That's what Jensen ended up doing. Jeff's glorified personal secretary. How humiliating.
Jeff set him up with a desk and a filing cabinet in the antechamber to his office. Jensen's first task was to organize the chaos of Jeff's files - which was a considerable amount of chaos. The second was to deal with the disaster area masquerading as a filing room attached to the antechamber.
Jensen was not best pleased.
Jared came by on the afternoon of his third day.
"Jensen?" he asked, with what Jensen thought was an unnecessary amount of trepidation in his voice. "You in here?"
"I can hardly be anywhere else," Jensen replied tartly. He strode out of the filing room and dropped the latest box on his desk with a thump. "It'll take me weeks to get all this shit organized. These files are a disaster."
"Having fun then, I see."
"I'm not sure it can even be considered filing," Jensen said, warming to the topic. "More like a dumping ground for every piece of paper with something approximately resembling words on it that Jeff has come across in the past fifty years."
"So you're not having fun."
"Do you know how well educated I am?" Jensen demanded.
"Very?" Jared suggested.
"Extremely well educated! I am qualified in three different branches of legal consulting. I graduated top in my class and bill out more per hour than most people make in a month! I did not fast track my MBA to play secretary to a jumped-up, secretive-"
"It could be worse?" Jared cut in.
"Could it indeed?" Jensen said sourly.
Jared offered a sheepish little shrug. "You could be sweeping the floors?"
Jensen blinked at him, then snorted out a little laugh despite himself. "I guess that's true." He looked at the rather dusty mess all over his desk and huffed. "If I'd ever stopped to consider the glamorous life of a revolutionary, this is not what I'd have pictured."
"Try not to think about it too much or you'll lose all sense of majesty." Jared hesitated. "I heard that your training time with Felicia got cut back?"
"For all the difference it makes." Jensen sighed heavily. "I'm down to twice a week. And in the meantime," Jensen took the top folder out of the box and slapped it on the desk, "I've got fucking filing to do."
He sat down and started pulling apart the folder with perhaps more vehemence than was necessary. After a moment, he realized that Jared was still standing there. "What?" he snapped.
"You know what you need?" Jared asked.
"I have a feeling you're going to tell me."
"You need a way to blow off some steam." Jared cocked his head in invitation. "You want to spar?"
Jensen made an incredulous face. "You can't honestly think that I know how to fight. There's a reason why Jeff decided to make me his secretary. Even if I am hideously overqualified. I'm a desk monkey, Jared."
"So, I'll teach you," Jared said, as if it really was that easy. "You're part of the resistance now, Jensen. Don't you think it would be handy to know how to fend off attackers?"
"If the HQ ever gets attacked, I intend to hide behind all this paperwork," Jensen said. "They'll never find me."
"Jensen," Jared protested. He grinned that damnably infectious grin. "Come on. You need a break. And I'm afraid that we're going to discover that your magic power is setting things on fire with your eyes if I leave you here on your own for much longer."
"Fine," Jensen surrendered with a sigh. "But I'm going to suck at it."
"As long as you suck less when you leave than when we start, it's all good. And either way, it gets you away from your paperwork."
"There is that," Jensen agreed. "You got some workout clothes I can borrow?"
Which was how Jensen found himself in one of the exercise rooms in a too-large pair of basketball shorts, facing off against Jared on a large exercise mat.
"If you kill me, I'm going to be very unhappy with you," Jensen told him.
Jared's grin flashed. "Why do you assume that I'm any good at this myself? I could have two left feet and an inner ear imbalance."
"Somehow I doubt it. So?" Jensen asked. "How do we do this?"
"First, you need to learn how to fall. Come here."
"'Please' is always nice," Jensen said, even as he did as Jared had asked. He was now only a few hand spans away from Jared, which he did his level best to ignore.
What followed was about 20 minutes of verbal instruction on the proper way to fall after a hit, followed by what felt like a small eternity of being thrown around like a ragdoll. Jared might as well have been a fucking mountain for all the give there was in his stance and, even though Jensen could tell he was being careful, it didn't stop every fall from punching the breath out of his lungs like he'd just run headfirst into a brick wall. His back was one going to be one big bruise by the time they were finished.
"I think that's enough for one day," Jared said finally, while Jensen lay, flushed and panting, on the mat. "Nice work."
Jensen groaned at him. "Is that what you call it? Ugh, I don't think I can move."
"But do you feel better?"
"I feel exhausted and sweaty," Jensen said. "Is that an improvement?"
Jared chuckled. "You don't look like you're about to choke someone with a C41 form anymore, so I'd say so, yeah."
Jensen snorted. "Man, I'd choose a 6A Vacation Request form instead. Have you seen the size of that thing? Guaranteed windpipe blockage."
"I'll keep that in mind. Gimme your hand." Jared hauled him up with one fluid pull, then waited until Jensen was steady on his feet before letting go. "Either way, you look more relaxed."
"That's because I can't feel my limbs," Jensen retorted, but he had to admit that he didn't feel strung quite so tight.
Jared grinned, skin gleaming with a fine sheen of sweat, and Jensen thought that maybe this sparring stuff wasn't such a bad idea, after all.
The next day, Jensen was rather less sanguine about Jared's technique for releasing frustration.
"Wow," Danneel said, as Jensen hobbled into the mess hall at a speed approximately approaching turtle. "What happened to you?"
Jensen sat down gingerly, wincing as every muscle in his body protested the movement. "Jared decided I needed to learn how to spar."
He was unsurprised when Danneel looked amused. "Did he now? And you agreed, apparently."
"The more fool me," Jensen agreed. He put on a piteous expression. "Any chance you want to get breakfast for me? I'm not sure I can get back up."
A full tray was suddenly set down in front of Jensen.
"It'd do you good to walk more, you know," Jared said, sitting down across from him with his own overfull tray. "Gotta stretch out those muscles or they'll take even longer to get back to normal."
"What are you doing here?" Jensen demanded. "Don't you have a job?"
Jared shook his head. "Saturday," he said, which Jensen had to take his word for. It could be Christmas and he wouldn't know. "Had to stop in for my update; figured I'd see how you were doing."
"Indeed," Danneel said. Her tone was speculative as she added, "seems like you're making a lot of reports these days."
"I'm a conscientious worker," Jared said, without batting an eyelash. "I'm hoping to win Spy of the Month this time. I keep losing out to Chad."
Danneel snorted. "And if I didn't think you were lying before, that would clinch it. Chad? Was that the best you could come up with?"
Jared grinned at her. "I'm going to tell Chad that you have no faith in him. Seriously though, Jensen, how are you feeling?"
Jensen glared at him. "Guess."
"Bet you slept well, though." Jared shoveled a forkful of eggs into his mouth. "It'll be easier next time."
"No way," Jensen said immediately. "I'm not doing that again."
Jared pouted at him. "You can't quit now! No time like the present to learn a valuable new skill!"
"Not a chance," Jensen said, around a mouthful of porridge. "Never again."
He wasn't entirely sure how he went from that emphatic refusal to facing off against Jared again three days later, but Jensen was getting kind of used to having a life that didn't make any sense.
Mostly, he blamed Jared.
Somehow, despite his best intentions, sparring with Jared became part of Jensen's routine. It didn't happen every day, which was good because that might actually have killed him, but Jared stopped by a couple of times a week and badgered him until he gave in.
Jensen wasn't sure that he'd ever be able to take on anything more dangerous than a store window mannequin, but Jared had at least been telling the truth when he said that it did get better eventually. At least he wasn't black and blue all the time anymore.
"How's it going with Felicia?" Jared asked one day, nearly three months after Jensen had arrived at the HQ, while Jensen was trying to figure out the best line of attack to keep from ending up face-first on the mat in less than three seconds. "Any progress?"
Jensen shook his head. "None," he said shortly.
"Maybe there's another technique you can use for learning?" Jared suggested.
"Like what?" Jensen demanded. "It's not like there are a lot of ways to tell a fortune that don't involve telling a fucking fortune."
Jared held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, sorry. I get your point. Just trying to help."
"Hmph." Jensen circled Jared on the mat. "How do you train?"
"As a Warden?"
"By standing in a room by myself and practicing, to begin with. Once I got better at it, I started practicing with other people." He hesitated briefly. "You want to give it a try?"
"Like, as part of sparring?"
"I won't hurt you," Jared was quick to promise.
Jensen rolled his eyes. "Did I say you would? Dumbass." He considered for a moment. "How?"
Jared's expression brightened. "Well, you need to come a little closer, first."
His breath stuttered in his chest when Jared shook his head and took another huge step forward until they were close enough that their chests nearly brushed with every breath. "More like this. Momentum is not your friend against a Warden, trust me."
"Noted," Jensen said, and was relieved when it didn't come out sounding breathless.
"Now come at me," Jared said. "Slowly."
"Slowly?" Jensen smirked at him. "You need time to get ready?"
Jared shook his head. "I don't want to have to listen to you whining if you break your nose by running face first into an invisible wall."
"Hmph," Jensen said, then threw his elbow into a sharp jab aimed at Jared's side.
He felt the pain of the impact before he'd realized that his arm had stopped a solid five inches away from Jared's body. Jared's magic felt as solid as any real wall and Jensen had to be glad for Jared's insistence on close quarters. If he'd had the space to put his body's momentum into that blow, it would have hurt a lot more.
"Are you shielding your whole body?" Jensen asked, leaning his weight harder against the force wall between them. It didn't so much as quiver.
Jared shook his head, only the slight furrowing of his brow betraying the effort he was expending to keep Jensen at bay. "It's a waste of energy if I don't need to. I track your movements and set up small barriers accordingly."
"Right," Jensen said, and dropped into a kick instead.
There was a strange sort of rhythm to it, Jensen decided, after several minutes of him attacking and Jared blocking every blow before it could land. Almost more like dancing than fighting. They were both sheened in sweat, and Jensen was hyperconscious of the way Jared's eyes followed the sway of his body, watching for the next attack. His body was tingling all over where it had connected with Jared's defensive walls, and Jensen could feel his movements becoming tighter, more controlled as he tried to stop telegraphing his intentions.
"Looks like this is good practice for you, too," Jared said, voice only slightly tight. "Keep your elbows in."
Jensen grunted in understanding and adjusted accordingly. Jared's eyes focused on his arms, assessing the correction, and Jensen lashed out with a high kick while he was distracted, bracing himself for the impact.
Only this time there was no resistance and Jensen yelped as he toppled forward, his momentum throwing him off balance.
He fetched up against Jared's chest, which was shaking with the force of the laughter he was trying to suppress.
"Your face!" Jared managed, with barely stifled hilarity.
Jensen growled and shoved a hand into Jared's chest. "You dick! What did you do that…for…?"
The realization of just how close they were caught belatedly up to him at just the wrong moment, and Jensen found himself staring up at Jared, words forgotten.
"Jensen?" Jared asked, his voice hushed and unnaturally quiet after his previous hilarity. "You okay?"
Jensen knew what it meant to be in the opportune moment. He'd made a habit of finding them or making them up wholesale to use in his debriefs but, even in his life, there were some that had occurred all on their own. Take the job. Talk to him. Splurge on the ticket. Et cetera.
The choice was always the same: take it or play it safe.
Looking into Jared's face, Jensen couldn't bear the thought of letting this moment pass.
Slowly, he lifted his hand from Jared's chest and pressed it against his cheek. The sudden sharp inhale of Jared's breath was like a neon sign welcoming him in and Jensen found himself smiling as he arched up to press their lips together.
It was a gentle kiss, exploratory and rife with potential. One of Jared's hands crept down to encircle his waist and Jensen hummed in contentment, arching into his grip as their tongues tangled lazily.
"Wow," Jared breathed, when they parted.
"This is such a cliché," Jensen sighed. "While sparring? Seriously?"
Jared's grin flashed. "Nah. The real cliché would have been you swooning into my arms after I saved you from certain death at the hands of a corrupt government organization. I must admit, I was most disappointed."
Jensen laughed. "Oh, my mistake. I didn't mean to keep you waiting."
"I'm good at waiting," was all Jared said, before ducking low to press an open-mouthed kiss against the side of Jensen's neck.
Jensen's strangled inhale would have been embarrassing if he hadn't been so incredibly turned on right now.
"I hope that's not all you're good at," he managed, with what he thought was an impressive amount of sass given the way all the blood in his body was migrating south.
"Only one way to find out," Jared said, low and inviting, and neither of them had much else to say for a long time.
After that, Jensen's life took a turn for the awesome.
He still couldn't see Jared every day - the man had a cover to maintain, after all - but they made the most of the time they did have. They spent long hours in Jensen's room, learning each other by touch and taste, and finding out what made them gasp and come undone. Most of their sparring sessions degenerated into make-out sessions. Danneel managed to be both smug and delighted when she heard the news, and then promptly ensured that the entire HQ knew that they'd finally got their act together.
Jared swore that several people had made money on it, as well, which was just too embarrassing to consider.
When he wasn't with Jared, Jensen could generally be found either practicing in the Teller office - and getting increasingly less optimistic about the whole situation with every new failure - or sitting at his desk outside Jeff's office, being the best fucking secretary the man could have asked for.
It had taken him the better part of a fortnight to get Jeff's files in order and, since then, he'd been responsible for dealing with new information as it came in. Jeff received intelligence from what looked like every branch of the government, most of it encrypted to keep out prying eyes. Jeff told Jensen how he wanted the files sorted, but made it clear that Jensen wasn't to worry about the actual content of the updates he received. Jeff would take care of it.
The thing was that no one with two brain cells to rub together would ever accuse Jensen of being an idiot. All sorts of other unsavory things, perhaps, but not an idiot.
Which meant that Jeff should have known better to assume that he could put Jensen to work as his paper pusher and not expect him to figure things out that might be above his clearance level.
It was the work of an afternoon to figure out how to decode Jeff's system, after which point Jensen made a habit of skimming through all the information that crossed his desk. Most of it was dull and not worth the paper it was printed on, but some of it made Jensen shiver with the realization that the resistance wasn't quite as humanitarian as Jeff and Jared had made it out to be.
He felt his face grow pale when he read the number of casualties in a deliberate car crash, and about the electrical outage that knocked out the hospital's power and caused the death of three patients. A look through the drawer where he was supposed to file these reports revealed years' worth of similar 'accidents', all caused by the rebellion in its efforts to destabilize the government.
Jensen was glad that Jared didn't come by that day.
He should have realized, he supposed. It was naïve to think that there was such a thing as a bloodless coup, and he'd already pegged Jeff as the kind of guy who liked to spout off metaphors about omelets and eggs. Which didn't mean that it came as any less of a shock, but Jensen was starting to get used to those.
Ultimately, Jensen decided not to confront Jeff about it, although he kept reading all of Jeff's mail regardless. It wasn't like getting into a fight would accomplish anything more than getting him switched from secretarial work to floor sweeping, and he liked the opportunity to be in the loop about the resistance's activities. He also got to feel a smug sense of 'fuck you' towards Jeff every time he read something that was not for his eyes. Served the man right for making Jensen his fucking secretary.
Which was all well and good until the day the information he received was about Jared.
It was from someone in the President's office, and looked to have been written in a hurry. Jensen's eyes jumped from 'Padalecki' to 'guilty' to 'use of force permitted' and he wondered idly if this was what a panic attack felt like. Pulse racing, he jumped out of his chair and literally ran into Jeff's office, wild-eyed and not caring.
"Jensen?" Jeff asked, looking up from his work to fix him with a curious expression. "What's wrong?"
"It's," Jensen panted around his sudden panic, fighting to get the words out, "Jared. They're going to arrest him. Today."
Jeff's eyes flicked over to the piece of paper that Jensen still had in his hand and a complicated mix of anger and resignation flashed across his face. He sighed and waved a hand. "You'd better come in. Shut the door, please."
"It's a communication from the agent in the President's office," Jensen pressed, letting the door swing shut behind him as he charged forward. "They suspect Jared of being involved in the resistance."
"Yes," Jeff said steadily. "I know."
"Then what the hell are you waiting for?" Jensen demanded. "We need to get out there and help him!"
Jeff looked at him for a long moment. "Why don't you sit down?"
"Now!" Jeff snapped, with a growl of command that had Jensen cringing. He rubbed a hand over his face and, when he spoke again, it was in a carefully controlled voice. "Sit down. Please."
Jensen took a wary seat. "What's going on? We don't have time for this. Jared needs help!"
"Jensen," Jeff said, in a tone that was almost gentle. "We can't help him."
"What?" Jensen stared. "But, there's still time-"
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "But… why?!"
And Jeff sighed. "If you're ever in charge of something, something large and important, you'll learn that sometimes… sacrifices need to be made. Jared's one of our best undercover agents, but I can't risk the safety and security of every other member of this operation by tipping my hand too soon."
"You set him up," Jensen realized. He half-rose out of his chair, fury burning through the fear in his veins. "You son of a bitch, I can't believe-"
"No!" Jeff said sharply. "I've done a lot of things in my life that I can't be proud of, but that's not one of them."
"That man worships you!" Jensen yelled.
"And he knows just as well as I do that you can't win all the time. Look, all they have right now is suspicions, which means-"
"Absolutely fucking nothing and you know it! They'll put him through Extraction, Jeff! Turn Jared into one of those… those-"
Jeff's eyes looked terribly old. "Sometimes, you have to think of the greater good."
Jensen stood up. "No." And again, louder, "No!"
"Jensen," Jeff started, rising, but Jensen was already out the door and running down the hallway, his mind a blur.
"Hey, Jensen," Alona said, obviously surprised, when he careened around the corner leading to the main exit. Her posture straightened as he ran towards her, confused but not on guard, which gave Jensen the opportunity to cold-cock her before she had a chance to see the attack coming.
She went down like a sack of bricks, and Jensen paused just long enough to ease her to the floor before bolting for the door.
"Sorry," he muttered as he fumbled with the door handle. He could apologize properly later.
The door finally opened and Jensen tore through, barely remembering to pull it shut behind him as he went. He burst out of the restaurant and onto the street, careless of the startled glances being thrown his way as he turned in the direction of the Ministry of Future Affairs and started running.
He dodged and weaved through the crowded streets, chest heaving and head buzzing with the frantic need to find Jared and get him out of danger. His costume glasses had been left in his bedroom and he was absolutely certain that every single city clock was tracking his urgent progress through the streets and he could not have cared less. Let them arrest him. Put him through Extraction. Rip away his soul.
Just so long as he got Jared away first.
There was a police car parked outside the Ministry of Future Affairs as Jensen skidded to a stop across the street, chest heaving with exertion. He watched, horrified, as a trio of police officers appeared at the top of the stairs, flanking a tall, familiar figure.
"Jared," he gasped, stricken.
Jared's face was blank as the police officers escorted him down the steps and into the car. The sound of the door slamming closed behind him was exactly the same as Jensen's heart shattering.
This couldn't be happening. He'd been happy. For the first time in his miserable life, he'd actually been happy. And now Jared…
"No," Jensen breathed. It wasn't a yell, was scarcely even loud enough to be considered a sound at all.
The world gave a sudden, dizzying wrench and Jensen stumbled, cracking his knees hard against the pavement as he hit the ground. He groaned, hands clutching at his chest, which was burning with a pain he'd never felt before. Everything went white, then black, and Jensen bit his lip bloody to keep from screaming.
Then, suddenly, everything was back to normal, and Jensen nearly died of shock when he realized that Jared was slumped on the ground beside him, looking dazed but otherwise unharmed.
"Jensen?" Jared asked, muzzily. "Wha' happen?"
"I have no idea," Jensen said, wrapping an arm around Jared's waist and hauling for all he was worth. "But we're getting out of here."
Shouts of alarm rose up behind them as Jensen dragged Jared down the street and into the first convenient building he could find. The clock on the wall started to turn their way, and Jensen ducked under its sweeping gaze, praying that it wouldn't catch enough of them to attract attention. A closet loomed in front of them and Jensen hustled them both inside.
"Jared," he hissed.
"Holy shit," Jared said, shaking his head. "I feel like I just got hit by a truck."
"We don't have time for that! We need to find somewhere to lay low until we can get back to HQ. They'll be looking for us. Please tell me that you've got a, a safe house or something."
Jared nodded. "Yeah, we can - Jensen?" he said sharply. "Are you okay?"
But Jensen was too busy passing out to answer.
Jensen woke up in his room.
He blinked at the familiar ceiling for a long moment, mind hazy as he tried to figure out what had happened. His body felt like one big bruise and he wasn't sure he had the energy to lift his own head right now. What the fuck?
"Jensen?" Jared said, and Jensen discovered that he had more strength than he'd thought when he threw himself at his boyfriend and hugged him tightly enough to make his ribs creak.
"You're okay," he breathed, eyes closing with relief. "Thank goodness."
"I'm okay," Jared agreed, hugging him back. "Thanks to you."
Jensen cracked an eye open at that. "To me? What did I do?"
Jared hesitated. "It might be better to let Jeff explain."
The memory of his last meeting with Jeff flashed through Jensen's head and he groaned. "He's going to kill me," he said, letting his head drop to Jared's chest.
"Maybe," Jared agreed, and Jensen never thought he'd be so glad to hear that teasing tone directed at him again. "You think you can walk or should I carry you again?"
Jensen's head jerked up and he stared at Jared's gleeful grin in horror. "You didn't."
"Hey, what else was I supposed to do? You passed out while we were on the run. You should be grateful that I dragged your heavy ass all the way back here."
"There's nothing wrong with my ass," Jensen muttered, then yelped when Jared gave him a playful smack on said ass.
"Definitely not," Jared agreed. He shifted them towards the door. "Lean on me if you need to."
"Why am I so tired?" Jensen asked, as they started a slow shuffle out of the room. "I feel like my legs are made of noodles."
"You used a lot of magic back there," Jared said. The heartiness in his voice sounded decidedly forced. "It's no surprise that you're tired."
"What?!" Jensen stopped and stared at Jared, sure that his confusion was scrawled all over his face. "Jared, I didn't-"
Jared's smile was gentleness edged with unease. "Jeff will explain everything."
"As if," Jensen said, though he started walking again. "He loves secrets too much to tell anybody everything."
"Trust me," Jared said grimly. "This time, he hasn't got a whole lot of choice."
"So," Jeff said, once they were safely ensconced in his office. Jensen was having a hard time meeting his eyes, embarrassed yet not repentant about what he'd done. "Jared told me what happened. As did Alona."
"I'm not sorry," Jensen said, because he wanted to get that out in the open. "Well, I'm sorry I hit Alona, but I'm not sorry that I saved Jared." Like you should have done, his glare said loud and clear.
Jeff inclined his head, but made no other acknowledgement of the unspoken point. "Regardless of your feelings on the matter, the fact remains that you've put us in a difficult situation. Not only does the government now have definitive proof that we're here-"
"They didn't before?" Jensen asked, and Jared gave him a warning nudge.
"-but it also knows about you, Jensen." Jeff fixed him with a serious look. "Do you know what you did out there?"
"I - not really," Jensen admitted. "Everything happened so fast. There was this weird jolt? And then my chest started hurting and everything went black. And, when I opened my eyes, Jared was with me instead of in the police car."
Jared frowned. "I never got in the police car."
"What?" Jensen blinked at him. "I saw you!"
"I don't know what you saw, but the last thing I remember was having three police officers corner me in reception."
Jeff cleared his throat. "If I may? Jensen, it's quite clear that the reason your training with Felicia hasn't been paying off is because you're not a Teller."
Jensen bit back the instinctive 'you think?' on his lips. "Then what am I? Jared said that I used magic there, but that wasn't like any of the types you described."
"No, it wouldn't have been." Jeff took a deep breath and said, in a slightly awed tone of voice, "Because you're an Arbiter."
Jensen frowned. "A what?"
"Arbiters have the ability to reorder reality itself," Jeff said, and Jensen's eyes widened. "Oh yes. That's why you saw Jared outside the Ministry but he doesn't remember it: you changed his fate by taking him out of the building before the police could arrest him."
"There hasn't been a record of an Arbiter in hundreds of years," Jared put in. He smiled ruefully. "To be honest, I didn't even think they were real."
"Oh, they were real." Jeff stood and walked over to the bookcase on the far wall. He selected a large, ancient-looking volume and returned. "Centuries ago, we lived in a world where magic was as ordinary and unremarkable as dirt. And the people in charge of society were all magic users."
He opened the volume and showed Jensen and Jared a drawing of what looked like a courthouse. The figure standing in the middle was dressed all in white and was radiating a pale light.
Jeff tapped the figure. "The Arbiters were the main court of law. It was their responsibility to judge crimes and grievances and, if need be, alter reality to be fair and reasonable."
"And that's what I'm supposed to be?"
"Don't you see, Jensen? Your prophecies never come true because you have the ability to change fate. Fortune telling has no power over a man who can choose to reject his own destiny."
"This is crazy," Jensen said, and prompted a crooked grin from Jeff.
"You say that so often. Here." He closed the book and pushed it towards where Jensen's hands lay on the desk. "Give it a read. You might be surprised by what you learn."
"Do you think that the government knows what Jensen is?" Jared asked.
Jeff nodded. "And if they haven't figured it out yet, they will. Which puts us all in danger."
"I didn't mean to," Jensen protested feebly.
Jared put a comforting hand on Jensen's shoulder. "So what do we do?" he asked Jeff.
Jeff clasped his hands in front of him on the desk. "We go on the offensive."
Jared nodded, as though this was the answer that he had been expecting.
Jensen was feeling not nearly so sanguine. "Wait a minute. What happened to building up public sentiment against the government? Slow and steady, you've said."
"The playing field's changed, Jensen. Now that they know what you can do, the government will be willing to tear the city apart to find you. They won't dare risk us making use of your power."
"They'll probably plan a shakedown of the civil service too," Jared put in. He made a face. "The fact that I passed under the radar for so long is going to make them suspicious of their staff. Which would have happened even if I had been arrested," he added, with a calmness that Jensen could hardly credit. "But it's just made everyone's jobs a lot more difficult."
"You're our ace in the hole, Jensen. Anti-government sentiment has been on the rise ever since we started this campaign, but one of the reasons that we've been reluctant to engage in a full-scale attack is that we have reports of a special weapon being created at the President's behest." Jeff's jaw was tight with anger. "A weapon designed specifically to kill magic users."
"What kind of weapon?" Jensen asked, but Jeff shook his head.
"None of our spies have been able to find out conclusively. But with you on our side, we have a way of counteracting it."
Jensen held up a hand. "Woah. Hold up. I don't know how to use my magic, remember? I did it without realizing. And I half-killed myself in the process."
Jeff waved a dismissive hand. "Then you'll train until you can use it consciously. I'll begin preparations for the attack, which will begin in approximately two weeks. Will that be enough time?"
"How should I know?" Jensen burst out. "I don't know how to train this skill!"
"Um," Jared interrupted. He gave Jensen a hopeful smile. "Maybe I can help. It's not like I've got much else to do now that I've been forcibly retired."
"Excellent," Jeff said, before Jensen could respond. "I'll expect regular updates. And could one of you tell Felicia that I want to see her? We need to get a new round of prophecies done stat."
"Got it," Jared said, and dragged Jensen out of the room before he could protest.
"Well," Jensen said, as they left Jeff's office. "That happened."
"It did," Jared agreed. He glanced at Jensen. "You okay?"
"I'll tell you when I stop thinking I'm dreaming."
"I can't believe you hit Alona," Jared said, after a moment.
"You're the one who taught me to throw a punch," Jensen shot back. "You've got no one to blame but yourself."
Jared looked amused. "Not exactly why I was teaching you." He reached out and tangled his fingers with Jensen's. "Thank you, Jensen. You saved my life."
Jensen sighed. "And got us in a whole mess of trouble in the process."
"Hey." Jared tugged him to a halt and dropped a gentle kiss on his lips. "I mean it. Thank you."
"Don't mention it," Jensen said. He coughed around the sudden tightness in his throat and changed the subject. "Now let's go find Felicia already so I can go and collapse somewhere. Seems like I need to get my strength back in a hurry."