Rating: R – bad words, mild violence?
Warnings: This does not take itself seriously.
Summary: Adam and Eve had the apple, but Jared’s got the orange. And when bright green slop drips from his fruit and burns his hands, it’s only the beginning of a crazy seventy-two hours.
Notes: Written for spook_me: The Spook Me Multi-Fandom Halloween Ficathon
Beta: Big thanks to corbyinoz for running through it even after being posted. &hearts
The newspapers got it all wrong. They said meteorite, said it was tiny, just a sprinkling with minimal damage. Anyone at the farm saw the crushing boulder, a good four feet of it sticking out of the ground. Mounds of earth pushed around its edges, cradling it. For five minutes there was a neon green glow before its edges cracked and oozed, smoke billowing out in a fog that puffed its way through the area. Soon enough, the giant rock was clouded and no one could see the form crawling out, or the ones that followed behind it. The lifeforms crept along the pasture, a thick fog following them, effectively disguising them until they could reach the main part of town. Until they could go about the business they’d crashed Earth for …
Jared Padalecki bikes everywhere. Five miles from his shabby second-floor apartment to the pet shop for work. Two to three as he holds numerous leashes and takes all the dogs on their daily walks. Another ten if and when he makes it out to Chad’s –co-worker and sometimes-friend – for beer and football. Whenever, wherever, he does it on two wheels, and he’s pretty good at bypassing pedestrians, navigating his way in between cars on the road. But he’s not prepared for a pair of young kids breaking from a group at the upcoming corner and racing their way right at him. They split off at the last second and he yanks his handlebars this way then that and eventually skids right into the Angelo Scaducci’s sidewalk fruit stand, unearthing the entire citrus display. In moments, the owner is outside and yelling, breaking between English and Italian, not making any sense to Jared’s dazed mind.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he chants with worry while he uprights himself and the bike. He grabs melons and apples and peaches, placing them back into their bins, but they won’t stay. All the fruit rains back down onto the sidewalk and the Angelo keeps yelling, getting louder, pushing at Jared.
“Get ‘way! Get!” the man shouts, complete with a kick to Jared’s ass, forcing him far from the stand. “Outta da way!”
“Jesus,” he mutters as he stumbles away. Jared leans over to grab a few oranges off the ground. He smiles triumphantly and waves them in his hands, showing off. “Little dirtbag, kicking me in the ass,” he mutters through a broad smile. Jared tucks a couple into his messenger bag but one won’t fit. “Ain’t half the payment, but they’re mine now.” That last orange, he bites into the rind to keep it in his mouth as he hops back onto his bike and rides the final few blocks to the pet store.
He plucks the orange from his mouth as he enters, oblivious to the green gel dripping from breaks in the fruit’s skin, ones his teeth have formed. Jared tosses a few oranges over to Sandy behind the counter. She shrieks but quickly catches two and blocks a third at the counter. “Jared!” She huddles them together and watches him stride by. “What’s this?”
“Broccoli,” he smirks, pulling the bag off his shoulder and tucking it in a cubby next to her knees. “What’s it look like?”
Sandy smiles at him. He always brings in snacks for them to share, but they’re usually of the artificial sugar variety.
He begins peeling rind back from his orange while watching her playfully push the others around the surface. “I knocked into Angelo’s stand and he kicked my ass. So, I stole a few.”
“Jared. In case you haven’t noticed, you’re like twenty feet tall … No one kicks your ass. Let alone Angelo.” She shakes her head then adds with a smile, “You’re always terrorizing that sweet man.”
He complains instantly, “He literally kicked me in the ass.” Then he hitches his foot back and playfully kicks her backside.
Sandy squeaks and smacks his stomach. “Probably deserved it, jerkface. You’re always trying to steal his apples.”
Jared smirks down on her as he finishes peeling all the rind away from his fruit. “Little guido totally bilked me on that bag of grapes.”
“That was two years ago.” Sandy shakes her head with a roll of her eyes but she also smiles. Then she shrieks and pushes at his hands. “What is that?”
They both look down to green gel oozing from the fruit, thickening on the counter and on his hands. “Ewwww, gross,” Jared instantly whines and then he’s whimpering when he just barely stops from wiping his hands on his jeans. But then he starts yelling at her to get napkins because it burns, and it all starts bubbling up and popping everywhere.
When they find all four pieces of fruit to be filled with the same nasty goop, Sandy calls the police. Two uniformed officers show up and don’t really give a damn, calling it bad fruit and all that, no big deal. Just don’t eat it one says with a smirk.
Jared and Sandy are disillusioned about the police for the next twenty-four hours and they’re both constantly disgusted by the burns on his fingers and the rash across his palm. The dogs and cats, even hamsters, lurch away from him if he reaches into their cages to feed or change out … well really, any time he gets too close.
So Jared stays at the register, elbows at the counter, staring at the burn stains the green slime left on the countertop. He keeps trying to rest his chin in his hands, but the rash still freaks him out, and his hands, no matter how many times he washes them, kinda smell. He pouts, of course, because he just wants to play with the animals and take care of them. He doesn’t work at a pet shop for nothing.
But things turn around when the front bell jangles and in walks a black suit with a handsome face attached. A very serious handsome face, and Jared stands up straight, hiding his hands behind the counter. “Hi,” Jared smiles easily. “Help you?”
A flash of a badge and the voice is deep, hitting Jared just right. “Agent Ackles. FBI. Looking for Jared Padalecki?”
Jared stands straighter and tenses a bit. “Yeah, that’s me. Everything okay?”
The intense eyes course the store and go everywhere but to Jared as the agent tucks his badge back inside his jacket. “I’m just following up on your police report on the damaged fruit?”
He squints and frowns a little. If the police weren’t the least bit interested, how were the Feds taking over?
Ackles pulls out a small note pad to read from and goes on talking when Jared doesn’t. “You reported spoiled oranges and green sludge?” He looks up with eyebrows raised, but still very serious eyes and lips. Jared can’t stop staring, because serious or not, this guy is gorgeous and he can’t help flushing all over. “Mr. Padalecki?”
“Yeah, yeah” he says quickly, getting out of his head for the moment. “Yesterday, I grabbed … I mean, I got some oranges. From Angelo’s stand down on Woodman.” Hesitantly, Jared raises his hands into the air, and he frowns. “Then this happened.”
The head rises higher and the agent moves forward while putting the note pad back where his badge is, seeming very interested. Ackles grabs Jared’s wrist and turns the hand over a few times, very interested. “It came on suddenly? Burns?” Then he looks up and Jared’s staring again. “When it’s not itching?”
“Yeah. But not when I pee,” he adds with a tiny bit of humor, but then he frowns when Ackles looks confused. And Jared feels like an idiot for making jokes about sexually transmitted diseases to the guy.
Ackles releases his hand and his lips twitch like he’s trying to be more sober than Jared ever could be. “You still have the fruit in question?”
Jared’s eyebrows crinkle down. This suddenly feels very serious. “In question?”
“The oranges? The bad ones?”
“Um,” he thinks and looks towards the back of the store where Sandy is feeding the dogs and cats. Jared wonders if this conversation would go better if she hadn’t made him toss them. “No, we don’t.”
“Sandy.” Jared’s hands settle at the edge of the counter and he nervously taps his fingers onto the surface. “She said we should throw them out.”
Ackles’ eyes follow the movements and then he shifts a step over and points at the burn marks in the wood. He looks up to Jared. “That from the sludge?”
“Uh, yeah,” Jared starts awkwardly, but then brightens up. Because Ackles is taking out a thin little box that is like the tiniest digital camera Jared’s ever seen, and it dawns on him that someone is actually taking his rashy hands and green goop seriously. “Yeah, it dripped all over, and like, bubbled?”
He’s snapping pictures and nodding, but at the bubbled part, he pauses and looks up to Jared. “Bubbled?” he asks with a gulp in his throat.
“Yeah.” Jared frowns, actually worrying about how much of a problem this all is. “Am I in trouble?”
“No. Not at all.” Ackles shakes his head and tucks the camera back inside his jacket, where his badge and notepad is.
Jared idly wonders how much more can fit inside that jacket. Then he wonders what’s actually underneath it … and the white suit shirt … and then there’s snapping in his face and he sobers up to the agent’s face, which is a cross between confused and angry. “Well, what happens now? My hands?”
The agent works his mouth in near worry, but he’s straightening his jacket and buttoning it closed. “I’d like to get a crew in here. Gather some evidence.”
He smiles a little, thinking about Ackles returning. “Yeah, alright.”
“Might need you to come into the lab for some tests.”
Then Jared’s frowning and makes a little, high pitched hmm noise.
“You okay, Mr. Padalecki?”
“Uh, it’s Jared. And what kinds of tests? Am I okay?”
Ackles’ face is stone and shows nothing to say he’s lying. But Jared doesn’t like how formally he responds, “Absolutely not. Just a precaution.”
Jared takes a deep breath and frowns while looking at the back of the store again. They’re not busy today, but he doesn’t want to leave Sandy alone. “When should I? I mean … is it bad if I don’t right now?”
The agent reaches for his phone, punching a few buttons and waiting for a response to his text while plucking a card from another pocket inside his jacket – seriously, Jared wonders, how much is in there. “You should come in as soon as possible. Here’s the lab.”
He’d really been hoping it would be Ackles’ card with a phone number, maybe a cell to reach him late at night when the rash was really scary and he could be saved or something – but then Jared sobers because he’s a big guy, taller than the agent, and he’s no damsel in distress. Except this rash really does itch and burn and scare the crap out of him. Especially if the Feds are involved.
“Mr. Padalecki?” Ackles asks as his head cranes forward.
“Yeah, okay. I’m gonna come.” Jared frowns at that insinuation, and at how uncool he’s been through this entire conversation. “I mean, should probably come now. I’ll go now. To the lab. To be tested.”
Ackles eyes him oddly, not moving. At least until Jared sighs and looks back to the card. “Alright. Just tell ‘em I sent you. They’ll know what to do.”
Jared nods as he watches Ackles turn and walk out the door. And he really wishes he’d met him at a point where an unfortunate, disgusting rash wasn’t the problem.
The card directs him to a very average-looking office building with very plain décor and non-descript hallways and offices that some random agent leads him through – one after another – until finally a very serious labcoat directs him into a sterile white space. He’s not even sure what all the tests are for, and no one is really answering any questions, just giving careful smiles and nodding before going right back to work. Skin is gently scraped and peeled off his palm, solutions rubbed on his knuckles, and blood drawn. He tries to ask about Agent Ackles, and about test results, and if he can get any type of topical cream for it all.
But still, they’re quiet and grunt and talk in whispers so he has no idea what’s going on.
He winds through a few different hallways, completely messed up on how to get back to the lobby and he wonders why there aren’t signs directing him, like doctor’s offices and actual government buildings. And he starts to really wonder what is going on, why no one could give him a single answer, and why no one had some lotion to take down the irritation … and then he spots Agent Ackles exiting a room at the end of the hallway and he smiles, jogging down the way. “Hey, Agent Ackles,” he beams as he falls in step with the guy. Still so serious, still suited up, and still absolutely gorgeous.
“Mr. Padalecki,” Ackles says awkwardly as he looks up and down the hallways around them.
“Jared,” he smirks, holding a hand out. But then they both look down to it and the rash, and he frowns as he pulls it back. “Okay, no handshakes for a while.”
“The lobby’s this way,” Ackles says rather mechanically as he raises a leading hand and walks in that direction with Jared alongside.
“Look, they didn’t say a single thing, but what kind of tests are they running?”
Ackles looks over briefly then fiddles with his phone, running more buttons through and answering text messages. “Just standard stuff.”
“They took blood.”
He nods. “Yes.”
“And skin samples?”
“Mmhmm,” he sounds out without looking up from his phone.
Jared puts a hand to Ackles’ elbow to get his attention, but the guy flinches instantly and curses and Jared has to frown. “What?”
He looks again and flushes. “Didn’t they issue you gloves?”
“Uh, no,” he mumbles while giving Ackles a confused look. “Why? Is this contagious?”
Ackles breathes deep and looks back at the end of the hallway Jared had come from. “You should really … they should’ve …” He wraps a stern hand around Jared’s bicep and leads him back where they came from.
But Jared reaches out, mostly to startle and stop the guy, which works, because Ackles looks kind of frightened to have the hands so close to him. “Alright, what’s going on? You’re like deathly afraid of my touching you. I have to, like, live in a bubble now?”
He takes a mechanical step back, but shakes his head and tries to reason. “No, you don’t need to live in a bubble.”
“Oh, so just wrap my hands up and don’t touch anyone?”
“Yeah,” he mutters then looks shocked that he’d said it.
Jared eyes him critically. “What’s going on?” Then he frowns and starts to freak out a little. “Is this like … biological germ warfare or something? I read in Fortean Times that the Germans were going to infiltrate produce.” And then Jared stops because Ackles is staring oddly, and he’s embarrassed he said that much.
His mouth works because he doesn’t want to admit that he reads conspiracy theories editorials. “It’s a magazine,” he says lamely.
Except Ackles seems to already know all about it. “Yeah. Right. Great magazine.”
He frowns then and the agent pushes on his back again. “Should get back to the lab.”
They’re walking in silence, Ackles with a firm hand at Jared’s back. And Jared wants to enjoy that feeling, but he really can’t because it’s more force than warmth and he feels like one wrong word and Ackles might put him in lock-up. He’s not sure he has that kind of power, but the guy seems pretty serious about being FBI.
A door swings open and a bright eyed, smiling woman steps forward with interest. “Jensen! We have the L-Sets back and it’s definitely from Lu … ” but then she spots Jared and finishes oddly, “Tron.”
Jared smirks because he finally has the agent’s first name, but then he frowns because that statement made absolutely no sense, but she seems nervous that Jared had heard it.
Ackles clears his throat and speaks sternly. “Danneel, Mr. Padalecki needs an exit kit.”
“Oh, yes, yes. Right,” she hurries on, stepping back inside and calling to someone about the kit. She stands in the doorway, frowning nervously and eyeing them both.
Jared looks at how beautiful she is with a smooth face and perfectly curvy body. He thinks if he were straight, he’d start using her for his jerk-off fantasies … but then he imagines jerking off with rashy hands and he’s embarrassed for even considering it. Her eyes are critical on his, like she’s outraged by something he hasn’t said. He awkwardly waves and gives a meager, “Hi.”
“Hi,” she tries to smile back but then when she sees his hand, she lets a surprised little oh out. Danneel covers her mouth and looks to Ackles with wide eyes. “Oh, my,” she mumbles as Ackles looks even more serious than Jared’s ever seen him.
“Okay, seriously?” Jared complains again. “There is no way this is any good,” he says, waving his hands in the air.
Ackles sighs and only looks to Danneel. “You think it’s too early to give him some TN-93?”
She looks at Jared’s hands and frowns, but looks back to Ackles carefully. “Contamination?”
Jared groans at that word.
The agent checks his watch and looks to Jared, tipping his head. “Thirty hours?”
He shrugs, “I suppose?”
Danneel eyes Jared. “We need more than suppose.”
“I dunno, it was like two-ish yesterday?”
“Jensen,” she sighs sadly.
The agent looks between them, regarding Jared carefully, like he actually cares about the hands and irritation. “How much longer?” Jared asks, looking between the two of them.
Danneel answers immediately, “At least two.”
“Hours? I can wait,” Jared offers.
“Days,” she replies sadly.
Now Jared gets mad and he nearly plants his hands on his hips, but just flexing his fingers out towards his waist reminds him of the burn. “What’s even going on?”
“Mr. Padalecki,” Ackles starts with a hand to Jared’s back. “When the tests come back –”
“No, seriously,” he grunts out, getting more and more upset by the whole thing. “Tell me now.”
Danneel and the agent eye each other for long moments while she tips her head one way and he the other, having a silent conversation. She whispers, “Jensen,” and his face softens a bit as he keeps looking at her. Jared feels his stomach drop at the danger of what this whole thing really is. And a little because there’s something more to their look than just a professional relationship. There’s just too much going on between their eyes.
Ackles sobers straightens, looking quickly to Jared. “You were right,” he says lamely. “German warfare.”
Jared doesn’t miss how incredulously Danneel looks at that, but he can’t stop staring at Ackles, knowing the guy’s lying.
He goes back to Danneel. “Get him an exit pack and I’ll make sure he finds the lobby.”
She awkwardly whimpers and disappears for a bit.
“You are so full of shit,” Jared says with control.
“Wait, what?” Ackles stutters out, staring back at Jared.
“German warfare?” he asks cynically.
The agent straightens and regards him with one high eyebrow. “You’re the one who reads Fortean Times.”
“Well, okay,” he blushes a little. “Yeah, I do. But it’s taught me enough to question everything. Especially the FBI. So I’m asking you again. What the hell is going on?”
His voice is stern. “I can’t talk about it.”
He looks back into the doorway where Danneel had disappeared, and his voice is flat. “Classified.”
Jared’s voice rises. “I want to know right now!”
With a snap of his head, Ackles looks upset. “Jared, I can’t.”
He stares, just taking in the momentarily soft eyes and frown. And he smiles, just a little, at the agent’s use of his first name. Then he nearly gulps, really, and wants to say something, but Danneel returns with a manila envelope tucked under her arm and a pair of rubber gloves in her hand. “Alright, Mr. Padalecki, just keep these on and – ” She looks between them and gives a tiny frown when Ackles turns from them both and stares at a spot on the wall above her head.
Jared sighs and turns to her. He gives a sad smile, too, and asks somewhat hopefully, “I’m not gonna die, right?”
She tries to smile, but he can tell it’s forced. “Only if you have a latex allergy.”
“Well, I think I would’ve gotten a different kinda rash then,” he jokes, but then he flushes with the awkward glance Ackles makes.
“Right,” she says cheerily to break the awkwardness. She opens up one glove nice and wide to fit Jared’s hand in, then the other, as she talks. “Just make sure you change these if you have any nicks or tears. CS-57 is the cream and you put that on once you get home, then the gloves right over it. Reapply a couple times and in the morning you won’t need gloves.” Danneel hands over the envelope. “The TN-93 are the pills for tomorrow. But you really need to be past forty-eight hours before you take them.”
He frowns a bit. “I have to?”
She nods. “Strongly recommended.”
Danneel frowns and he’s about to argue with them both until Ackles cuts in carefully. “It’ll worsen.” He looks from Danneel to Jared and says with a bit of a warning, “Gangrene.”
Jared frowns, seriously frowns and just stares at the guy. But Danneel quickly draws Jared’s attention with a soft hand at his elbow. “Just follow the directions inside. Everything will tell you … everything,” she ends with a bright smile.
There’s a small silence and each of the three eye each other, and finally Ackles clears his throat and motions down the hallway. “Shall we?”
Jared shrugs awkwardly, still feeling and looking nervous, he’s sure. Because this whole incident has done nothing to make him feel any better about anything at all. They’re quiet until they reach the hallway and Jared purses his lips as he stares at Ackles. “Gangrene?”
The agent licks his lips as he looks away, resting hands at his hips and looking like such serious business. But it’s hard to take him seriously when his tongue is still sticking out between his lips. He makes a smacking, nearly tsking noise as he looks back to Jared. “Just be careful, okay? Follow the directions and nothing will happen.”
“What if I, like … I dunno,” Jared shrugs. “What if it’s only forty-six hours and I take the pill?”
Ackles levels a glare.
“Is something going to fall off? I’m quite fond of my appendages.”
He rolls his eyes, but Jared doesn’t mistake how, for a quick second, he actually glances below Jared’s belt. It makes Jared smile, and then the agent’s lips quirk for a moment before he sobers. “Just. Do the stuff. Follow the papers. You’ll be fine.”
Jared’s full of energy for the moment, having made Ackles nearly smile, or laugh even? And to have garnered his attention long enough for a crotch shot. “If I’m not, can I come back?”
With a shake of the head, Ackles takes a step back, then he’s turning. “Just follow the paperwork.”
Again, Jared watches the guy walk away and he hates that notion, but he really kinda likes this view.
He follows the directions for the cream to a T because he is so not up to the idea of losing a hand or any more skin that hasn’t already been peeling off in freaking sheathes and making the skin look even more raw than before. So it’s just after forty-eight hours from contact with the dreaded fruit when he takes the pills then travels his way to work by bus – his hands are too raw to grab the handlebars. And he’s amazed when he gets off the bus a few blocks from the store, because this cream is not some random over-the-counter cortisone stuff. It’s like honest to goodness miracle ointment because his hands are already starting to clear up, daring his normally tan skin to peak through. He’s near due to thanking God for working his magic when he sees a familiar face marching around the corner he has to take anyway. So he jogs down the sidewalk and follows.
“Hey, Agent … Jensen,” he stutters awkwardly, not quite sure what to really call the guy. He wants to use Jensen, but the guy’s a little stuffy and probably doesn’t like that when he’s on the clock.
Jared rounds the corner into an alleyway and then stops, eyes wide and heart breaking out wildly. Because the agent has a gun trained on a teenager … and suddenly, Jared remembers him as one of the kids who knocked him off his bike two days ago. The guy’s stepping slowly as he nears the kid, who’s got his arms out wide and is shaking his head.
“Where’s Zorbet?” he hears Ackles ask.
The kid chuckles then talks in a flat voice. “Zorbet is gone. Released and out.”
Another chuckle, but it’s creepy, and Jared slinks against the edge of the building to keep himself hidden as best he can. “This is the point, is it not? To keep our secrets from yours?”
Ackles chuckles darkly as he takes a few steps closer to the kid and holds the gun firm and high. “Ain’t gonna happen for much longer, now is it?”
The teenager eyes him with a rough, daring glare, then darts forward. In an instant Ackles fires on him, a red burst of light shooting through the air and flaming across the kid’s body. Jared whimpers and jumps back, running into a metal garbage can that rattles as it dumps itself across the alley.
Ackles turns immediately and groans with a tip of the head, lowering his gun. He sighs, shaking his head as he turns back to the kid, who’s now immobile on the ground, legs spread and arms at odd directions.
“You … you shot him!” Jared shrieks.
He tucks the gun back into his pocket and moves over the kid, nudging him with the edge of his shoe. “He’s fine.”
Jared creeps forward, tipping his head in different ways to see around Ackles, who is then crouching at the body and searching through the pockets. “He’s dead?” Jared asks nervously.
“No.” Ackles plucks random objects from the kid’s jacket … a dark purple globe the size of a golf ball, a tube about the size of a pen, and a two-inch long remote. His hand can’t hold it all while he searches so he looks back on Jared. “You wanna help or just stare?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Jared moves closer and holds the items Ackles hands over. He grabs the globe between a thumb and forefinger and raises it in the air, letting sunlight shine right through it. There’s a tiny orb floating in the middle. “What is this?”
“Paraphernalia,” he answers with a grunt as he pushes the body to its side and searches the jeans’ back pockets.
“For what? Strangest drug kit I’ve ever seen.”
Ackles looks back for a moment, rolls his eyes, then goes back to the body. He plucks a wallet, which he tucks inside his jacket, and then he rolls it to its stomach. With a knee in the back, he pulls out his cell and dials a quick number. “Agent Ackles. Section 3-5-2-B. Have a …” He looks oddly at Jared, and then seems to alter his train of thought and words because he slowly works out, “9-80-10. Corner of Woodman and Forest. Alley. Send pick-up.”
“Don’t worry.” Ackles stays low with a knee in the kid’s back and he looks up at Jared. “What’re you doing here?”
Jared motions to his left with the globe in hand while he cradles the other items to his chest. “Was going to work.”
“Just randomly stopping in alleys?”
He works his mouth, ready to say saw you and wanted to say hi but that’s just a strange thing to really acknowledge in this situation. But stranger yet is when the kid starts moving, fighting against Ackles’ knee, and the agent pulls his gun out again, shooting right between the shoulder blades. Jared jumps back and inhales a harsh breath. “Oh my God! Now you’re just shooting at close range for no reason!”
Ackles shakes his head. “He’ll be fine.” He looks up to Jared, who’s still pretty horrified by the whole thing. “You can put the items down, head on back to work.”
With a frown, he bends forward and lays it all down, but he doesn’t move away. “What then? No bullets? Taser gun?”
He stares for a few moments and then says awkwardly, “Yeah, taser.”
Jared just glares, and while yeah, Agent Ackles is still ridiculously good looking, the guy’s kind of a jerk and just lying his whole face off. He complains with a burst of anger, “Oh my God, you are the worst liar in the history of the world.”
“Excuse me?” Ackles complains right back.
“You shot a kid, for nothing. And you totally lied about the lab thing from yesterday.” Jared waves his hands to make a point, and he keeps going. “I don’t care if you’re FBI or not, but you shot a kid in the middle of the day. And you tell me I’ll get gangrene if I misuse lotion or take a pill too early. And you couldn’t even say what kind of tests you’re running on me. And you’re probably not even FBI. Jesus!”
Ackles slowly rises and plants his hands on his hips. He then waves a hand in the air. “Federal Agent here. I’m not going to start telling you every detail of my case. What I do is protect the public from things you don’t even want to know about.”
Jared stops listening because the kid starts moving, and his eyes can’t stay away from the hands pushing into the ground so he can get up to his knees.
Only, Ackles keeps going, totally unfazed and actually reaches for his gun again, shooting as he continues griping back at Jared. “So don’t start ragging on me about lying and keeping secrets. Okay? It’s imperative that my job protects people. Alright?”
He can do nothing more than stare with wide eyes at what he’s witnessing and it all feels like a big joke on him. He’s tempted to look around for the Candid Camera crew, and possibly Chad hiding behind the nearby dumpster. Instead, his face scrunches up and he says awkwardly, “You just shot that kid three times.”
“Yeah, I did,” Ackles replies defiantly.
Jared looks at the kid, utterly still. “He really not dead yet?”
“No. He’s fine.”
“Three tasers fine?”
Ackles sighs and puts the gun back into his jacket while pressing a foot into the kid’s back. “Just don’t worry about it, okay?”
Jared eyes him critically and he turns away, not even sure what to do right here, because hey, at least the agent is actually talking to him in more than clipped official words. But this isn’t exactly going well either.
He sighs again, “Look, Jared, it’s fine. I’m doing my job. Just let me go about it, okay?”
A tiny smile forms, because Ackles, again, used his first name, but it quickly flips down to a frown because this is all still totally insane. He finally nods with a muttered, “Yeah, alright,” and he walks away. Considering how odd this entire situation is, it’s incredibly easy.
What’s incredibly hard is forgetting Agent Ackles. Not matter how hard he tries, it’s impossible to get the guy out of his head. In fact, the next morning, he dreams about trying to disrobe the guy, and finding a boatload of crap in his jacket … anything from a badge and four guns to a rolodex, remote control, and a pair of garden shears. Jared has no clue where that comes from. But soon enough, his dream lets him bask in the glory of the agent being shirtless and groping Jared. So when he wakes up pretty darn hard, the only real answer is to jerk off and start the morning with a smile. A very strange, awkward smile, but a smile nonetheless.
When he takes the bus to work, and again gets off at the same stop, he slows as he passes the alleyway, now empty. But it fills his mind with the memory of what all he saw there. The kid being shot with the taser. Three times. And Jared replays all of Ackles riffling through the kid’s belongings, handing them over to Jared before grabbing more from every pocket.
Jared glances once more and sees a flicker of light next to the chain link fence that the teenager had fallen against before hitting the ground. And when he approaches, he sees a dark blue globe, much like the purple one he’d held in his hand. He brings it up and stares, just as he did twenty-four hours before, and spots a floating orb inside. He flips it around and watches the fleck bounce around inside, floating through some sort of gel. But then it starts to glow and shake inside and Jared nearly drops it. When he closes his palm around it, it’s warm to the touch, but not threatening. At another glance, the orb stops glowing and the heat settles, suddenly cooling his skin. Jared tucks it into his jeans pocket and goes on to work, fully intending to call Agent Ackles.
Except he doesn’t have his card. And he had to give the one for the lab over once he’d gone through that whole ordeal, so he’s completely lost to the whole thing.
He and Sandy stare at it at length, and then Chad participates by rolling the thing over the counter and knocking it around the space like it’s a pinball.
“What is it?” Sandy asks with wonder.
“I have no idea,” Jared mumbles, not sure what to even say about everything that’s happened to him since he had that orange.
“You should just call the dude up,” Chad offers, staring intently at the ball before grabbing it and tossing it in the air and catching it, repeatedly. “Tell him to meet you, hand it over with some beers and just blow the guy.”
“Shut up,” Jared grumbles.
“Know you wanna.”
Uh, yeah, he really does. Because as strange as his dream had been, he kind of liked jerking off and coming over his hand with Ackles’ face in his mind.
Sandy offers, “You should call the FBI.”
“Right, because they’re listed in the Yellowbook,” Chad scoffs.
Jared frowns. “They didn’t even care about the green stuff.”
She reaches for his hands. “How’re they doing anyway?”
His voice goes from dejected to slightly impressed. “Whatever that lotion was, it worked.”
“Yeah, but you’re still chafing. Or is that from the morning routine?” Chad snorts while pumping a fist in the air.
Sandy reaches forward and slaps his face. Chad hardly reacts.
Jared smirks at her. “Nah, it’s not a hundred percent. But the itching went down.”
“Told you to stay away from that tranny.”
She reaches again to slap. And again, he doesn’t react. This happens a lot.
Jared leans across the counter to grab the globe from one of Chad’s tosses and settles back to look at it. He has no idea what’s going on or what to even do about it.
And it’s made worse when a couple of teenagers enter the store an hour later and look like they’re casing the place, wandering eyes, and walking with purpose throughout the store.
“Help you guys?” Jared offers sternly, watching the two in the front of the store while trying to keep an eye on the one roaming towards the back.
One speaks up easily, “We’re just looking.”
“Thinkin’ ‘bout a puppy,” the other smirks and turns away, seemingly casual, but Jared reads something different.
He and Chad watch the kids, who just keep searching, like they have a purpose, but nothing is really going on. When Jared hears one whisper to the other and he distinctly makes out the word Zorbet, he steps out from behind the counter. “You guys sure you don’t need any help?” he asks.
“You know, my buddy lost something. Just looking to see if it came in here.”
Chad smarts off, “Yeah? Well unless he birthed a load of kittens, we don’t have anything.”
Jared frowns at Chad, because this whole thing is just off and they don’t need to create more trouble here. He has no idea why he knows that, but he just does
One kid steps closer to Chad while Jared moves away from the counter to look down an aisle and see what the other two are doing. He doesn’t get the chance to really get an eye on them, because he hears quick zings of fire and when he looks over, the kid is aiming a gun at the counter and Chad’s already ducking behind it. The display all around the register is smoking and falling everywhere, and Jared has no clue what to do but book it out the front door.
As he races down the street, he pulls out his cell to call the police but can’t get a word of anything out when more zings are going off and he sees blue lights firing all around him. He runs around the nearest corner and then sprints to the next one, just barely jumping up the stairs of a bus that’s letting an elderly woman off. He quickly shuffles down the aisle, ducking down to watch the kid halt at the corner and tuck the gun back inside his jacket and huff, shaking his head at Jared escaping.