SPN Fic: I Don't Care If I Never Get Back (3/5)

Oct 27, 2016 12:17

| Back to Part 2 |

Jensen turns his back to the empty field and starts to trudge up the hill toward Jared’s house. His knee throbs dully, sore from sitting for long hours, first on the road and then in the stands. There’s half a moon up in the sky now, and the whole world under it has faded to muted shadows.

What brought those players here? What brought him here? Jensen had thought he’d find answers once they reached Jared’s farm, but instead there’s a thousand more questions. He can’t explain what’s happening, but he seems to have accepted it anyway, embraced it, and that irks the logical, skeptical part of him. Where is the cynicism that he carefully cultivated these past few years? Where’s the caution?

The distance to the porch seems perversely farther for every labored step he takes. And with every step away from the ballfield, he feels the magic leeching away.

But then Jared rolls up next to him and falls into stride, their shoulders almost touching and-and it’s a different kind of magic.

Jensen’s attention is suddenly focused on the fact that they’re alone. That he’s staying the night. That they’ve got privacy and time and perhaps something between them to resolve.

“There’s a guest room upstairs,” Jared says hospitably, juggling the empty dinner plates and bottles. “Sheets might not be fresh, but they’re clean.”

Guest room, Jensen thinks. Right. Never let it be said he can’t take a hint.

“Okay,” he replies shortly, and turns his concentration back to keeping his knee from buckling under him. The stairs up to the porch are just ahead. This part’s not going to be fun.

When they reach the steps, Jared purses his lips fretfully. At first it looks like he’s going to hover and fuss, even offer to help, goddamn it. But he doesn’t. He lets Jensen heave himself up one at a time with his death-grip on the rail.

Instead Jared goes ahead and rattles along into the house, flipping on lights inside until the whole first floor is shining. The golden glow beckons Jensen on, warming him the closer he gets.

He finally makes it up to the porch and follows Jared’s trail through the front door.

As he opens it, the hinges creak, and the floorboards in the front foyer groan musically under his feet. The little hall is cluttered with what looks like a dozen pairs of worn shoes and muddy boots, a variety of coats hung on a drunken line of hooks. It opens up into a similarly jumbled living room. There’s eclectic, mismatched furniture everywhere: huge oak shelving units haphazardly crammed with books, a few over-stuffed ottomans, an ancient roll-top desk, and a scattering of low, odd-shaped tables. Bright artwork hangs on every wall. Stacks of papers and mail-order catalogs and pairs of workgloves, empty coffee cups and stray earbuds and loose change are strewn across every available surface. Bushy houseplants crouch in the corners. Plump pillows overflow on deep-cushioned chairs. The colors are all jewel-toned and earthy, ginger and ruby red and forest greens and navy.

Jensen thinks about his own apartment, impeccably decorated by some unknown woman from some high-end firm, with a great deal of glass and chrome and unmistakably expensive leather. Jensen’s sleek Fendi sofa probably cost more than the GDP of a small island nation. By contrast, Jared’s monstrous couch looks like it was picked up at a yard sale, its nubbly-soft fabric matted and scored on the rounded arms, its cushions lumpy.

All Jensen wants to do is curl up on it and sleep the night through.

He shambles over and sinks his fingers into the folds of a fleecy throw draped along the back of the couch. If he sits down, he knows he’s not getting back up.

Jared walks back in from what look like the direction of the kitchen. His brow’s furrowed with little lines as his gaze darts around the room. “Sorry,” he mumbles, running a hand through his hair, sending it flying. “I mean, I’m sorry the place is a mess. And that it’s so… so crazy. I haven’t had time to pay much attention to-“ he trails off, waving one hand vaguely at all his stuff.

Jensen just can’t stand Jared’s look of miserable embarrassment. “Nah, I like it,” he says.

And as the words come out of his mouth, he realizes they’re true. It’s not anything Jensen would ever think he’d be comfortable with, not his style. It’s too disordered and slapdash. It’s too carefree.

And yet, as Jared’s expression turns hopeful, Jensen thinks how easy it would be to sit here every evening, socked feet up on the coffee table, or in one of the porch chairs with a generous tumbler of liquor, watching the stars come out.

He shakes off the mental image. It seems even less likely than ghosts turning a double play.

Jared breaks into Jensen’s reverie. “So you want anything else to eat? Drink?”

Jensen’s too tired to be hungry. And he can see Jared’s practically swaying with fatigue, too. No surprise considering he did all the driving today, all the fetching and running around tonight.

“I think I’ll just head to bed,” Jensen says.

“It’s-“ Jared casts a quick glance over his shoulder and then looks back at Jensen, the worry flickering again across his transparent face. “-it’s up another flight of stairs, I’m afraid.”

Oh, fuck the stairs. Jensen’s gotten used to Jared studiously ignoring his damned problem knee. He finds even this tangential acknowledgment raises his hackles.

“Fine. That’s fine.” Jensen doesn’t mean for it to come out quite so snippy, but it does. Jesus, Jared’s surely regretting ever bringing him here.

He puts his shoulders back and walks past Jared toward the archway, clenching his teeth and betraying as little limp as possible. A grunt slips out as he takes the first stair too quickly, but he manages the rest in silence. Jensen focuses on counting each step in his head-four, five, six -as a way of blocking out the pain.

“Which room?” he grits out at the top of the stairs.

“The one on the right’s a guest room,” Jared replies. “So’s the one at the end of the hall. The one on the left’s mine.”

“Okay.” Jensen doesn’t look back, just heads for the right-hand door. Just a few more steps.

“Hey, wait a second!” Jared calls, and Jensen turns in time to see him duck out of the hall into his own room. Jensen’s tempted to ignore him and go on, but he musters up the last iota of patience he has and instead leans heavily against the floral print wallpaper. Honestly, has anyone actually decorated with wallpaper since some time around 1986?

In bare seconds, Jared emerges again with a handful of clothes. “I thought you might want something to sleep in,” he explains.

Jensen can see he’s holding out a t-shirt and a pair of lounge pants-pajamas, his mind adds unhelpfully, guess that makes this a regular slumber party-and Jensen’s suddenly struck by the thought of wearing Jared’s things, clothing that has clung to his skin, soaked up his scent. Jared probably means nothing by it; he’s just trying to be helpful. But to Jensen, it seems incredibly intimate.

Without a word, Jensen reaches out and takes the bundle. As he does, his fingertips brush against Jared’s.

Jensen feels it like a sudden magnetic pull, the urge to step in, to press forward and herd Jared back against the wall. Jensen wants to slide his mouth along Jared’s, to taste, to sneak a hand under Jared’s shirt to feel the tremble of muscle and warm, bare skin.

Jared would let him. Jared’s waiting for it. Jensen can read it in every line of his posture. Since they met Jared’s been all blithe and puppy-friendly; but right now he’s tense, his breathing shallow, his gaze fixed and hot. Jensen figures Jared’s too much the Boy Scout to make the first move on a guest under his roof. But, oh, Jared’s ready.

Jensen could probably have whatever he wants. It’s right there for the taking. And yet, he’s paralyzed. Feels like a chess piece that’s been moved to the wrong square.

Because it’s been so long since Jensen’s allowed himself to get this close. Eight long years of pushing people away, of maintaining that safe bubble of empty space around him. It’s habit. More than habit, something in his bones, now. He doesn’t hook up, he doesn’t have lovers.

He doesn’t want this feeling of longing. He doesn’t trust it.

He trusts Jared though. Jared with his visions and his magical cornfield and his exuberance and his bone-deep kindness. He trusts that Jared would go into this with his whole heart, and yet he’d let Jensen go the minute Jensen asked him to.

And there’s the hitch, Jensen realizes. Because he trusts Jared not to hurt him, but he has no doubt he’ll end up hurting Jared. Probably sooner than later.

Hurting people is what Jensen does.

He backs away toward the guest room door, breaking the moment. “Thanks,” he mumbles, nodding down at the clothes.

“No problem,” Jared says, and if the words come out a little choked, Jensen ignores it.

He makes it as far as his room before Jared pipes up once more. “Jensen? If you leave your dirty clothes for me in the hall, I can wash them in the morning when I get up early.”

Jensen doesn’t turn his head. But he has to ask. “Early?”

“It’s a working farm, y’know. Someone’s got to do some chores around here.” Jared says it teasingly, and Jensen can picture the soft smile on his face.

“Oh, okay. Thanks,” he says again. Jared really is too good to be true. Jensen’s doing the right thing here, keeping his distance. “Good night.”

Jared’s soft “good night” follows him in as he shuts the guest room door firmly behind.


Jensen looks around the room. It’s small and square and, fuck, he just needs a place to catch his breath and try to process all that’s happened to him in the last sixty-odd hours.

Rest beckons to him in the form of a simple queen-sized bed that takes up most of the space. It looks like some kind of earth-bound cloud with its piles of white pillows and a puffy down comforter. But the pull of the shower is even stronger. Jensen’s grubby and disgusting and he’s not lying down on clean sheets until he washes off all this travel grime.

He carries the borrowed sleepwear with him to the bathroom and sets it on top of the wooden cupboard sitting to one side of a pedestal sink. On the next shelf down there are a neatly-folded stack of towels and washcloths. And on the bottom shelf sit two buckets, cheap plastic pails that a child might use to make a sandcastle at the beach. One is pink, and it’s filled with women’s toiletries: body wash, floral-scented deodorant, a pink-handled razor, even some tampons. The other pail is blue, and Jensen grabs it and starts digging through the contents. There’s Old Spice and some generic grocery store shampoo and, oh thank Christ, a toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste. It’s even mint-flavored, not that bubble-gum obscenity of Jared’s.

Jensen doesn’t think he’s ever been happier in his life than he is at this very moment, brushing his filthy teeth.

After that he finds a bottle of Advil in the bucket as well, and gratefully gulps down three at once, mentally ranking Jared’s house above any five-star hotel Jensen ever patronized.

He shucks off his clothes and groans as he leans down to the shower’s faucets to turn on the water. Jensen can’t remember the last time he bathed like this, in a basic tub with a curtain jangling along on rings and a little knob to pull up to make the water come out of the showerhead. All Jensen’s known for years has been his apartment’s walk-in, slate-tiled shower stall with its dual heads and steam nozzles. And before that, fancy hotel bathrooms with their translucent shower doors, the big mirrors on the opposite wall that used to let him admire his own perfect young body as he washed, or as he fucked some starry-eyed crewmember from his latest movie set.

He frowns. He’s not sure why the memory feels off. It feels more distasteful and depressing than the usual flashes from his glory days. But Jensen shoves it away. He knows better, trained himself long ago not to dwell on the past.

He moves his pail of toiletries to the edge of the tub and clambers in, favoring the knee. He pulls the curtain closed behind him to create a little cocoon of warm mist and cheery yellow porcelain tile.

Inside, Jensen drops his chin and lets hot water rush down his neck and back in a glorious waterfall. After a minute he reaches down for the bottle of body wash and squirts a big glob into his palm, rubbing it slowly over his chest and arms into a fragrant lather and then leaning back so it can rinse away. It wouldn’t be hard to fall asleep right here, just curl up in the bottom of the tub with the water pattering down on him. He huffs, amused at the thought of Jared having to come investigate why the heck the shower was running all night.

But suddenly the thought’s not amusing at all, because his mind’s eye feeds him a vivid image of Jared walking through the bathroom door. He’s clothed, and then he’s not. He’s flinging the shower curtain open and stepping in next to Jensen, the shower magically expanding to make room for both of them, but still close, private, arousing.

Jensen tells himself this is stupid, so fucking stupid, but he does it anyway. Reaches down and cups his balls, wraps his hand around his thickening cock. The coating of soap still on his hand smoothes the way as he strokes, picturing Jared lowering himself to his knees, the shower’s cascade drenching his long hair and pouring down over his lips.

It’s so easy for Jensen to envision pressing the head of his dick to those lips. They open so readily, Jared’s tongue coming out to cradle him as he slides in, shallow at first. It’s so warm, so wet. Jensen’s got his eyes closed now, hand moving steady and slow, squeezing on each upstroke like gentle suction. Streams of water caress his legs as if deliberately touching him, as if it’s Jared’s hands touching him. So Jensen imagines them sliding up to grip his ass, fingers digging in, tugging him closer, encouraging him to go deeper, all the way to bump against the soft flesh at the very back of Jared’s mouth.

Jensen gasps, pulling thick steam into his lungs. He leans forward, bracing one hand against the shower’s back wall and widening his stance, pumping his hips. His hand tightens on the end of his cock like it’s Jared’s narrow throat opening up for him, swallowing him down. He thrusts once more and his body jolts and shivers like a struck gong, a sharp cry scraping up the back of his throat as waves of pleasure ripple through him. His orgasm goes on and on, spurts of come pulsing out over his hand and down onto the floor of the tub to be washed away down the drain.

He slumps forward, panting, resting his forehead on his arm against the tile. Christ almighty, it’s been a few days since he’s jerked off, sure, but he wasn’t expecting… whatever that was.

Straightening up, he tries to focus on the white-noise hiss of the shower, letting it fill his head so he doesn’t have to think about how that particular fantasy had him coming like a geyser. He deliberately sets himself on autopilot as he finishes scrubbing down, washes his hair, lifts his face to the spray to let the water beat down on his cheeks and eyelids.

But when he shuts the water off and steps out of the tub, grabbing a towel and running it absently over his chest and arms, he sees the cupboard with the little pink bucket, sees the loaned pajamas, and he’s hit by how out of place he is right now.

Because Jared’s the kind of guy who makes sure his guests feel comfortable and cared for, while Jensen’s the kind of guy who doesn’t have guests, period. Jared has a home where he makes room for other people: Jensen, Danneel and her kid, even the damn spirits haunting the field. Jensen has an apartment that he uses to hide from everyone else.

Sure, Jensen knows he’s got more baggage than O’Hare at Thanksgiving. He’d come to terms with that a long time ago. But being around Jared, even for just these couple of days, has reminded him by contrast how messed up he really is. It’s not the accident-not just the accident-it’s how somewhere along the way he’s lost the ability to be normal. Hell, he can hardly even act normal anymore, and acting was the only thing he was ever good at.

He’s got to get himself under control. Needs to buckle down and just ride out this amusement park roller coaster of a trip he allowed himself to be dragged on.

When he’s finished drying off, he looks again at the pajamas. He’s used to sleeping nude, but he figures the least he can do is use something Jared went out of his way to provide. He slips on just the pants. Of course they’re too long in the legs, but they’re snug enough at the waist-Jensen drags his thoughts hastily away from how slim Jared’s hips must be-so he scoops up his dirty clothes and walks out of the bathroom. He eases open the bedroom door a crack and peers out. The hall is mercifully dark and silent. He drops his clothes in a pile just outside the door, remembering to fish the phone from the back pocket of his jeans before closing the door behind him.

If this were the old days, he could never leave his things out in the open like that, unattended. They would’ve immediately have been stolen, probably sold on eBay or finding their way to some fan’s basement shrine. But here, there’s no worry. Just a small twinge of guilt that Jared’s going to do him one more unreciprocated favor.

Shit. Jensen’s accustomed to paying people to do things for him. It’s hard to get used to this obligation thing again. It’s like working atrophied muscles long-forgotten. It makes him sore and cranky.

The bed is right there, but he finds himself walking to the window instead. He pushes the gauzy fabric of the curtain panel aside and turns the crank to open it. He looks out, down the hill. The stars have come out, thousands of them. A few clouds scuttle past the moon. The field and the corn and the lawn look like an old black and white photo.

What is Jensen even doing here? Jared’s field is spilling out magic everywhere and it’s wasted on Jensen. There are so many other people out there who would appreciate it more. Deserve it more. Maybe understand what the hell is going on here. They’d get it. Jensen doesn’t.

He punches the home button at the bottom of his phone, the artificial light from the screen splashing blue across his face, jarring.

He should get online. Book a flight for tomorrow. What’s the nearest airport? Des Moines?

He stares down at the phone until it starts to blur, his eyes so tired. But no matter how much he knows he should, he can’t seem to get his thumb to move. Can’t commit to leaving, can’t commit to stay. Eventually the screen goes black again.

He’ll call the airline in the morning.

Instead he falls into the bed, finally. He tucks one of the pillows under his bad knee to elevate it, wraps his arms around another. Thoughts are pinging around in his head like a toddler on too much sugar-Jared and baseball and legends and miracles-and there’s no way he’s falling asleep any time soon. But between one breath and the next, he’s out.


Jensen’s first conscious thought is that it’s too bright in here. The second is that the bed’s facing the wrong direction. The third is that this is not his apartment bedroom.

He raises his head off the pillow, squinting at the full sunlight streaming in through the windows. He can’t remember the last time he slept this late. However late it is. Could be noon already for all he knows. It feels possible, his body’s so glutted with sleep, it’s weighing him down into the mattress, making it hard to summon the energy to reach for his phone on the bedside table to actually check the time.

But he does. The clock reads 9:30 a.m. Eleven hours of sleep, damn, that’s almost twice what he gets on a regular night, even with his Ambien or Rozerem or whatever drug his doctor last proscribed. And not a single nightmare that he can remember.

He shoves back the covers and rolls himself out, plucking at the sleep pants where they’ve twisted in awkward places. He gets down on the braided rug next to the bed and starts in on his morning stretching routine, then follows with three sets of crunches and pushups. His knee gives a few dull twinges, but it’s no worse than usual, pretty good considering the pain he was in last night. Mostly it’s just stiff… more like the Tin Man needing a hit off the oil can than the Scarecrow getting torn apart by flying monkeys.

He finishes in Savasana pose, taking deep breathes of the Iowa breeze coming in the still-open window. Much of the gloom he’d felt last night seems to have dissipated, and he’s surprised to find himself eager to get downstairs, to find Jared, to see if the baseball ghosts will emerge again.

His clean clothes are in a neat pile outside his door, just as Jared promised. Jensen grabs them and throws them on, then makes his way down the stairs.

“Jared?” he calls out.

There’s no reply. The first floor is quiet, empty. Jensen’s not sure where to look, figures the kitchen’s as good a place to start as any.

He finds that it’s not a very big kitchen, yet Jensen recognizes the style from every HGTV makeover he’s ever watched. But this is an authentic farmhouse, not an up-scaled affectation targeted at suburban McMansioneers. So the deep rectangular sink is dinged and scarred and the butcher-block countertop on both sides gray with age. Copper-bottomed pans hang on hooks over a massive old range and oven. It’s not a sleek modern kit like Jensen’s own Miele, but a white enameled thing that looks straight out of the 1950s. There’s a skinny little island with a sink on one end and wooden stools lined up along one side.

It’s clean enough but, much like the living room, it’s chock full of stuff. There’s a high, narrow shelf that runs the entire perimeter of the room, just a foot from the ceiling, lined with ranks of hand-painted plates and bowls and strangely-shaped bottles, no two the same. One counter is covered with piles of produce-tomatoes, cukes, unwashed bundles of carrots and leeks and greens-along with neatly-stacked egg cartons and a little woven basket full of blackberries. Jared’s got two different blenders, a toaster that’s been taken apart with its internal components set out in a neat array next to it, and a goldfish swimming lazily around a tiny round bowl.

At last Jensen spots the most important item in the entire room, sitting on the far counter. He heads toward it, stepping around a collection of empty glass milk bottles set up bowling-pin-style on the floor.

Yes, it’s a coffee maker, a cheap Mr. Coffee drip-type the likes of which Jensen hasn’t actually seen in person since the turn of the century. He smothers a brief pang of longing for his espresso machine back at home, and wonders if he even recalls how to operate one of these things.

It doesn’t matter, he’s almost willing to eat the coffee grounds raw at this point.

When he gets close enough, he sees there’s a little yellow post-it note stuck on the front. On it are written the words ‘Jensen, push here to start’ in tiny, precise block letters, and a little arrow pointing down toward a simple switch.

Okay, so Jensen probably could’ve figured that out. But-he smiles before he can stop himself-the gesture is nice.

He flips the switch to start it brewing and glances around again, not sure what to do next. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to go wandering around looking for Jared, because who knows where he might be. So when Jensen’s glance lands back on the eggs and veggies on the counter, he decides he might as well make himself useful.

Frittata is an obvious choice: easy, and he can substitute for whatever ingredients Jared might have on hand. He starts rooting around in the drawers and cupboards to make sure he has the basic items he needs. It doesn’t take long to lay out a cutting board and knife, mixing bowl, salt and pepper and a couple of other spices that are somewhat suspect in terms of age, but Jensen grabs them off of the shelf anyway.

“Good boy,” he mutters out loud when he discovers an ancient, well-seasoned cast-iron pan in a low cabinet next to Jared’s range. He preheats the oven, then heads to the fridge to see what he can rustle up from out of there.

It takes barely a minute to chop some onion and a little red potato he found in a bin. He goes to inspect the piles of fresh produce on the counter and realizes, wow, Jared must actually have a garden on the property and picked these this morning.

Jensen’s a weekend Farmer’s Market kind of guy, and the ones in Manhattan get some delicious and extraordinary variety. But this is a whole other level of freshness. He’s tempted to start trying everything, simply to see what truly just-picked tastes like. He tears a leaf off of a bundle of greens and nibbles at it. Swiss chard, probably. That will work. Jensen grabs some tomatoes and a cucumber on the way back to his workstation, too.

He wishes he had some bacon for the fat, but Jared’s got half-decent butter, so that will have to do. He starts sautéing potatoes and onion in the skillet while he whisks the eggs, begrudgingly adding skim milk when he’d rather have whole, or even some sour cream. Worse, it’s going to break his heart to use this mass-produced, pre-grated parmesan of Jared’s, but it’s all the cheese Jensen could find.

The greens go in briefly, just enough to wilt and get rid of all that liquid, then the eggs to set, the cheese on top, and into the oven the whole things goes.

Jensen sets the timer on his phone and then pours himself a well-earned mug of coffee. He’d half expected Jared to walk in while he was cooking, but there’s still no sign of him, so Jensen roughly dices the tomatoes and cucumber for a side salad and throws it into the fridge to chill. He cleans up the dirty bowl and utensils, and then takes his mug out onto the porch.

From there he can see forever. The lawn and the ballfield are an emerald island in the oceans of brown-golden corn and wheat that run out miles in every direction. The sky above is as translucent as a chapel’s stained glass. Jensen still loves the cityscape more, but he’s starting to get used to this expansive view. Maybe. A little.

Something catches his eye down to the left, a movement, and he sees the barn doors are open. Inside he spots Jared, poking around under the hood of some kind of tractor.

He checks his timer, figures he’s got just enough time to get down there and back. He heads down the porch stairs, carefully balancing his mug of coffee.

Jared doesn’t seem to notice Jensen as he approaches the barn, so Jensen takes a minute just to look. Jared’s wearing a thin gray tank top that clings to the line of his spine. It shows off rock-hard shoulders flexing and bunching as Jared wrestles some obstinate piece of machinery into place. His jeans sit low on his hips and there’s a big smudge of oil down one thick biceps. The skin of his neck glistens with sweat and his long hair sticks against it in thick clumps of curls.

It’s not fair.

“Hey,” Jensen says, to distract himself from staring.

Jared stands up too quickly and bangs his head on the hood with a hollow thunk. He rubs it gingerly with one dirty work glove as he flashes a grin. “Hey! Good morning! Did you sleep okay?

“Fine, thanks,” Jensen allows. He could start gushing about how extraordinary it was, but it’s just a polite question. Jared’s not really looking for the details of Jensen’s sleep cycle, good or not. He waves a hand at the tractor. “Trouble?”

“Yeah,” Jared sighs, glancing down into the engine’s guts. “It’s a bum intake valve. I keep messing with it, hoping I don’t have to outright replace it, at least before harvest.” He squints out at the corn, wiping the back of his arm across his forehead. He sighs again and adds, mostly to himself, “Not sure it’s gonna matter.”

Jensen doesn’t like the way Jared’s brow furrows up. “Why’s that?”

Jared’s gaze swings back to him. “Oh, it’s nothing.” He smiles again, sunshine chasing away clouds.

Jared’s so damn easy to read, though, and Jensen can see the smile’s forced. He can tell there’s way more to this story than Jared’s ‘nothing’ lets on. There’s a minute of awkward silence while Jensen debates whether to press for more explanation. At last he decides Jared must have good reasons for dodging, so he casts around for a different topic.

“Any chance we’ll see a game today?” It feels weird to say it out loud, so casually. Magic in your front yard? Sure whatever.

“Oh, they’re just warming up now,” Jared replies, nodding over Jensen’s shoulder.

Jensen whips around. Five seconds ago the field had been empty, but shit if there aren’t now a dozen players scattered across the green, some side-arming balls back and forth, others jogging around the bases, or leaning on their bats and chatting. Jensen spots Aldis standing on third, listening intently to something Ted Williams is telling him. No, really, that’s Ted Williams.

Jensen finds himself unconsciously taking three or four steps downhill toward them.

“So, it’s cool if you want to go down there,” he hears Jared say, “but they aren’t going to start up for awhile. Pretty sure I heard someone mention a double-header today. I might go grab a shower. Maybe try to find something to eat.”

Jensen shakes himself, as if coming out of a trance. There’s food in the oven. He’d completely forgotten about it.

“I was hoping you were hungry,” he tells Jared. “I made something. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but it’s something hot and likely edible. Should be about ready.”

“Yeah?” Jared replies, a new smile lighting up his face, a real one this time. Just looking at it makes Jensen’s unruly heart kick in his chest. “I’m starving actually.”

“Me, too,” Jensen says. And he realizes it’s true. He’s never been much of a breakfast person, but everything seems to be an exception lately, since the moment he met Jared. He turns and starts stumping his way back toward the house. “Hurry up,” he calls to Jared over his shoulder. “We don’t want to miss the first pitch.”


The frittata comes out of the oven at the perfect moment, just barely set. Jared’s finishing washing his hands in the sink when Jensen turns and presents the dish to him with a proud smirk. Jared’s eyes widen at the sight of it as if he hasn’t eaten in weeks and he scrambles for a knife. He cuts himself an enormous piece that’s practically a third of the pan.

It’s very gratifying.

Jensen had gone through a period a few years ago where he’d gotten addicted to cooking shows-Alton, Ina, Mario, Jamie. He’d watch for hours at a time, back-to-back episodes. Eventually, he decided to try making all the recipes himself, even the most complicated. It’s not like he’d had anything better to do. He’d ordered himself a bunch of high-end equipment online and then started churning out dish after elaborate dish. Of course, there was no one around to eat them, so he’d usually just take the food down to the building’s front desk and ask Sheppard to share it among the staff. After awhile, it had gotten old, spending all that time cooking, and for what? So he quit.

Jensen realizes right then, standing in Jared’s tiny kitchen, that he’d never actually cooked for someone before.

So watching Jared take a bite, seeing him close his eyes and moan with approval, it made every minute he’d spent teaching himself proportions and timing and ingredients seem worth it.

If Jensen stuck around, he could actually put some forethought into a meal. He wonders what kind of grocery they have nearby, what it would stock. If Jared thinks this is good, imagine what he’d think of Jensen’s salmon en croûte or some short ribs.

Not that Jensen’s going be sticking around.

He shoves those thoughts aside and gets Jared to break long enough to spoon big heaps of salad onto their plates. He pours himself another cup of coffee-Jared passes, swearing he’d already drunk nearly a whole pot earlier-and they take their plates out to the porch.

They settle carefully into a pair of matching painted rocking chairs. Jared hooks his foot around a little rattan table and draws it closer, in between them. Jensen sets his coffee down on it and balances his plate on his good knee.

They eat, watching the players take batting practice and run drills. They chat about the pitching line-up, speculate on how superstars like these decide who plays which position. Jensen can tell Jared’s excited to have someone to talk about it all with, prattling along a mile a minute. That’s okay. Jensen can talk baseball with the best of them.

Jared’s a quick eater, too, practically inhaling his food. He’s done before Jensen’s even half through.

“I’m gonna go grab a shower, if that’s okay,” he says, standing. “I can just meet you down at the field, if you finish before I’m back and you want to go sit in the stands.”

“Sounds good,” Jensen says. “But I’ll probably wait here for you. This spot is pretty comfy.”

“Yeah, that’s cool. Oh, and thanks for the delicious breakfast. It was really amazing,” Jared adds, showing Jensen his empty plate as proof.

Jensen shrugs awkwardly, not quite knowing what to do with the praise, not used to caring what people think anymore. In the old days, he used to live for compliments. Like fall leaves, he’d gather them into a big pile to jump in and wallow. Now, just this simple comment from Jared has him off-balance. He wants to stash it away for safekeeping, pressed between the pages of a book.

“You’re welcome,” he manages.

“I swear I’m having a hard time stopping myself from going back in there and eating all the rest straight out of the pan. Where’d you learn to cook like that?”

“Um,” Jensen rubs the back of his neck with one hand, a habit he thought he’d broken a long time ago. “It’s nothing special. Just something I played around with awhile back. Cooking, that is. And some baking.”

“You know,” Jared says, cocking his head to the side, “you keep surprising me. I guess I assumed movie stars were more… I don’t know. Bigheaded. Egotistical. But you? You’ve got this incredible hidden talent and all you do is play it down. You get up in the morning and the first thing you do is whip up something to eat, just for me.” He’s grinning now, dimples on high-beam. “You’re a pretty awesome houseguest, Jensen Ackles.”

“Thanks,” Jensen says. His voice sounds like a stranger’s in his ears. “You’re a pretty great host, too.”

Jensen kicks himself for not saying something earlier, first thing. Because Jared is a great host-better than great-and now it sounds like Jensen’s only being polite by saying it in response.

He rushes to add something else. “Guess that makes us a perfect team,” he blurts out.

Oh Christ, he did not just say that. Jensen knows he’s lost his touch when it comes to social interaction-hasn’t bothered, doesn’t care-but with Jared it’s somehow started to matter again, and this is beyond inept. Didn’t he decide just last night that it would be stupid to encourage anything between them? That Jared deserves better? God forbid he interprets this as Jensen’s lame attempt at flirting.

Jared does shoot him a funny look. Jensen firmly bites back the temptation to keep talking, to explain, to misdirect.

Instead he stands as well, and walks over to the porch rail with his back to Jared. “Maybe I’ll head on down to the field after all,” he says out into the open air.

“Okay.” There’s a minute’s hesitation, but when Jensen simply holds himself still and silent, Jared follows up with, “I’ll see you in a few.”

He hears Jared gather up the plates and silverware and his footsteps fade away into the house.

Jensen pulls his phone from his pocket. It’s time to book that flight.

But that little box pops up on the screen with the alert that he’s down to 10% battery. He realizes he didn’t charge the phone overnight like he always would at home. Dammit.

There’s probably a dozen chargers lurking among all Jared’s stuff in the living room, but Jensen’s reluctant to venture back into the house-even just the first floor-while Jared’s showering. Jensen’s battling back enough X-rated mental images of that event as it is. So he tucks the dying phone back in his pocket again.

Out in the distance, Jensen spies two new players emerge from the corn to join the others at play in the outfield. Like phantoms, they seem to appear out of thin air a few feet back amongst the stalks. One second there was nothing, the next they’re jogging across right field, shoulder to shoulder.

It’s uncanny. Impossible. It’s why he’s here.

All Jensen’s angst about things between Jared and him fades away. His thoughts of leaving the farm scatter. All he can think about is what’s out in the field. It’s time to go find out for himself.


The walk down the lawn isn’t bad. Jensen’s knee’s so-so, but of course it’s early yet. He skirts the playing field, his eyes glued to this big, burly guy in baggy pants on the mound, throwing deadly split-fingered fastballs one after the other into the catcher’s mitt like they’re nothing. Jensen racks his brain to guess who it might be. He feels like he should know. He’ll have to ask Jared later.

His skin starts to prickle as he approaches the nearest edge of the crop. He hesitates. Maybe it’s not such a bright idea to go charging in there with no idea what he’ll find. What if he gets trapped in some kind of no-man’s land? In a purgatory full of bygone celebrities waiting around, idle and miserable, longing for the chance to play just one more time?

On the other hand, Jensen’s pretty familiar with that life already.

He steps in, pushing a path through the dense rows of plants. The corn is just above head-height this late in the season, but the tops thin out enough that he can keep sight of Jared’s house up on the rise, even as he makes his way deeper in. Leaves caress his face and arms, while the cornhusks topped with their tufts of silk thump against him less gently. The green scent is as thick as if he’s dived headfirst into a lawnmower bag of fresh grass clippings. Almost enough to make Jensen’s eyes water. The uneven footing where the furrows have been plowed kind of sucks for his balance, but he presses on.

He comes to about where he thinks those last two players appeared and stops. He can hear indistinct sounds from the ballfield, but barely. Mostly it’s quiet, not even a mid-morning breeze to make the corn stir.

He turns in a slow circle, but there’s nothing to see. Nothing unusual or supernatural. No glowing portal to another dimension. No ghosts.

He sighs, rips the tip off of a nearby leaf and shreds it between his fingers in frustration.

Might as well try to get back to the stands before they start the game.
But before he can turn to limp his way back out again, the Voice murmurs from right behind him.

“Believe in it.”

Its tone is that of a golden gong inside a stone temple, or a horn sounding the path to safety through dense fog. Jensen spins around so fast he almost falls, but there’s nothing to see. He could have imagined it, but for the racing of his heart, the echo of it in his ears.

“What are you?” he yells into the emptiness.

There’s no reply.

Fuck. Fuck! Guess it turns out he wasn’t actually expecting to find anything out here. And now that he has, he’s freaking out.

The first time he heard the Voice, back in New York, he’d had Jared with him, and a stadium full of thousands of fans. Now he’s alone and surrounded only by the corn. The corn that seems denser all of a sudden. As if it’s pressing in on him. Ready to smother him, to drive him down into the earth, bury him beneath the hidden web of roots.

“Believe in it,” the Voice urges again.

Then, abruptly, it’s like the seal of a jar is broken. A vacuum pops and air rushes in. He hears the distant caw of a bird and then someone calling his name.


Jared appears, pushing his way through the stalks, striding toward him. Jensen stumbles forward the few yards that separate them, just barely holding back from clutching at Jared with both hands for support.

“Hey, man, are you alright?” Jared asks with concern. As usual, he’s less restrained than Jensen, and reaches out to grip Jensen’s arm.

“I heard it again.” Just having Jared here settles him, shores him up. His heart rate eases off the gas, starts to coast. The corn sways around them, tranquil and unremarkable.

“What? Here? Just now?” Jared’s gaze darts around eagerly. “What did it say?”

“’Believe in it,’” Jensen repeats. It sounds so much flatter and less impressive when he says it.

“In what?” Jared’s still peering around like he’s going to discover the Voice hiding behind one of the taller stalks.

“I don’t know,” Jensen complains, throwing up his hands. He came out here searching for answers, and all he gets is more questions. Believe in what? Why?

“We do believe!” Jared calls out to the skies. “I built the field! Jensen came to Iowa! We’re doing everything you told us to!” He frowns, glancing at Jensen and then back into the depths of the crop. “What more do you want? Where does this end?” he shouts even louder.

Together they hold their breaths, waiting to see if there’s any response.

But whatever was here is gone now, and nothing remains except the two of them.

Jared glances at him. Jensen looks back. He shrugs. “What now?”

Jared drags a frustrated hand through his hair. “Baseball, I guess.”



rps, supernatural fic, j2

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