Title: Look Beyond What You See to Find the Truth Behind the Lies - Part 1 chap.2
Please see Master Post for fic details.
Over the course of the next four days Jensen finally managed to get the whole story out, during the evenings when he would stop by after work to check on him. It was a good thing that he knew because Mike and Tom were barely speaking to him. He wasn’t sure if it was because they were worried he would grill them or if it was because they were feeling uncomfortable around him. If that was the case, he couldn’t really understand why, it wasn’t like they were investigating Jensen, just the circumstances surrounding the death of his common-law husband.
Or that was what he had thought.
“Hey Jared could you come with me for a second?”
He glanced up from the paperwork he was reading and smiled at Tom. Generally, when he was actually working on something, it annoyed him to be interrupted but since he had been going through Jensen’s old case files and cross referencing them against the whereabouts of the criminals, when technically he wasn’t supposed to have anything to do with the case, he let it go. It wasn’t like he could actually say anything to Tom, unless he wanted to get hauled into Morgan’s office for a dressing down. And how would that help Jensen?
He stood and followed Tom out of the main room, past the elevator and towards the lunchroom.
Maybe Tom or Mike or both of them were feeling bad for leaving him out of the loop. A part of him wanted to stop him there in the hall and tell him that it was okay, that even though they might know more about what was happening in the investigation that Jensen had already told him what had prompted it in the first place and unless they had anything definite, not to bother. He really didn’t want to go back to Jensen’s hotel room and tell him that the men they worked side by side with, the men that their boss had so much faith in, still had nothing.
But he didn’t get the chance, nor did Tom lead him to the lunchroom. Instead he paused before the closed door of one of the three interrogation rooms.
What the hell?
Tom opened the door and motioned for him to go in. “In here Jared.”
Jared studied him silently, now that he was actually looking, he could see the stress lines around Tom’s eyes, the way his mouth was pressed into a thin bloodless line.
“Tom, what’s going on?”
He straightened his already tight shoulders and motioned towards the room again. “Please Jared.”
He narrowed his eyes and briefly considered heading directly to Morgan but in the end it wouldn’t make much difference. There was no way that the Director didn’t already know what was going on, unless he was just jumping to the wrong idea and Tom really did just want to share information with him. If they had figured out who had killed Justin that would account for the way Tom was acting.
He rolled his shoulders to ease the sudden tension in them and walked through the door.
One of the two detectives that had come to tell Jensen that Justin was dead was sitting in an extra chair that had been dragged into the room, not Mike, like he had expected.
His steps faltered for a minute before he managed to gather his wits and throw himself down into one of the other unoccupied chairs. He made sure to pick the one on the same side as the detective, leaving Tom to take the “hot seat” that was usually designated for suspects.
Jared had no idea what was going on but his gut was screaming that whatever it was, it was very, very bad and he refused to be intimidated. First step to making sure they understood that was by taking an investigator seat. If they wanted him to shift seats then they were going to have to ask. And he would relent, he would move, all the way back to Morgan’s office, if that’s how they wanted to play this out.
“Relax Agent Padalecki.” The detective smiled at him. “We just need to ask you a couple of questions.”
“Some questions about what?” He ensured his voice remained calm but he didn’t try to hide the fact that he was looking the man over. If some local detective was going to come into his house and try to play good cop with him, like he would have no clue, then he wasn’t going to bother to try to disguise his scrutiny, fair was fair.
He was an older man, probably in his fifties and there would be no way he could chase down a suspect but Jared suspected that he would be able to still hold his own in a fair fight, with thinning dark hair and glasses. When he smiled, Jared could understand why he was regulated to the role of good cop, it was a gentle smile that was probably very disarming, usually.
Jared, though, wasn’t falling for it.
He caught Tom shifting as he settled into the seat across from him and had to swallow a groan. If the detective was going to be playing good cop and Tom was going to be playing bad cop, and since he was still scowling like he had just sucked on a lemon, Jared assumed he would be, this was going to turn into nothing but a bad joke. How was he supposed to be intimidated by the same guy that he had seen wearing a stripper’s g-string on his head all night during the birthday party Mike had thrown for him?
“Agent Padalecki, I’m afraid we never got a chance to meet the last time I was here.” He smiled his easy smile again. “I’m Detective Robert Singer.”
The detective extended his hand and it was habit that had him grasping it. Figuring he would look like an ass if he pulled away now, he forced a smile and shook it. “Jared Padalecki.”
He raised an eyebrow at Tom as he pulled away, “What the hell is going on here Tom? What questions?” He waved back at the video camera suspended from the ceiling in the corner behind him. “I’m guessing Mike and your partner...”
“Detective Kripke” Detective Singer supplied.
“Detective Kripke are in the A.V. room watching everything. What, exactly, is it that I’m here for?”
Tom’s demeanour shifted and suddenly he looked like he would rather be anywhere else than in that room. Jared vaguely wondered if he and Mike had tossed a coin to see who would have to be in there with him. Even in his growing annoyance, he got that it had to be hard having to question a colleague; he wouldn’t want to have to do it. Still that little understanding did nothing to quell his anger.
“Jared some evidence had surfaced that...” Tom swallowed and glanced up at the camera. “That...uh...”
“Did Agent Ackles ever mention any problems between himself and Justin Hartley to you?”
From what Jared had first thought was Detective Singer taking pity on Tom and taking it upon himself to get the proceedings started, turned out to be closer to barely controlled anger, he realized when he looked back at him.
Maybe Detective Singer wasn’t so adept at playing good cop after all.
“What kind of problems?” He wasn’t sure what was going on yet but the idea forming wasn’t one he was pleased with, at all.
“Were they happy together Agent Padalecki? Or were there any domestic problems that you knew of?”
This Detective, this local cop, was trying to insinuate that Jensen had something to do with Justin’s murder. This stupid son of a bitch that would have never met Jensen if not for what had happened was drawing conclusions that he had no right to be making.
He turned and glared at Tom accusingly, it was bad enough that someone who didn’t know Jensen could think that but what was Tom’s excuse? What was Mike’s?
“I don’t think I like what’s being inferred here gentlemen.” He fought to keep his voice even. It would do no good to start yelling, no matter how it would help to alleviate some of the pressure building in his chest; it wouldn’t make them see that Jensen was innocent any quicker.
“Like I said Jared,” Tom said softly, “New evidence has come to light that have caused some concern.”
“Show me this evidence then.” He knew it came out demanding regardless of how he controlled his tone but they were sitting there accusing Jensen of murder for Christ’s sake. They were going to have to pony up before he offered them anything that might make things worse for his friend.
“Agent Padalecki, you are really in no position...”
Jared’s head snapped toward the detective, “Fuck you.” He snarled, images of him and Jensen growing up and then later were flashing through his mind. Memories of all the times Jensen had yelled for him to come get rid of a spider because, for all his bluff, he was scared of them. Of he and Jensen pulled off on the side of a back road because Jensen had just hit a jackrabbit and was trying not to cry. Of laughter and tears, love and regret, late nights and hangovers and everything in between.
It wasn’t possible; Jensen was not capable of murder, shooting someone because of the job, yes, but cold-blooded murder, not a fucking chance. Not the Jensen he knew.
“You sit there and accuse my partner, my friend, a highly respected FBI agent of murder and...”
His voice had risen steadily as he spoke but Tom’s soft words had no problem stealing his voice, his anger, the very air from his lungs.
“We can’t find evidence of anyone else being in the home.”
He had to close his eyes against the sudden sense of vertigo and swallow down the lump in his throat so he could drag in a harsh breath.
“Oh there are a few latent prints but there are no signs of forced entry and the neighbors don’t remember seeing anyone suspicious in the area at the time of the murder.”
He was pretty sure that the Detective was trying to remain clinical but his anger was tearing his detachment apart at the seams. Jared wasn’t sure if he always got that upset during a murder investigation or if it was because of who Jensen was, but he figured it was probably the latter. Law enforcement took it hard when one of their own was killed in the line of duty. They took it even worse when it turned out one of their own was dirty.
“Jared that’s not all.” Tom started but Detective Singer cut him off.
“I think Agent Padalecki has been told enough. I’m sure he now understands our motivation enough to be willing to help.”
Jared didn’t think he did, not really. His head was spinning and his stomach heaving and he was pretty sure they had missed something because the Jensen he knew could not have done what they were ready to accuse him of. In fact, he knew they hadn’t gone about their jobs properly, not if they were willing to lay this al at Jensen’s feet based on the fact that there was no sign of forced entry. Justin could have very well known his attacker, could have let him into the house. And what about the prints? They needed to be run, they had to be run, it was procedure.
“No I don’t think he has.” Tom snapped back, his control finally gone. “You and I just accused his partner of murder based on nothing but the smallest amount of circumstantial evidence.” He shook his head, “I wouldn’t be in the mind to help either if it was Mike.”
Finally a sense of normalcy was maybe appearing, but Jared wasn’t an idiot. If Tom had dragged him in here then he had to have more than what the Detective had been willing to tell him.
“What else is there Tom?” He really didn’t want to know, he didn’t want to learn that the Jensen he had known as a kid wasn’t the same Jensen he had reacquainted himself with as an adult. That somewhere amongst the time and distance something had drastically changed in the heart of the boy he had fallen in love with, a decade before.
But he would sit there and listen very carefully to everything they had to say and God help Tom and Mike and the two detectives and even Morgan if he could find glaring holes in all their supposed evidence. Because if he could, then he was damn well going to and he would be going to everyone’s superiors to point out that they were going with the easy answer instead of working to find the truth.
“There’s no immediate plan to investigate the claim but Justin’s employer let him go on suspicion of embezzling money from the company.”
Did Jensen know? It was his first thought and it explained why Justin had seemed reluctant to find another job. Who would hire him with that hanging over his head?
Still, that wasn’t anything that was going to convince him of Jensen’s guilt.
“So?” he shrugged disdainfully, “Justin was fired six months ago. If Jensen was going to...react, I’m pretty sure it would have been sooner.”
“According to Agent Ackles, when we spoke to him, he had no idea.” The detective grumbled and Jared could see by the man’s grudging acceptance that he had believed him about that, at least.
Wait. They had already spoken to Jensen? Had already accused him to his face? The knowledge had to be eating him alive. Jared had to get out of that damn room and find him. They hadn’t been in the car with Jensen on the way to the hotel right after he had been told or seen what a mess Jensen had been for the last couple days. To be accused now, fuck he didn’t want to think what it might entice him to do.
But first he had to put enough holes in their case that they would all be fighting to be the first to apologize to Jensen.
“Not really helping your case then is it?” He crossed his arms over his chest.
“Turns out that Justin had quite the gambling problem.” Tom ran a hand through his hair. “And before you ask, Jensen said he didn’t know about that either.”
Jared didn’t bother responding, he just waved his hand for one of them to continue.
“We’ve done some checking,” Tom muttered. “According to Jensen, Justin took over the responsibility of taking care of the house bills once he was home all the time. Electric, gas, water have all been late, in fact a couple months they were not paid at all. Justin’s Visa has already been sent to collections. Both Jensen and Justin’s car payments are a month behind. The mortgage payment bounced as of three days ago. We have evidence that Justin was borrowing from his RRSP. And Jensen swears that he had no idea about a line of credit that was taken out, in both their names.”
“So he was running them into the poor house.” He knew it would be enough for him to walk out on his significant other; he wouldn’t be surprised if Jensen would do the same, but murder? Maybe, if the murderer was hot headed enough but Jensen dealt well with pressure, he wouldn’t have made it into the FBI if he couldn’t. “I’m still not convinced.”
Tom sighed, “Jared think of it as someone you don’t know, at all. This is just another case.” He raised an eyebrow and waited until Jared hesitantly nodded before continuing, “One, no reliable signs of anyone other than Jensen Ackles and Justin Hartley in the house that morning. Two, Jensen finds out that Justin has been spending all their money, including money earmarked for bills, on what he didn’t know, but he knew the money was gone. He admitted to finding out through telephone banking that the mortgage payment had bounced. Three, Jensen came into work late that morning and was not acting like himself, even Mike and I could see that from across the room. Four, Jensen has admitted that he and Justin had fought that morning and that Jensen was leaving him.”
“Let us not forget the five hundred thousand dollars life insurance policy that Jensen stands to get once all the “Is” are dotted and the “Ts” are crossed.” Detective Singer added darkly, “And the only alternative he can give us is that Justin had mentioned that he had made an appointment with a contractor to come in and give him an estimate on getting the kitchen redone. But he can’t give us the contractor’s name because he never asked Justin.”
Jared swallowed hard, Damn it!
When Tom asked him to think outside of his friendship with Jensen, to think like an investigator, it wasn’t looking good for his partner. Add that to the first question that the detective had asked about if Jensen and Justin were having problems but if they had already spoken to Jensen they should have known. But they didn’t because Jensen hadn’t told them because Jensen had to have known how it would look for him. And they hadn’t mentioned anything about the adoption that Justin had tried to start, that Jensen had confided to him about and his worries that Justin was only doing it because maybe he had a feeling that Jensen was considering leaving him, even then. That right there was emotional blackmail.
He ran a hand through his hair, maybe if he answered their questions they’d show him everything they had, if for no other reason then because he was one of them now, just another person finding himself questioning his friend’s innocence.
And maybe, just maybe he’d find the hole that wasn’t so clear right now.
God, he hoped so.
Jared knew he shouldn’t be there, he had managed to stay away for almost twenty-four hours, but he had to know. He had to know the truth and the only one that could give him that was Jensen.
Actually, he was desperately hoping that Jensen could explain everything away, that he could look Jared straight in the eye and show him the holes in the evidence that he couldn’t see.
He needed that. He needed Jensen to not be a murder.
He had been right, once he had stopped trying to defend Jensen and started answering Tom’s and Detective Singer’s questions, they were more than willing to share everything they had with him.
Turned out they had run all seven separate sets of fingerprints they had found in the house, all were identified but two and Jensen admitted that he had come home to find a guy in his house that he didn’t know, one night with Justin, so that accounted for one set. Chances were the other set was from another friend of Justin’s that Jensen didn’t know about. One set was found on the coffee table the other on an end table in the living room, they suggested guests but not something more sinister.
Then there was the fact that they couldn’t find any evidence that Justin had been in contact with any contractor. No notations in the yellow pages, no odd numbers in the phone records, either land line or cell. Not to mention that Chad had told them that he had shown up at the house at eight twenty five am, and, although, not unheard of, it was rare for contractors in San Antonio to set up appointments for before nine am. Jared knew, on his own he had called each and every one of them just to check out the contractor story himself.
Then there was the position that Justin was found in. What, at first glance could have been the scene of a tragic accident, at closer inspection looked suspicious. Justin had fallen backwards and hit the left side of his head, hard enough to shatter his temporal bone, sending a shard into his brain, on the corner of the coffee table. Tripping on something and simply falling shouldn’t have produced enough momentum to do that much damage. Add the fact that the house had hardwood floors and there was nothing nearby to trip Justin and it was looking more and more like he had been pushed.
And there were Jensen’s actions that morning, not really aiding his innocence by any means. Forgetting his cell at home, something that had never happened before, like there was something else on his mind and something trivial, like his cell, was just background noise. The coroner has set the time of death between seven and seven thirty am and Jensen had been forty five minutes late. His behaviour, seeming lost and out of it before the detectives even came to tell him about Justin’s death. And the fucking life insurance policy, Jensen stood to gain half a million dollars and it had come to light that the vehicle loans, the line of credit, Justin’s credit card, the fucking mortgage were all insured so that if something happened to one of them, the other was free and clear of the debt.
Some of it Jared could explain away himself. The cell phone for instance, no one was perfect and he knew that Jensen had told Justin that they were over that morning so that would make remembering his cell phone trivial. There had been an accident that morning, just like Jensen had said, and it had been bad enough that Fire and Rescue had been involved and traffic had to be rerouted around it. His behaviour that morning again could be contributed to ending a four-year relationship. Who wouldn’t be a little off after doing that? And the insurance policy and the insurance on the bills, well that was just good financial planning. Even Jared had insurance on all his loans and had an insurance policy, in his line of work he had to, being an FBI agent may not be all the movies made it out to be but he was still a law enforcement officer and he wasn’t about to leave it to his parents to shell out for his outstanding bills or his funeral if anything happened to him.
But it was the other things that he couldn’t explain away on his own that dug at him, that forced the ugly question of Jensen’s guilt into his mind.
Jared took a deep breath and forced himself to knock on the hotel room door. He knew he was risking everything by being there; he could lose his job now that he was privy to everything that the investigating team had. This was a bad idea on so many levels but he needed to see Jensen, to search his eyes and try to discern the truth for himself.
He heard movement behind the door and then a moment later it opened just enough for Jensen to glare out.
“What?” He growled.
He ignored the cold look in Jensen’s eyes and tried to smile, “Are you going to let me in?”
“You want to talk to me, call my lawyer.”
He had leaned that Jensen had lawyered up right after he had left the police station the morning before, right after his interview with the detectives when he had been informed that he was the prime suspect in Justin’s murder. He wasn’t surprised, who would be in that situation, but he couldn’t help thinking about the old adage about an innocent man not needing a lawyer. He hated himself for it but then again he hated Jensen a little bit too for making him feel that way in the first place.
“Come on Jen.” He knew he should just walk away but he couldn’t, not when there was still a chance that Jensen could make him believe in him once more. He was resolutely ignoring the fact that it was his heart leading and not his head.
Jensen snorted and shook his head but he finally opened the door wider. “Five minutes.”
He was hoping that Jensen was acting like this towards him because he hadn’t been around for the last day when he knew he probably needed a sympathetic ear but he had a sneaking suspicion that that had nothing to do with it. Either he had found out that Jared had been talking to Tom and Mike or he was simply the enemy because of who he was. Either way it hurt a lot more than it should have considering they were only friends, maybe not even that anymore.
He followed Jensen into the suite and leaned against the door he had just shut when he realized that he wasn’t going to be permitted to go any further, Jensen standing three feet in front of him.
When it became clear that Jensen had no intention of doing anything other than crossing his arms over his chest and glaring daggers at him, he finally gave in and spoke first. “Tell me they’re wrong.”
It was like Jensen had just been waiting for him to speak and somehow Jared didn’t think that it would have mattered what he said that point. Jensen was livid and he wasn’t going to hide it. “Everything I told you over the last eight months. Every single fucking complaint, every worry, every fear about me and Justin, you told them everything.” He snarled.
“Well what the hell was I supposed to do?” He demanded back, his patience waning in the face of the attack. He wasn’t sure what Jensen’s reaction would be when he got there but he hadn’t expected it to be something like this.
“You were supposed to back me Jared!” He crossed the small space between them until he was in his space. “You were supposed to be my friend! Instead you helped them to make me look all the more guilty.”
“All I did was tell them the truth.”
“Yeah well isn’t that just fucking grand of you.” He snorted.
“Look, if you’re innocent then it doesn’t matter...”
Jensen’s hands shot out, his fingers curled into his suit jacket and he slammed his against the door. “If I’m innocent…If?”
Jared could only put up with so much; his nerves were already stretched too thin from a long sleepless night of lying in bed and trying to see the flaw in the investigation. To find the one thing that had been missed, misread or misconstrued. Anything that would settle the ache deep inside him, that would make him the friend he was supposed to be. Make Jensen the innocent man he needed him to be.
He grabbed Jensen’s wrists and pulled his hands away, ignoring the sound of threads tearing and pushed him back out of his space. He couldn’t allow him to be that close, not when the part of him that was still in love with Jensen just wanted to protect him, protect them from this. And the other side of him just wanted to beat the shit out of him for being someone who could kill someone in cold blood, for being someone that Jared couldn’t love. “Yeah Jensen, if. Show me something. Tell me something to prove them wrong, to prove that the evidence is wrong.”
“How about we start with the fact that it’s all circumstantial?” He yelled back, “That it would never hold up in court and you fucking know it!”
A sudden banging on the wall reminded both of them that they really weren’t anywhere private.
Jensen ground his teeth together, “That’s why they haven’t arrested me Jared. It’s because they would never get a jury to convict me.” His voice was lower but no less angry.
“I need something more than that.” He didn’t want to plead but damn it, he wanted so badly to be wrong. “Please Jensen. I’m risking my job to be here because I want to believe in you.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose, “All I have is my word and evidently that isn’t enough for you Jared. So get the fuck out.”
He turned on his heel and started moving further into the suite. “Get out before I call the office Jared. After all, we wouldn’t want you to lose your job over this now would we?”
Jared swallowed against the burning in the back of his throat and silently slid out the door.
The next morning, Jensen walked into the office but instead of the usual dark suit, he was wearing soft looking light blue jeans, a grey Henley and a black leather jacket that Jared was sure was the same one he had had in high school.
He didn’t bother looking at Jared or Mike or Tom, choosing instead to walk directly to Director Morgan’s office, with his head held high and knocked lightly on the door.
Jared later learned that Morgan had called Jensen in to let him know that he was suspended until the investigation was over.
But Jensen had gone one better. He had handed over his letter of resignation, along with his gun and his badge, stating that it wasn’t possible for him to work with people that questioned his innocence.
In the end it really wasn’t that much of a surprise to Jared when he learned about it later. When Jensen had come back out, he had gone directly to Tom’s desk and asked for his personal items back.
Tom had silently handed over an manila envelope that Jared knew contained the framed picture of Justin and Jensen that he had had sitting on his desk and his phone book that he had always left at the office.
“You didn’t find a signed confession in either I’m guessing.” He snarled down at Tom.
“Fuck you Rosenbaum.” He growled at Mike before turning on his heel and leaving, not even glancing once over in Jared’s direction.
Jared bit his lip and tried to convince himself that the ache in his chest wasn’t his heart breaking because of Jensen Ross Ackles for a second time in his life.
End Part One.
Part 2 chap.1