if you see jameson monroe, tell him jesse's looking for him.
and I need to tell you that I'm sorry but it's just too late.
some men need inspiration
and other men just need to be laid.
And I love you,
And I love you.
Jameson’s head was still swimming. He couldn’t quite believe what had happened. That Jesse and Flynn had damn near killed each other in public. He was still shaking from it, actually, and trying his best to hide that fact from Jesse. The man already had enough on his mind without having to worry about Jamie - which Jameson knew he would do if he were given a reason to. So, he held his hands tightly so none of the tremors would become evident, though Jamie wasn’t sure Jesse’d be able to see it anyway. Not through the haze of the pain and the swelling and the dizziness from lack of breath. Jameson was just glad he’d been able to stop it finally. He was glad he’d been able to do something for Jesse for once instead of being some feeble, weak man who couldn’t even take care of himself.
And yet it didn’t seem to be enough. Jesse was suffering and there was nothing Jameson could do about it. In the nearly four years they’d spent together, Jameson had picked up on little things about Jesse. Sometimes, when he was holding things in and keeping things from Jamie, he’d get this look on his face not unlike the look he had as Jamie looked after him and tried in vain to ease his pains. Jameson frowned. He wanted to reach out and run his fingers through Jesse’s hair like he always did but he was too afraid of hurting the man or, worse yet, Jesse pulling away. Jameson wouldn’t be able to handle that sort of rejection. Instead, he chewed the inside of his cheek and tried to will Jesse silently into telling him. But he knew nothing of the sort would happen. Jesse was too private about his emotions and Jameson felt like that was partially his own fault. He’d always been the weak one, always been dependent on Jesse for stability and maybe, had he once and a while been that for Jess, things would be different now. Maybe Jesse wouldn’t be silently fighting a battle alone that Jamie could potentially help with. Life in Purgatory was full of all those should’a, could’a, would’a moments. And Jameson hated them.
Jamie leaned on the table and watched as blood continued to fall or smear from Jesse’s wounds, not quite coagulated. He winced as his eyes fell on Jesse’s swollen, ruined jaw. “You look like you’re in so much pain.” He whispered and, again, longed to touch Jesse but was so scared of hurting him that he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Not even a small caress. When Jesse nodded his approval for Jamie to bring him some ice, Jamie went swiftly into the kitchen and put the cold cubes inside of a bag which he then wrapped in a tea towel. He brought it out to Jesse and held it out. “Do you want me to hold it for you?” He asked, cursing himself silently for the sound of pleading desperation that was in his tone. It was almost like his voice had said, ‘Please, let me help you. I will do anything to help you.’ without Jamie actually speaking the words.
And there was something else he noticed when he came back into the room. At first, Jamie thought maybe he was imagining it but quickly realized that, no, those were real tears streaming down Jesse’s bruised face. Jamie put the ice down on the table and got on his knees in front of Jesse whose head was tilted downward. He put his hands on Jesse’s knees. “Jess… what’s the matter?” He begged, his voice was more desperate now than it had been before only this time Jamie didn’t care what it sounded like. He wanted Jesse to know that he cared, wanted Jesse to realize that Jameson was there for him. He wanted the younger man to see that he could be for Jess what Jesse had been for him. He reached up and gently, so gently wiped a tear from Jesse’s cheek. “I want to help you, love…” He said as he squeezed Jesse’s knee. “But you’ve got to talk to me. You have to.”
It was ironic, really. In some really fucked up, convoluted way, it was ironic that the one thing Jamie asked of Jesse, the one thing he pleaded with him to do was also the one thing that hurt Jesse the most: talk. Even the slightest motion of his jaw, parting his lips just barely, sent bullets of white hot pain shooting through the swollen lower half of his face, rippling down the muscles of his neck. And normally, he’d just grit his teeth and deal with it, but even just thinking about the agony that kind of pressure on the fissure in his bone would cause made his jaw ache. But he couldn’t succumb to the pain either, let even a hint of it show on his features, because then Jamie would know he was lying through his teeth (though, judging by the concern clouding Jamie’s features, Jesse wasn’t quite convinced he didn’t already know).
Jesse flinched slightly when Jamie reached up to wipe away a stray tear on his cheek, resisting the urge to push Jamie’s hand away. Christ, he felt so conflicted. He wished he could just melt into Jamie’s touch, bury his face in his neck and let Jamie console him, tell him everything was alright and not to worry, never to worry. But he couldn’t do that, could he? Not with Flynn’s bitter voice echoing in his head. You left him alone. You weren’t there to protect him. He’ll never trust you again.
“I - I don’t want to talk about it, Jamie,” Jesse murmured quietly, wincing at the way his voice cracked on the older man’s name. He chewed on his lower lip, tearing it apart with his teeth and trying to ignore the way even that tiny range of motion brought fresh tears to the corners of his eyes. It was a nervous habit, he couldn’t help it. Fuck him and his fucking emotions, why couldn’t he keep them in check? He’d done it for years, carefully concealed any sadness, any distress and kept Jamie convinced he was nothing short of entirely stable and perpetually content. He averted his gaze from Jamie, eyes darting around the room to anything and everything except his face. He knew what he’d see if he looked at Jamie; he’d see sadness and concern, frown lines deepening on either side of his mouth as he studied Jesse’s wounds. Those frown lines, that sadness, it was all Jesse’s fault. The thought stung like a dagger through his chest. Flynn was fucking right; he’d never be good enough for Jamie. He’d never cause him anything but pain and worry and duress. To accept comfort from him and repay him with pain was cruel; it was wrong.
That wasn’t to say he didn’t want to, though. In all honesty, Jesse wanted nothing more than to curl up by Jamie’s side, rest his head in his lap, close his eyes and let the older man hold the ice to his cheek and run his fingers through his hair until he dozed off. He wanted to let Jamie help him, comfort him, because he knew Jamie could ease his pain better than any pain killers or ice packs ever could. But the nagging voice in the back of his mind kept screaming at him, telling him how much he didn’t deserve it. He didn’t deserve that kind of comfort, especially not from Jamie. He reached across the kitchen table, picking up the bag of ice wrapped in the tea towel and turning it over in his hands a few times.
“I just,” Jesse started, clutching the towel tightly and trying to keep his lip from trembling as he spoke. He exhaled slowly, shakily, and finally looked up at Jamie, his voice barely above a whisper. There was no hiding the tears now, though, and they spilled silently over his lashes and down his cheeks, leaving wet tracks on the hot, swollen skin. “I just can’t stop thinking that Flynn was right. That I - fuck, that I don’t deserve you.”
It had been several hours since the fight at the bar; several hours since Flynn’s hands had been wrapped around Jesse’s throat, strangling him as Jamie fought to pull the older man off of him; several hours since he’d been pinned to the floor, glass digging into his shoulders through his shirt as he tried to swallow down the blood in his mouth and draw in an adequate breath; several hours since Jamie had pulled Jesse’s head into his lap carefully and brushed his hair out of his face, sticky with blood and sweat and christ knows what.
It had been several hours, and yet, Flynn’s words were still fresh in Jesse’s mind, smarting worse than the fracture in his jaw and the bruises mottling his neck ever could. It was a different kind of pain; it wasn’t like the steady throbbing of a cracked bone or a chipped tooth; it could hardly be compared to the sting of broken blood vessels blooming beneath his skin. No, it was nothing like that. The pain caused by Flynn’s words was a slow, steady, persistent ache that settled deep in his chest and forced a wince out of him with every shallow breath. From the moment he left the bar, clutching Jamie’s shoulder as he struggled to keep himself upright - the most help he’d allow himself to take from the other man after he’d pulled himself up off the floor - Jesse told himself it was from the strain that had been put on his lungs, the way they’d been spasming as he tried frantically to suck in a breath through the pressure of Flynn’s hands on his throat. He repeated it to himself, a personal mantra, a desperate attempt to drown out Flynn’s cruel, devastating words: how could a pathetic waste of space like you ever be good enough for Jameson?
Even now, slumped over and exhausted in a chair at Jamie’s kitchenette table, Jesse couldn’t seem to force the words from his thoughts. They echoed in his mind like a broken record, rewinding and repeating over and over and Jesse was having trouble focusing on anything else. He blinked slowly, swallowing hard and trying to concentrate on the words that were coming from Jamie’s lips. He sounded concerned, worried. Jesse could make out a few words here and there, something about ice and how it must hurt to talk with the way his jaw was swelling. But Flynn’s voice overpowered Jamie’s, spewing insults at him about how Jamie shouldn’t even trust him, not after the things he’d done. The worst part of it all was how undeniably true it was, how Jesse couldn’t even try to refute it because every single word was the honest to god truth. He squeezed his eyes shut tightly and buried his hands in his hair, trying to blink back the tears that were threatening to fall. He’d told Jamie he was fine and god damn it, he was going to be fine, no matter how fucking bad it hurt. Everything hurt.
“Let me get you some ice?” The offer was gentle, laced with concern, and Jesse almost wanted to say no. No, thank you, he didn’t need any ice, it was just a bit swollen but it’d be fine in a little while. He didn’t want Jamie to worry about him, didn’t deserve to have Jamie worrying about him. He was supposed to be Jamie’s rock, the constant, solid presence meant to comfort him, to protect him, not the other way around. It was the only thing he’d ever been good at. Or, rather, the only thing he’d thought he was good at, but he’d written that off as a delusion now. He couldn’t even protect Jamie from Flynn. He wasn’t worth Jamie’s time and he knew it, even if the other man wasn’t entirely convinced yet.
But Jesse didn’t say no, didn’t turn down the offer out of fear that it would only hurt Jamie more. And really, hadn’t he already done enough damage? Jesse nodded slightly, a barely noticeable tilt of the head, and murmured a quiet thanks to the older man, not even bothering to pull his gaze from the linoleum of the table. Besides, as much as he’d insisted to Jamie that the fracture wasn’t half as bad as it looked, he couldn’t deny that it hurt like a bitch and a cold compress might dull the ache, if only temporarily. He exhaled slowly as he heard Jamie’s foot steps retreat, presumably toward his kitchen to retrieve the ice, and wiped gingerly at the few tears that had managed to slip over his lashes and down his cheeks. He wouldn’t cry, not in front of Jamie. The man barely believed him when he said he wasn’t in that much pain - with good reason, he assumed, but he was stubborn and he’d bothered Jamie enough already. But trying to reassure him that no, he was fine, really, with tears streaming down his face and dripping onto the table, well, that would be a lost cause.
Then Jamie was standing at the edge of the table with something in his hand Jesse could only assume was the ice, but he couldn’t see it through the tears blurring his vision. And Jesse wiped furiously at his eyes with the back of his hand, ignoring the searing pain the rough action sent shooting through the left half of his face. He tried to force the distress from his face as he looked up at Jamie, who, to his credit, didn’t appear to be fooled at all.
[It’s getting very steamy under the cut. How about a little smut to break up all the tension on the dash?]