Title: Feelings Are Good And Other Lies pt.4
Please see Master Post for fic details
Jensen groaned and then winced when the sound rattled around in his throbbing head. Where the hell had the hangover come from? He knew he hadn’t really drank much of anything at the ball and, yeah okay, he had been pissed off when he left but that no way in hell had he come back to the suite and drank the contents of his liquor cabinet dry. Unless, maybe Steve and Christian had been waiting for him to come back and the three of them had gotten drunk? It was plausible and it would account for the lack of memory and the pounding in his head but it just didn’t seem right. Why would they be waiting for him back at the suite unless Sophia had called them and told them that he had ditched her at the ball. And if she had called them, it was more likely they would be there waiting to beat the shit out of him for doing it, not handing him a glass of something and toasting him.
He groaned again as he shifted slightly and his head and back protested the movement. Great, hung over and he hadn’t moved once he hit the mattress so his back had stiffened up to boot, just great.
Taking a deep breath he started move carefully, intending to sit up and then open his eyes once the world stopped spinning only he didn’t get far. Pain blossomed in his left hand and his right arm wouldn’t move from being stretched out at his side. Eyes snapping open, he glanced towards his right arm and spotted the handcuffs, one bracelet wrapped around his wrist and the other hooked around one of the thick slats of the wooden headboard. And then slowly he swiveled his head to look at his left hand, eyes catching on the I.V. tube feeding a clear liquid into him from the needle in the back of his hand.
What the hell? This wasn’t his bed. Glancing around and taking in the bare room, mold spotted cream painted walls and the boarded over window he swallowed heavily. This wasn’t his room.
Heart pounding in his chest, he searched his foggy memories trying to figure out what had happened. Leaving the charity ball was clear as was choosing to drive the side streets a few blocks off of the strip instead of fighting traffic on the strip and then…he blinked. There had been a girl, said she was a tourist and her rental had broken down. He blew out a disgusted breath and instead of doing the smart thing, he had tried to bluff his way through looking over her motor and she had drugged him with something.
A part of him wanted to believe that this was something that Steve and Christian had dreamed up as revenge for being an asshole to them since Jared had left but he couldn’t make the thought hold true. If they wanted to make him pay they would have gotten him drunk and left him with nothing but his boxers out in the desert a couple miles from his father’s home, wouldn’t be the first time. Not get some little blonde to drug him and drag him off to God knew where.
His breath caught in his throat when a shrill squeal echoed through the house from somewhere on the other side of the closed door of his prison. He wasn’t sure if it was his heartbeat pounding in his temples or footsteps coming closer and he had to swallow the bile rising up to choke him. Whatever was going on, he wasn’t going to show fear.
“There hasn’t been any kind of real mob presence in Vegas since ’86.” The reassurance for Jared echoing through his mind and he knew it was true. Every year, regardless who was mayor, they were also crowing over how the Vegas police force was keeping organized crime out of the city and how safe it was now. Only what if it wasn’t as true as they wished it were? There were rumors, there were always rumors, that the mob hadn’t really left Vegas only shifted to running off-strip betting halls, strip clubs and bars. It wasn’t that Jensen really doubted them but it was easier not to think about it when it wasn’t in your face.
He took a shuddering breath and tried to calm the shaking of his limbs. It didn’t matter if any of the families were still working the fringes of Vegas, he hadn’t done anything to cross them and there was no reason for them to do this. But then again, he couldn’t think of anybody he had personally crossed that would do this…whatever this was.
“No more horse tranq.” A male voice hissed outside the door, a voice that pinged in his mind. He had heard that voice before but he couldn’t drag up a face to go with it. “It can’t be good for him.”
There was an indelicate and very feminine snort, “You, worried about pretty boy in there. You?”
“Fuck you Katie.” The guy snarled back, “Something happens to him before Alexis gets here and it’s our asses in a sling.”
A key clicked in the lock of the door and it started to swing open, “No worries Chad. I’m not giving him enough to…”
Jensen met the eyes of the guy who had asked Sophia to dance at the charity ball and he growled low in his chest. “What did you do to Sophia?”
A woman with long blonde hair spun around and glared at him. Her blue eyes and face instantly snapping into place in his mind, the stranded tourist. “Well, well sleeping beauty awakes.”
He ignored the jibe; his friends had called him worse over the years so her pathetic barb barely made a ping on his radar. He kept his eyes locked with the guy, Chad, and bared his teeth. Granted, he wasn’t really in any condition to fight anyone, even though he could sit up or would be able to once his head stopped spinning and his heart stopped trying to pound out of his chest but the cuff on his right wrist would stop him from really doing anything useful. “Where is Sophia?”
“She’s fine.” Chad finally answered as he stepped into the room and got close enough to the bed to peer in the dim light from the bald dirty bulb hanging from the ceiling at the bag of clear liquid hanging beside the bed. “Back in Vegas, none the wiser as to what happened to you then anyone else.”
“And I should believe you why?”
“Because you don’t have a choice?” The woman, Katie, smiled sweetly at him before she sneered, “It’s you we want and you we got.”
Jensen glanced between the two of them, trying to decide if they were telling the truth and growled again when he really couldn’t. Not that there was anything he could do the way he was.
“What do you want?”
“From you?” The woman shrugged, “Nothing. But our boss has business with your father and you are his leverage.”
He huffed out a brittle laugh; of course, his father had been screwing with his life since day one, why would this be any different.
“What kind of business?” He didn’t expect an answer but it never hurt to ask.
“Not our story to tell.” The guy shrugged before glancing down at him. “You’ve been out for a couple days, how you feeling? Hungry? Need to take a piss?”
A couple of days? Holy shit! They had kept him drugged up for a couple of days. Jesus Christ his friends must have been frantic by now. It didn’t miss his attention that he didn’t count his father among those worried for him but if his kidnappers were telling the truth, he would already know, if not where Jensen was, who had him.
Gingerly he shifted his legs under the sheet finally realizing that he was naked and quickly pushed the question of which one of them had stripped him from his mind. His stomach was already rolling he didn’t want to weigh the choices of which of them he would have preferred to see him that vulnerable. Other than feeling a little shaky when he bent his legs at the knee and placed his bare feet flat on the bed, they were okay. He really couldn’t do much with his arms but they didn’t feel funny and after a quick internal search, other than the feeling of being hung over, headache and nausea both, he was pretty sure he was no worse for wear. At least until he shifted and something pulled from the inside of his dick.
His face must have paled because Chad looked on sympathetically, “Had to do the catheter.”
Fuck, could this get any worse? “I could use something to drink. Water maybe?”
For all he knew, it could be drugged but he didn’t really have a choice. He needed to keep his strength up in case the opportunity arose for him to get out of there. How was something he hadn’t had time to figure out, but he wasn’t going to just lay around and wait for whatever business his father had with them to conclude. He wasn’t stupid, he had seen their faces, chances were, no matter how his father’s dealings ended, he wasn’t getting out of there unless it was in a body bag.
Chad nodded and walked out of the room, Katie following behind, closing and locking the door behind her.
“Well fuck.” He hissed and turned to stare up at the water stained ceiling, mind spinning.
It was the only word that could possibly explain Jared. Seven days and he was still in the same motel room in the same little Podunk town five miles from the border between Nevada and Arizona. And every night he would promise himself that tomorrow he would move on.
Then the next morning would dawn bright and early, he’d go out, walk to the dinner half a block away, everything was, at the most, half a block away, and then return to his shit hole of a room. Once there he would convince himself that he should take a nap until late morning before heading out, that way he could drive well into the night without having to worry about stopping again. Problem was, he’d wake up later then he meant to since he’d only gotten a good couple of hours of restful sleep the night before and put off leaving for another day.
But not today.
Making sure that he had no option but to sleep for more than two hours, he had bought a fifth of cheap rot gut whiskey, chasing it down with four bottles of the six pack of beer he purchased at the same time and passed out. Trying to think through the pounding of his head, Jared could admit that maybe it hadn’t been his best idea ever but since he seemed to be making nothing but bad decisions leading to bad ideas recently, it stood to reason that something that sounded so good the night before was actually really fucking bad.
Still he had gotten more sleep then usual of late and he was going to follow through with his grand plan even if he didn’t manage to go much farther than the first town across the border. Which was why he was standing behind one of the townies waiting patiently, mostly patiently, to pay for the full tank of gas in his car so he could finally get gone, while the old man counted out his loose change to pay for a cup of coffee.
Come on. He groaned silently and then winced when the words seemed to echo in his head, jagged and scraping against every single nerve in his brain. Pushing his sunglasses higher up his nose, he glanced around, trying to find something, anything that would capture his attention and take his mind off the marching band behind his eyes.
Eyes settling on the stand of newspapers, none of which were printed in town, his whole body jolted and he could help but thank God that the smell of burnt coffee had turned his stomach and he hadn’t gone for a cup. Had he, he was pretty sure he would be wearing it by now but even that thought paled in comparison to the grainy black and white photo staring back at him from the front page of the Las Vegas Sun.
Gaze snapping from the picture of Jensen staring back at him to the caption he felt his heart stop and the blood in his veins freeze.
Mystery of Missing Heir’s Disappearance Deepens.
Legs feeling like lead, Jared forced himself around the old man who was still counting out change and with a shaking hand, pulled the paper from the stand.
Three days after Alan Ackles, father of Jensen Ackles, heir to the Wild Aces Casino and Hotel contacted the Las Vegas Police department and reported his son missing, he has requested that the search be called off.
“Jensen isn’t missing. I have been in contact with my son and due to personal reasons he has decided to take some time for himself away from the city. He apologizes for any worry he has inadvertently caused.”
It sounds plausible but a reliable source in the L.V. police department says there is more there than meets the eye.
Jensen’s Ackles black Escalade was found last Saturday morning parked three blocks from the Wild Aces where he resides in the penthouse, cell phone and keys still in the vehicle. When pressed further, the informant ensures that other than the cell phone and keys, nothing is out of place in Ackles junior’s vehicle, no signs of a struggle, interior immaculate and the only fingerprints found are Ackles junior’s, one of his friends and Jared Ackles, (Jensen Ackles husband) who reportedly left town three days before Ackles disappearance.
Jared couldn’t breathe and his eyes refused to track further making trying to read the rest of the article impossible. Not that it mattered, he wouldn’t trust Alan any farther than he could throw him and, unless he met this reliable source face to face and saw the evidence, or lack thereof, for himself he wouldn’t believe it either.
“Hey. Hey buddy you gonna buy that paper? This isn’t a library.”
Jared glanced up, the kid behind the counter glaring at him and the old man finally gone. Swallowing twice before he could make his throat work, Jared stepped up to the counter, slapped the paper down on it. “This, gas on pump two and one of those.” He pointed towards the back wall where pay as you go cell phones were on display.
“Any particular one?” The kid snapped his gum as he took a step back and waved his hand towards the phones.
I don’t fucking care you pimply faced hick. Just fucking pass me one. Forcing the anger back, he tilted his chin out, “The black one on top is fine.”
The kid leaned down, opened the sliding door beneath the counter and popped back up a minute later with a box between his hands. “It’s the most expensive one.” He flipped it over and pointed at the price tag, “The Nokia holds up better and costs less.”
“It’s fine.” He managed through clenched teeth.
It finally seemed to dawn on the kid that Jared must have been in a rush because with a scowl he turned and rang everything up. “That’ll be fifty-six twenty.”
Jared threw three twenties on the counter, grabbed up his two purchases and walked as calmly as he could from the store.
There were only three people he could call to try to find out the truth. He could only hope one of them would give it to him.
Jensen had had a brief glimmer of hope when a slight woman with long dark hair whom he assumed was Alexis had replaced Chad and Katie. He had been certain that given the opportunity, that he would have no problems subduing her, taking the keys for the cuffs and getting the hell out of, well wherever he was being kept. Of course that had been until the first time she pointed a nasty looking handgun at him and he stared into her hard eyes and knew that she would kill him if he tried anything. Even then, he was still considering it, she was still smaller than him and all he needed to do was be the good little compliant hostage until her guard fell and he would have the upper hand.
Only her guard never seemed to go down and she was a lot smarter than he had given her credit for. She wasn’t just assuming he’d behave because she had the gun. Instead of getting within five feet of him, she would toss the handcuff keys to him from the door and track him with the gun while he went about his business in a metal pail in the corner of the room. When she would get around to feeding him, once in the morning and once in the evening, or that’s was his best guess since the plywood covering the window kept out all light, she would make him flip on his right side before she would get close enough to set the tray on the left side of the bed, one hand still holding the gun pointed at him and wouldn’t tell him he could move until after she was clear of his reach.
Yeah she was too smart for Jensen’s own good or she had done this more than once. The way she seemed completely relaxed but alert around him, even when he was moving around the room made him think it was the latter.
On the bright side, at least Chad had given him a t-shirt and a pair of boxers both still in their packaging to wear. Not that he was certain he would have really complained had Chad stripped them off and handed them to Jensen. He might be comfortable with his own body but that didn’t mean that he wanted to parade around naked in front of his kidnappers.
“Need to piss?”
Turning his head, Jensen stared back at Alexis as she settled against the door jam. “I’m good.”
She shrugged, “Suit yourself but I ain’t gonna be coming back in here in an hour if you decide then. And I’m sure as hell not going to be changing your sheets if you piss yourself.”
He shook his head before rolling it on the flat pillow and going back to staring up at the water stains on the ceiling. To stave off going insane with no outside stimulation other than the infrequent visits by Alexis, Jensen had taken to staring up at the stains and finding different shapes in them. It was shit for entertainment after the first day of doing it but it was all he had.
“I could always stick the catheter back in.” Her voice was conversational, like she was talking about the weather. “But I’m afraid that the others must have taken the last of the horse tranqs ‘cause I can’t find them. What that means for you is wide-awake feeling it while I shove it up your dick. Sound like fun?”
He rolled his head back towards her and gave a nonchalant shrug but inside his mind was racing. He didn’t really believe that Chad and Katie had taken the horse tranquilizers with them but if that was how Alexis wanted to play it then all the better. Let her come near him when he was wide-awake and had one arm and both legs free. Maybe she wasn’t as smart as he originally thought she was.
Shaking her head, she snorted, “Think you got it bad do you little heir? Trust me, it could be much, much worse. If I were you, I’d be grateful for the little freedom you get from that bed. The boss promised your daddy that we’d take real good care of you but what he and your daddy don’t know won’t hurt them.” She raised an eyebrow and smiled, the look causing a shiver to race up his spine. She looked a little too much like a shark like that. “But it will hurt you.”
Jensen didn’t even want to consider what she might do to him, given the chance. Right now, he was clinging to the thin hope that because she didn’t know that he knew their first names at least, and kept referring to Chad and Katie every time she mentioned them as “they” or “the others” that maybe it was a good sign that even if he couldn’t get free himself, that he might still be let go soon. And if that was anywhere near the truth, he wanted to be able to leave this hole with all his body parts in place and in once piece.
He shifted his hips; he really didn’t need to pee but better to not antagonize her. “Yeah I gotta piss.”
Her grin got wider and it was kind of a shock not to see rows of pointed teeth. She chucked the keys across the room, aim good enough that they landed on his chest.
“Well then you better get to it.”
Christian’s voice was gruff like he’d been yelling for hours and it was a fifty-fifty thing as to if maybe he had been. After reading the article from top to bottom three times, Jared could clearly see Christian showing up at Alan’s house and doing just that.
“Tell me what happened?”
There was a sharp intake of breath, “Jared? What the fuck do you want?”
He was pretty sure he had already made that clear but he tried to keep his temper in check since it was doubtful that he was anywhere on Christian’s list of people he liked. “The same thing you want. To know what happened to Jensen.”
“You have a lot of nerve you son of a bitch. You leave and tell Jensen you’re not coming back in a note. A note, Jared! Do you have any idea what you did to him?” He was hissing, so angry that his words were slurring together. “You know what? No, you don’t deserve to know that and you sure as fuck don’t deserve to know anything else either. Crawl back into whatever…”
“Christian!” Jared yelled, he knew that he deserved every little bit of Christian’s ire because of what he had done but that wasn’t what was important now. What was important was finding out what had happened to Jensen. “I know people. People that can help if Jensen really is missing.”
Christian’s harsh breathing was his only response but, at least, he hadn’t hung up and that was a bonus. Out of the three people that Jensen considered his friend’s, Jared had chosen to contract Christian first because he was the one that Jared knew best and he was the only one who probably wouldn’t hang up the minute he realized it was Jared on the other end of the phone. So far, Jared had guessed right.
“What people?” Christian asked slowly. “Like that blonde guy who kept coming around even after you were gone?”
It didn’t really surprise Jared that Chad had gone back to the Wild Aces. Chad might be many things but he wasn’t an idiot, he never would have survived as long as he had if he was and just because Jared had told him that he was leaving town didn’t mean he wasn’t going to do his damnedest to verify it. But that didn’t explain the sudden chill working down Jared’s spine. He wouldn’t. He thought desperately because even if Jeff was a cocky, arrogant, greedy bastard he wasn’t stupid enough to try to take on the state of Nevada or the feds. After everything their father had done, all the lies and half truths to make the Padalecki name as clean on paper as possible, Jeff wouldn’t do anything to risk that, not with how well the double life was holding up against scrutiny.
He wanted to couch the question so that it wouldn’t raise Christian’s suspicions but his mind was refusing to co-operate. He couldn’t see past the fear that somehow his own family was behind this and if they were, Jensen was in more trouble than even Jared had first realized. “How many times?”
“What had that got to do with anything?” His voice had dropped an octave and it was clear that he knew that something wasn’t right.
“Just answer the question.” Jared pressed while he kept chanting, Jeff wouldn’t, he wouldn’t in his head hoping to make it so.
“Jesus Christ.” Christian hissed low and then louder, “Who is he Jared? What did you do?”
“Tried to have a life of my own.” He spat, guilt warring with logic. If his fear was right then he had nothing to do with this other than just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it was his family so he was guilty by association. “How many times Christian?”
“Every day,” he allowed finally, hissing. “Every day including the morning of the day Jensen disappeared.”
Jared shut his eyes as his body began to shake. There was no reason for Chad to keep going back more than a couple times, if he was simply verifying that Jared really had taken off. He had always known that it was just a coincidence that he and Chad had run into each other but he had also known that there was more than what met the eye as to why he was even in Vegas to begin with. Why hadn’t he seen it?
Because he never thought his brother was that arrogant. He never would have suspected that his brother had become so full of himself as to try to take on the great state of Nevada just to increase his power that little bit more.
“Who the hell are you Jared?”
His eyes snapped open and he clenched his free hand into a fist at the demand. There was no right answer to that question but one and it was the one he couldn’t give, not if he wanted to get Jensen back alive. “I’ll try to contact you again in a couple days.” He muttered, mind already busy trying to work out just how long it was going to take him to get to San Antonia and home.
“No! You’ll tell me now or I’m calling the cops.” He threatened, voice shaking a little.
“No you won’t.” Jared’s own voice held steady through his bluff, “Because if you do then there’s nothing I’ll be able to do to save Jensen.”
Christian growled, “If anything happens to him Jared, there will be no place you can hide from me.”
Christian’s threat had no effect on him whatsoever. If he didn’t succeed getting Jensen out that meant that Jared was already dead.
There were never enough hours in the day. Jensen had been a firm believer of that particular saying for as long as he could remember. When he was a boy, he was always pressed for time between school, homework and spending time with his father in his office behind reception at the Wild Aces. In University, it was almost the same only homework was now referred to as assignments, spending time at Wild Aces meant taking on more and more of his father’s responsibilities while the old man spent more and more time with his buddies and showgirls, and trying to squeeze in time for friends and dating. It didn’t change at all after he graduated other than his father dumping running Wild Aces in his lap and Jensen was always cursing that there were never enough hours in a single day to get everything done.
Someone, some deity with a twisted sense of humor must have heard his complaints and decided to show him what the flip side of the coin was like because now there were far too many hours in the day. Too much time to spend staring at the ceiling, his mind trying to work out, exactly who the people were who had taken him, with pretty much nothing else to do.
The door swung open and out of the corner of his eye, he watched Alexis lean against the door jam and grin darkly over at him.
Even though he knew it would be a waste of time, not that he had anything else pressing at that moment; Jensen had tried to get more information from her. She was keen on tormenting him every chance she got so he had hoped that she would answer his questions if for no other reason than to scare him with the truth. Instead, she had flipped back her long dark hair, grinned her shark’s grin at him and told him that the less he knew the better it was for him.
That was doubtful since if he did get out of this alive, something told him that he would be learning all about the business between his father and her boss because it would affect him too. But when he had pointed that out to her, she had simply shrugged, left the room and forgot to bring him anything to eat that evening.
Jensen got the point; he wasn’t to ask about why he was there. Didn’t mean that he didn’t wonder about it.
“So your daddy did what was suggested of him.” She crossed her arms over her chest, “But now he says he wants proof that you’re alive.”
He rolled his head to the side and stared at her, one eyebrow raised trying to look calm but inside his heart was racing. He didn’t see a cell in either of her hands and he had seen enough thriller movies to be more than a little worried.
Calm the fuck down. He chided himself harshly, there was no way she was suggesting what he thought she was suggesting. It was inhuman and just…wrong, so, so fucking wrong!
The clinical part of his mind clicked over. But if she had been ordered to take something of his, probably gonna be a finger then she would have to come to him to sedate him. And if she was going to be that close then, gun or not, he would have her.
The thought of finally getting his hands around her neck only marginally settled some of the fear turning his stomach because she could just drug his food or his water and then he would still be screwed. And how much did a person bleed when something, a finger, was amputated anyway? Would she just let him bleed out? No, she couldn’t because she said that his dad wanted proof of life.
How would cutting off a part of him prove to his father that he was alive? How in the hell would he even know that it was Jensen’s finger or that it had been cut off while he was alive? His father knew nothing about forensics and Jensen doubted that he would go to anyone that could tell him that, “Yes this is your son’s finger and yes by the tissue damage and bruising we can tell that he was alive at the time that the finger was amputated.” because somehow he didn’t think that the people they were dealing with would want any kind of involvement with law enforcement.
Alexis slowly started to smile her shark grin before she pushed off the door jam. “You think about what we should do to prove that you’re still breathing and we’ll talk later.”
Jensen waited until the door was shut and the lock clicked into place before pulling himself up into a sitting position. She was either shitting him just to watch him squirm or she was playing with him before she drugged him and did what she had been ordered to do.
Either way, there was nothing he could do about it. Oh sure, he could stop eating and drinking but that would make him weak and, even desperate, he didn’t know if he would be able to overpower her. Not to mention that a person could only go so long without food, he couldn’t remember how long exactly, it had been a long time since high school Biology, but he damn well knew it was only three days without water before they died of dehydration.
And thinking about how she had told him that she didn’t actually have any drugs didn’t settle him any. But in case she was telling the truth, sleep wasn’t going to come easy, not that it had been so simple up to this point, for the rest of his time trapped there.
Seventeen and a half hours after first finding out that Jensen had gone missing, had been missing for six days, Jared slowed his car to a stop in front of the security gates of the Padalecki family ranch. Body shaking from too much caffeine and adrenaline and not enough sleep, he glared at the security camera as it slowly swung to focus more clearly on the driver side window of the car.
Slamming his finger on the window button, he waited until it had fully lowered then stuck his head out the window, pulled his sunglasses from his face and raised an eyebrow up at it.
“Honey, I’m home.” He growled up at it before pulling his head back inside the car and reaching out to punch in his code.
“Huh.” He grunted when he heard the lock disengage and the gates slowly started to open on silent hinges. He actually hadn’t expect his code to work, not when he had taken off without so much as by your leave to his brother all those years before. He was more surprised that it hadn’t been changed within days of Jeff realizing that he had taken off and wasn’t coming back.
Forcing himself not to floor it and raise any suspicion as to why he was suddenly back, he guided the car sedately to the front of the house and eased it to a stop.
“Okay.” He muttered, hands wrapped tightly around the wheel and head and heart pounding. There was a good chance, a really good chance that he was wrong. All he had to go on that his brother had anything to do with Jensen’s disappearance with the fact that Chad had been in Vegas shortly before it happened. And that was the slimmest reason to jump to the conclusion that his family had anything to do with it. But he also knew how things worked, knew that Chad had kept going back to the Wild Aces even after he would have been certain that Jared really had taken off, and that screamed that Chad was up to something. It wasn’t unusual, or it hadn’t been back when Jared was still part of the family and he doubted that Jeff had changed the way things were done when it worked.
Chad had been at the Wild Aces to check things out, to see if he could figure out Jensen’s schedule and when he would be the most vulnerable to grab. And yes, Jensen was a creature of habit when it came to working hours but that included not leaving the property, not even for lunch, just in case something came up and he was needed.
But there had been that damn charity ball and even though Jensen hadn’t wanted to go when his father had first reminded him of it, Jared knew he would. Because as much as Alan Ackles pissed off his son, a part of Jensen, the little boy that had lost his mother and then for all intents and purposes his father a week maybe two later, worked hard for even the slightest bit of approval from the old man. And it wasn’t like who was attending the ball was a secret, hell the Las Vegas Sun printed a list of the who’s who of Vegas that were confirmed to be attending.
That would be the one time Jensen wouldn’t be protected by the security guards at the casino and would probably have his guard down.
Guilt stabbed through him, if Christian had been being honest and even if he only alluded to it, then Jensen was having a hard time dealing with the fact that Jared has simply took off without any real explanation. And maybe, because of it, he hadn’t really been paying attention to what or, more importantly who, was around him that night. And the fact that his SUV had been found on a side street only made things worse because that was something that was old hat for his family. Get one of the girls to pretend to be stranded, sucker the mark into getting out of his vehicle and then when his or her back was turned, knock them out.
It might have been a thin suspicion but there was just too much there that screamed familiar for him not to come.
And if he was wrong and he had just let himself walk back into the lion’s den only to be mistaken, he could still work with that. Jeff Padalecki had connections, the family had connections all over the States, Jared knew that first hand from the close calls he had had from being seen over the years and he could use that to his advantage. It would take some time, but not more than Jensen had, please not that, but somebody would know something about what had gone down in Vegas and Jared was damned and determined to find that person and would use his name and Jeff’s connections to do so. No one would question why Jared Padalecki, Jeff Padalecki’s little brother was asking about a kidnapping job, not if they didn’t want to suddenly disappear themselves.
With one last steadying breath, Jared unclenched his fingers, forced himself to open the car door and climb out. He only managed to shut the car door when the front door open and Jeff was standing there staring down at him.
The years had been kind to his brother, a lot kinder than one would believe when you were facing the head of the Padalecki mob but then very few people knew that and those that did and didn’t keep their mouths shut didn’t breath for very long. As far as the great State of Texas knew, Jeff Padalecki was the CEO and president of Padalecki oil, just as his father had been before him. Or, at least that was all they could prove but there were suspicions, rumors that the Feds had picked up on or Agent Mark Harmon of the FBI would never had made better than a half dozen visits to Jared while he was in juvy. By the easy way that Jeff carried himself, looked like all the feds had on the Padaleckis was still only rumors. But unlike his father, who had been shot dead by his youngest son, according to court papers and the police report after the youngest son had survived years of molestation by his father, Jeff had remained a pillar of the community to anyone outside of law enforcement, going so far as to donate half a million dollars to Child Social Services in an attempt to “perhaps stop such tragedies from happening in other families by teaching children to reach out to people, adults that can help other than reach for a gun”.
What the police and court didn’t know was that Jared had covered and took the punishment for his older brother. Jared was just days over sixteen when his brother shot their father because according to Jeff, their dad had been molesting Jeff for years and his brother was worried that the old man would start on Jared. Jared had been young and considering who his father was and what his family were involved in, naïve and worshiped his older brother. Jared’s belief that it was his responsibility to cover for Jeff because he was underage and wouldn’t get jail time for what he had done only lasted until the police van pulled up to the juvenile detention center on the outskirts of San Antonio.
“Well look what the cat finally dragged in.”
There was no malice to the words but there was no warmth of welcoming either but then again, Jared hadn’t expected open arms and big smiles. The fact that Jeff wasn’t pointing a gun at his face was enough, for now.
“Eight years to get over your little spat of independence.” He smirked and shook his head, “I’m actually impressed. Didn’t think you’d last that long.”
Jared moved from using the car as a barrier between the two of them and slowly walked to stand at the foot of the stairs. “Guess I’m just full of surprises.”
Jeff narrowed his eyes and looked him up and down before motioning with his head for Jared to get in the house. “Well come on then, it’s too early to function without another cup of coffee or two.”
Taking a deep breath to calm his racing heart, Jared climbed the stairs and followed his brother into the one house he had sworn he would never set foot in again.
It was bone chillingly frightening what he would do for love.
“Hungry?” Jeff threw over his shoulder while he led the way down the hall towards his office. “I can have Sam whip you up some breakfast.”
His stomach lurched threateningly at the mention of food, the knots in it leaving no room for much else. “Nah, I’m good.”
“Will wonders never cease?” He snorted as he opened the door to his office and stepped inside, expecting Jared to follow behind like an obedient puppy. “First you appear on my doorstep after so many years without a word and then you’re not hungry. Must be the first sign of the apocalypse.”
He managed a weak grin in response and automatically closed the office door behind him. It was pretty much a useless gesture, he knew that there would be others in the house somewhere, given the early hour of the day, probably in the dining room slurping coffee and working through one of Samantha’s platoon sized breakfasts, and the thin wood was only a pretense of security. But old habits died hard and with the door shut hopefully Jeff’s lackeys would take the hint and stay out.
“So why are you here, really Jared?” Jeff asked as he settled into his oversized black leather chair and leaned back to watch him settle in the chair across the desk from him.
Fingers curling into his own thighs, Jared forced himself to keep his gaze steady on his brothers. “Can’t I have just decided it was time to come home?”
He shrugged easily enough but his eyes remained sharp, “Seems to me the last time we spoke, what was it, a week after you said you were going on a mini vacation, that hell would freeze over before you came back to the fold. Don’t think hell’s frozen over Jared.”
A bitter chuckle escaped, “Kind of hard to have a life of my own when I gotta keep moving.” It was the easiest and truest statement. It had never been a real problem for the first seven and a half years, only staying six months to a year in one place, not really getting close to anyone or making any real connections before moving on but then he had met Jensen and everything changed. Jared had thought that Vegas was the one place in the country where he should be safe, or at least relatively safe from being found because the families didn’t go to Vegas, there were too many risks involved, the State’s law enforcement too sharp eyed for anyone known or suspected of organized crime activity.
Until Jeff had to go and get just that little bit more ambitious and set his eyes on the one State he never should have considered.
His brother tilted his head, “Seems you managed just fine.”
Something cold slithered down his spine, “I’m sorry?”
“You don’t survive in this life without being observant Jared.” He frowned briefly, “I saw the wedding band on your finger.”
Instinct had Jared’s right hand covering the left, suddenly cold fingers touching the skin-warmed band. He hadn’t even thought of taking it off, it was as much a part of him as the constant ache in his heart that started the minute he understood that he was going to have to leave Jensen. But now it could be a liability and he silently cursed himself for not even thinking of it until it was too late.
“That didn’t work out.” He finally muttered, because of you locked tightly behind his teeth.
His lips twisted sympathetically but the look never reached his eyes, “That’s too bad. What happened?”
Are you fucking kidding me? You think I’m that dumb?
Jared didn’t know if Jeff wanted to know to see if Jared had betrayed the family, betrayed him, by spilling the family secret or if he was scheming some show of brotherly love by helping him deal with it. He didn’t want to consider just what Jeff would think was an appropriate response to Jared getting his heart broken but he knew it would by violent and bloody.
“I told you Jeff, it’s kind of hard to have a life of my own when I’m always looking over my shoulder.” He tried to shrug nonchalantly but felt the angry jerk of his own shoulders. “Trying to build a life with someone doesn’t work so well when it’s based on lies.”
He watched him silently for a long moment before he returned the shrug with one of his own, “Fair enough. So what do you want here Jared?”
“To stay.” He swallowed back the sour taste in his mouth, “I was wrong Jeff, I know that.” It wasn’t hard to laugh bitterly and it was because of what he was saying, only not because he agreed with the words. “I am a Padalecki and I can’t keep lying to myself or others pretending to be anyone else.”
Jeff nodded, “I see.” Eyes narrowing, he leaned forward in his chair and settled his elbows on the desk, arms crossing and hands gripping his upper arms. “I expect you to carry your own weight Jared. It won’t be like before when you got to choose what you did around here. You’re either part of the family or you’re not.”
Or you’re dead. He didn’t have to hear the words to know the threat was there. Jeff may have put the word out when Jared took off the first time but they both knew that he hadn’t made it a pressing matter probably believing that Jared would come back on his own eventually. Betraying the family once by snubbing it had been looked at like an act of rebellion but doing it a second time would be the last insult that Jeff would take.
They both knew that.