Art Title: It's Dark Inside
Prompt Number: R1007
Fic Title: It's Dark Inside
Word Count: ~4700
Warnings: dubcon, self harm, depression, anhedonia
Summary: It's just a little innocent fun, right? Just a stupid party game, a way to ask the question they both know the answer to, no harm in that, right?
The demon called Rabbit Jack smiles in the darkness. This is going to be good.
Art Link(s): ALL THE GORGEOUS ART HERE
A/N: One million thanks to dephigravity for being so damn extra even when all you were hearing was excuses from me. You've been so gracious and kind, and the art is just ridiculous and I think I said I "adored" it, but that doesn't do justice to how freaking cool it is. And for all the times you leant an ear, that meant a lot. Thank you SO MUCH. And to the mods who were also patient and gave me five hundred second chances, thank you for all your hard work. Amazing.
Jared doesn’t wait for the planchette to get all the way to “YES.” The whole Ouija board thing had been a ruse anyway—a way to get them where they were too nervous to go on their own. The moment he feels a little twitch towards the “YES” direction, Jared leans forward and kisses Jensen. It’s warmer than he expected, and not awkward, not frantic. Perfect. He puts a hand down in the center of the board to steady himself and opens up his mouth slightly; an invitation. Jensen accepts. Slow, steady. No need to be frantic, as if it might not last. They’ve got all the time in the world.
Is there anyone at this party you want to kiss? “YES.”
The demon called Rabbit Jack quivers in his slumber, once, twice, then jerks awake. Jerks awake hungry. A hunger that steeps his body with ache. A hunger that makes him powerful. He stretches, his bristles and scales prickling where they’d become disarrayed during his hibernation. He feels through the darkness, searching.
Chaos, anger, confusion, hurt. They’re thick about the ground in this age, but he’s looking for something special. Something fresh and intense that will spoil beautifully. His tentacles, which extend far, far beyond his corporeal body, caress some of the possibilities; a mother cradling a newborn child, a disabled child with a guide dog, newlyweds on vacation in Tahiti. Nah. Nope. Borrring.
He scratches behind his ear with his hind leg, dislodging several small pit mice. The slowest one makes an excellent snack, but does nothing to abate his hunger. He probes a little farther with his senses, and then stops short. What was that there? He sits up in his nest, alert. He makes it a habit to stay away from teens; all that over the top emotion is a bit too rich for his taste. But this, this seems earnest, like something real. Something that runs deeper than a superficial dusting of hormones.
Rabbit Jack smiles in the darkness. This is going to be good.
It’s not like they’re a secret. There were lots of people at the Chad’s party, and no one batted an eye to see Jared and Jensen walk in holding hands. Jared’s never been a big fan of PDA at school, and it feels like it would be jinxing the whole thing to be flaunting it everywhere. Still, catching Jensen’s eye in the hallway sets his thoughts all screechy and disorganized. He actually walked into the cafeteria three periods early and stood there wondering why it was empty, because he’d been thinking about whether Jensen would ditch the senior’s table and come sit with him instead.
He feels too damn good to be embarrassed about it. They don’t share any classes, but they’ve been doing homework together every afternoon. Their mothers take turns trying to outcompete each other with home-baked after school snacks. Jared gets an A on his sociology exam thanks to Jensen, and Perry Moore stops calling him a fag when Jared shows up to cheer Jensen on at the homecoming game. Not that he gives a crap about that ass-bag, but still.
The field is still empty when Jared sits down in the bleachers and pulls out his Anatomy homework. He tunes out the banter and trash talk as the players arrive for practice, knowing that his radar will pick out Jensen’s voice when he shows up. Twenty minutes later, his head snaps up when the coach blows the whistle to start practice, and Jared realizes Jensen isn’t there.
He’s not in the locker room either, but some JV guys who are running behind schedule say they saw Jensen heading for the parking lot after the dismissal bell. By the time Jared leaves the locker room, he’s running. Something is definitely wrong.
Jared grew up in farm country, and one thing he’s always had a talent for is telling a live strand of electric fence from a dead one. They look exactly the same, but you just know. It’s the same when Jared first sees Jensen sitting in the front seat of his car. He looks the same, but something is gone. Something is missing.
“Jensen, wha— why aren’t you at practice?”
Jensen shrugs. “Didn’t feel like it.”
“Are you feeling okay?” Jared climbs into the passenger seat. “You look… Are you okay?”
Jensen nods, slowly. “Yeah, let’s get out of here.” He doesn’t wait for Jared to answer before he pulls out of the parking lot.
Jensen’s cheek on the back of Jared’s fingers doesn’t feel too hot, or too cold, but he doesn’t smile or lean into it like he normally would. It’s stupid, but it gives Jared this claw-like panicky feeling in his stomach. He shakes it off. There’s nothing wrong with Jensen. He’s fine. Everyone has an off day.
Except, Jensen doesn’t. Jared’s seen him grumpy, and pissy, and uncaffeinated, and even really and truly angry, but never like this. Never so…disengaged. Detached. It’s always seemed to Jared like the worse things get, the better Jensen becomes. He doesn’t have off days. He has days that inspire him to be better.
“Uh, maybe you’re right. I’m not myself today. I’m just going to drop you off.”
“Jensen…” Jared doesn’t like the desperate, pleading note his voice is taking. Now he feels clingy as well as worried. Not cool.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, man. Okay?”
“Maybe I can—”
“I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Later, when Jared has finished his homework, helped his mom with a load of laundry, offered to bring in the cows, and done everything else he can do to get his mind off it, he notices something. There’s nothing carried over. Usually, after dinner, Jared will go to his room and notice that he can still smell Jensen’s body wash on his clothes. Or Jensen will have texted him before he even got out of the driveway, or maybe rearranged something in his room. Always some little way of connecting even when they can’t be together. Tonight there’s nothing.
You going to watch GOT tonight? Jared texts. They always watch together.
All the while, he can’t stop thinking about how vacant Jensen looked in the car. Like someone pulled his plug. Tonight feels the same way, this weird separation. Not like he’s tuned out or turned off for a bit, more like a bit of wire not connected to anything. An incomplete circuit.
Jared has a picture of the two of them that his mom took one afternoon while they were studying. It’s his favorite picture of himself, not because of the way he looks, but because of the way Jensen is looking at him. He props it up next to his bedside lamp, and touches it lightly with his fingertips before turning out the light. He falls asleep trying to believe that tomorrow will be different.
The demon called Rabbit Jack had been voracious when he found Jensen. Starving. He can’t help himself, he gorges. He wallows in his gluttony, slurping up Jensen’s emotions from the inside out. He makes room to anchor his hooks and settle in. He inserts proboscises into the pulsing heart of this boy, into the very flesh of what makes Jensen Jensen, and gulps. Devours. Feasts.
Even in his frenzy, Rabbit Jack takes some care not to take too much of the wrong things. There’s an art to it; eat up too much, and you’re left with a dry, empty husk of a human. Leave enough desire, just a touch of guilt, a pinch of desperation, and a demon can feed for a good long time. If he plays it the right way, there’ll be enough to keep that other boy, that Jared kid, on the line too. Variety, after all, is the spice of life.
When his immediate hunger is sated, when Jensen’s tender and raw emotions are dribbling down his bristly snout, he settles in and makes himself as comfortable as he can around his bulging, glutted stomach.
This is good.
When Jensen doesn’t answer his texts in the morning, Jared has to ride the bus to school. It's awkward and causes a lot of whispering behind his back. He'd been riding to school with Jensen for the past three weeks.
Once he gets to school, things have kicked up a notch. People duck their heads together when he walks by, and there’s an undercurrent, a palpable feeling in the air that something is definitely wrong. He passes right by his own locker and heads to the senior hallway. Turning the corner, he can see a knot of football players around Jensen’s locker and none of them look happy. He quickens his steps.
Suddenly, there’s a loud bashing noise, and two of the players flinch back. Kosinski, the tight end, yelps out, “Jesus, Jensen!”
Jared breaks into a run.
Jensen is standing in front of his locker, eyes dead and staring straight ahead. Jared’s close enough now to hear what Jensen is saying, though it’s low and monotone. “Brosch, leave me alone,” he says, pulling his head back and then forward and smashes it against the locker. “Williams,” he says, not raising his voice, “leave me alone.” Smash. Harder than Jared would have though a person could bear to do to themselves. This time, Jared flinches too.
“Come on, man,” Chip Brosch says, putting a hand on Jensen’s arm. Jensen makes no move to shake it off, just pulls his head back again. “Tyler, leave me alone.” Smash. The locker dents, and the sound hits Jared in the chest like panic and guilt. The players look to Jared. They’re scared.
“Padalecki.” Smash. “Leave. Me. Alone.”
Then Jensen turns away from them all. He wipes the small trickle of blood from his forehead and walks into his next class, leaving Jared behind, open-mouthed and strangely cold.
He doesn’t see Jensen again for the rest of the day.
Now that was good. Rabbit Jack clacks his beak in satisfaction. The remaining pieces of the boy know he should feel bad about the whole thing, but Rabbit Jack won’t let him. The pieces of the boy plead, please, we’re hurting Jared, and Rabbit Jack sips that up like a fine wine and lets it gurgle down his throat. The air is full of confusion and fear, doubt and panic, and he soaks it up, savoring the flavors. The Padalecki kid in particular, his feelings are meaty and heavy in the air, the scent of them titillating Rabbit Jack’s appetite. Perhaps when he’s done with the Jensen boy…
“Jared, did you and Jensen have a fight?” Jared’s mother doesn’t wait until he puts down his backpack before questioning him. Her brow creased with worry. “Are you two alright? His mother called.”
Jared ducks his head away from her fingers that try to comb his hair out of his eyes. “I don’t know, mom. I don’t know what’s going on. I think—” he stops himself. He was going to say that he thought there was something really wrong with Jensen, but… is it really at that point yet? The get-the-parents-involved stage? Because going that way is an irreversible decision, and he hasn’t even talked to Jensen yet. As dissociated as he feels from Jensen, he’s not ready to admit that it’s that far off their map. Jensen’s not so far gone away from him the he can’t find him again, work through this.
“What, honey, what do you think?”
“I think he’s just working through some stuff.”
“You know we’ll do anything we can to help. We love him. You know that, right?”
Worry lines pinch her face. Jared wonders exactly what Jensen’s mom said to her. She looks so distressed; he skips the angsty teen urge to tell her “whatever mom.” He hugs her instead and heads to his room.
He flings himself down, already texting Jensen before his back hits the mattress.
Can we talk? Can I come over?
He waits forty-five agonizing minutes before he gets a response.
He’s out the door and on his bike and his mother doesn’t even ask, or tell him to be home by supper.
Jensen’s mother has the same fretful twist around the corner of her eyes as Jared’s mom. He gives her a reassuring hug as he passes through her kitchen. She squeezes back so tight that it only serves to make him more worried, not less. He takes the stairs up to Jensen’s room two at a time.
It’s dark in Jensen’s room, shades drawn, lights out, and silent as a morgue. Jensen is in bed and doesn’t say anything when Jared enters, just lifts up the covers; an invitation for Jared to get in with him.
It’s cool under the blankets, so much so that it makes Jared aware of his own body heat as he slides in next to Jensen. Jensen smells unwashed, but not in that sheen-of-sweat-and-testosterone-after-
Jared slides his arm under Jensen’s neck and pulls them close together, threading their legs together.
“Hey,” Jared says into the tiny space between them. Jensen does not respond. Jared puts a hand on Jensen’s neck and pulls them together so his forehead presses against Jensen’s. “Tell me what’s going on.”
“I don’t know.”
Jared waits for the sentence that should come after that. Something beginning with, “it’s just that…” or “I feel like…” or anything. But nothing comes.
“It’s okay,” Jared whispers, and kisses Jensen on the bridge of his nose. Softly.
He smooths back Jensen’s hair, which is mashed in some places and sticking up in others. Kisses his eyelids.
He tilts Jensen’s chin up and kisses him on the mouth and is disappointed to find that kissing doesn’t work when it’s only one of them doing it. Jensen’s lips are cold, unmoving against Jared’s.
Jared kisses harder. His hands pull at Jensen’s neck, forcing their mouths closer and deeper, his hips pushing insistently against Jensen’s.
Jensen doesn’t respond, but he doesn’t pull away, either, which is just as bad because what Jared wants is a reaction, and it’s not happening. He wants to hit Jensen, to shake him, but they’re too close. He squeezes tight instead, grinds their bones together where they touch, feels Jensen’s ribs compress slightly, hears breath forced out from between Jensen’s lips.
“Do that again,” Jensen whispers, and it hurts Jared, how small those words sound. He does what Jensen asks. He wraps one arm around Jensen’s waist and squeezes tight, pulling Jensen over on top of him. He hooks his legs up around behind Jensen’s hips and locks down, tight. He kisses Jensen, hard, letting his teeth knock up against Jensen’s gums. It’s the desperation and panic that was missing from their first kiss.
And then Jensen isn’t just passively receiving, he’s taking. Hands knotted in the hair at the back of Jared’s neck, he pulls hard, so that Jared's mouth is forced open wider, his jaw cracking. He bears down, and Jared feels Jensen’s hard-on crushing against his own. Jensen fumbles for Jared’s free hand and shoves it down to his crotch.
“Hard,” he says into Jared’s mouth. “I need you to do it hard.” He rolls them back over.
Jared nods, and then Jensen’s hands are on the top of his head, pushing him down. It’s like falling, the swooping, panicking feeling inside Jared’s chest. They hadn’t done this yet, and this is wrong, all wrong, but he’s desperate and he wants Jensen to… to be Jensen. All he wants in the whole world right now is for Jensen to acknowledge that he’s feeling something, anything, so if it comes down to this, if this is what Jensen wants or needs, then fine. Just fucking fine.
Jensen hooks his fingers into his sweats and pulls them down and then directs Jared’s hand where he wants it. Forces Jared’s fingers to squeeze hard. Jared thinks I’m there Jensen, I’m right there with you, just let me catch up. He does what Jensen wants, grips it and strips it. He wants to process this, his first time doing this, but there isn’t time. No time for thinking about how it’s happening, this thing he’s been fantasizing about. No time for thinking about how he might not be ready, despite all the fantasizing he’s done. There’s only Jensen and what Jensen needs.
It’s awkward and doesn’t feel right, but Jared tries his best to do to Jensen what he does to himself; runs his fist up and down the length, sometimes letting his hand skim over the surface, sometimes gripping tight. He pulls Jensen’s balls taut and lets his long fingers reach down to cup them. It doesn’t seem to be enough though. Jensen makes a groan of frustration and pushes Jared’s head down, cants his hips up.
“I need to feel something,” Jensen says, and Jared wonders if he knows he said it out loud. He can’t respond, because there’s the slick head of Jensen’s cock at his lips. He doesn’t even have a split second to decide whether he wants to do this; he’s already doing it. He opens his mouth and lets Jensen push in, fast, hard, until he gags.
The world narrows down to this one thing; Jensen filling his mouth and stealing it for his own purposes. Jared can’t breathe—his body jerks every time the head hits the back of his throat. It's not necessarily painful, but rather, intensely unpleasant. But he holds on tight, and chooses Jensen again and again over the urge to stop, to just breathe.
When Jensen comes, it’s silent. His muscles lock, and he pushes deep, deep enough so that Jared convulses and tears squeeze out of the corner of his eyes. The taste leaks up and around Jensen’s cock and spreads over Jared’s tongue, bitter and hurtful in a way Jared can’t quite understand.
The second it’s over, his heart sinks. Whatever he was hoping this would do for them, it didn’t work. Jensen lies still, one arm thrown up over his eyes, the other palm down on the sheets. He doesn’t gather Jared into his arms, he doesn’t kiss the top of his head when Jared moves back up, he doesn’t say anything.
Jared waits for something, anything, but it doesn’t come. He pushes himself up and out of Jensen’s bed, disbelieving. He almost doesn’t hear Jensen as he walks out the door.
“I can’t feel a fucking thing.”
Rabbit Jack feels bloated and fat. His stomach is round and tight, scales gleaming greasily in the hollowed-out space that once was a boy named Jensen. The guilt. The shame. The desperation. From both of them. He could swim in it, it’s so thick around him. Mighty fine stuff.
It’s possible he’s taken it a little too far. Jensen won’t get out of bed. There’s not much left there, and all of it has Jared’s name tattooed over everything. Who, by the way, has not been back since that afternoon. There isn't enough of Jensen left to feel guilty or lonely about that.
Eventually, if he stays, he’d starve. But not before squeezing out every last drop, making sure there is absolutely nothing left to be had. Sometimes, the dregs make the best gravy.
For three days Rabbit Jack lets Jensen wallow in bed. By then, he’s feeling a bit peckish. He whispers in Jensen’s mind, I know something that will make you feel. I know something that you can do to prove to yourself you’re still human. It’s practically painless….
After what he does, Jensen finds that he doesn’t care anymore. Doesn’t care at all. Cares so little about anything that he finds he actually doesn’t even need to stay attached to his own body. He wriggles free and looks dispassionately at his body lying in the bed. Not really his body anymore. He knows it belongs to that Rabbit Jack thing now. So no need to hang around. He goes to find Jared.
The Jensen that Jared sees in his dream is a nightmare all on his own. He doesn’t need to do anything frightening. He stands next to Jared’s bed, smiling and bleeding from twelve diagonal slashes running down his forearms. His eyes are hollowed out, but there’s a spark in there that Jared hasn’t seen in days, and it’s so real that everything else just falls away.
“It’s dark inside,” Jensen says, pointing at his chest. “Get it out.”
There’s a part of Jared that knows he’s sleeping, but it's somehow more real than a dream. The fact that he’s aware he’s asleep makes it hard for him to stay asleep. He stands slowly, fighting off the insistent nudge of reality, and puts his arms around Jensen, lets Jensen lay his head on his shoulder. Tells himself not to wake up. Ignores the warm, sticky feeling of Jensen’s blood soaking through his shirt. Tells himself not to wake up.
“Tell me what to do,” he asks Jensen, speaking as softly as he can so he absolutely does not fucking wake himself up.
But then he does.
Reality snaps back into place, and his mind scrambles desperately to snatch at that dream, to hold on to Jensen for just a bit longer. To hear the answer. It’s no use.
What had Jensen said? Get it out. What the hell does that mean? He closes his eyes, picturing Jensen pointing at his chest. The Jensen in the dream had been so real, his first glimpse in days of the Jensen he misses so much. But now, as he tries to pull back that mental image, a dream filter slips over the memory. A set of horns appears, sprouting from Jensen’s forehead like a malignant growth. Jared flinches from the vision.
That’s when he hears it. A small scraping sound, coming from his closet. Like a mouse or something similarly small and quiet, but somehow less organic. He lifts his head up off the pillow and peers through the middle of the night gloom.
His closet door is partially open, and the noise is definitely coming from within. Jared gets up and treads lightly over to the closet, heart thumping, body tense and ready to get the hell out of there. The noise continues. It’s a familiar sound, and a wave of icy prickles washes over the surface of his skin when he realizes what it is, how he recognizes it.
It’s the Ouija board. It’s the fucking planchette on the Ouija board, the faint scrape of the felt pegs over the glossy board.
Is there anyone at the party you want to kiss?
The memory occurs to him and all fear is washed away, replaced with a frantic need to hurry, get that damn thing out of the closet. He needs to see what it’s saying, because there can only be one person doing this and that’s Jensen. His beautiful, hollow-eyed, cut-up Jensen.
Once the board is out, Jared tries to follow the words, but they come too fast and don’t make any sense. More of the It’s dark inside. Get it out. Then, inexplicably, Rabbit Jack. Rabbit Jack. Rabbit Jack. Get it out. It’s dark inside. Rabbit Jack.
“I don’t understand,” Jared pleads. “Tell me what to do.”
The planchette abruptly comes to a stop, a pause in the frenzy filled only with the sound of Jared’s racing heart. Jared places his fingertips gently on the planchette, hoping to entice it into motion with more of the message. It jerks out and away from his touch, then holds steady, still silent. Jared knows what this is. It’s Jensen thinking. He’s seen it before, Jensen weighing his options, standing still with his eyes closed, hand up to silence anyone who might interrupt. Just give me a minute, that motionless planchette is saying. Give me a damn minute.
He waits. Patiently. He saw that light in Jensen’s eye, that’s something he can trust, something he can have faith in.
At last: Hold onto me while I starve him out.
It’s not easy, waiting. It’s not easy holding on to a Jensen that he can’t share with anyone else. It's not easy watching his body wither and pale in a hospital bed, arms bandaged, breathing shallow. It’s not easy watching Jensen’s mother and father keep vigil, watching them lose hope day after day. It’s not easy being shoved out of the room by orderlies when Jensen flatlines from time to time.
But the Jensen he keeps with him kisses him in his sleep. Real kisses, soft and giving. The kind of kisses that say so many things…thanks, Jay, for being strong for me, and I’m sorry you have to wait so long. The Jensen that’s hiding in his mind gives him strength, lets him believe.
Rabbit Jack doesn’t notice at first. He’s full and fat and happy, his bristles glossy and his horns twisted and strong. He gets lazy. Feeds a little off memories. Doesn’t pay too much attention until he notices one day that he’s hungry, and that Jensen doesn’t seem to be around. He pokes around in all the corners, expecting to see a scared kid huddled in the shadows, but doesn’t find him anywhere. He’d like to go out looking for him, but he doesn’t want to risk disengaging and then having to start all over again, this time with someone who’s prepared to resist. No fucking thank you, too much damn work.
So, two can play at this game. Take a trip too long away from your body and you’re a ghost, a wandering spirit. Rabbit Jack thinks, we’ll see who flinches first.
Forty-two days. It takes forty-two days to starve out the demon. Jared’s not one-hundred percent sure that “demon” is the real name for the parasite inside Jensen’s body, but it’s the closest word he has. The last few days frighten Jared, despite the faith he’s kept all this time. The Jensen in him gets stronger and stronger while his body in the hospital fades a little more every day. That can't be good. There are times when he can actually feel Jensen lying in bed beside him at night, hand warm on his stomach. Times when he hears Jensen’s voice in his ear, telling him to be strong.
On the forty-second day he hears, he’s gone, and then Jensen is gone too. It's an abrupt and complete disconnect that leaves Jared feeling like he’s somehow standing on air moments before falling.
There is no car in the world that can get Jared through the Austin traffic to the hospital fast enough; he runs the two miles instead. And there is Jensen. Frail and slightly disoriented, but he smiles weakly when Jared takes his hand.
“You did it,” Jared says, the words barely able to squeak out of his constricted throat.
“You held on,” Jensen says. “I would have… I would have floated away.”
That’s not quite right, not exactly what would have happened, but Jared knows what he means. He can’t answer, he can’t say anything because all this time, he never let himself think about it. This is the first time he’s even acknowledged the possibility of what could have happened, and it sucks the air right the hell out of him.
Jensen looks down at his arms, and suddenly his face crumples. “I’m so sorry, Jay, I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t you dare. Don’t. It wasn’t you.” Jared gets right in Jensen’s face, their foreheads touching. “It wasn’t you.”
This close, Jensen only needs to whisper. “But it was. That’s the thing, it was me. I just… that…” he flutters his hand weakly, gesturing for the thing he can’t find the word for, “…inside me, it was so big. There wasn’t room left to care about you, to care about my mom, to—”
“You wouldn’t have come looking for me that night if you didn’t care. If you really didn’t care, you would have given up.”
Jensen closes his eyes. To Jared, he looks so tired and used up, but he looks like his Jensen again. He should probably let him sleep. He should probably let Jensen’s mother get back to her boy. But he has to see Jensen smile just once before he goes.
“Hey,” he says softly into Jensen’s ear, “is there anyone at this hospital you want to kiss?”