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Grapes of Wrath and other Forbidden Fruit - Chapter 4

- For header and disclaimer, go HERE -

Jared's jaw clenched upon seeing his brother's Ferrari in the driveway of the Ackles' mansion. After nearly a week spent in utter misery, when Jensen hadn't returned any of his calls, Jared had been ready to throw in the towel, burrow himself back in his work and forget the whole sordid affair. Then yesterday Tom and Mike had showed up at his L.A. apartment, tag-teaming him.

The whole thing was a bit of a blur, but Jared seemed to recall Mike hitting him with a rolled up copy of the Inquirer at some point. Fitting, really.

Surprisingly it had been quiet, easy-going Tommy who had given Jared the harshest verbal thrashing. "You are a damn coward, you know that, Jared Padalecki? He is the best thing that's ever happened to you and way to good for your ass after the stunt you pulled, but if you love him, damn well fight for it."

And now Jared was here, in Vermont, right in front of Jensen's family home. Just a few feet away from Jensen… and Jeff. He hadn't expected that, although he really should have. His brother had always had a knack for showing up at the most inopportune moments.

What would they be doing now? Would Jeff play the enraged fiancé that had been cheated upon? Or had they kissed and made up? Were they celebrating their reunion right now? Images of Jensen and Jeffrey appeared in Jared's mind, torturing him.

For a second he was tempted to throw his Porsche in reverse and drive all the way back to L.A. But Tom was right, he owed it to Jensen and himself to try one more time and right this mess. Taking a deep breath, he got out of the car and went over to the house, ringing the doorbell.

He looked up, regarding the house, thinking it seemed not exactly a place that made you feel welcome. Everything was in meticulous shape right down to the perfectly manicured lawn in the front, but it didn't radiate any warmth. Jared shuddered at the thought of Jensen growing up behind these walls.

When nothing happened, Jared pressed the little button again. Still no answer. He frowned. If Jensen had given directives to the house personnel to just ignore Jared, this whole making amends thing would be a lot harder than he'd imagined.

He tried the doorbell one more time, then resorted to hammering against the polished wooden frame. "Come on, open up. I'm not leaving."

Finally, the door was opened a little, and an annoyed face peeked out at Jared. A matronly-looking woman in a crisp black and white housedress looked at him, gasping as she recognized his face. "Sir, please leave the premises. Mr. Ackles doesn't want to see you."

That said she quickly tried to close the door again, but Jared was prepared, planting his foot in the open gap. Next he used his superior weight to basically propel himself into the house, leaving the poor woman no chance but to step aside if she didn't want to be crushed.

She gasped in outrage. "Sir, I'm going to call the police. Please leave now."

Jared remained steadfast, the best way to deal with unwilling people, he had found, was to simply steamroll over them. It worked wonders while doing business. "Not until I've talked to Mr. Ackles. Where is he?"

"Mr. Ackles already has company." The woman pointed out to Jared sharply.

Jared felt his hands balling to fists. "Alright, then where are they?"

The woman threw a nervous glance in the direction of a big wooden door at the end of the corridor, and Jared followed her eyes. "In there?" He didn't wait for confirmation but quickly strode over to the room in question.

"You can't just… Sir… Siiiir… " the woman called after him helplessly.

Unperturbed Jared ripped open the doors and came to a sudden halt. Right there on the floor, his deepest nightmare was coming to life - Jensen and Jeffrey locked in a heated embrace. His brother had already managed to open Jensen's pants and drag them over his narrow waist.

Jared's first instinct was to run. Obviously Jensen had made his choice, and he had chosen Jeffrey. But something didn't add up in the picture.

His twin brother sported a look of pure shock rather than the smugness Jared would have expected, given the situation. Jensen on the other hand looked dazed, head lolling from side to side, eyes unfocused. Still, he seemed to struggle weakly against Jeff's much bigger form holding him down.

"What is going on here?" he asked, a terrible suspicion starting to form in his brain.

"Jared," his brother spat out his name venomously. "This is a private party, and you weren't invited."

Jared closed the distance to the couch with three long steps, only now seeing a thin line of blood that ran from the corner's of Jensen's mouth. Enraged, he grabbed a fistful of Jeff's shirt and dragged him off of Jensen. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

Jeff's features twisted into an ugly sneer. "Nothing the little slut didn't ask for."

After that Jared didn't remember much, just a red haze that muted out everything else. Eventually he came to his senses to find his brother a whimpering, bloody mess on the floor, and the woman who'd opened the door on him, Jared guessed her to be the housekeeper, screaming her head off. The sound that really pierced the fog in his brain, though, was Jensen's confused whisper of "Jay?"

Quickly Jared strode over to Jensen and lifted him up, depositing him gently on the couch. He tenderly touched Jensen's face. "Jen? Jensen? Can you hear me?"

Clouded green orbs blinked back at him. "Jay?" Jensen asked again.

Carefully examining, Jared's fingers soon felt a swelling on the back of Jensen's head. Probably a concussion, he thought. Jared turned around to the still screaming woman and called to her sharply: "For godssake stop screaming and call 911, would you?"

She glanced at the fetal form of his twin and Jared bellowed: "Not for him, for Jensen. Can't you see he's been assaulted?"

Wringing her hands, she finally went over to a sleek black phone on the desk, dialed and started talking in hushed tones. Jared didn't really listen, he was too focused on Jensen. Gently, he went to redressing the other man as best as possible.

A short time later a grey-haired man dressed up in a golf outfit, who introduced himself to Jared as Dr. Michaels, arrived. Apparently he was the Ackles family's private doctor. He quickly confirmed Jared's suspicion that besides some heavy bruising on his wrists and thighs, Jensen had suffered a concussion. Most likely due to his head being slammed into the hard floor.

It had taken everything in Jared not to pounce on his currently-sobbing-in-the-corner brother again after the revelation of that information.

However, Dr.Michaels had assured Jared that Jensen wouldn't suffer any lasting after-effects and be back to his old self by morning. He administered a mild sedative and asked that someone were to stay with Jensen during his sleep, not that Jared had needed much prompting.

The housekeeper, Mrs. Robbins as Jared had learned, had spluttered some token protest but hadn't put up too much resistance when Jared insisted on his staying. Mainly Jensen's positive reaction to Jared's presence had gone a long way in convincing both her and the doctor.

Only after Jensen was taken care of, Jared grudgingly allowed the doctor to check on the still sobbing Jeff. Jared's fists had done quite a bit of damage but nothing was broken, luckily in the doctor's opinion, not so luckily in Jared's.

Michaels had agreed to drive Jeff over to the hospital. He'd asked Jared about notifying the authorities, but reluctantly Jared had to admit it wasn't his place to decide. If Jensen would want to press charges against Jeff for attempted rape, it was fine with Jared however. He'd long since overcome any lingering sentimentalities when it came to his brother.

When everybody besides Jensen and Jared had left the study, the room fell quiet. The old grandfather clock in the corner producing the only sound.

Mrs. Robbins had given Jared a blanket that he now used to cover Jensen's sleeping form with. He curled down on the floor beside the couch, oblivious to the strain it would put on his back and legs and put his head next to Jensen's on a pillow, waiting for morning, their fingers intertwined.

* * *

Jensen slowly came to with a few startling revelations. He had apparently slept in the study, two, he wasn't alone and most importantly, his head was killing him. His eyes fasted on a very familiar face next to his own.

The hair was matted against the pillow, and at this angle it was impossible to tell, but for some reason Jensen knew it was Jared sleeping, half curled up on the floor, half draped over the couch. Jared, and not Jeff.

Yet Jensen distinctly recalled that it had been Jeff whom he had talked to last night. They had fought, and then Jeff had jumped him. After that pretty much everything turned hazy. There were fleeting images of hands touching him when he didn't want them to and Mrs. Robbins screaming like that one time she had spotted a mouse.

But Jared had been there too, hadn't he? Yelling? He certainly was here now, and it all felt terribly confusing to Jensen. He brought one hand up to his face, rubbing over it tiredly. The motion must have woken Jared because his eyes shot open, and he looked at Jensen worriedly. "Jen? You alright"

Jensen tried to clear his head once more. This whole thing, them being here together, felt so surreal after everything that had happened. Maybe he was simply losing his mind. Still, sitting up slightly, he nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine."

Jared swallowed, due to his freakish height their eyes were practically level. "I am not …"

"You are Jared, I know."

"You remember?" Jared gave him an uncertain look.

"No, actually I don't but I guess I'm learning to tell you apart now." Jared said nothing so Jensen kept talking. "So what are you doing here?"

"I came by yesterday to talk to you and I found you here… with Jeff," Jared started haltingly, "you seemed strange, out of it and I…" He stopped.

Jensen gingerly touched a hand to the back of his head. "He… he tried to kiss me and I didn't want him to. He hit me and… and I tried to fight him off. Then … everything starts fogging up. I… did… did he?" He gestured down at himself hestiantly.

"No," Jared was quick to assure him. "No, I caught you before..." Jared coughed.

"Looks like you saved me again, hm?" Jensen asked dryly.

Jared looked away. "Doctor Michaels came by and checked you over. He said you had a concussion but that you'd be fine." Jared swallowed. "We haven't called the police yet but when you're ready to give your statement…"

"My statement?" Jensen frowned.

"Yeah because of…you're not gonna press charges? He tried to rape you." Jared looked agitated.

Jensen chuckled hollowly. "Allow me some time to think here, it's a lot to digest at once."

Jared appeared chastened. "Sorry, you're right."

"Why are you here?" Jensen looked at Jared with a sudden interest.

"The doctor said someone should stay with you so I… " Jared started to explain.

"No, I mean why did you come here?"

"I… wanted to talk to you. Apologize." Jared looked at him hopefully.


Jared fidgeted with the blanket covering Jensen. "I… I wanted to make things right between us."

"But why, Jared? You got what you wanted from me, what's it to you?"

"I… " Jared started hesitantly. "I care… about you, Jen. What you think of me. And I miss you. Harley misses you."

"How is Harley?" Jensen asked distractedly.

"Physically she is fine but she… keeps looking for you all over." Jared attempted a smile.

Jensen nodded. "She'll get over it."

"Maybe she doesn't want to." Jared looked at Jensen imploringly.

"We still talking about the dog?"

"Jen, I don't know what to say here, I know I screwed up, believe me, I do. But if you let me, I can make it up to you again."

Jensen bit his lip. "All you ever did was lie to me. I was just a pawn to you. How can you make this right again, Jared?"

Jared looked shamed. "I can't. Can't undo the past but I… If you give me another chance I would… " he trailed off.

"Would what?" Jensen inquired.

Tentatively Jared reached out his hand to cover Jensen's. "I would treat you right this time."

Jensen sighed. "It wasn't you treating me badly, Jared, in fact it was the opposite, and that's the problem. None of it was real. The looks, the touches, the… none of it."

Jared shook his head vigorously. "That's how it started, but the longer we've been together, the more real it got."

"Didn't stop you from publishing the photos," Jensen pointed out tiredly. He would have loved nothing more than to believe Jared right now. To close his eyes and pretend his way right back into the fairytale.

If one thing had been made abundantly clear last night, it was that his feelings for Jeff had been a smokescreen, never that deep to begin with even though Jensen hadn't known that earlier. Jeff's betrayal, the unspeakable thing he had tried to do to Jensen left him angry but not hurt.

Not in the way Jared had managed to hurt him. In those short two weeks Jensen hadn't grown to love Jeff more - he had grown to love Jared in the first place.

Now in hindsight, Jensen was astounded how he could have ever gotten fooled by Jared's act. The two brothers were so different, the only thing they had in common really was their looks and the fact that they'd both used him.

"That morning after we…you know," Jared cleared his throat, "That morning I decided to tell you the truth and to destroy the pictures."

Jensen snorted. "Mightily convenient."

"I know you probably don't believe me. It's a lot to ask. But please tell me what I can do to make it right? Tell me and I'll do it." Jared implored. "I'll… I'll even give Jeff the money he needs to keep PadaCrest if you want. Or I'll…" Jared started to babble but Jensen covered his mouth, looking at him earnestly.

"You'd do that? Give up on the winery? I mean that's what you wanted, right? What you were after in the first place?"

Jared nodded, looking down. "Yes. You know, it was him and not me who forged the testament, making himself out as successor?" He gave Jensen an imploring look, obviously intent on willing to believe him at least in this matter.

Jensen nodded. He understood now. "Everything he said you did, it was him, wasn't it? And you wanted revenge." He didn't state it as a question, and Jared didn't take it as one.

"It was all I wanted… for a long time." Jared looked up at Jensen pleadingly. "But if you want me to let it go, if that's what it takes to convince you, Jen, I will."

Jensen was torn. If Jared played him again, he knew it would crush him irreparably. On the other hand, if Jared was telling the truth, Jensen's best chance of happiness might very well walk out the door, never to come back. Oh, what the fuck. All his life he'd been toe-ing the line, never taking any risks.

He gave Jared a hesitant smile. "I'm gonna give you a second chance, Jared Padalecki. But so help me god, if you disappoint me again, I'll take the largest kitchen knife I can find and cut off that huge monstrosity you call…"

Jared's lips cut off what Jensen was about to say. He leaned back again and looked at Jensen, his eyes conveying his next words. "I love you, Jensen Ackles."

Jensen took a deep breath. "I… love you too."

Jared threw his head back and gave a relieved laugh, loud enough to bring a worried Mrs. Robbins running into the study but upon seeing, what the two men were currently doing, she quickly fled again.