He's been scared many times in his life. School scared him. The army. Walking out of his house used to scare him a lot, on very bad days. Loneliness scared him, and sometimes company too. Loud noises and silence. The idea that someone could see him, really see him for who he really is, and the thought that he could go on all his life utterly unnoticed. Closed rooms and open spaces. Too deep a darkness and too bright a light. The very concept of opposites, yes, he finds that unbelievable scary too, the fact that in life things such at odds with each other can coexist harmoniously (a sudden flash, electricity running through his veins as he pictures soft hands touching him gently and those very same hands lifting him up to hang him from a noose, or crash him against the trunk of a car to beat him to a pulp).
Fear was a constant state of mind. For one reason or another, he was always scared of something.
Or so he believed.
He believed he knew what fear was all about. What that dreadful feeling could mean for a person, what it could do to a person.
That was, obviously, before he met Sangwoo.
The word itself, fear, reshaped itself since Sangwoo caught him. It's become bigger. Sometimes words have that power, they change to contain in themselves new meanings, new shades and dimensions. The combination of four letters that meant getting anxious about something he was supposed to do, or something he knew was about to happen, changed into a dark, hellish pit the bottom of which cannot be seen from where he's standing. Changed into the absolute certainty of pain, opposed to the haunting idea of never knowing where that pain would come from, or how would it be inflicted upon him. The constant feeling of terror shaking him every time he hears a noise the house wasn't supposed to produce when it's late at night or when he thought he was alone.
The one thing that changed the most, though, is that he always knew how to control fear, how to handle it. Whenever he got scared, there was always something he could do to make the feeling go away. If he was scared of the outside, he could run back inside. If he was scared of people, he could hide out in his bedroom. If he was scared of loneliness, he could run away from it surrounding himself with noises loud enough to make it impossible for him to think.
Now, though, fear's an uncontrollable feeling. There's nothing he can do to avoid it. His broken legs cannot even bring him from a room to the other properly, let alone running away. And even if his legs worked as they should, he would always meet a closed door at the end of his run. Or, even worse, Sangwoo's back as he sits on the stairs just outside of it, waiting to catch him red-handed.
(And, honestly, even if his legs worked, and the door wasn't locked, and Sangwoo really wasn't there to stop him, would he really leave? At this point, would he find the strength? Sometimes he wonders. When he's lying on the bed alone, staring at the ceiling 'cause Sangwoo's out somewhere with someone he doesn't know, he wonders, and he grits his teeth and squeezes his eyes closed and shakes his head really hard, trying to disperse the thoughts as if they were black smoke, because the answer to that question scares him, and he doesn't wanna know it.)
He turns on his side on the mattress. He can't sleep, but he wants to keep his eyes closed because he knows Sangwoo's awake, lying next to him. He can feel these things now, not all the time but every now and then. When Sangwoo's playing at something, he can tell. When he pretends to be asleep to see if he's gonna move on him, he usually knows. He's learned how to detect the slightest changes on his face, to understand his expressions. It's saved him bad punishments in quite a few occasions.
It's warm underneath the blanket. And Sangwoo's body's warm too, he can feel it. He would like to touch him so much, to feel the warmth of his skin against his fingertips, the texture of his skin, the soft, thin blonde hair along his forearms. He'd like to touch his chest, to feel the curves of his muscles, the bumpy road of his abs. His hip bones. And how they disappear under the elastic waistband of his sweatpants.
He still doesn't know how this thing works, exactly. He suspects he will never really understand it, it seems like one of those things one could go on not being able to explain his whole life.
He fears him, that's for sure.
He hates him, that he understands.
But he wants him so much, and he misses him so, whenever he's not around. Every bruise, every cut, every wound, every time he bled, at some point during the past few months have melted into something the shape of which he cannot really describe, mixed with the confusing feelings his voice, his touch, his smile give him every time. Simply put, one day Bum woke up realizing he couldn't tell anymore where his fear of him ended, and where his craving for him began. They were one and the same, coexisting within his soul buried at a deep level, hidden but not enough to be ignored, like a seed. Yes, like a seed. Something destined to grow into something else that'll be big, and pronged, and complicated.
“I know you're awake,” Sangwoo says.
Bum's heart skips a beat as he tries to keep himself from shaking at the mere sound of his voice. He's speaking in his usually lighthearted tone. Which is better than his angry tone, but still as creepy.
Bum keeps his eyes stubbornly closed, hoping Sangwoo might be just guessing. Perhaps, if he sees there's no reaction coming from him, he'll convince himself he's wrong, and he will go back to sleep.
But Sangwoo chuckles and reaches out for him, stroking his cheek. He has a way to really press his fingers against it, searching for a fuller contact, that is at the same time elating and terrifying.
“Bum,” he says, calling his name sweetly, “Come on. Open up your eyes. I want to see you look at me.”
And, as always, Bum obeys. It's stronger than him. He knows Sangwoo's manipulating him, he understands that, if not fully at some deep subconscious level, anyway, but still, whenever Sangwoo expresses any kind of desire towards him, he can't help but to respond.
He opens his eyes and focuses on him. Sangwoo's lying on his side, opposite to him, staring back. He's got that sweet half smile curling only one corner of his lips upwards. It's delicious and it makes him look younger and more innocent than he really is. Bum wants to kiss him, but he doesn't move.
“Hi,” Sangwoo says, “You've been awake a while.”
Bum shakes his head, lowering his eyes.
Sangwoo chuckles, stroking his cheek.
“Yes, you have,” he says, “I know that. I can tell by your breathing.” He slides over on the mattress, closing the distance between them, speaking in the very same space where Bum's breathing. “I learned to tell the difference, did you know that? I laid awake all night watching you, for several days, a few weeks ago. I watched you as you kept your eyes shut, shaking next to me, and then I've watched you fall asleep, and your breathing sounded difference. So now I know. You don't have to fake it anymore.”
Bum feels his eyes fill up with tears, as it always happens every time Sangwoo manages to make him feel bare and unprotected, and looks down, ashamed at himself. Sometimes he deludes himself into thinking he might have found a way to protect at least some shreds of privacy, put them into evanescent, kaleidoscopic bubbles to keep them from being discovered by Sangwoo.
But Sangwoo always manages to do just that. He bursts them. He bites into them with pointy teeth and bursts them, spilling their insides all over.
(Just like he did with that man.)
“I thought you'd have found that cute,” Sangwoo comments, vaguely disappointed, “A dirty stalked like you should only be glad that someone would watch him sleep. Isn't it more or less what you would do anyway?”
He knows Sangwoo's teasing him to see if he'll react. Bum knows exactly what's waiting for him if he reacts, and so he doesn't. He just looks up at him, pouting, and Sangwoo laughs wholeheartedly, leaning in to press their forehead together.
“When you look at me like that, I forget you're a boy. You look almost cute.”
He wishes he could command his body not to warm up like that whenever Sangwoo tells him something sweet. He wishes he could command his heart not to flutter. But he cannot, and he bites into his bottom lip, looking up at him expectantly.
“I am...?” he asks in a low, childish voice.
Something in Sangwoo's eyes changes at that, and Bum understands instantly, on an almost intimate level, that he triggered him. He didn't want to, but he did.
Now he'll have to face the consequences, and he braces himself for that.
(Or at least he tries.)
“You are,” Sangwoo says. His voice is deeper, somehow huskier, almost raw. He moves even closer, and now Bum can feel his breath on his own skin, caressing his cheeks, the tip of his nose, his lips. Then Sangwoo's voice becomes even darker. “You make me wanna destroy you.”
Bum holds his breath because the promises those words conceal are fascinating, and absolutely horrifying.
“Why...” he swallows, “Why would you want to destroy something cute?”
“To turn it into something only I could recognize,” Sangwoo answers right away. “If only I know what's underneath the blood and bruises, only I will want it.”
Bum looks up at him, squirming. “You wanna be the only one wanting me, then?” he almost mewls.
Sangwoo looks at him indulgently for a second. His smile sweetens up, widens up, and instinctively Bum knows something mean's gonna come out of his lips now.
“Bum,” he says, “I already am the only one wanting you. Who else could?”
It hurts. Mainly because it's true.
Bum looks down again and the tears he's been struggling to hold back up to now fall freely down his cheeks, wetting the pillowcase. “Right...” he says with a broken voice.
Sangwoo laughs. There's nothing mean in the sound in itself, but it feels cruel nonetheless. “Did I make you feel bad?” he asks merrily, almost chirping. “You're always so fragile. You don't like being told the truth, do you?”
Bum shakes his head, raising his hands to cover his face. He feels how wet his lips are against his palms. He feels them pool there, and he can taste them on his lips. Whenever Sangwoo tells him something, he always tries to remind himself that Sangwoo's crazy, that he's sick, that his words aren't necessarily true. But it's so hard to really believe that when he knows, deeply inside his heart, that they are.
Sangwoo moves closer, a hand on Bum's head, stroking his hair. They're soft and they smell good because Sangwoo showered him before putting him to bed, tonight. Bum can still feel it in that single touch. In the way Sangwoo's fingers stroke his hair he can feel those very same fingers stroke his skin, wet with warm water and bubbly with nice fruit-flavored bath foam. The thought calms him, and he lowers his hands, looking up at Sangwoo with red, liquid eyes.
Sangwoo looks back at him, still smiling that impossible smile. He leans in, pressing his lips lightly against Bum's. “You're horny, now, aren't you?” he asks softly, tracing the line of his jaw in short, barely wet kisses, “You want it.”
“I... don't,” Bum whines, squeezing his eyes and shaking his head. But he knows he's lying. His body betrays him and he knows Sangwoo noticed it.
“Yes, you do,” he chuckles, as a matter of fact. He slips a hand between his closed thighs and lets it slide upwards, from his knees to his crotch. He stops there, though, laughing. “How many times do I have to tell you that will never happen?” he mocks him cruelly, “The mere thought makes me wanna puke. It's disgusting. You're disgusting.”
Bum closes his eyes, pain spreading through him carried by his very blood, as intense as it'd be if Sangwoo was beating him. Stop, he thinks. Stop saying these mean things. God, please, stop. I can take the beating, I can take the torture, I can take the constant pain in my legs, the chains, the women's clothes, but I cannot, I absolutely cannot take one more mean word from you, so please, please, please, say something nice.
I beg you, say something nice.
And as if he had heard him, and as if he cared about it, even though Bum knows both things are impossible, Sangwoo does it.
“Open your eyes,” he says kindly, “Let me look at them.” Bum does it, and Sangwoo smiles, stroking his cheek. “Shit, when you look at me like that I can barely contain myself.” He touches himself, one hand sliding down his chest above his t-shirt, stopping at his crotch. He cups his own half-formed erection between his fingers, stroking it slowly. “It makes me so horny,” he adds.
For a second, Bum feels as if his heart's going to burst. An intense, burning pain invades his chest and leaves him completely breathless for a moment. It's fear peaking, reaching its highest level, the highest it can reach before breaking him.
Then his body processes it, as it's learned to process everything else. He used to marvel at it, in the beginning. At how much his body could take, how adaptable it could be. Now he doesn't marvel anymore. He doesn't marvel at anything anymore.
He breathes out and licks his lips as he watches Sangwoo bare his now fully erect cock and hold it between his fingers. He keeps it pointed towards him like a weapon.
“Touch it,” he says. Bum does it – trembling fingers wrapping around the hard shaft, stroking it slowly. Sangwoo closes his eyes and tilts his head backwards, his hips moving together with Bum's fingers, following their lead. He likes it, Bum knows that. When he's so lost inside physical pleasure Bum could do anything to him, choke him, stab him, slit his throat.
And yet, he does nothing of the likes. And after all, isn't this the reason why Sangwoo allows himself to stop keeping him in control to begin with? Just because he knows at this point Bum wouldn't move a finger against him?
“I want you to suck it, Bum,” Sangwoo's voice seems hesitant for a moment, Bum can't understand if it is because he didn't wanna say the words or because pleasure's already taking him over.
“But you told me I'm still bad at it...” he answers, trying to fight his own urge to instantly lean in and take him in his mouth, “I don't wanna ruin it.”
Sangwoo lets out a breathless laughter, placing a hand on Bum's head, to push him down. “Practice makes perfect,” he says. Then he shoves it in his mouth.
He keeps thinking to himself, how can he find this sexy? I'm in pain. I'm terrified. How can this be sexy for him?
Then he realizes. He's in pain. He's terrified. That is exactly what Sangwoo finds sexy about him.
He thinks about it, while Sangwoo lies on his back next to him, checking his phone and singing softly under his breath, and there's a part of him telling him, that's the greatest form of love you will ever be able to experience.
That part of him is even grateful about it, and that's what breaks him the most.
“Well, time to get up,” Sangwoo says, sitting straight and putting his phone away. He turns to look at him, smiling happily as if what just happened between them had been a regular sex session between regular lovers. “Come on,” he encourages him, offering his hand, “I'll wash you and dress you up.”
Bum holds that hand, clings to its warmth. Soon, Sangwoo will go out and leave him alone, and there will be time, then, to miss him, and loathe himself because he misses him. For now, he can pretend that's not a problem. He can pretend he believes the lie of Sangwoo's smile. He can pretend he's okay with this. He can't pretend he's not scared anymore.