Jason stumbled to his bedroom, unable to see, unable to think, unable even to feel. He couldn't take it. He closed the door behind him and collapsed onto the bed, legs pressed up against his chest as tears flowed. He needed to pay and Ronan wouldn't let him do it that way. Now he'd just come in and take it when Jason wasn't ready.
Jason didn't hear the door open, but when a hand landed on his shoulder he froze. Ronan lifted him out of bed, effortlessly, then started pulling off his shoes. Jason stayed stiff, unable to move, as his trousers were removed and then his shirt, softly, gently. He waited for his underwear to be ripped off.
Instead, he was pushed, face down, into bed. Ronan straddled him, sitting on his legs, and then leaned forward and placed his hands on Jason's back. Jason didn't understand until Ronan started moving his hands in small, circular motions. Ronan was giving him a massage.
Jason stayed stiff, waiting for the rape to proceed to its second stage, but soon the relaxation worked its way deep into his body as tensed muscles were forced into relaxation. He started nodding off, and awoke with a start. He had to stay awake, he had to!
Except it was a losing battle. Ronan relaxed muscle group after muscle group, forced the tension and the pain to fade. Eventually Jason fell under the soothing, almost hypnotic spell of the kneading hands.
Jason woke up the next morning to the sound of voices drifting in his open door. Ronan and Lara talked softly in the living room, had his door been properly closed he'd never have heard them, but it was cracked just enough to let him hear Ronan finish describing last night.
"I hurt him so badly, Lara..." his hoarse voice whispered.
"I imagine so, I just... I never expected him to go off like that." Lara replied.
"What's worse, I think he took it as a rejection of him, not... not insisting on waiting." Ronan sighed deeply.
"Well, there is a solution to that," Lara said softly. "You could try talking to him. Telling him exactly what happened from your perspective. He's smart, he might understand."
"You don't understand Lara." Jason had been quickly dressing while listening, and finally opened his door. Ronan sat with his back to him, head bowed in his hands, a picture of abject misery. Lara looked up and raised an eyebrow as Ronan continued. "I wanted him. I want him so badly. I want to run my tongue along the line of his neck, I want to take his head in my hands and press his face to mine, our lips locked together. I want to rip the clothes right off his back and get closer to him than I could ever dare. I want to lose control and take him. I want him to take me, too, and I want us to climb higher and higher together..." Ronan finally noticed Lara's expression, misreading it. "I know, his rape makes that impossible. Simply having sex would be a bad idea, but to have sex the way I want -- the way I need! I could never do that to him. Maybe, maybe once he's fully healed, but even then most people couldn't stand it. I can't even tell him about it for now, about how I tend to get physical when I get physical, because that might trigger memories of his rape, or worry him that I'd try to do something with him. I won't, but I can't convince him of that without making him think I'm rejecting him. How he could think that I still don't understand -- how he can miss just how handsome he is, how the power of his character stains his every movement and action to declare that one day -- oh, by all that's holy, may that day be soon -- that one day he will be not just handsome, not just beautiful, but a very paragon of desirability. He's broken, now, but once he is whole... once he is whole!"
Throughout this monologue, Jason had very slowly, very quietly, drifted to be directly behind the near-insensate Ronan, smile starting to spread and tears forming. Leaning over, he whispered in Ronan's ear. "You could try turning around and saying that to my face."
"Lara." Ronan said very evenly in a near whisper. "How long has he been listening?"
"Long enough, Ronan, long enough." Jason replied for her, laughter in his voice.
"Jason, later today we need to talk about mood swings," Lara said, "but for now I think you and Ronan have some issues to discuss. Just... try to understand. Both of you remember to try and understand." Lara got up and walked out, men folk staring at her.
"Yesterday, when she showed up... She was playing me the whole time. Trying to set me at ease wasn't she."
"Yes, and no. She plays the fluff head very well, but the truth is she is a little chatterbox. After your flashback, well, she jumped into therapist mode and hasn't left since. She's... she has chosen to channel her remaining pain and difficulties into an effort to protect and heal others."
Jason looked into Ronan's eyes. "That stuff you were saying..."
"Jason, last night you thought I rejected you because I didn't want you. I rejected you because I wanted you too much, I couldn't... if you'd kept up what you were doing..."
Jason smiled. "I'm that hot, huh?"
"You have no idea Jason, no idea at all," Ronan shifted back in his chair. "See how I react to you?"
Jason laughed. "This whole time you've had the hots for me, just as I've had the hots for you?"
Ronan looked aside. "I... I don't think you really have the 'hots' for me Jason, it's too soon. It's too early."
"You guys keep saying that! Yeah, rape is going to drive me off sex for a while, but you're acting like it's totally turned my head around!"
"Lara should be here for this discussion, but in essence: yes, it has." Ronan rose up and started walking into the kitchen. "Come on, I'll cook breakfast while we talk."
Jason followed, and sat at the table. "Lara isn't here because she wanted you to handle this conversation." Jason blinked. "How did I know that?"
"You, Jason, are far smarter than you pretend to be," Ronan said wryly. "Most annoying, the pretending that is."
"I... Ronan, I have no idea where that came from!" Jason protested.
Ronan just smiled at him. "Then call it your intuition kicking in and forget about it," he said after a moment. "For now, how do you want your eggs?"
"Scrambled. Now, what do you mean my head is turned around?" Jason watched as Ronan darted -- no other word for it -- from cupboard to cupboard, hands flickering as he picked up bowls and whisks and bottles filled with spices.
"Rape has many effects. Above and beyond the purely physical, it screws with your mind. We don't need to go into the symptomatology of long term rape, but even just a once off assault does things to you. It is a violation of self, mind, and soul as much as one of body. Indeed, the greatest damage is not to your body -- physically, you'll be healed sooner than you could possibly guess -- but the mental effects are going to distort and break your mind down for years."
"Yeah, so I have trouble thinking about sex without panicking, what's your point?" Jason blurted out.
"You do not understand! I'm not talking about simply your response to sexual situations, but your entire identity -- specifically your sexual identity, but also every other aspect of your being -- has been subjected to incredible stress and forced into patterns that aren't natural, aren't healthy, and aren't anything like you. There's a story I heard once, it's about a child who was raped sometime in his early teens. He healed, got over it, and got on with his life. Then, sometime in his late twenties, long after he thought everything had healed, he realized he was far from over it."
Ronan looked straight at Jason. "You see, he thought he was gay, but then he discovered, gradually, he wasn't. That it was a long-term side effect of the rape. His mind, trying to protect itself, had twisted around to a pattern that was nothing like what he was, what he could accept. Eventually that stress was released, and the pattern relaxed into its normal shape."
Jason laughed. "You don't have to worry about me un-gaying, Ronan. Trust me on that one. I want you, and would have without the rape."
"I'll leave that point for later discussion. But the general point, if not the specific point, remains the same. Every aspect of your mind, your psyche, is now in doubt. You can't know if you want me because you were raped or because you really want to have sex. And until that condition releases, until I am fully convinced that you're in your right mind when you want me, I will not, I cannot, engage in sexual relations with you."
"OK, so I'm screwed up sexually. Great, what else is new?" Jason commented bitterly.
Ronan looked at him, hard. "More than that. Your responses to sexual stimuli, to personal interactions, to your own emotions, to everything have been shifted. Lara can explain it better than I can, but every part of your mind has been injured by this assault. Rape is not about sex, it's about control, which is why it's not the physical aspects that are so horrific. Think about it, what's so horrible about having something stuck up your butt? That happens every day to thousands of people -- sometimes in the form on consensual sexual acts, sometimes just a doctor doing an anal exam of some kind, but it happens, and no one talks about it or even thinks twice. What's horrible about it is that you didn't choose for it to happen, that it was forced on you. That you were forced to submit to something you did not choose."
"I don't understa-"
"No, you do not!" Ronan snapped. "I am not the one to explain this -- thankfully, I have no firsthand experience with the matter -- but the loss of self involved in rape is perhaps the most horrible mental wound a being could ever experience. Sex is the most intimate, the most life-affirming, the most powerful of acts. To have that perverted, to change it from free exchange of self and love to forced taking is beyond horror. Almost beyond forgiveness." Jason blinked as the last sentence sank in.
"Wait, are you telling me to forgive that son of a bitch?!" Jason screamed at Ronan, jumping to his feet. "You can't possibly-!" words failed him.
Ronan met the verbal assault with an even tone and a continuation of his cooking. "While there is power in forgiveness, no, I would not ask you to forgive him. Forgive yourself, yes, but forgiving him is something you will do on your own, for your own sake. Or not at all."
"Oh. Oh kay." Jason muttered, surprised, and surprisingly mollified.
"Now, where was I... ah, yes, horror. Rape is one of the most horrific crimes, because it is a perversion of one of life's greatest acts. That perversion, that distortion, is going to screw with your head in ways you can't even begin to imagine. I can't tell you what will happen, or what has happened, only time will reveal that. But I can tell you that your desire for sex this quickly is probably not a good thing -- probably not a healthy 'I'm ready to get back up on the horse!', as Lara puts it."
"Oh come on, Ronan! You left condoms in my nightstand, and now-"
"Huh?" Ronan interrupted. "Oh no, did I forget to remove those?"
"Remove... you left them there by accident?" Jason started giggling. "And Eric thought... Eric thought!" he fell apart giggling, and Ronan just stared at him.
"Jason, do you really think it's that funny? Think about it. Is it that funny, or are your reactions off?"
Jason paused for a moment. "It really does seem that funny... but... I couldn't tell you why. Of course, I couldn't tell you why most jokes are funny."
"Think about it. And think about other things you've felt and done the last few days. You're not reacting well to your rape -- not that there ever is a 'good' reaction, but yours is perhaps worse than usual in many ways -- and you may well become a danger to yourself at this rate. You're quite obviously a danger to others."
Jason leaped to his feet to roar at Ronan, but closes his mouth with a snap. "Precisely," Ronan continued. "Your mood swings are dangerous, until you bring them under control."
Jason nodded sharply. "What now?" he demanded.
"For now, you're going to talk to Lara for a while. She is wise, and can help you. Past that... you have work today, and so do I."
Jason walked out of Lara's apartment, snarling. Slamming the door behind him, he trotted downstairs to get to work. Downstairs, he 'bumped' into Eric rather quickly. "Hey Eric," he started, uncertain.
Eric looked him in the eyes. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"So am I," Jason returned. Eric turned to leave, then turned back. Opening and closing his mouth, he finally shook his head and turned again. "I'm sorry."
Eric faced Jason again. "So am I."
That evening, Ronan confronted Jason on an unexpected topic. "Do you want to let your family, or any of your friends, know where you are?"
"I... no. Definitely not!" Jason responded.
"Are you sure?" Ronan asked. "And if so, why?"
Jason began to respond hotly that "Of course I'm sure!" but barely got halfway through before he stopped. And thought. "My mother, father, and uncle can rot in hell for all they'll hear from me. My brother... not yet. For his sake as much as mine."
"Fine, family is out," Ronan commiserated. "But your friends... even if many rejected you, surely some stood true?"
"Not a one. Not a god-damned one," Jason bitterly answered.
"Are you certain? Did you talk to all of them, or did you let a few answer for them all?" Ronan pressed gently.
"Every last one of them spat at me, except..." he trailed off.
"Except who?" Ronan pressed harder. "This is important, believe it or not. If not for you, then for them. You have to give them the chance -- you must give them the opportunity to choose. Failing to do so is as much insult to you as to them. Friends are the family you choose, and you should not toss them aside unless you are certain. Perhaps not even then -- many pressures were doubtless brought to bear if so many of them rejected you."
"Samuel..." Jason whispered. "We swore to stand by each other, no matter what. I was going to tell him right after my family, but..."
"Before we continue, I need to make sure. You were telling your family a grave secret, obviously, but is it the one I think it was?"
"Yes. I was telling them I was gay." Jason looked at Ronan. "I spent months building up the nerve, researching my arguments, delaying the inevitable. I thought about waiting until I'd finished school, but I'd already chickened out after I finished high school, and I couldn't wait. I couldn't tell them, I couldn't wait, I... I was caught between the twin needs to find someone, to reveal myself to my family, so I could find love, and the need to keep my secret so I'd be safe."
"You told them," Ronan prodded.
"I did. My mother refused to believe, my father just couldn't understand at first what I was saying. Then... then... my father told me that until I dropped my sinful ways, I was no longer welcome in his house. I was no longer his son. He kicked me out with the clothes on my back, yelling at the top of his lungs so the neighbors could hear. 'Until you recant of being gay, you are not my son! Begone foul demon!' and other stuff. I... I just stood there, shocked, until he advanced on me, and..." Jason broke down in a sob, then looked up at Ronan.
"I ran. I ran far, I ran hard. I came back an hour or two later, used my cell to call some friends, but... no one would talk to me. No one would help me. I walked around, finding those I couldn't get on the phone and finally Henry..." Jason's voice became bitter with the name. "Mr. Carpenter came out of his house as I was passing by, and asked me in. Offered me a place, a bed, for a time. I'd tried all my friends except Sam, I couldn't even talk to him because his mother threw a fit when she saw me... I accepted his offer. You... you know what happened that night."
"He's the one who..." Ronan probed.
"Yes," Jason snarled.
"Henry Carpenter, why does that name sound familiar..." Ronan mused, then motioned for Jason to continue, waving off the train of thought.
"I slept the night, and after I cleaned myself in the morning I ended up sleeping away the day as well. That afternoon I finally found the energy to leave. I almost didn't get out the door to 'my' room, the knob had frozen so stiff for some reason... I wandered the neighborhood for a little while. Night fell... I..."
Jason kicked a rock out of his way and wandered his hands in his pockets. It was starting to get a little cold out, and his entire body ached, horribly. He felt tired, so tired, even after having slept all day. He hadn't been able to find Sam, and had no idea what to do. His family wouldn't have him, the only person to help him had turned around and... he couldn't face that. Not now. Not ever!
His feet followed old paths, and soon he was nearing the church. Maybe Father Hearns would have an idea... he hadn't been much help with his original problem, insisting that he reject the perversion in his soul, but maybe he could help with his current problem. And.. maybe he could help with the thing that had happened last night. At the very least, he could grant him confession for that, he'd hardly sought out the situation!
He turned a corner, and paid for his inattention as a fist hammered into his face. It was a small group of men who grabbed him and dragged him towards a nearby alley. He struggled, and screamed for help. The men meant to kill him, he heard that in their breathless threats and promises of hell for the fairy.
"Oh God, help came. God forgive me, help came..." Jason whispered, tears streaking his face.
A streak of lightning would have seemed slow by comparison as a lithe figure sprinted down the street, crashing into one of Jason's assailants and sending everyone flying. Jason fell to the ground, grunting as the breath was driven from him. He got up on his knees before being kicked in the chest, hard enough that something inside went "crack" with a pain that turned his sight red. Rolling away, he struggled to rise to his feet, breath coming with increasing difficulty.
"Run, Jason, run!" Samuel screamed, twisting like a dervish to throw one of the men into another.
"It was nothing like watching you Ronan. You were powerful, the men couldn't stand against you. He used their own strength against them, dodged their attacks, darting in and out, not so much kicking at their legs as stepping on them as he ran to change direction, grabbing punches to pull on them and force the man off balance. It couldn't last, but it was wonderful. He had their undivided attention, and I just couldn't obey. I couldn't find the strength to help him, I could barely lean against a nearby building for a few moments, and it was a few moments to long. Finally, he..." Jason swallowed as tears began to drip down his cheeks.
Finally, Sam made a mistake. He zigged when he should have zagged, and got clipped in the side with an elbow. An accident really, the owner hadn't even tried to place the elbow in the way. But it was enough to send Sam sprawling, flopping to the ground against another man's legs. He screamed again, "Run, Jason, get the hell out of-" the sound cut off in a gasp as a boot found his middle, and Jason watched, horror-struck, as another foot came down hard on the side of Sam's neck.
Jason couldn't hear the crack from this far away. He didn't need to. No human neck could be at that angle, and not be broken. For a moment the men continued to stomp and kick, before they realized they'd already killed the young man.
Jason turned, and ran for the church, with no other thought than Sam's last words had been for him to run. The men were hot on his heels, yelling for his blood.
Jason wept. "He died for me. He died for me, Ronan, he died to save me." Ronan stroked Jason's head, holding him tightly, murmuring calming words in his ears. Then a thought struck him.
"What did you say the young man's last name was?"
Jason looked up at him. "Does it matter?"
"If it's Samuel Derrick Nester, it does." Ronan said.
Jason gaped at him. "How did... how did you know?"
"A friend of mine in the hospital talked to me about him the other day," Ronan smiled at Jason. "And before you ask, he has nothing to do with the morgue or the coroner's office. He works in the ICU -- intensive care unit."
Jason couldn't ask. He couldn't hope. Did Ronan mean... Could he mean?
"He's a very lucky young man, Mr. Nester is. His neck was broken, but it didn't actually kill him. An ambulance got to him just in the nick of time. He's barely alive, but... they think he'll live." Ronan smiled. "He can't have visitors for a while, but I'll call my friend -- the very first day they accept visitors, we can go over. If, that is, you want?"
Jason stared up at him. He blinked. Jason smiled, a deep smile, a true smile for the first time in what felt like years. "He's alive... and you have to ask me if I want to find him?"
"Aye, I must always ask." Ronan smiled. "I'll take that as a yes, though."
"Thank you. Oh, thank you Ronan."
"You're welcome, Jason. Now, about your family... they kicked you out without any chance to recover your belongings, right?"
Jason answered with an understandable bitterness, "Yes."
"Well, even if you don't want to contact them, I'm sure you'd like to pick up some of your things, yes?"
Jason blinked. "My father would never allow..."
Ronan smiled. "Leave that to me -- and Lara."
Ronan leaned over Jason's shoulder and rang the door-bell, then let his hand rest on the young man's shoulder. Inside several people yelled things at each other, and finally a man opened the door. He took one look at the three there, and promptly tried to slam the door shut. Ronan blocked it with a foot. "Please, sir, just a moment of your time."
"No," Jason's father growled, even as behind him a young voice asked who was at the door.
"Please, sir, it will be worth every moment."
"I have nothing to say to this... individual... or any of his 'friends'," the man growled.
"Please, sir, he knows his mistake now and seeks to redeem himself," Ronan said.
Jason's father paused for a moment, then with a sigh pulled the door open. "That was quick. Given the things he had to say to us I didn't expect it to ever happen."
"A helping hand can do wonders," Ronan replied.
"Especially when the Good Lord helps," Lara smiled at the man, placing a hand on Ronan's shoulder. "Please, let us talk inside?"
"Fine, hurry up though. It's almost dinner time."
Jason's father led them to the living room, and they sat down. Lara and Ronan sat close together on the sofa, and Jason sat in a chair nearby. His father took another chair, while his brother watched from the top of the stairs, invisible except to Jason, giving him his support and a smile.
"So, the boy has realized his mistake, huh?" Jason's father growled.
"Yes, Mr. Bester," Ronan replied. "We spent much time talking to him, helping him through his problems. He is a long way from healed, and doesn't wish to burden you with the rest of the healing process, but he is healing."
"We're helping him in every way we can, as the Good Lord requires of his children," Lara said, voice dripping with charm, "but it is a time consuming process -- one we've succeeded with many times before, though."
Jason struggled to contain a grin. "Please, Dad, there's some stuff from my room I'd like. Clothes, my guitar and amp, a few of my books maybe."
"Mayhaps your rosary, son?" his dad probed in an obvious trap.
"Like you'd let me, dad. We both know how valuable it is -- and until you trust me again, you'll hardly allow me to take Grandda's old rosary. Ronan gave me one to hold me over." Jason's dad just harrumphed.
"Please, Mr. Bester, would it really hurt to allow the boy his own belongings?" Ronan leaned forward affably, Lara holding onto his arm.
"Perhaps not. But tell me, why are you doing this?" Jason's father asked, still suspicious.
"The Good Lord has given us the power to help, and we can hardly do otherwise when so called," Lara replied.
"It is truly a small burden to pay, and it brings such good into the world. Charitable acts are their own reward." Ronan added.
Jason almost whooped when his father, after a few moments deliberation, relented. "Grab your stuff boy." He moved with deliberation, hiding the exuberant joy rising in him. After all, what young man didn't like pulling one over on an overbearing father?
Ronan and Lara kept his father busy for a few minutes, but that wouldn't last long he knew. He moved quickly, letting his brother help. "I don't have a lot of time bro."
"I figured as much," Paul grinned. "Dad's pretty smart when he isn't so busy being stupid. They never once said what your mistake was -- and you aren't one to give over so quickly."
Jason grinned back for a moment. "Listen, have you heard anything about Sam?"
Paul's face dropped instantly. "I... I didn't want to tell you bro. He's hurt bad. Real bad."
"I know, I was there."
"What?!" his brother screeched. "Bro, what the hell happened? According to the grapevine, he got beat half to death -- his neck was broken, it's a miracle he survived!" Neither noticed their father standing in the doorway.
"A bunch of men were going to try and kill me because I'm gay, and he came to my rescue, got me loose," Jason said, proving the old maxim: loose lips sink ships.
"And here I was thinking you'd come to 'understand' your mistake, and were trying to 'redeem' yourself," his father snarled. Jason grabbed the bundle of clothing and slung his guitar case over his shoulder in one smooth motion, grabbing the amp case the second his hand was free. "You lied to me!"
"No, you lied to yourself." Ronan replied from the hallway. Jason's father wheeled around to confront him. "How dare you aid this pervert, and lie to me in my own house!" Advancing on Ronan, Jason's father left the doorway. Jason took the opportunity to dart out the door himself, rounding his father before he could react. Paul followed suit.
"Put that back you monster!" their father snarled. "Only my son has a right to those things, and you aren't my son!" Reaching for Jason, he was suddenly tripped as Paul 'accidentally' got his legs tangled with his father's. Jason took the opportunity to storm down the stairs, with Lara and Ronan bringing up the rear guard. Ronan waited at the door while Jason loaded his stuff into Eric's waiting car, and with a hand to the chest stopped Jason's father from following.
"Your son has a message for you," he smiled. "I still can't believe he told me to tell you this, but he did. I couldn't possibly be more proud of how far he has come so quickly after you cast him out, after his rape. I can't believe how far he's come, without us even prompting him to take this step."
"He forgives you."
Jason laughed as he hopped into Eric's car, belongings shoved in the trunk. "Let's get while the gettin's good!" Behind them, Jason could hear his father spluttering over hearing about the rape, but that wouldn't last very long. Still, Eric pulled out with a sedate application of the gas pedals, taking his sweet time to get into the lane. Jason laughed all the harder. Eric grinned at him for a moment, then went ahead and punched the gas, for all of about 20 feet. Jason howled with laughter, and Erik just smirked as he kept to the speed limit the rest of the way home.
Home, Jason mused. What a wonderful word, even if the location had changed, and even, in a way, the meaning. No longer a place simply to lay his head, hide his secret, and try to live. A place where he was safe. Wanted. Helped. In a way, loved. Oh, sure, his family had loved him. But his father was overbearing, insisting on everything being done just so, and God help the poor fool who crossed that. His mother... weak. Mother did anything father asked without question, not supporting him but simply parroting his desires and orders. He wanted the dinner on the table at 6, so the dinner was on the table at 6. Maybe she loved him, but she'd never dared to show real affection. Why, Jason still didn't know.
But he'd forgiven both of them that, even before he'd been kicked out. He'd never dared explain that, or even mention it, but he'd forgiven them. Even after his rape, that hadn't changed. It was one of the few true points in his mind from which he could rebuild -- he had an essentially forgiving nature.
Damn, it had felt good when Lara had helped him dig that up!
Eric's phone rang. Thumbing his bluetooth device, he shut up the ringer.
"Hello, Eric here!" Eric stiffened suddenly, his cheer leaching away. "You."
"Yes, I know him."
"Yes, I will pass the occasional message on." Eric began to lose his temper.
"No, I'm not here to be your-" Eric looked at Jason, and frowned.
"Wait ten seconds, then repeat that." Eric shoved his bluetooth device at Jason, who promptly slipped it on and waited.
"Could you please tell my son that I'm sorry about what happened to him. I'm ready to listen when he's ready to talk."
"I'm sorry too," she finished.
Jason handed the bluetooth device back to Eric, then collapsed back into the seat. "Mama," he whispered. "Mama."
"Jason will have received your message before the sun sets tonight, is that acceptable?"
"Good. I make no promises on his decisions."
"Yes, I'll tell him that too." Eric drove on for a few more minutes, then looked over at his new friend. "Your father is most upset, apparently. I could hear him raging in the background at a few points, dreadful stuff. From the sounds of it, your brother is going to be coming back with Ronan."
"What?" Jason asked.
"Your dad wasn't too happy with the way your brother helped you out, it would appear. And to make matters worse, your brother isn't just sitting there taking the tirade, he's responding with a heat and fury to match Ronan at full bloom."
"You're kidding!" Jason blurted out, shocked.
"Nope! You should have heard him Jason, he was really giving your dad a piece of his mind."
"Ah shit, I hope he's alright!"
"Ronan is still there -- unless your dad is really stupid, he won't even think about trying anything."
Jason laughed. "I almost wish he were that stupid! Seeing Ronan lose his temper might be good for him!"
"Oh, Ronan wouldn't bother losing his temper. He'd just decide that your dad needs to realize the error of his ways -- and when Ronan decides something, the world had better get out of his way!"
The two grinned at each other. Jason couldn't believe how good he was feeling. Despite how angrily he had left, it was as if his talk with Lara had lifted most of the weight off his shoulders. It was still there, but... he wasn't being crushed by it. He had leave to be himself while it healed. When Eric pulled into a parking space outside the gym building, Jason took the opportunity to steal a kiss. "That, was for the other night." Eric growled at him, but matched his smile.
After carting Jason's stuff upstairs, they waited in the parking lot for Ronan and Lara. Paul too, if he came.
As Ronan pulled into the lot, it was clear Paul had come along for the ride. Along with half the stuff out of the room he'd shared with Jason. Eric and Jason attacked the trunk, shouting a quick "second bedroom?" at Ronan before carting stuff upstairs, barely leaving the man enough time to respond in the affirmative.
Lara and Paul just laughed, before grabbing a few more bundles they'd carefully hidden from the other two, and dumped those bundles in Jason's room when he was on his way back down for more.
Jason and Paul just sat in Paul's new room, talking for what seemed like hours about everything that had happened before reaching the really hard topic. "I still can't believe it man!" Paul moaned. "Who did it, I'll kill them!"
"No, don't!" Jason said. "I'm... I'm going to go to the police tomorrow."
"Yeah, well, all the police are going to find is a corpse. I don't care! Nobody, and I mean nobody, rapes my bro and gets away with it!" Paul snarled.
Outside, Ronan gave Lara a small smile. "Feisty, isn't he?"
"I like it," she grinned back.
"Bro, no, that isn't the way," Jason said. He couldn't believe he was actually saying this, but at some level he knew it was true. "Let the cops handle it. Besides," a nasty thought came to him, "if he's raped me, how many of those little boys who have been running in and out of his house for years..."
"I'll kill him! Just give me a name!" Paul swore as the import of that struck home.
"No," Jason gave a nasty grin. "Remember how people react to pedophiles? Even -- or rather, especially -- in prison?"
Paul blinked. "You're nasty Bro!"
"Real nasty -- if I'm right."
"And if you're wrong?"
"Rumors don't have to be accurate." Jason's grin was really nasty now.
"I don't like the sound of that," Ronan commented.
"Yeah, well, if I could do it to the bastard that raped me... Give him a while."
"He doesn't have 'a while', I finally remembered where I heard the name Henry Carpenter."
"I suppose not... but is that really a place we want to go, true or not?" Paul asked. "Kill him, yes, but that's... that's a living torture. I'm not sure..."
"Damn it bro, think about what he did to me!"
"I am! That's why I want to shoot him down like a mad dog!"
"I want him to suffer like he made me suffer. I want him to know the pain, the humiliation, the horror of being raped," Jason rasped. "Send him to jail, and it's all his for the taking. Right up his fucking poop chute, and down his lying mouth!"
"Think we should tell them?"
"You crazy? Let them know we're listening in?" Lara laughed at Ronan.
"Good point. Still, they are getting rather loud..."
"What, you want to cut his dick off, torture him with it?" Paul demanded.
"Sounds good!" Jason snarled.
"Damnit, I saw the police pull Mr. Carpenter out of his house, I wouldn't wish that on-"
"What?!" Jason screamed. "Who did you say?!"
"Henry Carpenter, just down the street -- some psycho tortured him. Locked him in his spare bedroom, bound him to the bed, and did things... I don't even want to think about what I saw."
Jason proceeded to rage across the room, every other word a swear word and every single word part of a long stream of insults. Paul's eyes grew wider and wider as his brother discussed, in detail, every aspect of Henry Carpenters family line, personal habits, hygiene, probable sexual habits, and a number of other unsavory details. Paul figured he knew who the rapist had been now -- which certainly explained what had happened to the man!
"Bro, calm down a second."
"Calm down? Calm down! I wanted to face him down, fucking chuck him in jail, and now he's dead?" Jason snarled.
"That's why it's so horrible, Jason, he's not dead."
"What?" Jason asked.
"Whoever did that to him knew what they were doing, Jason. The police were talking about it, didn't see me listening in. What they did to the man was horrible, but worse yet... worse yet, they kept him alive through all of it, and awake, feeling every bit of pain." Paul then explained exactly what had been done to the 'poor' man.
"Shit." Jason swore. "That... I didn't want that."
"Oh really?" his brother batted back. "Exactly who wanted to brand him as a pedophile, true or not?"
Jason paused. "Damn it, I wouldn't have actually done it! And... it wouldn't have been anything like that!"
"I wonder if that's true?" Ronan wondered.
"He's far more forgiving than I am -- maybe he could be that far along already."
"I think I need to talk to Ronan," Jason told Paul. "If that really happened to Mr. Carpenter, maybe telling the cops about my rape isn't such a hot idea."
"Ya think?" Paul replied. "Your gonna be the first one they ask! 'So, where exactly where you three nights ago on the evening of the thirteenth, son? Having a grand old time torturing poor, helpless old men?'"
"More like getting my ass beat up on!"
"Too bad I didn't take him to a hospital anyway," Ronan commented wryly.
"Can't even claim his assault as an alibi now, they'd never believe it," Lara agreed.
"Frank is one man."
"What the hell you talking 'bout, bro?" Paul asked, confused.
"Ronan saved me from the men who tried to kill me, but not before they'd had me for a while."
"Bro, you got bruises, I'll give you that, but they ain't that bad," Paul protested
"They damn near broke my head in two!"
"Bro, maybe they messed up your head but good, but they didn't do all that much damage physically -- look in the mirror for a few minutes! Those bruises look weeks old, if I hadn't seen you showering on a daily basis for the last three years, I would have sworn they couldn't be newer than a week old!"
"Ooops. Secret is out," Ronan complained.
"Not really. There are medicines that have that kind of effect."
"Lara, they aren't _that stupid," Ronan left the 'they' unspecified._
"No, but given half an excuse they'll explain it all away."
Ronan sighed. "Human nature sucks. Even when it works in our favor."
Eventually, the conversation wound down in both living room and bedroom, and Jason and Paul joined Lara and Ronan.
"Ronan, we have a small problem."
"I know, Jason. I remember why I know the name Henry Carpenter... and it isn't pleasant."
"Excuse me, officer."
"What do you want," the man growled back at the timid young man in front of him. He did not need this today, and his desk shift was almost over.
Jason hesitated for a moment. "I need to report a rape."
Gonna be a long day, the man thought.
Damned long day.