timehasa_way: (The Lighthouse J2 1)
[personal profile] timehasa_way
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Chapter 4

Jared did choose to stay in Jensen’s childhood bedroom. While it was odd to stay there, it was at least a place he could close off and keep to himself. Part of him still wanted to leave, but he still appreciated having a place to crash, even if it was awkward. He was still a little buzzed, and he was too angry and hurt to even think clearly. While he didn’t necessarily have to drive himself home, he still wanted to at least attempt to calm himself before leaving. Besides, he’d have to come back for his car at some point, and that could be even more awkward and painful if he and Jensen weren’t able to resolve their issues. If this were to end, here and now, Jared would want it to be a clean break. He wouldn’t even want to see the house again. He couldn’t believe he was even thinking that way. Everything had been going so well, even just hours ago. But the way Jensen had treated him was awful, and Jared couldn’t get it out of his head. Part of him cursed himself for doing exactly what he shouldn’t have done to begin with and getting too attached too quickly. He should have known better. He did know better, and he let it happen anyway.

Morning seemed to come too soon, but Jared was surprised by the feeling of waking up. He’d spent the night being angry and worrying over everything, and didn’t think he’d actually fall asleep. Apparently, he did, because Jensen’s tentative knock on the door roused him.

The door opened, and Jensen slowly entered, carrying a tray. Normally, Jared would love the idea of breakfast in bed, but he shut down at the obvious attempt to placate him.

“I’m not sure if you’re actually hungry,” Jensen said, using his foot to shut the door behind him. “But I didn’t think you’d want another family meal at the table.” Jared didn’t answer, and Jensen moved closer, settling on the edge of the bed with the tray in his lap. “I don’t expect you to forgive me. And I don’t expect anything I say to make anything better. But I am sorry. Sorrier than I’ve ever been about anything in my whole life. And you were right. I had no right to say anything that I said, and none of it was true, and you didn’t deserve it at all. I just want you to know that.”

Jared scooted back into a bit of a sitting position, the pillow fluffed up behind him. “Is that the only reason you’re sorry?” he asked, voice rough and deep, having just woken up. “Just because you made me feel bad, and you shouldn’t have? Just because you were mean to me? That’s it?”

Jensen looked at him, and then looked away, suddenly seeming vulnerable and scared. He gripped the breakfast tray a little tighter, his breath quick and shallow. “Also because I’m in love with you. And you mean more to me than...You’re just as important to me as Gran. And I can’t believe how stupid I am to fuck up one of the best things to ever happen to me.”

Jared didn't take offense at the fact that Jensen said “one of the best things,” because he knew the other “best thing” that happened to Jensen was being adopted.

“I’m so stupid,” Jensen continued, almost whispering it to himself. “And childish. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

“But you do,” Jared insisted, and Jensen looked shamed. “It didn’t just happen for no reason, Jensen. You know what you were thinking. This won’t work if you won’t be honest about it.”

"I felt like I was losing her," he said, and he was more vulnerable than Jared had ever seen him. His eyes were glassy and fearful, and he swallowed hard. "I felt like having you made my relationship with her matter less." He cleared his throat and blinked quickly, taking a deep breath. "We've never really had someone like you with us; someone who...fits. I should be grateful for it, and I am. But I also don't know how to handle it. So I handled it badly." He shifted on the bed, Jared's leg sinking into the mattress. "I told you how unfair it is that people assume adopted kids are all headcases, and then I acted like one."

"That's not true," Jared interjected, nudging Jensen with his foot. "I mean, you acted terribly, but you were still right about that." Jared sighed, trying to process this. Jensen's words still stung, and he didn't want to be naive or a pushover. But Jensen's apology was genuine and forthcoming. If anything, Jensen had scraped himself raw to make this apology and confession of emotion, and it didn't look as if he'd slept any better than Jared had. Jared sighed again. "I don't think you're a bad person, Jensen. I think we both just need some time to process this. I know you have a little already, and I appreciate that. But I don't want this to be the way things go down every time we reach some new milestone together. I can be a lot of things for you, Jensen, but I can't always be your scapegoat."

Jensen's expression was a mixture of both crushed and ashamed, and it broke Jared's heart, but he couldn't back down. If they made it through this, he wanted to be sure that it would work. Though Jensen looked away, he nodded. "That's fair," he said, voice hoarse. "Thank you. For not just shutting me down completely and leaving. And, if we don't..." He cut himself off, and Jared could feel the unspoken words between them; that this could be the end of their relationship. "Thank you for everything."

"It's been a pleasure," Jared whispered, wishing he could let his tears fall in private. He didn't eat that morning and left as quickly as he could, passing his thanks to Gran through Jensen as he hurried home.

****

"Did I do something wrong?" Gran asked, and Jensen stared at her as she blocked his view of horrible daytime TV. She didn't seem perturbed, but genuinely concerned. "Maybe I kept you too close."

Jensen felt a twinge in his chest, his mouth going a little dry. “What are you talking about?” He knew, but he asked anyway, his tone almost taking on the admonishing one she’d used on him whenever he got down on himself.

“You know damn well what I’m talking about,” she responded, working her way around to the couch and taking a seat on the other end.

“Gran, you know you’ve never done anything wrong,” Jensen said quietly, muting the TV.

She snorted. “That’s a lie. This is what I mean.” She paused for a moment, the two of them rarely actually talking out their feelings; they’d never needed to before. “I understand that we have a special bond. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have chosen you. And I know what it means to you that I did. But I’m not a saint, and I can’t be all you ever have.”

“I know.” Jensen scooted closer to her, putting an arm around her shoulders. “Honestly, I didn’t expect to react like that. Nothing like this has ever come up, so I just...screwed it up, spectacularly. I loved him, and I screwed it up.”

“Loved?” Gran questioned. “Past tense?”

Jensen dropped his forehead on her shoulder, groaning. “No. Present tense.”

She reached over and patted his head. “There’s hope for you yet.”

Jensen smiled and laughed a little, lifting his head. “I don’t know. Maybe. It’s not over officially. The point was to take time to process everything. I just don’t know how to be sure of what I’ll feel if we keep getting more serious.”

“Are you sure that you’ll regret it if you don’t get more serious?”

He took a deep breath, closing his eyes and feeling the loss already. “Yes. I mean, my God, he was good for both of us.”

“Again with the past tense,” Gran said dryly, smacking Jensen’s leg when he rolled his eyes. “I heard that.”

****

Jared sighed heavily as he sat in his car and stared at the Lighthouse. The last time he’d been hesitant to go in was after his grandfather had died. He’d worried about the impact of the memories, but still felt the need to go back pulling him in. This time, his stomach roiled thinking about the potential awkwardness or drama when it came to the Ackleses. At the same time, he still loved the people and the place, and he still wanted to see them; or see Donna, at least. He couldn’t go in and not check in to see how she was doing.

Entering the building, he made his rounds, the warmth and happiness of all of the familiar faces making him smile again. When he came across Donna, she was just sitting down at a sewing table. Jared remembered the sweater, and though his heart broke a little at the thought of Jensen, he made his way over to the table.

“I recall offering to help you make something hilariously ugly,” he said, his tone tentative and apologetic.

Gran smiled wide, and Jared’s heart lifted. “I’ve missed you.” She stood for a hug, and Jared had to oblige, glad to have her still be so happy to see him.

“I’ve missed you, too. So much.”

She held a hand up before he could continue. “Don’t apologize. I completely understand. But I’m glad that you can still keep me company here.”

“Of course.” Jared sat down with her, genuinely feeling better. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

He stayed with her, helping her pick out colors that didn’t go together at all, patterns that didn’t match. They talked and laughed and worked together, and Jared felt like he had a part of his past back again; like he was here to visit a very well-loved family member. He felt lucky to have that again, regardless of the current circumstances.

They continued on in that way for weeks, sometimes with Gran bringing him cookies or other things that she’d baked, and sometimes with Jared bringing in other patterns and materials he’d seen in a store. In all honesty, they didn’t spend much time actually sewing, making the project drag out. They probably even had more material than they’d even use at this point, but they were happy.

He knew the day she suddenly seemed to have trouble finding the right words and speaking that something was wrong, and he felt the fear of loss all over again. They left the Lighthouse together, with him sitting in the ambulance, holding her hand.

****

When Jensen arrived at the hospital, Jared intercepted him in the hallway. It was odd, seeing him again at all, let alone in this situation, but he needed to apologize. Before he could, Jensen surprised him by pulling him into a tight hug. Jared returned it and rubbed Jensen’s back, trying to ease the worry there.

“I’m sorry,” Jared said, as they pulled apart. “I wanted to be the one to call you and tell you, but the Lighthouse staff did before I got the chance.”

“It’s okay,” Jensen said, waving him off. “How is she?”

“Fine,” Jared answered, relieved to say it himself. “It was a stroke, but she’s fine. They got to her quickly, and she’ll recover. She’s sleeping now.”

Jensen nodded, and Jared expected him to rush off and leave him there while he checked in on Gran. Instead, Jensen hesitated. “When you say ‘they’ got to her, you really mean you.” Jared tilted his head, and Jensen continued. “They told me you were with her, and you saw the signs. You were the one who got her help and stayed with her.”

Jared looked away, shaking off the appreciation. “It’s what anybody would have done.”

“Yeah, but if you weren’t there,” Jensen insisted, then trailed off and sighed. “I know this doesn’t make sense, because she obviously needed medical attention more than anything. But when they told me that you were with her...it made a difference. Like I knew she would be okay. Honestly, even if she wasn’t,” Jared could see how hard that was for Jensen to say, “Knowing she had you there would have made it easier.”

“I don’t even know what to say that,” Jared whispered, still shaken. Jensen took his hands to comfort him, and Jared breathed out. “I mean, it means a lot. I was so scared.”

“I know,” Jensen said, letting him go. “But that’s why. I know you both still mean a lot to each other. And to me.” Jared’s mouth went completely dry in the pause that followed. “I know this isn’t the time or place, believe me. And I don’t want to use something like this to try to convince you of anything, but...I just want you to know, all this time, I haven’t forgotten about you or even gotten used to being without you. I still miss you, and I do still love you. All this time, I’ve just been trying to think of how I can prove it or show it, or how I can make us both sure I won’t screw up again, and I can never come up with anything that seems good enough.” Jensen couldn’t look at him then, clearly fighting with his emotions. “I don’t know how much that matters to you now, but I just wanted you to know. Especially now. I couldn’t just come here, thank you for what you’ve done, and move on. I had to tell you.”

Jared shifted on his feet, too many different reactions running through his head. “Now I really don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t have to say anything,” Jensen said, shaking his head. “None of this is on you. And you don’t have to go, if you don’t want to. Or if you do, you’re always welcome to come back at any time. Here or when she’s back home, if you want to visit.” Jensen met Jared’s eyes again, and Jared felt the effort and the understanding there. “She’s family to both of us. And, honestly?” He looked away and cleared his throat. “I’m probably gonna stay here with her overnight, and I really wouldn’t mind it if you stayed.”

Jared could have analyzed it. He could have stood there and overthought it, wondering if staying made him weak or made it seem like he was giving in. But he couldn’t keep himself from nodding. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ll stay.” It didn’t feel like pressure, or like a game to win him back. It felt like he belonged here. It felt right, the two of them linking hands and walking back to Gran’s room. It was only support and understanding, and he could feel the tension in Jensen’s warm palm; the fear of seeing Gran here, in the hospital.

Their hands separated as they reached the door, and Jared stood back to allow Jensen to enter first. He gave him space to not feel rushed. Jensen didn’t hesitate, though, pushing the door open and quietly stepping inside, Jared closing the door behind them. His attention was on the door for a moment, closing it slowly to try to be as silent as possible, waiting for that little click. He turned towards Gran’s bed then, Jensen slowly approaching, his shoulders tight beneath his jacket, wide eyes taking in the monitors and the IVs. Gran obviously already had health concerns, but Jared knew that it was still never easy to see a loved one in a hospital bed like this. He stepped towards Jensen, hands coming up to rest on Jensen’s shoulders from behind.

“She looks comfortable,” Jensen whispered, but his voice was wavering. “Just sleeping.”

“She is,” Jared assured, giving Jensen’s shoulders a squeeze. “She was awake and alert earlier, after the symptoms subsided. She’s getting fluids and some meds to help with the clot.” He stepped back, looking for the closest chair and pulling it closer. “Here, why don’t you sit with her?”

Jensen took the seat and moved closer to Gran, so careful when taking her slightly curled hand, like he both didn’t want to wake or hurt her and was afraid that making a wrong move would make his nightmare of having lost her come true, not wanting to disturb the relief in the moment itself. He moved close enough to lay his head on the bed next to her, his thumb just barely rubbing over the back of her hand. Jared moved around the bed and sat on the other side, just watching. There was something about Jensen allowing him to stay and see and feel this, so vulnerable. Before Jensen had arrived, Jared had been sure that Jensen would ask him to leave, to have this moment in private. But he’d been wrong.


Chapter Five
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Jess

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