Chapter : 10/10
Rating: pg13; au
Summary: An actor looking to hide, an old cabin by a beautiful lake and an old ghost story.
Authors note: My thanks to a wonderful beta Chrys, I have had such fun and I hope made her glad she decided to help me out, and I hope we can do this again. To my special english freak Di, without whom I doubt I would have even finished.
“Maybe you should think about heading back with me?” Chris suggested, not for the first time.
“No. Not yet.” Jensen’s answer hadn’t changed. Chris sighed.
“Jensen come on dude...you got me worried here. It’s been a week.” Chris tried to sound patient but he wondered when Jensen would show some sign that he was recovering from everything he’d been through.
“I know how long it’s been Chris.” Jensen said his voice flat. God, he knew how long it had been. His heart seemed to count off every goddamn second of every hour since the small service by the lake. The service that had put Jared to rest and sent him to Bill, had also sent him away...away from Jensen. He was having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that he would never hear Jared speak, or see him again. Chris moved to sit directly in front of Jensen, effectively blocking out his view of the spot where the evening Sun was shining down on the two trees.
“Jensen, please, come back with me. You need to get back into it man. Sitting around here is not going to help. A couple weeks back in the city and you’ll forget all about this. It will do you good, come on.” Chris was reduced to pleading; he was scared he was going to lose Jensen. Jensen, forced to take his eyes from the trees he had been studying with increasing regularity over the past week, blinked as if seeing Chris for the first time and shook his head.
“No.” He said his voice firm.
“Jensen.” Chris threatened to start up again and Jensen’s mouth thinned.
“No Chris!” He repeated and rising from his seat Jensen moved away from Chris to lean on the deck railing, once more his attention was riveted on the back yard and Jared’s trees. “Not yet, ok? Just…not yet. I’m not ready.” He said his voice quiet.
“You have to move from this Jensen. You have a life to live.” Chris hesitated before closing his eyes briefly and forging on, “He wouldn’t want this for you...” Jensen turned to glare at him but Chris ignored him, “You know he wouldn’t Jensen. You helped him and he will be forever grateful to you, and he said he would always be near right? Jensen, he wouldn’t want you pining away your life here...not like he did for hundreds of years...no matter where you go now Jensen he will be near. But you can’t stay hidden here forever dude.” Jensen tilted his head stubbornly and turned his back to stare out over the back yard once more and Chris sighed. “Jensen I’m sorry dude. I know what it feels like...”
“No you don’t. Chris, no you don’t!” Jensen protested, no one understood what he was going through, how much it hurt to have loved Jared without ever having the slimmest hope that it could happen, and now he was gone.
Chris stood and walked over to his friend.
“You think you are the only person to ever fall in love? You think you are the only man to fall in love with someone you can never have? Well I have news for you Jensen...You’re not! It happens every goddamn day! It tears your heart right out of your goddamn chest and you wish to god you had never set eyes on her! It’s fucking torture to look and not be able to touch, to know that she will never be yours! So don’t fucking stand there drowning in self pity party and act like you’re the only man who has ever had your heart broken!” Chris raged at his friend his temper getting the best of him.
“Chris I...” Jensen tried to say something, but Chris held up his hand, silencing whatever it was Jensen was going to say, “Don’t Jensen, I’m not trying to turn this into a competition to see whose life is more fucked up, I’m just trying to let you know that yes, your situation is kinda unique in that you managed to fall in love with a freaking ghost, but...the theory is the same my friend. You have gotten your heart bruised up pretty bad, and I know how that feels and the best thing you can do now is to separate yourself from it for a while. Get back to work; give your heart time to heal.”
Jensen lowered his head and Chris stepped forward and placed a hand on his shoulder, “I’m sorry I yelled at you. But you’re one hell of a stubborn ass when you get going and I’m just worried about you. Trust me on this Jensen and let me help you through...” whatever else he had to say was interrupted by someone clearing his throat behind them. They turned together to face the intruder.
“I’m so sorry, but I knocked and no one answered and the front door was ajar and I just wanted to come say hello but I can see I am interrupting something massive here....” The voice was familiar. The accent, pure Texas, was thicker but the sound was unmistakeable, the stranger paused but the pair didn’t make a sound, simply stared. “I’m rambling aren’t I? I’m sorry...I will go and come back another time...” He said with a worried frown as both men stared at him in what appeared to be shock. The dark haired one was paler than the other, but both seemed to be devouring his face with their eyes. He began to back away, worried that they were unbalanced.
“Ok uhhhh well I will see myself out...I can uhh come back and introduce myself another time...” He said as he continued to move away, He flashed a nervous grin and the sight of his dimples opened their eyes wider and the dark haired man gasped. The Texan’s smile faltered, and he kept backing away unwilling to turn his back on them. The sound of a snarl stopped him in his tracks, he was shocked by the look of rage that contorted the face of the shorter of the two and before he had time to realize the rage was directed at him the man was on him, pushing him back against the door frame. The height difference turned the threat into a joke, but unwilling to drive the man to violence he kept still.
“Who the hell are you and what kind of sick fucking joke have you been playing on us huh?” Chris demanded, his frustration with the situation diving his rage to the edge of his control. He had no sense of threat from the man he’d backed against the wall, but he was going to find out what was going on, and he wasn’t waiting for later. The man raised his hands, proof that he meant no harm.
“My name is Jared Padalecki,” he said voice low and calm the way one spoke to frightened animals, he wasn’t sure what would happen if he gave the wrong answer, “I own this place and I was just…”
“You’re lying! You fucking piece of shit! I’m gonna...” Chris grabbed the front of Jared’s shirt; his anger that someone had been playing a trick on Jensen pushed him beyond reason.
“Chris! Stop it for Christ’s sake stop it! You’re gonna hurt him! Chris!” Jensen grabbed Chris and after a short struggle managed to pull him off the man claiming his name was Jared. Christ stood back panting; his eyes spit fire and promised hellfire.
“Go for a walk Chris.” Jensen told him. Chris didn’t answer but the stubborn set to his chin as he continued to glare at the intruder made it clear that he didn’t intend to go anywhere. Jensen pushed against his chest, “Chris, just go. I want to talk to…Jared…alone.” The glower on Chris’ face darkened.
“No fucking way Jensen, this guy is some sort of psychopath or something.” He turned to Jared again and glared “I don’t know how you did it, how you managed to completely fool not only Jensen but a goddamn priest, but I’m gonna kick your ass!”
“For Christ’s sake Chris! He didn’t do anything!” Jensen yelled back, “Can’t you see the difference you dumb fuck?! Look at him!” Chris stared at Jensen for a few seconds and the younger man inclined his head toward Jared and he finally took a good look at the nervous looking man before them. This version of Jared was a couple of years older than their ghost, he was about the same build but his shoulders were a little wider. His face held none of the pain that their ghost had held; he had a healthy glow to his features and eyes were free of grief. They were not the eyes of a man who had suffered such loss in his short life. His hair was shorter, not by much but definitely shorter and had the fashionable unkempt look and not the wild look of ghost Jared. Chris relaxed a little.
“See? Now, go for a walk Chris ok? Go cool down somewhere, and let me talk to him alright?” Jensen urged. Chris’ gaze turned to Jensen; he met his friend’s eyes for a long minute before he nodded. He shot a warning glance at Jared before he turned and walked away, leaving the two mean alone to talk.
After Chris left, Jensen walked away from Jared and returned to where he had been standing at the rail. He stared out at the pair of trees planted by another Jared so long ago; the light of the setting sun cast them in an eerie glow. He needed a couple seconds to think, he clutched the rail willing his hands to stop shaking and praying the way his body shook with tremors wasn’t obvious.
“Look....I’m sorry, I seemed to have walked in on something, I can....” Jared began, but was silenced by the hand Jensen raised in his direction. Jensen cursed quietly when he was unable to still the trembling of his upraised hand. He just wanted the guy to quit talking; he couldn’t bear to hear his voice, not yet. Looking at him struck straight to his heart. Jensen kept his eyes fixed on the trees has his breathing quickened, he was going into a full blown panic attack. He stumbled down the deck stairs towards the one place he’d feel safe. Jensen sank to his knees between the tree’s letting the calm wash over him. He didn’t realize he was crying as he reached out to lay his shaking hands on the trunk of the tree he thought of as Jared’s. He pulled in a deep breath and struggled to control the emotions that were threatening to overwhelm him.
Jared watched horrified as Jensen seemed to collapse under the trees. He wanted to leave, to turn on his heel and get away. Jensen reached out and touched the tree and Jared’s eyes widened with shock. He stared at the scene before him with disbelief as the familiarity of it stirred fear and confusion in his heart. A puzzle that had haunted him his entire life began to come together, he moved hesitantly to where Jensen knelt in the grass uncertain of what reception he’d find. Slowly Jared knelt beside him and laid his hand alongside Jensen’s on the trunk. He waited in silence until Jensen turned to gaze at him through his tears.
“When I was a kid, I used to dream...” Jared said quietly; his eyes travelled to the trunk his hand was caressing. Jensen gazed at him seemingly transfixed by Jared and the sound of his voice. “My Mama used to say I was a dreamer, ‘cause I used to act out these weird dreams in my back yard.” His eyes pleaded with Jensen to understand, “I was always a cowboy, always...I used to imagine a life by the sea, a small house, I always had these trees in the backyard of my imaginary house and I would climb the trees in my own back yard and pretend it was those trees. I would sit there for hours talking to an imaginary friend about our lives and how it would be. My friend was a big man, this friend, with a strong Irish accent, but I wasn’t afraid of him. Everyone thought he wasn’t real, but he was. He never scared me he was just there, always there...” Jared sighed and took his hand away from the tree; he settled cross legged beside Jensen on the thick grass and leaned forward as he continued.
“As I got older, those dreams grew less clear, and....when I realised at fifteen I was gay, I started to see another face in my dreams...it was never clear and I couldn’t describe it, but it was always there. It never scared me; it was comforting....like...someone was out there...waiting for me.” Jared laughed, he knew how crazy he sounded, but when Jensen didn’t comment simply stared into the twilight and waited for him to continue he found the courage to do so, “But I was still my Mama’s dreamer and she encouraged me to act...to use my overactive imagination and my restless soul as she called it, so I did. I left home right after high school and travelled. I act on stage...I have spent the last nine years or so travelling the worlds stage as such, living here and there, never settling....I couldn’t you know? It was as if something inside me wouldn’t let me stay in any one place for long, searching for something that I had no idea I had lost....” as he spoke, Jensen turned and faced Jared again, listening with rapt attention as the younger man tried to explain something that Jensen already knew.
“I’ve been in London the last few years. The longest time I have ever spent in one place, and I’d forgotten about this place. I got a call that it had passed to my name but....I let a friend of mine take care of renovating it and putting it up for lease. I just....I didn’t want to come home, I felt like there was nothing here for me.” He shrugged and glanced at Jensen and held his eyes for a moment before looking out into space again. “A week ago I got another call....it was late, I was just home from the theatre and I was exhausted you know? So this guy tells me he is the realtor looking after this place and that someone wanted to buy it. He said the offer was generous and more than I would get if I were to put it on the market. Since I’d forgotten it and the money sounded real good, there was no reason to say no, especially when he said I wouldn’t even need to come home. We arranged for everything through email and fax and that was that.” He raised his face to what was left of the evening sun and in that instant Jensen could see his Jared in this young man and his breath caught.
“The next evening, I was at the theatre and getting ready to go on stage when I got dizzy and the next thing I knew I woke up on a couch back stage with a bunch of people around me. I’m an actor and I’m used to being stared at but the press of them so close and worried made me claustrophobic. I had to get away, and so I did. I just got up and walked out on the pushy worried crowd and on the play. When I got back to the apartment I knew I had to come home…it was like...” He shrugged “It was like something fell into place. I just knew I wanted to come home, I had to come home. So I did...I left it all and went straight home to Texas....but....it things still weren’t right....I didn’t know what was wrong...but something didn’t feel right, even at home. When I got another call from the realtor yesterday, it hit me. This was where I was supposed to be....I needed to come here. So I did. I have never been here in my life, and I didn’t contact the realtor, but I came straight here....I didn’t even think about it till just now...but I came here without instructions. How did I do that?” His eyes were wide and a little fearful, but Jensen could almost see a few more pieces of the puzzle settling into place in Jared’s mind. “So I come to this place, where I’ve never been and here you are....” His voice lowered, “It was your face I was seeing wasn’t it? In my dreams. It was your face....” he whispered in wonder. “The man that was my friend all those years ago...your face....so much seems clear....but it shouldn’t ....it can’t be real, stuff like this just doesn’t happen in real life. Supernatural bullshit. It can’t be real, and yet it’s happening....I know you....but we’ve never met. Why do I know you? You feel familiar and.....safe......I don’t understand what’s going on… what’s happening to me?”
Jensen stared at the young man; Jared’s face momentarily overlaid by a ghostly one. Jared met his gaze his expression filled with fear and wonder, the other was at peace. The ghostly shimmer smiled as it floated in front of Jared’s. It nodded; its eye’s glinted as if to say “I told you so.” And then the two faces melded into one and something inside Jensen eased. He smiled at Jared and reached out for Jared’s hand. He let it hover in the air between them, waiting for Jared to meet him half way. Jared hesitated and then his eyes locked with Jensen’s as he closed his big hand over his. They both stared shocked at their joined hands in reaction to the connection that jolted them both. Jensen’s wide green eyes met Jared’s awed golden gaze and Jensen shook his head in stunned disbelief. He leaned forward and brushed his lips across Jared’s soft warm lips.
“What’s happening is that you’ve come home.”
“Home?” Jared asked hope beginning to break through his confusion. Jensen nodded and his smile lit his face.
“Don’t worry, I will explain everything.” He said. His smile brightened when the worry disappeared from Jared’s face and his smile carved deep dimples into his cheeks. Jensen leaned forward once more, his fingers tracing those dimples he had longed to touch for what seemed like forever and this time when he raised his mouth to Jared’s, Jared met him halfway in a kiss rich with the promise of beginnings. Jared broke the kiss but didn’t pull away, his forehead resting on Jensen’s he breathed,