Nightmares of Innocents (3/3)
Rating: T (for situations)
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Christian, Misha, and Chad
Genre: RPF, hurt/comfort
Disclaimer: None of these people belong to me; they all belong to themselves. None of this is true in any way, shape or form. I made it all up.
Warnings: This fic contains a form of infantilism although it is emotional and not sexual in nature, mentions of past child abuse as well as current physical and mental abuse.
Word Count: over 15,000 in total (4,000 this part)
Prompt: Written for the following prompt over at spnkink-meme: Jared adopted adultbaby!Jensen years ago, as a single father, and Jensen has been an adult baby so long that his ability to communicate is impaired; mainly he relies on crying for distress. When Jared is forced to go back to work more frequently, he hires a nanny to take care of Jensen and what Jared doesn’t know is that the nanny is abusing Jensen. The nanny pressures Jensen into not telling by saying that Jared loves his job and Jensen is being selfish, etc. PLEASE NO SEXUAL ABUSE! Any other type of abuse is fine.
A/N: I strayed a bit from the prompt by creating a hybrid kind of relationship between Jensen and Jared that resembles intantilism, but is different in many ways. I'm not sure how to classify it so I'm not even going to try. My love and appreciation go to etoile_etiolee for creating not one, but four gorgeous pieces of artwork for this fic. They will appear throughout the story. She has also been an inspiration to me and provided much encouragement, hand-holding, and cheer-leading. She is a fantastic friend. My thanks also go to alycat and kamikaze_redux for their invaluable enthusiasm.
Nightmares of Innocents
The next morning goes almost exactly the same as the previous one. To Jared's face, Mark is polite and servile, almost to the point of being condescending without actually crossing that line. Once Jared is gone though, it's like a switch flips and Mark's friendly smile becomes a predatory leer.
"Are you ready for our first game, Jensen?" Mark fakes a lunge and Jensen flinches, causing his nanny's mouth to curve up in a delighted grin. "Yesterday I went easy on you, it being our first day together and all. Today the games are gonna be a lot harder." Opening the messenger bag he has slung over his shoulder, Mark removes a tennis ball, tosses in into the air and catches it one-handed. "The first game is called 'Closet Ball.'"
At the word 'closet,' Jensen's blood runs cold and his fingertips go numb as if he'd fallen asleep in a strange position and cut off his circulation.
Not the closet, not the closet, not the closet, Jensen silently chants. Getting put in the closet means being hungry and thirsty and not getting let out for a really, really long time. Getting put in the closet means wondering if this time they're going to forget all about him, if they're going to let him waste away until there's nothing left.
His panic must show on his face because Mark say, "I can see you're anxious to begin so let's get started.
The inside of the closet is pitch black, not a single gap or crack in the well-made frame to allow even a sliver of light through. Jensen strains his eyes, thinking he only needs to open them wider or stare harder and he'll be able to at least make out shapes, but there's nothing.
Like the rest of the house, the closet is small with only enough room for a couple of coats to fit on the bar above his head and that's about it. There's definitely not enough space for Jensen to move around or stretch out on the floor, so he curls up with his knees drawn up to his chest and tries not to give in to his imagination.
In the darkness, Jensen feels the walls, which were already nearly on top of him, squeezing closer. The ceiling seems to get lower. The air seems to get thinner.
Jensen sticks his thumb in his mouth and whimpers quietly while huddled in a ball on the floor.
Without any warning, there's a loud bang and the door shakes in its frame. Startled, Jensen's heart begins to gallop like a race horse. Seconds later, the banging noise comes again along with the rattling of the door. After the fifth or sixth time, Jensen figures out that Mark is throwing his tennis ball against the closet door. Unfortunately, knowing what the noise is doesn't make it any less disturbing and Jensen's heart rate goes through the roof each and every time.
By the time Mark opens the door, Jensen is a twitching, shuddering mess, thumb lodged firmly in his mouth and eyes screwed tightly closed.
"That was a fun way to spend the morning, but now it's time for your bath." Mark announces. "Get up and let's go."
The bright light coming through the open closet door stings his eyes and all Jensen can do is blink up at his nanny in confusion.
"Get up." In a fit of temper, Mark kicks out with a booted foot, catching Jensen on the side of the head, right behind his ear. The force of the blow makes his vision blur; his stomach does a queasy somersault.
"Look what you made me do, you little shit." Mark's voice is an angry snarl.
Reality buckles, the world falls away, and Jensen loses time, finding himself naked in a bathtub full of water when he once again becomes aware of his surroundings. There's a mean-looking man standing over him, leering.
Jensen's head hurts and he can't see very well, his vision keeps graying out and then flashing as though someone is turning the lights on and off really fast. He doesn't recognize where he is and he's certainly never seen this scary man before.
"Ready? On the count of three – one, two, three." The man says as he grabs two handfuls of Jensen's hair and uses his tight grip to push Jensen's head under the water.
With his head fully submerged, no possible way to get any air, survival instincts take hold of him. Frantically, he claws at the arms holding him down. He jerks his head from side to side, despite the bursts of pain and disorientation that causes. He kicks, splashing water out of the tub. Nothing works and Jensen needs to breathe.
He's almost ready to give in to his body's demands and breathe in a lungful of water when the man pulls him up and turns to look back through one of the two doors leading out of the room they're in.
Even as Jensen is gasping and coughing, he hears what has caught the man's attention - the sound of yelling and running footsteps right behind them.
"Get your fucking hands off him you sonofabitch!" A tall man storms into the bathroom and shoves the mean man so hard that he goes crashing into the sink, arms flailing.
At the same time, another, shorter man holding a gun yells, "Freeze asshole."
Both men wear the scariest, angriest scowls Jensen has ever seen. He hunches down in the water and hopes they don't notice him.
His hopes of escaping undetected are destroyed as the taller man turns to look straight at him. "Did he hurt you, baby?"
Jensen's only thoughts are of getting away, hiding, bolting. His heart beats frantically and everywhere he looks he sees violence and pain. It's like he's in a foreign world and nothing makes sense. The pounding in his head is deafening.
The tall man takes a hesitant step toward him, hand outstretched, and Jensen scrambles away, out of the bathtub and through the unblocked door, leaving a trail of water behind him.
"Jensen!" The tall man cries.
Jensen hears more talking coming from behind him, something about, "calling Misha and Chad," but he doesn't care what the men are saying. All he cares about is finding somewhere to hide.
Jensen has found shelter and that's all he's capable of comprehending. He's safe as long as he stays hidden. Terrified, he huddles and shakes inside the low-ceilinged confines of his cave. Sometimes a face will appear at the entrance to his cave and sometimes there are voices - sad voices, cajoling voices, soothing voices, calm voices, upset voices and odd combinations and variations of them all. The voices are indistinguishable. It's all just noise and chaos and confusion.
One of the voices sounds more emotional than the others. "Last night when I got home from the office, I thought he was acting…more reserved, more apprehensive, but I thought…I don't know, Chris…I thought it was a normal reaction to change, that he just needed to get used to it. I can't believe I hired that bastard to take care of him. I can't believe I did this to him and I didn't even realize what I was doing. I can't believe I let it go on for two days. Two days! How could I have left him with that…that…monster for two days?"
"You didn't know, Jared. Hell, I didn't even know and I did the background check on the guy. He had no previous record, he had references. You couldn't have known. You have to stop beating yourself up about it because that's not helping Jensen now."
At the sound of his name, Jensen flinches and tries to flatten himself against the wall at his back. He doesn't want to attract any attention; he wishes he could become invisible or that all those people out there would just go away and leave him alone.
"Yeah, but I don't know what to do. How can we help him?" says the emotional voice.
"Misha, can you tell if he's okay physically? I mean, he's still sopping wet and I didn't see any blood, but…"
"Not from here, he's all the way in the back, up against the wall, and there's not enough light. I can't tell a thing, not without pulling him out of there by force and examining him and I don't think that's a good idea."
"Why don't we just move your bed away from the wall and get to him that way?"
"Maybe as a last resort that would work, Chad, but if we can get him to come out on his own, I really think he'll be better off."
"Wait a minute, I have an idea. Jared, keep talking to him. I'll be right back."
A hush falls. There's a scuffling sound and then a face, backlit and shadowed, peers in at him. Red-rimmed hazel eyes framed by lashes made spiky by moisture seek him out in the gloom of his cave. "Hey baby, are you ready to come out yet? There's no one here who would ever hurt you. I prom-." The voice chokes off on a sob and a tear rolls down the face to drip onto the floor.
"Jared, come on man. It's not your fault." Someone whispers.
"Okay, let me try."
More shuffling and the face disappears to be replaced by another. This one has short blond hair and squinty eyes. "Jensen, there's someone here who needs to talk to you."
Something fluffy moves cautiously toward his hiding spot and Jensen's breath catches in his throat. When it gets close enough, he can see what it is – a small, white rabbit, its long ears twitching nervously.
"Mr. Bun saw something terrible happen today and he's very, very frightened." The bunny covers its face with its tiny paws. "He really needs someone special to take care of him, someone who knows how he feels, because he's only a small and timid bunny and he's all alone."
An anguished keening sound begins low in Jensen's throat, quickly filling the enclosed space.
"Oh God." A hushed voice says.
"Shh, keep going, Chad."
"After what Mr. Bun has seen today, he doesn't know who he can trust anymore, he doesn't know who his friends are." The bunny shakes and curls into a small, forlorn ball.
Wanting desperately to comfort the poor thing, Jensen stretches one hand toward the quaking ball of fluff.
The bunny startles and moves away from his outstretched hand.
"Mr. Bun feels like he'll never be safe ever again. He needs his friend's to hug him and show him how much they love him."
Jensen whimpers and scoots closer to the entrance of his safe, but lonely, refuge.
"That's it. Come on, kiddo." Someone coaxes so quietly Jensen almost doesn't hear it.
The bunny looks at him from between its paws, backing away slowly, careful to stay just out of his reach.
As Jensen slides warily from the relative safety of his shelter, the gloom recedes and everything around him seems to bend and shift, as though he'd been looking at the world through creepy, distorting glasses and now he can see clearly again.
Where before there had been only scary strangers and unfamiliar voices, he now sees his best friends, his family. Instead of a barren, threatening landscape, he now recognizes his beloved home.
Daddy is there, biting his bottom lip, an anxious knot furrowing his brow, arms wide open. Jensen snatches up his stuffed rabbit and collapses into his daddy's waiting arms.
"Oh baby, I'm so sorry." Jared sounds like he's having trouble getting enough air to speak, his voice no more than a shaky exhale.
Overwhelmed by the sorrow he hears coming from the one person he loves most of all, Jensen throws his arms around Jared's neck and sobs, "Da-ddeeee."
His exclamation, in a voice rusty from disuse, is meet only with a terrible stillness, like that single word has sucked all the life from the room. Taking his daddy's continued silence as disapproval, Jensen covers his aching head with his arms and cries harder. This is why he doesn't talk, nothing good has ever come of it. He should have known better than to try it now.
"No, no, no." Daddy gently pulls Jensen's arms away and caresses his cheeks, thumbs skimming over the delicate skin under his eyes to erase the streaks of tears. "You caught me off guard, that's all. You said 'daddy'…that's like…Jensen, that's the best present in the whole, wide world. Thank you."
Daddy wraps his arms around Jensen's shaking body, pulls him close and murmurs words of comfort. Wherever they touch, warmth seeps through the connection.
With an occasional sniffle, Jensen settles down. He's wiped out. It's getting harder to hold his head up so he lets it loll to the side until it comes to rest on his daddy's shoulder. Sticking his thumb in his mouth, he gazes up at his friends through half-open eyes.
Chad smiles at him uncertainly and holds up his blanket as though he's afraid of making a wrong move. "You've gotta be freezing. Can I put your blanket around you?"
Jensen nods while trying to stifle a yawn. He wants to give Chad a hug to show how grateful he is, but he's beginning to feel wobbly and weak, detached from what's happening, as though he's inside of a dream.
As Chad drapes the downy-soft blanket over Jensen's bare skin and tucks it in, he says, "I brought the blanket in from the nursery thinking maybe it would help, you know, if Mr. Bun didn't."
Chris clasps Chad's shoulder. "That was brilliant, man, with the rabbit. A stroke of genius." Chad gets red in the face, but he's grinning.
"Yeah, thanks Chad. You did good." Jared strokes a hand through Jensen's wet hair and brushes up against the sore spot behind his ear.
Pain sparks, sharp and bright. Jensen winces, turns his head, and sucks air in past the thumb in his mouth.
Daddy's voice sounds funny, kind of tight, carefully controlled, when he says, "Misha, you need to come over here and look at this."
Misha makes soft shushing noises as his nimble fingers part the hair on either side of the raw area. "Well, that can't feel very good. No wonder you're disoriented," he says under his breath before raising his voice slightly so the others can hear him. "There's a huge lump right here, but the skin's not broken. Looks like Pellegrino hit him with something blunt, I don't know what, could have been anything really. I'm pretty sure he's got a concussion."
If this is what a concussion feels like, then concussions hurt a lot. More than broken fingers. But maybe not as much as being stabbed in the stomach. There's a hierarchy to pain, levels of discomfort that can be measured against one another. Jensen had almost forgotten about that. Two years is a long time after all.
"Pellegrino's lucky I've already got him in custody 'cuz if he was still out there walking around, I'd fucking kill him." Christian growls.
"I don't care about Mark right now. What can we do for Jensen? Does he need to go to the hospital?" Daddy asks.
"We can give him something for the pain," says Misha. "They won't be able to anything for him at the hospital except to monitor him closely and we can do that right here. Besides, I don't think he's up for a stay in the hospital, are you champ?"
That's the thing Jensen loves about Misha – he understands how scary hospitals can be. Well, it's one of the things he loves about Misha.
The medicine they give him makes his head feel fuzzy while also making him really drowsy. Jensen burrows further into his blanket and his daddy's warmth. Just as he's drifting off, he feels someone pull his thumb out of his mouth. A wet pop indicates the loss of suction. He misses the comfort immediately and clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, searching. He's too tired to protest though and soon he's fast asleep.
Movement and quiet conversation almost wake him up a couple of times. One of the conversations in particular seems interesting enough to wake up for and Jensen fights through layers of blanketing darkness, willing his eyes to open. The control just isn't there though and his eyes remain closed.
"Why, Chris? I just don't get it. Why did he do it? I mean, Jensen never did anything to him. Jensen would never have even fought back. Did he get off on the power trip or what?"
"I guess some people are like that. They see vulnerability and they want to take advantage of it, they want to destroy it just because they can. That's not why Pellegrino did it though, Jared."
"Pellegrino did it out of some sick sense of justice. To his warped mind, Jensen is the reason his sister is in jail for neglect and abuse."
"What are you talking about? What justice?"
"Mark Pellegrino is Jensen's uncle…his mother's brother. There's a family resemblance – not much – but enough that once I saw him I felt like I knew him from someplace. That's what made me suspicious. That's why I did some more digging once I got back to the precinct. It took some time, but once I figured out who he was, I knew Jensen was in trouble."
"Are there any other relatives out there we need to be worried about?"
At this point, Jensen decides he doesn't want to hear any more. He stops trying to open his eyes and gives in to the temptation of oblivion.
The next time he wakes up, his eyes open easily. He's lying stretched out on the couch with his head in the crook of his daddy's arm and his upper body draped across his daddy's lap. Misha is crouched next to them, a penlight in his hand.
"Hey Jensen," Misha whispers. "I need to check your pupils. Just relax for me." Then Misha holds one of his eyelids open and shines the light directly into his eye.
For a moment, it reminds him of the bright light after being locked in the closet and his entire body stiffens.
"It's okay," soothes Daddy, voice low.
"One more," Misha warns before switching to the other eye. "Much better. Your pupils are reacting correctly now."
The way Misha is looking at him, Jensen guesses this news should make him happy so he smiles a little.
Daddy picks up a bottle from the side table, presses the nipple to Jensen's lips. "Drink, baby."
To his surprise, Jensen finds that he's starving. He latches on and sucks greedily. Half way through, he begins to flag though and before he reaches the bottom he's lost the battle to stay awake.
For the next several days, Jensen is never left alone. He falls asleep in his daddy's arms and wakes up with Chad, Christian, Misha, or some combination of the four of them, standing guard nearby. Often they have something they want him to eat or drink as soon as they see he's awake. He's not sure what to make of it, but it feels a lot like love so he doesn't question it.
One day, he wakes up and he feels a lot better. The knot behind his ear has gone down, the swelling nearly nonexistent. He's in the living room on the couch – he hasn't slept in his crib since…well, since before – and daddy, Christian, Chad and Misha are there with him. They all look very serious.
Jensen blinks and wonders what's going on.
Daddy sits next to him, clears his throat, and runs a hand through Jensen's hair to the nape of his neck where he scratches lightly. It feels so good that Jensen closes his eyes and hums his contentment. Then Jared says, "I made you a promise I was doomed to break from the very beginning. I promised that nothing bad was going to happen to you and I wanted it to be true."
That's not what Jensen is expecting to hear; his eyes pop open to look into the guilt-ridden face above him. Shaking his head, he sits up and cranes his neck until he can reach his daddy's jaw where he places a kiss. Still not sure of his ability to use words, this is the best way he knows to express his feelings.
Through a watery smile, Jared continues, "I wanted it to be true so very much, but there's no way I could keep that promise because bad things happen every day. No matter how much I want to protect you from all the bad things and all the bad people in the world, there's no way I can prevent everything. Not unless I wrap you up in bubble wrap and never let you out. Not unless I keep you locked up and never let you experience life, and believe me, after what happened, I've considered it."
Christian chuckles, a warm, affectionate sound, and steps closer to put a hand on Jared's shoulder, giving it a friendly squeeze. "Bubble wrap may be a little extreme, J-man, although I don't blame you for the idea." He winks at Jensen and the mood lightens just enough that he can take a deep breath.
Jared's smile gets brighter, dimples putting in an appearance. "Yeah, I've been thinking about it though and there is a promise I can make you, sweetie – I promise to always be here for you. Through the good things and the bad things. I promise that I'll stick by you and love you and take care of you no matter what."
The promise is all that Jensen could ever hope for, more than he has ever expected. His answering smile feels like it's permanently glued to his face.
"I promise, baby." Daddy puts his hand on top of Jensen's.
Uncle Christian is the next to add his hand to the stack. "I promise, kiddo."
"Me too," says Chad, crossing his heart with his index finger before clasping Christian's hand.
Misha completes the pile by first kissing Jensen's forehead and then placing his hand on top of Chad's. "I promise."
Jensen looks at his true family, the family that chose him, the family that loves him, and he believes them with all of his heart. He knows they're going to be all right.