Getting up from his 'worship' of the porcelain god, Jason stumbled out of the bathroom with Ronan's help the whole way, dropping by the sink to rinse his mouth out quickly on the way. Lara was sitting in one of the chairs, looking concerned, but remained uncharacteristically silent, anger rising in her eyes as she looked at Jason. "I'm sorry..." he apologized in a whisper.
"Sorry?" the heat in her voice could boil lava, and as she continued the derision could have stripped paint from the walls. "You're... sorry?!"
"Lara!" Ronan snapped.
"No, on this subject I know better Ronan, you know that as well as I do!" Standing up, she walked over to Jason and grabbed him by the jaw. "You have nothing -- nothing! -- to be sorry about. What happened to you was not your fault!"
"How could you know, you... you!" Jason lashed out, voice strengthening.
"I know what I know," Lara met his venom with her own. "I know trauma such as yours -- I know it all too well! -- and I recognize it. Whatever you may have done -- whatever mistakes you may have made -- it is not your fault. I'm quite sure Ronan has told you that already. Both he and I, and others, will tell you it as often as it takes until you thrice-damned well believe us!"
"How dare you assume you know what happened to me!" Jason raged, muscles trembling as anger lent them sudden strength. "How dare you come into my life and make judgments!"
"Because it's what you need!" she shot back, her tone verbally batting aside his attack as beneath contempt.
Ronan stood back and watched, shocked. "Lara, he still hasn't-"
"It doesn't matter Ronan, trust me on this," Lara said hotly. "I know, as always."
"You know nothing!" Jason raged, pointing at her -- the first physical emphasis he'd used in this conflict. Anger began to redden his vision.
"I know more than you think, young man, and if you happen to be wise you'll listen to me!"
"Oh really, bitch? You think you know so much, what do you think happened to me, hmm?"
"Nothing you deserved, nothing you caused, nothing your fault!" she prodded back. Ronan got a suddenly thoughtful look on his face, and shot her a look she couldn't miss. She acknowledged it with a quick, shallow nod -- more of a subtle twitch -- as Jason rebutted.
"Oh, you know so little. I was fucking raped, and you think you know what happened to me?!" Jason paused, startled.
"And no rape victim has ever deserved that. It's not the victims fault, it's the attackers. Always." Lara's voice was suddenly absent all the heat, but lost none of its power.
"I... I..." Jason stuttered. "I didn't mean that!" he croaked out hastily. "I wasn't... I couldn't have been!"
"You could. And clearly, you were." Lara advanced inexorably. "I won't push you on this for now, but you need to talk. You need to admit what happened -- to yourself as much as anyone else, it would seem -- before you can begin healing. Part of that will be facing down your attacker. Not in real life, though that couldn't hurt, but in your own mind. That helps, believe me it-"
"What the fuck do you know about it!" Jason snapped. "I'm the one that was fucking raped!"
"So was she," Ronan ground out. "And this has gone on long enough. You will keep a civil tongue in your mouth when you address her, do you-"
Lara wheeled on him. "Shut. Up. Now." Her voice held such venom it forced Ronan back a step. "Might I suggest you leave us be while we finish this?"
Looking between the two of them, Ronan shook his head. "He might attack you."
"Do you really think I need your protection, Ronan"? Her voice just dripped scorn, and Jason snapped his eyes back to her. He had to weigh at least twice what she did, so for her to be so sure...
"No, I'm quite sure you don't need protection from him. The reverse..." Lara simply smiled, and laughed.
"Ronan, after all this time you still-"
"Your control is... far from perfect." Jason didn't miss the barest flicker of Ronan's eyes towards him. "Even if you don't mean to..."
"He hardly needs your protection," she emphasized the word 'your' oh so slightly, but Jason still caught it, and the undercurrents were pretty unmistakable. If completely enigmatic, still, he knew the solution to Gordian's Knot!
"What the hell are you two talking about?"
Both of them paused, before Ronan said very carefully, subtly emphasizing one particular word. "I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, yes you do!" Jason spat back.
"It would be most unwise to call me a liar," Ronan grumbled.
"Fine. Don't give me cause to!"
Ronan stalked out, slamming the front door, and Lara rounded on Jason, even as he followed suite and slammed the door to "his" bedroom.
Lara glanced between the two doors and sighed. "Men!" Pounding on Jason's door first, she opened it to find him curled up in bed, shaking. Sighing again, she pulled the covers up from his feet, and lying down beside him, covered them both. Holding him tight, she stroked his hair softly. "It'll be fine, Jason, everything will be fine..." Straightening out a little, Jason rolled over into her embrace, and wept.
"How could I do that? How could I let that happen?" he just kept muttering things in the same vein, and she didn't bother to alter her reply as she repeated again and again that all was fine, all would be fine. Eventually, he stopped shaking and could actually talk. "How could I do that to him?"
"How could he do that to you!" she replied back.
"What?" Jason spluttered. "I'm not talking about the rape, I'm talking about Ronan!"
"So am I, my dear, so am I," Lara smiled. "Simply put, Ronan should have kept his nose out of our business. Interrupting the way he did was a mistake. And both of us screwed up, carrying on with our argument in front of you when we really didn't want to discuss its meaning with you."
"You both have secrets, I shouldn't have-" Jason began.
"You had every right to be curious!" Lara cut him off. "It's human."
"He was so angry..." Jason shivered, clutching tight to her.
"The hot fire burns fast. He'll calm down," Lara answered his unspoken fear, "just give him a little while." Jason sighed, and suddenly realized his position. Jerking away, he opened his mouth to apologize. Lara beat him to the punch, "Feeling better? Everyone needs a cuddle now and then, and I don't mind." Jason shut his mouth with a clop, and met her sudden grin with a tenuous smile. "Now, I believe Ronan said you needed to find a job?"
"I-" Jason began, then simply nodded as she stood up.
"Good. From what Ronan said, I think he was thinking of hiring you as a janitor. Not the best of jobs -- pay won't be great -- but you can get away with being surly and emotional by the simple expedient of refusing to talk to anyone. And before you ask, yes, I speak from experience," Lara led him out of the apartment, into a simple hall with a few doors here and there, gesturing at one. "If you ever feel like talking, there's my apartment. My husband won't mind your showing up at odd hours, so feel free to knock."
"Husband?" Jason asked, startled. Not five minutes ago she'd been cuddled up next to him in a situation that... well, he would hardly want to explain to her husband!
"Oh, yes, Nicky and I have been married for a good, oh, three years now." Her back was towards him as she led him down her stairs, her voice interrupting his train of thought. "He's quite used to having people show up out of the blue to talk to me -- and I'm quite used to people showing up to talk to him, too. And sometimes more than talk, of course."
"Er-" Jason began, freezing on the steps.
"Oh, don't be silly!" Lara giggled, leading Jason to dark thoughts about women who deliberately played with men's minds. And hormones. And maybe more... "Neither of us hid our preferences from the other before we were married, and we still enjoy the occasional threesome... and don't mind when the other is in the mood for a different kind of partner, shall we say? So long as everything is open and aboveboard, well..." Lara arched a coy glance over her shoulder at him. "I imagine he'd love to get you into his bed, but don't worry, he won't even think of trying until you're ready. Mind you, getting back up on the horse will help, but only when you're ready."
"Um..." Jason began to blush, and turned his head away. Lara chuckled softly, and he could hear the evil grin on her face in the sound. "You're doing this on purpose!"
"Yes, I am. Aren't I a little devil?" Jason felt his pants grow a little tight thinking about the implications, and on impulse didn't try to hide it. "Oh my, rising to the challenge are we?" Abruptly, the realization that he was flirting, talking about sex and teasing this woman hit him, and he deflated instantly as the smile dropped off his face. Lara sighed, "Don't worry about it, Jason -- either the start, or the end. In time you will heal."
"I-" Jason began, uncertain.
"You'll find a lot of people around here can read body language very well. Something crossed your mind, and your entire demeanor changed to one of pain -- you're like a puppy, beaten for no good reason, and now you find yourself cringing when you should just enjoy life. And don't worry -- Ronan wouldn't tolerate anyone here who will give you a hassle for your preferences. Better yet, most will be understanding of any troubles you have as a result of your rape." Jason just nodded, and followed her down the steps. As he walked out the steel fire door at the base, he felt a weight settle on his heart. He wasn't sure but...
"Lara, did you just say... I mean, I didn't say I was..." he began.
"Yes. I know you're gay." Lara smiled.
"But I haven't told..." Jason mumbled, then anger washed over him. "You talked to my family!"
Lara just laughed. "Let's just say I noticed who you paid attention to when I jumped onto Ronan, and it wasn't me."
Leaning against the wooden wall of the hallway, Jason just stared at her. "You... you don't think I'm..."
"Yes, you're gay -- so what? Didn't I just tell you my husband was bi?" Lara almost taunted him.
"I think I've had just about enough of amateur psychology hour," Jason muttered under his breath. He didn't mean for her to hear him, but judging from the abruptly raised eyebrow he hadn't quite succeeded.
"Speak up, Jason," she spoke in soft, almost musical tones. "Tell me what you truly wish to say."
Almost against himself, Jason opened his mouth. "I don't appreciate being played with. And you're deliberately manipulating me, playing on my mind and emotions like you would some musical instrument." Lara blinked in surprise.
"First off, I'm just naturally provocative -- I've been good at that long before I ever learned to do it deliberately. Second, all human beings manipulate each other. The only difference here is that not only am I good at it, but I'm doing it to try and help you," Lara paused for a bare moment before continuing. "The fact that you noticed it is surprising, I must admit. Either I'm growing clumsy in my old age, or you're more than meets the eye." The last few words were lightly sung -- Jason winced at how badly she sang that old melody -- as she pranced around a corner at the end of the hallway and out of site. Poking her head back around the corner, she smiled. "Come on! If you don't want me to manipulate you anymore, we might as well get started with work!"
Laughing, Jason followed. The new weight on his heart lifted... and turned out to be a truck, trucking away a lot of the weight that had been there earlier. As he turned the corner after her, he realized he hadn't once thought of himself, or her husband, as a pervert.
He wasn't sure if that was a bad thing, or a good thing. He'd have to think about it.
The building he was now living in turned out to be the site for a combined gym, self-defense center, and living quarters for the employees. And after an hour or two of scrubbing gym equipment and polishing floors, he quickly understood why they needed a competent janitorial service. By the time Lara was satisfied with his work, everything in the weight room that could be polished, was polished. The very air seemed to gleam. Seeing that he understood the concept, she left him to his own devices in a second room.
Again he worked around people who happened to be working in there, doing everything that wasn't in use, then asking the few people there to move to new machines so he could do those. It was a bi-sex gym, so he didn't worry about getting a hard-on -- even he could tell the women were hot, and he was hardly the only one sporting a rather full crotch. And at least he'd mastered the art of looking at something other than the object he happened to be staring at, unlike most of the men. And women.
After he had oh-so-politely rebuffed several of the women who came over to flirt with him by asking him to spot them or similar nonsense one of the men wandered over to chat him up. Keeping his eyes strictly in place, he continued to work while he chatted about this and that. Eventually the man wandered away, only to be replaced a few minutes later by one of the hottest men Jason had ever seen. Tall, broad shoulders, sharply defined muscles, and not an ounce of fat. Fit, but not overly so -- the muscles were strongly defined, not large. Not a body builder, just someone who was fit. Really fit. Fit enough to last for hours -- days! -- in the sack. His mouth dried out and pulse raised, but with the ease of long practice he hid both symptoms on autopilot, while his mind focused on trying to keep up with the conversation. The occasional 'oh shit' moment as his rape came back broke his hold on the thread of the conversation, but helped keep the one definitive symptom under control. He was so busy with his tasks he didn't notice the number of smirks and 'gawd, what a waste' looks sent their way. He would have been doubly shocked to know that a good half of those looks were for him, not his new friend.
Eventually he finished -- not all that slowly, either, as he'd refused to allow his chat with Eric to slow him down -- and looking at the clock realized how hungry he was. Just as he realized that, Ronan popped his head in, looked around, then stepped all the way into the room. The entire room shifted, and Jason felt that long before he turned around and saw Ronan. It was as if the room had been spinning, and suddenly the axis had shifted around to center on Ronan. He couldn't describe it, couldn't explain what he was looking at or hearing to let him know, but Ronan was at the center of the room, the core of the situation.
Eventually that might get annoying, but for now Jason was just fascinated with how Ronan so effortlessly dominated the entire room, just as he'd dominated their encounters earlier. He hadn't noticed then -- there was just the two of them, and it was subtle enough that his being a 'good guest' had overwhelmed it -- but he recognized the exact same thing at work again, and knew his mistake. He remembered one of his friends, who'd always been rather odd. He'd spent days trying to convince Jason of strange philosophical points, and his favorite -- and one that Jason liked, but couldn't agree with -- was that like most people work to gain physical fitness and others just 'have' it, most people had to work to gain any kind of power, while others just had it. Power, he'd stressed, came in many forms, but all the same -- you could hold political clout or just have a gun, either way you had power and it wasn't smart to tick you off. And here was a personification of his core point:
"I could walk into a room with a god-damned assault rifle and point it at the people there. I'd hold power, and make no mistake. But just one man who holds Power could stop me. Yeah, I could shoot him easily enough -- a gun is a hell of a lot of power -- but unless I was real careful, and did everything just right, Mr. Seal or Mr. Ranger or just Mr. Badass Self-defense Nut would be in my face before I could even hope to bring the weapon to bear. He holds Power in and of himself, and if he wants to use it the entire room will revolve around his Power, not my power."
Ronan was Power.
Ronan was a hell of a lot of Power to produce this kind of effect so effortlessly. He was a leader. All his life Jason had heard tales and read books about powerful leaders, who controlled entire armies through force of personality, who commanded the loyalty of all around them by simple charisma and true will. Even their enemies could not help but be affected by that power -- to speak in his friend's terms, that Power -- though that effect was to hate them all the more. Now he knew the truth. No, he didn't have to follow Ronan, he didn't have to give him his loyalty.
But damn, he wanted to!
Worse yet, he saw Ronan looking at him, and knew that Ronan knew. All Ronan had to do was crook his finger, and Jason would throw himself at Ronan's feet, he thought numbly.
Ronan crooked his finger. Jason blinked, and walked over, careful to control himself because Ronan wouldn't want him to be so obvious. Oh, and he didn't want to totally embarrass himself. Ronan led him out of the room, and Jason waved goodbye to Eric as he followed Ronan to his office on the other side of the building. Ronan waved him into a chair, so he sat down. "So, you've worked a good four hours. Two rooms cleaned spic and span. You'll get faster, but very satisfactory for a first day. Lara didn't straighten out pay with you first, you should have insisted on that, but for now..." Ronan reached into a drawer and pulled out an envelope, and slid it across the desk. "Four hours pay at $10 an hour -- that's your salary, starting now -- plus an eight hour advance for tomorrow's work. One hundred and twenty dollars."
Jason opened the envelope and slipped out two twenties, then slid it back. "Too much for work I haven't done."
Ronan slid it right back. "Every man should have some pocket money, above and beyond expenses," he explained. "You need to be able to buy yourself clothes you like, some music, a meal, a book, stuff like that. I'll house you, feed you, clothe you, entertain you at need, but I prefer that you pay for as much as you can yourself. For now, you need some clothes you bought yourself, a little something to decorate your room -- the shelving is empty for a reason, get a book, a knick-knack, something -- and you need to heal yourself. You need to live."
Jason looked at the envelope. "Ronan, about earlier-"
"Forget it." Ronan said flatly. "I have a short temper, and you have your own problems. For now, just try and heal."
"I... its cliché, but I can't thank you enough, Ronan." Jason whispered softly, tears rising easily to his eyes. Ronan smiled, and shook his head. "No, really, thank you."
"You're welcome. Now, let's finish our business out here." Ronan leaned back in his chair, and Jason followed suit. "As an employee of mine, you'll receive the $10 an hour salary I already mentioned, along with free use of the facilities and equipment, and a reduced rate for lessons and training above and beyond the minimum I ask of you as my house guest. You'll also receive health insurance through the Gym's health care provider, so a general physical on a regular basis is required -- I'll give you the contact info when we're done, schedule your first soon. Make sure to mention to him the need to be extra thorough and hit all the STDs and other complications you might have. I recommend telling him about your rape, he won't force you to report it, just try to convince you to, and he'll know better how to handle you if you do tell him. I paid you cash for today and tomorrow because tomorrow is the last day of the pay period, so it simplifies my books. In the future, you will be paid with checks on the fifth and twentieth, or if those days fall on a weekend or holiday the last business day before the fifth and twentieth. Feel free to mention it if you want the check earlier -- I won't promise anything, but if it's already ready, it's yours. Pay periods are from the first to the fifteenth, and the sixteenth to the end of the month, no flexibility in that -- my accountant would throw a fit if I tried to flex there. Direct deposit is available once you get your bank account in order... I think that's about it. Any questions?"
Jason was a little overwhelmed, but he nodded. "What do I owe you for room and board?"
"At the moment, nothing, we'll discuss that when you get your first paycheck. Probably around half your paycheck and you'll have paid for room, board, and bills clear and even, leaving the rest for you to spend on anything you want. Sound fair?"
"Yes! More than fair!" Jason spluttered. He'd done the math when his family first kicked him out -- assuming a five day work week with eight hours a day, he was saving a lot of money. Ronan laughed, a deep hearty sound. Jason smiled at him, and opened his mouth to ask another question, but a knock on the door beat him to it.
"Enter!" Ronan replied.
Much to Jason's surprise Eric stuck his head in. "Hey Ronan, I was wondering how long you were going to be talking to Jason here -- I'd like to ask him out for a drink or three."
"He's underage Eric, but if you want to go shopping, he does have some things he needs and I'd rather not ask Lara unless it's necessary."
"Sounds like fun!" Eric enthused.
"Knowing you I don't doubt it...just be careful." Ronan shot him a look that Jason couldn't interpret.
"Aren't I always?" Eric said as he dragged Jason out.
The two of them had trudged up the stairs to Ronan's apartment, arms full of stuff, before Jason realized he didn't have a key. "Um, Eric, I just realized I forgot to get a key!"
Eric laughed, and just turned the knob. "Ronan knows that too, in case you forgot." Backing into the apartment, he walked straight to Jason's room, not waiting for directions. Dumping the stuff on the floor, he met Jason's questioning look with a laugh. "I told you, I know Ronan -- unless he has more than one guest, this is the room he prefers to give out. The other room sits empty most of the time too, but this way you have two walls between you and his room, not just one. More... privacy." He made the last word sound a little dirty... and the wriggle of his hips that went with it made it rather suggestive.
"Eric... I..." Jason gulped, then grabbed hold of the first excuse he could. "I can't tonight... I need to get a doctor's exam first."
Eric's response was simply to pull out a couple of condoms from the drawer in the nightstand, dropping Jason's jaw. "Try another one."
"How did... where did?!" Jason spluttered.
"Ronan is wise. And nice. And I'll deny it if you ever dare repeat it, but good. Heck, he'll deny it if you try and tell him, but he is a good man," Eric smiled. "And he keeps a stash in supply for guests."
"I... Eric, I didn't tell you..." Jason began, then trailed off.
"Then perhaps you should fix that," Eric replied, sitting on the bed, holding an arm out.
Jason sat down beside him, and Eric wrapped his arm over his shoulder. Nothing sexual -- any more than with Lara -- just comforting a poor, lost soul in pain. "I can't... it's..."
"It's hard, I know. But you can. You've already done it once, now do it without being tricked." Jason stiffened, then turned to face Eric and shoved him off the bed.
"How the hell?!"
Eric rolled away, avoiding injury with a boneless grace and ease. "Let's just say Lara and Ronan were keeping a closer eye on you, and who you talked with, than you knew."
"Those rat bastards! They think they can just pick someone and slip him into my-!" Jason screamed and got up, ready to go give them a piece of their mind.
Eric stopped him with a single hand to the chest and an equally angry reply, "Wait one damned minute before you go accusing those two." Shoving Jason onto the bed, he followed after, sprawling beside Jason companionably in a deliberate bid to calm him down.
Jason weighed his choices for a second and bit out a simple "Talk fast."
"I didn't know a thing about you past your being the janitor when I saw you. I came over and talked because I saw the way you were just rebuffing the women... and the way you talked to that other guy. Once you left, Lara just 'happened' to drop by and ask me to talk with her for a few minutes. She intended to warn me off, told me that you were having a rough time and Ronan was helping you, and that you'd been tricked into talking about something you didn't want to. That's it. She didn't know I was going to try and ask you out for a drink, or take you shopping."
"Because I like you. You're hot, man, and when we talked... well, I liked it." Jason felt the bed move as Eric shrugged.
"I... I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions." Eric rolled over and cuddled up against Jason, leg slipping over his hips and arm over his chest.
"S'okay man." Eric nuzzled against Jason's neck for a moment. "Now, given your reactions to the idea of having sex, I think I can guess what you need to talk about. You want to try and say it, or should I just guess?"
"I... I think maybe..."
"OK, guess it is. Your last partner came down with something, didn't he?"
Jason snorted, and snarled out a heartfelt "I wish!"
"OK, that's interesting. So, if it isn't STD... OK, what the hell is it?"
"Hold me," Jason whispered as he reached deep into himself for strength, and silently prayed to God for aid. If Lara was right -- and she probably was -- he had to do this. And he couldn't.
Eric simply worked his other leg and arm under Jason, pulling him tight as he rolled onto his back. Jason moved with him willingly, and reached out and held Eric tighter still. "Eric, my last... When I told my parents about me, they kicked me out of the house. One of my neighbors... well, he took me in for a while..."
Eric gradually stiffened under him as realization struck. "Oh no... oh fuck no..."
Jason nodded into his shoulder. "I didn't suspect a thing until that first night, when he attacked me while I was asleep. When he..."
"Fuck no fuck fucknofucknofuckno." Eric intoned under his breath. Jason took a deep breath and finished.
"He raped me. He forced me to accept his dick up my ass that night."
Eric swore, and let go of Jason. "Oh, Jason, I'm so sorry, I had no idea, you have to believe me man! Oh fuck, I'm so sorry!"
Jason held him put as Eric struggled to get up. "Hold on a sec."
Eric stopped, and realizing that Jason was trying to cuddle cuddled back. "I'm so sorry. And... I know I shouldn't say this, but believe me, it's not your fault."
Jason stiffened for a moment. "Don't even tell me you too!"
Eric's brow furled for a moment, then he lightened up for a moment, eyes haunted. "No, I haven't been raped. My sister..."
"Oh, indeed," Eric replied. "Well, I understand your reluctance now."
"She's quite over it, and I don't doubt she'll do her best to get you over it too."
"Hrm?" Jason murmured into Eric's shoulder as he cuddled a little tighter, legs creeping around Eric's.
"Oh, you know her already -- she lives next door."
"You don't mean?" Jason pulled his head off Eric's shoulder.
"Yup, Lara." Jason giggled softly, and started to grind his hips a little. Eric started to grind back, then pulled back. "Jace, no, if you don't-"
Jason just lifted a finger to Eric's lips. "Your sister told me getting back up on the horse would help me, once I'm ready."
"I... She'll kill me!" Eric started to struggle away.
Jason simply held onto his arm and pulled him back, gently. "Please. Please!"
"Listen, you can't... I can't!"
Jason let go suddenly, and Eric fell back on his butt. Jason just curled up and cried. "Go away then. Just get the hell out of here!"
Confused, unable to choose right from wrong, Eric retreated, closing the door softly on his way out. Jason fell asleep, weeping.
A few hours later, the front door closed with a deliberate "thud", announcing Ronan's arrival. Jason woke with a start, then opened his door as Ronan walked into the master bedroom. Taking a moment to compose himself -- and wash his face off in the restroom -- Jason slipped into the bedroom after him. Ronan turned smoothly, and smiled. "How was your evening out with Eric?"
"It was... ok." Jason sidled up closer to Ronan, who drew away with a slight frown.
"Did something go wrong?" he asked, concerned.
"Nothing worth mentioning to you," Jason purred, trapping Ronan between himself and the bed.
Time to pay. And at least this time, he'd be in control.
With a shove, Jason sat Ronan down on the bed and then hopped onto his lap, grinding himself against his landlord. "What the hell?" Ronan exclaimed, trying to push Jason away. Jason simply clutched tighter and whispered in his ear a simple phrase.
Ronan did not like that.
Ronan did not like that at all.
Ronan, in fact, got quite upset.
All this trouble over a simple phrase, an admission that it was 'time to pay what I owe you.'
Jason went flying as Ronan stood up, abruptly, with a speed and power that was almost inhuman. Thunking on his butt, Jason looked up at the angry giant over him. The very angry giant, who earlier that day had displayed an amazing mastery of martial arts, and just last night had shown his willingness to use that mastery to full effect. Jason felt his bladder muscle go loose, though thankfully it didn't -- quite -- give way.
"You owe me nothing!" Ronan ground out in a roar. "Get that in your thick skull, and get that in your thick skull now!" Panting in anger, Ronan lifted Jason up by the arms, both of them nearly in tears. "And even if you did, I would never demand payment in that coin -- and I will never, by all that is holy, by my honor, by my life itself! I will never accept such coin from someone suffering from the effect of a rape." A tear fell down Ronan's cheek, a solitary drop of salt water that seemed to glisten with its own light. His voice grew hoarse as he continued. "I cannot, will not, must not! And you must not either. If... If you choose to engage in sex because you want to, that's one thing. But not so soon, you can't... you can't be ready! Please, take some time to learn yourself, to remember what is you -- and learn what is the rape and its effect on you." Releasing Jason's arms, Ronan took him in a bear hug. "I couldn't bear to let you be hurt in such a manner. I..."
"Then why?" Jason asked. "Why take me in if not for sex?"
"I already told you why, that honor-"
"No." Jason shook his head into Ronan's shoulder. "There's something more, isn't there?"
"I can't tell you everything -- not won't, not shouldn't, not I don't know, not I'm honor bound not to, but can't as in I cannot bring myself to admit it." Ronan's face grew wetter still. "I... I have many ghosts. I have many demons." Ronan kissed Jason's hair, and then pulled away to arms length. "Remind me, tomorrow, to play the Cruxshadow song 'Birthday' for you." Ronan recited part of the song in monotone, and Jason didn't really hear.
"Ronan, please, I want you to take me..." he whispered hoarsely as he stepped into Ronan and took him in his arms. "I... I want it to be my choice! I want to give it-"
Ronan pushed him back to arm's length.
"Please, Ronan." Jason whispered. "Don't... please." When Ronan held firm, Jason turned and left.
Rejected, by possibly the only friend he had left.
What hell had he come to live in, that could be so much better, and so much worse, than the hell his life had been before?