A/N: X-posted to my devart. Enjoy.


Smolder and Burn


The police car moves slowly over the gravel. I can see you there in the back seat; sitting, staring. Your eyes like two smoldering embers, reaching into me... I can smell the smoke. I wrap the blanket tighter around me, try to break our gaze, but I can't. I can only stop looking once the flashing red and blue lights recede in the distance, making the ones still shining here seem a little less bright.

In some bizarre way, I feel a little less safe now. You are out there in the world; doesn't matter that there are two police officers guarding you. I know you, in a way nobody ever should. I think you could probably escape and come find me if you really wanted to. You're the type of guy who would wait patiently until he could, too.

I feel the bile rising, so I lean past the EMT and throw up. Stomach acid burns my throat raw. Everything feels this way, inside and out.

--

My fist connects with your jaw, hard. For a moment, you're thrown. Then you lean back in, hands wrapped loosely around my neck. A thin string of blood oozes over your bottom lip, and falls on my shirt. You smile; joyful. And then you knock my head into the ground. I am terrified.

I try again.

--

I wake up four months later and you are still with me. In my head, where it matters. My hand bumps the alarm clock as I reach for the pills on my bedside table. I shake the bottle and they rattle around inside, trapped.

There's a sudden, hurried tapping, and I clutch the pill bottle to my chest. It's just the rain starting up. I see a flash of lightening outside my window. I take a pill, swallow it dry.

I'm almost disappointed. I've been waiting.

--

I'm losing air fast; your grip is tightening.

My hand snakes out awkwardly past your knee, up to the edge of the coffee table. I can't quite feel relief when I find it; it's not over yet. The empty wine bottle is heavy in my hand. The first time it comes down on your head, you seem to be surprised, and nothing more. You smile again. The second time it comes down, you slump over onto me. I'm free; I can breathe again.

Your weight on me feels strangely comfortable...

--

I am at the park when I see you again. My little cousin Amber is playing on the swings. We are laughing and smiling as I am pushing her, helping her go higher and higher. I look up, and there you are leaning against a tree, arms crossed. Watching.

I think maybe I'm going crazy. Those eyes...

Amber says something. I look down at her; she's stopped swinging.

'Time to go home,' I say. She doesn't put up much of a fight, and runs off to get her jacket where she left it on the bench. I follow quickly after her. When I look up again, you are still there, this time smoking. No cheesy, horror movie-style disappearing act for you. You want me to know that you are here, and that you are watching.

After Amber is safe at home with my uncle, I come back to the park. I sit on the bench, look at the tree where you no longer are. And I wait.

--

You look at me when they walk you out to the car. We look at each other. I can feel your hands like they never left my throat. I will have bruises there long after these ones have faded away.

--

The bench creaks beside me, but I don't look yet. The sun is setting to my left, and I want to put off looking at you for as long as I can. I'm not even sure why we're playing this game.

Finally, your hand reaches out. You take my chin and turn my face toward yours. This has always been on your terms. I close my eyes. You chuckle at me, a soft rumble in your throat. Almost like a growl. Now I can look at you, so I do.

Your hand drops from my face, and you pull a cigarette out of a beat up pack of Marlboros, offer me one. I shake my head 'no'. You light it. The flame dances around, and I am entranced. I remember that my dad used to smoke. I always loved the smell of cigarettes before they were lit; left the lingering scent of raisins.

I take a deep breath, and all I can smell is acrid smoke. 'I hope you get cancer.'

'Lovely to see you again, too, my dear.' I want to wipe that stupid smirk off of your face. Instead, I shift further down the bench.

'Why are you here?' Off in the distance, I can see a boy maybe a few years younger than me. He's skating up and down the street, like there's nothing wrong anywhere.

I am so afraid of your answer.

Your hand comes down gently on my head; my hair is shorter than it was when we first met, but you run your fingers through it anyway. 'Wanted to see you, love.' Cringing, I lean forward, trying to get away. You pull me back. Not rough, but not gentle. Forcefully. You lean in real close, until I can feel your hot breath on my ear, and you whisper. 'I missed you.'

Just as quickly, you're sitting back smoking, hands to yourself. And I am left hunched over and quivering. I want so badly to cry, but I can't. I won't. You always have the upper hand, and it kills me.

This heavy silence bears down on me until you speak again.

'Gave me quite a lump on my head, I must admit.' Another long draw on the cancer-stick, and then you put it out on the bottom of your boot. I don't know why; I guess just 'cause you can. 'You... well, you're my favorite, love.'

'I think I'm gonna vomit.' I say it with sarcasm, but just the tiniest bit of truth. I don't want to be your anything. I don't want you to mean anything to me, but you do. Irrevocably, you do.

'See?!' You sound excited now, giddy. 'That's what I'm on about! All the other girls... nah. Just begged for their lives, tried to bribe me. Hell, one of 'em I killed just to get her to shut up.' You laugh at this like it's funny. And if this were a movie or a dream, I might just laugh too. But this queasy feeling in my gut tells me I'm not dreaming this all, so I frown at the ground instead.

You slide closer to me on the bench, wrapping your arm around my shoulders while I squirm. 'But you... You fought me, every inch of the way. Didn't just lay down an' die, no; that was never an option for you.' Your other hand comes around and rests on my head, stroking my hair.

--

When I feel like there is nothing left in me, I am wrong.

I lean forward, like I enjoy your hands in my hair. I slam my head into yours violently. Get up and stumble down the hall.

--

'Remember what I did last time?' I ask, leaning into it. I can smell you now. A scent that I will remember on my death bed, because I'm afraid that I actually like it.

You laugh and lean away, leaving only your arm around my shoulders. For the first time, I smile up at you, though it's more out of anger than anything. I hurt you. You know I'll do it again if you give me the chance.

And then you're staring into me again. Smoldering, burning. Fire raging through every part of me. I don't know what to feel.

...I don't know if I want to feel.

Suddenly you lean down and press your lips to mine. In less than a second it seems, I am devoured by you. Mind. Body. Soul. I know for certain now; I am not myself anymore. You've changed me, and I'll thank you for it. And hate you for it.

When you pull away, I feel empty; numb. Bereft of everything. Every emotion out there on the grass, laid bare for you to see, and you alone.

Your face still close to mine, you lean in further, your lips just barely grazing mine. 'I will find you,' you say, and I know you mean it. 'I will find you again, no matter where you go. You will always, always belong to me.'

And with that, you leave me sitting alone on a park bench at night. The street lights come on, but I don't get up yet. I can't. I feel like I don't exist anymore. I'm so twisted inside now, and you saw me. You see me.

--

I hear sirens in the distance.

I don't move to push you off of me. I probably couldn't if I tried, but that's not why I don't. I'm staring at the gash on the top of your head. I sweep back some of your hair, and blood oozes out of the cut. I did that, and for a moment I am proud.

My only thoughts as the officers pull you off of me are how strange it is that blood smells like iron. How this is your blood on my shirt, and not mine.