Someone else would have asked.
John comes home. Knuckles sore and tender. Split and bleeding. There’s blood on his collar too. But it's his. And it’s not enough. John’s classes ended four hours ago. He'd had one missed call, and the message on his phone still echos between his ears even now. After...he’d needed something to cancel it out while Lafayette was off in English. Or Math. Or whatever the fuck he was taking.
But it's been hours. The edge hasn't been taken off. And Lafayette's home. John walks through the door. Blood staining his shirt. Hands curled into fists. His hair’s leaking out of his ponytail. His face is flushed red. He’s shaking. A little. Limbs trembling as he stalks room to room. Lafayette must hear him.
He comes downstairs, rounds the bend, and John’s on him in a moment. Throwing a punch. Aiming high and fast. Just like their first night. It’s a flirtation on its own. A kiss from his hand. A greeting. A plea. Please.
Lafayette blocks it out of the way. Spins him like the four assholes earlier didn’t have any hope of spinning him. Sends John to his knees. Pain flares around his shoulder. It’s perfect. But it’s not enough.
He ducks and dodges, kicks backwards into Lafayette’s legs. Lafayette huffs a laugh. Whispers something tantalizing in French. And John’s been getting better. He has. But he can’t focus on words right now. Can’t muddle through the translation. Can’t parse the rhyme or matter. He wants blood. He wants to hurt something. He wants to feel .
He feels it when Lafayette kicks him in the chest. Feels it when he rolls across the ground. His elbow connecting solidly with a chair’s leg. It sends nerves firing up and down his arm. Turning it limp and numb. Funny bone. Good hit. I need more. He stands up.
The fight’s different than the last ten thousand fights they’d enjoyed. But not really, in retrospect. There’s just as much violence. Just as much desperation. The itching feeling under John’s skin won’t stop. He rushes forward. Again and again. High and low. Teeth gnashing. Attempting to get purchase. He does - eventually. Manages to bite down on Lafayette’s arm when he brings it around in an attempt to choke him. Lafayette grins savagely. John can feel the spread of the lips against his throat. And then - bliss .
Teeth in the arching slope of his neck and his shoulder. It’s a tempting position. Tempting and sultry. He knows what they look like. Bruised and bleeding. Breathing heavily against each other’s bodies. Here, limbs shaking from exertion, John might have stopped in the past. Let Lafayette drag his hands down towards his dick. Let him shove John against the wall. Tear down his jeans and take him dry. Let the pain ground him as he fought for both escape and release at the same time.
But he’s not hard. He didn’t come here to fuck. He came here for it to hurt. And while the teeth at his throat offer a tantalizing possibility….he throws his head back and catches the bridge of Lafayette’s nose. “ Fils de salope! ” That’s new. John’s never heard that before. He spins on his heel. Hand raised. Fist curled. Manages to catch Lafayette in the face while he’s still reeling from the broken nose. Pouring blood down his lips.
It’s not enough.
He throws another punch, but Lafayette’s managed to rearrange his priorities. He takes John’s arm and he brings it out and around. Rests a hand against his still smarting elbow, and narrows his eyes. Pain flares. Sharp and poignant. Break me, John thinks suddenly. Or I’ll break you. He’s not going to stop until he’s physically incapable of going on. He’ll keep fighting until this is over. Until it’s Lafayette on the ground in pieces, or him.
Lafayette is surgical in his methods. John is not. He’d stomp and crush. No notion of how things are pieced back together. He wants to tear the world apart, and he would - if Lafayette told him to. He would explode (or implode?) on Lafayette’s command. Or he’d break Lafayette here and now.
John thrashes. He can feel his arm straining. Testing the limits of Lafayette’s control. There are words pressing against his tongue. But he can’t say any of them. Can’t let them free. Not now. Not when he needs this to end bloody and wrong. Not when he’s desperate for release of an altogether different kind.
Lafayette’s smile spreads. “ Mon monstre préféré… ” he hums.
He breaks John’s arm.
And the screaming noise in his head stops. Pain consumes him. His lungs expand.
He can finally breathe.
Someone else would have asked, he thinks. But Lafayette doesn't. He prefers it that way.
Lafayette takes him to the hospital. The school clinic asks too much questions. But the ready care center not too far out of town is understaffed and overbooked. They’re let in. Given only cursory looks of contemplation, before the doctor moves to set John’s arm. John sits still the whole while. Squeezing the break. Letting the pain ground him. Give him a focus point. A lightning shock of a wake up call.
A reminder he’s still alive.
Lafayette still hasn’t asked. Hasn’t brought up the possibility that this fight was different from their last ones. That his motivations were different. Break me. How Alex. If he’d been able to get his mouth to start working, he might have begged. Lafayette would have liked that. But he wouldn’t have broken John’s arm if he’d begged. Or maybe he would have. John isn’t quite sure where Lafayette is at the moment when it comes to his boundaries.
So busy convinced that he’s a monster. So worried that John will think less of him. He holds back where John relishes in the chance to let loose. Knowing Lafayette will always win is so much better. He’ll always put John in his place. It feels good. Scratching through his life. Clawing for dominance. Only to be put back in his slot in line. Shown just what he was. Is.
The doctor asks him what happens.
John shakes his head.
Lafayette spins the tale.
They were walking home when a tall white man and his friends approached them. They fought as hard as they could of course, but they couldn’t win. They didn’t even want any money. This has never happened before. Is this area known for its hate groups? Maybe they should have chosen a different college.
The question makes the doctor uncomfortable. He doesn’t want to get involved. It’s a good story. John had seen how the man sneered when he’d first walked into the room. The city might not have a lot of hate groups, but the doctor’s a bastard.
He’s not gentle when he fits the cast around John’s arm. That’s fine. Let it hurt.
He hands over his insurance card when the nurse prompts him to. Lets Lafayette twirl the keys in his hand. He wonders if he tries to go for them if Lafayette would hit him in the face. Let the keys slash across his cheek. Tear lines into his flesh that won’t heal. Split the freckles above his mouth. Connecting all the dots.
Lafayette grins at him. He knows .
They walk back to the car. John hugs his arm to his chest. He can’t squeeze it the way he wants to with the cast on. Can’t feel the broken limb and move it about. Send blinding jolts through his body. Filling him up with sensation. Drowning him in an agony so sweet John doesn’t know if anything else will compare.
“If you want to hit me again, you’ll have to let it heal.” Lafayette whispers into his ear. Teeth grazing the lobe.
John knows that. But he needs this. The break ended their fight. But he’s not ready. He’s still filled with — he needs this. He can feel the buzzing starting to rise again. Starting to drown out all sense and logic. There are words spiraling through his head. John doesn’t want to hear them. Doesn’t want to think about them.
He twists away from the man. Fuck you, dad. Gets the words up out of his throat. And speaks. “I’m not afraid of that.” Lafayette arches a brow. It looks ridiculous. His swollen nose (set in place but still badly bruised), making his features puffy and absurd. He would have looked better if he’d raised both. This...is just lopsided and wrong.
“What are you afraid of, mon cherie? ” Lafayette asks him. They’re almost to the car now. Lafayette reaches for the driver’s side door. Opens it. But waits. One arm resting on the roof of the car. John’s frozen by the passenger side. Lafayette doesn’t make him any promises. They’ve never discussed limits.
John wants to be broken. But telling Lafayette the truth…No. It’s a truth Lafayette already knows. The same truth that Lafayette struggles with. Why he holds back. Why he doesn’t push John more than John is ready for. Fear. Worry that someone's going to disappear and never come back.
There are two people in this world John could trust with the truth. One would never even think about leaving, too gentle and sweet for this world as it is. (“I can be sweet for you,” Alex had told him once. Lain beneath his body. Arching up. “Please?” he whispered, batting his eyes as their groins collided). The other...Lafayette knows him.
Knows him truly.
And maybe it's okay to trust. “The dark,” John answers. It’s not what he means. Not really. But Lafayette’s eyes narrow. John can see his mind spinning.
“That’s not it,” Lafayette tells him confidently. “Perhaps it is more... being alone in the dark.” The words feel like a threat. A promise. I don't want this.
John’s fingers start shaking. He’ll kill him. If Lafayette keeps cooing about it, he’ll kill him. Broken arm be damned. He’d find a way. He’d find a way. He’d tear him apart. He’d— Lafayette smiles at him. Dagger edge gone from his expression. It's a true smile. Open and pure. Friendly. Nothing to see here. Everything's perfect. “Let’s go home, hmm?”
John opens the door. Throws himself into his seat. Lafayette is far more graceful. He settles in, starts the engine, and starts driving down the road. He turns the radio on, and John squeezes his arm to his chest.
Lafayette reaches out. Takes John’s hand. Turns it around so it lays flat on the center console. Then one by one starts pulling his fingers backwards. The pain is beautiful. Lafayette doesn’t break them. But he squeezes and pulls. Twists them and leans them farther and farther until they’re almost there.
Sometimes. If he’s lucky. Lafayette digs his nails into the flesh and scratches down.
I’ll kill him another time, John reasons. He closes his eyes. And falls to sleep.
Alex is a butterfly seeking nectar from a rotting flower. He floats around John. Hands hovering over the cast. He asks all the questions Lafayette didn’t. Still won’t. Never does. What happened? Why’d you go so far? Are you all right?
John avoids answering most of them, explains that it was a mistake. You know how we get? And Alex promptly takes over as nursemaid. Brings him food and water. Cuts up the food into small little bites. Carries John’s books like a good little girl. Lafayette watches with dark eyes.
Alex has no idea which one of them he’s enticing with his behavior. It’s amusing. Hilarious. John settles in. Lets Alex tend to him. Lets him flit about. Trying to help. Press sweet kisses to John’s skin. Cuddle around him and nuzzle into his chest. Alex won’t fight him until the cast’s off. John knows that for a fact. But Alex will be there every step of the way, and he won’t forget about John in the meanwhile.
When he leaves to go back to Aaron and their bizarre relationship, door closing behind him with a soft click, John bats his eyes at Lafayette. “Is there something more you need?” he asks sweetly. Lafayette surges forward. Takes John’s hair in his hand. Squeezes a hand to his throat. “Please?” John asks. He licks his lips. Widens his eyes. Docile and meek. Everything Lafayette avoids. But everything John knows Lafayette secretly craves.
A pretty bird, fragile, breakable, and completely his.
Well, John’s wing is already broken. So hell. Cur non?
They lay together in bed. Lafayette flipping through the pages of a textbook. Sometimes, they do need to study. Tonight it’s psychology. John thinks Lafayette took it as a way to diagnose himself. John avoids it like the plague. Psychologists never did anything for him. They never would.
Lafayette seems to need confirmation he’s a monster. Needs to see it in black and white. Proof that he’s just as despicable as he always thought he was. He wears it like armor. “I know I’m a monster. Don’t come close.” The disclaimer at the top of a story. The warning label before the movie plays.
Warning: This person is rated NC-17. Not suitable for children under the age of 17 for graphic displays of violence, content of a sexual nature, and psychopathy. May instill a sense of prey or fear or loathing in the viewer. Should be avoided at all costs.
Lafayette turns another page. He pauses. Makes a noise in the back of his throat. Interested. “Have you ever heard of ‘feral children,’” Lafayette asks. John contemplates his answer. He contemplates too long. “Children who are left alone, devoid of human contact for so long they act as animals.”
There’s a scratching of a pen. Lafayette taking notes. Something more interesting than the definition. “This one girl, in your United States,” he always blames his United States when he’s displeased with something. Like John had a choice. “She was kept in a room by herself for thirteen years. Almost since birth.” John wonders if she had a window.
Lafayette sits up. The bed shifts beneath him. He crawls to John’s side. Knees bracketing John’s body. Nails finding purchase beneath John’s shirt. Sliding sharp little lines across his flesh. John stares out towards the ridiculous night light Lafayette had purchased just last week. Where did he even find a fleur-de-lis in this crappy town?
Teeth bite at his ear. Breath ghosting across his skin. He shifts. Squeezes at the wrist of John’s good arm. “Each limb tied down. Unable to move. Unable to speak.” He bites at John’s throat. “Only fed when her father thought of her.”
John wiggles free. He doesn’t want to fight someone who’ll fight back. He needs to be in control. Can't risk being pinned down. Being taken. He wants—he needs—
Lafayette captures John’s chin with his fingers. Pulls him down for a kiss. Bites his lips, then drags John down on top of him. Lets John brace himself. Broken arm carefully tucked out of the way. No weight leaning on it. It’s safe. It’s not enough. Lafayette’s looking at him with too intense eyes. As if he could— as if he could—
His thumb dips between John’s lips. Presses against his teeth. “Fuck me,” Lafayette commands.
He rarely asks John to.
But John always does what he says.
He has his earbuds in. Listening to some French crap that Lafayette told him to listen to. It’s supposed to be the pinnacle of their new wave of music. John endured hours of rhapsodizing on it. It’s got a catchy beat, but John’s not sure if he can get over the language barrier.
Class sign ups are soon. He’s already started looking at taking French. Seeing if it’ll fit into his schedule. He hates himself for doing it. It seems so domestic. Lafayette will laugh at him. And maybe that’s why it’s worth it. Because the second Lafayette laughs, he’ll punch him in his teeth. And the blood and the violence will feel so good under his nails. Coursing through his body. When they’re done, Lafayette will pin him down. Teach him French in his own way as he ravishes John. Each second John will fight. And each second he’ll know that Lafayette has him. He’s not letting go.
He gets home before Lafayette. Stares at the empty house. Discomfort settling within him. He doesn’t like being here without Lafayette. Thinks for a moment that he should call Alex. Maybe catch dinner with him. Even if it means spending more time with Aaron Burr. John tosses his keys onto the counter. Drops his bag by the stairs. He’ll do his homework later.
Lafayette’s psychology book has migrated to the living room. It’s closed. But the post-it notes earmark the last section he was reading. John’s skin itches. He needs to leave. Stromae continues rapping in French. He nudges the volume even louder. Anything to block out the sound of his own heart beating.
Turning towards the door, he tells himself it’s not his fault he didn’t see the bat. He’s just stupid.
He sees it swinging. He tries to turn out of the way. It catches him anyway.
He’s unconscious before he hits the ground. Guess Lafayette finally had enough.
He wishes he could say he’s surprised. But really.