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Grapes of Wrath and other Forbidden Fruit - Chapter 1

- For header and disclaimer, go HERE -



The party was buzzing with excitement. Inviting smiles were flashed over even more inviting cleavages. Champagne kept flowing which in turn led to the gossip-mill running overtime. All in all, it was what one generally called a "bang". And Jared Padalecki was bored out of his mind.

He kept tugging at the sleeves of his expensively tailored suit, more worn out of necessity than to make a fashion statement. Fact was, it was a bitch to find anything in his size.

The tall, dark-haired millionaire and, according to People, one of California's most eligible bachelors, would rather have preferred to don a tutu and perform a ballet routine in a biker bar than attend these High Society get togethers. But he had to learn quickly that it was all part of the game.

And Jared knew the value of games. After all, they had become the base of his fortune - literally - when he had turned his lifelong love affair with PlayStation into a job and subsequently a goldmine. If you were on the lookout for exciting new video gaming technology, PadAventures Enterprises, or PAVE for short, was the place to go.

Even the much-loathed parties proved to be useful as a source of inspiration. Of course Jared didn't advertise the fact that the brainless zombies in Target Practice 4 had been modelled after L.A.'s finest, currently to be found at the home of the annoying zombie king.

As if the thought had conjured him, a drunken slur of "Jaaaayyyyyred" reached Jared's ears while an arm was draped over his shoulders.

Jared gave a half-hearted nod. "Chad."

"Killer party, huh?" Question was rhetorical at best, Chad wouldn't even contemplate the idea of his parties being anything but a smashing success for all involved.

Well, if it wasn't one now, it sure will be in TP 5, Jared thought sourly. He shrugged off the offending limb. "Chad, will you excuse me for a moment, I want to say hello to some friends."

Chad nodded jovially, not even noticing the brush-off even though it was pretty much common knowledge that Jared Padalecki didn't have any friends. Except his second-in-command Tom Welling and maybe, just maybe Welling's crazy friend Rosenbaum who served as department head for research and development at PAVE. In fact, Jared had built a reputation as something of a hermit for himself.

Heaving a relieved sigh, Jared stepped out onto the terrace and breathed in the cool night air. The Murray residence was known for its beautiful gardens and lines of wild vine artfully flanked the doors.

Their sweet and slightly heavy tang made him long for home - the soft hills of Napa Valley. And among them, PadaCrest, the world-renowned winery that was the Padalecki family business for generations.

It was a place Jared had prepared and worked for all his life, always wanting to take it over someday. Unlike his brother who hadn't shown much interest in it except for the money it generated.

Of course that had changed when their father died and Jared had been named his successor. The generous amount of cash his brother would had received apparently hadn't been enough compared to the whole cake. And suddenly out of nowhere a new testament had turned up, correcting this little oversight on their father's part.

Unfortunately this one had made it into official hands first, in no small part thanks to the family lawyer whom Jared suspected hadn't been immune to a good bribe.

Back then, unbeknownst to Jared, it had sealed the deal and his righteous protestations hadn't been heard, in fact he had been called out as a liar and fraud. He had barely skirted criminal charges due to his brother supposed graciousness, but of course he'd had to kiss his inheritance goodbye.

The loss of money hadn't nearly been as painful as the loss of his home and the burning betrayal by his own brother --

"Jeff?"

Seeing as Jared had just been thinking about the bastard, hearing his name shouldn't have felt like being hit by a bucket of ice water.

The owner of the voice walked out of the shadows, and for a second Jared was sure his mind was playing tricks on him but then the vision spoke again. "Jeff? What are you doing back here already? I thought you were in Nice?"

Jared's wildly scrambling mind finally focused on three things. First, if he wasn't sorely mistaken, he just found himself face-to-face with Jensen Ackles, only child of Vermont politician and businessman Alan Ackles, and - there was the real kicker - engaged to Jared' s brother Jeffrey. Second, a few short months ago Senator Ackles had messed up the most important business deal of Jared's life. And third, little Jensen obviously had no idea just who he was talking to.

Maybe this was the most fucked up cosmic joke ever, or maybe fate, but a plan started to take shape in Jared's mind. Possibly crazy... No, strike that! Definitely crazy but for the last three years revenge had been the driving force in Jared's life, and here and now the perfect opportunity to finally get some of it might had just fallen into his lap. He'd be damned if he'd let it get away.

He presented Jensen with the huge happy-puppy smile that had once adorned his face naturally. Jeffrey had used it often enough to get what he wanted, so it only seemed fitting that Jared would borrow it now.

"I came back last night… wanted to surprise you. Had no idea you would be here though...," Jared trailed off, giving Jensen an opening to fill in some necessary blanks.

"My dad is away on some business trip to Melbourne, so he sent me around to represent him," Jensen huffed unhappily. "Even though I don't really know anyone in L.A. and you know how I am with new people."

Of course Jared didn't have the slightest idea, but nodded sympathetically nonetheless. He let his eyes trail over the other man' s shorter frame. So far he' d only seen Jensen in blurry tabloid photos, and not many of those - Ackles the younger was notoriously camera-shy.

Not that Jared blamed him because, honestly, the guy wasn't going to win beauty contests any time soon. The ill-fitting clothes he wore made it nearly impossible to get a good read on the figure underneath.

The light brown hair was too long, with bangs falling in his face, and thick, wire-rimmed glasses obscured his eyes. Pretty much the one and only striking feature in Jensen's face was a full pouty mouth that just lent itself to a certain bedroom activity.

Normally Jared would have wondered why his brother had gone for the ugly duckling, but according to Jared's sources it had been Senator Ackles who had provided Jeffrey with the money necessary to fight off Jared's secret take-over which had been months in the working.

Even though that little tidbit, just like the fact that PadaCrest was close to being bankrupt, remained a well-kept secret from both the tabloids and the business world at large.

Not above checking out the merchandise for himself, Jared was about to pull Jensen in for a kiss when he glimpsed Chad making his way over to them. Jared bit back a curse. One more "Jaaayyyyred" and he'd be done before he even got started.

He turned back to Jensen. "You wanna get out of here?"

"Um... okay?" Jensen looked a bit unsure but allowed Jared to drag him through the gardens and around to Jared's waiting Porsche. Thankfully, Jeffrey was enough of a luxury whore that Jensen wouldn't question the presence of an unfamiliar car.

Only five minutes later they were racing along the dark highway.

Jensen broke the silence. "I… um… like your new hair style. It looks… nice."

"Thanks." Jared kept his eyes on the street.

"It… it was some surprise, meeting you here tonight." Jensen smiled at him shyly.

Jared threw him a quick glance. "A good one, I hope?"

"Oh, yes, yes," Jensen hastily assured him. He ducked his head. "I… missed you."

"Me too. You don't know the half of it." Jared lowered his voice to a sultry baritone.

Jensen was picking at some invisible spot on his dinner jacket. "You hardly ever called," he said quietly.

Damn Jeff, Jared thought. The guy couldn't even play the devoted lover during their rather short courtship period. Jared had made it his business to keep informed about the coming and goings of his brother and so he knew Jeff and Jensen had met only one month before they'd announced their engagement. Papers had been calling it the "whirlwind romance".

Shortly thereafter Jeff had left, officially on some business trip, though Jared suspected there'd be less business and more fun involved.

"Sorry. I was swamped with meetings." Jared tried to keep his tone aloof, knowing Jeff, self-involved as he was, wouldn't be very apologetic in such a situation.

Apparently Jensen had already gotten to know and arranged himself with this part of his fiancé because he only sighed.

"But I'm here now and all yours," Jared said brightly. Acting like a kid that didn't know it had done anything wrong was another one of Jeff`s particular "charms".

Normally Jared would have been chagrined to see it work, but in Jensen's case he breathed a quiet sigh of relief to see the other man's exasperated smile. Jared was starting to feel a bit more confident about his ability to pull that whole scam off.

Jeff was a good enough actor to not let people see the ugly lurking behind the façade of naive charm and good looks. At least for a while. Jensen apparently had not noticed anything yet, probably viewing Jeffrey through rose-tinted glasses still.

If Jared threw in a few of his twin's mannerisms here and there and dazzle Jensen with some charm of his own, he was hoping to throw Jensen for a loop for the short time being.

They drove in silence for a few minutes until Jensen tried to kick-start the conversation again. "So where are we going? You know, my things are all still at the hotel."

"I can send someone to fetch them," Jared answered dismissively.

When Jensen looked dubious, Jared tried to play it cool. "If you don't want to stay with me..." he trailed off.

"No, no, that's fine." Jensen gave a nervous laugh. "Come to think of it, we haven't actually gotten to spend that much time together… alone, I mean. So I'd love to stay with you for a while."

The innocent, hopeful smile gave Jared a small twinge but he nodded and mustered up what he hoped was a reassuring expression. "So, which hotel are you staying at?"

Jensen gave him the name and Jared nodded. However Jensen seemed determined to wring some information from his tight-lipped fiancé. "If I'm staying with you, where am I staying?"

"I have a little beach condo close by."

"Really? I didn't know that." Jensen sounded genuinely interested.

Jared just shrugged, not wanting to invite any conversation that could land him in a minefield. His knowledge of Jeff and Jensen's apparent lack of such knowledge notwithstanding, he was still flying blind here which had its thrills but could easily lead to an ugly crash. And damn, he needed to cut back on supervising this new flight simulator game.

"You come here often?" Jensen remained undeterred in his questioning.

"Now and then," Jared answered vaguely. Then he gave Jensen a suggestive grin. "Never with such charming company though."

Jensen blushed, the corners of his mouth raising into a tiny smile. Encouraged, Jared put a hand on Jensen's thigh and gave a slight squeeze. If anything, the poor guy went even redder than before and the rest of the drive was spent in blessed silence.

About ten minutes later they arrived at the property. When Jared rushed around the car to gallantly hold open the door, Jensen gave him an odd look. Stupid, Jared thought to himself. The day his brother decided to be a real gentleman was the day he would make the flying pigs do all the work at PadaCrest.

Still, Jensen didn't say anything and when he stepped out of the car and walked to the main door, Jared noticed a rather adorable set of bowlegs that just invited some dirty thoughts about how exactly they had gotten into that state.

"Nice place, looks very homey." Jensen was looking around with interest. Thankfully Jared wasn't the sentimental type - at least not anymore. Therefore the place wasn't plastered with photos or anything else that might give him away.

The quick tour around the house concluded in front of the open guest room. "And this would be your room." Jared moved closer to Jensen and whispered huskily, "Or you could stay in mine."

Jensen swallowed visibly and Jared found himself enchanted by the dozens of tiny freckles adorning his face. Without thinking he pressed his lips against Jensen's. They were soft and pliant, opening readily for him when Jared started sucking gently on the full lower lip.

He deepened the kiss, hands roaming freely over Jensen's back and further down where they attached themselves to a surprisingly fine ass. Jensen gave a startled little squeak and disentangled himself from Jared's embrace.

"IamreallytiredyouknowIthinkIshouldgoofftobed." It came out as practically one word before Jensen fled in the room and Jared found himself face to face with a closed door, mouth agape.

Neither he nor his twin had ever lacked sexual company, be it of the female or male variety, and Jeff had taken far more advantage of that little fact than Jared had. To put it bluntly, his brother had the morals of an alley cat. And he preferred the company of like-minded individuals. Sure, the poor Ackles-guy wouldn't make the cover of GQ, but if that kiss was any indication there was definitely untapped potential.

Yet, just now Jared could have sworn the guy was still a virgin. Dismissing the thought as crazy, Jared went to work. He had a ton to prepare for the upcoming day.

* * *

Jensen blinked against the morning sun that had woken him. Taking in the unfamiliar surroundings, he panicked for a second, then everything came back. He was in Jeff's beach house. Even his suitcases had made it here already, standing neatly packed by the door.

For a second Jensen felt embarrassed by the idea that some stranger had touched his stuff and been in here while Jensen had been asleep.

Stumbling upon his fiancé had been a surprise, though not an unwelcome one. Especially since it had saved Jensen from another night of boredom and awkwardness. Jensen had never felt at home with the rich and powerful people his father associated with. Mostly he gave a pretty good impression of a potted plant whenever the old man held another one of his soirées.

Jeffrey Padalecki had changed all that. Like something out of a fairytale, the handsome millionaire had come in, all smiles and charme, sweeping Jensen right off his feet. When Jeff proposed to him, it felt like a dream.

Jensen prided himself for having a level head on his shoulders and as such didn't delude himself about his looks.

As a teenager he had been gangly and awkward, a hundred pounds soaking wet, so he had taken to wearing wide, loose clothing to hide his body.

Topping it off, his weak eyesight demanded the presence of glasses, cementing his dork status in high school. Jensen had let his hair grow out, to have one more layer to hide behind from the world.

His father was less than thrilled with such weakness, and Jensen had had disapproving looks sent his way all his life. Not that Jensen could exactly blame him. After all the man had traded in his beautiful wife, who had died in childbirth, for a son that turned out to be an all- around disappointment.

And Jensen understood very well that his father's unabashed support for his engagement to Jeff was less about Jensen's happiness than a political ploy, giving the senator the perfect couple to head his "Campaign of Progressiveness."

Of course there had always been those who sought out Jensen's company in the hopes of getting their share of his father's money and influence. Jeff was different, though, being a successful businessman himself, money wasn't an issue. And the guy was certainly hot enough to get any man he wanted.

Yet he had chosen Jensen, had assured him that looks didn't matter much anyway and that Jensen the person was the one he had fallen in love with. So what, if in this fairytale the ugly duckling never got to become a beautiful swan? At least it could be with one. For Jensen, that was enough.

He got dressed and went out in search of breakfast, following the delicious aroma of freshly brewed coffee out to the garden. A table was decked out with a variety of juices, croissants, stacks of pancakes, bacon and eggs that made Jensen's mouth water, even from a distance.

Jeffrey, currently being engaged in an animated chat on his cell, acknowledged him with a nod. In between words, he shovelled enormous amounts of food into his mouth. Jensen frowned, that was certainly odd. For such a huge guy, his fiancé had always had a very small appetite.

As Jensen came closer Jeff abruptly ended the call. At Jensen's curious look, he shrugged. "Just business." The tone was light and casual but made it clear that the topic was dismissed.

Nothing new there. Jeff had never liked to talk about his work and whenever Jensen had tried telling him about his own, the man had shown a polite interest, not more.

It irked Jensen a little. He loved being a middle school teacher, was damn proud of it, too, even though it might not be as exciting as the grand wide world of business. Or so his father was fond of saying.

Still he went over to the taller man, attempting a chaste peck on the cheek, but Jeff seemed to have different ideas. Without warning Jensen found himself grabbed, pulled onto Jeff's lap and thoroughly kissed while those gigantic paws started to wander again.

Now that was certainly new since despite their quick engangement, him and Jeff hadn't gotten much farther than what was largely referred to as mild second base - having not even taken their shirts off in each other's presence. If Jensen was perfectly honest with himself a tiny part of him had been disappointed by Jeff's lack of enthusiasm.

Nonsense, he chastened himself. Jeff's hectic schedule, hardly his fault, had made it difficult for them to spend much time alone with each other. Most likely Jeff had just taken his cues from Jensen himself, tailoring his responses to Jensen's own shyness and insecurities and being the perfect gentleman.

Jensen really shouldn't complain when it most likely had been his fault in the first place for sending out the wrong signals.

Now though, either that had suddenly changed without him knowing or absence did make more grow fonder than just the heart because the sexual appetite in his fiancé seemed to have awoken with a vengeance.

Jensen found he didn't mind, not when Jeff's tongue did that... that thing, Jensen didn't have a word for. Didn't even know if there was a word. His own tongue got in on the game, hands sliding, at first tentatively, then with growing enthusiasm over his fiancé's broad chest, shoulders and biceps. He moaned in the other man's mouth. "Jeff…"

It was like someone had flipped a switch. Jeff went rigid under him - and not just the part that Jensen had squirmed on top of for the last several minutes. Jensen pulled back slightly, still panting from the heated kiss. "What? What is it?"

When Jeff didn't say anything, just continued to stare in a way that made Jensen distinctly uncomfortable, he broke eye contact, looking down on his lap. "Did... did I do something wrong?"

Jensen mentally kicked himself for not being able to keep the hurt out of his voice. He sounded like some overeager, inexperienced teenager. Jeffrey just had this way of getting under his skin. Especially today for some reason.

Nevertheless, it seemed to bring the other man out of his trance. "No, nothing. I just... I had an idea... how about you call me Jay from now on? Could be our little thing." And the huge puppy-grin was back.

But just because Jensen was of the rather shy and quiet sort didn't mean he was stupid. He folded his arms in front of his chest, a habit he had developed in dealing with his students, which meant argument time. "Jay?"

"You know, a nickname. Short for Jeff." The grin was getting more and more strained, giving it a rather clownish appearance.

"And here I thought it stood for jay-walking," Jensen remarked dryly. "What brought this on?"

"I don't know, everybody calls me Jeff, I thought it was time for us to start our own... traditions." Jeffrey looked at him with a certain apprehension, which Jensen didn't really understand.

But then the other man, despite being two years younger than Jensen himself, was always so suave, so in control, maybe he was just unsure about letting Jensen see the more vulnerable side of him. One that was arguably slightly schizophrenic but oddly endearing nonetheless.

"Okay, Jay." He smiled, then added, dryly: "Does this mean you will stop calling me Jenny?" Jensen had asked him before to drop that particular nickname.

It had started back in pre-school because of Jensen's delicate features and reluctance to participate in the usual boys games. And he had hated the name ever since, but didn't want to make a big fuss about it after Jeff had just laughed at Jensen's awkward explanations.

"Huh?" Jeffrey looked confused.

"You know, I never liked the name all that much and seeing as we're going to do our own thing now..." Jensen looked at him, not really expecting him to go for the little trade-off. His fiancé had many good qualities but the ability to compromise wasn't exactly one of them.

So when Jeff just smiled that devilish smile of his and said, "I don't know, Jenny is kinda cute…" it didn't really come as surprise.

What did, though, was the gentle hand cupping his cheek in response to his sagged shoulders and the words that followed. "Hey… hey, I was kidding, you know. If you don't like the name I'm not gonna use it. Fair is fair."

Jensen looked up in slight shock, then broke out into a huge grin. "Whatever has gotten into you lately, I kinda like it."

For a second a shadow crossed Jeff's face before his features smoothed again. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." This time Jensen initiated the kiss. His feelings of bold debauchery, however, quickly turned to horrified embarrassment when he noticed the metallic tang that suddenly invaded the kiss.

His glasses must have slipped off and were now caught between their fused mouths. Oh god, no. Here he was, a twenty-six year old man, and he might as well be a pimply sixteen year old whose braces got in the way of their first kiss.

Jeff was never gonna let him live this down. Surely, any moment now he would break into fits of laughter. But Jensen needn't have worried for Jeff apparently was feeling much more pragmatic about the matter. He grabbed the offending glasses and put them on the table, never once stopping in his enthusiastic attempt to inhale Jensen's tonsils.

When they finally did come up for air, Jensen was sure he was sporting a huge, dorky smile of pure hero worship. Jeffrey had always been the man of his dreams but his trip to Europe definitely seemed to have put even more charming into that prince.

He was feeling so giddy in that moment, he nearly missed Jeffrey staring at him. "What? What is it?"

Jeff surprised him yet again - Jensen was starting to lose count by now - by answering in a serious, wonder-filled voice: "You have the most striking green eyes, you know that?"

Jensen swallowed thickly. Yes, if this was a dream, he never wanted to wake up.

* * *


After breakfast Jared invited Jensen for a swim. Jensen begged off at first but Jared had assured him this stretch of beach was secluded and gave him his best puppy-dog pout on top, which finally led to victory.

Little did Jensen know of course, that Jared had arranged for them to be secretly photographed. Preferably in a compromising position. Surely the tabloids would love it: "Senator's son gets friendly with future brother-in-law" or something equally tacky.

The senator's picture book couple-campaign would become a laughing stock and Jared' s brother would find himself short a rich father-in-law.

Jared felt a sting of guilt for doing this to Jensen. The guy seemed nice enough and probably would end up feeling pretty humiliated when the truth came out. Especially since by now Jared was pretty sure, Jensen didn't have any idea that money had exchanged hands over the engagement. And this way he would end up a pawn for Jared as well.

But that couldn't be helped. In the end it might even do Jensen a favour. After all, Jared himself had had to learn life's lessons the hard way and he sure was the better for it. No longer that naive kid, always ready to open his house and his chequebook to friends. Of course those same "friends" had curiously made themselves scarce when Jared had been left with nothing after Jeff's little stunt.

Jared was already reclining on a big fluffy beach towel, wearing only his swim trunks when Jensen joined him, clad in shorts and a T-shirt that appeared about three sizes too big, looking more like one of Jared's own. Nevertheless the shorts revealed some surprisingly muscular legs. Not to mention accentuating their adorable bow-legged shape.

Jared frowned. "I thought you were going to your room to change?"

Jensen looked down at himself. "I did."

"You plan to go swimming half-dressed?"

"Of course not."

Jared looked at him pointedly. Jensen blushed but squared his chin and removed the offending garments, leaving only a pair of tight black swim trunks.

What.the.fuck?

Jared was sure, there was a distinct noise from his jaw hitting the floor or the sand, as the case may be. Sure, he had already gotten in a good grope and determined that Jensen Ackles' body was probably a lot nicer than you'd expect from these baggy clothes he wore.

But before him stood a god, a young Adonis that would rival the finest statues. Whoever gave the guy fashion tips should be burned at the stake for the travesty of hiding all that.

Jared was so caught up in staring, he missed Jensen blushing ten shades of red, eyes going from confused, to hurt, to angry, until the shorter man grabbed his discarded T-shirt.

"Hey wait, wait! What are you doing?"

Jensen didn't look at him, instead jerkily putting his T-shirt back on. "I know, I'm not exactly Brad Pitt here but that doesn't give you the right to make fun of me." Then his anger seemed to deflate. "I thought... I thought it didn't matter to you. Never did before."

Meanwhile Jared wasn't sure he hadn't been transported to a parallel universe, where insanely hot people not only hid their hotness but also were in fact convinced they were anything but. Good god, what had been done to the guy?

He rose, marched up to Jensen and grabbed his chin, making Jensen look up to him. "Listen to me, Brad Pitt has nothing on you..." Pulling Jensen's struggling form into his embrace, he started showering his face with tiny kisses, carefully moving around the glasses, then further down, gently sucking at the tender spot where Jensen's neck and collarbone met.

Jensen groaned loudly at this but still remained tense in Jared's arms, so Jared gently tugged them both down till they lay on the sand with Jared half on top of Jensen.

Using this new position to his advantage, Jared's hands curved around Jensen's trim waist, lifting him up slightly to better lick wet swipes over his finely sculpted chest, arching closer and closer to the nipples. "Beautiful… perfect….," he murmured.

Jensen pushed against his chest, forcing him to let go of the enticing banquet beneath him for a moment. "What are you doing?" It was barely a whisper.

"Showing you," Jared answered.

"Showing me what?"

"How beautiful you are… how hot you make me." Jared pressed his lower body firmly into Jensen, forcing him to feel the evidence of that.

Jensen's eyes went round and a tiny "oh" escaped his lips. "I… I… thought you… because you said sex isn't that important… and it's okay if we wait… ," he stammered.

Jared had a hard time not scoffing at the idea of his brother ever taking it slow. No, it became more and more clear that the bastard had been too blind to see what kind of treasure he had inadvertently snatched. Well, Jared was no such fool. "Haven't we waited long enough?" He gifted Jensen with a sultry smile.

Jensen gulped, looking uncomfortable and Jared decided to take pity on him. Having a good time with the guy and building his confidence up a bit was one thing, pressuring him into doing something, he didn't really want to was quite another. Besides, Jared was sure the photographer he'd hired had managed a few raunchy shots by now.

Jared softly kissed Jensen on the tip of his nose. "Hey, it's okay. We can take our time." He started to rise up but Jensen surprised him by holding onto his hands and smiling shyly. "I didn't mean we have to stop altogether. I liked the kissing part of it."

Grinning, Jared lowered himself onto Jensen once more. "Really? I think we can work with that."

They didn't make it into the ocean once.

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Chapter 2