|Real Person Slash - Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. 71 - broken
||[Jan. 1st, 2011|08:35 pm]
The Ultimate FanFic Challenge!
Title: The Knight Across the Street
Fandom: Real person slash
Characters: Jensen Ackles/Jared Padalecki, jeffrey Dean Morgan
Prompt: 71 - broken
Word Count: 6,167
Summary: Jensen is a cop and rescues Jared from a domestic nightmare. Jeff helps.
Author's Notes: I own no one and this is totally fiction. No disrespect is meant. Warnings: Slash, domestic violence, cancer
All the money in the world couldn't make Jared feel better. He laid in bed, sick, unable to eat, and in pain. Every now and then his husband, Paul, popped his head in to see if he needed anything. He sounded so insincere. Jared almost tested him by asking for something once but he didn't want to press his luck.
Stuck in one room, he had more than ample time to think. He thought back to college and the optimistic view he had on life back then. Little did he know that he'd be stuck, bedridden with cancer, before he hit thirty.
He’d been so happy at college. He was a good student and had many friends. When he met Paul, it wasn’t planned. He wasn’t looking for anyone at the moment and Paul had struck up a conversation with him in the library. They had to ignore the stern looks from the librarian but their relationship was fun.
Then, when he was a senior, his life was shattered by a phone call.
Back then . . .
“May I speak to Jared Padalecki?”
“This is the Texas State Patrol calling. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. You might want to sit down.“
Jared was thankful he was at home on the couch when he answered. He had no doubt that he would have probably ended up on the floor otherwise. It took a minute for the words to sink in. His parents were killed by a drunk driver. He’d just spoken with them a couple days before. They were making plans for the next break, thinking about having a barbeque and inviting some of the extended family over.
He was in such shock over their deaths that he handed over the insurance checks to Paul since he had graduated the year before and had a knack for finance. His degree got him in the door for his job but his personal ability is what made him so successful. Jared didn’t want to deal with something as trivial as money where there was Justine, his little sister to think about.
Luckily, she hadn’t been in the car when it was struck. She felt guilty that she wasn’t dead, too, and Jared did his best to try to get her to see that it wasn’t her fault. He was so grateful that she was alive. It was just the two of them left in their immediate family. Each parent was an only child, so there were no aunts or uncles. They had relation that they just called their cousins for the sake of simplicity.
Jared took a semester off. Paul told him that he’d be fine and he would forward any legal papers that came to their apartment to Texas. Jared was his sister’s guardian and had to provide for her education. She wanted to stay in town with her friends and graduate from their high school. Jared couldn’t blame her. She’d had so much yanked away from her. Having the last few years of school with the people you’d grown up with, going to prom and homecoming and walking across the stage with them to get your diplomas wasn’t something he wanted to take away from her.
The Padalecki’s had money. They’d never had to struggle but they didn’t live in an extravagant style either. Everyone had what they needed. Jared’s college had been paid for so he could concentrate on his studies. He was sure his sister had a college fund for when she graduated.
Justine was popular at school and parents loved her for her well manners and good influence. She could get a little wild sometimes, but it was never something that parents found out about. Her best friend was Tia. She spent her time at Tia’s house after her folks were killed. That’s where Jared had picked her up from.
They went back to their childhood home and were almost choked by the emptiness they felt without the aroma of mom’s cooking floating through the house or dad’s constant griping about the computer. That machine always ate up his reports. Jared had tried to explain the action of saving documents before shutting the computer off but his dad didn’t have time for that. He’d just go back later and expect the figures to be there.
There was a double funeral. Some of Jared’s friends came home for a few days to help out. Paul was there for the service but had to return home the next day. Jared was just happy that he’d attended the service with him. Justine had been clinging to Jared and if he wouldn’t have had Paul’s arm around him, he could have crumbled and brought them both to the ground.
Even though Jared looked, there is no book to tell you what to do when your folks are gone. He took time going through papers and laid a big stack aside for Paul to look at later. He found their birth certificates and report cards. It was clearly stated in their Will that Jared was to get custody of Justine. That led him to brainstorming a way to keep her safe and happy.
Tia’s mother offered to have Justine stay at their house. She said it wouldn’t be a problem because Justine and Tia were so close and Justine was over there quite a bit anyway. Although he hated depending on the kindness of others, he allowed Justine to live with Tia’s family. He helped her choose the items to take to Tia’s with her.
Then, they basically closed the house up. The electricity and water was shut off and the phone disconnected. Jared left a key for Justine in case she needed to go home. She couldn’t live there, but she could get possessions that she’d forgotten and have a place to be alone with her memories.
She had squeezed him so tight before he left to go back to college. He promised her that he’d be home every break and whenever she needed him.
They had phone conversations at least twice a week. He knew when she had tests coming up and made it down to see her in the school play. He clapped the loudest in the audience and gave her roses. He was trying to do what his parents would have done. Their absence was always felt but Jared didn’t want Justine to miss out on anything their folks had provided for him. When he’d had his ball games, they came when they could but they always made it to the big ones. Then, they’d go out for steak and make a big deal of it. He wanted his sister to feel the same kind of pride that he did in high school.
When Jared graduated college, Justine came to visit the week before, went to the ceremony and returned to Texas with him. They had the area maid service open up their family home. The barbeque that he’d been planning with his parents right before their death morphed into a graduation party.
Jared stayed at home until the end of the summer. Justine moved back into the house with him. He was struggling with the idea of moving back home and finding a job there, but Paul was already working and loved his job. So, he stayed as long as he could. When the school year rolled around, Justine was a junior and Tia’s family was still thrilled to have her as a part of their clan.
Jared left to go back to Paul with a broken heart. He missed his sister terribly but realized that after graduation she’d probably not live back home, either. He was determined to not feel pressured to live anyone’s life but his own. His parents wouldn’t have wanted him to feel chained to a house that they’d chosen.
Paul loved his career and asked Jared to marry him. Jared had been with Paul for a couple years and he’d depended on him when he’d had to go to Texas for Justine. He couldn’t picture loving anyone else. Ecstatic, he replied, “Yes.”
Justine was beautiful in a long gown that matched Jared and Paul’s ascots and vests. Many photos were taken of all the smiling faces. Justine was so happy that Jared had found someone to share his life with. She worried about him. Now, she wouldn’t have to wonder if he’d be okay when she broke the news to him about the acceptance letter she’d received.
He took a week off to pack her up and move her to college. Jared took her security very seriously. She had an apartment with underground parking, a doorman, cameras scanning the halls inside and lot outside with round the clock surveillance.
Their phone chats continued until Jared got sick. He tried to hide his illness from her but she knew him too well. She flew to his side when he had surgery and was determined to stay through his chemo and radiation treatments. He talked her into returning by promising that he’d call her if anything changed and he would tell her to come if he needed her to.
Now . . .
His thoughts brought him back to the present. He really wished Justine was taking care of him. She had some of her mom’s ways about her and Jared couldn’t help but remember how his mom could make him feel better when he was sick. She’d sit at his bedside and read to him when he was too ill to go into the living room to watch television. Justine was probably just as patient. Paul wasn’t a nurturing kind of person. As Jared got sick, he’d actually begun to wonder if he even knew the man he’d married. Instead of feeling loved, he was a nuisance.
One day, when he was thinking of leaving, he had looked into his banking to see what he had for resources if he left Paul. He’d have to get a personal care attendant to help him until he was stronger. That’s when he discovered that when Paul had taken care of his finances for him when his parents died but he’d put it all in his own name. Jared had no claim to it. Without Paul, he’d have no money, no place to live and no one to take care of him. He was stuck. His only option was to stay with Paul.
Stress piled on at work, or at least that was what Paul claimed. He got so short with Jared that he was downright mean. There were no more empty offers of help. Grocery lists that Jared made remained untouched. Paul got take out instead. Sometimes there was some left for Jared, but it wasn’t easy to stomach while going through treatment.
He was sweating. His hair stuck to his forehead and obscured his vision. He’d just emptied his whole stomach and wanted to weep because the food had been so hard to get down in the first place. He’d tried calling Paul, but the secretary told him that Paul was in a very important meeting and not to be disturbed under any circumstances. So, she took a message. That had been hours before.
Leaving the bathroom, he tripped on the threshold and fell in the hall. He plainly heard his arm snap as the pain shot through his arm. Somehow, he reached the nearest phone and called for help.
Jensen was a cop. He enjoyed his job and he was good at it. When he got home in the evenings or mornings, depending on his shift, he’d glance at the house across the street. There was a man in a suit who kept hellish hours. Then, one day, he saw a stunning man get out of a taxi and go inside. Jensen’s jaw had dropped open when he saw the man. He was tall, tanned and laid back if his clothing was anything to go by.
Over time, Jensen found himself watching for the tanned man. Suddenly, he quit coming outside. There was a car with tinted windows that entered and exited through the garage but Jensen couldn’t see who was coming and going. The man never sat outside in the sun or even opened the living room drapes. He thought the situation was odd, but he didn’t have a legal reason to go over there. No one had been reported missing and maybe the man had just been visiting. Still, Jensen couldn’t get the picture of his dream man out of his mind.
He was home when the call came through. He recognized the address and dashed across the way. He knocked on the door and rang the bell. There was no answer. So, he broke in.
The house was dreary and dark. The living room was nothing but shadows.
“Hello?” Jensen called. “Do you need help?”
He scanned the area until he heard a whimpered, “Over here.”
There was a man in terrible pain. He was huddled against the wall and had a puddle of vomit nearby.
“My name is Officer Ackles. What happened?” He ignored the stench and waited for a reply.
“I think I broke my arm.” He looked up at Officer Jensen and he was shocked that it was the man of his dreams sitting injured before him.
“Help is on the way,” he assured the man. “Is there anyone I should call for you?”
The greasy head shook.
“I’ll sit with you until they get here, okay?” Jensen’s concern was making him mad. He’d seen the other man come and go from the house. How could he have left someone this sick alone?
“I’m doing chemo. I don’t feel too well.”
The look on Jared’s face shot Jensen into action. While keeping his hurt arm against his body, Jensen helped Jared lean to the side to be sick.
“That’s it,” he brushed the long hair back. “Have you been vomiting much today?”
Jared nodded. “I can’t keep anything down. You can call me Jared.”
“Okay, Jared. Here’s the plan. When the paramedics get here, I’ll grab you some clean clothes so you can take them with you to the hospital.”
“Thank you,” Jared whispered as he closed his eyes. He was leaning against Jensen, too weak to sit on his own.
As he predicted, the medics were busy with Jared and he took the time to grab some clothes for him. Seeing as Jared had been getting chemo, Jensen also grabbed a few items to make him feel a little more at home during his stay. Just a broken arm wouldn’t keep him in the hospital but the fact that he was battling cancer and so ill just might.
Some slippers, a picture from the nightstand of Jared and a girl, a robe and a book that laid open on the bed made it into the bag Jensen packed. He sent the belongings with the ambulance and told them that he’d lock the house up behind them.
Something was wrong, very wrong, and Jensen couldn’t put his finger on it. The man in the suit always looked so put together. Was he taking care of Jared like he should?
The fridge held a container of orange juice and margarine spread. The bread on the counter was starting to mold. The house smelled of sweat and sickness. How could he leave Jared here?
He was on his way down the hall when something caught his eye. It was a door that seemed to go to the attic. It was one that could be locked with a padlock from the outside. The lock was currently open, so Jensen decided to investigate.
The open door allowed the ripe air to assault his senses. There were stairs and then just one big room. There was a bare light bulb in the middle. A blanket laid on the floor. The room was empty other than that and a bucket. Closer inspection proved that it was indeed a makeshift toilet. Never emptied.
Pissed off, he stomped out of the house. He was headed to the hospital to see Jared but he took a quit detour to the precinct first. He wanted to go into Jared’s room armed with whatever knowledge he could have about Paul. If he knew their background, maybe he could understand their story better. As it was, he was stumped.
Jared felt better than he had in a long time. They’d set his arm and casted it. He was getting fluids and medication for his nausea. The pain killers had kicked in and he felt nothing. After so long of living in constant pain, it was pure heaven.
“Jared?” a familiar face popped in the door. “Are you up to visitors?”
“Sure,” Jared was happy to see the policeman that had been the first to arrive. “Thanks for grabbing stuff for me. It looks like I’m going to be here for a few days at least.”
“I figured that after you mentioned chemo.” Jensen walked over to the window and looked out. He had a question he wanted to ask and he wasn’t sure how to put it. “I saw something at your house that concerns me.”
Warning bells went off in Jared’s head. What could he have seen?
“Why do you have a lock on your attic?” he went for the direct approach.
“I didn’t know we had one.”
“Really? What do you keep in your attic?”
“Just some old junk. Paul’s been storing stuff up there. Paul’s my husband.”
That last part really hurt Jensen. Not only was the guy a shitty boyfriend, he was a shitty husband. That made it a whole lot trickier.
“Paul works outside the home?”
“Does he provide for you?”
“Does he take care of you?”
“What is this about?” Jared demanded. “I called to get help because I fell. I told you I didn’t know about the lock on the attic. What more do you want?”
Jensen captured Jared’s gaze and held it. Seething with anger and trying not to let it sound in his voice he asked, “Who gets locked in the attic and uses the bucket for a bathroom?”
Shocked, Jared’s face went white. “I think you need to leave.”
“Okay,” he acquiesced. “I’ll leave my card here in case you want to talk.” With that, he walked out the door.
Jared turned the card over in his hand a couple times. He’d tried so hard to keep it all under wraps. Paul was just going through tough times and then it would all be back to normal. Why did the nice cop have to go putting his nose where it didn’t belong?
“Hi, I’m Officer Ackles.” Jensen flashed a badge at the nurses’ station. “Can you tell me what injuries Jared came in with?”
“I can give you the report,” a harried nurse handed over a sheet. “Put that back in the chart when you’re done.”
“Thanks.” He flashed her a smile, walked around a corner and leaned up against the wall to read the details about Jared.
Bruising in various stages of healing. Bedsores not infected yet. Broken right arm. Previous injuries minimal upon patient’s recollection but numerous upon reviewing chart. Undergoing chemotherapy with radiology to follow. Severe dehydration. Bruising prevalent on torso with handprints on extremities. Patient claims he just bruises easily. These are clear handprints and fingerprints. Patient is in denial.
Jensen folded the paper up and put it in his pocket. He knew the nurses had another copy or could get one from the computer.
He walked to a diner down the street from the hospital. He wanted to stay close in case Jared phoned. There was a tickle on the back of his neck that just told him to kill time in the area. Until that feeling went away, that was exactly what he’d do.
Halfway through eating, he paused to take a call. “Officer Ackles.”
“Hi, um, this is Jared?”
“Jared, how are you feeling?”
“To what do I owe this call?” Jensen felt that Jared was beating around the bush about something and he didn’t like it.
“Um, Paul came to visit.”
Jensen stayed silent, knowing there was more.
“He thought I was being selfish.”
Jared sounded so small. “He’s right, you know. My world doesn’t really include him. I’m either asleep, sick or at the doctor’s office.”
“How is getting medical treatment selfish?”
“I don’t pay enough attention to him. He gets upset with me when I can’t participate in activities he enjoys.”
In an instant, Jensen put his finger on what was making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. “These activities Paul wants you to participate in are intimate or sexual in nature?”
“I want to be active, too. I just can’t be.”
“How mad does Paul get when activities are out of the question?”
“I think you know.” Jared whispered, “You found my room.”
It wasn’t easy by any means. Jensen had to let Jared go home with Paul because the patient had insisted. He was embarrassed that Jensen knew his secret but he wasn’t ready to leave. Jensen grit his teeth as he saw the car pull into the garage across the street and knew that Jared was inside. Jared was going to get out of that house. Jensen would get him out or Paul would kill him.
The windows stayed covered. Jensen had binoculars next to his chair when he sat by his picture window. He made a habit of looking outside to see any sign of Jared. When he saw the light shine through the thin curtain in the attic in the middle of the night, he grabbed his binoculars for a closer look.
Jared peeked through the window at Jensen’s house. From the look on his face, he was pleading for help. Jensen was determined to get Jared out of there. The only question was how.
“I’m familiar with Paul,” Dr. Misha told him. “He makes sure Jared keeps all his appointments.”
“Does he accompany Jared on these appointments?”
“He was with Jared for a couple of them. I wasn’t fond of the man.”
“What do you mean?”
The doctor sighed. “I’ve seen many family members over the years. It is true that they don’t all act the same when their loved one is sick. However, he seemed to always keep himself separate from Jared. He never once held his hand or offered any comfort that I saw. It could be that he’s just a private man, but it seemed odd.”
Jensen jotted down some notes. “How does he get to his treatments?”
“He has a driver that brings him. It’s the same man every time.”
“Do you know who he is?”
“His name was Jeff, I think. He’s older than Jared, a little shorter and sports a dark beard.”
“How does he treat Jared?”
“Are you inquiring what their relationship is?” the doctor asked. “I’m not privy to that information but he treats Jared like a friend.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me about Paul?” Jensen tried one last time to pick the doctors memory.
Dr. Misha shook his head.
“I’ll leave my card with you in case anything else comes to mind.” Jensen turned to leave and then stopped. “Doctor, how sick is Jared?”
“His cancer is treatable.”
“When’s his next appointment?”
Dr. Misha typed on the computer. “Tomorrow. Tomorrow at two o’clock.”
“Thank you for your time, doctor.” Jensen had all the information he needed to cement his opinion about Paul. Now, he just had to work on Jared to get him to see the light.
Jensen made sure that Jared was already taken back for treatment before approaching Jeff in the waiting room.
“Mr. Jeffrey Morgan? I’m Officer Ackles. I’d like to talk to you about Jared Padalecki and his husband, Paul.”
“I don’t know Paul. I only met him once, when he hired me. Why do you need to talk to me?”
“I’m concerned about Mr. Padalecki’s well-being and thought you might have some insight.” Jensen was poised with his pen above his pad of paper. “Is there anything you can tell me about their home or their relationship?”
“Like I said, I don’t know Paul. Jared is a wonderful guy. It’s a pity that he’s sick.”
“Yes, it is. Have you noticed anything, anything at all, that struck you as being odd or just not right?”
Jeff thought for a minute. “Whenever I talk to Paul, he never asks how Jared is doing. I don’t know that he even keeps track of Jared’s treatments or progress. I get Jared’s appointments from the nurse and make sure he gets to them. Paul just signs the checks.”
“What condition is Jared in when you arrive to pick him up?”
“Condition? He’s usually sick.”
“Does he appear to have everything he needs? Is he neglected?”
“He’s had a rough time of it. I’ve never dealt with someone with such a serious illness until Jared. He’s coping as best he can.”
Jensen nodded as he scribbled his thoughts down.
“Did you want to talk to Jared? He should be done in a few minutes.”
“No, I don’t want to bother him unnecessarily. I’m going to look further into this before I trouble him.”
“Trouble who?” Jared interrupted them. “What are you doing here, Officer Ackles? Jeff? What’s going on?”
“I was just inquiring about your welfare.”
Silent, Jeff wasn’t going to say anything.
“Why weren’t you talking to me then?” Jared crossed his arms over his chest.
“You were busy. So, how have you been?”
“Besides nauseated and tired? Fine.”
“There’s nothing you need to tell me?”
“You really do have in inflated sense of self-importance. You gave me your card the first time we met, remember?”
“Actually, that was the second time we met. The first time, you were in too much pain to even know I was there.”
“So it was the second time. What are you trying to find or get me to admit?”
“Nothing that isn’t true,” Jensen replied. “I’m just here to listen.”
“I’m not talking.” Jared turned to Jeff. “Can we go now?
“Sure,” Jeff picked up Jared’s coat and helped him get it over his cast. “Car’s just outside.”
Jensen watched them walk out, wishing that Jeff was the one living with Jared. He really wanted to be the one residing with Jared but Jeff would be a huge improvement over Paul.
Another visit with Dr. Misha made Jensen feel like he was getting somewhere. The doctor listened to Jensen’s concerns and admitted that when he’d visited with Jared during their last appointment, he’d been shocked at the mere number of bruises on Jared’s body. Being in treatment could cause problems with bleeding but Jared was well-educated about the risks and what he needed to avoid. He didn’t think Jared would take the warnings lightly.
“He’s too responsible to be careless.”
“Did he say how he got the bruises?”
“Said they were from being clumsy or absent-minded.”
“Could they have been?”
“Some of them, sure. I doubt the ones that look like they were inflicted on him could be explained away.”
“If he says anything that could incriminate Paul, give me some evidence of his abusive behavior, will you call me?”
Dr. Misha nodded. “Of course. I’d do anything to ensure the safety of my patients.”
Frustrated, Jensen still kept his post at his front window, spying on the house across the street. A light went on in the attic, and Jensen shut his lamp off so he could see better.
The ragged curtains shuddered like someone was pulling on them. Then, the curtains, rod and all, fell.
“Shit!” Jensen jumped to his feet. He scrambled for his phone and dialed the number he had listed for Jeff. “This is Officer Ackles. Do you have a key for Padalecki’s? I need you to go to their house immediately. I’ll meet you outside.”
Minutes ticked away while Jensen waited for Jeff to arrive. He kept an eye on the bare window but didn’t see anything past the pane. Finally, Jeff pulled up to the curb.
“Did something happen?” Jeff was still wearing his pajamas under his coat.
Jensen‘s gut told him that it wasn‘t a possibility, but he had to be sure. “You really don’t know what’s going on?”
“No, I don’t. Do you?”
“I have my suspicions and they’re all bad.”
Jeff was still in the doorway with the key in his hand when Jensen pushed past. He didn’t waste any time. He went directly to the attic door and picked the padlock. When he opened the door, he heard a whimper. He didn’t want Jared to think that he was Paul, so he said quietly, “It’s just me, Jensen. I’m here to help.”
It wasn’t hard to find Jared with the trail of smeared blood. Jared laid in a ball, curled up underneath the window, curtains still clutched in his hand.
“Jared?” Jensen skidded to his knees and turned the poor man’s face until he cold press the material of the curtain against his broken nose. He flipped open his cell and called for help. When he heard footsteps, he whirled around to see Jeff standing there in shock.
“Oh my god,” Jeff swore. “Is he alive?”
“Yes, and I’ve called 9-1-1. Make sure Paul doesn’t come up here, okay? Let the paramedics in.”
“Paul left,” Jared choked out.
“Don’t worry about Paul,” Jensen corrected himself. “Just make sure emergency services finds us.”
Jeff nodded and went back downstairs.
“Hang in there, Jared.” Jensen rattled on to the man in an attempt to keep him calm. “You’re safe now. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you.”
Not only had Paul left the house, he’d actually left Jared for good. He had the money transferred to new investments that bore no inkling to money that Jared had inherited. His belongings were packed in his luxury car and he was headed over the border. Another country, a new alias and no past to catch up with him. He’d found that he couldn’t outright kill Jared like he’d planned. Still, knowing about Jared’s bleeding issues meant that he was probably already unconscious and well on his way to death.
He was stopped at Customs but wasn’t worried. It was just a routine check and he had all his papers in order. He was surprised when the police handcuffed him. They had to taser him because he fought so much. The one with the taser gave him an extra jolt just for being an asshole in general.
Jensen sat by Jared’s bedside. The younger man was asleep and staying by him was the only way Jensen could assure himself that Jared was alright. Well, not alright, exactly, but he would be.
Dr. Misha had run extra tests on Jared’s blood work. Considering that his husband had just fled the country, he wanted to make sure that he didn’t miss anything and there would be enough evidence to put the jerk away.
A hand on his shoulder woke Jensen from his light slumber. It was the doctor.
“I have good news,” his smile was wide. “I have evidence that Paul was trying to poison Jared. The poisoning caused the cancer-like symptoms. Jared is cancer-free.”
“He doesn’t have cancer? Did he ever?”
“Not as far as I can tell. The way his body responded to the poisoning mimicked cancer. The man was put through horrendous treatment for new reason whatsoever.”
“That bastard’s going to pay,” Jensen didn’t realize he’d said his threat out loud.
“He’s in custody already. He was stopped trying to cross the border. They should be able to keep him until you have your case ready.”
“What happens to Jared?” Jensen whispered.
“He’ll be in the hospital for awhile. It will take time to get the poison out of his system and get his body back to normal function. It’s not going to be easy but I have faith that he’ll be fine. He’s a strong man. He’s lucky to be alive.”
Silence filled the room as Jensen settled back into the uncomfortable chair and continued to watch over the man he’d fallen for. He wasn’t sure when it had happened, but he knew there was no use trying to deny it. Maybe, when Jared was healthy again, he would return the feelings. Jensen could only hope.
“You’ll be able to go home tomorrow,” Dr. Misha told Jared. “Do you have someone who an pick you up and stay with you? You’re going to be weak for awhile.”
“No, I don’t.”
The doctor nodded. “Well, we have until tomorrow to think of something. Don’t worry about it.”
How could Jared not worry about it? Paul had isolated him from everyone. He had no friends to speak of and his only family was his sister in Texas. He’d just have to bluff his way. He could get a taxi to pick him up. Once home, he could take care of himself. He always did.
He changed into his clothes and sat on the bed, waiting to be discharged.
“You look ready to go,” Dr. Misha entered the room with a wheelchair. “Have a seat and I’ll bust you out of this joint.”
“I haven’t called anyone--” Jared started.
“It’s all arranged,” the doctor assured him. “All you have to concentrate on is getting better.”
Jared nodded and wondered what he was in store for.
“He was by your bed the whole time when it was touch and go. He even removed himself from your case so that the defense couldn’t claim that he’d tainted the investigation. Give him a chance,” Dr. Misha whispered in his ear.
Jensen shifted from side to side nervously. “Jared okay to go, Doc?”
“He sure is. Just have him take it easy for a few days. Call me if anything seems suspicious.”
“Will do.” Jensen opened the car door. “Your chariot awaits.” He helped Jared into the passenger seat.
“You really don’t have to do this. I haven’t been that nice to you.”
“I wanted to. Besides, you weren’t feeling good. I didn’t expect you to be your most social.”
“But you saw me at my worst.”
“I see lots of folks at their worst. I didn’t think anything of it. You were just someone who needed my help that impressed the hell out of me, by the way.”
“How? By puking?”
“With your determination.”
“I was wrong.”
“Yeah, you were, but you were going all out in the wrong direction. You don’t do anything halfway.”
They pulled into the drive.
“Thanks for the ride.” Jared tried to get out of the truck.
“I’ll walk you in.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I got you here, didn’t I? I’m bringing you in.”
Jared quit arguing. He moved slowly, stiff from being in bed for so long.
“Jared!” a lady flew at him as soon as he walked in the door. He hugged his sister and then looked over at Jensen, who just shrugged.
“How are you doing? I came as soon as Jensen called. Why didn’t you tell me about Paul? Never mind. I’m here now and you’re on the mend.”
Together, Jensen and Justine had removed blatant reminders of Paul and what he’d done. The attic was freshly scrubbed and painted with colorful curtains that were tied back to let in the sunlight.
“It’s beautiful,” Jared had tears in his eyes. “You put so much work into it, but I can’t stay here.”
Justine gave Jensen a confused glance. “We can always go home, Jared. I can have someone open it up for us.”
“There’re so many bad memories.”
“Let’s leave,” Jensen put his arm around Jared’s shoulders. “We’ll get you headed home.”
Jared and his sister spent the night at Jensen’s. He drove them cross-country the next day. Once he made sure their house was well-stocked, he returned home again.
It started out with phone calls just to check in. When Jensen was due some vacation time, he went down for a visit.
The new Jared looked tan, healthy and confident. During one of his visits, Jared admitted that he returned Jensen’s romantic feelings. He had a real-life knight in shining armor.
They took it slow. After several visits to Texas staying with the Padalecki’s, Jensen asked for and received a transfer.
Paul was found guilty and sentence to the maximum. After his conviction, it didn’t take long to return Jared’s money to him.
Justine decided to go to college in town. She chose to have her own apartment but came home quite often.
Jensen and Jared lived in and loved the house Jared and Justine had grown up in. It held so many good memories and they’d make more of their own over the years.