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 (38/48)
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.



They’re twenty minutes into the session when Cate asks, “And how is Misha?”

“Fine,” Jeremy says, too fast. It’s been several days, but he still feels the lingering ache of the flogging where his back presses against Cate’s couch. “Are we talking about Misha?”

Cate pours herself another cup of tea. Her mug is hideous and homemade, a gift from Ryzer with a wobbly portrait of stick-figure Cate. It clashes with her lilac sweater and with the serene office. The late afternoon sunlight slanting across the room, the pot of tea… it’s miles away from the institution where they first met.

But some part of Jeremy always wonders if she’s locked the office door. If he could get out if he needed to.

Of course he can. But he wonders anyway.

“Would you like to talk about Misha?” Cate asks. “I know we had agreed to avoid that for now, but the offer’s on the table.”

“I don’t know how you drink that much tea without needing to pee a billion times per hour.”

Cate smiles. “Evasion.”

“Yeah,” Jeremy admits. The truth is that he doesn’t want to evade anymore. All the stuff that’s been happening with Misha, the kissing and the kink and the giddy welcome comfort of it, and nobody outside the house knows. He can’t tell Wendy or Z. He can’t tell Jeff. Cate is the only one he can talk about this with. Cate is safe. “We should probably talk about Misha.”

“I’ll admit I’m curious. Misha is a mysterious figure. He keeps himself to himself, as they say.”

Jeremy shrugs. “Hard to talk to people when they don’t speak your language.”

In response, Cate signs, I’m learning. Slowly.

“Hey, that’s awesome.” Jeremy beams at her. “It’s harder to read sign than it is to sign. Muscle memory. So if you want somebody to sign with, just call me.”

Cupping her hands around the mug again, Cate says, “I’m not the only person trying to learn ASL. It’s clear you’re fond of him.”

Jeremy is automatically alarmed that any of his feelings are clear; he has so many to hide. “Oh?”

Adding insult to injury, Cate reads his expression and laughs. “No, Jeremy, you’re still as opaque as ever. It’s only regarding Misha.”

“Well.” Jeremy leans harder into the couch, needing the ghost of that night at Indira’s. That moment of reassurance. “We’re friends.”

“I’m glad. You can do with more friends. Especially those you allow close.”

Jeremy gestures at the room around them: the couch, the teapot, Cate herself curled like a cat in her armchair. “I’m talking to you about this, aren’t I?”

“You are,” Cate says. “And I’m glad to be in your confidence. ButI don’t know if you’d be seeing me without Misha.”

Jeremy has the perverse, kneejerk urge to say that Misha has no influence on him. He’s spent all the years since the hospital trying like hell to stand on his own feet. His disasters are of his own making, and even that is a point of pride. But he can’t deny Misha has changed everything. So, grudgingly, he says, “I’d probably be off hiding in crazy town.”

“You do have a habit of disappearing to lick your wounds. Of not allowing much intimacy.”

“You should talk.”

The corner of Cate’s eyes crinkle with her rueful smile. “Like recognizes like. We’re talking about you right now. I think you letting Misha in is a sign of growth, not a detriment.”

“Maybe.” Jeremy realizes belatedly that he’s fidgeting, his knee bouncing like he’s ready to leave. He forces himself to stop. Sighs. “It just sort of happened. He already saw me at my worst.”

“Being mentally ill isn’t a failure of character, Jeremy. We’ve discussed this before.”

Yikes, evade. “Yeah. And I told you before, it’s all in my head and what I do. Does it matter if I’m crazy or if I’m just a douchebag? I’m still hurting people.”

“And like before, we come to a stalemate.” With a gesture of her hand, Cate dismisses the old argument. “We’re not going to change each other’s minds in the rest of the session. Do you mind if we keep talking about Misha?”

“Yeah, it’s cool.”

The grooves of that fight are set in stone from repetition, since they’ve been having it since Jeremy first got out of the hospital. Blah blah self-compassion, blah blah chemical imbalance, blah blah he’s a slave to his fucked-up brain. Jeremy forces himself out of the worn path.

“Misha and I talk a lot. He’s like you. I end up telling him things. He asks smart questions. He’s gotten under my skin, I guess. He’s...” Jeremy stops, the pressure of words in his head. It’s both like and unlike being manic; it’s everything that he wants to say about Misha, his quirks and his sense of humor and his empathy, that he hasn’t had anyone to tell. He hasn’t felt like that since… fuck, since Jeff, when he kept everything quiet because he was 16 and alone and stupidly in love.

“He drove you to a session,” Cate says. “And he’s waiting for you in my house. I don’t remember you letting anyone do that before. Even Wendy or Zach.”

“I know. It’s weird. I let him in, but I don’t mind. I don’t feel…” Jeremy spreads his hands, helplessly. “Trapped. Scared.”

Cate nods. Reflects back at him, “It sounds intimate.”

Too aware of the clock ticking down on his hour, Jeremy rips off the bandaid: “I brought him Indira’s.”

It’s kind of a non-sequitur. Bless Cate, because she doesn’t struggle to follow. “Indira Varma?”

“You know, the domme. She owns that place downtown.”

“I know of her.” Cate leans forward, resting her elbows on her knees. “Am I supposed to be appalled? I’m not.”

“We didn’t have sex.”

“I wouldn’t be appalled if you’d had sex with him.” Cate raises an eyebrow. “The last time we spoke, you weren’t sure if he was interested in sex.”

Jeremy barks a laugh, thinking about talking with Misha about dildos. “He’s interested. Believe me.”

“Do you still find him attractive?” When he just laughs again, more bitterly, Cate nods in understanding. “Can I make an observation?”

“Why do you think I told you?”

“You are friends, but you’re also as close as lovers. I think only sex is keeping you from seeing it as a romantic relationship.” Cate holds up a hand to stop him from interrupting, although he isn’t going to; his heart is in his throat, locking any words in. “And telling him how you feel.”

Hearing her say it out loud is both a relief and balls-out terrifying. Jeremy exhales. “I don’t want to lose him. Or hurt him.”

“You and Jeff are always so concerned about hurting other people,” Cate says, a funny little quirk to her smile. “As if hurting yourselves doesn’t count.”

It doesn’t, Jeremy almost says. But that isn’t what she wants to hear, and he doesn’t want an unproductive circular argument about whether he’s a bad person. “What if he says no? What if he’s disgusted? What if he’s afraid?”

“What if he says yes?” Cate counters. “You’ve tried hiding your feelings and it’s cost you. I know you have regrets. I also know that you can do this.”

Wrenchingly, desperately, Jeremy says, “Can I?”

“Oh, Jeremy.” Setting her tea aside, Cate reaches for his hands. Jeremy lets her take them, even if it reminds him, for a second, of restraints. Her hands are still warm from the mug. “Yes. Of course you can.”

***

Jensen got a cat, Misha signs, and hands Jeremy his phone.

The photo is indeed a cat, an orange kitten that's about 90% ears. "That's adorable. He says it's Jared's cat, though."

Misha gives Jeremy a look. Jared has a lot of animals. But Jensen took pictures of this cat.

"Oh." Jeremy considers. “Awesome. That sounds like progress.”

And hell, if Jensen can make progress, maybe Jeremy can too.

Date: 2016-01-26 05:40 am (UTC)
poisontaster: Misha Collins (Misha!)
From: [personal profile] poisontaster
You know, I sort of missed it the first time around, but I love the quiet hilarity of Cate READING Jeremy to tell him that he's opaque as ever. I mean, I think there is ALSO truth to it, but there's a certain amount of Jeremy needing certain illusions about himself to keep himself from freaking out beyond his ability to handle.

We all need our illusions, right?

And I still love Misha's matter of fact, "Jared has a lot of animals. But Jensen took pictures of THIS cat." Also, the idea of Jensen taking pictures of Pickles.

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nilchance: Picture of a pomegranate with spilled seeds, text "I think you're confused, I'm not Persephone" (Default)
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