Characters/Pairings: Jensen/Jared, Chris Kane, Chad Michael Murray, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Julian Richings, Felicia Day, Steve Carlson, Mentions of Rob Benedict and Richard Speight, April (OC)
Word Count: 16,833
Beta Credit: firesign10
Summary: Jared's latest party-life transgression sends him to a new kind of rehab: equine therapy, a melding of counseling along with horse care and riding. He doesn't really care as long as he can get it done and get back to filming his new movie. He's been to rehab before and knows what to expect. What he doesn't expect is who runs the equine center—his first love, Jensen Ackles.
Jared's last day at Pegasus came. Jared wasn’t sure if he was happy or sad about leaving. So much had happened in the three months he was here.
His bags were packed and on the front porch, waiting on Chad who was late, as always. He and Jensen were finishing up lunch when Chris came in.
“Hey there. So you’re leaving today.” Chris grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down next to him. “How’s it feel?”
“Weird.” Jared took his plate to the sink and leaned against the counter. “Excited, sad…I don’t know. I don’t really know how to feel.”
“That’s normal,” Jensen said. “This place has been instrumental in getting you back on your feet. Most of our clients tell us they have mixed feelings about leaving.”
“Good to hear.” Jared poured himself a cup of coffee and sat back down. Pulling out the phone that Jensen had just returned, he made a quick call. “Hey, it’s me. Putting you on speaker.”
Jared clicked the speaker button and laid the phone on the table. “Hey, hon. Want you to meet a few friends of mine – Jensen and Chris. Guys, say hello to Paris Hilton.”
Chris’s eyes got huge and he started shaking his head. Jensen was trying not to laugh, but it wasn’t working very well.
“Hi, guys.” Paris’s voice was tinny. “Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Paris, this is Jensen. Chris is trying not to hyperventilate.”
They could hear Paris giggle through the phone.
“So, you still going to that charity auction at the Thinkery next month?” Jared winked at Jensen.
“I sure am,” she replied.
“Well, Chris is a big fan of yours, and since I had to bail on escorting you, I thought he could go as your plus one. You’ll love him. He’s a riot.”
“Oh my god, that would be perfect! Thank you so much!”
Chris choked on his coffee.
“Great. I need to step away from the phone but Chris will be happy to get the details, won’t you, Chris?”
“Uh…sure. Hi, Paris….I’m, uh, Chris.” Jared laughed as Chris glared at him. “So, when’s the event?”
“C’mon.” Jared motioned for Jensen to come outside with him. They stepped out onto the porch.
“That was awesome, you know that, right?”
“Chris deserved it and I’d promised Paris I’d find her a date that wasn’t some vapid Hollywood type.” Jared shrugged. “It’s the least I could do for him after all the trough dunking.”
They turned to the corral where April was riding Snowflake.
“I need to go say goodbye to her.” Jared frowned. “That’s going to be hard. Do you think she’ll understand?”
“Yeah. I told her mom that you would be leaving today and she’s been working with April about it.”
They walked over to the gate and entered the corral. Matt had helped April down off the pony and she ran to Jared. He picked her up and hugged her tightly. “Hey, sweetheart. How are you?”
“Sad. You’re leaving.” Her voice was sad.
“I know. I have to.”
“Momma told me.” She gripped tighter to him. “I’m sad though.”
“I am too.” Jared was at a loss as to what to say next. April’s mother thankfully stepped in.
“April, Jared is leaving because they are done helping him, and they need to be able to help other people.”
“Okay.” April placed a sloppy kiss on Jared’s cheek. “I love you, Lucas. I have to go ride Snowflake now.” She scrambled down from his arms and let Matt put her up on Snowflake’s back.
Jared turned to Mary. “That simple?”
She smiled back. “That simple.”
“So, can I call and see how she’s doing, or will that disrupt things?”
“Not as long as you call when you say you will so there’s a bit of structure.” Mary smiled. “I think she’d like that.”
“Great.” They traded numbers as a sleek black SUV drove up to the front.
Chad jumped out. “The Chadmeister is here!”
“And late as usual.” Jared walked over and gave him a bro hug. “Have you missed me?”
“Heck no! I actually was able to sleep at night.” Chad tempered the insult with a grin. He stepped back and looked Jared over. “Man, you’re looking fit. This place must agree with you.”
“Yeah.” Jared looked back at Jensen, who was leaning against the fence and watching them. “More than you know.”
Chad’s eyes widened as they followed Jared’s gaze. “Wait. You and Ackles made up? Thank god!”
“Wait what?” Jared turned back to his friend. “What do you mean, ‘Thank god’?”
“Jared, I have been wanting you to fix it with Jensen since you guys split, but every time I’d bring it up, you got all crazy. So I stopped bringing it up. Didn’t mean I wasn’t secretly hoping it wouldn’t happen.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you felt that way?”
“Because you weren’t ready to listen then,” Chad said simply. “Now you are.” He gestured to Jensen. “Hey, Jensen, you ready to offload this goofball?”
“Oh, I guess so. C’mon into the kitchen and we’ll do the paperwork.”
They headed back into the kitchen to find Chris telling Paris that he knew of a great little bar on 6th that they could go to after the auction. He finished up the call with a smile, handed Jared back his phone and said, “I gotta tell Steve,” before rushing out of the room.
Jared and Jensen smiled as Chad pulled out the paperwork from his briefcase. Jensen looked through it, signing where he needed to.
“Here’s Jared’s exit paperwork for the court. Jeff signed off on it and everything is notarized, so you should be good to go.”
“Excellent.” Chad put the papers with his file and put everything back into his briefcase. They walked out onto the porch where Jared’s luggage was waiting. “Ready to go, Jay-man?”
Jared stood frozen. No. He wasn’t ready to go. Going meant leaving April and Chris and Felicia and Apollo and most of all – Jensen.
“I -.” He started.
“Chad, can you get Jared’s bags?” Jensen spoke softly.
“Sure.” Chad paused to look at them before he took the bags and loaded them into the SUV.
“Jay, look at me.”
Jared did. “Jensen. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave you.”
“You’re not. You’re just going to work, which happens to be in another state.” Jensen caressed Jared’s cheek. “We have the tools to make this work, remember?”
“Yeah. Yeah.” Jared mentally shook himself. “We can do this.”
“We can. And Jared?” Jensen smiled. “I just signed you out of the Pegasus Center. You’re no longer a client.”
It took Jared a moment to understand what Jensen was saying, but when it registered, he grabbed Jensen and crushed their mouths together.
Jensen tasted just like he remembered, only richer and more. They kissed for what seemed like hours until Chad coughed in the background.
“Sorry, guys. We’ve gotta go. Jared has a meeting this evening with his new producers.”
“Love you,” Jared whispered against Jensen’s neck. “I’ll come back as soon as I can.”
“Love you, too. I’ll be waiting.”
Letting Jensen go was the hardest thing Jared ever had to do. He climbed into the SUV and shut the door, knowing if he looked back at Jensen he would never leave.
They drove out of the Center, down the gravel road. Jared looked out the window to see Apollo galloping along the fence, his main and tail streaming in the wind.
Jared touched the window. “Goodbye, boy. I’ll see you soon. Both of you.”
Epilogue – A year later
The winter wind blew heavily around the house, whipping through the trees like a dying animal. Jensen had the fire roaring and passed on a beer for a big mug of hot chocolate with mini colored marshmallows.
He settled himself in front of the television and turned to the E! Network. The red carpet parade didn't interest him until Jared appeared on the screen.
He looked gorgeous in a deep blue Armani tux with an open collar white shirt and - Jensen smiled at this - big Texas belt buckle and cowboy boots.
The talking head stuck a mic in his face. "So Jared, Pegasus in Flight is up for multiple awards, including Best Actor and Best Picture. This is a different style of movie than we normally see from you. What made you choose it and also produce it?"
Jared smiled that million-dollar smile that sold tickets and made women - and men - swoon. "Well, Lisa, I was honored to meet a fantastic little girl who was in the equine therapy program that the movie is based on, so I put out feelers to see if there was a script out there that would do justice to her story. I was fortunate to find Jen and Carole's script and bought the rights to it. JPad Productions produced it so we could keep creative control."
"So is it true that you did this for scale?"
"You bet. Plus my portion of ticket sales is going into a fund to cover the expenses of the families who attend the Pegasus Center to help defray the costs of treatment."
"Wow, that's amazing. Well, good luck tonight."
Jensen switched to ABC for the main award presentation. He worked on paperwork for the Center while he waited for the Best Actor category.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were the presenters, and Jared's segment came up first.
"This intimate story of an autistic girl and the determined equine therapy instructor who was instrumental in breaking through to her has won the hearts of moviegoers across the country. Here's Jared Padalecki in 'Pegasus in Flight'."
Jensen watched the clip, marveling again how wonderful Jared was in the role of Lucas Forester. The camera shot went live on Jared once the clip was over, and he smiled and blew a two-fingered kiss to the camera.
Jensen couldn’t remember the other clips; he was too nervous waiting for the results. Ryan and Emma bantered a bit, then got down to business.
“And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to…Jared Padalecki!”
The audience cheered as Jared headed to the stage, his long legs taking the steps two at a time. He grinned as he accepted the trophy.
Jensen saw him take a deep breath. “As I’m sure most of you know, last year, I made a big mistake and ended up in rehab.” The audience quieted down to really listen to him. “The Pegasus Center helped me and I knew I had to repay them somehow, and that’s how Pegasus in Flight got made. I got to play Lucas only because of the people that worked there – Jeff, Chris, Felicia and the rest of the staff, but most of all, because of Jensen. This is for you, guys. Thank you for helping me get my life back.” Jared held the Oscar up and then headed for the wings.
Jensen sat back with a grin. One down, one to go. He knew that the movie was up for several other categories, including Best Director for Tom Ford, but Jared’s categories were all he was really interested in. He finished up the files and made himself another hot chocolate. Settling down he waited for the Best Picture category, which was always the last of the night.
Then it was time. Matt Bomer and Helen Mirren looked stunning in their formal finery. They ran through the list of nominees and then held up the envelope. Jensen clutched the handle of his mug. “C’mon, Pegasus.”
“And the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture is…Pegasus in Flight!”
Jensen whooped, spilling hot chocolate down his shirt. He pulled it away from himself to avoid burning while he watched Jared hug several people as he loped back up onto the stage, where the rest of the cast and crew joined him.
“Wow, thank you all!” Jared held the Oscar and stared at it for a moment. “Pegasus in Flight couldn’t have happened without all the people you see here on stage, and all those at home who contributed. But most of all, it couldn’t have happened without a little girl named April.” Jared blew a kiss. “Hon, I know you’re not awake but your momma promised to record this for you. I’ll always be your Lucas, and I promise I’ll come visit soon. And Jensen? I love you.”
Jensen smiled as the closing music played and the credits rolled. He was so thrilled at Jared’s success. Sighing, he cleaned up the living room and stacked his files neatly on the coffee table.
Heading to the kitchen, he took a side trip to the laundry room to find a clean shirt. Quickly rinsing the mug, he grabbed a bottle of water and headed back into the living room to stoke the fire. Pulling one of the blankets off the back of the couch, he curled up under it and waited for the fire to die down.
“Jensen, wake up, sweetheart.”
“Huh?” Groggily, Jensen opened an eye to see Jared standing over him. “Wha? What are you doing home?” He sat up, rubbing his eyes. “Thought you’d be partying with the rest of the winners.”
“Had the plane on standby.” Jared smiled.
Jensen looked at him. Jared was beautiful. He’d changed out of his Armani suit into faded jeans and an old Cowboys hoodie and was holding a backpack. “Why. Didn’t you have to do after-party stuff?”
“I made the rounds, did the interviews. Don’t worry, Alaina was happy. But I wanted to bring these home where they belonged.” Jared gently placed the backpack on the coffee table and unzipped it. He took out his two Oscars and placed them side-by-side.
The gold figurines glowed in the low firelight.
“Oh my god, Jared. They’re gorgeous,” Jensen whispered. “And you deserve them so much. I’m so proud of you.”
“I wouldn’t have gotten them if it wasn’t for you.” Jared leaned forward and kissed Jensen. “Thank you so much.”
Jensen stood and wrapped himself around Jared, kissing him back with all the love he could muster. “I love you. We need to celebrate.”
“I love you too.” Jared replied with a small laugh. “But I am really exhausted. Think we can wait until morning for that celebration?”
“Absolutely.” Jensen took his hand and led him upstairs.
Tomorrow would come soon enough.