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: 2,550 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: Sorry for the long wait. I really appreciate those of you who have stopped by to give me a nudge every now and then. You were instrumental in helping my muse finally deliver an ending! The story is now complete and will be posted one chapter a week. This one is somewhat short because I couldn't find a better place for it to end. The ones after this are longer. If you stop by to read and you enjoy the story, please leave me some love at the end. (((Hugs)))
Three days later
The movie ends. The ogres ride away in the carriage while the donkey and the fairy tale creatures sing and dance. The ogres "love" each other and that makes them and all their friends happy. Jensen thinks about what makes him happy. Being here on the couch with his daddy makes him happy. He smiles and snuggles a little closer into Daddy's chest, one arm looped around Mr. Bun's tummy.
"Okay, the movie is over." From where he's sitting in the reclining chair, Uncle Christian lifts an eyebrow and stares at Daddy. It's a little strange how serious he looks, especially with Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs singing in the background.
"Yeah, I know." Daddy shifts behind him. "But I gotta put some more of the burn ointment Misha gave me on his hand."
Three times every day Daddy puts the gooey stuff on his hand and re-wraps the bandages. It still hurts, but not too badly, more like his hand is being held against a lit cigarette and less like it's being submerged in a pot of boiling water. There’s a difference between those two horrible things, a difference that Jensen has experienced first hand, and so he is certain his hand feels more like the first than the second.
The puffy, white welts on his palm are starting to get crusty around the edges. When daddy asked Misha about it over the phone this morning, he said that's because they're healing. Hopefully, the healing will be done soon. Daddy won’t get the sad eyes anymore once his hand is all better.
Uncle Christian sighs. "Fine, after that then. Dude, you can't put it off any longer. You asked me to come over for moral support while you talked to him about this and so I came. I'm happy to help. I want to help. But they're gonna be here tomorrow. It's time to tell him. You need to give him a chance to wrap his head around it. You can't just spring it on him at the last minute." With a jab of one finger on the remote, the singing one-legged gingerbread man disappears, and the nature channel resumes.
They’d been watching a program about polar bears before Uncle Christian arrived with a Shrek DVD. The polar bear documentary seems to have ended though, because now a black snake is slithering across a marshy landscape on the tv screen. Jensen recognizes the program. It’s one they’ve seen before about venomous snakes. He’d found it fascinating the first time he’d seen it, but it doesn’t hold his attention this time. The conversation between his daddy and uncle is much more interesting.
Daddy squeezes Jensen's shoulder as he maneuvers out from behind him and up off the couch. "It's not that easy and you know it." After a quick trip to the kitchen, he returns with the bottle of clear gel, sits on the coffee table, and takes Jensen's bandaged hand gently in both of his own larger ones.
Jensen looks from his uncle's very serious face to his daddy's sad, frowny face.
What just happened? The movie was funny and they had all been laughing only moments ago. Now, no one is laughing. Something is wrong. Something must have happened while he was watching the movie. Something bad happened, but he missed it, whatever it was. And no one is talking to him. Jensen pulls his lower lip into his mouth, worrying it with his teeth.
"Pretty sure I never said anything about easy," his uncle says, sitting forward and resting his elbows on his knees. "It's not gonna get any easier the longer you wait though."
"I'm having second thoughts." Daddy mumbles while he unwraps the bandages. His forehead puckers once the blisters are fully uncovered. He tilts Jensen's hand and, leaning closer, studies the red skin intently.
"Having second thoughts about what? You're not having second thoughts about telling him beforehand? 'Cause that's a bad idea, Padalecki. A really bad idea."
"No, not about-". Daddy blows a short, sharp breath out through his mouth. "About letting them question him, okay?" He doesn't do well when we mention...certain people. You know as well as I do what happens when-".
There's a long silence while daddy seems to concentrate very hard on squeezing the bottle over Jensen's hand. A glob of gel, cool and slimy feeling against his hot palm, lands on the worst of his blisters. It startles him a little, but he fights to stay still, not to jerk his hand away. He's intent on listening to the conversation going on around him and trying to make sense of it. What people? What happens? Several key pieces are missing. Maybe he isn't meant to get it. Or maybe it's one of those things that other people seem to understand, but he just...doesn't. Jensen sniffles and buries his face in Mr. Bun's soft, white fur.
"Aww shit, kiddo."
The reclining chair squeaks and Jensen peeks between Mr. Bun's droopy ears to see his uncle stand up, lips pressed together. He quickly takes the three steps over to the couch and drops to his knees beside Jensen. "We didn't mean to ignore you. It must be frustrating - people talking about things that obviously concern you, without including you, huh?"
Jensen's breath hitches unexpectedly and he looks away.
"Yeah, that's what I thought." Uncle Christian runs a hand up and down his back.
"I'm sorry, baby.” Daddy says as he finishes wrapping fresh bandages around his hand. Without letting go, he continues, "I'm trying to protect you, but...I don't know. Maybe I'm not giving you enough credit." He puts two fingers under Jensen's chin and tilts his head up until their eyes meet. "So I'm just going to be straight with you, tell you everything and then let you make up your own mind. The decision should be yours anyway, not mine."
A warmth spreads through him. Looking into his daddy's earnest eyes gives him courage, stirs something deep inside him. Something that feels big and very important.
"Okay, here goes." Daddy shifts closer until their thighs are touching, and when he speaks next, his voice is low and soft and almost too calm, without any of its usual enthusiasm. "Some people are coming here tomorrow morning to see you. These people...they need your help. They want to ask you about you parents. They want to know what happened to you before you got here, before the hospital."
They want to know about the bad place. Jensen’s head begins shaking no before Daddy has finished speaking. No, no, no, no, no. He doesn’t want to think about that place, doesn’t want to remember.
Uncle Christian shifts backwards, from his knees to his heels. “You have to tell him why it’s important. You have to give him a reason.”
With a nod, Daddy starts again. “Your parents are going to trial for what they did to you. Do you know what that means? They’re saying that they didn’t do anything wrong, but what they did to you was very, very wrong. Very bad. It’s important that other people know all the bad things they did so they can’t do anything like that to anyone else. Do you understand, baby? Can you be brave and let them talk to you about what your parents did?”
The room goes still then, utterly silent. Daddy and Uncle Christian are watching him, motionless, like they’re afraid to breathe. Waiting.
He understands. He does. Parts at least. He knows who his parents are, remembers what they look like, and how they sound when they yell at him, and their favorite ways to hurt him. And he knows what being Brave means, it means doing something even though you’re scared. There have been lots of times he’s been Brave - he thinks that’s probably because he used to be scared all the time, scared but too hungry not to do something about it. Good things don’t always come from being Brave. His scar prickles at the memory of gnawing hunger, a kitchen he had thought was empty, and a long, sharp blade.
Cold, it’s cold. He can feel the nothing getting closer, the darkness that sometimes comes for him, looming nearby. It wants him - the darkness. It always has.
‘I’m not there, I’m here,’ he repeats the familiar mantra in his head over and over until the nothing recedes. It doesn’t disappear, but it backs off to where he doesn’t risk falling into it.
How long has he been sitting here? Still and quiet and hollow, hollow, hollow...
“Get his blanket, would you Chris?”
Only then, as the words reach him and a large, warm hand briskly chafes one arm, does he realize his teeth are clacking together, making a sound like a handful of stones tossed down a rocky hill. The blue and yellow fleece settles around his shoulders, as does his uncle’s arm.
“Hey, you with us, kiddo?”
The room comes back into focus and with it, his daddy’s face. Daddy’s kind, concerned face. It was Brave to trust daddy Jared when he was in the hospital and everything was strange and confusing because he’d never been outside or anywhere other than the bad place. The only people he’d known back then were the mean man and the mean lady - his parents - and the ones who had finally gotten him away from there - Uncle Christian and Misha. When Jared walked into his hospital room back then, Jensen was scared, but he didn’t hide. He was Brave and Jared stayed and that was a good thing, the best thing. So sometimes, being Brave makes the best things happen. Sometimes, maybe it’s worth taking the risk.
“You see? This is why. All it takes is just mentioning them and...” Daddy’s strong arms enfold him, chasing away some of the tremors that threaten to shake him apart. “I can’t watch this happen.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I don’t want to see him go through this any more than you do. Call them, Padalecki. Tell them it’s a no go for tomorrow. They’ll just have to make their case without him.” Despite the angry crease on his uncle’s forehead, the thumb he swipes over Jensen’s cheek is feather light. It comes away wet, but the stray tear goes unnoticed.
There’s a choice to be made here. Jensen hasn’t been given many choices in his life. He’s never had much control over the things that have happened to him. This choice is his to make though and it feels like an important step, one he has to take if he ever wants to be able to move forward in this new now. If he ever wants to leave then behind him, he has do this.
He has to be Brave.
Now there’s just the matter of convincing his Daddy and his Uncle that he can do it. He’s not sure himself whether he can, but he wants to try.
The velvety fur on Mr. Bun’s ears glides across his fingers as he gives them an agitated tug. Feeling remorseful, he gentles his touch. Mr. Bun doesn’t deserve rough treatment. He hasn’t done anything wrong. Jensen looks into the bunny’s soul-deep eyes, gathering strength from his friend, then he looks up at his daddy. Determination flares to life inside him. Where it comes from he doesn’t know, but he uses it to still the trembling. He juts out his chin and gives the barest of nods, holding his daddy’s gaze firmly.
Daddy stares back for a long moment before he says, “Are you sure, sweetheart?”
He isn’t sure. Not at all. Doesn’t know what will happen if he actively remembers the things he’s been trying so hard to forget. He is sure, however, that he wants to try.
Closing his eyes, he leans forward, rests his forehead against his Daddy’s, and nods slowly. It’s something Daddy does when he wants Jensen to real and for true hear what he has to say. He pulls back and opens his eyes in time to see Daddy’s return nod.
“Okay then.” Daddy says, voice solemn.
If he’s going to do this, there’s one other thing Jensen needs. He’s locked as many of the things that happened to him then away behind doors and walls made of concrete inside his mind. Sometimes the concrete crumbles, and the memories cascade over him like an avalanche, crushing him, pulverizing him into pieces too tiny to see. If he’s going to do this, he’ll need Daddy there to put him back together again. That’s the only chance he has of coming back from this.
With his good hand, Jensen grabs a fistful of his daddy’s shirt, clutching it tightly.
Like he so often does, Daddy understands him perfectly, without him having to say a single word. “Of course. Of course I’ll be there with you. I won’t leave you alone for one second. Chris will be there too, won’t you?” Daddy looks up at his friend.
Uncle Christian, eyes somehow stormy while also red as though he’s been rubbing at them, clears his throat. “Of course I will, kiddo.”
“Misha will come, too, if you want him there. And Doctor Jim. Heck, I’ll bet even Chad would come if you thought it would help. We could have an entire houseful of friends here. Whatever you want, baby. Just let us know what you need and we’ll do it.”
Jensen considers each of the people mentioned. Too many people won’t make him feel safer, they’ll just make him more anxious. The fewer people, the better, really. So, which ones? When it comes right down to it, it’s not difficult for him to decide.
To best make his point, he needs something from the kitchen. Carefully extricating himself from his daddy’s loose embrace, he makes his way off the couch and crawls toward his goal. Crawling with his bandaged hand isn’t easy. Daddy has been carrying him a lot more lately to keep him from damaging it further. This time though, he let’s Jensen go on his errand without assistance, and Jensen is grateful for the opportunity to make this point in his own way.
He shuffles along on his knees and one good arm, bandaged hand tucked up against his chest. It’s awkward going and, for the first time since he came to live here, he wishes he could walk. The time for walking is past, however, part of that horrible then he’s going to have to revisit tomorrow.
The picture he came for is on the refrigerator where Daddy had taped it last week after Jensen shyly presented him with the results of his coloring session with Doctor Jim. His family.
Daddy and Uncle Christian are watching him when he returns, twin expectant looks on their faces.
“Whatcha got there, kiddo?” his uncle asks.
Jensen points in turn to each of the three men in the picture with him - Daddy, Uncle Christian, and Misha. Those are the people he needs with him tomorrow. Those are the people he trusts to dig him out of the rubble his mind will surely be once it’s over. They saved him once, hopefully they’ll be able to do it again.
On to Chapter 7
Start at Chapter 1