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Isaiah 41:10

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It had been easier than Shaun had expected to get his hands free.

Joseph, no doubt tipped off by the furious tugging Shaun had attempted the instant he woke up in his own cuffs, had been careful not to leave close anything that could function as a lockpick even the slightest sense of the word. There hadn’t been any patience provided for any efforts at refusing food either; as though he were able to tell it was more a punishment for Shaun than himself.

Maybe it should have taken longer, but, in the end, after about a week of having his mouth pried open under a harsh press of fingers, Shaun decided to swallow up the scraps of his pride.

Getting the food to actually rest right in his stomach was still a problem. Not actually flinching whenever Joseph lingered too close, no matter how much forewarning he might have of it, was harder still.

But down here, stripped away of all the vestments from above, if not the power of it, Joseph was a remarkably easy read. Or maybe it was just a simple enough thing to catch the grief gnawing in his own gut, the loneliness that hunched his body up tight.

In the end, it didn’t matter which was more right, so long as he had the chance to exploit it. Not that had kept the guilt from rising up, a bitter kick to the back of his throat, at each sign that it had worked. There had been small smiles in return for doing as he was told; ones that only grew wider and surer as he learned not to twist away from the slightest touch.

He had been proud of it for all the wrong reasons, not wanting to admit that the nights Joseph’s hands lingered, draped off the side of the bed, were the ones where he slept best of all.

It didn’t matter, either way. Not when it still wasn’t enough to keep the reminders of his plan from pressing in along the edges of his mind.

There wasn’t a chance in hell of him getting a knife, of course. Even after Joseph started to trust him to be on his own for longer stretches of time, he made sure to keep all of those stashed away somewhere. Maybe there was still just enough of a God left to provide some divine intervention, though, because, as it turned out, he didn’t need one.

There was supposed to be a spare cot, but, in whatever struggle had occurred with Dutch, it had gotten trashed. All those bent parts allowed for plenty of sharp ends. It wasn’t pretty, or even fast, yet it was easy enough to accept that as just another part of what he deserved.

The hands snagging across his face weren’t as nice, though. Neither was having to actually see the horror in Joseph’s face as he was clung to.

“What have you done ?”

It was even more effort than Shaun had considered to get his tongue to work. His lips had already started to flare up with sparks of numbness, slurring his words all the more. “What you wouldn’t.” He groaned at being dragged up, but any energy to struggle had been run out of him with the blood.

It was like being carried from the crash all over again, except, time time, when he came to it was on the bed instead of locked against it, wound up tight in someone else’s arms.

Fingers pressed against his cheek all but in the moment he tried to shift away, guiding his head back towards exactly who he didn’t want to face. “No, no.” He yelped against the pinch Joseph pressed to his side, unable to help it. “I know it hurts, but you need to stay awake. You’ve lost too much blood already.”

Shaun spared a glance at his wrists, an absurd burst of laughter bubbling up at the sight of the bandages. “It would’ve been easier just to let me go,” he muttered. “I earned it.” He pressed his lips tight together, fighting to keep back the slightest sound at the kiss that was pressed to his forehead.

“Running from your actions would not have brought you atonement for them.” Joseph sighed at the glower sent his way for that. “You don’t get to leave me—not you too.”

“Why not?” Shaun bit back. “What am I to you except the last man standing?”

The ceiling had already been trying to swim sideways above him, but it only got worse when Joseph rolled over atop him all at once, hands a warm brace against his wrists. He had to grit his teeth against the spasms of pain that flared up immediately when Joseph decided to harden his grip.

“You are the gift that God has given me.” There was too much heat to Joseph’s words, eyes glazed over like how Shaun had once seen during sermons. “You will test my faith, make it stronger. And in return—”

“I get the craziest version of Sunday school around?” Shaun hissed in through his teeth as Joseph dug his thumb in against the bandages, hating how he could feel himself tremble. “Fucking… Fine, fine! What is it you want to give me?”

That was the problem with phrasing, he had to remember, when he had to swallow hard against Joseph’s widening smile. “I will save you.” There was a roll of hips, something that made Shaun squirm what little he could as a definite hard line pressed against his thigh from behind Joseph’s jeans. “From the doubts that plague you even now. I know what you need and I will provide it.”

This was where Shaun should use the last of his strength to buck Joseph off or, at the very least, put in the actual effort to push out from underneath him. It was what was expected from those who were no longer there to see whether or not he followed through.

Later, after a chance to get his strength back, maybe he could try to be that person again. For now, though, he didn’t have it left in him to deny something that actually felt good for the first time since the bombs fell.

“Pretty big promise.” There was another attempt at a lecture bubbling up inside Joseph, he could tell from the frown as much as the hard pinch at his eyes. Made it all the more fun to tip his chin up and say, “Show me.”

As was a worryingly typical state of affairs, it didn’t occur to him that it might not have been such a good idea until he was already in too far to get back out.

Joseph kissed to consume, hands never moving for all his hips shifted. As if there was still a chance that Shaun would reach for a chance to slip away at the first opportunity. It was almost a laughable thought when he couldn’t move at all without either being pressed further against Joseph’s skin or tipping the man’s tongue further into his mouth without even meaning to.

When Joseph finally broke away for longer than a few snatched seconds, Shaun had to pant for air. The room was spinning now; his head gone light with more than just blood loss.

“Joseph, you have to…” There were teeth, quick and sharp, against his throat then. He wasn’t so far gone as not to feel how quick Joseph was to thrust down when he cried out against it either. “I need…” He almost smiled when Joseph’s hand drifted at last, only for it to freeze somewhere in the middle when it only rested, palm down, against his groin.

“Tell me,” Joseph said, before he could question it. “Tell me what— who —it is you need.”

In any other situation, Shaun might have laughed at the transparency of the request. Now, though, with Joseph’s eyes locked desperately on him, hair long since worked undone from the bun to hang around his reddened face, it was remarkably easy to toss his scruples to the wind.

“I need you.” When the hand remained unmoving his tongue darted out to wet his lips, unable to keep back a smile at how quick Joseph was to track the movement with his eyes. “Please?”

His next breath came like it had been knocked out of him as his world narrowed down to Joseph’s hand fitting around his cock, at last. It should have been embarrassing how easy it was from there. Except it was hard to hold onto that when he came down from floating, heart beating a near painful beat as Joseph rolled his hips harshly against his thigh.

He didn’t quite have the energy to return the favor, but the man seemed just as pleased by the drag of his hands down his chest. Even more so with the words almost light enough to get lost in Joseph’s own panting, echoing in his ears.

"I understand—I'll stay."

He clung on afterwards when most people would have slipped away to get clean, clinging on in a way that really should have been painful rather than comforting. "Did you mean it?" There's a threat underlying those words, no matter how soft, and Shaun knew he'd be a fool to ignore it. "You won't try to leave again?"

"I won't." A shaky breath escaped from Joseph once Shaun manages to find his cheeks with his lips. "You don't have to worry."

Not about Shaun having another go at hurting himself, at least. He'll just have to figure out another method of getting away...maybe.