Work Header

Your Past Doesn’t Define You

Work Text:

James always dressed up super sharp, no matter what he was doing that day. John never thought he'd find it half as attractive as he did, but something about how the tight-fitting material hugged James's body in all the right places made John perhaps rethink his original idea about the whole thing.

The best part about it? James's arse looked amazing in those suits. John couldn't deny that it looked good without the suits, but the suits made it look ten times better.

"If you keeping staring, people are going to notice." James chuckled, turning around to face the man in question at Liz's bar. "Is that so bad?" John shrugged, a smirk adorning his features as he wrapped his strong around James's skinny waist, ignoring for the most part the older mans uncomfortable shuffling. "I can't have the people round here thinking I've gone soft," James complained in his very monotone voice. "Trust me, we all knew you'd gotten softer after seeing you with the Countess." Liz grumbled, flicking through her magazine behind the bar.

John laughed, arms tightening around James's body. "People don't care, baby." He whispered, pressing his lips right under James's ear, grinning to himself as he heard James's try to suppress his groans.

"Right here? At the bar? Get a room." Liz huffed, swiping at the men. John grinned, pulling James out of Liz's reach. "Only I can do that." He smirked, placing a small slap on James's behind.

Bad move.

James yelped and jumped back, turning to face John with a god awful scowl on his face. "Don't touch me." He hissed, arms folded across his chest as he anxiously stumbled backwards. "I don't fucking care what you do, but don't touch me."

And he left.


"James, come closer." A man, tall, broad-shouldered, black sharp gelled over his head neatly. A moustache, big but tidy, balancing evenly atop his mouth. His unnerving, sharp, straight mouth. Barely any lips, never smiling nor frowning, just a straight line. A forever poker face.

James gulped, eyes looking down at shoes. At twelve years old, the only authority James knew was that of his fathers. His mother could barely be considered a parental figure, sneaking out all the time, a well-known harlot of the town, no care for neither her husband nor her son.

James knew no other children, lived in the shadow of a millionaire in a large, empty, spotless mansion. A man so taken to religion that he followed the Bible directly from the book. In a passage taken from Genesis 7:21-23, God drowns the entire population of the earth: men, women, children, fetuses, and perhaps unicorns. Only a single family survives. In Matthew 24:37-42, gentle Jesus approves of this genocide and plans to repeat it when he returns. James's father read these passages, knew them well, and in fact, took it as to say that if Jesus and God approved of genocide by drowning, it were a crime he were willing to commit. All the current servants, drowned in their own bedrooms, in their own homes. Another passage, one from Genesis 19:24, God kills everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah with fire from the sky. Then God kills Lot's wife for looking back at her burning home. And thanks to James's father, two cities went up in flames.

He was never caught. He was a vicious, heartless man, a man driven by the work of God, particularly the bad parts, and when James's didn't act the way he wanted him to, do the things he told him to do, there would be hell to pay.

James bent down over the small wooden stood his father had placed at his feet. The man roughly pulled down his clothes clothes, a cane raised high in the air.

"I am your father, I expect more respect."


"Come on, you can't tell me you're not wasted right now." John chuckled, sipping his own scotch as James downed yet another pint of beer. "I should know if I'm drunk myself, thanks." James slurred in reply, glass not entirely out of his mouth yet. "Oh yeah? Wanna prove it to me?" John grinned, reaching over to take James's glass out of his hand.

It was awful trying to get James to talk to him again - silence for a week. John didn't even understand what he did, how could it have been wrong? Liz had been avoiding him as well, he'd found, as well as a few other ghosts at the hotel loyal to James. It was incredibly difficult to get him to agree to come down to Liz's bar with him tonight.

John felt bad about his idea, his plan, but James wasn't talking. How could they get over this speed bump is James refused to talk about it? John wasn't quite ready to give up on this relationship just yet, so he decided upon the next best thing: force it out of James. When drunk, James seemed to spill everything, things he'd never say if he were sober, such as the first time he'd said that he loved John, and the only time since, despite how many times John seems to remind James that he loved him very much also.

"How?" James challenged, one eyebrow raised and an smirk on his face. There was a slight dazed off look in his eyes that made John know instantly that James was way past the gone, but it wouldn't hurt to humour him for a little while.

John shrugged, leaning forward to wrap his arms around James's waist the way he always does, in a protective, caring, loving, yet freakishly dominant, way. He tugged James off his bar stool and into his lap, smiling to himself as James throws his head back onto John's shoulders, tilting it slightly so his breathing was on the ex-cop's neck. James was usually awkward in John's hugs, in his lap, not knowing what to do with the unusual affection - his parents had never touched him in any way more than a handshake, and lord knows Elizabeth never cared even the tiniest amount for the ghost.

"Just talk to me." He whispered, rubbing James's stomach slightly. “About what?” The older man asked, voice quieting and shaking just a bit, eyes closing slowly every now and again. John wasn’t sure how long he’d be able to keep James up, to much alcohol always made him a little sleepy, though why was a mystery to everyone since ghosts didn’t need sleep. “How about... tell me what I did to make you mad earlier this week?” John prompted, tapping his fingers gently over James’s belly. He could feel James begin to fidget in his lap, could here the stutter in his breathes, recognised the redness on his neck as stomach butterflies, but he wasn’t going to let this go.

“Please baby, I just want to know what I did wrong.” John muttered, placing his lips on James’s now exposed neck, sucking gently on the skin there. James shuddered, taking in a shaky breath.

After what felt like hours but was in reality only a minute or so, James began to talk. “I didn’t like it.” It wasn’t much, but it was a start. “Didn’t like what?” John encouraged. “The touch - that one touch behind me.” James ‘a stomach flipped as he spoke, the colour crimson rising in his cheeks. He felt like he needed to get away, run away, the lot.

John was stunned, only a bit. He hadn’t realised the damage one simple touch had done to James; of course he hadn’t done it before, but he hadn’t known it was off limits. Now he wanted to know why it was off limits.

“James, you know I’d never intentionally hurt you. Besides, if for whatever reason I did, you’d be slicing me left, right, and centre within an instant.” He smiles at the bashful face James was currently trying to hide in his hands. “I just, it’s not easy to talk about him, my father. He was a bad man, a religious man but a bad one. What you did... simple brought things to mind I’d rather forget.” James sighed, looking off to the side. Tears were brimming his eyes, tears John had never seen before - neither man was particularly great at showing emotions like this. James clearly knew this, as he tried to wipe them away with the back of his hands before John stopped him, bringing the hands up to his lips.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Please, you know I wouldn’t do anything like that purposely. I’m yours James, I’d never do anything to you that you didn’t agree with.” Johns fists had clenched together around James’s middle, but neither man said anything about it. There wasn’t anything either of them could do. James’s father was dead, his past actions had already happened, and they were both doomed to an eternity where they remembered the few parts of their lives outside of the hotel like a photo album constantly on display, every photo inside unlocking a new day, a new memory, whether they liked it or not, because those memories, not matter how good or bad, we’re all they had to hold onto from the outside world, the world that wasn’t simply just the Hotel Cortez.

One thing John could do, however, was give James some better memories, and he intended to do that.