Title: Teetering On The Edge Of Goodbye
Characters/Pairing: Jared/Jensen, mention of Chad
Word Count: 4,462
Disclaimer: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki and Chad Michael Murray own themselves, I don't even fit into the equation.
Summary: After months of bickering different meanings of something Chad confessed to Jensen, he's pretty much ready to walk away from Jared.
A/N 1: Written for marishna's Multifandom Picture Prompt Ficathon.
A/N 2: Fabulous beta word done by fanofsuper, but as per the norm I tinkered after so any mistakes are all mine, mine, mine!
A/N 3: The picture under the cut was used as the prompt for the fic.
A/N 4: Norman's Cay Island is a real island off the coast of Florida at the southern end of the Bahamas. It was once owned by Carlos Lehder, a drug lord in the 60's, 70's & early 80's. A company called McDuff's owns a chunk of it now and have cabins to rent and a small bar, or at least according to the 'net they do.
Jensen viciously kicked a pebble off the cement path and watched it arc away into the thick stand of palm trees off to the right of him before sighing in frustration, his ire not lessened in the least.
Not that he had believed focusing any of his anger towards it would do him any better then walking around the exclusive resort had. He was angry, hell way past angry, furious and livid. So far past, in fact, that he was pretty sure there wasn’t a descriptor for what he was feeling.
This was supposed to be a happy time, an escape for him and Jared, the last three-day hooray before the start of Season four. Just a quiet moment in time for his lover and himself to reconnect after months apart shooting separate projects but instead of rolling around on obscenely expensive sheets, or gorging themselves on rich food or even simply sharing a leisurely walk, he was trying to calm down after another blow out with Jared.
“Fucking Murray.” He grumbled as he stomped off the path and across the uneven ground between the palm trees, heading towards the sounds of the ocean and the beach he knew was hidden from view.
They hadn’t even been there an hour when Jared’s cell had rang and surprise, surprise it was Chad on the other end, letting him know that he and Kenzie had decided on an impromptu trip to Norman's Cay Island after hearing Jared go on and on about how great it sounded. And wasn’t it just convenient that their little beach bungalow was just a couple away from his and Jensen’s?
It was definitely convenient for something and it had nothing to do with wanting to spend time with his buddy Jared but everything to do with spending time with Jared.
But Jared, big-hearted, either couldn’t see or refused to see the truth right before his eyes, Jared didn’t get it.
Couldn’t or wouldn’t understand what the problem was that Chad had said that Kenzie had plans on dividing her time between using the spa and tanning on the beach so he would probably be spending most of the weekend with them. Couldn’t or wouldn’t understand why that was such a problem for Jensen, especially since it hadn’t been like Chad had suggested that he would be spending all his time with them, they would still have time to themselves.
Jensen snorted, knowing Chad, it wouldn’t be much time, he wouldn’t even be surprised if the little rat bastard wasn’t pounding on their door at six a.m. the next morning or trying to weasel his way into their dinner plans every night they were there.
Of course Jared had scoffed at the idea, after all Kenzie couldn’t spend all her time at the beach and the spa had to close eventually.
But that wasn’t the point, hadn’t been the point, would never be the point but the root of the whole problem was again something Jared either couldn’t or wouldn’t see. But Jensen could see it. He hadn’t had any other choice than to be the one to get a first hand introduction to the problem not six months earlier by Chad himself.
He silently slipped between the palm trees until he was standing at the edge of the beach and glanced around at the almost empty expanse of golden sand before him feeling shock curl through his belly. He had been gone from his and Jared’s bungalow longer than he had first thought if even the lifeguard was making his way down from his station and calling it a day.
A part of him was ready to turn and go back, he had told, well snarled, to Jared that he wouldn’t be gone long, had only been planning to get a breath or two of fresh air. But that was easier said then done when anger was still seething in his veins and seeing the lifeguard station had only kicked it up a notch.
He dropped to the ground and sat cross-legged on the stiff grass just before the beginning of the beach and glared. Definitely not the best idea to go back just yet, not now when everything was coming back so damn clearly.
The whole thing had started innocently enough, another fundraiser, just weeks after the Red Bull soapbox derby and honestly Jensen had had no intention of being involved in anything other than work but Jared had worked the puppy dog eyes on not only him but Eric as well and suddenly they had the weekend off to volunteer their time and names to help raise money for the Canadian chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation.
Not that Jensen begrudged the time and at least he didn’t have to scrunch himself into a tiny soapbox car and hope like hell he didn’t end up running off the course and into the spectators. The Vancouver chapter had somehow convinced the city to let them fence off the entrances to the Spanish Banks West beach and charge admission to spend the day being catered to by local celebrities.
Admittedly there had been that part of him that howled with panic over the idea but it hadn’t been cheap to get past the fences and there had been enough security that both days had gone smoothly enough. So much so that Jensen conceded that if the Make-A-Wish foundation had plans to do it again the following year, he would sign up once again.
In fact the only flaw with the weekend was when Chad had showed up on their doorstep, unannounced, on the Saturday, while they had been getting ready for their driver.
Jared, of course, had offered their house while they would be gone, promising that as soon as the day was over that they would be home. That had annoyed Jensen; he had had plans for going out for a quiet evening after with just his lover but that he could let go. It was when Chad had somehow managed to get past the gates, sometime in the late afternoon, already well on his way to drunk and had cornered Jensen by the lifeguard station that his patience with Murray had evaporated.
It wasn’t that Chad was tanked, it wasn’t even the idea that he and Jared would be stuck entertaining him, probably having to drag him from club to club and end up with next to no sleep when they had to be back the following day that finished his patience with the other man. It was what Chad had said to him, in a smug, if slightly slurred voice, which had done it for him.
“You trust Jay don’t ya Jensen?”
Jensen watched as Chad leaned against the wooden leg of the lifeguard station and peered up at him through blurry eyes as a warning flag went up in his mind. God alone knew what Chad had planned, but him asking if Jensen trusted Jared could not bode well for anyone.
“Of course I do.”
He nodded, “You trust me?”
He had to clench his hands into fists to stop himself from grabbing Chad by the t-shirt and shaking him until he came clean with what was on his mind. Instead he crossed his arms and tried to keep his voice even. “As long as what you’re planning isn’t going to get Jay killed, arrested, fired or publicly embarrass him then yes I do.”
Chad pushed away from his support, slung an arm around him and leaned into him. “I wouldn’t.”
Jensen stiffened, “What are you planning mayhem?”
“He was my boy in all but one way first Jensen.” He hissed in his ear before he broke the contact between them by stepping back out of range. “I intend to change that.”
He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, it couldn’t be possible that Chad wanted Jared, at least not as in wanted, wanted because there had never been any indication, not in the four years that Jensen had been around at least.
His voice sounded odd, even to his own ears, a combination of warning and confusion mixing together bringing a smug smile to Chad’s face.
“You’ve only been with him for half a year. Think that will be enough to keep him with you when he can have me instead?”
Jensen started walking towards him, not caring that they were surrounded by people, not caring that he was about to make a scene, not caring that he was probably going to out himself and Jared, both, the only thought in his head was to wipe the smirk off Chad’s face, with his fists.
“Excuse me Mr. Ackles.”
He turned to find a scantily clad young woman shifting nervously from foot to foot, an autograph book clutched tightly in one hand. “Could I get your autograph?”
He glanced over his shoulder at Chad, who tipped a wave at him, “Later Jen.”
Figured the little bastard would wait to pull something like this until he was certain that Jared wouldn’t overhear and that he could make his escape before Jensen could have his say.
Jensen blinked the memory away and stared across the beach at the lifeguard station, empty now that it was early evening.
He could remember plotting, planning, intending to confront Chad the minute he and Jared got home that night, in front of his boyfriend, make sure that he understood exactly what his friend had said, meant. But Chad hadn’t been at the house, nor had his overnight bag, the fact was, he hadn’t even been in the city any longer. After dropping his little bombshell, he had turned tail and escaped, unscathed, to a safer distance to wait and see what Jensen would do with the information.
Jensen hoped that Chad hadn’t been expecting him to come clean with Jared, to tell him exactly what had been said. But thinking back on his boyfriend’s reaction, maybe he had been. After his impromptu confession, he wouldn’t put it past the little rat bastard to hope that it would cause a wedge between him and Jared and fuck if it wasn’t.
Not that Jared didn’t believe that Chad had said it, more that he didn’t believe that Chad had meant it as anything other than a way to yank Jensen’s chain. He had laughed it off, explaining that he had never shown, never felt, any interest in Chad as anything other than a friend and vice versa believing that his friend was simply having a go at Jensen.
And maybe Jensen could have believed that, if Chad had spilled his guts over the phone when he couldn’t see him, couldn’t see the conviction in the other man’s eyes, the malice, the challenge, the truth shinning through.
But trying to convince Jared of that was like hitting his head repeatedly against a brick wall. Even when Chad started showing up in Vancouver every single, fucking chance he got, Jared still couldn’t see it. Couldn’t see the way his friend hugged him a little longer than necessary, practically hung off his every word, tried to exclude Jensen from the plans he tried to make for the two of them. How he insisted on Jared sitting up with him late into the night until by the time he came to bed, Jensen had been asleep for hours.
But Jared just remained oblivious to it all, and each time Jensen brought it up, frustrated with plans having to be changed to accommodate their almost constant houseguest, moments interrupted by a ringing cell when Chad wasn’t on their couch, he just brushed it off.
At least until the day three months earlier when all hell had broken loose. Jensen had accused Jared of purposely ignoring what was going on right in front of him. Jared had accused him of being a jealous bastard. And things between them hadn’t been right since.
Admittedly they were still together, still a them but instead of spending hiatus together as had been the plan, they had chosen to do projects, states apart, as a way of clearing the air between them.
Jensen could call it what it was, a break, a separation, a way to see if what they felt for each other while they were stuck in each other’s pockets in Vancouver was real or because of circumstance. He knew how he felt and was pretty secure in his belief in how Jared felt but he also knew that if they hadn’t done it, the arguing would have only gotten worse because Chad would have been sure to have weaseled his way in.
Instead, being stuck working long hours had ensured that Chad really couldn’t spend much time with Jared and, as a bonus, being separated by more than a ten minute car ride had actually worked to Jensen’s advantage. It had been like it was when this thing between them had still been so new, when time apart, no matter how little, seemed like too long, when text messages and late night calls were common place. When Jensen still felt like the centre of Jared’s world, like he was the most important person to his boyfriend, when no matter what he said, it would be believed and taken to heart.
Before Chad and his fucking confession.
Admittedly, he knew that part of his problem was that he was jealous of Jared’s adamant belief in Chad, that he was willing to hang on to what he thought was the truth, choosing to take his friend’s side over his lover’s. Jealous of the fact that Jared wouldn’t even bring the subject up with Chad, choosing instead to ignore it, ignore the way it made Jensen feel like he fell somewhere below Chad in his boyfriend’s heart.
Jensen shut his eyes and clenched his fists against the urge to spring to his feet, rush to the lifeguard station and punch it. Besides the fact that it was beyond foolish, it was simply an inanimate object that had nothing to do with how he was feeling beyond being a constant reminder of another lifeguard station and a realization that he did not want.
He had been so sure by the end of break, so fucking sure, that he and Jared were going to make it. But everything, all the late night talks, all the soft words like love and miss you and need you had been undone not even one hour after finally seeing each other, being together, after months apart by one single fucking phone call from Chad.
And when it was all said and done that’s what made him the angriest, Jared was supposed to be his, heart and soul, but he wasn’t. And it didn’t matter how much Jensen yelled, how much he begged, how many times he admitted his love, it wasn’t shaping up to ever being that way.
Jensen blinked back the stinging in his eyes, he had been so sure.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
There was nothing for him to do now except to go back to the bungalow, repack his stuff, kiss Jared goodbye and hope that they would still have the chemistry needed to be Sam and Dean or season four would be dead even before it began.
He expected it to hurt more, admitting that he was giving up, letting go of one of the best things in his life, accepting that he just couldn’t keep fighting. But instead he just felt kind of numb, almost like someone had stripped him of all feeling, leaving behind nothing but a hollow shell of who he used to be.
He let his eyes drift across the empty beach, watched the sea slide up the sand in almost a sensual caress before slipping back out and away.
I’m leaving Jared. The silent words tore away the numb veneer and he gasped as an intense pain flashed through him.
“Jesus Christ!” He moaned, wrapped his arms around his chest and doubled over, letting his forehead rest against his crossed calves.
Was he really going to do this? Was he really going to let Chad fucking Michael Murray win?
He closed his eyes against the hot stinging in his eyes.
Could he? Could he really walk away from Jared? Were Chad’s words and Jared’s lack of reaction to them worth losing the only person he really loved? And what if he was wrong? What if Jared had been right all this time and he was simply seeing things through mistrustful eyes? But what about feeling like he was coming in second best to Chad? Could he live like that or would it eventually be too much, make him resent Jared? And Christ did he even have any right to feel that way? Or was he simply overreacting?
He had been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn’t heard Jared approaching and a part of him wanted to howl with anger at the interruption of his own personal freak out. How was he supposed to figure out what he was going to do when Jared was settling behind him, forcing his own arms around Jensen’s chest and pulling him back to lean against him?
He wanted to pull away, he managed not to melt into the heat of Jared against his back, but couldn’t make his body respond to the half hearted command for it to move, get up, put some space between them. At that moment he hated himself for accepting, even a little comfort, and hated Jared for giving it.
Jensen’s laugh was hollow, broken, “Not really.”
Out of the corner of his eye he could see Jared leaning over his shoulder to look at him but he refused to acknowledge it, focusing instead back on the empty lifeguard station.
There was no surprise that Jared didn’t need clarification as to what was wrong.
“I’m sorry.” Jared breathed quietly against his temple.
He shut his eyes against the fresh tears threatening to fall and forced back all the words that wanted to spill, accusations, demands, denials, apologies, his fears, everything.
“I should have done something sooner.” Jared’s arms slid down to his waist and tightened slightly but not enough to force Jensen back against him, acknowledging his silent demand for space just not accepting it enough to release him.
“I should have confronted Chad. Demanded to know exactly what game he was playing. I shouldn’t have pushed aside how you felt, ignored the way he seemed to want to worm his way between us.”
His self-preservation wanted him to pull away, tell Jared it was too little, too late, his pride was demanding it but it was his heart that was in control of his body. It wanted to sit still and listen, wanted Jared to say something, anything, to keep Jensen here, keep him with his lover.
“He showed up at the bungalow about ten minutes after you left.”
Jensen stiffened and his imagination flashed with dozens of scenarios of what could have happened in the hour or so that he had been gone and none of them were anything he really wanted to consider.
“Shh Jensen, don’t.” Jared begged softly and stroked the fingers of his right hand across his ribs.
He tried but he couldn’t shut his mind off now, there was a reason he was a good actor, he could imagine his characters into life, a vivid imagination helped with that but right now, images of Jared and Chad embracing, of Jared promising Chad that he would leave Jensen, were too much.
“I demanded the truth from him.” Jared continued when it obviously became clear to him that even if Jensen wasn’t going to relax, he was at least not going anywhere.
“And?” His voice sounded raw, used.
“You were right.” He rested his forehead against the back of Jensen’s head, warm currents from his soft words teasing across his bare neck.
Jensen shut his eyes, somehow being vindicated didn’t bring the satisfaction he thought it would.
“Jensen please.” Jared pleaded, “Please Jen, I’m so, so fucking sorry for everything. For not confronting him sooner, for not telling him to fuck off from the beginning, for letting you feel like you were second best.”
His eyes shot open, “How did you…?”
Jensen felt the first warm splash hit the back of his neck, “It almost killed me when you suggested we separate for hiatus. I thought…thought that it was your way of walking away and at first I was angry, furious, thinking that at the very least you could have been straightforward with me but then I thought why would you be? I was the one that kept pushing your worries away; I was the one that kept downplaying your fears. It was what I deserved.”
“Jay, it wasn’t…I didn’t plan…”
Jared tightened his arms again, “I know. Even then I knew, at least believed enough that it gave me the strength to call you the night the plane landed in Texas. And as much as I hated it, you were right, things seemed to get better, it was like it used to be.”
Jensen sighed, “Was, Jay…”
“Don’t.” He pleaded as more wet heat hit Jensen’s neck and he couldn’t deny Jared the right to at least try to explain.
“I meant to say all this when your plane landed. I was wrong, so very, very wrong. I admit that I was scared to believe you, scared to know that Chad, my friend, could do this to you, to me. He’s supposed to care about me Jen, but by hurting you, by hurting us, he hurt me and how is that caring for anything other than himself? I promise you that as soon as we got back to Vancouver I was going to call him and lay it all on the line. But then he called and said he was on the island before I got a chance to talk to you and in an incredibly selfish move, instead of confronting him right then or talking to you, I reverted back to where we were before hiatus.”
Jared’s words weren’t making sense, if he knew or at least was willing to suspect that something was up with Chad then why did things happen the way they had? “Why?”
It was Jared’s turn to sigh, “Because I’m a fucking coward. Because you are my best friend but he is, was, close second and I wasn’t willing to lose both of you.”
“Even after how well things seem to click back into place between us during hiatus I was scared that I had fucked things up too much and that you were leaving me.”
His words were spilling out in sharp, quick, bursts and his breathing was a shallow heat against Jensen’s neck.
“I know,” He continued and this time he did pull him tightly back against his chest. “I know I’m an idiot but I will do whatever it takes to show you just how sorry I really am.”
Jensen couldn’t, didn’t want to, stop his anger from melting away. He had never been able to stay angry with Jared when he could hear his lover in pain, regardless if it was justified or not. “I’m not going to lie Jared, I was considering leaving.”
“It doesn’t surprise me.” He admitted in a small voice.
He never wanted to leave Jared, not really, probably never would have gone through with it in the first place but he had to know how Jensen was feeling or there was always the chance they would end up in the same place once again. “I won’t play second best again.”
“I wouldn’t except you to.”
He let his head rest against Jared’s shoulder and tilted his face to rest against Jared’s jaw. “You pull this shit again…”
Jared leaned into him, “I won’t.”
“I’ll kick your ass.”
Jared’s response was to brush his lips against Jensen’s temple before settling, silently, to watch the waves.
It felt good; it felt right, for them to be like this, it had been so very long since the quiet between them wasn’t filled with tension. He allowed himself to finally relax and really accept that things between them would be okay.
His eyes fell on the empty lifeguard station again and perhaps it was because it was sunset, making everything seem softer, more romantic or perhaps it was because things were settled between them but even the sharp memory of Chad that day at the Make-A-Wish charity drive didn’t seem so ugly anymore.
“Hey,” Jensen said softly as a sudden thought occurred to him, “What exactly happened with Chad anyway.”
He felt Jared shrug, “I slugged him after he admitted everything.”
“You slugged him?” Not that he was surprised that Jared could be moved to violence, just because almost everyone only saw some sweet, darling guy, didn’t mean that his lover didn’t have a temper and didn’t know exactly what to do.
“Right cross to the jaw and then I told him that I didn’t want to hear from him ever again.”
He twisted so that he could look up at him, “You cut him out of your life?”
Jared looked down at him, “I want you Jensen and if someone is going to try to come between us then damn right they’re gone.”
“Huh.” He murmured and felt a cross between guilt and happiness shoot through him. “That’s kind of sweet.”
Jared blushed before leaning down and brushing his lips in a chaste kiss, “As long as you don’t call me cheesy.”
He grinned, “No but you might be kind of girly for being a closet romantic.”
He laughed at that, “Whatever.” He pointed out towards the sea with his chin. “We’re sitting on the edge of a beach, watching the sun go down after almost falling apart. It’s the ending of several romance novels and you’re not trying to get away. You’re just as romantic as I am.”
Jensen snorted, “I don’t read romance novels.”
He rolled his eyes, “No but your sister does and for some reason she seems to think that I’m willing to discuss the meaning of them because my mother is an English teacher. Apparently my mother’s credentials somehow qualifies me to understand the genius of romance writers.”
He chuckled, “Should I start calling you Jaredina now?”
Jared lifted his hand and with gentle fingers, turned him to look out at the sea. “Enjoy the beauty of the sunset Jen.”
Jensen glanced out of the corner of his eye at Jared and watched the smile playing on his lips before doing as he had been instructed. It was a nice sunset, much more so when shared with someone you love.
Remember comments and constructive criticism are snuggled.