She pulled the man into her apartment. She didn’t know his name; Sean had mentioned it once, and the man had probably introduced himself. But she hadn’t cared enough to listen. He didn’t matter. He was just a prop to be used. It had been Sean’s idea, to have a man come into her apartment; it was meant to make Nick jealous, furthering his obsession. She hated to admit it, but it was a good idea. The man, whatever his name was, leaned down and kissed her. It was an effort, and a testament to her acting abilities, to not pull away, to instead respond in kind. She pulled away after a moment and led him past the window, down the hall into her bedroom. She knew Nick was outside watching. Once in the bedroom she sighed, annoyed that they would have to be alone together. She looked at the time and debated how long it would before she could kick the man out of her apartment. It was supposed to be convincing if she wanted Nick to believe this was a real liaison.
“You know…” the man was speaking. Oh good. He planned to fill the dull silence with evener duller conversation. “If we need this to be convincing, we could do it for real. We need to do something to pass the time, anyway.” He gave her a big bad wolf smile as he leaned in, putting one arm on the bed next to her. When he leaned in to kiss her, she shoved him hard, making him stumble.
“I’d rather kiss a toad!” She didn’t try to hide the disgust in her voice.
His lascivious look turned to one of anger at her words. “You bitch!” Before she could react, the man was being slammed against the wall. She knew Nick had been watching, would be jealous, but she had never expected him to go so far.
“Get out.” Nick’s voice was a low growl and the other man began to protest. But when Nick let him go he had the good sense to get out while he still could.
Nick turned to Adalind then, “Who was he?”
“No one important.” She answered honestly. Nick still looked murderous, and she decided he needed further assurance, “He was a work acquaintance. He said he needed to come over to discuss a case. I guess he had other ideas in mind. He won’t be coming around anymore, I can promise you that.”
Nick nodded, apparently satisfied. She patted the side of the bed next to her in invitation, not that Nick seemed to need it. He was already moving towards her, leaning over her. She leaned into it when he leaned down to kiss her.
“You’re mine.” His voice was low and gruff, and she wound her hand into his shirt to pull him back in.
“Always.” She wondered why it felt so right to say. She didn’t know when this had stopped feeling like a game, and like something else. But at that moment she had more important thing to worry about.
She laid in bed with her head resting against his chest. His breathing was a hollow echo.
“Nick, I don’t want there to be any secrets between us. I know you know about the seven keys. I don’t know what the keys lead to, but I know there is a lot of important people who want them. I’ve heard that you Aunt Marie might have had one of them. You’d tell me if you knew something about that, wouldn’t you?” He was putty in her hands. He would give her the world, all she had to do was ask.
“I don’t want you involved in that.” His voice was firm, broaching no argument.
She sat up, looking at him; it wasn’t an answer, at least not the one she had expected. “Nick…” She started, but he cut her off.
“That part of my life is too dangerous. I don’t want you involved in the keys, or anything that has to do with anything that might put you in danger. I’m not going to let anything happen to you, and I’m not going to put you in harm’s way.”
“Trust me, I can take of myself. And I’ll be better equipped to do that if you tell me everything you know about those keys.”
“I can’t lose you Adalind, I won’t. I’ll keep you safe, no matter what it takes. A lot of people are after those keys, a lot of dangerous people. The less involved you are the better.”
No one had ever tried to protect her before. It was an unfamiliar feeling to have someone want to protect her, not use her towards their own ends. The spell should have made him obsessed with her and made him pliable to her will. It looked like there was more to the Grimm than she had realized. This might be more difficult than she had anticipated.
She put her head back, her blonde hair moving around her shoulders. She ran her hand down his arm. “I’ve wanted you. Wanted this.” Her voice was soft as she took his hand and started to lead him. He could smell her perfume as she pushed him back onto the bed. He wanted to be with her, close to her, she could see it in the way he looked at her. He pulled her down on top of him and rolled them over so he was on top of her.
The alarm blared waking her from her dream. Sleep clung to her and it took an effort to pull herself out of it. She could almost feel Nick beside her as she reached for her phone to turn off the alarm. She tried to put the dream out of her head as she headed to the shower to get ready for work. The water ran, and she tried to get Nick out of her head. She tried to drown it out, but it was like he was still there with her. It felt less like a dream and more like a memory. She wasn’t supposed to be the one effected by the Grimm. She supposed she should take it as a good sign. If she was feeling like this then the Grimm must be going crazy for her.
She came out of the shower, her hair dripping wet, a towel wrapped around her, affording her a modicum of privacy. There was someone there in the room; she could smell the lingering scent of his cologne. She could almost feel his presence, lurking nearby in the shadows, a prey sense, alerting her to the presence of a predator. She pretended not to notice. It was a game to her, letting him pretend that he was in control, that he had gotten the drop on her. She made her way into the living room and she heard his steps as he followed her, finally revealing himself.
“Sean, you surprised me. I had no idea you were there.” She didn’t bother trying to sound surprised. It was a game to her, but one she was already bored playing.
“How has your progress been going with your plan?” Sean asked, the animosity in his voice was not lost on her. As far as he was concerned she had botched the whole thing, and what happened next was on her.
She pulled her towel a little more securely around her. She wondered what he would do if she just dropped it right then and there. Perhaps that would be enough to break the careful facade he put up. It was almost intriguing enough to try.
“It’s going well, he’s rather taken with me, if I do say so myself. It won’t be long before he will be offering me anything I want. You should have more faith in me; I do know what I’m doing.” Sean didn’t need to know that her most recent interaction with the Grimm had ended with an implied threat. There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that her plan would work.
“You better. I’d hate to have to be forced to fix this mess.” Sean’s voice was hard, and she knew he meant it as a threat. She bristled at the implications. Did he think she was such a screw up that she would ruin everything?
“Why don’t you just leave the thinking to me? Manipulating men is my specialty; I’ve had plenty of practice.” She looked at him knowingly, letting the full implications of her words sink in.
He reacted before she could move. He grabbed her in a painful grip and pulled her towards him. It appeared that she had crossed the line by implying that he too was under her spell.
“This could end badly for all of us. You had one task, and you couldn’t even do that. If you want to play these games then that’s on you. But if this ends in disaster you might not like what I have to do to clean up the pieces.” His voice was as hard as his grip, and she tried to pull away, but he wouldn’t allow it. She pulled away again, harder this time and he let her go. She didn’t respond as he turned to go, slamming the door behind him on his way out.
She stood still for a moment, thinking about what he had said. There was no way this could end badly. She knew what she was doing, she had everything under control. It was Sean who would learn to regret ever doubting her.
She pulled the shades closed, but before she did she peered out into the darkness, trying to confirm what she already suspected. A car was parked across the street, the driver was shrouded in shadow but she already knew who it was. She smiled to herself as she closed the curtains.
Adalind waited a few days, gave her spell time to take effect, she wasn’t in any hurry. She would get what she wanted. Her cellphone vibrated on the counter and she wondered if it was the Grimm. When she looked down, she was disappointed to see it was Sean. She pressed ignore. She knew what he was going to say, and she didn’t need to hear it. He hadn’t heard from her in a few days and he didn’t like having anything out of his control. But this wasn’t his plan anymore, it was hers. She was the one in control. She was done letting others make decisions, not when she was clearly knew better than all of them. Her phone vibrated again, it was Sean again. She hit ignore again. He couldn’t take a hint, it would seem. Almost immediately his name reappeared on the screen. He wasn’t going to stop calling her. She sighed; there was nothing she could say that would appease him. But in time he would learn to have more faith in her. Or he wouldn’t. Either way, she was done listening to him. She set his ring tone to silent. Problem solved, at least for the time being. She smiled to herself, Sean had underestimated her. That was a mistake he would only make once.
She waited what she suspected would be a decent amount of time, three days to be exact, and then hung around outside a coffee shop she had seen Nick frequent. She waited until he was coming through the door and then she “accidentally” walked into him, spilling her coffee down the front of his shirt.
“I’m so sorry! I didn’t even see you there.” She grabbed napkins off the table beside her and started to rub at his shirt, at first he was smiling and started to tell her not to worry about it. He was all grace and charm. She saw the moment he realized who she was. His smile fell away and turned instead into the anger she was familiar with from him. He grabbed hold of her wrist and pulled her away from him. People were looking at them and she knew Nick wouldn’t do anything to her. Not here at least. He was a Grimm, and she was a hexenbeist, and the significance of that was starting to take effect in him. But right now they were in public and he was a cop and she was a patron who had accidentally spilled her coffee all over him. If he did anything to her right now it would look like an act of aggression over an innocent mistake.
“What are you doing here? Are you following me?”
“Get over yourself, Nick. I was getting coffee. This is a public space. I’m sorry about what happened, I shouldn’t have come to your work to talk to you. But I want us to be friends. You saved my life; you didn’t have to help me. You could have let the Queen Mellifer kill me, but you chose to save me. That means something.”
His grip on her wrist tightened, and he leaned in close, “It means that I made a mistake. I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing, but it won’t work. I know who, and what you are. If it comes down to it again I won’t be there to save you.”
“That’s not very cop like of you, Nick.”
“I’m not just a cop and you know that.”
“People are watching, so I suggest you let me go now or I will scream and then you can explain to these nice people exactly who and what you are. See how well that works out.” Her voice was a harsh whisper, and she didn’t try to pretend to be sweet now. It didn’t matter anymore, her plan was in motion and soon the Grimm would be hers.
He looked down as if he had forgotten he was still holding onto her. He let go of her and pulled away as if he had been burned. He made a point of smiling then, false charm in his voice; he spoke more loudly now, “Don’t worry about it. It’s really fine. Believe me, I’ve been through worse. A little coffee isn’t going to hurt me. I’ll be seeing you around.” He pushed past her and she took a moment to watch him before she left. ‘I’ll be seeing around’ the words rung in her mind. She didn’t know what he had meant by that. It would appear that her Grimm had plans of his own for her.
Adalind’s heels clicked as she walked across the hard linoleum floor of the police station. She was here for a specific purpose and she wasn’t going to let anyone stop her. Not that they could. She wasn’t one to back down once she set her mind to something. She looked around careful to avoid to Sean. She could see him in his office talking on the phone and made a point to stay out of his line of sight. This was going against what he had told her to do. A direct order, in his mind, was something to be followed. But she wasn’t one of his underlings, bowing to his every wish. He thought he was smart. He thought he knew better than her. But she would show him. She would show him what a hexenbeist could do. He had told her to go after Nick’s friends, his friends were the best way to get to the Grimm. But why pussyfoot around? Why go the long route to get what she wanted? She could let him think he was in charge, but she knew she was the one in control. She always got what she wanted, and she wanted the Grimm. At least she wanted what the Grimm could do for her. No reason playing games, at least not the games Sean wanted her to play, when she knew how to get to the Grimm.
It was almost too easy. She already had her potion ready in a small vile in her pocket. She watched and waited until Nick left his desk. She passed by and with a small movement poured her concoction into his coffee. She was still there when his partner came back and sat down. He looked at her questioningly.
“Can I help you with something?”
“I hope so.” She kept her voice sweet and soft, “Is Nick around? I wanted to talk to him.”
“Is something the matter?” He grew tense and she could see him shifting into cop mode, ready to take on whatever evil might be troubling her.
“It’s nothing, really. This is probably weird, but I wanted to thank him. He saved my life recently and I guess I just wanted him to know how grateful I am. I probably look like a stalker or something.” She played her part perfectly, putting just the right amount of embarrassment into her voice. She was the damsel in distress, coming to thank her knight in shining armor from saving her from the big bad dragon.
Hank responded as she had expected him to, relaxing. “There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Nick is a good cop and few people take the time to show their appreciation. It’s not an easy job; it’s good to know we make a difference.”
“Oh you do! I have always respected the work that you do. If it weren’t for people like you and Nick the world would descend into chaos! It is men like you that keep the rest of us safe!” Her voice was dripping with saccharine sweetness. She tried not to overdo it though, she didn’t want to come across as a badge bunny or like she was trying to get on his good side.
Nick returned to his desk his smile fading as soon as he saw her. She could see he was prepared for war.
“Adalind. What are you doing here?” There was a sneer in his voice and she chose to misunderstand his meaning.
“You remember my name?” She smiled sweetly as if genuinely pleased that he actually remembered her, and that she wasn’t just another face he had met in his considerable career as a cop.
“Of course I remember you. I don’t think I’ll ever forget you.” His voice was harsh, and she recoiled this time, not dramatically, just a small movement back as if she didn’t understand his tone.
“I’m sorry. This is probably inappropriate, showing up at your work without warning. I’m not a stalker, I swear. I just wanted to thank you. You saved my life, and I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for you. That’s all, I wanted to say thank you, tell you how grateful I am.” She smiled tentatively keeping her voice uncertain, as if she was upset this wasn’t going the way she had expected. Nick’s expression didn’t change and for a moment she thought Hank might say something, in her defense or in Nick’s she wasn’t sure, but he stayed silent.
“Fine you’ve said your peace. Now go.” Nick’s words were severe and she let her smile fad away. She turned to go then, wiping an imaginary tear from eye as she spoke, “I’m sorry to have bothered you.”
She walked away and as she did she heard Hank talking low, “What was that about?” She didn’t wait to hear Nick’s response. She didn’t need to. It didn’t matter what Nick told Hank. He could lie or tell him everything. She had done what she came to do. She looked back briefly, just because she had to be sure. She saw Nick taking a sip of his coffee and she turned away to ensure he wouldn’t see the smile that curved her lips. Her plan was in place now, and no matter what Sean said, there was no going back now. It had played out as she had meant it to.
“I’ll take you to Olympus, you can be by my side forever. I need you, I need you with me always.” How could he say no? Whoever denied a god what they wanted? He wanted this, of course he did, but something was stopping him.
Jensen woke with a start, he was having that dream again. He’d been having the same recurring dream for as long as he could remember. He was in ancient Greece being courted by a god, but until now the god had always been a faceless shadow. But now that god had taken the form of Jared. It was bad enough that his unconscious had cast himself being courted by a Greek god, but now his sleeping mind had decided it was necessary to drag Jared into. The morning the sun shined through his window, a reminder that the cruel clock wouldn’t stop ticking just because he was hung over. Persephone jumped up on the bed, happy to finally see he was awake. She purred and pushed her head against him gently, then more insistently when he didn’t immediately attend to her. He searched on his nightstand for his glasses while reviewing the previous night’s events, and trying to remember if he had said anything too mortifying to Jared. It was then that he heard the painful crack as something struck his window. He had an awful feeling he already knew what it was, but he went outside to check. And there it was, just as he had feared. A bird had flown straight into his window. The poor creature was laying still, a raven with long glossy feathers now skewed at odd angles. Perhaps it was silly to get sentimental over a bird, but it was a beautiful creature and he hated to see it come to such an untimely end.
“Such a tragedy.” Jensen jumped at the unexpected voice, as he realized Misha was close beside him. Jensen supposed he must have been outside when the bird hit the window, probably coming over to see if it was still alive. He thought Misha might be mocking him at first, for showing such sadness over a bird. But when he looked at Misha, Misha he didn’t look amused, his concern appeared to be sincere.
“Then again…” Misha bent down and picked up the small limp form. Jensen couldn’t fathom what he was doing as Misha smoothed his thumb gently down the raven’s feathers. And just like that the bird started to stir, feathers ruffling as it sat up and cocked its head to the side as if studying Misha for a moment. Then he stretched out his wings and flew out of Misha’s hand.
“Not such a tragedy after all, it appears he was only stunned,” Misha said.
Jensen felt something untwist inside of him. “I had been so sure the raven was dead, it hadn’t occurred to me it might still be alive. I could have sworn it wasn’t breathing. But it looks like you have the magic touch.”
“Yeah, I guess I do.” Misha was smirking now and Jensen could tell it was taking a considerable amount of restraint not to comment on what else his “magic touch” could do.
“You know,” Misha continued, “there’s a lecture I was going to attend on death imagery in ancient mythology. I know that’s an area of interest for you, I’d love it if you would accompany me.”
Jensen thought about the night before, the way he felt when Jared touched him. But Misha wasn’t exactly asking him on a date, and he didn’t know where Jared thought this was going, maybe Jared saw it as nothing more than a drunken mistake.
Misha seemed to already know the direction of his thoughts, “It’s fine, talk to Jared first. I have a feeling he won’t mind too much if you come with me.”
Jensen nodded, not sure how Misha already knew or why he was so certain Jared wouldn’t care.
His headache had receded somewhat by the time he had to go back to his classes, but he had still seen better days. He was starting to feel more sympathetic to his students that came to class in such a state. He wasn’t surprised to see Jared waiting for him outside his building, looking for all the world like a statue come to life. There was nothing in his appearance or demeanor that would indicate how much he had drank just the night before.
He didn’t try to hide the smile that came upon seeing the man, and he was graced by a smile in return. He knew he should just drop the whole thing, no reason to bring up what Misha had said. But there was a part of him that wanted to go with Misha; it was just a lecture after all. It couldn’t hurt to bring it up after all, if nothing else he would have a clearer idea of where Jared thought this was going. “Hey Jared, look, I don’t have a lot of time before class starts, so I’m just going to say it. Misha asked me to go to a lecture with him. I was going to say no, but he said I should talk to you first, that he didn’t think you would mind.”
Jared’s shoulders tensed and his smile faded into a look of resignation. “Misha was right, I don’t mind. I shouldn’t have said what I did before. I only was trying to warn you away because I knew Misha was interested in you too and I didn’t want him getting to you first. You should go with Misha.”
Jensen’s heart broke a little at that, at least now he knew. One date and Jared wasn’t interested in taking it any farther.
“Yeah, okay, thanks.” Jensen’s words were clipped and he turned to leave only to have Jared grab his arm and spin him back towards him.
“Jensen, don’t misunderstand. I’m not giving up on you, but I want you to be happy, and I know I can’t make this decision for you. You need to decide what, and who will make you happy.” There was that intensity in his eyes again and Jensen felt his skin tingling where Jared’s hand rested. He wanted to tell Jared that he was all he needed, that he didn’t need Misha. But all he did was nod, he didn’t entirely understand what was going on, but Jared was right. He needed to figure it out for himself.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” Misha asked, as they left the lecture hall at the end of the evening. “The idea of death in Greco-Roman mythology.”
Jensen had enjoyed the lecture immensely, and had found it easy to lose himself listening to a subject he cared so deeply about. But it admittedly hadn’t left him with quite the same feeling that Misha had taken away, it would seem.
“I’ve always thought it rather severe. If a person died they had to have a coin under their tongue or they would be denied access across the river Styx and wouldn’t be able to enter the underworld. It seems a bit harsh, doesn’t it?”
Misha narrowed his eyes at Jensen, annoyance clear in his voice, “It wasn’t severe. It was protocol. There were rules and order needed to be maintained. It was a different time then.”
Jensen held up his hands in surrender, this seemed to be a touchy subject for Misha and he wasn’t going to argue the point.
“Sorry,” Misha looked a little embarrassed, “it doesn’t matter now I suppose. Those times are over. But that’s not what I meant. I meant the part about being reborn. If a person lived a good enough life, devoted themselves fully to the gods, then they could be reborn to live their life again. It’s a beautiful idea, to have a chance to do it all over again, another chance to make different choices, live your life once again, to find new love…or to reclaim old ones. Even after life is over, to be given the chance to try again, to make up for past mistakes, who wouldn’t want that?”
“I suppose, in a way that would be a good thing. But I think it might be sad, to live your life only to come back again, to have to lose those close to you all over again. It sounds like such a lonely existence. I guess I’d rather try to get it right the first time. If you make the most of the time you have you don’t need to do it over again.”
Misha nodded at that, “you do have a point.” And then he was pulling Jensen into him, kissing him slowly. Misha kissed like an oncoming storm, it was slow and intent, unhurried but all consuming. Jensen knew he should push Misha away but there was something about it that felt so familiar, so right. It was as if he belonged in Misha’s arms, as if he had always belonged there.
When he pulled away he was breathing hard, “Jared,” was all he could bring himself to say. He wanted this, but he couldn’t deny what he had with Jared.
“Give me time, Jensen, give me a chance and I’ll make you forget all about him.”
“I should be going, I had fun Misha, but I need to go.” He turned and left before Misha could make him change his mind.
The next morning he found a bottle of wine on his desk with a note, “I had fun, let’s do it again, J.” Beside it was a copy of the book written by the lecturer from the night before, with a note that read, “Give me a chance Jensen; I know you won’t regret it, M.”
He didn’t know what to think, so he put both gifts away and spent the rest of the day trying not to think about what this all meant.
That night Jared managed to convince him to go out, to Karaoke of all things. It wasn’t something he ever saw himself having the courage to do, but half through Love Shack he realized he was having a lot of fun.
When he got home Misha was waiting for him. The man had managed to find an article that covered some of the less known Greeks gods and their significance in ancient mythology. He stayed up for hours discussing it with Misha.
It went on like this for a while and the gifts kept coming, becoming more and more elaborate. Jared would bring him flowers or alcohol, and with Misha it was usually something literary and often hard to find.
His days started to pass by in an almost idyllic haze. Jared brought out a side of him that he didn’t know existed, he felt free with Jared, like he could let go and do and be whatever he wanted. But with Misha he could share his interests and no matter how long he went on about a particular myth Misha always looked intently interested. There was a freedom in Jared and a dark intensity in Misha, and both were undeniably appealing. He felt better when he was with them, like a part of him that he didn’t know was missing, was finally whole again. But underneath it all was a constant thrum of guilt, he knew that sooner or later he was going to have to choose between them, and that would mean cutting the other out of his life. The thought was almost unbearable, because as surely as spring gives way to winter, Jensen knew that he was falling in love with both Jared and Misha. It was with this realization that he knew what he had to do, even if it might kill him to do it.
“Jared, we need to talk.” Jared was standing beneath the old oak tree waiting for Jensen to come by on his way to class. There was a raven sitting in one of the branches watching him. If he didn’t know better he would have sworn it was the same one that had flown into his window. He must be losing it if he thought a raven was spying on him.
Jensen could see that Jared was going to say something, but he started talking instead. He had to get this over with, and whatever Jared was going to say would only make it harder. “I can’t keep doing this; it isn’t fair to you or Misha. You said I needed to decide what I wanted, well, this is what I want. I want time and space to figure this out. I can’t keep going like this, having you both a part of my life, knowing I’m going to lose one of you eventually. It isn’t fair to any of us.”
Jared took it surprisingly well, he just nodded along while Jensen talked, and when Jensen was done, all he said was, “If that’s what you think is best.” Jensen didn’t know what to make of that, but he was relieved all the same.
He had the same talk with Misha that night; or rather he had the talk with Cerberus since he couldn’t bring himself to look Misha in the eyes. Cerberus, for his part, was only too happy to have Jensen’s attention and at the end of Jensen’s speech showed his feelings on the matter by licking his face.
He’d never felt pain like this before, the metal had gone in deep and he knew it was the end. Every breath was agony. With his final aching he called out to the gods one last time. He had time for one last prayer. The pain of death brought clarity, he would be born again and the cycle would start again. In that moment he knew what he had to do, what his last desperate prayer would be.
Jensen woke with the same feeling of pain and fear that always stayed with him when he woke from his recurring dream turned nightmare. But this time he felt the painful ache of loss. Come morning light he was wondering if he had done the right thing. Persephone pushed at his hand, insistent on his attentions as always. He noticed that the sun wasn’t shining in his window that morning, even though he didn’t remember shutting the shades the night before. In fact, there appeared to be a shadow falling across his bed, one that wasn’t there the day before. A quick inspection confirmed that there was, indeed, something outside his window. There was a grape vine to be precise, one that had apparently grown up overnight, and was already laden with grapes, bending down towards his window. That was….that was impossible. And yet here it was. This sort of thing didn’t happen, not in in real life, and certainly not to him. This was the sort of thing that happened in one of the legends he was, admittedly, enamored with. But even if they did happen, they didn’t happen to people like him. It happened to warriors, and men of epic accomplishments that would stand the test of time, not to mythology professors. He was going insane. That had to be it. That was the most logical explanation. A raven was spying on him, a grape vine growing up overnight, it only made sense that he had lost his mind. It was the only thing that made sense. Maybe he had hit his head harder than he thought when Misha’s dog jumped him; maybe he was in a coma dreaming all of this. Crazy or not he had a feeling he knew who he needed to talk to.
He went over to Misha’s door and knocked decisively, knowing he had to go through with this before he had time to change his mind. Misha opened the door, looking unsurprised to see Jensen standing there.
“We need to talk. Is Jared around?” Jensen knew it was probably a silly question, but it felt like wherever he went as of late, Misha and Jared were always close by.
“When isn’t he around?” Misha’s smile was twisted, his voice disapproving.
He should have known it was coming, but he still jumped when he felt Jared’s hand on his shoulder.
“Jensen, what’s going on?”
“I think that’s what I should be asking. I want to know what has been happening with me, and you and all of this.” He waved his hand vaguely as if he could fully capture the last few weeks with one gesture.
“You deserve to know the truth,” Misha began, “I know this might be difficult to believe but I think on some level you already know. I’m Hades and Jared is Bacchus. And you were once a great warrior, long ago. Bacchus and I fell desperately in love with you and vied for your attention. We both tried to win you over. But in the end you said that you couldn’t choose between us. You were fatally wounded in battle and I think you knew you would be given the chance to be reborn. You made the only choice, I think, you felt you could in the circumstances. You prayed to the fates to save you from having to choose between us. You died and they ensured that you would be reborn in another time and place, so that you would be lost to us, saving you from needing to choose. I, we, have been searching for you ever since. When we finally found you again we agreed to let you decide, once and for all, which one of us you truly loved. We thought if you didn’t remember who you were in your past life, or who we were, it would be easier for you make a decision. But it appears that our attempts have ended as badly as the first time. We had agreed to only tell you the truth once you had chosen either me or Jared. But someone decided to overplay his hand by putting a grape vine outside your window.”
Jared just shrugged, “I’ve never been patient, and besides, he already chose. Like the first time, he chose neither of us. I figured it was time he knew the truth.”
“So you’re Bacchus,” Jensen said, trying to keep his voice steady as he addressed Jared, “and you’re Hades.” It’s what they had said, but Jensen still needed to be sure.
“That’s right,” Misha said, looking for all the world like this was a perfectly normal conversation to be having.
Jared looked concerned, studying Jensen for his reaction. “Jensen? Are you okay? I know this can be a lot for anyone to take in, it might not even seem real right now.”
Jensen’s head was spinning as he tried to understand what this all meant. But one thought prevailed above everything else. “I knew it! I mean, I didn’t know, but I knew! I’ve always believed in the old gods. People can say what they want, but I always knew those stories were true. They were too real to just be myths.”
Both Jared and Misha looked surprised but relieved at Jensen’s reaction.
“Well,” Misha hedged, “the stories aren’t entirely true, they’re mostly true, but there has been some…exaggeration, and embellishments over the years. But for the most part you’re correct, the old stories are true and the gods of Olympus lived and still live, just in a different way.”
“What about Persephone?” Jensen said it before he could think it through. With everything that had happened it probably wasn’t the most pressing question, but he couldn’t help it, Hades had no business acting interested in someone like Jensen with the goddess Persephone as his consort.
Misha rolled his eyes. “That wasn’t quite the epic love story you might think. When you caught my attention she was only too happy to use that as an excuse to leave me for good. She said I never loved her the way I loved you, she was right of course. She’s still around. She was always quite the diva, but once humans invented cameras it only got worse. I mean, you’ve seen the Kardashians, haven’t you? I guess some of us never got over being worshipped.”
“Persephone’s a Kardashian?” Jensen asked. He had always loved the myth of Persephone and now to learn it was her face he’d seen smiling from magazines was actually a little disappointing.
Jared answered him this time. “I think you’d find most of the modern celebrities have a divine counterpart. Once people stopped believing, we had to move on, learn to adapt. Some of us chose quiet lives among humans, others chose to pursue fame and fortune.”
“How is this even possible? I think I’d notice if there were a bunch of people who just never aged.”
“Are you sure?” Jared asked. “In the age of plastic surgery you never can tell how old someone really is.” His smirk was all Jared. “Seriously, though, we can change our appearance. We live out a normal human life, then take on another form, another visage, and start the cycle over again. It can become very lonely, becoming someone new, over and over again. Only other gods know who we really are, and let’s be honest, most of us never liked each other to begin with.”
“You think mother-in-laws are bad, imagine having one who’s an immortal goddess.” Misha shivered at the memory. “Believe me, been there, done that, never again.”
“We’ve both been trying to gain your attention Jensen,” Jared said, “I was hoping you might eventually remember something from your former life. But when you didn’t I wasn’t sure you’d ever be able to believe the truth. I’ve been looking for you for so long, now that I’ve found you I can’t let you go again. We can make you immortal, whichever one of us you choose. You’ll never have to be alone again.”
“What about Persephone, I mean cat Persephone, not the…you know, other one. Can you make her immortal to?” Jensen knew it was a ridiculous question to be asking right now, but she was important to him and he was beyond caring how weird and ridiculous he might look.
“Yes,” Jared said, looking decidedly amused, “we can make her immortal too. Now, it’s time to decide.”
“I…I can’t do that. I could never choose one of you over the other. And I don’t think I should have to. Maybe it took dying and being reborn to figure out it, but I know what I want now. I choose to be happy, and I’m only happy with both of you in my life. I love you both, I don’t want to have to decide. I won’t decide. If what you’re saying is true then I couldn’t chose between you the first time and I can’t chose between you now. I understand now, why I feel the way I do when I’m with you both. When we’re apart it’s like there something missing, like I’m not quite right unless I have you both in my life. I can’t possibly choose one or the other. I choose you both.” Misha was studying him carefully and Jared’s expression was unreadable. The silence stretched out between them into an eternity before Misha finally spoke.
“I would do anything for you Jensen, even put up with an eternity of Jared’s smug smile.” Misha’s voice was fond and Jensen had a feeling, that as different as they might be, Misha could learn to love Jared, especially if they weren’t competing for Jensen’s affections.
Jensen looked to Jared, desperate for Jared to say yes, he was so close to having everything he’d, apparently, spent two lives wanting.
“Well, okay then. If that’s settled I’d say we have a lot of time to make up for.”
Jensen couldn’t agree more, he’d spent far too long without the men he loved, and now that he had them he planned on making every moment count.
- Title: Gods Among Men
- Pairings: Misha/Jared/Jensen
- Warnings: Implied sexual situations
- Rating: Teen
- Word count: 8,421
- Summary: Jensen lives a simple, but happy life teaching mythology at a university. But when Jared and Misha both come into his life he starts to understand that love takes many forms, and the gods of mythology he so dearly loves may have a more personal interest in him than he ever imagined.
- This was written as a gift for Raths_Kitten as a part of the 2015 Dean/Cas Xmas exchange. This was based on the prompt "Misha and Jared are gods both vying for mortal!Jensen's attention." The whole story was loosely based on the story of Psyche and Eros, and includes references to real Greek gods and myths. I tried to stick as close to the original mythology as possible, but I did change some aspects for the sake of the story. Mythology is one of my biggest areas of interest and I was unbelievably excited to see that prompt. This story was a lot of fun to write, and initially started out as a more traditional retelling of Psyche and Eros with Jared, Jensen, and Misha. But somewhere along the way it turn into something completely different. Raths_kitten, I really hope that you enjoyed this and that you don't mind the direction I decided to take this story in! I had a lot of fun writing this and I really hope it isn't too far off from what you had in mind. A million thanks to my amazing Beta Tipsy_kitty who was immensely helpful and kind enough to beta this for me at the last minute. Any remaining mistakes are my own. :)
“Why did he do that?” One of his students asked, a young woman in the third row by the name of Katie.
“Hades was a god, he had the whole underworld at his command,” the girl continued, “why would he want to drag Persephone along with him? He had the vastness of the underworld at his disposal, doesn’t it seem like more work than it’s worth, to try to drag someone down there, someone who doesn’t want to be there in the first place?”
Jensen knew all the right answers. He knew what he should say: that Persephone was a symbol of fertility and life, and that the story represented the way plants die in the winter and come back to life in the spring. Hades represented winter, and the inevitable death that came with it. He knew all the right answers, but he had never been able to think of the old gods in that way. He had never been able to see Persephone and Hades as symbols and representations. They were too real too him. He knew what he was supposed to say, but instead he said, “I think even the gods can become lonely.”
“Have you seen the new groundskeeper?” Katie was whispering to one of her friends. He shuffled papers on his desk pretending to be completely uninterested in their conversations. Katie had, had a crush on him since day one. Aside from how inappropriate it would be to date one of his students, she wasn’t exactly his type. He was relieved that her not exactly subtle romantic interests might actually be directed towards another unsuspecting soul for a change.
“He’s huge, he’s got to be well over six foot, and you know what they say…big hands, big feet…big shoes. He was outside earlier, we should go see if he’s still out there. He could plow my garden anytime.” They both left giggling, and Jensen sighed inwardly. The new hire, Jared was his name, had been all the talk of the staff and students for the better part of the day. He simply didn’t understand melting into a giggling mess over some attractive face. He for one had better things to do than to spend his time trying to catch a glimpse of the new hire. Besides, he had already tried looking outside and the new groundskeeper was nowhere to be seen.
He made his way out of the Humanities building and was definitely not looking around to try and catch a glimpse of Jared. It was a beautiful sunny day, and if he happened to be looking around while he walked it was simply to better take in all the beauty that was around him. He was so busynot looking for Jared that he nearly walked straight into the man himself.
He took a step back in surprise and pushed his glasses up his nose as he took in the man standing before him. He wasn’t as tall as he had expect, in fact he wasn’t that much taller than Jared, but he was exactly as handsome as all the rumors he had heard. Jensen bit his tongue just in time to stop himself from blurting out the first thing that came to mind, ‘This is a day of legend for surely the gods walk among us.’ What came out instead was, “I’m uh….Jensen, and you’re uh Jared.” That was much better. He had only just met the man and he already sounded like he couldn’t properly form a sentence.
He sighed, running a hand down his face. “Let me try that again, hi, my name is Jensen, I’m the mythology teacher. And you must be the rumored Jared; you’ve been quite the talk as of late.”
Jared was smiling; clearly amused, but not outright laughing at him and Jensen appreciated the effort he was making.
“So people have been talking about me? What exactly have they been saying? It’s only my first day; I certainly hope I don’t have a bad reputation already.” Jared looked at Jensen expectantly, waiting for an answer. Jensen was pretty sure Jared already knew the answer. Jared didn’t seem like the sort of person who didn’t know exactly what people were saying about him.
“Oh, you know the usual, ‘the university’s hired a new groundskeeper’ that sort of thing. Jensen did his best to sound casual, leaving out all the innuendos and speculation that had peppered what was being said about Jared. One of the other professors had gone as far as telling Jensen he should definitely meet Jared, since Jensen was so interested in mythology he would certainly be interested in meeting a real flesh and blood sex god. At the time Jensen had thought it a bit juvenile, but now, seeing Jared in person, he couldn’t disagree with the assessment.
“I’ve been hearing about you to,” Jared said looking assessing at Jensen. “From what I’ve heard you’re lectures on mythology are something to hear. No one talks about Greco-Roman mythology quite like you.”
“Is that so?” Jensen knew his classes were popular, but he was surprised that Jared had already heard about him, news of a new hire traveled fast, but Jensen was old news among the staff and students, he was surprised anyone would feel the need to fill Jared in.
“From what I’ve heard you make mythology come alive.” Jared took a step closer, “You talk about the gods like their real and living. You don’t teach it like they are antiquated ideas of a dead religion.” He took another step closer, nearly closing the distance between them, Jensen knew he should step back, he had only just met this man, but he couldn’t make himself move away. There was an intensity to his voice, like Jensen was someone worth taking note of. Jared continued, “I’ve always been interested in mythology myself. No one knew sex and love like the Greek gods. People can say what they want about movie stars and singers, but if you ask me there has never been a sex idol quite like Bacchus, god of wine, madness and…ecstasy. There’s something very appealing about the idea, don’t you think? Worshipping him encouraged letting go completely, giving into madness and frenzy. It was like being stripped away of everything and giving into to who you truly are, underneath all the restrictions and expectations of society, to be only you and to give into you’re every desire. There is no freedom quite like that, don’t you agree?”
“Hi!” It was Katie’s perky voice that broke through before Jensen could answer. “You must be Jared, I’ve heard a lot about you, and, I must say, you don’t disappoint.” Her smile was sweet and flirtatious and she didn’t even try to hide the way her eyes roamed over every inch of him.
Jared’s face contorted in anger, almost a snarl, but only for a second, before it smoothed out once more to a neutral expression. Brief as it was, it was enough to make Katie take a step away, her smile wavering. “I was having a conversation with Jensen, so if you don’t mind…” Jared didn’t even try to hide the annoyance in his voice and Katie’s smile finally faded for good this time as she took another step back.
“Yeah of course, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
Whatever spell Jensen had been under while Jared spoke was broken now and Jensen took advantage of the opportunity to make his escape. He had only just met the man but somehow the conversation had already started to head in a rather inappropriate direction. Even so, he found himself reluctant to leave. With no small effort he said, “its fine, really, I should be going. It was nice meeting you Jared, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you around. And Katie, I’ll see you in class tomorrow.” He did his best to ignore the awkward tension that followed, or the decidedly displeased look Jared was giving him. He walked away, not looking back.
He lived close to the university which was a convenience worth the price for rent he had to pay. He thought about the day that had proceeded and what he had said. He hoped he was getting through to his students, he wanted them to understand the beauty of the stories the way he did. At times he felt like no one appreciated the Greek gods like he did, no one, except for Jared, it would seem. The university spent a lot of money keeping the grass green, and the hedges looking nice. He had always thought it seemed like quite a waste of money, but today he was starting to appreciate the importance of good gardening. He was pulled from his thoughts by someone shouting, “Cerberus, no!” right before a huge weight hit him and he fell to the ground, nearly crushed by the animal on top of him. He had enough time to think that being mauled by the guard of Hades was a fitting way to die for someone like him, right before he felt a wet tongue slobbering over his face.
“Cerberus, no, bad dog. You get off him.” The man, Cerberus’ owner presumably, sounded more amused than upset, perhaps belying the authoritative tone he was going for.
Cerberus barked once, delighted, and then went back to slobbering over Jensen, before being pulled off him. Cerberus gave a low whine, clearly distraught at being separated from his new friend.
“I think he likes you. Are you okay? He doesn’t mean any harm, he’s friendly enough. He just doesn’t know his own size.” Jensen opened his eyes to find a black blur above him, being held back by a man shaped blur. He felt around on the ground next to him until he came in contact with his glasses. Once they were on he could see his attacker and his savior clearly for the first time.
His savior wasn’t that tall, or at least Jensen didn’t think so, it was hard to tell lying on the ground looking up at him. He had dark hair and the bluest eyes Jensen had ever seen. The dog, Cerberus, was a breed Jensen didn’t recognize, beyond that it was huge, towering over where he laid, panting with its big tongue lolling to the side.
The man reached out a hand to pull Jensen to his feet, “I’m Misha, and I think you already met Cerberus here.” His laugh was easy and light and did strange things to Jensen’s insides.
“I’m Jensen, and yeah I’m fine, no harm done.” He reached down to pick up one of the books he had dropped but Misha beat him to it.
“Greek mythology? That’s an interesting subject.”
“I teach it at the university. I know it seems pretty pointless to a lot of people, old gods and a dead religion and all that. But I like it. There is something beautiful about it, the idea of being able to go to an altar to worship and leave gifts for gods in a bid to win their affections. There are times I wish I could have gone to worship at their altars.” Jensen wondered if he should have said that, it wasn’t a sentiment he usually expressed. And he hadn’t known Misha that long; he didn’t want to come across like he was crazy.
“And the gods are lesser for it. Any god would be privileged to win your devotion. Although, I doubt you would have need for a tribute. Any god worth worshipping would be honored just to have you kneel at their altar.”
Jensen’s eyes widened and he pushed his glasses back up his nose while he searched for the words that had decided to leave him. “I uh, that’s…”
Misha smiled at his clear embarrassment, “I’ll let you go. I think I’ve done enough harm. But I just moved in next door, I guess that makes me your new neighbor. I’ll be seeing you, Jensen.” He watched as Misha and Cerberus turned to continue their walk before turning back towards his house.
When he turned to go he caught sight of Jared watching him with a decidedly displeased expression. He smiled and gave a quick wave, and got a tight smile in return. He wondered what was bothering Jared so much. He hadn’t heard him approach, and was surprised to see him there. There was something oddly disquieting in the way Jared watched him.
“Hey Jared, is everything okay? You looked…”
“What you were talking to Misha about?” Jared’s tone was harsh when he interrupted Jensen, and Jensen took an instinctive step back.
He wanted to tell Jared that it was none of his business, but something about his demeanor broached no argument.
“Nothing much. Misha just moved in next door and he wanted to introduce himself. We were talking about Greek mythology. It isn’t often that I encounter someone who is as interested in mythology as I am.”
“Is that so?” Jared’s smile was twisted. “I don’t want you talking to him again.”
And that was too far. “You don’t own me Jared, I barely know you. And while I would like to for us to be friends, it’s none of your business who I do or don’t talk to.” His glasses had slipped down and he pushed them back up, the gesture taking something away from his words, if Jared’s amused smile was any indication.
“Look, Jensen, it’s not like that. I care about you, that’s all. And I’ve known Misha for a long time. There are things about him you don’t know, and believe me, he isn’t someone you want to get involved with. He may seem charming now, but he isn’t what he seems. Just be careful.” Jared’s voice had turned soft.
“Jared, I appreciate your concern, but I can take care of myself. It’s not like Misha’s moving in with me, we were just talking.”
Jared nodded, seeming satisfied. “I know you can take care of yourself, but I also know people aren’t always what they seem and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
The strange conversation stayed with him for the rest of the day. He was surprised that Jared knew Misha, and even more surprised that he felt the need to warn Jensen away. He avoided both Jared and Misha for the rest of the day.
He saw Jared the next morning, tending to an old oak that was growing up in the middle of the campus. He couldn’t be sure exactly what Jared was doing, but the man had one hand splayed across the trunk of the tree, and he appeared to be talking to it. One branch of the old oak was bent forward, almost as if reaching out to Jared. For a brief moment Jensen thought he saw the image of a gnarled old man leaning over Jared, leaning in, intent on his every word. When Jared caught him staring he started grinning and waved him over. The conversation from the previous day still stuck with Jensen, and he pretended not to see Jared, moving on into the safety of the building instead.
His class that day was covering the story of Psyche and Eros. Eros, the god of love, had fallen madly in love with the mortal Psyche. He took her away to live with him, but never allowed her to see him. He wanted her to love him for who he was, and not because he was a god, so he refused to ever allow her to know the truth of who he was. The point of the story was that faith should not be based on what you can see. Psyche needed to love Eros without seeing him, if he were to believe she loved him.
“Doesn’t that seem rather ridiculous?” It was Katie again, always questioning, she never could seem to see the beauty of the myths as they were. “If Eros was a god and he thought Psyche would love him if she knew, then why not just tell her that up front. He should use all the attributes he has to win her over, if that’s what he wants. If I’m going to ask a guy out, I’m not going to wear a paper bag over my head to do it.” That earned amused agreement from the rest of the class.
“Yes,” Jensen agreed, “it is true it might have been easier for Eros to reveal himself to Psyche. But that wasn’t the point. Everyone turned to the gods to worship them as distant entities or because they wanted something. Sacrifices and offerings were given to the gods in the hopes of incurring favor. Eros wanted Psyche to love him as he loved her, not because of what he could do.”
After class the students had all left, and Jensen found himself looking out the window trying to see if Jared was still around. He sighed to himself, he was as bad as his students, trying to catch a glimpse of the man. He didn’t know what was going on between Jared and Misha but he knew he didn’t want to get involved. He gathered his papers together and double checked that everything was in place. Once he turned around he nearly walked straight into Jared, causing his papers to go fluttering out around him.
“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to scare you, I thought you heard me come in.” Jared had the decency to look genuinely repentant.
“It’s not your fault, I probably should have; my thoughts were elsewhere.” The way Jared’s mouth tugged up at the corners made Jensen wonder if the man knew exactly where Jensen’s thoughts had been.
“Look, I just wanted to apologize about yesterday. Misha and I…well, it’s complicated. But I shouldn’t have told you stay away, you’re right, it wasn’t my place. I know I can come on a little strong sometimes.”
“A little?” Jensen scoffed, then immediately regretted it when he saw the way Jared’s face fell. Jared was making an effort; there was no reason to insult him. “It’s fine; really, you were just looking out for me. I appreciate the sentiment, even if you were a bit aggressive.”
“Well, if you thought that was too much, then you might not appreciate this, but I brought you something.” He had been hiding something behind his back and held it out to Jensen. It was a rose, and a perfect red rose at that. Jensen had never seen such a perfect flower. It was completely without flaws. It was as if each petal had been carefully sculpted and placed onto the stem. He wanted to tell Jared that he wasn’t one for such a sappy romantic gesture, that he couldn’t be won over so easily. But the flower was so beautiful, so perfect, and there was an almost innocent openness to the way Jared looked at him now. Like this simple gift meant something significant. An offering is not important in what it is, but in what it represents, the intent with which it’s given. The simplest of gifts can have the most significance if given with the correct intent. The words echoed through him, something he had heard long ago to explain why gods accepted gifts of milk or wine, fruit or flowers, when such things were seemingly unnecessary to an immortal being. As he took the rose from his hand their fingers touched briefly and he felt as if electricity ran through him.
“Thank you, it’s beautiful, Jared, I don’t know how you found such a flawless rose.”
“If you really want to thank me you’ll come out with me tonight,” Jared’s grin was back, and he spoke as if he already knew Jensen’s answer would be yes. “Come on now, do you have any other plans?”
Jensen did, in fact, have plans for that night. He planned on going home and curling up with his cat Persephone, and reading a book. Although, whether Persephone was on board with this, or if she had other plans about the neighborhood was yet to be seen. He had only just met Jared, after all, and he wasn’t one to jump into anything. And yet his other option was to go home and possible get stood up by his cat.
“Come on Jensen, I know you want to. I’m not suggesting we get married, it’s just one night out.”
“What did you have in mind?”
The music blared loud enough that Jensen could barely hear anything over it, and Jared threw back another shot. Jared had already had more than Jensen, so Jensen had no idea how he still looked so sober, while Jensen was having a hard time not falling off his barstool.
“I haven’t done this since college,” Jensen almost shouted over the music.
“Gone on a date?” Jared asked waving the bartender over for another shot.
“Drank this much.”
“Technically, you still are in college,” Jared added unhelpfully.
“It’s not exactly the same thing. I like my life, I do. I mean, it’s quiet, and uneventful…and I think I know more about non-existent gods than I do my co-workers. And the most significant relationship in my life right is now is my cat.” There was a part of him that knew he shouldn’t be saying any of this on a first date, at least not if he wanted a second date. But there was a liquor soaked part of his brain that just didn’t care and Jared was just so easy to talk to. Besides, he was more or less committed at this point. “I mean, it sounds sad and pathetic and all, but it’s my life and I like it. But this, with you, I don’t do this. I don’t go on dates with strangers, and I don’t drink too much. I don’t do things like this.”
“Well,” Jared said, reasonably, “it appears that you do. This is good Jensen, it’s important to let go every once and a while. That’s the problem with people today; they just can’t appreciate the importance of losing all inhibitions and just letting yourself return to the way you’re supposed to be. You don’t need alcohol to let go Jensen, to lose yourself like that.”
“No, but it alcohol certainly helps.”
“Alright, what do you want to do? If you could do anything, forget about expectations, and what you’re supposed to do, if you could do anything, what would it be?”
Jensen took a minute to think about that, “I’d go graffiti the math teacher’s office. He’s always looking down on me, and acting like he’s some big shot because he teaches math, and I teach about ‘pointless stories from a dead religion.’”
Jared was laughing at that, and for a moment Jensen thought he might actually be on board with his plan. “Okay, I like where you’re going, but perhaps you should try starting with something that won’t get you fired. You know, save the felonious stuff for later on.”
Even in the state he was in he knew Jared had a point. If he wasn’t going to seek revenge, he thought about what else he wanted to do. It took very little thought to decide, before he was leaning into Jared, wrapping his arms around the man’s neck and pressing their lips together. Jared pulled him in closer, practically supporting Jensen while he kissed back, that feeling of electricity shot through Jensen again. Kissing Jared was like kissing a force of nature, it was wild and unrestrained and undeniably powerful
When Jared pulled away he tried to pull him back, desperate for that sensation again, but Jared pushed him back only to take him by the hand and pull him out of the bar and into the alley behind. He pushed Jensen back against the wall and kissed him again, desperate and fierce. He felt the warmth of Jared’s hand as it pushed up against his shirt. A loud clang pulled him out of the moment and he looked over to see one of the workers from the bar had dropped the lid of the trash intentionally hard. He was eyeing them quizzically.
Jared didn’t notice, or didn’t care, that they had an audience, and tried to pull Jensen’s attention back to himself, but the moment was lost and Jensen had sobered just enough to think about what he was doing. It was easy to lose control around Jared, but this wasn’t him, he didn’t make out with men he had just met in dark alleys.
He pushed against Jared and when Jared didn’t move, he did it again more firmly. “I’ve had a lot of fun, but I should be going.” At least that’s what he meant to say, but he wasn’t sure how clearly he was speaking. Jared seemed to understand him enough anyway.
“Let me at least take you home,” Jared offered.
“No, it’s alright, I’ll take a cab.” Neither of them should be driving and he was pretty sure if Jared came with him he might not be able to say goodbye a second time.
Anna had agreed to let Dean stay with her and Sam until they figured out what to do long term. Sam and Dean spent the night wrapped up in each other. Ruby spent the night watching TV. It was somewhat depressing that her pet had more of a romantic life than she did. Still, the fact that Dean was staying with them meant she would have a chance to see Anna again. It looked like Sam wasn’t the only one whose romantic life was looking up.
The next morning Ruby woke up to the unpleasant realization that she was nearly falling off the edge of the bed, Sam a warm familiar weight at her back. It wasn’t the first time he had decided that he needed the majority of the bed and nearly shoved her right off. She pushed back against him trying to make him move enough for her to have some room. It was her day off and still early, she didn’t feel like trying to sleep balanced on the side of the bed. Her only answer was a soft growl then silence.
“Come on Sam, move.” She gave a hard shove and met a wall of resistance. Something soft brushed against her bare arm and she could see the tips of feathers lying against her skin. She roused herself enough to sit up and peer over Sam to find, unsurprisingly, Dean curled up on Sam’s other side, one wing stretched out to cover them. She sighed as she lay back again. She was going to need a bigger bed.
Since sleeping wasn’t an option she decided she might as well start the day, since she was up anyway. She grabbed her phone from the night stand and discovered a text from Anna; just seeing her name come up made Ruby smile.
The text read: How’s Dean adjusting to his new life? Any unanticipated issues?
She thought about that. Overall it seemed to be going okay. She was going to need a bigger bed. Hell, she was going to need a bigger apartment to accommodate the three of them. When it was just her and Sam it had felt small, “cozy” as Lilith had said, but they had made it work. Now though, with an angel added to their little family it just didn’t feel like there was enough space to move.
She started to text back: So far everything is going well. The main problem is the lack of space. Any chance you’d have a room or two to spare?
She paused, and then erased what she had written. As appealing as the idea was, she thought it might be a little too soon to joke about moving in together.
She typed instead: Everything is going great! Strange having an angel around, but nothing I can’t handle. Dinner tonight?
She pressed send and felt the seconds stretching out before she got the response: Glad to hear it! Around 7:00? I can’t wait to see you again.
Ruby gave a sigh of relief. She could hardly wait to see Anna again. She could only imagine how her Sam must have suffered being separated from his mate the way had been. No one should be forced to live without the one they loved.
Sam sat on the sofa with Dean by his side, as it should be. Ruby was running around frantically trying to get ready for her date. He could tell this one was important to her. She had broken out the six inch stilettos and had changed her clothes three times. She had even gone as far as attempting to desecrate the nest his mate had built by trying to take back the black silk dress that was now an integral part of the nest. He loved Ruby, but that had been a step too far. He was the Alpha of this pack, and she had stepped out of line by trying to take something from the nest, the very nest that his mate was building for their young. He would have none of it. He had ensured the fabric stayed where it belonged. After a prolonged attempt on Ruby’s part to cajole and ultimately attempt to grab the material she had finally given up. He didn’t understand exactly what her words meant, but he understood that she was frustrated and none too happy with him. Which was fine, she could be unhappy with him. What was important was that the sanctity of the nest had remained intact.
“Okay I’m going, I’ll be back later. Be good while I’m gone. I know this is the first time you two will be alone since we got Dean, so just try not to destroy the place. And please, for the love of all that is holy, stay out of my closet. I can’t afford to lose any more clothes.”
With that she disappeared out the door, leaving Sam and Dean alone in the quiet of the apartment.
Dean ran his hand along one of Sam’s horns, his fingers pausing over one particularly deep gouge. What’s it like, living in the wild? I was born in Anna’s house and I’ve always wondered what it’s like out there.
It’s violent and brutal and glorious….and lonely.
He told Dean about his past, about his dam and his sire and his siblings. He told him what it was like growing up under the constant threat of other demons, angels and humans. He told him how he was driven form his pack by his sire once he reached maturity, to ensure he didn’t attempt to take power by killing him. He told Dean what it was like staking a claim on a new territory, and fighting to defend it, long days and nights alone. As much as he had wanted a pack of his own every demon he encountered was a potential threat to what he had. He told his mate about the night he was nearly killed by angels and how Ruby found him. Through it all Dean watched him with rapt attention, enthralled by a life in the wild so unlike his own raised by Anna.
There is something to be said for the freedom of living like that. But I wouldn’t give up what I have now for anything, especially if it meant never having met you. He proceeded to show his angel exactly how glad he was to have him as his mate.
Ruby and Anna came back late that night, crashing through the door, wrapped in each other’s arms. They disappeared into the bedroom together.
I think the date went well.
Sam could feel how pleased Dean was. He was pleased as well, Anna had treated Ruby well and he was growing to trust her. It looked like his pack was going to be expanding.
Ruby, Sam and Dean were staying the weekend with Anna. It would be the first time Sam would be in Anna’s house. Dean was a little apprehensive; Sam wasn’t used to being around other angels and Dean’s brothers and sister had free reign of the place. But he had faith that his mate would warm to the others. They were a part of Dean’s flock and he knew his mate respected that.
When they first entered the other angels stayed away. He could hear the constant song of their voices echoing through him. They were talking about him and his new mate. Hannah was nervous about the idea of a demon in their home. Uriel did not approve of Dean being mated to a demon at all. He went as far as calling his unborn children abominations and impure. He did so from a safe distance, though, not having the bravery to show himself when he said it. Dean told Uriel, and the others for good measure, what he would do to anyone who dared insult his children or his mate like that. They would need to find a way to get along, and if they didn’t, they would no longer be welcome as far as Dean was concerned. The demon was his now, and he didn’t give a damn if anyone approved.
Castiel was the first to approach. He dropped down from one of the high rafters, his snow white wings spread to slow his descent.
He landed gracefully in front of Dean, and openly studied the demon beside him. There’s a tense moment for Dean while he waits, worried that this might go badly. But Castiel reaches out one wing and touches it against Dean’s in way of greeting.
It’s good to see you again, brother, Castiel says, we were worried when Anna took you away. I’m glad to see you well.
There is nothing but warmth in the sentiment and Dean can feel Sam relaxing beside him. Castiel stretches out a wing to brush against Sam’s arm, mirroring the greeting he gave to Dean as best he can.
I was uncertain when I heard you had mated with a demon. But seeing him now, I can understand the appeal.
It was an olive branch, Dean could still feel an apprehension in Castiel, and he appeared ready to retreat if need be. It was still strange for him and the others to be so close to a demon, but Cas was trying to show that Sam would be accepted into their flock. Sam’s posture was still rigid, but he made no move towards the other angel.
Dean has spoken highly of his brothers and sisters. You are important to him and that means you are important to me.
That was a lot coming from Sam, who wasn’t one to accept the presence of angels lightly. Dean appreciated Sam’s willingness to accept his family. He didn’t know what he would do if his mate and his family were at odds.
Hannah was the next to come down. Her golden feathers glistened in the light as she found her way from her place in the rafters. She stayed behind Castiel and smiled shyly at Sam. Sam studied her for a moment and her smile faltered under the scrutiny of the demon,
That’s right. She sounded uncertain how to take the fact that the demon knew her name. Her wings spread slightly, preparing for flight if need be.
It’s good to meet you. Dean has told me about you. He told me how happy you were that you’re flock would be growing when you found out he was pregnant. I’ve wanted to meet you ever since.
There was a warmth in Sam’s tone that helped cut through some of the tension. Hannah’s wings folded back against her back, no longer prepared for flight. After that Hannah relaxed enough to touch wings with Dean, though she wasn’t bold enough to do it with Sam just yet. She kept a safe distance from the demon, but she no longer looked like she might bolt at any moment. The rest of his family stayed high up, slowly encroaching and dropping down to lower places to better inspect the new demon that was among them. But few addressed Sam directly. It was progress and Dean knew in time all his brothers and sisters would adjust to the newest members of their flock.
Anna watched as Sam interacted with the angels. She had been nervous bringing him in. Just because he had bonded with Dean didn’t necessarily mean he would accept the presence of other angels. But so far it seemed to be going well. Most of the angels stayed at a distance, but no one was growling or trying to kill anyone else. Overall she considered that a win.
“It looks like it’s going pretty well, all things considered.” Ruby said contemplatively. Anna had seen her tense up every time an angel came near her demon. She could tell Ruby wanted to intervene, but ultimately stopped herself. The angels and demon needed to feel each other out and so far no one had shown any aggressive behavior, so it was best to leave them alone.
“I love this place, by the way. It’s really beautiful and I can see how well taken care of the angels are. Dean has space to stretch his wings and fly, which he really can’t do back at my tiny apartment. I know it’s good for Sam and Dean to be together, but I could tell he was starting to miss you. I wish it could always be like this.” Ruby’s words helped ease some of Anna’s anxiety. She’d been wanting to bring up that very subject for some but she’d been too afraid to ask.
“It can be, I want you to move in here. It makes sense, there’s plenty of room and it’s already set up to handle angels. I think we could all be very happy together.”
“I was hoping you would ask that.” A smile curved at Ruby’s lips, and Anna thought she could get used to seeing that smile every day.
Anna woke up wrapped in Ruby’s arms. Dean was on her other side and Sam next to Ruby, boxing them in. There was the familiar feeling of Dean’s feathers brushing against her arm, his outstretched wing keeping her warm. It wasn’t exactly the kind of family she had dreamt of as a kid. But she was happy with the way everything had turned out. Not many believed that an angel and a demon could live together so peacefully, let alone be mated. But it had all worked out so well for them. And it wouldn’t be long until their family was expanding. Soon enough they would have little half angel half demons running around. Which, now that she thought about it would be a lot of work. Dean was so gentle and quiet, but if Sam had anything to do with it, the pups would no doubt turn out to be little hellions that destroyed the whole place. But she didn’t mind, not too much anyway. It was a big place, and she knew that she and Ruby could handle anything together. Everything was coming together for her, maybe not in the way she had imaged, but for the best. It might not be the most traditional family, but it was hers, and she couldn’t be happier with them. With that thought in mind she snuggled up into the warmth of her angel and went back to sleep.
Dean settled down in the middle of the nest he had built. His two of his three children surrounded him, two boys and a girl. All three had small soft downy wings and small horns. They had their father’s black eyes when they felt strong emotion, but the boys took after Dean. They were good to a fault. The girl, though, was a little devil just like her father. She was always getting into things she shouldn’t be and dragging her brothers along with her. She was a bad influence on them. But Dean and Sam loved all their children, even if they were a handful. It was getting late and Dean could see how tired the kids were getting. The boys had come when he called, already snuggled up close to his side, safe in their nest. But his daughter had been more resistant. She had refused to come to bed, not wanting to stop practicing unlocking doors with her powers. She was getting quite good at it, and once she had it mastered there was no doubt she would show her brothers so they could more easily continue their adventures outside the house. Sam picked her up and carried her, protesting weakly, to the nest. When he set her down she yawned widely while insisting she wasn’t tired. Dean grabbed her before she could make it out of the nest again, pulling her close to him. Once all three children were settled in Sam laid down beside them, ensuring everyone stayed where they were supposed to be. Dean wrapped his wings around his children, the edges of his wings brushing against Sam. He settled in and fell asleep surrounded by his mate and his family, knowing everything was as it should be.
Ever since they had come back from the kennel Sam had been agitated. Ruby had thought Sam would be happy to be away from that place. She had been happy when she was finally able to escape her family and return to get Sam. It had gone pretty much as she had expected. Alastair kept trying to corner her despite her best efforts to avoid him. Lucifer wouldn’t anyone near Lilith, and Lilith kept giggling over how adorably protective her pet was. Alastair had left the majority of his estate to charity, not because he was a charitable man, but as a way of saying “screw you” to the family he hated. He would have the last laugh, from beyond the grave. The only one he left anything to was Ruby, because as was explicitly stated in his will, “she was the only one he had ever liked.” The money he left her would certainly help make life a little more comfortable for her and Sam. But it also made the rest of her family resent her. She had been only too happy to return to Sam, the only one who loved her unconditionally.
And he had been happy to her too. But since they returned home he had been acting depressed and spent most of his time pacing her small apartment. He was on edge all the time. She didn’t understand what had happened, but it was clear something was going on. She intended to go back to that place and find out exactly what had happened while she was away.
She grabbed her keys and called Sam.
When they pulled into the parking lot of the kennel she expected Sam to refuse to leave the car, or for his agitation to become worse. She didn’t know what had happened while he was here, but she thought for certain he would have no interest in returning.
To her great surprise, and increased bewilderment, he seemed only too eager to get out of the car and go in. Once inside he paced the confines of the office and kept scanning the area as if looking for something.
After quite a bit of stalling and attempting to give her the run around, Ruby finally got the receptionist to call the head of the facility. The owner turned out to be a man named Crowley and Ruby took an almost immediate dislike to him. After some hedging, and “it’s not our fault, these things happen,” he finally admitted what had happened. Sam had escaped from his enclosure and found his way into the enclosure of an angel. The angel—shockingly—was unharmed. But the owner of the facility had thought it best for everyone if they separated the two and tried to pretend the whole thing had never happened. He had been afraid of opening himself up to unwanted liability, and after all, nothing had come of it so what was the problem? It wasn’t like anyone had gotten hurt.
That explained quite a bit then, and while this hadn’t been what she was expecting, it did give her a pretty good idea of what might have happened. After promising not to sue, and agreeing to sign a waiver to that effect, she was finally able to obtain the name and contact information for the owner of the angel. It was a woman named Anna who ran an angel breeding facility nearby. The angels name was Dean.
At the mention of the name Sam’s eyes went black and he gave a low whine. “Oh Sam, I’m so sorry. We’ll get this figured out.” Stupid freakin’ bureaucrats. They were so concerned with covering their own asses that they didn’t even stop to consider the harm they were doing.
Ruby pinched the bridge of her nose. She was starting to get a headache. She had called the number provided for her to get in contact with the angel’s owners. She had spent the last twenty minutes on the phone with a man named Zachariah and so far she had achieved nothing more than coming to conclusion that she hated Zachariah. After explaining that she was Sam’s owner, and that apparently Sam and Dean had spent some time together at the kennel, Zachariah had become cold and started to stonewall her. He had made a point of saying that he could sue her for damages to his angel but that he was magnanimously willing to forget the whole incident. And further, it was better for everyone involved if they had no future contact.
“That’s not a good idea. Angels and demons mate for life. It’s harmful for them to be separated from their mate. I know this is an awkward situation; it isn’t exactly what anyone had planned on happening. But it did happen and it would be best for both Sam and Dean to be together. I’m sure we can work something out.”
There was an icy silence on the other end, before finally, “I’m sorry, but it’s more complicated than that. Dean is pregnant with his first litter. Angel/Demon hybrids are exceedingly rare but highly valued. If raised properly they have the best attribute of both species. They can possess the obedience and demeanor of an angel and the strength and power of a demon. I’m afraid the influence of their demonic father could only be detrimental and could make the pups harder to sell…I’m sorry.”
With that the line went dead. Ruby wondered how someone could make “I’m sorry” sound quite so much like “screw you.”
Sam’s eyes were black and he whined and pushed in against her side. She curled one arm around her demon and he laid his head against her shoulder. The position was awkward, like a Great Dane who tries to crawl into their owner’s lap. But she could tell Sam was upset and he had been staying close to her because of it. He didn’t understand what was going on. He just knew he had found his mate and now they were separated. It went against every demonic instinct to be apart from his mate for long. Zachariah was a bastard who was clearly more concerned with making a profit than he was with the animals under his care. She could try to buy Dean and the pups. She didn’t have a lot of money, and even with what was left to her from Azazel she doubted it would be enough. But she was sure that Lilith would lend her the money if she asked. Lilith was like that, she was only too happy to do Ruby, or anyone else, a favor, no matter how big. But she always wanted something in return. One way or another Ruby would end up paying back the debt. But when she thought about how sad Sam was, and how hard it must be on both him and the angel she knew, no matter the price, it would be worth it.
Anna was getting worried about Dean. His feathers were dull and he was starting to molt, a sure sign of stress. He had been listless and seemed depressed ever since she had gotten him from the kennel. Samandriel’s owner had been kind and had passed all of Anna’s tests. Anna had felt comfortable bringing Dean over to meet the other angel. But Dean hadn’t let Samandriel anywhere near him. There hadn’t even been a tentative period of wing touching that usually followed with an encounter of a new angel. Dean flat out was having none of it and wouldn’t even allow Samandriel to approach him. Anna had been disappointed, but if they didn’t get along then that was all there was too it. She had taken him home but Dean had failed to show his usual enthusiasm upon seeing his brothers and sisters. She was starting to wonder if he was sick. The kennel had a good reputation but it was possible he had picked something up while he was there. She called in their vet, a woman named Jess. She had been Dean’s vet for some time and if there was something wrong with him Anna was sure she could figure out how to fix it.
Jess sighed, looking very tired. “Anna, I’m not sure what you want me to say. I’ve already gone over all of this with Zachariah. Dean is in perfect health, nothing’s changed since the last time I looked at him. Since you and Zachariah chose to ignore my advice I’m not surprised he’s only gotten worse.”
This was the first Anna was hearing about it, Zachariah hadn’t mentioned having the vet look over Dean. She never left Dean along with Zachariah when she would be gone over night. But it was possible Zachariah had brought in the vet without her knowing. If he thought Dean was sick, and more to the point knew what was wrong with him, she didn’t understand why he wouldn’t have mentioned it.
“What, exactly, did you tell Zachariah was wrong with Dean?”
Jess’ eyes widened at that, “He didn’t tell you? He said he was going to tell you everything as soon as I left. I can’t believe he would try to keep this a secret.”
While Jess explained what she had discovered in her last examination Dean leaned into her. She stroked his wings, and curled one arm protectively around him. She hated that her angel was in pain, and she hated Zachariah for allowing it to continue, without telling, no outright hiding, the truth. It made her wonder what else Zachariah wasn’t telling her.
Ruby had just finished explaining the situation to Lilith. Her sister was as understanding and sympathetic as always. With her child-like demeanor and sugary sweet disposition few would ever believe how cutthroat Lilith really was. When they were kids, her schemes would always get them into trouble. But Lilith would always look sad and swear she was sorry and somehow she could talk her way out of anything. It was a trait that made Ruby both admire and fear her sister.
“Of course Ruby, you know I’ll do anything to help. I’m always here for you, no matter what you need. Just tell me what I can do to help this terrible situation.” Honey dripped from Lilith’s tone and Ruby was just trying to gather her resolve to ask her sister for money—and what she had to do in return—when she was saved by a knock at the door. She jumped at the temporary reprieve. “Hold on Lilith, there’s someone at the door.”
When she opened the door she found a red-headed woman with an angel behind her. The angel pushed past her in a flurry of feathers, and straight into the arms of her demon, knocking him to the floor. Sam wrapped his arms around the angel and started nuzzling along his jaw. So that must be Dean.
“Hi, I’m Anna. That’s Dean. Zachariah’s an ass.”
Well then, that pretty much summed it up. “Sorry Lilith, I gotta go, something’s come up.”
“The way Zachariah talked about Dean, it was all about the money. It was a business transaction to him, nothing more! He didn’t care if Dean was happy, or if he ended up in a good home. All that mattered to him was making a profit. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to own angels.” Ruby was still upset about her conversation with Zachariah and Sam had decided he didn’t like the man either; he was responsible for keeping him from his mate for so long.
“I can tell you and Sam are very close. That kind of bond is difficult to form with a demon. It means you have been taking exceptional care of him. I swear I just found out what happened at the kennel.” Anna was sitting on the opposite side of the sofa from Ruby while they talked. “And Zachariah won’t be a problem anymore. After I found out that he was trying to hide Dean’s pregnancy from me I started to wonder what else he might be lying to me about. He’s been embezzling from the business for years. The signs were all there, I was just too blind to see it. I have only myself to blame. My father trusted him and I guess I wanted to as well. My father left when I was quite young and having Zachariah around made me feel connected to him in some ways. Zachariah had more stories about my father than I did; I guess I didn’t want to lose that. But I should have gotten rid of him years ago. I gave him a choice: he could pay back the money he took and never go near another angel or demon, or he could go to jail. I know I’m better off without him, I’m just sorry it took so long to see it.” Anna looked away, a small embarrassed smile turning up the corners of mouth, “I’m sorry. I’ve known you for all of five minutes and I’m already giving you my life’s story.”
“No, don’t be sorry. I’m glad you told me. Zachariah’s a horrible human being, I’m relieved you’re not like him. With the way things are now I have a feeling we’ll be spending a lot more time together.”
Sam was wrapped up in Dean’s arms, after so much pain they were finally back together again. But there was a stranger in his home, talking to Ruby, and his guard was up.
Sam knew Ruby enough to tell how pleased she was. The way she smiled, the lilt of the voice, her body language, she was interested in Anna. He considered this development carefully. Anna seemed kind enough, Dean liked her, and so far she had shown a genuine interest in the health of his mate and their brood. Yes, Sam decided, he approved of her. He would allow Ruby to pursue this relationship romantically, if that was what she wanted. He had scared off more than one suitor who was unfit for Ruby.
Dean gave a hard nip to his jaw to indicate his displeasure at losing Sam’s attention. He was only too happy to return his attention to his mate who was sprawled out beneath him. He ran his fingers through the soft feathers while dean arched up into every touch. He had never known, had no interest in knowing, how soft angel feathers were. He started to explore each layer, feeling the soft down feathers down to the sleeker primary ones. The angel ran his hand along Sam’s horns, following the curve, stopping over each scar and nick. He wanted to explore every inch of his angel, and this time he wouldn’t let anyone take him away.