A hollow silence passed while Casper hid beneath the covers. Too empty. All he could hear was his own panicked breaths and the broken cackling of the ghoul inside his head. Cain’s voice, when he spoke, clashed so harshly against those nightmare sounds that Casper flinched.
“Fine. I’ll leave you alone then.”
Inside his brain, the ghoul screeched. Casper’s petulant cry came muffled by his hands. “I don’t want you to go!” Cain shifted behind him. Leaving. A jolt shot through his chest and Casper cried into his cupped hands. “Don’t go!”
What was that about rock fucking bottom?
I don’t want to be alone.
“Cas, I’m not—” Even Psycho sounded bewildered. “I don’t understand.”
“Why don’t you want to touch me?”
“Even you don’t want to touch me! I’m dirty. I’m s—so fucking—”
“Cas—Cas, love—” Cain’s hand gripped his shoulder through the covers. So hard not to scream and throw it off. “It’s not that, love—”
“Cas, it’s not. I swear. I—I just—I know you’re not doing it because you love me. I want it to be real...” Heartbreak stained Cain’s voice and tears must glisten in his eyes. Around his shuddering breaths, Casper grinned. So easy. “Look—”
The grip on Casper’s shoulder lifted, and spurred by the heart-jerking loss, Casper let out a wail. Behind him, Cain hissed, that gentle tone fumbling from his grasp. “For fuck’s... What do you want, Cas? Because I bloody well know you don’t want to fuck me. Not really.”
Casper sniffled and curled deeper on himself. Something tanged sharp at the top of his throat, and still that thick, acid-copper taste hung there in a glut. “I don’t want anything. Go away.”
“You just bloody—” Cain broke off with a hiss and his weight shifted. Not enough for him to be going. When he spoke again, he’d recovered a glimmer of calm. “You told me not to go, Cas. Please just tell me what you want.”
I want you to let me go. I want time to spin back so I can jump before you fucking show up. I want to have never sold my soul for fifty quid. I want to never have been born.
Another sniffle, hiccup catching in his throat as he pushed his face deeper into his hands. The ache hung so heavy around him and the sheets suffocated him like six foot of grave dirt on his face.
“I just want someone to h—hold— I want a hug.”
A deep sigh, aching with tragedy, and this time when the bed shifted, it came with the covers being tugged free of his slackening grip. Light snapped at his eyes and a chill breath needled at his scalp. Casper whimpered and curled deeper into himself.
I want it to all go away.
“Cas…” Cain’s fingers brushed Casper’s hair back from his temple, not cold, but still strange in how … lukewarm they were. Like a hot drink left out too long. “I can do that, love—”
“Don’t call me that.”
Cain’s fingers flinched but didn’t draw away. “Alright. I’m sorry… Do you just want a hug, or do you want me to stay?”
“Stay.” This is your worst yet, you pathetic fucking roach. “Under the covers.”
Oh, and there had to be a smile then, a dim echo of the old ones to go with the way Cain’s fingers scratched against Casper’s scalp. “Alright, Cas. That sounds good.”
And the smile must widen now. Enough that it touched Cain’s voice with a hint of teasing. “Nothing more though.”
“Now. I want to go to sleep.”
While Cain slipped out of bed and got undressed, Casper shivered with the tension slipping from his muscles. The shuddering breath eased out and when it calmed, he wiped his hands over his eyes. Dry.
Cain frowned as Casper twisted to look over his shoulder at him, and Casper had to fight back the ghoulish smirk. What? Had he been expecting tears?
It was a stupid perfect body on him, stood there all adorably awkward with his expensive trousers hanging from his hand and boxers, loose and short, bunched mouth-watering at the very top of his thighs. Casper didn’t think he’d ever seen quite so delectable a pair of legs, enough to put a knot in his tongue and dry out his throat.
His stomach lurched and he tore his eyes back up to safer territory while the ghoul whined at the back of his mind, black-clawed hand groping around between its legs. A sharp line scratched between Cain’s drawn brows as he studied Casper’s face.
“Are you coming?” It was a deadened rasp, ringing hollow. Casper had to quell the twitch at his lips again seeing that withdrawal in Cain.
With a self-conscious shift of his feet, Cain crossed his arms over his chest, tilting awkwardly into the bend of his spine. There was something strange in it, as if he compensated for some flaw that wasn’t there. Where could that come from? I hope one of his lost boys told him he looks bad naked.
“I—” Cain broke off as soon as he began. His hand tightened in the fabric of his trousers.
Was he not going to come? Casper’s leg twitched and a shudder ran up through his spine. A shudder that sent a lance of pain up through his neck, fierce and sudden enough that he had to bite back a cry. Cain’s hesitance faltered and he started toward Casper. Except in the way you slow and stop when the strobe light falls across a stranger you’d thought you knew, Cain’s steps fell short.
Silent. Looking at Casper as if there were something else behind his face.
The black-hole eyes and gaping maw of the ghoul.
Tightness gripped Casper’s chest and he twisted his hands through the sheet. The taut pleading came just as easily to his face now as it did when he worked. Fake it ’til you make it, Roach darling. “Cain? Please? I—I don’t want to sleep by myself.”
The resistance crumbled. Cain’s trousers fluttered to the floor as he climbed onto the bed and crawled over. Casper’s fucking heart fluttered too. Like the butterfly corpses in his stomach twitched in death.
It was so much better than holding the covers when Cain wrapped his arms around him, still almost warm. Cain eased himself under the duvet beside Casper and bundled him up. All the corpses of those butterflies spasmed now, an undead torrent in his throat that gasped sick in the pit of his stomach. Casper choked on a moan and pressed his face into Cain’s chest.
Hushing his whimpers, Cain scratched his fingers against Casper’s scalp. His breath as he buried his face in Casper’s hair tickled, light and cool as a summer breeze. A chuckle drifted with it when Casper butted his head into Cain’s fingers and that tickled even more. Th sensation and the squeeze Cain gave him almost made Casper smile.
It was so easy to pretend.
Together, they sunk back into the pillows and Casper squirmed around to curl up against Cain’s side. With the strong arms around him and the gentle rise and fall of his chest, it was almost like being back in that heaven. Casper sighed and rubbed his cheek against his smooth skin. Those long fingers slid down his back and lips pressed against the top of his head. So warm…
“Yes, m—Yes, Cas?”
“Don’t be here when I wake up. Looking at you makes me sick and I can only stand it ’cause I still feel like I’m dead.”
All that soft ease around him stiffened up and Cain’s hand tightened in his hair. “Oh.”
Flat. A dead fish slapping against the water. Casper squeezed his eyes shut and hid his face from the blazing sunlight in Cain’s taut chest, smiling. The warmth suffused every inch of him now, slow and heavy and dreamy. Darkness edged his mind.
“It’s so nice here,” Casper slurred, and with a choked shudder, the tension fled out of Cain’s body, everywhere but the arms that tightened around Casper like a vice. Breath gasped against Casper’s hair like the world would end when he let go.
A sting touched Casper’s eyes and he dug his fingers into Cain’s chest, twining their legs tight together. Cain hushed him again when his leg twitched and a tremor gripped him, and slow, his voice raw and trembling, he began to croon that nonsense song.
“Why d’you have to be crazy?” Casper could barely hear himself slurring out the words over the patter of Cain’s heart and the haze of sleep in his mind. “You’re so perfect I wanna die, ‘cause you’re the only lil’ bit of hope I’d ever had. ’Least I can die lookin’ at the stars.”
They’d been so bright last night, like flickers of dreams in the darkness of sleep. A million years ago and a million years away and from here ’til there, a million miles of freedom. Just like those rolling hills and how the air out there must smell after it rained.
It was right there, but Cain would keep him locked in here until he killed him, shut away from the sun and the flowers and the bright, clean rain.
I can’t die like this.
The dark closed around his head as his heart began to pound.
I want to die under the stars.