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Mea Culpa

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It shouldn’t have happened, not to anyone, but especially not to her friend. Of all the people in the world, for it to happen to Jared, the sweetest, most gentle man she’d ever known.

 

It wasn’t right.

 

Thoughts swirled around Sophia’s head as she sat morosely, never moving a muscle, she was cramped, her limbs aching but still refused to move from her self impossed vigil over Jared’s bedside.

 

Over the past few hours she’d felt she’d gone through every emotion known to mankind and now all that was left was pure exhaustion, and a soul-eating sorrow. Oh, and the anger, we didn’t want to forget that. Oh but this wasn’t just any anger, she’s thought she’d known anger, but this…this feeling was something so far removed from anythign she’d felt before she wasn’t sure what to label it.

 

Whatever it was, whatever label you wanted to give it, she had never experienced sure pure, unadulterated hatred. It had been eating her up and part of her was grateful for that constant gut-knawing anger: it at least meant she could still feel something, that she was alive. That had to mean something. She was surprised she wasn’t numb by now. God knows she’d like to be, but she couldn’t, otherwise she would really want to. It would mean giving up, and she just couldn’t.

 

Sophia Bush did not give up on her friends, no matter what.

 

***

 

Chad’s eyes narrowed as he sat with the consultant. Strictly speaking, he shouldn’t be here as he wasn’t family, but he was the next best thing and with a few well placed words, an oh-so-charming smile and a quick autograph and he was being told the full extent Jared’s condition.

 

No one seemed to complain after that that Chad shouldn’t be here. Despite his reputation to the contary, Chad didn’t actually like using his fame to get what he wanted, but this was different. Jared was different. He was family and that was all that mattered to Chad.

 

Sure, genes or blood didn’t relate him, but he was as close as any family, perhaps closer in some ways. Family you couldn’t choose. ‘Friends were the family you chose’, he remembered But now he couldn’t think about much at the moment.

 

His mind kept repeating part of the conversation with the doctor who’s been assigned to Jared…

 

“He doesn’t have any family…I mean, family that’s here right now. They kind of lost contact with him a while ago. Things have been difficult between them and Jay...Jared. He listed me as his Next of Kin. I’ll be Jared’s spokesperson… someone’s gotta look out for him, just don’t lie to me, tell me exactly how bad it is,”

 

He was bitterly regretting that now. But he’d do it again and again, even knowing what was coming next. Yet that didn’t make the sickness any less. He’d practically had to bribe the staff to tell him what was happening. For God sake, his best friend could die, probably was dying, Chad had had to see someone he loved lying on a floor not breathing and they wouldn’t tell him what was happening. Eventually he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and one of the doctors had taken pity on him, or at least got sick of his demands.

 

Chad didn’t care which it was. All he wanted were answers. Was that really too much to ask? To hell with hospitals and their sodding protocols. Having to listen to the extent of the injuries, many of which he already knew about, and the possible ramifications of the other more serious injuries, he felt rather sick. Chad had never been punched, well, not properly much to some people’s astonishment, but he was getting a good idea of what a solid hit in his gut would feel like.

 

Chad hoped Soph was doing better than him, but Chad only had to hear what had happened. Sophia had to sit and watch their friend fighting for his life, unable to help.

 

If there was one thing Sophia hated it was feeling helpless and what was worse than watching your best friend fight for his life, unable to help, or worse know that Jared might not want to fight any more. He’d been through so much. Maybe his body was too tired. That thought scared the crap out of Chad. He hated admitting to being afraid of anything, but right now…he was scared shitless.

 

His mind drifted back to the sight of Soph clutching Jared’s limp hand, tubes shoved into his skin…That surely had to be worse, right? They’d been waiting for the ambulance which Chad was sure he been the longest period in his life. Couldn’t they have made it come any quicker?

 

His mind was completely numb when Sophia had decided to finally come around. Of all the times that Sophia had been early it had to be this one. It had to be when Chad was clasping their dying friend’s hand. He hadn’t heard the wine bottle shatter. All he remembered was seeing Sophia’s face as the colour drained away. He’d never seen that before, thought it only happened in stories, or lame movies, but then he’d never been in this situation before. It had almost been surreal.

 

Chad had to become harsh with Sophia and to keep her from becoming hysterical; explaining the ambulance was on its way... but the look on Sophia’s face… He silently thanked God that Sophia didn’t have to hear this. He liked to pretend Sophia still had some innocence in her, in the same way Jared had once had before it’d been stripped away. The whole innocence thing was all bull of course. The last six years of their lives had pretty much stripped away the vast majority of the naivety that much- loved innocence. But despite that, Chad always thought Sophia still maintained some small part of his innocence- that small stubborn part that believed in people, that could hope for the best, that was something he though that Sophia would always have, or was, until what he saw today.

 

It was almost as if Chad could see that last vestiges of Life’s innocence slip away from him, as the colour faded, recognition burning in the startling blue eyes. Chad mourned the loss. He never wanted his friend to see that. He never wanted to see that…

 

“I hesitate to bring this up, but I think it’s best you know—” The doctor began cautiously.

 

Hestitate? Now you want to hesitate?? Chad desperately wanted to scream at her. She’d hardly spared him any of the other details so why the hell would she care about this ‘sensitive piece of information.’

 

Even in his anger he knew it wasn’t her fault. She was being a professional, calm and in control, something Chad could never do when it came to those he loved, he could never understand how others managed

 

Out of all the doctors, she’d been the nicest and seemed to care the most. What was her name? He found he couldn’t remember anything. His mind had seemed to collapse upon itself. He wondered if she had dealt with many cases like this. Surely she must have - she was a doctor, but Chad wasn’t. He’d never had to deal with this, not on any personal level. He’d read about it… heard about it. But it never happened to people he knew. Especially not like this. Forcing himself back to the present, he listened to Ms Doctor.

 

“I have put Mr. Padalecki on suicide watch, just as a precaution.”

 

WHAT?! Oh please no. Jared could barely move. Surely they didn’t think…he wouldn’t…not again. This was too much. It has to be a surreal nightmare. Chad couldn’t lose him, not now after everything they’d been through in the past six years and definitely not like this. Oh no, loss was not an option. He’d sworn to look after him and he would, by any means necessary.

 

***

 

He was normally a morning person. Really he was, but even Mr. ‘Bright N Early’ didn’t appreciate a phone call at the crack of dawn. There were some times when Jensen just needed to be alone, alone in his bed, no one wanting anything. It was one of his guilty pleasures. His bed was his private space. No one night stands or quick flings were brought to this bed, there were plenty of other places they could have fun, but this room, this bed was his snactuary from the glitz and glare of Hollywood. The one person he’d broke that rule for was Jared. Why on earth had that thought popped into his head? Jared was very much his past and that was how things should stay.

 

Mentally shrugging, he snuggled down back to sleep but was finding it difficult with the obnoxious ringing despite his valient attempts to ignore it. He really had to remind himself to unplug the phone one of these days. Fortunately the answer machine picked it up.

 

“Hi this is Jensen Ackles. I’m clearly not in, so leave a message after the tone and I’ll get back to you. Probably.”

 

beep…

 

“Ackles, you fucking bastard! Pick up the phone!”

 

Jensen frowned, the sleep still clearing from his brain, he recongised the voice and grimaced.

 

It was Chad.

 

Of all the people on earth, Chad was one he could do quite happily with never acknowleding or seeing again, but despite that, his curiosity was piqued.

 

Why on earth would Chad Michael Murray be ringing at this time of the morning? In fact, why was he ringing period?

 

Everyone knew how much Chad hated mornings. In fact Jensen secretly doubted the douchebag knew what ‘A.M.’ meant. It was strange that he still thought of Chad in those terms, that was Jared’s name for his friend after all. Old habits obviously died hard he guessed as he pretended not to feel the pang in his chest as he thought about Jared.

 

“I mean it Ackles, pick up the fucking phone!”

 

He wanted nothing more than to pull the covers over his head, forget about Chad’s obnoxious voice but Chad’s tone made him uneasy. He sounded furious and, worst of all, scared. The Chad he’d know didn’t get scared.

 

”I don’t’ give a damn if you’re sleeping or currently fucking your flavour of the week, I have to talk to you NOW! It’s a fucking emergency, trust me I wouldn’t bother with you otherwise, I don’t have time for your bullshit. I know you can hear this! Answer me you bastard!”

 

Chad’s voice was quickly growing more intense in volume and anger, it was clear the idiot wouldn’t take the hint and ring off. Not surprising really, the man was about as sutble as a bull with a red flag on its face. He still couldn’t wrap his sleep muddled mind over why Chad was ringing him at 3 am. They hadn’t parted on the friendliest of terms to put it mildly,

 

And as much as it killed him to admit it, he’d for once deserved Chad’s venom. He was the one who’d irrevocably screwed up, Chad had been the one caught in the cross-fire, not that he’d ever admit that to the bastard of course. When he and Jared broke it off, the one thing that had comforted Jensen about the whole episode was not having to deal with Chad again, especially after the last time they saw each other. Jensen still couldn’t quite get over where Chad had learnt to punch like that, but then with four brothers, it wasn’t hard to guess.

 

Sighing, Jensen shoved the covers aside and walked over to the phone, knowing Chad, even after the silence of the past few years, wouldn’t let up until he’d spoken to him. Some things never changed. There was a strange comfort in that.

 

“Listen Ackles, I’ll fucking wrench your head from your body if you don’t pi—”

 

“What’s wrong Chad? You do realize this is the crack of dawn?” He thought it best to try and keep at least some attempt at civility.

 

“Yes I fucking do,” Chad snapped, fury crackling in every inch of his voice. “I need you to get down to St. Mary’s Memorial hospital. Now.”

 

Hospital? Jensen felt his mouth go dry. That couldn’t be right, why would Chad need him to get to a hospital, especially one that was a good two hour drive?

 

“Get your brain in gear Ackles and move, I can do without your theatrics right now,” despite the snarl, there was a quiver of fear in his voice and that fightened Jensen more than anything else. An arrogant, obnoxious Chad he could deal with, it meant things were normal, but for something to scare Chad…

 

“Wait what are you talking about? Hang on, St Mary’s? Chad, that’s two horus away!”

 

“Yeah I know, so get moving!”

 

“Look you’re not making any sense! Just tell me what’s going on,”

 

Chad didn’t respond immediately, and jensen thought he could hear the air crackel with tension

 

“Chad…what’s happened?” Jensen whispered, slowly sitting down, his voice sounding strangely choked.

 

His mind scrambled to decide on what possible reason Chad would choose to ring him after all this time, and to go to a hospital of all places. Last time they’d met Chad had threatened to kill him if he ever saw him again and worse, Jensen knew he’d meant it, so it would have to be something earth shattering for him to call. That could only mean one thing...

 

There was only one person who Chad would ring Jensen about and Jensen prayed to every god and divinity he’d ever heard of that he was wrong, even as a decidedly sick feeling settled on his stomach.

 

He knew, he just knew….

 

“Just…just get down here…” Chad growled.

 

He couldn’t explain why he was so mad, Well Jensen was part of the reason, but there was more and right now he couldn’t explain it and as much as it killed him, he knew if anyone could sort this mess out, reach Jared, it was Jensen.

 

The other end was still silent. God damn it, why was Jensen still talking? Stupid fucking day-dreamer, always pondering things, weighing them up. He should already be driving to St Mary’s not asking stupid questions. He resented having to ring Jensen period, Sophia had flat out refused to ring Jensen, unwilling to leave her friend’s bedside to talk to a former friend who’d hurt one of her best friends so badly.

 

He sometimes forgot that Soph and Jensen had been friends, he’d never understood the friendship and questioned Soph’s taste, but she’d simply shot back about their failed marriage, which had shut him because there was nothing he could say about that.

 

But, she’d said, she trusted Chad’s judgement when it came to caring for Jared, and given him carte blanche to do what was needed but she couldn’t leave Jared, not right then, he’d simply nodded in understanding and Chad had left to do the dirty deed.

 

Normally, he would have taken Sophia’s attitude in good stride, after all it was how they worked, but under these circumstances... everything was a struggle and he couldn’t cope if Soph broke down too, she might be his ex-wife but he still loved her in his own way.

 

Chad was desperate and, while Jensen was one of the last people on earth he wanted to see, he was also the one person that could possibly help in this situation. And as much as Chad hated Jensen, Jared came first. He just prayed they would forgive him for this.

 

“Damn it Chad, what the hell is going on? Who’s hurt?!”

 

“…Jared. H-he tried to kill himself.”

 

TBC