It's So Dreamy
Jensen pumps his fist in the air and whoops. "Yeah! That's what I'm talking about. Serious streaker! Who's up for another ten-song set?" He twirls the drumsticks through his fingers with a flourish, looking expectantly from AJ to Ty and then over at the girls, Danneel and Felicia, where they sit on the couch.
Resting the plastic guitar against the seat back, Danneel massages her strumming hand and says, "Another one?"
AJ's eyes widen comically. "Jensen, you are one crazy mo-fo, dude. It's like...after midnight on a Tuesday! We've been playing rock band for over three hours."
Internally, Jensen winces, but externally he merely arches one eyebrow at his housemate. "And your point is?"
"My point is that it’s Tuesday night, I have school in the morning. Felicia, Ty and Danneel have to work in the morning. You have to work in the morning." AJ waves the microphone around over his head, sandy-brown, wavy hair taking on that wild look it gets whenever he's worked up over something, which is to say most of the time. "We all have to be up early. Now, maybe you don't need to sleep...ever. But the rest of us do."
Ty scrubs a hand down his face as he pulls the bass guitar strap over his head. "I gotta agree with doofus over there on this one," he says with an apologetic smile for Jensen. "I'm beat, brother."
"No, hey, I get it. S'cool." Jensen pushes the mounted rubber disks that pose as a drum set out of the way and stands up. His back twinges, so he stretches both arms behind himself and twists until he feels the satisfying crick of his spine realigning. Maybe he has been sitting in the same position for too long. "You guys go ahead and turn in. I'm just gonna...think I'll head over to Chevy's for a while. Not really tired, you know? Got some energy I still need to burn off before I can get to sleep."
Truth of it is, he is tired. His eyes feel all scratchy and his left shoulder aches. It's an old ache that goes bone deep, and it's always there. He's gotten so used to it that he can ignore it most of the time, unless he's been using his shoulder muscles a lot or unless he's really tired.
"Is Chevy's even open this late on a weeknight?" Danneel asks, scrunching up her petite nose and squinting at him like she's about to launch an all-out investigation. Reminds him a little of Kane, his director at the FBI, when the man suspects Jensen of trying to get out of paperwork. The look is much cuter on Danneel than it is on Christian. Even so, the last thing he needs is for his friends to become suspicious. They worry about him enough as it is.
"Course they're open." Jensen grabs his jacket and heads for the door before anyone else can ask any questions. He doesn't miss the concerned look that passes between Felicia and Ty.
His housemates are good people, great friends, but sometimes they can be too nosy and Jensen hates questions. So, he'll head over to Chevy's where the music is loud and conversation is next to impossible. He'll surround himself with a sea of people and perhaps he'll even find someone to hook up with. Some nameless person who doesn't know him, doesn't care that he won't be going to sleep tonight and, most importantly, won't ask why.
"Jensen, wait." Standing up from the couch, Felicia takes a step forward, hand outstretched as if to stop him.
His smile is soft and as genuine as he can make it. "It's okay, really. I'll see you guys in the morning."
Then, he escapes into the cool darkness of the March evening, closing the door of his old Victorian house behind him. The house is large, with three stories and enough bedrooms for him and his four housemates to each have their own. He’d bought the largest house he could afford with the sole purpose of filling it up with people and constant activity and commotion. Sometimes Jensen regrets the decision to put a limit on the house’s capacity. Sometimes he wishes he had more friends who could come live with him so that bedroom sharing would be mandatory. Sleep might become a possibility if there were people within easy reach, if he could hear their breathing in the dark and know he wasn't alone.
The streets are quiet this time of night, only the occasional car making its way slowly through the quaint section of Alexandria, Virginia that Jensen calls home. His neighborhood consists mostly of families and young professionals who work in Washington DC just like he does. The area is close enough to the Metro to make commuting possible and far enough away to avoid some of the more unseemly aspects of city living.
Streetlamps up and down the residential road provide plenty of light to see by, nevertheless, shadows in the dark places around his house and driveway seem to writhe and twist like souls being tortured on the rack. Jensen's hands involuntarily ball into fists as he stops to get a better look at the black spaces around his car, hyper aware of his surroundings, body as taut as a drawn bow string, ready to defend himself if necessary. Satisfied that nothing is crouching in the gloom, Jensen closes the remaining distance and gets into his car.
As he drives, the silence begins to creep him out, the noise from the engine not nearly loud enough to keep his thoughts at bay. A voice inside his head begins to seethe, raw and ragged, the words just as clear as the one and only time, many years ago, he'd heard them spoken out loud.
Open the door...can’t find you...must have you...you belong to me
Quickly, Jensen gropes at the car stereo, stabs at the dials and buttons, jacking the volume up to full blast. Music blares through the speakers and the voice fades into his memory, tolerable once again.
Sound helps, it always does, the louder the better. Anything that distracts him, really. People make the best distractions.
Chevy's comes into view soon after he leaves the residential area behind. A stand-alone sign in front, facing the street, shows the name in electric blue flowing script, framed in pink neon. The building itself has no distinguishable features other than three stairs that lead up to a set of black double doors. The blacked out windows make promises of illicit activities within.
Clif, the bouncer, greets Jensen with a nod as soon as the doors close behind him. With the music at eardrum-rupturing level inside the club, Jensen simply nods back. The base beat infuses his mind and body. The very floor vibrates like the aftershocks from a miniature earthquake, making his heart rate increase like it’s trying to keep time.
A smoky haze from the fog machines used on stage gives the main room an otherworldly vibe. It feels unreal in a way, as though he's stepped through a veil into an adult section of Neverland. No matter how many times he's been here, he always gets that same fantastic feeling. The ever-present kernel of agitation in the pit of his stomach dissolves just a little, replaced by a calm he rarely feels.
The only light comes from track lighting on the floor, the blue-tinted stage lights, and the dim recessed lights in the ceiling. Performers are dancing on stage and on the elevated platforms in the middle of the dance floor. They're all in various stages of undress, some of them in costumes made mostly of sequins or feathers. One guy has on a cowboy hat, a pair of tight, gold shorts and nothing else. His oiled muscles ripple as he holds his hat on his head with one hand and rotates his hips suggestively.
Breathing in deeply the scents of musky cologne, sweat, and the citrus fruits used to garnish cocktails, Jensen leans against the back wall as he takes stock of the present situation. There's a good crowd here tonight. Not as many as on a Friday or Saturday, certainly not packed, but for a Tuesday it's not bad. About two dozen men and women are grinding on the dance floor with about half that many lined up at the bar, bottles of beer or more exotic drinks in their hands. Here and there, the booths and tables are occupied with couples or small groups, leaning in close to hear each other over the booming music.
Several of the men are attractive, and Jensen lets his gaze linger on one particular guy over at the bar, making eye contact before turning away and moving to the dance floor. He won't make the first move, he never does, just lets his quarry know he might be interested and then waits to see what comes of it. Some guys like to be the aggressor, the predator, and Jensen...well, Jensen likes to be chased, likes his men tall and confident, likes someone who can physically dominate him. If the guy decides not to approach him, it's either because he isn't interested or because he's too shy. Jensen is fine with that because then he knows up front without the risk of rejection and without investing precious time on someone who may turn out not to be assertive enough.
He heads for the middle of the dance floor where the crowd is thickest, immerses himself in the mass of warm bodies all around him. Heat pulses through him along with the bass beat of the music. It's intoxicating. Some people crave certain foods, some people crave cigarettes or alcohol or drugs. Jensen craves the press and surge of a large crowd, the louder and wilder the better.
Closing his eyes, he raises his arms over his head. The ache in his shoulder intensifies, but long practice allows him to block out the pain. Cotton whispers against his skin and he knows the hem of his t-shirt has risen up to reveal a sliver of hip and stomach. Then, he forgets it all, gives himself over to the music and begins to move, in sync with the beat and the other dancers in a way that makes him feel a profound connection with them, a singularity of purpose.
He's so lost in the sensation that it takes a while before he notices someone has come up behind him. A hand on his hip finally alerts him that there's a body molded to his back, mimicking his movements almost flawlessly. Whoever is behind him doesn't lack self-confidence, that's for sure. Warm breath ghosts across his ear as an arm circles his waist and a second hand slips beneath his shirt to rest on his stomach. Strong hands, Jensen notices.
Curious, he turns within the light embrace, the hint of a lazy smile on his lips. He's pleased to see it's the man he'd singled out at the bar. The guy is about his same height and build, maybe a little slimmer, with brown hair and smoldering brown eyes.
Letting his arms drop to the man's shoulders, Jensen leans in close and says, "Hi, I'm Jensen."
When all he gets back is a smirk, Jensen wonders if maybe his introduction was swallowed up by the thumping, pounding cadence that fills the club. But before he can repeat himself, the guy pulls him closer, lips brushing his earlobe, and replies, “I know. I've seen you here before. Kinney...Brian Kinney." The exhaled air tickles his earlobe and heated arousal flairs in Jensen’s groin.
"We haven't met before though, have we? I'm usually pretty good at remembering people."
Actually, Jensen isn't just good at remembering people, he never forgets a name or a face. Never. And he knows he hasn't met Brian before. So how does Brian know who he is?
"No, we haven't met. Let's just say, I liked what I saw and I asked around." The hand Brian has on his back drops a little lower, fingers dipping inside the waistband of his jeans.
No, not shy at all.
Jensen grins, "Smooth," he says, and Brian's smirk gets a tiny bit bigger.
The song ends on a percussion solo and the next one begins, the tempo so fast that it's impossible to dance to and everyone simply begins to jump in time to the pulsing beat, bumping into each other as though they're in a mosh pit. Brain juts his chin toward the bar and raises an eyebrow in question. Jensen nods, not even trying to talk over the din.
Desire ripples through him as Brian grabs his wrist and pulls him off the dance floor toward the bar. Assertive, possessive, demanding. Tonight is shaping up to be very promising.
"What's your poison?" Brian shouts. Even by the bar, away from most of the speakers, it's still hard to be heard.
"Whatever you're having." Jensen doesn't have any strong preferences as far as alcohol goes. It's all the same to him and he can take it or leave it. He doesn't come here to get drunk.
As Brian waves down a bartender, Jensen turns around and reclines against the polished wood, elbows behind him to prop himself up, legs crossed at the ankles. Strobe lights begin to flash overhead, adding to the chaos on the dance floor. He revels in the noise, the shouts, the laughter. It settles him, makes him feel normal, like he’s in control. He takes a deep breath and lets it out in a long, contented exhale.
Brian presses a drink, something golden brown over ice, into his hand. Jensen wraps his fingers around the glass, brings it to his lips and swallows it down, all the while looking deeply into Brian's eyes. The alcohol - whiskey - burns a path to his belly where it gutters as though it's sitting over a low flame. Brian licks his full lips, mouths the word 'fuck' before quickly downing his own drink and slamming the empty glass on the bar counter.
There's no time for Jensen to enjoy the effect he's having on the man because Brian once again grabs his wrist and hustles him away from the bar toward the back room as though the fate of the world rests on him getting Jensen out of his pants as quickly as possible. Oh yes, this is going to be good. This is going to be fucking perfect.
It's at that moment, when Jensen is on the verge of getting exactly what he needs, that something catches his eye, a flash of someone familiar, someone...no, that's impossible.
Jensen comes to an abrupt halt while Brian, unaware, continues striding forward with Jensen's wrist held in a tight grip. The stab of pain as his shoulder takes the brunt of the jolt goes unheeded by Jensen.
"I'm sorry," he mumbles, wrenching his arm out of Brian's grasp. "There's someone...I have to check on something. I'm sorry."
Brian's expression darkens, mouth a tight, irritated line. He visibly forces a casual, disinterested look on his face. "Your loss," he says with a shrug Jensen barely sees because he's already turning around, gaze darting away to scan the cluster of people on the opposite side of the bar.
Somewhere over there...he thinks he saw...there!
Through the strobing, flickering light, through the smoke and the haze, he sees it again, the oh so familiar shape, the tall frame, the broad back tapering to the slender waist, legs that go on forever. Jesus, he looks just the way Jensen has always dreamed he would look all grown up. A man, he's a man now, no longer the teenager from Jensen's past. A full-grown man.
Despite the whiskey from only moments ago, Jensen's mouth goes bone dry, his tongue stuck to the roof as if glued there. He takes one step forward and then another and another, slow, stilted steps. He feels like he's sleepwalking, lost in a wretched dream where the more he walks the further away his goal gets.
Except that he's suddenly standing right in front of him.
The man has his back to Jensen, talking to a small, brunette woman. Hesitantly, Jensen puts out one hand, fingers tingling, and taps him on the shoulder. "'Scuse me." He can barely get the words out through the tightness in his chest. "Jare-"
Heavy-lidded eyes are looking back at him and they're wrong. They're all wrong. Not the right shape or the right color or the right anything.
"Yeah?" the man says, cocking his head and looking Jensen up and down appraisingly. "You want something?"
Jensen stumbles back a step, disappointment and confusion crashing into him. What the Hell? What had he been thinking? Stupid. So incredibly stupid to get himself all worked up over something that's more likely to happen in a poorly scripted rom-com than in his fucked-up life.
"No man, sorry. My bad. I thought...um, I thought..." He shakes his head. A burst of self-deprecating laughter gets out before he can stop it. "Never mind." Still shaking his head, Jensen turns around, leaving the guy and his girlfriend to get back to whatever they were doing or about to do.
Rarely has Jensen felt this naive and gullible. He's usually much more realistic than this, much more levelheaded. He knows the difference between reality and fantasy. He knows the truth about what's out there and, although there's a lot of really weird shit in this world, it's only the evil fairy tales that come to life, not the sweet, lovey-dovey ones. Life doesn't hold any happy endings. Not for him anyway.
Jensen scrubs a hand down his face, knuckles at his eyes. The tingling in his fingers has turned into a crawling sensation, like there are ants under his skin. The whiskey in his belly has turned sour. He wants his good mood back, wants to be back where he was before he saw...whatever. He just wants to get laid.
Brian isn't at the bar anymore. Jensen lets his gaze roam the club until he finds him. But it's too late. Brian's already found someone else, a twinky looking kid, young with blond, spiked-up hair and pouty lips. The two of them are wrapped around each other on the dance floor and the kid is looking at Brian as though he’s the moon and the stars.
It's just as well. Jensen's good mood has left the building and it's not coming back anytime soon. Might as well go home and wait out the rest of the night in front of the TV.
When he gets the sturdy, wooden door of their house open, he finds Felicia on the couch wearing her Tinkerbell pajamas, something that looks suspiciously like a Lifetime Channel movie playing on the flat screen. She twists around to look at him, head cradled in her arms where she rests them on the back of the couch, expression fond and sleepy.
"Hey Tigger," she says, invoking the nickname she'd given him because of his seemingly boundless energy. "You’re back early. Did you have fun?"
It's not hard to tell she's been waiting up for him, that she's worried about him. On some intuitive level, she has probably guessed what some of his issues are. As hard as Jensen tries to hide how much of a freak he is, he knows it's unlikely he's been completely successful. After all, they've been friends for four years now, lived in the same house for three of those years, shared each other's space, and she's crazy smart. Her job at NASA proves just how smart. The way she looks at him sometimes makes him feel like a bug under a microscope.
Jensen toes off his shoes by the door. "Yeah, I had a good time. How come you're not in bed? Thought you were too tired to hang, work in the morning and all that crap."
"Eh, all I have to do is finish debugging that landing program for NASA tomorrow. When have I ever needed a full night's sleep to do that?" Her red pony tail swishes as she gives an indignant toss of her head. "Besides, all the really great movies come on after 2 o'clock in the morning."
"Right," he drawls. "Whatever you say."
"How about you? Gonna call it a night?"
"Nah, I was thinking I might veg out in front of the TV myself. Haven't reached my quota of mindless entertainment this week yet. You mind some company?" he asks, hopeful that he's managed to sound casual and not desperate. The last thing he wants is to guilt his friend into spending time with him, even though the prospect of spending yet another night awake and alone is more than a little daunting.
Felicia doesn't say anything, just cocks her head in a get-over-here-you-imbecile way and pats the cushion beside her.
Padding over on stocking feet, Jensen happily takes her up on her offer and makes himself comfortable on the couch, close enough that their shoulders are brushing, or her shoulder is brushing up against his arm anyway. The pipsqueak. Never mind the fact that the couch is easily large enough to fit four people and there's no reason for the two of them to be cuddled up together at one side, leaving the other half empty.
Felicia drapes half of her blanket over his lap so that the two of them are sharing body heat as well as space.
The flat screen takes up a good portion of the wall. It's AJ's prized possession and one of the few pieces of furniture he'd contributed to the household when he moved in. On the screen, a young Leonardo DiCaprio dribbles a basketball down court to the shouts of his coach and teammates. The frenetic movement is hypnotizing. The basketball goes up and down, the players run back and forth, the camera pans in for a close up and returns to a wide-angle shot. As Jensen watches, the picture begins to slip in and out of focus, colors bleeding together, faces becoming indistinguishable blobs.
He reaches up and digs the heel of his palm into first one gritty eye and then the other. He gets a head rush all of a sudden, exhaustion coming from out of nowhere to flatten him like an angry bull.
This is what he gets for slowing down. If he keeps moving, keeps active, keeps going, going, going, he can stay ahead of his need for sleep. Now though, all the sleepless nights have caught up with him in one fell swoop. His shoulder aches from the dancing and his stint at the drums earlier. The room starts spinning. Each time he blinks, it's a struggle to force his eyes open again.
He's just so goddamn tired. But he has to get up, get moving, outrun this insidious exhaustion before it has the chance to pull him in and put him under.
As though she can read his mind, Felicia shifts closer, puts her arm around his shoulders and begins carding her fingers through the short hair at the nape of his neck in a soothing, mesmerizing manner.
Totally unfair. How's he supposed to get up now?
Then again, maybe with Felicia here it'll be okay to relax. Just for a few minutes. Just until he's not so dizzy. His head lolls to the side and he knows his eyes have slipped shut. He’s not quite asleep, but it feels like he’s been wrapped in a silk cocoon. The lassitude is so all-consuming that he can’t move, trapped in the trance-like state between being awake and being unconscious.
The volume on the TV gets softer and he hears footsteps coming down the stairs.
“Shhhh,” Felicia whispers.
“You got’im to fall asleep,” Ty’s husky Louisiana drawl seems to float over him. “I’m impressed. How long’s it been since he got any real sleep?”
“Hard to tell, but his bedroom’s right next to mine, so I can hear him in there, walking around, pacing back and forth all hours of the night. And that’s when he comes home at all.”
“Yeah, something’s wrong. Something happened to him, makes him...I don’t know, but I wish he’d talk to us. Let us help him. Or if not us, someone.”
“He won’t. I’ve tried. He’s been like this for as long as I’ve known him and all I can figure out is that something from his past is chasing him, something that he refuses to talk about. It’s slowly devouring him from the inside. This is the best I can do for him, get him to stop long enough that he falls asleep every once in a while.” Small, delicate fingers continue their gentle massage on the back of his neck.
The next thing Ty says is quieter and the words are indistinct. “Maybe...intervention...insomnia...
Voices continue, muffled, muted, until there’s nothing, nothing except oily darkness.
Link to Chapter 2
Link to the Master Post