Title: Don't Worry, It's All in your Head
Prompt: Telepathic Trauma
Word Count: 1811
Summary: In a world where those with supernatural powers are hated and feared, one unfortunate boy gets his world turned upside down when he discovers that he isn’t nearly so average as he always assumed.
AN: Written, as the subject and tag say, for hc_bingo. Masterpost with game card is here.
For the first thirteen years of his life, Jaejoong had an average, if boring, existence.
He thought everyone always sort-of-but-not-quite heard the world as a background murmur no matter what they were doing.
He thought everyone knew their teachers hated them no matter how much the teachers pretended to smile or how much their parents sighed and huffed and told them to stop being stupid.
He even thought everyone’s parents looked at them increasingly oddly when they came for dinner before they were called or turned off the television before they were told or answered questions that hadn’t been asked yet.
For the first thirteen years of his life, Kim Jaejoong thought he was just another kid in another city living the same way as everyone else, and the things his parents watched late at night on the news had nothing to do with him. Things he never paid much attention to but that his parents talked about with disgust over dinner or when they thought he was in bed.
He thought wrong.
The beginning of the end of his average, if boring, existence, started with a headache. He probably would have tried to beg off from school, except that his parents had already left for work, like every morning, so he didn’t even bother to get out of bed. His school was large, and his home room teacher had more things to worry about than one truant first year. He tried to go back to sleep, hiding under the covers from the sunlight creeping through his window.
The headache got worse.
He gave up on sleeping and stumbled his way down the hall to look for something he could eat that might help. He managed a sip of water before his stomach informed him in no uncertain terms that if he tried anything more of the sort, it would rebel with his head.
The headache got worse.
He barely made it to the couch in the living room before collapsing, the pain in his head building like pressure inside a balloon being blown up. He closed his eyes tightly and pressed his hands to his head, terrified that if he let go, it might pop like an overinflated balloon, too, scattering bits of brain and hair around the living room and his mother would kill him for getting gore everywhere. But it hurt so much.
He felt something damp, like water, running from his ears and that was when he finally passed out.
He woke again to the sound of his mother’s voice from somewhere near the door, wondering why he always had to be so much trouble and why she couldn’t have a son who just did what he was supposed to do, just once.
He called out to apologize, carefully sitting up, trying not to anger the headache still pounding at the edge of his awareness, telling her he was sorry for disappointing her, but it wasn’t his fault. He opened his eyes to see his mother, hand still on the handle of the front door, eyes wide, and then he realized that she hadn’t actually spoken a word yet.
And neither had he.
He wanted to explain. He wanted to apologize even more. He never wanted to make her look at him like that again. After a few seconds, the expression faded into one of more guarded fear -he knew it was fear, he could HEAR it- and she stepped further inside, closing and locking the door. She pointed at him like she wished she had something sharper than just a finger. “You. Stay there. And don’t... don’t do anything like that again.”
She went down the hall and he could hear her fumbling in her purse to find her phone, could hear her calling his father and begging him to come home quickly, could hear more than that, but he turned around and curled back up on the couch, and tried to block everything out.
It didn’t work.
There’s something wrong. Jaejoong is a freak. My son is a freak. Not my son. He’s not my son. My son wouldn’t be a freak. I can’t have a freak for a son. He can’t be my son.
He didn’t move until his father came home, all but running in the door. His father’s thoughts were even louder than his mother’s and Jaejoong almost cried, pressing hands to his ears like it would help.
A hand grabbed his arm, jerking him up from the couch to find himself faced with his father. He was drowning in accusations, and now he really was crying. His father shook him. “Is it true? Are you... one of them?”
He shook his head frantically. He didn’t even know what his father meant, he didn’t know who ‘they’ were, how could he be one of ‘them’? He just hurt and he was scared and something was going on and he wanted it to stop.
His father stepped back suddenly, like he’d been slapped. Vaguely, Jaejoong could hear his mother still in the bedroom and on the phone, but obviously not with his father this time. “Go... go to your room. Stay there until we come get you.”
He did as he was told. He must have done something worse than usual for them to act like they were, though. He never meant to. He’d take it all back if they’d tell him what it was. Why could he hear them? Why did they hate him for it? How did he even know that?
He laid on his bed, curled into a shivering ball for he didn’t know how long. He tried not to listen to his parents arguing, but they were all but yelling at each other. About him. Because of him. He pressed his hands over his ears again, but it still didn’t help. Even worse, now that he was trying not to hear his parents, he felt like he could hear the entire block, instead, or maybe the entire world. Voice after voice after voice until he thought his brain would explode. He wouldn’t have even noticed any additions, except that these three particular additions were like blank glass islands in the middle of a sea of painful voices.
He choked down his fear and scrambled to his window, looking out to see a van. He’d seen them on tv before, and the people in ordinary, non-descript black clothing getting out of it. They were the kind of people who dealt with ‘them’ whenever there was a problem on the news. He jerked away from the window when one of them looked up at him, just catching the sight of his mother going out to meet them before he hit the floor, crawling back to wedge himself in a corner. He didn’t know why, or how, but he knew they were there for him. Did that make him a ‘them’? But he couldn’t be! ‘They’ were horrible! A menace to society! His parents said so!
His father appeared in his doorway, frown slightly more pained than usual once he caught sight of Jaejoong in his corner. “Some people are here to see you, Jaejoong.”
But he wasn’t a ‘them’! He tried to apologize, to promise he was okay, that he’d be better, and only realized he hadn’t moved his mouth once when his father turned away again. “Wait! I-I’m sorry! I... It doesn’t hurt...”
But his father didn’t listen. He just turned and walked away down the hall, leaving in his place the three people from downstairs. The woman in front looked kind, almost worried. She knelt down to look at him and Jaejoong almost couldn’t hear her at all. The two behind her, though... He shied away from them automatically. They were muffled, but they were worse than his parents. They knew he was a freak, dangerous, something to be handled with care and force, a monster that just looked like a child. But he wasn’t a monster! He wasn’t!
The woman held out her hand. “Come with us, Jaejoong. We’ll take care of everything.”
He would have. He almost did. He reached out, and just as his hand brushed hers, he caught one bright, vivid look at exactly how they would take care of him, what waited in the van, and then in the place they called the Center. The needles and restraints and days months years locked in his room to stop him from being a danger and pain
He screamed out his fear and his pain and his hatred of these people who wanted to take him away from everything just to lock him in a dark room and never let him out. The woman gasped, raising a hand to her head, and the two men collapsed where they stood. No more sounds from them. He didn’t stop to think about what he might have done, jumping to his feet and running from the room. He ran past the bodies of his parents, motionless in the living room, and out the front door, past the unmarked van in the street. He ran as fast as he could and didn’t stop. When his feet burned from going barefoot on the concrete, he kept running. Even when he couldn’t breath anymore or see through the tears, he kept running.
But eventually, he couldn’t run anymore. He was only thirteen, not a seasoned marathon runner. He collapsed between two buildings he didn’t recognize on a street he didn’t recognize, curling himself into a ball and letting the sobs come.
And then... something changed. Slowly, without his noticing, his brain turned its new power back on itself, writing and rewriting, until everything was broken down to a size that a thirteen year old could hope to understand. What had happened to him hadn’t been his fault. He’d always been like this. His parents had just decided they didn’t want him, so he ran away. He barely even remembered them now. They hadn’t sold him, they hadn’t tried to get rid of him, and he certainly hadn’t met anyone so terrifying as that woman. And then his power started to lock itself away again. It built walls around itself and around him, like a wound scabbing over, still raw but trying to heal.
He raised his head, looking around him with tears still pouring down his cheeks but no memory of why they were there. He pushed himself up and continued limping down the street. He still didn’t know where he was, but he knew no one paid him any attention. He knew there was a policeman two streets down, but the fear of something he couldn’t remember kept him away from asking for help. There were fewer people, so it was quieter here. He was cold.
But for the moment, he was home.