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Fic Title: Never Tell


Artist: [livejournal.com profile] nazarivega
Author: [livejournal.com profile] essene
Fandom/Genre: RPS, Romance
Pairing(s): Jared/Jensen (side pairings: Chad/Sophia, Tom/Mike, past Tom/Danneel)
Rating: R-ish
Word Count: 12,000+ (OMG)
Warnings: sexual situation, werewolves, homophobia
Summary: Jensen Ackles moves to a new town that is not all that it seems.

Also on: AO3 (coming soon!)

I apologize profusely for the formatting, I forgot what a bitch LJ can be. I'll be back to fix it as soon as I can.

Author's Notes: I hadn't intended to participate in the [livejournal.com profile] spn_reversebang this year, so I didn't initally claim anything, but soon regretted it.  I became an avid watcher of the pinch-hit comm and was so excited when this prompt came up.  I want to thank [livejournal.com profile] nazarivega for making her lovely art piece that inspired this fic.  I wish that my muse had gotten on board sooner in the process; while I got the prompt in December my muse didn't decide to play nice until last week and then it decided that this prompt deserved an EPIC.  I dearly wish I could have given it that.  I can say that I have so many timestamps in my head right now, it's not even funny.  If only I had another week!

Anyway, although [livejournal.com profile] nazarivega was pretty clear about what she wanted to see in the fic: "Underage, First Time, Homophobia, violence; Jensen moves to a new town full of werewolves, although he doesn't know that yet, and he starts at a new school where he mets Jared." I only delivered on maybe one of those things in all my spewing of words.  I'm so sorry.  You deserve MOAR.  I hope that you at least find a tiny bit of satisfaction in the story that's to follow.

Massive thanks to the ever-patient, ever-willing, ever-wife [livejournal.com profile] dancetomato for listening to me whine, reassuring me that I could do this and beta-ing at the last hour.

Fic title stole from Violent Femmes.




NEVER TELL

123065_original




Jared watched as the slightly bowlegged figure walked the length of the pool deck. He scanned the broad shoulders, narrow hips, and wondered idly what was hidden by the baggy black swim trunks. Dark, blue-tinged hair that was haphazardly spiked, in stark contrast to the fair skin covered with a smattering of freckles. As the guy walked closer, headed for the diving board, Jared could see eyes shadowed with smudged eyeliner--again, clearly slept in. Most suprising was the glint of metal coming from the guy's nipples: piercings. Not something you saw on a regular basis in small-town Virginia. He was intrigued.

"Who's the new guy?" Jared nodded toward the diving board as the guy climbed the ladder rungs.

Sandy turned her head and looked over her sunglasses, "Dunno, never seen him before." Then she settled back into her sun worshipping pose.

The guy strode out onto the end of the board, body smoothly countering the wave and bob of the springs as if he were walking across solid ground. He turned, placed the toes of his left foot and then the toes of his right on the very end of the board. Heels hanging off, he smoothly raised his arms above his head as he bounced a few times before pushing up and back into a neat and clean somersault, slicing cleanly into the water.

Jared let out a long, low whistle. The most action that diving board got was some swan dives and more than a few cannonballs.

He followed the dark path the guy cut under the water, making it to the opposite end of the pool in no time flat. Watching as the mysterious guy sluiced the water from his face, Jared suddenly felt restricted even by his loose swim shorts. The guy was goddamn gorgeous. Thick-lashed green eyes, high cheekbones, strong jaw, and a mouth for sin. Jared tightened his focus and followed the path of freckles scattered across the guy's nose, down the length of his neck and the jut of his collarbones, over his shoulders and down his arms where they crossed on the side of the pool.

It was a shame that Jared couldn't smell him. One of the things he liked most about the pool--the sublimation of all smells to the chlorine, the relief of being nose-blind for awhile--was now a cause for aggravation. He wanted to know as much about this guy as he could and right now one of his most important information gathering tools was out of commission.

A solid whack to the chest startled him out of his fixation. "Hey!" Jared brought a hand up to where he was smarting and looked over at Tom.

"Knock it off, man. You're scaring the natives." Tom jerked his head in the direction of the kiddie pool where some of the kids were crying and scrambling out in search of their mothers--no idea why their raucous joy had suddenly turned to inexplicable nerves. He must have been subvocalizing. Damnit.

"Sorry."

"Dude, I'm not the one who you need to apologize to," Tom looked in the direction of the wailing children and befuddled parents and snickered, clearly enjoying the bit of mayhem Jared had inadvertently caused.

Jared sighed. Human children were so much more receptive to the world than adults. Too bad they didn't understand even half of what they were seeing or feeling. On the upside, they didn't stay affected for long. As if to prove this, the little tykes were already making their way back to the shallow pool reserved for their antics, and before long, the shouting and splashing was back at full bore.

By the time Jared's attention returned back to the pool, the mystery guy was gone. He scanned the water and the bodies on the pool deck, but none of them were pierced, freckled or bowed. It was a small town, and it wouldn’t do for the alpha’s son to go running after the first piece of fresh meat he saw. Jared relaxed back into his chaise and closed his eyes watching freckled skin and green eyes play across his eyelids as he bathed in the warmth of the sun.

*************

A week earlier...

Jensen hated moving. Well, who didn't? But this was their fourth move in 2 years, and he was just so tired of packing and unpacking and trying to act like he didn't hate it so that his mom wouldn't give him that look. That look that used to say: "Honey, I'm sorry, but you know how your dad is." And he did. And he knew how his mom was. And that didn't make any of it any better. If anything, it made it worse. He was 17 years old and the longest he'd ever lived in the same city was 3 years. His dad was a wanderer and his mother, well, his mother loved his father. And Jensen and his brother and sister were just stuck with the results of that love. Move after move after move. Now that look said: “Bear with me honey, I’m trying.” It made him feel guilty. Now that Dad was gone, maybe they’d have a chance to actually settle someplace. That would be a welcome change and he couldn’t find it in himself to feel sad about that.

Also on the upside, there was a pool nearby, and the neighbors didn't seem like total douchebags. Their last neighbor in Las Vegas, Mrs. Minchout, was a piece of work. Jensen thought that his mother was going to punch the old biddy in her face the last time she had come upstairs to complain about them WALKING from one room to another. Jesus, what a fucking bitch.

Jensen looked out his bedroom window into the neighbor's yard where he could see Danni reading a book while her dad grilled on their huge Weber. Danni had seemed pretty cool when he met her yesterday. She helped him carry a few loads of bags in from the U-haul while her dad helped his mom tote stuff in from the car. It wasn't often that people--neighbors--actively made an effort to welcome, or even get to know new people who moved in near them.

Yesterday, they had made their way up the stairs and into the room Jensen had claimed as his own: corner room in the back, looking out over the backyard that was shaded by a massive oak tree. His sister had claimed the one at the front of the house--they would share the bathroom in the middle and their mom would settle into the master suite that took up the rest of the second floor. Josh had snagged the bedroom on the first floor closest to the kitchen. It was probably meant for guests, but they wouldn’t be having any of those...

“God, it’s so good to finally have a neighbor I don’t have to babysit.”

Danneel-call-me-Danni flopped down on the one chair that had made it to Jensen’s room after she dropped the bag she was carrying near his closet.

He tilted his head and looked at her questioningly.

She swept a few stray strands of auburn hair from out of her eyes before explaining. “The Finches had 5 kids under the age of 8. It was frigging exhausting.”

“Wow.” He blinked. That was pretty impressive. He couldn’t even imagine having that many brothers and sisters so close in age. Mac was 2 years younger and Josh was 2 years older, but the thought of having 2 more siblings squished in there…he shook his head in wonder.

He’d moved over to the nearest stack of boxes as Danni continued, “Yeah, if I wasn’t babysitting, I still felt like I was on watch all the time. Yelling at them over the fence in the back, breaking up fights in the front...too much drama,” she looked at him seriously, “I’ll tell you what though, best fucking birth control in the universe.”

He let out a bark of laughter at her blunt honesty, “Well, at least that’s something I’m not going to have to worry about.”

“And why is that, praytell? You’re going to have girls all over you with that angsty-punk thing you’ve got going!”

He looked up from the box of odds and ends that he’d opened, “I’m gay.” He waited for her reaction and was pleased when she squinted at him slightly and then smiled.

“Awesome! I’ve always wanted to be a fag hag.”

He laughed again, he was really starting to like this girl. “Well, don’t look for me to start braiding your hair, giving you fashion advice, or dishing on any of the latest gossip. I’m afraid I’ll be a severe disappointment in that department.”

“Hey, as long as I have someone who is over the age of 10 and I can talk to about sexy guys, I’m happy.” She stood up, and headed for the door, “Come on sweetcheeks, let’s get you moved in the rest of the way!”

Jensen followed behind feeling better about this move than he had in a long time.

***************

Jensen jerked awake, heart thundering in his chest. There was no remnant of a nightmare, no flash of terror, rather a sense of something impending, something that he should be expecting...he shook his head and let it drop into his hands. He took deep breaths trying to calm himself and then he heard it: a long plaintive howl. One lone, bone-shaking note cutting through the night and into his heart. He'd never heard anything like it. And the way his body was reacting: hairs raised, muscles trembling, breath hitching, blood pumping...he'd never felt anything like it either.

Minutes--moments?--later there was a baying chorus that seemed to be an answer to the earlier solitary outcry. Jensen collapsed back onto the pillows with the force of feeling that shuddered through him. He lay on his bed sweating and panting as though he'd just run miles. He lay hoping--dreading--to hear more of the wild call from outside his windows, but nothing came.

He was exhausted, both physically and emotionally. He'd done nothing but listen and still he felt as though he might come apart at the seams from the the slightest touch or word. Completely wiped out, he eventually drifted back into a fitful sleep.

*****************

In the morning, he left a note for his mom saying he was headed to the pool and would be back in time for lunch.

Walking down the sidewalk he heard, "Hey good-lookin'! What'cha got cookin'?" and turned to see Danneel grinning at him from a yellow Geo Tracker that had it's roof off. She slowed to a stop next to him and motioned for him to get in.

Jensen pulled open the door and settled into the bucket seat.

"Where ya going?" Danneel asked as she put the car into first and set off down the road.

"Heard there was a pool nearby and thought I'd check it out."

"Yeah, it's a couple blocks up and then you take a left on Henry Street. It's by the elementary school." She glanced over at him, "Hope you put on some serious sunscreen, it be a shame to see that pretty nose peel." She grinned.

"Ha-ha, mom." Jensen snarked back. "Don't worry, I slathered myself in it before I left. Wanna join me?"

"Can't. Would love to, but can't. I got myself a job this summer so I could put gas into George here," she ran her hand lovingly over the dashboard, "and I gotta go open today."

"George?" Jensen snorted, "Aren't cars girls?"

"Cars are, but George here isn't a car. He's my baby, and he's a HE."

Jensen smiled at her, "All right then. George it is. Where do you work?"

"Pretty, Pink, Posh," Danneel made a gagging expression. "It's a 'boutique'," she released the wheel briefly and made air-quotes as she said the word 'boutique.' "But it's easy and air-conditioned and I can put gas in my darling and go where I please. So it's okay."

Daneel pulled the Tracker to a stop and said, "Here ya go toots."

Jensen looked and they were in front of low brick building that had "Community Pool" on it.

"Thanks."

"No problem."

Jensen got out of the car and closed the door.

"Hey, I get off at 3, I'll come over and help y'all unpack."

"That's real nice of you, but you don't have to." Jensen leaned in the window.

Danneel rolled her eyes, "I know I don't have to, but how else am I going to get to see all your most secret and prized possessions?"

Jensen laughed, "All right, I'll see you later. Thanks for the ride."

"No problem, have fun, play nice with the other kids and listen to the lifeguards!"

Jensen watched her drive away and then turned and walked into the building.

***********

Later that afternoon, good as her word, Danneel showed up to poke through Jensen's stuff, alternating between arranging his bookcase, hanging clothes, painting her toes with his collection of nailpolishes and cackling when she found a particularly worn copy of Seventeen magazine that just might have been even more worn on a spread of River Phoenix.

Through it all she kept up a consistent banter that Jensen found both amusing and comforting. He liked this girl. Really liked her. It had been a long time since he'd had a good friend and he hoped that they would continue on just like this: easy and uncomplicated.

"We're going out later." Danneel said this simply and as fact.

"Oh really?" He turned from where he was plugging his stereo into the wall. "And what makes you think I'm going anywhere with the likes of you?"

"We'll you've been here nearly 48 hours and the only people you've met are me and my dad. I know you didn't talk to anyone at the pool 'cuz Misha called to ask me who the punkish silent guy with the piercings was." She looked up at him from where she sat going through his music collection. "Let me see 'em Ackles. Also," she held up a cassette case, "Who the fuck are the Violent Femmes?"

He sighed and turned, lifting up his shirt to bare his pierced nipples, "They're an alternative band. They're kinda angry and edgy."

She held the cassette out to him, "Hmmmm. Put them on, lemme hear." Squinting at him, she continued "Didn't that hurt? I mean, damn, straight through and everything."

Jensen took the cassette, put it in and pressed 'play' and soon "Kiss Off" was blaring through the room. He turned it down a little, sat down next to her and started putting the tapes into their holding tower in alphabetical order by band name and then said, "Yeah, it hurt a little, but it was the healing that was the real bitch. Now they just feel...nice." He blushed a little to admit it.

He'd gotten them mostly to spite his father and because Josh had said that he was only play-acting with his whole "wanna be punk" look. He'd found a place in Seattle that had been willing to pierce him without parental permission. It had looked less than sanitary from the outside, but the guy had used gloves and iodine and everything. Jensen had followed the care instructions like they were a religious mandate and he'd healed up just inside of two months. He hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to his nipples prior, but now...

"So do you twist them while you, you know," Danneel made a hand gesture like she was jacking someone off.

"Danni!" Jensen was caught off-guard. No one had actually ever come out and asked him before. And he never would have thought to expect it from a girl, "Jesus!"

"He ain't here right now Jenny, just you and me. Now come on and tell your Aunt Danni everything," she cooed at him and smirked.

"You're a very bad girl Danneel Harris."

She giggled at him, "No, really, tell me."

He looked at her, what the hell, why not? "Yeah, I play with them when I jack-off. And sometimes, just 'cause they're there. It's sorta cool to feel them move around and it's made my nipples a lot more sensitive than they used to be."

Danneel made a moue, "Well, that leaves me out then. Mine are already so sensitive that I can barely stand it sometimes. When I was dating Tom he always had to feel me up from the side."

Jensen got up, "All right, we've officially veered into 'too-much-information' territory and I'm hungry. Want some nachos?"

"Naw, I told you, we're going out! Eating's part of that. We can go early. I'm sure some folks will already be there...as a matter of fact, I know Misha and Mike probably will, they pretty much live there in the summer."

"Where are we going?" Jensen asked.

"You'll see." Danneel reached over him and stopped the tape, then grabbed his hand and dragged him down the stairs and out to her car.

As they drove to wherever it was they were going Jensen asked the question that had been weighing on his mind all day, "Danni, are there wolves in this area?"

Danneel didn't answer right away and Jensen stopped watching the town slip past them and turned to her. Her eyes were on the road but, her knuckles had turned white where they gripped the steering wheel.

"Danneel?" Concern laced his voice.

She coughed and loosened her grip on the wheel, "Why do you ask?"

He watched her intently, "I'm pretty sure that I heard some last night. Sounded like a whole pack of them."

She hummed non-committally, but didn't volunteer anything.

Jensen was beginning to worry-get frustrated-become confused. "Danneel, it's a simple question: are there wolves in this part of Virginia?"

Danneel huffed and let out a forced laugh, "I'm not a zoologist or whatever Jensen, I don't know."

He pressed, "You've never heard them?"

She finally looked at him briefly before turning back to the road ahead, a brief flash of something crossing her features. "You hear all kinds of things at night Jensen, especially in small towns out in the middle of the country. Could be anything."

Jensen decided to let it drop. It was clearly something she didn't want to talk about and he didn't feel like he was in any position to press. They'd only just met yesterday and he liked her. He wanted (needed) a friend.

"Yeah, I guess. One time in Idaho, I thought I heard ghosts--even in the daytime. Turned out it was the neighbor's cows."

Danneel laughed for real this time, "Ghosts? In the daytime, Jensen? Really?"

"Hey! I was six! And they were weird sounding cows."

*****************

The place they wound up turned out to be a bowling alley. Jensen hadn't been bowling since he was 10 and his mother decided that it would be a good "family-outing." He'd bowled a 34. With the bumpers up. He was definitely not feeling good about this.

They entered and he followed Danneel who turned left--away from the bowling alley--and led him through a clump of pool tables to a bunch of booths hidden away in a corner. There was a group of people there already, three guys and a girl sprawled out across a banquette with a bunch of food baskets and soda cups strewn across the table. Danni made a beeline for them and Jensen trailed behind.

"Hola bitches!" Danni called, her arms spread wide.

"What's shakin' Danni?" A bald guy with twinkling eyes and a toothpaste bright smile called back. He was taken off guard by the bald head--seriously, how many people in high school were bald? Maybe the guy had cancer or something.

"Hi Danneel," A quiet greeting came from underneath chin-length brown hair that was streaked with gold. When they reached the table, the guy looked up and Jensen thought his piercing blue eyes looked vaguely familiar.

The other guy and the girl at the table were cuddled close together. The girl was practically on the guy's lap, and they were definitely more interested in each other than the new arrivals. Danneel made a disgusted face at them and said, "That's Chad and Sophia. They're pretty much attached at the lip. Unless they're fighting. Which is a lot." She pointed at the bald guy, "That's Mike. Don't trust anything, and I mean anything he says."

"Hey!" Mike looked affronted and made an exaggerated "who me?" gesture.

Danneel blew a kiss at him, "You know I love you baby." She continued by sitting down next to the last to be introduced and leaned up against him, "And this is Misha. Don't be offended or surprised by anything he says. Guys, this," she gestured towards Jensen, "is Jensen, my new next-door neighbor and best friend."

"Hey!" Sophia broke away from looking at Chad and crinkled her brows at Danneel. Danneel just grinned back at her.

Misha looked at Jensen, "You're the nipple guy."

Jensen was caught off-guard, then he remembered Danneel mentioning something about a guy named Misha being the lifeguard "Uh...yes?"

Misha smiled widely then and wrapped an arm around Danneel. Jensen felt a little twinge of jealousy. It was clear that Danneel and all of these people had been friends for a long time. It was one of the things he hated most about moving. It always felt like he was on the outside looking in. There was all this history that he had no clue about and it happened over and over and over....

"What can I get y'all?" a slow drawl came from just over Jensen's shoulder and he turned to see a petite older woman with long brown hair, a generous mouth, and hooded brown eyes looking expectantly at him.

Jensen turned back to Danneel who was motioning him over to sit next to her.

"Hi, Sam," Danneel answered brightly as Jensen sat. "We'll have two Cokes, and two chili-cheese fries." Danneel looked at Jensen briefly to confirm that this was okay and he nodded.

"Coming up sweetie," and she turned and walked briskly away.

"Dude, what's up with the skirt?" The squinty blond kid who Danni had introduced as Chad asked, "and the hair? And, dude, is that make-up?" Chad said the last with a note of incredulity.

Before Jensen could answer, Danneel said, "It's called a kilt, Chad, you undereducated moron." She looked at Mike, "Rosey, you're closer, smack him."

Without a second's hesitation Mike's hand darted out and thwacked Chad solidly on the back of his skull.

"Ow!" Chad rubbed at the spot he'd been hit. "What was that for?"

Misha spoke, "For being you."

Everyone at the table, including Jensen, grinned.

The rest of the evening continued about the same. Any awkward questions or moments were quickly dispelled by Danneel or another of the group--unsurprisingly, it was Chad who asked the most idiotic and personal questions. By the end of the night Jensen found that this small group of people now knew more about him than possibly anyone else on the planet save Chris and his own family. And it had been fun.

Danneel pulled into her driveway and Jensen thanked her for a great night.
“Every night you spend with me is gonna be a great one, sweetheart.” She grinned cheekily at him and then suddenly hugged him tight. “I like you Jensen, and I hope that this time is going to be different for you.”

Jensen was unprepared for Danneel’s burst of sympathy and just patted her back gently before she stepped away.

“‘night!”

“Sleep tight.” He said back, not quite sure why he said it, but it was clearly the right thing as she gave him a blinding smile before heading for her door.

Jensen went into his own house and up to his room. He flicked on his bedside light and then flopped down on his bed. He thought about Danneel’s words to him and thought over all the things that had been talked about at the bowling alley tonight. He didn’t usually reveal so much about himself to...anyone. But there was something about Danni and her easy camaraderie that made him want to put himself out there. And even though it had been just over 24 hours since he had met her, he felt safe with her. Which probably went a long way to explaining why he felt like he could talk to Misha, Mike, Sophia and even Chad. If Danneel liked them, they couldn’t be all bad, right?

He was still pondering the evening and his own uncharacteristic behavior when he fell asleep.

***************

He was sitting on the side of a lake, moonlight reflected as shimmering petals on the rippling water. It was cold enough that he could see his breath, but he didn’t feel cold. It was a gorgeous night; moon high in the sky, chittering of small animals could be heard in the background and an occasional owl hoot. The trees rose high and thick around the clearing and the moss was soft and slightly warm beneath him.

And then he heard it: the long spine-tingling vocalization that set his heart pounding with excitement. He was coming. Finally, he was coming.

Jensen turned in the direction of the echoing cry and searched the trees, waiting for the moment he’d finally see him. Finally set his eyes on his…


For the second night in a row, Jensen jerked awake, heart trying to fly out of his chest. For the second night in a row, Jensen heard a lone wolf’s howl pierce the night, only to be answered by an eerie choir of similar howls.

He got out of bed and made his way down the stairs and out onto the back deck. Their property slanted down and out and behind them was a clear field backed by woods. The wolves had sounded so close, maybe he could see them. He waited on the deck, fingers gripping the rail, hoping (fearing) to hear the call again. Nothing came.

He didn’t know how long he stood there waiting, watching, but eventually, faint smolders of color inched into the night sky signaling the impending dawn. Stiff from immobility, his body protested, and he felt inexplicably disappointed as he returned to the house. Exhausted, he made it as far as the family room before collapsing on the couch, pulling an afghan down onto himself and falling asleep.

++++++++

“Jensen! Get up! I wanna watch cartoons and you’re hogging the couch!” Mackenzie’s hands were gripping his shoulder and rocking him back and forth, until he finally slapped them to get her to stop.

“All right, all right, Jesus, Mac.” Jensen rolled over and stretched, still not entirely sure why his sister was the one waking him up, or why she was in his…

...but he wasn’t in his room. He was on the couch. Downstairs. He sat up and swung his feet to the floor, dropping his head into his hands as he scratched his scalp and yawned. He vaguely remembered waking up because of the wolves howling again last night, but he didn’t remember coming downstairs.

He looked at his sister who had already claimed the other end of the couch. Her legs were curled beneath herself as she held a bowl of cereal in one hand and the TV remote in the other.

“Hey, Kenzie?”

She didn’t look at him, she was focused on the TV. “What?”

“Did you hear anything weird last night?”

“Weird?” She sounded bewildered and then snickered and followed with, “Weirder than Josh’s chainsaw imitations?”

“Yeah, weirder than that. More like...wolves?”

Kenzie finally turned and looked at him, one eyebrow raised, “Wolves? Like wolf, wolves?”

Sighing, Jensen said, “Yes, exactly like that. Wolves who howl. Did you hear any howling last night?”

She snorted, “No. No howling. Now either shut up or go away, I want to watch Rocko.”

Jensen looked at the surreal animation on the TV and decided it was too early for satirical humor delivered by a wallaby and headed to the kitchen in search of caffeine.

Jensen was pouring a cup of coffee started by some kind soul (likely his mom) when Josh flicked him in the ear. “Ow!”

“That shit’s gonna stunt your growth man.” Josh snagged the bread bag off the counter next to Jensen and started stuffing slices in the toaster.

“Didn’t stunt yours.” Jensen grumbled at him while sipping at the piping hot cup of all-things-pure-and-good-in-the-world.

“That’s because I ate my Wheaties, and I’m giving Sampson a run for his money.” Josh flipped his long blonde hair back and grinned cockily at Jensen.

Jensen snorted, “Yeah, and I’m the one who’s gay….hey, did you hear anything last night?


“Like what?”

“Like howling or something? Like wolves?"

Josh finally turned and focused on him. “Wolves?”

Jensen squirmed a little under his gaze, “Yeah, wolves.”

Josh imitated a howl, “...wolves?”

Huffing, Jensen said, “Yes.”

“No man, no wolves.” Josh’s toast popped up and he returned his focus to his food.

Jensen retreated with his coffee in hand, “You need a haircut man.”

Josh looked aghast and said, “Never! It’s the source of my god-like power!”

“You’re an idiot.” Jensen called as he started climbing the stairs to his room.

“Takes one to know one!” Josh shouted back.

Jensen changed into his swim trunks and a thin tee, grabbed a towel and shoved his feet into some flip-flops. He really could use a nice long swim today, hopefully it would wake him up and clear this strange and sudden fixation from his head.

“Hey you bum!” Danneel’s voice called to him from the driveway. “Come on, get in!”

Jensen’s days continued like this for the rest of the week: swim, putz around his room, watch TV, hang out with Danneel and her(his?) friends, dream about wolves, swim, putz around his room, watch TV, hang out with Danneel and her/his friends, dream about wolves, wash, rinse, repeat.

At some point each night he asked one of their little group about the wolves. He got a weird look from Sophia, but a firm “Nope, no wolves here.” Mike had asked him what he was smoking and if he could have any.

Chad and Misha gave the most enigmatic answers. Chad said, “Oh man, I can’t wait until Jay meets you,” but then wouldn’t explain what he meant, or who Jay was. Misha just looked at him and smiled. But it wasn’t a “you’re funny” or a “you’re crazy” or even a “you’re adorable in your persistence” smile. It was one of those “I have a secret and boy, are you going to be surprised” smiles. When Jensen tried to press him, Misha smiled wider and said, “I have a skin. Potatoes have a skin. Am I a potato?” Jensen stopped prodding him after that.

Friday was the only day that was slightly different in routine. It was his last chance to swim in the mornings--unless the high school had a pool, but somehow he doubted that--because school started on Monday. Mom had already set Saturday and Sunday aside for last-minute school shopping. Even though Jensen really didn’t need much, Kenzie had begged him to go to so she could at least have someone on her side when arguing against another pink or purple shirt-skirt-backpack-barrette-sock. He really didn’t get his mom’s fixation with wanting Kenzie to dress like a seven year old for the rest of her life.

Danneel dropped him off at the pool same as usual. He stretched some in the changing room, wet himself under the shower just outside the door, then slid into one of the roped off swim lanes. He did his usual routine: freestyle for 200 meters at a steady pace, three 100 meter sprints--each followed by a rest, and a nice relaxing backstroke for 200 meters. He bathed in the sun for awhile then decided to dive in and cool off and then just enjoy the water.

He had his arms folded on the side of the pool when he felt it. A rumbling that seemed to start in his brain and slowly moved through the rest of his body, setting his nerves slowly aflame. A seeping warmth that turned to fire, heating him from the inside. His breathing quickened and his pulse raced, even though his brief time underwater had not taxed him at all. He’d never felt anything remotely like it. It was unsettling and thrilling and he had no idea why or what was happening. He just knew he had to leave. Had to get away. He submerged and quickly swam to the end of the pool closest to the exit. He was walking dazedly down the sidewalk towards home when he became fully aware of himself again.

There was something fucking with him. It wasn’t like when people found out he was gay, that he could handle--the name calling, the shunning, the covert and outright attacks. But this, whatever in the hell this was, was wreaking holy havoc with his nerves, emotions and grip on reality. He didn’t feel right in his own skin and he was beginning to think that this was what going crazy was like.

He drifted through the rest of the day, unsettled and unable to focus. Danneel asked him later that night what was wrong as he sat silently playing with the straw in his soda as Chad, Misha and Mike played pool.

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel right. I’ve been having weird dreams and today at the pool I just sorta...freaked out.”

Sophia said, “What do you mean, freaked out?”

Jensen looked at her, “I just...my heart was racing and all my nerves were on edge and, I was suddenly…”

Danneel looked at him intently, “Suddenly what?”

Jensen felt a little awkward saying it in front of Sophia, but he did it anyway, “Horny, completely, unbelievably, turned on.”

Sophia laughed out loud and then clapped her hand over her mouth. “Sorry, I’m sorry,” she apologized as she stifled her giggles. “I just, wasn’t expecting that.”

Jensen caught the stern look Danneel gave Sophia before she focused back on him, concern in her eyes. He continued, “I just don’t feel right and it’s been getting worse all week.”

Sophia muttered something like, “...better...full...end…”

Danneel shot her a look and put her hand on Jensen’s arm, “It’s probably just nerves. School starting on Monday and all, but I promise, we’re not that bad.” She beamed at him, “Besides, you already have friends, so there’s not going to be any of that horrifically awkward new-kid-not-knowing-anyone thing.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I’m sure I got the cream-of-the-crop with you all.”

“Hey!” Danneel smacked him, “I’ll have you know that your fag-hag’s best girl friend is a cheerleader,” she pointed at Sophia, then at Mike, “Rosey is a shoe-in for valedictorian, Misha over there” she moved her finger to where Misha was currently balancing a bowling ball on his head, “is likely the next Senior class president.”

Jensen raised a brow at her skeptically. “And Chad?”

“Chad’s lucky he wakes up and breathes in and out every day.” This was delivered deadpan by Sophia and Jensen barked with laughter.

“What do you see in him?” Jensen prodded.

Sophia shrugged, “He’s great in the sack.”

Jensen looked at Danneel with wide eyes and she looked back at him. They both laughed.

*****************

Saturday came and went with much shopping and only a little bit of tantrum throwing (Jensen wasn’t going to point fingers, but he really expected better from his mom), and Sunday evening found him in Danneel’s backyard swing, her head on his lap.

“You are going to be fine tomorrow. You know that, right?”

Jensen sighed and carded his fingers through her hair and watched the stars twinkling in the dark, clear night. It really was amazing how much more you could see in the country, away from the glare of the city.

“It’s not the same for me as it is for everyone else Danneel. I refuse to be ashamed of what I am, and people seem to want to insist that I should be. Since I won’t they tend to feel they have to make me. I think that I’ve been really lucky to meet you first.”

Danneel was quiet for a little while. “I will admit, gay people aren’t thick on the ground around here. The closest thing we have is Mr. Carson, but he’s married with 3 kids so…” Jensen feels her shoulders move in a shrug. “Anyway, I’m not saying you’re going to go unscathed, I’m just saying you don’t have to do it alone.” She put her hand on his knee and squeezed. “Also, I think that Misha might be growing nightshade in his backyard on purpose, so we can always get him to bump off folks if it gets to be too much.”

Jensen covers her hand with his own and squeezes.


Part 2
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