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So yes, he hurried after Jared as fast as he could. Of course he'd never tell any of that to the man, because he'd never hear the end of it and Jared had a lot of material to tease him about already, so he really didn’t' need to add more.

The sound of the door closing behind him, made him flinch, but he walked on.

The hallway, wasn't actually a hallway. It was just five long steps of a creaky, wooden-planks-haphazardly-nailed-together platform really, followed straight away by a wide winding staircase. Jared's room had once been the actual attic of the manor, but as the story went, when more people moved in, Jared decided to build another floor. It was for the best really, because now everyone had their own rooms and Jared took the best of ‘em all.

Over the handrail, he could see Jared be on the next floor already and he sighed again. All of his fear of the room didn’t make him fast enough to catch the man and now he had to go to breakfast and pretend that he wasn’t annoyed. Well, that wouldn’t fly, because he was annoyed and he wanted everyone to know it.

Damn it.

He rolled his eyes, hung his head down and sighed again.

And sighing, apparently, was becoming a thing he would do most during this day, if the morning was anything to go by.

He hurried his steps, but still being incredibly careful. The stairs, even wide as they were, were old, wooden and over-used throughout the centuries. The best way to walk down them, was to stick to the side the handrail was on. He could, of course, stick to the other side, keep his hand on the wall, but the wall was cold and didn’t really offer anything to grip if he should slip. And there were paintings on it that he’d have to avoid, and candles, and spider webs, and it was just too much trouble. And probably crazy thick layers of dust, because he wasn’t sure when the last time someone cleaned that side of the staircase was. If he’d been a better man, he’d do it himself.

So he stick to the handrail; it was thick, wide and made of dark wood that became even darker with age so that it was now almost black. There were some very visible paths that worms made in it, but he ignored them. Between him breaking his neck or getting a feel of a wood worm, he knew what he’d chose.

The middle of every stair was dented, from all the feet that had walked on them through the centuries. And if one wasn't careful, one could step on the side of those holes, trip and fall down breaking their necks.

But the stairs were safe on the sides, the wood still strong there, but he figured that in a few decades the wood would dent there too and then they’d have to consider renovating the whole staircase.

He carefully glided his hand down the handrail, because even if it had been polished by many, many hands in the past, there were still parts of it, that had splinters sticking out, or the wood was dented also. The manor, old as it was, had its tricks and he thought that he had discovered them all, but the house always knew how to surprise him. Just like Jared.

In the early days, when he'd laid in his bed in the silent stillness of the night, he could've sworn he could feel the house breathe. It took him a few decades to notice that the house breathed in synch with Jared. He was used to it now, it didn't terrify him anymore, not like it did back then. He had many sleepless nights back then, a lot of fear and anxiety. But now, it was comforting. Now, it felt as if he fell asleep with his head on Jared’s chest. Even if he was three stories away from the man, that feel of breathing rocked him right into deep sleep.

Jared was a fast mouse and he was far behind, the stairs with their damn secrets not allowing him to up his pace. Through the space between the banisters, he could see Jared already down on the first floor, nearing the front door.

"Damn it."

His chance to speak to Jared alone was clearly completely shot for today but he'd have to work harder on it tomorrow.

He watched as Jared took a left, going to the breakfast hall and he could already hear the others wishing Jared good mornings and how you do's. He wanted to sigh, but restrained himself, because if no one can hear your irk, then what’s the point. But he sped up his pace, cringing when the stairs made noises as if he was choking them with his feet.

As the staircase righted itself into more of a straight line and he could already see the front door, he knew he was already off the hook of any falls and slips. But that wasn't to say that the stairs weren't dangerous anymore, they still held secrets and hidden traps, but at least if he fell here, he wouldn't fall far. Only about ten or so stairs.

He kept his hand on the handrail, refusing to let go and when he got halfway down his hand touched something soft and warm on a part of the handrail that straightened itself up for just one step.

Once upon a time, he'd scream in dizzy terror, but now, he stopped and petted the darn thing.

"Hey, Lucius."

The black cat meowed and butted its head against his palm, demanding some more petting. The cat was an impeccable hunter, leaving bloody trials of small game it hunted all over the place, but from Jensen it never wanted anything else, but a cuddle here and there. Even when its fur was matted with drying blood, it would still jump on his bed and demand cuddling. He'd slept on bloodied sheets more times in his life that he ever wanted to.

The cat purred and twisted its head this way and that, offering him its whiskers.

"Aww, Lucius, you don't have to mark me."

In hindsight, perhaps that was the wrong thing to say, because the side of his palm would carry that scratch for a long time.

"Seriously?!"

It looked him right in the eyes, big green ones shining like emeralds dipped into tar, and meowed, while getting up, raising up its tail, turning around and showing him its butt. And then sitting down, turning its back on him.

Ignored.

That was the end of that conversation, then. He was pretty sure he wouldn't be seeing the cat for a week and some change and then one day he'd get into his room and have bloody paw prints all over the sheets. And the pillow. And the cat would be sleeping stretched out across his whole bed, giving no shits about anything.

Joy.

But he refused to sigh. He didn't want to give it any satisfaction.

"Have it your way, but if I'll find bloody paw prints on my bed, you're gonna get yourself a wash."

The tip of its tail curved upwards as one big, fat, furry, fuck you.

He wanted to say something more, but was distracted by two things; one was Jared's deep, echoing laugh coming from the breakfast hall and as he looked there, he could see Jared sitting down and nodding while putting butter on toast. And the second thing was, the front door opening.

The staircase ended into a foyer that ended up with huge doors made of thick, almost unbreakable glass. The sunlight or moonlight or darkness could always penetrate the glass, but nothing else could. He liked that the foyer was in bright, creamy colors. He didn’t know who made it be like that, he doubted it was Jared or anyone else living in the house – none of them seemed like ‘bright, creamy’ colors to him. But there it was; bright and nice with a huge window serving as a wall on the right side. The glass of the window, had been painted once upon a time, the picture still visible in parts, but very hard to decipher what it depicted. Sometimes he just stood there in the middle of the foyer, staring at the window, trying to see what it could be, but all he got was trees and perhaps a horse. Could have also been a dog? And maybe mountains. Maybe someday, he’d get a professional to have a look at it.

But not today.

He slowly took the rest of the stairs down, stopped and waited to see what the newcomer would say once she'd close the door.

They were heavy, he knew that, even he had trouble closing them occasionally, and for such a petite woman that was struggling with them, it must've really been hard.

She was grunting and pushing at the door and perhaps he should’ve gone over there and help, but he was already feeling pissy. The morning hadn't exactly gone the way he planned and judging by this women coming, the rest of his day would probably not go well either.

He should just go crawl back to bed.


The door closing with a clung that nearly shook the house apart made him concentrate back on the matter at hand. He crossed his arms on his chest and widened his stance, because yes, he was pissy and he wanted the world to know.

"Who're you?"

The woman startled and all but jumped to turn around, clutching at her chest.

"You scared me."

"Wasn’t my intention, but you didn't exactly ring the bell either so ..."

He watched as she collected herself; adjusted the grip on her purse, pushed her breasts out and pulled her stomach in. A Lady, then.

All right. But still, that didn’t give her permission to just barge in here like that without announcing herself.

"'m here to see Jared."

He nodded. Sure, why not. A lot of people wanted to see Jared, it wasn't anything unusual, although usually, they did come around with a lot more fear and a hell of a lot more respect.

But whatever Jared and this woman had of business between them, that was no concern of his.

"I'll go get him."

"Thank you."

He nodded and uncrossed his arms but just as he was about to turn to his left to go fetch Jared, a deep voice interrupted him.

"Who's she?"

It was Rolland, the butler slowly making his way from the breakfast hall to the foyer.

The man must've been a hundred or more years old, the way he walked like all of his bones would break if he'd walk faster than the speed of a snail. His skin was wrinkly and sagged, his hands were sometimes shaking with tremors that came and went, his head was bald, except for a lock of gray hair right in the middle and his left eye was completely gray, cataract setting in and staying. His nose was fat and covered with black spots, and his cheeks bore the scars of a pimply youth.

"Dunno Rolland, but she wants to see Jared."

He had no time for this anymore. This, taking guests, was Rolland’s job not his and he was hungry and just so done with this day already and when he turned to go and find some food, he heard the woman say: "I'm the great granddaughter of ..."

And the rest got lost in the distance. He didn't care whose what she was, all he had eyes on was butter, toast, coffee. Oh sweet coffee, he could smell it already. Could smell it already even when he’d still been in Jared's room.

Because of how spacious the manor was, how much room there was everywhere, smell could travel into every nook and cranny of the house and stay there for days. Sometimes he could still smell Monday’s lunch on a Friday.

The breakfast hall, well, it wasn't an actual ‘breakfast’ hall, it was more like a big ballroom with a table in it, that at meal times quivered under the weight of all the food.

But otherwise it was used more or less just in passing, when one needed to go from one side of the manor to the other.

As he made his way to the table that stood in the center of the room, he could see everyone – minus three - drinking their coffee standing by a fountain, chatting among themselves, not even noticing he came into the room. Which was just fine by him.

It was bright, the sunlight coming in from the windows all around the walls and as he sat down opposite Jared, he opened his mouth to say something, but once again got interrupted. This really wasn't his morning.

"Jared, sir, there's a woman here to see you."

He wanted to snicker at how every muscle in Jared's body relaxed under extreme irritation. Jared was an inch before banging his head on the table, but all he did was exhale really loudly and got up from his chair. He and Rolland walked a few feet away to stand next to the fountain of a naked lady carrying a vase spilling water. Jensen never liked that fountain, because a) why was it even there and b) the sound of the water always made him want to pee like a racehorse.


The toast looked well done and the butter was already melting from the warmth of the room, but as he grabbed for the toast he could hear Jared say: "Everyone, I want you to meet someone. This is ... wait, what's your name?" and as he grabbed for a knife, he could hear Jared say: "This is miss I didn't give you one. She says she's the great granddaughter of …" the sentence got cut off when he dropped his knife on the plate. Clumsy him. But as he began spreading the salty butter on the warm toast he could hear everyone ooo and uuu and aaa about the woman. And as he was finally taking a long overdue bite, he heard Jared sit back down on the chair with a sigh. He knew how that felt, yeah.

He chewed on the delicious toast, keeping his eyes on Jared.

Once he swallowed, he asked: "So, who's she?"

"It's miss I didn’t give you one. Apparently she's somehow related to me."

The serious way Jared said that, made him laugh which made him cough, nearly choking on the damn stray piece of toast: "You know that's not really her name, right?"

Jared had a twinkle in his eye that never spelled anything good. Well, good for other people that was. But for him it always spelled gonnafuckyousomuchcomeisgonnadripoutofyourassfordays.

He coughed some more and put his free hand under the table, needing to adjust something in his groin.

"I know, 'm not stupid."

"Definitely not."

No, Jared wasn't stupid. And if anyone would even imply such a thing, Jensen would break their necks between one breath and the next.

He smiled as he saw over Jared's shoulder, everyone greeting the woman. Annabel, was woooow-ing over the woman’s hairdo; a neatly styled bun at the top of her head. Annabel was touching it, as if she had never seen such a thing. Astor was checking out the woman’s breasts that spilled nicely into her dress and that the corset held high up, really giving them all quite a look and yes, Jensen noticed. The miss I didn’t give you one’s hourglass figure totally enchanted Corrine, even though, Jensen had seen Corrine completely naked once and her figure was definitely better than the woman’s. She was touching the woman’s waist, trying to measure it, if Jensen was to guess and then she moved her hands up to the woman’s breasts, trying to see how she managed to hold them up so perfectly.

Shaking his head, he took another toast from a pile that was rapidly disappearing somewhere – Jared’s mouth – and nearly poked himself in the eye with the knife when Corrine left out a high pitch squeal that echoed through the whole manor and made Lucius hiss.
Jared snorted and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand, when some coffee ran out of his mouth at the snort.

“Girls.” He whispered, as if it was a secret just for the two of them.

Jensen just nodded, because yeah, girls.

PART 3

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soncnica

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