Title: An Unforgettable Moment (In Time) part two
Please see Master Post for fic details.
Banner by athenaps
Jared could remember the one time Jensen had brought him down to the Gaia pool, his awe of the warmth of the cavernous chamber, the natural light from phosphorescent moss clinging to the rock walls. But it had been the pool itself, the water still and dark, and seeming to continue on into the depths of the chamber.
“I’ve been told it’s bottomless.” Jensen said his toes balanced at the edge of the pool.
They had only been in Colorado a couple months but even then, the sight of Jensen that close to the pool, seemingly unconcerned that neither of them knew if there was a gradual slope or if it simply went straight down into it’s ebony depths, twisted something inside Jared.
“Maybe you should come back some.” He muttered tightly.
Jensen looked over his shoulder at him, “We’re here to protect the pool Jared. I have to work with its magic. As long as we do what we’re here for and give our respect, the pool will respond in kind.”
He kicked, hard, with his legs and pumped his arms in the water until his head broke the calm surface. He gasped for breath as he paddled towards the edge.
“It goes straight down, Jen.” He mumbled quietly as his numb fingers grasped the jagged edge and he leaned his forehead against his hands. Not thinking, not realizing he had just spoken out loud, a warning that was no longer necessary, shreds of his thoughts still lost in memories.
“Damn.” He hissed as he braced his hands on the warm rock and heaved himself out of the frigid water. With a barely controlled movement, he fell forward and at the last moment, twisted so that he lay on his back and stared up at the phosphorescent moss glowing high above him.
Maybe it was because he wasn’t a witch or maybe the powers that be refused to grant his desire but the spell hadn’t worked. He shut his eyes and quickly ran over everything he had done, everything he had said and knew he had followed it exactly as it had been laid out in Jensen’s Book of Shadows, right down to submerging in the pool and forcing himself to remain under the ice cold water focusing on where he wanted to be until he was certain his lungs would burst.
But there had been nothing. No strange sensation, no odd lights, nothing.
Jared blinked his eyes open and ignored how the eerie green glow of the moss blurred.
What was he supposed to do now? What was there to do now that Jensen was dead?
There would be another pair coming soon, another witch and guardian to look after this place, and above all else he didn’t want to be there when they arrived.
With a groan he pushed himself up and stumbled towards the distant mouth of the cave. He had to get back to the house before the new protectors of the pool arrived, he couldn’t, wouldn’t, allow them to paw through Jensen’s belongings and speculate about his lover’s life.
He’d go to the house, pack up their stuff, throw it in the back of the pick-up and then collect D.C. and the dogs. If he worked fast enough he should be able to be long gone before another soul appeared. It felt a little like running and maybe to a certain extent it was but he didn’t need to see his failure mirrored in another Guardian’s eyes or in the witch that would be summoned to replace Jensen to know just how badly he had fucked up.
So lost in his own anguish, it took several moments for it to register that the cave floor beneath his feet was getting easier to see, everything brightening. Almost like it was about noon but Jared hadn’t made it to the cave until almost dark.
He swallowed hard and his breathing picked up as he forced weak legs to continue to propel him forward.
He had to squint against the brightness of the afternoon sun as he stumbled out of the cave mouth.
Distantly he registered as his knees hit the solid stone of the mountain path but it was unimportant.
The spell had worked; he had managed to go back to that afternoon. He felt dizzy and excited and sick to his stomach with fear of what he had done. He shut his eyes tight against the swirling emotions and took several deep breaths.
“Get up.” He hissed low, trying to get himself to move. He had no way of knowing just how far back he had gone, only having the sun as a guide but it had to be near the time when he or rather the other him should be coming soon to check that nothing was out of the ordinary up there.
He gritted his teeth and pushed himself back to his feet.
Move asshole! He chided himself silently and began to sprint down the path. Noticing and then tossing aside the worry that his wet clothes and shoes were dripping water behind him. It was a warm, cloudless day, by the time he, the other he, got near, all evidence of his passing would have evaporated in the heat. Which he was pretty damn certain was a good thing since somehow he didn’t think running into himself would help anything at all.
He broke from the path and followed a deer run that would take him out of earshot of the usual way he took on his run but would get him to the house eventually.
All he could hope for was that eventually would be soon enough to stop the man that would be murdering Jensen in less than an hour, by his estimation, from even making contact with his lover.
A grim smile played at his lips as Jared regulated his breathing and pushed himself to go faster. If everything went right, Jensen would never even know he’d been there.
Jared was already slowing his pace to a brisk walk when the sound of the back screen door opening and then closing had him dropping into a half crouch and approaching the tree line slowly.
Carefully he peered around the thick trunk of one of the Cedars surrounding the back of the house and felt his breath stop in his throat.
Justin Hartley was storming down the back deck stairs, his body practically vibrating with anger.
Son of a bitch! Jared clenched his teeth and forced his body to remain hidden from view. He growled low in his throat and dug his fingers into the bark of the tree in front of him.
He could remember Justin being pissed at being dismissed by Jensen after all the shit that had gone down between the two of them a couple years earlier but he never thought that the pushed aside Guardian would have anything to do with helping the man that had murdered his lover. But then again it made a twisted sort of sense. How else could the man have found them without some inside help?
Where’d you go while your buddy stabbed Jensen? Did you help? Did you go looking for me and somehow we missed each other?
He watched Justin pace back and forth in front of the deck and chewed viciously on the inside of his cheek.
I’m going to kill you. He swore silently, after I take care of the animal that killed Jen, you’re next fucker.
The screen door swinging open drew his attention and he was suddenly glad for the support of the tree as Jensen stormed out of the house.
“We’re not done discussing your fuck up.”
Jared blinked and narrowed his eyes. It was almost too far away to see the dark bruising around Jensen’s right eye, but he knew what he was looking for. Although he wished he didn’t because that meant that not only had the spell worked and he had managed to go back in time but he had gone back too far, almost four years too far.
Justin turned so all that Jared could see was the tense line of his back. “Yeah we are.” He snarled back, “You’re fine, I’m fine and the civilians are in jail in Fort Morgan. Get over it.”
“Civilians Justin” He hissed back, “A couple of pathetic thieves on the run from the local cops for breaking into the Timeshares three miles away. They should never have managed to sneak up behind you and knock you out.”
Even from a distance, Jared could see Jensen’s sneer and was more than happy that it wasn’t directed at him.
“While you were out here napping and working on your tan, you’re a pathetic Guardian.”
“Fuck you Jensen!” He spat back, “I don’t even know why you’re still here. There should have been another witch summoned when I was summoned.”
“Maybe Gaia realized I was the only one strong enough to protect myself in spite of your pathetic attempts.”
Justin took a step towards him and Jared’s body automatically leaned towards the confrontation. He bit back a curse and forced himself to stay where he was. He had memories of this time and knew that the other him, the younger him would be along that evening and that he and Jensen would make up and Justin would be tossed out on his ass. He couldn’t mess with that, worried that that would somehow screw up Jensen and the younger him making up.
“Don’t let fear and common sense hold you back.” Jensen growled.
Jared watched Justin spin on his heels and head towards the hidden path at the tree line a dozen feet away from him. He glanced back in time to see Jensen cross his arms over his chest and sneer.
“Try checking the whole property today. Maybe if you had done it all along, like you should have been those two dangerous criminals wouldn’t have gotten the jump on you.”
Justin muttered something as he slipped between the trees but didn’t stop in his attempt to get away.
He turned back to watch Jensen grip the patio railing in both hands and hang his head between his shoulders. And in that moment he knew that not touching Jensen, not feeling his body pressed up against him, wasn’t an option. He needed Jensen like he needed air and right then he couldn’t get enough.
Jensen shoved away from the railing and slowly walked back into the house.
Carefully Jared moved just inside the tree line, careful to keep an eye on the windows of the house and stay out of view. He would make his way around to the front of the house and go through the front door, just like he had all those years before, or would be in a few hours and tell Jensen everything he had said to him before, or would.
He stopped and pinched the bridge of his nose to stave off the headache threatening. It was hard to know what was going to happen and see it as a memory when logically he knew it hadn’t happened yet.
Jared glanced down at his feet and it was then that he noticed the drops of blood on his running shoes.
“Aww shit.” He grumbled as he let his eyes travel up his jeans covered in dried blood.
The couple days following Jensen’s death hadn’t been easy on Jared but he hadn’t realized that he had slipped so far into his depression that he couldn’t be bothered to change his jeans. At least he had managed a fresh shirt but there was no way he would have been able to explain away that much blood. He shuddered, too much blood.
His need to see Jensen, to simply listen to him breathe intensified at the thought that he wasn’t going to be able to because he wasn’t sure how to explain away the blood and he groaned in frustration.
The words died in his throat as he spotted an old navy blue hoodie of his tossed over the back of one of the deck chairs. He couldn’t stop the stupid grin that strained his cheeks, even after Jensen had torn them apart; he still stole one of Jared’s old jean shirts. It explained why someone as stubborn as his lover had given in so easily when he had said he was sorry. Someone like that, that had missed him as much as he missed Jensen wouldn’t even bother mentioning the blood stains, at least, not at first and by the time he got over his shock of seeing Jared, he would be long gone, along with the evidence.
He slid through the trees until he was even with the front of the house. Taking a deep breath, he checked the windows one last time before he broke from the tree line and slid to a stop at the corner of the house.
Well, he was still breathing and standing; either Jensen hadn’t seen him or was feeling charitable.
Keeping low, Jared moved along the front of the house and then to the front door.
Taking a deep breath, he shoved the door open.
It hadn’t really been all that surprising to Jensen to find D.C. pacing outside the bathroom door, meowing for all he was worth. It was something he had started to do shortly after Justin had shown up at the house, anytime D.C. couldn’t get access to Jensen, he would get as close as he physically could and then start crying until he got what he wanted.
It took Jensen a while to get used to the new wrinkle in their routine, so used to D.C. accepting Jared and being content in his presence that it took him a couple days to figure out that it was because the cat wanted nothing to do with the new Guardian and not necessarily because there was trouble.
But D.C.’s usual routine was to sit and cry, not pace back and forth with his tail puffed out and it caused Jensen to pause. The last time he had acted like that, Justin was out cold, he had ended up with a black eye and two small time criminals had ended up almost killing them both. Shit.
“What’d Justin do this time?” He sighed down at the cat and, tightening the towel around his waist, followed him down the hall to the living room.
D.C. had never accepted Justin in the house and that probably should have been his first clue that the Guardian that had been summoned to replace Jared wasn’t anyone Jensen would ever be able to trust. Still it had been pride that had stopped him from admitting to Jared that he was right and that Justin was an idiot. It would have given too much away and he refused to admit to Jared just how much he needed him, not after he had begged him to stay in the first place and he had still walked away. It didn’t matter that Jared had come back, only that he had left in the first place.
It really was for the best that Jared was less worried about his wounded pride then Jensen was or he wouldn’t be coming back to take his rightful place at Jensen’s side as Guardian and lover.
He strengthened his grip on the knot in towel hanging from his hips and carefully peered around the corner into the empty living room.
“What…” He swallowed down the words as he spied the open front door. “Wonderful.” He grated out as he watched D.C. run to the open door and glance back at him.
“I’m naked you know.” He grumbled to the cat but ignored his first instinct to go back to his room for clothes. Something was going on and even if Jared had promised to return with the dogs and his gear at some point that evening, he didn’t think that what ever was happening out front would wait around for the proper Guardian of the Gaia pool to return.
Carefully he crossed the room and glanced out the half open door.
He had been expecting something else, a friend or two of the mundane criminals that had been caught because of them or, at worst, someone or something had stumbled upon the house and felt the pull of the pool.
What he found instead, was Justin face down on the ground with Jared perched on his back, using his knees to keep his arms pressed against his sides and a knife to Justin’s exposed throat.
“Jared no, stop!”
Jensen forgot that he was practically naked, forgot that Jared had told him he was coming back to his rightful place as his Guardian and forgot that he was pissed at Justin for being a poor substitute for Jared. All he could focus on was the thin line of blood running down Justin’s neck and that Jared was causing it.
He dropped to his knees in front of them, instinctively knowing better than to touch either of them until he could get Jared’s attention on him and away from the dark place inside him that he slid into when he was completely focused as a Guardian.
“Jared.” He said softly, “Let him up.”
Jared was breathing hard, his chest rising and falling in a jerky rhythm, blood smeared at the corner of his mouth and his eyes were dark in rage.
“Get him off.” Justin grunted out low before he hissed in pain as Jared tightened his hand in his hair and yanked his head back farther.
“Jay.” Jensen ducked down until he could catch Jared’s eye, “Please. Let him up.”
Jared blinked and he saw a spark of recognition flash in his hazel depths.
“Hey.” He tried to smile but felt the tremble at the corners. “Let Justin up.”
“No.” He growled and narrowed his eyes, “He failed to protect you. You could have died.”
“But I didn’t.” He pushed quietly, “I’m right here and I’m okay.”
“It’s just a little shiner.” Justin muttered, and then keened as Jared’s arm flexed and the knife dug deeper into his throat.
“Justin.” Jensen hissed. How stupid did someone have to be to saying anything that could be considered goading?
“You know the code,” Jared glared down at his captive’s watering eyes. “You fuck up bad enough and you get replaced. I’m just making sure that you don’t put another witch at risk.”
Jensen swallowed hard, what he was planning was tantamount to taking his own life into his hands but he trusted Jared and if this is what it took to stop him from doing something that he might regret later then he would. Slowly he reached out and laid a gentle hand on Jared’s knife arm, “You’re right, he fucked up, okay? He fucked up. But I knew he wasn’t what I needed in a Guardian from the moment I found out that he is six years older than you but Gaia sent you to me, not him. But I also think this was his only chance to become what he was supposed to be. I don’t think Gaia will let him near another witch. I believe that and I need you to believe that.”
He glanced up at him and then down at Justin. “He deserves to die.”
“It was a simple mistake and the problem was a mundane one.” He risked getting pushed away and slid his hand down Jared’s arm until he could wrap his fingers around his hand gripping the knife handle. “Don’t.”
“You would have died if the problem had been more…supernatural.”
He watched Jared watch the tears slowly slide down Justin’s face before his features twisted in disgust. “Pathetic.” He spat.
“Let him live with his failure.” Jensen whispered, “It will be worse than death.”
His eyes silted and he chewed his bottom lip in silence for long moments before he finally looked back up at Jensen. “Move”
It wasn’t quite an order and Jared’s tone had softened but he still worried. If he moved away it would mean releasing his hold on Jared’s hand and the look in his eyes still hadn’t faded completely away. “Jay?”
“I don’t want you within range when I let this sack of shit up.”
He felt most of the tension leave his body at Jared’s words, relieved that he wasn’t going to be the reason Justin lost his life, not for something as stupid as a couple of pathetic thieves. Carefully he pulled back and, making sure not to lose his towel in the process, stood and took several steps back towards the house.
He knew Jared was fast, had seen him first hand in action. Still it took him by surprise when it seemed that between one blink and a next, Jared went from pinning Justin to the ground to standing slightly in front of Jensen.
“Get your shit and go.” He hissed and pointed the knife from Justin to the house. “And make it fast before I change my mind.”
Justin slowly pulled himself to his feet and brushed the loose grass and dirt from his t-shirt and jeans, casually like his eyes weren’t darting from Jared’s face to the knife in his hand and back.
“I was summoned here.” He straightened and tipped his chin towards them. “To replace who I thought was a dead man. I can see that I was mistaken but the point remains that I was summoned.”
Jensen caught Jared’s arm just as he tried to take a step forward. “And now you’ve been replaced by the rightful Guardian. If there are any ramifications for that then I’ll gladly take them because ultimately it is me that chooses when the right of Guardianship comes into question.”
He tightened his fingers around Jared’s forearm, “And I choose Jared Padalecki as my Guardian and the guardian of the Gaia pool.”
Justin narrowed his eyes, “You know what?” He snorted derisively, “You, the pool, none of it is worth this.” He started forward but quickly altered his route to give them a wide berth when Jared growled and stiffened into a fighting stance.
They both turned to keep him in their sights as he stormed past and darted into the house.
“Jay.” He said softly and stepped forward until he was between the house and Jared. “You weren’t really going to kill him were you?”
Jared stopped staring at the front door and looked down at him. “I missed you.”
Jensen hesitated, his mind going blank briefly, unsure what to say or do. Jared had already admitted to missing him earlier that day, there was no reason to bring it up again unless this was his way of distracting him from his question. Which if it was, it was a pretty shitty way to do it.
“I know that you chose me but if you want me to go elsewhere, fine, I’ll leave right now. It’s not like you’re really welcoming me but don’t think that I don’t care about what happens to you Jensen. I do care about what happens to you. I know I said some awfully stupid things that I can’t take back. But the truth is that I don’t want to take back any of it. All of it was one big test to show us how strong we were.”
Jensen swallowed hard and tried to ignore the pounding of his heart. They had already had this conversation not more than four hours before. But it was like it was all new to Jared, his speech was rushed, his breathing erratic and he was gripping Jensen’s arm like he expected him to walk away.
He stared hard at him and that wasn’t the only bizarre thing about the whole encounter. Earlier that afternoon, there had been sadness in Jared’s eyes that he had let himself believe was because of their falling out but, even then, it had seemed too deep, too painful for only that, and now, although there was sadness in his hazel depths, it was nothing like the grief from before. And his hair was shorter and his body not as defined.
His knees went weak, whoever had been in the house that afternoon hadn’t been Jared; no matter how much he had let himself believe otherwise. Oh fuck me.
Jared cut him off, “You know that no matter what, I’m always going to regret leaving you instead of fighting for you. I know this now ok?” He sighed and threw his hands up, “I’m still surprised that you still put up with me. I mean I don’t get it! Why didn’t you kick me to the curb the moment I came back, huh?”
“I think it’s clear that I love you Jared.” His mouth was dry and he barely managed to get the words out but he felt that they needed to be said. He had to let Jared know how he felt because even if this was something he had thought he had lived through already once today, it was all new to Jared.
Jensen could remember, vividly, pushing himself up against the Jared double and kissing him the way he had been thinking about for a month. He tried to move forward but his body was frozen in shock. He had thrown himself at someone else because he wanted it to be Jared so desperately that he had let himself believe that it was. He had given himself to someone else, had fallen asleep in someone else’s arms, he could have been killed in his sleep by the impostor.
Very slowly Jared released his death grip on his arm and gently cupped Jensen’s cheek, the touch bringing him back to the moment. He was going to have to tell Jared and in doing so admit that he had been right, that he really was promiscuous or at the very least, desperate enough to want Jared back badly enough to allow himself to believe that he had had him back earlier that day.
“Shut up Jensen.” He murmured before pressing his lips against his and demanding entrance to his mouth with his tongue.
He couldn’t decide if it was bad that Jared knew exactly how to handle him to push all of Jensen’s buttons but suddenly it didn’t seem so important to tell him of his fuck up. At least, not while he was kissing him like he had no intention of letting him up for air anytime soon.
It was the growling that let him know a second before Jared lifted his head that something was happening. He focused in on Harley and Sadie standing by Jared’s truck, the fur of their necks standing up and between them, D.C., tail still puffed up but a smug look on his feline face.
Right, Justin. He felt his face heating as he turned his head to find out what Jared was glaring at.
Justin was standing in the open door, a look of contempt on his face and duffle bag by his feet. “I was summoned because of a lover’s spat?” He snarled, “And you have the nerve to tell me about failing my duties.”
Jared curled his arm around Jensen and pulled him until his back was tight against his chest with his free hand while he pointed his knife towards Justin. “Get out.”
He reached down, grabbed his duffle and hooked it over his shoulder. “Not a problem.”
Jensen let himself be manhandled until he was once again behind Jared and watched from behind him as Justin walked down the stairs and started down the driveway.
“You know,” he said quietly. “I’m not completely helpless. I don’t need to be hidden away. I did manage to knock out one of the thieves without using any magic.”
Jared turned his head so that he could look back at Jensen but still keep Justin’s retreating form in his peripheral vision. “How exactly did you manage that?”
He couldn’t help the grin at the teasing tone, ignoring the flare of guilt at the sound and pushing down the worry that Jared wouldn’t feel the desire to treat him that easily once he found out that Jensen had been bilked by a con that had used glamour to appear to be him.
“D.C. took a flying leap at the one that came into the house with me looking for keys to Justin’s truck and he tripped over a kitchen chair and knocked himself out. When the second one came in to find out what the noise was, I was waiting behind the door and hit him with the frying pan.”
He chuckled and wrapped an arm around his waist. “Why exactly didn’t you use your magic?”
“I didn’t want to have to kill them to protect the secret of the pool.”
He smiled softly at him, “Besides killing people isn’t your job.”
Jensen sighed and settled against Jared’s side. Maybe it wasn’t his job per se but he could do it and to avenge himself and Jared he would if the impostor ever came back. It would be his penance for betraying his lover. “To protect you I would.”
“I’ll just have to make sure I’m never in a position where you have to then.” He turned and started to guide them towards the house now that Justin had disappeared from sight.
“We better get you in the house before you catch a cold.”
He snorted, “What?”
Jared fingered the edge of his towel. “Why are you running around with only a towel on anyway?”
Typical Jared, the thought that maybe Jensen and Justin had had something going on had never even occurred to him. It was plain by the total lack of jealousy on his face.
“I had just gotten out of the shower when D.C. alerted me that something was going on.”
“Ahh” He leered down at him, “You know you’re going to be all dirty again from kneeling on the ground.”
“I had to get your attention somehow.” He tried to keep his growing excitement out of his voice but Jared had that effect on him. All he had to do was smile just the right way and he had Jensen ready to strip without being told.
He purposely ignored the fact that the impostor had made him feel the same way. Not thinking about him now. “So you’re saying I need to take another shower?”
Jared nodded seriously but the grin on his face belied it, “Oh yeah and I’m thinking that I’m going to have to help you.”
Heat flooded his body and he felt himself begin to harden. “Really...?”
Jared gently pushed him forward towards the stairs but kept his grip on Jensen’s towel so that it fell away from him. “Most definitely….”
The impostor was good but after a year and a bit, Jensen knew the house, recognized every little noise and knew when the soft scrape across the hardwood was D.C. and when it wasn't.
He swallowed down the urge to throw open the back door and yell for Jared. He knew that his lover wouldn't be that far into the trees surrounding the house and would be back in a flash at the first indication from Jensen. Instead he turned slowly, both hoping and dreading that it would be the "other" Jared he would be facing and wasn't surprised.
He was just sliding into the kitchen, his tilted eyes trained on Jensen and he smiled tentatively as he stilled just inside the room.
Jensen narrowed his eyes, forced his unsteady legs to carry him over to the counter and Jared's gun he had concealed under a tea towel. "Who are you?" He demanded low and tried to appear casual as he leaned against the counter, his hand sliding beneath the towel.
"Jen you know who I am."
He gritted his teeth and curled his hand around the butt of the gun, ignoring the familiar lilt and cadence of the voice that he should be able to recognize anywhere. He was certain this wasn't his Jared; he had just watched him disappear into the tree line with the dogs in tow. If he was to be honest, a part of him had known it that day too, the muscle definition too sharp, the eyes shadowed where there shouldn't have been any but he had wanted it, wanted Jared so desperately that he had been willing to let himself believe that it had been a trick of the light.
He would never forgive himself for that.
"No," he hissed low, pleased when his voice didn't shake, ignoring the slam to his pride that there could have been the possibility. He had been trained to depend on Jared for his protection but there were times, like now, that he wished he would have been a little more rebellious as a teenager, a little more forceful when it came to being trained to protect himself.
He still managed to pull the gun and aim it at the "other" Jared, "I don't think I do."
Something dark and vicious crowed in the back of his head as the other man's eyes widened. "Jen put the gun down."
"No." He shook his head slightly, "I don't think I will. Now, who are you and what do you want?"
He watched him raise his hands slowly, palms out, "I swear on my life that I am Jared Padalecki. I am your Jared."
He chuckled bitterly, "Do I look stupid to you? I just watched Jared go for a run with his dogs." He straightened his arm, grasped his wrist with his left hand and took a steadying breath. "Who...Are...You?"
At the bottom of his line of sight he watched D.C. curl around the stranger, weaving in and out of the impostor’s legs before he stretched up and placed his front paws of his thighs.
He felt a jolt of uncertainty snap through him. D.C. didn't like strangers; in fact he had attacked a man who had gotten too close to him when he was only eight months old, scratched his face, almost taken his eye before Jensen had been able to grab him. But there he was, trying to convince an impostor to pick him up.
"Shit D.C." The man hissed as the cat dug his front claws in a show of his irritation of not getting what he wanted. He glanced down at the cat before shooting a pleading look at Jensen. "I'm just going to pick him up." He said soothingly as he bent slowly at the waist, reaching for the cat. "I'm really not in the mood for him to climb on me. Not when he's damn near twenty pounds."
Jensen nodded once, sharply, shock and confusion running rampant through him.
"Hey buddy." He cooed at the cat as he gently picked him up and pulled him tight against his chest. "I'd get you a little coffee but Jen's a little stressed with me right now."
He blinked and swallowed hard, what the hell was going on? He knew Jared was on his run with his dogs, he knew it, but he was also standing in front of him, wasn't he?
"How..." he shook his head at the thought and forced down the rest of the question. It wasn't possible, it just wasn't.
"Jen, it's really me." He took a tentative step closer; D.C. still snuggled in his arms, purring contentedly. "You know me." He flashed a half smile, "Even before the other day, you knew my smell. You can't tell me that you don't know who I am."
Heat flashed through his body, images of that afternoon assaulting his mind. "Don't!" He growled, "You took something that was meant for Jared."
"And I got it." He seemed to be fighting down a grin, "Actually twice, according to my memories."
"We didn't..." he spluttered. It was bad enough that he had bottomed for the first time in his life for a stranger that he had mistaken as Jared but he damn well knew they had only done it once.
He sighed, "Well technically I have two sets of memories and both have a different moment pegged as the first time between us." He grinned suddenly, dark and devious, “Not that I’m complaining, both are very welcome additions to be called upon in times of need.”
"What?" He would have felt embarrassed at the blatant innuendo but his head was starting to throb in time with his heartbeat and he was beginning to regret not having called Jared back to take care of this.
The impostor’s face slid into a look of concern, "Jensen, look at me." He pleaded low, "Really look at me. I'm holding D.C. and I'm not bleeding from a thousand puncture wounds. And I know that I haven't changed that much in four years that I don't still basically look like I've always looked."
Shock coursed through him as the realization of exactly what was going on hit him. He started shaking his head against the thought, it wasn't possible, they weren't allowed, it was breaking all the rules they stood for. "No." He whispered, "Its not possible...I wouldn't..."
In his state he didn't notice that he had lowered the gun, letting it drop to his side.
"It is possible," Jared, Jared, affirmed as he slowly took a step then another and another until he was only inches away. "You know that as well as I do."
"Why?" He wanted to keep denying it, wanted to shove Jared away from him and run but he was rooted to the spot, his mind stuck on the truth so painfully clear. He stared up at him, took in the pain that flashed in his eyes and couldn't stop himself from reaching up and cupping his cheek, "Why Jared?"
Jared twisted and deposited D.C. on the kitchen counter, never breaking eye contact or shaking off Jensen's hand. "I can't...I can't tell you Jen." He apologized quietly, "I'm sorry."
He felt him tug at the gun in his hand and released his hold on it like it was burning him. He had almost shot Jared; he had been planning on killing Jared. "Oh God" His body started to shake with the realization.
"Shh." Jared murmured and pulled him into his arms. "It's okay."
"I almost shot you." He buried his head in Jared's chest, trying to draw strength from the solid body engulfing him. "I wanted to shoot you.”
“My fault,” He reassured him low, his lips brushing the top of Jensen’s head. “I should have been honest with you from the beginning. I should have told you who I was and that I had come back from the future. But I took one look at you and…”
He pulled his face out of Jared’s chest and stared up at him, concerned with the pain clear in his tone. “What happened Jared? Why are you here?”
He palmed his cheek and rubbed his thumb, tenderly, back and forth beneath his eye. “I love you Jen.”
He swallowed hard and bit his lip as fear coursed through him. Something had happened, something bad enough for him to break the cardinal rule and send Jared back. Something bad enough that slow tears were rolling down Jared’s face. He’d only seen Jared cry once and that had been during the fight that had split them up in the first place.
“You’re scaring me.” He admitted softly as he reached up and touched one of the wet tracks.
Jared tried to smile but it did nothing to alleviate his fear. He lifted his hand from Jensen’s face, covered his hand on his own cheek and pressed into it. “Just tell me how to get to the right time.”
He shook his head, “I can’t Jen. I can’t tell you, so please don’t ask again.”
Jensen chewed his bottom lip; this didn’t sit right with him. It burned that Jared wouldn’t tell him what was going on, but it frustrated him even more that he had probably told him not to. Still short of using his magic against Jared and forcing him to tell him the truth, there was no way he was going to learn. And that was an option he just wasn’t willing to try. He would never use his powers against Jared, hadn’t even entertained the idea when he thought that this Jared wasn’t his Jared, he just couldn’t do it.
“Just promise me that whatever this is, it has nothing to do with me sending you back to protect you.” His own words from just a day before were coming back to haunt him. He had told the younger Jared that he would kill to protect him but it suddenly occurred to him that sending his lover back in time, risking everything, seemed feasible.
Jared stared directly into his eyes, “Nothing. I swear it.”
“And I didn’t send you back to kill someone?”
He actually chuckled at the question but Jensen didn’t miss the unreadable look that flashed in his eyes. “No.”
Jensen sighed, “I’m not comfortable with this but I don’t want future me waiting on present me to help you and not do it.” He gently knocked his forehead against Jared’s cheek, “Plus I’m thinking by then I’ll have this memory and be pissed at myself if I don’t help.”
Jared blinked and shook his head, “This whole past, present, future thing is giving me a headache.”
He couldn’t help but grin, “Yeah, well, it’s no picnic for me either.”
He pulled back so that he could meet his gaze once more, warning flags going up. “Didn’t I tell you just to reverse your thinking? Instead of thinking to the memory you want to return to, think of the moment when you first slipped into the pool. Commit to wanting to return to that time.”
He titled his head from side to side a couple times, “What I need to know is, can I get to the moment I wanted to get to when I ended up going too far back?”
He growled in frustration, he’d never been known for liking mind games and this was becoming more and more like that. “Jared…”
Jared shook his head, “Don’t Jen.”
He ground his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “Fine” He grunted giving in regardless of how this was becoming something that seemed less and less like something his future self had initiated. “Yes. Think of that moment.”
He leaned down and kissed him slowly. “Thanks.” He whispered against his lips before he started to pull away.
He reached for him and managed to catch the sleeve of Jared’s shirt but he gently tugged out of his grasp. “Wait.”
“I have to go. I’ll, I mean he’ll,” Jared blew out a breath, “The younger me will be back shortly and I can’t be here when he does.”
Jensen glanced out the window towards the tree line and could just make out the tawny fur of one of the dogs flashing in and out of sight between the trees.
Jared was right; he couldn’t be around when the younger version of him got back to the house. It wouldn’t cause the earth to suddenly implode or anything equally catalytic but he didn’t hold any illusions that the younger Jared wouldn’t instantly attack the older Jared the minute he saw him, not waiting for any explanation.
He turned back to future Jared shifting from foot to foot. Impulsively he stepped up, curled his fingers into the loose material of his shirt, pressed his lips against his and then stepped away. “Be safe.”
He smiled briefly before he nodded “You too my love.”
It hurt to watch him turn and quickly move out of the room, feeling like he was letting him go again without fighting for him, even though he could hear the dogs and the younger Jared’s laughter drawing closer at his back.
He blinked the moisture out of his eyes, “I love you.” He whispered to the empty room before turning and walking towards the back door, shaking off the melancholy that was threatening to overtake him and plastering on a smile that was only partially faked as he prepared to meet his Jared.
Jared had kept himself hidden in the place down near the mountains where the Gaia Pool was located. He made sure he was nowhere his past self would be able to spot him. He was worried, so much so it made his body tremble and his muscles tense. He could have possibly ruined everything for his future with Jensen by interfering the way he had. It was a very foolish move for him to make, a rookie mistake. Jared was a guardian and he had broken so many of the rules that were set for guardians since the day he met Jensen. It only figured he’d break a great deal more the day he lost Jensen.
One of the rules was not to interfere with the past but Jared could help but take advantage of the situation. Jared missed his lover. Jared missed the way he felt making love with Jensen. He never realized all the beautiful things that faded from his face when it turned pale and cold. Jensen stared up at him with his big green eyes, just like he had the first time, and stared at him with such passion that he almost let a sob fall from his mouth.
Even if it had been a stupid move to make it was too late to turn and regret it now. Jared fought tooth and nail to get his plan to work. He had no second thoughts about it what so ever. Jared didn’t want to go back to a world where all there was to remember Jensen by was a grave marker. It wasn’t an option for Jared. When Jared point blank told Jensen what Jared so desperately needed to know it was for a good reason. It was to protect both the past and the future Jensen that Jensen didn’t know the whole reason why he was asking about a time travel spell and broke the most sacred rules and traditions.
But that meant nothing to Jared; he was willing to sacrifice his mere existence to make sure that Jensen lived to see the next sunset. Jensen’s life was more important than Jared’s ever was.
When Jared found himself at the Gaia pool, he had forgotten that he had been heading there while he was so completely lost in his whirl wind of thoughts; he stared at it head on. Jared forgot his fears and his past memories and thought. Simply thought about how that day began. Jared remembered how he walked away to leave Jensen alone for his walk, remembered how the trees and the pines smelled before the pain warned him about Jensen.
Then without interrupting his thoughts, Jared dove straight into the Gaia pool and let the water wash over him.
“Let time rewind!” Jared screamed with all the pain he felt. “Let time rewind and take me back to that time!”
Within seconds Jared felt the nostalgic feeling build up in his gut as the memories swirled a bit faster in his mind as the cool water engulfed him in a warm glow. Jared felt the tendrils of power wrap his body when it drifted him to a moment in time that changed absolutely everything.
Jared jumped out of the water, which soaked through his clothes, and ran as fast as he possibly could. Jared hoped, no, somehow knew that Jensen would come out surviving. Failure hadn’t been an option at all, or he’d be back in his own time period mourning.
Jared remembered that there wasn’t any time for over thinking all that happed. It was only a matter of time before past Jared would be alerted by his second sense and tried to save Jensen.
Jared planned on a pleasant ending to the Prince saving the damsel. He foresaw happiness instead of it ending with blood and tears.
With muddy shoes and a forceful mind Jared continued to make it in time to the house that he knew so well.
“I will save you.” Jared whispered to the wind.