ared is willing his racing heart to settle when he raises a hand to knock on the door. The people he visits are never known as anything more than 'the client'. He never knows what th ey are going to be like or what they are going to ask of him. The nervousness he feels every time he visits ‘the client’ is probably because he has not been doing this long enough to know what could be asked that he would not give. Jared takes a deep breath, and lets his fist fall against the heavy wood.
He hears movement behind the door and then it swings open. A man leans casually against the door frame, his green eyes looking glazed over. Clearly he is not completely sober.
Damn, a drunk client. Jared thinks to himself, swallowing convulsively. Drunk clients are notoriously unpredictable.
“You’re Jared?” the guy asks, scrutinizing Jared.
He nods , a lump in his throat.
“I’m Jensen. Come on in.”
'The client' leads the way into the apartment. Jared closes the door and follows him into the bedroom. What he sees of the apartment looks strangely uninhabited; there are no pictures on the walls, no decorative objects, not even carpets. The room he is led to has a bed, a dresser, a wardrobe and an armchair in front of the window, and that’s it.
Jensen sits down in the armchair, next to him on the floor is a half-filled bottle of whiskey and a glass. He picks up the glass and looks expectantly at Jared.
“Take off your clothes. Jerk off,” he orders.
Jared stares at Jensen for a moment and wonders why this guy needs a hooker. He’s damn hot with his green eyes and short light brown hair.
Jared asks, just to make sure, “That’s it? Just...”
“Jerk off,” Jensen confirms. Then he offers him the glass. “You want some liquid courage?”
For a moment Jared hesitates, but then he takes the glass and gulps down half the contents in one big swallow. The whiskey is very good, definitely not the cheap kind and it causes a pleasant warmth to flow through his body. Alcohol always helps.
He hands the glass back. “Thanks.”
Jensen toasts him silently and empties the glass.
He's self-conscious when he steps next to the bed, takes off his clothes and puts them on the foot of the bed. He notices a pack of Kleenex and several bills on the nightstand. Obviously , his client is prepared.
Jared sits down on the bed and asks one last question. “Erm, should I look at you?”
Jensen shrugs his shoulders. “Don't care. Do it the way you always do.”
Jared nods, leans back onto his elbows, closes his eyes and starts jerking off.
It's difficult to concentrate. The client is prepared to pay a lot of money and he doesn't even want to be touched?
Maybe he wants to do other things later.
Jared isn't sure what else could be in store for him. He trusts Mike, the man who gets him his jobs and had so far always gotten him decent clients. The clients who book callboys or callgirls with Mike can get something for every taste and after all, Jared does not stand around at a street corner like a cheap whore.
Jared can hear as Jensen refills his glass and rapidly empties it again . He decides to think of Jensen, because somehow he thinks it would only be fair to think of his paying client, even though he doesn’t want to be touched. He imagines how Jensen would writhe beneath him, pupils blown with arousal, his body covered in a rosy flush. He imagines what he would do with his tongue and his hands, and how Jensen would feel as Jared slowly breaches him.
The fantasy works so well, it doesn't take long for Jared to come. He lays there for a few moments, until the post orgasmic haze ebbs off, then opens his eyes.
Jensen is still sitting in his armchair, whiskey glass in one hand, the other covering his eyes. He looks like he's crying.
Jared coughs, but before he can say anything, Jensen says in a rough voice, “Go. The money is on the bedside table.”
Jared wipes himself off with a Kleenex, gets dressed and pockets the money. He turns to the door, not sure if he should say something, but like before, Jensen beats him to it.
“Come back tomorrow. Same time.”
“Okay,” Jared says. “See you tomorrow.”
The next day, Jared again stands in front of Jensen's door and knocks. He tried to talk to Mike about Jensen, but Mike only shrugged his shoulders.
“There are definitely worse jobs,” Mike had said. “This is easy money. Be glad about it.”
Jensen lets him into the apartment and he is obviously drunk , again.
In the bedroom, he points to his bed.
“Jerk off,” he says and with the whiskey glass firmly clutched in his hand, he sits down in the armchair.
The rest of the job is the same as the day before. Jared jerks off, gets dressed and before he leaves, Jensen tells him to come back the next day.
Out in the hallway, it occurs to Jared that Jensen does not need a hooker, but a therapist instead. He cannot put his finger on it, but it's hard to miss that there's something nagging at Jensen.
The next day Jensen asks en route to the bedroom, “So, how many clients do you usually have during the week?”
Jared blushes. “Maybe two or three.”
Jensen laughs under his breath.
“Well, then. Seems like I'm keeping you busy.“ He sounds almost amused, but there is something in his voice that Jared can't quite place. Jensen sits down in his armchair and scrutinizes Jared. “Can you make a living with it?”
Jared probably blushes even more when he answers. “It's not permanent. I'm just trying to earn some money to pay for college.”
“Oh, a student. So what's your major?”
“Architecture. I have a scholarship, but it's not nearly enough.”
“An architect. Well, then let me give you some advice.” Jensen leans forward in his seat. “Make your buildings earthquake-proof.” He leans back again, orders Jared to start and takes a sip of his whiskey.
For a moment Jared has to fight the strong urge to punch his client in the face. That drunken asshole – scrutinizing him like a piece of meat the whole time – wants to tell him how to make a building. Granted, he turns tricks, but he is no piece of meat. Not even a gorgeous man -
Jared stops his train of thoughts.
He undresses and lies down on the bed. This time he has difficulty imagining Jensen. His behavior threw Jared for a loop and it takes a while for him to recover – those damn green eyes. When he finally manages to climax, he's glad he can leave. He wipes himself clean and when he's just about to pull his shirt over his head, he notices Jensen is crying.
Jensen sits in his armchair, ever present whiskey glass in one hand and cries.
“Leave,” he says, but it's like Jared is paralyzed.
“Leave,” Jensen says again, and his voice gets louder. “Fuck off!”
He throws the glass at Jared, but misses him. Jared hopes he had no actual intention to hurt him, and not really poor aim
Jared snatches up his clothes and the money before fleeing out of the bedroom. He needs a moment to recover before he can get dressed. While he puts on his shirt he hears Jensen's voice through the door.
“Come back tomorrow.”
Jared ponders whether or not to go back to Jensen for a long time. If it would be dangerous. His friend Chad advises against it. He always does that though, because he doesn't like how Jared is earning his money. For Jared it's only a job that pays well.
“That guy is batshit crazy, dude,” Chad says and takes a long drag from his beer bottle.
Jared is peeling the label on his own bottle off piece by piece. “It's not that easy. I think there's something wrong with him emotionally. Something is eating away at him and he can't deal with it – what?” Jared says, noticing Chad's wide eyed stare.
“Have you been reading your sister's psychology books again?”
“No, really. And while you're at it, you should start analyzing yourself. You have a total good Samaritan complex.”
Chad answers Jared's disbelieving look with a forceful nod. “Oh, you definitely have one. You can't walk past a mangy stray without dropping it off at the nearest animal shelter – or worse, taking it home with you – and the homeless people are already following you around because they know you'll give them your last dime.”
“That doesn't have anything to do with Jensen,” Jared grumbles.
“Oh yes, it does! That guy is so far off his rocker and you think you need to hold his hand until the two of you ride off into the sunset together. Or – oh, you gotta be kidding me!”
Chad is staring, shock written clearly on his face, and Jared is almost blushing.
“You got the hots for this guy.”
Now Jared does blush. “I don't. It's just a job, that's all.” He takes a deep breath and says, “It's good money, and I'm going back.”
He thinks about the pain in Jensen's eyes, those expressive green eyes, and has to admit to himself that it's probably not the money that's making him go back.
When Jensen lets himself fall into his armchair, his hand goes immediately to the whiskey bottle and he puts it to his lips. The bottle is a great deal emptier than it was previously.
Jared takes off his shirt and is just about to open his jeans when Jensen starts to speak. “You know, it's gonna be over soon. You won't have to come here anymore. Then you can construct wonderfully earthquake-proof buildings and you'll live happily ever after.”
Jensen drinks directly from the bottle. Jared looks at him , attentive and confused.
“You know, when I was sixteen I told my parents I'm gay. My stepfather never said anything derogatory about gay people but when I told him that I had a boyfriend, Steve, he asked me if we were having sex and I said yes. He beat me into unconsciousness.”
When Jensen came to he was lying in his room. Something wasn't right. His head hurt and there were bone deep pains in his face and his upper body where his stepfather had beaten and kicked him. When he tried to sit up he realized what was wrong: he was lying on his back, helpless. His arms were stretched out and bound to the bed, as were his legs.
Every move amped up his nausea. So he lay still and closed his eyes. His mind was scrambled, meandering around the question of What's happening? What was his stepfather doing? “His stepfather” – who went camping with Jensen, taught him to ride a bike, gave him money to go to the movies with his friends. What was he doing?
At some point he fell asleep, or maybe he passed out. When he opened his eyes next, it was already dark outside. In the twilight of his room there was a figure sitting next to him on the bed.
“Dad...” Jensen said in a tearful voice.
“Don't call me that,” his stepfather said and slapped him in the face. “Do you think I spent the last twelve years raising a faggot?” Another slap. “Definitely not.”
Dad left him alone. Jensen refused to call him anything else. He had always called him dad, he'd always been treated like Jensen were his own son, and now he was flat out refusing to call his stepdad anything else, even if no one came when he called and his room turned dark and he desperately cried himself to sleep.
The next morning he was woken up by something cool and wet stroking his face. His mother was sitting next to him and cleaning his face with a wet cloth. Her eyes were red-rimmed and she looked tired.
“Mom,” he said, voice barely audible.
“Be quiet dear,” she said and rubbed the cloth over his forehead. “Everything will be alright again. You just have to stop.”
“You have to stop being gay.”
“Mom, I can't. You may as well tell me to stop breathing. I didn't choose this, this is how I am.”
She held a glass of water to his lips and Jensen drank greedily.
“Jeff will let you go, when you stop being gay,” she said and stood up from the bed.
Without another word she walked to the door. She looked at him with sad eyes, then she left the room and the door fell shut with a thud.
For a whole week Jensen was tied to the bed in his room. The only person he saw was his mother, who brought him water and sometimes even some food, but she never untied him. She left him lying in his own filth and didn't say anything but, “Stop being gay, and then Jeff will let you go.” Jensen could hear through the closed door how his dad yelled at his mother, could hear the clattering and clanging and he was afraid he would hit her.
After a week, his stepfather came into his room, crossed his arms over his chest and loomed in front of Jensen.
“Dad, I'm gay. I can't change that, that's how I am. I didn't choose to be like this.”
Dad didn’t say anything. He just left and for two days, neither his dad nor his mom came into the room.
Jensen thought they would let him die of thirst. He couldn't believe that his parents would go that far, to let him die like that, but the fear encroached on him with every hour that passed. When dad finally came, Jensen was so relieved, he wanted to cry. Until his stepfather started to beat him.
The next five days his father beat him again and again. He used a baseball bat, a belt and his fists. He didn't break any bones and he didn't hit him hard enough to cause internal injuries, but he systematically hit every part of Jensen's body he could reach. His mom brought him water and cleaned him, and though she cried while she did it, she didn't untie him.
On the sixth day, Jensen was crying when his father entered the room.
“Dad. Stop. Let me go. I'm not gay anymore. Please untie me.”
His stepfather looked at him for a long moment. Then he said, “You're lying, you faggot . ” and he let the belt fly, hitting Jensen until he lost consciousness.
Jensen didn't know anymore how many days had passed. Some of his wounds had become infected and he was running a fever, slipping in and out of a restless sleep.
He woke up and to his horror, saw someone lying on the floor in front of his bed. Steve. His beloved Steve. Hands and feet bound , unconscious.
“Steve...” Jensen whispered tonelessly.
When he saw his father moving in the corner of the room, Jensen realized he'd only been waiting for him to wake up.
“Dad, what's going on?” Jensen asked, fear in his voice. His throat was raw and his head hurt. There was no hope left in him that his dad would let him go, not with Steve lying on the floor.
Without a word his dad came over and pushed a t-shirt into his mouth. Jensen started to panic, when he could only insufficiently breathe through his nose. Then his father kicked Steve in the side.
“Wake up, faggot.”
Steve slowly stirred, he groaned and opened his eyes. When he realized what was happening, he started to panic, but before he could scream dad pushed a t-shirt into his mouth as well.
“You gay pig, you made my son gay too,” Dad said with an ice cold voice. “You're going to regret that.”
He used the same things he'd used on Jensen, but now he didn't hold back.
Jensen could hear the bones breaking. He could hear how Steve screamed into the gag and he screamed with him. He pulled at his bindings and a miracle happened. The rope holding his right wrist, weakened from the attempts of the past days, tore. Jensen tried to open the knot at his other wrist, but his fingers were stiff from the long time in the bindings and they slipped.
Dad noticed him trying and he moved away from Steve, straddled Jensen and gripped his right arm tight. Filled with fear Jensen looked up to him. Dad put his free hand over his nose and cut off his air supply.
Jensen was sure his time had finally come, it was over. He struggled nevertheless, because it wasn't only about him. It was about Steve now, too. He was writhing under his stepfather's body and tried to shake off the hand covering his nose or get the gag out of his mouth, but it was in vain.
Jensen's lungs were burning. His movements were getting weaker, his vision was swimming and the last conscious thought he could focus on was Steve. Then he slid into blessed darkness.
Slowly, in stages, he regained consciousness. First he noticed the pain, then the cold surrounding him. Despite that he felt hot and feverish. He felt like he was swaying in bed until he opened his eyes.
Jensen stared up at the ceiling. He breathed through his mouth and tried to figure out why that was important. A sound irritated him, shaky breaths and short groans. He turned his head to the side.
Steve. Oh god.
Steve was lying with his hands tied in a pool of his own blood. The shirt in his mouth was soaked with blood. His whole body was covered in bruises, both arms and legs seemed to be broken. Steve was looking at Jensen with glassy eyes. Broken moans were escaping his throat, sounds muffled by the gag.
“Oh god, Steve,” Jensen whispered. “No. Nononononono. Steve!”
He pulled at his bindings again, but his father had tied him down with new ropes and the attempt at freedom was in vain. When Jensen realized that, he screamed through his sobs as loud as he could. He screamed for mom and dad. He screamed for help and for Steve and for God. He screamed until he was hoarse and didn't have any more tears. No one came, no one helped.
Steve's breathing was becoming shallower, shorter. Jensen was watching him die and there was nothing he could do expect whimper and moan. When it was over, he closed his eyes and wished for his own death. He wished death upon everyone in this house, but most of all on himself.
“Two days later the police came. I still think my mom finally called them. But I never saw them again, neither mom nor dad. He probably realized that you can't kill a faggot and get away with it, that's why he disappeared and mom went with him.”
Jensen emptied the bottle. Jared is still sitting on the bed, half undressed, and shaking with anger and disbelief.
“I never touched anyone ever again. I didn't have a boyfriend, I didn't have sex, I didn't find love. I've been dead for eight years. But it's okay, it's gonna be over soon.” Jensen closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and then he slides off the chair. He retches and throws up, then doesn't move anymore.
Jared sees what Jensen threw up and horror seizes him. Frantically he searches the bedroom, but he cannot find what he is looking for. He finds the empty pill bottle in the bathroom and clutches it tightly, despite not knowing if it would help.
Jensen looks pale against the white of the hospital bed, but he is alive. The steady beeping of the various machines attached to him tells Jared so. Jared is next to him on a chair and thinks about whether or not he did the right thing. Whether or not Jensen wanted to be saved. If he even wanted to live. Jared thinks about the story he heard and thinks of how it might have been differed if he hadn't called the ambulance.
Jensen's hands move. His eyelids flutter and then green eyes are looking at Jared, amazed. There's the tiniest tug at the corner of Jensen's mouth.
And Jared knows he did the right thing.
“Hi,” he says.