Jared does as he's told, finds a level spot between a few tree trunks and rolls to a stop. So much open space in this country, uninhabited by people. Jared never knew. "Let me see," he tells Jensen, reaching into the back of the car for his knapsack. He did have the presence of mind, to pack a first aid kit, not knowing what to expect from this adventure. He finds it, digs out some gauze and some iodine, takes the canteen that Jensen had tossed into the back seat earlier that day. He blinks, turns off the headlights because better safe than sorry, they're not far away enough from the scene of the crime and the potential lake full of hot water that he’d managed to had landed them in.
As if he’s been privy to Jared’s thoughts, Jensen says, “Handcuffs hurt worse when you’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Suppose you’re right about that.”
The engine ticks as it cools, metal chilling in the cold air, coils righting themselves again, and Jared says, "You wouldn't happen to have a flashlight?"
"You should know by now that I'm prepared for almost any eventuality," Jensen replies. "Should be one under the seat, unless it managed to fly out the window or something, the way that you drive." Jensen tries to dig in the space beneath his seat, but sits up fast, woozy and rocking some.
"Here," Jared says, hopping out of the car and going to Jensen's side. "Can you stand?"
Jensen hisses a pained breath between his teeth. "Gimme a minute."
"Don't, ah. Don't take this the wrong way."
Jared goes down on his knees in the ground, feels the nighttime dew from the underbrush as it seeps in through his pants and knows he’s going to be muddy by the end of this. He reaches beneath Jensen's seat and comes up empty handed, and then reaches back even further, hand coming in contact with something hard and metallic. If he'd been thinking a little straighter, had his head square on his shoulders, he would have pushed the thing along the floorboard and into the back, but he's a little busy pondering his life as a wanted man, and he's tired and he still hasn't had a decent meal since he left the coal miner’s place this morning, so the odds are generally stacked against him. He reaches a little further, resting his head on Jensen's leg to get a better angle on the thing. He feels the muscles of Jensen's thigh tighten up beneath him, and then finally relax.
It's curiously familiar and easy when Jensen places a hand on Jared's head, thumb tracing the shape of his cheekbone, and Jared freezes, all the air zipping out of his lungs for no less that the third time in the past hour. Jensen buries his hand in Jared's hair, fingers the curve of his ear, the callused pad of his thumb rough along his tender skin.
The peepers are out in force tonight, a droning, constant sound that's calming and lulls Jared’s frayed nerves. He closes his eyes and thinks that he could stay like this for hours, head in Jensen's lap, feeling sheltered from the outside world, It’s a bizarre moment, to feel calm and cared for, here, in the middle of god's nowhere, and Jared feels like something has just clicked into place, something that has almost been there the whole time they've been together, barely there and somewhat syncopated until now. Their timing has switched. They've lined up somehow.
"You find it yet?" Jensen asks, voice slurred and sounding wrung-out.
Jared clears his throat, comes back to the here and now, and he can just feel the shape of the flashlight slipping across his fingers. "Got it." He gets to his feet again and bends down low over Jensen, placing the flashlight on the dash and angling the thing so that it doesn't shine directly in Jensen’s eyes.
Jensen lolls his head back against the seat. "Am I gonna make it, doc?"
A spike of irritation flares in Jared and he mutters, "Don't call me that."
"Testy," Jensen says, but then goes quiet as Jared carefully removes the handkerchief and peers at the cut. The bleeding has slacked off, reduced to a slow trickle.
"Sorry," Jared says quickly. "It's. It's just. Never mind. You had no way of knowing."
"Knowing what?" Jensen asks, and his fingertips brush Jared's jacket sleeve, like he's thinking about taking Jared's hand, his wrist. The darkness throws the touch into relief. Jared wonders where this softer, more affectionate version of Jensen has come from all of the sudden. "You can't just say something like that and not follow through."
"Like you're one to talk," Jared says around a snort. "I was in medical school," he tells Jensen. He takes a deep breath, lets it out nice and slow.
"Did you flunk out?"
Jared shakes his head. "No, I left. My dad got sick and I--I had to leave."
"Did he--?" Jensen leaves the question open ended.
"He didn't make it," Jared says. It's a wound that's five years old and has never quite healed all the way up again, more like fresh stitches rather than an old break. The slightest nudge will set it to bleeding again.
"The war?" Jensen asks, voice hushed and rough.
"Sorry," Jensen says. "Mine’s gone too. We're so alike in a lot of ways, you and I."
"How did it happen?"
"He was a miner. Tunnel caved in on him. What a piece of fresh hell that was. They say it was instantaneous, but I never quite believed them. Don't know if it was the methane that killed him, or if the roof stove him in, or." Jensen pauses, a shake to his voice that he tries to level out. "He could have starved to death for all we know. Or suffocated. Left my mother and me destitute.
Fifteen years on the job and the company pocketed the insurance money. She never saw a penny of it."
"Is that the crossroads of misfortune you were talking about before?"
"One stretch of it, yeah." Jensen goes quiet for a moment, cicadas and crickets filling in the void that his voice leaves behind. "Anyway, you don’t want to talk about it, so I won’t mention it again. The only thing I will say is that you should go back. You're smart. You'd do very well."
"One day, maybe," Jared says, putting the topic to rest.
He gets Jensen to his feet and cleans him up, and from this angle he can get a better look at the cut. His initial impression was correct; the gash runs long but it’s shallow, he must have gotten clipped by the guy's ring. Jared paints it with a stripe of iodine and Jensen hisses, little whine escaping from behind his clenched jaw.
"Don't be a wuss," Jared tells him. "I could have just as easily used the hooch you have hidden behind the seat. That really would have set your teeth on edge."
They're close, Jensen leaned against the side of the car and Jared bent toward him. Jensen's looking at Jared in this closed-off way. "What did you mean before,” Jensen says, “about your honor already being a lost cause?"
“It’s nothing.” Jared searches for something more to say, but he can't find a damn thing. It was a slip up. A monumental slip up and Jared wishes he could take it back, or at least find some way to make a joke out of it, but it's right there, hanging heavily between the two of them. A half-spoken truth, and a big part of Jared just wants Jensen to ask him outright, make the first move, because Jared’s a fool of a coward and damned if he's going to do it.
He thinks about his head on Jensen's thigh, thinks about Jensen pressed up behind him in the frozen morning, blankets piled on them and Jensen's hand on his hip. He's afraid of being wrong, but here, with Jensen's shoulder pressed against his in the dark Jared wonder's if he's not more afraid of being right.
Jared finds himself staring at Jensen's mouth, watches him pull his bottom lip between his teeth to leave it shiny and wet. The night is very, very still all around them. There's no one within shouting distance and for all Jared knows, the nearest sentient soul is miles and miles away. So much space in the world, and Jared wants nothing more than to crawl inside of Jensen's skin, make himself a little space inside of Jensen in the same way that Jensen's snuck inside of him.
“It’s not—“ Jared says, and stops when Jensen starts to speak at the same time.
"Jared, can I—" Jensen says then cuts off, shifts some so that their bodies are aligned, an inch apart. A fraction of an inch. He reaches out, slides his hand carefully along Jared's neck, fingertips cold where they come in contact with Jared's skin. "Goddamnit," Jensen whispers. "I told myself I shouldn’t do this.”
A hesitation, a tiny sliver of hesitation, and then Jared's leaning forward and Jensen's pushing up, bringing their chests flush together. And this is the best part, absolutely the best part, that shattering split second before anything actually happens, all that built-up energy lighting up between them, Jared takes a slow breath, and then Jensen pulls Jared down by the back of his neck, pressing their lips together, and Jared's heart is lodged in his throat.
Jared freezes, pulse stuttering. It's been so long, months and months that stack up to years since Jared's let himself feel something like this, and even then it didn't match up to what’s happening right now, to the flex of Jensen's fingers along the base of his skull, the taste of Jensen’s mouth and the smell of him, sweat and the iodine that Jared used on his cut, and the scent of his skin underneath it all.
Before Jared knows it, before he can suck Jensen's bottom lip into his mouth like he wants to, Jensen is taking a step back, a clear blown look of shock on his face and his hand visibly trembling as he knocks his hat off of his forehead and scratches at his jaw, and Jared is still reeling from shock himself, because he'd meant to kiss Jensen back. It's the only damn thing that he wants to do.
Jared’s sure that he looks just as surprised as Jensen does. Jared can’t take his eyes off of Jensen, and suddenly the world seems a little brighter, everything seems that much less impossible, the whole goddamn universe just opened up and laid itself bare at Jared’s feet.
"Jensen," Jared says, because he likes the shape of Jensen's name in his mouth, and he likes what it does to his heart. "Try it again. Do it again."
"Really?" Jensen says, a hopeful smile on his face, worry lines a thing of the past, looking so young right now. Fragile and unguarded and it's a look that Jared really likes on him.
"Yeah. C'mere,” he says, “I want to kiss you back this time."
And for once in his fucking life, Jensen doesn’t pipe up with some sarcastic comeback. He simply does what he’s told. He steps right in, crowds Jared up against the cool metal of the car and takes his hat off, placing it carefully on the hood. He grins, smiles at Jared for all he’s worth and Jared doesn’t think that he’s ever seen anything quite so wonderful.
When Jensen kisses him again, Jared’s skin feels too tight and his head seems like it’s attached to his body with a thin, wavering string. It’s hotter this time and more wet, lips warm as they stray on the corner of Jared’s mouth. The flashlight rolls off and hits the ground. Jared sees red on the back of his eyelids after the beam hits them, and he drags Jensen flush up against him, realizing that at some point he closed his eyes, trusting Jensen enough to be serious about this.
The last time he tried to kiss a man he got a black eye and a busted up mouth for his efforts.
Now Jensen has him by the front of his shirt. He yanks Jared in, widening his stance, making room. Jared's body gives in specific ways, fitting Jensen to him, hands splayed all along Jensen’s back, taking in the smooth shift of his shoulders and the way he arches into their kiss and damn, Jared could do this for hours. Days on end and never grow tired of it.
They push apart, and Jensen actually manages to look a little sheepish. “I’ve been wanting to do that since I first laid eyes on you back at the bar,” he admits. “Haven’t been able to think about anything else.” He teals a short, shy glance at Jared “Y’know, I kept thinking about the odds, and how they’d ever end up in my favor. My luck doesn’t usually run in that direction.”
“Odds of what?” Jared asks.
Jensen laughs. “The way I see it, I had about a two to one chance that you’d punch me in the face if I tried, and a ninety to one shot that you’d actually kiss me back.”
“Sounds pretty risky.” The night has taken on a surreal bend, a brand new surge of adrenaline making everything except Jensen feel very far away.
Jensen smiles at him, a full out no holds barred, beautiful grin that makes Jared’s stomach take a nosedive. “It was a chance I was willing to take.”
Jared laughs and reaches for him again. Jensen goes with it, allows Jared to pull him close, but only lands a gentle kiss to the side of Jared’s mouth. When Jared tries again, Jensen rises up on the balls of his feet and kisses the bridge of his nose.
“C’mon,” he says, pulling away, but his hand still lingers for a few seconds on the back of Jared’s neck. “Something tells me that we should put a few more miles in between us and our most recent misadventure.”
“You know, you were wrong,” Jared says. His pulse is rattling in his chest and his mouth still tingles “You said that you thought that I was going to be your good luck charm, but it seems to me like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”
“No, my dear,” Jensen says, as he opens the passenger door. His grin turns wicked, positively steeped with mischief. “Everything is coming up roses. Every single thing.”
They’d driven through the night, with Jared driving first, ignoring Jensen’s constant badgering that the car would hold up just fine against a little more speed on the straight-aways, then handing over the reins to Jensen when his eyes started to cross and his vision started to blur. He’d spent a couple of hours in a fitful doze that left him more tired than when he started, had awoken disoriented, parked in a fallow field with Jensen using his shoulder for a pillow.
The sign hanging on the door is rusted, punched tin that advertises gas and cold drinks, and is clogged with road dust. It’s the only place around, the only place they’ve seen for miles, and Jensen pulls over to the shrill sound of the bell ringing inside the station.
Jared spills out of the car as the gas station attendant approaches Jensen’s window, casting an appreciative glance at Jensen’s car like a man looking at a pretty pair of legs. The attendant swipes a rag over the fender, creates a clean streak through the road grime, sun glinting brightly off of the slick, curved metal, then uses the same rag on his hands to little effect, engine grease dug so deeply into the cracks of his hands and his fingernails that it’s probably permanent by this point.
Jared stretches, working the kinks out of his back from being folded inside of the car for so long, kicking at a few loose rocks on the concrete. The door to the garage stands open, some decade old, road weary clunker sits inside, most of its guts strewn around it. A dog sits smack in the middle of the large opening, its tail thwaps against the floor when it catches Jared looking in its direction.
The gas station sits right on the side of the road, the pavement itself just sort of bleeding into the parking lot of the joint. Directly opposite, a family sits around their busted-up junker. From the look of it, everything they own is stacked on top of the truck. A wooden fence has been used to make the sides of the truck’s bed higher, and they bow outward under the pressure of boxes and furniture, cookware nailed into the sides of the thing. Four of them hunker around an exposed axel, poking out of the fender like some skeletal, knobby knee bone.
As Jared looks on, a man approaches Jensen, wiping his hands on the thighs of his coveralls, nervously adjusting the brim of his straw hat. His face has the look of a man who has spent his entire life outdoors, deeply lined skin the color of old, supple leather. He starts speaking with Jensen, hiking his thumb over his shoulder toward his car, and Jared saunters over, curious, catching only the last half of the conversation.
“--highway robbery, but it’s not like we have a lot of choice in the matter. I could always roll the wheel to the next mechanic, but we’re not sure how far that is, and anyhow, who’s to say that he won’t charge me twice as much?”
“How much?” Jensen says, his sight pasted on a couple of kids who appear to be playing some game fashioned out of three stones, two sticks, and a whole pile of sandy dirt.
“We have half of it. We need ten dollars. Now listen,” the man says, “I’m not asking for handouts, I have my pride.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cloth wrapped broach, a delicately carved cameo, creamy white against a background of dark coral and framed in a fine silver filigree. Jared takes it, turns it over in his hand and holds it up to the bright sun. It’s the profile of a woman’s face, perfectly rendered with a strong Roman nose, hair bound in a band and falling down her neck and shoulders in detailed little swoops.
“It’s sardonyx,” Jared tells Jensen. “Said to bring good luck,” he points out, eyebrows raised.
Jensen opens his mouth to speak, but before he can, the gas station attendant joins them, starts pushing the man across the street with a harsh shout.
“Sorry about that, sir,” he says once he’s managed to run the man off. He spits between his teeth and continues, “That worthless man’s been here all morning. I’ve had to run him off of this property no fewer than four times so far. Can’t run him off of the road, though. Free country and all that.”
Jensen’s staring down at him with barely hidden contempt, nose wrinkled and lips twisted like he’s just gotten a mouthful of something sour. He hands the guy a twenty-dollar bill, and when he digs in his pocket to give Jensen his change, Jensen shakes his head. “Fix his wheel, and give him whatever’s left over.”
Ignoring the attendant’s argument, Jensen gets in his car and cranks the engine, starts off at barely a roll, and slows even further when he gets to where the man is standing on the side of the road. He holds the cameo out, face up on the palm of his hand. The man is clearly ashamed, persistent flush to his face and he’s refusing to look Jensen in the eye. “You forgot this back there.”
The man plucks it up from Jensen’s hand, opens his mouth to say something but nothing comes out.
Sullen and miserable, the mechanic crosses the street, takes the wheel from the car, and rolls it back toward the shop.
“You should hold onto that,” Jensen tells him. “Give it to your daughter when she grows up.”
“Thank you,” he says simply.
“Don’t,” Jensen replies, flattens his palm on the wheel of the car and steers them back onto the road.
"I didn't peg you for the Robin Hood type," Jared says. He takes a chance and slides his hand along the inside of Jensen’s thigh to give him a brief squeeze. He feels like love-drunk teenager, like a character straight out of one of those sappy Victorian romances his mother used to read when he was growing up. It’s ridiculous. Thrilling.
"These folks,” Jensen starts, waving in the direction of the family, still huddling around their car. “Okies, coal miners, the farmers in the Midwest, trying to grow grain in the desert. Everyone's always looking for the next big thing. So some folks pull up stakes and head west, and others just go where the wind blows them. It don't matter what they do or where they go, because they’ll never get it. The only difference is the color of the dust they end up choking on."
“You’re a regular social philosopher, too.”
Jensen shrugs, hikes up a corner of his mouth and gives Jared a sidelong glance. “See enough of this great nation of ours and a man can’t help but form a few opinions. Besides, if I’m Robin Hood, then you’re goddamn John Dillinger.”
They approach New York from the Jersey side, driving through a landscape made of metal and hazy with stinking coal smoke, factories and warehouses all around. The city skyline looms immense in front of them, cutting into the sky like a thing out of some futuristic novel, and no matter what she says, Jared still wishes that Lily was here to see it.
Once in the city proper, Jared can’t help but lean partially out of the window, his face turned skyward as he tries to see to the tops of the buildings.
“You might wanna close your mouth,” Jensen says. “You never know what might fly in.”
Jared sits back quickly, snaps his jaw closed. “Sorry,” he says, embarrassed. “I’ve only ever seen pictures before, and they don’t really do it justice.”
“No need. It makes me remember seeing it for the first time too. Y’know, what it felt like. It’s good to be reminded of that,” Jensen says, and turns onto a road wide enough to fit three cars side by side in either direction, which is good, since Jared’s never seen so many people and cars and storefronts in his life.
The Hotel Astor is more like a palace, it’s footprint is a city-block big and rises up twelve stories above the ground. Jensen parks in front of the grand entranceway, drops the keys into the white-gloved hand of a crisply dressed valet, and shakes his head minutely when Jared moves to grab his bag from the backseat.
A similarly outfitted doorman welcomes them into the lobby, and Jared takes two steps inside before freezing in his tracks, whistling low and trying to look in all directions at once. Shining marble everywhere, inlaid with polished brass in geometric designs. Members of metropolitan high society lounge on sofas and plush overstuffed chairs, clearly wanting to see and be seen.
Jensen touches Jared’s elbow to get him moving again. “If we have time later, I’ll give you the nickel tour.” He’s all swagger again, sauntering over to the main desk and either oblivious or ignoring the interested looks from the people hanging around the lobby.
“Hey there, Charlie,” Jensen says to the man behind the desk.
“Hello, Mr. Ackles,” Charlie greets him, then turns to Jared with a nod, “Good afternoon, sir. I trust you had a good trip?” He slides a key across the counter, and Jensen pockets it.
“Could have been better,” Jensen says with a shrug. “Could have been a lot worse.”
“May I ask if you’ll be in town long?”
“Impossible to say,” Jensen answers. “Maybe a day, maybe longer.” He takes a step away, then turns back. “Have some strawberries sent up to my room, would ya Charlie? And some seltzer. Ice too, while you’re at it.”
Charlie picks up the telephone on his desk, gleaming brass and ivory like the rest of the place. “Anything for you, sir?” he asks Jared.
“Um,” Jared stammers, “I wouldn’t mind a sandwich? Thanks.”
“Of course. Anything at all, sir.”
An elevator, mirrored inside and out, takes them to the tenth floor, and Jensen leads the way down a wide marble hall lined with potted palm plants and topped off with detailed molding along the ceiling.
“Wait a minute,” Jared says as Jensen opens a door at the end of the hall. “Do you live here?”
“Sometimes,” Jensen says. “As much as I live anywhere.”
“It must cost a fortune.”
Jensen sniffs. “Booze is big business, Jared. Buy low and sell high. Besides, I’m in with the manager here, got a little dirt on him, so he cuts me a hell of a deal.”
Their luggage has already been delivered, Jared’s bag placed carefully beside Jensen’s trunk, and they’re hardly inside the room before a member of the kitchen staff is pushing a cart through the doorway. Jensen removes the domed lid covering one of the platters, plucks up a strawberry by the stem and bites into it, closes his eyes and hums happily.
“I could live off of these things, I swear. Anyway,” he says around another bite as he points at different doors in the suite, “bedroom, bathroom, everything else.” Hiking a thumb toward the windows, he continues, “Pretty nice view.”
The bathroom is twice the size of Jared’s bedroom above the pharmacy, the tile a bright turquoise color that continues from the floor up to about chest level on the walls. The tub is a huge thing, claw-footed and standing alone in the center of the floor. Jared bends over the sink, lets the water run until it starts to steam up the mirror, scrubs at his face, and threads his wet fingers through his hair. He picks through the toiletries on the shelf, sniffs at the flowery shampoo, soaps and creams, wonders whether Jensen was the one to pick those out and hopes to hell that he wasn’t.
The main room is empty, so Jared wanders toward the bedroom, taking a second to twitch open the curtains and sneak a peek at the impressive view. The bedroom is as lavish as the other rooms, deep blue wallpaper with some transparent metallic fleur-de-lis design embossed on it, expensive furnishing all around, topped off with a large, four-poster bed.
Two days ago, Jared was sleeping in a shack in the backyard of a broke coalminer, and now he’s here, ambling through finery that most people only ever dream about, and the strangest thing of all is that he can’t for the life of him decide which is better.
Jensen’s standing in front of the wardrobe, doors flung open wide so that he can shuffle through his clothes. He’s stripped down to his undershirt, his trousers hanging crookedly on his hips.
“Nothing in here’s gonna fit,” he says.
Jared leans against the doorway, crosses his arms and cocks his head to the side. “I don’t know what to make of you. As soon as I think I’ve got you figured out…”
“That makes two of us. Most of the time, I can’t either, if that makes you feel any better.”
"Not particularly, but thanks for trying," Jared says, looping his arms around Jensen's neck when Jensen comes close enough. Jared's not sure of the boundaries of this thing, but is willing to push at them anyway, figure out exactly where Jensen draws the line, or if he draws any line at all. He cups the back of Jensen's head, enjoying the crushed velvet feel of his short hair, then ducks down to lightly kiss him.
Jensen gives as good as he gets, angling his head just so and deepening the kiss, small nips at Jared's mouth, sucking on Jared's bottom lip and then his tongue when Jared licks into him.
"Strawberries," Jared says, and moves down to kiss along Jensen's jaw, a day's worth of stubble rough on his lips and his tongue.
"Told you I could live off of those things. And you,” he adds, “I could definitely live off of you." Jensen says. He pushes harder against Jared, hemming him in against the doorjamb. It occurs to Jared that there's a perfectly good bed just a few steps away, but right now he's not terribly concerned with that, more occupied by the feel of Jensen's hands on the small of his back, their restless movement, the way Jensen's fingers dig into his waist and then sneak under his shirt and up along his ribs.
Jared startles a bit when Jensen moves south, skates his palm along the front of Jared’s pants. He’s not experienced, not by any stretch. Other than his own, Jared has had someone's hand on his dick precisely five times, and the first time didn't really count. Those other times don’t hold a candle to this. Jensen's grip on him is sure and solid, urging him fully hard. There’s confidence in every scrape of his teeth along Jared's jaw and every nip and bite at Jared's mouth.
"You alright?" Jensen asks with a low laugh as Jared jumps again when he snaps open the top button on Jared’s pants.
"Yeah," Jared breathes out, fighting to stay upright and force his lungs to do their job. "I'm--I'm great."
“You can’t tell me to stop anytime you want. No harm done.” Jensen shoves at Jared’s pants, takes his shorts down right along with them until they’re bunched around his thighs.
“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Jared swallows hard, his mouth suddenly bone-dry, his body hot all over.
“Good answer.” Jensen blinks slowly, his expression heated and low-lidded. He drops his eyes to Jared’s cock, swollen rock hard and hanging heavily between Jared’s legs, then jacks him from base to tip in the loose circle of his fingers. It’s nothing but a tease, the barest hint of friction but it still drags a soft groan out of Jared, makes him jab his hips forward and grasp at Jensen’s shoulders.
Jared’s groan seems to light a fire in Jensen, and he kisses Jared hard, pushes his tongue inside and traces the shape of Jared’s teeth, the roof of his mouth. Jared grabs handfuls of Jensen’s ass and squeezes, tries to pull him in that much more close. Jensen gasps into Jared’s mouth shivers against his chest, his shoulder bumping into Jared as he strengthens his grip on Jared’s cock.
“Tell me what you want, Jared. Tell me anything and it’s yours.”
Jared doesn’t know where to start, reeling with so many possibilities that it’s impossible to land on just one. “Faster,” Jared manages, and a second later, “harder.”
“Yeah?” Jensen says, voice pitched low and hoarse. “I’ll go one better.” Jensen spins them around and stoops down, braces his back against the doorframe and clutches at Jared’s hip for balance with one hand.
“Holy—“ Jared mutters, anticipation building in his gut as Jensen darts his tongue out and licks the tip of his cock.
“Not exactly,” Jensen tells him with a dark look. “But I do appreciate the sentiment.”
He pulls Jared nearer to him, takes the head of Jared’s cock into his mouth and sucks, hollows his cheeks around it and closes his eyes. His face smoothes out, and Jared thinks that he almost looks relieved, like some constant thread of tension has finally unraveled.
Sex had always been a thing that was deviant for Jared. A secret, dirty itch that needed to be scratched. He never knew it could be like this. Nobody every told him. There’s something so indulgent about this moment, something incredibly decadent about having Jensen’s mouth on his cock right now, with the afternoon sunlight streaming in through the open curtains, the sounds of the city pouring in from below.
Jensen swallows him down further, soft lips a tight seal around the width of Jared’s cock, the muscles in his neck flexing as he works his mouth up and down. Jared trips ahead a step, knees buckling, tilts so that he’s towering over Jensen, his forearm resting against the doorframe and his hips thrusting forward a fraction.
Jensen makes an appreciative, happy sound that causes a whole new wave of sensation to zip along Jared’s spine, and sends him crashing toward his orgasm. Jared tries to warn him, fingers skipping across the back of Jensen’s neck, but it only serves to spur Jensen on, and he sucks Jared down more deeply, opens his jaw wider and flattens his tongue along the underside of Jared’s cock. He only pulls off at the very last second, spit-slick hand pumping Jared’s orgasm out of him, mouth slack and open, tongue snaking out to catch sticky, hot pulses of Jared’s come.
Jared shudders, holds his breath and bites the inside of his cheek to stem the sated moan that builds in the back of his throat. Jensen’s still on his knees, his mouth and chin sloppy with spit and come, his face flushed and his cock a hard line that pushes at the front of his pants. It takes Jared almost a full minute for his senses and his manners to line up again.
He pulls Jensen to his feet and kisses him, the taste of his own come in Jensen’s mouth enough to make his dick twitch feebly, fumbles and shoves at the waistband of Jensen’s pants. He’s impatient, can’t to get his hand on Jensen’s cock, to learn the weight and the feel of him.
Jensen’s not much help, mouthing on Jared’s collarbone, his spit soaking through Jared’s shirt, then setting his teeth in the meat of Jared’s shoulder when Jared finally works his pants free and slips his hand inside the slit of Jensen’s shorts.
It doesn’t take long. Jensen’s half there already, hitches his hips and fucks into Jared’s hand, precome slicking the way. He tips backward, angles his shoulders against the wall and scrabbles for Jared’s wrist, mouth pulling into a snarl that looks almost painful as he comes, spunk shooting up along Jared’s arm and soaking into the front of his shirt.
Jared’s legs aren’t behaving the way they ought to, He’s pleasantly dizzy, and still somehow extremely turned on, head spinning with all the things he wants to do with Jensen and to Jensen. The massive bed is like a siren call, and Jared tries to pull Jensen in that direction, only Jensen puts on the brakes.
“As much as I’d like to lay you out and make use of every square inch of that bed, we’ve got work to do. We’re going out, so get cleaned up. Again.”
“It’s all about looking the part, and right now you look like you just got spit out of one of those fraternity parties they talk about in Vanity Fair.” Jensen holds the door open for Jared and pushes him inside the store. Jared’s never been anywhere like this before, usually orders all of his clothes through the catalogs that get mailed to the pharmacy. He’s tall, big in the shoulders and skinny around the waist and knows he’s a tough fit, has to have everything he buys tailored for him by the seamstress that works at the dry cleaners a block away from his place.
“Mr. Ackles,” a man says as soon as they walk through the door. Mr. Walter, owner is engraved on the brushed brass surface of his name badge on his lapel. A measuring tape hangs from around his neck and he has a pincushion attached to his wrist by an elastic band. His hair is parted on the side, slicked down so much that the shape of his skull can be seen underneath it.
A couple hours later, Jared has been poked and prodded to distraction. He’s been measured and re-measured, shoved into all manner of shirts and jackets and vests that don’t quite fit, and now he’s standing here in the finished product, wanting very badly to get his fingers under his collar and give it a good yank.
Jensen’s been sitting on a plush chair in the fitting room as Mr. Walter clucks and tuts over Jared, his legs crossed, an untouched glass of wine at his elbow. He keeps moving his finger thoughtfully along his bottom lip, a subconscious habit that’s distracting Jared to no end.
“It’s the best I can do on such short notice,” Walter says, circling around Jared and pulling on Jared’s suit jacket, setting it straight on his shoulders, testing the fit and the length of the sleeves. “If you give me a day to make some alterations--”
“It’s marvelous. We’ll take it,” Jensen interrupts, “Put it on my tab.”
When Walter leaves, Jared is finally able to loosen the tie and shrug out of the jacket. “I feel like one of those dress up dolls you see in the window of the toy store,” he complains. “I can’t wait to get out of this thing.”
Jensen stands, crosses the room to slide his hand up the front of Jared’s vest, fiddles with his tie and tucks some stray hair behind Jared’s ear. He gives him his best smile and says, “And I can’t wait to get you out of it, but we have some business to attend to first.”
For the first time since this enterprise began, Jared feels like he’s in his element. Sure, this place is glitzier than his speakeasy, it’s louder and larger and the clientele have a lot more money, but the polished wood of the bar table feels familiar under his fingers, the bartenders keep their sleeves rolled up and their aprons starched, just like back home, and the pervasive smell of liquor is comforting.
Jared’s tucked into a booth near the back, straight whiskey in a glass at his fingertips and Jensen sitting close to his side.
The crowd lets out a cheer as a man makes his appearance at the entrance, even the smoky-voiced jazz singer on the stage pauses in the middle of her song. The man is tall, dark curly hair and dark eyes, has a wide-open smile, and when he waves, Jared can see the glint of gold rings on almost every one of his fingers.
“That’s the man we’re here to see,” Jensen says, ducking to speak close to Jared’s ear so that he can be heard over the noise.
“Who is he?” There’s something about him that Jared can’t quite put his finger on. Something familiar.
“Jeff Morgan. He owns half the gin-mills in this city, and has the rest of them under his thumb, far as anyone can tell.”
“Goddamn,” Jared says. He knocks back half of the glass, and then comes back for seconds.
“I take it you’ve heard of him,” Jensen says. It isn’t a question.
“You could say that.” Morgan’s one of the most infamous figures in the booze trade. Rumors say that he owns half the distilleries on St. Pierre Island, and that most of the liquor that comes into the city gets there on boats that circuitously belong to him. There’s even talk that he has the Coast Guard running his rum upon occasion. He’s never been caught; so slick that even rain slides right off of him.
“Let’s get this over with,” Jensen says, a grim look on his face as he slides out of the booth.
Morgan’s seated at the center of his reserved table, surrounded by his lackeys like a king holding court. A slender man is balanced on his knee, barely twenty by the look of him, and Morgan is feeding him champagne straight out of the bottle.
“Interesting,” Jared says, under his breath.
“Yeah, it’s the city’s best kept secret that isn’t actually a secret at all.” Jensen says it with a sneer that makes Jared think that there might be some kind of history there. It dredges up Jared’s curiosity, makes him think about how much he still doesn’t know about Jensen, but he keeps his mouth shut.
Morgan’s eyes go wide the moment he sees Jensen, and he sends his company away with the tiniest movement of his hand.
“Jensen,” he says, “my prodigal son. Returning to the fold, I see.” Morgan’s voice is deep, he purrs at Jensen in a way that immediately gets under Jared’s skin.
Jensen turns down an invitation to sit at Morgan’s table, introduces Jared as a business associate and gets right down to it. “I need ten cases. Tonight, if you can swing it. And I know you can.”
“Of course I can,” Morgan says with a smile. “You’re talking chump change, kid. I prefer to deal in volume, but I’ll cut you a deal for old time’s sake. A thousand, cash. Six hundred now and the rest at pick-up.”
“Son of a bitch,” Jensen snarls. “That’s almost twice the going rate.” He clenches his fists, knuckles bloodless and white. A muscle starts to tic in his jaw.
Morgan sits back in his chair. “That’s what we in the business call cornering the market. You and I both know that you wouldn’t come to me unless you have to.”
Jensen narrows his eyes, presses his mouth into a strict, angry line, and Jared realizes he needs to do something to diffuse the situation, and he needs to do it fast. Picking a fight with Jeff Morgan is bad enough, a hundred times worse when it’s happening under his own roof. Jared also knows that he didn’t come all this way to go back empty-handed.
“Listen,” Jared says, bending over to press his knuckles against the table. “You’re a business man, and you’re in it to make money, I get that.” He’s scared, in over his head by about a mile, and doesn’t know how he’s managing to keep his voice steady. “I could tell you some sob story about how I’m sunk into my bar up to my neck, about how everything I own is wrapped up in it, in one way or another, and if it goes bust, so do I. All of that would be true. But see, it’s not about me, and it never has been.”
Morgan hunches forward, elbows on the table and fingers tented in front of him. “Go on. I’m listening.”
“ Like I said, whether you cut us a fair deal's not about me. It's about the guy who guards the door for hours and hours at a clip to keep us all safe, and it’s about the girl who plays the piano, who has two kids at home and a deadbeat for a husband. It’s about the kid that comes in after we close to scrub the floors and wash the glasses, and the guy who cooks the books, and the man who does our laundry. It’s about the goddamn paperboy, and everybody else who gets paid with money we make selling gin.”
Morgan raises an eyebrow, looks at Jensen and asks, “Is he done?” Morgan asks.
Jared straightens, feels the press of Jensen’s hand at the small of his back, and takes one more shot of courage from it. “And it’s about fucking over JD Rockefeller.”
Morgan is very still for a few stretched out moments, carefully considering. Jared holds his breath. Finally, he claps his hand on the table. “Six hundred. Pay up front.”
“Four,” Jared counters. He’s already come this far. It can’t hurt to go a little further.
“Four and a half, and throw in a bottle of that champagne you’re drinking. On the house.”
Morgan tosses his head back and laughs. “You’ve got yourself a deal, kid.” He waves a waitress over, whispers something in her ear, and she rushes off. “What are you, a lawyer or something?”
Jared shrugs. “Medical school dropout.”
“Even better.” Morgan turns to Jensen. “Where did you pick him up, anyway?”
“Some street corner a couple of hundred miles south of here,” Jensen answers. He’s not taking his eyes off of Jared, and he seems to be fighting a smile.
“Don’t lose him,” Morgan says.
“I don’t plan on it.”