The Stains Beneath Our Skin {mxm}

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Guilty Conscience

Biting his lip, Casper turned from the bookshelf. Cain had leant against the desk, fingers massaging his temple. The ghoul squatted behind him atop drifts of paperwork, lapping at the last flakes of the dried blood on his neck. Gross. Fucking degenerate couldn’t even stick to the fresh stuff. Now Casper looked closer, there was another patch just poking out from under his shirt sleeve on the back of Cain’s elbow.

The meeting of their gazes prompted Cain out of his glum staring. He straightened. The crack of his neck cut through the silence and he rubbed it with a grimace. “What do you want, Casper? I’m busy.”

Ouch. And shame on you for that being ouch at all, you worm. Casper should really just leave. This was so fucking stupid, and Cain clearly didn’t give a shit at all.

It was the forcing himself on Cain, wasn’t it? Not a pure little lost boy anymore. Just a fucking whore. Fuck, he should have felt like a whore after doing that. It was gross. Repulsive. A far too familiar nausea twisted through Casper’s gut, the hand of shame pushing his head into the stinking dirt. It came like breathing, but so much worse because it had … god, he hadn’t felt like this in days now. But he should have. He deserved to feel this crawling on his skin because he deserved to be treated that way. He’d shown himself that now, hadn’t he? Even mister fucking obsessive nut thought Casper was too dirty to waste his time on.

Casper couldn’t quite lift his voice above the creaking whisper as he spoke to the floor. “I’m sorry.” He picked at his nail, a sting lifting as he found rough skin to peel at. “About the other day. I’m—I’m just—”

“Cas…” A sigh in that voice, and just the touch of someone else’s words was enough to slaughter his just as they stumbled out the kiddie pen, half-born good intentions ground to a bloodbath of rot and failure. One just like the entirety of him. “Please don’t apologise. I’m the one who’s sorry, love. I didn’t—I should never have touched you like that. I know damn well you don’t want me to, and you told me you didn’t want me to, and I—I just lost it. I don’t think you should sleep with me anymore, Cas. I don’t want to hurt you. In any way.”

Fuck. Casper ripped the piece of skin off his nail, gritting his teeth at the sting. Cain probably looked even more fucking dejected than Casper did now – all slumped shoulders and his hair hanging in a cropped curtain before his bowed head. Stupid ghoul just rubbed its face against Cain’s neck making soft noises in its throat like this wasn’t its idea anyway.

Some uncomfortable tightness encased Casper’s chest. Not like it was any good with Cain feeling miserable and not talking to Casper. That wouldn’t get him anywhere. That was it, right? Casper curled his toes in the soft rug as he forced the croak up his throat.

“It’s not your fault.” Cain’s shoulders twitched and he lifted his head just enough to frown at Casper. “That’s what I was trying to do. I’m just—I’m just really fucked up, I’m sorry.”

“You—” Cain’s frown deepened and his fingers made that twist again, thumb running along the far side of his ring finger. “I thought I—”

“You didn’t do anything I wasn’t trying to get you to do.”

Some of the colour drained out of Cain’s cheeks, a pallid undertone sitting sickly in his cheeks. His lips moved, no sound, and again he dragged his thumb across his ring finger, back and forth. Was that the crooked one? Casper hadn’t paid much attention to it other than to note that where all his fingers were perfectly straight, that one was bent a bit off at each knuckle and bowed through the whole length.

“I told you to stop.” A deep fissure of confusion ran through his voice, cracking it down the middle. “I—I thought I’d woken up just—”

Casper swallowed hard and scuffed his foot against the floor. “No, that was me. Seemed like—”

“Like I wouldn’t mind?” Casper flinched at the cut of Cain’s voice, one that ran deeper because that hadn’t crossed his mind at all. Seemed like it’d be fun for Roach Boy to get gropey to make you get rapey. How fucked up was he? Cain looked at him exactly the same way he’d be looking at himself now. Made him fucking sick. “Well, I bloody well did. I told you before I didn’t want to have sex with you, Cas. Twice. And again then.”

“I—I thought—”

“You’re not the only fucking one fucked up about sex, Cas, and maybe I’m fucking keeping you here, but I’d never bloody wake you up groping you. I won’t fuck you because I know damn fucking well how fucked it is even if you’re acting like you want to, and I still feel like that. I feel absolutely sick with myself.”

God, he couldn’t breathe. His mind reeled, struggling with these blocks Cain had just dumped on him, a truckload of them all chipped and battered. They all had a hole they fit in but there was a billion different fucking holes and he couldn’t tell where they went. “Cain.” Cracked. Casper cleared his throat and whet his lips with a flicker of his tongue. “Cain, I—“

“Just piss off, Cas. Just bloody leave me alone, alright?”

And he should. He really should. If this fucking nut wanted him to leave then he damn well should, shouldn’t he? But his feet wouldn’t move. Every time he’d woken up to one of those overnights groping him, he’d wanted to scream even though they were allowed. And he rolled over and laughed and fucked them anyway even though he just wanted to scratch their eyes out and crunch the fingers off those slithering hands between his teeth. Even Jack. Sometimes when he woke up to Jack groping him these days, the hands belonged to some sweaty, crooning stranger and Casper only stifled the cry because it felt like the place he was supposed to be.

This was different, but…

You’re not the only fucking one fucked up about sex.

Cain’s words made him feel filthy, and not in a familiar way.

Casper took a deep shuddering breath and crept across the carpet to Cain whose face was hidden, buried away in his hands. “Cain?”

“I told you to go away.”

God this was so stupid. Look how messed up he was that he managed to make his fucking psycho kidnapper feel violated. Why should Casper feel bad about making him feel like he’d treated him badly?

Because Cain had told him to stop, no matter the reasons, and Casper of everyone should know better than that.

Casper slipped between Cain’s legs and pulled his hands away from his face. His skin was so cold. The heat swelling from the crackling hearth chased out the ice, but it was still wrong. The way a hot drink left on the side too long can go colder than the summer day around it. “Cain, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that, I’m just—” A shuddering breath, and he pressed his forehead against Cain’s taut hands. A cool salve against the nauseating heat. His voice cracked as he spoke. “I’m really, really fucked up. Like you have no idea how messed up I am, and I really, really shouldn’t have done that. You’re right I don’t really want it, but I—I don’t know, like maybe it’s some validation thing. Maybe that’s why I fuck myself up like this when I could just—just fucking deal drugs or something, I don’t know, but I’m sorry.”

Slow, Cain twisted his wrists free of Casper’s hands. For a moment, his heart dropped, but then Cain twined their fingers together instead, squeezing Casper’s hands tight even if he didn’t yet show his face, just shifted so his forehead rested on Casper’s shoulder.

“I’d never forgive myself if I did that to you, Cas. I’m already never going to forgive myself, but that—” A shudder ran through Cain, hands spasming tight on Casper’s. “I just want to give you a place to feel safe, love. It’s the least I can do for you.”

“You have.”

Cain’s head snapped up, his eyes wide and wet around the edges. “What?”

It’s like that, is it, Roach? Casper pursed his lips and looked down at their clasped hands. Maybe it was like that, but it was damn hard to make himself say it the second time. All part of the master plan though, ain’t it, Roach? All part of the game. Felt too damn honest for the game. The line was already only a murkier grey amongst the fog. But it’s got to feel real to him too. As long as Casper kept his head and remembered the end, how much did it matter if that line smeared out of existence?

“I feel safe here,” Casper whispered. “With you. I—I fucking hate you, but it’s—it’s been so long. Since I felt safe. At peace.”

“Cas…” So thick that word, and it put a flush of warmth through his chest as Cain slipped his arms around his waist and pulled him in close.

“I didn’t have any nightmares while I slept with you,” Casper whispered.

“No… No, you didn’t. I didn’t notice…”

“I slept on your bed last night because it felt safer than mine. I’m sorry I fucked it up, I just want to sleep with you again. I want to wake up with you properly like … like after I—after I tried—you know, after I did that. And you were holding me and singing to me and—and it was so, so nice. I thought I’d woken up in heaven, you know?”

A wet sound almost like a sob choked up Cain’s throat. He buried his face in Casper’s hair and the dampness of tears touched Casper’s scalp. Cain didn’t say anything. For a long time, neither of them did and Casper tried to make himself forget all the horrible things that had gone in between and pretend it was that night outside his flat again and instead of leaving, Cain had come upstairs with him and warmed up his food and held him in the dark until he fell to sleep. He pretended he’d told Jack to fuck off and gone on that date, and it had been as magical as the night above the city and they’d gone on and fallen in love and Cain had stolen him away the right way, away from that life so they could live out their days blissfully happy together.

But it wasn’t that way, and Casper was a fucking mess and it never would have been. If Cain hadn’t kidnapped him on the bridge, maybe he’d have fallen in with him for a week or two but as soon as Jack came back to his flat, he’d be gone.

After what felt like an age, Cain sighed against his ear. Almost warm now and so lovely against his skin, as was the tickle of the words that followed it. “Do you want dinner, love? I … must admit I haven’t really eaten much recently.”

Funny that. Casper had eaten more here than he ever had. Not a huge amount but regularly and healthily. R2 was a good cook for a mutating shape of magical energy. Casper smiled and rubbed his cheek against Cain’s chest. “Were you sulking?”

“I was not sulking!”

“You were sulking. Also—” Casper eased back and lifted Cain’s arm up, tugging the sleeve back from his elbow. The streak of blood extended well up the back of his arm, flaking and crusted. “Looks like someone didn’t turn out so well for it.”

“What?” Cain twisted his arm up, and as soon as he caught sight of the blood, he groaned. “Oh for fuck’s— That’s not—“

“Someone else’s blood?”

“It’s not!”

Alright, that was stupidly adorable. Grinning, Casper lifted Cain’s arm and pressed a kiss to the streak of blood, flickering a glare up to the ghoul as he did. The thing better notice he wasn’t licking it like a fucking miscarriage. The ghoul hunkered down and licked it anyway, its long tongue twitching against Casper’s lip.

“So you were sulking and that’s someone else’s blood.” Casper glanced up at him with a grin. “Let’s go get dinner.”

And there were those eyes again. The ones with the sun trapped in the brightness of them, all smitten awe. Devouring. That told Casper two things: he’d done something violent to get it there, and whatever it was, it got his blood racing thinking Casper might like it just as much as he did. He knew that look very well. Jack got it all the damn time.

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