"Through every forest, above the trees,Within my stomach, scraped off my knees,I drink the honey inside your hive,You are the reason I stay alive."—Nine Inch Nails, Closer
Jackson stood at the window and looked out at the night. It looked calm, quiet. Jackson knew it was a lie. If he listened, if he concentrated very, very carefully, he could hear it—faintly make out the noises in the surrounding buildings, the fights between spouses, rough sex taking place between a father and his mistress, the drug deals, the sounds of teenage girls crying and teenage boys trying not to—he could hear all of it. Quiet was always a lie. Calm didn't exist. He knew that better than anyone.
For all of his listening, Jackson didn't hear Derek as he came up behind him, and he started slightly as Derek kissed his shoulder. "What are you thinking about?" He murmured, trailing kisses up Jackson's neck. "You look so serious..."
Jackson turned around, and pressed his lips against Derek's. "I was thinking about how happy I am that you're letting me stay here," He said. "And how happy I am that Isaac isn't here tonight, so I don't have to worry about him hearing anything."
Derek leaned back, and brushed his thumb lightly over Jackson's cheek. "Liar," He said. He kissed Jackson before he could protest. Jackson kissed back, putting more into the kiss than Derek had. He pushed Derek's mouth open and slipped his tongue inside, then pulled back and away until Derek grabbed him by the front of his shirt and yanked him forward, kissing him fiercely. Jackson held back a moan.
With his hands on Jackson's chin, Derek tilted his head back until he had exposed Jackson's jugular to him. He traced a line along it with his nose, and followed the trail with his mouth.
Now they would play their game. It was at Jackson's request that they played it, but he knew Derek enjoyed it to.
The game started when Derek grabbed Jackson, threw him down on the bed and ripped off his clothes. His mouth hungrily roamed Jackson's body as he removed each item, while Jackson told him stop get off no don't. And Derek ignored him, told him to shut up and stop whining. Told him to get on his knees and do the one thing he was good for.
Derek bound Jackson's hands behind his back (and gave him a bottle of lube to clutch in his fist—a dropped bottle meant the game was over) and grabbing fistfuls of Jackson's hair, forced him to suck him off. And despite more gasps of don't make me please I can't, Jackson could not help but moan as Derek fucked his mouth, and could not help but love it when Derek came against his lips, cum dripping down his chin and mouth open, begging for more.
The game was a fun one; raw and painful, bruising and wonderful. Jackson would never know why he loved their games as much as he did, why being used and abused and shoved and forced made him feel so free, so alive. But whatever the reason, he knew it was what he needed, and he was grateful that he found someone who could give it to him.
And Derek gave so beautifully. He left bruises and bite marks like art upon Jackson's skin. Turned and forced and molded Jackson into something like perfection. Something like love. Yes, in the dark with his hands tied behind his back, and his abusing playmate behind him, Jackson was almost sure that was what he felt. Something like love.
When the game was over, and they had both spent themselves into exhaustion, they would collapse together on Derek's bed. And lying in his arms, Derek would pick up the pieces of Jackson that been broken, and put them back together again. New and improved, better than before. Derek would trace his finger along the lines of Jackson's body and whisper terrible secrets, things neither could ever admit in daylight; that Jackson was what he needed in his life, that he thought of him all the time and wanted always to be with him. That he had never been this close to another person, and still he wanted to be closer. And sleepily Jackson would nod, and he would whisper that he felt the same.
They would fall asleep tangled in each others bodies, and it was the way they were happiest.
It was a fight with his parents that had driven Jackson to Derek's house, and Derek was torn. He wanted Jackson to have a good relationship with his parents, wanted him to appreciate them instead of treating them like burdens. When Jackson had shown up on his door step, eyes red and shoulders heaving, there was a good part of him that wanted to send him back to them. By letting Jackson stay with him, he was only helping to drive a wedge between them, helping Jackson sabotage his relationship. He knew that, knew that turning Jackson away would be the right thing to do... but he couldn't make himself do it.
Whether it was because it was too difficult to turn Jackson away when he said he needed him, or because he wanted Jackson to himself, wanted Jackson to always be around, he didn't know. But he supposed it didn't matter, really.
Isaac was home the second night of his stay, and so he and Jackson stayed in the next apartment over, that Derek had begun to fix up for exactly this purpose. In case Jackson, or any of the pack, needed a place to stay, he had wanted to have one ready. In time, he planned to renovate every apartment in the building. But for now, it was just the one.
It was late in the night now, and Jackson lay beside him in bed, fast asleep. Compared to previous night, their activities in bed had been tame, and while still rigorous enough to tire Jackson out, Derek was left wide awake.
He didn't mind. It was nice, lying there in the cool, dark loft listening to the falling hail and the soft sounds of Jackson's breathing. Jackson was asleep on his back, legs tangled up in sheets, his lips slightly parted and one arm thrown out to the side so that it rested against Derek's chest.
As Derek watched, Jackson's brow furrowed and a pained moan escaped his lips. He shifted slightly on the bed, turning himself to face Derek and brining his arms in close to his chest. He shuddered slightly, and moaned again.
Derek was used to this—Jackson had a lot of nightmares, and more often than not he spent his nights moaning and groaning, twisting and turning in bed, as if trying to get away from someone or something. Sometimes he even spoke in his sleep, although hardly ever something discernible. Occasionally Derek would be able to make out something like "no" or "stop," but most of the time it was just mumbled gibberish.
Wanting to soothe him, Derek reached out and brushed his fingers along the side of Jackson's face. Jackson whimpered slightly, and Derek leaned down and pressed a kiss against his forehead. He ran his fingers through Jackson's hair, still slightly damp with sweat. Slowly, Jackson's brow relaxed and he began to breath slowly and calmly again. Derek smiled.
Derek wasn't sure when it had happened—and he still wasn't sure how he felt about it—but at some point he had come to need Jackson like he had never needed another person. It was a need that was as physical as it was psychic. At night it had become all but impossible for him to fall asleep without Jackson's body curved against his. During the day he was restless, agitated without him around, without him to touch and kiss and hold. When he was with him, he felt a calmness and contentedness he had never experienced before—a sense of completion.
There was a part of him, a strong part, that didn't know what to make of it. This was a weakness, this kind of attachment. It had to be. It wasn't healthy, to need another person so much. They would both wind up suffering, in the end. It was inevitable.
The rest of him couldn't care. If loving Jackson made him weak, then he didn't want to be strong. He'd had to be strong for so long, and it had exhausted him. With Jackson, he could finally leave behind all his fear and hate, let it all go and just relax.
For the first time in what felt like forever, Derek was not alone. And nothing, nothing, would make him give that up.
At Derek's urging, Jackson called his parents. Just as he'd suspected, it was a huge mistake. They had demanded he come home this instance, so they could continue to yell at him and discuss all of the things he would be grounded from doing. They told him he was irresponsible and unfair, selfish and cruel. Eventually he'd just hung up on them and switched his phone off. This had become the standard way of dealing with his parents.
The conversation had left him close to tears, and he spent the whole day grumpily stationed on the couch, trying and failing to study for his final exam.
At night, when he and Derek were together in the second loft, it was not much better. He was still agitated, still tense.
"Relax, Jackson," Derek murmured, kissing his mouth as his fingers played between his legs. "You have to relax..."
"I can't," Jackson snapped. Derek withdrew his hand and Jackson sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Derek said. "We don't have to do anything tonight, if you don't feel like it. Just because you're staying here, it doesn't mean you have to sleep with me."
Jackson rolled his eyes, and leaned in towards Derek. "I know I don't have to," He said. He pulled Derek towards him by the back of his neck, and pressed their mouths together. "I want to, I do."
Derek pulled back, and gave him a wary look. "Well, even if you want to, if you don't relax, then we can't."
"Oh," Jackson said. "Right."
"There are some things I could do, to help you try and relax," Derek said quietly. He began to kiss Jackson's neck. "Or, I was thinking... we could always switch..."
"Mmm, switch what?"
Derek pulled back and raised his eyebrows. Jackson thought he saw a slight flush in Derek's cheeks. "You know what I mean," He said.
Jackson's mouth opened a little, as he understood. Then he smiled. "No, sorry, I really don't know," He said. Derek glared at him. "Derek, if you want to do something, you'll have to ask. I'm not a mind reader."
"No, just as asshole."
Jackson grinned widely. "Come on, it's easy," He said, putting two fingers on Derek's chin and tilted it upwards. "Just take a deep breath and say 'Jackson, I want you to fuck me,'" He instructed.
Derek stared at him for a moment, and then in a calm voice he repeated "Jackson, I want you to fuck me."
Jackson was more than happy to oblige.
He took his time, kissed and touched Derek gently as he pressed two lubed up fingers inside of him. They didn't discuss it, but it seemed clear to Jackson that he would not be playing games with Derek. He would be soft.
When Derek was ready, he on lay on his back while Jackson kneeled between his legs, grasping Derek sweat slicked hips with his hands as he pushed into him. It was almost painful, how good it felt inside of him. So good he was ready to come in minutes, barely minutes.
Jackson made himself focus, focus on Derek. The pattern of his breathing—fast, shallow—the way he bit on his lip while Jackson thrust his hips. The way he moaned, quietly, very quietly, moaned Jackson. Jackson had no idea his name could sound so good.
Derek's hands found their way up the headboard and he curled his fingers around the bars, grasping them tightly as he choked off another moan. It was strange how vulnerable Derek seemed like this, splayed on his back, hands above his head, moaning while Jackson fucked him slowly. Jackson rarely thought of Derek as vulnerable.
It occurred to him just how much power he gave to Derek, every time they were together. How much trust he placed in Derek, without even thinking about it. And he wondered, what it must mean to Derek, to be placing that trust back in Jackson.
Jackson had fucked up a lot in his life, and there were so many people who'd been hurt because of it. But he swore to himself, he would not fuck this up. He would never hurt Derek like that. He'd rather die.
Derek would be the one thing in his life he did right.
Derek lips were red as Jackson leaned in and kissed them, wrapped his hand over Derek's dick and thrust his hand up and down in time with his hips. Derek's eyes opened and he grabbed Jackson by the back of his neck, pulling him in for more.
They moved up together, and Jackson pressed Derek back against the headboard. He moved his hips faster, harder, forgetting soft and slow in favour of more moans and sweat, more gasps from Derek's red lips. Derek squeezed his eyes shut and tilted his chin back. "Fuck," He muttered.
Their kisses became sloppy, hot and fast. Jackson's breath came in short gasps, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on. Derek's moans became broken and ragged, and Jackson knew he was close. He pushed his hips harder, and Derek cried out.
Jackson was nearly dying by the time Derek came, spraying warm across Jackson's chest the way Jackson had done to him so many times before. He dropped his head against Jackson's shoulder and groaned into his skin, holding onto him so tightly Jackson worried he would break something. And finally, relieved, Jackson let himself go too. He wrapped his fingers in Derek's hair, pulling his head back to kiss him again as he came.
When they were finished, and Jackson had cleaned them up (usually a job that fell to Derek), they lay side by side on the bed, still panting lightly.
Jackson wasn't entirely sure of how to proceed from here. Usually this was the part where Derek pulled Jackson into his arms and made sure he was okay. Should he do that with Derek? Did Derek want to be spooned now?
Jackson sat up slightly, propping himself up on his elbows, and surveying Derek. "How are you doing?" He asked.
Derek's eyes were shut. "Pretty good," He said. He opened his eyes. "You?"
"Similar," Jackson said, nodding. He hesitated. "Is there something I can do for you?"
Derek snorted. "What?"
"I don't know... I feel like I should be doing more, right now," He said. "Wasn't this... your first time?" He hoped Derek knew what he meant.
To Jackson's surprise, Derek shook his head.
"What?" Jackson's mouth opened slightly, and he shifted closer to Derek on the bed. "When...?" Derek was quiet, and Jackson but a hand on his chest.
"I was... younger," Derek said shortly. "I was in a bad place, and I wanted to... lose myself." Derek glanced up at Jackson, and shrugged a shoulder. "Drinking and drugs weren't options for me, so I looked behind door number three and found sex. For a while, I was with men and women... but eventually it just became men, for the sake of convenience."
Jackson raised his eyebrows. "Convenience?"
"Men were easier. I felt like they wanted less from me."
"Oh," Jackson said, for lack of anything better to say. "When was this, exactly?"
Silence again. Jackson waited. "After the fire," was Derek's eventual answer. "I was 18, it was just me and Laura... I was miserable."
"So you started having sex with random men?"
"And women, yes."
"How did that happen?" Jackson pressed. "With men, I mean. Did you know you were..." He hesitated. "Gay?" He couldn't say why, but his heart had begun to beat very quickly against his ribcage.
Derek rubbed his eyes. "The first time a man picked me up, I had no idea what I was doing, or if it was something I even wanted. But he approached me and I felt... curious, I guess. So I went home with him."
"And what was that like?"
A pause. "New," Derek said. "Rough... sweaty. Exhilarating,"
"So that's when you knew you were gay?"
"I'm not gay, Jackson." Derek said, raising his eyebrows. Jackson glared at him, feeling strangely betrayed.
"Well you're not straight,"
"I never claimed I was,"
"So what then?"
Derek sighed. "I don't believe in those labels. I think sexuality is too fluid to be categorized."
Jackson groaned, and lay back on the pillow. "That's a seriously annoying answer."
He groaned again, and put his hands on his face. "No, I didn't mean that. You can sexually fluid if you want to be,"
"Again, thank you,"
Taking a page from Derek's book, Jackson was silent for a few minutes. He stared up at the darkness, and tried to wrap his tongue around what he wanted to say.
Jackson heard Derek move next to him, then felt his arms wrap around him, pulling him in close. His body relaxed on contact, curving back to rest against Derek's form. It was as if Derek had become an instinct. Letting him in, letting his touch soothe him.
Derek kissed the nape of his neck.
"I'm gay," Jackson said, trying to sound matter of fact. It wasn't as it was a big deal, he knew that, logically. It just felt that way. "I mean, I'm pretty sure... I know I loved Lydia, but... I don't know. I don't feel like I'm sexually fluid. I feel like I'm gay."
"Mmm," Derek murmured. "That's good," He said.
"It's not bad."
"I guess so," Jackson muttered.
On the morning of the fourth day, Jackson woke up in bed alone. He sat up and looked around him, and when that yielded little results, he listened, trying to find Derek. Nothing.
It took him a minute, but then he noticed a smell in the air. A warm, sweet smell that was familiar, but entirely out of place in the usually musty smelling loft. Pancakes.
Jackson grabbed his boxers and a t shirt from the floor, and padded down the hall to the other loft. The door was unlocked, and when he went inside he found Derek standing at the stove, flipping pancakes on a skillet.
"I told you this would be weird,"
Jackson jumped, and almost ducked back out the door when he realized Isaac was sitting at the counter, wearing pyjama pants and white t shirt and drinking out of a dark blue mug. Jackson had forgotten about him.
"It's not weird," Derek said, tilting his skillet and letting a golden brown pancake fall into a container with other similarly good looking pancakes. He closed the lid on the container, and began to pour more batter into the pan.
"It is weird," Isaac insisted, watching out of the corner of his eye as Jackson gingerly walked into the loft, and took a seat at the opposite end of the counter. He didn't like the way Isaac was talking about him, as if he wasn't there, but he also had to agree with him; this felt weird as hell. He wished he was wearing pants.
Isaac glanced at him, and wrinkled his noise. "Are you wearing his shirt?"
Jackson glanced down, and he face went red. The shirt he'd grabbed was in fact Derek's. It was grey, and slightly too big on him in the shoulders. He should have realized... "Maybe," He said, his voice lacking any sense of conviction. "It's none of your business,"
Isaac shook his head. "I thought we could do this whole 'you guys together' thing without actually having to acknowledge that you guys were, you know, together."
"Jackson, there's coffee, if you want," Derek said, ignoring Isaac.
Jackson frowned. "You hate coffee..."
"Isaac likes it,"
From behind his big blue mug, Isaac grinned.
Jackson raised his eyebrows at him. "Weren't you the one that wanted to pimp me out for a television? I'd say that's not only acknowledging our relationship, it's using it to your advantage."
Isaac shrugged. "Guy's got to make a living."
"By exploiting me and Jackson?" Derek asked. He received another shrug in response. "Trust me, if you try that again, it will not end profitably for you."
Isaac tilted his head to the side. "That would have been more threatening if you weren't pointing at me with a spatula." He smiled.
Derek glowered at him, and Jackson pressed his lips together and tried to stifle his laughter.
All in all, it was a pretty weird breakfast.
But not entirely in a bad way.
When breakfast was finished and the dishes cleared away, Isaac left to go hang out with Erica, leaving Derek and Jackson alone in the loft.
Jackson, wanting to take advantage of the opportunity, suggested that this would be a good time for loud sex. Derek responded by handing him his textbook and telling him to study.
After trying and failing to negotiate some kind of compromise (20 minutes of studying for an hour of loud sex) Jackson grumpily resigned himself to another day of staring at a textbook, and sat down on the couch to get started on it. He was joined by Derek after a little while, who sat down next to him, put his arm over his shoulder, and began reading a book on breaking curses.
They sat in silence for a while, Derek focused on his reading and Jackson alternating between actually studying, and simply enjoying sitting there with Derek's arm around him.
"You should go home tomorrow," Derek said quietly. Jackson looked up at him. "After your exam... you should go back to your house. And stay there."
"Oh," Jackson said, trying to keep himself from sounding hurt. "Okay."
Derek looked at him. "It's not because I don't want you here—"
"No, I get it, four nights is enough already..."
"Exactly," Derek said. Jackson felt a sinking sensation in his stomach. "No, that's not how I meant it—"
"It's fine, really," Jackson said, his jaw clenched tightly. He looked down at his book, and began pretending to read it.
Derek pulled the book out of his hands, and Jackson looked up, shocked. "Hey!"
"Jackson, I promise that it's not that I don't want you here," Derek said, closing his own book as well. "These last few days have been... they've been great. And I haven't been able to stop thinking that it didn't have to end. That there was no reason you couldn't come and live here, with me. You could always be here, be around. I could see you every day, have you with me every single night..." Derek set his mouth in a grim line. "But you have a home, Jackson. You have a family. And you have to go back to them."
"Why?" Jackson whined. "Why can't I live here? I want to, I do—"
"You can't," Derek interrupted. "I know you and your parents have been having problems, and I'm only helping make it worse by giving you a place to run away to. You have to go home."
Jackson groaned. "But why?!"
"Because you have one to go home to!" Derek snapped. Jackson closed his mouth, taken aback. Derek sighed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you... can you please just trust me, Jackson? Your family is important. You don't want to ruin things with them, okay?"
Jackson ground his teeth together, and then reluctantly nodded. "Alright," He said stiffly. "After my exam tomorrow... I'll go home."
Derek smiled weakly, and kissed Jackson on the forehead. Jackson tried not to glare. "You'll thank me one day, when you have a good relationship with your parents."
Jackson rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I'm sure," He mumbled.
"Hey," Derek said, placing his hand on Jackson's cheek. "One day, it'll be acceptable for you to move out of your parents house. And when you do, you always have a place with me."
"That could be years from now," Jackson pointed out.
Derek shrugged. Jackson wondered if that meant Derek assumed they'd still be together, years from now. The thought made him happy.
"Okay," Jackson said. "But you have to kick Isaac out."
"I'm not kicking Isaac out."
"Alright... but then you have to get drapes," He amended.
Derek considered this. "Alright," He said. "I'll get drapes.
Jackson grinned. "What about your tough guy rep?" He asked.
Derek pulled Jackson towards him, pressed his mouth against him. "I'll risk it," He mumbled.
Jackson ran his fingers up through Derek's hair as he kissed him, leaning back on the couch as Derek pressed his body closer and closer. As he did, their books fell from his lap and clattered to the floor. They would not pick them up again for quite some time.