Jensen cracks open the bottle of champagne as soon as they step into the elevator, and Jared glances pointedly at the carefully complacent man operating the lever.
“You’re in New York, my darling boy,” Jensen reminds him. “Here, prohibition is more of a technicality rather than a hard and fast rule.” He takes a sip and passes it over to Jared.
Jared takes a sip. The stuff is sweet, bubbly, tickles Jared’s nose in a way that’s not entirely unpleasant, so he goes for a second sip, and then a third before handing it over to Jensen again.
Almost a third of the bottle is gone by the time they make it to Jensen’s floor, and they walk arm in arm through the corridors, passing it back and forth, stealing small looks at each other like a couple of love-drunk teenagers. Jared’s pleasantly buzzed, but Jensen’s weaving a little by the time they find Jensen’s suite, and he completely misses the keyhole three full times before Jared snatches the key from him and does it himself.
As they tumble into the room, Jared says, “For a bootlegger, you have absolutely no tolerance.”
The grin Jensen gives him is beatific, all innocence through and through. “It’s what we in the business call irony.” He takes one last sip, then holds the bottle up to Jared’s mouth for him to finish it off.
Crossing the room, Jensen leaves a trail of clothes in his wake. His shoes are the first to go, followed by his jacket, which he throws over a chair, his shirt and undershirt tossed on top of that a moment later. He spins to face Jared, threading Jared’s tie between his fingers and using it like a leash as he pulls Jared toward the bedroom.
“I still can’t believe that you pulled that off,” Jensen says, circling behind Jared and easing the jacket off of Jared’s shoulders. He remains behind him, pulls the tie loose and untucks Jared’s shirt, deft fingers making quick work of the buttons. “There might be hope for you after all.”
“I bet you wouldn’t have said that a few days ago, when you thought that I was just the muscle of the operation,” Jared says. He’s mostly kidding, but then again, he’s mostly not.
“You’re right about that,” Jensen agrees. “There are a lot of things that I wouldn’t have said a few days ago.” His voice has taken on a tone that skips right past teasing and heads straight for sexy as hell. He backs Jared up to the bed, tents his fingers on Jared’s chest and shoves at him to tip his balance and make him drop onto the mattress with a small bounce. A second later, he’s pulled Jared’s undershirt over his head and is crawling into his lap, straddling Jared’s hips.
“God, Jared. Watching you take on Morgan like that? I couldn’t get you back here fast enough.” Jensen’s mouth is open before he even gets to Jared, licking inside from the start. Jensen begins to circle his hips in tiny bursts, sliding his ass along Jared’s cock. Jared’s instincts get the best of him and he bucks up, hands splayed wide on the small of Jensen’s back to flip them over, spreading his knees to make a space for himself between Jensen’s legs. Jared pins Jensen’s arms, holding Jensen’s wrists above his head, likes the way Jensen’s pulse amps up in response. How it makes Jensen’s eyes go wide, the darkness of his pupils eating up all of the green until only a sliver is visible.
Jared feels reckless, half crazy, riding some kinda high that can’t be blamed on a little bit of champagne. He rolls his hips up and in, rubbing his cock along hot line of Jensen’s, tasting Jensen’s breath as the two of them strain and struggle against each other.
“Would you let me?” Jared asks. The small quiet part of his internal clockworks that controls his rational thought is losing out to his drive to get closer to Jensen, as close as he can get.
“Fuck. Yeah. Yes. I’ve never wanted anything more in my life.”
Jared rolls onto his back, lifts and kicks his pants off, his cock straining and curving toward his stomach. He jacks himself idly, watching as Jensen finishes ditching his own clothes and digs underneath the stack of pillows on the bed. He unscrews the cap from the small bottle he’s found, slicks up Jared’s fingers then laying back on the bed, spreading his knees wide and staring over at Jared in a way that would put any pin-up girl in the world to shame.
He opens Jensen up slowly, gradually, waits for Jensen to nod before adding another finger. He keeps his eyes on Jensen’s face the whole time, wanting to memorize every change in Jensen’s expression, fold it up in some small corner of his memory and never let it go.
With a frustrated sound, Jensen shifts, straddles Jared’s hips and plants his hands firmly on Jensen’s chest for balance. It turns out that Jensen has a definite idea of how he wants this to go, and Jared’s only too happy let him have his way. Jensen finds the bottle in the tangle of blankets and slicks Jared up, jacking him a couple of times from base to tip, then lines them up. He hisses through the stretch as he sinks down on Jared’s cock.
It’s slow, almost painfully slow and Jared wants nothing more but to push up inside of Jensen as deeply as he can go. Instead, he concentrates on the sight of Jensen, the arch of his back and how he lets his head hang forward, the feeling of Jensen’s thighs beneath his hands, and the flush that spreads all over his chest.
Jensen slides down a little further, leans forward and kisses the corner of his mouth, curiously chaste in the face of all else, then lifts up again, his tight rim stretching around the flared head of Jared’s cock. Jared feels it the instant Jensen relaxes, opens up and takes Jared in all the way. A sigh slips from Jensen’s lips as he fucks down on him again, his ass flush against Jared’s thighs. He starts in on an easy sinuous slide, gasps when Jared wraps his hands around his waist and begins to push up, countering Jensen’s movements.
Jensen’s cock slaps against Jared’s belly with every thrust, dotting his belly with clear beads of precome. Jared takes him in his fist, jerks him fast and hard, bites off a curse when Jensen clenches down all around him, thighs tightening around Jared’s waist as Jensen comes like a shot, hot spunk mixing with the sweat on Jared’s skin.
“God, Jared. Fuck. Fuck.”
And it’s the sound of Jensen’s voice that does Jared in, the broken, wrecked rasp of it. Jared’s vision goes blurry, indistinct around the edges, and he bears down on Jensen, holding him in place, toes curled against the mattress as he comes hard, hips moving in desperate, shallow thrusts.
Jensen topples forward, blankets Jared’s body with his own, chests flush together and sloppy with sweat. Hazy, Jared thinks about the bathtub in the other room, and how it might be nice to scrub Jensen’s back, get him clean so he can dirty him up all over again. He scrapes his fingernails gently along the ridge of Jensen’s spine, shifts a little and is about to open his mouth to speak, but Jensen beats him to it.
Jensen brushes Jared’s sweaty hair away from his face, and presses his lips to the bridge of Jared’s nose. He stares at Jared in a way that makes Jared believe that he’s not the only one trying to commit some things to memory.
“I can hear you thinking from all the way over here,” Jensen says. “Just. Gimme a minute, okay? Just a minute.”
Jared pads out into the hallway, lets the door close behind him with a quiet click, careful not to rouse Jensen. It’s hours before dawn and the corridor is empty and silent. He’s still mildly tipsy, doesn’t want to test his stomach against the lurch of the elevator, so he decides to go up rather than down, and roams the maze of halls until he finds a stairway.
Two flights of stairs take him to the hotel’s rooftop garden, as ornate and elegant as the rest of the place. Wrought iron benches and tables dot the open space. Evergreens trimmed in geometric shapes stand in raised beds, and strings of tiny white lights crisscross above Jared’s head.
Jared’s the only soul up here and he crosses to the railing, stares down at the street a dozen stories below. The city is still awake, but subdued by the hour. The jazz halls are closed for the night, the legal ones, anyhow, and the storefronts are all dark. People walk along the sidewalk, hunched together in small groups of twos and threes, and cars are rolling slower down the street than earlier today.
He thinks about going home tomorrow. He thinks about trivial things like the backlog of orders he’d left behind, and about how he forgot to write down the formula for the liniment that Miss Esther uses for her arthritis so that Jim could make it instead. His thoughts keep circling around to Jensen, over and over like a scratched record. He keeps picturing Jensen’s smile, the look on his face the first time he’d kissed Jared, and the completely different expression the last time they’d kissed. A fierce protectiveness smacks into him when he wonders where Jensen will be this time next week, who he’ll be with and whether he’ll be safe. What it would take to make Jensen stick around, for a little while at least, and whether he should even try.
The rooftop door opens behind him, and Jared spins to find Jensen spilling out of it in a rush. His hair stands up in sloppy spikes, and he’s got lines on his face from his pillow. His shirt is rumpled and the buttons are misaligned. His shoulders relax the instant he sees Jared, and his walk slows to his characteristic amble.
“There you are,” he says, and joins Jared in leaning against the railing.
“You fell asleep before giving me the nickel tour you promised,” Jared teases. “Reckon I had to do it myself.”
“There’s still time,” Jensen says. “I’ve got a few days to kill before my next gig. I could show you around the city some.”
Jared shakes his head. He knows himself. Two days would turn into four, and then maybe a week or longer. Jared doesn’t need a couple of years of schooling under his belt to recognize that a clean break is a hell of a lot easier to set than a crooked one.
“We should get to bed then,” Jensen says with a bump of his hip against Jared’s. He doesn’t sound disappointed, just resigned, and that cuts into Jared more deeply than he’d expected. “Leave early enough and we’ll get you home by lunchtime.”
“Wait,” Jared says, partly because he’s not at all tired, and partly because he wants to listen to Jensen’s voice for a little while longer. “You never told me about the deputy sheriff.”
Jensen chuckles. “Well, his son and I used to be thick as thieves. We grew up together. The very first time I tasted moonshine was because he brought it to me.” He moves behind Jared and circles his arms low around Jared’s waist. Jared leans back and Jensen says into his ear, “We were young, and if you grew up where we grew up, your prospects were…limited, to say the least. Anyway, we saved up our money and bought all the fixin’s for a still, set it up in a hollow outside town. Fancied ourselves regulation moonshiners.”
“I think I see where this is going,” Jared says.
As Jensen goes on, his accent grows thicker. “His daddy caught wind of it, how I never did find out. Of course he blamed me for leading his innocent son down the garden path, but he didn’t know that half of it. We did a lot more than brew liquor in those woods.”
“What happened to him?” Jared asks, turning around to face Jensen.
He tightens his embrace on Jared for a second before letting go. “Last I heard, he found God. I’m pretty sure he found Him on the end of his father’s switch. And me, well. I found the road.” “Can’t help but think that I got the better end of the bargain.”
The drugstore is filled with its usual cast of characters. Kids mill around the candy shelves, counting the coins they scrounge out of their pockets. Dock workers clog the soda counter in the back, lining up for one of Kate’s famous root beer floats. A few people pace up and down the center aisle, waiting for Jim to finish putting together their orders.
All is as it should be. The store is still standing. They haven’t been busted. Jared should be happy about this, take some small comfort in the familiarity and the routine of it, but he doesn’t. His fingers are sore from chewing his nails to the quick on the trip home, and his jaw aches from grinding his teeth so hard that he’s surprised he didn’t crack a few when he ran out of fingernails to gnaw. All of this pales in comparison to the huge hollow space that’s so recently taken up residence in his chest.
It had been a nerve wracking trip, to say the least, literally sitting on a dozen cases of hooch. There was a discernable slosh every time Jensen hit the brakes too hard. Some had been hidden in compartments beneath and inside the front and back seats, and more in Jensen’s trunk strapped to the back of the car. Enough to keep the speakeasy stocked for a couple of months if they kept to their usual schedule. Maybe longer.
Misha sits on a stool behind the cash register, his nose buried in the morning paper. When the bell rings over the door, he flips one corner of it down and acknowledges Jared with a small nod.
Jared ducks under the counter, smiles at a couple of repeat customers as he feels underneath for the hidden key. It’s not in its usual spot, but just then Jim comes up beside him and slips it into his pocket.
“Took you long enough,” Jim says low, but he claps Jared on the shoulder and offers up one of his very rare smiles.
“Not quite done yet,” Jared murmurs. It’s one of several safeguards; the basement door only unlocks from the inside. He makes for the back stairway and takes them two at a time, then rushes across the empty bar. Jared slots the key into the lock and pauses, feeling like a man about to face the gallows, forehead pressed to the metal door, waiting for the painful lump in his throat to ease off.
Five minutes. He only has to make it through five more minutes. Five minutes of pretending that he’s fine, that sending Jensen away with a slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek is the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
He unlocks the door, cracks it open and steals a few seconds to look at Jensen. Just look at him. He’s soaked in sunshine, and leaning against his car. His arms and ankles are crossed, his face tipped down and mostly hidden by his hat, just like the first time they met. And for a second, Jared hates him. Hates Jensen’s sarcasm and his wit, his sweet tooth, his smile and his laugh, hates his quiet generosity the way he sees the good in the sort of people that others can’t wait throw away. He hates all of these things and a hundred more besides, and the low-down bitch of the thing is that he loves all of it twice as much.
Jensen looks up as Jared opens the door the rest of the way. “I was starting to think that you got lost,” he says.
Jared hums, not ready to trust his voice quite yet, shoulders past Jensen and levers up the back seat to reveal the first five cases.
Taking up a post at the mouth of the alley, Jensen keeps watch while Jared unloads the cargo, places it in neat stack inside the door of the speakeasy. He’ll recruit Chris to help him stash it later. The entire time he counts the seconds. Five minutes. He might be able to cut it down to four is he moves fast enough. Possibly three and a half.
Jared finishes and puts Jensen’s car to rights. He rubs his sleeve on the chrome handle of the car door until it shines, concentrates on buffing it and not looking Jensen in the eye.
“We made a good team back there,” Jensen starts. “You’re pretty handy in a tight spot.”
Jared nods, tries not to latch onto all the things that Jensen isn’t saying. “I saved your ass and you know it,” he says, trying to cover up with bravado.
Jensen scuffs his shoe against the cobblestones, and Jared wishes he would just get it over with, stop drawing it out.
“My ass, and my face,” Jensen points out. “I kinda think that’s more important.”
“Depends on who you ask,” Jared jokes.
Jensen tries for a smile and hits well south of one. He opens his arms and Jared steps into them, a huge, carved-out space where his willpower used to be, and holds onto Jensen very tightly for the longest time, his face buried in Jensen’s neck and his hands balling into fists on Jensen’s back. Jared doesn’t bother to count. It’s been longer than five minutes.
Jensen presses his lips to Jared’s temple, three brief little kisses, and that’s when Jared’s resolve breaks down entirely.
“You could stay,” he whispers, right in Jensen’s ear. “Lay low and go legitimate for a while. See how it suits you.” It’s not fair. It’s not even in the same hemisphere as fair. It asking Jensen to give up one of his defining characteristics, one of the things that makes him who he is.
Jensen breathes out with force, his breath warm on Jared’s neck. “Sweetheart, don’t you see? We’re criminals. We’re always gonna be criminals.” He takes Jared’s face in his hands, thumbs swiping at the thin skin beneath his eyes. Jensen kisses him, says against Jared’s mouth, “I’ll come back. I promise.”
Although he told himself he wouldn’t, Jared watches Jensen get in his car, get it started and put it in gear. Hell, he even waves when Jensen gets it rolling, but then resolutely turns away.
Jared supposes that’s the thing about giving somebody your heart. You’re not allowed to ask for it back.
The door had slipped closed while Jared wasn’t paying attention, and he tries the handle, knowing full well it’s locked. Jared waits a couple of minutes, wishing Chris was around, so he could steal a smoke from him and have something to do with his hands. He doesn’t want to risk catching another glimpse of Jensen’s car. It was hard enough the first time, and Jared doesn’t think he’ll be able to stomach a second time. So he waits, counts the seconds until he loses track, and jogs toward the front door of the pharmacy. Misha turns down the corner of his paper down again. He’s showing a little more interest this time, eyebrows raised and a small smile playing around his mouth.
Someone taps on Jared’s shoulder, and he spins to find Jensen standing close, a root beer float clenched in one hand, and another balanced in the crook of his elbow, dripping ice cream onto his coat. Jared’s half-way to pissed before Jensen looks up at him with a wry grin, and hands him one of the floats.
“The things you do to me,” Jensen says, shaking his head. “So, ah. Do you wanna go fishing?”
Thanks for reading!