Title: Feelings Are Good And Other Lies Epilogue
Please see Master Post for fic details.
Jared stared down at the sweating half empty bottle of beer between his hands and shook his head.
He still wasn’t sure how he had gotten to this point.
No, that wasn’t true, he had been racing to this point since that day eleven and a half years before when Agent Harmon of the F.B.I. had shown up at the juvenile detention center in San Antonia and tried to scare him into testifying against his family, only Jared hadn’t realized it then.
At seventeen he had still been fiercely loyal to Jeff even if he already had his suspicions regarding the truth as to why his brother had murdered their father. At twenty, he knew the truth even if Jeff never admitted it and his loyalty had shifted but it still belonged to the family, only it was those not cursed with the Padalecki moniker that he was choosing to protect, Chad, Mike, Jim, Sam, the people he considered family.
At almost twenty-eight he no longer held any loyalty to any of them, not after the part they each played in destroying his life.
He felt no guilt for contacting Agent Harmon and telling him that he was will to testify against all of the Padalecki family or turning over all the incriminating documents he could find in Jeff’s, his, office. Or any guilt for telling him to search Jim Beaver’s private home where there should be more.
He hadn’t done it because he had killed his brother or Jeff’s whore, Alexis, and was in fear of going to prison. He hadn’t even done it because he feared that he would be murdered next so someone else could become head of the family. He had done it because he wanted it over. He had never wanted to be a part of the Padalecki family nor did he want to spend the rest of his life living on the run, using a different name, always looking over his shoulder and never allowing himself to get close to anyone.
Jared had done it because he was tired and had expected to go to prison for what he had done. He had murdered two people in cold blood and he admitted to it without remorse.
What he hadn’t expected was for the government to give him a deal.
Turned out that it was true, even murders could get away with it if they turned in bigger fish and what was bigger than one of the largest crime families in the States? Instead of going to prison, he was given a new identity including a false background in security services with the training to back it up and enough income to set up his own business.
They had even given him a choice of a couple different places in the States to start over. Looking back at it now, Jared was certain he had chosen wrong.
Oh sure, so many months before he had chosen Las Vegas because there was less of a chance for anyone from his old life recognizing him there. No matter what Jeff had let himself believe, Vegas was still closely monitored for organized crime activity so as long as Jared didn’t stray too far into the outskirts where the rumors ran that off-shoots of some of the families ran small time bars and gambling halls, he would be safe.
Or as safe as he could be as a marked man.
It had been easy back then to convince himself that that was the only reason he had chosen Vegas even if there had been that little part of him that had laughed bitterly at the time. But the ugly truth was that he had come back to Vegas hoping to see Jensen or, more to the point, be seen by him.
Jared could admit that he was a glutton for punishment.
He never saw Jensen during any of the trials but that wasn’t all that surprising. Witnesses were never allowed in the courtroom and chances were they had kept Jensen hidden just like they had him. The only good thing was that Jared had seen Christian, Steve and Sophia in the gallery and they had heard his testimony, and even if he never saw Jensen again, at least he knew that his ex-husband would know the truth about who he was and why he had hidden it.
Jared only wished he could have been the one to tell him.
But maybe it was better this way, it was like fate or destiny or the powers that be had decreed that this was Jared’s punishment. To let him live in the same city as Jensen but never see him.
Of course he could go to Jensen, it wasn’t like he didn’t know where Jensen was but every time he turned towards the strip he couldn’t make himself move forward.
Jared glanced down at the wedding band still adorning his finger, his love for Jensen might have been real, was still real, but it was the only truth he had ever shared with Jensen. Everything else he had told him had been a half-truth or an out and out lie and that was not something to base a relationship on, even if he had thought he had done it for the best. Besides, he was in the witness protection program because he had ratted out the Padalecki family and given what little information he could find about the Morgan family in Washington and he couldn’t risk Jensen by dragging him down into the mess of his life, not again.
Still, being this close he could keep tabs on Jensen, even if it was only through the gossip section of the local papers and maybe someday he would read that Jensen had finally learned to trust again and had moved on. It was what they both deserved, Jensen happiness and Jared the knowledge that he deserved losing it because he hadn’t told Jensen the truth about him in the first place.
“Hiding here while the wife is out shopping the strip?”
Jared’s head snapped around and he choked on his breath at the sight of the man leaning against the bar beside him. After months of only seeing his ex-husband in grainy black and white photos, it was heaven and hell to see him in person.
The small, occasional picture didn’t do Jensen any justice. The last time Jared had seen him, he was cuffed to that damn bed in a pair of boxers and a t-shirt that were grungy from constant wear, dark circles under his eyes and even from across the room, it was easy to see he had lost weight. He looked a thousand times better now. His eyes were clear and bright, no dark circles marring the skin underneath them, he had put on most of the weight he had lost during his ordeal, and most importantly he had a small smile on his face. A small smile on his face and he was looking directly at Jared.
Jared had to force himself to blink, afraid that Jensen standing there looking at him with anything but hate on his face was nothing more than a figment of Jared’s desperate imagination.
The smile didn’t falter but Jensen raised an eyebrow at Jared’s continued silence.
“N…no.” Jared finally managed to whisper, his words just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the jukebox on the other side of the room. “No wife.”
Jensen nodded before he shifted and sat down on the barstool next to Jared’s. “Heineken.” He ordered as the bartender came over before turning his attention back to Jared. “Husband then. Cool.”
He couldn’t grasp what was happening. Jensen was acting close to the same way he had the first night they met, like he was interested in Jared and wanted to know more about him. But Jensen knew Jared, knew more than Jared, himself, had ever told him so Jared couldn’t understand what he was doing.
“Umm…yeah?” He managed, too worried that if he said anything more or asked just what the hell Jensen was playing at that Jensen would get up and leave and that was the last thing he wanted.
He chuckled as he pulled out a five from his pocket and handed over to the bartender, waving off his change. “You don’t sound so sure there.”
If Jared hadn’t been staring at him, he would have missed the way Jensen’s shoulders tensed and he shot a nervous glance at Jared out of the corner of his eye before touching the bottle to his lips and taking a longer pull then Jared was used to seeing him do.
Fuck it. He thought, he still didn’t understand what Jensen wanted or why he was doing it this way but Jared couldn’t just keep sitting there with his mouth hanging open and looking like an idiot.
“I’ve made some mistakes.” He looked from Jensen’s profile to the bottle still clutched tightly in his own hands. “Pretty big ones. Thought I was doing the right thing but now I’m not so sure that everything I did was done right.”
Unexpectedly, Jensen’s shoulder knocked against his, “Still married though. That’s a good sign.”
His body went cold then hot as anger started to build in his temples. Jensen knew he wasn’t married anymore, he was sure his father-in-law, ex father-in-law, had rushed right over to the hotel to present the paperwork to Jensen, probably had a bottle of champagne in the other hand. “What?” He snapped, his anger drowning out the voice that was trying to remind him to stay calm. He wanted Jensen there but if Jensen was only there to punish him then he would rather Jensen would just hit him and be done with it.
Jensen’s eyes fluttered shut and his body stiffened, “I said,” he swiveled the stool so that he was facing Jared and raised his shaking left hand, the dim bar lights glinting off the wedding band, “You’re still married though. That’s a good sign.”
Jared’s lungs were burning and it took a second for it to sink in that he was holding his breath, gasping in a harsh breath he looked from the ring to Jensen’s face and then back. “But…I…your dad…the paperwork…”
His hand fell to rest on the bar between them and he stared at it for a long moment before he finally looked up to meet Jared’s eyes. “I didn’t sign it.” He gave a jerky shrug and looked like he was ready to bolt but was forcing himself to stay where he was.
Heart pounding painfully in his chest, Jared slowly laid his hand along the bar so that their fingertips were touching. “Why…why not?”
Jensen looked at their hands before he shrugged again, “I needed an explanation. Told myself I would sign it once I hunted you down and got one from you. Then the night of the charity ball happened…”
“I thought I was protecting you.” Jared ducked his head so that they were eye to eye, “I left to protect you.”
He nodded, “I heard. Christian told me what you said during Chad’s trial.”
“I should have told you.” He leaned further forward, unconsciously slipping his fingers further along Jensen’s. “But…how do I explain…my…my family, Jensen.” He sighed and sat back, only then noticing that his fingertips were now resting on Jensen’s knuckles but didn’t pull away. “How do I explain that?”
Jensen looked up at him, “I don’t know.” He answered honestly, “and I would like to say that I understand and I want to,” He ran his free hand through his hair, “But when we decided on forever…you should have said. I had a right to know.”
Jared could concede that Jensen needed to know more than what Jared had ever given him. Looking back he knew he wouldn’t have told him the complete truth but he could have given him something. Told him that his family weren’t good people and that Jared had been running from them for years. He knew Jensen would have pushed for more and maybe that would have been the motivation he would have needed to contact Agent Harmon, he had already proven to himself that Jensen was worth betraying everyone he ever knew, chances were he would have done it then.
“I know.” He whispered and had to clear his throat when it started to clog up. He wasn’t going to cry, he had done enough of that in the privacy of his hotel room that the feds had kept him locked in during the trials.
“If…if you could…” Jensen huffed out a breath and looked away.
“I would have told you.” Jared admitted, “Not all at once but it would have come out.”
Jensen turned back and studied him silently for so long that Jared had to fight down the urge to fidget. “Come home.”
He was certain that his hearing was playing tricks on him because he could not have heard what he thought he heard. “Wh…what?”
“It’s not going to be easy and things aren’t good yet but…” Jensen flipped his hand over and curled his fingers around Jared’s hand. “I love you Jared and I know what you said in that court room. I know you love me and I think we deserve a chance.”
He wanted to, God but he wanted to but Jensen needed to understand that Jared was more trouble now then he was when they first met and personally, he didn’t believe he was worth the effort. If he didn’t believe that of himself, how could Jensen possibly think so if he knew what they would be facing?
“I’m in witness protection Jensen. It’s not just the remnants of my family looking for me anymore but every family will be hunting for me. I’m a rat and that’s never going to change.” The words felt like daggers digging into his heart but he couldn’t do this to Jensen, not again.
“I know.” Jensen smiled small, “But I don’t care.”
How could he not care about that? Was he clinically insane? “You have to care.”
Jensen’s face hardened, “I never took off my band Jared. I never signed the papers. You are still and always will be my husband even though I never thought I’d see you again. And yet here you are in Vegas and I only know that because Steve saw you come in here while he was driving home. I get why you didn’t contact me, I do but you are still my husband and I will stand by you through this because you’re still wearing your ring too. So answer me this, are you wearing it to keep people away or do you still want to be married to me?”
It was official Jensen was clinically insane. “Yes, but…”
“But nothing.” He tugged on Jared’s wrist as he stood, “Come home.”
Jared let himself be pulled to his feet and allowed a little hope flicker to life inside him. If Jensen was insane so was Jared because he was going to do this even though he knew he shouldn’t. Still he had to give him one more chance to walk away.
“Look,” Jensen stepped up to him so that their chests were brushing, “I love you. Do you love me?”
Helpless to do anything but answer honestly, Jared touched Jensen’s cheek with his free hand, “Always.”
“Then let’s go home.”
How was he supposed to keep fighting when Jensen wasn’t taking no for an answer and Jared really wanted to go with him?
Jared let Jensen lead him out of the bar and around back toward where his Escalade was parked. He’d go with Jensen because Jared loved him and there was nowhere else he really wanted to be but this time he would stay vigilant. If the time came when there was a threat to either of them, Jared would tell Jensen and they would find a way to take care of it, together.