Fandom: Real Person Fic: CW
Rating: PG-13 for language and comedic violence
Word Count: 3,118
Author’s Note: Merry belated spn_j2_xmas to sammythankyou. I am so sorry this was not done on time, but hopefully it will bring you some New Year's cheer! I wrote for your prompt: "Apprentice!demonJ1 (or any creature/whatever? Leviathan, soul-dealer, bionic parts-seller...?) pestering J2 to (sell his soul, loaning it, 'but I knooow that that kneecap needs a replacement' *tries and fails to break it*) in order to get a career boost. Career may or may not get boosted, J1 gets to keep the annoying/clumsy-but-cute J2 anyway." I really hope you like it. Thank you (and I'm sorry) to the lovely mod tebtosca and thank you so much to my last minute life-saver beta, dugindeep. Title from Josh Ritter's Rattling Locks.
Summary: AU: Jensen is an acquisitions demon assigned to get Jared's soul. Problem is, Jared is so clumsy, he might just get himself killed before Jensen has a chance to corrupt him.
The first time Jared tries to walk, he trips.
Jensen is aware that this is perfectly normal for humans learning how to walk, so it doesn't particularly concern him. He has a pile of paperwork that will keep him from vacationing for fifty years at least, so he doesn't have much time to devote to an assignment that won't be his problem for another decade and a half.
However, unlike most babies, who shake off their first spill and learn to do better, Jared never really stops spilling. To classify his entire life as one prolonged stumble is hardly an exaggeration. To say he is accident prone is the understatement of the century. Jensen knows that for a fact; he's been around for many centuries.
Jared is only five years old the first time Jensen gets pinged with an alert that his newest project is about to get himself killed. Jensen is in the middle of a deal he's been working toward all year, a soccer mom about to agree to trade her soul so her son can win his peewee league.
It's not a meeting he can really afford to get called out of, but since the situation is life-or-death and a one-time disturbance (or so he thinks), he tells Samantha Ferris to hold that thought and pops out of her home in the Chicago suburbs to find himself standing by the road in a busy San Antonio neighborhood.
Little Jared Padalecki is easy to pick out from the other children. Jensen always knows his charges on sight. This one is knobby kneed and tan from playing outside, and his long brown hair is styled in a mushroom cut that must cover his eyes, because he runs full speed toward the street and his little foot catches on a crack in the sidewalk, sending him flying into the road. Of course that's when a car decides to rattle down the block.
Jensen moves with superhuman speed, so it isn't really hard to catch the kid and have him back on solid ground before he's squashed like a rosy-cheeked insect. He plants the boy on the sidewalk and is met with wide, kaleidoscope eyes.
"Thanks, mister," Jared says.
Jensen smiles down at him and pats him on his shaggy head. "Hey, no problem, kiddo. You be more careful from now on, huh?"
Jared nods and Jensen prepares to teleport back to his transaction with Mrs. Ferris. The last thing he sees before he blinks out of one space and into the other is Jared falling backwards onto his ass.
When he's eight, Jared's parents decide to go on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. The Grand fucking Canyon. What possessed his parents to take their injury magnet child to a place full of limitless chasms to fall into is beyond Jensen's comprehension. People are crazy.
In the last three years, he's already had to break protocol seven times for Jared. There are another three near-miss car accidents after that first one, two slips that would have cracked Jared's head open, a dropped knife, and one incident with an ice cream machine. Jensen still isn't sure how Jared was going to die that time, but he got the alert, and he wouldn't put anything past this kid.
Demons like Jensen are assigned humans from birth, but they aren't supposed to establish contact until the client is at least fifteen years of age. Younger than that and Hell doesn't believe their ability to consent to losing their soul is properly formed. Jensen's job is all about ethics. Breaches of this rule are to be saved for extreme circumstances only. There are a lot of extreme circumstances in Jared's life.
He floats out just past the edge of the cliff that Jared had bent too far over with the kid safely caught in his arms, and Jared looks up at him. He smiles when he recognizes Jensen, like he's not even scared, even though he's floating 5,000 feet above the ground and should by all logic be dead.
Jensen places him back on the path and is about to disappear when Jared asks, "How come you're always around when I'm in trouble? Are you an angel?"
"Sure, kid. Let’s go with that."
Jensen's phone vibrates in his pocket and he checks it. Satan calling and he already knows what it's going to be about. He's been employee of the month every month in Hell since the Gestapo years. Now, instead of a yearly review full of praise for his hard work and dedication, Jensen only ever finds himself summoned to the boss' office to explain why he went to see the Padalecki kid again.
He sighs and starts formulating arguments in his head. Jared waves as he floats away.
When Jared finally ages in, Jensen immediately gets to work on trying to secure his soul for Hell. There are two methods: sales or corruption. Corruption is usually the easiest route, but Jensen likes to pride himself on his integrity and so prefers an honest deal to a damning.
"Hi, Jensen," Jared says today, perfectly chipper despite the fact that he almost drowned not a full minute ago. "How's business in Heaven?"
Jensen helps him out of the trashcan he toppled into head first, before then flailing about so much the trashcan fell into the Padalecki's backyard pool, taking a trapped Jared with it.
"Oh, good, you know, the usual," Jensen answers. "Hey, could you maybe try not to get yourself killed every week?"
Jared smiles. He's growing up well, with a smile that is something like 70% dimples and 30% big square teeth. Jensen is fond of the kid at this point, if he's being honest. The smile kind of gets to him. "I think I'd be more cautious if I didn't have a guardian angel looking out for me."
"Yeah, about that," Jensen says, feeling preemptively guilty, like he's about to ruin Santa Claus. "You know I'm not actually an angel, right?"
"I figured," Jared admits.
Jensen raises an eyebrow. "How?"
"Well, I don’t think an angel would have told a twelve year old he should 'maybe try drugs in a few years.'"
"Ah." Jensen nods. "I see now how that was probably a giveaway. You've known that long?"
"I didn't want to hurt your feelings," Jared tells him earnestly. "You were really trying with the angel routine."
"Well, thanks for that," Jensen replies. "I'm actually a demon, so."
"It's okay," Jared reassures him. "I still like you."
"You'd better," says Jensen, pointing to the evidence of Jared's near freak accident. "You really owe me your life. Like, no less than a hundred times over."
Jared tries to reach out to pat Jensen on the back, but he doesn't account for how long and ungainly his limbs are, so he smacks his hand into the plastic garbage tub he was only recently liberated from.
"Morning, Jensen," Jared says, scratching his stomach as he enters the kitchen. "What's it gonna be today?"
"Chad left his bong on the floor right—there!" Jensen rushes to catch Jared before he cracks his skull on the coffee table. He eases Jared to the floor and just sort of kneels there holding him as he finishes, "So don't step on it."
Jared huffs a laugh as he blinks up at Jensen. He's wearing nothing but boxers and his long hair is all out of whack. Jensen doesn't think about how gorgeous he is on days like this, just does his job and gets right back to whatever got interrupted by Jared's most recent brush with death.
"Thanks, Jensen," Jared says, still sleepy voiced and always so openly fond. "You want some coffee?"
Back to work. Back to work. Back to work. Lots of other souls to turn, no time for…
"Sure." He helps Jared to his feet.
"Great! I'll make some." Jared takes one step toward the kitchen, and Jensen immediately gets an alert.
"You know what," Jensen tells him. "How about I make the coffee?"
"Scalded to death?" Jared asks casually.
"Yeah," Jensen says, nodding.
College has been a really stressful time in the Keeping Jared Padalecki Alive business, but hey, at least it's brought them closer together.
"Why do you do it?" Jared asks.
This time, they're lying flat on the ground in the med school library surrounded by textbooks on animal anatomy. Just an inch away from where the stacks that should have crushed Jared to death had landed.
"Why do I do what?" he responds, sitting up.
"Keep saving me," Jared clarifies. "Demons aren't usually known for their heroic antics."
Jensen lifts an eyebrow. "You know a lot of demons, do you?"
He reaches out to touch Jared's arm, which is in a cast—a separate incident, something that wasn't apparently at risk of killing him, so Jensen didn't get the memo. He makes himself anxious sometimes wondering, if this is the number of times Jared almost dies, how many accidents does Jensen never find out about?
Maybe the broken arm somehow played into tipping the bookshelves over. He wishes he could know all the details of every almost-gruesome-death he saves Jared from, but his work keeps him away.
"Just the one," Jared admits looking down at Jensen's fingers on his cast, and his voice is so warm.
Jensen has never known anyone like Jared. The kid is all sweet and honest and kind, even with Jensen. It would really get to Jensen's heart if he had one of those.
"If you die before we make a deal, I don't get your soul. It's right up to Heaven with you. I have a reputation to maintain." Jensen shrugs. It's easy to sound like that's the full truth, because for a long time it was. He's not entirely sure when that changed. Probably around the time Jared got hot. "Just doing my job."
"Yeah, okay," Jared says. It's easy to tell from his voice how full of shit he thinks Jensen is. "I do enjoy these encounters, but I feel like I'm wasting your time. I should just tell you now, I'm not going to sell you my soul. Like, ever. It's not anything personal, though."
I know, Jensen thinks. And Jared won't ever be corrupted, either. He is that incredibly rare specimen Jensen has come across maybe once or twice in all his centuries of living: a truly good person. Volunteers-at-soup-kitchens-in-his-spare-t
"I'll get you eventually," Jensen promises. "I'm incredibly persuasive."
Jared's smile is tender. "I'm glad you'll keep trying."
"I don't understand how you can be a veterinarian," Jensen says. "You just performed surgery no problem, and as soon as the golden retriever is safely off the operating table, you nearly puncture your brain with forceps? I don't get that."
"It's easy to have a steady hand when it's for someone else," Jared says. He puts his dangerous tools away and leans back on the counter. "How've you been?"
"Since Tuesday?" Jensen asks.
Jared grins. "Three whole days without almost dying. Don't even pretend you didn't miss me."
"I actually have a life," Jensen responds. "After life. Whatever."
"Can you hang around for a bit?" Jared asks. "I don't have another appointment for half an hour. We could get lunch."
Jensen laughs. "That depends. Do you wanna talk trading your soul for a yacht or what?"
"Hate to disappoint you, but not today."
Jensen makes a big show of sighing. "Then I guess I should go pad my portfolio with people who will. It takes a lot of successful cases to distract my bosses from the fact that I make no progress with you."
"What happens if you never get my soul?" Jared asks. "Just out of curiosity. Do you get fired? I guess firings are probably pretty literal where you work."
"Worse," Jensen says.
"What's worse than eternal hellfire?" Jared asks.
Jensen makes a pained face. "We get sent back to the mortal world. Become human."
"Oh, yeah, that does sound pretty awful," Jared jokes. "I'm having a terrible time of it. Can't even walk down the sidewalk without trying to die."
Jensen bites his lip to stop himself from saying what he's thinking. For thousands of years, no punishment could have been worse to Jensen than a human life…but it doesn't seem so bad the way Jared lives it. Aside from all the wipe outs.
Jared waits for a while before he looks away, starts busying himself with organizing the objects on his counter. "Maybe it's an addiction."
"I try to be more cautious, but you never show up unless I'm about to die." He looks up and meets Jensen's eyes. "Maybe it's an addiction."
"I have to go," Jensen says, and he pops out of there before Jared gets another word in.
Jensen is considering just letting him die this time.
Jared's naked, sprawled on the floor of his bedroom, and the lamp from the bedside is cracked on the carpet bedside him, a fire starting to spread toward the curtains.
The equally naked guy on his bed is screaming hysterically, and Jensen stares from Jared to his hook-up and thinks it's time to take the training wheels off. Let Jared learn how to keep himself alive.
But he gets a look at the relief in Jared's expression when he sees Jensen has arrived to save his ass, and that plan goes out the window. Jensen used to prey on suckers, not be one.
He stomps out the fire and glares for half a second before he heads for the door and Jared calls out his name at the same time that the man on the bed yells, "What the hell—where did he come from?"
Jensen doesn’t stop until he's almost all the way down the hallway, when Jared's hand finds his shoulder and yanks him back. He turns to see that Jared is stark naked, didn't even bother grabbing a sheet before chasing after Jensen.
"Jensen, wait," he says. "I can explain."
"Don't need it spelled out for me," Jensen says, trying not to sound so bitter. "You tripped and fell on his dick, right? And then you fell off? That's a very you-problem to have."
"Why do you sound so angry?" Jared asks. "It's not—"
"Oh, fuck you," Jensen replies. "You know why."
"So I can't fuck anyone?" Jared crosses his arms over his chest. "You disappear every time I try to bring up how I feel. I don't even know if it's possible for us to be together. But if I try to be with someone else I'm the bad guy?"
"Fuck who you want," Jensen says. His voice sounds wishy washy in his own ears, which he's not used to. They've never acknowledged this thing between them before, and he never intended to. "Just don't get in danger while you do it. Don't make me see it, Jared."
"You know I can't help it." Jared frowns. "If I wasn't so clumsy, we could both just move on, but it's not like I do it on purpose."
Jensen steps closer and reaches out to touch Jared's face, and that's when the moment gets ruined by Mr. Naked Whoever stumbling in. "Who is this guy? Do you have a boyfriend or something?"
"Stephen, go home," Jared says, not even looking away from Jensen.
"This is fu—" the guy begins to say before Jensen snaps his fingers and vanishes him.
"You didn't, like, send him into a void or kill him or anything, right?"
Jensen smirks. "Would serve him right."
"He didn't do anything," Jared points out.
"He touched you." Jensen shakes his head. "Do you have any idea how much I hate that I care about something stupid like that?"
"You care," Jared says, smiling brightly. "Look at my big bad demon, caring."
Jared moves slowly, ducking his head to press a kiss to Jensen's mouth. Jensen has done plenty of kissing, but never like this. Never with a human. There's never been a soul involved.
It's nearly painful the way kissing Jared feels. Jared puts so much passion into the push of his mouth against Jensen's, the addicting way his tongue curls. Jensen tries to think of something that's felt this good in all the time he's been alive and he comes up blank.
He wraps an arm around Jared's huge, impossibly naked body, and he feels a rush of lust that feels oddly pure. Jared draws in closer to him and they kiss until finally Jared breaks from it with a happy sigh.
"If I sell you my soul, do you keep it?" he asks.
"What d'you mean?"
"That's the only thing I want enough," Jared tells him. "It's the only thing you've never tried offering me. You. I want to belong to you."
Jensen wants that, too. Desperately. It's been years since he put any effort into his sales pitches. He doesn't want to take Jared's soul away just to give it to someone else.
"If I were human," he says, thinking out loud. "I wouldn't be able to protect you. You'd be dead within a month."
Jared's eyebrows scrunch together, confused for a moment, and then he just looks so damn hopeful. "Would you…for me?"
"I can't be with you unless I become human. And if I do that, there's no more popping in every time you're in danger. There's no more floating over canyons. I can't risk losing you because I chose not to protect you."
Jared smiles. He takes Jensen's hand in his own and makes sure Jensen is looking into his face. "I'm never safe unless you're around."
"So if I'm around more…?" Jensen muses. "Even if I'm human?"
He nods and pulls Jensen in. The kiss is obscene, and if that didn't make Jared's intentions clear, his hands find the button on Jensen's jeans and begins to work at it.
Of course that's when Jensen's phone starts vibrating in his pocket.
It's the boss, he already knows, and he's going to get the same lecture he's been ignoring for the last decade. Sooner or later, his reputation won't save him. He'll lose his job, have to be mortal again.
Jensen pulls away from the embrace and Jared makes a needy sound before asking, "Jensen? Aren't we gonna…?"
He tucks the phone back into his pocket before giving Jared an apologetic smile. "I'll be right back. I think it's time for a career change."