Back in the present, Jared whimpers in his sleep. It's been nearly a month since he prayed, and he's taking sleeping pills almost every night. He takes amphetamines to get himself going in the morning, anxiety medication and anti-depressants to get through the day. Sometimes he drinks, but only if he runs out of the sleeping pills. His life is spinning out of control, and the only time he feels safe is in his dreams, none of which he can remember in the morning.
But the dreams are comforting. Jensen can feel it when he curls around Jared's sleeping form at night, holds him close as Jared's mind takes him into the past, to that long-ago spring when he first fell in love with the green-eyed boy who claimed to be his guardian angel.
Jared doesn't remember, of course. Or if he does, he tells himself it was some kind of fantasy, a day-dream he conjured to help him endure the grief of his brother's death.
Jensen kisses the back of Jared's neck, breathes in the sweat-soaked skin and the citrus-and-sweat smell of his long, silky hair. Jensen's been good. He learned his lesson the first time and he's remaining invisible, barely tangible so that all Jared can feel is the vague sensation of someone's arms around him as he sleeps. He relaxes into Jensen and sighs, so Jensen knows it's helping, and that's all he can hope for. Jared's too far gone now, his life has careened too far off the reservation, and this is all Jensen can do. This is all Jensen gets to have now.
It's all he should have done in the first place, but he didn't know better. He got too involved. Heaven demoted him back to the filing room after that first stint as a guardian angel, only to let him out again so he could answer the prayers of the very old and the very young, appearing to them in human form only as a last resort, only as a final comfort as their lives were ending.
Of course he couldn't help trying to save the kids. It wasn't in him not to try. So he got himself demoted again, then allowed to answer the prayers of only the oldest and most close-to-death, helping to ease their way into the afterlife.
Until Jared prayed again.
Jensen promises himself he won't fuck this up, he won't let Jeff down this time. He knows Jeff has put himself on the line for him, allowing him to go back to Jared only under the strictest pledge that he will follow the rules this time, that he won't mess this up again.
But it's Jared. Jensen forgot how being near Jared makes him lose all sense of certitude and conviction. He can't remember why he ever promised to stay away. Jared's soul is like a magnet specially set to attract only Jensen, to disrupt time and space and distort every other magnetic field. Nothing makes sense except being with Jared, and as it becomes increasingly clear that he's planning to end his life, Jensen becomes more focused on a way to prevent that from happening.
Jensen walked Jared to school the next day, waited for him after drama club and walked him home again. They locked themselves up in Jared's room listening to Jared's grunge music while Jared did his homework, then Jensen nearly gave Jared a heart-attack by following him downstairs for dinner.
Neither Jared's parents nor his little sister noticed that Jensen was in the room, and after a few minutes Jared relaxed, gave Jensen the finger under the table where only he could see, then grinned like a crazy person when Jensen blushed.
Back upstairs in Jared's bedroom again, Jared started undressing for bed and stopped himself.
"Do you mind?" he asked, and Jensen shrugged and turned his back while Jared took his pants off, slipping into a tee-shirt and pajama bottoms instead.
They stayed up half the night talking again, and this time Jensen lay down on the spare bed, the one that used to be Jared's brother's bed. They lay talking and staring at each other, sometimes letting the silences stretch out until one of them licked his lips and the other other one closed his eyes because it was too much, this intimacy, this closeness with a stranger.
"It's like having an invisible friend," Jared said at one point when the conversation had dwindled to non sequiturs and acquiescent grunts. "Like when I was little."
"You had an invisible friend when you were little?" Jensen asked, genuinely curious.
Jared smiled that gorgeous, lazy grin of his and said nothing for a moment. Then, "You jealous?"
"Nah," Jensen shook his head. "Angels trump invisible friends any day. We're real."
"Riiiiiiight," Jared teased, and Jensen frowned.
"Shut up," he growled, pretending to take offense. "We are."
Jared grinned at him for another moment, then turned serious.
"You're like the bestest friend I ever had," he said.
"Yeah?" Jensen raised an eyebrow. "You've had a few of those, I'm guessin'?"
"A ton," Jared nodded. "I'm like a best-friend magnet. Everybody loves me."
"Is that right?" Jensen wasn't too sure he liked that idea. He'd rather be Jared's only best friend.
As soon as the thought left his mind, Jensen felt a cool breeze waft through the room, making him shiver. Jared noticed it too, pulled the blanket up to his chin.
"Mom's got the A/C cranked tonight," he commented. "It's getting hot in here."
"You could say that," Jensen agreed and was rewarded by a huff of breath from Jared, which is how he knew Jared caught his innuendo.
A comfortable if sexually-charged silence fell again, and after a couple of minutes Jensen assumed Jared had fallen asleep, until he heard Jared draw in a deep breath.
"I wish you could stay with me forever," Jared said, sounding so young and insecure Jensen immediately wanted to hug him.
"Me, too," he said instead, honestly.
He watched as Jared stared at him another minute, then turned onto his back, staring up at the ceiling while Jensen got drunk on the sight of his profile, the little ski-jump nose and long neck making Jensen's body tremble like a tuning fork, tuned only to Jared's frequency.
Then Jared smiled, shattering the illusion, making him look like an ordinary boy again as he turned his head toward Jensen.
"Goodnight, Jensen," he murmured. He turned away onto his other side, his back to Jensen this time, huddled around his pillow like it was a living person.
Jensen wished it was him. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn't help wishing it.
Jared's getting worse. He mumbles in his sleep now, angry, unintelligible mumbles followed by softer, pleading mumbles that sound like another person, like he's arguing with someone in his dreams.
Jensen knows it's against all the rules ever created, to go into someone's dreams, but he does it anyway. He can't help it. It's a violation, he knows. He's been told numerous times, and it consumes him with guilt.
But this is Jared, and he needs to know. God help him, he needs to know if Jared remembers.
At first, there's nothing but a thick, grey fog. Mist, really. It's cold and clammy and carries the far-off sounds of someone crying.
"Jay?" Jensen steps forward, into the center of the fog, willing it to part as he squints, sure Jared's in here somewhere.
Another step, then another, and a dark shape comes into focus. Tall but stooped, clothed in black from head to toe, his back turned to Jensen, long hair flopping listlessly over the edges of his coat-collar.
"Jay? Hey, buddy. It's me," Jensen calls softly.
Jared's shoulders tense and his head snaps up, which is how Jensen knows he hears him.
"Hey, Jared," Jensen tries again. "It's okay, sweetheart. I'm here."
Jared hesitates, like he's considering whether to believe his own ears. Like he's unsure whether to trust what he's hearing.
Jared turns, slow and unsteady, like he's afraid if he tries to look at Jensen he'll disappear.
"Yeah, buddy, it's really me," Jensen says. "I'm really here."
Jensen smiles as Jared sees him, tries to convey the confidence and reassurance he doesn't quite feel as Jared's lips part and his eyes fill with tears.
"Jensen," Jared breathes, gazing at him with a look of loss and longing that makes Jensen's chest hurt. "Where ya been? Huh? Where ya been, Jen?"
Jensen drops his eyes, humiliated and wracked with guilt. Where has he been? What could have been more important that this? What could ever be more important than being with Jared, especially when Jared needed him? What the ever-lovin-hell?!
"Yeah," he breathes, shoving his hands into the front pockets of his jeans, then shoving them under his armpits when they don't fit. Nothing fits. Nothing feels right, that's the whole damn problem. "I shouldn't be here."
Jared's mouth drops open, and his tortured expression is almost more than Jensen can bear.
"What are you talking about?" Jared clenches his fists as tears of frustration roll down his cheeks. "You said you'd stay with me, Jen. You promised. You said you'd stay as long as I needed you, remember? Well, I need you, Jensen! I really, really need you!"
Jensen raises his eyes to Jared's, and it's like time falls away, like they're back in that special place out back of Jared's house, where the trees shade them from the road and the grass is green and cool under their bare backs as they lie next to the water, pledging their undying love for each other. Promising to be together, forever.
"I know," Jensen whispers, shaken and miserable. "I know, Jare. I was wrong. I made a mistake. I can't – "
"You can't what, Jensen?" Jared demands.
"I can't stay here. I can't – I can't do this," Jensen says, and the dream fades.
It was the end of the week. They'd only had a week, altogether.
It seemed longer, and when Jensen thought back about it later it felt like an entire lifetime. Like he and Jared had always been together.
"Young love," Jeff explained as Jensen described his feelings for Jared, how consumed he was by them. "It's the human body you're occupying. That's normal for a sixteen-year-old boy. It feels very intense at the time, but it will fade. When you come back to Heaven, you'll forget all about Jared. And of course he'll forget about you as soon as you leave him."
Jensen felt a wrenching in his gut that wouldn't quit, and his eyes filled with tears. He knew this was the way it would end. He'd known it before he'd even taken this assignment. But he hadn't realized just how painful it would be. Jeff had tried to warn him, but he didn't believe it. He'd been too excited to get the job in the first place.
Now he sat outside Jared's house in the afternoon sunlight, waiting for Jared to come home from school. Waiting to say goodbye.
It was a Friday, so Jared didn't have school the next day. They stripped down to their boxers and jumped into the pool, splashing each other and laughing until Jensen dove down under the water and grabbed Jared's long legs and pulled him down. They swam circles around each other until they ran out of air, then broke through the surface of the water, gasping and laughing. Jared jumped Jensen, pushing him under again, and Jensen grabbed Jared's slippery arms, pulling him under with him. They held onto each other as they wrestled, rolling around under the water until they were forced to come up for air again. This time Jensen pulled himself up over the side of the pool and rolled onto the grass, and Jared joined him a moment later, flopping on top of Jensen like a beached dolphin, all wet limbs and slippery skin.
"Get off me!" Jensen half-complained, wedging his hands under Jared's shoulders so he could push.
Jared wrapped his arms around Jensen and rolled with him so that now Jensen was on top, slotted between Jared's spread legs. Their bodies were pressed together from chest to hip, the sun on Jensen's back drying him. Jared's arms felt nice, and Jensen stopped struggling and lay looking down into Jared's face, memorizing every feature. Jared stared up at him, blinking against the sunlight shining behind Jensen's head. Then he moved one hand and Jensen held his breath as Jared plucked an eyelash off Jensen's cheek with his thumb and forefinger.
"You have so many," Jared shrugged a little. "I guess you won't miss one or two."
Jensen smiled. "Guess not," he agreed, then dipped his head and kissed Jared, square on the mouth.
It was soft and dry and barely there, really, but when he lifted his head again Jared was staring at him like he'd just sprouted horns. Or wings. Like he was some kind of miracle.
Then Jared pushed up and rolled them so that Jensen was under him again, staring up as Jared tilted his head, concentrating on his angle of attack as he stared at Jensen's mouth. He took Jensen's head in his big hands and lowered his mouth to Jensen's, and as Jared's face came closer Jensen closed his eyes.
Jared's mouth was soft, and his lips were parted, so that when they moved on Jensen's they parted Jensen's lips too. He felt the tip of Jared's tongue dart out to touch his bottom lip and Jensen let his own tongue protrude just a little. When their tongues touched Jensen felt heat rush down his body to his dick and a tingle like electricity where their mouths met and Jared gasped, pulling back.
"Holy shit!" Jared said. "Did you feel that?"
"Yeah," Jensen gasped. His heart was pounding and his dick was so hard it hurt."That was – "
"Amazing?" Jared suggested, and Jensen nodded, speechless. "Again?"
Jensen nodded again and Jared leaned down to kiss him. This time Jensen let his mouth open a little more, let Jared push his tongue between Jensen's lips. Jared probeD carefully at first, then with more confidence as Jensen met each thrust of his tongue with a swipe of his own.
Their lower bodies ground together almost of their own volition, sending shockwaves of need up Jensen's spine, building too fast toward something Jensen only vaguely understood. Then Jared moaned and their mouths slid apart, Jared's body going rigid as Jensen's orgasm crashed over him, making him see stars.
As he came to, Jensen was aware of Jared breathing into his neck, of the sweat making their chests slide together, of the cooling stickiness in his boxers. He ran his hand up Jared's back, sliding his fingers into Jared's hair, and pressed his lips against Jared's cheek.
"My Jared," he murmured into Jared's ear, and a cool breeze wafted across them, as if Jensen's words had made it true. "Always."
"Huh," Jared half-grunted, half-laughed as he lifted his head, blinking down at Jensen with a dazzled, bewildered look. "That never happened before."
"First time for me, too," Jensen grinned. "First kiss, too."
"No way," Jared shook his head a little, like he was clearing it. "Seriously? Cuz you're good, man. That was – really good."
"So you've kissed someone before?" Jensen felt that now-familiar spark of jealousy again.
"Just girls," Jared raised his eyebrows. "I never kissed a guy before. Never wanted to."
Jensen smiled, feeling more than a little smug. "I guess it's just me, then," he said.
"Yeah," Jared agreed. "Just you. I'm in love with an angel and he's a guy. How weird is that?"
"Are you?" Jensen's breath caught, his heart pounding hard again. "Are you really? Cuz me too. With you."
"Yeah?" Jared slid his hand down the side of Jensen's face, gazing at him with a heavy-lidded, lazy smile that made his dimples show. "Damn, you are so beautiful."
Jensen blushed and shifted uncomfortably under Jared's steady gaze. "Let's wash off in the pool, huh?"
"Yeah," Jared agreed.
Jensen dove in first, shimmying out of his soiled boxers underwater. He surfaced and threw them at Jared, who was standing in the pool a few feet away, busily working his own shorts down his long legs. When Jensen's wet boxers hit him square in the face Jensen laughed.
"Ew, gross!" Jared complained as he pulled the shorts free and dropped them in the water, then took a flying leap toward Jensen, eyes sparkling with revenge. Jensen barely had time to turn away and slip under water before Jared was on him, grabbing his kicking legs and yanking him in, shoving his own boxers over Jensen's face as Jensen struggled to free himself. "There! Eat it! That's right! Taste my jizz, angel!"
Jensen was laughing so hard he almost inhaled the shorts, but luckily for him his skin was too slippery for Jared to hold him long enough. He wiggled free and slipped underwater again, swam between Jared's legs and came up behind him, tickling his ribs and making Jared whoop and splash wildly, then slip to the bottom of the pool. Jensen followed him down, floating above him as Jared stared up, his gaze serious and thoughtful, his long tan limbs moving gracefully in the water, almost as if he were gliding on air. Jensen floated closer as Jared watched, taking in Jensen's naked form from head to toe until Jensen placed his hands on either side of Jared's face and kissed him.
Jared's eyes widened and he jerked away then, pushing off the bottom of the pool with Jensen right behind him. They broke the surface of the water with mutual gasps, filling their lungs as they stared at each other, treading water as Jensen moved closer. When they were close enough Jensen leaned in and pressed Jared's lips with his, tentative at first, sliding his hands and then his arms around Jared's neck, hooking one leg around his waist so they were tangled together as their kisses grew deeper, tasting spit and pool water. Jared moved them through the water until his feet touched the bottom, then his hands slipped down Jensen's back to his ass, holding Jensen securely against him.
It felt like hours passed as they kissed and touched, exploring each other's bodies until their skin began to wrinkle and the sun was throwing long shadows across the pool and grass. When they finally climbed out and retrieved their jeans, slipping them on in silence, neither wanted to leave. Neither wanted to break the spell of this magical afternoon with all of its revelations and discoveries.
They lay side by side on their backs on the grass, pinkie fingers entwined, and stared up at the sky through the leaves of the tree for as long as they dared, and it was Jared who finally broke the silence, Jared who already understood what Jensen couldn't bring himself to say.
"You're leaving," he said, swallowing thickly.
Jensen nodded because he couldn't trust himself to speak.
"Will you be back?"
Jensen hesitated. There were always two answers to that question, because it depended on Jared, but he couldn't tell him that.
"I don't know," Jensen said finally, as truthful as he could be. "Maybe."
Jared sucked in a breath, and Jensen could tell he was trying not to cry.
"I'm gonna forget you," Jared choked out. "Isn't that the way it goes? I'm gonna forget all this like it never happened."
Jensen pushed himself up on one elbow, sliding one hand along Jared's cheek, catching a tear with his thumb.
"It happened," he said, pressing his hand against Jared's chest, over his heart. "Part of you will always know that. Part of me will always be with you."
A sob tore from Jared's chest and tears streamed down his cheeks. He turned his face away like he couldn't bear to look at Jensen.
"When I die someday, will you be there?" he choked out.
Jensen's chest felt tight, like something had grabbed hold of his heart and squeezed.
"You won't die for a very, very long time, Jared," Jensen assured him, stroking his hair gently.
"But when I do, you'll be there, right?" Jared sobbed, stubbornly refusing to look at him. "In Heaven, or whatever."
"Yeah," Jensen said. "Yeah, I'll be there."
"Promise?" Jared turned his head then, stared up into Jensen's eyes, blinking through his tears. "Promise me, Jen. Promise we'll be together someday. For-fuckin'-ever. Promise!"
"Yeah," Jensen sighed, swallowing back his own tears, unable to lie to this boy even though he knew that once Jared forgot him he'd forget this, too. "Yeah, I promise."
"Okay." Jared took a deep breath, staring at Jensen like he never wanted to stop looking at him, and Jensen knew that feeling, all right. Knew it too well. "Okay."
Jared fell asleep a few minutes later, cradled in Jensen's arms because Jensen was damned if the last thing he saw before he forgot Jensen ever existed wasn't the thing he thought he loved more than anything he'd ever known.
Jeff laid his fingers gently on Jared's forehead and Jensen watched as the little crease between his eyes softened and faded as Jared's memories of Jensen slipped away into oblivion.
"You done good, kid," Jeff said softly as he and Jensen stood watching Jared sleep peacefully in the cool grass. The boy would awaken as if from a dream, his memories wiped but his soul assuaged, his grief lessened.
Jensen had done his job.
Except he hadn't. He'd changed things, left traces that only gradually became apparent until it was obvious that Jensen had fucked up.
For example, Jared never had any real friendships again. Oh, he still had a few friends, people still gravitated towards him, but no one satisfied him, nothing seemed quite right when he spent time with people. Everyone he met was lacking something, although Jared would never be able to express what that something was. Nevertheless, the former best-friend magnet became more aloof, less attached.
But that wasn't the worst part.
Jared couldn't fall in love. It was as if Jensen had taken that part of him and left him kind of empty inside, incapable of attaching to another human being long enough to create that kind of bond.
Or as if Jared's soul had committed so firmly to Jensen it just couldn't bond with anyone else.
Within a month after his return to Heaven Jensen was demoted to the filing room. Despite Jeff's best efforts, the order from the higher-ups was very clear: Jensen had messed up and would not be allowed back into the GAD for some time, if ever. Period.
"You pledged yourself to him," Jeff explained. "You made promises that no angel should make to a human. It changes them. Now part of his soul belongs to you. He'll pine for something he can't have for the rest of his life."
"Like a curse," Jensen breathed, shocked. "You're saying I've cursed him."
Jeff took a deep breath, shook his head. "You've affected him," he corrected. "You altered his lifeline. I didn't think it was possible, or I would never have let you go in the first place."
"So how do I fix it?" Jensen demanded. "How do I make it right?"
"You don't," Jeff shook his head sadly. "He's been literally touched by an angel. Not something you can fix."
So Jensen watched helplessly from Heaven as Jared's life veered off course in ways neither the angel nor the human could have predicted. Jensen couldn't help keeping an eye on Jared, although he wasn't allowed to go near him. Jensen felt deeply responsible for the young man, whose beautiful soul had given Jensen an understanding of humanity that no other experience could have done. Knowing Jared had probably made Jensen better at his job, had given him more sympathy for the people who prayed for his help.
Of course, Jensen was banned from doing that job again for some time, and when he was finally allowed back into the GAD, Jensen vowed he would never interfere in another human life again.
Then Jared prayed.
"He's going to kill himself," Jensen paces the bedroom floor as Jeff sits on the windowsill watching him, frowning. "I have to stop him."
Jared's passed out on his bed, doped up on sleeping pills and booze again. Jensen's been following him around all week, watching as Jared prepares for his own demise. It's chilling in its sheer precision; Jared has thought through every contingency, left no stone unturned as he settles his affairs, plans the moment of his own death with careful attention to detail. There can be no question of it being his choice; he insists on being in control of his death to the degree that he's lost control of his life, and Jensen can see the sick logic of it in Jared's mind as clearly as if he explained it aloud.
Jared keeps his plans to himself because he doesn't want Mark or his henchmen to stop him, but Jensen reads Jared's mind like a book. It both disturbs and fascinates him that Jared has become so clinical in his thinking. He remembers the passionate boy he fell in love with seven years ago and wonders what happened.
Jensen knows what happened. Which is why he has to fix it.
"You can't," Jeff says now, not without a hint of sadness in his voice. "I'm sorry, Jensen. If Jared goes through with his plan, you can't stop it."
"But it's my fault he's where he is right now!" Jensen protests. "I'm the one that put him in this position! If he'd never met me, none of this would be happening!"
Jeff shakes his head. "You don't know that, Jensen," he says. "You don't know how you affected him. Only that you did. You can't know how things would have been different if you hadn't answered his prayer that night."
"I know it couldn't be worse!" Jensen wails, scrubbing a hand over his face because his vision has suddenly gone blurry. "Great. Now I'm crying. Like that'll help."
Jeff takes a deep breath, lets it out slow. "Angel tears are rare and powerful, Jensen. Don't mock them."
"Not powerful enough to fix this, apparently!"
Jeff says nothing, bites his lower lip and stares at a crack in the hardwood floor as if it's suddenly the most interesting thing he's ever seen.
"What?" Jensen stops pacing. "What is it? Is there something you're not telling me?"
Jeff closes his eyes for a moment, then takes a deep breath and opens them again, glancing at Jared's sleeping form before he answers.
"There is something," he admits slowly. "It's not foolproof, and as far as I know it's never been done successfully. Also, it's extremely illegal, but then so's what you did."
"What?" Jensen asks again. "What do I have to do?" He's ready to die for Jared, if that's what it takes.
As soon as that thought leaves his mind, Jensen knows. He's heard of it, like an angel urban legend, not something he'd ever taken seriously before, but now he's feeling desperate. Hopeful.
"There is a way to reset Jared's lifeline," Jeff says with another deep sigh. "Take you completely out of it, so none of this ever happened."
Jensen swallows as his mouth goes dry suddenly. He feels chills up his spine, and it's not just because he's naked. Angels don't wear clothes because they don't get cold, but the chill he's feeling makes Jensen shiver.
"Okay," he breathes, fighting down the sense of dread curling around him. "What do I have to do?"
'There's no guarantee Jared wouldn't end up right back here anyway," Jeff muses, unable or unwilling to meet Jensen's eyes. "It might all happen this way again, and Jared would end up just as fucked and suicidal as he is right now. We can't know for sure."
"But there's a chance?" Jensen presses. "We could do something that might save him from this? Jeff, you gotta know I'd do anything if that were possible. Anything."
"I know," Jeff raises his eyes, and damn it if they aren't full of tears. "I know that, son. I know you would." His smile is fond and sad and Jensen suddenly realizes that Jeff is the closest thing to a father he's ever had.
"Resetting a human lifeline takes something even more powerful than angel tears," Jeff says, and Jensen nods. "It takes the ultimate sacrifice."
"Okay," Jensen agrees immediately and without hesitation. "I'll do it."
"Jensen." Jeff licks his lips, clears his throat, and rubs the back of his neck. "You don't know what you're saying."
"I don't care," Jensen insists. "I'll do it. Whatever it takes, I'll do it. Just tell me what I have to do."
Jeff shakes his shaggy head, gritting his teeth so his dimples show, and Jensen can see how difficult this is for him, how reluctant he is to pursue this course of action.
"You'll be human, Jensen," Jeff reminds him. "If you give up your angelic existence, you'll lose Heaven forever. You'll live out your life as a human being."
"I don't care!" Jensen says again.
"You won't remember your angelic existence," Jeff goes on. "You'll be born into a human family, live your life never knowing about Heaven or –– or any of it. And that's not all. You may never meet Jared, even if you live your life at the same time. The chances of your paths ever crossing..."
Jensen feels grief welling up in his chest. "If it saves Jared, it'll be worth it," he says, softer now.
Jeff swallows, nods. "I figured you'd say that," he says. "I just wanted to be sure you understood."
He rises to his feet then, wings unfurling behind him as he walks to the bed to gaze down at Jared's sleeping form.
"Little did I know what I was doing when I sent you to him seven years ago," he says softly. "I never imagined losing you."
Jensen moves up beside his friend and lays a gentle hand on his shoulder. "You'll never lose me," he says. "You'll always know where I am."
"That's true, I guess," Jeff smiles sadly.
They stand side-by-side watching Jared sleep for another moment, then something occurs to Jensen.
"When Jared's sixteen and he prays for guidance, will you go to him?" Jensen asks. "Will you be his angel in that other lifeline?"
"I guess I can do that," Jeff nods. "I'm not kissing him, though."
"You better not!" Jensen's eyes widen in mock-horror as a flicker of jealousy rises in his chest.
Jeff explains the ritual. Jared can't be saved before he actually makes his suicide attempt, since he must be allowed to complete this lifeline before it can be reset. There's no doubt this is what Jared wants, and he has every right to make his own choices of his own free will, which is the oldest rule in the book and the only one that is absolutely ironclad.
For Jensen it's the most agonizing pain he's ever experienced, holding Jared's broken body in his arms after he plummets from the bridge. Jensen let himself appear to Jared that one last time, hoping beyond hope that Jared would remember him and that would be enough to make him change his mind.
But of course Jared is too determined to do what he's planned and decided on for so many weeks. There's no recognition in his eyes when he looks at Jensen, only a soft regret that feels like reproach, as if Jared's demanding to know why Jensen hadn't come sooner.
All Jensen can provide is a soft landing. He swoops down as Jared falls and slides under him as he hits the rocks below, ensuring that Jared feels no pain as his body shatters irreparably. Jensen's tears fall freely as he sobs his grief into Jared's broken neck, cradling his head as he gathers Jared's body against him. In death Jared's face is relaxed, relieved at last of all the suffering he's endured over the past few months. His features are still beautiful, and as Jensen lowers his mouth for a final kiss he can almost believe Jared feels it. His lips are still warm, and Jensen kisses them softly as he breathes into Jared's body, sensing rather than seeing Jeff standing over them, reciting the words of the ancient incantation.
I'm here, my love, Jensen whispers silently, sending thoughts of comfort and rest into Jared's mind, as Jensen keeps that promise, at least, made seven years ago on that warm spring day. I'm here with you, always.
Jensen feels the light before he sees it. He lifts his head as it flows around Jeff, lifting his wings like a breeze, growing brighter as it fills the space around them. It blinds him, and Jensen lifts one arm to shield his eyes so that he can see Jeff one last time, silhouetted against the radiance engulfing him. Jensen clutches Jared's body against him and closes his eyes, burying his face in Jared's neck as a sound like a million tuning forks humming in discordant frequencies grows louder, crowding out all other sound.
The last thing Jensen's aware of is a smell of burning.
PART THREE | BACK TO MASTERPOST