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[personal profile] jasmasson


***


The telephone was picked up on the second ring.

“Doctor Badass,” came the cheerful greeting.

“Lindberg, it’s Jensen.”

“Jensen! My man!” Chad Lindberg said happily. “How’s your vacation treating you? Getting a nice tan?”

“No, I…”

“Getting some nice
action?” Chad interrupted him. “Man, if I looked like you I’d get so much play…”

“Chad!” Jensen stopped him before he could start describing the possibilities in detail. “I need a favor.”

“Sure man,” Chad said. “Your cable stop working?”

Jensen snorted out a surprised laugh. He got along surprisingly well with Chad – better than anyone else at the Organization except Jared, even though it had been Chad who had reprogrammed Jensen’s chip to a controller he made for Kripke, but Jensen couldn’t blame him for doing his job. Chad was so incredibly mellow. But whenever Jensen spoke to Chad, he was always reminded of how different his life was from most other peoples’ lives.

“No,” Jensen took a deep breath. “I want you to deactivate my chip.”

“For real?” Chad’s voice took on a note of squeaky surprise, but a hint of seriousness as well. “You said you wouldn’t leave anyway, so it didn’t matter!”

Chad had offered to deactivate Jensen’s chip more than a year ago. Chad was eminently unsuited to the moral grays of the Organization, but Kripke had him on his payroll because he was simply the best technologist available. Chad’s moral compass, mostly disguised by his flakiness, was a strong as anyone’s Jensen had ever met – although Jensen would confess he probably hadn’t met a representative sample of moral people in his life – and Chad, like Jared, was strongly opposed to Jensen being coerced into working anywhere he might not want to. So when they’d gotten to know each other better, he’d offered to deactivate the chip and help Jensen get away.

“It’s time to move on,” Jensen said, swallowing around the tightness in his throat at the thought. “Does your offer still stand?”

“Of course!” Chad said instantly. “And you know I can help you get some paperwork so you can get a job and you won’t have to, like, go off and live in the wilds and kill animals with your bare hands like Grizzly Adams to survive. Although I totally bet you could do that, and that actually might be pretty awesome…”

“Paperwork would be great, Chad, thanks,” Jensen interrupted. “Can you do it now?”

“Now?” Chad said, startled. “You want them
now?”

Jensen thought back to the look of mingled triumph and pity Alexis had shot him as she’d gone into the house earlier that day, and how much easier this would be with Jared still out of town.

“Yeah. Right now.”

***

It hadn’t been hard at all, as it turned out. The paperwork had to wait a few days, but it took mere moments to deactivate the chip. The car was a slight problem, because Alexis knew Jensen was driving Morgan’s car afterward instead of his own. But she probably wouldn’t remember what Morgan’s car was like if Jensen faked a crash in that – she’d had plenty of other things on her mind – and Morgan’s car crashed without a link to Jensen would do him no good at all. It hadn’t been a significant problem, though. Jensen had simply dropped Morgan’s car off at his house and picked up his own.

What Jensen was doing out again that night was easy to explain away.

The narrow bridge where he staged the whole thing was on the way up to a part of the nearby hillside that Jared knew Jensen liked to run on. Since his telephone call to Jared that very morning (Christ, had it only been that morning?) had established that Jensen was suffering from insomnia, no-one would be surprised that he’d headed out for a pre-dawn run. And if Alexis had shared their day’s adventures with Jared, then everyone would know that Jensen had a few injuries. So a mild concussion, or fainting from blood-loss, could easily explain him losing control and spinning off the road, right through the barriers and off the bridge.

He’d made Chad promise not to tell anyone, especially Jared, about their plan. Chad had tried to persuade him that Jared should be told, but Jensen felt that a clean break would be better for everyone, and Jared would soon have a new child who would help him get over the death of a work colleague – even one who’d been his partner for a few years. It had always been a real possibility, even a probability, that such a thing might happen in their line of work. They’d all lost colleagues before, and the shock of it might make Jared even more likely to give up field work.

Jensen had watched as his car sank slowly into the water, waiting until the last glint of metal slipped under the surface and there was no longer any reason to stay. He’d pulled a bag over his shoulder, turned, and started walking away. There was no room for regrets.

***

One year later


Jensen shifted in his seat. He wasn’t a nervous flier, but he hated going through airport security; he felt naked and exposed without a gun, and there was always the risk that someone might look too closely at his passport.

Steve hummed softly next to him, flipping casually through Guitar World. Steve’s thigh pressed warmly against his, as if he sensed some of the tension in Jensen, and Jensen pressed back briefly, trying to relax.

He’d passed off his tension as general fear of flying, and Steve wouldn’t push. Steve never pushed. Steve Carlson was the most relaxed guy he’d ever known, and Jensen thought maybe it was rubbing off on him. A little.

That thought actually made Jensen feel slightly more tense, in fact, enough so that Steve, feeling it through their physical connection, or maybe that sixth sense that made him able to deal with Jensen, looked up from his magazine.

“Would it help you relax if I blew you in the bathroom?” Steve asked, with a grin and a leer.

And Jensen grinned back. Smiling like that was becoming less and less foreign for him than it used to be.

He didn’t let Steve blow him in the bathroom, but he did attribute Steve powers of distraction to the fact that he didn’t notice the terrorists until it was much too late.

***

The flight was a continental one, going from St. Louis to Milwaukee, where Steve was playing a minor gig. Jensen often accompanied him to gigs. His work as a security guard – which was how he’d met Steve in the first place, working security at a gig Steve was playing – was contract work and flexible enough. He was happy to accompany Steve to smaller venues, although he avoided big cities like Washington and New York, just in case he ran into anyone who knew him. He avoided the whole state of Texas, too. He wasn’t dumb enough to imagine that he might just run into Jared in some random town in the great state of Texas – he knew Jared visited his parents often, but simply avoiding San Antonio ought to be enough to take care of actually meeting Jared. No. If Jensen was completely honest, the problem was really the accent. Jared’s Texan twang was strong enough that Jensen, who had more or less learned how to talk socially from Jared, had taken on elements of Jared’s own accent himself.

He didn’t need to hear that Texan accent anymore, and he didn’t want to. He heard it enough in his dreams.

The flight wasn’t especially full, maybe forty people in all. The men had gotten on the plane before Jensen and Steve, and they’d looked ordinary enough at the time.

Jensen thought he should probably have taken an inventory of the plane and passengers when he’d entered himself. He should have, and in the past he would have, but the truth was that it probably wouldn’t have made any difference in the circumstances he and the other passengers now found themselves in.

He didn’t know how the men had gotten the guns on the plane – maybe they’d had accomplices in the airport – but all that really mattered was that now there were five armed men on the plane. It was pure luck, Jensen thought, that they were still on the tarmac.

The stewardess, unusually efficient, had asked one of the men right away if he was feeling ill. The man seemed to be the youngest of them – practically a boy – and he’d been sweaty and nervous-looking to begin with. The question had apparently pushed him over the edge and he’d pulled his gun out early, before the plane had even taken off.

The stewardess’s scream had alerted everyone to the problem, including both Jensen and the pilots. Jensen had jumped up in his seat to find four other men jumping out of their seats, but all of them had guns, and all Jensen had was… harsh language.

Steve’s hand clasping his arm tightly had brought Jensen back to his seat before he’d drawn the men’s attention, and now he watched them as they argued among themselves about what to do.

Jensen was pretty sure that the pilots had managed to radio the controllers and inform them of the situation before one of the men had gone up to the cock-pit to point a gun at them. Soon the terrorists would probably get organized enough to make the pilots take off, or they might decide that their objectives (whatever they were) could be met simply by having forty or so hostages.

In any case, they looked pretty trigger-happy and they were spread all over the plane.

***

A hostage situation was always a nightmare. Jared hated them – something was always bound to go wrong, and there was always the nagging thought that somehow you might have done things better. That a different choice, a different action, would have led to a better resolution.

By the time he got to the airport a team was already on site, starting to run scenarios, going over the CCTV footage from airport security and the papers from check-in, hoping to ID the terrorists.

Chad Lindberg was already there, running the tapes. Better him than Jared – scanning through all that footage was a hell of a chore. Jared’s job was almost certainly going to involve being shot at later - it usually did. He still wouldn’t trade.

Jared nodded to his partner, who smiled back. Misha was a great guy, and he'd performed well as Jared’s partner for the past nine months after Kripke had insisted Jared needed a new one. Misha was dedicated, efficient, easy-going and much less work to get to know and interact with than Jared’s previous partner had been.

There were days when Jared couldn’t even look at him.

He jerked his head now to indicate to Misha that they should go get briefed by Kripke, and as he passed by Chad Lindberg, Jared clapped him on the shoulder and glanced at the CCTV picture of the airport lounges prior to the plane being boarded.

He froze suddenly, as his brain processed what his eyes had seen, his mouth suddenly dry.

He turned back to the screen, watching intently. No. Nothing there.

“Go back,” he croaked. Chad turned to look at him in surprise. Jared cleared his throat. “Go back,” he repeated. “I think I saw something.”

Obediently, Chad rewound the clip.

“There!” Jared said. “Look there!”

Chad replayed the footage, and Misha came up behind Jared and asked quietly, “What are we looking at?”

Jared shrugged him off, watching the screen intently.

What he was looking at was... well, it was the back of a man wearing jeans and a leather jacket, was what it was. The quality of the picture wasn’t that great, and it was only the back of the man's head, but

The set of the shoulders. The angle of the neck, that walk...

“Look, go around – ” Jared stopped, frustrated by the two-dimensional limitations of the film. “Can you pick up a better view of that man?”

“This guy?” Chad asked, already pressing keys. “Sure.”

After a few tense moments Chad produced a picture of the guy from another CCTV camera, this time from the front. Jared felt like his heart had stopped.

“What is it?” Misha asked. “Is he in the database? Someone on the watch list?”

Jared couldn’t answer, staring mutely at the screen.

“It’s Jensen Ackles,” Chad said quietly.

***

Jensen’s mind raced as he sat on the plane. They hadn’t taken off, so it didn’t look like a 9/11 situation, thank God. The terrorists were probably just looking to make a point, or to have some of their captive colleagues held in jail somewhere freed. They didn’t even have to be held in the U.S. - the terrorists might just be trying to access the political and military might of the U.S. to facilitate the release.

The United States does not negotiate with terrorists. The mantra surfaced in his mind with years of familiarity. But these men were probably banking on the idea that the U.S. might, if there was strong enough incentive.

This was going to end badly.

Even if they somehow made it off the plane without innocent bloodshed, it would end badly for Jensen. The odds were very high that the Organization would be involved in handling this and if they were, the chances of Jensen getting out of this without being seen were incredibly small. Even if he did, it wouldn’t help much. Jensen’s papers were not going to stand up to detailed scrutiny from any of the major branches of U.S. government operations.

The absolute best Jensen could hope for was a little time before they examined 'Joe Marshall' too deeply. Just a day or two would give Jensen enough time to relocate before they came looking, which would happen as soon as it became apparent that Joe Marshall hadn’t existed until about a year ago.

Either way, there was no way Joe Marshall was going to be able to continue being with Steve Carlson, not after Jensen got off this plane.

He turned to Steve, who was watching the armed men over Jensen’s shoulder with wide eyes, and touched his arm.

“Steve,” he began, “look, if we get out of here I need you to do something for me.”

“What?”

“If we get out of here, I need you to just walk away. It’s better for you not to be seen leaving with me.”

Steve stared at him. “Wait, what? I don’t understand.”

Jensen sighed. “I might very well be taken into custody after this, and even if I’m not, they’ll come for me eventually. The quicker I can get away from here, and the less you seem to be involved with me or anything about me, the better.” It was probably wildly optimistic to think they wouldn’t trace Joe Marshall to Steve Carlson, but both their jobs required so much travel that they hadn’t been living together officially. It was worth a shot. “I’m going to have to disappear.”

Steve looked at him for a long moment. “Is this because of all those things you’d never talk to me about?”

Jensen smiled back wryly. They’d been good together, and he couldn’t imagine ever finding a nicer guy than Steve. But Jensen had shared nothing about his past, and one of the reasons they'd gotten along so well was that Steve never pressured him for more than he could give.

“Yeah.”

Steve sighed, and looked down.

“Are you sure it has to be this way?” That was about as close to demanding as Steve ever got.

“I’m sorry,” Jensen said softly and Steve looked away, blinking hard.

“I…” Jensen stopped, not sure how to go on. He wanted to tell Steve he loved him, but he’d never been able to say it, despite the open warmth of Steve’s love. He hadn't said it because he couldn’t lie to Steve, and that was still true now. Steve had asked him before if there was someone else, because he’d sensed somehow that he couldn’t be ‘the one’ for Jensen. There wasn’t anyone else in the real sense, of course, but Jensen's feelings for Jared were just as much of a barrier to moving on. So he agreed to that phrasing, because Steve deserved absolute honesty.

“I don’t remember ever being as content as I was with you,” he said, instead of ‘I love you’, and though it sounded weak it still meant a lot to Jensen, and he wanted Steve to know it. “You made me as happy as I could possibly be. Thank you.”

It wasn’t fair to say he’d actually been happy, because he’d missed Jared like a love-struck fool every waking moment, but he hadn't been unhappy and the credit for that lay squarely with Steve.

Steve looked at him with wet eyes. “I love you.”

Jensen leaned forward and kissed him softly. “I’ll miss you,” he said.

***

“How did this happen?”

Eric Kripke was furious, and an entire roomful of large men who risked their lives as a chosen profession all drew back slightly, because Kripke’s cold fury was unsettling even for those with hardened nerves. “How did this happen? We activated his chip when he went MIA to specifically be sure this hadn’t happened. So how did this happen?

Jared didn’t respond, too busy staring at the CCTV footage of Jensen on the screen. Jensen. It was beyond belief that Jensen could be alive, but it was unmistakably him. He was also, unmistakably, with the man sitting next to him there on the image still displayed on the screen - with him in all possible senses of the word. There was nothing explicit on the tape, but the closeness - the way Jensen let the man near, let him touch him, leaned into him when they talked, even smiled with his eyes - was as a clear a signal to Jared as if they were wearing a sign.

Jared gnawed his lip, and pressed the rewind button on the CCTV footage for the twentieth time. He’d pushed Chad out of the way and was doing it himself because Chad was too damn slow, and Jared couldn’t begin to sort out the knot of tension in his gut enough to explain why he kept running over and over the few seconds of Jensen touching the guy’s arm and smiling his small, but totally genuine smile.

That smile had haunted Jared’s dreams for the past year, but Jared’s instinctive joy at seeing it, was severely hampered by his feelings at seeing it aimed at someone else

They’d tracked Jensen through the CCTV footage, right through his check-in. They knew the name he was registered under, Joe Marshall, and what flight and seat he was on. It turned out that he was on the plane with the hijackers, of course. Of course.

“At least we know who we’re dealing with now,” Kripke was saying, and Jared snapped his attention back to his surroundings.

“What?”

“We know Ackles’ modus operandus, so it'll be easier to resolve the situation.”

Jared stared at him. “You can’t possibly think Jensen's involved in the hijacking?”

“He’s on the plane,” Kripke pointed out, reasonably. “That’s one hell of a coincidence.”

“Yes, it is,” Jared agreed, “but it's far more likely than Jensen sneaking out of our Organization to become a terrorist, especially one who plans his attack so incompetently that there's almost no chance of him making it out alive.”

Kripke’s eyes narrowed, clearly mulling that over – Kripke was not the type to let anger get in the way of sense.

“Any other potential suspects on the passenger list?” Kripke asked a nearby agent, who produced a page of paper.

It didn’t take long at all to ascertain that there were at least four people on the plane who met the likely profile of a terrorist.

Kripke nodded. “It could actually benefit us, having Ackles on the plane,” he mused.

“Lindberg,” he continued, turning to the tech, “since you more or less know where Ackles is, is it possible to reprogram his chip so it can be activated remotely?”

“There’s no need,” Jared said. “Jensen’s never been a risk, you know that. He’ll help us without it.”

“While your faith in your ex-partner is touching, Jared,” Kripke said, coldly, “but he left the Organization. He betrayed us. And I’m not going in there with an unknown quantity.”

Jared looked away – he wanted to deny Jensen had betrayed them, because Kripke had never given him any trust for Jensen to betray, but the words stuck in his throat, because Kripke might never have trusted Jensen, but Jared sure the hell had.

“Lindberg?” Kripke prompted Chad, eyes narrowing.

Chad swallowed, his eyes darting around uneasily. “I’m… not sure.”

“Lindberg,” Kripke said softly, dangerously, “Ackles could be a serious asset aboard that plane right now if we could be sure of his cooperation. Now is not the time for the discussion we will be having later about how the chip got deactivated in the first place, but that conversation will probably go a lot easier for you if you get that chip working again.”

Chad squinted for a moment, apparently thinking. “I can do it,” he said. “It will only take a few minutes. Unless he had surgery to remove the chip, it'll work again. And considering where it's located, I can't believe he'd have risked taking it out.”

“Excellent.” Kripke considered for a moment. “This is what we’ll do.”

***

Being a hostage was actually quite boring, if you took away the mind-numbing terror most people experienced. Since Jensen was not ‘most people’, not by a long shot, he was left with just the boredom.

He was already sitting on the aisle side of the row, offering Steve a little protection that way. If it came down to it, Jensen was sure he could take out one of the terrorists, possibly even two or three of them, depending on his luck and how close they were standing together before one of them finally managed to shoot him.

He could hear the hijackers talking on the radio. They’d clearly decided not to try to take off, figuring the hostages would be enough. A foolish move, Jensen thought, because they were far less vulnerable to attack in the air, even if a plane (with its few entrances) was relatively easy to defend on the ground. But leaving the plane on the ground meant that the hostages could all be kept together, since there was no reason for the pilots to stay in the cockpit, so the terrorists probably felt more in control right where they were.

Jensen tensed as two of the hijackers approached his seat. It wasn't completely out of the question that he might have been recognized as an agent, but he'd dismissed that idea already as being too much of a coincidence. Perhaps he had been wrong.

The men approached, both with their guns out, and one of them spoke in clear and heavily accented English. “You are Joe Marshall?”

Jensen nodded slowly.

“Come with us,” the man said, gesturing with his gun towards the cockpit.

Jensen stood up carefully. The men were too far apart to be sure of taking out both of them, so Jensen gave Steve's hand a final squeeze and moved obediently toward the cockpit.

“We are allowing the Doctor to visit you,” the man continued. “As a gesture of good faith.”

Jensen didn’t reveal any surprise at those words. Whoever was handling the situation had obviously identified him. Joe Marshall had no medical history that would cause concern for any authorities surrounding the plane.

He went past the curtain into the cockpit, where a man in a white labcoat with a small first aid kit was waiting with one of the other hijackers.

It was Jared.

Jensen froze. It had been a long time, and the impact of seeing Jared again was like a fist clenching inside his chest.

He looked good. Jensen met his eyes, which were unreadable, and Jared's face was pleasantly blank.

“Mr. Marshall? I’m Doctor Kripke. These gentlemen have allowed me to bring you some medication, because this delay means you'll be late getting home for your operation.”

Jensen nodded, not trusting his voice, a small smile starting to grow on his face in spite of the situation. Jared. Jared was here. Jensen had prepared himself so thoroughly to never see Jared again, and now he was here. He couldn't keep the happiness from bubbling up inside him.

Jared was more professional, his face staying in character, which was partly why it was such a shock when Jensen suddenly felt a searing bolt of pain in his skull that surprised him so much that he actually screamed.

The chip had been reactivated, and it obviously still worked. It was turned on only for a second, clearly some kind of warning. Jensen returned to his senses just moments after the pain had struck to find himself on his knees, his hand uselessly clutching the back of his head.

He gasped through the aftershocks, and looked up to see that Jared was right next to him now. Jared's face was still carefully blank as he reached out and pulled Jensen up by the arm.

“I’ve brought an injection of painkillers and anti-seizure medication, which should prevent those episodes from happening again,” Jared said, “and you can take a few doses back to your seat to prevent any more.”

Jensen nodded, not meeting Jared’s eyes, the pain in his head still making it hard to think. He started to feel cold inside, as he realized what was happening: he was trapped again. Trapped. And he couldn't shake the fact that Jared didn’t seem pleased to see him.

“Mr. Marshall,” Jared said, and Jensen brought his attention back around. Jared was preparing an injection. “How many attacks have you had in the plane? That’s in the plane,” Jared stressed, “not including the ones here in the cockpit?”

“Two,” Jensen said, dully. Three of the hijackers were here in the cockpit and two remained in the plane.

“Good,” Jared said. “Here’s an injection now, and I’m giving you three more to take later. I suggest you take the next one at 3 o’clock, since it’s been so long since you had your last dose. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

“Good,” Jared said again. “Now, give me your arm and I'll administer the first injection.”

Jensen looked at the syringe. Anything could be in it. But he had to hope Jared wouldn't hurt him, not deliberately. Slowly, he rolled up his sleeve and extended his arm.

Jared looked down as he inserted the needle in Jensen's arm, then met Jensen’s eyes as he pushed down on the plunger. Jensen couldn't begin to tell what Jared was thinking, and he knew some of that worry was probably on his face. “There, all done,” Jared finally said.

Jensen nodded as Jared removed the needle and put it away, and then handed Jensen the first aid kit.

One of the hijackers snatched it out of his hand and Jared and Jensen both watched as the men investigated it suspiciously. Finding nothing out of the ordinary in the simple plastic box with three syringes, they handed it back to Jensen and ushered him out.

Jensen didn’t look back.

***

He slid into his seat next to Steve, who’d been waiting anxiously for his return.

“Are you OK?” Steve asked, grasping his hand.

“Yeah,” Jensen replied, closing his eyes as he leaned back into the headrest. He wasn't great, but he was all right.

“What’s that?” Steve asked, tapping the box.

Jensen looked back down at the box with ‘First Aid’ written on it.

“A lifeline,” he replied. He glanced at his watch. It read 2:42.

Eighteen minutes to go.

He turned to Steve. “So you’ll go? If we make it out of here, whatever happens, you’ll just leave quietly like you never met me?”

“If you want,” Steve said, looking as unhappy as the first time Jensen had suggested the idea.

“Good.” Jensen bit his lip briefly. “I just want to say… whatever you see me do, or whatever happens to me, I want you to know… I’m not a criminal. I’m not…” A bad person sounded extremely lame, but it was important Steve knew that, so Jensen went with it anyway, “… a bad person.”

“Of course not,” Steve said. “I know.”

“I’m just…” Jensen smiled, a little bitterly. “I've experienced an unfortunate series of events, I guess.”

He opened the box.

“I’m sorry, but I’ve got to get ready now.” He pulled out the syringes and looked at them closely. One had a small green dot on the side near the needle, and he put that one back – it was the harmless one, in case he was forced to take a shot in front of the hijackers. He kept the other two.

Carefully he undid the top of one of the syringes, where a custom-built lid had been put on it specifically for the purpose, and used the other syringe to draw the liquid into it – effectively mixing the contents of the two syringes into one.

He checked his watch. A few minutes to go. He visualized Jared and the rest of the team preparing outside, and drew in a deep breath, relaxing his muscles. He could do this – this was what he’d been trained for, what he’d done all his life.

“When I tell you to, get down in the seat as low as you can,” he said to Steve, who nodded in response. It wasn’t much, but the best he could do.

He looked around casually, checking on the hijackers. There were three in the body of the plane now, and two up in the cockpit, presumably still on the radio making their demands. They were probably talking to Kripke, which made Jensen smile slightly – good luck getting him to give in to anything. When he’d been up there, Jensen had noticed they’d been smart enough to cover the cockpit windows with jackets, so that any snipers wouldn’t be able to see to take them out. They’d also pulled all the shutters down over the windows in the passenger cabin, so there’d be no sniper bullets in here either, if the rescue crew even decided to risk it with the hostages so near.

Of the three in the plane, two were conveniently near Jensen now. He looked at his watch again – five seconds to three - and then with one last squeeze of Steve’s hand and a whispered ‘get down,’ Jensen gripped the syringe with his right hand and clutched at his head with his left, deliberately falling out of his seat and into the aisle with a loud cry of fake pain.

The hijackers reacted instantly, the two closest ones winging their guns toward him and approaching with suspicion.

Jensen waited until they were close enough before twisting suddenly and hurling the syringe sharply at their feet. It broke, and as soon as the mixed liquid was exposed to the air, it erupted instantly into a cloud of dense smoke.

The hijackers lost valuable seconds reacting to the comparatively harmless missile thrown at them (with so many hostages, the contents weren’t toxic), but moments were all Jensen really needed. He followed the syringe’s path and powered into the nearest hijacker, grabbing the man’s gun. At the same time, he pulled the hijacker in front of him and used him as armor while shooting the second man in the heart in one, smooth movement. He heard an explosion and gunfire up at the front of the plane, but ignored it because there was nothing he could do about it. Moving himself and the first hijacker around to face the third, he was just in time for the man shielding him to take the third attacker’s shot directly to the chest.

The look of horror on the man’s face when he realized what he’d done gave Jensen enough time to finish him cleanly with a shot to the head.

The whole process had taken no more than thirty seconds.

As he swung himself and the corpse of the first hijacker around to face the plane’s entrance, armed Organization men dressed in black with protective eye goggles came forward, advancing on him and the passengers.

“DROP YOUR WEAPON,” the lead agent yelled, his rifle pointed directly at Jensen.

Jensen dropped both his gun and the first attacker’s body, and put his hands palm-up in a conciliatory gesture.

“GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR!”

“That’s not—” Even though he’d warned Steve, Jensen didn’t want to be treated like a criminal in front of him.

“GET DOWN! NOW! ON YOUR FRONT!”

Four agents had their guns on him, and Jensen obeyed, dropping to the floor.

Jensen lay on the floor, letting the agents swarm over him and yank his hands behind his back to cuff him before pulling him up.

He ignored the agents calling out the all clear for the plane and moving to check over the hostages, instead concentrating on finding Jared.

There. He was there in the front of the plane, so he’d clearly been involved in dealing with the two hijackers at the front. Jensen scanned Jared for obvious injuries, and then took in the rest of the scene. It seemed to have gone very well, with both hijackers down and just one agent being treated for what looked like a shoulder wound.

Jared met his eyes briefly, before turning around and leaving the plane. Jensen looked down, his stomach uneasy, but then the agent holding his arm was pulling him toward the plane’s exit. He glanced back for one final moment, only to find Steve watching him go.

He managed a small smile for Steve to remember him by, before being pulled out of the plane, squinting, into the sunlight.

Kripke was waiting for him outside, and Jensen’s spine stiffened automatically. He flexed his wrists uncomfortably in the cuffs, instinctively not wanting to be bound and helpless in front of a man he knew would always take advantage of any weakness.

“Well, well, Jensen Ackles. This is quite the lucky surprise.” The mocking tone reminded Jensen forcibly of Morgan. He’d always thought Morgan and Kripke were horribly alike, but never said so, not wanting to compliment either of them. Both men were ruthlessly efficient and totally devoid of mercy in pursuit of their goals. While Morgan had always made sure to find more pleasure in his life than Kripke, Jensen had often thought that only reflected which side of the fence the two of them had happened to end up on. Sometimes the difference between the criminals and those who caught them was an almost indistinguishably fine line.

“Oh yes,” Jensen agreed, resolutely keeping his eyes on Kripke and not on Jared, who had appeared at Kripke’s shoulder. “I do feel lucky.”

“Padalecki tells me the chip still works just fine,” Kripke continued conversationally. Jensen’s eyes went immediately to Kripke’s hands: Kripke had a flair for the dramatic, and Jensen wouldn’t put it past him for a second to punctuate that sentence by confirming the chip’s capabilities. But his hands were thankfully empty, and of course he’d have the sense not to run a demonstration like that in public. “So it looks like you’ll be coming back with us.”

Jensen didn’t respond; there was nothing to say.

“I’ll see you back at headquarters, Ackles,” Kripke continued, “and we’ll have a nice, long debriefing.”

“I’ll look forward to it,” Jensen replied, manufacturing a false smile which Kripke returned just as woodenly before moving off into a waiting car.

There was nothing to do but look at Jared then, so Jensen cautiously raised his eyes. Jared’s look was unreadable, and Jensen just barely managed to keep himself from shifting back and forth from foot-to-foot under that unrelenting scrutiny.

Finally Jared spoke, but not to Jensen.

“Who has the keys to the cuffs?” he asked the agents standing nearby.

“I do,” one of them said.

“Take them off,” Jared told him.

The agent hesitated. “Uh, Mr. Kripke told us all to treat this man as extremely dangerous, and to make sure he was restrained until we had him back at headquarters.”

Jared rolled his eyes. “Mr. Kripke likes to make a big show sometimes. Take them off.”

The man unfastened Jensen’s cuffs, then quickly stepped away from him. Jensen’s reputation was clearly still in full force at the Organization.

Jensen didn’t bother reacting to the display, but instead brought his hands forward slowly and rubbed his wrists, keeping his eyes on Jared.

Jared stepped toward him, and Jensen held himself still, his heart beating a little faster because suddenly it seemed possible that Jared might finally hug him.

BAM. Jared’s fist collided with Jensen’s face, and Jensen staggered back.

Jared stood there with his fists clenched and his chest heaving, and for the first time Jensen got a glimpse of just how angry Jared was. The blank mask he’d been wearing on the plane was a disguise, but now it had slipped and Jared was clearly absolutely furious.

The rest of the agents stepped back carefully. Apparently both of their reputations had preceded them, and clearly no one wanted to get caught in the middle of this.

“I thought you were dead,” Jared said, his voice was tight with barely-leashed anger. “I though you were dead, you motherfucker.”

Jensen’s hands had tightened instinctively into fists under the attack, but he forced them to relax.

His face was throbbing, and he’d had more than enough experience over the years with that kind of injury to know that there’d be one hell of a bruise later. His throat was tight as he stared into Jared’s dark eyes.

“I’m sorry,” he said, helpless in the face of Jared’s anger.

Jared’s fists clenched even tighter and he gritted his teeth. Jensen had no idea what he’d do if Jared hit him like that again. Every instinct would urge him to fight back, but he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to punch Jared when that look was in his eyes.

But Jared turned to the nearby agents instead. “Take him back to Headquarters,” he directed, and then he walked away without looking at Jensen again.

Jensen watched him go.

***

Part 4

Date: 2009-06-30 04:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mangacat201.livejournal.com
Oh my god, that makes me wanna cry so hard... even more than crying over Jensen's plight with Alexis... oh damn, this is so hard!
Cat

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October 2013

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