The five minutes’ walk Ackles promised him turns into ten and when they get lost, ten turns into fifteen.
“Oh right, this is the street. Got it. This time I’m sure!”
“You said that the last three times.”
If he’s pouting he doesn’t know. Ackles grins sheepishly, brushes his knuckles against Jared’s and Jared tries not to shiver, more than a little jangled as to why he’s shivering at all.
Just nerves, yeah. It’s just nerves.
“Sorry, this time I’m positive. Come on.”
He turns into the next left and Jared bites his lower lip. Concentrates on walking as evenly as he can, praying the limp isn’t showing, although so far Ackles doesn’t seem to have noticed.
Of course that might also be because he’s too busy talking about himself.
“Dr. Ferris was always my favorite professor back in college. She’s got a serious knack for storytelling, you know. She can literally keep you on the edge of your seat for hours, biting your nails in suspense.”
Jared nods and smiles, wincing slightly in pain, rolling his eyes inside. He can do that too - keep you on edge without release for hours if that’s what you prefer…
“Man, you gotta meet her. She’s scorching hot! So anyway, she caught up with me at a press conference in LA and told me about this summit. It’s a really prestigious gathering and like every year the underlying theme is Ethics and Excellence in Journalism. But what really intrigued me was the subject she wanted me to talk on – the Politics of Truth. And I just jumped at it, ‘cause I think that’s a very interesting and relevant concept for today’s day and age, don’t you?”
Jared nods automatically. Yeah. Sure, why not.
“I mean, think about it. A journalist’s first obligation may be to the truth. But is that the only obligation we have? Aren’t we also responsible for the consequences of unveiling that truth? How true is the truth anyway? And must everyone have the right to know each and every truth or are there truths that simply cannot be revealed to everyone because they only end up doing more harm than good? If yes, how much of the truth can you ethically reveal? And if it’s only half a truth, is it true at all? And just because you think it’s true, is that enough to… oh man, I’m sorry. I’m really boring you aren’t I?”
Jared laughs. “No, not at all. You… you ask too many questions.”
Ackles smirks back. “It’s my job. It’s what makes us - the press - so important, and intimidating. We’re the ones not afraid to ask the hard questions.”
Jared shrugs and looks down, concentrating on walking straight. “Sometimes it’s just easier to not know the answer.”
He feels Ackles’ eyes on him, and his face burns like it’s never burned before.
“So you’re one of those.”
“One of who?”
“The kind who turn their backs to the truth. Put their middle fingers in their ears and sing la-la-la while the world around them burns to the ground.”
Jared stops walking. Narrows his eyes at the other man while his knee enjoys the brief moment of reprieve. Clearly Ackles has a limited worldview, one of a self-assured idealist who’s never had to go to bed on an empty stomach, unless of course it was by choice.
“You know how some people can multi-task and others can’t?”
Ackles stops a couple of steps ahead, and turns. Puts his hands in his slacks pockets. “Yeah?”
“It’s the same deal. Maybe these people you’re referring to with so much disdain, have enough so-called ‘truths’ in their own lives to worry about first. Truths they must face every single day, truths that don’t just go away by turning their backs to them, no matter how big or small they might be in the whole… grand scheme of things that you can afford to worry about. Maybe, in the interest of preserving their own sanity, they just need to focus on one truth at a time?”
Ackles squints for a couple seconds like he’s actually mulling it over in his head, then suddenly turns and starts walking again, leaving Jared with no choice but to follow.
“Truth’s a truth, Jared. Big or small. You have to acknowledge it. And sometimes you don’t need to do anything about it, least maybe not right away. Just… know what’s right and what’s not and tell others what’s right and what’s not. Spread the word and make the world just that tiny bit better for it. That’s all.”
Jared chuckles. “And I suppose you want me to trust the judgment of the media about the truth? Put my blind faith in you guys?”
“No. Not everybody.” He shakes his head then quickly grins, waits for Jared to catch up with him. “But you can trust Achilles any day!”
“Sure. Because you always know what’s fact and what’s fiction, huh?”
Ackles sighs, his eyebrows rising all the way up to his hairline. “I try to! Believe me. I try so hard, Jared, I do all the running around and the checks and verifications to make sure you don’t have to. I present to you only the information that I know for a fact is accurate. All you gotta do is tune in and trust me.”
Jared laughs then. “Shipwrecked by the laughter of Gods…”
Ackles squints at him again, but suddenly looks away. “Here we are. The Prime Rib.”
The torturous walk ends at last and Jared looks up at the restaurant building in wondrous relief. Delight crosses his mind next, with disappointment right on its tail.
“What, you don’t like steak?”
“I love steak.” And that’s the problem.
It’s a great place from the looks of it, elegant and intimate. Chic. The kind Jared would never step into by himself.
He’s just happy to plonk himself on a wide, posh couch, stretching his aching leg out and for a change there’s enough room to do so without fear of tripping a passing waiter and getting kicked out. Ackles is six feet one himself at least, and by the look on his face he treasures the wide-open space just as much.
“What will you have?”
“Uh…” He buries his nose in the tastefully hardbound menu booklet. Everything looks so freaking expensive. Of course there’s always the credit card he could use…
“If you don’t mind, I could make a few recommendations.”
Thank God. “Uh, sure. W-Why don’t you go ahead and order for me?”
Ackles raises an eyebrow but then he shrugs, quite happy to take charge it seems, and starts to rattle off a couple of appetizers and entrées to the stewardess. Jared watches the rise and fall of his enviably thick eyelashes, subtly entranced.
He’s something alright. Jensen Ross Ackles. A fascinating combination of down home country languor with upstate New York sophistication. Long manicured fingers wrapped around his sweating bottle of Sam Adams, smacking his beer-wet lips, raking Jared from head to whatever is visible above the table with his eagle-sharp eyes.
“So, anyway. Wow. I talk a lot. And you don’t talk at all.”
Jared smiles tightly, wondering if Ackles would have said the same thing if they’d met four years ago.
“So tell me something about yourself.”
“There isn’t much to tell.”
“There’s always something to tell.”
“Yeah, but it’s not always interesting.”
“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”
Okay. I’m a hooker. I’m here to fuck you so they can take your pictures and post them all over the Internet. Or blackmail you with them or give them to your ex-wife, whatever. I don’t care what they do. I don’t even care if they blur my face out like they said they would or not. Because this guy, James Marsters or someone, is going to pay me so much freaking money that I’d never ever thought was possible in this line of work. So much that I’d be able to…
Ackles snaps his fingers in his face. “Earth to Jared?”
“Have to say you’re not trying very hard, Padalecki.”
Ackles smirks, and Jared frowns. “What do you mean?”
“If you wanna get in my pants, you’ve got to do better than that.”
“I…” Jared sputters on empty air. “I don’t…”
That deep resounding laughter echoes again. “I’m kidding, man. Relax!”
The food arrives and it smells heavenly and Jared’s stomach rumbles loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear. But he can’t eat, not yet. Because when he starts eating, sometimes he can’t stop. And especially when it’s steak. And his tummy rounds up and he feels sluggish as hell and this is a job he can’t afford to mess up and he needs to be clean inside and…
“I’ve traveled the length and breadth of this big-ass country and, man, trust me. This is the best, most awesome steakhouse in all of America.”
Thanks. That helps.
“So, tell me about this coaching job of yours.”
Jared sighs, barely picks at the food set before him resolutely. School he can talk about. It’s the only part of his life that he’d even want to talk about.
“That job is like… my pride and joy. Doesn’t pay much, they can’t afford a full-time coach so, I, kind of have a couple other small-time jobs on the side.”
He looks up discreetly at Jensen to observe his reaction. The man seems hooked. No pun intended.
“It’s sort of in the bad part of town, you know – overrun by gang wars and shit like that. But these kids are so great with so much potential, they just never got a break you know? And they love basketball. It’s like they bring all their anger and frustrations and pain to the court and they pummel each other and they scream and curse and, sometimes they play dirty. But I’d rather have them work it out on my court than out on the streets. You should see them at the end of the day. Their hearts are lighter, their faces are brighter, and when it’s time to leave they just don’t wanna go.”
He shakes his head nostalgically. Remembers how TJ’s face falls every time after dark his big brother comes to drag his ass back home. Remembers how Jeff used to look after him like that.
Time to go home, baby bro…
A fork clinks as it’s put down on a plate, startling him. Ackles is smirking at him, his eyes glazed with something that could be lust. Could be wonder, could even be skepticism. Jared clearly doesn’t know him enough yet.
“Told ya it’d be interesting.”
Jared huffs but he’s smiling. He stops when a hand stretches across the table to cover his.
“You’ve been watching me all week.”
He grips his own knife harshly, knuckles paling but thankfully hidden under Ackles’ warm palm. It doesn’t occur to him immediately that to know Jared’s been watching him Ackles would have had to be watching Jared as well.
“I… you… I just…”
“I couldn’t wait for you to make a move any longer. I leave tomorrow morning.”
“Y-Yeah. I heard.”
His voice is deep, and commanding. And soft. “I need to ask you this now, before this goes any further…”
“Jared. Do you… Would you…?”
His breath is caught in his throat in a lump so huge it’s choking him. He doesn’t understand the butterflies in his stomach, and no it’s not just the hunger. Jared’s supposed to be clinical. Detached.
Professional to the core.
Then why is he feeling so nervous tonight, like it’s his first time? Like it’s his first date ever and he’s uncannily worried about making a good impression and saying the right things. It could be partly explained by the fact that he hasn’t actually had a date date in four years, but still, what’s with the damn giddiness man? Like he’s floating, drifting away without an anchor, out of control…
“Would you mind if I ate your steak?”
He blinks. And Ackles laughs. “Seeing as you’re not eating.”
“You’re an ass. And just for that, no you can’t have my steak.”
Ackles laughs again. Such sincere amusement in his eyes that Jared is forced to join in. Until he realizes the hand covering his never left. It’s still holding his, thumb softly caressing the pale underside of his slender wrist where he’s kind of ticklish and never realized it before tonight.
He sighs, tries to pull away but Ackles won’t let him. Some job this is. People would say he’s the one getting seduced instead of the other way round.
“Okay, seriously. No kidding this time. Jared…”
“Would you like to come upstairs with me? To my room?”
The words are honest, suavely dealt, and kind of blunt. Actually, very blunt. Like Ackles is used to getting his way, like nobody’s ever said no to him before. Jared can easily see why.
He makes his coy face and tries anyway. “How do you know my room is downstairs?”
“Good question. Um. Maybe ’cause… I’m in the penthouse?”
“Oh.” Of course. And Jared is supposed to know that too. Duh.
The thumb’s still tickling him, and he softly chuckles. “May I have my hand back please?”
Jared strongly suspects from the blaze lit in his cheeks that he’s blushing, damn. Tries to bite the grin back as he looks away. That’s when his eyes land on a giant plasma screen tuned in to a news channel, ANCN.
“Hey, you’re on TV!”
Ackles looks up then, pulling his hand away and Jared feels strangely sorry.
They’re talking about the clash of two media network giants – “Achilles versus Morgan – the continuing saga”. He knows about Achilles of course, a minor fact that’s listed in the dossier but even if it wasn’t, he’s heard about it from Ackles himself, only like twenty times in the last forty minutes.
The ticker running below Ackles’ mug shot in black shades and a two-day old stubble is about the Morgan House of Media & Communications making a bid for National Geographic Global Media.
“Hey Eddie! Can you turn that up for a minute?”
The bartender, who Ackles obviously knows, nods and reaches for a remote somewhere. Volume comes up a second later.
“Tim Kelly, President of the National Geographic family was not immediately available for comment. But according to our market sources, speculation is that if this bid is not accepted, Morgan will most definitely attempt a hostile takeover.”
Jared looks at the other man’s face as it transforms. It was calm and playful a second ago. He’s blank now, eerily so. Sure doesn’t look surprised.
“You know him?”
The picture shifts and there’s a man in maybe his fifties with peppered hair on the screen now.
“Who, Kelly? Yeah I met him a couple times. He’s a great man, brilliant strategist.”
“Then what are you calling him a sonofabitch for?”
Ackles turns to him then, the sides of his eyes crease with something Jared can’t place but he’s just glad Ackles doesn’t look mad. Seems to be struggling to bite a smile back actually, maybe.
“Not him, kid. I meant Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chairman of Morgan Media.”
And that’s all he says, his tone plainly dismissive as he turns back to the television. They’re now doing a piece on the Internet portal bid Morgan recently lost to Achilles News Corp not so long ago.
What? Why is this not in the dossier? This he could totally talk about for hours! Don’t have to be a college boy to keep up with stuff that’s happening round the world. Besides, Jared has always been a voracious reader. That aspect of his old life hasn’t changed, least not yet.
“So you’re the one who teamed up with Google to buy Yahoo?”
Ackles shrugs, only a little immodestly. “One and only.”
“Awesome! The way you guys divested small chunks of the advertising business to get around the anti-trust clause, that was pure genius man. I’m just so glad you didn’t let…!”
“Shh, keep it down.” But he’s grinning, the surprise pleasantly evident on Ackles’ flawless face.
“Sorry,” Jared realizes he’d started to shriek, whispers in equally excited tones instead. “I’m just so glad Microsoft didn’t get its grubby hands on it, man.”
“Yeah, me too. But I’m gladder this Morgan guy didn’t get it either. He would have run it to the ground then eventually broken it up into a thousand pieces and sold ‘em off one by one. He just doesn’t have the competence to run a technology-driven venture like an Internet portal. And especially not one as big as Yahoo.”
The news piece continues to run, now switching to a video clipping of this guy, Morgan, from a press conference held earlier today.
“Mr. Morgan! Are you worried Achilles might also decide to bid for National Geographic and steal the deal from under your nose? Again?”
The audience softly sniggers.
“Mr. Ackles has spread himself and his fledgling corporation way too thin. I’d advise him to stay away, if nothing else but for the sake of his thousands of employees.”
“Mr. Morgan! Thomas Welling, Vice President of Achilles recently said that Morgan house should not be making any new acquisitions and concentrate on organic growth of your magazines instead. Do you agree?”
“Ms. Mack, my grandfather established this media house eighty years ago. My father was President for forty years before he handed over the reins to me and I have been running this conglomerate for twelve years and very successfully, I might add. Don’t think I need these youngsters to come and tell me how I should run my business.”
Jared looks at Ackles, who simply shrugs. “Tom’s been my best friend since Wharton, and he’s right. I’d worry if more than half my magazines were losing money and fix them first before I go investing in new stuff.”
“Mr. Morgan, are you upset with Mr. Ackles because earlier he’d been quoted saying the only Morgan products making any money are your skin mags?”
Jared gawks at him again.
“What? It’s true.”
“Is it also true that the International Center for Journalists had initially extended the invitation to be their chief guest lecturer at the Ethics and Excellence Summit this year to you, but later revoked it and invited Mr. Ackles instead?”
“I had unavoidable commitment issues. It was unfortunate but I could not accommodate a whole week into my very busy schedule…”
“There’s been speculations that the ICJ revoked your invitation because of recent allegations of physical and mental abuse levied on you by your ex-wife. What is your response?”
Ackles scowls and turns back to the bartender just as Morgan mutters something sounding suspiciously like a ‘no comment’.
“Yo Eddie! We’re done, turn this shit off will ya?”
“Sure, no problem, Mr. Ackles.”
“Man, told you not to call me that.”
Jared takes in the genuine smile, first on Eddie’s then on Ackles’ face. It occurs to him then that what he’s been interpreting as egotism, might just be Ackles’ sheer and almost childlike delight at everything he’s achieved in such a short period of time. Nobody can fake a smile like that. Can they?
Ackles waves his second beer bottle right in Jared’s face breaking him out of his thoughts. “Still with me?”
Jared shakes his head, smiling a little and trying not to stare into the older man’s face so much.
“You guys don’t like each other, do ya?”
Course he’s not referring to Eddie, which Ackles gets. “Is it that obvious?”
Jared snorts, and Ackles shrugs it off, like Morgan isn’t someone he cares to expend his valuable time or energy on.
“So what do you say?”
“Uh…” If Ackles is looking for a smart answer, he’s going to be so disappointed. Damn, and he was so close.
“I-I don’t know if I know enough to comment on…”
“What? Not that! I asked you a question before.”
“Your place or mine?”
Blunt and forthright again. The green eyes are twinkling, red lips upturned. Jared squashes the sudden urge that longs to say neither. Neither because they’re both rigged…
We’ll pay you twenty grand. Twenty grand to get you off the streets. Away from that asshole pimp of yours. Think what twenty grand can do for you…
“I’ve never been inside a penthouse.”
Ackles smiles. “Eddie? Check please.”
“I told you before, Jared. You have to listen to me if you don’t want this getting worse.”
“I can’t play, Dr. Beaver. My scholarship’s gone and I can’t go to college anymore. My best friend’s dead. Don’t see how it can possibly get any worse than this.”
“Yes it can! At least you can walk.”
“I don’t walk. I limp.”
“Would you feel better on crutches? Or in a wheelchair maybe?”
“I’m sorry, kiddo. Please just listen to me. You must keep this knee immobilized as much as possible. And maybe someday, this type of graft surgery will become…”
“What? Cheap? I don’t think so, doctor. My family’s struggling with my hospital bills and therapy bills and fucking pharmacy bills as it is. And now with Jeff in med school, and Megan’s working so hard to get into Juilliard…”
“It’s not the end of the road, Jared.”
“It is for me.”
“Where you going? Your mom’s coming to pick you up, she said you should wait for her right here.”
“Jared? Jared, where you going?”
Ackles gets a phone call while they’re settling the bill.
“Yo! … Everything set? … Good … Nah, I’m going back to my room now … Alright, I’ll see you tomorrow man … Sure … Later.”
Jared watches as he pays with his Amex Platinum, signs the receipt without even looking at it. Bites his lip and drums three fingers on his aching knee. At this price he might as well have enjoyed the damn steak. He couldn’t possibly split the tab with Ackles in this place on his own. Sure he could barter his services maybe? Five point five blowjobs, or eight point eight handjobs, maybe a quick fuck and a handjob at a one time only discounted price…
“What? No. Not at all.”
Ackles looks at him, his eyes filled with that thing he still can’t place. Like he knows Jared isn’t being entirely honest with him.
He has no idea.
“Okay. Let’s go.”
When they come out of the restaurant, it’s drizzling lightly. Jared worries that if the downpour gets any stronger, his brand new clothes are going to get ruined.
“Are we walking?”
“Do you mind?”
Jared glares at him. “It’s raining.”
Ackles smirks and starts walking. “Pussy.”
“Why did you even ask?” He trots lightly to catch up with Ackles, still lingering one step behind so he can hobble a little if he needs to.
“If you want us to take a cab, all you gotta do is say it.”
It’s a dare. And Marsters’ card is going to pay for the dry-cleaning anyway. “Nah, I’m good.”
Ackles pauses, and Jared is relieved for the break. That is until the older man turns around and opens his mouth. “Sure your leg’s not bothering you too much?”
Lightning flashes behind him, leaves pink and white streaks in the sky.
“How do you…?”
“I know everything about you. I’ve been researching you all week.”
And thunder rolls somewhere in the distance. If Jared weren’t so spooked right now, he’d have found the timing hilariously melodramatic.
“What did you say?”
And just like that, Ackles bursts out laughing.
“I’m kidding! Relax, man. You’ve got no sense of humor, really.”
Jared swallows, hard. Shifts weight from one leg to the next and back quickly, waiting for an explanation.
“I just noticed you were limping when we entered the restaurant. And you’re doing it again now. Is something wrong?”
He grinds his teeth, feels the hackles rising and he can’t seem to push them down. “I’m fine.”
“Let’s just call a cab and get you back to the…”
“Don’t do me no fucking favors.”
The flutter of falling raindrops, not too hard and not too soft, is the only sound that breaks through to his brain as it once again drowns in sordid memories of his past. But Jared knows he can’t afford to go there. Not now, not in front of this man. He doesn’t owe this man any explanations damn it! He doesn’t want to talk about it anyway.
He really, really shouldn’t.
“That State championship I told you about, the one I won in high school?”
“We… went out that night to celebrate. We got drunk.”
Ackles frowns, his face an open book, confusion slowly giving way to sad comprehension. He glances downwards at Jared’s brand new jeans and Nikes and Jared just wants to disappear, now. Right fucking now.
“Was it your fault?”
Of all the things that Jared thinks Ackles could have said or done or asked right then, that one he didn’t expect. But of course, he’s paparazzo. Not afraid to ask the hard questions. Jared glares right back.
“The hotel’s five minutes away. Come on.”
Jared falls in line, and they keep walking in the rain. At least now that he doesn’t need to hide his limp, he can walk as crooked as he likes. Not like Ackles is looking at him anyway, walking three steps ahead of him, hands dug deep in his pockets. He seems completely oblivious of the rain starting to fall harder, matting his short, dirty blond spikes down. The toned, sinewy muscles of his body are now plainly evident under the rich black fabric, moving with such… dangerous poise, and the promise of savage strength lurking just beneath the surface.
The ‘pretty’ is just a veneer. Jared wonders what else this man is hiding beneath his layers.
Back at the hotel, the rich and the powerful and the politically connected are just about starting to trickle in. Some came seeking shelter from the rain, while others are out to enjoy a Friday night no doubt. Jensen nods and waves and smiles at a lot of people he probably knows or who know him, acts all cool and composed like nothing’s amiss. Like he didn’t just invite a guy up to his room, who happens to be walking right behind him.
Jared follows him about like a lost, slightly dripping, overgrown puppy. He knows no one, and nobody knows him. But he straightens up anyway all the way up to his grand NBA-worthy height. Doesn’t want to look weak or out of place in front of everyone because everyone is looking. At him.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
It takes him a couple seconds to realize that no one is giving him any dirty looks, for a change. A few even smile and greet him cordially. Another second goes by before Jared remembers he isn’t wearing his street clothes in here. The brilliance reflected off his flashy new watch must clearly be working, like a charm.
A Republican looking, middle-aged couple passes him by, and this time he smiles back.
In the elevator, Ackles turns to look at him for the first time since their little altercation outside. Jared’s breath hitches in his throat. Obviously he doesn’t want his mark to be upset and lose the mood before he can get his job done. But Ackles’ gaze is still heated and kind of intense, like he would simply love to bitch-slap Jared in the face, and hard. He knows that look well - Sebastian gets it all the time. Like he would love to rip Jared’s clothes off him and bend him over right here between the sixth and the seventh floor, right fucking now. Sebastian gets that look too, all the time.
Oh well, no can do. No cameras in the elevator. Far as he knows.
The battle is nearly won. All he has to do is make sure Ackles keeps his face turned towards any one of the many cameras. Not sure how many. Or where either, actually.
His stomach is still unsettled though, acting out in defiance of the pull of gravity against which they’re ascending. He thinks maybe when they come to a stop, it’ll go away. It doesn’t.
“Come on in.”
Ackles’ voice is low, a deep, husky whisper as the elevator comes to a stop at the topmost floor and he holds the doors open for Jared to step out.
It’s a fucking palace.
There are two more rooms beyond this one, far as he can tell. The living room is large and spacious, done in warm shades of mahogany and gold. There’s a giant plasma and Bose surround sound system set up in front of a large, plush looking maroon leather couch. A crystal chandelier decorates the high ceiling in the middle of the room and a bowl full of Swiss and Belgian chocolates sits on the coffee table perilously within reach…
Jared turns a three sixty degrees and back again, taking in the breathtaking magnificence and he hasn’t even seen the bedroom yet. A hand slips into his, and he nearly jumps. Ackles is grinning at him, and Jared wonders what he sees in his face that’s so amusing.
“Do you like it?”
“Like it? Dude! Bet this is where the King of Nepal stays when he visits.”
Ackles laughs. “Close enough.”
He starts to tug at the hand and walks backwards, pulling Jared into the next room.
“I don’t live like this usually. My place back in Manhattan is really simple, and sparse really. I’m a minimalist at heart, don’t really like such opulence.”
“That’s ‘cause you have the choice to reject it.”
Why can’t he bite his tongue in time?
Ackles’ face hardens for a second, but melts just as quickly. “You’re probably right.”
He pulls his guest into the bedroom now and Jared is awestruck, again. Everything in here is blue and gold and it’s slightly understated in comparison but just as magnificent and intimidating. The bed’s a fucking four poster and it’s ginormous and those look like silk or satin sheets and there’s netted white gold curtains bunched up at the top of the bed and God he’s going to need an oxygen tank because this feels like he’s come all the way up to heaven and his head feels so fucking light…
“This is, wow, this is beautiful.”
Ackles lets go of his hand then. Cups a side of his face instead. “Not as beautiful as you.”
Jared’s breath hitches. The sea green gaze is steady, and searing as it locks onto his brown one. Another hand comes up to caress his face from the other side. He watches helplessly as Ackles licks his lips.
He’s pulled down into the kiss, firm and steady yet surprisingly gentle. Jared lets his eyes fall shut, his hands coming up around the older man’s waist, as he steps in closer. Closer, until he’s flush against Ackles’ hard body. Chest to broad chest, groin to bulging groin. The kiss grows deeper, harsher, hotter.
He hasn’t been kissed in such a long, long time. Johns don’t do foreplay, and they usually don’t want to kiss the mouth that’s been God knows where else all day. The few guys that did show interest in kissing him, Jared had easily turned them down.
He doesn’t know how to say no to this man.
He lets Ackles push his tongue into his mouth with ardor, licking his teeth and gums and tasting the remnants of beer and steak and blood in Jared’s mouth. Mixing it up with the myriad tastes trapped in his own mouth, tongues pressing and caressing into each other. Rolling around and along each other in a rhythmic dance Jared thinks he can never ever have enough of. If this is how it feels like to be kissed, why the hell did he ever stop?
The deft hands are on his jacket now, pushing it away from his shoulders, and Jared really ought to be returning the favor, except his hands are trembling and he doesn’t know why. With fear? With anticipation?
He groans, pushes his tongue rabidly against his mark’s, forcing himself to concentrate here, on fucking his over-thinking overanalyzing brains out through his hungry mouth. Ackles obliges.
The jacket is pulled off, and warm hands start to unbuckle the belt around his waist. Pull it out of the loops in one strong jerk that practically lifts him off his feet but Ackles keeps him grounded. Steady and captive.
He feels Ackles pushing him backwards, walking him back to the center of the room where he knows that monster bed is. Something about that bed scares him, like it’s going to swallow him whole and never let him go. Like it would be the last bed he’d conduct his business in ever, ever again. A random ridiculous thought hits him, of the possibility of iron shackles and chains hidden under the folds of the coverlet and he shudders.
Hands return to stroke the damp strands of hair back from his face. Eyes stare into his, as if searching for something desperately, and for the life of him Jared doesn’t know what that is. He stands with his hands now fisted in the front of Ackles’ jacket, anchoring his trembling frame to the man. Wishes he could let his head fall, make room for itself on his broad chest and close his eyes to rest, just for a little while…
God, what is happening to him?
The mouth latches back onto his, the backpedaling continues until he feels the foot of the bed at the back of his wobbling knees. Hands get busy pulling off his t-shirt until they touch naked, searing skin. Undo the zipper and pull the jeans down to just below his crotch when suddenly they stop. Ackles pulls back and gazes deep into his eyes before he smirks. Then with a swift single-handed thrust in the middle of his chest, pushes until Jared is falling. Flying and flailing until he hits the springy mattress, bounces back up once, before sinking into the bountiful depths one last time. Jared panics.
“Jensen,” he whispers again breathily, unclasping his cufflinks and dropping them to the floor as his eyes rove studiously all over Jared’s body. Jared closes his eyes and trembles again.
The scalding gaze finally moves up to meet Jared’s eyes. “Yeah?”
Jared is supposed to say something, but he doesn’t remember what. His hands reach out finally getting with the program, striving to touch Ackles’ body, yearning, anything to hold onto because he doesn’t like this feeling of uncontrollable sinking…
Ackles… Jensen just smiles ever so softly, lowers himself to the bed hovering over Jared. Takes the seeking hands in his, kisses Jared’s forehead, his nose, his eyebrows, his cheeks, the mole on the left of his lower lip. Licks at his jaw line, his neck, suckling at the protruding Adam’s apple and making Jared laugh. The knots in his stomach start to loosen bit by bit.
Two arms manage to wiggle underneath his torso and suddenly heave him up from the bed and into a bone-crushing embrace. He is held against Ackles’ wet-shirted chest, so close that if he leans in he could hear the man’s heart thundering away furiously. Instead he looks up into those gorgeous eyes, sharp and intent and passionate and… downright terrifying.
“You okay to do this?”
Question mark. He’s actually being given a choice.
He’s supposed to say yes. He ought to say no. But honestly, he doesn’t want to say no. For the first time in a really, really long time, he is being given a choice. Except, it isn’t a real choice. Not really.
Jared doesn’t know if he could ever possibly say no to this man.
Fucking ironies of his life. “Yeah I… Y-Yeah.”
Jensen smiles, that beautiful smile again. And the mouth that’s a heaven-sent closes over Jared’s just in time to stop him from blubbering like a little kid starved so long for genuine affection.
A hand snakes up and cups the back of his head, and he’s suddenly being lowered back onto the bed. He misses the tongue he’d been sucking on and his lips stay open in invitation as also to draw in necessary breath. Once he’s flat on his back, Jensen starts to pull his jeans off him completely. He grunts when they catch on his sneakers and gets off the bed to pull the shoes and socks off Jared’s feet. It’s that split second of clarity that makes all the fucking difference.
Jared remembers where he is. And why. The bugs.
He looks around the room, the walls, the high ceiling, the paintings decorating the wall. Where could it be? It? They? How is he supposed to know if Ackles is facing in the right direction or not? Does he even care?
The jeans are off at last and Jensen gets back up, his knees on the bed as he straddles Jared’s slightly ajar legs, and pats his flank twice.
Jared shimmies upwards, until Jensen’s hands make him stop, land squarely on his waistband. There is no hiding his arousal through the scant covering of his underwear, and Jensen’s smirking face is proof of how much he’s enjoying this.
He expects him to be rough about it, yank Jared’s precious new boxer briefs off him in a strong tug, maybe even ripping them in two and usually Jared has rules about this stuff (‘you ruin my clothes you pay extra’) but this doesn’t seem to be the occasion to recount any of those. So instead he just closes his eyes, bracing himself for the attack. It never comes.
Instead a hand is massaging him, from over the covering of his briefs, softly, diligently. Almost lovingly.
“Shh… you like this? Don’t you?”
Clearly it’s a rhetorical question. The hand strokes and fondles the growing bulge repeatedly. Holds the tightening balls and rolls them around within their prison of cotton and the sensation does awful crazy things to his gut and Jared gasps.
He wonders whom Jensen is teasing more, Jared or himself. Can’t help his soft moans because damn it this is sexier and hotter than he ever thought possible. Jensen lowers his face over his crotch and mouths his balls from over the fabric, wetting it thoroughly with his saliva. Jared writhes, pushing his legs apart and arching up into the fleeting touches and damn it, he needs more, and now.
“Jensen, please… fff-fuck!”
The man smirks and moves his mouth to the belly button instead. And that’s even worse, unbelievably so. No one’s spent so much time worshipping all these other parts of his body before.
His hands worm their way into Jensen’s wet spikes but they can’t stay still too long as Jensen licks a line between his navel and the hem of his briefs. Up then down, and up and back down again. Jensen blows into Jared’s belly like one would entertain a little baby and Jared laughs, jerking away as much as into the nimble hands now holding his hips.
Jensen’s soft laughter mingles with Jared’s but he stops as asked, kissing and licking avidly instead. Jared inhales sharply when the briefs are peeled down at last. Off his erect cock, past his smooth heavyset balls, down the skinny hairless legs, over the knees one aching, one not. Jensen tugs them off his ankles and drops them to the floor carelessly, then he sits back with his long legs folded under him and he just… watches.
Jared didn’t know he could blush from being naked in front of a complete stranger anymore. And yet here he is, warming up from the inside out, blazing a bright crimson from head to toe because Jensen… Jensen is looking at him. Feels the sudden strong urge to hide, preferably in Jensen’s arms.
“Take this off…”
Jared’s voice is a hoarse whisper, both demanding and pleading as his hands play with the lapels of Jensen’s shirt.
“Not yet. Maybe later. We have all night.”
He looks up into Jensen’s eyes, now dangerously dark with desire. And he gulps.
“I’m gonna fuck you so hard, Jared, you’ll feel me all the way up to your throat.”
“The kid knows what to do?”
“Yes, boss. He knows both rooms will be rigged up, so he can do his thing wherever. And I told him he gets five grand extra if he gets us some good money-shots of Ackles on his hands and knees.”
“Think he can do it? Kid’s a slut. He’s used to taking it up the ass most of the time.”
“I don’t know. He’s taller, maybe he can, you know… Jesus I can’t believe I’m discussing details of gay butt sex with my boss.”
“You think I’m enjoying this? I hate them fucking fags too, you know it Marsters.”
“Of course, me too. But I told him he must be aggressive. A couple of good shots of Ackles’ face screwed up like a pornstar, getting his ass pounded by a two-bit whore… it’d be the breaking news of the century.”
“His stock will plummet, and ours will rise. Prepare a follow-up article with speculations on possible liaisons with that pompous deputy of his, Welling. Guy that good-looking can’t possibly be straight and all that shit.”
“Brilliant. I’ll get to it now.”
“Jimmy? What did you tell this kid? Why is he doing this?”
“I told him Ackles’ ex-wife is looking for a hefty out-of-court divorce settlement on the grounds that Ackles is a closet homosexual and adulterous, and how she’s been subjected to mental torture and all that lovely legal jazz.”
“Perfect. I’m just waiting for the moment the dogs uncover the tiny little detail that the kid’s a prostitute. Ackles will never recover from that one. But we have to be sure he doesn’t know Morgan Media is involved in any way.”
“Not at all, boss. The kid knows why we’re paying him so much - to keep his mouth shut and to disappear if ever the shit hits the fan. Think that’s what he plans to do anyway. You saw the agency’s name on the catalogue, right? Elite Escorts? He’s one of Spence’s boys.”
“Sebastian Spence? Sadistic prick in cahoots with the mob Spence?”
“Yep, Spence. Betcha million bucks Jared takes the money and runs like hell.”
“And what if he talks?”
“There’s nothing to tell. He’s only ever seen me once and he doesn’t even know my real name. Worst case - he’ll blame Danneel.”
“I wonder why Danneel didn’t cash in on this herself. She’s not even that blonde, you know.”
“Apparently, she is.”
Part Three >>