It was raining again. Jensen rested his chin against his hand and glanced out of the window. It was dark and thoroughly miserable out there and he knew he'd have to stand and wait for his brother to show up whilst getting soaked to the bone. He'd called him at lunch and been told that Josh had to do something else before he could come pick Jensen up. Like Jensen didn't know that by 'something else' he meant his girlfriend, Cathy.
By the time the final bell rang the clouds outside had made good on their promise and the air smelt of the storm that was now above the town. Jensen waited until the majority of the other students had left and the hallway by his locker was nearly empty before he dared to leave the restroom. He knew if he was there when Doug and his crowd of followers happened by then the day would have a less than pleasant end. Especially considering the moment earlier that day when, in the one class he and Doug shared, the teacher had suggested that the football jock take some tips from Jensen and actually research his homework rather than just bash it out and hope his team status would excuse him.
Jensen had felt sick as soon as he heard that and he hadn't dared to look up from his desk for the rest of the class. When it was over he'd managed to stay behind and talk to the teacher until after the next bell sounded, not caring that he was several minutes late for the next class.
Now he stood outside the school gates, shivering in his thin jacket, his hair plastered to his skull and dripping rainwater down the back of his neck.
"Come on, Josh. Hurry up..." He muttered to himself, annoyed that his brother could leave him waiting like this when he could see fine and well that it was cold and wet out.
"Hey, if it isn't Ashwood's little lapdog."
Jensen thought his heart stopped. He didn't want to look up, but he couldn't help himself. Shit, he thought. Just walk away. So he quickly turned away from the school and started walking in the direction of home. He could hear Doug and his friends following and prayed that Josh would show up any moment.
"Where're you running off to, Ackles? Scared because you don't have a teacher backing you up now?"
"Leave me alone," Jensen said, quietly enough that he wasn't sure Doug would hear it.
"Nah. Not tonight. This is kind of my entertainment for the evening."
Jensen bit his tongue against pointing out that surely Doug had better social highlights than this. He picked up his pace a little, aware that Doug was only a few steps behind him now. He expected the next remark, too. The name didn't hurt any less.
"Slow down, faggot. We just want to talk."
In his coat pocket, Jensen's hand tightened around his cell phone. He needed to call his brother. Or Chris. Anyone to come and get him out of this. But he couldn't bring himself to get the phone out and call, knowing that such an action would only fuel Doug's mockery of him. He looked up briefly. There was a gas station at the end of the block and he hoped he could make it that far. The storm had emptied the streets of people and the traffic along this road now that all the school transports and students were gone was pretty minimal.
"Why're you running away, Jenny? You afraid?"
Jensen let out a strangled sound as Doug grabbed at the strap of his book bag and pulled it off his back. He had no choice now but to stop and try and get it back. He couldn't leave it behind. He wouldn't be able to explain the loss of all his books and homework to his father that easy. Telling him the truth was certainly not an option either.
"Please give it back, Doug?"
"Why? Afraid you'll disappoint Mr. Ashwood? Hey, Jensen, maybe if you suck his dick he'll just give you all 'A's anyway."
Jensen had nothing to say in return to that. He could only stand there as they laughed at him, hand held out as he waited for the return of his book bag.
"Maybe you already do, huh? Maybe that's why he likes you so much."
"Is that why you're jealous?" Jensen asked, finally having had enough of this. "You talk about sucking dick so much, makes me think you're curious."
"Shut the fuck up, Ackles," Doug growled, his face darkening instantly.
"Give me my books back."
Doug shook his head and, before Jensen could stop him, he'd tossed the bag into the road. It flew open when it hit the wet tarmac and books skidded out into the large puddles of water. Jensen stared at the mess, his stomach feeling like it was dropping through him. He tried to speak, but couldn't think. His father was going to kill him. Really. There was no way he could-
"Gonna cry, Jenny?"
He charged at Doug then, wanting to hurt him, but the jock's buddies got in the way, grabbing him by the arms and holding him back as he cursed Doug out.
"You kiss your momma with that mouth?" Doug asked, then sneered. "I guess a fag like you-" He didn't even manage to finish before Jensen struggled free and took a swing for him. The punch caught Doug by surprise, hurting him even though there was really little strength behind it. It also left Jensen off-balance and he wasn't prepared to hold himself up against the attack that followed. He fell to the ground after two hits and curled in on himself, holding his hands over the back of his head as two different booted feet kicked at his legs.
The noise of an engine was almost drowned out by their yelling and by the storm. Jensen lifted his head slightly thinking, Thank god, Josh.., and a second later a kick caught his jaw and his head thumped against the concrete.
When he came to, the others were gone. The street was empty and the right side of his face and neck were one warm itch that he groggily identified as clotting blood. It was still raining and his hands slipped as he tried to push himself up. Jensen managed to get to his feet, wobbled unsteadily, then dug into his pocket for his cell phone. The screen was cracked from his fall and the display was gone.
"Shit," he muttered, then he remembered the gas station he'd been trying to get to. They'd have a phone. He could call Josh to come and get him from there. His books, he could tell, were a lost cause. As soon as he was home and cleaned up he would call or e-mail his teachers and tell them he had been involved in an accident on his way home. No, he'd been mugged and hadn't seen who'd done it. That would work on his father, too.
Satisfied with the plan, Jensen began limping his way down the street.
Pulling the refrigerator door open, Jared paused for a moment and fingered the gun in his pocket. It was unloaded; he wasn't an idiot, but he still felt uncomfortable with it. He hoped this would be easy. Should be, he thought. This wasn't his first time. He wasn't used to this, by any means, and was nervous. Could feel the anxious churning in his gut as he slid the visor of his helmet up and let the cool air chill his face and calm him. Jared pulled out a six-pack and waited until the other clerk behind the desk headed out back for something. Then he started towards the front of the small store.
He'd just started pulling the gun free from his pocket when the bell above the door sounded and somebody walked in right in front of him. The newcomer turned and Jared saw him look down, saw the sudden flash in his eyes when he saw the gun handle.
"Oh, god.." The man groaned and Jared shook his head desperately, frowning. The guy looked in no shape to take him; one side of his face was bloodied up and there were dark shadows around both his eyes. But Jared didn't want him saying anything to warn the clerk, who was staring at the new arrival in shock.
"Hey buddy," the clerk said. "What the hell happened to you?"
"I was mugged. Is there a phone? I have to call my brother.."
Jared stumbled as the guy pitched sideways and fell against him, the impact knocking the gun from his hand. It clattered across the floor towards where the clerk had come out from behind his counter and the three of them froze, staring at it. Then the clerk yelled, "Call the cops!" to his colleague and darted forward. Jared grabbed the bloody stranger by the arm and raced through the open door, dragging him along.
"Don't! Just leave me alone and I won't hurt him any more!"
The clerk didn't back off, but he hesitated long enough that Jared managed to clamber onto his bike, pulling the guy on behind him. Thankfully, he felt the guy grip at his waist, and he quickly started the engine and pulled away, heading for home, his heart thundering. He didn't stop swearing the whole way back.
Jared rode straight into the open garage and stood the bike up, dragging the other man off it and onto the floor before hurrying over and shutting the garage door behind him. One moment later the door between the house and garage opened and, as expected, Jeffrey stood there.
"Jay, what in the name of God is going on?"
Jared tugged his helmet off, tossed it onto an armchair nearby. "I'm sorry man, okay, I swear I didn't do anything.."
"Oh, god, no." Jeffrey scrubbed his hands over his face, staring at Jared. "Not again. Tell me you didn't-"
"No! I got low on cash, I owed someone and-"
"You stole my gun? Is that it? When the fuck you gonna learn, boy?"
"I didn't take yours, all right?" Jared pointed over to his workbench, where Jeffrey's gun still sat. "I took a spare and it wasn't even loaded and, look, I didn't even do anything. I just dropped the gun by accident, and I didn't do anything. The guy saw it and freaked out, that's all, I swear. They can't do anything to me for that, right? Jeff?"
Jeffrey hesitated. "I don't know. No. Probably not. But you're not taking any chances."
"They didn't see my face, okay? I had my helmet on. And my gloves, so the gun's clean. They won't know it was me. Fuck." Jared stopped, clenching his hands into fists. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to mess up again."
"Damn straight you don't. We'll sort out this owing money shit later." He stopped at a groan that came from the floor behind Jared's bike. "What..who the hell is that?" He stepped further into the garage, to get a better look at their guest. Jared reached down and helped him up, moving his helmet so the guy could sit down.
"I don't know. He showed up just before. Interrupted me."
"Sounds like he saved you, then. Hey kid. Got a name?"
The guy tried to straighten up, holding his face, and nodded slowly.
"You want to share it with the rest of the class?"
"Jensen," came the feeble reply.
"He says he got mugged," Jared offered.
"Josh should be picking me up now," Jensen said, his voice no stronger.
"Yeah, well, I doubt Josh is headed here somehow. What's his number? We'll call him and tell him not to worry."
Jensen's eyes widened. "What? But..I have to go home. My Dad will-"
"You're going nowhere in that state," Jeffrey interrupted. "Let us patch you up first and then I'll give you a ride home. Jay, bring him in the house."
Jensen was doubtful about going anywhere with them, but he hurt just about everywhere and Jay's arm around him was strong and comforting. He let himself be led into the house where he was sat down at the kitchen table. Jeffrey got a first aid kit down from on top of his microwave and sat facing him, opening it up. He poured some iodine out onto cotton balls and Jensen flinched back as he started mopping at the blood on his face.
"You know, cuts to the face always look worse than they are," Jeffrey muttered. "Hold still." A firm hand came down on Jensen's shoulder, holding him steady while Jeffrey continued to clean him up. "Doesn't look much like a mugging to me." He looked Jensen in the eyes. "Looks more like a beating."
Jensen kept his mouth shut, looking away.
"Well, of course you don't have to tell us. But maybe if you did then we could help."
"No problem. You want to get dried off? Maybe I can-"
"I just want to go home," Jensen cut in.
"You know, you're kind of rude," Jared told him, letting go of his shoulder and pacing around the table.
Jeffrey shook his head. "Shut up. It's all right, the boy's just in shock. Hardly surprising. Anyway, that looks a lot better. How about you come on out to the car and I'll drive you home?"
Jensen gave him a grateful half-smile and got up to follow him out, leaving Jared stood in the kitchen, pissed off.