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keep on making the same mistakes
keep on aching the same heartbreak
i wish if only
if only is a wish too late
cut here - the cure

1.

'Wait, wait, I got it,' he hears Jensen say - first thing he's said ever since Jared has arrived - and suddenly the giant Buddha statue he's been trying to lift into the moving van isn't so heavy anymore.

Jared wishes he wouldn't help. He's going to have to get the damn thing out by himself anyway, Jensen's not going to be there to help him then. So he doesn't need Jensen to make it any harder than it already is and he certainly doesn't need Jensen's compassion.

'So,' he says when the Buddha is finally stowed away safely. He swipes a hand through his hair. It's blue today - nothing says indifference like blue does. 'Is that everything?'

Jensen hasn't dared look him in the eye even once, but he stares now. Just for a second before glancing at the hallway behind them. It had been filled to the brim with Jared's stuff when he'd arrived a couple of hours ago. Now it looks empty and sad. Jared knows the feeling.

It's weird. Jared knows things weren't going too well between them, knows that they fought a lot at the end, but never once had it crossed his mind that Jensen could break up with him. Yet here they are: moving van full, hallway empty, heart ... Well. And the worst thing is, he should have seen it coming. They'd been together for nearly two and a half years, and up until the last couple of months, ... It wasn't perfect, but it was good and Jared had really thought they could get back to that, one way or another.

'Well,' Jared says and nods. He turns his back to Jensen, ready to get into the moving van and drive away to his own tiny, hot and overpriced apartment, where the walls are orange and the windows don't close properly. Just before he opens the door, Jensen stops him.

'How are the dogs?'

Jared freezes, then sighs heavily. Really? That's what he wants to talk about? The dogs?

'They're good,' he chokes out, only half turning back to face Jensen. 'They seem to think my place is a bit crowded with the three of us, but there's a nice park across the street for them to stretch their legs. It's okay for now.'

'For now?' Jensen parrots. 'You're thinking of moving?'

'It's a shitty apartment. It doesn't even fit all my stuff, let alone me and my two big dogs.' Jared shrugs. 'Nothing keeping me here either.'

Even as he's finishing his sentence, he tries to get into the van again, but Jensen puts a hand on his arm. Jared tries his best not to flinch.

'Jared,' he says, he sounds desperate. 'I'm sorry, I didn't - You know it's not your fault, right? It's all me. It was just all a bit much for me, that's all. Maybe we could -'

'It's okay,' he says quickly, shaking off Jensen's hand. Jared gets into the van before he gets a chance to speak again. If he has to listen to him suggesting they could still be friends, he thinks he's going to die. If there's one thing worse than not having Jensen, it's not having all of him, and he won't be forced into a friendship just to make Jensen feel better. He wouldn't be able to handle it, either.

He knows - he's always known - that he's different and flaky and just not an easy person. Jensen is the exact opposite of him, in every single way: he's quiet and thoughtful, weighs every word carefully before he speaks, he makes plans and he draws up lists and it was just a matter of time before Jared's complete lack and incapability of any of those things would scare him off. Jensen had tried very hard not to be freaked, and he'd fought valiantly to integrate Jared's kookiness into his life, and when that didn't work, he tried to help him get some kind of regularity in his way of living, but it didn't help. Because if there's one thing about Jared that never changes, it's that he never stops changing.

Jared knows that not everyone can handle that. Very few can, actually. So he can't blame Jensen for a single thing. All of it, everything that went wrong, it completely comes down to Jared himself.

Perhaps that's another thing that never changes.

2.

It's somewhat of a relief, now that his stuff is out of Jensen's house and back in his own apartment - or some of it, at least. Most of it's in storage, because he just doesn't have the space. But perhaps now he can start over, get away from Jensen entirely and make this new situation work.

Even though they broke up a while ago and Jared's been back in his apartment ever since, life there hasn't made sense. He'd only been living at Jensen's place for a good nine months, but even so, Jared feels like he'll never get used to being on his own again.

And that's unsettling. Jared has always been the guy that could adapt to any situation and make himself fit in perfectly, like he'd always been there. That's what he does. Jared needs to try everything once and the moment he feels he's seen it all, he's gone to find something new. That's what life is all about. So living in this shitty apartment, alone, should just be the next thing on the list for him to conquer and then move on from - another story for him to tell years from now.

Except Jared has no idea how to get past this. He feels out of place and awkward in his own home, like a square peg in a round hole. And he doesn't like it - doesn't like any of it. He doesn't like that when he gets up out of bed and turns around, he's basically in the shower. He doesn't like how the hideous orange color of the walls clashes with the green window frames. He doesn't like how it's continuously hot, even though the windows don't close properly. He doesn't like how the water in the shower is freezing unless he turns on the stove, which makes it even continuously hotter and then he has to shower again and - It's a vicious circle.

Jared doesn't do circles. He does twists and turns, corners and detours, but he never ends up back where he started. It doesn't make sense that life in a relationship, with someone who has basically made his life's work out of making circles, fits him better than a life where he's completely free.

Deep down, Jared knows why. He has never settled and has never meant to do so, he's never gotten particularly attached to people outside his family and he's never felt the need for it. Of course, he's got friends and he can pretty much get along with just about everyone on the planet. But when it comes to long-lasting relationships, Jared had been on uncharted territory when he'd met Jensen. He had never been around anyone long enough to get into one, for starters, and he'd always known that it was going to be hard for someone to accept that about him.

And then there was Jensen, who'd invested in him anyway, even though it has been more than just hard. Jared knows that Jensen had given it his all and now he's left wondering if he himself did. Maybe if he'd tried harder, compromised more and had been more consistent, then Jensen wouldn't have given up on him.

He's pretty sure about that, actually.

*

'Let me take you out,' Sandy nearly begs. Jared doesn't even know why he answered the phone. He knew it was gonna be Sandy and he knew what she was going to say. 'Or let me come over so we can watch a ridiculous slasher movie.'

'Sandy, no,' he says. He tries to be firm, but he just can't muster the energy so it sounds flat and listless. He loves her dearly, she's the only person who's stood by him all his life without being connected to him by blood, but he can only have this conversation so many times before getting sick of it. 'I'm fine.'

'Okay,' she says, sarcasm dripping from her voice. 'That convinced me.'

'San, just don't, please,' he whines, rubbing his eyes. 'I can't - I'm crap company right now anyway.'

'It's not about being good company, you jerk,' she says. She sounds angry, but Jared knows her well enough to hear she's teasing. 'If I wanted that, I wouldn't have called you in the first place.'

'Yeah,' he confirms. He wants to smile, he really does, because this is the kind of thing that makes him smile, makes him laugh out loud if he's in a good mood, but somehow, his brain just isn't sending the signal through to his lips.

He can hear Sandy sigh. 'I know you're feeling shitty right now. I just want to be there for you.'

'I know that,' he admits. 'But I don't wanna be around anyone, for a while. Not until I get the hang of living my life again.'

'Jared, your life changes every two weeks or so,' she argues. 'It's not consistent enough for you to get the hang of. One month you're a dog-walker and the next you want to be a journalist and that's all fine. But if you're waiting for your life to feel like it's normal again, you're going to be waiting a very long time because the only thing that's been a constant in your life is Jensen.'

'And maybe that's the problem,' Jared tries, hoping to convince Sandy. Then maybe he can believe it himself. 'Maybe I've just had too much of a constant in my life. It's made me lose track of who I am, you know?'

'No, Jared, I don't know,' Sandy says. She sounds pained and tired. 'Because that doesn't make any sense, not even for you. You lost Jensen and he was good to you. He was good for you. I know you and I know you're hurting. Take a moment to get through that.'

'I've been taking too many moments. I've been standing still for ages, Sandy,' Jared says, agitated. 'It's time for something new.'

'If you say so,' she says in a sing-song voice, clearly just to please him. 'Have you even talked to Jensen since you moved out?'

'When I picked up my things. We didn't speak much,' he says quietly.

'Did he say anything about breaking up with you?'

'He tried, but there's nothing to say, really.' Jared shrugs and switches his cell to his other ear - his left is red and hot from talking on it. 'It's done.'

'God, it is far from done!' Sandy says, loudly. 'I haven't seen you in ages, neither have Tom and Mike. Your sister didn't even know you and Jensen split up, I had to tell her. It is far from over and it won't be until you deal with what happened.'

'I am dealing!' Jared yells. 'This is how I deal!'

'You're not dealing, Jared, you're running away, just like you always do!'

He's quiet for a while - he doesn't want to say anything to Sandy, even if he knew what to say - and so is she. He can hear her breathing heavily on the other end, though, as if she knows she's gone too far.

'I'm sorry, but-' she hesitates, waits for a moment like she expects him to interrupt or perhaps even hang up on her. Jared doesn't speak either, though, he wants to know how she's going to talk herself out of this one. 'Perhaps you shouldn't have given up on Jensen so easily. I've known you all my life and I know that the moment you feel stuck, you turn tail and run. Somehow, you keep thinking that if you don't do it first, we'll be the ones to leave you.'

'Sandy, that's bullshit,' he says angrily. He has no idea where she even got that. 'And even if it was true, Jensen did leave.'

'Jay, even I can still feel you keeping a distance and I've learned to deal with it eventually, but I'm just a friend,' Sandy tells him. 'I don't think I'd be able to deal with that if you were my boyfriend. You're constantly looking for something new and different, trying to make changes before the changes might sneak up on you.'

'That's not true,' Jared says and pretends he doesn't hear how his voice breaks.

'Did you tell him you didn't want to leave?' Sandy asks carefully and quietly. 'Did you tell him you still love him?'

'Who says I didn't wanna leave?' Jared fires back, completely ignoring the second question Sandy asked him.

'You really need me to answer that?'

Jared doesn't speak. What could he say, really? Why should he have said anything to Jensen? If he wanted to break up, then who's Jared to stand in the way of that? It just wasn't meant to be, that's all. It was a wake-up call, he'd been doing the same thing for too long already.

'It takes two to make a relationship work, Jared,' she tries once more. 'It doesn't happen by itself.'

He hangs up. Sandy doesn't know what she's talking about.

*

He does a few outrageous things that he can't afford in the next week, but he needs to do them. Because he wants to make a clean break and start over. Because he can't let this be the time after Jensen dumped him and he felt like nothing could ever again be exciting in the world. Now: it's the time when he painted his walls minty green so they at least kind of match the flaking window frames. It's the time when Jared actually doesn't dye his hair for the first time in years and when he gets a good inch cut off, as well. It's the time when he quits his job. Again.

It sounds unreasonable and uncalled for, Sandy tells him that at every opportunity, but he can't let things stay the way they are. If he does, they'll never change again and he'll spend the rest of his life feeling as cornered, trapped and helpless as he does now. So everything has to be different. He'll go traveling again, see some parts of the world he hasn't yet seen. Maybe he'll go to college again and complete one of the three studies he started and dropped out of.

Maybe he won't.

3.

He didn't mean to do it. He really, honestly didn't.

He meant to go over to Mike and Tom to vent and moan and probably be scolded for being such a wet blanket - and now, all of a sudden, he's standing at Jensen's front door. Force of habit, Jared thinks, it has to be. He can't think of another reason why he walked up this driveway and not the next like he should have.

Well. Maybe except what Sandy told him over the phone. It's been on his mind ever since, he can't forget about it. He doesn't think she's right exactly, not about the running and not about him. But he does want some closure, wants to talk to Jensen one more time to just tell him that he's sorry. He's here now anyway.

It's weird, ringing the doorbell. He didn't even know what kind of sound it makes - he never once used it. Even when he didn't really know Jensen yet, he walked in easily. And when he moved in, he had a key. He's still not used to that, that this is not his home anymore. It still feels like it.

Jensen takes a minute to answer the door, but when he does, Jared is stunned. He looks healthy and happy, not at all like the last time he'd seen him, when he'd looked as if he'd been carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. He smiles at Jared, takes him in from head to toe as if he's never seen him before.

'Yes?' he says when Jared doesn't speak first.

'Jensen, I -' he manages after almost a full minute of stammering. 'You look. You look good.'

Jensen's smile fades quickly and the broody look Jared's come to know so well is back. 'That is, that is really creepy. What are you talking about?'

'I'm sorry,' Jared says hastily, waving a hand. 'I know that's a weird thing to say, considering - I just couldn't help - Can we talk?'

'About what?' Jensen frowns, closes the door just a centimeter and that sets off alarm bells in Jared's head.

'Us.' Jared thinks that should've been obvious. 'I know I was a real jerk last time, but I just needed some time to think, you know.'

'You think you're being funny?' Jensen asks, voice growing louder. 'I don't even know you.'

Jared has to take a step back at that, it feels like Jensen literally punched him in the face. 'Wow, Jen, that's pretty harsh. I know I messed up, but -'

'Did Tom and Mike put you up to this?' he cuts across Jared, peering over his shoulder and at his neighbors' house. 'Is this some kind of a prank?'

'No! You'd think I'd joke about something like this?' Jared asks, holding out his hands. 'Jesus. If you don't wanna talk to me, then just say it. Don't play games.'

'Play games?' Jensen repeats incredulous. 'You're the - I don't have time for this.'

He makes to close the door entirely, but Jared jams his foot in between. 'Jensen, what the hell, man? I'm sorry. I'm sorry for what I did. It'll be different now.'

'Different from what?' Jensen yells from behind the door, still pushing to close it. 'Listen, pal, I don't know how you know my name and I don't know who you think I am, but you've got the wrong guy. Get the hell out of here before I call the cops.'

He tries shutting the door again, pushes against it with all his strength and Jared can't keep holding it open, not without breaking his foot. So he pulls back. 'Jensen!' Jared cries, but there's no response. He doesn't go away, though, he's still standing at the door, leaning against it and hoping it will open again.

'Jared,' he suddenly hears.

It's Mike, standing in his driveway with a briefcase in one hand, a blazer draped over the other. He looks white as a sheet.

'What are you doing?'

'I was trying to talk to Jensen,' he says dejectedly, 'but he doesn't appear to wanna talk to me.'

'What did he say?' Mike asks, cocking his head to one side. He looks nervous.

'Nothing,' he says with a shrug, then continues in a louder voice, talking with his face towards the door. 'He's behaving like a real child and pretending he doesn't know me.'

'Oh dear.' Mike sighs. 'Come over to our place for a sec. We've got beer in the cooler.'

'I don't want beer,' Jared says, annoyed. Surely Mike must understand. 'I wanna talk to Jensen.'

'Yeah,' he says and nods. 'I think you'll want it after we've talked to you.'

'Wait,' Jared says, slowly turning away from Jensen's house. 'Do you know something that I don't?'

'Just come,' Mike says. He looks defeated and depressed, so Jared follows him.

*

Jensen Ackles has had Jared Padalecki erased from his memory. Please never mention their relationship to him again. Thank you.

Lacuna Ltd.

'We got it a couple of days ago,' Mike says as he throws it onto the kitchen table in front of him.

'Right,' Jared says and nods, even if he doesn't know why he's nodding at all. Because it's not right and it doesn't make sense in the least. 'Right.'

'We shouldn't have told him,' Tom says to Mike, talking over Jared's head. 'It's cruel.'

'This is cruel?' Mike spits angrily. 'How about wiping the memories of your ex and leaving your friends to clean up the mess. If we are cruel, it's because Jensen forced us to be.'

'I get that,' Tom starts, 'but it doesn't -'

'Is it real?' Jared interrupts. He rubs his eyes and reads it again, just to make sure he's not making it up. It still says the same thing. 'Maybe it's just, maybe it's a joke.'

'What kind of terrible joke would that be?' Mike asks. 'You can't look at this any way that would make it funny. Especially not after the encounter you've just had with him.'

'So he wasn't playing -' Jared stops to breathe. It's like there's not enough oxygen in the room, all of a sudden. 'He really doesn't remember me? How's that even possible?'

'I don't know,' Tom says softly, shaking his head. 'I called the company and they confirmed it was legit. It's real: Jensen got his memories of you erased.'

'You can't tell him,' Mike tells him, voice firm and serious. 'It could do some serious damage, the doctor said.'

'What? Even more?' Jared blurts, incredulous. They completely killed their relationship, what more damage was there to be done?

God. How the hell did it come to this? Erase him? Had things been so bad between the two of them that Jensen needed to forget all of it? Was it that unbearable?

Before he's even properly thought about it, he finds himself back at Jensen's front door, knocking at it with all his might. He still feels his blood pulsing in his arms, sees angry red stripes when he looks down. He supposes Tom en Mike have tried - in vain - to hold him back.

Jared's never one to use force, he will always try to talk things over, try to reason with people before he'll get into a fight - if he doesn't walk away from it in the first place. But if he does choose to put his height and strength into it, there's no way you'd win. So he's not surprised that the two men are staring at him, Tom standing at their front door, Mike in the middle of Jensen's lawn.

'Listen,' Jensen says as he opens the door with probably more force than he should have. 'I don't-'

And then Jared looks at him again. He really does look good. He looks healthy and happy and definitely like he's been working out. It seems he's a different man from the Jensen Jared used to be with - someone who walks through life with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. And if he's the one that has taken that away from Jensen, if he's the one that made Jensen unhappy enough to completely erase that part of his life from his memory, then Jared's not going to stand in the way of that. He still loves Jensen too much.

'I'll leave,' he says, defeated, hurt and sad. He tries keeping it out of his voice and face, but when he feels a tear run over his cheek, he gives up entirely. He doesn't have the strength to keep fighting, not when he sees the look on Jensen's face, the complete lack of recognition in his eyes. Jensen clearly wanted him out of his life, if that's what he wants, then that's what he gets. Jensen seems a bit shaken too, at Jared's soft words. 'I'll leave. But I just don't - What was so bad that we couldn't talk about, Jensen? That you had to erase it all? If I - If. I'm sorry.'

And at that point, Jared feels his voice give out entirely. He can't speak at all, even if he knew what to say. He just shakes his head and walks away from Jensen. Forever.

4.

He doesn't walk far, though. He doesn't have energy. So he just muffs back to Mike and Tom's. They've been expecting him, apparently, there's another beer waiting for him on the table.

'And?'

Jared just raises his eyebrows at Tom and sinks down into a chair. What did they think was gonna happen? That the memories would just magically return if Jared yelled at him long enough?

The card is still on the table. He stares at it for a while, memorizing it, even though he's sure he got it the first time. He could never forget what's on it.

Jensen Ackles has had Jared Padalecki erased from his memory. That has to be the single most inane and ridiculous sentence in the history of the English language.

'He let someone get into his head and take bits out,' he says after a long silence, mostly to himself. He feels he has to keep repeating it until he finally believes it. 'He let people tamper with his memories - I mean. He felt that letting someone laser his fucking brain was better than remembering me. What did I miss? I never thought things were that bad between us.'

'Because they weren't, Jared,' Tom says and rubs a hand over his face. 'When that letter came, I genuinely thought it was a prank, like you did. But then when he came over later that evening...'

'I just don't understand why he didn't talk about it with us, you know?' Mike says. He's calm and solemn. Jared's never seen him like that before; usually Mike's all about innuendo and lame jokes, but there's not even a smile on his face now. 'We maybe could've helped him. He told us he just wanted to forget about the whole thing, but you never think to take it literally.'

'Don't beat yourself up about it,' Jared says and shrugs. 'When I think about it, he was - he really wanted to get rid of my stuff, you know. I thought he just didn't want my mess cluttering up his house, that it was necessary for him to move on or something. But maybe he just couldn't bear the thought of knowing me anymore. Maybe he just wanted me gone, in every way he could. Maybe he was sick and tired of me.'

'Come on, Jared, you know that's not true.' Tom shakes his head. 'You know this guy better than anyone on the planet. You know he's not like that. He felt awful after you guys broke up, he was an honest-to-God train wreck. If he thought this was the only way out, he must've been suffering a great deal more than we imagined.'

'And what's it like for me, you think?' Jared bites out. 'He chose this, not me.'

Mike pats him on the shoulder. 'We don't agree with what Jensen's done, at all. But that's taking it a bit far, don't you think?'

'No,' Jared replies, all the fight drained out of him. 'This is pretty much the only way I can make sense of it. And I get it, you know? I put Jensen through a lot of shit and he put up with it far better and longer than he ever should have. I get that he'd try and erase all that, start over and everything. It just a lot to deal with.'

'And you shouldn't think like that, either!' Tom says loudly. 'Jay, it's not your fault. And it's not Jensen's. This isn't black and white, man. Break-ups never are. It's a little bit of you and a little bit of him and a lot of different circumstances that made you split up. And I get where the both of you are coming from; it hurts, and I get that Jensen wanted to put it behind him, but the way he did was wrong.'

'It was stupid and selfish of him - he didn't only screw you over, you know. We're friends with both of you, what the hell are we supposed to do? You met at our wedding, for Christ's sake. You're making googly eyes at each other in half the pictures we took. What if he ever asks to see them?'

'He already did,' Tom says, taking a swig of his beer. He points at their wedding photo on the wall. 'He came over a couple of days ago, when you were at work. Saw that picture and said he couldn't remember a single second from that night.'

'What did you tell him?'

'I made up some cock-and-bull story about him being drunk off his ass, said that the album was with your mother and that she was making a scrap-book.'

'He bought that?' Jared asks.

'I think so.' Tom shrugs. 'But he's been asking after the story, wants to know why he drank so much, what happened. I don't know what to tell him.'

'You know what, I wanna see this doctor,' Jared says, suddenly angry. 'I wanna see what he has to say for himself. He can't just do this - mess up lives and damage brains - and get away with it. I mean, is it even legal what he's doing? Or safe?'

'You think that's such a good idea?' Tom asks. 'If this is what the guy does for a living, I'm pretty sure people are storming into his office from dawn till dusk. He's probably got security and everything.'

'You think that's gonna stop me?' Jared asks, snatching the letter up from the table and walking away.

5.

Morgan's practice is in a big house just a few blocks from where Mike and Tom and Jensen live - he actually knows it, passed it a million times. He just never stopped to think about what "lacunar specialist" might mean. Now that he knows, it makes him want to rip the plaque off the wall with his bare hands.

He bursts in - turns out the security Tom was talking about really isn't anything to write home about- he storms past the redheaded girl at reception without saying a word and heads straight for the big glass door that says "Dr J.D. MORGAN" in white lettering.

'Sir. Sir, no!' the secretary yells. 'Wait. You need an appointment! You can't go in there, sir! As you can see, doctor Morgan is -'

But Jared's already inside the office. The secretary couldn't have stopped him no matter what she did, he would've walked through the glass door if he had to.

'I'm so sorry, doctor Morgan,' she says, annoyed and embarrassed. 'I tried. He was too fast.'

Morgan, of course, saw him coming and is looking up at him from behind his desk, face friendly and curious. He turns to his secretary and smiles, shakes his head at her to tell her it's okay.

He doesn't at all look the way Jared had expected he would. He doesn't look old, short, pudgy or boring. He's not creepily pale and he's not bald. Instead, he looks healthy and not much over ten years older than him, even in spite of his graying beard and hair. His eyes are big and brown and from what Jared can gather, he's quite tall too.

He does wear glasses, though.

'I don't wanna bother you, I just need a minute,' Jared says quickly. When he sees the doctor eye his secretary, he adds, 'Please. I'm not looking for trouble.'

Morgan gives him a hard stare, as if he's scanning Jared with his eyes to see what he's dealing with here, and finally nods at his secretary. He turns to the girl that's still sitting on the other side of his desk, apparently frozen with fright.

When he looks at her more closely, Jared thinks it might not be fear that's made her so uncomfortable. Her cheeks are stained with mascara and her eyes look watery. 'I'm sorry to do this to you, Miss Cortese, but perhaps you do need a moment to recover, don't you think? Danneel here will take you out into the waiting area and get you something to drink. I'll come back to you in a moment, is that okay?'

The girl gives him a shaky nod and allows the secretary to lead her out of the room. Jared wants to yell after her, say something like, 'Don't do it!' or 'You have no idea how much you'll be hurting him', but he doesn't think she can take it in the state she's in.

When she's gone, he hears the doctor clear his throat, calling his attention back to him. He's still seated behind his desk, hands linked in his lap, and he peers up at him from over his glasses. 'So, what are you looking for?'

'Answers,' Jared says, still slightly out of breath. 'A solution.'

'I'm not sure I can give you the first,' Morgan says, frowning. 'But the second one is what we're all about.'

'No, no.' Jared waves a hand. 'I don't want my head to get messed with. I wanna talk about someone who already did.'

'Mister -' Morgan waits, simply looks at Jared and waits for him to supply his name, which he does almost automatically.

'Padalecki. Jared.'

'Mister Padalecki, I'm sure you know we can't do this. Doctor-patient confidentiality.' He seems to realise Jared's not going to give up easily, though, and gestures for him to take a seat in one of the chairs opposite him.

He hesitates for a moment, but then he does sit down, carefully and slowly, as if Morgan would disappear if he startled him with any sudden movements. 'And what if this person wanted his head unmessed with?'

'I find that doubtful,' Morgan answers, calm. Jared gets the impression it's not the first time someone's barged into his office with that question. 'Since they shouldn't know they got their heads messed with - as you so eloquently put it - in the first place.'

'But in theory,' Jared presses, 'is it possible?'

'That they remember? No,' Morgan tells him. Before Jared even gets to correct him, he continues. 'That they get the procedure reversed? Not that either.'

Jared closes his eyes and breathes deeply before deflating entirely. 'Of course.'

They're quiet for a moment as Jared tries to relax, tries to wrap his head around the fact that whatever they had - more than two years' worth of moments together - is completely gone for Jensen now. He can't understand what drove Jensen to do it and Jensen can never make him understand. It is just impossible to grasp what made Jensen come here, sit in this very chair perhaps, and ask this man to cut out pieces of his memories.

'I'm assuming we're talking about,' Morgan starts hesitantly, 'an ex-girlfriend?'

'Boyfriend,' Jared corrects, and then he adds, lamely, 'He doesn't remember me.'

'That is what our procedure does. When someone is not happy and wants to move on, we provide that possibility,' Morgan admits. 'We do warn our clients to stay away from situations in which they might encounter the removed object. How did you -?'

'I went over to his house,' Jared tells him, shakes his head. 'It's not his fault. His neighbors are good friends of mine, I meant to visit them but... Well. They showed me the letter.'

Morgan nods compassionately. 'I'm sorry you had to find out like that. Or that you had to find out at all. I'm willing to explain to you what we did, how we work, mister Padalecki, but other than that, I'm not sure what you expect from me.'

Jared heaves a heavy sigh and smiles mirthlessly. 'Honestly? I don't know either. It didn't really think before I came in here, I'm sorry. I tend to do that,' Jared says, but he doesn't really feel sorry about it. It's all just a bit too surreal for him to be anything but bewildered. 'I just don't understand. I didn't think that what we had was so bad that he had to get it removed, you know? But I suppose Jensen thought different.'

'You don't know that,' Morgan says, voice deep and soothing. Jared throws him a look, and he chuckles and admits, 'And I can't be sure about the contrary. But you'd be surprised. A lot of people come here, not because they don't love the person they want to forget, but because they love them so much. I've had to remove memories of siblings that people lost touch with, dogs that ran away, parents that died. Some people can't bear the loss and the pain that comes with it.'

'Not Jensen,' Jared says vehemently. 'He's the strongest person I know. He would've had to be to - Look. I'm not an easy person to live with. I'm generally pretty upbeat, you know, but I get bored easily. I'm like, I'm pretty high maintenance. And when I am down, I'm not just down. I am at rock bottom and I'm gonna camp out there for a while. Jensen wouldn't have stuck around as long as he had if he wasn't strong.'

'You seem to hold him in pretty high regard, still,' Morgan says. 'Even after breaking up.'

'Why wouldn't I? I really thought Jensen was it, you know. I still -' And there his voice falters, his throat feels constricted, like he just swallowed a micro machine and it's stuck.

'There must be something wrong with him?' Morgan prompts. When he sees the look of horror on Jared's face that he even dare suggest such a thing, he laughs again. It's a low and hoarse rumble, coming right out of his chest. 'Something that you don't like as much as you like all the rest, then.'

'The fact that he erased me from his memories?' he bites out, eyebrows raised, but then he shrugs. He doesn't really have the energy to take it out on this man. 'No one is perfect, but there's a lot more wrong with me than there is with Jensen.'

Morgan takes him in for a moment. He doesn't say anything, he's just watching Jared as if he's studying a wild animal in its natural habitat.

'You still love him a great deal,' he says eventually. He's as calm as he has been throughout the entire conversation, but there's something about the way he looks at him that makes Jared frown. 'You're still hurting.'

'If this is news to you, you haven't actually been paying attention,' Jared tells him.

Morgan laughs again and shakes his head. 'What I mean is, you would like to get better. Move on from this, am I right?'

'Yeah, of course,' Jared says. 'But it's kind of hard if you can never go back and talk things over with your ex, perhaps work things out.'

'Then forget about it,' Morgan says casually.

'It's not that -' Jared starts, and then he freezes, eyes widening as it dawns on him. 'Wait. You're not saying I should -?'

'Why not?' Morgan asks him earnestly. 'You don't seem the kind of man that can easily let go of something. So here's the deal: you can go over what went wrong a million times in your head, you can keep blaming yourself and you can go over to Jensen and yell at him until you're blue in the face, it's not going to change anything. Or you can forget about it.'

Jared doesn't know what to say. It's true what Morgan says, about him and about the situation he's in, but erase his memories of Jensen? That's not even an option.

'Tell me why not.' Morgan says again.

'Because it's the exact cause of all of my problems,' Jared says. 'Jensen nearly broke me, erasing me from his memories. You're asking me to do the same to him?'

'Except Jensen doesn't remember you. He doesn't have any of the pain, any of the guilt that you're feeling right now,' Morgan states. 'Because to him, none of it ever happened.'

'He doesn't remember any of the good parts either,' Jared counters angrily. 'And there were far more of those than there were bad moments, as far as I'm concerned. I don't wanna lose that. I can't lose it.'

'Okay.' Morgan smiles again, raises his hands in surrender. 'That's absolutely fine. But when you feel you can't take it anymore, you know where to find me. Treatment's on the house.'

Jared blinks. Did he hear that right? 'You're offering to treat me for free?' he chokes out eventually. 'Why?'

It's quiet for a long, awkward moment. Just when Jared thinks he won't get an answer, Morgan speaks. 'Because I know what it feels like to get left behind,' he says.

Jared's not sure, but he thinks he can see Morgan's eyes flicker over to his secretary on the other side of the glass door.