nilchance: Picture of a pomegranate with spilled seeds, text "I think you're confused, I'm not Persephone" (Default)
[personal profile] nilchance
Title: That Middle Road (33/48)
Author: nilchance
Pairing: Misha Collins/Jeremy Sisto
Rating: Adult
Disclaimer: This isn't real.
A/N: Set in 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 rape, suicide, institutionalization and self-harm. And polyamory. And kink. And a partridge in a pear tree.



“I don’t think I can do this anymore,” Jeremy says.

He’s been dreading this, but for a moment nothing happens. The quiet domestic moment in Zach and Wendy’s kitchen, paused. Wendy looks like Jeremy slapped her. Zach doesn’t have any expression at all.

Jeremy tried like hell: he made sure Ryzer was with Jared for the day; he didn’t accept food or coffee; he went to their place so he could get out fast. If there’s a handbook for dodging ugly break-up scenes, Jeremy’s following it. But he hates this.

“Wow,” Wendy says, and puts her mug down. “Okay? I can’t say I expected this.”

“I still love you guys. I still want to be friends.” Fuck, right into insulting cliches. “I can’t keep sleeping with you.”

“Why not?” Wendy asks. If she was angry, it’d be easier. She’s hurt. “Is something wrong?”

Yeah, Jeremy’s turning down easy sex; must be something wrong. Call the newspapers.

Jeremy rubs his forehead. “No. I just-- I’m not your husband, Wen. I’m not your boyfriend. We’re trying not to be suspicious.”

Wendy blinks at him. “Holy fuck, is this about what I said at dinner? About not needing another dude? It was a joke, honey, it was just something to say-- have you been stewing about this for three days?”

“Yeah,” Jeremy says. “Because it’s true. You don’t.”

“You’re coming over here to break up after one stupid comment--”

“We’re not breaking up,” Jeremy says. He hates the shake in his voice. “We’re friends, okay? We were friends that fucked and now we aren’t fucking. I’m opting out. That doesn’t change anything.”

Zach says, dangerously quiet, “Do I get some say in this? Or you two gonna decide over my head?”

“Zach,” Wendy soothes, reaching for his arm. Zach twitches away.

“Because I didn’t say shit, Jer. You didn’t ask. You figure Wendy’s voting for both of us? After all this time?” Zach stands up. His chair skids back a little. “Fine. Get out. Or does she gotta tell you that too?”

“Z,” Jeremy starts.

Shaking his head, Zach leaves the kitchen. A minute later, a door slams.

Jeremy and Wendy look at each other. The quiet feels like a shout.

“I’m sorry.” Angrily, she grinds tears off her cheek. “It was a stupid thing for me to say. I love you. Does that help anything?”

“I’m not doing this to hurt you,” Jeremy says. “Either of you. I just...”

“Yeah, well. Me either.” After a minute, Wendy pats his arm. “We’re okay. And you know Zach. He’ll get over it.”

“Or he won’t.”

“Or he won’t,” Wendy acknowledges. “But you better go anyway.”

****

When Jeremy gets home, Misha reads him like a book. Misha points at the kitchen table and levers himself up. Making tea now.

“I can do that,” Jeremy protests. Misha points at the table more emphatically. Reluctantly, Jeremy sits. He doesn’t even like tea, but he waits in silence for Misha to make some.

The silence is unexpectedly comfortable. Maybe because Jeremy doesn’t know what to say.

Eventually, Misha limps back to the table with a teakettle and two cups tucked in the crook of his arm. He sets the between them on a potholder Jeremy didn’t know he owned, pours two cups. The tea is scorching hot and looks strong enough to eat through a spoon.

Tea is customary, Misha signs. Tell me everything.

Jeremy planned to soften the edges of the argument, to say that he knows Zach will come around and that it’s no big deal. But Jeremy looks at Misha’s sympathetic face, and he cracks.

After two cups of tea, and the kettle has gone cold, Jeremy’s spilled everything. Misha doesn’t try to comfort him, just lets him be conflicted and hurt and resentful. Occasionally Misha asks a question, but mostly he nods and listens with his whole body. Jeremy thinks he might get that cliche about confession being good for the soul now.

“So,” Jeremy says, and finishes off the lukewarm tea. It’s bitter and it tastes like grass, but it helps.

I could’ve come with you, Misha says.

“I know.” Jeremy sighs. He forgets sometimes that Misha is new to this stuff. He’s never been in a relationship, never broken up. He’s the smartest person Jeremy knows and there are still huge gaps in his knowledge where social stuff should be. “It was awkward enough as it is. I swear, the next horrible thing I have to do, you can ride along.”

Horrible but necessary. You’re a free man, Jeremy, Misha signs. You decide who you fuck.

“Not always,” Jeremy says. The bitterness in his voice makes him wince. “I’m lucky. My dad was poor as fuck, and me and Meadow could’ve ended up in Escrow pretty easy. I barely scraped by when I was in college. Jeff paid for my treatment. Vincent gave me a scholarship, did you know that? They saved my life. I know it’s not the same, what slaves go through and what one asshole did to me, but. Free people still get raped.”

Misha doesn’t react to the word with shock or horror. He nods. Jeremy realizes that he already knew.

Well. Misha’s pretty perceptive, and Jeremy has nightmares. Hopefully he’s not that transparent to everyone. Maybe he should be appalled by someone knowing after all this time, but Misha keeps secrets.

You should be the one to decide, Misha signs. In this case, you are. You don’t owe anyone your body. Isn’t that what you told me?

“It’s not just about fucking. I need--” Jeremy gestures vaguely around his head. “I need to figure my shit out. I can’t assume I’ll be dead by forty anymore, and so nothing matters. I’ve got people.”

Forty? Misha asks.

“Well. Yeah.” Jeremy shrugs. “It was thirty when I was in my twenties. Twenties when I was a teenager. One in three people with bipolar disorder kill themselves.”

Misha’s eyebrows go up. Who told you that?

“Um.” Awkward, Jeremy says, “My mom. We’ve got a weird relationship.”

Misha chuffs an almost-laugh. One day I should tell you how my mother died. Anyway. When I started in your service, I researched. It’s one in three if you’re untreated.

Jeremy sits back in his chair, the world reshuffling itself like a deck of cards. “Oh.”

Misha’s face gentles. Lies, damned lies, and statistics?

“Stats aren’t really my deal.”

Misha hums noncommittally. Can I ask you to come with me on my unpleasant business? I need to go to Traci’s. She wants to see me tomorrow.

“Of course.” Jeremy remembers Cate: ask Misha what he wants. It doesn’t feel like the right time to do it. Instead, he says, “I’ll go with you anywhere you want.”

****

Zach calls that night.

“I’m still pissed,” Zach says. His voice is scratchy from yelling or crying. Or, knowing Zach, yelling and crying. He also sounds like he’s been drinking.

“I figured.” Jeremy sits on the edge of Misha’s bed. He’s pretending he can’t hear Denis and Misha eavesdropping. “Dude, I didn’t ask you because Wendy’s your wife. Not because you’re a slave. Okay?”

“Yeah, well. Whatever. You’re not going on disappear on me. That wasn’t a fucking question, it was me telling you. I will stalk your ass.”

“I’m not gonna disappear on you,” Jeremy says. “We’re still friends.”

Zach snorts. “You need to stop making friends with your ex, asshole.”

“That’s technically making an ex of my friend. Friends. Sorry, should I come over and set your car on fire?”

“That’s Jeff’s car. We rent. So torch it, we’ll put it on youtube.”

Jeremy laughs. It’s not really funny, but relief helps. “I’ll be over tomorrow with a lighter, if you want.”

“It’s a platonic date, I guess, you fucking jerk. My ass is prime ass. You’re missing out.”

“I’m pretty much sworn off anybody’s ass for a while.”

“Yeah, good luck,” Zach says. “You’re a slut, dude, you’ll last five days.”

“Thanks,” Jeremy says. “I’m platonically hanging up on you.”

“Go fuck yourself platonically, buddy,” Zach says, and hangs up first.

Date: 2015-12-09 06:53 am (UTC)
poisontaster: Misha Collins (Misha!)
From: [personal profile] poisontaster
You know, when I read this the first time, I really loved the line about Jeremy being able to choose who he fucks because I think it's an important idea that isn't said enough, but reading it through this time, I really like it because it's coming from Misha, because it's a slave telling a free man that he has a freedom that Misha doesn't have. Misha obviously isn't saying it in a bitter or hostile way here, but he could. And the fact that Misha isn't saying it bitterly, first of all, and that Jeremy needs to hear it, second of all, is a pretty brilliant thing.

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