Genre: Jared/Jensen RPS AU
Word Count: ~2,600 this part
Disclaimer: Nope, not true, nope not mine, yup, still broke.
Summary: When Jared's best friend, Jensen - whom he's had a crush on for years, tells him he is going to get married, he leaves everything behind and runs away to Europe. When Jared returns five years later for his father's funeral, Jensen is there too, and Jared discovers that leaving the past behind isn't as easy as he first thought.
Link to Masterpost
The Road to Where You Are ~ Prologue
The bright, hot, July sunlight of a Texas morning beat down on the hood of Jared’s black SUV, warm air rising in visible, translucent waves as the car sat in the driveway outside his best friend’s house. Jared sat behind the wheel of his car, engine idling, taking slow measured breaths, trying to calm himself down before heading toward Jensen’s side door.
An hour ago he had awoken to the sound of the telephone ringing. He had answered it before he was fully awake, certain that it was Jensen on the other end. From the tone of Jensen’s voice Jared knew right away that he was on the receiving end of what he was already starting to refer to as “The Phone Call.” Jensen’s voice had an oddly casual sound to it, almost too casual. It was the tone that Jensen used when he was about to announce the outcome of a rather large decision. Like the time he had called to let him know the loan was approved and he was going to buy his house. It was the sound of Jensen with big news, big life-changing news and this time Jared did not like it at all. Not one little bit.
It was the call that Jared had probably been waiting for months now. It was inevitable and he was not above admitting to himself that he was dreading it. At the same time he was trying to be happy for Jensen, even though Jared was more than a little frustrated and disappointed in himself. Jared was sure that Jensen’s life was about to take off in a different direction but Jared’s had been stuck on the same old road for years and probably always would be.
Jensen and Jared had been thick as thieves for the last eight years, ever since the first day of their junior year in high school. Or as Jensen liked to refer to it, the day that he’d saved Jared’s ass. At age sixteen Jared’s height had already exceeded that of everyone else in their small school outside of San Antonio. The only problem was that very little else about his body had caught up. He had been tall, but still incredibly slender, a stiff breeze could easily knock him over and everyone knew it. It would be another four or five years until his too-big feet, skinny torso and clumsy limbs transformed into long, graceful muscles and broad, well-defined shoulders.
And if his physiology did not draw enough odd looks, growing up as a gay kid in a small town chock full of ‘good ol’ boys’ had its disadvantages, particularly when the one doing the growing up was not of a mind to hide who he was from anybody. Even at that young age Jared had a firm sense of self-identity. He was who he was and you could take him or leave him and that was that.
The opening bell of his first day as a junior had found Jared cornered against his locker surrounded by three rancher’s sons, full of piss and vinegar and hormones, all itching to take it out on somebody. Jared knew he was in for some serious trouble if help did not show up soon.
Help had showed up in the form of Jensen Ackles. He slid by the trio cornering Jared to stand close and confident next to him, his expression set in an unspoken challenge. The bullies looked at each other, silently agreeing that three against one were good odds, but with another kid added to the mix their chances of getting away without at least a few bruises were too close for comfort.They hedged their bets and with scowls and smirks slinked away without another word.
The exact details of that day had turned a little murky in Jared’s memory; just another instance of the half-remembered taunts that plagued his early high school career like a broken record; one that repeated the same chorus over and over again. It was just another small cut among many that had thickened his skin.
But there were a few things about that day that Jared remembered clear as a bell.
Jared recalled turning to his savior and coming face to face with a tall, broad-shouldered kid, his feet set in a confident stance. When Jensen opened his mouth a voice came forth that at sixteen was just as whiskey-smooth and deep as it would be at almost twice that age.
“Hi, I’m Jensen. I’m new here.” he said, shifting his books to his other arm and sticking out a hand, offering with it a generous smile.
Jared took the extended hand, looked into bright-green eyes and for the first and last time in his life fell instantly, completely and hopelessly in love.
This was why now eight years later Jared found himself in Jensen’s gravel driveway, heart beating loudly against his rib cage. On the first day that they’d met Jensen had instantaneously become the center of Jared’s universe. He was a constant like a gravitational force that kept Jared from spinning off into nowhere, and to have him as a best friend was better than to not have him at all.
“Well, kid” Jared said aloud to no one, still sitting in the driver’s seat, “it’s time to get this show on the road.” He took one last deep breath, got out of the car and headed toward a side door that entered into the kitchen.
Walking through the unlocked door the smell of blackened toast and burned bacon smacked into Jared’s nose causing it to wrinkle and bringing a small smile to his lips. Jensen had been at it again.
Jared stole a quick glance at Jensen standing at the sink, took in the tight stretch of Jensen’s undershirt across his back, the way that it pooled up a little above the waistband of his jeans. Jensen’s slim hips canted slightly as he shifted his weight from one foot to another, a movement made that much more sensual by the fact that Jensen was unaware of exactly how sensual it well and truly was. Jared felt the now familiar sensation of longing like a punch in the gut. The glance was just a split-second indulgence before he pulled his eyes away and made a beeline for the refrigerator.
“Hey, what took you so long? You’ve been sitting out there for at least twenty minutes.” Jensen said without turning around. “Did you forget how to work the seat belt again?”
“Yup. You caught me. I was hoping you didn’t notice.” Jared replied as he reached in the fridge without looking, grabbed a beer that he knew would be there and slammed the door closed. He opened the bottle with the magnetic opener on the freezer door, turned and sat down at the table, cursing his rotten luck for choosing the chair with the wicker seat. It was the one with the small wobble.
Jensen turned around, arched a questioning eyebrow at the beer held in Jared’s fist and said, “Dude, it’s 9:30…in the morning.”
“Well, it’s 9:35 somewhere.” Jared replied.
“I guess you’re right about that.” Jensen said with a smirk, heading toward the refrigerator and grabbing a bottle of his own, popping it open with a silver ring worn on his finger for that purpose alone, a trick that Jared had never been able to master and was still in awe of. He flicked the bottle cap carelessly into the sink before taking a seat at the table across from Jared.
“So? What is so important that you had to wake me up at 8:30 on a Saturday morning?” Jared asked. He was certain that he already knew the answer but just wanted to get it over with.
Jensen looked up at him, green eyes peeking through long lashes, as he leaned back and pulled a small, square, velvet-covered box out of his pocket, setting it on the table. The smile on his face turned a little shy and unsure. He raised a hand and scuffed his fingers through the short, sloppy spikes of his hair, a nervous tic that Jared had seen repeated countless times. And Jared wondered just what he didn’t know about the kid.
“Aw, Jensen, you shouldn’t have,” Jared joked. It was a defense mechanism that came as naturally to him as breathing. He hated it.
Jensen just rolled his eyes and continued. “So, I’m going to do it….maybe tonight…..probably tonight. Got reservations at that place across town. You know the one where they make you wear a tie and actual shoes.”
Jared’s hazel eyes flickered to meet Jensen’s for a mere second before sliding back toward the small box on the table, and he wondered just how much more a heart could break before it stopped beating entirely. “That’s great!” He said instead, slapping his hand to the table, hoping that his excessive enthusiasm and loud voice were able to cover up the sound of his life collapsing around him.
“We’ve been together for three years now and I figure that it’s about time,” Jensen continued.
And perhaps it was the result of wishful thinking, some last-ditch hope but Jared thought that Jensen’s statement bore the odd sound of an excuse.
It wasn’t that Jared didn’t like Jensen’s girlfriend or rather, Jensen’s soon-to-be fiancée. She was sweet, obviously loved Jensen to a fault and never minded when Jared crashed their parade. That had always been the problem with a lot of other girls Jensen had brought around. They never understood that the two of them came as a sort of package. If you got one then you had to at least tolerate the other or there was no deal. Furthermore, she was good for Jensen and good to him. She just wasn’t as good as Jared knew he could be, if only given the slightest glimmer of a chance. She just wasn’t him.
“I guess that one of us has to grow up eventually, settle down and all that. I’m just happy that it’s not me,” Jared said, hoping that he had stopped any of the irrational bitterness he was feeling from leaking into his voice, downing his beer with two large gulps and a grimace.
Jensen eyed him closely, a slight, speculative squint causing the corners of his eyes to wrinkle but he didn’t say anything.
So that was it. It was over, the cat was out of the bag and Jared was real busy convincing himself that nothing was going to change, but at the same time knowing that this meant everything was going to change. Suddenly he felt like the walls of the small kitchen were getting ready to close in around him, like the air was getting too thick to draw into his lungs.
“Gotta go, Jensen.” Jared said, standing up abruptly, the chair’s legs teetering precariously behind him before coming to rest with a solid thump on the faded, linoleum floor. Jared began fishing in his pocket for his keys.
“What! You just gonna show up, use me for my beer and leave me?” Jensen said, head tilted up, trying to meet Jared’s eyes, his joking question a cover for the real one his expression clearly conveyed.
Jared was keenly aware of another conversation happening here; one taking place in between the words that were spoken; one taking place among Jensen’s glances and Jared’s adamant refusal to meet them.
“Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.” Jared replied, bringing a grin to Jensen’s face. It was an inside joke from so long ago that neither of them remembered where it had come from, much less why it was funny, just that it was. Forcing a big grin to brighten his face Jared opened the door, gave Jensen one last quick look and walked through.
As he headed toward his car he heard Jensen yell out the window, “I’ll call you later, let you know how it went.” Jared didn’t turn around but rather kept his eyes firmly fixed on his path down the gravel driveway, head bowed a little with his feet kicking up small clouds of blue dust in their wake. He just raised his hand in a small motion that meant goodbye.
Ten minutes later he was bursting through the door to his apartment, an increasing ache in the back of his throat from trying to hold back a visceral outlet of frustration, anger and sadness that was now rushing too quickly to the surface.
He stood for a moment in the middle of his living room, running his hands through his hair, trying to regulate his breathing. He tried counting to ten but only made it to four.
The angel on his shoulder was whispering to him that he was being selfish; that it was his responsibility to be there for his best friend, the one who had been there for him faithfully, unfailingly for almost a decade. The devil on the other side was telling him that if Jensen didn’t recognize a good thing when it was standing right in front of him, hell, had been standing right there for years, well, then Jensen didn’t deserve him anyway. No, he didn’t deserve any of it.
The devil’s voice was louder, a shout compared to a whisper.
Rushing to his bedroom, he grabbed his backpack from the closet. It was packed with clothes and other essentials before Jared even realized what he was doing. As he walked past the kitchen his eyes fixed on a photo plastered to the refrigerator. It was taken the day Jensen had bought his house. The two of them were standing in front of the place, three years younger than they were now, squinting into the camera lens, arms slung around each other with huge lopsided grins on their faces. That day had seemed like the world was full of possibilities. Today the door that led to all of those chances had just slammed shut right in Jared’s face. He walked woodenly into the kitchen, took the photo down and hastily shoved it in the front inside pocket of his backpack then cinched the straps down tight.
He reached into his pocket for his keys and felt his cell phone instead. Pulling it out his fingers itched to dial Jensen’s number. A full minute passed, his eyes fixed on the phone number on the tiny screen, thumb hovering over the button. With a sigh he flipped it closed.
The hallway outside his apartment was blessedly empty. As Jared locked the door he was thankful that there were no neighbors to have to greet with a plastered-on smile. After one small step down the corridor he suddenly spun, unlocking the deadbolt. He reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone and tossed it across the living room. It landed with a small bounce on the worn cushions of the couch. He didn’t want to be reached. Locking the door once more he squared his shoulders, shifted the heavy pack a little, took a deep breath and said goodbye to life as he knew it.
Jared wasn’t sure exactly where he was going. He just knew that he had to leave.