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Fic: What About Now - Chapter 4

December 17th, 2010 (12:21 am)

Title: What About Now?
Pairing: Jared/Colin
Rating: R
Feedback: NEED IT!
Disclaimer: Not true. I own nothing.
A/N: Story begins at the O2 Arena gig in London November 30th.

A/N: Dedicated in its entirety to the ever lovely and always supportive legolastariel ! Thanks for all the help with this.

Summary: Jared is fighting for his life. Colin is fighting with himself. And the press is fighting for a story.


The hours had passed them at a snail’s pace. Dawn arrived, yet there were no news. After the police officers had left, the room had descended into a heavy silence. Several people came and went, including Jared’s assistant Emma. Though it was obvious that she wanted nothing more than to stay in the waiting room with them, the amount of people who wanted statements and needed information made her very busy. She could tell them first hand of the madness outside the hospital's doors. It seemed like every Echelon in the UK was intent on showing their support, having lined the streets outside the medical center with candles, glowing triads and multiple banners. Unfortunately, along with them were rings of paparazzi waiting for anything they could print. So far, the band had only sent out a short announcement confirming the shooting. Nothing more.

They simply didn’t know more yet.

Vicki left briefly and came back with breakfast from a nearby bistro, as neither of them had any desire for the hospital's pre-prepared cafeteria food. Not a lot was eaten though. She had been kind enough to bring some for Colin, but he could not bring himself to eat anything. He had no appetite. The Irishman's mind had gone on one trip after another down memory lane, lingering on some of the defining moments of their relationship.


He had to try and figure this out. Figure them out.

Colin would say he fell in lust with Jared the moment they really kissed. The moment he allowed himself to see Jared in that light and discovered how much the other man actually turned him on. Once that door was opened, there was no closing it. But Colin could not remember when he fell in love with the singer. He already loved him as a friend. Already cared for him. It was not before he was truly let into the older man’s world, his mind, that he realized just how amazing he was.

It was the intensity he exuded when he was completely focused on a task. Whether it was figuring out the bridge to a new song – or giving an amazing blowjob – Jared had a natural passion. Watching him make dinner while listening to the radio, sometimes complaining loudly about the music these days and other times turning it all the way up, singing his heart out. Or reading a book, enjoying some rare downtime wrapped in a mound of blankets to stay warm and toasty. He loved watching him. But in the end, what stole his heart and pushed all other candidates out – possibly for good, was the open and vulnerable Jared. The man who would sometimes curl up next to him after sex and clutch Colin to him like a lifeline, as if the younger man was the only thing in this world that made sense. Or the way his eyes lit up when sharing a fond childhood memory, but glazed over with a certain devastation when talking about the trouble with crime and drugs that Shannon and he got lost in for several years as teenagers.

Jared was a hard man to get close to. He did not expose himself, trusted few and had no desire to let anyone into his heart. He kept his emotions close to his chest. But when Jared finally gave himself over to love, he did it completely and with everything that he was. But it took time.

2005

After having been together for over year, a certain stability and routine had developed. While they still fucked like bunnies when it came over them, a lot of their time was spent relaxing, draped against each other. Something Colin had come to appreciate. Unwinding after a demanding week in front of the TV, enjoying the comfortable weight of Jared in his arms. Or in bed after some slow and tender lovemaking, talking about their day or simply reveling in the easy silence.

This was a workday like most others and both had stressed since the early hours of the morning. Jared in the studio. Colin doing a casting, as well as a long meeting with his agent. They were both exhausted and had simply collapsed on the couch in Colin’s house; the Irishman spooned up behind Jared. The younger man was absently stroking the smooth skin on the Americans stomach, his hand underneath the white t-shirt. Colin’s attention was fully on the documentary about Mummies running on the telly, when Jared turned around in his arms to face him.

At first, Colin kept his eyes on the screen assuming the singer had merely turned around to get some sleep, as he often would, until he realized he was being stared at. Colin looked back as he sensed that something significant was about to happen, that Jared had something he needed to get off his chest. The man’s eyes were gazing intently at Colin, cataloguing, mapping out the Irishman’s face as if it held the answer to a question that had been plaguing the singer. He looked more exposed than Colin had ever witnessed. The usual challenge in his eyes, ready to defend his ever-challenged beliefs and dreams were absent. Jared opened his mouth to speak, but faltered and started tensely rubbing his neck with his lightly trembling hand. Briefly, Colin wondered if the singer was even aware of his nervous habit. A few seconds passed in silence, before Jared seemed to make up his mind.

“People lust for me and desire me, but they don't want me. They want my ass, my body and they like to stare at my eyes, but they don’t look into them. Don’t want to really see me.” Jared said agitatedly, frustration evident in his tone, voice exasperated, as if he was trying to make a point that somehow kept eluding everyone he wanted to convince. The continuous neck rubbing from the slender hand grew more agitated and Colin could see the skin gradually reddening. But he knew better than to stop the singer and remained silent. He knew Jared was not at all done, and if there was one thing the American hated, it was to be interrupted while laying his heart bare. Or just in general. “Thank you, for scrolling past the documentary on sharks that they were showing on the discovery channel out of respect for my fear of them. Thank you, for telling me that I could do much better when I played that new song for you a week ago, you were right. And thank you, for just holding me without asking questions whenever I fall apart a little bit, when I get a little broken. I think that…” The singer hesitated once more and his hand grew still, “what I am trying to say is, I might love you. No. I love you.” Jared paused, seemingly tasting the words in his mouth, rolling them around on his tongue.

“I. Love. You. And I need you to know that. I know I haven’t been willing to say it before and I don’t know if that’s even where you were going with this relationship, but that doesn’t make it any less true.”

For the first time, Jared dared look up. The solid challenge was back in the blue eyes, but Colin could see a clear underlying fear. Jared looked ready to fight. Ready to defend what he had just said, all too aware that he had just given someone an incredible power over him.

The power to ridicule him. The power to break his heart.

Jared had said the word ‘love’ in many contexts in his life. He told his brother often, crowds even more often. But he could not remember the last time he looked someone in the eyes, saying those three words, in that exact order, to someone he did not already know reciprocated them. He knew he was on safe ground with Shannon and the Echelon, but this... this was different. This time, he could get hurt.

'I Love You', meant too much, made everything too real, so he never dared say it. And using those words would be lying as well. He did not fall in love easily, had not been in love for possible all his life. The more he got involved with Colin, the more it dawned on him that this was love. He had truly loved Cameron, but what had motivated his love for her, was a desire for an honest shot at a normal life. As well as his sudden fear of dying alone. But it was not like this.

Nothing about this relationship was a fairytale.

It was hard work and Colin could piss him off like no other. But somehow, a part of him knew that this was how it was supposed to feel like. The dizzying heights and the terrifying lows.


Colin’s eyes had widened for a few seconds at Jared’s declaration. But to the older man’s surprise, Colin just gave him a soft and gentle kiss on the lips before drawing the singer into his embrace, muscular arms locking tightly around him. Jared had come to love the feeling of being held so securely that he was not sure where one ended and the other began. Then Colin whispered into his hair, next to his ear. “I love you too. A lot.” Like it was the simplest thing in the world. And all the tension seemed to melt out of Jared.


Colin was brought out of his thoughts by the door opening, revealing a tall man with thinning white hair. He was dressed in green medical scrubs and was wiping his hands on a paper towel. While he was visibly not a young man, he moved like one, emanating an air of levelheadedness and calm. This man seemed to be the one they had been waiting for and they all got to their feet. Shannon unconsciously took on the role as the group’s representative, walking forward and offering his hand for the doctor to shake.

“You must be Shannon Leto. I am Dr. Chambers; I was the surgeon who worked on Jared.” He gestured towards the chairs, “Why don’t we take a seat?” He waited until everyone else sat down before taking a seat himself on one of the empty plastic chairs, seemingly relieved to be off his feet.

“How is my brother?” Shannon’s hazel eyes were looking imploringly at the surgeon. Afraid, yet ready to hear the verdict. Doctor Chambers sighed and opened the chart looking it over, but judging from his demeanor he was already well aware of what it said. Resolutely, he looked up at his patient’s family and friends.

“The surgery was a success and with everything considered, he is doing okay. I’m not going to lie to you, the operation was harsh and there were quite a few moments where it did not look good. He is not out of the woods yet, but I do believe he will come out of this alive.” The surgeon stopped momentarily to take in the relief on everyone’s faces, he knew he had more to say and most of it was not pleasant, but that the singer was alive had to be the most important.

“As you likely know, Jared was struck by two bullets. The blood loss was significant and your brother required several transfusions and is still receiving more as we speak. However, so far he has reacted well and aside from a small increase in body temperature, which is normal, his response has been good.” Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their collective breaths, steeling themselves as the doctor spoke. Most had a feeling that the good news’ were not going to keep on coming.

“Now back to the bullets. One of them passed straight through, while the other had to be surgically removed. Let’s bypass the leg for now and start with the chest wound. The bullet entered his chest from the front and made a clean exit in the back, which is really the best you can hope for with this type of gunshot injury. Aside from fracturing two ribs, the trauma caused air to seep in, making the lung collapse, as well as causing a hemothorax, which is an accumulation of blood in the chest cavity. We have drained the blood and re-inflated the lung. As well as removed the damaged tissue and closed both wounds. But Jared will have to remain on a ventilator for several days, which is why we have put him in a medically induced coma. His lung needs more time to heal before we will let him breathe on his own.” Dr. Chamber’s said solemnly.

This time, Tomo was the one reaching for Shannon’s hand and the drummer provided it unflinchingly. Colin could not help but wish that he had someone to lean on as well, as the surgeon continued, “Moving on to Jared’s leg; it was our biggest concern, as well as the most time consuming part of the surgery. The bullet shattered the femur into several fragments, tore multiple blood vessels and has likely made a fair amount of nerve damage. I cannot safely say that
we have been able to save his leg, the next 24 hours will show if the blood veins are too damaged by the bullet to be able to transport blood to the lower part of your brother’s leg. If that is the case, we will have no other choice but to amputate. But so far, it is looking sustainable. How limited his movement will be is something we will have to wait and see.”

“Shit.” Shannon exclaimed, falling back in the chair. With a sigh, he ran his remaining free hand through his short hair before clutching his neck as Dr. Chamber’s went on. “We have replaced part of your brother’s femur with a metal rod, as well as inserted several pins – some that we will remove as the bone heals and some that will stay for good, if the leg survives that is.” The doctor looked up from the clipboard, and made eye contact with the members of the room. “Look, I know that this is all a lot to take in. There is no doubt that the next few months are going to be tough for Jared, but this could have ended a lot worse. Nevertheless, he will need your support now more than ever.” There was a moment of somber silence following the doctor’s announcement. No one seemed to notice the way Colin paled at the doctor’s last words.

“When can we see him?” Shannon finally asked.

“They are currently preparing your brother for the move back to the ICU. He’ll be admitted there and cared for by their team. I am going to allow visiting; however, I must insist that you give the nurses and doctors room to work. Move if they tell you to.” Dr. Chambers waited until he had received a nod from all of them, before finishing “I’ll have a nurse come in shortly and show you to his room.”

¤¤¤¤¤¤

Haiti Benefit in LA, Late January 2010

The moment Colin heard about the Haiti earthquake on CNN, Jared was the first thing that flew into his mind. Colin wondered if the reason he had been so willing to help was for Jared, as the other man obviously valued the place highly. The singer had always spoken of Haiti with an amazing fondness, as if it was a sanctuary of beauty for him during a childhood that had often been rough. Obviously, Jared would be there when Haiti needed help. And yet Colin was still shocked to see him attending. In hindsight, he really wished he had taken the time to check who would be there.

The Irishman felt a bit better when he saw the stunned look on Jared’s face, when he realized Colin was attending the same benefit as himself. He obviously had not expected this either. Jared even went as far as to turn around and step towards the exit, but came to his senses and realized he could not just storm off like that in the middle of a public event. The press would have a field day. Without turning around to look at Colin, he abruptly walked towards the panel’s chairs and took his seat.


Colin sighed, maybe it would be easier to follow Jared’s lead and avoid each other. It was not as if there was anything to say anymore.

Answering the phones was hell on the Irishman, even though he talked to a ton of nice people over the lines. Colin could not ignore that he was so close to a man who still brought out such conflicting emotions in him. It was torture. The room was filled with people, yet the tension between Colin and Jared made everyone seem invisible to them. Both were doing their best to keep busy – as well as look busy. Neither wanted to look like they were struggling with the situation.

Colin was embarrassed to admit that it had been close to 10 months, since he last laid eyes on the singer. And he did not like what he saw. Jared looked burned out. Visible dark circles stood out underneath the blue eyes, which even the mandatory studio makeup could not conceal.

Their gazes did not meet once, and yet fleeting looks were thrown across the room at every available moment. So much had happened. Colin felt weirdly culpable every time he looked at Jared. And he was angry with the American for not moving on, like
Colin had, he was supposed to be banging some blond starlet, instead of looking miserable.

Jared had relentlessly thrown himself into his career. He was skinnier than he had been in a long time, as he rarely allowed himself any breaks. The singer was more obsessed with perfecting his craft than ever before. If it would cost him his health, so be it. It was not as if anyone – other than Shannon and Tomo – would miss him if he suddenly keeled over one day. The man he thought might be the one was sitting 10 feet away from him, pretending he did not exist and had a new baby boy at home, along with a doting lover.

No, Jared was better off alone.

When the cameras finished rolling everyone got to their feet, the former lovers included. Several people moved around shaking hands, Colin among them. But Jared could not wait to get out of there and after throwing a few halfhearted waves around; he made his way out of the studio and down the hallways. He was trying to reach the parking lot, when a familiar voice made him halt in his steps.

“Jared, wait…” Colin was running, trying to catch up with the American. Jared stopped walking and turned around to face the actor, a mocking and sardonic aloofness marring his handsome features. Colin had seen the look aimed at several reporters – yet never at himself. It stung.

“Colin, do we have to do this? The whole ‘How are you? You look good!’ bullshit...” Jared snapped testily, his voice taking on a definite edge.


“Then I won’t mention how terrible you look right now.” Colin threw back. He immediately regretted his words the moment they escaped him. They were uncalled for and had to feel like a slap in the face to a man who received digs for his fluctuating looks all the time.

“No, you won’t,” Jared replied, taking a threatening step towards Colin, his voice sounding much too sweet. The glint of rage in the blue eyes told the younger man how his words were truly received. “Because you, no longer have the right to say anything like that to me.” Then continued, “And I will not mention how family life seems to agree with you. You have never looked better Colin. Seems like you made the right choice, huh?” Jared’s voice was dripping with sarcasm and distaste. Yet it was obvious that the words pained him. Because they were true. The other man looked much better than him, bringing home exactly who had needed whom the most.

“Jared...”  Colin said simply. He did not want to fight with the singer, yet the older man could push his buttons like few others. He really just wanted to have a conversation between friends, after all, that is how they started. As friends. Maybe they could go back to that.

With the mentioning of his name, some of the fight seemed to seep out of Jared. The Irishman suddenly wished the anger would come back, it was better than the cynical look that had claimed the normally lively blue eyes.

“It’s okay, Colin, we don’t owe each other anything. We never did.” Jared said, staring straight ahead, blue eyes looking through the actor. “Anyway, I gotta go, Shannon is waiting for me, so…” The drummer was actually in New York visiting friends, but here was no way Jared was going to let the other man know that.

The singer’s voice sounded completely even and Colin knew the tone well; Jared had lost whatever patience might initially have kept him. This conversation was done and Colin had better not try continuing it.


“Oh, okay. It was nice seeing you.” Colin offered, honestly.

“Yeah… it was nice.” Jared licked his lips and put on the gloves he had been clenching in his hands. With a final nod at Colin, he walked out of there, leaving the younger man in the hallway by himself.

¤¤¤¤¤¤

They followed the nurse down a long hallway, briefly halting as she pulled a string hanging from the ceiling, opening the automatic glass doors with the words Intensive Care Unit emblazoned on them for Shannon, Tomo and Colin to walk through. Vicki had asked them to say hi to Jared before leaving to inform Emma, as well as the crew who had stationed themselves at a nearby hotel awaiting news of Jared’s condition.

The nurse stopped walking and gestured to a room that had ‘Leto, Jared J.’ printed in bold letters on a slip of paper, outside the door. “He is right in here; I’ll give you guys some time with him.” She said, sending them a kind smile before leaving.

Looking into the room, it was hard to pick out Jared from the many machines. The unforgiving sound of the respirator filled the silence of the room, only broken by the ‘beeps’ coming from the heart monitor. The singer looked frighteningly small lying in the hospital bed, most of his face obscured by the tube in his throat. Despite the transfusions, his skin was pale from the massive blood loss. A lump of bandages wrapped around his chest, keeping his ribs in place, was visible through the thin hospital gown. Most obvious though, was the complicated traction keeping Jared’s right thigh elevated above him. An odd-looking plastic cuff connected to several wires was wrapped around the singer’s ankle, another was attached to his toes, seemingly sending information to a small apparatus that according to the screen, was measuring the pulse and blood pressure in Jared’s damaged leg.

Shannon walked in and immediately pulled a chair up to his brother’s bed before taking the singer’s limp hand into his own. Careful of the IV tube attached to it providing fluids, blood and probably sedatives as well, Shannon rubbed the cold fingers with his own, trying to warm up the clammy skin. The drummer could not help but be reminded of the many occasions where he had warmed up Jared’s hands, or even his brother’s feet. The singer had always been easily affected by the cold. Shannon did not even notice Tomo dragging a chair next to the drummer’s and wearily sinking down into it. The older brother settled in for a long wait, completely ignoring everything around him in favor of watching Jared’s face.

The steady beeping from the heart monitor, accompanied by a rhythmical wheezing from the ventilator, setting off the intervallic rising and falling of Jared’s chest, seemed to fill the room completely. The older man’s breathing seemed too regular for Colin, the motion of the lungs seeming forced.

He sat down in a plastic chair placed a few feet away from the bed. At the moment he was perfectly content to gaze at his ex from a distance, giving the better seats to Jared’s band mates. From the look of his leg, it was a mess. They kept it raised in an attempt to control the swelling. The amount of damage broke Colin’s heart.

What if Jared would never be able to use his leg again? Would he even want to perform on stage, if he could not jump around and climb things?


Though the doctors did not appear to be overly worried anymore, nurses kept popping in; one was currently taking notes on a clipboard while watching the heart monitor. After all, Jared was doing fine – at least for a man who had undergone severe physical trauma, followed by eighteen hours of extensive surgery. There was not really anything that could be done now, other than wait.

Colin too, was reminded of the many times that Jared had snuggled up against him, trying to gain some of the Irishman’s precious body heat.

“Can we give him another blanket? He needs another blanket. He’s always chilly. Please, get him one more?” Colin spoke up, addressing the nurse who was in the process of checking Jared’s blood pressure. She nodded sympathetically and left to get one more. Colin slumped back in the chair, willing the tightness in his own chest to go away as he watched the singer’s assisted breathing.

Tiredly, they all watched the green line on the monitor rise consistently and took comfort from the steady ‘beeps’ filling the room.

Telling them all they needed to know, all that mattered right now.


¤¤¤¤¤¤

TBC 

Comments

Posted by: shiralyndee (shiralyndee)
Posted at: December 17th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)

OMG!!! please keep the chapter's coming!!! I love the way you write:)

Posted by: Kayden (bouncinggoat)
Posted at: February 18th, 2011 06:13 am (UTC)

Thank you so much! Don't worry, this has become my baby so you'll definitely see more from it in the future ;D

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