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She shook her head. “Watch who you touch. And heaven help you if you're currently involved with anyone. I will rip them to pieces.” Katie said sternly. Jared's teeth snapped audibly in the quiet room. Jensen's mouth hung open as Jared strode from the room. Katie covering her face with her hands once again drew Jensen's attention.
 
“What the fuck have you done?” Katie moaned, her voice thick with tears. “He's less than human. God, I don't even think he remembers what human emotions are! He's going to... I don't know, molest you or something! What am I going to tell Chad?! He's going to be furious with me for letting you get tangled up in my mess!”
 
Jensen sat across from Katie, his stomach churning, and tried to pretend he didn't know she was crying her eyes out. She stopped abruptly, and her eyes glowed yellow, channeling the wolf buried deep inside her. She was furious and had lost all control to her wolf. Jensen jumped out of the chair, his heart pounding, suddenly terrified.
 
“You just committed yourself to him, Jensen, and there's no going back. You offered yourself to Jared on a silver platter. You're practically his already, because your only out was if I'm guilty, and I'm sure as hell not. I didn't kill Chad. And being bound to a werewolf is hard, but to Jared? It's going to be the most difficult thing in your life. And there's more you don't know. You walked into this blind.”
 
She inhaled sharply and pinned Jensen with a ferocious glare. “At least tell me you're single.” Jensen's vocal chords were paralyzed from fear, but he managed a hesitant nod. Katie visibly relaxed, and the relief was plain to see. In one blink of the eye all emotion vanished; the wolf was back in control.
 
“Thank God,” Katie snarled as the wolf spoke for her. “At least you won't have his or her death on your conscience. Because if you were in a relationship, Jared wouldn't hesitate to kill the competition. I almost feel sorry for you, you poor, fucking idiot.”
 
Katie stared at Jensen for what felt like an eternity. She smiled ruefully, and a split second later Katie was gone, replaced by the golden wolf. Even in her wolf form her eyes were pitying. She howled mournfully and then dashed away. Jensen heard the door open and close. He was alone now, with Jared, his almost mate.
 
Holy fuck. What had he done?
 
(((____))))

Jensen did not consider himself a cowardly man by any means but he'd be lying if he said he hadn't been constantly afraid over the past twenty-four hours. Jensen figured he deserved a free pass considering he'd just learned about the very real existence of werewolf's and magick. Then there was the insane Berserker that he'd pretty much sold his soul to in order to save his best friend's wife. Jensen had done it in a desperate bid to keep her alive until they uncovered the evidence needed to prove she was innocent.
 
If Katie was telling the truth, and his gut told him she was, than he'd just given himself to something less than human. He'd forgotten in the heat of the moment that he was dealing with a werewolf, and that while the person in front of him looked human, Jared was actually harboring an animal, and was a slave to the beasts' baser instincts.
 
He'd have to think about that later. What he'd bonded himself to. Jared may have agreed to help Jensen and Katie find the person or persons responsible for framing Katie and taking her husband, but Jared had told Jensen that he already considered them mated. And that raised even more questions.
 
What did Jared expect of Jensen? It sounded like the werewolf didn't want Jensen to have any sexual relationships with anyone except Jared himself, which, okay, that was fine. Jensen didn't plan to cheat anyway. If that's what it took to keep Jared from killing Katie, than Jensen could live with that.
 
What really made Jensen uncomfortable, though, was the possessive way Jared told Jensen he'd protect what was his, and that he'd 'rip them to pieces' if Jensen so much as touched another person. Did that mean Jared expected Jensen to just sit around in his apartment until the whole mess with Katie and Chad was cleared up? Jensen had a life outside of Katie's ordeal, and a job that he didn't particularly like, but needed. He wasn't going to spend the rest of his life cooped up in his apartment.
 
And that raised even more questions. When Chad was reunited with Katie, what was going to happen next? Jensen assumed he'd mate with Jared, but what, exactly, did that mean? From Jared and Katie's conversation while Jared had Jensen under mind control, or whatever that mojo had been, Katie mentioned Jared turning him into a werewolf.

Did Jensen have to be turned? Was it possible for him and Jared to mate without Jared turning him in to a werewolf? Could Jared go back to his pack without Jensen? Did Jensen have to go where Jared went? Jensen remembered Katie mentioning a mental bond, and being able to sense Chad even when separated. Would that be enough for Jared? Would there even be a mental bond? And to make matters even more confusing, Katie claimed there was still more he didn't know or understand.
 
Jensen moaned. There were too many questions, and only one person who could answer them, and he was the last person Jensen wanted to see, let alone speak to. If he wanted to resolve anything, then he needed to man up and speak with Jared. After all, Jensen had laid out his terms and Jared accepted them.
 
Like it or not, Jensen was up to his neck in a mess of his own making.
 
((((___)))
 
Jensen didn't know whether to laugh or cry when he found Jared waiting for him in his bedroom. The werewolf looked strange to him, supine on Jensen's bed, his feet propped up on two of Jensen's spare pillows. It took Jared less than a second to realize he was no longer alone; his eyes fairly burned holes into Jensen's skin.
 
Jared stretched, and his shirt hiked up revealing tanned skin. Jensen swallowed, but was unable to look away. Jared leaned back against the headboard, relaxed, and he kept his legs spread, inviting Jensen to look. Or, on second thought, Jared wanted Jensen to sit beside him. In the v of his legs, if the 'come hither' look Jared was sending him was any indication.
 
Jensen took two giant steps away from Jared. The werewolf didn't seem the least bit put off at Jensen's reticence. Jared's smile was wide and open and maybe a little bit fond. It was going to take more than heated and inviting looks to persuade Jensen to do anything, even when he and Jared were bonded. Jensen's fate was sealed, after all; it was only a matter of time until Katie's innocence was proved.
 
“I see Katie has spoken with you,” Jared said sardonically. “I can smell your fear.”
 
Jensen flushed but didn't hesitate to send a glare Jared's way. “I'm not afraid.”
 
Jared laughed and tapped his nose condescendingly. “The nose doesn't lie, little one.”
 
Oh, that was it. Jensen thought, furious. If Jared thought he could give him cutesy nicknames, like Jensen was some fluffy animal, than he had another thing coming. Jensen may have agreed to be his mate, but nowhere in their verbal agreement, had there been any talk of flowery nicknames. Jensen hadn't called any of his girlfriend's 'darling' or 'honey' and he wasn't about to start now. And no significant other of his was going to get away with that either.
 
“Call me little one again, and I'll rip your nuts off.” Jensen growled. Jared blinked, taken aback, and than he threw his head back and laughed uproariously. Jensen was put off. Nothing seemed to ruffle the werewolf, and it was freaking Jensen out.
 
“You have spirit, Jensen, and I must admit I'm relieved.” Jared said, once his laughter subsided. Between one blink of Jensen's eyes and the next, Jared had moved off the bed and had Jensen's back against the wall. “My mate or not, I could not live with a timid mouse by my side for all eternity.”
 
Jensen swallowed and arched his neck away from Jared's mouth. The werewolf's cold nose pressed against the skin of his neck, and Jensen could feel Jared's exhales heating his skin. Jensen pressed his palms against Jared's back and pressed with all his strength; he was hardly surprised when Jared proved as immovable as a mountain. In fact, the werewolf didn't even seem to notice the pressure.
 
“I won't be cowed by you.” Jensen said, determined. Jared 'mmm-hmmmd' against Jensen's neck. A shiver ran down Jensen's spine as he felt Jared's warm tongue lick a path up his neck. Wet heat enveloped his earlobe before, with obvious effort, Jared stepped back. Jensen blinked owlishly at Jared, confused by the sliver of space between their bodies.
 
“I agreed not to claim you until you found evidence of Katie's innocence, and I will stand by that.” Jared's smile turned positively dirty, “Unless you wish to mate with me now? I am more than willing to appease my mate.”
 
Jensen shook his head so hard his ears rang. “No! That's never going to happen!” Jared didn't seem surprised to be turned down. He shrugged his shoulders, but, despite Jensen's protest, deigned to rest his cheek against Jensen's shoulder.
 
“I actually have a lot of questions for you.” Jensen said. It was increasingly difficult to think with the heat from Jared's body seeping into his. It was almost like the fog clouding his mind, except this time, he couldn't blame it on Jared as something he was doing deliberately. This was all Jensen's bodies fault; that and his stupid attraction to the werewolf. Life really wasn't fair.
 
“I bet you do.” Jared said, absently. His hand cupped Jensen's neck gently, like he was handling something fragile, like precious china. “Ask away. I am more than happy to put your fears to rest.” Jared nipped Jensen's neck, and his voice turned wicked. “Or not. You did give yourself to me, and I plan to collect as soon as possible.”
 
“Are you immortal?” Jensen didn't know why questioning Jared, and by extension all werewolf's longevity was the first question that came to mind. It was, and so Jensen asked.
 
The surprise showed plainly on Jared's face. He paused and when Jensen didn't ask anything else he began to speak. “We're not immortal. We die just like humans. There is, however, something in our blood, some component or perhaps something genetic that makes us age more slowly. Our lifespan is six or seven times that of a humans; sometimes longer. A werewolf lives for centuries. It can be seven or eight decades before our bodies even start to age. Aging does vary from werewolf to werewolf. Some age quicker than others; others can take decades, even a century to age ten or eleven years. My pack leader is an excellent example of slow aging. He's over six centuries old, and he only now looks to be in his forties.”
 
Werewolf's took centuries to grow old and die? That didn't make Jensen's situation any better. He let out a frustrated groan. His eyes were accusatory when they met Jared's. “So that's what I have to look forward to? Living for hundreds of years, chained to your side? Bonded to a man I can barely stand? Having to smile and nod as you kill humans in cold blood?”

“You'll learn to accept your lot in life.” Jared said dismissively. “Besides, you gave me your word. It's only a matter of time. You're mine now.”
 
“Gee thanks for being so understanding.” Jensen said sarcastically. “Your caring makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.”
 
Jared visibly bristled and his teeth bared in warning. His eyes turned yellow with the wolf's displeasure. Jensen had pissed off a savage beast-literally. If Jensen didn't want to be pinned to the ground in a show of dominance as old as time, he needed to tread carefully. Jared was feeling extremely volatile at this moment.

“You must be a couple of centuries old. You talk strangely, just like Katie does.” Jensen said. He held his palms up in a soothing gesture.

Jared didn't look appeased. His voice was stiff, his temper barely leashed when he spoke. “I am a couple of centuries old.” His eyes narrowed.“What, exactly, is your problem?”
 
The anger in Jared's voice made Jensen flinch. He wanted to run from the room; those yellow eyes of Jared's made Jensen's heart pound with fear. He knew, instinctively, that running was the worst thing he could do right now. Even though Jensen thought he might actually faint from fear, he forced himself to stay put and continue to speak with Jared.
 
Jared continued to talk, ignoring Jensen's visible fear. If Jensen had to guess, he'd say Jared thought he deserved to be frightened for giving Jared so much attitude. It did rankle, because Jensen wasn't a teenager that needed discipline from his parents. He was a grown adult, stuck in an impossible situation of his own making. And his supposed 'mate' wasn't making Jensen feel any better about what he'd agreed to for the rest of his life. If Jensen wasn't so afraid right now, he'd punch Jared in the face for being such an ass.
 
Jared's next words doused the flames of Jensen's anger, buried as it was under his fear. “It's not as if you have anyone left but Chad, and he's going to live along side you for centuries, assuming, of course, that he's still alive, and I don't need to carry out the death sentence Jeff placed on Katie's head. You'll have me, always, and Chad. What more do you need?”
 
Jared's careless words sent a knife through Jensen's heart. The fear that had been so prominent in his mind was stamped out under the onslaught of pain. God, how could Jared make Jensen so afraid of him one minute, and then angry, and now, so unbelievably hurt? His supposed mate was one callous bastard. In that moment of time, Jensen hated him.
 
“I need my family, you asshole.” Jensen croaked. He had to clear his throat to get the words out, and they still scraped his throat like they were shards of glass.
 
Jared seemed surprised, and the yellow faded from his eyes at Jensen's words. “I assumed that your family is dead. You have no pictures of them, so...” Jared trailed off uncomfortably.
 
Anger stirred in Jensen's guts at Jared's words, but it faded quickly under the pain of memories trying to awaken in his mind. “That's the problem. You assumed. And you're wrong; my family's not dead. Or at least, not everyone is.”
 
Jared shuffled forward, awkwardly, and placed his hand on Jensen's shoulder in a silent offer of comfort. Jensen shrugged Jared's hand off, but he couldn't make himself move. As much as he loathed Jared, and as big as a jerk the werewolf was, Jensen didn't want to be alone right now. Not with the pain gnawing his at insides, and definitely not with the memories clawing at his mind.
 
The words were hard to force out past the lump in his throat, but Jensen persevered, needing to share his pain. He needed Jared to know. “My mom died when I was nine years old; she drowned while out swimming with my cousin. It was a freak accident; and my dad, once he found out, just shut down. For the rest of my childhood he....” Jensen swallowed and tried to think of a phrase to best describe his father. “He was unavailable, emotionally. It was like my sister and I weren't even there.”

Jensen bit his lip and stared at a spot on the wall behind Jared, because if he looked at the werewolf, then he'd start to cry and he didn't want Jared to see that. “I raised my younger sister by myself. Once I was twenty I left home and moved in with Chad. My sister never forgave me for leaving her with our dad; even though I tried to get her to move out with me, she refused. She wouldn't leave her boyfriend even though he was beating her. I felt like the biggest dick leaving her, but I just needed to get out. I've only talked to her once since I left.”

Jensen's voice was clogged with tears, but he forced himself to continue. If he stopped, and let the tears flow, then he'd never stop crying. “She called me on Christmas Eve, and told me that she'd left her boyfriend and that she was doing all right, and she'd been accepted into a medical school. She said she was happy, but she was still mad at me for leaving her with dad.” Jensen laughed self-depreciatingly. “Even after all the time that passed, she couldn't forgive me. I guess I don't deserve my sister's forgiveness.”
 
Jared touched Jensen's cheek gently before moving back to the bed to sit down. Jensen paused, considering, before he followed Jared and sat down next to the werewolf. Jared seemed surprised, but while he didn't smile, his eyes were warm.

“I've only known you for a short time, but I believe she is a fool for not forgiving you.” Jared paused, and asked hesitantly, “Why haven't you tried to go and visit her?”

Jensen shrugged. “Stuff came up. Chad left and I was broke, and I had no idea where she was. Dad wouldn't give me her cell number, and I had no other way of contacting her.” Jensen hugged himself. He felt chilled to the bone. The only point of warmth was where Jared still cupped his cheek. “I still miss her, though.”
 
“I'm sorry,” Jared said haltingly; “I was wrong to make assumptions about your family. I hope you can forgive me for hurting you so badly.” Jensen gaped, shocked that Jared was willing to apologize. The apology was obviously difficult for Jared to make. Jensen didn't have it in him to hold a grudge when Jared was willing to admit he'd messed up.
 
Besides, baring his soul, however little, to Jared made it easier for Jensen to lock both the hurt and the memories away. “I forgive you.” Jensen grinned at Jared. “But first, I have a lot more questions for you.”
 
Jared's answering smile made Jensen's heart beat faster. “I'm sure you do, Jensen, but I think we should call it a night. You've had a long day and you must be exhausted.”
 
Jensen was surprised that, after a moment's consideration, he was actually tired enough to sleep. “I guess you're right. I am tired.” He smiled hesitantly at Jared, suddenly shy.
 
“Well,” Jared said, and his smile turned predatory. “I guess we should get some sleep then.”
 
“We? What makes you think I'm letting you stay here?”
 
Jared sounded smug. “Do you really want me out of your sight and around Katie?”
 
Good point. Jared had promised he wouldn't kill Katie until there was proof that she was indeed guilty. But with the way Jared was at Katie's throat, and more than willing to kill first and ask questions later, it was in Katie's best interests to keep Jared close.
 
Jensen's shoulders slumped in defeat. “Fine!” Jensen's eyes narrowed at Jared's smug, self-satisfied smile. “But you're sleeping on the floor.” Jensen didn't wait for Jared to either agree or disagree; he was out of his bedroom like a shot. The door slammed with a satisfying sound behind him.
 
Jensen took his time showering, even though the water was so cold it made his teeth chatter so hard he thought they might break. His mind was in chaos as he showered; Jared had taken up residence in his mind and did not seem likely to leave any time soon. In between thoughts of Jared and Liza's dead body, Chad popped up.
 
He wondered if Chad was still alive, like Katie believed. Was Chad injured and waiting for rescue? Or even worse, was Chad laying somewhere, dying? Jensen's stomach plummeted with dread and fear. Katie was confident that Chad was indeed out there somewhere, alive and waiting for her to find him, but maybe she was deluding herself. He had a rudimentary knowledge of what happened when a werewolf mated, and little else. Jensen didn't know enough about werewolves to be sure either way. He trusted Katie, and that had to be enough.
 
He wanted to see his best friend again. His life had been empty and hollow without his friend, and nothing had seemed right since he'd left. Jensen had so much he wanted to tell Chad, and after he hit him for leaving without saying goodbye and only leaving a fucking note...Jensen planned to hug him and not let go for a long time.
 
“Please be all right, Chad. We're coming for you. Katie's coming. And I am, too.”
 
((((___))))
 
 Jensen finished his nightly routine after nearly a half hour of stalling. Face freshly shaved and teeth brushed, Jensen couldn't stop yawning as he opened his bedroom door. His apartment was chilly, and Jensen's arms were covered in goosebumps. His thin T-shirt and flannel sleep pants were barely warm enough, and he was looking forward to burrowing under the covers and hiding until morning.
 
The lamp was still on and Jensen nearly tripped over Jared, asleep on the floor. The werewolf was wrapped in a blanket Jensen vaguely remembered Chad using during the colder winter nights. Jared must have found it in Jensen's hallway closet.
 
Jensen tiptoed around Jared, and slipped into his bed, hissing at the feel of cold sheets on his skin. Jensen wished he had money for an electric blanket, but that was a luxury he'd probably never afford. He had enough trouble making ends meet as it was. His hand froze on the bedside lamp, and his eyes, against his will, strayed to Jared.
 
Jared showed little or no emotion while awake, and Jensen barely liked him. Jared had driven him crazy less than an hour ago; he'd been insensitive about Jensen's family, and he'd invaded Jensen's personal space on more than one occasion, which was not appreciated. Even more infuriating, was how smug and self-satisfied Jared was.
 
Jared was the complete opposite, asleep. Jensen supposed that made sense; the werewolf was sleeping, how could he do anything that made Jensen want to slap him while lying on the ground snoozing? He was still managing to irritate Jensen though, mainly because he looked fucking gorgeous. His face was relaxed as Jensen had never seen while Jarad was awake; the coldness was gone from his face. Jared slept with his mouth parted, and he snored softly. Jensen found, to his horror, himself smiling when Jared snuffled in his sleep and pressed his face against the pillow under his head.
 
Anger at himself coursed through Jensen, and he turned off the lamp with unnecessary force. He couldn't afford to find Jared appealing; he needed to remain focused on Chad and Katie. Anything else would be an unwelcome distraction. Jensen pulled his blanket tighter around his shoulders and tried to relax enough to sleep. Tomorrow promised to be a long day.
 
It was hard to relax. Jensen was unused to having another person in his room. It'd been a long time since Jensen sought female company; months, in fact. Jensen couldn't even blame his wakefulness on Jared. The other man hardly made any sounds at all. He barely moved at all, and the only noise he made frequently were soft exhales.
 
Fucking hell. Jensen thought. He was so tired, but he just couldn't sleep. He was going to be a walking zombie in the morning, and no help to Katie.
 
“You need to relax and sleep.” Jared's voice nearly made Jensen jump out of his skin. He hadn't heard Jared move. The bed shifted under Jared's weight, and before Jensen could even think of moving, the bed covers were thrown back and Jared slid in beside him. Jared jostled Jensen until he moved Jensen in a position that pleased him.
 
Jensen was on his side, his head pillowed under Jared's arm. Jared pressed against Jensen's back in one warm strip. Jared's breath heated the hollow of Jensen's throat, and though Jensen fought himself, his body relaxed in increments, until he was fighting to keep his eyes opened.
 
“Go away,” Jensen moaned, his voice slurred from exhaustion. Jared huffed a laugh into Jensen's throat. Jensen hated himself for the shiver he couldn't suppress.
 
“I felt you angsting. You woke me up.” Jared nipped Jensen's throat. Jensen moaned and arched his head back. “You think too much Jensen. It's not good to have so many worries in one so young.”
 
Jensen knew there was an insult in there somewhere, but it was hard to think with the way Jared's sharp teeth kept nipping his throat. His body went rigid as Jared sucked hard on Jensen's neck, his teeth worrying the skin under his mouth. Jensen could feel Jared's erection against his ass as the man rocked against him. Jensen wondered if Jared could smell that he was half-hard himself.
 
Each pull of Jared's mouth sent spirals of heat through Jensen's body. Mindless with lust, Jensen found himself rocking back against Jared's body. It'd been so long since Jensen had been with anyone; all of the reasons why this was wrong, why Jensen should say 'no' were lost in a haze of lust. All of Jensen's focus was on Jared's cock pressing against his ass through layers of clothes and the wet suction of Jared's mouth on his neck.
 
He whined low in his throat as Jared's hand slipped down his body and paused for one second to tease Jensen's nipple through the worn fabric of his shirt. His skin tingled as his sleep pants were lowered; a hot hand wrapped around his weeping cock. Jared's hand, warm and slightly calloused, was like heaven wrapped around his cock. It was perfect. Too perfect. His heart nearly stopped as Jared started to stroke.
 
“You're mine now, you know. You're giving yourself to me.” Jared panted into his ear. He licked the aching flesh he'd been worrying with his teeth. “You know that, don't you, Jensen?” Jensen couldn't answer. He could only arch his back further for Jared's tongue and teeth, press back against Jared's hips, and then stutter forward for Jared's hand.
 
Jared's voice was thick and dark like molasses. “So sweet. So innocent. And you're all mine. If anyone else tries to take you, tries to sample what is mine, I'll kill them.”
 
Jensen shook his head in the negative. No killing. Not over him. And Jensen wasn't surrendering to Jared. He wasn't. He was just caught up in the moment. This meant nothing.
 
Jared suddenly moved forward and his leg wrapped around Jensen's waist, effectively pinning him to the bed, Jared's hand still on Jensen's cock. Jensen could feel Jared's own erection against his ass, warm and throbbing even through the fabric that separated their skin.
 
“What?” Jensen said. He felt drugged from the lust clouding his mind. “Why did you stop?” The room was almost completely silent. The only sound came from Jensen's desperate panting. Jared was a still, immovable mountain behind him. Jensen would have been afraid Jared had lost interest if it wasn't for the werewolf's hand on his cock, and the werewolf's own pressing against Jensen's ass.
 
“I'm not doing anything until you say you're mine. When we go out in public searching for your friend's kidnapper, I want you to understand. No flirting with anyone else, no touching any person more than necessary, or my retribution will be harsh and...deadly.”
 
“You're mad!” Jensen panted, alarmed.
 
“Maybe.” Jared said, unconcerned. “But you agreed to my conditions concerning our mating. I agreed to yours. This is one of my conditions that slipped my mind at the time.”
 
Jensen was both angry and turned on at the same time. Jared's hand on his cock was almost burning. He wanted Jared to start stroking him again. He wanted Jared to thrust against his ass until he came. At the same time, he wanted to punch the smug, sanctimonious prick in the face for manipulating him so completely.
 
“You said you wouldn't do anything to me until after Katie's name is cleared!”
 
Though Jensen could feel Jared's smile pressed against his skin, the werewolf's voice held a hint of regret. “I did. I am forming our physical bond right now. The mental bond will come later, when I change you. There will be no penetrative sex, except with my teeth. What I am doing now is for my own sanity. If I do not mark you, both with my scent and with my bite, than any werewolf we encounter who is not mated, is free to take you from me. As I've made hundreds of enemies over the centuries, this is for your protection.”
 
Oh, God, this was insane. Jared was insane. What kind of mess had Jensen gotten himself into? Katie was right. He had walked into this whole mating thing utterly blind. And he was paying for his ignorance now.
 
“All this touching wasn't necessary, then, was it? You could have just bit me. Instead you decided to toy with me. You are such an asshole, Jared!” Jensen said angrily.
 
Teeth nipped his skin lightly, and Jared stroked Jensen's cock smoothly, from base to tip. His hand stilled again, but not before Jensen rocked into the touch. Jared's breath stuttered.
 
“The sooner you say you're mine, the sooner this can be over.” Jared said.
 
Jensen, with his body clamoring for release, and his mind screaming at him to just agree so the fire consuming his body would be doused, knew he had little choice. Jared held all of the cards. Jensen had no power, no leverage. With a hand on his cock, and pinned to the bed by Jared's leg, he had no hope of escape. And with the desire burning through his body, Jensen didn't want to escape. Jared had won this round, and Jensen was going to hate himself in the morning. Almost as much as he was going to hate Jared.
 
“I'm yours.” Jensen said reluctantly. His body went limp, and the fight Jensen hadn't even known he'd been storing up left his body.
 
Jared's relief was palpable. “Good.” Jared's leg remained, and Jensen couldn't move except to roll his hips into Jared's hand. Each stroke of Jared's hand brought Jensen closer to his release, and soon his cock was leaking precome. By the time Jared's thumb started playing with his slit, Jensen was gasping, his mouth bitten raw from his teeth. Jared's pants were loud in Jensen's ear. A fingernail against the head of Jensen's cock was enough to bring Jensen over the edge.
 
Seconds after Jensen came, he felt wetness against his ass. It was hot, Jared coming shortly after he did. His own orgasm was like a freight train through his body. All of his nerve-endings came alive, and Jensen was helpless to stop his cries from escaping his lips.
 
Jensen lay under Jared, shaking from the intensity of his release. Jared was oddly quiet behind him, though Jensen figured that had something to do with the teeth worrying his skin. Jensen was relaxed and sleepy against Jared's body, and comfortable too. He felt like he could sleep now.
 
Out of nowhere, like a cobra striking its prey, Jared's teeth sank into Jensen's skin deep enough to draw blood. Jensen cried out and thrashed wildly as the pain swept through his body. Jared growled low in his throat, and though Jensen fought like a wild thing, he was pinned in place.
 
Jared's teeth were razor sharp and tore his skin like it was paper. The pain was incredible; Jensen's vision whited out from it. Finally Jared drew back and lifted his head. A whimper escaped as his razor sharp canines withdrew from Jensen's skin. Jared moved away from his body and gave Jensen some space.
 
“What the fuck?” Jensen panted. His body thrummed with pain and it took all his concentration to move his hand up to his neck. Jensen was unsurprised to find a lot of blood around where Jared had bit him; what he hadn't expected to find was the wound was already closed.
 
“I told you I needed to bite you.” Jared said.
 
“I think you took a chunk out of my neck.” The pain was somewhat muted now, but his body was tense and ready to either fight or flee if Jared tried to come any closer. Jared seemed to realize this, because the werewolf stayed about an arms length from Jensen.
 
“It would have hurt a lot more if I had bit you earlier. Werewolf's mark their mate during sex. The endorphin rush makes the pain much less acute. This is why I ignored your earlier plea to not touch you until after Katie was cleared.”
 
“You could have just asked.” Jensen said weakly. “And there was no plea. I made a reasonable request.”
 
Jared huffed out a laugh. Jensen twitched at the husky sound. “You would have fought me if I had asked you, or become frightened. I know you do not like me, and I do not blame you. I have been anything but kind to you. Or your friend's wife.”
 
Jensen shook his head so hard his vision swam. Maybe he was suffering from blood loss. “Don't pretend to be nice now that you hurt me. I know what a bastard you can be.”
 
Jared's voice was sad. “Perhaps. What I am trying to make you understand, Jensen, is that without the act of sex in the way, there is a very good chance I could have accidentally killed you. It is instinct that drives us to mark our mates in a permanent way during sex, as the act of marking is as primal as sex itself; that instinct guides us to the correct spot to place our mark. I could have severed your jugular, or ripped out your throat without that instinct guiding me. It is regrettable I had to use coercion, but it seemed the most prudent choice.”
 
Well...that made sense. Jensen wanted to be angry, he wanted to be furious, but he was just too damn tired. “ I am going to be so pissed at you in the morning. There is probably going to be a punch to the face involved.”
 
Jensen smiled as Jared pulled him into his arms. He was tired, his neck throbbed like it was being touched by a live wire, and his werewolf mate had just made him come in his pants. He was going to be sticky and achy tomorrow morning too, and there were so many reasons why he shouldn't have let Jared get close to him. He'd think about that in the morning, though.
 
“I will keep that in mind. I am curious to see what shape your mark will take.”
 
“What do you mean?” Jensen asked. His head was pillowed on Jared's chest. It should be illegal how comfortable Jensen was right now. Jared's hand stroking through Jensen's hair was soothing and keeping Jensen's mind blank of all the negative thoughts he should be having.
 
“Each mated werewolf carries a mark left by their mate. After the mark fully heals and scars, the scar resembles something unique to the particular pair. Werewolf lore says it is the magic, or curse, that allows us to change and turn others and shapes the mating mark.”
 
“So I could have a bunny rabbit on my throat?” Jensen tried to keep the alarm out of his voice. He did not look forward to explaining to his boss why there was a bunny shaped scar on his neck. He'd get fired for sure.
 
Jared's laugh rumbled through Jensen's body. “It is doubtful. While most mate marks seem to follow a nature theme, I do not think you need to worry. And even if you do get a bunny mark, remember I will have a similar one. When you are turned, it is your right to mark me as well. No one will dare mock me, a Beserker, especially one as lethal and powerful as I.”
 
Jensen smothered his laugh into Jared's chest. Jared's calm acceptance of their mating mark, even if it was something as cute and non-threatening as a bunny, went a long way towards making Jensen feel better. Jared would be fearsome indeed, even with a bunny rabbit permanently scarred onto his neck. He forced all thoughts of being turned from his mind. He wasn't going to be turned tonight, or tomorrow. That was a long way off. At least he hoped it was.
 
“Wait,” Jensen began. He shook his head hard to clear the sleep trying to pull him under. “Chad's a werewolf. I've been around Katie for over a day. I don't remember seeing a mark on her neck. She's Chad's mate, and he must have bit her. Didn't he claim her before he was kidnapped?”
 
Jared pulled Jensen closer and rocked him gently, and all the fear for his friend melted away like butter under Jared's calming presence. He ignored Jensen's weak slap to make him stop. “Quiet, Jensen, you're letting your exhaustion cloud your mind. Chad and Katie are fully mated, as you and I will be one day as well. You wouldn't see their mating mark, you're human, and her claiming mark is nearly invisible to the human eye. It is three silver swirls. Imagine the wind, Jensen,” Jared clarified upon seeing Jensen's confusion. “To a werewolf, the spirals shine like sun upon the snow. It is impossible to miss.”
 
“Oh, that's good.” Jensen whispered. He felt relief. At least Katie was fully claimed and no werewolf would try to take her from Chad. His eyes closed against his will. His world shifted as Jared lay back against the pillows. Jensen felt safe and protected. It took no time at all for Jensen to fall asleep.
 
((((____))))
 
Katie's voice, quite and angry, drew Jensen from a sound sleep. The bed was cold and empty beside Jensen. Jared was gone. Disappointment slammed into Jensen, sudden and unexpected. Jensen pulled the thick blanket over his head and tried to drown out Katie's voice. After two minutes, Jensen had no choice but to admit defeat. He was curious; and there was no point in trying to pretend he wasn't going to get up and investigate.
 
Jensen climbed out of the warm bed. He took a moment to pull on a sweatshirt and sweatpants before he opened the door and slipped out. He followed Katie's muffled but angry voice to the end of the hallway; he paused, out of sight, and eavesdropped. There was only two people Katie was angry with: Alexis and Jared. Only Jared was currently in Jensen's apartment.
 
“I cannot believe you claimed him! And it's the exact opposite of what you agreed to ” Katie hissed. Though Jensen couldn't see Jared, he imagined the werewolf's face was as smooth and impassive as ever.
 
“It was for his own protection.” The growl was clear in Jared's voice. “I protect what is mine. Jensen is safe with me.”
 
Katie's face showed her emotions plainly; disgust and sadness danced across her face. “You don't understand, Jared. He still doesn't know you. He hasn't seen how cold-blooded you are, even among werewolves. How do you think he's going to react if you kill someone in front of him?”
 
Jared scoffed. “I'll make him understand. If I must kill, it will be for Jensen's protection or for our people.”
 
“Jensen is human. Humans are frightened by death, and repulsed by murder. He nearly broke last night when we found Liza's body. I think you overestimate how much more Jensen can handle.” Jared's growl sent a chill down Jensen's spine, and he took an involuntary step away from the wall he'd been leaning against.
 
Jensen couldn't see it, but the eye roll she must be giving Jared was plain to hear in her voice. “Okay, Mr. Macho. I can take the hint. You don't want my advice. I'm leaving.”
 
Jensen tensed as footsteps drew near, but instead of running, he remained stubbornly in place. Knowing Jensen's luck, Jared had known right from the start that Jensen was listening; he was dealing with a supernatural being with enhanced senses. Jared could probably smell that Jensen was near.
 
Jared grinned as he caught sight of Jensen. One giant hand gripped Jensen's shoulder and pulled him against Jared's chest. Jensen stiffened in Jared's arms, but the werewolf didn't seem to care. Jared nuzzled Jensen's neck affectionately. The unaccustomed tenderness from Jared took Jensen by surprise.
 
“You shouldn't have eavesdropped on my conversation with your friend's wife, Jensen. I wouldn't want you to overhear anything that could potentially upset you.”
 
Jensen bristled at Jared's words. “I don't need you to protect me like I'm some delicate flower!” Jared's grin sent his blood boiling. “You make me want to punch you!”

“Didn't you say last night that you wished to punch me in the face the next time we spoke?” Jared teased. His eyes glinted with humor.

Jensen glared, and his eyes scanned Jared's face. “I think I'd break my hand if I tried to punch you. No thanks.” Jensen said sullenly.
 
All the fight left Jensen's body as Jared's lips brushed against the spot where Jared had bit him last night. Jared's tongue rasping against the spot had Jensen's blood singing, and his cock twitched. Shame slammed into his body, along with regret. He was all talk; he hadn't even held out until Katie's name was cleared. He couldn't even punch the werewolf when he clearly deserved it. One touch from Jared, and he's spread his legs like a cheap whore.
 
Large hands cupped his face and Jensen found himself looking into burning eyes. Jared seemed to radiate anger, and Jensen found himself suitably cowed. This Jared, large and intimidating, looked about one word away from snapping someone's neck. Jensen did not want to be the one to set him off; not with Katie so close and with a death threat still hanging over her head; and definitely not with Jensen himself trapped against Jared.
 
“Calm yourself, Jensen. I can smell your shame. I am your mate, and you should never be humiliated by the way I make you feel. It is my duty to not only protect you, but to sate your bodies desire. I will make your body burn with lust for centuries, just as you can make mine react the same way. It is a beautiful, primal reaction between us.”
 
Jensen's face went hot at Jared's words. He buried his face against Jared's neck so he could hide his embarrassment. Jared let him; the anger seemed to have burned away from his body, and he was content to simply hold Jensen.
 
“There was so much purple prose in your speech I feel sickened.” Jensen said, his voice muffled against Jared's skin.
 
“I speak the truth.” Jared said. “You will need to grow accustomed to the way my touches affect you. The desire will only grow worse during the full moon.”
 
Jensen pulled away from the warm haven of Jared's arms. Jared reluctantly let Jensen go. His eyes followed Jensen's restless pacing. His eyes were practically burning holes in Jensen's back from their intensity.
 
“I'm not going to like what you're going to tell me, am I?”
 
Jared's smile was rueful. “We are at our most primal during this time. Many of our females go into heat during the full moon, their reproductive cycles tied to the lunar cycle. Because of this, those bonded to a female wolf are constantly mating. The rest of us stay close to our pack, and we also keep our mate close. You're going to have to deal with me in your personal space 24/7, with no reprieves. Where you go, I go. You may find this time trying.”
 
Jensen groaned. “What have I gotten myself into?”
 
“You know.” Jared said, smugly. “You're mine now. For all time.” He sauntered over to Jensen and leaned against his shoulder. Jensen rolled his eyes, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from resting his head against Jared's shoulder. He groaned his appreciation as Jared ran his fingers through Jensen's hair.
 
“Do you wish to know what shape your mating mark took the form of?” Jensen started at Jared's words. He hadn't realized he'd drifted off. His body went tense, until Jared ran a soothing hand along the back of his neck. Jensen was startled to find Jared had moved them back into Jensen's bedroom, and they were laying side-by-side on Jensen's bed.
 
“Please tell me it's not a bunny,” Jensen said, too worried about cute symbols to really think about being in bed, again, with Jared; “I don't know what I'd do if was a bunny.”
 
Jared laughed, low and amused. His sharp teeth nipped Jensen's neck. The stinging pain cleared Jensen's mind, and he quieted. His eyes met Jared's, and he relaxed even more once he caught sight of the pleased look on Jared's face.
 
“Our mating symbol is an open flame. Most appropriate for us, I believe. You burn bright and fierce, Jensen, ready to take up arms to defend your friend, and fight for what you believe in. You are a most remarkable human.”
 
Jensen opened and closed his mouth, but he found himself at a loss of words. Finally, unable to think of anything appropriate to say, he pressed his mouth to Jared's. The kiss, slow and sensuous, had Jensen's toes curling with pleasure. Jared's teeth had just dug into Jensen's bottom lip when a cellphone started to ring. Jared groaned, annoyed, but he still pulled away from Jensen.
 
Jared pulled his cellphone from his pants pocket, and answered with a curt 'What'. His face steadily darkened as he listened to what the person on the other end said. He hung up abruptly and met Jensen's eyes. Jensen flinched at the anger he saw there.
 
“My pack leader just called me. One of our people was taken four days ago; she has just been located not too far from here. Since I'm so close, I'm to dispense justice on the werewolf that dared to betray our people.”
 
“Why didn't you mention someone was taken?” Jensen asked. He would have liked to know what was going on in Jared's life, and Jensen was sure Katie would have wanted to know as well.
 
“There were other werewolf's out looking for the kidnapped werewolf, Sophia. It didn't seem worth bringing up, especially since I thought she was nowhere near us. It seems I was mistaken.” Jared smiled wryly.
 
Jared massaged the back of his neck tiredly. Jensen's fingers twitched; he wanted to be the one to offer Jared comfort. The feeling, so foreign and unexpected, kept Jensen from closing the distance between them and doing just that. His feelings had taken a complete 180 from last night, and Jensen felt off balance and confused.
 
What he did know was he didn't like seeing Jared angry, and he definitely didn't like the thought of Jared getting hurt. Just thinking about Jared lying somewhere, injured and bleeding, made the breath catch in Jensen's throat. If Jared had to go and 'dispense justice' then he was going where a potentially dangerous werewolf was lying in wait.
 
Goddamnit that wasn't good. “When are you leaving to do what your leader asked?”
 
Jared glanced behind him to the clock on the wall. “I'm going to leave as soon as possible. I need a shower and something to eat, and then I'm leaving.”
 
Jensen nodded. “I don't really have anything to offer you, but I agree, a shower would be nice.” Jared leered. Jensen flushed and bit his lip. He tried, and failed, to glare at Jared. The werewolf looked decidedly unimpressed.
 
“I would ask you to join me, but I fear I am pushing your limits as it is.” Jared said, kindly. His eyes heated as they ran up and down Jensen's body. “I am sure I can find some way to occupy my mind in the shower.”
 
Jensen stared at Jared, confused for a moment. He slapped Jared's arm as the werewolf glided past, his indignant, “Oh, gross! Too much information!” following Jared out the door. Jared's taunting laughter setting Jensen's teeth on edge.
 
Jensen hoped the werewolf hadn't heard how Jensen's voice went low and husky at the end of the sentence. He was reasonably sure that Jared hadn't heard. The werewolf didn't need to know that the thought of Jared touching himself to thoughts of Jensen, made Jensen's blood heat and his cock stand up and take notice. The werewolf already affected Jensen enough.
 
Jensen's heart sank as he realized that he'd already gave himself to Jared last night, and he was claimed now, body and soul. Jared's claim burned hot on Jensen's throat, for every werewolf to see, and for any perceptive human. Jared would learn soon enough, if he hadn't already seen, just how much Jensen reacted to Jared. A thrill went down Jensen's spine at the thought.
 
“I'm doomed.” Jensen whimpered.

Part Four

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September 2012

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