Butterflies and Hurricanes
There was something about the field of wildflowers that bloomed on the property of a friend’s great-grandmother that had always drawn Jensen Ackles.
Even as a child, running from the fights and abuse in his foster home, it was to this field that he’d almost always run to right from the very first day he’d stumbled upon it.
He’d been seven-years-old the first time he’d found the field filled with brightly colored flowers of all kinds. It never occurred to him to worry that he might be allergic or that he was trespassing. All he knew was that, once again, he’d angered his strictly religious foster parents. He’d taken a beating that took Jensen years to understand he never actually deserved.
Born to drug addicts in a small town in Texas, it had been some relation of his mother’s that had sent the unwanted child to friends in South Carolina who were known to take in ‘strays’, something he’d grown up hearing himself referred to.
The field of wildflowers, the peacefulness of it, and the heavy band of trees toward the end of the field had made the angry, confused, and frightened boy feel safe for the first time since he’d been removed from the home in which he’d been discovered living amongst rats and his overdosed parents’ bodies. It had also been in this field that he’d met the boy who would become so much more than his very best friend.
Jensen easily recalled the day he’d literally tripped over Jared Padalecki. Not once since he’d claimed that field of his own, however childish that might be, Jensen had never seen another soul, person, or animal, in it.
That day he’d run fifteen miles to the field from the rundown old house because his foster parents, Bruce and Shanna Walker, were arguing. Jensen had already taken a backhand to the face for just trying to eat his meager lunch and had gotten in the way of things he was ‘too stupid to understand’.
He’d run to what he knew was his safe place, only to trip over a dark haired boy with gangly legs, long arms, and hair that seemed to fall into his eyes. For at least a month Jensen could never decide on a color, ‘brown hair’ just never did it justice.
At first they’d merely stared at one another. Jensen, tense and wary --even at seven he’d learned the hard way that even other kids could be cruel-- and Jared, just a little curious about this blond haired, green eyed stranger in the field his great-grandmother owned on the outskirts of Charleston, South Carolina.
“Hi! I’m Jared! And this is my puppy, Rex! Granny says both he and I’ll grow into our feet!” The darker haired boy’s dimpled smile was bright and happy and almost matched what looked to be a smile on the huge chocolate lab puppy’s face. “Who’re you? Where do you live? What’cha doin’ in Granny’s field and… how’d you get hurt?”
It didn’t take long for Jensen to figure out that besides an infectious smile and a never ending stream of questions, Jared seemed to have a never ending amount of energy. That day he’d merely sat in the field to watch Jared and his puppy run for what seemed like hours before both finally fell into a pile near where Jensen sat.
Years later, Jensen would realize that day had literally both changed and saved his life.
It was in this field of wildflowers and butterflies that Jensen not only learned that he could be a boy who played and laughed with his new friend and the clumsy puppy, but also that he could trust and start to heal from a short lifetime of nothing but abuse and lies.
At age ten, it was in this field that Jensen finally revealed to Jared how he’d gotten the various bruises and other injuries over the years. The current ones were received after he failed to sweep the whole house, earning him a vicious beating that kept him out of school for three days so none of the suspicious teachers or other parents would see the injuries Shanna Walker couldn’t hide with powder and concealer.
It was to this field that he’d finally run to when his foster mother’s back was finally turned after three days of pain and being locked in the small room that they called his bedroom. As the sun was setting that evening, a physically battered and emotionally scarred Jensen dropped to his knees, wrapped his arms around the unusually subdued Rex, and clung.
The field was where he had thought he’d die the day his drunk and pissed off foster father had followed him and tried to choke the ten-year-old boy. Jensen had lost track of the foul names and other insults that had been hurled that day at him, but he knew he would never forget the sound of Jared shouting and Rex snarling, much less the sound of the loud and deep voice of Jared’s ex-Army father who had come running at the sounds from the field. He hid back in the old trees with Jared in a small fort they’d built together while the senior Padalecki stood with a fiercely protective Rex until the cops arrived to drag the drunk and ranting man off in cuffs.
That was the last time Jensen had seen either of his so-called foster parents. and while his life from ten-years-old to eighteen wasn’t easy, he at least didn’t fear being beaten to within an inch of his life for a simple mistake or starving for days on end.
What Jensen feared was being taken to an even worse foster family. There was nothing but relief when another family in Charleston, the family of a school friend of his and Jared’s, had stepped up with the offer to take him in rather than allow him to remain in a system that had so badly failed the boy.
Despite not having to live like he had, Jensen still found that when he wasn’t in school or studying or learning to do the things he hadn’t been allowed to before, it was still Cordelia Padalecki’s field of flowers and butterflies that he was the most relaxed in.
He and Jared played here with Rex as they both grew up from boys to teenagers and shared both the good and bad times that came.
It was in the field one summer night, with fireworks shooting off overhead as people celebrated Independence Day, that Jensen and Jared shared not only secrets but also a first kiss when they both admitted their feelings for one another.
Jensen’s past made him wary about admitting the feelings he’d had for Jared since he’d been fifteen and Jared fourteen, but the first awkward kiss between them after Jared had cut into his stumbling admission in his usual straightforward way, was nothing short of perfect.
“Best friends forever, Jen,” Jared murmured softly, cheeks blushing since he’d known his first attempt at kissing anyone, much less his best friend, wasn’t the greatest. He relaxed when some of the wary fear he’d seen in Jensen’s eyes earlier had lessened and he kissed him back. “Boyfriends now?”
The word was new and one Jensen never thought he’d ever have reason to say, much less believe in. But finding out they shared an attraction, he realized there never would be anyone else that he would ever love except Jared. With a gentle tug to bring the laughing younger teen back in for another slightly less awkward but still cautious kiss, Jensen had nodded. “Best friends and boyfriends forever, Jay,” he said and meant it.
The field of wildflowers was where Jensen had gone to find Jared after the news had broken that his parents had been killed in an airplane crash over Key West and he’d held his boyfriend as he’d sobbed. It was in there Jensen had sat again with his best friend as they both said goodbye when old age and illness finally called Rex home.
Watching as Rex passed away, coupled with the pain Jared was in, was the first time Jensen could say he truly ever understood or had felt real grief. Despite having felt pain at the loss of Jared’s parents and Jared’s great-grandmother, who passed away shortly after, the pain of Rex’s passing shocked him.
They’d buried the dog at what was Rex’s favorite spot beside the bush that always had the most butterflies.
It was to that spot Jensen walked to today. He ignored the cool breeze of fall that blew his short, wavy, dark blond hair and that it was too chilly that day for an outfit of a hooded sweatshirt and old jeans that looked too big and bulky for his 6’1” leanly built body. But since Jensen honestly was at the point where he didn’t give a crap about anything or anyone, especially himself, he didn’t notice the chill or the breeze.
Standing still for a moment, as if reliving all the times he’d come to here either alone as a child or with Jared over the years, Jensen slowly eased down to his knees on the damp ground to lightly touch a hand to the small grave marker that was merely a smooth black stone. He slowly took a deep breath before letting it out; pain and grief along with anger and guilt were all rolling through Jensen and making it hard to keep up the stoic façade that he had been successful at maintaining the last few weeks.
From the moment he and Jared had met in this field, fell in love, kissed for the first time and then made love for the first time here, it had never once entered Jensen’s mind that they might not be together for the rest of their lives.
Their lives together hadn’t been easy since the death of Jared’s family. Jensen had just graduated high school while Jared had one more year to go, and the sudden loss had caused a lot of stress for both of them. The arrival of Jared’s aunt caused more stress and heartache because the woman had contested all three wills, fighting Jared for what should’ve been rightly his. Still to this day, she tied up every bank account and the estate that Jared should have inherited from his father as well as his share from Cordelia’s will.
Technically, even this field was tied up in the legal system. While it had been willed to Jared, the bitter fight with his Aunt was keeping it in legal limbo; Jensen knew it could be considered trespassing if the woman learned he was here, but he honestly didn’t give a damn. He’d lost so much now... he was fighting to just find a reason to go on another day.
He looked down at the ring on his left hand before raising it and slashing at the burning tears that once again pooled in his eyes. With his free hand he placed the item he’d carried with him next to the marker, fingertips brushing over both lightly.
“He’s with you now, Rex. You guys can play all you want with the butterflies you used to love. Take care of him like I couldn’t.”
It had been nine weeks of brutal, agonizing pain and heartache that no amount of helpful, overly helpful in some cases, hospital therapists, or kind words of sympathy from friends who had no idea what Jensen was feeling could help. Nine weeks of hell from when he’d woken up in Charleston Mercy Hospital with fleeting memories of the event that had not only put him there but also cost him something that he could never replace.
Six weeks had passed since his release, and all Jensen wanted was to be left alone to mourn, to grieve, to hate those he held responsible for what had happened to him, to Jared… to their life together. He’d locked himself in the bedroom of the small apartment they’d shared only to learn there were too many memories there to even allow him to try and forget much less heal.
A friend had offered his place as a temporary solution until other arrangements could be made or a new place rented, since they’d been talking about moving anyways. While Jensen was grateful to Chris for the offer and had taking him up on it --only because it was better than the other solution offered by the damn nosy therapist at the hospital-- he’d also accepted in his heart that unless something changed inside him soon, there would be no new apartment or small house with a yard.
Jensen was unaware of the tears on his face or that he’d slowly started to sob as the emotions he’d buried in order to protect himself from even more pain were finally breaking loose as he sat in the field where he’d once known safety and happiness.
Jensen took a moment to reflect on the dreams he and Jared had shared about their future, the plans he’d actually started to allow himself to make recently. To have it all jerked away in one quick, heartless moment of cruelty and hate… Jensen felt his gut clench and he touched the ring again before starting to slip it off.
“I’m sorry, Jay,” he whispered, pulling the bottle of sleeping pills, as of yet untouched, out of the pocket of his hoodie. He’d been given them to help him at least gain adequate sleep after his release from the hospital and his refusal to allow them to ‘suggest’ some time in another section of the hospital until he’d healed some and learned to cope.
“You’ve been my rock, my strength, my heart and reason to go on since the first day we met. You taught me that I didn’t deserve the pain or abuse and that I could have a normal life if I fought for it.” Jensen’s voice shook as much as his hands did as he played with his ring before finally pulling it off completely.
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve cost you. I’m sorry for everything you’ve lost because you loved me and refused to walk away in order to get your inheritance. I’m sorry for…” he stopped with a sob when a flash of big hazel eyes and a dimpled smile took his breath away and the guilt, pain, and loss all hit him much like it had when he’d woken in the hospital to a too clinically cold doctor and a grim faced Chris Kane and Chad Michael Murray.
“I’m sorry for it all. I love you, Jared.” Jensen stared at the field one more time before reaching for the bottle on the ground beside him. “Forgive me.”
The breeze had picked up, blowing a much colder air, but Jensen didn’t feel anything as he took another second to consider what could be his last act. It was his only way to escape what he knew was his fault, regardless of what others had said.
All the doubts of his youth, the words of hate and cruelty that had been burned into his memory, were almost always in his ears now; he’d heard them again right before his world changed. The twenty-six-year-old knew it was cowardly, but he also knew his options were thin to none. He’d survived the horrors of his childhood because of his best friend and that, Jensen knew even as his hand was lifting, was gone now.
Closing his eyes to try to ignore the memories of laughing, playing, loving, and just being happy here, Jensen willed himself to have the courage to take this one stand so the pain wouldn’t get worse. He didn’t need to actually hear the words he knew would be coming.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He knew the items he’d placed next to Rex’s marker would be found by the others later on if anyone thought to look for him. Jensen went to toss back a handful of the pills, gasping when a strong hand suddenly grabbed his wrist and a voice spoke from behind him.