On December, 22nd
The next hours went in a blur of anxiety and angst. During that time, several things happened. Dr. Amber Benson from San Antonio MMC came striding through the front door half an hour after Jensen’s distressful conversation with Doctor Med. The charismatic Ob/Gyn with no nonsense attitude happened to be in Victoria City when she got the call. She spoke for few minutes with Doctor Med before they went to prepare the second operation.
Jared’s parents came an hour later while Jared was still in the operation room. Jensen and his two children were in Zeke’s recovery room when that happened. Jensen woke his daughter while in there and persuaded her to let go of him to see his injured brother. She refused at first but Jensen was determined to get the poor girl out of her self-imposed cell.
“Baby, come on look. It’s Zeke. He’s alright, see?”
Janet opened her sleepy eyes and peeked from Jensen’s chest. When she saw her brother lying motionless on the bed with wide bandages around his head, she turned her face back into her father’s chest.
“It’s alright, baby. Zeke’s just sleeping, right Andy? Didn’t you boys have fun at the toy store tonight?” Jensen asked his son who just nodded mutely while staring at his twin from his bedside.
“What did you play there, Andy?”
It took few seconds but finally the freckled boy answered in solemn voice, “slides… Zeke played hot wheels.”
“Yeah, he does love those hot wheels cars, doesn’t he?” said Jensen in a fake cheerfulness. “I bet he must be tired.”
“Bad man hurt Zeke,” said Andy ignoring his father’s attempt to comfort his sister. “He won’t wake up. Daddy won’t wake up too. Why won’t he wake up? Daddy told me to go get help then he won’t wake up anymore. Zeke too…”
“Hey, hey, hey, Andy… look at me.”
Andy’s rambles worried Jensen immensely. He dropped on his knees and grabbed the boy’s shoulder to face him. Andy still refused to look at him; his eyes were glued to the still form of his twin brother.
“Come on, tough guy, don’t do this please,” said Jensen softly at his son.
Jensen caught his son’s chin and steered it to face him. He studied his son’s face and noted the lack of distress shown in his green eyes, only blank stare of confusion. “God, Andy,” whispered Jensen in agony over his children’s pain.
The hardest part of this tragedy was perhaps seeing his children struggle to deal with the shock. They were just children for God’s sake! They should only know happiness and love. Jensen really did not know if he was strong enough to deal with all of this without Jared. He always admired Jared’s strength to stand strong against the world. It was one of the reasons why he fell in love with him.
“Andy, listen to me, okay,” Jensen started, “Zeke is going to be fine. Daddy too, I promise you. You know that I never break my promise, don’t you?”
Jensen waited until he saw his boy’s nod, although slow. He really needed to make sure that his words were understood, that his son found strength in him like what he found in Jared.
“Good. Now, do you want to sit next to Zeke?” asked Jensen softly. He was already standing up and went to the corner to grab a chair.
He pulled the chair closer next to Zeke’s bedside and helped Andy to sit on it. Then he took another and sat himself beside his son with Janet on his lap. He put his arm around Andy’s shoulder and said, “So, you guys wanna tell me what you did all day today?”
The arrival of The Padaleckis provoked flood of tears to erupt among the visitors, especially Shane and the women. Jensen, who had spent the night next to his son’s bed, felt so drained of emotions that he lost ability to empathise with them. Shane Padalecki grabbed him tight the second he saw Jensen and showered Andy with tearful kisses while his husband hugged the silent boy.
“How’s my boy?” rasped Shane Padalecki, hugging Andy in his arms.
“He’s still in the operation room, now. The Ob/Gyn from MMC arrived an hour ago and they hauled Jared in minutes later.”
“What’s the doctor said?” asked Jake.
“Ob/Gyn? … Why would they call them?” Shane inquired at the same time as his husband.
“Well, Med told me that Jared has a good chance to survive and they called the MMC earlier for a blood donor, I think,” says Jensen adjusting his hold on his sleeping daughter and looking at her peaceful sleeping face.
He could not look at them in the eyes because he could not tell them about the fetus. Jensen knew Jared never lied to his parents no matter how bad things were but Jensen viewed this as his own personal failure, that no matter how he looked at it he was the one at fault. If only he did not go to the dock that night. If only he came to the mall sooner, then Jared and Zeke would be all right.
They were distracted for a moment by Andy’s struggle to be out of his grandfather’s hold. He ran back into his brother’s room to sit on the chair beside Zeke’s bed. All three men’s hearts went out to the gloomy little boy who was sitting beside his twin brother’s bed. His sad pair of eyes never strayed far from the still form on the bed.
“I couldn’t even imagine how awful it was for the kids. You know, seeing their daddy and brother like that,” whispered Shane. Jake pulled his husband in the circle of his arms, soothingly rubbing the shorter man’s arms in a show of comfort.
“Eliza and Amelie will be here tomorrow and keep you company while we are settling in a hotel,” said Jake.
“No, no! You should just go to our house and when Amelie and Eliza come tomorrow, they can go straight there too. They must be tired with all the long journey and change of plans.”
“Jensen, you shouldn’t be worried about that. We can go to a hotel it’s not a pro-”
“No, Jake. I insist. It wouldn’t feel right to have you guys crashing in a hotel room while I have plenty of rooms available at the house. Please, Jared wouldn’t like either,” pleaded Jensen in a soft tone that tugged at both men’s heartstrings.
Jake and Shane traded a look before relenting and took Jensen’s offer. “Alright. Only if you promise to get at least some rest while we take turns watching over your son,” said Jake, tapping Jensen’s arm.
“No, I can’t. I have to wait until Jared’s out of the operation room and I know that he’s going to be alright. Right now I…. I can’t think of anything … I’m too strung out and…”
“We understand,” said Shane, offering a smile while he rubbed Janet’s back with his right palm. “Would you at least let me take this sweetheart off your arms for a while, so you can lie down?”
“I don’t think so.”
“No, it’s not like that. I’d be glad if you can hold Janet for a while and I trust you, both of you, to watch out for my children but Janet is … she’s …” Jensen trailed off, looking for the right word to convey his dilemma. “She won’t be apart from me. Diane tried to pry her off me before and she went hysterical.”
“Oh! My poor baby,” whispered Shane, kissing his granddaughter’s hair.
“If you guys wanna go in and see Zeke, go ahead. I’ll stay here and stretch my legs. You can keep Andy company for a while.”
“Of course. Come on Shay.” Jake steered his husband towards the room where they treated Zeke for recovery.
Near dawn, Dr. Medowitch approached Jensen and invited him into her office. Jensen left Zeke’s room with mixed feelings jumbled inside. After the arrival of their grandparents, the children were a bit calmer although Janet still refused to stay away from Jensen. Kathy and the hospital staff provided a small cot inside Zeke’s room for his siblings to rest and sleep. Janet was sleeping beside Andy on the cot with Shane continuously rubbing their arms and stroking their hair. At first, they demanded Jensen to stay with them, rubbing their skin until they fell asleep but then Shane took over. They had not stirred, yet.
Shane had a distinctive motherhood in him that was similar to Jared. The fact that he was Jared’s birth father was not lost on Jensen. Therefore, he completely understood if his children were closer to Jared’s parents than to his own parents. Even now, Jensen had not called his parents about Jared and Zeke. His mother might not have the same opinion as his father but Jensen was still wary to inform her. He was afraid that he might rant at her instead. It was better to clear his mind and calm his nerves, preferably, after Jared’s condition was better before he called either of his parents.
Dr. Med’s office was a small and cozy room at the corner of the east wing near the elevator. It was decorated in such a way to invoke calmness and tranquility. Jensen was welcomed into the office by Dr. Benson who had been waiting for them after Jared’s operation.
“Please have a sit, Jensen.” Dr. Med gestured Jensen to a chair in front of her work desk while Dr. Benson took a seat next to him. She sat behind her desk and made a quick introduction between Jensen and the Ob/Gyn. “This is Dr. Benson from San Antonio MMC.”
“Hi, I’m so grateful that you’re here doctor,” said Jensen respectfully while offering his hand.
“The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Ackles. I was in Victoria visiting a patient when the MMC called me. I reckon I’ll just go straight in here,” said the Ob/Gyn, smiling sincerely and shaking Jensen’s hand.
“We would like to inform you that Jared’s operation went fairly well considering that we had a close call during the time,” said Dr. Med.
“Wh… what happened?” asked Jensen. Fear crept inside his heart making his pulse beats faster dreading the news delivered by the Doctors.
Dr. Med shared a look with her colleague Dr. Benson before continuing, “the abortion process took such a toll on Jared’s already fragile condition that his … heart …stopped for ten seconds during the operation.”
Jensen was horrified. His face paled and his heartbeat seemed to stop for a second there. He stood up abruptly to pace the length of Dr. Med’s office. Fingers went to his hair in a stilted movement signaling his distress.
“But we got him back,” rushed Dr. Med in an attempt to alleviate Jensen’s stress, “and we’ve succeeded in stopping the hemorrhaging in Jared’s abdomen although his condition is still unstable right now. We keep him under monitoring in the next twenty four hours.”
“How about his uterus?” asked Jensen, stopping in the middle of the room with both hands on his hips facing the Doctors. “You said the hemorrhaging has caused enough damage on it.”
“Yes, we’re very sorry that we couldn’t save the fetus, Mr. Ackles. I believe, Dr. Med, I believe, has informed you about the severity of the wound,” answered Dr. Benson.
“But is it salvageable? I mean can he …” Jensen moved his right hand in front of his stomach trying to convey his meaning without saying.
“You mean, can Jared pregnant again?” Dr. Benson picked up when Jensen trailed off hesitating to even say the word. “In my professional opinion, yes. But, like Meri said,” she paused, gesturing to Dr. Med with her first name, “We still need to closely monitor his condition in the next twenty four hours before we can decide the next action. He lost lots of blood and even though the bullet did not penetrate the uterus, the internal bleeding from damage of the surrounding tissues may impinge on it. I will personally monitor him until he is at least stable and we can move him into a more flexible room.”
“Right now, we are settling him in one of the ICU rooms. He can have visitors but we strongly advise to limit them to only two visitors at a time,” said Dr. Meridian Medowitch.
“So, can I see him now?” asked Jensen in a rush. The distress in his voice cannot mask his eagerness in seeing his husband again. He walked to his chair to put his hands on its back.
“In a few more minutes. Amber will take you there while I call the ICU but before I do that I want to clarify something with you,” said Dr. Med looking straight at Jensen.
“Sure! As long as it doesn’t take a long time,” said Jensen shrugging his shoulder. At this point, he would answer anything as long as they took him to see Jared.
“I was informing Dr. Benson here that you wish for the fact of Jared’s condition regarding his unborn fetus to be kept secret to only us and a couple of nurses?”
“Yes,” answered Jensen determinedly. “Not even Jared. He doesn’t need to know that. Not when he’s not ready to hear it.”
“But I strongly suggest you tell him as soon as possible, Mr. Ackles, because it may help with the recovery process if the patient knows what’s happened with his body,” said Dr. Benson.
“I understand.” Jensen nodded his acquiescence to the Ob/Gyn’s suggestion but whether he did the suggestion or not was left to be seen. He would put it on the back burner for now and get to it when the situation called for it.
“Alright, then. I’ll just head out now,” said Dr. Benson, seemingly satisfied with Jensen’s promise. She rose up and made a beeline towards the door with Jensen following closely. Back at her desk, Dr. Med made a call to the ICU unit to inform them of the coming visitors.
Jensen opened the glass door to Jared’s ICU room very carefully and let himself in before closing the door quietly behind him. He approached the bed in the middle of the room with noiseless steps, eyes locked on his husband’s still form.
Jared’s skin was pale. There were too many tubes and electrodes strapped on his body that made him looked more like a robot than a human. Jensen stood beside the bed and reached up his hand to brush Jared’s limp bangs out of his wide forehead. He leaned over to kiss it.
Jensen scanned Jared’s body, noting fresh bandages around his abdomen under the thin hospital clothes. He touched the area around the wound imagining the life that resided in there mere hours ago. Tears welled up at the corner of his eyes and one rolled down his freckled cheek followed by an anguish sob.
“I’m so sorry, baby,” whispered Jensen tearfully. He kissed Jared’s parched lips, whispering apologies all the while. “Please forgive me, J. If I knew that this would happen I’ll … I’ll go straight home and I’ll … ” Jensen’s next words were swallowed by his sobs. There was a heavy lead pressing down on his chest making it hard to breath. The guilt was coursing inside of him like thorns cutting him from inside.
“You have to get better, J. For me and for our children. I can’t go on without you. I’m barely able handling Janet’s hysterics and Andy’s shock all by my self. Please, baby…”
Jensen spent the next thirty minutes in Jared’s ICU rooms whispering love words and occasional pleading in his husband’s ears until one of the nurse entered the room to check on Jared’s vitals. Jensen had to turn around to wipe his tears on the sleeves of his shirt. The nurse informed him that there were people waiting outside the ICU rooms wanting to see Jared. They would not come in when Jensen was still inside because they understand that he would need some time alone with Jared. Jensen told her that he would come out to let the visitors see Jared in turn.
Shane rushed towards him as soon as he closed the door to Jared’s room. He demanded Jensen in a frantic voice to tell him about his son’s condition.
“You can go in and see him, Shane. Only two visitors at a time,” informed Jensen at Shane and Jake.
“Come on, Jake! I wanna see my boy.” Shane dragged his husband inside the room. The other visitors, Fred and Diane waited patiently for their turn behind them.
“Who’s looking after my kids?” Jensen asked them.
“Kathy stayed behind in Zeke’s room to look after Andy and Janet. They were still sleeping when we left them,” said Fred.
“How is he, Jensen? Did you talk to the Doctors? What did they say?” asked Diane.
Jensen took a deep breath and exhaled slowly before answering, “As for now, he’s still stable but Doctors need to make sure in the next twenty four hours.”
“Jared is strong, Jensen. Did I tell you that? He’ll get through this, you’ll see,” said Fred with full conviction. Jensen could not help but feel relieved by Fred’s assurance. The older man had become his confidant for the past years. He was there when Jensen’s own father failed to attend. He was the first supporter of Jensen’s choice in marrying Jared.
“Thanks Fred, Diane. Thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.”
“Hey, no need for that boy,” Fred interjected with a shake of his head. “Ain’t we all family?”
“Jensen, you ’n Jared’re like our own sons. We’ve been thinking of your kids as our grandchildren,” said Diane, touching Jensen’s cheek with her warm palm. “Please don’t take this privilege from us. We’re here for you and your family. Anything you need, dear. We’ll be happy to help.”
“Thanks, Diane,” rasped Jensen, offering a smile to the middle-aged woman who smiled at him in turn.
“Have you called your mother?” asked Diane.
“Ugh… no, I … I haven’t. It’s … it’s just not come to me-”
“It’s alright, sweetie. Would you leave it to me? I’ll give her a call,” offered Diane.
“Thanks, Diane. I’m sorry to bother you.”
“No, no, it’s okay.”
“I’ll go see my kids now and tell them about Jared. Maybe after they see that their daddy is … somewhat okay they’ll get through their shock.”
“Yes, that’ll be good for them. We’ll stay here and wait for our turn,” said Fred.
After exchanging a look with the Lehnes, Jensen walked out of the ICU to go to Zeke’s room. He hoped that Janet and Andy did not wake up while he was gone because it would be unfair for Kathy if she had to deal with hysterical children on her own.
Jensen peeked in through the slow opening door and saw Kathy sat beside Zeke’s bed stroking the little boy’s hair. Andy and Janet, thankfully, were still sleeping on the small cot at the corner. He slipped inside and closed the door quietly.
Kathy turned at him to whisper, “Hey, how’s Jared?”
Jensen stepped closer to her while looking at his son laying on the hospital bed. He came to the other side of the bed touching Zeke’s cheek lovingly. “He’s okay, for now. The operation went well but Doctors are still keeping him in close watch for the next twenty four hours. I think he’ll get through it.”
“Oh, thank God!” exclaimed Kathy still in a whispery voice. She clasped her palms on her chest. “I’m so happy for him.”
“Thanks, Kathy,” said Jensen offering her a smile. “So, how’s my tough guy, here?”
“Oh, he hasn’t stirred but that’s okay. Nothing to be worried about,” assured Kathy. “Head wounds looks more severe than it actually are. Usually the patient takes longer to wake up.”
Jensen nodded in understanding. For a moment, no one said a word as Jensen stroke his son’s dark brown hair. Then, Kathy stood up saying that she would go and see Jared.
“I think I better go see Jared. It’ll ease my mind when I see him alright.”
“You should go home and take some rest, Kathy. I don’t mean to kick you out but Jared wouldn’t want you to tire yourself out. You still have to go to work.”
“It’s alright. My shift starts this afternoon. I’ll go see Jared then go home to change, wash up and come back here. See you then, Jensen.” Kathy walked to the cot to snatch her purse that she left on the floor near the food of the cot before walking out of the room waving at Jensen.
“See ya, Kath. Take care!”
Jensen took Kathy’s chair beside Zeke’s bed and held his son’s right hand in him.
“Hey, Zekey boy. Don’t you wanna open your eyes and see your papa? Your brother and sister are getting tired waiting for you to wake up. They want to play with you again,” said Jensen softly to the unconscious boy. “So, what d’ya think, huh?”
Jensen smiled playfully and ran his fingers on Zeke’s hair but the smile waned slowly when he got no response from his son. He took a deep breath and settled in for another long haul of waiting.
The afternoon of the 23rd signaled the dawn of hope in Jensen’s family, but not without drama. Jensen managed to have some shuteye in the afternoon after taking Andy and Janet to see Jared. He spent the next two hours curling up on the cot with his children until someone shook his shoulder. He opened his eyes blearily and blinked a few times against the harsh glare of the hospital light. There was a woman stood above him beside the cot peering down at him. He chanced a look at his children, checking if they were okay. Once he was sure that they were fine, he slowly sat up and almost fell out of the small cot.
“Oops! Careful there,” said the woman, helping Jensen righting himself. Jensen sat gingerly at the side of the cot feeling his muscle crick in pain due to uncomfortable sleeping position. He looked up towards the woman who was now smiling fondly at him.
“Right on!” Amelie, Jared’s big sister smiled amusedly at Jensen’s dazed expression. Clearly, the younger man in front of her had not woken up completely. “Eliza’s over there,” she gestured towards the hospital bed where Jensen can see another brunette woman sat beside Zeke’s bed. Eliza waved her hand at Jensen, wearing a similar expression as her sister.
“When did you get here?”
“About an hour ago. We didn’t wake you up because dads said you haven’t got any sleep for a whole night,” said Amelie taking a seat next to her sister.
“Ughh …” Jensen groaned painfully rubbing his face with both his hand shaking off the sleep. “Yeah, I couldn’t sleep when Jared was still in the operation room.”
“We understand, Jensen,” said Eliza. “We would let you sleep a bit longer but there’s someone outside who wants to see you.”
Jensen raised his eyebrow. “Who?”
“Perhaps it’s better if you go out there and see her,” suggested Eliza. When Jensen looked at his sleeping children beside him she continued, “The kids’ll be alright.”
After stroking each of the children’s disheveled hair and kissing their foreheads, Jensen rose up and walked out of the room. There were three people talking with each other in the waiting room next to the wing where Zeke was being treated. Two of them were Jared’s parents while the other one, a woman, sat on the waiting chair in front of the two men with her back towards Jensen. He knew that Fred and Diane had left the hospital, an hour ago before he went to sleep with his kids, to get some rest once they were sure that Jared was out of danger, at least for now. Therefore, it could not be Diane although they shared the same hair color.
Jake’s eyes trained on Jensen as soon as he walked into the waiting room and that sprung the woman in front of him to turn around to greet a mildly surprised Jensen.
“Oh, Jensen!” Jensen’s mother, Donna Ackles rushed to grab her son in a tight embrace. “Oh, baby I’m so sorry.”
Jensen was surprised to see his mother there before he remembered that Diane had promised she would call her for him. He returned his mother’s embrace with one of his own and let her cry on his shoulder for a good five minutes.
“Jensen, why didn’t you call me?” chastised Donna when she let him go. “Instead, I have to find out from Diane. How’s Zekey?”
“He’s still unconscious right now but otherwise he’s fine. His body just needs to rest and reboot from all the blood loss. Doctor said he’ll wake up later when it’s time. And Jared got out of the operation room early this morning. He’s still under supervision but so far nothing serious happened,” said Jensen.
“Oh, that’s good.” Donna smiled before adding, “Your father left for New York this morning. I couldn’t reach him on the phone.”
Jensen snorted, “huh, that’s not surprising.”
“Don’t be like that, Jensen. Your father doesn’t know about this,” Donna chastised her son.
“But he had no qualms about sending me out to the dock to clear up his employee’s messes when I could have been with Jared and our kids tonight. If I were there, they wouldn’t be hospitalized!”
“Are you blaming your father?” asked Donna in disbelief.
“Ma, dad knew that I already had a plan for last night. I told him about our plan to visit Jared’s parents today and he took offense at it.”
“Jensen, you’re talking like your father’s a four year old child.”
“Well, he does and it’s not the first time.” Jensen pinched the bridge of his nose when a headache started to form. “I don’t have to explain any of this to you, ma. You already know what dad thinks about Jared and I’ve had a bad enough day as it is.”
“I know how your father is, Jensen. But I’m sure even he wouldn’t want this to happen to your family,” said Donna firmly believed in her husband. “I’m not here to fight with you. I’m here to see my grandchild.”
Jensen let out a long sigh, “alright but … just for a second.” Jensen approached Jared’s parents, taking out his house and car keys and offering them a ride in his car.
“Oh no need, Jensen. We brought our own car,” said Jake refusing to take Jensen’s car key and only accepting his house key. “We’ll be back soon after getting changed and eating something; the girls could take our car in turn.”
“They can take my car-”
“No, no, it’s okay. We won’t bother you with that. Don’t you worry about that kinda thing, son. We’ll take care of everything. Food and blankets for the kids. Hospital blankets are kinda sucky, yeah?” said Shane from the corner of his lips, intended as a joke. Jensen snorted in amusement. Shane is a lovable guy and Jensen really appreciated his effort to cheer him up. It was not hard to tell where Jared got his sense of humor.
“Don’t let him mother you to death, Jensen. I still believe it’s one of the reasons why our children run far away from home,” Jake quipped.
“They didn’t run away, you glob!” protested Shane with a smack on Jake’s stomach.
“Ouch, Shane baby, that’s domestic abuse,” said Jake pouting and rubbing his fake injured stomach.
Jensen just snickered at their antics. He did not even want to know where Shane came up with the word glob regarding to his husband.
“Alright guys I’ll leave you to it. Gotta take my mother to see Zeke and later Jared.”
“Sure, Jensen. We’ll be back soon with provisions and everything,” said Jake, slapping Jensen’s arm twice in manly support before wrapping his arm around Shane and walking out of the waiting room together.
Jensen turned back to where his mother waited impatiently and led her to Zeke’s room. Donna followed silently behind him. When they were just few steps from the slightly opened door, Jensen heard a commotion coming from inside.
“Oh honey, papa’ll be back soon. Shhh….”
“Papaaa…. Nooo… papaaaaa…,”cried Janet, “want papaaa…. Papaaaa…”
Jensen hurried to enter and saw that Amelie was struggling with a fussy four year old who was crying and struggling to get out of her arms. “Let me take her, Amelie.”
The little girl held her papa tight while she continued shedding her tears on Jensen’s shirt. “Heyyy… little angel. It’s okay. It’s just Aunty Amelie, see?” He turned the little girl towards Amelie who was sitting beside Andy on the cot. The little girl peeked behind her fist that clutched Jensen’s shirt on his chest. Then, he turned towards the hospital bed where Eliza sat near it. “And there’s Aunty Eliza and this is grandma.” Jensen turned around towards his mother who stood behind Jensen.
“Oh, sweetheart it’s okay. Don’t cry, grandma’s here,” said Donna stroking Janet’s curly hair, trading a sad look with her son.
“Hiks … hiks … scared,” Janet whimpered into Jensen’s neck.
“Shhh… baby, no need to be scared. Nothing can hurt you here.” Jensen took a seat beside Andy and the little boy immediately laced his arms around Jensen’s waist. Jensen looped his arms around his son’s shoulder. Donna moved to Zeke’s bedside looking over her grandson.
“Papa? We’ll see daddy?” asked Andy.
“Yes, in a minute, okay. When your sister stops crying,” promised Jensen. “We wouldn’t want daddy to be sad when he sees Janet here crying, would we?”
“Not cry,” whispered Janet in a cute pout.
“Sure you don’t,” said Jensen with a teasing smile. “Let’s wipe this up, then?” Jensen wiped Janet’s wet cheek with his fingers. Amelie rummaged in her bag to get a handkerchief and gave it to Jensen. “Thanks, Amelie.”
“No problem,” said Amelie with a smile. “Wouldn’t want that pretty face full of tears.”
They were cheering up the crying girl when Eliza let out a gasp and rose to her feet standing over Zeke. “I think he just moved his fingers,” she breathed.
Jensen quickly jumped off the cot almost trampling Andy in his hurry to reach Zeke’s bedside. Amelie followed in his wake. Donna stepped back to give Jensen more room near the head of the bed. She moved beside Eliza, instead.
“Zekey? …” called Jensen softly. “Hey, champ are you awake?”
After a couple of minutes without response from Zeke, they thought that it was a false alarm. Jensen touched his palm on Zeke’s cheek, his eyes roamed over his son’s feature for any signal that he was on the brink of consciousness.
“Are you sure you saw his fingers move?” asked Amelie towards her sister.
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ve been grasping his hand and felt that he moved his fingers.”
“I’m sure you are dear,” said Donna with an appeasing smile, “but perhaps little Zekey here just decided that he wants more sleep.”
However, Jensen did not give in. He kept stroking his son’s cheek in an attempt to rouse him to wake. He thought he saw a flicker of movement under his eyelid. He knew that his son was waking up but something held him down in unconsciousness.
“Zekey…” whimpered the little girl with a voice so low Jensen almost could not hear it.
Jensen shifted his attention to his daughter. “Yes, baby. Apparently your brother is stubborn,” said Jensen teasingly. “He wants to play hide and seek with us. Why don’t you call him so he gets out of hiding?” Then, he turned to Andy who stood beside him. “Go on, Andy. Zeke is a very sneaky when he doesn’t want to be found does he? He hid himself too well so we had to tear up the house to find him, remember?”
Andy nodded his head and looking at his father. Jensen encouraged him to call his twin brother’s name hoping that his family’s voice would pull Zeke’s consciousness to the surface.
“Zeke…” called Andy tentatively.
“Harder, son. Go on!”
Then, Jensen joined the call. “Come on, tough guy! Wakey wakey… the whole family’s here. Don’t you wanna meet them?”
“Yes, Zekey. I may have a present for you. You just have to wake up,” said Elize joining in the call.
Soon the whole room was filled with the sounds of Zeke’s name being called repeatedly along with many promises and incentive for the unconscious boy to wake up. Janet looked on curiously from her perch on her father’s chest. Then, she pointed her little finger to her brother’s face saying, “Zekey wake up.”
It was true; Zeke was waking up. The movements behind his eyelids were getting noticeable and his fingers started to respond on Eliza’s touch. The family was getting more excited in their calling. Smiles bloomed on their lips eagerly awaits the little boy’s eyes to open. Slowly, those longish eyelashes lifted up. Hesitantly, they revealed a pretty pair of green eyes behind them. They were unfocused at first and blinking lazily for few seconds. Then they started to look around. Jensen caught them with a pair of his own greens, smiling down at him.
“Heeyyyy…. Look who we got here,” greeted Jensen with a relieved smile.
“Zeke! Zekey…” Andy was jumping up and down excitedly grabbing his twin brother’s arms with both his hands. “He wakes up, papa! Zeke wakes up!” said Andy turning up to look at his equally overjoyed father.
“He is now, isn’t he,” said Jensen agreed. “Look angel, Zekey wakes up.”
Janet’s lips corner lifted up seeing her brother had awake and her brother answered with a small smile of his own. Zeke moved his lips to say something but no sound was heard.
“Oh! Water, I’ll get water!” Amelie immediately darted over to the small table near the corner and came back with a water bottle and a straw. She handed them over to Eliza since she cannot reach Zeke’s lips from her position near the foot of the bed.
Eliza put the end of the straw into Zeke’s parched lips and urged the boy to take a few sips. “Go on, honey. It’ll wet your throat.”
Zeke took a few sips before he pulled away to look at his father. “Papa,” whispered Zeke, “where am I?”
“You’re at the hospital, buddy. Got us in a bit of fright there. Little angel here won’t stop crying,” said Jensen making a pout formed on his daughter’s lips.
“I not,” denied Janet with a cute frown.
“Hehe… course you didn’t.” Jensen kissed the little girl on her cheeks and her nose coaxing a smile glowed on her face. He was glad to see his children happy again. They brought into him a new hope and strength to face the next challenge, Jared. Jensen felt the rays of sun finally shone on his little family and he felt that things were really going to be okay now.
Zeke was being entertained by his aunty and grandma. Both Amelie and Eliza had brought along their presents for the kids since they went straight to the hospital after they got off their plane and had not had time to store them anywhere. Amelie elevated Zeke’s bed so the injured boy could recline on his bed. Janet asked to be allowed to sit beside her brother on the bed. The three siblings were sharing a laugh before Zeke asked innocently, “where’s daddy?”
That question put a hamper on the brief happiness surrounding the room. The adults were afraid to say anything; they looked at Jensen for guidance. Andy and Janet lost their smile, which made Zeke confused. Janet even let out a sob with glassy eyes and trembling lips. She turned to Jensen to lift up her arms silently asked her papa to hold her and Jensen did just that.
“Hey, Andy, what’s up?” Zeke shook his twin’s shoulder but Andy refused to look up. Then, he looked at his papa and asked, “papa? Where’s daddy?”
Jensen adjusted Janet in his arms. The little girl was leaning her left cheek on her father’s left shoulder. “Zeke, what did you remember?”
Zeke blinked a few times before saying, “uhh … there’s a bad man pointing a gun at Andy. He took all of our presents and dad’s wallet … and his phone. And …I think I ran at Andy because ...” the boy trailed off and frowned. “Ow!” Zeke’s right hand came up to touch his injured temple only to have Eliza catch it.
“No, honey. Don’t touch. It’s still healing,” said his Aunty Eliza soothingly.
“My head hurts,” complained Zeke.
“Amelie, would you please call the nurse,” asked Jensen and Amelie quickly darted outside to call the nurse in attendance on the nurse station at the end of the hall. Jensen touched Zeke’s left cheek and said in his most reassuring voice, “Son, don’t you worry about it. Daddy’ll be fine, I promise. Now, you just need to get better, okay?”
Zeke looked at Jensen questioningly between winces of pain that was getting worse the more he tried to remember that night.
A nurse came in and the adults made a way for her to go near Zeke’s bed.
“Hello there! We’re so glad that you decide to wake up, honey. Your family’s been anxious. Now, let’s take care of that pain shall we?” said the friendly nurse with a smile. She pulled out a syringe and injected the liquid into Zeke’s IV. “There we go,” said the nurse before looking at Jensen saying, “He’ll be feeling sleepy once the painkiller enters his system.”
“Okay thanks,” said Jensen nodding and smiling at her.
“No problem. Now, I’ll leave you to check on the other patient. Call me if you need anything.”
After the nurse left the room, the adults crowded around Zeke’s bed. Donna rubbed his legs lovingly. “Just rest and get better, dear. Don’t worry about anything.”
“When you’re better we’ll take you to see daddy,” promised Jensen.
“But where’s daddy?”
“Daddy’s resting now. Don’t worry. When he wakes up, I’ll tell him that you’re getting better. I’m sure he’ll be happy to hear that.”
“Promise?” asked Zeke sleepily. Jensen noted that the medicine had worked on his system making him drowsy. “Wanna see…daddy…” whispered the sleepy boy, blinking heavily.
“I promise. Now go to sleep, buddy. Rest now,” said Jensen while rubbing his son’s chest.
Zeke did not wake up again until late at night. The sisters had been begged off to rest and changed at Jensen’s house right when their parents returned to the hospital at nine with food and blankets as they promised. The children were fast asleep when their grandfathers came. Jensen asked them to watch his kids while he took his mother to visit Jared in ICU.
Once again, Jensen stood beside Jared’s bed, this time with his mother at his side. Donna held her son’s hand all the time and Jensen broke down in front of her and it was perhaps the first time Donna had a heart to heart conversation with her son. Jensen could not help the string of words that came out of his mouth as he relayed to her all the things that had happened the last couple of days. He told her about Andy and Janet’s emotional shock and Jared’s almost failed operation. Although, he still kept the secret about Jared’s unborn baby close to heart. He understood that Zeke had somehow saved his twin and Jensen was afraid that Andy would keep a kind of guilt over it. Not to mention his own guilt over the whole thing. It was very easy to blame it on other people such as his father but Jensen knew that the bulk of the fault would fall on his shoulder.
Donna let him cry on her shoulder just like she used to do during Jensen’s younger years. Even though they were not too close before, Jensen was her only son. She always believed her husband’s words and thought Jared was the one who drove a wedge between Jensen and his parents, but now, seeing how badly her son broke down in front of her had forced her to re think her opinion.
Jensen was a reserved person. He guarded his feelings like a hound guarding a slab of meat and let no one enter his comfort zone. The only other person whom he allowed to get close was Jared. He even kept his parents at a distance mainly because of the difference in regards of Jensen’s sexual preferences. Jonathan Ackles hated Jared because he thought of him as no better than a whore or man-whore according to his words. He thought Jensen only married Jared because the younger man had trapped him with pregnancy six years ago.
Jensen’s father was a traditional man. Even though the male maternity had existed for more than half a century, he still held the old norm religiously by thinking that those pregnant males were abomination of the highest order. He did not go so overboard as to actively harm them but his opinion on the matter was not to be challenged either. He kept thinking that Jensen would come to his senses sooner or later and leave Jared. Jonathan thought of Jensen’s children as his grandchildren but refused to acknowledge Jared as Jensen’s legally wedded husband. He never even struck a conversation with Jared whenever Jensen brought his family to his house every year. He was lucky that Jared owned such a big heart. No matter how his father in law treated him he always encouraged Jensen to visit his parent’s house every year if only to not let the family tie be broken and their children be strangers with their own grandparents.
Donna was often torn between her husband and her son. Traditionally, she shared her husband’s opinion on maternity males in general but since her son wedded one and had children with one of them, she gave Jared a second thought. Even though she was not too pleased with Jensen’s choice in marriage, she mostly swallowed her distastes because she still wanted to see her grandchildren. It was also a good thing that Andy and Zeke looked exactly like Jensen that the older Ackles had no choice than to acknowledge them as their grandchildren. She did treat Jared better than her husband did but her overall opinion on male pregnancy in general had not changed.
Near dawn on the twenty-fourth, the doctors invited Jensen into their office. Donna had gone home at midnight with a promise to come back once she got hold of Jensen’s father. Jensen said not to bother. He would not expect his father to visit them but he would welcome if it his mother wanted to come again later. They exchanged an argument over that and Donna left the hospital with an unsettled feeling. Jensen could not muster any thought to care. He left his sleeping children with Jake and Shane while he made the second trip to Dr. Med’s office.
“Come in, Mr. Ackles. Please have a seat,” greeting Dr. Benson after admitting him inside.
“Please call me Jensen. Mr. Ackles is my father and I would prefer you not to remind me of him,” said Jensen politely.
Dr. Benson frowned for a moment regarding of Jensen’s reason before dismissing it and saying, “very well, then you’ll have to call me Amber.”
“You’re welcome. Meri has a good news for you,” said Amber as she took her previous seat in front of Dr. Med’s work desk while Jensen sat beside her.
“Oh, yeah?” asked Jensen full of hopeful anticipation. “Is it about Jared?”
“Yes, Jensen. We are very pleased that Jared has shown remarkable progress this past twenty-four hours. He is not rejecting the blood transfusion that we’ve been giving him and comes out of the critical situation in a slightly better condition,” began Meridian Medowitch.
“He’s lucky that I am familiar with his medical history since his birth father Shane is an active volunteer at the San Antonio MMC,” Amber chimed in.
“So, we decided to move him to a recovery room while we wait for a full recovery,” continued Med.
“Can we move him into Zeke’s recovery room?” suggested Jensen, “I think it’s big enough for two beds in there.”
Amber and Med changed a look for a brief moment with Jensen taking turn looking at their facial expressions.
“I don’t see the problem,” said Amber with a shrug, “as long as the patient has lots of undisturbed rest.”
“Of course! I’ll guarantee that!”
“Alright then,” said Med as she rose to her feet. “I’ll notify the nurse station to prepare Zeke’s room and we’ll be transferring Jared in a while.”
“Thank you Med, Amber,” said Jensen rising up to shake Med and Amber’s hand.
“Only doing our job, Jensen. We’re glad that Jared’s doing better than we thought. His will to live is marvelous,” said Amber.
“He is,” said Jensen agreed.
“I’m afraid I have to return to San Antonio today. I’ll leave my note for Dr. Reese so when he is on duty he will be able to continue monitoring Jared’s recovery,” said Amber as they were walking to the door.
“No!” exclaimed Jensen suddenly surprising Amber and Med. “No, please, Amber I would like you to continue monitoring Jared because Dr. Reese doesn’t know about the abortion and I want to keep it that way.”
“Well…” Amber hesitated but Jensen rushed on.
“You’re familiar with Jared’s medical history from when he stayed in San Antonio, right?” asked Jensen.
Amber shared a look with Med and when she nodded at her, she agreed to Jensen’s request. “Alright, I’m sure Meri here can handle it during my absence. At this stage all Jared needs is rest, until his body is finished repairing the injured tissues but if there are any other complications with his womb in the next few days during his recovery, she can call me at my cell.”
“Of course, Amber. Jared is like family to us here. We’ll make sure he makes a full recovery,” said Med before she looked at Jensen saying, “don’t worry Jensen, although I’m not a gynecologist, I’ll make sure to monitor his progress. I’ll have another Ultrasound before you leave, Amber, so you’ll have the latest report on Jared’s condition.”
“Sure, I’ll need to bring all that report with me then, Meri.”
“You’ll have it after the Ultrasound.”
Jensen heaved a relieve sigh. He opened the door to let the two doctors walked pass him before closing it and followed them to Jared’s ICU room for the last check up.
True to her words, Med performed the Ultrasound and declared that Jared is recovering slowly but steadily. The wound would still need to be kept sterile and Jared would still need blood transfusion in at least a couple of days or until his body regenerated enough blood cell to speed up the recovery process. Jensen left the ICU when the doctors and nurses were busy preparing the transfer to go to Zeke’s room. Shane greeted him as soon as he opened the door.
“They said they’ll move Jared here?” asked Shane looking up hopefully at Jensen’s face.
“Yes, Shane. I’ve been talking with the doctors and they decided to release him out of ICU. I suggested that Jared to be moved here. So, they are preparing to transfer him, right now.”
“That’s wonderful!” Shane shouted joyfully turning towards his husband who was sitting beside Zeke’s bed. “Did you hear that, Jake? They’ll be moving Jared here. That means he’ll going to be okay now, right Jensen?”
“Yes. He’s going to be okay,” answered Jensen with a smile. Just like Jared’s, Shane’s happiness was contagious.
The loud sounds of clanking as the nurses rolled Jared’s bed into Zeke’s recovery room had woken up Andy and Janet. The children sat huddled beside their father looking at the busy nurses flitting about the room. Jared had two IV’s connected to two plastic bags hung on two poles at his bedside, one for blood transfusion and one for his liquids. Another catheter hung at his side with a long tube hidden under his blanket. The nurses checked on his tubes and made some necessary adjustments before leaving the room.
“Papa, it’s daddy,” whispered Andy. He remembered that he must be quiet whenever his papa took him to visit his daddy at the glass room.
“Yes, Andy. It’s daddy. Do you wanna go near?” asked Jensen and be answered by a nod. “Come, then.”
Jensen came near Jared’s bedside on the right while Shane and Jake were sitting on the left. Jensen lifted up Janet in his arm so she could look at her daddy. Jensen noted Jared’s complexion was a bit brighter and healthier than the day before. He was very optimist that Jared would wake up soon.
“Papa, when daddy’ll wake up?” asked Andy from beside Jensen looking at Jared through the railings.
“Soon, daddy’ll wake up soon,” answered Jensen, putting a hand around Andy’s shoulder.
Zeke woke up an hour after Jared’s transfer into his room. Jensen quickly told him that his daddy is there with them. The boy was excited but his happy smile quickly turned sour when he saw his daddy laid up unconscious on a bed next to him.
“Daddy’s hurt but he’ll be better soon. He just needs more rest. Don’t worry, okay?”
“Did the bad man hurt daddy too?” asked Zeke.
“Yes dear,” answered Shane. “But, you see, your daddy’s strong, right? No bad man can hurt him. He’ll wake up soon.”
That did not seem to appease the injured boy, so the family spent the whole day just having fun. Shane was telling them some funny stories that happened at his coffee lounge. His stories varied from the downright hilarious to the weird one.
The family spent Christmas Eve in Zeke’s room with Kathy occasionally dropping by, checking on them before she had to return to her desk. The adults were trying to cheer up the children with singing and presents. Jake and Shane were singing children songs for the kids. Amelie and Eliza came at noon bringing more presents and the afternoon was spent with the kids opening their presents. Zeke and Andy each got similar presents, most of them were toys. Zeke was overjoyed when he found a portable PSP inside one of the boxes.
“That’s for the two of you so you have to take turn in playing,” said Amelie.
“Thanks Aunty Amelie,” said Zeke.
“Yeah, thanks Aunty,” said Andy before scrambling up onto his twin’s bed. The boys laid side by side with Andy at Zeke’s left side so he did not accidentally hit Zeke’s injured temple. Soon, they were engrossed in some kind of racing game on the toy.
Amelie and Eliza were sitting on the cot with Janet helping the little girl open her presents when Fred and Diane came about in the afternoon bringing a huge man-sized pink teddy with red and purple ribbons behind them. Janet’s eyes got huge once she saw it and her happy smile was a balm to Jensen’s heart. She was almost swallowed by her new teddy when she hugged it.
“Oh, no!” gasped Eliza playfully, “where’s Janet?”
“I dunno. I don’t see her anywhere,” answered Amelie. “Do you see her, Jensen?”
“Nope! No Janet in here,” said Jensen playing along which coaxed a giggle to erupt from the supposedly missing girl.
In the middle of their laughter, Jared finally opened his eyes. Jensen was standing beside Jared’s bed smiling at his daughter’s giggles. He had his hands draped on top of the side railing as he leaned his back on it. He almost jumped up in surprised when he felt fingers lightly touch his hand. He turned around slowly and found a pair of hazel eyes looking at him. The sheer force of love that glowed from those lovely pair blew Jensen’s mind away.
“Jared?” Jensen whispered in mix of disbelief and joy. His husband answered him with his trademark smile that showed his adorable dimples that made him remembered all those years ago when he first laid eyes on Jared. Now, their positions were reversed. Now, Jared was the one who laid up on a hospital bed while Jensen stayed vigil by his side. Yet, those dimples were the same. The same patch of hollow on smooth cheeks that Jensen he had fallen in love with all those years ago and still captured his heart now.
Jensen grasped Jared’s hand in his own and leaned over, touching their foreheads together.
“Oh God! Baby,” whispered Jensen as a sob sneaked out of his lips. “I was so scared, love.”
“Jen … you weren’t crying when you first woke up on a hospital bed seven years ago,” teased Jared in an almost silent whisper. Jensen had to laugh at that. Trust Jared to cheer Jensen up even when he was the one who laid helpless and injured on a hospital bed.
“I love you so much, J.”
“Not as much as I love you,” Jared countered back. The few days spent unconscious in ICU did not lessen his amount of wit.
“How long have you been awake, Love?”
“Long enough to miss you,” answered Jared. The words sent a compulsion in Jensen’s brain to kiss those witty lips. A feeling of elation and relieve drenched Jensen’s soul. For the first time in the last three days, Jensen felt his muscles and nerves started to uncoil. Oh, he knew that the road to recovery was still long ahead of them and he would not be deluding himself that the road would be an easy one but he was sure that he would survive it with Jared by his side.
Right when Jensen pulled back from his kiss, he glimpsed a movement from the other side of Jared’s bed. Amelie had Janet on her hips. The little girl was stretching her arms out crying for her daddy, tears rolling down her smooth baby cheeks. “Daddyyyyy…”
“Careful, darling. Daddy’s still hurt.” Amelie was lowering Janet onto Jared’s bed and she immediately curled beside her daddy’s chest, laying her head on Jared’s shoulder, getting her daddy’s hospital shirt wet with her tears.
“Heyy… sweetheart. What’s it with this tears, hmm? I’m okay, now. See?” Jared planted kisses on the curly hair as his daughter sobbed on his chest.
Shane and Jake came beside Jensen with Zeke and Andy perched on their grandparents’ hips while Fred, Diane and Eliza approached the foot of the bed. Jensen’s left hand was holding Jared’s right, threading their fingers together. He did not plan to let go anytime soon.
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