candygramme: (Both Bitch-Jerk)
[personal profile] candygramme

As Matt crossed to the phone that was mounted on the wall, Jared raised his hand in a brief farewell and took off back up to Deck 12 to find out if Jensen was okay or not. When he finally burst into The Sound Garden, he found Jensen sitting on the edge of the stage with his guitar, singing ‘Wish You Were Here’ while Sam poured a tumbler of Jack for him. Steve, the other bartender, had produced a second guitar and was perched on the piano stool behind him, playing a counter melody and harmonizing. James was nowhere to be seen.

There were only a couple of patrons left in the bar, and Jared paused on the threshold, red-faced, to catch his breath. “Your wish is my command. Here I am,” he said, the smirk on his face hiding just how scared he’d been for Jensen.

The song came to an end, and Jensen rolled his eyes. “I see that you are. Be still my heart.” Behind him, Steve began to sing, ‘Now I’m Here.’

“Don’t be hating,” Jared pouted. “I was worried that she might have succeeded in taking you out.”

“Me?” Jensen’s eyes opened very wide. “Why would she want to do anything to me?”

“Material witness,” replied Jared. “You saw her leaving the scene of the crime, and I suspect she’d have wanted to get rid of you.”

“But now she’s been arrested?” asked Steve, bringing Jared a scotch.

“Not exactly,” said Jared. “She’s dead. Travis killed her.”

There were audible gasps. “You mean that weedy little shrimp who passed out on the floor the other day?” asked Steve. “That Travis?”

“Yep. That Travis.” Jared shook his head. “Let’s just say he was hiding his talents from us all.”

They all sipped on their drinks in silence for a while, then Jensen laid his guitar aside. “Okay. Take me home, please. I’m bagged.”

Nodding, Jared rose to his feet. “You got it, babe,” he said. “We’re gonna be putting into St. Thomas tomorrow morning, and I expect that the local police will want to speak to both of us. Not only that, but it’s 4 a.m. I could use a little sleep before they start to grill me.”

With that, goodnights were said, and the two of them left the bar.

Strolling down to Deck 6 was pleasant. The sea was still save for the wake that was churned up at the stern, and the moon shone almost full, turning what ripples there were to pearl as the phosphorescence enhanced the moonlight. In the distance, a playful dolphin cut through the air before plunging back down below the waves. It seemed to Jared to be exactly the kind of night for lovers to find each other.

As they reached the deck itself, Jared bent and planted a kiss on Jensen’s mouth. It was inexpert at first, almost missing its intended target, but Jensen got with the program and turned towards him, raising his face so that their mouths collided in earnest, lips and tongues sliding together as if they were two parts of a single whole. There were no comets, and the earth didn’t stand still, but the two men didn’t notice as they pressed together, lost in the exploration of each other. When Jensen finally stepped back to look at his companion, he had hearts in his eyes.

“Come on,” Jared’s voice was soft, and he took Jensen’s hand to lead him into the ship and down the passageway to their cabin.

Inside the cabin, Jared turned to Jensen, who seemed to be in a daze. “God, I want...” He lifted his hand to trail fingers down over Jensen’s face from the fine skin of his temple down over the rough jaw. “I can’t stop thinking about you,” he whispered.

“Don’t wanna hurt you.” Jensen closed his eyes at the gentle touch.

“You won’t, Jen. Not gonna happen.”

Jensen bit his lip as if lost in thought and finally seemed to reach a decision. “What the hell!” He reached for Jared, pressing up against him so that Jared could feel just how aroused he was. “You’re wearing way too many clothes.”

Laughing, Jared signified his agreement by pulling his T-shirt over his head and reaching down to his belt buckle, but Jensen beat him to it, fumbling with the catch and popping the button at the waistband of Jared’s jeans.

“Guh,” said Jared, unable to think of anything more coherent as he felt his jeans descend and warm hands cup his butt cheeks. It seemed that once Jensen had made his decision, he was all in and fully engaged in taking Jared apart, one piece at a time. Jensen’s jaw was rough, faint stubble scraping against his, sending tingles down his spine. Kisses were lazy at first, becoming firmer, more desperate, until he was groaning into Jensen’s mouth, his cock hot and hard against Jensen’s thigh. Pre-come leaked, making his boxers soggy, and Jensen shoved them down roughly, leaving him bare.

At that point it didn’t take long for Jared to realize that things would feel a whole lot better if Jensen were naked too, and he dropped to his knees, pulling and dragging until Jensen’s offending garments were scattered across the floor. From his position on the floor, he could see the whole of Jensen’s body, muscular thighs tapering to the slim waist and bracketed between them the man’s hard, glistening cock. Without any hesitation, he leaned in and sucked the tip into his mouth, causing juices to drip onto his tongue, sharp and salty.

He sucked for a moment longer, but Jensen tugged him upright. “Gonna come if you keep on doing that,” he said. Jared smirked around his mouthful of Jensen's cock and let his fingers glide over Jensen’s balls before he finally released the cock with a pop. Finally submitting to Jensen’s urging, he climbed to his feet and laughed as he shoved Jensen back onto the bed.

Jared followed him down and captured his lips again, licking his way into Jensen’s mouth. He pushed on Jensen's shoulder until he was lying flat on his back, then took a moment to prop himself up on one elbow so he could gaze down on him. Jensen's hair was sticking up in odd ends and spikes; his eyes were dark and shiny, and his lips were spit-slick and swollen. Jared just wanted to wrap himself around him and fucking own him.

It seemed that Jared had spent too long thinking about things. Jensen had claimed the moment. He’d fumbled into the nightstand, knowing — or at least suspecting — that there was lube there, grunting in satisfaction as he found it, flipped open the cap and coated his hand.

Jared felt fingers tickling down his treasure trail, scritch-scratching their way towards his cock, then past to circle his balls and down. There was lube, and a finger circling his hole, then two, and they slid round and round, dipped in and finally entered him, filling him, stretching while he loved Jensen with his eyes.

“Do it,” he muttered, reaching for the lube himself and reaching for Jensen’s cock, thick and sturdy. “Just let me feel you.”

Chuckling, Jensen added another finger and stretched him wider, until he thought he might split. “Don’t want to injure you, Jay. Don’t wanna hurt you.”

“Oh, fuck, please,” groaned Jared, and Jensen finally rolled to cover him, pull up his thighs and drive his cock inside him, one long slide until he could feel Jensen’s balls slapping his ass. Jared thought he might have cried out. The feel of Jensen, the sight of him, the slack mouth mumbling obscenities, all conspired to make him crazy.

Long thrusts stroked sweetness into his flesh, and Jensen rolled his hips, body slick and smooth against his, while Jared reached to take hold of his own cock, jacking it as he felt the curls of orgasm begin to rise, gather and pool at the base of his balls.

“I love you,” Jared whispered and came, white hot sparks pouring his soul out through his dick. He saw Jensen bite his lip and moan as he in turn lost the rhythm and just pushed hard into him, straining through the clenching muscles that were pulsing around his cock. The hot splash of fluid inside him as Jensen followed was suddenly all he’d ever wanted, and he suddenly felt complete. “I love you,” he said again and buried his fingers in Jensen’s messy hair, pulling him in for a kiss that was softer, sweeter, perfect.

“Be right back,” muttered Jensen and went to find something to clean them up with, settling on one of the hand towels to wipe away the sticky residue.

“Get some sleep,” he murmured, dropping a final kiss onto Jared’s mouth before going to slip into his own bunk. “There’s no way we’ll both fit into one of these beds.”

A moment later, Jared was snoring softly, and when Matt knocked on his door the following day to tell him that the police wanted his statement, Jensen was gone.

After three attempts to wake Jensen and Jared, Matt eventually resorted to banging on the door loudly. He hoped none of the other passengers on Deck 6 were trying to sleep, but the St. Thomas police were getting impatient. They wanted to talk to everyone on board who had any involvement in the crimes before they took Travis and his victims to their police station. And Matt was sure the two men would much rather get that out of the way now so they could enjoy their day ashore.

When Jared finally opened the door, it was clear what they had been up to the night before. If the severely tousled hair and several suspicious looking marks on his neck and torso didn’t give it away, the distinct smell of sex sure did. Looked like they had finally figured their shit out. Their timing could’ve been better though, with the whole murder investigation and police officers needing to speak with them.

“Ugh, you stink,” Matt informed Jared. “You and Jensen better shower quickly. The police are waiting for you.”

“Jensen?” Jared asked, apparently confused. “He’s not there? When he wasn’t here I hoped he was already talking to the cops.”

“No,” Matt answered. “I was waiting as long as I could to come wake you. But they only have a few more interviews to do, and they need to get going.”

“Tell them to go on,” Jared said, sounding distracted as he looked around the room. “I need to find Jensen.”

“Do us all a favor,” Matt teased. “Have a shower first.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Jared muttered. “Get out of here. I’ll find Jensen, and we’ll come to the station.”

Matt left him to it and returned to speak with the officers. They weren’t happy to have two of their most important witnesses unavailable, but when Matt reminded them that Jared had been up with him all night trapping their killers, they were slightly mollified. An Officer Jackson did extract Matt’s guarantee that he would personally make sure they came in for questioning. Her people were already packing everything up for transport to the police station, and she glared at Matt as she left to make her own way back there.

Once she was gone, Matt found himself at loose ends. James was busy with the horrendous amount of red tape involved in canceling the rest of the cruise, compensating the passengers and arranging for their transport home. Not that he was personally making the arrangements, but as the ship’s captain, he was responsible for authorizing them and reporting to Carnivore Cruises. Matt didn’t envy him.

He really wasn’t surprised when he found himself in The Sound Garden. Sam took one look at him and poured him a bourbon rather than his usual glass of wine, setting the bottle on the bar next to him. “Damn, boy. You look rode hard and put away wet,” she said. “And not in the fun way.”

“Yeah,” Matt agreed, gratefully taking a healthy swig of the bourbon before grimacing slightly. “It was a long night.”

“Speaking of your long night,” Sam said. “Have you seen Jared? He promised to explain what was going on and never got around to it.”

“Last I saw him, he was just getting in the shower,” Matt answered. “He’s probably still in his cabin or combing the ship, looking for Jensen.”

“Oh, he’ll probably want this then,” Sam said, as if she’d just remembered. She held up a note with Jared’s name written on it. Matt doubted the omission had been accidental; she’d probably been trying to save his feelings or something in case he didn’t yet realize that Jensen was spoken for. “He left this for Jared while he was packing up his guitar.”

“Packing up his guitar?” Matt was utterly confused. Where would he be going just when he and Jared had worked things out? Why?

“Maybe I better ring Jared’s cabin,” Sam said. “Hopefully, he’s still there and this note can tell us something.”

“Good idea,” Matt agreed, and Sam put words to action.

“Jared?” Sam said into the phone. “It’s Sam. Jensen left a note for you up in the bar.” She hung up the phone and turned to Matt. “He’ll be right up.”

Matt drank a few more sips of his bourbon before Jared came racing in, holding his hand out for the note. Sam handed it over without comment, and Jared snatched it from her and tore it open.

“See you soon. This has all been a bit much for me, but I’ll find you when you least expect it,” Jared read aloud. His voice and expressions were calm and even, but Matt couldn’t imagine how he must be feeling.

“That’s a tough one, kid,” Sam said sympathetically. “But I get it. I’m of half a mind to turn tail and run and it wasn’t even my room the guy died in.”

“I agree,” Matt said. “He was pretty green at the crime scene. I think he’s handled himself pretty well, considering.”

“Crime scene? Wait? You’re a cop?” Sam looked back and forth between Matt and Jared. “You’re both cops?”

“Yeah,” Jared answered, nodding. “Sorry about that. I was going to explain it all and then things sort of got away from me. Thanks for your part, by the way. You were a big help.”

“I thought I was helping you set up some sort of tryst with your boy,” Sam sputtered. “I had no idea I was involved in some big investigation!”

“I’m sorry,” Matt apologized. Jared shouldn’t have involved a civilian, but they had so few resources. And it was unlikely her role would’ve been discovered and put her in danger. “We wouldn’t have involved you if we’d had any other choice. I know it can be upsetting to be around a murder, much less involved in the investigation.”

“Murder? Osric was murdered? Why?” Sam’s voice was understandably angry and confused. Matt kicked himself for upsetting her further by letting the cat out of the bag. He really shouldn’t have assumed she knew about the murder just because she’d known Osric had died in Jensen’s cabin. James’s attempts to keep the investigation under wraps had been much more successful than Matt had expected.

“I’m so sorry! I thought you knew…” Matt trailed off inanely. He really should be better at functioning with little to no sleep by now.

“No, I get it,” Sam reassured him. “You didn’t want to cause a panic. And I’m glad to have been able to help. I don’t understand any of it, but I was happy to contribute. You realize this makes it even more understandable that your boy ran off, Jared. His cabin steward was murdered in his room? And the young man he was just getting close to is a cop investigating the murder?”

“When you put it that way…” Jared’s voice trailed off, and Matt was sure he was unconvinced.

“Sam’s probably got the right of it,” Matt agreed. “And we’ve got to get to the station.”

“Of course,” Jared agreed, pouring a finger of Matt’s bourbon and downing it before heading for the door. “You coming?”

Matt drained his glass and followed his friend out the door with a smile and wave to Sam. “We’ll catch up later, okay?”

On the way to the police station, a small boy in threadbare clothing brushed against Jared before dashing into the crowd again. Matt was accustomed to tourist areas and tried to nab the would-be pickpocket. He was far too quick though. Matt didn’t think the kid had time to get anything, but he’d been so quick to run off, maybe his fingers were even quicker. “You should check your pockets, see if anything is missing.”

Jared made a show of patting himself down before pulling a small card from his pants pocket in surprise. “Where did this come from? How did he? I didn’t even feel anything!”

“They’re sneaky. At least he didn’t take your wallet,” Matt comforted. “What do you have there?”

“It’s one of the Tornado’s cards!” Jared exclaimed. “He’s never done this before. They’ve always been left for me, not delivered by accosting urchins.”

“It’s not that different to the Lukka Kairi. Is there a message?” Matt asked. “The last two have been breaks in the pattern as well, drawing you out here. Maybe this was his plan all along?”

“Maybe,” Jared shrugged and then read the card aloud, stumbling over the unfamiliar words. “El Valle del Espíritu Santo seems like a pretty village on a beautiful island. Wonder if I can find anything of interest there.”

“So he is luring you somewhere,” Matt commented. “The question is, why? Do you think he means you harm?”

“No!” Jared replied emphatically. “Everything I’ve learned about him has convinced me that he abhors violence. So many times, it would have been easier for him to at least knock out a witness, if not kill them, and he never has.”

“If he left witnesses, why didn’t you ever get a description?” Matt asked.

“Oh, we did,” Jared laughed. “We got so many descriptions, and had so many sketches done. According to the witnesses, he is tall, short, black, white, ginger, blond, blue eyes, green eyes — or maybe it’s a woman.”

“How do you know it’s the same person?” Matt asked. “And why are you so sure it’s a man?”

“I’m not completely sure it’s a man,” Jared admitted. “That’s just a gut feeling. But I am sure it’s the same person. There’s a style to all of these heists that’s almost as unique as a fingerprint. If I knew the city and the date, I could predict exactly what he’d steal and how he’d go about it. And there are details that are perfect, every time. I knew it was the same person well before he started leaving the cards, but I couldn’t convince my boss. But I know this guy.”

“Sounds like you have a crush on him,” Matt teased.

“Hardly,” Jared rolled his eyes. “I’ll save that for Jensen. But I’ve been chasing this guy for years, and I really need to catch him. Both for my career and the personal satisfaction.”

“So, go get him,” Matt advised.

“I plan to,” Jared responded excitedly, then sobered suddenly. “But what about Jensen? He said he’d find me, but I don’t think he’d expect me to go traipsing off to some random island in the Caribbean. What if I miss him?”

“I get the feeling he’s not going to give up on you that easily,” reassured Matt. “Besides, James and I will still be here wrapping this mess up for a while. I’m sure Jensen will look me up to ask after you if he shows up and can’t find you.”

“You’re probably right,” Jared agreed dubiously.

“Besides,” Matt pressed. “How long have you been chasing this guy? You can’t just let it go on the off chance that Jensen picks this moment to come back. You can be back in a couple of days.”

“Okay,” Jared finally agreed. “Now where’s this police station?”

“It should be just up here,” Matt answered, recalling the directions that Officer Jackson had given him. “That’s it, I think.”

The station was much like other police stations that Matt had been in around the world, only cleaner and the cops spoke English. Jared went off to give his statement, and the officer from the ship asked Matt, “Where is the other witness?”

“He was pretty traumatized by the whole thing,” Matt answered. “I think he’s gone somewhere to clear his head.”

“But you must understand that we need to talk to him,” Officer Jackson insisted.

“Of course,” Matt reassured her. “I’m sure he’ll turn up soon. We’ve gotten to be friends the last few days. I’ll see that he comes in.”

“Please do,” she agreed. “I will need to close the case quickly and make arrangements to get the victims back to their families.”

“You don’t really need him to close the case,” Matt reassured her. “His presence was firmly established elsewhere, and he didn’t even find the body. It was just in his cabin.”

“Nevertheless,” Officer Jackson insisted. “I should talk to him just to be thorough. He may know something.”

“I agree,” Matt said. “That’s why I talked to him. He didn’t remember anything then that was helpful. He did see one of the suspects — the fourth victim — later and established her whereabouts around the time of the third murder and that she was wearing the third victim’s clothing. That helped us to time our operation to trap the suspect.”

“Four victims?” Officer Jackson asked. “Why are there only three bodies?”

“We got them on tape admitting to throwing the ship’s doctor overboard,” Matt reminded her.

“Oh, right,” she said. “I’d forgotten. Glad I have you around to set me straight. Just make sure you bring my other witness as soon as you can.”

“Will do,” Matt answered, relieved that she’d accepted his explanation for the moment. Now Jensen just needed to turn up before he got Matt into trouble.

Just then, Jared reappeared from his interview, and Matt remembered the card. He asked Officer Jackson, “Do you know anything about a place called El Valle del Espíritu Santo? It’s supposed to be some village on an island.”

“Umm …” she answered, apparently searching her memory. “The valley of the holy spirit? Hey, Jim? Isn’t there an island with a church on it with that name just north of the mainland?”

“Yes,” Jim answered. “It’s on Isla Margarita. The island is mostly full of resorts, but has fallen on hard times with the political unrest in the rest of Venezuela. I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Jared’s following up on a lead,” Matt explained. “Do you have any recommendations for transportation?”

“Unofficially,” Jared cut in.

“I’ll do you one better,” Jim offered, ignoring Jared’s clarification. “I have a buddy who has a charter service. I’m sure I can get him to take you over there. And get you in a registered cab that’ll be less likely to cheat you blind.”

“Wow,” Jared smiled, clearly grateful. “That would be great! When do we leave?”

“First light,” Jim answered. “It’ll take at least four hours to get there, and the museum there closes at lunch time. The church is open until five. Not much else in the village, and not really anywhere to stay without going back into Porlamar, unless you know someone.”

“Thank you!” Jared said, but Matt could tell he was a little disappointed that he couldn’t get started this afternoon. “I appreciate your help. I’ll be here first thing.”

“You should meet him at the airport,” Jim said. “Do you have any bolivar?”

“What?” Jared sounded confused.

“Venezuelan currency,” Jim explained. “From your reaction, I’m going to assume that’s a no. I’ll ask Julio to bring some. They’re incredibly cheap, and it’s a lot easier to get around if you have the local currency. You should bring $50 for the money. Don’t bring more; it’ll attract attention you don’t need.”

“What about the transportation?” Jared asked. “That must be expensive.”

“He owes me one,” Jim said. “Or several. But consider it a gift.”

“Thank you,” Jared said, smiling. He looked more relaxed than Matt had seen him since he had discovered Jensen was missing. Refocusing on his mission to catch The Green Tornado seemed to be just the distraction that he needed.

The sky was just beginning to show signs of the impending sunrise when Jared presented himself at the airport. Apparently, he was expected as he was escorted quickly through security that seemed more like what he’d expect at a federal building or courthouse than an airport. A narrow, inconspicuous door led him downstairs and onto the tarmac where a small twin-engine plane was waiting. Within 15 minutes, they were airborne.

The flight was long in the small plane, but Julio regaled Jared with talk of his travels around the islands. What he was doing during those travels wasn’t always clear, but his stories were entertaining. Jared thought it likely that Julio was a smuggler of sorts but found him fun to share stories with. His tales were intermixed with cautions about pickpockets and muggers, as well as other nefarious sorts in Porlamar and on Isla de Margarita in general. Jared found himself growing more nervous, but Julio assured Jared that he would help Jared find safe and reliable transportation to the village of El Valle del Espíritu Santo.

True to his word, Julio flagged down a cab and negotiated a rate well within the sum he’d exchanged for Jared’s American dollars. 25 minutes later, Jared was in his destination village. The cab driver didn’t know the Santiago Mariño Museum, but it couldn’t be that hard to find. The village wasn’t that big. He had barely started looking around when he was approached by a young boy asking him, “You look for El Tornado Verde, sí?”

“Yes,” Jared answered, bemused.

“I take you, sí?”

Seeing no better alternative, Jared was happy to agree. He nodded to the boy. “Sí, thank you. Uh, gracias.”

The boy smiled at him brightly and guided him down alleys and through a market square like only a native could. Jared was glad to have his help. The museum turned out to be a lovely traditional colonial house with mature trees and lots of greenery lining the path to the door. The signs indicated in English and Spanish that this had been the home of General Santiago Mariño, who was revered as a hero of the Venezuelan War of Independence.

Inside, Jared found paintings, furniture and other classic objects from this period in Venezuelan history, all helpfully labeled. What he didn’t find were any other people. The boy had disappeared before Jared had a chance to thank him. He had explored the house, and still hadn’t seen a soul, but he found patio doors thrown wide to allow in the breeze leading out to a beautiful garden.

Tropical flowers bloomed everywhere in barely contained chaos, but the paths were clear. Jared’s attention was drawn from the natural beauty around him to a man seated on a bench near the middle facing away from him. Could that finally be The Green Tornado? Surely it wouldn’t be this easy in the end.

As he walked around the bench, the seated man lifted his gaze to meet Jared’s, and Jared actually stumbled in shock. The man was Jensen! What was he doing here? Where was the Tornado?

“Hey, Jared,” Jensen said, almost timidly. Almost as if he were afraid of him. Why would Jensen be afraid? Surely he knew that Jared could never hurt him.

“Hey,” Jared asked, looking around for the Tornado. Jensen shouldn’t be here! “What are you doing here?”

Jensen didn’t answer, just continued sitting there, looking at him, waiting. Jared kept expecting him to say something, to offer some explanation, but he didn’t. Finally, the penny dropped. “You’re The Green Tornado?”

Jensen merely nodded, not offering any explanations or excuses. Jared didn’t know how to feel. He felt betrayed, angry, sad, and confused all at once. “But … how? Why?”

“Why what?” Jensen asked, not quite sure what Jared was asking. At least he hadn’t punched him yet — that had to be a good sign, right? Maybe he was too stunned to react and the violence would come later, or maybe there would just be indifference. Jensen wouldn’t blame him for either.

“Why are we here?” Jared finally clarified. “Why did you bring me here?”

“I wanted…” Jensen trailed off. Why was he here? What did he expect to gain besides more heartbreak for both of them? He settled for a partial truth. “I wanted to see if we could clear the air. I couldn’t keep … not lying exactly, but not telling you the truth either.”

“Damn straight you weren’t being honest with me!” Jared responded angrily. “Knowing full well I was hunting for you and then luring me to your bed!”

“That’s not how it happened,” Jensen responded defensively, standing and reaching for Jared before thinking better of it and lowering his hand. This was what he’d been afraid of. It was the obvious conclusion from Jared’s perspective. “I didn’t mean for … the last thing I expected was to fall for you! I didn’t mean to fall for anybody, especially not a fed! I didn’t even know who you were until the restaurant that day.”

“Then how did it happen?” Jared demanded, backing away from him. “What was the point of leaving the cards for me, for leaving the breadcrumbs that led me to this cruise? What was that all about if it wasn’t to screw with me?”

“I don’t know,” Jensen answered, shrugging. He’d been trying to figure out the answer to this one himself for months, years even. But he had to try, he had to give Jared something. “At first, it was an impulse. You fascinated me. Nobody else had ever gotten into my head the way you did. It was like you understood me. So I wanted to see what you would do. It was stupid, and I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you.”

“Good job there,” Jared said bitterly.

“You have every right to be angry,” Jensen said resignedly. “Hell, I more than half expected you to punch me when you figured it out.”

“Then why are we here?” Jared repeated, clearly still confused and angry. “Why didn’t you just vanish? Did you want to rub salt in the wound?”

“No!” Jensen sputtered, then continued more calmly, stealing himself for the loss he knew was coming. “I … I couldn’t just go. Not without seeing you again. Not without at least trying to salvage this.”

“Salvage what?” Jared asked.

“Us,” Jensen clarified. “Jared, you must know how I feel about you. I couldn’t just leave without finding out if what you felt could survive what I’ve done.”

“No, I don’t,” Jared said. “I don’t know how you feel. I gave myself to you, told you I loved you, and you didn’t say anything. And when I woke, you were gone. How is that supposed to show that you feel anything for me?”

“I’m sorry,” Jensen said. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

“What?” Jared asked, clearly stung. “We shouldn’t have slept together, or I shouldn’t have told you I loved you?”

“I was determined not to let that happen,” Jensen answered. He had tried so hard to keep Jared at arm’s length, but he’d failed. And that’s why everything he’d ever wanted was ending like this. “And then Osric getting killed in my cabin, and bunking with you and … I was weak. I’m sorry.”

“I thought you wanted it too,” Jared mumbled, obviously crushed. Jensen thought at this point that Jared was just going to walk away, that he should walk away.

“I did!,” Jensen said urgently. “I wanted it more than anything. That was the problem. I just didn’t want it to be like that!”

“Like what?” Jared asked cautiously.

“I wanted to tell you the truth first,” Jensen said simply. “I wanted you to know who I was before we made love.”

“So, what now?” Jared asked. That’s the question Jensen didn’t have the answer to. He’d never expected to fall in love, or that it would feel like this. And with a cop! But here he was, head over heels, and Jared had said he loved Jensen, too. But that was before he really knew Jensen. Jensen was a thief, and Jared was a cop, and there was no way this could ever work. Jensen didn’t deserve Jared, anyway. He was an idiot to think this last-ditch effort to talk to Jared could change anything.

“I guess that’s up to you,” Jensen replied, leaving his heart in Jared’s hands.

“But I’m a cop. And you’re a thief,” Jared protested, echoing Jensen’s thoughts. “There’s no way this can work.”

“I don’t have to steal,” Jensen offered. “I have everything we’d ever need.”

“Then why did you?” Jared asked curiously.

“Adrenaline rush?” Jensen offered unsurely. “Because it was who I was and what I did, and I didn’t have anything else?”

“So, what?” Jared asked. “I quit my job, you quit yours, and we set up a bar somewhere you can’t be extradited?”

“Why not?” Jensen asked, shrugging and ducking his head. Jared had said it derisively, but he’d articulated the perfect scenario for Jensen. Too bad Jared would never be happy living it. “I mean, I would be happy with that. I would be happy with you, however we work that out. I love you. I mean, if you still feel the same?”

“I don’t know,” Jared answered, his voice cracking. “I don’t know if I can do this.”

Jensen’s heart broke as Jared turned and walked away.

Jared wasn’t sure how he’d made it the mile or so from El Valle to Porlamar, but he’d eventually found a taxi to take him back to the airport. Julio had finished his business on Isla de Margarita and was waiting for him. Probably sensing his mood, he was much less talkative on the flight back to St. Thomas. Jared made his way back to the ship, and Matt took one look at him and involved him in wrapping up the paperwork for the case. Jared tried to bury himself in the work but found himself going over the events of the past week with the growing certainty that he’d thrown away the best thing that had ever happened to him.

All of the passengers and most of the crew had gone back home, but the few who remained gathered in The Sound Garden the next evening. James and Matt had obviously worked out their relationship, and watching their easy camaraderie just made Jared sad. Matt expected an explanation, of course, and Jared hadn’t felt up to offering any until he had some alcohol in his system.

“It was Jensen,” Jared said, out of the blue.

“What was Jensen?” asked Matt.

“The Green Tornado,” Jared answered dully. He still didn’t know what to think of it all, but he was finally starting to realize that maybe the case didn’t matter as much as he’d always thought it did. “He offered to stop stealing.”

“What did you do?” Matt asked. If he was surprised, he covered quickly. James just looked confused, but didn’t comment.

“What choice did I have?” Jared asked in return, echoing the refrain that had been chasing itself around in his head. “I walked away.”

“Sometimes there are things more important than the case,” Matt answered, sneaking a glance at James before refocusing on Jared. “You just have to decide whether or not this is one of those times. And then live with what you decide.”

“But what can I do even if I do decide that he’s more important?” Jared asked despondently. “I’m sure I’d never see him again anyway.”

Jared was busy staring into his half-empty glass when he heard a familiar voice and finally noticed that something had captured his friends’ attention over by the bar. He turned to look and couldn’t control the smile that broke across his face when he saw Jensen getting another round for their table. If he’d still had any doubt about what he’d decide if given the opportunity, that uncertainty was erased by the joy he felt at the sight of Jensen’s face, and the sound of his voice teasing Sam at the bar.

“Hey, Jared,” Jensen said, his smile just as bright as the one Jared knew was on his own face. It was amazing how different the same words sounded than they had just a day ago. This was the confident man that Jared had fallen in love with. He didn’t know what soul searching Jensen had been doing, but apparently he’d come to some sort of realization as well. And his presence here spoke volumes. He continued, greeting the other two men, but his eyes never left Jared’s. “Matt, James. Good to see you.”

“Hey,” Jared answered. “Did you enjoy your time on the island?”

“I don’t know if enjoy is the right word,” Jensen replied. “But I did come to a realization.”

“You too?” Jared asked. “What was yours?”

“That it doesn’t matter if you have everything else in the world; if you don’t have what’s most important to you, you’ll never be happy,” Jensen said simply. “So, my future is in your hands.”

“That’s funny,” Jared said, smiling even bigger, if that was possible. “I’d pretty much come to the same conclusion.”

January 2017, Porlamar Aeropuerto

The two men descending from the plane at Del Caribe "Santiago Mariño" International Airport were both stunning. More than one of the holidaymakers traveling with them had cast longing looks their way, but they seemed totally engrossed in each other.

Making their way inside the terminal to collect their luggage and pass through customs, they walked in step, so close that their shoulders bumped with each stride. It took what seemed like forever before their luggage emerged from the conveyer belt and they were able to snag it.

Stepping out of the airport into the solid heat of the afternoon, they were relieved to be hailed by a familiar voice, and a white car drew up alongside the curb.

“You guys!” Jared hopped out of the car and clapped them both on the back before moving round to pop the trunk and stow their suitcases. “This is gonna be so fun,” he said. “I thought you were never going to get here. You took so long, I thought you’d been impounded for smuggling or something.”

James snickered. “We’d have been out of there a good half hour ago if we hadn’t had to fight our way through all the señoritas who wanted to take Matt here home to meet the family.”

“Well, we’d better get him out of harm’s way,” said Jared, holding the door as the two men settled themselves inside and then closing it with a flourish.

The road was dusty and rutted, and Porlamar was a strange mix of new skyscrapers and concrete buildings along the ocean’s edge that gradually changed as they turned away from the water to cross through the city. Soon they were driving through aging stucco and older, colonial style houses as they made their way to the quiet area where Jensen and Jared had set up home.

As they drew out of the main city, the road climbed a little and the view of the ocean was enough to keep them drinking in the scenery, so little was said on their journey. It wasn’t long before Jared pulled the car into a driveway paved with red brick and drove up to a building that looked to have been made from confectioners’ sugar. The walls were white stucco, with a wide porch that was roofed in red tile, and an archway with wrought iron gates that had been folded back in welcome. The archway led into a tiled foyer, and Jared turned to them.

“Come see Jensen, and then I’ll show you where your room is. You must be dying of heatstroke in those suits.”

James had taken his jacket off and tossed it carelessly over his suitcase while Matt, always dapper, smiled at him. “Lead on. We can take it.”

Jared led them out of a side door and across a little garden with a fountain of cherubs carved from marble. Partly obscured by a huge hibiscus, there was another door which led into a long, wide verandah, open on one side. At the far end was a stage containing a piano and a guitar on a stand, and against the wall of the verandah was a bar. Several patrons were sitting at tables around the bar, or leaning up against it, and standing behind the bar, beaming at them, was Jensen.

Later that evening, the four men sat around a table to enjoy a drink and catch up. The bar was full of people, most of them locals, out for the evening and prepared to party. Dress was casual, and even Matt had shed his suit for a Henley and jeans, while the other three were in shorts and tank tops. The fragrance of oleander and frangipani mixed with the warm breeze carrying the scent of the ocean. Jared couldn’t stop smiling as the four of them shared their tales of what had happened since their last meeting.

“It suddenly dawned on me,” said Jared, his arm around Jensen’s shoulders. “I didn’t fail after all. I caught The Green Tornado. What I did with him after that doesn’t matter.”

“It’s a good look on you,” smiled James. “You look relaxed.”

“He does,” said Jensen with a grin. “He’s writing a book. I’ve made him promise not to put me in it.”

At that moment, Sam came from behind the bar with a plate of tapas. “Hey, guys. It’s great to see you all together again, looking good. Steve put these together for you, and he’ll be on in five minutes to start warming up the crowd.”

As they all reached for one of the tasty morsels on the dish, Jensen turned to Matt. “While we’re tying up loose ends, what happened to the Wester guy?”

“Well, of course, once I delivered him into custody, my job was done, but I know that he was transported to Miami, and he’s been placed in solitary for his own protection. There are way too many of his victims out there waiting to take him out.” Matt gestured around at the bar, which was now packed with patrons. “I’ve resigned. Gonna try something with less blood involved.”

“And I’m going to be with him every step of the way,” said James, reaching to clasp Matt’s hand.

The noise in the bar suddenly became subdued as Steve stepped up to the mike at the front of the stage and began to play. The four men listened for a few minutes, and then Jensen rose to his feet, bent to plant a long, sweet kiss on Jared’s mouth, then straightened.

“Guess I’d better go to work,” he said.

“Break a leg,” murmured Jared and then turned to the others with a wink. “Yep, he’s gainfully employed at last.”


Master Post | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Artwork | PDF | AO3 | Author's Notes and Acknowledgements
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