Title: Hell Is Other People
Word Count: 4450
Summary: Jared is a hunter, but he is about to find out that evil isn’t just the preserve of demons.
Pairing: J2 eventually
Warnings: Excessive abuse of Jensen.
Disclaimer: As far as I know Jared isn’t engaged in hunting monsters and last time I checked Jensen wasn’t chained up naked in the basement of a church and wasn’t in a relationship with Jared, so please don’t sue.
Notes: Here I offer thanks and unending praise to garvaldmains, who has helped, improved and encouraged me with endless patience when I gibbered at her, and she also provided the awesome banner! *Big, Big Hugs*
Beta: by the awesome bigj52.
“Dad?” came the faint voice from behind Jared. He spun round to see Jensen standing on the stairs, leaning against the wall, shaking and staring down at his family.
“Hey! What are you doing up? You should be in bed. Come on. Let’s get you back there.” Jared spoke softly as he climbed towards Jensen. He watched Jensen struggle to remain standing. He cursed to himself; he should’ve known the raised voices would reach Jensen. He never expected Jensen to get up and follow the sounds.
Jensen tried to take a step down towards Jared. As he did so his shaking legs turned to jelly and he fell forward. Jared quickly moved forward, catching him. He leant against the other man.
Jensen spoke softly, “Jay, I don’t want to go back to bed. I need to know what’s going on. What did the sheriff mean, ‘Dad spoke to the F.B.I.’? I need to know if all this is my fault.”
“Oh sweetheart, no! Please don’t say that.” Donna’s voice called out and she desperately wanted to go to her son but she could see there was no room for her on the stairs, “Jensen, if you really want to come down, let Jared help you. Mackenzie, go find a blanket to keep your brother warm.”
Jared looked back over his shoulder, “Thank you, Mrs Ackles. Now let’s get you downstairs.” Jared turned back to Jensen as he spoke. “Put your arms round my neck and I’ll lift you.” Jensen reached up and wrapped his arms around Jared as he’d asked. Then it was a simple matter for Jared to slip his arm under Jensen’s legs.
It was the work of seconds to carry Jensen downstairs; Chris stepped forward to help Jared move Jensen to the couch. Between them, the two men carried him to where Mackenzie stood waiting with a quilt.
“Hey Mac, spread that out on the couch and we’ll wrap Jensen up in it. Thanks darlin’.” Chris spoke absently as he concentrated on getting Jensen comfortable; he missed the amused looks that passed between Jim and Jared when Mackenzie did as she was told.
Jared put Jensen onto the couch and Chris wrapped the trembling man in the quilt. As Chris knelt in front of Jensen the time bomb that was Mackenzie finally exploded.
“Dad, you heard Jensen! Well, answer him! What did that asshole mean, ‘you talked to the F.B. I.’?”
“Mackenzie Ackles, watch your language!” Donna admonished her daughter.
“Sorry, Mom! What did Sheriff Asshole mean? Come on, Dad. I can’t wait to hear your answer. After all, it just meant that Morgan had more time to torture your son, or doesn’t that matter because he’s gay?” Mac’s voice had gotten louder and angrier; tears were forming in her eyes.
“Tell me he was lying, Dad! Tell me he was wrong. For the love of God, just fucking answer me!” Mac screamed at her shaken father.
Alan stood motionless, he looked round the room. The Reverend Colt stood impassively in the doorway; the man had changed from the earnest Man of God. He was cold and appraising Alan and he felt that he’d fallen short of his exacting standards.
Then he looked at the two men kneeling by Jensen - Jared was a picture of concern, all of it aimed right at Jensen. The other man...what was his name again? Chris or something? He burned with righteous fury, a strong sense of protectiveness radiated from him towards the man seated on the couch.
Alan’s eyes skipped to his wife; she was struggling to come to terms with what was happening. He looked at his youngest child - Mackenzie was angrier than he’d ever seen her. He watched as she dashed the tears from her eyes.
The only person Alan couldn’t look at was at his son, “Mackenzie, don‘t you dare speak to me like that! I only did what I thought was right.”
“Right? You lied to the Feds! How the hell was that right, Dad? And you never did explain why Jensen went with you that day to Morgan. You know...when he never came home. Just tell me why for pity’s sake.”
“Mackenzie, you have to understand the preacher was going to help Jensen, he said that he could. You have to believe me when I say I had no idea that any of this was happening.” Alan was pleading with Mackenzie.
“Alan, what did you think was happening? After Jensen told us he was gay, you went out. Did you go to the preacher? What did he say to you? I know I will never forgive myself for believing that man. How on earth could you even think Jensen was anything but good?” Donna’s voice shook as she spoke, her eyes filled with sorrow and remorse.
“Donna, please listen to me. Preacher Morgan was a Man of God, and he said he was helping Jensen. Surely you can understand why I did it? I was only thinking of Jensen’s best interests.”
It was that comment that caused Chris to snap “No, you weren’t thinking of your son’s best interests. Ever since he’s been sitting here you’ve not looked at him once. At first I thought it was guilt. I mean, Hell, with what you’ve done I’d never be able to look Jensen in the eye again. But now I ain’t so sure. What did Morgan offer you?”
“You don’t understand! How can you choose to live like that? It’s not natural; I’ve heard about those camps that cure gays. The preacher said he would use the same methods to help Jensen. So when the sheriff told Preacher Morgan the F.B.I. had been contacted about Jensen being kidnapped, he asked me to say Jensen had left with a boyfriend to give him time to cure him.” The moment Alan let those words slip there was uproar in the house. Mackenzie flew at her father; she was only stopped from doing serious damage by a quiet voice.
“Mac, no. This is not the way.” Jensen’s weak voice halted all the fury in the room. Everyone turned to look at him; Jensen’s pale face seemed to have aged ten years. Dull, green eyes lifted to look over at Jim, “Jim, I have to know something and I want the truth. Did Morgan specifically target me because I’m gay?”
Donna’s eyes widened in shock “What on earth do you mean ‘target you’? Has Morgan done this before? Will someone please tell me what’s going on here?” She looked round at the men who had saved her son, what she saw there just increased her agitation. The three men were grim faced and seemed to have formed a protective shield round Jensen.
Jim stepped forward so that he could speak to Jensen without him having to twist round. “First things first, Mrs Ackles. What you need to know is I have been tracking your preacher for a number of years. The man’s a serial predator and I promise I will tell you everything, but right now my main concern is Jensen.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Preacher Morgan was a Man of God! How dare you speak about him like that!” Alan blustered at Jim.
“Dad, he got you to tell the authorities that Jensen had run off after I reported he’d been kidnapped. Did it never occur to you to demand to see Jensen in the month Morgan was ‘reprogramming him’ or somewhere in the back of your mind did you know what you were doing was wrong?” Mackenzie’s voice was low, laced with bitter recrimination. Alan looked away, unable to face the truth of what she’d said to him.
“Mac, come on. I need to know why Morgan picked me. After all, originally he wanted you to be his companion. What changed his mind? Was it that he knew if Mackenzie disappeared there would be a major search, but me - the local faggot...well, nobody would lose too much sleep over my vanishing off the face of the earth.” Jensen’s voice had gained a little strength, he needed to understand why he the easy victim or was there more to Morgan’s obsession?
“Oh my God! What do you mean he wanted Mackenzie? If’ he’d touched her I’d have killed him.” Alan roared those words. Jensen shook his head sadly, that was all the answer he needed.
Jim sat down in the chair by Jensen and started to speak, “Now before you think that you were just a victim of opportunity, let me remind you about Morgan. Like I said, he looks for a specific type. I didn’t mean physically, there is something about the person.
None of the victims I found out about shared physical characteristics. Morgan had no physical type. Usually his type of predator have very specific tastes, but he went from blue eyes to brown, blonde to brunette and from man to woman. I admit they were all attractive. Hell, it’s hard to keep having sex with someone if they don’t turn you on, but it’s who you are. Rachel was intelligent, self willed, great sense of humour and she cared about people. In fact, you could say she had a great deal of empathy. I always thought she’d make a great nurse.”
Jensen blushed as he realized what Jim was saying; before he could speak Jim raised his hand to continue. “Don’t forget while he was grooming Mackenzie to be his next companion, she spent a lot of time talking about you. Mac, can you tell me how interested Morgan was in Jensen?”
Mackenzie stood reviewing her conversations with Morgan in her mind, “Well, originally he wanted to know all about the family...Josh, me and Jensen.”
“When did he get really interested in Jensen? Was it after he found out he was gay or before? Look, it will help me understand the bastard. Just think.” Jim urged the young woman to think very carefully about what she’d said.
“I remember I was telling him about how Jensen helped Father Manners with the homeless shelter he ran, and how it led to him becoming a nurse because he wanted to help people. After that, all Morgan ever wanted to do was talk about Jensen. It was during one of these conversations I told him Jensen was gay. Jim, are you alright?”
Jim had gone white, “How could I be so damn stupid! It’s been staring me in the damn face all these years. Jensen, the men he took I met their girlfriends; they weren’t gay or bi-sexual. Amongst the other victims were a counsellor, teacher, and a charity volunteer. The one thing you all had in common was empathy, you wanted to help people, and you were able to understand them. All the families said the same thing...each victim was full of compassion. It was something Morgan could never understand as a sociopath; he could mimic empathy to others but he couldn’t feel it.”
Jensen slumped in his seat and gave a weak laugh, “So, all the time Eddie was telling me I deserved what was happening because I was gay, it was because I’m good with people?”
“There’s much more to it than that. You’re a strong man, Jensen. You fought Morgan every step of the way, and he liked that. The harder it was to break you the more attractive you were, plus he used the added incentive of protecting Mac from the same fate. “
“Oh Jensen, you were trying to protect me from him. You should’ve said something.” Mac’s voice was pained.
“Who would’ve listened Mac? I was possessed, remember? Morgan would say it was the demon talking, and what could you do? I wanted you to run but there was no way you would’ve have done that.” Mac moved closer to her brother and took his hand, shaking her head, tears forming in her eyes. Jensen held out his arms to her and she sat down by him. He sat holding her as she cried, once again his eyes found Jim.
“How would he have taken Mac? He told me he was forming a relationship with her, but my appearance changed things. He said that my being here only for Christmas messed up his timetable. But Mac’s only ever here during College breaks.”
“Thinking about it, Jensen, Morgan told you how he would have taken his time getting to know her, gain her trust and then...hey Mac, don’t kill me but did you think he was good looking?” Jim watched them as brother and sister gave each other strength. Jensen looked at her and that silent communication Jared had mentioned was going on. Finally Mac nodded, she blushed and sat up straighter.
“To be honest I thought he was very hot for an older guy, and he was charming, attentive and everything boys my age weren’t. If he hadn’t suddenly become Jensen’s number one fan, there was a time I thought he was going to ask me out.” Mac looked sheepishly at Jensen “Sorry, big brother.”
“Mackenzie, why didn’t you tell us that the preacher was bothering you? How dare he abuse our trust like that?” Alan’s indignant outburst died as several sets of hostile eyes turned on him.
“That’s right, Dad. It’s ok to molest your son against his will, but God forbid he asks your little girl out on a date.” Mackenzie swiftly dismissed her father in favour of listening to Jim.
“Knowing what I know about Morgan, he was playing the long game. He’d settled here, plus he had a base to work from. There was no need to rush. He could romance you, seduce you, and I bet, finally convince you to run away with him. After all, it would’ve been conducted in secret; he was the preacher and older than you, but he couldn’t help how he felt about you. Once you’d snuck away from college to meet your Romeo, I think you would have vanished and no one would’ve been any the wiser.”
“Mac, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Chris commented on how pale Mackenzie had suddenly gone.
“Oh dear God! He was already doing that! He kept telling me not to tell mom and dad about our little chats. He was already getting me trained to keep secrets.” She looked sick at the thought.
“Mac, I hate to say this, but you had a very lucky escape. I’m can’t tell Jensen how sorry I am about what happened. But I will say this - thank God he did change his mind, because he made himself visible on the radar and we got here in time to stop him from hurting Jensen too badly.” Jim gave the two young people a reassuring smile.
“That does it! I won’t stand for this any longer. Jensen was being helped by Morgan, and I admit his methods were a bit strong, but our son was possessed by a demon. You yourselves came here and performed the exorcism. I want you out of my house and away from my family; we’ll take care of Jensen now.” Alan Ackles had drawn himself up to his full height and was now taking charge of the situation. Once again chaos reigned in the Ackles’ household. Mackenzie leapt off the couch to confront her father, and Donna was pleading with her husband to change his mind. No one saw Chris slip away from Jensen, and upstairs to where his Laptop was.
He walked back into the room, through the arguing family and placed it on the table. Jared looked at Chris, “No. You can’t, man. Please think of Jensen.”
Chris gave a grim smile, “I’m thinking of Jensen. So Mr Ackles, you think Morgan was a Man of God? Well, I’d like you to see Jensen’s new home. You see, he was going to escape, and while you were searching for him, Jensen was going to be moved from the church basement to here. I hope you enjoy the tour, it’s very informative.” Chris started the video going and stepped back to where Jensen sat.
As Mr and Mrs Ackles stood watching, Chris motioned Mac to come to him. At first she refused but she weakened when she saw the appeal in his eyes. “Believe me, Mac, you don’t need to see that, but your dad does, and just maybe he’ll start to understand just what Morgan was like.” Chris looked down to where Jensen sat, “Besides, I need to have a little chat with your brother while they’re busy.” The blue eyed hunter knelt in front of Jensen once more, placing a hand on his knee.
“You know, I’ve never told Jared how much I admire him. I mean it takes balls to be gay, don’t it? To start with, you have yahoos like me who think it’s funny to makes cracks about make-up and bending over. Then, of course you get the violent type of moron who beats the shit out of you first and calls you a fag later.
Then last but not least, there is the overwhelming chance that your family will reject you and cut you off. Hell, I mean what sane guy would actually choose to be gay? It’s such a bundle of fun, ain’t it? So I know it takes guts to be true to yourself. The man I met just over twenty four hours ago had fire and spirit, he was a fighter. You wanna tell me where he’s gone? Because damn, I miss him.”
“Kane, what the fuck are you doing now?” Jared sounded exasperated, Chris just ignored him.
As Chris spoke, Jensen focused on what he was saying. All the time while he’d been speaking to Jim, he been convinced he had brought all of this upon himself. That he deserved his treatment at the hands of Morgan, even his own father had backed the preacher. He was tired, he just wanted to curl up and give in. But in light of what was happening now he couldn’t. He had to start fighting again; he had to protect his family. Jensen took a deep breath, “Why Chris, I didn’t know you cared. It’s just so sudden and you’re down on one knee as well, my heart’s all a flutter.”
Chris grinned on hearing that and said softly, “Hey, there you are. I wondered if I’d see you again. You with us now? Because Jensen, we really need you to be here.”
Jared saw a slow smile spread over Jensen’s face. It was a faint shadow of the smile he’d seen before, but somehow Chris’ words had reignited Jensen’s desire to fight. He saw Jensen look over to where his parents stood. Donna was crying softly, and Alan was starting to look more than a little sick.
“Dad, do you still think that Morgan was the best man to convince me that being straight is wonderful? I have to say his taste in interior design leaves a lot to be desired.” Jensen’s quiet words cut into Alan.
“In answer to Mac’s question, why did I go with you to Morgan? Remember our conversation? I told you I was gay, and that I couldn’t live a lie anymore. Then you suggested I meet the preacher and we could discuss the implications of my lifestyle choices. So I went with you, to try and convince you that I was the same person who you had raised and loved when you thought I was normal. That nothing had changed. When I got to Morgan’s it was all very civilized. A proper debate in fact, then Morgan asked you to step outside while we spoke alone.
The moment we were alone I knew I was in trouble; there was something in his eyes that unnerved me. Before I could excuse myself Morgan went crazy he smashed the room up, hit his head on the wall until it bled. Then Eddie appeared and before I knew it I was on the floor with Eddie’s foot across my throat and Morgan was screaming ‘demon’. Tell me, Dad? Was it a relief to you when you heard ‘demon’? Did it mean you were off the hook for having a fag for a son?”
Alan shook his head furiously, “No son, it wasn’t like that. Morgan told me that you were a good boy, just led astray while you were in L.A. and that the demon took you, and he said he could give you back to us.”
“Dad, I never left you. I’m still the same person; I just decided to stop lying and tell you who I am. I’ve lost men I love because I wanted to protect you. When I lost Tommy I knew it was time to stop running.” Jensen went quiet, staring into the distance thoughtfully.
“The worst part of all this is, I can’t stay here. Morgan has made it impossible for me to be here, he’s played to everyone’s worst prejudices. Now with him being dead it’s open season on me, isn’t it?” Jensen looked at Chris. He nodded and Jensen gave a sad smile.
“I really wanted to be able to stay here and catch my breath, but if I do I’ll put my family at risk and I won’t do that. I hate to do this, guys, but can somebody give me a lift to L.A.?”
“No Jensen, I won’t allow you to do that. You need rest. Please let me look after you.” Donna was pleading with her son.
“Mom, do you think I really want to run? I’d like nothing more than to stay and fight, but I have to think about you, dad and Mac. Jim, if I’m gone do you think they’ll leave my family alone?”
Jim considered what Jensen said, “I think they would, especially if it was done right. Mind you, I’d think about convincing Mac to go back to college. After all, she was one of the only dissenting voices so it would be better if she left too.”
“Oh, you’ve got no fear of me wanting to stay; as soon as you get Jensen out of here I’m gone.” Mac stood with her arms folded, glaring at her father.
“Mac, I don’t want you to fight with Dad. Him and mom only did what they thought was right. Morgan had the whole town in the palm of his hand.” Jensen tired voice pleaded with his sister.
“Mom, did you really think I was possessed? I think it would be easier if you did. I don’t think I could stand it if it was because I was gay.” Donna sat by Jensen, her eyes filled with tears.
“Sweetheart, I always suspected you were gay. I was just waiting for you to tell us. It was such a relief when you did, but then you went with your father to see Morgan. When he came back and said you’d attacked the preacher, and that a demon was responsible...at first I didn’t believe it. Then we were all treated to the preacher's little proof sessions.”
“What proof sessions?” Jared asked, looking from mother to son; Jensen smiled a little more, “Well, you guys weren’t the only ones with fishing wire and exploding candles, if you know what I mean. Morgan wasn’t as good as you guys, but by the time he finished after one prayer meeting I was lucky to get back to the basement in one piece.”
“You know if he wasn’t already dead, I’d kill him. Hey Jim, is there any chance you can bring him back so I can shoot him a couple of times?” Chris asked.
“Kane, I’d love to and you’d have to get behind me and Jared, but we have more pressing problems. Such as getting Jensen the hell out of here and keeping the Ackles’ safe.” The three men looked at one another.
“Well, I don’t think anyone will be storming the house in the next couple of hours, but the longer Jensen is here there’s more chance of them doing something after dark.” Chris added his thoughts.
“There is no way that will happen. I’ll just call the sheriff, he will come and help us.” Alan sounded sure of himself.
Donna rolled her eyes, “Alan, if you can’t come up with anything constructive then shut up. Don’t think you have gotten away with your part in this. When there is time you and I will have a long talk about this. That’s after we’ve sold the house and moved out of this God-forsaken town.”
Jensen and Mac looked at one another and winced. Jared caught Jensen’s eye, and he shook his head and mouthed ‘ouch’ at Jared. Jared couldn’t help the grin that spread over his face at hearing those words from Donna.
“But my business is here, and all our friends. We can’t just up and leave.” Alan was pleading with his wife now.
“Would they be the friends who stood in the church, enjoying the show every Sunday and the ones who looked at Jensen as if he’d crawled out from under a rock after the exorcism? I’m not blind. I saw the way some of my so-called friends looked at Jensen afterwards. Alan, what more proof do you need? Do you think that video was faked? You heard what the doctor said to the sheriff. Alan, whatever Morgan was, a Man of God wasn’t one of them. If there was evil here, it was Morgan not our son, but now Jensen is paying the price for what that man did, and I for one will do whatever it takes to make sure Jensen gets away from here safely.”
Alan lowered his eyes; Jared whistled “Now I know where you get your fight from, Jensen. Remind me never to get on the wrong side of you.” Jensen blushed at Jared’s comment, a tiny hope flickered in his heart that Jared may just stay long enough to find out for himself.
“Well then, it seems we’re all in agreement that we need to get Jensen and Mac out of here. Any suggestions on the best way to do that?” Jim asked the room.
“Why don’t we give them what they want?” asked Jensen.
Jared had an uneasy feeling when he heard that, “And just what exactly would that be then?” His voice carried a hard edge, getting ready for the response he didn’t want to hear.
Jensen fixed Jared with green eyes, the defiance Jared had first seen in the church was starting to spark back into life, Jensen answered with a shrug of his shoulders and a faint smirk.... “Me.”