“What?” Chris couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “What the hell do you mean – seventy-two hours? You said this thing doesn’t work!”
“The timepiece doesn’t work. Or, at least, it didn’t until tonight.” Steve rubbed a hand across his face. “From all our studies, Jensen has seventy-two hours to get back from where he is or he’ll die. And we don’t know what effect that will have on the world where he went.” Steve’s face was grave. “We’ve never been able to send a human across the portals before.”
Steve typed in a few codes on his laptop and pulled up a screen. The title read Similis in Terra Simulation He turned the screen towards Chris.
“What we’ve been able to determine is that the walls between parallel worlds can be breeched at specific places, or portals. We’re not sure why – maybe the separation is thinner there.” Steve pressed a button and Chris saw the simulation of what looked like Terra in the middle and other spheres radiating away from it. The worlds touched each other briefly and moved away in an intricate dance.
“Also the portals aren’t open all the time so it’s not like someone can cross over at the same time and place.”
“So cut to the chase, Carlson. Why does Jensen have seventy-two hours -,” Chris checked his watch. “Make that sixty-eight hours and thirty-seven minutes - to make it back here or he’ll die?”
“While the supermarket rags might have let on that we were studying the parallel world idea, what they didn’t share was that we were able to access them with a stationary location.”
Another click on the computer and an image of what looked like an upright tanning booth appeared.
“We were able to send inanimate items through the portals without a problem. It was the biologicals that became an issue. They all returned at the seventy-two hour mark –.” Steve paused, his face grim. “Let’s just say that they didn’t return in the best condition.”
“What’s that mean?” Chris felt a wave of nausea wash over him.
“They came back altered.” Chris knew what that meant. They came back as good as dead. Steve closed the laptop. “And we have no idea what will happen when a human comes back. If they can come back.”
“Fuck, Steve.” Chris stared at the man. “What do we do?”
“Before the seventy-two hour mark we locate Jensen, find a portal and bring him back home.”
Jared pulled the motorcycle over onto the gravel shoulder and killed the engine. “Okay, get off.”
“What?” Jensen was surprised. “What do you mean, ‘Get off’?”
“Off the bike. I know you speak English.” Jensen could hear anger and fear in the man’s voice. He slid off the back and watched as Jared set the kickstand and threw his leg over the side.
“I’m not going anywhere until I get some answers.” Jensen saw that the aftermath of emotion was kicking in by the look on Jared’s face and the way he was standing, arms crossed, shoulders locked. “Where the hell did you and those – goons – come from?”
Jensen considered his answers. “Well, it depends on where we are now as to where we came from.” That seemed innocuous enough. He tried a grin. “So…where are we?”
“Not funny!” Jared started pacing. “You appear out of some crazy blue light, I get chased by some guys because of a pocket watch, said guys shooting at me with laser guns from Halo 3, you burn my place of employment down…right now I really don’t have a sense of humor.”
Jensen sighed. Jared was ramping up, he could see that. He needed to keep him calm so he could figure out what happened and plan his next step.
“Okay. I’ll tell you, but I was serious about asking you where we were.”
Jared stopped and was regarding him. “Seriously? You don’t know where we are?”
“I wouldn’t ask if I knew.” Jensen felt he was pointing out the obvious, but he cut Jared some slack. He’d probably be this riled up if he were in Jared’s position. “Care to share?”
“Um, Richmond. Virginia.” Jared was worrying his bottom lip like he was concerned Jensen would do something if he didn’t give the right answer.
Focus, Ackles! Jensen tore his eyes away from Jared’s mouth and looked at a point over his shoulder. He didn’t need the flight or fuck instinct to be kicking in right now. He thought about the name Jared gave him. Richmond didn’t ring a bell.
“Do you have a map?” Maybe if he had a visual he’d get a better sense of his location.
“I can get one on my phone.” Jared dug his phone out of his pocket, swiped his finger across the screen, typed in a few words then handed it to Jensen. “There.”
It was a city map. Not going to help. And he’d never seen a phone like this before so he wasn’t sure how to navigate it. “I need something less detailed. Like a country map.”
“That’s easy.” Jared leaned in and showed him how to zoom out to a larger map. Jensen prided himself on not leaning back even though every muscle in his body wanted to. “Here’s a map if the U.S. We’re here.” He pointed to a blue pin.
U.S. Unified States? No. According to the display, he was in a country called the United States. Which looked exactly like his country.
Shit The timepiece worked. He was in a parallel world. Without backup. Except for the tall, handsome guy standing next to him.
Jensen knew he shouldn’t have gotten out of bed this morning.
“Is that what you were looking for?” Jared’s quiet voice broke through Jensen’s thoughts. He raised his eyes to the younger man. “You looked lost for a minute. Not that you’re not – lost I mean. Like really lost…” Jared’s voice trailed away.
“Yeah, it kind of helped.” Jensen rubbed the back of his neck. “Look. This is more complicated than I realized. Can we go somewhere that’s not the side of the road and in the open and discuss it? Please? I promise I’ll tell you what I can.”
He realized he probably sounded pathetic but he was tired and concerned that Sheppard and his men had found transportation and were headed this way.
“You’re right. God, how stupid!” Jared turned to the bike. “I’m an idiot.”
“Wait.” Jensen grabbed Jared’s arm to stop him. “You’re not an idiot. You just wanted answers. I would have done the same thing. Only probably not as calmly as you did.” He chuckled, strangely pleased as he saw a smile flash across Jared’s face. “So, you got a place we can hole up?”
“Yeah, my apartment’s just up the road. We can go there.” Jared climbed on the bike and tilted it up, waiting for Jensen to slide on behind him. He started the engine, and as they pulled out, Jensen heard him say, “I hope you like dogs…”
Jared’s apartment was on the ground floor of a converted warehouse. There were days when he mentally commented on the fact that he worked AND lived in a warehouse. When he mentioned it to Misha once, his friend just gave him a fortune cookie line and offered him a beer.
He and Jensen pulled up to the side and he motioned for Jensen to hop off. Turning off the motor, Jared slid off and walked the bike underneath a small overhand his landlord had built for him to store his bike. Jeff was a bike nut and refused to let Jared’s ride be left to the elements.
Putting on the spare cover, he warned Jensen. “Now my babies are really friendly once they get to know you. Harley’s loud and slobbery and Sadie’s a sweetheart but shy so don’t be offended if she doesn’t warm up right away.”
As Jared unlocked the main door, he could hear Harley woofing and Sadie’s nails scrabbling across the floor. “Calm down! We’ve got company!”
He blocked the dogs with his leg and gestured for Jensen to enter. He expected to feel Jensen slide past him. What Jared didn’t expect was a tiny jolt of - something – as he felt Jensen’s body brush against his.
He shook it off and quickly closed and locked the door. Turning around, he saw Jensen sitting on the floor, his hands in Harley’s fur, the dog licking his face. Sadie was just out of reach, observing the scene.
“Oh, man, I’m sorry. Here let me grab his collar.”
“No don’t. I’m good.” Jensen’s grin was blinding. “He’s a great dog. Aren’t you, boy? Yes, you are!” Jared swore he heard kissy-face noises. “I haven’t had a dog in a while. Missed how much fun they are.”
“I’ll leave you to your mutual admiration society for the moment. After tonight, I need a beer.” Jared headed to the refrigerator. Opening the door, he spied a Corona on the shelf. “Want one? Got no limes sadly.”
“That sounds fantastic.” Jared grabbed another one as he heard Jensen get up off the floor. He handed it to Jensen and watched as the man studied it for a moment.
“Where I’m from, we have Corola. Logo looks just like this.” Jensen took a drink. “Tastes just like this too.”
“Okay. I think we need to talk.” Jared headed to the couch. Grabbing his usual spot he waited for Jensen to sit. “First – is your name really Jensen Ackles?”
“Yeah. Commander Jensen Ackles.”
“Commander? You’re military?” Jensen nodded. Jared wasn’t surprised. After everything that happened at the warehouse, the strange laser guns, the blue light, it couldn’t be anything but. “Wait, which country?”
“That’s the tough part.” Jensen stared at the beer bottle for a moment. “Okay. What I’m going to tell you is gonna sound really weird, so please just bear with me and try not to freak out.”
“No promises. Go ahead.”
“Fair enough.” Jensen paused. Jared could see him debate with himself as to what to say. “How much do you know about parallel universes?”
Jared choked on his beer. “You’re kidding me, right? Misha put you up to this!” Jared immediately rejected that thought. “No he couldn’t. He’d never burn the warehouse down.”
“My best friend.” Jared shook his head. “He tried to fix me up with his cousin who swears that parallel universes are real and Area 51 has technology that can send humans through portals. I told Misha his cousin was crazy and that Misha was an asshole for setting me up with him…” Jared trailed off as he saw Jensen’s amused expression. “His cousin’s not crazy, is he?”
“And you’re one of the Area 51 guys.”
“Well, see. That’s where it gets weird.”
Jared snorted. “Don’t you mean weirder?”
“Okay – weirder. Can we continue?”
Jared waved his hand. “Please do.” He was pretty sure he heard Jensen mutter ‘smartass’ under his breath before he spoke again.
“So – weirder. I’m not part of your Area 51. Actually, I’m not part of your world at all.”
Jared’s brain short-circuited for a moment. “Wait, what?”
“I’m pretty sure that the blue light you saw was a portal that dumped me and the guys that were chasing me into your world. And that timepiece you still have in your pocket is the cause.”
Jared had forgotten that he still had the timepiece. He dug it out of his pocket.
It looked harmless enough. The old brass casing was slightly dented and scratched from being tossed about. Buttons on the top reminded Jared of a stopwatch. There were several watch faces on the front and back – some stationary, others whirring rapidly. He dropped it on the coffee table like it would burn him if he held it any longer.
“So what proof do you have other than this watch thing that you’re from another world? And why were those guys after you?”
Jensen sighed. “Nothing really. You can look at my driver’s license. My phone obviously doesn’t work here so I can’t call up anything on it.” He was quiet again. “And those guys were after me because they stole the timepiece from the military and it was my job to get it back. I did, but they cornered me in an alley.”
Jensen held out his hand for the timepiece. Jared picked it up and gave it to him, watching as he turned the object over in his hands. “It wasn’t supposed to work.”
“What do you mean?” Jared was confused. “If it doesn’t work, how’d you get here?”
“That’s just it. I don’t know!” Jensen huffed in frustration. “We were told it was just a prototype and that it wasn’t active. Whatever happened in the alley was not supposed to happen.”
Jensen tossed the timepiece on the coffee table and got up to pace. Jared could see the tension in his walk. He could also see how the black cargo pants cupped his ass and the slight bow in his stride when he crossed the room to stare out of the window. For a moment he allowed himself to really look.
The man in front of him was stunning. Golden brown hair, spiked in a messy way, deep, moss green eyes, black boots, pants and t-shirt pulled tight over broad shoulders. If Jared ever admitted to having a type, Jensen was it.
Of course he also knew that in a regular situation, someone like Jensen wouldn’t even bother to give him the time of day.
“Stop thinking so loud.” The laughter in Jensen’s voice broke through Jared’s thoughts.
“I can hear you thinking all the way over here. What’s on your mind?”
Jared scrambled for something other than, I was thinking how hot you are. “Uh, just trying to wrap my head around all this.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“So what do we do now?”
“You believe me?” Jensen left the window and sat back down on the couch next to Jared.
“How can I not? You have a laser gun.” Jensen stared at him for a moment and then burst out laughing. It was an incredible sound and Jared wanted to hear it a hell of a lot more. “What?”
“A laser gun?” He sounded incredulous.
“The only people who have those in real life are the military and aliens. And you’re kind of both, so yeah, I believe you.”
“An alien?” Jensen quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Are you from another planet?” Jared finished his beer.
“Then you’re an alien.” He grinned at Jensen’s flabbergasted look.
“You know, you’re dealing with this pretty well, all things considered.” Jensen picked up their bottles and took them to the kitchen. “I’m impressed.”
“Don’t be - I’m freaking out on the inside,” Jared responded dryly. Before he could say anything else, he heard a beeping sound coming from the timepiece. “Uh, Jensen, this thing is beeping. It’s not going to blow up, is it?”
“How the hell should I know? It’s not supposed to work, remember?” Jensen strode into the living room. Jared watched him pick up the timepiece and turn it over.
“Wait – turn it back over. There’s a button glowing.” Jared pointed. When Jensen flipped the piece over, one of the buttons on the side was glowing green. “Should we push it? I mean, we don’t know what it does or anything.”
“Might as well try.” Jensen pressed the button and the beeping stopped. There was silence for a moment and then Jared heard a voice come out of the item in Jensen’s hand.
“Jensen? Can you hear me?”
“Chris?” The relief on Jensen’s face was palpable. “Is that you?”
“Yes!” Jared could just make out what seemed to be cheering in the background. “Thank God!”
Jensen was focused on the voice coming out of the timepiece. It was obvious to Jared that he knew the guy on the other end. “How’d you know to use this as a communicator?”
“Carlson said it was initially designed for that capability and since the timepiece seems to be working, we’ve been attempting to contact you.”
“Yeah, well, sorry I missed your call. I’ve kind of been a bit occupied.” Jared snickered at Jensen’s eyeroll, but immediately sobered when he saw Jensen flip back into his professional mode.
“Chris, what the fuck happened?”
“You managed to make it through a portal.”
“Well, no shit, Eisenstien. I kind of figured that. Where the hell am I?”
“Best Carlson can figure out is you are on Terra 576.”
“That doesn’t help me at all, Chris. I need more information.”
Jared’s phone took that moment to ring. He looked at the caller ID. Misha. Shit! He’d totally forgotten about meeting him. He held the phone up indicating to Jensen he needed to take it.
Jensen nodded and Jared moved into the kitchen, wondering how in the hell he was going to explain this to his friend.
Jensen watched him walk into the other room, trying not to admire the way he moved. He needed to focus. He turned his attention back to Chris. “Dude, this thing was not supposed to work.”
“I know, but somehow it did. You okay?”
“A bit beat up. Sheppard and his boys came over with me.” Jensen rubbed the scrapes on his palm. “But I managed to get away and only blew up one warehouse in the process.”
“Only one? The humor in Chris’s voice helped settle him. If anyone could get him out of this mess it was Chris. “Yeah – we saw the videotapes of your disappearance.”
Jensen took a breath. He seemed to be doing that a lot tonight. “Okay, give me the details and tell me what I’m looking at.” Chris was silent. “C’mon, Chris. No bullshit.”
You have sixty-seven hours and change to find a portal and get back here.”
Jensen’s chest tightened. “Or what?”
“Or you’re probably going to die.” Jensen could hear the unspoken words. If he didn’t get back, his death would not be pretty. Fuck.
“Okay…okay. So find me a portal and zap me back.”
“It’s not that easy, Jen. Finding a portal isn’t like going to the local Zal-Mart and picking up batteries. Steve’s trying to calculate the closest one in the window of time that we have. Once we find it, you’re going to need transportation to get there. Can you steal something?”
Jensen’s eyes settled on Jared. The man was pacing and looked like he was arguing with his friend. “Won’t need to steal anything. I’ve got a ride.”
“How’d you manage that?”
“Made a friend.” Jensen smiled. If almost getting blown up in a warehouse in a parallel universe constituted friendship then he and Jared were BFFs.
“Oh crap, Jen! Why the hell did you do that? We have no idea what your being there will do to the local population! You didn’t tell him anything, did you?” Jensen heard the anger in Chris’s voice.
“Kind of had to, Chris. We popped in on him and, well, set his warehouse on fire.” Jensen paused. “He saved my life, Chris.”
“Well, shit. Can’t change things now.” Jensen almost felt the breath that Chris blew out, signifying that he was thinking. “You think he’ll help?”
“Yeah, I think I do. He’s a good kid, Chris.” Jensen chuckled, watching Jared make faces at the phone and put it back to his ear. “Hasn’t freaked out much yet. Plus he’s got dogs.”
“Which naturally is the benchmark for ANY operation we run.”
“Don’t be pissy.”
“I’m allowed to be. You’re off gallivanting on some planet we’ve never heard of and Aldis screwed up the Korig again. The boy needs to be leaving my coffee alone!”
“Tried to supersize it again, huh?” Jensen smiled. “Chris, you don’t have to cover. I know how serious the situation is. But thanks.
I know, but it makes me feel better. Jensen, we WILL get you home. I swear.”
“I know, brother. I have complete faith in you and the geek squad.” Jensen was about to continue when the timepiece began beeping again. This time, green light appeared on the face. “Chris, what the hell’s going on? This thing is beeping again.”
“What? Hang on.” Jensen heard Chris shouting at someone in the background that he thought sounded like Steve. “What do you mean he’s being tracked? Who the fuck would be tracking him other than us?”
More shouting and Jensen heard Sheppard’s name being taken in vain. Moments later Chris was back. “Okay, here’s the fresh hell. It seems as though the timepiece has a tracking component and Sheppard’s got it. Steve says that a green light means he’s not pinpointed you yet, amber means he’s within a mile or so and red – he’s right on top of you. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen. Steve said they’re not sure of the accuracy because it’s never really been tested.”
Fantastic. Another wrench in an already crap situation. Jensen closed his eyes for a moment to process. When he opened them again he was looking at a glowing amber light.
“Fuck, Chris – it’s amber.”
“Get out of there, Jensen. Now!” Chris’s voice was frantic.
Jensen flew off the couch. “Jared! Get your ass in gear! They’re coming!” He grabbed the bike keys off the front table, hoping that Jared knew what he meant. “We’ve got to leave NOW!”
Heading to the front door, he eased it open and slipped out. Scanning the area didn’t turn up Sheppard or either of his guys. He hurried toward the Harley and had just pulled the cover off when Jared was right behind him, a backpack in his hand.
“Computer,” he replied to Jensen’s head tilt. “Thought we’d need it.” Jensen was impressed with his thinking. Most people wouldn’t be planning that far ahead in a situation like this.
“Let’s go. We need to stay on the move to keep them from finding us.” Jensen took the backpack and thrust his arms through the straps.
“Where are we going?” Jared looked at him questioningly.
“No clue, but we need to put some distance between us and Sheppard and his guys.”
“Then I need to make a stop. It’s important.” Jensen studied Jared for a moment, then nodded.
“Okay, let’s go.” They climbed on the bike and headed out, avoiding the main roads as they sped to Jared’s destination.
Sheppard was furious. He lost Ackles and his large new friend in the chaos of the warehouse fire. They were able to hotwire a car and disappear before the authorities questioned them.
He cursed the tracker – it was worse than useless. Whatever had transported them to this parallel world had damaged the calibration on the unit and he couldn’t get a solid fix on the timepiece. He just knew that when it was green they were close. Its only saving grace was that it beeped when they were within a quarter mile of the timepiece.
After tracking them to a converted warehouse, they’d lost the signal. Sheppard had them pull over in the parking lot so he could regroup.
Getting out of the car, he pulled a cigarette pack out of his pocket. Flicking the flint on the lighter, the end glowed as he put flame to it. Clicking the lighter closed, he inhaled slowly, allowing the slight burn in his lungs to calm him. It killed the taste of burning insulation and siding from the warehouse explosion.
The warehouse was a disappointment. After regaining his equilibrium, he’d hoped to make short work of Ackles, retrieve the timepiece and determine a way to get back home.
Too bad the moose had to fuck things up and help Ackles escape. When he caught up with them, Sheppard was going to do extensive damage to the man helping the Commander.
He took another drag off the cigarette and contemplated his next move.
“Excuse me, can we help you?” A couple had come out of the main door of the warehouse.
“Actually you can.” Sheppard put on his most confused expression. “This sounds silly, but I was almost mugged today and a nice young man helped me out. I didn’t get his name, but someone said he lived here.” He blinked innocently at the girl. “I wanted to give him something for helping me. He’s very tall, brown hair, rides a motorcycle…”
“Oh you must mean Jared.” The boy nodded. “He’s always doing stuff like that.”
“Yes, Jared.” Sheppard spread his hands out in a ‘there you go’ gesture. “But he doesn’t seem to be home.”
“He’s probably at Morgan’s. That’s his usual hangout. Do you know where that is?” When Sheppard shook his head, the boy searched his pockets and came up with a scrap of paper and a pen. Scribbling down directions, he handed them to Sheppard. “There you go.”
“Why thank you.” Sheppard smiled. “I’m sure Jared will thank you when I give him his reward.” He watched as the couple got into their car and left.
Leaning into the window of the car, he spoke. “Gentlemen, it looks like we are going drinking tonight.”
The gravel lot of Morgan’s was packed as Jared drove up. He found a parking space close to the door and killed the engine.
As he got off the bike he saw the angry look on Jensen’s face.
“A bar? This is the important stop?” Jensen waved an arm at the building. “We don’t have time to grab a beer and hang with your friends, Jared!”
“Yes, this is the important stop.” Jared headed toward the door. “And we’re not here to drink. I need to give Misha the key to my apartment so he can take care of the dogs. You can wait by the bike if you want.” He pulled the door open, probably a bit harder than was necessary. He was tired, sore, been shot at, and was covered in soot. He was in no mood for attitude.
As he entered the bar, he felt Jensen grab his arm. “Hey.”
“What?” He kept going.
With a growl, Jared stopped and whirled around. The comment he was about to make died on his lips when he saw Jensen’s face. The older man gave him an embarrassed smile.
“Look, I’m sorry.” Jensen’s eyes met his. “I forgot for a minute that this is totally messing with your life.” He sighed. “I know you have responsibilities here. You don’t have to go with me if you don’t want to.”
Jared blinked. It had never even occurred to him that he wouldn’t go with Jensen.
“Um, can we discuss this somewhere that’s not right at the door?” Jared scanned the room and saw Misha, Sandy and Genevieve at a corner table. “There’s Misha. C’mon.” He led them over.
Pulling up a couple additional chairs, he motioned for Jensen to sit. “Jensen, these are my best friends Misha Collins, Sandy McCoy and Genevieve Cortese. Guys, this is Jensen Ackles. I’m kind of…helping him.”
“So this is the guy that blew up your warehouse?” Sandy glared at Jensen before turning to Jared and smacking him on the arm. “ Why didn’t you call us? Do you know how worried we were?”
“Ow!” Jared rubbed the place where she’d hit him. “I’m sorry. I was kind of busy.
“But you’re okay, right?” This from Genevieve. Even though they were no longer together, Jared knew she worried about him.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” He gave her a smile that he hoped reassured her.
“So what happened?” Sandy snagged some of the leftover fries that were in the basket on the table. “We saw the news report on the bar TV and Misha said you were fine. And that you were with the guy that caught the place on fire.”
Jared didn’t know exactly how much to tell them. Or how much they’d really believe. “Um…”
“Actually, Jared saved my life.” Jensen interrupted. “I can’t tell you much, but basically, some bad guys were after me, we wound up in Jared’s warehouse and they accidentally set it on fire…” Jared listened as Jensen spun a tale that he almost found himself believing.
The grin Jensen gave him had Jared’s insides twisting in a funny way. “…and then he roared up on his motorcycle and rescued me.”
“Aww.” Genevieve sighed. “Wow. Were you scared?”
Jared glanced at the girls and did a double-take. They were gazing at Jensen like he was a rock star. Or that guy they liked from the show about those two brothers.
Really? He couldn’t believe it. Genevieve was flirting with Jensen.
“I need a beer.” Jared got up and headed to the bar. He knew he shouldn’t drink, but the flash of jealousy he felt when Jensen was telling his story to the girls unsettled him. He’d known this guy less than three hours – what did he have to be jealous about?
“It’s always unnerving to have a visceral reaction to another human being, isn’t it?” Misha had followed him and was leaning against the oak counter. “One always wonders if said reaction should be underplayed or taken advantage of.”
“Been talking to your marketing department again?” Jared motioned to the bartender and mouthed ‘Coke.’ He figured better safe than sorry.
“Nope. That’s all me.” Misha held up two fingers. He leaned against the bar and motioned to their table. “Interesting fellow you picked up there.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” Jared muttered.
“So tell me.” The bartender handed them the two sodas. Misha took a drink, his eyes never leaving Jared’s. “What’s so special about him that’s got you practically growling at the girls?”
“I wasn’t growling.”
“Jared, if you were Harley, you’d be foaming at the mouth.” Misha paused. “There’s more to the situation, isn’t there?”
Jared sighed. He never could keep anything from Misha. It was unnerving, actually. “Would you believe me if I told you he was an alien?”
“Probably. No one that attractive could ever be human. It’s no wonder you want to fuck him.”
Jared choked on his drink. “Misha!” Coughing, he tried to catch his breath as he glared at his friend.
Misha just shrugged. “What? I’m straight and I want to fuck him.”
“Would you keep it down!” Jared looked around the bar, hoping no one had heard them. He wasn’t a prude, but his momma taught him some manners.
“Fine. No more talk of fucking.” Misha finished his drink. “But what makes you think he’s an alien?”
“Well, not like the little green men alien. But he’s from another world. A parallel one to ours.”
“And you know this how?” Jared could see that Misha was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Because he appeared out of a glowing blue light.” Jared ran a hand through his hair. “And he has this pocket watch thing that I guess is a transporter. And the guys that were after him had laser guns. That’s what caught the warehouse on fire.”
Jared quickly told him the uncensored version of the evening’s events, including the communication with the people back on Jensen’s world. “And so he needs help getting to one of the portals so he can get home.”
Misha was quiet for long moment. “Okay,” he said, finally. “I believe you.”
“You do?” Jared was shocked. He barely believed it himself. To have Misha say he believed him went a long way in reducing his stress level.
“Yeah. No way you could have made up all that. Plus, you wouldn’t have burned the warehouse down intentionally.” Misha sighed. “You know what this means don’t you?”
Jared shook his head.
“It means my cousin was right.” Misha’s face broke out in a big grin that Jared couldn’t help but return. “But I’m not going to tell him because I’ll never hear the end of it.”
They stood in silence for a moment.
“So…” Misha’s voice was quiet. “You’re going with him, then.” It wasn’t a question.
“Yeah.” Jared looked at the table where Jensen was laughing with Sandy and Genevieve. “I guess I am.”
“Do you know where you’re headed?”
“Nope. His people haven’t figured that out yet.”
“You’ll need money.” Misha reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Digging through the cards, he took one out. “Take this. It’s got a two thousand dollar daily limit.”
“Misha – I can’t.” Jared began to protest but Misha cut him off.
“Yes, you can. You’ll need it.” Misha pressed the card into Jared’s hand. “It’s what I can do. Please.”
Jared stared at his friend. “Okay.” He looked at the card. “Wait, it’s got my name on it. Mish?” He searched his friend’s face.
“It was for when you wised up and came to work for me.” Misha had a sheepish look on his face. “But I think your direction may not be in the herbal drink business after all.” He tilted his head towards the table.
“Someone’s looking for you.” Jared turned back and saw Jensen watching him over Sandy’s head.
Not taking his eyes off the other man, Jared leaned in to his friend. “Misha, am I crazy? I’ve known him less than three hours.”
“No.” Misha smirked at his friend. “You’re just twitterpated.”
“I am not Bambi.” Jared protested, but he knew Misha was right. He was hung up on the guy.
“Jared.” Misha tapped his arm. “Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump,” he said quietly. “And something tells me Jensen is worth jumping for.”
Jared grabbed his friend in a tight embrace. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” Misha hugged back then slapped his shoulder. "Now let's get back to your boy before the girls steal him."
They headed back to the table just in time to hear Jensen telling Sandy and Genevieve a complicated story that involved superglue, a pineapple and a catfish.
Jensen paused and smiled at Jared. “You guys okay?”
“Yeah.” Jared smiled back, thinking of what Misha had said about jumping. “We’re fine.”
“Did you give Misha your key?”
“Oh, crap, yeah. I need you to watch my babies.” Jared dug his keyring out of his pocket and quickly pulled the key off. “There’s a full bag of food in the pantry. If you have to buy more, keep the receipt.”
“Not a problem.” Misha attached the key to his keyring. “I’ll make sure they’re taken care of.”
“We need to head out, Jared.” Jensen had risen from the table and was about to head to the door when Jared heard him utter a curse. “Fuck, Sheppard’s guys just walked in!” He grabbed Jared and pulled him into the corner. “Is there a back way out of here?”
“Through the kitchen, but that’s on the other side of the bar.”
They were stuck. Jared felt his blood run cold. These guys wouldn’t hesitate to shoot up Morgan’s if it would mean they got the timepiece.
“I have an idea. Sit down.” Misha shoved Jared down onto a chair and motioned for Jensen to do the same. He turned to the girls. “We need to hide them. Pretend you’re on a date and sit on their laps now.” Sandy and Genevieve quickly moved from their seats and plopped on each man’s lap.
“Now kiss them so you can hide their faces while I figure out a way to get them out of here.” Misha tossed the comment over his shoulder as he hurried toward the front door. Jared got a glimpse of him talking to Clif, the bouncer, before Genevieve wrapped her arms around him, whispered ‘sorry’ and locked lips.
It was the weirdest feeling ever. Like kissing his sister. Which explained one of the reasons they broke up.
Jared couldn’t help himself. He glanced over to where Sandy was kissing Jensen.
Jensen was staring at him, his eyes clouded with what looked like lust. And it was directed at him. Jared felt like he’d been punched in the gut. He squirmed in his seat, half-hard, trying not to let Genevieve know he was aroused.
A commotion at the door grabbed their attention. Clif and the other bouncers were manhandling Sheppard’s men out the door, yelling something about drugs and fake IDs.
Misha was back with two of the regulars in tow. “This is Todd Scott and Mike Carpenter. They’re gonna help us. Now give me your coats.”
“Why?” Jensen had stopped kissing Sandy and she slipped off his lap. “What do you need our coats for?”
“Todd and Mike are going to be you.” He motioned to the the two men. “They’re about your height and coloring and with your jackets on they should pass well enough to give you some lead time.” Jared shrugged out of his coat and handed it to Mike. He saw Jenson do the same to Todd.
“Oh, and Jared, I need the keys to the Harley.”
“Wait, what?” Jared was confused. “What do you need my keys for?”
“Because they are going to ride off on your bike.” Misha rolled his eyes at Jared. “Hello – decoy.” Misha grabbed the keys out of Jared’s hand and gave them to Todd. “I figure it’ll take about forty-five minutes before they realize that the guys on the bike aren’t you.”
“Make sure you stay ahead of them,” Jensen warned. “Sheppard is dangerous.”
Jared watched Todd and Mike put on their jackets, grab the bike helmets and head out the front door.
“Okay, so how are we going supposed to get out of here?”
“I have transportation ready.” Misha’s smile scared the shit out of Jared. He stared at his friend as realization dawned.
“Oh no. No! We are NOT taking the Love Mobile.”
“It’s gassed up and out back.” Instinctively Jared caught the keys that Misha threw at him. “No one will give it a second look.”
“That’s because they’ll be too busy laughing at the first look.” Jared grumbled to himself.
“Um, what’s the Love Mobile?” Jensen looked concerned.
“It’s Misha’s ride,” Jared said shortly. “It’s – well, you just have to see it for yourself. Let’s go.”
He grabbed Jensen’s hand and pulled him towards the kitchen.
“Keep in touch,” Misha called after them. “Oh, and don’t touch the stash under the third seat. I’ve got plans for that.”
Jared shook his head. He loved Misha dearly, but there were times….
They quickly zigzagged through the staff in the kitchen and made their way out the back door. Jared rounded the corner, Jensen close behind. He stopped and pointed.
“That, sir, is the Love Mobile.”
He heard Jensen gasp, “You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!”
Under a dim streetlight sat Misha’s vehicle. Iridescent purple paint covered most of the body, with swirls of green and orange from tip to tail. The top was sunny yellow.
“Nope – Misha’s pride and joy.” Jared began walking towards the vehicle.
“That’s…that’s…” He heard Jensen trail off.
“An abomination. Otherwise known as a VW Bus.” He turned to see Jensen’s face.
“It’s purple.” Jensen stood there staring.
“And green.” Jared unlocked and opened the door. “And it’s our ride. Get in.” He slid behind the wheel and reached across the seats to unlock the passenger side.
Opening the door, Jensen climbed in. Shutting the door behind him, he noticed the stick shift. “Uh, Jared.” He motioned in between them. “What’s that?”
“The gear shift. Why?” Jared pulled the seatbelt across himself and clicked the latch.
“Because we don’t have that where I come from and I have no clue how it works.”
Jared wanted to hit his head against the steering wheel. “I’ll drive. It’s probably better that way anyway.”
“Sorry.” Jared glanced at Jensen. He looked upset and stressed and Jared could see that not being able to control the environment was taking its toll.
“Hey.” He touched Jensen’s shoulder to get the other man’s attention. “It’s gonna be okay.”
“Yeah.” Jensen didn’t sound convinced. As he buckled in, Jensen sniffed the air, his nose wrinkling. “What’s that smell?”
Jared sighed. “You really don’t want to know.” Starting the engine, he put the bus into gear. With a spray of gravel, they pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the road.