Just a Mask

Jensen stood there, poised on the edge of the craggy precipice he knew so well. He'd come here a lot over the past year, trying to find a place where he could just be alone, a place where he could be released from the pretence that was his life. Here he was free to be himself, free to abandon the smile that hovered around his lips, free to let the tears that forever threatened to finally glide silently down the curve of his cheek.

And so finding this retreat had been one of the few bright spots left to him. One small blessing in a life where the darkness and agony of loss threatened to sweep away everything of who he was until all that remained was a puppet of a man, a creature only animated by the irritated pull of another.

He looked down into the gully rapidly being consumed by shadow as day gave into night. He would have jumped long ago if he hadn't found this place of secluded wilderness, its untamed beauty a balm to the aching of his heart and the screams that still haunted his sleep. Jensen gave a bitter bark of laughter at the irony of that. He would already be dead without it, but it was the same jagged drop into an icy stream that offered the release he so badly yearned for.

He had moved here almost a year ago when his parents had decided he needed a 'fresh start', a place removed from everything associated with the memories he now held so dear. And the one that still woke him in a cold sweat. But Jensen knew it was not just him they had moved for, if it was even him at all. He knew it was also so that they didn't have to pass that spot on the way to work, didn't have to look into the sympathetic faces of strangers, didn't have to remember at every second of every day the son they had lost in an angry squeal of breaks and burning rubber.

Jensen squeezed his eye shut, his ragged breathing creating clouds of fog quickly taken away in the icy gusting air. For a few perfect moments there is only him, no memories, just him and the autumn air. But then images once again invade his mind, forcing the memories of pain and anger back into his consciousness in a jumble of broken glass, twisted metal, enraged colours, bruised feelings, blood and death.

"Ben…" he whispered as tears started to fall once again smudging the kohl around his eyes, each one an apology for the life that had been wrenched from his grasp on that terrible night. He threw his arms wide and thrust his face to the sky, before letting out a long wail of agony, pouring out every painful emotion he kept bottled within him, giving voice to the bruised and lacerated anguish of his heart.

He remembered walking to school with Ben. He remembered the pushing and teasing, the laughing and joking, the exasperated teachers and amused friends, and the smiles forever plastered on their faces. But that now seemed so long ago. His smiles were no longer real, they were the mask he employed against a world he no longer understood and a gift to the parents who wanted so badly to believe that the son they still had was healing. But above all, it was a way to avoid the sympathetic words and glances of those who knew nothing of how he felt, a way to protect his fragile self from drowning in an unforgiving ocean of grief every time someone uttered the meaningless words, 'I'm sorry'.

And so Jensen buried his pain deep, veiled it behind layers of the memories that gave him strength to face the next day with a happy lie on his face, presenting a front of steel when he felt more like glass, vulnerable and ready to shatter into irreparable shards at any moment. He learnt to hide everything, to disguise the emotions that only here he let play across his features, that only hear he gave voice to in sudden cries of anger and hopelessness. It was here that he let himself give into exactly how he felt, free from the numb paralysis that kept him moving throughout every endless day.

Dragging the frozen air past the painful knot in his throat, Jensen filled his lungs once again, sustaining his life for a few more minutes of torment. He felt so free up here, the strong wind tugging at the dark woollen coat he wore unbuttoned, fragranced by the darkening hours. It would be so easy to let the wind gently nudge him from life into the peaceful oblivion beckoned by the jagged rocks below. He would no longer have to live a lie, no longer have to let the curve of his lips hide everything within him from the outside world, barring the clueless sympathy of others. He could end it all. All he had to do was step off the edge and shatter into a thousand pieces just like the glass he was.

A/n: well I wrote this as a one-shot, but now I'm wondering if there should be more to it… what do you all think?! And if I decide to continue it, where do you think it should head?