Warnings: m/m slash, angst, language
Summary: Once upon a time, they had the perfect relationship. Until one day, they didn’t.
Author Notes: Set during filming of S4, no spoilers. Written for my dear friend matty_parkman who asked for something inspired by a Sunrise Avenue number. I chose ‘Fairytale Gone Bad’, rather it chose me heh. It's probably not what you had in mind hon, still hope you like it. Thanks shalooney for the beta. Song can be downloaded here.
Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. Which means it is not real, never happened, entirely make-believe. Not for profit. No slander or defamation intended to any real people mentioned, only borrowing their fantastic hot personas for creative exercise and fun.
Word Count: 4700
They all make mistakes and so did we
But we did something we can never turn back right..
Jensen starts packing right away.
He doesn’t think he can step foot in this house ever again. His rage coils up tight in the pit of his stomach like a three-foot long snake, and he keeps his lips pursed tight just in case he says something cruel, something venomous.
Something he couldn’t possibly take back, like the fist he let fly a minute ago.
He pulls out his overnighter and starts throwing in all his things carelessly - his clothes, his boots and sneakers, his toothbrush and shaving kit and cologne. His Zippo lighter, which he digs out from behind the bookshelf where Jared thought he’d hidden it quite safely, but Jensen had known where it was all along. He pulls on his jacket last, and walks out to the living room to put his guitar back in its protective case. Slings it over one shoulder and comes back into the bedroom.
Jared is sitting right where he left him, on the floor leaning against his side of the bed, Jensen’s side. He tugs violently at the shoulders of his own ragged t-shirt, his arms crossed tightly over his chest. One of his pajama-clad legs is folded up to his chest, the other stretched out listlessly, nearly tripping Jensen up as he goes about getting his stuff together.
Jared’s cheeks are still streaked and the split lip stopped bleeding a while ago but no way would it be unnoticeable in the morning. He doesn’t look up when Jensen walks in to pick up his bag one last time. His brimming hazel eyes don’t follow Jensen as he walks out to the lobby. His voice doesn’t unfreeze long enough to try one last time to make his boyfriend stay.
Jensen drops his key on the mantel by the door and leaves.
Kripke calls the apartment again, and like the last eight times, gets the machine again. This time though he huffs and leaves a long-winded message, hoping for the improbable chance that Jensen would pick up just to yell back at Eric. At least he’d be talking.
“Ackles, I’m up to here with your unprofessional shit, man. We’re on reruns now. The network is going fucking nuts and I don’t know if they’ll give me that fifth season after this. You’ve got to get your act together, dude.”
Jensen stays put on the couch where he’s been sitting for the past… he’s not sure how long. In the same clothes he’s been wearing for three days, his three-day old stubble scratching against the hand that he uses to rub his eyes open with. He reaches out for his glass of scotch only to find it empty. And that’s when he decides to get up, to pull out another bottle out of the bar cabinet.
“It’s been way too long, man. I can only give you guys so much time and you know I’ve got none left. Do you have any idea how much every hour is costing me?”
Jensen pours himself two fingers of the scotch and fishes out a new pack of Marlboro Lights before going back to the couch.
“This is it, man. We have to start shooting tomorrow. I wanna see your butt on set at six A.M sharp. You got that?”
The ashtray is overflowing with cigarette butts, but he doesn’t care. His hand shakes with the excess nicotine, especially since he hasn’t smoked in over a year, as he lights up again. Meanwhile, Kripke is still talking, the decibel levels of his life-altering monolog now reaching hazardous levels.
“Jensen? I know you’re there, damn it. Please tell me you -”
The machine cuts him off.
The car comes to pick Jared up at five thirty next morning. He’s shivering as he waits at the curb for a change, instead of inside the warmth of his house. He pulls the SUV’s door open and sees Jensen already seated inside, looking out of his window with no intention to say hi. Or anything else for that matter. It’s been ten days.
Jared is wearing black shades to hide his puffy eyes, gets in stiffly, folding his long body into the limited space of the vehicle, and they drive to work. He doesn’t greet Jensen either.
They stop at their favorite Starbucks, which is basically the only one that’s open at this ungodly hour on the way to the set. Brad, their chauffeur, jumps out to get their usual orders.
Jared tenses up more than he thought was physically possible. It’s not that he fears Jensen would get violent again. But the continued silence only tightens the barbed knots of guilt in his chest, squeezing all the air out of his lungs. He is contemplating getting out of the car and join Brad in the shop when Jensen finally decides to take pity on him.
“We have to act professional. Can’t let the show suffer anymore.”
Jared swallows around the giant lump in his throat but doesn’t respond, keeps looking out his window, clammy hands buried deep in his jacket pockets.
“I need this job. Please try not to fuck this up too.”
Brad returns right then.
“Here you go, guys. Jensen – your triple espresso. And Jared - your venti caramel macchiato, and a bar of your favorite Hershey’s dark.”
“Thanks bro,” Jared manages to say in a voice that, shockingly, isn’t as weak as it sounds to his own ears.
He waits for Jensen to lift his coffee cup from the tray, then leans forward to take the larger one with holder and extra sugar and stirrer and everything in his unprotected hands. In the past Jensen would have reminded him but that’s in the past, of course, and Jared forgot to get his gloves again.
He refuses the candy bar.
“For God’s sake, Kim!”
Jensen’s whining falls on deaf ears. The old man’s so frail and little, Jensen could crush him with one hand like he really, really wants to right now. Instead he just grumbles and lets the director lead him up into his big white trailer.
As expected, Jared is already there.
“Talk. Work this out. Now.”
Manners looks about as intimidating as a Mini Lop bunny. But he stalks off in fury that’s genuine and kind of hugely justified. He slams the door shut behind him, leaving the two lead actors alone inside.
Jared leans against the farthest wall and looks at him expectantly, his hands clenched into tight fists by his sides. Jensen can’t even stand to look at him, but he forces himself anyway. Keeps his features relaxed and his face blank, like he’s being interviewed by a complete stranger, for the benefit of complete strangers.
“Tell me what to do, pl-please…”
Jared’s eyes really can water on cue, without the slightest hint of glycerin or anything. He’s just that good.
Jensen exhales, partly in irritation because this is really the last place he wants to be.
“We just have to move past this. Try and be colleagues again.”
Jared gasps not so quietly, puts his fists up on his hips and looks away, staring out of the wide glass window.
“You don’t even want us to try to be friends?”
Jensen doesn’t move a muscle.
He nods shakily then, biting his lip to look back at Jensen.
“Because you can’t trust me anymore. Ain’t that right?”
Jensen feels the snake threatening to unfurl in his gut, but he can’t let it. He doesn’t want to give this man the fucking satisfaction. Or maybe he doesn’t want to stand here any longer, feeling guilty for that broken look on Jared’s face. He shouldn’t be the one feeling the guilt, damn it.
“That’s right. But I’m a hell of an actor. And evidently, you’re one too. So let’s just do what we’re good at and get the guys off our back, alright?”
Jared turns away then, very abruptly at that. Jensen doesn’t stop to think of what the heaving shoulders imply. He quickly spins around himself and walks out of the director’s trailer. I can do this, he tells himself.
He pretends to smile at a PA walking by.
“So how’re you doing?”
Tom drops it in casually, thinking maybe Jensen would be too distracted trying to dig himself out of a sand-trap to notice, and respond instinctively. He’s miserably wrong.
Jensen makes a full swing, watching the ball sail away gracefully across the greens, bounce twice, then roll and come to halt just inches past the hole. He then turns and glares at his friends. Both Tom and Mike seem to take great pleasure in getting on his last nerve these days.
“I told you to stop asking me that.”
Welling shrugs and starts walking towards his own tee.
“It’s been over a month. If the question’s still bothering ya, then I guess that’s your answer right there.”
Fucker. His friends’ constant scrutiny is well intentioned but totally unnecessary. Jensen is about to tell them just that, when his cellphone starts to ring his ass off.
“Saved by the bell.” Rosenbaum smirks, not unkindly and Jensen rolls his eyes before turning away to receive the call. It’s an LA number.
“Jensen, it’s me. Please don’t hang up!”
“What do you want?”
His tone is uncharacteristically harsh, but his friends pretend they didn’t hear any of it. The woman at the other end sounds rushed and desperate.
“Just to talk to you, please? Two minutes? I promise I won’t bug you again.”
Jensen sighs, and his silence is taken to be the assent she is looking for.
“Listen, Jared and I, we were together for three years and I was so close to him, closer than anyone else all my life and… Jensen, you have to understand - it was my fault. I just needed to feel… feel safe again and I practically…”
“What? Forced yourself on him? Remind me who’s the one with the dick again?”
She sighs, trying but failing to calm herself down. “Maybe if you stop being such a dick for a minute and…”
“You can have him, Sandy. I’m done. I’m out.”
“But he isn’t! He’s still hopin’… surely you can see that. Why do you think he came clean himself? You were out of town. We could have just as easily kept it our little secret forever. But he needed to be honest with you Jensen, because he…”
“Honest! Fuck yeah, that’s the word I’ve been looking for all this time.”
Jensen is in no mood for generosity or forgiveness and especially not for her, Sandy should know this by now. This bitch is the reason why he no longer has Jared in his life, in his bed, in his arms. Then again, it’s so stereotypical to just blame the woman and Jensen is anything but a chauvinist. No, he blames Jared just as much, if not more.
“Jensen,” she begs. “Please, just give him one more chance.”
Rosenbaum squints in the sunlight as he tilts his head at Jensen. “So are we playing or what?”
Jensen sighs and speaks into the phone, “Yeah, we’re playing.”
Not bothering with niceties, he flips it shut.
Jensen’s standing in front of his rack of clothes in Diane’s costume trailer, the one they drag around to every outdoor location they shoot at. The Dean Winchester rack. A casual turn of his head towards the right and he stops to look at the rack meant for Sam. That’s when he notices the new denim additions, along with old shirts wrapped in cellophane, like they’ve just gotten back from dry-cleaning.
He squints. “Diane, my love?”
The head costume lady turns to him, smiling. “Yes, my love?”
“Where, pray tell, is my new wardrobe? Surely Sammy ain’t the only one getting upgrades here?”
Diane frowns. “Upgrades? Oh. These.”
So he didn’t really mean it in a malicious way. But something about Jared getting special favors from his girl Diane, and everyone else for that matter has started to grate on his nerves.
It’s been nearly two months. And everyone still treads around Jensen carefully like they’re walking on broken glass. But they’re overly attentive to and protective of his co-star who must clearly be working the puppy dog eyes full-time. What else could possibly warrant such a disgustingly oozy display of affection?
Not that Jensen would know, hell he avoids looking into those stormy eyes as much as he can get away with. Curses under his breath at the little prick for playing the ‘dumped’ card.
If only they knew.
Diane walks over to him and lets him put a hand around her petite shoulders. Her expression is partly amused and partly chiding, but there’s also a little something else he can’t place yet.
“It’s more of a downgrade, actually. Sam’s dropped two sizes in seven weeks. The old baggy jeans are now just bags, and the shirts had to be tucked in since they don’t fit like they used to either.”
He recognizes it then, that little thing in her eyes. Sympathy.
A knock on the door distracts her and Diane ducks away to attend to the visitor. It is one of their makeup girls but Jensen doesn’t care, can’t hear a word of what they’re talking about even when they’re barely three feet away.
His mind’s a whirlwind of emotions he hasn’t felt in a long time, emotions not entirely appropriate anymore. So he chooses to latch onto anger instead. Anger, that’s become rather familiar and comfortable to live with. Anger at Jared, for making him feel things he doesn’t want to anymore.
Jensen shrugs into his, actually Dean’s jacket, and checks for the contents of his left pocket. Then he stiffly nods at the women who’re still standing at the door until they let him pass.
He steps outside for a quick smoke.
The Supernatural set in Vancouver is totally abuzz with excitement. Why? Eliza Dushku is in the house.
She’s sitting in Jared’s chair next to Jensen, cracking up at yet another of Jensen’s jokes, and the irony isn’t lost on Jared, at all. Once upon a time he used to be the one making the goofy jokes and playing the silly pranks, keeping everyone on set entertained enough to get through the dreary days and freezing rains.
It’s been three months. Jared can’t seem to remember what it felt like to smile and laugh like that, for real. Jensen was right after all - Jared really is one heck of an actor. Although there are still times when Jared suspects that maybe he isn’t as successful at fooling everyone as he thinks. The crew keeps trying to push candies and chocolates at him, despite being well aware that he doesn’t ask for them anymore.
Sugar can’t fix him anymore.
He perches on a PA’s scooter nearby, head bent low into a copy of the script as he pretends to memorize his lines.
Eliza puts a hand on Jensen’s arm.
“Hey I know it was probably the right move for you to choose Smallville instead of Tru Calling? But for what it’s worth, I would have loved to work with you.”
One of Jensen’s eyebrows shoots up. “We’re working together now.”
She blushes, but it’s not an overly girlish blush and not ‘put on’ in any way. It’s actually perfect, just the way Jared knows Jensen likes it.
“Well, yeah. I meant, you know, for more than just one episode? And, I guess… I wish we’d met sooner.”
Jensen smiles, and asks what she’s doing for dinner tonight. That’s when Jared gets up and walks away as quietly as his lumbering self allows him to.
At the food tent, he sees his opportunity to talk to the man alone and seizes it. Before his brain can talk him into not doing it, Jared reaches out and grasps Jensen’s right bicep, pulling him away into a secluded spot where nobody can see them.
“What the fu-?” is all Jensen manages to get out before he looks up into Jared’s face and sees something there that shuts him up promptly. Jared doesn’t know what that is, probably insanity, which should naturally translate into a healthy fear for one’s life.
His head is pounding and his vision is swimming again and damn it being an emotional mess is such a goddamn nuisance to live with.
“What do you want, Padalecki?”
Jensen’s voice is stone cold, his brows furrowing with irritation.
“Don’t do it.”
He swallows hard, tries not to take offence when Jensen takes a step back so Jared isn’t standing in his personal space anymore. Never did learn to mind those boundaries after all.
“You’re just trying to hurt me. I know you don’t really want to…”
“Not everything is about you, Jared.”
Jensen practically hisses at him and it stops Jared cold in his tracks. Can’t for the life of him remember why he thought confronting his ex would be a good idea.
“And the sooner you get used to that fact, the better it’ll be for everyone.”
They glare each other down for what, to Jared feels like an eternity but in fact doesn’t last more than a few seconds. The trance is broken when there are voices heard from a distance, approaching softly, and Jensen looks away quickly. Jared finds himself unable to move, his fingers tingling with the short-lived warmth of the touch he misses so much.
Jensen digs his own hands into his pockets and stalks off.
The cell phone rings again and Jensen grimaces. This is his private time, his brooding time and Tom and Mike know that. He’s had a hectic week and all he wants to do is sit here in his dark living room with his bottle of twelve-year old scotch and do nothing. Why the fuck do people insist on socializing with a sociopath like him?
He picks up the phone after nine rings. “Ackles.”
He rolls his eyes tiredly. “Sandy, I’m really not in the mood…”
“I can’t reach him. He’s not picking up his phones.”
A cold shiver crawls up his spine to the back of his neck.
“I… I don’t know if I should call his family yet. Have tried everyone we knew in Vancouver, I don’t think he’ll be with any of your friends so didn’t try them and no one knows where he is…”
“Sandy, calm down. I’m sure he’s just sleeping. It’s been a long week. We can all use the downtime right now.”
“No, he always answers his phone. You know he does, he’s paranoid about missing important calls especially from family and friends.”
Jensen closes his eyes. “Maybe he went out with guys from the crew. It’s Saturday night…”
“No, something is wrong. Please, Jensen…”
He hears a sob in her voice and her sheer panic travels all the way through the wire from LA and into him. Jensen catches himself shaking, tries to hide it behind his mask of bitterness.
Damn you Padalecki. Damn you for whatever stupid stunt you’ve gone on and pulled now just to… to what? Get his attention? Why now, why after four months?
Jensen stands up and without actual intent, starts to pace back and forth. Rubs his face trying to think of a rational explanation when his eyes scan the room and come to rest on the digital calendar.
“I’ll find him. Stay with your phone.”
He hangs up, grabs his jacket and keys and heads down to parking.
He tries Jared’s house first, just in case he thought wrong. Or in case he got the date wrong, which isn’t the case at all. He’s sort of relieved that he missed what day it was himself, but that’s only because Jensen’s pretty much stopped keeping track of time. It just didn’t matter anymore. Endless days melting into nights, weekdays into weekends and back again… it’s all just one long stretch of loud silences and empty spaces.
And it’s all - fake. Nothing’s real, hasn’t been in a long while.
Jared is not at the house and he’s not with the guys at the bar. Hell even his dogs are missing. Jensen sighs as he makes a legal U-turn, should have just followed his first instinct.
This night one year ago, they went to the revolving restaurant at the top of the Empire Landmark hotel, Cloud Nine, and had a quiet romantic dinner, at the end of which Jensen had pulled the ring out of his jacket. A wide platinum band, plain and elegant, no engravings, but symbolic of all the love and passion he’d once held in his heart.
Jensen had asked Jared to be his forever, Jared had sniveled like a girl, and they’d kissed for ages and eventually retired to a luxury suite two floors below with a bottle of champagne. Jensen remembers it as the most incredible night of his life - making love to Jared, slow and soft and languorous, snuggling and kissing and laughing, not leaving the suite all weekend. Celebrating their absolute commitment to one another.
Also known as throwing good money down the fucking drain.
Jensen pulls in front of the hotel, flings his keys to the valet and rushes in. He’s not sure what to expect, but there’s no doubt in his mind this is where he’d find Jared. He turns on the charm while chatting up the concierge, who is sweet enough and luckily gay enough to hand him over an extra key card.
Bastard’s holed himself up in the same fucking suite.
Jared ignores the knocks on his door. It’s far enough from the balcony to not be much a nuisance anyway, which is where he sits, on the floor reclining against the protective rails. His head feels heavy as it knocks back against a wall incessantly. Pulls his long legs up to his chest and wraps his arms around his bony shins.
Sadie gave up on trying to cheer him up an hour ago. Now she stretches out beside Harley on the king-size bed and rests her head on top of his back. They know when their antics aren’t cute enough. Together they keep each other warm, and watch their human freeze his ass off outside.
The ring on Jared’s finger dimly reflects off partly the late evening’s ambient light, and partly the television screen in an otherwise completely dark suite. He looks down at it and his eyes well up.
He used to be the glass-half-full kinda guy, once. But that was before he screwed up royally with no hope of ever being able to set things right again. Now he’s just the reap-what-you-sow kinda guy. It’s only fair that he be suffering. What’s really unfair though is knowing that Jensen is hurting more, and he did absolutely nothing to deserve it.
The knocking goes away and he sighs, rests his forehead on his knees and softly cries for the idyllic life forever lost, and he’s got no one to blame for it but himself.
The dogs start barking suddenly but he doesn’t pay heed. He thinks he hears footsteps, but his reflexes are too shot to do anything until someone comes to a full stop right beside him. Self-preservation kicks in late and Jared jumps violently, before he looks up to see who it is.
“Wha-? What are you doing here?”
Jensen looks down at him calmly. “Giving you Sandy’s message. Call her. She’s worried.”
Jared waits, for the man who can’t stand the sight of him to leave. His eyesight gets acclimatized in the meantime and can see Jensen’s face, still blank. Harder than usual, but blank.
“I wasn’t going to do anything stupid,” he whispers numbly, wiping his eyes surreptitiously while the newcomer checks out the room.
“Clearly,” Jensen says after a long pause, absently scratching Sadie’s head who’s sauntered over to greet her other human. “Not even a fucking beer in sight.”
The last part he mumbles almost sulkily and it makes Jared chuckle despite… despite everything.
“There’s the mini-bar, help yourself.”
Dream-like memories of the last time they were here threatens to carry him away from this moment but Jared doesn’t want to go there yet. Who knows when Jensen would stand this close to him willingly, if ever again.
Jensen cranes in the direction that he knows the mini-bar is in, but shrugs instead. “Nah. I’m driving.”
He walks over to the other end of the balcony and slides down to the floor, folds his legs Indian-style and digs out his cigarettes. Sadie grunts at him unhappily and trots back inside.
Jared doesn’t know what to say. Never has Jensen been so close and yet so far away from him before. And it hurts, physically. His heart has been breaking a little each day ever since they broke up, and sometimes it hurts so bad, Jared wishes it’d just stop already, put an end to his misery. But then he reminds himself what happened the last time he succumbed to a moment of weakness.
No. He’s not hurting anyone else he loves ever again.
Jared remembers the expensive ring on his finger, looks down at it as if for the very last time. Then he takes it off, sliding down his slimmer finger easily.
Holds it out for Jensen to take back. It doesn’t belong to him anymore.
“I came here to say g-goodbye.”
His voice breaks on the last word, but Jensen doesn’t seem to notice. He blows a cloud of smoke through the gaps in the rails away from Jared.
“I don’t want it.”
Jared’s heart gives a hopeful little lurch. “Wh-What am I supposed to do with it?”
Jensen just shrugs. “Sell it. Throw it in the sea.”
“I can’t do that!”
“Fine, do whatever… I don’t care! I don’t want it.”
Jared blinks back fresh tears, bites his lip to stop it from trembling so damn much.
“Look, if I keep… so long as I have it… i-if you let me keep it then I can’t… I won’t be able to move on.”
Jensen looks away. Jared can see his Adam’s apple bobbing slightly, but he doesn’t make a move towards Jared or the damn ring.
Instead Jensen gets up and walks away from him, again.
Move on, he says. Jensen vehemently swallows his own tears down, figures now is as good a time as any to hit the booze.
He gets up and goes inside, keeps his back to the limpid eyes that follow him all the way and back. He chose a Heineken for himself and the usual Sam Adams for Jared, which he now holds out by the neck and waits until Jared is done staring at him and takes the offered drink.
Move on. Of course Jared was talking about himself, but Jensen can’t help but wonder about it in context of himself. Moving on would mean letting go of the snake he's harbored inside him for months, surrendering all his rage and despair. Sounds like a plan, a good one at that. Except, what then? Move on to what?
He wonders what it is that he's so unwilling to let go of, his fucking treasure trove of all the pain caused to him by Jared, or Jared himself.
Jensen stands leaning against the rails, gazing at the Vancouver nighttime skyline. Takes a big gulp of his drink and stubs his cigarette with one foot.
The voice is small, and husky and heartwrenching, and it pulls him out of his own thoughts until he looks down into Jared’s face. The face that’s dripping, and miserable and thin… has been for many, many days.
Too much has happened between them to go back, which leaves just one direction at hand.
It’s time he let Jared move on.
Jensen reaches down with a slightly shaking hand, and Jared raises his. They meet somewhere in the middle, fingertips brushing against each other ever so softly, taking his breath away, and he plucks the ring out of Jared’s hand.
He looks at it and sighs, letting the memories of the day he’d bought it wash over him, and somehow, surprisingly, they lighten his heart tonight instead of bearing it down.
“Sure was fun while it lasted.”
He can’t believe the words came from him, and stills for a second to gauge Jared’s reaction. The younger man rubs at his face with both hands before pushing his unruly hair back, leaves his hands conjoined behind his head.
“Yeah. It was perfect.”
Jensen puts the band in his pocket and focuses on the horizon for the next few minutes. Jared takes a swig of his beer at last, his first that night, and stares out in a different direction.
Some time later, a hesitant hand reaches out towards the back of Jensen’s left leg. Jared’s fingers graze damn near reverently against the faded jeans, the touch so fleeting it’s almost not even there.
Jensen feels it alright, and tries his damndest not to shudder.
“Come on,” he says, turning to go back into the living area. “I hear the Spurs are getting their asses kicked.”
Jared manages a soft smile, and quietly follows Jensen inside.