Title: Break Me Apart to Fix the Shattered Pieces of Your Soul part 3
Please seeMaster Post for fic details.
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“Do you remember that freak blizzard we had that last winter in Vancouver?”
Jared glanced up from where he had been staring around Jensen at the blinking machines, wishing he had let the doctor explain what each monitored. He understood why Jensen had declined the explanation though, even if the lack of understanding bugged him. Jensen would obsess over watching the machines; he would make himself practically sick with every blip and would forget everything else, including taking care of himself. As it was, it could only be considered minimal at best.
But he wished he did know, especially now since it seemed like there was no reason for him not to be waking up and yet there he was still not where he was supposed to be. There had been a battery of tests that morning, he had followed Jensen who had followed his body and sat with him while he waited. First for a CAT scan and then an MRI and then the doctor had sent them both back to Jared’s room where he continued with reflex tests and pain tests and other tests that Jared couldn’t even begin to fathom. All he knew for certain was that, at least the tests in his room, the results hadn’t been good. Sticking a pin in the bottom of someone’s foot should wake them up from even the deepest sleep and yet it hadn’t. He didn’t think he’d failed any test that spectacularly, ever.
Forcing himself to pay attention, he focused in on the wistful smile and felt something inside him break a little.
“We had only had Aden for a week and we were finding out hard and fast just how difficult life with a newborn could be.”
Jensen blinked and his eyes lost that faraway look but the smile still remained. “Remember how Aden had just gone down for a nap and you took the dogs out back because they wouldn’t stay outside long enough to even piss because the snow was falling so thick? I kept expecting you to come tromping through the back door bitching about all the snow but it didn’t happen. Remember when I finally went to the back door to see what was taking so long, Harley had knocked you over and all three of you were playing in the snowdrifts made from all the times we had to shovel the deck in just over three hours?”
“You called me an idiot and claimed I was going to catch pneumonia because I had gone out just wearing my sweatshirt and jeans.” He couldn’t stop the wistful smile from forming on his own face.
“There you were in only a sweatshirt and jeans, covered in snow and dog slobber and I was so sure you were going to get sick. But when I tried to tell you that, you jumped up, grabbed me and tossed me into one of the drifts. I was going to kill you.”
Jared laughed, “Until I jumped on top of you and kissed you senseless.”
“Until you pounced on me like one of the damn dogs and shoved your tongue down my throat.” He pulled Jared’s hand up by their entwined fingers and slid his lips back and forth across Jared’s knuckles. “We were both soaked and ready to go by the time we got back inside but Aden started to fuss just as I got that damn wet denim off your freakishly long legs.”
“Kid always did have the worst timing.” Jared grumbled but there really wasn’t any heat behind the words.
“Even with the blue balls from not getting laid and the damn cold, it’s still one of my best memories from Vancouver. Everything just seemed easier back then.”
Jared pushed himself up from the floor and carefully settled on the bed beside his own body. “That was a good day.” He tilted his head down so he could see Jensen’s eyes. “I heated the bottle and made hot chocolate while you went and got Aden and changed his wet diaper. We spent the rest of the afternoon snuggled under a blanket on the couch, trying to thaw out while Aden took turns eating or sleeping on one of us.”
Jensen snorted before he sighed, “I thought it was always going to be like that.”
Jared’s jaw clenched but it was the first time in a long time that it wasn’t in anger. Jensen wasn’t being accusing or demanding anything, his voice was still soft and sad.
“What happened to us Jay?”
It took a second to realize that the sudden lump in his throat was his breath and he almost laughed bitterly because of it. He didn’t need to breath, at least, this version of him didn’t. But the sudden bitterness didn’t stop the little thrill curling in his stomach; Jensen was looking at him, not his body, but him, like he could actually see him.
“Jen...Jensen?” Unconsciously he leaned forward, trying to catch Jensen’s eyes tracking the movement and had to swallow down his scream of anger when Jensen turned to look down at his body beside him.
“I’d give anything to have us back.”
Jared shut his eyes against the burn of tears. It had been a stupid thought. Of course Jensen hadn’t been looking at him, he hadn’t been able to see him this whole time so why had Jared even played with the idea of things being different just because, as it turned out, they both held one specific memory dear was beyond him. He should have known that that wasn’t going to be the magical solution to what had happened to him.
He hadn’t considered that the love remembered in that single memory, the love they both obviously still felt, would be enough to set things right, to set him right.
No not at all.
“If I could, I’d take us back to that time.” He said softly as he sat back. Not really surprised when there wasn’t a flash of blinding light or sharp vertigo twisting his stomach before he found himself pressed back into a pile of cold snow from that day, with Jensen’s warm breath and cool lips trailing across his face. That would have been too surreal, even for him and what was happening to them now. And ultimately too easy of a solution to everything that was going on.
Everything that happened in life happened for a reason, a lesson to be learned and having forewarning of the consequences of his choices wouldn’t really accomplish anything. Yes, he would know what would eventually happen if he made the same choices or if he chose others but they could still end up here, like this, with a chasm of misunderstanding between them only for different reason. Or they could be so much worse off, so it was better this way; he just had to keep telling himself that.
They both jumped as the silence of the room was broken by a soft tapping on the door before it swung open to reveal the bulk of the security guard assigned to Jared’s room.
“Mr. Ackles, there is a Mr. and Mrs. Padalecki here claiming to be Mr. Padalecki’s parents.”
Jared rolled his eyes as Jensen pushed himself up from the chair and stiffly made his way towards the door. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the hospital seemed to think that Jared warranted a security guard, which he damn well knew he didn’t, but it was stupid to him that Jensen was going to have to verify that it really was his parents out in the hall since it was doubtful that someone in the press would go to all the trouble of pretending to be his parents of all people. His brother and Jeff’s wife, maybe, but not his parents. Besides, he wasn’t so well known that he would merit more than a two or three line blurb without so much as his headshot, never mind a candid of him laying in a hospital bed. He wasn’t freakin’ Brad Pitt after all. Which brought him back around to wondering why the security guard in the first place. He couldn’t help but wonder if it was nothing but a cash grab by the hospital, taking advantage of Jensen in his state and vowed silently that if the worst happened then he was damn well sticking around and figuring out how to haunt the administration.
His mother sounded wrecked and he felt his heart plummet again. He had never heard her sound so broken in his life and he was to blame for that. He was the one that had opted to change his flight and come home later. If he hadn’t he wouldn’t have been in that cab and he wouldn’t be where he was.
“Momma P.” Jensen’s voice was low but Jared caught the hint of steel in it. It was obvious to Jared that Jensen had no intention of showing any weakness, probably thought that he had to be strong for everyone else even though no one would blame him for breaking down. But that just wasn’t his Jensen, not to the world outside of him and Aden; only they got to see the real Jensen, the Jensen that wasn’t always on, that wasn’t always in control. Though now that he was thinking about it, he wondered if he could really be counted with Aden among the privileged two anymore.
There had been times when they had been out in public or with friends or family that Jared had thought would have been a disaster because only moments before, Jensen had been snarling at him or distant before they got into the view of others but had done a complete 360 as soon as they were in the open. He had thought that Jensen had decided that whatever had pissed him off just wasn’t worth the strife. Now he wasn’t so sure. Now he had to wonder if Jensen just wasn’t acting the perfect husband even to him.
He watched Jensen enfold his mother into his arms and his body ached to do the same. It wasn’t that he was jealous that it was Jensen giving his mother comfort but that he could while Jared was forced to be nothing more than a silent witness.
It didn’t take long for his mother to slip from Jensen’s grasp and cross the room to his bed. He had to scramble up and out of the way as she sat down exactly where he had been only moments before. He watched her hands flutter above his chest, shoulders and face before she grasped the hand that Jensen had been holding with both of hers.
“Oh Jared.” She sobbed low.
I’m sorry Momma.” He whispered uselessly and stood behind her, his own hands hanging by his sides.
He felt Jensen come up behind him and tensed. He had put himself into a corner of sorts, he couldn’t move forward because of the foot of the bed but he couldn’t step back into Jensen either. All he could do was hope that Jensen went around to the chair that he had been keeping his vigil in and not step into or was it more accurate to say through him?
“The doctor says the swelling is practically gone but he’s still in a coma.” Jensen’s voice was soft but Jared could hear the warring emotions hidden within. Jensen was trying to be strong, to be there for his mom but Jared could hear the little boy pleading to be reassured. The problem was that he didn’t think his mother could and as uncomfortable as it would make Jensen, even he needed to let someone else take some of the weight of his worry and his fear.
“But, at least, he hasn’t gotten any worse.”
Jared saw his mother’s hands tighten around his and he waited for the explosion. He didn’t want her to lose her temper because Jensen was only trying to give her some hope to cling to but he wasn’t sure if she would see it that way. He could because of his position but she had just gotten there, he had only just seen the ugly reality of his situation and if it had been him in her position nothing but good news would make things any easier.
Her shoulders rolled before her grip relaxed, “Well there is that.”
He heard Jensen take a step back and looked over his shoulder in time to catch him rubbing at the back of his neck.
“They only allow two visitors in here at a time.” Jensen kept moving backwards, his discomfort at his own earlier words still evident in his voice. Jared wanted to tell him that it was okay; that he was trying and even if his mom didn’t appear to appreciate the effort, she would once she had time to think about it. Later, after seeing one of her children in a coma in a hospital bed wasn’t so new.
But he couldn’t do that; he couldn’t do anything but stand by uselessly as those he cared most about struggled through.
This was hell.
“I’ll just go so dad P. can come in.”
“Thank you Jensen.” Her shoulders suddenly squared and she twisted her head to pin him with her stare. “When was the last time you were home Jensen? Have you spoken to Aden about all this yet?”
“He knows that Jared’s in the hospital. That there’s been an accident…but I haven’t, it’s just that Jared…” his voice petered out and he gestured towards Jared in the bed. “I need to be here.”
It was quick, a nod of understanding before her head started to shake back and forth. “Your son, Jared’s son, needs you Jensen. Aden needs to be told the truth; he needs his daddy there to do it.” Her voice still held a distant quality that made Jared cringe and Jensen stumble back even quicker.
“But Jay…” He swallowed heavily, “I need to be here.”
“I’m here, his father is here. Go home Jensen.”
He watched Jensen’s eyes darken and recognized the narrowing of his eyes for what it was, there was a blow up coming and Jared couldn’t blame him for it. It was his mama and she might have been making sense but her words were too sharp. He didn’t know where his mama with her sweet words and gentle persuasion had gone but this was not her and this was not the way she should be dealing with Jensen.
“Jen please,” he begged uselessly. “Please don’t. Don’t get angry. Don’t yell at her, please.”
Unexpectedly, Jensen’s shoulders slumped and he nodded slowly. “If anything…if there is any change, call me.” He wiped a shaking hand down his face, “Please.”
Jared’s mother nodded once before she turned back to his still body on the bed.
He didn’t want Jensen to go even though he knew his mother had a point. “I’m sorry,” he muttered and almost reached out before he caught himself and pulled his arm back to his side. “It’ll get better.” Jared promised and felt the urge to scream rise up again. Jensen couldn’t hear him and he was just a useless lost soul that couldn’t help anyone, not even himself.
This really was hell.
Jensen hadn’t wanted to leave Jared’s side but he had to concede that his mother-in-law had a point; he needed to go home and, at least, offer some kind of explanation to Aden. But there was a fear, deep seated and stifling, that if he left the hospital that somehow Jared would know and think that Jensen had left because he didn’t care, that he didn’t love him anymore and was only biding his time until he could pawn him off on someone else. And if that was what he might believe then what would convince him to fight to stay if his family, if Jensen, wasn’t there waiting, hoping, for his return?
A part of him bristled at the thought, there was no possible way that Jared would even think something like that of him. Of course, he knew that Jensen loved him, wanted him with his family.
But how could he be sure? It wasn’t like they had had the best relationship of late.
He tried to shrug off the depressing thoughts as he pulled up the driveway and let the car roll to a gentle stop. He was going to be facing enough accusation from their son, he didn’t need to inflict his own self finger pointing when he knew that Aden would be more than happy to do that for him. But if he was going to be brutally honest, he deserved it. Maybe things had been better before Jared had started accepting parts further and further away from home but Jensen couldn’t blame his deteriorating relationship with Aden on Jared. That was all down to Jensen, he was the one that took his frustration and worry out on Aden when he damn well knew better. That wasn’t Jared, that was all him.
Jensen tightened his fingers around the steering wheel and let his forehead rest against the smooth, warm, rubber. He just needed a minute to center himself before he went into the house because it wasn’t just their son waiting within but Mike too. At least Mike for all he knew there could be others, friends, family and they would all be expecting answers from him, answers he didn’t have.
With a sigh, he let his right hand drop to the keys in the ignition and twisted his wrist, shutting the car off. There was nothing to do now but to climb out of the car and walk into the house.
“Fuck it.” He muttered harshly and forced away the appealing thought of just starting the car and fleeing back to the hospital. There would be no solace there, not now that his in-laws were there. He wasn’t stupid; he knew that Momma P wasn’t happy with him for his less than stellar performance in Jared’s room. At least he could only hope that was the reason. He wasn’t sure if he would be ever able to face her again if it was because Jared had been airing their dirty laundry to her. He never saw any evidence that Momma P was one of those parents that believed that their children could do no wrong but that didn’t mean that she wouldn’t be more sympathetic towards her own son than him and he wasn’t sure he could blame her. It didn’t mean that he was comfortable with it.
Steeling himself for what he was positive was going to be a nasty temper tantrum from Aden and questions he wasn’t ready to answer from Mike, Jensen let himself in the front door.
For the briefest of moments there was absolute silence in the house and he could almost believe that it was empty. But then Mike appeared in the doorway leading from the kitchen into the living room and spotted him at the door.
A myriad of emotions flickered across his friend’s face before Mike seemed to catch himself and his features settled on concern. “Jensen?” Not that he could disguise the fear in his voice.
The fear caught him off-guard, he couldn’t process it because there was no reason for Mike to sound like that. He had nothing to fear from Jensen, it wasn’t like anything that had happened over the last dozen or so hours was his fault.
“Jay...?” He swallowed and his hands clenched into fists at his sides. “Jared, he’s not...he hasn’t...”
Something in Jensen’s tired mind clicked over and suddenly he realized what Mike was thinking, what he was trying to ask.
He blinked as everything came into sharp focus. He should have realized what conclusions Mike would draw. The last time he had spoken to him was hours before and at that time he had told him that he had no intention of coming home until Jared’s condition had changed. And he knew that he couldn’t look like he was the bearer of any type of good news. Of course Mike would assume the worse.
“No!” He shook his head violently, trying to escape the one thought he was trying to avoid. “God no Mike.”
Mike slumped against the doorframe and clutched at his chest. “Jesus Jensen,” he whispered. “You didn’t call and you said you were staying at the hospital and then you suddenly show up...”
“I know, I know. Momma P suggested I come home for a bit and explain what’s going on to Aden.” He hadn’t meant to scare Mike; it was just with fighting with himself over leaving the hospital in the first place, it never even occurred to him to call. But maybe that was part of his problem, he hadn’t been thinking about much of anything past the next hour, the next minute, the next second with Jared. Maybe he needed to pull his shit together a little better especially if Jared didn’t improve, if he... He was going to have to be there for Aden and he was in no condition to even consider dealing with their son in the state he was in.
He blinked Mike back into focus and grit his teeth. Mike was staring at him expectantly but Jensen had no idea what he was waiting for and that was a glaringly red warning sign. Shit like that, him fading out of what was going on around him, was going to have to come to an end. It had been one thing when he had been alone with Jared but an entirely different thing when he had no choice but to deal with everyone else.
“I’m sorry what?”
Mike didn’t seem fazed that Jensen hadn’t been listening to him and he couldn’t decide if he was grateful or annoyed.
“I said, so Jared’s mom is in town?”
He opened his mouth to remind Mike that Jared’s parents had said that they would be in town by morning but managed to catch himself just in time. He had spoken to Jared’s parents after Mike and hadn’t even considered calling him back to let him know. It should have been forefront in his mind since it was a given that they would be staying at the house and the sheets in the spare room needed to be changed and the room aired.
It was just another example of how much he wasn’t thinking of anything past Jared. “Both his parents.”
Mike was nodding thoughtfully, “Okay. What needs to be done before they get here?”
Jensen felt a, not totally, unexpected swell of emotion for his friend. To the outside world, Mike was the consummate fun guy, always up and ready to hang out with friends or the mastermind behind the practical joke and with a ready smile for a friend, a fan or a stranger, a lot like Jared actually. But when push came to shove, he was also one of the first people that could be depended on with a ready hand and a clear mind.
“The guest bedroom needs to be aired out and the sheets changed.” Jensen ran a hand through his hair, “I should check what we have to eat around here. We would have gone to pick up groceries yesterday...” He let his voice trail off, But I was at the hospital with Jared.
The ugly truth of the matter was that he probably would have made Jared go by himself or maybe sent Aden with him. The kid was always a handful in the grocery store and because Jared was rarely home, he wasn’t good at handling Aden in a grocery store full of samples to run and grab. And maybe Jensen had been considering on Friday that sending Jared and Aden together to the grocery store would be his passive aggressive way of getting back at him for not coming home on time, again.
But he kept that thought locked down tight because the innate fear of having to admit to his, their, friend that his and Jared’s relationship was anything but good and Jensen had been considering being a bastard was something he just couldn’t do. And worse, there was the fear that Mike would find fault only with Jensen.
It wasn’t like he hadn’t had hours of silence to consider that maybe it was all him. Maybe he was to blame for all their problems. Maybe he was being too hard on Jared expecting him to accept work closer to home only. For not understanding that, like Mike, Jared was someone that could be depended on when someone needed help. That it was Jared’s nature to be the dependable one outside of the range of the camera. That maybe it was all on Jensen for not keeping that in mind and appreciating the precious time he and Jared and Aden could steal to be together.
“I’ll take care of it.” Mike swore and flashed a small but reassuring smile.
He wanted to smile back and say thank-you but he couldn’t expect Mike to take care of everything for him, it wasn’t right. “I can’t expect you to do that, just putting your own life on hold and staying here with Aden is a huge help. I can’t ask you to do more.”
Rolling his eyes, Mike took a step forward and made a half-hearted threatening gesture. “Don’t make me smack the back of your head.”
“No Jensen.” He closed the distance between them but instead of the threatened smack, he settled his hand on Jensen’s shoulder and squeezed. “You’d do the same for me.”
He had to concede the point but it was much easier to offer assistance than to accept it. But it couldn’t be ignored that it would be simpler and quicker if he let Mike deal with the mundane shit so he could deal with the harder things.
Mike took a step back and raised his hands placatingly, “Don’t thank me yet.”
A red flag went up in the back of his mind and an image of Aden flashed behind his eyes. Aden had been more than vocal in his displeasure at Jensen for not letting him come to the hospital to see Jared and at Jensen just on principle alone. He could well imagine what kind of hell Aden had been putting Mike through, favourite uncle or not.
“I know Aden can be a little intense when the mood strikes.” He shrugged apologetically, “I know I owe you big time.”
Mike tilted his head from one side to the other a couple times before he grinned briefly. “Yeah, you do.”
“Whatever you need Mike.” He promised, ignoring the little niggle in the back of his mind. Mike could come up with the most insane schemes and he usually needed help pulling them off. Jensen could only hope that his next plan didn’t involve someone in drag. Mike still liked to pass around the picture of Tom in a black strapless number at parties. “I should probably go talk to him. Is he in his room?”
“Before you do, you need to know that everyone and their dog has been calling here.”
He hadn’t said anything when Jensen had called but then it had still been relatively early the morning before and even though the newshounds were already at the door didn’t mean that their friends and family had been up and paying attention to celebrity news. But they would have heard by now one way or another and like he and mom and dad Padalecki, they would want to know what was going on, what could be expected.
He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket and the fingers of his right hand curled around his cell. When he had powered it back on after leaving the hospital he had briefly glanced at the notifications for twenty seven messages and thirteen texts. His only thought on them had been that of the reporters outside of the front of the hospital, not that the calls and texts would be from friends and family. Though to be fair, even if his mind had been clear and it would have occurred to him that the calls had been from people that he actually would want to speak to, he still wouldn’t have checked the messages or returned the calls. Until he was back at the hospital and at Jared’s side, he wasn’t going to tie-up his cell phone for any reason.
Still he should probably give enough of a damn to find out who he was going to owe grovelling apologies to because he sure as hell wasn’t going to take the time to try and reassure anyone else now. “Okay, who?”
“Well your parents for starters.”
Ah shit. Other than Jared’s parents, his parents had deserved a call. They loved Jared just as much as he did. His mother was going to send him on a guilt trip that he was going to have to pack a bag for.
Mike smiled apologetically, “If it’s any consolation, your mother said that she understands that with everything going on that it slipped your mind to call home. But that she would like you to call as soon as possible so that they are up to date on Jared’s condition.”
Translation, either Jensen called his mother within the next couple hours or it wouldn’t just be the Padaleckis he would be sharing his house with. He loved his family but there was no way in hell he would be able to deal with his mother’s hovering, no matter how well meaning it was.
Now the question was, which was the less difficult road, dealing with Aden or his mother?
“Christian has called nine times and has gotten more vocal on waiting to talk to you.”
Jensen caught the slight shake of Mike’s hands. Christian was the only one of their friends that Mike didn’t mess with, maybe out of respect, maybe out of fear, Christian could be a little intense, but probably a combination of both. He could well imagine exactly what choice words Christian had reverted to the more frustrated he got.
Okay, so now he had to figure out who was going to be the hardest to deal with out of three people. His day was just getting better and better.
“Who else?” He sighed.
“Chad seven times, Steve six, Sophia, Sandy, Danneel, Eric, Tom, Jim Beaver and a slew of others once each.” Mike rubbed a hand over the top of his head, “And a couple of reporters.”
“Of course.” He grumbled and tightened his fingers around his cell.
“I...uh...told everyone,” Mike glanced away and rubbed at his head again before making eye contact once more. “Except for the reporters, of course, what you told me.”
For a professional actor, Mike was shit at hiding what he was thinking or feeling from his friends when he was under stress. It was obvious that he was nervous that Jensen was going to be pissed but that was ridiculous. Mike had given their friends and family the truth as best as he knew it. It was a damn sight better than leaving them with the speculations, half-assed conclusions and the bits of truth that the reporters had gleaned from so called sources that always seemed to come out of the woodwork at times like this.
“That’s good Mike.”
He hadn’t heard Aden come down the stairs but he really wasn’t surprised. At least that was one less decision he had to make, and really after this, dealing with his mother and Christian, and he should probably call Chad, would be a cakewalk.
“I’m just gonna run downstairs and start on the guest room.”
Jensen glanced from his son’s angry and expectant face to Mike’s sympathetic one. “Again, thanks.”
Mike tipped him a quick salute before disappearing back into the kitchen and, presumably, the basement stairs.
“Come sit down Aden.” He didn’t bother to turn back but instead let his tired body pull him to the couch.
“Where is dad?”
Jensen sighed and swallowed down the flare of anger. Aden was angry, angry at him and he had a certain amount of right to be because of Jensen’s less then stellar parenting skills over the last few years. There was a small part of him that hurt that Aden didn’t hold any anger towards Jared but he tried to push it away. Feelings like that weren’t going to help the situation. Of course, neither was Aden’s attitude but he was only an eight year old boy and Jensen was a full grown adult, one of them had to keep in control of his emotions and the situation and it definitely wasn’t going to be Aden.
“Aden please sit down.” He ensured that his voice remained soft and even.
“I don’t want to sit down. I want to know what’s happened to dad.”
“Aden!” He snarled and then took a deep breath. “I’m trying to explain that to you, so if you would please sit down.”
Aden’s jaw snapped closed and his eyes narrowed in challenge. Jensen waited for the eventual blowup but to his surprise, Aden let out a huff before throwing himself into the armchair across from the couch.
“Fine I’m sitting.” He grumbled mutinously, “So can you please tell me what’s happened to dad.”
1, 2, 3, 4, 5... Jensen took another deep breath to settle the anger simmering just under the surface. When he was fairly certain that he wouldn’t be snarling again, he took a second deep breath and let the words out that he had been rehearsing since he had first left the hospital.
“The taxi dad was in was in an accident.”
Aden went instantly pale and his wide hazel eyes filled with tears. “Is he...is dad...” He swayed forward and only Jensen’s quick reflexes stopped him from landing face first on the floor. He was across the room on his knees and was pushing Aden against the back of the chair by the grip he had on his shoulders.
“No Aden. No.” He shook his head and ducked forward until he could meet his son’s eyes. “But he’s hurt pretty bad.” He took another steadying breath, this was the part he had been dreading. It wasn’t that he didn’t think an eight year old could understand but he was an eight year old and he shouldn’t have to hear this. Hell Jensen shouldn’t have to know, he shouldn’t have to deal with the knowledge and he was way beyond childhood. And Jared shouldn’t be in the hospital, in the situation he was in. But Aden, Aden really shouldn’t have to deal with it at all, any of it.
“He got banged up badly. He’s got a couple of broken ribs, they had to remove a kidney and his right eye got cut up by glass.”
“But he’s going to be okay, right?” Aden was staring down at him, a look of horror combined with hope clear on his face. Jensen didn’t want to crush that hope but he didn’t doubt for a minute that his next words would practically kill it.
“They don’t know Aden.” He admitted softly, “Jared, dad, hit his head against the side of the taxi really hard. Really, really hard and it means that there was some brain swelling.” He swallowed heavily; this was the part he would give his soul to not have to explain. “And even though it’s gone down, he’s in a coma Aden.”
Aden twisted his thin fingers into the worn material of Jensen’s Henley. “Dad, please I want to see my dad. Please.”
His heart cracked at how broken their son sounded but he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t going to let Aden see Jared laying in a hospital bed attached to tubes and wires. Especially if the worst happened and it ended up being his last memory. He knew he was thinking like a fatalist but until Jared was awake and aware, he wasn’t taking the risk, he just wasn’t.
“I told you Aden, I can’t.” He tightened his grip on his son’s shoulders when he felt Aden go tense and still. “The hospital won’t allow it.”
A signal tear rolled down his cheek. “Please.”
He had to stick by his conviction, he had to. He wasn’t being a bastard; Jared wouldn’t want their son seeing him like that.
“Dad’s in ICU Aden. They don’t allow children in the ICU.”
“But if you explained, I’m sure...”
Jensen clenched his teeth, “No Aden. I’m sorry.”
The blowup he had been expecting all along finally came and it was only his foreknowledge that it was a given that it would happen that saved Jensen from a foot to the head when Aden shook out of his grasp and pushed over the side of the chair.
“I have a right to see my dad.” He yelled as he glared down at him, his body shaking in anger and his fists were clenched against his hips.
“I said no Aden.” He repeated low and slowly pushed up to his feet. He didn’t want to appear confrontational. He didn’t want to fight with Aden; he didn’t want to make this harder for either of them.
“That’s not fair!” He screamed, “What if it’s my last chance? What if he...” Aden’s voice stuttered before his chin jutted out, “he dies?”
It was like a punch to the gut. He had danced around that particular word in relation to Jared for hours and to hear it said so bluntly stole his breath away. But he couldn’t back down, not on this.
“No.” He kept his voice as level as he could. “I’m sorry but the answer is no.”
“Dad never would have been in an accident if it wasn’t for you.” He spat low, his eyes narrowed to slits and he bared his teeth.
I know! He yelled back but silently, there was no way he would say that out loud and give Aden anymore ammunition then he already had. “Aden, I’m sorry.”
“If dad dies and I didn’t get to say goodbye, I’ll never forgive you.” Aden broke down sobbing.
“Aden, son...” He took a step towards him but Aden spun on his heel and fled from the room.
Jensen sank down on the chair Aden had been in and covered his face with his hands. He had pretty much known how this conversation was going to go but he had foolishly hoped that this would somehow bring them together, not tear them further apart.
It wouldn’t be like this if he had just been a little more understanding of Jared and a little more in control of his emotions around Aden.
Or if it was him laying in that hospital bed.
He just knew it.
The thought of going home with Jensen had almost been too much to abandon. To get to see his son, their son, maybe for the last time had burned through him. It had been enough of a pull that he hadn’t even realized that he had subconsciously started following Jensen out of the room. But before he actually slipped through the door a sharp tingling flooding his body made him pull up short.
Even as his chest constricted and he gave into the urge to gasp for breath, Jared knew it wasn’t something supernatural that caused the spike of fear-fuelled adrenalin to flood his veins. He could leave the room, leave his body behind, he had already proven that but what he hadn’t tested was leaving the hospital. What if he couldn’t? What would it mean? And if he could, could he get back?
Jared couldn’t decide if it was an irrational fear or not. But the thought of straying so far from his own body, from the tangible proof that he had been more than what he was now, was too much to bear. The thought that if he slipped away that it would be like screaming that he was done, was ready to let go and his body would just stop. He wasn’t ready for that and probably wouldn’t ever be, but he would be more willing to accept it in thirty or forty years. Not now. Not when there was so much to work at making right.
But that left him with staying there with his parents and that was almost too much to bear.
With Jensen it had been different, an atonement of sorts. He was still angry, he still felt like Jensen had never listened to him, that he didn’t want to hear anything he had to say if it didn’t fall in line with what Jensen wanted. But he was slowly beginning to realize that maybe Jensen felt the same way.
With his parents it was different. All they ever wanted from him was that he was happy and healthy and at the moment he was neither. But at least he could content himself with the knowledge that they only knew that he had failed one of their expectations. He had never told them about how things had disintegrated between himself and Jensen. He was sure his momma suspected something, as things had gotten worse between him and Jensen over the years she had started dropping hints, reminding him that she was always there to talk to if he ever needed an ear. But he couldn’t, he hadn’t been able to face his and Jensen’s problems himself, how was he supposed to explain them to her?
He watched from the sidelines as his mother held his limp hand while staring into his closed eyes, her face closed down, as if she could keep her feelings to herself. As if he didn’t know her or his father didn’t know her, but he couldn’t call her on it and his dad seemed inclined to stay at the foot of the bed, tight lipped and pale.
“It’s gonna be…” his voice petered out and he ran a hand through his hair in frustration. What was the point? He couldn’t tell them he was going to be okay because how in the hell was he supposed to know, especially considering the way things were. How could it be okay when he was able to watch them watch his body for Christ sake?
“Jensen,” his father cleared his throat when he saw his mother’s shoulders tense. He shook his head and took a deep breath. “Sherri it’s not his fault you know. Jensen can’t be expected to haul Aden out of bed to run after Jared every time he comes home.”
Her head whipped around and she glared at him, “So you’re saying it’s Jared’s fault for this.” One of her hands waved, erratically at his still body before returning to gripping Jared’s hand tightly.
“No! Good God no. But it’s not Jensen’s fault either. It was just a stupid accident. A stupid, random accident that nobody could have seen coming.” He had kept his voice low but Jared didn’t miss the tremble in it. He wasn’t sure if it was because his dad was close to breaking down or losing his temper.
Jared didn’t know and didn’t want to know. He just wished he could make it stop before, whatever this was, really got going.
“Dad please.” He whispered, though what he was begging for he wasn’t sure. To make this whole situation nothing more than a nightmare, or to make his mother stop blaming Jensen or maybe just to hear him and tell him how to get out of this mess. Maybe all three.
Sherri turned away with a huff to go back to staring at his body and Jerry shut his eyes and turned his face upwards as if looking for guidance.
“This is on me.” Jared murmured quietly, looking between the two. “Jensen did nothing wrong. He wanted me to come home on time but I didn’t. It’s my fault, mine.”
His back hit the wall by the door and he let himself slide down until he was sitting with his knees up at his chest with his arms locked around them. “I’m so, so sorry.”