You're fumbling with your keys and walking up the steps to your apartment when you see him. His huge black converse-clad shoes are jammed into the steel guard along the walkway, and his bony hands grip the steel tight to keep himself upright. You stop, don't even breathe. His hair is all black waves, and his huge lips are wrapped around a cigarette. He looks a bit like the night sky carved out and wrapped into a person.
He's looking at the stars when you see him.
You move forward, and his eyes instantly fall on you. You drop your keys. He walks over to you, slow and soft with the sound of the chain on his wallet clinking with each step, and he has the decency to keep a few feet between you. Your hands shake when you pick up your keys, so you clench them extra tight. Not even the threat of death would make you look at him now.
"...hi," he says. He scuffs his shoe on the floor. Your legs are rubber when you stand, and you keep your eyes on his shoes. They're bright and new. He coughs. "I wanted to see you. I'm, uh, back in town."
Your keys are getting hot in your hands, and you can smell the copper metal scent as you stand awkwardly in front of him. "...do you wanna come inside?" you offer eventually. You force yourself to look up.
He has a compass tattooed on the spot where you last kissed him, right where his neck curves into his shoulder. Your breath does this little painful jig in your chest and then you're shoving your door open because it's unbelievable that he'd get a tattoo like that in a place like that because of you. You fall into your apartment, dumping your bag on the floor and heading for the kitchen, your movements like a storm.
He catches your wrist and twirls you toward him, but he lets go just as quick and you almost think you imagined the touch. His eyes are shadowed and dark with guilt though, so you know he touched you. "Sorry," he mumbles.
Your fingers twitch, but you don't touch him. And the entire time you brew coffee and make small, useless talk, he doesn't touch you again. Your collarbone burns, and you're glad you're stuck in your suit because you don't want him to see where he kissed you last, where he stung you and left the worst mark.
"How long are you in town?"
Your voice cracks, and you want to hide in your closet with shame.
"Hopefully, permanently," he says, finishing his second cup of coffee. He stares into the mug for a few moments before smiling at you, brittle. "Well. I should go. I just wanted to see you again."
"Will I see you again?" you ask, your voice rising even higher as he makes for the door. He pauses, fiddles with his shoe, fixes his hair.
"...yeah, I'll come by again."
He comes by the next week and drinks two cups of coffee. He doesn't touch you at all. You're wearing a button up shirt and business casual, and he's wearing a torn band tee that falls of his shoulder and reveals roses and thorns and that god damn compass. He has a hickey near one of his rose tattoos.
The next time he visits you, he takes off his shoes, fiddles with a hemp bracelet on his arm, and says, "I'm really sorry about what happened." You just pour coffee. He coughs. "I'm sorry I left without telling you anything."
"Okay," you say, passing the coffee to him. You search your fridge for food, but there's nothing but chocolate and old bananas. The only food in the cupboard is ramen, but you make it anyway. He's used to shit food. He doesn't have room to complain. You set one ramen cup in front of him a bit more forcefully than you need to, and there's violence in the way you slurp your own noodles.
He doesn't talk at all after that, except to say goodbye after his second cup of coffee.
When you see him next, he's just had his nose broken by someone's possessive boyfriend, and you have to drive him to the emergency room. Blood drips down his chin and onto his shirt, and his whole face is turning purple and blue. His smile is awful and crimson, but he still cracks jokes at you while you drive. He makes you laugh. They're all shitty, shitty jokes, but you laugh. When you get into the ER, you let him hold your hand and squeeze. It takes the entire fucking night, like it always does, and you barely get his address out of him before he passes out.
The mansion he lives in makes you feel dirty, cause it's huge and sprawling and the driveway must be a damn mile long.
You wake him up, and the first thing you both see is the sunrise as it breaks in plush pink clouds. His face looks like he's been beaten, which he has, and your lips tingle. He stares at the sunrise, and then at you, and you remember the way he read poetry to you while you recovered from sex. He stumbles out of the car and up to the elaborate doorway. The only thing he says is, "Thanks."
You're turning your car back on when the door slams open and he runs out, and he knocks on your window like he's trying to break in.
"What?" you snap.
He just stares at you, panting, his lips flopping as he tries to find words, his eyes never once wavering off of you. His eyes move down to your collarbone, and your stomach sinks, because the shirt you're wearing is totally revealing and deep cut and that fucking tattoo you got because you're a sentimental shit is on broad display. He reaches for it. You smack him away.
You drive off into the sun.
The next day you flick through random Netflix episodes and eat half a carton of ice cream, but you spent the morning cleaning every damn inch of your apartment. You clean every damn inch of yourself. You refuse to wear anything other than underwear.
His lips are in your mind, and his eyes, and the way he smiled at you with a mouth full of blood, and the strength of his grip when they fixed his nose, and his fingers as they reached for you. He was lying in bed, those same fingers laying against your hips, and his hair mussed, his whole body smelling like morning and crisp sheets that day - his lips were the same, his fingers were the same, but everything was softer, sweeter, and then he left. He was gone with no note or call or message, and it went like that for years. Not that you had something official or labeled, not that you were exclusive, but in your chest you had felt you two were something, tied up in each other, obligated in some deep lovely way to be near each other.
You've got a fucking compass tattooed where he last kissed you, and he has a fucking compass tattooed where you last kissed him.
You don't bother to put on clothes when he knocks on your door later that day. His eyes go wide because you're usually the one with decency, but he steps in and you pin him against the door and say,
"If we're going to do this, you can't leave me again."
He nods, and you trust him. He wraps his arms around your back, and you peel off every thin layer of clothing he wears, and you run your hands into his dark hair, and the night is yours again, he's here again with you, and you breathe in the smell of skin and sweat.
He bites you where you wear your compass, and his hands hurt with how hard he holds onto you.