candygramme: (Both Bitch-Jerk)
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This story was written for the spn_j2_bigbang on livejournal.

We have no recollection of what we intended to write when we began this story, but I’m sure it wasn’t this. Still, we think it came out fine, given that we know nothing about Interpol, or industrial espionage, and don’t personaly know any assassins or jewel thieves.

To our amazing beta, [personal profile] framedhim who put so much work into this fic and who knows grammar like whoa, seriously, you rock. So hard. You flagged up so many glaring errors, and we will be forever grateful that you put up with the process so graciously. So much love to you!

And then, of course, there’s our wonderful artist, [personal profile] thruterryseyes, who picked us when we’d given up even hoping, and who did us proud with so much stunning art that we are still dazed. Please, go look at her journal. I’m not kidding! You will find it HERE.

And last but not least, Wendy. Year after year she has endured the headaches and frustrations of putting up with us flaky authors, and hasn’t run away screaming yet. (Not that we think you’re old, Wendy, just seasoned!) Thank you so much for being a most wonderful organizer, and providing us with so much wonderful long fic every year. Our hats are off to you.


Master Post | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Artwork | PDF | AO3 | Author's Notes and Acknowledgements
candygramme: (Default)
Fic title: Mayhem Afloat
Author name: [personal profile] candygramme and [profile] spoonlessone
Artist name: [personal profile] thruterryseyes
Beta:[personal profile] framedhim
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Rating: NC17
Word count: 33,572
Warnings: Minor Character Death
Summary: A cruise should be a relaxing vacation away from the worries of the everyday world, but with an international assassin running wild, not to mention a master jewel thief, relaxing is the last word Jared Padalecki would use to describe his voyage. Fortunately there's a really hot lounge singer on board to help take his mind off things.



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

candygramme: (Default)


Mayhem Afloat Part 1 )


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

candygramme: (Default)


Mayhem Afloat Part 2 )


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

candygramme: (Default)


Mayhem Afloat Part 3 )


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

candygramme: (Both Bitch-Jerk)


Mayhem Afloat Part 4 )


Master Post | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 |Artwork | PDF | AO3 | Author's Notes and Acknowledgements
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)
Title: Seasons
Gifter: [livejournal.com profile] candygramme
Giftee: [livejournal.com profile] norawj2
Rating: NC17
Pairing: J2
Word Count: 3,800
Warnings: schmoop
Beta: My trusty and amazing [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone
Summary: The J's from season to season

A/N Written for the Xmas gift exchange.

Seasons )
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)
Title: Aldebaran
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] expectative
Author: [livejournal.com profile] candygramme
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Warning: Weirdness
Link to the artwork: Here
Rated: R
Notes: Aldebaran is a star cluster with a white dwarf and a red sun. There seems to be a planet too according to Wiki. This story is weird, but was totally inspired by the gorgeous artwork. Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] expectative for the pretties. Please go to his page to see them.

Aldebaran )
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)
Title: Aldebaran
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] expectative
Author: [livejournal.com profile] candygramme
Pairing: Jared/Jensen
Warning: Weirdness


Aldebaran )
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)
Beta: The incomparable [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone
Rated: This part is NC17 for sex and violence
Genre: Slash, J2
Author's Notes: This episode: Then: Trouble in Paradise. Chris is jealous of Jared. Now: Thank heavens for little girls. A reporter goes to interview Jared.
Part 6 of Hurricane )

Master List | Part 5
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)
All my stories:

My Fic )


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candygramme: (Christmas3)




candygramme: (avengers)
Beta: The incomparable [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone
Rated: This part is NC17 for sex and violence
Genre: Slash, J2
Author's Notes: This episode: Then: the band acquires a guitarist, and Js get together. Now: Jared is sober and excited at the thought that he and Jensen are getting back together.

Don't Wait Up )

Master List | Part 4
candygramme: (avengers)
Part 4 of 'Rock Me Like a Hurricane'

Title: "To Ease This Precious Ache"

Beta: [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone

Word Count ~5,200

Rated: Slash. Whole series NC-17. This part PG13

Players: Jared/Jensen, Steve Carlson, Jonah Dolan, Riley Smith, Misha Collins, Christian Kane, Danneel Harris, Sandy McCoy

To Ease This Precious Ache )


Back to Part 3

Master List
candygramme: (Jensen It's okay)





A J2 Rock extravaganza starring Jared and Jensen and a cast of thousands. Jensen and Jared find each other and fall in love, but Jensen has already made enemies. Will Jared be able to overcome the hostility and find happiness with Jensen, or are there too many burned bridges behind them?

Rated NC-17, slash, J2, Historically Jensen/Steve Carlson

Beta [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone

Author's notes: There is only one episode left, so I thought it would be safe to put it out there. The final installment will be along soon.

Part 1: And the Grammy Goes To...
Part 2: How it All Began
Part 3: Chasing Dreams for Everyone But Me
Part 4: To Ease This Precious Ache
Part 5: Don't Wait Up
Part 6: I Could've Cried With Both my Eyes

Part 7 coming soon
candygramme: (avengers)
Beta: The incomparable [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone
Rated: This part is PG
Genre: Slash, J2
Author's Notes: This episode: Back to the present day, we look at the aftermath of the Grammy Awards Ceremony. Just what happened on the night that changed everything for the boys?

Chasing Dreams for Everyone But Me )


Master Post | Part 4 coming soon

candygramme: (Both Jensen greets Jared)
Fic title: Out in the Faraway
Author name: [livejournal.com profile] candygramme
Artist name: [livejournal.com profile] angelicfoodcake
Genre: RPS
Pairing: J2
Rating: R
Word count: 22,381
Beta: [livejournal.com profile] spoonlessone
Warnings: Character death (not the J's), gore, crack.
Summary: This is a sequel to Murder By Space. Jensen is a private eye who makes his living on the rich and famous who live on the space resort known as Bel Aire in the Air. He's good at his job, because he's psychic. He's still not sure how he managed to hook up with gorgeous senso star Jared Padalecki, but somehow he managed it, and Jared promised Jensen that he would take him to Earth so he could swim in the ocean, but Jensen's most pressing need is to foil an insidious attack on Earth. Maybe, with the help of his trusty sidekick, Chad, he'll manage to unscrew the inscrutable and SAVE THE EARTH!

I was lucky enough to have the very talented [livejournal.com profile] angelicfoodcake choose to illustrate my story, and I hope you'll all go take a look and shower her with richly deserved praise. Thanks also go to Wendy, who seems tireless in her efforts to organize the big bang every year, and who doesn't ever appear to be flustered. Bravo!


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Art | AO3

candygramme: (Both Jensen greets Jared)
I was dreaming again. Water lapped at my skin and swirled around me to spill over my tub and seep through the door in an endless, expensive torrent, and I saw solaros mounting as Astra Minor slowly filled with water. The water was reaching the top of the tub now, and I saw Danni, my lovely Danni, swim in through the door, plaspaper uniform stained with red, and her face tinged with blue. Her eyes stared at me, cold and lifeless, and yet her lips were moving.

"You're going down, down, down, down..." She reached for me, fingers tipped with razors.
I'm not ashamed to confess that I squealed like Chad that time Sophia stuck her stiletto heel through his instep, or at least I would have done if I hadn't been locked into my dream and moving at a quarter speed. The razors came closer to my face. She always knew how to make a statement, and I could tell she was going for my eyes...


"Hey, Sleeping Beauty, wake up. We're going down to Old Earth today." The hubbub of thoughts from the beehive of activity that was Astra Minor rushed into my head and almost drowned out the soft voice. I reached out, fumbling for my first shot of Old Beaver, hoping to shut out the cacophony before my brains began to leak out of my ears.

Warm hands were gripping my shoulders. I cringed back as the thought briefly surfaced that she'd missed my eyes and was trying for somewhere tender instead, and then I woke up to see this smiling, perfectly alive, gorgeous senso star. I wondered how the hell they'd managed to make the effects so realistic, because it felt exactly like he was there in my room with me.

I didn't know the script. I wasn't gonna be able to provide the right responses. I felt panic rising, and then a finger popped a pill into my mouth and followed it up by pressing a warm cup to my lips. I could smell the elixir of the gods right there under my nose and drank, washing the pill down with the most effective corpse reviver ever invented. I'm talking coffee, of course, and as the Antipathy began to take effect, and the noise of hundreds of minds began to fade, I realized just exactly where I was.

I'm not usually that slow on the uptake, but, gotta face it, it's not every day that you wake up to find that the hottest senso star in the solar system is ministering to your every hope, need and desire. I could feel my face splitting into the hugest smile it's ever attempted. I'm a cynical gumshoe, and don't do true love, because it just doesn't happen when you're working for the gentry, but this morning, in my humble abode on Astra Minor, I swear that there were little cherubs zooming around my head like wasps around a rotten apple. There was even a heavenly choir crooning love songs somewhere in my fresher unit as I looked at him. I resolved to call the exterminator after breakfast. I'm a hard bitten detective type, and it doesn't look well on my resume to have a chorus of cupids squawking when I'm on a stake out.

Everyone knows Jared Padalecki. He's the face on the billboards, star of my favorite dramas, winner of the Golden Dong for "Last Exit to Marsport," and currently wowing audiences in "The Galactic Superhero." Although at that moment it seemed that he was currently wowing me by refilling my coffee mug and then clambering into my humble bunk to stretch out alongside me and snuggle up against me, while I tried to tell myself that this was real, and I wasn't still dreaming.

I didn't try very hard, because this was the kind of morning I could get used to very easily.

"Early riser, huh?" I said as he ran his hand down over my chest to tweak my nipple.

"You know it," he said, grinning. "Those worms don't catch themselves."

"You eat worms?" I couldn't resist a smirk and a theatrical shudder. That got me a beaming smile and a punch to the shoulder.

"I'm a growing boy. Got to get my protein where I can," he said, slipping his hand down under the bedclothes to find and fondle my dick.

"Well, if that's the kind of worm you like, I'm pretty sure that between the two of us we can find you some protein," I told him. "Although I've always thought it was rather a lot larger than a worm." Big Jake, my one-eyed snake was perfectly capable of standing up for himself, and in fact he was doing just that in response to Jared's explorations, rising to his full height and nuzzling up against his hand in a friendly fashion. I could tell that today was going to be a good day, and I think I may have said something to that effect, because he pushed me backwards and rolled to cover me, capturing my mouth with a ferocity that I thoroughly approved of. Whatever that was that he was pushing against my thigh, it sure as heck wasn't a worm.

One thing led to another, as they do, and it made for the best wake-up call I can remember since the day I first discovered what Big Jake was for. Jared kisses like he wants to melt into you, and it wasn't long before I found myself struggling to catch a breath through the relentless attack on all my pleasure points. It was even less time before he'd reduced me to a mindless, quivering wreck, begging for him to just put me out of my misery.

I'm justly proud of Big Jake, but I've gotta tell you that he pales to insignificance next to Jared's hunka-hunka-burnin' love. I sighed happily as he sank himself inside me, stretching me 'til I burned, letting me know that I'd be feeling this moment for the rest of the month.

"You got a permit for that weapon?" I croaked, biting his shoulder in a friendly fashion as he finally bottomed out.

"Yep." He nodded, smiling down at me as I wrapped my legs around his waist. "I'm the new 007, licensed to thrill."

"Oh, fuck! Cheesy," I grumbled, and he laughed, starting a rolling, hip-swiveling motion that made me want to cry out for my mother to come save me before my eyes rolled up in my head, it was that good.
I am reliably informed by Chad, who has no shame, (and apparently no self-esteem,) that there are romance sensos that focus on instant love. Love at first sight, he calls it. Of course, I've never fallen so low as to actually watch one of these atrocities, because I have never had the urge to explore my feminine side. It's not something that a big, butch, manly private dick does. Imagine my excitement and by that, I mean nausea - when I suddenly realized that this is exactly how it had happened with Jared and me. I looked up at him, taking in the glossy, sleep-tangled hair that was sliding like silk across his shoulders, the beads of sweat on his upper lip that were testament to the effort he was making, and the clever, fox-slanted eyes gazing into mine as he fucked me stupid. This was it. There were no little cherubs circling my head now, and the choir of angels had packed up their harps and pushed off to celebrate some other happy union, or maybe they were staying outside, hiding their eyes due to embarrassment, because we were fucking, but this was definitely it. I, Jensen Coldheart Ackles, scourge of evildoers everywhere, was in love.

I may have whimpered a little, because he smiled at me, bent to kiss me and did a little shimmy with his hips that made me finally hear that heavenly chorus again - or maybe it was just the blood rushing in my ears as I came.

He followed me down, long, hard body shuddering through his climax as he arched his spine and drove so deep inside me I imagined I'd have to wear a hat for the rest of my life to conceal the bump his dick had made, poking out of the top of my head.

"I... wow," I said. That was man-speak for 'I think I love you.'

"God, yeah," he replied, and kissed me. It was good to know he returned my feelings. "So we've got about forty minutes before we head over to Old Earth. Any last requests?"

I squeezed his ass in a friendly fashion and he snickered, dimples flashing as he gave me an old fashioned look. "Sorry, gorgeous," he said, confirming to me that he was a man of rare intelligence and judgment. "We don't have time right now, but once I get you down on Old Earth, I'm gonna blow your mind for you."

~*~

The transporter room still stank faintly of burned electrical wire, but the machinery was apparently functional once again, and the acrid smell was the only hint that three people had died in there just a handful of hours earlier. Christian greeted us with his usual grunt.

"Still your charming and happy self, I see?" I said to him as he yawned, giving me an unappetizing view of his gullet.

"Pleasantries cost extra," he said, smiling at Jared and pointedly turning away from me to grab the waybook. "Heading back to Bel Aire?"

"We're going downstairs," said Jared, folding his arms and looking every inch the senso idol he was. "Jensen and I..."

"...And Chad." The voice made us both jump, and as I swung around I saw Chad looking a little battered but nothing like the sorry excuse for a human he'd been the previous night. "Can't let you go without backup, boss. Besides, there are chicks down there that need to meet the majesty that is the Chadster."

I studied him. Jared was doubled up with laughter, and I could tell that he was going to accept Chad, kind of like an accessory - my purse or whatever. I couldn't help worrying about Chad though. Like I've already mentioned, Chad isn't too gifted with brains, and, although I wouldn't tell him this, just then I'd have sworn on the Bodhisattva that he was dumb as a bag of rocks. His fight the previous evening had taxed his body almost beyond repair. Quicken isn't like some pep pill or something; it accelerates the body's metabolism until it shakes itself apart, and he'd already been pretty beat up by the time he'd used it. True, he'd saved our lives, me and Jared, and Chris too, but at a terrible cost to himself. It seemed to me that he should stay up here on Minor and recuperate for a while.

He was watching me as closely as I was him, and before I could open my mouth to say a word, I felt his thoughts. Please, boss. You can't leave me behind. You need me. You know you do.

"You think I'm going to be in danger?" I asked him. I spoke aloud, wanting to involve Jared in the conversation if he felt that it would be useful to add his thoughts.

"I know you are." Chad looked defiant, and his eyes shone with sincerity out of his bruised face. "You've never been there. You have no idea what to expect, and while you're getting yourself oriented you'll be a sitting target."

"Let him come." That was Jared, and as we both stared at him, he nodded. "It won't hurt to have some backup. Old Man Cortese is a vicious old bastard, and if he's behind all this we're going to need all the help we can get."

Chad was nodding so hard I wondered if his head would roll off his shoulders. Idly I imagined bowling with it, fingers in his nostrils as I sent him down the lane at the pins. I shook myself. "Well, okay, but you need to rest until you get the residue of that dose of Quicken out of your system. You don't mess with that stuff." And listen to me. I sounded like someone's aged mother, and the idea of being Chad's aged mother didn't sit well with me at all. I've always thought that Chad didn't arrive into the world the way the rest of us did, like he was maybe drawn by some cartoonist, squinty eyes and gangly limbs all right there from the get-go. Fuck me! I was rambling. I didn't usually blather like this, and I wondered what was making me do it. It couldn't possibly be nerves, could it? Hard bitten detectives didn't have nerves. They had ice water in their veins. I assumed facial expression 14 - the one that told the world that I was in charge and everything was fine.

I looked over at Jared, who had turned to the transporter console and was now giving the destination co-ordinates to Chris. It occurred to me that I didn't actually know much about him. I'd known him for a little more than 24 hours, and I was probably being a fool to trust him, but when I looked over at him, clean limbed and lithe and strong, I could only think with my hormones. They were telling me to suck it up, because all of this beauty was mine, and I'd be insane to find any reason to let it go.

Even so, being the careful and meticulous gumshoe I was, I figured that I should let the Antipathy wear off a little, and then Jared and I would have a conversation. In the meantime, I'd be his eye-candy and enjoy the heck out of it.

The transporter processing was lengthy and tedious. I submitted to the shots that were required to keep me from catching all the diseases that I'd never been exposed to up here in the space station - everything from scrofula and swamp fever to death-watch beetle if the dire warnings on the accompanying documentation were to be believed. My left arm instantly swelled to the size of a pumpkin, and I shuddered to think what my right ass-cheek looked like. All I knew was that I had absolutely no desire to sit down any time soon.

Chad cried like a little baby when he got the one in his butt, and Jared, my sweet, tender lover, who had immunity to all the horrible microbes that were waiting to sink their fangs into us, laughed his ass off as he watched us suffer through the indignity of immunization. I made a mental note to get him back later - maybe bite his left ball off or something like that. I didn't want to ruin that beauty more than was absolutely necessary.

Finally we'd been shot full of helpful things, and it was time. The three of us made our way into the transporter room, where Chris was waiting to flip us down to the 'porter station in Nuevo Angeles.
The city of Nuevo Angeles had been built on the new west coast after the big quake had reshaped it. Everyone had bet on the San Andreas Fault to be the one that would drop Old Angeles into the ocean, but as it happened, when the quake finally hit and consigned much of California to the waves, it had been the Cascadia that had done the trick. Nuevo Angeles had been created slightly to the west of Las Vegas. The movie industry had relocated, what was left of it, and were now busily employed making action blockbusters featuring the quake and its aftermath, and frequently starring the heroic stance and noble features of my current object of desire. I'd first seen Jared in a senso about the quake, and been really impressed with his acting chops. I watch for the plot, of course, and not for his fine, fine form, and if there were pigs on Astra Minor I am sure one would be flying past me right now.

Jared held my hand. I did not hold Chad's hand.

The brief, sickening twist that signified our relocation made me gag - it always makes me gag when my molecules are dismantled and reassembled somewhere else. I have to feel myself all over to make sure I haven't come back with a final front ear or something even worse.

~*~

The first thing I checked when the world stabilized around me was that Jared's hand was still in mine. It was, and I squeezed it, warm, and vital and very much needed. I confess to getting the kind of little frisson that I hear is the trademark of a teenage girl, but I promise I won't tell if you won't. I could hear Chad behind me muttering something about needing a drink, and I have to admit that it sounded like a great idea to me. I suspect we were both getting withdrawal symptoms from Old Beaver.

The room where we'd materialized was huge, and there were a number of different 'porter portals ranged along the wall. Ours was labeled Astra Minor, and was nothing like as large as the ones with signage indicating London, Vatican and Beijing. I felt like a tourist at that moment, gaping at the busy terminal and milling, indolent crowd, jaw on my chest as if I was fresh from the country, which in a way I suppose I was.

What saved me was the fact that I turned to Jared and flung my arms out, not sure what I intended to do, jump into his arms and have my way with him or something, but as I moved, I heard the hiss and sizzle of an Energon Ray, and felt the heat of it scorch the back of my neck. A second later, Chad had leaped, flung Jared and I to the ground and was responding to the fire, his own gun in hand, from his prone position, while people screamed and scattered or dropped to the floor themselves as though they were used to such events.

Maybe they were.

"Got him." The shooter had been up on the second level, and Chad had skewered him neatly with his shot. As we watched, our assailant slowly folded over the railing around the mezzanine and then toppled forward to fall the 20 or so meters to the floor.

"Well, that makes him a little hard to question," muttered Jared as a MobiCop screeched to a halt beside the ex-assassin, and the metallic tones of its voice calling for police to attend the scene could be heard both live and over the speakers like an echo as people returned to doing whatever they'd been doing before the commotion. It felt as if this was something that they witnessed every day. Seconds later the cleaning squad rolled up and began to tidy away the corpse.

I shook my head, dumbfounded. I could tell it was going to be an interesting visit. "For me? You shouldn't have," I muttered, and heard Chad laugh a little hysterically. Okay. It wasn't that funny, but I bowed toward him anyway, and he smacked my shoulder in a most un-servant-ish manner.

"Maybe I should rethink this visit," I said to Jared as I clambered to my feet. "Bel Aire ain't so bad."

"You wanna go back up to Astra?" Jared fixed me with those amazing, soulful eyes of his, and I suddenly got the urge to beat my chest and run around in circles yelping. Just looking at him gave me a shot of testosterone that made me want to howl like a wolf to prove that I was man enough for him.

"Nope," I said through gritted teeth as I squared my shoulders in an attempt to seem brave and manly. Inside I was quaking like a bunny rabbit facing down a tractor-trailer. "Me big strong detective. Me protect you."

Yeah, I could see Chad rolling his eyes, but hey, he didn't have a sweetie like Jared, and I did. When you're the envy of the senso-going universe, you've gotta step up to the plate and fight for what's yours. Besides, I was here because I really wanted to find the scumbag that had sold my best friend down the river and turned her into a mindless killer.

So, okay, me big strong protective detective felt much better with Jared's arm around my shoulders and Chad bringing up the rear, squinty little eyes darting everywhere in his effort to make sure there were no other gunmen lurking in the huge terminal.

I breathed a silent sigh of relief when we left the vast hall and entered a passageway that indicated that it would lead to outside. The idea of outside was fascinating to me. I'd never experienced any kind of outside except for space, and I'd been fortunate enough to have remained behind walls, safe from that. I couldn't picture what the real outside might look like. Sure, I'd seen holos, but this was real. I felt my belly flip as if I had a fish in my undergarments, and my balls hightailed it up into the safety of my abdominal cavity. Not something I'd recommend if you're planning on a new experience.

Ackles, I thought to myself, You can do this. Jared thinks you're a big damned hero, so get out there and hope your balls will descend again before bedtime.

You keep telling yourself that, boss! Chad's response was a reminder that he was there, still able to get through Old Beaver, Antipathy and anything else I might take to shut him out, determined to protect me from any self esteem I might develop.

The corridor gave into a smaller atrium, which led in turn to a row of openings that were veiled behind sparkling energy screens. I could tell from the shimmer that they were designed to keep the atmosphere in. That thought made me shiver, because it meant that beyond those portals was the outside. I may have stiffened in apprehension, in fact I know I did, because Jared suddenly stopped and turned me towards him, causing Chad to crash into my back, which made me say a few words that I will deny to the end of time having ever heard before.

"Are you okay?" The plaintive eyes and furrowed forehead were back with a vengeance, and all I could do was gulp. The man could use that forlorn expression to devastating effect. I summoned up reassuring smile number 3 and gave him an unconvincing nod.

"Not to worry, Jaybear," said Chad, smirking. "He's wearing his big girl panties today." I made a mental note to cut Chad out of my will.

I may have growled a little, because the little weasel hastily stepped back out of my reach. "As I was saying, before somebody so rudely interrupted me, I'm fine. Just a little apprehensive about all this...this..." I gestured at the chaos surrounding us. People were waving, yelling, scurrying around without apparent purpose, and the vendors with booths around the edge were calling out their delicacies, while a saffron robed man with a shaven head shook a string of little bells and invited people to pray with him. I gaped. So many people. So much noise. Despite the Antipathy, I caught stray thoughts as people jostled and surged into my space, and I definitely heard Chad whimper, so I knew that the noise must be hellish. I stopped for a moment and turned to ask if he needed more Antipathy. He shook his head,

"Just need to get out of here." I could heartily concur with that. Nodding curtly, I resumed my progress towards those screens, determined to get this over with. I confess, I felt a little better when Jared took my hand again and squeezed it. I made a mental note that I would patent the feeling it gave me, just as soon as the technology became available. I'd make a million in no time if I could bottle it.

"Come on, guys," Jared said. I took a deep breath and composed myself, and then, together, the three of us headed for the screens.

The sensation of passing through that shimmering veil to the outside world was unsettling and strange. It felt almost like the shock of the transporter, neurons sparking, and a weird, hot/cold feeling that numbed and burned at the same time. It was a single second that seemed to last for a lifetime, and then we were through, and Jared was squeezing my hand again, warm and alive as he murmured, "Welcome to my home. Namaste!" He smiled, white teeth flashing against darkly tanned skin, and those pernicious dimples once again captured my attention.

I'd been gazing at him, all discombobulated, but the sound of a man calling out to Jared drew my attention away from him and over to the line of waiting vehicles. The man doing the yelling was solid and muscular, with a neat beard and an attitude, and it didn't surprise me in the slightest when Jared steered me towards him. The car was really nifty, and would probably have reached the moon if not Bel Aire itself. You'll forgive me if I wax eloquent about it, but I'd read about this pristine piece of machinery in Car and Driver. The guy who'd test driven it had just about had an orgasm when he delivered his report on it.

"Hey, Ty!" Jared reached for the newcomer and did a weird handshake thing, one of those exciting maneuvers designed to exclude the ones that don't belong. I didn't belong, so I shuffled away and let him do his thing, and my eyes were drawn to the edge of the sidewalk... and to the void below it.

It felt as if I was standing on the edge of the world. Cars and trucks zoomed hither and yon below me, a crazy dance of metal bullets, each heading to destinations only they knew. Above me was the same, and above that was a brassy, ochre sky so far over my head that I would never be able to touch it. There was a press of something invisible against my face that stirred my hair, plucked at my clothes and ruffled against my skin. It made me gasp.

All of a sudden it felt as if the flimsy piece of pavement on which I was standing would crumble beneath my feet. That empty sky was pressing down on me, and the chasm below yawned like a mouth, the jagged teeth of the buildings down below me waiting to chew me up. I dropped to my knees, feeling the emptiness above my head press down on me as I sweated, and I screamed.

I was immobile, lost, the weight of nothingness leaning on my back. All I could think about was the smooth slickness of the tapered walls of Bel Aire and the stillness of the atmosphere. Lying face down on the slick plasteel slabs of the sidewalk seemed like the safest way to go, so I huddled there and clung like a barnacle to the only solid thing I could feel.

"Jensen?" I could hear Jared calling me, but my panicked brain was totally unable to form the words of a response. I just clung to the ground and cowered, waiting for that wind to pluck me from my place and send me whirling away into nothingness like so much trash.

"Come on, baby. You're safe with me." Large, warm hands pulled me from the ground as I shivered and whimpered, and Jared gathered me into his arms, effortlessly. Chad and the man called Ty were already inside the car, and Jared stepped inside carrying me, placed me tenderly into a seat and fastened my safety belt before dropping into the seat beside me.

"Where to, boss?" Ty's voice sounded unconcerned, as if it was all in a day's work to see a fully grown man hurl himself flat to the ground and call upon the gods to save him. Maybe it was. I was new around here.

"We'll stop at the clinic. Jensen's never been off the station before, and he needs help to adjust. Chad, too, I'm guessing." He reached to pet my hair, and at that I was able to open my eyes to see that I was totally encased in metal with no aching void above me. That I could handle, and I felt my rigid limbs start to relax. I thanked my lucky stars that I had used the fresher before we left for Nuevo Angeles, which meant that my pants were dry. Eying Jared somewhat sheepishly, I cleared my throat. I could feel the heat of a blush turn my face crimson. I was going to speak, but he beat me to it.

"I'm so sorry. I forgot that might happen. We should've taken care of it back on Minor." He squeezed my hand and smiled his brilliantly dimpled smile as he spoke, and as usual it made my insides twirl themselves into a bow. I hadn't seen any harpers or little winged cherubs come through the 'porter with us, so I concluded that Ole Earth had heavenly choruses as well.

"Don't worry. We'll get you fixed up in no time," said Jared, patting me.

All I could do is nod and make a feeble attempt at confident smile number one. I suspect that it wasn't particularly effective. My mind began to work overtime trying to think of ways to 'fix' what had just happened to me. But with every fantastic idea that occurred to me I fretted a little more, and I was glad when Ty piloted us in through an open garage door and announced that we had arrived.

My legs were somewhat wobbly as I clambered out of the vehicle, and I am ashamed to say that Jared didn't give me any choice. He gathered me up in his arms again as if I were a maiden in distress, and strode out boldly towards the reception desk. He didn't pause on the way to beat his chest and roar or anything, but I got the general idea, and I decided that I could be Jane to his Tarzan if he really insisted, just for the way he smiled at me.

The receptionist was a bot. I could tell that she was a bot immediately, because she wasn't filing her nails, and when she looked up and smiled she didn't gasp at Jared and throw herself at him bodily. Of course, if she had, I could've defended him from my position against his chest, but it wasn't necessary.

"How may I be of service?" The bot had a low, musical voice, but you could tell it wasn't human. It was altogether too humble and conciliating to be a real person.

"Jared Padalecki is here with his associate from Astra Major. He needs normalization as soon as we can arrange it." I struggled to get back down onto my feet as I heard his words.

"Normalization? What the fuck?" That term sounded hideously final and rather unpleasant. I had a mental image of the kind of heavy machinery one really doesn't want close to one's brain. I'd been to the museum on Bel Aire and seen that old movie, Frankenstein, thank you very much, and there was no way anyone would fit me up with electrodes if I had any say in it. Needless to say, I declined with thanks, turned on my heel and made for the door and the outside, despite that terrifying space where the ceiling should have been. I almost made it before I felt something crash against my legs and circle them, bringing me to the ground like a pole-axed ox. I like to think that the dive I took was a little more graceful than your average oxen, but nevertheless, down I went.

I thought that it was a tangler field that had been fired at me, but in fact it turned out to be Chad, the little bastard. He'd thoughtfully dived and tackled me, presumably because he was eager to see what the inside of my skull looked like. I believe I was asking for divine retribution as I was led away by another bot, dressed to look like a GeePee in white coat over scrubs. The wheels gave him away, and as I was led to my doom, I could hear Jared speaking words that were possibly intended to be reassuring, but which in fact filled me with terror. "It'll be okay in just a minute, baby. You won't feel a thing."

As I was led through into the room where they kept the electrodes, I felt a hypospray against my neck, and knew nothing further until I heard Jared calling me from a long way away.

"Come on, sweetheart, wake up!"

I felt the press of his affection surround me like a warm fluffy blanket and mumbled a slur of affection that attempted to protest against being dragged out of the comfortable cloud that was enveloping me. "Don' wanna! G'way."

"Come on, baby." The persistent voice was making me grumpy. I rolled over to snuggle up against him and there was only the cold edge of whatever I was lying on, and that did it! I sat up, grumpy enough that I could've won an Old Beaver look-alike contest.

"I was..." My voice halted in mid grouch. I couldn't see Jared anywhere. All there was, was a perky bot, whose pneumatic figure ended at the waist and whose lower extremity was comprised of gears and relays. "What the ever-loving FUCK?" I was unimpressed, and wanted the degree of my ire to reach even Bel Aire in the vastness of space if someone didn't remedy that pretty damned fast.

"Your normalization is completed, Mr. Ackles. Thank you for visiting Speedy Cuts Surgical Creche. Please come again." The glowing eyes of the bot faded to a milky blue, indicating that it had turned itself off. Grumbling, I clambered off the bed I'd been infesting and surveyed myself in the mirror that had been conveniently placed beside the door. It's a good job I did, because GeePees and surgeons everywhere seem to enjoy exerting their dominance over their victims by dressing them in unsuitable garments that fasten down the back and which hide nothing at all. Mine was a tasteful lemon yellow color, and of course it hadn't been fastened down the back at all, so my ass was hanging out for all to see. I felt like the young man from Australia in the well known limerick. Not only was my ass on view, but the damned shirt thing was at least 4 inches too short, if you get what I mean. Wildly, I looked around for my clothes, and found them hanging on a hook beside the bed. Breathing a sigh of relief, I struggled into them as fast as I could and consigned the ignominious garment to the nether reaches of hell, or the floor, whichever was closest.

Then, metaphorically twirling my moustache - I made a mental note to grow one, preferably a twirlable one, as soon as possible - I sallied forth to seek out a human I could brutalize until he or she told me exactly what getting normalized meant, and why they had felt I needed it.

What I found outside the door was Chad and Jared, both engrossed in watching something I thought was a movie about giant robots, but which turned out to be the news.

"So," I said loudly, and assumed my sternest, most imposing facial expression - one I had never even imagined, prior to that moment, and for which I would need to develop an entire new category - and Jared jumped to his feet, dimples deep on either side of his brilliant smile. Not quite the response I had expected, but as I said, the expression was new. I would work on striking fear with it at a later date. "Just what the hell is normalization anyway?" I managed to get out as he enveloped me in arms that appeared to be 8 feet long and wound around me twice. It occurred to me that Jared might in fact have octopus in his genetic makeup.

"Nothing, really. They just adjusted your spatial perception so that you don't keel over from sheer panic every time we go outside. I'd forgotten that some people are spooked by the sky, but it stands to reason when you've never actually been outside. I also got them to fit you with a brainwave regulator. It's controls are here, and if you don't feel like intercepting all the thoughts out there and you run out of Antipathy, just plug it in - the interface is right here." He fumbled behind my ear as he was speaking, and as I reached up to see what he was talking about, I could feel a small port there. "I thought it might be helpful for when you really want a good night's sleep." He handed me a tiny chip in an envelope. "You put that into the port and it'll block everything when you have it set on full. Shaking your head will bring up the interface if you want to set it so that close thoughts can get in and so on."

I was no longer furious; I was confused and back to being grumpy. All this was awesome, but he hadn't asked my permission, and that rankled. I gave him scowl #2 - the one that screams, 'you're an ass, and I will kick your shins unless you apologise.' Maybe he caught my thought, because he did in fact apologise to me, in fact he did it so thoroughly that Chad started making really weird sounds. I didn't bother to ask him what he was dying of, because Jared was kissing me very enthusiastically. I merely made a note to slap him around the back of his fuzzy head at a later date.

"The Speedy Cuts Surgical Creche offers a significant discount to clients who participate on our senso show." The bot behind the desk suddenly spoke, causing me to jump, and Jared to lose his place. I turned to the thing that had chosen to interrupt my just reward for putting up with all these shenanigans and snarled.

"What?"

"Have you ever wished to look younger? Perkier?" it continued. "Our show next week features a buttock lift. If you would like the procedure and sign a waiver, we will deduct the privacy fee from your surgery and save you half of the cost."

"The only person who's going to be lifting his buttocks is me," growled Jared, and with a gesture of his head to Chad, he took my hand and headed to the door.

The door was only half open when I felt the wash of hatred from just beyond the entrance and screamed, "Down!" All three of us hurled ourselves to the ground as a gleaming silver projectile shot through the door and embedded itself in the bot behind the counter, which disintegrated with an alarming lack of sound.

The world - or what I could see of it - had turned hazy, like one of the old fashioned sepia prints you get in 'tasteful' porn cubies - you know the ones, girls with bobbed hair, small tits and juicy thighs draped on the lacy 19th century furniture looking coy as they show the camera what they've got. Me? I'd rather have hard muscle, but there's enough of everything out there for everyone, no matter what your tastes.

Chad interrupted my mildly stunned reverie as he rolled to the place where the door had been and stood waiting for something. I kept my head down and wondered if Speedy Cuts had a back door. I was beginning to think that this trip to Earth wasn't going to be the awesome vacation Jared had described. So far I'd been down here for about 4 hours, and I'd been attacked twice and had surgery performed on me without my consent. What was next? Seriously, if it didn't involve soft sheets and hot sex, I was gonna ask for my money back.

Chad had been standing like a statue, lost in some freaky meditative state that only human weapons know about, but now he moved, a blur of graceful fury, and there was a cut off yell, followed by a thump as the target of his actions ate carpet. Chad followed him down, and before I could scramble over to him, his opponent was cuffed and writhing, while Chad had resumed his former position beside the door.

We waited, wondering if there would be a rear guard, but Jared, who had squirmed himself over to peer through the gaping hole suddenly called out that it was all clear. Even so, I waited for Chad to stand down. I don't keep him around because he's a pretty face. He's never going to win any beauty contests, but I'd rather have him next to me than a squad of Nuevo Spetsnaz ruffians. People don't notice him until it's too late.

"Hey, Boss? Did you see how I did that?" Yeah, he likes to gloat, but I have to hand it to him; he's good at what he does.

"Yeah, Chad. You got us some answers, I hope." I gave him a thumbs up. "S'why I never leave home without you."

Jared had been studying Chad's prisoner, who was currently sleeping the sleep of the recently asphyxiated. As I watched, he poked inside the dude's mouth and fumbled for a moment before pulling out what looked like one of the guy's teeth. "You fixing to make a necklace or something?" I asked him.

"Just getting rid of his suicide pill," announced Jared, tossing the tooth onto the floor. We all jumped as if we'd had 10,000 volts jammed up our asses when the damned thing exploded, leaving a crater in the expensive hardwood and a humongous hole, through which I could see a storage room lined with what looked like cookware.

"What the ever-loving hell! That's not what I was expecting." Jared's face had paled under his tan. "Just who the fuck is after us and why? Can you get busy and detect something for me, Jen? I'm starting to think my days are numbered."

I snorted. "Not just yours," I told him. "Do you think we could go somewhere relatively safe, where we can ask sleeping beauty here one or two questions? If you ask, I'll read his thoughts, and we'll see what we get. No point in even trying right now, because he's dreaming about a really big steak."

"You got it, love of my life," Jared said, smirking, and with that he turned and jumped down through the new air vent that the exploding tooth had created, landing in amongst the kitchen equipment previously noted.

I got with the program, and between us, Chad and I got our still unconscious captive over to the hole in the floor so we could lower him down to Jared, and then I followed, smirking a little as he caught me and bestowed a kiss on me before letting me go. Chad followed, without any kissing, and we took up our burden, and then looked around for a way out.

To cut a long story short, we found our way through a maze of corridors to a hallway where Jared had agreed to meet Ty after I'd had my surgery. He was sitting at a bistro style table, drinking something pink and frothy, and swiftly knocked it back when he saw us approach.

"Who's the luggage?" he asked, jerking a careless thumb at our captive.

"Not sure yet, but I'm gonna enjoy finding out," said Jared with a grin as he made for our flivver. "Can you get us home under a shield?"

Ty didn't ask any further questions, just nodded and got busy with the task of transporting us to Jared's fortress of solitude or equivalent. The place was under a dome, and inside the dome was a sprawling building the like of which I have never even imagined. There was no attempt to conserve space, and there were rooms going off in all directions. There was even a hexagonal one at the end of a corridor that ran alongside a rectangular body of water. When Jared told me it was a 'swimming pool' I raised my eyebrows. I knew about swimming, of course. I've seen the fish in the galleria on Bel Aire, and I saw that senso Jared was in a couple of years back where he was seeking the pirate's treasure and had to dive for it, but somehow I couldn't imagine that any one human being could afford to own that much water at a single time. If this was really all Jared's, I was playing way out of my league. I was very thoughtful as we climbed down from the flivver and made our way towards the house.

It was really all Jared's, right down to the weird, lumpy, hairy animal that was roaming the green herbage beside where we were walking.

I'd often joked about finding a sugar daddy to feed my expensive habits, but never in my wildest, rotgut fueled dreams had I imagined the wealth I was gazing at through my cynical eyeballs. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!

We landed, and nobody shot at us. I didn't notice right away because I was too busy being terrified by the sheer size and grandeur of the space Jared apparently inhabited. "Is this all yours?" I asked him, gesturing vaguely at the big pool of water and what looked like a tree, but which must have been at least thirty meters tall and which was somehow anchored in the floor beneath us. How on earth did this kind of thing occur? I resolved to read up. I'd seen a tree before; I wasn't an idiot for heaven's sake, but this was the kind of tree that just couldn't exist on Astra.

I had to get used to thinking that I wasn't on Astra any more. I was on an alien planet. Jared was an alien. Jared, my beautiful Jared was an alien...

Fortunately, before I could develop that theme any further, someone shot at us! I bit the dust, somewhat under duress, when I was dogpiled by not only Chad - I was used to Chad bowling me over at the drop of a hat by this time - but also Jared and Ty, who had been making for the house with the rest of us.

It's really difficult to express one's true feelings when one is at the bottom of a heap of blubber, wondering what the hell. I settled for saying a few of the words that Sister Mary Aloysius in the creche had severely punished me for, back before I grew bigger than she was. I heaved to roll out from under the melee, and met with resistance. The sizzle of laser fire continued, and then, ominously, I finally heard a soft cry, and everything went silent.

When they finally let me up, Chad was bending over Ty, who was pale and sporting a huge hole in his shoulder, trying to staunch the blood from his wound with what looked like a handful of leaves. I tore off my jacket, which was made from actual wadded cotton, and which had cost me three month's wages, and threw it to him. Jared, who didn't seem to be hurt, was talking into his watch, demanding medical attention, stat. I had to agree.

As I looked around me, I could see that there was a fallen figure close to the aforementioned animal. I made an executive decision, assumed 'Competent Expression Number 13" the one I'd used successfully on the waste disposable officer who had been trying to bully me into paying a higher rate for trash removal at the office. Ah, the office. How I missed it. Hardly anyone ever shot at me there. I really needed to count my blessings.

The body twitched as I approached it, and I stopped short and unholstered my needle gun. It was loaded with enough sleepy time to knock Chad out cold, so I suspected that this whatever it was would be no problem for it.

I pointed my gun and said in what I hoped was the matching voice for Expression 13, ”Don't move, or you're a dead duck!"

She - it was a she - lifted her head and gazed at me with big, soulful brown eyes that I'd seen before. "What are you doing here on my property?" she asked, and I blinked. This was so not what I'd expected to find.


Master Post | Part 2 | Part 3 | Art | AO3 on its way

candygramme: (Both Jensen greets Jared)
"Uh... Jared?" I called.

"Just a second, Jen."

"I... Kinda need a second opinion here in a hurry," I croaked.

To give him his due, Jared was really fast to detect the note of incipient hysteria in my voice and was with me before I started shrieking and drumming my heels on the ground. Don't anyone tell me I don't know how to pick 'em!

"'Sup?" he asked, throwing a long, muscular arm around my shoulder. I didn't answer, I merely pointed with my non-gun hand.

"Who... who..."

"You sound like an owl, baby," said Jared, laughing in what I felt was a somewhat inappropriate manner, given that I was currently holding a gun on his dead ex-wife, who was watching us with the kind of expression that makes you want to check your gonads.

"Who is that?" I finally managed to get out.

"Oh, hi, sweetie." Jared gave her the kind of smile that would set my underwear on fire if it was directed at me. "Sorry I didn't call; I thought you were dead."

~*~

"Why on earth would you think that?" She spoke with a soft contralto, just the way I'd heard it on Astra, moments before she'd been poisoned. I frowned, decided to risk it while her attention was on Jared, reached out with my mind and focused... And recoiled swiftly, glad that the Antipathy I'd taken would shield me from that strange, malevolent mind, because I didn't know what on earth this creature was, but one thing was definite. She was not Genevieve Padalecki. Whatever she was, I'd never met before.

She - it - wasn't human, and I would bet my last bottle of Old Beaver that she wasn't even Xenobian either. Whatever she was, was utterly alien and full of hate for not only yours truly but for all things Earthly. I shut down my shields and prayed that she hadn't noticed my intrusion.

Tuning back into the conversation just in time, I realized that Jared was formally introducing me to her and telling her that we'd be staying for a few days. I gave her my sunniest smile - #21 - the one that had most people believing that I'm feeble minded. Her lip curled as she turned to greet me, eyes mocking and haughty. "Welcome to our humble home," she murmured, then rose to her feet and turned to go back into the house without so much as a glance towards Ty, who was even now being helped onto a stretcher by a guy wearing - I kid you not - a blue spandex suit with a white tabard patterned with red crosses over top. I wasn't sure where he'd come from, but he certainly seemed to know how to fix Ty. I didn't know quite what to boggle at first and finally resolved to let the flow take me and ride it 'til the end of the line. Yeah, I know that's a mixed metaphor, but it does the job.

Chad was apparently taking it all in his stride. He called out a "See ya later," to Ty as the stretcher he was lying on activated, rising on a cushion of air and following Mr. Spandex like a well behaved puppy as he made for the house.

I decided that it was now or never and turned to Jared. "Dude, can we be overheard here?"

The nod he gave me was almost imperceptible, even as he grinned and clapped me on the shoulder. "Welcome, baby. You must be hungry after all that diving for cover."

"Come to think of it, now that you say that, I could likely eat a little something." I decided to wait until we could talk freely, but I still wanted to know what was going on. "Why was your wife shooting at us?" I asked, finally.

"She said she thought we were from the Chau gang. They're rivals to the Corteses. She said that they'd been trying to break the screen, and she thought that they'd finally succeeded." Yeah. I could buy that, although that didn't account for the general 'curl up and die-ness' of her attitude to me. Still, I would ponder and wait until we were in a position to discuss things in private.

Chad hadn't read my memo. "That ain't Mrs. Padalecki," he blurted.

"Don't be silly, Chad. Of course it's Mrs. Padalecki." Sometimes it would be nice if Chad would just keep his observations to himself. I half expected the lasers to start again, but all remained quiet. Maybe she hadn't heard Chad. I really hoped that she hadn't.

Jared cut short the bullshit and slung his arm around each of our shoulders, big, sexy hand playing hell with the lie of my shirt. I didn't care, I could feel the heat of that hand soaking through to my shoulder and it made me chub up a little. Who even knew I had a libido? It was a new - but not unwelcome - concept for me. I've always thought of myself as a hardboiled private dick. It was tough to come to terms with the fact that my dick was no longer quite so private.

"Come on in, guys. Let me get you settled." He squeezed my shoulder in a meaningful way, and guided us both to another door around the side of the house. This turned out to be Jared's own quarters, separate from the main house, and as he closed the door behind us he breathed a sigh of relief. I raised one eyebrow at him in inquiry, and he spread his hands in a WTF gesture that made me smile a little.
Are we safe to talk? I sent to him, hoping that he'd pick up the thought.

I hope so. Give me a minute or two. He took a small gadget from one of the drawers in the hallstand and began to scan the area. As he worked, there were a couple of little pops as if something, somewhere, had burst, and the light fixture above the stairway gave off a small puff of smoke. After a few minutes he replaced his gadget and grinned. "Now it is," he said to me.

"That wasn't your wife," I said. "I don't know what the hell it was, but it wasn't human, and it didn't like me, or anyone else on this god-forsaken ball of dirt."

"I don't understand." Jared looked confused, and I blinked for a moment, temporarily bereft of words. Jared had been there, seen Genevieve die and then fled with me to avoid a similar fate. I gave him my own WTF gesture.

"Jay, she died up on Bel Aire. Don't you remember?" I could feel my face making most unattractive frown lines and shook my head. Age comes to us all, but there's no need to help it along. Perhaps it was time for some rejuve. I wanted to look good for my big strong movie star... my big strong, deluded, weirdly forgetful movie star.

I closed my eyes and probed. Antipathy was a wonderful drug 99% of the time, but this moment was the 1% where I wished that I hadn't taken it quite so recently. I think that more than just the frown lines were showing on my homely mug as I strained to see inside his beautiful skull. I may have fallen, because I could feel his arms around me, lowering me to the ground, but I didn't have time to soothe his concerns. I pushed, diving into his subconscious mind deeper than I - or anyone, I hoped - had ever gone. He couldn't fight back, because he was completely unaware of my presence. I resisted the urge to see his opinions of me and delved deeper, looking past the superficial to that place where someone - or something - had been tampering.

There were things I saw that sobered me. Jared hadn't always been the strong, gorgeous man I knew, and he had demons that I hoped he would one day vanquish. They fascinated me, and I began to look for their source, and that's when I found it. Down deep where I guess the average Mentalo-tech wouldn't look, there was a distortion, and when I probed it, it was as if I'd touched a live wire. I could feel my body convulse, and it took all my will power to hang in, knowing that I was too far into Jared's mind to be able to pull out without tearing him apart.

I hung on, but it was agony. I could feel spasms contracting my muscles, and clenching them hard enough to rip. If felt as if there were knives separating me limb from limb, and fire licking along the skin of my back, while some out of place sense of love kept me still within Jared's subconscious brain. I could hear a vague keening somewhere outside of me, recognized my own distress and mentally gritted my teeth. I would not destroy Jared to please some alien marauder with delusions of grandeur, so I hung on and let the pain of it buffet me while I clung. It gave me a brand new way of interpreting static cling, I can tell you.

Time passed. I thought I'd been flayed by now, skin in tatters and flesh pared from my bones, but oddly enough I found that after a while I could once more think of something more constructive than the need to run. I could see a way in behind the sensory screen that had been formed into a capsule around the compulsion that had been laid on Jared, and slowly, methodically, I wormed my way in past the barrier to begin demolishing it from within.

Once I was through, it popped like a soap bubble at the very first strike I made, and the compulsion itself was exposed to me. I hurt - words can't begin to describe the kind of pain I was in, but compared to what had gone before it, I felt positively sprightly. I guessed if the damage I'd sustained was half as bad as I feared it might be, I would henceforth probably send women and children screaming at the sight of me. Oh, well, I reasoned. Beauty is only skin-deep. I was really only losing the superficial. And probably Jared too, once he gets a look at you, growled something inside of me that I flatly refused to talk to. Sometimes you just don't want to hear things, even if they're things you're telling yourself.

I could feel blood, knew it was mine, and knew that I'd better hurry if I wanted to unscrew the inscrutable that had infested Jared's deepest mind. I started to take that compulsion apart and saw... well, I saw a lot of things, but the thing that really got to me was the instruction I saw that gave him the order to kill Genevieve.

It had been Jared who'd killed her and Julie too. Of course he hadn't known, and if I had any say in the matter, he never would. I saw what he'd done and wondered if he'd picked me up because somehow he knew I'd be able to help him break out of this compulsion. I could see the instructions he'd been given, including the one to suicide after killing Genevieve's father. I destroyed that one first.

Probing just a tad deeper unlocked the memory of the day Jared had been set up to do these heinous things, and the face I saw as I watched the incredibly detailed way he constructed the programming, was Matt, the being - I won't say man - who had orchestrated it.

I'm 36 years old, and I've always been a carefree, devil-may-care son of a gun, but I think that at that moment I finally grew up.

I erased that fucker's handiwork, ironed out every last wrinkle that the bastard had put in, wormed my way out of Jared's brain as carefully and delicately as I could and then, thankfully, folded into the darkness that they tell you dwells between this world and the next.

~o~

"Boss? Hey, boss..."

Chad's unmelodious voice scraped through my head like a razor blade, and I sluggishly fumbled for my forehead to check that the thing was still attached to the rest of me. I squinted at him, desperately willing him to shut up, go away and let me die in peace, and he squinted right back at me. Damn if he didn't beat me at squinting, the little fucker. Hands down. I gave him best.

As I squinted, the world slowly faded its way back into existence, and I found myself in what I deduced must be Jared's room, since it was littered with clothing that appeared to have erupted out of his luggage in true volcano fashion.

"Boss." Chad wasn't giving up despite my heartfelt wishes, and I trained my fuzzy vision in the direction from which the voice seemed to emanate. The man himself was still doing the squinting thing, but he was also holding out a huge mug from which the fragrant aroma of really good coffee was curling around me. I reached out a shaky hand in supplication, and he passed it over with a cocky smirk. "You love me, don't you?"

"I cannot deny it," I murmured, wincing as my own voice took the skin off the inside of my brain. "You're like that faithful old pooch that makes messes all over, but you still have to keep 'em around for old time's sake."

He made as if to take that precious, life-restoring brew away from me, but I sobbed a little, and he relented, which was a good thing, because I don't cry pretty; I'm just saying. I sipped at it, and the joy of life began to resurface in my ancient bones. As my head cleared, I suddenly had a thought.

"Jared?" I croaked. I freely admit that I was scared that he'd go to find the thing that was masquerading as Genevieve, and I'd have to go back in and undo the conditioning all over again. I am not sure that I had another bout like that in me. Maybe after a week or so I'd be able to handle it, but right now I felt as if they'd used mental floss with barbs. They'd extracted my brain out my ears and replaced it with a gallon of duck soup. I was going to be very slow processing stuff for the next day or so.

"He's in the shower, boss. He came around a lot faster than you did, but he seemed pretty shaken by something. What happened?" Chad scrunched his face up in a fashion that I'm sure he thought made him irresistible, but in fact made him look like a particularly furtive grobble, only without the impressive array of teeth. I sighed.

"There was a whole set of compulsions in his brain. I had to dig really deep to get them all out, and I was worried that I'd broken something for him." I frowned. "I've never seen such elaborate programming before. We need to find out who did it and take them down, Chad. I'm not kidding."

"Just point me at 'em, boss, and I'll fix their little red runabout for them. Say the word." Chad nodded. Everything was simple for Chad. He lived by the mantra of fight or fuck, and apart from that his only real talent was making coffee exactly when it was most needed. His fighting skills were much prized - by me at any rate - and as long as he never tried to actually fuck me, all was fantastic. It was the coffee thing that kept me from kicking him into touch though, I do confess. Somehow, he just knows exactly when to bring it, and that is a prize worth more than diamonds.

"You got it, Chad," I said, knocking back the rest of my corpse reviver and holding out the mug for another. "As soon as we know who to smite, I'll let you at him for some prime clobbering time, I promise."

Chad beamed and would have said more, I'm sure, but at that moment, Jared strolled out of the fresher, clad in a little towel that draped beautifully around his hips, and so low was it hanging that it threatened to descend and leave him exposing to Chad exactly what it was about him that I loved best.

Looking around to see what had attracted my attention, Chad gave a low cry and averted his gaze, muttering something about refills as he took himself off. Jared, on the other hand, sauntered over to sit beside me on the bed, towel still in place.

"I love how he does that," he grinned. "Don't tell him, but there's a magnoseal holding it up. There's no way his dignity would suffer."

Laughing, I tried sending a feeler into his mind, but he'd apparently freshly dosed himself with antipathy, and I couldn't find a way in. For a moment, I panicked, but then I reached out to Chad, who was coming back laden with a tray, and I had no problems seeing into his thoughts, although I did feel somewhat uneasy about his current musings. He was mulling over what on earth the thing masquerading as Genevieve Padalecki could be, and, if I could read him, so could the thing. I swallowed and turned to Jared.

"Is there anything that will mask thoughts completely?" I asked him. "We need to either make Chad's thoughts opaque to everyone or wipe his mind. He's going to get us all into deep doodoo."

Jared thought for a moment. "Antipathy might work for him," he mused. "Or there's a surgical implant we could get for him, at least until we get to the bottom of all this."

"Let's do it," I said. "How soon can we get it done?"

Jared didn't answer, he merely reached to thumb the comm unit on the table next to the bed, and called for the pharmacy. "I need a couple of beta-suppressors and a competent technician. Double pay if you can get them here in the next 20 minutes." There was some chatter I didn't bother to follow, and then Jared gave his address, said, "Out," and turned back to me. "Think you'd best tell Chad he's about to have surgery?"

"Hell, no. It'll ruin the surprise, and anyway, neither of you guys told me when you put me into that place for the 'Normalization' or whatever it was."

Laughing, Jared placed a kiss on the tip of my nose. "Well, don't blame me if he goes all Tae Kwon Do on your ass."

"Hey! You love my ass," I grumbled.

"Yeah, that's true, but Chad doesn't."

"Chad doesn't what?" The man himself arrived, bearing two large mugs of the deliciousness I craved.

"Doesn't love my ass," I said.

"You got that right," he announced. "I'm not an ass man. I like..." he made a crude gesture that mimicked the kind of bosom that would require a cantilevered brassiere if it actually existed.

"I know exactly what kind of man you are," I told him. "And in the current situation, that's a problem. Dude, we're going to have to fit you with a thought suppressor for the next little while, if that's okay. Don't want fake Mrs. Padalecki to invade your thoughts, do we?"

He shuddered. "No, I certainly do not."

"So there's a technician coming in around about ten minutes to set you up with the suppressor. That just means your thoughts will be opaque until we take it off again." Jared took his coffee with thanks, and we all sat down to drink it. I felt almost human again after a few more sips, and I lay back on the pillows to await Chad's realization that this device would be inserted into his head.

I was pleasantly surprised when the technician turned out to be a hot redhead called Alaina, and Chad was positively overjoyed. He didn't twitch a muscle when she poked the applicator into his ear and shot his new little suppressor into his auditory canal. He really only registered anything when she politely refused a date with him and removed his hand from somewhere dangerously close to her right breast.
He remained starry eyed even after she'd departed, taking her right breast with her, much to Chad's disappointment. All I could get out of him for hours afterwards were sighs, until even I, with my super-human tolerance began to want to slap him upside the head. Of course, the knowledge that I wouldn't be able to land that slap before he had me in some god-awful wrestling hold was also a factor in my forbearance. There's absolutely no point in reaching for the unattainable, so I permitted him to lament his lost love without more than a few curt words.

The insertion of the suppressor certainly did its work, and it didn't take me long to realize just how inconvenient it would be. Chad usually responded to my thoughts, but that little gadget worked both ways, and not only could I not hear him, he couldn't hear me either. We were going to have to work on communication. Damn!

I turned to Jared. "So now that Chad's not as likely to give us away, what do you suppose our next move should be?"

"Good question," he told me, petting me absently as he thought. "I want to know who's behind this and what the aim is. She doesn't seem to have all the usual hangers-on around her, just a couple of Xenobian girls, and a guy."

"Interesting." I scratched my head and pondered. "So who all is usually hanging around with her, but missing in action right now? Maybe we should start there."

"Well, there's her father and brother. It's not like them to both be away from her at the same time." Jared frowned. "In fact now I think about it, it's really peculiar that there isn't at least one of them here, protecting the honor of the Cortese clan. Maybe we should go and see old man Cortese."

"Works for me," I said. "Beats sitting around here like bumps on a log, waiting for whatever that is pretending to be your wife to come and get us. We need to know what we're dealing with before we make any rash moves."

"Well, I guess I'll call the garage to get my long distance flier ready then. We need to go to the Vatican, because that's where he'll most likely be." My eyes opened wide at that. In fact I was convinced that they would fall out of my head I boggled so hard, and I reached for a spoon in case I needed to scoop them back inside.

"The Vatican, you say?"

"Yup." Jared smirked. "Didn't you know? Gen's father is the Pope."

I confess, I didn't have a facial expression I could use for that one, so I went with whatever nature decided to hand me. I suspect I looked like some kind of freak as my jaw hit my chest and my eyeballs stood out on stalks. "Fuck off!" I said.

"No, seriously," nodded Jared. "He's the Pope. He has been for the past 14 turns."

"That complicates things, doesn't it? Ty's got a hole in him that will probably interfere with him using the parking brake, and the Vatican has been closed to the public ever since they caught the Slavik Orthodox people smuggling out the illuminated texts about St Michael." I gave a heavy sigh that put Chad to shame. "How the hell are we supposed to overcome those odds?"

"Hey! Son-in-law here, don't forget." Jared threw out his chest and smote it a couple of times in a heroic but gorilla-like fashion. "Also, I can pilot a flier when needed. Just because I don't do it all the time doesn't mean I can't." He flashed me a grin. "Me big senso star." He saw me roll my eyes and put his arm around me, tugging me in close. "Seriously, I have to do all sorts of things when I'm recording sensos. I can even ride one of those weird velocipede things with the two wheels and the pedals."

I frowned again. I made a note to myself to stop all the frowning before I got unattractive lines between my eyebrows. I had no idea what these velocipede things were, but they sounded unnecessarily complicated to me.

Chad, however, was all wide eyed admiration. "A bike? You can ride one of those things? Dude!" That 'dude' carried with it such stunned admiration I was tempted to snarl at him. Jared was mine. If he needed fannish adulation, I would be the one to give it, thank you very much. Still, if Chad was impressed, then riding one of those things must be a fairly skilled task.

"Yeah. That's what they called it. A bikelicle or something like that. It was actually quite easy once I got the hang of it." Jared gave me his dimples, and I beamed at him just because they were aimed at me and not The Chad.

"So you're gonna be our pilot for the day?" I asked. "You're certainly turning out to be a man of many talents. How are we going to work this?" I remembered him telling me that old man Cortese was a piece of work, and wondered if that had been part of the compulsion he'd been under. Frowning, I awaited enlightenment. It wasn't slow to arrive.

"Simple." Jared reached for the comm unit and told it to call Papa, and there was the brief sound of relays falling into place, and then a voice which was deep and melodious cried, "Jared? Figlio mio! Where have you been?"

"I spent a little time up on Bel Aire in the Air." Jared was smiling as he spoke, and I could sense a real affection as he started to tell Don Padalecki about a whole shitload of things he'd gone up to Bel Aire for. His thoughts were still opaque to me, but I could see the sweet, lazy tilt of his lips and the eagerness of his need to respond as the Pope - The Fucking Pope - chatted. Finally he cut to the chase, and "Papa, I need to talk to you. Can I come see you?"

"You know my door is always open to you," I was starting to like the man. He obviously had affection for Jared, and, you know what? I suddenly didn't mind that I was probably about to be in the middle of the mafia, with the head of pretty much everything on earth, courtesy of my lover, even though Don Cortese had no reason to love the guy who stole his daughter's husband from her. God - if I could even think that, given that this guy was the Pope! - My life was totally fucked up!

I didn't speak as the three of us trooped back to Jared's runabout. Genevieve - I guess it was just as easy to call it Genevieve - came out to find out where we were going, and Jay, bless him, told her that her dad had summoned him. I could tell that she was perfectly happy about that, and that came as no surprise to me as I recalled the instruction Jared had been given to kill him. She probably thought it was her birthday or something, and that her wildest dreams were about to be fulfilled. She smiled, and he kissed her cheek just as if she wasn't some kind of slimy serpent in human guise. Then we boarded the flyer, and I at least felt a huge sense of relief, even though I suspected I was heading towards certain death from evil Sicilian torturers.

Some things are the lesser of two evils. What can I say? I'll go with the evil I know every time.

~*~

The Vatican was almost too much for me to process. Some guy called Mike had been busy, and pretty much everywhere indoors had been painted with naked men. According to Mike, anyone related to God didn't enjoy clothes, and I wondered if I'd be better received if I took mine off. Jared said no, but somewhere deep in my heart I thought he might be wrong. I stripped off my jacket and overshirt anyway, because my T-shirt fit me pretty snugly, and I figured that if this Mike person decided he'd like to paint me, he should get an idea of the merchandise, since it was apparent that he liked a 6 pack or so. If needed, I'd flash him mine and watch him drool.

So anyway, we were greeted by a bunch of legates, or something. They all wore colorful tabard things and carried pikes, which are sticks with pointy shit on the top, and aren't even a proper spear, since Chad told me - under his breath - that the aerodynamics were all wrong.

Whatever. They escorted us without comment to a huge room that looked as if it had been invented by the Ancient History Channel. I found myself unable to find words to break the hushed awe of the huge space in which I found myself. I could tell without reading his mind that Chad was overawed, and it occurred to me that if a bunch of naked artwork can successfully shut someone like Chad up, I was going to get a whole bunch of naked artwork with hot six packs and keep them in my living quarters!

I wasn't prepared for Papa.

My first glimpse of Papa was confusing to say the least. When the door opened, and we were ushered into his presence, Papa was wearing a dress - although Jared told me later that it was called vestments - and whatever it was, it was so thickly embroidered with sparkly shit that if he'd have taken it off it would have stood up on its own.

He was a slight, small statured man, but I've never met anyone else who had the same presence as Papa. I had no idea what to think of him, since Jared had given me two conflicting sets of information about him, and I finally shrugged and decided to go with the flow. If he had those guys with the pikes drag me off and fling me in a dungeon, I'd know what to think, but until then my jury was out!

All three of us felt the gravity of his presence, and I heard Chad's sharp intake of breath as this imposing being stalked towards us, bearing all the dignity of the tradition of his ancient office.

He had a severe face. If he hadn't been the head of the church, I'd have said he suffered from Resting Bitch Face. As it was, I'll just say he looked dignified and imposing, with a side of stuffed shirt. He beckoned us to follow him, and we fell in line like good little soldiers.

He guided us for what seemed like miles, through the imposing, marble floored audience rooms and elaborately carved wooden paneled passageways, past delicately painted ceilings and finally through a courtyard where the pathway was inlaid with mosaic and which led to a fountain that splashed musically over marble, carved nymphs who glittered as the water droplets were turned to crystal by the sun.

There was a tree too, as large as the one that I'd seen at Jared's place, back when we first arrived. It was surrounded by smaller plants with gaudy flowers I'd never seen before. I wanted to ask someone to tell me how they grew such things, but was a little shy of Papa, and there was nobody else I thought might know. I knelt and sought out the tank in which they were planted, but instead there was a brown, crumbly medium that confused me.

"Jay?" I called.

He was right beside me in an instant, dropping to his knees, and behind him, Papa, who stood looking perplexed.

"What is this stuff?" I held out a handful of the brown. "These things aren't growing in the hydrotank. The tree..." Jared laughed and put his arm around my shoulder.

"I keep forgetting that you're new to Earth. I'm sorry, babe." He turned my hand over and let the brown stuff drop in a dusty cloud. "That's earth, Jen. It's dirt, soil. It's what the world is made of, pretty much."

I blinked. Blinked again as a small, gaudily colored creature fluttered by me to land on one of the blooms at my feet. It was going to be hard to get used to this place. It was more of everything, and I wasn't sure if I was real or not any more. I pointed at the fluttery thing wordlessly.

"It's just a butterfly," said Papa, making me jump. "That one is a real one. You can tell the difference when they land and start feeding. The spyflies don't land, because they don't feed."

"Spyflies?" I wasn't sure I should even be asking, but it was too late; I'd opened my big mouth.

"There are so many factions who'd love to see what goes on in the Vatican," smirked Papa. I expect you'll be cross-examined once you leave. The press, the opposition..." He stopped speaking abruptly and drew a needle blaster from a pocket in that gem encrusted robe, aiming and firing at something I didn't even see, until it tumbled to the paved courtyard floor, smoke pouring from it. "Let us go inside. They can't reach us so readily from in there."

Papa's living quarters were less fancy and far more comfortable than the area beyond the courtyard. When he finally removed his party dress, I didn't get the chance to see if it would stand up, because he hung it on a hook just inside the door, and revealed that underneath he was wearing a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt with "Go Vatican" written on the front in illuminated letters. He grinned as he approached Jared to clap him on the back, and the severe expression was suddenly gone, causing him to look 10 years younger and rather mischievous.

He rang a bell that sat on a small, cherry wood side table. A young man materialized and bowed, while listening intently to a set of instructions delivered in a language I didn't have installed in my chip. It didn't matter. The retainer nodded and went away, returning almost immediately with another like him, wheeling a cart loaded down with refreshments that looked too good to be real.

The wine was amazing, and once I realized they weren't actually beetles, I decided that I love olives. I let Jay and his father in law talk about the situation with the fake Genevieve, and the things that had brought us back down to earth, while I attempted to discover any conditioning that might have been placed inside the head of the leader of the Holy Roman Church. It was difficult. Each time I attempted to dig further into his head than the most superficial level, I slid away as if his brain were ice.

An hour or so went by, during which I tried and failed to delve below that slippery surface. When the man finally turned to me and smirked, I realized that he'd been aware of my probing.


Master Post | Part 1 | Part 3 | Art | AO3 on its way

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