Rating: T (for situations)
Characters: Jared, Jensen, Christian, Misha, Jim Beaver, 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: Mental age regression and a form of infantilism which is emotional and not sexual in nature, mentions of past child abuse. Younger!abused!Jensen.
Word Count: 4,700 this part
Summary: Timestamp in the Innocents 'verse which can be found here: Innocents 'Verse Masterpost. This story takes place in between For Love of Innocents and Nightmares of Innocents. I highly recommend reading the other stories in this 'verse first. Jensen's parents are finally being brought to justice and Jared is determined to shield the traumatized young man from any possible fallout from the trial. Meanwhile, Misha makes an understandable mistake and Christian makes a new friend who really wants to meet Jensen.
A/N: Thank youetoile_etiolee for all the great artwork and for being such a fantastic cheerleader!
His cell phone's jaunty chirping wakes him and Jared grabs for it, hands still uncoordinated from sleep, eyesight still blurry. The room is cast in a weak, murky light that makes everything take on a dull grey color. The autumn sun isn't up yet. It's early, too early for anyone he knows to be calling...unless it's an emergency.
Instantly, he's wide awake.
Without checking the caller ID, he fumbles the phone to his ear. "H'llo," he grunts.
"Jared, hey. Sorry to call so early, but I figured you'd wanna know as soon as possible." Christian's deep voice comes through the speaker in a rush.
"Know what? What's going on?" Jared swings his legs off the bed and sits up, scrubbing a hand through his sleep-mused hair.
"They keep some strange hours over at the DA's office, man. I just got a call back from that friend of mine who works there. She said you were right, they don't expect Jensen to testify. He won't even have to identify his parents because they'll have my first-hand witness account."
Relief bubbles up inside him. The smile that tugs at his lips never fully forms, however, as Christian continues.
"Someone messed up and added his name to the wrong list. It was an oversight; they've corrected it now. The prosecuting attorney understands Jensen can't be in that courtroom during the trial. But Jared," Christian pauses as though searching for the right words. "They do want him to come to their offices before the trial. They need as much information as they can get about...you know...his parents." The last bit is whispered in a tense tone, as though the words themselves are inconceivably vile and nasty.
Used in this context, he's right, they are.
Tiptoeing through the adjoining bathroom, Jared peeks into Jensen's bedroom, phone still held tightly in one hand. Nestled inside his blanket nest, all that's visible of Jensen are the tip of his nose and the arm he has curled around his stuffed rabbit and cherished sleeping companion, Mr. Bun. Jensen is breathing peacefully, still fast asleep. Jared backs out, closing the door softly so as not to disturb him.
"They want him to answer some questions, shed some light on the physical evidence gathered at the crime scene." Christian is saying.
"Answer some questions? Shed light on..." It's so utterly surreal, Jared almost laughs. "How's he gonna do that, Kane? He doesn't talk! Not to mention the fact that he'll be terrified if I take him somewhere unfamiliar, full of loud noises and strangers." Not that Jared has been in many DA's offices, but he imagines them as being very busy and very intimidating. The thought of subjecting Jensen to that makes him feel nauseous.
"I know, I know," Christian murmurs, dropping his professional law enforcement demeanor. The next part is muffled and Jared can imagine him running a hand wearily over his face. "Allison says they'll make it as easy on him as they can, bring in someone who specializes in cases like his, someone who works with non-verbal witnesses." There's a heavy exhale before Christian says, "They need as much information as they can get to build their case. Jensen's parents aren't making any confessions, obviously, and without a confession or a witness all they have is my testimony."
"That's all the attorneys should need to convict them. Don't tell me there's a chance those asshole's are gonna get off." Jared can feel his blood pressure rising, his nostrils flaring like an enraged bull.
"No, his mother won't get away with stabbing him. I saw her do it, got her dead to rights. But his father? We don't have anything on him other than Jensen himself. All you have to do is look at Jensen and you can see he's been neglected and abused his entire life. That's compelling evidence and they have the pictures taken at the hospital when we first brought him in, but we don't know everything his parents did to him and Jared, those assholes need to pay for all of it. They need to pay for every single thing they put him through, for the years of torture and abuse." Christian's voice is a fervid growl, the voice he uses when he gets worked up about something. "A forensics team went through the house room by room, top to bottom, tore the place apart looking for evidence we can use against them. And they found a ton, but it's all just conjecture and speculation without..." he trails off and continues in a calmer tone. "The more evidence the prosecutor has, the longer the sentence he can ask for. I know you feel the same way I do. I want them put away for good. I want them to rot in prison for the rest of their miserable, worthless lives."
"Yeah," Jared agrees. "Yeah, I want that. I don't want Jensen to pay the price for it though. He's been through enough. This sucks."
Silence unspools across the line as Jared gets lost in memories of Jensen huddled in his crib, screaming wordlessly, eyes wide open yet unseeing. For a while there, in the beginning, his night terrors had occurred regularly and nothing Jared did would console him. They'd spent many a night, sitting in the rocking chair with Jensen completely out of control, sobbing helplessly against Jared's chest.
Oh hell yes, his parents need to pay.
"Look, just think about it, okay. You could probably talk to Jim, have him provide a psychiatric waiver and get Jensen excused. But is that really the best thing?"
Jared grunts an acknowledgment, thankful that Jim will be by today. They have lots to discuss.
He's just about to hang up when Christian says, "Oh, before I let you go, I got one other thing to ask you. This may not be the best time, but...you remember that guy I told you about? Chad?"
"Anonymous-tip guy Chad? He reported Jensen's abuse, right? The neighbor or something? Yes, I remember. You told me you met with him a couple times after he came forward and gave his statement."
"Okay, what about him?"
Christian doesn't answer right away and Jared thinks maybe the connection has been lost. "Chris?" he tries again.
There's a huff and then, "Nah, you know what? Just forget I said anything. I'll tell him it's not a good time."
"Tell who? What's not a good time?" Confused, Jared scratches his eyebrow with a thumbnail. It sounds like Christian is having an argument with himself and only sharing one side of it.
"Chad. He never saw much, didn't even know Jensen was in the house, never saw him. The only reason he called about a disturbance was because of the yelling. He says he heard a man and woman yelling sometimes. He thought they were screaming at each other and he didn't wanna get involved. He finally decided enough was enough and made an anonymous complaint. I guess he feels pretty rotten, now that he knows what was going on right next door, feels guilty that he didn't make the call sooner, didn't stop it until it was almost too late."
Jared closes his eyes and rubs the bridge of his nose. A tension headache is forming right behind his eye sockets. Some random stranger's guilt doesn't seem very important right now, not when he has so many other concerns. Still...
"Yeah, but what if he hadn't called at all? What if he'd ignored the yelling for one more day?" Jared's throat tightens at the thought. "He saved Jensen's life," he chokes out.
"Probably," Christian says, somber. "Here's the thing, he wants to meet Jensen, apologize or some shit, I'm not sure. Anyway, I told him I'd ask you, but now it doesn't seem like such a great idea. You have enough on your plate what with the trial and all. I'll just tell him you said no."
"Hold on." Jared scrubs at his forehead with the heel of his palm, thinking. Jensen has so few people in his life. Only three, actually - him, Christian, and Misha. Four if they count Jim. It wouldn't hurt to introduce him to someone new, would it? Show him that he doesn't have to be scared, that people can be kind. If they do this the right way, it could be good for him. "You've met him, you think he's okay? This Chad?" he asks.
"He's...well, he takes some getting used to." Amusement is clear in Christian's voice although he also sounds a bit hesitant, like he doesn't want to be amused and can't help himself. When he continues, he sounds much more confident. "His heart's in the right place though, and yeah, he's a good guy."
"Are you sure? You have to be sure, Kane. This is Jensen we're talking about." Jared hears the intensity in his own voice, the over-riding protectiveness.
Christian doesn't seem phased by it in the slightest. "I've had several serious conversations with the guy and I can say with certainty he wants this for all the right reasons. Now, is Jensen ready to new meet people? That's your call, man. Totally your decision."
"Okay, I'll think about it and let you know."
Jared sighs as he ends the call. Jensen's well-being is his top priority, but is he being too protective? Is there any such thing as being too protective where Jensen is concerned?
Outside his window, pale pink and gold streaks paint the horizon. Birds have begun their early morning chatter, heralding a new day.
Today is a Doctor Jim day. His doctor comes for a visit every couple days and Jensen is fine with that because Jim never wants more than he can give. Jim understands how things are, the reasons and whys, even when Jensen himself doesn't. At the hospital, it was Jim who explained where he was and why he was there in a way that finally made some sense.
Doctor Jim had also been at the place after the hospital, but before coming to live with Daddy Jared, the only familiar face in a sea of scary strangers. Jensen's memories of that place are disjointed. Mostly, he remembers being out of his mind with fear, a prick on his arm, and then his senses failing him, one by one, until he was nothing more than a hollowed-out shell. Jensen knows Jim had something to do with getting him away from that place. Jim made it so he could come live here with his daddy. That's all the reason Jensen needs to like him.
Jim's visits have a routine. Jensen likes routines, he likes knowing what to expect and what's expected of him. First, they all sit in the living room, Jensen pressed up against his daddy on the couch while Jim sits in the recliner. Daddy always fills Jim in on anything interesting that has happened since his last visit - like that time when Uncle Christian came over and Jensen helped him make cupcakes for Daddy's birthday. Sometimes Jim asks questions and sometimes he makes notes in his journal. During this first part, Jensen just listens and nods when it seems like the right thing to do.
Doctor Jim watches him a lot, his grayish-blue eyes serious and thoughtful, but if it gets to be too much, Jensen hides his face by burrowing against Daddy's shoulder. Then, Daddy rubs his back until he feels less shy and he can look at Jim again.
Next, Daddy leaves Jim and Jensen alone in the living room while he makes lunch in the kitchen. Jensen is pretty sure this is so Doctor Jim can color without Daddy telling him which crayon to use. Daddy is kind of silly like that. Green and black are Jensen's favorite colors. He uses them a lot when he draws. Doctor Jim seems to prefer red and yellow.
Coloring isn't something Jensen normally does unless Jim is there. In fact, he'd never even seen crayons until one visit when Doctor Jim set a drawing pad and a plastic box full of brightly colored pencils and crayons on the coffee table. He said Jensen could draw whatever he liked, that he should express himself or something, but Jensen had no idea what he meant. So Doctor Jim had gotten on the floor with him, picked up a blue crayon, and started making marks on the paper. Curiosity piqued, Jensen had crawled over to watch, then hesitantly taken a crayon for himself, watching Jim's expression all the while in case it was a bad thing to do. Jim took his eyes off his own creation only long enough to smile and nod.
During that early visit, Doctor Jim drew an orange cat playing with blue yarn. Jensen's first attempt at drawing was little more than some scribbles made with a shaky hand, black lines that started off nearly transparent and then became a little darker, a little bolder, as Jensen began breathing harder and harder. By the time Doctor Jim stopped him, tears streaked his face and smeared his paper, and somehow, he felt better, more in control, like some of his anger and fear and confusion had been drained out and left on the paper.
Today's picture is a far cry from that first tentative scrawl. The coloring sessions happen every time Doctor Jim comes, so Jensen has developed some confidence since that first time. He draws whatever he finds buried deep inside himself, transcribing his moods and feelings into images. The black crayon still gets a lot of use, but it's no longer the only one he uses.
Today is different though. Today, he has decided to draw from his heart. An assortment of colored pencils in cheery colors surrounds him. He starts with his daddy, of course, tall and strong, wide smile, dimples, unruly brown hair. Yup, that's definitely daddy. Anyone can see that.
Uncle Christian comes next, not as tall, but broad-shouldered, expression fierce to scare off all the bad guys, wearing his police uniform, a gun belt cinched around his waist. People who see the frown on Uncle Christian's face might think he's mean or that he doesn't care. Jensen knows that's not true though. His frown is like a mask he wears on the outside. Deep down on his inside, where it really matters, Uncle Christian cares a lot.
Misha is a little harder to get just right. Jensen holds the paper up to the light coming in through the front window and studies his handiwork critically, lower lip caught between his teeth. More blue, he decides, Misha's eyes are definitely bluer than that.
Once satisfied with Misha's tousled hairstyle and the blue of his eyes, Jensen considers adding himself to the picture. But how? Where does he fit in? It's a difficult question, one he hasn't thought about before. As he stares at the picture, it looks complete the way it is - three friends, standing shoulder to shoulder. There's no room for him. No room for a fourth person, sitting at their feet.
His doctor's quiet question catches him off guard. He'd been so wrapped up in getting every detail just right that he'd forgotten the other man was even in the room.
This picture is important to him. He's not sure he wants just anyone looking at it. In a way, sharing this picture is like giving away the only parts of his life that have any value. Doctor Jim waits patiently, hands resting on the coffee table between them, while Jensen deliberates. After a while, Jensen puts the paper on the table and pushes it over until it taps Jim's folded hands. Only then does the doctor reach for it.
He doesn't pick it up, only turns it so he can see it from the right angle. Pointing to the largest figure on the page, he says, "This big fellow here must be Jared, huh? I see you've got him right in the middle of the page."
Jensen nods and grabs up the purple crayon, tearing a small strip of paper off one end so he doesn't have to look at his doctor. Sometimes, the focused interest he sees there is just too much. He's not used to anyone paying such close attention to his every move.
"And I can see you have Misha's fashion sense perfected with the striped sweater and green pants."
Hazarding a quick peek up from his purple crayon, Jensen sees Jim's mustache quiver slightly. He nods again, not really knowing what else to do.
"And there's Officer Kane in his police uniform. These three men, they're very special, aren't they? I can tell they mean a lot to you, the way you've drawn them here together so carefully. They make a very nice looking team, don't they?"
Jensen's fingers itch to hold his picture again. With some trepidation, he snatches the paper back and traces a finger lightly over his daddy's smiling face on the page.
Doctor Jim doesn't seem angry about the small act of defiance, but his eyes sharpen to the point that Jensen can feel his skin prickle, as he says, "There's something missing from your picture, Jensen. Or someone, I should say. There's one person who makes these three people more than just friends, one person who makes them a family. I want you to think about that, Jensen. Think about the very important person who's missing from your picture."
Jensen is sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the coffee table, chewing on his bottom lip as though he's contemplating a weighty decision. A small crease has formed between his eyebrows.
He's been working on that picture for a while now. Colored pencils, a different choice of medium for Jensen, litter the floor around him. Usually, he draws with crayon. The black crayon has seen so much use that it's been worn down to a nub and replaced several times over. His drawings, although mostly abstract, have a certain beauty to them, a symmetry and poignancy that make Jared's heart ache.
Doctor Jim says that, sometimes, Jensen cries quietly while he's drawing, shedding tear after tear without even realizing he's doing it, and that it's a good thing. How that can be a good thing is beyond Jared, but he trusts their psychologist and if he says drawing therapy is helping Jensen, then Jared believes it. After all, Jim hasn't steered them wrong yet.
Catching the doctor's eye where he sits across from Jensen, Jared beckons him over. Jim glances at Jensen and, at seeing his patient totally engrossed in his masterpiece, gets up to join Jared in the kitchen, eyebrows raised in question.
"I have something I want to discuss with you," Jared starts. "It's about the trial."
Lips pressed so tightly together they disappear behind his greying mustache, Jim nods. "They have copies of all my files regarding Jensen's condition, my hypotheses on the extent of abuse required to cause his extreme regression and withdrawal. I'm scheduled to testify in person as well."
"Did you know the prosecutor wants to question Jensen before the trial?"
"Doesn't surprise me. I assume they have their own psychologist for this meeting?"
"I don't know. They haven't spoken to me about it yet. I'm just going off what Kane told me and he seems to think they have a specialist lined up. He said they have someone who deals with non-verbal witnesses." With a bit more heat than he intends, Jared asks, "As his guardian, they do have to at least run this by me first, don't they?"
"Yes, they probably want all their ducks lined up in a row before they call you. If I were you, I'd expect that call any day now."
"So, what do you think? How should I handle this? Won't being questioned by strangers in some chaotic office set him back? Won't making him relive his parent's abuse be too traumatic? He's come so far, I don't want all our progress destroyed by people who don't know him. They don't understand. I can't imagine this going well. On the other hand, his parents can't get away with what they did." Jared knows he's speaking too quickly, not giving Jim a chance to get a word in edgewise much less answer all his questions. He only barely manages to stop himself from blurting out - Can't you make it all go away? Make them leave us alone?
Jim has both hands up, patting the air in front of his face as though trying to persuade a charging grizzly to calm down. "Jared, hold on. Take a breath."
"Sorry." Jared does as he's told and inhales. When he breathes out, he realizes his hands are clenched into fists. He shakes them out and gives Jim a rueful look.
"Don't be sorry. You're worried and you have every right to be. It's not an ideal situation, but it's not as bad as you may think."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, for one thing, the meeting doesn't necessarily have to be at their offices. We can request a less formal setting, somewhere Jensen will be more comfortable. I'm sure if we explain, they'll understand that they're more likely to get useful information from a relaxed witness than an agitated one. They'll probably bend over backwards to do whatever is necessary. I'll help you come up with a list of ways to make this easier on him; familiar objects to bring along, music you can play, that sort of thing."
"That's...that's a good idea, a really good idea actually." A more familiar setting will make a huge difference. Jared is surprised he didn't think of it himself instead of jumping to conclusions and getting all worked up. It doesn't solve all their problems because there aren't many places other than their house that are familiar to him and certainly not many where Jensen feels safe, but it's a step in the right direction. "I've been working on taking him out of the house more often. No place where there are a lot of people yet. Just quiet, secluded areas. We're going to a nearby lake this afternoon. It's so small, no one else ever goes there. Misha is meeting us, so it'll be just the three of us."
"Sounds like a good outing for him. Surrounding Jensen with people he knows like you, Misha, myself and Officer Kane might go a long way towards making this meeting with the attorneys more bearable for him too." Jim puts a hand on Jared's shoulder. "You have his trust now, Jared. Don't underestimate how powerful that is. As long as you don't do anything to jeopardize his faith in you - and I don't think you will - he can accomplish much more than you're giving him credit for."
Jared sucks in a breath, overwhelmed by a sudden wave of emotion. He turns away to watch the young man in the living room as he puts down his pencil and rubs sleepily at his eyes. It'll be nap time after lunch. "Swiping a hand over his own slightly moist eyes, he says, "Looks like Jensen has finished his picture. Before he comes to find us, I have one other question."
"Okay, shoot," Jim says.
"Based on our conversation so far, I think I know what your answer is gonna be, but...Christian knows someone who wants to meet Jensen." Jared considers explaining about Chad's reasons and decides they aren't important. "Should I let him? Should I expose him to someone new? Someone I don't even know?"
Jim's smile is patient as he replies, "Do you suspect Christian would willingly introduce an unhealthy element into Jensen's life?"
"I'll give you the same advice I gave Christian when he asked me about introducing you to Jensen. Explain everything to Jensen beforehand. Be very clear so he knows what's going to happen. Hold the meeting in the place he feels the most secure. Let him dictate how the meeting goes. And, most importantly, don't worry about what this other person thinks. Jensen will be Jensen and if this other person can't handle that, he's not worth letting into Jensen's life." Jim gives a little shrug as if he's just finished teaching a very rudimentary subject. "Christian did all those things and look how it turned out."
Jared hums thoughtfully. Jim is right; this isn't as complicated as he's making it. The doctor's advice makes him feel much more confident in his choice though.
"Look at it this way," Jim continues. "You can use this meeting as practice for the meeting with the attorney. Get Jensen comfortable with the idea of having new people around."
As Jared mulls things over, Jim says goodbye to Jensen and gathers up all the crayons, pencils, and extra paper. Once he's gone, they eat lunch - mac 'n cheese with tuna - and then Jensen goes down for his nap. It's not until Jensen begins sucking his thumb in his crib, eyes blinking sleepily, on the verge of closing, that Jared realizes he forgot to talk with Jim about whether he should discourage this behavior.
Not yet, he decides, running his fingers lightly through Jensen's dark-blond hair.
"Sleep tight, baby."
Jensen's eyes drift shut and Jared tiptoes out of the nursery, wandering into his study where an article on The Top 10 Tourist Destinations in Japan awaits him on his laptop. If he concentrates, he can get through his first round of edits and fact checks before Jensen wakes and they leave for the lake.
With Mr. Bun tucked firmly between his arm and his side, Jensen crawls toward the front door, excited about showing the turtles to his fluffy friend. Mr. Bun hasn't seen the turtles yet because he didn't come with them last time. At the door, Jensen sits and waits for his daddy.
The keys jangle happily when Daddy comes and takes them from the small table in the hallway.
"All ready to-" he begins, one hand on the doorknob as he looks down at Jensen. But then his smile disappears. "Oh, Jensen...I don't think Mr. Bun should come. He'll get all dirty at the lake. You don't want that, do you? Let's leave him here."
Daddy's hand reaches out, closes around one of the floppy bunny's arms, and Jensen reacts instinctively, clutching the rabbit to his chest while shaking his head as hard as he can. No, it's not fair. Mr. Bun shouldn't have to stay home all by himself, lonely and sad, while everyone else has fun. Scooting backwards out of reach, Jensen buries his face in downy, white fur.
Mr. Bun never gets to leave the house and it's not fair. It's not fair. Jensen's lower lip wobbles. His throat gets tight and achy. Other people leave the house all the time, and he has to stay quiet and still so no one knows he's there, and why can't he come just this one time? Why is it so bad for him to go outside? Why?
Jensen lifts his head, staring into mournful, glass eyes. Mr. Bun gazes back, unblinking, no answers forthcoming. Life isn't fair, his droopy ears and little down-turned mouth seem to say. How could Jensen have forgotten that truth? A truth that has been hammered into him more times than he can count. In more ways than he can ever process.
He gives the bunny an 'I'm so sorry' hug and then holds him out for his daddy to take him away.
Instead, there's the sensation of being lifted up, stuffed rabbit and all, and Daddy is hugging them both, so tightly it's almost hard to breath.
"Of course Mr. Bun is coming with us. Of course he is," Daddy says, voice wet-sounding and muffled against Jensen's shoulder.
Continued at Chapter 3
Return to Chapter 1