Empty Bargains [Jason McCann]

"I have nothing else to offer you," Markus barked through gritted teeth, his fists clenched hard at his sides.

Jason shook his head, chuckling. "I only want one thing, and it's in this room," he sneered.

My brother took a step closer to me, trying to push me toward the door. Jason's eyes flashed over and caught mine, a glint in his eye while a shiver went down my spine.

"What do you want?" Markus asked, impatient.

Jason's head nodded in my direction. I froze and the room fell deafeningly silent.

"I want her."


8. ~9.08~

        I ignored an intense glare from Blondie, who'd returned earlier, as I walked across the main floor to the staircase leading up.  He and Xander were the only ones on the level, so I assumed everyone else had gone upstairs.  I lifted myself up the stairs and padded down the hall, my feet cold and without socks or shoes.  

        All the doors in the hall were closed.  My hand found Jason's doorknob and I pushed the door open, revealing an empty room.  I was confused until I heard running water inside the bathroom.  I sighed, thankful Jason wasn't available to gloat at my initial entry, and closed the door behind me.  A sick feeling burned in my stomach, mixing with rising agitation at the entire situation.

        I shuffled over to my duffel, a heap next to Jason's bed where I'd thrown it earlier.  I sat down cross-legged in front of it and dug for a pair of sweatpants and a loose tee.  Standing up, I listened carefully to make sure the shower was still running and the bedroom door was closed before quickly peeling off my jeans and yellow tee to change for the clothes I'd just pulled out.  I stuffed my worn clothes back into the duffel and cast it aside.  My legs carried me over to Jason's bed and—though I was disgusted that it was Jason's, I was also too tired from being bitter all day to reject the opportunity—flopped over onto the mattress.

        Almost immediately I felt more tired than I'd ever been, relaxing into a surface much softer than the cement of the basement floor, and my eyes drooped.  I was exhausted from everything that had happened in the past two-and-a-half days here, and already felt the weight of the coming days—banking on the chance Sam and Tyler didn't find a way to get me out.

        My chest tightened a little at the thought of Tyler.  I missed him.  I had never really been away from him for this long in several years, not counting the time Sam had gotten in a long and drawn out fight with Markus and we ended up leaving town for two weeks.  It felt like a part of me was missing, and the fact that the room I'd be sleeping in tonight was occupied by Jason only emphasized the gap.  I rolled onto my back and pressed my palms to my temples, putting enough pressure on them to make the ache in my chest not seem so severe.

        "I thought I'd have to drag you up here myself," Jason's voice came from the doorway of the bathroom, a deep rasp that hinted tiredness.  I jumped and sat bolt upright, swinging my legs off the mattress to face him.

        I hadn't noticed the stop of the shower or the door opening, and I mentally kicked myself.  I shouldn't be caught off guard or miss anything in this house.  It could put me in a lot of trouble, or in this case, an uncomfortable situation.  My hands tightened into fists as I took in Jason's form in.  He was slouched against the doorframe, a dark towel wrapped low around his waist and his formerly swept up hair lying wet against his forehead.  His muscled chest was bare and moist with condensation, and he wore a smirk.  Had he not been who he was, and I who I am, I might have thought him attractive.

        "You like what you see?" he asked, the corners of his mouth tugging higher.  He opened his arms.

        I scoffed.  "Don't flatter yourself," I told him, though I felt a small amount of heat rising in my cheeks.  I immediately stopped my wandering eyes and matched them to his gaze.  "I was just recalling how easy Sam said it was to beat the shit out of you."  I sneered and added, "I agree with him."

        Unfazed, Jason strutted toward the bed until he wasn't more than one foot from where my knees were bent out from the mattress.  I pulled my legs together, unwilling to even give him the option of furthering himself there.  I shot a glare at his amused expression but again he seemed unbothered.

        "He said that?" Jason asked, close to laughing.

        A pang of annoyance hit me.  "Obviously he wasn't lying."

        Something flashed across Jason's face.  Quicker than I could react, Jason strode two steps and lifted me by my sides, threw me further onto the bed and straddled my waist, and thrust his elbows out to rest by either side of my head.  His face hung a mere three inches from mine and his breath hit my cheeks as I let out a strangled cry.  I kicked my legs and threw a punch at Jason's stomach, but he was tensed and prepared for it.  I winced and threw another, close to the same spot with the same result.

        "Easy to beat the shit out of?" he questioned.  "Seems I've toughened up a bit—or you're not up to par."

        I struggled against his weight, throwing punches at every weak spot I'd ever taken Sam or Tyler with, but Jason didn't have any.  I screamed in frustration, but didn't stop swinging.  Truth be told, Sam had only ever won one fair fist fight with Jason out of about eight.  He'd been lying through his teeth when Sam told me Jason was an easy fight.  I wouldn't let Jason knew I was getting nervous at the situation I'd put myself in.  But I felt my heart beating harder as I realized I couldn't push him off in this position.

        "Stop moving," Jason ordered flatly.  I ignored him.  The corner of his mouth tugged up and he bent his face down to my ear.  "Stop struggling and I'll let you go."

        A chill went up my spine and I growled, but stopped moving.  I looked straight up at him and glowered, my hands curled into fists at my sides.  I took a deep breath, gathering my patience.

        And just like that, I'd been taken off guard again.

        Jason had lowered his head faster than I could react yet again, pressing his mouth to mine.  I had felt at least a good three seconds of his lips before my mind registered that Jason had actually had the nerve to kiss me.  My curled fist thrust into his stomach again, followed by my cry of anger.  I pressed my palms firmly against his midsection and pushed as hard as I could, offering some reprieve from his mouth.

        Jason's full face came into view, smirking and making my blood boil.  I released a rushed breath I didn't know I'd been holding.

        "What the hell!" I shouted, throwing all the hatred I possessed into one glare directed at him.

        "Calm down," he rolled his eyes, pulling away from me and stepping back onto the floor.  "You're not dead, are you?"

        "I'd much rather be, after that," I snapped, sitting straight a rigid.  He had gone into his closet and was rummaging through drawers.

        Anger was building up inside me, and I felt like I'd burst with hatred and rage.  Jason was, without a doubt, the most aggravating person I'd ever met.  I was fuming by the time he came out of his closet with just sweatpants hung low on his hips.

        I turned, snatched a pillow from the top of the bed, and slid off the mattress.  Avoiding Jason, I marched to one of the corners by the window and plopped down.  I slapped the pillow on the floor and my head fell back onto it.

        "What are you doing?" Jason rose an eyebrow at me.

        "Trying to sleep," I tried to state calmly, but I sounded almost hysterical with anger.

        "You're throwing a tantrum," Jason retorted, falling onto his bed.  "You look like an idiot."

        I simply rolled over and drew my knees to my chest.  "I said I'd stay in your room, not your bed, asshole.  I'm going to sleep."

        I said nothing more, but my eyes were staring at the wall.  I was wide awake.  Jason hesitated for a long moment, then I heard him rustle sheets and the light flicked off.  It was about an hour before I heard soft snores from him.  I hadn't been able to even close an eye.  The wood floor I was lying on was even less comfortable than the basement's floor, and I was freezing.  The hairs on my arms were raised with chills and my side ached.

        I groaned, miserable.  Rolling over, I watched Jason for a long moment.  He was out cold, and I knew from sleeping in Tyler's room that snores meant he wouldn't wake until morning.  I contemplated the lure of the open half of his bed, my should pleading.

        Finally, my discomfort won out.

        I rose slowly, walking quietly over to the side of the bed Jason wasn't on.  Rolling in slowly and careful not to stir Jason, I sighed heavily at the relief from hard floors again.  I glanced over my shoulder at him and finally accepted that he was staying asleep, then moved the furthest I could to the edge without risking falling off in the night.  I must've been insane after what he did to sleep in his bed, and I felt a pang of guilt at the fact that it wasn't Tyler's bed I had willingly crawled into tonight.

        My insanity was confirmed when I thought I felt my lips tingle where Jason had kissed them just before I drifted to sleep.

        The next morning, I woke up with an arm around my midsection.  It felt as if I was back in Tyler's bed again, cozy and warm snuggled up against him.  I sighed happily, relaxing against Tyler's protective arm.  I was so comfortable, and curled more on the mattress, begging to fall asleep again.  This was more rest than I'd had in days.  I rolled over to face Tyler, not opening my eyes before burying my face in his chest.

        I immediately got a sick feeling in my stomach.

        This didn't smell like Tyler at all, didn't feel like his comfortable form.  My forehead drew together, bringing me out of the drowsiness I'd been encased in.  I hadn't gotten this much rest in days because...  Because I wasn't home...  I was...


        My eyes shot open and I pushed him away with all the hazy strength I had in me.  I heard Jason's intake of breath and confused grunt, but I didn't wait for him to say anything.  I rolled off the bed, scooped up my duffel, and stumbled sleepily to the bathroom.  After locking myself in, I sank to the floor, my head pounding.

        I'd thought Jason was Tyler.  No, no that wasn't right.  I couldn't let my guard down like that.  Sleeping in Jason's bed wasn't an option anymore.  It was the floor, and that was final.  I couldn't do it, not of it meant letting Jason think he could do that to me.

        I let out a shaky breath and pressed my palms to my closed eyes.  I missed home more than I'd expected I would; I felt sick to my stomach, but I picked myself up and threw on a change of clothes - jogging shorts and a large t-shirt.  To get the bad taste out of my mouth I brushed my teeth, then stuffed everything back into my duffel.

        My head was still pounding as I slung the bag over my shoulder and prepared my best steely glare for Jason.  When I entered the bedroom again, Jason was still laying on his bed where I'd left him.  I threw the duffel toward the bed and spun on a heel, heading for the door.

        "What changed your
mind about the floor?" Jason called out.  I could hear the smirk in his voice.

        I scoffed.  "It certainly wasn't you."  I paused with my hand on the doorknob.  "Don't worry, it won't happen again."

        And with that, I threw open the door and stalked out, heading for my usual place in the basement.

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