Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
“Jesus,” Jared murmurs. “Is he...?”
A hand brushes sweaty hair from his forehead. Fingers trail down to his neck, checking his pulse. Jensen floats on the unfamiliar sensations of being cared for and safe while his muzzy thoughts tumble and spin and the pain slowly recedes to a dull, persistent throb.
“I think he’s out and that’s a damn good thing. He needs the rest, plus I’ve still gotta close up that gash with a couple stitches.” Ty’s usually whiskey-smooth voice sounds shaken, and Jensen gets it. He’s putting his friends through the ringer. Even as out of it as he is, he knows he’s not being fair to them. They don’t deserve this. They shouldn’t have to deal with him and all the screwed up crap that comes with him. He needs to get his shit together and put an end to Alistair before Ty and Misha and especially Jared get any more tangled up in his mess. It’s not like he hasn’t gone it alone before. He may not like it, he may suck at it, but he’s had a lot of practice being a solo act.
With an effort, he blinks his eyes open. Jared’s blurry face is the first thing he sees.
“Hey, there you are,” Jared husks, lips turned up in a soft smile. “We thought you might sleep for a while longer.”
“Nah, too much excitement around here.” Jensen flexes his right arm, testing his strength and trying to regain his bearings. He’s still lying on his stomach, the spit-soaked pillow against his cheek, his left arm at an awkward angle behind him. It’s not the most comfortable position he’s ever been in and, although he’s loath to admit it, he’s too weak yet to shift into a more comfortable one. “Help me turn over?” he requests, too exhausted and dizzy to be as mortified as he probably should be by his helpless state.
“You never do what’s in your own best interest, do you? Why couldn’t you just stay unconscious until I finished sewing up your head?” Ty complains as he directs Misha and Jared on how to roll Jensen over without further injuring his newly re-socketed shoulder.
Once he’s on his back, and Misha has thankfully flipped the pillow over so that the wet side is down, Ty commences placing three neat stitches into his scalp. It hurts, but Jensen is beyond the point of registering the pain as anything worse than the stinging of a really angry wasp.
Exhaustion tugs at him like he’s caught in a relentless undertow hellbent on dragging him beneath the surface. But there’s something he needs to do before he rests, and after years of training his body to go without sleep, he knows exactly what to do to push through it. All he has to do is keep moving, shake off the pain and the drugs and the urge to give in, even if only for a little while, and use what’s left of his dwindling reserves to get up off the couch. Once up, it’ll get easier. The trickiest part will be getting his friends to leave him alone.
His exhaustion is something he can use, however, and use it he does. He lets it color his voice as he slips into that twilight state of awareness and murmurs groggily, “Gonna sleep now.”
“That’s good Jense, you sleep. We’ll be right here if you need us,” says Misha.
“Not necessary. Got your own lives...” he yawns. “I’ll be fine.”
Ty looks at his watch and frowns. “I do have a shift starting at the hospital soon.”
“Go,” Jensen nods at Misha and Jared, closes his eyes. “You two c’n go too. C’m back t’morrow. Don’ watch me sleep. S’creepy.” The mumbled words aren’t an act. He’s so tired his tongue feels like he’s just had a shot of Novocain.
Okay, big guy. You sleep.” Ty pats his leg. “I’ll check in on you after my shift. I’ll bring home a shoulder sling.”
There’s a whispered conversation at the other end of the room, then footsteps past the couch, receding into the entrance hall. The front door opens and shuts. Finally, there’s silence broken only by Alistair’s stilted monologue.
Are you ready?...we can become whole...mend all that is broken...
Jensen opens his eyes. The room is empty. Holding his breath against the pain movement brings, he swings his legs over the side of the couch and makes the arduous journey from prone to sitting. It takes him a moment of sitting there, cradling his left arm against his chest and panting from exertion, before he’s ready to stand. He regains his feet only to have the room pitch underneath him. Fuck, this sucks.
He shuffles out to the garage to prepare a space for all the supplies he’ll need. The best part of this summoning...ritual...or whatever, is that everything he needs is already right here at the house. They always keep a large bag of rock salt in the garage for de-icing the steps and walkway during winter. The water hose is already hooked up to the house’s water supply in the front yard. Matches and candles are in the kitchen. The vial containing Alistair’s spore that he got from the Lexington police evidence locker is still in his jacket pocket. According to David’s video, the only other thing he needs is a connection to Alistair and that he has in abundance.
Want you...so pretty...so sweet...delicious
Oh yeah, and sorrow. No problem there either.
The garage is empty except for a lawn mower and the few tools and car care items he deems essential to home ownership. Gardening has never been his thing so he doesn’t have any rakes or shovels or any of that stuff. And with five people sharing a house, it’s just easier for everyone if the cars are parked in the driveway or on the street. The large, clutter-free garage is perfect for what he has planned now. The fact that there isn’t much flammable material nearby is a definite plus as well.
Everything gathered, Jensen uses the information David shared in the video to prepare for Alistair’s arrival. Strange as it may seem, salt is the most potent weapon in his arsenal against the monster. Salt adheres to its slimy skin as if it were a giant slug and dissolves its flesh just like acid. Because of this, Alistair is repelled by salt and won’t cross over a salt line drawn on the ground. Jensen pours a large salt circle on the concrete floor, retaining enough to throw at Alistair when it materializes.
Next, he lights a fat candle and places it in the middle of the circle. The candle will be used as a focal point of energy. It’s not as strong an energy source as the electricity and battery pack used by the Men of Letters, but Jensen is betting on the established connection already forged between them. The connection that has linked him to the monster and its insidious voice for the past twelve years should be enough to draw it to him once the words are spoken.
To increase the bond even further, he pulls the vial from his pocket, removes the stopper with his teeth since he only has one functioning hand at the moment, and pours a glob onto his palm. The rest he pours inside the salt circle, careful not to get any on the candle. The foul smell fills his nostrils, making him shudder and gag. He hopes the monster’s spore will provide Alistair any additional assistance it might need in finding him. Alistair has always wanted to get to him. That’s never been the issue. Now that Jensen knows what beacon to use to show it the way, he has no doubt the monster will come.
The last precaution is four buckets of water placed strategically around the garage in case the fire gets out of hand. It shouldn’t, but Jensen has no desire to burn his house down along with Alistair. Better safe than sorry, as they say.
This is it. He’s ready.
Standing outside the circle, he puts his one good hand into his pocket and clenches the book of matches stashed there. By his feet is the half-full bag of salt. He concentrates on the candle, taps into the core of all his emotional pain, and in a loud, clear voice he begins, “Alastair, I call you forth. By your name I command you to appear. Know that I know who you are and in so knowing I summon you. Appear before me now.”
The candle flickers.
Louder, Jensen repeats the phrase. “Alastair, I call you forth. By your name I command you to appear. Know that I know who you are and in so knowing I summon you. Appear before me now.”
The stench grows stronger and the candle gutters and fizzles out.
Again, “Alastair, I call you forth. By your name I command you to appear. Know that I know who you are and in so knowing I summon you. Appear before me now.”
The air inside the circle shimmers like a heat mirage and Alistair steps through an invisible doorway, malice in every line of its inky-black body. Pus glistens from open sores as boils erupt and reform, bubbling and oozing.
Jensen’s insides turn to water. Nothing could prepare him for seeing Alistair face-to-face in a fully lit room. Nothing.
Alistair takes a step forward and Jensen is paralyzed. All he can do is stare in shocked horror.
“Wanted you for so long...now you’re mine.” The monster’s words, spoken aloud, are even more menacing than the ones Jensen has heard inside his head all these long years.
Another step brings Alistair in contact with the salt circle and it screeches, high-pitched and piercing.
The scream breaches Jensen’s stupor. He grabs the open bag of salt, flinging it in a wide arc at the monster. Salt pellets explode from the bag. They fly in all directions, many of them finding their target. Alistair’s screams become frantic, gnashing wails. It thrashes and squeals.
Jensen reaches into his pocket and pulls out the book of matches.
The garage door bangs open and there, red faced and panting, stands AJ. “Don’t you dare kill him! I’ve been working on this project for twelve years. You’re ruining everything.”
Determined to end this once and for all, Jensen holds the book between his teeth, pulls off one match, and strikes it against the packet still in his mouth. The spark is short lived. He tries again. Still no flame.
AJ takes the opportunity to race across the room and body slam Jensen. Pain erupts in his shoulder, stealing his breath. The book of matches flies out of his mouth and he loses his footing, toppling to the ground. AJ lands on top of him and there’s a mad scramble for the matches.
Inside the circle, Alistair continues to writhe and scream, flesh melting. Steam rises from the pock marks where the salt pellets cling.
The chaos masks Misha and Jared’s arrival. Jensen doesn’t even know they’re there until AJ is forcibly lifted off him.
Face a hardened mask, Misha gets AJ in a headlock. “You fucking idiot!” Jensen’s not sure if this is addressed at AJ or at him. Probably both of them.
Jared’s head is on a swivel, rotating back and forth between the convulsing monster and Jensen.
Jensen’s nearly done in and he knows it. His reserves are so far past depleted, he can barely remember his own name, much less what he’s supposed to be doing. The matches are important, though. He needs the matches. “Jared, the matches. I need them.” He points to where the matches lie.
“Nooo!” screams AJ. “Don’t burn him. You’ll kill him for sure. I need him!” Struggling against Misha’s hold, he seems to be straining towards one of the buckets of water, arms outstretched.
Jared snaps out of his daze and bends down to retrieve the matches. He hands them to Jensen and carefully helps him stand.
This time, the dizziness doesn’t slow him down. Jensen grits his teeth and forces his left hand to obey orders, to hold the book of matches steady while he pulls another from the pack and strikes it. The match flares to life on the first try. Using the lit match, he ignites the entire pack and tosses it at Alistair.
There’s a loud ‘whoomf’ sound and flames engulf the wretched creature, licking at it’s tar-like skin. Jensen watches as thick, black smoke billows upward from the conflagration.
He turns to face Jared, tries for a wry smile, fails.
He knows he’s going to pass out before it happens. There’s nothing he can do about it. He takes one step toward Jared and his legs give out, refusing to support his weight any longer.
Jared catches him as he falls.
He hears, “You did it. It’s over. You’re gonna be okay.”
He startles awake, a scream tearing its way up his throat.
“Easy, easy.” A warm hand rests lightly on his right bicep. “You’re safe.”
“Alistair?” he croaks.
“Is toast, literally burnt to a crisp. It’s never going to hurt anyone ever again.”
Jensen takes a moment to think about that. It’s been twelve years since his parents were killed. Twelve years that he’s lived with the monster’s voice in his head.
And now, it’s gone.
He breathes in, breathes out. Stills his mind and body. Listens.
Only silence greats him.
The voice is gone.
He looks around and realizes he’s lying up against someone on the couch. Long arms encircle him.
“Jare? Are you snuggling me?”
Jared huffs a quiet laugh. “You better believe I am. You scared the crap out of me.”
“He took AJ to the police station. Said he wasn’t sure what to charge him with, but he’d figure something out. He’s pissed at you, by the way.”
Jensen sighs. “Yeah, I figured he would be.”
“He had your number though. Before we left, he told me you might decide to do something stupid if we left you alone for too long. That’s way we came back so soon.”
“What about you?” Jensen shifts a little in Jared’s arms, not enough to dislodge them, just enough so that he can see his friend’s face.
“What about me?”
“What are you still doing here? You came to find me and walked straight into a nightmare. I wouldn’t blame you if you hightailed it out of here and never looked back.”
“Well, that’s not happening. We still have a lot of talking to do.” Jared hesitates, bows his head. “I have a lot of apologizing to do. But I plan to make it up to you, all of it.”
Unable to hold back any longer, Jensen asks the question that used to burn hot like lava inside his heart, but has since turned to cinder and ash, “Why didn’t you ever come to see me? In the Home. I-I waited for you. Every day for...for years.” A single tear slips down his cheek unheeded.
Jared’s breath hitches. He closes his eyes and when he opens them again, their blue-green depths are filled with heart-rending regret. “Jen...I tried. I swear I did.”
“Then w-why?” Jensen hates how his voice cracks. But his emotions are too close to the surface. He doesn’t have the strength to shove them behind a wall. Who’s he kidding? His walls crumbled to dust the moment he saw Jared standing in his living room. He’s wide open and as emotionally vulnerable as a five year old.
Jared clenches his jaw and his body stiffens. “My mother. She...I don’t want to make her sound like she’s a bad person. She’s not a bad person. She’s just not the most compassionate person either.” He looks down at their clasped hands. “I won’t make excuses for her. What she did to us - to you - was horrible.”
“What did she do?”
“After they took you away that day, I begged her to change her mind, to let you come back. I pestered her relentlessly until she finally broke down and told me my dad was having an affair. He wanted a divorce.” Jared’s chin quivers.
Jensen’s chest aches for his then-teenage friend. “I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be sorry. It’s nothing compared to what you were going through.” Jared shakes his head. “I tried to go see you, every day, but mom always had something she wanted me to do for her. She got possessive and needy. I’d never seen her like that. She’d always been so aloof. I figured out later that she was manipulating me. She was just doing whatever it took to keep me away from you. I’m not sure why. She kept telling me that you were getting the help you needed, and that I would only interfere with your treatment.”
The sound that escapes Jensen’s mouth is part choked sob and part muffled groan. Treatment? His treatment had consisted of antipsychotic medication and therapy sessions where they told him nothing he’d seen that night was real. He’d needed Jared so badly back then. He’d needed his friend.
Jared gently thumbs away the tear on his cheek, cupping his jawline. “A few days later she told me your aunt had come and taken you and Mackenzie back to Wyoming.”
“My aunt didn’t...she couldn’t-”
“I know,” Jared says, tone hushed. “My mom lied. I found out later. But back then, I believed her.” He takes a deep breath. “I called your cell over and over again. Until one day I got a message saying the number had been disconnected. I sent you emails, but they were never answered.”
“They took away my phone. I never got my computer from my house. They didn’t let me have much of my old stuff,” Jensen says in a deadened, barely-there voice.
“Yeah, I’m so sorry, Jen. If I’d known you were still in that home, I would have found a way to get to you. Nothing would have kept me away.”
“I tried to find you too,” Jensen mutters, “when I...when I turned eighteen. They let me out and I tried...you were gone.”
“Mom moved us before that summer ended. She didn’t even wait for the divorce to be finalized. I’ve lived in California since my sophomore year of high school.” Jared’s eyes go dewy. “I’m so sorry Jen. Can you ever forgive me?”
“Don’t be sorry, Jare. It’s not your fault. It’s remarkable that you were able to find me at all. How did you anyway? After all these years.”
“That’s a very long story, perhaps best saved for another day. Suffice to say, I’ve been looking for you ever since I graduated from college. Got my degree in social work and started trawling the old records from that home where you lived. That facility shut down, by the way. Made locating the records a little harder. I tracked you from there to where you attended college at University of Michigan. Your trail went cold after that. It took a ton of leg work and I owe a bunch of people favors, but I finally found an address for you here in Virginia that looked promising. I jumped on a plane and showed up just in time for the big boss battle.” He quirks a grin. “I guess it wasn’t that long a story after all.”
Jared’s dimples flash. They take Jensen’s breath away for a moment.
“Wow, that’s...Jare, that’s amazing. You’ve really been looking for me all this time?”
“Yeah, and by the way, you don’t have a single social media account, do you?” Jared shakes his head. I can’t tell you how many times I searched for Jensen Ackles on Facebook only to come up empty.”
Jensen ducks his head. “Um, no. No social media. I didn’t know if the monster would be able to track me down that way. I tried to keep a low profile. It never occurred to me that you might be trying to find me.”
“I never stopped looking for you. You meant everything to me. Still do. I should have believed you back then. Like I said, I have a lot to make up for. A lot of lost time. If you think I’m letting you out of my sight ever again, you’ve got another thing coming.”
His embrace gets a little tighter and Jensen feels safer than he’s felt in a very, very long time. They will talk more. He wants to know every single thing Jared has done over the last twelve years. In time. But for now, this? Being held in Jared’s arms again? It’s enough. It’s everything.
Link to Epilogue
Link to the Master Post