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Where Our Loyalties Lie

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001. “I’m Here.” - Josh POV - Word Count: 244 - Rating: K - Warnings: Post-Canon, Fix-It Fic, Josh Lived and Escaped the Mountain, Nightmares, Implied trauma

You could say the first one was the worst.

When I came to in the apartment I’d moved into with Chris after that first nightmare about the Mountain, I was sweaty and my chest was heaving. My hands shook, eyes wide as I cast them around the dark room, but the realization that the snow wasn’t drifting off the dressers and the howling of wind and Wendigos wasn’t there didn’t seem like it would ever come. I hadn’t heard the predatorial shriek that left me, but it seemed like Chris was ready to tug me back to sleep. His eyes wouldn’t even open, but his arms were insistent, tugging me back into bed and tucking me up into him like it was the best thing he could ever do. Really, it probably was. Sleepily, he kissed me, and pressed my forehead to his neck.

“I’m here, Josh. I got you, man.” Even if he sounded like he was tipping back into sleep, it was nice to hear, and I kissed all up and down the column of his neck before I heard the little snore that told me he couldn’t stay up. Chuckling a little, I curled back into him, getting as comfortable as I could, luxuriating in the warmth and scent that could only be Chris.

After that, the nightmares seemed a little more manageable. Chris was there, even if he was dead asleep, and that was good enough for me.

002. “It’s Alright.” - Third Person POV - Word Count: 607 - Rating: T - Warnings: Gay Bashing, Intolerant Parents, Implied Abuse

Chris’ entire body was a tense line during dinner, that night. Sitting at the small round table in the dining room, his mom to his right, Josh to his left, and his father before him, he pushed his food around the plate instead of happily digging in like everyone else. After a few minutes of this distracted behavior, the man sitting at the head of the table pointed his fork at his son.

“Why aren’t you eating? Your mother slaved over a hot stove, and this is how you repay her?” His voice was gruff, stern, as if he were anticipating the bad news Chris was quite obviously about to deliver. If he knew his son, and he was positive he did, then there was a storm coming.

“Just…. Not--” The bespectacled male started, eyes down on his plate, only to be startled into looking up.

“Look at me when you talk to me, boy, you know better.” Beside him, he could feel Josh stiffen, his free hand reaching down to rub at his thigh, as if to help him relax. Every time Carl Brenton spoke, however, both boys froze.

“I’m just not all that hungry, dad.” Chris tried, getting a sharp, blue-eyed glare.

“Honey, you can just eat what you can--” Began the feeble, meek woman at his right, a calming hand moving to her son’s wrist, only to be pulled back shortly after seeing the look on her husband’s face.

“Finish your plate.” The order was obvious, even Josh tucked into his meal a little faster, fear evident in his eyes. He hated confrontation, and some part of Chris knew he may as well just get it over with.

“I’ve got something I need to say, first.” Voice quivering, he tried to keep his father’s gaze, “Josh and I are together, dad. And there’s nothing you can say to change my mind.”

What happened next was like a whirlwind. There was a roar of defiance from the elder man, who rose and slammed his hands on the table. Shouts of ‘no son of mine’ and ‘get out’ filled the room, and a tossed bowl of mashed potatoes forced the two young men to flee. Chris kept up a decent front until they were a good fifteen minutes away, finally pulling into a parking lot and resting his head on the wheel of his car. At first, all that left him were a series of broken, dry sobs, before the tears followed in long, wet lines down his cheeks. Josh, while still trying to recover, knew that he wasn’t the only one freaked out right now, and managed to swallow his own fear.

Reaching over and rubbing the other’s back, he unbuckled with his free hand and pulled himself closer to his lover, kissing his neck and jaw before finding his nose, kissing it as those blue eyes found his green ones.

“Chris… It’s alright.” He whispered, the silence in the car broken only by that small utterance and Chris’ own sobs. He offered a watery smile, nodding a little, even if the tears didn’t stop, and gasped in another breath when Josh’s lips found his. “How about this? We’ll go grab enough Chinese food to feed an army, go home and watch a movie?” The sentiment alone seemed to make the poor blonde happier, cracking a little smile.

“Sounds good to me.” He offered, hands tapping at the wheel a few times, as if he were waiting for something.

“I love you.” Josh finally purred, leaning over to kiss the other’s cheek again, licking up a trail of half-dried tears.

“I love you, too, man.”

003. “I’ve Got You” - Chris POV - Word Count: 556 - Rating: T - Warnings: Hallucinations, fluff, TW Mental Illness

Sometimes, I don’t understand what sets him off. Everything can be right with the world, we could be together reading a book on the couch, and next thing I know, he’s jittery and uncertain. I know I can’t possibly crawl inside his ear and make his brain behave, but since our time on the Mountain, well, I’ve learned to try and empathize with him. If he needs the little toy rabbit with the butterfly on its foot that Hannah owned, I’ll get it for him. If he wants something to eat or drink, I cater to him and his needs. If he wants to watch a movie, or even direct one starring me and Buddy, then it will happen.

But, it’s times like these when I know that the best medicine is to be close to him, to hold him tight as he burrows beneath the blankets and into my arms, holding his beanie down tight over his ears and squeezing his eyes shut.

“They’re trying to get in again.” He whimpers pathetically, and I smooth down the covers over his back, kissing the top of his head. “They want to hurt us.”

“Nothing’s going to hurt you, Josh. Not while I’m around. I’ve got you, babe.” I whisper into what would have been hair if he wasn’t wearing his hat, “I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. I’ll protect you.” I can’t stand it when he’s like this, I hate that I can’t go through completely on my promises, that I can’t chase the bad things away with a broom or a flipped light switch like I could have when we were kids. But it’s all worth it when he offers me that watery little smile, as though my words alone were enough to keep the demons at bay.

“I love you.” He croaks, his voice breaking a little from all the sobbing he’s done. I know it makes him feel weak, but when he really needs it, even I wouldn’t judge him. If there’s one thing I know about Josh, it’s that he’s nothing like anyone else I have ever met, and that makes me feel special. Everyone says he picked me, but I think, deep down, that maybe we were always meant to be. From that day in third grade forward, I knew that Josh and I would always be together, one way or another. We’re both fortunate to still have one another, and I couldn’t be prouder of him, even as he uses my sweater to wipe the snot and tears from his face. “Sorry, Cochise.” He whispers after a moment, and I realize he’s scared to speak too loudly, for the sake of his hallucinations overhearing.

“Don’t be. Just think of me as a walking, talking Kleenex that can give the best hugs and make killer hot cocoa.” He laughs a little brokenly at that, nuzzling his face deeper into my chest. I’m petting his hair beneath the beanie, now, gentle circles I know calm him, and before I know it, I hear little snores from him, and glance over at Buddy, who seems to have decided I’m a decent pillow, as well, mimicking his daddy’s snores as best a beagle can. I chuckle a little, and continue to pet Josh wherever I can reach until I, too, tip into dreamland.

004. “You’re Okay” - Josh POV - Word Count: 485 - Rating: K - Warnings: Gay, Slash, Yaoi, Fluff, Medication

I think, sometimes, that my brain is out to kill me. Logically, I know that the mixing spoon I dropped on the floor while trying to cook dinner isn’t such a big deal. I could pick it up, wash it real quick, or even just toss it into the sink and get a new one easily, but logic doesn’t really rule in here, I guess. Tears well up in my eyes until everything looks blurry, and I suck in a deep breath to try and keep them back, only to exhale on a loud, shamefully pitiful sob.

The distinct chime of Chris’ phone locking has me turning my head, and before I know it, I’m pulled into a bear hug and he cradles my head against his shoulder.

“You’re okay.” He whispers softly into my hairline, and I hiccup around another sob as the tears keep streaming down my cheek. “Did you get your pills today, Josh?”

“N-no…” I whine a little, shaking my head, “I… I don’t want to have to be medicated to be normal.” He just tuts a little and shakes his head with a little chuckle.

“You know you need them, sweet face.” I can’t help but crack a little smile at the Chucky reference, and pull back to look at him.

“Can you get them for me?” I hate taking them, but I know he’s right. No matter how much I fight it, I don’t want another incident to happen. Especially not now. He gently takes my hand and leads me to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom of our little apartment, pulling out the three prescriptions and knocking the pills out into his palm. He is always careful to show me what he gives me, and I appreciate it immensely. With a glass of water in hand, I toss the pills back and immediately drown them with enough water to make me sick. Tugging me to the bed, he lays down and pulls me into his side, rubbing at my scalp and even my belly, almost instantly disarming me and I can’t help but give a waterlogged laugh.

“I really am a fucking dog, aren’t I?”

“All you need is to shake your leg when it really feels good.” He jokes, and as if to help turn the moment into a freaking hilarious one, I do just that. He kisses me long and slow, then, pulling my brain to his lips, his body, and just as I crawl over him, we hear a loud crash and yelp from the kitchen.

“Shit!” We’re in unison, now, and both of us are up, “I forgot about dinner!” I add, and he laughs when we both come into the kitchenette to see Buddy covered in semi-warm spaghetti sauce, licking as much as he can off himself like he’s just so proud. Looks like another take-out night for us.

005. “Nothing Bad Is Going To Happen.” - Josh POV - Word Count: 313 - Rating: T - Warnings: Suggestive themes, paranoia, honeymoon, gay marriage

It wasn’t the best hotel money could buy, but Chris couldn’t have cared less. He told me that money didn’t matter, that he wanted to spend our honeymoon anywhere, as long as we were together. Really, he couldn’t have been more perfect if he tried. Sure, he was mad at me for a while, but… I’m so glad he isn’t anymore.

I decided to explore a little, check out the bathroom, see if I could figure out enough solid, flat surfaces to take him against, when I suddenly went still. The shower curtain was just slightly ajar, and my stomach turned into a bottomless pit of dread. Anyone or anything could be hiding in there, ready and waiting to do something terrible. I backed out of the room without turning on the light, and immediately glued myself to Chris’ side.

“Josh? What’s wrong?” He always knows when something’s up. I have to admit, he looks good with his brows furrowed in concern, though.

“I… Think something might be in the shower.” I told him, and he didn’t even falter for a second, a sweet smile trailed from his lips to his eyes, and he relaxed as he kissed my forehead.

“I’ll check it out, babe. Nothing bad is going to happen.” He whispered against the shell of my ear, and a shudder worked down my spine, watching him sidestep around me and head for the bathroom. I heard the rings on the curtain rod give an unhappy shriek as he yanked the curtain back, thoroughly inspecting everything before returning to me. “I didn’t see anything, except that that tube is huge.” He made a vague hand gesture, as if to show me just how large it was. I couldn’t help the lecherous grin that crawled onto my lips at that point.

“We should check it out a bit more intimately, then.”

006. “You’ve Got Me, Now.” - Chris POV - Word Count: 277 - Rating: K - Warnings: Anti-Gay!Chris’ Dad, Disowning, Emotional abuse

Everyone figured, with Josh’s illness and the constant threat of being taken over by an ancient Wendigo spirit, that I was the one doing all of the comforting. But even I get weak sometimes. It was a week after I had told my father, thankfully with Josh at my side, that we were together when I received the call. I didn’t get a single word in edgewise, and he left me a crying, shaking mess.

“I… Josh?” I peered into the bedroom, where my loving other half was busy rolling around with Buddy and making him make stupid faces by petting his head in weird angles.

“Yeah? What’s up, Angelfish?” He asked, turning to me, and I could tell he knew immediately that something was wrong. “Phone call go bad?”

“Y-yeah…” I don’t remember walking to him, I just remember curling up with him, “Dad… He, uh… He basically told me to never come back, that he disowned me… He’s taken anything I left to the pawn shop, and basically… Said I’m never allowed to be in their family again.” He took a few minutes to respond, but I was thankful for the hand carding through my hair.

“Well… Looks like you’ll just have to be in my family. I’ve wanted to ask you for a while, sexy, but would you become Mr. Chris Washington?” He was grinning as he spoke, and I couldn’t help but crawl up for a kiss, long and soul-searing.

“Of course.” I whispered against his lips, and he smiled a little softer.

“Good. Then forget your dad, you’ve got me, now.” I never thought I’d be so happy to hear those words.

007. “You’re Safe.” - Josh POV - Word Count: 226 - Rating: T - Warnings: AU - Canon Divergent, Josh Is Safe AU

I can feel the quaking in my hands spreading to the rest of my body as I realize I am totally alone. Hannah hasn’t come back, and it’s been too long… The sun rose, and she never came back. I couldn’t remember how long I laid among the bodies of people we’d once called friends, but I know exactly when my knight in shining armor came for me. Chris appeared like a man on a mission, pulling me close and holding me tight against his chest. He must have come back for me, he looks awfully clean for it to have been something more recent, but I don’t care, pressing my ear to his chest and clawing fabric out of my way so I can hear his heartbeat. It isn’t for a few moments that I realize he’s talking to me, but it seems more like a mantra than actually trying to converse.

“You’re safe… Oh my God, Josh, you’re safe.” I think we’re both crying, now, as he helps me to stand and we limp from the mines, heading back to the cable car so that we might get out safe and alive. I’ve never been more grateful to see him, and somewhere in there… I think I heard him say he loves me. This couldn’t have gone any better.

“I love you, too, Cochise.”

008. "I Won't Let Anything Hurt You." - Third Person POV - Word Count: 146 - Rating: K - Warnings: Coarse language, Arachnophobia

“Josh!” The call came from the bathroom, and the man that owned that name came running, dropping his food onto the counter before jogging towards the back of the apartment.

“Chris?” He questioned, only to find the younger male pointing dramatically at the bath tub.

“There’s a huge ass spider in the tub! Josh, kill it!” He pleaded, looking distraught and so very protectable at that moment. Josh grinned, puffing up his chest and nodding.

“I’ll save you, but you owe me some nookie after.” He winked, shaking off his new persona when he realized just how freaked out Chris must have been. “I won’t let anything hurt you, Angelfish, you know that.”

It was a swift death for the spider, spraying it with deodorant and then flushing it down the toilet, and Josh did, indeed, get his reward for a job well done.

009. "I'll Look After You." - Josh POV - Word Count: 248 - Rating: K - Warnings: AU - Josh in a mental hospital and Chris as a nurse AU, Patient/Nurse, Pre-Slash

This place is scary.

My parents decided I needed to go to a mental hospital for a bit, get things sorted out in a place that was more attuned to my needs… I’ve only been here for half an hour and I hate it already. Everyone else is standoffish or really strange, and the nurses and doctors all seem more ready to drug me into zombie-mode than actually help me. Of course, there’s one nurse, a pretty little blond thing with glasses, that keeps shooting me sidelong glances, and I can’t help but return the looks with an appreciating eye. He blushes, which is precious enough in its own right, but I swear it goes all the way down to his toes, and that makes me lick my lips.

I finally get closer to him, eyeing his current duty of folding extra blankets, before smirking, “I’m new, here. You think you can tell me who’s friendly?”

“New? Well, that makes sense.” He chuckles, “I’m Chris. And I’m pretty friendly. If nothing else, you must be Josh, and that makes me your nurse tonight.”

“Yeah? Then I should probably tell you I’m nervous to be here, and I always sleep better with someone else in bed with me.” I wink, and he goes a little more red and I can’t help but want to lick his cheek.

“I’ll look after you, then, Josh.” He tells me, and I can’t help but grin like the cat that got the cream.

010. "This Is Real, You Are Real." - Chris POV - Word Count: 144 - Rating: K - Warnings: Part Wendigo!Josh, Nightmares, Inability to tell fantasy from reality, Fluff

I feel it immediately. He shoots up in bed with a loud cry on his lips, reminiscent of the Wendigo’s cry. Groggily, I pull him close, and he’s pushing at my hands, but I don’t let him get away.

“Josh, Josh.” His panicking does amazing things to wake my mind up, and I tug him close, into my lap, holding him still until he stops thrashing. When he goes still, I pepper his back with kisses before nuzzling at his nec. “Another nightmare?”

“Y-Yeah… I… It was so real... Chris, I… Is this…?”

“This is real, Josh. You are real.” I tell him, and the tension seeps out of him like I cut his strings. “You’re safe here, with me.” I add, and he turns long enough to kiss me, before clinging to me and letting his hands wander to be sure.