Pairing: J2 or Jared/Dean depending on how you look at it
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Christian Kane, Alaina Huffman, Aldis Hodge, Ty Olsson, Traci Dinwiddie, (minor roles: Eric Kripke, Beth Riesgraf, and Chad Michael Murray)
Genre: H/C, RPS, AU(set in the Dollhouse universe)
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: Show level violence
Word Count: 7,000 this part (46,000 in total)
Summary: Jared's life is turned upside down the night he meets an intriguing young man who seems to have multiple personality disorder. Is he Dean - dangerous, charming and troubled? Or Jensen - naive and almost child-like? This chance encounter leads to a job offer with a mysterious organization called the Dollhouse.
A/N: Thank you to my best friend, alpha reader, and biggest cheerleader, . She always has my back! All the beautiful artwork for this story was made by her. Thank you sweetie! My beta reader, , did an absolutely fantastic job! This story is made better by her wonderful insights. Their enthusiasm has given me the confidence to post a story again after a one year long dry stretch. This story is completly written and betaed. My plan is to post one chapter per week. Comments are very much appreciated. In fact, they are the whole reason I write and post stories instead of keeping them in my head. :)
Throat as dry as the Sahara, Jared risks a glance over his shoulder. Traci sits, ram-rod straight in her chair, eyes vacant, looking for all the world like the doll she now is.
"Yes please," she says.
Wordlessly, Aldis swipes a hand over his face and leads her from the clinic, leaving the other three to collect Chad and Beth.
Waking them isn't hard since sleeping gas isn't pumped into the clinic. They come along easily, Beth hobbling on her crutches and Chad coughing sporadically.
Traci still needs a full wipe because the remote wipe doesn't go deep enough. Only the treatment achieved in the chair, with its invasive electrodes and wires, is capable of completely eradicating a personality, especially one as entrenched as Traci's.
Witnessing the wipe process is too traumatic for a doll, or anyone in Jared's opinion, so Chad and Beth receive their original personalities first. Jared then takes them into the hallway, dragging Dean along with him and closing the door.
Even through the reinforced walls, Traci's anguished screams pierce Jared's eardrums like ice picks. Any hope he may have harbored about sparing Dean this, the intimate knowledge of what he'll soon experience firsthand, vanishes.
"Is it always like that?" Beth, a business major from Surrey College, whispers.
"I haven't been around for many," Jared hedges, looking over the observation railing at the atrium below. Gloomy darkness hides the raised dais, the large potted plants, and the cafe tables set outside the cafeteria on the first floor. "Only seen one actually, but...yeah."
Dean is rubbing his head, face pinched tight in the expression Jared has learned means he's in pain. "Me?" he guesses.
"Yes, I saw you getting wiped once." Jared covers Dean's hand, the one protectively cradling his head, with his own. He knows better than to ask if Dean's okay. He's not. "Jensen giving you trouble?"
Dean jerks a quick nod. "It's pretty much constant now. I keep telling him it won't be much longer, but he's not listening. Feels like he's using a battering ram in there."
If not for Chad and Beth standing close by, watching them, Jared would pull Dean into a hug, maybe kiss him breathless, anything to keep his mind off the pain. But public displays of affection don't really seem like the stoic hunter's thing and, even though he has offered Jared comfort in front of others, something tells him that Dean would be embarrassed by being on the receiving end of a soothing hug when he's not completely incapacitated.
Traci's screams break off with a suddenness that feels like a slap. Jared holds his breath, not wanting to disturb the ensuing silence.
Chad has gone startlingly pale. Although quietly accepting of everything up until this point, the whole situation seems to have finally caught up with him. Searching blindly behind himself for something to hold onto, his hand comes into contact with the railing. He grasps it as though it's the only thing holding him upright.
Dean gives him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder with the hand not still clutching his head. "Hang in there, man. It'll pass. She'll be okay and so will you. You're all gonna be okay." His words are spoken in a hushed yet sincere tone which makes Jared's chest tighten.
Not too much later, the door opens and Traci steps through, escorted by Christian, a confused expression on her face. She's subdued and thoughtful, not at all like the bubbly, flirty Traci Jared has seen before. This isn't the Traci he knows and it's odd when she looks at him without a shred of recognition. To her, he's a total stranger. They all are. Sadness slices through him as he thinks about how Aldis must have felt just a short moment ago when that unknowing gaze had landed on him for the first time, staring out at him from his friend's familiar face.
Christian's mouth is a hard line. He has a guiding hand on Traci's elbow. "Let's get you kids out of here. Traci, Chad, Beth, come with me." Before he leaves, he leans in close to Jared and whispers, "Don't start without me." Jared doesn't have to ask what he means.
"I wouldn't dream of it," he assures the other man.
Dean is leaning against the railing, studying his raw and swollen knuckles, slowly clenching and unclenching his fists. It wouldn't be obvious to the casual observer, but Jared can see the minute tremors Dean is trying to hide.
Closing the distance between them, he rests a hand on either of Dean's hips, the jut of hipbone just barely discernible underneath layers of flannel and denim. "Hey," he says and waits until Dean's fathomless green eyes meet his. How easy it would be to get lost in those eyes. "What you've done here...what you're doing, it's..." Jared stops and takes a shaky breath. "It's beyond brave, man. It's amazing. You're amazing."
Tiny dimples make an appearance in the corners of Dean's mouth. "Sap," he murmurs, voice fond and wistful.
Unshed tears sting the backs of Jared's eyelids. He leans in, pressing his lips to Dean's.
The kiss starts off sweet, but Dean deepens it, cupping Jared's face, tilting his head and plunging his tongue into Jared's mouth. He explores every crevasse, maps out every corner, licks at the roof of his mouth and his teeth and sucks on his lower lip. Jared lets him take control. It's intense and Jared feels dizzy with desire.
All too soon, Dean pulls back. "That's to remember me by." His husky voice sends shivers down Jared's spine.
"As if I could ever forget." A sob catches in his throat and Jared blinks hard to keep the tears from falling. "I don't want you to go." The words are out of his mouth before he can stop them. It's a fruitless wish and not something he should burden Dean with when he already has enough on his plate.
Dean averts his eyes, looking down at the ground between their feet as though he's unaccustomed to having anyone care if he stays or goes. "I have to."
The answer isn't unexpected. Still, a lump forms in Jared's throat and the tears he's been holding back begin to fall.
His sniffle brings Dean's gaze back up. He wordlessly swipes the wet trails from Jared's cheeks with the pads of his thumbs.
Maybe he should be embarrassed about letting his emotions get the better of him. He's not usually the type to bawl his eyes out. But he's not embarrassed. This is the last moment he'll ever get to share with Dean, just the two of them, and he wouldn't miss out on this opportunity for the world. This is his chance to show Dean that he matters, he's important to someone, he is loved and will be missed.
Aldis sticks his head out the door and clears his throat. "So ah, you guys ready? I found Jensen's tape. It took me a while 'cause it wasn't with the others, but I finally found it." He wiggles the black tape in his hand while giving them an assessing look. His eyebrows go up when he notices that he has interrupted something. "Or I could mind my own business and give you guys some space 'cause this is seriously awkward and I'm...yeah, I'm just going to shut up and close the door now."
He does and Jared can't help but huff out a laugh, lowering his forehead to Dean's shoulder, the moment broken.
Dean holds him for a couple heart beats, then presses a kiss to the top of his head. "It's time," he says quietly.
Jared looks up to see Christian striding toward them.
They enter the treatment room together. Dean sits in the chair without being asked, obviously wanting to do this on his own terms. The chair has never looked more evil than when Dean lies back and seems to get swallowed up by the machine.
Christian stands at his left shoulder, Jared at his right, and Aldis at his head where he inserts the tape into a slot behind the headrest. Tension fills the room. Every expression is somber.
Dean looks up at them and tries for a cocky grin. "This feels like the ending scene from The Wizard of Oz. Which one of you three is supposed to be the Cowardly Lion? And no cracks about me being Dorothy."
The joke is typical Dean, an attempt to lighten the mood. For his sake, Jared forces his lips into an answering smile.
Inserting himself between Jared and Dean, Aldis reaches for Dean's wrist. Jared isn't sure what he's doing until Dean growls, "No restraints."
Aldis shakes his head emphatically. "Oh, hell no! No way. This isn't something you can grit your teeth, take it like a man, and tough your way through. I don't care how determined you are or what you think you need to prove. You won't be able to stay still without them and if you lurch out of the chair during the middle of the wipe, you'll be a vegetable, man. You need the restraints." He takes a calming breath and his expression softens. "It's going to hurt, tough guy. It's going to hurt a lot, but you...I mean, Jensen won't remember a thing about it. I promise."
The muscles in Dean's jaw bunch. "Fine...just, give me a minute, okay?" Demeanor deadly serious, he reaches for Jared, grasping his forearm. "I keep thinking I should call my brother, Adam. Let him know I won't be coming back. Explain everything to him." He licks his upper lip and grimaces, the dimples at the corners of his mouth briefly visible. "Then I remember, he's not my brother and he won't care that I'm gone."
There's a vice around Jared's chest and with every word Dean speaks the vice clamps down tighter. "I'll care," he says.
"No, that's not...I'm not telling you this to make you feel bad. I just...will you do something for me."
"Say hi to Jensen for me. Tell him...tell him I said I'm sorry."
Mystified, Jared asks, "For what?"
The look Dean shoots him is one of pure disbelief. "What do you mean for what? For hijacking his body. For stealing three and a half years of his life. For supplanting his memories, his personality, forcing him out, using him. Take your pick."
"Dean..." Jared starts, not really knowing what to say, only knowing he can't let Dean take the blame for this, even though the blame is all of Dean's own making. "What happened to Jensen and the others? It's tragic, it's fucking unforgivable, but it isn't your fault. You didn't ask for any of this."
Dean's gaze shifts to the side. "Yeah well, neither did he."
Christian opens his mouth, closes it and pauses as if thinking through what he wants to say, then he begins. "Listen son, I know you don't remember me. All I am to you is a vaguely familiar face that you feel you can trust even though you don't know why. But I know you well, probably better than you know yourself. I've seen everything they've done to you, watched them torture you in a million different ways." His voice quivers on the last sentence and he stops, scrubbing a hand over his face before he points a finger at Dean. "You're a good man, Dean Winchester. What Rossum Corporation did to Jensen and to you, that's on them...and on me. You shouldn't blame yourself. No one else does. Jensen won't."
A tear slips from beneath Dean's long lashes, leaving a trail from the corner of his eye to his temple and Jared is grateful because maybe, just maybe, it means the message has gotten through.
Any response Dean may have made goes unheard as the door crashes open and Alaina strides into the room, flanked by two burly men.
"Where are they?" she spits. "Where are my Actives?" Her lips are devoid of her signature red lipstick. In fact, she doesn't appear to have any makeup on at all. Her luxurious, red hair sticks out in a jumble of tangled curls as though she hasn't taken the time to brush it yet this morning. "What have you done with them?"
Dean hops off the treatment chair, agile as a panther, and takes a step forward, effectively drawing all attention to himself. "What's the matter, sweetheart? Lost your toys?" he drawls, voice deep and deceptively mellow.
Eyes narrowed into furious slits, Alaina tilts her head and studies Dean. After a few seconds she dismisses him, instead choosing Christian as the more likely culprit. "You! I should have known you'd be the one to turn on me. As soon as I saw all the empty pods I should have known it was you." Her gaze flicks to Dean and back. "What I don't understand is why you saved him for last. I'd have thought he would've been first on your list."
Christian's lips pull back, exposing his teeth in a feral snarl. "That's your biggest problem, Alaina, you underestimate people. You always have. I'm not the one responsible, although I wish I were, and now all your Actives are gone and you won't be getting them back. It's over. You might as well let us finish up and leave before someone gets hurt."
"Over?" Alaina laughs, a maniacal glint in her eyes. "It's far from over. I don't know where you've taken them, but it can't be more than a few miles. Once I've found them, I'm right back in business, just as if your little rebellion never happened. And besides, you've left me my most valuable asset." She gestures at Dean. "Jensen is worth more than all the others combined. And even if by some fluke I don't get the others back, how hard do you think it'll be for me to get new dolls? It's not like I have to recruit them or train them or anything. All I have to do is pick the prettiest ones from the countless college campuses around the country." Her malicious gaze travels over Christian and Aldis, finally landing on Jared. "I have a good start right here with you."
During the few times Jared has been in Alaina's presence, he has always been uncomfortable under her calculating scrutiny. This time it's worse. Now her gaze makes him feel like his skin is covered in grease, slimy and dirty. He fights not to let his revulsion show.
Twin smiles, the cruelest Jared has ever seen, form on the faces of Alaina's bodyguards or security detail or whatever the hell they are. Both men wear crisp, white shirts and dark suits, expertly tailored to fit over their broad shoulders, barrel chests, and massive arms. The expensive clothes can't hide their true nature though. They're thugs, pure and simple.
The monitor Aldis is standing behind beeps three times. Alaina immediately rounds on him. "Aldis, Aldis, Aldis," she muses. "You're responsible for bypassing the security systems, I assume. You must have forgotten about the monitors I had set up in my apartment." Her mouth forms a childish pout and she bats her eyelashes as though flirting. "I must admit, your involvement is a surprise. What's your role in this little uprising? Did they threaten you? Coerce you?" She flicks an imaginary dust particle from her navy blouse. "Not that it really matters one way or another. I'm willing to forgive you. I'll even let you keep your job."
Expression stony, Aldis shakes his head. "I've made my choice. I'm sticking with it."
The grudging respect Jared has for the tech genius grows. "The only reason you're willing to forgive him is that he's the only one who knows how the tech works. Without him, you're screwed and you know it."
Alaina scoffs. "Please. How difficult can it be? I've watched him do it several times. It's just a matter of pressing a few buttons. I'll tell you what - since you have the insolence to question me, you can be my guinea pig. If I fry your brain, I'll still have Christian and Aldis to practice on before it's Jensen's turn."
She sounds utterly gleeful at the prospect and Jared wouldn't put it past her. The woman seems capable of any atrocity. Leaving him a brain-dead husk wouldn't even make her flinch.
"Enough talk. Take them," she says.
Her thugs take a step forward and, for a moment, Jared feels supremely confident. There are only two of them. He's not sure about Aldis's hand-to-hand combat skills, but even if Aldis sits this one out, with Christian, Dean, and himself fighting together, three against two, there's not a doubt in his mind who's winning this fight. After watching Dean fight the harpies, Jared thinks the hunter alone could whoop both their asses.
Then the goons reach inside their suit jackets and each pull out a Glock.
The polished steel barrels gleam in the light from the overhead fluorescents as the guns are leveled at his and Christian's chests. Jared turned his police issue piece in at his precinct when he gave notice and he hasn't missed it since, until now.
"Fuck, I hate guns," Christian mutters.
With a smirk on her wide mouth, Alaina says, "Don't kill my test subjects unless you have to."
"What does that mean - Take them? Take us where exactly? And what's with the - Don't kill my test subjects unless you have to?" Dean mocks, voice pitched falsetto high as he adopts an exaggerated smirk all his own. "Just between you and me, sweetheart, I think you may be ladling on the extra cheesy, bad guy dialogue a little thick."
Goon number one adjusts his aim, the muzzle of his gun shifting from Christian to Dean.
Christian's brow furrows, but Dean's smirk only grows.
Dean puts his hands in the air, sighing dramatically. "Whoa fellas, there's no need for violence."
They hadn't discussed what to do in this scenario, or in any scenario where they get caught, which in hindsight seems ridiculously optimistic, or foolish, whichever fits best. Jared knows that Dean would never give up this easily though, and that means he has a plan. Backing his play, Jared raises his hands, lets his shoulders slump, and adopts an expression of defeat. "Please, don't shoot. We'll do whatever you want."
Christian gives them a baffled look, but also raises his hands, albeit grudgingly.
"I'm sure you guys are good at what you do. You're probably both excellent marksman, but I gotta think..." Dean pauses as though mulling something over. "Aiming in the dark makes things more difficult. Wouldn't you agree, Aldis?"
"Yes, much more difficult, " Aldis replies and, with that, there's a single keyboard click and the room is plunged into darkness.
Acting fast while hoping that Christian has also caught on that Dean is up to something, Jared dives to the side just as shots ring out. His chin comes into contact with a hard edge on the way down, probably a desk, and his teeth clack together audibly. Through the buzzing in his head, he hears a pained grunt from his right, either from Dean or Christian, he can't be sure who.
"You idiots!" Alaina screams. "Don't kill my Active!"
The gunfire continues, bullets pinging and ricocheting all around him. Glass shatters and Jared feels shards pelt his hands and face. Apparently, the goons are unconcerned about the repercussions associated with killing Jensen or anyone else.
From his position on the floor, Jared scrabbles around for something he can use as a weapon. Something small enough to be thrown, yet heavy enough to do some serious damage would be ideal. In the pitch black, his hand brushes against a slick, round surface, metal by the feel of it. A canister? Pushing up and hunching over so he can heft the object into his arms without presenting too large a target for random bullets to hit, he takes mental aim.
These thugs don't appear to be rocking the Mensa intelligence charts. As long as they're basically standing still and firing their guns, which seems likely since they know they're facing unarmed opponents, Jared figures he has a good idea of where the closest guy's head is. He closes his eyes - they're no use in the dark anyway - pictures the room layout, affixes goon number two's position within the room, calculates the correct velocity and arc needed, and heaves.
There's a muffled crack, a bitten-off curse, and one gun stops firing. Jared follows up his assault by launching himself toward the spot from which the curse had come and he collides with someone tall and burly. His momentum and weight take them both to the ground. The feel of thick, starched suit material under his hands lets him know his aim was true, so he straddles goon number two's chest and presses his knees into the guy's biceps, keeping him as immobile as possible while leaving his own hands free. One fist grasping a collar, Jared lets his other fist fly, once, twice, three times in rapid succession. After the third satisfying punch, the guy goes still and silent beneath him.
Jared sits on his haunches and listens, breath coming in harsh pants, not so much from exertion, but more from the explosive levels of adrenaline pumping through his veins.
His relief is nearly palpable when he realizes that, at some point, the second gun had stopped shooting. The only sounds coming from off to his right are those of an ongoing fist fight - flesh connecting with flesh, scuffling feet, and the occasional angry curse. Either Dean or Christian, hopefully both, are on their feet and causing havoc for Alaina's remaining henchman. It's the thought that one of his friends might not be on his feet, might, in fact, be lying on the floor, bleeding out from a gunshot wound that has Jared's gut feeling as though he's just swallowed a ten pound bowling ball.
"Aldis, the lights! Turn on the lights!" he says, pulse pounding in his ears.
Aldis's voice comes from across the room. "I'm working on it. Gotta find a terminal that isn't smashed all to hell. Fucking bullet holes." he mutters.
A moment later, he makes a triumphant noise and light floods the room just in time for Jared to see Dean deliver a vicious upper cut that knocks goon number one out cold. His elation at seeing Dean alive and kicking ass is short lived, however, because Christian is on the ground, clutching at his shoulder as he tries to sit up. Blood wells from between his fingers.
"Alaina," he wheezes.
A flash of red hair and Alaina's retreating back are all Jared catches before the door slams closed.
"I'll get her," Dean says, already moving toward the door. "You take care of Christian."
Christian has made it to standing by then, but he's as pale as winter snow.
"Whoa, take it easy," Jared says, getting an arm under Christian's good shoulder and helping him into one of the few chairs still upright.
Head lolling forward so that his chin rests on his collarbone, Christian says, "I'm fine. Just need to catch m-my breath." His voice sounds hollow, like all the air has been punched out of his lungs. Sweat covers his forehead in a thin layer, plastering hanks of long, dark hair to his face.
"You're not fine, you've been shot," Jared says, a little more forcefully than he intends, worry and exhaustion making his tone sharp. He feels like he's been awake for weeks, even though it's been less than twelve hours since he woke up with Jensen pressed against him in the staff lounge. "We need to put some pressure on it, stop the bleeding before you pass out from blood loss."
"Not gonna p-pass out," Christian says as his eyes slip closed.
"Sure you're not." Jared presses down on the bullet wound, hard, wincing when Christian hisses and bucks under his hand. "Sorry, man. You're bleeding like a stuck pig." He checks Christian's back. "No exit wound, so the bullet's still in there."
Christian's only response is a thin moan. He's not unconscious, but it's a near thing. His shirt is soaked through and Jared's hand comes away tacky and ruby red. A coppery smell fills the air.
With a calm honed at countless crime scenes, Jared says, "Aldis, run to the clinic and get a pressure bandage."
on to Chapter 8b
Sorry, LJ is saying the post is too large, so I had to cut it into two parts.
Start at Chapter 1