Title: Feelings Are Good And Other Lies pt.3
Please see Master Post for fic details.
Jared had waited, forcing his body to remain relaxed and pliant while his mind whirled, until he had been certain that Jensen was actually asleep before he moved.
With only the noise of the sheets shifting, he placed one last lingering kiss on Jensen’s bared shoulder and then slipped from the bed.
It hadn’t taken long to pull on a pair of worn blue jeans and a plain gray t-shirt in the walk-in closet, forgoing socks and underwear and slipping into his sneakers. It had taken a little longer to decide on whether he should take the black leather jacket that Jensen had bought him for his birthday, shifting from foot to foot like a stupid kid trying to decide what to wear on a date before carefully pulling it off the hanger with one hand while keeping it from sliding across the metal bar with the other.
There were only two other material things he would be taking with him, his wedding ring and the other was waiting for him down in the parking garage so there was no reason not to take the jacket. Jensen had given to him, and unlike their wedding bands, he had gone on his own and picked it out for Jared. He wasn’t going to lose it, one of the only two pieces of tangible proof that Jensen had loved him once.
Feeling like a cowardly bastard, he peeked around the corner, making sure Jensen was still asleep before silently moving across the room and out the door. In the main room he crossed to the mantle of the fireplace and pulled out a folded piece of paper from behind a framed snap shot of him and Jensen, taken a couple months before during one of their jaunts out to the desert with Sophia and set it in front of the picture. Suddenly he grabbed it and the frame up, flipping the picture over and sliding the back out of the frame. Carefully he pulled the picture free from the glass and tucked it into one of the pockets of his jacket before putting the frame back together. Setting the frame back on the mantle, he balanced the note in front of it, knowing that Jensen would see it since it was always were they left little notes for one another and backed away.
With one last look around the room, he pushed the button for the private elevator and held his breath when the little electronic bell sounded loud in the silence. Listening for Jensen in the other room, Jared grabbed his keys and wallet from the bowl resting on a stand beside the elevator, stepped in and pressed the button for the first level of the parking garage and shut his eyes as the doors slid shut.
He was doing the right thing; he knew he was, there was no way he could stay here now that Chad knew where he was which meant that in less than twenty-four hours Jeff would know where he was. There was no way Jeff would just let him keep on living his own life, not his older brother, not with what Jared had on him. Leaving now was the best for Jensen, would keep him safe even if he never knew why Jared had left.
Once the doors opened, he crossed quickly to his old Charger, it was the only thing he had taken from his old life and only because he was running. Hitchhiking would have been too slow, too dangerous; because once Jeff knew that he wasn’t coming back he would have sent out word to keep an eye out for Jared. And walking along the road there was too great a risk of someone spotting him. Riding the bus would have been only marginally better, it would have been quicker than hitching but there were still too many people around him, too much left to chance. The Charger, the car he had bought with his own money after getting out of juvy had seemed like the best option then and the best option now. He could get behind the wheel and just go, no worry about inconvenient stops to let off other riders or layovers that made him twitch.
“Hey baby.” He greeted the car as he unlocked the door and slid in behind the wheel. “Gonna take another road trip. Sound good to you?”
Starting the car, Jared let the familiar sound of her engine wash over him, trying to find the calm he used to get when he was behind the wheel of his baby. She had carried him all over the States and never given him any real problems. She was the only thing he could depend on, especially now when the only other thing he could have depended on he was leaving behind but the familiar rumble only made his chest ache all the more.
Letting his eyes fall closed, he took a deep breath trying to calm his racing heart. Was he really doing this? Was he really going to run and just leave Jensen behind and confused as to why?
An image of Jeff’s hard eyes rose up to practically choke him and Jared’s eyes snapped open. Yes he was, not for himself but for Jensen. He loved Jensen and this was the only way to make sure Jeff knew nothing about him.
With a final deep breath that felt more like he was dragging shards of glass into his lungs, Jared put his car in reverse and started out of his parking stall.
He had to make a stop at Alan’s and make a call to Chad, hopefully the little bastard still had the same cell number and then he would be gone. Leaving nothing behind but a memory and hopefully a not so broken heart.
Jensen stretched, flinching slightly at the ache in his ass before he smiled. But what a way to end up being sore. It wasn’t like he and Jared didn’t have a healthy sex life but it had been a long time since they had had sex more than twice in one twenty-four hour period. Not that he was complaining but he did kind of wonder what had gotten into his husband to make him act like that. He understood the sex the night before, since Jensen had teased the shit out of Jared during dinner with Christian, Steve and Sophia, dropping his hand high on Jared’s thigh, tapping his fingers against the bulge in Jared’s jeans and moaning obscenely around every third or fourth mouthful of food. He even got why that morning, knew without being told that it was Jared’s way of making sure he woke up and distracting him from thinking about what might have happened during breakfast with his father until they were damn near running late and there was no time left to dwell.
What he couldn’t understand was what had driven Jared that evening. Not that he was complaining so much as worried. He had seen the look in Jared’s eyes, noticed the way he held himself almost stiffly before he had met Jensen half way across the room. Something had happened and whatever it was had made Jared angry and desperate.
He looked over his shoulder, noticing that Jared wasn’t in bed with him before rolling onto his back and letting his hand slide across the cool sheets. Jared had been gone for a while by the feel of it but that wasn’t so surprising. For those that didn’t know Jared, they would have been surprised just how much and how often he would eat. He had probably gotten up not long after Jensen had drifted off and order room service and was out in the main room either still pigging out or slumped across the couch letting the small mountain of food he had consumed digest.
He kind of hoped it was the second option because he really didn’t want to ruin Jared’s appetite but they had to talk about whatever was weighing heavily on Jared’s mind. And as much as Jensen didn’t want to believe it, he was pretty certain he knew what the problem was. It was just too much of a coincidence that they had gone to see his father that morning and Jared’s mood was odd by the end of the day.
Rolling out of bed, Jensen paused only long enough to retrieve his boxers from the floor, grinning at the pile of Jared’s clothes before padding towards the closed bedroom door.
“Jay,” he called as he grasped the door handle and gave it a twist. “Are you in…here?”
The room was dark, or as dark as any room could be on the strip with the twenty-four hour light show shining through the window and empty.
“What the hell?” He muttered as he stepped into the room and glanced around, sure that if he just kept scanning his eyes back and forth that Jared would suddenly appear before him. But no matter how often his gaze went from one side of the room to the other, Jared just wasn’t there.
His eyes fell on the mantle and more importantly the little scrap of white paper leaning against the picture of them.
Jared was somewhere, probably made a run for candy or maybe ice cream, large appetite and a notorious sweet tooth; it was the simplest explanation and most likely the only one.
Grabbing the note, Jensen unfolded it and felt his breath seize in his throat.
I’m sorry but I just can’t be here anymore.
Hands trembling and heart beating painfully fast, Jensen read the note over three times and then once more because the words just didn’t make sense to him. Jared had left? But why? Everything had been fine, they were happy, they were…
“Gonna remember this, always gonna remember this.” Jared’s words echoed through his head stilling his spinning thoughts. Jensen had heard them but the implications hadn’t sunk in until now. The odd look on Jared’s face, the desperation, his words, Jared had been saying goodbye and Jensen hadn’t realized it.
Pain rose up to choke him and his whole body started to shake. Jared really was gone, had been planning it for who in the fuck knew how long. His father was right, he should have just chosen a companion to spend so time with and then gotten rid of them when they started wanting more than a couple hours of Jensen’s time. God damnit, his father had been right, everyone only wanted one thing from him, money.
“No.” He shook his head violently. Jared had never wanted anything from Jensen except for Jensen. He hated it when Jensen paid for things even after they were married. He wasn’t like that, he wasn’t Marta or any of the number of women his father surrounded himself with. His father was wrong.
Anger started to course through him, killing the pain, pushing it back and he crushed the note in his hand. They had been fine, they had been happy until today. And what had been so different about today? His father.
Jensen let the note drop from his hand as he spun and sprinted back into their bedroom. His father had something to do with this, he was sure of it and Jensen was going to find out what. And once he knew that, then maybe, he could find Jared and convince him to come home.
Grabbing a pair of jeans from the pile on the stand in the walk-in closet, he shoved his feet into them and pulled them up. It was time to see daddy dearest.
Leaning against the Plexiglas wall of the phone booth, Jared huffed as he punched in the familiar number before glancing around himself. It was stupid, he was on the edge of Vegas and even if Jensen had woken up and realized he was gone by now, it wouldn’t make a difference. Between the dark of early evening and the fact that it was the edge of town, there weren’t as many lights here and even if for some ungodly reason, Jensen drove past, there was no way that he would recognize Jared.
Just keep telling yourself that Jay.
He shut his eyes and tried to ignore the voice in the back of his head but he couldn’t help feeling spooked. His brief meeting with his father-in-law had him so twisted around that he couldn’t help it. Just the way Alan had looked at him, a mixture of victory and knowing in his eyes had set off alarm bells in his head. What did the man know?
“Jared.” Alan smirked at him from across the width of his ornate and oversized desk. He gently tossed a thick pile of paper, bull clip keeping the various sheets from scattering as it slid across the desk to the edge, towards Jared. “Sign where you see the little flags.”
Jared had taken a pen laying, conveniently, near the edge of his side of the desk and with shaking hands started to sign where he was required to.
This was it, with a few signatures, he was unraveling his and Jensen’s lives from each other. The knowledge made him ache and he wanted nothing more than to call the whole thing off and go running back to Jensen, begging for forgiveness but he couldn’t. He was doing this for Jensen, just because it was going to kill Jared didn’t mean anything, this was the way it had to be.
Standing back, he let the pen drop to land on the stack of papers. “How long before this is finalized?”
Alan waved a hand, “A couple of days at the most. But don’t worry you don’t need to stick around for any of it. Your part is done.”
He understood the hint, he was to get out and get gone and he was fine with that. Perfectly fucking ecstatic to do just that. The sooner he got out of Vegas the better…for Jensen.
Legs feeling wooden, he took a step back and then another, the look on his father-in-law’s face unsettling and keeping him from turning his back on him. It was like the man knew something, something he shouldn’t. “Okay.” He finally muttered, took a deep breath to still his nerves and made to turn and go when Alan’s voice stopped him.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?”
Jared’s body went cold. What was he talking about? There was nothing left for him in Vegas now. Unless Alan was expecting Jared to thank him. Well he’d be waiting until hell froze over for that.
Ignoring the small voice that was whispering that he should be thanking Alan for making this easier, for making sure his escape would be a clean one, he tilted his chin up. “Such as?”
Alan picked up a small, rectangular piece of paper up off of the desk and waved it at him. “You’re money. I would have preferred to have transferred it directly into your account or at least a cashier’s check so that you would know that the check’s good. But you called so late that I didn’t have time to get to the bank before it closed and I don’t have your banking information.”
Swallowing down the urge to punch the smug look off of Alan’s face, Jared shook his head, turned on his heel and headed for the door. “I didn’t do this for the money.”
Grinning at the confusion plainly evident in Alan’s voice, Jared stepped through the door and out into the hall, leading towards the front of the house. Let the old man choke on that bit of information for a while. Not everything had to do with money and maybe it was time he learned to remember that.
Back when he and Jensen had first started seeing each other and he had finally told Jared about the kind of man that Alan Ackles was, Jared had worried about just what lengths the man would go to get someone out of his son’s life. His mind had briefly touched on the idea of Alan running a criminal check on him but Jared knew that nothing would come of it. Jared Zajak had a clean record, hell even Jared Padalecki technically had a fairly clean record because juvy files were sealed but the fact that he had been in juvy would come up and he had wanted nothing of his old life staining his new life. Running a criminal background check had been good enough for every casino he ever worked for including the Wild Aces so he had hoped that it would be good enough for Alan.
But the look on Alan’s face when Jared had walked into his study had chilled him to the bone. The man had just looked too knowing and Jared had to wonder if he had underestimated his soon to be ex-father-in-law. What if he had hired a private investigator? Jared Zajak had only shown up on the grid in 2002, before that, there had been no such person but with a little patience and some digging would someone be able to tie him to Sherri Zajak? Would it be that hard to figure out that Jared Zajak and Jared Padalecki were one in the same? And once they made that leap, it wouldn’t be so fair fetched to learn everything about Jared, including why he had ended up in juvy.
But if Alan had hired a private investigator why hadn’t he used the information to threaten Jared with before now? Knowing the man, Jared didn’t believe that he would just sit on the information. No, he would have gone to Jensen the minute he had learned the truth.
So it had to all be in Jared’s head right? He was so twisted up and guilty for doing this to Jensen that he wasn’t thinking straight and was seeing things that weren’t there because of it. Alan looking victorious and knowing was nothing more than because Jared had made him right by calling him and asking him to set everything in motion for he and Jensen to get an annulment, that was all.
Body jolting with shock, Jared blinked back to the present and cursed silently. He had totally forgotten where he was or the fact that he had a receiver pressed against his ear. Not very smart, he had gotten too complacent and he couldn’t be like that, not anymore.
“Chad?” He was actually surprised that Chad still had the same number. After eight years he would have thought that it had been changed at least once if not a dozen times if for no other reason than to shake the hordes of pissed off and burned women Chad had left behind.
“Yeah, who’s this?” The background noise was almost enough to drown out his words. It was obvious that Chad was taking in the sights, actually knowing Chad, he was probably trying to pick up a showgirl or two.
There was nothing for it now, he had already gone too far to turn back now, “It’s Jared.”
“Jay? Shit, hang on.”
Jared listened while the ambient noise died down some and a door squeaked open. No door on the strip squeaked so he had to be somewhere off strip, probably at a peeler bar. He rolled his eyes, that actually made a hell of a lot more sense. Strippers were more Chad’s style and no way in hell would he be able to pick up a showgirl unless he had learned to be a little more refined since Jared had last hung around with him.
“Okay.” He muttered, “I’m outside. What’s going on?”
He could hear Chad’s boots thunking on the pavement as he walked, probably searching for a more private place to talk. Some habits couldn’t be shaken, no matter what and unlike Jared, he had never had a reason to change.
“I’m leaving Chad.” He shut his eyes; the words making his chest ache.
“What?” Chad hissed, “What do you mean you’re leaving? Christ you’re not doing another runner are you?”
Eyes fluttering open, Jared turned his head and stared at his car. “I told you I want nothing to do with the family. So I’m gone.”
“Don’t do this.” He growled, “Jared, do not do this. Come home.”
“No.” He hissed back and pulled the receiver from his ear and hung up on Chad cursing at him.
Letting his eyes fall closed again, Jared leaned his head against the Plexiglas and sighed. Everything that needed to be done was done. Well except for going to Wells Fargo and getting his shit from the security deposit box but that could wait. The damn thing was paid up until the end of the year so he had better than three months before he had to make a decision about that.
And so what if he left those things behind? He had taken them all those years before because a part of him wasn’t sure he could make it on his own but he had never used either and he wasn’t about to start now. He had his own account in the name of Jared Zajak, a bankcard and a Visa and a nest egg that would get him through until he found another job in another town.
He didn’t need or want Jared Padalecki and with a half dozen signatures he had killed Jared Ackles.
“Right.” He mumbled and stood straight. Pushing out of the phone booth, he crossed back to his car and unlocked the door.
It was time to go.
Jensen sat slumped across the couch, his gaze sharp on the stack of papers on the coffee table. Even sitting at an angle he could make out the swoops and swirls of Jared’s signature at the bottom of the first page and he had to lock his leg to stop from kicking out at the table. It wouldn’t change anything, overturning the table and sending the papers skittering across the floor, Jared would still be gone and Jensen still wouldn’t know why.
It had been sixty-six hours and, Jensen checked his watch, twenty-eight minutes since he had woken up to find Jared gone. Sixty-five hours since he had burst through the front door of his father’s house and found out Jared had lied to him.
“Dad!” Jensen yelled, letting go of the frustration and the slim hope he had had that Jared’s car would be parked in the drive in the word.
He tried to rein in his temper as he stalked across the hall, glancing into the empty living room before spotting the sliver of light shining out from beneath the closed door of his father’s office. Squaring his shoulders, he pushed the door open, ignoring as it banged against the wall and stormed into the room.
“Jensen! What is your problem?”
He glared mutely as he leaned forward, hands braced on the desk so that he wouldn’t be tempted to wrap them around his interfering father’s neck. For all his years living and owning a casino in Vegas, his father’s poker face was for shit, a grin making the corners of his mouth twitch.
“What did you do?” He snarled and leaned a little farther forward.
Jensen bared his teeth, “Don’t!” He warned low, “Don’t try playing the innocent with me dad. I know you had something to do with Jared leaving.”
His father sat back, his face neutral but his eyes full of “I told you so” and pulled open the top drawer at his side. “Gave Jared what he wanted.” He shrugged, unrepentant and pulled out a small stack of papers.
Reaching out, he laid it directly between Jensen’s spread hands and then settled back in his chair. “Told him I could get you boys and annulment this morning and this afternoon he took me up on my offer.”
Twenty-one words was all it took to steal away Jensen’s righteous anger and he fell backwards to land precariously at the edge of the chair waiting on his side of the desk.
That’s what his dad had said to Jared that morning? But that’s not what Jared had told him. Why had Jared lied? Was he already planning on leaving Jensen and Alan had simply offered him the easiest way to do so?
“What else did you say?” At least his voice stayed strong even if it felt like his insides were sliding around. He glanced up from staring at the paperwork when his father didn’t reply, “What else did you say?”
“Jensen,” his father sighed, his voice taking on the edge of frustration for having to repeat this particular discussion again and again with his son. “I gave him what he wanted. Money.”
“Jesus Christ.” Jensen hissed and turned his face away, staring at nothing in particular but not wanting to see the triumph in his father’s eyes. Jared had wanted money? But he was the one that had insisted on the pre-nup, used to get miserable when Jensen tried to pay for everything before they got married so it just didn’t make sense. And yet, paying off Jensen’s boyfriends had always been Alan’s way so why would that change now?
“Jensen, son.” His father sighed, the sound world weary, “It’s better this way don’t you think? Would you rather had gotten more invested in the bastard and then have him take off?”
He glanced back, biting the inside of his bottom lip and trying to ignore the stinging at the back of his eyes. It just didn’t make any sense and yet, Jared was gone. Could his father be right?
With his anger gone, he wouldn’t be able to hold on for much longer but there was no way in hell he was going to break down in front of his dad. Pushing out of the chair, he took a step back, “I’ve got a business to run.”
Which was true only he wasn’t needed there now. But it didn’t matter; he couldn’t be with his father any longer. Refused to let go and accept the tight feeling in chest and the bleeding of his heart, here where he would get more empty words and false sympathy.
“Jensen you need to sign these.” His father tapped the pile of papers on the desk with one index finger.
Fuck you and fuck your annulment and fuck Jared and fuck everything. He thought darkly but stepped forward and obediently picked the papers up.
“Here.” Alan offered, Jensen’s eyes catching the movement of his hand to the corner of his desk where he picked up a pen sitting on top of a voided check. A voided check made out to Jared Zajak.
Jared had signed the annulment papers but hadn’t taken his father’s money. It gave him a start but he forced it down, not wanting his father to realize that Jensen knew.
He backed up a step and then another before turning and leaving the room, ignoring this father’s calls.
Almost three days later and he still hadn’t signed the paperwork to finish his and Jared’s annulment. He wasn’t sure why since it was obvious that Jared wasn’t going to change his mind and come back but every time he held a pen in his hand and reached for them, he just couldn’t make himself do it. Some stupid, pathetic part of him still waiting for this to all be a misunderstanding. Even if Jared had lied to him about what his father had offered that morning during breakfast, he hadn’t taken the money so that had to mean something. And he could understand why Jared hadn’t told him the truth, as wound up as he was that morning, he wouldn’t have taken the news that his dad was willing to pull strings amongst his friends to get them an annulment very well.
There was more to this than what met the eye and he damn well knew it. Jared didn’t take the money so it wasn’t greed but he had taken his wedding band, the leather jacket Jensen had gotten him for his birthday and the first picture ever taken of them together and that meant something. And he didn’t think he was being foolish believing that by taking at least his wedding band and the picture meant that Jared still loved him. Why take those two things if he didn’t?
Jensen sighed, sat up straight and rested his forearms against his thighs, hands clasped tightly together and stared down at the, at his and Jared’s, annulment. He needed to know what was going on. If Jared really didn’t love him and had only taken those things as mementos then fine, Jensen would let it go. But until Jared looked him in the eyes and said that to him, he wasn’t giving up on them.
He was going to need help figuring this out and as much as it galled him, it was going to have to be professional help. A private investigator was probably his best bet since Jared technically wasn’t missing; he had left of his own free will so the police couldn’t help. He could only hope that the little he knew about Jared would be enough for an investigator to go on.
The dinging of the elevator made his head snap around, the lingering hope that Jared would come home flaring before dying as Christian, Steve and Sophia pilled out of the car. Both Steve and Chris were dressed in their work clothes but it looked like Sophia had stepped out of a fashion magazine in a little black cocktail dress and her hair swept up in an intricate twist.
He raised an eyebrow in question and remained quiet as they slowly walked towards him. He couldn’t blame them for treading lightly around him. He had spent the last couple of days either locked in his office or locked up here, snarling at anyone who tried to get close. Snarling at the three of them because they were the only ones who dared to try and get close.
“Jensen.” Sophia sat beside him on the couch and laid a delicate hand low on his thigh. “Charity Ball tonight.”
He rolled his eyes as everything sunk into place and shot a withering look at Christian and Steve who were standing silently nearby. “Seriously? You think I’m going to go?”
“Yes you are.” Sophia squeezed his leg to get his attention back on her. “You think I got dressed up like this and had to pay an arm and a leg to get my hair done just to hang out up here with you?”
“I don’t need a date Soph ‘cause I’m not going.”
“Yeah you kind of are.” Christian spoke up but Jensen noticed he hadn’t come closer.
“No, I’m not.” Trying to keep his temper in check. He didn’t want to start yelling again, he already felt bad enough about that since the three of them had only been supportive the entire time.
Well supportive was a relative term where his three friends were concerned. Sophia had shown up that first night with a tub of Cookie Dough ice cream, an arm full of chick flicks and ideas of how to get revenge for Jared breaking his heart. She seemed to have forgotten that he wasn’t a chick and didn’t need or want to watch movies with her or eat ice cream. Though he had gotten a better appreciation for how her twisted mind worked when, before he could get her out of the suite, she had suggested fishing weights and interesting places they could tie them to hang from Jared’s body with fishing wire. It was a good thing she had already mentioned it was purely for cathartic reasons and not something they were really going to do or he’d be worried about having to borrow against the casino to bail her out of jail if she ever did actually catch up to Jared.
And it wasn’t like that wasn’t a legitimate worry already where Steve was concerned. Where Christian had declared that he would beat the shit out of Jared if he ever saw him again, Steve had simply and calmly asked that if Jared ever came around to let Steve know and he’d make sure that Jared would understand the pain Jensen was going through, only Jared’s would be physical.
As much as he loved Steve, sometimes the guy scared the shit out Jensen.
“How embarrassing would it be for you if Christian and I had to strip you and throw you into the shower?”
Jensen glared at Steve trying to decide if he was serious or not, he couldn’t mistake the hard set of his friend’s jaw. He was serious. Still he wasn’t going; he had too much to do now that he had decided on a course of action. He didn’t have time to smile, nod and make small talk with the upper crust of Vegas. And he really didn’t want to see his dad and whatever piece of eye candy he had decided on for the evening, sucking back Champagne and expensive whiskey.
Except, if he was going to have more for the private investigator he was going to hire other than Jared’s name, description, that he was originally from Texas and he had left three days before he was going to have to have to get the whole story from his dad about what Jared did or said that night. Normally, that wouldn’t be possible but with champagne and whiskey doing the tango in his gut, Jensen was pretty certain he would be able to get his dad to talk.
But he wasn’t going to tell his friends that.
“Fine!” He growled and pulled up from the couch, “I’m going, I’m going.”
“Really?” Sophia asked, surprise clear on her face.
In response, he stared heading towards the bathroom, mind already working on just how much he should make sure his dad drank before he tried talking to him. It had to be enough that he’d still be feeling smug and willing to crow about his triumph but not enough for his thoughts to be too hazy to share.
“Don’t think we won’t dress you ourselves if you try to say no when you get out.” Christian warned as Jensen started to close the door for the bathroom.
Flipping him the bird, he slammed the door on their smug expressions and started to strip.
There was work to do.
Jared sat cross legged in the middle of the sagging mattress in his crappy motel just five miles from the border between Nevada and Arizona staring down at the picture of Jensen and him. Gently he reached out and with one finger, traced the lines of Jensen’s smiling face and blinked back the tears threatening to fall again.
This was getting ridiculous; he had spent the last three days in this shit hole of a town instead of moving on like he should be doing. But he just couldn’t seem to make himself get in the car and drive over the border into Arizona like he should. Instead he just stayed there, only going out of his room long enough to get something to eat and a six pack of beer before returning and staring at the picture of the two of them.
Why was it so hard to leave the State? Because Jensen was only a few hours away? It wasn’t like he could go back; he had not only burnt that bridge but blown it sky high. And yet, there he was, moping around some little town like he was expecting Jensen to suddenly show up and drag him back home.
This, leaving this life behind, leaving Jensen behind, was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. Harder than when he had covered for Jeff when he was sixteen and gotten thrown into juvy for his efforts. Harder than packing up and leaving that life behind when he was twenty and tired of all the secrecy and lies and double lives. With Jeff he had thought he was doing the right thing to protect his older brother against a father that he had thought had caused their mother’s death. Leaving behind Jared Padalecki had been a no brainer, sure it had been scary as hell cutting all ties with the only remaining family he had left and the security of being a Padalecki but he had to do it if he was going to survive.
But leaving Jensen hadn’t been because he was covering for someone else or escaping a life he didn’t want any part of anymore. It hurt, an ache that had settled deep into his chest when he had first decided that leaving was his only option and it had only gotten steadily worse as the hours and then days wore on. He had wanted to be Jared Ackles, had full intentions of spending the rest of his life as Jared Ackles and that had been torn away from him cruelly and coldly by the looming shadow of his own brother.
Jared sighed and laid back against the flat lump the motel considered a pillow and shut his eyes. He was going to have to make a decision in the morning about what he was going to do, where he was going to go. There was no way he could stay where he was, not because he was in risk of getting seen, again, but because the lack of business in the town gave him too much time to think and not enough work opportunities that he could bury himself in.
A part of him considered going back to Texas, not San Antonia he wasn’t that stupid but Huston or maybe Dallas and start over there as a silent fuck you to his brother. But he knew he wouldn’t, no where in Texas was safe for him to hide.
He shut his eyes and threw an arm over his face, maybe Louisiana. He always wanted to go to New Orleans and hadn’t gotten the opportunity to go there yet. Maybe there he could lose himself for a while and just forget the pain. Mardi Gras was months away but he always wanted to be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and with months to spare he could set up his life again so that there was no distraction from the distraction of Mardi Gras.
The picture of Jensen and him clutched tightly in one hand, wedding band winking soft gold in the pale lamplight, Jared fell asleep dreaming not of Mardi Gras but Jensen.
Jensen sighed and ran a frustrated hand through his hair, not caring if he was messing it up or not. The night had been a bust, Sophia had stuck to his side for almost four hours, putting up with him sulking silently as he watched for his father to make an appearance before some blonde guy had come over and asked her to dance. It was painfully obvious that whoever he was, he wasn’t from Vegas and was extremely uncomfortable in a Tux but Sophia seemed enchanted by his stammering invitation to dance and with a quick nod from Jensen, she was gone. That had been almost an hour before and he had lost sight of her almost immediately after she left his side.
Then there was the fact that his father never did show up. For the first time in Jensen’s memory, the old man had foregone the Mayor’s Charity Ball and of course it had to be the night that Jensen actually had needed him to show up, drink and hob-knob.
Finally he had decided screw it and after a quick last look around for Sophia had left. He’d call her when he got back to the hotel, let her know that he had headed home and would be renting a limo to come and wait for when she was ready to leave. She’d either be pissed at him for ditching her or relieved because her new companion was better company than he had been all night.
Carefully he maneuvered his SUV down a side street, trying to avoid having to get on the strip and dealing with the traffic. Skipping the strip had seemed like a good idea at the time but the roads just off the strip always seemed darker than anywhere else in Vegas because of the backsplash from all the lights on the strip.
“Shit!” He hissed and slammed on the breaks, his body jerking hard against the seatbelt and then back into the seat. He glared out at the blonde woman standing inches from in front of his truck, her hands slowly lowering to her sides from where she had had been waving them over her head.
Perfect ending to a perfect day. He thought darkly and clenched his jaw, letting his hand fall to door handle and pulling on it. Just what he needed, a lost tourist looking for directions to her hotel which was probably only a block or two West. But he couldn’t, in all good conscious leave her there to blunder along.
“Problem?” He asked, fighting to keep the growl out of his voice, as he stepped out of the truck.
He must have succeeded because as they walked closer towards each other she was smiling, relief obvious in her eyes. “Yeah, my rental died and I don’t want to just leave it here.” She glanced around at the dark street before looking back at him and gave a little shrug, “I don’t know what the good part of town is compared to the bad and I really can’t afford my rental being stolen.”
You’re in Sin City lady, it’s all bad. Jensen managed a sympathetic smile even with his sarcastic thoughts and started walking back the way they had come. He really didn’t know much about cars but Christian’s hobby was taking apart motors and putting them back together so he figured he could at least take a look and see if he could figure it out before he offered to call a tow for her. If Christian ever found out that he didn’t at least try to do it on his own after all the hours Jensen had spent in a garage with him as a kid, he’d never let him live it down.
“Let’s see if we can get it started.”
“Thanks.” She breathed falling into step beside him and pointing out a little brown Civic and his heart sank.
Christian didn’t work on imports so chances were Jensen was screwed but he said he would try so he would try.
“Pop the hood.” He motioned towards the driver’s door and waited for the click until he lifted the hood up and out of the way. He’d look over the engine and if he didn’t see anything weird look, which, chances were, he knew he wouldn’t, then ask to try to start it himself so he could covertly check that she hadn’t run out of gas and then offer to stay with her while she waited for the tow truck that he was ultimately going to have to call.
He started, not realizing that she had come up behind him.
“No, not really.” He narrowed his eyes, trying to see better with the shadow of the hood blocking out most of the streetlight. “I think I’ll try to start it so I can hear what kind of no…”
There was a sharp pinch at the side of his neck and suddenly he could taste something funny at the back of his throat. Stumbling back, he spun and had to stick his arms out to keep his balance and glared at her.
“What did you do?” The words were slurred and he was having a hard time staying upright.
She smiled, blue eyes going hard, “Just a little tranq to make things easier Jensen.”
Blinking quickly, he managed to see her wave a syringe in her right hand before his knees gave out.
Kneeling down, she managed to dodge his flailing fists and grabbed him by the upper arms. “Now, now. No need to be cranky.”
Jensen tried to force his body to get back to its feet and head for his truck. If he could push her off and get to it, he could lock himself inside and call the cops on his cell, which, of course, was in his truck. He felt the world tip suddenly and he couldn’t stop his body from falling forward into her.
The breath wheezed from her parted lips and abstractly he could feel it moving the hair on the top of his head.
“Why?” He managed as his eyes slid closed and he couldn’t find the energy to make them open again.
Jensen wasn’t sure if she answered or not as the blackness rushed up to swallow him.