AN: I really have no excuse for why this is late, beyond the fact that the first two parts of this chapter were hell to write. Sorry! Hopefully, the chapter makes up for it.
Pitch scrubbed a hand through his hair, staring at the door in front of him. He had attempted to knock nearly three times now, but he kept losing his nerve before he could actually go through with it.
He didn't know what he was supposed to do honestly.
Last night's conversation had gone… well, horrifically, to put it lightly.
Pitch truly still couldn't believe he had said such a thing to the boy.
In his defense though, Jack had stepped out of line as well with his little 'whore' comment. Really, that had been completely uncalled for.
…But that still hardly excused his reaction. There was nothing, nothing, that would ever justify suggesting he should have just let those men take the boy. That he should have just allowed them to- to-
Pitch drew in a shaky breath.
Calm down, he chided himself, it's over, there's no reason to panic He's safe.
But he still needed to fix this.
Their relationship hadn't exactly been going smoothly before last night, but at least it had been something. Now… well.
He'd have to do something about this, or neither of them would ever move past it.
He had stayed up nearly the entire night, pacing across his room, unable to sleep while trying to think of some way to apologize to the boy.
But as experience showed, words meant little to Jack, so he would have to be a little more creative.
And if his only solution was something that put him a bit out of his comfort zone well then… it was at least worth a shot.
Pitch took a deep breath, steeling himself, before knocking on the large wooden door.
He paused, waiting for a response.
When none came he frowned, knocking once more.
"Jack?" He called, listening intently for any signs of the boy.
When he still didn't receive an answer, he glanced about the large room.
He hadn't seen Jack on the couch this morning, so he assumed that meant to boy was in the bedroom…
He cracked the door open, and paused for a moment, before braving a glance inside.
Pitch eyes scanned the bed, finding it as empty and immaculate as the first day they had arrived.
He frowned, and was about to close to door to look for the boy further, when his eyes fell on the loveseat next to the window.
Pitch's crinkled in confusion at the sight of Jack curled up on the seat, still fast asleep.
What was it about this boy and sleeping on an actual bed?
He sighed, stepping into the room, and flicking on the light.
Jack just shifted, mumbling something in his sleep as he tucked his head further into the arm of the chair.
Pitch considered approaching the boy, but recalling the incident from the other day, he thought better of it.
"Jack," Pitch called again, a bit louder this time.
The boy suddenly jerked awake, eyes wide as he flailed, nearly falling off the chair.
Jack gripped the armrest of the loveseat, before letting out a shaky breath. It took a moment for the boy to collect himself, eyes flicking between Pitch and the window in front of him. But once he had finally regained his bearings he turned to face Pitch fully, expression decidedly blank.
"What?" the boy asked, voice monotone.
Pitch cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable and a little unsure. "I was ah- I was just wandering if you'd like to go out for the day."
Jack's eyes narrowed as he turned back to face the window. "If it's another one of your little 'business trips' then forget it."
"It- it's not," Pitch said, stumbling a bit.
Damnit all, why had his ability to articulate anything suddenly abandon him when he needed it the most?
Jack didn't bother to turn back around.
Pitch took a deep breath. "I actually was wondering if you'd like to go to a neighboring town. There's an amusement park around there. If you're interested, we could- we could go."
Jack finally turned back to look at him, expression still neutral.
A few moments of tense silence passed, and just as Pitch was beginning to regret his decision, Jack shrugged.
"Whatever," the boy deadpanned, before turning back to the window again.
Pitch blinked in surprise.
Well… that had been easier than he thought.
He cleared his throat again. "Good," he said. "We'll be leaving in half an hour then, will you be ready?"
Jack just nodded. "Yeah, sure."
Pitch paused, worrying at his bottom lip, before nodding as well. "Alright then," he said, closing the door softly.
The man walked back to his room, and slumped down as the door closed behind him, letting out a breath of relief.
Well. At the very least it was a start.
Jack took a deep breath before pulling his blue hoodie over his head.
It had taken him a few moments to stop shaking all together after Pitch had finally left, and to even start getting ready to face the day.
He knew what Pitch was doing, of course he did.
Jack didn't want an apology, he didn't want to hear how 'sorry' the bastard was, and he didn't want some 'heartfelt' confession about how much he 'regretted' saying what he had.
At the very least, Black seemed to have figured out that much.
But now apparently Pitch thought he could bribe him to accept his apology.
Jack snorted at the thought.
Yeah, that was going to work out.
Not that he really cared. If Pitch wanted to waste his money trying to buy some sort of 'forgiveness', then that was his business.
His loss was Jack's gain, as far as the boy was concerned.
As nice a gesture as Pitch may have thought his offer was, it didn't undo two hours spent shaking and gasping for breath on the bathroom floor. It didn't make the reality behind his words any less real, and it didn't stop the truth from sinking in.
He had never really let it register, what had almost happened that day in the alley, never really thought about what it would have meant if Pitch hadn't shown up. He just blew it off every time it came to mind.
He told himself he would have figured a way out of it. He would have ran. He would have been strong enough to stop them.
…But in truth, he had no idea what would have happened.
No. That was a lie. He did know what would have happened. That's why he had avoided thinking about it.
He had been cornered, trapped, and outmatched. In reality, they had him beat before the game had even begun.
He hadn't had a chance in hell of making it out of there.
And he hadn't- had never really… allowed himself to think of what exactly would have happened, if Pitch hadn't shown up. Never really thought to consider what would have happened had the man just brushed off his existence altogether, like everyone else had.
…Until last night.
It was the first time he had really been forced to admit the truth to himself. And it wasn't pretty.
He had been waiting, the entire time, for the other shoe to drop. For Pitch to indicate just why he had really wanted Jack there to begin with. Or for the man to just get sick of him and let him off the hook early, whichever happened first.
But out of everything he hadn't expected… that.
Out of everything he had prepared himself for, he hadn't been prepared for Pitch to say he should have left him that day. That he should have just let Bruce, and his idiot brother, take him to Rod.
He hadn't been ready to hear Pitch say that he should have let them just whore him out to anyone they pleased. And he hadn't been prepared for him to say that Jack deserved it.
And he didn't even know why, why of all things, that he had felt betrayed by that.
Why had he thought that Pitch believed he was worth anything else?
Maybe… maybe it had been because Pitch had saved him when no one else had cared to interfere… Maybe it was because he had pushed for Jack to talk with him, because he tried give him something constant, when no one else could be bothered… Maybe it was the way he had stood up for him against Bunny back at the shop, or bothered to be annoyingly concerned about what he was up to.
He still didn't know how to feel about any of that. About anything Pitch had done for him. He wasn't used to it; he didn't even know how to respond. Not to mention the fact that he still didn't understand Pitch's motivation for anything he had done to begin with.
…But he supposed it didn't matter now.
Pitch could say whatever he wanted now, but it didn't change anything. And it didn't take back the fact that he had meant what he said.
The reality of everything finally hitting him, of what Pitch had said, and of what it had meant, had been overwhelming. It had left him panicking and dry heaving in front of the bathroom toilet, locked off from whatever the world wanted to hit him with next.
Panic attacks weren't entirely… uncommon. They had started about a year before he had left the home, so he had learned over time how to handle himself during one. But that didn't mean that they were any less unpleasant.
The most he found he could do is lock himself away from the world, and just ride it out while letting the panic attack run its course.
…Or just wait until he blacked out form lack of air, whichever happened first.
After last night, he honestly didn't feel up to going anywhere, but he supposed it didn't really matter. Sitting in the penthouse all day wasn't going to do much to help, in fact it would probably make things worse.
…And he'd never actually been to an amusement park before. He couldn't help but be a bit curious as to what it was really all about. The closest he had ever gotten was a carnival that he had been taken to when he was eleven, not long before they finally put him in a group home for the first time.
It had been fun, but he didn't remember all that much about it.
So if he couldn't just stay here and stew in misery for the rest of the day, an amusement park didn't sound like a bad alternative.
…At least, that's why he assumed he had agreed to go. When he had answered, he hadn't really thought it through.
He just hoped he didn't end up regretting this. Because as interesting as a day at an amusement park sounded, he would also be spending it with Pitch. And that alone was enough to make him cringe, especially because he'd have to spend over an hour in the same car with the man.
Well, maybe I'll get lucky and be able to lose him in the park, Jack thought bitterly.
…But he doubted it.
Jack just sighed, shaking his head, and running his hands through his hair, ruffling it into place, before stepping out into the foyer.
He couldn't' help but let out a breath of relief when he noticed that Pitch wasn't waiting for him already. At least he had a few minutes longer without being subjected to the bastard's presence.
But before he had the chance to collapse on the sofa, and consider catching up on lost sleep, Pitch stepped out of his temporary bedroom in all his tailor suited glory.
Jack couldn't stop his incredulous snort. "You've got to be kidding me."
Pitch glanced at him in surprise. "Is there something wrong….?" He asked, raising a brow.
Jack just bit down on his lip and shook his head, trying to keep from snickering. "No, nothing at all," he said, keeping his voice devoid of any inflection. "Just, you know," he waved his hand in Pitch's general direction.
Pitch frowned in consternation, looking down at himself before glancing back to Jack in confusion.
The boy just rolled his eyes. "Are you seriously going to an amusement park dressed like that?"
"What do you mean?" The man asked, glancing down at his attire again.
"The fact that you even have to ask that is sad," Jack said, shaking his head.
Pitch pursed his lips, obviously a bit flustered, unsure what he was missing. "I don't see the problem."
"Obviously," Jack muttered under his breath, before directing his attention back to Pitch. "Don't you own a pair of jeans or something?"
Pitch just blinked at him owlishly. "Why on earth would I need jeans on a business trip?"
Jack just sighed. "Let me rephrase that: Do you have any casual clothes that won't leave me embarrassed just to be seen with you?"
The man thought for a moment before nodding hesitantly, "I suppose I could find something."
"Great," the boy said, grimacing. "So can you just, you know, change? So I'm not overly humiliated just by being seen in public with you?"
Pitch shot him a half-hearted glare before letting out a frustrated huff and trudging back into the room, shoulders hunched in defeat.
On any other day, it may have actually seemed funny, but Jack just really couldn't bring himself to laugh.
It almost felt painfully normal; Pitch's failing at something so fundamentally ordinary and more or less making an ass out of himself was something that he certainly would expect of the man. But the interaction still left a bitter taste in his mouth, one he couldn't seem to shake even with the reminder of their regular banter.
He just grimaced, and sat down in a nearby chair, learning his head against the wall.
Jack didn't have to wait long before Pitch came out of his room again, this time dressed in khaki slacks and a black button down shirt.
Jack stared at the man for a moment, before groaning and begrudgingly grumbling, "Whatever… it'll work."
Pitch still frowned, but just nodded. "Alright, then we can head out. I just need to inform Boris that we won't be requiring his assistance today."
Jack just nodded, and didn't bother to wait for Pitch to say anything else before walking out the door.
He tried to pretend that he didn't feel Pitch's solemn gaze burning holes in his back.
The car ride was agonizingly silent… and awkward.
Pitch had attempted to start a conversation with Jack several times over the past half hour, but the boy had made it very clear that he had no interest in participating. After a few one word responses, and five minutes of the silent treatment, he had given up.
Jack was constantly getting more and more restless. Usually the boy just released whatever pent up energy he had through simple movement, tapping his foot or his fingers, or by wringing his hands. Anything of the sort.
But now it seemed he simply couldn't keep still for more than a few minutes, and couldn't decide whether he'd rather have the window rolled up or down.
Pitch was trying his best to not get irritated at the boy, for he knew that car rides tended to put Jack on edge. He didn't want to end up snapping at Jack and end up making things worse than they already were (if that was even possible).
Pitch sighed, trying to think of some way to relieve the oppressive silence.
He still had yet to attempt a proper apology, and honestly he was a little afraid of what may happen if he did.
…But he supposed now would be as good a time as any to at least try and cover some ground regarding his massive screw up from the night before.
Pitch took a deep breath, before turning to face Jack, who was currently staring resolutely at the headrest in front of him, fingers drumming against the car door.
"Jack," Pitch said, softly, trying to gain the boy's attention. "I am-"
"Don't," the boy cut him off, his expression and tone giving nothing away.
Pitch startled a bit, and drew back, frowning. "I just-"
Jack interrupted him, harshly. "I said, don't, okay?"
Pitch just stared at the boy for a long time, heart sinking in his chest before he finally turned back around.
He suddenly felt far too old for… well much of anything really. Both too old and too young. He couldn't help but feel both weary and clueless as to how to clean up his own mess.
Jack's rejection stung, much more than he cared to admit, but he wasn't really sure what more he had expected the boy to say. Obviously, Jack knew that he had been trying to apologize, meaning he had probably guessed that this little outing was a different sort of haphazard attempt at an apology. The only problem was that the boy obviously wasn't interested in listening…
Pitch just honestly hoped that Jack could at least accept the gesture for what it was. He doubted the boy would forgive him, but at the very least, he'd get the apology.
Before he had the chance to contemplate things any further, Pitch's attention was drawn away by a sharp intake of breath.
He glanced over to see Jack gripping the back of the seat in front of him, white knuckled, his breath stuttering in his chest.
"Jack?" he asked, worriedly.
The driver glanced at them from the corner of his eye, but didn't say anything.
Jack just exhaled harshly, looking out the window for a moment before demanding, "Pull over at that gas station."
Both the driver and Pitch shot him incredulous looks, not sure how to react for a moment.
"What?" the driver asked, obviously confused as he glanced between the boy and Pitch.
"Just do it," Jack yelled, forehead resting against the headrest in front of him, his fingers digging into the leather of the seats.
"Pull over," Pitch agreed, nodding to the driver, and pointing to the station that was coming up on their right.
The man just grimaced, before turning the wheel sharply, just barely braking in time to make the turn into the convenient store parking lot.
Jack opened the back door and had hopped out before the car had even come to a complete stop. He ran straight for the store, brushing past a couple walking out, and disappeared inside.
Pitch untangled himself from his seatbelt as quickly as possible before stepping out of the car as well, ignoring the drivers disbelieving gaze.
He pushed his way into the building, just barely catching glimpse of Jack disappearing behind a bend at the back of the store.
Pitch pushed his way past several customers, not quite caring who he ran into as he made his way to follow the boy. He was so single minded in his focus that he nearly crashed into the door marked 'restrooms' after rounding the corner he had seen Jack disappear behind.
He paused, noticing it was a single stalled bathroom, and slowly extended a hand. He attempted to turn the door handle, only to find it locked.
Pitch held his hand up to knock on the door, hoping to ask if Jack was alright. But the question was answered before he could even ask it, by the sound of retching on the other side of the door.
The man blinked in surprise, eyes wide. He couldn't help but feel caught between letting whatever was happening with Jack run its course, and wanting to try to do what he could to care for the teen.
Pitch grimaced, as he took a step back.
It wouldn't do him any good to try to interfere now; especially considering the fact that he doubted Jack was in any state to unlock the bathroom door even if Pitch demanded the boy let him in. Not to mention the fact, that he had a feeling the teen wouldn't take too kindly to his offer.
So he allowed himself to back off, and give Jack whatever space he may need.
He breathed out a small sigh as he leaned against the opposite wall, trying to let his thoughts finally catch up with the situation.
Pitch wondered what could have happened.
Sure the boy had been fidgety and on edge the entire car trip, but Pitch had thought that was just because of his minor claustrophobia. He hadn't believed the boy could get car sick… then again, Jack really hadn't been in cars very often, and certainly not for this long.
He just hoped the boy would be alright to at the very least get back in the car... Hopefully this also wasn't anything to severe, otherwise…
Pitch groaned at the idea of having to visit a doctor's office, or worse, a hospital. He hadn't been in one for nearly nine years now, and he was fine without going to one now.
…But if Jack needed a doctor, then Pitch was going to damn well make sure he got one. Both of their ensuring discomforts be damned.
Pitch grimaced as he waited for Jack, continually feeling more and more on edge.
Maybe this hadn't been a good idea…
Just as he was starting to believe that they should cancel the entire outing, Jack came out of the bathroom looking a little worse for wear.
Pitch surged forward at the sight of him, unthinkingly about to place a hand on the boy's shoulder. But Jack stepped out of his path, drawing in on himself.
Pitch stopped, and slowly lowered his hand as he stood straight.
"Are you alright?" Pitch asked, voice low. "What's the matter? Do you need anythi-"
"The only thing I need," Jack cut in harshly, "is for you to leave me alone. Just…" The boy trailed off, taking a deep breath. "Just give me a minute, okay?"
Pitch stared at the boy, and had to swallow down any indignant remark or concern before nodding hesitantly.
If the boy wanted space, he'd give it to him; he wasn't going to try to force his hand, especially in a situation like this.
Jack wandered away, for all the world, just seeming to be drifting aimlessly.
But Pitch watched the rise and fall of the boy's chest, how his breathing had yet to even out, how his shoulders were tensed, and how his hands had yet to stop shaking.
He didn't know what was going on with the boy, but he suddenly got the sinking feeling that it was a little more severe than car sickness… and more than likely had nothing to do with his physical health…
Pitch sighed, before making a tactical retreat back to the car, since he doubted Jack really wanted his presence lurking about.
The man sighed as he slid into the leather seats of the car, limbs feeling heavy.
The driver glanced at him, frowning. "Are you alright sir?" the man inquired.
Pitch just grimaced, but nodded. "Yes, I'm fine. I am worried about Jack though…"
The driver wisely didn't say anything further and just turned to turn the car back on.
Pitch leaned his head against the window as he waited to catch sight of Jack.
Surprisingly, he didn't have to wait too long. Within the next three minutes, Jack walked out of the store, a Sprite in hand, and his other hand shoved into his hoodie pocket.
Jack threw opened the door to the car, before sliding into the seat next to him, his brow drawn in concentration.
The boy just sighed as he closed the door behind him. "Come on," he said, pulling on the seatbelt, "let's just get back on the road."
Pitch eyed him cautiously, and the driver looked to Pitch for confirmation.
"Are you sure you're alright? If you're not feeling well-"
"I'm fine," the boy snapped. "Can we just go?"
Pitch stared at him for a moment longer, before sighing. "Fine, alright," he conceded, nodding to the driver.
The car was back on the road within moments, and the silence ringing throughout the car was back to being nearly deafening. It was only broken by the sound of Jack's Sprite bottle opening, letting out a slight fizz.
Pitch paused for a moment, before looking back at Jack, then to the Sprite in hand.
How had he…?
"Jack…" he began cautiously, "Did you buy that soda?"
He certainly didn't remember giving Jack any money…
The boy just tossed him a glance from the corner of his eye, shrugging.
Pitch just groaned, propping his head up on his hand.
Way, way in over his head.
AN:So, I'm really unsatisfied with this chapter. I had a lot of difficulty writing the first two parts, and after rewriting the entire scenes three times, I finally gave up, and just went with it. I don't know if any of it sounded natural or in character at all, but I did my best. (If anyone has tips as to how I could improve stuff like this, it's always appreciated.) And I'm sorry it's late. Like I said, it took forever just to write this short little chapter, because I just couldn't get the wording of anything right. It was originally supposed to have four parts to it, so I ended up cutting this chapter short. Both so I could just post it, and because it was already long, if I had written the rest of it ,it would have been overwhelming. But I hope despite it being short, late, and mainly Jack and Pitch's thoughts with very little action, that y'all still enjoyed it.
Hopefully I can have the next chapter up by next Monday. Thank you to all of you who have left reviews (I keep getting more each time I post, and I'm honestly freaking out, the response from you guys is amazing), have followed, favorited, or just read this story! You're all amazing and a good part of the reason I kept writing despite all the trouble this chapter gave me.
(This only applies to guests: I wanted to take a second to personally thank all of the guests who have reviewed this story, since I can't do it on the site itself. You guys are literally amazing! Some of you have reviewed quite a few times, and have been a huge part of the reason I keep writing this. Frostling for one, has been an amazingly consistent reviewer, and I am extremely grateful for them, and all the rest of you. Now, I do want to address some of the things that y'all have brought up. To the guest that didn't understand the 'whore' comment: It was thinly veiled, and sort of alluded to, that the men in the alley back in Seattle were planning on selling Jack into a local prostitution ring. They're sort of roaming criminals who will take money wherever they can find it, and actual, human black markets aren't as uncommon as you'd think in America. I don't know if there's actually one in SEATTLE, but they do exist, and that's what they were referring to. Jack had made the deal that he'd steal for them, and make them more money that way, than the money they could make by selling him off (which is really actually awful). I'm sorry this wasn't clear to you, I'm hoping it was to most people though, since you are the first to ask. I just didn't want it to be the sort of thing that was just so bluntly... said. If that makes any sense. To the guests who have been taking guesses at where the plot will go: I've known how I want this story to end, and what I want to climax to be for some time. Some of you have gotten rather close in your predictions, some of you haven't. I really do thank you for reviewing, and definitely do not discourage you doing so again, or discourage your from taking guesses at the plot, because it's interesting to see where you believe it will go. But do understand, that if I don't incorporate your specific idea, it's because I already have it planned out, and know what I want to happen and how, so please don't be offended. To the rest: Thank you all for your amazing reviews and encouragement. Really, all of you are just absolutely amazing.)