The day Jared was born, a thunderstorm ripped through San Antonio, Texas. It wasn’t really unexpected or uncommon on a stifling hot summer day. For the most people it was just another thunderstorm, and soon it would be forgotten.
For Jared though, it was what shaped his life. Since the day he was born to Gerry and Sherri Padalecki, he never had it easy. His mother cried all the time for her tall, skinny little boy, knowing what kind of life was waiting for Jared and she was too weak and self-absorbed to prevent it. His father wasn’t even present when a nurse brought Jared to his mother, and he never came to visit his wife and newborn son in the hospital.
Ryan, Jared’s older brother, was thrilled at the idea of a younger brother. Being only eight at the time however, he couldn’t feel happy about the little person with wrinkled skin that was wrapped up in a blanket and tucked into his mother’s arms. He wanted to play baseball or basketball with his little brother and not watch him sucking on his thumb.
Life at the Padalecki household had changed even before Jared was born. An icy atmosphere had settled over the people living in the big Victorian house and Jared’s birth would only make the animosities grow. Gerry’s and Sherri’s relationship crumbled piece by piece. They barely even spoke to each other.
The happy family was only a picture they kept up for their friends and Gerry’s business partners. Having no other immediate family in the area made it easier to maintain the picture of the perfect family. When at home and alone though, Gerry almost never talked to his wife and when he did he yelled. Sherri started to drink and would fall into a catatonic state, leaving the upbringing of Ryan and now Jared to their nanny.
Jared was two and a half when his father hit him for the first time. The little boy had just wanted to drink his juice that morning and had knocked the plastic cup over. The juice spilled over the counter and dribbled to the floor before Carol, Jared’s nanny, could even react. Gerry was on his way to work – he imported European sports cars - and some of the juice spattered on his nine-hundred-dollar Armani suit.
Normally Gerry wouldn’t even be in the kitchen when Jared was having his breakfast, but today he had gotten a call from his friend Paul Johansson, which had delayed his departure by a little over an hour. They met through their respective businesses - Paul owned an import/export company - about five years back and they became fast friends. Paul lived in LA, though, and they mostly kept in contact over the phone.
Jared didn’t even think about spilling his juice, he just giggled at the way his hands splashed in the puddle before him. Carol was smiling at the little boy while cleaning away the juice, when she saw Gerry slap his hand hard against Jared’s cheek, leaving a red and burning handprint on the child’s face. Jared immediately started to wail, big tears streaming from his little eyes, and Carol rushed over to him, protecting him of any further attacks from his father.
“You worthless little brat,” Gerry spat with a hateful look in his eyes and rushed out of the kitchen cursing his son with a lot of names that made Carol’s ears burn, and she had three teenagers at home.
It didn’t evade her notice that Gerry never really cared for Jared. He never hugged or kissed him, never talked to him, he only ever yelled at Jared. He didn’t even spend time with Jared. Carol knew that he spent time with Ryan and she couldn’t remember ever hearing Gerry call Ryan names. She wondered what a little boy like Jared had done to deserve the everlasting wrath of his father.
Sherri usually spent time with Jared, when she wasn’t drunk or depressed. She seemed to really love her little boy and Carol asked herself what could have happened to Sherri that she felt the need to use alcohol to help her through the day.
The next day Gerry fired her with the statement that he wasn’t willing to spend money on his worthless son when it was clearly good for nothing. Carol wanted to argue but Gerry handed her a check with a generous bonus for her work and Carol rushed out of the house. She felt bad leaving Jared, the little boy with the dimpled smile who she had come to love, behind. But the bonus was just too big to say ‘no’ to, and besides she was sure that once Gerry made his decision nothing or nobody could change it.
Jared was a quiet boy growing up. He loved his books and their stories about heroes and knights in universes far, far away and he wished he could be one of them and escape his life forever. He also loved to paint and draw and his mother always told him how good he was. Sherri loved the drawings of scenery or people Jared had watched on the street. Or sometimes he drew images of the stories he read and how he imagined them to be. They all conveyed vibrancy and liveliness and Sherri wished her son would display the same in his behavior.
However Jared’s drawings never made their way to the fridge because Jared’s dad firstly didn’t like having anything on the fridge in general and secondly he didn’t like Jared’s drawings in particular.
When he first started drawing, Jared always went to his dad to show him the drawings he made. He soon learned that his father wasn’t interested in anything Jared did, especially not the good. He never asked what Jared liked to do in his free time or how Jared’s day at school was. Jared even had to wear Ryan’s old clothes, because his father never wanted to spend any money on him.
That however, didn’t make him the most popular kid in school. Jared came home on many occasions without his bag or ripped jeans or a black eye. But instead of telling Jared that it wasn’t his fault and maybe buying him new clothes, Gerry picked on Jared even more. He always told him how worthless he was, a waste of space and air and if Gerry would have had his way, Jared would never have been born.
Ryan and Jared got along well when they were both home. But Ryan, sensing the icy atmosphere between his parents ever since Jared was born and even before that, would rather go out than spend any time at home. But, when he was home, he always snagged some chocolate or other candy to share it with Jared. He knew that his father didn’t care for Jared. He never experienced the real way Gerry treated Jared, though. That only happened when no one else was around.
Ryan left for college when he turned eighteen. He was glad to get away from the loveless house in San Antonio even though he felt a little bad to leave Jared behind. But he was only eighteen, what else could he have done?!
After Ryan left it really started to get ugly for Jared. His father hit him almost every day, whether there was a reason or not. Sometimes it happened just because Gerry thought Jared was too loud walking up or down the stairs or the scratching of the pencil on Jared’s sketchbook unnerved him. Even if he didn’t hit him he always found fault with Jared and told him that he was nothing but trouble.
Sherri fell deeper and deeper into the bottle. She had started drinking shortly after Jared had been born, but it got worse over the years. Mostly, she didn’t even realize what happened to her boy and when she did notice she cried, telling Jared how sorry she was. Even as a little boy, Jared became his mother’s saving grace.
They moved to LA shortly after Ryan left for college. He was attending the engineering program at UCLA and Gerry wanted to be closer to his oldest son. That’s when Paul Johansson started to become a constant figure in their lives. Jared only knew Paul because he had heard his dad talking to him on the phone more than once. But now Paul came over to their house almost every day.
Sherri didn’t seem to mind, but seeing as she was constantly drunk, she probably wouldn’t have said anything anyway. Paul was nice enough though and Gerry never hit Jared when Paul was over to visit. So Jared came to enjoy the days when Paul would come over. His father and Paul would stay in the office the whole day and leave Jared to draw without picking at him for being a ‘girl’. The only time he saw his father and Paul was at dinner. And then Paul always treated Jared nicely.
The older Jared got the more Paul seemed interested in him. He asked about school and his hobbies, about his friends. At first Jared was thrilled that somebody seemed to be interested in his life. But Paul was always touching him. He wanted Jared to sit on his lap while telling him about his day. Paul would lay his hands on Jared’s hips, put his head on his shoulder and whisper things in Jared’s ear, sometimes even pressing wet kisses to his neck or cheek. The hands on his hips grasped him so hard that Jared couldn’t move away and they left bruises on his smooth skin.
Slowly but surely Jared came to loathe the days Paul visited. The older man began to make dirty comments about Jared’s cock-sucking lips or his hot ass, and being only fifteen, the remarks made Jared really uncomfortable. Paul even asked Jared if he ever had sex before and Jared blushed so hard he thought his head might explode. The boy had shaken his head and Paul had nodded with a pleased smirk on his face.
Jared realized that he liked boys when he was sixteen and got a hard-on watching his classmates play basketball. Looking at bare, sweaty chests made an unfamiliar heat pool in his belly. After the game he went home and jerked off for the first time to the image of his naked classmates. He felt dirty afterwards – not, because he liked boys, but because he had jerked off – and seeing, as he had no friends, he had nobody he could talk to.
Chad transferred to the high school in Jared’s junior year and he instantly took to the tall, skinny boy with the sad face. Even though the other students called him crazy for sitting with Jared at lunch, when he could sit with the popular crowd, Chad still chose Jared. He knew Jared needed a friend and Chad was over needing to be popular in high school. He liked to do his own thing and he wanted to be friends with Jared-sad-puppy-dog-eyes-Padalecki.
Besides, he had never seen the fun in bullying other students. When he caught Brian Hanson as he threw Jared’s bag in the mud, Chad dealt out a few punches. He got a black eye, but Brian’s nose was broken. Nate, a buddy of Brian’s, probably had a broken wrist. They left Chad and Jared alone after that.
It took him almost two months before Jared even said ‘hi’ to him in the hallways and acknowledged his presence at lunch. It took him even longer to get an earnest smile out of Jared. Damn, this boy was beautiful. Chad wasn’t gay, but he could admit if a guy looked good. And Jared? He was the best looking guy on campus.
Chad knew that even if girls or boys would notice it, they wouldn’t try to hit on him. Jared always walked with his head down; his floppy hair falling over his face and never making eye contact. Jared was a shadow in high school, nobody really noticed him.
Finally, they became friends and Jared started to open up, telling Chad a little about himself. Chad even learned that Jared’s family wasn’t poor like he assumed, because Jared was always wearing old and worn clothes. Jared just shrugged like it didn’t matter to him and Chad let it go. He knew that Jared would talk to him once he felt a little safer.
Chad never went to Jared’s house after school or on weekends and Jared barely visited Chad in his free time, saying that his father didn’t like him going out. Chad made Jared promise that if something happened at home he would come to Chad and tell him. Jared never did.
The blond boy had his assumptions of what was going on at Jared’s home, but he never told Jared and Jared never confirmed any of it. Chad sometimes thought about talking to somebody about Jared, but he knew that Jared would see it as a betrayal and Chad refused to do anything to destroy Jared’s trust in him.
The day Jared turned eighteen Gerry called the young man into his office. Jared went with an ache in his stomach because he knew that it couldn’t be good when his father summoned him to the office. When Jared opened the door, he found Gerry and Paul sitting on the big leather couch having a whiskey.
“Come in!” Gerry ordered and Jared walked slowly inside, the pit in his stomach growing and growing.
“Dad?” Jared asked with a quiet voice.
“He is so obedient, don’t you think, Paul?” Gerry asked with a sly smirk on his face.
Paul laughed. “You’re making him uncomfortable, Gerry.” Jared knew Paul didn’t care, that it was only meant to gain Jared’s trust. “Jared, come and sit with us. We wanted to talk to you.” It sounded important.
Jared didn’t say anything, knowing it would only make the teasing worse and walked over to sit in one of the armchairs.
“Jared,” Paul started, “I think it’s finally time to tell you that your dad and I made an arrangement a long time ago. And this arrangement concerns you.”
Jared’s eyes jerked up. “W-what?” he stuttered.
“Jared, you may have noticed that I have a clear interest in you and I went to your father a few years back and asked for the right to marry you after you turned eighteen.”
Jared looked on in shock. He couldn’t believe what was about to happen to him. His father wouldn’t, he couldn’t just give him away.
“The time has come now Jared, and we’d like to make it official,” Paul continued. The older man stood and walked over to Jared. He pressed his rough lips against Jared’s in a bruising kiss and Jared’s stomach turned upside down.
“You can be glad that someone as wealthy and nice as Paul is even considering marrying you,” Gerry spit out. He grabbed a few papers lying next to him on the couch and handed them to Jared. “Here, you need to sign those to make it official.”
It was the prenuptial and Jared wanted to flee, get away from the man who was trying to ‘sell’ him to the highest bidder. Even thinking about marrying Paul made him want to puke. But how far could he get without money? “No.” He shook his head.
Jared never had sex before. He hadn’t been kissed or had a boyfriend. Sure he had crushes on celebrities or even on his PE teacher, Mr. Donovan, with his dark hair and broad muscular shoulders. But he never had any type of a relationship and now they wanted him to marry Paul.
“Jared, this is not up for discussion.” Paul’s voice was calm, but Jared could tell that he was losing his patience.
“No,” he said more forcefully. “You can’t make me.” It was the first time he had ever raised his voice against his father or even tried to tell him no.
Gerry was up in his face in two seconds flat. His hand curled tight around Jared’s throat, pressing Jared’s back against the nearest wall. “Don’t tell me what I can’t do, boy. You are gonna marry Paul and get out of my house once and for all or I’m gonna tell everyone what a worthless little bastard you are.”
Jared felt the tears burn behind his eyes, but he also knew that his father and Paul would only make more fun of him, if he started to cry. He didn’t want his father to tell anybody anything about him. What would people think of him when they realized what a worthless, pathetic person Jared really was? He didn’t want people to know.
“Gerry!” Paul’s voice cut through the icy air. “That’s enough. I think Jared will say ‘yes’ now. Won’t you, Jared?”
Gerry’s fingers loosened around Jared’s throat and the younger man gasped for breath. Jared knew saying ‘yes’ was the only way to get out of there unharmed. And he did, his stomach churned, but he said ‘yes’.
Everybody else was shocked at the announcement of the wedding. Sherri even stayed sober long enough to talk to Jared about the marriage and ask her son if that was what he really wanted. Jared had nodded and Sherri had poured herself another drink.
Ryan came over to ask his little brother why he would marry somebody who was almost thirty years older than he was. Jared told Ryan that he loved Paul and the older man let it go. Jared just couldn’t tell him what Gerry and Paul had done. He wouldn’t be able to stand the way his brother would look at him, like the pathetic looser Jared was. Ryan clearly didn’t agree with Jared’s decision, but he promised to be Jared’s best man, if this was what he wanted.
Ryan also went to Gerry to talk to their dad about the marriage. He told him that he didn’t think that it was right to let Paul marry Jared. But Gerry brushed him off and said if that was what Jared wanted he would allow him that. It was the same thing he told to one of Jared’s teachers who expressed his concern.
The only one who knew about the arrangement was Chad. Not because Jared wanted to tell him, but because Chad found him when he was bawling his eyes out and he made Jared tell him everything. So, Jared did and he was scared as hell that Chad would be gone afterwards, but his friend was still there by his side.
Chad wanted to call the police and tell them what Paul and Gerry did to Jared or at least tell Ryan, but Jared made him promise that he wouldn’t do that. He didn’t want anyone knowing what a pathetic, worthless person he really was. It was a hard fight but finally Chad promised, because he didn’t want Jared to think that he might go behind his back.
Two weeks later after the marriage was made official, Jared moved into Paul’s house.
The wedding had been a big party with lots of Paul’s friends. Jared’s side had only been Ryan, Gerry and Sherri. Paul knew exactly what Chad meant to Jared and had some of the people who worked for him watch out so that Chad wouldn’t interrupt the wedding. Jared had asked Chad to stay away, so he wouldn’t get hurt.
When Ryan asked about Chad, Jared explained that a family emergency had kept his best friend away. Ryan didn’t think that Jared would lie to him so he let it go. He never had been a big fan of Paul, but he also didn’t know the older man all that well. So if Jared had fallen in love with him, he couldn’t be so bad.
The wedding reception took place at Paul’s mansion in Hollywood. He and Jared were both wearing tuxes. Jared wanted to rip off his bow tie because he felt like he was suffocating. Jared had thought about what he could possibly do to escape this, but he had come up blank. He had no money and no place to go. He didn’t want to end up on the streets. There was no other way other than to marry Paul.
Sherri was downing one glass of champagne after another and was clearly beyond drunk. Gerry was sitting with a smug grin at one of the tables talking to Paul’s friends. Jared couldn’t remember their names. He wanted to scream or punch something. He wanted to run and never stop. But he didn’t and when Paul asked him to dance he stood and walked to the dance floor with his husband.
Later that night, Paul pulled him upstairs into their bedroom and took away everything Jared had left of his self-esteem.
From then on Jared’s life consisted of nothing more than sex with Paul, possibly more than once a day, cooking, cleaning and serving Paul’s business partners when his husband had them over for dinner. Paul owned an import/export company and earned a lot of money with it. He was often away on business trips. At first he took Jared with him and then he decided it was better for Jared to stay home.
Chad checked up on Jared regularly, by phone or sometimes he came by when he knew that Paul wasn’t home, making sure that Jared was still in one piece. Paul hadn’t hurt him. Not really. He liked rough sex and mostly didn’t even prepare Jared before he pushed inside. Jared had learned to live with that, though. He had nothing to compare the sex to so he wasn’t even sure if that was something out of the ordinary.
Paul hated Chad and Chad hated Paul. Every time Chad was with Jared he tried to convince the younger man to run away. He even offered Jared money to help. But Jared knew that Paul would find him, no matter how far he would run.
When Paul’s friends and business partners came over for dinner or to play some poker, Paul ordered Jared to serve them. On those nights his clothes consisted of tight hot pants and a latex shirt. Paul loved to show him off. He never allowed his friends to touch Jared, but for Jared it was embarrassing enough that they all could see what he always tried to hide beneath large clothes. Normally Paul didn’t care what Jared wore, but when his friends would come over he insisted on the clothes.
One of Paul’s friends was especially persistent. His name was Roberto Coltrano and he did close business with Paul. He always tried to grab Jared’s ass or crotch when Paul wasn’t looking. He even had offered Paul money for one night with Jared. So far, Paul refused and Jared was grateful for that. He was really scared that Paul would give him away so his friends could have their way with him.
Jared was still allowed to see his parents when he wanted. He didn’t go often and if he went, it was only when he knew that his dad wasn’t home. He tried to take care of his mom, but there was barely a time when she was sober these days.
Paul however, had made it clear that he didn’t want Jared to see Ryan. His brother called once a week and they talked on the phone. Jared always refused to meet with Ryan. It wasn’t as if they had met regularly before the wedding, so it wasn’t too hard to keep Ryan at arm’s length. Besides, being a successful engineer Ryan had more than enough work to do.
Jared hated his life and his husband. He had never loved Paul in the first place, but now he loathed the man. He just couldn’t think of a way to get away from his life and the marriage.
Two years later Jared was sitting in his husband’s office waiting with dread for whatever was to come. Paul mostly summoned Jared to his office when he planned a dinner party with his friends and he wanted to discuss the specifics. But this day was different. Jared knew there won’t be a dinner party any time soon.
“You know that I have to go to Europe and Asia for a longer business trip?” Paul asked looking at Jared with cold eyes.
Jared nodded. Paul taught him to only speak when asked a direct question and this one was more rhetorical than anything else. Jared knew that Paul had to go away for at least two months, his husband told him four times already.
Paul normally went on shorter business trips every few weeks. They mostly too two or three days; once it was a week and Jared always spent the time at his parents’ house. He hated when Paul left him at his parents’ house. He felt like an incapable child and his father still didn’t miss a chance to tell him how worthless he really was.
“Okay. I don’t want you to stay with your parents this time, though. So, I spoke with my good friend David. You met him at the wedding reception. He works at a ranch somewhere in the middle of Colorado. I want you to go there. He already booked a room for you. I thought you’d like to relax a little.”
Jared’s eyes shot up in surprise. He thought that Paul would send him to his parents just like all the times before, but a ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere didn’t sound any more appealing. And he knew Paul wasn’t doing it for him. He was doing it to keep Jared under control.
He thought about saying ‘no’, but he was too scared of what Paul might do if Jared refused to go. Paul was always threatening him with telling Jared that he’s thinking about accepting Coltrano’s offer. Until now Paul hadn’t, but Jared knew he would if Jared made him angry enough.
“Your flight goes in three days.” Paul handed him a brochure. There was a picture of a two storey house displayed in front of the mountains and beneath a clear blue skin. “You’re going to Hide Ranch.”
The only thing Jensen had in common with Jared was that it was raining the day he was born.
For Jensen’s life never was hard or difficult. His parents loved him and he got along very well with his siblings. His parents wanted him and he was a child born out of the love of two people who couldn’t love each other more.
Donna and Alan Ackles always tried to impart their values over to their kids while all three of them grew up in a protected, non-violent household. Until eighth grade Jensen never got so much as a light punch from his brother, Josh and even then his older brother was grounded for hitting Jensen.
His father took them fishing and later they went to baseball and football games or horseback riding. Jensen was supported in everything he wanted to do or try out. When he wanted to learn to play the guitar, Donna looked for a teacher in Dallas and Alan went with Jensen to get his first guitar. Jensen played Lacrosse in high school and his whole family came to each and every home game. Sometimes they even went to the away games, if it wasn’t too far.
They didn’t have much money. Alan was a police officer and Donna worked as a teacher, but they were happy. Jensen had two close friends in high school, Ty and Zack, but he was well known and most kids liked him. He wasn’t really part of the popular crowd, but he didn’t belong to the geeks, either.
Jensen brought home his first boyfriend when he was sixteen. He and Jason lasted for the better part of one year, but in the end they decided to go their separate ways. Ever since, Jensen had a few serious relationships. The longest lasted a little over two years. He had met Justin at a club shortly after graduating college and they had hit it off right away. However, after two years they were both sure that they wanted different things out of life. Justin wanted to get married and have a family. And Jensen? He just couldn’t think of settling down at only twenty-four.
With his father being in law enforcement and Josh becoming a lawyer it was kind of a given that Jensen would decide to work in the same field. He always wanted to work for the police, even as a little boy and when he got his acceptance letter from UCLA to study criminology, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles.
Jensen met Christian Kane through one of his classes at college and they became fast friends, having a lot in common. They both wanted to work with the police ever since they were kids, liked the same kind of music, country and southern rock, and were both gay.
When they started working with the LAPD, it was everything Jensen ever dreamt about. Finally he was out on the streets catching the bad guys. Jensen and Chris did their job well and they got promoted fast. At 26 they were two of the youngest in the squad to become detectives.
One day Jensen’s entire life changed. From one second to another he became the hunted instead of the hunter. He had just transferred over to the gang and narcotics division when it happened.
It was completely unexpected. Jensen just wanted to buy some milk for his breakfast the next day and Chris was waiting in the car outside to drive them back to station. A guy walked into the store and took out a gun. He wore a dark hoodie and a baseball cap and Jensen couldn’t really see his face. So he waited. He stayed calm, one hand on his own weapon.
The guy was nervous, rocking back and forth on his heels, almost begging the cashier to put the money in the bag faster. Jensen saw his chance to do something, took out his gun and said, “Police. Don’t move.” What he didn’t expect was for the guy to spin around and pull the trigger. Jensen fired back. He waited for the pain indicating that he had been shot but it never came.
The guy, though, fell down to his knees pressing his hand against his chest. Blood was flowing out of the chest wound, painting his fingers red. Jensen hadn’t really meant to shoot the guy, he had just defended himself.
Chris, having heard the gun shots, rushed into the store with his gun drawn. He ran to the guy’s side pressing his own hands to the wound, the blood painting them red, too. Jensen saw Chris taking out his cell to call 911, but it was all happening in a blur. Jensen couldn’t understand what was going on. He did what he had to do, but it still felt wrong. He had shot someone. He had probably killed someone. The gun in his hand became too heavy and he let it fall to the floor.
The man, or more accurately the boy, he couldn’t have been more than seventeen or eighteen, died in Chris’ arms that night. Yet, that wasn’t the worst of it. Later, they found out that the boy, Fabrizio Coltrano, was the son of Mafia boss Roberto Coltrano,.
IA did an investigation on the shooting and Jensen had been suspended for the better part of a week, before he was cleared of all charges. All witnesses had testified that Fabrizio Coltano had shot first and Jensen had reacted in self defense. And it helped that Jensen’s colleagues had found the bullet of the guy’s gun stuck in the wall only inches away from where Jensen had stood.
Jensen was sitting across from his sergeant, Charles Whitfield. They’d always gotten along well and they both knew that Jensen hadn’t had a chance shooting the boy.
They also knew that Roberto Coltrano would want to avenge his son’s death and Jensen was in danger. Coltrano was one of the biggest crime bosses in LA. He was known for his ruthlessness. Jensen knew that Coltrano had his men everywhere and sooner or later, probably sooner, they’d get to him.
Until now there hadn’t been any death threats, but it was just a matter of time. Or maybe, they wouldn’t bother with death threats, but just put a bullet through Jensen’s head when he was walking down the street.
That was why Sergeant Whitfield handed him the brochure with a two storey house on display in front of the mountains beneath a clear blue sky. He and Lieutenant Beaver had decided they wanted him to hide for some time.
“That’s where they’re sending you to hide. Apparently the owners are good friends of Lieutenant Beaver.” Whitfield gave him a tight smile. They both knew Jensen couldn’t hide forever.
Jensen looked down at the brochure again. How ironic was it that the place was called Hide Ranch?