George is in the bathroom.
Mitchell knows as much because he's standing in the doorway watching him rummage through the cupboards in search of god knows what, or perhaps he's just determined to make a mess to give himself something to clean up.
"Where's Annie?" Mitchell asks, because she'd been wandering the landing the last time he looked, muttering to herself about the weather.
"On the internet," George offers over the top of a box of cotton buds. "Talking to a group of agoraphobics."
"There's a strange irony in that," Mitchell tells the back of George's head.
George grunts, pokes about in the cupboard until things start to fall out. Mitchell suspects he isn't looking for anything at all anymore, he just wants something to do with his hands.
"I asked you once," George says quietly. "I asked you if you think I taste different."
"I don't remember," Mitchell lies.
"You also asked me once if I thought blue jelly was a bad influence on children George, sometimes your brain is such a bewildering repository of random that I'm forced to forget much of it."
George doesn't drop the subject, but then he wouldn't be George if he did, oh he might pretend to drop it only to angst quietly about it and then bring it up randomly three weeks later in a way that probably isn't good for his health.
"Is it abstinence or is it more like a diet?"
"It's hard," Mitchell says honestly.
George's face flows between curious and uncertain and it's clear there's more. Mitchell raises an eyebrow at him, watches him exhale loudly.
"What do you want to know?" Mitchell says simply.
George looks at him in the mirror.
"What's it like when someone's bleeding, when you can see it, right in front of you?"
George looks like he's been thinking about asking the question for a while.
"It's the same as waving alcohol in front of an alcoholic, or water in front of a marathon runner. You want it, obviously."
George's eyebrows suggest he wants something else.
"It's like hunger and thirst all rolled into one, you need it, you think you need it, you always think you need it." Mitchell lets his mouth tilt up at the edge. "And you might be able to add a little crazy in there without going too far off track."
"So you can't stop it, you can't stop the-" George makes a gesture which means nothing but there's a vague desperation to it.
"No, it's more like..." Mitchell looks at him over the tips of his own fingers. "Chum in the water. It makes the sharks want to circle."
"So it just lures you in, it doesn't necessarily make you want to taste."
There's a long quiet pause, as if George is daring him to say any different. Mitchell takes the dare.
"Of course it makes me want to taste, how could it not?"
"But you don't have to?"
"No, though it's easier when people don't thrash about like they're drowning." He can't help the flash of a smile that creeps onto his face.
"You're having far too much fun with the shark analogy now you know," George tells him.
Mitchell smiles at him, because any other facial expression will cause George to fret. And George can fret like no one else on the planet.
"Don't look at me like that."
"Like you're protecting me from the grim and unpleasant realities of life. I think I already got an A." George dumps everything he's been trying to put back into the cupboard in the sink. "Without handing in any of the coursework."
"What are you looking for?"
George doesn't answer the question, he shakes his head instead.
"I'm surprisingly hard to hurt you know," George tells him, and he sounds so certain. Mitchell looks at him for a long moment.
"No George, you're surprisingly easy to hurt."
George frowns, hard enough that it veers perilously close to a pout. It vanishes a moment later, to be replaced by something more considering, something braver.
"Tell me," he asks quietly. "Please."
Mitchell drags his fingers over the edge of his face.
"When you want it, when you really want it, it's like having all the self control of a drug addict, and everything comes down to blood. Only later I'll remember it all. I don't have the option of reveling in ignorance. I'm still me, I'm just...a less civilised me"
It's quiet until George's haphazardly restacked boxes collapse back into the sink.
"Maybe you should," George says into the mirror. His face is mostly frown underneath Mitchell's raised eyebrow.
"Maybe I should what."
George's mouth shifts to form a word, stops, he catches Mitchell's eyes in the glass. "Maybe you should see what I taste like."
It shouldn't really surprise him but it does, just a little, and there's a part of him that says 'yes' the same time his brain decides that would be a ridiculously bad idea.
"Are you suggesting I cheat on my diet?"
George's expression doesn't change, Mitchell strives to make his the same.
"That's not the cleverest idea," Mitchell says carefully, and though he was certain he dropped the joking tone the words still come out something close to amused.
George looks in the mirror again, then swivels so they can look each other in the face.
"Sometimes I dream about tearing things to pieces," he says simply.
Mitchell slides his hand away from his face.
"Things or people?"
George's breath shudders out of him. "You already know the answer to that."
Mitchell does, and he knows the answer to 'did you like it' as well, so he doesn't ask.
"It doesn't make you a monster," he says instead.
"I know exactly what makes me a monster," George points out. But he still looks somewhere between determined and curious.
"This is something you're going to push isn't it."
"I just want to know- I want to know if I'm different now. If I'm different all the time."
"And if the answer's yes, will it matter?"
"Probably, for a while."
"You're supposed to be the sensible one aren't you," Mitchell points out. But he's closer, much closer. George shouldn't still be able to lure him in, with his arguments and his questions.
But this, this isn't entirely altruistic is it.
It's too easy to get close, because George doesn't protest, and before he's talked himself into or out of it he has his fingers on the edge of George's jaw, twisting it very slowly to the left.
And Mitchell shouldn't be doing this, he knows he shouldn't be doing this, for a hundred different reason. None of them quite as good as the one in the back of his head that says 'yes.'
"Why do you want me to do this?" Mitchell asks very softly against the warm skin of his neck, and George has no words, no words at all, just a sound that's all breath and pulse and nervousness. A sound that drags Mitchell in against his will, until he's close enough that the phantom shifts against the sink bring mouth and throat fleetingly against each other.
George holds his breath and in that one moment it occurs to Mitchell that this isn't what he wants.
The hand holding the edge of George's jaw slides down, turns his head. Throat becomes jawline and then mouth and it's easier than it should be.
There's one startled pause, and then George just lets him in.
Mitchell's kissing down in a way that's broken and aggressive, that takes the shuddering ache in his teeth and makes it just a little more civilised.
But not by much, jesus not by much.
George's hand skids off the sink, flounders briefly in mid-air and then drags Mitchell in by the fallen waist of his jeans, fingers sharp and sudden in his skin, holding him there, right there. It goes on forever, crushed into the sink under the stark artificial light, boxes and plastic clattering against tile, wet and greedy and definitely somewhere past nice and all the way into dirty. And there just doesn't seem any good reason to stop.
Not until something cracks under their enthusiasm. It drags them apart and George looks stunned. Like he was looking for an answer to the wrong question.
"Being different all the time isn't always a bad thing," Mitchell says carefully.