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Safety

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“Don’t fucking tell Nicky,” Aaron said, head bent forward taking a deep breath. He had his hands braced on the table Andrew sat at with a drink in hand. Aaron always said it. Andrew never told Nicky.

Aaron’s eyes flickered up to meet Andrew’s, pupils blown wide to turn his eyes black.

“Yeah,” Andrew said as Aaron held his hand out. Andrew gave him a second little bag. He watched Aaron dump it, line it up, and snort it in seconds while sweaty bodies moved around them and lights danced over their skin. Aaron was trying to cut back, so Andrew held the drugs.

Cocaine gave Aaron wings.

He melted away into the crowd. Andrew had no desire to dance or even be in the club with the people in the windows tempting those outside to come in. No one touched him, but their eyes did. All the eyes raked over him, undressing him and pinning him to the table. Their fantasies were on a loud speaker and Andrew’s stomach rolled over and over and over.

He drank and then he went to the bathroom to wash his hands.

Another drink and he washed his hands twice.

Another drink and he was scrubbing his skin raw fighting the urge to tear his clothes off and wash his entire body.

He kicked the bathroom door open and marched to the bar. He ordered only from the owner. When he was looking for somewhere safe to take his brother, the dogs pointed him to Roland. Roland kept a low profile, but Andrew searched through everything on the internet looking for a reason not to go inside.

He found none.

Now it was a frequent visit that Wymack turned a blind eye to. They stayed until the sun came up and then took the car back to their plush lives in the upper ring.

The club was sweltering, but Andrew wore a thick turtle neck and pants. Nicky hated it, but didn’t try to change Andrew’s mind.

Roland wore a vest over a bare chest and tight black pants. Half way through the night he always had glitter smeared across his face and arms. Today his nails were black and he wore eyeliner. When he talked, Andrew could see the ball that pierced his tongue. He was nearly a foot taller than Andrew with a slimmer, but strong build. Andrew liked his pouty lips the best.

He liked the way those lips felt against his own.

“How’s Aaron?” Roland asked, pouring Andrew a drink.

“High,” Andrew said. To ease Andrew’s worries, Roland kept extra eyes on Aaron so that he didn’t wander down the wrong road. Andrew finished his drink in two gulps and turned gold eyes on Roland. The lights at the bar turned his skin violet.

“Do you wanna go?” Roland asked. Andrew nodded once before pushing away from the bar. He left the club, lighting up as he turned the corner to punch in the code up to Roland’s apartment.

He climbed the stairs. The stairs were hot and stuffy in the summer and his shirt was already stuck to his back.

He sat at the kitchen table, leaning the chair back and blowing smoke to the ceiling. Roland kept a tidy place and Andrew appreciated it. Everything was clean. Everything had a place. Roland let him shower as much as he needed to behind a locked door and let him wash his clothes when he needed to.

Andrew went to the kitchen sink and lit another cigarette before methodically washing his hands. The door opened and closed and Roland crossed the room to stand with Andrew.

“Don’t touch,” Andrew reminded, pulling his cigarette from his lips and tilting up to kiss Roland. Andrew grabbed Roland’s junk as he pushed his tongue into Roland’s mouth. Roland groaned and that was Andrew’s cue. He backed off and handed Roland the cigarette to hold.

Andrew unbuckled Roland’s belt and pushed his pants to his knees. Roland held the cigarette in one hand and let the other brace against the kitchen counter.

Andrew dropped to his knees taking Roland’s cock into his mouth. Everything with Roland was like an itch he couldn’t get rid of. He hated how the itch always came back and he loved the feeling of scratching it. That’s how it’d been with everyone who could keep their hands to themselves. No one was great at it, but Andrew wouldn’t repeatedly scratch that itch with someone who couldn’t keep their hands to themselves.

Lust ran deep, coursing through him no matter how much he hated it. Andrew loved the cocks he chose to put in his mouth. Their weight, the heat, the fullness. His body ached and throbbed for it.

Lust pulsed threw him while fear and anxiety clawed at his turned back. The sting of talons cut deep and tried to cloud his thoughts as he touched and tasted. Roland’s moans were music to his ears forcing the crying out of his mind.

Panic boiled in his stomach when he got hard; his body begging to be touched. He’d learned how to fight it back long enough to finish taking what he wanted.

Roland came down his throat and Andrew licked him clean almost desperate for more. He pulled off, panting hard. His hands were shaking and he felt sticky; dirty.

Roland handed him the half gone cigarette and Andrew took it gratefully without looking up.

“That was great,” Roland said. Andrew hated when he talked after, but was thankful at the same time. His voice wasn’t the one that haunted him. “I bought more shampoo after your oh so pleasant text,” Roland laughed. He didn’t ask to touch Andrew anymore. He knew just to talk until Andrew remembered how to move.

“Aaron is still fucking Mimi,” Roland said. Andrew didn’t really want Aaron with anyone, but Mimi worked for Roland so Andrew was able to comb through her records. Marseille called him obsessive. Andrew barred his teeth at her and said he was being safe.

Andrew lit a new cigarette. The shaking hadn’t stopped yet. He needed more.

“I’ve been watching preseason since there’s buzz about you being moved to starter. The youngest the Foxes have ever had in starting goal at only nineteen. I watched your league games and they were intense. Those fights were way more brutal,” Roland said. He liked to bring up Exy. It was annoying even if he reacted well to it. Being reminded that he was free was powerful. Hearing about Exy was like throwing him a life preserver as he drowned.

“Aaron’s still in the main room. Marseille reported that he’s with Blue watching the people in the windows,” Roland said. That was what Aaron did when he was high out of his mind. He watched the people in the windows as they sold themselves and then he’d finally get up and go to Mimi and convince her to go back with him. He knew how to time it so that he crashed on the way home and went from smiling to sullen.

Andrew stood up, looking Roland in the eye and grinned a dangerous grin. The kind that cracked his face when he felt out of control. Roland knew the look and took the cigarette from Andrew’s mouth and put it in his own.

“Lock up when you’re done. Make out with me before you leave,” Roland said and turned and left Andrew standing in the dim kitchen. He listened to Roland leave. The smile still plastered on his face as his clothes felt too tight and his skin turned to acid.

He clawed his clothes off once he locked the bathroom door. He stood naked under the harsh light as he tried not to scream. He laughed instead. Laughed as he turned the water scalding and raked his nails across his skin trying to tear it off.

Half a bottle of shampoo and half a bar of soap later and he could finally touch himself. Jack off fast and rough, his body aching for his touch. It didn’t take long to come. It never did. He was so pent up and leaking and desperate. Andrew denied himself over and over until he was bursting at the seams.

His chest heaved as the cool water washed everything away. Water washed everything but his mind clean. He wanted to crack open his skull and dump boiling water inside to flush out his memories.

Andrew picked up the shampoo again, teeth chattering. He liked how bright Roland’s bathroom was. There were no shadows for his fear to lurk in. No shadows to look like blood running down his legs and down the drain dragging his sanity with it.

The water turned to ice, freezing him from the outside in until he was pleasantly numb. He changed into clothes he kept at Roland’s and took his dirty clothes to the washer. His knuckles had split open and burned as he moved. His body felt raw and numb and not clean enough.

He buried the last of the panic in the washer by dumping in soap and watching the water bury his dirty clothes. Andrew lit another cigarette and went to the door. He stood outside with Marseille. She smoked silently next to him. The emptiness of the alley and the cloying smell of her cigarettes was oddly grounding. The dirty streets were familiar. They were where he had most of his breakdowns.

Andrew went back into the club and sat at his table. There was no sign of Nicky or Aaron. There were three hours until dawn and Andrew wanted to pull out his hair. Eyes raked over him again. People passed by too close, too drunk, too drugged.

He’d never take Aaron’s drugs. Being drugged was worse than suffocating while sober. He’d been drugged for a test period in juvie. Subjected to more tests and trials against his will, but for once he hadn’t been the ideal candidate and he was left stone cold sober.

Andrew got up and moved to where Aaron always sat. He stood in front of his brother until Aaron frowned.

“Are you okay?” Andrew asked flatly even though paranoia pulled the words out of his mouth.

“Never better,” Aaron said mouth changing into a lazy grin as Mimi moved past Andrew. Andrew watched her sit in Aaron’s lap and put her hands all over Aaron. He held her close, hands all over her exposed skin. Her glossy lips pecked Aaron on the cheek and Andrew turned away.

“Stay safe,” he said to Aaron. Aaron nodded, but Andrew knew he didn’t hear him. He went to find Roland and kiss him before he started to scream in the middle of the club. He didn’t scream anymore, but the feeling still bubbled inside of him begging to be let out.

Roland would tell him to go home. Roland always told him to go home when he started to get crazy.

Crazier.

Andrew dug his nails into the cracks on his hands pulling the wounds open until the gaped and his blood ran free and he could finally breathe.

He went into the back where Roland’s office was. They could kiss there. Kissing there was okay because it was close enough to his brother and far enough from the noise and the people and the chaos that threatened to swallow him.

Andrew sat on the velvet couch and tried to remember how to breathe. If they didn’t go to Eden’s Twilight then Aaron would find drugs and trouble elsewhere. That had happened enough in the first year in Palmetto and Andrew had made it so that it’d never happen again.

Even if it meant sacrificing part of his remaining sanity.

Even if it meant sacrificing all of his sanity.

Anything to keep Aaron safe.