Title: He Shall Not Want
Pairing(s): Hints of Jonah/Matt, but mostly gen.
Disclaimer: The Haunting in Connecticut and all affiliated characters do not (and will never) belong to me.
Just something I came up with whilst watching The Haunting in Connecticut with my friend. Please enjoy (:
It's so white, so… so clean. It radiates purity like the dreams that were so out of his reach in life; like the illusions of a paradise that could only be shattered day after horrible day.
He briefly entertains the thought that this might be heaven, but of course heaven wouldn't be open for one such as him.
Being used was something he was accustomed to. Even before Dr. Aickman, even before the spirits – there was always someone. Always someone.
He reaches towards one of the stones, the feel of it smooth instead of the roughness he expected. There is a name, but when he tries to look at the script it fades away.
When he had first started working for Aickman, he had thought it to be a grand opportunity, and at first it had been everything. The doctor had praised his talents, he had called him gifted; he had detailed how rare it was for someone such as him to exist, and how he should feel special, because "I need you, Jonah – without you none of this could ever be possible." He should have realized then that the words were traps, and that eventually they would serve as the shackles that bound him to a network of chains and restraints.
Chains that, link by link, would eventually destroy him.
There are trees here, too – green and brown, glowing with an eerie kind of light that can only be described as ethereal. Even so, it calms him, and that's enough for now. It's not heaven, he thinks, but it certainly isn't hell.
The first time had gone without folly, and when it was over the doctor had glanced at him over thick spectacles and given him a nod of approval that had made Jonah's heart swell with a sort of pride he hadn't felt in years – not since his mother had found out and introduced him to the sting of the wooden spoon, the wood smarting against his skin over and over as she screamed at her "devil's child." She had only been too happy to hand him over to the doctor, and Jonah had been all too happy to go.
Belatedly, he wonders if these graves – at least some of them – contain the bodies of the demons, though he supposes it's hardly fair to call them such. They were angry souls, wrathful with cause, and they had been his responsibility – his netherworld curse and his constant burden to bear. And in the end his efforts hadn't been enough. Worse still, he had been forcibly removed from the house, failing in yet another thing as his protective sphere around the occupying family, the Campbells, had withered away under the fury of the souls contained within.
He, and his failures, had put that family in danger, and Matt Campbell's almost-death… his increasing illness… well that had been his fault too.
He was first introduced to that room in the basement almost two years after entering the doctor's services, and by then he had been so completely ensnared that it was too late for him to leave. He was trapped in a cage made from his own fear, the bars so heavy and so thick that not even the strongest of men could have budged them in the slightest. He had tried running multiple times, making mad dashes to his room to grab clothes only to be intercepted by the doctor who always knew, somehow he always knew and he was always there to drag him back down, pulling him from the light of the day and down into that pit that stank of blood and the cadavers, their skin etched in Latin like some grotesque sacrifices and their milky eyes staring, just staring at him until his stomach churned and he was sick in a corner, the doctor looking over his shoulder mildly, tools in hand and always ready to begin anew.
"Once again, Jonah, my boy. I'm so very proud of you."
In another life, he thinks he would have liked to know Matt Campbell more. The glimpses he got – tantalizing ones, overpowering feelings and urges and dreams and things he never got to know – are enough to make him more than regret the Hell he knows he put the boy through. He knows the pain reflected in Matt's brown eyes almost as well as he know his own: the feelings of helplessness, the desire to do more, the wishes. But he also knows that, should he choose, there wouldn't be a thing Matt could not do. His soul, the sensations Jonah had felt from it… they told him – no, they tell him – everything he needs to know.
A smile, fleeting, lights Jonah's face. Matt Campbell would be his singular unsolved regret, but also, he suspects, his most convoluted triumph.
The families were always the same kind, and they always carried the same desperate reek to them. It was something he had become far too accustomed to, to the point where he just tuned it out immediately. There would always been someone, he reasoned, who wanted to contact a loved one on the other side, and for a moment he could even lose his emotions in theirs, until the horrors filled him and he wanted nothing more than to run and escape this house and the shadows that accompanied it at every turn.
Matt is here, he realizes. The youth's hands are in his pockets as he walks among the graves. He looks uncomfortable. Lost.
Jonah feels a faint flicker of… of something. A warmth that envelopes him from the chest and spreads to every corner of his body, leaving his fingers with a faint tingling sensation, like the pins and needles he was so accustomed to. He knows the name of his feeling, but he also knows that it has no real place here. Perhaps in another time, in another place, it could have meant something, but that is neither then nor now, and nor will it ever be.
The walls were built to cover the bodies not only from the populace but also, Jonah suspected, from himself. It still did nothing against the souls that plagued him at every turn, though, their disembodied voices whispering their stories and their anger into his ears at every turn. They promised him death. They promised him revenge.
What scared him the most was that he was starting to believe what they said.
Matt is looking at him, his face so pale and sickly and gaunt and it makes Jonah ache. This boy has done so much for him, he has been so crucial, even unwilling. And he was far more grateful than he could ever hope to express. He can hear the mother calling distantly, her voice panicked and so full of love and despair that it makes him want to weep; weep for that same affection that he had never gotten in his life, for the warmth of a mother's embrace and for the unconditional love that seeped through Sarah Campbell's every pore – the love for her son that kept her going through everything.
At that moment, he thinks that Matt understands it, too.
During the last séance, he felt something off almost instantly. There was too much energy in the room – too many voices vying to be heard, their airy fingernails scratching at his skin and pulling him this way at that, desperate to be acknowledged. Nearby, Aickman held him with his eyes, sharp grey and hidden entirely by spectacles. It is enough. With steady hands that hid the nervousness and fear he felt, Jonah glanced into the faces of the men and women present, not quite able to keep the fear from his face before his eyes closed and he whispered the words he had known for so long.
The pain of the spirits' insistence was something akin to running into a wall. He tried to break the connection, gasping, his hands clenching those of the woman next to him, but they were too strong too strong he could not hold them for much longer and then he was slumped over a table, his body useless to him as liquid pooled from his mouth onto the cloth. The shaking began then, and the ectoplasm, when it came, was streaked with gold and fire and the brimstone of every Hell that had ever been featured in his nightmares.
Five minutes later, when everyone lay dead, he had tried once more to run. He hadn't expected to get far, but the fear that overwhelmed him when the oven sealed around him – the physical pain of the flames – was enough to draw the most bloodcurdling scream imaginable from his throat.
And so, with his death, he bound himself to the house. He kept the spirits in order, away and calm under his watchful eye. He had managed it for years. Then the Campbells had arrived and his life had spiralled out of his control once again.
The old man looks at him when Jonah materializes outside the burning house, his face full of a kind of awe that Jonah is not accustomed to – it's a look that conveys too many things, things like wonder and fear because of course Jonah is an unknown, but it's a look that… that thanks him all the same. He cannot describe it, but it eases something inside that he didn't know he carried until it was gone, leaving him slightly breathless, his chest heaving as he turns back to Matt. In that brief moment their eyes meet, Matt's full of a nameless emotion that Jonah cannot understand, but for the first time he thinks he truly sees – sees this family so brimming with love, so full of hope for their dying son who has done far more than Jonah himself could ever express.
It was the least he could do, then, before he left for good, making sure Matt could continue the life Jonah himself had never had the chance to live.