Genre: Jared/Jensen AU
Word count: 3600
Warnings: underage, mental illness, institutionalization, violence both implied and actual, breathplay and slight comeplay, unsympathetic characterization.
Notes: a spn_j2_xmas gift for the lovely meesasometimes. many apologies for being so dreadfully late. i took a couple of your prompts and some of your preferences, stuck them all in a roasting pan and broiled the hell outta them for about two months. very much hoping this fits the bill. a thousand gold stars to cherie_morte for forgiving me my general distrust of the oxford comma and for being such a thoughtful partner in crime on this one. and yep, i totally paraphrased dr who two-thirds of the way in.
Summary: Jensen's had a lifetime of people who want to help him, of being told that his version of reality isn't the right one. Then Jared shows up and everything changes.
The floor is cold beneath Jensen's feet, so he tucks them under his legs in the chair, nudges his glasses back up his nose with a knuckle. He counts ten fingers and ten toes, then double checks to be sure. He cocks his head sideways, lines himself up in a very precise way and looks out of his favorite window. It's the one in the rec room, and if he can get just the right angle and if he can hold incredibly still, the exterior fence with its loops and loops of concertina will drop away, so will the trees and then the only thing that will remain is blue, blue sky, wide open and clear.
He's almost there. The fence is gone and the tops of the trees are starting to drip when there's a clatter nearby that makes him jump. A clipboard dropped on a counter and now he'll have to start over. He keeps his snarl on the inside where it's safe. He'd been so close. So close.
Beside him, the day staff are talking inside of their Plexiglas aquarium, and Jensen makes himself as small as possible, hugs his legs to his chest so tightly that his lungs feel constricted. He closes his eyes and then covers himself with ghosts, their cold touches on the exposed patches of his skin as soft as the things they whisper in his ears. He's very good at hiding.
The nurses are talking about an incoming patient. Fifteen years old. Something about a Christ complex. They say this one's a lifer, just like him. His name starts with a J, just like Jensen's. Involuntary, and that's something that never has made any sense to Jensen, who's always thought that everyone is involuntary in one way or another.
Jensen wonders if he's nice, whether or not they'll like each other.
The first time Jensen sees him, he's wearing dark red. Level zero. Too tall for his hospital scrubs, bare bony ankles below the cuffs of his pants and the heels of his feet hanging over his old-man slippers. His stumbling steps are talking about quaaludes and he's not fighting the orderly at his elbow, but his eyes are clear and darting, rolling like a spooked animal.
"How come you rank?" he asks Jensen as he shuffles over, a gritty-sounding scrape on the floor from his slippers. His plastic bracelet reads 'Jared' and below it are bruises on his wrist where metal has dug into his flesh. He plucks at Jensen's t-shirt and from across the room somebody yells at them to not touch.
Right away, Jensen wants him to do it again, likes the way Jared's finger left a hot spot in the center of his chest and how the air around them seemed to ripple for a moment, a pebble into water. Instead, he shrugs his answer. It's taken him a year and a half to get to level five, and now he gets to wear his street clothes, although they've seen too many miles. It's been months since anyone visited and brought him something new. It's been months since anyone's visited at all. The neck of his t-shirt is frayed and his left knee pokes through a thin patch on his jeans, but he does have a new pair of old-man slippers, just like Jared's, courtesy of the great state of Texas.
Jared's picking at his teeth with his thumbnail, staring down at him as if wondering what he might taste like and whether it'll be worth the effort to find out. Jensen's well aware of what he looks like. Never has liked it much. Too many soft edges, lips that would look better on a girl. Pale skin and crooked glasses that make his eyes appear a little smaller than they should be.
"You're pretty," Jared tells him with a thin, wicked sneer, and it's hardly the worst thing Jensen's ever been called. In a blink, Jared lunges forward, hands on the arms of Jensen's chair to box him in and loom tall above him. "It's tough to believe that someone as pretty as you would end up here. What gives?"
Not flinching, Jensen allows his smile to grow wide, lets the truth come out, sharp and full of teeth. "I used to be the most dangerous person you'd ever meet."
There's a harsh shout and suddenly someone's behind Jared, yanking him back with so much force that Jensen and his chair get dragged a few feet across the floor. It's enough to set Jared off, tip him from sweetly threatening and sorta lost to one violent motherfucker, twisting fast as a rattlesnake in the grip of the poor sap of an orderly who managed to get a hand on him first.
"You said no touching," Jared grits out, spit flying. "I wasn't fucking touching him." As they drag him toward the dorms and what's sure to be a good ten hour nap courtesy of Sister Thorazine, he calls out to Jensen, "Hey. Hey. What are you now?"
It turns out that Jared isn't nice at all, and as luck would have it, Jensen likes him. A lot.
The morning cocktail is kicking in nice and heavy, a sledgehammer to Jensen's base instinct. He's backed up to the corner of the cafeteria in a spot where he can't see any of the windows and is fully absorbed in the slow drip of maple syrup from the tip of his spoon. It reminds him of things that aren't healthy to think about. Comforting, but not healthy.
There are five empty chairs at the table but Jared takes the one directly on Jensen's left, scoots it over until they're only a couple of inches apart. The little ghost who used to wear pale blue ribbons woven into her blonde braids hovers behind Jared's shoulder, sticks her pinky finger into her mouth and wriggles it into Jared's ear, but he doesn't notice. She's trying to get Jensen's attention anyway, always wants to get his attention.
"Dr. Crider thinks I should to apologize to you," Jared says.
"I think you don't need to apologize for something that isn't your fault," Jensen replies. "Besides, if she asks me, I'll tell her you did."
It's their first secret. Jared gives him a small smile, and that's their second.
Under the table, Jensen bumps Jared's knee with his own and Jared bumps back, says, "No touching," but he keeps it there, keeps their thighs pressed together as he steals Jensen's applesauce and Jensen lets him.
In group therapy Dr. Crider has them do an exercise to combat negative thoughts. Everyone gets a small slip of paper and a crayon and they're supposed to write down one negative thought and then three positive thoughts to counteract it. Jensen writes about how lunch was ruined for him because the peas were godlessly mixed in with the carrots, then scribbles Jared's name three times, sure to write in three different ways so it's clear that he's not cheating. The first thing's a lie but the last three aren't.
Later, in art therapy (because everything's therapy here, art therapy and recreational therapy and actual therapy therapy, Jensen's surprised that dinner isn't called food therapy), Jared sneaks his slip of paper into Jensen's hand, anxiously bouncing on the balls of his feet while Jensen unfolds it to find his name written three times, in bright pink letters.
Jensen's chest feels cracked wide open and he has to look down to make sure all of his blood isn't leaking out. It isn't, of course. All he sees is the stretch of boring green cotton, and that's a little disappointing. Something this strong should come with some kind of physical manifestation, some sorta proof.
"You cheated," Jensen tells him. He folds the paper back up and sticks it in his pocket.
"No I didn't. I wrote it three different ways," Jared says, clearly pleased with himself. "What's this?" he asks, bending to inspect Jensen's painting.
It's a mess, a swirl of blue and purple laced through with streaks of red, a vortex made with so much paint that the cheap paper has gone wavy and ragged beneath it. Jensen rarely ever paints anything this real, mostly sticks to the puffy clouds outside the art room window or the field beyond the fence with its distant fringe of trees.
Jensen wants to tell him the truth, say that this is what the air looks like around Jared, and that this is what he sees at night every time he thinks about him, after lights out and he can finally close his eyes. In the few minutes before the sleeping pills drag him under, when everything goes quiet and still.
Instead he goes for something simpler. "It's you," he says, guarded and unsure, wanting so badly for Jared to understand.
Jared's grin cracks his face in two and his eyes seem to glaze over a little. "But if that's me, then where are you?"
Picking up the paintbrush, Jensen makes a small triangle in the bottom corner of the paper, dull green to match his t-shirt.
"That's not right." Jared clucks his tongue against the roof of his mouth and takes the brush from Jensen. He dips it in the yellow, mixes it with green to make a color that reminds Jensen of something nuclear, then paints over Jensen's triangle, turns it into a diamond. "You shine so much brighter than that. Every time I look at you I can see it."
Jared's expression is alert, his tongue barely slurring across his words tonight. A small paper cup is balanced on the palm of his hand, the kind that they use to dose them morning, noon and night. It's only taken him a month of good behavior to move up to level three and that means he can close the stall door when he takes a shower and can wear his own pajamas to bed at night, plaid flannel pants that slip down some as Jared settles crosslegged on the floor to expose the skinny knobs of his hipbones and a faint trail of hair below his belly button, only now starting to darken.
"Have you ever played?" Jared gives the cup an experimental spin, has to chase after it when it skitters across the floor.
Jensen shakes his head. He's heard about this game, how it happens at the kinda parties he never any interest in going to when he was on the outside and has no chance of ever going to now that he's on the inside.
"It's your turn," Jared whispers.
"Shouldn't there be more of us?" Jensen asks, screwing around with the lip of the cup so it sits more flatly on the linoleum.
"Do you wanna invite the guy next door? He's one batshit fucker," Jared says and giggles, a nervous tittering sound.
Jensen spins the cup and it's his turn to catch it before it rolls under his desk. "It's not working."
"It has to," Jared insists, a small frown of concentration drawing his eyebrows together. He tries again and Jensen makes it stop, turns it until the open end is pointing in his direction.
"You don't need an excuse," Jensen says.
Jared lets out a deep breath that sounds like relief and moves nearer to him until their knees are touching. He slides Jensen's glasses off and everything is rendered hazy and indistinct, the whole wide world without definition except for Jared, the curve of his mouth and the size of his hands on Jensen's thighs, the small mole beside his nose and the way the line of his jaw is starting to lose its little boy roundness, take on a sharper angle.
Jensen holds his breath, covers Jared's hands with his own as Jared inches closer still, doesn't close his eyes when Jared touches their mouths together, sweet and awkward and heartbreakingly cautious.
And Jensen, whose hands never shook as he orchestrated and carried out three unspeakable acts and who's never really had a firm grip on the human range of emotion, can't stop the tremble in his fingers and choked sound of his voice when he says, "Do it again."
Jared likes to take his showers early, so Jensen does as well, nowadays. It's Jared at his best, his most solid, after the night meds have worn off and before the morning ones kick in.
"I had a dream about you last night," Jensen admits, careful and soft, so quiet that Jared doesn't have to hear if he doesn't want to. Jared is listening very, very hard, however. He's always listening, stops scrubbing his teeth and gazes at Jensen's reflection in the polished metal, quirks his eyebrow and his mouth.
Jensen's least favorite ghost, the meanest one, stops nipping at his ankle and scuttles backward across the floor with a low growl.
"You were in a lake and it was on fire, boiling," Jensen says, "and dead things were floating to the surface."
Jared finishes brushing his teeth, spits, slowly spins to lean against the sink and draws Jensen closer, one finger hooked into the waistband of his pants.
"But none of it could touch you," Jensen goes on. "You were safe. Above it somehow. You were dangerous."
Faster than a thought, Jared's eyes go from curious to dark and Jensen swears he can see the fire from his dream flare inside of them. Jared backs him into a shower stall, kicks the door closed, pushes him hard against the cold, unforgiving tile and kisses him, leaves the taste of mint in Jensen's mouth as he licks up Jensen's throat, nips at his skin in a way that's sure leave a mark and sure to raise a few questions but fuck it. Fuck it.
Jensen's head is about to fly away, his legs are unreliable and his feet feel numb, but Jared's the one who sinks to his knees, pulls Jensen's pants down to puddle around his ankles and noses at Jensen's thickening cock, smears the tip of it against the seam of his lips and then sucks it in. It hits Jensen like a punch he didn't see coming, a concussive blast as Jared gags, pulls off to catch his breath in huge whooshing pulls and gets back to it. Jared swallows, throat working as he tries to take more of Jensen's cock in, claws at his hips and all around them the tiles are beginning to melt as Jensen's orgasm builds, antiseptic white porcelain swirling around the drain.
The next time Jared kisses him, he doesn't taste like toothpaste anymore.
He spins Jensen, pushes at the back of his head until Jensen's cheek is pressed against the tile, open mouth on Jensen's neck while he works his hips in stuttering jabs. His knuckles smack onto the small of Jensen's back and he groans through his orgasm, all helpless and needy as his spunk drips into the dip of Jensen's spine.
"I think I know why I ended up here," Jared says later, once they've scrubbed each other clean only to get each other dirty all over again.
Jensen hums, still mostly dazed and entirely taken up with the curl of Jared's hair into the shell of his ear and thinking that breakfast sounds like a really good idea and hoping that they have sausage because it would be really fun to watch Jared eat it.
"I'm here to help you," Jared explains.
Jensen's blood turns to ice, knives slice into the spaces between his ribs and he's suddenly wide awake. It only takes one deep breath to detach, grow calm. Some may say it's his singular talent. He's had a lifetime of people who want to help him, of being told that his version of reality isn't the right one. Besides, Jared isn't the only one who hasn't had his morning meds. At least the Christ complex makes sense now.
The shift has got to be obvious, because Jared trips backward a few steps at Jensen's steady approach. "No. You're not getting it," he says, hoarse, barely a whisper, and damned if he doesn't look a little excited. Turned on. "I wanna bring you back. The real you. Not the one who drools through his lunch and spends hours painting clouds and rainbows. Holy shit, you're so hot right now." He takes Jensen by the back of the neck, rubs his thumb into the short hair at Jensen's nape.
Maybe there is something incredible about this guy, who's willing to sift through a world of angels for the sake of one demon, and when he finds it at last, tongue fucks the hell out of it.
"I remember now," Jared says one night. He's sprawled beneath Jensen's bed, one hand reaching up to curl along the edge of the mattress. Sometimes Jared needs enclosed places the same way that Jensen sometimes needs to see someone's ribs cracked open.
"Remember what?" Jensen asks, and slots his fingers into Jared's.
"You were a headline."
Jensen chuckles. "Small town, big news." He kisses the palm of Jared's hand before sliding out of bed and partially under it, closing Jared in even more. "Were you a headline, too?"
There's a flash of slick white as Jared smiles. "Small town, big news," he parrots. "If I'd had five more minutes I coulda brought him back though."
"Maybe you were saving it all up," Jensen suggests and worms his way further under, far enough that he can get a hand between Jared's legs.
"Yeah," Jared says, already starting to grow hard under Jensen's palm. "I think you're onto something."
They've screwed with Jensen's medication again, weaned him off of one of his anti-psychotics and put him on another that's supposed to have fewer side effects. Stupid bastards never stopped to think that Jensen liked those side effects, maybe even needed them a little, can't stand the sensation of his blood pumping through every finger and every toe, the rush of it in his ears. He sweated through his second pair of pajamas for the night and now he's sweating for a brand new reason.
Jared's buried inside of him, three fingers deep, his other hand shoving Jensen's legs so wide his bones groan. Jared's hair is matted to his forehead in chunks as he looks down, stuck on the stretch and give of Jensen's body, can't stop telling Jensen how pretty he is, how he's always been so beautiful, so good, only shuts up when Jensen gathers a handful of his hair and pushes his face down, smears it into the puddle of precome pooling on his stomach as he clenches his thighs tight against Jared's shoulders.
They’ve given up hiding, trying to be discreet, wear the bites and bruises they leave on each other's skin like backward badges of honor, hold hands in the breakfast line and the last time someone told them not to touch Jensen had pulled Jared to the ground and was halfway to getting his rocks off before they could stop them. That got them four days in solitary, four days of talking through the air vents in their rooms, fantasizing about cities on fire and all the things they planned on doing to each other when they were let out. It doesn't matter. They're in it for life.
Jensen shoves Jared off and rolls them over, straddles Jared's skinny hips and sinks down on his cock, fast and rough right from the beginning. He likes it when it hurts, needs to feel the reminder of Jared whenever he takes a step.
The ghosts are back, spinning all around his head and begging for attention, but Jared's taken up all of it, clawing into Jensen's back, leaving fresh marks alongside the old ones. He drops a hand to Jensen's cock and jacks him hard, palms still wearing the calluses of the god-fearing farm boy he used to be and Jensen falls forward, slips his fingers through the sweat on Jared's throat and notches his thumb on the underside of his jaw to feel the jittery thump of his pulse.
His mind walks away, sinks into grey-white nothing as he comes and when it finally settles back Jared's still squirming underneath him, pushing up and up and up like he's trying to get further inside, inside all the way which is ridiculous, pointless, because he's already carved his way into all the cells in Jensen's body, every nerve fiber, every atom and the spaces between the atoms.
Jensen follows the line of his own arms like they belong to someone else, finds his hands wrapped tightly around Jared's throat. Jared's face is the most interesting shade of pink and he's laughing. Fucking laughing in great silent gasps as his orgasm hits, sloppy and sticky and leaking all over both of them.
New bruises are rising to the surface on Jared's neck and when he speaks, his voice is barely there, ghost-like. "I think you're almost back. So close."