One year later
Amanda couldn’t stay there anymore, she felt trapped. She could swear that some days she could feel the walls closing in on her. She needed to get out and away from this happy family that she was forced to pretend that she enjoyed. She might have been okay with it if Jensen showed the slightest bit of interest in her sexually.
A woman had needs and Jensen Ackles was one hot man that could have anyone he wanted in his bed, even her, but he just wasn’t interested. Not like he had been when they first started dating and were first married - then he couldn't keep his hands off of her. It was no secret that Jensen was bisexual and leaned more towards men. ‘I guess that he really is gay, what a waste,’ she thought with derision.
She couldn't help but wonder if this was destiny’s way of messing with her that her son was more loved by her husband then she was. Not that she really cared, she didn't really love Jensen. It would just be nice if her husband noticed she was alive.
On the other hand having Jared as the focus of Jensen's attention allowed her to do her thing without being weighed down by her son a freedom she hadn’t been allowed to enjoy since she found out she was pregnant.
Amanda did her best but she was never cut out to be a mother. She had been young when she got pregnant with Jared and didn't get a chance to fully live her life.
She had tried to love her son but ended up only resenting him. She had very little to do with Jared - it was no secret that Jensen had more of a role in Jared’s upbringing than she did. In her mind Jared was the whole reason she couldn’t live her worry free and party life.
She still couldn’t believe that she’s wound up pregnant.
Jared was an accident, the product of Amanda having an affair with her very married college history professor. She hadn't wanted the baby and, in fact, had been all set to get rid of him, but somehow Jared's father found out her plans and offered her any amount of money she wanted if she kept Jared. It helped that Jared’s father came from a very wealthy family and they offered her a sizeable amount to keep their grandchild.
It also helped that her own family had been very strict. It had been made clear to her that she was not to get an abortion or she would be disowned and she couldn't lose her inheritance.
Amanda had always valued the dollar; Jensen knew that was a big reason why she was attracted to him. It was no secret that the Ackles come from old money that with his looks he knew Amanda saw him as the perfect package deal.
There would never be love between Jensen and Amanda. She knew that while Jensen didn't love her, he did care about her.
But that still didn't remove the sting that it was Jared that stole Jensen's heart from the moment they had met and not her. Thankfully she had found someone else that was more than willing to give her just what she needed.
Jensen loved his step-son Jared and Jared loved him in return. Amanda was certain that Jared loved Jensen more than her and she didn't know why that bothered her so much. But it wasn't hard to figure out why Jared did, Jensen was the first person to ever really love the little boy and in return, Jared adored Jensen in return he looked up at him like he was the sun and the moon.
There were days when Amanda wanted to run away, to leave Jared with Jensen and start over. It was tempting, oh so tempting, and more than once she had her packed bags to load into the car and she was ready to leave.
She just didn't know what was stopping her. Part of her knew it was because she couldn't walk away from the money the Ackles had.
Amanda was pulled out of her thoughts by a firm knocking on the door. She wasn't expecting anyone. She wouldn't normally be at home but it was her day off at the Art Gallery she worked at.
The very last person she ever expected to see was standing at her door
"Donna, what are you doing here?" Amanda couldn't recall a time when her mother-in-law had stopped by when she knew that Jared was at school and Jensen was at work. "Won't you please come in?" While Amanda would love nothing more than to slam the door in the woman's face, she knew it would only make things difficult for her. ‘I'll just have to grin and bear this visit.’
There was no love lost between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Both women knew how to hide their distaste for one another and put on a show that they liked each other but they knew the truth- they hated one another with a fiery passion.
Donna Ackles wasn't one to beat around the bush and once she was seated got straight to the reason why she was here. “I know what you want from my son and from my family. I’ve dealt with gold diggers before in the past who thought that they could use my family to get their greedy little hands on our money but never had anyone stoop low enough to use their own child.”
Amanda was surprised that Donna managed to figure out what she was up to. ‘I guess I didn't give the old bat enough credit. But this could work to my advantage.’ “Then you know what I want. It would be a shame to rip Jared away from Jensen when your son loves him so very much.”
“You would break that little boy’s heart wouldn’t you?” Donna had met some cold people but Amanda was among the worst. “Do you even love your son, even the smallest bit? Or is he just something you can use as a bargaining chip?”
Once Amanda thought she might be able to love Jared but it never blossomed. “We’re not here discussing my son, were talking about yours and how much you love him.”
“How much do you want?” Donna demanded to know she knew that there was no reasoning with Amanda.
Now Donna was talking Amanda's language, “Enough so that I can live out the rest of my life comfortably. I never want to work another day in my life.” Oh, Amanda loved her job at the Art Gallery but the next time she entered one it would be to buy the works of art not to talk about them.
“If I do this, you give up all rights to Jared, he is officially no longer your son. I will not allow you to use him like this again.” Donna would do everything in her power to protect her family and she included Jared as part of her family.
Amanda wondered why it didn't sting at the idea of giving up her son. She thought she might feel something as she told Donna, “I want ten million dollars and I sign over all rights of Jared to you,” but she didn’t.
“I’ll have my lawyers draw up the contracts.” It baffled Donna how someone could just sign away their son like he was nothing. “Have you ever loved anyone but yourself?”
“No, the only one I care about making happy is me." It was true no matter what. Amanda just couldn't find in her to care. "Unlike you, my life doesn’t revolve around some snot nose brat. I’ll expect the money as soon as possible, keep me waiting and you’ll never see Jared again.” Amanda warned.
"I'll have your money to you by the end of the week and then I want you out of my son's and grandson's life for good," Donna ordered.
Amanda smirked up at the woman. "Better include some divorce papers as well. It's been a pleasure, Mrs. Ackles."
"Too bad I can't say the same about you." With that last remark Donna took her leave before she did something she might not fully regret, like ripping out Amanda's hair.
A sigh of relief escaped Amanda's lips; she could last a week and then she would finally be free.
Jensen wondered if he should have been more surprised or hurt when Amanda walked out on him and Jared. He had known that she had been cheating on him for a while but he never thought that she would just walk out on them. It hurt, but Jensen felt rage on Jared’s behalf; he knew Amanda was never going to be the mother of the year but he never expected her to just leave him behind.
‘Was it my fault?’ Jensen asked himself if he should have seen it coming but all his attention had been on Jared and he barely noticed that Amanda didn't want to be there anymore. He never expected to come home from picking up Jared from school to find signed divorce papers and custody papers waiting for him on the table.
Jared deserved so much better.
Jensen had no clue how he was going to tell Jared that his mom was gone.
"Jenny, where's mom?" Jared asked. His mom might not be the most loving, but Jensen knew Jared still loved her.
"Come here Jared." Jensen patted the couch beside him and waited until Jared crawled in beside him. "I'm afraid your mother left us. She's gone and I don't know if she'll be back." Jensen cursed Amanda for doing this to Jared.
Jared's eyes filled with tears. "Mom doesn't want us anymore?" He knew his mom wasn't the best mom but he thought she loved him.
Jensen's heart broke at the pain in Jared's eyes. "I don't know, baby. But let me tell you something Jared, nothing you did drove her away. So I don't want you blaming yourself."
Despite the tears in Jared's eyes and his heart breaking he couldn't help but look up at Jensen with awe. "How did you know what I was thinking?"
Jensen pressed a kiss on the top of Jared's head. "Because I know you, kid. Trust me, baby boy, you could never be bad enough to make your mom leave."
"Then why she does not love me?" Jared asked as his tears began to fall. It broke Jensen's heart.
"I don't know Jared; I don't know how anyone could not love you," Jensen whispered as he rocked the sobbing boy in his arms.
Looking down at the small body curled into his side Jensen gently brushed back the hair that had fallen into Jared’s eyes after he had cried himself to sleep. “I promise you Jared, for as long as you need me, I will be here for you, always.”
It took time for Jared to accept that his mom was gone. When word got out that Amanda had left them their friends and family gathered around Jared and Jensen offering whatever comfort they could.
Jared put on a brave face but Jensen could see the pain that lingered in the little boy's eyes and he did his best to show Jared that people loved him and he wasn't to blame for Amanda leaving. Jensen wasn't sure how much effect his words had considering that Jared wasn't his usually cheery self.
He was worried until one day Jared came bouncing out of school, a wide smile on his face as he ran straight for him.
"Jenny! Jenny!" Jared shouted as he flung himself into Jensen's waiting arms. "There'saplayonandChadthinksthatIshouldtryout."
It took a moment for Jensen to translate Jared's babble. "A school play huh? Well if you want to you should try out." Jensen thought that it would be cute to see Jared up on the stage dressed in a costume.
Jared beamed at Jensen, now that he had Jensen blessing he was going to do it.
Jensen could have cried at the sight of Jared's beaming smile, it had been too long since he had seen Jared this happy. ‘Maybe this play would do him some good.’
To Jensen's horror Jared had been bitten by the acting bug. After his best friend Chad Michael Murray convinced him that he should act with him, it was all Jared could talk about. He had been practicing nonstop- not that Jensen really minded. Jared was too adorable with his little nose scrunched up as he repeated the lines over and over again.
If it were up to Jensen, Jared would have any role he wanted; no one could be cuter than Jared. But as Chris liked to point out he was biased when it came to Jared and that was one point Jensen couldn't argue with his best friend.
Of course with Jared's endless practice that had Chad stopping by more and more and while Jared's voice was like music to Jensen's ears always saying his lines in a loud clear voice, Chad tended to shout them out.
Jensen just wasn't too sure about Chad. The first time he and Jared had met, the kid had been eating sand, but then he proved himself to Jensen when he beat up the kids that were picking on Jared. Despite Chad's uniqueness, he was protective over Jared and Jensen liked that about him.
Today was the big day. It was the day they would see if Jared's practicing had paid off and in the Ackles-Padalecki household it was hard to tell who was more nervous Jared or Jensen.
Work, as Jensen was finding out, was a bust for him. He couldn't focus on the papers in front of him; he was so nervous that you would think hewas the one auditioning for the play.
"Damn!" Jensen cursed slightly as he realized that he had made an error on the Smith's account. It was his tenth one this afternoon.
Alan, who had stopped in to check on his son, he had a feeling that Jensen was going to be a little distracted today and he wasn't the only one. Donna had already gone out to buy the best camera money could afford and he had heard through chatter (Danneel) that Chris and Steve had two parties planned - one to celebrate Jared getting a role and the other to cheer him up should he fail. Not that Alan could fathom anyone saying no to Jared; it just wasn't possible.
"Son, why don't you call it an early day. We both know that you have more important things to worry about today," Alan suggested with a knowing smile.
Shaking his head, Jensen was grateful for his dad's support. "I'd go crazy at home waiting for the hours to tick down to when I can go and pick up Jared. At least here I can try and be productive."
Chuckling, Alan could see Jensen's point; he would be even worse at home. "I understand son, just try to keep the cursing down to a minimum at least?"
"I'll do my best but I make no real promises." Jensen knew his dad was partially teasing. It wouldn't be good if the rest of the staff heard him cursing.
The day couldn't end soon enough for Jensen and he was out of his chair the moment he hit save on his work. "I'm heading out, Kim," Jensen informed his assistant as he shrugged into his jacket.
"Jensen, you make sure to tell Jared we are all so very proud of him no matter what his outcome is." Kim adored Jared and while she was sure that Jared most likely got a role, she didn't want that little boy to feel like he’d let them down if he didn't.
"I'll be sure to tell him that," Jensen promised. If Jared did get a role Jensen figured it might be a good idea to bring him around to the office so he could at least show off his costume for the play.
Jensen knew it couldn't be possible but to him, it felt like the drive was taking longer than normal to get to Jared's school. He figured it was just his nervous about finding out how Jared did.
Arriving at the school, Jensen took the very familiar path towards Jared's classroom but didn't get that far when a very familiar body came speeding towards him.
"Jensen! I'm the sunbeam!" Jared cried as he flew into Jensen's waiting arms. He had been waiting all day to tell Jensen his big news.
"Jared that's wonderful!" Jensen was so proud of Jared. "This calls for ice cream."
Jared's smile widened. "Yay!"
"Sounds awesome Jen, I'm in." Chad seconded as he came up to the duo.
Jared's smile quickly faded into a small frown as he stared down at his best friend. "Only I get to call Jensen, Jen." He reminded his friend.
With a tilt of his head Chad studied his best friend. He could never understand why Jared was so protective over Jensen. "I thought you called him Jenny? Why can't I call him Jen?"
With a sigh, Jared crossed his arms over his chest and glare down at his friend. "Because Jenny is mine and only I get to call him Jenny and Jen, he said so. Right Jenny?" Jared turned pleading eyes up to Jensen.
‘Thank god for small favors that Chris isn't here for this.’ Jensen knew his best friend would never let him live it down. "That's right Chad, I did say that only Jared gets to call me Jenny and Jen."
A long suffering sigh escaped Chad's lips. "Fine then can I come for ice cream as well, Jensen?"
Part of Jensen wanted to say no; he wanted to share this moment alone with Jared, plus he had to tell Jared that he had a date. It was his first since Amanda had left them and he wasn't sure how Jared was going to take the news. But he was helpless against Jared's puppy-dog eyes.
"Can Chad come please?" Jared begged.
"Yeah, he can come." Any annoyance Jensen might have felt about this was lost when Jared and Chad both let out little cheers. He would do anything to see Jared happy even if that meant putting up with Chad.
Jared was the sunbeam in his class play and the way Jensen acted you would think that Jared had the lead role in the play.
Chris could only stare at his best friend as he went on and on about Jared's role; from his lines to the costume that Jared would be wearing (thankfully Donna was making it for him), Chris knew every little detail that involved Jared.
But Chris decided that while Jared was busy modeling his outfit to all those present, it was time to get to the bottom of a rumor he had been hearing. "Tell me it isn't true; tell me you aren't sleeping with Hartley of all people," Chris begged his best friend.
"It's nothing serious; he knows that it's nothing but a good time. It's better than me going out seeking a willing beta whenever the urge hits." Jensen admitted. He had gone on one date with Justin and that was enough to know that the beta wasn't really his type, so when Justin had suggested friends with benefits kind of thing Jensen couldn't see the downside. It had been almost two years since he had sex with anyone. While Amanda might not have been faithful, he had been.
Chris wanted to shake some sense into Jensen. "Did you forget what that guy did to our friends Tom and Mike? Hell, that was the first time that I can remember Mike losing his cool." Justin had made a serious play for Tom even though the alpha was happily mated to Mike for the past eight years. Mike had not taken it well; it was the first time that anyone could recall Mike throwing a punch.
Jensen ran his hand through his hair. "Of course, I haven't forgotten but it's just a benefit thing, I'm not going to mate with the guy."
"Just be careful alright?" There was something about Hartley that rubbed Chris the wrong way; he looked at Jensen the way Amanda used to and he looked at Jared with utter hate in his eyes.
"Don't worry I will be," Jensen promised. He wasn't going to get serious with Justin, not when he had Jared to look after, but there was no harm in having a good time.
Jared finished showing off his adorable sunbeam costume to the others and skipped over to Jensen and Chris. "What do you think?" He asked giving a little twirl.
Laughing, Jensen scooped up Jared. "You'll be the cutest sunbeam there ever was."
Chris would keep his mouth shut for now when it came to Justin, but he didn't trust that beta.
"Chris?" Jared turned pleading eyes up to his favorite uncle.
All thoughts of what he would do to Hartley faded from his mind as Chris smiled down at Jared. "Yeah kid, Jensen’s right for once; you are the cutest sunbeam ever." Leaning in close, Chris stage whispered to Jared, "I think we can convince Jensen to treat us to some ice cream, don't you?" Chris knew he had won when Jared's eyes lit up and he turned his famous puppy-dog eyes on Jensen.
"Yeah, let's go get some ice cream after you change out of your costume. We wouldn't want to get it dirty. Then Uncle Chris and I will take you to the park where you can run off your sugar rush, right Uncle Chris?" If Jared was going to be given a sugar rush then Chris was the one who got to entertain Jared.
There was no way that Chris could say no when Jared turned big pleading eyes towards him. "Yeah, I'll take you to the park."