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 (40/48)
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. Special thanks to poisontaster for checking this chapter for Jensen's characterization.



Jeff is the one that called for help in the middle of the night, but Jeremy has Jeff in hand. (Misha tries not to think about the innuendo in that statement.) So Misha goes looking for Jensen, mostly to get out of the way. If Jensen truly doesn’t want company, Misha can play endless rounds of Tetris in an unobtrusive corner.

In the early morning quiet, the tapping of Misha’s cane seems obscenely noisy. Not a creature stirring, almost; he finds Sam in the kitchen kneading bread and slips away before she can notice him. He doesn’t know if Sam speaks sign, and he’s not up for a second round of charades.

He finds Jensen in a small formal room off the kitchen. Jensen is staring out a window into the backyard, a neglected tea cup at his elbow. Somehow Jensen seems diminished in the absence of other people, but Misha hesitates in the doorframe, unsure of his welcome.

In the end, Misha clears his throat to signal his presence. Sharply, Jensen swivels towards him, and relaxes when he sees that it’s Misha. Funny how that lights an affectionate warmth in Misha’s heart.

Sorry, Misha signs. Jeff called Jeremy over. I wanted to see if you’re okay.

“I’m fine,” Jensen tells him, and indicates the chair beside him. Jensen’s clothes are uncharacteristically wrinkled and plain, as if they were pulled from the floor in a rush.

Hesitating, Misha says, I don’t want to bother you.

“Please,” Jensen says. “I like your company. Let me get you a tea cup. It’s only plain black tea, but I need the caffeine.”

The rituals of hospitality. It seems to soothe Jensen to have someone to help, so Misha doesn’t object. He signs his thanks, dropping into the offered chair. Pain is an ember in his thigh; he kneads at it as Jensen retrieves a cup and pours the tea.

Did Jeff keep you up all night? Misha asks. I mean that pornographically.

“Unfortunately no. And you?”

Not yet. I have hopes. I kissed Jeremy.

Jensen raises his eyebrows, interested. “What did he think?”

We’ve done it again. It must not be appalling. Misha smiles. Thanks to the lipbalm, probably. And your tutoring.

“Hm. I don’t think he would turn you away in any case.” Still, Jensen smiles back. “Thanks, though.”

I asked him to shotgun me, Misha says. He may have turned me away otherwise. Is that cheating?

“There's no cheating in body slavery. I don’t think he’d have made the first move. They’re all… skittish about that. In case they’re not welcome.” Jensen says, “You may want to wait for him to take the next step.”

He asked me to go with him to Indira’s, Misha says. Half question, half brag. He let me watch.

Jensen blinks. “You’ve been holding out on me. Did you like it?”

Misha hums, definitely smug now. He can’t help it, but he doesn’t even try. I wasn’t sure I would. I did it mostly because he asked and because you suggested it. But I enjoyed it. I was glad to give him something he needed.

“Who did he see?” Jensen asks, all professional interest. “Mistress Violet does good work.”

Indira, Misha says.

“Really?” Leaning forward in his seat, Jensen studies Misha. “She doesn’t work many individual sessions these days, or so I’ve heard.”

Interesting. So Jeremy merited special attention. Misha has twin reactions of pride (that other people see that Jeremy is valuable and lovely) and feral possessiveness. I think they’re friends. She tried to convince him to quit his job and be her boy.

Jensen cocks his head. “He must be good. I wonder if he and Jeff--”

There are footsteps in the hall.

An older woman passes by the doorway, pausing to look in at them. She looks washed out and tired. She reminds Misha of a 21st century version of a gothic horror character, a ghost wandering the moors while wringing her hands. Although a gothic horror character might not have such big hair. Misha finds himself charmed. Something about the bone structure of her face...

Jensen doesn’t look at her, though his posture radiates awareness that she’s there and watching. He has one of his unnerving nothing expressions on. It’s the least courteous thing Misha’s ever seen Jensen do. The woman breaks eye contact and continues on her way.

Who is that? Misha asks.

“No one,” Jensen says shortly. His index finger taps on the tea cup. “A guest of Jeff’s.”

That raises more questions than it answers. A moment ago, Misha would have guessed that Jensen would never give one of Jeff’s guests such a cold shoulder. Misha almost asks, and he would if it was Jeremy, but Jensen looks so tired and sad. Even curiosity can’t make Misha prod at him.

“Did you know your mother?” Jensen asks, abrupt. When Misha blinks at him, feeling slapped by the question, Jensen makes a smoothing over gesture. “No, never mind. I shouldn’t have asked you that. I’m sorry.”

I knew her in a literal sense, Misha signs. Figuratively, no. I didn’t understand her at all.

It’s too mysterious a thing to say aloud. The question stirs up the deep waters of memories, anger rising like silt. Misha makes himself shrug it off and smile.

“She’s dead now,” Jensen says, not quite asking.

You could look at my provenance. Before Jensen can accept the implied rebuke, Misha continues, We were in a train station in Chicago. She had a warrant out for her arrest. Sedition. Debt. The police took me first. She saw it. She grabbed my brother and fell onto the tracks. It was fast, at least.

“I’m sorry,” Jensen says, both sympathy and apology, letting Misha decide which way to take it.

It was a long time ago. For once Misha is grateful for the aphasia, because he can pretend his voice would be steady. He looks into the teacup and still sees it: the knifelike sheen of the train under fluorescent lights, the horrified grandmother covering a toddler’s eyes, the driver’s mouth still open in a bleakly hilarious ‘oh.’ Then he blinks and it’s gone. His eyes are dry. She always promised she wouldn’t let us be slaves.

Sudden acid in his voice, Jensen says, “Being a bodyslave isn’t a fate worse than death. It isn’t the worst thing that can happen to someone. I’m not-- I’m not sorry I’m alive.”

Misha tilts his head. He almost asks if Jeff said something, but instead he tells Jensen, I’m glad you’re alive, too.

“Many of my masters were kind. I was good at it.” As if realizing belatedly what he admitted, Jensen squares his shoulders and adds, “I am good at it.”

Of course you are, Misha says. He wants to ask what the hell happened, if ‘Jeff’s guest’ did this, why Jeff called them over in the middle of the night. He doesn’t know how to ask these things without pushing Jensen off an emotional ledge. He wishes to be good at this, instead of everything Vincent taught him that he can no longer use. Jeff’s lucky to have you.

Jensen shakes his head, denying. “I’m lucky to have him.”

And maybe Misha is starting to believe that.

Carefully, Misha reaches over for Jensen’s hand. Jensen lets him take it, his smile like a pale moon of itself. Misha isn’t used to touching anyone but Jeremy; Jensen’s skin is softer, his hands elegantly manicured. It’s surprisingly nice to hold Jensen’s hand. Grounding Misha in the now.

“Thanks for telling me about your mother,” Jensen says after a few moments. “I’m sorry if I brought it back. It’s easier, sometimes, if you can just forget about things.”

Misha nods, then signs one-handed, You have nothing to be sorry for.

“If only,” Jensen says, bitter as oversteeped tea.

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