pleasantly surprised by the flirty grin that Jensen answered with.
"We'll have to see about that." Jensen rocked forward suddenly and pressed a kiss against Jared's lips. "Have fun yelling at people," he said easily, as though Jared wasn't gaping at him, open-mouthed. His smile turned briefly soft around the edges and he lifted one hand in a wave as he turned to go.
It was about then that Jared remembered something important.
"Jensen," Jared called, and Jensen turned with a look that was somewhere between light and wary. "Tell me one thing: did you find what you were looking for out there?"
"Yeah," Jensen said, after a pause so long that Jared hadn't thought he was going to answer. "I think so. Which means that things are about to get dangerous."
The afternoon was a flurry of yelling and threats to sue, the evening was yet another excuse for everyone to be social and drunk until far too late, and Jared stirred into conscious the next morning with extreme reluctance.
He lay there for a moment, in that perfect state of not-quite-awake where his bed was the most comfortable place in the entire world and neither love nor money could convince him that he ought to be getting out of it. Jared sighed in quiet contentment and snuggled deeper into the light summer sheets, glad for the moment of peace.
Something shifted on the bed next to him.
Jared's eyes popped open, and he nearly fell out of bed when he realized that it was Jensen stretched out beside him, dead to the world and close enough that Jared could go cross-eyed trying to count the freckles across the bridge of Jensen's nose.
Jensen was wearing what looked suspiciously like one of Jared's sleep shirts; the too-wide collar gaped around Jensen's neck in a strangely appealing way and worn-thin fabric draped gracefully over the smooth line of his side. His eyelashes stood out long and dark against his pale skin and his mouth was slightly open.
Jared stared at him, cataloguing the shape of Jensen's face when Jensen didn't know anyone was watching. In romance novels, people were often described as looking younger, more innocent when they slept. Jensen did nothing of the sort. He looked peaceful, true, but not innocent and definitely not safe. Jensen was a single long line of carefully leashed strength - quiescent for now, but it was obvious that it would only take a single spark to have him blurring to life, powerful and deadly.
He looked, Jared thought, considerably more dangerous now than he did when awake. This was Jensen stripped down without the harmless geniality that he wore like a second skin.
Jared didn't know how long he lay there, watching the gentle rise and fall of Jensen's chest and wondering what would happen if he crossed the scant few inches between them to press his hand over Jensen's heart. He'd get his arm ripped off, most likely. Which was about as good a deterrent as Jared could have asked for. Watching would have to suffice.
But Jared's arm was starting to tingle where it was trapped beneath him and Jared could only lay there so long, no matter how compelling Jensen was. Jared shifted slowly, trying to jar the mattress as little as possible.
Jensen's eyes blinked open.
Caught out, Jared could do nothing but lie there and wait for Jensen to react.
To his surprise, Jensen made no move to climb out of bed, or even to put a greater distance between them. Instead, he simply stared back at Jared, his expression unreadable and his eyes bright.
They lay there silently as one moment stretched out into the next until Jared felt dizzy with the sheer potential hanging heavy on the air between them. He could hear his own breath, slightly elevated and loud in the stillness; he hoped that Jensen's was the same.
Ever so slowly, Jared reached out with one hand and let it rest on the curve of Jensen's hipbone. He was warm through the thin fabric of his shirt and, when Jensen didn't pull away, Jared let his thumb skim beneath the hem of his shirt to drift a light caress against the skin there.
Jensen raised his arm and, equally as careful, brought it up to curl around Jared's shoulder, holding him close. As though Jared was going anywhere.
The moment hung there, suspended. Jared licked his lips and watched Jensen track the movement.
Then Jared's phone rang and the fragile space between thought and action shattered into a million pieces.
"Jesus," Jared swore. He rolled away from the warm hollow they'd made in the mattress and groped on the side table for his phone, more than prepared to hunt down the person on the other end and kill them in a creative and painful way for the interruption.
"What?" he growled into the phone.
"Jared!" Genevieve said, sounding halfway to tears.
Jared reluctantly put his thoughts of justified homicide on hold for the moment and sat up. "Gen?" he asked, and felt more than saw Jensen go momentarily still beside him. "What's wrong?"
A torrent of words bombarded him, far faster than Jared could assimilate while still half asleep and almost entirely focused on his dick.
"Slow down… come on, okay, deep breaths." Eventually, Jared managed to get her to calm down enough to choke out something about her dress - seriously, would anything go right with this fucking wedding? - and he tried not to sigh too audibly. "I'll be right there, okay? Mmhmm. Yeah. Five minutes. Okay."
He disconnected the call and stared at his knees for a moment, not sure he wanted to know what he'd see if he turned around. Eventually, though, he couldn't resist the urge and he was ruefully unsurprised when, instead of Jensen sprawled out across the sheets with heat in his eyes, all Jared saw was the tail end of the bathroom door swinging shut.
Jared fell back against the mattress. "Fuck," he said, closing his eyes on his frustration. The shower hissed on and Jared reluctantly thought unsexy thoughts until his erection faded, then hauled himself upright and headed towards the drawer he'd shoved his clothes into. Time to go see what wedding disaster needed fixing now.
The rest of Jared's day pretty much sucked out loud.
Genevieve's wedding dress debacle was resolved amidst many tears and not a few threats of bodily harm if this shit didn't get sorted out now. Breakfast was a muffin wolfed down between frantic gulps of coffee and lunch was a complete write-off. Then Jared turned his attention to getting thing ready for the rehearsal dinner. Which was just bundles of joy.
He and Gabe were frantically finishing off the centerpieces for the tables when Jensen arrived to join Jared for the rehearsal, and Jared felt a tension that he hadn't even known he was carrying melt out of his shoulders. Despite the fact that Jensen hadn't let him down yet, Jared hadn't been entirely sure how Jensen was going to react after their… moment this morning.
But Jensen greeted him with an easy smile, as usual, so Jared had clearly been wasting his time by worrying.
"Hi," Jensen said, rocking onto the balls of his feet to press a feather-light kiss on Jared's cheek. "Have a good day?"
Jared groaned at him. "I am going to strangle someone with the runners from the head table. See if I don't."
Jensen patted him comfortingly on the chest. "I'm sure they'll deserve it." He glanced around at the uncharacteristically quiet hall. "I thought the rehearsal was now. Where is everyone?"
"On the beach," Jared told him.
Jensen's nose wrinkled in a frown. "Why-"
"We're about to be late," Gabe cut in, hooking an arm through Jared's as he finished off the last vase and struck out for the doors. "Come on."
The very idea of Gabe being able to pull Jared anywhere was laughable, but Jared obediently let himself be tugged along, studiously ignoring the amused smile that was splitting Jensen's face at the spectacle.
The rest of the bridal party was already scattered in small clumps across the beach. Jared could see Genevieve and Chad standing not far away on the small footpath that led from the reception hall to the picturesque little gazebo-chapel on the beach itself. Genevieve was considerably calmer now than she had been this morning, though Jared resolved to be very careful not to upset her between now and this damn wedding. He wasn't the only one who'd been seriously contemplating homicide today.
Someone hailed Gabe and Gabe let go of Jared's arm to wave back. A segment of groomsmen detached themselves from the general crowd and headed over. They all engaged in a few moments of small talk before turning their attention to the particulars of the stag night. Jared - thank any and all gods that existed - was not responsible for planning any part of the stag, even if he'd be expected to attend, and so happily ignored them.
"So, care to explain to me what a rehearsal dinner actually is?" Jensen asked in an undertone, while the others discussed the various merits of beach volleyball and Frisbee, for some reason.
"Pretty much what it sounds like," Jared murmured back. "They'll run through the ceremony so everyone knows where to stand and when to walk and stuff like that. Then once we're done, everyone's going back to the main hall to eat."
"Sounds riveting. And we're all standing on the beach because…?"
"Because it's a beach wedding." Jared gestured towards the open-air chapel. "That's the chapel over there. Genevieve doesn't see the point in having a destination wedding if you don't take advantage of the destination."
"Fair enough." Jensen looked again at the scatter of people. "This, however, looks incredibly boring. Any chance we could skip the rehearsal part and just show up for the dinner?"
"And have Genevieve hunt us down and drag us back by the balls? No, thanks."
Jensen shook his head mournfully. "Chicken. Where's your sense of adventure?"
"Hiding behind my common sense. And a healthy desire not to get castrated by my best friend. So stop whining and let's get this over with."
"You sure know how to show a guy a good time," Jensen said, but obligingly hooked his fingers into one of Jared's belt loops and followed along as Jared led the way towards the little gazebo chapel thing.
Jared felt completely justified in letting his own hand rest in the small of Jensen's back, especially when Jensen didn't protest. And Jared had no idea where any of this fell on the scale between flirting and faking it, but he hoped that he'd have the opportunity to find out soon. Preferably before he died of blue balls.
The practice ceremony was about as dull and unromantic as Jared had expected. It was nice to stand on the beach under the gold and fire warmth of the setting sun, but the rest of it Jared could have done without. Having a fake ceremony before the real ceremony just seemed too clinical to him, somehow. Also, the fact that both Chads were wearing the most God awful neon swimming trunks and even Genevieve was having a hard time not cracking up made it kind of hard to take the whole thing seriously.
It was a relief when the organizers decided that none of them were likely to fuck up too badly for the actual ceremony and they were dismissed to go eat dinner.
"Definitely eloping," Jared said to Jensen as they joined the crowd of bridal party members filing into the main hall. It looked ridiculous with all but a few tables full in such a massive space. "Getting married on a beach at sunset shouldn't be this difficult to arrange."
"Yeah," Jensen answered, distracted. His eyes were pacing the length of the room, flicking back and forth through the small crowd.
Which was about the point when Jared remembered that someone had tried to kill him yesterday. That fact was suddenly so much more frightening when he wasn't busy being irritated at Jensen for keeping secrets..
"Hey." Jensen's fingers hooked in Jared's belt loop again, tugging a little, and Jared blinked at him. "Knock it off. You're fine."
Jared deliberately shook off the unease crawling under his skin and gave Jensen a weak smile. "Because I've got my big strong fiancé to protect me?"
"Exactly." Jensen let go of Jared's pants and inclined his head towards the table where Genevieve was beckoning them over imperiously. "Now come on. There's a rack of ribs over there with my name on it."
"Glutton," Jared said fondly, and went to tangle Jensen's fingers with his own.
Only to have Jensen pull his arm away.
Jared blinked and let his hand drop slowly, feeling like an utter fool.
Jensen offered him a tight smile. "Genevieve is waiting for us," he said, a completely unsubtle prompt to get Jared moving again.
It was enough. "Right, yeah. Wouldn't want to keep you from your dinner."
"Or yours," Jensen said, like a peace offering. "You've been working too hard."
Am I the only one? Jared wanted to ask, but he couldn't. Not really your fiancé, he reminded himself firmly. He pasted on a smile and followed Jensen across the room, doing a shit job of not thinking about the way Jensen had looked at him this morning and wondering if he could trust that when everything else was fake.
Dinner was awkward.
Jensen was still distant and Jared was feeling enough off balance from Jensen's rejection of simple contact that it was hard to muster up his characteristic good humour. Genevieve looked worriedly between them more than once and Jared made up some bull about how it was just fatigue. She didn't really look like she bought it, so Jared switched instead to the story of his underwater misadventure - sans any mention of international spy antics, of course. The shock and outrage nicely distracted everyone at the table and Jared breathed a quiet sigh of relief when that conversation segued naturally into general complaints about this damn resort that he didn't have to participate in beyond a couple of 'mmhms' and 'I know, rights'.
He didn't pay much attention to the rest of dinner.
"Hey," Genevieve said afterwards, when people were drifting away in fits and starts and he was just waiting for Chad and Tom to finish expounding on all the ways the stag night was going to be epic so he could make his escape. Jensen was talking easily with Other Chad, and Jared was most definitely not paying attention to him. "Everything okay?"
Jared mustered up a smile. "Sure, yeah. Just tired, is all."
"Bullshit." Her expression was at once patient and implacable. Jared was not getting out of this conversation. "Did you and Jensen have a fight?"
"It's not like that," Jared tried.
"Then what is it like?"
"Everything's still kind of new," he said finally, after casting around for something plausible. "The… engagement and everything. And I'm all stressed from the wedding planning and it's all kind of…"
Genevieve nodded, like she understood. "That'll happen," she said. Her hand came up to cup Jared's cheek and she smiled at him gently. "But you'll get through it. I see the way you look at him, Jared. It'll take more than a little frustration to get in the way."
Jared flushed, which was a better alternative than all the blood draining from his face like the chill in his limbs was threatening. The last thing he needed was Genevieve thinking he was actually in love; it would make it so much harder to justify fake-breaking up with Jensen later on.
He wasn't even going to entertain the idea that she might be right. He just couldn't.
"I know," he said, with a thin smile. "Just a little difficult to remember that when I'm spending so much time distracted by how much I hate planning weddings."
"Oh, god, I know. This wedding is going to be fucking majestic or I'm going to stab every single one of those idiots in revenge."
"I was thinking drowning them in cake batter," Jared offered, and then they were both laughing and coming up with some inventive and highly improbable wedding-related murder schemes.
They'd got as far as setting the entire resort on fire and dancing on the ashes when Other Chad ambled over and slung an affectionate arm over Genevieve's shoulders.
"This sounds like a very disturbing conversation," he said, with a smile that was the pair to the one Genevieve was wearing. It made Jared's heart twist, just a little. "It's a good thing I love you when you're bloodthirsty."
"That says some worrying things about your psyche," Genevieve said, and Other Chad laughed.
"Just means that I can claim insanity if they ever try to nail me as an accessory to murder."
Smiling helplessly as Genevieve whacked Other Chad for that, Jared glanced over to see Jensen standing a few feet away, watching the pair of them with an expression that Jared couldn't even begin to unravel. He caught Jared's eye and whatever emotion was on his face got wiped away in an instant.
Jared offered him a careful smile and was relieved when Jensen returned it.
"-but even a majestic specimen like me needs his beauty sleep," Other Chad was saying, and Jared tuned back into the conversation as Other Chad clapped him on the shoulder. "Get some sleep, man."
"Gotta be ready for that bachelor party, huh?" Jared asked, and earned a wicked grin in return.
"Fucking right. Tom said he managed to get a hold of one of those Jell-o guns and Chad's honest to God planning something that involves midgets-"
"Aaaaand, we're leaving now." Genevieve smiled up at Jared. "Sleep well, Jay. And try not to worry too much, okay?"
"Sir, yes, sir," Jared said, and dropped a quick kiss on her cheek before waving her and Other Chad off.
A step behind him. "Okay?"
Jared nodded, lacing his hands behind his head and leaning back. "Been a long day." There was a long, awkward pause and Jared bit his lip. "Jensen," he said tentatively. "About this morning-"
A flash of movement in the corner of his eye caught Jared's attention and he glanced over to see what looked very much like a suspicious figure lurking in a shadowy alcove. And staring at him.
"Jensen," Jared said again, urgently this time. "Doesn't that look like-"
He turned. Jensen was gone.
"Jensen?" Jared twisted in place, subtlety be damned. There was no sign of the man anywhere, which made Jared's mouth sour at the realization that he'd been about to spill his guts to the empty air.
A glance back at the alcove revealed that the shadow was nowhere to be seen and Jared hesitated, unsure what he was supposed to do in this situation.
Leave it alone, was probably the answer. Jensen was the highly trained secret agent, not him. And Jared might have wanted to help, but he would help him the most by staying out of harm's way, not blundering in like he actually was the plucky but useless sidekick in a Bond movie. He should stay somewhere safe, out of the way. Keep from getting caught in the crossfire.
"Fuck," Jared said, before executing a frustrated turn and stomping towards the elevators.
Only to jump half a mile when something whizzed past him and buried itself in the wall with a crack.
Somebody shrieked and Jared was moving before his brain had got past 'that's a bullet hole, oh god, oh god, oh god'. He tipped over the closest table and ducked behind it, legs pulled in to his chest and arms above his head as though that would help anything.
Someone was screaming and Jared had the inane thought that this had better as hell not damage their deposit.
Wood splintered and dented as three bullets slammed into the table in rapid succession and Jared couldn't stay here.
Lifting up the edge of the tablecloth, Jared judged the distance between him and the elevator banks. Too far for his liking, but not so far that he couldn't make it in a good sprint.
"Come on, Jared," he said to himself. "You can do this."
Without giving himself time to second guess it, Jared burst out from behind the table and . A shot rang out almost immediately, and Jared veered away from his original trajectory when the bullet buried itself in the tiles just ahead of him. The doors to the atrium were to his left and standing wide, so Jared aimed for them, the space between his shoulder blades itching.
The smell of the ocean hit him hard as he ran out into the open air, but Jared didn't dare try for the beach. The sun was setting, sending purple-black shadows tumbling across the ground, and the sand would slow him down too much.
Jared ran down the length of the atrium instead, angling for the doors at the other end. He careened around the corner, flip flops skidding on the polished tiles, and froze when something small and hard pressed against his back.
"That's enough of that," a calm, urbane voice said. "Hands where I can see them. Turn around slowly."
Jared had never quite realized how scary it would be to hear that sort of overdone movie line spoken when there was the actual weight of a gun lingering between his shoulder blades. His hands were in the air immediately and he rotated obediently to meet the dark gaze of a good-looking guy, older than him, with a strong, rugged face and a salt and pepper beard. Jared vaguely recognized him as one of the guests - someone's date, maybe? - which was sort of terrifying.
"Sorry," the guy - did Jared even know his name? - said casually. "It's nothing personal. But your fiancé has something I need."
"Don't tell me you're about to propose a trade," Jensen's voice said, and Jared couldn't help an awkward look over his shoulder to see as Jensen stepped out of the deepening shadows. The lights from inside the resort proper spilled across his face, highlighting the thin set of his mouth, the square line of his jaw. "Because this is getting way too cliché for me."
The guy - Jeff, maybe? Or John? Something with a 'J' - smiled. "Just trying to get your attention." He seized Jared's arm with his free hand and brought the gun up to the side of Jared's head.
Jared tried not to flinch at the chill press of the metal and failed.
Jensen's gaze flicked over to Jared. "You okay?"
"Just peachy," Jared answered, a little shakily. "You?"
"I'll live." Jensen looked at Jared's captor with a calmness that Jared didn't know whether to admire or hate. "The beard is new," he said, almost conversationally.
"And you've finally grown out of the jailbait phase. Congratulations." The guy's grip tightened on Jared's arm and Jared winced when the gun jammed harder against the side of his head. "Now give me the data before I put a hole in his head."
Something somewhere in the back of Jared's mind thought it profoundly unfair that, even now, it didn't seem like he was going to find out what the hell they were even fighting over. Stupid spies and their stupid actually-secrets.
Jensen looked thoughtful. "You do know he's not actually my boyfriend, right?"
That earned him a smirk. "Doesn't matter. I know you. You never were a very good undercover agent."
"Fuck you," Jensen said. "Saved your ass more than once."
And wow, Jared really wished he wasn't at gunpoint, because he would have loved to be able to ask a question or two right about now.
"Are we really going to rehash old history?" the guy asked. "Fact is, you'll do what I want to keep Jared here from getting an extra hole in his head. It's the sort of thing that makes you one of the good guys."
Jensen glared at him.
"I can wait if you need time to think about it," the guy offered, sounding supremely unconcerned. No surprise when he appeared to be holding all the cards. "Better not take too long though; wouldn't want someone to come looking."
Jared looked at Jensen, who was stood there looking at once determined and frustrated. His hands were tied with the gun at Jared's temple. This was not going to end well for anyone involved, Jared could tell.
Which meant that it was up to Jared to break the stalemate.
He looked at Jensen, trying to will the man to catch his gaze. Wonder of wonders, Jensen looked his way and Jared could only hope that there was some form of reassurance on his face for Jensen to read. Whatever was on there, it made Jensen's eyes widen, the whites gleaming in the dark.
It was good enough for Jared. He took a careful breath, trying to focus on the familiar pattern of the move he was about to try and not on the fact that he'd never done this when there was the danger of getting killed if something went wrong.
There was nothing for it now, though.
Jared jerked his elbow back towards the guy's gut and ducked his head at the same moment, bringing his other arm up in the hopes of blocking the gun. He only managed a glancing blow when the guy dodged back, but it was enough to yank his arm free and drive the edge of his hand into the join of the guy's elbow. Normally he'd have followed it up with a side sweep to take out his opponent's legs, but Jared had no illusions about how well he'd do in a fight with a highly trained spy.
He backed hurriedly away in the split second it took the guy to shake off the sting, arms up and ready to defend. Not that it would do much against a gun but his sensei would never have let him hear the end of it if he hadn't even bothered t-
A gunshot rang out loud and clear, echoing off the overhead arches and Jared's eyes slammed reflexively closed as he waited for the pain.
Something heavy hit the floor and Jared cracked an eye open to see his erstwhile captor laid out face first on the ground, blood seeping out of a hole in his chest. Startled, he looked over at Jensen, who coolly lowered the gun in his hand and looked at Jared.
"You okay?" he asked, coming over.
"I-" Jared started and had no idea how to continue. He looked at the dead man in front of him. "You killed him."
"Yes," Jensen said, something heavy and strangely sorrowful in his voice. "I did."
"Were you supposed to do that?"
Jensen smiled without humour. "Only if I had to. Good job getting clear, by the way. Jujutsu?"
Jared nodded. "Since I was a kid. Told you I could take care of myself."
"So you did." Jensen reversed his gun neatly and slid it into a holster at his back, under his shirt. "Probably a good thing I was here too, though. What?"
Jared was very aware that he was staring like an utter moron, but he couldn't help it. "That's why you wouldn't let me touch you earlier?" he asked.
Jensen blinked and followed Jared's gaze to the gun holster now hidden by the fall of his loose jacket. "Yeah. Why, what did you think it was?"
"I-" Jared started, only to be interrupted by an urgent beeping from Jensen's wrist.
"Shit." Jensen touched something on his watch - those spy movies just kept getting more and more credible - and offered Jared a smile that didn't look like it knew what it wanted to convey. "Clean-up crew is on its way. You should probably wait until it's a little quieter before going back in. You've got-" Jensen gestured at his own face and Jared realized that he was splattered with blood from standing too close.
"Are you…" Jared swallowed hard. "What happens now?"
It couldn't just be Jared's imagination that Jensen looked sad. "Now? Now I debrief and go back to my job and you tell your friends that I had a family emergency and had to go."
"Just like that?" Jared demanded. He was on his feet before he realized, and gestured angrily at the space between them. "You can't possibly pretend that there's nothing here, Jensen."
Jensen sighed. "I'm a spy, Jared. You don't know me."
"I know enough," Jared persisted. "And there are some things that you can't fake."
Jensen's watch beeped again, and Jensen's shoulders squared. "You should go before they get here or you'll get caught up in all the red tape. And Genevieve will kill me if she doesn't have a man of honour for her wedding."
Jared growled and yanked Jensen forward into a kiss that was just this side of brutal. Jensen responded with ready hunger and they stayed there for several long minutes, biting and sucking until Jared felt half-mad with arousal.
But they had to break for air eventually, and Jensen took the opportunity to push him away, gentle but firm. "Go," he said. "Please, Jared."
"But-" Jared started, only to falter in the face of Jensen's unwavering determination. "Fuck," he said, feeling, and spun on his heel. "I think you're an idiot," he said over his shoulder as he stomped away with as much pride as he could muster. "Just so you know."
"Jared-" Jensen said, but it wasn't a 'wait' so Jared ignored him and stepped out of the atrium and on to the beach. And kept right on walking.
Dawn found Jared on the beach, legs folded up to his chest and his arms wrapped around them, just like he'd been for hours. He'd jumped into the ocean to clean off the worst of the evidence, and now he'd settled into a numb sort of fugue. He'd heard something that sounded suspiciously like a helicopter around midnight, which he figured was Jensen's clean-up crew leaving with Jensen, the dead spy and the mysterious data in tow.
He was well aware that he should have gone inside long before now - even tropical islands got cold overnight - but Jared couldn't face the thought of facing his friends and explaining that Jensen was gone.
"Fuck him," Jared said to his knees, biting his lip hard enough to hurt. At least he wasn't crying.
Jared stiffened. "What are you doing here?"
"Looking for you." The sand muffled Jensen's footsteps as he came forward and sat down beside him. "You were right."
Jared refused to look at him, gazing determinedly out at the horizon. "About what?"
"About the fact that I'm an idiot." Jensen paused, obviously waiting for Jared to say something. Jared wasn't about to oblige him. "You wanted to know my name," Jensen said finally.
"Thought you said it was a need to know basis only."
Jensen nodded. "And I've decided that you need to know. If you want to."
It was more than little scary to know that he was being offered the opportunity to know something that Jensen clearly kept close to the chest and that Jared was going to have to reorganize what he thought he knew about Jensen inside his head. And Jared was probably imagining the edge of hopeful uncertainty just beginning to shade the words, but even that was enough to keep him from leaving now.
He heaved a sigh and turned to look Jensen square in the face. "What is it?"
And Jensen smiled. "It's Jensen." He held out a hand. "Jensen Ackles."
"Not exactly subtle," Jared managed, once his heart stopped doing awkward flip-flops in his chest. "Shouldn't undercover names be ordinary things like Steve?"
"They are, usually."
"Then why didn't you-" Jared started.
To Jared's complete and utter surprise, Jensen looked suddenly shy. "You know, I've been asking myself that question since I got here. I'm still not really sure."
"And how much of-" Jared gestured vaguely at the resort "-that was you?"
"More than I was really comfortable with, I can tell you that." Jensen sighed. "Jeff was right about that."
"My old mentor," Jensen said. "Who is currently on a slab in the back of a helicopter thanks to me." That heaviness was back in his voice and Jared's insides twisted as this information put a new spin on the whole situation.
Screwing up his courage, Jared offered Jensen a tentative smile. "Any chance you want to go to a wedding with me?"
Jensen answered him with a radiant smile that was probably the most honest expression that Jared thought he'd seen him wearing yet. "Why do you think I came back? Thought you'd never ask."
"And… after that?"
"Dunno," Jensen said. "But I think it could be good. Us."
"Yeah," Jared agreed, encircling one of Jensen's wrists in a light grip and pressing his other hand to Jensen's cheek. Jensen met his searching gaze head on and Jared felt almost giddy with the rising joy inside of him. "Me too," he murmured against Jensen's skin before catching his mouth in a kiss that was as sweet and deep as he knew how to make it.
And he didn't know where this was going, but he was going to enjoy finding out. If they did get married, though, they were definitely going to fucking elope.