The next week passes uneventfully. Jared settles into the routine of his new job, Jensen goes back to work, and they enjoy each other’s company in the evenings over dinner. After dinner, they play video games or watch TV together on the open sofa bed. Jared often falls asleep first, since he gets up before Jensen in the mornings.
Jensen can be forgiven for watching Jared sleep for a few minutes before he shuts the TV off, turns out the light, and tiptoes off to his own room.
Jensen’s days are a roller-coaster of emotional upheaval. On the one hand, he’s grateful to be doing something, even something incredibly boring. On the other hand, the job is so slow that he finds a lot of time to think about Jared. The butterflies in his stomach make it hard to eat, so he takes to going to the diner for breakfast and lunch, just to be sure he gets some food into his belly.
He doesn’t think about how much he misses Jared when they’re not together, doesn’t consider that going to the diner for his meals is much more about seeing Jared than eating.
Overall, Jared seems happier. He seems resigned to his fate, or at least the job keeps him busy enough that he doesn’t have time to be sad. Whatever the cause, things are better. Jared might not be happy, exactly, but he’s not miserable and moping anymore. Jensen decides that’s a win.
About three days into the second week after he starts the new job, Jared brings home a dog.
“Oh no,” Jensen shakes his head. “We cannot keep him. Absolutely not.”
Jared’s sitting on the kitchen floor with the mangiest looking mutt Jensen’s ever seen, scratching behind its ears and looking up hopefully at Jensen.
“Well, for one, my landlord won’t allow it,” Jensen says. “No pets. It’s bad enough, you living here when he rented the apartment to a single occupant. If he sees you brought a dog in here, he’ll kick me out.”
“But he was hungry,” Jared protests, nodding at the empty bowl on the floor, next to another bowl of water. Tell-tale tomato paste clings to the insides of the bowl.
“Whoa, did you give him my meatballs? Jared, tell me you did not just feed my left-over meatballs to this dog.”
“He was hungry,” Jared repeats, raising his beautiful almond-shaped eyes to Jensen with an expression that might be a mirror image of the dog’s.
Except the dog looks happier at the moment, being full of Jensen’s meatballs and all.
What the hell.
“Okay, no,” Jensen shakes his head vigorously. “He cannot stay. We need to find out who he belongs to or take him to the local shelter a.s.a.p. Are we clear? I am not running an orphanage for wayward angels and animals here. No, no, no.”
“Please, Jensen? I promise I’ll look after him. I’ll buy him dog food so he doesn’t eat your meatballs again, and I’ll take him on walks...”
In the end, the dog stays. They name him Charlie and Jared sleeps with him.
The dog makes Jensen green with envy, but he can tell that Jared’s happier. Jensen gets to see Jared’s dimpled smile more often, gets to hear his husky voice softened with affection when he talks to Charlie.. Jensen can almost imagine Jared’s talking to him with that voice, giving Jensen those loving looks and tender touches.
Jensen lies in bed at night, staring at the ceiling, and imagines Jared’s big hands touching him the way they touch Charlie.
“Damn it,” he mutters as he pulls the pillow over his face, bites into it to keep from screaming.
After three weeks, Jensen begins to question his own sanity. He’s not sleeping much, so he’s a jittery mess during the day. Jeff catches him day-dreaming more than once, staring out the window when he’s supposed to be writing reports.
“You know, if I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were suffering from lovesickness,” Jeff teases the third time it happens.
Jensen feels himself blush. “Yeah, right,” he scoffs.
Jeff peers at him thoughtfully. “You haven’t fallen for that guy you brought home, have you?”
Leave it to Jeff to figure it out. Which isn’t a surprise, since Jeff knows Jensen better than just about anybody. They’ve had each other’s backs since the day they figured out they were the only gay officers on the force. They’re friends as well as co-workers.
Not to mention occasional fuck buddies.
It’s never been more than that, though. Jeff’s about as single as a guy can be. He never seems to need anyone in his life for long, and he’s never shown the least interest in settling down.
Until recently, Jensen was just like him. Or thought he was.
“Jared’s just a kid,” Jensen says. “He needs my help, that’s all. I’m doing what I can for him until he gets his own life back.”
“He’s an adult, isn’t he?” Jeff shrugs. “Damn good looking, too. I’ve seen the way he looks at you. I don’t think you’d have to ask twice.”
Jensen lets out a breath, shakes his head. “He trusts me. I’d never betray that. Right now, he’s dependent on me. He may not be a kid in years, but he’s just a baby in so many ways. Naive. I could never hurt him.”
“Doesn’t seem like it would hurt him to tell him how you feel about him.” Jeff frowns. “Might turn out he feels the same way.”
“No, no, that’s not possible,” Jensen insists. “He’s got a lot of baggage. He doesn’t know how he feels.”
“How do you know that?” Jeff stares. “Did you ask him?”
“I don’t have to ask him,” Jensen growls, suddenly angry. “We’re not going there. I’m too much of a love-‘em-and-leave-‘em type, and he’s — not. He doesn’t need me to do that to him.”
“You’re welcome to come over tonight, let off a little steam,” Jeff suggests with a smirk.
Jensen rolls his eyes. “Yeah, that’d help the situation,” he grumbles.
“Well, all I can say is, something’s gotta give,” Jeff shakes his head. “You’re making yourself sick. If you keep this up, you’ll end up back in the hospital before you know it. Then you won’t be much help to anybody.”
And the thing is, Jensen knows Jeff’s right.
It’s time to find Jared another home.
Of course, that’s when everything goes to hell.
It’s Friday evening and Jensen’s working late because Jared’s working at the bar and Jensen can’t stand the thought of going home to an empty apartment.
Well, almost empty. Charlie’s there, of course, waiting for someone to take him for a walk. Jensen had promised Jared that he would get home by 10:00 so Charlie could go out one more time.
Jensen intends to keep his promise, then get drunk and pass out so that he won’t have to stare at the ceiling for the next four hours until Jared gets safely home.
The call comes in just as Jensen’s getting ready to leave. There’s a fight at Sam’s, multiple injuries.
It takes Jensen ten minutes to get there, another two minutes to find Jared. It feels like centuries.
Jared’s on the floor in a corner of the bar, two paramedics hunched down next to him, and at first all Jensen can see are his stupidly long legs. The paramedics are in the way.
“Jared! Oh my God.” Jensen pushes his way through the few people who are standing in his way, panicked when Jared doesn’t move or respond. “Police officer! Move aside!”
Jared’s unconscious. His face is a mangled mess of blood and gashes. His shirt is torn, and there are gashes on his chest and shoulder. There’s pooled blood on the floor under his head, and his hair is sticky with it.
“What happened here? Oh, Jeezus. Oh my God, Jared. What the hell, buddy? Hey! Hey! It’s me, Jay. It’s me. I’m here.”
He keeps up a steady stream of babble as the paramedics do their job patching Jared up enough to transport him to the hospital. As they roll him onto a stretcher, his eyelids flutter and his lips move.
“Yeah, yeah, buddy, it’s me. It’s me, Jared. I’m here. Not gonna leave you. They’re taking you to the hospital, man. I’ll be right there. Right next to you. Okay? You’re gonna be just fine.”
“Sir, I’ll have to ask you to step aside...”
“I’m his— He’s my— I need to ride with him!”
“Unless you’re a family member, I can’t let you ride in the ambulance,” one of the paramedics says. “We’re taking him to St. Anthony’s. You can meet us there.”
Later, Jensen can’t remember driving to the hospital. He doesn’t remember talking to the nurses in the emergency room, convincing them that he was family so they would let him into the ICU.
Somebody had a knife. Jared’s lungs have been pierced, and his heart may have been nicked. He’s bleeding internally, lost a lot of blood. Has a concussion and multiple lacerations to his face, neck, and torso. He’ll need emergency surgery. It’s not looking good. There’s a chapel if Jensen wants to pray.
For a moment, Jensen forgets. He doesn’t pray, never has. Doesn’t believe.
Then he remembers.
The chapel is cool and dim, deserted at this time of night, long after the last daily services. Jensen sits in a pew toward the front, stares at the crucifix for a moment. The figure on the cross looks a little like Jared, dark-haired and hollow-cheeked. Sorrowful.
“He doesn’t deserve this,” Jensen mutters, then raises his voice. “Damn you, he doesn’t deserve this!”
“He can’t hear you.”
Jensen jumps. Danneel stands at the edge of the altar. She leans on the wall next to the tabernacle with her arms and ankles crossed, wearing the off-white jumpsuit she wore in Jensen’s bathroom. She’s impeccable. In the gloom, Jensen can barely make out the shadows of her wings behind her shoulders.
“You need to fix him,” Jensen blurts. “Please! Don’t let him die.”
Danneel unfolds her arms, saunters slowly across the dais to the altar. She spreads her arms out on the table with her back to it, crosses her ankles casually again. She’s standing directly under the crucifix now, her position a kind of parody of it.
“So now the tables are turned,” she says. “Now you want to save him.”
“Please forgive him for whatever he did and let him come home. He really needs to go home.”
“What makes you think you know what he needs?” Danneel demands. She crosses her arms again. She’s angry.
“I just know he doesn’t belong here,” Jensen says. “Heal him and let him go home, damn it!”
“You think he should go back to Heaven,” she growls. She’s like a mother bear, Jensen thinks. Fierce. Protective.
“I know he should,” Jensen nods, not backing down. “It’s where he belongs. Give him his life back. Please!”
“You’d give him up, just like that.”
Jensen shifts uncomfortably, pushes himself off the kneeler so he’s not pleading with the angel quite so obviously.
“I want what’s best for him,” Jensen insists. “I’d give anything for him to be safe and back home, where he belongs.”
Danneel narrows her eyes, considering.
“Anything,” she repeats. Speculative. Calculating
Panic floods Jensen’s veins like ice water, then turns hot with trepidation. “I said so,” he frowns, unsure why he suddenly feels like he’s making a deal with the devil. “What? Do you want my soul? I’ll give it, if that’s what it takes.”
Danneel’s eyes widen. “Your soul?” She barks out a laugh that sounds a lot like disbelief. “What TV show are you watching? Do you even know what you just said?”
“I don’t care,” Jensen growls through clenched teeth. “Save Jared, and I’ll give you anything. Just name it!”
“Well, I’m not taking your soul, that’s for damn sure.” Danneel rolls her eyes. “But there is something you can do.”
The angel smirks, leaning her elbows on the altar, letting her wrists dangle. “Tell him how you feel. About him. Tell him you’re in love with him.”
Jensen stares, then blushes and looks away. “I can’t tell him that,” he mutters, then glares at the angel. “This is life and death here. We’re talking about Jared’s life!”
“Yes.” Danneel nods. “We are. And I will save him, if you tell him how you feel.”
“But that— That’s got nothing to do with any of this,” Jensen insists, indignant. “How do my feelings matter? What kind of game are you playing?”
“The game of life and death, Jensen, and those are the rules,” Danneel says. “You follow them, Jared lives. You don’t, he dies. It’s that simple.”
Jensen glares at the angel. “You can’t be serious. He’s not even conscious.”
“Any good nurse will tell you that patients get better when their loved ones talk to them,” Danneel says. “He can hear you. Just talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Tell him how you’ve loved him since the first time he saved your sorry ass. Tell him how sorry you are that you never told him, how you can see it’s made him unhappy, and you’re sorry to be the cause of his misery. You should have told him before, saved him a lot of pain. Tell him, and I’ll save him.”
“Jeezus,” Jensen mutters. “You’re serious.”
“Serious as Death,” Danneel agrees. “Time’s wasting. We don’t have all night.”
“If I do that, you’ll let him come home?”
“Let’s just take the most important step first,” Danneel says. “You heard my terms. You do as I ask and I’ll save Jared’s life. Then we’ll see.”
Jensen shakes his head and huffs out a laugh. “This is crazy, but okay. I’ll do it.” How hard can it be, confessing his deepest secret to a sleeping man? He can’t hurt Jared any worse than he’s already hurt.
Danneel steps closer and Jensen tries not to flinch when she reaches up and touches his cheek, pierces him with a calculating look.
“Jared gave up Heaven for you,” she says softly. “Don’t you think you can give up your safe little life for him? You call yourself reckless. Try taking a real risk for once.”
And, with a flutter of her shadowy wings, she’s gone.
Everyone on the hospital floor thinks Jensen is Jared’s brother, so they let him sit by Jared’s bedside all night after the surgery, holding his hand. The doctor tells him Jared pulled through the surgery, but he’s not out of the woods yet. Tonight is crucial.
“Hey, buddy,” Jensen soothes, squeezing Jared’s limp hand gently. They’re keeping him unconscious with morphine, which is also controlling his pain, He’s got a tube stuck down his throat to do his breathing for him, and a heart monitor beeps constantly to let Jensen know he’s alive.
Jared’s the only patient in the ICU tonight, so although it’s far from quiet, there’s no one close enough to overhear them. Jensen feels adrenaline and exhaustion flow over him, struggles to draw courage from the feel of Jared’s fingers, solid and real if a bit cool.
“Jared.” Jensen’s chest throbs. Tears sting the corners of his eyes. “Danneel says I need to tell you how I feel.” He clears his throat. “I’m not very good at that, but here goes.” He takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. “You’re important to me, Jared. Seeing you hurt like this, knowing I got you that job–– I’m no good for you, man. It’s my fault you lost your wings. It’s my fault you lost your home. And I suck at praying. I couldn’t even get Danneel to fix you.”
He pauses so he can wipe the moisture off his cheeks with the back of his hand. Stupid tears.
“You deserve to go home, Jared. You deserve to be among your own kind. And Danneel promised that if I–– She said if I tell you how much you mean to me, she’ll fix you. Then maybe I can get her to take you home. Get your wings back. How about that, huh? I just have to man up and confess that I–– “ He shakes his head. “I don’t even why it matters, but I care about you, Jay. I care a lot. I’m no good at relationships, and I usually fuck up every time, so it’s just as well you and me never — You know. But it’s not because I don’t care. You hear me, Jared?”
Suddenly the tears are flowing. Jensen wipes furiously at his face with his free arm, keeping hold of Jared’s hand with the other.
“Okay. I said it. You hear that, Danneel?” Jensen looks up at the ceiling. “I told him. Now come down here and make good on your promise. You come here right now and fix him like you said you would. You hear me?”
The seconds tick by, and Jensen begins to think she’s not coming. He starts to imagine that the angel has reneged on their deal.
Then the sound of fluttering wings makes Jensen jump. Danneel appears out of the shadows in a corner of the room, her attention focused on Jared. There’s a sadness in her normally smirking face, a fondness when she gazes down at Jared. She moves up on the other side of the bed and places her hand on Jared’s forehead.
Jensen’s suddenly sure that it’s the end. This is the last time he’ll see Jared alive because Danneel’s here to take him home. Fixing Jared means taking him back to Heaven, which means he’ll die right here, right now, and there’s nothing Jensen can do because Jensen made a deal. This is how Danneel plans to “fix” Jared, Jensen’s sure of it.
She just had to humiliate Jensen first.
Jensen’s crying now, holding Jared’s hand with both of Jensen’s, letting his tears fall unheeded on the hospital blanket.
“Goodbye, Jay. I promise to take care of Charlie. Don’t worry about us. We’ll be fine. I love you, Jared. Love you so much, man.”
He’s vaguely aware of Danneel’s long-suffering sigh as she removes her hand from Jared’s forehead and disappears.
“Such a drama queen! God!”
Jared wakes up with a gasp. His whole body convulses, his eyes flutter open and he tries to cough.
Jensen forgets about the call button and starts yelling for a nurse.
“Jensen,” Jared croaks after the doctor removes his breathing tube.
“Right here, buddy.”
Jared’s fingers tangle around Jensen’s. He squeezes them as he closes his eyes.
“I love you, too,” he croaks. There’s a little smile on his lips.
Jensen blushes but he doesn’t let go of Jared’s hand.
The doctors do test after test, trying to figure out what happened. Jared’s internal hemorrhaging hasn’t just stopped. There are no signs of the injuries that were killing him in the first place. In fact, all of his wounds have healed overnight. The best excuse the doctors can come up with is that Jared experienced some form of “spontaneous attenuation.”
Then they decide that their initial CT scans and x-rays were wrong. The films got mixed up. Jared can’t be the guy they operated on last night.
Not one medical professional uses the word “miracle” to explain Jared’s sudden return to perfect health.
The hospital insists on keeping him for another day, for “observation.” They want him to come back for follow-up scans and x-rays.
But Jensen knows they won’t be back. He knows what really happened.
Jensen goes home to feed and walk Charlie. He returns one of the half-dozen calls from Jeff, explaining that Jared had a close call, but he’s fine now. When he gets back to the hospital, he finds Jared sitting in an armchair by the window. They moved him out of the ICU and into a single room just a few hours before. The nurses are spooked. They keep whispering about all the blood, all the sheets they changed when Jared was first brought in.
“Now there’s not a scratch on him,” Jensen overhears as he heads into Jared’s room. “It’s so weird!”
Jared looks up as Jensen walks in. He hands Jared a turkey sandwich on homemade bread and a bottle of water.
“Figured you’d be hungry, after all the excitement. Almost being dead and all.”
Jared smiles, opens the wrapper and takes a bite of the sandwich. “Hmmm. Good,” he mumbles through a mouthful.
“Hospitals have terrible food,” Jensen goes on. “They’re probably starving you.”
Jensen paces the room, flips on the TV while Jared eats. Finally there’s nothing to do but sit, nowhere to sit but on the edge of the bed.
“So how’s Charlie?” Jared finally breaks the silence between them, and Jensen nods, grateful.
“He’s good. Misses you.”
Jared balls up the empty food wrapper in his big hands, makes a perfect basket. Jensen lifts an eyebrow, impressed.
“Nurse says I can go home today.”
“That’s good,” Jensen nods. “Real good. So, what are we waiting for?”
Charlie is beside himself with excitement when Jared walks through the door. He folds himself down to Charlie’s level on the floor as he greets his canine friend, lets Charlie climb all over him, wagging his tail and licking his face. Jensen can’t help enjoying the reunion, and for a moment all he can do is watch. Jared’s toothy grin, his dimpled cheeks, the way his freshly-washed hair falls across his cheek, his big hands rubbing Charlie’s fur––
All of it adds up to something more than just a sexy man with a beautiful body, but Jensen still can’t trust himself.
He tears his eyes away, runs a hand through Jared’s hair as he passes him to get to the kitchen.
“I’ll rustle us up something to eat,” he promises. He can feel Jared watching him, hazel eyes boring into his back, maybe dropping to his ass.
As he pulls pots and pans out of cupboards and bangs them on the stove, he hears Jared come in, hears Charlie’s toenails clicking rapidly along the kitchen tile as he follows.
Here it comes, Jensen thinks. The Talk. The Confession.
“Okay, you know what? I’m just gonna come right out and say it.” Jared huffs out a breath.
Jensen grabs the first can of chili he finds, busies himself opening it just so he doesn’t have to turn around.
“What happened in the hospital–– Jensen, I meant what I said. I hope you did, too. But even if you didn’t, I want you to know that I’ve felt that way about you since I first saw you. Don’t laugh at me, it’s true. From that first moment, all I wanted to do was be with you. And it didn’t matter what that meant. If I had to stop being an angel, okay. If I had to give up Heaven, okay. If I had to live on the streets and work as a dishwasher for the rest of my life — my natural human life — okay. And I don’t want you to feel like you owe me a thing, because you don’t. If I can be your friend — just hang out with you sometimes, nothing more — that’s okay, too.”
Jared takes a breath and Jensen dumps the chili into a pan, turns on the burner, grabs a wooden spoon from its hook over the stove.
“So if you didn’t mean what you said in the hospital, that’s okay. Doesn’t change how I feel. Doesn’t change anything, really.”
Jared makes a sound, and in Jensen’s mind’s eye he can almost see the big hand slide through his hair, the way he leans his hip on the counter. Jensen can almost see the look of concentration and distress on his handsome face. It’s painful. It needs to stop.
“I just hope you’ll let me stay another week or so, till I get paid. I want to find a room where I can keep Charlie, and I figure it’ll take me a few days...”
“Stop.” Jensen keeps his voice low to keep it from shaking. He’s not sure he can keep it together much longer. He shuts off the stove and turns around, trying not to flinch when he sees Jared’s face. “Just stop, okay? I meant what I said in the hospital. Every word. It’s just.” He takes a deep breath to steady his voice. “I’ve never been any good at relationships. Everybody I’ve ever loved has left. And I don’t blame them. I’m a asshole. When you get to know me, you’ll probably want to leave, too.”
“No,” Jared shakes his head. “No, I won’t. Not ever.”
Jensen looks up, sees the sincerity in Jared’s expression, and almost loses it. Almost.
“Please, Jensen. Please just give this a chance. Give us a chance.” Jared huffs out a laugh. “I don’t even know what that means, exactly. I just know I want to be with you, whatever and however you want it. I— I need to be with you.”
“Jared.” Jensen turns back to the stove, shaking his head.
He never even sees it coming, the way Jared moves, the way he grabs Jensen’s shoulders and spins him around, grabs awkwardly at his face with his stupidly huge hands and holds Jensen in place as he leans in. The moment before Jared kisses him, Jensen thinks this is probably the stupidest thing he’s ever done.
There’s no coming back from this, his brain tells him. No safety net. No stunt double. This is the moment when Jared finds out how much Jensen loves him. There’s no turning back now. No pulling up. No avoiding the inevitable.
Jared’s lips are soft. They’re impossibly gentle, and it takes Jensen a minute to adjust. He’d expected passion, youthful fortitude, determination and lustful enthusiasm.
It hadn’t occurred to him that Jared was probably a virgin.
He lets Jared kiss him, soft and gentle and filled with longing, and it occurs to Jensen that this is probably Jared’s first kiss. He lets Jared kiss him until the poor kid is trembling, until he’s had enough and has to pull back. Jared’s cheeks are flushed pink, his lips slick, his eyes damp with tears. He glances down at Jensen’s mouth, licks his lips before raising his expressive eyes to Jensen’s. He’s still holding Jensen’s face.
Jensen manages a weak smile. He’s trembling, too, but with fear as much as anything.
He loves this boy so damn much.
“I’m not leaving you, Jensen,” Jared pants, giving voice to Jensen’s worst fear like it’s something Jared’s always known, like it’s something he understands and takes for granted about Jensen, Jensen’s fear of losing the people he loves. “I’m here to stay, any way you want me. Do you want me, Jensen?”
You know I do, Jensen thinks, gazing up at the beautiful man pressed against him. Jensen can feel the evidence of Jared’s desire, slotted into his hip, right next to Jensen’s.
Jensen’s hands close over Jared’s as he gently pulls them off his face. He turns the left one palm up and plants a kiss on the meatiest part, thinks about slipping Jared’s long thumb into his mouth but decides it’s too much, too soon.
When he looks up, Jared’s lips are parted and his eyes are blown almost completely dark.
“Come on.” Jensen pushes gently, still holding Jared’s hand, and leads Jared out of the kitchen, down the hall to his bedroom.
“Stay,” Jared tells Charlie as he closes the door behind them.
They undress slowly, taking their time as they get to know each other’s bodies. Jensen’s head spins with the thought that Jared’s body is some kind of human manifestation of the divine being he used to be, and Jared seems equally overwhelmed by Jensen’s nakedness.
Men and women have admired Jensen, gazed at him with lust and longing, told him how beautiful he is. But Jensen’s never had anyone treat him with as much care and tenderness as Jared does. Jared makes love as if it’s an expression of the protectiveness and guardianship he felt towards Jensen when he was an angel. It’s as if Jared still sees the fragile human Jensen seemed to be when Jared was an all-powerful being.
At the same time, as Jared holds him, Jensen feels the specialness that he felt when Angel Jared wrapped him up in his wings. Even as a human, Jared conveys awe and reverence for Jensen’s soul, not just his body.
Maybe it’s knowing that Jared fell in love while he was still angelic. Maybe it’s the fact that Jared seems to see more than just a pretty face when he looks at Jensen. He’s always seen more than that, couldn’t have cared less about how Jensen looked when Jared was an angel.
Angels see the human soul when they look at us, Jensen’s mother had told him once. They see how pure or sullied we are on the inside, no matter what we look like or how good we try to be.
Maybe he’ll ask Jared if that’s true, Jensen thinks as Jared lifts his head to look up at him. He’s kneeling between Jensen’s legs, holding Jensen’s dick after kissing it thoroughly, and Jensen thinks this is probably his new Heaven. If everything goes south from this moment, he’ll always have this image in his head to fall back on.
He needs to stop doing that. It’s a terrible habit, the way he collects good moments in his memory. He’s always done it, always assumed there’d be a day when he’d need them.
That needs to stop. He can’t do that with Jared, can’t keep assuming there’ll come a day when Jared will be gone. He needs to trust Jared to stay.
Jensen knows this rationally, but it’s a hard habit to break. Everyone in his family has either died or left, and Jensen has never been able to hold onto a relationship for more than a couple of weeks. He’s sure that anyone who could love him isn’t worth the effort.
Jared’s worth so much more than that. Jared’s value is incalculable, and not just because he’s a former supernatural creature. Jared makes Jensen really see himself for the first time, and what he sees reflected in Jared’s eyes isn’t so terrible after all. With Jared’s love and care, Jensen might even learn to like himself, just a little.
Miracles can happen, after all. Jared’s living proof of that.
They stay home from work for a week, getting out of bed only to eat or shower or take Charlie for a walk. Jensen had been right about Jared’s virginity, so they take it slow, getting to know each other’s bodies, finding out what turns each other on the most. Once Jared learns the mechanics of sex, he can’t seem to get enough. He’s a responsive and sensitive lover, eager and willing to learn, ready to try anything.
Jensen didn’t think it was possible to be any more in love with Jared, but he was wrong.
At the end of the week, they agree they should probably go back out into the world, do the work that puts food on the table, pretend there are other people they should talk to. Of course, whenever one of them suggests leaving their little love nest, the other one gets that look in his eyes and it’s all over.
They make phone calls to their respective employers without looking at each other, then drop their phones and roll into bed again, giggling like idiots. It’s Jensen’s turn to top, and he’s a little anal about it, forgive the pun. The one who tops gets to spend as much time worshipping the other one as he wants, so Jensen’s a little distracted. Along with every other inch of Jared’s body, his back is an erogenous zone that Jensen can’t seem to get enough of.
Jensen runs his hand along Jared’s shoulder blades. Jared shudders, his eyes close, and he sucks in a breath through his teeth.
“Does that hurt?” Jensen asks, gentling his touch even more as he runs his hand down Jared’s back.
“It’s more like a tickle,” Jared answers. “I keep expecting to feel something else.”
Jensen understands then. He’s read about people who lose a limb and think they can still feel it. Jared’s loss is just as palpable. His wings defined him, allowed him to do what he was meant to do. They saved Jensen, more than once. If Jensen closes his eyes, he can almost feel them wrapped around him, holding him tight and close against Jared’s chest, creating a safe place for them both.
“Lie on your belly,” Jensen directs.
Jared hesitates, his face screwed up in protest. Jensen leans in, kisses the look off Jared’s face. Kisses him thoroughly and carefully.
“Do you trust me?” he asks when he draws back.
Jared opens his eyes, nods solemnly. He lets Jensen push him down on his front, gentle but insistent. He positions Jared’s arms up over his head and Jared tucks them under the pillow, lays his head there and waits.
Jensen climbs up until he’s straddling Jared’s hips. When he leans down to kiss each shoulder blade, Jared shudders again but lies still. Jensen closes his eyes and leaves careful, lingering kisses along the bones of Jared’s back, starting with his top vertebrae and working his way down Jared’s spine as Jared shivers and bucks shallowly.
“Fuck me, Jensen,” Jared gasps, obviously out of his mind with pleasure. “Just do it!”
When Jensen enters Jared, it’s as slow and careful as his kisses, as much a prayer of gratitude as a claiming. Jensen possesses Jared, the angel who saved him, the man who taught him that he was worth saving, and Jensen understands that he’s the one doing the saving. It’s his choice to let Jared love him, to let Jared into his heart. He’s saving himself.
“I love you,” Jensen murmurs into Jared’s ear as he plasters himself to Jared’s sweat-soaked skin, pumps his orgasm deep into Jared’s willing body, hearing Jared’s clenched cry as he comes untouched beneath him. “I love you so damn much.”
Jeff smirks at him the next morning at the precinct.
He knows. Jeff can read Jensen like a book.
“Have yourself a good week off, did you?” he asks, sitting on the corner of Jensen’s desk so Jensen can’t possibly get up and run.
“Go ahead,” Jensen scoffs. “Say ‘I told you so.’”
Jeff’s grin broadens, and Jensen might feel offended at how easily Jeff seems to be letting him go, except. Jeff’s being a good friend, like he’s always been.
“I can’t keep him safe.” Jensen shakes his head.
“Yes you can,” Jeff says. “Just teach him a few things. You’re a cop, Jensen. Teach him how to defend himself. Bullies always go for the big guy. Teach him how to protect himself.”
Jensen nods. It occurs to him that Jeff’s always been on his side, always wanted what was best for Jensen. Jeff always saw the best in Jensen, even if he couldn’t see it himself.
“You’re a good friend,” Jensen says, not even caring if he sounds sentimental.
“Go fuck yourself,” Jeff huffs, sliding off Jensen’s desk with barely a glance. He’s still smiling, though. “I need those reports on my desk first thing tomorrow morning.”
“Sure thing, chief,” Jensen nods, trying not to smile.
He finds her at Sam’s. She’s sipping coffee and staring out the window, dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt. She seems smaller, more fragile, and there’s no sign of wings.
It’s been almost three months since the night Jared got stabbed, two months since the guy who did it was found dead in an alley two towns over, drug deal gone bad. Divine justice, Jeff pronounced at the time, since it would’ve been nearly impossible to press charges against him for Jared’s near-murder. Mark Pellegrino had a rap sheet a mile long, had proudly admitted to anyone who would listen that he “pig-stuck that big bouncer at Sam’s real good.”
Jensen would’ve liked a chance to give the asshole his own brand of not-so-divine justice, but when he said as much, Jared shook his head and kissed him.
“It’s all over now, Jensen. Let it go.”
Jared’s back at work washing dishes in the diner during the day, and in the evenings Sam’s promoted him to bartender. In his spare time, he practices his cooking skills at home in their kitchen, and Sam’s promised to promote him when the old cook retires.
Jensen makes eye contact with Jared as he heads down to Danneel’s table. Jared glances at Danneel and shrugs, which is how Jensen knows they’ve already talked. Jared texted him as soon as she showed up.
Danneel looks up when he reaches her table, nods at the seat across.
“They demoted me,” she says as Jensen slides into the booth. “Interfering with human affairs.” She snorts. “As if.”
“Are you gonna be okay?”
Jensen’s wondering if he needs to open a shelter for wayward angels and animals. They’ve adopted a stray cat, in addition to the puppy Jared found in an alley about a month ago. It’s getting a little crowded in their one-bedroom apartment. They’ve started to look for a house.
“Oh hell yeah,” Danneel smirks. “This is just temporary. I’ve got resources. And strategies. No way those tight-ass bitches gonna keep me outta Heaven for long.”
“You’ve got a plan?” Jensen raises an eyebrow.
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
Jensen follows her gaze to the petite brunette manning the cash register.
“She’s cute,” he observes.
“Oh hell yeah.” Danneel licks her lips. “Her name’s Gen, just like you. I figure I’ve found my own little piece of Heaven right here at Sam’s, same as you. What a shocker.”
Jensen smiles, shakes his head. “I never had a chance to thank you.”
“Well? I’m right here,” Danneel shrugs. “You can thank me now.”
Jensen nods. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Danneel looks up, past Jensen’s shoulder, and Jensen knows without turning his head that she’s looking at Jared. “You take care of him. He gave up a lot for you.”
Jensen nods. “I know.”
She pins him with a glare for a moment, and Jensen’s never felt more naked, including that day in his bathroom.
“Just see that you do,” she says. Then she shakes her head. “I’ll never understand why he did what he did. I mean, I do now, of course. Humans are stupid. But angels aren’t supposed to fall in love with humans. It’s never happened before, not likely to happen again. You two are such exceptions to every rule it makes me sick.”
She raises her eyes, catches the cashier looking at her and blushes, and Jensen doesn’t dare let on that he noticed. He looks away when she glares at him again, pretends to look at his coffee instead.
“You are such an asshole, you know that?” Danneel opines, shaking her head. “I should hate you. I should hate you both.”
Jensen says nothing, stirs his coffee with his spoon and tries not to smile.
The angel leans across the table. “Never forget, I’ve seen you naked,” she whispers.
Before Jensen can respond, Danneel gets up, saunters down the diner toward the cashier and her future as a human. At least temporarily.
Jared catches Jensen’s eye as he watches her go, scrunches up his forehead.
It’s all good, Jensen thinks with a nod. As long as we’re together, it’s all gonna work out fine.
He watches as Jared reads his look, smiles his dimpled smile as he ducks his head to hide his blush.
It’s the way it was always meant to be.