Sunday, May 9th 1204
Jared wakes with a start, his hand already reaching for the dagger under his pillow before he stops himself.
All is quiet, both in his tent and outside.
Yet, I thought I heard something…
He barely has time to finish his thought that there it is again, a sort of choked sob. It’s enough to chase all traces of drowsiness from his mind, for he knows what it means: Jensen is having a nightmare.
They must be getting worse: it’s the first time Jensen wakes him from his slumber and the nightmare doesn’t seem to pass, like it usually does.
What to do, now? The sensible course of action would be to wake Jensen, but…well, that might be a problem. Jensen hasn’t lost an ounce of pride, not in this tent at least: outside, he’s a completely different person, just another boy among the mass of squires, but this is his home now, the place where he can be himself – or as himself as he dares to, anyway.
Jared remembers the carefully blank look that greeted him when he first tried to talk to him about his dreams, the chilly mask of dignity and pride.
It sounds so stupid – a knight afraid of his squire.
But Jensen has always been more than a squire and his dignity is all he has left. Jared understands that.
There is only way to go about it, really. Luckily, Jared doesn’t mind making a fool out of himself.
Closing his eyes, Jared rolls over and kicks out, almost managing to knock over their makeshift table.
The noise is enough to wake Jensen – Jared can tell from the way he stays completely still for a couple of seconds, most likely to make sure he is still asleep.
He keeps his breathing even and deep, until, after a few minutes, Jensen finally falls back asleep – again, he can tell by his breathing.
Instead of following his example now that all is truly well, Jared rolls on his side and just lays there, wide awake.
After sharing close quarters with someone, it’s not unusual to know about their sleeping patterns and what they sound like when they sleep – although Jared only learned most of it from trying to deal with the ghosts that sometimes visit him at night.
Those memories are also the reason why he knows what Jensen sounds like when he comes.
Jared honestly hadn’t meant to pry, but that time, after he had woken up after a nightmare of his own, he had felt no desire to share the fact with, well, anyone.
He would have been perfectly contented to lay and brood until weariness or dawn caught up with him, but Jensen was already tossing and turning with frustration in his bedroll and then…
It shouldn’t have been so difficult – of course it had happened before, between sharing room and bed with his brother Joel and the cramped quarters in the ships and in the encampments, but he could easily ignore it. It had never been like this.
Jared lay motionless in the dark, acutely aware of Jensen’s every movement as he pleasured himself only a few feet away, listening to his quick, short breaths, the rustling of the blanket as he moved and then, finally, a soft, muffled moan followed by a long intake of breath – almost a sigh of relief.
Jensen had fallen asleep almost immediately. Jared had not slept at all.
All the fleeting thoughts he had ruthlessly squashed as soon as they began to form had come back to torment him tenfold, aided by his own treacherous body.
It would have been easy, so easy to cross the distance between them while Jensen was still awake, still lost in pleasure. He just had to stretch his hand… But that felt too much like forcing himself on Jensen.
“Did you sleep well, sir?”
“Very well, Jensen, thank you for to ask,” he replies, his tone carelessly neutral.
Jensen retrieves the empty bowl and sends him a very pointed look before correcting him, “It’s for asking, sir.”
“Thank you for asking, then”
The squire’s green eyes narrow again, but by now it’s just a habit – at least as long as grammar and vocabulary are concerned.
Jared doesn’t take it personally in any case: Jensen is not the type who trusts easily and he can’t really blame him.
One day, maybe…But his conscience doesn’t even allow him to finish that thought. No, it’s better if they remain mostly strangers, lest Jensen should discover his secrets.
It’s easier said than done: Jensen makes him forget himself when they are together, when he can see up close how different he acts when he is in public and when he is here.
Jared shakes his head and reaches for a cup of wine. It’s no use torturing himself like this.
“Today is Sunday,” he says once his squire has finished putting away their bedrolls. “I suppose you want the day off?”
Jensen pretends to be still busy with the bedrolls and settles for a shrug.
“You never asked,” Jared says. “But you have not…gone to Church since you came here.” And you looked a little…wistful last Sunday, he adds in the privacy of his own mind.
The young man raises an eyebrow. “I am your squire now. I thought you would want me to attend your Church. Become a Roman Christian.”
So, Jensen didn't believe that all the prayers Jared made him learn were only to confirm his story. No surprise here: after all, he is a knight – converting the infidels is what they do. Except there’s a limit to how much of a hypocrite Jared can be.
“You can go to any church you want, Jensen.” He replies slowly, careful to get the words right. “It’s not my business what you do out of here.”
Jensen finally looks straight at him, his face open and unguarded. “You…you’d let me?”
Jared nods. “There are so many people here…I don’t think someone will notice you are not at Mass. You can go where you want. ”
Then the impossible happens: Jensen smiles and it’s like the sun coming out of the clouds. Jared finds himself grinning back like the fool he is, but he can’t stop – he made Jensen smile, made him happy and there are no words to describe how this knowledge makes him feel.
“Thank you, sir.” He is still smiling, but ready to leave for the city.
“Be careful,” he says, though he is not worried.
Jensen nods. “No need to worry, sir.”
He hesitates for a moment under Jared’s gaze, then Changes – that’s how Jared thinks about it. He doesn’t usually watch the process that transforms Jensen into Sir Padalecki’s squire, who is a nice boy but a little slow – a whole different person. It’s way too unsettling. He has no idea of Jensen does it, either: he never asked – Jensen probably won’t answer and even if he did, Jared isn’t sure an explanation would help.
With one last nod, Jensen ducks out of their shared tent. His footsteps immediately lost in the sounds of the awakening camp.
Still grinning to himself, Jared finishes his wine, enjoying the last of his free time for the week.
Next Sunday, Baldwin of Flanders and Heinaut will be crowned Emperor of this new Christian empire: the celebrations will have to be grand.
Geoffrey has been talking of nothing but the huge tournament that will follow. With most of the knight preparing to participate, the whole camp will soon look like a beehive and all the squires will be worked to the ground.
At least Jensen can have today, he muses before leaving to join lord von Kripke and the rest of his men.
By some strange twist of fate, Jensen returns to the tent a few minutes after Geoffrey arrives to congratulate him.
Geoffrey has been helping him check his weapons and mail and talking incessantly, but the moment Jensen steps inside, Jared forgets to pay attention.
Surprise briefly crosses the young man's face, then his mask slams back down, like a gate in front of an enemy.
“So here's your squire,” Geoffrey's voice startles him, but Jensen only bows to the visitor. “Bring us some wine, boy.”
Jared nods almost imperceptibly over his friend's shoulder: only then Jensen moves.
“You have nothing to worry about, Jared. Everything looks perfectly well.”
“That's hardly my credit,” Jared replies. “Lord Kripke's armourer knows is craft very well.”
“Well, do many others. Not to mention the other knights and lords.”
“Are you saying I won't win, my friend?” Jared asks jokingly as he sits down at the rickety table.
“Now, Jared, don't forget you'd have to get past me!” Geoffrey laughs. “Don't think I'd be an easy prey merely because I am a few years older than you.”
“In fact, it's your vast experience I fear.”
Jensen choose this exact moment to return with the wine.
“Took you long enough, boy.” Geoffrey grumbles.
“Beg your pardon, my lord,” he replies humbly, filling the guest's tumbler. He is still playing the part of the simple squire, but there's something different this time – something that reminds Jared of the night they met.
Jensen looks like a man who has somebody spying over his shoulder and knows it.
Geoffrey has started talking about their future rivals, but his eyes keep subtly glancing at Jared's squire, following his every move with a deep mistrust Geoffrey can't quite conceal.
It's so strange, watching them like this.
There's clearly no love lost between them, but their animosity seems restrained, somehow.
So, Jensen trusts Geoffrey less than he trusts me, Jared muses behind his tumbler. But he still doesn't trust me enough to tell me what happened between them... He studies them again, circling each other like tomcats. Perhaps nothing has happened, not yet. Hopefully, I will be there to stop it.