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Shadow Lane: A Winchester Obsession
Fic: Look Beyond What You See to Find the Truth Behind the Lies - Part 2 chap.2 
2nd-Jul-2009 12:54 am
Jared/Jensen 2
Title: Look Beyond What You See to Find the Truth Behind the Lies - Part 2 chap.2

Please see Master Post for fic details.

 

 

It ended up taking Jensen a little longer in the shower then he had first guessed but he really had needed the time to sort his head out and prepare for what lay ahead. He wanted to believe that they believed him but he had been where they were, desperate for a confession and willing to resort to whatever means available to him to get one.

But on the other hand, it was Jared and Steve in his apartment, not the asshole pair Singer and Kripke or Mike and Tom but Jared and Steve. Sure they were both still Feds and different offices were known to join forces when the need arose and he could well see that happening in his case. Not because it was a murder case, not because he had relocated to Dallas but because he used to be a Fed and law enforcement really, really hated it when one of their own went bad.

But that didn’t deter from the fact that it was Jared in his home. Jared, who had never been able to completely mask his emotions from Jensen. He tried, of that Jensen had no doubt, but he had seen the interest, the attraction back when he had flirted and dropped hints. It was one of the reasons he did it, because he knew that Jared still cared, that there was still something between them. Not that he would have ever done anything while he was still in his relationship with Justin but the thought, the extra push, to end a relationship that had soured had cemented in his head because of it. Just like he had instantly known that he had lost Jared’s belief so many months before when he let him into his hotel room that last night. He had seen the mistrust and the desperate need to be reassured.

Just like he had seen the guilt in his eyes as they stood by the door, he just needed to be convinced it was really what he was seeing before he dared to hope.

Even if he was still a little leery, he had hope because he would allow what Jared wasn’t saying to sway him. At least a little, at least until, if, he proved to be a better actor than he had been a year before.

After he managed to settle himself some and finally stepped out of the shower, he realized that he had a more pressing problem. In his rush to gain a moment of solitude, he hadn’t grabbed a change of clothes and really he didn’t want to have to get back into yesterday’s, especially since he had slept in them. But having a studio apartment meant that he had no bedroom to slip into and change and he wasn’t going to go parading out there in just a towel. It shouldn’t bother him, it was his damn apartment but something about Jared and Steve seeing him that vulnerable, made him nervous. He might want to believe that they were on his side; he might even believe them to a point already but not to that extent, not yet.

In the end he decided to pull his jeans back on, sans boxers, and for a moment was inordinately overjoyed that he didn’t have a set dress code anymore and didn’t have to be donning a pair of dress slacks. He didn’t bother with his socks or shirt, nothing would convince him to pull on yesterday’s sweaty socks and his button-up shirt reeked of booze and despair.

Jensen had managed to get out of the bathroom, to the sleeping area of his apartment and into a well-worn blue Henley without searching out Jared’s eyes but still managed to flip Steve off for wolf whistling at him. All in all he was pretty proud of himself, feeling a little more human and a lot less all over the place with his emotions.

Jared and Steve were already sitting at his dining room table, sipping coffee when he turned around. There was a light brown messenger bag propped up against Steve’s left leg, a manila file folder sitting open, papers spread out between the two men and three mugs of coffee on the table.

As much as he wanted to know what they had, it was the coffee that interested him the most at the moment. He had taken a couple of Advil with a mouthful of water from the bathroom sink and the shower had helped clear his mind but he was going to need coffee to actually be human again. And he was going to have to feel as good as possible to deal with what he could see was a lot of paper.

It didn’t even occur to him that anything was out of the ordinary when Jared lifted the spare mug and held it out to him, without even looking in his direction, until he noticed Steve looking between them, a slight smile on his face.

He quashed the urge to try to explain the action away he didn’t even think there was anything particularly strange about it, he needed coffee, Jared knew he needed coffee, he functioned better with caffeine in his system and the sooner he got it the better. But having Steve looking at them like that made him feel the same way it did when they had been younger and Steve would catch them making out, it was a mix of embarrassment and self defence.

Jensen shook it off; they hadn’t done anything remotely similar to making out so the feeling was foolish, and sat across from Jared.

He took a deep breath; if this was just an elaborate set-up in the hopes that he would say something to incriminate himself, he would never trust another person again especially in law enforcement. “Okay.” He said low, not bothering to look at everything spread out on his table, choosing instead to meet Steve’s eyes and then Jared’s. “Prove to me that letting you into my home wasn’t a waste of all of our times.”

Jared didn’t flinch, he just nodded and handed him a piece of paper.

He glanced down at it, at the list of nine different names and either Lake Charles, Louisiana or Dallas jotted down beside each.

“What is this?”

Jared met his eyes, his were serious but a hint of anger danced in their depths. “A serial killer’s score card.”

A serial killer? He looked back down at the list, he didn’t recognize any of the names but he could see enough to know that whoever the guy was he didn’t seem to be particularly selective. But he knew from experience that every serial killer had a pattern, a particular victim that they preferred, unfortunately, sometimes the pattern wasn’t understood until after the killer was caught.

He looked between the two of them, a lot of questions were bouncing around in his head, almost too many to count and all clamouring to be first. He opened his mouth and then snapped it shut without uttering a word. It annoyed him, it made him feel like a rookie, like a newbie back at Quantico and that he was just staring at a professor knowing that if he didn’t ask the right questions, in the right order, that he was going to get called on it. He hated the feeling and worse, right now, he felt like he deserved it.

Fuck it. He wasn’t part of the organization anymore, the right questions, and the right order, none of that mattered. What mattered was that somehow this related to Justin and he needed to know how.

He glanced back at the list, “So six men in Lake Charles, Louisiana and then nothing until six weeks ago in here in Dallas.” He looked to Jared, “How does this connect to Justin?”

“I’d like to say that I figured this out,” Jared murmured low, his voice heavy with guilt as he motioned to Steve. “But it was Steve that spotted the connection.”

Jensen looked over at him, he could barely admit it to himself but there was a hell of a lot more hope in his chest then there should probably be. He swallowed hard and could only pray that his voice remained neutral. “Explain.”

“I have a friend in the Dallas P.D. We meet up on Saturday nights to shoot pool, drink beer and shoot the shit.”

He had always kind of found Jared’s rambling kind of endearing and apparently it was a family trait. Any other day he might consider riding Steve’s ass about it but it wasn’t any other day, today might very well be his first day as a cleared man and the first day he was finally closer to seeing someone in jail for Justin’s murder. He did not have time for listening to Steve take the round about way to his point.

“Steve,” he motioned with his hand that he should get to the point. “Please.”

Steve’s eyes narrowed but he shrugged and continued. “Chris was telling me about a murder investigation he was involved in. Apparently his victim was a no show for work on Monday April 27th. He worked as a substitute teacher and was expected to teach a grade nine class and when he didn’t show up a call was made to the school board, which in turn called his home. When they didn’t get an answer, they found someone else and called his emergency contact who in turned called Dallas P.D. The beat cop responding found the front door unlocked and the victim laying a pool of blood just inside his front door, already dead. The M.E. placed the time of death between seven and seven thirty a.m., he had been bludgeoned to death with an as of yet unknown object.”

Jensen sat back in his chair, cradling his cooling mug of coffee between his hands. Some of what Steve was saying was so very similar to Justin that it sent chills down his spine. But it wasn’t enough of a connection for him; it would never be enough of one for a D.A.

“Okay.” He nodded before he shrugged, “But to play Devil’s advocate, I see the similarities but it’s not enough to...”

Jared snorted, “Trust you to scoff in the face of what’s going to clear your name.”

A part of him leapt because Jared was defending him, was actually arguing for him against himself but there was the other part that couldn’t let go of the doubt because if he did then he was just opening himself up for a fall.

“A week before that,” Steve continued, “There was another male victim. Same M.O., he didn’t show up for work, a friend went to check on him, he found the front door unlocked and found him dead on the kitchen floor, bludgeoned to death.”

Jared was practically vibrating in his chair, to the point where neither of them could ignore it any longer.

“Is there something you would like to share with the class Jay?” Steve raised an eyebrow, his look more amused than annoyed.

“How are we even related?” He shook his head, “You talk too slow to be a Padalecki.”

“I’m a Carlson.” He shot back, “And, young padawan, it’s called making sure I’ve covered all the bases in my explanation so that I don’t end up jumping back and forth and confusing everything by having to go over something I might have missed.”

“Ha!” Jared crowed, “You’ve already missed something.”

Jensen just sat back, amused, as he watched them spar back and forth. This was something he missed when he decided that a social life wasn’t worth the risk, the easy back and forth banter of friends. It was still a pressure in his chest to know how this all linked to Justin but now that his hangover was starting to recede, he could wait, for at least, a couple minutes.

“Such as?” He crossed his arms over his chest.

“There were prints that couldn’t be identified

“I was getting to that.” Steve grumbled.

“Yeah, right.” Jared shot back but sobered quickly at his cousin’s dark look. “Steve, I’m sure you would have but Jensen can be more anal than you and likes all the answers in order.”

He almost spoke up, almost told them that he wasn’t really concerned about how he got the story, just that he got it. But he let it go because Steve was looking ready to start speaking again.

“I remembered reading about a murder a couple days before. Only in that one there was a suspect, a contractor. Other than that little fact, nothing else is different, front door, bludgeoned to death in the early morning hours, some unidentified prints, etc, etc, etc.”

Jensen was pretty sure his heart had stopped at the mention of a contractor and, although, he had watched Steve’s lips moving past that one single word, he hadn’t heard anything. There had been a contractor. The victim had told somebody about a contractor.

Jesus Christ.

“How did you find out about there being a contractor?” He couldn’t make his voice work past a whisper.

It would be too easy for there to have been a notation and a phone number in the victim’s home. After all, if there had been then chances were he would have heard something about that sooner. Something, at least, in the newspaper beyond a simple mention of another murder without any suspects.

“From a friend of the deceased” Steve explained apologetically, “Apparently the victim met some guy at the Roost the weekend before he died. He told his friend that the guy he met had just come out of the closet and was looking to immerse himself in the culture. The victim went home alone that night but met his mystery man for dinner the next day, uh...” He huffed some papers in front of him before he appeared to find what he was looking for. He scanned the apparent witness statement for a minute before he looked back up. “The Saturday before his death. He went to brunch on Sunday with the witness and told him that his new friend had told him that he was a private contractor and that he was pretty lucky because, not only was his new beau a genuinely nice guy but he was willing to come check out his back deck since it needed to be replaced.”

His head was spinning and he felt the floor shifting beneath his chair. He wanted to think that it was the last of his hangover kicking his ass but he really didn’t believe it was. He was so close to proving his innocence and yet so far.

“Jen?”

He blinked and turned to look at Jared. The concern in that one word enough to focus him.

“Yeah,” he rubbed a hand over his face, “How does that tie into the murders in Louisiana?”

Jared was subdued and Jensen didn’t like the concerned look on his face but he let it go, for now.

“The local cops already figured out they had a serial killer working their city and once Steve contacted them, they were more than happy to share their files. It’s the same M.O. Jensen, all of it.”

He could feel the familiar tingle of excitement humming through his veins. It was something he had been able to ignore up until then, more concerned to see the personal connection between what they were telling him and Justin and himself. But he had been trained to look at the bigger picture and, it he was going to be honest, he liked puzzles, he liked being able to solve them.

“How did you find the connection between Lake Charles and Dallas?”

Jensen hated to ask because it kind of felt like cutting his own nose off in spite of his face but he had to know. He had to know if there was a legitimate reason for him to believe that he could finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. “And, okay, I see the similarities but San Antonio isn’t Lake Charles or Dallas. How are you so sure that this is the same guy?”

Steve was nodding and the look on his face was one of respect. “When I noticed a pattern, I wanted to see if it was repeated elsewhere. A couple of clicks on my computer through the usual channels and I had it.” He picked up a piece of paper and handed it to Jensen. “Look at the date of the second last victim in Lake Charles.”

He scanned down the page, “April 15, 2009.”

“A week before Justin.” Jared pointed out, unnecessarily.

“San Antonio is one of only two large cities between Lake Charles and Dallas. The other of course being Austin.” Steve continued quickly, “We think that our perpetrator either got spooked or just wanted a change of scenery. Got to San Antonio and Justin met him...”

His voice petered out and he glanced down uncomfortable. Jensen wasn’t sure if it was because they were hitting sensitive territory or if it was something else. He glanced over at Jared to see him fiddling with some of the papers in front of him and he shook his head. If this was because of what happened, he appreciated it, he really did, but it wasn’t necessary, not now. They all knew what had happened, there was no need to pussy foot around the subject, unless that wasn’t the only reason.

“What is it?” He asked slowly, “I mean if this is because of Justin, I appreciate the discretion but it’s okay.”

“That’s not it Jensen.” Steve hedged.

That didn’t sound good, “Then what?”

Was it possible that this was all conjecture? Had they gotten his hopes up for nothing? 

Jared blew out a breath, “Jen. I’ve gone through the reports about the investigation. I’ve read them top to bottom and I know what they said, what you said.”

Jensen kind of greyed out for a minute. In the back of his head he’d always known that Jared had been privy to, at least, some of the investigation. But he had always hoped not all of it because they had tried to use his friendship, his hidden feelings for Jared, against him and he never wanted him to know about that or his reaction.

“Look Jensen we know you did it but...”

Jensen sneered at the detective, Kripke, he was pretty sure the guy had said that was his name when they had first met but at first he was too worried about what could have possibly happed that they had come to work to speak with him and then later, too lost in the reality of the situation to care.

The lack of knowing the man’s name didn’t stop him from cutting him off, “Instead of harassing me and looking for the quick fix, maybe you should do your job.”

“But what we’re not sure on is if Jared Padalecki is involved.”

The words, the consideration, stole his breath away. It was bad enough that they were doing this to him but to pull Jared into it, that was fucking insanity at it’s best. The detective had to be bluffing, it had to be just another way of trying to get at him, trying to get him to confess to what had happened to Justin.

He spun in his chair so that he could face Mike head on, “Do not drag Jared into this.” He wasn’t begging but it was damn close. “It’s bad enough that you’re trying to put this on me but please, if you’re not going to believe me about anything else, believe that Jared had nothing to do with it.

Mike had held up pretty well for a guy that had to interrogate a colleague, a friend, but at Jensen’s pleading something in him cracked momentarily and he cut his eyes to the detective. If Jensen hadn’t been watching closely, he never would have seen it but he had and he got what the look meant. He felt kind of stupid for almost falling for such a classic play but when it came to Jared, sometimes, he had problems thinking straight. His flirting when he was with someone else, someone that he was supposed to love, was evidence of that.

He forced his body to relax back in the chair and crossed his arms over his chest. They couldn’t pin anything on Jared; they had less than nothing on him.

“Jared has nothing to do with this.”

“The evidence says different.”

Jensen almost laughed, it was bad enough that he almost fell for it but it was just pathetic that this idiot detective wasn’t going to let it go even though he had just called his bluff. He was however, going to let him continue, let him bury himself because when it was all said and done, he was going to let Jared in on what the detective said and let him decide what he wanted to do with the information.

“We know that you two used to be an item in high school. We know that there was something between you once you met up again.”

He raised an eyebrow, “Really? Huh, I seemed to have missed that.”

Detective Kripke leaned forward, his face starting to darken with frustration or rage, Jensen didn’t know and didn’t really care.

“You’re saying that you haven’t been flirting with Agent Padalecki? That he hadn’t been flirting back?”

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Mike fidgeting slightly. There was no question who had mentioned that little fact. Trust Mike to have noticed, there was a reason that he was considered the biggest gossip in the office.

“A little inappropriate of both of you, considering that you had a husband, don’t you think?”

He couldn’t help the bark of harsh laughter, it was either that or lose his temper and he knew that wouldn’t end well or help Jared or himself anyway. “What do you want me to say? I’m a flirt. I flirt with Jared. I flirt with Tom. Hell I’ve even flirted with Mike...”

“Yes but Agent Padalecki was witnessed flirting back.”

He rolled his eyes, “So has Agent Rosebaum.” He batted his eyelashes at Mike. “Isn’t that right Mike?”

The detective turned and glared at him. “It that right Agent Rosebaum?”

Jensen could hear it in his voice that he was finally realizing that his ploy to try to get him to confess was useless. He couldn’t believe that he had really thought it would end any other way. He knew Jensen was an FBI agent, he knew that he would have been trained in the same interrogation tactics.

Mike shrugged uncomfortably, “It was all in good fun.”

“Right.” He grumbled and pushed away from the table. “I believe that we have now run the gambit of ploys to get me to admit to something I haven’t done. So if you gentlemen will excuse me, I have a funeral to plan.”

Detective Kripke stood and moved to stand in front of the door. “We aren’t through.”

“Look,” Jensen was hanging onto his patience by a thread, a very thin, fraying thread. “I’ve been as honest as possible with you. I have answered your questions. I even stayed calm when you resorted to childish tactics and dragged my partner into this. But now I’m done, so either arrest me or get the hell out of my way.”

“If you don’t sit down, we’ll drag your partner into this very room.” He threatened low.

He was certain, well relatively certain that the detective was bluffing, and he was still leaving. If he was wrong and they really did drag Jared down here, he’d make it up to him later. 

Jensen pushed past the detective and pulled the door open, pausing only long enough to lock gazes with Mike, “Go ahead.”

He came back to the moment to Jared chewing on his bottom lip and looking almost sick. “I’m sorry Jen but if you have a suspicion that Justin had been fooling around, now would be the time to admit it.”

That was what he was talking about? He was wondering if Jensen was or had been questioning Justin’s fidelity. He couldn’t decide if he was relived that Jared seemed to have forgiven him for being dragged into the investigation as a suspect or Kripke had really been bluffing and nothing ever came from his threat. Or if he should be worried about the, now familiar, leeriness he was feeling. This could be the trap he’d been waiting for them to try to spring.

Not that it really mattered, because his answer was the same as it had been a year before. “No.” He shrugged at Jared’s incredulous look, “He could have been. I mean I wasn’t very observant where he was concerned, now was I? I didn’t know about his gambling, so what do I know. He very well could have been fucking around. Why?”

“There are a couple common factors in all the victims. One, they were all homosexual, two, they all frequented their local gay bars and three, they all owned or had carte blanche permission to renovate their residences as they saw fit, within reason.”
The pieces fell into place as his mouth went dry. “You think Justin picked this guy up at the “Pitt” don’t you? That even if he wasn’t fucking around, that he had a conversation with him, found out that he was supposed to be a contractor and was going to use him to renovate our kitchen. That’s why there was no forced entry, Justin let him in.”

“It fits the pattern.” Steve admitted, “Plus, the statement of the friend of one of the victims saying that his friend had met a contractor in a gay bar. But that’s not all.”

Jesus Christ there was more?

He almost didn’t want to ask, “What?”

“The second last victim and the last victim in Lake Charles were live in lovers who had met the suspect in a gay bar in their area.”

Jensen began to shake, excitement, fear, worry, all combining to make him feel like he was going to vibrate out of his chair.

“A description?” He whispered, “A name?”

“He called himself Eric Kelly,” Jared muttered as he handed over a composite sketch. “Roughly your height, medium build, blue eyes, dark brown hair.” 

He stared down at the police sketch. The suspect was good looking enough, he supposed, but there was nothing remarkable about him, nothing that would make him stand out from anyone else.

“Nothing on the name?” It was a long shot and he didn’t really believe that he would have heard all the background information first if they already had the suspect in custody but he had to ask.

“There are no Eric Kellys matching the description on any data bank.” Steve grumbled, “And trust me, I’ve searched them all. Arrest records, military records, DMV, and so forth.”

“Of course.” He knew it had been a long shot but it didn’t stop the sting of disappointment.

He worried his lower lip as he stared down at the sketch and then a thought struck him. “You said that the last two victims in Lake Charles were living together, but you also said that he killed Justin in San Antonio a week after the second last victim. Are you telling me that he went back to Lake Charles to kill the last guy?”

Steve nodded, “It looks that way.”

He was pretty sure he knew why but he wanted to know if they thought the same and he wanted to hear it from one of them. He might be pretty much convinced that they believed him but not one hundred percent and they were still just on the other side of the invisible line in his head that still made them a couple of them.

“But why?”

“It’s the FBI’s stance that the suspect was probably keeping an eye on the news via the Internet. Police in Lake Charles released his description and we think he went back to take care of the eyewitness. While he was there it came out in San Antonio that you were an FBI agent and Justin’s common-law husband. We suspect that when he came back to Texas that he bypassed San Antonio because of the FBI being involved. We haven’t come up with a reason yet as to why there was a year break between Justin’s killing and the first one in Dallas though. Nor do we know why he didn’t stop in Austin.

It made sense, the time line, almost a two-week break between the second last victim and the last killing in Lake Charles, because he had been in San Antonio at the time. Everything fit with a cold clarity that was frightening in it’s simplicity. All except one small thing, “You said that I might be in danger.”

“When Steve showed me what he found, I called Morgan and faxed him everything. The FBI suspects that the suspect went back to Lake Charles and killed the last victim because he could I.D. him. But there’s always the chance that he was murdered simply because he was the lover of one of the other victims.”

Jared met his eyes and Jensen could see his worry plainly, “Like you were Jen.”

The first reason for going back was the most logical but logic was rarely involved where killers, especially serial killers, were concerned. But he did have one benefit over the last victim in Lake Charles. “Yeah, but I left San Antonio and other than my family, no one knows where I am. I’m not listed in the phone directory; even my business cards only carry the post office box address. I mean I’m not particularly surprised that you guys found me but the FBI has channels that the regular Joe blow doesn’t.”

“But your mom and sister Jensen, they are both listed in the directory.” Jared pressed quietly.

Oh. Oh fuck!

He could feel the blood drain from his face and his whole body was suddenly chilled. Ackles wasn’t a very common surname and his name had been listed in the newspaper several times, first as Justin’s surviving partner then as the main, and only, suspect in his murder. If the serial killer really had been checking the news from Lake Charles, and that’s what prompted him to go back and kill his final victim in the town, then what was to stop him from coming after Jensen? Logic? Because it was more of a risk then what it was worth because Jensen had never seen him? Was it really worth the risk? Worth risking his mother and his sister’s lives on the assumption that he had only killed that guy because he could identify him? Especially since he seemed to suddenly chose Dallas as his new hunting ground.

His stomach rolled treacherously, he was going to be sick and it had nothing to do with his hangover.

Jensen pushed away from the table, barely noticing his chair skittering back and then falling backwards with a loud bang.

“Jensen?”

He managed to just slip past Jared as he came to his own feet and dodged his grabbing hand.

“Jen?”

Jensen made it to the bathroom just as the taste of bitter coffee and acid hit the back of his tongue.

***

 

“I want to be a part of the hunt for this nut.” Jensen growled, his voice rough from what had just happened in the bathroom.

Steve was collecting together the paperwork that had been spread over the dining room table and Jared was waiting, patiently, by the bathroom door, glass of water on offer for him.

“You going to be okay?” Jared asked, his voice low and intimate, for Jensen’s ears only.

“I’ll live.” He took a tentative sip of the water and tensed as his stomach clenched but he was relatively certain that he wasn’t going to be heaving again anytime soon.

“That wasn’t part of the plan Jensen.” Steve looked up from shoving everything back into his messenger bag.

“And I would give a shit about that why?” He growled back as he crossed back towards him, his bare feet slapping angrily against the hardwood floor.

“Jensen, Morgan wants to put you in protective custody...” Jared admitted quietly, almost like he was expecting him to blow up and he wasn’t wrong.

He slammed the glass down on the table and spun to glare at him. “And my family? My mother? My sister?” 

Jared winced in the face of his sudden anger but didn’t back down. “Them too. Jesus Jensen do you really think that we wouldn’t do all we could to protect them too?”

“Well my last interaction with the offices of the FBI didn’t go so well now did it?” He felt like a bastard for saying it, he was a bastard for saying it, but he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. “It kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Anger, guilt, frustration and, he was pretty sure, betrayal flashed through Jared’s eyes before he managed to gain control of his emotions. Jensen wasn’t completely sure which emotion he felt strongest but he figured he’d probably be prepared for Jared to take a swing at him. He kind of felt like he would deserve it, in a way, but even if Jared, hell the whole of the FBI, believed him now, at one point they, he, didn’t and that had been a festering wound all along and he need to start getting rid of the anger.

“Nah, I’m pretty sure that’s the after taste of regurgitated coffee.” 

Jensen could only blink, dumbly, as Steve burst out laughing. He had almost forgotten about that, Jared would rather defuse a situation then escalate it. And humor was usually the best way to do that.

“Weak Padalecki.” He finally managed.

He grinned, a real grin, eyes twinkling, dimples flashing and Jensen was helpless not to grin back.

Jesus he’s gorgeous. It’s not like he had forgotten, even in the ten years between Jensen’s high school graduation and when they ended up as partners at the FBI, he hadn’t forgotten. But when Jared smiled, it was like the sun coming out from behind a cloud simultaneously blinding but warming at the same time.

“Stopped you in our tracks didn’t it.”

It wasn’t a question and he wouldn’t have answered if it had been because there was no way to answer him and come out on top. “You do know that using me will probably speed up catching this psycho right?”

“Jensen.” Jared groaned.

“No, listen,” he glanced between them, Jared looking put upon but Steve seemed intrigued by the idea so he could only hope that meant that, at least, one of them would hear the wisdom in his words.

“If there is a chance that he’s out for my head then I should make myself as visible as possible and draw him out. If we’re lucky, he’ll find me before he finds someone else.”

Jared huffed out a breath and crossed his arms over his chest but otherwise remained silent. It was a telltale sign that he might not like what he was hearing but he didn’t have a good enough argument to voice.

Jensen couldn’t help the surge of hope. He’d rather work with the FBI then against them. But if they tried to stop him then he’d refuse protection and do it on his own.

“We have no clear idea as to where he is.” Steve warned softly, his voice speculative.

“There can’t be that many gay clubs in Dallas.” He shrugged, “Maybe half a dozen, tops. We’ll keep moving to a different one each night until we get a bite.”

Steve sat down and leaned back in his chair, deep in thought.

“No.” Jared growled, “”No way! Morgan wants him in protection.”

“I don’t answer to Morgan anymore.” He shot back.

Neither of them had sat back down at the table and Jared took a threatening step forward. “No.” He hissed low.

“What are you going to do Jared?” He growled back, with a step closer of his own. “Watch me twenty-four seven? ‘Because that’s the only way you’re going to stop me.”

“If I have...”

“Enough Jared,” Steve’s voice was quiet but they both stilled when he spoke. It was probably a hold over from when they were kids but then again, Jared’s cousin had always had a commanding voice. “It’s Jensen’s decision and he has Director Gamble’s support.”

He knew who Sera Gamble was, the Director of the Dallas FBI office. Obviously it hadn’t just been Morgan that they had been busy explaining their theory to. It actually went a long way to reassuring him that their theory was creditable.

Jared threw his hand’s up in the air, “Fine. Fine! If you are so gung-ho to hunt the serial killer that killed your husband, who am I to stop you.” He dropped himself into one of the chairs and glared down at his empty coffee mug.

Steve snorted, the sound more playful than dismissive, “Diva.”

Jared’s jaw clenched and he turned his head to stare down at the floor.

“Jared.” Steve pushed.

Jensen figured he understood what the problem was. Jared had always been adverse to anything that might hurt Jensen. In truth, it had been one of the reason he had ended their relationship all those years before because he had thought that eventually him becoming an FBI agent would end them anyway. Had he know then what he knew now, things would be drastically different, he was certain.

“Jay...” he coaxed quietly as he sat back down across from him.

Jared shook his head before he sighed, “Company man.” He muttered as he glanced up at Steve.

“There you go.” Steve smiled at him and Jared managed a slight grin back.

Crisis adverted.

He was more glad then he had first realized that it was Jared and Steve who had come to see him. Because they were family, they understood each other. Steve hadn’t lost his temper like some would at Jared’s antics and it only took a look and a couple words for things to be good between them. He wasn’t sure if he could have handled yelling and maybe a couple of thrown fists. He was already riding an emotion roller coaster; he didn’t think he needed to add anything else to it.

“But I’m going in with Jensen.” Jared muttered, the finality in his tone loud and clear.

“So you can scare everybody away?” Steve snorted back, “I don’t think so.”

“Who put you in charge?” He snapped.

“The combined words of the Directors Gamble and Morgan”

Jensen choked back the urge to roll his eyes as the tension in the apartment started to thicken again. Maybe his first assessment, that he had been happy that it had been them to come to him with what they had had been premature, if this was what was going to keep happening.

“My faith in the FBI is not improving here guys.” He figured he might as well speak up now and maybe he could set his own ground rules.

They both turned to look sheepishly at him.

“Tell me this pissing contest had more to do with you being family and less to do with what we’re about to do.” He pinned them both with his stare before he continued. “Because I would rather do this on my own then have to be privy to a constant sniping contest.”

He stood and moved to the kitchen area and grabbed the half full carafe. “Now to be quite honest, I’d rather have Jared in the club as my back up than someone I don’t know.” He refilled their cups then returned to the kitchen, replaced the empty carafe in his hand with the bowl of sugar and the small container of cream.

“And since it’s my ass on the line,” he continued as he walked back towards them. “I think I should have some say, don’t you think?”

“Thanks.” Jared murmured as he took the bowl of sugar from him but one look at his face let Jensen know he wasn’t talking about the sweetener.

He shrugged, no matter what had happened between them in the past, Jared really was the only one he trusted to watch his back. He supposed that it didn’t say much good about him that he’d rather trust someone that had turned against him when he needed him the most, but it was Jared and, God help him, he would always have a soft spot for Jared.

“You’re family.” Steve directed to Jared, “It gives me hope that you’re more professional while working.”

His eyebrows lowered with confusion and Jensen was pretty sure his look was close to the same.

“What?” Jared laughed, “Dude how does that even make sense?”

“I’m saying that I’m hoping that since we’re family that professionalism runs in the family genes.” He explained slowly, “And that I’m not the only one that behaves better on the job.”

“I can’t decide if that’s egotistical or if you’re just an asshole.” Jared shot back but the tone was light.

Steve shrugged, “Pot, kettle...”

“Yeah, okay.” He muttered back sarcastically.

Jensen rolled his eyes, admittedly he had missed this kind of banter during his self-imposed seclusion but if they didn’t start working out the details soon they weren’t going to get anywhere. And mow that had something, someone, to make pay for Justin’s death, he wanted to get past this stage to the “you’re busted motherfucker” stage. Preferably yesterday, but since that wasn’t possible then as soon as was feasible.

“Guys it’s not that I don’t enjoy family bonding time but do you think maybe we could get back to the task at hand?”

***

Part 2 chap.3
 

 

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