Title: Hell Is Other People
Word Count: 10,130
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: Non-Con and 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 . This is an extra long chapter due to the delay between postings,, and also I'd like to thank those of you who been patient and stuck with this throughout.
Jensen edged slowly towards being awake; he really didn’t want to leave the warm cocoon of sleep that surrounded him. His opened his eyes gradually and took in his surroundings. They were still in the motel room from yesterday, and not his familiar surroundings of the church basement. It was then he felt a warm body behind him. He stiffened in fear, his pulse racing at the thought of someone being in bed with him.
The nightmare from last night came flooding back; once again he was in Morgan’s clutches. Then a soft voice had called him to safety. It had promised to look after him, and now he lay safe in Jared’s arms. Jared was pressed close to his back, his warm breath tickling the back of his neck; Jensen bit his lip to stop himself moaning at the sensation. He realized that Jared’s hand was resting loosely against his chest over his heart, protecting him from his demons.
Jensen considered waking the other man, but he wanted nothing more than to be able to lie in Jared’s arms. He knew once the hunter woke up, Jared would shut down and push him away again. For now Jensen was happy to take whatever part of Jared he could; he eased himself closer to the muscular body behind him. He froze when Jared shifted in his sleep then he relaxed when Jared pulled him even closer. Jensen let the warmth from Jared’s body and the comfort of being held lull him back to sleep.
The second time he woke up, Jensen was not surprised to find an empty space where Jared had been. He found himself alone in the motel room. He turned over and on the pillow was a note. There was one word written on it, and Jensen grinned when he saw it. It simply said ‘Stay’. He got himself out of bed to go to the bathroom; he was pleasantly surprised that his feet were a little better today. As he limped to the bathroom, he thought they had gone from excruciating to mere agony; still, it was a step in the right direction. He thought about using the shower again, but then he decided to wait for Jared, just in case there was a repeat of yesterday.
Jensen was just limping back to bed when the door opened. Jared walked in with a bag filled with food. He looked over at Jensen, his lips pursed and he puffed out his chest, ready to give Jensen a lecture about being out of bed. Jensen just grinned at him and got back into bed. He pulled the pillow up so he was propped up, and fluttered his eyelashes at Jared. “Ahh, don’t be mad. I really needed to go, and although I know you love me, somehow I don’t think you would’ve wanted to clean that up. Trust me. I’m a nurse....well, doctor. I know what I’m on about, ooohhh food. God, I’m starving. What have we got?”
Jared laughed, shook his head and placed the food on the table, as he emptied the contents of the bag, “Aright, I promise not to shout at you, schnooknums! I’ll hold your hand and mop your fevered brow, but I draw the line at...”Jared waved his hand frantically in the direction of the bed. “As for food... I got us some pancakes from Mabel, and as you’ve been a good boy you can have some coffee.”
Jared picked up a plate loaded with pancakes and maple syrup along with the cup of coffee, and took it to Jensen. The first thing Jensen did was take a gulp of the precious black liquid, pulled a face and looked up at Jared with a hurt, betrayed expression. “Goddamn, it’s decaf! I thought you said coffee?”
Jared just grinned at the way Jensen was pouting, “Shut up and eat your pancakes! Did you sleep alright?” Jared sounded casual, but his eyes were focused on Jensen’s still pale features. Jensen shrugged and concentrated on eating.
Finally he was finished and looked over at Jared, “Well, I slept better after my nightmare. Thanks for doing that, Jay. You didn’t have to, but at least I got some sleep.” Jared just nodded as he picked up the plates. He’d never tell Jensen that his nightmare had pulled Jared from his own. That lying next to Jensen had lead to his own night of dreamless sleep.
“Come on then, Jay, what are we doing today? Saving the world from a rampaging horde of flesh eating zombies? Or planning to rid the world of Edward Cullen wannabes? I’m bored. What can we do?” Jared turned back, and couldn’t help the smile that spread over his face. Jensen was sitting with the bedclothes gripped in his hands, pulled up to his chin.
“We are going to take it easy and just chill. No hunts or research, and I hate to disappoint you but vampires don’t sparkle. They’ll try to rip your throat out rather than spend their time wooing you, while looking angst ridden.”
Jensen threw himself back on the bed, put his arm across his eyes and sobbed, “Damn! I’ve always dreamt of being seduced by someone tall, dark, handsome and sparkly. Ah well, I don’t suppose you know any hot single hunters, looking for a significant other, do you? Or failing that, is Kane available?” Jensen lifted his arm and grinned at Jared.
Jared sat on the bed by Jensen and folded his arms; he looked deep in thought and answered, “Hmmm single hunters, I don’t know. But I can always ask Jim if he’s looking for love. That all right with you? You know...the rugged older man.”
Jensen thought it over for a few seconds, “Only if he promises to take his cap off in bed.” Jared roared with laughter at that.
“Oh god, I’m sorry, Jensen, that’s the deal breaker. The last time he had a head injury the doc nearly sewed it to his head. No seriously, what would like to do today? Nothing strenuous, mind you.” Jared nearly bit his tongue as he said that. He looked down and Jensen was smirking at him.
Jensen stretched languidly. Jared felt his eyes straying down his body when the bedclothes slipped lower, as he caught a glimpse of bruised flesh. Jared felt guilty again as Jensen spoke, “Nothing strenuous...ok, how about you spend the day giving me massages to ease my poor aching muscles? I’ve got this pain right about here.” As he said that Jensen rolled onto his side, and rubbed the base of his spine just above that damn perfect ass of his.
Jared was desperately trying to tear his eyes away when he heard Jensen laugh. “God, I’m sorry, Jay, I couldn’t help myself. I’d love to know how you find hunts, or how to research. Don’t worry. I’m not about to break into the business, but I’d like to know how you spot patterns, and besides, day-time TV is crap. It’s all soaps.” Jensen shuddered at that.
Jared looked down at Jensen and that hopeful expression of his and he tried, he really did. But when Jensen looked all wide eyed at him...damn! He was just so screwed! Jared sighed and got off the bed; Jensen sat up and looked expectantly as Jared brought back his lap top.
Considering it was this, or spending the day rubbing his hands all over Jensen’s body, he thought this was the safer of the two options for his sanity. It might help him maintain some distance from the other man. When he’d woken up this morning to find Jensen asleep in his arms, it had taken all of his self control not to just lean forward and place a kiss on his neck. To kiss away the pain of what he’d been through, and trace the marks the collar had left. It would’ve been so easy to just keep Jensen in his arms and forget all about hunting. But he couldn’t; he’d made himself and Chad a promise to find and destroy the demon that had ruined his life when it had taken Chad from him. His chance for a normal life was now long gone, he just had to deal with life as it was.
Jared sat down again and booted up the lap top, “Ok then, how we find hunts. Sometimes we get a heads-up from other hunters. It’s either because they are caught up with a hunt of their own, and they find the hunter nearest to the problem or they pass hunts onto hunters who specialize in dealing with certain Supernatural creatures. For instance, Kane is a damn good werewolf tracker, and Jim leans more towards ghosts and poltergeists. But for the most part we hunt anything; we scan the net for strange deaths or unusual events. Not everything we find is a hunt, but we tend to follow up leads just in case. If it’s a bust we move on.”
Jensen was listening, enthralled; he was fascinated by the change in Jared. Like yesterday he’d become animated again, along with the memory of Chad this was what brought Jared to life. He listened as Jared continued his explanation about hunting and researching the hunt. He kept what he hoped was an interested expression on his face, after all this was just hunting 101 as far as Jensen was concerned.
He’d heard all of this before from many different hunters, and he knew exactly how to research hunts. He’d even researched a few hunts when he’d sat alone in his L.A. apartment. It was something that fascinated him; it drew him like nothing else. Not even medicine came close. He continued to watch Jared as he delivered his lecture. Jared had been forced into this life like most of the men Jensen had met, but he was at peace with his path. Despite his drive for revenge against whatever led him to this life, Jared cared about the victims. Jensen had met hunters who didn’t care about victims. The way Jared had treated him showed he cared, much more than he’d admit to.
Just as Jared moved his arm pointing to something on the screen, Jensen saw a flash of bandage. Damn! He’d meant to ask Jared about that, but Jared had been so busy looking after him, Jensen hadn’t got round to it. He sat up straighter, no time like the present, “Jay, can I ask about the bandage? And I noticed a few bruises. Souvenirs from your last hunt? Do you need it looked at? You know you can trust me, I’m a doctor.”
Jared stopped speaking and looked at Jensen; his hand was outstretched towards the injured arm. Jared gave a self-conscious smile, “It’s ok. I’ve dealt with it, nothing for you to worry about. Right, I was just telling you about the different exorcism rites.” Jensen narrowed his eyes, and moved closer.
Jared felt the heat from Jensen’s body, and completely lost all concentration; he risked looking over at Jensen who sat there with a determined look on his face. He sighed and put the lap top on the bed. He turned to face Jensen, rolled up his sleeve and let him take a look, “It’s from my last hunt, werewolf attacked me....”
“Shit, Jared, did it bite you? How long ago was the attack?” Jensen voice held an edge of tension to it. Jared lifted his eyes to his meet Jensen’s. He knew that tone of voice; he’d heard it from Kane when he’d mentioned what happened.
Jared stared at Jensen, puzzled by his reaction. Jensen blushed, “Well, come on, everyone’s seen at least one werewolf movie. You only turn if you’re bitten or some such crap. Can I take the bandage off?” Jensen was trying to change the subject; he didn’t want Jared asking too many questions about how much he knew about werewolves.
Jared gave another put upon sigh, got off the bed and fetched the first-aid kit. When he sat down Jensen began to work. The bandage was quickly cut away, and Jensen closely examined the three scratches. “Nice stitches, who did ‘em?” By now Jensen was applying some more antiseptic cream and he set about redressing the wounds.
Jared looked at a point over Jensen’s shoulder before answering softly, “I did, are they are ok?” He didn’t want to have to face the look of pity he knew would be in Jensen’s eyes.
Jensen just whistled, “I gotta say, Rambo, you did a great job - better than some doctors. And Jay, if you’re trying to impress me, you had me when you walked into that basement...now you’re just trying too hard.” Jared looked at the other man as he finished his work and Jensen lifted his eyes to meet his. Jensen winked at him. He patted Jared’s arm and set about replacing the supplies in the first-aid kit. He settled back against his pillow, looking warily at Jared. He had a question he had to ask. “Jared, there is something I’d like to know. You don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to. But what is it that drives you on like this? No rest, no time to recover from injuries. What are you running from?”
Jared played with the edge of the fresh bandage. Could he even bring himself to answer the question? He managed to raise his eyes back to meet Jensen’s, and he saw a look of support within them and he started to speak. “I told you that I’d lost Chad, I never told you how. First of all I have to tell you that Chad and I house shared with our best friend, Sophia. Then Chad was possessed by that black eyed son of a bitch. I don’t know how long that bastard rode round in Chad’s skin, but I know the devastation it caused. One day while I was at work, it attacked Sophia. It beat her, raped her and damn near fucking killed her. Then as she lay bleeding it called me and convinced me to come home early from a meeting.
When I got home the house was in darkness. I thought it was part of a Chad attempt at romance, so I didn’t put any lights on. I went through a couple of rooms and then I found Sophia. She was on the floor, and she was covered in so much blood I didn’t even know if she was alive. Then Chad appeared. At first I thought we’d been the victims of a home invasion because of the blood he was covered in. Then I saw the knife for the first time. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air, and I hit the wall, then the bastard dragged me until I was lying by Sophia. I sort of remember turning my head to see if she was breathing. The demon told he’d left enough life in her to go for another ride later.
It started to cut my clothes off, I remembered trying to struggle. But when I’d hit the wall my skull had been fractured, and then Chad grabbed my wrist and broke it.” Jared began to rub at his wrist absently, Jensen didn’t move, or barely drew breath.He had to be patient, this was Jared's most painful memory that he was sharing with him.
I was pleading with him to stop; he was ripping my pants off and I said “Chad, no, please, don’t do this.” When he lifted his head I thought I’d gone mad, his eyes were pure black. Chad had beautiful blue eyes, but all I saw was black. As out of it as I was I knew it wasn’t a trick of the light. Then I really started to fight back, and Chad just laughed and held me tighter, but during the struggle he’d let go of the knife.
I’ll never know how she did it but Sophia had come round while Chad was attacking me. When the knife hit the floor she grabbed it, and pulled herself upright. The first Chad knew of it was when she stabbed him right in the back. He arched away from me and threw her against the wall. Then he turned back and just grinned at me. He’d heard the sound of sirens approaching, the last thing that bastard said was ‘I better be going. As much fun you kids have been, I got other places to be, people to do. He threw his head back and black smoke billowed out of his mouth. Chad fell forward onto me, and when the police broke in he’d just died in my arms. I’ll never forget the look on his face; he must’ve been awake for some of it. Jensen, he looked like he was already in hell.” Jared stopped speaking, struggling to regain control, his eyes fixed on the wall behind Jensen. When he started to speak again, his voice had gone from the monotone he told the story in, to cold and devoid of the warmth Jensen had become accustomed to.
“Ever since then I’ve been hunting the bastard down, and one day I will catch up with it. I promise you, Jensen, if it’s the last thing I do I will either send it back to hell where it belongs or find a way to kill it. So that’s why I never slow down, I can’t afford to.”
“But it helps that while I’m looking for the bastard, I get to save innocents along the way. And I’m not running from anything; I’m running towards something. Does that answer your question, Jensen? See, I’m not the hero you think I am, sorry.” Jared managed to look at Jensen again, scared of the reaction he’d get.
Jensen had listened to Jared’s story. He’d known something supernatural had taken Chad; he knew the look he’d seen in Jared’s eyes. He’d seen it often enough in the other hunters he’d helped to care for with Father Kim - the loss, anger and hunger for revenge. He was worried for Jared; he’d seen men consumed by that desire for revenge. Jensen wondered if Jared had really considered the full implication of trying to track down one particular demon.
Jensen reached forward slowly and gently placed his hand on top of Jared’s “You’re still a hero, Jared. After all, you walked away from a ’normal’ life to do this. Don’t forget I’ve seen you in lawyer mode, and you were good. As a hunter you’ve helped a lot of people along the way dude, never forget that. I’m sure that Chad would be proud of you for that. Just promise me that you’ll slow down once in a while, and remember those you’ve saved, not just the ones you’ve lost.”
Jared had been expecting Jensen to turn away from him, or even dissuade him from his pursuit of revenge, not to offer understanding and support. Shit! Why did he have to meet Jensen now? God really had some sense of humour. He’d sent someone into Jared’s life who seemed to understand the path he was on and wasn’t trying to stop him, and Jared would have to let him go. He gave Jensen a weak smile, unsure what to do next. Jensen released his hand, sat back, wincing a little as his bruises complained.
Jared leaned forward, concerned. Jensen waved a hand at him, “Come on then, I need to know how to deal with an overly angsty Edward wannabe. You promised to tell me all about hunting. So come on then, my little Van Helsing, impress me with tales of daring rescues. Or better yet, how about telling me something embarrassing about Kane and Jim? Especially Kane, as I get the feeling my little sister is very interested in him, and I want blackmail material to make sure he behaves himself.” With that Jensen settled down and smirked at Jared.
Jared shook his head at that, moving back to his original position seated by Jensen. He opened his lap top and clicked on one of his favourite research sites, ignoring the looks that Jensen was shooting him - pleading with just a hint of a pout. “No, I’m stronger than that. You’re not gonna wear me down, Jensen. Kane would fucking kill me if I told you even half of the shit he got up to. Even worse, he has this big ass knife and he’s damn good with it. There are several things I’m very attached to, and if I spill the beans, he’d definitely start trimming.”
Jared laughed and Jensen joined in. The laughter was disturbed by the sound of Jared’s phone ringing. Jensen just stared at the phone as the ring tone rolled out round the room, “Who the hell has the ring tone My Heart Will Go On? Crap, Jay, your phone’s possessed. Exorcise it or something!” Jared just grinned at the horror on the other man’s face.
“It’s Rufus; I’ll tell you in a minute. Hi Rufus, what can I do for you?” The next thing he knew, Jensen deftly got his phone and switched it on speaker. He glared at him and Jensen gave an unrepentant grin.
“Jared, my man, how are you? Listen, I got a favour to ask you. It’s about a hunt, it’s a ghost that’s gettin' a mite feisty and I’m tryin’ to find hunters in the area.”
Jared looked over at Jensen who shrugged his shoulders, “Rufus, I’m kinda off the clock at the minute. How come you can’t do it?”
“I’m stuck in New Orleans dealing with an outbreak of Voodoo and Zombies. I’m actually passin’ on this one myself for that reason. Simple case down in Texas, and like I said I need a volunteer to swing by and deal with it. Jay, I’m sending you the details and co-ordinates. If you can’t help can you get hold of either Kane or Jim? Or do you know anyone else in the neighbourhood? Like I said, simple enough, but it looks like the spirit’s been disturbed and it’s actin’ out. Be great if we could put it down before it does hurt someone.”
Jared felt the bed move and Jensen was trying to look at the screen of the lap top at the email he’d just opened. He was just about to snatch it away, when he thought why not let Jensen look at it. It would be a great way to show him about hunting, and besides he was pretty sure he could find another hunter to pass it along to once he’d done the research with Jensen.
“I got the email, Rufus. I’ll see what I can do, be careful man. I ain’t got that many friends; I’d hate to have to hear about a funeral.”
“You know me, Jay, careful’s my middle name. Let me know how you get on.”
Jared laughed at the phone, “Dude, your middle name is trouble, and I’ll call in a couple of days. Try not to piss off the local Voodoo priests this time; they can be helpful. Bye Rufus.”
“Cheeky damn kid, take care of yourself too, Jay. Good luck.” Rufus hung up and then he punched in another number. “Misha, I’ve done what you asked. I’ve sent Jared those details. Listen, you owe me one hell of an explanation for this. Why? ‘Cause I’m sittin’ right outside the damn place, and I could clean it up in ten minutes....alright, no need to get excited...what Johnny Walker Blue label? For that I’ll be there in three hours. You better know what you’re doin’, Collins. I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night to find either Kane or Beaver stood at the bottom of my bed, wanting a few quiet words with me, because Jared got hurt. Ok then, I’m on my way.” Rufus started his car then he looked up at the empty house; for a second he saw the flickering figure of a young girl in an upstairs window. Against his better judgement he pulled away, hoping like hell that Jared would turn up and get the job done.
After Rufus hung up, Jared sat back trying to ignore the excited look in Jensen’s eyes. He sighed and moved closer to Jensen, “Ok then, you want to see how I deal with a hunt. It looks like you’re about to get first-hand experience of one. Don’t worry, I’ll just look into it, and then I’ll give Jim a call, he might be able to deal with it. He’s gonna be hanging around Richardson for a few days, so he’s the logical hunter to call.”
Jensen looked up, puzzled. Why was Jim hanging around his hometown? Jared read the look on his face. “Put it like this. In our world we make sure that a spirit is dealt with by salting and burning any remains. It seems that Preacher Morgan is about to be cremated as a matter of urgency.” Jensen looked startled and then frightened by the prospect, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this place on lock down, no way is he getting his hands on you ever again. Do you want to look at this or shall we do something else?”
Jensen licked his lips; he hadn’t even considered Morgan coming after him again, but he trusted in Jared and Jim and he felt safer for that knowledge. Helping Jared research would take his mind off Morgan, and he really needed to find out about that ring tone. “Ok then, professor Padalecki, I’m all ears. By the way, that ring tone - your friend Rufus doesn’t sound like a Celine Dion fan.”
Jared grinned at him, “Oh that. No, Rufus had a run-in with the ghost of a waiter who served on the Titanic. It was attached to a dinner service rescued from the wreck. And after the fifth time it dumped him in the water.....look, I’m not the only who uses that song for him. Blame Kane, he was the one who told me, when he stopped laughing, that is. Right then, let’s see what we got here.”
The two men sat and went through the email that Rufus had sent them. It consisted of the details of a house built in the 1800’s, supposedly haunted by the spirit of a young girl. Jared scanned the email. So far it seemed like a relatively simple salt and burn then he saw something. “Aw crap, she was cremated, that’s gonna cause problems. “
Jensen had reading and he’d seen the same thing as Jared. Damn! That was going to cause major problems. The spirit could be attached to anything in the house; he asked a question to keep Jared distracted. “So if the body’s gone, what’s the problem?”
Jared quickly explained how the ghost being attached to something in the house would cause her to remain. “Then why has she started to act out now? From what I’m reading here, she’s been fairly peaceful, mostly mischievous. You know, just hiding stuff. What’s changed? And what’s so special about the house?” Jensen’s curiosity was piqued by that; Jared missed the change of direction in the questions. Jensen’s questions were more in line with a hunter than a novice.
Jared stared at the screen, “Good question that, Jen. What is so special about the house? Hang on, there’s a web address, let’s look at that.” Jared clicked on the link, and the two men found themselves on a website detailing the house’s history.
“Oh god! This is going to be a nightmare, she could be attached to anything. Right. I think we need supplies for this, and if you don’t mind, Jen, I’ll stop off at the library and see if I can get any more information. Promise me you’ll stay in bed and rest.” Jared handed the lap top to Jensen and got off the bed. He grabbed his coat and got ready to go out.
Jensen watched how full of purpose Jared was now he had a hunt. He was both happy and saddened by the sight of Jared once again alive with energy. But it was only the hunt that brought Jared to life. If he wasn’t careful the man who Jensen was getting to know would be lost, and only the hunter would remain.
“Hey Jay, can I at least get my phone? I need to make a few calls…let people back in LA know I’m alright. I did kind of vanish, and can I check my emails as well please?” Jared’s face changed and Jensen wondered what he’d done wrong.
“Oh crap, Jen, I never gave it a thought about your friends at the hospital. No problem, I’ll just get your phone and please feel free to use my lap top. Anyhow if you’re doing that, I don’t have to worry about you doing something I’ll regret.”
“Damn! So there goes the surprise of ordering a pole for me to give you a pole dance on when you get back. Would a lap dance be alright instead?” Jensen smirked and enjoyed watching Jared go bright red, before he stuttered something about getting going before the library closed.
With Jared gone, Jensen began his own research. It appeared that the house was in almost exactly the same condition as it had been when it had been built in the 1800’s. It had been purchased by a historical society that was renovating it. Ok, that could possibly explain the increased activity. Perhaps the ghost had been disturbed by the work on the house, and that was why she was becoming increasingly restless.
He saw something on the website and he smiled. Yes, he had phone calls to make - only not to the hospital where he worked. What Jared didn’t know was he was taking a sabbatical. After he and Tom had split up, he’d decided it was time to take a break. He’d asked the hospital if he could use all the leave he had saved up over the past few years and they weren’t expecting him back for another two months.
Jensen dialled the number and waited, “Good afternoon, Westbury Historical Society. How may I help you?”
“Good afternoon, my name is Tom Welling and I’m doing research for a book I’m writing on houses built in the late nineteenth century and I came across your website. I noticed there is a property in Fort Hood that you are renovating. I was hoping you could let me have some details about it.”
After that Jensen charmed the secretary into giving him everything he needed about the house. It was a skill that had been highly prized by the hunters who’d stayed with Kim. One of the hunters had said Jensen could charm the pants off a nun if he put his mind to it. By the time he hung up, he’d received emails detailing the floor plan, contents including pictures and virtually a full history of its occupants, including the tragic tale of little Mary Williamson. He then sat going though the information he’d amassed, wondering how to explain to Jared about his research skills.
Jared on the other hand took the more traditional approach of going to the library; the house was in the town of Fort Hood, less than twenty miles from where they were staying. If needed, Jared could be there in less than an hour, he was studying the records and making notes, when he spotted the librarian. If Kane had been there, he would’ve just pointed Jared at her and said, “Sic her, Sasquatch. She’s just your type. You know, all maternal. Turn the puppy eyes up to ‘stun’ and go get ‘er.” Jared walked up to her and smiled.
The librarian looked up from her cataloguing to be faced with a rather attractive young man, with an air of confusion who seemed to be looking for something, “Can I help you?”
Jared gave her a shy smile, “Excuse me, I’m studying architecture, and I’m doing a tour of the area. I specialize in nineteenth century buildings, and I was wondering if there are any examples round here, please.”
The librarian smiled at the young man, “Well then, let me see what I can do for you...”
“Jared…and you are?” His smile broadened, and the matronly librarian smiled shyly back.
“I’m Elizabeth and I think I might be able to help you with your quest, Jared.” At that Jared leant on the counter, and smiled even more.
Jared finally left the library just as it was closing, he’d completely lost track of time. He thought, crap! Jensen! I just left him in the motel room with no food. Jared stopped by the diner, and shuffled from foot to foot while Mabel yelled at him for leaving Jensen alone. He told Mabel he’d been side tracked, but he never said by what.
Finally Jared returned to the motel room. He stood outside the room, wondering what he was going to find on the other side of the door. He gathered up his courage and pushed the door open.
Jensen had been busy researching the hunt himself, he’d read Rufus’ email and then he’d checked his own findings from the Westbury History Society. He ignored the rumblings of his stomach, and continued to work on. All the while he worked he was trying to think of excuses to give Jared about how he’d managed to find out so much without his help.
He finally noticed that daylight was fading; it was only then he realized how much time had passed. He hoped that Jared was alright; he considered going out to try and find him. Then he heard the sound of Jared’s truck pulling up. He smiled to himself, shut the lap top and settled down to wait for the hunter.
The door swung open and Jared almost came in at a run, “Jensen, God! I’m so sorry I just lost track of time.....JENSEN!”
Jensen was lying face down on the bed; it looked as if he’d been trying to crawl out of it when he collapsed. Jared stood there with his mouth opening and closing in panic. Slowly Jensen lifted his head and stretched his right hand out towards Jared. The hand shook violently; Jared all but dropped the bags of food on the floor, as he moved to the side of the bed.
Jared fell to his knees and grabbed Jensen’s hand, a weak voice croaked out, “Jared, is that you?”
Jared managed to take a deep breath, “I’m here, Jen. Everything’s gonna be alright, where are you hurt? Do you need anything?” Jensen looked like he was trying to speak, and Jared leant in closer to catch the whispered words.
Jensen licked his lips and pulled Jared closer, “Well, if you’re offering, you can give me that massage. Failing that a real cup of coffee, you bastard, for leaving me here alone all day.” Jared pulled back, his eyes narrowing as Jensen smiled sweetly at him.
“Damnit, I thought you were hurt. I ought to take your coffee back to Mabel for that. Anyway what have you been up to?”
Jensen propped himself up on his elbows, then started to swing his foot up and down, attempting to look cute. But the effect was spoiled when he caught his foot on the headboard, and he grimaced with pain. “Serves you right. Look, I’m sorry I got caught up with my research. Would you like to know what I found out while you drink your coffee?”
Jensen looked at the cup Jared held in his hand then climbed back into bed. Jared handed him the cup, took a sip and his face lit up with pleasure. Jared watched Jensen down the coffee almost in one. The sounds he was making were giving Jared problems, and he quickly turned his back on the Jensen and the coffee sex, and busied himself with the food.
He sat on the next bed to Jensen and handed him his meal,” Was that alright? And you never answered my question.” He was enjoying watching the look of ecstasy on Jensen’s face.
“God, thank you, Jared. That was almost as good as sex, which goes to show you how long I’ve been celibate. As for what I’ve been doing, I hope you don’t mind but I’ve been trying my hand at some research.” Jensen looked over nervously at Jared, wondering what the reaction would be - Jared just beamed at him.
“Wow, and there was me worried you’d be bored. I’d love to hear what you’ve found out, Jen. See if my brilliant teaching has paid off. First, let’s eat. I’m starving.” As he said that his stomach rumbled, making Jensen laugh.
After their meal was finished Jared took up what was rapidly becoming his favourite seat in the room - on the bed by Jensen. “Ok then, let’s see what we both know then. Right, it’s possible the ghost is that of one Mary Williamson, daughter of Ruth and Joshua Williamson.”
Jensen then chimed in, “She was their only child, and she went missing for several days. Her body was finally discovered by the townspeople after she’d drowned in the river and been swept away. Her body had deteriorated so much that her father decided to have it cremated to spare his wife the pain of seeing their beloved child in such a state.”
Jared turned to him, looking impressed; Jensen just shrugged his shoulders, “I rang the History society that owns the house, and the secretary was only too pleased to help. I think my studying for being a doctor helps; all I’ve done is hit books and the internet for the last few years. It’s still like second nature for me to research. And I got the floor plans and pictures of the contents. Damn! The place is like a time capsule, hardly anything’s changed.” Jensen was just hoping that Jared accepted his explanation; that it was his medical studies that had helped him with his research. And not the possibility that he himself had contact with other hunters and their methods.
As Jensen spoke he showed Jared the plans and pictures. Jared’s mind was racing. This was a gold mine. Damn! He could kiss Jensen for this. But somewhere in the back of his mind a quiet voice was whispering. “How does he know how to do this?” But Jared had become so wrapped up in the research, and Jensen’s contribution he ignored it.
Instead of kissing Jensen he settled for contributing his own research, “Well, I can tell you why the house looks the same. It seems that Ruth Williamson couldn’t accept her daughter was dead, and so the house became a shrine to her. Nothing was changed and Mary’s room was preserved exactly how she left it from what my friend Elizabeth said....”
“Who’s Elizabeth? Should I be jealous? Am I going to have to challenge her to a duel? She should get her own Sasquatch.” Jensen grinned as Jared blushed. He bumped against Jared’s shoulder and gave a mock glare.
“Elizabeth is a very respectable librarian, but I get the feeling she could do some serious damage with that date stamp she had on her desk.”
“In that case I’m not prepared to stand in the way of true love. How big was that date stamp again? If it’s only little I’m sure I could take her. Anyway, what were you telling me?” Jensen turned on his side, resting his head on his arm.
Jared looked down at him and gave a gentle smile, “Oh, I can carry on now? Thanks! As I was saying about the house becoming a shrine. From stories that came out at the time it seems that Mary did indeed come home. There were reports of things going missing then turning up days later, the sound of giggling, and many of the maids swore they felt a presence in Mary’s room when they cleaned it. Now Ruth was very happy about this and let it continue, but of course there is always a problem with that kind of thing.”
Jensen nodded in agreement, “The family grows old and dies, leaving Mary trapped and unhappy. From there she becomes frustrated and angry; finally she becomes dangerous. It’s taken long enough though. What was the trigger?”
Again Jared felt there was something he should be paying attention to, but he was enjoying the cut and thrust of the conversation. “This is where it gets interesting. Joshua died quite young, leaving Ruth alone in the house. Despite living with the ghost of her daughter, it seems she was a very astute businesswoman and she amassed a large fortune. As there were no heirs, the money and business were left in trust to the nearest relative, with the proviso that the house had to be maintained exactly as it was. And so it continued up until around fifty years ago. Hard times fell on the remaining family members, and in the end the house had to be sold to clear debts. It was going to be turned into a hotel, but the plans fell through. So it stood empty for the next twenty years until your History society bought it.” Jared paused.
“And let me guess. They catalogued everything, and then started renovations, and hey presto, Mary wakes up and has new friends to play with.” Jensen yawned; he was getting tired, but he wanted to hear what else Jared had found.
Jared was about to stop. Then he caught the look in Jensen’s eyes, and so he continued with his story. “You got it in one. At first the same pattern, giggling mischievous pranks and then something changed.”
“They started on Mary’s room, right?” Jared just nodded and clicked on a picture. The picture showed a room that looked as if a twister had been through it.
“That happened overnight after the renovation team finished in it. I’m sure it was something they either moved or even removed from the room. Then last week a workman was up a ladder cleaning one of the chandeliers when he swears something hit the ladder. Fortunately he’d been climbing down at the time and he was unhurt. The work has been suspended for a week until they figure out the cause of the accident. That’s where Rufus comes in; it appears that someone on the renovation team has come across this kind of thing before. Rufus was the hunter who helped. One phone call later and here we are. That means the house will be empty for a few days. Once we figure out what’s holding Mary here we can burn it and send her on to her family.”
Jared looked expectantly at Jensen, waiting to hear what he thought, “Well, it could be literally anything in the house. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack....Although... hang on, Jay are there any pictures or portraits of Ruth Williamson in existence?”
Jared’s face lit up when he heard that; he reached over to the pile of photos on his bed, “I thought you’d never ask. Here they are. Notice anything?” He watched Jensen closely as he studied the different images; they ranged from an oil painting of her just after she lost her daughter, to a sepia print when she was an old woman.
“Jay, that locket. Was she buried with it because it appears in all the pictures of her.” Jensen looked over excitedly.
“Actually, she wasn’t. I was surprised because there was something very precious inside
it.” Jared’s smile grew broader waiting for Jensen to make the connection.
“There’s a lock of hair in there, isn’t there? How come she wasn’t buried with it?” Jensen sat up and looked at Jared intently.
“She was cremated and her ashes placed with her daughter. In her later years she came to accept the loss. But she didn’t want to destroy the locket; it’s still in the house. If we find that and burn the hair - no more Mary.” Jared sat back and watched as Jensen began to skim through the pictures of the house contents.
“Jay, look, I think I got it. They’ve finished work on Ruth’s room, and if you look in the jewellery box, there it is. Do you think that will do it?” Jensen’s eyes gleamed with excitement at finding the locket.
Jared nodded and looked over at the lap top, “I think it might be what we’re looking for, and wow! You do know you’re amazing, don’t you? Thank god you’re a doctor, and can keep away from all this crazy shit. Although it’s kind of a shame, with those instincts you’d make one hell of a hunter. Just promise me, Jensen that’ll you’ll never follow my path. Because I’d hate to see you end up like me.” Jared’s tone had turned serious as he closed the lap top.
Jensen couldn’t help himself; he reached over and took Jared’s hand once more, “Stop it! There are worse people I could try and be like, Jay. You’re the amazing one. If I’d lost Chad the way you did, there is no way I’d have found the strength to go after the monster that did it. You walked away from a successful career and a normal life, and think of all the people you’ve saved. Look at me, Jay. You saved me. Thank you for that, you deserve medals for what you do. I know that will never happen, but I’d like you to know I can never thank you enough for what you’ve done for me. I’d be proud to be like you. Now, before we start painting each other’s nails, and calling one another girlfriend, what are you going to do next?”
Jared knew he was bright red after listening to Jensen’s glowing description of him; he wanted to tell him he was wrong. That he was selfish and stubborn, because all he saw was revenge. Nothing nor anyone would dissuade him, and yet Jensen believed in him - he trusted in what he did. And in that moment, all the pain and sacrifices Jared had made to be a hunter became worthwhile. Just to hear one person thank him for saving them, for believing that he was a better person than he was.
Jared cleared his throat, and Jensen slowly withdrew his hand, “Well, I’m not going to do anything this time. I’ll give Jim a call in the morning, and see if he can help. Or if he knows another hunter who is close by who can do the job for me.” Jared stretched and yawned. Damn! He was tired.
Jensen tried not to drool when Jared had arched his back and stretched; he tried to take his mind off the glimpse of tanned skin he caught. “How come you’re not going after the ghost yourself? I’ll be fine here. I promise, no running marathons while you’re gone.”
Jared looked down at Jensen’s prone figure, “Perhaps it is time I slowed down just for a little while, and there’ll still be plenty of evil for me to hunt even if I take a couple of weeks off. Besides, Jim would have my guts if I abandoned you for a hunt. Sorry, it looks like you’re stuck with me.”
Jensen yawned and gave Jared a sleepy smile, “Damn! That sucks. I’ll just have to do my best to put up with you....”His voice faded away as he drifted towards sleep. Jared carefully climbed off the bed, taking his lap top with him. He decided to go to bed himself; he considered getting into bed with Jensen again but he decided against it.
Very soon Jared was lying in his own bed. He turned onto his side and watched as Jensen slept. He was curled up again but he seemed more relaxed. Jared hoped that tonight Jensen’s dreams would be more pleasant. Then again he thought - I did get him to spend his day researching ghosts. It was then he started to think about how good Jensen had been at research. It was more than just being able to study. After all, he had a similar background with his legal training. Where did Jensen learn to make connections like that? Jared knew he’d have to ask him, his own eyes were growing heavy; it could wait until the morning.
Once again Jared found himself back in the home he’d shared with Chad. He started on the well-worn path through the rooms to where his inevitable fate awaited him. Like last night there were different rooms, in one he found the first ghost he’d salted and burned. Suddenly he found his shotgun in his hands. One squeeze on the trigger and it was gone, then he moved to another room, and there was the ghoul that attacked Kane. Again he found the right weapon in his hand. In a matter of seconds the creature was dispatched; he noticed that his once pristine suit now had blood spatters on it. And so it went, different rooms, different creatures, and each time the right weapon in his hand. He met the werewolf from his last hunt; he brought it down with a clean shot, the gun a reassuring weight. Then he faced the first vampire he’d hunted. It tore at his shirt and ripped the tie from his neck. With one swift movement Jared pushed it away, and swung the machete right at the bastard’s neck, severing the head.
He walked out of the room, the machete still in his hand. His suit was tattered and torn and he shrugged the ruined jacket off. He rolled up the gore drenched shirt sleeves and moved silently through the now familiar house. He wondered why he hadn’t met any demons. After all, they were his specialty, and then he heard noises.
Jared made silent progress towards the sounds. They were the same as always - a much loved voice, now twisted and cruel, speaking words in a horrific parody of romance....”Come on, sweetheart, don’t you like it when I touch you like that? That’s it. Beg for me, sugar. Tell me how much you like this.”
For the first time, instead of the usual paralysing fear that always washed over him when he heard that voice, Jared felt rage coursing through him. It was bad enough that the demon had taken Sophia and then Chad but now the bastard was hurting someone else, then he heard a soft plea. Jared froze at the sound of that voice “Jensen?” No, it couldn’t be true. No, not after everything he’d suffered, now this. Jared ran towards the sounds.
He crashed through the door, and skidded to a halt…Chad was on top of somebody. Jared heard the twisting figure whimper when Chad thrust forward. Chad’s head dipped down and Jared saw him run his tongue up the man’s neck. “No, please, no more... somebody help me.” Jared felt as if the demon had just thrust its hand inside his chest and crushed his heart. Hearing Jensen beg like that spurred Jared into action.
He strode forward, the machete raised, ready to attack. Chad’s head snapped up and he turned to look over his shoulder. Again, instead of much loved blue, the eyes were that hated black. “Well, hello there, lover. If you hang on a few minutes I’ll be right with you. I gotta say this one really is a great ride and he fights, but once you get him on his back he really makes the hottest noises.” With that, Chad thrust forward viciously causing Jensen to scream.
Jared felt sick. He could see blood pooling between Jensen’s thighs and by now he was level with Chad. He looked down. Jensen was covered in scratches, bite marks and bruises, just as Sophia had been. He could see that Chad was gripping Jensen’s wrist tightly. Just then he twisted it and Jared heard bones snap. Jensen just moaned, unable to even scream any more.
Chad just smiled more, “What ya gonna do, Jay? Kill me? You’ve never been able to before. Where’s your little girlfriend this time...oh yeah, I left her and her guts tied to the bed. Looks like it’s just you and me, babe. Just be patient while I finish off this bitch.”
Jared just snarled and grabbed Chad by the back of the neck. He hauled him off Jensen’s broken body making him keen softly at the latest abuse. Jared hesitated for a second, torn between stopping to comfort the wounded man, and dealing with the demon. He heard mocking laughter and turned to face the man he once loved.
“Well, come the fuck on. You keep telling everyone you want to send me back to hell. Here’s your chance, hunter....or are you all talk? I ain’t got all day. I’ve got things to do and he looks like there’s still a little bit of life left in him.” Chad leered at the fallen man behind Jared.
Rage overwhelmed Jared, and instead of chanting the exorcism that he had prepared for the last three years, he charged right at Chad, roaring in pain and anger. In one fluid motion the machete was plunged into Chad’s chest up to the hilt. As blood spilt down his lips he grinned, “I knew you had it in you, Jay. Now don’t you think you should see to your boyfriend?” Then he threw back his head, and as always in the dream, a cloud of oily black smoke billowed from his mouth.
Without a thought Jared let Chad’s body drop to the floor, and turned back to where Jensen lay. Jared took one step and crumpled to his knees. He crawled the rest of the way and slowly reached out towards the bloody figure curled up on the floor. Tears blurred his vision, and he whispered, “Jensen, talk to me.” There was no response so he crawled closer and saw Jensen’s beautiful green eyes open, but they were growing dull, as his life ebbed away. Jared pulled him close to his chest, holding him tight. He rocked back and forth, tears falling freely. He’d failed to save Jensen from this monster and this failure broke Jared’s heart. It was even worse than losing Chad whose body lay forgotten. Finally Jared could bear it no more and he whispered brokenly, his grief overwhelming him...”Jensen!”
“Jared.....Jared please, for god’s sake, wake up! Please Jay, come back.” Jared reared up off the bed and his eyes darted round the room; he was panting and his heart raced. He became aware that he was gripping something tightly. He focused, and realized with jolt that he held Jensen’s wrist with an almost bone crushing intensity.
Jensen had been woken by the sounds of distress coming from Jared’s bed; he’d stumbled towards the pained noises and knelt by the bed. He’d called out to Jared as he thrashed in his sleep, gripped by a nightmare. When his soft pleas didn’t work, Jensen had taken the risk of trying to shake Jared awake. He knew the danger he faced. It was never wise to surprise a hunter, and one being tormented by his demons. Jensen knew it was a very bad idea but he had no choice.
The second he placed his hand on Jared’s shoulder, a hand shot out and grabbed him by the wrist. Jensen continued to beg Jared to wake up, ignoring the ever-increasing pressure and pain. Finally, he’d been rewarded by Jared waking.
At last Jared was fully aware of where he was, and quickly let go of Jensen’s wrist. Then he carefully picked it up again, staring in horror as he could see fresh finger marks branded onto his skin. “God, I’m so sorry, Jensen. I’m so fucking sorry. Did I hurt you anywhere else? I need to look at you.”
Jensen let Jared pull him gently to his feet, and submitted to the examination without a word; he’d heard and seen the desperation in Jared. The snatched words he whispered, echoing round his mind. Finally after Jared had oh so carefully run his hands all over him, he sagged in relief when he realized he hadn’t hurt him.
Jensen moved his hand to Jared’s shoulder, “It’s alright, man, you didn’t hurt me. It was my fault anyway. Come on. Let’s get you back into bed. I’ll sit with you if that’s alright.” The voice was soft and encouraging as he moved an unresisting Jared back, Jared’s legs buckling as he hit the bed.
He looked up at Jensen who was gently stroking his shoulder, compassion in his eyes, “How the hell can it be your fault? Look at what I did to you?”
“Jay, you’re a hunter. You’re like a cop and trust me, you never startle a sleeping cop. You soon figure that one out in the ER. I should’ve been more careful. Now lie down... that’s it. I’ll stay here until you go to sleep. You’ve done it more than once for me, now it’s time to return the favour.”
Jared lay down and Jensen sat beside him. Without a thought he started to gently stroke Jared’s hair, trying to soothe the frightened man back to sleep. Jared lay with his eyes closed, and felt the tender touch of Jensen’s fingers. The tension began to ebb away, but he could still see the dream playing over and over. At last he spoke, “Jen, would it be alright if you stayed in bed with me tonight? I’d feel better knowing you were here.” Jared tensed again. What if he’d scared Jensen and he didn’t want to be near him?
There was a silence and Jared held his breath then he felt the bed dip and the covers move. As Jensen slid in beside him, Jared moved closer and wrapped himself protectively around the other man.
When Jared had asked him to get into bed with him, Jensen had considered making a glib remark. But then he knew after what he’d heard, Jared’s walls had crumbled, and now was not the time to joke. Without hesitation he’d slipped beside Jared, and let the larger man pull him close and engulf him in his arms. They lay together in silence, and Jensen had to admit it felt good to be this close to Jared, but it was heartbreaking that it had taken such a violent nightmare for it to happen. The way Jared held him it felt as if he was all that was anchoring Jared in place, he hoped that there was some way he could help him. Jensen yawned and struggled to stay awake, but he was still getting tired easily after his ordeal, and he found himself drifting off.
Jared felt Jensen struggle in his arms, and he knew the other man was trying to stay awake. He was certain he would not get back to sleep tonight, but it didn’t mean that Jensen had to keep his vigil with him. He gently stroked his thumb back and forth over Jensen’s heart, knowing the touch calmed him and eased him to sleep. He heard the sound of breathing evening out, and felt Jensen’s body relax in his arms.
Jared stared into the darkness - normally he’d get up and research the next hunt. Right here in this moment it felt right to be holding Jensen in his arms, and there was the dream to consider. He’d killed ‘Chad’ without hesitation just to protect Jensen. What did it mean? Was he leaving his mission behind? Had he allowed Jensen to breech his carefully constructed defences? As much as it pained him, he had to break away from Jensen. He had to return to his hunt for the demon, he could not betray Chad like that.
But still he sought the comfort of holding Jensen. Jared took a deep breath. He knew what he had to do. From tomorrow he would have to start distancing himself from Jensen, and the best way to start was to do what Rufus had asked of him. In the morning he would dispose of Mary Williamson’s ghost, and then it was time to take Jensen home. As much as he wanted to be with Jensen he was a man with a mission. After what he’d done in the dream, he knew it was Chad’s way of telling him to let go and return to that mission. His mind made up, Jared held Jensen closer and waited for the dawn.