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This Is Where the World Drops Off

Jensen's pretty much always hated rain, and Pittsburgh seems to be rain, rain and for variety some more rain. Yeah, he's exaggerating and there are days that seem to be much warmer with no threat of the skies opening above him, but on the whole? Wet, cold, miserable.

It's not ideal for him. He loves hot, hot sun and shoes that don't get soaked with the rain. And sure, Vancouver isn't exactly perfect for him, either, but it's just so much more familiar to him. If he wasn't enjoying this project so much, he knows he'd be really depressed. As it is, he's feeling more than a little homesick, and it's just as well he has Kerr there with him, or he'd be spending all his off-time missing his family, fantasising about sitting on the deck with the sun beating down on him: a Dos Equis in one hand and gorging himself on his Dad's spicy-as-the-bowels-of-hell chilli and his Mama's home-baked cornbread.

This is a great project though, and to be perfectly honest, one of the main reasons he took it was to exorcise the ghost of Devour. This movie knows what it is: unapologetic, gory cheese, but with a decent script and some great actors to work alongside. And of course the technology geek in him is doing backflips over getting to do 3-D.

Jared ribs him about it constantly. Jared gets to fight Jason, as he's more than happy to point out in copious texts and emails and phonecalls, and Jensen's "ugly face gets immortalised in 3-D. That's way scarier."

Jensen is pretty sure he'd bet a million bucks on the fact that when Jared says "fight" it means "gets ass kicked by" anyway.

He's two weeks into filming when he realises he hasn't actually heard from Jared in over a week. At first he thinks maybe he's been too busy with filming, but then he remembers Jared telling him he had a couple days off to go see his sister graduate. That was a week ago, and that's just weird.

"You two are way too co-dependent, you know." Danneel's right, of course, and although she's on the phone and can't see him, he nods. Jensen always has a habit of forgetting that he's actually not in the same room as people when he's talking on the phone.

"Yeah, I know, baby." Jensen's staring at the last email he got from Jared, on May 15. Some random, three-line email about how he really has to learn to not drink wine on an empty stomach, and he's cutting out all alcohol anyway because he wants to maintain 3% body-fat.

Jared's obsession with his body scares Jensen sometimes. There's such a thing as being too dedicated, and sometimes Jensen feels like it's taking him over.

But hell, he looks amazing, Jensen figures, so who cares what he thinks?

"Hey!" Danneel snaps in his ear, "are you even listening to me, Ackles? Or are you, y'know, obsessing over why your heterosexual life-partner isn't calling?"

"I was drifting." Jensen admits, "I'm sorry, baby. But... have you spoken to Sandy? Maybe she knows what's up?" He knows something's wrong here. It's Jared, and if he knows anyone better than he knows himself, it's that kid. And yeah, he's pretty much going to obsess till he can find out what the hell is going on with him. It's all knotting in his stomach and giving him major feelings of dread, and he has no idea why.

"Oh for fuck's." She takes a deep breath. "You're not going to let this go, are you, OCD-boy? I will call her, because I am just. That. Awesome."

Danneel hangs up before he can tell her exactly how awesome she is, and Jensen has to kick himself because he isn't meaning to go all 'Bros before hos' on her. He's lucky she is who she is, because he sure as hell wouldn't have expected Joanna or Tania to cut him the same slack Danny's cutting him.

She calls him back an hour later. "Okay, so, you were right. I think Jared's avoiding you."

Jensen rubs the bridge of his nose, he's got one hell of a headache coming on and he knows who's caused it. "Why? What the fuck is going on? You talked to Sandy?"

"They." She pauses. "They broke up."


"Yeah, that was my reaction too. Look, I didn't want to press her on the details, but she said it happened at Megan's grad thing." Danneel's voice is all raw, and he guesses she's probably been crying. "I'm gonna go now, call me later, okay?"

Jensen mumbles something in response and ends the call. He doesn't even know what the fuck to say in response. It's like a punch to the gut, finding out this way and he has no fucking idea why Jared hasn't told him. More than that, it hurts that Jared hasn't come to him with this.

But that's just so typical of Jared. The fucker's main coping mechanism is avoiding until he can't anymore and until everything falls apart in a big, violent, messy way. Jared'll be wanting to repress severely, given that he still has a month of filming left, and talking to Jensen means having to be honest.

He types a very to the point email, and hits send before he changes his mind:

Hey asshole

Remember when I was your best friend who you could come to with anything? Well, that better not have changed just because you've turned into some massive, roided-up freak who gets his ass handed to him on a plate by Jason Vorhees.

I know, okay? So you can stop being a WASP and just fucking call me or whatever, before I have to fly to Austin so I can beat the crap out of you.

PS: Kerr says your movie sucks bigger than Jason in Space, motherfucker.


Jared texts him five minutes later, saying he'll call him tomorrow, and Jensen finally feels like he can relax.

* * *

Jared says he's "fine". Which is such typical Jared-code for "I'm falling apart on the inside", but Jensen doesn't push it. He understands how much it must suck to have a movie riding on his name while he's going through such a massive upheaval in his personal life.

Then the shit hits the fan.

Jensen pretty much hates the internet. It's great for when he needs to google or Wikipedia shit, or spend hours of his down-time on YouTube. But when the subject of crap on the internet is him? That's when he wishes the damn thing didn't exist.

This time though, it isn't about him at all. It's about Jared.

So he does the thing every Texas boy would do in such a fucked-up situation. He calls his Mama.

After he's managed to convince her that he has been eating properly, and wrapping up warm, and making sure he's getting enough sleep, he gets around to the topic of Jared and the giant clusterfuck of a weekend the guy has coming up.

So he manages to convince his mama and his dad to show up and support Jared. To present a united front, and if he has a moment of thinking that Jared's a big boy and why would he need anyone else to look after him, then he certainly doesn't pay it any mind.

After all, Jared can laugh it off all he wants, but having to announce his break-up to a room full of hyped-up fangirls? That's gotta suck, no matter which way you slice it.

Danneel spends the weekend with Jensen. He starts filming at 2pm both days, so they leave the Do Not Disturb sign up and order breakfast in bed. She's so beautiful, so goddamn sexy it takes his breath away sometimes, and he fucks her, slow and sweet and tries not to think about how if he was in Dallas right now, he'd be mocking anyone making Jared feel uncomfortable, and getting him well and truly fucked-up between panels.

If Dean were there, he'd be perving on Jensen's girlfriend and telling him to control his OCD.

* * *

He gets a phonecall from Martin, a week before they wrap in Pittsburgh.

"Hey, Jen. Look man, I'm sorry to have to do this over the phone but we got an offer on the apartment we're gonna go with."

"Oh," Jensen bites his lower lip, "that's cool, man. Always knew this was a temporary deal. When do you need me to move out?"

"Well," Martin hesitates, and Jensen starts to feel really fucking nervous, "that's the thing. We kinda need you out by the end of the month. I'm sorry, Jen, I know that's shitty notice."

"Nah, seriously, it's cool. I'll get onto it, just gimme a few days and I'll get back to you."

But it couldn't be any further from cool. Sure, Jensen's been expecting this for a while, but the timing couldn't be worse. He has Season Four shooting starting in less than a month, and moving on top of that's time and brainspace he can't handle until he's done with My Bloody Valentine.

He's bitching about it to Jared later that night. Jared's more than a little distracted with googling baby names for Jeff. The baby is due any day now, and it's just another thing to occupy Jared's mind while he isn't filming. Jensen knows he's going to have to bring it up soon, because Jared sure as hell isn't dealing with the Sandy situation at all: he's gone from filming to hanging with his sister, to filming, to the Dallas Con back to filming to preparing to be Uncle Jared, and when filming's over in a few days he really will be Uncle Jared, and Jensen knows that none of this is allowing him any kind of closure whatsoever.

"Amelia Anne. That's pretty." Jared clucks his tongue, "sorry. Where was I?"

"You were being the supportive best friend. I gotta tell ya, Jay. You kinda suck at it."

"Sorry, sorry. Just distracted." He makes a low, humming sound, and yells, "Aha!" At the same time, there's a loud bang in the background. Probably Jared's hand on the table, or something like it.

"Aha, what? You find a good boy's name? I hear Jensen's really in this year."

"Pffft. Like I'd want to curse my nephew with that stupid-ass name?"

"Oh because Padalecki isn't a curse all on its own?"

"Hilarious. Anyway it isn't a boy. They already took the test to find out. It's a girl for sure." Jared pauses, brain moving faster than his mouth. That happens a lot. "So that wasn't what I was thinking about, anyway, idiot. I was thinking that you can move into my place. It's the perfect solution."

"I. Perfect? In what universe?"

Jared laughs, "C'mon, man. It's simple: you need a place, I've got room downstairs. It's not like I'll have San, er, I mean anyone else staying over, or anything." He pauses, and Jensen can hear how hard it was for Jared not to say Sandy's name. How unnatural it was for his lips not to make the word in full. "So. um, yeah. It'll make carpooling easier and shit, and give you enough time to find your own place, or whatever. And don't worry about the living together part, we'd be fine."

Jensen wonders how much of this is Jared not wanting to be alone, and that makes his chest ache out of sympathy for his friend. But he has a point, and besides, this way Jensen can keep an eye on him so that when the cracks begin to show? Jensen is there to help patch them up.

"Sure. Sounds perfect," he says, "thanks, Jay."

Jensen moves his stuff in to the downstairs bedroom while Jared is in Australia. It doesn't feel at all strange. That's probably the weirdest part of the whole thing.

* * *

By the time Jared gets back from Sydney, Jensen's been well and truly moved in for a few days. Tyler'd left the day before, and Jensen had spent the entire day playing with the dogs, with breaks for food and beer, and his obligatory nightly phonecall to Danneel.

"So I see you've made yourself at home, then?" Jared beams down at him. Jensen is on the sofa with Harley and Sadie both sprawled on top of him. Harley is snoring and Sadie is just staring up at Jensen with those eyes of hers and the cuteness kinda makes him want to cry.

"Man, you are the biggest sap I've ever met," Jared yells from his bedroom, "she's got you wrapped around her paw, Jensen, you are in so much trouble. I hope you're never having kids, it'd be a disaster!"

"Yeah, yeah. Bite me."

Jared comes back into the living room with a couple of kangaroo chew-toys and within seconds, the dogs are up and jumping in front of him, "Yeah, yeah. Y'all are just happy to see me because I come bearing gifts. Didn't take long to forget about me and put ol' green eyes in my place, did it?" He drops to his knees and snuggles both of them, "Shameless sluts, the both of you."

Jensen grins. Seeing Jared with his "babies" always floors him. It pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the guy without ever engaging him in conversation: physically affectionate, likes to play, needs love, fiercely loyal.

Sadie's taken her new toy into the corner where she's happily slobbering all over it, and Harley takes advantage of Jared's lapse in concentration to topple him backwards. He's licking Jared's face, and Jared just lies there and lets him, his t-shirt riding up to reveal his belly. Or lack thereof it, because Jared's obviously been working out like a madman.

"Man, that's some serious twelve-pack you've got going there, son." Jensen gets down on the floor and pokes at it, he kinda feels like a bit of a pudgy slob when he compares himself to Jared; he couldn't get abs like that if someone paid him to.

"Uh, you done perving on my stomach, Jensen?" Jared laughs, "wanna lick my face next, too?'

Jensen looks down and realises his fingers are still absently touching Jared along the delineation of his muscles, and he pulls his hand back. "Sorry," he mumbles, it's something he's never given too much thought to, the fact that when he's with Jared, his sense of physical proximity goes right out the window. Jensen's never been much of a physical guy, something he can probably thank his family for if he thinks about it too closely, but Jared seems to make him behave completely differently.

Jared's pretty much the exception to every rule.

"Hey, it's cool." Jared is grinning even wider now, "I get that I'm irresistible."

"You're a fucking Jackass, that's what you are."

Jensen gets up and walks to the cooler to grab the two of them a beer, rubbing his palms on his jeans. They're drenched with sweat, and he doesn't want to think about why. He grabs the beers and uncaps them, using the Impala bottle-opener the props department made him for his birthday.

"They don't know," Jared says softly behind him.

Jensen jumps a little, nearly spilling the beers. He passes one to Jared.

"Don't sneak up on me like that, man, you nearly gave me a fucking heart attack." He takes a sip of his beer; it's icy-cold and just what he needed, "who don't know what? I don't do cryptic, you know that."

Jared drains half of his beer in one shot. "The dogs. They don't know she isn't coming back."

He sounds so lost then, like he's a kid, and it makes Jensen put his beer down and squeeze both of Jared's shoulders.

"I'm sorry, man. Anything you need me to do?"

Jared bites his lip, and takes a deep breath in. Then his face changes: expression going from grief to neutral, to something Jensen can't put his finger on. Jensen's seen that transition a thousand times, when Jared's going from Sam to Jared and back again, on-set. It's a little disconcerting to see his best friend using it in the middle of a real conversation, though.

"You know what?" Jared drains the rest of his beer, 'let's go out tonight. I'm thinking... shots at Bar None and maybe some champagne. Celebrate my new roommate moving in."

Jensen wonders if this'd be a good time to call Jared on what just happened, but he figures it might do more harm than good.

Instead, he just nods, and feels his chest tighten when Jared smiles.

* * *

Jensen hates Bar None. It's one of those places that are way too hip for their own good, and the only reason half the people go there is to be seen, or to maybe see if they can snag themselves a celebrity. The music sucks too. Jensen loathes house music.

Maybe he's getting bitter in his old age. He used to love clubs like this when he was working on Dark Angel.

Jared, of course, thinks Bar None is great. Perfect for drowning himself in: too many people, too much alcohol and the loud thump-thump-thump to drown out any questions Jared doesn't want to answer.

They pick a red velvet booth in the corner and Jared puts down his black card to start a tab. Jensen rolls his eyes, Jared obviously has it in his head that tonight he's going to be 'Jared Padalecki – CW Celebrity and PartyBoy' and before Jensen can say "contender for Rosenbaum's crown", Jared is ordering a bottle of Patron and two shotglasses on VIP Table Service.

"Are you insane?" Jensen massages his temples with his thumbs; he can sense a migraine coming on if this keeps up, "first you put your fucking black Amex down which, I gotta say, is one of the most obnoxious things you coulda done. And now you're doing Table Service?"

"And..." Jared sinks back in his seat, "the problem with that is...?"

"You're being a dick. And an attention-whore at that. Do you want to be the next fucking blind item for The Awful Truth?"

Jared shrugs, "I really don't give a shit, man. What have they got on me? 25 years old and likes to spend the money he earns when he's not working 14 hour days? Oh my God, what a fucking scandal."

"I just meant."

Jared cuts him off, "Yeah, I know what you're getting at, Jen, believe me."

Jared's jaw is clenched, and Jensen wants to kick himself. He agreed to going along with this, knowing exactly why Jared was suggesting a night out. Besides, it's not like he hasn't been guilty of obnoxious, celebrity-crap behaviour in his time.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that Jared's that much younger than he is.

I have another half a dozen or so that are really, really awful and also a Samcentric coming of age fic which is about 14k, which I would have to split to post here. However, if anyone wants to see it let me know. I will quite happily PDF and upload it.
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April 2017


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