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Carve My Name

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“Sometimes,” said Alvey, “I want to give you my own tattoo, right here.” He drew the tip of his knife down Ryan’s sternum, hard enough to matter, but not hard enough to draw blood.

Why not, Ryan thought. Cut me open and what would you see? ALVEY KULINA WAS HERE. I MADE THIS. The psychic equivalent of graffiti tags. Why not have one on the outside, too?. But he didn’t say anything aloud. It would have been hard anyway with Alvey’s forearm pressing against his throat.

He had no idea what had gotten into Alvey, showing up at the gym after hours with two knives, tossing one to Ryan, and saying, “Let’s mix it up.” Not another practice drill—no knives in MMA—but not a real fight either. Just that look Alvey got sometimes, the look that said, my rules, now..

So Ryan had played along. He was a decent knife fighter, had learned in prison with shivs and shards of rusted aluminum. But Alvey was better, God knew where he’d picked up that particular skill set.

And now here Ryan was, slammed up against the gym wall, the scent of Alvey’s sweat and expensive aftershave filling his nostrils, the point of Alvey’s knife digging into his solar plexus. They were as close as they would have been in a fighting hold, but it was different. The rhythm of Alvey’s breath was different, the feral gleam of his smile was different. Under their assault, Ryan’s heart sped up, and he longed for the knife as he’d never longed for the tattoo needle.

“Do it, then,” he rasped, shocked by the hoarse longing in his voice. “Put your mark on me.”

But instead of the sharp pain of the blade he got the heat of Alvey’s lips on his, the spark to a flame. If ever a kiss was a cage match, this was it, a clash of teeth and tongues and will.

Overwhelmed, Ryan closed his eyes. A rookie mistake—because just as he was getting into it, tipping his head back and letting his hips grind into Alvey's, he felt Alvey's mouth withdraw, and heard Alvey’s knife clatter to the floor. Then came the sound of Alvey’s short bemused laugh. Ryan opened his eyes fast, but Alvey was gone: the knife in Ryan’s hand and the single pinprick of blood on his chest the only signs that he’d been there at all. The only outward signs, anyway.