A week passed. Things didn't get better.
During that time, Jensen and Jared managed to set up their cameras in the Earth Embassy - which netted them a great deal of boring and remarkably unhelpful footage -, identify and subsequently disregard a large number of possible suspects - which left Jensen heartily sick of small talk and Jared wary of the girl in Accounting who had given Jensen her number -, collect a small forest's worth of legally and not-so-legally acquired documentation - which didn't accomplish anything besides taking up Jared's time and making his back hurt from hunching in front of the computer-, and generally irritate two very suspicious police detectives - which, while hilarious, wasn't especially productive.
They settled into a pattern of sorts. Jensen went to work and learned all sorts of things he already knew about being a translator. Jared alternated between tooling around with vaguely illegal stuff on the computer and walking around the Station being blatantly conspicuous. The days ticked down and the Treaty Signing drew closer and they had no more to work with than they had when they'd left Earth. Nothing they did seemed to make a difference.
They weren't lucky enough to have a clue fall out of the sky, either. It was frustrating.
Which is why, eight days before the Treaty Signing, Jared decided to hell with routine and went to the Embassy to take Jensen out for lunch and maybe get a midday blowjob to take his mind off the suck that was this mission.
He didn't see Tom or Mike on the walk over to the Embassy, though he'd more or less expected that. They didn't show up on all of his excursions anyway and, for once, it wasn't exactly hard to tell where he was going. Knowing them, Tom was as reluctant to overstep his limits by throwing his weight around in the Embassy as Mike was to be more interested in having a long lunch break than watching Jared eat hamburgers with his boyfriend.
Figuring that Jensen would be at his desk at this time of day, Jared flashed his ID at the Embassy's security scanner and headed up to the third floor where they stored all the translators, minute takers and clerks when they weren't using them. He took his time getting there, even though he could have made the trip blindfolded by this point, and was careful only to take routes that his official clearance level would have allowed.
As he rounded the corner towards Jensen's bullpen, Jared caught sight of Jensen standing at the end of the hallway, laughing and joking with Misha. Without really thinking about it, Jared pulled back and waited, listening in on their conversation.
Or, well, listening to them talk, at least, since that definitely wasn't English coming out of their mouths. He thought it might have been Sod, but he couldn't pick up enough words to know for sure. Jensen and Misha were swapping words back and forth like natives, the harsh, guttural syllables sounding almost natural coming from their mouths.
Jensen's face was animated as he talked and he was gesturing with his hands the way he always did when he got really into the conversation. Misha was responding with equal enthusiasm, a sneaky sort of amusement curling his lips as often as not. Jared watched them for a long moment, marveling at their casual display of linguistic skill and this hitherto unseen element of Jensen's life.
And then Misha said something that made Jensen throw back his head and laugh, a full, carefree sound that made Jared's pulse jump and something cold settle in the pit of his stomach. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd made Jensen laugh like that.
Just then, Jensen glanced over and Jared became belatedly aware of the way he was lurking awkwardly by the wall. Embarrassed, he straightened and started forward again, watching as Jensen waved goodbye to Misha and jogged over to meet him.
"Sam!" he said, sounding pleased. "What are you doing here?" The subtle quirk of his eyebrow added an extra dimension to the question: anything turn up?
"Got bored," Jared said, with a shrug that meant still no, sorry. "Figured I'd drag you off to lunch. You feel like playing hooky?"
Jensen winced. "I was just making plans with Misha to try out the Qwilian place round the corner, actually." Jared felt his expression falter and Jensen's tone went cautious when he added, "You could come with?"
Jared plastered on a smile. "That's okay. Still not a fan of Doctor Who foreign."
Jensen had the grace to look apologetic. "Yeah, sorry. You want me to cancel?"
"And deprive you of your Misha time?" Jared asked, and he didn't need the sudden narrowing of Jensen's eyes to know it had come out considerably more acerbic than teasing. "You know what?" he said abruptly. "I'm not that hungry after all. Sorry to interrupt; I'll see you later."
He spun on his heel and stalked away, nearly as frustrated with himself as he was with Jensen. Behind him, he heard the sound of footsteps and a woman asking Jensen if everything was okay. Jensen gave whoever it was a bullshit answer and then asked if she knew where Misha was.
Jared gritted his teeth and walked faster.
Five minutes later found him slumped against the side of the Embassy, hands fisted at his sides, head tipped back against the bricks and eyes shut. He kept his breathing ruthlessly even, trying to slow the angry rattle of his pulse.
"You know," Jensen's voice said at his side, sudden and unexpected. "Despite what your porn might tell you, jealousy isn't really all that sexy."
Jared's head snapped down. "I'm not je-" he started, but trailed off when he caught sight of the flat expression on Jensen's face.
"Sam." Jensen's tone was hard. "Cut the crap."
Jared deflated. "It's not that simple."
"I'm not jealous," he said again and raised a hand to ward off Jensen's inevitable derisive snort. "Or I'm not just jealous. I just... god, Dean, sometimes I feel like I don't even know you."
"Not-" Jared huffed out a breath. "Don't take it like that, Dean, c'mon."
"You wanna explain how I should take it then?" Jensen asked tightly. "Because this is starting to sound like a 'we can still be friends' talk."
"That's not what I mean. It's just-" Jared shrugged helplessly. "Misha makes you laugh."
"I can start laughing at you right now, if it'd make you feel better," Jensen said, flat and dangerous.
Jared didn't bother rising to the bait. "Really laugh, Dean. Like it doesn't matter who's listening and what you might give away. And he can talk to you in more languages than I'll ever know in my life. God," he breathed, almost a laugh if only it hadn't been so bitter. "The most contact I've ever had with aliens was waiting in line next to one at a yapparq shop the other day and here you are speaking their languages like you were born doing it. I can't even begin to understand half the stuff you know, and it just made me so frustrated to see him getting it so easily. I know things are... different up here, but I just..." He sighed, fumbling for words and coming up short. "I just."
Jensen was silent for a moment and Jared wasn't sure he wanted to decipher the mix of emotions scrawled across his face.
Finally, Jensen cleared his throat. "This is... new for both of us," he said, obviously choosing his words carefully. "We're going to have to get used to it. But this isn't the time to talk."
"I... you're right. Sorry." Jared took a deep breath and ran a hand through his hair, gathering his self-control. "You go back and have lunch. I'll grab something on my way back to the hotel."
Jensen glanced at him. "You sure?"
"Yeah." He offered Jensen a sheepish smile. "I'm probably not the best company right now anyway."
Jensen watched him for a moment longer before nodding. "Another day," he said. Then his mouth quirked. "Of course now you owe me make up sex."
"You sure you don’t want something else? I was thinking dinner."
"Make up sex."
Jared nodded soberly. "A convincing argument. You win."
The hint of a real smile flickered on Jensen's face. "Well okay then." He glanced back at the Embassy. "I have to go back to work. I'll see you this afternoon?"
"You bet." Jared stepped forward to drop a quick kiss on Jensen's lips. "Sorry again."
"Don't worry about it," Jensen said, kissing him back. Jared wondered how long they were going to get away with ignoring this. "Now go find something productive to do."
"Yes dear," Jared said, and waited until Jensen had given him the finger and started for the Embassy before turning his own feet to the hotel. He probably had some boring and remarkably unhelpful security footage to watch anyway.
Three days later, they finally caught a break.
They'd been carrying on pretty much as usual since Jared's hissy fit at the Embassy and Jensen, for one, was all too happy to ignore the faint cracks that spidered between them if you tilted your head too far in the wrong direction. This wasn't exactly the optimal time for them to sit around and talk about their feelings. And it wasn't Jensen's problem if Jared was an insecure bitch.
It was Saturday, which meant a half day of work for Jensen. Jared had stopped coming to meet him after work so Jensen headed back to the hotel alone under the artificial mid-afternoon heat. He surprised himself by wishing it was the real sun shining above him.
Jared pounced on him the minute he walked in the door. "Dean!" he exclaimed, with a manic sort of enthusiasm Jensen hadn't seen since they'd left Earth. "You're back!"
"Someone's excited," Jensen observed, shutting the door behind him like this was normal behaviour for either of them right now. "Also, that shirt is hideous. Do you need me to take you out for walkies?"
Jared beamed at him and his grin was almost brighter that the monstrosity he was trying to pass off as a shirt. "Yes, actually. We're going to Arbour Park."
"I am so tempted to make another dog joke here, you have no idea."
"I appreciate your self-control. Now go find something touristy to wear before I do it for you."
"God forbid." Jensen headed over to the closet, pulling off his tie as he went. "You want to tell me why we're going on a nature trip?"
Jared's tone was absolutely gleeful as he answered, "Because I found us a lead."
Jensen jerked up sharply. "You did?"
Jared nodded, looking terribly pleased with himself. "I hacked into the Federation's judicial files database this morning-"
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah," Jared said easily, as though that wasn't ten kinds of impressive and twenty kinds of illegal.
"How did you-" Jensen paused. "Wait, no. I don't want to know. Ignore that. Carry on."
Jared grinned. "Anyway. I hacked into the database and found a list of all the Barrier Station citzens known or suspected to be involved with the IEM."
"So, what?" Jensen tugged on a clean shirt that was considerably less garish than Jared's. "That's a pretty thin lead and I don't know if we've got time to run them all down."
"I know, but get this: nearly all the arrests took place in or around Arbour Park."
"You think they're using it as a base?"
"Sort of. I mean, it's not exactly a good location for running a full-scale op, but if they're using it as a regular meeting place..."
"Their secret clubhouse is probably somewhere nearby," Jensen concluded.
Jared nodded. "Could be worth checking out. It's not like we've got much better to do, anyway."
"True. We doing this now?"
Jared shrugged. "Unless you want to paint your nails first."
"I can kill you in eight different ways without using my hands, smartass."
"So you don't have to worry about screwing up your manicure?"
Jensen gave him the finger. "Any chance I can convince you to put on a different shirt?"
"Nope," Jared said cheerfully. He looped an arm round Jensen's shoulders and reeled him in close. "Come on. Let's go sightseeing."
Jared's arm fell from Jensen's shoulders as they left the hotel and Jensen decided not to miss the familiar warmth.
It was immediately clear that Jared's many afternoons spent leading Mike and Tom on a merry goose-chase had given him a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of the Barrier Station. The extent of Jensen's knowledge about Arbour Park was that it was somewhere in the middle sectors - five, maybe? - so he was all too happy to let Jared lead the way. Jared did so with gusto; he tracked from one street to the next with the easy familiarity of a local, pointing out the different sights and restaurants they passed and nattering on about nothing at all.
Jensen did his best to be subtle about letting Jared do the navigating; he'd been faking his way around unfamiliar colonies for years, so he was pretty good at it.
Unfortunately, he'd underestimated just how observant Jared could be. And how much of a sneaky bastard he was.
"Whoops," said Jared, and Jensen slowed as Jared stopped to crouch down in the middle of the road. "Shoe's untied. You go on ahead, Dean; I'll catch up."
Jensen glanced around. There was a four way intersection up ahead and an inter-sector port on their left.
"I hate you," he told Jared.
Jared came up grinning. "You don't know where you are, do you?"
"Still hating you."
"Unbelievable." Jared's voice dropped to a whisper. "I thought you grew up here."
"Not... here, exactly," Jensen evaded.
"I grew up in the science block," Jensen admitted quietly. "I've never spent much time in this part of the Station."
"This part being...?"
"Most of it?"
"Huh," said Jared. "That was informative yet vague. Well done."
Jensen had to grin at that. "Yeah well, vague's kind of in the job description. It's a wonder we've ever had an honest conversation about anything."
"We've had an honest conversation?" Jared gestured towards the right turn with a flourish. "This way, my lady."
"Just lead the way, jackass."
Arbour Park turned out to be in sector six. Jared steered them round a corner and Jensen found himself facing a wall of green: trees and grass and plants arranged into a neat square right in the middle of the sector. The trees were tall but looked to be in no danger of bumping into the base of sector seven. Jensen wondered briefly whether they were pruned regularly or if life in the artificial environment had stunted their growth.
"Impressive," Jensen said.
Jared grabbed his arm. "Come on. There are some paths we can take."
As Jared dragged him closer, Jensen realized that there were a decent number of other people wandering around in the park: adults strolling under the trees, children playing in a plastic playground to the left, a group of young Veyili tossing something that looked vaguely like a Frisbee back and forth across the open grass.
Jared steered them towards the closest footpath and, as soon as they passed under the tree line, pulled out a digital camera and turned it on the façades of the surrounding buildings.
Jensen barely resisted the urge to throttle him. "Jesus Sam, what the hell are you doing?"
Jared blinked at him over the top of the camera. "I would have thought it was pretty obvious."
Jensen counted slowly backwards from ten. "You do know what it means when I tell you that we're supposed to be undercover, right?" he hissed.
The amusement in Jared's eyes could not have been more inappropriate. "I should have packed a picnic lunch?"
Without a convenient wall to bang his head against, Jensen settled for a heartfelt groan. "What the hell did I ever do to deserve your retarded ass?"
"Something pretty awesome, obviously. Chill out Dean," Jared said, showing a lack of concern that was absolutely staggering. And not a little bit scary. "Tourists take pictures all the time. I've got everything under control."
"Amazingly enough, that doesn't make me feel any better."
"That's because you're a pessimist. Now hold my hand, bitch. We're going for a stroll."
They wandered at a leisurely pace around the park, Jared snapping pictures in his stupid Hawaiian shirt while Jensen held his hand and felt like an utter tool.
"Christ aren't we domestic," he muttered. "All we need is an adopted alien baby to complete the look."
Jared snorted. "Don't be ridiculous. We're going to have a baby with your pretty green eyes and my hair."
Jensen rolled his eyes. "First off, no one wants hair like yours. Second, I'm not splice cloning a kid with you, idiot."
Jared gave an overdone sigh. "This is why I can never have nice things."
"Bitch, I am your nice things. Seen anything suspicious yet?"
"Aside from the two teenagers getting it on in that bush over there, not really. Some of these buildings might be worth checking out, but it'd be a stretch."
Jensen blew out a frustrated breath. "Great."
They finished on their first circuit of the park and started again. They hadn't gone far when Jared chuckled ruefully, stride hitching.
Jensen glanced at him. "What?"
"Don’t look now," Jared said, which Jensen thought was one of the more redundant statements in human history. "But we've got company. Again."
A glance over Jensen's shoulder showed Tom and Mike skulking unsubtly after them about thirty feet back. They somehow managed to look like even bigger tools than he and Jared did, which made Jensen feel better.
"Well," said Jensen. "That's going to make this harder."
Jared shrugged. "So we'll stick to surveillance today. We can always come back later."
Jensen fought the urge to growl. "We're kind of running out of 'laters', Sam. And this nature walk has already been enough of a bust that we might as w-" He cut himself off abruptly, attention snagging on a face he recognized.
Jared caught the change in him immediately. "What's up?"
"The guy in the brown shirt," Jensen nodded towards him without turning away. "He was on your list of IEM supporters."
The man in question was cutting across the neatly trimmed grass, moving like he had somewhere better to be, and Jensen tensed.
Jared's fingers tightened on his warningly. "Hey. We can't just go after him in broad daylight. Especially with Thomson and Thompson on our tails."
"Then we need to distract them." Jensen looked at Jared speculatively. "How's your acting?"
"It's fine." Jared eyed him warily. "What are you planning?"
"A distraction. You got your signal jammer on you?"
"Turn it on. Last thing we need is someone calling the paramedics. Oh, and gimme your camera."
"...I'm not going to like this, am I?" Jared asked as he handed over the camera and slid the blinking jammer into his pocket.
"Probably not," Jensen said, and sucked in a deep breath.
"Help!" he screamed, loud and panicked. "My husband's having a fit!"
"Oh, you are not serious."
"Help!" Jensen yelled again as a crowd started to gather. "Someone, please!"
The look Jared threw at him was murderous. "I hate you," he said, then started twitching and choking, eyes rolling back in his head until the whites were showing. He hit the floor like his strings had snapped and Jensen let his shouts peter off as he melted back into the sudden surge of concerned bodies crowding in around Jared.
He saw Mike and Tom shove their way through the crowd to Jared's side as people started reaching for their cell phones and allowed himself a single, satisfied smirk before slipping away and vanishing into the trees.
His target's back disappeared through a gap in the trees several paces ahead and Jensen followed after him at a careful distance. The man led him out of the park, across the road and down a narrow alley next to what looked like an old factory building. Jensen had to roll his eyes at the cliché of it all.
He waited until his target had ducked into a door about halfway down the alley before vaulting onto the conveniently placed fire escape snaking up the side of the building. The metal clanged with the impact and Jensen wasted no time in climbing up to a door on what was probably the third floor. The lock on the door folded in about ten seconds, and the complete waste of effort that was the pressure sensor on the top of the door made him want to cry with how easy these guys were making it for him.
He slipped through the door and found himself in a warehouse, standing on a high, narrow catwalk that bracketed the wall. The cavernous space below him looked to be mostly empty, save for several large crates stacked to one side. A metal staircase on his left slinked down to the first floor and, to the right, he could see a door that looked as though they'd once been a foreman's office. Jensen edged carefully towards the railing, being careful to keep low and out of sight.
There was a score of people scattered across the first floor, all talking amongst themselves with the easy camaraderie of long acquaintance and shared ideals. The echo of their voices rattling off the ceiling made it next to impossible to hear what they were actually saying.
Jensen lifted Jared's camera and started taking photos. A handful of men stood at a drafting table almost directly below him, pouring over charts and plans that Jensen could only vaguely make out. A pair of scrawny teenagers were wrestling with a wide swath of white fabric on the far side of the room and Jensen took pictures of that as well, hoping that Jared would be able to enhance the images enough to let them know what it was they were messing with. The rest of the people in the room were preoccupied with stacking boxes and eating lunch, most of them at the same time. Jensen wanted a look in those crates, but he figured the office would be a better place to start. He could come back for these idiots later.
The catwalk shivered under his feet as he made his way towards the office, but Jensen was far too good at what he did for that to pose any sort of challenge. His steps were swift and silent, no creak of metal betraying his presence.
The lock on the office door was perfunctory at best and Jensen let himself in quickly, pulling the door shut behind him.
The man working at the desk glanced up with a startled jerk. "Who the hell are y-ngh!"
Jensen's fist caught him in the solar plexus and the guy doubled over with a choked groan. A second blow to the back of the neck had him crumpling into his chair, out for the count. Jensen took a minute to roll both him and the chair out of the way but didn't bother finding something to tie him up with. Jensen was going to be long gone by the time he woke up.
The man's computer was already turned on, a spreadsheet and a half-finished game of Solitaire open on the screen. Jensen had to smirk at that. He stepped up to the desk and fumbled in his pocket for the data stick Jared had given him after their trip to Jeff's house. Jensen didn't have the first idea how the thing worked, but it didn't much matter since the program on it started copying the computer's hard-drive as soon as he plugged it in. It was a hell of a lot easier than stealing a room's worth of paper files, that was for sure.
Jensen wandered idly around the room while the data stick did its thing, taking in the Independent Earth Movement flag hanging above the desk, the spill of cheaply printed fliers across the floor and the colossal disaster against the far wall that someone was apparently trying to pass off as a filing system. He shook his head. Some people just had no idea how to run a subversive, anti-government organization.
When the copy was complete, Jensen disconnected the stick and wiped his prints off the keyboard. A final quick look around the room ensured that, with the exception of the unconscious guy in the corner, things were exactly the way he'd found them, so Jensen slipped out as quietly as he'd come.
The general bustle of the main floor hadn't changed much during his sojourn in the office; Jensen counted another three people helping shift the boxes on the far side and the debate around the drafting table seemed to have degenerated into wild gesticulations and slurs on peoples' mothers.
Jensen knew that he couldn't reasonably stay much longer; the jammer would keep people's phones from ringing anything but busy, but eventually someone would wise up and go take a port to the hospital. Not to mention the fact that Jared was probably going to kill him. But that didn't mean he wanted to leave without at least checking out those crates.
He considered and discarded several options before finally settling on the most expedient. Tucking Jared's camera safely away, Jensen dug in his wallet for the fake BBI badge he kept in there and pulled his gun out of his waistband. Then he squared his shoulders, settled himself into the mindset of a dangerous, badge-toting, pompously confident son of a bitch and struck out towards the stairs.
The sound of his boots on the metal stairs cut sharply through the ambient noise and Jensen watched twin ripples of surprise and hostility spread through the room as they realized he wasn't one of theirs.
He reached the bottom of the stairs and gave a little wave. "Afternoon, folks."
One of the men stepped forward. "Who the fuck are you?"
Jensen flashed his badge. "Barrier Bureau of Investigation," he answered and watched faces pale. He made a show of looking around. "Nice digs you got here. Very 1920s rum-runner."
"What do you want?" asked a kid who was seventeen if she was a day. Her chin raised defiantly. "We haven't done anything wrong."
Jensen's answering chuckle was darkly amused. "Sweetheart," he said, condescension thick in his tone. "If you think that's going to work on me you're sorely mistaken."
"You've got nothing on us!" someone shouted.
"Wrong again, sunshine." Jensen paused thoughtfully. "Or is it some other group of gutless yahoos planning a protest at next week's Treaty Signing with the T'laxian empire?"
That earned him a handful of fearful flinches and another round of barely concealed animosity.
Jensen smiled at them. It was a singularly unpleasant expression. "That's what I thought."
A man who was as wide as a dumpster and just as attractive glared at him. "We have a right to oppose t-"
"I've already read the pamphlet," Jensen interrupted him. "And I've got no desire to be bored to death a second time. You folks ready to be reasonable about this?"
The first man stepped in again, open menace on his face. "Why should we? We could kill you right here and there's nothing you or anyone else could do to stop us."
A rumble of agreement went through the crowd, though it didn't sound particularly enthusiastic. Protesters were always afraid of getting their hands dirty.
Jensen sighed. "Do we really have to do this? I'm kind of on a time limit, here."
The guy, obviously one of the ring leaders, took another step forward. The rest of them started to converge, drawing into a loose circle around him. Several men followed their boss' lead, cracking their knuckles in preparation for a fight.
Jensen sighed again. "I guess if it'll make you happy." He flicked the safety on his gun and slid it back into his jeans. He spread his hands and flashed the guy a smile. "Be my guest."
There was a beat of startled silence, then a longer beat of clear indecision before the guy found the courage to take Jensen at his word. He plowed forward, massive hands balled into fists, and swung at Jensen with all his strength. Jensen side-stepped without changing expression, then pivoted and slammed a fist into the guy's gut hard enough to send him crumpling to the floor, doubled over at the waist.
The guy choked on a groan, limbs curling in, and Jensen straightened with a smile.
"Anyone else?" he asked the stunned mass of them. "You can come all at once if you like - speed things up and all that. You too if you like, ladies; I'm an equal opportunity kind of guy."
Some of them charged immediately and several more joined in fits and starts until Jensen had a full-scale brawl on his hands. Their moves were rash and untried and Jensen countered everything they had to throw at him with laughable ease. As far as de-stressors went, it was pretty awesome.
The handful of people still standing when his last opponent hit the floor all looked like they weren't sure whether they wanted to beg for mercy, piss themselves or run screaming into the night. Some looked like they were contemplating doing all three.
Jensen straightened, brushed a light scattering of dust off his sleeve and smiled at them. "Now then. Who wants to tell me what you did with the plans Jeff Morgan gave you?"
The air was full of the sounds of people arguing about who was going to try to get through to the hospital when Jensen got back to the park. He pushed his way through the crowd in a panic, breath gasping out like he'd been running a marathon.
"Sam!" he cried, falling to his knees beside Jared's still thrashing body. Jensen so owed him a massage with a happy ending when they got back to the hotel. "I've got your medicine, it's right here. Hold on, it's going to be okay."
He pushed a chalky mint he'd found in his pocket between Jared's lips. Jared swallowed convulsively and Jensen murmured comforting nonsense as Jared's twitches gradually ceased.
"Oh, Sam," Jensen said, tears in his voice as Jared let his eyes focus, blinking owlishly up at him. "Can you hear me, baby?"
Jared raised a hand, tremors still running through it, and Jensen grasped it tightly. "Thank god you're okay."
A ragged cheer rose up from the crowd and they all stepped back to give them space. Jensen helped Jared carefully to his feet, one arm wrapped around Jared's waist and the other holding Jared's arm in place around his shoulders. There followed an inevitable round of crowd control that Jensen mostly left to Jared, several minutes of weary thanks and medical psychobabble and we really should be getting home and no, they didn't need an escort to the hospital, and yes, he'd be just fine after some rest, thank you.
Mike and Tom lingered as the crowd dispersed and Jensen noted with amusement that there were teeth marks on Tom's hand. Apparently someone had kindly tried to keep Jared from swallowing his tongue.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Mike asked and Jared offered him a wan smile.
"Yeah. Nothing to be worried about - happens all the time."
"Really," said Tom. "Isn't that dangerous in your line of work?"
"Eh, I'm only an accountant," Jared shrugged. He swiped his sweaty bangs out of his eyes. "Worst I've ever done is bash my knee on the side of the desk."
Tom looked murderous. Obviously the whole biting incident hadn't done much to temper his dislike of Jared.
"I just wish I'd remembered to bring his medicine with us when we went out this afternoon," Jensen said, just enough self-recrimination in his voice to sell it. "It's been so long since he's had an attack, I forgot all about it."
Jared patted his hand. "S'not your fault, Dean. We'll just have to be more careful." He sighed, sounding completely wiped out. "And I think I need to go home and pass out now, if that's okay with you."
Jensen relied on Jared's cues to get them out of the park and headed towards to the closest inter-sector port. Tom and Mike dogged their steps the entire way so Jensen ended up spending most of the walk making up bullshit about Jared's condition.
"Well here's our ride," Jensen said, when they finally reached the port. It didn't go anywhere near their hotel, but it was worth the extra walk to lose their hangers-on. He turned a smile on Mike and Tom. "Thanks for the escort gentlemen. We can manage from here."
"De-" Mike started, but Jensen had already manhandled Jared into the port and turned back with a sunny smile.
"Seriously, thanks again," he said, then he stepped through after Jared.
Jared was waiting for him when he rematerialized on the next sector, irritation and grudging approval warring for command of his face.
"Hey," Jensen said. "You were pretty good."
"Gee thanks," Jared said flatly. "I don't even want to know where you got the idea for that, do I?"
"Probably not." Jensen glanced around and confirmed that he had essentially no idea where he was. "Right, well I'm lost." He gestured grandly. "After you, Columbus."
They made the trip in mostly-comfortable silence and Jensen couldn't help but think that this was getting to be the norm these days. He used the time to collect his thoughts, mentally preparing what he was going to say to Jared.
Which turned out to be a good thing, because Jared rounded on him as soon as they entered their suite, his arms crossed and his expression back to irritated. "Talk."
"The IEM's got a warehouse about five minutes past the west end of the park," Jensen reported. "Open storage on the main floor, office on the upper, three main points of access. Here." He pulled the data stick and camera out of his pocket and offered them to Jared. "I took pictures of the work they were doing in the main room and copied the computer in the office. Maybe you'll find something."
"Okay." Jared took both and set them aside without turning away from Jensen. "What else? There's no way it took you that long to do a little bit of espionage."
Jensen winced. "Yeah, sorry about that. I took a couple extra minutes to check out the crates they were hauling in."
Jensen shrugged helplessly. "And they're full of pamphlets and picket signs. No sign of firearms."
Jared's brow furrowed. "The documents Morgan didn't actually steal?"
"Nada. Unless their top guys are keeping things really hush hush, which would be impressive considering what a cock-up the rest of the organization is, they don't have them. Those guys didn't have a clue what I was talking about."
Jared gave him a confused look. "You talked to them?"
"Yeah, and trust me, they were telling the truth." Jensen raked a frustrated hand through his hair, fingers snagging in the gel. "None of them had the balls or the intelligence to lie to the BBI."
A muscle in Jared's cheek twitched. "You impersonated a BBI agent?"
Jensen paused. "Is that a problem?"
"Yes! What if you'd been caught? Or hurt?"
"Oh," Jensen shrugged. "It was fine. They were only like thirty of them. Hardly broke a sweat."
Jared looked like he wanted to throttle him. "You- you seriously..."
Jensen raised an eyebrow. "I don't think I've ever seen you at a loss for words before."
"God dammit, Dean!" Jared exploded, loud and angry. "I can't believe you! You can't just go off like that!"
Jensen bristled. "And why not?"
"Because you're supposed to be my fucking partner! We should be making these decisions together!"
"Well, I didn't need your help!" Jensen shot back, the not-quite anger that had been simmering between them for the last few days rising hard and fast. He shoved his way into Jared's personal space with a snarl. "I've been doing this job since I was seventeen; I think I know what I can fucking well handle!"
"That doesn't mean you can get yourself into situations that might put us and the mission in jeopardy!"
"I had it under control! Fuck!" Jensen cursed, breaking away to pace the carpet. "Shit like this is why I work alone."
Jared stalked after him and crowded him up against the wall. "Well you're just gonna have to learn how to deal with it," he growled, making use of his height and build in a way he very rarely did. "Because you're stuck with me whether you like it or not."
Refusing to be intimidated, Jensen stood his ground and bared his teeth. "Are you talking as my partner or my boyfriend? Because I was under the impression that you were more worried about me cheating on you than the fucking mission!"
"Fucker." Jared's face was thunder dark and threatening. "That is not what I meant and you know it."
Jensen jabbed Jared in the chest, nearly a shove. "No, actually, I don't know it! We never finished that conversation, remember?"
"And that's my fault?"
"Yes, because you fucking started it! If you were that sure I was gonna run off with the first person who dared to fucking smile at me, why didn't you just chain me up in the backyard with the damn dogs?"
Jared's lip curled. "Well maybe I should, if you're going to go fucking off and getting yourself in trouble as soon as my back's turned!"
"That is fucking it." Jensen shoved Jared hard enough to send him stumbling and felt his own fuse burning shorter at the angry snap of fire in Jared's eyes. "You might be a big deal on Earth, kiddo, but you are not my babysitter and you're sure as fuck not my boss. This is my turf and you don't get a fucking say in what I do."
"Oh no? That mean you're planning on following my lead when we go back to Earth, you fucking hypocrite?"
"Who said I was planning to go back?" Jensen demanded, one part truth and three parts anger. Jared sucked in a breath and Jensen pressed his advantage, aiming to wound. "Or did you actually think I'd give up my whole life for you? Follow you back to Earth like some love struck idiot?"
Jared's eyes blazed with hurt and fury and, for one heartstopping moment, Jensen was sure that he was going to up and leave, just like that.
Jared advanced instead, jaw tightening at the way Jensen dropped immediately into a defensive stance. "You're a frigging jerk, you know that? Are you honestly telling me you'd - god Jens-"
A knock sounded abruptly at the door and they both froze.
Jensen relaxed with a will. "You want-"
"It's fine," Jared interrupted. He took a breath and all traces of anger melted off his face. His friendly smile was firmly in place when he pulled open the door.
"Hi," he said, to whomever was standing in the hall. "I'm fine thanks, and you?"
A glimpse through the gap between Jared's side and the doorjamb revealed a flash of a dark blue uniform and Jensen had to hope that the hotel hadn't received complaints about them. The walls up here ought to be fairly soundproof, but they hadn't exactly been shouting quietly.
Luckily, the lack of concern or apology in Jared's body language suggested that they'd dodged that bullet. Jared chatted easily with the person in the hall for a few minutes, then reached out his hand for something flat and thin. A quick hand in his pocket produced enough change for a tip and Jared said a warm thank you before shutting the door and thunking his head against it.
"Sam?" Jensen asked cautiously.
Jared's answer was a hollow sound that couldn't quite be called a chuckle. "Letter," he said, holding out the envelope. "For Dean Winchester."
Jensen frowned. He reached out a hand and Jared passed over the letter without turning to look at him. Their fingers brushed briefly and Jensen could tell they were both resisting the urge to flinch.
Ignoring the anger still burning hot in his veins, Jensen backed towards the bed and tore into the envelope. There were two tickets and a piece of folded note paper inside. He skimmed the letter without really reading it; he already knew what it was going to say. Some perverse part of him wanted to laugh at the timing.
"What is it?" Jared asked, and Jensen looked up to find Jared standing right in front him, his otherwise calm exterior betrayed by the edge of flint in his eyes.
"Tickets," Jensen said, waving them in Jared's direction. "For the science block." He heard a tinge of helpless hysteria creeping into his voice as he added, "So I hope you meant it when you said you wanted to meet my family."
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