Take Good Care of the Poor Boy
Venom radio and venom televisionI'm afraid of everyone, I'm afraid of everyoneThey're the young blue bodiesWith the old red bodiesI'm afraid of everyone, I'm afraid of everyone- I'm Afraid of Everyone, The NationalChapter Thirteen: All Good Children
"You're a nice guy," Itey said with a smile, while Jack fiddled with the lock on his locker. "A wonderful, very, very, nice nice guy."
Jack smirked at him. "It's no big deal."
"You dropped me off at school on time, Jack, that is the most awesome thing ever."
Jack laughed. "You're the biggest nerd in the world. Besides Davey." Jack smiled to himself. "Davey's the supreme nerd King."
Itey decided that it was so nice of Jack to drive him that morning, and make it to school with five minutes to spare, that he should not crack a gay joke. Not crack a gay joke.
Not crack a...
"Supreme nerd queen?"
"Yeah, we're never gonna be on time again. Go away."
Itey decided it was kind of worth it. He laughed as he walked by Jack, and then felt his smile fade away when he saw the girl walking towards him with...purpose. Sarah, who was at her prettiest when she was at her most natural, looked very, very nice. She was bundled up in her winter clothing (probably had to wait for the bus since Jack didn't drive her anymore), wearing an adorable pink hat, and her cheeks were all flushed. But she looked very, very serious.
"Uh..." Itey started, but she gave him a dangerous look and continued by him. Itey hurried off.
Jack glanced to his right, then snorted and went back to his lock. "Fucking thing..." he spat at the lock.
"Jack, I have something to say."
"Good for you." Though Jack couldn't help but notice just how pretty Sarah looked with her cheeks flushed and her big, wooly hat and scarf on.
"Jack, I was thinking about… you and me," she said, pushing her way between him and his locker door, so he had to look at her.
"Right, there is no you and me," Jack reminded her. "You cheated on me."
"You cheated right back," she pointed out.
"No, I broke up with you, then, as I was single, decided to play the field. I didn't cheat, we were broken up."
Sarah scowled. "That's only a technicality."
"No, it's actually pretty much true. You slept with Carl when you and I were dating. I slept with Mandy after we broke up. Not even close to the same thing."
Sarah sighed and looked down at her feet. Even her winter boots were cute. "You're right," she said.
"I know I am," Jack answered.
"Everyone knows you are," Sarah said sadly. "It's written in the boys' locker room, don't pretend you haven't seen it."
"Seen… seen what?" Jack asked.
"Jack, you lift weights every other day, you must have seen it. I don't want to talk about it."
"I went in and looked. In the boys' locker room, by the showers—"
"I never shower at school, those showers are gross." Jack said. "What does it say?"
"Someone wrote on the wall."
"Yeah… that happens a lot. What…"
"It says I'm a slut, Jack. I went in yesterday to scrub off my phone number. We've been getting calls." Sarah crossed her arms over her stomach and slumped against the closed locker. Not knowing what Jack would say.
But Jack stared at her. "Who wrote it?"
"I don't know—"
"No one gets to call my girl that!"
"I thought I wasn't your girl anymore?" she asked.
Jack stopped, like that hadn't occurred to him.
"Well..." Jack trailed off. "Uh...I just..."
Sarah was looking up at him, and she blinked, and he'd forgotten how long her eyelashes were.
"Jack?" she said, and her voice suddenly sounded very full and sad. Like she was going to cry. "I'm really, really sorry..."
Jack melted, a little.
Especially when she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his middle, sniffling into his shirt. Which meant she was crying.
Jack didn't quite hold her back, but he did wrap one arm around her waist.
"You're not a slut," he murmured.
"Yes, I am..."
"No, you're not."
"I'm really sorry..."
"Shhh..." Jack knew that by this time, probably one cheerleader must have spotted them hugging each other like this, which meant news would be around the school by noon that they were 'back together'.
Which didn't bother him too much.
"I'll find out who wrote that," he said. "Okay?"
Sarah was quiet for a moment, before she said, "You're a little taller."
Jack kind of smiled. "...Really?"
"Just a bit."
"Oh." He pulled away from her. She looked up at him, sniffled. "Sorry, babe, but you're exactly the same. You know. Cute. Smell nice. It's a shame, really."
Sarah smiled and laughed a little. Jack had forgotten her laugh was so cute.
"Don't do it again, okay?" he mumbled. "It really, really sucked, Sarah."
"I know," she said. "I was drunk and, like, mad at you, and Carl was… I don't know. I was stupid. I'm so sorry, Jack."
"Yeah, well. I can't just say it's okay, but… I care about you, so just don't do it again, and we'll… be fine. Once I find out who wrote that and kill him."
"What?" he asked. "It's my right… my obligation to find out who wrote that about you." He leaned down and kind of tentatively kissed her cheek. "So I guess this means we're back together?"
"I'd like that." She leaned her head on his shoulder. "I'd like to see Sean's face when you tell him."
Jack snorted. "That's just mean."
"Fair enough." He took her hand. "Come on, babe, I'll walk you to class."
Sean's face twisted into a grimace. "They're back together?! Aw, fuck."
Blink snickered. "Don't like sharing your brother?"
"Not with a whore."
Itey, the bearer of the news, sighed. "Don't call her that, Jack'll freak if he hears you. Someone wrote her number in the locker room, he wants to find out who."
"Carl," Blink said immediately. They both stared at him. "What? I was skipping out the back door and saw him doing it. I wanted to tell him off, but I wanted to skip gym more."
"Well, someone better report to Jackass, then," Sean said.
"We can't have Jack going around beating people up," Itey said, opening up his lunch bag.
"Why not?" Sean scoffed.
"He's...strong, when he's mad," Itey said.
"Jack has no restraint," Blink continued. "He gets, like..."
"Like a bronzed god," Dutchy finished, sitting down next to Sean and grabbed one of Itey's juiceboxes.
"Don't call Jack that ever again," Blink said, making a disgusted face.
"Says the guy who hits on him high."
"Well, I quit smoking!"
Sean glanced at Blink. "You what?"
"Quit pot," Blink said.
Sean considered him for a moment. Then shrugged. "Good."
"So who's gonna tell Jack that it was Carl?" Dutchy asked. Everyone looked at him. "What? Everyone knows."
"You're not everyone, you wiry uggo," Sean said.
Dutchy ignored him. "I heard Jessica talking about it with her friends."
"You stalker," Itey said.
"I'm not a--"
"I guess I'll tell him," Blink said.
"No, Ryan!" Itey insisted. "No more stupid fights!"
"But Bronzed God Jack..." Dutchy trailed off.
"Guys," Itey interrupted. "Promise you won't tell Jack."
"Funny, coming from you," Blink said. "You're supposed to be the good one. You'd never call a girl a slut."
"I know, but… Jack'll get into a fight."
"With someone who deserves it," Blink said.
Itey sighed. "Don't tell, please?"
"He'll find out anyway."
"I won't tell," Blink said, and looked at the others.
Dutchy sighed. "I won't, but I'm following Jack to see when he gets word and gets all hot."
Itey looked pleadingly at Sean, who snorted. "Like I care if someone called Jackass's whore girlfriend a slut?"
Which meant he wouldn't tell. Itey blinked. Sean was being… totally human lately. Ever since he ran away, or even a little before. And even if he wasn't nice, he was seriously not horrible any more. Relatively. For Sean.
"You don't have to call her a whore," Blink pointed out. "That's almost as bad. Unless…" He smirked. "You're upset because she was mean to your brother."
"Shut up, Jack can take care of himself, anyway," he muttered. But he didn't deny that Jack was his brother. Itey smiled a little.
There were ten minutes left of class, and it seemed Jack didn't know yet who had written in the boys' showers. Which was kind of a relief. However, someone had wised Carl up on the fact that Jack was on the look out. And despite his big talk, Carl knew very well that Jack was considerably bigger than him. So Carl was hoping to make a quick exit as soon as the bell rang. He had it on good authority that Jack's last class was on the other end of the hallway from his, so if Carl hurried, he'd be clear.
Hopefully, though, no one told Jack it was him. And if they did, well...Carl could run very fast. And he could carry a baseball bat or something. Normally, he'd get Steve to help out or something, but Steve had been laying low since he'd gotten in trouble for fighting before. Carl glanced at the clock. And made sure his backpack was zipped up and ready to go.
Jack still had no idea who it was that had written the comments about Sarah in the showers. It was killing him, because it seemed like all of his friends knew something (since they were all bad liars) and no one was giving him any news.
He swore, and slumped in his seat. Next to him, Jessica gave a look of concern, and finally sighed. She leaned over.
"Sean told me you were okay, or that I…misjudged you, or something, and uh..."
Jack glanced up from his desk. "Oh. Gee. I'm so glad." Granted, he was a little glad. Now he could check out Jessica all he wanted without her looking at him like he was a perverted predator.
"And uh...Sean told me who wrote about Sarah on the--"
Jack scooted his chair next to hers in seconds, causing the entire class to turn their heads. His teacher folded his arms. "Problem, Kelly?"
There was a pause, until the class continued.
"Who?" Jack asked.
Carl stared down the clock. 3...2...1...
Carl booked it to the door, threw it open, and into the hall.
Right into Jack Kelly's chest. Jack grabbed his arm and shoved him against the lockers, and Carl, who was half a head shorter, winced. "Jack!"
"What?" Jack snarled. "You shit, you manipulate a drunk girl and then call her a slut behind her back and—"
"Hey!" Carl yelled, trying to worm his way out of Jack's grip, but it didn't work. "I didn't—I didn't manipulate her! She came on to me—"
Jack slammed him back against the lockers. "Yeah, right," he snarled into Carl's face.
Carl finally twisted out of Jack's grip and tried to retreat, but a wall of students had formed around them. It was only moments until the chanting began. With no other options, Carl clenched a fist and took a swing at Jack. It went wide and Jack moved easily, then walloped Carl with a fist of his own. Carl winced and tripped, and in a second Jack was on him, punching him hard in the face.
The voice ripped through the crowd, it belonged to Mr. Thibbs. Everyone fell silent as he shoved his way through the group. Jack preemptively stood up, and left Carl on the floor, bleeding.
"Talk about her again, and you're dead," Jack snarled, even as he was hauled off to the office. Behind him, Sarah was looking more thrilled than horrified, and Sean smirked. Dutchy sighed dramatically and Itey rolled his eyes.
"You're right," Blink said to Dutchy, nodding. "Bronze God. I want a boy who's ripped enough to do that if someone ever calls me a slut."
"I thought you wanted a girl with a dick?" Sean asked.
"Why shouldn't my nice, feminine boy be buffer than Jack? It's just a fantasy anyway." Blink sighed. "A nice one, though."
"Well, I guess we're done here," Dutchy said, but Sean grabbed his wrist.
"Carl's getting up."
Which was funny, since no one helped him, and no teachers had stuck around to be of any assistance, so Carl wobbly made his way to a standing, slumped position, wiped his mouth (where there was some blood, from a split lip) and started to hobble off.
Until Sarah kicked him in the shin, then ran off giggling with her friends. Then he fell to the ground again.
Itey glanced at Dutchy, Blink and Sean. "This is a really, really violent school."
Jack, despite the Bronzed God glory, did have to face reality.
"What the hell, kid?" Denise demanded. Jack shifted in his seat. "I don't think it was great of this jerk to write about Sarah either, you know, sure, he's an ass, but can't you think? Do you always have to act like a kid?"
"He called Sarah names..."
"Jack..." Denise sighed. "I understand, I do, but...well, you can't handle all of your problems like this. You really can't. I respect you, and you're starting to give me reasons not to." Jack looked at her, wide eyed. "I love you, kid, but you're really trying my patience lately."
"I said, pretty specifically, not one week ago—I said, no more fighting, either one of you. What's gotten into you, Jack?"
Jack crossed his arms. "They were calling her house, Mom. Someone called and yelled 'slut!' into the phone at Esther, and they think it's some big joke! David said they unhooked their phone yesterday, the fucking basketball team wouldn't stop calling!"
"Be that as it may," Denise said, forcing herself to take deep breaths, "you're grounded. So it's good that you and Sarah got back together. I hope she'll wait for you, because it's two weeks."
"Mom, that's so unfair!"
"No, it's not."
He crossed his arms and scowled. "Two weeks? But Blink is having a party this weekend!"
"Which you will not be attending." She crossed her arms firmly.
"Sean!" Denise greeted Sean, as he walked into the house. "I talked with Jared and Dr. Manuel today; they said it's okay to lift the ban on you being home alone."
"It's irrelevant, however, because Jack will be home at all times he's not in school for the next two weeks."
Sean snorted. "Carl had it coming."
"Fighting is not the answer!" Denise half-yelled. "You two, I swear…"
Sean looked at Jack, then back at Denise, and said, "If you don't let his boyfriend come visit, he'll keep us up at night, crying. I'm out."
"Where are you going?"
"Blink's," Sean said. "Should I send over Davey-wavey when he gets there?"
Jack scowled and looked at Denise. Who glowered, but said, "Fine. David can come visit. No one else! Two weeks, only David, no going out! And only because David is a good influence.”
Jack grinned. "You're so cool, Mom."
"Jack, you… just behave yourself, for god's sake," she snapped. "Sean, don't encourage him."
"Like I have to," Sean answered. "Bye, Jackass."
"Have fun," Jack sulked.
Itey thought he had his mind made up, until he'd walked into the locker room. He thought he was ready to just deal with all the bullshit, and pretend he didn't hear all the crappy comments about him, and more importantly, his friends. Because Itey really, really liked basketball.
But the moment Carl and Steve saw him, he knew he couldn't handle this.
"What the hell, Enrique?" Carl snapped, his voice cracking. "You and your fucking faggot friends!"
"I..." Itey breathed. "Listen, you shouldn't have said that about Sarah..."
"She came on to ME, you stupid fuck!" Carl snarled.
"Listen, I'm not here to explain them, or anything, okay, and I shouldn't have to," Itey said. "You deserved it."
Carl laughed, and Steve came in behind him. "Listen, Lopez, if you're on the team, you're part of OUR team, so tell Kelly to calm the fuck down before we really get pissed off."
Steve and Carl turned around then, and walked towards their lockers. Itey was distinctly aware of everybody's eyes on him. And it made him so uncomfortable he could barely stand it. Fuck it. He didn't like basketball this much.
"No. Jack does what he likes. And so do I."
Steve stopped, and glanced back at Itey. "Oh shut up, panty waste, you've been the team bitch since you were a benchwarmer."
"I'm not a benchwarmer anymore, you know," Itey said, the words coming out of him before he had a chance to stop that. "Because I'm as good as you, plus I'm not an asshole, so I'm pretty sure I'm a lot more useful than you are."
Steve stopped smiling then. "WHAT did you say?"
Itey gulped. "I--"
"I don't hate you, Enrique, so take my advice and keep it that way, and shut up," Steve said through clenched teeth.
Itey bit his lip. Everyone was staring at him, but he still had a chance to shut up and pretend it hadn't happened. Steve knew how he felt now, and would probably be an asshole to him for it, but he could shut up and still stay on the team. Just like at work, when he shut up and didn't report the manager who treated him like shit. Until Sean had spoken up.
Itey thought about Sean and Blink. His friends, who Steve hated for no real reason. And Jack was on his shitlist too, and Dutchy would be if Steve had any idea that Dutchy loved Jess. Steve, who was such a dick to Jess all the time…
So Steve was saying he had to pick a side. Itey reached for the hem of his practice jersey, which he'd been putting on, and pulled it back over his head. He threw it down at Steve's feet. "If this is your team and that's how you treat people, I don't want to be a part of it," he said.
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"It means you need a new team bitch." He reached for his backpack and his coat, and glared at Steve. "And my name is Gabriel, you fucking bigot."
He pushed past Steve and Carl and the rest of the team, and left his jersey on the floor. And apparently, stunned everyone else so much that they didn't say anything at all.
Dutchy was just getting ready to head into the gym, to watch Itey and his team practice (Dutchy's Itey kick had gotten particularly bad), when he saw Itey storming down the hall, jerseyless, and most definitely angry.
"Gabe?" Dutchy said, and Itey walked right by him. Dutchy quickly followed. "Practice?"
Dutchy stopped in his tracks. "You what?"
"Because Sean and Jack and all of you have balls to stick together, and to stand up to these shitheads, and it's time I did too."
Dutchy stopped for a moment. And watched Itey walk away. He'd never seen Itey so hot and bothered and mad before.
So Dutchy grinned and enjoyed the view...until Itey turned around, yelped, covered his ass with his backpack, and said in his same old, almost whiney voice, "DUTCHY! Cut it out!"
Dutchy hurried and caught up with him. "Sorry, but you're hot when you're defiant."
"God! I just hate them all!" Itey growled and shoved open the doors to the school, and Dutchy followed him out quickly. "Come on, we're gonna go practice. Is Blink home? Of course Blink's home. Good."
"You don't want to… like, put on a jacket?" Dutchy asked, sounding kind of concerned. There was snow and ice on the ground, and Itey was parading around in an undershirt. Which was hot, but still.
"I'll put on a jacket in the car!"
"Gabe, Jack gave us a ride today, and he's already home and grounded. No ride for us," Dutchy reminded him.
"Yeah, well… Damn it!" Itey kicked a trashcan angrily, then froze. "Ow ow ow son of a bitch, ow, Dutchy, why did you let me do that?!"
Dutchy tried not to laugh, as he took Itey's bag from his hands and held out his jacket. "What did they say to you?" he asked. "To make you this mad?"
"Do you think I'm everyone's bitch?"
Dutchy blinked. "No. But if we're talking a gay sex orgy kind of way, you could be my bitch. Or I could be yours. Whichever makes you more comfortable, Itey."
"Dutch, get your hand off my ass!"
"You are so hot when you're angry."
"I'm bored, fairy," Sean muttered.
Blink shrugged. "Well, I have to stick around and wait for Itey to finish practice, and for Dutchy to finish watching him practice, and until then, I'm doing homework. Sorry."
"I came out for this?"
Blink smiled. "You came out to see me," he sang.
"Spotty is my best friend!"
"He wants to love meee!"
Sean picked up an empty bottle and chucked it at Blink. Luckily, Blink picked up his binder in time and blocked the attack.
"Sean! That could have really hurt me!"
"Well, it didn't."
Blink pouted at him. "You're an ass."
Blink sighed as he set the binder back on the table. "So Jack's grounded, huh?"
"His wife is allowed to come over, so it's barely grounding."
Blink nodded, then paused. "So..." he finally said. "Do you think Jack and David..."
"Have sex? No, but only because David's too shy and Jack's too self absorbed. Want to? Fuck yeah."
"Okay." Blink nodded. "Sean, I'm really horny."
"Don't change topics like that! I don't want to fucking hear about it, fairy! You go on about this all the fucking time!"
"I really want a boyfriend. I don't care if he's more butch than me—"
"Blink, you psycho, everyone is more butch than you. You wear girls' pants!"
"Because they make my ass look fantastic!" Blink objected, sounding catty.
"Jesus, you are such a fucking woman. Just get the operation done and have done with it."
Blink made a face. "They do get the fabulous clothes… but boobs are gross."
Sean snorted. "You've never touched one. It was…" He trailed off, shuddering.
"Yeah, can't believe you had sex with a girl."
"At least I've had sex."
"With a girl."
"And a guy. Unlike you, who will never get any. Ever."
Blink sighed and leaned back on the garage couch. "I really need a boyfriend, Sean."
"I'm not fucking volunteering!"
"Not you! Ew, I need a boyfriend who's sweet. Or at least not… you."
"Look, either go out and meet someone or stop whini—"
"Itey yelled at Steve and Carl!"
Dutchy and Itey strode into the garage. Dutchy was dancing along cheerfully, but Itey looked pissed off.
"He quit the team," Dutchy said, as Itey flopped down on the couch. "He told off Steve and he quit the team!"
"Wow, Gabriel has testicles." Sean looked at Blink. "Looks like you can scratch him off your list of guys as wussy as you."
"Screw you, Spot. Itey, what happened?"
Itey sighed and tried to relate the story. Dutchy provided enthusiastic details, even though he hadn't seen it. And Sean and Blink were both duly impressed.
"Itey, this is a promise," Blink said, "at my next party, we are getting you laid."
"You can't even get yourself laid," Sean snorted.
"I know way more straight girls than gay guys!" Blink snapped back.
"I, uh, don't really want help with that," Itey mumbled. "Can we just practice?"
"Come on, I know tons of girls who think you're cute," Blink said. "Jessica thinks you're cu--"
"No!" Dutchy bellowed.
There was an awkward pause, before Blink continued. "And she has this little blond friend who says she likes nice guys."
"Listen, I already told you. I'm just not interested in any of those girls."
"'Cause they're sluts, Lopez?"
"Sean!" Itey yelped. "No, they're all nice, and you know...I mean, they're nice-looking, and I notice, but I don't wanna date any of them."
"You notice girls?" Dutchy asked.
"Of course I do ," Itey said.
"...Do you masturbate, Itey?"
"Come off it, he does, the quiet ones always do it the most," Sean said, standing up and stretching. "If you're gonna play your shitty music, I'm going home."
"It's not shitty!" Blink said defensively.
"It is, fairy, but look on the bright side." Sean slapped his hand on Blink's shoulder. "You're the shittiest."
And he walked out of the garage.
"Maybe it was better when he didn't talk," Blink muttered childishly.
"You masturbate!" Dutchy crowed, grabbing Itey around the middle and picking him up. "I'm so proud of you!"
"Put me down!"
"I thought you were asexual, it's so hot, you masturbate!"
"Put me down Dutchy, I swear to god I can feel everything when you hold me this close."
"I wonder if he always has a hard on," Blink mused.
"I hate you both!" Itey whined.
Jack glanced up from the television screen when the door opened. "Mom?" he called tentatively.
"Calm down, idiot, it's me," Sean said, shutting the door with his foot and taking off his boots. Jack noticed that Sean never used to take off his shoes when he entered the house.
"She went out grocery shopping. She only does that in the evenings when she's mad."
Sean walked into the living room and slumped onto the couch. "What are we watching?"
"Nothing. Just flipping."
"Shouldn't you be out with your bestest friend?"
"Mm." Jack flipped channels mindlessly. "Let's see what's on… cartoons, sitcom, news… sitcom, soap opera…"
"So many different words for crap."
Jack laughed. "Mom's really mad at me," he finally confessed, still flipping.
Sean nodded. "Yep."
"Sometimes I think she'll like...stop being my mom. You know, as soon as I'm old enough to live on my own. Since she's not my real mom."
Sean looked over at him. "That's fucking stupid."
Jack kind of laughed. "I don't think it as much anymore. Just like, sometimes, when I don't feel like being responsible and all that. And I'd rather sit around and wallow."
Sean shrugged. "Yeah, well...you punched a guy 'cause he was an asshole, not because you're like, crazy in the head. She'll get over it."
"Shut the fuck up, Jackass, she'll get over it."
Jack sighed. "Yeah. Ooh." He lowered the remote. "I love these case file shows."
Sean kind of sneered. "What, this like...criminal stuff?"
"Yeah, analyzing what all these crazy, murdering, serial killer types do, it's--"
"That's trash, change the channel."
"No!" Jack protested childishly. "Come on, let me watch it."
Sean crossed his arms. "Fucking change it, you fucking idiot."
"Okay, uh," Jack said. "Can you go an entire day without defensively swearing?"
"Just change the channel."
"Leave if you don't wanna watch, I love this stuff."
Sean swore, and stood up. "Jackass--"
Jack glanced up at him. "What, you want to hang out with me?" Sean was quiet. "'Cause I mean...I dunno, if you really want me to change it, I'll--"
Then he heard the TV commentary: "…We'll be profiling one of the most prominent, and infamous cases, that of Matthew Jeffery Conlon. Conlon lived most of his life in upstate New York, and through fifteen deaths, including taking the lives of New York Police Officers Philip Garden and Roberta Lichston--"
"Turn this shit off," Sean said, his voice suddenly low, but thin, and very, very serious.
Jack glanced at the television, raising the remote, when suddenly, pictures of Matthew Jeffery Conlon and his family appeared on the screen.
And he may have been young, and his hair wasn't dyed dark, but it was the same wide eyes and heavy, burdened scowl.
Jack looked at Sean, dropped the remote and his hands shot to his mouth in shock.
But Sean didn't say anything. He was staring at the television, the same expression on his face as the picture on the screen. Before it flickered to images of Matthew Jeffery Conlon, and photos of dead people, and experts on brains, and historians on what he'd done to people, and his family, his wife and little boy...
"Your dad is...I didn't...think..." Jack reached forward. "Sean? Is that you? It's...um..."
"If I say it's not me, will you just change the channel?" Sean asked, his voice sounding… thin. And young. And seriously scared.
Jack dove for the remote and turned the TV off, then turned to face Sean. Sean looked pale and shaken.
"Are you… okay?" Jack asked.
Sean went kind of green, and just made it to the kitchen trash before he threw up. Jack followed him quickly and had a glass of water ready when the puking stopped. But usually when Sean threw up, he was scowling and pissed off afterwards. This time, he just sat there and stared ahead at the ground.
"They changed my name, for awhile," Sean mumbled. "Because no one wants the son of a psycho. What if I end up like him?" He shook his head. "But someone always fucking figures it out. Then they freak. Every goddamn time someone figures it out."
Sean looked in Jack’s eyes. "Jack, I actually like it here. If you freak out on me, I swear to fucking god…"
"Hey," Jack said, and put a hand on Sean's shoulder. "I could give a fuck who your dad is, okay?"
"Yeah, right. I didn't fucking want you to know!"
"I'm sorry," Jack said. "Do you want to—"
"No, I don't fucking want to talk about it!"
"He… he did shit to me, Jack," Sean mumbled, barely audible. "It was fucking… hell. And they wouldn't fucking execute him because he got off on insanity. He's in a fucking hospital somewhere and they think they can fucking cure him but he's just… he just… fuck!"
"It's..." Jack stopped. It's what? Okay? It wasn't. It really wasn't.
Jack had thought that Sean was like him. Bad childhood. Fucked up home. But...this was beyond anything Jack could have ever imagined. This was beyond unfair. And it occurred to him that considering how fucked up everything must have been for Sean...
He must have been pretty strong, because he'd come kind of far. In Jack's opinion. Sean could have easily been a lot meaner, a lot more dangerous than he was. But he wasn't.
"Fuck..." Sean jammed the palms of his hands into his eyes. Spit and bile were still hanging off of his lip. "It's like some days I almost think I wasn't fucking there ever, I was here or someplace else and it never fucking happened..."
Jack felt his heart start to beat very quickly. Trembling, he placed his hand, gently, on Sean's back. But he didn't say anything. He just rubbed up and down, slowly.
"He's so scary and fucking bad...he's, I...I don't...and my mom...I, uhn...nnn!" And Sean's head jerked and he threw up again into the trashcan, coughing and choking and spitting and vomiting.
Jack bit his lip and tried to breathe as normally as possible. But for some reason he was scared, too.
He didn't know what to do.
"You fucking tell anybody..." Sean muttered. "And...and I..." he raised his head. His eyes were a little blood shot, and his mouth was red and wet. And he looked so terrified, as if his father was going to jump out of Jack's skin and trap him.
The threat in Sean's voice died away and became quiet, and vulnerable. "Please don't tell anyone."
Jack shook his head, and when Sean vomited again, Jack realized that he couldn't stop shaking it.
"I won't," Jack finally said. "Okay, I won't. Ever. No one. No one has to know. But, uh… does… does Denise…"
"Yeah," Sean said. He rubbed at his eyes again. "They told her when she… when she asked for the worst, most fucked up kid they needed placement for."
"I'm sure you're not—"
"Then who goddamn is?" Sean yelled. "Jack… Jack, you don't even goddamn know, okay? You don't goddamn know!"
"Okay, I don't," Jack said, trying to stay calm. "I… I don't, at all. But I know that you're… whatever happened, you're past it, and you're here now. And me and Mom, we care about you. And we won't let anyone hurt you, okay?"
"I'm not afraid of—" Sean stopped abruptly. He was afraid. He was terrified. They both knew it.
"Shit," Sean said, and retched again.
"Do you want me to… call someone?" Jack asked softly.
"Like, call someone? A doctor? You're… puking and shaking and…"
Sean shook his head quickly. He wiped his mouth and spat in the trash can, then hung his head and pulled his knees up to his chest. Jack stared a little. Sean was so… small.
"Okay…" Jack said desperately. "Just—just tell me what to do. Please, Sean, I don't want to screw this up. I don't know what to do, but I want to… to help."
He didn't expect Sean to say anything, but he began to talk.
"On my birthday, he… he took me into the garage. He said all this fucked up shit about not growing up to be… evil. Like. I don't know." Sean's voice was haunted, hollow. "He had this… woodshop kind of thing. He showed me this drill. For boring into wood, it had this point on the end. It was a power tool. He showed me how it worked."
Jack listened, suddenly terrified himself.
"He told me. He said if I ever…" Sean gasped for breath. "He'd kill me. He said if I grew up to be evil. He held me down and put the fucking thing against my neck and he…"
Sean Conlon didn't cry. But he did grab Jack and bury his face in Jack's shoulder.
"It was a long time ago, Sean."
"It's the scar below my ear," Sean mumbled. Jack didn't look for it, though. Just pulled his arms tighter around Sean's skinny, fragile frame.
"He won't… he can't hurt you anymore."
"He laughed," Sean said, his voice breaking. "He held the fucking drill to my neck and he laughed and said good boys don't scream. Good boys don't scream and if I was bad he'd k-kill me and…"
"Shit," Sean said, shaking. "Shit, Jack."
"Listen," Jack said, holding Sean closer to him, feeling much older, and less like a teenaged boy. He didn't think about how he felt at all...only Sean.
His little brother.
"Listen, Sean," Jack's voice cracked, but he kept going. "I won't let anyone fucking near you, okay?" Sean was shivering, a little. "I'll do anything I can...oh my god, Sean, I promise, okay? And I promise I won't ever hurt you. Or laugh at you. Or scare you."
Sean didn't say anything. He just hunched closer into Jack.
"We're your family now, okay?" Jack mumbled. "They're gone."
And Sean, so quiet Jack could barely hear, but could feel the rumbling against his neck, said, "Okay..."
They stayed like that for awhile.
Thank you for de-lurking, and happy belated holidays indeed! :D (We are... nearly done with the fic. But I think the next chapter is going to be too long for one LJ post. Whoops...)