Title: Look Beyond What You See to Find the Truth Behind the Lies - Part 1 chap.1
Please see Master Post
for fic details.
Part 1 theme song Cold by Matchbox Twenty - Jared's POV
San Antonio, TX
April 22, 2009
Jared Padalecki could do patience, in fact he could do it damn well, which was a very good thing since being an FBI agent wasn’t anywhere near as exiting as the movies made it out to be. There was a lot more time spent behind his desk than there was shooting it out with dangerous criminals, a lot more. So maybe he had never been in an actual shootout, a few standoffs yes, but an actual shootout, not so many. It was where the patience came in handy, standing around behind the cover of vehicles or the side of a building or in the command vehicle while the suspect weighed the odds of actually escaping while surrounded by local law enforcement and a detachment of the FBI. After three to ten hours, Jared’s longest and most dull standoff to date, and several insane demands that were never met, who really ate anchovy and peanut butter pizza, honestly, the suspect would wander out, his weapon dangling loosely from a finger or two away from his body before being tossed away and then dropping to lay face down on the ground.
Yeah, Jared didn’t really need a thrill for excitement but he definitely needed patience. So it was a damn good thing he had a good grip on that particular virtue.
At least, he did on most days but today just wasn’t one of those days.
It started as a small worry, niggling, at the back of his head, when he had glanced at his watch, realized it was a quarter after eight and his partner still hadn’t shown up. His partner, Jensen Ackles, wasn’t known for his tardiness when it came to the job. It only took Jared two weeks of being his partner and one very pissed off phone call from Jensen, who was stuck in an accident induced traffic jam, to figure that out. Not that he was particularly surprised, at that point eight months earlier, it may have been ten years since they had been friends in high school but even then Jensen had been pretty obsessive about being on time to things he deemed important, school, family functions, dates with Jared. The point was that it didn’t surprise him that his partner was still obsessive about it now.
Which was why it had worried him, the feeling only getting worse when his calls, there may have been four or five in quick succession, he wasn’t really counting, rang through to voice mail. Jensen was never late for work, except that one time, and never let his phone ring through to voice mail. Something had to be wrong.
He had pretty much worked himself into a state of panic, thirty minutes later when Jensen had flown in, dark suit jacket haphazardly thrown over his left arm, briefcase clutched in the opposite hand, tie crooked and a cross between pissed off and sheepish on his face.
That was another thing that Jensen wasn’t, at least at the beginning of the day, disorganized.
“Sorry.” He grunted as he dropped his briefcase on his desk and pulled his jacket on.
“Dude what the hell?” He caught Jensen’s gaze fall on his cup of coffee and passed it over to him with a sigh. Old habits, especially really old habits, died hard. When they had been much younger, Jensen would eye up whatever drink Jared had happened to have if he didn’t have one of his own until Jared would give it to him. At the time it hadn’t seemed inappropriate since they were already sharing more than spit and, even though those days had long past, it still didn’t strike him as wrong.
Besides, the cup was half empty and the coffee tepid and he knew that as soon as Jensen was settled he’d go to the lunch room and get both of them another cup. It saved Jared the trip.
“There was an accident holding up traffic…again.”
He wouldn’t meet Jared’s eyes, instead busying himself with opening his briefcase.
“Huh.” Jared watched him wince before draining the cup. “I called but it rang through to your voice mail.”
“Yeah I’m sorry about that. I forgot my phone at home.”
Jensen’s phone was an extension of Jensen himself, he never went anywhere without the damn thing.
Jared studied him while he fiddled with the files he was pulling out of his briefcase. His back was a tense line, shoulders practically bunching up under his ears and he was fidgeting like he was nervous.
Something was definitely going on.
He knew it had nothing to do with work, so logic dictated that it had to have something to do with home, more to the point, Jensen’s common-law husband, Justin Hartley.
Jared wasn’t an idiot, he knew that his and Jensen’s combined pasts meant that it had taken awhile for them to manage anything beyond professional interest in one another; he was uncomfortable with his first true love and Jensen had been skittish and hesitant around him. Both of them probably remembering their last day together and Jensen trying to explain that it wasn’t fair of him to expect Jared to be tied to a boyfriend in a college seven hours away and Jared accusing him of just not wanting a boyfriend in high school when there would be college boys to fuck.
That had been the beginning of an extremely ugly break up that took roughly three hours, a shit load of tears and brutal words thrown between them.
Still they had managed to work past it without actually mentioning it and they had fallen back into a friendship that seemed to be just as easy as it had been the first time around.
Jared had told Jensen that he had started out as a rookie cop in Dallas after graduation but eventually caved and tried out for the FBI when his cousin Steve wouldn’t let it go. He admitted that he thought it was because his cousin was hoping that Jared would end up in the Dallas office with him but San Antonio had been short one man since the director had retired and Jeff Morgan had been promoted so he had been sent there.
Jensen had finally confided in him about meeting Justin in a bar four years earlier and that, until recently, he had worked as the head accountant for a small restaurant and hotel supplier. Eventually, after too many mornings of dark rings under his eyes and Jared’s thinly veiled worry, he even confessed that since Justin had been let go from his job that things between them had been going down hill.
After a couple of beers after a long day of shuffling papers, he had even learnt that since Justin had lost his job, he didn’t appear to be in that big of a rush to find another one, preferring to sit around the house all day and do nothing. Except, apparently, plan out their future, arbitrarily deciding that they should adopt a child, Jensen finding out by the pre-approval paperwork sitting on the dinning room table one night, two months earlier, when he got home.
“I’m telling Justin tonight that we’re not going through with the adoption.”
Jared glanced over at Jensen, who was studiously placing files into his briefcase, one after another. He couldn’t say he was surprised that his friend was nixing the idea of adoption with his husband, he knew he didn’t know everything that was going on in Jensen’s private life but he knew enough to know that Jensen was miserable.
Still, “I’m sorry Jensen.”
“It’s probably going to end us.” He looked over his shoulder, flashed a smile that didn’t reach his eyes before picking up the briefcase and heading for the elevator.
He waved absently over his shoulder, “See you tomorrow Jared.”
Jared chewed on his bottom lip as he watched Jensen slump down into his chair and pick up the coffee mug. He had it half way to his mouth before he realized it was empty. Silently he set it back down and gently started pushing it against the files on his desk, never hard enough to actually shove them anywhere but just enough to make a soft scraping noise.
Jared looked around the small office, San Antonio was a satellite office, manned by only five men during the day, the director and two sets of partners and four at night. The other set of agents, Rosenbaum and Welling were both studiously going through files, or at least they appeared to be but Jared knew by experience that that meant nothing. Mike Rosenbaum had the hearing of a bat and the urge to gossip worse than an old woman.
But just looking at his partner, he knew that Jensen was a mess and he couldn’t just sit back and wait until he came to him to talk, if he came to him to talk. They might have managed to become friends again but he knew that Jensen didn’t tell him everything, probably not even half but he couldn’t just sit by while he did nothing but stare into an empty coffee cup.
Who ever the designer had been, that set up the main office, had thought that it would be more people friendly if each set of partners’ desks were set up to appear to be one large corner desk with only enough room between the wall and the desks to get between them and face out into the room. It never really bothered Jared before, if he had a question for Mike or Tom all he had to do was lift his head and look at the identical set up across from him but it made private conversations difficult. And right now he resented that fact with a passion.
Still if he kept his voice low enough and made like it was shoptalk, they might stay under Mike’s radar.
He grabbed the top file on his desk, not bothering to look at the contents, it wouldn’t matter, right now both teams were regulated to going through cold case files and rolled his chair across the small distance between them.
“What’s this?” Jensen mumbled and grabbed for the file as Jared dropped it on his desk. “Did you find something?”
The plea made Jared’s heart hurt and only made his suspicions more apt to be the truth.
“Did you…?” He paused and swallowed. It had seemed like a good idea to broach the subject but how did one go about asking if his ex-lover had split up with his common-law husband without it sounding wrong? On one hand it could be construed as being spiteful and on the other viciously hopeful. And in a way he supposed that would sort of be kind of right.
Not that he wanted Jensen to be miserable, not matter how things had ended between them. That was a long time ago and they were both older and wiser. But he had noticed when things started going south with Justin that Jensen had started flirting with him. In the beginning he had thought it was just innocent fun but sometimes he caught Jensen looking at him in a way that heated his blood and made his fingers itch to grab him. And he really, really didn’t think that Jensen would reject him and he really, really didn’t want him to.
“Jen, about last night…” he took a breath and decided to just dive in. Either Jensen would punch him, tell him to fuck off and mind his own business or answer him. “Is this what this is about?”
He watched him blink down at the file he had just flipped open before he glanced up at him. “Huh?”
They were so close he could feel the moisture of Jensen’s breath against his lips. He pulled back a little and glanced around in time to catch Mike look back down at the paperwork on his desk. Great, he wondered how long that would take to get back to the head office in Dallas and to Steve.
Well there was nothing he could do about that now.
He turned back to find Jensen staring blankly at him and made sure to keep a more respectable distance between them. Still he tilted his head forward a little and lowered his voice even more, “The adoption thing.”
Jensen continued to stare blankly at him for long enough that Jared was trying to figure out how to apologize for even bringing it up when he suddenly shifted and rubbed both hands on his face and into his hair. “Yeah….Yeah, Jay it is.”
He wanted to reach out and try to ease the desolation he could hear in his voice but thought better of it. “Are you okay?”
Jensen snorted, “I slept in the spare bedroom, Justin in the master.” He pinned Jared with his glare, anger darkening his eyes to jade. “What do you think?”
He didn’t pull back from the look, Jensen might be pissed off that he was digging but he wasn’t really angry with him, if he had been the whole office, what little there was of it, would know about it by now.
“Is there…” he paused and worried his lip again. What he was offering could be misconstrued so badly, especially considering the constant flirting and sexual innuendo that had been running rampant between them recently. But offering to help a friend was something that a friend did and he and Jensen were friends. “Is there anything I can do?”
A smile flickered momentarily before dying on Jensen’s face. “Justin’s cousin is supposed to be coming today…” he looked away and started pushing the cup around again. “I’ll let you know.”
Jared opened his mouth to speak again but the dinging of the elevator caught his attention. He glanced back just as two men, dressed similarly to them, stepped out and Director Morgan’s door opened behind him.
Jared turned back to see his boss looking green around the gills and his feeling that something was wrong kicked him in the stomach again.
Jensen said nothing as he pulled himself to his feet and moved towards the open office door just as the two men passed their combined desks and followed him.
He turned to look across at Mike and Tom to see them staring back at him.
Something was very, very wrong.
An hour later, Jensen was still in Morgan’s office along with the two men that had shown up just as he had been called in and Jared was pretty much sick with worry.
Or it could have been the six or so cups of coffee he had downed and, although, unusual, he doubted the caffeine was the problem.
It hadn’t taken Mike coming up to his and Jensen’s desks not thirty seconds after Morgan’s door had closed and proclaimed that the two guys were local cops for Jared to know that. He had been a beat cop in Dallas; he could spot another cop a mile away, even if they weren’t dressed in the standard blues. And the cops who didn’t dress in blues were detectives.
What the hell would detectives be doing wanting to see Jensen?
He knew there were a myriad of reasons, San Antonio may only be a small office but they still had their fair share of crap. Most of the times it was illegal aliens, which while never fun, Jared got that most of them were only looking for a better life and having to send them back hurt but it was his job and wasn’t generally life threatening. Occasionally there were the parents that had kidnapped their own kids and crossed state lines but mostly that was it for them.
But then there were the occasional drug traffickers or desperate bank robber. And with them, came the death threats and the slimy lawyers that generally got them out on bail. But there hadn’t been anything, anyone, like that since before Jared’s time.
He wanted to take that as a good sign. But there were two detectives in his boss’s office and his partner and he wasn’t involved.
Unfortunately it pointed to something that happened before his time and there had been a death threat on Jensen’s life three months before he had transferred in. He didn’t remember a lot about it, Jensen telling him the story during a stake out of a suspected child molester in the area, which had turned out to be a bad lead, something about a nut who had murdered his family, then traveled across two states to kill his wife’s parents because God had told him to.
Would a judge have granted someone like that bail?
The answer made him sick to his stomach. County lock up was overcrowded, the jails were overcrowded, if he had the right lawyer and psychiatrist and someone stupid enough to put up his bail, then he could very well be free.
He wanted to be in Morgan’s office. Jensen was his partner and if his partner was in danger he should be there to back him up.
And that was definitely the only reason. It didn’t matter that Jensen flirted with him, that occasionally his eyes darkened just so and suddenly Jared would be thrown back ten years. Nor did it have anything to do with the fact that there was that little part of him that was still in love with Jensen, the little part that he had thought he had beaten into submission even before he had found out that Jensen was with someone because the past was the past. So it definitely had nothing to do with that.
He was so screwed.
He needed to get out, even if it was just down to the coffee shop a block away, just to take a minute to pull his shit together but he knew he wouldn’t. Eventually Jensen was going to come out of Morgan’s office and he might need Jared, even if was just as a partner. He might need him and if he couldn’t be in there with him, then he sure in hell was going to be right here for him.
He jumped at the sound of Morgan calling his name. In the last hour, he had spent more time than not staring at the Director’s door and the one time his eyes had wandered to the windows behind Mike and Tom, it had suddenly and finally opened.
He wanted to stand but didn’t want to look too eager, too worried. He wanted to ask what was going on in the same demanding tone that Morgan used when he was clearly upset, like now but clenched his jaw shut. It wasn’t going to do anyone any good if he started throwing attitude around now and worse than that, Jensen would give him hell for doing it.
He finally settled on the usual, “Boss?”
Morgan tilted his head towards his open door, “If you’re waiting for an engraved invitation I’m afraid they’re still at the printer’s.”
It was the same damn come back the man used every time but it was noticeably missing the usual resigned fondness and that did nothing to settle Jared’s nerves. Silently he stood and crossed the room, ignoring the feeling of burning in his back, knowing that Mike and Tom would both be watching.
It took less than a second for Jared to take in the small office, one of the local cops sitting in one of the chairs in front of Morgan’s desk, the other leaning against the wall beside it and Jensen in the other chair, his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.
He felt his heart turn over before it started to beat double time.
Ignoring the warning in the back of his head that was trying to tell him that maybe it wasn’t going to look professional, he dropped to his knees beside Jensen and gently squeezed his thigh.
“Jen” He murmured softly, “Jensen, what is it?”
Jensen’s thigh was tense under his hand; his whole body was practically vibrating with the pressure of trying to hold himself together.
Jared felt a fine sheen of sweat break out over his body. This kind of reaction didn’t sit right with what he knew of Jensen if the problem had to do with the nut job getting out on bail. He wouldn’t be practically curled in on himself trying to contain his emotions; he’d be trying to pace the small room, brushing off Morgan’s concerns and recommendations. He would be demanding to be left to do his job, bluffing his way out of the real possibility that the threat against his life was legitimate. Not just sitting there, not like that.
“Jensen?” He tried again when he got no reaction, not even the shake of his head.
“I need you to take Jensen to a hotel.” Morgan instructed gruffly, “He’s going to be taking a few days.”
Jared’s body froze. A hotel…? Taking a few days? What the hell was going on?
He tried to see past Jensen’s fingers to meet his eyes but all he could catch was the sweep of his eyelashes against his pale cheeks. If he could just see his partner’s eyes then maybe he could get an understanding for the situation and not feel like he was failing to catch up on something that he should already know.
His spine stiffened instantly, the sharp order in his boss’s voice commanding his attention, demanding it. He turned his head quickly enough that it cracked.
“Take Jensen and go.” He said it slowly, enunciating each word.
He nodded once and climbed to his feet, ignoring the two detectives who had remained silent but watchful since he had first walked into the office.
“Come on Jensen.” He urged softly and leaned forward enough to get a good grip on his bicep, “Let’s get you out of here.” He tightened his fingers and gave a light tug.
Finally Jensen pulled his head out of his hands and looked up at Jared. His eyes were red rimmed and he appeared more out of it than he had when he first walked into the office. “Jared?”
He swallowed hard, trying to force down the surge of concern and the urge to wrap Jensen up in his arms and hide him from whatever had him so messed up.
“Yeah man.” He managed a slight smile. “Come on. The boss is giving you a free pass for the day. What do you say we get you out of here?”
He stared up at Jared, his gaze empty of everything, before he shifted so that he could see around him.
“Go Jensen.” He pressed softly, “Take a couple days.”
He started shaking his head, “No. I’m okay, I need to be…”
“You need to take some time.” Morgan overran his protest, “This isn’t a request Jensen.”
Jared watched him run his free hand through his hair before he blew out a breath, “I want Jared on the case.”
He turned his head just in time to watch Morgan shake his own. “You know company policy. Padalecki is your partner, he is too invested. Welling and Rosenbaum will work the case.”
No one in the room missed Jensen’s growl.
Morgan raised an eyebrow but his eyes flashed with relief. “Go Ackles.”
Jared had forgotten that he had his fingers wrapped around Jensen’s bicep until his partner shifted and started getting to his feet. A part of him wanted to keep touching him, hoping that it would convey his support in whatever this was but he was pretty sure it wouldn’t be welcome. At least not now that some of Jensen’s normal personality was starting to reassert itself.
Reluctantly he let his hand drop to his side but he couldn’t stop himself from following close enough behind that he could feel the heat coming off of him. He didn’t care how it looked to the cops or Morgan or even how Jensen felt about it. He might be slowly coming back around but something had thrown him, hard, and he wasn’t going to take the chance that suddenly Jensen might go practically catatonic again and he wouldn’t be close enough to help.
Jensen paused as he drew even with Director Morgan, “Don’t let them fuck this up.”
Morgan grabbed his shoulder and Jared could see his fingers dent the fabric of Jensen’s suit jacket. “Not a chance.”
Jared made eye contact with Morgan as he followed Jensen out the door.
“Watch him.” Morgan said softly, low enough that Jared was sure that the detectives hadn’t heard it and chances were Jensen hadn’t either.
He nodded once, still lost in confusion but he had every intention of doing just that, knowing that eventually Jensen would tell him what had happened. Until then he would stay close, find Jensen a decent hotel to hole up in and be ready for anything.
The drive to the hotel had yielded as little information as being called into Morgan’s office had and Jared was just about ready to crawl out of his skin. Jensen had remained as silent as he had been in the office, going so far as to leave it up to Jared with a soft “Don’t care” as to which hotel to take him to.
Jared had pointed the car in the direction of the Mariott only because it had been the first hotel to come to mind. Though in retrospect, he hoped that it would somehow snap Jensen out of the silent starring he had been doing since they had gotten into the car, if only to, at least, veto it because of the constant crowds of the Riverwalk.
Instead, he had stayed resolutely silent during the trip and Jared was pretty sure he was about to explode, a combination of worry and frustration swirling in his stomach. It wasn’t that he thought he deserved to know what was going on, per se, but it was a case, both Jensen and Morgan had said as much, and Mike and Tom would know what was happening and he was Jensen’s partner, damn it.
As loath as he was to admit it, it was actually hurt that was most prevalent, though as he guided the car into the entrance of the underground parking garage for the hotel and flashed his badge at the attendant, graining them quick access, because in moments, Jensen would be getting out of the car and he would still have no idea what was going on. And beyond the fact that they were partners, he had thought they had managed to become pretty good friends and that he was someone Jensen trusted, after all he had confided about, at least, some of what was going on with Justin, how much worse could this be?
It was bad enough that Morgan wanted Jensen in a hotel. It was bad enough that the local P.D. was involved. It was that much worse. His mind helpfully supplied.
Jared clenched his jaw, but that should be the very reason that he was told because of those reasons. He was Jensen’s partner; he was supposed to back him up. How was he supposed to do that if he had no idea what was going on?
The words were so soft that they almost blended into the low humming from the radio. Once it registered what Jensen had said he almost sideswiped the backend of a parked car, twisting to look at him. It was only Jensen leaning over and turning the steering wheel, the hard rubber feeling foreign in his suddenly numb hands that averted the accident.
It registered right away as to what had almost happened and he pulled himself together enough to get the car parked, pretty much straight, in the next available stall.
He threw the car in park, killed the engine and twisted in the seat so that he could get a better look at Jensen in the dull light of the parkade. “What?”
Whatever life had come back to Jensen in those brief moments seemed to have faded again. He was back to starring out the passenger window blankly, his hands curled into loose fists in his lap.
“Jensen?” He prodded low.
His body stiffened, his hands momentarily clenching before suddenly he released his breath in a broken sigh. “Justin’s dead.”
He was still starring out the window and Jared itched to cup his cheek and force him to look at him. He forced the urge away and tightened his fingers around the steering wheel.
“Jensen I...I’m sorry man.”
It was human nature to want to know what happened and being an FBI agent made the drive to know worse but he kept the question locked behind his teeth. Now that Jensen had finally started talking, he was certain that he would tell him in his own time. He understood shock; he finally understood what was wrong with his friend and knew that at this point that it would be easier on Jensen to just let him get it all out in his own time.
“Chad...” he finally turned away from the window and glanced at him but only for a moment before staring down at his hands. “He never did respect other people’s privacy. If the door was unlocked, he would just wander in.”
Jared had only met Justin a handful of times and his cousin, Chad, once, when he had agreed to meet up with Jensen and the other two at one of the only gay bars in town one night a little more than a month ago. He had been kind of suspicious from the onset that either Jensen or Justin had been trying to hook him up with Chad.
The guy had been nice enough he guessed and he was good looking with spiky blond hair and attractive blue eyes but Jared had kind of thought he was a douche. He was not enough of one where they couldn’t be friends, but enough of one that he knew that even if he had been interested, it wouldn’t have lasted because of it. Besides he had a thing for guys with hair a darker shade of blond, in fact almost light brown but he wasn’t stupid enough to mention that to Chad or Justin and, sure as hell, not to Jensen.
The memory flickered and faded from his mind as Jensen ran a shaky hand through his hair. “He was on the floor in the living room. They think he misstepped somehow and hit his head on the coffee table.”
It sounded farfetched to Jared but he knew from experience that occasionally accidents like that really did happen, so he ignored his instinct to question, it was the last thing Jensen needed, him slipping into investigator mode. But both Jensen and Morgan had mentioned something about a case and Mike and Tom were involved, so somebody wasn’t sure it was a simple accident.
“The investigating officers aren’t sure if it’s an accident or...or...” he glanced up, helplessly, at Jared. “The way he was found, his position...”
“Jensen,” he finally gave in and grabbed his shoulder, giving it a firm squeeze. “It’s okay; I think I’ve got the picture.”
He really didn’t. Sure, he had a couple of pieces and an understanding of what was going on but he wasn’t prepared to sit back and watch his friend tear himself apart trying to explain.
Jensen sank lower in the seat and covered his face with his hands. “I told him I wanted out.”
The words were muffled but he could still understand them in the hollow stillness of the parkade, he could still hear the pain and the guilt that was tearing through his friend.
He laughed harshly, the sound close to a sob. “The last thing I told him is that I didn’t love him anymore.”
Jared ignored the voice in the back of his head telling him that what he was thinking was a bad idea and leaned over until he could get his arm around Jensen’s shoulders. He tugged until Jensen’s shoulder was pressed up against his chest. “Jensen you couldn’t know what was going to happen.”
He did an odd twisted curl, that couldn’t be good for his back, until his forehead replaced his shoulder. “The last thing Jay, it was the last thing.”
He shut his eyes against the pain he could hear so clearly and wrapped his free arm around him. He didn’t know what to say, didn’t think there really was anything that could be said to that. He settled on, “Shh Jen.” and just held on.
***Part 1 chap.2