Title: Hell Is Other People
Word Count: 5100
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 (sorry)
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*
“Wake up.” Jensen pulled his blanket tighter round himself, “Ah Mom, just a few minutes more please.” he slurred. Why couldn’t Mom just let him sleep? And he was so cold. A boot thudded into his side and Jensen came fully awake. As the pain rolled up his side he remembered he wasn’t in Kansas anymore, and he knew what was waiting for him was no munchkin.
Jensen slowly opened his eyes and looked up into the grinning face of Eddie, Preacher Morgan’s right-hand moron. He groaned and struggled into a sitting position, pulling the thin blanket that covered him tighter round his cold body.
“So Eddie, what’s on the agenda today then? Will I be relaxing on the balcony, using the fully-equipped gym, or my personal favourite, a full body massage from a gorgeous hunk. You up for it?” Jensen smirked, knowing full well what his defiance was going to cost him, but damn, it was worth it to see Eddie turn blood red. If he were lucky, maybe Eddie would have a heart attack or something. Jensen leant back against the metal post driven into the concrete floor, aiming for a picture of nonchalance.
“Although, I have to say the maid has been a little slack in cleaning my room. I mean, she hasn’t even been putting chocolates on my pillow when she turns the bed down.” As he was speaking Jensen was freeing the length of chain which held him in place. It had become wrapped round his leg and he wanted to be able to move. The chain was welded to the post and the other end was attached to a collar round his throat. When it had first been fastened there it had nearly choked him to death, sometimes he wished it had, but on days like today he felt like fighting back as best he could.
A cruel smile lit up Eddie’s face “Well then, we got a spa treatment for ya, a nice power shower. It ain’t exactly spring water, but it’s nice ‘n cool. After all, it’s Sunday and ya gotta look nice for your public, hey pretty?”
Jensen swallowed hard. Shit! It was Sunday? That was when he was paraded to the congregation, while Morgan regaled them with tales of his epic struggles with the demon within Jensen.
Jensen no longer had any way of telling what day it was, or whether it was day or night. Down here, in his own private version of hell, there was no natural light. There were only fluorescent strip lights that gave him an almost constant headache. The room itself was a bare concrete box, the fixtures consisting of the post he was chained to and a metal cabinet bolted to a wall
The only other items in there was a bucket in one corner and his bedding which consisted of two threadbare blankets that gave no real warmth.
Jensen could just see movement behind Eddie, and he knew what was coming next,; he’d endured the same routine several times now. He quickly threw the blankets up against the wall in an attempt to keep them dry; they were his only covering, as he wasn’t allowed the luxury of clothes. With that Jensen scrambled backward away from the post to the back wall.
Eddie stepped to one side, revealing two more apes entering the room. They were carrying a high-pressure hose between them and they were grinning maliciously.
Jensen weighed his options. He could sit here, curled up into a ball and wait to be hosed down with the freezing cold water, or he could really piss Eddie and his friends off. For a moment he rested his head upon his knees, his arms wrapped round his legs. No. Today, he’d stand. Slowly he uncurled and got to his feet. A little unsteady on them but he was determined to do this. He gave the three stooges a dazzling smile, “Well fellas, do you want to start on the back or front?”
Taking a deep breath Jensen turned away, slowly hearing the chain rattle against the floor as he moved. The last he saw of the three stooges were three equally pissed-off faces. Jensen spread his leg slightly to help him balance and he braced his arms against the wall, knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to withstand the water pressure, but he’d be damned if he was going to cower on the floor. Jensen lowered his head, closed his eyes and waited.
Eddie stared at the broad back; the pale skin was liberally decorated with bruises, a palette of pain. From blacks and purples to yellows, browns and greens, they reminded Eddie of camouflage. He snickered to himself thinking bet pretty boy wishes he could vanish about now.
“Okay boys, he wants a shower, let’s give ‘im one.” Eddie stepped to one side as the hose was turned on. A jet of freezing, cold water struck Jensen between the shoulder blades. It drove the air from his lungs, stealing his ability to breathe or even think. It felt as if a thousand shards of ice had splintered against his skin and was burrowing under it, chilling him to the bone.
The force of the water slammed Jensen into the wall, his arms giving way, splayed out either side of him. He turned his face to one side, attempting to breathe, already abused ribs sustaining fresh injury when he hit the wall. Jensen’s fingers clawed weakly at the concrete desperately trying to find purchase to allow him to push himself away from the wall to ease the pressure on his chest. God it hurt, he wanted to scream, but there was no fucking way he’d give them the satisfaction.
Jensen could hear laughter over the pounding spray as it was run up and down his now aching body. Out of the corner of his eye he could see the hose moving up towards his face. He took a breath, just as the water struck, his head bouncing off the wall. His knees buckled with the shock but he remained standing. If he breathed in now he’d drown. Then just as his vision started to swim the water receded. Jensen gasped, drawing much-needed air into his lungs.
He heard a clatter and he froze in disgust. They were using the hose to clean out his bucket and he knew exactly where the filth would run to. The floor sloped downwards into the corner and there was a storm drain. He shuddered as the mess swept over the backs of his legs; at least that meant the room wouldn’t stink for a little while.
While they were sluicing down the mess, Jensen managed to turn weakly towards the three men; he put his back to the wall and fixed them with his best ‘fuck you’ grin. “Ok then, shall we get the front cleaned up then?” he managed in a cheery rasp. Eddie growled and grabbed the hose; he snapped the water at Jensen, aiming right at his genitals. Jensen had been expecting this and was covering them with his hands as best he could. The shock still winded him, causing him to double over.
“Come on, sugar, it’s only a little water. It isn’t even holy water. I wonder what that would do to ya?” One of the other goons crowed.
Jensen managed to straighten up and smirk, yelling over the noise “I tell ya what. Why don’t we postpone the rest of this and you go and get the hose blessed then we can try again?”
The water moved up higher and Jensen was forced to protect his face, by crossing his hands in front of him. Finally the water ceased and Jensen sagged back against the wall, breathing hard, shivering. There was nowhere he didn’t hurt. But he managed to push himself upright one more time and he pursed his lips and blew a kiss at Eddie. The result was instantaneous. Eddie dropped the hose and flew over to where Jensen stood, pushing him back into the wall. He grabbed the chain in one meaty fist and hauled Jensen up, effectively creating a noose. Jensen put his hands on Eddie’s shoulders as he tried to keep his footing. If he slipped now he’d be strangled. Eddie moved right up to Jensen, hissing into his ear. “Listen to me, ya filthy fucking faggot, I don’t care if it’s a demon riding or not, I’d just love to end you. The Preacher says he can git this disease out of ya, and if praying don’t work then he says we can use force. I’m hoping he’s gonna git tired of praying, boy, and then maybe I could put that smart mouth of yours to good use, before ya see the light.” Eddie’s fetid breath made Jensen feel sick; he swallowed convulsively.
Jensen turned his head back to face Eddie, dropping his gaze. Eddie smirked, letting the chain go slack, allowing Jensen to regain his footing. Once that happened Jensen looked straight into Eddie’s eyes and smiled. Jensen gripped Eddie’s shoulders tighter and drove his knee right into Eddie’s crotch. Eddie’s pained whimper made what would happen next even more worthwhile.
Jared arrived in Richardson on the Saturday. As he drove along its quiet streets Jared went through his conversation with Jim. How the fuck did you trap a demon for a month? Demons usually had one hell of a self-preservation streak. That left Jared to ponder the reasons for its presence.
The first was the bastard had used a binding link locking the demon in the meat suit of the human, and no manner of Exorcism was going to release it. The link would have to be destroyed, burnt from the skin to release the binding.
The second was mental illness; this wouldn’t be the first time this kind of mistake had been made and sadly it wouldn’t be the last. Jim had probably sent him because Jared could be very persuasive without the use of violence, his legal training proved to be a god send.
Then there was the possibility this was a simple con and the good people of the town were being taken for a ride - the services being held swelling the coffers of the local “church” before the preacher and victim skipped town in the dead of night.
Finally there was another nagging suspicion that Jim himself had planted. Jim felt this was all wrong and so alarm bells had gone off in Jared’s mind. Could it be there was an innocent man being held in that basement? And more to the point just what had he done to make people reach this conclusion. Jared retained an open mind; he would see how this all played out before making his report to Jim.
After a quick tour of the town Jared booked himself into a Motel on the outskirts of Richardson. Small towns usually meant strangers were noticed and it was helpful to be able to make a sharp exit if required. Once he’d set up his usual traps, the next item on the agenda was finding the church. Jared drove through the town and found the church on the main street. He parked and went inside to see if he could find out about Jensen Ackles and what was happening to him.
Jared left the church an hour later, he’d hit the mother lode, and it was in the form of a sweet, old lady by the name of Hilary. There was usually a ‘Hilary’ in most towns, never marrying, spending her time now she was retired from her teaching job looking after the church, acting as an unpaid caretaker.
Armed with what he’d learned from Hilary, Jared then went to the town Library to augment local knowledge with cold, hard facts. From there Jared returned to the motel to collate his information and then share with Jim what he found out.
Jared sprawled in a chair as he followed his research round the walls of his room. It was a habit he’d gotten into after his first attempt at research with the loss of Chad. It made it easier to spot patterns and to follow a trail. He was satisfied everything was in place, along with his hand-written notes and he dialled Jim.
“Ok kid, surprise me. They got a demon locked down in a devil’s trap and are having one hell of a smackdown.” Jim drawled at him by way of greeting.
“Hey Jim, how’s things....” before Jared could continue he heard a crash and muffled voices. “Jim, are you alright.” Jared was becoming agitated. Shit! Was Jim ok? “Watch where ya putting ya damn hands will ya.” Again Jared heard a muffled voice and the unmistakable echo of a phone on speaker. Jared grinned. He knew that voice, time to have a little fun.
“Jim, is this a bad time? I can call back. It sounds like you have company and I’d hate to disturb you and your young lady.” Jared held the phone away from his ear, he wasn’t disappointed.
“Screw you, Sasquatch. I ain’t no lady.” A deep, southern growl came down the phone.
“Oh, hi there, Kane. With that hair and how short you are these kinds of mistakes are easy to make.” Jared always enjoyed talking to Kane; he loved how easy it was to get a rise out of the short-fused hunter.
“You ain’t too big for me to take on, ya know.”
“Oh Chris, I didn’t know you felt that way. But shouldn’t you get me dinner first? I don’t put out on the first date. I’m not that kind of guy.”
There was silence for a second and then Kane roared with laughter, “Guess I kinda walked into that one. Don’t worry, I’ll get ya next time.”
When the two men had first met, Kane had been wary of the ‘homo hunter’ as some of the unkind men from the hunting fraternity had dubbed Jared. That had soon changed after Jared had nearly ripped two ghouls apart with his bare hands, ghouls who were intent on making Chris their next meal. After that, Chris had spread the word that name was longer acceptable, and if it carried on they would have to deal with him. Dealing with a pissed-off Kane usually lead to broken bones and Jared’s acceptance into the hunter’s world had been assured.
“So now you two ladies have finished swapping knittin’ patterns can we git down to business? Ya know, savin’ people? Or shall we braid ya hair next? God knows it’s long enough on both of ya.” Jim broke into the easy banter, and without skipping a beat Kane and Jared answered together “Yes Dad.”
“If you two idjits had been mine I’d have disowned ya years ago.”
Jared sat up a little straighter and knew it was time to get down to business. “So, according to my very reliable source, Richardson boasts two churches, nothing too unusual in that. The one in town is ‘Our Lady of Angels’ - one Father Eric Krikpe is the priest and according to Hilary, the man is virtually a living saint.” Jared could hear snickering...
“Hilary? Ahh Jared, don’t tell me you’ve starting batting for the other team? No, I know it’s another Padelacki special, a sweet little old lady who wants to take you home to marry her granddaughter.”
“No, her niece actually, but my heroics in saving her floral arrangement led to a very informative chat including the news that Richardson has a new ‘star Preacher’ that has left poor Father Krikpe in the shade.”
“As much as I’m lovin’ the narrative flair here, can we cut to the chase, before I grow old and start watchin Oprah?” Jim cut in.
“Before you get old? So apparently, Preacher Jeffrey Dean Morgan arrives in town about a year ago. He appears and starts preaching in bars, pool halls, and on street corners, calling all the poor, lost sinners to the Lord’s bosom. The man is an overnight sensation in the town, offering to be all things to all men. He can be gentle, forgiving and fatherly on the one hand, and threatening to bring down the wrath of God with the other. Or in Hilary’s words ‘a snake oil salesman’. This guy is charisma personified. He managed to convince the Mayor to let him set up a meeting hall slash Church in one of the old farms outside of town.”
“So where the hell is this Jensen guy being held, then?” Kane asked, bemused by the tale.
“Don’t git ya panties in a bunch; let the Kid tell the tale. Go on, Jared.” Jim prompted at the interruption.
“Thanks, Jim. So Preacher Morgan starts living on one of the farms, and begins work to convert the barn into a “Church.” Next thing you know half the townsfolk are out there working for nothing, and making donations to the church fund. Within six months there is a very nice little church, and at the moment work is still going on at the farmhouse where Preacher Morgan lives.”
Jared paused, checking his notes, “Now I went to the Library and have taken copies of the plans to the place. Underneath the barn is an old storage basement. It’s been modernised slightly, concrete walls, floors, electric lighting, and air con, nothing too fancy. But it would be ideal to house a demon if you’re stupid enough to try.” Jared fell silent, waiting for the next question.
“Come on. Spit it out boy, there’s more to this than ya sayin.” Jim prompted again. Jared grinned he’d saved the best information till last.
“After finding the plans from the local town council, I started wondering when the place had been consecrated. After going through every piece of church news from every denomination I could find, it’s looking like the church isn’t holy ground. Jim, could it be possible that Morgan has managed to trap or make a deal with a crossroads demon and it’s making deals with other people?” Jared finished with a question.
Jim could be heard muttering, “Interesting theory, Jared but that means it would have to come into contact with folks. It’s one thing to pray at it while it’s in the damn basement, it’s another to have the fucking thing in front of ya.”
Jared sat forward in triumph, gripping his phone even tighter. “How about this? They parade it every Sunday to the congregation. Ever since Morgan caught it, he’s dragged it into Sunday service, and that’s three Sundays now and according to Hilary, tomorrow will be no different.”
The twin exclamations of shock nearly shattered Jared’s eardrum down the phone “Holy shit, that’s taking stupidity to a whole new level. We’re talkin’ gold medal-winning levels here.” Kane sounded awed at the news.
“So what are you are doing about it, Jared?” Jim cut across Kane’s comments.
“In some respects it makes the job easier, I was expecting to have to break into the basement to see the guy, now all I have to do is attend the service.”
“Jay, do you think they’ll bring the guy out if there’s a stranger in attendance?” Kane raised the question Jared had considered himself.
“To be honest, if I read Morgan right, no, I don’t think he would risk it. Especially if it’s a con or he’s got a demon working with him. So I drove over to check the place out. He’s got security. Well, if you can call three morons leaning against the wall, scratching their asses, security. That meant getting into the barn was a piece of cake. At the moment it’s not quite completed, there’s still some cosmetic work to be done. According to the plans the old hay loft will be a place of meditation. Right now it’s where all the building crap is stored and I should be able to hide up there and get a good view of proceedings.” Jared wrapped up his explanation and waited for the reaction.
“That sounds fine Jared, but you be careful. If the damn thing or any of the congregation spots ya there will be hell to pay.” Jim sounded a little worried. Jared had thought of this too.
“It’s ok, I’m going to get in at first light tomorrow and then just wait until everyone has cleared the area. I’ve found a spot to park away from the buildings so I won’t be spotted, and I’m going to set up a few wards to help shield me from it just in case.”
“Jared, what did ya find out about Ackles himself?” Jim enquired.
“Jensen Ross Ackles, born 1st of March 1978. He has an older brother, Josh and a younger sister, Mackenzie. According to the divine Hilary, Jensen was quiet, polite and one of the sweetest boys you would ever wish to meet. After he graduated from high school he went onto to college where he studied to become a nurse. He moved to Los Angeles where he works as an E.R. Nurse and is putting himself through Med school to become a doctor. His mom is very proud of him, and whenever he comes home to visit all the single and some married ladies circle like sharks round him. But Hilary thinks there is a girlfriend, as Jensen never bothers saying he’s with somebody.”
“He’s gay, Jared.” Jim exclaimed and Jared nearly dropped the phone.
“How the hell did you find that out, and what the fuck has it got to do with this?” Jared’s voice was getting progressively higher as he spoke.
“Well, me an’ Kane hacked into his email and unless Tommy is a new girl’s name, then he’s been living with the guy for several years. They split up recently and as for what it’s gotta do with anything probably not a godamn thing, but you know demons come in through the cracks. If Jensen was upset over the split, the poor bastard could’ve been high-jacked, and lower the voice. Ya keep that up and only dogs will hear ya.”
“Sorry Jim. He managed to keep that well hidden. I didn’t get a hint of it from Hilary. Maybe the strain of keeping that kind of secret could contribute to the right mental state as well. Look, I’m gonna turn in now due the early start. I’ll call you as soon as I can and give you the rundown on what’s happening”
“Night , kid. Speaks to ya tomorrow, try and get some rest.” Jim’s gruff voice held fond warmth.
“Go careful, Sasquatch, watch ya back.” Kane signed off as well.
Jared hung up his phone and got ready for bed. He was tired and hoped that tonight would be dream free, but he knew that hope was in vain. All he could hope was he could get some rest because he had a feeling tomorrow was going to be one hell of a long day.
The phone alarm awakened Jared just before five; it was damned early but he had a lot to do and he wanted to be in place with time to spare. As usual when he was hunting, his dreams were muted and washed out, lacking their normal violence which meant his night had been relatively undisturbed. Jared showered, dressed, and wore clothes which were neutral in tone and not too dark as to attract attention after he left the church. Jared gave his bag a final check - a bottle of water and Power Bars. Kane said you had to feed Jared constantly or you could actually see him fading away in front of you. Flask of holy water, chalk, hex bag and salt, all Jared needed to set up a few simple protection wards against being spotted by the demon.
One final weapons check and Jared quietly slipped out of his room and into his waiting truck. It was a short drive to where Jared had decided to leave the truck; it was off the road and couldn’t be easily overlooked by passing traffic and it was hidden from view of the old farm. Jared made a slow progress through the early morning. Dawn’s pale light was just enough for Jared to find his way if he were careful, the transition from night to day had begun. The world was enveloped with an eerie light, painting the landscape in a gun-metal grey hew that heralded the start of daybreak, waiting for the winter sun’s rays to sweep over the sleeping world and flood it with colour and life once more.
Jared approached the church and farmhouse, moving slowly but normally. He’d learnt early on nothing focuses the eye quicker than a six-foot-five man trying to creep around and be stealthy. Jared stood by the doors of the church and for a split second he considered changing direction, just going down into the basement and confronting whatever was down there. Jared knew he had to curb that instinct; rushing in could not only get him killed but the host too, and in Jared’s mind that was unforgiveable.
The church doors were locked, but it was a simple Yale and presented Jared with only a minute’s delay. He paused and locked the door behind him, then he stepped through into the ‘church. ‘ In the early daylight it was revealed as being plain to the point of austere. White walls were adorned with only with a large cross on the back wall. There were chairs instead of pews. Just in front of the cross stood a plain, dark wooden lectern. It was the kind of simple house of worship Jared had seen dozens of times, except for one small addition. In the floor just in front of the lectern was a metal ring which had been bolted securely into the concrete floor. Attached to the ring were two lengths of chain, one slightly shorter than the other with small hooks at the end. Its purpose was clear to Jared; they were there to hold in place the star of the show.... the demon.
Jared sat down looking at the ring and chains. When he’d checked the place out earlier he noticed some small, rusty, brown stains sprinkled around the area. Most people would assume it was mud but Jared had recognised for what it was - it was dried blood. This had concerned him. It meant that Ackles was hurt and he wondered just exactly what happened at these services.
Well, he would find out soon enough. Jared sat in the cool grey silence he’d come to like this time of day; he saw it often enough now. When it felt like he was the only one in the world awake watching the dawn bring in the new day, with all its hopes and fears as yet unrealized and for a short time Jared was swept up with those hopes until the daylight washed it all away. The new day always brought the same pain as the day before. Jared sighed and stood up, preparing to climb the ladder to the loft and wait for the service to start.
Unknown to Jared, just beneath his feet, there was another lost soul awake, staring not at the floor but at the ceiling. Jensen lay on the floor of his prison, shifting in an attempt to get comfortable, each shift of position sending tiny flares of pain along his bruised body. He was lying on a blanket to protect him from the worst of the cold from the floor and the other was wrapped around him. Morgan kept the air con on constantly, so the room was cold and it hummed and stuttered giving his solitude a soundtrack. The air con pulsed with an uneven rhythm which drove Jensen mad as he tried to follow it.
Jensen even looked forward to Eddie’s visits now because it meant some form of human... well sub-human contact. There was only one visitor Jensen never looked forward to and that was Morgan, the distinctive sound of his footsteps always sent a wave of fear coursing through him.
Jensen wondered what time it was, he was starving. Once more he’d pissed Eddie off. He had to entertain himself somehow and today’s punishment had no meant no food or drink, so what little way he had of tracking time had been denied him. Jensen had been trying to sleep for what seemed like hours, his eyes burning from staring up at the lights. His head and body aching, he longed to drift off to sleep and dream of being free, the feel of sunlight warm against his skin, of a touch that came from love, not hate. Jensen clung to his dreams. They gave him hope that one day he would be free again and that was all the ammunition he needed to keep fighting.
Jared finished his work in the loft. He set up his wards and had completed a ring of salt around where he sat, picking a prime position. He would have a clear view of proceedings but he would be hard to see surrounded as he was by building equipment and supplies.
Jared grabbed a power bar, ate it, and washed it down with a little water. Then he decided to take this chance to have a quick power nap. Jared settled down amongst the ladders and planks, and soon he drifted once more towards sleep, again his heart calling for a blissful dream-free oblivion. While down in the basement Jensen’s exhaustion finally allowed him to follow Jared into the realms of sleep, his heart yearning for the freedom dreams would bring. As sleep claimed them both, neither man was aware the new day had finally dawned.