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You’re twelve the first time it happens.

His name is Brandon and while you know he’s no relation to you or your Bro, you’re still young enough that your brother insists you call all his trashy drinking buddies ‘Uncle’. Tells you it’s all about respect for your elders or some dumb shit like that when really, you know he's just showing off for his friends.

You like seeing this one, though, because he actually seems to like you. Unlike the rest of your Bro’s friends, who seem to be of the same opinion he is where you’re concerned—and that’s that you’re an annoying little shit who is best neither seen nor heard—Uncle Brandon seems to like spending time with you; actually goes out of his way to talk to you and make you smile.

He’ll come into your room whenever your Bro’s occupied; in the shower or on the phone. He’ll hang with you, shoot the shit about your interests—your photography, for which he has nothing but the highest praise; your collection of cool dead things; your dumb webcomic, which always makes him laugh out loud. He’ll even joke with you about all your Bro’s weird-ass habits behind his back, and it makes you feel so special when he does that. You like that it’s private, something shared between just the two of you; something your Bro is not privy to for once, where he’s the butt of the joke and not you.

It’s nice to have a grown man actually approve of you for a change, and you’re always sad when he has to go, when you don’t see him anymore for a while.

*

The last time you see him is the night it happens.

He corners you in the hallway as you’re coming out of the bathroom and snatches you up with ease, hugs you to his big chest. You squirm away at first because you know your Bro is just around the corner in the living room getting dressed and he doesn’t like it when you get too close to his friends. But Uncle Brandon tells you it’s okay, tells you he’s just missed you is all, and you let him cuddle you for a minute, rub at your arms and your tummy, even if it’s kind of weird.

He’s warm and nice and he smells good, and he likes you. He really likes you. He tells you how much he likes you when he’s holding you, and he asks you if you like him too. You tell him that you do, that you like him a lot, and he seems to check for your Bro then before he pushes you up into the hallway wall and touches your face, trails fingertips down your throat. He looks at your lips and asks if you like that, and his voice sounds low and kind of husky and not really like him. You nod because you're suddenly afraid, even if he hasn't done anything to you to make you feel scared—hasn't hurt you, hasn't done anything at all but be nice, so nice, to you. 

He seems to startle when your Bro calls him from the living room, and abruptly releases you. He smiles one of his warm smiles again, ruffles your hair and promises he'll see you later. Makes you promise you'll show him some of your new photos, and the latest pages to your webcomic, later on. You tell him you will and he leaves the apartment with your Bro, off to hit up whatever clubs they hit up on a Saturday night, get nice and wasted while you sit at home by yourself. 

But he makes good on his promise. Only he doesn’t want to see your new photos, or the updates to your webcomic. It’s nearing on three in the morning when he and your Bro finally get back to the apartment and not long after that he slips into your room, whispers your name into the dark. He peels your comforter back, climbs into bed beside you, yanks your small body back into him and breathes on your cheek, nuzzles you. You freeze with fear and all you can smell is alcohol.

He tells you to be quiet, because if you make a noise and your Bro wakes up, comes in and catches you, it’s going to be so bad for you. Bro will hate you for being in bed with one of his friends and even if you want to open your mouth and protest, tell him you’re not in bed with him, he climbed into bed with you, your voice doesn’t work anymore. Your body doesn’t either and you can’t budge when he starts touching you, sliding your shirt up over your head and palming your soft skin, playing with your nipples, tugging your trackpants and underwear down around your knees. All you can do is tremble and squeeze your eyes shut tight and hope that whatever he’s going to do is over fast.

When he presses sloppy kisses to your neck, digs wet fingers around between your legs, he reminds you that you wanted it. You wanted this. Because you were just so flirty with him and that’s how he knew you were gagging for it, that you wanted him as badly as he wanted you. You didn’t realize you were being so flirty but you hate yourself for it anyway because you’ve made this happen, you’ve made him do this, and now he’s not going to be your friend anymore.

You try to stay quiet, not cry too loud when he hauls you up on your knees, grips your hips under his huge hands and raises your butt up into the air. He shoves your head into the pillow and you scream into your hand when he forces his way inside you, slow at first before he rams it all the way in with no warning, so his thighs are pressed right up against you and the hairs on his legs tickle your sensitive skin. He’s sweating so much you feel it drip down onto your back; he’s breathing so heavy it’s all you can hear over the blinding pain in your backside.

When he’s inside you, pounding in and out of you, he becomes a different person. He doesn’t like you the way he said he did, because you’re not Dave anymore. You’re a slut; you’re a fucking little tease, he growls at you as he slams into you. His fingers dig into your hip and he pulls at your hair, yanks your head back, fucks up into you so rough that you feel like you’ll pass out soon from the intensity of the pain.

You don’t, but after a while you do go limp, still and very quiet. By the time he’s finished with you, is emptying himself inside of you with a low growl and a hard smack to your ass, you’re not even crying anymore. He flops down next to you in the immediate aftermath, covers you with his arm, and you blink into the dark, shaking.

He brushes your bangs out of your eyes and lets his heavy hand rest against your cheek. He tells you he’s sorry, he’s so sorry, you have to know that, and can you please just forgive him because he loves you and you’re special, Dave; so sweet and innocent and he’s sorry he took your virginity but he just wasn’t thinking and it was a mistake. The biggest one he’s ever made.

You don’t answer him, because all you can think about is the wet mess between your legs, the dull, aching throb in your ass and the smell of his sweat permeating your room. You don’t want to hear his apologies, or his guilt, you just want him to leave you alone in your bed.

When you won’t talk to him he gets up, pulls his pants back up in the dark and leaves your room, closing the door with a soft click.   

He’s gone before your Bro wakes up.

*

You never tell him what happened to you, you wouldn’t dare, but you think he knows anyway because of the way you stay in bed for two days afterwards and cry, don’t eat. You’re sure he knows when you finally leave your room and can’t even walk properly in front of him. You know he knows when you’re in the kitchen one night and he says to you from the futon, “Dave. You led him on, didn’t ya?” He looks a mess, but it’s not like you’ve noticed lately. There are dark circles under his eyes, he’s unshaven, and empty beer bottles litter the floor and coffee table.

You don’t react when he says this to you, even if it feels as if he’s thrust his katana right into your guts, twisted it and ripped you open. You don’t want him to know how much he’s killed your fucking soul and so you just take your leftover food from the kitchen and head back to your room, silent.

Before you get there, you hear him call after you, “I took care of it. You won’t see him no more.”


When you’re fourteen, it’s like it never happened. You don’t know how your Bro took care of it—you’re not sure you really want to know—but he was right, and you never see Uncle Brandon again.

For the most part, it’s like a bad dream or something. You never think about it, never talk about it, and your Bro doesn’t bring it up either. You’re back to being just Dave, and your friends don’t even ask you what’s wrong with you anymore because you’re chill, you’re cool, you’re funny and aloof again and you don’t think they’re even worried about you these days, not like they were before.

You think they should be, though, because it’s not long after that it happens again, only this time it really is you who asks for it, who brings it upon yourself. When it happens, it’s with one of your Bro’s friends again and you’re not sure if it’s just because he hangs out with a lot of sketchy characters—plenty of whom have no moral compass whatsoever—or if it’s just your fucked up way of getting back at him, trying to hurt him even if you don’t genuinely believe he has a heart you can hurt.

What you’re trying to get back at him for, you’re not completely sure. Blaming you. Not protecting you. Bailing on you after when you needed him. All the times he’s made you feel like you’re not enough. Like you’ll never be good enough and that’s why he doesn’t love you.

*

The next guy is even older than your Bro and kind of scary-looking with his buzzed hair, thick muscles and body all covered in I’m-a-felon tattoos. You like him because he doesn’t pretend to be fake-nice to you the way Brandon did, but he doesn’t act like you’re an annoying little loser either.

You and your Bro drop in at his place sometimes after school, so your Bro can get his weed fix before you head on back to the apartment. You like going there with him because this dude, his dealer, has a kick-ass collection of baby animals in formaldehyde and has also got some pretty sound advice on this shit; he always explains things to you in a way you understand.

You get the idea in your head that he maybe likes you a bit too much when he passes you a soda from the fridge one day and you thank him a little too sweet, bat your eyelashes at him just for kicks, and this tough guy gets all flustered. By you. You kind of like that, that you can have a bit of power over a man that way if only they just want something from you.

The next week, when your Bro’s on the couch pulling from a bong and getting stoned as hell, the guy invites you to his room to have a look at some books on preserving animals, says he’ll even let you borrow a few to take home. And so you follow him without asking any questions, knowing full well what you’re getting yourself into this time. Knowing your Bro is just in the other room, blissfully unaware of your intentions.

When you’re following the guy down his dimly lit hallway you start feeling gross and a bit guilty, because you were sure you and Harley kinda had something going on lately; but you push that out of your mind fast because she’s better than you, and she wouldn’t even want you anyway if she really knew you.

The second you make it to his bedroom and he shuts the door, locks it behind you, you both know what’s up. He brushes your cheek with the back of his hand, looks down into your eyes like he’s a little awed by you. He asks you what a sweet, pretty boy like you wants with a nothing guy like him and you mumble some bullshit about being confused about your sexuality, let him turn you over and push you down onto his unmade bed.

You both know there’s no time for anything other than a quick fumble. Your Bro might be stoned and distracted, but it won’t be long before he’s up and looking for you, wondering where you’ve disappeared to. The guy must be thinking the same thing because he doesn’t try to kiss you or play with you first, just yanks your pants and underwear down around your thighs, spits on his hand and fingers you roughly for a couple of minutes.

You rest your head on your arm and idly pull on yourself, half-hard, even if you’re not super into this. It doesn’t matter because the guy doesn’t last long. He unzips his pants, pulls his cock out, and ruts into the crack of your ass, grunting and groaning until, just a few seconds later, he’s coming all over your back.

After, he zips himself up, flushed and kind of breathless, and tosses you some tissues from the side-table.

“You won’t say nothin’, will ya?” he asks as you clean yourself up, and his Texan drawl is even thicker than your Bro’s. You shake your head, promise him you won’t, and he messes with your hair, tells you you’re a real good boy.

He picks up a book from a dusty shelf and scribbles something in the inside of the jacket before passing it to you. “Here, take this. I think you’ll like it.” You take a peek inside the cover when he hands it to you and see he’s written his name and number on the inside, like you’re actually going to call him after this.

When it’s over, you’re pretty sure your Bro knows something’s amiss because he’s quiet on the ride home, even by his stoic standards. He doesn’t play any of his batshit music and you’re sure he suspects something’s up because you’re messy as hell and must reek like fucking jizz.

A sick part of you hopes he does know, and that it burns him.

*

If he does he never mentions it to you, but in the months and years that follow there’s a crueller edge to him. There’s times where you piss him off bad and he’ll imply you’re a whore—or even sometimes just outright call you one; tell you you’re a slut, so who cares what you’ve got to say anyway—and it’s not often but enough that it’s your new normal, and you’ve slowly begun to accept that it’s true because he’s the one saying it.    


The third time it happens is by far the worst, because you’re so out of your mind wasted that you don’t even know whose fault it is, or what led you to this point.

You’re sixteen and it’s been a few months that your Bro’s been letting you drink with him. At first a little, and then a lot. You’ve got a taste for it now, can even keep up with him some nights, and for a while it’s like the blessing you’ve been waiting on all your life.

It’s a genuine escape from your problems, makes your anxiety vanish and helps you forget all the things that ever hurt you when you were small. But the best part is the way it helps you bond with your big brother, in ways you’ve never had a chance to before.

You know he likes it, too. Loves chilling at home and getting wasted with you, the two of you getting dumber and wilder as the night wears on—some nights yelling at a movie in front of the TV, others flailing around drunkenly on the roof with swords, stumbling and injuring each other. Because when you’re drunk you’re a lot of fucking fun and you know Bro likes drunk Dave too because now he lets you drink as much as you want and, even on the nights you can’t handle it and you throw up, or black-out on the futon, the bathroom floor, it’s all worth it for the one-on-one time you get to spend together.

You’ve been spending more time with him than ever before in your life, and now you think you’re closer than you’ve ever dreamed was possible. He’s good to you sometimes now, treats you like more of an equal, and while it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you, you never see it coming, what happens next.

Because your Bro—he’s never been weird with you like that; never given you that look you’ve seen on other men. Never, ever.

You know it isn’t him and so when you come back to lucidity one night, after being blacked-out but apparently still conscious, and he’s on top of you on the living room floor, your legs bent back so far they hurt as he pumps his cock in and out of you, you know it must be you. 

You must have asked for it. You must have let him know at some point that you were down for this because if he’s an asshole he’s not a rapist, and you know him. You know he’d never put a hand on you otherwise, even if he’s a drunken mess, and so you guess this one’s on you too. Just like the other two.

Only it’s different because they meant nothing to you, whereas with him—he’s your entire fucking world. You’ve ruined everything between you because just like he said, you’re a whore; you can’t keep your legs closed, and now you’ve tempted him into doing this to you too. And he’ll hate you for it when he sobers up. He’ll never want to look at you again.   

You cover your mouth with your hand and try to stifle a sob. You know you can’t tell him to stop fucking you because you already said yes, you must have, and you think telling him no now would be worse than just letting him finish in you.

Flashes of awareness return to you bit by bit and you realize your back is bare against the carpet, and that it’s hurting you. You realize you’re completely naked, only you can’t remember how it happened and it’s torturing you.

You wonder how you got to be this way, and where your clothes are, because the last thing you remember is downing your tenth shot and rolling around on the floor with him, wrestling, betting him you could get the better of him as he smirked, pinned your smaller body down to the carpet with ease, like it was nothing.  You don’t know what happened after that—if you started to get hot and stripped for him, put your legs in the air and begged him to fuck you. It’s like your mind stopped recording at some point while you were wrestling and only now has started rolling again.

The next thing you realize is that it feels good. The way he’s slamming in and out of you in a perfect rhythm, even drunk as hell like he is. That means he took the time to stretch you out properly, get you wet, and it’s nothing like your first time, which hurt like parts of you were being set on fire and put you in agony for days afterward.

He leans down to your face then, noses your cheek, and murmurs against your ear, “I wanna see you cum.”

You wrap an arm around his broad shoulders, hide your face in his shoulder, because even though the apartment’s dark, the hallway light the only light still on, you can’t risk him looking at your face and knowing something’s wrong with you. Because as far as he’s concerned, you want it. You were asking for it.

“Touch yourself,” he orders in a gruff voice, because obviously you didn’t get the hint the first time, that he wants you to cum, and you wonder then how long you’ve been having sex. You give him a little nod and curl your fingers around your erection, coaxing yourself back to full hardness.

It’s not difficult because he’s good, and it feels so good, and even if you’re dying on the inside and dreading the morning, the return of both your sobriety and having to confront this awful thing you’re doing without the shield of alcohol, you just want to please him and cum if he wants to see you cum.

It’s even easier when he starts snapping his hips at full speed and whispering dirty shit into your ear. You’re a whore, and a slut, and he’s called you that before only now you’re his slut, his whore, and you’re so fucking hot and tight for him and he wants you; he wants you so fucking bad.

He sucks on your throat while you jerk yourself off and you cum with a little cry just seconds before he does, making a mess all over his stomach and yours. He groans and rolls his hips as he empties himself inside you, his teeth on your throat, and slumps down over you when he’s finally finished riding out his orgasm.

He’s heavy on top of you, almost crushing you, but you lay there still, careful not to move, and keep your arm hooked around his shoulders, conscious of his chest heaving against yours. You think if you move or say something the spell will be broken and he might hit you, or say something that kills you, or just leave you.

You’ve always been left. No one ever stays. Not that you’ve ever wanted them to. You think you might want him to stay, though, because you’re still drunk and exhausted and you so desperately need his reassurance, even if it’s likely to be broken in the morning.

When he finally rolls off of you you start to panic because it doesn’t matter what he says, you don’t want to hear it. You can’t handle it; not after this. You sit up and grope around in the dark for your clothes, even if you have no clue where to look because you can’t remember taking them off or where you threw them. You suppose you could forget about them and just get up, go to your room without saying a word, but you know that could make things worse and besides, you can’t bear the idea of him seeing you naked right now. Or worse, him looking at the wet, rapidly-cooling evidence of what you two did that’s dripping down between your thighs at the moment.

You hear him grunt a little and then the futon creaks. He’s not going to say anything, you realize; he’s going to get into bed and sleep it off and if you know him at all, when he wakes up in the morning he’ll pretend he just doesn’t remember. He’ll act like none of it ever happened and the only evidence you’ll have indicating he does is an increase in his cruelty, his coldness towards you.

You’re frozen on the floor when something hits the side of your head. It falls down into your lap and when you pick it up you realize it’s a box of tissues.

“Clean your shit up before ya get in,” Bro grunts from the futon.

You rush to do what you’re told, still so shell-shocked you’re grateful to follow his orders because otherwise you wouldn’t know what to do with your own body.

“You done?”

“Yeah,” you sniffle.

He drags you up by your wrist, shifts over to make a space for you and pulls you into his body, drags his soft comforter up over the two of you and promptly starts snoring.

You lay there in the dark for a long time, his arm wrapped tight around you, and listen to him breathe. You don’t sleep at all, because while you want to trust that he’s not going to be disgusted with you in the morning, your whole life has taught you better and you know—you just know—that nothing is ever going to be the same between you again.

It's broken. Because you broke it.