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Cracked And Broken

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Cracked And Broken

Eight Weeks Ago

Sam walked into the cabin they had been staying at, dragging the bags in with him. “Hey, I'm back. You wanna give me a hand?” Sam called out, dropping the bags on the counter. He looked over at Dean who was sitting on the couch and shook his head. Dean didn't say a word to him, didn't even acknowledge him. Dean had stayed behind, not wanting to leave the cabin for some reason. He’d been off lately, not really seeming to be himself. He’d be angry one minute, yelling and having outbursts and then silent the next, not speaking to him at all. He would ask Dean a question, only for Dean to stare at him, vacant eyed not answering him. He struggled as to how to reach Dean, how to help him. If only Dean would open up to him. Just talk to him for once instead of keeping everything bottled up until he exploded. Sighing, he got to work on emptying the bags, casting a glance at Dean every once in awhile to make sure he was still in the room. Yes, if only Dean would talk to him, then maybe he could help him. Sam turned to place the dish detergent on the edge of the sink near the window. Glancing up, Sam looked at his own reflection in the window over the sink. But, it wasn’t Sam looking back at him. He wasn’t really Sam, he was Jared and Dean wasn't Dean, he was really Jensen. Jared still wasn't sure how this treatment was meant to help the man sitting on the couch. So the question was how he could help a man who was cracking from the inside out? How could he play at being a brother to a man he’d only met a few weeks ago? How could Jared help Jensen to actually be Jensen instead of slipping into his Dean persona? Jared knew Jensen’s mind had created Dean as a way to cope. Jensen had experienced some type of trauma that he hadn’t been able to deal with. His mind has fractured, creating Dean as a way to protect himself. So far, Jensen hadn't been able to stay lucid to talk to Jared. Dean would take over for him and he safeguarded Jensen’s secrets and pain, not willing to divulge the tiniest bit of information. Dean focused on the supernatural, on creatures and hunting them down.

Jared had managed to get Jensen to speak a little about his past, something he didn’t know that much about but only because Jared had shared something with the man. Jared had told Jensen that he’d left Texas because he was gay. Not something that was easy to be in Texas. Jared’s parents had accepted it and fully supported him, showing that they loved him unconditionally. Aside from his family and a few close friends who supported him, the rest had turned against him. Knowing he could never be happy living in a bubble, Jared opted to leave everything behind and start out on his own. When Jared had shared that with Jensen, the man had started to cry. At first Jared thought it because of what he’d just shared. In part it was but Jensen also confided that he was also gay and his family hadn’t been accepting. He came home one day to find the locks changed and his few belongings neatly packed and waiting for him in the driveway. His parents wouldn’t even speak to him. Wouldn’t acknowledge him as their son, he was dead to them. Jared had asked how Jensen’s parents found out and that’s when Jensen shut down and Dean surfaced.

Their First Meeting

The door opened and the green eyed man looked up, hope shining in his eyes. It faded slightly when he saw who was standing in the doorway. A sigh escaped his lips and he turned back to the window he’d been looking out of. “How are you today?” The man grunted a response to the woman who walked closer to him. “Are you having a rough morning?” Another grunt as he slouched down in his chair. He heard a shuffling from behind him, but didn’t turn to look. The woman moved to stand in front of him, blocking his view of the outside world. “Jen.” She stopped and cleared her throat as the man’s head snapped up, anger clearly visible on his features. “Excuse me, Dean. I’d like to introduce you to someone.” She motioned with a hand and the shuffling turned into footsteps as they approached them.

Dean turned his head to see who was in his room. A smile quickly came to his lips and he was up and out of his seat, wrapping his arms around the man before him. “Sam, where the hell have you been?”

The man cleared his throat and looked to the woman who made a rolling gesture with her hand. “Dean, I’ve been helping out Doctor Messina, trying to figure out how to help you.”

Dean’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Help me?” Jared looked at the doctor again, waiting for her to offer him some help.

The woman stepped closer, placing a hand on Dean’s shoulder. “Yes, help you. You’ve been sick and we’re all trying to figure out how to help you get well again.”

Dean looked from Jared to the doctor before slumping down in the chair. “I’m sick?” He looked confused and sat quietly, not speaking, staring vacantly out the window.

“Dean, I’m going to speak with Sam outside of your room. When we’re done, I’ll let him come back to visit with you.” Dean gave no response, letting them walk out of the room without a word to them. He didn’t react when the door was closed, leaving him alone.

Doctor Messina motioned for Jared with her to join her on the bench a few feet away from Dean’s room. “Doctor Messina, what was that all about?” He looked at her quizzically, clearly not understand what had just happened.

“Let me fully explain. I didn’t want to say anything unless he had a favorable reaction to you. The man you just met will be the patient you’re in charge of, if you’re willing. You’ll be his full-time caretaker, his friend if he needs one. His name is Jensen Ackles but he’s fully immersed himself in this world where, in his mind he’s actually Dean Winchester. He mainly lives in the persona twenty-four, seven. But, he does have times where he is lucid, knows who he is. He’s been very agitated for several days, so I was forced to medicate him to lessen his agitation. He claims he has a brother named Sam that he’s been searching for. We’ve introduced him to two other orderlies and he got violent when he saw them. He claimed they were demons. The smile he gave when seeing you is the first one since he was brought here a month ago.”

He looked at her. “So, what, you want me to pretend to be this person, Sam, his brother? Is that really healthy for him? Wouldn’t that do more harm than good for him, to play along with his psychosis?”

Messina sighed. “Normally I’d say yes, but we have no idea what triggered this. When we’ve confronted him with the truth he becomes agitated and violent. He then turns that in on himself, trying to self-harm. I know you were hired to fill an orderly position and you’re working on furthering your education in psychology, that’s why I think you’d be perfect for this. You have your Bachelor’s degree as a Medical Social Worker and you’re working towards your Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in psychiatric care. This will help Jensen greatly and you as well. You can use this towards your clinical hours as well as credit in place of class attendance. I want to try a new form of therapy for Jensen, totally immerse him in his psychosis. It’s radical but I think in the long run he’ll benefit from it. We have a small cabin on the edge of the property that I’d like to move the two of you to. We only use this cabin when trying to transition a particularly introverted patient back into society. You’d be with him around the clock and the cabin is monitored. I’d be able to observe Jensen as Dean, his interaction with you as Sam. I know this is completely unorthodox but I don’t think medicating him to the gills is right for him. Nor is electric shock treatment or any of the other past or present treatments we’ve used over the years. I want to be able to help this man. So, Jared Padalecki what do you think?”

Jared looked at her, shock showing on his features. He fingered the hem of his shirt and his right leg started to bounce. He leaned back against the cinderblock wall, feeling the coolness against his skin. He closed his eyes and ran through what he’d just been told, remembering the look in the man’s green eyes. Opening his eyes, he looked at Doctor Messina and shook his head. “Yes, I’ll do it, on one condition. I need to be able to read his file. I’m not going in there blindly.”

Doctor Messina smiled and shook her head. “Of course, I can arrange for that to happen. What I need you to do is two things, go in and talk to him as if he’s Dean and you’re Sam. Then, go home and pack because you won’t be dressed as an orderly. Dean has told me that he and his brother dress in jeans, t-shirts and an over shirt, typically plaid and boots. I’ll make sure you have an ID badge as Sam Winchester and that the staff is aware of who you are and that you’re part of the staff here. If this works for you and there aren’t any issues when you go in there, then I’d like to start this tomorrow.”

Jared drew in a long breath, holding it to steady his nerves. He exhaled slowly, shook his head and stood. The doctor led him back to room seventeen, Jensen’s room and knocked on the door. Jared stepped around her and pulled the door open. Looking at Doctor Messina, he gave her a tight smile before entering the room. “Dean?” Jared let the door close behind him as he walked in, not waiting to see if the doctor would follow him in. He stood in front of Jensen, waiting to see how the man would react to him. Jensen raised his head, dull eyes not seeing him at first. He looked at Jared, eyes narrowing as he looked him over from head to toe and then back up.

“Do I know you?” Jensen asked in a small, scared voice. “Do you know where I am, why I’m here? No one will tell me anything.”

Jared looked at him, realizing the man before him was having a moment of clarity. “Uhm, can you tell me your name?” Jared tried to stay calm and make his voice sound as nonthreatening as possible.

The man let out a small laugh as if Jared had asked him something stupid. “Jensen. My name is Jensen Ackles. Who are you?” Okay, this was good, Jared could work with this, gain the man’s trust.

“I’m Jared Padalecki. I’m here so we can talk, get to know each other, if you’d like that. Do you mind if I sit down?” Jared indicated to the bed but waited for the man to answer him. “Sure.”

Jensen watched him walk to the bed and then turned his chair around to face him. They sat in silence, watching each other. Jensen finally broke the silence. “What do you want to know?” Jensen continued to look at him, his stare never wavering.

“I guess let’s start with how old you are?” Jensen bit his lip, regarding the question. “Thirty, how about you?” Jensen asked.

“I’m twenty-six. Where are you from?” “Texas. Born and raised. You?” Jared smiled, Texas something they had in common.

“Yeah, I’m from Texas, too.” Jensen smiled and was about to say something before his smile disappeared and he looked at Jared accusingly.

“What kinda game are you playing at? Texas? We’re from Kansas.” Jared heard the gruffness of the voice, the change in it and saw the change in Jensen. Okay, this was Dean.

“No game, just making sure you were paying attention. You kinda checked out there.” Dean nodded his head, seeming to buying into that explanation.

“When am I getting out of here? You know how much I hate hospitals. Almost as much as you.” Dean pushed back from the chair and stood looking at Jared. “Well, you gonna speak or just sit there looking pretty?”

Jared stood, not sure how to react to this outburst. But, since they were supposed to be brothers and he actually had one, he figured he’d act on it. “Asshat, you’re getting out of here tomorrow. Stop being such a little bitch about it.” He rested his hands on his hips, waiting for Dean’s reaction.

“Asshat, that the best you got?” Dean’s hands were clenched into fists. Jared waited and watched not knowing what Dean was capable of, what type of violence. Dean laughed and clasped Jared’s shoulder. “Sorry, I’m just a little jumpy. Going stir crazy here.”

Jared let out a breath, realizing he’d been holding it. “Yeah, I get it.” Jared ran his hand through his hair and gave a little nervous laugh. “Look, I gotta go, but I’ll be back tomorrow then we’ll clear out.” Jared watched as Dean seemed to relax, sitting back down in the chair and waiting for something to happen next. “Ah, okay I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Dull eyes looked back up at him. “Did I answer all your questions, Jared?” Jared gave him a smile before answering him, realizing the Jensen was present. “Yeah, Jensen. We got to know each other a little today. So, I’ll see you tomorrow. Get some rest.” Jared watched as Jensen took in his words.

“You’re, you’re coming back to see me tomorrow?” Jensen looked shocked at that. Jared smiled and walked to the door to let himself out. He heard a small voice whisper, goodbye as the door closed behind him.

Jared looked up, seeing an orderly at the end of the hall near the nurse’s station. He approached, asking to speak with Doctor Messina. The orderly walked him back to the doctor’s office, leaving him to wait outside. A few minutes later, the doctor ushered him inside. They sat, she behind her desk, he in front. “So, how did it go?”

He shrugged. “He seems to think I’m Sam. Told him I’d be back tomorrow. Seemed surprised by that.”

She nodded her head and then slid a folder across her desk to him. “As promised, his file.” Getting up she walked to the door. “I’ve got rounds to make. Read through it. I’ll be back in a while.” He heard the door close but reached for the folder, curiosity peeking his interested. He wondered what made Jensen Ackles tick, what made him this way. Jensen seemed to shut down at the mention of Texas. Maybe that was the key to this hole Jensen/Dean mystery. He sat back and made himself comfortable, wanting to read the file cover to cover undisturbed.

Flipping the folder open he noticed how thin it was. It wouldn’t take him long to read this and he worried about that. Surely, the man’s file should’ve been thicker than what he held in his hand. Jensen Ackles, male age thirty, originally from Texas. He had been found wandering the streets severely dehydrated and malnourished claiming to be searching for his brother and fighting the supernatural. He had become agitated when restrained. He was admitted to the local hospital for a period of observation lasting seventy-two hours and medical care. He seemed to respond to medical care and medication but once released a week later he’d possibly stopped taking his medication. He was highly intelligent, educated and capable of holding down a job. He’d been working a steady job as a mechanic when he had another episode. His family had been contacted but refused to visit or have further knowledge of him. They had requested that they be taken off as his emergency contact.

Jared raised his eyebrow at that and wondered what parent would turn their back on their child. He had to admit to himself he didn’t know all the circumstances behind their decision but he was thankful that his parents weren’t like that. Jensen seemed to be doing well until another episode and another observation period. He’d been at work when a customer had come in to have his car serviced. Jensen had been the only one in the garage at the time. He’d become agitated when the customer had cornered him, demanding his car be taken care of immediately. Jensen had slipped into his Dean persona and fought with the customer. Jensen had been arrested and taken in for another observation period. He’d opted to sign himself in for mental care and the customer, upon hearing this and the fact that everything had been caught on camera, declined to press charges. Jared made a mental note of the fact that Jensen had seemed to react when cornered and that family was a topic to avoid for now.

He read and reread the file through before finally putting it back on the desk and waited for the doctor’s return. He didn’t have to wait long for her to return to her office. She looked tired and sat down with a groan. “I take it you read the file? Are you still on board for this?” She looked at him, hoping he’d still say yes as she picked up the file and placed it in a desk drawer.

Jared sat back in his chair, thoughts swirling in his head. “Yes, but if I think I’m doing harm to him or I feel that I may be in danger I’ll pull the plug on this.” She sighed in relief and then extended him her hand. He stood to shake it as she told him it was a deal. She stood and walked him down to Human Resources so he could fill out the paperwork and be given his badge.

“I’ll meet you at my office at seven tomorrow morning.” She said and then left him to his paperwork. An hour later, Jared walked out into the crisp air, bringing his hand to his face wiping at his blurry eyes. He got into his car and drove to the apartment he shared with two friends from college, Chad and Tom.

He was met with laughter as he entered through the kitchen. He walked into the livingroom where the two were playing on the X-Box. Chad looked up. “Jay, man where have you been. Tried calling you.”

Jared dropped into the empty chair and grinned at them. “Job interview for the new position as caretaker for one of the patients, remember?”

Tom looked over at him. “Oh yeah, how’d it go?” Jared watched his two friends before answering.

“Got it, start tomorrow. I’m also gonna go pack. I need to be with the patient around the clock.”

He stood when they didn’t seem to be listening to him and retreated to his room. He grabbed a duffle bag and threw in several t-shirts, some button down shirts, jeans, sock, underwear and anything else he thought he might need. He set his alarm for six and then allowed himself to settle back on his bed. His eyes were stinging and his body was tired. He wanted to sleep but his thoughts kept going back to the green eyed man he’d met earlier that day. Jared hoped he wasn’t getting in over his head when he’d agreed to this but only time would tell, he reasoned. Getting up a few hours later he found his roommates still in their same positions. He loved them but he wasn’t going to miss the constant noise they made or the mess they left around the apartment that he always seemed to be picking up. “Jay, how long will you be gone, like what a week?” Chad asked without looking up from the game.

“Not sure, however long the patient needs around the clock care. You’ve got my cell number if you need me.” Jared reached over and snagged a slice of pizza from the open box on the coffee table.

“Dude, that’s our dinner.” Tom yelled and then smiled at Jared. At six feet four inches, muscular and broad shouldered not many people really argue with Jared and he knew Tom was only joking with him. Jared got up, clearing the empty pizza box after they had finished eating and did his laundry before going to bed.

At seven the next morning, Jared waited for Doctor Messina at her office. He watched her approach him with a smile. “Just give me a minute and then we’ll get Jensen.” She went into her office, dropped her briefcase, picked up a set of keys and returned to the hallway. “Ready?” She asked Jared with a smile.

“I hope so.” Jared said with a shrug as he followed her to Jensen’s room.

“I had one of the orderlies box up Jensen’s collection of books on the supernatural and move them to the cabin. It should make the transition easier. He was agitated when he woke this morning, saw them gone and that he was still in his room. I instructed the nurse to give him a very mild sedative to help him calm down." They found the door open and Jensen sitting on his bed next to two packed duffle bags.

Jensen looked at Jared like he’d never seen him before. He took his time meeting their eyes and appeared to be lethargic. Jared sighed at the sight before him, not really believing that Jensen had been given a very mild sedative. Seeing Jensen the way he was the doctor excused herself to look over the notes and speak to the nurse. Jared stood in the doorway before taking a step back and knocking on the doorframe. “Jensen, I’m Jared, do you remember me from yesterday?”

Jensen lazily lifted his head to look at Jared and gave him a lopsided smile. “Jared?” His brows scrunched together as he tried to find the memory.

“Do you mind if I come in and sit with you.?” Jensen raised his hand slightly and motioned for Jared to come in. Grabbing the empty chair, Jared dragged it over to the bed and sat.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Jensen tried to move his head to look at Jared, to answer him but couldn’t, the drug’s effect knocking Jensen on his ass. Jared passed the time with idle one-sided chatter with Jensen, telling him how they would be moving to the cabin to live as roommates. Jensen tried to focus on the words, the ones he did remember were caretaker, moving and cabin. Jared had been hired to be his caretaker and they were moving into a cabin. He laughed at that because how could he move in with Jared when he lived in a mental health facility? Didn’t Jared know that? Maybe Jared was crazy or maybe this was a dream. He closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of Jared’s voice. He liked the sound of the man’s voice, it was nice, soothing and warm.

Doctor Messina reappeared with two orderlies behind her. “There was a mix up with the dosage. I’ve had to suspend the nurse, which leaves this floor short-handed. I’ve got someone coming to fill in but I’m not able to go with you to the cabin. Mike and Dave will help you get Jensen there and settled. They have a wheelchair in the hall to transfer Jensen to and then they can show you the way.” Messina said as she handed over the keys for the cabin to Jared. She turned to Jensen and crouched down to him. “Jensen, we need to get you into the wheelchair so you can move to the cabin.” Jensen blinked at her. “Jared’s going to be staying with you and you’ll be in good hands. I’ll see you for our regular sessions.” She stood up and stepped back letting the orderlies transfer Jensen from the bed to the wheelchair. As they left Jensen’s room the doctor wished Jared good luck, handed him a folder regarding Jensen’s therapy schedule before disappearing down the hall in the opposite direction of the elevators.

Jared, Jensen and the orderlies took the elevator to the ground floor and took a right which led out to the hospital grounds. The lawn was well manicured, lush and green. Trees, bushes and flowers were planted through the grounds, giving it an inviting look. They followed a path lined with stone pavers, past a small rose garden with a gazebo which ended a few feet from the cabin. The way the cabin was situated on the grounds so that no one would have known it was there unless they had been looking for it. The cabin gave off a feeling of being in the woods, not on the grounds of Rolling Hills Hospital. The orderlies helped get Jensen into a bedroom and settled, letting him sleep off the medication. They walked Jared through the two-bedroom cabin, showing him his room which was the same size as Jensen’s, each having their own small ensuite.

Life In The Cabin

The cabin’s floor plan also consisted of a living room which was open to the kitchen. There was another full bathroom off of the living room with a stackable washer and dryer for their use. The kitchen had been fully stocked with food, dishes, silverware along with a refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. The kitchen area had a breakfast bar with stools, a farmhouse style kitchen table and chairs. The living room had a couch, love seat, coffee table and two end tables. There was an entertainment cabinet against the wall opposite the couch with a flat screen TV, DVD player and a ton of movies. There was one phone located in the kitchen which automatically connected to the front desk in the main building Dave explained before taking the wheelchair and leaving. Jared looked in on Jensen, who was still asleep and noticed both bedrooms had the same setup. Each had a full sized bed, nightstand with a lamp and a dresser. He left the door slightly open and retreated to the living room to wait for Jensen to awaken.

Twenty minutes later, Jared heard movement from Jensen’s room. He watched as Jensen stumbled out, taking in his surroundings. He rubbed a hand through his hair and yawned. Jared waited to see how he'd react. “Hey, Sam you eat yet?” This was Dean, not Jensen. Dean looked at him, waiting for a response.

“Uh, no. I was waiting for you.” Jared looked at Dean, he was tall only a few inches shorter than himself with bowed legs. He was broad shouldered and muscular as well with bright green eyes, framed by long lashes, pale skin and freckles.

“So, Sammy, have you had a chance to go over the lore?” Dean asked, staring at Jared.

Jared stood up from the couch unsure of what to do or say. “Lore?” Jared asked in a whispered voice.

Dean glared at him. “Come on, Sam. You said you'd take care of it while I went to lay down. If you didn't want to do it all ya had to do was say so. Now we've wasted time. I would've skipped the nap and done the research myself.” Dean walked into the kitchen muttering under his breath as he pulled out the ingredients to make sandwiches. Dean looked at Jared. “Did you restock the fridge? Better than nothing, I suppose.” He rummaged in the fridge before turning back to Jared. “Where's the pie? I asked you to get me some pie if you went out.”

Jared stood staring at Dean, watching him make them sandwiches before putting everything away. “Pie. Right, I didn't think you really wanted it. Sorry, next time I'll get it for you.”

Dean huffed at him. “Didn't think I really wanted pie! It's like you don't even know me.” Dean placed the food on the table and sat, eating in silence. He pushed a plate toward Jared. “You gonna eat or just stand there looking at me? What's gotten into you? You're acting strange.”

Jared shrugged and sat down pulling the plate closer to himself. “Sorry, just tired.” Dean eyed him suspiciously but kept silent. Pushing his plate away,

Dean broke the silence. “Look, I know you’re mad at me. But I’m your older brother, it’s my job to protect you. If I hadn’t come in and staked that vamp, you wouldn’t be sitting here eating that sandwich and don’t pout, you’re not a girl.” Getting up, Dean took his empty plate to the sink and washed it, leaving it in the strainer to dry. “Where’d you put the books?”

Jared raised his head. Books? What books? Right, Jensen or rather Dean’s books on the supernatural. “Uh, I think they got put in your room.” God, I hope they got put in your room, if not I’m screwed Jared thought to himself. Dean disappeared into the bedroom only to reappear moments later with a heavy looking box. He set it down on the table and began to pull each one out, running his fingers over them, lovingly. “Remember when Bobby gave you this book? I think it was a birthday present. Might have been your tenth birthday. You read it cover to cover in less than a week. Kept quoting it in school. You freaked the teachers out, kinda creeped a few of the kids out, too. I think they called Dad, worried you were some kinda satanist in the making.” Dean snorted at the memory and handed the book to Jared.

Jared read the the title Exorcism, At A Glance. He chuckled at it, because really weren’t exorcism involved and intense? “Yeah, it was my tenth birthday. I couldn’t put it down.” Jared answered, figuring playing along was what he was here for. He watched as Dean pulled another book out from the box. It looked like it was antique, worn leather and yellowing pages.

“We took this off a witch after we ended her. Freaking witches, hate them. But, her grimoire has come in handy. You've actually gotten pretty good at casting a few of the spells in this. Just glad you're on my side” Dean said as he put the black leather bound book on the table. He flipped it open and started searching through it. “There's got to be a summoning spell in here that can help us.” Dean muttered to himself.

With hearing that, Jared looked up, eyeing Dean with apprehension. Summoning Spell? Oh, hell no! “What? Wait, what are you trying to summon?” Jared swallowed, trying to get his dry throat working. “Is that a good idea? I mean, you don’t know what we’re playing with.” Jared ran his hand through his hair, feeling his nerves starting to fray already.

Dean looked at him as if he’d just said something stupid, because apparently to Dean he had. “What’s wrong with you Sam? We always take precautions, you know that.” Dean said as he rolled his eyes. “Besides, it’s you who’ll most likely do the summoning. You’re better at it.” Dean said this so matter of factly that Jared shuddered. “Anyway, we need to summon Crowley, that slimy son of a bitch. I hate having to deal with him but he’s the one we need. He knows how to get the information we need on Lucifer. We’ll just set a Devil’s Trap and he won’t be able to get out unless we let him out.”

“Crowley?” Jared croaked out. Was he supposed to know who Crowley was? “Lucifer? As in the fallen angel? The devil himself? Why would we want to know information on Lucifer?” Jared’s mouthed dried out as he said the words.

“Did you hit your head, Sam? Stop screwing around. This is important. We need to get the drop on Lucifer. Ever since he got sprung from the cage, he’s been MIA. He’s still intent on making you his vessel. The meat suit he’s wearing isn’t going to last forever.” Dean looked at Jared, frustration showing on his face. Jared stared at him, mouth slightly open. He closed his mouth only to open it again, giving the impression of a fish out of water searching for air.

Jared finally closed his mouth long enough to form a coherent thought. “Wait, what? I'm Lucifer’s vessel?” Jared felt his knees wanting to buckle but fought against it.

“Sam, what's with you? You're Lucifer’s perfect vessel, just like I'm Michael’s vessel.” Jared closed his eyes and rubbed the back of his head.

“Right, the Archangel Michael and Lucifer, locked in their eternal fight with each other. Now, Lucifer is somehow free and possibly still trying to get me to say yes.” Jared groaned inwardly to himself, thinking he was so screwed at this moment.

The first week together had been the hardest. More for Jared as he tried to figure out what Dean was referring to half the time. He found himself researching the supernatural more and more when Dean brought up witches, vampires, demons and Lucifer. Dean would bring up one of their hunts and Jared would sit, listening intently to the story and secretly taking notes should he need to refer back to the hunt. He was amazed at the level of detail Dean provided when reminiscing about a hunt. So far, his favorite was the one where Dean had been abducted by fairies. He sat listening as Dean had told him how he'd microwaved a female fairy who had attacked him. This had him laughing, imagining something so small hitting Dean. At first Dean hadn't been amused with Jared’s laughter but ended up laughing himself seeing the humor in his tale.

When it was time for Jensen’s weekly therapy appointment with Doctor Messina, Jared was able to lure him, or rather Dean out and up to the main building be telling him they were on a case. There was something preying on the patients and they needed to figure out who or what it was. Each week Dean had a different theory as to what was possibly after the patients. One week he tossed out the idea of a shapeshifter, a monster which was able to transform itself to look like another person. Dean wore a silver ring on his right hand and made sure to shake everyone’s hand since it was a weakness for the monster. No one reacted to touching the ring, one monster was ruled out. That had also ruled out it being a wraith or werewolf as well since silver is one of their weakness’ as well.

They had searched the building for any trace that a ghost was haunting the hospital. They found nothing tying a ghost to the grounds. They looked into demon possession with Dean reciting the words for an exorcism during group therapy. No one even flinched to Dean’s surprise and irritation. Jared actually enjoyed spending time with Dean and learning about the different supernatural creatures. But, as much as he liked Dean and got along with him, he found himself enjoying Jensen’s company more when he was present. Their time was brief but friendly. They would sit and watch a movie as if they were friends, which Jared decided had they met under different circumstances they could have been.

A month into Jared’s new job as Jensen’s caretaker, his cell phone rang late one night. Rolling over in bed he grabbed it, cracked an eye open to see who was calling. “Chad? What time is it?” Jared croaked out.

“Don’t know, late or maybe earlier, depending on how you look at it Jay. Man we miss you, when are you coming home?” Chad whined at him from the other end of the line.

“You drunk Chad? You only ever call me when you need a ride or you’re drunk.” Jared laughed into the phone.

“Hmm, don’t need a ride, so I must be drunk. But, doesn’t change the fact that you dropped off the face of the earth a month ago.” Chad’s whining rose, grating on Jared’s nerves.

“Come on man, there’s some sweet looking chicks here. Told ‘em about you.” Jared cut him off.

“Chad, did you forget that I’m gay? As in chicks don’t do it for me.” Jared huffed out at him. “So, what do you really want Chad?” Jared said, irritation bleeding into his voice.

“Fine, just miss you is all. Want you to spend some time with me and Tom. Can you come home for the weekend?” Chad asked, his voice pleading.

Jared sighed. “Look, I’ll see what I can do, maybe I can get away for a few hours. I’ll speak to the doctor and give you a call back, in the morning when normal people call each other.” With that, Jared hung up, tossed the phone down next to himself on the bed and fell back to sleep.

When he finally woke up to the chirping of his alarm at seven in the morning, he dragged himself from the bed with a groan. Jared cursed Chad for calling and waking him up. It had taken him awhile to get comfortable since his feet hung off the bed. He found Jensen stumbling from his own room in search of coffee, at least he thought it was Jensen. Jensen had a quiet way about him in the morning, where Dean tended to be louder, grumpier about being awake. Thankfully, Jensen had thought to set the automatic coffee maker on the counter the night before for when they woke up. After they both had their coffee, Jared told Jensen he needed to make a call to Doctor Messina. “Is everything okay Jared? Did I do something?” Jensen asked afraid to make eye contact.

“No, just one of my friends called, asked if I could come home for the weekend.” Jared rubbed his forehead, afraid of Jensen’s reaction. “I told him I’d see if I could get away for a few hours.” Jared watched as Jensen shook his head.

“Okay, I’m gonna go take a shower.” Jensen said as he stood up from the table.

“Hey, Jensen if I go, I’ll be coming back. You don’t have to worry about that.” Jared said, trying to reassure Jensen that he wouldn’t be left alone. Jensen shook his head and walked to his bedroom. Jared turned and grabbed the phone, waiting for the call to be picked up.

When the phone was answered, Jared identified himself and asked to speak to Doctor Messina. When the line was transferred to her office and she picked up, Jared explained the reason for calling. He heard the uncertainty in her voice as she spoke to him but liked hearing how the interaction went between him and Jensen this morning. “I was thinking, maybe we could introduce Jensen to one the orderlies, if Dean surfaces we can tell him it’s one of our hunter buddies come for a visit. Then, Dean can hang out with him and talk about hunts they’ve been on. I can leave for a few hours. It’s not like I’ve had a day off.” Jared pointed out, waiting for Doctor Messina to answer his request.

“Okay, that sounds reasonable. I know you’ve gone above and beyond what I originally asked of you, what this job was supposed to be. I do think we’re making progress with Jensen and that’s because of your dedication to him. You’ve been the constant he’s needed.” Jared let out a sigh of relief at hearing her words.

Jared’s Time Away

That Saturday, Alex knocked on the cabin door. Before Jared could get to the door, Jensen was up and opening it. He swung the door open and looked at the man standing on the porch. “Caleb, how’ve you been? Come on in. Sam, Caleb’s here, what’s it been five years since we’ve seen you?” Dean stepped aside, letting the man enter. Jared stepped forward, reaching out to shake the man’s hand. “Caleb, how you been?”

Alex looked uncomfortable at first but began to settle into his role as Caleb. “Good, man really good. I heard you were around these parts and figured I’d look you up. Hope you don’t mind.” Jared looked at Dean, hoping this would go well.

“No, course not. It’s great to see you, right Dean? How long you in town?” Dean shook his head in response to the question.

“A couple hours, maybe the night. Figured I’d see how you two liked me turning up on your doorstep before I made any real plans.” Dean walked into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of drinks, tossing one to Alex.

“Hey Sam, you mind going out and grabbing some more drinks? That way Caleb can kick back and relax and we can talk over some of our old cases. Maybe he can even help with the one we’re working now. I’m gonna go get my notes.” Dean said as he walked back to his room. Jared took that time to quickly go over a few things with Alex, making sure he had Jared’s cell number.

“Call me first if anything happens, if he gets agitated while I’m gone. Put him on the phone with me. I’ll only be gone a few hours.” Alex smiled at him.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Doctor Messina explained what’s going on. You’ve been with him around the clock. Take the time you need.” Jared walked over to the table and grabbed his keys. “Hey Dean, I’m heading out, gonna pick up some drinks.” He heard a muffled reply coming from the bedroom and left, hoping the few hours he’d be away didn’t result in Dean having an issue with Alex.

Even though he had a key to his own apartment, Jared knocked on the door waiting for Chad to answer it. He watched as the door swung open and Chad stood looking at him, dumbfounded. “Dude! You’re home.” Chad reached out and grabbed Jared by the shoulder, dragging him into the apartment.

“I’m here for a few hours. They got me coverage for a few hours, so what do you want to do?” Jared said, his smile growing into a grin at his friend’s reaction.

“Tom, get your ass out here. There’s someone very special out here. You’re never gonna believe who it is.” Chad yelled over his shoulder.

“What the fu- Jared!” Tom yelled at him like Jared hadn’t a clue who he was. “Yeah, it’s me, the one and only Jared Padalecki.” He smiled, dimples showing in his happiness to be home for a little while.

“He can only spare us a few hours, so tonight’s party is off the table.” Chad pouted at him as he spoke.

“Get over it or I’ll just leave.” Jared laughed, knowing he wasn’t about to leave right now. Tom grabbed the phone and ordered a few pizzas, making sure he ordered Jared’s favorite, the veggie lover’s.

“Come on, we got a few new movies and a new game for the X-Box. We can hang out at least until you have to go back.” Tom said as he settled on the couch. Chad took his normal seat next to him and Jared sat in the chair he used to occupy on nights like this. The hours passed by as they laughed and Chad and Tom filled him in on what he’d missed the past month. The pizza boxes were empty, Jared had kicked their asses on the new game, much to Chad’s annoyance and Tom’s delight because that meant Chad couldn’t gloat. They managed to watch at least one movie before Jared stood up to stretch. He checked his phone, no messages from the hospital or from Alex himself. He was relieved but ready to get back home and to Jensen. He smiled at that thought since he was standing in his apartment but thought of the cabin as home. A home he shared with Jensen. “Guys, I’ve got to get going.”

Chad looked at him. “No, you just got here. Come on, stay. Screw what’s his name and just stay. You can find another job. We miss you.” Tom looked at the two of them, but kept quiet. “Look, Jensen needs me. He needs someone who gets him.”

Chad stood up, tossing aside the pizza box in front of him. “So why’s that gotta be you? It’s not your responsibility to fix this guy. He’s not right in the head. Let the hospital take care of him. He’s not some stray.” Jared shook his head, realizing that his friend didn’t understand that it was more than a job for him. He considered Jensen his friend.

“Look, he really has no one and he’s been making progress. I’m not going to toss that away. Chad, don’t you understand, this is what I chose to do with my life, help people. Help them heal. That’s what I’m helping him with. There’s more to life than partying, X-Box and hanging out. I’m sorry if you don’t get that.”

Tom stood and walked over to Jared, hugged him and then clasped him on the back. “Does this make you happy? Helping him to heal?” Jared nodded. “Then good luck man. We’re here when you can get time off to hang out.” Tom looked at Chad and gave him a pointed look.

Chad looked down at his feet before answering. “Yeah. Sorry. I know this means a lot to you.”

Jared smiled at his friends. “Hey, thanks for today. It was really great to hang out.” Jared hugged them both before leaving and making his way back to the hospital and then to the cabin.

He walked in to find Alex stretched out on the couch, the TV on and the volume low. He stood as Jared entered. “Hey, you didn’t have to come back tonight. I was prepared to stay.”

Jared rubbed the back of his head. “No, it’s good. How’d it go? Where’s Dean?” Jared asked.

Alex indicated to the bedroom with a jab of his head. “Bedroom, he decided he was tired and went to bed about an hour ago. It went well, I think. He didn’t get violent, just stayed relaxed. We talked about past hunts. He’s actually a pretty funny guy at times and has a great imagination as far as the stories he told me.” Alex said as he started picking up his glass and bag of chips he’d been eating. “We had a pretty good time. So, if you ever need to take a few hours off, I wouldn’t mind filling in.” He carried the stuff into the kitchen and tossed the empty bag out and washed his glass.

“Thanks, Alex that’s good to know.” Jared extended his hand to shake Alex’s. “Have a great rest of the night.” Alex called out as he left. Jared locked up the cabin, making sure everything had been cleaned up, put away and ready for tomorrow. He stopped in front of Jensen’s bedroom to check on him and found him asleep. Satisfied with that he made his way to his room to wash up and change before turning in for the night.


Dean Gives Some Insight

“Jared. Your name’s Jared Padalecki, not Sam Winchester.”

Dean stood in front of him, arms crossed in front of has chest, feet apart as if waiting to move into action. Waiting for Jared to do something, anything, possibly attack him. What Dean thought he might do, Jared wasn’t sure. Jared was rooted to the couch he’d been sitting on, writing his weekly report on Jensen’s progress. He hadn’t been aware of Dean’s presence until he spoke. Jared looked at his watch, only thirty minutes had passed since Jensen had been present, talking to Jared before he’d decided to lay down in his room to read a book. Jared closed his laptop, setting it down on the coffee table before doing anything else.

“I know you're not my brother. I know I'm not real. Jensen made me up. He needed a way to cope with things. He's sick, but he wants to get better. He was hurt, no one helped him. He's not lying when he says there are demons in the world. Just not the kind you all think there are, not necessarily the kind of demons you’re thinking of. But, he likes you. You're nice to him and seem to care about him. He needs that, never really had that before.” Dean said quietly, almost as if to himself. “But, if you hurt him, you'll have to deal with me. And I will end you.” The words were spoken with such authority behind them and it had Jared staring in disbelief. Something told him Dean wasn’t kidding around.

“Will you tell me what happened? What happened to him? I can't help him if he or you won't tell me anything.” The words Jared spoke came out more like a plea than the request he'd intended it to be.

Dean shook his head. “No. Can't, not my story to tell, at least not yet. Not unless he needs me to. Give him some time. He wants to tell you. He’s just afraid. Afraid of how you’ll react, how you’ll treat him afterwards.”

“It was bad, wasn’t it.” It really wasn’t a question coming from Jared but a statement regarding Jensen’s possible trauma. One he hoped to help Jensen deal with. “Jensen doesn’t need to be afraid. I just want to help him, so does Doctor Messina. We both want to help him heal.”

“Yeah, well that’s on his terms, if and when he tells you. All I can tell you is it’s a mess up here.” Dean said as he tapped his forehead. “He wants to be here. But, then he needs me to be here. Then everything gets mixed up and confusing for us both.” Dean went quiet, like he was searching for words he couldn’t quite find. He turned and went into the kitchen. A moment later Jared heard Dean yelling.

“What the hell Sam, where’s the pie? I thought you were going to get me some pie when you went to pick up the stuff for the spell.” Dean looked around the kitchen and then strode toward Jared. “Where’s the Yarrow Root, Devil Pod, Ginger Root and the Arabic Gum?”

Jared cringed at the look on Dean’s face. He was definitely giving the ‘my brother’s an idiot’ look. “I forgot the list.” Jared said sheepishly to Dean.

Dean closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead with his left hand. He shook his head and let out an exasperated sigh before looking at Jared. “You forgot the list. Well, I hope you’re happy, there’s no way we can do the spell without those herbs for protection.” Dean said as he threw his hands up in the air and stalked off to his bedroom. “Well that’s just great. Un-freaking-believable.” Dean called over his shoulder before slamming his bedroom door closed. Jared watched as Dean disappeared in anger. Shaking his head, there’s no way he was going to get used to this he thought to himself.

Jared And Jensen

Jared lay on his bed reading a murder-mystery book he’d picked up from the common room earlier that day. He looked at the clock, eleven p.m. Jensen had been asleep for an hour. He’d had been out of sorts today, even when Dean was there. Dean had been quiet, refusing to talk. He just kept giving him looks. He wasn’t sure what it was about and when he’d approached Dean as Sam, Dean bristled at him and went into his bedroom, shutting the door and effectively keeping him away from Dean or Jensen. Jared heard a sound and tossed the book aside, sitting up to listen. At first it sounded like a child crying out, knowing there weren’t any children at the facility, he stood up and crossed to his open door. The sound came again and he realized it was coming from Jensen’s room. Jared clicked on the hall light and walked the few feet to Jensen’s room and peered in. Jensen was crying in his sleep, his body thrashing against the covers limbs getting twisted in them. “No, please don’t. I don’t want this please . . .” The words poured from Jensen’s lips and it cut through Jared’s heart to hear them.

Jared walked into Jensen’s room and softly called out to the man as he placed a hand on Jensen’s arm trying to stop his thrashing. “Jensen, it’s Jared. You’re having a nightmare. You’re safe, I’m right here with you. I won’t let anything happen to you or anyone hurt you.” He waited, and watched as Jensen’s thrashing stopped and his body twitched. “Jensen, can you hear me? It’s Jared, I’m going to sit on the bed next to you.” He waited to see if Jensen would thrash out at him. When he didn’t, Jared sat down, hand still on Jensen’s shoulder. He continued speaking softly to Jensen until his green eyes opened, looked at him with fear. Jensen flinched and Jared pulled his arm back, letting it drop into his lap. He gave Jensen a smile, trying to calm him.

“You were having a nightmare. Didn’t want you to hurt yourself, you were thrashing around.” Jared said, concerned for Jensen’s wellbeing.

Jensen nodded, looking around and taking in his surroundings. “Did I hurt you?” Jensen’s voice was weak, barely above a whisper.

“No, I need to make sure you’re ok. Do you know where you are, what your name is and who I am?” Jared sat back, waiting for Jensen to answer.

“My name is Jensen. You’re Jared my friend and caretaker and I’m here in the cabin at Rolling Hills Hospital.” Jared exhaled, happy that Jensen was lucid.

“Do you need me to give you medication to help you stay calm?” Jared prayed Jensen said no, he really didn’t want to medicate the man when he was lucid.

“No.” Jensen said in a small voice and looked fearfully at Jared.

“Good, I really didn’t want to. Do you want to tell me about the nightmare? You don’t have to but it might help. You’ve been bottling so much up. I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me. I won’t judge you. I just want to help you.” Jensen moved away from Jared, needing to put some distance between them. He pulled the blanket up to his chest and his fingers played with the fabric. Jensen nodded, not meeting Jared’s eyes, he took in a deep breath before speaking.

“Twelve years ago, I was home from college over spring break. My brother, Josh and his friend Matt were home. My parents and sister were gone overnight for my sister’s dance competition. It was in the afternoon and I was in my room. They had been out at the pool with a few of their other friends over for a party, cookout and drinking. I heard a fight and went out to see what was going on. Matt and this girl were going at it. She threw a beer in his face and stormed off. He acted like it wasn’t a big deal and went back to partying so I went back inside. That night, my door was opened and I thought it was Josh. I had been asleep, thought it was only me and Josh at home. Matt came in and closed the door, got into my bed. I asked him what he was doing. He hit me and told me to shut up. I tried to fight him but he was a lot bigger than I was and I a lot smaller back then. He forced me onto my stomach and he was laughing.” Jensen’s breath hitched, making Jared look up at him. Jared saw the tears flowing and wanted to reach over and wipe them away. He fought the urge, knowing this would most likely cause Jensen to shut down. He clenched his hands into fists, wanting to hit something. His stomach rolled, knowing where this confession was most likely going.

“He took his belt off and grabbed my hands, forced them over my head and tied me to my own bed. I tried to yell for Josh. Matt hit me again, told me to shut up and then he shoved something into my mouth. Said if I couldn’t keep quiet, he’d make me. He told me Josh knew he was in my room. Josh had told him I had a crush on him and since Cindy had dumped him earlier, he could take his frustrations out on me. Josh was the only one I had come out to, my parents would never have approved. Josh knew about my crush, but I never did anything about it.” Jensen’s breath was becoming erratic as he spoke. Without realizing it, Jared reached out and placed his left hand on Jensen’s. Jensen flinched but didn’t pull away. “He pulled my sleep pants off. He was brutal, it hurt so much. I was crying and begging him to stop through the gag. He leaned down and whispered in my ear and I could smell the alcohol on him. He said he knew I wanted it, knew I was a whore for it, just to be used. I blacked out from the pain. When I came to, he was still there, in my bed. I tried to get up but I was still tied to my bed. He laughed, told me how tight I was, how I moaned for him. He forced himself into me two more times before he was finally done, then he finally untied me and left my room.” Jensen wiped at his eyes, brushing away the tears with his free hand.

“I never even had a boyfriend. That was my first time. Josh came in my room around ten that morning, found me. I had never moved, to tired and I was in to much pain to move. I hurt everywhere. Josh asked if I had cut myself because there was blood. I told him what Matt did to me. He called me a liar. He threw my pants at me and told me to clean myself up and left. I managed to make it to my bathroom and showered, got dressed and left. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I finally went to a clinic in another town where no one knew me to get looked at. The doctor knew what she was looking at, told me what she suspected happened to me. But she couldn’t do anything unless I said it out loud. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t say the words. She looked so disappointed at me but didn’t push me. I drove home in a blur to find my stuff packed and in the driveway. Josh had called our parents. Told them he found me having sex with a random guy, that I was gay and brought that sin into the house. My father hit me, told me I was a disgusting abomination that God wouldn’t even love. He told me to get off his property, never come back, I was no longer his son.” Jensen rubbed his eyes before closing them and leaning back against the headboard. Jared wasn’t sure if he was finished talking, he waited and gave Jensen’s had a reassuring squeeze.

“Everything was taken from me in one day. I had no family, no money, no place to live. My father even canceled the payment for my classes. I couldn’t even finish college. A friend took pity on me and let me stay with him for about a month but he had a girlfriend who was over all the time. I wasn’t paying rent and it felt awkward so I left. I moved from place to place until I ended up here.” Jensen dissolved into tears, sobs racking his body as he cried. Jared climbed onto the bed next to him and gently placed an arm around Jensen’s shoulder. He waited for any reaction from Jensen before pulling the man close to him. Jared stroked the back of Jensen’s head, hoping the man would find it soothing. He felt tears sliding down his own face as he held Jensen. Silently he cried for the man, so broken in his arms. Jared moved to wipe his tears away before Jensen noticed. He didn’t want to upset him anymore than Jensen already was. As Jensen’s sobs subsided Jared finally spoke.

“I’m so sorry this happened to you. No one should ever have to experience that. What they did was so wrong, on so many levels. I need you to understand and acknowledge that in no way was any of this your fault.” He felt Jensen shake his head in response, for now, that was good enough. They stayed like that for the rest of the night, Jared offering comfort to Jensen when he needed it.

It had been a sleepless night for both and they felt the effects in the morning. Jared watched as Jensen climbed out of his bed and disappeared behind the bathroom door. He heard the shower running and got up to make them coffee. He came back to check on Jensen, knocking on the door to make sure he was okay before he went to take a shower. Jensen’s muffled voice called out, letting him know he was okay and would be out soon. Satisfied with that answer, Jared slipped into his room to shower and dress for the day. Jared heard movement in the kitchen and followed the sound seeing what was happening with Jensen. Jensen stood at the counter, pouring two cups of coffee. He turned and placed Jared’s on the table before backing away. He wouldn’t look at Jared, eyes searching for an unthreatening spot to rest on. He heard Jared pull out one of the chairs and sit. “Jensen, please sit with me.” Jensen shuffled on his feet as if trying to decide between bolting from the room or staying. He settled on the later, pulling out the other chair and sitting, still not looking at Jared. Jared reached out to him, but stopped resting his hand on the table when he saw Jensen flinch. “Jensen, I’m not going to hurt you, please believe that. What you shared with me took a lot of courage. Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me that. This was not your fault. You were betrayed by a loved one. You were raped by someone you knew. You’re coping the only way your mind knew how. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. I’m here to listen when and if you want to talk.”

Jensen finally raised his eyes to meet Jared’s, lips quivering as tears threatened to spill from his eyes. Jensen reached out and rested his hand next to Jared’s. He inched his hand closer, allowing it to rest against Jared’s pinky finger. They sat in silence for a while before Jensen finally asked what would happen next. Jared explained that Doctor Messina needed to be informed and then they would figure out the correct treatment to help Jensen deal with what happened to him, how to cope and overcome it. “But, how do I just get it to be me and not Dean?” Jensen bit his lower lip, chewing on it trying to stay calm.

“As you begin to heal, Dean should surface less and less to a point where he’s no longer needed. Your mind created Dean as a way to cope with everything that happened to you in such a short time span.” Jared said, trying to explain the answer without upsetting Jensen.

“So, I couldn’t protect myself and Dean could?” Jensen pulled his hand back, placing it in his lap.

“Yes, that’s what you needed at the time.” Jared watched Jensen as he shifted in his chair. “I think your mind created Dean, the older brother, the protector because you needed that and didn’t have it. Your mind probably created Sam, the younger brother, the one needing protection because that’s what should have happened for you. It’s hard to say, we don’t fully understand the way the brain works. Even after all these years.”

Jensen looked up at Jared, with an intensity showing in his eyes. “So, basically you don’t know jack shit and now you’re giving him a line of bullshut? Hoping he’ll lay down and take it. I told you not to hurt him.” Dean pushed back from the table and stood, eyes narrow slits looking at Jared.

“Dean, I’m not trying to hurt him. I’m telling him what I know and what I think. I’m answering his questions. He’s scared but he has to deal with that fear. I’ll be right here with him, every step of the way.” Jared stood, arms crossed over his chest waiting to see what Dean would do. Dean slammed his hands down on the table, causing the mugs to rattle on the table and walked away. Jared winced when he heard the bedroom door slam shut.

Two hours later, a calmer Dean emerged from the bedroom. “Hey Sam, did you find anything in the research about that coven of witches?” The rest of their day consisted of Jared pulling out his laptop to do online research while Dean pulled out several books on supernatural lore to read through.

Dean surfaced less and less over time. But, every once in awhile Jared could swear that he saw Dean staring back at him from behind Jensen’s eyes. But, just as quickly as he had that thought all traces of him were gone. As Jensen continued to make progress in healing, Jared was able to coax him off the grounds for a few hours a week, baby steps Jared had said. As they were out one day, Jared stopped at a gas station which also had an auto body shop attached to it. “Jensen, that might be perfect for you.” Jared said, pointing to the sign. Seeing the ‘Help Wanted - Part-Time’ sign in the window, he and Jensen walked in to inquire.

Jensen was nervous at first, standing behind Jared as the owner came out to greet them. “Hey, what can I do for you?”

Taking a deep breath, Jensen answered him. “I’m wondering about the sign, the part-time job.”

The man came out from behind he counter and extended his hand to Jensen. “I’m Jeff, most people call me JD.”

Jensen tentatively shook the man’s hand. “Jensen Ackles and this is Jared Padalecki.”

JD smiled at Jared before directing his gaze at Jensen. “So, do you have any experience as a mechanic? That’s what I’m looking for.” JD said as he leaned back against the counter.

Jensen shifted his gaze to the floor. “I do, but don’t have any references. I’m a hard worker. That’s what I can offer you.” He looked up, seeing the uncertainty on JD’s face, his fear got the better of him. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” Jensen turned and fled from the building, stopping when he reached the car. Getting in the car, he closed the door and tried to calm his breathing and stop the tears that were forming. He leaned forward, cradling his head in his hands, feeling his heart beating rapidly like it was trying to beat itself out of his chest.

Jared wanted to run after Jensen but stopped himself. He closed his eyes, bringing his left hand to his face, he pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Is the kid okay?” JD’s gravely voice broke through his thoughts.

Jared gave him a weak smile. “He’s trying. Look, he just needs someone to give him a break. I’m his caretaker, so I really can’t tell you anything except that he just wants a chance to prove himself.” JD turned his back on Jared and walked back around the counter. He bent down and pulled out a clipboard and pen and placed it on the counter.

“I’m not making any promises but have him fill this out and bring it back in. I’ll give him an interview if he’s still interested. He pushed the clipboard toward Jared who picked it up.

“Thanks.” Jared said before going out to speak to Jensen. He saw Jensen sitting the car, head in his hands, leaning forward as he walked to the car. He got in and put the clipboard in Jensen’s lap. Jensen jerked up looking at the clipboard on his lap.

“JD said to fill this out and then bring it in. He’ll give you an interview, no promises. Don’t worry, I didn’t say anything other than that I’m your caretaker.” Jensen looked at Jared and then at the clipboard, with shaking hands he picked it up and began to fill it out. Ten minutes later both he and Jared walked back into the shop. Jensen quietly placed the clipboard and pen on the counter and waited for JD to look at it.

Picking it up, JD scanned it, quirking an eyebrow when he saw the address Jensen had listed, Rolling Hills Hospital. JD muttered something to them before pulling open the door between the shop and gas station. “Steve, I’ve got someone interested in a job. I’m gonna interview him. Keep an eye on the place.” JD yelled to one of the two employees. “I’ve got two full-timers and two part-timers. I need someone part-time to pick up the slack in the shop. Steve and I work in the shop. Chris, the other full-timer works in the station but is filling in for me in the shop as well until I hire someone. Then there’s Mike and Jason, good kids who work part-time after school and on the weekends. Why don’t you come into my office and we’ll talk.” JD stopped and looked at Jensen, speaking to him and not Jared. “Are you comfortable with that or would you like Jared to sit in?”

Jensen looked at JD and then Jared before answering. “No, it’s okay I’m comfortable with it.” Jensen followed JD around the counter and into his office, leaving Jared to sit in one of the chairs that lined the window where they had seen the sign.

Twenty minutes later both Jensen and JD emerged from his office. JD shook Jensen’s hand and told him he’d see him on Tuesday. Jared followed Jensen back out to the car, as they got in he turned to Jensen. “I got the job. It’s two days a week for four hours. But, it’s mine. JD wants me here at eight in the morning when it’s his busiest time. If things go well, he might ask me to pick up an extra day.” Jensen’s smile broadened into a grin and Jared couldn’t help but grin back, pride filling in his chest for Jensen.

“Congratulations Jensen, I’m really proud of you.” Jared said as he clasped Jensen on the back.

When Tuesday rolled around, Jared woke at seven to find Jensen sitting on the couch. He was dressed for work and had made them breakfast. Jared stumbled into the living room, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Morning.” Jared mumbled as he went to grab a mug of coffee. He stopped and turned back to Jensen. “Shit! It’s today, let me get dressed. I’ll be right back.” Jared ran to his room and quickly dressed. “Why didn’t you get me up earlier?” Jared asked as he passed by Jensen again.

“It was early and I knew you were getting up at seven. I’ve been up for a while, too excited to sleep. Made breakfast.” Jensen motioned to the covered plate on the counter.

“Thanks.” Jared stood at the counter and devoured the meal, not really tasting it. “Did you already eat?” Jared eyed him.

“Yeah. Plus, I have a sandwich made and ready to go, just in case.” Jared watched as Jensen chewed on his bottom lip, a clear sign he was nervous.

“You’re going to be fine. I’ll stay these first two days to make sure things go smoothly, which they will.”

Jensen nodded but looked unsure. “I think I’m going to be sick.” Jensen said.

Jared placed a hand on his shoulder, helping to calm him. “No you’re not. You’re fine. You’ve got this, just breath.”

Jensen took several breaths, feeling himself relax a little more with each one. “Okay, let’s go before I decide to back out.” Jared laughed, shaking his head at the man before him. Jared grabbed his keys and led the way to the car.

The shop, aptly named JD’s was only a short fifteen minute ride from the hospital. They made it there with time to spare and sat in the car until JD showed up to open both the shop and gas station. Seeing them parked off to the side he waved to them and motioned for them to join him. “Morning, boys! How ya both doing?” Seeing the fear clearly on Jensen’s face, JD clapped him on the back. “You’re gonna do fine. We’re like family here.”

The door opened as Chris and Steve walked in. “Hey old man, how ya doing this fine morning?” Chris called out and then stopped from saying anything else when he noticed Jensen and Jared. He extended his hand to them and introduced himself and Steve. “So, welcome Jensen. Glad to have you here, that way I can go back to helping pretty ladies gas up their cars.” Chris said as he raised his brows up and down.

Steve punched his shoulder. “You wish, man. He thinks he’s a ladies man.” Steve said then leaned forward. “He’s so not!”

JD clapped his hands, getting everyone’s attention. “Okay children, get to work. Steve, why don’t you take Jensen out back and show him the shop? Get him started on that Toyota, the one that needs the oil change.” Steve walked away, followed by Jensen and Chris disappeared into the gas station leaving only Jared and JD. “He’s going to be okay. He’ll fit in with the boys and I meant what I said, we’re family here.” Jared smiled, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. “I don’t know why he’s at Rolling Hills, didn’t ask him. Never said anything to the rest of them. Like you said, he needs someone to give him a chance. We’re all a bunch of misfits here.”

Jared laughed as JD smiled. “I’ve got to stay today and tomorrow to make sure Jensen gets through his shifts without any issues. He doesn’t drive, I’ll drop him off and pick him up.” JD went about looking through some work orders as he listened to Jared.

“Well, you’re welcome to wait here for him.” He motioned to the chairs.

“No, I’ll just wait outside. I don’t want him to feel like I’m watching him. He knows where I am if he needs me.” JD nodded and went out back to check on Steve and Jensen as Jared left and walked over to his car. He made himself comfortable, pulled out a book he’d been reading and settled back to wait for Jensen’s shift to get over. By the end of his shift, Jensen was tired but happy. Jared was happy to see that JD was right, Jensen fit in with the guys and was accepted and treated like family and by extension so was Jared.

Saying Goodbye And Moving On

One morning Jared woke to a quiet cabin. He searched for Jensen after quickly dressing, knowing the only places Jensen could disappear to aside from his bedroom were the main building or the grounds. On instinct Jared veered off the path to the main building and came to a stop in the little garden Jensen had taken to visiting. Jensen stood looking at the garden, not having noticed that Jared was approaching him. “Jensen?”

Jensen shook his head from side to side and Jared’s heart skipped a beat. “No, Dean.” Jensen was having a backslide Jared’s mind screamed at him. Dean turned to him and smiled. “Just came to say goodbye. Guy’s in a place where he can handle most of the world on his own.” Dean said, tapping on his temple.

“Besides, he’s got you.” Jared started to stutter a response, but was stopped when Dean raised a hand at him. “Don’t try to deny it. If I can see it, so can he and probably everyone else around. He needed someone he could trust, rely on. He needed someone to accept him for who and what he is, cracked and broken but still alive. He needed someone to love who would love him back, unconditionally. All three of us know that’s you. He’s never had that before, parents always put so much pressure on him to be like Josh, their Golden Boy. If they only knew what their favorite son had done, probably wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. Just give him some time. He’s not there yet but he’ll get there. Trust me, he’s worth waiting for.”

To Jared’s amazement, Dean walked over, hugged him and leaned in to whisper in his ear. “Take good care of Jensen. Or, I’ll be back to make good on that promise I made a couple of months ago.” Letting go of Jared, Dean laughed and then was gone leaving a smiling Jensen standing in front of Jared.

“Jensen, are you ready to go to therapy?” Jared asked, trying to cover up his shock over what had just happened. Jensen’s green eyes sparkled in the sunlight and all Jared could do was smile when Jensen reached for his hand. While knowing this was inappropriate, Jared simply clasped Jensen’s hand as they walked to the main building for Jensen’s therapy session.

The hardest time for them was when Jared had taken a week off for vacation, leaving Jensen on his own at the facility. Jared had returned to Texas to visit his family and to tell them about Jensen in person. Even though he was still Jensen’s caretaker, he hoped for more when Jensen was ready. Jared knew he’d never ask Jensen to return to Texas, even just to meet his parents, never going near Jensen’s family. The situation had raised a few eyebrows but his family had accepted the news, happy that Jared was happy. On instinct, Jared had driven by Jensen’s family home. He’d done his research as to where the Ackles lived and what the family and Matt looked like. The mailbox still boasted the Ackles’ family name. Seeing that, Jared drove on, blood boiling from anger at seeing the sprawling lawn and expansive home. Knowing they had turned their backs on Jensen, leaving him with so many cracks that he had eventually broken.

Jared stopped at a local bar to have a beer and calm down. He nearly crushed the mug he was holding when he heard someone yelling. “Hey, Ackles, we gonna shoot pool or what?” Another voice yelled back. “Hold you’re freakin’ horses will ya Matt? I’ll be right there.” Jared placed the mug on the bar thinking this had to be divine intervention. He swiveled around on the stool searching for the men. Sure enough he found them, being the only two at the pool tables. Jared watched them, anger rising in him. He found himself rising from the stool to walk over and confront them. Then reason won out, knowing that was like trying to commit suicide, two against one weren’t winning odds. He backed off and left the bar, trying to will himself to calm down. He made his way out to the parking lot around back and was about to get into his car when Matt appeared.

Jared slammed the car door closed and strode over to Matt. Without a word, Jared’s fist connected with Matt’s nose and he delighted in the fact that he’d just broken the man’s nose. The next punch was to the man’s gut, bringing him to his knees. The third and final punch was to the man’s jaw, knocking him to the ground. Jared leaned over him, watching the man cowering, trying to protect himself from any further blows. “That was for Jensen, for what you did to him you piece of shit.” Jared stood, turning around to find Josh standing behind him with a stunned look on his face. Jared took another swing, connecting with the man’s jaw. Josh stumbled back, holding his jaw. Jared took a step forward, ready to take another swing, fists raised. He moved, turning so the two men were in front of him should they try to make a move on him. Jared’s lips curled into a sneer as he spoke to Josh. “I’m not sure which of you is worse, that piece of shit who raped Jensen or you, his own brother who offered him up like a toy to be played with and thrown away.” Jared watched as the two men cowered together as he backed away to his car. Getting in he drove off, leaving the two men looking after him as he pulled out of the parking lot to make the drive back to his parent’s home.

Two days later Jared was back at Rolling Hills, checking in with Doctor Messina on Jensen’s progress. “He’s done well. You calling to talk to him helped him to settle each night. There were no episodes of Dean showing up. Jensen was agitated upon waking up the first day or two without you here but he adjusted as well as can be expected. He went to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. Jensen said his boss asked him to pick up more days. Most days, he walked the path to the garden and stayed there reading, tending to it or stayed in the cabin unless he had therapy. He even came to movie night and stayed through the entire movie. He seems to be coping well and using the skills he’s been taught to handle stressors he comes across. I don’t see him needing to stay here long term with the progress he’s made. In fact, I think we might want to talk about transitioning Jensen to a group home and eventually to him living on his own.” Jared stood, listening to the doctor as she spoke. His heart beating faster at the thought of Jensen leaving. Leaving him. But, that was inevitable, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that the point of this, to get Jensen to a point where he could have a life, his own life?

Jared left the doctor’s office in search of Jensen. He found him sitting in the rose garden reading a book on catalytic converters. The sight brought a smile to Jared’s face as he stood and watched the man who had somehow come to be more than just a patient he was caring for. He wasn’t sure when that had happened, just knew it had. “Jensen.” Jared called out in a low voice, not wanting to scare Jensen.

Jensen’s head snapped up, eyes wide searching for the voice. He smiled and stood upon seeing Jared. “You’re back.” Jensen said as the smile turned into a grin. Jensen’s expression changed from one of happiness to concern when his eyes came to rest on Jared’s right hand.

“What happened?” Jared lifted his hand and looked at it, having forgotten about the white gauge wrapped around his knuckles and palm.

“It’s nothing.” Seeing that Jensen wasn’t going to let the matter rest, Jared gave a small sigh. “Come on, I’ll explain when we get back to the cabin.” They walked in silence back to the cabin, both lost in their own thoughts. After entering, Jared asked Jensen sit at the kitchen table and got them both something to drink. He felt Jensen’s eyes on him as he moved about the kitchen. He placed the drinks on the table and then sat across from Jensen. He watched as Jensen worried his bottom lip and ran his fingers over the rim of the glass Jared had placed in front of him.

“You may not like what I’m about to tell you. Just know I never planned for it to happen. While at my parents, I took a drive out to where you used to live.” Jared looked up, eyes locking onto Jensen’s which were filled with fright. “I just drove by, wanted to see where you used to live, see if your family still lived there. They do, nice place from the looks of it. I left, never stopped but I was so angry seeing the house and knowing they turned their backs on you, left you with nothing. I stopped at a bar for a beer, wanted to calm down before I drove back. Josh and Matt were there playing pool, I had no idea they were there.” Jared looked at Jensen when he heard Jensen’s sharp intake of breath and hoped like hell Dean wasn’t about to surface. “Jensen, you still with me?” Jared watched as the emotions of fear and anger passed over Jensen’s features. He winced knowing he was the cause of it. “Ye-yes.” Jensen answered as his voice broke. “Nothing happened at first. I actually left the bar without saying or doing anything. I was getting in my car when I saw Matt in the parking lot. The next thing I knew, I threw a punch at him and broke his nose, had him down on the ground. I also clocked your brother pretty good, too. Told them both it was for you.”

Jared looked at Jensen, seeing him crying and his heart broke at the sight. He was the cause of Jensen’s pain, he had done this. Jared pushed himself away from the table, wanting to comfort Jensen but to afraid to touch him. “I’m gonna go pack my things.”

Jensen’s head snapped up. “Why? Why would you do that?”

Jared swallowed several times before he was able to answer. “I figured you’d hate me. I’m sorry . . .”

Jensen cut him off before he could finish his sentence. “No, why would you leave? Do you want to leave? Do you want to leave me?”

The realization of what Jensen was asking him finally hit home. “No, I thought . . . I don’t know what I thought. I was scared I wrecked everything. That I upset you, caused you to backslide.”

Jensen shook his head. “No, Dean’s gone. It’s only me.” Jensen said as he taped his forehead.

Jared looked at Jensen, really looked at him and his heart stopped. It took him a minute to realize Jensen was speaking to him. “This seems right doesn’t it, you and me? Or maybe you don’t feel the same way. Maybe I’m just getting caught up in the moment. I mean I understand if you don’t, you have a life. It’s okay. Maybe it’s just in my head. I’m sorry.” Jared scrunched his face up in confusion. “Sorry for what?”

Jensen shrugged his shoulders, feeling defeated for letting himself get caught up in the moment. Of course Jared didn’t have feeling for him. Why had he even dared to hope? God, he was so messed up, he thought to himself. He started to turn to leave, going to his room when Jared grabbed his arm, stopping him. “Are you saying you have feelings for me?” Standing there, feeling so vulnerable Jensen couldn’t make himself turn around, couldn’t make his voice work. The only thing he could do was nodded his head yes. “Oh, thank God!” Jensen spun around, mouth open, gaping at Jared.

Six Months Later

Jared stood looking out of the French doors leading from the kitchen to the backyard. He was mesmerized by the figure bent over, weeding their garden. Jensen had done tremendous work on getting healthy. Jared was no longer his caretaker, not needing one anymore. Jared had accepted a therapist position at Rolling Hills once he was licensed. Jensen worked full-time at JD’s as a mechanic and was taking a few online college courses. He still had therapy sessions with Doctor Messina, they had started at once a week but were down to every other week which was progress. He laughed and smiled more. Jensen had been the one to find the two bedroom home they now lived in. Jared wanted Jensen’s name on the deed to their home, owning it together. That was the only way Jared would agree to put down the funds to purchase it. He wanted Jensen to know this was his home just as much as Jared’s. He would never again be tossed out like garbage. He had a safe place to relax in at the end of a tiring day. They both had their own rooms, Jensen had made that decision when they first talked about establishing a relationship and moving in together. He needed that sense of security, he had his own space to retreat to. Jared only ever entered Jensen’s space when he was invited. He knew Jensen needed to feel safe and never questioned it.

Jared’s bedroom was always open to Jensen. Jared had made it known that when Jensen needed him, he never had to ask permission to come in. The rest of the house was thought of as a common area. They shared the household duties, cooking, cleaning, upkeep of the house and shopping. The only other area the Jared didn’t touch was the garden. That was Jensen’s pride and joy. One side was devoted to vegetables and herbs, the other to different flowers that caught Jensen’s interest. Jared would often sit on their deck, watching Jensen lose himself in the garden. They would hold hands and kiss, they’d caress and hug each other and occasionally Jared would pull Jensen up to dance with him. There was also cuddling at night when they settled down to relax and watch a movie. But, while they were moving forward as a couple, sex was something that had yet to happen. Jared had told Jensen up front before things really started to develop between them that they would work on Jensen’s timetable, Jensen was shocked to say the least.

Jensen had come home one day after a difficult therapy session and locked himself in his room. Jared heard him crying but backed off, giving him time to work through his thoughts. An hour later Jared knocked on Jensen’s door asking him if he was okay. Jensen’s muffled voice answered him through the door.

“Jen, I really can’t understand you. Could you open the door? I won’t come in, I’ll just stay here in the hallway.” Jensen opened the door and then retreated to sit on his bed. Jared curled himself up by the door, waiting for Jensen to talk to him.

“Why are you with me? I’m damaged, I may never be able to give you what you want, what you need. You deserve better than this, than me.”

Jared stood upon hear this and he felt his heart breaking. “Jensen.”

Jensen raised his hand, stopping Jared from further speaking. “No, I may never be ready to . . . to have sex. How fair is that to you? To keep you hoping for something that I may never be able to give you.” He stood and turned away from Jared, to afraid to see the look on Jared’s face.

“Jensen, please may I come in?” Jared remained outside, waiting for Jensen’s permission. He heard a choked off yes and he was next to Jensen in a heartbeat, taking him into his arms. He held Jensen until his sobbing subsided. “Sit.” He waited for Jensen to get comfortable before sitting down next to him. “Jensen, I love you. I made you a promise that I would never hurt you, that we’d go at your pace. If that means you’re never ready, then so be it. I’ll live with it. I’ll take you anyway you give yourself to me, whatever you can give to me. I won’t lie, it’ll suck. You’re sexy as hell and I really want to make love to you but if it never happens I’m okay with it. I knew what I was getting into with you. I don’t want to be without you.” Jared paused, taking a deep breath. “Now, can you say the same? Or, do you want to . . .” Jared felt his throat closing as he tried to get the words out. “Do you want to end this, what we have?”

Jensen’s head snapped up at Jared’s questions, eyes wide. “No, I love you. I don’t want this to end. I just don’t want to hold you back from finding someone who’s whole.” Jensen bit his bottom lip and dropped his eyes from Jared.

“I’m going to kiss you now, just so you know.” Jared said and leaned into Jensen, lips gently connecting with lips. Jared’s tongue flicked out, licking over Jensen’s lips silently asking for more. Jensen parted his lips, letting Jared’s tongue in and moaned around it. Jensen reached up, placing his hands on the back of Jared’s head, caressing the nape of his neck. Jared pulled him in closer, pulling his lips away only to lick down Jensen’s neck. Jensen’s breath caught in his chest at the sensation and Jared knew he had pushed Jensen as far as he should.

He pulled back but didn’t break his contact with Jensen. Jensen inhaled, trying to catch his breath. “When you’re ready, come downstairs, we’ll make dinner and relax.” Jensen nodded and watched Jared get up and leave. He heard Jared’s footsteps retreating down the hall and then the silence as Jared walked downstairs. Jared leaned himself against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. Shit, there were going to be a lot of cold showers in his future, he thought to himself as he walked into the kitchen. But, it was something he was willing to live through for Jensen. Jared heard Jensen’s footsteps as he approached and turned to him. “So, what shall we make?”

Jensen shrugged. “Not really too hungry, how about just sandwiches?” Jared went to the fridge and grabbed the mayo and sandwich meat while Jensen pulled out plates and the bread. Together they made sandwiches, ate and cleaned up after themselves before settling down on the couch to watch a movie they’d recorded earlier in the week. When the movie was over, Jared helped a sleepy Jensen up the stairs and to his bedroom. He kissed him and watched as Jensen went into his room for the night. Jared silently made his way to his room and to his bathroom to wash up before getting changed. He let himself fall onto the bed with a sigh. He kicked down the covers and and got under them before turning off the bedside lamp.

He lay there thinking over the night’s events when he heard Jensen’s door open, but not close. He lifted his head up to see Jensen standing in the doorway to his room. “Jensen, everything alright?”

Jensen shuffled from foot to foot before finally finding the words he wanted to say. “I need you. I mean, I would like to sleep with you, sleep in your bed with you next to me.” Jared pulled back the covers, the only invitation Jensen needed to join him. Jensen padded across the floor to the bed and climbed in. He settled in, next to Jared and let Jared pull the covers over him. Jensen turned to him, wrapping an arm over his stomach, moving closer to Jared. Jared snaked an arm around Jensen’s shoulder, shifting so Jensen could rest his head on his chest. Jared craned his neck to kiss Jensen’s head and began to run his fingers through his hair. He felt Jensen place a kiss on his chest. “I love you, Jared.”

Jared let the words wash over him, feeling happiness swell in his chest. “I love you too, Jensen. Always will.”