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AND WHEN I EAT HIS BEATING HEART

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Corey was a stomach sleeper. Full sprawled out like a starfish, taking up the entire bed, stomach sleeper. Namely when he didn’t have to share the bed. However, he was slightly more manageable when we was willingly sharing the territory. 

Actually, when Jim started spending nights with him (at least when they were at Corey and Paul’s apartment) he’d been forcibly ejected from the bed in the middle of the night more than a few times. As time went on though, Corey started making room for him. Consciously and subconsciously. He let Jim curl up to him, let him be there, gave him a place in his bed, and it stayed that way, even when he was dead to the world and snoring like it was the fucking Indy 500. (Which was still cute. It didn’t happen too often. Just when he was particularly exhausted and/or twisted into some weird pretzel-like shape. Sure, Jim didn’t sleep those nights. At least when he didn’t manage to pass out first. But he still loved it. He loved Corey.)

So he went from starfishing for protection to starfishing just to be close to Jim. He was still a stomach sleeper, couldn’t pass out any other way. But now he always had an arm or a leg hooked around one of Jim’s. Always had his face shoved into Jim’s ribs or the crook of his arm or somewhere else that made it feel like he was being smushed by a trash compactor, but it was fine. Cuz it was cute. Cuz it was Corey.

Corey was a stomach sleeper and Jim didn’t know what that meant in the context of all of this, but he couldn’t get it out of his head that it probably meant something . Couldn’t just ignore it. It was impossible when he was just sat there, staring at him in the moonlit glow that spilled in through the slats in the blinds. 

Jim liked watching him sleep sometimes. One of those rare moments of peace where he wasn’t being loud and annoying and just a terror otherwise. He looked soft and sweet and peaceful. Just like he was when you really peeled back all the layers. It was a rare commodity. Jim had learned to appreciate it when he got it.

And sometimes Corey would wake up to him staring at him and smiling like a giant weirdo and he’d crack some joke about Jim being a stalker, but he’d always just giggle and nuzzle back into whatever little place he’d carved himself out of Jim’s torso for the night. It was fine, cuz Corey trusted him. Wholly and completely trusted him. With every ounce of his being. He’d told him that one night. One of the late diner excursions cuz he just needed to get out for a while and get out of his head. 

He trusted Jim. And it wasn’t easy for him to trust.

This felt like some kind of betrayal. Even if Corey had asked him to do this for him. Told him that he needed this. Told him not to overthink it, cuz he knew that was the very first thing Jim would do.

Jim had agreed to this. Albeit a little reluctantly, but he said he’d do it. He would do anything for Corey. Anything to help or make him happy. Walk to the ends of the earth on hot coals, surgically remove one of his ribs and hand it to him. Didn’t matter. That’s just the type of person Jim was. This was far from the worst thing Corey could have asked of him. Honestly, it hardly pushed the limits. Set his nerves alight, sure, but it was fine. Jim could do it. Especially if it’s what Corey wanted. 

The act wasn’t what put him off, it was the idea that he’d be the direct cause of some full fledged nuclear meltdown. 

Shit, this was the dude who giggled and pressed in closer if you smacked him in the face. Yeah, sure, Jim had seen him upset plenty. Corey was a right-brained type by nature. Wasn’t afraid to show his feelings when he was comfortable, knew he was safe. 

Jim had known all there was to know just about as long as he’d been a welcome guest in Corey’s bed. Heart and soul, in all of his vices and insecurities and quirks and imperfections. Jim had seen it and heard it and felt it, gotten to know it better than most, and loved even the worst of it. Maybe he didn’t always understand, but he wanted to. He wanted to be there.

“I know it’s a heavy request,” he’d said. “I don’t mind if you turn me down here. Wouldn’t blame you, if I’m being honest.”

True. Jim had never done anything to this extent before. His exploits before scoring America’s Next Top Bastard weren’t limited, per-se, but he wouldn’t have considered himself particularly adventurous. Curiosity was there, but it took the right person to really draw it out, bring it to the surface, delve in and explore it. 

Corey liked to call him simple. It got on his nerves, or at least he acted like it did, but it was kind of true. Jim wouldn’t even deny it.

“But I think I need it. Think it might help. And I’d rather it was you.” 

He didn’t need anymore convincing after that. Corey kept rambling on, his own nerves getting the best of him, but Jim heeded all his warnings and kept on. Cuz things hadn’t been right. Cuz Corey had been off, he’d been on edge and closed off and fucked up for weeks and Jim just wanted to do his part to make it all better.

Now there he was, sat up in bed next to his soundly sleeping boyfriend, clenching and unclenching his fists to try and stop his hands from shaking. Fuck. How could anyone do this knowing the result? Knowing what they were stirring up. It sat like dead weight in the pit of his stomach. 

It was fine. It would be fine. No reason to be this nervous. Corey asked for this. He wanted this. They’d done things that may have scared Jim a little before, but it was always fine. He was being neurotic over nothing, he knew that damn well. Jim knew what he was doing. He just had to. Y’know. Get out of his own fucking head and do it. Do it for Corey. 

“Whatever happens, happens. I can take it. I’ll say something if I can’t. Just need you there.” 

Jim exhaled a breath he’d been holding for god only knew how long, shifting to one side, reaching over to push ringlets out of Corey’s face. Light leaked in from the streetlamps perfectly, illuminating his eyes, lashes casting shadows down his cheeks, and lips that almost twitched into a smile every so often. 

Jim always found himself wondering just what was going on in the inner workings of Corey’s head. Sweet dreams and aspirations and hopes for the future? Better and brighter days than they’d ever seen? 

At least that’s what he hoped. 

Maybe that would lessen the blow.

He ran his fingers through the length of Corey’s hair, twisting the ends before letting strands fall back against his shoulder. He was criminally pretty. Especially when he was dead to the world and peaceful as could be like this.

Leaning down on uneasy limbs, Jim pressed soft little kisses to his face, working down from forehead to temple to cheek to the corner of his lips and his jaw. A final act of affection, final ‘I love you’ to try and alleviate some of his mounding guilt. 

Tentative hands crept down his back and hiked up his t-shirt, exposing the soft, pale, freckle spattered skin. Shit. Okay. Familiar enough. Jim closed his eyes, feeling over the planes of his back, thumbing back down the divit of Corey’s spine. Tender little touches. He’s been here a million times. Tonight was no different. 

Skin turned to soft cotton and elastic, Jim’s fingertips brushing against the waistband of his sweats. His heart was hammering in his chest, like it was the first time he touched Corey all over again. There was no sense or reason behind it, of course there wasn’t, he just loved to be his own worst fucking enemy. 

Jesus Christ man, get it together. 

He hooked his thumb beneath the fabric, dragging it down, over the curve of his ass, letting it fall back into place beneath the cleft. There were still faint scratches stretched across his skin from earlier in the night. Quiet evening spent in, watching movies and fucking about, turned to Corey’s back against the shower stall and his legs wrapped around Jim’s waist, Jim’s nails biting into his ass and his thighs, trying to find a good grip. 

Despite all the “don’t stress over it” and reassurances, Jim had planned this out a little too meticulously. He felt like a fucking psycho, but he was just trying to make this whole thing go over a little easier. Little smoother. Little less monumental. 

Jim shifted up onto his hands and knees, carefully moving down the bed, tossing the covers back, and situating himself behind Corey. He slipped his fingers back under the elastic, peeling the sweats down Corey’s legs, ducking out of the way to get them off, and dropped them to the floor. Jury was out on whether or not Corey sleeping like the dead was a good thing in this scenario, but Jim still found himself thanking whatever great entity was out there that he hadn’t woken him yet. The fact that he’d even gotten this far was some kind of miracle.

He nudged Corey’s legs a little further apart, making it a little easier to knee in between them and bow over his form. It’s not like he was delicate and petite. Vertically challenged, maybe, but Corey was the crossbreed between a brick wall frat dude and a little femme that walked around with a switchblade and a lust for blood. He wasn’t easy to fuck with. Nobody really got to see this side of the coin. Vulnerable and exposed, all the guard walls down. You had to earn it, to have it given to you, and Jim already didn’t feel worthy. He wasn’t gonna snap him in half, but breaking him seemed like a different story. 

Pushing those thoughts back, Jim sighed softly, swept Corey’s hair off to one side, and pressed his lips to the back of his neck. He pressed his palm against his own cock, trying to fight his way past the overwhelming god, this is so fucking wrong. Let his mind slip away, actually try and get something other than a guilty conscience out of this. 

Just think about something else. 

Earlier in the night, Corey all spacey, fucked out giggles with his face hidden in Jim’s shoulder. Shower sex was always a pain in the ass. Jim has almost slipped a time or two, somebody had to spit out water every couple minutes, Corey kept sliding against the wall, making that awful squeaky sound at near deafening volumes. Paul came breaking down the door two seconds after they both came, yelling that they were taking up all the hot water. But it was fine. It was unbelievably stupid— if it were the even like, the eighth date, Jim would have fucking died of embarassment— but they both just kept laughing and cracking jokes. It was nice. Good, comfortable, safe. It was them. It was Corey. Such idiocy was to be expected. 

God, Jim loved this incomprehensible dumbass more than he ever really wanted to admit. He would do whatever it took. He was going to do whatever it took. 

Jim mouthed lazy little kisses over his neck and the back of his shoulder, fisting his hand into his boxers and curling his fingers around his dick, working himself in nice, even strokes. Shit. Okay. He could do this. He could totally do this. 

Whatever clicked in his brain at that moment made the rest go foggy. Which also happened to mean that he didn’t exactly hear Corey’s sleepy little hum at the sensation of Jim’s lips on his skin. Now he was right on the edge of consciousness, kept there by the warm weight above him. Like some kind of sleepy purgatory, but a hundred times better. 

Meanwhile, Jim had finally found his stride, pushing down his boxers enough to free his cock. He propped himself up on one hand just long enough to spit on his long fingers and reach back between their bodies to slick himself up just enough, mouth falling open in a soundless moan, gripping at the sheets. 

When he sat up on his knees again, Corey was still hazy enough to not notice— even to tolerate Jim jostling him around a little to get him in a better position. That was all pretty standard between Jim getting up a billion times a night to piss and nudging him to get him to shut up. 

Heavy sleeper, remember?

Unfortunately, it was short lived, as pain shot all the way up his spine and down his legs. He couldn’t even find the voice to scream, gasping for air and clawing at his pillow like he was struggling to keep his head above water. It took a minute for realization to wash over him but the raw, cruel, dry, agonizing pressure was a little too familiar. Too telltale. 

He was stiff, completely frozen, and it just made it hurt worse.

Don’t fight, don’t make this harder than it needs to be.

He exhaled in short whimpers, clenching his fists up in the pillowcase, laying his head back down. Breath. Don’t struggle. Fucking breathe. 

The thought always crossed his mind that it would be better to pass out again, but his body would never cooperate. Fight or flight wasn’t an option, it was freeze and wall off or nothing. 

It started off slow and steady, Jim’s hands finding his waist and holding him tight, the soft sound of skin on skin and hot, heavy breaths sticking in the air and ringing in Corey’s ears like some horrible siren din. He gritted his teeth, squirming a little, trying to shift in a way that relieved some of the white hot pain, but it seemed like Jim was everywhere. All around him.

And it was Jim. He could tell it was Jim. He knew it was Jim, but it didn’t seem to matter. Didn’t make a lick of difference, cuz his brain still made his body seize up and shut down and pump out all the chemicals that made it seem like the world was coming to an untimely and unstoppable end. At that point, it may as well have not been Jim, cuz Jim didn’t matter here. It was hands all over and teeth on his shoulder and panting against the back of his neck and whispers in his ear and wanting to shrink down and shrivel up and disappear forever. 

Come on, take it. 

Stop being dramatic, you’re fine. 

Fine held a pretty loose definition then. Corey was pretty certain fine didn’t entail holding your breath until you were lightheaded just to focus on anything else, or your heart pounding its way up your esophagus and trying to make a great escape out your mouth, or the pain being amplified times ten cuz you wanted to leave your body so fucking bad but you were stubborn to just watch. Cuz you couldn’t pretend it wasn’t there. Couldn’t act like it didn’t happen and it wasn’t a thing. Adrenaline didn’t do what it should anymore, just made everything that much louder. 

Jim’s thrusts got rougher and his hold on him more possessive. He dropped to his elbows, worming one arm underneath Corey and across his chest, grinding deep inside him, peppering gentle kisses between his shoulder blades, bodies fitting together as one. Part of Corey’s brain was keening and melting into it and desperate to pull out of this and be there in the moment. Be safe and sound and loved and cared for. The other part had him sure the tendons in his hands were gonna snap with how much stress they were under cuz he couldn’t relax. He couldn’t let it thaw and dissipate and leave his body cuz if he did that would mean surrender and this was all the power he had left in him. 

He squeezed his eyes shut and pushed his face down into the pillows, nails biting into his palms even through fabric. Shoulda just kept his mouth shut and never brought it up and never asked at all. He couldn’t blame Jim, but this. This was too much. Corey knew it was gonna push and he knew it would hurt and he knew it would crack that shell but now it was more like the whole thing was caving in and crushing him and snapping his limbs and breaking him down and he couldn’t fucking breathe. Oh god, he couldn’t breathe. 

By the time he finally broke the seal, all that came out was a sob, lingering loud and heavy in the room. Corey couldn’t hold on that tight anymore. It demanded to be felt, be heard, be known, be something real and palpable and presensent and undeniable. It needed to flow and spill out and live and breathe.

And so it did. 

Until his lungs burned and his body ached and his throat was raw and no sound would even come out anymore. Until he’d hyperventilated to the point where he felt five steps back from his own body and his vision was cloudy and the release finally brought him crashing back down into the atmosphere and he found Jim’s hand had pulled his own out of the vice it had locked itself in and their fingers were laced together.

He’d stopped altogether and laid all his weight into Corey and laid his head down on the back of his shoulder with his nose squished against him. Holding him tight. Drying his eyes. Pulling him out. Just as he promised. 

And it started to hurt just a little bit less.