nilchance: Picture of a pomegranate with spilled seeds, text "I think you're confused, I'm not Persephone" (jeremy b/w)
[personal profile] nilchance
Title: Outtake #2: Trigger
Author: [livejournal.com profile] nilchance
Pairing: Misha Collins/Jeremy Sisto
Rating: Adult
Disclaimer: This isn't real.
A/N: Set in [livejournal.com profile] poisontaster's A Kept Boy 'verse. This story deals with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder, and with slavery as used in the AKB 'verse. There's also mention of suicide, the death of Misha's mother, verbal and physical abuse. It's a story about mothers. Set slightly further along in That Middle Road, but no spoilers for the main arc.



“You don’t have to come in,” Jeremy offers again.

The car is parked already, idling in the half-moon driveway out front of the Gibbs house, but Jeremy shows no inclination to get out. He’s tapping his fingers on the steering wheel like he does after a challenging therapy session.

Do you want me to wait in the car? Misha asks. Honestly.

“Well, there goes my plan to blatantly lie.” Jeremy glances at him, then at the house. “No. I might be a while. I don’t want to make you wait.”

This is not a very good explanation, but Misha grabs hold of it. He doesn’t want to wait in the car, though he brought a book in case Jeremy insisted. This is his first chance to meet Jeremy’s parents, since Jeremy is separated from his father by philosophy. Meadow had been... enlightening. Misha wants to study Jeremy from this angle, his mother a shadow cast on Jeremy’s painted screen.

As they’re still climbing out of the car, the front door opens. A man stands there, looking severe. Jeremy doesn’t wave or hurry, taking Misha’s arm to help him navigate the front path. Misha doesn’t need the help, but he doesn’t swat Jeremy away as he might with better known company.

“Your mother is in one of her moods,” the man says before they’re even at the front steps.

Of course there would be steps.

“You said that on the phone,” Jeremy says to his stepfather. “Hello, Richard.”

Richard Gibbs sighs, then reaches out and briefly grips Jeremy’s arm. It’s probably meant to be affectionate, but Misha winces a little, thinking of Jeremy’s aversion to his wrists being pinned. Jeremy holds very still, not breathing, until Richard lets go. Richard blinks over his glasses at Misha for a moment but doesn’t ask.

“Hello, son,” Richard says. “You look well. Only your mother locked herself in her rooms again, so...”

Jeremy nods. “Is Jane in there with her?”

“Yes.” Holding the door open for them both, Richard fiddles with his cufflinks and frowns at Jeremy. “She’s not quite herself these days.”

Jeremy half-smiles. “Who else is she?”

Richard doesn’t smile back, but some of the starch leaves his spine. “You know the way, I suppose.”

It turns out that Jeremy does. They part ways, Richard disappearing into what looks like an office. The carpet is white, the walls are white, there are no pictures. Light pours in many windows. From somewhere, Misha smells coffee and furniture polish. He wonders how old Jeremy was when his mother remarried; he can’t imagine a child in this house, or even a teenager.

Misha thinks of the car he lived in with his brother and mother, a lifetime ago. It had been dark and close, bitterly cold in the winter outside the blanket-huddle Misha and Sasha made, sticky hot in summer, smelling of pamphlets and samosas and adolescent sweat. Despite himself, he remembers picking their mother’s skull fragments out of Sasha’s hair at Escrow, and the traitorous thought: it must be nice to have a mother to avoid.

Sometimes Jeremy walks too fast and then has to stop to let Misha catch up, but not now. Now he reaches for Misha’s free hand and they walk like that, fingers tangled. It’s nice. Misha looks at the side of Jeremy’s face, trying to puzzle out his wary expression. He frees his fingers to sign, what’s wrong?

“Nothing,” Jeremy says. “It’s fine.”

This is not exactly convincing, given what Misha knows of Jeremy’s definition of fine.

There’s a closed door at the end of the hall. As they approach, Misha’s cane clicking, Misha can hear muffled voices.

Jeremy pauses outside the door, reaches into his back pocket and retrieves the car keys. Dangling them from the hook of his fingers, he says, “Here. In case you get tired.”

Why would I get tired? Misha asks, puzzlement sliding into annoyance because he’s not that crippled yet. He doesn’t understand and he feels increasingly like he needed a debriefing before they left the house.

Jeremy only gives him another of those hunted looks and opens the door.

Compared to the whitewashed brightness of the house, the room is profoundly dark. Misha feels a real resistance to stepping inside where he can’t see where he’s putting his feet, but Jeremy is going with or without him. Misha follows, groping blindly for Jeremy’s arm, blinking as the door closes and his eyes start to adjust.

There is a table, two women, a tea service. One woman is blonde, wearing a tailored men’s suit. The blonde seems stiff-postured. The other is Jeremy’s mother. Same crinkle around the eyes, same dimple, same color of hair. She’s wearing a girlish braid, a flat-iron still on the table, but a stray curl has escaped straightening and restraints. She seems terribly young to Misha, but the family resemblance clutches at his heart.

“Darling,” she cries, and springs up to grab Jeremy in a hug. She’s barefoot, as tall as Misha, wearing one of those nightgowns that could double as a dress (or vice versa). She smells like cake.

“Hi,” Jeremy says, muffled but grinning, all his wariness gone. “You look nice.”

It must be nice to have a mother, that same bitter voice whispers; Misha kicks it into silence.

“You like it? I call it my Miss Havisham couture.” Jeremy’s mother stops hugging long enough to cup his cheek, peering at him. “You look tired.”

Predictably, Jeremy tells her, “I’m okay.”

“Well, you have such bags under your eyes.” Patting Jeremy’s cheek one last time, she looks at Misha. “I see why you’re not getting any sleep. He’s very pretty, Jeremy.”

Jeremy’s wary look snaps back fast. “It’s not exactly like that.”

“Still listening to your father, then. Oh, no,” she waves her fingers, “let’s not talk politics. Shall you introduce us?”

Jeremy puts a hand on Misha’s back, over the blade of his shoulder. “This is Misha. Misha, my mother, Mistress Gibbs--”

“Mistress Reedy, please,” she corrects, still smiling, and offers her hand.

Automatically, Misha kisses it. Etiquette lessons paying off in muscle memory. Vincent would be pleased. When she takes her hand back, clearly pleased, Misha tries sign: it’s an honor, Mistress Reedy.

“Oh,” she says, eyebrows raised. “I don’t speak slave sign, I’m very sorry.”

“Misha doesn’t talk,” Jeremy doesn’t explain further, putting his hand on Reedy’s arm. “Listen, you can’t shut yourself in here with the lights off for a week, it makes Richard twitchy.”

“The light bothers my eyes. Doesn’t it bother yours?” Without waiting for an answer, Reedy says, “A mute bodyslave is quite the dedication to the ideal of being seen and not heard.”

“Mom,” Jeremy says, low.

Reedy looks at him, eyebrows raised. “It’s a joke, darling. You are tired, aren’t you. Come and sit down, Jane just brought tea.”

“I can’t.”

Her eyebrows raise higher. “Oh. I understand.”

As if she said something sharper, Jeremy grimaces. To Misha, he says, “How’s your knee? Want a chair?”

Misha shakes his head. On the good days, he likes kneeling by Jeremy’s feet; other owners are more likely to forget that Misha is listening, and Jeremy seems to get comfort from Misha’s proximity. Jeremy is edgy, though Misha doesn’t know why, and he could use the support.

Also, Misha has to admit that he’s curious. Misha considers it his best quality. That and lying.

They go to the table. Misha kneels, wincing at the musty scent of the tablecloth, and rests his cheek on Jeremy’s thigh. Jeremy doesn’t respond except to pass a cup of tea down to him.

Under the table, Reedy’s feet are bare. Jane lowers herself haltingly to the floor beside her, grunting as she settles.

“I’m surprised your sister didn’t come,” Reedy says. “She’s in town, I hear, not that I ever see her.”

“She’s out interviewing pediatricians. Sent her regrets. She--”

“Don’t put your elbows on the table, darling.”

Jeremy exhales through his teeth. “Sorry.”

“She’s staying in town, then? With her young man?”

“No young man. Just her. And yeah, I guess she’s staying until the kid’s born.”

No mention of Meadow staying with Jeremy, or exactly who Meadow’s young man is. Misha swallows a smile at the idea of Denis as anybody’s young man.

“I don’t suppose she’ll get married,” Reedy sighs.

Jeremy’s foot starts to jitter. “You’d have to ask her. But I really doubt it. She’s not a big fan of anything that requires you to get registered at Walmart.”

“We’d hardly get a registry at Walmart,” she says, scandalized. “I have one at Macy’s.”

“I don’t think it really matters where you put the registry.”

“Well. What about you?” The table creaks as Reedy leans forward, putting her own elbows on the table. “You know you need someone to look after you. A wife? That Morgan boy.”

Misha frowns at her through the safety of the table. As if he knows, Jeremy strokes Misha’s hair.

“That was a long time ago,” Jeremy says, after a few too many seconds of silence. “Almost twenty years.”

“Oh, not that long,” she laughs. “You make me sound old. But you should be out there, dating, finding someone to help you when our condition sets in. To help you.”

“I pay a doctor for that.” Acid creeps into his careful neutrality. “You do, too.”

Reedy shrinks back into her chair. “I don’t like him.”

“You don’t have to like him, Mom,” Jeremy says, a sudden rush of words, “you don’t even have to go out of the house to see him, but you broke Jane’s ribs--”

Quick, Reedy snatches up Jeremy’s wrist and slaps the inside. The sound detonates the room’s quiet, echoes its shrapnel. “Bad,” she snarls, “you are terrible and you are just like your father and I hate--”

She bursts into tears, still clutching Jeremy’s arm.

Misha jerks around to stare at Jeremy, questioning: what the fuck just happened? But Jeremy won’t look at him, hair a curtain across his expression.

“You hate me,” Reedy sobs, her voice clotted thick. “I should just die. You deserve a better mother.”

Disentangling his arm, Jeremy rises to awkwardly hug her over the table. “No,” he says, sounding more tired than he had in the desert. “No, it’s okay, I don’t hate you. It’s okay. Shh. Shh. Please don’t cry.”

Misha notices that despite her self-flagellation, Reedy never apologized. Her hands are white-knuckled on Jeremy’s shoulders. Misha wants to rip Jeremy away. He wants his voice back so he can return Reedy’s words with his own.

Jeremy wanted him to stay in the car so he wouldn’t see this.

Misha should’ve seen this coming. He shouldn’t have been distracted by Reedy being a mother, he should’ve been as sharp assessing threats to Jeremy as ever, he should stop this, he should...

Without ever changing expression, Jane produces a pill case from her jacket pocket. She pours a small waterfall of pills into her cupped palm, touches Reedy’s shoulder, and murmurs her name. Misha realizes that he’s risen halfway to standing, allowing him to see over the table, and he sinks grudging back down to his haunches. He has a thinner view over the table, and his knee is screaming, but he can’t sacrifice his vantage point entirely. Reedy might strike Jeremy again, and if she does, Misha is going to drag Jeremy out to the car and damn the consequences.

Choking on her tears, Reedy lets Jane pull her down into her chair and feed her the pills with sips of tea. Jeremy remains standing, watching her. His expression is like stone.

In the distraction, Misha fishes his cell phone out and texts to Jensen: plz call my cell when you get this. need excuse to leave of meeting.

He can’t turn back time, spare Jeremy the experience of Misha seeing his mother slap him like a child, but he can offer an exit.

“Well.” Reedy gives a watery smile. “All forgiven. That was cathartic, wasn’t it? Do sit down, darling, I don’t like it when you hover.”

The phone rings, still set to the factory ringtone; Misha is glad he never submitted to childish impulse and replaced it with something obscene, because he only gets calls from strangers. Jeremy flinches, his attention jerking to Misha’s face. Blandly, Misha hands him the phone and signs, If you want to leave, Jensen’s calling about business.

Jeremy takes the phone, answers it, and after a moment, he says to Reedy, “Sorry, Mom, it’s business. Audit season. I’ve got to go.”

Misha will owe Jensen for this for years, though he doubts Jensen will think so.

Reedy tilts her head, her lower lip creeping between her teeth. There’s no calculation in her expression, no sign that the outburst was anything but the external flailing of her skewed brain chemistry. Maybe it’d be better if she did it callously. Maybe.

When Jeremy gives Misha the phone back, Misha can feel the fine trembling of his hands.

***

They drive home.

Jeremy talks, a torrent of words about nothing: game night coming up at Jeff’s house, a trick Winston has almost learned, a dress Marisa helped design, a wild story Ryzer told. All the while his fingers tick restlessly as if he’s trying to sign, too, as if he can fill up the car with unspoken and spoken words at once, as if he has to in order to stay away from that dark hot room where his mother cried. His lit cigarette hovers untouched, shaking a little, tracing paths of smoke.

And then Jeremy blurts out, “She’s not always like that.”

Misha signs, Okay.

“She’s on a bad regimen of pills.”

Okay.

“She’s my mother.”

Misha nods.

Jeremy is quiet for a moment. Then he says, “I know she’s going to kill herself one day.”

Very carefully, Misha takes Jeremy’s arm and kisses the unmarked inside of his wrist.
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