The Stains Beneath Our Skin {mxm}

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Breaking & Entering

Before Cain could finish the sick violence that drizzled from his lips, Casper twisted out from between him and Jack. The movement of their precious little trophy finally drew their attention out of this shitty machismo dick-swinging.

It was so fucking loud, the traffic and the voices just drilled into his goddamn skull. All these grey-wash buildings closed in on him like the sky collapsed onto the street and drowned him in those murky clouds. Casper clutched his arms across his chest, the wind whipping the smoke off his cigarette into his eyes. He staggered back a few steps until the leash around his wrist arrested him.

“Just fucking shut up!”

Cain and Jack both looked down him, vacant faced, raised eyebrows.

“Cassie—” Cain started, a tart edge to the way he pronounced Casper’s name.

It made him fucking sick. His voice broke at the edges of his shout. “I said shut up! We—” Casper jabbed his finger at Cain, the cigarette a burning spear wielded against a giant— “are not fucking friends. So fuck off. And you—” at Jack now, who’s face at only darkened with each cracking word Casper forced up his throat—“You have no fucking right to tell me off for being around anyone when you fucking broke up with me. I’m fucking sick of you snapping things off the second you get upset and leaving me to fucking drown until you get your head on straight and—and just swan back in whenever like nothing fucking well happened! I’m sick of it! I’m—”

“Nah, fuck off, Cas.” Jack shoved away from the shop window, looming over Casper. His shoulders were tombstone squared and a snarl bared his teeth – wolfish not for its brashness now, but for its bite. At the edges of Casper’s vision, the tide flowing past caught riptides as people slowed and stared. “Is it fuck like that. If you gave a fuck about me it wouldn’t take you half a fucking night to find some other guy to—”

“I’m not fucking him!” Casper screamed. “You’re just a—”

Jack cut over him easily. He always did. “Oh yeah, is it fuck like that. I got one fucking name for you, Cas—” Oh for fuck’s—“Levi.” Jack pronounced it like a curse, and he curled his lip when Casper flinched from it. He always fucking brought that one up, no matter that it had been nearly a fucking year ago and after Jack had kicked him out anyway. Casper shivered, his throat clutching at itself, and wrapped his arms tight over his chest against a sudden wave of cold. Jack snorted at whatever piteous thing he saw in Casper’s withdrawal. “Yeah, that’s fucking right. And I know you—”

A tide of rot drowned Casper’s senses right the same time as Cain seized his arm. Long fingers ground the bones in his forearm together as Cain yanked it up, dragging Casper around. It strained in Casper’s shoulder, but the protest died as soon as he caught sight of Cain’s face.

Everything died. The sound, the street, the filthy fucking stink. None of it left but Cain looming over him inches away with pure fucking fear slathered across his face.

Casper’s blood ran cold. And it sure didn’t feel like a figure of speech.

The roar of the traffic faded into the background, all of Casper’s senses consumed by the taut fear drenching Cain’s face. His mouth worked, but all he could form was the question implicit in Cain’s name.

“C—”

“What did he look like?” Cain demanded. His long coat billowed around Casper’s ankles and while Casper’s mouth flapped like it blew in a goddamn breeze too, Cain jerked his arm again, a wordless hiss sliding through his bloodless lips. “I asked what he fucking well looks like, Casper. Tell me. NOW!”

“Fuck!” What the fuck was this? What the fuck had Cain’s face that shade of white and his eyes like the rolling orbs of an animal jammed in the slaughter? A heartbeat silent, and Cain made the same tight, furious sound, yanked Casper closer—

“Alright!” The words babbled from Casper’s lips. His heart pounded in his chest and the fucking corpse stink drowned him. “Alright! Fucking hell, he—he was this fucking blonde guy, like—like kinda ass-ugly, tall as you and twice as…” Casper trailed off as Cain’s grip loosened. The rigid fear slackened as he pressed a hand to it, fingers splayed across his face and a tremble in each one of them. “Twice as hench,” Casper mumbled, and then louder, his voice cracking, “Cain, what the fuck? What’s your—”

Casper didn’t get a chance to finish. Cain’s hand dropped from his face. Still with those wide eyes, coltish as they skitted over the street, but now, his jaw was set to concrete, so tight the bone jutted in the plane of his cheek. Cain glanced Jack, whose mouth hung loose – and that sure said a lot for how mushed his brain was – and he spun on his heel, his coat the flare of a funeral shroud in the buffeting wind. His grip hoisted Casper’s forearm up high, and Casper had no choice but to stumble along after him, struggling to keep his feet beneath him while Cain strode off down the street.

“Let me go!”

Behind him, Jack shouted his name. Casper strained to look over his shoulder. The crowds closed in where he and Cain had walked, and Jack shoved between the gormless flock of sheep, their vacant eyes fixed the spectacle.

Cain didn’t stop. His grip dug so deep into Casper’s arm the bruise already ached, and against those fingers and the gnawing teeth of ice grinding into his bones, there was no escaping that hold. Casper’s heart throbbed in his throat and all the sweat gathered beneath his collar had turned horribly cold.

The cigarette still dangled loose from his fingers, burnt down to the filter. Casper dropped it and slapped Cain’s arm. “Cain, fuck off! Let me go!”

Asshole didn’t even look. The intent as he stalked down the street, dragging Casper like wayward baggage, swallowed him whole.

They reached a row of houses. Every door and window they passed rattled in its frame. One. Two. Three. Four. The fifth, the door flew open, smashing against the wall, and Cain hauled Casper through the little concrete garden and shoved through the front door.

It slammed behind them and drowned in a miasma of stinking black

Silence, for a moment, the pulsing of blood in Casper’s ears and both of their breathing heavy and ragged in this narrow little hall. Cain towered amongst the clutter; the strewn mess of his hair brushed an ugly hanging lamp. Cain’s eyes were fixed on Casper, but they didn’t seem to see, the brown ringed by slick whites.

A beat. Footsteps upstairs. Hammering knocks exploded on the door, and straining through it, the muffled sound of Jack’s shouts.

Cain jabbed his finger at Casper, stooping low so that his growl brushed cool air against Casper’s lips. “You’re not fucking well coming out again.”

Casper exploded. “What is your fucking problem? Who’s fucking house is this, Cain? What the—”

Screaming burst upstairs, drowning Casper’s hoarse shout, but even that didn’t give this cunt the right to turn away. Not all fucking dramatic and elegant like that with a sweep of black wool and a vicious strike of his fist into the drywall. Cain trailed spat words Casper didn’t understand as he shouldered his way into the living room. The leash that dragged Casper along hardly chilled him against the frost eating up this home.

Cain crouched in the middle of the living room, paper and child’s toys and clothes thrown as if by a whirlwind out to the very edges of the room and in the middle, carpet torn aside, Cain struck at the wood with a stick of chalk.

This was mad.

Casper rubbed his hands over his face, eyes squinted against the hammering on the door and the screeching from upstairs. This was completely fucking mad. Some fucking circle full of symbols and crazy shit, and Cain scratched it out with a fevered drive that swallowed the whole room in cold and rot.

“You’re actually just a fucking psycho,” Casper said into his cupped hands. “Oh my fucking god.”

“Oh yes, Casper, love.” Cain didn’t take his eyes off his crazy scribblings, stabbing at the mouldy old floor with the chalk. “I’m a total fucking psychopath, I’m sure, but forgive me if I couldn’t give two fucking shits what you think of me right now because I bloody well know it hasn’t changed an inch. This way—”

Cain sliced a sharp line across the width of the circle and stood up, shoving the chalk back into his pocket as he turned to Casper, his cheeks reddened and his hair still a mess of loose locks and strands stuck to his forehead.

Cain stepped in close with his long coat thrown back behind him. The white collar of his shirt hung loose and Casper glimpsed the smooth milky planes of his chest. “This fucking way, you’re safe. I don’t give two fucks what you think of me, because all of this—” Cain’s voice climbed as he spoke, but it didn’t hit at a roar, not quite – it broke around the edges like all that panic still spasming through his face was an inch from breaking into a scream. “It’s all because I want to bloody well keep you safe! And you aren’t safe out here, not where they can get to you! I just can’t bloody do it, Cas. We’re going home. That’s it. End of discussion.”

Bitterness swelled on Casper’s tongue and he scuffed his boot against the carpet. There was no point. Jack still hammered on the door, but he might as well be screaming down the phone a hundred miles away. “So you’re just going to keep me ’til I die in there instead, right?”

A strangled laugh choked from Cain’s throat, and in a sharp movement, he seized Casper’s wrist in a bruising grip. The wildness in his features lunged up to a breaking point around that razor-sharp grin. “Yes, Casper. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, and trust me, love, you’d rather die safe inside with me where nothing can hurt you and they can’t get in, because that—” his finger jabbed at nothing—“is better than anything they have planned to do to you. I’m not failing you again, Cas. I can’t watch it happen again.”

Cain didn’t give him a chance to reply. With a jerk, he hauled Casper forward into the centre of the chalked circle. It stunk worse in here. Just a couple of steps different, but the rot surged down his throat like vomit. Gagging, Casper slapped his hand to his mouth and nose, smothering out the putrid stink of it. Where his breath escaped past his sleeved hand, it crystallised in the musty air.

Mad. It was all fucking mad. This fresh paranoia slapped Casper’s mind so hard all he could do was blink at the door back through to the hall. Ten metres away, his last glimpse of freedom vanished in the black smog between him and the only person who’d at least almost cared.

“I’m sorry, Jack,” Casper whispered into his sleeve. His shattered voice trembled just the same as every inch of him.

Cain made a wet sound in the back of his throat, somewhere between laughter and some pitiful sob. Without releasing his grip, he crouched down and pressed his fingers to the centre of the circle.

A flash of black. Cold that plunged into his bones. All sense torn away, and in the jagged emptiness, Casper screa—

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