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The rawness of your tongue when you dragged it, searing, across my clammy skin; eyes unwavering as they traced every tremble as I fought to grasp the last of my control. You hushed me, in that ragged whisper, with your uneven teeth grazing my flesh as we sank deeper — so close I could feel the gravity’s pull as I toed the precipice. I pressed my palms into the ribbons of your back, kneading, in desperation, yet rebelling as I clung on to my mantle of pride (because no, heavens no, I am the one in charge don’t you ever forget that). Dissatisfied, you caught my hooded eyes in yours. The almost primal need blazing in the inks of your depths hypnotic as you pointedly ground our angles until we were blossoming at the seams. I groaned involuntarily as I felt the depths of my insides ignite, rendering my barely functional self barren of coherence. The harshness of your mouth was tempered by the tenderness of your fingers — their touches fleeting cinders melting into molten veins; tributaries emptying into the void of my memories, accumulating in a whirlpool of questions that would lay ignored beneath the bedrock of reality.

The lingers of your stare bordered upon uninvited —for all the gripes I’d given you about your bull-headedness, you were surprisingly astute—, its desire to devour now eclipsed by the uncanny caricature of affection it shone upon us. (Don’t you dare reawaken—, impose that doubt on me because of your own weakness.) I threw my head back as I fought to recreate the fantasy; the violence of the motion a physical anchor to the aged yellows of the apartment that reclaimed my vision. The stuttering of your rhythm a silent resignation, and for a moment my own heart faltered. You held on to me, exposed, the thrumming of your nerves sending ripples of melancholy through my bones. My own softness absorbed your echoes, of an eternal reverie in which you were mine, and I was yours. You pressed your fingers into me, their accusations intent on piercing through my façade (I swear we mean as much to me as we do to you). But how could I ever admit that it was the strength of your jaw, and the friction of your mouth that corrupted me into this thing that writhed under you?

In our story, there could never be a happy ending. Why couldn’t you see, that the purples of our bruises were the venom, and the reds of our flesh were the betrayal, in what would be an inevitable tragedy? Fairy tales are the wistful bindings of the weak-willed and pliant, hapless victims of a naivety that is (almost) extinct. So I swallowed the aching in my throat, and let the burn of regret lace my weighted tongue, “What’s wrong? Can’t keep up, you useless mutt?” The grind of your snarl pulled us back into the familiar, and the rest of my tension bled into the whites of your knuckles against the pulse of my throat. (What does it say about us, when antagonism is our equilibrium? When the spuriousness of our coupling can only be validated by our mutual hostility?) Your eyes all hurt and part rage as you drove yourself deeper in me. So, I exhaled, all the words I lacked the courage to voice when you slammed me into the headrest. My insistent fingers clawed an unintelligible map against the smoothness of your skin, equal parts fury and apology as they memorised your geography for future nights spent alone. You fisted my tangled locks in response —grip so tight I felt you for days after—, almost as though you were afraid I would vanish outside your touch. I stifled a bitter laugh. (You really are dense. Do you still not understand?) We were irrevocably tangled in this web of misplaced yearning: bodies pressed so closely we were asphyxiating; tongues threaded in eternal war; limbs weaving over each other in a mess of lust and attachment; flesh rubbing over and over and over until the sheer rawness finally peeled us apart. We were cursed; not in the hesitant shyness of conventional partners, or the dying embers of a calloused love, but in the cruel hand of fate. The same one that forced our incompatible suffering bodies into each other’s unfitting notches, and laughed as it watched forever spilled from our gaps.

Tension gradually unfurled under your skin, pulling you so taut I was almost afraid of snapping you in two. I clenched, my jaw tight, as I worked on your release, frustration delaying my own in my failure. “Let it go,” I mouthed against your exposed ribs, slipping past your quivering to finger your delicate centre. Stubborn, you resisted, with need still dripping, “Not… Without you.” Perhaps another me would have captured that sweetness, pressed it like a cherry against the roof of my mouth until it exploded like dawn after a stormy dusk. Perhaps another you would have lapped the remnants that spilled from the corners of my lips, before threading our love across the angles of my collarbone. Perhaps another us would have ascended in the moment, redrawing what was yours and what was mine until we created a new constant. Instead, your words rustled against the softness of my open mouth, unravelling, until all I spat were wilted words and broken sounds. But for me, that was enough.

I folded into you, vulnerable, hands rooted on your thighs as I doused my possessiveness onto your flesh. My tongue loose in the shroud of nebulous haze, caution dissolving in the light of a thousand stars; searching, blindly searching for that intimate high once more— “Katsuya.” Wrists buckling, you finished, heaving out the fullness you were holding until the scent of you became an indelible part of me. Fluttering, I descended into your warmth languidly expanding inside me, desperate to prolong the connection lest it was all a dream. The tiredness of your lips evaporated my stupor, hesitant yet persistent against my growing sobriety. I should have stopped you (I should have stopped myself) — weren’t we lucky enough to share an existence together? (I’ve learnt the hard way that greed robs not just what you have, but what could’ve been too.) We tasted of our own brand of betrayal: of repossessed smiles and special touches by strangers who wandered the place that was once ours; of late nights and excuses that redefined the truth until what we had became the lie; of forgiveness that existed under the guise of apathy because we were buried under our inertia.

“Ya are fucking stupid, ya know?”

“So are you for indulging me.”

(I wish there was a universe with us in it, I really do.) Until then, I will keep the taste of your name tattooed on my tongue, pressed into a forgotten enclave that is the ink of my marrow. Because when you finally leave, at least I will have something of yours that is truly mine.