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Fic: What About Now - Chapter 6

Title: What About Now?
Pairing: Jared/Colin
Rating: R
Feedback: Need it!
Disclaimer: NOT TRUE, and hopefully most will never ever happen. I own nothing.
A/N: Story begins at the O2 Arena concert November 30th.
A/N 2: Dedicated in its entirety to the ever lovely and always supportive legolastariel ! Thanks for the help with this.

A/N 3: I’m still out of the country for some much needed r&r. Will answer all your lovely comments and emails the moment I’m back home :)

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




Shannon was jarred out of his light dozing by the familiar voice that still sounded like an echo from his childhood, resonating from the hallway. Jumping out of his seat he gave his brother a careful peck on the cheek, before storming out of the room to reach her.

The small woman’s usually modest demeanour seemed frenzied and angry. Like that of a mother, having reached the end of her rope and therefore unwilling to deal with any bureaucracy.

“Just let me see my son! Jared Leto! Yes, I am his mother, what more proof do you need? Just call Shannon Leto he can vouch for me, I assure you, please…”

“Mom!” Hearing the voice of her oldest calling to her, the anxious mother whirled around from the nurse she had been trying to persuade. Without sparing the obnoxious woman another glance, Constance immediately made her way towards Shannon, greatly reassured to see a familiar face and be reunited with at least one of her children. 

If it had been any other day, Shannon would have cringed in shame at his ‘little boy voice’, but he had never been more relieved to see his mother. Had never needed someone to lean on the way he did now. Someone to be strong for him.

The second Shannon was enveloped by Constance’s familiar embrace the grown man fell apart. “Mom, I am so sorry! God, I couldn’t protect him. I really tried. I always try! I know I promised you I’d watch over him and keep him safe and I thought I was, I really did. I'm so sorry, mom…” Shannon rambled, shaking like a leaf.

Constance made no effort to banish the tears that rolled down her face as she held her son. Their little family’s fundament had been shaken to the core. Both of her babies were in pain and it was breaking her heart.

Firmly, Constance led Shannon to the couch of the waiting room and pulled him down next to her. She put her small hands on the man’s stubbly cheeks, forcing Shannon to look up into the kind blue eyes she shared with her youngest son, as she discretely wiped his damp skin with her thumbs.

“Stop it, Shannon; you have nothing to apologize for. No one is more careful than you, baby. And you have never let me or Jared down. I am so proud of you and so is your brother. Would you not have done anything in your power to stop it, had you known?” Constance asked amiably.

“Of course, Mom, If I…” Shannon protested, but his mother halted him.

“I know.” Constance assured him, “I don’t doubt that that you would have done anything in your power to keep him safe. Sometimes life just doesn’t play fair, baby.”

Shannon nodded distractedly, but Constance could tell he was far from convinced. She suspected only Jared would be able to ease his mind and help him let go of some of his guilt. The brothers had always been fixated on never letting the other down. In their minds, it was one of the worst offenses possible. Constance sighed and pulled Shannon closer to her, as she guided him to lie with his head in her lap. The drummer struggled half-heartedly, but his mother was determined. “Hush now.”

The endeavour paid off and within minutes the musician had succumbed to sleep. The last two days had been overwhelmingly taxing and the man was clearly exhausted. Constance carefully lifted his heavy head and scooted out from underneath him. He grunted something that sounded vaguely like “Not now, Jay” before turning to lie on his side curled into a ball. With a sad smile on her face, she pulled off her winter parka and draped it over Shannon’s broad shoulders. Her oldest taken care of, it was time to find her youngest.
 
As Constance entered the hospital room and got a good look of Jared her face crumbled in anguish. They had tried to tell her and she had tried to prepare herself, but nothing could make a mother ready to see her child suffer to this degree.

Not paying the slightest bit of attention to anyone else, she aimed straight for her baby boy and sat down next to him on the bed, careful not to jostle him, as she took the limp hand into her own.

“Hey, handsome... I see you’ve gotten yourself into quite a mess. Never could keep you out of trouble.” She chuckled awkwardly, but it soon turned into a sob and she hid her face in her trembling hands. Seconds later, she felt the comforting weight of a palm on her shoulder and Constance looked up to find that Tomo had joined her. She had long ago welcomed the Croat into the fold and adopted him as a third son. In turn he treated her as a bonus mother. Tomo’s warm brown eyes shone with compassion. Gratefully she leaned back against him, as she felt herself being embraced from behind. Not for the first time, she thanked the higher powers for giving their little family a steadfast friend in Tomo.

After several minutes of gazing upon Jared, imprinting his rising and falling chest in her mind, the concerned mother’s eyes fell on Colin Farrell. The Irishman was slumped uncomfortably on a chair, dozing in the corner. Taking one of Tomo’s hands still fastened around her into her own she squeezed it, before pointing towards Colin. Tomo grimaced momentarily then shrugged exaggeratedly. She gave him a pointed glance and eventually the guitarist relented. Giving Constance a kiss on the cheek, Tomo made a gesture with his hand, blowing air though his fingers. She nodded and the Croat subtly left the room to take care of his nicotine addiction.

With her attention once more on Colin, her eyes narrowed briefly as she tried to gauge if the younger man was any sort of threat to her wounded cub. But her features softened, as she took in the dark circles underneath the closed eyes.

The man appeared no threat to anyone.

She could not help but be pleased to see him here. Though Constance had lent an ear to several of Jared’s many cruel rants regarding Colin, she had been hard pressed to believe every word coming from her youngest. Often Jared seemed more like he was trying to convince himself, rather than his mother, that he had a valid reason to hate his ex.

Constance was well acquainted with the defense mechanisms employed by Jared when his feelings had been hurt. Usually resulting in a ‘no-regrets-goodbye-forever-I’m-not-hurt’ approach in order to appease his passionate and intense temper, as well as prove to himself that it was all for the best and that he still had full control. Jared had always needed to convince himself that the status quo was the best period in his life ever and that it was all getting better by the minute… or he would fall apart. She suspected that Jared was often well aware that he was lying to himself, but he was a survivor – a fighter, and refused to relent. Self-deception be damned.

The mother put a slender hand on the broad shoulder and shook Colin lightly.

“Colin?”

The younger man’s eyes opened slowly, until the moment his gaze fell upon Constance and the brown eyes shot wide open, making him look vaguely like a deer caught in the headlights.

The Irishman’s head snapped up so fast she had to wince. His face contorted, but whether it was from pain or displeasure at seeing her, she could not tell. “Constance! I mean Ms. Leto.” Colin stammered uncomfortably as he got to his feet, nervously running a hand through his messy dark strands.

“Constance is still fine, Colin.” She smiled kindly at him and took a seat on a vacant chair next to Colin’s, watching as he sat down once more.

The woman had always had a soft spot for the spontaneous and uninhibited Irishman, with his affectionate mannerisms and loving behaviour. He truly desired to be everyone’s friend and make the people around him happy. She had seen that very same attitude displayed towards her slightly jaded son on many occasions and it had always warmed her heart to see someone making an honest effort to see Jared smile.

To many, Colin and Jared came off as an unlikely and unwise match.  Both were too focused on themselves, their careers and their own passions to have the time – or the desire to make time – for someone else. Both shied away from any sort of commitment, refused to be tied down and had no desire to know what the plans were for next week. They both focused on the now, Jared deliberately – Colin naturally.

If it were up to Jared he would never be home; he would work the days away and throw himself into endless projects, one after another. Colin too was enamoured with his career choice, but yearned for light-hearted fun and unserious behaviour on the side, and were it not provided promptly, the man would get bored and start looking for greener pastures. Colin lived for the moment and hated having to wait for results.

It often clashed with Jared’s relentless ambition and drive. Jared would work day and night, for years if it got him what he desired and yearned for. Her son had fought for everything he had ever achieved and often, he did not know how to stop fighting. When to relax even for a few hours and just enjoy himself, without focusing on what still needed to be done.

Jared taught Colin that there was fun to be had in achievements that did not involve speed drinking. Colin, in turn, showed Jared that movies and music could be enjoyed without analysing every beat and every scene. Their different living ideals seemed like they were bound to clash – and at times they did, spectacularly. But on most days they seemed to provide for each other the one thing they had both desperately needed:

Safety, combined with total freedom. No strings and no bonds, yet a place to call home when wanted. It was the perfect arrangement for two men who relied on independence to feel happy.

But when they hit the first rough spot, both men decided to cut their losses and jump ship. Since the beginning of their relationship both had been warned: They had too little in common and were both too busy to last. And many took the silence directed towards the media as a sign that the two men were merely fooling around until something better presented itself.

When they were happy and flourishing, both Colin and Jared were good at tuning out the criticism-veiled concern. But when things started to go sour, Constance suspected, that it was hard not to believe that everyone else had obviously been right about them and they were a bad couple all along.

But looking at the broken man in the pitiful, backbreaking plastic chair it was clear for all eyes wanting to see that neither Colin nor Jared had been fooling around. They had truly been in love.

“How you’ve been?” Constance asked with kindness in her eyes. Colin looked like it was the hardest question he had ever had to answer. After a minute of careful thinking, he seemed to remember his standard reply.

“Good. I’m a father again. Henry. He’s amazing.” Colin offered, then flinched as he realised how wrong it was to mention that here. But talking about Henry in interviews always brought him a safe place. Reporters usually changed their line of questioning when he pulled the ‘I’m a Dad’ card, as it provided a ton of easy questions to fill the time of an interview with and was personal enough to satisfy general curiosity. But he regretted bringing it up in this particular forum. It was just such a force of habit. When people asked him how he had been, he could always cling to Henry.

He adored Alicja and was glad he had met her. She had been a small ray of sunshine in a bleak time and was the mother of one of his life’s lights. These past few years had been some of his worst and he knew it. As much as he tried to tell the world that he was as happy as a clam and loving every minute of his life, he felt aimless and lost. As if he had taken a wrong turn along life’s highway, ending up somewhere he was never supposed to have been.


¤¤¤¤¤¤

The circumstances behind Colin leaving surprised Alicja, but the man’s actions did not.

Deep down, she always knew it was just a matter of time – even if Colin seemed intent on remaining oblivious, before the man would be on the first plane out of there to reclaim his single life. Or possibly, find Jared.

She never expected forever.

When they met in the summer of 2008 to shoot Ondine, Alicja was completely charmed by Colin. He was kind and funny and seemed to have an endless supply of affection to give to the world around him. He revelled in attention, yet at the same time seemed perfectly capable of winding down and enjoy one-on-one time with someone. This surprised her as most rumours about the man seemed to centre on him being a party animal who never stood still and just breathed. But to her, Colin seemed balanced and confident when they started talking, almost Zen-like in his inner serenity. She could not help but wonder who or what had brought forward that change in the man, as it somehow seemed new to Colin in many ways. As if, he was still trying to come to terms with his new way of living. On several occasions, Alicja had even caught him doing breathing exercises and other small tricks to calm his mind.

They had been talking for several weeks before Colin confided that he had just gotten out of a serious relationship. He told her it had lasted years and they had needed to steer clear of the media, but otherwise held on tightly to the details. Colin would only refer to the person as his ex and judging from the way the normally warm smile immediately slipped from the actor’s face when the topic was breached; it was a very sore subject. It took her weeks of careful prodding to even discover the infamous ex was male.

She was not supposed to get pregnant.

They liked each other and became friend instantly, but mom-dad-and-baby was never really in the cards for them. Alicja often sensed that he wanted to be more to her, but just could not. As if he did not have any more love to give to someone else. Even when Colin offered her to move in with him, she knew his intention was to get closer to Henry – not her. It should have made her feel bad, but it did not. When it came down to it, they were both well aware that they were more friends than actual lovers. At least, she was. Alicja often wondered what went on in the other man’s head when thinking of them.

She loved Colin, but she was not in love with him. This made them a very convenient and comfortable couple with no endangered feelings.

Sitting on the couch in her nightgown, she could not help but be brought back to a certain afternoon several months ago where Colin had been away for the day to do some interview with a magazine. Henry was down for his nap and Alicja was doing the laundry; rummaging through the Irishman’s discarded jeans when she found a small worn photograph. It had been ripped over at the middle and then carefully taped back together again. On it was a slender man with brilliant blue eyes; he had dark messy hair with blond highlights, hanging like a curtain around his angular face.

The man was handsome. Beautiful even.

It had taken her a minute to place him, but eventually the eyes had done it. Jared Leto. Colin’s love interest in Alexander. The musician had James in his lap holding a tiny acoustic guitar, both of them smiling. Turning it around, she found the simple inscription in Colin’s messy handwriting J & J – 2007. But what was the singer doing on Colin’s couch, with Colin’s child in his arms? She was not even aware that they had been overly close after filming ended; the man had never been mentioned. In fact, looking back on it she even remembered several occasions where Colin had grimaced and turned off the TV when the man’s music videos were played.  She supposed the picture could merely have been of James, but honestly the house was filled with pictures of Colin’s oldest. Why would this one have such a large importance? 

The truth was staring her right in the face and in that second, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

When Colin arrived home Alicja could not help but ask about the picture. She was shocked by Colin ripping the photo out of her hands and throwing it into the trash, a peculiar mixture of disgust and anguish clear on the handsome face. After unkindly demanding that she never mentioned Jared’s name again he slammed the bedroom door, leaving her in the living room by herself.

When she joined him in bed many lonely hours later, Alicja valiantly pretended not to notice his tense body and red-rimmed eyes.

Now, her heart was breaking for Colin. She wanted so badly to be angry at him. She wanted to yell at him – scream at him to stay. But as she had watched the devastation on the man’s face after hearing the terrible news, it had brought home just how much Colin had never belonged to her. Jared was merely kind enough to let her borrow his man for a little while.

¤¤¤¤¤¤

February 2009

Alicja is pregnant. I’m going to be a dad again.”  The reluctance in Colin’s voice came through easily over the BlackBerry, the familiar voice sounding strained.
 
“Why are you telling me this? Do you want me to throw you fucking party or something?” Jared bit back. He knew he was being unnecessarily cruel. But he really did not care, he had never been one to play nice and Colin should know that by now.

I just wanted you to hear it from me and not some tabloid.” And Colin did know it. There was no offence in his tone, as he was not personally offended. If it had been Jared calling, saying he had knocked up some chick, Colin would have been snappy and rude as well.

There was a long pause in the conversation while Jared pondered what to say.

“Well, congratulations, I guess.” He eventually offered charitably, yet it inadvertently came off sounding laced with subtle sarcasm. Still trying to keep his temper somewhat even, Jared was desperate for this uncomfortable chat to be over, before his treacherous mind started to linger on how nice it was to hear Colin’s voice again.

Anyway…” Colin sighed, deliberately letting the ‘praise’ hang in the air unanswered. The silence between them was almost painful as awkwardness seared through all attempts of conversation. The actor searched through his brain for anything he could say to make Jared stay on the line.

This was just not what was supposed to have happened.

“Bye, Colin.” Jared said, his usually clear voice a mere whisper.

They were supposed to have been together forever and somehow they messed it up, neither of them knowing how to fix it. What they shared had been infected, tainted. And they were unable to move beyond it. And likely never would.

Bye, Jared.” Colin copied and immediately received dial tone, sounding harsh in his ear.

“Bye.” Jared echoed into the still air.

Seconds later, he chucked his beloved phone through the room. He was uncharacteristically annoyed when the damn BlackBerry refrained from smashing into a thousand pitiful pieces, but instead landed on the soft carpet as it slid across the floor, hitting the wall with a dull ‘thunk’.

The sound  was harsh in his ears.

¤¤¤¤¤¤

The next four days in London passed – but hardly uneventfully.  Every single day seemed gruelling. Jared’s fever had risen and by the third day the clammy cool skin had become frighteningly hot to the touch. They had all been told to vacate the room and Jared’s condition seemed to worsen by the hour. His organs were struggling to hold on as the high fever and general stress of the shooting took its clear toll. For a while the doctors had seemed unsure as to whether or not Jared would make it at all.

Colin had no trouble remembering how terrible the singer had looked. Jared’s skin had been eerily pale and for a brief second Colin wondered if this was the end and now Jared would leave them all. The monitor had shown Jared’s temperature as 104,8 in damning green numbers. As they had all been told to vacate the room to give the medical personnel space to work, Colin had tried to suck in every single detail of Jared’s features, at least those that were still visible despite the defilement of the ventilator. Afraid that it might be the last time he was to see the man alive.

But as the day passed outside the windows of waiting room, Jared started responding to the medication and when dusk settled outside his fever had fallen to 100,2. It was not as good as could be hoped, but by then they were all desperate for any sort of reprieve.

The ICU was not overly tolerant of having many people around, so the visitors had from the beginning been limited mainly to Colin, Shannon, Constance and Tomo. Few people outside Jared’s closest circle had been allowed anywhere near him. Tim and Braxton had very briefly stopped by early on, along with Emma and Vicki, but everyone else was told to wait. They were reluctant to let anyone witness Jared in that condition. The proud singer would not appreciate people seeing him in such a vulnerable position, unable to crack a joke or deliver a witty comment to deflect how terrible the situation seemed.

Colin had booked a hotel room only a mile away. It was below budget for him and not what he usually went for, but the close proximity to the hospital had been essential. And it seemed he would need it.

The doctor’s words in the waiting room, pressing that Jared would need support had resonated within him. He wanted to be the one who helped Jared. The one who took the pain away. The one who made everything alright again.

Colin had only just stepped through the creaking door to the tiny room that had become his base, when his cell phone started blaring from his pocket. Pulling it out of his jacket he immediately pressed ‘ignore’ before throwing it on the bed, not really caring where it might land. His agent had been calling him nonstop all afternoon.

Colin had decided to call in sick several days in a row, in the middle of shooting Horrible Bosses. He was in big trouble and he knew it, if he did not return to set soon he would likely end up with a lawsuit on his hands. Colin felt caught between a rock and a hard place. He had a loyalty towards his job and the people who had hired him, but leaving London now did not seem like an option. It was the last thing he wanted.

Letting himself fall back on the dingy single bed, he buried his head in the threadbare coverlet and surrendered to some much needed sleep.

Dawn had barely broken outside when Colin abruptly regained consciousness by his phone ringing. He had asked the nurses to keep him informed if anything changed. Colin was awake immediately; within seconds he had pulled on his discarded coat and reached the lobby of the hotel.

Once outside he hailed a cab. In his hurry to get to Queen Elizabeth’s, he did not think to specify that he needed a ride to one of the hospital’s various back doors. To his dismay he landed smack in the middle of the chaos, still ruling the space at the front entrance. He had barely stepped through the doors before a barrage of flashbulbs blinded him, making him reel from the onslaught.

“Mr. Farrell, look over here please!”

“Mr. Farrell, how is Jared Leto?”

“Mr. Farrell, are you and Jared Leto lovers?”

“Colin, is it true that Jared is dying?”


“He is NOT dying!” The sheer anger in Colin’s voice made the bombardment halt for a brief second before the situation erupted even more aggressively than before. There were reporters shouting at him from every direction, trying to get yet another reaction from him.
 
The actor was suddenly surrounded by the hospital’s security staff and  gratefully allowed them to make a path though the mayhem for him. He hastily thanked them as they forced a way to the doors as fast as possible.

He was all too familiar with this part of the story. The press would have a lot of fun squeezing every single piece of dirt they could get from Colin Farrell arriving at the hospital, yet again.  And this time with sleep mused hair and in a hurry, with what they would probably describe as grief and anguish in his voice.

The media’s obsession with Jared had not ceased, and the press release had far from taken the heat off. If anything, it had only provided more information to feed the fires. The shooting of the well-known rockstar was one of the biggest stories of the year – and the added suspense of a possible ‘outing’ of two Hollywood heartthrobs was really just the icing on the cake. Jared Leto’s name seemed to be the ‘trending topic’ hourly on the internet. The press seemed to have realized that they had found a gold vein of potentially juicy stories and lucrative headlines. They were not letting go easily. They were just getting started.

As the sliding doors closed behind him, Colin stuffed his trembling hands into his pockets and made his way to the floor holding Jared.

When he entered Jared’s room, Dr. Chamber’s was already there, talking to the small huddle gathered.

“…he regained consciousness briefly in the early hours of the morning, when they were changing the bandages around his chest. He was in a lot pain, so the nurse gave him morphine and he fell asleep. It should begin wearing off soon, making it likely that he’ll wake up within the hour.” Chambers said to the room’s occupants, his speech unbroken by the beeps of the heart monitor and the accompanied wheezing from the ventilator.

They had all come to rely on the sounds, finding them almost soothing.
 
Standing in the back of the room, still in the open doorway, happiness and relief flared like flames in Colin’s chest at the doctor’s words. But they were quickly doused by a stark realization.

He had to leave. 

The singer would not appreciate seeing Colin of all people, here at his bedside. And the Irishman could not bear to put Jared through it. Just because he had come to the conclusion that he wanted to patch things up with the other man did not mean Jared would be inclined to agree. For all he knew, it might be an accident that he was still on the list of emergency contacts. Jared probably just forgot.

And with that disheartening thought, he turned around and slipped back out of the room, as silently as he had entered.

There was no place for him in Jared’s life anymore.

¤¤¤¤¤¤

TBC

Comments

Posted by: shiralyndee (shiralyndee)
Posted at: January 12th, 2011 07:24 am (UTC)

NO!!!! Colin!!! NO!!! Stay and fight for you and Jared!!!

Posted by: legolastariel (legolastariel)
Posted at: January 12th, 2011 11:15 am (UTC)

Happy new year! I haven't talked to you yet, dear, and I see you can manage without my betaing. *pouts* :)))
This is great - a new chapter!! Off to read ...

Awww, Constance is there and as soon as mommy enters the scene big boy Shannon turns into a little munchkin. That was endearing - and quite touching to see that even grown men can crumble and break down if the situation is tough enough. And I guess this is one of the toughest situations imaginable for Shan - seeing his baby brother badly hurt and having been unable to prevent this. Poor guilt-ridden baby. I hope in time he can be convinced that all this was not his fault.


But on most days they seemed to provide for each other the one thing they had both desperately needed:
Safety, combined with total freedom. No strings and no bonds, yet a place to call home when wanted.

I so love your analisis of those two and it's amazing how much it matches with my own POV. Yet I think I have never tried to put it in words, but when I read how you described their view on life and thier personalities I just went *Amen to that*. Couldn't have said it any better and those lines up there are just beautiful. I like how you play with words, honestly.

But looking at the broken man in the pitiful, backbreaking plastic chair it was clear for all eyes wanting to see that neither Colin nor Jared had been fooling around. They had truly been in love.
Okay, it's Big Nelly day, I'm afraid. Can I just cry now? Especially since I already read the first comment to this chap from your flist ... He's not gonna leave, is he?!

But as she had watched the devastation on the man�s face after hearing the terrible news, it had brought home just how much Colin never belonged to her. Jared was merely kind enough to let her borrow his man for a little while.
Oh, this I love! It's a nice view on Colin's and Alicja's relationship to have them be rather friends than lovers, comfortable around each other but well aware of the fact that they are not meant for a *happily ever after*. And Colin's reaction when she asked him about the photo showed all too clear how much the break up still hurts him and that deep down inside he does have regrets about the separation or starts to realize that he let the one person go that ever made him happy, that ever was right for him despite - or because - of their differences. God, I need a tissue ...

OMG!!! You can't do this. Absolutely inacceptable, Farrell! Okay, so he may be right and Jared might be inclined to throw whatever's in reach at him the moment he sees him, but he can't just sneak out like that, the coward. At least give Jared a chance to decide whether or not he wants him to be there or rip his head off. Come on, Shannon or Constance are going to tell Jared that Colin has been sitting with him all the time, right? And he's gonna be agitated about that as well as happy deep down inside. And after telling them that he hated Colin's guts he's gonna ask them to find him and bring him back - just so he can tell him how much he hates him to the face, of course. :)))) Right?!

Great chap. And the going back and forth between flashbacks and real time is wonderful. It gives a wider view on their relationship and what happened that made them be at the point they are now. Can't wait for the next chapter!!

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