nilchance: original artist terry moore; blonde staring at canvas with nude male and black handprint (fandom)
[personal profile] nilchance
Title: That Middle Road (28/48)
Author: [personal profile] nilchance
Pairing: Misha Collins/Jeremy Sisto
Rating: Adult
Disclaimer: This isn't real.
A/N: Set in [personal 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 rape, suicide, institutionalization and self-harm. And polyamory. And kink. And a partridge in a pear tree.

They linger at Zach and Wendy's for a week. Jeremy works his way through the first titration pack of Lamictal, the ovals of Seroquel like slivers of blue moon, the neon of mania bleeding down into the gray cotton of depression. Misha feeds him pills with unflinching patience, makes him Gatorade by gallons to ward off the Lamictal headaches, and stiffly ignores every attempt to spell him in this duty-- including Jeremy’s.

The blood test comes and goes, unceremoniously, and Jeremy’s clean. He doesn’t feel the antiseptic relief of that first blood test post-hospital, when he’d been afraid for months that the guard had given him a disease to go with the nightmares. He doesn’t feel clean, but he feels safe. Safer when Zach fucks him without a condom that night, Jeremy trying to muffle his deep grateful cries against the curve of Wendy’s throat.

Jeremy sleeps a lot. He wraps himself in sweaters and quilts and hoodies, and is still freezing. He keeps his mouth shut, mostly, for fear of saying something stupid.

He watches Misha, and he keeps his hands to himself.
Jeremy gets up in the middle of the night, unable to stand his dry-mouth any more, and finds Misha awake.

He's perched on the edge of the couch, reading one of Wendy's library-sale romance novels. Zach's clothes, a borrowed t-shirt and sweatpants, look strange on Misha; fuck, even Misha's pajamas had been more tailored than clothes Zach wore out of the house. Vincent would be stroking out if he could see this, the clothes and the romance both. Jeremy can just picture the old man's face, his cross expression: "did you set out to corrupt my son or was it a happy accident?"

Jeremy doesn't think Vincent ever called Misha his son to his face.

Misha's hair sticks up in damp fisted spikes, fresh from the shower. There are bruised circles under his eyes. There's a cup of tea on the coffee table, a stack of other books by Misha's bad knee. Jeremy wants to touch his hair, the nape of his neck, to rest his thumbs in the hollows of Misha's clavicle. He feels very aware of the sex-sweat on his skin.

Jeremy grips the back of the couch with both hands, trying to keep them to himself. "Can't sleep?"

Misha shrugs eloquently. The neck of his shirt slips towards his shoulder, and he tugs at it, but not before Jeremy catches the glint of Vincent's collar.

Following Jeremy’s gaze, Misha touches the collar. His expression is an uneasy mix of self-consciousness and defiance.

Jeremy wants to ask a thousand questions: how bad are you hurting? does the collar help? why aren’t you sleeping? will you come to bed? Instead he settles for the safe question, the coward’s question, which is, “What kind of tea do you want?”

Whatever argument Misha expected, Jeremy’s derailed it. Misha gentles, his thumb still resting in a faint groove on the collar. What you’re having is fine.

Sure, Jeremy thinks, sure it is. Suddenly he feels for Jeff. He wants Jeff there, to shake him down for advice and to apologize for not being around and to ask how many new gray hairs in Jeff’s beard came from Jensen.

None of Jeremy’s slaves have ever been the vulnerable type, even Marisa in the early days with her shaved head coming in peach-fuzz, even Denis coming off junk. None of them would have followed him into the desert and made him Gatorade and then told him whatever tea he was drinking was fine.

He’s maybe overthinking this.

He could hurt Misha so bad. It’s like putting the keys to a Maserati in the hands of a blind man, just a wreck waiting to happen. Always crashing in the same car, as Bowie said.

Jeremy remembers how Misha’s throat felt in his hand, that first night, his fingers like the collar. But he also remembers the way Misha had looked at him, his expression a blank canvas, not like his stubborn funny self.

No. Jeremy doesn’t have the excuse of being manic anymore. Fuck, he’d knelt in front of Jeremy. All their wires are crossed wrong now. Better to give Misha his space.

Jeremy makes them both Sleepytime tea, the one with the bear in a nightcap on the box; he brings the two mugs and sets them on the coffee table in front of Misha. Then he picks up the discarded deck of cards and begins to shuffle them.

Misha turns his body towards Jeremy, close enough to touch. For a moment Jeremy thinks Misha might cross the distance between them, but he doesn’t. They don’t.

Aren’t you going back to bed? Misha asks him.

“Nope,” Jeremy says simply, and deals.
There's rain coming again. Jeremy can feel it in the late afternoon wind. The new drugs are still syrupy-slow in his head, in his veins, but it's better than yesterday and the day before that. He'd been falling asleep easier than Ryzer, feeling just as cranky when he tried to resist the implacable arms of afternoon naps. That had been frustrating.

He sits on the back porch of Zach and Wendy's, with Z on his guitar idling through the Eagles' discography. Somehow, between Zach and Jeff, Jeremy always ends up listening to the same cover of Lying Eyes. At least Zach put him to work snapping green beans for dinner, something to do with his hands instead of smoking an extra two packs a day.

“Ought to go home tomorrow,” Jeremy says. “Denis is kirking out.”

Zach glances at him, not pausing in his idle strumming.

Over in the corner of the yard, Misha and Ryzer are picking baby tomatoes from the vine. Nominally the tomatoes are supposed to go in a basket, but mostly Ryzer seems to be eating them. Misha sits in the grass and the dirt, heedless of his suit, his bad leg stretched out in front of him. His feet are bare, making Jeremy wonder if Misha's that moon-pale everywhere.

Ryzer picks a tomato and holds it out to Misha, stubbornly resisting any attempts Misha makes at trying to give the tomato back. When Misha opens his mouth, Ryzer pops the tomato into it and bursts into laughter. They grin at each other.

"He's good people," Zach says, his eyes on the frets as if he a) doesn't have muscle memory to match his guitar calluses, and b) he ever stops watching Ryzer around strangers. “The kid likes him.”

Jeremy hums an agreement. He didn't expect that, Misha knowing what to do with a kid aside from not letting him play with machetes. As far as he knew, Misha didn't even know any kids. But maybe dealing with Jeremy had prepared Misha for living with a toddler.

“I like him,” Zach continues after a pregnant pause.

Jeremy gives him the side-eye. “You got a point there, Zachariah?”

The corner of Zach’s mouth quirks up. He stops playing for a moment, fiddling with the tuning key in a way that reminds Jeremy heart-twistingly of Kane, and then says too casually, “Misha’s not sleeping.”

“No,” Jeremy replies, drawing out the word into an implied question, trying to be careful.

“He could sleep in the bed. If he wanted.”

Jeremy blinks. Zach is fiercely protective of his family, his home, his bed. He sleeps all elbows and knees, and sometimes he can’t stomach another man nearby when he’s vulnerable. He’s risking a lot to offer Jeremy this, his sleep overlaid with all the other masters before Jeff.

Tenderly, Jeremy cards through the curls at the nape of Zach’s neck and then cups his hand there. “No, man. That’s okay. Thanks.”

Zach tilts his head for better petting. “Sure. Go back to your yip dog. And Winston.”

“I’ll give Denis your regards.” Jeremy rests his thumb against the stubborn muscle where Zach’s neck gives way to shoulder. “I love you.”

“I know that, baby,” Zach says. It’s not something Zach calls him unless Jeremy’s being fucked, the endearment made filthy-hot instead of cloying. When Jeremy hisses, surprised by how easy it turns his crank, Zach smirks at him. He repeats, more aggravating and less sweet, “I know. I’m freaking Han Solo.”

Jeremy throws a green bean at him.
So they go home.

Being back in his own house, with his bed and his shampoo and his dog, comforts Jeremy in a primal way. Marisa’s shit is gone. When he goes looking, it turns out that Gina’s stuff is, too. That explains why Denis had looked so goddamn tired, which he’d worry about more if Denis didn’t immediately give himself the weekend off.

He’d stuck around to eat takeout, kvetch about always eating at the same place, steal the shrimp out of Jeremy’s fried rice, accuse Misha of pretending to be mute just so he didn’t have to talk to Jeremy, try to shovel more food on Misha’s plate, rant about LA vegetarians, and imply that he’d still fuck Jeremy’s little sister. That was, in their language, practically sonnets of undying affection.

Denis is probably off to the strip club with Kane. Whatever. God knew Denis deserved it. Jeremy would’ve given him a kidney if he’d asked.

“I ought to go work,” Jeremy says, after the dishes have been washed.

Misha’s just sitting at the table, blinking slow heavy blinks, hands cupped around his mug of tea. He doesn’t seem to have heard what Jeremy said.

Jeremy stops himself from stroking Misha’s hair back from his forehead like he’s a sleepy kid. “Mish,” he says, pouring that gentleness into the word. “Go to bed, okay?”

Misha cranes his head back to look up at Jeremy. His eyes look darker tonight. He nods, agreeable, but doesn’t move when Jeremy makes good on his promise to go work.

The Miller account left a stack of files the length of Jeremy’s forearm. That’s its own relief, work like white noise blocking out the sirens in his head. When Jeremy retreats to the living room sofa with a chunk of statements to audit, Winston lurks in his line of sight. The dog’s sulky now after his initial ecstatic greeting, like he just figured out that for Jeremy to come back he had to first leave. He’s pleased by Jeremy’s peace offering of bacon, settling in to gnaw at it.

Jeremy turns on the television to keep him company, folds himself up on the couch... and just sits there, listening for Misha to go upstairs. There’s nothing, no sign Misha’s shifted from his sentinel post at the kitchen table.

Dropping the remote onto the paperwork, Jeremy heads back into the kitchen. Misha’s still at the table, looking lost, and that aches. Jeremy goes to him, hovering for an awkward moment; when Misha doesn’t look up at him, his attention angled at the kitchen floor, Jeremy sits on the floor in his way.

Maybe it’s him trying to make up for Misha kneeling, even for a few seconds, but it seems to be the right approach. Misha looks at him, a crinkle between his eyebrows like Jeremy’s puzzled him, but at least he’s stopped the thousand yard stare.

“Hey,” Jeremy says. “You okay?”

I’m sorry, Misha signs. About the pills.

“We talked about how that saved my life, right?”

Misha flicks his fingers at him, like an irritated cat trying to express its disdain. That’s bullshit, he signs, and it takes Jeremy a second to even recognize ‘bullshit’, you’re angry about something.

It occurs to Jeremy how quiet the house is, only his voice to break it. “I’m not angry. Why do you say I’m angry?”

Because, Misha signs, snapping off the words, you haven’t touched me since you woke up. You’ve been careful.

Jeremy blinks. “I didn’t think you wanted me to.”

You didn’t ask, Misha signs, but all the hurt in his expression has worn away. He seems more indignant now. You could have, before making this apparently unilateral decision to spare me from your-- company.

Jeremy doesn’t think he’s imagining that Misha almost signed something instead of company. He can hear Vincent in that riot act, certainly, and he smiles a little. Misha narrows his eyes at him but doesn’t kick him in the face.

“You’re right,” Jeremy says. “I’m sorry. I should’ve talked to you.”

Misha rolls his eyes and spreads his hands, like he’s demonstrating to God this fool he’s been saddled with.

“I’m asking,” Jeremy says. “This is me, asking.”

He expects that to be the end of it, and so he gets up. As soon as he’s on his feet, Misha catches his hand. Misha’s fingers are cool. Misha puts Jeremy’s unresisting hand on him, on his shoulder. Then, watching Jeremy’s face, Misha guides Jeremy’s hand to his throat. Jeremy jerks, and Misha doesn’t try to hold him, but he sits with his throat offered to Jeremy’s fingers.

I want you to touch me, Misha signs, his eyes still intent on Jeremy.

“I’m not manic,” Jeremy says, like that explains anything outside his own head. Then, because Misha is still fucking watching him with those eyes, Jeremy rests the tips of his fingers on Misha’s throat. When Misha doesn’t flinch or hit him, instead tipping into the touch, Jeremy lets out a shuddering breath. He’s hard and he’s grateful for the way this hoodie covers his hips.“You don’t ask for much, do you.”

I can’t stop being a slave, Jeremy, Misha signs. You're my master. You can’t change it by torturing yourself.

“You sound like Cate.”

I can live with that, Misha muses, and butts his head against Jeremy’s arm. Amused, Jeremy pets his hair. Misha hums, a startling reminder that Misha isn’t completely silent, and that guns the engine on a thousand filthy thoughts Jeremy shouldn’t be having.

“Come on,” he says, and rests his hand on Misha’s shoulder. “We’ll watch some TV and I’ll do some work and you’ll probably fall asleep in five minutes.”

I will not, Misha protests.

Five minutes later, spooned firmly against Jeremy like they’re two necking teenagers, Misha does indeed pass out. Winston drapes himself across their feet. Jeremy works, comforted by the even rhythm of Misha’s breathing.

Date: 2012-10-27 01:52 am (UTC)
embroiderama: (Misha)
From: [personal profile] embroiderama
I love how they're such a family here. ♥

Date: 2012-11-10 12:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I think that's my favorite thing about this 'verse.

clever and trying

Date: 2012-10-27 02:27 am (UTC)
auroramama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] auroramama
They can be really, really good together.

Re: clever and trying

Date: 2012-11-10 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
They really can, when they're not driving each other up a wall. Misha has a great knack for cutting through Jeremy's bullshit.

Thank you!

Re: clever and trying

Date: 2012-11-10 02:22 am (UTC)
auroramama: (Default)
From: [personal profile] auroramama
Misha as the King's mute Fool? Beautiful.

ETA: Because silent communication is the perfect riposte to Jeremy's self-entangling webs of words. I expect Misha's grasp of sign is deep enough that he could confuse himself with it the way Jeremy does with words, if Misha had that particular issue in your universe.
Edited Date: 2012-11-10 02:35 am (UTC)

Date: 2012-10-27 07:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
ALL THE HEARTS-IN-EYES, EVER. *wallows happily*

Date: 2012-11-10 12:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heeeee, thank you!

Date: 2012-10-27 11:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*does happy dance for the update*

Seriously m'dear if I had half you talent in my little finger I would be delirious with joy. You write these characters with such love and devotion that their very core leaps of the screen.
Misha and Jeremy seem to dance around each others need for physical intimacy yet cling hard and fast with other issues in their lives. I do admit to a little bias when it comes to Misha, it might be my 'lame duck' quirk or merely the fact that you have written the character so that he appeals more to a certain type of reader. In either case, YAH and well done you.

Date: 2012-11-10 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my gosh, thank you! I'm glad you enjoy it.

Date: 2012-10-27 03:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I like it, lots!
Excellent Jeremy voice.

Date: 2012-11-10 12:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I find myself imagining Cate facepalming at them a lot and go from there. *g*

Date: 2012-11-10 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Absolutely, with added eye rolls and the occasional "Oh, Merton."

Date: 2012-10-28 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's...ack...aaaah! I just...beautiful. You create this sensuality, and delicacy, and love and fucked-up-ness and balance and longing and ALL THE THINGS every damn time.

No, Jeremy, please do NOT keep your hands to yourself. Everyone would be happier (me included :P)


Date: 2012-11-10 12:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!

I think Jeremy would be happier if he didn't keep his hands to himself, too. Or at least less stressed.

Date: 2012-11-11 11:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh...*pets Misha*
(seconds other comments) Lovely.


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