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. :)
Aldis is out the door at a dead run before Jared has finished his sentence.
"Hang in there, Chris. We're gonna get you some help."
Christian opens his eyes to mere slits. "No hospital. Fix Jensen first, t-then take me to the safe house. Ty'll know w-wha..." His voice trails off as his body surrenders to shock and trauma. Only Jared's restraining hand keeps him from tumbling out of the chair. When Aldis returns with the pressure bandage and Jared unbuttons his shirt, applying the bandage and taping it down, Christian doesn't even groan. It isn't a good sign.
Dean comes through the door just as Jared is re-buttoning Christian's shirt. Ahead of him, he pushes a struggling Alaina, her hands firmly taped together behind her back with duct tape.
"Caught up with her in the hallway leading to the garage," he says, mouth a hard line. Then he inclines his head toward Christian. "How is he?"
"Not so good. He's lost a ton of blood and I think he's in shock."
Dean nods, frowning. "He jumped in front of me just as Aldis turned off the lights, pushed me out of the way, the stupid...He took that bullet for me. Why would he do that? I knew what I was doing. I'd already started moving out of the way."
Jared shrugs. "He's been protecting you for three and a half years. Old habits die hard."
Dean thinks about that for a second, his expression softening. "Yeah. Yeah, I guess they do."
Alaina wrinkles her nose in disgust. "I've never heard so much asinine drivel in my entire life. What a bunch of losers."
Ignoring her, Jared brushes some of the hair off Christian's forehead. "We need to finish up and get him out of here. He wants us to take him to the safe house. Something about a guy named Ty. I'm not sure, but I think there must be someone there he trusts, someone with medical training."
"Okay, I'm ready. Let's get this over with." Dean gives Alaina a push hard enough to send her stumbling to the ground.
"You're not going to get away with this," she vows. "I'll track you down. All of you." Looking at Aldis, she sneers, "You'll never work again. No one will hire you. I'll make sure of it."
"I think you'd better stop worrying about us and start worrying about yourself." Dean gives her a withering stare, his green eyes smoldering.
"Is that a threat?" she asks haughtily. "I'm not afraid of you."
"Nah," he drawls. "I'm not gonna do anything to you. But what do you think the higher ups at Rossum are going to do when they find out that their entire Vancouver operation has been wiped out - literally - under your watch? I bet they aren't going to be very happy. Or very forgiving. Do you?"
"That's what I thought," Dean turns his back on her. "Oh yeah, here Jared." He reaches into his inside jacket pocket and pulls out the duct tape. "Better tape her ankles together. Those guys, too." He points at the two unconscious thugs. "Just in case they come around before we're done here." Then he gets back into the treatment chair. "Fire this baby up, Aldis."
Jared recognizes the tactic for what it is - Dean wants him too busy to think about what Aldis is about to do as he straps Dean's ankles and wrists into the restraints. Yes, he recognizes it and is grateful for it at the same time as it makes him furious, and sad. But there's no time for further good-byes anyway, so he gets to work, making sure the tape is extra tight.
He's just putting a strip of duct tape over Alaina's mouth for good measure, when Aldis says, "Um, we have a problem."
"What problem?" Jared asks, looking up.
Aldis presses a button at the back of the treatment chair. Instead of the normal low-grade humming sound, the machine makes a grating, mechanical whining noise and Jensen's personality cassette ejects. Aldis holds up the mangled cassette. The bullet hole going through the center is clearly visible.
Jared's breath catches in his throat. Only then does he let his gaze travel around the room. The destruction is widespread. Almost nothing was spared some type of damage. Glass and plastic shrapnel from equipment liters the floor.
"No," Dean says, voice pitched low. "No, that can't be. You can fix it right? Right?"
Aldis slowly shakes his head. "It's a complete loss. And even if I could, the chair's busted too. Bullet holes right through the central processing unit."
Christian starts shaking and Jared knows they're out of time. If they want to save his life they have to leave now. Blocking everything that he can't control from his mind, all the what ifs and what nows, he focuses on the one thing he can do something about, "Come on, Christian needs help. Let's go."
Between them, Jared and Dean carry Christian while Aldis runs ahead to make sure Clif has returned from his last trip and is prepared to break as many traffic laws as necessary. The big, bald man takes one look at Christian, limp and bloody, and begins swearing up a storm. He ends with, "Jesus H. Christ, you stupid son of a bitch, what have you gone and done to yourself now."
"My sentiments exactly," Dean mutters.
They've barely gotten into the van, Aldis in the front passenger seat, Jared and Dean at opposite ends of the middle bench seat with Christian lying across both their laps, before Clif peals out. The van rocks wildly as they take the tight corner leading to the garage's exit ramp.
Luckily, traffic is light what with the early hour. The sun has only just begun to crest the horizon and Vancouver's rush hour won't start up for another hour or so. They blow through intersection after intersection. At a little after six o'clock in the morning, they cross a high rise bridge, leaving the city behind them.
Jared isn't sure what he expected the safe house to look like, But he two story, beige clapboard house in the quaint, residential neighborhood that Clif pulls up beside isn't it.
A big, burly bear of a man opens the door at Aldis's knock. "Well, isn't this just fucking perfect," he says when he sees Christian. "The asshole goes completely off the grid, not a single word from him in years, and now this - busloads of people on my doorstep and he's out cold so I can't even rip him a new one. What a train wreck. Get him in here before the entire neighborhood sees you."
The greeting doesn't inspire confidence. They're already here though and Christian hasn't woken up once despite all the manhandling to get him in and out of the van. Jared is scared for his friend, scared that he might never wake up again, scared that he might not survive a trip to the hospital at this point, so scared that he disregards the man's confrontational attitude and carries Christian past him into the house. "He's been shot. He said to bring him here. Are you Ty? Can you help?"
The guy huffs out an exasperated breath and scratches his bearded chin. "Yeah, I'm Ty." He looks at Christian, slung between Jared and Dean, hanging like a rag doll from their shoulders, and seems to make a decision. "Bring him this way."
He leads them to a room at the back of the house. A twin sized bed sits against the wall on the left, a first aid box worthy of any paramedic on the floor nearby.
"I've patched up this idiot more than once before. Having the supplies on hand makes things simpler." he says by way of explanation. "Put him on the bed. I'll need one of you to stay and assist. The others better go calm all those people you've seen fit to drop off here like I'm a goddamn babysitter." He waves a hand in the direction of the staircase they'd passed on the way through the house. "They're getting settled in upstairs."
"I'll stay," Jared volunteers. Of the three of them, he figures he's the one with the most first aid training and experience in emergency situations.
A look of relief crosses Aldis's face and he nods, quickly backing through the door and almost running toward the stairs. Clif mumbles something about moving the van to a more secure location before he shoots Jared an apologetic glance and leaves, most likely not to return. It's okay. He's done more for them than Jared would have expected and he can't be blamed for covering his own tracks.
But Dean stays, scrubbing a hand wearily over his face. "I can probably do more good here than up there. Done my share of patching guys up, my brother and dad anyway." He shrugs, pain and exhaustion and worry etched into the lines around his mouth and the heavy circles under his eyes.
Ty is already at work, setting up an I.V. line with saline solution and preparing a syringe. "Morphine," he says. "Best I can do. Hopefully, it'll keep him under while we work."
"Wish we'd had some of that the time I had to dig a bullet outta Adam's leg." Dean grimaces. "Unless...it never really happened. Just another implanted false memory." His shoulders slump and he falls silent, eyes gone distant and sad.
Ty gives him a side-eyed look, but doesn't ask the obvious question. Instead, he hands Jared the saline bag. "Here, hold this. I ain't got no pole." Then he peels Christian's shirt away from the bullet hole.
Jared watches as Ty uses forceps to dig through skin and muscle until he finally reaches bone and the bullet lodged against Christian's shoulder blade. He finds out just how wrong he is about being the most experienced medical assistant when the bullet emerges from the gory wound and Dean is the one who sutures the shredded flesh back together, layer by layer.
"Best field suture job I've ever seen," Ty says, warmth and a grudging respect creeping into his gruff voice.
Dean's answering smile is genuine even if it only lasts a moment.
Ty covers his patient with a blanket, saying, "He's stable for now. Wish I had some blood for a transfusion. Without it, he's got a long recovery ahead of him. He knew what he was getting into when he told you to bring him here though, stubborn sonofabitch. " He shakes his head. "I'll check up on him in a while. For now, he needs sleep."
The saline bag nearly empty and Christian resting peacefully, the three men file quietly from the room. None of them seem anxious to go far though because they stop right outside the door. With Christian out of danger and nothing that needs Jared's immediate attention, his thoughts turn to the many questions he's been storing up. He levels his best interrogation gaze on Ty, eyes sharp and expression flat. "So, not to be rude or anything, especially after everything you've done, but who are you and what is this place?"
Ty leans one shoulder against the wall, hands stuffed into his pant pockets. "Christian didn't tell you?"
"No, not enough time. Everything happened so fast, within hours actually. We had to get everyone out and..." Jared trails off, presses his lips together. He's not sure how much he should say, doesn't want to admit just how little he knows about Christian. They've been through a war together, at least that's how it feels, fought side by side in the trenches, relied on each other, placed their trust in each other. Christian is more than a friend to him, he's a comrade in arms, a brother. And he knows almost nothing about him.
Dean shifts from foot to foot as though he's either restless or uncomfortable.
Without conscious thought, Jared puts his arm around Dean's waist, tugging him closer so that they're leaning against each other. They've both been on their feet for ages, tending to Christian and saving the Actives before that. They're both bone weary. It just seems like the natural thing to do and Dean goes with it, quietly melting into the partial embrace. Jared doesn't think about how uncharacteristic that is for the stoic hunter until later.
Ty raises an eyebrow. "Well, if Christian didn't tell you about this place then I won't. You'll just have to talk to him when he wakes up. As far as who I am, that's easy. I'm a conman on my best days, a scoundrel on my worst, same as Christian. We're made from the same mold, him and me." He gives a sly wink and pushes himself off the wall. "Neither one of us is any damn good." At that, he walks away, leaving Jared even more confused than before.
He's about to call after Ty, pin him down and demand an explanation, when Dean slumps further into him and he has to readjust his hold, taking on more of the man's weight.
"Dean, what is it? What's wrong?"
Dean shudders. "I don't feel so good," he mumbles as his head drops forward onto Jared's shoulder.
All the air leaves Jared's lungs in a rush. His heart begins galloping like a stampeding bull. He should have anticipated this, been prepared for it, but he's not. He's known all along that Dean isn't doing well, that having two personalities fighting for dominance inside his head has been taking a toll on him. It's just that Dean is so good at hiding his pain, pretending he's okay, continuing on as if nothing is wrong, that Jared forgot. He fucking forgot. What kind of friend does that make him?
Ducking his head to get a glimpse of Dean's face, Jared cajoles, "Talk to me, man. Is there anything I can do? How can I help?"
A guttural keening, like the sound a wounded cougar might make, forces its way past Dean's clenched teeth. He grabs a fistful of Jared's over shirt and hangs on as though letting go means certain death. Then he starts talking in a low, brittle voice that Jared can only hear by pressing his ear beside Dean's mouth.
"He has a sister. She's younger than him, his baby sister, Mac...Mackenzie. He calls her Kensie because he knows she hates it. But she lets him get away with it, only him." Dean's breathe hitches. "His family, they...they live in Texas. He m-misses them, wants them to know h-he's still alive, he's still f-fighting this and he's not gonna give up. One day he'll make it back to them." He falls silent, shudders again, harder this time. Tears run down his cheeks, soaking Jared's shirt. He's a heavy weight against Jared's side, his eyes half-mast as though every bit of strength and stamina has been wrung out of him and keeping his eyes open is a battle he's destined to lose soon.
"Hey, Dean. It's okay, it's okay. We'll figure this out. Just hang in there a little longer, alright?" Jared jostles his shoulder, hoping for a response. Dean's whispered monologue and now his silence is freaking Jared out more than he wants to admit.
Dean lifts his head off Jared's shoulder and blinks slowly. A hesitant hand comes up to wipe at the tear tracks on his cheeks. "What happened?" he asks. "Am I cryin'? Why'm I cryin'?"
Jared lets out a pent up breath. "You don't remember?"
Dean shakes his head, eyebrows pulled down in a puzzled frown.
"I think you were channeling Jensen somehow. Indirectly maybe. It was weird though. You talked about him in the third person, like you could hear his thoughts, feel his emotions, but they weren't yours." Jared reaches over and swipes a thumb under his eye where it's still wet. "How do you feel, now?"
There's a pause while Dean seems to self-assess. "Better, I guess. My head doesn't hurt as much." He bites his lower lip and averts his gaze. After a brief moment, he says, "I know what you're thinking and I've already tried." His voice is shaky. "I've tried just letting go. In the van on the way over here." He sways slightly and puts a hand on the wall, steadying himself. "I figured as hard as he's fighting to take back control, I didn't need Aldis's fancy memory machine. I should be able to let go, drop out of the picture, disappear and give him his life back." His eyes close on a long blink, once, twice, three times. Each time it looks as though it takes a greater effort to pry them open. "Didn't work though," he murmurs. "I'm still here."
Afraid that Dean will face plant before too much longer, Jared gets an arm around him and begins guiding him back towards the front of the house where he thinks he saw a room with a couch. "It's okay. Let's find somewhere to sit down."
"M'tired," Dean says, compliantly allowing himself to be moved along and sounding so much like he does in his doll state that Jared's stomach twists in a knot.
"Yeah, me too."
The couch is nothing special as far as couches go, but it feels like heaven as Jared sinks into the soft, blue cushions, bringing Dean down with him. Dean is asleep, sprawled out like a marionette whose strings have been cut, arms and legs going every which way, before either of them can truly get comfortable. Jared snorts in quiet amusement even as he worries about what it all means and how they can ever make this right.
On to Epilogue