Pairing: J2 or Jared/Dean depending on how you look at it
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Christian Kane, Alaina Huffman, Aldis Hodge, Ty Olsson, Traci Dinwiddie, (minor roles: Eric Kripke, Beth Riesgraf, and Chad Michael Murray)
Genre: H/C, RPS, AU(set in the Dollhouse universe)
Disclaimer: None of these people belong to me; they all belong to themselves. None of this is true in any way, shape or form. I made it all up.
Warnings: Show level violence
Word Count: 5,000 this part (46,000 in total)
Summary: Jared's life is turned upside down the night he meets an intriguing young man who seems to have multiple personality disorder. Is he Dean - dangerous, charming and troubled? Or Jensen - naive and almost child-like? This chance encounter leads to a job offer with a mysterious organization called the Dollhouse.
A/N: Thank you to my best friend, alpha reader, and biggest cheerleader, . She always has my back! All the beautiful artwork for this story was made by her. Thank you sweetie! My beta reader, , did an absolutely fantastic job! This story is made better by her wonderful insights. Their enthusiasm has given me the confidence to post a story again after a one year long dry stretch. This story is completly written and betaed. My plan is to post one chapter per week. Comments are very much appreciated. In fact, they are the whole reason I write and post stories instead of keeping them in my head. :)
By the time they get on the road, it's fully dark outside. Clif is driving again and, since Jared doesn't want the burly, bald man overhearing their conversation, he can't ask Christian what he'd meant back at the facility, although he hopes it means he has an ally. He's going to need all the help he can get.
Instead, they talk about the upcoming engagement.
Christian speaks while staring out the passenger side window, his voice uncharacteristically void of emotion. "We won't have much to do once we drop Jensen off at the designated location. There's a phrase you'll say to activate the imprint. As soon as you say it, you'll want to hightail it out of there and let the programming take over. The show runner, Eric Kripke, tells Aldis what Dean should know for each shoot, what memories he should have, and then it's up to Dean what he does with that information. He has free will up to a point. That's what gives the show its edge."
"But if I'm not there, won't Dean be confused?" Jared frowns. "The last thing he'll remember is giving me the low down on harpies."
Sighing, Christian shakes his head. "Naw man, Kripke made Aldis delete that entire encounter from Dean's memory. It didn't fit into the overall story arc. From what I can gather, they want Dean to hit rock bottom. They've got him dealing with what happened in hell and, meanwhile, the only family he has left, his brother Adam, is pulling away from him, so he feels abandoned and betrayed at a time when he most needs some support." He leans his forehead against the window. "As much as Dean may crave a friend right now, they aren't going to let him have one."
Jared looks at Jensen, sitting passively beside him on the van's back bench seat, and his stomach lurches unpleasantly. It's difficult to tell from his bland expression whether the young man has heard any of the conversation. And Jensen does look young, too young for all this crap to be piled on him. Too young to have sold himself into slavery almost four years ago. How bad must things have been, for him to think this was the better option?
They arrive at a back stage lot filled with trailers and specialized equipment. Large, industrial lights on eight-foot high poles cast pools of light in the otherwise gloomy darkness. People scurry in every direction. Someone with a clipboard watches them drive by and starts speaking rapidly into his headset. Someone else, it's hard to tell if it's a man or a woman because of the grey body paint, strides past the van, carrying what looks like an armful of feathers.
Christian points at the grey person. "That's one of the actors who plays a harpy,"
As soon as they park, a plump, middle-aged woman in a flowery dress comes hurrying over. "Jensen honey, thank goodness you're here. They need you in wardrobe right away."
She takes Jensen's arm and Clif goes with them. Christian makes an abortive gesture when Jared starts after them.
"Everyone here on set knows Clif as Jensen's bodyguard. It causes less of a stir among the crew if he's the only one following Jensen around."
Jared doesn't like watching Jensen get herded away from him. It makes his breath catch in his throat. To take his mind off the constriction in his chest, he asks, "How many of these people know what Jensen is?"
"Only a few - Kripke, of course, and the principal actors, the ones whose characters interact the most with Dean - Jake Abel, who plays his brother, and Jim Beaver, who plays a fellow hunter and friend of the family, kind of a surrogate father figure." Shoulders tensed and legs braced apart, Christian scans the lot, as though his mind isn't really on the conversation. "Oh, and then there's that new guy, Misha Collins. He plays the part of the angel who rescued Dean from hell. Those three have the most challenging roles because they have to improvise, play off whatever Dean says and does. He's unscripted, so they have to go with the flow, be spontaneous, that sort of thing."
Jared notices Christian's hyper-vigilant behavior and feels himself react, hands clenching at his sides. "What does everyone else think, the rest of the cast and crew?"
"I'm not really sure. I guess they think he's pretty strange. Very method, you know, never breaks character." Christian smirks. "The writers give the other actors a couple different scripts and they're told to go with whichever one feels right based on what Jensen says and does. They're told that Jensen is the lead and he knows his character. No one is allowed to question his choices."
"Are any of the other actors...?"
"What? Dolls?" Christian gives an amused snort, glancing at Jared quickly before returning to his study of the lot and everything in it. "Nah, can you imagine what it would be like, having a bunch of Actives running around doing their own thing? It'd be chaos. No, Dean is enough of a wild card."
The wait seems endless, but really, it only lasts about half an hour. Jared notices Christian's body posture relax right before he sees Clif push through a milling group of people with Jensen in tow.
Gone are Jensen's loose-fitting tee and track pants. In their place are a pair of well-worn jeans, several layers of shirts, and the scuffed, leather jacket. Dean's clothes. But the way he holds himself, the way he walks - small uncertain steps, head tilted down, not making eye contact - that's all Jensen. Or at least, it's Jensen in his doll state. Jensen's real personality could be the exact opposite for all Jared knows.
A man comes out of nowhere, barreling through the crowd and slamming into Jensen from behind. "Sorry, dude, didn't see you there," he says, ready to race off again, when he does a double take. "Oh hey, Jensen. You have your big fight scene with the harpies tonight, right? It's gonna be epic, man! Can't wait to see you waste'em." He's got his hands all over Jensen, straightening his rumpled jacket, patting him on the back, pumping his hand, and something both possessive and protective rears up inside Jared.
He closes the intervening distance in three huge steps, muscling his way in between Jensen and his admirer before Clif even has a chance to react. Without a glance for the other guy, Jared says, "Come on, Jensen. Time to get going."
Jensen says nothing, hasn't said anything since receiving the download of Dean's personality. But he slips his hand into Jared's as Jared leads him back to the car. Clif and Christian are giving Jared strange, assessing looks, but he doesn't care. He's not ready to analyze his feelings for Jensen or his caveman reaction to another guy manhandling him.
Clif drives them to the entrance of the same alley as yesterday, then Christian whispers the activation phrase in Jared's ear, instructing him to take Jensen back where they'd first met, say the phrase, and get back to the van, pronto. He tells him not to stay with Jensen, no matter what he hears or sees, no matter what Jensen does. Then he hands him an ear bud and claps him on the back.
It feels weird being back in that fateful alley with Jensen, like if he clicks his heels together three times he'll find himself back in Kansas with Toto, the past twenty-four hours nothing but a fever dream. He stands facing Jensen, griping his biceps so he can look him directly in the eye, as per Christian's instructions. "On a road trip with my brother." He says the imprint activation phrase in a loud, clear voice.
Jensen's eyes slam closed, face a rictus of pain. He puts his hands to his head and doubles over, groaning.
"Jensen? Hey, what's wrong?" Jared lays a hand on the nape of Jensen's neck, rubbing at the tight coil of muscle there.
"Leave, Jared! Now! Get the hell out of there!" Christian's urgent voice comes through the ear bud. "If he sees you, it's gonna ruin the shoot. You don't wanna be responsible for putting him through an extra wipe, do you?"
Jared hesitates just long enough to hear Jensen gasp in a deep breath and see him begin to straighten up before he turns and sprints around the corner of the alley, headed back to the van. No way does he want Jensen going through another wipe solely because he was too damn slow.
Clif has a cigarette dangling from the tips of his fingers, beefy arm resting on the van's hood, when Jared gets back. He gives a curt nod, which is probably his idea of a warm greeting. The end of his cigarette glows orange in the weak light from the near-by sodium streetlight.
Christian is inside the van, sitting on one of the stools, facing the surveillance equipment. One hand cups the ear bud in his ear, while the other taps a button on the closest monitor. "Come here," he says, nodding at the other stool.
With each tap, the grainy picture on the monitor changes, flashing through one narrow view of the alley after another. One scene shows a close up of the quill in the wall. "Each of these is a different camera angle. This one is from the camera on Dean's jacket. It's so small, he doesn't even know it's there," Christian explains. "There are cameras set up everywhere because they aren't sure where Dean will decide to go, although they have ways...well, you'll see in a minute."
The next scene shows Dean in profile, examining the quill. He has his flashlight out and looks exactly as Jared remembers finding him last night, intent on his task, alert, expectant. He exudes self-confidence.
A thundering boom goes off in Jared's ear. Startled, he jumps at the same time as Dean pivots to face the direction where the alley degenerates into a warren of intersecting passageways. That's how he figures out the feed from his ear bud picks up not only Christian, but Dean as well. He can hear what Dean hears and, now that he's listening for it, he can hear Dean's softly muttered, "Sonofabitch."
"His heart rate is picking up, but it's well within normal range for him. Nothing to worry about," Christian says, pointing at a different screen.
"You monitor his heart rate?"
"We monitor everything." Christian gives him an intent look, gaze piercing, as though he wants to make sure Jared is paying attention. "There's an electrode embedded under the skin behind his ear. It's a GPS tracking device, as well as a monitoring system. We receive transmissions on everything from his heart rate, to his nervous system, to the chemical balance in his bloodstream. The transmissions are sent to Aldis's lab too. He's better at deciphering them than I am."
Jared nods and puts deactivating the device on his mental list of things that will need his attention before he can rescue Jensen from the Dollhouse. The list keeps getting longer and longer, but Jared is good at prioritizing and keeping his cool under pressure. This is just one more thing. He can't let himself get distracted or overwhelmed.
On screen, Dean pulls a short, serrated knife from a sheath at his ankle. Angling his body so that the wall is at his back, he crouches to present as small a target as possible and takes off into the labyrinth.
Christian flips through camera angles and stops on a new scene, right as Dean enters an open courtyard lit only by a garland of decorative lights draped over the railing of a balcony.
"They used that noise to make him move in the direction they wanted him to go," Jared says, more a statement than a question.
Christian answers anyway. "Yeah, he didn't have to go running toward the noise, but it was a good bet he would."
Jared watches as Dean advances warily. From out of the deep shadows, five shapes disengage from the walls, grey skin giving them the appearance of stone gargoyles, feathered wings held close to their backs, and hands that end in curved talons. These must be the harpies.
Dean brandishes his knife, lets a condescending smirk play around his lips. "Five of you against one of me? Doesn't seem fair really. Are you sure there aren't a few more of your buddies you can call on for help? No?" he shrugs. "Okie dokie then."
Dean's use of that phrase makes Jared frown, his doubts about the effectiveness of the wiping process growing.
All five harpies cock their heads, bird-like. The one in front of Dean moves forward, pulling his attention, while another moves in from behind. So it's going to be a coordinated attack then. Jared wants to call out a warning even though he knows Dean can't hear him.
Turns out, Dean doesn't need his warning. He feints forward, ducking a slash of claws, while simultaneously sweeping the legs out from under the harpy behind him.
Two others close in from the sides and the one on the ground leaps up. Dean turns a circle in place, knife held in a firm grip, outstretched, gaze sharp, daring them to make the next move. One does, jabbing at Dean's face with a clawed hand. Dean latches onto its arm, yanks it forward, and buries his knife in its chest.
"Prop knife," Christian murmurs. "A really fucking realistic prop knife...but still."
Jared watches, mesmerized, as ichor, such a dark purple that it nearly looks black, wells from the wound and the harpy crumples into a pile of feathers on the ground. It's amazing how real everything looks, how authentic. The grainy images and the strange camera angles give the scene an eerie, surreal feel. If he didn't know otherwise, he would totally believe the harpies were supernatural creatures, not stuntmen in elaborate costumes.
The harpy that has yet to engage Dean, the leader perhaps, lets out a guttural, squawking sound. It flaps its wings and a quill darts from somewhere within the plumage and lodges in the vulnerable flesh at the base of Dean's throat.
Dean doesn't even flinch. He reaches up, grasps the quill in his fist, pulls it out, and throws it on the ground. "You think that's going to stop me? All you've done is piss me off." His voice is a menacing snarl, promising a world of hurt.
In direct counterpoint to Dean's assertion, an alarm goes off in the van.
"Fuck!" Christian jumps off his stool. He begins madly mashing buttons on the monitor that displays Dean's heart rate. Erratic spikes interspersed with brief periods of flatline spool across the screen. "Assholes! They've dosed him with something."
"You mean there was actually something in that quill?" Jared's attention snaps back to Dean in time to see him stagger.
Instead of answering, Christian flips a switch and begins talking into a com unit. "Aldis, are you getting this? Can you tell what it is?"
Static bursts from the com and then Aldis's voice says, "Yeah, I'm getting it. Goddamn, what's going on over there?"
"Looks like Kripke wanted some extra realism. Just call me back when you know what drug they used."
Dean scrapes a hand across his eyes, but when a harpy tries taking advantage of his disorientation by wrapping an arm around his neck to cut off his air supply, Dean rears back and slams his skull into its grey face. More indigo gore splatters in an arc as the creature cups its nose and howls. As soon as he's free, Dean whirls and lets fly with a right hook that snaps the harpy's head back. Lifeless, it collapses.
"Jesus," Jared says on a shaky exhale.
"Yeah, when Dean is desperately fighting for his life, he's one scary son of a bitch, and I've seen some scary shit in my time." Christian's jaw muscle ticks.
Dean staggers again. The heart monitor wails.
Panic builds in Jared's chest, his own heart beating so hard his ribs ache. "Shouldn't we get him out of there?"
"Not yet. Those stuntmen are trained to make it look like they're giving and receiving much more damage than they truly are. They won't hurt him too badly. At least they better not." Christian's scowl hardens. "Besides, we need information from Aldis on what drug they used, so we know what we're dealing with before we do anything."
The choppy image on the monitor shows Dean shaking his head and blinking, as though there's something wrong with his vision. He sways and the three remaining harpies converge.
Making a play for his knife, he dives toward the prone harpy, but another one lands on his back and he falls short of his goal. He stretches a hand toward the knife, reaching, reaching. It's no use. He can't quite get his hand on it.
Jared sucks in a breath. This is painful to watch. And yet he can't look away.
Giving up on the knife, Dean gathers himself, locks his legs around the harpy on his back, and flips over, so that he's straddling the creature. He lands several vicious punches to its midsection while, keening, it tries to gouge his eyes out with its talons. One final upper cut to its jaw and the harpy goes limp.
Dean is panting harshly, chin resting on his chest, when the last two harpies each seize one of his arms and pull him to his feet. Arms immobilized, Dean uses the only weapon left at his disposal. He jumps high and plants the heel of his boot in one harpy's stomach. It screeches and drops his arm. Then he clutches twin fistfuls of the other harpy's wing and, with a supreme effort, hurls one monster into the other. They both crash into a wall and go down amid a squall of feathers.
Relief washes over him and Jared rolls his shoulders to release the tension. It's over. Thank God, it's over.
The com unit buzzes and Christian impatiently snaps, "Did you find out what it is?"
"Yeah," Aldis's voice comes over the speaker. "It's a derivative of belladonna and mandrake, both powerful hallucinogens from the deliriants class. You better get him back here, Kane, his adrenaline levels are off the chart."
"We're getting him now." Christian cuts off the com and jumps out of the van. "Come on," he yells at Jared before turning to Clif. "Be ready to haul ass as soon as we bring him back here." He doesn't wait for Clif's nod, he's already in the alley by the time Jared gets his legs untangled from the stool to follow.
They pelt along the narrow passage, Jared's long legs quickly catching up and keeping pace with Christian's shorter ones, although Christian seems to know where the courtyard is located within the maze, so Jared lets him lead.
Coming from the opposite direction, they pass five bedraggled harpies. Several are limping, several are hunched over, an arm held protectively over their stomachs, and one is cradling his nose.
"Fuck, I think he actually broke my nobe," that one says. The others mutter disgruntled agreement.
Jared doesn't feel even a little bit sorry for them.
The courtyard opens up ahead in the gloom. Dean stands off to the side, eyes wide and darting, hands held in front of himself as though warding off an army. His lips are moving, but Jared can't hear what he's saying.
Another man, scrawny and balding, enters the courtyard from a different offshoot. He has a huge grin on his face. "That was fantastic!" he crows. "The fans are gonna eat it up and scream for more!"
"Go help Dean, but don't use the remote wipe phrase yet," Christian says. "I'll take care of Kripke." From the tone of his voice, Jared really wouldn't want to be Kripke right now.
He jogs over to Dean who looks as though a light breeze could topple him, as though he's only upright through sheer pigheadedness and stubborn determination. "Hey, hey Dean, it's okay, it's over, you got'em," he says, trying for a calm he doesn't feel.
A thin trickle of blood traces a sluggish path from the puncture wound in Dean's throat down under the collars of his multiple shirts. His gaze flickers randomly, left, right, back and forth, constantly tracking invisible targets. He never so much as glances at Jared.
Christian's voice carries across the intervening space, angrier that Jared has yet heard him, which is really saying something. "You fucking irresponsible...do you have any idea, any idea at all, what you've done? Your contract with the Dollhouse specifically prohibits using drugs on the Actives for a reason!"
Kripke laughs, apparently unaware of the unstable ground he's standing on. "I know what the contract says, Mr. Kane, but this was a special case. We had to do it, the script called for it, and did you see it? It was spectacular! You want us to pay for damages to your active? We'll pay, no problem. That - the intensity of that scene, the depth - that's worth an extra fee."
Disgusted, Jared stops listening, instead focusing his attention on Dean and the disjointed muttering which is steadily getting louder.
"No, I got out. I'm not here any more, I got out." Dean sounds far from certain, his voice cutting in and out, vacillating as though he's trying desperately to convince himself and having little success. "This isn't real, it can't be. It can't."
Jared can only imagine what horrors Dean sees. It's soul wrenching.
Having dealt with his share of junkies during his time on the force, Jared knows touching Dean when he's this far gone is likely to do more harm than good. Although Jensen trusts him - is programmed to trust him, anyway - Dean's memory of Jared has been wiped. He has no reason to trust anything Jared says. Still, he has to try.
Slowly, he extends one hand. "Dean, you're safe. Everything's all right. Calm down and let me help you, okay?"
At the sensation of a hand on his shoulder, Dean jerks backwards, arms swinging defensively, uncoordinated arcs knocking Jared's hand away. He continues backing up until a wall stops his progress. A strangled moan makes it past barred teeth in response to being trapped. He bows his head; Jared dares to hope it means either Dean has given up the fight, or the drugs have disabled him to the point where he'll be more manageable, more easily constrained.
No such luck.
With a defiant shout of, "NO!" Dean slams his own head into the concrete wall.
Jared winces at the sickening crack, but Dean's not done.
"No!" he repeats, again leaning forward for maximum destructive effect before bashing his head backwards.
On Dean's third attempt at caving in his own skull, Jared finally reacts. He wraps his arms around Dean's shoulders, cushioning his battered head against his chest.
Dean screams. He screams as though someone has buried a rusty pickaxe in his stomach, reached in through the dripping viscera and guts, grabbed his spine, and is pulling it through the gaping hole, vertebra by vertebra. He screams as though a hundred demons surround him, all cackling and grinning, pointy teeth gleaming, as they wait their turn.
Dean's terror is so palpable Jared can almost see them too. His blood turns to ice in his veins.
Dean struggles and bucks wildly.
Police training kicks in, years spent on the beat serve him well, as Jared utilizes his long arms to tug Dean's jacket over his head, twisting it in front of him in a way that effectively entraps his flailing arms. Then Jared simply hangs on and waits Dean out.
Dean thrashes and kicks and twists within his grasp. His chest heaves, pulse jackrabbiting under Jared's palm, where it presses against the young man's neck to prevent more head bashing. Eventually, Dean's strength wanes and the fight leaches out of him. His screams degenerate into hoarse wheezing.
"There you go. Relax. That's it. You're doing good," Jared murmurs. "Just relax and breathe."
A darker shadow looms over them out of the darkness and Jared looks up to find Christian standing near-by. It's only when he has to tilt way back to see Christian's face that he realizes he's on the ground, Dean practically cradled in his lap. At some point in their struggles, they must have slid down the wall.
"Everything under control?" Christian asks, brow furrowed in worry.
Jared huffs a sardonic snort through his nose. "As much as this fucked up situation can be under control, yeah."
Christian's mouth hardens, forming a thin line. "We need to get him back to the facility. Now. Aldis will have to assess the damage. Traci may be able to help."
Jared nods, looking down at Dean. Eyes bloodshot and staring at unimaginable horrors that only he can see, body wracked by involuntary tremors as the excess adrenaline leaves his bloodstream, he's in no shape to walk out of there, even supported by both himself and Christian. It's time to put all those long hours of weight lifting and working out at the gym to the test. Using the wall as a brace, Jared maneuvers until he has good leverage and Dean is well supported, then he pushes up.
"You need help?" Christian asks, one hand already on Jared's elbow.
Dean is a grown man and he's heavy, especially since he's mostly dead weight, but Jared manages to shuffle him a little higher against his chest, grunting with the effort. "No, I got'im."
The courtyard is empty, Kripke having left them to clean up his mess, which is just as well. It's the kind of neighborhood where no one comes running when someone screams bloody murder and that thought only fuels the anger simmering in Jared's belly.
Clif is in the driver's seat, motor running. His hands, clenched white-knuckle tense around the steering wheel, put the lie to his unaffected profile. The van's sliding door is open. Dean appears catatonic as Jared maneuvers him inside, but once Jared lets go, he snaps out of his malaise, thrashing and spitting curses at the demons that are tying him down.
Christian quickly gives up on buckling Dean's seatbelt. "Fuck! We don't have time for this," he growls, throwing a glare at Jared. "Just hold on to him and let's get out of here."
Jared doesn't argue. He gets in, pulls Dean, squirming, into a bear hug, and settles in for the ride. The jacket still twisted around Dean's arms helps keep him somewhat contained and it doesn't hurt that his previous efforts at freeing himself have left him mostly spent.
About halfway back to the Dollhouse, Dean's hallucinations undergo a shift. He stops yelling insults and taunts and begins arguing, not with the demons, but with someone named Adam. "Adam, come on man, why are you doing this, huh? You know she's a demon. I'm your brother. This should be a no-brainer, dude."
This last is said in a whisper and Jared remembers Christian mentioning a brother who was pulling away. Now he wonders just how bad Dean's relationship with his brother has gotten. Picking a demon over your brother sounds pretty damn bad.
"Please Adam, take me with you at least. Don't leave me here." A bead of sweat rolls down Dean's forehead and into his eye. He blinks and makes a frustrated noise, bringing both arms up and swiping the jacket across his face.
Jared gives in to his impulse and cards his fingers through Dean's sweat-damp hair. "Shhh, it's okay. This will all be over soon."
Dean stills. His breath hitches. "Jared, don't leave me here, okay? Don't leave me here."
Christian swivels around in his seat so fast it's a miracle he doesn't give himself whiplash. "Did you say the remote wipe phrase? Did you?"
Jared is too shaken to answer right away. He places a hand against Dean's cheek and Dean leans into the touch. "I...no. I didn't say it," he manages.
Christian studies him for a moment, eyebrows knotted, then faces forward and punches the dashboard. Clif's eyes briefly meet Jared's in the rearview mirror. The engine revs and the van picks up even more speed.
After that, Dean is mostly quiet, although his eyes continue to dart restlessly and his breathing is erratic. Jared keeps telling him that everything is going to be all right.
Traci and Aldis meet them at the entrance to the Dollhouse. Alaina Huffman is conspicuous in her absence.
"He hasn't been wiped yet, has he?" Aldis asks as they rush through the doors, Dean held close against Jared's chest.
"No," both Jared and Christian answer.
"Good, that's good. I don't know if there's anything I could do to fix that kind of trauma. Dean is better equipped to handle hallucinations than a doll would be."
"Take him to the clinic," Traci interjects. "I can check him over, maybe give him something for anxiety to keep him calm until the hallucinogen wears off. I don't want to give him anything so strong that it knocks him out because his system is already on drug overload as it is and anything else will make his symptoms more difficult to monitor."
Jared thinks about the clinic, about the sterile, cold, blindingly white surfaces, about Jensen sitting on the metal examination table, bare feet dangling over the edge, lollipop in his hand. "No, I'm taking him to the staff lounge," he announces. "It's quieter there, no one will disturb him. There's a bed where he'll be comfortable. You can treat him there just as easily as in your clinic."
Traci hesitates. "I won't be able to watch him there. I have other patients I'm keeping in the clinic overnight for observation. Beth broke her ankle on an engagement, some kind of high-wire stunt as an art thief gone wrong, and Chad's last engagement as a search and rescue expert resulted in pneumonia. I'll need to spend most of my time in the clinic, monitoring them."
"That's okay, Jared says. "I'll watch him."
On to Chapter 5