Jensen's sleep was broken and distracted, plagued by the discomfort of being in an unusual place and the wisps of nightmares that he was glad not to remember when he woke up.
After breakfast, he started his first training session with Felicia and another scrawny-looking Teller named DJ. They walked him through the basics and then let Jensen give it a try himself.
To say that it didn't go well would have been an understatement. Mostly, it didn't go at all.
"Don't make that face," Felicia said, while Jensen scowled at the corner of her desk. "It's your first attempt. I'd have been shocked if you'd succeeded, honestly."
"If you say so," Jensen said dubiously. After an hour of following Felicia's instructions on how to tap into his magic, he was more than a little disheartened that he hadn't felt so much as a twitch of anything remotely magic-like. He wasn't used to being bad at things. "But shouldn't I have been able to feel something?"
Felicia shrugged, unconcerned. "Not necessarily. And it's not a race, anyway."
"Should I keep trying?"
"Not today. Don't want to overdo it. Think of it like using muscles that you haven't worked out in a while: you're going to strain something if you try to do too much too soon."
"Telling the prophecy is only a small part of what we do here anyway," DJ chimed in. "Even if it takes a while to get the hang of it, we can still use your help."
"Interpreting," Felicia said. "Prophecies are no use to us unless we can interpret them ahead of time."
"Hence the mess." DJ gestured at the avalanche of paper on his desk. "We need to collate the various prophecies together and do our best to figure out what they mean before they come to pass. Then we pass that information on to Jeff so he can make plans for the future."
"The books over there list the most common interpretations," Felicia said, pointing at a pair of bookshelves filled to overflowing with massive black-spined tomes. "And we add to them as we go. They're helpful for cross-referencing."
"I can probably help with that," Jensen offered. "I got a lot of practice at interpreting prophecies when I was trying to… you know."
"Make up shit that the Ministry would buy as resolutions?" DJ finished, with a grin. "I'll bet."
"I still can't believe you've been successfully duping the Ministry since you were a teenager," Felicia said. "I don't know any other Teller who's lasted that long."
Jensen shrugged, a little bashfully. "I just spent a lot of time reading the prophecies in the public records hall, is all. Learning the standard patterns of interpretation and stuff like that."
DJ raised a hand. "I motion to have Jensen do all the cross-referencing from now on."
"Motion seconded and carried," Felicia said, with a serious demeanor that didn't crack until she caught sight of the expression on Jensen's face. "Don't worry, we wouldn't throw you in at the deep end like that. But seriously, an extra pair of eyes will be hella helpful."
"Whose prophecies are they?" Jensen wanted to know.
"The members of the resistance, mainly. Sometimes our undercover guys at the Ministry of Future Affairs get a hold of the Teller machine prophecies for some of the government bigwigs, but it's a bit risky so we try to avoid it." Her mouth twisted into a wry grimace. "It's not exactly easy to waltz out of the building with a copy of the president's prophecy."
"I'll bet." Jensen looked at the massive stack of handwritten prophecies on DJ's desk. "I didn't realize that there were so many people in the resistance."
"There's more than you might expect, since most of them live topside," Felicia said. "But the reason we've got so many prophecies to go through is that we try to get one from each of them at least every other month."
"The prophecies change that often?" Jensen asked, surprised. "Why does the government do mandated prophecy-giving only once a year, then?"
DJ shrugged. "Efficiency, mostly. And the machines can burn out if they're overused."
"So can we," Felicia said. She looked at Jensen. "We can't run forever. Three prophecies a day is about my max before I start to get tired, and it's not unusual for a Teller to pass out if they give too many prophecies in a row."
"She's better than me," DJ put in. "Three a day would knock me right out."
Jensen frowned. "Is that the case with all magic? Because Jared used his magic to convince me that it was real and it didn't seem like he had much trouble with it."
Felicia hummed thoughtfully. "It depends on the type of magic. Some abilities take more effort than others."
"Also, Jared's a tank," DJ said. "His endurance is scary-high."
"Huh," Jensen said, and very carefully did not think of how else he might interpret that sentence. "Don't know that mine's going to be all that impressive. I'm not exactly a fan of working out."
Felicia waved off his concerns. "Don't worry about it. It's like everything else: your body will adjust."
"If I ever figure out how to do it," Jensen muttered.
"You will," Felicia said. She slapped him on the back hard enough to make his skin sting, then stood. "Come on. Time for lunch."
"And more practice after that?"
Felicia grinned. "Calm down, tiger. I've got something else in mind for you to do."
Jensen looked at the wickedness in her expression and abruptly had a bad feeling about this.
Motherfucking filing. Jensen hated everything.
"Knock, knock," a voice said, and Jensen glanced up from where he was tying his shoelaces to see Jared leaning in the doorway of his room. He was dressed in casual clothes for the first time since Jensen had met him; Jensen tried not to get distracted by the endless stretch of denim-clad legs.
"Jared," he said, surprised but not displeased. "What are you doing here?"
Jared, Jensen had discovered, didn't spend a great deal of time at the HQ and, when he was there, Jensen was usually busy in the Teller office. As a result, Jensen had seen Jared all of twice in the three weeks since he'd arrived. He told himself that it didn't bother him. And refused to think about why it might bother him in the first place.
Jared shrugged. "Thought I'd pop by. Want to come on a field trip with me?"
Jensen blinked. "A what?"
"Field trip. Been awhile since you've seen the sun," Jared said, pointing one finger upwards. "Thought you might be missing it."
"I… into the city?" Jensen had tentatively asked Danneel about the process for getting permission to leave the base exactly once. When he'd realized that, for him, it was all but impossible to get it, he'd given up hoping.
"Yep," Jared said, looking rather pleased with himself.
"Am I allowed?"
"Why not? Unless you're planning to run. You aren't, are you?"
Jensen rolled his eyes. "I hardly think I'd tell you if I was."
"Ah," Jared said, grinning hugely. "But you forget that I can tell when you lie."
"Bullshit. Also, not what I meant. Aren't I still on the government's watch list?"
"That's what disguises are for." Jared pulled a pleading face. "Come on, Jensen. Just for a couple of hours. It'll do you good."
"I have to ask Felicia," Jensen said, which was totally a yes.
Jared whooped, his delighted smile making him look more like a little kid than a member of an underground rebellion. "Great! I'll grab us some breakfast while you talk to Felicia. Meet you in the Teller office!"
He fairly bounced out the door, and Jensen shook his head, unable to curb his smile.
Felicia had given him permission to take the day off, as he'd known she would. His mammoth effort towards organizing their files was actually starting to bear fruit and could be safely left for another day, and they both agreed that some time off from his Teller training wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Jensen didn't much appreciate the way both of her eyebrows went winging up her forehead when he told her where he was going - or, more accurately, with whom he was going there - but he hadn't really expected anything less.
"I promise to bring him back in one piece!" Jared said, with a beaming grin that made Felicia laugh.
"You'd better. Where else am I going to get such nice eye candy?"
"Aw, baby, why you gotta be like that?" DJ asked, and Jared and Jensen beat a hasty retreat before they could get drawn into it.
"Breakfast," Jared said as they headed down the hall, handing Jensen a bagel.
"What a gentleman," Jensen said dryly. "Where to now?"
"Costume department," Jared said, leading Jensen down a hallway that he hadn't traveled before. "A couple quick changes and you'll be able to walk down the street without worrying about being arrested."
"Well, that's a relief."
Jared grinned. "I figured it might be. This way."
The room that Jared led him to looked like a dressing room, complete with a chair in front of a large mirror and cupboards that looked full to bursting with clothes. It also contained one impishly grinning Danneel, holding a pair of scissors.
Jensen halted, just inside the door. "What are you doing here?"
"Danny's going to cut your hair for you," Jared said, putting hands on his shoulders and steering him forward.
Danneel winked at him. "Don't worry. I won't make you hideous."
"To be fair, I don't think anything could make him hideous," Jared said, probably because he was a cruel bastard who liked seeing Jensen blush.
"If you're not going to be helpful, you can shut up. I was a beautician before I became a rebel," she told Jensen. "So you can trust me when I say that I know what I'm doing."
"Just sit down already," Jared said. "It'll be fine, I promise."
It was a stupid thing to be nervous about. "Be gentle with me," Jensen deadpanned at her, sitting down with studied calm.
Danneel sighed. "You are no fun at all."
15 minutes later, Jensen was looking at his own shocked eyes in the mirror that Danneel had produced for him. He'd always had a tendency towards longer hair - not Jared-long, but enough to curl around his ears and hang low across his brow. Danneel had shortened it considerably, and rumpled into a mess of soft spikes. It looked good, Jensen had to admit.
Jared wolf-whistled. "Looking good there, Jensen! Danny, I stand in awe of your skills."
"Told you," Danneel said smugly. "What do you think, Jensen?"
"It's good," he said, still a little stunned at how different it made his face look. "Thanks."
"My pleasure. What do you think, Jared? Does he pass muster?"
Jared looked him up and down. "We need one more thing." He reached into his pocket and produced a pair of wire-rimmed glasses. "Try these."
"Seriously?" Jensen raised an eyebrow at him. "You do realize that Superman isn't real, I hope."
Jared grinned. "Actually, Clark Kent had something there; you'll be amazed at how much a pair of glasses will change your appearance. And you're not wearing a suit for once, which is nothing short of a miracle. Fess up, you were born wearing one, weren't you?"
"Ha ha," Jensen said, slipping on the glasses. The lenses were obviously just plain glass, so they didn't impede his vision, although the frames were a bit distracting. "Well?" he asked, turning towards Jared. "Will I do?"
"Perfect," Jared said, after a pause so brief that Jensen nearly missed it. "You ready to go?"
Jensen nodded, and waved goodbye to Danneel as Jared led the way back out into the hallway.
He knew where the door out of the HQ was located, thanks to Danneel's map, though he'd never bothered to go there himself. Jared was clearly on autopilot as he led the way there, which made sense considering how often he left the base.
The door was blocked by a pretty blonde girl about Jared's age who looked vaguely familiar. She didn't have a gun, but Jensen suspected that she was probably a Warden, which made it something of a moot point.
"Hey Jared," the guard said. "Looks like you've picked up a shadow."
"This is Jensen," Jared said, gesturing between them. "Also known as the New Guy and the Cute One. Jensen, meet Alona. Jeff signed off on it," he added, passing over a piece of paper while Jensen blushed furiously and tried to set him on fire with his brain.
"Nice to meet you, Jensen," Alona said, somehow managing to resist the urge to laugh. She gave the paper a once-over, then nodded. "You're good to go. Don't cause too much trouble."
"Trouble?" Jared asked, with mock affront. "Me?"
"You," Alona agreed.
"Well, I never. Come on, Jensen," Jared said, seizing Jensen's wrist and dragging him bodily towards the door.
"Save me," Jensen mouthed at Alona as he was dragged past, and she laughed.
"Have fun!" she called after them.
The door opened into the back of the restaurant, which Jensen really should have been expecting. Jared hauled him out a side door before any of the people working in the restaurant saw them, which was fine with Jensen.
Mostly because he was distracted by the sight of the ordinary street outside: the towering buildings and the steady traffic and the small patch of blue sky high above.
He hadn't realized how much he'd missed the sky.
Jensen tipped his head back, closing his eyes at the feeling of the sun on his face. The regular noises of the city echoed in his ears, infinitely familiar after weeks of muffled, echoing stillness. It was wonderful and oddly overwhelming, and Jensen didn't know how long he stood there, soaking it all in before he opened his eyes.
Jared was watching him. "You good?" he asked.
"Yeah," Jensen said, feeling a smile curving his lips. "Just… gimme a sec."
"You can have as many secs as you need."
Jared was good as his word, waiting patiently while Jensen acclimated to his surroundings. Eventually, Jensen came back to himself and he scrubbed a hand down the back of his neck.
"Sorry," he said, awkwardly.
"Nonsense," Jared said, waving him off. "That's why we're up here. And we've got no need to rush. We can do whatever you want."
Jensen hesitated. "Maybe… a walk?" he suggested. His first impulse was to check in on his family, on Chris, on what was left of the life he'd abandoned, but he knew it was a foolish thought. And he had the sudden desire to reacquaint himself with the city that he'd grown up in.
And Jared smiled. "Works for me."
They wandered around for several hours, blending in with the general hubbub of the city more easily than Jensen had expected. He couldn't stop himself from stiffening every time a city clock turned their way, or someone stood too close at a crosswalk. He felt like all it would take was one look and everyone would know who he was.
"Relax," Jared murmured in his ear, one hand skimming comfortingly down Jensen's arm. "They're more likely to pay attention if you're nervous for no reason."
"How do you do this all the time?" Jensen whispered back, trying to decide if the person walking just ahead of them was listening in on their conversation. "I'd go mental."
Jared chuckled. "Practice. And some decent acting skills. You ready for lunch?"
Jared bought him lunch from a street vendor and then veered towards the park. "No point in coming all the way up here just to sit inside and eat!" he grinned. "Let's go find a bench."
And Jensen couldn't deny the desire to soak in the sun for as long as possible, so he didn't protest.
They found a bench in fairly short order. Jared chatted aimlessly while they ate, because apparently he was capable of talking and inhaling food at the same time. Jensen wasn't sure whether to be impressed or horrified.
"So," Jared said, once their food was gone. "How are you settling in at HQ?"
Jensen darted a sharp glance around them, taking in all the people within earshot. "Should we be talking about this here?"
Jared winked at him. "It's all cool. One of the benefits of being a Warden: as far as all these people know, there's nothing to overhear."
"You can block sound? Seriously?" Jared nodded. "What else can you block?"
"Depends on what I want to block." Jared slouched lower on the bench, legs sprawling lazily. "And right now, I want to have a conversation with you without being overheard."
"Couldn't we have done that at HQ?" Jensen asked.
"Yeah," Jared said easily. "But you're more comfortable here. And I know how easy it is to go stir crazy when you're trapped inside with a bunch of strangers."
Jensen looked down at his hands. "It's not that I don't like them-"
"But you don't know them yet," Jared finished. "It's okay. I get it."
"I don't know you either," Jensen felt the need to point out.
"And you don't need to talk to me if you don't want to," Jared said. He wadded up the wrapping from his hot dog and pitched it into a nearby trash can. "I won't hold it against you. But if you want someone to talk to, I'm here."
Jensen was silent for a moment. "I'm settling in fine, I guess," he said finally. Because he did want to talk to Jared, even though he wasn't really sure he wanted to know why that seemed preferable to Danny or Felicia or any of the other people he'd met.
You always were a crusher, Chris' voice said in his mind. Jensen mentally told him to fuck off.
"How's the training going?"
Jensen gave him a sour look and Jared winced.
"That good, huh?"
Jensen snorted. "It's a complete non-starter. No matter what Felicia and DJ try, it doesn't work. I couldn't predict the weather, let alone a person's future."
"Hey, predicting the weather isn't that easy either. What does Jeff have to say about it?"
Jensen shrugged, picking at a loose thread on his jeans. "Dunno. I haven't talked to him in a while. But it's obvious that Felicia's got better things to do than keep wasting her time with me."
Jared hummed thoughtfully. "You think he's going to stop the training?"
Jensen spread his hands helplessly. "What choice does he have? If I have magic, it's not working out how he wanted it to."
"Do you think you don't have magic?"
"Fuck, I don't know." Jensen raked his hands through his hair, frustrated. "You know, when I got my first prophecy, I genuinely thought that I was just bad at interpreting. Everyone told me that it would be obvious when a prophecy got resolved, but I never thought so." He shook his head, a wry smile twisting his mouth. "I was so damn nervous at my first debrief, you have no idea. I'd cobbled together a flimsy list of things that I thought, maybe, could have been the resolutions to my prophecies, but I was honestly expecting to get slapped with a Misinterpretation Violation right then and there."
"What happened?" Jared asked quietly.
Jensen snorted. "What else? I got my A7183 form and went to one of the Teller machines for my new prophecy, just like everyone else. I guess it's pretty normal for teenagers to be nervous at debriefs. It wasn't until the second year that I started getting a clue, but it took a good four years of prophecies that were completely wrong before I admitted it to myself."
"Did you tell anyone?" Jared asked.
"Fuck no. I didn't dare. Started spending a lot of time looking up standard prophecy interpretations instead. And doing what I could to make my prophecies come true." He quirked a grin at Jared. "Like the year I bought a motorcycle for the express purpose of crashing it into a tree."
Jared winced. "Ouch. You're very brave."
Jensen made a face. "I didn't have much choice."
His fingers brushed against Jensen's cheek, coaxing him to turn and meet his eyes. "Doesn't mean it wasn't brave of you to face the problem head-on."
"Yeah, well…" Jensen shrugged off the touch, feeling unaccountably awkward with the honest praise. "The point I'm trying to make is that I know I'm not normal. But after all the work I've done with Felicia, it's hard to have faith that it's because I'm magic."
A moment of silence fell between them.
"Are you upset with me?" Jared asked and Jensen blinked at him.
"If you're right and you don't have magic, you would have been fine to go through Extraction."
Jensen was silent for a long moment, thinking it over. "No," he decided finally.
"No, I'm not sorry you took me. Don't get me wrong," he hurried to add, "I'm kind of pissed at the idea that this whole situation could have been avoided, but I'd rather be where I am now than risk turning into a - a robot person." Daring greatly, he bumped his shoulder into Jared's. "And you're not such bad company."
Jared's beaming smile warmed him nearly as much as the overhead sun. Fuck.
"Yeah? I'm glad. You're much too nice to get turned into a government drone."
"Gee, thanks." Jensen sighed, a little wistfully. "I guess we ought to be getting back soon, huh?"
Jared shrugged. "There's still no rush. Gotta make the most of your first day topside in nearly a month."
"Mm," Jensen said absently, most of his attention on what he'd really rather be doing right now.
"You want to see them?" Jared asked, so nonchalantly that it took Jensen a moment to decide that he'd heard what he had.
"I can do that?"
"See? Yes. Talk to, hug or otherwise interact with? Not so much. But we can watch from afar and make sure that everything's okay."
"Better not," Jensen decided, after several long moments thought. He offered Jared a weak smile. "Not sure I trust my willpower if I was close enough to touch."
"I've been keeping track of them," Jared offered unexpectedly. Jensen turned an incredulous look on him, and Jared ducked his head. "Nothing major. But I've been keeping an eye out for their names in the government records. There's been no interest in them since you vanished."
Jensen let out an explosive breath. "Oh, thank goodness."
"You miss them," Jared said, not really a question.
"Yeah." Jensen looked out across the park, taking in the familiar landscape and the not-so distant loom of the buildings. "Do you really believe this rebellion is going to change anything?" he asked, before he'd quite realized that he was going to.
"I do," Jared said, so staunchly that Jensen turned to look at him. There was a determined, hopeful shine in Jared's eyes that Jensen had never seen before. "This world we live in is wrong, Jensen. It's so dependent on rules and order that no one's able to be an individual, not really. And it's up to us to make it a better place for everyone: normal people and magic users both. It might not change quickly, but it will change. We'll make sure of it."
"Wow," Jensen said, not sure what else to say. "I don't know if I've ever believed in something that strongly."
"Thanks to my job, I've seen a lot of terrible things happen to good people," Jared said, his voice uncharacteristically hushed. "It makes you want to do something. And I believe that Jeff can get us there."
"Huh," Jensen said thoughtfully.
They sat side by side for several long minutes, the silence between them deep but not uncomfortable. A glance to the side revealed Jared slouched back in the bench, looking content to sit there all day. Jensen felt a pulse of affection that he quickly stifled.
He patted Jared's knee and stood. "Come on. I think I've had enough fresh air for one day."
"You sure?" Jared asked. He climbed to his feet, looking down the few inches between their heights. "We can stay."
Jensen shook his head. "We've got a rebellion to support, right? I'll just look forward to our next trip."
"Sounds like a plan. Mind if we take the long way back to the HQ? It's been a while since I took the time just to wander."
"Sure," Jensen said, and they fell in step together.
"The glasses suit you, by the way," Jared said, a propos of nothing.
"Uh, thanks, I guess?"
Dimples carved deeply in Jared's cheeks as he grinned. "You're welcome."
It was edging close to sunset by the time they finally made their way back to the restaurant. Jensen tried not to sigh too audibly as he passed through the deceptively flimsy-looking door leading down to the HQ, though he didn't doubt for a moment that Jared had noticed.
Because Jared was apparently a gentleman, he escorted Jensen all the way back to his room instead of letting him make his own way there.
"Thanks," Jensen said, when they finally reached his green-splashed door. "That was nice."
Jared smiled. "It was my pleasure." He swayed a little in place, and Jensen was absolutely sure he was about to be kissed. He stilled, hardly daring to breathe.
But then Jared straightened and an expression that Jensen couldn't parse flitted across his face. "See you later, Jensen," Jared said, and turned to go.
"Why me?" Jensen blurted.
Jared stopped and turned back to him. "Why you, what?"
"You met with all of the people who had a death prophecy last year, right?"
"They can't all be here; it's not practical and too dangerous for you to get them all out besides. So why did you pick me to try and rescue?"
"Do you remember the first thing I said to you?" Jared asked, after a silence long enough that Jensen had all but given up getting an answer.
No, actually he didn't. "Uh…"
"'Come with me if you want to live'. It's the first thing I say to everyone when I walk in that room. Normally, people are confused, or maybe irritated. Once in a while, someone actually finds it funny."
Jensen bit his tongue on an impatient 'and?'.
"I screened 17 people this year because of that prophecy," Jared continued. His expression was somewhere between gentle and sad as he added, "and you were the only one out of all of them to look relieved when I said it."
"So," Danneel said, as she set her tray down on the table and sat across from Jensen. "How was your date?"
"Good morning, Danneel. I slept well, thanks for asking," Jensen said, not looking up from his toast. "It wasn't a date."
Danneel made an indelicate sound. "Nice try. You're practically floating."
"You're insane." Jensen paused to swallow a mouthful. "Jared was just being nice. He's like that with everybody."
"You know," Danneel said, in a tone of voice that had Jensen on immediate alert. Things never went well when women used that voice. "Jared doesn't usually visit that often."
"Maybe there are big things going on at the Ministry of Future Affairs," Jensen suggested blandly.
Danneel rolled her eyes. "As if. Maybe it's because they predict the future for a living, but the Future Affairs people have no sense of spontaneity at all."
"Felicia and DJ could probably give them a lesson or two."
"Unleashing both of them on an unsuspecting public would be cruel and unusual punishment. Heads would probably explode." Danneel pointed her fork at him. "And don't try and distract me. We're talking about this whether you like it or not."
"Talk about what, exactly?" Jensen asked, because he wasn't about to make it easy for her.
She made a face at him. "Nice try. You're allowed to admit it, you know."
"That's nice. And what, exactly, am I supposed to be admitting?"
"That you're in love with Jared, obviously."
Jensen, who had chosen that moment to swallow a mouthful of pasta, promptly started choking. "Ngh! Agh, what?!" he managed, once he'd managed to start breathing again.
Danneel, the traitor, laughed at him. "You are so cute when you go all red like that."
"What, when I'm busy choking to death?" Jensen wiped angrily at the mess on his face, making a face at the stains on his shirt. "You do realize that I'm not exactly rolling in clean clothes right now, I hope."
"Whatever." Danneel waved him off. "We'll ask Jared to pick you up a new one. I'm sure he's got a very comprehensive idea of what size you are."
"Stop it." Jensen held up a hand to halt her protests. "No, I mean it. This isn't funny, Danny."
Her expression softened. "I'm not trying to be funny. I think you two could be good together. You can't honestly think you can deny that you like him."
"Sure, he's hot," Jensen tried, only to be cut off by a derisive snort from Danneel.
"So's Tamoh, and you won't even give him the time of day." She paused. "And so am I, for that matter. Jared's not the only game in town."
Okay, now Jensen felt awkward. "Ah, Danny, I-"
"Spare me," she said, and now it was her turn to hold up a quelling hand. "It was just an example. I'm not secretly pining after you, no matter how unreasonably attractive you are. Although," she added, with a wicked smirk, "If you keep blushing like that, I might change my mind."
She laughed. "Oh, lighten up already. Seriously, you're so repressed. Jared likes you too, you know," she said, and Jensen was glad that he'd already given up on eating or he might actually have done himself in this time. "Why do you think he's been around the base so much since you got here?"
"He's pining for Jeff?" Jensen tried.
Danneel wrinkled her nose. "Oh yuck. I did not need that mental image. They're like father and son."
Jensen smirked at her. "You're welcome."
"And you're a coward. Jensen," she said, reaching out to cup her hands over Jensen's. "What are you so afraid of?"
"Nothing. I don't know. It doesn't matter." Jensen grabbed his half-full tray and stood. "I should get to work."
Danneel sighed. "If you weren't a Teller, I'd make you get a love reading from Felicia. Maybe that would be enough to kick your ass into gear."
"I have never been so delighted to spoil your fun. Later, Danny!"
"We are not done talking about this!" Danneel shouted after him.
"We so totally are!" Jensen shouted back, and beat a hasty retreat while the getting was good.
Four days later, Jensen opened his eyes after yet another unsuccessful attempt at telling Felicia's prophecy to find Jeff watching the proceedings.
"Hey, Jeff," Felicia said easily. "You got something for us?"
"Actually," Jeff said. "I was hoping to talk to Jensen."
Felicia flicked a look at Jensen that was at once rueful and unsurprised. "Figured you might be coming by sometime soon."
Jeff ignored her and turned his attention to Jensen, who felt kind of like sinking through the floor under his steady gaze. "You got a minute?"
"Sure," Jensen said, without letting on about the turmoil inside him.
"You send him back in one piece, y'hear?" Felicia called after them, as Jeff led the way out of the room.
"I always knew you loved me!" Jensen shouted over his shoulder, and refused to quail under the thoughtful look Jeff gave him.
"You're much prettier than DJ, is all!"
"Hey now," DJ protested. "I'm gorgeous. Right, Jeff?"
"I'm staying out of this," Jeff said, and beat a tactical retreat with Jensen at his heels.
"Is it always like that in there?" he asked, as they walked towards his office.
"Pretty much," Jensen agreed. "They bring out the worst in each other when it comes to teasing, I think."
"Felicia's always like that," Jeff said. "Everyone else gets sucked into her orbit. DJ never stood a chance."
Jensen made a noise of agreement and they made the rest of the trip in a silence that he couldn't help but find incredibly awkward. Of all the people that Jensen had got to know at the HQ, Jeff had to be the one he knew the least about. Perhaps it was because he was the man in charge and tried to maintain a distance between himself and the rest of the team. Jensen suspected it was more because Jeff was a secretive bastard who liked to play everything so close to the chest that even he didn't know the whole truth.
"Take a seat," Jeff said, as they walked into his office. "How have you been settling in?"
"Fine," Jensen said, sitting down. "But that's not why you want to talk to me."
Jeff grinned ruefully. "Not a fan of pleasantries, huh? I can appreciate that." He sighed heavily. "I'm cutting back your training time with Felicia."
Jensen nodded, swallowing down his emotions. Because he might have seen this coming a mile away, but that didn't make him feel any less useless. "That's fair."
"She's too valuable to spend so much of her time with you when…" Here, Jeff trailed off, looking awkward.
"When you're not sure I even have any magic ability," Jensen said for him.
"I'm not going to stop your training entirely," Jeff said, in the tone of voice of someone desperately trying to seem fair and reasonable. "Jared pegged you as a magic user and he's got a real eye for it. I trust his judgment. But I can't afford to be down one Teller until you get it figured out."
"What am I going to do instead?" Jensen asked.
Jeff sighed again. "I don't suppose you know how to cook?"
Jensen snorted. "Only if you like your water burnt."
"I was afraid you would say that." Jeff scrubbed a hand over his face. "I'll ask around the different departments and see if anyone needs help."
"Great," Jensen said, without enthusiasm.
"I'm sorry, Jensen, I know-"
The door chose that moment to bang open and Jensen turned in his seat to see Chad striding in, most of his attention on the sheaf of paper in his hands. Chad was one of the Farseers who held an undercover position with the military. He was also utterly insane, judging by the limited interactions that Jensen had had with him.
"Jeff, I need your help with a vehicle requisit- oh, sorry," he said, as he caught sight of Jensen. "Didn't know you were busy."
"That is usually what the closed door means," Jeff said, though not unkindly. "We're actually just finishing up, so come on in. Right, Jensen?"
"Right," Jensen echoed, trying not to feel stung at being so summarily dismissed. He climbed to his feet and Chad wasted no time in crowding up against the desk to show Jeff his paperwork.
"I need to requisition a class one vehicle with a C37 drive system," he said, as Jensen started for the door. "But I can't figure out what form this stupid fucking paperwork is asking me for."
"Hmm," Jeff said, the universal sound of people who didn't know what the fuck they were talking about. "I think you need-"
"A 77VF," Jensen said, pausing just inside the door to look back at both of them.
Jeff blinked. "A what?"
"A 77VF." Jensen walked back across the room and, after getting a nod from Chad, leaned in to point out the relevant information on the top page. "See here? The VF series of forms are for military requisitions of government property and the 77VF is for class one vehicles. It's listed right here."
It took about three minutes to explain, and a further 15 to walk Chad through the process. Jeff watched wordlessly while Jensen got Chad sorted.
"Thanks," Chad said, once they were finished. "You totally saved me."
"No problem," Jensen said, and stood awkwardly around while Chad said his goodbyes and left.
"How did you know that?" Jeff asked, almost mildly.
Jensen hunched one shoulder in an awkward shrug. "I was a legal consultant before… before. Governmental paperwork procedures were mandatory knowledge."
"Huh." Jeff looked at him with a decidedly appraising eye.
"Uh," Jensen said, fighting the urge to fidget. "What?"
"I've changed my mind," Jeff said. "I think I know just the job for you."