He isn't aware that he's staring off until a hand settles on his shoulder, jolting him back into himself. The hand is small and warm and firm, it fits there on Jared's shoulder. Not the one he wishes it was. That hand would never fit, much much too big to touch Jared this easy.
"Hey, Jared," his little sister's voice says, and Jared looks up at her with a forced smile. She holds up a basket and tries her best to project some cheer. She's a little better at it than he is, but not by much. "Brought you a sandwich. Thought you might be hungry."
You haven't eaten in days goes unsaid. You look like shit or quit moping you big baby or give up already, you know how this ends all get left out, too. And god, Jared knows he's got her worried if Meg is passing up chances to be a jerk.
"Thanks," he says, his voice sounding grainy as he forces it out. He realizes he hasn't said anything to anyone in—who knows. Since Jensen left. Not since his last words to Jensen.
She sits next to him on his bed, close enough that her body is pressed up along his, warm and supportive. It's nice. He knows what she's trying to do, and deep deep down somewhere he thinks maybe it's helping.
Maybe not. Maybe there's only one thing that'll make Jared feel better, which is why he's been here, sitting up, staring at the door to Jensen's bedroom for days. Jensen will come straight here when he gets home. Any minute. He'll bust in, radiating much more energy than he ever has before, smiling at Jared, bigger than life instead of folded up on himself, because he’ll be better. All healed. Any minute now.
Meg takes a deep breath, and Jared knows what's coming before she says it. "Jared, why don't you come on home?"
He shakes his head, choking down on everything that wants to spill out. "I can't," he says. "I promised."
"I have to be here," Jared continues, cutting her off. "I have to be here, or he won't—he won't come back if I'm not here. I promised."
She doesn't say anything. Choosing her words; Jared knows his baby sister. She won't lie to him, and she won't say something that'll make it worse, so her only option is silence. She reaches up, puts a hand in Jared's hair and tugs him toward her. He falls easily, feeling his chest clench, ready to break from the pressure. He hasn't cried. He can't let himself do that, because there's nothing to cry about unless Jensen's not coming back, and it's too close to an admission.
"Jared," she says softly. Her fingers card soothingly through his hair, and he grabs her shoulder, hiding his face in the fabric of her dress.
"Meg," he whispers. "He wouldn't leave me."
After a long time she says, "You can stay as long as you want, okay? As long as you need. Ma isn't worried. I told her you were—"
She cuts herself off, and Jared can’t help guessing why. He knows what she must have told their mother, the only thing she could say that would make Ma be okay with Jared going missing this long. That he's scoping out the house, making sure it's empty. Confirming that they're free of the giant she's been so scared of for months.
She's probably gloating right now. Celebrating that Jensen is gone, one less thing to worry about, better him than us, Jared can't stop imagining the things she must be saying. Eating Jensen's food, grinning because it's not like it's going to be missed. The monster is gone, and they're free to breathe easy again, and Jared wants his monster back more than he wants to keep breathing.
The thought of how easy it would be to arrange a reunion sends a shiver through Jared. Jensen would hate him if he did that. He has a family to support. But it would be so easy.
"I can't go back there," Jared says, almost panicking as he tries to imagine watching his own mother all but dance on Jensen's grave. "I can't—" His voice breaks, the sobs finally busting out of him, and Meg holds him closer as he cries and cries. It seems like hours before he can speak again, and when he does, what comes out isn't what he's expecting.
"I loved him." Jared sits up, looks at his sister, and feels ashamed that he just used the past tense, as if…as if it's all settled. "I love him, Meg, I think I really—"
She makes a face likes she's going to cry, pushes a hair back behind Jared's ear. "I know," she replies weakly, and Jared feels so stupid. She knew; he didn't. He said it before to Jensen, sure, but he told himself it was just for Jensen's sake. Because Jensen needed something to keep him fighting, and that was what he wanted to hear.
But now here he is, and it's too late, and he's realizing he meant it, meant it with every inch of difference there was between him and the giant.
Jared wipes his arm over his face, trying to clear the snot and tears, and sits up to meet Meg's eyes. "He's not coming back, is he?"
Meg looks away, doesn't say a thing, and Jared takes her hand, squeezing it so she’ll look at him. "Just say it," he begs. "I need to hear it from somebody."
"I don’t think so." She hesitates before adding, "There were movers here again yesterday. The housekeeper, she told them to put everything in storage, that there wouldn't be anyone living here."
"He wouldn't ever leave me like that," Jared says. "Even if he got better. He would come back to tell me."
"I…think so too," Meg agrees, biting her bottom lip. "I'm so sorry, Jared."
Jared nods, trying not to start crying again. He'll wait until she's gone, at least. He's already got her worried enough. "I think I'm just going to stay here another night." She opens her mouth to protest, and Jared shakes his head. "Don't worry. I promise to eat."
She frowns but nods, smoothes her hand down over her skirt and tries to stand. Jared catches her wrist to keep her from leaving just yet. Meg understands what he's asking for without his having to say it, and Jared's never been so thankful for his baby sister in his life.
She sits down next to him, keeping quiet company until Jared, lost in his thoughts again, asks, "What do you think happens to giants when they die?" He thinks of all the stories borrowers have about what comes after, and he can't settle on one that seems good enough for Jensen.
He's not actually expecting her to answer, but after a long time, she takes Jared's hand and gives it an encouraging squeeze. "I think they become borrowers," she says. "And eventually they find their way home."