Characters: Jonathon, Jamie; mentions of family members.
Rating: Mature, later on, just for non-graphic but still rough mentions of child abuse and a kiss between two consenting adult men. If that freaks you out, close this window and just go away, that's all.
Teaser: Jonathon and Jamie, and a handful of moments from their odd and growingly close relationship— the shooting, and Tad's resulting coma; moving changes, and all of its oddities; a short and bitter glimpse into a Jonathon Christmas; trying to keep Jamie's mind off of the anniversary of Tad's shooting and consecutive coma… and the new things it accidentally brings about.
AN: A few notes about this one, and to answer a few questions some people might have—as I said in one update of 'Stupid,' there are a few things that were changed before the MGB explosion, the moment when the story officially shifts into an alternate universe take on the world of PV. Josh's parentage, a product of stolen eggs instead of an unabortion, was one. Janet's breakdown, and the reason behind it, has been changed slightly, but not by much—it'll be explained later on, when we finally delve more deeply into the David/Amanda aspect of the AU world. The Lily/Jon relationship is one of these things—as in, it never happened. Why? Because it was just too sick to be ignored and instead of giving us an actual storyline behind Jon's recovery, they tried to white-wash his history and used picture-of-innocence Lily to do it. That said, his recovery from the surgery, while not hyper-slow, also wasn't fast, per se. Around early April, he finally started balancing out and, well, things started moving more quickly for him, story-wise. Just wanted to clear a few quick things up. If you look carefully, you'll get some 'Stupid' backstory, as it were -- this one will be four or five short parts, just because my Muse wants me to write them. Take it up with her, heh.

-

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world mad world

- Gary Jules, 'Mad World'

-

May, 2006

-

Jamie didn't have anyone to support him anymore.

Despite everything he had done over the last several years, despite letting parents think their children were dead, despite the fact that they had been at odds since Dixie had walked unsure and trembling back into their lives—despite everything, Tad had been standing by him, even when there had been a dull glint of exhausted disappointment in his father's gaze.

He'd been the only one his father had stood by.

Jamie felt somehow overwhelmingly lonely, and found that he had no words for it.

So he stood around, and tried to look like he was doing something, playing with clipboards and pens and papers, spending a good half-hour babbling to Anita about whether or not the peanuts in the waiting room were safe for human consumption. Anita insisted that they were, and finally gave him a few words of comfort and went back to work, suggesting over her shoulder that he go home and get a few hours of sleep.

He didn't want to sleep, found that he was afraid to.

"You look like a dead man walking."

He jerked, glanced over his shoulders to find Jonathon standing there, studying him with an odd intensity. Jamie stared, guiltily aware of how late it was and how dead on his feet he probably looked, and squirmed a bit, shifting eyes away from the older man and to the clipboard he was playing with, frowning as he stared down at his doodles of Spongebob Squarepants. "I'm not tired."

Jonathon snorted, but shrugged, and Jamie blinked, watching as two bags were neatly deposited in front of him, and he picked up the unmistakable scent of Chinese. "I'm not hungry, either," he managed, reaching up hastily to wipe a sudden dribbling of drool from his bottom lip, and then squirmed more when dark eyes stripped him down and left him to flounder, unhappily aware of how freaking good Jonathon was at telling when somebody was lying.

"I brought you chicken," Jon explained lightly, basically tossing a container towards Jamie to catch with a yelp of surprise, and then dropping the clipboard as a plastic fork went spinning toward his face, possibly to blind him for life. "I'm not hungry," he repeated more sullenly, nearly poking himself in the eye as he ripped open the container and proceeded to cram several large pieces of chicken into his mouth, next words muffled before Jonathon clamped a hand across his mouth with a disgusted glance, avoiding the sudden spray of semi-chewed meat.

"Jesus, James, you're like that little kid who used to follow me around in first grade."

"You had—" Jamie almost choked in his haste to swallow and had to get a fist to his back as his eyes suddenly watered. Coughing, clearing his throat, he chewed more slowly, realizing that if he did that again Jon would take his food—he could see it in sharp dark eyes and the line of irritation wrinkling Jon's forehead. "You went to school?"

"How else do you think I got out of there a few hours a day?"

It made sense, even if it went against everything Jamie had been building up in the back of his brain over the last months—Jon and Erin locked up in the basement of some dingy house and while he knew that the dingy part of it was right, and it explained Jon's sometimes disturbing paranoia when it came to keeping his otherwise pitiful apartment clean, they had apparently left the dingy house.

Which only brought up more confusing feelings for Jamie, who had happy memories of fat red crayons and clean lined papers when he looked back at his school years. His nightmares had consisted of clowns and rabbits that had gotten sick of having their feet cut off, and had come back for revenge—most of the rabbit revenge scenarios had ended up with him huddled up in bed with his mother, sometimes calling his father to warn him about the long-eared fiends out for blood, and to watch out for Dixie and JR, because the twitchy-nosed things would surely go after them, too.

Jon was staring at him, looking faintly uncomfortable, and he realized with a blink that he had been staring blankly long enough to unnerve the older man and very quickly looked down, shoving more food into his mouth and mumbling something as he kicked absently at the floor, feeling guilty for staring.

He always felt guilty for staring.

"How is he?"

He chewed for a moment, hesitating before finally answering quietly, feeling both guilty and suddenly lonely again, something that had abated in the last few moments. "They're worried about his blood loss, and a lot of them are talking about… they're worried that he might have a stroke—a stroke or something." Another jab into a hunk of chicken and he chewed the suddenly tasteless stuff with a grimace, aware of too-intelligent eyes studying him intently.

"I'm sure he'll be fine—"

"Yeah, right—"

A heavy silence, oddly harsh and Jamie poked at his broccoli and beef, unhappily impressed that Jonathon had remembered his favorites. But then, his father was close to death, so he couldn't help but suspect that the dedication stemmed from awkward pity, which was usually what he felt in dealing with Jonathon—it was odd to feel it coming from the other side of things.

"I was shot, and then I had a cave collapse on top of me… trust me, he'll be fine—"

"Not everyone's you."

"That's a good thing."

Jamie didn't know what to say, and finally settled for saying nothing at all, happy that most everybody had finally left—Opal escorted away by Palmer, and Dixie, to everyone's great horror, dragged off by Derek. Grandpa had left soon after, intending to get her out but Jamie hadn't heard from him since, which made him even more nervous about it all.

Everything was wrong, and he had the unhappy feeling it would be getting worse.