“You never learn, do you, Jim?”
Jim scowled, gaze snapping from Sofia’s retreating form back to Oswald. Gone was the cowering umbrella boy, along with the sycophantic social climber. In their place stood a man at the top of his game.
A man who knew exactly what he wanted and was confident he was going to get it.
Oswald picked up the wine glass Sofia had abandoned, holding eye contact as he drained it. There was something about the sight - Oswald’s glittering eyes and Sofia’s lipstick smears - that sent a thrill of fear down his spine.
They were alone out here. Far away from listening ears and prying eyes, and Oswald didn’t miss the way he watched the swipe of the other man’s tongue against his lips. Didn’t bother pretending that they didn’t both know exactly what it signified.
“She can’t give you what you need. You know that, don’t you?”
Jim looked away, the righteous anger warring with his shame at the truth of the statement. He wasn’t cut out for romance. Wasn’t built for the rosy cheeked children and the white picket fence.
He was a virus.
What he needed was somebody who understood. Somebody who didn’t want more from him than he was able to give - no promises, and no tomorrows.
When he looked back he saw that Sofia had left her riding crop on the table; he swallowed at the sight of the needlessly expensive embossed leather, a symbol of power every bit as potent as Oswald’s carefully tailored ensemble. Oswald followed his gaze and trailed his pale fingertips along the handle.
Took it in hand and cracked it through the air, subtle glee playing across his face as Jim shuddered, helpless.
“I can. I can give you exactly what you need - all you have to do is ask me for it.”
He couldn’t. Wouldn’t. Opened his mouth anyway, his voice scratched up so bad as to be almost unrecognizable.
“I’m not sure I heard you correctly,” Oswald said, smirk suggesting otherwise, and Jim gave into the darkness everyone had always been able to see him. The weakness that had always been destined to ruin him.
“Hit me,” he snarled, pressing in closer. “I want you to hit me.”
Oswald didn’t shrink away. Didn’t react at all, not visibly, though Jim’s chest was heaving with the enormity of it.
“Follow me,” Oswald said finally, and the sun was setting now, the soft glow of the sky jarring with the raging of his emotions. The light failed as Oswald lead him to some kind of guest house, disappeared entirely as Oswald directed him to remove his suit jacket.
It made sense, was only right really, because what they were about to do was best suited to the shadows. It was where he belonged, that was what Oswald had been trying to tell him all along, and he hissed through his teeth as the first blow landed.
He was bent over some ornate desk, hands braced against its surface, and Oswald hit him so hard the whole thing jostled. He couldn’t help it, the smack of the crop pushing him forward, and when he groaned aloud, lower lip bruised and swollen from his attempts to keep quiet, Oswald only hit him harder.
“You’re going to feel this for days,” Oswald told him, breathless but authoritative, “every time you try and sit down you’re going to think of who did this to you. How much you wanted me to do it to you. How much better I am at it than she’s ever going to be.”
It was the final humiliation, the proof that Oswald truly knew him better than anyone, and when Oswald let up he was so close - so far gone - that he fell against the desk, hips jerking at the contact, desperate, as he humiliated himself still further.
His knees gave out from under him when he was done, so that he had to gaze up at Oswald through the tears clinging to his eyelashes. Oswald simply smiled at him in turn, high spots of color in his cheeks but otherwise seemingly unmoved by the entire scenario.
“I think I’ll keep this as a memento,” he said calmly, hand stroking along the length of the crop in a way that made Jim shiver. “Feel free to tell your little girlfriend exactly where it’s gone though, won’t you?”