Word Count: 7545
Summary: This is the end of Jensen's long childhood. Master Patrick was good to him. Mistress Padalecki was good to him. It was not meant to be unkind….
The end of part 6
It Was Not Meant To Be Unkind part 3
The next evening, Mistress invited the boys to her suite for tea. Jared, of course, had asked for a pot of cocoa instead of tea—Jensen cast a pointed look at the little pot, and the over-flowing cup of whipped-cream set in a bowl of ice. Jared stuck his tongue out at Jensen, then gave Jensen a dimple-framed grin. "You don't know what you're missing," he laughed, and dropped a dollop of cream into his cup. "How can you not like chocolate? What kind of a Padalecki are you?"
Jensen giggled, and Miss Amanda shushed him, but she was smiling too.
Mistress poured for Jensen and Amanda—something she did often when she and Jensen met privately. Jensen blushed to have her do so in front of Miss Amanda and her son—as far as he knew, Jared had no idea that his mother sometimes called for Jen late at night. Jared watched his mother pour and then pass a tiny dish of sugar cubes around. He looked surprised...and pleased, smiling at Jensen like Jensen had done something clever.
Jensen enjoyed his tea and sweet cakes while Mistress spoke a bit about the seemingly endless series of meetings and brunches and dinners she'd had, with companions she complained to Jared were very tedious people, in no way as interesting as Jared and Jensen.
"One more dinner with stodgy old men and their simpering companions and I'll positively explode. I think...as a treat to ourselves, we will attend a play—no, it can not be a movie, Jared—"
Jared's eyes went wide; he looked scandalized—and amused. He gave Jensen a side-ways look. Behave Jensen mouthed, and hid his own smile behind his teacup.
"Yes, dear child, I know what you children call the cinema these days. We will save the cinema for another night, and then it will be your turn to choose what we see. As for my choice—"
The play they attended, Mistress' choice, was Our Town—the review Jensen had read in the papers Mistress passed on to him described it as quite an advent-garde production. He wasn't sure what that meant, but it put him in mind of Master Patrick, and for a split second, he missed his former master, and those naive childhood days on the old master's estate.
The play proved to be fascinating, even Jared was spellbound by the production, or so he claimed when he sneaked a few minutes with Jensen during the intermission. He and Mistress were seated comfortably—and of course apart from Jensen and Miss Amanda—in the VIP section; Jensen and Amanda sat in the thrall boxes high above the stage, which Jensen loved. He could see every aspect of the play, including the fascinating work behind the scenes, from where they sat. He thought it added to the magic of the play, though all of that was completely lost on Miss Amanda, who struggled mightily not to fall asleep. Her only comment on the play was, "For allgods sake, Lucky...what the hells is everyone pantomiming about?"
Jensen was still under the spell of the performance as they stood curbside, waiting for their cab. The world was full of truly amazing things, he thought. Airships and rotopeds and creating magic from metal and glass and now this--the ability to make oneself over completely—to become another being, all in the course of a few hours—to make magic!
Mistress was speaking quietly to Amanda about something, when Jared loudly demanded his mother's attention, bringing Jensen back to earth.
"Mother, Mother, please,"Jared begged, "Can't Jensen and I go on ahead—on foot? I'm absolutely dying for an ice cream cone and there were some vendors a few blocks from our hotel and if we buy ice there Jensen won't have to wait until I'm done and we won't have to search for a place where thralls are allowed to buy a treat and I promise to buy only one—"
"Jared, do be quiet and take a breath—several. If it will buy your momentary silence, than yes, you may. masterHouseMaid and I will meet you at the hotel."
"Thanks, Mother," he yelled and raced up the street, "I'll beat your there, Jen!" he cried. Jensen felt a shiver of misgiving. He wasn't sure about running after Jared on a public street...what if someone thought he'd stolen something? And there was being on his own without the safety of wearing a uniform....
The vivid memory of the young boy being pushed into the dark between buildings by a freeman chilled him. What if….
Jensen jumped when his shoulder was seized in a firm grip; he was pulled away from the direction his master took. His mouth went dry in sudden fear. He took a risk, and raised his head, went weak in the knees—thank TheFour, it was Mistress Padalecki behind him.
"When you get back to the hotel, go to Jared's room and help him pack. It seems that we must cut our trip short, sadly. Explain to Jared, and have coffee or tea sent up for him...no, make it a hot chocolate. You get one as well. I've already alerted the hotel from the theater's Phon. 'HouseMaid and I are making a quick stop, and then we'll meet you at the hotel. Behave—make sure your little master behaves as well."
Amanda waited until Mistress started to climb into the cab before hooking a finger in Jen's shirt collar and pulling him close. She pinned her Estate medallion on his shoulder. "There. I'm with Mistress and in uniform, but you're alone on the street with only another boy, master or not...this should afford you protection." She scowled. "She should not have let Jared talk her out of you wearing your uniform...there. All right then, Lucky, don't forget you have money in your pocket, and don't let Jared overeat or buy too much." She winked at him. "Make sure your little master behaves."
"No, Miss Amanda, thank you, Miss Amanda. I'll make sure that he will."
They shared a smile over Jen's small joke, then Jensen took a few steps after Jared, who'd gotten a good head-start. Out of nowhere, a hot wind knocked him sideways, seconds later a loud bang deafened him. Just as he turned to look behind, something hot punched his chin—the hit heavy enough to push him into the side walk. Pieces of flaming wood and shards of metal and glass blew past. He had no idea what was happening, but he distinctly heard his master, heard Jared screaming for his mother as night fell, black and thick as tar.
He blinked, grimacing as some sticky substance pulled at his eyelids, his mouth tacky with whatever it was...tasted of pennies….
He parted his lips. Not pennies, blood.
Silence...a heavy, stifling, quiet.
A slice of the sky overhead. Blink.
Warmth ran down his cheeks...he felt odd. Disconnected to his body. Nothing hurt, maybe there was nothing left of him to feel.
The silence burst, became a high-pitched ringing in his ears, the ringing slowly became alarms keening, whistles shrilling. He heard police sirens then, heard men shouting.
Feeling came back to him in a painful rush—he was on fire, the pain made him cry out. The world jostled and jumped, his narrow slice of sky winked in and out, his skin burned, his bones felt like they were splintering—his head felt like one of Jared's footballs in use. The pain grew and grew, and then, the sky settled again. He was on his back—and gods, he was hurting.
It took a few minutes for him to work out what had happened. He'd been dragged off the sidewalk, out of people's way.
Something—someone—touched his chin, and the flare of pain it caused made him gasp. He could feel the hot, sticky flow of blood, and tried to jerk away from the grip.
"Stay still, thrall," a rough voice ordered.
Jensen was scared, in pain and in no way capable of keeping any kind of form or control at all. He tried to get to his feet without pushing the freeman away. "No, I, my master. I must help, I have to find—Master," he screamed, tears washing tracks through the blood and ash smeared into his skin.
"Thrall—boy—" The voice softened. "Please, son, just lie still. Don't make them call the Knick-Knack."
Jensen froze in horror. He stared at the man looming over him, finally seeing him. A freeman, of course, but he had a somewhat kind look, almost sympathetic, Jen thought. "What...where is Jared? I mean, my master, Jared. Is he hurt? Please, I have to help him." He sat up; a wave of nauseating pain folded him over. The man tentatively patted Jensen's arm.
"The tall boy with long hair? He's fine, fine. The police have taken him to safety." The man turned his head, and mumbled something that Jensen heard despite the man trying to hide it. "Took him, and left you lying on the sidewalk like trash."
A strong voice cut through the noise. A woman thrust herself into Jensen's sight line. "Sir, if I maybe allowed—" She held up a blue med kit. "I'm service, and a licensed physic to thralls." She held her wrist out as well, there was a small blue cross tattooed there. "I'll take a look at him, if it's allowed?"
"Blessed Eir, yes," the man sighed. "Please do." He reached past the physic, and patted Jensen's arm rather gently, considering. "You'll be okay, son."
Jensen shuddered. "Please, Master, please...I'm afraid," he whispered, and more tears broke loose.
The man looked conflicted at first, and then, all fight left his expression. "All right then, young one. I'm right here," he murmured, and took Jensen's hand. "Do you like music? Did you know that—"
He spoke, and kept on talking while the physic worked on Jensen. There in an alley way, she cleaned his wounds: pulled a sliver of metal from his side, cleaned and spread ointment on various scrapes, cuts, and burns, finished off with a few stitches in his side and his chin.
"You're fortunate, thrall. You are mostly unharmed. If you're very careful, and tend to the damage, your value will not be harmed."
While the physic spoke, a cart pulled up. Sitting in the rear were Hugo and a couple of the hotel's roomgirls, holding an armful of blankets.
"There you go, young man," the freeman said. "You were very brave," he said. "I pray the Four look over you." He hesitated, then leaned forward and kissed Jensen's forehead. "I'd be very proud if my own sons where half as brave as you."
He called the physic over, and Jensen heard him talking to her, heard him pay the physic. Jensen tried to tell him that Mistress had come for him, that she'd most like pay for his care, but if not, Jensen had some money of his own; the freeman just waved Hugo over, and then he was gone.
'Houseboy, with the help of the two roomgirls loaded Jensen into the back of the cart, and took him away. Jensen glanced back. There was blood everywhere on the sidewalk, the doors of the theater were blown to bits—the cart turned the corner, and he sank into darkness again.
Jensen spent the rest of that day and into the next evening alone in his hotel room. No one came to look at him that whole day; when night fell, a roomgirl finally entered. He quietly set a plate of food down on the lamptable next to Jensen's bed, and asked if he needed help eating.
Wincing, Jensen sat upright, swallowing a groan. "No...no, I'm pretty sore, but I can handle a spoon and some soup."
"If you say so, Jensen. But I don't mind helping, really I don't," the roomgirl said, and turned a brilliant red. "Oh, I was also supposed to tell you, Mister Hugo said he will likely come by at the end of his workday to visit you. I'm...I'm sorry you got hurt," the little boy blurted out. Blushing again, he sketched a wobbly little curtsy and fled the room.
Jensen stared after. What a peculiar child, he thought, he must be barely out of toddlerhood. Reminded him a bit of a very young Jared—Jensen gasped. Jared! Here he lay, for days, and selfishly hadn't given one second of thought to his master, or his mistress...and where was Miss Amanda? As property of the Padalecki estate, she should have come to check on his condition. Jen struggled to remember the evening before, but all he got was noise, and light, and the impression that someone had been kind in a rough sort of way….
He was rocked by an abrupt flash of memory—Jared screaming for his mother.
What the hells had happened?
Suddenly there was a commotion in the hall outside, and seconds later his door flew open, and several men in uniform filled his room. One grabbed him by the arm—the sharp tug opened a stitch in his side and the unexpected flare of pain made him yelp before he could stifle the sound.
The grip shifted, a hand pulled his shirt high, exposing the purple and yellow bruises splashed all over him, along with dots and streaks of red left by glass and small bits of burning metal—it revealed too, the rash-like wounds he'd gotten being dragged across the sidewalk and dumped against the side of a building, out of the way. The policeman made a disgusted face and shoved Jensen back towards his bed. Thankfully Jen managed not to end up on the ground.
The policeman scrubbed his hand against his thigh like he'd touched something slimy. Growled, "What did you see at the theater, thrall?"
"I-I- last night? We saw, um, Our Town—"
The policeman smacked him, not hard enough to bowl him over, but it took a second for his eyesight to settle. "I don't mean that, yer fucking idiot. What did you see outside the place?"
"Nothing, I didn't see anything, sir, mas...ma...sir…?"
"Sir is fine." The other policemen laughed at Jensen. The one eyeing him said, "You're from the countryside, aren't you? A rich one's pet, eh? You don't have no idea how to act."
Jensen nodded, "Yes...sir. But I'm a houseboy trainee, sir. And school companion for my master."
The other policemen seemed to lose interest then, they wandered around Jen's tiny room, emptying the lamptable drawers, dumping the items out of his pullman and raking through them.
"Do you know what a dirigible captain is, thrall?" the one who'd slapped him asked, eyes focused on Jensen's, like a harrier on a mouse.
"Yes, sir, it's the man that flies an airship, sir." Jensen met the policeman's eyes, he nibbled at his lip, and said,"The captain is the head pilot of the dirigible, and he directs—"
"Yes, fine, fine. All right. Anything, boys?"
One of the men held up the last of the money Jim had given Jensen when they left the estate.
Another one held up a scarf. "Like this. Nice, the wool."
"Yer an idiot," the policeman Jen assumed was in charge said. He turned back to Jensen. "Someone will come to get you, I guess. You stay in here until they do. You hear and understand?"
"I do," Jen whispered, the words almost catching in his throat. When was someone coming? He couldn't even ask. All he could do was watch them leave, one of them wearing his scarf, the other counting his money….
Hugo came the early the next morning, before the sun rose.
When Jensen saw who it was, he immediately sat up and pushed his covers back, made quick work of wiping his face—Eir forbid Hugo see Jensen crying like a toddler in bed.
Jen's attempt at calm was a waste of time; Hugo's smile was too full of sympathy, the bowl he held out to Jensen shook slightly in his hands. It was oatmeal, and Jen could tell it was made with milk, and it was topped with slices of some creamy fruit.
Jen shook his head, trying to hide a fresh onslaught of tears. "I...I have no money for food, masterHouseboy. The policemen took it all. And I don't know how long Mistress paid for our rooms and neither Miss Amanda or Mistress have returned yet to tell me what to do." He'd woken with the horrible thought that maybe she'd taken her maid and her son and returned to her estate, writing Jensen off as too damaged to be of value anymore.
"Oh...no one has…? Oh, my little dear," Hugo said, his face going an ashen bronze. He set the bowl down. "You eat. You will pay nothing; you will not worry about it."
He took the chair next to the bed, and eyed Jen's suitcase, not completely repacked since the policemen had rifled through it. The drawers of the lamptable still hung open, empty of what he'd put in them.
"Jensen, your estate 'Houseboy and his assistant are on their way to retrieve you. When they arrive does not matter in terms of your comfort. You won't be on the street, and certainly not go hungry until then. The Hotel has had a pass-around for you."
"What? Why?" Jensen was startled by the very idea, somewhat uncomfortable...actually, very uncomfortable with the idea that the hotel thralls had done that. Why would a group of strangers do such a thing for him, and how was he going to pay them back? Would Mistress be angry if they came to her for reimbursement?
Hugo reached across the narrow space between them and patted Jen's hand. "Jensen. You just have no idea, do you? People...they like you. You pull them in just by being...you." Hugo smiled at Jen, but dropped his eyes after a moment. "I have bad news for you, sweetheart. Mistress Padalecki and her masterHouseMaid are. Well, no way to say to sugarcoat it. They're dead. Killed in the bomb blast that injured you as well. Skadi only knows why, but your mistress, the 'HouseMaid, and the cab driver were the only casualties of the attack. We don't know why it happened, but the police do not believe it was an accident." Hugo shrugged, obviously unimpressed with the conclusion police had come to. "Those cabs—they're notoriously ill-maintained. It happens. But. She was wealthy, influential, and young. People are always going to manufacture conspiracies in those circumstances."
Jensen barely heard anything Hugo said after "Killed in the bomb blast."
Mistress was...dead? Amanda? It couldn't be possible. Hugo must be wrong—
"Where's Jared? Does he know? Oh, on Skadi—how he must be panicked—please take me to him, masterHouseboy! He needs me—I need him!"
Hugo looked even sadder if possible. "Jensen, Jared is at his home estate. They took him away immediately. He was returned by aeroplane. Mistress Padalecki and her 'HouseMaid are also making their final journey homeward. By Philadelphia's flagship dirigible, Njord's Sail. It's a great honor…"
Hugo trailed off at the look of sheer misery on Jensen's face. He couldn't help it, but Hugo seemed to understand that Jen meant no disrespect. It was just, Mistress was gone, and that meant Jared would be on his own for three days...who was taking care of him? Probably masterCook...she was the only other person Jensen would trust with Jared's welfare, especially if Jim was on his way….
"Please do not worry too much, Jensen. Your masterHouseboy, and...and...your MasterTech? Are on their way, they should be arriving sometime this evening."
Jensen nearly fainted in relief. Jim and MasterTech Michael were coming? He almost fell into tears again at the enormous relief he felt. If Jim was coming, all would soon be settled. Or as settled as anything could ever be again.
'Houseboy and MasterTech arrived the next morning. Jensen was not surprised by their reactions—masterHouseboy was supportive, in his own gruff way, and MasterTech practically swamped Jensen in an emotional tsunami, flailing helplessly in his desire to make Jensen feel better, while also not adding to Jen's stress by treating him too much like a freeman in front of strangers.
Jensen took his leave of Hugo, and shortly after they departed the city. The train Jensen rodein this time was small, grimy, and crowded, but took them directly to the areostrip—the arrangements for their return journey were made so quickly, Jensen wondered how it was possible. Jim hinted that for a well-connected person, like Mistress Padalecki was—had been—life was very different, nothing at all like the average freeman's. Her name was enough to facilitate the speed with which they were able to leave the capital and make their way back home.
On this homeward flight, Jen was on the second deck, with the luggage and the thrall cabins. At least, he and Jim had cabins facing each other. Being from the Padalecki estate still gave them some small privileges, like having a choice of what cabin they wanted, since the tier was deserted but for them.
Jensen set his pullman down, and looked at his quarters. The cabin was tiny, box-like, and of course, lacking a door. His cot might as well have been a couple of boards laid over trestles, topped with a few sheets of gauze pretending to be a blanket, for as comfortable as it was. It was stuffy and dark, but he didn't care that there were no observation ports; he didn't feel like looking at the skies.
He ate his dinner alone, a bland, bean-heavy soup of the type most smallhold thralls ate—he hadn't eaten a soup like it since he was a toddler, before Master Patrick, and before his family was sold apart.
Jensen was damn grateful when they landed. The return trip seemed faster than their departing trip, but had been cold, and terribly dull, caged on the thrall level and not able to seek out MasterTech. His mind was full of bleak and sad scenarios—so much worry about his master, and for the estate. When they landed safely home again, Jim herded him quickly off the airship and to the luggage and thrall off-load area. There they stood, silently waiting for Michael to come for them. Jensen watched a string of youngsters trot past, too young to be collared to their leash, so they were belted to it instead. They bumped and stumbled into each other, sniffling, but the Seller leading them was patient, and only prodded them gently in the direction he wished them to go. Lucky youngsters to have such a patient Seller; it was probably their first sale, Jensen thought. He hoped every one of them was lucky enough to be sold to an estate that would value them.
As the youngsters were prodded onto a wagon, MasterTech came walking swiftly towards the off-load. He looked very apologetic when he retrieved Jensen and Jim from the thrall waiting area.
"FourGods, I'm so sorry, Jensen, Jim—I had no idea. I haven't traveled much, and when I do it's alone...the captain explained where you were when I went for our bags and didn't see you...and here you are in this, this...Eir, Freyr and Skadi, this forsaken land," he whispered, and shook his head.
For their part, neither Jim nor Jensen were too upset. Jensen didn't really understand Michael's reaction; it was just life. Jensen figured he hadn't the right to be upset considering—the trip hadn't been so bad, and neither had the off-load. Without Jared being there, he didn't much care about the frills and such anyway. He was just desperate to see his master again.
Finally back at the estate, Jim and Mark had questioned him much more thoroughly than the policemen had. They seemed to want to assure themselves that Jen had seen nothing. When they finally decided that such was the case, they sent Jensen to the bathing hall, and then to bed in a different spot, far from his usual nook—and Jared's room. Jim walked with him, a pensive look clouding his face. Right before unlocking the door to Jensen's temporary room, he said, "Lucky, I'm truly sorry that you had to go through this. The Cloister Hotel's masterHouseboy explained everything. You did well. The policemen...did...are you in good shape?"
"Yes, masterHouseboy. I truly am fine. The Cloister's thralls were all so caring, and...I'm fine." He dropped his head, and whispered harshly, "They did not touch me, in any way."
Jim nodded, looking very relieved. He drew a hand through his patchy beard and sighed deeply. "You must step up now, Jensen, and be the right hand Jared will need you to be. It's all come earlier, much, much too early, but Jared has been training for this, and you have been training for this, and with the help of all the estate, things should go well."
Jim's worried belied the confidence of his words, but Jensen nodded. Really, the estate would back Jared up completely. The thralls all thought of him fondly, or had appreciated Mistress Padalecki and would certainly support his young master in her honor. There was no doubt in his mind that all would be well.
In the morning, Jensen finally saw Jared strolling alone along the kitchen garden path. He was dressed rather haphazardly in one of his older wool coats, no hat, but sporting a long scarf trailing in the brisk breeze. As he walked, he tossed candied nuts into the air, catching them in his mouth—most of them, anyway.
"Jared," Jensen shouted, and then totally broke form by running to him, forgetting everything in his excitement at being reunited with his master. He was shocked, and hurt, when Jared pushed him violently to the ground.
"You! You left me alone," Jared shouted. "Where did you hide, I looked all over for you!"
Jensen stayed where he'd been knocked to the ground, heart and body crying out in pain. He raised his head to Jared, but kept his eyes properly lowered, hoping to appease his master and erase the embarrassment of his outburst. "I'm sorry, Master, I swear I am!" He took a shaky breath and croaked, "Should I go to the posts?"
Jared jerked back, his eyes going wide with horror. "No!" he cried out. Dropping to his knees, he reached out to Jensen. "Oh, Jen, I'm such an—I was so scared. Mother is dead, and—and – I thought, you were dead, and I was all alone! I was so afraid that you died, no one would tell me anything and then they stuffed me in an aeroplane by myself and sent me home and I thought you were dead!"
He dropped his head onto Jensen's chest and cried, sobs shaking him. He held onto Jen with a grip of iron, accidentally digging his fingers into the worst of Jensen's bruises. "All I could think was with Mother gone, and you gone, why bother? I – I wouldn't want to live without you."
Jensen ignored the pain that Jared's frantic grip caused, he managed to keep his voice level and low, kissing Jared over and over again as he assured him that, "Never, Jared, I'd never leave you of my own will."
Jared sat back, scrubbing his jacket sleeve over his face—his cheeks red with moisture and the chill breeze. "I know that. In my head, I know that," he said, and laid a hand on his chest. "But my heart kept telling me otherwise…oh gods, just come on." He jumped up, and pulled Jensen to his feet, dragging him off the path, towards the house—and, no doubt, Jensen thought, his room. He staggered after Jared, barely able to keep to his feet with how fast Jared ran—surprised at how strong Jared's grasp was. Jared...well, he'd grown, somehow without Jensen being really aware of it, he'd changed. Jen kept thinking of Jared as his little charge, but...fourteen. Jared was fourteen, and somehow he'd gotten nearly eye-to-eye with Jensen. He was certainly as strong. His shoulders were a bit broader, now that Jen really looked at him, and his jaw was sharper, no baby-fat to soften the edges now. His hair was thicker and darker, none of the curled, thin wisps of todddlerhood left.
Jared was looking at adulthood now, childhood dead and gone…
Alone in Jared's room, Jensen immediately dropped his jacket, then unbuttoned Jared's and drew it off, along with the ridiculous, too-long scarf. He giggled as he unwound (and unwound) it, but Jared's eyes on him were hot, not a trace of laughter in them. Jared wasted no time on words; the moment Jensen finally had the last of it off his neck, he planted a broad hand in Jensen's chest and pushed him down onto the bed. Before Jensen could breathe, Jared was climbing up over him, pushing him deeper into the comforter. Jen was speechless with shock, staring up at his master, whose actions seemed so alien, so unlike Jared. His expression, though, was every bit his little Jared—hazel eyes wide and shining with tears, lips trembling as he pressed his forehead to Jen's. Jensen's eyes closed with relief. His Jared was still there. Jensen closed his eyes and inhaled, the scent of burned sage and cedar tickled his nose. Jared must be sitting for his mother, of course he was...Jensen wondered who was with him, and decided it was probably Michael, soft-hearted old thing that he was.
Jared's face was pressed into that space between Jensen's neck and shoulder now; he babbled, "Jen, I was so lonely, so scared. Jen, I was so cold. I've been cold since they told me. Mother….Eir and Freyr, Jensen...my mother's gone, forever!"
He fell on Jensen, his hands like claws scrabbling for a grip on Jensen's bruised shoulders. He crushed their mouths together, sucking and biting at Jen's lips—crying quietly all the while. Jensen felt hot shivers run all through him, disgusted with himself that Jared's grief aroused him, horrified that he wanted Jared to want him more than anything else. He wanted to get closer to Jared, wanted to crawl inside him and not think, not feel anything else but Jared ever again.
His hips rose with the thought; he groaned when Jared shifted, making it obvious he was as hard as Jensen was. Jared shoved himself against Jen, pulled back, then shoved forward again. Jensen spread his legs wider so that Jared could slot more comfortably between them, get closer, because it felt so good—they squirmed and rutted against each other, their trousers doing nothing to muffle the sensation of their cocks dragging against each other. Their frantic movement rucked Jared's shirt high, baring skin. The second he realized it, he pawed at Jen's shirt, ripping it out of the way so that their bare bellies slid against each other.
Jensen gasped at the touch of warm, damp, skin—gripped Jared's thin hips to pull him even tighter against him. He squeezed his eyes tight, torn between desire and pain as Jared squirmed all over him, rubbing against smooth skin and damaged without noticing.
Jensen was deep inside himself, his mind intent on searching out his pleasure, when something warm and wet hit his cheek. Alarmed, his eyes flew open to Jared staring at him, tears now running freely down his face and dripping off his chin. Jared's eyes were almost a true blue now, swimming with tears as they were. Jensen reached out to wipe the tears away, and ran his thumb over the sweet little mole near Jared's nose, cupped his wet cheek. "Master…."
"Gods, Jensen, just, gods, shut up,...please." He reared upwards, scrubbing the wet roughly from his face. He made a business about shoving his hair off his face, stealing time to compose himself. His eyes moved restlessly over Jensen, around the room...coming to rest on the door. He slid off the bed, muttering, "I'm, uh, going to lock the door. And then, you, we'll get, we'll uh, get out of our clothes, all right?"
Jensen nodded and sat up, beginning to undress himself. He watched Jared hurry to the door; his cheeks, his nose, the tips of his ears, all were a bright red. He turned back to Jensen, who'd just stripped down to his underclothes. Plucking at the hem of his own shirt, he pointed at Jensen and said, "Your clothes, Jen. All of them. Off." Jared's voice shook, but Jensen could hear a hint of command in his tone.
He stared as Jensen took his underclothes off, undressing as well, letting his clothes drop in heaps to the floor in contrast to Jensen, who folded every item of clothing and carefully put them on the floor, then sliding them slightly under the bed and out of the way.
Jared walked quickly back to the bed. Jen could tell Jared was struggling not to cover himself, trying to look in command of the situation. His master's uneasiness made Jen nervous—what was going on in Jared's head? Was he...Jensen had only as much experience as Jared had. He'd had some training, a bit—a few books and a talk he'd been given by the physic—under Mistress Padalecki's orders. She'd said at the time, he needed to know enough to keep them from injuring each other. And really, it had never gone farther than them using their hands on each, what the psychic had called frottage,. which he liked very much, and rarely, fellatio—though after the incident with Clyde and the other boys and their thralls, Jared had increasingly chosen that over mutual masturbation….
The bed bounced, and he was back in the here and now, Jared laying full length on him, his expression strangely blank. Jensen swallowed a gasp of pain and surprise, and got a whiff of burned sage and cedar again, solid proof of Jared's grief. He managed a smile for Jared, hoped that Jared could see just how much he wanted to help.
Jared shuddered and closed his eyes, went back to his earlier rocking motion, this time more immediate, more intense, with nothing between their bodies. Jensen felt Jared's cock twitch and roll against his belly. There was less drag now; he could feel the slick building up between them. The crown of Jared's cock caught on his, the sensation such a pleasant one it forced a loud moan out of him.
Jared hissed, shook his head impatiently. He grabbed Jensen by his shoulder, and flipped him so he lay on his belly. Pulled Jen's legs apart, and then...stopped for a long, long minute…Jensen was just about to ask him what was wrong, when he felt Jared's hands prying him open. His finger jabbed and poked uncertainly at his hole, a bit of roughness catching on the sensitive rim in a way that wasn't entirely bad, but—
"Jared—wait a moment—"
"No, no, it's okay, don't worry, it's fine, okay, don't be a baby—"
Jensen knew Jared was working himself up to taking what he wanted, but this was new, something they hadn't done together and Jensen had to figure out how to take control without seeming to. He heard Jared curse, and the bed rocked with him shifting his weight. Taking advantage, Jensen wiggled away from Jared's probing finger and hastily whispered, "Please, Master, there's oil in your bed table!"
Jared froze, his hand on Jensen's ass tightened painfully...but Jensen heard the night table drawer opening, and some rummaging about, thank Freyr. Jared was back; a click and a pop, and then there was the sudden sensation of cold dribbling over Jensen's clenched pucker.
"Relax, open for me," Jared muttered, and Jensen did his best to relax his muscles as Jared worked some of the oil into him, fingers going from poking carelessly to stroking—Jensen imagined Jared must be examining the feeling of what it was like having his fingers in Jensen, how it felt to stroke him inside, and how it felt to have Jensen tighten on him.
"So soft," Jared whispered, "so hot..." He gave an exploratory tug at Jen's rim, and Jensen shuddered. It felt good, really good. Jared pushed his long fingers inside, rubbing around the rim with his thumb. Jensen moaned when Jared pulled his fingers free—not more than a few moments later, Jared shoved his cock inside, all at once, and Jensen yelped with the shock of it.
Jared froze, then began moving, punching his hips faster, faster, while Jensen gnawed his lip and did his best to loosen his muscles. He could hear Jared babbling, so low it was obvious he was talking only to himself.
"Take it, take my prick, oh fuck, you're good at this, feel so damn good, gods, so hot inside, so tight—"
After the initial shock and burn, Jen's body eased, he began to soften, spread for his master. His erection had faded when Jared pushed in, but he was more than halfway to hard again, and starting to enjoy the feeling, the sensation of tugging at his rim—he'd not known just how sensitive he was there, but thrill after thrill rushed through him. He could do this forever, feel Jared push him open—in, out—Jared's cock hot as he claimed Jensen was inside.
Jensen was just beginning the climb to his long fall into orgasm when Jared froze; he shouted, his hips jerking roughly as he emptied his cock inside Jensen.
Jensen squeezed his eyes tight, pushed the heel of his hand into his mouth and bit down on a frustrated sob as Jared pulled free of him and rolled over to spread-eagle on the bed.
"Jen, that was fantastic! Best thing I ever felt—wasn't it the best—Jensen?"
Jensen rolled over as well, adjusting the sheet to cover himself as best he could. "I'm so happy, Jared. I'm so pleased I could help you."
Jared smiled, and kissed Jensen. "You did help." He looked at Jensen, smiling into his eyes, letting his gaze wander down Jensen's body—he frowned. "You didn't come?"
"Oh, I...I...I'm fine."
"No, let me, your poor prick. I guess…" Jared blushed. "You didn't have enough time to—?"
"Oh! no, it's just...my instructor said, I mean, I was taught that, well. We, um. Need a little more sometimes. More, um, friction," he stuttered, and Jared barked out a loud laugh, clapped his hands over his mouth.
"Oh, I see. Well, I guess you know more than I do about this...what with taking classes in it and all. With that Nihonese physic, what was his name? I didn't like him," Jared muttered.
"Kobe, and, and, it wasn't. Not like that. I wouldn't..." Jensen muttered, blushing hot and miserable. "He's the estate's physic, which you really should know, Jared..."
"Oh. Really?" Jared frowned. "Hunh." He shook his head, then gave Jensen a sweet, little smile. "Anyway, I know you wouldn't, Jen. I was just teasing, I know Mother didn't allow you to be used like that." He started to smile, but it faded right away.
"Mother," he whispered, and the tears came again. Jensen gathered him in, hugging him, letting the touch of his skin give Jared comfort. They feel asleep, tucked in together and Jensen completely forgot about his own needs, tending to his master's.
They woke again in the early evening. The sun had just begun to set, but the room was warm—his fire grate had been lit. One of the roomgirls had come in to check on them, no doubt at Jim's orders.
"Oh, perfect, warm on the outside, now to get warm on the inside!" Jared called for cocoa, and poked the fire up to make it hotter. "I've been cold ever since we came home."
He made Jensen change into a night shirt even though it was only early evening, and they got under the thick covers of his bed together. Jared's roomgirl brought the cocoa and a little plate of assorted treats, all Jared's favorites, Jensen saw. She set up bed trays, quietly and efficiently, before turning to Jared, eyes bright with unshed tears.
"Master, please, can I do anything else for you? Is there anything at all you need?" she gestured to the tray. "We thought you might like this, but we can get other—"
"Oh no, Tam, this is just great, thank you. You can thank everyone and let them know we're down for the night." Jared smiled at her, and Jensen hid his own smile at the way Tam immediately pinked up, dropped her eyes, and gave an adorably perfect curtsy before quickly leaving the room.
"Jen, oh, Jen!" Jared grabbed Jensen's hand before he could reach for the coin-sized mince pie he had his eye on. "I was in an aeroplane! An aeroplane..." His eyes welled. "I didn't enjoy it when it happened, you know, but now that I'm home and I think about it...an aeroplane.
Jensen leaned back against the pillow, mince pie forgotten. "Oh my...that's right. What...what was it like?"
"So different. Like – a flying train car, but bigger! All wood and velvet, and really quite fancy. One of mother's associates…" his eyes welled again, and spilled over. "Someone she worked with, Sultan someone, sent me home in his private aeroplane out of respect for her."
He stopped and played with the edge of the comforter for a few seconds before looking up at Jensen. "I don't think I knew my mother at all."
Jen poured Jared cocoa, loaded it with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, and made him drink it all, and prodded him to eat as well. At first Jared complained bitterly that he wasn't hungry, but as Jensen suspected, it was just a matter of reawakening his appetite and he finished off the tray. Jensen got him interested in a book Mistress had gifted him before their trip, The Sword in the Stone, and went off to the kitchen to get another tray of food from the night staff.
The next few days went by quietly. They didn't do that thing again, and Jensen really didn't mind that much. Jared had kept Jensen in his bed though, and that was something Jen did like very much. Sleeping tangled up together, breathing each others' air...Jensen felt warm and safe, comforted, and he believed that Jared felt the same way—was sure of it, the way Jared kissed him softly each morning they woke together.
"Jim said that Mother's funeral arrangements were almost complete. They're just waiting now for attendees from overseas," Jared sighed, his voice a little thin and shaky.
They were coming back from a walk—something they'd started doing since Mistress passed—taking the long way back from the orchard. Jensen took his hand, and murmured what he hoped were encouraging words. He'd spoken to Jim as well, earlier in the week, wanting to know how Miss Amanda's remains would be disposed of. Jim assured him that she would be cremated and buried on the estate. It had given Jensen a great sense of comfort to know that.
He'd worried—just a bit—that her service might be ignored, that her body might just be given to the Knick-Knack man. He was deeply relieved to know that her journey ended here, with people who knew who she was, what she did. Padalecki Amanda, masterHouseMaid of the Padalecki Estate, favored companion to its mistress, in service and beyond. Jensen nodded to himself.
A private marker, and an epitaph. There was no greater honor than that.
They were just cresting the little hill that let them see the front of the house and the driveway, when Jared interrupted himself mid-description of the candies he'd been offered on the Sultan's aeroplane. "Say hello, Jensen—what the hells is that?"
There was a large, old-fashioned horse-drawn sedan pulled up in the driveway, an electric rent-cart behind it. Jared, of course, ran off to see what was going on, Jensen running full-out after him to keep up.
When they drew close to the house, Jensen saw Jim on the porch, looking like he was chewing on lemons, but trying to keep form. It looked odd to Jensen—in all the time on the estate, he'd never seen Jim standing like a thrall before. Mark was standing behind him, his form picture perfect in contrast to Jim's. Mark's was face was smooth and blank and proper as all hells, but there was thunder in his eyes.
"Jared," Jim said, and pointed to a thickly-built man standing in front of several liveried footmen. The man turned to face them, his eyes lingering on Jensen as if he knew him. "Jared, your father has come."